By Dr. Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi
Reasons for the Fitnah that led to the Murder of ‘Uthman (Radhiyallahu Anhu)
The importance of studying the turmoil that led up to the murder of ‘Uthman, and its consequences, and the Prophet’s wisdom in telling him what would happen
The most important events of the fitnah that led up to the murder of ‘Uthman, and their consequences, such as the Battle of the Camel, Siffeen, etc
It was narrated that many of the salaf and scholars enjoined refraining from indulging in detailed discussion of the things that happened among the Sahabah, and referring their affairs to Allah, the Most Just Judge, whilst thinking positively of them and believing that they were in the position of mujtahids who will be rewarded In sha Allah we should avoid criticizing them and impugning their honour, because that leads to undermining shari’ah, as they were its bearers who conveyed it to us. For example, it was narrated that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ‘Azeez was asked about the people of Siffeen and he said: That is blood that Allah protected us from shedding and I do not want to contaminate my tongue with it. [Hilyat al-Awliya’, 9/114; ‘Awn al-Ma’bood, 12/274]
One of them was asked about that and he responded by quoting the words of Allah,
“That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do” [Al-Baqarah 21:34].
There is a reason for this prohibition, which is the fear that it may lead to criticism and impugning their honour, which in turn could lead to incurring the wrath and anger of Allah. But if this reason no longer applies, then it seems that there is no problem with it, so long as discussing the details of what happened will not lead to criticizing them at all. In that case, there is nothing wrong with studying this matter in depth, examining its causes, motives, precise details, results and consequences for the society of the Sahabah and for those who came after them. Some of the scholars, such as Ibn Katheer, al-Tabari and others, wrote about the events of that critical period of Islamic history, and discussed in detail many of the issues that have to do with the fitnah. Some of them even went so far as to suggest that one or both parties were wrong, based on many reports and texts in which saheeh material is mixed with other kinds. [Ahdath wa Hadeeth Fitnat al-Harj, by Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Areez p. 79]
There are reasons why ahl al-Sunnah and the seekers of knowledge should probe the depths with regard to the fitnah that arose at the beginning of Islam, and examine its details. These reasons include the following:
(1) Contemporary writers who deal with the turmoil that occurred among the Sahabah fall into three groups:
(a) Books written by authors who the product of a western way of thinking that is hostile towards Islamic history or is ignorant of Islamic history and does not see any good in it, so they carried on criticizing the Sahabah and Tabi’een in such a way that served the goals of the enemies of Islam who studied the events of the turmoil in detail and interpreted it in a way that condemns all of the Sahabah and shakes the foundations of Islam. They presented these events as a political conflict for position and power, in which the Sahabah forgot about faith, piety and sincerity towards Allah and suggested that they turned into people who were seeking worldly gains and leadership without caring whether blood was shed, people were killed, wealth was stolen or sanctities were violated, so long as it led to the power and leadership that they wanted.
Among the worst of these fabricators was Taha Hussein (his book al-Fitnah al-Kubra) which indeed caused the greatest confusion in the minds of the new generation of Muslims. Taha Hussein went on condemning the Sahabah, casting aspersions on their intentions and directing accusations against them to serve the interests of the enemies of Islam and the Muslims. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth Fitnat al-Harj, p. 80]
Many were influenced by his approach. It seems that writers such as this relied on historical reports narrated by historians such as al-Tabari, Ibn ‘Asakir and others, in which bad is mixed with good and lies with truth. He took the reports without paying attention to the way in which they compiled the reports in their books, and this is a serious mistake. [Ibid]
The Rafidis tried hard in their books to distort Islamic history, as in the reports of:
Muhammad ibn al-Saib al-Kalbi. (Ibn Hibban said: He was a Saba’i (follower) of ‘Abd Allah ibn Saba), one of those who said that ‘Ali did not die and that he will return to this world. He died in 146 AH. Mizan al-‘Itdal, 3/558; Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Jarh wa’l Ta’dil, 7/270,271)],
Abu Mikhnaf [Loot ibn Yahya ibn Sa’eed ibn Mikhnaf al-Azdi, from Kufah. ibn ‘Adiyy said: He was a fanatical Shi’i and a fabricator of their reports. He died in 157 AH. He wrote many books, including: al-Riddah, al-Jamal, Siffin and others].
Nasr ibn Mazahim ibn Sayyah al-Munqari al-Kufi. [Al-Dhahabi said: He is a fanatical Raafidhi whose report should be ignored. He died in 212 AH. His books include Waq’at Siffin, which is available in printed form, al-Jad and Maqtal al-Hussein. Mizan al-l’tidal, 4/253].
This is also seen even in the history of al-Tabari, but al- Tabari mentions the reporters by name, so that people of knowledge will realize the status of these reports. [Usul Madhhab al-Shi’ah al-lmamiyyah, by Nasir al-Ghafiri, 3/1457]
This also applies to the writing of al-Mas’oodi in Murooj al- Dhahab and of al-Ya’qoobi in his Tareekh.
Professor Muhibb al-Deen al-Khateeb indicated in his commentary on al-‘Awasim that the writing of history only began after the end of the Umayyad state, and the Batinis and Shu’oobis who presented themselves as Shi’ah played a role in concealing the beauties of history and blackening its bright pages. [Usul Madhhab al-Shi’ah al-lmamiyyah, by Nasir al-Ghafiri, 3/1458]
This plot will become apparent to anyone who studies al- ‘Awasim min al-Qawasim by Ibn al-‘Arabi, along with its commentary written by the great scholar Muhibb al-Deen al-Khateeb. The Rafidi Shaykhs wrote thousands of pages slandering the best generation ever known to mankind, and they devoted their time and effort to distorting the history of the Muslims. [Usul Madhhab al-Shi’ah al-lmamiyyah, by Nasir al-Ghafiri, 3/1459]
This huge amount of Raafidhi material is to be found in the books of history written by the Raafidhis or in the books that quoted some of their reports, and you can see it in their books of hadeeth such as al-Kafi and al-Bihar, and in the books written by their Shaykhs in the past, such as ihqaq al- Haqq, and in hadeeth such as Kitab al-Ghadeer. This hateful, distorted material is the reference point for everything written by the enemies of Muslims, such as the Orientalists and others. Then came that morally defeated generation which sees the west as its example and ideal, and those pro-westem elements seized everything that was written by the Orientalists and took it as their source of knowledge, adopting those views and spreading that confusion throughout the Muslim lands, which had a serious effect on Muslim thinking and culture. The Raafidhis were the basic source for all this evil. The views of the Orientalists and their connection with Shi’ism is a subject that deserves to be studied and examined. The kafir enemy started to benefit from the doubts and lies of the Rtifidis and their fabrications against Islam and the Muslims from the of Ibn Hazm (d. 456 AH).
(b) Books written by some of the contemporary scholars of this ummah. These are useful in general, but the way in which they discuss and interpret the attitude of some of the Sahabah and Tabi’een is in many – or some – cases unfair, such as what was written by Abu’l-A’la Mawdoodi in al-Khilafah wa’l-Mulk, and what was written by Shaykh Muhammad Abu Zahrah in Tareekh al-Umam al-Islamiyyah. These two books are filled with much that undermines the position of the Sahabah and criticizes the caliphs of Banu Umayyah (the Umayyads), condemning them and denying that they had any good qualities or did any righteous deeds. It seems that scholars such as these did not examine the historical reports, rather they adopted Raafidhi Shi’i reports and based their analysis and conclusions on them. May Allah forgive them and us.
(c) Books whose authors tried to follow the methods of al- jarh wa’l-ta’deel (impugnment and validation, i.e. criticism of hadeeth) in examining historical reports and subjecting them to the methods of the Muhadditheen with regard to the isnad and the text, in order to distinguish the sound reports from the weak.
These books represent a good attempt to resist these fabrications and explain the events in a proper manner which does not contradict what is known of the virtue, faith and jihad of the Sahabah. These books include that written by Dr. Yusuf al-‘Ishsh entitled Tareekh al-Dawlah al-Umawiyyah, and Muhibb al-Deen al-Khateeb’s commentary on al-‘Awasim min al-Qawasim by Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, as well as ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan by Sadiq ‘Ar-joon, ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ wa Athruhu fi Ahath al-Fitnah fi Sadr al-Islam by Dr. Sulayman ibn Hammad al- ‘Awdah, Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah by Muhammad al-Amhazoon, al-Khilafah al-Rashidah by Dr. Akram al-‘Umari Hiqbah min al-Tareekh by ‘Uthman al-Khamees, al-Madinah al-Nabawiyyah Fajr al- Islam wa’l-Asr al-Rashidi by Dr Muhammad Hasan Sharib, the commentaries by Muhibb al-Deen on al-‘Awasim min al-Qawasim and al-Muntaqa, and other books, studies and essays that follow the same method.
From this discussion it is clear that there is a great need for books that refute these false claims. These misrepresentations of Islamic history and the status of the Sahibah cannot be refuted except by means of a detailed study of these events and critical examination of the reports using the standards of al-jarh wa’l-ta’deel, determining which are saheeh and which are weak. It was narrated that Ibn Taymiyah said: But if there is an innovator who criticized them on the basis of falsehood, they should be defended and his false argument should be refuted on the basis of knowledge and fairness. [Mihaj as-Sunnah, 3/192]
Imam al-Dhahabi was of a different view; he called for the burning of all books that contained such lies and which undermined the position of the Sahabah. He said: As it is stated that one should refrain from discussing what happened among the Sahabah and their fighting, may Allah be pleased with them all. We still come across this in various books, but most of the reports are fabricated or weak, and some of them are lies. Whatever is in our hands and in the hands of our scholars should be hidden away, or rather destroyed so that our hearts will be pure and we will be united in love and praise of the Sahabah. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 84]
We learn something very important from al-Dhahabi, which is his statement that most of what is to be found in those books is fabrications and lies that undermine the position of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), but his suggestion that those books be burned is no longer feasible, because these books are widely circulated and many publishing houses and many of those who have ulterior motives have printed them, so we have no option but to subject them to critical examination and explain the faults, lies and mistakes that are contained in them, so as to protect the Muslim community from deviating in its beliefs and ways. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 83]
(ii) It is important to study the jitnah of ‘Uthman’s murder and its consequences in order to know the real causes and whether they were internal or external, the extent to which each cause contributed to what happened.
The one who reads a little of what has been written about this fitnah will sense that there was a major conspiracy behind it, and that the Magians, Christians, Jews and hypocrites co-operated in executing the plan. It is the matter of the enemies conspiring against the Muslim ummah at every stage of its lengthy history.
But this conspiracy could not have succeeded were it not for an internal element of weakness that contributed to its success. So should not studying the era of the Sahabah become obligatory for the purpose of discovering the reasons for the weakness of the Muslim ummah, noting the weak points through which the enemy was able to enter and benefiting from this information in order to direct the ummah of this time and protect it from similar slip-ups in the future.
The major events that led up to the killing of ‘Uthman and the consequences of that require deep and painstaking study so that we may derive lessons from that period of history that will guide us in the present day and help us in our serious efforts to restore the rightly-guided caliphate, following the path of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) thus mankind may find happiness and be brought out of its misery and wretchedness that are caused by its being far astray from the laws of Allah Ta’ala.
The wisdom of the Prophet in telling ‘Uthman of what would happen
In many Ahadith the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) foretold that this ummah would be affected by division and fighting, which is mentioned in brief and in detail in various reports which speak of the causes and consequences of turmoil, or some of the events that would come to pass, who would be behind it, and so on. Many of the explanations that the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) gave were answers to questions posed by the Sahabah, who were enjoying the great blessing that Allah had bestowed upon them, which was the blessing of brotherhood and unity. They started asking whether this blessing would last or come to an end. Because the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had learned via the Revelation that it would not last as it was, he wanted to prepare them for this turmoil so that they would know how to respond on the day when Allah decreed that it should come to pass. By examining the ahadeeth which speak of the turmoil, we can sense the following wisdom: [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p 68]
1- When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) spoke of this fitnah and turmoil, he wanted to prepare the ummah so that it would be ready to cope on the day when these events came to pass, and would deal with them effectively at that time.
2- These ahadeeth contain hints about who would stir up this turmoil, and that sometimes they would be people who appeared to be believers and be very shrict in their religious commitment, but their understanding would be deviant and their hearts would be twisted, and in general they would be lacking in understanding and knowledge.
3- This turmoil would expose the hypocrites and cleanse the hearts of the believers and increase them in faith; they would be motivated to enjoin that which is good and forbid that which is evil. It would be a kind of test which purifies hearts and makes people strive, so that good would be enjoined and evil forbidden. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola. p. 136, 137]
4- The reports about this turmoil carry an implicit warning against falling into it or playing any part in it, because when the believers of this ummah – the Sahabah and others – heard the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) foretelling that some of them would be involved in murder, and some would be attached to this world, and some would abandon jihad, and so on, this stirred in their hearts the feeling of wanting to confront this fitnah and each one of them would hope to be saved from that. Thus their attitude would be one of constant fear of falling into this peril unawares and fear in this sense is one of the greatest means of attaining salvation. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth at-Fitnah at-Oola, p. 69]
Ibn Taymiyah said, after narrating a number of marfoo’ ahadeeth which speak of this division in the ummah: This idea was narrated from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in many reports, which indicates that division is inevitable in this ummah, so he warned his ummah so that whomever Allah wished would be safe from that. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth at-Fitnah at-Oola, p. 69]
5- Informing the ummah about this turmoil is the best way of ensuring that they would be safe from it, because no matter how much you warn a man about a danger that is threatening him, if you do not describe the danger to him or explain how he may fall into it, he may never figure out how it could happen and he may not be able to discern the nature of the problem that is facing him, so he may fall into that danger without realizing that this is the danger that he was warned about. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth at-Fitnah at-Oola, p. 70]
6- The foretelling of this turmoil is accompanied, in some ahadeeth, with the mention of its causes or results, or what the Muslim’s attitude towards it should be. This is beneficial to the Muslim and to the ummah as a whole, as it will help them to stay away from the causes of turmoil or enable them to judge specific events by their outcomes or to adopt a sound attitude in the first place.
7- These ahadeeth also offer clear evidence of the truthfulness of the message and Prophethood of Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), which increased the faith of the Sahabah who heard the hadeeth and then saw it being fulfilled later on. And it increases the faith of any believer in any time or place who lives through the reality of fitnah and division that was foretold by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). [Ibid]
Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Sagheer Dukhan has compiled and examined the ahadeeth that speak of fitnah, and explained which are saheeh and which are da’eef, in his book Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola. Then he drew certain conclusions from the saheeh ahadeeth, including the following:
1- Fitnah or turmoil is the decree of Allah in all nations, and in this ummah until the Hour begins. It is turmoil like pieces of dark night, blind, deaf and dumb, and those who indulge in it are doomed in this world and in the Hereafter, but those who stay away from it will succeed. Hardly anyone could ever know where he stands with regard to it, except those on whom Allah bestows knowledge and piety and guides to the truth in matters of dispute by His leave. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 345]
2- These ahadeeth indicate that the fitnah of fighting amongst Muslims is inevitable and there is no way that it can be regarded as something strange, starting with the events that happened between the Sahabah and the Tabi’een, and throughout the eras of Islamic history until the present day. But what we have to do is to understand the causes of this fighting in order to avoid them, and strive to extinguish the flames of fitnah whenever it flares up among the Muslims; the Muslim should not just stand there watching
2- By the mercy of Allah to this ummah, He causes their sins to be expiated in this world. The fighting and turmoils that befall them are a means of expiation for their sins.
3- In some of these ahadeeth there is a clear indication that most of these turmoils would originate in the east, and this is what indeed happened. The first fitnah started in Kufah and Basra, and the battle of the camel took place there.
4- At times of fitnah, some people may sell their religion for some trifling worldly gain, and the situation is controlled by whims and desires and confusion, and those who follow true Islam become strangers in their attitude and conduct. Then the one who adheres to his religious commitment is Like one who is holding on to a live coal or a thorn, patiently seeking reward through his pain and hardship for the sake of his religion which he believes to be true.
6- By means of fitnah Allah protects some people so that they will not indulge in the turmoil and their hands will not be stained with Muslim blood, and they strive to bring about reconciliation and promote the sound Islamic principles of compassion and brotherhood. Their attitude indeed appears strange in the midst of madding crowds and overwhelming whims and desires. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 346-348]
7- In cases of fitnah, the tongue plays a greater role than the sword, and indeed the tongue is one of the main causes of fitnah and turmoil. A poisonous word of evil that is uttered may start a fire in the heart, making people angry and stirring up emotions, thus causing overwhelming turmoil. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 346-348]
8- At times of fitnah, knowledge decreases, either due to the death of the scholars or because they keep quiet and isolate themselves from society, or because people are no longer interested in them for some reason. Then ignorance prevails and the people take ignorant versons as their leaders. who issue fatwas without knowledge, going astray and leading others astray. Thus insigruficant people become prominent and the foolish prevail. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 348]
In these ahadeeth it says that Allah Ta’ala has promised His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that He will not destroy this ummah by drought and famine, and He would not send an enemy against them who would prevail over them forever, no matter how strong and powerful this enemy. But the thing that Allah did not promise His Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was that this ummah would not be divided, and this would be the door through which external enemies could enter. If the ummah became divided and they killed one another, then they would become weak and the enemy would be able to dominate them, steal their resources and control their affairs, and they would never find relief from that unless they became strong again by means of unity and referring for judgement to that which Allah has revealed.
10- These ahadeeth show that the emergence and continuation of fitnah is the cause of the appearance of groups that deviate from Islamic guidance, and of the prevalence of those who follow falsehood.
11- Fitnah changes people’s attitudes, until they are no longer interested in doing righteous deeds and good works; it creates enmity, resentment and hatred among people and they become confused.
12- The ahadeeth indicate that this fitnah would be preceded by a period of peace, stability, material prosperity and security, such that a traveller would be able to go from Iraq to Makkah, not fearing anything but stray animals on the road. This in fact happened during the caliphate of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), which was a time of peace and stability during which there was an accumulation of wealth, then came the turmoil of killing and all of that disappeared, turning from security to fear.
13- During times of fitnah, the best and most wise of people are killed, and all that are left are the riff-raff who do not appreciate any good deed or denounce any evil.
These are some of the meanings derived from the ahadeeth about turmoil.
Reasons for the turmoil that led to the killing of ‘Uthman (Radhiyallahu Anhu)
Imam al-Zuhri said: ‘Uthman ruled for twelve years as caliph, during the first six years of which the people did not criticize him for anything, and he was more beloved to Quraysh than ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu), because ‘Umar had been very strict with them, but ‘Uthman was lenient and generous towards them. Then the turmoil began after that. The Muslim historians call the events that happened in the second half of ‘Uthmiin’s reign (30-35 AH) the fitnah (turmoil), which ended in the martyrdom of ‘Uthman During the caliphates of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and the first part of ‘Uthman’s caliphate, the Muslims were united and there were no disputes among them. Then at the end of ‘Uthman’s caliphate there were some events that resulted in some kind of division, and some evildoers killed ‘Uthman, then the Muslims became divided after the murder of ‘Uthman. [at-Tabaqat by ibn Sa’d 1/39-47; al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah 7/144-149; al-Khulafa’ al-Rashideen by al-Khalidi p.112]
Muslim society during the caliphates of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and the first part of ‘Uthman’s caliphate had the following characteristics:
1- In general terms, it was a Muslim society in the full sense of the word, with deep faith in Allah and belief in the Last Day, following the teachings of Islam in apparent seriousness and with clear commitment, with the least amount of sin ever known in any society in history. In this society religion was life itself, not something marginal that people turned to from time to time; rather it was the life and soul of the people, not just rituals that they tried to do properly. Religion guided their attitudes, opinions, interests, values, social connections, family ties, relationships with neighbours, buying and selling, travelling for business, efforts to earn a living and honesty in business. It meant that those who were able sponsored those who did not have any means, people enjoined that which is good and forbade that which is evil, and watched over the deeds of their rulers and governors. Naturally, this does not mean that every individual in this society was as described, as that is something that cannot be achieved in this life or in any human society. Even in the society of the Messenger of Allah – as it says in the Book of Allah – there were hypocrites who pretended to be Muslim when deep down they were enemies of Islam; there were people whose faith was weak, and those who tried to discourage others, or were slow to do good, or who were treacherous. But all of these people carried no weight in that society and they had no ability to divert its course, because those who were directing its flow were the sincere believers who were striving for the sake of Allah with their wealth and their selves and adhering to the teachings of this religion. [Kuyfa naktub al-Tareekh aI-Islami’ By Muhammad Qutb, p. 100]
2- It was the society that achieved the highest level of the concept of the ummah, for the ummah is not just a group
of people who share a common language, land and interests, which were the bonds that united people during the Jahiliyyah. If a nation is formed on such bases then it is a nation of Jahiliyyah. But the ummah as Allah wants it to be is a nation that is united by the bond of faith, regardless of language, race, colour or worldly interests. This has never been achieved in history as it was achieved in the Muslim ummah. The Muslim ummah is a nation that is not based on bonds of land, race, colour or worldly interests, rather it is bound by ties of faith which united Arabs, Abyssinians, Byzantines and Persians, and united the peoples of the conquered lands with the conquerors on a basis of complete brotherhood in faith. If the concept of ummah was achieved by this ummah for the longest period in history, then the early period of Islam was the best ever, when Islam was manifested in the most complete way, including the concept of ummah which was achieved in an unprecedented fashion. [Kuyfa naktub al-Tareekh aI-Islami’ By Muhammad Qutb, p. 101]
3- It was a moral society that was based on strong moral foundations that were derived from the commandments and teachings of Islam. This moral base was not limited to guiding relationships between the sexes, even though this is one of the most prominent features of this society, which was free from wanton display and the chaos of free mixing and free from any deeds, words or gestures that might go against modesty, and free from immorality except a little from which no society is ever entirely free; but its moral foundation went much further than governing relationships between the sexes. It included politics, economics, society, thought and expression. The political system was based on the morals of Islam; the relationships between people in society were based on honesty, trustworthiness, sincerity, cooperation and love, with no treachery, malicious gossip or impugning of people’s honour. [Kuyfa naktub al-Tareekh aI-Islami’ By Muhammad Qutb, p. 102]
4- It was a serious society, one that was pre-occupied with serious issues, not trivial matters. Seriousness does not necessarily mean frowning and harshness, rather it is the inspiration that creates energy in people and encourages vibrancy, work and action. The issues in which this society is interested are far and above these physical realities, so it has none of the characteristics of idle, hedonistic societies in which people hang about in their homes and on the streets, looking for ways to kill time because they have too much free time. [Kuyfa naktub al-Tareekh al-Islami’, p. 102]
5- It was a society that was striving in all areas where sacrifice might be involved, not only on the battlefield for the sake of Allah – even though fighting for the sake of Allah occupied a great space in the life of this society – but also all other areas. Everyone was prepared to work at any time he was requested to do so, so there was no need for any military or civil mobilization, because the society was already mobilized, motivated by faith and ready to act. [Kuyfa naktub al-Tareekh al-Islami’, p. 103]
6- It was a worshipping society, in which the spirit of worship was clear in all its activities, not only in performing obligatory and supererogatory acts of worship, seeking the pleasure of Allah, but also in doing all kinds of deeds. For them, all deeds were worship, so they did work in the spirit of worship. The ruler ruled people in the spirit of worship; the teacher who taught people the Qur’an and the teachings of Islam taught in the spirit of worship; the merchant who remembered that Allahh was watching him as he bought and sold did that in the spirit of worship; the husband took care of his household in the spirit of worship and the wife took care of her household in the spirit of worship, following the guidance of the Messenger of Allah Ta’ala:
“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [At-Tirmidhi (1705)]
These are the most important characteristics of the era of Abu Bakr and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, but these characteristics were stronger the closer they were to the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and they grew weaker the further away we get from that time. These characteristics made it a Muslim society of the highest order, and they are what made that time an exemplary era in the history of Islam. They are also the factor that helped this religion to spread so astonishingly quickly. The conquests themselves were among the fastest in history; within fifty years they reached from the Atlantic in the west to India in the east. This is a phenomenon which in itself deserves to be recorded and highlighted. Similarly, the people in the conquered lands embraced Islam with no force or pressure, and the characteristics of the Muslim society are the real cause of this phenomenon. The people came to love Islam when they saw it being applied in this wonderful manner and they wanted to be among its followers. [Kayfa naktub al-Tareekh al-lslami’, p. 103]
Studying this period of history should leave an impression that cannot be erased from the mind of the researcher, an impression that Islam is a realistic religion that is applicable with all its ideals in the real world, because these ideals are not something suspended in space for mere pondering and wishing, rather they are realistic ideals that can be implemented if people try as seriously as they should and give it enough effort. Moreover there is another impression, that what happened before could happen again, because people are people, and people are always able to rise once more when they are determined, and they can attain that victory and power again. Allah says:
“Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the land, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practise their religion which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely, give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Fasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah)” [An-Noor 24:55]
One of the things that will help the Muslims to restore the Rightly-Guided Caliphate is knowledge of the factors and causes that led to its decline and disappearance, so that we can strive to avoid them and follow the means that Allah has ordained as means to honour this ummah. Hence we need to discuss in detail the causes of the fitnah that ended with ‘Uthman’s murder, because they are important. There follow the most important of these causes:
Prosperity and its effect on society
The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) saw what his companions were going through of hardship and poverty, so he told them to be patient, then he told them that this situation would not last for long before the treasures of this world would be opened up for them, but he warned them against letting that distract them from doing righteous deeds and striving in jihad for the sake of Allah, and what that might lead them into of fighting for worldly gains and their transient ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab understood this warning and it was part of his policy to protect the Muslims against the temptations of wealth and worldly pleasures. He strove hard to prevent the Muslims from spreading in the non-Arab lands. Were it not that the emergence of another, stronger interest dictated spreading further, his ban would have continued. But this relenting on ‘Umar’s part did not extend to the senior Sahabah, both Muhajireen and Ansar, who were in Madinah; his ban still applied to them. [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitah al-Oola, p. 559]
Undoubtedly ‘Umar’s attitude is indicative of his fears about Muslims spreading to lands that were filled with all kinds of goodness and provisions, lest they become too interested in worldly gains and that cause them loss in the hereafter. [Ibid. P. 559]
When the reign of Uthman came and the conquests spread east and west, and wealth started pouring in to the bayt al-mal from the booty that was acquired, and the people’s hands were filled with all kinds of good provisions [Ahdath wa Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 566], it is obvious that these blessings and this income from the conquests would have a great impact on society, because of the coming of prosperity and the resulting pre-occupation with wealth. Moreover it would also become a cause of competition and hatred, especially among those whose faith was not strong enough to purify their hearts and who were not disciplined by piety, such as the desert Arabs and other riff-raff, those who converted as the result of conquest and the members of prosperous nations who entered Islam at a superficial level, who had been living a life of luxury and competing in those things. ‘Uthman understood this phenomenon and warned how this ummah would change in his letter to the people: The affairs of this ummah will drift into innovation after three things happen to you: when prosperity becomes widespread, when your children from female prisoners of war reach pube P and when the Bedouin and non-Arabs start to read Qur’an. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/245]
As for widespread prosperity, al-Hasan al-Basri – who was an eyewitness – spoke of the state of society, the abundance of goods and the accumulation of wealth, and how the people changed and became extravagant and ungrateful. He said: I understand why people got upset with ‘Uthman. When a time comes when there is hardly a day when provision is bemg shared out among the people, it will be said to them: O Muslims, come and take your stipends, and they would take a lot. Then it would be said to them: Come and take ghee and honey. The stipends were regular, the provisions were plentiful, the enemy was defeated, relationships were good and there was plenty. What is more, the sword was never unsheathed against the people of Islam, then they unsheathed it against themselves, and by Allah it has remained unsheathed until today, and by Allah it will continue like that until the Day of resurrection. [al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, 7/224]
As for the Muslims’ children from the female prisoners of war reaching puberty, this manifested itself in their lifestyle of ease and luxury. The first evil that appeared in Madinah when prosperity became widespread was when the people started to keep pigeons and fly them. ‘Uthman appointed a man from Banu Layth in the eighth year of his caliphate to clip their wings. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/415]
People began to feel “high” from drinking nabeedh, so ‘Uthman sent a man to go around among the people with a stick to prevent that. When it got worse, ‘Uthman complained to his advisors, and they agreed to flog people for drinking nabeedh. He caught some of them and they were flogged. Then if ‘Uthman caught anyone doing evil or unsheathing his weapon, he would banish him from Madinah, and their fathers started complaining about that. [Tareekh at-Tabari 4/416]
‘Uthman stood up in Madinah and said: I am hearing news about wrong-doing that the people are committing, and I am not going to be the first one to open the door to fitnah or initiate it. I am reining myself in and restraining myself. Whoever follows me, I will lead him in the path that he knows, and whoever does not follow me, for every soul there is a Day of Resurrection and an angel to drive and an angel to bear witness (cf. Qaf 50:21). Whoever seeks the pleasure of Allah, let him be of good cheer, but whoever seeks worldly gain will be a loser. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahaba fi’l fitnah 1/361]
Thus when ‘Uthman, the pious man and Rightly-Guided Caliph, carried out his duties, and introduced disciplinary actions against the sons of the rich who had started to lead a life of luxury and corruption, those deviants joined with others who resented him.
With regard to the Bedouin and non-Arabs studying the Qur’an, this emerged clearly with the formation of a class in the Muslim society which learned Qur’an not for the sake of reward in the Hereafter, but for the payments offered by the caliph as encouragement and to soften people’s hearts. [al-Watha’iq al-Siyasiyyah fi’l ‘Ahd al-Nabawi wa’l Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 392]
It is worth noting that the effects of this change began to appear first at the edges of the Islamic state, then they moved towards the capital of the caliphate, which led ‘Uthman to remind the Muslims in his khutbahs to be careful not to indulge in worldly matters. In one of his khutbahs he said: Allah has given you these worldly conveniences so that you may seek reward in the Hereafter; He has not given them to you so that you may be content with them. This world will fade, but the Hereafter will abide forever, so you should not be tempted by these temporary conveniences or let them distract you from that which is eternal. Fear Allah, adhere to the main body (of Muslims) and do not divide into groups and factions. [Ahdath wa’l Ahadeeth al-Fitnah al-Oola, p. 567]
Then he recited: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i .e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember All this Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc. ,) clear to you, that you may be guided. Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma’roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful” [Al ‘Imran 3:103, 104]
In circumstances such as these, when prosperity was widespread and the Muslims were living a life of ease and plenty, and the people had free time after conquering the regions and they felt safe and secure, they started to criticize and feel resentment against their caliph. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahaba fi’l fitnah , 1/362]
Hence we can see the effect of prosperity in creating fitnah, and we can understand the advice that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) gave to ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Rabee’ah – who had spent a short time with the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) – when he was besieging al-Bab (What is meant by al-Bab is a region in Azerbaijan which is called al-Durr al-Bund. Mu’jam al-Buldan, 1/303): Many of the people have become heavy (from eating too much), so take it easy with them and do not expose the Muslims to risk, for I am worried lest they be tested. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahaba fi’l fitnah 1/361]
At the end of a khutbah in which ‘Uthman exhorted the Muslims after they had accumulated a great deal of wealth and property, he said: Do not let this transient life tempt you and do not let it distract you from that which is eternal. Beware of what may happen to you, adhere to the main body (of Muslims) and do not be divided not groups and factions. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahaba fi’l fitnah 1/362]
The nature of social change at the time of ‘Uthman
Profound social effects had taken place, which started to work quietly but forcefully in a way that not many people noticed, until they emerged in a violent and explosive manner that started in the second half of ‘Uthman’s caliphate and reached its peak in the rebellion that led to the martyrdom of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). [al-Dawlah al-Umawyyah al-Muftara ‘alayha, p. 166]
When the Islamic state expanded by means of conquest, there came about a change in the structure of society and some defects appeared in the social structure, because when this state expanded in area and number of inhabitants, it inherited a vast area filled with different races, colours, languages, cultures, customs, systems, ideas, beliefs, literature, architecture and other aspects of life. On the surface of this society there appeared some troubling features of instability and areas that were not in harmony with one another. Thus society became disharmonious, especially in the large provinces. Because of their strategic location and importance, they were used as bases to send conquering armies and received them on their way back, thus their numbers decreased because of death and killing. Thus to replace those who had died, they received even greater numbers of people from the conquered lands, Persians, Turks, Byzantines, Kurds and Berbers, most of whom were Persians, Arab Christians, other Christians or Jews. [Dirasat Fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 379]
Most of the inhabitants of these large provinces were those who had taken part in the Islamic conquests then settled in those regions, and most of them came from Arab tribes from the south, north and east of Arabia. They were not, in most cases, from among the Sahabah, or more precisely, they were not among those who had been taught and disciplined by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) or by the first generation of the Sahabah, either because the Sahabah were pre-occupied with conquests or because the number of Sahabah was too few. Thus there were many changes in the structure of this human society which consisted of the early generation of Muslims and the inhabitants of the conquered lands, the Bedouin, those who had previously apostatized and Jews and Christians. There were also changes in the cultural structure of society, its standard of living, the emergence of new types of deviation and its readiness to accept rumours. [Dirasat Fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 380]
Changes in the demographics of society
The social fabric was composed of a number of groups
(a) Those who remained of the early generation of the Sahabah and those who had learned to some extent from the Sahabah.
But these two types continued to decrease either as a result of death or being killed in battle, or due to their dispersing throughout the regions. This reduced the impact of their presence as they scattered throughout the conquered lands, large provinces, newly-built cities such as Basra and Kufah, Syria and Egypt. Some of them left Arabia then came back to it. [Ibid]
(b) The original inhabitants of the conquered regions.
They formed the majority in comparison to the newcomers who arrived during the conquests. The newcomers remained a minority even though they played a main role in running affairs and affecting behaviour, morals, ideas and language. But despite that, they are still regarded as a minority. This section – the original inhabitants of the conquered regions – mostly stayed where they were, but some of them moved to other regions in the Islamic state, some of them settling in the major provinces and some in the capital of the state, who were either female prisoners who became slaves, meaning that they settled wherever they followed their masters, or they moved for the purpose of trade, to seek knowledge or to work in the state administration, as there was no law that prevented them from doing that; rather they may have been encouraged and supported to do so.’ [ibid] The non-Arabs who came from the conquered lands were among the quckest of people to engage in fitnah, because most of them came from nations and people that bore a great resentment at having been defeated, so they were quick to engage in fitnah for many reasons, including the following:
➡ Their ignorance and the fact that they had only recently become Muslim, and recently lost the power that they used to have.
➡ Their lack of understanding of Islam, due to the language barrier and other factors.
➡ Nationalism and hatred of the Arabs
➡ Some groups among them entered Islam outwardly for fear of the sword or jizyah, but they harboured feelings of ill-will towards Islam and the Muslims, and they hastened to engage in all kinds of fitnah.
➡ People of whims and desires were relying on these groups to stir up trouble, and incited them accordingly. [Dirasat fi’l-Ahwa’ wa’l-Firaq wa’l-Bida’, p. 161]
(c) The Bedouin who were known as desert-dwellers
Like other people, some of them were pious Muslims and some were kafirs and hypocrites, but they were as Allah says:
“The Bedouins are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely to be in ignorance of the limits (Allah’s Commandments and His Legal Laws) which Allah has revealed to His Messenger. And Allah is All-Knower, All- Wise” [At-Tawbah 9:97].
That is because they were hard-hearted, harsh-natured and coarse in speech, and due to these characteristics they were more inclined to have no knowledge of the limits that Allah had revealed, namely laws, rulings and jihad. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 380, quoting from ai- Shawkani, Fath al-Qadeer, 2/395-397]
So they were among the quickest of people to engage in fitnah, and there are several reasons for that, including the following:
➡ Lack of understanding of Islam.
➡ One of them would be quick to develop self-admiration as soon as he learned anything of the Qur’an believing that he had become a scholar when he acquired a little knowledge.
➡ Their disrespect towards the scholars and reluctance to learn from them or follow their example.
➡ Their deeply rooted tribalism.
➡ The people of whims and desires took advantage of them and their naivete and ignorance
➡ Their hot-tempered nature, aversion to cities and mixing with their inhabitants, and their suspicion of people whom they do not know. This is the nature of the Bedouin in all times and places.
➡ Their strictness in religious observance and their stubbornness with no knowledge. Hence most of the rebels came from this group. [Dirasat fi’l-Ahwa’ wa’l-Firaq wa’l-Bida’, p. 161]
From these Bedouin emerged men who were known as al- qurra’ (lit. the readers or reciters), but in this case what was meant by qurra’ was different from the usual meaning. What is usually meant is a group of people who specialized in reciting the Qur’an, but the word came to mean something else. Some of them followed the path of the rebels, who understood the Qur’an in their own way; some of them were ascetics who did not understand the meaning of what they read and could not adjust to the reality of society. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 381]
These ignorant readers hastened to become involved in fitnah for several reasons, including the following:
➡ Strictness in religious practice in addition to their lack of proper understanding of Islam, which made them feel enthusiasm and protective jealousy with regard to religion, but without knowledge or insight. Hence they got carried away with their whims and desires in the name of protective jealousy towards their religion, with no attention paid to the consequences and no understanding of basic principles of sharee’ah, such as warding off evil or serving the interests of the ummah.
➡ Self-admiration which one of them would develop as soon as he learned a few verses or ahideeth, without understanding them properly, so he would imagine that he had become one of the scholars who are able to determine what is in the best interests of the Muslims.
➡ Looking down on the scholars and imams, and thinking that they had reached a point where they had no need of them or their understanding and knowledge, thinking “they are just men and we are just men.”
➡ Taking ignorant people as their leaders instead of the scholars and imams, because the people of whims and desires and the leaders of innovation and fitnah – most of whom were crafty individuals – always sought out these qurra’ and tempted them, leading them step by step and exploiting their love of religion and provoking their protective jealousy, without proper insight.
➡ Their ignorance of the rules on how to use the evidence and understand the texts with regard to rulings on fitnah. [Dirasat fi’l-Ahwa’ wa’l-Firaq wa’l bida’, p. 163]
(d) Those who had previously apostatized
They had not been Muslim for long, and their joining Islam was out of necessity. We do not deny that some of them became righteous and good, and were among the virtuous, but some of them had not tasted the sweetness of Islam and even though they claimed to be Muslim, they retained their previous mentality and continued as they had been before Islam, motivated by tribalism as if Islam had never penetrated deeply into their hearts or as if they believed that there was no contradiction between Islam as they knew it and tribalism. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 381]
These groups of former apostates formed an element that contributed to setting the stage for fitnah. The apostates were there at the time of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhum); the only difference was that ‘Uthman’s policy towards them was different from the policy of the two caliphs who came before him. Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) had written to his commanders telling them never to seek the help of a former apostate in jihad against the enemy, and he emphasized to Khalid ibn al-Waleed and ‘Iyad ibn Ghanam that they were not to bring on any military campaign anyone who had apostatized, until further notice. So during his era, no former apostate played any role. [‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ wa Athruhu fi Ahdath al-Fitnah, by Sulayman al-‘Awdah, p. 155]
Al-Shu’bi said: In his wars, Abu Bakr never sought the help of any of those who had apostatized, until he died. [al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, 6/347]
Hence some of those who had apostatized but then became good Muslims felt too shy to meet Abu Bakr. For example, Tulayhah ibn Khuwaylid went to Makkah for ‘Umrah, but he was never able to meet Abu Bakr, until he died. [at-Tareekh al-Islami, 9/59]
During the caliphate of ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), he started to ease off on this policy towards the former apostates, and he urged them to go and join the fighting in Syria and Iraq. [‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ wa Athruhu fi Ahdath al-Fitnah, p. 156]
In the army of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas that went to al- Qadisiyyah there were Qays ibn Makshooh al-Muradi and ‘Amr ibn Ma’di Yakrib, who used to urge the people to fight. This all came about after ‘Umar gave the former apostates permission to go and fight. [Ibid] But this easing off on Abu Bakr’s policy at the time of ‘Umar was accompanied by a kind of caution; there were always conditions and guidelines before they were allowed to join, and a former apostate could never be appointed over a company of one hundred men. Hence Sa’d had to send Qays ibn al-Makshooh with seventy men only to pursue the non-Arabs who attacked them on the night of al-hareer.'” [Tareekh at-Tabari, 4/382]
Then ‘Uthman came and waived all these restrictions that had been imposed by the two previous caliphs on the former apostates. He thought that enough time had elapsed since the time of apostasy for anyone to have gotten rid of any of its influence, and he even decided to appoint some of the former apostates to do work for the state as a means of strengthening their faith, but that had no such effect on them, rather it made them even more corrupt. The result of ‘Uthman’s allowing former apostates to go to Kufah and join the army there was that the people of Kufah changed, and the army commander in Kufah, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Rabee’ah, was injured in the campaign against the Turks – he was the one who had fought them at the time of ‘Umar, when they were scared of him and used to say: This man would never have dared to come and fight us unless he had angels with him, protecting him from death. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/146]
These effects can clearly be seen in the fitnah that resulted in the murder of ‘Uthman. When we look at the names of those who were accused of ‘Uthman’s murder, we see men who belonged to tribes that were among the former apostates, such as Sawdan ibn Hamran al-Sakooni, Qutayrah ibn Fulan al-Sakooni and Hakeem ibn Jablah al-‘Abdi. [Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ wa Athruhu fi Ahdath al-Fitnah, p. 157]
(e) The Jews and Christians
Some of them – in fact many – had left or been expelled from the Arabian Peninsula and had settled in the large provinces, such as Kufah and Basra. The Jews in particular – as is their nature – stayed in those regions that adjoined the areas under conquest, engaging in their well-known dual mission of financial control by various means and conspiring to bite the hand that was feeding them. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 381] We will discuss the role of the Jews below, in sha Allah.
The cultural fabric of society
In addition to this human mix, there was another mix of no less significance, if not of greater significance, namely the cultural mix. Cultures, ideas, systems and beliefs flowed with these huge numbers of people that joined the Muslim society, forming a heavy burden on its shoulders. What made matters worse was the fact that despite the Muslims’ integration into the conquered lands, as they Lived in their midst and intermarried with them, learning their languages, adopting their dress and following their traditions, their influence on the conquered peoples was limited at that early stage. [‘Ibid] And the people of the conquered lands did not get a big share of Islamic education and did not become infused with the Islamic spirit as had been the case with the Sahabah, the Muhajireen and Ansar; the same was also true of the Arab tribes who mixed with the people of the conquered lands. Islam had managed to fuse many tribes in a single melting-pot for a while. But it should be taken into account that the process of teaching and education that was led by a solid base of the Muhjireen and Ansar was not able to encompass these huge numbers of people, so the non-Arabs were unable to get rid of all the ideas and customs that they had followed during their jahiliyyah. This was due to a lack of balance between the horizontal expansion of the conquests and the vertical expansion in teaching people and enabling them to understand the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), even though the jihad was invariably accompanied by da’iyahs and teachers who sought to teach the people their religion so as to keep pace (with the conquests) and avoid any weakness in the Muslim ranks and avoid any widening of the gap between the conquerors and the inhabitants of the conquered lands, which would result in many negative consequences and affect the political and ideological unity of the Muslim ranks. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, 1/358]
It was not possible to avoid these negative consequences despite the enthusiastic efforts in the field of teaching Islam, the reason being that the spread of Islam was so swift and far-reaching. Iraq and the regions beyond it, as well as Syria, were conquered within a few short years, and it was not humanly possible for education efforts to reach and encompass the huge numbers of people in those regions. [Ibid] Among the reasons for that was the fact that most of the Sahabah who could have carried out this mission were killed in the battlefield, and there were only a few of them left, scattered in different regions. Those Muslims who wanted to learn gathered around them, which led to the emergence of the Tabi’een, most of whom were sincere and were in the forefront of jihad, and some of them were killed too. [al-Yemen fi Sadr al-Islam by Shuja, p. 334]
Similarly, there was not enough time to consolidate the teachings of Islam in the hearts of many people which, along with other factors, led to confusion and negative consequences. This was clearly manifested in the last years of ‘Uthman’s reign. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, 1/359]
Emergence of a new generation An even greater change took place in society, which was the emergence of a new generation of people who started to take up positions in society. They were different from the generation of the Sahabah, living in a different era and with different characteristics. This is a generation which in general is regarded as being of a lesser quality than the first generation that had borne on its shoulders the burden of building and establishing the state. The first generation of Muslims was distinguished by its strength of faith and sound understanding of the essence of Islamic belief and its complete readiness to submit to the system of Islam as embodied in the Qur’an and Sunnah. These characteristics were less apparent in the new generation that was the product of far-reaching conquests, in which individualism and selfishness appeared, along with the tribalism of different races and peoples, some of whom still bore the legacy of the Jahiliyyah that they had once followed. They did not gain from an education in sound Islamic belief what the first generation of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhu) had gained at the hands of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). That was because they were so great in number, and the conquerors were so pre-occupied with war and new conquests. [Tahqeeq Mawiqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, 1/356]
So the Sahabah were less involved in differences and divisions than those who came after them; the later a period was from the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the greater the differences and divisions. [Dhun-Noorayn, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan by Muhammad Mal-Allah, p. 99]
The new generation did not accept the way of the previous generation, and were accustomed to a different way. Thus a new mentality and a new outlook on life emerged, which was a concept that drifted away from the outlook that had prevailed at the time of the first two Rightly-Guided Caliphs. The new generation could not understand that mentality or accept it, or surrender to its rule. [al-Dawlah al-Umawiyyah, by Yoosuf al-‘Ishsh, p. 133]
Hence the deviants of the new generation joined those who were promoting fitnah.
Society’s readiness to accept rumours
From this heterogeneous mix we can understand that society was susceptible to turmoil and receptive to rumours and hearsay. [Dirasat ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 382]
This was expressed clearly by Ibn Taymiyah who said: Because the people at the time of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, whose example the Muslims were enjoined to follow as the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Follow the example of the two who come after me, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar …” [At-Tirmidhi #3662]
were closer in time to the Message and were stronger in faith and more righteous, their leaders were doing a better job and the society was more stable, and no fitnah occurred because society was dominated by people of strong faith. But at the end of ‘Uthman’s rule and during ‘Ali’s caliphate, the third type (i.e., people with self-reproaching souls who mixed good deeds with bad) grew greater in numbers, and were influenced by whims and desires and by confusion as well as by faith and religious commitment. That happened to some of the governors and some of the people. Then this type (whose good deeds were mixed with bad) increased even more, and fitnah emerged because of that of which we have spoken above, namely the lack of piety and obedience on both sides, who were both under the influence of some whims and desires and sins. Both found explanations for their actions and believed that they were enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and following truth and justice, but along with that justification there was a kind of whims and desires and confusion, even though one was closer to the truth than the other. [Majmoo’ Fatwa Ibn Taymiyah, 28/148,149]
This may be explained more precisely by the dialog that took place between the caliph ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and one of his followers. The man said: Why did the Muslims differ concerning you when they did not differ concerning Abu Bakr and ‘Umar? ‘Ali said: Because Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were rulers over people like me, and today I am a ruler over people like you. [Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldoon, p. 189]
The caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan understood what was going on in society, as he said in his letter to his commanders: The people are scattered far and wide, and selfishness is becoming widespread among them. I see three reasons for that: love of this world, whims and desires and too many grudges. Soon it will lead to turmoil. [al-Tamheed wa’l-Bayan, p. 64]
‘Uthman’s coming after ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu)
The fact that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) came directly after ‘Umar and the differences in their natures led to changes in the way in which people were dealt with. Whereas ‘Umar was a strong character who was strict both with himself and with those who were under his authority, ‘Uthman was softer in nature and kinder in his dealings with others, and he was not as strict with himself or others as ‘Umar was. ‘Uthman himself said: May Allah have mercy on ‘Umar; who can do what ‘Umar used to do? [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/418]
Although the people were happy with ‘Uthman during the first part of his reign, because he was lenient with them where ‘Umar had been strict, and love of ‘Uthman became widespread, later on they began to criticize him. This had to do with ‘Uthman’s upbringing, as he was kind, easy-going, soft-natured, tactful and diplomatic, which influenced the way things developed and changed during his reign from how they had been during the reign of his predecessor ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. ‘Uthman understood that when he said to some people whom he imprisoned: Do you know why you are daring to challenge me? Nothing made you dare to challenge me but my forbearance. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 2/250 ]
When the intentions of some of the rebels became apparent, after ‘Uthman had proven them to be wrong with evidence that refuted all the criticisms they presented to him in front of a group of Sahabah and other people, the Muslims insisted on killing them but ‘Uthman insisted on letting them go because of his forbearance and gentleness, saying: We shall pardon and not kill; we will try to explain to them and we will not punish anyone unless he commits an offence that requires a hadd punishment or makes a blatant show of kufr.” [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, 1/364]
Departure of the senior Sahabah form Madinah
‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) had prevented the prominent people of Quraysh, the Muhijireen, from leaving to other countries, except with permission for a short period. They complained about him and news of that reached him, so he stood up and said: I liken Islam to the ages of a camel; it starts out as a jadha’ (one year old camel), then it becomes a thaniyy (two year old), then a raba’iyy (four year old), then a sadasiyy (six year old), then a bazil (nine year old). Is there anything left for the bazil but the onset of its decline (as it has reached its peak)? Now Islam is Like a bazil (i.e., it has reached its peak). So long as Ibn al-Khattab is alive, I will be standing at the mountain pass of al-Harrah, holding Quraysh by their chests to prevent them from throwing themselves into the Fire. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/413]
‘Umar was afraid for these Sahabah if they scattered in the conquered lands and acquired property and wealth. If one of the Muhajireen whom ‘Umar was keeping in Madinah came to ‘Umar and asked him for permission to leave, ‘Umar would answer: In your having campaigned with the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is that which will take you to Paradise; what is better for you today than going out on campaign is not seeing any worldly temptations. [Tareekh at-Tabari 5/414]
But ‘Uthman allowed them to go out and was easy-going with them. al-Sha’bi said: When ‘Uthman became caliph, he let them go and they went all over, and the people gathered around them, so he was dearer to them than Umar. [Tareekh at-Tabari 5/414]
As a result of that expansion, some of Quraysh gained wealth and property in the regions, and people gathered around them. [Tareekh at-Tabari 5/413]
According to one report, when ‘Uthman proved not to be strict with them as ‘Umar had been, they spread all over. When they saw this world and the people saw them, those who had no virtue and nothing to offer Islam and were not known among the people at all gathered around them, and thus different groups formed. That was the first weakness that appeared in Islam, and the first fitnah that affected the masses. [Tareekh at-Tabari 5/414]
Ibn Khaldoon said: When the conquests were complete and the Muslims gained full control and power, and the Arabs settled in the regions on the border between them and other nations, in Basra, Kufah, Syria and Egypt, there were those who had been companions of the Messenger of (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and were adhering to his guidance, the Muhajireen, Ansar, Quraysh and people of the Hijaz, as well as others who were like them. As for the rest of the Arabs, such as the tribes of Banu Bakr ibn Wa’il, ‘Abd al-Qays, Rabee’ah, al-Azd, Kindah, Quda’ah and others, only a few of them attained that level, but they played a major role in the conquests so they saw themselves as deserving of respect, but the people of wisdom showed greater respect to the earlier generation and recognized their rights, as they were still in a state of awe at the issue of Prophethood and the coming of the Revelation and the angels. But when the influence of that awe waned, and when the enemy was humiliated and the Muslims’ power grew stronger, jahili ideas began to re-emerge. When they realized that their leaders were from among the Muhajireen and Ansar, from Quraysh and other tribes, they began to resent that, and this happened to be at the time of ‘Uthman. They started to criticize the governors openly in the various regions, picking on everything they did and blaming them for that. They made unfair demands for governors to be dismissed and replaced, and they started to criticize ‘Uthman a great deal, and this criticism became widespread among their followers, along with rumours that spoke of injustice in various areas. News of that reached the Sahabah in Makkah, so they grew suspicious and began to speak of dismissing ‘Uthman or telling him to dismiss his governors. He sent people to the regions to check on this news, and they came back to him and said: We did not find anything to be denounced and neither the prominent Muslims not the ordinary Muslims denounced the governors.
[Tareekh Ibn Khaldoon, 2/477]
The cessation of conquest
When the conquests came to an end at the end of ‘Uthman’s reign, because of insurmountable natural or human barriers, especially in Persia, northern Syria and North Africa, and the booty stopped as a result, the Bedouin started wondering where the previous booty and the conquered lands that they regarded as their due had gone. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, 1/344]
False rumours began to spread, accusing ‘Uthman of having disposed of the lands that had been given as waqfs to the Muslims according to his own whims and desires, and having allocated them to whomever he wanted. These rumours upset and disturbed the Bedouin specially since most of them had no work and were spending half of their time eating and sleeping, and the other half discussing the policies of the state and talking about ‘Uthman’s conduct, which the followers of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ were exaggerating about. One of ‘Uthman’s governors – ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aamir – understood what was going on and he advised the caliph, when he sought the advice of his workers, governors and advisors, that he should tell the people to engage in jihad and send them away from their wives on campaign for lengthy periods, so that the main concern of any one of them would be dealing with the lice on his head and taking care of his mount. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 2/340]
In this atmosphere, where people who were used to going out on campaign but did not have much understanding of Islam were talking about serious matters, bad consequences were possible and it was sufficient to stir up these Bedouin and manipulate them into revolting and causing tdoubles and turmoil. And this is what actually happened. Due to the cessation of conquest, the Bedouin played a role in the emergence of the first fitnah, and they were one of its main causes. [Tahqeeq Mawiqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, p. 353]
Mistaken concept of Piety
In Islam, piety is regarded as a good thing; it means giving up something that is permissible for fear of falling into something wrong. In principle it means giving up permissible things for the sake of Allah. Piety (wara’) is a personal matter which a person may expect of himself, but it is not right for him to expect it of others. One of the most dangerous types of piety (wara’) is ignorant piety which regards a permissible thing as either forbidden or obligatory, and this is what happened to those who were involved in the fifnat. [al-Asas’ fi’l-Sunnah, 4/1676]
The enemies of Islam at that time exploited their emotions and stirred them up, so they regarded ‘Uthman’s actions which were permissible and served the interests of the ummah as drifting away Islam and from the path of those who had come before, and these ignorant people regarded those actions as very serious, to such a degree that they thought it permissible to shed the blood of the Rightly-Guided Caliph ‘Uthman or to help those who regarded that as permissible. Thus the door of fitnah was opened to the Muslims and has remained open until today. This ignorant type of piety may be seen today in the actions of some Muslims who insist of shaping the rulings of Islam in accordance with their own likes and dislikes, or their customs and traditions. [Ahdah wa Ahadeeth Fitnah ul-Haq, p. 517]
Ambitions of ambitious people In the second generation of the children of the Sahaba (radhiyallahu anhum) there were those who regarded themselves as qualified to rule and be in positions of leadership, but they found that the way to that was blocked. Usually when there are ambitious people who cannot find a way to fulfil their ambitions, they get involved in any movement that is aimed at changing the status quo. Dealing with such people is an extremely important matter. [al-Asas fi’l-Sunnah, 4/1676]
The conspiracy of the haters Hate-filled hypocrites entered Islam, whose combined resentment, smartness and craftiness enabled them to understand the weak points through which they could create fitnah, and they found people who would listen to them eagerly, and that led to whatever it led to. [Ibid]
We have seen previously that there were Jews, Christians and Persians whose motives for hating Islam and the Islamic state are well known. But here we may add those who were subjected to ta’zeer punishments for offences that they had committed, and who had been punished by the caliph or his governors in some regions, especially Basra, Kufah, Egypt and Madinah. These Jewish, Christian and Persian haters, and criminals (who had been given hadd punishments) exploited groups of people, most of whom were Bedouin who did not understand this religion as it really is, and they all formed a group which was described by all those who met them as evil, and as troublemakers from the provinces and the dregs of the tribes [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 392]; the wolves of the Arabs [Ibid]; the dregs of mankind who were united in evil [at-Tabaqat, 3/71. These are the words of Ibn Sa’d]; fools with no understanding [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 392] ; the worst thugs of the tribes [Shadharat al-Dhahab, 1/40]. These are the words of Ibn al-‘Imad]; they were rabble and ruffians, the troublemakers of the tribes, the lowest of the low’ [Sharh Sahi Muslim, 15/148,149]; they were the tools of the shaytan. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/327] The sources constantly mention the name of the Jew ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ al-San’ani among these hate-filled persons. They say that he was a Jew who became Muslim, but no one checked on his intentions, and he was able to move among the Muslim provinces because he was regarded as one of the Muslims. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah p. 33]
We will discuss him in a separate section, in sha Allah.
Plans to stir up trouble against “Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) Society was primed to accept rumours and talk due to a number of internal factors, and the social fabric was susceptible to penetration. Those who wanted to stir up turmoil decided to criticize the rulers and governors on the grounds of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil until they got the people on their side and the criticism began to reach ‘Uthmann ibn ‘Affan (radhiyallahu anhu) himself, because he was the ruler of the state. If we list the criticisms that were levelled against the caliph and used against him, we will see that they fall into five categories.
1- Personal issues from the time before he was caliph (his absence from some battles and other events)
2- His financial policies – stipends and lands set aside for grazing
3- His executive administrative policies: appointment of his relatives and his way of selecting governors
4- Fiqhi matters based on his ijtihad or the interests of the ummah (offering the prayer in full in Mina, compiling the Qur’an, expanding the mosque)
5- His dealings with some of the Sahabah: ‘Ammar, Abu Dharr, Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhum) [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah p. 394]
There were some other accusations against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) either during his reign, with which they confronted him and he refuted them then, or things that were fabricated against him later on by some narrators and writers, which were not valid and which did not reach a level that would justify killing him. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashidah, p. 400]
The criticisms referred to above, which are mentioned in Tareek al-Tabari and other books of history, and which was narrated via unknown narrators and weak storytellers, especially among the Raafidhis, were and still are a major problem with regard to facts about the lives of the caliphs and imams, especially at times of tibulation and turmoil. Unfortunately the biography of ‘Uthman has the greatest share of that; his biography has been subjected to fabrications, distortions and exaggerations produced by these deviants so as to incite people against him and give him a bad image. ‘Uthman himself realized that when he wrote to his governors saying: The people have spread all over and become inclined towards evil, with three types of motives for that: love of this world, whims and desires, or hatred and grudges. [al-Tamheed wa’l-Bayin, p. 64]
Ibn al-‘Arabi said of that criticism: They said unfairly, based on the reports of liars, that ‘Uthman committed many evils and injustices during his caliphate. All of that is false, both is isnid and text. [al-‘Awasim min al-Qawasim, p. 61-63]
Ibn Taymiyah stated that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was not infallible, and said: The basic principle is that we do not believe that anyone was infallible after the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) rather the caliph or anyone else may make mistakes and commit sins, but they may repent or their sins may be expiated by their many good deeds, or they may be faced with calamity by means of which Allah will expiate their sins, or they may be expiated in other ways. Everything that has been narrated from ‘Uthman may at worst be a sin or a mistake, but ‘Uthman achieved the means of attaining forgiveness in many ways, such as his having come to Islam early, his faith and jihad, and other good deeds that he did. It is proven that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam testified in his favour and gave him the glad tidings of Paradise for a calamity that would befall him. [Muslim, Kitab Fada’il al-Sahibah, 4/1867, 1869]
Moreover, he repented from most of the things for which they criticized him, and he met with a great calamity by means of which Allah expiated his sins and he bore it with patience until he was killed wrongfully as a martyr, which is one of the greatest means of expiation. [Dhu’n-Noorayn, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, by Muhammad Ma-Allah, p. 63]
Using means to stir up the people
The most important of these meaw were: spreading rumours until they became widespread; stirring up debates and arguments against the caliph before the people; criticizing the governors; fabricating forged letters which were attributed to the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), ‘Aa’ishah, ‘Ali, Talhah and az-Zubayr; spreading the rumour that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib was more entitled to the caliphate and that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had left instructions that he should be the caliph after him; organizing groups in Basra, Kufah and Egypt, with four groups in each province, which is indicative of prior planning. They gave the people of Madinah the false impression that they had only come at the invitation of the Sahabah and things escalated until they reached the level of murder. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashida, p. 401]
In addition to these means, they also used a number of slogans, including takbeer and the claim that their jihad was against injustice, or that they were only enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, or making demands to change and dismiss governors, but then the demand turned into a demand for the dismissal of ‘Uthman, until they got carried away in their audacity and hastened to kill the caliph, especially when they heard that the people of the provinces were coming to support the caliph; that made them more eager to corner the caliph and kill him by any means. [Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al-Nubuwwah wa’l-Khilafah al-Rashida, p. 401]
Influence of the Saba’is (followers of “Abd-Allah ibn Saba” on the fitnah
The Saba’is were a real group, not a figment of the imagination
The early scholars were unanimously agreed that the Saba’is existed, with no exception. A few modern scholars, most of whom are Shi’is, agreed with that, and their claim is based on the view that this was a product of the imagination of Sayf ibn ‘Umar al-Tameemi, because some of the scholars of biography criticized this Sayf in the field of hadeeth narration, but the scholars regard him as acceptable in the field of historical reports. Moreover, there are many reports narrated by Ibn ‘Asakir which mention ‘Abd- Allah ibn Saba’ of which Sayf ibn ‘Umar is not one of the narrators. Al-Albani ruled that some of these reports were saheeh even though they were narrated by the Shi’ah in their books of sects, biographies or hadeeth, and there is no mention of this Sayf ibn ‘Umar at all in them. This is discussed in detail by Dr. Sulayman al-‘Awdah in his book ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ wa Athruhu fi Ahdath al-Fitnah fi Sadr al-Islam.
‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’, who is also known as Ibn al-Sawda’, was a Jew from San’a who appeared outwardly to have become Muslim at the time of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. He was noticeably active in Syria, Iraq and Egypt in particular. He drew up plans and produced destructive ideas to divert the Muslims from their religion and stop them obeying their caliph and create division among them. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif aI-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, 1/284]
Some researchers doubted the existence of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ and said that he was an imaginary figure. But they denied his existence without offering any proof or evidence. Those who denied the existence of Ibn Saba’ were groups of Orientalists and Arab researchers, most of whom were modern Shi’ah. It is strange that these Orientalists and their lackeys among the Raafidhis and westernized Muslims of our time deny the existence of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ and claim that he is an imaginary figure. How ignorant and audacious it is to suggest
such a thing when the books of history and sects are filled with his biography and the narrators transmitted reports of his deeds that were well known throughout the region. The historians, scholars of hadeeth and authors of books on sects and groups, biography, literature and genealogy who discussed the Saba’is were all unanimously agreed that ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ who appears in the books of Sunni writers as well as in Shi’i books was a real historical character. Hence the reports of the fitnah and Ibn Saba’s role in it are not limited to Tareekh al-Tabari and are not based only on the reports of Sayf ibn ‘Umar al-Tameemi contained therein, rather there are widespread reports in the narrations of earlier scholars and throughout the books that record the events of Islamic history and discuss the views of different sects during that period. But the advantage that Imam al-Tabari had over others is that he had more abundant material and more details cthan others. Hence shedding doubts on these events without any evidence implies a rejection of all these reports and labelling those narrators and scholars as foolish, and distorting the historical facts. Since when does an academic methodology based on pure rational thinking form a basis for rejection as opposed to texts and corroborating reports? Is this methodology based on overlooking and ignoring all the sources, both earlier and later, which prove that Ibn Saba’ was a real person? [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fl-Fitnah (1/70); Da’awa al-Inqadh li’l-Tareekh al- Islam] Ibn Saba’ is mentioned in many books of ahl al-sunnah, including the following:
“The Saba’is are mentioned by A’sha Hamadan [His name was ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Harith al-Hamadani, who was known as A’sha Hamadan. He was a Persian poet and one of the fuqaha’ of the qurra’, but he composed poetry and was known for it. Al- Dhahabi said: a famous eloquent poet, who was a devoted worshipper and man of virtue. He was killed in 83 AH]. He lampooned al-Mukhtar ibn Abi ‘Ubayd al- Thaqafi and his supporters from Kufah, after he fled with the nobles of the tribes of Kufah to Basra, by saying:
I bear witness that you are Saba’is, and I am aware of you, O guardians of kufr. [Diwan A’sha Hamadan, p. 148]
There is a report from al-Sha’bi (d. 103 AH/721 CE) which says that the first one who told lies was ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’.” [Tareekh Dimashq, by Ibn ‘Asakir, 9/331]
Muhammad ibn Habeeb ibn Umayyah al-Hashimi, a scholar of genealogy, historical reports, language and poetry, d. 245 AH/860 CE. Tareekh Baghdad, 2/277 mentioned Ibn Saba’ and regarded him as one of the children of the Ethiopian women. [al-Muhbar by Ibn Habeeb, p. 308]
Abu ‘Aasim Khushaysh ibn Asram (d. 253 AH) narrated a report about ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) burning some of the companions of Ibn Saba’, in his book al-Istiqamah.
Al-Jahiz. His name was ‘Amr ibn Bahr ibn Mahbooh al-Kinabi, one of the leading scholars of literature and knowledge, d. 255 AH. Wafiyat al-A’yun, 33/40 is regarded as one of the first to refer to ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ [al-Bayan wa’l-Tabyeen, 3/81]:but his report is not the first, as Dr. Jawad ‘Ali thinks. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah (1/290)]
The story of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) burning a group of heretics is mentioned in saheeh reports that are narrated in the Saheehs, Sunans and Musnads (books of hadeeth). [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah (1/290)]
There is nothing strange about using the word heretic with regard to ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ and his group. Ibn Taymiyah said: The Raafidhi ideas started with the heretic ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’. [Majmoo’ al-Fatawa, 28/483]
Al-Dhahabi said: ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ was one of the extreme heretics; he was misguided and misled others. [Mizan al-l’tidal by al-Dhahabi, 2/462]
Ibn Hajar said: ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ was one of the extreme heretics … he had followers who were called Saba’is, who believed in the divinity of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. ‘Ali burned them with fire during his caliphate. [Lisan at-Mizan by Ahmad ibn Hajar]
Ibn Saba’ is also mentioned in the books of al-jarh wa’l-Ta’deel (hadeeth criticism).
Ibn Hibban (d. 354 AH) said: al-Kalbi – Muhammad ibn al-Sa’ib al-Ikhbari – was a Saba’i, one of the followers of ‘Abd- Allah ibn Saba’, one of those who said that ‘Ali did not die and that he will come back to this world before the Hour begins. If they saw a cloud, they would say: The ameer al mu’mineen (i.e., ‘Ali) is in it. [al-Mujrooheen min al-Muhaddifheen, by Abu mtim al-Tameemi, 2/253]
The books of genealogy also confirm that the Saba’i group is named after ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ such as, for example al- Ansab by al-Sam’ani [‘Abd al-Kareem ibn Muhammad al-Sam’sni, d. 562 AH; Tadhkirat al-Hufffz, 4/1316].
Ibn ‘Asakir (d. 571 AH) described Ibn Saba’ as follows: ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’, after whom the Saba’is were named, who are a group of extreme Raafidhis. He was origi ally from Yemen, a Jew who apparently became a Muslim. [Tareekh Dimashq, by Ibn ‘Asakir, 9/328, 329 ]
Sayf ibn ‘Umar was not the only source for reports about ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’. In his Tareekh, Ibn ‘Asakir narrated reports which have no connection to Sayf, which confirm the existence of Ibn Saba’. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 1/298]
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728 AH) stated that the origins of the Raafidhi sect lay with the hypocrites and heretics, and that it was the invention of the heretic Ibn Saba’, who exaggerated about ‘Ali and claimed that he should have been caliph and that he was appointed by a clear text, and he claimed that he was infallible. [Majmoo al-Fatawa by Ibn Taymiyah, 4/435]
Al-Shatibi (d. 790 AH) pointed out that the innovation of the Saba’is was one that had to do with belief in the existence of another god besides Allah – exalted be Allah – and this was an innovation that differed from others. [al-I’tisam, by Abu Ishaq al-lakhmi, 2/197]
In al-Khutat by al-Maqreezi (d. 845 AH) it says that ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ appeared at the time of ‘Ali, saying that ‘Ali was the wasiy (caliph appointed by the Prophet) and would return, and promoting belief in the transmigration of souls. [ al-Mawa’iz wa’l-l’tibar bi Dhikr al-Khutat wa’l-Athir, by al-Maqreezi, 2/256,257]
The Shi’ah sources which mention Ibn Saba’ include the following: Al-Kushshi narrated that Muhammad ibn Qawlawiyyah said: Sa’d ibn ‘Abd-Allah told me: Ya’qoob ibn Yazeed and Muhammad ibn ‘Eesa told me, from ‘Ali ibn Mahziyk, from Faddalah ibn Ayyoob al-Azdi, that Aban ibn ‘Uthman said: I heard Abu ‘Abd-Allah say: May Allah curse ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ for he claimed that [‘Ali] was divine, but by Allah, [‘Ali] was an obedient slave. Woe to the one who tells lies about us. If people say of us things that we do not say about ourselves, we disavow ourselves of them before Allah. [Rijal al-Kashshi, 1/324] The isnad of this report is Saheeh.
In al-Khisal, al-Qommi narrated the same report, but in connection with a different isnad. The author of Rawdat al-Jannat mentioned Ibn Saba’ in a quotation from Imam al-Sadiq who cursed Ibn Saba’ and accused him of lying, fabricating, broadcasting secrets and misinterpreting. [‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ by Sulayman al-‘Awdah, p. 62]
In his book, Dr. Sulayman al-‘Awdah mentioned a number of texts with which the Shi’ah books are filled, and their reports from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’, which are more akin to recorded documents that condemn anyone among the later Shi’ah who tries to deny the existence of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ or shed doubt on the reports that refer to him on the basis of paucity or weakness of the reports. [Ibid]
Ibn Saba’ was a real historical figure concerning whom there is no confusion in either the Sunni or Shi’i sources, earlier or later. This is also the view of most of the orientalists such as Julius Falhausen, Van Houlton, Levi de la vidar, Goldschieher, Ronald Nicholson, and Dwight Ronaldson. At the same time, Ibn Saba’ remains a doubtful figure or no more than a myth for a few Orientalists such as Caetani and Bernard Lewis and Fred Lander who remains uncertain. But we should remember that we do not rely on these authors with regard to our history.
The one who studies these sources, ancient and modern, Sunni and Shi’ah, will be certain that ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ really existed and that his existence is supported by the historical reports. The books of ‘aqeedah, hadeeth, biography, genealogy, literature and language also mention him a great deal. This idea was accepted by modern scholars and researchers. It seems that the first ones who shed doubt on the existence of Ibn Saba’ were some of the Orientalists, then this denial was supported by the majority of modern Shi’ah, and some of them denied his existence altogether. Among modern Arab researchers there were some who admired the ideas of the Orientalists and were influenced by the books of the modem Shi’ah, but none of them have anything to support their suspicions and denials except doubt itself, which is based on speculations and assumptions. Whoever wishes to find out more about the Sunni, Orientalist and Shi’i references which mention Ibn Saba’ may refer to Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah by Dr. Muhammad Amhazon, and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ wa Atharuhu fi Ahdah al-Fitnah fi Sadr al-Islam, by Dr. Sulayman ibn Hamad al-‘Awdah.
The role of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ in stirring up fitnah
In the last years of ‘Uthman’s caliphate, signs of trouble in the Muslim society began to loom on the horizon, due to the changes that we have mentioned. Some of the Jews seized this opportunity to stir up trouble by pretending to be Muslim and using the tactic of taqiyah (dissimulation). Among them was ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ who is also known as Ibn al-Sawda’. Whilst we should not exaggerate about his role in the fitnah as some have done (Such as Sa’eed al-Afghani in his book ‘Aa’ishah wa’s Siyasah), we should not cast doubts on it either, or think little of the role that he played as one of several factors. Rather his role was the most prominent and the most dangerous. Just as the atmosphere of fitnah paved the way for him, there were other factors that helped him too. All Ibn Saba’ did was to spread views and beliefs that he fabricated himself, that reflected his hateful nature, and propagated them for his own purposes, namely introducing new things into the Muslim society to destroy its unity and stir up fitnah. So he planted seeds of division among the people. That was one of several factors that led to the murder of the caliph ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and the division of the ummah into factions and parties. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 1/327]
To sum up his ideas, he quoted true ideas but leapt to wrong conclusions that found acceptance among the simple-minded, extremists and those who were swayed by whims and desires. He followed convoluted ways whereby he deceived those who gathered around him. He started quoting Qur’an and misinterpreting it in accordance with his false claims, when he said: It is strange that people believe that ‘Eesa is coming back, but they do not accept that Muhammad is coming back, when Allah says
“Verily, He Who has given you (O Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the Qur’an (i .e. ordered you to act on its laws and to preach it to others) will surely, bring you back to Ma’d (place of return)” [Al-Qasas 28:85], and Muhammad is more deserving of coming back than ‘Eesa.” [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/347]
He also resorted to false analogy in trying to claim that ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhi) was the wasiy or true heir appointed by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to succeed him, when he said: There were one thousand Prophets, and each Prophet had a wasiy (heir), and ‘Ali was the wasiy of Muhammad. Then he said: Muhammad was the seal of the Prophets and ‘Ali was the seal of the heirs. [Ibid]
When this idea had become entrenched in the hearts of his followers, he moved on to his ultimate aim, which was making the people rebel against the caliph ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). That happened to coincide with the whims and desires of some of the people when he said to them: Who does more wrong than the one who did not fulfil the final wishes of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) who pushed aside ‘Ali the true heir (wasiy) of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and took control of the ummah? Then after that he told them: ‘Uthman took it unlawfully; here is the true heir of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) – get up and do something about it. Start by criticizing your governors, and pretend that you are enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, so that people will be inclined towards you, and call them to this matter. [Ibid 5/348 ]
He sent out his agents and wrote to people in the regions who were corrupted by his ideas, and they wrote to him and propagated their views in secret, pretending to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. They started writing to the regions, mentioning the faults of their governors, and corresponding with their counterparts in other regions, telling them of what they were doing. They even sent letters to Madinah and spread their false propaganda all over, aiming for something other than what they appeared to be seeking. The people in the regions said: We are free of what others are suffering from. But the people of Madinah received letters from all over and said: we are better off than the rest of the people. [Ibid]
From this text we can see the methods followed by Ibn Saba’. He wanted to give the impression that there was a rift between two of the Sahabah by showing that one of them, ‘Ali, had been deprived of his rights, whereas the other, ‘Uthman, was a usurper. Then he tried to stir up the people, especially in Kufah, against their governors in the name of enjoining what is good and forbiddmg what is evil. So they started to revolt against their governors for the slightest reasons. In this campaign of his he focused on the Bedouin because he found them to be suitable material for carrying out his plan. He gained the support of the religious people among them by using the idea of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and he gained the support of those who had worldly ambitions by means of false rumours against ‘Uthman, such as the claim that he was biased in favour of his relatives and was spending money from the bayt al-mal of the Muslims on them, or that he had allocated grazing land for himself only, and other accusations and criticisms by means of which ibn Saba’ managed to rally the thugs against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). Then he started inciting his followers to send letters with terrible news about their cities to other provinces, so that people in all regions would think that the situation had got so bad that it could not get any worse. Those who benefited from this situation were the Saba’is, because when the people believed that, they would be able to light the spark of fitnah in the Muslim society. [Al-Dawlah al-Umawiyyah by Yoosuf al-‘Ishsh, p. 168 ]
‘Uthman realized that there were plots in other provinces, and that the ummah was facing a bad time. He said: By Allah, the millstone (of fitnah) will soon start turning, and it will be better for ‘Uthman if he dies and does not set it in motion. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/350]
But the place where Ibn Saba’ found his niche was in Egypt, where he started to organize his campaign against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), urging the people to go to Madinah and stir up fitnah on the basis that ‘Uthman had become caliph unlawfully and snatched it from ‘Ali, the true heir of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/348]
He deceived them by means of the letters which he claimed to have received from the senior Sahabah, but when the Bedouin came to Madinah and met with the Sahabah, they did not receive any encouragement from them and they denied any letters that had been attributed to them, inciting the people against ‘Uthman. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/365]
They found that ‘Uthman paid attention to the dues of others and he debated with them concerning that which was attributed to him, refuting their lies and explaining that his deeds were based on sincere intentions, until one of these Bedouin – Malik ibn al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i – said: Perhaps it is a plot that has been drawn up against him and you. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif as-Sahabah, 1/331]
Al-Dhahabi is of the view that ‘Abd- Allah ibn Saba’ started the fitnah in Egypt, where he planted the seeds of grudges and criticism against the governors, then against the ruler ‘Uthman. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif as-Sahabah, 1/338]
But Ibn Saba’ was not alone; his agents were at work among the network of conspirators, using their craftiness and trickery to recruit the religious Bedouin and others. Ibn Katheer narrated that among the causes of the incitement against ‘Uthman was the emergence of Ibn Saba’, and his going to Egypt and spreading rumours among the people that he fabricated himself, and many people in Egypt were deceived. [al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, 7/167,168]
The famous historians and scholars of both the earlier and later generations of this ummah are agreed that Ibn Saba’ appeared among the Muslims with ideas, plans and plots aimed at diverting the Muslims from their faith and from obeying their ruler, and spreading division and disputes among them. The thugs rallied around him which led to the formation of the Saba’i group which formed one of the factors in the fitnah which ended with the murder of the caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (radhiyallahu anhu). It seems that the Saba’i plots were very well organized as they were very skilled in directing their “missionaries” and spreading their ideas because they had the means of propaganda and influencing the thugs and dregs of society. They were also active in forming branches in Basra, Kufah and Egypt, exploiting tribalistic sentiments and exploiting the weak points of the Bedouin and slaves based on knowledge of what they wanted to hear. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif as-Sahabah Fi’l Fitnah, p. 339]
The spread of fitnah (turmoil)
The hate-filled liars succeeded in removing al-Waleed ibn ‘Uqbah from his post as governor of Kufah, and ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) appointed Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas as the new governor in Kufah. When Sa’eed reached his province he ascended the mimbar and after praising and glorlfying Allsh he said: By Allah, I have been sent to you and I was reluctant, but when ‘Uthmin ordered me to come, I had no choice but to accept. Fitnah (turmoil) has raised its head among you and by Allah I shall strike it on the face until I suppress it or it defeats me, and I shall start from today. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/280]
Sa’eed examined the situation in Kufah and found out about the people’s attitudes. He realized how deeply rooted fitnah was there, and he found out that groups of rebels, hate-filled bearers of grudges and enemies of Islam were conspiring and plotting and that the view of the thugs and Bedouins was the prevalent view.”‘ [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 122]
Sa’eed wrote a letter to the caliph ‘Uthman telling him about the deteriorating situation in Kufah. Among other things, he said: The people of Kufah are in a bad way and the people of honour and those who became Muslim early on and served Islam are suppressed. Those who are prevailing in this land are the lowest class of people and the ignorant Bedouin so you hardly see anyone there who is noble or who has a history of Islam and Jihad. ‘Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) responded with a letter in which he asked him to re-arrange things in Kufah, to list the people in order of seniority in Islam and contribution to jihad, and to give precedence to those who were knowledgeable and sincere and had a history of jihad over others. Among other things he said: Give precedence to those who became Muslim early on and served Islam, at whose hands Allah caused that land to be conquered. Make the Bedouin who came to the land after it was conquered followers of the mujaahideen who preceded them, unless those who preceded them have become slow and have started to neglect jihad and support of the truth, and those who came later have taken on that mission. Recognize the position of each man there and give them all their dues fairly, for knowledge of the people will ensure fairness among them. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/280]
Sa’eed carried out the instruction of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and told the caliph what he had done. ‘Uthman assembled the decision-makers in Madinah and told them of the situation in Kufah and how deeply-rooted fitnah was and the steps that Ibn al- ‘Aas had taken to confront it. They said: You did the right thing; do not help the people of fitnah in any way and do not let them become leaders of the people, and do not appoint them to positions to which they are not entitled, for if you appoint one who is not qualified he will not do a good job, rather he will spread mischief. ‘Uthman said to them: O people of Madinah, the people are already planning to start fitnah so be prepared to confront it. Adhere to the truth and I shall inform you of the latest developments as they come. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/281]
The Followers of whims and desires were upset with the reforms
The thugs and rough Bedouin were upset with the preference that was shown in gatherings and with regard to being given positions of leadership and being consulted, to those who had come to Islam earlier, had contributed to jihad and who were knowledgeable and pious. They began to criticize their governors for showing preference to those people and consulting them in exclusion to them, and they regarded that as favouritism, bad treatment and exclusion. Those who bore grudges exploited this and started to instil hatred of the caliph and the state and a refusal to accept the reforms of the governor Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas, and they spread rumours against him among the people. The common folk of Kufah rejected the words of the hate-filled rebels so the latter began to keep quiet and keep their specious arguments to themselves and not discuss them openly, because most of the Muslims rejected them. But they discussed them with the Bedouin and thugs who supported them, and those who had been subjected to ta’zeer punishments. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 14]
The enemies of Islam, the Jews, Christians and Magians, were conspiring against Islam and the Muslims, spreading false rumours against the caliph and the governors, and making the most of mistakes committed by some of them to incite the common folk against them, adding a lot of lies and forged letters to it. Their aim in doing so was to spread chaos and deepen divisions between the Muslims, thus satisfying their hatred of Islam which had put an end to their false religions and destroyed their states and armies. In order to achieve these aims, these enemies recruited the thugs, fools and hooligans, and those who bore grudges at having been disciplined or punished by the caliph or one of his governors rallied around them. They formed an evil secret society whose members were the ones who responded to their call. So they gained followers in many major cities and other regions, and formed a secret communications network. The most important branches of this evil network were in Kufah, Basra and Egypt, and there were also some elements in Madinah and Syria. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p 124]
The Jew ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ was the head of the Gang
Ibn Saba’ told his criminal followers in his evil secret society, who were spread throughout the Muslim lands: Start executing the plan now. Stir up trouble and start criticizing your rulers and governors who have been appointed by the caliph. Pretend to be enjoining that which is good and forbidding that which is evil so that you can win people over to your side and call them to join you. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/34]
‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ sent his envoys to all regions, and sent letters to his followers whom he had managed to corrupt and make them join him, and they wrote to him. His followers in different regions began to take action, calling their followers in secret to begin the planned rebellion against the governors and the caliph, and to work towards the dismissal of ‘Uthman from the position of caliph. They pretended to enjoin that which is good and forbid that which is evil, so that they could influence the people and deceive them and win them over. The followers of Ibn Saba’ began to fabricate lies about the faults of their governors and rulers, and they spread them by means of letters that they sent to one another in different regions. So the people in each region began to send letters filled with lies to the people in other regions, and the people of each region read those falsified letters to the people who were with them. Thus the people heard about the faults of governors in other provinces and they said: We are safe from the problems that Muslims are facing in that land, and they believed what they heard. Thus the followers of Ibn Saba’ were able to spread mischief among the Muslims throughout the land and create division among them, shattering the bonds of brotherhood and unity and inciting the people against their governors and rulers, and spreading lies against the caliph ‘Uthman himself. They carried out these well-planned crimes in a skilful manner, aiming at something other than what they seemed to want, which was to dismiss ‘Uthma and put an end to the Islamic state. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p 126]
Ibn Saba’ went to Syria to corrupt and influence some of its people, but he did not succeed in his devilish aim, because Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) was watching him. [Ibid]
He went to Basra to recruit his followers from among the evil-doers, grudge-bearers, hooligans and thugs. The governor of Basra was ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aamir ibn Kurayz, who was a man of resolve, just and righteous. When Ibn Saba’ reached Basra, he stayed with an evil man who lived there, a ruthless thief by the name of Hakeem ibn Jablah. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p 129]
‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aamir heard that there was a stranger staying with Hakeem ibn Jablah, and Hakeem ibn Jablah was a thief. When the armies of jihad returned to Basra, Hakeem would stay behind to spread mischief in the Persian lands and raid the lands of ahl al-dhimmah and the Muslims, taking from them whatever he wanted. The ahl al-dhimmah and the Muslims complained to ‘Uthman about him, and ‘Uthman wrote to ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aamir, telling him: Detain Hakeem ibn Jablah in Basra and do not let him leave the city until you think that he has come to his senses. So Ibn ‘Aamir put him under house arrest and he could no longer leave Basra. Whilst the thief Ibn Jablah was under house arrest, the Jew ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ came and stayed with him. Ibn Saba’ took advantage of the fact that Ibn Jablah was a mean, hate-filled thug and recruited him for his cause, and Ibn Jablah became his man in Basra, introducing Ibn Saba’ to other deviants like him. Ibn Saba’ instilled his ideas in their hearts and recruited them into his secret society. When Ibn ‘Aamir found out about Ibn Saba’, he summoned him and said to him: Who are you? He said: Ibn Saba’; I am a man from among the people of the Book who liked Islam and became Muslim, and I wanted to be close to you and settle near you. Ibn ‘Aamir said: What is this talk that I have heard about you? Get away from me. So Ibn ‘Aamir expelled him from Basra and Ibn Saba’ departed, leaving behind some of his followers there and having established a branch of his party there.
Ibn Saba’ went to Kufah where he found deviant types who were prepared to accept him, so he recruited them for his group. When Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas found out about him, he expelled him from Kufah, and he headed for Egypt, where he settled and put down roots, spreading corruption and mischief. He attracted a following of thugs and fools, those who bore grudges and sinners and evildoers. Ibn Saba’ organized secret communications between his base in Egypt and his followers in Madinah, Basra and Kufah, and his men moved between these regions. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p 129]
Ibn Saba’ and his followers continued their efforts for six years, so their fiendish efforts began in 30 AH and finally succeeded at the end of 35 AH in killing the caliph ‘Uthman, and their mischief continued throughout the caliphate of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). The Saba’is decided to start their fitnah in Kufah. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p 129]
Mischief-makers causing trouble in the majlis of Sa’eed ibn ‘Aas One day in 33 AH, Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas was sitting in his public majlis with ordinary people around him, talking and conversing with one another. These Saba’i rebels slipped into the majlis and tried to cause trouble and stir up fitnah.
There was a debate going on in the majlis between Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas and one of those present, a man by the name of Khunays ibn Hubaysh al-Asadi, who disagreed concerning some matter. Seven of the rebels and mischief makers were sitting there, among whom was Jundub al-Azdi, whose thieving son had been executed because of his involvement in a case of murder, along with al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i, Ibn al-Kawa’ and Sa’sa’ah ibn Sawhaan. The troublemakers took advantage of the opporhmity and started hitting Khunays al-Asadi. When his father got up to help him, they hit him too. Sa’eed tried to stop the beating but they would not stop. The man and his son lost consciousness because the beating was so severe. Banu Asad came to avenge their people and it almost led to war between the two sides, but Sa’eed was able to sort things out. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/323]
When ‘Uthman found out about the incident, he asked Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas to deal with it wisely, and to suppress the fitnah as much as he could. The hate-filled rebels went home and spread rumours and Lies against Sa’eed and ‘Uthman, and against the people of Kufah and its prominent figures. The people of Kufah got upset with them and asked Sa’eed to punish them. Sa’eed said to them: ‘Uthman has forbidden me to do that, but if you want you can tell him about it. The nobles and righteous people of Kufah wrote to ‘Uthman telling him about that group, and asking him to expel them and banish them from Kufah, because they were causing mischief in the city. ‘Uthman told his governor Sa’eed ibn al ‘Aas to expel them from Kufah. There were more than ten men, and Sa’eed sent them to Mu’iwiyah in Syria on the orders of ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman wrote to Mu’awiyah telling him about them, and said: The people of Kufah have expelled some people for whom fitnah is second nature, and sent them to you; threaten them, instil fear in them, discipline them and punish them, then if you feel that they have come to their senses, accept that from them. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/324]
Among those who were banished to Syria were: al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i, Jundub al-Azdi, Sa’sa’ah ibn Sawhaan, Kameel ibn Ziyaad, ‘Umayr ibn Daabi’ and Ibn al-Kawa’. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p. 131]
The exiles from Kufah with Mu’awiyah
When they came to Mu’awiyah he welcomed them and let them stay in a church called Maryam, and he supplied them with provisions on ‘Uthman’s orders, as he had supplied them with provisions in Iraq, and he ate lunch and dinner with them every day. One day he said to them: You are Arab people who have teeth and tongues; you have been honoured with Islam and you prevailed over other nations, inheriting their wealth and positions. I have heard that you bear a grudge against Quraysh but if it were not for Quraysh you would have remained in a low position as you were before. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/324]
‘Uthman understood that Mu’awiyah was able to deal with them, because he was eloquent, patient and smart enough to confront the Fitnah. Because of that, as soon as there was a problem, ‘Uthman was able to send them to Mu’awiyah so that he could solve it. Indeed, Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) did his utmost to convince these people. First of all, he treated them well, sitting with them and mixing with them in order to find out what was in their hearts before he passed judgement on them on the basis of what he heard. After they began to feel relaxed with him and let down their guard, he realized that tribalism and the desire for power were their motives, so he had no choice but to highlight two issues to them:
1- How Islam had honoured the Arabs
2- The role of Quraysh in spreading Islam
Islam had any impact on them, they would have appreciated what he said. After that, he told them what the Arabs used to be, and how Islam had turned them into a single nation with a single leader, and they had left behind a life of chaos, bloodshed and foul tribalism.
Mu’awiyah followed that by saying: Your leaders are a shield for you, so do not abandon your shield. Your rulers today treat you with patience and take care of you. By Allah, you should stop or else Allah will punish you with rulers who will mistreat you, then you will not be praised for your patience, then you will be their partners in sin for the injustice that you will have brought upon the people, during your Life and after your death. One of the people said: As for what you have said about Quraysh, they were never the most numerous or strongest of the Arabs during the Jaahiliyyah, such that you could scare us with them. As for what you have said about a shield, if the shield is breached, then we could get hurt. Mu’awiyah said: I know you now. I know that what has led you to this attitude is a lack of maturity. You are the spokesman of the people but you do not make any sense to me. I am trying to remind you of the greatness of Islam and you remind me of the Jaahiliyyah? I am exhorting you and you claim that the shield that is protecting you can be breached? Even if it is breached, it is not the fault of the shield.[Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/324]
Mu’awiyah realized that mere hints would not convince them; he had no choice but to explain in detail about Quraysh first of all. So he said: Try to understand, although I do not think that you will understand. Quraysh was never raised in status during the Jaahiliyyah or in Islam except by Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. They were never the greatest or the strongest of the Arabs, but they were the noblest in descent and the purest in lineage, the best in character and attitude. They were not in a position of safety during the Jaahiliyyah when the people were killing one another, except by the help of Allah; no one can be humiliated whom He honours. Do you know of any people, Arab or non-Arab, black or red, whose land was stricken with calamity and violated at the same time, except for Quraysh? No one ever plotted against them but Allah brought him low, then when Allah wanted to save those whom He had honoured and who had followed His religion from humiliation in this world and a bad end in the Hereafter, He chose for that mission the best of His creation, then He chose for him companions the best of whom were Quraysh, then He built this great kingdom on that foundation and established this caliphate among them, and no one could be fit for that except them. So Allah was taking care of them as they were following His religion, and He protected them against the kings who were subjugating you during the Jaahiliyyah. Woe to you and your companions! I wish that someone else had spoken instead of you, but you rushed to speak first. As for you, O Sa’sa’ah, your town is the worst of Arab towns, with the least produce, the deepest valleys, the most familiar with evil and the meanest to its neighbours. No one, noble or lowly, stayed there but he was reviled and mistreated. Moreover, they are the worst in using offensive nicknames, the worst sons-in-law, the dregs of the nations. You are on the border and you were controlled by the Persians when the call of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) reached you. But you were not there with your people; you were in Oman, not in Bahrain, so the call of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did not include you, and you are the worst of your people. When Islam made you prominent and made you prevail over nations that used to rule you, now you aim to distort the religion of Allah and you demonstrate your meanness. This does not affect Quraysh in the slightest and it will never harm them or prevent them from doing their duty. The Shaytaan is not unaware of you; he knew that you are the most evil of your people and he has misled the people through you. He is going to be the cause of your doom. He knows that he will not be able to change the decree by means of you, or change any decree of Allah. There is nothing that you can achieve by means of evil actions but Allah will punish you with something more evil or more humiliating than it. Then he stood up and left, and they started muttering amongst themselves. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/326]
Thus Mu’awiyah did his utmost to convince them on an intellectual and political level.
⚫ First of all he highlighted to them the position of Quraysh in the Jahiliyyah and in Islam.
⚫ He discussed the tribes that these people came from and their position during the Jaahiliyyah, as they lived in an area with a bad climate and poor vegetation from a natural point of view, then their humiliation and subjugation to the Persians from a political point of view, until Allah honoured them with Islam and raised them in status after they had been humiliated.
⚫ Mu’awiyah spoke of the track record of their spokesman Sa’sa’ah ibn Sawhaan, who had been very slow in responding to the call of Islam after his people had become Muslim, then he came back and joined Islam, and Islam raised him in status after he had been brought low.
⚫ Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) exposed the plots of Sa’sa’ah and his companions, how they were seeking to stir up turmoil and in fact wanted to damage the religion of Allah.
The Shaytaan was the mastermind behind this evil plot, thus Mu’awiyah made the connection between the history of this ummah and the help of Allah, then Islam and true faith (‘aqeedah). Then he exposed the spurious nature of this group and he exposed every single one of them and their plots, and demonstrated that the motive behind the plots was tribalism. [Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, p. 111]
Then Mu’awiyah came to them the next day and talked to them at length, then he said: O people, respond to me in a good manner, or else keep quiet and think; think of that which will benefit you, your families, your tribes and all of the Muslims. Seek that and you could live and we could live happily with you.
Sa’sa’ah said: You have no right to say that, and there is no way that you should be obeyed when it involves disobedience towards Allah. Mu’awiyah said: Is it not the case that the first thing I did was enjoin you to fear Allah and obey Him, and obey His Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves (cf. Aal ‘Imraan 3:103) They said: No, you ordered us to be divided and you told us something different from what the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said. He said: I am ordering you now, if I did that, then I repent to Allah and I order you to fear Him and obey Him and obey His Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and adhere to the main body of Muslims and avoid division, and show respect to your leaders and guide them to what is good as much as you can, and exhort them kindly and gently if they make a mistake. Sa’sa’ah said: And we enjoin you to give up your post, for among the Muslims there is one who is more qualified for it than you. Mu’awiyah said: Who is that? They said: One whose father has more seniority in Islam than your father, and he himself has more seniority in Islam than you. Mu’awiyah said: By Allah, I have seniority in Islam and there are others who have more seniority than me, but there is no one in my time who is more able to do what I am doing than me. This was the opinion of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab concerning me. If someone else was more able than me, ‘Umar would not have compromised with me or with anyone else. I have not done anything wrong for which I should be dismissed from my post. If the caliph and the community had thought that, he would have written with his own hand and I would have given up my post. If Allah decreed that he should do that, I would hope that his decision would be the right one. Be careful, for what you are doing is what the shaytaan wishes and tells others to do. By Allah, if matters were canied out as you wish, then nothing would be done in the right way to the people of Islam by day or by night. But Allah decrees and arranges and whatever He decrees is what comes to pass. But they persisted and said: You are not qualified for that. Mu’awiyah said: By Allah, Allah is Severe in punishment and I fear that if you continue to obey the shaytaan, your obedience to the shaytaan and your disobedience of the Most Merciful will expose you to the vengeance of Allah in this world and eternal humiliation in the Hereafter. They pounced on him and grabbed him by the head and beard, and he said to them: Stop it! This is not Kufah. By Allah, if the people of Syria see what you have done to me when I am their leader, I would not be able to stop them from killing you. Then he got up and left, and said: By Allah, I will never meet with them again so long as I live. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/330-331]
Mu’awiyah, the governor of Syria, put all his effort into this final attempt, tackling the problem with patience, knowledge and self-control in order to divert them from fitnah. He called on them to fear Allah and obey Him, and to adhere to the main body of Muslims and avoid division, but they responded with all arrogance saying: You have no right to be obeyed in disobedience to Allah. [op. cit., 5/330]
But he responded with extreme patience, reminding them that he was not enjoining anything but obedience to Allah, and even if what they said was true, he declared his repentance to Allah from the sin, if it had happened. Then he called them once again to obey Allah and adhere to the main body of Muslims, and to keep away from creating division in the ummah. If exhortation could have had any effect on them, then their hearts should have been touched by this kind and patient treatment, but they viewed it as weakness and negligence, especially since he was telling them to use kind and peaceful means when exhorting and giving advice. Now they found an opportunity to expose what was in their hearts and they said: We enjoin you to give up your post, for among the Muslims there is one who is more qualilied than you. Suddenly Mu’awiyah realized what they were hiding, and he wanted to know more about that mysterious side of them, in hopes of finding out what was motivating them and instilling these false notions in their minds. But they concealed it, and all they did was indicate that they wanted him to give up his job to someone better, one whose father was better than his father. He continued to be even more patient with them, despite their rudeness towards him and their telling him to give up his position. Here we see how Mu’awiyah gave them a detailed answer describing his view on ruling, governorship and leadership. Mu’awiyah summed up his answer in six basic, important points:
1- That he had seniority in Islam and he had been guarding the borders of Syria since the death of his brother Yazeed ibn Abi Sufyan (radhiyallahu anhu).
2- There were among the Muslims those who were better than him, who were more senior and who had made more sacrifices, but he was the most qualified to protect this important Muslim border region (Syria). Since his appointment he had been able to rule it and control it, and he understood the psychology of its people, so they loved him.
3- The standard by which governors were to be measured was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) who fought in the way of Allah, and never feared the blame of the blamers (al- Maa’idah 5:54). If he had seen any misconduct, deviance or weakness in Mu’awiyah, he would have dismissed him and would not have kept him even for a single day. He worked for him throughout his caliphate; before that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had appointed him for some tasks, including appointing him as a scribe to write down the Revelation, and Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq had also appointed him, and no one had questioned his abilities.
4- If he were to give up his post, there should be a good reason for him having to do so. What evidence did those who promoted turmoil have that Mu’awiyah should give up his post?
5- It was not up to these agitators to decide whether he should be dismissed from his post or remain as governor. That was the right of the caliph ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), who had the right to appoint and dismiss governors.
6- If ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) decided to dismiss Mu’awiyah some day, he was confident that it would all work out well in the end, and he would take no offence at that, because he was a governor who was under the authority of the caliph of the Muslims. [Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, Sahabi Kabeer wa Malik Mujaahid, p. 114-117]
The end of this meeting was regrettable and sad, because he wanted to warn them against the wrath and punishment of Allah and against the temptation of the shaytaan and the slippery slope to which it would lead, and against division and disobeying the ruler, and against giving in to their whims and desires and being arrogant. And what was their response? They pounced on him and grabbed him by the head and beard, and at some point he rebuked them and said harsh words that carried an implied threat. He realized that these people would never follow the right path, so he had to tell the caliph ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) about them and the real danger that they posed, so that he could decide about them. [Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan by Ghadbaan, p. 117,118]
Mu’awiyah’s letter to ‘Uthman about the troublemakers in Kufa Mu’awiyah wrote to ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) saying: In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. To the slave of Allah ‘Uthman, the Ameer al-Mu’mineen, from Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, you sent to me some people who speak with the tongues of devils and say what these devils wants them to say. They come to the people and support their arguments with the Qur’an, as they claim, and they confuse the people. Not everyone realizes what they are up to. All they want is to create division and fitnah. They are fed up with Islam and the shaytaan has full control of their hearts. They have corrupted many people among whom they lived in Kufah, and I am worried that if they stay among the people of Syria they may mislead them with their influence and immorality. It is better to send them back to their own region and let them live in the place where their hypocrisy started.[”
Return of the troublemakers to by their expulsion to al-Jazeerah ‘Uthman wrote to Sa’eed ibn al-Aas and sent them back to him, but they only became more active in evil-doing when they returned. Sa’eed wrote to ‘Uthman complaining about them, and ‘Uthman wrote to Sa’eed telling him to send them to ‘Abd al- Rahmaan ibn Khaalid ibn al-Waleed – who was the governor of Homs. When they reached ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid ibn al- Waleed he summoned them and spoke sternly to them, saying to them, among other things: O tools of the shaytaan, you are not welcome here. The shaytaan went back defeated and lost, but you are still active in falsehood. May ‘Abd al-Rahmaan be doomed if he does not discipline and humiliate you. O people who I do not know whether you are Arabs or Persians, you will never be able to speak to me as you spoke to Sa’eed or Mu’swiyah. I am the son of Khaalid ibn al-Waleed, I am the son of one who was toughened by his experiences, I am the son of the one who defeated apostasy, and by Allah I shall humiliate you. ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid let them stay with him for a whole month, during which he treated them with the utmost strictness and harshness, and was not soft with them as Sa’eed and Mu’awiyah had been. If he walked, they walked with him; if he rode, they rode with him; if he went out on a military campaign, they went out with him. He did not miss any opportunity to humiliate them. Every time he met their leader, Sa’sa’ah ibn Sawhaan, he said to him: O son of sin, do you know that if a person cannot be disciplined by good means, he will be disciplined by bad means, and if he cannot be disciplined by a soft approach he will be disciplined by a hard approach? And he told them: Why are you not answering back as you used to answer back to Sa’eed in Kufah and Mu’awiyah in Syria? Why do you not address me as you used to address them?
The method of ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid worked with them. His harshness silenced them and they showed repentance and regret. They said to him: We repent to Allah and ask His forgiveness. Forgive us and pardon us, may Allah forgive you and pardon you. The people stayed in al-Jazeerah with ‘Abd ar- Rahmaan ibn Khaalid, and ‘Abd al-Rahmaan sent one of their leaders – al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i – to ‘Uthman, to tell him of their repentance and reform, and that they had ceased their troublemaking. ‘Uthman said to al-Ashtar: Go and live wherever you want, you and those who are with you, for I have forgiven you. Al-Ashtar said: We want to stay with ‘Abd ar- Rahmaan ibn Khaalid ibn al-Waleed, and he told him about the virtue and resolve of ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan. So they stayed with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan in al-Jazeerah for a while, appearing outwardly to have repented and to have mended their ways. [Tareekh at-Tabari 5/327]
The troublemakers in Kufah were quiet for a while. This lasted for a few months in 33 AH, after the leaders of turmoil had been banished to Mu’awiyah in Syria, then to ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid. The troublemakers in Kufah decided that it was in their best interests to keep quiet for a while. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p.134]
The troublemakers in Basra fabricate lies against Ashajj ‘Abd al-Qays
The troublemakers in Basra, under the leadership of Hakeem ibn Jablah, were against the people of virtue in the city. They conspired against them and told lies about them. One of the best and most pious of the people of Basra was Ashajj ‘Abd al-Qays, whose real name was ‘Aamir ibn ‘Abd al-Qays. He was a leader of his people who had come to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and learned from him, and the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had praised him when he said:
“You have two characteristics that Allah loves: forbearance and deliberation.” [Saheeh as-Seerah an-Nabawiyyah, p. 635, At-Tirmidhi (2011)]
‘Aamir ibn ‘Abd al-Qays was one of the leaders of jihad in al-Qaadisiyyah and elsewhere. He lived in Basra and he was a man of great righteousness and piety. The rebels told lies about him and made false accusations against him, so ‘Uthman told him to go to Mu’awiyah in Syria. When Mu’awiyah spoke to him, he realized that he was innocent and sincere, and that the rebels were fabricating lies against him. The architect of these lies against ‘Aamir ibn ‘Abd al-Qays was Hamraan ibn Abaan, who was a sinful man with no religious commitment. He had married a woman during her ‘iddah, and when ‘Uthman found out about that, he separated them and beat him as discipline for having sinned, and banished him to Basra, where he met the leader of the Saba’is in that city, the thief Hakeem ibn Jablah. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/333, 334]
Ibn Saba’ designated the year 34 AH for action
In 34 AH – the eleventh year of ‘Uthman’s caliphate – ‘Abd- Allah ibn Saba’ finalized his plans and made arrangements with his followers to begin the rebellion against the caliph and his governors. From his den of conspiracy in Egypt, Ibn Saba’ got in touch with his devilish followers in Basra, Kufah and Madinah, and agreed with them on the details of the rebellion, and they corresponded with one another concerning that. Among his correspondents were the Saba’is in Kufah. There were more than ten men, some of whom had been exiled to Syria, then to al- Jazeerah where they stayed with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid ibn al-Waleed. After the exile of these rebels, the hateful Saba’i leader in Kufah was Yazeed ibn Qays. [al-Khulafa’ aI-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 135]
In 34 AH, Kufah was devoid of prominent figures because they were all out on campaign, fighting in jihad for the sake of Allah, and there was no one left in the city but the hooligans and thugs who were influenced by the deviant Saba’is, who filled their minds with their evil ideas and incited them against ‘Uthman’s governor in Kufah, Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas. [Ibid]
The situation in Kufah when the troublemakers made their move
al-Tabari said of the situation in Kufah in 34 AH. Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas went to ‘Uthman in the eleventh year of ‘Uthman’s rule, and before he left, he sent al-Ash’ath ibn Qays to Azerbaijan, Sa’eed ibn Qays to al-Rayy, al-Nusayr al-‘Ajali to Hamadhaan, al- Saa’ib ibn al-Aqra’ to Asbahaan, Maalik ibn Habeeb to Maah, Hakeem ibn Salaamah to Mosul, Jareer ibn ‘Abd-Allah to Qarqeesa, Salmaan ibn Rabee’ah to al-Baab, and ‘Utaybah ibn al-Nahhaas to Hadwaan. He appointed al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr al- Tameemi as commander-in-chief, and he appointed ‘Amr ibn Hurayth as his deputy after he left. Thus Kufah became empty of prominent figures and no one was left there except those who were insignificant or who were among the troublemakers. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/337]
It was in this atmosphere that the Saba’i leader in Kufah, Yazeed ibn Qays, emerged with the agreement of the devilish Ibn Saba’ in Egypt, accompanied by the troublemakers who had joined the secret society of Ibn Saba’, and the thugs who were influenced by this group. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 136]
al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr al-Tameemi put an end to the first action Yazeed ibn Qays emerged in Kufah, aiming to depose ‘Uthman. He entered the mosque and sat there, and the Saba’is to whom Ibn as-Saba’ had written from Egypt joined him in the mosque. When the rebels gathered in the mosque, al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr, the commander-in-chief, came to know of them, so he arrested them along with their leader Yazeed ibn Qays. When Yazeed saw how tough and alert al-Qa’qaa’ was, he did not disclose their plan of rebelling against the caliph ‘Uthman and deposing him. He pretended that all he and his group wanted to do was to bring about the dismissal of the governor Sa’eed ibn al- ‘Aas and ask for another governor in his place. So al-Qa’qaa’ let the group go when he heard the words of Yazeed, then he said to Yazeed: Do not gather for this purpose in the mosque, and do not meet with anyone; stay in your house. Seek what you want from the caliph and you will achieve what you want. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/337]
Yazeed ibn Qays wrote to the troublemakers who were with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid Yazeed ibn Qays stayed in his house, and he was forced to change his plans for rebellion and turmoil. This Saba’i – Yazeed ibn Qays – hired a man, giving him money and a mule, and told him to quickly and in secret go to the Saba’is from Kufah whom ‘Uthman had exiled to Syria, then to al-Jazeerah, who were staying with ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Khaalid ibn al-Waleed, and who had made a show of having repented and regretted their actions. Yazeed said in his letter to his devilish brethren: When this letter of mine reaches you, do not let it fall from your hands before you come to me, for we have corresponded with our brothers in Egypt – the Saba’is in that land – and we have agreed to launch the rebellion. When al-Ashtar read the letter of Yazeed, he immediately left for Kufah, joined by other rebels. ‘Abd ar- Rahmaan ibn Khaalid noticed that they were missing and he could not find them, then he sent a group to look for them, and they could not find them either. Yazeed ibn Qays got in touch with his group once again, and his group contacted the hooligans and thugs in Kufah, and they gathered in the mosque. al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i entered upon them in the mosque, and started stirring them up and motivating them to rebel. Among other things, he said to them: I have come to you from the caliph ‘Uthman, and left your governor Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas with him. ‘Uthman and Sa’eed have agreed to reduce your stipends from two hundred dirhams to one hundred. Al-Ashtar was telling lies, because ‘Uthman and Sa’eed had not discuss that, but the plan of the Saba’is was to spread lies and provoke the masses. Al-Ashtar stirred up the people in the mosque, and the hooligans and thugs became excited, and there was a great deal of noise in the mosque. The wise Muslims, those who were prominent people and righteous, began speaking to him, such as Abu Moosa al- Ash’ari, ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood and al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr, but he did not listen to them or respond to them. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/338]
Yazeed ibn Qays shouted to the hooligans and thugs inside and outside the mosque: I am going to go out to the road to Madinah, to prevent Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas from entering Kufah. Whoever wants to go out with me to prevent Sa’eed from entering and to demand a new governor, let him do so. The Saba’is and thugs responded to his call, and nearly one thousand of them went out with him. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/338]
al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr thought that the leaders of the troublemakers should be executed
When the Saba’is and thugs went out, seeking to rebel and stir up turmoil and trouble, the prominent Muslims and people of deliberation and wisdom stayed in the mosque. The governor’s deputy, ‘Amr ibn Hurayth, ascended the minbar and asked the Muslims to remain united and told them not to be divided, and he called on them not to respond to the rebels. [Al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 139]
Al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr said: Can you stop the flood or divert the Euphrates from its course? No way. No, by Allah, nothing will stop these thugs but the sword, and soon all the blessings that they are enjoying will vanish, and they will wish to have them back but they will never be able to. So be patient. He said: I will be patient. Then he left and went back to his house. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/338]
The troublemakers prevented Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas from entering Kufah
Yazeed ibn Qays and al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i led thousands of rebels to a place on the road to Madinah that was called al-Jara’ah. Whilst they were camping in al-Jara’ah, Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas saw them as he was returning from his meeting with ‘Uthman. They said to him: Go back from whence you came, for we have no need of you and we will not let you enter Kufah. Tell ‘Uthman that we do not want a governor, and we want ‘Uthman to give us Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari as a governor instead of you. Sa’eed said to them: Why have a thousand of you come to tell me this, when it would have been sufficient for you to send one man to the caliph, and send one man to stand on the road to tell me this. Do you think that one thousand men with any sense would come out to confront one man? [ibid]
Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas thought it wise not to confront them or fan the flames of turmoil (fitnah), rather he tried to extinguish it or at least delay it. This was also the view of Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari, ‘Amr ibn Hurayth and al-Qa’qaa’ ibn ‘Amr in Kufah. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 104]
Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas went back to ‘Uthman and told him about the rebels, and ‘Uthman said to him: What do they want? Are they refusing to obey? Have they rebelled against the caliph and declared their refusal to obey him? Sa’eed said to him: No. What they said is that they do not want me as their governor, and they want someone else instead of me. ‘Uthman said to him: Who do they want as a governor? Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas said: They want Abu Moosa al- Ash’ari. ‘Uthman said: Then we will appoint Abu Moosa as their governor. By Allah, we will never give anyone any excuse, and we shall certainly be patient with them as is expected of us, until we find out what they really want. And ‘Uthman wrote to Abu Moosa appointing him as governor of Kufah. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/339]
Before the letter appointing Abu Moosa as governor arrived, there were some of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the mosque of Kufah who tried to calm things down, but they were not able to do that, because the Saba’is and haters had gained control over the hooligans and thugs and stirred them up, and they would no longer listen to any voice of reason or logic. At the time of the rebellion and turmoil there were two of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the mosque of Kufah, Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan and Abu Mas’ood ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir al-Ansari al-Badri. Abu Mas’ood was very angry about this rebellion of the hooligans and their going out to al-Jara’ah, dismissing the governor Sa’eed and disobeying him, which was the first time this had happened. Hudhayfah, on the other hand, was more far-sighted and he dealt with the incident objectively and wisely. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p. 141]
Abu Mas’ood said to Hudhayfah: They will not come back safe from al-Jara’ah; the caliph will send an army to discipline them and many of them will be killed. Hudhayfah replied: By Allah, they will come back to Kufah and there will be no fighting and no bloodshed. There is nothing I am learning about this but I already learned it from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) when he was still alive, because he told us about these turmoils that we are seeing today before he died. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) told us that a man would be a Muslim in the morning then when evening came he would have nothing of Islam left in him, then he would fight the Muslims and apostatize, and his heart would be turned upside down, and Allah would cause him to die the next day, and that will happen later on. [Tareekh al-Tabari, 5/332]
Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan specialized in knowledge of turmoil (al-fitan) and he dealt with the turmoil of the Saba’is in Kufah and elsewhere on the basis of what he had heard and learned from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), bearing in mind what he had memorized of those ahaadeeth. He understood the reality of what was going on around him and did not find it odd at all, but he tried to sort it out as much as he could. [Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan by Ibraaheem al-‘Ali, p. 86]
Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari tried to calm things down and tell the people not to rebel
Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (radhiyallahu anhu) tried to calm things down and told the people not to be disobedient. He said to them: O people, do not rebel any more and do not disobey any more. Adhere to your community (jamaa’ah) and be obedient. Beware of haste; be patient and soon you will have a new govemor. They said: Lead us in prayer. He said: No, not unless you confirm your obedience to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. They said: We pledge to Listen to and obey ‘Uthman. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/339]
But they did not say that with any sincerity, rather they were concealing their true aims from others. Abu Moosa led the people in prayer until the letter of ‘Uthman came, appointing him as govemor of Kufah. When things calmed down in Kufah for a while – in 34 AH – Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan went back to Azerbaijan, leading the armies of jihad there, and the agents and governors went back to their work in Persia. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 142]
‘Uthman’s letter to the rebels in Kufah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan wrote a letter to the rebels in Kufah in which he explained the reason why he had responded to their demands to dismiss Sa’eed and appoint Abu Moosa in his place. This is a letter of great significance which explains the way in which ‘Uthmam confronted the turmoil and how he tried to delay its outbreak as much as he could, even though he was certain that it was inevitable and he would not be able to stop it. This is what he had learned from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). ‘Uthman said to them in his letter: I have appointed over you the one whom you have chosen, and I have dismissed Sa’eed. By Allah, I shall do my utmost and I shall be very patient with you, and I shall do what is in your best interests as much as I can. Ask me for everything that you want, so long as it does not involve any disobedience towards Allah, and I will grant you it. Tell me about all that you dislike so long as it does not involve any disobedience towards Allah, and I will let you off. I shall go along with what you want so that you will have no excuse to go against me. He also wrote similar letters to other provinces. [Tareekh at-Tabari 5/343]
May Allah be pleased with the caliph ‘Uthman; how good he was and how open-hearted, and how greatly was he wronged by the Saba’is, rebels and haters who told lies against him. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 143]
Uthman’s policy in dealing with the Turmoil (Fitnah)
From the historical texts in a number of sources it is clear that ‘Uthman confronted the turmoil in a number of ways, as follows: Some of the Sahabah thought that ‘Uthman should send committees to investigate the matter.
Muhammad ibn Maslamah, Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd-Allah and others were shocked by what they heard of the rumours spread by ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ in the regions. They entered upon the caliph ‘Uthman in haste and said: O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, have you heard what we have heard from the people? He said: No, by Allah, I have only heard good things. They said: We have heard such and such, and they told him what they had heard about turmoil spreading throughout the Muslim provinces, and about the vicious attacks on the governors in every place. He said: You are my partners and witnesses for the believers; advise me. They said: We advise you to send men whom you trust to the provinces so that they may find out what is going on. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/348]
‘Uthman took a wise decision and did what had to be done. He chose a group of the Sahabah whose piety and sincerity no one could dispute. He chose Muhammad ibn Maslamah whom ‘Umar used to entrust with checking on his governors and the provinces they were ruling; Usaamah ibn Zayd, the beloved of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the son of his beloved, the commander of the army which the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had insisted should cany on its mission at the end of his life, saying, Let the mission of Usaamah go ahead; ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir, the great mujaahid who had come to Islam early on; and ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar, the pious faqeeh. He sent Muhammad ibn Maslamah to Kufah, Usaamah to Basra, ‘Ammaar to Egypt and Ibn ‘Umar to Syria, and each of them took a group of people with him. He sent them to those major provinces, and each of them went about their difficult, exhausting and dangerous work. Then they all came back, except ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir, who stayed longer in Egypt, then he returned. They presented their findings to the caliph, telling him what they had seen and heard and asked the people about. [‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, al-Khaleefah al-Shaakir al-Saabir, p. 120]
What they reported was the same for all provinces. They said: O people, we have not seen anything reprehensible and the Muslims did not complain about anything. All that we found is that the governors have been fair to them and are taking care of them. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/348]
As for that which was narrated about ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir inciting the people against ‘Uthman, the isnaads of these reports are da’eef (weak) and are not free of faults, and their texts are also weird. [Fitnah Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/117]
The inspectors came back from the provinces, and it became clear that there was no reason for the caliph to dismiss any governor; the people were fine, being treated justly and living in an atmosphere of goodness, compassion and tranquillity. The caliph himself was being just, sharing out wealth fairly and paying heed to the dues of Allah and the dues of the people. The rumours were no more than speculation and lies that were fabricated by those who bore grudges in dark corners so that no one would know their source. But the great, righteous, rightly-guided caliph did not stop there; rather he wrote to the people of the provinces. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 1/349]
He wrote a letter to all the provinces that was a general announcement to all Muslims
I check on my governors and workers every time I meet them during Hajj. Since I was appointed caliph, the ummah has been encouraged to enjoin that which is good and forbid that which is evil. No complaint is made about me or any of my workers but I will deal with it, and my family and I have no rights before any of the people but I will give them up to them. The people of Madinah complained to me that there were some people who were insulted and others who were beaten. O you who were beaten in secret and insulted in secret, whoever has any claim of that nature, let him come to Hajj and take his rights wherever they are, from me or from my workers, or else give charity (i.e., forgive) and Allah will reward those who give charity.
When this letter was read out in the provinces, the people wept and prayed for ‘Uthman, and said: This ummah is headed for trouble. [Ibid]
Does anyone in the whole world want to hear someone with more resolve and determination than this resolve and determination of a man who had passed the age of eighty-two, yet he still had the energy and strength to follow up and check on allegations of mistreatment? Could the people find any justice more sublime than his fairness and justice, in which the caliph gave up his own personal rights so long as the rights of Allah were preserved and His sacred limits were not transgressed? Indeed, ‘Uthman did not stop there. He did not only send trustworthy people to check on the people’s situation and write to the people of the provinces telling them to come to Hajj to present their complaints – if they had any – before all the pilgrims. That was not enough; rather he sent word to the governors of the provinces themselves, telling them to meet the people when they brought their complaints – if there were any – then let them ask the caliph about what the people were talking about, and offer him sound and sincere advice. [‘Utkman ibn ‘Affaan, al-Khaleefah al-Skaakir al-Saabir, p. 212]
‘Uthman’s advise to the governors of the provinces
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) sent for the governors of the provinces, summoning them to come at once: ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aamir, Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Sa’d, and he included with them in the consultation Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas – who were both former governors. It was a closed, serious meeting in which the following issues were discussed and in which a new plan was developed in light of the news that had reached Madinah, the capital of the Islamic state. [Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, p. 126]
‘Uthman said: Woe to you, what are these complaints? What are these rumours? By Allah, I am afraid that they may be true about you and it is my responsibility to deal with it. They said to him: Didn’t you send people to find out? Didn’t they come back with news of what is really going on? Didn’t they come back and say that no one had complained to them about anything? By Allah, the rumours are not true and they are suspicious. We do not know of any basis for what is happening and you cannot hold anyone responsible on this basis. It is no more than rumours that it is not permissible to believe or accept. He said: Advise me. Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas said: This is a plot that is being drawn up in secret; rumours are being fabricated and transmitted to the people with no knowledge, then they take them and talk about them in their gatherings. He said: What is the remedy for that? He said: Look for these people and kill those who are behind these fabrications.
‘Abd-Allah ibn Sa’d said: Take from the people what they owe when you give them what is due to them, for that is better than leaving them like that. Mu’awiyah said: You appointed me as a governor over people and you have not heard anything but good from them, and these two men know best about their provinces. He said: What do you think, O ‘Amr? He said: I think that you have been too gentle with them and too kind, you have been more generous with them than ‘Umar was. I think that you should follow the way of your companion (‘Umar) and be strict when strictness is appropriate and be gentle when gentleness is appropriate. Strictness should be employed with one who wants to do harm to people and gentleness should be employed with one who is sincere towards people, but you have been persistently gentle. ‘Uthman stood up and praised Allah, then he said: I understand all the advice that you have given me. There is a time for everything. What we fear may befall the ummah is inevitable and the barrier that is keeping it from happening must be reinforced by kind and gentle means, except when it has to do with the sacred limits of Allah, in which there is no room for compromise. If anything can close this door to turmoil, it is kindness, but by Allah it will inevitably open. No one has any reason to blame me when Allah knows that I have done my best for the people, but the wheels of turmoil will turn. Glad tidings for ‘Uthman if he dies without having set them in motion. Calm the people down and give them their dues and pardon them, but if the sacred limits of Allah are transgressed do not compromise. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/351]
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) disagreed with his brother ‘Amr’s view that strictness should be employed, but he did not disagree with the idea of following his two predecessors. The wheels of turmoil were already turning but it could not be dealt with by means of violence, because violence is what usually fuels it. He did not want to be the one to start it (“Glad tidings for ‘Uthman if he dies without having set them in motion.”) But he was very clear that the area in which there could be no compromise was the sacred limits of Allah. There could be no compromise in that case, but in other areas kindness and forgiveness were better, and it was essential to respect the rights of all. [‘Amr ibn al ‘Aas – al-Ameer al-Mujaahid, by al-Ghadbaan, p. 447]
There are reports with some weakness and unknown narrators in their isnaads which misrepresent the relationship between ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas and ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhum). These worthless reports contributed to the distortion of the image of ‘Amr ibn al- ‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) and change his relationship with ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) into that of a murderer who planned to kill his leader and then, in a spirit of opportunism, demand qisaas. [op. cit., p. 448]
This report is weak and was rejected by the historians and scholars of hadeeth. [Ibid]
There is another report whose isnaad also contains weak and unknown narrators which says that ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: O ‘Uthman, you have controlled the people by appointing Banu Umayyah. You said and they said; you drifted away and they drifted away. Sort yourself out or else resign; decide what you want to do and go ahead with it. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/340]
In the same report it says that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aamir said: I think that you should send them away from their wives on these campaigns so that the only concern of any of them will be dealing with the lice on his head and taking care of his mount, and that will distract them from causing you trouble. [ibid]
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) prevented the governors from punishing these troublemakers by imprisoning or executing them, and he decided to treat them with kindness and gentleness. [Khilaafat ‘Uthman, by Dr. al-Sulami, p. 77]
He asked his governors to return to their work in accordance with the way that he announced of dealing with the turmoil which everyone with insight realized was inevitable. [al-Khulafa’ al-Rashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 151]
Two suggestions from Mu’awiyah that were rejected by ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) Before Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan headed back to Syria, he went to ‘Uthman and said to him: O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, come with me to Syria before the situation gets worse and you will not be able to handle it. ‘Uthman said: I will not trade being close to the Messenger of Allah for anything, even if it leads to the cutting of my neck. Mu’awiyah said to him: Then I will send an army to you from Syria, to stay in Madinah and confront the expected dangers and protect you and the people. ‘Uthman said: I do not want to reduce the provision of the neighbours of the Messenger of Allah with these soldiers coming to live amongst them, and I do not want conditions to become crowded for the Muhajireen and Ansar. Mu’awiyah said to him: O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, you wilI be assassinated or an army will come and invade Madinah. ‘Uthman said: Allah is sufficient for me and He is the best disposer of affairs. It is as if ‘Uthman knew that behind all the turmoil and rumours there were evil people who were planning to achieve a terrible goal, which was no less than toppling the caliph and undermining the caliphate. But the rightly-guided caliph ‘Uthman had a different opinion, because he wanted to go along with these people all the way, so that he could leave them with no excuse before Allah or before the people, thus exposing them in this world and in the Hereafter. This was a patient way of dealing with the situation on the part of the great and just ruler. [Uthman ibn ‘Affaan – al-Khaleefah al-Shaakir al-Saabir, p. 214]
‘Uthman’s spies penetrate the ranks of the conspirators after they come to Madinah
The caliph ‘Uthman had sufficient alertness to ensure that his spies penetrated the ranks of conspirators, by sending two men who had been disciplined and punished so that the conspirators would feel at ease with them. ‘Uthman sent two men, a Makhzoomi and a Zuhri, and said: Go and find out what they are up to, and bring me news of them. The punishment they received from ‘Uthman was aimed at disciplining them, so they had borne it with patience and did not bear any grudges. When the conspirators saw them they told them what their aims were. They said: Who is with you in this aim among the people of Madinah? They said: Three men. They said: Is that all? They said: No. They said: What do you want to do? They explained to the two men the full extent of the conspiracy and the plans that had been drawn up. They said: We want to confront him with the things that we have told the people about, then we will go back to the people and tell them that he admitted it, but he did not want to give it up or repent. Then we will come back again as if we are going for Hajj, but we will come to Madinah and besiege him and depose him; if he resists we will kill him and let it be. The two men went back to ‘Uthman and he smiled and said: O Allah, guide these people for if You do not guide them, they will be doomed. He sent word to the people of Kufah and Basra and the call went out: As-salaatu jaami’ah (prayer is about to begin), and they were with him at the base of the minbar. The companions of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) came and surrounded them, and he praised and glorified Allah and told them what these people were up to, and that they were seeking to promote the lies about him in order to pave the way for rebellion and then depose or kill him. The two men who had spoken to the Saba’is stood up and bore witness to what they had told them. The Muslims inside the mosque all said: Kill them, O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, for they want to rebel against the caliph and divide the Muslims. But ‘Uthman refused the call of the Sahabah to kill them, because they were outwardly Muslims who were under his care, and he did not want it to be said that ‘Uthman killed the Muslims who disagreed with him. Hence ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan rejected that call saying: We will not kill them, rather we will forgive them and pardon them, and we will try to show them the right way as much as we can. We will not kill any of the Muslims unless he commits an offence which is subject to the hadd punishment of execution or he shows himself to be an apostate or kafir. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/345, 355]
Establishing proof against the rebels
Then ‘Uthman called on the Saba’is to explain what they were confused about and to make a list of the mistakes and transgressions that they thought ‘Uthman had committed, in a meeting in the mosque in which things were to be discussed frankly in front of the Sahabah and the Muslims. So the Saba’is spoke and explained the mistakes that ‘Uthman had made – according to their allegations – and ‘Uthman explained, eloquently and clearly, his position and the basis for his actions. The Muslims who were fair-minded listened to this frank discussion and transparent accounting. ‘Uthman mentioned the alleged grievances, explained how things really were, and defended his good conduct, and asked the Sahabah who were sitting in the mosque to testify to that. [al-Khulafa al-Raashideen, p. 154, 155]
1- He said: They say that I offer the prayer in full when I travel, and that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), Abu Bakr and ‘Umar did not do that before me. But I offered the prayer in full when I travelled from Madinah to Makkah, and Makkah is a town in which I have a family, so I am staying with my family and I am not a traveller, is that not so? The Sahabah said: By Allah, yes.
2- They said that I have allocated grazing land for myself, and caused hardship for the Muslims, and set aside a vast area of land for my camels. Before my time, grazing land was allocated for the camels that were given in zakaah and used in jihad, and the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), Abu Bakr and ‘Umar all allocated land for grazing. I had to add to it because the number of camels given in zakaah and used in jihad increased. Moreover, I did not prevent the livestock of the poor Muslims from grazing on that land. I never allocated it for my own livestock. When I was appointed caliph, I was one of the richest of the Muslims in camels and sheep, but I have spent it all and I have no livestock at all now except two camels which I keep for Hajj. Is that not so? The Sahabah said: By Allah, yes.
3- They say that I kept only one copy of the Mush-haf and burned all the rest, and I united the people in reading one Mush-haf: But the Qur’an is indeed the word of Allah, which came from Allah, and it is all one, and all I did was to unite the Muslims behind the Qur’an, and forbid them to differ concerning it. By doing that I followed in the footsteps of Abu Bakr, who compiled the Qur’an. Is that not so? The Sahabah said; By Allah, yes.
4- They said that I allowed al-Hakam ibn al-‘Aas to return to Madinah when the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had banished him to al-Taa’if. Al-Hakam ibn al-‘Aas is a Makkan, not a Madeenan, and the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) exiled him from Makkah to al-Taa’if, and the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) let him return to Makkah after he was pleased with him. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) sent him to al-Taa’if and he is the one who let him come back to Makkah. Is that not so? The Sahabah said: By Allah, yes.
5- They said that I employed young people and appointed youngsters as governors, but I have never appointed anyone but a man who was just and kind and of good character. These are the people over whom they were appointed – go and ask them about them. Those who came before me appointed some who were even younger than these. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) appointed Usaamah ibn Zayd when he was younger than those whom I appointed, and they spoke more harshly to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) than they spoke to me. Is that not so? The Sahibah said: By Allah, yes, these people criticize others but they do not understand what is happening.
6- They said that I gave to ‘Abd-Allah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi’l- Sarh what Allah had granted of booty, but I only gave him one-fifth of the Khums – which was one hundred thousand -when he conquered North Africa, as a reward for his efforts. I said to him: If Allah enables you to conquer North Africa, you will have one-fifth of the Khums as a reward. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) did that before me, yet despite that the mujahideen troops said to me: We object to you giving one-fifth of the khums, although they had no right to object. But I took the one-fifth of the Khums from Ibn Sa’d and gave it to the hoops, so in fact Ibn Sa’d did not take anything. Is that not so? The Sahabah said: By Allah, yes.
7- They said that I love my family and am generous to them. As for my love for my family, that did not make me biased towards them or make me support them in cases of injustice or mistreatment of others. Rather they have duties like everyone else and I take their dues from them. As for giving to them, I gave to them from my own wealth, not from the wealth of the Muslims, because I do not regard the wealth of the Muslims as permissible for me, and no one has the right (to take the wealth of the Muslims). I used to give generously from my own wealth at the time of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both). At that time I was very careful in spending. But now I am the oldest of my family and am approaching the end of my life, and I have given my wealth to my family and relatives. Let the evildoers say what they say. By Allah, I did not take any wealth or surplus from any Muslim province. I let those provinces keep their wealth and I did not bring anything to Madinah except the khums (one-fifth) of the war booty. The Muslims took care of dividing the other four-fifths and gave it to those who were entitled to it. By Allah, I did not take even a penny or anything else from that booty. I only eat from my own wealth and I only give to my family from my own wealth.
8- They said that I gave the conquered land to certain men, and that the Muhajireen and Ansar, and other mujaahideen, took part in conquering these lands. When I divided these lands among the conquerors, some of them settled there, and some came back to their families in Madinah or elsewhere, but that land remained in their possession, and some sold the land and kept its price with them.
Thus ‘Uthman answered the main objections that had been raised against him; he clarified his position and highlighted the true facts. [al-‘Awasim min al-Qawaasim, p. 61-11]
From this strong defence presented by ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (radhiyallahu anhu), which he discussed with the Sahabah, we get an idea of the harsh criticism that was directed against him and the foul rumours and fabricated falsehoods that the Saba’is spread about him. ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) summed up the objections that they had against him and highlighted the facts about his actions. He explained that he knew what he was doing and that he had a clear, shar’i basis for all his actions. But they had ulterior motives and were not interested in seeking guidance or setting things straight. His approach in this debate was that of a sincere man to one who is watching him and looking for his faults, aiming to achieve his goals of stirring up people against him. Such a one cannot be convinced by any proof or guided by any evidence, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. [Tareekh al-Jadal by Muhammad Abu Zahrah, p. 98, 99]
The leaders of the troublemakers who were beside the minbar heard his explanations, as did the noble Sahabah and the Muslims and righteous men who were with them. The Muslims were moved by ‘Uthman’s words and believed what he said, and it increased their love for him. As for the Saba’is who were promoting turmoil and division, they were not moved at all, and they did not retract their views, because they were not looking for truth or seeking the good, rather their aim was to create trouble and plot against Islam and the Muslims. The Sahabah and Muslims suggested to ‘Uthman that he execute those Saba’is and leading troublemakers because of their lies, fabrications and hatred that had become apparent; rather they insisted that he should kill them and rid the Muslims of their evil and bring stability by putting an end to the turmoil that had been stirred up by them and their followers. But ‘Uthman had a different opinion; he preferred to leave them alone and he thought that they should not be killed, in an attempt to delay the onset of turmoil. So ‘Uthman did not take any steps against the Saba’is who had come from Egypt, Kufah and Basra, even though he knew what they were plotting and he let them leave Madinah and go back to their own lands. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashidoon by al-Khaalidi, p. 158, 159]
Responding to some of their requests ‘Uthman responded to some of their requests by dismissing some governors and appointing those they asked for. These steps could have been sufficient to deal with the situation and ensure truth and justice, if the situation had been normal. But the fact of the matter is that there were hidden aims and jaahili hatred behind these complaints and provocations, and there was an effort to provoke turmoil and disunity among the Muslims, and the fulfilling of what the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had foretold about the martyrdom of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). [Khilafat ‘Uthman by al-Sulami, p. 78]
‘Uthman’s Guidelines for dealing with the turmoil
Anyone who studies the way in which ‘Uthman dealt with the turmoil that occurred during his reign may discern some of the guidelines that will help the Muslim to confront turmoil. These guidelines include the following:
‘Uthman sent inspection committees to the regions to listen to the people and he managed to penetrate the Saba’i group and find out what they were really up to, and he did not hasten to pass judgement.
Adhering to justice and fairness This guideline was manifested in the letter that he sent to the regions, in which he asked anyone who claimed to have been insulted or beaten by the governors to come to Hajj and settle his score with the caliph or any of the governors. [Tareekh al-Tabari 5/349]
Forbearance and deliberation. This guideline is manifested in his letter to the people of Kufah, when they asked him to dismiss Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas and appoint Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari. In this letter it says: “By Allah, I shall do my utmost and I shall be very patient with you, and I shall do what is in your best interests as much as I can. Ask me for everything that you want, so long as it does not involve any disobedience towards Allah, and I will grant you it. Tell me about all that you dislike so long as it does not involve any disobedience towards Allah, and I will let you off.” [Ibid]
Keenness for that which unites people and shunning that which causes division among the Muslims
Hence ‘Uthman united the people on one Mushaf. When al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i gave him three options – which we will discuss in detail below, in sha Allih – ‘Uthman said: If you kill me, I have not done anything that deserves killing. By Allah, if you kill me you will never love one another after I am gone, and you will never pray together after I am gone, and you will never fight the enemy together after I am gone. [al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah, 7/184]
Keeping quiet and not speaking too much
From the biography of ‘Uthman it is clear that he was someone who did not speak too much unless it included beneficial knowledge, advice, or refutation of false accusations. He was very quiet and spoke little.
Consulting knowledgeable people
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) consulted the scholars among the Sahabah, such as ‘Ali, Talhah, az-Zubayr, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, Ibn ‘Aamir and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Salaam (radhiyallahu anhum). The scholars are the key to security and a refuge at times of calamity and tribulation, because they have the most insight into turmoil and know where it is heading. The one who turn to them will find sound understanding, the correct view and the proper Islamic attitude. [Ahdaath wa Ahaadeeth Fitnat al-Harj, p. 728]
Seeking guidance from the ahaadeeth of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) concerning turmoil
‘Uthman’s method during the turmoil and in dealing with the rebels was not dictated by the unfolding of events or the pressures of reality, rather it was based on the guidance of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), as the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhu wasallam) had instructed him to be patient and seek reward, and not to fight back, until Allah decreed what He willed. ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) fulfilled his promise to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) throughout his caliphate, until he fell as a martyr stained with his own pure blood. [Istishhaad ‘Uthman ma Waq’at al-Jamal, p. 116]
Muhibb al-Deen al-Khateeb said: What is indicated by a number of reports about ‘Uthman’s attitude about defending himself or surrendering to the decree of Allah is that he hated turmoil and feared Allah with regard to shedding Muslim blood, but in the end he wished that he had enough power to scare the transgressors so that they would be deterred from their deeds with no need to use weapons in order to reach this outcome. Before matters got out of hand, Mu’awiyah offered to send troops from Syria to him, to be under his command, but he refused lest that cause hardship to the people of Madinah due to the soldiers being stationed among them. He did not think that audacity would reach such a level that his Muslim brothers would shed the blood of the first Muhaajir who had migrated for the sake of Allah and His religion. Even when the evildoers besieged him and surrounded him, he realized that defending himself would lead to futile bloodshed, so he urged everyone who was supposed to hear and obey to refrain from fighting or engaging in any violence. The reports about his attitude are abundant in the sources of both those who loved him and of those who hated him. But if there had been an organized force available that had the power to withstand this rebellion and put limits on this arrogance and tribalism, then ‘Uthman would have been content and at ease with that, and he would have still been reassured that he would not die but as a martyr. [al-‘Awaasim min al-Qawaasim, p. 138]
The rebels’ occupation of Madinah
Arrival of the rebels from the regions
The rebels agreed among themselves to carry out the final stage of their plot to attack ‘Uthman in Madinah and force him to give up the caliphate or be killed. They decided to come from their three centres: Egypt, Kufah and Basra, at the time of Hajj, leaving their lands with the pilgrims; they would present themselves as pilgrims and tell others that they were going for Hajj. When they reached Madinah, they let the pilgrims go on to Makkah to perform the Hajj rituals, and they took advantage of the fact that most of the people of Madinah had also left for Hajj, and the besieged ‘Uthman with the aim of deposing him or killing him. In Shawwaal of 35 AH, the rebels were on the outskirts of Madinah. [al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 159]
The rebels from Egypt came in four groups, each of which had a leader, and these four leaders in turn had a leader. They had with them their devil ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ and the leaders of the four groups, whose names were: ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn ‘udays al-Balawi, Kinaanah ibn Basheer al-Tujaybi, Sawdaan ibn Hamraan al-Sukooni and Qateerah ibn Fulaan as-Sukooni. Their commander-in-chief was al-Ghaafiqi ibn Harb al-‘Aqqi. The four groups totalled one thousand men in all.
The rebels from Kufah also numbered one thousand men in four groups. The leaders of their groups were: Zayd ibn Sawhaan al-‘Abdi, al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i, Ziyaad ibn al-Nadar al-Haarithi and ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Asamm. The leader of the Kufan rebels was ‘Amr ibn al-Asamm.
The rebels from Basra also numbered one thousand men in four groups. The leaders of their groups were: Hakeem ibn Jabalah al-‘Abdi, Dhuray’ ibn ‘Abbaad, Bishr ibn Shurayh al- Qaysi and Ibn al-Muharrish ibn ‘Abd al-Hanqi. The leader of the Basran rebels was Harqoos ibn Zuhayr al-Sa’di.
‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ travelled with these people, feeling happy and proud at the success of his devilish plan. The rebels from Egypt wanted ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib as caliph, the rebels from Kufah wanted az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam as caliph, and the rebels from Basra wanted Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd-Allah as caliph. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/357]
The reason for that was to create division among the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). This is what al-Aajurri suggested when he said: Allah (may He be glorified and exalted) saved ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, Talhah and az-Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) from getting involved with these groups, who only claimed to support them in order to confuse the people and create trouble among the Sahabah, but Allah protected the Sahabah from that. [Istishhaad ‘Uthman wa Waq’at al-Jamal by Khaalid il-Ghayth, p. 148]
News of their approach reached ‘Uthman before they arrived, when he was in a village outside Madinah. When they heard that he was there, they went there and he received them there. The reports do not tell us the name of this village, but al-Madaa’ini put the date of their arrival as a Wednesday night at the beginning of Dhu’l-Qa’dah. [Fitnat al-Maqtal ‘Uthman by Dr. Muhammad al-Gadbaan, 1/127]
The first to arrive were the Egyptians, who said to ‘Uthman Call for the Mushaf. So he called for it and they said: Open the seventh soorah – which was what they called Soorat Yoonus. He read until he reached this verse:
“Say [O Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to these polytheists]: ‘Tell me, what provision Allah has sent down to you! And you have made of it lawful and unlawful.’ Say [O Muhammad (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): ‘Has Allah permitted you (to do so), or do you invent a lie against Allah?”‘ [Yoonus 10:59].
They said to him: Stop. What do you think about the land that you set aside for grazing? Has Allah permitted you (to do that), or do you invent a lie against Allah? He said: I will tell you. This verse was revealed concerning such and such. As for the grazing land, ‘Umar allocated it before me for the zakaah camels. When I became caliph, the number of zakaah camels increased so I added to the grazing land because of this increase in the numbers of zakaah camels. What else? They started quoting verse after verse, and he kept saying: It was revealed concerning such and such. Then they did not say any more, and they made a deal with him. They stipulated conditions for him and he stipulated the condition that they should not rebel or split from the main body of Muslims so long as he fulfilled their conditions. Then they went away content.”’ [Fitnat al-Maqtal ‘Uthman by Dr. Muhammad al-Gadbaan, 1/128]
• ‘Uthman sent ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib to negotiate with the rebels from the provinces
The people stayed in Dhu’l-Marwah for about a month and a half before his murder. ‘Uthman sent ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), and another man who is not named in the sources, to meet with them. ‘Ali met with them and said to them: If I quote to you from the Book of Allah, will you accept it and settle all the issues that you are complaining about on that basis? They agreed to that. According to one report they argued with him and he argued with them two or three times, then they said: He is the cousin of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the envoy of the caliph; he is asking you to accept the Book of Allah (as a reference point), so they agreed to deal with him. They agreed to five things: that the one who was banished could return home, the one who was deprived of a stipend would be given it, the fay’ would be shared out, he would be fair in dividing the spoils, and he would employ people of honesty and ability. They wrote that down in a document, and also stipulated that Ibn ‘Aamir would be reinstated as governor of Basra and Abu Moosa would remain as governor of Kufah. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/129]
Thus ‘Uthman made a deal with each group on its own, then each party set off for its own land. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/129]
Fabricated letter giving orders to kill the Egyptian delegation After this treaty had been drawn up and the people of the regions started heading for home feeling content with what they had achieved, it became clear to the instigators of turmoil that their plans had failed and their evil goals had not been reached. So they came up with a new plan to revive the turmoil and destroy all the deals that had been made between the people of the regions and ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). This plot took the following form: As the Egyptian delegation was travelling homeward, they saw someone riding a camel who repeatedly approached them then moved away, as if he was fleeing from them and saying, come and catch me. So they caught him and said to him: What is the matter with you? He said: I am the envoy of the caliph to his agent in Egypt. They examined him and found a letter that bore ‘Uthman’s seal but was a forgery, addressed to his governor. When they opened it, they found that it contained orders to crucify them or kill them, or cut off their hands and feet. They went back to Madinah [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/379], but ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) denied ever writing this letter. He said to them: There are two ways you can prove me guilty; either bring two Muslim men to testify or accept my oath by Allah, besides Whom there is no other god, that I did not write it or dictate it or have any knowledge of it. A letter may be attributed to a man and a seal may be put on it. But they did not believe him. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman (5/132)]
This letter which the hateful rebels claimed was from ‘Uthman, bearing his seal and carried by his slave on one of the zakaah camels to his governor in Egypt, Ibn Abi’l-Sarh, ordering him to kill these rebels, was a forged letter that was falsely attributed to ‘Uthman. That is clear for a number of reasons:
1- The carrier of the forged letter approached those Egyptians then ran away, and he did that repeatedly. He only did that to attract their attention and make them suspicious, as if he was saying: I have something important concerning you. If the letter carrier had really come from ‘Uthman he would have been scared of them and would have kept away from them, and he would have hastened to reach the governor of Egypt and hand over the instructions so that he could carry them out.
2- How did the Iraqis know about this matter when they had set out for their own country and were separated from the Egyptians – who intercepted this fabricated letter – by a huge distance? The Iraqis were in the east and the Egyptians were in the west, yet they all came back at the same time, as if they had an appointment. That could not have happened unless those who fabricated the letter and hired someone to carry it and play his role in al-Buwayb with the Egyptians had hired another rider to go and tell the Iraqis that the Egyptians had discovered a letter sent by ‘Uthman with instructions to kill the Egyptian rebels. This is what ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu) thought when he said: O people of Kufah and Basra, how did you know what had happened to the people of Egypt, when you had travelled a long distance, then you came back? In fact ‘Ali was certain about that and said: By Allah, this was a plan that was drawn up in Madinah. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/359]
3- How could ‘Uthman have written to Ibn Abi’l-Sarh telling him to kill these rebels, when after the rebels had left Egypt heading for Madinah, Ibn Abi’l-Sarh had written to the caliph asking for permission to come to him, when Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah seized control of Egypt? In fact, Ibn Abi’l-Sarh left Egypt and went to al-‘Areesh and Palestine, then to al-‘Aqabah, so how could ‘Uthman have written to him, telling him to kill them, when he had received a letter from him asking for permission to come to him?
4- ‘Uthman forbade killing the rebels when they besieged him and refused to let the Sahabah defend him, and he did not give any instruction to fight the rebels in self-defence, as we shall see in detail below in sha Allah, so how could he write something like this fabricated letter when they had left Madinah making a show of repentance?
5- The fact that Hukaym ibn Jablah and al-Ashtar al-Nakha’i stayed behind in Madinah after the rebels had left clearly indicates that they were the ones who fabricated the letter, because they had nothing to do in Madinah and they only stayed there for that purpose. They were the ones who had a stake in the matter. [‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan al-Khaleefah al-Shaakir al-Saabir, p. 277]
That may have been on the instructions of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’, because ‘Uthman had nothing to gain from that and neither did Marwaan ibn al- Hakam. Those who accuse Marwaan with regard to that are in fact accusing the caliph of being negligent in his duties and suggesting that in the caliph’s court there were people who were doing things without his knowledge, and thus they attempt to clear those traitors of any blame. Moreover, if Marwaan had forged the letter, he would have advised the camer to stay away from those rebels and not approach them on the road lest they capture him, otherwise he would be one of the conspirators against ‘Uthman, and that is not possible.
6- This cursed letter was not the first letter fabricated by these rebels, rather they also fabricated letters that were attributed to the Mothers of the Believers, and also ‘Ali, Talhah and az-Zubayr. ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anhum) was accused of having written to the people, telling them to rebel against ‘Uthman, but she denied it and said: No, by the One in Whom the believers believe, and in Whom the disbelievers disbelieve, I never wrote anything to them until I sat here where I am. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 1/334]
Al-A’mash commented: They thought that it had been falsely attributed to her. [Tareekh Kahleefah ibn al-Khayyaaf, p. 169]
The delegates accused ‘Ali of having written to them, telling them to come to Madinah, but he denied that and swore: By Allah, I did not write any letter to you. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 1/335]
Letters to people in other regions, telling them to come to Madinah because the religion of Muhammad had been corrupted and abandoned, and jihad in Madinah was better than staying in remote outposts, were also attributed to the Sahabah. [Ibid]
Ibn Katheer commented on this report by saying: This is a lie against the Sahabah, and the letters were fabrications against them. Fabricated letters that were attributed to ‘Ali, Talhah and az-Zubayr, which they denied, were sent to the rebels – the killers of ‘Uthman. This letter was also falsely attributed to ‘Uthman; he did not tell anyone to write it for him and he was not aware of it. [al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah, 7/175]
The words of Ibn Katheer are confirmed by the report of al-Tabari, as quoted by Khaleefah, which says that the senior Sahabah themselves – ‘Ali, ‘Aa’ishah and az-Zubayr – denied these letters, according to the most sound reports. The criminals who fabricated these letters and attributed them falsely to the Sahabah are the same ones who fanned the flames of turmoil from beginning to end and stirred up all that far-reaching corruption. They are the ones who fabricated and propagated all these lies against ‘Uthman and tried to spread them among the people, until the hooligans began to accept them. Then they forged that letter which they attributed to ‘Uthman, so that ‘Uthman would end up as a victim and thus become a blessed martyr. But the martyr ‘Uthman was not the only victim of this Saba’i conspiracy, rather Islam itself was a victim before that, and the many generations who learned that distorted history were also victims of this evil Jew and his helpers who were motivated by greed, whims and desires, and grudges. Is it not time for the Muslims to learn the truth about their history and its great men? Rather, is it not time for contemporary Muslim writers to fear Allah and not have the audacity to criticize the innocent before examining the reports and investigating thoroughly, so that they do not fall into the same trap as others? [Uthman bin ‘Affaan Khaleefah al-Shaakir al-Saabir, p. 228, 229]
The beginning of the siege, and ‘Uthman’s opinion on praying behind the leaders of the troublemakers
The sound reports do not describe in detail how the siege began, but perhaps the events that preceded it shed some light on how it began. Whilst ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was addressing the people one day, a man called A’yun [A’yun ibn Daba’iyah ibn Naajiyah ibn Ghaffaal d-Tameemi al-Hanzali al- Dharami] suddenly interrupted him, saying: O Na’thal [An insulting nickname given by the accursed rebels to ‘Uthman], you have changed. ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) said: Who is this? They said: A’yun. ‘Uthman said: Rather you have changed, O slave. The people leapt on A’yun and a man from Banu Layth started trying to push them away from him until he let him in his house. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/143]
Then the rebels came back again, and before the siege got worse, ‘Uthman was able to go out to pray, and admit whoever he wanted to his house. Then he was prevented from leaving the house, even for the obligatory prayers. [Tareekh Dimashq Tarjamat ‘Uthman, p. 341,342 – its isnad is hasan]
One of the leading rebels who were besieging ‘Uthman led the prayers, until ‘Ubayd-Allah ibn ‘Adiyy ibn al-Khayyaar felt uneasy about praying behind him, so he consulted ‘Uthman about that, and ‘Uthman told him to pray behind him. He said to him: Prayer is the best deed that the people do, so if the people are doing good, then join them, and if they do bad then stay away from them. [Al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Salaah, no. 192]
According to some weak reports, the one who was leading the people in prayer was their leader al-Ghaafiqi. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/145]
The report narrated by al-Waaqidi, which says that ‘Ali told Abu Ayyoob al-Ansari to lead the people in prayer, and he led them in prayer at the beginning of the siege, then ‘Ali led them in prayer on Eid and after that, is not sound. [Taarikh at-Tabari, 5/444 (al-Waaqidi himself is known to report fabricated narrations)]
In addition to the fact that the lsnaad of this report is weak, if ‘Ali or Abu Ayyoob had been the one who was leading the prayers, ‘Ubayd-Allah ibn ‘Adiyy ibn al- Khayyaar would not have felt uneasy about praying behind them. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/145]
Negotiations between ‘Uthman and the besiegers
After the siege was complete and the rebels had surrounded ‘Uthman in the house, they asked him to give up the caliphate, or they would kill him. [at-Tabaqaat by lbn Sa’d, 3/66]
But ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) refused to give it up, and said: I will never take off the garment that Allah has given me to wear [Tamheed, p. 46, 47] , referring to the advice that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had given him. However, a few of the Sahabah had a different opinion and some of them, including al-Mugheerah ibn al- Akhnas (radhiyallahu anhu), suggested to him that he should give up the caliphate to save his life, but he refused to do that. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/147].
1. Ibn ‘Umar urges ‘Uthman not to give up the position of caliph Ibn ‘Umar entered upon ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them both) during the siege and said to him: Look at what these people are saying. They are saying: Give it up and do not kill yourself. Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) said: If you give it up, are you going to live forever in this world? ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) said: No. He said: If you do not give it up, can they do any more than kill you? ‘Uthman said: No. He said: Are they the ones to decide whether you go to Paradise or to Hell? He said: No. He said: I do not think that you should take off a garment that Allah had given you to wear, otherwise that will become a precedent and every time a people dislikes their caliph or ruler they will kill. [Fadaa’il al-Sahabah, 1/473. Its isnad is saheeh].
May Allah be pleased with ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar – how far- sighted he was. He did not want ‘Uthman to set a bad precedent for the caliphs who came after him, and ‘Uthman is far above doing such a thing. If ‘Uthman gave in to these Saba’i rebels and gave up the caliphate, the caliphate would have become a plaything in the hands of evil-doers and those with ulterior motives, and thus the position of caliph would become unstable and have no respect among the people. But ‘Uthman set a good precedent for those who came after him by consulting Ibn ‘Umar and other Sahibah (radhiyallahu anhum), and he bore it with patience, seeking reward (with Allah); he did not give up the caliphate or cause the blood of Muslims to be shed. [Al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 179]
If he had responded to the demands of the rebels, who were a small group among the ummah and not among the decision-makers, prominent figures or leading scholars, that would have had serious consequences for the ummah, the position of the caliph and the relationship between the rulers and the people. The price he paid for averting these negative consequences was his life; he was certain of his fate but he surrendered to it even though that is something that was disliked, but he gave precedence to the best interests of the ummah over his own personal interests, which demonstrates his strength, resolve and courage, and refutes the accusation made against him, that he was weak of character. ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was able, by Allah’s leave, to rein in the turmoil, but he thought that it would lead to evil consequences that outweighed the interests achieved by resisting it. So he decided not to resist it so as to avoid negative consequences. Thus it is clear that al-‘Aqqaad was mistaken when he said that the murder of ‘Uthman can only be described as troublemaking on the part of some thugs with no one who could contain it [Dhu’n-Noorayn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, p. 122], because that implies some criticism of the character and courage of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). It was indeed turmoil caused by thugs, but not resisting it is something for which ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) is to be praised, because that was a sacrifice he made for the sake of Allah, hoping to do that which was in the best interests of the ummah and acting on the advice of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/149]
2. The besiegers threaten to kill him
Whilst ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was in his house, and the people were outside the house besieging him, ‘Uthman went to the entrance of the house one day and heard the besiegers threatening to kill him.
He went away from the entrance and entered upon those who were with him in the house, his face drained of colour. He said: They were threatening to kill me just now. They said to him: Allah will suffice you, O Ameer al-Mu’mineen. He said: Why would they kill me, when I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say:
“It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim except in three cases: a man who disbelieved after having believed, or who committed zina after having been married, or who killed a soul unlawfully .”
By Allah, I never committed zina during the Jaahiliyyah or in Islam, and I never wished to change my religion after Allah guided me, and I never killed anyone, so why would they kill me?”’ Then he looked out over the people who were besieging him and tried to calm them down and stop their rebelion against their leader by refuting the criticisms they made against him and explaining the things that had been distorted, in the hope that they would come to their senses. He asked the besiegers to send him a man to speak to him, and they sent a young man called Sa’sa’ah ibn Sawhaan, and ‘Uthman asked him to explain to him what they were angry about. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/150]
3. ‘Uthman established proof against Sa’sa’ah’s misquotation of Qur’an
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) Sa’sa’ah said: We were expelled from our homes unjustly only because we said, Our Lord is Allah (cf. al-Hajj 22:40). Uthman said to him: Quote the Qur’an. So he recited:
“Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory” [Al-Hajj 22:39].
‘Uthman said: This does not apply to you and your companions; rather it applies to me and my companions. Then ‘Uthman recited the verse that Sa’sa’ah had quoted as evidence and that which comes after it, which showed that Sa’sa’ah was misquoting it. He recited:
“Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely, Allth is Able to give them (believers) victory. Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah.” For had it not been that Allah checks one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein the Name of Allah is mentioned much would surely, have been pulled down. Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty. Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) enjoin Iqaamat-as-Salaah [i .e. to perform the five compulsoy congregational Salaah (prayers) (the males in mosques)], to pay the Zakaah and they enjoin Al-Ma’roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the Qur’an as the law of their country in all the spheres of life]. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters (of creatures).” [Al-Hajj 22:39-41]
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) explained to the people the correct meaning of these verses as they were revealed, the reason why they were revealed and concerning whom they were revealed, and what they meant, so that the people would not be confused by one who read the Qur’an to them but did not know what it meant and used it as evidence for the opposite of what it meant. [Fitnat Maqfal ‘Uthman, 1/151] Moreover, when ‘Uthman banished those whom he banished, he did so in accordance with the verse which follows the verse that was misquoted by Sa’sa’ah, which instructs those to whom Allah gives power in the land to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil; ‘Uthman was the caliph and he banished them by way of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, because of what they did of transgressing against some of the Muslims and their attempts to stir fitnah. [Ibid]
4. ‘Uthman reminds the people of his virtues
After refuting these people, ‘Uthman reminded the people of his status and of some of his virtues, urging those who knew of them or had heard them from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to testify to the people. He said: I adjure by Allah whoever heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) on the mountain of Hira’, when the mountain shook and he kicked it with his foot and said:
“Calm down, Hira’, for there is no one on you but a Prophet or a Siddeeq or a martyr,”
and I was with him. Some men testified to that, then he said: I adjure by Allah whoever heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) on the day of the oath of allegiance of al-Ridwaan, when he had sent me to the mushrikeen, to the people of Makkah, and he said:
“This is my hand and this is the hand of ‘Uthman,”
and he swore allegiance on my behalf. Some men testified to that, then he said: I adjure by Allah whoever heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say:
‘Who will incorporate his house into the mosque in return for a house in Paradise?”
so I bought it with my own wealth and incorporated it into the mosque. Some men testified to that, then he said: I adjure by Allah whoever heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) on the day of Tabook when he said:
“Who will spend today and his charity will be accepted?”
So I equipped half of the army from my own wealth. Some men testified to that, then he said: I adjure by Allah whoever saw the water of the well of Roomah being sold to wayfarers, and I bought it with my own wealth and made it free for wayfarers. He said: And some men testified to that.” [al-Musnad, 1/59]
It was narrated that Abu Thawr al-Fahmi said: I came to ‘Uthman, and whilst I was staying with him I went out and saw that the delegation from Egypt had returned. I entered upon ‘Uthman and told him about that, and he said: How do you see them? I said: I see evil in their faces, and Ibn ‘Udays al-Balawi is in charge of them. Ibn ‘Udays ascended the minbar of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and led the people in praying Jumu’ah, and he criticized ‘Uthman in his khutbah. I entered upon ‘Uthman and told him what he had said concerning them, and he said: Ibn ‘Udays is lying, by Allah. If he had not said that, I would not mention this. I was the fourth person to enter Islam. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) gave his daughter to me in marriage, then she died and he gave his other daughter to me. I did not commit zina or steal during the Jaahiliyyah or in Islam. I have not told lies since I became Muslim and I have not touched my private part with my right hand since I swore allegiance to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). I compiled the Qur’an at the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and since I became Muslim, no Friday ever came but I set free a slave, unless I could not find a slave that Friday, in which case I would set two free the following Friday. [Al-Marifah wa’l-Tareekh, 2/488]
When ‘Uthman realized that the rebels were insisting on killing him, he warned them against that and against the consequences thereof. He looked out at them through a hole in the wall and said to them: O people, do not kill me; rather talk to me, for by Allah, if you kill me you will never be united in a fight against your enemy, rather you will be divided until you become like that – and he interlaced his fingers. [at-Tabaqaat, 3/71]
According to another report he said: O people, do not kill me, for I am a ruler and a Muslim brother. By Allah, all I wanted was to do what was best for the ummah as much as I could, whether I was right or wrong. If you kill me, you will never pray together or go on campaign together again, and you will never share your booty among you. [At-Tabaqaat, 3/67, 68]
He also said: If you kill me, you will never love one another again after I am gone, and you will never fight anyone together after I am gone. [Tareekh Ibn Khayyat, p. 171]
And what he warned them of came to pass; after he was killed, everything he said happened.
Concerning that, al-Hasan al-Basri said: By Allah, even when the people pray together, their hearts are divided. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Ufhman, 1/157]
The Sahabah’s offer to defend ‘Uthman and his rejection thereof
‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) sent word to the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhuma) consulting them about the besiegers and their threats to kill him. Their attitudes were as follows:
1. ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu)
Ibn ‘Asaakir narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah (radhiyallahu anhu) that ‘Ali sent word to ‘Uthmiin saying: I have five hundred men with shields; give me permission to protect you against the people, for you have not done anything that would make it permissible to shed your blood. He said: May you be rewarded with good, I do not want blood to be shed for my sake. [Tareekh Dimashq, p. 403]
2. Az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated that Abu Habeebah said: Az-Zubayr sent me to ‘Uthman when he was being besieged and I entered upon him on a summer day. He was sitting on a chair and al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali, Abu Hurayrah, ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar and ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-Zubayr were with him. I said: az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam has sent me to you. He sends greetings of salaam to you and says to you: I am still loyal to you and I have not changed or retracted. If you wish, I will join you in your house, and will be one of the people there, or if you wish, I will stay where I am, because Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf have promised to come to my place, then they will follow whatever instructions I give them. When ‘Uthman heard the message, he said: Allahu akbar, praise be to Allah Who has protected my brother. Convey salaams to him and tell him: I appreciate what you said; may Allah ward off harm from me by you. When Abu Hurayrah read the message he stood up and said: Shall I not tell you what my ears heard from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)? They said: Yes. He said: I bear witness that I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say:
“After I am gone there will be turmoil and other things.”
We said: Where should we turn to for safety, O Messenger of Allah? He said:
“To Al-Ameen (the trushworthy one) and his group,”
and he pointed to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. The people stood up and said: Now we know what we should do. Give us permission to fight in jihad. But ‘Uthman said: I urge anyone who is supposed to obey me not to fight. [Fadha’il al-Sahabah, 1/511,512 Its isnad is saheeh]
2. Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated that al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (radhiyallahu anhu) entered upon ‘Uthman when he was being besieged, and said: You are the ruler of the people and there has befallen you what you see. I advise you of three options; choose one of them. go out and fight them, for you have the numbers and strength, and you are in the right and they are in the wrong; or make a door other than the door where they are, and sit on your mount and go to Makkah, for they will not dare to attack you there; or go to Syria, for among the people of Syria is Mu’awiyah. ‘Uthman said: As for going out and fighting them, I will not be the first one after the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to rule the ummah by shedding its blood. As for going out to Makkah because they would not dare to attack me there, I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say:
“A man of Quraysh who visits Makkah with the aim of profanity or wrongdoing will have the punishment of half of mankind,”
and I will never be that one; and as for going to Syria because among the people of Syria is Mu’awiyah, I will never leave the place to which I migrated and where I am close to the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). [AI-Bidaayah wa’n-Nihaayah, 7/211]
4. ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu)
The Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) decided to defend ‘Uthman, and some of them entered the house, but ‘Uthman urged them strongly to refrain from fighting in his defence, which prevented them from fulfilling their sincere desire to defend him. Among them was ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu) who said to ‘Uthman: Fight them, for by Allah, Allah has permitted you to fight them. But ‘Uthman said: No, by Allah, I will never fight them. [Tabaqaat Ibn Sa’d, 3/70. Its isnad is saheeh]
According to another report he said: O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, we are with you in the house, a group with strong faith, and Allah may give victory to a smaller group than us, so give us permission to fight. But ‘Uthman said: I adjure you by Allah that no man should shed his blood for my sake. [Tareekh Ibn Khayaat, p. 173]
Then he appointed him in charge of the house and said: Whoever was obliged to obey me, let him obey ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-zubayr [Tabaqaat Ibn Sa’d, 3/70; its isnad going back to ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr is saheeh]
5. Ka’b ibn Maalik al-Ansari and Zayd ibn Thabit al-Ansari (radhiyallahu anhum)
Ka’b ibn Maalik (radhiyallahu anhum) urged the Ansar to support ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and said to them O Ansar, be supporters of Allah twice. So the Ansar came to ‘Uthman and stood at his door, and Zayd ibn Thabit entered and said to him: The Ansar are at your door; if you wish we will be supporters of Allah twice. But ‘Uthman refused to fight and said: There is no need for that; do not do it. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/162]
6. al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu)
al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) came and said to him: Should I unsheathe my sword? He said to him: I will never be able to justify the shedding of your blood before Allag; put your sword back in its sheath and go back to your father. [al-Musannaf by Ibn Abi Shaybah, 152/224]
7. ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) When the Sahabah realized that the situation was getting out of hand, some of them decided to defend him without consulting him, so some of them entered the house and prepared to fight. Ibn ‘Umar was with him in the house, with his sword in his hand and his shield on his arm, ready to fight in defence of ‘Uthmgn (radhiyallahu anhu), but ‘Uthman urged him to leave the house lest he fight with the people when they entered the house and be killed. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/163]
8. Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu)
Abu Hurayrah entered the house and said to ‘Uthman O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, now it is time to fight. He said to him: O Abu Hurayrah, would you be happy to kill all the people and me? He said: No. He said: By Allah, if you killed a single man it would be as if you had killed all the people. So he went back and did not fight. According to another report, Abu Hurayrah had his sword in his hand, until ‘Uthman told him not to fight [Tareekk Kahleefah ibn Khayaat, p. 164]
9. Sulayt ibn Sulayt
He said: ‘Uthman forbade us to fight them, and if he had given us permission we would have driven them out of the city. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/165]
Ibn Sireen said: There were seven hundred men with ‘Uthman in the house; if he had let them and if Allah had willed, they would have driven them out of the city. Among them were Ibn ‘Umar, al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali and ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-Zubayr. He also said: On the day when ‘Uthman was killed, the house was crowded with people, including Ibn ‘Umar and al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali, who had his sword around his neck, but ‘Uthman told them not to fight. [Tareekh Dimashq by Ibn ‘Asaakir]
Thus it is clear that the accusation that the Sahabah, both Muhajirin and Ansar, let ‘Uthman down, is false, and none of the reports which say that are free of serious faults in the isnaad or text or both. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/166]
Offer of some of the Sahabah to help ‘Uthman leave and go to Makkah
When some of the Sahqbah saw that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was insisting on refusing to fight the besiegers, and that the besiegers were insisting on killing him, they could find no other way to protect him but to offer to help him to leave and go to Makkah, to escape from the besiegers. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn az- Zubayr, al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah and Usaamah ibn Zayd all suggested that to him separately, each of them making the suggestion by himself, but ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) refused all of these offers. [Fitnat MaqtaI ‘Uthman, 1/166]
The reasons why ‘Uthman told the Sahabah not to fight
From the reports of the turmoil, researchers have found five reasons for that, which are:
1- Following the advice of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) which he told him in secret and which ‘Uthman announced on the day of the siege, which is a promise that he made to him, that he would bear it with patience. [Fadaa’il al-Sahibah, 1/605; its isntd is ssaheh].
2- ‘Uthman’s words: I will never be the first of the successors of the Messenger of Alltih (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to shed blood among his ummah. He did not want to be the first of the successors of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to shed the blood of the Muslims. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/167]
3- He knew that the rebels were not after anyone else, and he did not want to use the believers as a shield to protect himself, rather he wanted to be a shield to protect them. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman; there is some weakness in the isnad of the report].
4. He knew that this turmoil would involve his being killed, from what the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had told him when he gave him the glad tidings of Paradise for a calamity that would befall him, and that he would be killed when adhering patiently to the truth. The evidence indicated that the time for that had come, and that was supported by a dream which he saw the night before he was killed, in which he saw the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and he said to him:
“Break your fast with us tomorrow.”
From that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) understood that the time of his martyrdom was at hand.
5- Acting on the advice of Ibn Salaam (radhiyallahu anhu) who said to him: Refrain from fighting, for that will give you a stronger position against them (on the Day of Resurrection). [At-Tabaqaat, 3/71; its isnad is hasan].
The Prophet’s foretelling that ‘Uthman would be killed was fulfilled, as it was narrated by ‘Abd-Allah ibn Hawaalah (radhiyallahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
‘Whoever is saved from three is indeed saved – three times – : my death, the Dajjaal and the murder of a caliph who is killed adhering to the truth and fulfilling his duty.” [Musnad Ahmad, 4/106, no. 16973]
From the above we can see how calm ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was in his thinking, for the severity of the calamity did not prevent him from thinking clearly and taking the right decisions. So many reasons came together to make him take a peaceful position with regard to fighting those who had rebelled against him. Undoubtedly he (radhiyallahu anhu) was in the right in all his stances that he took, because it was narrated in sound reports that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had referred to this turmoil, and had testified that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and his companions would be in the right. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/168; see the saheeh ahdeeth to which I have referred in the sections on his virtues and on the Prophet’s foretelling of his killing in this book].
Ibn Taymiyah said: It is known through mutawaatir reports that ‘Uthman was among the most careful of people to avoid bloodshed and among the most patient towards those who impugned his honour and those who plotted to shed his blood, so they besieged him and sought to kill him. He knew of their intention to kill him, and the Muslims came to defend him and advised him to fight them, but he told the people to refrain from fighting and ordered those who should obey him not to fight them. It was said to him: Will you go to Makkah? And he said: I will not be one of those who cause the sanctuary to be violated. It was said to him: Will you go to Syria? He said: I will not leave the land to which I migrated. It was said to him: Then fight them, but he said: I will not be the first of the successors of Muhammad to rule his ummah by the sword. The patience that ‘Uthman showed until he was killed is among the greatest of his virtues in the eyes of the Muslims. [Minhaaj al-Sunnah, 3/202, 203]
The attitude of some of the Mothers of the Believers and some of the female Sahabiyyah (radhiyallahu anham)
Umm Habeebah bint Abi Sufyan (radhiyallahu anha)
The stance taken by Umm Habeebah, the Mother of the Believers, concerning these events was a very serious one, as she was nearly killed for ‘Uthman’s sake. When ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was besieged and water was withheld from him, ‘Uthman sent a son of ‘Amr ibn Hazam al-Ansari – who was one of his neighbours – to ‘Ali to tell him: They are withholding water from us; if you can, send us some of your surplus water. He also sent word to Talhah, az-Zubayr, ‘Aa’ishah and the other wives of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). The first ones to come to his aid were ‘Ali and Umm Habeebah (radhiyallahu anha). [Daur al-Marrah as-Siyaasi, by Asma’ Muhammad, p. 340]
Umm Habeebah was very concerned about ‘Uthman, as Ibn ‘Asaakir said, and this was entirely natural on her part, as they shared a common lineage and were from the same tribe (Banu Umayyah). Umm Habeebah came and they struck the face of her mule, and she said: The wills of Banu Umayyah are all with this man; I want to meet him and ask him about that so that the wills of the widows and orphans will not be lost. They said: You are lying; and they struck out at her with their swords, and cut the rope of her mule, which started running away with Umm Habeebah. The people tried to stop it, and the saddle tilted, so they grabbed hold of it and stopped the mule, but Umm Habeebah was nearly killed. Then they took her back to her house. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/402]
It seems that she (radhiyallahu anha) told her freed slave Ibn al-Jarraah to stay close to ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), and the events that took place in the house (of ‘Uthman) happened when Ibn al-Jarraah was present. [Tareekh al-Madinah, 2/298]
Safiyyah (radhiyallahu anha) – the wife of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) Safiyyah (radhiyallahu anha) did something similar to what Umm Habeebah did. It was narrated that Kinaanah said: I was leading Safiyyah’s mule when she went and tried to defend ‘Uthman, and she was met by al-Ashtar. [Dawr al-Mar’ah as-Siyaasi, p. 340]
He struck the face of her mule until the saddle tilted, and she said: Let me go back for I do not want this to expose me. Then she put a piece of wood from her house to ‘Uthman’s, and transported food and water on it. [Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 2/237]
‘Aa’ishah the Mother of the Believers (radhiyallahu anha)
When that happened to Umm Habeebah, the people were very upset and ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) left Madinah filled with anger against the rebels. Marwaan ibn al-Hakam came to her and said: O Mother of the Believers, if you had stayed they would have shown some respect towards this man. She said: Do you want to happen to me what happened to Umm Habeebah? And there is no one there to defend me. No, by Allah, I do not want to be in such a humiliating situation. I do not know where this matter will end. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/401]
She (radhiyallahu anha) thought that by leaving it might help to disperse the crowds as may be explained by a second report, so the Mothers of the Believers prepared to flee from the turmoil, but their departure was not aimed only at escaping the turmoil, so it was not merely an escape; rather it was an attempt to save ‘Uthman from the hands of those who were deceived, among whom was Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, the brother of ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha), who had tried to get him to follow her to Hajj, but he had refused. What led to this attempt on her part to get him to follow her and his refusal to do so, was so obvious that Hanzalah the scribe was surprised when Muhammad refused to follow ‘Aa’ishah. He compared this refusal with his following of the people from the regions and said: O Muhammad, the Mother of the Believers is calling you but you do not follow her, and the wolves of the Arabs are calling you to something that is not permissible, and you follow them. But he refused. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/401]
‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu anha) said: By Allah, if I could stop them, I would do it. These words of hers, which she said after trying to persuade her brother, indicate that she had begun her attempt to make the rebels disperse from besieging ‘Uthman and to stir up public opinion against them from the time they first started to think of going to Makkah. This is what was confirmed by Imam Ibn al- ‘Arabi, who said: It was narrated that their leaving – i.e., the leaving of the Mothers of the Believers with a number of the Sahabah – was meant as a means to put an end to the turmoil, in the hope that the people would follow their mothers, the Mothers of the Believers, respect the sanctity of their Prophet and listen to their words, as they used to come from the furthest horizons to listen to them. [Daur al-Mar’ah al-Siyaasi, p. 342]
In other words, their leaving for Makkah was an attempt to disperse these crowds, because it was the custom of the people to ask their opinion and consult them, and they – may Allah be pleased with them all – never imagined that it would reach a point where these people would kill the caliph. [op. dt., p. 343]
How the female Sahabah dealt with the situation
(a) Asma’ bint ‘Umays (radhiyallahu anha)
Asma’ bint ‘Umays tried to do the same thing as the Mother of the Believers ‘Aa’ishah had done. She sent word to her two sons, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and Muhammad ibn Ja’far, saying: The lamp consumes itself in order give light to the people, so do not indulge in sin for something that will benefit someone else. The thing that you are trying to achieve now will end up being for someone else later on, so beware lest your actions today lead to regret. [ibid, 343]
But they would not listen and they left angrily, saying: We will never forget what ‘Uthman did to us. And she said: All he did to you was command you to adhere to the way of Allah.’ [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/202]
And it was said that this conversation took place between Layla bint Asma’ and her two brothers. [op. cit., 5/202]
In this case, she was referring to when the people of the regions had come to Madinah then come back again after they had debated with ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), and he had debated with them and established proof against them, then they pretended that they were returning to their homelands, then they soon came back, claiming that ‘Uthman had sent a man with instructions that the people be killed, including – or so they claimed – Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. [Dawr al-Mar’ah al-Siyaasi, p. 343]
This is probably what Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was referring to when he said: We will never forget what ‘Uthman did to us. But ‘Uthman denied having anything to do with this letter and he said: Either bring two men to witness against me, or I will give you my oath that I never wrote (the letter) or told anyone else to write (it). It is possible that a letter could be forged and falsely attributed to a man, or his signature or seal could be forged. [al-‘Awaasim min al-Qawaasim, p. 120]
Asma’ (radhiyallahu anha) was aware of what was happening, namely plots to shake the foundation of the Islamic state and depose ‘Uthma ibn ‘Affan (rashiyallahu anha) from the caliphate. Hence her attitude towards her two sons and her clear understanding of the matter caused her not to be influenced by the fact that she was a mother, and she took the right stance with regard to this clear situation. This attitude is undoubtedly very significant and gives a clear image of the dignity and good character of the noble Sahabah. [Dawr al-Mar’ah al-Siyaasi, p. 544 ]
(b) al-Sa’bah bint al-Hadrami When the siege intensified, al-Sa’bah bint al-Hadrami asked her son Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd-Allah (radhiyallahu anhu) to speak to ‘Uthman and make him change his mind about exposing himself to danger and not allowing the Sahabah to come to his defence or seeking help from the governors of other provinces. Al-Sa’bah bint al-Hadrami went out and said to her son Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd-Allah: The siege of ‘Uthman has intensified; why don’t you speak to him and make him change his mind? [Dawr al-Mar’ah aI-Siyaasi, p. 345]
This report clearly shows that al-Sa’bah was concerned about ‘Uthman, and that Umm ‘Abd-Allah ibn Raafi’ was also concerned about the matter and was following developments as the turmoil progressed; [op. cit., p. 345] as she is the one who narrated this incident from al-Sa’bah bint al-Hadrami.
This was the attitude of the Muslim women in general, a balanced attitude that was able to see things as they really were, despite the clouds that were surrounding the scene. Whatever the case, this was the attitude of all the Sahabah (radhiyallaahu anhum). [op. cit., p. 345, 346]
Who led the peopfe in Hajj that year? Did Uthman ask the governors for help?
Who led the people in Hajj in 35 AH?
‘Uthman summoned ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbaas and told him to lead the people in Hajj that year. Ibn ‘Abbaas said to him: Let me stay with you and be by your side, O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, to confront these people, for by Allah, fighting in jihad against these rebels is dearer to me than Hajj. ‘Uthman said to him: I insist that you lead the Muslims in Hajj. So Ibn ‘Abbaas had no choice but to obey the caliph. ‘Uthman wrote a letter that he sent with Ibn ‘Abbaas to be read out to the Muslims on Hajj, in which he explained what was going on with those who had rebelled against him, his attitude towards them, and their demands on him. [Al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen by al-Khaalidi, p. 167,168]
This is what was said in the letter of ‘Uthman addressed to the Muslims on the occasion of Hajj in 35 AH:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From the slave of Allah, ‘Uthman the Ameer al-Mu’mineen to the believers and Muslims. Peace be upon you. I praise Allah besides Whom there is no other god. To proceed: I remind you of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, Who has blessed you and guided you to Islam, and has saved you from misguidance and disbelief, and has shown you clear signs, bestowed abundant provision upon you, granted you victory over your enemy and bestowed His blessings upon you. Allah says, and His word is true:
“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is indeed an extreme wrongdoer, a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate who denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)” [Ibraaheem 14:34]
“O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always,) and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allah)]. And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided. Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma’roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful. And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:102-105]
“And remember Allah’s Favour to you and His Covenant with which He bound you when you said: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Knower of that which is in (the secrets of your) hearts” [Al-Maa’idah 57]
“O you who believe! If a Faasiq (liar – evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done. And know that among you there is the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). If he were to obey you (i.e. follow your opinions and desires) in much of the matter, you would surely be in trouble. But Allah has endeared the Faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts, and has made disbelief, wickedness and disobedience (to Allah and His Messenger hateful to you. Such are they who are the rightly guided. (This is) a Grace from Allah and His Favour. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise” [Al-Hujuraat 49:6-8]
“Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s Covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter (Paradise). Neither will Allah speak to them nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful torment” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:77]
“So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; listen and obey, and spend in charity; that is better for yourselves. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, then they are the successful ones” [At-Taghaabun 64:16]
“And fulfil the Covenant of Allah (Bay’ah : pledge for Islam) when you have covenanted, and break not the oaths after you have confirmed them – and indeed you have appointed Allah , your surety. Verily, Allah knows what you do. And be not like her who undoes the thread which she has spun, after it has become strong, by taking your oaths as a means of deception among yourselves, lest a nation should be more numerous than another nation. Alllah only tests you by this (i.e. who obeys Allah and fulfils Allah’s Covenant and who disobeys Allah and breaks Allah’s Covenant). And on the Day of Resurrection, He will certainly make clear to you that wherein you used to differ (i.e. a believer confesses and believes in the Oneness of Allah and in the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad which the disbeliever denies and that is their difference amongst them in the life of this world). And had Allah willed, He could have made you (all) one nation, but He sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. But you shall certainly be called to account for what you used to do. And make not your oaths, a means of deception among yourselves, lest a foot should slip after being firmly planted, and you may have to taste the evil (punishment in this world) of having hindered (men) from the path of Allah (i.e. belief in the Oneness of Allah and His Messenger, Muhammad), and yours will be a great torment (i.e. the fire of Hell in the Hereafter). And purchase not a small gain at the cost of Allah’s Covenant. Verily, what is with Allah is better for you if you did but know. Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever is with Allah (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do” [An- Nahl 16:91-96]
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad, and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination” [An-Nisa’ 4:59]
“Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the land, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practise their religion which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely, give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah)” [An-Noor 24:55]
“Verily, those who give Bay’ah (pledge) to you (O Muhammad they are giving Bay’ah (pledge) to Allah. The Hand of Allah is over their hands. Then whosoever breaks his pledge, breaks it only to his own harm; and whosoever fulfils what he has covenanted with Alllah, He will bestow on him a great reward” [Al-Fath 48:10]
To proceed: Allah wants you to hear and obey, and to be united, and He warns you against disobedience, division and dissent. He has told you about the behaviour and attitude of those who came before you, and He has told you of that so that you will have no excuse if you disobey Him. So accept the advice of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, and beware of His punishment, for you will never find any nation that was doomed but that came about after they were divided, unless they had a leader to rally behind. When you are divided, you are not going to pray all together, Allah will give your enemies power over you and you will violate the sanctity of one other. When that happens, then Islam will no longer be strong and will be broken up into sects. Allah says:
“Verily, those who divide their religion and break up into sects (all kinds of religious sects), you (O Muhammad) have no concern in them in the least. Their affair is only with Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do” [Al-An’aam 6:159].
I advise you to pay heed to what Allah has enjoined upon you and to beware of His punishment. Shu’ayb (alayhis salaam) said to his people:
“And O my people! Let not my shiqaaq (i.e. separation, enmity, anger and opposition, because of your disbelief in the Oneness of Allah (Monotheism), and your worship of the idols, and your defrauding of the people (in their things), and you giving of short measure and weights to the people) cause you to suffer the fate similar to that of the people of Nuh (Noah) or of Hood or of Saalih (Saleh), and the people of Loot are not far off from you! And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance. Verily, my Lord is Most Merciful, Most Loving” [Hood 11:39, 90].
To proceed: These people who were involved in this matter presented themselves to others as calling them to the Book of Allah and the truth, and claimed that they were not seeking worldly gains or competing in worldly matters. But when the truth was presented to them, they responded in different ways. Some accepted the truth and were content with it when it was shown to them; some turned away from the truth and ignored it, wanting their own way with no right (to do that). I have lived too long for them and they are rushing to seize a position of authority, so they are trying to hasten my death. They wrote to you and told you that they were content with the deal that I had given them, and I am not aware that I changed my mind or went against the deal that I had made with them. They claimed that they want justice to be done (hadd punishments), and I said: Carry out the hadd punishment against anyone who you know deserves a hadd punishment and against anyone who has wronged you, whether he is a relative or a stranger. They said: The Book of Allah is being recited. I said: Anyone may recite it without misinterpreting it in a way different than what was revealed. They said: The one who has been deprived should given provision and wealth should be given to those who deserve it, and there should be no transgression with regard to the khums or the zakaah; people of ability and honesty should be appointed as governors and the rights of those who have been wronged should be restored to them. I accepted that and showed patience towards them. I am writing to you when those who are involved in this matter are seeking to hasten my death and they have prevented me from praying; they have stopped me from going to the mosque and have confiscated whatever they could in Madinah. I have written this letter to you when they are giving me three choices: either they will settle the score with me regarding every man I have dealt with, whether I was right or wrong, without leaving anyone out; or I should give up the caliphate and they will appoint someone else; or they will send word to the troops and people of Madinah who will obey them and they will disown the one whom Allah enjoined them to hear and obey. I said to them: As for settling the scores with me, the caliphs who came before me sometimes got things wrong and someiimes got them right, but there were no scores to be settled with any of them. I am certain that they want to kill me. As for me giving up my position, for them to beat me with an iron stirrup is dearer to me than my giving up what I am doing for the sake of Allah and the caliphate. As for them saying that they will send word to the troops and people of Madinah so that they will no longer obey me, I am not in charge of what you do and I did not force them before to hear and obey, rather they offered their obedience willingly, seeking the pleasure of Allah and harmony among the Muslims. Whoever among you is seeking worldly gain will not get anything but that which Allah has decreed for him, and whoever is seeking the Countenance of Allah and the Hereafter, the interests of the ummah, the pleasure of Allah and following the good ways of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the two caliphs who came after him, it is only Allah Who gives reward for that and I have no reward for you. Even if I gave you the whole world, it would not be the price for your religious commitment and it would not help you in any way. So fear Allah and seek reward with Him. If anyone among you is content to turn back on his heels, that is not what I want for him, and Allah does not want you to break your covenant with Him. As for the choices that you are giving me, they are all about dismissing me from my position and appointing someone else. I have controlled myself and those who are with me. I thought of the decree of Allah and blessings can only be bestowed and taken away by Allah, may He be glorified. I did not want to set a precedent that would lead to division and bloodshed. I adjure you by Allah and by Islam to only follow the truth and direct me to follow the truth; do not wrong the people of truth. Let justice rule between us as Allah has commanded you. I adjure you by Allah Who has enjoined you to follow His commandments, for Allah says and His Word is true:
“And come not near to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength. And fulfil (evey) covenant. Verily, the covenant will be questioned about” [Al- Isra’ 17:34].
Thus I seek to be free of guilt before Allah (cf. Al-A’raaf 7:164), and perhaps you may heed this reminder. To proceed: I do not free myself from blame.
“And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Yoosuf 12:53].
If I punished some people, I only did it for a good reason, and I repent to Allah for everything that I have done. I seek His forgiveness, for no one forgives sins but Him. The mercy of my Lord encompasses all things, and no one despairs of the mercy of Allah but those who have gone astray. He accepts repentance from His slaves and forgives bad deeds, and He knows what you are doing. I ask Allah to forgive me and you, and to reconcile this ummah and make evil abhorrent to them. Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allsh and His blessings, O believers and Muslims.
Ibn ‘Abbaas said: I read this letter to them in Makkah one day before al-Tarwiyah. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/425-431]
Did ‘Uthman ask the governors to support him?
Sayf ibn ‘Umar claimed in his report narrated by al-Tabari that when ‘Uthman was besieged, he wrote to his governors in the regions asking them for help, and Mu’awiyah sent Habeeb ibn Maslamah al-Fihri at the head of an army; ‘Abd-Allah ibn Sa’d in Egypt did likewise, sending Mu’awiyah ibn Hudayj; and al- Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr came from Kufah leading his forces. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/379, 380]
But this claim is not in accordance with the attitude of ‘Uthman who dealt with the turmoil by erring on the side of caution and refraining from taking action; neither is it in accordance with his certainty that he would be killed. It is contrary to his attitude of turning away those of the senior Sahabah and their sons who wanted to defend him. He even emphatically forbade his slaves and freed slaves to fight; rather he promised manumission to those of them who refrained from fighting, as we shall see. But it can be imagined that just as some of the Sahabah hastened to defend him without him asking them to, and despite his many attempts to turn them away, so many large groups of Muslim soldiers in the other regions hastened to defend the wronged caliph on their own initiative, or on the instructions of their commanders. We should not think that a man such as Mu’awiyah, who was so close to ‘Uthman, would be content to sit down and do nothing and not send an army of troops to defend him. We cannot assume that men such as ‘Uthman’s supporters in Egypt – led by Mu’awiyah ibn Hudayj, Maslamah ibn Mukhallad and other Muslim heroes – would sit and wait until the caliph was killed before making a move to avenge him and expose themselves to being killed in that way. Rather what we can imagine and assume is that troops from the regions were on the move, coming to Madinah to support the caliph without him asking them to do that. [al-Dawlah al-Islamiyyah fi ‘Asr al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p. 278, 279]
The last khutbah delivered by ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
The last public meeting that ‘Uthman had with the Muslims was several weeks into the siege, when he summoned the people and they all gathered in response, both the Saba’i rebels and the peaceful residents of Madinah, foremost among whom were ‘Ali, Talhah and az-Zubayr. When they sat before him, he said to them: Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has given you this world as a means of seeking the Hereafter; He has not given you this world for you to be content with it. This world is transient but the Hereafter will abide forever, so do not let that which is transient distract you from that which will abide forever. Show preference to that which will abide forever over that which is transient. This world will come to an end and your destiny will be with Allah. Fear Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, for fear of Him is a protection and a shield against His wrath and punishment. Adhere to the main body of the Muslims and do not break into factions. Allah says:
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc. ,) clear to you, that you may be guided” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:103].
Then he said to the Muslims: O people of Madinah, I bid you farewell, and I ask Allah to appoint a good caliph for you after I am gone. By Allah, I shall never enter upon anyone again after this day until Allah lets His decree come to pass. I shall leave these rebels outside the door and I shall not give them anything that they might use against you in religious or worldly terms, until Allah decrees whatever He wills. He commanded the people of Madinah to leave and swore an oath urging them to do so, so they left except for al-Hasan, Muhammad, Ibn az-Zubayr and others like them, who sat at ‘Uthman’s door on their fathers’ orders, and many people gathered around them. And ‘Uthman stayed in the house until he met his fate. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/399,400]
The martyrdom of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
In addition to the armies coming from the regions to support the caliph, the days of Hajj had ended quickly and scores of pilgrims were now marching towards Madinah to support the caliph too, especially since ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbaas, ‘Aa’ishah and others were coming to defend ‘Uthman. News reached the rebels that the pilgrims wanted to come to support ‘Uthman. When they heard that news, along with news of the hatred that the people of the regions felt towards them, the Shaytaan whispered to them and tempted them, and they said: Nothing can save us from what we have let ourselves in for but killing this man, and that will distract the people from us. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/402]
The last day of the siege and the dream that ‘Uthman saw
On the last day of the siege -which is the day on which he was killed – ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) fell asleep and that morning he told the people: They are going to kill me today. [at-Tabaqaat by Ibn Sa’d, 3/75]
Then he said: I saw the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in my dream. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were with him, and the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: O ‘Uthman, break your fast with us. He was fasting, and he was killed that day. [at-Tabaqaat, 3/75. The report is hasan because of corroborating evidence].
How he was killed
The rebels attacked the house and were confronted by al- Hasan ibn ‘Ali, ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-Zubayr, Muhammad ibn Talhah, Marwaan ibn al-Hakam and Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas, and other sons of the Sahabah who stayed with them. Fighting broke out and ‘Uthman called to them: Allah Allah; I don’t want you to defend me. But they insisted, and ‘Uthman’s slaves came in to defend him, but he told them not to do that, rather he announced that whoever among them refrained from fighting would be a free man. [al-Dawlah al-lslamiyyah fi ‘Asr al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p. 282]
‘Uthman said clearly and decisively, as the caliph who was to be obeyed: I insist that everyone who believes that he is obliged to hear and obey should restrain himself and refrain from fighting. [al-‘Awaasim min al-Qawaasim, p. 133]
The only justification for saying that was that ‘Uthman was certain that he would become a martyr, based on the testimony of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Hence he did not want blood to be shed on his account or division to arise among the Muslims because of him. [al-Dawlah al-lslamiyyah fi ‘Asr al-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p. 283]
Al-Mugheerah ibn al-Akhnas was among those who had done Hajj, then hastened to leave Mina after two days instead of three, along with a group who had performed Hajj with him. He managed to come to ‘Uthman before he was kiIled; he entered the house to protect him and said: What excuse will we have before Allah if we leave you when we are able to stop them until we die? The rebels came and wanted to burn down the door and portico, but the people in the house leapt up to stop them, whilst ‘Uthman was praying. Al-Mugheerah ibn al-Akhnas, al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali, Muhammad ibn Talhah, Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas, Marwaan ibn al- Hakam and Abu Hurayrah fought and did their utmost, but ‘Uthman sent word to them telling them to leave and not fight, then he went back to his prayer. He started to read:
“Ta-Ha. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings]. We have not sent down the Qur’an unto you (O Muhammad!) to cause you distress, But only as a Reminder to those who fear (Allah)” [Ta-Ha 20:1-3]
He was a fast reader, and he was not disturbed by what he heard. He carried on reading and did not make any mistake or stumble, until he came to the end of the soorah before they reached him. Then he recited a du’aa‘ and sat down and recited the verse
“Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced by nations (believers and disbelievers) that have passed away before you (as you have faced in the battle of Uhud), so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who disbelieved (in the Oneness of Allah, and disobeyed Him and His Messengers)” [Aal ‘Imran 3:137].
On that day, four young men of Quraysh were injured: al- Hasan ibn ‘Ali, ‘Abd-Allah ibn az-Zubayr, Muhammad ibn Haatib and Marwaan ibn al-Hakam. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/169]
Al-Mugheerah ibn al-Akhnas, Niyaar ibn ‘Abd-Allah al-Aslami and Ziyaad al-Fihri were killed. ‘Uthman managed to persuade the defenders to leave the house and leave him alone with the rebels. So no one was left in the house except ‘Uthman and his family, and there was no defender or guard between him and the people, then he (radhiyallahu anhu) opened the door of the house. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/188]
After those who had wanted to defend him had left the house, ‘Uthmh spread the Mus-haf before him and began to read from it, and at that time he was fasting. Then one of the besiegers, whose name is not mentioned in the reports, entered upon him. When ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) saw him he said to him: Between me and you there is the Book of Allah. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/405,406]
So the man went out and left him alone. But no sooner had he left but another one came in. He was a man from Banu Sadoos who was called al-Mawt al-Aswad (the Black Death). He strangled him before striking him with the sword. He said: By Allah, I never saw anything more soft when strangling. I strangled him until I felt that his soul was moving in his body like a jinn. [Tareekh Ibn Khayaat, p. 174, 175. Its isnad is saheeh or hasan].
Then he struck him with his sword, and ‘Uthman tried to protect himself with his hand, but he cut it off. ‘Uthman said: By Allah, it was the first hand to write al-Mufassal. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/398]
That was because he was one of the scribes who wrote down the Revelation, and he had been the first one to write the Mus-haf as dictated by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was killed when the Mus-haf was in front of him, and when his hand was cut off, the blood spilled onto the Mus-haf that was in front of him, and it fell upon the verse:
“So Allah will suffice for you against them. And He is the All- Hearer, the All-Knower” [Al-Baqarah 2:137].[ibid]
According to another report, the first one to strike him was a man who was called Rumaan al-Yamaani, who struck him with a short, hooked staff. When they surrounded him, his wife Naa’ilah bint al- Faraafisah said: Whether you kill him or spare him, he used to stay up all night, reciting the entire Qur’an in a single rak’ah. [at-Tabaqaat, 3/76]
Naa’ilah defended her husband ‘Uthman and shielded him, and she received several blows of the sword on her hands. Sawdaan ibn Hamraan went to her and struck her fingers, and cut them off. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/406, 407]
When one of the slaves of ‘Uthman, whose name was Nujayh, saw what was happening, he was distressed by the killing of ‘Uthman. Nujayh attacked Sawdaan ibn Hamraan and killed him, and when Qutayrah ibn Fulaan al-Sakooni saw that Nujayh had killed Sawdaan, he attacked Nujayh and killed him. Then another slave of ‘Uthman, whose name was Subayh, attacked Qutayrah ibn Fulaan and killed him. So there were four who were killed in the house, two martyrs and two criminals. The martyrs were ‘Uthman and his slave Nujayh, and the criminals were Sawdaan and Qutayrah, who were both from the tribe of Sakoon. When ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) had been killed, a caller from among the Saba’is cried out: It cannot be the case that the man’s blood is permissible for us and his property is forbidden for us; his property is permissible for us too. So they ransacked the house, and the Saba’i thugs did a lot of mischief in the house. They ransacked everything, even taking the jewellery that the women were wearing. One of the Saba’is whose name was Kulthoom al-Taleebi attacked ‘Uthman’s wife Naa’ilah and took the abayah that she was wearing, then he poked her in the hips and said to her: Woe to your mother, what a perfect backside. ‘Uthman’s slave Subayh saw that and heard the ugly words he said to Naa’ilah, so he attacked him with a sword and killed him. Then one of the Saba’is attacked the slave and killed him. [Ibid]
After the Saba’is had finished ransacking the house of ‘Uthman, they called out: Let us go and raid the bayt al-maal before anyone else gets there, and take whatever is in it. The guards of the bayt al-maal heard their voices, but there was nothing in it except two containers of food, so they said: Save yourselves, for these people are after worldly gains. The Saba’is attacked the bayt al-maal and ransacked it. [Ibid]
The Saba’i rebels achieved their aim of killing the caliph. But after that, many of the thugs and hooligans who had followed them stopped and thought. They had never thought that it would end with them killing him, but the devilish Saba’is had fooled them and used them to stir up trouble against ‘Uthman. But killing him was something that they found abhorrent and could not accept. These thugs regretted it, and there happened to them the same as happened to the Children of Israel when they worshipped the calf: some of them regretted it as Allah says:
“And the people of Moosa (Moses) made in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of a calf to worship. It had a sound (as if it was mooing). Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor guide them to the way? They took it (for worship) and they were Zaalimoon (wrongdoers). And when they regretted and saw that they had gone astray, they (repented and) said: ‘If our Lord have not mercy upon us and forgive us, we shall certainly be of the losers”‘ [Al-A’raaf 7:148- 149]. [al-bidayah wa’n Nihayah, 7/197,198]
The righteous people in Madinah were grieved by the murder of their caliph, and they began to say Inna Lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return), and wept. But what could they do when the rebel Saba’i armies were occupying Madinah and spreading mischief and preventing its people from doing anything? The de facto ruler of Madinah was the leader of the Egyptian rebels, al-Ghaafiqi ibn Harb al-‘Akki, and they had with them the architect of their devilish plans, ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’, who was rejoicing greatly at the achievement of his fiendish aims.
The senior Sahabah commented on the murder of ‘Uthman, as follows.
(a) az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam (radhiyallahu anhu).
When he learned of the murder of ‘Uthman, he said: May Allah have mercy on ‘Uthman. Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. It was said to him: The people are regretting it. He said: They planned it for a long time, but it is as Allah says:
“And a barrier will be set between them and that which they desire [i.e. At-Tawbah (turning to Allah in repentance) and the accepting of Faith], as was done in the past with the people of their kind. Verily, they have been in grave doubt” [Saba’ 34:54].
(b) Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd-Allah (radhiyallahu anhu).
When he learned of the murder of ‘Uthman, he said: May Allah have mercy on ‘Uthman. Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. It was said to him: The people are regretting it. He said: May they perish! And he recited the words of Allah:
“They await only but a single Sayhah (shout) which will seize them while they are disputing! Then they will not be able to make bequest, nor they will return to their family” [Ya-Seen 36:49, 50].
(c) ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu).
When he learned of the murder of ‘Uthman, he said: May Allah have mercy on ‘Uthman. Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. It was said to him: The people are regretting it. He recited the verse:
“(Their allies deceived them) like Shaytaan (Satan), when he says to man: ‘Disbelieve in Allah’ But when (man) disbelieves in Allah, Shaytaan (Satan) says : ‘I am free of you, I fear Allah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)!’ So the end of both will be that they will be in the Fire, abiding therein. Such is the recompense of the Zaalimoon (i.e. polytheists, wrongdoers, disbelievers in Allah and in His Oneness)” [Al-Hashr 59:16, 17).
(d) Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas (radhiyallahu anhu).
When Sa’d learned of that he said: May Allah have mercy on ‘Uthman. Then he recited the verse: “Say (O Muhammad): ‘Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds?. ‘Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds. ‘They are those who deny the Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord and the Meeting with Him (in the Hereafter). So their works are in vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign no weight for them. ‘That shall be their recompense, Hell; because they disbelieved and took My Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and My Messengers by way of jest and mockery”‘ [Al-Kahf 18:103-106].
Then Sa’d said: O Allah, make them regret it and make them grieve, humiliate them then seize them. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/407,408]
And Allah answered the prayer of Sa’d – who was a man whose prayers were answered – and He seized everyone who had taken part in the murder of ‘Uthman, such as ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’, al-Ghaafiqi, al-Ashtar, Hakeem ibn Jablah and Kinaanah al-Tajeebi, as they were all killed later on. [al-Khulafah’ al-Raashidoon by al-Khaalidi, p. 192]
The date of his murder, his age when he was martyred, his funeral and burial
The date of his murder
There is virtual consensus among historians as to the date of ‘Uthman’s murder. There is no dispute that it took place in 35 AH, apart from the report narrated from Mus’ab ibn ‘Abd-Allah which says that it happened in 36 AH. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/435,436]
This is an odd view which differs from the consensus. Those who were of the first view are a large number, including ‘Abd- Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman, ‘Aamir ibn Shurahbeel al- Sha’bi, Naafi’ the freed slave of Ibn ‘Umar, Makhramah ibn Sulaymaan and many others. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthmtn, 1/193,194]
The historians did not differ concerning the month in which he was killed, which was Dhu’l-Hijjah. But after that, they differed as to the day and hour. Of the many scholarly points of view, it seems most likely to me is that he was martyred on the 18th of Dhu’l- Hijjah 35 AH. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/435]
As for the particular day of the week on which he was killed, there are three views; the one which seems most likely to me is the view of the majority, which is that it was a Friday, because there is no stronger view that contradicts the view of the majority. [op. cit., 5/436]
The time of his killing was the morning. This is the view of the majority and there is no stronger view that contradicts this majority view. [Ibid 5/437]
His age when he was martyred There are conflicting reports about his age when he was martyred, and this is an old dispute. At-Tabari said:
The early generation before us differed as to how old he was. I am inclined to think that he was eighty-two (82) years old when he died. This is the view of the majority and is more likely to be correct for a number of reasons, including the following:
(a) This is the result of comparing the year of his birth with the year of his martyrdom. He was born in the sixth year after the Year of the Elephant, and he was martyred in 35 AH. Subtracting the date of his birth from the date of his martyrdom shows us his age at the time he was martyred.
b) It is the view of the majority and is not contradicted by any stronger view.
His funeral and burial
On the day that he was killed, a number of the Sahabah washed him, shrouded him and carried him, including Hakeem ibn Hizaam, Huwaytib ibn ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, Abu’l-Jahm ibn Hudhayfah, Niyaar ibn Makram al-Aslami, Jubayr ibn Mut’im, az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, and a number of his companions and womenfolk, including his two wives Naa’ilah and Umm al-Baneen bint ‘Utbah ibn Husayn, and two boys. Jubayr ibn Mut’im offered the funeral prayer for him, or it was said that this was done by az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam, Hakeem ibn Hizaam, Marwaan ibn al-Hakam or al-Miswar ibn Makhramah [al-Bidaayah wa’n-Nihaayah, 7/199]
What seems most likely in my view is that the one who offered the funeral prayer for him was az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam, because of the report narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad. This report states that az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam (radhiyallahu anhu) offered the funeral prayer for ‘Uthman and buried him, and that was in accordance with ‘Uthman’s wishes. [al-Mawsoo’ah al-Hadeethiyyah, Musnad al-Imam Ahmad, 1/555. The men of its Isnad are thiqaat (trustworthy), but it is munqati’].
HIe was buried at night; this is supported by the report narrated by Ibn Sa’d and al-Dhahabi, as they said that he was buried between Maghrib and ‘Isha’. [At-Tabaqaat, 3/78]
As for the report narrated by al-Tabaraani via ‘Abd al-Malik ibn al-Maajashoon who said: I heard Maalik say: ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was killed and was left thrown on the garbage heap of Banu Fudaan for three days [al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 1/78; Istishhaad ‘Uthman, p. 194], the isnaad of this report is weak (da’eef) and its text is false. Its isnaad has two faults:
(a) The weakness of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Maajashoon who used to narrate munkar (weird) reports from Imam Maalik.
(b) This report is mursal, because Imam Maalik was not alive at the time of the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), as he was not born until 93 AH.’ [AT-Tahdheeb by Ibn Hajar, 6/408]
As for the text of this report, it is false. Ibn Hazm said concerning it: Whoever says that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was left thrown on a trash heap for three days is lying. This is the fabrication of one who has no shame. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ordered that the bodies of the kuffar who had been slain at Badr be thrown into a dry well, and he threw dirt on top of them even though they were the worst of Allah’s creation. And he ordered that ditches be dug for the slain Jews of Qurayzah, who were the worst of those who are buried in the ground. Burying believers and disbelievers alike is obligatory for the Muslims. So how could anyone who has any sense of shame claim that ‘Ali, who was the most prominent figure and those of the Sahabah who were in Madinah, would leave a dead man on a garbage heap for three days without burying him? [al-Fasl, 4/239, 240]
It would not occur to any man of sound reason who is free from Raafidhi influences that they would leave their leader like that without burying him for three days, no matter how strong those evildoers were who had come to besiege him and kill him. All The Sahabah, as their Lord described them, strove in the way of and did not fear the blame of the blamers [al-Maa’idah 5:54]. Rather these reports are fabrications which were inserted into the history books by the Raafidhis. [‘Aqeedat Ahl al-Sunnah, 3/1091 ]
The innocence of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr with regard to the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
The one who killed ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was an Egyptian man. The reports do not clearly state his name, but they say that he was originally from the tribe of Sadoos and was black skinned. He was nicknamed Jabalah because of the blackness of his skin, and he was also known as al-Mawt al-Aswad (the Black Death). Muhibb al-Deen al-Khateeb was of the view that the killer was ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’ himself, as he said: It is proven that Ibn Saba’ was with the Egyptian rebels when they came from al-Fustaat to Madinah, and in all similar events he was keen to work behind the scenes. Perhaps al- Mawt al-Aswad was a nickname that he wanted to hide behind in order to continue his plots to destroy Islam. [al-‘Awaasim min al-Qawaasim, quoted from Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/207]
What supports this is the fact that Ibn Saba’ was also black skinned. It is narrated in a saheeh report that ‘Ali described him as evil and black skinned. [Lisaan al-Mizaan, 3/290]
As for the accusation that Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr killed ‘Uthman with his arrow head, this is false. There are weak reports which mention that, as well as texts which are regarded as odd because they contradict the saheeh report which states that the killer was an Egyptian man. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/209]
Dr. Yahya al-Yahya lists a number of reasons why Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr is innocent in the murder of ‘Uthman, including the following:
(a) ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) went out to Basra to demand retaliation for the killing of ‘Uthman. If her brother had been one of them she would not have grieved for him when he was killed later on. We will discuss that in detail when we speak of ‘Ali ibn Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu) sometimes later in another post in sha Allah.
(b) ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) cursed the killers of ‘Uthman and disavowed them, which implies that he did not let them become close to him and did not appoint them to any position. But he appointed Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr as governor of Egypt. If Muhammad had been one of them, ‘Ali would not have done that.
(c) The report narrated by Ibn ‘Asaakir with his isnaad from Muhammad ibn Talhah ibn Musarrif who said: I heard Kinaanah the freed slave of Safiyyah bint Huyayy say: I was present when ‘Uthman was killed and I was fourteen years old (at that time), She said: Was Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr involved in his killing at all? He said: AlIah forbid. He entered upon him and ‘Uthman said: O son of my brother, you cannot be the one who kills me; then he went out, and he was not involved in his killing at all. [Marwiyaat Abi Mikhnaf fi Tareekh at-Tabari, p. 243]
This is supported by the report narrated by Khaleefah ibn Khayyaat and al-Tabari with isnaads whose men are trustworthy, from al-Hasan al-Basri – who was one of those who were present on the day of the siege [Tahdheeb al-Kamaal, 6/97] – which says that Ibn Abi Bakr took hold of ‘Uthman’s beard and ‘Uthman said: You are holding me in a way that your father would not do. Then he went out and left him. [Marwiyat Abi Makhnaf, p. 244]
Thus it is clear that Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was innocent in the murder of ‘Uthman, just as the wolf was innocent of the blood of Yoosuf. It is also clear that the reason for this accusation was that he had entered upon him before the murder took place. [Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/209]
Ibn Katheer stated that when ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) spoke to him, he felt ashamed and went back, and he regretted his actions and covered his face, and he tried to defend him, but to no avail. [al-Bidayah wan-Nihaayah, 7/193 ]
Attitude of the Sahabah towards the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
Some history books have distorted the attitude of the Sahabah towards the murder of ‘Uthman. That is due to the Raafidhi reports that are quoted by many historians. The one who studies the events of the turmoil mentioned in Tareekh al-Tabari and other books of history through the reports of Abu Makhnaf, al-Waaqidi, Ibn A’tham and other narrators may get the impression that the Sahabah were the ones who were behind the conspiracy and provoking turmoil. Abu Mikhnaf had Shi’i inclinations and did not refrain from accusing ‘Uthman of being the caliph who made so many mistakes that he deserved what he got. In his reports, Talhah (radhiyallahu anhu) appears as one of those who rebelled against ‘Uthman and incited the people against him. The reports of al-Waaqidi are no different from those of Abu Makhnaf, as they suggest that ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas came to Madinah and started to criticize ‘Uthman. There are many Raafidi reports which accuse the Sahabah of conspiring against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and say that they are the ones who stirred up turmoil and incited the people. These are all lies and fabrications. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah (2/ 14-18)
In contrast to the fabricated and weak Raafidhi reports, the books of the Muhadditheen (scholars of hadeeth) have, praise be to Allah, preserved for us the saheeh reports which show the Sahabah as supporting and defending ‘Uthman, as having nothing to do with his murder and seeking vengeance for him after he was killed. Thus it is very far-fetched to imagine that they would have anything to do with stirring up turmoil or provoking it.”’ [Ibid 2/18]
The Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) are all innocent of shedding the blood of ‘Uthman. If anyone says otherwise, his words are false and no evidence can be presented that reaches the level of being saheeh. Hence Khaleefah narrated in his Tareekh from ‘Abd al-A’la ibn al- Haytham that his father said: I said to al-Hasan: Was there anyone of the Muhajirin or Ansar among those who killed ‘Uthman? He said: No, they were thugs from Egypt.
Imam al-Nawawi said: None of the Sahabah took part in his killing; rather he was killed by thugs and hooligans from the vile, low-class dregs of the tribes. They ganged up against him and came from Egypt, and the Sahabah who were there were unable to ward them off, so they besieged him until they killed him. [Shaheed al-Daar ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan by Ahmad al-Khuroof, p. 148]
Al-Zubayr described them as thugs from the regions. ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) described them as the dregs of the tribes. [Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Saheeh Muslim, 5/148]
Ibn Sa’d described them as the scum of the people who were united in evil. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 1/481]
Ibn Taymiyah described them as evil rebels and transgressors who had gone astray. [Minhaj al-Sunnah, 3/189-206]
Al-Dhahabi described them as the essence of evil and cruelty. [Duwal al-Islam by al-Dhahabi, 1/12]
Ibn al-‘Imaad al- Hanbali described them in al-Shadharaat as evil people from the trash of the tribes. [Tazqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 1/482]
These descriptions are borne out by the conduct of these thugs from the time they began the siege until they killed the caliph unlawfully. How could they withhold food and water from him when he was the one who had often paid from his own pocket to supply water to the Muslims for free and he was the one who had spent a great deal of money on the people at times of famine or calamity. ‘Ali mentioned this when he was rebuking the besiegers and told them: O people, what you are doing is nothing like the deeds of the believers or the disbelievers. Do not withhold water or food from this man, for even the Byzantines and Persians, when they take prisoners, give them food and water. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/400]
The saheeh reports and the events of history confirm that the Sahabah are innocent of inciting people against ‘Uthman or taking any part in the turmoil against him. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 2/18]
There follow comments of the Sahabah which show that they are innocent of shedding the blood of ‘Uthman.
Praise of ahl al-Bayt for ‘Uthman and their innocence of shedding his blood
The attitude of ‘Aa’ishah the Mother of the Believers
(a) It was narrated from Faatimah bint ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al- Yashkuriyyah from her mother that she asked ‘Aa’ishah, at the request of her paternal uncle, saying: One of your sons sends you greetings of salaam and is asking you about ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, as the people are talking a great deal about him. She said: Whoever curses ‘Uthman, may Allah curse him. By Allah, he was sitting with the Prophet of Allah, and the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was leaning his back against me, and Jibreel (alayhis salaam) was revealing Qur’an to him, and he was saying, “Write, ‘Uthman.” By Allah he would not have reached such a status unless he was dear to Allah and His Messenger. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 1/378 ]
(b) It was narrated from Masrooq that ‘Aa’ishah said, when ‘Uthman was killed: You left him like a clean garment, then you decided to slaughter him like a ram. Masrooq said to her: This is your doing; you wrote to the people telling them to rebel against him. ‘Aa’ishah said: No, by the One in Whom the believers believe and the disbelievers disbelieve. I have never written anything to them up till now. [Fitnah Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/391]
We have already seen how the Saba’is told lies and wrote letters to the people of the regions that they fabricated and falsely attributed to ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha).
(c) When she heard of the death of ‘Uthman on her way back from Makkah to Madinah, she went back to Makkah and entered al-Masjid al-Haraam, and she went and hid behind the Hijr, and the people gathered around her. She said: O people, the thugs from the various regions and the slaves of Madinah got together because some thugs criticized this one who has been slain for being wise and smart and for appointing those who were young, even though people of the same age had been appointed before him. (And they criticized him) for increasing the area of the grazing lands, although that had been done before and there was no alternative. ‘Uthman debated with them and explained to them, but when they could find no excuse they got upset and hastened to attack him, so their actions proved to be different from their words. They shed haraam blood and violated the sanctity of the holy land, they took haraam wealth and violated the sacred month. By Allah, one finger of ‘Uthman is better than an earthful of people like them. Protect yourselves by going after them so as to make an example of them for others. By Allah, if there was any wrongdoing on ‘Uthman’s part that led them to kill him, that wrongdoing could be taken away from him like dross from gold or like dirt from a garment when it is washed. [Tareekh at-Tabari, 5/473, 474]
In contrast to the good picture that may be drawn from these sound reports of the relationship between the Mother of the Believers ‘Aa’ishah and ‘Uthman, there are still other reports narrated by al-Tabari and others which depict the relationship between ‘Aa’ishah and ‘Uthman as contrary to what we have seen, and they distort the image of the positive role that she played in defending the sacred limits of Allah and defending ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), and her understanding of the games played by the saba’is. [ [Dawr al-Mar’ah al-Siyaasi fi ‘Ahd al-Nabi wa’l-Khulafa’ al-Raashideen, p. 352]
The reports that were narrated in al-‘Aqd al-Fareed, al-Aghaani, Tareekh al-Ya’qoobi. Tareekh al-Mas’oodi and Ansaab al-Ashraaf and the conclusions they reached concerning the political role played by ‘Aa’ishah during the era of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, may lead one to criticize the political stance taken by ‘Aa’ishah but they are not to be relied on because they contradict the saheeh reports and because they are based on weak reports. [See also concerning these false conclusions: al-Siddeeqah bint al-Siddeeq by al-‘Aqqaad, p. 116-124]
Most of the reports have no isnaad and those that do have isnaads have faulty isnaads so they cannot be taken as evidence. This is in addition to the fact that their texts are corrupt when compared to other reports that are more sound and closer to the truth. [Dawr al-Mar’ah al-Siyaasi, p. 370 ]
Asma’ Muhammad Ahmad Ziyaadah has undertaken a study of the isnaads and texts of the reports which speak of the political role played by ‘Aa’ishah in the events of the turmoil, and she criticized the reports which speak of a difference of political opinion between ‘Aa’ishah and ‘Uthman, as narrated by at-Tabari and others, and she demonstrated that they are false. Then she said: It would be more appropriate for us to ignore all of these reports – as mentioned above – because they have not reached us through proper channels, rather the way in which they have reached us is via narrators who are accused of being Shi’is, liars and Raafidhis. But we examined them because they are widely known in most modern studies, and in order to prove that they are worthless reports. These reports – as is clear to us – try to create a history that never happened at all, of conflict and enmity between ‘Uthman and ‘Aa’ishah, and between ‘Uthman and all the Sahabah. [op. cit., p. 370]
If it is proven that ‘Aa’ishah agreed with the rebels to incite the people against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), one would expect her to give some justification to the rebels, but there are no sound reports at all to that effect. If any of these reports which speak of ‘Aa’ishah’s attitude towards the killing of ‘Uthman were sound, they would take away the credibility of ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) and the Sahibah who took the same stance as her. This is something that we cannot accept because of the true texts from Allah and His Messenger which confirm their credibility, which on its own would be sufficient to refute these reports. But we have examined these reports just to confirm that they are worthless and that all conclusions based on them are worthless, so that all evidence based on religious texts and scientific and historical evidence comes together and supports one another. [Daur al-Mar’ah al-Siyaasi, p. 371]
‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu)
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and the Ahl al-Bayt respected ‘Uthman and acknowledged his rights.
(a) The first one to swear allegiance to ‘Uthman after ‘Abd al- Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf was ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib. [al-Bukhaari, Kitab Fadaa’il al-Sahabah, no. 3700]
It was narrated that Qays ibn ‘Abbaad said: I heard ‘Ali say, when ‘Uthman was mentioned:
He is a man of whom the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Should I not feel shy before the one before whom the angels feel shy?’ [Muslim, Kitaab Fadaa’il al-Sahabah, no. 2401 (Al-Hakim 3/95)]
(b) He testified that he had been given glad tidings of Paradise. It was narrated that al-Nazzaal ibn Saburah said: I asked ‘Ali about ‘Uthman and he said: He is a man who is called Dhun- Noorayn by the exalted assembly (angels). He was the son-in- law of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and was married to two of his daughters, and he was guaranteed a house in Paradise. [al-‘Aqeedah fi Ahl al-Bayt bayna al-lfraat wa’l-Tafreet, p. 227]
(c) ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was obedient to ‘Uthman and acknowledged his position as leader and caliph, and he did not disobey any command. lbn Abi Shaybah narrated with his isnaad from Ibn al-Hanafiyyah that ‘Ali said: If ‘Uthman told me to march to Siraar, I would hear and obey. [al-Sunan by al-Khallaal, 1/325, no. 416. Its isnad is saheeh].
This is indicative of the extent of his willingness to follow and obey ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them both).
(d) When ‘Uthman united the people in reading one recitation of the Qur’an, after consulting the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and reaching consensus on that, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) said: If I were in his position I would have done the same as he has done. [al-Sunan by al-Bayhaqi, 2/42]
(e) Hence ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) denounced the killing of ‘Uthman and declared his innocence of shedding his blood. He swore oaths in his khutbahs and at other times stating that he did not kill him and that he did not order his killing or support it or approve of it. That has been proven from him in definitive reports [Bidaayah wa’n-Nihaayah, 7/202], contrary to what the Raafidis claim, that he approved of the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). [al-‘Aqeedah fi Ahl al-bayt bayna al-lfrat wa’l-Tafreet, p. 229]
After mentioning some of the reports that speak of his murder, al-Haakim said: As for that which is claimed by some of the innovators, that the Ameer al-Mu’mineen ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib helped (in the killing of ‘Uthman), that is a lie and a fabrication. The mutawaatir reports say otherwise. [al-Mustadrak, 3/103]
Ibn Taymiyah said: This is all a lie against ‘Ali and a fabrication against him. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) did not take part in the murder of ‘Uthman, nor did he order it or approve of it. That was narrated from him and he was truthful and honest. [Minhaaj al-Sunnah, 4/406]
‘Ali said: O Allah, I declare my innocence before You of shedding the blood of ‘Uthman. [al-Aqeedah fi Ahl al Bayt, p. 230. Its isnad is hasan].
Al-Haakim narrated with his isnaad from Qays ibn ‘Abbaad that he said: I heard ‘Ali on the day of the Camel saying: O Allah, I declare my innocence before You of shedding the blood of ‘Uthman; I was beside myself with grief on the day when ‘Uthman was killed, and I felt very distressed when they came to swear allegiance to me. I said: By Allah, I feel ashamed before Allah to accept the allegiance of people who killed a man of whom the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Should I not feel shy before the one before whom the angels feel shy? [Al-Hakim 3/95]
I feel ashamed before Allah to accept allegiance when ‘Uthman is lying slain on the ground and has not yet been buried. So they went away, but when ‘Uthman had been buried, the people came back and asked me to accept their allegiance, and I said: By Allah, I am worried about what to do. Then I decided to go ahead and accept their oaths of allegiance. When they said, O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, it was as if it gave me a shock, and I said: O Allah, take (hasanaat) from me and give them to ‘Uthman until You are pleased. [Op. cit., 1/559,560. Its isnad has corroborating evidence].
Imam Ahmad narrated with his isnaad from Muhammad ibn -Hanafiyyah that he said: ‘Ali heard that ‘Aa’ishah was cursing the killers of ‘Uthman in al-Mirbad ( A place near Basra, approximately three miles away). He raised his hands until they reached his face, then he said: And I also curse the killers of ‘Uthman may Allah curse them in the plains and in the mountains. He said it two or three times. [Fadaa’il al-Sahabah, 1/555, no. 733, its isnad is saheeh].
Ibn Sa’d narrated with his isnaad from Ibn ‘Abbaas that ‘Ali said: By Allah, I did not kill ‘Uthman and I did not order that he be killed, rather I tried to stop it. By Allah, I did not kill ‘Uthman and I did not order that he be killed, but I was overpowered. He said it three times. [al-Bidayah wan-Nihaayah, 7/202]
It was also narrated that he said: Whoever disavows the religion of ‘Uthman has disavowed faith. By Allah, I did not help with his murder and I did not order it or approve of it. [al-Riyaadh al-Nadrah, p. 543]
(f) And ‘Ali said of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu): He was the one among us who upheld ties of kinship the most, and he was the one who feared the Lord the most.” [Sifat al-Safwah, 1/306]
(g) It was narrated that Abu ‘Awn said: I heard Muhammad ibn Haatib say: I asked ‘Ali about ‘Uthman and he said: He was one of those who believed and feared Allah, then believed and feared Allah. But he did not complete the verse. (Al- Maa’idah 5:93). [Fadaa’il al-Sahbah, 1/580 Its isnad is saheeh]
(h) It was narrated that ‘Umayrah ibn Sa’d said: We were with ‘Ali on the banks of the Euphrates, when a ship passed by with its sails raised. ‘Ali said: Allah says: “And His are the ships going and coming in the seas, like mountains” (Ar-Rahmaan 55:24). By the One Who caused them to sail in one of His seas, I did not kill ‘Uthman and I did not support anyone in killing him. [Op. cit., 1/559,560. Its isnad has corroborating evidence].
(i) Imam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad that Muhammad ibn Haatib said: I heard ‘Ali say: “Verily, those for whom the good has preceded from Us, they will be removed far therefrom (Hell)” [AI-Anbiya’ 21:101]
– ‘Uthman is one of them. [op. cit., 1/580, no. 771. Its isnad is saheeh].
And ‘Ali said: I became ill on the day ‘Uthman was killed. [Al-Muntazam fi Tareekh al-Mulook wa’l-Umam, 5/61]
Al-Haafiz ibn ‘Asaakir compiled all the reports from ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) in which he declared his innocence of the murder of ‘Uthman. He would swear oaths to that effect in his khutbahs and on other occasions, swearing that he did not kill him or approve of that. This is proven from him in reports that are regarded as definitive by many of the imams of hadeeth. [al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah, 7/193]
‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu anhu)
Imam Ahmad narrated with his isnad from Ibn ‘Abbaas that he said: If all the people had gathered to kill ‘Uthman, they would have been stoned the way the people of Loot were stoned. [Fada’il al-Sahabah, 1/563, no. 746].
And he (radhiyallahu anhu) said, praising ‘Uthman and condemning those who criticized him: May Allah have mercy on Abu ‘Amr. He was, by Allah, the noblest and most righteous of men, who prayed a great deal at the time before dawn, shed many tears when he remembered the Fire, the first to do righteous deeds and to offer help at the time of calamity, beloved, confident and loyal, the one who equipped the army of Tabook, the son-in-law of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). May Allah punish those who curse him with the curse of those who curse until the Day of Judgement. [Al-‘Aqeedah fi Ahl al-Bayt, p. 234]
Zayd ibn ‘Ali
Ibn ‘Asaakir narrated with his isnaad from al-Saddi that he said: I came to him – i.e., Zayd – when he was in Baariq, one of the quarters of Kufah, and I said to him: You are our leader and are in charge of our affairs. What do you say about Abu Bakr and ‘Umar? He said: You should love them. And he used to say that disavowing Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman was disavowing ‘Ali, and that disavowing ‘Ali was disavowing Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. [Al-‘Aqeedah fi Ahl al-Bayt, p. 335]
‘Ali ibn al-Husayn
It is proven that ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn disavowed the Raafidhi view about Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmn (radhiyallahu anhum). Abu Nu’aym narrated with his isnaad from Muhammad ibn ‘Ali that his father ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn said: Some people of Iraq sat together and spoke of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and they criticized them, then they started criticizing ‘Uthman. He said to them: Tell me, are you among the first Muhajirin
“who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking Bounties from Allah and to please Him, and helping Allah (i.e. helping His religion – lslamic Monotheism) and His Messenger (Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)” [Al-Hashr 59:8]?
They said: No. he said: Are you among those who
“Before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them” [Al-Hashr 59:9]?
They said: No. He said to them: You have confirmed and testified against yourselves that you are neither from this group nor that, and I bear witness against you that you are not of the third group of whom Allah says:. ..
“And those who came afer them say: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed” [Al- Hashr 59:10]
Go away and leave me; may Allah not bless you and may He keep you away from us. You are mocking Islam and you are not of its followers. [al-‘Aqeedah fi Ahl al-Bayt, p. 236]
The attitude of ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir
In the historical reports that may contain sound or fabricated material, it says that there had been a dispute between ‘Ammaar and ‘Uthman. Some of these reports have isnaads and some have no isnaad at all. I have not come across anyone who examined and analyzed these reports except a few, therefore it is not possible to leave these reports, which undermine the dignity of the Sahabah without examining them. [‘Ammar ibn Yaasir, by Usaamah Ahmad Sultaan, p. 122 ]
The beating of ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir
The reports which speak of ‘Uthman’s beating ‘Ammaar are regarded as the most famous and numerous of these reports (which undermine the dignity of the Sahabah). The fabricators of these reports mentioned the different methods supposedly used by ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) in beating ‘Ammaar and the different consequences that followed, but in addition to their isnads being corrupt, the texts themselves are weird and incredible. [ ‘Ammar ibn Yaasir, by Usaamah Ahmad Sultaan, p. 122]
Al-Qaadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi says in al-‘Awaasim, when discussing the lies that are attributed to ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu): With regard to his beating Ibn Mas’ood and withholding his stipend, this is false, and his beating of ‘Ammaar is also a fabrication. If he had disembowelled him he would not have lived at all. Some scholars tried to find an acceptable way of interpreting this report, but no attention should have been paid to it in the first place, because it is all false and no truth can be based on falsehood. We should not go along with the ignorant because it is a waste of time. [ al-‘Awaasim min al-Qawaasim, p. 82-84]
‘Uthman’s age, faith, modesty, gentleness, kindness, soft nature, seniority in Islam and status all put him far above sinking to this level in attitude towards a man who was one of the most senior of the companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), whose seniority and virtue ‘Uthman recognized despite the differences in opinion that arose between them. Would ‘Uthman be able to do that when he was insisting that the people should not fight to defend him and was content to die, patiently seeking reward and to protect Muslim blood from being shed and prevent widespread turmoil? Would he accept to do to ‘Ammaar – when he was well aware of his seniority and virtue in Islam – what is mentioned in the false reports, namely ordering his slaves to beat him until he lost consciousness, then stepping on his stomach when he was in that state? Would the character and modesty of ‘Uthman allow him to demonstrate the Jaahili attitude of insulting ‘Ammaar by slandering his mother Sumayyah, who was one of the earliest Muslims and a woman of great virtue, when ‘Uthman knew of the honour that accrued to ‘Ammaar by virtue of his being the son of his mother Sumayyah (radhiyallahu anha), the first martyr in Islam?
No, this is not true at all, because in the sound reports there is no indication at all that ‘Uthman could sink to such a low level in rebuking and disciplining. Moreover, his attitude, nature and character make that very unlikely. There is no doubt that examining these fabricated reports against what is known of the attitude and character of these prominent figures, and taking into account the standards of the era, is the best way to expose the fabrication and the fabricators. [al-Khalifah al-Muftara ‘alayhi ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, p. 14-41]
Accusation against ‘Ammaar of taking part in the turmoil and stirring up trouble against ‘Uthman
In attributing these fabrications to ‘Ammaar (radhiyallahu anhu), the historians relied on reports none of which were free of weakness in their isnaads or texts. Different accusations were levelled against ‘Ammaar (radhiyallahu anhu) about his stirring up turmoil, inciting people against ‘Uthman and inciting them to rebel against him. Some of these reports say that ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) sent word to him in Egypt to find out what was happening with regard to what they had heard about the people rebelling, and that the Saba’is had managed to influence ‘Ammaar. The isnaad of this report, which was narrated by al-Tabari, includes Shu’ayb ibn Ibraaheem al-Tameemi al-Kufi, the narrator of the books of Sayf, about whom there is some ambiguity. Al-Raawi said concerning him: He is not known, although he has some ahaadeeth and reports in which there is some weirdness and they contain a lot of bias against the salaf. [Istishhaad ‘Uthman wa Waq’ah al-Jamal, p. 30]
It was also narrated by ‘Umar ibn Shabbah in Tareekh al-Madinah, where its isnaad includes the Shaykh of ‘Umar, ‘Ali ibn ‘Aasim, of whom Ibn al- Madeeni said: ‘Ali ibn ‘Aasim made a lot of mistakes, and when corrected, he would not retract. He was known for narrating hadeeth and he narrated weird ahadeeth. [Siyar A’laam an-Nubala’, 9/253]
Yahya ibn Ma’een said: He is worthless. And on one occasion he said: He is a liar and worthless. [ibid]
Al-Nasaa’i said: His hadeeth is to be ignored.’ [Ibid]
Al-Bukhaari said: He is not sound according to them, and they criticized them. And they criticized him. [Ibid]
And there were some who tried to be tactful about him. Ibn Hajar said concerning him: He is sadooq but he makes mistakes and insists on them, and he was accused of being a Shi’i.[Taqreeb al-Tahdheeb, p. 403]
A report whose isnad is like this cannot be easily accepted, especially when it is known that ‘Ammaar was a pious man whose piety would prevent him from indulgmg in such things. We do not know of anyone who would indulge in such dirty work except a hate-filled Saba’i Jew. Allah forbid that a Sahaabi, one of the companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), could sink to such a low level. Khaalid al-Ghayth says: This report contradicts what has been proven of the dignity of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), in addition to the fact that it was not narrated via any sound isnaad. [lstishhaad ‘Uthman wa Waq’at al-Jamal, p. 86]
Among the false reports that have been narrated concerning this matter is that which was attributed to Sa’eed ibn al- Musayyab, in which it says that the Sahabah in general were upset with ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) in addition to others who were also upset, and they got angry with him, especially Abu Dharr; Ibn Mas’ood and ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir (radhiyallahu anhum). [Tareekh Dimashq, 39/415]
The problem with this report is that it contains a kind of deception (tadlees) that cannot be approved or overlooked, because the name of a narrator who is accused of fabricating and telling lies was dropped from the isnaad, namely Isma’eel ibn Yahya ibn ‘Ubayd-Allah. Hence the scholars of hadeeth determined that this report is weak and stated that it is a false report, when they discussed the biography of Muhammad ibn ‘Eesa ibn Samee’, the one who narrated this report from Ibn Abi Dhi’b. Imam al-Bukhaari said concerning Ibn Samee’: It was said that he did not hear this hadeeth from Ibn Abi Dhi’b, meaning this hadeeth from al-Zuhri about the murder of ‘Uthman Ibn Hibbaan said: Ibn Samee’ did not hear this hadeeth from Ibn Abi Dhi’b, rather he heard it from Ismaa’eel ibn Yahya, so he resorted to tadlees (deception) by dropping the name of Ismaa’eel]. Al-Haakim said: Abu Muhammad – meaning Ibn Samee’ – narrated a weird (munkar) hadeeth from Ibn Abi Dhi’b, which is the hadeeth about the murder of ‘Uthman. It was said in his book: From Ismaa’eel ibn Yahya from Ibn Abi Dhi’b, but he dropped the name of Ismaa’eel ibn Yahya, and Ismaa’eel is worthless when it comes to hadeeth. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 2/16-18]
Dr Yoosuf al-‘Ishsh said: The report that is attributed to Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyab must be ignored, because upon examination it is obviously fabricated. Al- Haakim al-Nisaboori stated that one of the men in its isnaad dropped the name of another man who was worthless, and it is odd (munkar). The fact of the matter is that this report does not show any of the respect that Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyab showed to the Sahabah in his other, sound reports. [al-Dawlah al-Umawiyyah, 39 ]
‘Ammaar’s innocence of the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
The report about Masrooq and Abu Moosa (radhiyallahu anhu) accusing ‘Ammaar of that when he came with al-Hasan to incite the people of Kufah is regarded as weak because of Shu’ayb, who is unknown, and Sayf who is very weak. The report in Saheeh al- Bukhaari does not say anything about that, so this extra material cannot be accepted, especially since it casts aspersions upon a Sahaabi such as ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir, whom the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayed would be protected against the shaytaan [Al-Bukhaari, no. 3743] and who was filled to the brim with faith. [Ammaar ibn Yaasir, p. 147]
The scholars explained that this accusation, which is not limited only to ‘Ammaar but also included other Sahabah, is false. Ibn Katheer said: As for what was said by some people, that some of the Sahabah let ‘Uthman down and were pleased when he was killed, this is not narrated in any sound report from any of the Sahabah, rather all of them objected to it and cursed the ones who did it. [al-Bidaayah wa’n-Nihaayah, 7/207]
al-Qaadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi said: This is the best that was narrated concerning this issue, thus it becomes clear – and in order to reach the right conclusion we must follow the people of truth – that none of the Sahabah ever incited anyone against ‘Uthman or forsook him. If ‘Uthman had sought the help of others, one thousand or four thousand strangers would not have been able to overwhelm twenty thousand or more locals, but he let himself into this calamity.[al-‘Awaasim min al-Qawaasim, p. 129]
And he said: The evildoers and the ignorant started saying that the virtuous Sahabah had caused trouble to him and had incited people against him, and that they were pleased about what had happened to him. These evildoers and ignorant people fabricated in their books letters in which there was some eloquence and which were supposedly written by ‘Uthman, which show him seeking the support of ‘Ali. But this is all a fabrication, aimed at damaging the image of the salaf and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs in the minds of the Muslims. The conclusion we may reach is that ‘Uthman was killed unlawfully and was accused with no evidence, and that all of the Sahabah are innocent of shedding his blood, because they did what he wanted them to do and they fulfilled his wish to be left to face his fate.[ibid]
‘Amr’s innocence of the murder of ‘Uthman
When ‘Uthman was surrounded, ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas left Madinah and headed for Syria. He said: By Allah O people of Madinah, no one will stay in Madinah until the time when this man is killed, but Allah will humiliate him. Whoever cannot support him, let him flee. So he left and his two sons ‘Abd-Allah and Muhammad left with him. Hassaan ibn Thabit left after him, and they were followed by others whom Allah willed should go. [Tareekh at-Tabari, quoting from ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas by al-Ghadbaan, p. 464]
When the news of ‘Uthman’s murder and the people’s swearing allegiance to ‘Ali came to him, ‘Amr said: I am Abu ‘Abd-Allah (i.e., I know what is going on); there will be war and whoever takes part in it will make it worse. May Allah have mercy on ‘Uthman and may Allah be pleased with him and forgive him. Salaamah ibn Zanbaagh al-Judhaami said: O Arabs, there was a door between you and the Arabs; now set up a new door if the first door is broken. ‘Amr said: That is what we want, a ruler who deals with the people on the basis of equality.
Then he started weeping and saying: O ‘Uthman, true modesty and religious commitment have departed with him, until he reached Damascus. [Tareekh at-Tabari, quoting from ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas by al-Ghadbaan, p. 481]
This is the true image of ‘Amr (radhiyallahu anhu), which is in harmony with his character, attitudes and closeness to ‘Uthman. As for the distorted image that was presented of him as an ambitious opportunist and seeker of worldly gains, this is a report which is weak and is to be rejected, the report of al-Waaqidi from Moosa ibn Ya’qoob.
A number of writers and historians were influenced by these weak reports, so they presented ‘Amr in a very negative manner, such as that which was written by Mahmoud Sheet Khattaab, ‘Abd al-Khaaliq Sayyid Abu Raadiyah and ‘Abbaas Mahmoud al-‘Aqqaad who refuses to look at the isnaad and thinks little of his readers’ intelligence, and presents an image of Mu’awiyah and ‘Amr as opportunists and seekers of worldly gains. The fact that all the historical critics agreed that all the reports that he used to reach this conclusion are false means nothing to al-‘Aqqaad. After quoting these weak reports on which no conclusion can be based, he said: Let the historical critics say what they like with regard to how true this debate was and how sound these words are and what is proven and not proven with regard to the isnaad and text. What we have no doubt about, even if all the books of history come together to reject it, is that the agreement between the two men was based on an agreement that each of them would have his share and would cooperate to attain the position of rulers and governors, otherwise there would be no deal at all. [Amr ibn al-‘Aas by al-‘Aqqaad, p. 231, 232]
The true character of ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) was that he was a man of principle who left Madinah when he felt unable to defend ‘Uthman, and he wept bitterly for him when he was killed. He was one of the closest of his companions, friends and consultants and he was included in the shoora council at the time of ‘Uthman even though he was not the governor of any province. He went to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) to cooperate with him in fighting the murderers of ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan and avenging the slain caliph. [‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas by al-Ghadbaan, p. 489, 490]
The murder of ‘Uthman was sufficient to create anger in the hearts of both men against the criminals who had shed blood and they had no option but to select a place other than Madinah to take revenge on those who had violated the sanctity of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and slain his caliph in front of the people. What is so strange about ‘Amr being angry for the sake of ‘Uthman? If anyone has any doubt about this matter, this doubt is based on false reports which depict ‘Amr as a man whose main aim was power and authority. [Ibid]
Comments of the Sahabah about the fitnah
Anas ibn Maalik (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was said to Anas ibn Maalik: No one can love both ‘Ali and ‘Uthman. Anas said: They are lying. We love both of them. [Amr ibn al-‘Aas by al-Ghadbaan, p. 489, 490]
Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated that Khaalid ibn al-Rabee’ said: We heard that Hudhayfah was sick, so Abu Mas’ood al-Ansari (radhiyallahu anhu) went to him with a number of people in al-Madaa’in. Then mention was made of ‘Uthman’s murder and he said: I was not present and I did not kill him or approve of that. [Ibid]
Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrated from Ibn Sireen that Hudhayfah said, when news of ‘Uthman’s murder reached him: O Allah, You know that I am innocent of the blood of ‘Uthman. Even if those who killed him did the right thing, I have nothing to do with them, and if they did the wrong thing, You know that I am innocent of his blood, and the Arabs will know that if his murder was the right thing things would improve and if it was the wrong thing there would be bloodshed. But all they got was bloodshed, and war and killing have not stopped since then. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 2/28]
Ibn ‘Asaakir narrated from Jundub ibn ‘Abd-Allah – who met the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) – that he met Hudhayfah and mentioned the case of the caliph ‘Uthman to him, and he said: They will kill him. I said: Where will he be? He said: In Paradise. I said: Where will his killers be? He said: In hell. [Ibid]
Umm Sulaym al-Ansariyyah (radhiyallahu anha)
Umm Sulaym al-Ansariyyah (radhiyallahu anha) said, when she heard of the killing of ‘Uthman; they will not get anything after this but bloodshed.”‘ [al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah, 7/195]
Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) It was narrated that Abu Maryam said: I saw Abu Hurayrah on the day when ‘Uthman was killed, with two braids, and he was holding onto them and saying: By Allah, ‘Uthman was killed unlawfully. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 2/31]
Abu Bakrah (radhiyallahu anhu) Ibn Katheer narrated in al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihayah that Abu Bakrah (radhiyallahu anhu) said: To be thrown from heaven to earth would be dearer to me than having any part in the murder of ‘Uthman. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 2/31]
Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated from Abu ‘Uthman al-Nahdi that Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (radhiyallahu anhu) said: If the killing of ‘Uthman was guided, then sincerity would have brought something good out of this action, but it was misguided so it brought bloodshed. [Tareeq al-Madinah, 4/1245]
Samurah ibn Jundub (radhiyallahu anhu)
Ibn ‘Asaakir narrated with his isnaad that Samurah ibn Jundub (radhiyallahu anhu) said: Islam was in a strong fortress, but they breached this defence by killing ‘Uthman and damaged it in many places, and they will not be able to repair the gaps or fill them until the Day of Resurrection. The caliphate was among the people of Madinah but it was taken out and it is no longer among them. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabuh, 2/31]
Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu)
Abu Nu’aym narrated in Ma’rifat al-Sahabah with his isnaad that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan Dhu’n-Noorayn was killed unlawfully and he will be given a double reward. [Ma’rifat al-Sahabah, 1/245]
‘Abd-Allah ibn Salaam (radhiyallahu anhu)
He said: Do not kill ‘Uthman, for if you kill him you will never pray together again. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 2/34]
According to another report: By Allah, you will not shed even a little of his (‘Uthman’s) blood but that will push you further away from Allah. [Al-Tabaqaat, 3/81]
al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated that Talq ibn Khashshaaf said: We went to Madinah and Qart ibn Khaythamah was with us. We met al- Hasan ibn ‘Ali and Qart said to him: Why was the ameer al- mu’mineen ‘Uthman killed? He said: He was killed unlawfully. [Tareekh al-Madinah, 4/145 ]
Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated that Yazeed ibn Abi ‘Ubaydah said: When ‘Uthman was killed, Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ – who had been present at Badr – left Madinah and headed for al-Ribdhah, and he stayed there until just before he died. [Ibid]
‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu)
It was narrated that Abu Haazim said: I was with ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab and he mentioned ‘Uthman and his virtues, his attributes and his relationship through marriage to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) so that he depicted him as purer than glass. Then he mentioned ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib and mentioned his virtues, his seniority in Islam and his relationship through marriage to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) until he depicted him as purer than glass. Then he said: Whoever wants to talk about these two, let him talk about them in this manner or else not speak at all. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah, 1/379]
Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) also said: Do not revile ‘Uthman, for we used to regard him as one of the best of us. [ibid]
The effect of ‘Uthman’s murder in creating further turmoil and division
The turmoil of ‘Uthman’s murder was the cause of a great deal of further turmoil and it cast its shadow on the events that followed it. People’s hearts changed and lying became widespread, and deviation from the laws and teachings of Islam began from that point. [Op. cit., p. 590]
The murder of ‘Uthman was one of the greatest causes of fitnah among people; because of it the ummah became divided and has remained so until today. [Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 25/162]
Hatred was created against one another and there were many calamities; evildoers prevailed and the righteous were humiliated, those who had previously been unable to create division now became active and those who loved good were unable to do good. They swore allegiance to ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (radhiyallahu anhu), who was the most entitled to become caliph at that point, and was the best of those who remained, but people were divided and the fire of fitnah had been lit. There was no unity and no discipline, and the caliph and the best of the ummah were not able to achieve all they wanted of goodness, and many people took part in spreading fitnah and division. [op. cit., 25/163]
The conquest movement grew gradually weaker in the last few years of ‘Uthman’s caliphate, when the turmoil began in the Muslim lands and the centre of the caliphate. Then it ceased when ‘Uthman was killed. That continued to be the case, and there was even some loss of conquered lands, until the beginning of Mu’awiyah’s reign, when the Muslims’ affairs stabilized and the conquests began in the east, west and north. [Ahdaath wa Ahaadeeth Fitnat al-Haraj, p. 591]
Wronging and transgressing against others are causes of doom in this world and in the Hereafter
Wronging and transgressing against others unlawfully are causes of doom in this world and in the Hereafter, as Allah says:
“And these towns (population, ‘Aad, Thamood) We destroyed them when they did wrong. And We appointed a fixed time for their destruction” [Al-Kahf 18:59].
The one who researches what happened to those who rebelled against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and transgressed against him will find that Allah did not give them respite rather He humiliated them and wreaked vengeance on them, and none was spared. [Tahqeeq Mawaaqif al-Sahabah fil-Fitnah, 1/483]
Khaleefah ibn Khayyaat narrated in his Tareekh with a saheeh isnaad that ‘Imraan ibn al-Hudayr said: ‘Abd-Allah ibn Shaqeeq told me that the first drop of ‘Uthman’s blood fell on the words
“So Allah will suffice for you against them” [Al-Baqarah 2:137],
As Abu Hurayth mentioned that he and Suhayl al-Numayri went and took out the Mus-haf, and the drop of blood on (the words)
“So Allah will suffice for you against them” [Al-Baqarah 2:137]
is still in the Mus-haf and has not been erased. In Tareekh ibn ‘Asaakir it is narrated that Muhammad ibn Sireen said: I was circumambulating the Ka’bah and I saw a man saying: O Allah, forgive me, but I don’t think You will forgive me. I said: O slave of Allah, I have never heard anyone saying what you are saying. He said: I promised Allah that if I could slap ‘Uthman on the face I would do so. When he was killed and placed on the bier in the house, and the people were coming to pay their last respects, I entered as if I wanted to pay my last respects, and I found myself alone with him. I lifted the cloth from his face and slapped his face, then I covered him again. Now my right arm is paralyzed. Muhammad ibn Sireen said: I saw it, like a piece of wood. [Siyar al-Shuhada’, Duroos wa Ibar by al-Suhaybaani, p. 67]
Were it the case that nothing resulted from the wrongdoing of these haters except the Muslims unsheathing their swords against them until the Day of Resurrection, that would be a sufficient deterrent to them and everyone who joined them. al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad said: ‘Ali passed by two men in Madinah, after ‘Uthman had been killed and before allegiance was sworn to him, and they were saying: Ibn al-Bayda’ (i.e., ‘Uthman) has been killed and his seniority in Islam and position among the Arabs was well known, but by Allah no one is seeking to avenge him. ‘Ali said: What did you say? He repeated it and ‘Ali said: No, by Allah, a lot of men will be killed and there will be a great deal of fighting, until the son of Maryam appears. [Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah, 1/48]
The Muslims’ sorrow at the murder of ‘Uthman
The calamity had a great impact on the believers; they were overwhelmed with grief and their eyes filled with tears; they spoke in praise of ‘Uthman and prayed for mercy for him. Hassaan ibn Thabit (radhiyallahu anhu) eulogized the caliph and lamented his killing a great deal, condemning the murderers and their actions. [Siyar al-Shuhada, p. 62]
Ka’b ibn Maalik also lamented the murder of ‘Uthman in verse:
Then he restrained his hands and closed his door,
And he was certain that Allah is not forgetful,
He said to the people of the house, Do not kill them! May Allah pardon every man who does not fight.
So how have you seen Allah pour out upon them Enmity and hatred after harmony with each other!
And how you have seen the good turning back from people
After him, the way the driving winds turn (the clouds) back!
And the close of our request is: All praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.