The critics of the ‘Uthmani era have raised a number of issues concerning its final stages which are contrary to reality and oppose to the actual occurences of the time.
a) Some people assume that Sayyidina ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave high positions to his relatives who then perpetrated many offenses and oppressions. Moreover, Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu unlawfully gave his relatives huge amounts of wealth from the Bayt al Mal on a number of occasions. This caused hatred among the tribes and gave rise to tribalism. The almost extinguished flames of tribalism were ignited again. He brought an end to the administration and system of the Caliphate Rashidah which inevitably led to his assassination.
b) Some say that besides nepotism and family favouritism, Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu innovated many innovations in the Shari’ah.
و خالفه المسلمون كلهم حتى قتل و عابوا أفعاله إلخ
All the Muslims opposed him until he was killed and they blamed his actions.
To realise the reality of this issue, a few points will be explained to the readers under the heading relation of stages which will reveal the reality of the final stages of the ‘Uthmani era after a fair perusal, and expose the inaccuracy of the image portrayed by the critics as well as its falsity.
Let us first have a look at Imam al Bukhari’s clarification. He relates via his sanad from Hassan:
حدثنا سليمان بن حرب ثنا أبو هلال قال سمعت الحسن يقول عمل أمير المؤمنين عثمان بن عفان ثنتي عشرة سنة لا ينكرون من إمارته شيئا حتى جاء فسقة فداهن الله في أمره أهل المدينة
Sulaiman ibn Harb narrated to us―Abu Hilal narrated to us saying: I heard Hassan saying:
Amir al Mu’minin ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan ruled for 12 years. People never criticised any aspect of his leadership. Then finally the transgressors came along and, by Allah, the people of Madinah displayed softness in his matter. (i.e. they did not display sternness, hence the transgressors were successful in their sinister mission.)
‘Allamah Ibn al ‘Arabi al Maliki while discussing this issue states:
فلم يأت عثمان منكرا لا في أول الأمر و لا في آخره و لا جاء الصحابة بمنكر و كل ما سمعت من خبر باطل إياك و الالتفات إليه
‘Uthman never committed any wrong, neither in the beginning stages of his caliphate nor at the final stages, nor did the Sahabah commit any wrong. All the false reports you hear of, beware of giving them attention!
Speaking on the lofty position of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Sheikh Jilani writes a beautiful clarification of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his prosperous era in Ghunyat al Talibin. He says:
و بايع علي ثم بايع الناس أجمع فصار عثمان بن عفان خليفة بين الناس باتفاق الكل فكان إماما حقا إلى أن مات لم يوجد فيه أمر يوجب الطعن فيه و لا فسقه و لا قتله خلاف ما قالت الروافض تبا لهم
‘Ali pledged allegiance and then all the people pledged allegiance (to ‘Uthman). ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, thus, became the khalifah among the people with the unanimity of all. He was a true leader until he passed on. No aspect was found in him which he could be blamed for, or could lead to his transgression, or his assassination, contrary to what the Rawafid say. May they be destroyed!
Historians like al Tabari and Ibn Khaldun have recorded this incident:
أن تبعث رجالا ممن تثق إلى الأمصار حتى يرجعوا إليك بأخبارهم فدعا محمد بن مسلمة فأرسله إلى الكوفة و أرسل أسامة بن زيد إلى البصرة و أرسل عبد الله بن عمر إلى الشام و فرق رجالا سواهم فرجعوا جميعا قبل عمار فقالوا أيها الناس ما أنكرنا شيئا و لا أنكره أعلام المسلمين و لا عوامهم و قالوا جميعا الأمر أمر المسلمين إلا أن أمرائهم يقسطون بينهم و يقومون عليهم و استبطأ الناس عمارا حتى ظنوا أنه قد اغتيل فلم يفجأهم إلا كتاب من عبد الله بن سعد بن أبي سرح يخبرهم أن عمار قد استماله قوم بمصر و قد انقطعوا إليه منهم عبد الله بن السوداء و خالد بن ملجم و سودان بن حمران و كنانة بن بشر
(During his caliphate, Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu received complaints of his governors. He was thus advised:)
“You send men whom you deem trustable to the main cities and they will bring you information of the people there.”
He thus summoned Muhammad ibn Maslamah and sent him to Kufah. He sent Usamah ibn Zaid to Basrah and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar to Sham. He sent other men besides them as well in different directions. (‘Ammar ibn Yasir was sent to Egypt.) They all returned before ‘Ammar and said, “O people, we have not found anything improper nor have the notables of the Muslims or their common folk found anything displeasing. The affairs of the Muslims are running smoothly. Their governors deal justly with them and fulfil their duties towards them.”
People sensed ‘Ammar’s delay in returning and thought that he had been assassinated. Suddenly, the letter of ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh arrives informing them that ‘Ammar has been misled by a group (the opposition) in Egypt and they have gathered around him. Among them are ‘Abdullah ibn al Sawda’, Khalid ibn Muljim, Sudan ibn Humran, and Kinanah ibn Bishr.
The above incident is recorded by Ibn Khaldun. To reproduce the text coupled with the translation will delay things. Therefore, the reference will be provided which may be referred to for corroboration.
The above makes it crystal clear that in the days of the ‘Uthmani caliphate, there were no evil practices and the masses and elite seen no evil. The entire management and government was run under the Din and Shari’ah, i.e. Islamic governance was in vogue and justice was maintained between people. Moreover, the governors of those days were not unjust, but righteous individuals who had good dealings with the populace.
It is noteworthy that to investigate complaints of administration in the state, many delegations (comprising of senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum) were despatched. Besides the report of one, ‘Ammar ibn Yasir, the reports of all others stated that the administrative affairs of the state were running smoothly and in favour of the populace. No oppression was been committed upon the people. Rather, justice was being upheld. Thus, the rule of thumb is: majority gets the ruling of all.
The correct image is the one presented by majority of the informers. Sayyidina ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiya Llahu ‘anhu being influenced by the opposition of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu could have many reasons. Therefore, the intelligence gathered by majority will be regarded as correct and authentic while the opinion of one will be given the status of an odd view.
The isnad of this report, which was narrated by al Tabari, includes Shu’ayb ibn Ibrahim al Tamimi al Kufi, the narrator of the books of Saif, about whom there is some ambiguity.
Al Rawi said concerning him, “He is not known, although he has some ahadith and reports in which there is some weirdness and they contain a lot of bias against the salaf.” [Istishhad ‘Uthman wa Waq’ah al Jamal, p. 30]
It was also narrated by ‘Umar ibn Shabbah in Tarikh al Madinah, where its isnad includes the Sheikh of ‘Umar, ‘Ali ibn ‘Asim:
A report with an isnad like this cannot be easily accepted, especially when it is known that ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a pious man whose piety would prevent him from indulging in such things. Khalid al Ghayth says:
This report contradicts what has been proven of the dignity of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, in addition to the fact that it was not narrated via any sound isnad. .” [Istishhad ‘Uthman wa Waq’ah al Jamal, p. 30]
Salim, the son of Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, speaks about the procedure of the ‘Uthmani era in the following snippet:
عن سالم بن عبد الله قال لما ولي عثمان حج سنوانه كلها إلا آخر حجة … و أمن الناس و كتب في الأمصار أن يوافيه العمال في كل موسم و من يشكوهم و كتب إلى الناس إلى الأمصار أن اتمروا بالمعروف و تناهوا عن المنكر و لا يذل المؤمن نفسه فإني مع الضعيف على القوي ما دام مظلوما إن شاء الله فكان الناس بذلك فجرى ذلك إلى ان اتخذه أقوام وسيلة إلى تفريق الأمة
Salim ibn ‘Abdullah reports:
When ‘Uthman assumed leadership, he performed Hajj all the years except the final year. People were at peace. He wrote to the cities that all governors should come to him in every Hajj season together with those who have any complaints against them. He wrote to the people of the cities to enjoin what is good, forbid what is evil, and that no believer should think himself as insignificant for, “Verily, I am with the weak against the strong, as long as the former is oppressed, by the will of Allah.” People lived like this and this practice continued until some groups used it as a means to divide and disunite the ummah. [They levelled unfounded accusations and created the scope for division.]
The condensed version appears in al Bidayah as:
يلزم عماله بحضور الموسم كل عام و يكتب إلى الرعايا من كانت له عند أحد منهم مظلمة فليواف إلى الموسم فإني آخذ له حقه من عامله إلخ
He would make it incumbent upon his governors and officers to attend the Hajj every year. He would write to the populace, “Whoever has any grievance with his governor should come to the Hajj for I will get his right from his governor.”
Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma is one of the reliable and trusted men of that era. His glowing image of the ‘Uthmani era has been transmitted by the authors. Have a look:
فسألوه عن عثمان فأجابهم فيه بما يسوؤهم و ذكر لهم ما كان متصفا به من الإيمان و التصديق و العدل و الإحسان و السيرة الحسنة و الرجوع إلى الحق إذا تبين له فعند ذلك نفروا عنه و فارقوه
The Kharijites questioned him about ‘Uthman. He answered them with something they did not like and listed his salient qualities such as iman, belief, justice, ihsan, an excellent biography, and accepting the truth when it became apparent to him. At this, they despised him and dissociated themselves from him.
This happened during the caliphate of Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. The Kharijites had the same ideologies and allegations against Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu which those with Saba’i influences cooked up. Just like the Saba’is, the Kharijites were opposed to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Their aim was that if Sayyidina Ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma sided with them, they would side with him, otherwise they would abandon him.
The historian Ibn Jarir al Tabari has written a detailed account of this incident in volume 7 under the events of 64 A.H. We have sufficed on al Bidayah’s report to keep things brief.
In short, the statements of both Salim ibn ‘Abdullah and Ibn al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum testify to the accuracy of the reports brought back by the delegations of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum during the ‘Uthmani era, attesting to the correctness of the religious and political affairs of that era. Justice prevailed and no ill feelings existed due to tribalism.
From the era of Nubuwwah up to this stage, numerous tribes had entered the fold of Islam and Islam reigned supreme in every era. Allah’s word was dominant over all countries and cities. All nations had accepted Islam. There remained no courage to stop the advance of Islam. All religions were forced to accept the decree of the Islamic Shari’ah.
At this stage, those nations which had a distinctive hatred and enmity for Islam, had no power to stop the advancement of Islam openly. Therefore, they opted for another route to cause harm to the Muslims. Their plan was to infiltrate the ranks of the Muslims and sow the seeds of discord among them. Openly, they would claim to be well-wishers and adherents of Islam. They voiced their love and obedience to the religion of Islam but harboured enmity for the Muslims and Islam and hypocrisy in their hearts. This was a surreptitious scheme to create disunity in Islam which started undercover.
The people opposed Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu during the final days of his caliphate on the basis of jealousy and enmity. We will firstly present the statements of Sayyidina ‘Ali al Murtada radiya Llahu ‘anhu and other scholars exposing this jealousy after which we will expose those who harboured enmity and began the chaos, which led to the martyrdom of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Imam Ahmed reports in Kitab al Sunnah:
عن مضارب بن حزن قال قيل لعلي بن أبي طالب ما حملهم على قتل عثمان قال الحسد
Mudarib ibn Huzn reports:
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib was asked, “What led them to kill ‘Uthman.”
“Jealousy,” he replied.
Tarikh al Tabari quotes an address of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu under the events of the 36 A.H. in which he sheds some light on the jealousy and enmity of some people. It appears therein:
فحمد الله عز و جل و أثنى عليه و صلى على النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم و ذكر الجاهلية و شقاها و الإسلام و السعادة و إنعام الله على الأمة بالجماعة بالخليفة بعد رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ثم الذي يليه ثم الذي يليه ثم حدث هذا الحدث الذي جره على هذه الأمة أقوام طلبوا هذه الدنيا حسدوا من أفاء الله عليه على الفضيلة و أرادوا رد الأشياء على أدبارها والله بالغ أمره و مصيب ما أراد إلخ
He praised Allah―the Mighty and Majestic―and glorified Him and sent salutations upon the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He spoke about the period of ignorance and its wretchedness and then about Islam and the fortune and favour of Allah upon the ummah by uniting them under a khalifah after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and then the era after him as well as the subsequent era (the ‘Uthmani era). Thereafter, this new happening took place which was brought upon this ummah by nations who sought this worldly life and harboured jealousy for those whom Allah conferred virtue upon. They intended to capsize things. And Allah will manifest His plan and fulfil what He desires.
Ibn al ‘Arabi explains the position of the conspirators against Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his famous book al ‘Awasim:
و تألب عليه قوم الأحقاد اعتقدوها ممن طلب أمرا فلم يصل إليه و حسد حسادة أظهر دأها و حمله على ذلك قلة دين و ضعف يقين و إيثار العاجلة على الآجلة
A nation of jealous men plotted against him making this their philosophy. They desired something but could not obtain it. Hence, they harboured jealousy and expressed their envy. Their irreligiousness, weak conviction, and preference of the worldly life over the everlasting incited them.
The above has clarified that there existed a handful of nations who harboured enmity and jealousy for Islam and the Muslims, and who devised the whole plan and schemed to attack the central point of Islam, i.e. the khalifah of the Muslims Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The readers will now be made aware of who the conspirators were, who devised the scheme and set it in motion.
Does history indicate to them or are any clues found in the books of history towards them? Sunni and Shia historians have clarified this issue extensively in their books. With a little effort, such material will be obtained.
We will present few quotations for the ease of the readers which will make the issue evident after a little contemplation.
Just to give you a brief image, dissension in Islam was started by ‘Abdullah bin Saba’, the hypocrite. He wore the garb of Islam and propagated his warped ideologies at various places to various nations. He made people his supporters. Those who were influenced by his hypocritical schemes and warped ideologies were incited to attack the khalifah of the Muslims and invade Madinah al Munawwarah. They attacked the central point of Islam and carried out their evil plots. This opened the door to dissension and disunity among Muslims forever.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar presents this in the following manner:
و ذكر سيف بن عمر أن سبب تألب الأحزاب على عثمان أن رجلا يقال له عبد الله بن سبأ كان يهوديا فأظهر الأسلام و صار إلى مصر فأوحى علي طائفة من الناس كلاما اخترعه من عند نفسه مضمونه أنه يقول للرجل أليس قد ثبت أن عيسى بن مريم سيعود إلى هذه الدنيا فيقول الرجل نعم فيقول له فرسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم أفضل منه فما تنكر أن يعود إلى هذه الدنيا و هو أشرف من عيسى بن مريم عليه السلام ثم يقول و قد كان أوصى إلى علي بن أبي طالب فمحمد خاتم الأنبياء و علي خاتم الأوصياء ثم يقول فهو أحق بالإمرة من عثمان و عثمان معتد في ولايته ما ليس له فأنكروا عليه و أظهروا الأمر بالمعروف و النهى عن المنكر فافتتن به بشر كثير من أهل مصر و كتبوا إلى جماعات من عوام أهل الكوفة و البصرة فتمالؤا على ذلك و تكاتبوا فيه و تواعدوا أن يجتمعوا في الإنكار على عثمان و أرسلوا إليه من يناظره و يذكر له ما ينقمون عليه من توليته أقرباءه و ذوي رحمه و عزله كبار الصحابة فدخل هذا في قلوب كثير من الناس فجمع عثمان بن عفان نوابه من الأمصار فاستشارهم فأشاروا عليه بما تقدم ذكرنا له فالله أعلم
Saif ibn ‘Umar mentions:
The reason for the factions ganging up against ‘Uthman was that a man by the name ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, who was formerly a Jew, outwardly announced his Islam. He travelled to Egypt and mentioned to a group of people a proposition which he fabricated. The gist of it was that he would ask a person, “Is it not confirmed that ‘Isa ibn Maryam will soon return to the world.” The man would reply in the affirmative. Upon this he would say, “Then Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is superior to him. So why do you reject him returning to this world whereas he is more noble than ‘Isa ibn Maryam ‘alayh al Salam.
He would then say, “Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had made a bequest to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, i.e. he appointed him his successor. Thus Muhammad is the seal of the Prophets and ‘Ali is the seal of the Awsiya’.” He would then say, “‘Ali is thus more deserving of leadership than ‘Uthman. Moreover, ‘Uthman has committed many transgressions during his caliphate which he was not entitled to.”
His group raised objections against ‘Uthman on many issues and displayed it as enjoining good and forbidding evil. Thus, many residents of Egypt were affected by this false propaganda. They wrote to groups from the laymen of Kufah and Basrah and leaned them in this direction. They wrote many letters and made promises that they will unite to object to ‘Uthman. They also sent men who would debate him and list all the objections that have against him, of nepotism and dismissing senior Sahabah. This entered the hearts of many people. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan gathered his governors of the cities and consulted them. They gave him the advice which appeared previously. And Allah knows best.
‘Allamah Ibn Khaldun introduces ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ and speaks about his shenanigans:
منهم عبد الله بن سبأ و يعرف بابن السوداء كان يهوديا و هاجر أيام عثمان فلم يحسن إسلامه و أخرج من البصرة فلحق بالكوفة ثم الشام و أخرجوه فلحق بمصر و كان يكثر الطعن على عثمان و يدعو في السر لأهل البيت و يقول إن محمدا يرجع كما يرجع عيسى و عنه أخذ ذلك أهل الرجعة و إن عليا وصي رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم حيث لم يجز وصيته و إن عثمان أخذ الأمر بغير حق و يحرض الناس على القيام في ذلك و الطعن على الأمراء فاستمال الناس بذلك في الأمصار و كتب به بعضهم بعضا و كان معه خالد بن ملجم و سودان بن حمران و كنانة بن بشر فثبطوا عمارا عن المسير إلى المدينة
Among them (the evil elements) was ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, commonly known as Ibn al Sawda’. He was a Jew who emigrated during the days of ‘Uthman. He never entered the fold of Islam properly. (He was a hypocrite.) He was banished from Basrah so he went to Kufah and then to Sham. They banished him until finally he landed in Egypt. He would continuously level accusations again ‘Uthman and campaign secretly for the Ahlul Bayt. He would claim that Muhammad will return just as ‘Isa will. The people of raj’ah took this ideology from him. He claimed that ‘Ali is the wasi of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whereas this bequest was not fulfilled and that ‘Uthman assumed leadership unjustly. He would incite the people to stand up and criticise the leaders. He attracted the people with this in the cities and some of them wrote to others. Khalid ibn Muljim, Sudan ibn Humran, and Kinanah ibn Bishr were in cahoots with him. They prevented ‘Ammar from returning to Madinah.
Note: We have briefly mentioned ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’s enmity for Islam and his desire to create disunity among the Muslims. Those who wish to read up more on him should study the following books:
‘Allamah al Nawbakhti of the third century writes:
و حكى جماعة من أهل العلم من أصحاب علي عليه السلام أن عبد الله بن سبأ كان يهوديا فأسلم و والى عليا عليه السلام و كان يقول و هو على يهوديته في يوشع بن نون بعد موسى عليه السلام بهذه المقالة فقال في إسلامه بعد وفاة النبي صلى الله عليه و آله في علي عليه السلام بمثل ذلك و هو أول من أشهر القول بفرض إمامة علي عليه السلام و أظهر البراءة من أعدائه و كاشف مخالفيه فمن هناك قال من خالف الشيعة إن أصل الرفض مأخوذ من اليهودية إلخ
A group of scholars of the disciples of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrate that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was a Jew who embraced Islam and befriended ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He would claim, while upon Judaism, regarding Yusha’ ibn Nun being the wasi after Musa ‘alayh al Salam. He made the same claim while in Islam after the demise of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He is the first to openly claim the necessity of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu Imamah. He voiced his dissociation from his enemies and unveiled his opponents. From this, those who oppose the Shia say that the basis of rafd is taken from Judaism.
‘Allamah Abu ‘Amr al Kashshi of the fourth century writes:
ذكر بعض اهل العلم أن عبد الله بن سبأ كان يهوديا فأسلم و والى عليا عليه السلام و كان يقول و هو على يهوديته في يوشع بن نون وصي موسى بالغلو فقال في إسلامه بعد وفاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه و آله في علي عليه السلام مثل ذلك و كان أول من أشهر بالقول بفرض إمامة علي و أظهر البراءة من أعدائه و كاشف مخالفيه و أكفرهم فمن ههنا قال من خالف الشيعة أصل التشيع و الرفض مأخوذ من اليهودية
A group of scholars say that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was a Jew who embraced Islam and befriended ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He would claim, while upon Judaism, regarding Yusha’ ibn Nun of him being the wasi of Musa ‘alayh al Salam, observing extremeness in this regard. He made the same claim while in Islam after the demise of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He is the first to openly claim the necessity of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu Imamah. He voiced his dissociation from his enemies and unveiled his opponents and excommunicated them. From this, those who oppose the Shia say that the basis of rafd and Shi’ism is taken from Judaism.
During the final days of the ‘Uthmani caliphate, this deceitful movement of Ibn Saba’ was set in motion to create dissension among Muslims. Ibn Saba’ had set up mischievous people of his ilk in different areas who objected to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and listed the aggressions of his governors. These roguish people, after thorough planning, came from Kufah, Basrah and Egypt to attack Madinah and laid siege to the house of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Khalifah ibn Khayyat writes:
قال أبو الحسن قدم أهل مصر عليهم عبد الرحمن بن عديس البلوى و أهل البصرة عليهم حكيم بن جبلة العبدي و أهل الكوفة فيهم الأشتر مالك بن الحارث النخعي و المدينة في أمر عثمان فكان مقدم المصريين ليلة الأربعاء هلال ذي قعدة إلخ
Abu al Hassan says:
Came the people of Egypt led by ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Adis al Balawi, the people of Basrah led by Hakim ibn Jabalah al ‘Abdi, and the people of Kufah with al Ashtar Malik ibn al Harith al Nakha’i in their midst to Madinah with regards to ‘Uthman’s issue. The Egyptians arrived on Tuesday night, the first of Dhu al Qa’dah.
For a few days, they besieged the house of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. During this time, they made various demands and put pressure on him to accept them. But since their plan was something else, i.e. to destroy the centre of Islam, they were not pleased even though their demands were met. At the end, they advanced to fulfil their sinister plan and martyred the centre of Islam, the khalifah of the Muslims. Those protecting Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu only came to find out after they had completed their evil intention.
When these evil elements proceeded from their headquarters and converged upon Madinah to set in motion their evil plan, they made it appear that they were simply passing through Madinah on their way for Hajj. They converged upon Madinah from Kufah, Basrah and Egypt in large numbers. As they reached the outskirts of Madinah, they claimed that they wish to address few complaints against the khalifah of the Muslims and his governors. The readers should keep in mind that many Muslims from Madinah and out of Madinah had travelled to various cities and were involved in important tasks while some of the residents of Madinah had set out for Hajj. The remaining Sahabah and residents of Madinah, in the beginning stages, were involved in addressing the complaints between Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the rebels. According to the historians, Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted their permissible terms, and removed their objections. Nonetheless, they did not stop in their evil endeavours. Their grip tightened by the day and the siege of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu intensified.
When these disturbing conditions became apparent to the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, they presented themselves to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu on multiple occasions seeking permission to raise their hands and unsheathe their weapons to address the evil of the conspirators. Briefly, few snippets will be reproduced below.
Mus’ab al Zubairi writes in Nasab Quraysh:
فقام الناس إلى عثمان فقالوا قد أمكنتنا البصائر فإذن لنا في الجهاد قال أبو حبيبة قال عثمان عزمت على من كانت لي عليه طاعة أن لا يقاتل
The people came to ‘Uthman and said, “We have observed the issue (of the difference between the groups). Now allow us to wage war (against the rebels).”
Abu Habibah relates that ‘Uthman answered, “I take a determination upon those upon whom my obedience is binding that they should not fight.”
Hafiz Ibn Kathir says that the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum prevented the rebels forcefully, which created bitterness and harshness in the matter.
و عزم عثمان على الناس أن يكفوا أيديهم و يغمدوا أسلحتهم ففعلوا فتمكن أولئك مما أرادوا و مع هذا ما ظن أحد من الناس أنه يقتل بالكلية
‘Uthman swore on oath for the people to withhold their hands and sheathe their weapons and they complied. Thus, the rebels had power to carry out what they planned. At the same time, none of the people thought that he will be killed outright.
The law of Islam is that obedience to the caliphate of the Muslims is mandatory. Owing to this principle, the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum did not take any steps to drive out the rebels, without the khalifah’s permission. A few incidents where permission was sought from the khalifah will be quoted now.
Individuals who sought permission to defend
إن زيد بن ثابت قال لعثمان هؤلاء الأنصار بالباب يقولون إن شئت كنا أنصار الله مرتين فقال لا حاجة لي في ذلك كفوا
Zaid ibn Thabit said to ‘Uthman, “Here are the Ansar at the door saying, ‘If you wish, we will be the helpers of Allah twice.’”
‘Uthman replied, “I do not have any need for this. Withhold!”
إن ابن عمر كان يومئذ متقلدا سيفه حتى عزم عليه عثمان أن يخرج مخافة أن يقتل
On that day, Ibn ‘Umar was carrying his sword until ‘Uthman had to swear upon oath for him to leave, lest he be killed.
عن قتادة أن ابا هريرة كان متقلدا سيفه حتى نهاه عثمان
عن محمد بن سيرين قال قال سليط بن سليط نهانا عثمان عن قتالهم و لو أذن لنا لضربناهم حتى نخرجهم من أقطارها
Muhammad bin Sirin says: Sulayt ibn Sulayt stated, “‘Uthman prevented us from fighting them. Had he permitted us, we would have fought them and driven them away from the outskirts (of Madinah).”
Historians write that the conspirators and oppressors martyred Amir al Mu’minin Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his home after ‘Asr on Friday, the 18th of Dhu al Hijjah 35 A.H. This house of his was situated in Madinah Munawwarah, in close proximity of Masjid al Nabawi.
Among the killers were Sudan ibn Humran who is also known as Aswad ibn Humran. Ruman al Yamani is another culprit from the tribe of Banu Asad ibn Khuzaymah. Other persons like Kinanah ibn Bishr are reckoned among the murderers of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Study the following books for further details.
Details on the janazah of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu were written in Ruhama Baynahum, section 3 ‘Uthmani, chapter 5, under the heading of the janazah and burial of ‘Uthman. Nonetheless, it is repeated here, together with mention of his quick burial. This will remove the misinformation that Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was left unattended for 3 days, without a wash or shroud.
a) Imam Ahmed reports in Musnad Ahmed through a reliable chain:
عن قتادة قال صلى الزبير على عثمان رضي الله عنه و دفنه إلخ
Qatadah says: Zubair performed the Salat al Janazah over ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and buried him.
b) Old historians like Mus’ab al Zubairi and others write:
و كان يومئذ صائما و دفن ليلة السبت بين المغرب و العشاء
He was fasting on that day and was buried on Friday night, between Maghrib and ‘Isha’.
c) Niyaz ibn Mukarram al Aslami who was present at the martyrdom relates the details of the incident to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He says:
حملناه رحمه الله ليلة السبت بين المغرب و العشاء إلخ
We carried him (for burial), may Allah’s mercy be upon him, on Friday night, between Maghrib and ‘Isha’.
Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Muhaddith al Dehlawi says:
نیز از روایات مشہورہ متعددہ ثابت شد کہ تاسہ روز افتادہ ماندن لاش عثمان محض افترا و دروغ ست و در جمیع تواریخ تکذیب آں موجود است زیرانکہ باجماع مؤرخین شہادۃ عثمان بعد از جمعہ ہیثردلہم ذی الحجۃ واقع شدہ است و دفن او در بقیع شب شنبہ وقوع یافت بلا شبہ
It is established through many well-known narrations that Sayyidina ‘Uthman’s body remaining unattended for 3 days is a fabrication and lie. It is belied by all history books. The historians are unanimous that Sayyidina ‘Uthman was martyred on Friday, the 18th of Dhu al Hijjah 35 A.H. after Jumu’ah, and was buried that very night near Jannat al Baqi’. There is not the slightest of doubt in this matter.
Senior scholars of the ummah have clarified:
إن أخيار المسلمين لم يدخل واحد منهم في دم عثمان لا قتل و لا أمر بقتله و إنما قتله طائفة من المفسدين في الأرض من أوباش القبائل و أهل الفتن
Not a single person from the cream of the Muslims were involved in the murder of ‘Uthman. They neither murdered him nor ordered his killing. A group of those who spread anarchy on earth killed him, who were from the scum of the earth and the people of fitnah.
و لم يدخل خيار المسلمين في ذلك إنما قتله طائفة من المفسدين في الأرض من أوباش القبائل و رؤء الشر
The best of Muslims were not involved in this. A group of radicals killed him, from the dregs of the tribes and heads of evil.
فمن الذي اجتمع على قتل عثمان؟ هل هم إلا طائفة من أولي الشر و الظلم و لا دخل في قتله أحد من السابقين
Who gathered to kill ‘Uthman? Were they not except a group of evil oppressors? None of the early adherents of the faith participated in his killing.
هاجت رؤس الفتنة و الشر و أحاطوا به و حاصروه ليخلع نفسه من الخلافة و قاتلوه قاتلهم الله
The leaders of fitnah and evil sprung up and encircled him and besieged him, so that he may surrender the caliphate, and then they killed him, may Allah destroy them all.
The scholars of ‘aqidah have stated:
إن قتلة عثمان لم يكونوا بغاة بل هم ظلمة و عتاة لعدم الاعتداد بشبهتهم و لأنهم أصروا على الباطل بعد كشف الشبهة و إيضاح الحق لهم
The murderers of ‘Uthman were not just rebels. Rather they were tyrants and violent impudents, since their doubts held no steam and they were hell-bent on falsehood even after their misconceptions were removed and the truth became manifest to them.
The conspirators and rebels were successful in their mischievous mission (i.e. ‘Uthman’s murder). This was no ordinary event. They attacked the centre of Islam and destroyed the central power. Seeing this upsetting event, the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were distraught. The decree of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala came to pass, which no man holds the power to thwart.
و قال عبد الله بن سلام لقد فتح الناس على أنفسهم بقتل عثمان باب فتنة لا ينغلق عنهم إلى قيام الساعة
‘Abdullah ibn Salam said, “People have opened a door of fitnah upon themselves with the killing of ‘Uthman which will never be closed until the Day of Qiyamah.”
قال أبو حميد الساعدي لما قتل عثمان و كان ممن شهد بدرا اللهم إن لك علي ألا أفعل كذا و لا أفعل كذا و لا أضحك حتى ألقاك
Sayyidina Abu Humayd al Sa’idi radiya Llahu ‘anhu―who attended Badr―vowed, after ‘Uthman was killed, “O Allah, I make mandatory upon myself for Your pleasure that I will not do this and that, and I will not laugh until I meet you.”
و ذكر عن أنس بن مالك قال قال عبد الله بن عمر ما شبعت من طعام منذ قتل عثمان
It is reported from Anas ibn Malik who relates that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar stated, “I have not eaten to my fill since ‘Uthman was killed.”
The pain of Sayyidina ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu martyrdom was very hard upon the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, and cannot be explained in words. We have quoted a few words of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum as samples. Otherwise, there is a lengthy story of grief of this unjust murder, related from many Sahabah. The sorrow displayed by the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum upon it is still little. It cannot be healed in any way.
What has been mentioned above makes it clear that the objections levelled by the rebels against Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu during his last days were all based on deceptive motives. No new practice against the Shari’ah was invented during the ‘Uthmani era, nor were the limits set by Allah violated. No ideologies of nationalism were raised among the tribes which could be the cause for him giving relatives posts and abundance of wealth.
If some people levelled these accusations, were they better well-wishers of Islam than the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum? Were they better at establishing the dini system? It is apparent that majority of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were opposed to these anarchists and did not rub shoulders with them. This is sufficient proof for the falsehood of the anarchists.
The people who raised objections against Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu were men who did not desire the Islamic system from their hearts and harboured enmity for Islam. They were jealous and had enmity for the progress and advancement of Islam. But they could not express their emotions in another way. They, thus, chose this path, in the guise of well-wishing for Islam and set their sinister plan into motion. In this way, they managed to create the fitnah of dissension and disunity among the Muslims.
All what was mentioned is fully supported by the sayings and actions of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Some of their words and actions have been quoted in the above pages. Now, corroboration from the blessed tongue of the leader of the worlds Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will be presented. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sounded many glad tidings in favour of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu which apply aptly to those final days and indicate to the truthfulness and sincerity of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Some of these will be quoted hereunder.
و ذكر موسى بن عقبة عن أبي حبيبة قال أتيت عثمان برسالة الزبير و هو محصور فلما أديتها و عنده أبو هريرة قام أبو هريرة فقال أشهد لسمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول تكون بعدي فتن و أحداث قال قلنا فأين المنجا منها يا رسول الله قال إلى الأمين و حزبه و أشار إلى عثمان
Musa ibn ‘Uqbah reports from Abu Habibah who says:
I came to ‘Uthman with Zubair’s letter while he was besieged. After reading out the contents, Abu Hurairah (who was present) stood up and announced, “I testify that I had definitely heard Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying, ‘There will be fitnahs after me and new happenings.’ We asked, ‘What is the way to salvation, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘To the trustworthy and his group,’ and he pointed to ‘Uthman.”
b) Once, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went out somewhere.
استفتح رجل فقال لي افتح له و بشره بالجنة على بلوى تصيبه فإذا عثمان فأخبرته بما قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فحمد الله ثم قال الله المستعان
A man sought permission to enter. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told me (Abu Musa al Ash’ari), “Open for him and give him glad tidings of Jannat after a calamity will befall him.”
It turned out to be ‘Uthman. I informed him of what Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had said. He simply praised Allah and then uttered, “Help is sought only from Allah.”
عن عائشة أن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال يا عثمان إنه لعل الله يقمصك قميصا فإن أرادوك على خلعه فلا تخلعه لهم رواه الترمذي و ابن ماجة
Aisha reports that the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O ‘Uthman, certainly Allah will give you a garment. If they want you to take it off, do not take it off for them.” Al Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah narrated it.
It is evident from the above ahadith:
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala favoured Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu with the robe of caliphate. He sacrificed his life, but did not take off the robe of caliphate as per the instruction of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Together with this, he did not allow for a single drop of blood of a Muslim to be spilled. Had he ordered the Muslims to sacrifice themselves in order to save his life, millions of Muslims would have done so willingly. But rather than giving the order for them to sacrifice their lives, he presented his own life and spared the blood of the nation. This level of passion of preference does not cross the mind of anyone.
May Allah have mercy upon him and be pleased with him and all the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
After having a brief look at the contents of the book, it becomes apparent that Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not veer away from the truth in favouring his relatives, nor did he transgress the limits. His actions during his caliphate did not move away from the needle of justice. The religious services of his family for Islam were fruitful and beneficial (as proven from the pages of history).
In the face of all these realities and truths, there is no worth to the propaganda against Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu that due to his false policy towards his relatives, tribalism was created which led to all the chaos and fitnah. We have presented historical evidence to prove the fallacy of this belief. People with sound temperament and searchers for the truth will find them satisfactory.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala guide all the Muslims and favour them with unity and harmony. May He grant us the ability to have sound beliefs about all the noble Sahabah and family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and to emulate them. May He grant us death with iman and bless us with their company in the Akhirah.
و آخر دعوانا أن الحمد لله رب العالمين و الصلوة و السلام على سيد خ-لقه خاتم النبيين و على آله و أصحابه و صلحاء أمته و سائر أتباعه بإحسان إلى يوم الدين أجمعين برحمتك يا أرحم الراحمين
The humble, hopeful for prayer: Muhammad Nafi’, may Allah forgive him
Jami’ah Muhammadi, Jhang (Pakistan)
Sha’ban al Mu’azzam 1400 A.H./July 1980
 Minhaj al Karamah fi Ma’rifat al Imamah, vol. 4 pg. 68, the last discussion on the ‘Uthmani allegations, printed at the end of Minhaj al Sunnah, Lahore print.
 Al Tarikh al Saghir, pg. 32, list of those who passed away during ‘Uthman’s caliphate, Allahabad print (India).
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, pg. 60, Suhayl Academy print, Lahore.
 Sheikh Jilani (d. 561 A.H.): Ghunyat al Talibin Mutarjam, pg. 137, section on the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah, old print, Lahore.
 Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 5 pg. 99, the year 35 A.H., mention of the travel of those residents of Egypt who moved to Dhu Khashab.
 Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, vol. 2 pg. 1027.
 Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 5 pg. 134, the year 35 A.H., mention of some of the events of the life of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
 Al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 218, section on some of his great merits and major good deeds.
 Al Bidayah, vol. 8 pg. 239, the leadership of ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.
 Kitab al Sunnah, pg. 197, Makkah Mukarramah print, 1349 A.H. edition.
 Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 5 pg. 194, the year 36 A.H., Amir al Mu’minin’s stop at Dha Qar.
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, pg. 111, Lahore print, answers to allegations against ‘Uthman.
 Al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 167 – 168, the year 34 A.H.
 Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, vol. 2 pg. 1027, the beginning of revolt against ‘Uthman.
 Rijal al Kashshi, pg. 71, biography of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, Mumbai print; Tanqih al Maqal, vol. 2 pg. 184, ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, Najaf Ashraf print; Tuhfat al Ahbab, pg. 184, ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, Tehran print.
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 145, the year 35 A.H., the fitnah during the time of ‘Uthman.
 Nasab Quraysh, pg. 103, the children of Abu al ‘As; Tarikh al Islam, vol. 2 pg. 133, the year 35 A.H.
 Al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 197, section if anyone asks how could ‘Uthman be killed.
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 151, the year 35 A.H., the fitnah in the time of ‘Uthman; Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 pg. 48, mention of what was said to ‘Uthman about removing the garment.
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 151, the year 35 A.H., the fitnah at the time of ‘Uthman.
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 151, the year 35 A.H., the fitnah at the time of ‘Uthman; Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 pg. 48 – 49, mention of what was said to ‘Uthman about removing the garment; Kitab al Sunan of Sa’id ibn Mansur, vol. 3 pg. 362, section 2, Majlis ‘Ilmi print, Karachi, Dabhel.
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 150, the year 35 A.H., the fitnah at the time of ‘Uthman.
 Musnad Ahmed, vol. 1 pg. 74, the musnadat and akhbar of ‘Uthman, first edition, Egypt.
 Nasab Quraysh, pg. 101, the offspring of Abu al ‘As ibn Umayyah.
 Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 pg. 54, section 1, mention of who buried ‘Uthman, when he was buried and who carried him, first print, Leiden.
 Tuhfat Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers), pg. 329, new print Lahore, at the end of criticism 10, allegations against ‘Uthman.
 Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 2 pg. 186.
 Al Muntaqa, pg. 225.
 Al Muntaqa, pg. 543.
 Tadhkirat al Huffaz, pg. 8 – 9, Hyderabad Dakkan print, first edition, Amir al Mu’minin ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan.
 Al Musamarah fi Sharh al Musa’arah, vol. 2 pg. 159 – 160, 8th principle, Egypt print.
 Al Isti’ab with al Isabah, vol. 3 pg. 84, biography of ‘Uthman.
 Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, pg. 56, mention of what the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said.
 Nasab Quraysh, pg. 102, the offspring of Abu al ‘As ibn Umayyah.
 Nasab Quraysh, pg. 103, the offspring of Abu al ‘As ibn Umayyah; al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 209, with reference to Musnad Ahmed, narrations on the virtues of ‘Uthman.
 Sahih al Bukhari, vol. 1 pg. 522, the virtues of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab; Mishkat, pg. 563, chapter on the virtues of these three, section one with reference to al Bukhari and Muslim; Sahih Muslim, vol. 2 pg. 277 – 278, chapter of the virtues of ‘Uthman, Nur Muhammadi print, Delhi; al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 201, ahadith on the virtues of ‘Uthman, with reference to al Bukhari and Ahmed.
 Mishkat, pg. 562, chapter on the virtues of ‘Uthman, section 2; al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 205, ahadith on the virtues of ‘Uthman, with reference to Ahmed.Back to top