First of all, we would like to state that both `Ali and Mu`awiyah, may Allah be pleased with them all, were great Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon them. Concerning their differences, each of them has practiced his own Ijtihad based on a good intention and hope for the well-being of Islam. The one that has attained the correct Ijtihad is to receive a double reward, one for practicing Ijtihad and the other for attaining the truth. The one with a wrong Ijtihad has only one reward for his Ijtihad and good intention.
Those who tend to enter such sensitive areas of Islamic history should be driven by sincere intention to find the truth, otherwise their search will be futile as their intention is not pure.
Generally, we should not bother ourselves with who was right and who was wrong with respect to the Fitnah or sedition that happened at that time as we are very far from it, on one hand, and such a conclusion will not yield us any fruits, on the other hand. Referring to this, Almighty Allah says: “Those are a people who have passed away; theirs is that which they earned and yours that which ye earn. And ye will not be asked of what they used to do.” (Al-Baqarah: 141)
Dr.Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), states the following: “The Hadith of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is as follows: “When two Muslims confront each other with their swords, then the killer and the killed both will go to hell. (The Companion of the Prophet says) I said, ‘One is the killer but why will the killed go to hell?’ The Prophet, peace and blessings e upon him, said, ‘Because he was also anxious to kill the other person.’” (Reported by Imam Muslim in the Book on Trials, Hadith no. 5139).
The aforementioned Hadith is an authentic one. The Qur’an also has a similar statement. Allah says, “Whosoever kills a Believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.” (An-Nisaa’ :93)
There are many other Qur’anic verses and Prophetic Hadiths on this subject. The purpose of these Qur’anic verses and Prophetic Hadiths is to warn Muslims and to prevent them from fighting each other. Their purpose is not to give authority to us or to any Muslim to pass judgments on other people and to assign them to the Heaven or to the Hell. Allah Almighty is the Final Judge and He alone has that authority. We should be more concerned about our own selves as to what will be our end in the Hereafter.
As far as Hazrat ‘Ali, Hazrat ‘A’isha or Hazrat Mu’awiyah are concerned they were all great people and all of them made great services for Islam. We respect them and honor them, but we also know that they were human beings. We do hope and pray for the mercy of Allah upon them and upon all the Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.”
Elaborating more on the point in question, Dr. `Abdul-Fattah `Ashoor, Professor of the Exegesis of the Qur’an at Al-Azhar University, states:
“I would like to tell you that you should not bother yourself with these matters, for doing so is not the way of the Salaf (early generation of Muslims) who occupied themselves with their own duties. They were concerned with fulfilling their obligations and avoiding the prohibited matters. We are not required to search for all the incidents that occurred in our Islamic history, whether they were genuine or fabricated. It does not concern us at all to know who was right and who was wrong in the fight that occurred among the Companions of the Prophet after his demise.
What we should concern ourselves with is our future, our religious obligations, and the construction of our Ummah in light of the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah. In doing so, our motto should be the Qur’anic verse: “Those are a people who have passed away; theirs is that which they earned and yours that which ye earn. And ye will not be asked of what they used to do.” (Al-Baqarah: 141)
Therefore, we advise all muslims to give up such search and not to concern yourself with it. It is sufficient to know that it is part of religion to love the Companions of the Prophet; to admire those shining stars who carried for humanity the Message of Islam. The Prophet told us that if any of us is to spend an amount of gold resembling the mountain of Uhud in its quantity, it would not be equal to a mudd or half a mudd (mudd here signifies the least that one may spend) spent by one of them.
There are a lot of Hadiths explaining the countless merits of the Companions. It is well known that Imam `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of the eminent Companions of the Prophet, his cousin, son-in-law, and the father of Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn, the grandsons of the Prophet. He has made great contributions to Islam.
Mu`awiyah, may Allah be pleased with him, was also one of the Companion of the Prophet and was one of the scribes of the revelation who were entrusted to register the portions of the Qur’an once they were revealed to the Prophet. During Mu`awiya’s rule, the Islamic state extended and Muslims carried the message of Islam to farther lands. May Allah be pleased with them all.
In conclusion, we must respect these two great Companions as well as all the Companions of the Prophet due to all their efforts and struggle in striving for Allah’s Cause; we should do this without indulging in discussing the slight mistakes that may have been made by some of them, which is also liable to different interpretations that we are not aware of. Therefore, we should do our best, our brother, to build our Muslim nation and regain our lost glory.”
Finally, Sheikh `Abdel-Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef, a prominent Muslim scholar and Da`iyah, concludes:
“There are certain points to be highlighted in tackling such issues:
Firstly: We should bear in mind the saying of `Umar ibn `Abdel-`Aziz, may Allah be pleased with him, while referring to the tragedy you mentioned that reads: “Allah has spared us involvement in shedding such blood, so let not our tongues talk about it.” Thus, a person is reckoned for what he utters.
Secondly: Knowing the true reality of the situation will benefit us in no way. Also, being in the dark about the issue will never bring harm to us.
Thirdly: To ask about the reasons in such historical matters and who was right and who was wrong, we should consult the books of history. The authors of these books, unfortunately, are either from Kharijites or from the supporters of Imam `Ali. If the author belongs to the former, he will declare his people innocents and brand `Ali mistaken. If he belongs to the latter, he will talk about the Kharijites and give them the worst of all descriptions. Thus, we need someone who knows what is in the heart of every person and knows where reality and truth are. No one can tell us this. Only Allah knows the truth, so let the matter be surrendered to His knowledge.
At any rate, a major point to be stressed is that Islam prohibits unjustifiable bloodshed. Even in case a person is to be killed whether in retaliation for another or as a punishment for a crime, this is to be done by the Muslim judge or the ruler of the Muslim state.”