DECISION OF THE UMPIRES
37 A.H. / 658 A.D.
THE interval passed uneasily. Mu'awiya ruled in Syria; 'Ali, over the rest of the Muslim world. Neither, for the moment, interfered with the other. The Empire was for the moment in suspense.
Within the time appointed, 'Amr appeared at Duma, half way across the desert, and, shortly after, Abu Musa, each followed, as agreed upon, by a retinue of 400 horse. Thither also flocked multitudes from Al-'Irak and Syria, from Mecca also and from Medina. With intense interest they watched the strange proceeding, which was to decide the future of Islam. The leading chiefs, too, of Koreish were there; some with the distant hope that the choice might haply fall on one of them.
The umpires met in a pavilion pitched for the occasion; and there a private conference was held between the two alone. The account preserved is brief and uncertain. Abu Musa, pressed by his astute colleague, admitted that the assassination of 'Othman was a wicked and unjustifiable act. "Then why," rejoined 'Amr, "wilt thou not take Mu'awiya, the avenger of the Caliph's blood, for his successor?" "If it were a mere question of blood-feud or kinsmanship," said Abu Musa, "then 'Othman's sons would have the nearer claim but succession to the throne must be determined by the chief Companions' vote." 'Amr then proposed his own son. "A just and good man," replied Abu Musa, "but one whom thou hast already made to take sides in the civil war; and above all things we must beware of kindling mutiny again amongst the Arab tribes." A similar objection shut out 'Abdallah son
of Az-Zubeir; and Omar's son was put aside as not having qualities fitted for command. "Then," asked 'Amr, when all possible candidates had been named and negatived, "what may be the judgment thou wouldst give?" "My judgment," answered Abu Musa, "would be to depose both 'Ali and Mu'awiya, and then leave the people free to choose as Caliph whom they will."1 "Thy judgment is also mine," said 'Amr promptly; "let us go forth."
The people, in breathless expectation, crowded round the pavilion as the umpires issued from it. "Let them know," said 'Amr to his fellow, "that we are agreed." Abu Musa advanced, and with voice loud and clear, said: "We are agreed upon a decision such as, we trust, will reconcile the people, and reunite the empire." "He speaketh true," said 'Amr: "step forth, O Abu Musa, and pronounce thy judgment." Then spoke Abu Musa: "Ye people! we have considered the matter well. We see no other course for peace and concord, but to depose 'Ali and Mu'awiya, both one and other. After that, ye shall yourselves choose a fit man in their room. This is my judgment."
He stepped aside, and 'Amr advancing said : "Ye have heard the sentence of Abu Musa. He hath deposed his fellow; and I too depose him. But as for my chief, Mu'awiya, him do I confirm. He is the heir of 'Othman the avenger of his blood, and the best entitled as Caliph to succeed."
The assembly was thunderstruck. Even the Syrians had never dreamed of Mu'awiya achieving such a triumph nor had it entered the minds of those on 'Ali's side that their umpire could be overreached thus shamefully. "What could I do? " cried Abu Musa, assailed on every hand; "he agreed with me, then swerved aside." "No fault of thine," said Ibn al-'Abbas: "the fault of those who put thee in the place." Overwhelmed with reproaches Abu Musa escaped to Mecca where he thence forward lived in obscurity In the heat of indignation, the commander of the Al-Kufa bodyguard seized
1 Rather he wished to leave the choice to a Shura or Council
such as had elected 'Othman. Mu'awiya could afford to agree to this since he was not proclaimed
Caliph till the year 40 A.H. 'Ali on the other hand, claimed to be Caliph already. His refusal to
submit to the decision of a council was a breach of faith, and Wellhausen thinks the story in
the last paragraph was an invention of his party to hide his breach of faith, and lay the blame
on the arbiters.
1 Rather he wished to leave the choice to a Shura or Council such as had elected 'Othman. Mu'awiya could afford to agree to this since he was not proclaimed Caliph till the year 40 A.H. 'Ali on the other hand, claimed to be Caliph already. His refusal to submit to the decision of a council was a breach of faith, and Wellhausen thinks the story in the last paragraph was an invention of his party to hide his breach of faith, and lay the blame on the arbiters.
'Amr, and was roughly handling him, when the people interposed to set him free. 'Amr returned fortwith to Damascus, where by acclamation Mu'awiya was saluted Caliph, though he did not assume the title until some years later.
How the startling intelligence affected 'Ali, may be judged by the fact that to the prescribed daily service he now added a petition cursing by name Mu'awiya, 'Amr, and their chief adherents. Mu'awiya was nothing loth to follow his example. And so the world was edified by the spectacle of the two rival commanders of the Faithful uttering commination one against the other in the public prayers.1
1 The imprecation used by 'Ali was as follows: "O Lord,
I beseech Thee, let Mu'awiya be accursed, and 'Amr," and so on with the chief leaders by name.
Let them be accursed all!" Mu'awiya's imprecations, in the same way, included 'Ali, his sons
Al-Hasan and Al-Hosein, and Al-Ashtar.
1 The imprecation used by 'Ali was as follows: "O Lord, I beseech Thee, let Mu'awiya be accursed, and 'Amr," and so on with the chief leaders by name. Let them be accursed all!" Mu'awiya's imprecations, in the same way, included 'Ali, his sons Al-Hasan and Al-Hosein, and Al-Ashtar.
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