Today is (give or take) the anniversary of the start of the Battle of Siffin, during Islam’s First Fitna, or civil war. Regular readers may have heard of it before. The Caliph, Ali, took an army of 80,000 men (this is likely too high in this context) against the governor of Syria, Muʿawiyah, and his 120,000 man army (likewise) in what is now Raqqa province in 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 especially became a pretext for resistance among several leading members of the Islamic community who had done quite well for themselves under Uthman.