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Let us look at what these rebels have done so far:
There are numerous incidents which point to the fact that the killers of ‘Uthman were the rebels, and the killers of ‘Ali also the same. Thus, according to the words of the hadith, if they are proven to also be the killers of ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, then there is no sort of proof, not aqli (rational), nor naqli (traditional) or even nafsi (psychological), which could prove them otherwise.
Seriously ponder over this for a while, we have a strong indicator to the fact that they killed ‘Ammar. When according to the Shia scholar, Jafar Hussain, the Battle of Siffin was dragging on such that some tired and stopped fighting, and were searching for a strategy to end the battle and still be able to claim victory. Thus, they conceived to kill ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and then mourn his death. The blame would then fall squarely on the shoulders of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, thus the label of rebel would shift to him, since the hadith, which was known to all and sundry, mentions that ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu will be killed by a group of rebels.
Our respected Ustadh, Sheikh al Hadeeth Molana Sarfaraz khan, mentioned a few pertinent points regarding this hadith of Bukhari:
This is the actual answer and explanation of this hadith.
However, if those who believe and regard historical narration to be as authentic as the Qurʼan, insist that it was the army of Muawiyah who killed ‘Ammar, than let them regard this as Sabab al Qatal (indirect killing or becoming the means of the killing), just as a person who gives false testimony or when a judge is bribed and this results in the accused being killed. Although the Sahabah who were part of Muawiyah’s army never intended to kill ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, it was the plot of the ignorant Sabaʼiyyah, who accused ‘Ammar of being one of the instigators against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and thus were responsible for his killing. The actual people responsible for the killing are the ones who brought him there (like the false witness or the judge who accepted the bribe).
Nevertheless, (the reason why it is impossible for the Sahabah to have killed ‘Ammar is) because the quality which was negated from the Sahabah and they were declared free of is the same quality which was established for and attributed to the rebels. If we were to assume that ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed by a pile of stones falling on him, then too we would not attribute his dying to the stones, rather to the one who brought and piled up the stones. So since the rebels brought ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to the battlefield and it was they who accused him of being the killer of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu; they will be classified as his killers. This was mentioned by Mu’awiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu also when he said: “The killers of ‘Ammar are the ones who brought him here, not us.” Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu might have responded spontaneously saying: “In that case the killers of Hamzah were the Muslims and not the disbelievers.” However, the difference between Uhud and Siffin is that in Uhud seven hundred true sincere Muslims stood against the kuffar, after the leader of the munafiqin, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salul, returned with three hundred of his followers, leaving only the faithful and sincere alongside Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. On the other hand, in the Battle of Siffin there is consensus that the hypocrites and rebels had sought refuge in the army of ‘Ali, and thus the act of killing ‘Ammar will be attributed to them, directly or indirectly.
The one who falsely accused ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu of being one of the killers of ‘Uthman was Shabath ibn Rab’i. This is what Hafiz ibn Hajar rahimahu Llah has said regarding this murderer of ‘Uthman and ‘Ammar, who kept changing his alliance and loyalty:
Shabath ibn Rab’i al Tamimi al Kufi was a mukhadram (he was born in the pre-Islamic era but only embraced Islam after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He was the mu’adhin of Sajjah (the lady imposter who claimed nubuwwah after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He then accepted Islam and went on to assist in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Thereafter he joined the ranks of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu (on the occasion of Siffin he came as an envoy to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and claimed that ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one of the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu) and then joined the Khawarij. He then repented, and would be among those who invited Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu (to Kufah) but joined the army that fought and killed him. Subsequently, he joined Mukhtar al Thaqafi and fought to avenge the death of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was appointed as a police officer in Kufah and later assisted in the killing of Mukhtar al Thaqafi. He eventually died in Kufah in 80 A.H.
It is very sad to note that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Ahlul Bayt would always have such supporters who seemed outspoken and brave but were truly hypocrites and mischief mongers. They might have apparently appeared to be supporters of the Ahlul Bayt but it was under this guise that they carried out their heinous crimes of massacring Muslims.
Sayyidina ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was never the killer of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and neither did he assist the rebels in any way. In the year 35 A.H. – the year in which ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred – he sent his special and most trustworthy companions to various parts of the Islamic world, to investigate the allegations made against his governors and the activities of the Sabaʼiyyah movement. ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was sent to Egypt, which was the headquarters of ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ. All others returned with a detailed report of what was transpiring, except for ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu who was held back by the Sabaʼiyyah. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu wrote to the governor of Egypt, ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh, enquiring the reason for ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu not returning with his report. The governor wrote back informing him that the Egyptians have put pressure on him and have surrounded him. Amongst them were ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ, Khalid ibn Muljim (the brother of the one who killed ‘Ali), Sowdan ibn Hamdan, Kinanah ibn Bishr (all historical narrations are unanimous on the fact that they were the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Kinanah was extremely brave and was a general of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu army. He had killed many Syrians in the battle for Egypt. Finally, Muawiyah ibn Khadij gained the upper hand in the battle and killed him. Muawiyah ibn Khadij was also responsible for the execution of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh, the governor of Egypt, continued: “They are trying to influence ‘Ammar to accept their views. They believe that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will return to the world. They are also trying to influence ‘Ammar to disassociate himself from ‘Uthman. They also claim that the people of Madinah have the same beliefs as them.”
The governor of Egypt enquired from ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu whether he should execute these Sabaʼiyyah heretics but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied that he should not kill them, Allah Ta’ala will deal with them. Thus, it was these kuffar masquerading as Muslims who took undue advantage of the gentle nature, nobility and modesty of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, and created dissension in the ummah. It was they who drove a wedge into this ummah which led to such senseless loss of life.
We come to know from the above narration that it was these very Sabaʼiyyah who took advantage of ‘Ammar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu old age and held him back. They even invited him to rebel against and kill ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu; in other words: “They were inviting him to Jahannam.” Despite the temptation of their speech, the likes of which is described in the Qurʼan:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ یُّعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهفِی الْحَیٰوةِ الدُّنْیَا وَ یُشْهِدُ اللّٰهَ عَلٰی مَا فِیْ قَلْبِهٖ وَهُوَ اَلَدُّ الْخِصَامِ
There are some whose speech captivates you in this worldly life, and he even makes Allah a witness to (the truth of) what is in his heart, whereas he is the greatest mischief-monger.
Sayyidina ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not accept their beliefs, which contradicts the fundamental tenets of iman, neither did he join them in their sinister activities. In fact, ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu admonished them for what they were doing and after the ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred, he rebuked them and in so doing “‘Ammar invited them to Jannat.”
Sayyidina ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu would say to those who rebelled against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “We had pledged allegiance to ‘Uthman and we were pleased with him. Why did you people then kill him?”
We terminate this booklet with mention of the ‘aqaʼid (beliefs) of a Muslim and the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah believe that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the fourth rightful khalifah and the Amir al Muʼminin. The majority of the Sahabah and Tabi’in of Madinah Munawwarah pledged allegiance to him, just as they had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. This was also the proof that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu presented to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as proof for the legitimacy of his Caliphate.‘
There are innumerable ahadith mentioning the virtues of ‘Ali, hereunder we make mention of but a few:
In light of the many narrations regarding the virtues and merits of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, it is impossible for any Muslim to harbour hatred or malice for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu or to reject his Caliphate. During his lifetime, not a single person claimed to have a greater right to the Caliphate, neither did anybody reject his worthiness of it. Even a staunch extremist Shia like Baqir al Majlisi has written: “Even Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu acknowledged the virtues of ‘Ali. All he desired was for ‘Ali to retain him as the governor of Syria, and he would pledge allegiance to him.”
If you were to ask: “What is this painful heart rendering historical account you have presented before us?” My response is: “This is actually an explanation of the statement of ‘Ali, “They (the rebels) control us but we do not control them.” In other words, they are enforcing their policies through us, but we cannot get them to do what we want. This explanation could never be given by the Sabaʼiyyah commentators of Nahj al Balaghah . While we Muslims, out of respect for the Sahabah, remained silent regarding their disputes, these hypocrites, under the guise of taqiyyah (dissimulation) were painting a dark image of the Sahabah and Tabi’in being the rebels.
They were the very same people who conspired with the Tatars in the seventh century to destroy Baghdad. They attacked Egypt and misled the Muslims with deviant rituals and practices of polytheism and innovation, to such an extent that its stench even crept into some books of belief and fiqh. There are abundant proofs for the nobility and piety of the Sahabah, which also prove that not one amongst them was fasiq (a flagrant transgressor). The following verse applies to each one of them:
رضي الله هنهم و رضوا عنه و اعد لهم جنات
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens of Jannat…
We will not deride or degrade any of them; rather we will mention only their virtue and nobility. Imam al Bukhari rahimahu Llah said:
Whoever finds fault and criticises Muawiyah and ‘Amr ibn al ’As (as well as Talhah, Zubair, ‘Aisha and Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, who are superior than them in rank), his heart is sick and he is classified as a Rafidi.
It was the Sabaʼiyyah who forced the hand ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu at every juncture, and separated from him when he attempted to reconcile and end the fighting by accepting the arbitration. It was there insistence that prompted him to leave Madinah and confront Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, it was they who urged him to march on the Syrians, thus leaving the ummah in disarray within a short period of eight months, wherein it was only Muslim lives that were lost. This was the ‘fruit’ which these Saba’i conspirators were able to yield. O My fellow Muslims! Regard ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be absolved from all of this and his hands unstained by the blood that was spilt.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu regarded those who were demanding the qisas of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be excused and would say: “O people! Do not speak evil of them. We thought they were wrong and they thought we were wrong.”
In the end, we all desire that our mistakes should be forgiven…
وَ الَّذِیْنَ جَآءُوْ مِنْۢ بَعْدِهِمْ یَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْلَنَا وَ لِاِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِیْنَ سَبَقُوْنَا بِالْاِیْمَانِ وَ لَا تَجْعَلْ فِیْ قُلُوْبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا رَبَّنَآ اِنَّكَ رَءُوْفٌ رَّحِیْمٌ
And for those who came after them, saying: “O our Rabb, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts (any) resentment toward those who have believed. O our Rabb, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.”
وصلى الله على حبيبه محمد وآله و اصحابه و الخلفاء الراشدين اجمعين
Kanz al ’Ummal vol. 11 pg. 725
Mustadrak vol. 3 pg. 378
Adapted from the booklet: Some important discussions regarding certain chapters of Bukhari pg. 7, 8
 Tarikh al Tabri vol. 4 pg. 29
 Tarikh al Tabri vol. 4 pg. 13
 Taqrib al Tahdhib vol. 1 pg. 411
 Tarikh Dimashq of Ibn al=‘Asakir vol. 7 pg. 433
 Tarikh al Islam – Nadwi vol. 2 pg. 233
 Nahj al Balaghah
 Haqq al Yaqin
 Nahj al Balaghah, Tarikh al Tabri vol. 3 pg. 458
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 139