Now then, surely jihád is one of the doors of Paradise, which Alláh has opened for His chief friends. It is the dress of piety and the protective armour of Alláh and His trustworthy shield. Whoever abandons it Alláh covers him with the dress of disgrace and the clothes of distress. He is kicked with contempt and scorn, and his heart is veiled with screens (of neglect). Truth is taken away from him because of missing jihád. He has to suffer ignominy and justice is denied to him.
Beware! I called you (insistently) to fight these people night and day, secretly and openly and exhorted you to attack them before they attacked you, because by Alláh, no people have been attacked in the hearts of their houses but they suffered disgrace; but you put it off to others and forsook it till destruction befell you and your cities were occupied. The horsemen of Banú Ghámid(1) have reached al-Anbár and killed Hassán ibn Hassán al-Bakrí. They have removed your horsemen from the garrison.
I have come to know that every one of them entered upon Muslim women and other women under protection of Islam and took away their ornaments from legs, arms, necks and ears and no woman could resist it except by pronouncing the verse, “We are for Alláh and to Him we shall return.” (Qur’án, 2 :156) Then they got back laden with wealth without any wound or loss of life. If any Muslim dies of grief after all this he is not to be blamed but rather there is justification for him before me.
How strange! How strange! By Alláh my heart sinks to see the unity of these people on their wrong and your dispersion from your right. Woe and grief befall you. You have become the target at which arrows are shot. You are being killed and you do not kill. You are being attacked but you do not attack. Alláh is being disobeyed and you remain agreeable to it. When I ask you to move against them in summer you say it is hot weather. Spare us till heat subsides from us. When I order you to march in winter you say it is severely cold; give us time till cold clears from us. These are just excuses for evading heat and cold because if you run away from heat and cold, you would be, by Alláh, running away (in a greater degree) from sword (war).
O’ you semblance of men, not men, your intelligence is that of children and your wit is that of the occupants of the curtained canopies (women kept in seclusion from the outside world). I wish I had not seen you nor known you. By Alláh, this acquaintance has brought about shame and resulted in repentance. May Alláh fight you! You have filled my heart with pus and loaded my bosom with rage. You made me drink mouthful of grief one after the other. You shattered my counsel by disobeying and leaving me so much so that Quraysh started saying that the son of Abí Tálib is brave but does not know (tactics of) war. Alláh bless them ! Is any one of them more fierce in war and more older in it than I am? I rose for it although yet within twenties, and here I am, have crossed over sixty, but one who is not obeyed can have no opinion.
(1). After the battle of Siffín, Mu`áwiyah had spread killing and bloodshed all round, and started encroachments on cities within Amír al-mu’minín’s domain. In this connection he deputised Sufyán ibn `Awf al-Ghámidí with a force of six thousand to attack Hít, al-Anbár and al-Madá’in. First he reached al-Madá’in but finding it deserted proceeded to al-Anbár. Here a contingent of five hundred soldiers was posted as guard from Amír al-mu’minín’s side, but it could not resist the fierce army of Mu`áwiyah. Only a hundred men stuck to their position and they did face them stoutly as far as they could but collecting together the enemy’s force made such a severe attack that they too could no more resist and the chief of the contingent Hassán ibn Hassán al-Bakrí was killed along with thirty others. When the battlefield was clear the enemy ransacked al-Anbár with full freedom and left the city completely destroyed.
When Amír al-mu’minín got the news of this attack he ascended the pulpit, and exhorted the people for crushing the enemy and called them to jihád, but from no quarter was there any voice or response. He alighted from the pulpit utterly disgusted and worried and in the same condition set off for the enemy on foot. When people observed this their sense of self respect and shame was also awakened and they too followed him. Amír al-mu’minín stopped at an-Nukhaylah. People then surrounded and insisted upon him to get back as they were enough with the enemy. When their insistence increased beyond reckoning, Amír al-mu’minín consented to return and Sa`íd ibn Qays al-Hamdání proceeded forward with a force of eight thousand. But Sufyán ibn `Awf al-Ghámidí had gone, so Sa`íd came back without any encounter. When Sa`íd reached Kúfah then – according to the version of Ibn Abi’l-hadíd – Amír al-mu’minín was so deeply grieved and indisposed during those days to an extent of not wishing to enter the mosque, but instead sat in the corridor of his residence (that connects the entrance of the mosque) and wrote this sermon and gave it to his slave Sa`d to read it over to the people. But al-Mubarrad (al-Kámil, vol. 1, pp. 104-107) has related from `Ubaydulláh ibn Hafs al-Taymí, Ibn `Á’ishah, that Amír al-mu’minín delivered this sermon on a high pace in an-Nukhaylah. Ibn Maytham has held this view preferable.