Battle of the Camel
|Battle of the Camel|
|Part of the First Fitna|
Ali and Aisha at the Battle of the Camel
Aisha's forces and Banu Umayya
|Commanders and leaders|
Ammar ibn Yasir
Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr
Abdul-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr
Muslim ibn Aqeel
Harith ibn Rab'i
Jabir ibn Abd-Allah
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari
Abu Qatada bin Rabyee
Qays ibn Sa'd
Qathm bin Abbas
Abd Allah ibn Abbas
Khuzaima ibn Thabit
Muhammad ibn Talha †
Zubayr ibn al-Awam †
Kaab ibn Sur †
Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr
Marwan I (POW)
Waleed ibn Uqba (POW)
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of the Camel, sometimes called the Battle of Jamal or the Battle of Bassorah, took place at Basra, Iraq on 7 November 656. The battle was fought between on the one hand, Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was the cousin and son-in-law of the deceased Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, considered the fourth Rashidun Caliph of the Sunnis and the first Imam of the Shias, and on the other A'isha, the wife of Muhammad, Talhah and Zubayr who led the war against Ali claiming that they want to take revenge on the killers of the third caliph Uthman who was recently killed as a result of rebellion. Marking the second chapter of the First Fitna, the fateful battle ended with victory of Ali.
Before the conflict
After the murder of Uthman, people in Medina paid allegiance to Ali as the new Muslim caliph. But after allegiance Talhah and Zubair asked Ali for permission to make pilgrimage to Mecca. He granted it and they departed. The Medina people wanted to know Ali’s point of view about war against Muslims, by asking his view about Muawiyah I and his refusal to give Ali his allegiance. So they sent Ziyad Bin Hanzalah of Tamim who was set on getting the caliphate of Ali because Uthman had died and they wanted to "get to killers of Uthman". However, they went to Basra, and not Medina where the crime happened.
He went back and told the people in Medina that Ali wanted to confront Muawiyah. In Medina, Marwan manipulated people. In Iraq many people hated the Syrians following the Byzantine-Sassanid Wars.
Aisha (Aisha bint Abu Bakr) (Muhammad's widow), Talhah (Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah) and Zubayr ibn al-Awam (Abu ‘Abd Allah Zubayr ibn al-Awwam) set off from Makah on their way to Iraq to ask Ali to arrest Uthman ibn Affan's killers, not to fight Muawiyah.
Preparation for battle
While passing Medina, on their way to Iraq, Aisha, Talha and Zubair passed a group of Umayyads leaving Medina, led by Marwan, who said that the people who had killed Uthman, had also been causing them trouble. Everyone then went to Basra, which was the beginning of the first civil war in Islam. Some historians put the number at around 3000 people.
Zubair and Talha then went out to meet Ali. Not all Basra was with them. Bani Bakr, the tribe once led by the second Caliph, joined the army of Ali. Bani Temim decided to remain neutral.
Before the battle started, Ali reminded Talha of the sermon of Prophet Muhammad at the event of Ghadir Khumm. Ali said to Talha, "I adjure you by Allah! Didn’t you hear the Messenger of Allah (S) when he said: 'Whoever I am his MAWLA, this Ali is his MAWLA. O God, love whoever loves him, and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him'?" Talha responded "Yes" to Ali, after which Ali asked him, "Then why do you want to fight me?" This conversation is recorded by both Shia and Sunni sources.
Some chieftains of the Kufa tribes contacted their tribes living in Basra. A chieftain contacted Ali to settle the matter. Ali did not want to fight and agreed to negotiate. He then contacted Aisha and spoke to her, "It is not wise to shed the blood of five thousand for the punishment of five hundred." She agreed to settle the matter. Ali then met Talha and Zubair and told them about the prophecy of Muhammad. Ali's cousin Zubair said to him, "What a tragedy that the Muslims who had acquired the strength of a rock are going to be smashed by colliding with one another." Talha and Zubair did not want to fight and left the field. Everyone was happy except the people who had killed Uthman and the supporters of the Qurra, who later became the Khawarij. They thought that if a settlement was reached, they would not be safe. The Qurra launched a night attack and started burning the tents. Ali tried to restrain his men but no one was listening. Everyone thought that the other party had committed breach of trust. Confusion prevailed throughout the night. The Qurra attacked the Umayyads and the fighting started.
Talhah had left. On seeing this, Marwan (who was manipulating everyone) shot Talhah with a poisoned arrow saying that he had disgraced his tribe by leaving the field. According to some Shia accounts Marwan ibn al-Hakam shot Talha, who became disabled in the leg by the shot and was carried into Basra, where he died later of his wound. According to Shia sources Marwan said,
By God, now I will not have to search for the man who murdered Uthman.
In the Sunni sources it says that he said that Talha had disgraced his tribe by leaving the field.
Qadi Kaab ibn Sur of Basra held the Quran on his head and then advised Aysha to mount her camel to tell people to stop fighting, until he was killed by arrows shot by the forces of Ali. As the battle raged Ali's forces targeted their arrows to pierce the howdah of Aisha. The rebels led by Aisha then gathered around her and about a dozen of her warriors were beheaded while holding the reins of her camel. However the warriors of Ali faced much casualties during their attempts to reach Aisha as dying corpses lay piled in heaps. The battle only came to an end when Ali's troops as commanded attacked the camel from the rear and cut off the legs of the beast. Aisha fled from the arrow-pierced howdah and was captured by the forces of Ali.
Ali's cousin Zubair was by then making his way to Medina; he was killed in an adjoining valley.
Aisha's brother Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, who was Ali's commander, approached Aisha, who was age 45. There was reconciliation between them and Ali pardoned her. He then sent Aisha to Medina under military escort headed by her brother Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, one of Ali's commanders. She subsequently retired to Medina with no more interference with the affairs of state. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr, the adopted son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and the great-grandfather of Ja‘far al-Sadiq. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali alongside Hasan and Husein. Hassan also accompanied Aisha part of the way back to Medina. Aisha started teaching in Medina and deeply resented Marwan.
Sunni View of the Battle
According to Sunnis, the rebels who had been involved in the killing of Uthman, the third Caliph, were responsible for igniting the fight. These rebels had gained much power after the killing of Uthman. It was difficult for Ali, the fourth Caliph, to instantly punish them for their role in the killing of Uthman, and this was the main reason which led to the difference of opinion between the two groups of Muslims. Some Muslims were of the opinion that they should be punished immediately, while Ali required time to punish them. He himself says in Nahjul Balagha:
"O my brothers! I am not ignorant of what you know, but how do I have the power for it while those who assaulted him are in the height of their power. They have superiority over us, not we over them." 
This led to difference of opinion, and a group started campaigning to pressurize Ali to punish the rebels. But when both groups confronted each other at the place of Basrah, they started negotiating. When the rebels saw that the negotiations may lead to their punishment, they attacked both the armies and disrupted the peace process. According to Sunnis, Ali was the rightly guided Caliph, and hence his decision must have been obeyed. Moreover, the hadith of Hawaab also proves that Ali's opponents were wrong in their stance. But since they also were sincere in their intentions to bring the killers of Uthman to justice, hence they must not be condemned for the violence. Both Ali and Aisha resented the outcome of the battle. Ali said after the battle, "I wish I had died two decades before this incident."  
Ali's forces overcame the rebels, and the defeated army was treated according to Islamic law. He sent her back to Medina under military escort headed by her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, one of Ali's commanders. She subsequently retired to Medina with no more interference with the affairs of state.
When the head of Zubayr ibn al-Awwam was presented to Ali by Ahnaf ibn Qais, the Caliph Ali couldn't help but to sob and condemn the murder of his cousin. This reaction caused Ahnaf ibn Qais resentment and, drawing his sword, stabbed it into his own breast.
Marwan I and the Qurra (who later became the Khawarij) manipulated every one and created conflict. Marwan was arrested but he later asked Hassan and Hussein for assistance and was released.
Two decades later, after years of planning and scheming and making every one else fight, Marwan came to power in Syria and the Qurra (the Kharijites) established a state in southern Iraq.
The name of the battle refers to the camel ridden by Āʿisha — once the camel had fallen, the battle was over. Some Muslim scholars believe the name was recorded as such in history to avoid linking the name of a woman with a battle. Ali blamed Ayesha due to such warfare. Subsequently, Ali said to her brother (Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr) to take her to Basrah. She stayed there for some days till afterwards goes to Medina but Ali sent Abdullah bin Abbas to her and warned Ayisha because the deadline was finished for her, and actually she delayed in going. Afterwards, she was taken to Medina with a number of troops.
Later on, whenever Ayisha was remembering the day of Jamal, she wished to be dead before that happening, and actually she had this desire that I wish I wouldn’t be presented in that event. 
Sunni and Shia's split
Āʿisha's depiction in regards to the first civil war in the Muslim community reflected the molding of Islamic definition of gender and politics. As many Muslims saw the rule of Ali fading due to his inability to bring the killers of Uthman to justice. As time went by, Alis rule over the Caliphate slowly disintegrated, and seeing this the party of Ali (the Shia) split themselves from the main body of Muslims. 
Soldiers of Imam Ali's Army
- Malik al-Ashtar
- Hasan ibn Ali
- Hussain ibn Ali
- Ammar ibn Yasir
- Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
- Muslim ibn Aqeel
- Harith ibn Rab'i
- Jabir ibn Abd-Allah
- Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
- Abu Ayub Ansari
- Abu Qatada bin Rab'i
- Qays ibn Sa'd
- Qathm bin Abbas
Soldiers of Aisha's Army
- Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah
- Muhammad ibn Talha
- Zubayr ibn al-Awwam
- Marwan ibn al-Hakam
- Abd al-Rahman
- Abdullah ibn al-Walid (KIA)
- Abdullah ibn Hakim (KIA)
- Abdullah ibn Saffron
- Yahya ibn Hakim ibn Safwan
- Amir ibn Mascud ibn Umayya ibn Khalaf
- Ayyiib b. Habib b. Alqama b. Rabia
- Abdullah ibn Abi Uthman ibn al-Akhnas ibn Sharlq (KIA)
- Abdullah bin Aamir Hadhrami of Makkah
- Ya'la bin Umayya
- Abdullah bin Aamir bin Kurayz of Basra
- Saeed bin Aas
- Mughira bin Shaaba
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of the Camel.|
- Ali ibn Abi Talib (1984). Nahj al-Balagha (Peak of Eloquence), compiled by ash-Sharif ar-Radi. Alhoda UK. SBN 0940368439.
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