Sermon 051 – When in Siffín the men of Mu`áwiyah overpowered the men of Amír al-mu’minín

When in Siffín the men of Mu`áwiyah overpowered the men of Amír al-mu’minín
and occupied the bank of River Euphrates and prevented them from taking its water, Amír al-mu’minín said:
                They(1) are asking you morsels of battle. So either you remain in ignominy and the lowest position or drench your swords with blood and quench your thirst with water. Real death is in the life of subjugation while real life is in dying as subjugators. Beware, Mu`áwiyah is leading a small group of insurgents and has kept them in dark about the true facts with the result that they have made their bosoms the targets of death.

(1).          Amír al-mu’minín had not reached Siffín when Mu`áwiyah posted forty thousand men on the bank of the River to close the way to the watering place, so that none except the Syrians could take the water. When Amír al-mu’mimín’s force alighted there they found that there was no watering place except this one for them to take water. If there was one it was difficult to reach there by crossing high hillocks. Amír al-mu’minín sent Sa`sa`ah ibn Súhán al-`Abdí to Mu`áwiyah with the request to raise the control over water. Mu`áwiyah refused. On this side Amír al-mu’minín’s army was troubled by thirst. When Amír al-mu’minín noticed this position he said, “Get up and secure water by dint of sword.” Consequently, these thirsty persons drew their swords out of sheaths, put arrows in their bows and dispersing Mu`áwiyah’s men went right down into the River and then hit these guards away and occupied the watering place themselves.

                Now, Amír al-mu’minín’s men also desired that just as Mu`áwiyah had put restriction on water by occupation of the watering place, the same treatment should be accorded to him and his men and no Syrian should be allowed water and everyone of them should be made to die of thirst. But Amír al-mu’minín said, “Do you want to take the same brutal step which these Syrians had taken? Never prevent anyone from water. Whoever wants to drink, may drink and whoever wants to take away may take away.” Consequently, despite occupation of the River by Amír al-mu’minín’s army no one was prevented from the water and everyone was given full liberty to take water.

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