Section Three: The cause of fitnah during the caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Section Two: The Saba’iyyah, fact or fiction?
October 10, 2019
Module two: The personality of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the circumstances surrounding his assassination. Section One: The personality of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and his life.
October 14, 2019

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Section Three

The cause of fitnah during the caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

The origins of the fitnah as outlined by Books of Traditions.

Concrete causes of the fitnah.


I. The effect of the Saba’iyyah in giving rise to the fitnah.

II. The effect of the Bedouins in giving rise to the fitnah.

III. The nature of social change during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

IV. Prosperity and its effect on the society during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

V. ‘Uthman coming after ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and their difference in disposition.

VI. Tribalism: Some tribes finding it difficult to swallow the leadership of the Quraysh.


The origins of the fitnah as outlined by Books of Traditions

Studying the causes of the fitnah from a range of narrations as found in the books of traditions, regardless of its authenticity or lack thereof, does not give detailed explanations of the evolvement of the fitnah nor does it provide a complete list of the underlying causations behind the fitnah. Hereunder is a brief outline of such causes that the narrations do suggest.

During the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu there was a group who begrudged him as he was vigilant of the doings of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and others and he would question them with regards to it. For instance, we see ‘Ammar ibn Yasir and ‘Abbas ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Lahab bringing a matter of dispute between them to him. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu disciplines both of them and so ‘Ammar ibn Yasir becomes angry.[1] Similarly, we find Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah differing with him and bearing unpleasantness towards him.[2] Also there was a group of people involved in useless entertainment activities who bore resentment towards him. Types of entertainment and pastime pleasures increased during his era in response to which ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu banished those involved in such from Madinah. They developed ill-feelings towards him.[3]

Then we have the ascetics who saw the magnitude of wealth the Muslims were being flooded with due to the conquests. In the forefront of this group we find Abu Dharr al Ghifari who held a strong opinion on hoarding wealth[4], an indication to the verse:


وَالَّذِيْنَ يَكْنِزُوْنَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنفِقُوْنَهَا فِيْ سَبِيْلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيْمٍ

And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.[5]


Add to this those governors whom he had recalled with the likes of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As who was angry with ‘Uthman.[6] Similarly, there were many envious ones who spited him due to the close relationship the Banu Umayyah enjoyed by him; criticising the appointments of his family.[7]

Together with this the historians mention that people were upset over certain novel actions of ‘Uthman such as his reading the full salah in Mina[8], granting people the permission to discharge their own zakat[9], granting certain lands to his people[10], gathering the Ummah on one manuscript of the Qur’an[11], reserving the pastures[12], and allegedly granting his family from the Muslim treasury[13].

This is a summary of what has been recorded in the traditions that signify the cause of the fitnah. However, do you think that these issues were sufficient to cause the fitnah that occurred and go on to result in the catastrophic end that it led to? Never!

The events during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu occurred in a similar pattern throughout the era of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Not everyone was pleased with ‘Umar. He was much stricter than ‘Uthman, had introduced novel aspects, and had metred our punishments without any laxity. This sterner conduct of ‘Umar did not result in the fitnah during his era and no one rebelled against him.

Some have considered the revolt against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be due to his leniency and feebleness in dealing with the rebels. In reality, even though he was advanced in age, he was not feeble nor weak when it came to the commands of Allah. Yes, his disposition was not like that of ‘Umar and neither did he command such awe. In this regard ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma says:


لقد عتبوا على عثمان اشياء لو فعلوها عمر لما عتبوا عليه

They criticised ‘Uthman for things, had ‘Umar done so they would not have criticised him.[14]


Consider the fact that difference in disposition and awe cannot quell a rebellion. Thus, if the factors the historians have mentioned were in fact what led to the rebellion during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the same would have occurred during the era of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, notwithstanding his stern nature.

These factors cannot be considered as the true causes of the rebellion. These were standalone incidents or, if one were to overstate their impact, secondary causes that could not result in what had occurred, on the level that it occurred.

If one were to accept the supposed missteps and mistakes of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu as presented by the statements of the rebels that have reached us through authentic texts and narrations, then too it would prove insufficient to validate a revolt against the khalifah.

Besides, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was capable of defending his governors and justifying their appointment.


He had sent ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to the Egyptians who asked them, “Why do you resent him?”

They said, “We resent him as he effaced the Book of Allah—referring to his gathering the people onto one manuscript of the Qur’an, reserved the pastures, appointed his family to positions, gave Marwan one hundred thousand, and ill-treated the Companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu issued the following reply:


أما القرآن فمن عند الله إنما نهيتكم عن الاختلاف فيه ، فاقرأوا على أي حرف شئتم . وأما الحمى فوالله ما حميته لإبلي ولا لغنمي وإنما حميته لإبل الصدقة . وأما قولكم أني أعطيت مروان مائة ألف ، فهذا بيت مالهم فليستعملوا عليه من أحبوا وأما قولكم تناولت أصحاب رسول الله ، فإنما أنا بشر أغضب وأرضى ، فمن ادعي قبلي حقا أو مظلمة فها آنذا ، فإن شاء قودا وإن شاء عفوا فرضي الناس واصطلحوا ودخلوا المدينة

As for the Qur’an, it is from Allah. I only stopped you from contradictions within it. Read in whichever dialect you please. As for the pastures, by Allah! I did not reserve them for my camels or sheep, I reserved them for the camels of sadaqah. You people say that I gave Marwan one hundred thousand, well this is their treasury, they may appoint whomsoever they wish. You people also say that I have ill-treated the Companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; I am only human, I get angry and I get happy. Whoever claims a right over me or claims oppression from me, I am here. If he wishes he may take his revenge and if he wishes he may forgive. The people were pacified, came to terms, and entered Madinah.[15]


The people of Kufah brought forward their objections which ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu readily accommodated. Ibn Sirin says:


إن عثمان بعث إليهم عليا ، تعطون كتاب الله وتعتبون من كل ما سخطتم، فأقبل معه ناس من وجوههم فاصطلحوا على خمس : على أن المنفي يقلب ، والمحروم يعطى ، ويوفر الفيء ، ويعدل في القسم ، ويستعمل ذو الأمانة والقوة ، كتبوا ذلك في کتاب ، وأن يرد ابن عامر على البصرة وأبو موسى الأشعري على الكوفة

‘Uthman sent ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma to them. The influential people came and an accord was drawn up over five issues. Those banished will be returned, those deprived will be given, the war spoils will be spread, dividing it will be done fairly, and men of trust and strength will be appointed. They drew up this charter. They further sought that Ibn ‘Amir[16] be returned to govern over Basrah and Abu Musa al Ash’ari over Kufah.[17]


Both the above texts clearly demonstrate what the rebels wanted from ‘Uthman. These are demands the like of which every era has seen. Yet, they do not result in rebellion or fitnah. If there weren’t ulterior motives behind these demands spliced with divergent desires led by elements that desired division, the revolt would not have been possible.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the true causes of the fitnah be determined. Not taking into consideration these true causes leaves one incapable of understanding how minor demands—which were tabled and dealt with successfully—led to the assassination of the khalifah in broad daylight. What then were the true causes that led to the fitnah?


I. The effect of the Saba’iyyah in giving rise to the fitnah

In the early books of Islamic history there are many narrations that refer to the clandestine mobilization of individuals and groups of the mawali who outwardly accepted Islam whilst holding on to their old beliefs. This was done as a ploy to make inroads and destroy the Islamic Empire from within by causing fitnah and instigating dissention amongst the Muslims by way of spreading corrupt beliefs motivated by racial and personal objectives. This was resorted to after these groups failed in openly opposing Islam. The Jews were in the forefront of these elements within the Islamic society; a result of their deep seeded and deceitful resentment towards the Muslims and Islam. The rise of and support for Islam had left them bitter.

Before discussing the active role played by one of these Jews , ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, in instigating and provoking the fitnah and to whom the Saba’iyyah sect affiliate themselves to, it would be appropriate to understand the mechanisms behind this conflict and the stance of the Jews; the enemies of the Muslims from the inception of Islam.

Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:

لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا الْيَهُوْدَ وَالَّذِيْنَ أَشْرَكُوْا

You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah.[18]


This animosity has been reinforced by the Jews themselves. Huyay ibn Akhtab, Jewish leader said looking at Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:


أما والله ما لمت نفسي في عداوتك ، ولكن من يخذل الله يخذل

By Allah! I have never blamed myself for my enmity towards you. But whoever forsakes Allah will be forsaken.[19]


Amongst the shows of their animosity was their role in promoting hypocrisy in Madinah Munawwarah. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:


وَإِذَا لَقُوْا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا قَالُوْا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَىٰ شَيَاطِيْنِهِمْ قَالُوْا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُوْنَ

And when they meet those who believe, they say, “We believe”; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, “Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers.”[20]


This also extends to their efforts to cause doubts amongst the Muslims:


وَقَالَتْ طَّائِفَةٌ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ آمِنُوْا بِالَّذِيْ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا وَجْهَ النَّهَارِ وَاكْفُرُوْا آخِرَهُ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُوْنَ

And a faction of the People of the Scripture say [to each other], “Believe in that which was revealed to the believers at the beginning of the day and reject it at its end that perhaps they will abandon their religion.[21]


Add to this their breaking of the accords and promises they made, besides the treatise that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam enacted with them. Their mocking of the Muslims, criticizing Islam, and other schemes and plans of theirs which caused Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to banish them from Madinah.[22]

Their voices quietened during the era of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma when Islam grew in strength. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu even had them banished from Arabia complying with the instruction of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to which end he advised towards the end of his worldly life. He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

لأخرجن اليهود والنصارى من جزيرة العرب حتى لا أدع فيها إلا مسلما

I will most definitely remove the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula until I leave only Muslims in it.[23]


أخرجوا المشركين من جزيرة العرب

Remove the polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula.[24]


During the concluding years of the reign of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu elements of turmoil began to strike up within the Islamic society due to certain evolving factors that will be discussed at a later stage. Some Jews began looking for opportunities to exploit this turmoil by outwardly accepting Islam and adopting Taqiyyah (subterfuge).

Amongst these was a man by the name of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, known as Ibn al Sawda’. A Jew from San’a’ who outwardly accepted Islam during the era of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. He attained greater fame than others as he accepted Islam at much later stage and showed noticeable activity in Sham, Iraq, and Egypt. He also held the presence of the Khawarij and the resentful ones drawing up plans and stating his destructive views.

The majority of the early historians make mention of this in their books including Imam al Tabari who deems him to be the source of the fitnah and foundation of evil.[25]

Although the role of Ibn Saba’ in the fitnah should not be inflated as done by some extremists[26], his role in the fitnah should not be diminished or doubted[27]. He was undoubtedly amongst the leading and most perilous catalysts of the fitnah, if not the most as the climate of fitnah had paved the way for him and other elements had abetted his cause.

Ibn Saba’ introduced views and beliefs that he fashioned himself, relying on spiteful Jewish sentiment. He began promoting these views to ends he desired and goals he hoped to accomplish. However, he did not attribute it to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and dared not promote it as such. He introduced these sentiments in order poison the Islamic society with ideas that undermined its unity, fueled the fire of fitnah, and sowed the seeds of dissention amongst its persons. These were amongst the factors that led to the assassination of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and split the Ummah into factions and sects.[28]

Ibn Saba’ did not dare attribute his beliefs to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. How could he when the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were on the lookout, refuting his every lie and stopping him in his place.

To summarize what he did, he began quoting correct ideas, but then he leapt to wrong conclusions that found acceptance among the simple-minded, the extremists and those who were swayed by whims and desires. In attaining this he embarked upon a convoluted path covered by a façade that duped those around him and kept them close to him. He then took to misinterpreting the Qur’an according to his crooked beliefs. In this regard he claimed the return of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying:

لعجب ممن يزعم أن عيسى يرجع ، ويكذب بأن محمدا يرجع ، وقد قال الله  : إِنَّ الَّذِيْ فَرَضَ عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لَرَادُّكَ إِلَىٰ مَعَادٍ فمحمد أحق بالرجوع من عیسی

It is strange that those who believe in the return of ‘Isa deny the return of Muhammad when Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has said: Indeed, [O Muhammad], He who imposed upon you the Qur’an will take you back to a place of return. Say, “My Lord is most knowing of who brings guidance and who is in clear error.”[29] Thus Muhammad is likelier to return than ‘Isa.[30]


He also resorted to false analogy in claiming the existence of Wasiyyah (appointment by bequest) with regards to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu saying:


انه كان ألف نبي ، ولكل نبي وصي ، وكان علي وصي محمد ثم قال : محمد خاتم الأنبياء وعلي خاتم الأوصياء

There were a thousand prophets and every prophet had an heir. And ‘Ali is the heir of Muhammad. He then says ‘Muhammad is the seal of prophets and ‘Ali is the seal of the heirs.’[31]


When these ideas settled into the mind of his followers, he continued onto his intended objective which was inciting a revolt against the khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. That matched the prejudice that lay in the hearts of some when he said to them:


من أظلم ممن لم يجز وصية رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ووثب على وصي رسول الله وتناول أمر الأمة

Who can be more oppressive than he who did not carry out the instruction of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, went above the rightful heir of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and took control of the Ummah.


He then said to them:


إن عثمان أخذها بغير حق ، وهذا وصی رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فانهضوا في هذا الأمر فحرکوه ، وابدؤوا بالطعن على أمرائكم ، وأظهروا الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر تستميلوا الناس ، وادعوهم إلى هذا الأمر

‘Uthman took the leadership unjustly and here is the wasi of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Stand and rise for this cause. Begin by criticizing your leaders. Make a show of instructing good and forbidding evil, people will gravitate towards you. Then invite them to this cause.[32]


Saif ibn ‘Umar al Tamimi relates his narration on the origins of the fitnah. He says:


فبث دعاته – يقصد ابن سبأ – وكاتب من كان استفسد في الأمصار وكاتبوه ودعوا في السر إلى ما عليه رأيهم ، وأظهروا الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر ، وجعلوا يكتبون إلى الأمصار بكتب يضعونها في عيوب ولاتهم ، ويكاتبهم إخوانهم بمثل ذلك ، ويكتب أهل كل مصر منهم إلى مصر آخر بما يصنعون ، فيقرأه أولئك في أمصارهم وهؤلاء في أمصارهم حتى تناولوا بذلك المدينة ، وأوسعوا في الأرض إذاعة ، وهم يريدون غير ما يظهرون ، ويسرون غير ما يبدون ، فيقول أهل مصر : إنا لفي عافية مما ابتلی به هؤلاء، إلا أهل المدينة فإنهم جاءهم ذلك عن جميع الأمصار فقالوا : إنا لفي عافية مما فيه الناس

He—Ibn Saba’—sent his supporters and wrote to those seeking corruption in the cities secretly inviting them to their cause. They made a show of calling towards good and forbidding evil. They began writing to the cities detailing the flaws of its governors, circulating this amongst themselves. Each city would apprise other cities of their activities thus linking the cities together with their letters till this phenomenon reached Madinah as well. They spread their false propaganda all over, aiming for something other than what they appeared to be seeking; they even sent letters to Madinah. The people in the regions said: We are free of what others are suffering from,” but the people of Madinah received letters from all over and said: “We are better off than the rest of the people.”[33]


From this, we can see the methods followed by ibn Saba’. He wanted to give the impression that there was a rift between two of the senior Sahabah by showing one as a champion of truth—’Ali—and portraying the other as a usurper; ‘Uthman.

He then made efforts to provoke and trigger people, especially the residents of Kufah, against their governors under the guise of instructing good and forbidding evil. These people thus began protesting against their leaders for the slightest of reasons. He knew well that in instituting such an environment amongst the Bedouins, he had a demographic that would sway to his ends and carry out his aims. As for the religious, he won them over through the guise of instructing good and forbidding evil. Similarly, he won the support of those with worldly ambitions by spreading fabrications regarding ‘Uthman such as his inequity in appointing his relatives, spending the wealth of the Muslim treasury on them, reserving the pastures for himself, and other such accusations and criticism which brought about sentiments of opposition within the hearts of the dregs of society against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

He then began encouraging his adherents to send letters relaying terrible news of their city to other cities. The people of Basrah would be under the impression the conditions prevailing in Egypt was worse whilst the Egyptians would be under the impression that the people of Kufah were living under a delinquent governor and so on and so forth. The people of Madinah would receive letters from the adherents of Ibn Saba’ emanating from various cities depicting a horrifying situation.

In this manner, people in all regions would think that the situation everywhere had gotten so bad that it could not get any worse. Those who benefited from this situation were the Saba’iyyah, because when the people believed their propaganda, they would be able to light the spark of fitnah in the Muslim society. In the midst of this ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu understood that something truly wicked was being orchestrated in the cities and that the Ummah were hurtling towards evil.  He thus said:


والله إن رحى الفتنة لدائرة ، فطوبى لعثمان إن مات ولم يحركها

By Allah! The quern of fitnah is rotating. Glad tidings for ‘Uthman if he dies and does not agitate it.[34]


The base of operations of Ibn Saba’ was Egypt. It was here that he mapped out his plan against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu inciting people to head towards Madinah and provoke fitnah there based on claims that ‘Uthman had taken the caliphate unjustly and had pushed aside the rightfully appointed successor of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; ‘Ali.[35]

He deceived them with letters which he claimed had come from senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Thus when the people from the outlying areas arrived in Madinah Munawwarah and met the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, they disassociated themselves and denied having any hand with those letters that had pitted people against ‘Uthman.[36] The Bedouins did not receive any encouragement from them. They found that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu paid attention to the rights of others, and he debated with them concerning the accusations against him. He refuted their lies and explained that these deeds were based on sincere intentions, until one of these Bedouins, Malik ibn al Ashtar al Nakha’i said:

لعله مكر به وبكم

Perhaps it is a plot that has been drawn up against him and you.[37]


Saif narrated from his teachers how the Saba’iyyah came to Madinah for the first time intending to implement their plans in phases. In the first phase they intended to spread the mention of mistakes that ‘Uthman had made, supposedly admitted to, had not recanted from, and had not sought forgiveness for. Thus allowing them to claim impunity in killing him.[38]

After their debate with ‘Uthman, they returned to their lands and promised that they would return in the month of Shawwal of the same year; 35 A.H/655 A.D.[39]

Saif then mentions their return to Madinah as pilgrims in Shawwal of that year. A summary of what he says follows:


لما كان شوال سنة خمس وثلاثين خرج أهل مصر في أربع رفاق  على أربعة أمراء المقلل يقول ستمائة والمكثر يقول ألف .. ولم يجترئوا أن يعلموا الناس بخروجهم إلى الحرب ، وإنما خرجوا كالحجاج ومعهم أبن السوداء … وخرج أهل الكوفة في عدد كعدد أهل مصر ، وكذا أهل البصرة . ولما اقتربوا من المدينة شرعوا في تنفيذ مرحلة أخرى من خطتهم ، فقد اتفق أمرهم أن يبعثوا اثنين منهم ليطلعا على أخبار المدينة ويعرفا أحوال أهلها . وذهب الرجلان فلقيا أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلي وطلحة والزبير ، وقالا : إنما جئنا نستعفي عثمان من بعض عمالنا ، واستأذنا لرفاقهم بالدخول ، فأبی الصحابة ، وقال علي رضي الله عنه : لا آمركم بالإقدام على عثمان ، فإن أبيتم فبيض سیفرخ

In the month Shawwal of the 35th year, the Egyptians came in four groups, each with its leader. Conservative estimates put them at six hundred with others putting them at a thousand. They did not dare inform people that they were heading to fight, they thus appeared as pilgrims and with them was Ibn al Sawda’. From Basrah and Kufah similar numbers appeared. When they drew close to Madinah they began implementing the next phase of their plan. They decided to send two individuals to assess the situation of Madinah and ascertain the condition of its folk. Two men went and met with the wives of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ‘Ali, Talhah, and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

The two men said to them, “We have come to request ‘Uthman depose some of our governors.”

They asked for approval of their groups to enter. The Sahabah refused their request.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “I do not permit you to approach ‘Uthman. If you do not abide then the egg will hatch.”[40]


As a result of this failure they had to formulate another plan. A group from Egypt approached ‘Ali, a group from Basrah approached Talhah, and a group from Kufah approached al Zubair and spoke with them. However, these Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum promptly turned them away saying:


لقد علم الصالحون أن جيش ذي المروة وذي خشب ملعونون على لسان محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم فارجعوا لا صحبكم الله

All pious people know that the armies that would setup camp in Dhu al Marwah and Dhu al Khashab[41] have been cursed by Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Be Gone, may Allah ruin you.[42]


In the narration of Ibn ‘Asakir the following has been recorded from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib:


لقد علمت عائشة أن جيش المروة وأهل النهروان ملعونون على لسان محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم قال أبو بكر بن عياش : جيش المروة  قتلة عثمان

Aisha knew that the armies of al Marwah and those of al Naharwan were cursed by Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Abu Bakr ibn ‘Ayyash says, “The army of al Marwah assassinated ‘Uthman.”[43]


In the third phase this group left under the guise of returning though they had ulterior motives that was hidden from the people. A plan they had formulated in the form of forging a letter and falsely attributing it to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This letter was used as grounds to permit taking his life which they acted upon by surrounding his home until they murdered him, may Allah be pleased with him.

The narration of Abu Sa’id, the mawla of Abu Usayd al Ansari, which is the most authentic narration[44] in this regard, details the return of this group from Madinah in the following words:


فبينما هم في الطريق إذا راكب يتعرض لهم ثم يفارقهم ثم يرجع إليهم ثم يفارقهم ويسبقهم . قالوا له : ما لك – إن لك لأمرا ! ما شأنك – فقال : أنا رسول أمير المؤمنين إلى عامله بمصر ، ففتشوه ، فإذا هم بكتاب على لسان عثمان ، عليه خاتمه إلى عامله بمصر : أن يصلبهم او يقتلهم او يقطع ايديهم وأرجلهم من خلاف ، فأقبلوا حتى قدموا المدينة ، فأتوا عليا ، فقالوا ألم تر إلى عدو الله – إنه كتب فينا بكذا وكذا ، وإن الله قد أحل دمه ، قم معنا إليه ، قال على : والله لا أقوم معكم ، فقالوا : فلم كتبت إلينا – فقال : والله ما كتبت إليكم كتابا قط . فنظر بعضهم إلى بعض ثم قال بعضهم لبعض . ألهذا تقاتلون ، أو لهذا تغضبون – فانطلق علي فخرج من المدينة إلى قرية ، فانطلقوا حتى دخلوا على عثمان فقالوا : كتبت فينا بكذا وكذا . فقال : إنهما اثنتان : أن يقيموا رجلين من المسلمين أو يميني بالله الذي لا إله إلا هو ما كتبت ولا أمليت ولا علمت ، وقد يكتب الكتاب على لسان الرجل وينقش الخاتم على الخاتم . قالوا : قد أحل الله دمك ونقضت العهد والميثاق ، وحصروه في القصر – الدار رضي الله عنه

As the Egyptian delegation was travelling homeward, they saw someone riding who repeatedly approached them then moved away.

So they said to him, “What is the matter with you?”

He said, “I am the envoy of the Amir al Mu’minin to his governor in Egypt.”

They examined him and found a letter that bore the seal of ‘Uthman addressed to his governor. It contained orders to crucify them or kill them, or cut off their hands and feet. They went back to Madinah and came to ‘Ali and said, “Do you not see the enemy of Allah has written such and such instructions regarding us! Definitely Allah has made his blood permissible. Come with us to him.”

‘Ali said, “By Allah, I will not go with you.”

They said, “Then why did you write to us?”

He replied, “By Allah, I have never written a letter to you!”

They began looking at each other and said amongst themselves, “Is it for this you are fighting? Or is it over this you are angry?”

‘Ali then left Madinah and went to a village. They went to ‘Uthman and said to him, “You have written such and such instructions regarding us.”

He replied, “There are two ways you can prove me guilty; either bring two Muslim men to testify or accept my oath by Allah, besides Whom there is no other god, that I did not write it or dictate it or have any knowledge of it. A letter may be attributed to a man and a seal may be put on it.”

They said, “Allah has made your blood permissible and you have broken the treaty”

And then they surrounded his home.[45]


Many peculiarities would strike one reading this book with regards to this text.

Firstly, the carrier of the forged letter approached this group then ran away, and he did that repeatedly. He only did that to attract their attention and make them suspicious so that they may catch him and question him.

Secondly, him telling them that he is the messenger of the Amir al Mu’minin to the governor of Egypt whereas they had just left ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. What work would he then have with the governor of Egypt.

Thirdly, the question ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu posed to the delegates of Kufah and Basrah who claimed to have come to assist their brothers. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked them:

وكيف علمتم يا أهل الكوفة ويا أهل البصرة بما لقي أهل مصر، وقد سرتم مراحل ثم طويتم نحونا

O people of Kufah and Basrah, how did you know what had happened to the people of Egypt, when you had travelled a long distance, then you came back?[46]


In fact, ‘Ali was certain about that and said:

بل إن عليا يجزم : هذا والله أمر أبرم بالمدينة

By Allah, this was a plan that was drawn up in Madinah.[47]


Furthermore, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, truthful and trustworthy, emphasised that the letter was falsely attributed to him and that his seal was forged. The honest believed him and the liars belied him.[48]

Above all of this, the rebels revealed their true goal by saying:


ضعوه على ما شئتم ، لا حاجة لنا في هذا الرجل ، ليعتزلنا ونحن نعتزله

Blame whoever you want for it. We do not want this man. We will depose him.[49]


This cursed letter was not the first letter fabricated by these rebels, rather they also fabricated letters that were attributed to the Sahabah, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum was accused of having written to the people, telling them to rebel against ‘Uthman, but she denied it and said:


لا والذي آمن به المؤمنون وكفر به الكافرون ما كتبت لهم سوداء في بيضاء حتى جلست مجلسی هذا

No, by the One in Whom the believers believe, and in Whom the disbelievers disbelieve, I never wrote anything to them until I sat here where I am.[50]


Al A’mash commented:

فكانوا يرون أنه كتب على لسانها

They thus knew that it had been falsely attributed to her.[51]


The delegates accused ‘Ali of having written to them, telling them to come to Madinah, but he denied that and swore:


والله ما كتبت إليكم كتابا

By Allah, I did not write any letter to you.[52]


Letters to people in other regions, telling them to come to Madinah because the religion of Muhammad had been corrupted and abandoned, and jihad in Madinah was better than staying in remote outposts, were also attributed to the Sahabah.[53]

Ibn Kathir commented on this report by saying:


وهذا كذب على الصحابة ، وإنما كتبت کتب مزورة عليهم ، فقد كتب من جهة علي وطلحة والزبير إلى الخواریج – قتلة عثمان – كتبا مزورة عليهم أنكروها . وكذلك زؤر هذا الكتاب على عثمان أيضا ، فإنه لم يأمر به ، ولم يعلم به

This is a lie against the Sahabah, and the letters were fabrications against them. Fabricated letters that were attributed to ‘Ali, Talhah and al Zubair, which they denied, were sent to the rebels—the killers of ‘Uthman. This letter was also falsely attributed to ‘Uthman; he did not tell anyone to write it for him and he was not aware of it.[54]


The words of Ibn Kathir are confirmed by the report of al Tabari and Khalifah, which says that the senior Sahabah themselves—’Ali, Aisha and al Zubair—denied these letters, according to the soundest reports.[55]

Perhaps through the above observations it may be possible to identify who had written the letter. The following statement hits the mark:


إن الكتاب لا يعدو أن يكون مسرحية مثلت في الطريق الغربي الذي كان فيه المصريون وحدهم

The letter was nothing more than a performance on the western road where the Egyptians were, unaccompanied.[56]


The narration of Saif states that Ibn al Sawda’ was with them.[57] This is referring to ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ who constantly lured people’s hearts against ‘Uthman. He played a huge role in the events that led to the fitnah.

This was a hand that was laid out clandestine ploys to create dissention amongst the Muslims. Falsely attributing letters to the Sahabah was to this end. Also to this end was the devious plan of sending a letter to the governor of ‘Uthman over Egypt. Exploiting matters in order to raise dissention in this manner can only be the act of that evil Jew. The same one who Saif identifies as the propagandists, together with his adherents, in fueling the fitnah.

Authentic narrations illustrate their outline but do not clearly identify them. The narration of Saif thus gains strength when considered together with the authentic narrations[58] as the two do not clash. They have the same subject matter, one with greater details. Historical methodology is accepting of such narrations as they do not differ with authentic narrations.

Since Saif is in agreement with the events based on the framework provided by the authentic narrations, it should be possible to rely on him and attach the details of his narrations to the authentic ones. As he sticks to the primary material and further explains the ambiguities found therein.[59]

It should be noted that there are scattered accounts in the works of famous historians and scholars that identify the effect of Ibn Saba’ and his supporters in the fitnah. This also goes to strengthen and reinforce the above mentioned narration of Saif.

Al Qummi mentions that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was the first to criticize Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman[60]. Al Nawbakhti concurs with al Qummi. Mentioning the events of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ he states that he criticized and disparaged Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum.[61]

Ibn ‘Asakir narrated many reports that mention ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, and these reports do not include Saif ibn ‘Umar as one of the narrators. This goes to emphasize his role in fueling the fitnah. Before mentioning the narrations, he says:


طاف بلاد المسلمين ليلفتهم عن طاعة الأئمة ويدخل بينهم الشر ، وقد دخل دمشق لذلك زمن عثمان بن عفان

He travelled the Muslim cities trying to turn people away from obedience to the leaders and to incite evil. He travelled to Damascus for this very reason during the era of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan.[62]


Ibn al Athir agrees with Imam al Tabari. He reproduces his narrations regarding Ibn Saba’ without the chain of transmission.[63]

Al Maliqi says:

وفي سنة ثلاثا وثلاثين تحرك جماعة في شأن عثمان رضي الله عنه وكانوا جماعة منهم مالك الأشتر، وعبد الله بن سبأ المعروف بابن السوداء، وسودان بن حمران

In the year 33 A.H a group was readied in view of the matter of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Amongst this group was Malik al Ashtar[64], ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, known as Ibn Sawda’, and Sawdan ibn Hamran.[65]


Al Dhahabi is of the view that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ started the fitnah in Egypt, where he planted the seeds of grudges and criticism against the governors first, then against the ruler ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[66]

Ibn Kathir narrated that among the causes of the incitement against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the emergence of Ibn Saba’, who went to Egypt and spread rumours among the people that he fabricated himself, by which many people in Egypt were deceived.[67]

Ibn Khaldun says:


إن عبد الله بن سبأ يعرف بابن السوداء ، كان يهوديا فهاجر أيام عثمان ، فلم يحسن إسلامه ، فأخرج من البصرة ، فلحق بالكوفة ، ثم بالشام ، فأخرجوه ، فلحق بمصر ، وكان يكثر الطعن على عثمان ويدعو في السر إلى أهل البيت … ويحرض الناس على القيام بذلك ، والطعن على الأمراء ، فاستمال الناس بذلك في الأمصار ، وكاتب به بعضهم بعضا

‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was known as Ibn al Sawda’. A Jew who migrated in the days of ‘Uthman. He was not sincere in his acceptance of Islam. He left Basrah and went to Kufah then to Sham for where he was evicted. He thus travelled to Egypt. He would criticize ‘Uthman a lot and call to a cause of the Ahlul Bayt in secrecy. He encouraged people to rise for this cause and to criticize their governors. People were swayed by this in the different regions and wrote to each other about it.[68]


Al Maqrizi says regarding Ibn Saba’:

المثير للفتنة المنتهية بقتل عثمان

The one who fueled the fitnah that led to the murder of ‘Uthman.[69]


Al Hafiz ibn Hajar relates the incidents of Ibn Saba’ and says:

 وأخبار عبد الله بن سبأ شهيرة في التواريخ

And the accounts of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ are well documented in historical sources.[70]


Al Suyuti speaking of Egypt recalls that initially the Egyptians opposed Ibn Saba’. He then says:


ثم افتتن به بشر كثير منهم ، وكان ذلك مبدأ تأليبهم على عثمان

Then many of them got embroiled in his fitnah. This was the beginning of them being pitted against ‘Uthman.[71]


The famous historians and scholars of both the earlier and later generations of this Ummah are agreed that Ibn Saba’ appeared among the Muslims with ideas, plans, and plots aimed at diverting the Muslims from their faith and from obeying their ruler, and spreading division and disputes among them. The thugs rallied around him, leading to the formation of the Saba’iyyah group, which was one of the factors in the fitnah that ended with the murder of the khalifah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

It seems that the Saba’iyyah plots were very well organized. They were very skilled in directing their ‘missionaries’ and spreading their ideas, as they had the means of propaganda to influence the thugs and dregs of society. They were also active in forming branches in Basrah, Kufah and Egypt, exploiting tribal sentiments and exploiting the weaknesses of the Bedouins, slaves, and freed slaves, appeasing them with what they wanted to hear.


II. The effect of the Bedouins in giving rise to the fitnah

Together with the Saba’iyyah elements of the Bedouins were instrumental in giving rise to the fitnah. These were those Bedouins who had not sincerely accepted Islam and were quite hard hearted. They were from various tribes of Mudar, Rabi’ah, and Yemen. They were dessert dwellers with unending squabbles in the pre-Islamic period. When the message of Islam came they entered into its fold.

These Bedouins fall into a few categories:

Amongst them were those who wholeheartedly accepted the faith and were true believers. Regarding them Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:


وَمِنَ الْأَعْرَابِ مَنْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَتَّخِذُ مَا يُنْفِقُ قُرُبَاتٍ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَصَلَوَاتِ الرَّسُوْلِ ۚ أَلَا إِنَّهَا قُرْبَةٌ لَّهُمْ ۚ سَيُدْخِلُهُمُ اللَّهُ فِيْ رَحْمَتِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُوْرٌ رَّحِيْمٌ

But among the Bedouins are some who believe in Allah and the Last Day and consider what they spend as means of nearness to Allah and of [obtaining] invocations of the Messenger. Unquestionably, it is a means of nearness for them. Allah will admit them to His mercy. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.[72]


Amongst them were those too, who entered into Islam due to fear, hypocrisy, and greed over war spoils. These fall under the following declaration of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala:

الْأَعْرَابُ أَشَدُّ كُفْرًا وَنِفَاقًا وَأَجْدَرُ أَلَّا يَعْلَمُوْا حُدُوْدَ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُوْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيْمٌ حَكِيْمٌ

The Bedouins are stronger in disbelief and hypocrisy and more likely not to know the limits of what [laws] Allah has revealed to His Messenger. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.[73]


The third category of Bedouins were ascetics, engaged in constant worship, and had adopted undue strictness in religious practice. They were biased, had adopted extremism in faith, and had misinterpreted texts according to their whims and fancies. Their rational was feeble whilst their emotions were strong. They had but a superficial understanding of matters.[74]

These religious fanatics are the early Khawarij regarding whom Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has said:


يخرج قوم من أمتي يقرؤون القرآن ليس قراءتكم إلى قراءتهم شيئا ولا صلاتكم إلى صلاتهم شيئا ، ولا صيامكم إلى صيامهم شيئا ، يقرؤون القرآن يحسبون أنه لهم وهو عليهم ، لا تجاوز صلاتهم تراقيهم يمرقون من الإسلام كما يمرق السهم من الرمية

There would arise from my Ummah a people who would recite the Qur’an, and your recital would seem insignificant as compared with their recital, your prayer as compared with their prayer, and your fast, as compared with their fast. They would recite the Qur’an thinking that it supports them, whereas it is an evidence against them. Their prayer does not get beyond their collar bone; they would swerve through Islam just as the arrow passes through the prey.[75]


It should be noted that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was forced to incorporate the Bedouins in the Muslim army as the Empire grew. However, with time they shaped a toxic group who contributed in preparing an environment conducive to the fitnah. This group was the apostate Bedouins.

Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, with great prudence, strongly opposed utilizing them in any military campaign. He would write to his governors:


لا تستعينوا بمرتد في جهاد عدو

Do not seek assistance on any military campaign by anyone who had apostatized.[76]


Al Sha’bi says:


كان أبو بكر لا يستعين في حروبه بأحد من أهل الردة حتى مات ، ولذلك كان بعض من ارتد وحسن إسلامه بعد ذلك يستحي من مواجهة أبي بكر ، فطليحة الأسدي  – مثلا – يذهب إلى مكة معتمرا وما استطاع مقابلة أبي بكر حتى مات ويكتب الصديق إلى خالد بن الوليد وطليحة يشهد القتال معه « أن استشره في الحرب ولا تؤمره

In his wars, Abu Bakr never sought the help of any of those who had apostatized, until he died.[77] Hence some of those who had apostatized but then became good Muslims felt too shy to meet Abu Bakr.  For example, Tulayhah ibn al Asadi[78] went to Makkah for ‘umrah, but he was never able to meet Abu Bakr, until he died[79]. Abu Bakr would write to Khalid ibn Walid when Tulayhah was joining in the military campaigns, “Seek his counsel but give him no authority.”[80]


During the caliphate of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he started to ease off on this policy towards the former apostates, and he urged them to go and join the fighting in Sham and Iraq.[81]

In the army of Yarmuk there was Qais ibn Hubayrah,[82] a former apostate[83]. He was also in the army of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas that went to al Qadisiyyah.[84] But this easing off on Abu Bakr’s policy at the time of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was accompanied by a kind of caution; there were always conditions and guidelines before they were allowed to join, and a former apostate could never be appointed over a company of one hundred men. Hence Sa’d sent Qais ibn al Makshuh with seventy men only to pursue the non-Arabs who attacked them on the night of al Harir.[85]

Furthermore, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu only utilized the former apostates in a limited capacity after having exhausted the number of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and Tabi’in available for a campaign.[86] The following is a letter that ‘Umar sent to Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:


سلام عليك . أما بعد، فقد بلغني صنيعك بعمرو – ابن معدي كرب – وأنك لم تحسن بذلك ، ولم تجمل ، فإذا كنت بمثل مكانك من دار الحرب ، فانظر عمرا وطليحة وذويهم ، فقربهم منك واستمع منهم ، فإن لهم علما بالحرب وتجربة ، فإذا وصلت إلى دار الإسلام ومصرهم ، فأنزلهما منزلتهما التي أنزلاها أنفسهما ، وقرب منك أهل الفقه والقرآن

I have heard what you did to ‘Amr, and that was not right. If I was in your position in a situation of war, I would look at ‘Amr and Tulayhah and bring them close and listen to them, for they have knowledge and experience of war. Then when you reach the Muslim lands you may regard them as they regard themselves, and draw close to the people of fiqh and Qur’an.


Then ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu came and waived all these restrictions that had been imposed by the two previous Khalifas on the former apostates due to several reasons. Amongst his reasons was that he thought that enough time had elapsed since the time of apostasy for anyone to have gotten rid of any of its influence. Similarly, the conquests and growth that followed was not possible with the Sahabah and tribes that accepted Islam in true faith alone. He thus had no option but to utilize them in these conquests.

In this manner ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu decided to appoint some of the former apostates to do work for the state as a means of strengthening their faith, but that had no such effect on them, rather it made them even more corrupt and resulted in their opposition to the khalifah. These effects can clearly be seen in the fitnah that resulted in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. When we look at the names of those who were accused of ‘Uthman’s murder, we see men who belonged to tribes that were among the former apostates[87], such as Sawdan ibn Hamran, Malik ibn al Harith al Nakha’i, and others.[88]

Due to the Bedouins being unoccupied, they began meddling in the affairs of the state; political, social, and others regarding which they had no inkling of. This would lead them to develop negative sentiments regarding the khalifah. For instance, when there was a lull in the conquest the end of the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu because of insurmountable natural or human barriers, especially in Persia, northern Syria and North Africa, a lull in arrival of war spoils followed. These Bedouins began asking, “Where is all the earlier war spoils? Where has the conquered lands gone to?” They considered this their right.[89]

The conquered lands were divided into three:

  1. The lands of those who accepted Islam. They retained its ownership whilst discharging the ‘Ushr (religious tithe). They had no other dues to pay.
  2. The lands that were acquired through an agreement. They were liable for what they had agreed upon.
  3. The lands that were conquered outright. The Muslims had a difference of opinion regarding such lands. Some opined that it should be considered as Ghanimah (war spoils); taking a fifth and distributing it. Others said that the Imam would use his discretion in deciding its outcome. He could either deem it ghanimah, take a fifth and distribute it as Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had done at Khaybar, or he could deem it as Fay’ (wealth taken peaceably from an enemy, either under the terms of a peace settlement or after fighting has ended.) which would be mortmain property endowed to the general Muslim populous as done by ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu with al Sawad (“black land” – in contrast to the Arabian desert refers to the fertile lowlands of Iraq west of the Tigris).[90]

Most of the Sahabah were of the opinion that the lands acquired would not be distributed. Rather, it would be mortmain property. The resulting income from the said lands would be spent in the interests of the Muslims such as funding the military, constructing bridges, dams, Masjids, and the likes. This would apply unless the Imam considered it in the general interest to distribute it. In such an event, he would be permitted to distribute the land. The above system was employed by the rightly guided Khalifas.[91]

Harithah ibn Mudarrib[92] relates that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu intended to distribute the land of al Sawad between the Muslims. He thus instructed that it be quantified. It came to the fore that a Muslim would receive three farms. He then consulted the Companions of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding it. ‘Ali said to him, “Leave it be. It shall remain an investment for the Muslims.[93]

‘Abdullah ibn Qais al Hamdani[94] relates that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to al Jabiyah in Sham. He intended to distribute the lands amongst the Muslims. Mu’az said to him, “By Allah the outcome of it would be a negative one. If you distribute it, it will become a huge income to people until it is consolidated to by one man or women. After them people would come who would ascribe to Islamic principles but would not attain anything. Thus decide in a manner that would benefit the society; present and future.”[95]

Zaid ibn Aslam[96] narrated from his father[97] the following statement of ‘Umar ibn Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu as recorded in Sahih al Bukhari:


أما والذي نفسي بيده لولا أن أترك آخر الناس ببّانا ليس لهم شيء ما فتحت علي قرية إلا قسمتها كما قسم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خيبر ولكني أتركها خزانة لهم يقتسمونها

By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, were I not afraid that the other Muslims might be left in poverty, I would divide (the land of) whatever village I may conquer, as Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam divided the land of Khaybar. But I prefer to leave it as a source of a common treasury for them to distribute its revenue amongst themselves.[98]


لولا آخر المسلمين ما فتحت لكم قرية  إلا قسمتها كما قسم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خیبر

‘Umar said, “But for the future Muslim generations, I would have distributed the land of the villages I conquer among the soldiers as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam distributed the land of Khaybar.”[99]


‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu adopted the same method of administering the Kharaj lands. However, some biased people have accused him of having demarcating from the al Sawad lands for people. Ibn Sallam[100] says in this regard:


وأما إقطاع عثمان من أقطع من الصحابة وقبولهم إياه ، فإن قوما قد تأولوا أن هذا من السواد ، وقد سألت قبيصة  هل كان فيه ذكر السواد – فقال : لا

As for ‘Uthman fixing[101] lands for the Sahabah and their accepting it. Some have thought it to be of al Sawad. I asked Qabisah[102] if it was of al Sawad. He replied in the negative.[103]


Abu Yusuf says, “‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu selected ten categories of lands in al Sawad. Land of those killed in war, land of those who fled from the Muslims, land owned by the Persian king, land owned by the relatives of the Persian king, every cistern, and every Dayr Barid.”[104]

Ibn Sallam says:


فهذه كلها أرضون قد جلا عنها أهلها فلم يبق بها ساكن ولا عامر فكان حكمها إلى الإمام ، كما ذكرنا في عادي الأرض فلما قام عثمان رأى أن عمارتها أرد على المسلمين وأوفر لخراجهم من تعطيلها ، فأعطاها من رأي إعطاءه إياها على أن يعمروها كما يعمر غيرهم ، ويؤدوا عنها ما يجب للمسلمين عليهم … ومما يثبت أن عثمان إنما كان إقطاعه مما أصفى عمر : أنه يروى في غير حديث سفيان تسمية القرى التي كان أقطع صعنبی  والنهرین وقرية هرمز – وكان هرمز أحد الأكاسرة – فهذا مفسر لما قلنا : إنه إنما قطع من تلك الأرضين التي لم يبق لها رب – يعني مالك

The people of these lands were all banished. It thus remained without any resident or investor and thus any implications of the land rested with the Imam as we have mentioned regarding the uninhabited and unowned lands (al Ard al ‘Adi[105]). ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu took note that investing into these lands and cultivating them would prove more beneficial than leaving them bare. He thus gave whom he saw fit to cultivate as others had done. They would then pay their dues from the land. It has also been established that ‘Uthman distributed solely from those lands that were selected by ‘Umar. In besides the hadith of Sufyan there is mention of the distribution of the villages, Sa’nabi[106], al Nahrayn[107], and Hurmuz[108] – Hurmuz was a Persian King – we thus understand that he only distributed those lands that had no owner.[109]


Musa ibn Talhah[110] relates that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu at al Nahrayn, ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu at Istinya, Khabbab radiya Llahu ‘anhu at Sam’a–Sa’nabi, and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas at Hurmuz.[111]

Ibn Sallam says:


وأما إقطاع عثمان بن أبي العاص بالبصرة الأرض التي تعرف بشط عثمان ، فإن أرض البصرة كانت يومئذ كلها سباخا وآجاما – يعني غير صالحة للزراعة – فأقطع عثمان بن عفان عثمان بن أبي العاص الثقفي بعضها ، فاستخرجها وأحياها – يعني أنها في حكم أرض الموات

As for ‘Uthman ibn Abi al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu receiving land at Basrah which was known as Shatt ‘Uthman, well the lands of Basrah at the time were made up of grasslands and jungles–unusable for cultivation. Thus ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan gave ‘Uthman ibn Abi al ‘As al Thaqafi some portion of it. He invested and cultivated it, which indicates that it was under the law of dead lands.[112]


Al Qadi Abu Ya’la mentions confirming the statement of al Mawardi[113] that the distribution of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was from the selected lands. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave from it and made a condition that whoever receives it will discharge its dues. Thus it was given as rental or as easement not as ownership as he opined this to be of greater value. The Kharaj at the time of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was nine million Dirhams whilst in the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu it increased to fifty million Dirhams.

Abu Ya’la further states:


الضرب الثاني من العامر ، ما لم يتعين مالكوه ، ولم يتميز مستحقوه ، فهو على ثلاثة أقسام : أحدها : ما اصطفاه الأئمة لبيت المال من فتوح البلاد ، إما بحق الخمس فيأخذه باستحقاق أهله له ، وإما بأن يصطفيه باستطابة نفوس الغانمين له ، فقد اصطفی عمر به من أرض السواد أموال كسرى وأهل بيته ، وما هرب عنه أربابه أو هلكوا ، فكان مبلغ غلتها تسعة آلاف ألف درهم كان يصرفها في مصالح المسلمين ولم يقطع شيئا منها . ثم إن عثمان نه أقطعها ، لأنه رأى إقطاعها أوفر لغتها من تعطيلها ، وشرط على من أقطعها إياه أن يأخذ منه حق الفيء ، فكان ذلك منه قطاع إمارة لا إقطاع تمليك ، فتوفرت غلتها حتى بلغت على ما قيل خمسين ألف ألف درهم ، فكان منها صلاته وعطاياه ، ثم تناقلها الخلفاء بعده ، فلما كان عام الجماجم سنة اثنتين وثمانين في فتنة ابن الأشعث أحرق الديوان ، وأخذ كل قوم ما يليهم .

فهذا النوع من العامر … السلطان فيه بالخيار على وجه النظر في الأصلح بين أن يستغله لبيت المال كما فعل عمر ، وبين أن يتخير له من ذوي القدرة والمكنة والعمل من يقوم بعمارة رقبته بخراج يوضع عليه مقدرا ، ويكون الخراج أجرة يصرف في وجوه المصالح – كما فعل عثمان

The second type of land. The titleholders of which wasn’t specified and rights of which wasn’t identified are of three types. The first, that which was selected by the Imams for the Muslim treasury from the conquered lands. These lands were either taken as a fifth right or with the compliance of the ones in whose right it came to. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had in this manner selected the Persian Kings lands, his family’s lands, and the lands of those whose owners fled or were destroyed. The sum total from these lands received was nine million Dirhams which were spent on the necessities of the Muslims. None of it was distributed. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, in his era distributed it as he opined it would yield a greater amount. He made conditions with the receiving parties that dues would be taken from them. From this we understand it was a distribution of managing the lands, not owning it. The yield increased to an amount recorded as fifty million Dirhams. Ownership of these lands succeeded with the Khalifas until ‘Am al Jamaj in the year 82 A.H, where the records were burnt during the fitnah of Ibn al Ash’ath. People then took what was in their proximity.

These types of lands were at the discretion of the Sultan. He could either keep it as part of the Muslim treasury as done by ‘Umar, or he could distribute it to those who were able to cultivate it and pay dues which would be spent upon various projects and necessities as done by ‘Uthman.[114]


Abu Yusuf mentions that the narrations state that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam distributed lands for certain people and the Khalifas did the same. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw the need for what he did in bringing people closer to Islam and cultivating lands. Similarly, the Khalifas only distributed lands when they saw it being a boon for the Islamic cause and a source of spite for the enemies. They deemed it to be the best course of action. If it wasn’t for this, they would not have approached the topic nor distributed rights of Muslims or those afforded protection.[115]

Ahmed has explicitly stated the validity of the lands distributed by the Sahabah. He has refrained from commenting on the distributions of those besides the Khalifas as there were some who had done so with lands, distributing of which were not permissible.[116]

Ibn Rajab[117] says:

ولم يزل أمر السواد على الخراج إلى دولة بني العباس ، فجعله المنصور مقاسمة حيث رخصت الأسعار ، فلم تف الغلات بخراجها ، وخرب السواد

The Sawad continued to be subject to the kharaj until al Mansur, during the ‘Abbasid era, changed the system from the kharaj back to the muqasamah, because the sale-price of the produce did not cover the amount of the kharaj and the Sawad was failing.[118]


Al Muhib al Tabari reasons the distribution of conquered lands by ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu for people was twofold.

Firstly, this was permission from him to cultivate what the people were able to in the dead lands of Iraq, bringing into practice the hadith:


من أحيا أرضا ميتة فهي له

Whoever cultivates a barren land, it will be for him.[119]


Secondly, the historians mention that the noble people of Yemen came to Madinah having left their cities and wealth. He gave them an equal amount to what they left, opining it to be beneficial. This was done either as overseers to land as with the case of the Sawad or as owners to other lands given to them.[120]

It thus becomes quite clear that the false rumours that spread, accusing ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu of having disposed of the lands that had been given as endowment to the Muslims according to his own whims and desires, and having allocated them to whomever he wanted are not true.

These rumours upset and disturbed the Bedouin, especially since most of them had no work and were spending half of their time eating and sleeping, and the other half discussing the policies of the state and talking about the conduct of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, which the Saba’iyyah were dramatizing.

One of the governors of ‘Uthman—’Abdullah ibn ‘Amir—understood what was going on and he advised the khalifah, when he sought the advice of his workers, governors and advisors, that he should tell the people to engage in jihad and send them away on campaigns, so that the main concern of any one of them would be dealing with the lice on his head and taking care of his mount.[121]

In this atmosphere, where people who were used to going out on campaign but did not have much understanding of Islam were talking about serious matters, bad consequences were possible and it was sufficient to stir up these Bedouin and manipulate them into revolting and causing troubles and turmoil.  And this is what actually happened. Due to the cessation of conquest, the Bedouin—with intentions good and evil—played a role in the emergence of the first fitnah, and they were one of its main causes. The superficially religious innovators with good intention believed that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was mistaken. And the greedy with evil intention believed that they were entitled to further rights from the Muslim treasury which they had to attain.

From these incidents we understand that there was a group of people who were unable to differentiate between truth and falsehood and another who were overtaken by greed. The Saba’iyyah took advantage of the simple mindedness of the former and the greed of the latter in inciting the fitnah.

The narrations paint a picture of the Bedouins as a formidable group who were heavily involved with the Saba’iyyah in the fitnah. Consider this factuality in the statements provided below.

The words of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his letter to the cities:


أغاروا علينا في جوار رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم  وحرمه وأرض الهجر ، وثابت إليهم الأعراب

They have attacked us in the vicinity of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in his sanctified place, in the land of migration. Now the Bedouins have returned to them.[122]


Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha states:


إن الغوغاء من أهل الأمصار ونزاع القبائل غزوا حرم رسول الله عل وأحدثوا فيه الأحداث وآووا المحدثين … مع ما نالوا من قتل إمام المسلمين بلا ترة ولا عذر

The scum of the cities and the disputed tribes attacked the sanctified city of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. They have caused havoc and have afforded protection to the ones causing such. They have killed the Imam of the Muslims for which they have no defense nor excuse.[123]


When the Banu Umayyah, Ya’la ibn Umayyah[124], Talhah, Zubair, and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum came together and decided they would seek to avenge the blood of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and fight the Saba’iyyah, a call was made:


إن عائشة تريد البصرة وليس في ستمائة بعير ما تغنون به غوغاء وجلبة الأعراب وعبيدا قد انتشروا وافترشوا أذرعهم مسعدين الأول واعية

Aisha intends going to Basrah and six hundred camels are not enough in facing the riffraff, the Bedouins, and slaves who have spread out and extended their power ready to join forces at a moment’s notice.[125]


‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to the people of Madinah after the assassination of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


يا أيها الناس ! أخرجوا الأعراب عنكم ، وقال : يا معشر الأعراب ! الحقوا بمياهكم ، فأبت السبئية – الطاعة ، وأطاعهم الأعراب

“O people! Remove the Bedouins. O Bedouins! Return to your places.” The Saba’iyyah refused to obey. The Bedouins obeyed.


When Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma sought to mete out the punishment against the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he said to them:


يا إخوتاه إني لست أجهل ما تعلمون ، ولكني كيف أصنع بقوم يملكونا ولا نملكهم ! ها هم هؤلاء قد ثارت معهم عبدانكم وثابت إليهم أعرابكم

My brothers! I am not unaware of what you know. However, how do I deal with a people who own us and we do not own them. Your slaves and the Bedouins have joined forces with these people. [126]


The statement of Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu when asked about the assassination of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu also makes this quite clear. He said:


عدي على أمير المؤمنين ، فقتل بلا ترة ولا عذر ، قيل : ومن – قال : الغوغاء من  الأمصار ونزاع القبائل وظاهرهم الأعراب والعبيد

An attack was carried out against the Amir al Mu’minin. He was killed an innocent man. It was said to him, “Who”? He replied, “The scum of the cities and the disputed clans. They were assisted by the Bedouins and the slaves.”[127]


III. The nature of social change during the era of ‘Uthman

The caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw perilous changes occur in the Islamic Empire. Initially having a relatively small footprint with its headquarters in Madinah Munawwarah, it went on to rule over the Arabian Peninsula and eventually becoming a global Empire. By this time, it held within its power the lands of Iraq, Sham, Egypt, parts of Africa, Armenia, the Persian lands, and Islands across the Mediterranean Sea.[128]

The changes in the nature of the state and introduction of individuals from demographics far and wide brought about a new wave of Muslims who as a general trend were far less impactful than the earlier Muslims upon whose shoulders the Empire was erected. The earlier Muslims were defined by the strength of their faith, their clear understanding of the Islamic creed, and their overarching ability in supressing the self in subjugation to the Islamic code as outlined by the Qur’an and Sunnah.

These defining characteristics were found to a lesser degree amongst the new wave of adherents who were a consequence of the wide spread conquests. Novel sentiments of individual greed, tribalism, fanaticism, and remnants of the old ways flourished within them. They had not received the same Islamic guidance in so far as Islamic creed goes compared to what the earlier Muslims, the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, had received from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The reason for the diluted guidance they received was their sheer numbers and constant involvement in the wars and conquests. These new Muslims were thus influenced by what they heard on one hand whilst on the other hand they continued to regurgitate their ideologies of old.

This phenomenon has been aptly described in a letter ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent to his governors:


أما بعد ، فإن الرعية قد طعنت في الانتشار ، ونزعت إلى الشر ، وأعداها على ذلك ثلاث : دنيا مؤثرة وأهواء متشرعة ، وضغائن محمولة

The public has split and have taken to evil. This is due to three principle reasons, preference of the world, following of desires, and sentiments of hatred.[129]


The narration of al Mada’ini relates the words of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu that indicates to the change of conditions after the new adherents had come into the fold:


يا ابن عدي والله إني مظلوم منعيٌ علي لقد أسلمت وصحبت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فما خالفته ولا غششته ثم صحبت أبا بكر ثم عمر رضى الله عنهما فما خالفتهما ولا غششتهما حتى ماتا أفما ترون لي مثل ما رأيت لمن قبلي

O Ibn ‘Adi[130]. By Allah I am oppressed and being barricaded. I accepted Islam and enjoyed the company of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. I never disobeyed him and never cheated him. I then enjoyed the company of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. I never disobeyed them and never cheated them until they passed away. Do you then not consider me as you considered those before me?[131]


The reality of change within the Islamic society becomes quite clear from the contents of a letter sent by Sa’id ibn al ‘As[132], the Amir of Kufah, to ‘Uthman. He says:


إن أهل الكوفة قد اضطرب أمرهم وغلب أهل الشرف منهم والبيوتات والسابقة والقدمة والغالب على تلك البلاد روادف ردفت وأعراب لحقت حتى ما ينظر إلى ذي شرف ولا بلاء من نازلتها ولا نابتتها

The people of Kufah are in a bad way and the people of honour and those who became Muslim early on and served Islam are suppressed. Those who are prevailing in this land are the lowest class of people and the ignorant Bedouins so you hardly see anyone there who is noble or who has a history of Islam and Jihad.[133]


Furthermore, the mixing in the conquered lands and the intermingling of the Arab tribes led to creating a society that held specific attitudes and outlooks, to them. Taking a look at Kufah for instance, one would clearly see such intermingling. The southern tribes were to be found in the northern regions and the tribes of Mudar and Rabi’ah were inflated by people from the tribes of Hijaz and Najd, and so on and so forth.[134]

And the people of the conquered lands did not get a big share of Islamic education and did not become infused with the Islamic spirit as had been the case with the Sahabah, the Muhajirin and Ansar; the same was also true of the Arab tribes who mixed with the people of the conquered lands. Islam had managed to fuse many tribes in a single melting-pot for a while. But it should be taken into account that the process of teaching and education that was led by a solid base of the Muhajirin and Ansar was not able to encompass these huge numbers of people, so the non-Arabs were unable to get rid of all the ideas and customs that they had followed during their Jahiliyyah. This was due to a lack of balance between the expansion of the conquests and the extension in teaching people in order to enable them to understand the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Yet, the jihad was invariably accompanied by callers to the faith and teachers who sought to teach the people their religion so as to keep pace (with the conquests) and avoid any weakness in the Muslim ranks and avoid any widening of the gap between the conquerors and the inhabitants of the conquered lands, which would result in many negative consequences and affect the political and ideological unity of the Muslim ranks.

It was not possible to avoid these negative consequences despite the enthusiastic efforts in the field of teaching Islam, the reason being that the spread of Islam was so swift and far-reaching. Iraq and the regions beyond it, as well as Sham, were conquered within a few short years, and it was not humanly possible for education efforts to reach and encompass the huge numbers of people in those regions.

Similarly, there was not enough time to consolidate the teachings of Islam in the hearts of many people which, along with other factors, led to confusion and negative consequences against the Islamic ethos. This was clearly manifested in the last years of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu reign.


IV. Prosperity and its effect on the society during the era of ‘Uthman

The riches of the world fell at the feet of the Muslims as a result of the conquests and the multitudes of influxes of war booty into the Muslim treasury, besides the personal gains of the soldiers. For instance, the share for each of the cavalry regiment at Mada’in[135] was twelve thousand[136] and at the conquest of Tustar[137] was three thousand while the infantry received a thousand dirhams each.[138]

It is obvious that these blessings and this income from the conquests would have a great impact on society, as prosperity resulted in the pre-occupation with wealth. Moreover, it would also become a cause of competition and hatred, especially among those whose faith was not strong enough to purify their hearts and who were not disciplined by piety, such as the desert Arabs, the riff-raff, those who converted as the result of conquest, and the members of prosperous nations who entered Islam at a superficial level, who had been living a life of luxury and competing in those things.

This became abundantly clear during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who understood this phenomenon and warned how this would change the Ummah in his letter to the people:

فإن أمر هذه الأمة صائر إلى الابتداع بعد اجتماع ثلاث فيكم تكامل النعم وبلوغ أولادكم من السبايا وقراءة الأعراب والأعاجم للقرآن

The affairs of this Ummah will drift into innovation after three things happen to you: when prosperity becomes widespread, when your children from female prisoners of war reach puberty, and when the Bedouin and non-Arabs start to read Qur’an.[139]


As for widespread prosperity, al Hassan al Basri—who was an eyewitness—spoke of the state of society, the abundance of goods and the accumulation of wealth, and how the people changed and became extravagant and ungrateful. He said:


ادركت عثمان على ما نقموا عليه ، قلما يأتي على الناس يوم إلا وهم يقتسمون فيه خيرا يقال لهم : يا معشر المسلمين اغدوا على أعطياتكم فيأخذونها وافرة ، ثم يقال لهم أغدوا على السمن والعسل ، الأعطيات جارية ، والأرزاق دارة ، والعدو متقی ، وذات البين حسن ، والخير كثير … والأخرى كان السيف مغمدا عن أهل الإسلام فسلوه على أنفسهم فوالله ما زال مسلولا إلى يوم الناس هذا ، وايم الله إني لأراه سيفا مسلولا إلى يوم القيامة

I saw why people got upset with ‘Uthman. Hardly a day went by without provisions being shared out among the people, it would be said to them: O Muslims, come and take your stipends, and they would take a lot. Then it would be said to them:  Come and take purified butter and honey.  The stipends were regular, the provisions were plentiful, the enemy was defeated, relationships were good and there was plenty. What is more, the sword was never unsheathed against the people of Islam, then they unsheathed it against themselves,  and by Allah it has remained unsheathed until today, and by Allah it will continue like that until the Day of Resurrection.[140]


As for the Muslims’ children from the female prisoners of war reaching puberty, this manifested itself in their lifestyle of ease and luxury. The first evil that appeared in Madinah when prosperity became widespread was when the people started to race pigeons and shooting with slingshots. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed a man from Banu Layth in the eighth year of his caliphate to clip the wings of the birds and break the slingshots.[141]

People began to get intoxicated from drinking nabidh, so ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent a man to go around among the people with a stick to prevent that. When it got worse, ‘Uthman  radiya Llahu ‘anhu complained to people, and they agreed to flog people for drinking nabidh. He caught some of them and they were flogged. Then if ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu caught anyone doing evil or unsheathing his weapon, he would banish him from Madinah, and their fathers started raising a hue and cry.[142]

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu stood up in Madinah and said:


ان الناس تبلغني عنهم هنات وهنات ، وإني لا أكون أول من فتح بابها ولا أدار راحتها ( أي الفتنة ) ألا وإني زام نفسي بزمام وملجمها بلجام ، فأقودها بزمامها وأكبعها بلجامها ، ومئا ولكم طرف الحبل ، فمن اتبعني حملته على الأمر الذي يعرف ، ومن لم يتبعني فمن الله خلف منه وعزاء منه ، ألا وإن الكل نفس يوم القيامة سائقا وشهيدا ، سائق يسوقها على أمر الله وشاهد يشهد عليها بعملها ، فمن كان يريد الله بشيء فليبشر ، ومن كان إنما يريد الدنيا فقد خسر

I am hearing news about wrong-doing that the people are committing, and I am not going to be the first one to open the door to fitnah or initiate it. I am reining myself in and restraining myself. I will rein and restrain by the bridle. Whoever follows me, I will lead him in the path that he knows, and whoever does not follow me, for every soul there is a Day of Resurrection and an angel to drive and an angel to bear witness to his deeds. Whoever seeks the pleasure of Allah, glad tidings for him, but whoever seeks worldly gain will be a loser.[143]


Thus when ‘Uthman, the pious man and rightly guided khalifah, carried out his duties, and introduced disciplinary actions against the sons of the rich who had started to lead a life of luxury and corruption, those deviants joined with others who resented him.

With regard to the Bedouin and non-Arabs studying the Qur’an, this emerged clearly with the formation of a class in the Muslim society which learned Qur’an not for the sake of reward in the Hereafter, but for payments offered as encouragement and to soften people’s hearts.[144]

In circumstances such as these, when prosperity was widespread and the Muslims were living a life of ease and plenty, and the people had free time after conquering the regions and they felt safe and secure, they started to criticize and feel resentment against their khalifah.[145]

Hence we can see the effect of prosperity in creating fitnah, and we can understand the advice ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave to ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Rabi’ah—a Sahabi—when he was besieging al Bab[146]:

إن الرعية قد أبطر كثيرا منهم البطنة ، فقصر بهم ولا تقتحم بالمسلمين فإني خاش أن يبتلوا

Many of the people have become heavy (from eating too much), so take it easy with them and do not expose the Muslims to risk, for I am worried lest they be tested.[147]


Concluding the sermon, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, whilst advising the Muslims after the riches of the world had opened up to them, said:


ألا لا تبطرنكم الفانية ولا تشغلنكم عن الباقية … واحذروا أحداث الدهر المغير ، والزموا جماعتكم ، ولا تتفرقوا شيعا وأحزابا

Do not let this transient life tempt you and do not let it distract you from that which is eternal. Beware of what may happen, adhere to the main body (of Muslims) and do not be divided not groups and factions.[148]


VII. ‘Uthman coming after ‘Umar and their difference in disposition

The fact that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu came directly after ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the differences in their natures led to changes in the way in which people were dealt with. Whereas ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a strong character who was strict both with himself and with those who were under his authority, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was softer in nature and kinder in his dealings with others, and he was not as strict with himself or others as ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself said:

يرحم الله عمر ، ومن يطيق ما كان عمر يطيق

May Allah have mercy on ‘Umar; who can do what ‘Umar used to do?[149]


Although the people were happy with ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu during the first part of his reign, because he was lenient with them where ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had been strict, and love of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu became widespread attaining proverbial status:


أحبك والرحمن حب قريش عثمان

By Allah, I love you as the Quraysh love ‘Uthman.[150]


Later on they began to criticize him.  This had to do with ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu upbringing, as he was kind, easy-going, soft-natured, tactful and diplomatic, which influenced the way things developed and changed during his reign from how they had been during the reign of his predecessor ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu understood that when he said to some people whom he imprisoned:


أتدرون ما جرأكم علي – ما جرأكم علي إلا حلمي

Do you know why you are daring to challenge me? Nothing made you do so but my forbearance.[151]


When the intentions of some of the rebels became apparent, after ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had proven them to be wrong with evidence that refuted all criticisms they presented to him in front of a group of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and other people, the Muslims insisted on killing them but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu insisted on letting them go because of his forbearance and gentleness, saying:


بل نعفو ونقبل ، ونبصرهم بجهدنا ، ولا نحاء أحدا حتى پر کب حدا أو يبدي كفرا

We shall pardon and not kill; we will try to explain to them and we will not punish anyone unless he commits an offence that requires a punishment or makes a blatant show of disbelief.[152]


In this manner the law in the hands of Faruq radiya Llahu ‘anhu was absolute and swift whilst in the hands of Dhu al Nurayn radiya Llahu ‘anhu it was gentle and forgiving. And in both was goodness.


V. Difference of political opinion between ‘Uthman and ‘Umar in permitting the departure of the Sahabah

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had prevented the prominent people of Quraysh of the Muhajirin from leaving to other regions, except with permission for a short period.[153] ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was afraid for these Sahabah if they scattered in the conquered lands they would become involved in acquiring property and wealth and that people would be trialed by them. However, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu allowed them to go out and was easy-going with them.  Al Sha’bi says:


فلما ولي عثمان خلى عنهم فاضطربوا في البلاد وانقطع إليهم الناس ، فكان أحب إليهم من عمر

When ‘Uthman became khalifah, he let them go and they went all over, and the people gathered around them, so he was dearer to them than ‘Umar.[154]


What though was the fear of ‘Umar that he put in place such policies which ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma then went on to relax? The result of relaxing this policy was that men of the Quraysh took to wealth in the cities and people took to them. For seven years each group continued to campaign to whom they took to.[155]

Then Ibn al Sawda’ came into the faith and spread his dialogue whilst riches flowed. Evil incidents then began to roll out due to him throughout the life of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[156]

One report states:


فلما ولي عثمان لم يأخذهم بالذي كان يأخذهم عمر فانساحوا في البلاد ، فلما رأوها ورأوا الدنيا ورآهم الناس انقطع إليهم من لم يكن له طول ولا مزية في الإسلام ، فكان مغموما ( مغمورا ) في الناس ، وصاروا أوزاعا إليهم وأملوهم ، وتقدموا في ذلك فقالوا : يملكون فنكون قد عرفناهم ، وتقدمنا في التقريب والانقطاع إليهم فكان ذلك أول وهن دخل على الإسلام ، وأول فتنة كانت في العامة ليس إلا ذلك

When ‘Uthman rose to the caliphate and proved not to be strict with them as ‘Umar had been, they spread all over.  When they saw this world and the people saw them, those who had no virtue and nothing to offer Islam and were not known among the people at all gathered around them, and thus different groups formed.  That was the first weakness that appeared in Islam, and the first fitnah that affected the masses.[157]


VI. Tribalism: Some tribes finding it difficult to swallow the leadership of the Quraysh

Ibn Khaldun says regarding this:


لما استكمل الفتح واستكمل للملة الملك ، ونزل العرب بالأمصار في حدود ما بينهم وبين الأم من البصرة والكوفة والشام ومصر ، وكان المختصون بصحبة الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم والاقتداء بهديه وآدابه المهاجرين والأنصار و قریش وأهل الحجاز ، ومن ظفر بمثل ذلك من غيرهم ، وأما سائر العرب من بني بكر ابن وائل عبد القيس وسائر ربيعة والأزد وكندة وتميم وقضاعة وغيرهم فلم يكونوا من تلك الصحبة بمكان إلا قليل منهم . وكانت لهم في الفتوحات قدم فكانوا يرون ذلك الأنفسهم مع ما يدين به فضلاؤهم من تفضيل أهل السابقة ومعرفة حقهم . وما كانوا فيه من الذهول والدهش الأمر النبوة وتردد الوحي وتنزل الملائكة . فلما انحصر ذلك العباب ، وتنوسي الحال بعض الشيء، وذل العدو واستفحل الملك ، كانت عروق الجاهلية تنبض ، ووجدوا الرياسة عليهم من المهاجرين والأنصار وقريش وسواهم ، فأنفت نفوسهم منه ، ووافق ذلك أيام عثمان فكانوا يظهرون الطعن في ولاته بالأمصار ، والمؤاخذة لهم باللحظات والخطوات ، والاستبطاء عليهم الطاعات ، والتجني بسؤال الاستبداد منهم والعزل ، ويفيضون في النكير على عثمان ، وفشت المقالة في ذلك في أتباعهم ، وتنادوا بالظلم من الأمراء في جهاتهم ، وانتهت الأخبار بذلك إلى الصحابة بالمدينة ، فارتابوا وأفاضوا في عزل عثمان وحمله على عزل أمرائه ، وبعث إلى الأمصار من يأتيه بالخبر …. فرجعوا إليه فقالوا : ما أنكرنا شيئا ولا أنكره أعيان المسلمين ولا عوامهم

When the conquests were complete and the Muslims gained full control and power, and the Arabs settled in the regions on the border between them and other nations, in Basrah, Kufah, Syria, and Egypt, there were those who had been Companions of the Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and were adhering to his guidance, the Muhajirin, Ansar, Quraysh and people of the Hijaz, as well as others who were like them. As for the rest of the Arabs, such as the tribes of Banu Bakr ibn Wa’il, ‘Abdul Qais, Rabi’ah, al Azd, Kindah Quda’ah and others, only a few of them attained that level, but they played a major role in the conquests so they saw themselves as deserving of respect, but the people of wisdom showed greater respect to the earlier generation and recognized their rights, as they were still in a state of awe at the issue of Prophethood and the coming of the revelation and the angels.  But when the influence of that awe waned, and when the enemy was humiliated and the Muslims’ power grew stronger, ideas of old began to re-emerge. When they realized that their leaders were from among the Muhajirin and Ansar, from Quraysh and other tribes, they began to resent that, and this happened to be at the time of ‘Uthman.  They started to criticize the governors openly in the various regions, picking on everything they did and blaming them for that. They made unfair demands for governors to be dismissed and replaced, and they started to criticize ‘Uthman a great deal, and this criticism became widespread among their followers, along with rumors that spoke of injustice in various areas. News of that reached the Sahabah in Madinah, so they grew suspicious and began to speak of dismissing ‘Uthman or telling him to dismiss his governors. He sent people to the regions to check on this news, and they came back to him and said: We did not find anything to be denounced and neither the prominent Muslims not the ordinary Muslims denounced the governors.[158]


Furthermore, tribalism was a force that provoked emotions which led to differences in areas such as Kufah. This can be understood from the following narration of Saif:


أن سعید بن العاص جلس يوما للناس فدخل عليهم جمع فيهم الأشتر وصعصعة  وخنیس بن حبیش  وابنه عبد الرحمن وغيرهم … وبينما هم يتحدثون قال خنيس : ما أجود طلحة بن عبيد الله ! فقال سعيد : إن من له مثل النشاستج لحقيق أن يكون جوادا ، والله لو كان لي مثلها لأعاشكم الله منها عيشا رغدا ، فقال عبد الرحمن بن خنیس – وهو صغير – : والله لوددت أن هذا الملطاط لك – يعني ما كان لآل كسرى على جانب الفرات مما يلي الكوفة – فثار عليه الأشتر ومن معه وقالوا : فض الله فاك ، والله لقد هممنا بك ، فقال أبوه : حدث لا تؤاخذوه . فقالوا : يتمنى له من سوادنا – … أنت أمرته بذلك ، وثاروا عليه ، فحاول أبوه منعهم ، فضربوهما حتى غشي عليهما ، وجعل سعيد يناشدهم ويأبون ، وتأثر أهل الكوفة عامة بالحادثة ، وبنو أسد خاصة ، وكتب أشرافها وصلحاؤها إلى عثمان بإخراجهم ، فكتب إليهم : إذا اجتمع ملأكم على ذلك فألحقوهم بمعاوية ، وكتب إلى معاوية : « إن أهل الكوفة قد أخرجوا إليك نفرا خلقوا للفتنة ، فارعهم وقم عليهم ، فإن أنست منهم رشدا فاقبل منهم ، وإن أعيوك فارددهم عليهم

Sa’id ibn al ‘As once held court for the people. Some men gathered by him, amongst them al Ashtar, Sa’sa’ah[159], Khunays ibn Hubaysh[160], his son ‘Abdur Rahman, and others. Whilst conversing, Khunays said, “How generous is Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah!”

Sa’id said, “Indeed one who owns the likes of al Nashastaj[161] it is only right that he be generous. By Allah, if I possessed anything like it, Allah would provide you all with a life of ease.”

Then ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Khunays, who was a young man, said, “By Allah, I wish that this al Miltat were yours”—that is, the Sasanian crown lands alongside the Euphrates adjacent to Kufah. Al Ashtar and those with him leapt up and said, “May Allah seal your mouth! By Allah, we have something in mind for you!”

Then Hubaysh said, “He is only a boy, don’t argue with him.”

They said, “He desires part of our Sawad for himself. As you have instructed him”

Then they rose up in fury against him. His father went to his defense, but they beat both of them unconscious. Sa’id began pleading with them to stop, but they refused.

The people of Kufah were taken aback by this incident and more so the Banu Asad. The nobles and pious wrote to ‘Uthman to remove them.

He replied, “If all of you agree on this then send them to Muawiyah.”

And he wrote to Muawiyah, “The Kufans have expelled and sent to you certain innately rebellious individuals. If you observe decency within them, then receive them but if they prove burdensome to you, then return them.”[162]


The narration of al Waqidi goes as follows:


أن الأشتر وجماعة من وجوه أهل الكوفة سهروا ليلة عند سعید بن العاص ، فقال سعيد : إنما هذا السواد بستان لقريش ، فقال الأشتر : أتزعم أن السواد الذي أفاءه الله علينا بأسيافنا لك ولقومك ، والله ما يزيد أوفاكم فيه نصيبا إلا أن يكون كأحدنا ، فاستنكر عليهم عبد الرحمن الأسدي – وكان على شرطة سعيد – وقال : أتردون على الأمير مقالته – وأغلظ عليهم ، فلم يتحملوه ، ووثبوا عليه ، ووطئوا عليه حتى غشي عليه

One night, the prominent men of Kufah were holding conversation at the residence of Sa’id ibn al ‘As. Among them were al Malik al Ashtar.

Sa’id said, “This Sawad is but a garden for Quraysh.”

Al Ashtar replied, “Do you claim that the Sawad, which Allah made booty for us by our swords, is a garden for you and your tribe? Allah gives no additional share in it even to the most deserving of you; on the contrary, he should be like one of us.”

‘Abdur Rahman al Asadi who was in command of Sa’id’s guard, said, “Do you dispute the governor’s statement?” He berated them harshly.

They could not bear it and they jumped on him and trampled him until he passed out.[163]


Al Sha’bi says that this incident was the beginning of the fitnah in Kufah. It was the first incitement of evil from Shaitan between the Muslims.[164]

If the incident related by Imam al Tabari regarding the ‘Garden of the Quraysh’ is deemed authentic then the condemnation would be justified as the Sawad was truly not a garden of the Quraysh.

Thus, even though the incident was impactful upon the people of Kufah, Shaitan had incited evil by way of ill words and physical assault. Such behavior goes against the praiseworthy teachings of Islam which seeks to inculcate forbearance, patience, and forgiveness in favour of one committing a blunder. It is necessary for a Muslim to advise the ruler when he is mistaken as he is not infallible. This advice should be in a most favorable manner with wisdom and positive words.


NEXT⇒ Module two: The personality of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the circumstances surrounding his assassination. Section One: The personality of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and his life.

[1] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 399.

[2] Ibid, vol. 4 pgs. 399-400.

[3] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 399.

[4] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 283.

[5] Surah al Tawbah: 34.

[6] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 256.

[7] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 347; Ibn al ‘Arabi: Al ‘Awasim, pg. 62. [Narrations such as these need to be sifted through, separating the authentic from the weak. They also need further explanation. Thus one should not bear any resentment to the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and Tabi’in based on these narrations.] (Publisher).

[8] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pgs. 267/347; Ibn al ‘Arabi: Al ‘Awasim, pg. 62.

[9] Al Bayhaqi: Al Sunan, vo. 4 pg. 114.

[10] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 384.

[11] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 347; Ibn al ‘Arabi: Al ‘Awasim, pg. 61.

[12] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 347; Ibn al ‘Arabi: Al ‘Awasim, pg. 61.

[13] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 347.

[14] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 141.

[15] Al Dhahabi: Tarikh al Islam, vol. 7 pg. 141.

[16] He is ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir ibn Kurayz al Qurashi al ‘Abshami. Governor of Basrah during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was generous and brave. Conqueror of Khurasan and the outlying areas of Faris as well as Sijistan, Kirman, and others reaching up to Ghaznah. Persian Emperor Yazdegerd III was killed in his reign. He was the first to introduce ponds at ‘Arafah, laying streams therein. He passed away the year 58 A.H/677 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 5 pg. 44; Ibn Qutaybah: Al Ma’arif, pg. 110; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 5 pg. 272.

[17] Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pg. 169.

[18] Surah al Ma’idah: 82.

[19] Ibn Hisham: Al Sirah, vol. 3 pg. 261.

[20] Surah Baqarah: 14.

[21] Surah Al ‘Imran: 72.

[22] Ibn Hisham: Ibid, vol. 3 pgs. 191-199.

[23] Sahih Muslim, vol. 12 pg. 92.

[24] Sahih al Bukhari, vol. 4 pg. 31. The ‘Arabian Peninsula’ in this hadith has been outlined by Ibn Hajar in al Fath:

و لكن الذي يمنع المشركون من سكناه ، منها الحجاز خاصة وهو مكة ، والمدينة واليمامة وما والاها ، لا فيما سوى ذلك مما يطلق عليه اسم جزيرة العرب ، لاتفاق الجميع على أن اليمن لا يمنعون منها مع أنها من جملة جزيرة العرب ، هذا مذهب الجمهور

This refers to barring the polytheists from living in Hijaz; Makkah, Madinah, Yamamah, and its surrounds specifically. It does not include the other areas that are considered as part of the Arabian Peninsula. This is due to the consensus that they are not barred from Yemen even though Yemen falls under the Arabian Peninsula. This is the view of the majority. (vol. 6 pg. 171)

[25] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 340.

[26] Such as Sa’id al Afghani in his book Aisha wa al Siyasah. He has inflated the role of Ibn Saba’ in the fitnah and has attributed every conspiracy and fitnah to him that occurred during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is quite evident when he profiles him as ‘Ibn Saba’, the fearsome invisible man’. Pg. 60.

[27] As done by some orientalist and Arab academics. See the previous discussion in this book.

[28] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 340; Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 9 pg. 328; Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 183; Al Maqrizi: Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar, vol. 2 pgs. 356.

[29] Surah Qasas: 85.

[30] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 340.

[31] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 340.

[32] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 340.

[33] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 341.

[34] Al Tabari: Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 343.

[35] Ibid, vol. 4 pgs. 340-341.

[36] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 355.

[37] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 383.

[38] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 346.

[39] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 348.

[40] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 348; Al Baladhuri: Ansab al Ashraf, vol. 1 pg. 560.

[41] Names of places, the first at Wadi al Qura see, Mujam al Buldan, vol. 5 pg. 116. The second a valley a nights travel from Madinah Munawwarah, see Ibid, vol. 2 pg. 372.

[42] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 350.

[43] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, profile of ‘Uthman, pg. 454.

[44] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 345. Al Tabari says, “Yaqub ibn Ibrahim narrated to me [Abu Yusuf al Dawraqi, Thiqah, see al Tahdhib, vol. 1 pg. 281] — from Mu’tamir ibn Sulaiman al Taymi [Thiqah, see al Taqrib, vol. 2 pg. 263] — from my father [Sulaiman ibn Tarkhan Abu al Mu’tamir al Basri, Thiqah ‘Abid, see al Taqrib, vol. 1 pg. 326] — from Abu al Nadrah [Al Mundhir ibn Malik ibn Qat’ah Abu Nadrah al ‘Abdi, Thiqah, see al Tahdhib, vol. 10 pg. 302] — from Abu Sa’id the mawla of Abu Usayd al Ansari [who witnessed the incident].

[45] Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pg. 169; Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 354.

[46] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 351.

[47] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 351.

[48] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 191.

[49] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 351.

[50] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 195. Ibn Kathir says, “This is an authentic chain of transmission to her.”

[51] Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pg. 169.

[52] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 355.

[53] Ibid, vol. 4 pgs. 336-337. Al Baqillani: Al Tamhid fi al Radd ‘ala al Mulhidah al Mu’attilah wa al Rafidah wa al Khawarij wa al Mu’tazilah, pg. 216.

[54] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 175.

[55] Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pg. 169; Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 355.

[56] Muhibb al Din al Khatib: Dhu al Nurayn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, pg. 31.

[57] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 349.

[58] Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pgs. 168-169; Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 383.

[59] See, pgs. 263-265.

[60] Al Qummi: Al Maqalat wa al Firaq, pg. 20.

[61] Al Nawbakhti: Ibid, pg. 44.

[62] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 8 pg. 328.

[63] Ibn al Athir: Al Kamil, vol. 3 pgs. 114 and 147.

[64] He is Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Sa’d al Ash’ari al Maliqi al Andalusi. Ibn al Khatib profiling him states, “He was a learned scholar and a noble person. He possessed deep insight, was on a clear path, and impartial. Knowledgeable in the fields of law and Qira’ah. A master in hadith, its history, chain of transmission, and reliability of narrators. A memorizer of names, teknonym, and affiliations. He was also well versed in the Arabic language, principles, laws, poetry, inheritance, and arithmetic. He was appointed as the judge of Gharnatah for short while after which he resigned due to the difficulty in speaking the truth. He then spread his knowledge, teaching the Qur’an, Arabic, fiqh, and usul. He would have gatherings wherein he would narrate and explain hadith.” He passed away the year 741 A.H/1340 A.D. His life has been recorded by Lisan al Din ibn al Khatib: Al Ihatah fi Akhbar Gharnatah, vol. 2 pg. 125; Ibn Hajar: Al Durar al Kaminah, vol. 4 pg. 284; and Al Suyuti: Bughyah al Wuah, pg. 114.

[65] He is Malik ibn al Harith ibn ‘Abd Yaguth al Nakha’i, well known as Ashtar. He had lived through the Jahiliyyah period and then through Islam. The earliest recollection of him is his attendance at Jabiyah at the khutbah of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

  • ‘Abdullah ibn Salamah al Muradi says, “‘Umar looked at Ashtar and approved. He then said, ‘The Muslims will have a hard time with this one, one day.’”
  • Al ‘Ijli says, “A Tabi’i of Kufah, reliable.”
  • Ibn Hibban has listed him amongst the reliable narrators.
  • Al Dhahabi says, “He was chivalrous, obedient, and He was eloquent and well spoken. He was with ‘Ali at Jamal and Siffin. ‘Ali had him instated over Egypt but he passed away on the way there.”

He passed away the year 37 A.H/657 A.D as a result of being poisoned. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 6 pg. 213; Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pg. 148; Ibn Habib: Ibid, pg. 233; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 417; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 5 pg. 399; and Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 34.

[66] Al Dhahabi: Tarikh al Islam, vol. 2 pgs. 122-123.

[67] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pgs. 167-168.

[68] Ibn Khaldun: Al ‘Ibar, vol. 2 pg. 1027.

[69] Al Maqrizi: Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar, vol. 2 pg. 290.

[70] Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, vol. 3 pg. 290.

[71] Al Suyuti: Husn al Muhadarah fi Akhbar Misr wa al Qahirah, vol. 2 pg. 165

[72] Surah Tawbah: 99.

[73] Surah Tawbah: 97.

[74] This is quite evident in the issue they raised of Tahkim (arbitration).  They said, “There is no law except that of Allah’s”. They believed that no man should arbitrate in matters concerning the faith. News of this reached ‘Ali. He called for the public to demonstrate the superficial understanding and stupidity of the Khawarij. He called for a huge manuscript and began striking it with his hand saying, “O manuscript, talk to the people.”

They said, “This is not a human! It is merely ink and leafs. We talk of what is contained within it.”

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu then said, “The book of Allah is between me and these people. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says regarding a couple:

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوْا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا

And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people.

And the ummah of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is greater than a couple.” Ahmed: Al Musnad, vol. 23 pg. 159. Al Haytami has recorded it. Abu Ya’la has recorded it and its chain is authentic.

[75] Sahih Muslim, vol. 7 pg. 171.

[76] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 3 pg. 341.

[77] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 25.

[78] He is Tulayhah ibn Khuwaylid al Asadi. He was part of the Banu Asad delegation that came to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the ninth year of hijrah and accepted Islam. When they returned Tulayhah turned apostate and claimed prophethood. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent Dirar ibn al Azwar to fight him. When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent forth Khalid ibn Walid to fight the apostates. The apostates were defeated in Najd. They then fled to Sham. He stayed here until his clan accepted Islam. He came with a delegation to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and pledged allegiance at his hand. He became a good Muslim and was martyred at Nahawand the year 21 A.H/642 A.D His life has been recorded by Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 3 pg. 253; Al Nawawi: Tahdhib al Asma’, 1/1/254; and Ibn Hajar: Al Isabah, vol. 2 pg. 234.

[79] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 6 pg. 318.

[80] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 6 pg. 318.

[81] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 347

[82] He is Qais ibn Hubayrah, known as Qais ibn Makshuh al Muradi al Bajali, Abu Shaddad. Chief, and prominent Arab notable for his bravery. He played an important role in the conquests during the eras of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Ibn ‘Abdul Barr says, “Qais was valiant, brave, and a poet. He was with ‘Ali at Siffin and was martyred there the year 37 A.H/657 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 5 pg. 525; Ibn Habib: Ibid, pg. 261; Al Tabari: Dhayl al Mudhayyal, vol. 11 pg. 545; Al Mirzabani: Mujam al Shu’ara, pg. 323; Ibn ‘Abdul Barr: Al Isti’ab, vol. 3 pg. 448.

[83] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 3 pg. 448.

[84] Ibid, vol. 3 pg. 575.

[85] Ibid, vol. 3 pg. 558.

[86] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 25.

[87] Such as the tribes of Sukun and Nakha’; a branch of the Madhhaj tribe. See, Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 3 pg. 334; and Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 6 pg. 352.

[88] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 348.

[89] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 348.

[90] Ibn Sallam: Kitab al Amwal, pgs. 69-70.

[91] See, Kitab al Kharaj.

[92] He is Harithah ibn Mudarrib al ‘Abdi al Kufi, a Tabi’i. He narrates from a group of Sahabah.

  • Ahmed says, “Hassan al Hadith (his narrations are good)”.
  • ‘Uthman al Darami relating from Ibn Ma’in says, “Thiqah (reliable)”.
  • Ibn Hibban has listed him in Al Thiqat.
  • Ibn Hajar says, “Those who relate from Ibn Madini that he is matruk are mistaken.”

His life has been recorded by Al Darami: Al Tarikh, pg. 91; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 4 pg. 127; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 2 pg. 166.

[93] Al Qurashi: Kitab al Kharaj, pg. 47.

[94] He is ‘Abdullah ibn Qais al Kindi al Hamdani al Kufi, Abu Bahriyyah al Himsi. He was present at the sermon of ‘Umar at al Jabiyah. He narrates form Mu’az ibn Jabal, Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah and others.

  • Ibn Ma’in and Ibn ‘Abdul Barr has deemed him reliable.
  • Al ‘Ijli says, “Shami Tabi’i. Reliable.”
  • Ibn Hibban has listed him in Al Thiqat.
  • Al Waqidi says. “‘Uthman wrote to Muawiyah that he should send a trustworthy man on the summer raids. He thus sent Abu Bahriyyah. He was a devour worshipper and a jurist. Hadith was narrated from him.”

He passed away the year 77 A.H/696 A.D His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 327; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 272; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 5 pg. 45; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 5 pg. 374.

[95] Ibn Sallam: Kitab al Amwal, pg. 75,

[96] He is Zaid ibn Aslam al ‘Adawi, Abu Usamah al Madani, jurist and freed slave of ‘Umar. He narrates from his father, Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Hurairah, Aisha and others.

  • Ahmed, Abu Zur’ah, Abu Hatim, Al Nasa’i, and Ibn Khirash have deemed him reliable.
  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was reliable, narrated many hadith.”
  • Yaqub ibn Shaybah says, “Reliable. A jurist and scholar. He was well versed in the tafsir of the Qur’an.”

He passed away the year 136 A.H 753 A.D His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, pg. 314 (concluding chapter of the Tabi’in of Madinah); Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 181; Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 2/1/387; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 3 pg. 454; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 3 pg. 394.

[97] He is Aslam al ‘Adawi, Abu Zaid al Habshi. He narrates from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and Mu’az ibn Jabal.

  • Al ‘Ijli says, “Madani, reliable. Amongst the senior Tabi’in.
  • Abu Zur’ah says, “Reliable.”
  • Yaqub ibn Shaybah says, “Reliable. Amongst the great freed slaves of ‘Umar. He would revere him.”

He passed away the year 80 A.H/699 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 5 pg. 10; Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/2/24; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 63; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 4 pg. 45; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 1 pg. 266.

[98] Sahih al Bukhari, vol. 5 pg. 81.

[99] Ibid, vol. 5 pg. 81.

[100] He is al Qasim ibn Sallam al Baghdadi. Judge and author. He was proficient in the sciences of language. A seeker of hadith and fiqh. He was appointed as the judge of Tarsus and authored many books.

Ahmed ibn Kamil al Qadi says, “Abu ‘Ubaid was highly regarded for his faith and knowledge. A master in the Islamic sciences. A good and authentic narrator. I do not know of anyone that criticised him.”

Ibn Darastuyah says, “Abu ‘Ubaid was noble, faithful, and principled. People have narrated his books on the subjects of Qur’an, fiqh, dictionary of terms, and others which amount to twenty odd books. His books are sought after in every city.”

  • Ahmed says, “Abu ‘Ubaid was a teacher.”
  • Ibn Ma’in, Al Ajurri, and al Daraqutni have deemed him reliable.
  • Ibn Hibban says in Al Thiqat, “One of the Imams of the world. Renowned for hadith, fiqh, faith, scrupulousness, and knowledge of language and history. He authored, gathered, and defended the hadith.”

He passed away the year 224 A.H/838 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 479; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 12 pg. 403; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 8 pg. 315.

[101] It should be noted that the Islamic concept of demarcating and giving land differs vastly from the European concept. The Islamic method as understood through the prophetic era and that of the rightly guided Khalifas is one that is governed by the following principles: The khalifah demarcating land for an individual. The land ought to be in no one’s possession and is not being currently cultivated. It will be given under the obligation of cultivating it. The following lands are not permitted to be demarcated for anyone: Public lands, public roads, mines, farms, market lands, and lands that are owned by a Muslim or those accorded a protected status. Further, the distribution of the said land should not result in the harm of any Muslim or Dhimmi. Investment has to be made into the land or else it would be taken back. In essence the goal of demarcating such lands under Islamic rule was to empower Muslims; especially the needy. Further, it was to cultivate lands that were not producing anything and thereby giving back to the Muslim populous. The European concept on the other hand was a ploy that rested upon oppression, evil, power, and sweeping state control. A Lord distributing land would claim ownership of lands far and wide including its farmers. In this manner they would hold practical influence in policy even when the Kingdom would be weak. See, Ibrahim Tarkhan, Al Nizam al Iqta’i al Islami fi al ‘Asr al Nabawi wa ‘Asr al Khulafa al Rashidin. He presented this for al Nadwah al  ‘Alimiyyah al Thalithah which took place at Riyadh the year 1402 A.H/1982 A.D.

[102] He is Qabisah ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Muhammad al Kufi, Abu ‘Amir. He narrates from al Thawri, Shu’bah, Hammad ibn Salamah, Hamzah al Zayyat, and others. Al Bukhari, Ahmed ibn Hambal, al Duri, Ibn Sallam, and others narrate from him.

  • Ahmed says, “Qabisah was a pious and reliable man. There is no issue with him.”
  • Ibn Abi Khaythamah relating from Ibn Ma’in says, “Thiqah (reliable).”
  • Ibn Abi Hatim says, “I asked my father regarding Qabisah and Abu Hudhayfah. He said, ‘Qabisah is better in my sight. He is Saduq (truthful).’”
  • Salih ibn Muhammad says, “He was a pious man. They have difference on his having heard from Sufyan.”
  • Al Nawawi says, “He was reliable, truthful, and narrates many hadith from Sufyan al Thawri.”

He passed away the year 213 A.H/828 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 248; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 388; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 7 pg. 126; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 12 pg. 474; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 8 pg. 347.

[103] Ibn Sallam: Kitab al Amwal, pg. 259.

[104] Abu Yusuf: Kitab al Kharaj, pg. 57.

[105] Land that had residents in the time gone by. They died out and thus came into the possession of the Imam. See, Ibn Sallam: Al Amwal, pg. 354.

[106] Sa’nabi, a village at Yamamah. See Yaqut: Mujam al Buldan, vol. 3 pg. 407.

[107] I did not find mention of it in the Books of Cities that I referred to.

[108] A village in the Persian lands. See, Yaqut: Mujam al Buldan, vol. 5 pg. 402.

[109] Ibn Sallam: Al Amwal, pgs. 360-361.

[110] He is Musa ibn Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah al Qurashi al Tamimi, Abu ‘Isa or Abu Muhammad al Muzani, resident of Kufah. He is a Tabi’i who narrates from a group of Sahabah.

  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was reliable and narrated man hadith.”
  • Al ‘Ijli says, “A Tabi’i, reliable and outstanding.”
  • Ibn Khirash says, “He was from the great Muslims. He took part at Jamal with his father. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu released him after he had been captured.”

He passed away the year 103 A.H/721 A.D His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 5 pg. 161; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 444; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 10 pg. 350.

[111] Ibn Rajab: Al Istikhraj li Ahkam al Kharaj, pg. 106.

[112] Ibn Sallam: Al Amwal, pg. 361.

[113] He is ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Habib al Mawardi, al Basri al Shafi’i, chief justice and prolific author.

  • Al Khatib has deemed him reliable.
  • Abu al Fadl ibn Khayrun says, “He was a man of great worth. He held a high status at the Sultan. One of the Imams. He has written excellent books in every science.”

Amongst his works are Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah, Qanun al Wazarah wa Siyasah al Mulk, Nasihah al Muluk, Tashil al Nazr, Adab al Dunya wa al Din, and Al Hawi. He passed away the year 450 A.H/1056 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 12 pg. 102; Al Shirazi: Tabaqat al Fuqaha, pg. 131; Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan, vol. 3 pg. 282; and Al Subki: Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, vol. 3 pg. 303.            

[114] Abu Ya’la: Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah, pgs. 230-231.

[115] Abu Yusuf: Kitab al Kharaj, pg. 62.

[116] Abu Ya’la: Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah, pg. 227.

[117] He is ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Ahmed ibn Rajab al Sulami al Baghdadi al Dimashqi al Hanbali, Abu al Farj. Hafiz and scholar.

Ibn Hajar says, “He listened to much hadith and was consciously engaged in knowledge until he attained mastery and authored.”

Amongst his books are, Jami’ al ‘Ulum wa al Hikam, Al Istikhraj li Ahkam al Kharaj, Kashf al Kurbah fi Wasf Ahl al Ghurbah, Al Tawhid, and Risalah fi Ma’na al ‘Ilm.  He passed away the year 795 A.H. His life has been recorded by Ibn Hajar: Al Durar al Kaminah, vol. 2 pg. 321; Ibn al ‘Imad: Shadharat al Dhahab, vol. 6 pg. 339; Al Nuaimi: Al Daris fi Tarikh al Madaris, vol. 2 pg. 76; Al Kattani: and Al Risalah al Mustatrafah, pg. 147.

[118] Ibn Rajab: Al Istikhraj li Ahkam al Kharaj, vol. 3 pg. 178.

[119] Sahih al Bukhari, vol. 3 pg. 70; Al Tirmidhi: Al Sunan, vol. 2 pg. 419; Abu Dawood: Al Sunan, vol. 3 pg. 178.

[120] Al Muhib al Tabari: Al Riyad al Nadirah fi Manaqib al ‘Asharah, vol. 3 pg. 93.

[121] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 333.

[122] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 462.

[123] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 454.

[124] A sahabi.

[125] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 438.

[126] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 437.

[127] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 461.

[128] Khalifah: Al Tarikh, pg. 157- 168.

[129] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, pg. 240.

[130] He is ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Adi ibn al Khiyar al Qurashi al Madani. Amongst the jurists and scholars of the Tabi’in.

  • Al ‘Ijli says, “A Tabi’i, reliable. From the great Tabi’in.”
  • Ibn Hibban has listed him amongst the reliable.
  • Ibn Sa’d ranks him amongst the first category of the Tabi’in of Madinah.

He passed away the year 90 A.H/709 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 4 pg. 49; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 318; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 5 pg. 64; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 36.

[131] Ibn Shabbah: Al Musannaf, vol. 3 pg. 971; al Bukhari has narrated a similar narration, vol. 4 pg. 202.

[132] He is Sa’id ibn al ‘As al Umawi al Qurashi. Governor and leader in the conquests.

  • Al Dhahabi says, “He was a noble, brave, tolerant, praiseworthy, dignified, and intelligent leader. Worthy of the post of governor. As leader of Kufah during the era of ‘Uthman, he invaded and conquered Tabaristan. He is also one of those who wrote the mushaf for ‘Uthman.”
  • Sa’id ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al Dimashqi says, “The Arabic of the Qur’an was written according to the dialect of Sa’id ibn al ‘As as he bore the closest resemblance to the dialect of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

He passed away the year 59 A.H/679 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 5 pg. 30; Al Fasawi: Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, vol. 1 pg. 292; Ibn Hibban: Mashahir ‘Ulama’ al Amsar, pg. 66; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 3 pg. 444; and Ibn Hajar: Al Isabah, vol. 2 pg. 47.

[133] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 279

[134] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 45.

[135] Yaqut says, “Whenever a new King of the Sasanian Empire came to be, he would build a city next to the one previously built. It was thus called Mada’in (lit. cities). It is situated in Iraq. See, Yaqut: Mujam al Buldan, vol. 5 pg. 74.

[136] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 20.

[137] Tustar is a city of Iran in the province of Khuzestan. See, Yaqut: Mujam al Buldan, vol. 2 pg. 29. Today it is known as Shooshtar.

[138] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 87.

[139] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 245.

[140] Ibn Shabbah: Al Musannaf, vol. 3 pgs. 1023-1024; Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 214.

[141] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 398.

[142] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 399.

[143] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, pg. 241.

[144] Muhammad Hamid Allah: Majmu’ah al Watha’iq al Siyasiyyah fi al ‘Ahd al Nabawi wa al Khilafah al Rashidah, pg. 392 quoting from Al Amwal of Ibn Zanjawayh.

[145] Al Dhahabi: Duwal al Islam, vol. 1 pg. 12.

[146] What is meant by al Bab is a region in Azerbaijan which is called al Durr al Bund. See, Yaqut: Mujam al Buldan, vol. 1 pg. 303; vol. 2 pg. 449. Present day Qafqaz.

[147] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 304.

[148] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 384.

[149] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 401.

[150] Ibn Qutaybah: Al Ma’arif, pg. 83.

[151] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 251.

[152] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 346.

[153] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 396.

[154] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 397.

[155] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 398.

[156] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 398.

[157] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 397.

[158] Ibn Khaldun: Al ‘Ibar, vol. 2 pgs. 1026-1027.

[159] Sa’sa’ah ibn Sohan al ‘Abdi. Resident of Kufah. A senior Tabi’i; a Mukhadram. He formed part of the group of ‘Ali. Both his brothers were killed at Jamal and he took the flag.

  • Ibn Sa’d has deemed him reliable.
  • Al Dhahabi says, “He was noble and obedient. He spoke eloquently and distinctly.”

He passed away the year 60 A.H/679 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 6 pg. 221; Khalifah: Al Tabaqat, pg. 144; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 4 pg. 446; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 3 pg. 528.

[160] He is Khunays ibn Hubaysh al Asadi. Imam al Tabari has mentioned him in the events of the 16th year. He fought at Qadisiyyah under the command of Sa’d ibn Abi al Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was the one who gave ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu the glad tidings victory after having being defeated. He then mentions him in the 35th year. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had appointed him over Masabdan. See, Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pgs. 22 and 422.

[161] Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu bought this land from the people of Kufah residing in Hijaz in exchange for his properties in Khaybar. See, Yaqut: Mujam al Buldan, vol. 5 pg. 285.

[162] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 317-318.

[163] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 322-323.

[164] Ibid, vol. 4 pg. 251.