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Letter 36


The following is a letter written by Imam Ali (a) to his brother Aqil. It so happened that Zahaak bin Qays Fahri was sent to Makkah by Mu’awiya with a force of guerrillas to ravage the city. Imam Ali (a) had sent Hujr bin Adi Kindi to defend the city of Makkah. Hujr defeated Zahaak. Aqil at that time was in Makkah. He wrote to Imam Ali (a) offering his voluntary services saying that the Quraysh were not sincerely serving the cause of Islam and were bent upon the enmity of Imam Ali (a). In reply Imam Ali (a) wrote:


I had sent against him (Zahaak) a strong force of Muslim fighters. When he realised this, he wanted to run away, giving up loot and plunder. Before sunset our expeditionary force overtook him and his guerrillas, a skirmish did take place, not worth being mentioned as a battle, and he fled. When he was caught by the throat he thought a cowardly retreat to be the best solution.

Do not take to heart the behaviour of Quraysh. To talk about their scepticism, their enmity of Islam, their revolt against the cause of Allah and their desire to bring harm to me are a waste of time. They now are as much bent upon doing me injustice and fighting against me, as they were unanimously against the Holy Prophet (s). May Allah punish them for their sins. They have not even paid any consideration to the relationship that existed between them and I. They have deprived me of the estate of my mother's son.

As far as your enquiry about my intention against the enemies of Islam is concerned, my opinion is to combat those who have made up their minds to harm the cause of Islam. I shall keep on combating them to the end of my life.

I am neither emboldened by abundance of followers nor am I disheartened by their scarcity. Do not think that your brother will lose heart if people forsake him and give up their help or he will humiliate himself, bow down against heavy odds, submit to unreasonable demands of others or accept their commands or orders like a beast of burden.

So far as I am concerned I am like a person about whom a poet of Bani Salim says:-

“If you enquire about me, my beloved, Then hear me:
I am very strong to face calamities and reverses;
I cannot tolerate
That signs of sorrows and griefs on my face
Make my enemies happy,
And increase sorrows of my friends”.