Amr-e-Aas’s poetry on Ameerul Momineen’s (a.s.) virtues
Tags: Aftaab-e-Vilayat 2014
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had been regularly announcing the successorship and leadership of Ameerul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) right from the commencement of Islam. This chain of announcement concluded during the Hajjah al-Wida, while returning from Mecca to Medina, at a place called Johfah. The entire incident is well-documented in Islamic history as also the exegesis of Quran.
Our aim over here is not to analyze the innumerable merits and excellence and of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). We only wish to advance a poetry penned by a staunch enemy of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), Amr b. Aas, wherein he has condemned Muawiyah and praised Ali (a.s.) and addressed him as ‘Imam al-Hoda’ (Imam of guidance).
A noteworthy point over here is that while the friends and lovers of Ali (a.s.) have eulogized him through poetry, even his staunchest enemies have been just as active in promoting their art of poetry and have testified to the superiority and authority (wilayat) of Ali (a.s.) in verse.
Amr b. Aas – a proficient poet – penned a poem that is better known as ‘Qasida-e- Juljuliyyah’. The Arabs consider this poetry among the masterpieces. It is full of praise for Ali (a.s.). Amr b. Aas has penned 66 verses in this poetry.
The renowned scholar Abdul Husain Amini (r.a.), better known as Allamah Amini, in his invaluable book ‘Al Ghadeer fi al-Kitaab wa al-Sunnah wa al-Adab’, has documented the entire poem along with his notes.
Muawiyah’s letter to Amr b. Aas
When Amr b. Aas did not send the tributes/taxes of Egypt, Muawiyah b. Abu Sufyan, demanded the same from him in a letter thus: ‘I have raised the matter of the tributes of Egypt time and again, but you have not complied; on the contrary you have been defiant. This is my last letter to you on the subject. Submit the tributes of Egypt immediately, without any delay. Wassalam’
Amr b. Aas’s rejoinder
Taking exception to the tone of the letter, Amr b. Aas replied in verse condemning Muawiyah and reminding him of the instances when they both conspired to keep the caliphate away from Ali (a.s.). He goes on to highlight the truthfulness and merits of Ali (a.s.) and acknowledges him as ‘Imam al- Hoda.’
The last word of this panegyric poem (Qasida) is Juljuliyyah from which it derives its name. Juljuliyyah means bell or jingle.
Every verse of this poem is a resounding slap in Muawiyah’s face. Our purpose is not to offer a literal word by word translation of the entire poem. Rather we wish to expose the cunningness and scheming nature of Muawiyah and Amr b. Aas so that Muslims are aware of their dirty politics. To that end, we present a gist of the poem to give an idea.
For the purpose of translation we have relied on the Persian translation (volume 3) of ‘Al-Ghadeer’. We have drawn from the Persian rhymed version of the poem that has been endorsed by 106 poets as analysed by Muhammed Taqi Wahidi.
- Al Ghadeer vol 3 pg 207
Meaning of Qasida-e-Juljuliyyah
- O Muawiyah do not feign innocence about our plan, nor be a step away from the straight path
- Have you forgotten the day when you became a leader and how I had cheated the people of Syria
- How the people came to you in flocks and started wailing and complaining to you as meek cows
- Have you forgotten that I told them that their obligatory prayers would not be accepted without accepting Muawiyah
- And was the reason that they left their religion and obligatory prayers and got ready to fight in war with you
- Remember the day, when you turned away from ‘Imam al-Hoda’ despite the fact that his army comprised of brave and courageous soldiers
- (You had said), should I wage a war along with the people of piety along with these cheaters and evil people who are as silent cows?
- I said: Yes, rise against them; as I will see a war between the better and the best
- Hence, due to me these people fought with the chief of successors Ali (a.s.) to avenge the death of Usman
- I instigated your soldiers to raise the pages of Quran on spears
- I had taught your soldiers to expose their private parts so that their enemy will not kill them and avert their eyes
(In the battle of Siffeen, Amr b. Aas was once confronted by Ali (a.s.) and when he realized death was upon him, to save his life, he threw himself on the ground and exposed his private parts. This action saved his life (Sharh-e-Nahjul Balaghah of Ibne Abil Hadeed vol 2 pg 110). A similar modus operandi was adopted by the ‘brave general and raider’ Busr b. Artaat in the same battle.)
- After which the rebels rose against Haider and kept the people away from guidance
- Have you forgotten how I had conversed with Abu Musa Ashari in ‘Dumah al Jandal’.
(After the battle of Siffeen, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) went to Kufa and from there sent Abu Moosa Ashari under the leadership of Shareeh b. Haani along with 400 people to Dumah al Jandal and sent Abdullah b. Abbas along with them as Imam of the congregation. At this point, Muawiyah sent Amr b. Aas to Dumah al Jandal. After reaching there Amr b. Aas did not meet Abu Moosa for three days and then with a lot of planning met him and embellished him with different titles which fooled Abu Moosa. He asked Amr b. Aas: What is your view about the correct way for the reformation of the Muslims? Amr b. Aas answered: You denounce the caliphate of Ali (a.s.) and I do the same with Muawiyah. We will select Abdullah b. Umar who has not been involved in any conspiracy and corruption so far, nor has he been involved in any bloodshed. The promises made by Amr b. Aas, convinced Abu Moosa. Amr b. Aas deceived him with his cunningness and convinced Abu Moosa to initiate the proceeding and when Abu Moosa got the title of ‘Samiri of Iraqis’, he said: O people! After a lot of thinking and consultation and for the reformation of the people and their guidance, and to further avoid bloodshed we have removed a way out of this situation and it is this that I denounce the caliphate of Ali (a.s.) and Amr b. Aas will denounce the caliphate of Muawiyah. I have set aside the caliphate of Ali (a.s.) in the same way as I set aside my turban (and he removed his turban) and we select such a person as caliph who himself is a companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) just like his father and he is Abdullah b. Umar. (Manaqib-e-Shahre Ashoob vol 3 pg 185). Then Amr ibn Aas rose and said: O people! Certainly Abu Moosa has denounced the caliphate of Ali (a.s.) and he is a wise person with regards to Ali (a.s.), know that even I have denounced the caliphate of Ali (a.s.) and appoint Muawiyah as your and my caliph.
When Abu Moosa realized he had been duped he turned on Amr b. Aas and showered him with abuses. Amr b. Aas retaliated in the same coin. They turned the arbitration into a joke and it became the cause of much corruption and dissent in society.
- I speak in a way that turns a person greedy and he is deceived by my cunningness
- I removed Haider from caliphate as effortlessly as we remove shoes from our feet
- I made you wear the ring of leadership when you had lost all hopes of leading
- I made you sit on the pulpit of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) without waging a war
- (While) you were not capable of this position
- I banished the hypocrite soldiers of Iraq, due to which you could conquer the east and west
- It was I who spread your name in areas far and wide.
- O the son of Hinda (the liver eater) (Muawiyah)! If you do not recognize me then this is very good for me
- Had I not been your advisor then people would have never obeyed you nor would they ever accept you
- Had I not been there, you would be sitting in the house like women and would never leave the house
- O son of Hinda! I assisted you against the Great News and the Best of Creation (Ali (a.s.)) on account of my ignorance and innocence
- And when I made you the chief of the people, we fell to depths of lowliness and plunged to lowest of the low
- Despite the fact that we had heard numerous merits and virtues about Ali (a.s.) from Muhammed Mustafa (s.a.w.a.)
Acknowledging the announcement of Ghadeer
- On the day of Ghadeer when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ascended the pulpit and informed the people about Allah’s order, none of the caravans had reached their homes
- He (s.a.w.a.) placed the hand of Ali (a.s.) in his own hand and informed the people about the order of Allah
- O people! Do I not have more authority over you than you have over yourselves; and don’t I have the authority of Wilayat over you?
All answered: Yes O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), you do as you please.
- Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), by the command of Allah, handed over the caliphate to Ali (a.s.) and mentioned that he can delegate caliphate to whomsoever he wishes
- He (s.a.w.a.) said: Of whomsoever I am a Master, this Ali is also his Master.
- Then he (s.a.w.a.) prayed: Befriend his friends and keep the enemies of the brother of your Prophet as his enemies
- O people! Do not ever break the oath that you have taken for my family, because the one who breaks this allegiance will not be able to reach to me on the Day of Resurrection.
- On seeing that this allegiance has become very strong and could not be altered, your chiefs (Abu Bakr and Umar) congratulated Ali (a.s.), through the words ‘bakhin bakhin’ (congratulations).
- Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: Ali is your Master, protecting him is your duty and behave with him as you behaved with me
Amr b. Aas considered himself and Muawiyah as dwellers of hell
- We, on account of our deeds will go to the lowest degree of hell
- The blood of Usman will not give us relief on the Day of Resurrection, but it will be a Day of Embarrassment for us.
- On the Day of Resurrection, Ali (a.s.) through the medium of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) will be in a position of great respect and honor and we will be his enemies
- Allah will take into accounting all the misdeeds and we will be at the receiving end far from truth and will be with falsehood
- The hidden truth will be unveiled and there will be no excuse on that Day. Woe unto us, what will happen to us on that Day?
- O son of Hinda (Muawiyah)! Beware about the promise you made me and you did not act accordingly, by this you have sold your paradise
- In order to gain some materialistic benefit of the world you have left numerous bounties of paradise and forfeited the hereafter
- You have gathered people around you and caliphate is ready for you, what is the use of such a caliphate that has come to you through others?
- You are likened to a hunter who has thrown a net to deceive people and keeps thirsty people away from water
Accepting defeat at Siffeen
- Have you forgotten the dreadful night of ‘Lailah al-Hareer’ in the war of Siffeen
- On that day, due to fear of brave and courageous men you had become very weak and akin to an ostrich you even soiled your pants
- When you saw your weak army, you were frightened as if a hungry lion is ready to destroy you
- You were engulfed in a lot of difficulty to such an extent that a vast place seemed small to you
- You called out to me – ‘O Amr where is the escape from powerful warriors?’
- ‘There is no other way out. You must work out another strategy against their strikes. Make a way out as my heart is very uneasy.’
- When your caliphate was not yet established, you had promised to give me half of whatever you achieved in victory
- I also hurried to help you and unclothed myself and exposed myself in front of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.)
- Due to his modesty he covered his face and did not kill me. This is such a plan which you could have never thought of on your own
- But you shivered like a moth out of fear of the brave and courageous men
- But when you established your government and took over the reins in your hand;
- You bestowed others with wealth and property but did not give me a single penny
- You gave the rulership of Egypt to Abdul Malik and did injustice to me
- Though you desire the government of Egypt but now its reins are in my hand, hence you must now realize that the hen who ate stones, has escaped from the clutches of the vulture and the reins of the government are slipping from your hands
- Either forget about the government of Egypt and excuse me from paying the tribute of Egypt or be prepared to fight me as I will wage a war against you and strike fear inside you
- I am waiting for you with a well-equipped army
- I will destroy your ego completely and those people/ children who have become orphans because of you I will make them aware about you and also make them rise against you
Amr b. Aas ticks off Muawiyah – you are not Ameerul Momineen
- You are far from being eligible to govern the people
- Neither you nor your forefathers have any right to caliphate
- O Muawiyah! Can there be any similarity between you and Ali (a.s.)? Ali (a.s.) is like a sharp sword and you are like a blunt rusted one
- Ali (a.s.) is a shining star of the sky. There can be no comparison between you and him. You are nothing but dust.
- If you have succeeded in governing and attained your desire, it is only because of my efforts
There can be an independent essay on each of these 66 verses. In this letter Amr b. Aas has exposed all the scheming and plotting done by Muawiyah with his help against Ali (a.s.). It is unfortunate that many Muslims despite knowing the reality are silent on the matter.
This poem has been mentioned in the following books:
- Its two phrases have been independently published and are also present in the library of Egypt. The books in the library run into many volumes and are listed for reference. The two phrases can be accessed in vol 4, pg 314 of the list.
- Ibne Abil Hadeed has mentioned some of the phrases in Sharh-e-Nahjul Balaghah in vol 2, pg 544. He has come across them in the book of Abu Zakariyya Yahya b. Ali Khateeb Tabrezi (exp. 502 AH)
- Shaikh Muhammed Azhari in the commentary on ‘Mughni al-Labeeb’ vol 1, pg 82 has narrated the entire poem from ‘Tarikh Ishaaq’.
- Zanuzi has narrated the entire poem in ‘Riyaz al-Jannah’ part 2
The adversaries can never hide the truth, no matter how much they try. ‘They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may be averse’. (Surah Saff (61): 8). Soon there will come a time when the successor of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.), the 12th Imam – Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) reappears and take to task those who hid the virtues of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.).