After returning, these people began to engage in written correspondence again. Ultimately, it was decided that according to their initial plan, in Shawwal, everyone would set out in the form of a caravan under the pretence of performing hajj and then enter Madinah where they would suddenly upset the entire system and change the system of government as per their own liking. According to this proposal, in Shawwal, i.e. the tenth lunar month, in the twelfth year of the Khilafat of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) or 36 A.H., the rebels left their homes in the form of three caravans. One caravan was from Basrah, one from Kufah and one from Egypt. Keeping in mind the previous failure and considering that this was a final attempt, ‘Abdullah bin Saba also left for Madinah along with the caravan from Egypt. The chief of the rebels stepping out himself, was an indication of the fact that these people would now attempt to achieve their objective with the use of every possible tactic. As all the parties had outwardly expressed their intention of going for hajj in their respective regions, other people who actually intended to perform hajj also joined them. In this manner, their true intentions remained hidden from the ordinary Muslims. However, since the governors knew of their internal conspiracy, ‘Abdullah bin Abi Sarah, the governor of Egypt, dispatched a special emissary to inform Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of the caravan and their intentions in good time and the people of Madinah became vigilant.
At this instance, the question arises that when the people of Madinah and especially the companions desired to execute these mischief-makers upon their arrival to Madinah on three separate occasions; and whereas the rebels knew that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was well aware of their plan of coming and creating disorder under the pretence of performing hajj, why then did these people set out according to their initial plan, which Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was well aware of, instead of devising another plan? Does this mean that in actuality the people of Madinah were with these mischief-makers and this is why they were not afraid? The answer to this question is that no doubt, this audacity of theirs demonstrates that they had full confidence in their victory. However, the reason for this was not because the companions or the people of Madinah were with them or expressed sympathy for them; rather, as is evident from their own statement, only three people of Madinah were with them. Furthermore, as events establish, the companions as well as the other residents of Madinah were extremely averse to these people. Hence, the reason for their daring behaviour cannot be due to the fact that the companions or the people of Madinah expressed any kind of sympathy towards them. The actual reason for the boldness of these people was firstly the mercy of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). The mischief-makers thought that if they were successful then the objective had been achieved, but if they failed, they would escape punishment by appealing to the mercy of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra).
Secondly, although the rebels had witnessed the reaction of the companions and people of Madinah on the previous occasion and they knew that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was aware of their arrival, these people thought that he would not mobilise an army to fight them due to his forbearance and the companions would not confront them. Considering the companions to be like themselves, the mischief-makers assumed that the companions only apparently expressed loyalty towards Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) but actually desired his destruction. This assumption was based on the fact that the mischief-makers would give the impression that they were doing everything in order to safeguard the rights of the companions. Hence, they thought that the companions were moved by the influence of their deceit and felt sympathy for them at heart.
As soon as word came that this army had reached close to Madinah, the companions and the people of Madinah, who had gone out to manage their properties and lands in the surrounding area, congregated in Madinah. Their army was divided into two groups: one set out from Madinah to fight the rebels while the second force remained in the city for the protection of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). When all three caravans arrived close to Madinah, the rebels of Basrah settled at a place known as Dhu-Khashab, the rebels of Kufah at A‘was and the rebels of Egypt at Dhul-Marwah. They consulted one another as to what they should do next. Even though their number is estimated to have been from between eighteen hundred to three thousand men (the other pilgrims who set out along with them, considering them to be a hajj caravan, were separate), the rebels thought that fighting the valiant men of Islam would not be easy if they were determined to fight. For this reason, they deemed it essential to immediately gather the view of the people of Madinah upon entering the city. As such, two men named Ziyad bin An-Nadr and ‘Abdullah bin Al-Asam advised the rebels of Kufah and Basrah that it was not wise to be hasty and if they rushed things, then the rebels of Egypt would also have to hurry and the plan would be ruined. They replied:
“We have learnt that the people of Madinah have prepared an army against us. If they have prepared to such a great extent despite not being fully aware of our circumstances, they will become even more vigilant upon learning of our complete state of affairs. Our victory shall become a mere dream. Therefore, it is more appropriate for us to first go there and ascertain the circumstances and speak to the people of Madinah. If they consider it unacceptable to fight us and the reports that we have received about them prove false, we will return and inform you of all the circumstances and appropriate action will be taken.”
Everyone was in favour of this proposal. So the two of them went to Madinah and first met the azwaj-e-mutahharat1of the Holy Prophet(sa). They asked them for permission to enter Madinah and claimed that they had only come in order to request Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) to change certain governors and that they held no other intentions. All the wives of the Holy Prophet(sa) refused to accept their words and said that the consequences of such action would not be favourable. Then they approached Hazrat ‘Ali(ra), Hazrat Talhah(ra) and Hazrat Zubair(ra) one by one and sought permission to enter Madinah stating the same reason for their arrival and apparently exhibiting good intention. However, these three companions also refused to fall into their deceit and plainly responded that there was no good in this design of theirs.2
After ascertaining the state of affairs in Madinah and having failed in their objective, when both these men returned and informed their comrades of the complete situation, a few leading men from all three regions of Kufah, Basrah and Egypt arrived in Madinah to make the final attempt. In accordance with the teachings of ‘Abdullah bin Saba the rebels of Egypt believed Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) to be the wasi of the Holy Prophet(sa) and were not ready to perform bai‘at3 on the hand of anyone other than him. However, although the rebels of Kufah and Basrah were with them as far as the uprising was concerned, they were not at agreement as far as belief was concerned. Thus, the people of Kufah considered it to be in their best interest to offer bai‘at to Zubair bin ‘Awwam(ra) and the people of Basrah looked upon Talhah(ra). Due to this disagreement the representatives of each caravan turned to those individuals whom they wished to appoint for the office of Khilafat after Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra).
1 The noble wives of the Holy Prophet(sa) [Publishers]
2 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 152-153, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
3 An oath of allegience to a religious leader. [Publishers]