Letter 63: To Abu Musa al-Ash`ari,

To Abu Musa (Abdullah ibn Qays) al-Ashari, the Governor of Kufah when Amir al-muminin learned that he was dissuading the people of Kufah from joining in the battle of Jamal when Amir al-muminin had called them to fight along with him.

مِنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ عَلِيّ أَمِيرِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِلَى عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ قَيْس.

From the servant of Allah, Amir al-mu'minin to `Abdullah ibn Qays:

أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَقَدْ بَلَغَنِي عَنْكَ قَوْلٌ هُوَ لَكَ وَعَلَيْكَ،

Now, I have come to know of words uttered by you which go in your favour as well as against you. (1)

فإذَا قَدِمَ عَلَيْكَ رَسُولي فارْفَعْ ذَيْلَكَ،

So, when my messenger reaches you prepare yourself

واشْدُدْ مِئْزَرَكَ،

and get ready,

واخْرُجْ مِنْ جُحْرِكَ،

come out of your den

وَانْدُبْ مَنْ مَعَكَ،

and call those who are with you.

فَإِنْ حَقَّقْتَ فَانْفُذْ،

Then, if you are convinced of the truth get up

وَإِنْ تَفَشَّلْتَ فَابْعُدْ!

but if you feel cowardice go away.

وَايْمُ اللهِ لَتُؤْتَيَنَّ حَيْثُ أَنْتَ،

By Allah, you will be caught wherever you may be

وَلاَ تُتْرَكُ حَتَّى يُخْلَطَ زُبْدُكَ بِخَاثِرِكَ،

and you will not be spared till you are completely upset

وَذَائِبُكَ بِجَامِدِكَ،

and everything about you is scattered

وَحَتَّى تُعْجَلَ عَنْ قِعْدَتِكَ،

and till you are shaken from your seat.

وَتَحْذَرَ مِنْ أَمَامِكَ كَحَذَرِكَ مِنْ خَلْفِكَ،

Then, you will fear from your front as you do from the rear.

وَمَا هِيَ بِالْهُوَيْنَى الَّتِي تَرْجُو،

What you hope is not a light matter,

وَلكِنَّهَا الدَّاهِيةُ الْكُبْرَى،

but it is serious calamity.

يُرْكَبُ جَمَلُهَا،

We have to ride its camels,

وَيُذَلُّ صَعْبُهَا،

overcome its difficulties

وَيُسَهَّلُ جَبَلُهَا.

and level its mountains.

فَاعْقِلْ عَقْلَكَ،

Set your mind in order,

وَامْلِكْ أَمْرَكَ،

take a grip on your affairs

وَخُذْ نَصِيبَكَ وَحَظَّكَ،

and acquire your (lot and your) share.

فَإِنْ كَرِهْتَ فَتَنَحَّ إِلَى غَيْرِ رَحْب وَلاَ فِي نَجَاة،

If you do not like it then go away to where neither you are welcome nor can you escape from it.

فَبِالْحَرِيِّ لَتُكْفَيَنَّ وَأَنْتَ نَائِم،

It is better that you be left alone and lie sleeping.

حَتَّى لاَ يُقَالَ: أَيْنَ فُلاَنٌ؟

Then no one will enquire where so-and-so is.

وَاللهِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مَعَ مُحِقّ،

By Allah, this is the case of right with the rightful person

وَمَا أُبَالِي مَا صَنَعَ الْمُلْحِدُونَ،

and we do not care what the heretics do;


and that is an end to the matter.


1. When Amir al-mu'minin had the idea of suppressing the revolt of the people of Basrah he sent this letter through Imam al-Hasan to Abu Musa (`Abdullah ibn Qays) al-Ash`ari, who had been appointed Governor of Kufah by `Uthman, wherein he has scolded him for his duplicitous and contradictory behaviour and attempted to persuade him to jihad, because on one side he used to say that Amir al-mu'minin was the true Imam and allegiance to him was right and on the other he said that to support him in fighting against the Muslims was not right; but it was a mischief and it was necessary to keep off this mischief. Thus, Amir al-mu'minin has referred to this contradictory view by the words "huwa laka wa `alayka" (which go in your favour as well as against you). The intention is that when Amir al-mu'minin is the rightful Imam how can fighting his enemy with him be wrong? And if fighting on his side is wrong then what is the meaning of his being the rightful Imam. In any case, in spite of his dissuading from fighting, the people of Kufah came out in large numbers to join Amir al-mu'minin's army and took full part in the battle, giving such a defeat to the people of Basrah that they never again dared to revolt.