In the aftermath of the Battle of Siffeen, a new group emerged. Today, we call them Al-Khawarij, or Kharijites in English.
But at that time, they were known by different names.
Before they split from Ali, they were known as Al-Qurra, or The Reciters, because they were always reciting the Quran.
After the split, they took on a new name. They called themselves Ash-Shurah, or Those Who Were Sold, because they claim they sold their lives for Islam.
Whatever their name, one thing was clear: they had lost all faith in Ali.
They had fought for Ali because they believed he was the Caliph. When Aisha and Muawiyyah disobeyed him, they believed it was a sinful act that nullified Islam. In their extremist view, Aisha and Muawiyyah were hypocrites and should be treated as such.
However, on not one, but two occasions, Ali had the upper hand, and chose to go easy on them.
Ali defeated Aisha during the Battle of the Camel at Basra. He scattered her forces and recaptured Basra in less than a day.
Instead of executing the traitors, Ali let them go. He forgave them and even punished those who spoke out against Aisha.
On top of that, Ali didn’t let his soldiers claim any of the enemy’s wealth.
And then came the Battle of Siffeen. After weeks of negotiations, and several days of bloody fighting, it finally looked as if Ali would destroy the rebels.
Then Muawiyyah got the best of him.
Muawiyyah offered to stop fighting and find a solution in the Quran.
At first, the Khawarij had liked this idea. Let the Quran decide, they told Ali.
Since he was the rightful Caliph, there had to be some verses that would justify Ali’s claim. Once they found them, Muawiyyah would have no choice but to capitulate and repent for his sins.
But Ali let them down again.
To their horror, he agreed to let Abu Musa Al-Ashari represent him in arbitration with Muawiyyah’s counsel, Amr ibn Al-As.
The Khawarij believed that Ali had gone too far. He was letting men decide on matters that should be left with Allah.
The Khawarij did not return to Kufah with Ali. Instead, they settled in an area called Harura just outside the city. There, they declared both Ali and Muawiyyah had left Islam.
Their goal was simple. Gather enough strength and troops to overthrow both Ali and Muawiyyah. Then, build a new society based on the true practice of Islam.
Inside Kufah, Ali was frustrated with the Khawarij. It was bad enough dealing with rebellion outside of Iraq. Now he had to deal with a rebellion inside of Iraq.
But Ali was conflicted.
One the one hand, they had broken off from his leadership and were claiming that he had left Islam. Ali had battled Aisha and Muawiyyah over much less.
But on the other hand, these same malcontents had supported him from the beginning. They followed him into battle and fought and bled for him.
Ali could have easily crushed the Khawarij, but he wanted to avoid fighting at all costs.
So, he chose to reason with them instead. Perhaps logical, Islamic arguments would bring them back into the fold.
Ali sent for his closest advisor, Abdullah ibn Abbas.
Like Ali, Abdullah Ibn Abbas was a cousin of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). All three men shared the same grandfather, Abdul Muttalib.
Therefore, Prophet Muhammad’s father, Abdullah, Ali’s father, Abu Talib, and Ibn Abbas’ father, Abbas, were brothers.
Ibn Abbas was much younger than Ali, who in turn was much younger than Prophet Muhammad. Ibn Abbas was in his late thirties when Ali became Caliph. Ali was in his late fifties and Prophet Muhammad, were he still alive, would have been in his late eighties.
Ibn Abbas was a second-generation Sahabah. This generation included Ali’s sons Hassan and Husayn, Abdullah ibn Zubair, and Abdullah ibn Umar.
All of these men would play significant roles in Islam’s future.
When Ibn Abbas was first born, his mother took him to Prophet Muhammad to perform Takhneek.
Takhneek is an Islamic ritual where a male relative chews a bit of date and rubs it inside the newborn’s mouth. Presumably, this is so the first thing the child tastes is something sweet and gives them a pleasant character.
Just like Ali years earlier, Prophet Muhammad grew fond of Ibn Abbas. As a youth, Ibn Abbas served in the Prophet’s household, performing minor duties. The Prophet would often hug Ibn Abbas and prayed for Allah to bless him with knowledge and wisdom.
Those prayers would come true as Ibn Abbas became known as the Scholar of the Nation. Being so close to Prophet Muhammad gave him a unique opportunity to learn Islam at a young age. But his pursuit of knowledge continued even after the Prophet’s death.
Ibn Abbas was about fifteen years old when Prophet Muhammad passed. Ibn Abbas then took it upon himself to continue learning from the adult companions. He was known to wait for hours in front of a companion’s home just to ask him a question about Islam.
Ibn Abbas soon became a source of knowledge and wisdom himself. When Umar ibn Al-Khattab became Caliph, he invited Ibn Abbas to sit in his court.
Some of the older companions were surprised that the Caliph allowed this teenager to sit with them. Many of them had sons older than Ibn Abbas.
To prove his point, Umar put them all to a test. One day, he asked the companions about the meaning of Surah Al-Nasr, or the Chapter of Divine Help.
Surah Al-Nasr is the 110th chapter of the Quran, is very short, and discusses the rapid growth of Islam in Arabia.
In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
When the Victory of Allah comes and the Conquest, and you see people entering the religion of Allah in multitudes; then glorify Him with praises for your Lord and seek His forgiveness. He is ever accepting of repentance.
The older companions said it meant the conquest of Mecca or the victory of Islam over paganism.
Umar asked Ibn Abbas his opinion.
Ibn Abbas, then only about eighteen years old, said the chapter foretold the Prophet’s death. It was preparing him to leave this world.
Umar nodded and replied that is how he understood it as well.
From that point on, no one questioned Ibn Abbas’ wisdom.
Ibn Abbas was one of the first to support Ali. After Ali recaptured Basra in the Battle of the Camel, Ali made him the governor.
And now, in dealing with the Khawarij, Ali needed Ibn Abbas’ wisdom once more. Ali hoped Ibn Abbas could convince the Khawarij to return to his side.
The Khawarij had grown significantly since the Battle of Siffeen. Some estimates suggest they numbered as much as 12000.
At first, Ali was reluctant to send Ibn Abbas and feared for his safety. But Ibn Abbas brushed these concerns aside and replied: “I am a man of good morals who has never harmed anyone.”
Then, donning his best clothes, Ibn Abbas traveled to Harura to meet with the Khawarij.
Ibn Abbas was alarmed by what he saw. These young men were more religiously devoted than anyone he’d seen before.
They wore simple clothes, that were clean, but old and threadbare. Their ankles were swollen from standing in prayer for long periods. Their faces were dusty and tired from staying up all night in worship. The camp hummed like a beehive with their recitation of Quran.
In spite of their devotion, Ibn Abbas noticed that none of the Prophet’s companions were among them.
He met with the Khawarij leader, Abdullah ibn Al-Kawa, who was once Ali’s emissary to Syria. It was Ibn Al-Kawa’s poor diplomacy that heightened tensions between Ali and Muawiyyah and made the Battle of Siffeen inevitable.
Their conversation is one of the most famous theological debates in Islamic history.
“We disagree with him on three subjects,” replied Ibn Al-Kawa. “First, he agreed to arbitration in this matter when Allah is the only judge.”
He then recited chapter 6, verse 57 of the Quran:
“Say: ‘I am on clear proof from my Lord but you have rejected it. I do not have what you are asking for. Certainly, the judgement is only for Allah. He declares the truth and He is the best of deciders.”
“That’s one thing,” replied Ibn Abbas.
Ibn Al-Kawa continued.
“Second, he fought against the enemy, but did not take any plunder or captives. This means that Ali is either a murderer, or he is unjust. If the enemy was Muslim, then Ali had no right to fight them and that makes him a murderer. And if they were not Muslim, then he was unjust for not taking plunder and captives.”
“That’s the second,” said Ibn Abbas. “What’s the third?”
“When dealing with Muawiyyah, he did not use his title, Commander of the Believers. If he isn’t the Commander of the Believers, then he must be the Commander of the Disbelievers.”
“Is that it?” asked Ibn Abbas.
Ibn Al-Kawa nodded.
“If I respond to your arguments using the Quran, will you return to Ali?”
Ibn Al-Kawa agreed.
“As for Ali agreeing to arbitration, there’s nothing wrong with this. Allah commands us to use men in arbitration.” Ibn Abbas then recited chapter 5, verse 95 of the Quran which discusses the expiation for those who hunt during the Hajj.
“Oh you have believed, do not kill game while you are in the state of Ihram. And whoever among you kills it intentionally, the penalty is an equivalent from sacrificial animals to what he killed, as judged by two just men among you as an offering delivered at the Ka’bah.”
“Isn’t human blood more valuable than a rabbit’s?” asked Ibn Abbas.
Ibn Al-Kawa agreed.
“As for your second point,” Ibn Abbas continued, “you claim Ali is either a murderer or he is unjust. Tell me, would you take Aisha as a captive and do with her what is done with other female captives when she is like your mother?”
Ibn Al-Kawa and the Khawarij were struck with shame.
Ibn Abbas continued: “If you say ‘yes’ then you’ve committed disbelief. And if you say she’s not your mother, then you’ve committed disbelief.”
He then recited chapter 33 verse 6 of the Quran:
“The Prophet is more worthy of the believers than themselves, and his wives are their mothers.”
“Furthermore,” said Ibn Abbas, “the fact that Ali and Muawiyyah fought does not mean one of them is a disbeliever. The Quran confirms that two Muslim parties may fight each other.”
He recited chapter 49 verse 9 of the Quran.
“And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make peace between them. But if one of them transgresses on the other after that, then fight you all together against the transgressing faction until it complies with the command of Allah. And if it complies, then make peace between them with justice and be fair. Certainly, Allah loves those who are fair.”
Next, Ibn Abbas attacked the idea that Ali gave up the title of the Caliph, Amir Al-Mumineen.
This argument stemmed from an incident that took place when Ali was negotiating with Muawiyyah.
During the talks, Muawiyyah did not want to call Ali by the title “Amir Al-Mumineen” which means Commander of the Believers. If Ali was the commander, Muawiyyah argued, they wouldn’t have fought in the first place.
In order to keep the peace process moving forward, Ali agreed to be called by his name rather than by his title.
“You say he gave up the title of Amir Al-Mumineen,” said Ibn Abbas, “but the Prophet did something greater at Hudaybiyyah.”
Ibn Abbas was referring to a peace treaty between Prophet Muhammad and the pagan Quraish many years earlier. The Prophet could not write so Ali was designated to sign the treaty on his behalf.
Ali wrote Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah.
The Quraish disputed this point. Coincidentally, their arguments mirrored Muawiyyah’s.
They insisted Prophet Muhammad had to remove the phrase “Messenger of Allah.” After all, this was the whole point of their disagreement.
To keep the peace, Prophet Muhammad instructed Ali to remove the words.
But Ali refused. He could not bring himself to erase the Prophet’s title.
So, the Prophet asked that the words be pointed out and he erased them with his own hands. Then he signed it, Muhammad, the Son of Abdullah.
“I swear to Allah,” said Ibn Abbas, “the Messenger of Allah is greater than Ali, yet he erased his title with his own hands. But it did not change the fact that he was the Messenger of Allah.”
Ibn Abbas’ efforts were successful. One third of the Khawarij returned with him to Kufah and rejoined Ali.
Next, Ali decided to visit the Khawarij himself in hopes of winning the rest over.
Unlike Ibn Abbas, Ali did not waste much time trying to dissect their arguments.
Ibn Al-Kawa told Ali the same thing he told Ibn Abbas. They wanted to follow the Quran alone and men should not be used as arbitrators.
Ali requested a copy of the Quran. When a scroll of Quran was placed before him, Ali pointed at it and shouted, “Speak!”
Ibn Al-Kawa and the other Khawarij looked on in silence.
Again, Ali pointed at the Quran and said, “Speak!”
Once again, nothing.
“Speak!” Ali commanded a third time.
When there was no response, Ali turned to face Ibn Al-Kawa. “The Book of Allah does not talk to us,” he said. “It is up to men to interpret its verses and commandments.”
This won the rest of the Khawarij over and they agreed to return to Kufah with Ali.
The Arbitration Results
Unfortunately, this fragile peace between Ali and the Khawarij did not last long. The six months for arbitration passed, and the two sides met in Ramadan 37 AH, or February 658.
Amr ibn Al-As and Abu Musa Al-Ashari arrived with 400 men from each side at the ancient town of Dumat Al-Jandal in northern Saudi Arabia.
Once again, we have to tackle two different versions of events.
The most popular version starts with the selection of the two representatives.
Muawiyyah chose Amr ibn Al-As to represent him during the arbitration. Ali initially wanted to choose Ibn Abbas, but some of his supporters disagreed. They wanted him to choose someone neutral in order to be as fair as possible.
To comply, Ali chose Abu Musa Al-Ashari who he had previously deposed as governor of Kufah.
This version goes on to state that Abu Musa Al-Ashari and Amr ibn Al-As went away for six months to negotiate. They eventually agreed that neither Ali nor Muawiyyah should be the Caliph.
When everyone met at Dumat Al-Jandal, Amr ibn Al-As waited while Abu Musa declared that neither party was fit to be Caliph.
After Abu Musa finished, Amr ibn Al-As stood and said, “Abu Musa may not find his companion fit to be Caliph, but I do find that my companion is fit.”
This betrayal shocked Ali and raised Muawiyyah’s status from rebel to rival. Once again, Ali was cheated out of his rightful legacy.
But this version was first recorded in a Shiite history book. Many of the earliest Islamic history books discussing the Caliphate were written by Shiites biased towards Ali.
Sunnis did not write their own history books until much later and often used Shiite history books in their source material. This has led to a lot of Shiite influence in early Sunni history books.
Therefore, this most popular telling of events makes it seem as if Amr ibn Al-As was a cheat, that Abu Musa Al-Ashari was a fool, and that Ali was innocently caught in the middle.
The reality was probably much less dramatic. Contemporary Sunni historians have reevaluated this story and offer a different explanation.
It should be understood that there are no records of the arbitration agreement. The exact details have been lost over time. But based on events that took place after Dumat Al-Jandal, some details of the agreement can be inferred.
First, both sides would leave the matter alone for the time being and there would be no more fighting.
Muawiyyah would remain governor of Syria and Ali would continue to rule over the rest of the empire. However, Ali could not wage any more wars in the name of the Caliphate.
Second, once tempers had settled down, a group of respected Muslims and companions would gather to choose a new Caliph.
This new Caliph would have the responsibility of finding and punishing Uthman’s killers.
But in the meantime, Muawiyyah would have to stop making claims for retaliation.
Whichever version of events is true, one thing is for certain: the arbitration did not solve anything.
It did not deal with the essence of the conflict. Was Ali the rightful Caliph, and if he was, did Muawiyyah have the right to defy him for not finding Uthman’s killers?
This agreement was a weak attempt at peace that did not satisfy anyone.
The Final Split
As for the Kharijites, the results of the arbitration confirmed their suspicions about Ali. He had left this matter to men, and the results spoke for themselves.
Muawiyyah was still in power in Syria. Ali’s Caliphate was now in question. And the Muslim world was still divided.
Most of those who had been convinced by Ibn Abbas, rejected Ali all over again. And this time, there was no going back.
They once again declared both Ali and Muawiyyah as disbelievers.
This time the Khawarij set up a new base of operations in Nahrawan near modern day Baghdad. They declared themselves independent and elected their own Caliph.
Then they began recruiting. Within three months of the meeting at Dumat Al-Jandal, they had 25000 followers.
For several weeks, Ali did nothing to them.
Perhaps he was trying to abide by the terms of the arbitration. Perhaps he was worried about his reputation taking a further hit for fighting Muslims. Perhaps he hoped being kind would bring them back to his ranks.
Whatever his reasoning, it was evidence of Ali’s weakening authority. He was dealing with a state within a state, but was hesitant to put an end to it.
He left the door open for the Khawarij, hoping they would rejoin him. He let them operate freely and even allowed them to pray in the local mosques. His only condition was that they do not harm anyone.
But in order to operate this rival state, the Khawarij needed money. And the easiest source of income was the caravans traveling throughout the Muslim empire.
Even when the Khawarij attacked these caravans, Ali did not declare war on them. He only sent out small expeditions to warn them.
The Khawarij grew bolder in their attacks. Finally, they committed an act so atrocious, Ali had to take action.
The Murder of Abdullah ibn Khabbab
Khabbab ibn Al-Arat was one of the first ten people to accept Islam. Though he was a blacksmith by trade, he was also a slave in Mecca. That put him at the bottom of the social order and meant he suffered the worse torture at the hands of the Quraish.
He once complained to the Prophet about the torture and asked him to pray to Allah for relief.
The Prophet responded by saying that believers of earlier prophets went through much worse. They were sawn in half and raked to pieces with iron combs. But despite this treatment, they never abandoned their faith.
The Prophet concluded by promising Khabbab that one day, Islam would prevail. And when that day came, a person would travel across southern Arabia in absolute peace.
From that point forward, Khabbab accepted his suffering with patience. When the time came, he made the migration to Medina and participated in the Battles of Badr and Uhud.
He sided with Ali during the conflict with Muawiyyah and eventually settled in Kufah. Khabbab ibn Al-Arat died in Kufah while Ali was at the Battle of Siffeen.
Khabbab ibn Al-Arat’s oldest son was named Abdullah. In early 38 AH, Abdullah ibn Khabbab was traveling through Nahrawan with his pregnant wife.
A group of Khawarij stopped the couple and began to ask Abdullah ibn Khabbab a series of questions. Eventually, they asked his opinion of the first four Caliphs.
Abdullah ibn Khabbab praised Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. And when asked about Ali, he spoke highly of him as well.
The Khawarij responded by grabbing Abdullah ibn Khabbab and slitting his throat. Then they turned on his wife, killing her and the unborn child.
When Ali heard of this heinous crime, he sent an investigator to Nahrawan to find the killers.
The Khawarij killed the investigator and sent a message back to Ali proclaiming, “We are all the killers.”
Ali finally took action. He raised an army and marched on Nahrawan in Muharram 38 AH, or June 658.
The Battle of Nahrawan
When Ali arrived at Nahrawan he tried to extend a friendly hand to the Khawarij. He sent messages stating he only wanted those responsible for the murders.
He placed his banner in the open field between the two camps and said that anyone who came to his banner would be safe and forgiven. Several thousands of the Khawarij took this opportunity and immediately switched sides.
Ali offered the remaining Khawarij another chance. Leave Nahrawan and return home, he said. If you do so, you will be safe.
Many more left until there were only about 3000 hardcore Khawarij left in Nahrawan.
Ali’s forces numbered over 60000 and the Battle of Nahrawan was over quickly. Ali wiped out all of the Khawarij except for nine of their leaders who managed to escape.
Even though Ali was victorious at Nahrawan, he was beginning to lose momentum. The Battle of Nahrawan once again put Ali in the difficult position of fighting other Muslims. Even though the Khawarij were universally despised, this added to Ali’s already damaged reputation.
Ali Loses Egypt
While Ali was trying to hold things together in Iraq, Muawiyyah saw an opportunity to exploit the situation.
Ali’s governor, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, was dealing with a rebellion in Egypt. He tried to force the people to give bay’ah to Ali, and they despised him for it.
Hoping to get control of the situation, Ali sent his general Malik Ashtar to take over from Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. However, Malik Ashtar died along the way. Some say he was poisoned by one of Muawiyyah’s spies.
Whatever the cause of Malik Ashtar’s death, this made Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr uneasy and paranoid. He feared Ali no longer trusted him and became even more erratic and tyrannical.
Some of the rebels in Egypt reached out to Muawiyyah. They complained of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr’s tyranny and Muawiyyah was only too happy to help.
He sent Amr ibn Al-As with an army of 6000 soldiers to Egypt. When Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr heard that Amr was on the way, he sent word to Ali requesting assistance.
Ali tried to raise an army to support Egypt, but the people of Kufah were tired of fighting.
Try as he might, Ali could only send 2000 soldiers to Egypt.
Even with Ali’s reinforcements, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr only had about 4000 soldiers. He did not stand a chance against Amr ibn Al-As, an experienced general who had beaten the Romans on several occasions.
The situation became graver when most of the Egyptian soldiers fled upon seeing Amr ibn Al-As’s army in the distance.
The remainder were easily routed and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr tried to hide in a peasant’s house.
Amr’s soldiers chased him down, dragged him out, and chopped him to pieces. In a final insult, they stuffed his dead body inside a donkey carcass, and set it on fire.
The conquest of Egypt must have been especially satisfying for Amr ibn Al-As. This was now his third time conquering Egypt under three different administrations.
Amr ibn Al-As first conquered Egypt for the Muslims under the Caliphate of Umar ibn Al-Khattab. But, he was later deposed by Uthman.
In his absence, the Romans captured Alexandria and Uthman sent him right back.
Amr ibn Al-As defeated the Romans and conquered Egypt a second time, only to have Uthman depose him again.
And this time, in Safar 38 AH, July 658, Amr ibn Al-As conquered Egypt once more for Muawiyyah.
Muawiyyah Gains Momentum
The conquest of Egypt turned the tide in Muawiyyah’s favor and he never looked back. Muawiyyah retained a firm grip on Syria and Egypt while Ali’s authority weakened daily.
Over the next year and a half, Ali’s territory shrunk as Muawiyyah hammered him from all sides.
In 38 AH, Muawiyyah sent an army to conquer Medina. Ali’s governor pleaded for reinforcements but once again, Ali had trouble raising an army. The governor fled Medina, and the city capitulated to Muawiyyah.
Muawiyyah’s army then went on to capture Mecca. The loss of Mecca was especially damaging to Ali’s cause. No one could seriously claim to be Caliph if they did not control Mecca and Medina.
After the conquest of Mecca, the army headed south and captured Yemen. Ali was able to send an army and retake the province, but it wasn’t long before Muawiyyah was back and reconquered it for good.
While Muawiyyah used his military outside of Iraq, he used diplomacy to weaken Ali inside of Iraq.
He paid various Iraqi tribes to switch loyalties. His spies were also working hard fomenting rebellion against Ali.
Pro-Muawiyyah forces led a revolt in Basra which Ali had to quickly put down. A few months later, there was another revolt in Eastern Persia that Ali also had to suppress.
By 40 AH, or the year 660, the only territory still in Ali’s control was Kufah and Basra.
The pressure was mounting on Ali. Muawiyyah had figuratively and literally pushed him into a corner.
Just a few years earlier, Ali controlled everything in the Muslim empire except Syria. Now, he controlled nothing except Iraq.
It is likely this stress took an emotional toll on Ali. Arguments between Ali and his closest advisors weakened him even further.
Someone told Ali that Ibn Abbas had misused money from Basra’s treasury. Ali demanded an explanation from Ibn Abbas, and things got heated. Ibn Abbas, insulted that Ali questioned his integrity, resigned as governor of Basra.
Not long after that, Ali had a falling out with his brother, Aqil. This resulted in Aqil defecting and joining Muawiyyah’s camp.
The End of an Era
In a desperate gamble, Ali tried to hit back against Muawiyyah. Using every resource still at his disposal, he managed to pull together an army of 60000 soldiers. With this army, he planned to invade Syria and perhaps turn the tide in his favor again.
But once again, Ali’s plans fell apart.
The nine Khawarij survivors from the Battle of Nahrawan had never gone away. They continued to meet in secret and plan for the overthrow of the Caliphate.
They felt all of the fighting and problems in the Muslim world was caused by three people: Ali, Muawiyyah, and Amr ibn Al-As.
In Ramadan 39 AH, they secretly conspired to kill all three men simultaneously. This would send the Muslim world into chaos and give them an opportunity to set things right again.
They agreed to strike each leader during the dawn prayers in exactly one year. And on the 16th of Ramadan, 40 AH, they put their plan into action.
The killer assigned to Muawiyyah struck at the agreed upon time, but it was only a flesh wound. Muawiyyah recovered and the would-be assassin was put to death.
Amr ibn Al-As happened to be sick on the assigned day and did not attend the prayers. The killer did not know how Amr ibn Al-As looked and wound up stabbing one of his generals instead.
The only successful attack was the one on Ali. The attacker stabbed Ali several times with a poisoned knife before being subdued.
Ali lived for another two days. He ordered that no one else be punished for his death except the killer.
Ali’s followers urged him to choose a successor. But Ali refused, not wanting to take that burden to the grave.
Ali finally succumbed to his injuries on the 19th of Ramadan 40 AH, which corresponds to Friday, January 25, 661.
After Ali’s death, the people of Kufah gave bay’ah to his eldest son, Hassan ibn Ali.
But Hassan was reluctant to go down the same path as his father. He had witnessed the damage caused by so many years of fighting between Muslims.
Muawiyyah, sensing Hassan’s reluctance to fight, opened negotiations with him. He urged Hassan to abdicate and spare the Muslim world from further bloodshed.
Hassan continued to rule Kufah for six months while he pondered Muawiyyah’s suggestion. Finally, he came to an agreement with Muawiyyah that he would give up his claim as Caliph.
Muawiyyah promised to return all property taken from Ali’s supporters during the fighting, and that Hassan and his family would receive a substantial monthly allowance.
Even though his brother Husayn and his cousin Abdullah ibn Jafar disagreed, Hassan moved forward with his plans. He abandoned Kufah and returned to his home in Medina.
Muawiyyah’s forces occupied Kufah, and the people gave him the pledge of allegiance. And now, with control over the entire Muslim empire, Muawiyyah claimed the Caliphate, and accepted the title of Amir Al-Mumineen, Commander of the Believers.
For the first time since Uthman’s death, the Muslim world was united under one government and one leader.
Kufah was no longer the capital, and the center of power in the Muslim world shifted to Damascus.
With Muawiyyah’s ascendance, the era of the Righteous Caliphs ended, and the Umayyah dynasty began.
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