4. The Assasination of Malik al-Ashtar

Back to book

4 - قال: أخبرني أبو الحسن علي بن محمد بن حبيش الكاتب قال: أخبرني الحسن بن علي الزعفراني، قال، حدثنا إبراهيم بن محمد الثقفي، عن محمد بن زكريا ، عن عبد الله بن الضحاك، عن هشام بن محمد قال: لما ورد الخبر على أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام بمقتل محمد بن أبي بكر رضي الله عنه كتب إلى مالك بن الحارث الأشتر رحمه الله وكان مقيما بنصيبين : أما بعد فإنك ممن استظهر به على إقامة الدين، وأقمع به نخوة الأثيم ، وأسد به الثغر المخوف . وقد كنت وليت محمد بن أبي بكر رحمه الله مصر، فخرج عليه خوارج، وكان حدثا لا علم له بالحروب، فاستشهد رحمه الله، فاقدم علي لننظر في أمر مصر، واستخلف على عملك أهل الثقة والنصيحة من أصحابك. فاستخلف مالك رضي الله عنه على عمله شبيب بن عامر الأزدي ، وأقبل حتى ورد على أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام، فحدثه حديث مصر، وأخبره عن أهلها، وقال له: ليس لهذا الوجه غيرك، فاخرج فإني إن لم أوصك اكتفيت برأيك، واستعن بالله على ما أهمك، واخلط الشدة باللين، وارفق ما كان الرفق أبلغ، واعتزم على الشدة متى لم تغن عنك إلا الشدة. قال: فخرج مالك الأشتر رضي الله عنه فأتى رحله، وتهيأ للخروج إلى مصر، وقدم أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام أمامه كتابا إلى أهل مصر: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، سلام عليكم، فإني أحمد إليكم الله الذي لا إله إلا هو، وأسأله الصلاة على نبيه محمد وآله، وإني قد بعثت إليك عبدا من عباد الله، لا ينام أيام الخوف، ولا ينكل عن الأعداء حذار الدوائر . من أشد عبيد الله بأسا ، وأكرمهم حسبا، أضر على الفجار من حريق النار، وأبعد الناس من دنس أو عار، وهو مالك بن الحارث الأشتر، لا نابي الضرس ولا كليل الحد، حليم في الحذر ، رزين في الحرب، ذو رأي أصيل، وصبر جميل، فاسمعوا له وأطيعوا أمره، فإن أمركم بالنفير فانفروا، وإن أمركم أن تقيموا فأقيموا، فإنه لا يقدم ولا يحجم إلا بأمري ، فقد آثرتكم به على نفسي نصيحة لكم، وشدة شكيمة على عدوكم . عصمكم الله بالهدى، وثبتكم التقوى، ووفقنا وإياكم لما يحب ويرضى، والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته. ولما تهيأ مالك الأشتر للرحيل إلى مصر كتب عيون معاوية بالعراق إليه يرفعون خبره، فعظم ذلك على معاوية وقد كان طمع في مصر فعلم أن الأشتر إن قدمها فاتته، وكان أشد عليه من ابن أبي بكر، فبعث إلى دهقان من أهل الخراج بالقلزم أن عليا قد بعث بالأشتر إلى مصر وإن كفيتنيه سوغتك خراج ناحيتك ما بقيت، فاحتل في قتله بما قدرت عليه. ثم جمع معاوية أهل الشام وقال لهم: إن عليا قد بعث بالأشتر إلى مصر، فهلموا ندعو الله عليه يكفينا أمره، ثم دعا ودعوا معه . وخرج الأشتر حتى أتى القلزم، فاستقبله ذلك الدهقان فسلم عليه وقال [له]: أنا رجل من أهل الخراج ولك ولأصحابك علي حق في ارتفاع أرضي ، فأنزل علي أقم بأمرك، وأمر أصحابك، وعلف دوابك، واحتسب بذلك لي من الخراج. فنزل عليه الأشتر، فأقام له ولأصحابه بما احتاجوا إليه، وحمل إليه طعاما دس في جملته عسلا جعل فيه سما، فلما شربه الأشتر قتله ومات من ذلك. وبلغ معاوية خبره، فجمع أهل الشام وقال لهم: أبشروا فإن الله تعالى قد أجاب دعاءكم، وكفاكم الأشتر وأماته، فسروا بذلك واستبشروا به. ولما بلغ أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام وفاة الأشتر جعل يتلهف ويتأسف عليه ويقول: لله در مالك لو كان من جبل لكان أعظم أركانه، ولو كان من حجر [ل] كان صلدا . أما والله ليهدن موتك عالما، فعلى مثلك فلتبك البواكي. ثم قال: إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون، والحمد لله رب العالمين، إني أحتسبه عندك فإن موته من مصائب الدهر، فرحم الله مالكا فقد وفى بعهده، وقضى نحبه، ولقي ربه، مع أنا قد وطنا أنفسنا أن صبر على كل مصيبة بعد مصابنا برسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم فإنها أعظم المصيبة.


4. He said: Abul Hasan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Hubaysh al-katib reported to me from al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Za’farani, who reported from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Thaqafi, from Muhammad ibn Zakariyya, from Abdullah ibn al-Dhahhak, from Hisham ibn Muhammad, who said: When news of the assassination of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, reached Amirul Mu’mineen, peace be upon him, he wrote to Malik ibn al-Harith al-Ashtar, may Allah bless him with mercy, who was then residing at Nasibayn. (He wrote): "You are surely among those from whom I seek help to keep the banner of Islam high and to crush the haughtiness of the disobedient and to fortify the threatened borderline. I had appointed Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, may Allah bless him with mercy, to govern Egypt, but the rebels attacked him and as he was inexperienced about warfare, he was martyred - may Allah bless him with mercy. Now, come over to me so that we may look into the matter concerning Egypt, and appoint in your place a reliable, sane person from your companions." Then Malik - may Allah be pleased with him, appointed Shabib ibn Amir al-Azadi to succeed him, and proceeded till he arrived to meet Amirul Mu’mineen, peace be upon him. Then he (i.e. ‘Ali) explained to him the situation in Egypt and informed him about its people. Then he said: "There is no one for this assignment except you, so be ready to go. And if there is anything, about which I have not guided you, you will depend upon your judgement and seek assistance from Allah for your intention. (In your dealing with them), mix severity and harshness with tenderness and gentleness, and be friendly for as long as friendliness serves the purpose. And be resolute when there is no alternative to severity." He said: Then Malik al-Ashtar - may Allah be pleased with him, rose and prepared for his journey to Egypt. And ‘Ali, peace be upon him, sent a letter to the people of Egypt, before (Malik) arrived there: "In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Benevolent, I praise Allah, none to be worshipped but He; and beseech Allah to bless His Prophet, Muhammad and his progeny. Surely, I have sent unto you a servant from the servants of Allah, who does not sleep in the days of fear and does not recoil from the enemy fearing any disaster. He is from the strongest among His servants and the noblest; and to the transgressors, more threatening than the burning fire. And from ignorance and blemish, he is the farthest. He is Malik ibn al-Harith al-Ashtar, neither a cutting tooth nor a blunted edge. He is patient amid threats, calm and composed at the time of war. He has an original judgement and an agreeable patience. So listen to him and obey him. If he commands you to march forth, march, and if commands you to halt, halt. For he does not advance or halt except by my order. I have sent him to you in spite of my need for him, for the sake of your welfare and because of my deep concern about your adversaries. May Allah guard and protect you with guidance and keep you steadfast with Taqwa. May He bless us and you with what He likes and loves. May peace and mercy of Allah and His Blessing be upon you." When Malik al-Ashtar completed his preparations for journey to Egypt, the spies of Mu’awiyah from Iraq wrote to inform him. He was very much distressed, because he had his eyes set on Egypt. He knew that he would lose Egypt if al-Ashtar arrived there and to him al-Ashtar was a more powerful person than the son of Abu Bakr. So he contacted a chief who paid the revenue at a place called al-Qulzum, informing him that ‘Ali (as) has appointed al-Ashtar to govern Egypt and if you got rid of him on my behalf, I shall gift away the revenue to you for as long as you live. So plan to kill him in every way possible. Then Mu’awiyah collected the people of Syria and said: "Verily, ‘Ali has sent al-Ashtar to Egypt. Come and let us pray to Allah that He may relieve us of him." Then he prayed, and so did the people with him. Al-Ashtar travelled on till he came to al-Qulzum. The chief received him and greeted him and then said: "I am among those who is liable to pay the revenue. And you and your companions have a right upon all that grows on my land. So be my guest and allow me to serve you and your companions and let your animals freely graze on my land, and I will count it from my liability." So, al-Ashtar became his guest and he served him (al-Ashtar) and his companions for all their needs. And he brought to them food, including some honey, which had poison. When al-Ashtar drank from that honey, it killed him and he died because of that. Mu’awiyah got the news, so he collected the people of Syria and said: "Happy tidings for you! Allah, Most High, has answered your prayers; has relieved you of him and has killed him." They rejoiced. And when the news of Ashtar’s death assailed Amirul Mu’mineen, peace be upon him, he sighed and grieved, saying: "What an excellent man Malik was! Had he been a mountain, he would have been its firm rock, and had he been from stone, he would have been solid. By Allah, some men in the world will be placated by his death; but it behaves for the mourners to mourn over him." Then he said: "We are for Allah and unto Him shall we return; and all praise to Allah, the Lord of all Universe. I shall seek reward from You for this sacrifice, for surely, his death is among the greatest worldly calamities. May Allah bless Malik with mercy; no doubt, he faithfully dispersed his charge and completed the appointed term (of life) and met his Creator; while we have reconciled ourselves to forbear every adversity after being bereaved of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, for that was the greatest calamity."