Hence, this news intensified the anxiety of the rebels. Finally, they attacked the house of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and sought to forcefully enter. The companions confronted them and a fierce battle ensued. Although the companions were few in number, their religions indignation was covering for this disadvantage. Since the area where this battle took place, i.e., in front of the house of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was narrow, due to this reason as well, the rebels were unable to exploit their advantage in number. When Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) learned of this battle he forbade the companions from fighting. However, at that time, they viewed abandoning Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) to be against honesty and contrary to the teaching of obedience. Hence, they refused to return despite Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) appealing to them in the name of God.
In the end, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) took a shield in his hand, came out and lead the companions inside his house. He then had the doors closed and enjoined the companions and their helpers:
“God the Exalted has not given you the world so that you may incline towards it. In fact, he has granted you the world so that by this means, you may gather provisions for the hereafter. So, let not that which is to perish make you unmindful. Give precedence to that which shall remain over that which is to perish. Be mindful of you meeting with God the Exalted and do not allow your community to disperse. Do not forget the Divine favour that you were on the brink of a pit of destruction and God the Exalted saved you out of His bounty and made you as brothers.”
Having said this he dismissed them and said:
“May God the Exalted be your Guardian and Helper. All of you leave the house now, and call for those companions who have been barred from reaching me, especially Hazrat ‘Ali(ra), Hazrat Talhah(ra) and Hazrat Zubair(ra).”
These people stepped out and the other companions were also called. At the time, such a mood was developing and such a degree of sorrow was overshadowing the atmosphere, that even the rebels could not remain unaffected. And why would this not be the case? Everyone was observing that a candle lit by Muhammad(sa), the Messenger of Allah, upon completing its life in the world was now about to disappear from the eyes of the people. Therefore, the rebels did not cause much hindrance and all the companions gathered. When everyone had come together, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) climbed the wall of his house and said, “Come close to me.” When they had all come close to him, Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) said, “O people! Sit down.” At this, the companions sat down and inspired by the awe of the gathering, so did the rebels. When they had all sat down Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) said:
“People of Madinah! I entrust you to God the Exalted and pray to Him that after me, He may arrange for a better successor than me. After today, until God the Exalted issues a decree in my regard, I shall not step out of my house and I shall not pass on authority to anyone by which he may rule over you in terms of religion or worldly rule. I leave it to God the Exalted to choose whoever He desires for His work.”
After this he appealed in the name of Allah to the companions and the other people of Madinah, not to put their own lives in grave danger by protecting him and to go to their homes.
This instruction of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) created a serious disagreement among the companions, a disagreement the likes of which cannot be found prior to this. The companions knew nothing but to obey every command, but today, in obeying this instruction, some perceived the stench of treachery, as opposed to obedience. Some companions gave precedence to the aspect of obedience and unwillingly did away with their intention of fighting the rebels from then on. Perhaps they thought that their duty was only to be obedient and it was not their task to reflect upon the results that would come about by obeying this command. However, some companions refused to obey this order, because although they knew that it was an obligation to obey the Khalifah, but if the Khalifah commands people to abandon him, this effectively means that they should sever their ties with Khilafat; hence, this kind of obedience actually results in treachery. Furthermore, they also knew that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) was sending them home in order to protect their lives. How then, could they leave such a loving person in danger and go to their homes? All the prominent companions were among the latter group. As such, despite this command, the sons of Hazrat ‘Ali(ra), Hazrat Talhah(ra) and Hazrat Zubair(ra), under the order of their respective fathers, constantly stood guard at the porch of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and did not put their swords into their sheaths.1
1 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 176-179, Dhikrul-Khabari ‘An Qatlihi Wa Kaifa Qutila, Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]