Different views among the Sahabah concerning the way to carry out retaliation against the murderers of `Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu

Impact of the Saba’iyyah in causing turmoil.
May 8, 2015
Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu `anhu sets out for Kufah
May 8, 2015

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Different views among the Sahabah concerning the way to carry out retaliation against the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu

The difference that emerged between Amir al Mu’minin, on the one hand, and Talhah, Zubair and Aisha on the other, and after that between ‘Ali and Muawiyah, was not because these people rejected the khilafah and leadership of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, or that they denied that he was entitled to be the Khalifah and ruler in charge of the Muslims. That was something upon which they all agreed.

Ibn Hazm said:


Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu never denied ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu virtue or his entitlement to the khilafah. But in his opinion, he believed that priority should be given to settling the issue of retaliation with regard to the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu over the issue of allegiance, and he thought that he himself was most entitled to seek retaliation for the blood of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[1]


Ibn Taymiyyah said:


Muawiyah did not claim to be the khalifah, and allegiance was not sworn to him as khalifah when he fought ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He did not fight on the basis that he deserved that position. Muawiyah’s party affirmed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the khalifah, and Muawiyah would confirm to anyone who asked him that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the khalifah. Neither Muawiyah nor his Sahabah thought of initiating fighting against ‘Ali and his Sahabah, and they did not do that.[2]


Ibn Taymiyyah also said:


Each of the two groups confirmed that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not as qualified as ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu with regard to being khalifah, and that he could not be khalifah when it was possible to appoint ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to that position. ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu superiority, seniority, knowledge, religious commitment, courage and all his virtues were obvious and well known to him, as was also the case with regard to his fellow khulafa’ Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum.[3]


The difference of opinion did not result from rejection of ‘Ali’s khilafah; the difference was only concerning the issue of bringing the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu justice. Even then, their difference of opinion was not about this issue itself; rather it was about the way in which to bring them to justice. Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu agreed with Mu’awiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu in principle that the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu must be brought to justice, but his view was that the issue of bringing them to justice should be set aside until things settled down and unity was achieved.[4]


Al Nawawi said:


It should be noted that the reason for these battles was that the issues were not clear. Because they were so unclear, they held different views, and three groups emerged:

  • a group whose view was that one party was in the right, and that those who differed with them were transgressors; they thought that they had to support this party and fight the transgressors, according to what they believed, and that it was not permissible for the one who reached that conclusion to withhold help and support from the leader who was in the right by fighting the transgressors, according to this belief;
  • a group that held the opposite view; they thought that the other party was in the right, so it became obligatory for them to support that party and fight those who transgressed against them;
  • a third party that was undecided about the issue and confused about it and did not reach any conclusion as to which party was more in the right; they kept away from both and believed that this staying away was what they were required to do with regard to this situation, because it was not permissible for them to help anyone in fighting other Muslims unless it was clear to them that they deserved to be fought, and that if they concluded that one of the two parties was closer to the right, it would not be permissible for them to withhold their support in fighting the transgressors.[5]

Zubair, Talhah and Aisha and their supporters set out to Basrah to set things straight

Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma went to Makkah and met with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. Their arrival in Makkah came in the month of Rabi’ al Akhir 36 AH, approximately four months after the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[6]

In Makkah, negotiations began with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha about going out on a campaign in pursuit of the murderers. There was heavy psychological pressure on those who felt that they had done nothing to stop the murder of the wronged khalifah.

They blamed themselves for letting him down, even though ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the one who forbade anyone who wanted to defend him from doing so, because he wanted to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sake of Allah. They thought that there was no way to expiate this sin except by going out to seek vengeance.

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha said:

‘Uthman was slain wrongfully, and by Allah, I shall certainly seek vengeance for his blood.[7]


Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

There were some shortcomings on my part with regard to ‘Uthman, and there is no way I can ever repent except to shed my own blood in vengeance for his blood.[8]


And Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

Let us inspire the people so that we may seek vengeance for his blood, lest it be forgotten, because forgetting it will lead to the weakening of the authority of Allah among us forever. If we do not deter people from doing this again, there will be no leader except that people of that kind will kill him.[9]


This intense pressure on nerves and souls was sufficient to stir people up and motivate them to go out on the campaign. When they went, they realised that they were going out to face unknown turmoil’s, and each one of them left his home not expecting to return to it. The children bade farewell weeping, and the day when these people left Makkah for Basrah was known as the day of wailing, a day that was unprecedented with regard to weeping for Islam.[10]

A number of factors in Makkah made them think seriously of striving to achieve their goal. One was the fact that the Umayyad’s had fled from Madinah and settled in Makkah. In addition, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir – the governor of Basrah at the time of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu – was in Makkah urging the people to go out and offering them material help.

Ya’la ibn Umayyah, who had left Yemen to help the khalifah ‘Uthman, had learned upon his arrival in Makkah that the khalifah had been killed. He had with him considerable amounts of money, weapons and mounts, all of which be offered as help in pursuing the murderer of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This was sufficient to encourage those who were looking for a way to pursue the murderers.

They had the means to gather a force to pursue the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but where would they begin? A discussion took place among them as to which direction they should take. Some of them, led by Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, said that Madinah was where they should go. Another view was that they should head towards Syria, so that they could rally there against the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

After a lengthy discussion, they settled on Basrah. There were too many of the rebels in Madinah, and they would not be able to confront them and fight them because they were fewer in number, and Syria was already under control because Muawiyah was there. Hence going to Basrah was most appropriate at that point, because it was the least strong of the cities; from there they hoped to be able to achieve their aims.[11]

Their plan and mission was clear before they set out, during their march and when they reached Basrah: the intent was to seek vengeance for the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, to set things straight, to inform the people of what the murderers had done and to enjoin good and forbid evil.[12] Their demand was to carry out one of the hadd punishments of Allah.[13] If the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu were not punished, then every leader would be vulnerable to murder by people of that nature.[14]

As for the way in which they envisaged doing that, they intended to enter Basrah and then Kufah, seeking help from its people and others against the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Then they would call upon the people of other cities to join them, so that they could corner the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu who were present in the army of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and seize them with the minimum possible casualties.[15]

The campaign to Basrah and the anger that stirred the Sahabah were not as straightforward as they may have appeared to people. Their purpose was not simply to avenge the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as if he were just an ordinary person who had been killed, even though this also would involve a transgression of one of the sacred limits of Allah that dictated getting angry and sending armies to seek revenge.

This was much more serious because of the position and character of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, his status as khalifah, and the way in which he was killed. It was the assassination of a shar’i figure, the khalifah, whom the Muslims regarded as the deputy of the Lawgiver in his role of protecting the religion and ruling worldly affairs in accordance with shari’ah.[16]

Hence unlawful transgression against him constituted transgressing against the Lawgiver and weakening His authority, as well as disturbing law and order for the Muslims.[17]

Aisha, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum, along with the people who accompanied them, were striving to create a groundswell of Islamic public opinion to confront this Saba’i gang who had murdered ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and had since gained significant power. They meant to do this by making the Muslims aware of what these Saba’iyyah thugs, who came from different regions and tribes, and the Bedouins and slaves who supported them, had done.

Among the group of Sahabah, who held the same view as Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, it became clear that the criminals and Saba’iyyah had a presence in ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu army. They believed that this was why it was difficult for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to confront them, because he feared for the people of Madinah.

Hence they had to try to explain the situation to the Muslims and garner support for the party that was demanding implementation of the hadd (punishments), so that this could be accomplished with minimal loss of innocent lives. That was undoubtedly a goal which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was striving to achieve too; in fact, the reports that we have seen about the discussion among Zubair and Talhah and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhum about what was happening and explaining matters to them, proves that they were fully aware of the situation.

They recognised that the Saba’iyyah had deceived the masses, and they understood how they had planted their ideas in a way which would continue to weaken the ummah to such an extent that it would not know any peace.

Hence, there was no alternative but to confront the Saba’i plan in the field of ideas, so as to cancel out their actions. This can clearly be seen in the sound reports[18] in which Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha speaks of the aims of this campaign.

Al Tabari narrated that ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf, who was ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu governor in Basrah, sent word to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha when she arrived in Basrah, asking her why she had come. She said:


By Allah, a woman in my position should not go out on a campaign without having a clear reason and making it clear to her children (meaning the Muslims). The thugs of various cities and tribes have invaded the sanctuary of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and have committed a great deal of wrong doing there, and they have offered refuge to the wrongdoers. Therefore they deserve the curse of Allah and of His Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as they killed the leader of the Muslims for no reason. They shed blood unlawfully, stole haram wealth and violated the sanctity of the sacred land and the sacred month. They transgressed against honour and killed troops. They settled in the place of people who did not want them to settle among them; they caused a great deal of harm but did not bring any benefit. I have come out among the Muslims to inform them of what these people have done, and of the pain and suffering of the people we have left behind, and to tell them (the Muslims) what they should do in order to help set things straight.

Then she recited the verse:

لا خَیْرَ فِیْ کَثِیْرٍ مِّنْ نَّجْوٰهُمْ اِلاَّ مَنْ اَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ اَوْ مَعْرُوْفٍ اَوْ اِصْلَاحٍۢ بَیْنَ النَّاسِ

There is no good in most of their secret talks save [in] him who orders sadaqah [charity in Allah’s cause], or Ma’ruf [Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained], or conciliation between mankind).[19]


Thus people joined for the purpose of setting things straight for those who Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala and the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam enjoined that, young and old, male and female.

This is what we are trying to achieve, to enjoin you to do what is right and forbid you from doing evil, and we urge you to change it.[20]

Ibn Hibban narrated that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha wrote to Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Ali’s governor in Kufah, saying:

You know about the murder of ‘Uthman, and I have come out to set things right among the people. Tell the people in your city to stay in their houses so that we can achieve what they like of setting the Muslims’ affairs straight.[21]

‘Ali sent al Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr to Aisha and the people with her to ask them why she had come. Al Qa’qa’ entered upon her, greeted her with salam and said:

O my mother, what caused you to leave your home and come to this city?

She said:

O my son, it is to set the peoples’ affairs straight.[22]

After the end of the battle on the day of the Camel, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and said to her:

May Allah forgive you.

She said:

And you too. I only wanted to set things straight.[23]


Thus we learn that she only went out on this campaign to set things straight among the people, and this is the refutation of those among the Rafidi Shia who slandered Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and said that she left her house after Allah had commanded her to stay in it, in the verse:

وَقَرْنَ فِیْ بُیُوْتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِیَّةِ

And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.[24]


The scholarly consensus is that travelling for the purpose of doing a righteous deed does not contradict the idea of staying in one’s house and not going out. This is what Aisha, the Mother of the Believers radiya Llahu ‘anha, thought when she went out to set things straight among the Muslims, accompanied by her mahram and the son of her sister, ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.[25]

Ibn Taymiyyah said, refuting the Rawafid concerning this issue:


She did not display herself as in the times of ignorance. The command to stay in their houses does not mean that women should never go out for some purpose that is enjoined, such as going out for hajj and ‘umrah, or going out with her husband when he travels. This verse was revealed during the lifetime of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took his wives with him on his journeys after that, as he took Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and others with him during his farewell pilgrimage. He sent Aisha with her brother ‘Abdul Rahman, who seated her behind him on his mount, and he took her to start her ‘umrah from Tan’im.

The farewell pilgrimage took place less than three months before the death of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, after this verse was revealed. Hence the wives of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam performed hajj after he died as they had done with him, during the khilafah of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and others, and ‘Umar would appoint ‘Uthman or ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf in charge of their caravan.

If the journey is for a legitimate purpose, then it is permissible. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha believed that this journey was in the best interests of the Muslims, and that was her opinion.[26]


Ibn al ‘Arabi said:


As for her going out to the Battle of the Camel, she did not set out to fight, but the people pinned their hopes on her and complained to her about how bad the turmoil and confusion had become. They hoped by her blessing to set things straight and that the people would show respect for her and comply when she took a stance among them. She also thought that herself, so she set out in compliance with the words of Allah:

لا خَیْرَ فِیْ کَثِیْرٍ مِّنْ نَّجْوُٰمْ اِلَّا مَنْ اَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ اَوْ مَعْرُوْفٍ اَوْ اِصْلَاحٍۢ بَیْنَ النَّاسِ

There is no good in most of their secret talks save [in] him who orders sadaqah [charity in Allah’s cause], or ma’ruf [Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained], or reconcile between mankind.[27]

The command to reconcile between people and set things straight is addressed to all people, male or female, free or slave.[28]

The following are a number of important issues having to do with her going out:


1. Was Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha forced to go out?

Al Yaqubi claimed that Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu forced Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha to go out.[29] This was the view of the author of al Imamah wa al Siyasah[30] and ibn Abi al Hadid,[31] it was also the opinion of al Daynuri.[32] The report narrated by al Dhahabi indicated that the one who forced her was ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu,[33] the son of her sister Asma’ radiya Llahu ‘anha.

This report was relied on and quoted by many researchers, such as Muhammad Sayed al Wakil,[34] who claimed that Zubair and Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma encouraged Aisha to go out; this claim was also made by Zahiyah Qadurah[35] and others, but it is not correct. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha began to demand vengeance for the slaying of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu from the moment she learned of his murder, long before Zubair and Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and other senior Sahabah reached Makkah.

It is narrated that when she set off to return to Makkah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir al Hadrami came to her and said:

Why are you coming back, O Mother of the Believers? She replied: “I am coming back because ‘Uthman has been killed unlawfully, and the affairs of the Muslims cannot be sound if these thugs continue to cause trouble. Seek vengeance for the blood of ‘Uthman and thus support Islam.”

‘Abdullah was the first one to respond.[36] Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma had not yet left Madinah; they did not leave until four months after the murder of ‘Uthman.[37]


2. Was she in control of those who were with her?

Among those who went out on the campaign with her were a number of Sahabah.[38] Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was not a woman who was in control of others and able to make people do what she wanted, as Brockelmann claims.[39]

Al Tabari’s reports confirm that the rest of the Mothers of the Believers supported her, as did those who were with her in the effort to put things straight; indeed, a considerable number of the people of Basrah supported her too.[40]

These supporters, whose numbers were not small, were not insignificant people; Talhah and Zubair described them as the best and most wise of the people of Basrah,[41] and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha described them as the righteous.[42]

The fact that this number of righteous people supported her cause could only be the result of strong belief in the cause, confidence that something could be achieved by this campaign, and certainty that its purpose was sound. Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu knew that, and he refuted the claim made by some people that those who went out with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha were a group of fools, thugs and hooligans.[43]

After the Battle of the Camel, Amir al Mu’minin stood among those of Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha party who had been slain, praying for mercy for them and recounting their virtues.[44]

We shall see below that it was not an unruly campaign in which Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha controlled and directed immature people; rather it was campaign in which some of the senior Sahabah took part.[45]


3. Attitude of the wives of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam towards those who sought vengeance for the murder of ‘Uthman

The wives of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had gone for hajj that year to get away from the turmoil. After news reached the people in Makkah that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had been murdered, they stayed on in Makkah. They had left the holy city, but they went back and followed news of the situation, waiting to see what people would do. When allegiance was sworn to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, a number of the Sahabah left Madinah, not wanting to stay there because of the presence of troublemakers from other regions. Many of the Sahabah and the Mothers of the Believers radiya Llahu ‘anhum gathered in Makkah.[46]

The other Mothers of the Believers agreed with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha about going to Madinah to seek justice. When Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, and the Sahabah who were with her, decided to go to Basrah instead, the others changed their minds and said:

We will not go anywhere except Madinah.[47]


So the idea of seeking vengeance for ‘Uthman was not something on which the Mothers of the Believers differed, but they disagreed when the plan changed from Madinah to Basrah. The Mother of the Believers Hafsah bint ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anha agreed with Aisha about going to Basrah, but her brother ‘Abdullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu insisted that she should not go; this was not based on her personal conviction.[48]

She sent her apologies to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, saying:

‘Abdullah has prevented me from going on the campaign.[49]


The commonly known reports indicate that the Mother of the Believers Umm Salamah radiya Llahu ‘anha did not share the view of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha with regard to going out on campaign to Basrah; rather she shared ‘Ali’s view.[50]

The sound reports indicate that she sent her son ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu with the message:

By Allah, he is dearer to me than my own self; he will go out with you to fight alongside you.

He went out with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and remained with him.[51]

This is a report which, upon examination, does not mean that by sending her son she had a different opinion from the other Mothers of the Believers with regard to setting things straight among the Muslims.

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha herself, along with those who were with her, did not think that this campaign meant that they were going against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu or rebelling against his khilafah, as we have seen and as events will confirm to us. We also find nothing in the sound reports to indicate that Umm Salamah went against the consensus of the believers with regard to the importance of setting things straight.[52]

The Mothers of the Believers knew that this category of a communal obligation and the guideline concerning such obligations is that it is not expected of all Muslims to carry out that duty; it is expected only of those who are qualified to carry it out. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was fully qualified to carry out that duty because of her status, age; knowledge and ability. She was the most knowledgeable of the Mothers of the Believers regarding Islam and Shari’ah, according to Muslim consensus.[53]

Moreover, she took a keen interest in current events and was highly educated and cultured. Her education had begun when she was growing up in the house of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who had a vast knowledge of Arabic history and lineages; then she had lived in the house of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from which had emerged the principles on which the Muslim state was based. Furthermore, she was the daughter of the first khalifah of the Muslims.

The scholars confirmed this high status of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. ‘Urwah ibn Zubair said:


I was acquainted with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, and I have never seen anyone at all who was more knowledgeable of any verse that was revealed, any obligatory duty, any sunnah, anyone who was more well-versed in poetry or narrated more poetry; anyone who was more knowledgeable of Arabic history and lineage and so forth, anyone who had more knowledge of judiciary matters or medicine than her.[54]


Al Sha’bi used to mention her and express his admiration for her understanding and knowledge, and then he would say:

No wonder, when she learned from the Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam!


‘Ata’ used to say:

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was the most knowledgeable of people and the most wise.[55]


Al Ahnaf ibn Qais, the chief of Banu Tamim and one of the most eloquent of the Arabs use to say:

Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali and the khulafa’ who came after them, and I never heard words from the mouth of any person that were more powerful and more beautiful than those of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.


Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to say something similar.[56]


The Mothers of the Believers bade farewell to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha when she left for Basrah, and this is indicative of their support and encouragement for her in what she was doing.[57]


4. Aisha passing by the oasis of al Haw’ab [58]

It is proven with sound chains of narration that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha passed by the oasis of al Haw’ab. It was narrated from Yahya ibn Sa’id al Qattan, from Ismail ibn Abi Khalid, from Qais ibn Hazim that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to his wives:

How will one of you be when the dogs of al Haw’ab bark at her?[59]

It was also narrated via Shu’bah from Ismail that when Aisha came to al Haw’ab, she heard the barking of dogs, and she said:

I think I should go back, because the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Which one of you will the dogs of al Haw’ab bark at?”

Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to her:

Are you going back? Perhaps Allah will put people’s affairs straight by means of you.[60]

This version was narrated by Ya’la ibn ‘Ubaid from Ismail, and was recorded by al Hakim.[61]


Al Albani said:

Its chain of narration is very sound.

He also said:

It was classed as such by senior Imams of hadith such as ibn Hibban, al Dhahabi, ibn Kathir and ibn Hajar.[62]

These are sound reports in which there is nothing misleading or false, because the Sahabah would not stoop to that level, contrary to what is claimed in false reports,[63] as we shall see below. The one who studies these reports, which have been classified as sound by the scholars, will not find anything in them to suggest that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha should or should not have done the things that she did.

Rather what may be understood from them is that Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was wondering which one of his wives would pass by the oasis of Haw’ab. The reports that contain the word ‘beware’, indicating that Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam warned against going there were not classified as sound by the scholars; in fact, they were classified as weak. One example is the report which says:

Beware lest you be there, O Humairah.[64]


Hence the correct view, which we follow, is that the fact that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha passed by the water of al Haw’ab did not have the negative effect which was suggested by the fabricated reports. It did not have any far-reaching effect on Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha herself to the point that she started thinking seriously of turning back and giving up the cause for which she had set out, namely to set matters straight among the Muslims and correct their mistakes.

The matter did not go beyond a passing thought on her part, in which the possibility of turning back merely crossed her mind. This is how she expressed it when she said:

I thought about going back, but it was only an idea that did not last for long.

Then her mission became clear again, after Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu reminded her of what Allah might bring about at her hands in terms of setting things straight among the Muslims.[65]

The issue of the oasis of al Haw’ab, and the ahadith in which al Haw’ab is mentioned, were and still are fertile ground for the Shia and others, which they use to criticise the Mother of the Believers Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. They criticised her for going out and campaigning to seek vengeance for the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and they even went so far as to deny that her decision was based on valid ijtihad on her part; they claimed that she went against the instructions of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not to go to the oasis of al Haw’ab.

The historical sources mentioned this story, and it is mentioned by al Tabari in a lengthy report that was narrated by Ismail ibn Musa al Fazari, of whom ibn ‘Adi said:

They (the scholars) criticised him for being an extremist and a Shia.[66]

Al Fazari narrated this report from ‘Ali ibn ‘Abis al Azraq, who is weak according to Ibn Hajar and al Nasa’i.[67]

He also narrated this report from al Khattab al Hajari, who is unknown.[68] This unknown al Hajari narrated from another unknown narrator, whose name was Safwan ibn Qubay’ah al Ahmasi.[69] Finally, an even more unknown character is al ‘Azni, the alleged owner of the camel. He was not the owner of the camel; rather its owner was Ya’la ibn Umayyah.[70]

In the text of this report, the reader may detect a clear whiff of Shia and Rafidi influence at the end of the report, where it is claimed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu thought himself more entitled to the khilafah than Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum.On the contrary, the reports that are proven to be sound indicate something completely different.[71] Based on the above, it becomes clear to us that this report is not sound.[72]

There are other reports concerning this matter, all of which are false in both chain of narration and text. The message and aim of these reports is to cast aspersions on the senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and to prove that the goal of this campaign was to achieve worldly, personal gains such as wealth, leadership and so on; that the ends justified the means; and that in trying to achieve that, they would not refrain from creating war and turmoil among the Muslims. These reports focus on two great Sahabah, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.[73]

The fabricators of these reports also wanted to confirm that these two Sahabah and the members of the army who were with them dared to violate the sacred limits of Allah. The reports allege that Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma swore in the strongest terms to the Mother of the Believers that this was not the water of al Haw’ab; furthermore, they brought seventy people – and according to another report, fifty people – to testify that what they said was true. This action, according to the Rafidi Shia al Mas’udi, was the first false witness given in Islam.[74]

These reports tried to show that Talhah, Zubair and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha were not in harmony and were not united on one goal. They tried to show that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha sided with Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and that deep down in her heart; she was hoping that he would become khalifah because he was from the tribe of Taym just like her.

These reports also suggest that there was intense competition and rivalry between Talhah and Zubair, and that they were both eager to become the leader. One cannot ignore the fact that these reports are not free of severe weakness. In some of them, the chain of narration is interrupted, and in some, there are narrators about whom nothing is known; in some cases both serious faults are present.[75]

Many writers and historians were influenced by these reports, relied on them and played a part in propagating them, but they have no basis. These writers include al ‘Aqqad in ‘Abqariyat ‘Ali, Taha Hussain in ‘Ali wa Banuhu[76] and other contemporary writers.


5. Their actions in Basrah

When Talhah, Zubair, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum and the people with them arrived in Basrah, they stopped beside al Khuraybah.[77] When proceeding from there they sent word to the prominent figures and nobles of the tribes, seeking their help against the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Many of the Muslims in Basrah and elsewhere wanted to bring the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu to justice, but some of them thought that this was the job of the khalifah alone, and that going out on a campaign for this purpose without his instructions was wrong.

Many of the people of Basrah, regardless of their different tribal backgrounds, joined them because these were Sahabah whom Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had testified were guaranteed paradise; they were members of the consultative committee; they were accompanied by the Mother of the Believers Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, the beloved of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the most knowledgeable of all women; their quest was undoubtedly legitimate; and none of the Sahabah denounced it.

Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent a message to al Ahnaf ibn Qais al Sa’di al Tamimi, asking for his support in seeking vengeance for the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Al Ahnaf was one of the leaders of Tamim, a man whose word carried weight. He said, describing the seriousness of the situation:

There came to me the most serious decision I was ever faced with, and I said: “If I let these people down when they have the Mother of the Believers and the two disciples of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with them, it will be something very serious indeed.[78]


However, he decided to keep out of it, and he took with him six thousand men who obeyed him, but many others disobeyed him with regard to this matter and joined Talhah, Zubair and the Mother of the believers.[79]

Zuhri stated that most of the people of Basrah followed them.[80]

Talhah, Zubair, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and their followers were joined by new supporters of the cause for which they had come out. Ibn Hunayf tried to calm things down and sort things out as much as he could, but the matter was beyond his control, so much so that one of them said concerning Basrah:

Some of the people of Syria have descended among us.[81]

Even Muawiyah, later on, tried to take over Basrah with the help of its people.[82]

Some unreliable sources say that ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf allowed Hukaym ibn Jablah to fight, but this is not proven, and the sound sources do not confirm that.[83]


6. The slaying of Hukaym ibn Jablah and the thugs who were with him

After Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha had addressed the people of Basrah, Hukaym ibn Jablah came and started fighting. The Sahabah of Aisha, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum brandished their spears at them, but they did not engage in combat. They were hoping that the other side would stop, but Hukaym and his gang continued fighting and did not stop. Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma refrained from fighting except to defend themselves, while Hukaym was urging his horse on and charging at them.[84]

Despite that, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was very keen to avoid all-out fighting, so she ordered her companions to move to the right in order to avoid the fighters. They remained like that until nightfall.[85]

The next morning, Hukaym ibn Jablah, making noise and with his spear in his hand, made his way to where Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and her companions were. Whenever he passed a man or woman who criticised him for slandering Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, he killed him or her.[86] At that point, the people of the tribe of ‘Abdul Qais became angry and said to Hukaym:

You did what you did yesterday, and you have repeated it today. By Allah, we will not let you off until we bring you to justice.

Then they went back and left him, and Hukaym ibn Jablah continued on his way with those who had taken part in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, accompanied by the thugs of different tribal backgrounds. They realised that they could no longer stay in Basrah, so they all rallied behind him and engaged the army of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, and fierce fighting took place.[87]

The caller of A’ishah radiya Llahu ‘anhu continued calling out and urging them to stop fighting, but they insisted.[88] Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha continued to say:

Do not fight anyone but those who are fighting you.

Hukaym did not pay any attention to the caller; he continued to instigate the fighting. At this point, the nature of these people who were fighting became clear to Zubair and Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, they realised that they would not refrain from committing any crime, and that their aim was to provoke the fighting. They said:

Praise be to Allah, who has brought together for us the people of Basrah who took part in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu so that we may wreak revenge on them. O Allah, do not leave any of them alive. Help us to bring them to justice today, and cause them all to die.

They strove hard in fighting and called out:

Whoever was not one of the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, let him stop fighting us, for we are only seeking the killers of ‘Uthman, and we will not initiate fighting with anyone else.

They fought fiercely,[89] and none of the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu among the people of Basrah escaped, except for one. The caller of Zubair and Talhah called out:

If you know anyone from your tribes who took part in murdering ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Madinah, then bring him to us.[90]

A group of these ignorant thugs – as Aisha said – had come to her house at dawn to kill her. They got as far as the door of her room with the help of a guide, but Allah protected her by means of a group of Muslims who had surrounded her house. The Muslims prevailed over them, then they paraded them about and executed them.[91]

Zubair, Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and those who were with them managed to gain control of Basrah, but they needed food and supplies because several weeks had gone by, and no one had offered them hospitality. The army of Zubair went to the governor’s palace and then to the public treasury to get provisions for the army; ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf was released and went to join ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[92]

Thus Talhah, Zubair and the Mother of the Believers radiya Llahu ‘anhum gained control of Basrah and killed a large number of those who had taken part in the attack on Madinah, some seventy men, including the most prominent leader of the rebels of Basrah, Hukaym ibn Jablah, who had been very keen to fight and start the war.[93]


7. The letters of Aisha to other regions

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was keen to explain what had really happened during the fight with the people of Basrah, so she wrote to the people of Syria, Kufah and al Yamamah, and the people of Madinah also, telling them what they had done and how things had ended up. Among the things that she wrote to the people of Syria was:


We only set out to put an end to the turmoil and to establish the rule of the Book of Allah. Once we achieve that, our campaign will be over. The best of the people of Basrah and their prominent figures pledged their support for us, and their evil ones and thugs opposed us and confronted us with weapons. Among the things they said was: “We will take the Mother of the Believers as a hostage, as she is the one who is enjoining them and urging them to adhere to the truth.” The Muslims gave them opportunity (to reconsider) time after time, then when there was no excuse left for them, the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu were fought. None of them escaped except for Hurqus ibn Zuhayr and Allah will bring him to justice. We urge you by Allah that you should carry out the same mission as us, so that we and you may meet Allah having done what is expected of us.[94]


8. Difference of opinion between ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf and the army of Aisha, Zubair and Talhah

Al Tabari narrated from Abu Mikhnaf from Yusuf ibn Yazid that Sahl ibn Sa’d said:


When they caught ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf, they sent Aban ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan to Aisha to consult her as to what should be done with him, and she said: “Kill him!” A woman said to her: “We adjure you by Allah, O Mother of the Believers, concerning ‘Uthman (ibn Hunayf) and the fact that he was a Companion of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” She said: “Bring Aban back.” So they brought him back, and she said: “Detain him, and do not kill him.” He said: “If I had known that you were calling me back for this reason, I would not have come back.” Majashi’ ibn Mas’ud said to them: “Beat him and pluck out the hair of his beard. So they gave him forty lashes and plucked out the hair of his beard and his head, and his eyebrows and eyelashes, and they detained him.”[95]


But the chain of narration of this report includes Abu Mikhnaf, who is an extremist, hate-filled, Rafidi Shia. This report was not proven by any sound chain of narration that can be relied on. The noble Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) are far above doing such an abhorrent action.

What may be understood from the report of Saif is that the thugs were the ones who did that, and that Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma regarded it as abhorrent and unacceptable. They sent news of that to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, who said:

Release him, and let him go wherever he wants.[96]

This report contradicts the details mentioned by Abu Mikhnaf because it does not mention the command to kill him or detain him, or the command to pluck out his facial hair. This report, which is the sound one, was favoured by al Nuwayri and ibn Kathir.[97]

Al Dhahabi stated that Majashi’ ibn Mas’ud was killed before he entered the house of ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf.[98]

Even if we assume that Majashi’ ibn Mas’ud was not killed, he was not in a position of leadership to issue such instructions.[99]


NEXT⇒ Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu sets out for Kufah


[1]Al Fasl fi l-Milal wa al Ahwa’ wa al Nihal– 4/160

[2]Majmu’ al Fatawa, 35/72

[3]  ibid.

[4]Ahdath wa Ahadith Fitnat al Haraj, p. 158

[5]Sharh al Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 15/149

[6]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/469

[7]  op. cit., 5/485

[8]Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 1/34

[9]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/487

[10]  ibid.; al Shuja’: Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah wa l-Khilafah al Rashidah; p. 417

[11]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/476; Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah, p. 418

[12]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/489

[13]Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah, p. 419

[14]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/487

[15]D’irasat fi ‘Ahd an-Nubuwwah, p. 419

[16]Muqaddimah Ibn Khaldun, p. 191

[17]Dawr al Mar’ah as-Siyasiyyah, p. 391

[18]  op. cit., p. 394

[19]  Surah al Nisa’: 114

[20]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/489

[21]  Ibn Hibban: al Thiqat, 2/282

[22]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/520

[23]Shadharat adh-Dhahab, 1/42

[24]  Surah al Ahzab: 33

[25]Al Intisar li al Sahbi wa l-Al, p. 444

[26]Minhaj as-Sunnah, 4/317-570

[27]  Surah, al Nisa: 114

[28]Ahkam al Qur’an, 3/569, 570

[29]Tarikh al Yaqubi, 2/180, 209

[30]Al Imamah wa al Siyasah, 1/58, 69

[31]Sharh Nahj al Balaghah, 9/18

[32]al Akhbar al Tiwal, p. 145

[33]Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 2/193

[34] Jawlah Tarikhiyyah fi ‘Asr al Khulafa’ al Rashidin, p. 526

[35]Aisha Umm al Mu’minin, p. 184

[36]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/475

[37]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 383; Tarikh al Tabari, 5/469

[38]  op. cit., p. 384

[39]Tarikh al Shu’ub al lslamiyyah (History of the Islamic People), p. 111, 114, and 117.

[40]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/475

[41]Tarikh al Tabari, quoted in Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 385

[42]  ibid.

[43]  See what was said by the author of al Imamah wa al Siyasah, 1/57

[44]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/574

[45]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 385

[46]al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/241

[47]  ibid.

[48]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 386

[49]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/487

[50]Ansab al Ashraf, 4/224

[51]Usd al Ghabah, 4/169; al Isabah, 4/487; Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 387; al Mustadrak Marwiyat Abi Mikhnaf, p. 257

[52]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 387

[53] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 2/193

[54]  ibid.

[55]  op. cit., 2/185

[56]  op. cit., 2/183

[57]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 389

[58]  Al Haw’ab: one of the oases of the Arabs on the road between Makkah and Basrah, close to the latter.

[59]Musnad Ahmed, 6/97

[60]  ibid.

[61]al Mustadrak, 3/120

[62]Silsilat al Ahadith al Sahihah, 1/767 no. 474

[63]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah: p. 405

[64]  Al Dhahabi said: No report which contains the words: “O Humairah.” [a nickname of Aisha] is sound. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 2/167, 168

[65]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 406

[66]Al Kamil fi Du’afa’ al Rijal, 1/528; Mizan al I’tidal, 1/413

[67]Taqrib al Tahdhib, 1/697

[68]Taqrib al Tahdhib, 2/392; Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 400

[69]Mizan al I’tidal, 3/434; Lisan al Mizan, 3/225

[70]Asad al Ghabah, 5/486; Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 400

[71]Dawr al Mar’ah al Siyasiyyah, p. 402

[72]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/483

[73]Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/283. It is weak, and its chain of narration is interrupted; Ansab al Ashraf, 2/47 with the same chain of narration. These reports are contrary to what is sound and proven.

[74]Muruj adh-Dhahab, 2/367

[75]Tarikh adh-Dhahabi. Its chain of narration includes two unknown narrators. ‘Abdul-Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 133

[76]Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 132

[77]  A PIace near Basra. See: Khutat al Basrah wa Mantiquha, 114-122

[78]  ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 133

[79]Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, 5/456; it has corroborating reports which strengthen it.

[80]Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzaq, 5/456, with a sound mursal chain of narration going back to Zuhri.

[81]  Al Tabaqat, 6/333

[82]Fath al Bari, 13/26; ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 137

[83]  ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 137, 138

[84]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/494

[85]  ibid.

[86]  op. cit., 5/495

[87]  op. cit., 5/499

[88]  ibid.

[89]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/499

[90]  op. cit., 5/501

[91]  op. cit., 5/503

[92] Tarikh al Tabari, 5/43; Abdul-Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali, p. 138

[93]Ansab al Ashraf, 2/93; ‘Abdul-Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 139

[94]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/501

[95]  op. cit., 5/497

[96]  ibid.

[97]Nihayat al ‘Arab, 20/38; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/233

[98]  Al Dhahabi: Tarikh al Islam; Marwiyat Abi Mikhnaf fi Tarikh al Tabari, p. 359

[99]Marwiyat Abi Mikhnaf fi Tarikh al Tabari, p. 259