I have already mentioned that the rebels returned to their homes while apparently displaying agreement; the rebels of Kufah returned Kufah, the rebels of Basrah towards Basrah and the rebels of Egypt towards Egypt. Upon witnessing this state of peace and security, and feeling relieved upon the withdrawal of the rebels, the people of Madinah returned to their tasks. However, many days had not passed – at a time when the people of Madinah were either engaged in their work, or sitting in their homes and mosques, and had no idea whatsoever that the enemy would invade Madinah — that the rebel army suddenly entered Madinah and besieged the mosque as well as the home of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). It was announced in all the streets of Madinah that whosoever cherished his life should quietly sit at home and not confront the rebels, or else.1 Their arrival was so sudden that the people of Madinah were unable to fight back. Hazrat Imam Hasan(ra) states:
“I was sitting in the mosque, when all of a sudden there was a clamour and cries of takbir2 (this was the Muslim slogan for war) began to resonate in the streets of Madinah. All of us were shocked and we began to look for the cause of this noise. I stood up on my knees and began to look. In no time, these people suddenly raided the mosque and occupied it along with the surrounding streets.”
As a result of their sudden attack the force of the companions and the people of Madinah, was scattered. They were unable to fight the rebels or engage in battle with them, because the rebels had besieged the mosque and all the passages of the city. Now there were only two possibilities: firstly, that aid arrived from the exterior; secondly, that the people of Madinah gathered somewhere and then fought them in an organised manner.
As for the first case, the rebels were satisfied that Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) would not do such a thing because he was very generous in his mercy and thinking well of others and because he always gave the benefit of the doubt to them despite their apparent mischief. As regards the second case, the rebels made an arrangement whereby they kept a stern watch over the streets of Madinah and its entrances, and ordered that no groups should be allowed to assemble anywhere. The rebels would scatter people wherever they happened to gather. However, they would not prohibit the odd conversation here and there, or the meeting of one or two people among themselves.
When the astonishment of the people of Madinah had abated to some extent, a few of them came to the mosque – where the centre of the rebels was – and began to advise them and expressed displeasure towards their action. However, instead of deriving benefit from their admonition, the rebels intimidated and threatened them, and bluntly said that if they did not remain silent, then the consequences would not be good, and they would be harshly dealt with.
Now, it was as if Madinah no longer remained to be the headquarters of Khilafat. The rule of the Khalifah of the time had been abolished and a small party of rebels did as they pleased. Be it the companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) or the people of Madinah – all struggled to defend their honour. Upon witnessing this conflict, some even stopped coming out of their homes. They would sit at home, aghast, night and day.3
1 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 153-154, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition [Publishers]
2 To proclaim the greatness of Allah. [Publishers]
3 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 154-155, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition