The martyrdom of `Uthman

The martyrdom of `Uthman
May 25, 2015
The attitude of the Mothers of the Believers and some of the female Sahabiyat regarding the murder of `Uthman
May 25, 2015

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The martyrdom of ‘Uthman

In addition to the armies coming from the regions to support the khalifah, the days of hajj had ended quickly and scores of pilgrims were now marching towards Madinah to support the khalifah too, especially since ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum and others were coming to defend ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. News reached the rebels that the pilgrims wanted to come to support ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. When they heard that news, along with news of the hatred that the people of the regions felt towards them, shaitan whispered to them and tempted them, and they said:

Nothing can save us from what we have let ourselves in for but killing this man and that will distract the people from us.[1]


The last day of the siege and the dream of ‘Uthman

On the last day of the siege — which is the day on which he was martyred — ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu fell asleep and that morning he told the people:

They are going to kill me today.[2]

Then he said:

I saw Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in my dream. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were with him, and Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “O ‘Uthman, break your fast with us.”

He was fasting, and he was killed that day.[3]


The Sahabah offer to defend ‘Uthman and his rejection thereof

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent word to the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum consulting them about the besiegers and their threats to kill him. Their attitudes were as follows:

1. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Ibn ‘Asakir narrated from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent word to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu saying:

I have five hundred men with shields; give me permission to protect you against the people, for you have not done anything that would make it permissible to shed your blood.

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied:

May you be rewarded with good; I do not want blood to be shed for my sake.[4]


2. Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu

It was narrated that Abu Habibah[5] said:


Zubair sent me to ‘Uthman when he was being besieged and I entered upon him on a summer day. He was sitting on a chair and Hassan ibn ‘Ali, Abu Hurairah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar and ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair were with him. I said: “Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam has sent me to you. He sends greetings of salam to you and says to you: I am still loyal to you and I have not changed or retracted. If you wish, I will join you in your house, and will be one of the people there, or if you wish, I will stay where I am, because Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf have promised to come to my place, then they will follow whatever instructions I give them.” When ‘Uthman heard the message, he said: “Allah Akbar! Praise be to Allah Who has protected my brother. Convey salams to him and tell him: “I appreciate what you said; may Allah ward off harm from me by you.” When Abu Hurairah read the message he stood up and said: “Shall I not tell you what my ears heard from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “I bear witness that I heard the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say: “After I am gone there will be turmoil and other things.” We said: “Where should we turn to for safety, O Rasul of Allah?” He said: “To Al Amin (the trustworthy one) and his group,” and he pointed to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. The people stood up and said: “Now we know what we should do. Give us permission to fight in jihad. But ‘Uthman said: “I urge anyone who is supposed to obey me not to fight.”[6]


3. Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu

It was narrated that Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu entered upon ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu when he was being besieged, and said:


“You are the ruler of the people and there has befallen you what you see. I advise you of three options; choose one of them. Go out and fight them, for you have the numbers and strength, and you are in the right and they are in the wrong; or make a door other than the door where they are, and sit on your mount and go to Makkah, for they will not dare to attack you there; or go to Syria, for among the people of Syria is Muawiyah.


‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:


As for going out and fighting them, I will not be the first one after the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to rule the ummah by shedding its blood. As for going out to Makkah because they would not dare to attack me there, I heard the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say: “A man of Quraysh who visits Makkah with the aim of profanity or wrongdoing will have the punishment of half of mankind,” and I will never be that one; and as for going to Syria because among the people of Syria is Muawiyah, I will never leave the place to which I migrated and where I am close to Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[7]


4. ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu

The Sahabah decided to defend ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and some of them entered the house, but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu urged them strongly to refrain from fighting in his defence, which prevented them from fulfilling their sincere desire to defend him. Among them was ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

Fight them, for by Allah, Allah has permitted you to fight them.

But ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

No, by Allah, I will never fight them.[8]

According to another report he said:

O Amir al Mu’minin, we are with you in the house, a group with strong faith, and Allah may give victory to a smaller group than us, so give us permission to fight.

But ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

I adjure you by Allah that no man should shed his blood for my sake.[9]

Then he appointed him in charge of the house and said:

Whoever was obliged to obey me let him obey ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair.[10]


5. Ka’b ibn Malik al Ansari and Zaid ibn Thabit al Ansari radiya Llahu ‘anhuma

Ka’b ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu urged the Ansar to support ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said to them: “O Ansar, be supporters of Allah twice. So the Ansar came to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and stood at his door, and Zaid ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu entered and said to him:

The Ansar are at your door; if you wish we will be supporters of Allah twice.[11]

But ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu refused to fight and said:

There is no need for that; do not do it.[12]


6. Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhuma

Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma came and asked him: “Should I unsheathe my sword?” He said to him:

I will never be able to justify the shedding of your blood before Allah; put your sword back in its sheath and go back to your father.[13]


7. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘ Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhuma

When the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma realised that the situation was getting out of hand, some of them decided to defend him without consulting him, so some of them entered the house and prepared to fight. Ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was with him in the house, with his sword in his hand and his shield on his arm, ready to fight in defence of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu urged him to leave the house lest he fight with the people when they entered the house and be killed.[14]


8. Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu entered the house and said to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “O Amir al Mu’minin, now it is time to fight.” He said to him: “O Abu Hurairah, would you be happy to kill all the people and me?” He said: “No.” He said: “By Allah, if you killed a single man it would be as if you had killed all the people. So he went back and did not fight.”

According to another report, Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had his sword in his hand, until ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu told him not to fight.[15]


9. Sulayt ibn Sulayt radiya Llahu ‘anhu

He said: “‘Uthman forbade us to fight them, and if he had given us permission we would have driven them out of the city.”[16]

Ibn Sirin said:

There were seven hundred men with ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the house; if he had let them and if Allah had willed, they would have driven them out of the city. Among them were Ibn ‘Umar, Hassan ibn ‘Ali and ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

He also said:

On the day when ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed, the house was crowded with people, including Ibn ‘Umar and Hassan ibn ‘Ali, who had his sword around his neck, but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, told them not to fight.[17]


Thus it is clear that the accusation that the Sahabah, both Muhajirin and Ansar, let ‘Uthman down, is false and none of the reports which say that, are free of serious faults in the isnad or text or both.[18]


10. Offer of some of the Sahabah to help ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu leave and go to Makkah

When some of the Sahabah saw that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was insisting on refusing to fight the besiegers, and that the besiegers were insisting on killing him, they could find no other way to protect him but to offer to help him to leave and go to Makkah, to escape from the besiegers. It was narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair, Mughirah ibn Shu’bah and Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhum all suggested that to him separately, each of them making the suggestion by himself, but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu refused all of these offers.[19]


The reasons why ‘Uthman told the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma not to fight

From the reports of the turmoil, researchers have found five reasons for that, which are:

1. Following the advice of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which he told him in secret and which ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu announced on the day of the siege, which is a promise that he made to him, that he would bear it with patience.[20]


2. ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu words:


I will never be the first of the successors of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to shed blood among his ummah. He did not want to be the first of the successors of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to shed the blood of the Muslims.[21]


3. He knew that the rebels were not after anyone else, and he did not want to use the believers as a shield to protect himself, rather he wanted to be a shield to protect them.[22]


4. He knew that this turmoil would involve him being killed, from what the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had told him when he gave him the glad tidings of Paradise for a calamity that would befall him, and that he would be killed when adhering patiently to the truth. The evidence indicated that the time for that had come, and that was supported by a dream which he saw the night before he was killed, in which he saw the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he said to him:

Break your fast with us tomorrow.

from that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu understood that the time of his martyrdom was at hand.


5. Acting on the advice of Ibn Salam radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said to him:

Refrain from fighting, for that will give you a stronger position against them (on the Day of Resurrection).[23]

Nabi’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam foretelling that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu would be killed was fulfilled, as it was narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn Hawalah[24] radiya Llahu ‘anhu that Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

Whoever is saved from three is indeed saved – three times – : my death, the Dajjal and the murder of a Khalifah who is killed adhering to the truth and fulfilling his duty.[25]


From the above we can see how calm ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in his thinking, for the severity of the calamity did not prevent him from thinking clearly and taking the right decisions. So many reasons came together to make him take a peaceful position with regard to fighting those who had rebelled against him. Undoubtedly, he was in the right in all his stances that he took, because it was narrated in sound reports that Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had referred to this turmoil, and had testified that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his companions would be in the right.[26] Ibn Taymiyyah said:


It is known through mutawatir reports that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was among the most careful of people to avoid bloodshed and among the most patient towards those who impugned his honour and those who plotted to shed his blood, so they besieged him and sought to kill him. He knew of their intention to kill him, and the Muslims came to defend him and advised him to fight them, but he told the people to refrain from fighting and ordered those who should obey him not to fight them. It was said to him: “Will you go to Makkah?” And he said: “I will not be one of those who cause the sanctuary to be violated.” It was said to him: “Will you go to Syria?” He said: “I will not leave the land to which I migrated.” It was said to him: “Then fight them,” but he said: “I will not be the first of the successors of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to rule his ummah by the sword.” The patience that ‘Uthman showed until he was killed is among the greatest of his virtues in the eyes of the Muslims.[27]


NEXT⇒ The attitude of the Mothers of the Believers and some of the female Sahabiyat regarding the murder of ‘Uthman

[1]Tarikh al Tabari 5/402

[2]Al Tabaqat by Ibn Sa’d, 3/75; Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/172

[3]Al Tabaqat, 3/75. The report is hassan because of corroborating evidence. Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/175

[4]Tarikh Dimashq, p. 403

[5]  Abu Habibah was the freed slave of Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam who narrated from Zubair and met Abu Hurairah when ‘Uthman was being besieged.

[6]Fada’il al Sahabah, 1/511,512. Its isnad is sahih.

[7]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/211

[8]Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, 3/70. Its isnad is sahih.

[9]  Op. cit., 3/70; Tarikh Ibn Khayyat, p. 173

[10]Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, 3/70; its isnad going back to ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair is sahih.

[11]Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, 3/70; Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/162

[12]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 11162

[13]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 11162; Al Musannaf by Ibn Abi Shaibah, 152/224

[14]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/163

[15]Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, p. 164

[16]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/165

[17]Tarikh Dimashq by Ibn ‘Asakir, Tarjamat ‘Uthman, p. 395

[18] Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/166

[19]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/166

[20]Fada’il al Sahabah, 1/605; its isnad is sahih.

[21]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/167; al Musnad, (1/396), Ahmed Shakir.

[22]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman; there is some weakness in the report.

[23]Al Tabaqat, 3/71; its isnad is hassan.

[24]Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/168; its isnad is hassan or sahih.

[25]Musnad Ahmed, 4/106, no. 16973.

[26] Fitnat Maqtal ‘Uthman, 1/168;

[27]Minhaj al Sunnah 3/202,203