Therefore, the jealousy and ill-will which had taken root in some people, with respect to the companions was without reason and cause. However, this seed had been sown irrespective of whether this was with or without reason. A segment of people who were unfamiliar with the reality of religion began to look upon them as if they were usurpers. They anxiously waited for an opportunity to push them aside so that they could assume control of the government and its wealth. The second reason for this disorder was that Islam had established such means of freedom of conscience and action, and equality between people, as were not even available to great philosophical thinkers before this. As is the rule, there are some, who innately possess an element of disease, and thus, suffer, instead of benefitting from even the best of nourishments. Similarly, instead of benefitting from this principle of freedom of conscience and action, some people suffered by it and were unable to remain within its boundaries. This disease began in the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) when a wretched so-called Muslim confronted him and uttered the words, “O Messenger of Allah! Keep in mind the fear of Allah, for you have not acted with justice in the distribution of riches.” To this, the Holy Prophet(sa) replied:
“A nation will arise from this person’s progeny that will recite the Quran often but it will not descend their throats. They will stray from faith just as an arrow misses its target.”1
The latent fire of such thoughts flared up a second time in the era of Hazrat ‘Umar(ra). Once, a person stood up in the midst of a gathering and levelled an allegation against Hazrat ‘Umar(ra), who was a selfless person and the guardian Khalifah of the finances of the community of Prophet Muhammad(sa) saying, “From where have you acquired this cloak?”2 Nevertheless, on both these occasions disorder did not take on a frightening shape because until then, neither was there any prepared ground for its growth and development, nor did a favourable climate exist. However, in the time of Hazrat ‘Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, both these factors came to exist and this plant, which I shall call the ‘plant of disorder,’ strengthened on very firm foundations. In the time of Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) it grew and developed to such extent that its branches well nigh extended to cover all the corners of the Muslim world under their shade. However, Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) recognised the harms of this plant in good time and cut it to the ground with a fatal blow. Though he could not manage to completely wipe it out, but at least he was able to restrict its area of influence to a great extent.
In my opinion, the third cause was that although a large number of people had brought about a grand transformation in their lives due to the effect of the luminous rays of Islam, but this could in no way fulfil the shortcoming which always makes an individual require a teacher for the acquisition of religious and worldly knowledge. Even in the era of the Holy Prophet(sa), when people accepted Islam in troops, the very same danger existed began to emerge. However, God had promised him that in this era of progress, those who would accept Islam would be safeguarded from evil influence. After his demise, although a violent wave of apostasy surged forth, it was instantly contained and people learnt of the reality of Islam. However, after the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa) when the conquests of Persia, Syria and Egypt took place, the spiritual victories, which Islam achieved due to its interaction with other religions, became the very cause for the disturbance of its political order. Millions of people entered Islam and upon witnessing its magnificent teaching, became so devoted to it that they became prepared to offer their lives. However, the number of new converts to Islam multiplied so rapidly that no satisfactory arrangement could be made for their education. As is the rule and from an in depth study of the human mind it can be concluded that due to their initial enthusiasm the need for their education and training was not felt. They imitated the Muslims completely and followed every instruction with pleasure. However, as this initial fervance began to subside, those who had not received the opportunity to undergo spiritual training began to feel as if adherence to Islamic injunctions was a burden. As soon as this new enthusiasm died down, their old habits began to re-emerge. Anyone can commit mistakes and man learns through experience. However, if these people had truly desired to gain something, then after having stumbled for a while they would have eventually learned. In the era of the Holy Prophet(sa) conditions were such, that once a person committed a crime and he himself confessed to his crime and did not fear being stoned, even after the Holy Prophet(sa) pointed out that when Allah the Exalted covers up a sin then why should one disgrace himself.3 In contrast, now, if even the smallest punishment was imposed in order to maintain the boundaries of the shariah, these people disliked this. Hence, there were some people who would not refrain from violating the shariah because Islam had not penetrated their hearts. Moreover, when the shariah would be upheld, these very people would be infuriated and raise objections against the Khalifah and his officials. In addition, they would harbour malice in their hearts against them and plot to uproot their administration altogether.
The fourth cause for conflict, in my view, was that Islam progressed at such an extraordinary pace that in the beginning, its opponents were unable to perceive this. The Makkans were still living under a false sense of pride over their might and thought that the Holy Prophet(sa) was weak, when Makkah was conquered and Islam spread throughout the Arab peninsula. The Caesar of Rome and Khosrau of Persia viewed this growing power of Islam with such contempt in the likeness of a spectator, just as a tyrant wrestler looks upon the first attempt of a child to stand up.
The Persian and Byzantine Empires were shattered into pieces with a single blow from the strike of the Prophet Muhammad(sa). So long as the Muslims were engaged in confronting these tyrant governments, that had forced people into slavery for over hundreds, if not thousands of years, and their humble and ill-equipped army was at war with the massive and well-equipped armies of their enemies, the opponents of Islam thought that the Muslim victories were temporary and soon this wave would take another turn; and this nation, rising in the likeness of a storm would soon fly away like a tornado. However, there astonishment knew no bounds when in a period of a few years the horizon was cleared and the banner of Islam began to flutter in all four corners of the world. This was such a triumph which left the enemy dumbfounded and it drowned in a sea of surprise and astonishment. In the eyes of enemy forces, the companions as well as those who gained their company began to appear as supernatural beings. The enemy lost all hope. However, when a period of time elapsed after these victories and their awe and astonishment lessened, and their fear lessened after meeting the Companions(as), the thought of opposing Islam and establishing false religions developed. As far as argumentation was concerned, they could not contest with the pure teachings of Islam. Governments had been wiped out and the one tool that was always used against the truth i.e., oppression and tyranny, had been destroyed. Now only one avenue remained, which was to do the work of an enemy in the guise of a friend, and through agreement, create divide. Hence, various evil people who were becoming blinded by the light of Islam accepted the religion outwardly, but actually sought to destroy it after apparently converting to Islam. Since the progress of Islam was associated with Khilafat, in the presence of a shepherd, the wolf was unable to attack. Therefore, it was proposed that Khilafat be wiped out and the thread of harmony which tied the Muslims of the entire world together be torn, so that the Muslims could be deprived of the blessings of unity. In this manner, false religions could once again find an avenue of progress by taking advantage of the absence of a leader and no danger would exist for their deceit and deception to be revealed.
In my opinion, these are the four causes which gave rise to the grand rebellion that shook the very foundation of the Muslim ummah in the era of Hazrat ‘Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him. There were times when the enemy was overjoyed by the thought that now, this magnificent fortress would crumble to the ground, along with its roofs and walls. This religion had foretold that it would achieve the following magnificent future:
“He it is Who has sent His Messenger with [the guidance] and the Religion of truth, so that He may cause it to prevail of all other religions.”4
The enemy believed that this religion would now be eradicated once and for all.