The Scribe Office

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The Scribe Office

It is documented in history books that Marwan ibn al Hakam was the scribe of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[1]

Keeping in mind the various offices of that era, the scribe was nothing more than a writer and clerk. The critics enlarged this small office by presenting personal details of it and blew it totally out of proportion. They equated it to the office of the secretary general of the entire ‘Uthmani dominion with supremacy over the length and breadth of his kingdom.

This is nothing but a small phenomenon of the ‘blessed’ pen of the critics and this is the product of their expertise in speech. Otherwise, what relation does an ordinary scribe have with occupying the post of the secretary general of an entire state?


جو چاہے آپ کا حسن کرشمہ ساز کرے

If he wills, he will make you fortunate.


a. In this regard, the readers should be wary of the fact that Marwan ibn al Hakam was not always the scribe during the ‘Uthmani era. In fact, he was appointed governor over Bahrain for a certain period of time. Khalifah ibn Khayyat has documented this in the following words:


و من ولاته عليها مروان بن الحكم

Marwan ibn al Hakam was among his governors over Bahrain.[2]


b. The second point is that Marwan sometimes participated in Islamic wars. Accordingly, al Baladhuri has recorded in the events of the battle of Africa that while ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh prepared for the battle of Africa, Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu mobilised a huge army as reinforcements from Madinah and sent them. Among them were Ma’bad ibn al ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib al Hashimi, Marwan ibn al Hakam, ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, and many others. He writes:


و أمده بجيش عظيم فيه معبد بن العباس بن عبد المطلب و مروان بن الحكم بن أبي العاص إلخ

He reinforced him with a massive army among whom were Ma’bad ibn al ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib and Marwan ibn al Hakam ibn Abi al ‘As.[3]


In a similar manner, Ibn ‘Adhari al Marakishi has recorded in the beginning of his book al Bayan al Mughrib fi Akhbar al Maghrib:


خرج جيش المسلمين إلى فتح أفريقية و في الجيش مروان بن الحكم

The Muslim army left to conquer Africa. In their ranks was Marwan ibn al Hakam.[4]


It is learnt from these historical reports that Marwan ibn al Hakam did not serve as a scribe throughout the ‘Uthmani era, forget him being the secretary general over the entire ‘Uthmani state.

Hereafter, this query is worth considering that the person appointed as the scribe of the Caliphate of the Muslims, does he become the secretary general of the Islamic state by default? This is not a fundamental of politics. To solve this problem, keep the following incidents in front of you and ponder over them:

For example, Sayyidina ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu served as a scribe during the era of Sayyidina Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


و كان عثمان بن عفان كاتبا لأبي بكر الصديق

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan was a scribe for Abu Bakr al Siddiq.[5]


Sayyidina Zaid ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu as well as Mu’ayqib were scribes in the era of Sayyidina ‘Umar al Faruq radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


و كاتب عمر زيد بن ثاتب و قد كتب له معيقيب إلخ

‘Umar’s scribe was Zaid ibn Thabit. Mu’ayqib also served as his scribe.[6]


What we are trying to point out is that the scribes of these Khalifas were not considered the secretary generals of the state, so why is an effort being made to depict Sayyidina ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu scribe as the secretary general of the entire state?



While discussing the office of al katib (the scribe), it is necessary to learn about a historical definition. Well after the era of the honourable Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, in the days of the ‘Abbasi Khalifas and others, there was an office by the Khalifah known as al katib. An individual proficient in knowledge and language and acquainted with current news and situations was chosen for this task.

This individual would take care of all intellectual, linguistic, and presentational needs of the Khalifah. All the written and verbal requirements of the state was managed by this person. However, the person given this position had no say in the affairs or views of state.

This special office of al katib was never ever found during the days of the ‘Uthmani Caliphate. The scribe that would do work for the Khalifah during the eras of the Rightly Guided Khalifas, we have explained his position in the Siddiqi and Faruqi sections previously. He was nothing more than this. This was the very position held by Marwan in the court of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

The critics have used the identical word al katib in their attempt to hoodwink the public and depict an ordinary scribe of the ‘Uthmani era as the secretary general over the entire state, together with placing all the choices of the ‘Uthmani Caliphate in his hands, which is completely incorrect and deceitful.

Hopefully, the lovers of justice will solve the issue of this office themselves after studying these points.

Some aspects regarding Marwan ibn al Hakam will be added in the second discussion, with Allah’s help.


NEXT⇒ A Narration of Imam al Bukhari with regards to Dismissal and Appointment

[1] Tarikh Khalifah Ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 157, the ‘Uthmani governors, Iraq print.

[2] Tarikh Khalifah Ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 159, the names of ‘Uthman’s governors.

[3] Futuh al Buldan, pg. 234, the conquest of Africa, Egypt print.

[4] Kitab al Bayan al Mughrib fi Akhbar al Maghrib, pg. 3, the conquest of Africa, Beirut print.

[5] Kitab al Muhabbar, pg. 377, names of noble scribes, Dakkan print.

[6] Tarikh Khalifah Ibn Khayyat, vol. 1 pg. 130, the names of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab’s offices, his scribes, confidant, and treasurer, Iraq print.

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