In light of the historical events which transpired in the last days of the Khilafat of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), I have deduced the actual causes of this conflict and presented them before you. You shall understand for yourself as to whether they are correct or incorrect, once you become aware of the events from which I have drawn this conclusion. However, before I allude to these events I wish to say something with regards to the question of why unrest arose in the time of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra)? The fact of the matter is that in the time of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), people entered Islam in large numbers. The vast majority of these new Muslims were unfamiliar with the Arabic language, thus, learning the Islamic faith was not as easy for them as it was for the Arabs. For centuries, due to their interaction with the Persians and Syrians, even those who knew Arabic, had remained victim to the filthy views which were a natural result of the civilisation of that era. In addition to this, due to battles with the Persians and Christians, the full strength of most companions and those who followed him, was being exhausted in warding off the onslaughts of the enemy. Two major causes for why new Muslims were unable to become as familiar with Islam as was required, were that on the one hand, Muslim attention was occupied by external enemies and, on the other hand, new Muslims were unfamiliar with the Arabic language or had been influenced by non-Arab views. In the era of Hazrat ‘Umar(ra), since the Muslims were engaged in a large-scale series of wars and the danger of the enemy remained ever-present, people did not receive an opportunity to contemplate other matters. Additionally, due to being in constant battle with the enemy, naturally, religious passion would rise up again and again, and this covered up the weakness in religious knowledge which existed among the people. The same conditions were prevalent even in the early era of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). On one hand, wars ensued, while earlier influences also remained in the hearts of people. When a state of peace prevailed to some extent and initial enthusiasm also subsided, it was then that this religious weakness began to show its colours. The enemies of Islam capitalised on this opportunity and mobilised in order to create mischief. Hence, this disorder was not the result of any action of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). As a matter of fact, had these conditions developed in the time of any Khalifah, disorder would have emerged. The only fault of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was that he was elected to the office of Khilafat at a time when his involvement in creating disorder was no greater than that of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) or Hazrat ‘Umar(ra); and who can say that this conflict was the result of a weakness on the part of these two holy men? It does not cease to amaze me as to how certain people assert that these disorders were the result of a weakness of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). Hazrat ‘Umar(ra), who could not have even imagined that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) would become Khalifah, had already identified the root cause of this conflict in the era of his own Khilafat. He then warned the Quraish in this regard with strong words. As such, it is written that Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) would not allow the senior companions to go forth for war and if they sought his permission he would say, “Is the jihad which you performed alongside the Holy Prophet(sa) not sufficient?”1 Once, when the companions finally complained, he said:
“I have grazed Islam just as a camel is grazed. First, a camel is born, then it becomes a calf. Then it grows two teeth, then four teeth and then six. Then it grows canine teeth. Now, what can be expected for one whose canine teeth have grown except for weakness. Listen! Islam has now reached its perfection. The Quraish desire that they should take all the wealth for themselves, while others are deprived.2 Hearken! Until ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab is alive, he shall hold the Quraish by their necks so that they do not fall into the fire of disorder.”3
It appears from this statement of Hazrat ‘Umar(ra), that even in his own era, he noticed the views billowing in the minds of people that the companions received a greater share. For this reason, except for a few companions, without whom the armies could not be managed, he would not allow the companions to go forth for jihad so that people would not be put to trial due to the Companions receiving a double share. Moreover, he felt that Islam had now reached the pinnacle of its success and after this, only the danger of its decline remained, not a hope of further progress.
After having mentioned this much, I shall now relate the sequence of events which shed light on the reality of the conflicts that arose in the time of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra).
I have already mentioned that in the beginning of the Khilafat of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) we see no sign of disorder for up to six years. Quite the contrary, it appears that people were generally pleased with him.4 In fact, it is ascertained from history that in this era he was even dearer to the people than Hazrat ‘Umar(ra). Not only was he dear to the people, in fact, they were in awe of him. A poet of that era testifies to this fact in his poetic verses, in the following words:5
“O rebellious people! Do not loot and devour the people’s wealth in the reign of ‘Uthman(ra); for Ibni ‘Affan is he whom you have experienced. In accordance with Quranic injunctions, he executes those who pillage; he has always been a guardian of the injunctions of this Holy Quran; he is the one who teaches the people to act upon these injunctions.”6
However, after six years, we see a campaign in the seventh year; and this was not directed against Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra); rather, it was directed against the companions or against various governors. As such, Tabari narrates that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) took full consideration of the rights of people. However, those people who did not enjoy the distinction of being the foremost pioneers in Islam did not receive the same level of honour as the early and pioneer Muslims did in gatherings; nor did they receive an equal share in rule and wealth. Over time, some people began to criticise this superiority and deemed it to be an injustice. However, these people feared the Muslim masses and out of their fear that the people would oppose them, they would not express their views. Instead, the practice which they had employed was to secretly incite people against the companions. When they came across an uneducated Muslim or a freed Bedouin slave, they would open up their book of complaints. Consequently, either out of ignorance or due to their own desire for position, certain people would join them. Gradually, this group began to multiply and reached a large number.7
When disorder is about to arise, its contributing factors also begin to accumulate in an extraordinary manner. On the one hand, those of a jealous disposition were beginning to grow incensed against the companions. On the other hand, the zeal for Islam, which is usually present in the hearts of all those who convert from other religions, began to decline amongst these new Muslims, who had neither lived in the company of the Holy Prophet(sa), nor had they received an opportunity to spend a great deal of time with those who had been in his company. As a matter of fact, as soon as they accepted Islam, it was their presumption that they had learned everything. As soon as this Islamic fervour lessened, the control which Islam possessed over their hearts also began to fall weak. They, once again, began to enjoy committing the sins that they had once indulged in before they became Muslims. When they were punished for their crimes, instead of reforming themselves, they became bent upon the destruction of those who were administering these sentences. Ultimately, they proved to become the cause of creating a great rift in the unity enjoyed by Islam. The centre of these people was in Kufah. However, the strangest thing to note is that an incident took place in Madinah itself, which demonstrates that in that time, some people were as unfamiliar with Islam as the ignorant people of today who live in the remotest areas. Himran bin Abban was a person who married a woman during her ‘iddat.8 When Hazrat ‘Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, learned of this, he was displeased at him; not only did he order a separation, but also exiled him from Madinah to Basrah.9 This occurrence demonstrates how certain people began to perceive that the mere acceptance of Islam authorized them as being scholars of Islam. They did not feel a need for further research. Perhaps, due to an influence of various views, related to believing in unlawful things as being permissible, they deemed it a futile act to follow the shariah. This is a sole event and perhaps in Madinah, which was the centre of Islam, there was no one else who was as ignorant as he. However, in other cities, there were some who continued to advance in sins. Hence, it is ascertained from the circumstances of Kufah that a band of youths had taken root for the purpose of robbery. It is written that once they proposed robbing the house of a person named ‘Ali bin Haisuman Al-Khuza‘i. They broke into his house at night, but he learned of this and came out with a sword. However, when he saw a large party he raised a hue and cry. At this, the group said, “Quiet! Or we shall wipe out your fear with a single blow,” and they killed him. During this time, the neighbours had become alert; they gathered around and apprehended the robbers. A Companion named Hazrat Abu Shuraih, may Allah be pleased with him, who was a neighbour of this person and had witnessed the whole incident from over the wall of his house, testified that, in fact, these people had killed ‘Ali. Similarly, his son also testified. The matter was submitted to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) in writing and he sentenced all of them to death. Hence, Walid bin ‘Utbah, who had been appointed as the governor of Kufah by Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) in those days, executed all these robbers in an open plain beyond the gate of the city.10 Apparently, this seems to be an insignificant event, but if one studies the conditions of that time, this was not an minor incident. With the progress of Islam, the rate of crime died out completely. People were at such peace that they did not even fear sleeping with open doors. Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) had even stopped his governors from making security posts outside their offices. Although, the intention of Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) in this was to facilitate the people in submitting their complaints to governors with ease, this order could only have been carried out until an extreme level of peace prevailed. This incident was also especially worthy of note because the children of various powerful and influential people, who possessed control in their respective spheres, were involved in this robbery. As such, this was not an ordinary crime; in fact, it was the foreshadowing of a great revolution. What else could this have been an indication towards other than the fact that the control of Islam upon the hearts of people who were unfamiliar with the religion of Islam was beginning to diminish? They were reverting to their old habits once again. Not only the poor, but even the rich were rising up to gain back their lost glory through murder and bloodshed. The Companion, Hazrat Abu Shuraih(ra), gathered this very well; he instantly sold his wealth, etc., and leaving Kufah, returned to Madinah along with his family.11 His having left Kufah, due to this event, is sufficient evidence that this distinct account was an indication towards the dangerous events of the future. In these very days, another disorder began to emerge as well.
‘Abdullah bin Saba, was a Jew, also known as Ibnus-Sauda’ on account of his mother.12 He was a resident of Yemen and was an extremely evil person. Upon witnessing the growing success of Islam, he became a Muslim with the objective of somehow creating rift among the Muslims. In my view, it is this very mischievous person around whom the disorders of this era revolve, and who was in fact a driving force in this respect. It seems as if his inclination towards mischief was ingrained in his very nature. It was a habit for him to conspire secretly and he was highly skilled in identifying such people who could serve his motives. He would speak to everyone according to their dispositions and instigate vice in the veil of virtue. It is for this reason that even sincere people would fall victim to his deception. He became a Muslim in the first half of the Khilafat of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and toured all the Muslim States in order to personally gain insight as to the circumstances of each region. However, it was impossible for him to fulfil his ends in Madinah Munawwarah.13 At the time, Makkah was completely disconnected from politics. Apart from the capital – Basrah, Kufah, Damascus and Fustat were the political centres at the time. First he visited these places. He adopted a practice, whereby, he searched for such people who had been punished and were therefore displeased with the State. He would visit them and stay at their residence. First, he went to Basrah and stayed with Hakim bin Jabalah, a robber who was under house arrest. He began to gather people of his own mentality and formed a party. As this was only the beginning of his mission and he was also a clever man, therefore, he would not speak openly; rather, he would call people towards mischief through subtle indications. Moreover, as was his long-standing custom, he continued his practice of admonition and exhortation as well. As a result of this, people began to develop reverence in their hearts for him and they began to accept his words. When ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir, the governor of Basrah, came to know of this, he asked him how he was doing and enquired as to why he had come. At this, he sent a reply saying, “I am a person from ‘the People of the Book’ who has fallen in love with Islam and wishes to stay under your protection.” Since ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir had already discovered the true state of affairs, he did not accept this plea and said, “The information I possess about your state of affairs is in contradiction to what you claim, so leave my city.” Accordingly, he left Basrah and travelled towards Kufah.14 However, before leaving, he managed to leave behind the seed of disorder and rebellion and aversion towards Islam.
In my opinion, this was the very first political error that took place. Instead of exiling him, if the governor of Basrah had imprisoned him and established a charge against him, perhaps this disorder may have remained there suppressed. The very intention behind Ibni Sauda’ leaving his home was to inflame a fire of disorder and sedition by touring the whole of the Islamic Empire. His leaving Basrah was precisely in accordance with his objective. Upon reaching Kufah, he began to repeat the schemes he had undertaken in Basrah. Ultimately, he was exiled from here as well, but before moving on, he had managed to sow the seed of his mischief here as well, which later grew into very large tree. On this occasion, along with his exile, the political error that took place initially was committed once again. From Kufah he went to Syria, but was unable to find an opportunity to gain a foothold there. Here, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) was managing the affairs of State with such excellence that neither was Ibni Sauda’ able to find such people amongst whom he could develop sway, nor could such people be found who could serve as his deputies. Hence, he was forced to move on from Syria with regret and despair. Thus, he turned towards Egypt, but prior to leaving Syria he instigated another mischief.
Abu Dharr Ghifari(ra) was an extremely pious and righteous man from among the pioneer Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa). From the moment that he accepted Islam, his steps only advanced forward in the love of the Holy Prophet(sa). He remained in the company of the Holy Prophet(sa) for a long period in time. Everyone possesses a unique disposition. Thus, upon hearing the admonition of the Holy Prophet(sa) that a believer should remain detached from the world, according to his own disposition, he viewed the accumulation of wealth as being unlawful and abhorred riches. He would also admonish others not to accumulate wealth and to distribute whatever they possessed amongst the poor. He had always held fast to this habit. Even in the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, when the Muslims became affluent, he held the same view. When Ibni Sauda’ was passing through Syria, he noticed an extreme ebullience in his nature against wealth and his desire for the poor, as well as the rich, to distribute their wealth. Thus, upon travelling through Syria, he met with Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra), who resided there at the time, and said to him:
“Look at the injustice, Mu‘awiyah(ra) refers to the riches of baitul-mal15 as being the wealth of Allah, although the funds of baitul-mal are not the only wealth that belongs to Allah; everything belongs to Allah the Exalted. Then why does he declare these funds to be the wealth of Allah in particular? Only, so that he may usurp the right that Muslims have over these funds and after neglecting their share, so that he may devour this wealth himself.”
Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) was already actively engaged in exhorting that the affluent should distribute all their wealth among the poor because the true abode of comfort for the believers is the hereafter. He was absolutely unaware of the mischief and motive of this person. As a result, he fell victim to his deception and actually began to think, that it was wrong to refer to the funds of baitul-mal as being the wealth of Allah, because there was a danger of the usurpation of wealth. In this manner, Ibni Sauda’ took revenge from Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) for not affording him an opportunity to develop a stronghold in Syria. Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) went to Mu‘awiyah(ra) and admonished him, “You refer to the wealth of Muslims, as being the wealth of Allah!” To this, he replied:
“O Abu Dharr! May Allah the Exalted have mercy on you, are we not all the servants of Allah? Is this wealth not the wealth of Allah? Is all creation not the creation of Allah the Exalted? Is true authority not in the hands of God?”
In other words, when the servants belong to God and it is His authority which reigns supreme then how would the rights of people be neglected by calling this wealth, the wealth of Allah? The rights which God the Exalted has fixed shall be given to His creation according to His command. This reply was so profound that Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) was completely speechless. However, since he possessed special fervour in this regard and Ibni Sauda had planted a doubt in his heart, out of caution, he advised Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) to refrain from using this term. Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) replied:
“I shall never say that these funds are not the wealth of Allah, but from now on, I shall refer to them as the wealth of the Muslims.”
When Ibni Sauda’ found this tactic to prove somewhat effective, he approached other companions and tried to provoke them. However, they were reclusive in nature like Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra). They were aware of this person’s mischief. As soon as Abu Darda’(ra) heard his words, he said, “Who are you to say such seditious things? By God, you are a Jew!” Left disappointed by such, he approached the chief of the ansar,16 ‘Ubadah bin Samit(ra), an intimate companion of the Holy Prophet(sa), and made certain mischievous statements. He apprehended him, took him to Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) and said, “This is the man who sent Abu Dharr Ghifari(ra) to you.” When Ibni Sauda’ was confronted with failure in Syria, he left for Egypt, but his words ignited a new zeal in Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra). He began to admonish the Muslims with even greater passion than before that all of them should distribute their wealth amongst the people. It was not correct for Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) to assert that no one should accumulate wealth. The reason being that the companions never hoarded wealth, rather, they always distributed their wealth in the cause of Allah. Invariably, they were definitely affluent, but this does not constitute the hoarding of wealth. The hoarding of wealth is only an applicable term when a person does not support the poor, and does not pay charity and alms. Even in the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) some of his companions were rich. If they had not been well-off, how could Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) have afforded to provide ten thousand soldiers provisions of travel at the time of the ghazwah17 of Tabuk. The Holy Prophet(sa) never reprimanded such people. In fact, some of them were very dear to the Holy Prophet(sa). Hence, being affluent was no crime; instead, it was in direct accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Quran and Hazrat Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, was mistaken in this regard. However, whatever the case may have been, Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) was adamant in respect of his own view. Nonetheless, it is also worthy of mention that although he would exhort people in light of his own view, he never took the law into his own hands. The commandments of the Holy Prophet(sa) forever remained under his consideration. However, the people in whose company he would sit and express these views were unacquainted with his virtue and piety and took his statements in a different light. Finally, the end result of these views was that certain poor people began to extend oppressive hands towards the affluent in an attempt to take their own rights from them by force. These people complained to Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra), who then submitted the matter before Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) issued an order for Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) to be sent to Madinah with honour and dignity. As per this instruction, Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) arrived in Madinah. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) inquired from him, “Why do the people of Syria complain against you?” He replied, “I differ with them because firstly, the term ‘wealth of Allah’ should not be used; secondly, the affluent should not accumulate wealth.” Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) explained:
“Abu Dharr(ra), it is my duty and mine alone to fulfil the responsibility that Allah the Exalted has laid upon me. It is also my obligation to enforce the subjects to discharge their responsibilities, to encourage them to serve religion and to be moderate. However, it is not my task to compel them to abandon the world.”
Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) submitted, “Then allow me to go somewhere else, because Madinah is no longer appropriate for me.” Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) responded, “Will you abandon this abode and adopt one that is inferior to this?” He replied, “The Holy Prophet(sa) told me that when the population of Madinah extends as far as Sal‘, do not stay in Madinah.” To this, Hazrat ‘Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, responded, “Then carry out the instruction of the Holy Prophet(sa).” After giving him some camels and two slaves, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) bid him farewell, but stressed that he should not completely sever his ties with Madinah and continue visiting every so often. Abu Dharr(ra) always acted upon this guidance.18 This was the fourth conflict which arose. Although Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) was used as an instrument, the fact of the matter is that neither did he hold the same views as the rebels, nor was he aware of their mischief. Despite a difference of opinion, Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) never set out to take the law into his own hands. He continued to obey the government to such an extent that in consideration of his special circumstances, even though the Holy Prophet(sa) had instructed him to leave Madinah at a certain time in order to save him from trial and suffering, he did not deem it appropriate to even act upon this command without first seeking permission from Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). Moreover, when he left Madinah and settled in Rabdhah and the local tax collector asked him to become the Imam in congregational prayer, he refused saying, “You are the governor here, thus, it is you who is best suited for being the Imam.” This demonstrates that he had no objection in being obedient to governors, nor did he view anarchy as being permissible.
The simplicity of Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) becomes clearly evident from the fact that even after being deceived by Ibnus-Sauda’, when he would argue with Mu‘awiyah(ra), that the funds of baitul-mal should not be called the wealth of Allah and even after submitting a complaint to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) as well, he constantly continued to use the same term in his own speech. Once, after this conflict, when he was in Rabdhah a caravan arrived. The people of the caravan enquired from him, “We have seen your companions and they are incredibly affluent, but why are you living in such a state of poverty?” He gave them the following response:
“They possess no right over the wealth of Allah, (i.e. the funds of baitul-mal) which I also do not possess.”19
Similarly he would also refer to the Abyssinian governor of that area as:
“A servant of the wealth of Allah.”20
This demonstrates that he would use this term himself as well. Furthermore, the fact that he could not help but uttering this phrase again and again testifies to the fact that this was a general figure of speech among the companions. However, Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) forgot this due to the deception of Ibnus-Sauda’.
This disorder, which is best described as a Bolshevik conflict, could not succeed in Syria due to the strategic planning of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra). Nevertheless, in different forms, this view managed to spread in other regions and served as an aid in the work of Ibnus-Sauda’.
Ibnus-Sauda’ left from Syria and arrived in Egypt. This was the place that chose to make the centre of his scheme because it was very far from the capital. Secondly, the companions did not visit it as often as other areas. For this reason, the local people were comparatively less familiar with religion and more willing to take part in conflict. The deputy of Ibnus-Sauda’, who was a resident of Kufah and shall be mentioned later on, was exiled a short period after these events. When asked, in reply to the enquiry of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) as to the state of the members of this new party in different countries, he said:
“I have been in correspondence with them, and it was I who guided them, not they. The people of Madinah are the keenest in creating disorder, but they are the least capable. The people of Kufah raise objections on trivial matters, but they are not afraid of committing grave sins. The people of Basrah attack together, but scatter when they flee. No doubt, it is the people of Egypt who are the most fit for mischief, but their shortcoming is that they become regretful soon after.”
After this, describing the situation of Syria he said, “They are the most obedient to their chiefs and most disobedient to those who mislead them.”21 This is the opinion of Ibnul-Kawwa’ who was a member of the party of Ibnus-Sauda’. This establishes that Egypt was the most suitable place where Ibnus-Sauda’ could setup camp. When his shrewd eye of mischief caught sight of this, he selected this as his place of residence and made it a centre of disorder. It was no time before a party had gathered around him.
Now, headquarters of mischief had been established in every city. With great skill and intelligence, Ibnus-Sauda’ began to recruit such people who had either been sentenced, were relatives of such people, or were not content with their condition for one reason or another. He would express his view to such people according to their respective dispositions in order to gain their sympathy. Madinah was safe from mischief and Syria was completely free from it as well. There were three centres where the material for conflict was being prepared, i.e. Basrah, Kufah and Egypt. Egypt was the headquarters. However, Ibnus-Sauda’ had kept himself hidden behind veils, just like the experienced and philosophically minded anarchists of that era. He was the spirit behind this entire scheme but others had been pushed to the forefront. Due to being nearby and on account of the political superiority which Basrah and Kufah enjoyed at the time, the people of these two cities appear to be at the forefront of this revolution. However, if one looks closely, the pages of history clearly indicate that the reins of all these schemes was in the hands of Ibnus-Sauda’, who lived in Egypt.
I have already mentioned that a party of men robbed the house of ‘Ali bin Haisuman Al-Khaza‘i in Kufah and then killed him, after which these murderers were executed at the gate of the city. The fathers of these young men were extremely shocked by this and desired to seek revenge from Walid bin ‘Utbah, the governor of that region. They waited eagerly for an opportunity to seek revenge. These people became an excellent weapon for the rebels, and fully utilised them. In order to seek revenge from Walid, they appointed spies so that they could find a shortcoming in Walid and inform them. The spies had to report something, so, one day, they came and relayed that Walid meets with a Muslim friend Abu Zubair, who was previously a Christian, and drinks alcohol. The rebels rose up and began to announce to the whole city that this was the state of their governor. The fervour of the masses is, after all, uncontrollable. Upon hearing this, a large party joined them and they all besieged the house of Walid. There was no door as such and everyone recklessly entered through the mosque (the door to his house opened into the mosque) and Walid only came to know of them when they were standing right before him. Upon seeing them, he became perplexed and quickly hid something away under the bed. They thought that they had caught the thief red handed and the secret had now been revealed. Without uttering a single word someone promptly slipped his hand under the bed and pulled out the object. When they caught sight of it, they noticed that it was a tray with the food of the governor of Kufah and a bunch of grapes placed on it, which the Governor had hidden only in the embarrassment that such a small quantity of food had been presented before the Governor of such a wealthy province. At this, all of these people were left confounded and they turned on their heels in utter shame. They began to reproach one another for committing such a grave crime and for having discarded the commandments of the shariah due to being deceived by a few mischievous people. In his embarrassment, Walid buried the matter and did not inform Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of this incident. However, ultimately, this mercy of his, which he expressed to undeserving people, proved to be seriously detrimental for him and also for his deputy after him. Instead of being moved by his mercy, the rebels felt even more humiliated and began to connive for the destruction of Walid with even greater fervour than before. They went to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) as a delegation for the dismissal of Walid. However, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) refused to dismiss the governor without crime. When these people returned they began to gather all such people who had been sentenced and collectively deliberated as to how, by hook or by crook, Walid could be disgraced. Two people named Abu Zainab and Abu Muwarri‘, took it upon themselves to devise a scheme and actively began to sit in his gatherings. One day they found an opportunity when no one else was around and Walid had gone to sleep in the men’s section, which was partitioned from the ladies section only by a sheet. The both of them slowly removed his ring and ran towards Madinah claiming to have seen Walid drunk. They asserted that the ring was proof of this and they had removed it, without him noticing, when he was in a state of intoxication. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) inquired, “Did he drink alcohol in front of you?” They did not dare respond in the affirmative, because if such had been the case, this would implicate that they too were involved with Walid. Instead, they responded, “We saw him vomit alcohol.” The ring was at hand as evidence and two witnesses were present. In addition, a few other mischievous people accompanied them as well in order to further strengthen their testimony and continued to furnish circumstantial testimony of the incident. Counsel was sought from the companions and it was decided that Walid would be punished for the consumption of alcohol. He was summoned from Kufah to Madinah and lashed as a penalty for drinking. Although Walid defended himself and informed Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of their mischief, but Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) responded:
“According to the law of the shariah you must receive a punishment as per the testimony of these witnesses. Of course, a person who gives false testimony shall be punished by Allah the Exalted.”22
Walid was deposed on a false account, but according to the counsel of the companions, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) sentenced him. Since witnesses and circumstantial evidence was present against him, it was necessary for him to be punished according to the law of the shariah. Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra) was made the governor of Kufah and sent in his place. When he went to Kufah and saw the state that prevailed there, he was shocked. The delinquents of society and those who were unfamiliar with religion had primarily taken control and the well-mannered had been subjugated and suppressed. He informed Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of the matter, who advised him to restore the respect and honour of those who had offered great sacrifices and came forth to fight the opponents in earlier times. If, however, they demonstrated a lack of interest in religion, then of course, he could replace them with those who were more pious.23
When this mischief had broken out in Kufah, Basrah was not at rest. Through Hakim bin Jabalah, an agent of Ibnus-Sauda’, and his accomplices, false allegations were being spread against the deputies of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) there as well.
In Egypt, which was the real headquarters, even greater havoc had been wreaked. Not only had ‘Abdullah bin Saba instigated political insurgency in this region; rather, he was also ruining the religion of people. However, he did this in a manner that people who were ignorant of faith would consider him very sincere. As such, he would preach saying:
“It is strange that various Muslims hold the belief that the Masih [Messiah], on whom be peace, would return to the world again. Yet, they do not believe that the Holy Prophet(sa) would be raised again. However, Allah the Exalted states in the Holy Quran:
‘He Who has made the teaching of the Quran binding on you will most surely bring you back to the place of return.’”24
Many of his followers accepted this teaching of his and became convinced of the [physical] re-advent of the Holy Prophet(sa) on earth, despite the fact that the Holy Quran strongly rejects the return to earth of those who have passed away. However, it is possible that in order to honour the name of such a person, Allah the Exalted raises some else after having endowed him the morals and attributes of that person. However, this concept is at complete odds with the belief of reincarnation or the return of a person [to earth]; this is an obvious and clear fact. In addition to this belief of raj‘at, ‘Abdullah bin Saba began to preach that thousands of prophets had passed and every prophet possessed a wasi;25 thus, the wasi of the Holy Prophet(sa) was Hazrat ‘Ali(ra). If the Holy Prophet(sa) was khatamul-anbiya’26 then Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) was khatamul-ausiya’. Then he would say, “Who can be more unjust than a person who attacks the wasi of the Holy Prophet(sa) and snatches his right?”27
Therefore, aside from the political strategies that this person employed in order to create rift in Islam, he had instigated a religious disorder as well. Furthermore, he was also conniving to corrupt the beliefs of Muslims, but took precautions to ensure that people considered him to be a Muslim.
In this state of affairs, three years elapsed and this mischievous group continued to carry out these secret conspiracies. This party continued to multiply in number. However, in this three year period no significant incident transpired except that two residents of Madinah Munawwarah named Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifah, began to take part in this disorder to some extent as well.28 Muhammad bin Abi Bakr was the younger son of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) and except for the fact that he possessed the distinction of being the son of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra), he held no religious merit. Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifah was an orphan who had been brought up by Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). However, after reaching an age of maturity, he played a prominent role in the uprising against Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). I shall explain why shortly hereafter. In the fourth year, this conflict took on somewhat of a terrifying state and its originators thought that now it was appropriate to openly express their views and to wipe out the awe of the State. Consequently, in this regard as well, Kufah was first to advance.
As I have already mentioned, Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra) was appointed governor of Kufah after Walid bin ‘Utbah. From the outset he had adopted the custom of only allowing noble townsmen to come into his company. However, at times, he would also hold an open gathering when men of all types would be allowed to come into his company. One day, they were sitting in such a gathering when the subject of the generosity of Hazrat Talhah(ra) came under discussion. Someone said that Hazrat Talhah(ra) always acted with extreme generosity. In response to this Sa‘id happened to utter the words:
“He possesses a great deal of wealth, and so he is charitable; if we also possessed such wealth, we too, would demonstrate such generosity and munificence.”
A young man naively said:
“If only such and such property, which once belonged to the royal treasury and had been kept for the benefit of ordinary Muslims, had been in your possession. ”
At this, a few men who belonged to the party of rebels and were waiting for an opportunity to arise so that they could express their views, began to express their anger. They asserted that the person had made this statement on the indication of Sa‘id, the governor of Kufah; so that a pathway could be paved in order to usurp this wealth. As such, they stood up and began to beat this person right before Sa‘id. When his father stood up to assist him, they thoroughly beat him as well. Sa‘id continuously attempted to restrain them but they did not even pay heed to him; and beat the two until they both fell unconscious. When the public received news that certain people had committed such an act of mischief in the very presence of Sa‘id, they gathered outside his house armed. However, the perpetrators begged and pleaded Sa‘id for forgiveness and asked for his refuge. How could the generosity of an Arab, and then a one from the Quraish, possibly bear to refuse the plea of an enemy for refuge at such an occasion. Sa‘id stepped out and said to the public, “A few people fell to confrontation; the matter is of no significance and everything is now in order.” Everyone returned to their homes, and once again these people began to feel at ease. When Sa‘id was certain that the perpetrators were out of danger, he let them go. Then he addressed the people who had been beaten and said:
“As I have already given these people refuge, do not publicise their crime, or I shall be disgraced. Rest assured, however, that they shall not be allowed in my company again.”29
The rebels had already succeeded in their real objective i.e. to create disturbance in the Islamic administration. Now, they had began to openly criticise Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and Sa‘id in their homes. The public was greatly offended by this behaviour and complained to Sa‘id saying:
“These people are causing mischief in this manner. They criticise Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and you, and seek to uproot the unity of Islam. We cannot tolerate this; please resolve the matter.”
He replied, “Inform Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of all the events yourself and the matter shall be dealt with in accordance with his instructions.” All the noble people informed Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of the events, who ordered Sa‘id that if the leaders of Kufah unanimously agreed, these people should be exiled towards Syria and sent to Amir Mu‘awiyah. Then, he wrote to Amir Mu‘awiyah(ra) saying:
“A few people, who are openly bent upon creating disorder, shall come to you from Kufah. Make preparations for their subsistence and devise a plan for their reform. If they improve and reform themselves, then treat them with compassion and overlook their faults, but if they persist in mischief then punish them.”30
This order of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was based on immense wisdom because on the one hand, their living in Kufah would provoke the public’s anger, who was fully aware of their mischief; and there was a danger of them being incited and causing them harm; on the other hand, it was also injurious because these people were residents there and possessed a degree of influence. If they had continued to live there, they would have become a means for misguiding many others.31 However, this verdict was issued at a time when much benefit could not be expected. If Ibni ‘Amir, the governor of Basrah, had also sought advice from Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) regarding Ibnus-Sauda’ and a similar instruction had been given for him, perhaps latter events may have turned out differently. However, the state of the Muslims at the time demanded that such should be its fate and destiny; and so it occurred.
These people who were exiled and should best be referred to as members of the party of Ibni Saba, were close to ten in number (although there is a disagreement in their actual number). The first strategy that Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) adopted for their reformation was to treat them with great honour and reverence. He would eat with them and often go and sit in their company, during his leisure time. After a few days, he advised them saying:
“I have heard that you hold enmity for the Quraish,32 while this should not be the case. It is through the Quraish that Allah the Exalted has endowed glory to the Arabs. Your governors are like your shields so do not part from these shields, for they bear hardships on your account and are concerned for you. If you do not value this, God the Exalted shall appoint such rulers upon you who shall oppress you severely; shall not value your patience and a punishment shall befall you in this very world. Then, in the hereafter you shall be punished along with these tyrant rulers for their oppression, because it was you who became the means for their having assumed power.”
Upon hearing this admonition of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) one of them replied:
“Do not speak of the Quraish, neither were they greater than us in number before, nor are they greater now; and as for the shield you speak of – if it is snatched – it is we who shall receive it.”
Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) said:
“It appears that you are foolish as well. I speak to you about the teachings of Islam and you remind me of the era of jahiliyyah.33 The question is not of the minority or majority of the Quraish, but of the responsibility Islam has laid upon them. No doubt, the Quraish are few, but when God the Exalted has honoured them with the religion of Islam and has continued to protect them since time immemorial due to their connection with Makkah, then who can compete with the bounty of God. When they were disbelievers, He protected them due to this insignificant connection. Now, after accepting Islam they have become the upholders of His religion. Would then God the Exalted waste them now? Keep in mind that you became Muslims along with the crowd, upon witnessing the victory of Islam. Now, Satan is using you as a weapon in order to destroy Islam and desires to create rift in religion. However, Allah the Exalted shall cast you into a greater trial than the one you desire to create. In my opinion, you are not the least worthy of any attention. The people who wrote to the Khalifah with regards to you, committed a mistake. Neither can any benefit be expected of you, nor harm.”
Upon listening to all of the advice of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra), these people said, “We order you to step down from your office.” Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) replied:
“If the Khalifah and the Muslim leaders ask me to, then I shall resign from office today. Who are you to interfere in these matters. I advise you to mend your ways and to adopt piety. Allah the Exalted does His work Himself. If matters were decided in accordance to your wishes, then the work of Islam would come to ruin. In actuality, you are averse to the very religion of Islam. In your hearts is one thing and upon your tongues is quite the opposite. However, one day, Allah the Exalted shall certainly disclose your intentions and secret schemes.”
As such, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) spent a great deal of time advising them, but they only continued to move further in their disrespect. Ultimately, when they were left speechless, they attacked Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) in an attempt to kill him but Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) scolded them saying:
“This is Syria, not Kufah. If the Syrians learn of this, they shall not remain silent as the people of Kufah did upon the request of Sa‘id. In their vehemence, the masses shall not even listen to me and tear you to pieces.”
Having said this, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) left the gathering and sent them back to Kufah. He then wrote to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra):
“These people are not the least worthy of attention due to their foolishness and ignorance. We should not give them any attention. It should also be written to Sa‘id, the governor of Kufah, not to pay any attention to them. They are irreligious people and averse to Islam. They desire to rob the wealth of those in a position of responsibility and have the habit of creating disorder. They do not have the strength to cause harm themselves without the aid of others.”34
The opinion of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) was absolutely correct but he was unaware that there was a soul hiding outside his territory, in Egypt, who was using all of them; and his cause was best served by their ignorance and foolishness.
When these people left Damascus, they abandoned their plan of going to Kufah, since the people who lived there were already familiar with their mischief. They also feared that they would suffer harm there; hence they went towards Jazirah. The governor of this region, ‘Abdur-Rahman, was the pious son of the renowned general who had left behind a shining legacy of courage and bravery for the whole world, i.e., Khalid bin Walid. When he learnt of their arrival, he immediately called for them and said:
“I have heard of your state of affairs. May Allah ruin me if I am unable to reform you. You are aware that I am the son of that man who removed the disorder of apostasy and emerged victorious from great difficulties. I shall see whether you are able to talk to me in the manner that you spoke to Mu‘awiyah(ra) and Sa‘id(ra). Listen here! If you utter a word of mischief to someone here, then I shall give you a punishment that you will never forget.”
Having said this, he confined them and ordered them to always remain with him. When he would go on journey, he would take them along with him on foot and he would inquire:
“How do you feel now? Punishment is the remedy of a person who is not reformed by virtue. Why do you not speak now?”
These people would express remorse and seek repentance for their mischief. After some time had elapsed, ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid bin Walid thought that they had been reformed. As such, he sent a person from among them by the name of Malik to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) in order to beg for forgiveness. He came before Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and repented and expressed remorse and asked forgiveness for himself and his companions. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) forgave him and inquired as to where he desired to live. Malik replied that now he wished to stay with ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) granted him permission and he returned to ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid.35
His desire to stay with ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid indicates that his heart had certainly been cleansed at the time. If not, he would not have desired to return to such a man, who would not tolerate mischief for even a minute. However, later events substantiate that his repentance was only temporary and the opinion of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) was correct, in that these were foolish people who were only good for being used as weapons.
In the meanwhile, ‘Abdullah bin Saba had not remained idle. Quite the contrary, for some time, he had adopted the strategy of dispatching agents to various regions and thus, spread his views. Without a shadow of doubt, this was a man of extraordinary intelligence and judgement. The orders he would give to his agents shed ample light on the framework of his mind. Whilst dispatching his representatives, he would advise them:
“Do not be hasty in disclosing your views to people at once; rather, exhort and advise them first. Recite to them the injunctions of the shariah. Enjoin goodness and forbid evil. When the people observe this manner of admonition, their hearts will be drawn towards you. They will listen to you with enthusiasm and will begin to trust you. Only then present your particular views skilfully; they will accept them very quickly. Moreover, be cautious not to speak against Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) at the very outset; rather, incite people against his representatives first.”
The purpose behind this was that since the people held a special religious attachment with Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), they would become enraged upon hearing words against him. However, they would accept statements against governors as this would not move their religious sentiments. In this manner, when their hearts would turn black and the obstinacy that results from joining a certain party would develop, then it would also become easier to incite them against Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra).
This person realised that whenever the shortcomings of provincial governors were mentioned, the wise would refuse to accept them, because these people knew that they were false and unfounded based on their own observation; and widespread uproar would not arise throughout the country. Therefore, he undertook another dangerous scheme. Instead of defaming the governors of various regions in their own jurisdictions, he ordered his representatives to write the failings of governors to other provinces, because the people of other regions would easily accept such statements due to their unfamiliarity with the circumstances of that area. According to this proposal, the rebels of all the various regions would write false complaints and cruelties of their local governors to the sympathetic people of other towns. These people would then read such letters to others and many of them would be convinced of their truth due to being unaware of the circumstances in foreign lands. They would feel grieved at the thought that their brethren were afflicted by extreme difficulties in such and such land. At the same time, they would also be grateful that by the grace of Allah their own governors were kind and they were at ease. However, they were unaware that the people in other provinces believed themselves to be in a state of comfort and others in difficulty, and they were thankful for their own condition and felt concern for the state of others. Since the people of Madinah were receiving correspondence from all four fronts, those among them who considered these letters as being true would think that perhaps atrocities were being perpetrated in every province and hardships were befalling the Muslims. Hence, the deception of ‘Abdullah bin Saba proved to be very effective and by this means he managed to gain thousands of sympathetic people who would have been difficult to find without such a scheme.
When this disturbance exceeded all bounds and even the noble companions began to receive letters of complaint against governors, together, they approached Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and submitted, “Are you not aware of what is taking place outside Madinah?” Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) replied, “The reports that I receive indicate nothing but peace and tranquility.” The companions responded that they were receiving letters of such and such subject matter, and this should be investigated. At this, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) sought their counsel as to how the investigation should be carried out. According to their proposal Usamah bin Zaid(ra) was sent to Basrah, Muhammad bin Maslamah to Kufah, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar to Syria and ‘Ammar bin Yasir to Egypt, in order to investigate the state of affairs and report whether the governors were actually treating the citizens unjustly, oppressing them and usurping the rights of people. In addition to these four, he also dispatched some others to various lands so that they could provide a report of the conditions there.36
These people went and returned after having performed their investigation and all of them reported that it was peaceful everywhere and that Muslims were living their lives in complete freedom; no one was infringing upon their rights and the governors were acting with equity and justice. However, ‘Ammar bin Yasir was delayed and no news came from him.37 I will mention why ‘Ammar bin Yasir was delayed later on, but first I would like to mention something about this investigative committee and the significance of this investigation. The reason being that the true reality of this disorder becomes clearly evident by fully understanding the specifics of this delegation. The first thing that is worthy of attention, is the stature of the three leading members of this delegation who returned to submit their reports. The status of the people carrying out this investigation demonstrates the significance of the investigation. If such people had been dispatched as part of this delegation, who desired something from Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and his deputies, or who, on account of their low and insignificant spiritual and worldly status may have feared the governors or harboured greed, it could be suggested that these people refrained from disclosing the truth on account of their greed or fear. However, such an allegation cannot be levelled against them. Furthermore, by selecting these people to perform this task, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) has furnished clear evidence of his pure intention. Usamah(ra), the one sent to Bashrah, was not only the son of Hazrat Zaid(ra), who was first among those who believed, but was also from among the closest and dearest ones of the Holy Prophet(sa). He was the very person upon whom the Holy Prophet(sa) conferred the position of being commander-in-chief of the magnificent army that he was prepared during his final illness. He also positioned eminent companions like Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) in subordination to him. This selection by the Holy Prophet(sa) was not merely an act of encouragement. In fact, later events established that he was capable of achieving great feats. The Holy Prophet(sa) displayed so much love for him that spectators would be unable to differentiate whether he loved him more or Hazrat Imam Hasan(ra). Muhammad bin Muslim, who was sent to Kufah, was also from among the most venerable companions. He was looked upon with great reverence amongst the companions and was very influential.
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar(ra), who was sent to Syria, is among those who require no introduction. He was among the foremost Muslims who pledged their allegiance. He was so great in his piety and righteousness that on account of this particular merit, even the most prominent companions displayed a special respect for him. After Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) if the sight of the companions and other noble men fell upon anyone for succession to Khilafat, then it was him. However, he had made it a practice to remain secluded from the world. He possessed such indignation for those things that were deemed sacred in religion that on certain occasions, he even vehemently debated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab(ra). Hence, in speaking the truth, he was an unsheathed sword. His appointment for Syria was a most perfect appointment. Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) had long been the governor of Syria and held a position of great awe upon the residents there. Due to his intelligence, investigating his administration was not the task of an ordinary person. It was futile to send anyone else to this region and no one would have been satisfied with the investigation of such a person. However, his excellence in faith, indignation for Islam, farsightedness, righteousness and piety were such merits, before which even Mu‘awiyah(ra) could not dare to utter a word. In his presence the awe of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) could not influence anyone.
Therefore, the people who were sent to carry out this investigation were magnificent and neutral people and no one can raise an objection against their findings. The unanimous verdict of these three companions along with the rest of those who were sent to other countries that there was absolute peace and security, no sign of injustice and tyranny, and governors were acting with complete equality and justice; and if they were liable to be blamed then it was only inasmuch that they compelled people to remain within boundaries, was such a verdict which leaves no room for doubt. It is clearly evident that all this disorder was the result of the mischief of a few transgressors and the instigation of ‘Abdullah bin Saba. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and his representatives were free from all objections.
In truth, this entire disturbance was the result of a secret conspiracy hatched by the Jews. They were joined by certain Muslims who were attracted to the desire of the world and had left their faith. Neither were the provincial governors to blame for this, nor were they the cause of this disorder. Their only fault was that they had been appointed by Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and the fault of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was that he was holding fast to the rope of Islamic unity despite his old age and physical weakness. He was carrying the burden of the Muslim ummah upon his shoulders and was concerned for the establishment of the Islamic shariah. He would not allow the rebellious and tyrannous to oppress the weak and helpless according to their desire. As such, the following incident testifies to the truth of this fact. When the same rebels held a meeting in Kufah and they began to discuss how disorder may be created in Muslim affairs, everyone unanimously gave the opinion:
“By God, no one can dare to raise their head, so long as the reign of ‘Uthman(ra) prevails.”
It was the very person of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) himself which prevented rebellion. It was necessary to move him aside in order for these people to freely achieve their goals.38
Earlier, I explained that ‘Ammar bin Yasir, who had been sent to Egypt, did not return. There was a delay in receiving news from him to such extent that the residents of Madinah thought that he may have been killed. However, the fact of the matter was that due to his simplicity and unfamiliarity with politics, he had fallen into the clutches of the rebels, who were disciples of ‘Abdullah bin Saba. As ‘Abdullah bin Saba was present in Egypt himself, he was not oblivious to the fact that if this investigative committee reported a state of peace and security throughout the land, everyone would turn against them. The decision to send this delegation had been made so suddenly that he was unable to make arrangements in other provinces. However, it was easy for him to make arrangements in Egypt. He welcomed ‘Ammar bin Yasir as soon as he arrived in Egypt and began to describe the weaknesses and cruelties of the governor of Egypt. ‘Ammar bin Yasir was unable to safeguard himself from the enchantment of his words. Instead of carrying out an unbiased investigation, he did not even approach the governor of Egypt, nor did he carry out an ordinary investigation. On the contrary, he went along with this group of rebels and began to raise objections with them.39
‘Ammar bin Yasir is the only person from among the companions about whom it is categorically proven that he became entrapped in the snare of rebels. Aside from him, no other prominent Companion participated in such an act. If anyone from among them has been implicated, such a notion has been refuted by other narrations. There was a particular reason for ‘Ammar bin Yasir(ra) being deceived. As soon as he arrived in Egypt, he happened to meet a group of eloquent and well-spoken people who appeared to be reliable; they began to complain to him about the governor of Egypt with great skill. Coincidently, the governor of Egypt was a man who had once been a bitter enemy of the Holy Prophet(sa). At the victory of Makkah the Holy Prophet(sa) had commanded that he should be killed even if he was to be found in the vicinity of the Ka‘bah. Even though the Holy Prophet(sa) later forgave him, his former opposition had left traces of dislike upon the hearts of certain companions, which included ‘Ammar(ra). Therefore, upon hearing complaints against such a person, ‘Ammar(ra) was very quickly influenced and accepted all the allegations that would be levelled against him as being true. Whilst capitalising on natural sentiment, the Saba’is, i.e., the supporters of ‘Abdullah bin Saba, would highlight this particular issue as a means against the governor. The goodness of intention and sincerity of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) may be gauged from the fact that despite all the delegations giving a verdict absolving the governors, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) valued this single view to such extent that he wrote a letter to all the various regions. The contents of this letter was:
“Ever since I have become the Khalifah I have acted upon enjoining equity and forbidding evil and my relatives do not hold a superior right to ordinary Muslims. However, I have come to know from certain residents of Madinah that the governors beat people and hurl abuse at them. For this reason I make an open announcement by way of this letter that whomsoever has been sworn at or beaten in secrecy, should meet me in Makkah Mukarramah40 on the occasion of hajj. In return for any injustice done by my hand or by my governors, retribution may be sought from me and my representatives, or if such a person wills, he may forgive us. Allah the Exalted Himself rewards those who give sadaqah [i.e., those who forgive].”
When this brief but painful letter was read out upon the pulpits throughout the land, the Muslim world was shook from end to end. Listeners helplessly burst into tears and everyone prayed for Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). Everyone expressed displeasure towards these transgressors who were attacking and causing grief to a man who held sympathy for the Muslim ummah and carried its burden.41
Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) did not cease at this; he especially summoned his governors in order to answer for the allegations which had been levelled against them. When all of the governors had come together, he inquired of them, “What is the reason for these allegations being levelled against you? I fear that they may be true.”
In response to this, they all submitted:
“You have sent reliable people and discovered that no injustice is being perpetrated, nor is anything being committed in violation of the shariah. Furthermore, the reliable people you dispatched inquired of the state of affairs from all the people. Not a single person came before them and claimed that these complaints were valid. What room, then, is there for doubt? By God, these people have not spoken the truth nor have they acted with the fear of Allah. Their allegations have no foundation. It cannot be permissible to hold one accountable for such baseless things, nor can such statements be relied upon.”
Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) responded, “Then suggest as to what should be done.” At this, many suggestions were given to him. In summary, it was suggested that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) should act sternly when the occasion demanded and not show leniency towards these mischief-makers, for this only increases them in fearlessness; an evil person can only be reformed through punishment, leniency should only be exhibited towards such a person who derives benefit from it. After listening to suggestions of everyone, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) said:
“The disorders which the Holy Prophet(sa) has informed us about are bound to take place, but they can be deferred for some time through gentleness and love. Therefore, except in the case of apparent violations of the law, I will treat them with leniency so that no one may hold a valid objection against me. Allah the Exalted knows that I have not been miserly in showing kindness to people. It would be joyous if ‘Uthman were to die and the flood of disorders, which are soon to overcome Islam, had not yet surged forth. Go, therefore, and treat people with compassion; give them their rights and overlook their faults. Of course, if someone violates the injunctions of Allah the Exalted, then do not show leniency and forgiveness to such people.”42
On the return from hajj, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) also accompanied Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) to Madinah. After having stayed there for a few days, when he was about to depart, he met Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) in privacy and said, “It appears that disorder is growing, if you permit, may I submit something in this regard?” Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) said, “Go on.” Upon this, he said:
“My first proposal is that you accompany me to Syria as it is peaceful there in every respect; there is no disorder whatsoever. I fear that if disorder suddenly arises we may not be able to make arrangements at the time.”
Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) replied, “I cannot leave the neighbourhood of the Holy Prophet(sa) under any circumstance, even if my body is torn to pieces.” Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) said:
“Then my second proposal is that you grant me permission to send a contingent of the Syrian army for your protection. No one shall be able to make mischief in its presence.”
Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) replied:
“Neither can I burden baitul-mal to such extent in order to safeguard the life of ‘Uthman, nor can I tolerate putting the people of Madinah to difficulty by maintaining a military presence.”
Upon this, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) submitted:
“Then my third proposal is that you send off the companions to various countries, because in their presence, people possess the courage to assume that if you do not remain, some else may be put forward in your stead.”
Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) replied, “How is it possible for me to scatter those whom the Holy Prophet(sa) has gathered?” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) began to weep and submitted:
“If you do not accept any of these strategies which I have proposed for your protection then at least announce to the people, ‘If any harm comes to me then Mu‘awiyah shall possess the right to retaliate on my behalf.’ Perhaps, people shall refrain from making mischief in fear on this account.”
“Mu‘awiyah! What is to happen will surely come to pass. I cannot grant this permission since you possess a stern disposition and may treat the Muslims harshly.”
Thereupon, Hazrat Mu‘awiyah(ra) stood up weeping and said, “I fear this may be our last meeting.” When he stepped outside, he said to the companions, “The fate of Islam rests upon you. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) has now fallen very weak. Disorder is escalating. Please do look after him.”43
After saying this, Mu‘awiyah(ra) set off for Syria.
The absence of provincial governors from their respective regions, was not an opportunity that ‘Abdullah bin Saba would simply allow to slip away. He immediately relayed a message in all directions saying:
“Now is the perfect time for us to act. Let us choose one day and launch a sudden attack upon the governors of our respective provinces.”
However, they were still consulting one other when the governors happened to return. The Saba’is (i.e. supporters of ‘Abdullah bin Saba) in other areas were left in despair, but as for those in Kufah, who were already habitual in being at the forefront of practical disorder, did not let this opportunity slip away. A person by the name of Yazid bin Qais held a gathering in the Kufah mosque and announced that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) should now be removed from the office of Khilafat. When Qa‘qa‘ bin ‘Amr(ra), who was the officer of the military post there, heard of this, he came to arrest him. Yazid bin Qais made a plea before him stating:
“I am not acting disobediently. We have only gathered to hold a meeting about Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra) so that we can request his return from here and the appointment of a new officer in his stead.”
The officer replied:
“There is no need to hold gatherings for this purpose. Write your complaints and send them to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). He will appoint another governor and send him here. What is the difficulty in this?”
The reason he said this was because in the time of the Khulafa’, whenever a complaint would arise against governors, in most cases, they would be replaced out of a concern for the welfare of people. Upon hearing this reply of Qa‘qa‘, they seemingly dispersed, but continued to conspire in secret. Ultimately, Yazid bin Qais, who was the leader of the Saba’is in Kufah at the time, sent someone with a letter to Homs and told him to bring back those who had been exiled from Kufah and whose incident has been mentioned earlier. The subject matter of this letter was that the people of Egypt have joined us; as soon as you receive this letter return immediately, without a moments delay.44
How ironic is it that the people who were demonstrating rage and raising allegations against the Khalifah of the time – the foremost in faith and the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet(sa) – were those who had themselves abandoned the obligatory prayers. Is it possible that indignation for Islam should only manifest itself within the faithless? If a shortcoming or something in contradiction with the shariah truly existed in Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) or his governors, then the people who would have expressed their anger against this would have been ‘Ali, Talhah, Zubair, Sa’d bin Waqqas, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr, Usamah bin Zaid, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari, Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman, Abu Hurairah, ‘Abdullah bin Salam, ‘Ubadah bin Samit and Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with all of them, not Yazid bin Qais and Ashtar.
The messenger reached Jazirah with the letter and handed it over to the people who had been exiled from Kufah. When they read it, except for Ashtar, all the others disliked it as they had already witnessed the influence of ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid. However, as for Ashtar, who had gone to Madinah in order to seek forgiveness from Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), was unable to keep his repentance intact and immediately set out for Kufah. When his friends saw that Ashtar had left for Kufah, they became frightened that ‘Abdur-Rahman would not believe them and think that all of this had taken place on their suggestion. So, out of this fear, these people fled as well. When ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid bin Walid learned of this he sent his men in pursuit of them, but they were unable to apprehend them. One manzil45 after another, Malikul-Ashtar reached Kufah in no time. He deemed it against his honour to enter the city empty handed. This person, who came from Jazirah to meet his companions, having covered two manzils at a time as if they were one, began to announce his arrival from Madinah. In order to incite the people, he began to say:
“I have just left behind Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra), who I accompanied for a distance of one manzil. He openly says, ‘I will stain the chastity of the women of Kufah,’ and he also says, ‘The properties in Kufah are the wealth of the Quraish.’ Furthermore, he boastfully recites the following couplet:
Meaning, ‘Noble women shall fall to trial because of me! I am a man so powerful as if from among the Jinn.’”46
The ordinary masses lost their senses due to his statements and they believed everything that he said. Fury instantly surged forth. The wise and learned tried their utmost to convince them and said, ‘This is deception, do not be mislead,’ but who could tame the public outrage; no one paid heed to them. A man stood up and announced:
“Whoever wishes to request the dismissal of Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra), the governor of Kufah, and the appointment of another governor, should immediately join Yazid bin Qais.”
People rushed out upon hearing this announcement and no one remained in the mosque except for the learned and noble, and those who were in authority. ‘Umar bin Al-Juraid was the acting governor for Sa‘id in his absence. He began to deliver an exhortation to the remaining people and said:
‘O people! Remember the favour of God the Exalted upon us when we were enemies. He united your hearts and you became as brothers. You were on the brink of a pit of destruction and God the Exalted saved you from it. So do not cast yourself into the affliction which God the Exalted has saved you from. Do you not recognise the truth and come to its doorstep after having accepted Islam, receiving divine guidance and in the presence of the sunnah47 of the Holy Prophet(sa)?’
Qa‘qa‘ bin ‘Amr(ra) responded:
“You desire to stop this disorder through admonition, but do not hope of this. Nothing but the sword can stop these disturbances and the time is not far when even the sword will be unsheathed. At that time, these people will cry like lambs and wish that this era should return again but God the Exalted would not bestow this favour upon them again until the Day of Judgment.”
The public gathered outside the town, faced Madinah and began to wait for Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra). When he came before them, they said to him, “Turn back; we are in no need of you.” Sa‘id replied:
“What is the wisdom behind so many people gathering and coming out for this purpose? In order to stop one person, why were a thousand men needed? It would have sufficed you to send a man towards the Khalifah and a man towards me.”
After saying this he spurred on his mount and returned to Madinah in order to warn Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), while these people were left astonished. Shortly thereafter, they spotted one of his servants and killed him.
Sa‘id bin Al-‘As(ra) reached Madinah and informed Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) of the entire conflict. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) asked, “Have they risen up against me?” Sa‘id replied, “They make it seem as if a new governor is being requested.” He inquired, “Who do they ask for?” He replied, “They prefer Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari.”
1 Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) had two reasons in view. Firstly, this meant that a community of teachers always remained in Madinah. Secondly, the companions received special shares from baitul-mal [national treasury] due to their being the foremost in belief and offering services in the era of the Holy Prophet(sa). Thus, Hazrat ‘Umar thought that if these people had also taken part in expeditions, they would have received even more shares and this would be difficult for others to bear.
2 In other words, if the companions took a share for being pioneers and then also for now taking part in jihad, others would receive less.
3 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 184-185, Dhikru Ba‘di Siyari Uthmana….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
4 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 101-102, Dhikru Ma Kana Fiha Minal- Ahdathil-Mashhurah, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
6 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 104-105, Dhikrus-Sababi Fī ‘Azli….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
7 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 108-110, Dhikrus-Sababi Fī ‘Azli….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
8 A fixed time period specified by the Islamic shariah, which must elapse before a widow or divorced lady is permitted to marry again. [Publishers]
9 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 139, Dhikrul-Khabari ‘An Tasyīri ‘Uthmana….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
10 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 104, Dhikrus-Sababi Fī ‘Azli….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
11 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 105, Dhikrus-Sababi Fī ‘Azli….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
12 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 147, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
13 Literally means, ‘Madinah, the Enlightened’ [Publishers]
14 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 139, Dhikrul-Khabari ‘An Tasyīri ‘Uthman….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
15 National Treasury of the Islamic State [Publishers]
16 A title of veneration given to the Muslims of Madinah [Publishers]
17 A military expedition in which the Holy Prophet(sa) took part himself. [Publishers]
18 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 112-113, Akhbaru Abi Dharrin(ra)….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
19 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 114, Akhbaru Abi Dharrin(ra)….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
20 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 114, Akhbaru Abi Dharrin(ra)….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
21 As shall be proven ahead, he lied when stating that the people of Madinah were not at all involved in this disorder.
Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 140, Dhikru Ma Kana Minal-Ahdathi….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
22 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 105-108, Dhikrus-Sababi Fī ‘Azli….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
23 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 109, Dhikrus-Sababi Fī ‘Azli….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
24 This prophecy was actually about the victory of Makkah, which was distorted by him in order to concoct the belief of raj‘at. Since people travel to Makkah again and again for the purpose of hajj and to attain spiritual reward, this is why it is also called ma‘ad i.e., a place where people return often.
25 See glossary of terms for further details [Publishers]
26 Seal of the Prophets [Publishers]
27 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 147, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
28 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p.p 117-118, Dhikrul-Khabari ‘An Maqtali Yazdajar….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
29 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 133-134, Dhikru Tasyiri Mann Sayyara Min Ahlil-Kufata Ilaiha, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
30 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 134, Dhikru Tasyiri Mann Sayyara Min Ahlil-Kufat Ilaiha, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
31 They were unable to find an opportunity to mislead people in the place where they were exiled because they were kept under special supervision and strict watch.
32 It is clearly evident from the statement of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah and the reply of these people that they were not opposed to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) or his appointed Governors. They opposed the Quraish; in other words, they harboured jealousy against those who were the foremost in belief. If a companion other than Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) had been Khalifah, and other Governors had been appointed in place of those who already held office, these people would have held enmity towards them in the same manner, because their only objective was to attain grandeur.
33 Literally means ‘ignorance,’ and refers to the pre-Islamic era. [Publishers]
34 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 134-135/138, Dhikru Tasyiri Mann Sayyara Min Ahlil-Kufat Ilaiha, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
35 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 135-136, Dhikru Tasyiri Mann Sayyara Min Ahlil-Kufata Ilaiha, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
36 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 147-148, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
37 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 148, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
38 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 189, Dhikru Ba‘di Siyari ‘Uthmanibni ‘Affana, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
39 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 148, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
40 Literally means, ‘Makkah, the Honoured.’ [Publishers]
41 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 148, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition
42 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 148-149, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 dition [Publishers]
43 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 150, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
44 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 150-151, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
45 A distance equivalent to 19 miles or 25 kilometers. [Publishers]
46 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 141-142, Dhikrul-Khabari ‘An Ijtima‘ihim Li-Dhalika Wa Khabarul-Jur‘ati, Published by Darul- Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
47 Practice of the Holy Prophet(sa) [Publishers]