There was no Sunni Shia Divide, the divide has always been Islam vs The Excommunicated.

There was no Sunni Shia Divide, the divide has always been Islam vs The Excommunicated.

Who’s Who in Islam: ‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi

 

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‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi (d. 659) was a Kharijite leader who was known for his bravery and piety. He died in the battle of Nahrawan.

When ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan was elected to be the third caliph in 644, some leaders of the Muslim community were happy while others were not. The former were the clan of Umayyah, the house of ‘Uthman; the latter were the clan of Hashim, house of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the losing caliphal candidate. The expectations of the Umayyah clan were met. The caliph appointed a number of the governors of the provinces from his clan, and thus invited the envy of others and the charge of nepotism from some. Soon the anti-’Uthman forces gathered strength and assassinated the caliph in 656. The same body that elected ‘Uthman to the caliphate then elected ‘Ali to replace him. The Umayyah clan was furious. Mu’awiya ibn Abu Sufyan, governor of Syria, and ‘Amri ibn al-’As, governor of Egypt, both of the Umayyah clan, united and asked ‘Ali to identify and punish the assassins, or he would be disqualified from the caliphate by implication. Much as he personally might have wished to comply with the request. ‘Ali was too weak to do so because insurrections were breaking out in many regions of the realm. Hence, Mu’awiya and ‘Amr joined forces and declared their independence of ‘Ali’s caliphate. Their contest for power soon became open defiance.

When their respective armies confronted each other at Siffin in 657, and the forces of ‘Ali were about to carry the day, ‘Ali’s opponents resorted to a ruse and offered to accept arbitration. Anxious to avoid further bloodshed and exhausted, ‘Ali accepted the offer and withdrew. The offer of arbitration was a hoax and Mu’awiya regrouped his forces for another round. The arbitration took place in 659 at Adhruh on the caravan route from Medina to Damascus, between Ma’an and Petra.

A group of ‘Ali’s followers strongly disagreed with the arbitration. They claimed that ‘Ali had betrayed Islam by agreeing to the truce and should have referred judgment to the Qur’an alone. They also claimed that all Muslims were equal and that no one should rule over another. In this way, they denounced both ‘Ali and Mu’awiya and said that their belief as La Hukma Illa Lillah, meaning “No Rulership except by Allah alone.” These dissenters insisted that arms should settle the issue. They were led by ‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi and counted several thousand soldiers.

‘Ali had to confront these dissenters to prevent an upset of the arrangement with Mu’awiya and to remain caliph. There was some reluctance in the army of ‘Ali to fight the dissenters because they had been with ‘Ali when ‘Ali fought Mu’awiya at Siffin. ‘Ali also did not want to fight the dissenters and offered amnesty to those who agreed to come under his banner. All but 1800 of the dissenters left ‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi.

At the Battle of Nahrawan, the dissenters attacked ‘Ali with desperate courage. However, they did not stand a chance against the superior forces of ‘Ali, and all but nine of them were killed. Among the dead was ‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi. As for the surviving dissenters, the nine managed to flee to Basra and elsewhere, where they spread the fire of their hatred and recruited more followers. ‘Ali’s army suffered on eight casualties, but the biggest ultimate casualty was ‘Ali himself.

Two years after the Battle of Nahrawan, the dissenters sent out three assassins to kill ‘Ali, Mu’awiya and Amr al-As. The latter two survived but ‘Ali was assassinated at the hand of ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Muljam in the mosque of Kufa.

The dissenters — the opponents of the arbitration with Mu’awiya — were expelled from the ranks of ‘Ali’s followers and declared heretics. They were charged with going against the consensus of the umma and were given the name Khawarij or seceders. Subsequently, the Khawarij — the Kharijites — were fought by everybody.

Alternative names include:

‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi
‘Abdallah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi
‘Abdullah ibn Wahb al-Rasibi
Ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, ‘Abd Allah
Ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, ‘Abdallah
Ibn Wahb al-Rasibi, ‘Abdullah

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52 thoughts on “There was no Sunni Shia Divide, the divide has always been Islam vs The Excommunicated.

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