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Muawiyah and the Cursing of Imam Ali: The Unspoken Truth

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The history of Muslims has witnessed a significant transformation in its journey, leading to a tremendous change in the structure of the Islamic entity at all levels. This was a result of the strife between the Companions and the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, which ultimately ended with his murder at the hands of the Companions themselves. The disagreement had reached a stage where all the solutions sought by the senior Companions, led by the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (peace be upon him), had failed. Ali spared no effort in trying to contain the crisis and address it but to no avail.

It can be said that the incident of Uthman’s murder and its consequences were directly or indirectly responsible for the emergence of numerous negative phenomena that Muslims had never experienced before. These included internal wars, sectarian and ideological splits among Muslims, which in turn significantly impacted the overall course of Islam.

Destiny ordained that the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him), would bear the consequences of this great strife. He took on the responsibilities of the Caliphate and the leadership of the nation during that sensitive stage, having no other choice.

 However, the transformation that had befallen the nation at the time reached a point that Ali (peace be upon him) could not restore matters to their previous state. He faced opposition and rebellion from senior Companions and their leaders, as well as Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, the governor appointed by the second and third Caliphs over the Levant.

 Muawiyah took advantage of the strife and used the murder of Caliph Uthman as a pretext to remain in power, knowing that the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) would not approve of his control over the lands and resources of the Muslim nation. Thus, he demanded that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) hand over Uthman’s killers, considering himself the avenger of Uthman’s blood, rallying public Islamic opinion for this cause.

Imam Ali (peace be upon him) tried to settle matters between him and Muawiyah through peaceful means, using correspondence in which he employed reason and logic to persuade and deter Muawiyah from his misguidance and to spare the nation the horrors of war and its destructive consequences. However, these efforts fell on deaf ears and were in vain. Due to Muawiyah’s stubbornness and persistence, matters escalated to armed confrontation, resulting in the Battle of Siffin, which broke the backbone of the Islamic entity and shattered its unity. The nation paid an exorbitant price, as many Companions and their followers were killed or injured. This led to significant splits within the nation, most notably the emergence of the Kharijites following the well-known arbitration incident, who played a significant role in exhausting and weakening the nation.

However, it can be said that the conflict between Amir al-Mu’minin and Muawiya was not just a result of Uthman’s murder and Ali’s assumption of the caliphate. Instead, the roots of this conflict and animosity extended back to the beginning of the prophetic mission when most of the Umayyad clan aligned with the disbelievers, fought against the early Muslims, and led by Abu Sufyan, waged wars and battles against the Muslims. Ali (peace be upon him) played a pivotal role in defending Islam and Muslims, killing many leaders of disbelief and deviation, including some members of the Umayyad clan. Therefore, it was natural for the Umayyads to hold hatred and animosity towards Ali (peace be upon him), who represented justice and truth in all its forms.

In the midst of this deep-seated historical animosity, it is not surprising that Muawiya translated his hatred and malice towards Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) into cursing and slandering him, ordering and disseminating such actions among the Muslims after he seized power and control over the Muslim’s wealth. This fact has been documented in Muslim sources. However, some researchers, who adhere to the Wahhabi Salafi ideology, try to deny these historical facts and shape history according to their wishes, rather than what actually happened and occurred. They even deny that Muawiya ordered the cursing or was pleased with it, despite the documented evidence that he did so.

Indeed, they admit that some isolated and abnormal cases occurred, but they do not reach the level of a phenomenon or organized government action. Thus, it is crucial to understand the historical context and sources to comprehend the roots of the conflict between Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) and Muawiya, which had far-reaching consequences for the Islamic community.

However, this claim is not based on solid scientific evidence. On the contrary, the evidence and proofs contradict it. Muawiya made great efforts to establish the pillars of his detestable Sunnah, which included insulting and cursing Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him). He himself sometimes engaged in this behavior and ordered his governors to do the same and propagate it among all Muslims at other times. This Umayyad Sunnah continued even after Muawiya’s demise, as Umayyad rulers and governors upheld it for decades. It wasn’t until Umar ibn Abdul Aziz invalidated this Sunnah that it finally came to an end. This will be proven in light of the authentic books of hadith and history recognized by the Sunni scholars themselves.

The Cursing of Imam Ali (a.s) during Muawiya time

The fact that Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) was cursed during the time of Mu’awiyah is a historical truth that cannot be doubted, as it is mentioned in the most reliable sources and has a wide reputation in Islamic history, as it will become clear.

Mu’awiyah, as evidenced by the Hadith and historical evidence, was unable to hide his animosity towards Ali (peace be upon him) as a result of what had happened between them in the recent and distant past. He resorted to cursing and belittling Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) as a way of expressing his anger and resentment, and he did not stop there. He ordered Muslims to insult and curse Ali and called on them to follow his example.

Mu’awiyah cursing Imam Ali (a.s) mentioned in authentic Hadith

1-The Hadith of Saad ibn Abi Waqqas

Muslim reported in his Sahih, with his chain of transmission, from Amir ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, from his father, who said, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan ordered Sa’d and said, “What prevents you from cursing Abu Turab (Imam Ali)?” Saad replied, “I remember three things the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) said about him, and I would never curse him, for having just one of these virtues is dearer to me than red camels. I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) say to him …, ‘Ali, aren’t you pleased to be to me as Aaron was to Moses?’ But there will be no prophethood after me. I also heard him say on the day of Khaybar, ‘I will certainly give the flag to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and is loved by Allah and His Messenger.’ We all stretched our necks out for it, but he said, ‘Call Ali for me.’ Ali was brought, his eyes inflamed, so the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) put his saliva on his eyes and handed him the flag, and Allah granted him victory. When this verse was revealed: ‘So say, “Come, let us call our sons and your sons…”,’ the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) called Ali, Fatimah, Hasan, and Hussain and said, ‘O Allah, these are my family.'” [1]

This authentic Hadith, according to the principles of Ahl al-Sunnah, because it is found in Sahih Muslim, provides clear evidence that Muawiya ordered the companion Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas to curse Amir al-Mu’minin Ali (peace be upon him), and he wondered why he did not comply with this order.

It also provides implicit evidence that Muawiya himself cursed Ali (peace be upon him) as well. For someone who orders insulting, it is not surprising that he himself insults and belittles Ali. This is supported by Ibn Majah’s narration of the same Hadith, as will be mentioned.

This Hadith, as it cannot be challenged regarding its chain of transmission, has led some to cast doubt on its implication, despite its clear meaning.

Interpretation of the Hadith

Some commentators of the Hadith books have adhered to certain interpretations and digressions to create confusion about the intended meaning of the Hadith. These attempts are often weak and far from a proper understanding of the apparent speech. Among these interpretations are those mentioned by Al-Qadi Iyad, who passed away in 554 AH, in his book “Ikmal al-Muallim bi Fawa’id Muslim,” which is a commentary on Sahih Muslim [2], and Al-Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim as well. Al-Mubarakfuri followed them in his “Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi” [3], and perhaps there are others.

They mentioned two interpretations, after strongly assuming that Muawiyah’s statement did not explicitly order saad to curse Ali (peace be upon him):

The first interpretation: Muawiyah merely asked Sa’d about the reason that prevented him from cursing, as if he were saying: Did you refrain out of piety, fear, or something else? If it was out of piety and reverence for not cursing, then you are correct and virtuous. If it was for another reason, then there is another answer. Perhaps Sa’d was in a group that cursed, but he did not join them and could not denounce them, so Muawiyah asked him this question.

The second interpretation: The meaning of the Hadith is that Muawiyah asked Sa’d and said to him: What prevented you from criticizing Ali’s opinion and endeavor against us, and showing people the goodness of our opinion and endeavor, and that he was wrong? Here, they interpreted cursing as meaning to criticize an opinion!

It is astonishing to hear such interpretations and explanations, but this astonishment may disappear if one knows the reason behind them, as the saying goes. It is not surprising if we examine the reason that led scholars like them to commit such far-fetched interpretations that are far from convention and language, as well as far from the general context of the speech.

The real reason behind these interpretations is the belief of these scholars and others in the justice of all Companions, that despite their diversity and differences, they are above suspicion. So, whatever Hadiths – even those with the highest clarity and strongest chains of narration – are understood as criticisms or involve any of the Companions, they must be interpreted in any way possible, even if it contradicts general principles.

Al-Qadi Iyad and Al-Nawawi stated (the quote is attributed to Al-Nawawi): “The scholars have said: The Hadiths that, on the surface, involve a Companion must be interpreted” [4].

Muawiyah is definitively included in this general principle according to a group of scholars; hence, they mentioned this interpretation of the Hadith related to Muawiyah after stating the principle.

Thus, according to this rule, it is very natural for the interpretations and explanations to be in the form you see, which has no connection to any linguistic or conventional standards.

Based on this, these interpretations are not acceptable to those who do not believe in that principle, and this is a discussion at the level of the intellectual structure of these interpretations.

After explaining the psychological roots of these interpretations and that they are based on a principle with many flaws, we now attempt to discuss these interpretations and prove their errors and contradictions to the rules of interpretation. Let’s start with the first interpretation, which implies: It is possible that Saad was sitting among a group that cursed Ali (peace be upon him), and he refrained from joining them in cursing and could not denounce them. Muawiyah only asked him to clarify the reason preventing him from joining them in cursing, as if to say: Did you refrain out of piety, fear, or something else? If it was out of piety and reverence, then you are correct and virtuous. If it was for another reason, then there is another answer.

The response to this is:

1. It is clear that the word “order” at the beginning of the Hadith explicitly indicates that there was an order issued by Muawiyah related to cursing the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him). When Saad refused to do so, Muawiyah then asked him: “What has prevented you from cursing Abu Turab?” If the matter was merely asking about the reason for his refusal, then what is the meaning of “Muawiyah order”?

There is no doubt that there is a connection between Muawiyah’s order to curse and his questioning of Sa’d about the reason for his refusal. The direction of this connection is that after ordering him to curse and Saad refusing to comply, Muawiyah then asked him about the reason for his refusal.

Therefore, there is an order to curse, a refusal to curse, and a question about the reason for the refusal, which the context of the speech clearly indicates.

2. Al-Nasa’i recorded this Hadith in the “Characteristics of the Commander of the Faithful” (peace be upon him) [5], in which he said, “What prevents you from cursing Abu Turab?” Al-Hakim recorded it in “Al-Mustadrak” with the wording, “What prevents you from cursing the son of Abu Talib?” Saad replied, “I will not curse as long as I remember three things.” Al-Hakim stated, “This Hadith is authentic according to the conditions of the two Sheikhs (Bukhari and Muslim), and they did not record it with this context.” Al-Dhahabi, in his summary, said, “It is authentic only according to the conditions of Muslim” [6].

The narration is in the present tense and not in the past, as you can see. Its indication is clear that Muawiyah ordered Saad to curse Ali at the moment of speaking, saying, “What prevents you, Saad, now that I have ordered you to curse Ali?” The conversation does not address an incident that happened to Saad in the past.

3. Ibn Majah narrates another account of the incident between Muawiyah and Saad bin Abi Waqqas, which clearly demonstrates that Muawiyah explicitly cursed Ali, not just ordered others to do so. It is narrated by Musa bin Muslim, Ibn Sabit (Abdur Rahman), from Saad bin Abi Waqqas[7]. He said, “Muawiyah arrived during one of his pilgrimages, and Saad visited him. They mentioned Ali, and Muawiyah insulted him. Saad became angry and said, ‘You say this about a man I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say, “Whoever I am his master, Ali is his master,” and I heard him say, “You are to me like Aaron to Moses, except there is no prophet after me,” and I heard him say, “Today I will give the banner to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger…”‘”[8]

In the explanation of this narration, Al-Sindi comments, “His saying, ‘insulted him,’ means that Muawiyah insulted Ali and cursed him, and he even ordered Saad to curse, as mentioned in Muslim and Tirmidhi. The origin of these worldly matters between them is known, and there is no power nor strength except in Allah, and may Allah forgive us.”[9]

Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates this account in his collection, with his chain of narration from Abdur Rahman bin Sabit, who quotes Saad as saying, “Muawiyah arrived during one of his pilgrimages, and Saad visited him. They mentioned Ali, and Muawiyah insulted him. Saad became angry and said, ‘You say this about a man I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say has three qualities…'”[10]

4. Ibn Kathir narrates Saad’s narration from Abu Najihi Yasar Al-Makki, which clearly indicates that Muawiyah insulted and belittled Ali. Ibn Kathir says, “Abu Zur’ah Al-Dimashqi narrated to us: Ahmad bin Khalid Al-Dhahabi Abu Sa’id narrated to us: Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated to us from Abdullah bin Abi Najihi, from his father, who said, ‘When Muawiyah performed the Hajj and took Saad bin Abi Waqqas by the hand, he said, “O Abu Ishaq, we are a people who have been exhausted by this warfare, so much so that we almost forget some of the Sunnah. So, let’s perform Tawaf together.” When they finished, he took him to the house of assembly and seated him on his bed. Then, he mentioned Ali bin Abi Talib and spoke ill of him. Saad said, “You brought me into your house, seated me on your bed, and then you started insulting Ali? By Allah, having one of his three virtues is dearer to me than possessing everything under the sun…”‘”[11]

5. Ibn Taymiyyah’s acknowledgment of the hadith indicating Muawiyah’s order to curse Ali (peace be upon him), where he said: “As for the hadith of Saad when Muawiyah ordered him to curse Ali but he refused, Muawiyah asked: ‘What prevents you from cursing Ali ibn Abi Talib?’ Saad responded with three things that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, and he would not curse Ali because having one of these traits is more beloved to him than red camels. This is a valid hadith narrated by Muslim in his Sahih”[12].

Ibn Taymiyyah also mentioned this fact elsewhere: “It is known that Allah has put love for the companions in the heart of every Muslim, especially the caliphs, may Allah be pleased with them, especially Abu Bakr and Umar; for the majority of the companions and the followers loved them and considered them the best of generations. But this was not the case with Ali; many of the companions and followers hated him, cursed him, and fought against him”[13].

The most prominent and clearest example of the companions who hated Ali (peace be upon him), cursed him and fought against him is Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. The fair-minded Salafi scholar, Hasan bin Farhan Al-Maliki, said: “I asked our scholar, the great scholar Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, may Allah protect him – who is one of the top scholars of Hadith in our present time – about this narration in Muslim. Does it prove that the Umayyads used to curse Ali?! He said: This is not far from Marwan and others, and these are slips for which we ask Allah for protection!”[14]. Sheikh Ibn Baz avoided mentioning Muawiyah even though the narration in Muslim is about Muawiyah, not Marwan.

As for the second interpretation of the hadith’s meaning, which would suggest that the meaning of Muawiyah’s statement to Saad, “What prevents you from cursing Ali?”, means: What prevents you from criticizing Ali (peace be upon him) for his opinion and effort, and showing people the goodness of Muawiyah’s opinion and the correctness of his effort? This interpretation explains the word “curse” as a criticism of opinion and effort.

The response to this interpretation is the same as the response to the first interpretation: it does not align with the beginning of the hadith, which indicates the order to curse, and it contradicts the understanding of some scholars, as mentioned. Furthermore, this interpretation is very distant from the apparent meaning of the word and the context of the hadith, and there is no evidence to support it. The meaning of the word “curse” is to belittle and insult, mention faults, and not criticize opinion and effort. The evidence for this is Saad’s statement that his refusal to curse and insult is due to the virtues and merits unique to Ali (peace be upon him). If the issue were about criticism of opinion and effort, there would be no need for Saad to justify his refusal with those virtues; for a mistake in effort does not conflict with the presence of those virtues and merits from the Sunni perspective.

Some late hadith scholars, such as Dr. Musa Shaheen Lashin[15] in Fath al-Mun’im, have considered these interpretations arbitrary and far from the truth. Commenting on Al-Nawawi, he says: “Al-Nawawi tries to exonerate Muawiyah from this evil… This interpretation is clearly arbitrary and distant. What is proven is that Muawiyah used to order the cursing of Ali, and he was not infallible, so he made mistakes. However, we must refrain from denigrating any of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), and cursing Ali during Muawiyah’s era is explicit in our ninth narration [16]”[17].

2. Hadith of Buraydah

mong the hadiths indicating Muawiyah’s practice of the disgraceful act of cursing the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) is what Al-Ruyani narrated in his Musnad with his chain of narration from Ibn Buraidah on the authority of his father: “He entered upon Muawiyah, and a man was attacking Ali and insulting him. He said: ‘O Muawiyah, do you permit me to speak?’ Muawiyah said: ‘Speak.’ He thought he would say something similar to what his companion had said. He then said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: ‘I hope to intercede for a number equal to every tree and stone, yet you, Muawiyah, hope for it and Ali does not?!’ Muawiyah said: ‘Be silent; you are an old man who has lost his mind.'”[18]

Ahmad ibn Hanbal recorded the hadith in his Musnad from Al-Aswad ibn Aamir, from Abi Israel, from Harith ibn Hasirah, from Ibn Buraidah, from his father, but with the wording: “He entered upon Muawiyah and found a man speaking,” instead of Al-Ruyani’s wording: “He entered upon Muawiyah, and a man was attacking Ali and insulting him.”[19]

Hamza Ahmad Al-Zain commented on the hadith, saying: “Its chain of narration is good.”[20]

Al-Haythami said in Majma’ Al-Zawa’id: “Ahmad narrated it, and its transmitters were authenticated, although there is much weakness in Abi Israel Al-Malai.”

 Muawiyah’s Cursing of the Commander of the Faithful in Historical Sources

Some reputable historical sources have alluded to the issue of Muawiyah cursing Ali, the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him), and ordering others to do so or remain silent about it, at the very least. Al-Tabari reported in his history: “When Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan appointed Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah as the governor of Kufa in Jumada of the year 41 AH, he addressed him, by praising Allah and extolling Him. Then he said, ‘As for what follows, the one with wisdom has what the stick breaks before today, and the seeker has said:

For the one with wisdom, before today, has what the stick breaks

And the man knows nothing but to learn

The wise may pay you without learning, and I wanted to entrust you with many things, but I leave them relying on your insight to please me, bring happiness to my rule, and improve the condition of my subjects. I will not leave you without entrusting you with one quality: do not hold back[22] from cursing Ali and disparaging him, praying for mercy on Uthman and seeking forgiveness for him, criticizing the companions of Ali and excluding them, and refraining from listening to them. Praise the followers of Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, draw close to them, and listen to them.'”[23]

Al-Baladhuri said, “Al-Mada’ini narrated to me from Abdullah ibn Fayd and Suheim ibn Hafs, who said: Muawiyah wrote to Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, ‘Make cursing Ali and belittling him public.'”[24]

Ibn Qutaybah Al-Dinawari, who passed away in 276 AH, wrote in ‘Uyun Al-Akhbar, “I heard from Hafs ibn Imran Al-Razi, from Al-Hasan ibn Ammarah, from Al-Manhal ibn Amr, who said: Muawiyah said to Shaddad ibn Amr ibn Aws, ‘Stand up and mention Ali in order to belittle him.'”[25]

Ibn Al-Adim Al-Halabi Al-Hanafi, who passed away in 660 AH, narrated in his hadith from Abu Ayyub Khalid ibn Zaid Al-Badri, who said: “He is the one the Prophet (peace be upon him) stayed with when he first arrived in Medina. He was at the forefront with Ali on the day of Siffin. He debated the Khawarij on the day of Nahrawan. He said to Muawiyah when he cursed Ali: ‘Stop, O Muawiyah, from cursing Ali among the people.’ Muawiyah said: ‘I cannot stop them.’ Abu Ayyub said: ‘By Allah, I will not reside in a land where I hear Ali being cursed.’ He then left for the seashore and died there. May Allah have mercy on him.”[26]

Al-Qadi Al-Tanukhi described Muawiyah as follows: “He was the first to curse Muslims on the pulpits and the first to imprison women for the wrongdoings of men; when he sought Amr ibn Al-Hamq Al-Khuza’i for his allegiance to Ali, he imprisoned his wife in Damascus. When he had Amr’s neck severed, he sent the head to his wife while she was in prison and ordered the guard to throw the head into her lap. He made it mandatory for people to curse Ali and disassociate from him, and whoever refused was killed, or sent to his governor Ziyad to be buried alive.”[27]

These examples of hadiths and historical accounts collectively indicate that Muawiyah cursed and insulted Ali (peace be upon him) and was pleased with others cursing and insulting him. He even ordered it and made it a common practice across the Islamic state, as a number of his governors in Islamic provinces adhered to this bad practice.

After establishing that Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan cursed the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) and ordered his cursing, he committed a major sin that took him out of the religion. Cursing Ali (peace be upon him) is cursing the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and whoever curses, insults, and belittles the Messenger of Allah has left the religion of Allah. It is proven from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that whoever curses Ali has cursed the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family):

Ahmad narrated in his Musnad, and Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak with their chain of narration: “From Abdullah Al-Jadali, he said: ‘I entered upon Umm Salamah, and she said to me: ‘Is the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed among you?’ I said: ‘I seek refuge in Allah,’ or ‘Glory be to Allah,’ or a similar word. She said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: Whoever curses Ali has cursed me.'”[28]

Al-Hakim said this is a hadith with a sound chain of narration, and it was not mentioned by others, but Al-Dhahabi agreed with him.[29]

Al-Haythami said: “Ahmad narrated it, and its narrators are the narrators of Sahih except for Abu Abdullah Al-Jadali, who is trustworthy.”[30]

The govenoras of Muawiyah curse Imam Ali (a.s)

Some sources have documented that several of Muawiyah’s governors practiced this hateful tradition of cursing Ali (peace be upon him) openly and shamelessly in front of the Muslims.

Considering the evidence, such as Muawiyah’s advice to Al-Mughira ibn Shu’ba when he appointed him as the governor of Kufa, it cannot be assumed that these governors acted on their own. It is also unreasonable to think that Muawiyah was unaware of their actions or was unable to prevent them given his strong authority at the time.

We will refer to some historical sources that confirm that a number of Muawiyah’s governors consistently followed the orders of their ruler and governor in this practice.

These sources are numerous and varied in their implications, all converging on the fact that cursing the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) during Muawiyah’s time was a clear phenomenon practiced by preachers and governors. Some of these sources mentioned these preachers and governors generally and collectively, while others specifically named them. Ibn Al-Athir narrated in “Usd al-Ghaba” from Shahr ibn Hawshab that he said: “A certain man appointed preachers who would insult Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, and attack him. The last of them was a man from the Ansar or others named Anis. He praised Allah and glorified Him, then said: ‘You have been cursing and insulting this man a lot today, and I swear by Allah, I have heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: ‘Indeed, I will intercede on the Day of Resurrection for more than what is on the earth of dust and trees. I swear by Allah, no one is more kind to his relatives than him. Do you claim his intercession will reach you but not his own family?!'”[31].

The unnamed man is Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, but his name was omitted either out of fear or for some other reason. The narration was also mentioned by Ibn Qani’, who passed away in 351 AH[32], in his “Mu’jam al-Sahaba” from Shahr ibn Hawshab with the omission of the word “unnamed” saying: “Men stood as preachers insulting Ali, may Allah be pleased with him until the last of them was a man called Anis who praised Allah and glorified Him and said…”[33].

Ibn Hajar in “Al-Isaba” said: “Al-Baghawi, Ibn Shahin, and Al-Tabarani in Al-Awsat narrated the hadith of ‘Ibad ibn Rashid from Maimun ibn Siyah from Shahr ibn Hawshab, who said: ‘Men stood as preachers insulting Ali and attacking him…'”[34].

The widespread phenomenon of cursing and insulting the Commander of the Faithful led to the disapproval and astonishment of some of the Mothers of the Believers, such as Umm Salamah. Ahmad narrated in his Musnad from Abdullah Al-Jadali who said: “I entered upon Umm Salamah, and she asked me: ‘Is the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed among you?’ I replied: ‘God forbid,’ or ‘Glory be to Allah,’ or a similar word. She said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: Whoever curses Ali has cursed me'”[35].

Muawiyah and his governors did not stop at cursing and insulting, they also forced people to do so. In the Musnad of Abu Ya’la, from Abu Bakr ibn Khaled ibn Arfatah: “Saad ibn Malik came and said: ‘I have heard that you have been cursing Ali in Kufa. Have you cursed him?’ He replied: ‘God forbid.’ Saad said: ‘By the One in whose hand is Saad’s soul, I have heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say something about Ali: If a saw were placed on my head to curse him, I would never curse him ever'”[36]. There are other pieces of evidence that will be mentioned later.

Here is a list of governors who cursed and insulted Ali (peace be upon him) in compliance with the orders of the companion, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan:

1.Al-Mughira ibn Shu’ba

As mentioned earlier, Muawiyah had ordered him when he was appointed as the governor of Kufa to persistently curse Ali (peace be upon him) and demean him and his followers. Al-Mughira executed Muawiyah’s order perfectly throughout his governorship. Al-Tabari said: “Al-Mughira governed Kufa on behalf of Muawiyah for seven years and several months. He was of the best character and the most desirous of well-being, except that he never stopped condemning Ali and attacking him”[38].

The historical and Hadith sources provide us with examples of Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba’s practice of insulting and cursing Ali ibn Abi Talib, sometimes directly and sometimes by encouraging others to do so. Al-Hakim al-Naysaburi reported a hadith, in which Al-Mughira cursed Ali and Zaid bin Arqam stood up and said: “O Mughira, don’t you know that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade cursing the dead? Why do you curse Ali when he has passed away?” Al-Hakim said that this hadith is authentic according to Muslim’s criteria but it was not reported by Muslim, and Al-Dhahabi agreed in his summary[39]. Al-Albani also said in his series that it is as they said.[40]

Due to Al-Mughira’s well-known enmity towards Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and his cursing, he became a target for some of Ali’s enemies who openly cursed Ali in his presence without fear as long as Al-Mughira approved of it.

Abu Dawood reported in his Sunan with his chain of narration from Sadaqah bin al-Muthanna al-Nakha’i: My grandfather Riyaah bin al-Harith said, “I was sitting with someone in the mosque of Kufa, and with him were the people of Kufa. Sa’eed bin Zaid bin Amr bin Nufail came, and the man welcomed him, greeted him, and seated him near his feet on the bed. A man from the people of Kufa came, named Qais bin ‘Alqama, and he started insulting and cursing. Sa’eed asked, ‘Who is this man cursing?’ He replied, ‘He is cursing Ali.’ Sa’eed said, ‘I see the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) being insulted in your presence, yet you do not object or change it.'”[41]

The unnamed person mentioned by Abu Dawood was Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba, as explicitly mentioned in the Musnad of Ahmad: “Sadaqah bin al-Muthanna narrated from Riyaah bin al-Harith bin al-Mughira that Shu’ba was in the Great Mosque with the people of Kufa on his right and left. A man named Sa’eed bin Zaid came to him, and Al-Mughira greeted him and seated him near his feet on the bed. A man from the people of Kufa came, and Al-Mughira faced him as the man insulted and cursed. The man asked, ‘Who is this cursing, O Mughira?’ He replied, ‘He is cursing Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him…'”[42] Also Asim narrated this event in his book Alsunna stating the name of Al-mughira bin shu`ba[43].

As for his hosting preachers who would curse Ali (peace be upon him), Ahmad reported in his Musnad from Hilal bin Yasaf, from Abdullah bin Dhalim al-Mazani, who said: “When Muawiya left Kufa, he appointed Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba. He then hosted preachers who would insult Ali. I was beside Sa’eed bin Zaid bin Amr bin Nufail, who became angry. He stood up, took my hand, and I followed him. He said, ‘Do you not see this unjust man who orders the cursing of a man from the people of Paradise?'”[44], this hadith was authenticated by Ahmad Muhamad Shaker[45].

Al-Hakim al-Nishaburi reported the hadith in Al-Mustadrak with another version: “Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba would insult Ali in his sermons and host preachers who would insult him. While he was preaching and insulting Ali, Sa’eed bin Zaid bin Amr bin Nufail al-Adawi was beside me. He hit me with his hand and said, ‘Do you not see what this man is saying?!'”[46]. Abo Dawood also narrated it[47].

Ibn Al-Athir reported: “When Al-Mughira was in charge of Kufa, he appointed Kathir bin Shihab over the Rayy region, who frequently cursed Ali on the pulpit of Rayy.”[48]

2.Marwan ibn Al-Hakam

Among Muawiya’s governors who were following his orders to curse Ali (peace be upon him) was Marwan ibn Al-Hakam. He was born during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. There is disagreement about the year of his death, and his companionship with the Prophet is not established because he was in exile with his father, Al-Hakam ibn Abi al-Aas, when the Prophet expelled them to Taif. At that time, he was a child who could not understand, and he was known as “the thread of falsehood.”

During the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan, Marwan was brought back to Medina – despite being expelled by the Prophet – along with his father Al-Hakam, who was Uthman’s uncle. Uthman appointed his cousin Marwan as his scribe, married him to his daughter, Umm Aban, and gave him a fifth of the spoils of Africa. Marwan was given Uthman’s ring and abused his power in the worst possible ways, leading to resentment and anger from the people towards him and Caliph Uthman for bringing him close.[49]

Marwan ibn Al-Hakam curses Ali and his family (peace be upon them)

Marwan ibn Al-Hakam was consistent in cursing Imam Ali on the pulpit every Friday during his rule over Medina on behalf of Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan. In the book “Al-‘Ilal” by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, it is narrated by Umayr ibn Ishaq, who said: “Marwan was our ruler for six years, and he used to curse Ali every Friday. Then he was dismissed and Sa’id ibn al-‘Aas was appointed for two years, and he did not curse him. Then Marwan was reinstated and continued to curse him.”[50]

Al-Dhahabi also narrated in his book “Al-Siyar” from Umayr ibn Ishaq, who said: “Marwan used to curse Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, during Friday sermons. Then he was replaced by Sa’id ibn al-‘Aas, who did not insult him.”[51]

Al-Bukhari and Muslim both reported the case of Marwan cursing Ali (peace be upon him) on the pulpit of Medina and even ordering it. However, they attempted to obscure the issue and downplay it by covering up Marwan’s name and not explicitly mentioning the insult, instead expressing it with deceptive phrases. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is narrated from Abdul Aziz ibn Abi Hazim that a man came to Sahl ibn Sa’d and said: “This man, the governor of Medina, calls Ali from the pulpit.” Sahl asked, “What does he say?” The man replied, “He calls him Abu Turab” Sahl laughed and said, “By Allah, only the Prophet (peace be upon him) called him that, and he had no dearer name than that.”[52]

And I said, “O Abu Abbas, how a?” He said, “Ali came to Fatimah, then he went out and lay down in the mosque. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Where is your cousin?’ She said, ‘He is in the mosque.’ So he went out to him and found that his cloak had fallen from his back and the dust had covered his back. So he began to wipe the dust from his back, saying, ‘Sit down, O Abu Turab.’ He said this twice.” [53]

Here, we can see how a scholar like Al-Bukhari deliberately obscured and concealed the identity of Marwan ibn Al-Hakam, referring to him only as “the governor of Medina.”

We find that Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari says: “And so and so mentioned, I have not come across his explicit name, and it occurred at the Ismaili, so he was so and so, son of so and so”[54]. However, we find that he stated in his book Introduction to Fath al-Bari that this person is none other than Marwan ibn al-Hakam, saying: “And the prince of Medina is Marwan ibn al-Hakam, as far as I know”[55]. This is strange from Ibn Hajar.

We also note that Bukhari expressed cursing with an ambiguous term, replacing it with the term “to call”, so we do not know what the meaning of “calling upon Ali at the pulpit” is?! It is an ambiguous and deceptive phrase; hence Ibn Hajar interpreted it for us through another version of Tabarani from Abdul Aziz ibn Abi Hazim: “He called you to curse Ali”[56]. Aini and Qastallani interpreted it as: “He wanted him to mention Ali in something displeasing”[57], but they did not clarify what this displeasing thing is.

As for Muslim’s narration of the same issue, it also omitted Marwan’s name and did not mention it explicitly, but it mentioned cursing and insulting clearly:

Muslim narrates in his Sahih: “Qutaiba ibn Said told us, Abdul Aziz (meaning ibn Abi Hazim) told us from Abi Hazim, from Sahl ibn Saad who said: A man from the Marwan family was appointed over Medina, he said: so he called Sahl ibn Saad and ordered him to curse Ali, so Sahl refused, then he told him: if you refuse, then say: may Allah curse Abu Turab. Sahl said: there was no name dearer to Ali than Abu Turab, and he would be happy when he was called by it. So, he asked him: tell us the story of why he was called Abu Turab? He said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Fatima’s house and did not find Ali in the house… “[58].

Marwan did not stop at cursing Ali (peace be upon him) every Friday, but he also took advantage of other religious occasions, such as Eid prayers, to unleash his deep-seated hatred for Ali (peace be upon him) by cursing him on those two great days; causing Muslims’ feelings and resentment to flare up, prompting them to leave the sermon that followed the prayer so as not to listen to his cursing and insults. At this point, Marwan was forced to introduce a new innovation by delivering the sermon before the prayer so that people would hear the cursing of Ali (peace be upon him) against their will and desire.

Thus, Marwan was the first to deliver the Eid sermon before the prayer, after its correct time had been immediately after the Eid prayer. This is what was narrated by Muslim’s Sahih, Sunan, and other sources[59]

With this, the voices of cursing Ali (peace be upon him), the Commander of the Faithful, reached the ears of Hasan and Husayn (peace be upon them), causing them pain and breaking their hearts as they witnessed how the affairs of Muslims had deteriorated to the point where people would seek closeness to Allah by cursing someone like Ali (peace be upon him) from the pulpit of the Messenger of Allah and during the blessed days of Muslims.

After all these pieces of evidence and testimonies, there can be no doubt that Marwan was a systematic and continuous curser and insulter of Ali (peace be upon him), and these were not rare or infrequent incidents.

The list is endless when it comes to those who cursed Imam Ali, following the example of Muawya, and this continued for over 70 years until the time of Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz. Simply pick up a history book and read it to learn more about it.


[1] Al-Nawawi, Muslim bin Al-Hajjaj, Sahih Muslim: Vol. 7, p. 120. Al-Tirmidhi, Muhammad bin Isa, Sunan Al-Tirmidhi: Vol. 5, p. 301. Al-Tirmidhi commented on the Hadith saying: “This is a good, authentic, and rare Hadith of this type.”

[2] Al-Qadi ‘Iyad, Ikmal Al-Mu’lim bi Fawa’id Muslim: Vol. 7, pp. 415-416, edited by Dr. Yahya Ismail.

[3] Al-Mubarakfuri, Muhammad bin ‘Abd Al-Rahman, Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi: Vol. 9, pp. 237-238, with Hadiths authenticated by ‘Isam Al-Sabayti.

[4] Al-Qadi ‘Iyad, Ikmal Al-Mu’lim bi Fawa’id Muslim: Vol. 7, p. 415. Al-Nawawi, Muhyi Al-Din, Sharh Sahih Muslim: Vol. 15, p. 175.

[5] Al-Nasa’i, Ahmad bin Shu’ayb, Khasa’is Amir Al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him): p. 48.

[6] Al-Hakim Al-Nishaburi, Al-Mustadrak, with Al-Dhahabi’s Takhrij: Vol. 3, p. 108.

[7] This Hadith has been criticized due to a gap in its chain of transmission, as ‘Abd Al-Rahman bin Sabit did not hear Saad bin Abi Waqqas. However, the gap in the chain of transmission is not definitive but rather doubtful. Therefore, Ibn Kathir Al-Dimashqi classified this Hadith as good in his book Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah, stating: “It was not classified, and its chain of transmission is good.” (Vol. 7, p. 353). Additionally, Al-Albani authenticated what was narrated by Ibn Majah, which contains ‘Abd Al-Rahman bin Sabit from Sa’d, in his commentary on Sunan Ibn Majah, saying: “It is authentic.” (Nasir Al-Din Al-Albani, Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah: Vol. 1, p. 58). Abu Ishaq Al-Huwayni also affirmed the authenticity of the Hadith in Khasa’is Amir Al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) by Al-Nasa’i, stating: “Its chain of transmission is authentic.” (Tahdhib Khasa’is Al-Imam ‘Ali (peace be upon him) by Al-Nasa’i: p. 24, Hadith No. 10, edited by Abu Ishaq Al-Huwayni Al-Hijazi bin Muhammad bin Sharif). Moreover, Saad bin Abi Waqqas’s narration has also been reported by Rubay’ah Al-Jarsh

[8] Ibn Majah, Muhammad bin Yazid al-Qazwini, Sunan Ibn Majah: Vol. 1, p. 45.

[9] Al-Sindi, Nur al-Din bin Abdul Hadi, Hashiyat al-Sindi Ala Ibn Majah: Vol. 1, p. 108.

[10] Ibn Abi Shaybah al-Kufi, Al-Musannaf: Vol. 7, p. 496.

[11] Al-Dimashqi, Ismail, Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah: Vol. 7, p. 376.

[12] Ibn Taymiyyah, Ahmad, Minhaj al-Sunnah: Vol. 5, p. 42.

[13] The previous source: Vol. 7, p. 137-138.

[14] Al-Maliki, Hasan bin Farhan, Nahw Inqadh al-Tarikh al-Islami: p. 22.

[15] He obtained a Ph.D. in interpretation and Hadith from the College of Principles of Religion in 1965. The management of Al-Azhar institutes appointed him as a professor of interpretation and Hadith for approximately twenty years from 1948-1965. He was the head of the International Center for Seerah and Sunnah and a member of the Islamic Research Academy, combining Quranic sciences, Hadith sciences, and deep jurisprudence with precise understanding.

See Al-Tibyan magazine issued by the Main Sharia Society in Cairo, issue zero, 1430 AH.

[16] This is what a Muslim narrated in his Sahih from Sahl bin Sa’d, who said: “A man from the family of Marwan was appointed over Medina, and he summoned Sahl bin Sa’d and ordered him to curse Ali. Sahl refused, so he said to him, ‘If you refuse, then say, “May Allah curse Abu Turab.”‘” Sahih Muslim: Vol. 7, p. 123-124.

[17] Musa Shihin Lashin, Fath al-Mun’im Sharh Sahih Muslim: Vol. 9, p. 332.

[18] Abu Muhammad bin Harun al-Ruwayani, Musnad al-Ruwayani: Vol. 1, p. 73, edited and annotated by Ayman Ali Abu Yaman.

[19] Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad: Vol. 5, p. 347.

[20] The previous source: Vol. 16, p. 474, edited and indexed by Hamza Ahmed Al-Zain.

[21] Al-Haythami, Ali bin Abi Bakr, Majma’ al-Zawa’id: Vol. 10, p. 378.

[22] “La tatahham”: meaning “do not abstain.”

[23] At-Tabari, Muhammad bin Jarir, Tarikh at-Tabari: Vol. 4, p. 188.

[24] Al-Baladhuri, Ahmad bin Yahya, Ansab al-Ashraf: Vol. 5, p. 30.

[25] Ad-Dinawari, Abdullah bin Muslim, Kitab Uyun al-Akhbar: Vol. 1, p. 55.

[26] Ibn al-Adim, Omar bin Ahmad, Bughyat at-Talab fi Tarikh Halab: Vol. 3, p. 214.

[27] Al-Qadi al-Tanukhi, al-Muhsin bin Ali, al-Faraj ba’d al-Shidda: Vol. 1, p. 214.

[28] Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad, Musnad Ahmad: Vol. 6, p. 323.

[29] Al-Hakim al-Nishapuri, Muhammad bin Abdullah, Al-Mustadrak with its summary by Al-Dhahabi: Vol. 3, p. 121.

[30] Al-Haythami, Ali bin Abi Bakr, Majma’ al-Zawa’id: Vol. 9, p. 130.

[31] Ibn al-Athir, Ali bin Abi al-Karam, Usd al-Ghaba: Vol. 1, p. 134.

[32] Among the prominent scholars and teachers of Ad-Daraqutni, Al-Dhahabi said in “Siyar A’lam al-Nubala”: “Ibn Qan’a the Hafiz, the brilliant Imam, the truthful, the Qadi, Abu al-Husayn Abd al-Baqi … he was well-traveled and knowledgeable in hadith.” Vol. 15, p. 526-527.

[33] Ibn Qan’a, Abd, Mu’jam al-Sahaba: Vol. 1, p. 162.

[34] Ibn Hajar, Ahmad bin Ali, Al-Isabah: Vol. 1, p. 287.

[35] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad: Vol. 6, p. 323. Al-Haythami said in Majma al-Zawa’id: “Ahmad reported it and its narrators are those of Sahih except for Abi Abdullah al-Judhali who is trustworthy.” Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Haythami, Majma al-Zawa’id: Vol. 9, p. 130. Abu Ya’la al-Mawsili also reported the hadith in his Musnad: Vol. 2, p. 253, and its narrators are reliable according to Hussein Asad, a scholar who verified the book. Al-Hakim also authenticated it in his Mustadrak and al-Dhahabi agreed. Al-Hakim al-Nishaburi, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, Al-Mustadrak with its supplement by al-Dhahabi: Vol. 3, p. 130.

[36] Ahmad ibn Ali Abu Ya’la al-Mawsili, Musnad Abi Ya’la: Vol. 12, p. 107. Al-Haythami said in Majma al-Zawa’id: “Abu Ya’la reported it and its chain is good.” Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Haythami, Majma al-Zawa’id: Vol. 9, p. 130.

[37] See: Ibn Abdel Barr, Yusuf ibn Abdel Allah, Al-Isti’ab: Vol. 4, pp. 1445-1446. Ahmed ibn Ali al-Dimashqi al-Maqdisi, Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah: Vol. 7, p. 94. Ahmed ibn Ali Ibn Hajar, Al-Isabah: Vol. 6, pp. 156-158.

[38] Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari: Vol. 4, p. 188.

[39] Al-Mustadrak with its supplement: Vol. 1, pp. 384-385. Sulaiman ibn Ahmad al-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir: Vol. 5, p. 168. Al-Haythami said: “Al-Tabarani reported it with two chains and the narrators of one of the chains are trustworthy.” Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Haythami, Majma al-Zawa’id: Vol. 8, p. 76. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad: Vol. 4, p. 369.

[40] Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah: Vol. 5, p. 396.

[41] Sulaiman ibn Dawud al-Tiyalisi, Sunan Abi Dawud: Vol. 2, p. 402.

[42] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad: Vol. 1, p. 187.

[43] Amr ibn Abi Asim, Kitab al-Sunnah: p. 606.

[44] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad: Vol. 1, p. 189.

[45] Ibid: Vol. 2, p. 294, annotated and indexed by Ahmad Muhammad Shakir.

[46] Al-Hakim al-Nisaburi, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, Al-Mustadrak: vol. 3, p. 450. Al-Nasa’i, Ahmad ibn Shu’ayb, Fada’il al-Sahaba: p. 27, and many other sources. This hadith is the hadith of the ten companions who were promised Paradise. We mention it here as an argument, regardless of our opinion on the hadith, which is one of the authentic hadiths according to the methodology of the scholars. It should be noted that many hadith scholars have transmitted the hadith of the ten companions without mentioning its introduction, which includes insulting Ali (peace be upon him) and praising orators.

[47] Al-Tayalisi, Sulaiman ibn Dawud, Sunan Abu Dawud: vol. 2, p. 401.

[48] Ibn al-Athir, Ali ibn Abu al-Karam, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh: vol. 3, p. 413-414.

[49] For more on Marwan’s biography, see Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Mizan al-I’tidal: vol. 4, p. 89. Ibn Hajar, Ahmad ibn Ali, Al-Isaba: vol. 3, p. 432. Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala: vol. 3, p. 477. Al-Dimashqi, Isma’il ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah: vol. 7, p. 208. Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Tarikh al-Islam: vol. 5, p. 231. Ibn Sa’d, Muhammad ibn Sa’d, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra: vol. 5, p. 36-39. And other sources have documented Marwan’s biography, such as Usd al-Ghaba, Al-Isti’ab, and others.

[50] Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad, Al-‘Ilal: vol. 3, p. 176. The hadith is also narrated by Ibn ‘Asakir in his book “Tarikh Madinat Dimashq”: vol. 57, p. 249. Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Tarikh al-Islam: vol. 5, p. 231.

[51] Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala: vol. 3, p. 447.

[52] Meaning “I asked him to tell me.”

[53] Al-Bukhari, Muhammad ibn Isma’il, Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 4, p. 207-208. The hadith is narrated in multiple places, such as in the Book of Prayer under the chapter “Sleeping in the Mosque” (hadith 441) and in the Book of seeking permission under the chapter “The One Who Speaks in the Mosque” (hadith 6280).

[54] Ibn Hajar, Ahmad ibn Ali, Fath al-Bari: vol. 7, p. 58.

[55] Ibn Hajar, Ahmad ibn Ali, Hadi al-Sari muqaddimah Fath al-Bari: p. 267.

[56] Ibn Hajar, Ahmad ibn Ali, Fath al-Bari: vol. 7, p. 58.

[57] Al-Ayni, Mahmoud bin Ahmad, ‘Umdat al-Qari: vol.16, p.217. Al-Qastallani, Ahmad bin Muhammad, Irshad al-Sari: vol.6, p.116.

[58] Al-Nisaburi, Muslim, Sahih Muslim: vol.7, pp.123-124.

[59] Al-Bukhari, Muhammad bin Ismail, Sahih al-Bukhari: vol.2, p.4. Al-Nisaburi, Muslim, Sahih Muslim: vol.1, p.50. Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad, Musnad Ahmad: vol.3, p.92.

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