Shortly after ascending to the caliphate, Ali commenced consolidating his hold over the empire. Among those who opposed him was the governor of Syria, Muawiyah I. A kinsman of the slain Uthman, Muawiyah refused to acknowledge Ali as caliph due his inability to bring the murders to justice. In an attempt to avoid bloodshed, Ali sent an envoy, Jarir, to Syria to seek a peaceful solution. Jarir reported that Muawiyah would submit when the murderers were caught.
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The Islamic State expanded very quickly under Muhammad and the first three caliphs. Local populations of Jews and indigenous Christians, marginalized as religious minorities and taxed heavily to finance the Byzantine—Sassanid Wars , often aided Muslims to take over their lands from the Byzantines and Persians, resulting in exceptionally speedy conquests.
Since the Constitution of Medina was drafted by the Islamic prophet Muhammad , the Jews and the Christians continued to use their own laws in the Islamic State and had their own judges. To assist in the quick expansion of the state, the Byzantine and the Persian tax collection systems were maintained and the people paid a poll tax lower than the one imposed under the Byzantines and the Persians. Before Muhammad united the Arabs, the Arabs had been divided and the Byzantines and the Sassanid had their own client tribes that they used to pay to fight on their behalf.
This resulted in the defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in , opening up the Mediterranean.
Under the instructions of the caliph Uthman ibn al-Affan , Muawiyah then prepared for the siege of Constantinople. The Rashidun Caliphate during the Battle of Siffin. The rapid Muslim conquest of Syria and Egypt and the consequent Byzantine losses in manpower and territory meant that the Eastern Roman Empire found itself struggling for survival.
The Sassanid Dynasty in Persia had already collapsed. Each wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic state to be in their area. If he felt that a governor or a commander was becoming attracted to wealth or did not meet the required administrative standards, he had him removed from his position. Early Muslim armies stayed in encampments away from cities because Umar feared that they might become attracted to wealth and luxury.
As Uthman ibn al-Affan grew older, Marwan I , a relative of Muawiyah I , slipped into the vacuum and became his secretary, slowly assuming more control and relaxing some of these restrictions.
Marwan I had previously been excluded from positions of responsibility. Islamic empire expanded quickly, but there was a cost associated with this high rate of expansion. Many desert nomads and some bandits living between current day Iraq and Saudi Arabia also joined in, allegedly not out of commitment to Islam, but out of a desire to share the spoils and benefit from the change in the social order after the defeat of the Persian Empire.
High taxes were imposed on the populations in both the Byzantine Roman and Sassanid Persian empires to finance these wars. There was also continuous bloodshed of the people during these wars. The Arab tribes in Iraq were paid by the Persian Sassanids to act as mercenaries. While the Arab tribes in Syria were paid by the Byzantine to act as their mercenaries.
The Persians maintained an Arab satellite state of Lakhm and the Byzantine Empire maintained the Arab satellite state of Ghassan which they used to fight each other. Therefore later, each wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic State to be in their area.
Sects started to form, among them the Sabaites named after Abdala Ben Saba . There is also Jewish literature from that time, regarding Adbullah ibn Saba. Much of the Jewish literature on Adbullah ibn Saba from that time regards Adbullah ibn Saba as an apostate from Judaism and asks Jews to keep away from him. There was also the movement towards more autonomous tribal groupings which was particularly strong in Kufa, in Iraq.
Amongst them developed a group called the Qurra, who later became known as the Kharijities. Al-Masudi calls them the "ahl al-qar wa l-ashraf. They had served in the Ridda wars and had been granted trusteeship over some of the lands in Sawad in Iraq and were now called Ahl al Ayyam, those who had taken part in the eastern conquests. The Qurra received stipends varying between 2, and 3, dirhams, while the majority of the rest of the troops received only to dirhams. The other Ridda tribesmen in Kufa, in Iraq, resented the special position given to the Qurra.
The tension between the Ridda tribesmen and the Qurra threatened the Qurra's newly acquired prestige. The Qurra therefore felt obliged to defend their position in the new but rapidly changing society.
Uthman's policies of reducing their status threatened their interests. The Qurra were mainly based in Kufa, in Iraq. But later when Uthman declined to give them more lands in Persia   they felt that their status was being reduced and therefore started to cause trouble.
The Qurra had previously been desert nomads and some were also bandits and had joined to Muslims so that they could gain lands and status and become the new aristocrats in Iraq  But later when Uthman imposed restrictions on them and prevented them from becoming landlords in Iran they rebelled.
Some of the people with their tribal names as Qurra had been expelled from Kufa, in Iraq, for fomenting trouble and were sent to Muawiyah in Syria. Muawiyah then said to them:. You have importance and are heard. You have obtained nobility by Islam. You have conquered the nations and you have won their positions and their inheritance. I have heard that you resent the Quraysh. If it had not been for the Quraysh, you would have been considered abased as you were before, However, they are still your Imams today and your shelter, so do not impede your shelter.
Your Imamns are patient with you in the face of your injustice and endure the trouble that you cause. By Allah, either you will cease or Allah will try you with someone who will be hard on you. Then you will share with them in what you brough about on the populace while you were alive and after your death. The Qurra Arabs had previously been desert nomads and bandits. One of them then spoke with great arrogance and said to Muawiyah. The Arabs meaning they the Qurra were eating from the hilts of their swords while the Quraysh were nothing but merchants!
Muawiyah then said to him "I remind you by Islam and yet you mention the Jahiliyya meaning their days before Islam " . Muawiyah then wrote to Uthman saying: "Some people have come to me who have neither intellect nor deen faith. Islam is burdensome to them and justice vexes them.
They do not aim for Allah in anything nor do they speak by any proof. They are busy with sedition and appropriating the property of the non Muslims. Allah is the One who will test and try them. Then He will be the One to disgrace them and humiliate them. They are those who injure people. You have no welcome! Shaytan has returned in sorrow and yet you are still active!
May Allah disappoint Abdur Rahman if he does not discipline you until he makes you feel regret! O company of a people whom I do not know to be Arab or non Arab, you will not say to me what I heard you said to Muawiyah! I am the son of Khalid ibn al-Walid. I am the son of the one who was tested by the teeth. I am the son of the one who knocked out the Ridda! In Madina they took an oath that they will not cause trouble and following the example of Muhammad, Uthman accepted their word and let them go.
In the best selling book, Shadow of the sword, The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World, Tom Holland writes  "Uthman was not content to divide up the loot of the old empires in the time-honoured manner of a bandit chieftain sharing out plunder after a successful raid.
The Arabs, so it seemed to the new Amir had moved on from that. The conquerors, if they were to make best use of the defeated superpowers bureaucracies, would themselves have to accept certain disciplines: a central administration, not least, and a clear-cut chain of command. Precisely the marks of slavery, in short, that the desert Arabs had always derided.
They had fought under the service of his father in the Ridda wars. They also asked Uthman's adopted son, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa , who Uthman had refused to appoint as a governor of any province, why he was not a governor. Some modern scholars like R. Brunnow trace the origins of the Qurra and the Kharitites back to Bedouin stock and desert tribesmen, who had become soldiers not out of commitment to Islam but to share the spoils.
Later, the Egyptians ended up killing Uthman ibn al-Affan. Finding the gate of Uthman's house strongly guarded by his supporters, the Qurra climbed the back wall and sneaked inside, leaving the guards on the gate unaware of what was going on inside. Hassan and Hussein were also guarding Uthman at the time. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Muawiyah sent a relief force led by Habib ibn Maslama al-Fihri to protect Uthman, but events moved so fast that Uthman got killed before they arrived, so they turned back from the wadi I kura     According to al-Baladhuri one of the earliest books of these events, Ali was furious and slapped Hassan and Hussein saying "How did he get killed when you were at the door?
We are facing a matter which has several faces and colours, which neither hearts can stand nor intelligence can accept. Clouds are hovering over the sky, and faces are not discernible.
You should know that if I respond to you I would lead you as I know and would not care about whatever one may say or abuse. If you leave me then I am the same as you are. It is possible I would listen to and obey whomever you make in charge of your affairs. I am better for you as a counsellor than as chief. Ali later wrote in a letter, "I did not approach the people to get their oath of allegiance but they came to me with their desire to make me their Amir ruler.
I did not extend my hands towards them so that they might swear the oath of allegiance to me but they themselves extended their hands towards me". Ali then assumed the position of caliph. Ali was very religious and had worked very well in partnership with Umar as his advisor. Umar had consulted him on all the major issues. Ali had also been the chief judge in Madina. But unlike many of the other companions of Muhammad, Ali had not been involved in the camel caravan trade and had less business and administrative experience.
The Iraqis wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic State to be in Kufa. They convinced Ali to come to Kufa and establish the capital in Kufa. Marwan I and the rebels in Ali's army manipulated everyone and created conflict.
January The Iraqis wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic State to be in Kufa so as to bring revenues into their area and oppose Syria. Ali listened to them and moved the capital to Kufa. Ali ibn Abi Talib tried to settle matters peacefully by sending an envoy to Syria.
Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Siffin (657)
To dissuade muawiya from waging war against the Muslims, Ali used all those argument that he had used, earlier, in his appeals to Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr for the same purpose, and the outcome in both cases was the same. In the perception of all his enemies, peace could only compound the already complex problems of the Dar-ul-Islam. They saw only one remedy for those problems, and that was war. In fact, he was so subtle that in comparison, Talha and Zubayr were little more than political backwoodsmen. In Basra, the rebel group was a coalition of disparate interests, and its members were held together only by their common hatred of Ali. It lacked singleness of purpose.
Muslim Empire: Battle of Siffin
Today is give or take the anniversary of the start of the Battle of Siffin, the key battle of the First Fitna civil war in Islamic history, about which you can read more here. The latter point especially became a pretext for resistance among several leading members of the Islamic community who had done quite well for themselves under Uthman. They were now worried because it looked like Ali was planning to upend the social order in at least three ways:. The armies fought for two days. These figures seem too high to be plausible, even more so than the like the unlikely sizes of the two armies. Thus, despite the lopsided outcome on the field, Siffin is considered inconclusive, as the battle itself did nothing to resolve the underlying cause of the conflict. The arbitration went extraordinarily badly for Ali.