The true nature of the relationship between Abu Dhar al-Ghifari and `Uthman ibn `Affan

Amongst the many praise worthy traits which Allah Ta’ala attributed to the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the noble Qur’an is the quality of compassion, as mentioned in the concluding verses of Surah al-Fath: “Muhammad is the Rasul of Allah, and those with him are severe against the disbelievers compassionate amongst themselves.” Much effort has been made to undermine the status of the Sahabah and to portray them to be at variance with the praise and titles which Allah, the Most High, has adorned them with. One such incident often cited in this regard is the alleged incident which occurred between Sayyidina ‘Uthman and Sayyidina Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. This article highlights the true sequence of events and relationship that existed between them, in light of authentic reports, proving them to be undoubtedly deserving of the accolades they were accorded.

 
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The true nature of the relationship between Abu Dhar al Ghifari and ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan

 

Summary – of the story

Those who hated ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu criticised him for (allegedly) banishing Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to al Rabdhah, and some historians claim that Ibn al Sawda’ (‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’) met Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Syria and convinced him to follow the path of asceticism and kindness to the poor, believing it to be obligatory to give in charity whatever was surplus to one’s needs, and he led him to criticise Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Ubadah ibn al Samit radiya Llahu ‘anhu took him to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he said to him: “This by Allah is the one who sent Abu Dhar to you.” So Muawiyah expelled him from Syria.[1]

Ahmed Amin tried to find similarities between the view of Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the view of the Persian Mazdak, and he said that the similarity was that Ibn Saba’ had lived in Yemen and visited Iraq, and the Persians had been in Yemen and Iraq before Islam, so it was possible that he had taken this idea from the followers of Mazdak in Iraq, and Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had embraced these ideas with good intentions.[2]

All that is said in the story of Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu that ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu is criticised for, is false and is not based on any sound report. All that is said about Abu Dhar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu contact with Ibn Saba’ is undoubtedly false.[3] The truth of the matter is that Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu went to al Rabdhah voluntarily and that was based on his understanding of a verse which differed from the understanding of other Sahabah, but he insisted on his view and no one else agreed with him, so he asked for permission to go and live in al Rabdhah[4], which he used to frequent at the time of the Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. His settling there was not an enforced exile or a form of house arrest, and the khalifah did not force him to recant his view, because it had some merit, but he did not oblige the Muslims to follow it.[5]

The soundest report about the story of Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is that which was narrated by al Bukhari in his Sahih from Zaid ibn Wahb radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said:

 

I passed by al Rabdhah and there I saw Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. I said to him: “Why did you settle here?” He said: “I was in Syria, and Muawiyah and I disagreed concerning the verse:

یٰاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْٓا اِنَّ کَثِیْرًا مِّنَ الْاَحْبَارِ وَ الرّهْبَانِ لَیَاْكُلُوْنَ اَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَیَصُدُّوْنَ عَنْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰهِؕ   وَالَّذِیْنَ یَكْنِزُوْنَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا یُنْفِقُوْنَهَا فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰهِ ۙ   فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ اَلِیْمٍ

O you who believe! Verily, there are many of the [Jewish] rabbis and the [Christian] monks who devour the wealth of mankind in falsehood, and hinder (them) from the way of Allah [i.e. Allah’s religion of Islamic Monotheism]. And those who hoard up gold and silver (Al Kanz: the money, the zakat of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the way of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment.[6]

 

Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said that this was revealed concerning the people of the Book; but I said it was revealed concerning us and them. There was a debate between me and him concerning that, and he wrote to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu complaining about me. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu wrote to me telling me to come to Madinah, so I came, and the people gathered around me as if they had never seen me before. I mentioned that to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he said to me: “If you want to move (outside Madinah) but still be near us that is fine.” That is why I settled here, and even if they appointed an Abyssinian over me I would hear and obey.[7]

 

This report points to a number of important issues:

1. Zaid ibn Wahb radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him to verify what was rumoured by those who hated ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu: did ‘Uthman banish him or did Abu Dhar choose this place? The context shows that he left after the people crowded around him asking him about the reason why he had left Syria. The text of the hadith did not say that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu told him to go to al Rabdhah, rather he chose it himself. This is supported by what Ibn Hajar said, narrating that ‘Abd-Allah ibn Samit said:

I entered with Abu Dhar upon ‘Uthman and he uncovered his head and said: “By Allah, I am not one of them – meaning the rebels” – and he said: “We only sent for you so that you could be near us in Madinah.” He said: “I have no need of that; let me go to al Rabdhah.” And he said: “Yes.”[8]

 

2. He said: “I was in Syria.” The reason why he was living in Syria is that which was narrated by Abu Ya’la via Zaid ibn Wahb:

Abu Dhar told me: “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to me:

اِذَا بَلَغَ الْبِنَاءُ – اَىْ المَدِيْنَةَ – سَلْعًا ، فَارْتَحِلْ اِلَي شَامِ

When construction in Madinah reaches Sala’, leave for Syria.

When construction reached Sala’, I came to Syria and lived there.”[9]

 

According to another report, Umm Dhar said:

By Allah, ‘Uthman never told Abu Dhar to go to al Rabdhah but the Rasul of Allah said:

اِذَا بَلَغَ الْبِنَاءُ – اَىْ المَدِيْنَةَ – سَلْعًا فَخْرُجْ مِنْهَا

When construction in Madinah reaches Sala’, leave (the city).[10]

 

3. The story of Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu with regard to wealth stems from his understanding of the verse:

یٰاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْٓا اِنَّ کَثِیْرًا مِّنَ الْاَحْبَارِ وَ الرّهْبَانِ لَیَاْكُلُوْنَ اَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَیَصُدُّوْنَ عَنْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰهِؕ   وَالَّذِیْنَ یَكْنِزُوْنَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا یُنْفِقُوْنَهَا فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰهِۙ   فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ اَلِیْمٍ﴿ۙ34﴾ یَّوْمَ یُحْمٰی عَلَیْهَا فِیْ نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُكْوٰی بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنُوْبُهُمْ وَظُهُوْرُهُمْؕ   هٰذَا مَا کَنَزْتُمْ لِاَنْفُسِكُمْ فَذُوْقُوْا مَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْنِزُوْنَ

O you who believe! Verily, there are many of the [Jewish] rabbis and the [Christian] monks who devour the wealth of mankind in falsehood, and hinder [them] from the way of Allah [i.e. Allah’s religion of Islamic Monotheism]. And those who hoard up gold and silver [Al Kanz: the money, the zakat of which has not been paid] and spend them not in the way of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment. On the Day when that [Al Kanz] will be heated in the fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [and it will be said unto them:] “This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard.”[11]

 

Al Bukhari narrated a report which indicates that Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu focused on the punishment mentioned – “On the Day when that (Al Kanz) will be heated …” – and he used to tell people about that to make them fear the punishment. It was narrated that al Ahnaf ibn Qays said: I sat with some people of Quraysh and there came a man with dishevelled hair and clothing, who came and sat with them, then he said: “Give bad news to the hoarders of heated stones that will be heated for them in the Fire of Hell, then they will be placed on the breast of one of them until they come out from his back, and they will be placed on his back until they come out from his front, and he will be trembling.” Then he went away and sat by a pillar, and I followed him and sat with him, and I did not know who he was. I said to him: “I think that the people did not like what you said.” He said: “They do not understand anything.”

 

Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu quoted as evidence the words of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

مَا اُحِبُّ لِىْ مِثْلَ اُحُدٍ ذَهَبًا ، اُنْفِقُهُ كُلَّهُ اِلَّا ثَلَاثَةَ دَنَانِىْرَ

I would not like to have the equivalent of Mount Uhud in gold, but I would spend it (in charity) all except three dinars.[12]

 

4. The majority of the Sahabah disagreed with Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and interpreted the warning as applying to the withholding of zakat. They quoted as evidence for that the hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said: The Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

لَيْسَ فِىْمَا دُوْنَ خَمْسِ اَوَاقٍ صَدَقَةٌ ، وَ لَيْسَ فِىْمَا دُوْنَ خَمْسِ ذَوْدٍ صَدَقَةٌ ، وَ لَيْسَ فِىْمَا دُوْنَ خَمْسِ اَوْسُقٍ صَدَقَةٌ

There is no zakat on less than five uqiyahs, there is no zakat on less than five camels, and there is no zakat on less than five wasaqs.[13]

 

Al Hafiz Ibn Hajar said:

What is understood from the hadith is that anything more than five is subject to zakat, which implies that any kind of wealth in which zakat is paid is not included in this warning, and whatever wealth is left after paying zakat is not regarded as kanz.[14]

 

Ibn Zaid said:

Anything less than five is not subject to zakat, and nothing is due on it, so it is definitely not kanz. Allah praises those who give zakat, and the one who is praised for giving that which is due from his wealth cannot be condemned for keeping what is left of his wealth.[15]

 

Al Hafiz said:

We can sum it up by saying: That which is not subject to zakat cannot be called kanz, because it is forgiven. The same applies to the wealth on which zakat has been paid, because it is permissible to keep what is left after paying zakat and it is not regarded as kanz.[16]

 

Ibn ‘Abd al Barr said:

The majority are of the view that the blameworthy kind of kanz is that on which zakat has not been paid. This is indicated by the marfu’ hadith of Abu Hurayrah: “If you have paid the zakat on your wealth, you have done your duty,” and no one disagreed with that except a group of ascetics such as Abu Dhar.[17]

 

5. Perhaps Abu Dhar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu attitude towards spending may be explained by the report narrated by Imam Ahmed from Shaddad ibn ‘Aws radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said:

Abu Dhar would hear ahadith from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in which there was some strictness, then he would go back to his people and convey what he had heard with some strictness, then the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would grant a concession later on, but Abu Dhar did not hear of it, so he continued to adhere to the strict instructions.[18]

 

6. The words: “If you want to move (outside Madinah) but still be near us that is fine” indicate that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to move outside Madinah in a kind manner, but he did not order him to do so or tell him where to go. If Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had refused to move, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu would not have forced him to do so, but Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was obedient to the khalifah because he said at the end of the hadith: “even if they appointed an Abyssinian over me I would hear and obey.”[19]

Another indication that he hated fitnah and rebellion against the ruler to whom allegiance had been sworn is the report narrated by ibn Sa’d, which says that some of the people of Kufah said to Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu when he was in al Rabdhah: This man did such and such to you – why do you not you fight him?” He said: “No; even if ‘Uthman asked me to march from the east to the west, I would obey him.”[20]

 

7. The reason why Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu moved to a place outside Madinah, or ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him to do that, was that fitnah (turmoil) had begun to rear its head in various regions, and those who bore grudges had begun to spread false rumours, and they wanted to make use of Abu Dhar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu condemnation of accumulation of wealth, as he insisted on his views. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not want Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to go far away, and he thought it better to give precedence to warding off something bad rather than seeking some benefit, because Abu Dhar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu staying near Madinah served the important interest of conveying his knowledge to the seekers of knowledge, but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu nevertheless thought it better to ward off the bad consequences that he thought would result from people following his strict views on this issue.

 

8. Abu Bakr ibn al ‘Arabi said:

 

Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was an ascetic who thought that the people were acquiring too much of mounts and clothing when they started being able to afford them, so he denounced them; he wanted people to give all their wealth in charity and distribute it to the poor, but that is something that is not obligatory. There was some disagreement between Abu Dhar and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in Syria, so Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu left and went to Madinah, where people gathered around him, and he started to propagate his views. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to him: “It is better to keep away from people, meaning: you are following views that make you unfit to mix with people.”

 

9. Whoever was following a view like that of Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was required to isolate himself and not mix with people, and everyone was allowed to keep and enjoy that which is not forbidden in shari’ah. So he left as a pious ascetic, leaving behind a group of pious people, and both were good and blessed. Abu Dhar’s way was better, but not everyone can attain that, because if they did that life could not continue. Glory be to the One Who has made people of different statuses and positions.[21]

Ibn al ‘Arabi said:

 

There was also some disagreement between Abu al Darda’ and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, as Abu al Darda’ was an ascetic and also a judge in Syria. When he became very strict in adhering to the path of truth, and he wanted to apply the way of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu to people who could not put up with that, they dismissed him, and he left and went to Madinah. All of that served interests that did not undermine the religious commitment of anyone and did not affect the status of anyone at all. Abu al Darda’ and Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma were free from any faults, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the most free from any faults and was the most honest. Whatever reports say that Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was banished and mention a reason for those are all false.[22]

 

10. None of the Sahabah told Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he was wrong, because his view was praiseworthy for those who are able to follow it. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not tell Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to recant his views, rather he asked him to refrain from denouncing people for what they had accumulated of permissible wealth. The reports which say that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu forbade Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to issue fatawa altogether did not reach the level of sahih.[23] The sahih report narrated by al Bukhari states that Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “If you were to put the sword here – and he pointed to the back of his neck – and I thought that I could convey something that I heard from the Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam before you killed me, I would do so.”[24] There is no report in al Bukhari that suggests that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu forbade Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to issue fatawa, because forbidding a sahabi to issue fatawa without stating a reason is no easy matter.[25]

 

11. If ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had forbidden him to issue fatawa altogether, he would have chosen for him a place where people would not see him, or imprisoned him in Madinah, or barred him from entering Madinah. Instead he gave him permission to settle in a place through which many people passed, because Al Rabdhah was one of the halting places for Iraqi pilgrims. Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to come to Madinah frequently and pray in the Rasul’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam masjid. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to him: “If you want to move (outside Madinah) but still be near us,” that is fine and al Rabdhah was not far from Madinah. It was close to the pasture of al Rabdhah where the zakat camels grazed.”

Hence it is narrated that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu allocated a herd of the zakat camels to him, and he gave him two slaves and a stipend. Al Rabdhah was the best stop on the road to Makkah.[26] After quoting the reports which say that Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu isolated himself on his own initiative, Imam al Tabari said:

As for the others, they narrated many things about the reason for that, and terrible things that I do not want to mention.[27]

 

The historical truth is that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not banish Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, rather Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him for permission and he gave it. But the enemies of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu spread the rumour that he banished him, hence when Ghalib al Qattan asked Hassan al Basri rahimahu Llah: “Did ‘Uthman banish Abu Dhar?” Hassan said: “No, Allah forbid.”[28] All the reports which say that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu banished him to al Rabdhah have weak isnad (chains of narrations) and are not free of serious faults, and their texts contain odd things that go against the sahih and Hassan reports, which show that Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked for permission to go to al Rabdhah and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave him permission.[29]

In fact, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent for him to come from Syria so that he would be close to him in Madinah. When he came from Syria, he said to him: “We sent for you for a good reason, so that you would be close to us in Madinah.”[30] He also said to him: “Stay with me and you will find the she-camel (with milk) coming to you morning and evening.”[31] Would the one who said that to him banish him?[32]

There is no report that says he banished him except one report narrated by Ibn Sa’d, but its isnad includes Buraydah ibn Sufyan al Aslami, of whom al Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: “He is not strong, and he has some Rafidi ideas.” Can the report of a Rafidi that contradicts the sahih and Hassan reports be accepted?[33] The Rawafd took full advantage of this incident and spread the rumour that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu banished Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to al Rabdhah, and that is something for which the rebels criticised him or used as a justification for their rebellion against him.[34] The Rafidi Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli (d. 726 AH) criticised ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu for that, and he added that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu beat Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu severely.[35] This was effectively refuted by Sheikh al Islam Ibn Taymiyah.[36]

The early generations of the Ummah knew this fact. When Hassan al Basri was asked whether ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had expelled Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu; he said: “No, Allah forbid.”[37] If it was said to Ibn Sirin that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu forced Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to leave, he would get very angry and say: “He went of his own accord, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not force him to leave.”[38] It is also narrated in a report which has a sahih isnad that when Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw that the people were crowding around him, he was afraid of fitnah, and he mentioned that to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu as if asking permission to leave. Then ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu responded by saying to him: “If you want to move (outside Madinah) but still be near us, that is fine.”[39]

 

Proving false the report that Ibn Saba’ influenced Abu Dhar

Sa’id al Afghani wrote in his book ‘Aisha wa al Siyasah that Ibn Saba’ played a major role in the fitnah, and he attributes to him all the conspiracies, turmoil and battles that happened among the Sahabah. He thinks that these well-planned conspiracies were the work of experienced devils that steered them and nurtured them until they came to fruition in all regions. Hence he wrote this heading: Ibn Saba’, the feared, hidden hero.[40] It seems that al Afghani exaggerated about Ibn Saba’ when he described him as a man of brilliance and deep insight, farsighted and crafty, who had a great impact on the masses.[41]

He insists that he was one of the heroes of a Talmudic secret society whose aim was to bring about the downfall of the Islamic state.[42] He almost suggests that he was working in the interests of the Byzantine state from which the Muslims had recently seized two important regions, namely Egypt and Syria, apart from other areas in the Mediterranean, and he finds it strange that Ibn Saba’ was active in many fields, including religion, politics and war.[43]

He thinks that Ibn Saba’ was very lucky in meeting Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and he tailored his views to the inclinations of the latter, and he suggests that the one who helped him to do that had a good understanding of people’s moods and inclinations and had the help of an organised spy network. But this claim — that Ibn Saba’ had an influence on Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu — has no basis in truth for a number of reasons:

  1. When Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent word to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu complaining about Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu; he made no reference to the influence of Ibn Saba’; he only said: I cannot deal with Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu any more, he has done such and such.[44]
  2. Ibn Kathir mentioned the dispute that took place between Abu Dhar and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in Syria in more than one place in his book, but he does not mention Ibn Saba’ in any of them.[45]
  3. In Sahih al Bukhari there is a hadith which points to the basis of the dispute between Abu Dhar and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, and it makes no reference at all to Ibn Saba’.[46]
  4. In the most famous books of biography of the Sahabah there is mention of Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu dispute with Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu; but there is no mention of Ibn Saba’ having any influence on Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[47]
  5. The report to that effect is mentioned in al Tabari thus

… As for those who justify Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu action of sending Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Madinah, they mention the story of Ibn al Sawda’s coming to Syria and meeting Abu Dhar, etc.[48]

 

But this report which was narrated by al Tabari is flawed and false, as it contradicts the historical facts, for the following reasons:

  • They say that Ibn Saba’ became Muslim at the time of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and that he was a Jew from Yemen, and he started his destructive activities in the Hijaz, but they do not say that he met anyone in Hijaz.
  • He first appeared in Basrah three years after ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was appointed as its governor. ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amir came after Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu in 29 A.H, thus he must have appeared in Basrah in 32 A.H, and Ibn ‘Amir expelled him from Basrah on the day of ‘Arafah.
  • They said that he went to Kufah where he spread false ideas and gathered followers, and incited him (Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu) against Muawiyah, but he must have spent some time in Syria in order to have known about its people and lay his plans to spread his cause among them. If we assume for argument’s sake that it was known what he was up to in Syria at the end of 33 A.H, then what would you say if you knew that according to the sahih reports, Abu Dhar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu debate with Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu took place in 30 A.H and he went back to Madinah and died in al Rabdhah in 31 or 32 A.H? What this means is that Ibn Saba’ appeared in Basrah at the time when Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had already passed away, so how and where could he have met him?[49]
 

Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not influenced at all by the views of the Jew ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saba’; he remained in al Rabdhah until he died and was not involved at all in any of the turmoil that took place.[50] Moreover, he narrated one of the ahadith which forbid indulging in fitnah.[51]

 

The demise of Abu Dhar and ‘Uthman’s adding his family to his own

During the campaign to Tabuk it was said to the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu has fallen behind and his camel is going slow. He said:

دُعُوْهُ فَاِنْ ىَّكُ فِىْهِ خَىْرٌ فَسَىَلْحَقُهُ اللّٰهُ بِكُمْ ، وَاِنْ ىَّكُ غَىْرَ ذَلِكَ فَقَدْ اَرَاحَكُمُ اللّٰهُ مِنْهُ

Let him be; if there is any good in him, Allah will cause him to catch up with you, and if there is no good in him, Allah will relieve you of him.

 

Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu urged his camel to speed up, and when it was too slow for him, he took his luggage and carried it on his back, and then he set out on foot, following the footsteps of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Rasul of Allah made a stop, and the Muslims kept a look out. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

كُنْ اَبَا ذَرٍّ

Be Abu Dhar.[52]

 

When the people looked, they said: “O Rasul of Allah, by Allah it is Abu Dhar.” The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

رَحِمَ اللّٰهُ اَبَا ذَرٍّ ، يَمْشِيْ وَحْدَهُ ، وَىَمُوْتُ وَحْدَهُ ، وَ يَبْعَثُ وَحْدَهُ

May Allah have mercy on Abu Dhar; he is walking alone and he will die alone and be raised alone.[53]

 

Time passed and the Caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu came, and Abu Dhar radiya Llahu ‘anhu settled in al Rabdhah. When he was passing away, he told his wife and his slave: When I pass on, wash me and shroud me, and put me at the side of the road, and when the first caravan passes by you, say: “This is Abu Dhar.” When he passed on, they did that for him, and a caravan appeared but they did not notice it until the mounts nearly stepped on his bier. But Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu was among the people who had come from Kufah, and he said: “What is this?” It was said: “The bier of Abu Dhar.” Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu started weeping and said: “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spoke the truth:

رَحِمَ اللّٰهُ اَبَا ذَرٍّ ، يَمْشِيْ وَحْدَهُ ، وَىَمُوْتُ وَحْدَهُ ، وَ يَبْعَثُ وَحْدَهُ

May Allah have mercy on Abu Dhar; he is walking alone and he will die alone and be raised alone.[54]

 

They washed him, shrouded him, offered the funeral prayer for him and buried him, then when they wanted to move on, his daughter said to them: “Abu Dhar conveys salam to you and adjures you not to leave until you have eaten.” So they did that, then they took them with them and brought them to Makkah, where they gave news of (Abu Dhar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu) death to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and he added his daughter to his family.[55]

 

In one report it says:

 

When we had buried him, his daughter invited us to eat and we wanted to take her with us, and Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “The Amir al Mu’minin is close by, let us consult him.” So we went to Makkah and told him the news, and he said: “May Allah have mercy on Abu Dhar and forgive him for staying in al Rabdhah.” On the way back, ‘Uthman went with them and travelled via al Rabdhah, and he added (Abu Dhar’s) family to his own, then he headed for Madinah and we headed for Iraq.[56]

 


[1]Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr aI-Islam, 2/216,217

[2]Fajr al Islam, p. 110

[3]Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/217

[4]  Al Rabdhah was a station on the road between Iraq and Makkah

[5]Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/217

[6]  Surah al Tawbah: 34

[7]Al Bukhari, Kitab al Zakat, no. 1406

[8]Fath al Bari, 3/274

[9] Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/219

[10] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 2/72. Its isnad is sahih

[11]  Surah al Tawbah: 34-35

[12]Al Bukhari, Kitab aI-Zakat, no. 1408

[13]Al Bukhari, Kitab al Zakat, no. 1405

[14]Fath al Bari, 3/272

[15]Fitnah Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/107

[16]  ibid.

[17]Fath al Bari, 3/273

[18]Al Musnad, 5/125

[19]Al Bukhari, 1406

[20]Al Tabaqat, 4/227

[21]  Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 77

[22]  ibid.

[23]Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/223

[24]Al Bukhari, Kitab al ‘Ilm, 1/29

[25]Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/224

[26] Tarikh al Tabari, 5/286

[27]  op. cit., 5/288

[28] Tarikh al Madinah, by Ibn Shibh, p. 1037. Its isnad is sahih.

[29] Fitnah Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/110

[30]Tarikh al Madinah, p. 1036, 1037. Its isnad is Hassan.

[31]Al Tabaqat by Ibn Sa’d, 4/226, 227

[32]Fitnah Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/111

[33]  ibid.

[34]  ibid.

[35]Minhaj al Sunnah by Ibn Taymiyah, 66183

[36]  op. cit., 6/271-355

[37]Tarikh al Madinah, 1037; its isnad is sahih.

[38]  ibid.

[39]  ibid.

[40]‘Aisha wa al Siyasah, Sa’id al Afghani, p. 60

[41]  ibid.

[42]  ibid.

[43]  ibid.

[44]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/285

[45]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/170-180

[46]  ibid.

[47]‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ wa Athruhu fi Ihdath al Fitnah, Sulaiman al ‘Awdah p. 51

[48]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/285

[49] Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/225

[50]Ihdath al Fitnah al Ula bayna al Sahabah fi Dow’ Qawa’id al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, by Dr. ‘Abd al ‘Aziz Dukhan, p. 174

[51]  op. cit., p. 174

[52]  This sentence appears in imperative form but is meant as a dua’, hoping that Allah would cause it to be Abu Dharr. Al Hakim 3/50

[53]Al Sirah al Nabawiyyah by Ibn Hisham, 4/178 Al Hakim 3/50

[54]  op. cit., 4/478, Al Hakim 3/50

[55]Al Tamhid wa al Bayan fi Maqtal al Shahid ‘Uthman, p. 87,88

[56]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/314