Today is (give or take) the anniversary of the start of the Battle of Siffin, the key battle of the First Fitna (civil war) in Islamic history, about which you can read more here. The caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib, led an army of 80,000 men (allegedly) against the governor of Syria, Muʿawiyah, and his 120,000 man army (again, allegedly) in what is now the Raqqa province of Syria. Ali’s accession as Caliph had been marred by the assassination of his predecessor, Uthman, and by Ali’s inability and/or unwillingness to bring Uthman’s killers to justice. The latter point became a pretext for resistance among several leading members of the Islamic community who had done quite well for themselves under Uthman. In addition to what I’m sure was their keen sense of justice for the murdered former caliph, they were worried because it looked like Ali was planning to upend the social order in at least three ways:
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