Malik bin al-Haarth al-Nakhay belonged to an old Yemeni tribe. He became a Muslim by converting to Islam, in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). He was loyal to his religion Islam.
Malik bin al-Haarth al-Nakhay took part and fought bravely in the Battle of Yarmuk. He had brave attitudes in stopping the Romans' attacks against the Muslim Army. So, his eye was split by a sword, namely, its lower lid was split. Thus, he was called al-Ashtar.
In 30 AH, the Muslims or Sahaba (Companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw)) in Kufa, Iraq and other Muslim cities were angry with their rulers' behaviour. For example, al-Waleed bin Utbah, the third Caliph Uthman's half brother, the ruler of Kufa, Iraq behaved contrary to Islam - he drank alcohol and spent his time in amusements.
One day, al-Waleed bin Utbah entered mosque drunk. He prayed four Raka'at during the morning prayers. Then he turned to the worshipers and said sarcastically: Do I prayed less, shall I increase my prayers? People were displeased with his behaviour. They criticized him every place in markets, houses and mosques. People asked each other: Has not the Caliph Uthman found a good ruler to replace this bad one?
Al-Waleed bin Utbah drank alcohol openly and violated the teachings of the religion Islam and the Muslims' rights. So, people thought about a way to solve the problem. Finally, they decided to ask the advice of the good people. So, they went to Malik al-Ashtar. Malik al-Ashtar said to them: First we would better advise him. Then we will tell the Caliph Uthman about his bad behaviour.
Malik al-Ashtar and some good people went to the ruler's palace. When they got into the palace, they saw al-Waleed bin Utbah drinking as usual. They advised him to behave well. But he scolded and dismissed them. So, they decided to go to Yathrib (Madina al-Munawara) to meet the Caliph Uthman and to tell him about the problem.
The delegation met the third Caliph Uthman and told him about his ruler's bad behaviour. It was unfortunate that he scolded and dismissed them. Besides, he refused to hear their complaints. So, they became disappointed.
They thought about going to the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as), because he was the only hope to reform the situation.
Sahaba (Companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw)) went to the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib's (as) house and told him about the rulers' persecution and corruption.
The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) was sad to hear that. So, he went to the Caliph Uthman's palace. He met Caliph Uthman and advised him, Uthman, the Muslims are complaining of the rulers' persecution. And you know that very well I have heard Prophet Muhammad (saw) saying: "On the Day of Judgement, the unjust Imam will be brought to hell. And no one will support or excuse him. Then, he will be thrown into hell. He will go round and round it till he gets into its intense heat."
Third Caliph Uthman thought for a while. He bent his head sadly and admitted his mistakes. And he promised that he would ask Allah for forgiveness and that he would apologize to the Muslims. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) went out to give the Muslims good news and they were all happy.
But Marwan bin Hakam, the hypocrite, said to the Caliph Uthman: You would better threaten the people so as no one would dare to say bad words against the Caliph.
Third Caliph Uthman broke his promise and did not behave well and did not change the rulers. In the meantime, he used strict policy against people. Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, the ruler of Shaam (Syria), advised the Caliph Uthman to banish some companions from the land.
So, the Caliph Uthman banished Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (Radhiallahu Anhu), the great Companion of Prophet Muhammad (Sahabi E Rasool), to Rabza desert where he died alone. He hit another great Companion of Prophet Muhammad (Sahabi E Rasool) Ammar bin Yasir, the son of the first two (Yasir ibn Amir and Sumayyah bint Khabbab) martyrs in Islam. Then whipped another Companion of Prophet Muhammad (Sahabi E Rasool) Abdullah ibn Masud, too. So, people grumbled about Uthman and his rulers' policy.
Sahaba (Companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw)) sent many letters to all Muslim cities. The letters read as: Muslims, come to us and save the Caliphate. Allah's Book, Noble Qur'an has been changed and the Prophet Muhammad's Sunnah has been changed. So, come to us if you believe in Allah and the Day of Judgement.
The Muslim streamed into Madina al-Munawara from everywhere. Malik al-Ashtar represented the revolutionaries. So, he held a meeting with Caliph Uthman to reform the affairs of the Muslim State. The revolutionaries asked Caliph Uthman to leave power. But the Caliph Uthman refused. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) tried to reform the matters, but all his efforts were in vain.
The reason was that the Muslims were displeased with Caliph Uthman's and his rulers' persecution. In the meantime, Caliph Uthman stubbornly insisted on his policy. The revolutionaries besieged Uthman's palace. The revolutionaries climbed the walls of the palace. They broke into the Caliph Uthman's room and killed him. Marwan bin Hakam and other hypocrites ran away.
Talha and Zubair were ambitious to get the Caliphate. So, they helped the revolutionaries. But the people were thinking about only one person to be a Caliph. And the person was the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as).
Streams of people came into the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib's house. They asked him to be a Caliph. But the he refused. Malik al-Ashtar and other companions insisted on the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib's Caliphate. Malik al-Ashtar addressed the people with enthusiasm: People, this is the Prophet Muhammad's Regent. He has learnt the Prophet Muhammad's knowledge. Allah's Book, Noble Qur'an has mentioned his belief. Prophet Muhammad (saw) has told him that he will enter al-Ridhwan Garden. His personality is perfect. The people in the past and present are certain of his behaviour and knowledge.
Thus Malik al-Ashtar was the first to appoint the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) as a Caliph. Then the Muslims followed him. When the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) became the Caliph, a new time began. He dismissed all the unjust rulers. And he appointed good persons.
Some people were ambitious for the Caliphate. Talha and Zubair were two of them. They went to Makkah and urged Ummul Momineen Ayesha daughter of Abu Bakr the first Caliph, to revolt against the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as). Marwan bin Hakam took advantage of that situation. He began spending the Muslims' money, which he had stolen, to form a big army. He announced that he would revenge himself on Caliph Uthman's killers.
The battle of Jamal (Camel): The army headed for Basra, Iraq. There they uprooted the ruler's beard and dismissed him. They robbed the Public Treasury. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as), was facing that mutiny strongly. He advanced towards Basra to invite its people to strive against the rebels.
The ruler of Kufa was Abu Musa Al-Ashari. He discouraged people from striving against the rebels. In the meantime, he ordered people to disobey the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) as it is a war between Muslims.
Malik al-Ashtar was a brave, determined man. He realized that the people of Kufa were always supporting the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) against his enemies. And he understood that only Abu Musa Al-Ashari obstructed them.
Malik al-Ashtar arrived in Kufa and began inviting its people to follow him. A numerous army obeyed him. So, he could attack the ruler's palace and to dismiss the guards from it.
At that time, Abu Musa al-Ashari was in the mosque asking the people to stay in their houses and to disobey the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) orders. The guards came and told him that Malik al-Ashtar occupied the palace.
Abu Musa al-Ashari asked Malik al-Ashtar for a day's time to leave Kufa. So, Malik al-Ashtar accepted that. On the same day, Malik al-Ashtar hurried to the mosque to encourage the people to support the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as).
Hence, Malik al-Ashtar could form a big army. The army was more than eighteen thousand fighters. Al-Hasan (as) headed nine thousand fighters. They marched by land. The others crossed by river. The purpose of all was to join the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib's army at Dhiqaar in the southern part of Iraq.
The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) headed the army and advanced towards Basra, where he met Ummul Momineen Ayesha's army. The leaders of the Ummul Momineen Ayesha's army were Talha, Zubair and Marwan bin Hakam.
Malik al-Ashtar was the leader of the right wing. Ammar bin Yasir leader of the left wing. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) stood in the middle of the army. And Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya, Imam Ali's son, carried the banner.
Ummul Momineen Ayesha's Army began attacking Imam Ali's army. They showered the Imam Ali's Army with arrows. So, some fighters were killed and others were wounded. The Imam Ali's Army wanted to return like for like. But the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) stopped them and said: Who can take this Noble Qur'an and go to them to appeal to it? Surely they will kill him.
A young man said: Commander of the Faithful, I'll take it. A Muslim headed for the Army of Ummul Momineen Ayesha raising the Noble Qur'an. Ummul Momineen Ayesha shouted: Throw arrows at him. So, the bow men threw arrows at him. He fell over the ground and became a martyr.
During those moments, the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) raised his hands towards the sky. He prayed for Allah, the Almighty, to grant them a victory. Then he said: Allah, the eyes are gazing at you! And the hands are extended! Our lord, judge between our nation and us with justice! And you're the best judge!
Then the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) ordered his fighters to launch a general attack. Malik al-Ashtar advanced. He was fighting bravely. Violent clashes took place around the camel. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) realized that killing the camel would end bloodshed and that it would end the fighting between the two parties.
After violent fights, the Imam Ali's Army could kill the camel so, the facing army was in low spirits and its fighters began escaping from the battlefield. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib (as) ordered his fighters to stop the war operations. And he ordered them to treat Ummul Momineen Ayesha kindly and to bring her back to Madina al-Munawara.
Malik al-Ashtar and Ammar bin Yasir visited Ummul Momineen Ayesha. She said: Malik al-Ashtar, you were about to kill my nephew. Malik al-Ashtar answered: Yes. I wanted to relieve Muhammad's nation from him. But I did not kill him because I was fasting for three days. And I'm an old man.
Malik al-Ashtar fought as bravely as a fearless lion. So, the enemies were afraid of him.