There are different interpretations about the Camel War. Who started this war and why? Which side of the war was the aggressor?

The leaders of both sides were from the companions of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

1 Answer 1


You're thinking of the First Fitna - the Battle of the Camel was a significant battle therein.

Caliph Uthman was assassinated because his and his predecessor's policy of appointing family and those with tribal affiliations to important posts was massively unpopular (altho overall Uthman's reforms were effective). In his place, Ali ibn Abi Talib was appointed the new Caliph by an uneasy alliance of rebels and religious leaders - and this was unacceptable to the very same family members and those with tribal affiliations that were put into positions of power (most notably Muawiyah) by Uthman and his predecessors.

The casus belli put forward by Muawiyah and other leaders of the faithful, including Aisha, is that they would only accept Ali as the new Caliph if he could bring Uthman's murderers to justice. Ali could not or would not, and so began The Fitna - the first Islamic civil war, who's effects are still felt throughout the world today.

The Battle of the Camel came on the heels of the Nakithin (a name given to the faction lead by Aisha) moving in to sack Basra, a city nominally allied with the new Caliph that also happened to be the location of a large treasury. Whoever took Basra would have gold and supplies - neither side could afford the other to have the city. They negotiated a bit, and then had at it, with Ali and his allies getting the upper hand in the end.

This is one of the most contentious parts of Islamic history, and the origin of the Sunni/Shia split, so be wary of religious-flavored crackpottery when googling around for more info. The Wikipedia entries are pretty closely monitored and good sources, with plenty of references.

  • 3
    AFAIK Aisha wasn't at all allied to Muawiyah!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 10:58
  • @MediSaif - You are correct. I will revise the answer later today or tomorrow. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 19:12
  • @MediSaif - Changed the answer to reflect your correction. Thanks! Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 16:41
  • Usman's predecessor Umar never appointed his relatives to key government positions. He even disqualified his son from the election of his successor when he named 6 nominees for mantle of Caliphate even though his son Abdullah was popular among Muslims especially youth. None of the six men were his relatives.
    – NSNoob
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 9:05
  • Usman's affinity to appoint his own relatives to key positions (Even though all proved equal to the tasks, especially Muawiya who is probably one the greatest statesmen in history) did decrease his popularity among masses but major reason behind his assassination was that a certain faction among Muslims believed Caliph should not be elected but instead should be from Family of Prophet, whose head was Ali. The rebels wanted to oust Usman and place Ali on Caliphate and he was their first choice after murder of Usman even though Ali rejected their offer and denounced their cause.
    – NSNoob
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 9:09

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