Although the companions were no longer given a chance to gather in the company of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), even still, they were not negligent of their duty. They had divided their work into two parts as a wise measure at the time. Those men who were elderly and who due to their morals, possessed a great influence on the public, spent their time admonishing the rebels; as for those people who possessed no such influence, or were young, would remain engaged in efforts to protect Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra).
From among the former group, Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) and Hazrat Sa‘d bin Waqqas(ra), the conqueror of Persia, strove the hardest to suppress the conflict. Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) had especially devoted his time to this cause, leaving aside all his other work. As such, a person by the name of ‘Abdur-Rahman, who was an eye witness of these events, says:
“In the days of disorder, I saw that Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) had abandoned all his work. Day and night, he would remain concerned about how he could calm the temper of the enemies of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) and bring an end to his sufferings. On one occasion, when there was a delay in conveying water to Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), he became very displeased with Hazrat Talhah(ra) to whom this task was assigned. Hazrat ‘Ali(ra) did not rest until water had reached the home of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra).”
In ones and twos, whenever they could find an opportunity, the second group began to gather in the house of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) or in neighbouring houses. This party had firmly resolved that they would give their lives but not let Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) come in harm’s way. Besides the children of Hazrat ‘Ali(ra), Hazrat Talhah(ra) and Hazrat Zubair(ra), even a party of the companions themselves was a part of this group. These men guarded the house of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), day and night, and would not allow any enemy to reach Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra). Although this small party could not stand up to such a large army, but since the rebels were after an excuse to kill Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), they would not put up much of a resistance either. The events of that time shed such light upon the level of devotion Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) possessed for the welfare of Islam that one is left astonished. An army of three thousand strong stood at his door and no strategy to save himself was devised. He even stopped those who endeavoured to save him saying, “Leave! Do not put your lives in danger. These people only hold enmity for me; they have no objection against you.” His eye could foresee the time when Islam would be in grave danger at the hands of these rebels; not only apparent unity, but even the spiritual administration would reach the verge of falling apart. Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) knew that at that time each and every Companion(ra) would be required for the protection and establishment of Islam. For this reason, he did not want the companions to lose their lives in a futile attempt to save his life and continued advising all of them not to withstand the rebels. He desired that insofar as possible, the community which had benefited from the company of the Messenger of Allah, should be safeguarded, in order to dispel disorders which were to arise in the future. Despite his instructions, however, the companions who would happen to find an opportunity to reach the house of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) did not fail in fulfilling their obligation. They gave precedence to the danger at hand over such dangers that were yet to come. If the lives [of the companions] were secure at the time, then it was only because the rebels felt no need to hurry and were on the lookout for an excuse [to murder Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra)]. Ultimately, however, the hour arrived when it became impossible to wait any longer, because the heart-rendering message of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), which he had sent to the Muslims who were gathering for hajj, had now been read out before the crowd of pilgrims. The valley of Makkah echoed this voice from one end to another. The Muslim pilgrims had decided that after the hajj, they would not remain deprived of gaining the spiritual reward of performing jihad as well; they would uproot the rebels of Egypt and their associates. Rebel spies had informed their people of this intention and now signs of agitation began to arise in their camp. This was to such extent that murmurings within the rebel camp began to take place suggesting that now there was no other option but to kill this man; if they did not kill him, there would be no uncertainty in their own massacre at the hands of the Muslims.
This anxiety was further intensified by the news that the letters of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) had now reached Syria, Kufah and Basrah as well, and the people there, who were already waiting for the orders of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), had been further enraged upon the receipt of these letters. Not to mention that taking it upon themselves, the companions had drawn the attention of all the Muslims towards their obligations in mosques and gatherings, and they had issued the verdict of performing jihad against the rebels. The companions said, “A person, who does not perform jihad on this day, is as if he has done nothing.” If in Kufah ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amr(ra), ‘Abdullah bin Abi Aufa(ra), Hanzalah bin Rabi‘ At-Tamimi(ra) and other noble companions had roused the people into supporting the people of Madinah, then ‘Imran bin Hasin(ra), Anas bin Malik(ra), Hisham bin ‘Amir(ra) and other companions had done the same in Basrah. If in Syria ‘Ubadah bin Samit(ra), Abu Umamah1 and other companions had motivated the people to answer to the call of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) then Kharijah and others had done the same in Egypt. Armies from every province were joining forces and marching towards Madinah.2
1 According to the narration of Tabari, Hazrat Abu Darda’ Ansari was also among those companions who urged people to support Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra) in Syria. However, it appears from other narrations that he had already passed away prior to the martyrdom of Hazrat ‘Uthman(ra), as established by Isti‘ab and Isabah. This is correct, however, as mentioned earlier, during his lifetime, he too endeavoured to wipe out this conflict.
2 Tarikhut-Tabari, vol. 5, p. 154-155, Dhikru Masiri Mann Sara Ila Dhi Khashabin Min Ahli Misra….., Published by Darul-Fikr, Beirut, 2002 edition