Now the question is how did this conflict come about? Some have alleged the cause to be Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) while others, Hazrat ‘Ali(ra). Some say that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) introduced certain innovations in the faith, which caused an uproar among the Muslims. Others assert that Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) secretly conspired to acquire Khilafat and had Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) killed by creating hostility against him so that he could become the Khalifah himself. However, both of these notions are false; neither did Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) introduce innovations in the faith, nor did Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) have him killed or took part in a conspiracy to murder him in order to become the Khalifah himself. In fact, there were other causes for this revolt. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) are completely free from the blemish of such allegations. Both were very holy men. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was the person about whom the Holy Prophet(sa) had said, that he had served Islam to such a great extent that now he could do whatsoever he wished, God would not question him.1 This did not imply that he would not be held accountable even if he renounced Islam. In fact, it inferred that he had acquired so many qualities and had progressed so much in virtue that it was no longer possible for any of his actions to be in violation of the commandments of Allah the Exalted. As such, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was not a man who would issue an order in violation to the shariah, nor was Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) a man who would secretly conspire to assume Khilafat. As far as I have contemplated and studied there are four reasons for this horrific uprising.
Firstly: the nature of men is generally inclined towards the acquisition of wealth and stature with the exception of those whose hearts God the Exalted has particularly cleansed. Certain people who were not complete in their faith became envious upon witnessing the honour, status, success and authority of the companions. As has been a practice since time immemorial, they began to desire that these companions resign from all their responsibilities of government and hand over positions to them so that others are given the opportunity to exhibit their skill as well. They also disliked that the companions not only held State authority but also received a special share of the riches. Hence, these people continued to burn inside with jealousy. They awaited a revolution by which the government would crumble and fall into their hands, so that they could also demonstrate their talent and skill and gain worldly wealth and stature. In worldly States such ideas may be forgiven to some extent and can even be considered rational at times. This is because firstly, the foundation of worldly States is purely based upon apparent means; and a significant cause in the progress of apparent means is the introduction of new ideas and spirit into the governmental framework as well. This is only possible if old workers vacate their posts freely, leaving space for others.
Secondly: Since a worldly State receives authority in representation of the public it is compelled to respect the public opinion. It is also essential for those voicing the public view to possess substantial involvement in the organization of the works of the state. However, in a religious movement the matter is quite the opposite, where the overriding principle of all principles is to abide by a set law. Furthermore, the interference of one’s personal ideas is strictly prohibited, except with relation to such derivative institutes of the law where the shariah has remained silent. Secondly, religious movements are afforded authority from God the Exalted, and it is the duty of people who control the reins of administration to prevent people from moving out of line in religious matters. Instead of voicing the opinions of people, it is incumbent upon them to shape the views of people into the mould that has been designed by God the Exalted according to the needs of that time.
1 Sunanut-Tirmidhi, Kitabul-Manaqib, Manaqibi ‘Uthmanibni ‘Affana, Chapter No. 61, Hadith No. 3700