Page 1135

1135 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY-OTHMAN AND ALI.

secure peace by negotiations; but Moawyah

was implacable, and the issue was given

to the decision of the sword-and the decision was rendered in favor of the Caliph.

During the four months that followed

several battles ensued, but the results were

indecisive. The general advantage was on

the side of Ali, whose successes, however,

were clouded by the loss of several able officers, among whom was the patriarch Ammar

Ibn Yaser. In one of the desultory fights Ali

spurred his steed within hearing of Moawyah,

and challenged him to come forth and decide

their quarrel by a personal combat; but the

wary rebel would not put his life upon such a

hazard.

His refusal precipitated a general battle,

which was fought during the night, and

which resulted in the rout of the Syrian army. When, however, the defeated insurgents were driven to their camp, and were about to be exterminated, they hoisted the

Koran on a lance and demanded that the dispute should be settled by the decisions of

the Book.

The victorious Ali was little disposed to

surrender the fruits of a triumph so hardly

won to an, arbitration which Moawyah had

many times refused; but the religious prejudices of the Moslems were so strong that they

trailed their lances in the presence of the Koran, and would not fight against those who

appealed to its decision. An arbiter was accordingly appointed from each army, Abu

Musa being chosen by Ali and Amru by

Moawyah.

The ambassadors met at Jumat al Joudel,

and the negotiations were undertaken. It

soon appeared that Musa was overreached by

the wit and subtlety of Moawyah's agent.

Amru succeeded in persuading him to a decision by which both Ali and Moawyah were to

be deposed and a new Caliph elected. When,

however, it came to the proclamation of the

result, and a tribunal had been erected between the two armies, Musa was induced to

go up first and to announce that Ali was deposed. It was then Arnru's turn to declare

the deposition of Moawyah; but instead of

making the proper proclamation, he ascended

the tribunal and said: "You have heard how

Musa on his part has deposed Ali; I on my

part depose him also, and I adjudge the Caliphate to Moawyah, and I invest him with it as I invest my finger with this ring; and I do

it with justice, for he is the rightful successor

and avenger of Othman."

Great were the surprise and discontent on

the announcement of this fraudulent decision.

Strange that a decision so procured and promulgated should have been regarded of binding force; but the bigotry and superstition of

the age were ready to enforce an agreement

which bore the semblance of faith, though its

substance was dearly a fraud. Ali accordingly

withdrew his army, and personal hatred and

religious animosity between the opposing

powers were substituted for honorable

battle.

Thus it was that victory already achieved

vanished from the grasp of the Caliph. The

Caliphate was profoundly shaken by the catastrophe, and the influence of Ali faded away

for a season. Dissension sprang up among

those who had been his adherents. One

party, called the Karigites, denounced the

Caliph bitterly for allowing himself to be circumvented by Moawyah and Amru. The

fanatics declared-and with great truth-that

the compact was, on the part of the Syrians,

a palpable fraud, and that its observance on

the part of the Arabians was a piece of superstitious folly.

The Karigites renounced their allegiance

and took up arms, and All was obliged to

suppress them by force. Meanwhile, Moawyah attempted to make

good the promise which he had given to Amru

respecting his restoration to authority in

Egypt. In order to secure by subtlety what he

could not accomplish by force, the Syrian governor forged a letter purporting to be written to

himself by Saad Ibn Kais, the governor of

Egypt, in which treacherous overtures were

made respecting an alliance against Ali. This

letter was permitted to fall into the hands of

the Caliph, whose mind was thereby poisoned

against Saad, and who appointed Mohammed,

the son of Abu Beker, to supersede him.

The government of Saad in Egypt had been

as popular as that of Mohammed proved to be

distasteful to the people. Dissension was spread abroad and revolt followed. Learning

of the condition of affairs, Ali sent out a new

governor, named Malec Shutur; but the latter

was poisoned before reaching his destination.

Affairs were thus thrown into such confusion

that Moawyah dispatched Amru with an army