Reflections on Mutawātir Maʿnawī
By Muhammad Baqir Malekian
In the terminology of ḥadīth scholars, a mutawātir report is a narration whose chain of narrators in each generation (ṭabaqa) leading up to the infallible is so numerous that it is typically impossible for them all to have intentionally agreed to attribute a lie to the infallible. Such a report leads to knowledge and certainty about the content of the ḥadīth narrated. In other words, a mutawātir narration is the report of a group of people whose abundance and multitude eliminates the possibility of their deliberate agreement on a lie. For this reason, it leads to assurance that the ḥadīth originates from the infallible.
This meaning is found in many Sunnī and Shīʿī sources. For example:
1. Shahīd al-Thānī:
هو مابلغت رواته في الکثرة مبلغاً أحالت العادة تواطؤهم على الکذب. واستمرّ ذلک الوصف في جميع الطبقات حيث يتعدّد بأن يرويه قوم عن قوم، وهکذا إلى الأوّل. فيکون أوّله في هذا الوصف کآخره ووسطه کطرفيه.
[The mutawātir report] is that which has been narrated in such abundance that it generally becomes impossible for all the narrators to have conspired [to fabricate] a lie. And this [abundance of narration] continues in all the generations of narrators since it multiplies because people [continuously] narrate it from one another back until the first narrator, in such a way that the beginning of the chain is like its end and the middle of the chain is like the two ends.
2. Shaykh Bahāʾī:
فإن بلغت سلاسله في کلّ طبقة حدّاً يومن معه تواطؤهم على الکذب فمواتر ويرسم بأنّه خبر جماعة يفيد بنفسه القطع بصدقه
If its chain in every generation [of narrators] reaches such an extent that it safeguards from them conspiring upon a lie, then it is mutawātir and it is described as the report of a group that itself yields certainty (qaṭʿ) in its veracity.
خبر جماعة بلغوا في الکثرة إلى حدّ أحالت العادة اتّفاقهم و تواطئهم على الکذب، ويحصل بأخبارهم العلم.
The report of a group that has reached abundance [in narration] to such an extent that it generally becomes impossible for them to agree and conspire upon a lie, and knowledge (ʿilm) is obtained from their reports.
4. Nūr al-Dīn ʿItr:
الحديث المتواتر هو الذى رواه جمع کثير يؤمن تواطؤهم على الکذب عن مثلهم إلى انتهاء السند وکان مستندهم الحسّ
The mutawātir ḥadīth is that which is narrated by a large group of people such that it safeguards from them conspiring upon a lie, from their like until the end of the chain, and the source [of their report] is sensory (ḥiss).
Types of Mutawātir Reports
Mutawātir reports are categorised into two types: mutawātir lafẓī and mutawātir maʿnawī.
Mutawātir lafẓī is a report that is transmitted in the same manner with the same wording by every narrator in every generation. Examples include:
انّي تارک فيکم الثقلين
I leave behind you two weighty things.
من کنت مولاه فهذا عليّ مولاه
Whomsoever I am the master of, ʿAlī is the master of
Mutawātir maʿnawī is a report whose transmitters do not agree on one wording but agree upon a single meaning. In such a report, all the transmitters and narrators in all generations transmit the same content with differing expressions but indicate the same single meaning with implicative indication (dalāla iltizāmī) or partial indication (dalāla taḍammunī).
In addition to the above, Ākhond Khorāsānī adds a third category called tawātur ijmālī. He mentions this type of tawātur in his discussion on using narrations to demonstrate and infer the probative force of solitary reports. He says that: in the event that there is an objection to using reports to demonstrate the probative force of solitary reports on the basis that these narrations do not possess tawātur lafẓī and maʿnawī, the response is that these narrations possess tawātur ijmālī, in the sense that their multitude leads to certainty that one of them is authentic and this suffices.
In other words, tawātur ijmālī is the existence of a multitude of narrations, about various different subjects, that reach the level of tawātur in such a way that there is some shared and common dimension to them all. This common dimension among narrations that have different contents is called tawātur ijmālī.
Some conditions have been mentioned for a report to be mutawātir, such as the number of narrators being an amount that makes it conventionally impossible for them to agree upon a lie. Regarding the conditions of a mutawātir report, Nūr al-Dīn ʿItr writes that the conditions that are required for the narrators of a ṣaḥīḥ or ḥasan report—such as uprightness (ʿadālah) and precision (ḍābiṭ)—are not required for narrators of mutawātir reports. Rather, the criterion is the number of narrators which the intellect deems impossible for agreement upon a lie. Therefore, if the people of a city who are disbelievers report that they saw a fire or explosion with their own eyes, knowledge is obtained of their truthfulness.
However, what is the number of narrators that is needed? There are different opinions concerning this:
1. Ten people
Based on the verse:
فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ فِي الْحَجِّ وَسَبْعَةٍ إِذَا رَجَعْتُمْ تِلْكَ عَشَرَةٌ كَامِلَةٌ
If he lacks the means, he should fast for three days during the pilgrimage, and seven days on his return, making ten days in all. (2:196)
2. Twelve people
Based on the verse:
وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمُ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا
God took a pledge from the Children of Israel. We made twelve leaders arise among them (5:12)
3. Forty people
Based on the verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ حَسْبُكَ اللَّهُ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
O Prophet, God is enough for you, and for the believers who follow you.
4. Seventy people
Based on the verse:
وَاخْتَارَ مُوسَى قَوْمَهُ سَبْعِينَ رَجُلًا لِمِيقَاتِنَا
Moses chose from his people seventy men for Our appointment
However, none of these citations have any evidence except other than their personal taste. It is for this reason that some have said that the truth is that there is no specific number of narrators as a condition for tawātur.
It seems that the reason for not placing a specific number as a condition of tawātur is the varying importance of cases. For example, with regards to impurity of water or lunar and solar eclipses, someone may be able to claim tawātur of something they heard from two people. However, in important cases, this same person may not even claim tawātur on the words of twenty people.
That which has been overlooked in the study of mutawātir reports—especially maʿnawī and ijmālī—is that narrators do not all follow a specified school of thought or ideological current. Throughout history, the fabrication of ḥadīth has sometimes taken place through one person and sometimes through various people, who of course were guided by a particular movement. To understand this more clearly, the following statement of Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd is beneficial:
روى أبو الحسن عليّ بن محمّد بن أبي سيف المدائني في كتاب الأحداث قال: كتب معاوية نسخة واحدة إلى عمّاله بعد عام الجماعة: وكتب إليهم أن انظروا من قبلكم من شيعة عثمان و محبّيه و أهل ولايته و الذين يروون فضائله و مناقبه فادنوا مجالسهم و قرّبوهم و أكرموهم و اكتبوا لي بكلّ ما يروي كلّ رجل منهم و اسمه و اسم أبيه و عشيرته. ففعلوا ذلك حتّى أكثروا في فضائل عثمان و مناقبه لما كان يبعثه إليهم معاوية من الصلات و الكساء و الحباء و القطائع و يفيضه في العرب منهم و الموالي، فكثر ذلك في كلّ مصر و تنافسوا في المنازل و الدنيا فليس يجيء أحد مردود من الناس عاملاً من عمّال معاوية فيروي في عثمان فضيلة أو منقبة إلا كتب اسمه و قربه و شفعه فلبثوا بذلك حيناً. ثمّ كتب إلى عمّاله: أنّ الحديث في عثمان قد كثر و فشا في كلّ مصر و في كلّ وجه و ناحية فإذا جاءكم كتابي هذا فادعوا الناس إلى الرواية في فضائل الصحابة و الخلفاء الأوّلين و لا تتركوا خبراً يرويه أحد من المسلمين في أبي تراب إلا و تأتوني بمناقض له في الصحابة فإنّ هذا أحبّ إليّ و أقرّ لعيني و أدحض لحجّة أبي تراب و شيعته و أشدّ عليهم من مناقب عثمان و فضله. فقرئت كتبه على الناس فرويت أخبار كثيرة في مناقب الصحابة مفتعلة لا حقيقة لها
Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. Abī Sayf al-Madāʾinī narrated in Kitāb al-Aḥdāth: Muʿāwīya wrote a single copy to his agents after the ʿĀm al-Jamāʿah [the year of the peace treaty of Imām Ḥasan (a)]. He wrote to them to observe the followers (Shīʿa) of ʿUthmān, those who love him and the people loyal and devoted to him, and those who narrate his merits and virtues, then approach their gatherings, get close to them, honour them, and write to me with everything that every man among them narrates, along with their name, their father’s name and the name of their tribe.
They did this until they increased the virtues and merits of ʿUthmān when Muʿāwīya would send them presents, clothing, gifts and land, flooding both the Arabs and the Mawālī (non-Arab Muslims) among them. He increased this in every big city and they competed with each other for homes and worldly goods, so no one would return from an agent of Muʿāwīya having narrated a merit or virtue of ʿUthmān except that the agent would write his name, get close to him and intercede for him, and they persisted in doing that for some time.
Then, Muʿāwīya wrote to his agents: that ḥadīth about ʿUthmān have increased and circulated widely in every capital city in every aspect and way, so if this letter of mine reaches you then invite the people to narrate the merits of the Companions (Ṣaḥāba) and the first Caliphs, and do not leave any report narrated by any of the Muslims about [the virtues of] Abī Turāb [Imām ʿAlī (a)] except that you bring me [a report] about the Companions that contradicts and goes against it. For this is more beloved to me, more delightful to my eye, more invalidating of the argument of Abī Turāb and his followers (Shīʿa) and is more severe against them than the virtues and merits of ʿUthmān.
Thus, his letters were read to the people and many reports were narrated about the virtues of the Companions that were fabricated and had no truth.
Therefore, to prove tawātur maʿnawī and ijmālī, there must be consideration of the creedal, and political, schools and movements of the narrators, otherwise it does not make much of a difference whether a narration was transmitted by one person or by a guided movement—a form of guidance that is sometimes influenced by kalāmī schools and beliefs, and sometimes in accordance with the ruling political party.
Examples of Various Reports under the Influence of Specific Currents
1. Reports of the Distortion (Taḥrīf) of the Qur’ān
Some—ʿAllāmah Majlisī—believe that the narrations are mutawātir maʿnawī. However, a precise investigation into the chains of many of the narrations on the alteration of the Qur’ān, we come across ghulāt and those accused of ghulūww.
The late Āyatullah Marʿashī Najafī has said in this regard:
إنّ عمدة الأدلّة فيها للتحريف هي الروايات وهي على أقسام فأكثر من نصفها ضعاف الأسانيد، منقولة عن الغلاة المفرطين في الحبّ، وضعوها تشفّياً لغيظ صدورهم حيث رأوا تأخّر الأئمة (عليهم السلام) عن مقاماتهم، فاختلقوا هذه الروايات
The chief proofs for taḥrīf are the narrations and they are of different categories. More than half of them are weak in their chains, transmitted from the ghulāt, the extremists in their love [for the Ahl al-Bayt]. They forged them to relieve the rage in their hearts when they saw the Imāms (upon them be peace) impeded from their status, so they made up these narrations.
ʿAllāmah Balāghī has also written in this regard:
إنّ القسم الوافر من الروايات ترجع أسانيدها إلى بضعة أنفار وقد وصف علماء الرجال كلاً منهم إمّا بأنّه ضعيف الحديث فاسد المذهب مجفو الرواية، وإمّا بأنّه مضطرب الحديث والمذهب يعرف حديثه وينكر ويروي عن الضعفاء، وإمّا بأنّه كذّاب متّهم لا أستحلّ أن أروي من تفسيره حديثاً واحداً وأنّه معروف بالوقف وأشدّ الناس عداوة للرضا (عليه السلام). وإمّا بأنّه كان غالياً كذّاباً، وإمّا بأنّه ضعيف لا يلتفت إليه ولا يعوّل عليه ومن الكذّابين، وإمّا بأنّه فاسد الرواية يرمى بالغلو
The vast portion of the narrations [on distortion] have chains that go back to a few individuals who have been described by the scholars of rijāl as either: weak in ḥadīth, of corrupt doctrine (fāsid al-madhhab), shunned in narration; or as inconsistent (muḍṭarib) in his ḥadīth and madhhab, that his ḥadīth is [sometimes] recognised and [sometimes] denied, and that he narrates from weak narrators; or as an accused liar from whose tafsīr it is not lawful to narrate a single ḥadīth, and that he is well-known for being a Wāqifī and the most severe of people in hatred for [Imām] al-Riḍā (upon him be peace); or that he was an extremist (ghālī) and a liar; or that he is weak, not turned to, cannot be relied upon and from the liars; or that he is corrupt in narration and accused of ghulūww.
The late Āyatullah Borūjerdī also says:
أمّا الأخبار الواردة في تحريفها ، فهي وإن كانت كثيرة من قبل الفريقين ولكنه يظهر للمتتبع أنّ أكثرها بحيث يقرب ثلثيها مروية عن كتاب أحمد بن محمّد السياري من كتّاب آل طاهر. وضعف مذهبه وفساد عقيدته معلوم عند من كان مطّلعاً على أحوال الرجال . وكثير منها ـ يقرب الربع ـ مروي عن تفسير فرات بن إبراهيم الكوفي وهو أيضاً مثل السياري في فساد العقيدة. هذا مع أنّ أكثرها محذوف الواسطة أو مبهمها . وكثير منها معلوم الكذب ، مثل ما ورد من كون اسم عليّ عليه السلام مصرّحاً به في آية التبليغ وغيرها ، إذ لو كان مصرّحاً به لكان يحتجّ به علي عليه السلام في احتجاجاته مع غيره في باب الإمامة ، ومثل ما ورد في قوله : «يا ليتني كنت تراباً» أنّه كان في الأصل «ترابياً» ونحو ذلك ممّا يعلم بكذبها
As for the reports about [the Qur’ān’s] alteration, although though they are numerous from both schools [Sunnī and Shīʿa], it appears to the one investigating that the majority of them—close to two-thirds—are narrated from the book of Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī, one of the secretaries of the Ṭāhirids. The weakness of his madhhab and the corruption of his creed is known by those who are well-informed about the conditions of the narrators. And many of the reports—close to one-quarter—are narrated from Tafsīr Furāt b. Ibrāhīm al-Kūfī and, like al-Sayyārī, he is of corrupt doctrine. Although, most of the reports omit the intermediary or are obscure. And many of them are clearly forgeries, such as what was reported about the name of ʿAlī (upon him be peace) being explicitly stated in the verse of tablīgh (5:67) etc. For if it was explicitly mentioned, ʿAlī (upon him be peace) would have used it as an argument in his objection with others regarding Imāmah. Another example is what was reported about the verse “If only I were dust” (78:46) originally being “If only I were a Turābī” and other [such reports] which are known to be lies.
2. Reports of the Compilation of the Qur’ān
Regarding the compilation of the Qur’ān after the Prophet (s), we have several categories of narrations. In some narrations, the compilation was done by Imām ʿAlī (a) while in others, the compilation took place in the time of the first caliph, or the second caliph or the third caliph.
However, Āyatullah Borūjerdī does not accept this and considers these reports to be forgeries:
قد نقل كثير من العامّة والخاصّة روايات في مقام تنزيه أئمتهم وتجليلهم وبيان مثالب أعدائهم وضيّعوا بذلك القرآن … فمّما رواه العامّة روايات دالّة على أنّ عمر جاء عند أبي بكر في زمن خلافته وقال : إنّ سبعين من قرأ القرآن قتلوا في غزوة يمامة فيخاف على القرآن أن يضمحل ، فلعلك أمرت بجمعه وترتيبه حتّى لا يضيّع فأبى أبو بكر أوّلاً ، معتذراً بعدم الإقدام على ما لم يقدم عليه النبي صلى الله عليه وآله، ثمّ رضي بذلك ، فأمر زيد بن ثابت بجمع القرآن وقال له كلّ من ادّعى أن عنده آية ، فطالبه بشهيدين عدلين واقبل منه ، فجمع زيد القرآن بهذا الترتيب. وقد جمع هذه الأخبار السيوطي في تفسيره. وكان غرض العامة في نقل هذه الروايات بيان فضل أبي بكر وعمر وكمال خدمتهما بالإسلام ، ومن قبلهم ألقى هذه الروايات في الخاصّة وقد فرط العامة في نقل هذه الروايات التي بها تهدم عظمة القرآن ، إعظاماً لأمر الخليفتين، كما أفرط الخاصّة في نقل الروايات الدالّة على أن عليّاً جمع القرآن وأتى به إلى الناس
Many narrations have been transmitted from the ʿĀmma (non-Shīʿa) and the Khāṣṣa (Shīʿa) in the context of honouring and glorifying their Imāms, and expressing the vices of their enemies, and they lost the Qur’ān in that manner…
Among that which was narrated by the ʿĀmma are narrations indicating that ʿUmar came to Abū Bakr in the time of his caliphate and said that seventy of the reciters of the Qur’ān were killed in the Battle of Yamāma, and that he feared the Qur’ān would be lost and destroyed, so perhaps you could order it to be collected and organised so that it does not get destroyed. At first, Abū Bakr refused, with the excuse that he will not do what the Prophet, upon him and his family be peace, did not do. Later, he agreed and commanded Zayd b. Thābit to collect the Qur’ān and told him to seek two upright witnesses from everyone who claims to have a verse of the Qur’ān and accept it from them. Thus, Zayd collected the Qur’ān in this order. And al-Ṣuyūṭī collected these reports in his tafsīr.
The objective of the ʿĀmma in transmitting these narrations was to express the virtue of Abū Bakr and ʿUmar and the superiority of their service to Islām. They recited these narrations among the Khāṣṣa and they have been negligent in transmitting these narrations, by which the greatness of the Qur’ān was destroyed, in order to honour the two caliphs. Just as the Khāṣṣa went too far in transmitting the narrations indicating that ʿAlī compiled the Qur’ān and brought it to the people.
3. Reports about the Virtues of the Caliphs
On the basis of books such as Faḍāiʾl al-Ṣaḥāba by Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, a great number of narrations were transmitted about the virtues of the first three Caliphs. However, this multitude of narrations cannot be accepted, because the role of Banī Umayya in forging the narrations of their virtues cannot be overlooked. Earlier, we mentioned the statement of Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd in detail, and the final sentence was:
فرويت أخبار كثيرة في مناقب الصحابة مفتعلة لا حقيقة لها
Many reports were narrated about the virtues of the Companions that were fabricated and had no truth.
The difference between the narrations of the virtues of Imām ʿAlī (a) and the caliphs is clear. Of course, no one denies the existence of fabricated narrations among the narrations of Imām ʿAlī’s (a) virtues, but the narrations of his virtues are in no way comparable to the those of the caliphs. On one hand—as Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd has said—narrating the virtues of Imām ʿAlī (a) was a crime and Muʿāwīya wanted to prevent it in any way. On the other hand, transmitting the virtues of Imām ʿAlī (a) is not exclusive to any particular movement or madhhab. Rather, as Ibn al-Jawzī has said, the virtues of ʿAlī (a) that have reached us in authentic narrations are abundant. It is for this reason that the great Shīʿī muḥaddithīn have transmitted a great number of the virtues of Imām ʿAlī (a) in their books from the sources and narrators of the ʿĀmma (non-Shīʿa) to rebut the potential false doubt that the virtues of Imām ʿAlī (a) are the invention of the Shīʿa.
 Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1. p. 115.
 Uṣūl al-ḥadīth wa aḥkāmuhu, p. 131.
 Also see: Maʿālim al-Dīn, p. 186; Qawānīn al-Uṣūl, v1. pp. 426-429; Nihāyat al-Uṣūl, p. 487.
 Such as the participation of Imām ʿAlī (a) in continual battles which indicates his bravery. Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1, p. 117.
 Such as the narrations that indicate that the wife is excluded from inheriting some of the taraka of the deceased husband where the exclusion in general is mutawātir. Qawānīn al-Uṣūl, v1. p. 427; Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1. p. 120.
The late Sayyid Muḥammad Jawād al-ʿĀmilī, the author of Miftāḥ al-Karāmah, claims tawātur about the impurity of qalīl water upon contact with an impure object (Miftāḥ al-Karāmah, v1. p. 358). The explanation of this is that some narrations prohibit ablution with qalīl water that has encountered an impurity, some prohibit drinking it, some consider it impermissible to perform ghusl with, and some deem it impermissible to use for ritual purification. The sum total of these narrations indicate that the water is impure.
 Muntahā al-Dirāya, v4. p. 423.
Although, by comparing the examples given for mutawātir ijmālī and maʿnawī, it seems that what Ākhond Khorāsānī has named mutawātir ijmālī is the same as that which was called mutawātir maʿnawī in the statements of the predecessors. Assuming we accept this category of tawātur ijmālī, the conflation between the examples cannot be denied. I may find time to write more about this.
 Ḥāshiya Farāʾid al-Uṣūl, P. 70. Also see: Kifāyat al-Uṣūl, p. 295, p.302; Muntahā al-Dirāya, v4, pp. 423-424.
 Uṣūl al-ḥadīth wa aḥkāmuhu, p. 36. On the categorisation of mutawātir into tafṣīlī and ijmālī, see: Nihāyat al-Uṣūl (Āyatullah Montazerī’s transcriptions of Āyatullah Borūjerdī’s lessons), p. 487; Buḥūth fī ʿIlm al-Uṣūl (Transcriptions Āyatullah Ṣadr’s lessons), v4. pp. 335-338.
 Manhaj al-naqd fī ʿulūm al-ḥadīth, p. 405.
 al-Mustaṣfā, v1, p. 137.
 See: Mafātīḥ al-Uṣūl, p. 437; Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1. p. 113.
 See: Mafātīḥ al-Uṣūl, p. 437; Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1. p. 114.
 See: Mafātīḥ al-Uṣūl, p. 437; Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1. p. 114; Tadrīb al-Rāwī, v2. pp. 176-177.
 See: Mafātīḥ al-Uṣūl, pp. 435-436; Uṣūl al-ʿāmma lil-fiqh al-muqāran, p. 195.
 Although, in some books, a condition has been mentioned for mutawātir reports, but it is ignored with indifference. In Miqbās al-Hidāya, v1. p. 110, Māmaqānī says:
قد اشترط بعض الناس هنا شروطاً أخر لا دليل عليها وفسادها أوضح من أن يحتاج إلی الذکر… ومنهم من اشترط عدم اتّفاقهم في الدين. وضعفه ظاهر
Some people have stipulated other conditions here that have no proof and their invalidity is clearer than to need mentioning… and there are some who stipulated that they (the narrators) not be in agreement in religion, and the weakness of this is apparent
 Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāgha, v11, pp. 44-45.
 Mir’āt al-ʿuqūl fī sharḥ akhbār Āl al-Rasūl, v12, p. 526:
عندي أن الأخبار في هذا الباب متواترة معنى، و طرح جميعها يوجب رفع الاعتماد عن الأخبار رأساً.
In my opinion, the reports in this chapter are mutawātir in meaning, and to discard them all necessitates eliminating trust in reports directly.
 al-Qawl al-fāṣil fī radd muddaʿī al-taḥrīf, pp. 15-16.
 Ālāʾ al-Raḥmān fī tafsīr al-Qur’ān, v1, p. 26.
 Turābī here refers to a follower of Abū Turāb, the title of Imām ʿAlī (a).
 Nihāyat al-Uṣūl, p. 483.
 Examples of these narrations can be seen in Muḥaddith Nūrī’s Faṣl al-Khiṭāb and the late Āyatullah Khūʾī’s al-Bayān.
 Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāgha, v11, p. 45.
 Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāgha, v11, p. 44:
روى أبو الحسن علي بن محمد بن أبي سيف المدائني في كتاب الأحداث قال: كتب معاوية نسخة واحدة إلى عماله بعد عام الجماعة: أن برئت الذمة ممن روى شيئا من فضل أبي تراب و أهل بيته. فقامت الخطباء في كلّ كورة و على كلّ منبر يلعنون عليّاً و يبرءون منه و يقعون فيه و في أهل بيته. و كان أشدّ الناس بلاء حينئذ أهل الكوفة، لكثرة من بها من شيعة عليّ عليه السلام فاستعمل عليهم زياد بن سمية و ضمّ إليه البصرة فكان يتتبّع الشيعة و هو بهم عارف، لأنّه كان منهم أيّام عليّ عليه السلام فقتلهم تحت كلّ حجر و مدر و أخافهم و قطع الأيدي و الأرجل و سمل العيون و صلبهم على جذوع النخل و طرفهم و شردهم عن العراق، فلم يبق بها معروف منهم. و كتب معاوية إلى عماله في جميع الآفاق: ألا يجيزوا لأحد من شيعة عليّ و أهل بيته شهادة.
Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. Abī Sayf al-Madāʾinī narrated in his Kitāb al-Aḥdāth: Muʿāwīya wrote a single copy to his agents after the ʿĀm al-Jamāʿah that: I will discharge anyone who narrates anything of the virtues of Abī Turāb and his household (Ahl al-Bayt). So the preachers arose in every town and on every pulpit, cursing ʿAlī, disassociating from him and disparaging him and his household. The most severely afflicted people at that time were the people of Kūfa, due to the large number of the followers (Shīʿa) of ʿAlī (a) there. So Zīyād b. Sumayya was appointed [as governor] over them, and Baṣra was added to him. He used to pursue the Shīʿa—whom he knew because he used to be of them in the time of ʿAlī (a)—and he killed them under every stone and in every town, terrorised them, cut off their hands and feet, blinded their eyes and crucified them on the trunks and ends of palm trees, and drove them out of ʿIrāq, so no-one known among them remained. And Muʿāwīya wrote to his agents everywhere to not permit anyone from the Shīʿa of ʿAlī and his household to testify.
 al-Mawḍūʿāt, v1, p. 338. It is also narrated from Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh Madinat Dimashq, v. 42, p. 418; Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba, v. 4, pp. 464-465.) that:
ما جاء لأحد من أصحاب رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم (من الفضائل ما جاء لعلي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه
No virtue has been narrated for any companion of the Prophet (s) as much as has been narrated for ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib