'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, headed to Koofah from Al-Madeenah, when he heard that fighting broke out between 'Uthmaan Ibn Hunayf, his governor in Basrah, and the army of Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them. 'Ali organized a ten thousand-man army to fight them.
Al-Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad and Al-Qa'qaa' Ibn 'Amr, may Allah be pleased with them, were both sent by 'Ali to negotiate with Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them. The four agreed to refrain from fighting, after each party explained its point of view.
Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them, were of the opinion that the killers of 'Uthmaan should not be left at large. 'Ali thought that the matter should be postponed until things were settled. Therefore, punishment of the killers of 'Uthmaan had already been agreed upon. The difference of opinion between the two sides was only regarding the timing of it.
Following that agreement, the two armies, being relieved, were at rest. However, the followers of 'Abdullaah Ibn Saba', i.e. killers of 'Uthmaan, were not at ease at all because that agreement was against them, as mentioned by At-Tabari, Ibn Katheer, Ibn Al-Atheer, Ibn Hazm and others .
Ka'b Ibn Sur went to 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and said, "The battle has begun. It is better for you to mount on a camel and go to the battlefield. Maybe your presence holds them back from fighting and paves the way for peace efforts to begin." But things went contrary to this plan and the flames of war leapt higher and higher.
Fighters from her camp were filled with great fervor when they saw her on the battlefield as if she had come to increase the enthusiasm of her troops.
Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them, kept themselves apart right from the beginning of the battle. But small chieftains of various clans were firm in their resolve to fight on behalf of 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her. But she also, on the other hand, was in favor of peace and agreement.
Ka'b was holding the halter of 'Aa'ishah's camel and it was he who had escorted the Mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her, to battlefield hoping for peace. The swordsmen of Basrah clustered around 'Aa'ishah's camel to save it at the cost of their lives with the result the battle took a very serious turn.
'Aa'ishah asked Ka'b to leave the halter and advance raising the Quran and calling the people to follow the dictates of the Book of Allah. Ka'b did accordingly. But the followers of 'Abdullaah Ibn Saba' showered arrows on him and he was honored with martyrdom. This tragic event filled the people of Basrah with zeal and fervor and in a short while there was a heap of dead bodies around the camel of 'Aa'ishah. The people of Basrah were laying down their lives to save the camel of 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her. It became clear to 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, that the presence of 'Aa'ishah in the battlefield would never allow the situation to cool, for her mount had become the center of killing and bloodshed.
'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, ordered his men to target the camel, for its fall would bring the battle to its end. After a number of attacks and counterattacks someone got an opportunity to strike the legs of the camel, which made it sit down with a shriek. With the fall of the camel, the supporters of 'Aa'ishah dispersed. Al-Qa'qaa' Ibn 'Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, hurried to the spot and asked 'Ali's men to surround the camel on all sides. 'Ali asked Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr to take care of his sister and see that she suffered no harm.
When her litter was taken out of the heap of the dead bodies and put at a distance, 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, reached there and sent his greetings and compliments to her and said, "Dear mother! How are you? May Allah forgive all your sins." 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, replied, "May Allah forgive your sins too!" Following this, commanders of various columns appeared to greet the Mother of the believers. 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, then said to Al-Qa'qaa': "I wish I had died twenty years before the event of this day." At the end of the battle, 'Ali made his way among the dead. There, he found Talhah Ibn 'Ubaydillaah who was killed soon after the beginning of the battle by an arrow that opened an old wound. After removing dust from Talhah's face and making his body upright, 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "I am sorry to see you this way, dead and unsheltered, O Abu Muhammad!" He wept and said: "I wish I would have died, twenty years before this."
This battle became known as the battle of the Camel (Al-Jamal) because the camel 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was riding, had become the center of fighting. 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, led the funeral prayers of all the slain and had them buried.
The martyrdom of Az- Zubayr
When the battle broke out, Az-Zubayr Ibn Al-'Awwaam, may Allah be pleased with him, who had already decided not to fight, held himself back. Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays from Basrah was lying with a large number of men encamped separately as a neutral force. When Az-Zubayr passed by his camp, 'Amr Ibn Jurmuz, a man from the army of Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays, followed him. He went near to him and began to move along with him. In order to dispel any doubt, he asked Az-Zubayr to give his opinion on some issue. Arriving at As-Saba' Valley, Az-Zubayr stood in prayer. And as he lay prostrate, 'Amr Ibn Al-Jurmuz struck him with his weapon and went straight to 'Ali. Ibn Jurmuz entered 'Ali's place carrying Az-Zubayr's sword. He was repeating the words: "I killed Az-Zubayr, I killed Az-Zubayr!" When 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, heard him, he said: "Give bad tidings of hell to the killer of the son of Safiyyah (Az-Zubayr). He did not permit his entry to see him." (This was narrated by Ibn Sa'ad.)
Koofah becomes the capital
The most important task before 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, following the battle of Al-Jamal was to subdue
To be continued