Sunni & Shia narratives of Siffin and Al-Nahrawan 

“Moreover, give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best way and the best result.” (Qur’an 17:35)

Sunni n Shia telling their people about Siffin and Nahrawan are like: “Gather around children, let grandpa tell you the story of the dragon Smaug, whom lives under the lonely mountain; and a brave lad named Bilbo Baggins.”

When reading “historical” narratives it is important to bare in mind that often we are reading a redacted telling of the events, or the events as seen through the lenses of those who have a vested interest in telling a particular narrative.

I am quite sure you would want to see the sanaad. Likewise, when we are talking about the evens surrounding Siffin and Nahrawan it is the same. What are the sources that are quoted? Who is relating what?

Let’s take for example the book: “Opposing the Imam: The Legacy of the Nawasib in Islamic Literature” by Nebil Husayn.  

Nebil relates to us a wild tale.  (Though to his credit/discredit) he admits he is not telling us history.

According to pro-‘Alid historiography, when Mu’awiya and ‘Amr invited ‘Ali’s army to settle their difference by means of arbitration, the group of soldiers that had coalesced to form the Muhakkima initially supported the initiative with fervor. In their reverence for the Qur’an, these soldiers feared that ignoring Mu’awiya’s calls to have the Qur’an arbitrate between them continued fighting and did not heed such calls. Ali, in turn, argued that Mu’awiya’s invitation was a ruse and that they should not be deceived by it. However, these soldiers eventually compelled ‘Ali and the rest of his army to discontinue fighting. In a few sources, Ali explains that when he saw that his soldiers were willing to murder al-Hasn and al-Husayn, the two grandsons of the Prophet, and other young Hashmids in his ward, he relented.”

So let us get this straight. Ali was anti-arbitration?  Ali states that Mu’awaiya’s invitation was a ruse?

Yet, he went through with it because the people who wanted the arbitration were going to kill his kids! Can you imagine! These companions, and people of the Salaaf, and those who fight with him in the battle of the camel. They wanted to kill his kids!

Yet, on THE….VERY…NEXT….PAGE Nebil Husayn relates to us:

“After the Muhakkim leave Ali’s army, they encamp in a place known as Harura and, according to both Ibadi and non Ibadi literature, Ali sends Ibn Abbas to their camp to debate with them and convince them to renew their allegiance to Ali. When Ibn Abbas initially arrives at their camp, he cites Qur’an 4:35,and Qur’an 5:95 as evidence of the legality of deferring to arbitration in disputes.”

So on the one hand we have Ali who see’s this arbitration as a ruse and we have the Muhakkima that we are told are so onboard for arbitration to the point they want to kill Ali’s kids (is that not an embellishment or what folks) and than the very next page we have Ali sending Ibn Abbas, one of Islam’s greatest Mufassir of the early period using some wild and bizarre arguments to convince those very same Muhakkima that arbitration (the ruse) was a good idea!

Checkout this website. They have their own version of the Siffin tales.

Ali takes no responsibility for anything. He gets to wash his hands of it all simply put. He is beset by treachery on all sides. Muawiya is a big man who gets to pick his own representative. Meanwhile, Ali is portrayed as this demure individual who doesn’t even get to pick his own representative! It’s the rebels that do!  Because Allah forbid that Ali makes a wrong decision (bad ijtihad) in the choice of representative.

Ali than gets persuaded to allow one of the parties (‘Amr bin Aas) to be an arbitrator which is a SHIA WEBSITE ADMITTING THAT ALI WENT AGAINST THE QUR’AN in THEIR OWN WORDS.  Because how can ‘Amr bin Aas be just if he was fighting against the ‘Chief of the Believers’ ???

The Blessed Messenger (saw) had knowledge of the ghaib (the unseen) and could tell who were the hypocrites and who were not.

Unfortunately, Ali didn’t have such insights. Ali who we just learned from Proto-Alid sources saw that the whole thing was a ruse, and yet goes along with it!

Now we come to the Sunni tales. Now regardless of who, what, when, where and why, all three groups, Shi’i, Sunni & Ibadi agree that Ali bin Abu Talib was the Imam of the Muslims after the death of Uthman. Regardless if we think he should have been the first Caliph or not.

So I ask the Sunni: “Was Ali the commander of the faithful after the death of Uthman?”  They respond: “Yes”

So I ask the Shi’i: “Was Ali the commander of the faithful after the death of Uthman?”  They respond:


So I ask the Ibadi: “Was Ali the commander of the faithful after the death of Uthman?” “They respond:


So what is the advice of the Blessed Messenger (saw) when we have two people whom the Muslims have given allegiance to? “It has been narrated on the authority of Aba Sa’id al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: When oath of allegiance has been taken for two caliphs, kill the one for whom the oath was taken later.”

This is yet another reason, among others, why it is extremely difficult to take anything the Hizb Ut Tahrir say seriously. They like to cherry pick their history.

Those Sahabah, those Companions that differed with Ali going against the book of Allah (swt). They were following what Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be plead with him) said:

I heard ‘Umar bin Al- Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) reported saying: “In the lifetime of Messenger of Allah (saw) some people were called to account through Revelation. Now Revelation has discontinued and we shall judge you by your apparent acts. Whoever displays to us good, we shall grant him peace and security, and treat him as a near one. We have nothing to do with his insight. Allah will call him to account for that. But whoever shows evil to us, we shall not grant him security nor shall we believe him, even if he professed that his intention is good.”

(Riyad as-Salihin 395 Bukhari, Hadith 395)

So what Umar ibn Al-Khattab (r.a) was saying was that in the time of the Blessed Messenger (saw) people were called to account via revelation, the Qur’an and/or guidance directly from the Blessed Messenger (saw). Now with the revelation discontinued, and having the Qur’an and the Sunnah we shall judge you by your apparent acts!

The Sunni have to paint a picture that Ali was pro arbitration and that those sahabah who were against it were some type of rebels.  Even though Muawiya himself was a Khariji who went out and fought against the  ‘Chief of the Believers’. 

Ahl Sunnah are in a real pickle.

 After years of rebellion against the Ummayad Imperium we get all these hadiths about how the Muslims are supposed to obey the tyrants. Now they are stuck with their Madhkali Salafi brand telling them not to rebel against the leader or the Non Political Sufi who tell them to put their “focus on the inward, Mahdi will come and fix it”.

So the Sunni spin their tales. Just like they spin tales about Abd Allah ibn Saba.

The Shi’a have to paint Ali as anti arbitration and those sahabah as pro arbitration. This is because, it is obvious that what Muawiya did was a ruse. The aftermath of Siffin shows that Muawiya didn’t change his ways. However, if we going to make Ali an infallible Imam he can’t be seen as being well, fallible.

There are even reports from the early historian al-Mada’ini that Mu’awiya encouraged systematic forging and circulation of hadiths affirming the virtues of the caliphs and companions at Ali’s expense.”(cited from Al-Mada’ini’s Kitab al-ahdath; Ahmad b Sa’d al-Din al-Miswari, Al Risala al-munqidha min al-ghiwaya fi turuq al riwaya, pp. 51-55)” This citation is found in Dr. Jonathan Browns book: “Hadith Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World page 70

So the Shi’i spin their tales. Just like they began to spin their tales about the Blessed Messenger (saw) family. Especially so when infighting about who the Imam of the time really is.

Stay tuned for part 2: Nahrawan

May Allah (swt) guide this ummah to the truth!

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