Friends and Foes Alike

After the martyrdom of Imam Ali (‘a), Muawiya ibn e Abu Sufyan finally acquired total dictatorial control over the Islamic state. He often met with the followers of Imam Ali (‘a) and teased them so that they should say something against their Maula, but he remained unsuccessful.
He wanted them to admit that they were foolish in following and obeying Ali (‘a); had suffered immense losses because of adhering with his principles; had gained nothing of value by associating with him; were sorry to have sided with him and opposed Muawiya; wished to make amends and befriend Muawiya; but, in vain. Not one faithful believer could he find saying anything against him (‘a). Each one mourned his (‘a) loss, terming it as ‘indescribable, eternal grief’.
The love and regard of the faithful for their Commander (‘a) grew even stronger after his martyrdom. They made greater sacrifices to establish the teachings of Islam as learnt from their Master, now that he was no longer among them. His loss created a greater sense of responsibility in them and inflamed them with a desire to lay their lives down for him (‘a), his teachings and practice. Muawiya’s efforts to suppress them only helped ignite and strengthen their resolve to follow their Imam (‘a).
One of Imam Ali’s (‘a) renowned followers was ‘Adi ibn e Haatim. He was the chief of the tribe of Taee. He had many sons. He, his sons and his tribesmen were considered Ali’s (‘a) gallant warriors. His three sons named Turfa, Tareef and Taarif were martyred in the battle of Siffin, fighting alongside their Imam (‘a).
After Imam Ali (‘a), Muawiya occupied the seat of ruler by force and deceit. He summoned ‘Adi ibn e Haatim to Damascus. With the intention of causing pain, he asked him, ‘What happened to your sons?’
‘They were martyred in the battle of Siffin fighting alongside Imam Ali (‘a).’
‘Ali did not treat you fairly.’
‘What makes you say that?’
‘He sent your sons into the front line of battle and kept his own sons in the rear.’
‘On the contrary, I think I have not served Ali (‘a) fairly.’
‘Why do you say that?’
‘I should have died and saved him, but he got martyred while I still live.’
Muawiya was disappointed again for the umpteenth time. He decided to change his tactics, and asked ‘Adi to describe Ali (‘a) as he had known him from very close quarters.
‘Excuse me, I’d rather not praise him in your presence,’ said ‘Adi, knowing full well how envious he was of his Maula, Ameer ul Momineen, Ali ibn e Abi Talib (‘a).
‘I assure you I’m interested,’ insisted Muawiya.
‘Adi then began his favorite discourse:
‘Allah be my witness, Imam Ali (‘a) was very far-sighted and supremely courageous. He exemplified justice, fairness and truth. He judged with knowledge and conviction. His greatest assets were knowledge and wisdom. Worldly pomp and show, glitter and glory, disgusted him. His favorite time was the night, with its solitude and quiet. He wept profusely while worshipping his Lord, and spent his time in meditation, observation, and introspection. He preferred a simple lifestyle and wore inexpensive clothes. He behaved like one of us whilst among us. He never turned down anyone’s request for anything he possessed, and sat next to us when we went to visit him, never maintaining a distance. Despite his affectionate demeanor, everyone was awe-struck, and did not dare speak in his presence.
His spiritual superiority and purity of character, made it impossible to look at him straight in the eye. His smile was very attractive, exposing a perfect set of teeth, which looked like pearls in a row. He respected pious and God-fearing individuals, and was extremely caring towards the weak and downtrodden. The powerful never feared injustice from him; the weak never despaired of his justice.
With God as my witness, I saw him with my own eyes, standing in his prayer niche, late one night. The tears ran down his cheeks and beard. He was trembling as if bitten by a snake and weeping like a person extremely troubled and anxious. I feel I can hear his voice right now. Addressing the world, he said:
“O mortal world, do not try to tempt me towards yourself. Leave me alone. Go and deceive someone else. I have divorced you thrice and do not wish to reunite with you. Your pleasures are insignificant in my eyes, and folly it is to revere you. Woe! O, Woe! My journey is long, my subsistence negligible, and friends, but few.”’
Muawiya was struck by the way Ali’s (‘a) admirers loved him. His eyes filled with tears, for he couldn’t deny the truth. He said, ‘May God bless Ali ibn e Abi Talib. You have certainly described him accurately. How do you feel his loss?’
‘I feel like a mother whose son has been beheaded in her lap.’
‘You can never forget him, can you?’
‘What do you think? Will present-day circumstances allow me to forget him?’