The historians talk a great deal about ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu alleged favouritism (or nepotism) towards his relatives and say that they held the reins of power during his khilafah, to such an extent that they provoked many people against him and they revolted in protest at his giving power to his relatives. Dr. `Ali al Sallabi has examined this false allegation leveled against Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and illustrates the shallowness of this claim.
Who were the governors of ‘Uthman?
The relatives of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu whom he appointed to positions of authority were:
- Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh
- Al Walid ibn ‘Uqbah
- Sa’id ibn al ‘As
- Abdullah ibn ‘Amir
These five whom ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed as governors were related to him, and according to their claims this is a cause for criticism. Let us look first at the names of all the governors of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They were:
- Abu Musa al Ash’ari
- Al Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr
- Jabir al Muzani
- Habib ibn Maslamah
- ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Khalid ibn al Walid
- Abu al A’war al Sulami
- Hakim ibn Salamah
- Al Ash’ath ibn Qais
- Jarir ibn Abdullah al Bajali
- ‘Uyaynah ibn al Nahhas
- Malik ibn Habib
- Nasir al ‘Ajali
- Sa’ib ibn al Aqra’
- Sa’id ibn Qais
- Salman ibn Rabi’ah
- Khunays ibn Hubaysh
- Ahnaf ibn Qais
- ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Rabi’ah
- Ya’la ibn Munayyah
- Abdullah ibn ‘Amr al Hadrami
- ‘Ali ibn Rabi’ah ibn ‘Abdul ‘Uzza
These were all the governors of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and if we examine this list statistically, we will find that there were sixteen governors [appointed at one time]. Would it not be reasonable to suggest that five men from Banu Umayyah were qualified to be governors, especially since we know that Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to appoint men from Banu Umayyah to do work for the state more than men from other tribes? Moreover, these governors were not all appointed at the same time, rather ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed Walid ibn ‘Uqbah, then he dismissed him and appointed Sa’id ibn al ‘As in his stead, so it was not the case that all five were appointed at the same time. Before ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu died, he dismissed Sa’id ibn al ‘As too and when ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu died there were only three governors who were from Banu Umayyah: Muawiyah, Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh and ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amir ibn Kurayz. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu dismissed Walid ibn ‘Uqbah and Sa’id ibn al ‘As, but from which province did he dismiss them? From Kufah, from which ‘Umar had dismissed Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Kufah which never approved of any governor. The fact that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu dismissed these governors does not reflect any criticism of them, rather it is a criticism of the city over which they had been appointed.
Banu Umayyah were employed by the Rasul of Allah during his lifetime, and subsequently by those who cannot be accused of favouring them because of blood-ties, namely Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. We do not know of any tribe of Quraysh that had more people employed by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than Banu ‘Abd Shams, because they were numerous and they were known to be people of leadership quality and status. The Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam employed ‘Itab ibn Usayd ibn Abi al ‘As as governor of Makkah, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb over Najran, Khalid ibn Sa’id in charge of the zakat of Banu Madhjah, and Aban ibn Sa’id in charge of some campaigns then as governor of Bahrain. So ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu only appointed people of the same nature and clan as Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did and as Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma did after him. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan in charge of the conquests in Syria, and ‘Umar left him in that post, then after Yazid died he appointed his brother Muawiyah.
The question that arises here is: did they prove that they were suited to the job or not? We will see below the testimony of the scholars about these governors who were appointed by ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
‘Uthman was a Rightly Guided Khalifah whose example is to be followed, and his actions are a precedent that may be used as guidelines for the ummah. Just as ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu set a precedent for the khulafa’ who came after him to refrain from appointing relatives in the running of affairs, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu set a precedent for the khulafa’ who came after him to appoint relatives if they are qualified. The one who studies the life of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu will have no doubt that they were all qualified administrators, and whatever ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu is criticised for is in fact within the limits of permissibility.
The governors whom ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed from among his relatives are proven to have been qualified and capable in running the affairs of their provinces. Allah granted many conquests at their hands, and they treated the people justly and kindly. Some of them had been appointed as governors previously, during the reigns of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Let us look at what the scholars have to say about these governors.
Mu‘awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan ibn Harb al Umawi
The biographers state that this noble Sahabi had many good qualities, of which we will mention a few:
Praise for Muawiyah in the Holy Qur‘an
Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu took part in the campaign of Hunayn, and Allah says:
ثُمَّ اَنْزَلَ اللّٰهُ سَکِیْنَتَهُ عَلٰی رَسُوْلِهٖ وَعَلَی الْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ وَاَنْزَلَ جُنُوْدًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا وَعذَّبَ الَّذِیْنَ کَفَرُوْاؕ وَ ذٰلِكَ جَزَآءُ الْکٰفِرِیْنَ
Then Allah did sent down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquillity and reassurance) on the Rasul (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers.
Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one of those who were present at the Battle of Hunayn, so he was one of the believers upon whom Allah sent down his Sakinah, along with Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Praise from the Sunnah
Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam prayed for Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, such as when he said:
And he said:
O Allah, teach Muawiyah literacy and numeracy, and protect him from punishment.
And the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
The first army of my ummah that will campaign by sea, Paradise will be their due.” Umm Haram said that she asked: “O Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, will I be among them?” He said: “You will be among them.” Then Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “The first army of my ummah to attack the city of Caesar will be forgiven.” I – meaning Umm Haram – asked: “Will I be among them, O Rasul of Allah?” He said: “No.”
This hadith is praising Muawiyah, because he was the first one to lead a campaign by sea.
Scholars’ praise for Muawiyah
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Praise from Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas
It was said to Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
Can you speak to the Amir al Mu’minin Muawiyah, because he prays Witr with only one rak’ah? He said: “He is a faqih.”
There is not enough room to mention all the fiqhi issues that were narrated from Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but here follows a few of them:
- It was narrated that he prayed Witr with one rak’ah.
- It was narrated that he prayed for rain (istisqa’) by virtue of someone who appeared to be righteous.
- Half a sa’ of wheat is sufficient as zakat al fitr.
- It is mustahab to perfume the body when wanting to enter ihram.
- It is permissible to buy and sell the houses of Makkah.
- A husband and wife may be separated because of impotence.
- A divorce uttered by a man who is drunk counts as such.
- A Muslim should not be killed in retaliation (qisas) for a kafir.
- A killer may be detained until the son of his victim reaches maturity (and can decide what should be done).
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Praise from Abdullah ibn al Mubarak for Muawiyah
Abdullah ibn al Mubarak said:
Muawiyah is a test for us (i.e., we test people by how they think of Muawiyah). Whoever regards him in a disrespectful manner we would accuse him of being against the Sahabah.
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Praise from Ahmed ibn Hanbal
Imam Ahmed was asked:
What do you say – may Allah have mercy on you – about one who says: I do not say that Muawiyah is the scribe who wrote down the wahi (revelation) and I do not say that he was the maternal uncle of the believers, because he seized power by the sword? Abu Abdullah said: “This is a reprehensible view; the people who hold such a view should be shunned and the people should be warned against them.”
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Praise from al Qadi ibn al ‘Arabi for Muawiyah
Ibn al ‘Arabi spoke of attributes that were combined in Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, among which he mentioned:
Protecting the Muslim ummah in general, guarding the border posts, strengthening the army, prevailing over the enemy, and dealing with people justly and kindly.
Muhibb al Din al Khatib commented on this text by noting:
Muawiyah’s care and concern to protect the ummah from its enemies was so great that he sent word to the king of Byzantium, threatening him, when he was in the midst of fighting with ‘Ali at Siffin, when he heard that the king of Byzantium was approaching the border with a huge army.
Concerning that Ibn Kathir said:
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The king of Byzantium had great hopes of attacking and defeating Muawiyah after having instilled fear in him and humiliating him, and routing his troops. When the king of Byzantium saw that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was preoccupied with fighting ‘Ali, he approached some cities (on the border) with a huge army, filled with hope of victory. But Muawiyah wrote to him saying: “By Allah, if you do not stop and go back to your own land, O cursed one, I shall reconcile with my cousin and we will unite against you, and I shall certainly expel you from all of your land; I shall keep pursuing you, and the earth, vast as it is, will be straitened for you.” At that, the king of Byzantium was afraid, and he sent word seeking a peace treaty.
Praise from Ibn Taymiyah for Muawiyah
Ibn Taymiyah said concerning him:
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It is proven in mutawatir reports that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was appointed to a position of authority by Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as he appointed others, and he fought in jihad with him. Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarded him as honest and trustworthy; he used to write down the wahi for him and he never had any doubts concerning his writing down of the wahi. He was appointed as a governor by ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was one of the best judges of character. Allah caused truth to be uttered on his lips and to fill his heart and he never accused him of anything with regard to his governorship.
Praise from Ibn Kathir
Ibn Kathir said concerning him:
All the Muslims unanimously agreed to swear allegiance to him in 41 A.H, and he remained in charge throughout this period until the year in which he died. Throughout this period jihad was ongoing in the lands of the enemies, and the word of Allah remained supreme, and booty was coming to him from the ends of the earth; the Muslims were at ease, enjoying justice, tolerance and goodwill.
He also said:
He also said:
He was a man of good conduct, forgiving, tolerant and overlooking the mistakes of others, may Allah have mercy on him.
His narration of hadith
Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is regarded as one of those who had the honour of narrating hadith from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the reason being that he stayed close to the Rasul of Allah after the conquest of Makkah, because he was his brother-in-law and his scribe. Muawiyah narrated one hundred and sixty three (163) ahadith from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, four of which were narrated by both al Bukhari and Muslim; al Bukhari alone narrated a further four and Muslim five. Muawiyah’s conduct towards the people during his governorship was among the best of any governor, which made the people love him. It is proven in al Sahih that Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
The best of your leaders – or rulers – are those whom you love and who love you, and you pray for them and they pray for you; the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you, and you curse them and they curse you.
I will conclude my discussion of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu by noting what was said about him by al Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al ‘Arabi:
‘Umar made him the governor of all the provinces of Syria and ‘Uthman approved of his governorship. Indeed, Abu Bakr al Siddiq appointed him because he was the heir of his brother Yazid, and Yazid had appointed him to succeed him. ‘Umar then approved of his position because he had been a governor during Abu Bakr’s reign, as Yazid had passed the position on to Muawiyah, and ‘Uthman approved of and confirmed ‘Umar’s decision. Look at this series of approvals and how strong it is.
It was proven that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed him as a scribe, so he had a track record of working for the Islamic state that no one else, before or after him, had. He was appointed by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and by the three khulafa’ who came after him, and Hassan ibn ‘Ali, the grandson of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made a peace deal with him and approved of his becoming khalifah.
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir ibn Kurayz
His full name was Abdullah ibn ‘Amir ibn Kurayz ibn Rabi’ah ibn ‘Abd Shams ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Qusay al Qurashi al ‘Abshami. He was born at the time of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in 4 A.H. When Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam performed ‘umrah in 7 A.H to make up for the ‘umrah that he had not been able to complete previously, he entered Makkah and Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was brought to him. Ibn Hajar said:
He smacked his lips and yawned, and the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spat into his mouth and said: “Is this the son of the Sulami woman?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “He looks like us.” He spat into his mouth and sought refuge with Allah for him, and the child swallowed the saliva of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He said: “He will be a finder of water.”, and he did not dig in any land but water appeared to him.
Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was not appointed to any administrative or military post until he became governor of Basrah in 29 A.H/649 CE. He was the nephew (son of maternal uncle) of the khalifah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, because the mother of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was Arwa bint Kurayz ibn Rabi‘ah, and the mother of Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was from Banu Sulaim.
When he was appointed governor of Basrah, he was twenty four or twenty-five years old. He remained governor of Basrah until the khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed, when he gathered a huge army and took whatever wealth he had with him, and marched to Makkah where he joined Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Then he came back to Basrah and was present at the Battle of the Camel, but he was not present at the battle of Siffin, even though al Qalqashandi said that he was on Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu side in the arbitration at Siffin.During the khilafah of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu he was appointed as governor of Basrah for three years, then he was dismissed. He settled in Madinah, and died there in 57 A.H.
According to a report narrated by Ibn Qutaybah, he died in Makkah and was buried in ‘Arafah in 59 A.H. Ibn Sa’d praised him, saying:
Abdullah was noble and generous; he had a lot of wealth and children and he loved development.
Ibn Hajar said concerning him:
Abdullah ibn ‘Amir left his mark during the conquests; he managed to dash the hopes of the Persians completely, when he demolished the last hopes of ancient Persian aspirations. That was when he finished off the last of their kings, Yazdagird ibn Shahriyan ibn Kisra and Kharazad Mahr the brother of Rustam, who led the Persian opposition against the Muslims.
In addition to his genius in military matters, Abdullah ibn ‘Amir also took an interest in Islamic knowledge. It is narrated that he narrated a hadith from Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Ibn Qutaybah said: He only narrated one hadith from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam , but it was not narrated in any of the six books. As for the hadith which he narrated, it was narrated by Ibn Qani’ and Ibn Munduh via Mus’ab al Zubairi: My father narrated to me from my grandfather Mus’ab ibn Thabit, from Hanzalah ibn Qais, from Abdullah ibn Zubair and Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Whoever is killed defending his wealth is a martyr.
His economic developments in Basrah
A number of economic developments in Basrah are connected to the name of Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, and they are no less important than his brilliant military achievements that are represented in his numerous victories over the Magians, his pursuit of their remnants and his destruction of all Yazdagird’s hopes. His economic reforms are represented in his concern about the market of Basrah, as he bought (the land for) this marketplace with his own wealth and gave it to the people of the city.
The market was in the middle of Basrah, based on the evidence mentioned by Khalifah ibn Khayyat that the market stood on the banks of the river which is in the middle of Basrah. This was an excellent choice, because it made the market an important centre in the middle of the city.
Perhaps the most important of his developments in Basrah was in the field of irrigation, as Ibn ‘Amir was deeply concerned with this issue. Ibn Qutaybah stated that Ibn ‘Amir dug two channels in Basrah, one in the east and another that was known as Umm Abdullah and was named after the mother of Abdullah ibn ‘Amir.Abdullah ibn ‘Amir ordered Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan to dig a channel in Abillah, as Ziyad had been appointed in charge of the diwan and the bayt al mal by Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, and he would leave him in charge of Basrah in his stead when he went out on conquests.
Khalifah ibn Khayyat stated that Ziyad dug the channel in Abillah until it reached the foot of the mountain, and the one who dug it for Ziyad was ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Bakrah. When the water began to flow, ‘Abdul Rahman spurred on his horse (racing the water) until the water nearly beat him. Abdullah ibn ‘Amir also dug a cistern that was named after his mother, which was the cistern of Umm Abdullah ibn ‘Amir in Basrah. Al Baladhuri mentioned that Abdullah ibn ‘Amir dug a channel and he appointed his freed slave Nafidh to dig it, so it was named after him and became known as Nahr Nafidh (the channel of Nafidh).
There was also the channel of Murrah, which Ibn ‘Amir ordered Murrah, the freed slave of Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhu to dig, so it was named after him And there was the channel of al Asawirah which Abdullah ibn ‘Amir dug for them. Al Baladhuri mentions the bridge of Qurrah in Basrah, and said: The bridge of Qurrah was named after Qurrah ibn Hayyan al Bahili. There was an ancient channel there, and then it was bought by the mother of Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, who gave it in charity as a source of water for the people of Basrah.
From the above it is clear that Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was concerned with digging channels so that agriculture, which is the foundation of economic life, would flourish, in addition to Basrah’s strategic location with regard to trade routes and its military importance as a base for the Islamic conquests in the east. We may note how keen Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was to implement reforms from his words: If I had the opportunity, I would develop the land to such an extent that a woman could go out on her mount, coming to water and a market every day until she reached Makkah.
In fact, his developments were no less important than the conquests that he achieved in the east. Basrah was the khilafah’s military base in its conquests of the east. Dr. Salih al ‘Ali noted that the widespread conquests led to an increase in income for Basrah and the spread of economic prosperity in the city, which encouraged merchants and businessmen to flock there, thus civil life developed quickly in Basrah.
The financial situation in the province of Basrah was in very good shape as the result of the far-reaching conquests in the east, plus the economic and trade activity in Basrah and its stability and security. Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was a humble man whose door was open to all people, to such an extent that he rebuked his gatekeeper and told him not to lock the gate by night or by day. In fact, Ibn ‘Amir became very well known in Basrah. Ibn Sa’d said:
Ibn ‘Amir remained governor of Basrah until the khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was murdered.
Abdullah ibn ‘Amir was one of the governors of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He is the one who dug the channels of Basrah, and was the first one to build cisterns in ‘Arafat and bring water to them. He is the man who did so many good deeds and was so loved by the people that no one can deny it, as Ibn Taymiyah said.
Al Dhahabi said concerning him:
He was one of the great Arab leaders and one of the most courageous and generous, and he was kind and forbearing.
Walid ibn ‘Uqbah
His full name was Walid ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’it ibn Abi ‘Amr ibn Umayyah ibn ‘Abd Shams ibn ‘Abd Manaf, the amir Abu Wahb aI-Umawi. He was a companion of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but not for long. He was the half-brother of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu through his mother.
Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one of the men employed by the Islamic state at the time of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, who chose trustworthy and qualified men to work for the state. That was one of the main causes for the rapid and large-scale spread of Islam during their reigns. He was regarded as trusted and reliable by both of these two khulafa’, one of those to whom important tasks could be entrusted, because they saw that he was qualified and that his faith was sincere.
The first task he undertook during the khilafah of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was when he was entrusted with secrets in the exchange of correspondence between the khalifah and his commander Khalid ibn al Walid during the battle of al Madhar against the Persians in 12 A.H. Then he sent him with reinforcements to his commander ‘Iyad ibn Ghanam al Fihri. In 13 A.H, Walid was appointed by Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to collect zakat from the tribe of Qada’ah, then when Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu decided to conquer Syria, Walid was equal in his view to ‘Amr ibn al ‘As in respect, trustworthiness and honour. He wrote to ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma calling them to lead the troops in jihad. Ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu marched under the banner of Islam to Palestine, and Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu led his troops to the east of Jordan.
Then in 15 A.H, during the khilafah of ‘Umar, we see Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu serving as governor of the tribe of Banu Taghlib and the Arabs of al Jazirah. During this governorship he guarded the backs of the Mujahidin in Syria lest an attack come from behind. When he was appointed governor of that region which was still full of Christians, Walid took the opportunity as part of his jihad effort and administrative work to call people to Allah using wisdom and beautiful preaching, to encourage the Christians of ‘Iyad and Taghlib to enter Islam.
It is this remarkable past that Walid brought to the khilafah of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, so he appointed him as governor of Kufah and he was one of its best governors, ruling it with justice and kindness. During the period of his governorship of Kufah, his armies would march to the eastern horizons, conquering the land, as was testified in his absence by one of the greatest of Muslim judges that history has ever known in terms of his knowledge, virtue and fairness, the great Tabi’i Imam al Sha’bi.
He praised his military campaigns and his governorship when he said, when the campaigns of Maslamah ibn ‘Abdul Malik were mentioned to him: If only you had seen Walid and his campaigns and his governorship, for he would go out on campaign and reach such and such a place, and he never fell short or was accused of falling short by anyone until he was dismissed from his post.
Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one of the most beloved of people to the people, and one of the kindest to them. For five years there was no gate at his house. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
I did not appoint al Walid because he is my brother, rather I appointed him because he is the son of Umm Hakim al Bayda’, the paternal aunt of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the twin sister of his father. Appointing someone as a governor is done at the discretion of the khalifah. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu dismissed Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas and appointed someone of lesser status in his place.
The one who studies the life of this great Sahabi and hero of Islam who was trusted by these three Rightly Guided Khulafa’ will have no doubt that he was definitely qualified to be a governor. Rather the doubts were stirred up because of what was said concerning the reason for the revelation of a verse in which they alleged that he was described as a fasiq (sinner) and because of the accusation that he was a wine-drinker. These are matters which need further discussion, and we shall examine these two issues here.
Is it proven that the verse “If a fasiq comes to you” was revealed concerning him?
یٰاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْٓا اِنْ جَآءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌۢ بِنَبَاٍ فَتَبَیَّنُوْٓا اَنْ تُصِیْبُوْا قَوْمًاۢ بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوْا عَلٰی مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نٰدِمِیْنَ
O you who believe! If a fasiq comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.
The narrators transmitted a story concerning this verse which says that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Banu al Mustaliq to collect zakat, and he reported that they had apostatised and refused to pay the zakat. That was because they had come out to meet him and he grew alarmed and did not know what they were up to, so he left and reported that they had apostatised. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent Khalid ibn al Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu to them and told him to find out what they were doing. They told him that they were adhering to Islam, and this verse was revealed.
There are numerous reports concerning this but the story has no sound, mowsul (uninterrupted) isnad. The least that can be said about the isnad of this story is that it is da’if (weak). Even if they accept weak isnads with regard to encouraging good deeds that do not make a forbidden thing permissible or make a permissible thing forbidden, we cannot accept a weak isnad in the story of Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu, because that is making a forbidden thing permissible, which is describing a man who was a companion of the Rasul – if only for one day – as an fasiq. How can we accept the weak isnad when the verse itself enjoins establishing proof before accepting reports? This verse forms the foundation for the entire science of collecting and verifying reports.
The story of Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and what they attributed to him cannot be accepted unless it is sound in both isnad and matn (text), because they are describing him as an evildoer, and this is an accusation which cannot be easily accepted even if it is made against an ordinary man in the modern age, fifteen hundred years later, so how can we take these reports lightly if they are accusing a man who lived at the time of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the time of the Rightly Guided Khulafa’, and they entrusted important tasks to him?
This story represents part of the early history of Islam and parts of the story have to do with matters of ‘aqidah. Such reports of Islamic history cannot be taken lightly, as may be the case with reports on civil developments. Moreover, Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one of those who became Muslim after the conquest of Makkah and aspersions are often cast on the Islam of this group. Some historians claim that they became Muslim reluctantly and that faith did not truly enter their hearts. This is a claim that is undoubtedly false. The narrators added things to the story of Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, motivated by political or sectarian whims and desires, and they introduced fabricated material into this story. The narrators competed in proving their ability to fabricate material and demonstrate their talents in the area of fiction.
What undermines the report about Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu being sent to collect the zakat of Banu al Mustaliq and contradicts it is the hadith which has a sound, uninterrupted isnad composed of trustworthy men, which states that at the time of the conquest of Makkah, Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a young man, and Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not have sent a man of his age as an agent. It was narrated from Fayad ibn Muhammad al Raqqi, from Jafar ibn Barqan from Thabit ibn al Hajjaj al Kilabi, from Abdullah al Hamadhani (Abu Musa) that Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam conquered Makkah, the people of Makkah started to bring their children to him and he patted their heads and prayed for them. I was brought to him, and I had been perfumed with khuluq, and he did not pat me on the head, and the only thing that stopped him from doing that was the fact that my mother had perfumed me with khuluq, so he did not touch me because of the khuluq.
This story was taken too far due to sectarian whims and desires. Walid was Umawi, a relative of ‘Uthman. The one who inserted the name of Walid into the story about the reason for the revelation of the verse was a Shia Rafidi by the name of Muhammad ibn al Sa’ib al Kalbi, of whom Ibn Hajar said:
He is regarded as one of the Shi‘ah of Kufah.
Ibn Hajar said:
There were two liars in Kufah, one of whom was al Kalbi, and the other was al Suddi.
He chose him for this story because it had to do with the collection of zakat and Walid collected zakat from the tribe of Quda’ah at the time of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and he collected zakat from the tribe of Taghlib in al Jazirah at the time of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The books of the Shi‘ah criticise ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the basis of the story of Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
We do not deny that the verse was revealed in the context of the story of Banu al Mustaliq, but what we do deny is that Walid is the one who is described as a fasiq in the verse, because the wording: “If a fasiq comes to you” is indefinite, which indicates that it is general in meaning and does not refer to a specific case, because if the indefinite is used in a conditional phrase, it is general in meaning.
The punishment of Walid ibn ‘Uqbah for drinking wine
With regard to the hadd punishment of Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu for drinking wine, it is proven in al Sahihayn that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu punished him thus after the witnesses testified against him. But this is not a reason to pick on ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, rather it is one of the virtues of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he carried out the hadd (punishment) on him and dismissed him from his post in Kufah. Al Bukhari narrated this incident under the chapter heading The Virtues of ‘Uthman.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
When you criticise ‘Uthman, it is like someone who stabs himself in order to kill someone behind him. What fault is it of ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu if he carried out the hadd punishment on a man because of his deeds and dismissed him from his post? What fault is it of ‘Uthman for what he did following our advice?
Moreover, this did not happen only during the reign of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu; there was a precedent at the time of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as it was stated that Qudamah ibn Madh’un, who had met Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, drank alcohol when he was ‘Umar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu governor in Bahrain, and he carried out the hadd on him and dismissed him.
Some historians stated that there was no proof that Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu drank wine. Al Hafiz said in al Isabah:
It was said that some of the people of Kufah ganged up on him and testified against him unlawfully.
This was also referred to by Ibn Khaldun who said:
Rumours – against the agents of ‘Uthman – stirred up by the troublemakers continued to spread, and Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was the governor of Kufah, was accused of drinking wine, and a number of them bore witness against him, so ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu imposed the hadd on him and dismissed him.
Al Tabari narrated some further details:
the sons of Abu Zainab, Abu Muwarra’ and Jundub ibn Zuhayr broke into the house of Ibn al Haysaman and killed him. The Sahabi Abu Shurayh al Khuza’i and his son, who were neighbours of Ibn al Haysaman, testified against them concerning that and Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu executed them in retaliation (qisas). Their fathers took it upon themselves to plot against Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu, so they started to watch his movements. Abu Zubaid the poet came to visit him; he was a (former) Christian, one of his maternal uncles from Banu Taghlib, who had become Muslim at the hands of Walid. The guest was accused of drinking wine, and some of the foolish people started accusing Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu because he was very close to Abu Zubaid.
Thus Abu Zainab and Abu Muwarra’ found their opportunity; they went to Madinah and came to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, testifying that Walid had drunk wine and that they had seen him vomiting the wine. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
He would not have vomited the wine unless he had drunk it.
Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu was brought from Kufah and he swore an oath to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and told him about them, but ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
We will carry out the hadd punishment (enjoined by) Allah and let the one who bears false witness dwell in Hell; be patient, O my brother.
Muhibb al Din al Khatib said:
As for the additional material that is narrated in the report of Muslim, that someone came to Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu when he had prayed fajr with two rak’ahs and he said: “Do you want more?” – and according to some of the reports narrated by Ahmed, he had prayed four rak’ahs – nothing was proven from the testimony of witnesses. These are the words of Hudayn the narrator of the story, but Hudayn was not one of the witnesses and he did not narrate it from any witness or from any known person. He was not in Kufah at the time of the alleged incident and this part of the report carries no weight.
This was ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu governor in Kufah, Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the mujahid and conqueror, the just man who was wronged, who did all he could for the ummah of good works, then he saw with his own eyes how the evildoers mistreat the righteous and how their false accusations affect them. So after the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu he isolated himself from the hustle and bustle of society in a piece of land that had been allocated to him, fifteen miles from the city of al Riqqah in al Jazirah where he had striven in jihad and called people to Islam during the khilafah of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He kept away from all the wars that took place during the times of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma until he died in his land, and was buried there in 61 A.H. And it was said that he died during Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu reign.
Sa‘id ibn al ‘As
His full name was Sa’id ibn al ‘As ibn Umayyah ibn ‘Abd Shams ibn ‘Abd Manaf, al Qurashi al Umawi. Abu Hatim said:
He was a companion of the Rasul and he was governor of Kufah after Walid ibn ‘Uqbah. He was one of the most eloquent men of Quraysh, hence ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu chose him as one of those whom he appointed to write down the Qur‘an. It was narrated that Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “… ‘Uthman ordered Zaid ibn Thabit, Abdullah ibn Zubair, Sa’id ibn al ‘As and ‘Abdul Rahman ibn al Harith ibn Hisham to make copies of it (the manuscript) in Mushafs.”
‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to the three Qurashi men:
If you and Zaid ibn Thabit differ concerning anything in the Qur‘an, write it in the dialect of Quraysh.
The Arabic of the Qur‘an was based on the dialect of Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu, because it was the closest to the speech of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was a companion for seven years. His father was killed as a mushrik at the Battle of Badr by ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Let us read these reports which point to the strength of his faith:
It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “I did not kill your father; rather I killed my maternal uncle al ‘As ibn Hisham.” Sa’id said: “Even if you had killed him, you would have been in the right, and he would have been in the wrong.”
‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was amazed at his response. During the days of his governorship in Kufah, he attacked Tabaristan and conquered it, and he attacked Jarjan; in his army were Hudhayfah and other Sahabah.
He was famous for his kindness and generosity, to such a point that a beggar asked him for something at a time when he did not have anything, but he wrote down what he wanted to give him, and put it in writing. He loved to unite the Muslims and hated fitnah, from which he would flee. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed him governor of Kufah after Walid ibn ‘Uqbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He came to Madinah on one occasion, and when he returned, the troublemakers had rallied their troops and prevented him from entering the city, so he went back and stayed in Madinah. Among those who prevented him from returning to his province were the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but despite that he stayed away from the Battle of the Camel and Siffin, and he urged those who were involved in the Battle of the Camel not to go out and fight.
This was his manner of conduct: generosity, courage, righteousness, jihad, and eloquence that was most akin to the eloquence of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He dictated to Zaid ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu this Mushaf that we still read today. Think about these attributes that are proven in sahih reports, and compare them with the bad qualities that are mentioned in reports that have no basis. Think about those who fabricated and spread those bad reports, and you will realise that they are fabrications, because they combine contradictory qualities in one man: generosity and miserliness, righteousness and evildoing, knowledge and ignorance, going out for jihad and reluctance to go out. It is impossible for these characteristics to be combined in one person. The reporters claim, without any isnad, that when Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu was appointed governor of Kufah after Walid, some of the slaves said in rajaz (rhyming verse):
Woe to us! Walid has been dismissed.
And Sa’id , who is going to starve us, has been appointed.
He will decrease our stipends and not increase them.
This is a fabrication, an undoubtedly made-up story. Because the slaves in 30 A.H – i.e., the prisoners of war who had become slaves – could not speak Arabic well, let alone compose poetry, and because Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu was well known for his generosity and righteousness, and he could not be described as someone who would starve people. If the people and poets praised Walid for his generosity, then Sa’id set an example by his generosity. He was described as a vessel of honey, and al Farazdaq wrote poetry praising the generosity of Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
If the slaves came up with these lines of rajaz verse at the beginning of Sa’id’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu governorship in Kufah, how could they have known his policies or whether he had come to starve the people or give them their fill? What is strange is that the narrators mention this report in a context that contradicts itself, as they said:
‘Uthman appointed Sa’id ibn al ‘As as governor of Kufah and he came to them and was fair to them, but some of the slaves said (these lines of rajaz verse).
How could he be fair and yet be described as causing the slaves to starve? There was an abundance of food with enough for everyone and more, and his fair governorship would ensure that this goodness reached everyone.
May Allah have mercy on the classical historians, for they thought highly of their readers and they compiled contradictory reports in their books, thinking that their readers throughout the ages would be able to distinguish the sound reports from the suspect ones. Their excuse was that they were writing for the people of their own era, and they did not realise that the coming centuries would be filled with people who would not be able to distinguish between reports.
In his biography of Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Ibn Sa’d narrated without an isnad: They said:
When Sa’id came to Kufah as a governor, he came as a young man who had lived a life of luxury and had no prior experience. He said: “I will not ascend the mimbar until it has been purified,” and he issued orders that it be washed. Then he said from the mimbar: “All of this Sawad is a garden belonging to some young men of Quraysh,” and they complained to ‘Uthman.
This report is not sound because it has no isnad, and because Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who led armies of jihad and conquest, was not as they described. Moreover, Ibn Sa’d narrated this alleged statement of Sa’id from Ashtar Malik ibn al Harith when he prevented Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu from entering Kufah after many years of his being its governor, when Ashtar said:
This Sa’id ibn al ‘As had come to you claiming that this sawad is a garden belonging to some young men of Quraysh, but al Sawad is the place where you were born the place where you settled and the place where you and your fathers acquired fay’ (booty).
Malik ibn al Harith, who was known as Ashtar, was a man of fitnah. He was one of the leaders of the rebels who besieged ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and killed him. It is no wonder that these people fabricated words to stir up hatred. Even if these words were uttered, those who said them were those who rebelled against the khilafah, because they understood it in this negative manner because the governors in Iraq – especially Kufah – were all from Quraysh, and tribalism is obvious in these words.
Imam al Dhahabi said concerning him:
He was a noble and generous governor, praiseworthy, forbearing, dignified, decisive and wise, a man who was fit to be a governor.
As for the rebels and those who criticised ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu for appointing Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu as governor of Kufah and claimed that he behaved in such a way that it led the people of Kufah to expel him, the mere fact that the people of Kufah expelled him is not indicative of any fault that would justify such an action. The one who knows anything about Kufah and its ways will be aware of its constant complaints against its governors with no shar’i justification, complaints that were made for the silliest reasons.
‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu said of them:
I am very tired and no longer know what to do with the people of Kufah; they are not pleased with anyone and no one is pleased with them; they are not good to any governor and no governor could be good for them.
According to another report he said:
I am tired of the people of Kufah. If I appoint a lenient man over them they will take advantage of him, and if I appoint a strict man over them they will complain about him.
In fact, he prayed against them and said:
O Allah, they have made me confused so make them confused.
Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a wise man who said:
My visitor has three rights over me: when he comes in, I should welcome him; when he sits down I should make room for him; and when he speaks I should listen to him.
And he said to his son:
O my son, do favours for the sake of Allah, if you initiate it without being asked, but if a man comes to you blushing or one who is uncertain comes to you, not knowing if you will give him anything or not, by Allah, even if you gave him all of your wealth, you would not be able to suffice him.
And he also said:
O my son, do not joke with a noble man lest it cause him to despise you, or with an ignoble man lest it cause him to lose respect for you.
One day a righteous woman entered upon him when he was the governor of Kufah, and he showed her respect and treated her kindly. She said:
May Allah cause you never to need any ignoble man, for a noble man always remembers the favours of others, and if a blessing is taken away from a noble man, may He make you the cause of it being restored to him.
When Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu was dying, his sons gathered and he said to them:
Let my companions not miss anything except my presence, and uphold ties with them as I used to do. Keep giving them what I used to give them, and give them enough so that they have no need to ask from others, for when a man needs something he will be in a state of anxiety and will tremble for fear that his request may be rejected. By Allah if a man is tossing and turning in his bed, thinking of you as the one who could fulfil his need, that is a greater favour to you than what you give him (i.e. he is doing you the greater favour by thinking positively of you).
Then he gave them a great deal of other advice. He died in 58 A.H, or it was said that he died in 57 A.H or 59 A.H.
‘Abdullah ibn Sa‘d ibn Abi al Sarh
When mentioning the name of Abdullah ibn Abi al Sarh radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointing him as governor of Egypt, the historians usually say:
Uthman appointed as governor of Egypt Abdullah ibn Abi al Sarh, his brother through breastfeeding.
What is meant by the phrase “his brother through breastfeeding” is an implicit accusation on the part of some historians that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed him as governor of Egypt because of this bond of brother-hood. But what this historian said is not correct.
In order to refute these people and their implicit criticism against the khalifah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, we will discuss the conduct of this knight of the tribe of Banu ‘Amir ibn Lu’ayy, Abdullah ibn Sa’d. He had a great deal of experience and was very familiar with Egypt and the surrounding countries because he had taken part in the conquest of those regions with the army of ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and because he had been appointed governor of some of those provinces at the time of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, when he was governor of Upper Egypt.
He was also its governor at the beginning of ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu khilafah. This qualified him to become the governor of all of Egypt, as he was the best of the candidates for that post after ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu, due to his experience. It seems that Abdullah ibn Sa’d was able to control the kharaj of Egypt until it became greater than the kharaj that had been collected at the time of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The reason for that may be that Abdullah ibn Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu followed a different strategy of expenditure than ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, so the kharaj money that was available in Egypt increased.
During his governorship, Abdullah ibn Sa’d engaged in jihad in a number of places and achieved conquests that were of great importance. Among his campaigns was his campaign of conquest in North Africa in 27 A.H, during which he killed its king Jarjir. He was accompanied by a number of Sahabah during those conquests, such as Abdullah ibn al Zubair, Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and others. The campaign ended with a peace treaty with the Patriarch of North Africa who agreed to pay jizyah to the Muslims.
Ibn Abi al Sarh returned to North Africa and laid a strong foundation for Islam in the region in 33 A.H. Another of the most important actions of Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh was his campaign in Nubia which was known as Ghazwat al Asawidah or Ghazwat al Habashah by some historians. This campaign took place in 31 A.H, during which there was intense fighting between the Muslims and the Nubian troops, and a number of the Muslims were killed due to the Nubians’ skill in archery. This campaign ended with a peace treaty which Abdullah ibn Sa’d signed with the Nubians, and imposed a limited form of jizyah on them.
Abdullah ibn Sa’d is rightfully regarded as the first Muslim leader who was able to penetrate Nubia, fight its people and impose the jizyah on them, and during his governorship relations between the Nubians and the Muslims remained stable.
Another of the most important military achievements of Abdullah ibn Sa’d was the campaign of Dhat al Sawari, in which the Muslims defeated the Byzantines. The governorship of Abdullah ibn Sa’d in Egypt was generally well thought of by the Egyptians, and they did not see anything that they disliked. Al Maqrizi says of him:
He remained governor throughout the khilafah of ‘Uthman and was well thought of as a governor.
Al Dhahabi said of him:
He never transgressed any limits or did anything for which he could be criticised. He was one of the wisest and most generous of men.
The province of Egypt was initially quiet and stable, until the troublemakers such as Abdullah ibn Saba’ managed to get there and start to incite the people. They and those who were influenced by them played a major role in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the situation in Egypt itself became very unstable as the result of the expulsion of its legitimate governor and the usurpation by others in illegitimate ways. During that period they managed to spread hatred in people’s hearts against their khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the result of the plots that they fabricated based on the lies that they spread.
We shall discuss this below, with the help of Allah. When fitnah emerged as the result of ‘Uthman’s murder, Abdullah ibn Sa’d withdrew and settled in ‘Asqallan or Ramlah in Palestine. Al Baghawi narrated with a sahih isnad that Yazid ibn Abi Habib said:
Ibn Abi al Sarh went to al Ramlah in Palestine, and one day he said at dawn: “O Allah, make the last of my deeds fajr (salah). He did wudu’ and prayed, then he said the salam to his right and was about to say the salam to his left when Allah took his soul.
Marwan ibn al Hakam and his father
Marwan ibn al Hakam was one of the closest of ‘Uthman’s relatives to him, and one of those who had the strongest connection to the centre of the khilafah and was in the midst of the events that led to the destruction of Muslim unity at the time of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was like the keeper of state secrets, or the ring bearer of the king. Marwan was certainly not the only advisor of the khalifah, as he used to consult the senior and junior Sahabah, and he was not isolated from the wisest people in Muslim society. Moreover, Marwan was not the advisor who had control of the state in his hand; rather he was no more than a scribe of the khalifah, a job whose importance is based on closeness to the khalifah and his seal.
The claim that he was the cause of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu getting into trouble and inciting people against him so that the khilafah would pass to Banu Umayyah is an assumption for which there is no evidence. The khilafah did not pass to Banu Umayyah until after a great deal of trouble in which Marwan played no major role. Moreover, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not a weak character who could be controlled by a scribe to the extent that some narrators imagined.
Marwan ibn al Hakam is not to be blamed for the fact that he did not reach puberty during the lifetime of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, according to scholarly consensus; at most he was ten years old or thereabouts, but he was a Muslim who used to read Qur’an and learn his religion. Before the turmoil arose, he was not known for anything for which he could be criticised, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu is not to be blamed for appointing him as his scribe.
As for getting caught up in the turmoil, that happened to others who were better than Marwan. Moreover, the report about the Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam expelling his father is da’if (weak) in both isnad and text. It was examined by Sheikh al Islam Ibn Taymiyah, who explained why it is weak. It is known that Marwan ibn al Hakam was very knowledgeable and just. He was one of the leaders of the youth of Quraysh and he became prominent at the time of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Imam Malik testified that he was a faqih, and quoted his judgements and rulings as evidence in many places in al Muwatta’, as is narrated in other books of Sunnah that were in circulation among the A’immah of the Muslims who followed those rulings. Imam Ahmed said:
It was said that Marwan was a good judge, and he used to base his opinions on cases judged by ‘Umar ibn al Khattab.
Marwan was one of the most knowledgeable of people about the Qur’an, and he also narrated some hadith, as he narrated from some of the most famous Sahabah, and some of them narrated from him, as did some of the Tabi’in.
He was keen to learn the Sunnah and act upon it. Al Layth ibn Sa’d – the faqih of Egypt – narrated with his isnad:
Marwan attended a funeral, and when the funeral prayer had been offered, he departed. Abu Hurairah said: “He has acquired one qirat and been deprived of one qirat (i.e., of reward, as stated in a hadith). Marwan was told about that and he came running such that his knees became uncovered, and he sat until he was given permission to enter.
In the Introduction to Fath al Bari it says:
Marwan ibn al Hakam ibn Abi al ‘As ibn Umayyah, the paternal cousin of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan; it was said that he had seen Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; if it is proven, no attention should be paid to those who spoke against him.
Ibn Kathir said:
He is a Sahabi according to many, because he was born during the lifetime of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Marwan was governor of Madinah for Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and he was very strict towards evildoers, waging war against all signs of extravagance and promiscuity. He was just towards his people, and was very careful to avoid showing favouritism towards his relatives or those among them who tried to take advantage of his position.
His brother ‘Abdul Rahman slapped a freed slave of the people of Madinah who was working as a wheat-seller during the period when Marwan was governor of Madinah, and the wheat-seller complained to Marwan. He had his brother ‘Abdul Rahman brought to him, and he made him sit before the wheat-seller and said to him: “Slap him.” The wheat-seller said: “By Allah, I did not want this, all I wanted was to tell him that he has a governor over him who will support me against him; I forgive you.” He said: “I will not accept that from you; take your right.” He said: “By Allah, I will not slap him, but I give it to you; by Allah, I will not slap him.” Marwan said: “By Allah, I will not accept that. If you want to forgive him, either forgive him as a favour to him or for the sake of Allah.” He said: “I forgive him for the sake of Allah.” ‘Abdul Rahman spoke words of poetry criticising his brother Marwan for that.
This bright picture of Marwan’s knowledge, justice, understanding and religious commitment is very different from the hateful picture presented by most historians and narrators who tried hard to distort the image of this man’s life. When he was dying they also tried to distort it, and claimed that his wife Umm Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Muawiyah suffocated him with a pillow or poisoned him because he had insulted her son – as they claim – in front of a number of people.
This story – in addition to containing some contradictory elements – seems at first glance to be a myth fabricated by some old woman, but people started repeating it, either for the sake of empty talk or to try to damage the reputation of a noble family out of envy because of the high level of glory that they had achieved.
Was his death natural or did he die of the plague, or was he suffocated by his wife? The contradiction between the reports indicates that the truth is not known. The reports which state that his wife is the one who killed him, either directly or by delegating someone else to do it (namely her slave woman) is not acceptable or reasonable, because this wife was a noble woman from the tribe of ‘Abd Shams, and her husband was related to her, and he was a khalifah. So she was the wife of a khalifah and the mother of a khalifah (namely Muawiyah ibn Yazid ibn Muawiyah), and this is something that a noble woman would never do.
Moreover, we do not see any consequences of this assassination – there was no internal fight in the family, no demand for vengeance, and Khalid retained his status before ‘Abdul Malik. So there was no sufficient motive for the crime of murder. It was narrated from several scholars that he said:
The last words that Marwan spoke were:
Paradise is due to the one who fears the Fire. Engraved on his ring were the words Glory be to Allah.
Or it was said:
I believe in the Almighty, the Most Merciful.
Ibn al Qayyim said:
The reports which criticise Walid and Marwan ibn al Hakam are false.
Did ‘Uthman show favouritism to any of his relatives at the expense of the Muslims?
If ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had wanted to show favouritism to any of his relatives at the expense of the Muslims, his stepson Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah would have been the most likely candidate for favouritism, but the khalifah refused to appoint anyone to any position for which he was not qualified. That was not because he disliked him, otherwise he would not have helped him out at his own expense or provided him with a mount and supplies when he asked for his permission to go to Egypt.
As for appointing young men, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had the best example in the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He prepared an army to fight the Byzantines at the end of his life, and appointed Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu in charge of it When Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu insisted that the army continue, but some of the Sahabah wanted to replace Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu with an older leader, and they asked ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to speak to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu about that. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu got angry when he heard this suggestion and said to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
O ‘Umar, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed him and you are telling me to dismiss him?
‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself responded to this issue in front of a group of the Sahabah, when he said:
I have not appointed anyone but one who is mature, adult and qualified. These are the people for whom they worked, so ask them about them; these are the people of the city from which they came. Those who come before me appointed people who were younger than them. People said about the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam what they said about me when he appointed Usamah, is it not so?” They replied: “Yes.” The people do not know what they are talking about.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
‘Uthman did not appoint anyone but men who were of good character and just, and the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed ‘Itab ibn Usayd as governor of Makkah when he was twenty years old.
At the time of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the governors of the regions were not ignorant about matters of shari’ah, and they were not negligent about Islam. Even if they committed some sins, they still did a great job, and their sins are a personal matter which affected them only and had no effect on the Muslim society. We have studied the legacy of these governors and their deeds, and we have found that it is of great benefit for Islam and the Muslims. Hundreds and thousands of people were guided to Islam at the hands of ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu governors, and because of their conquests huge swaths of land were added to the Muslim state.
Even if they had not had religious commitment and courage that motivated them to engage in jihad, they would not have led their armies to jihad in which there is the possibility of death and leaving behind a worldly life of ease and pleasure. We have studied the biographies of these governors, and we have found that each one of them had one or more conquests to his name in the regions neighbouring his province, in addition to the virtues that qualified them for these positions of leadership.
The one who examines the sound reports about the events of history and studies the biographies of the men whose help ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu sought and the beautiful legacy of their jihad in the history of da’wah, and the results of their good management in the prosperity and tranquillity of this ummah cannot but express his admiration and pride the more he examines this era of Islamic history.
‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his governors were preoccupied with fighting the enemy, striving against them and repelling them, but that did not prevent them from expanding the territory of the Islamic state and carrying its influence into new lands. The governors had a direct impact on the events of turmoil, as accusations were made against them saying that they had transgressed against the people, but there was no proof for these accusations. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was accused of appointing his relatives, but we have refuted this accusation.
Thus we can see that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not spare any effort to do that which was in the best interests of the ummah by appointing those who were qualified. Nevertheless, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his governors were not spared the accusations made against them by troublemakers at that time, just as ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not spared the unfair accusations of many researchers whose research methods are poor, especially modern researchers who have issued judgements based on poor research or specific events for which they did not rely on authentic sources, and quoted weak Rafidi reports and reached false and unfair conclusions about the Rightly Guided khulafa’ ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, such as Taha Hussain in his book al Fitnat al Kubra, Radi ‘Abdul Rahim in al Nizam al Idari wa al Harbi, Subhi al Salih in al Nuzum al Islamiyyah, Mawlawi Hussain in al Idarah al ‘Arabiyyah, Subhi Mahmasani in Turath al Khulafa’ al Rashidin fi al Fiqh wa al Qada’, Tawfiq Yuzbaki in Dirasat fi al Nuzum al ‘Arabiyah wa al Islamiyyah, Muhammad al Mulhim in Tarikh al Bahrain fi al Qarn al Awwal al Hijri, Badawi ‘Abdul Latif in al Ahzab al Siyasiyyah fi Fajr al Islam, Anwar al Rifa’i in al Nuzum al Islamiyyah, Muhammad al Rayyis in al Nazariyat al Siyasiyyah, ‘Ali Husni al Kharbuti in al Islam wa al Khilafah, Abu al A’la al Mawdudi in al Mulk wa al Khilafah and Sayed Qutb in al ‘Adalah al Ijtima’iyyah.
‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was indeed the khalifah who was wronged, as his earliest opponents fabricated lies against him and later historians did not deal fairly with him.
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, p. 159
 His full name was Ya’la ibn Umayyah ibn Abi ‘Ubaidah al Tamimi. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/100
 Huqbah min al Tarikh, p. 75
 Minhaj al Sunnah 3/175, 176
 Al Asas fi al Sunnah wa Fiqhiha, by Sa’id Hawa, 4/1675
 Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah fi al Fitnah, 1/417
 Surah al Tawbah: 26
 Marwiyat Khalifah Muawiyah fi Tarikh al Tabari, by Khalid al Ghayth, p. 23
 i.e. a guide for people, or one who directs others to do good.
 i.e. guided himself.
 Sahih Sunan al Tirmidhi, by al Albani, 31236 (3842).
 Mawarid al Zam’an, 7/249. Its isnad is hasan (2278).
 Fath al Bari, 6/121
 The city of Caesar: i.e., Constantinople.
 Al Bukhari, no. 2924
 al Muhallab ibn Ahmed al Andalusi, the author of Sharh Sahih al Bukhari, d. 435 A.H.
 Fath al Bari, 6/120
 op. cit., 7/130
 Al Mughni by ibn Qudamah, 3/346
 Zad al Ma’ad, 2/19
 Al Mughni, 5/77
 op. cit., 6/366
 Marwiyah Khalifah Muawiyah fi Tarikh al Tabari, by Khalid al Ghayth p. 28
 op. cit., p. 29
 Al Sunnah by al Khallal, ed. by ‘Atiyah al Zahrani, 2/434
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 210
 Marwiyah Khalifah Muawiyah, p. 31
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/119
 Al Fatawa, 4/472; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 88122; Siyar A’lam al Nubala’: 3/129
 Ibn Abi al Dunya and Abu Bakr ibn Abi ‘Asim wrote books about the forbearance of Muawiyah.
 Al Bidayah warn-Nihayah, 8/118
 op. cit., 8/126
 Marwiyah Khalifah Muawiyah fi Tarikh al Tabari, p. 33
 Muslim, Kitab al lmarah, no. 65 (1855)
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 83
 Al Madinah al Nabawiyyah Fajr al Islam wa al Asr al Rashidin, 2/216
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/91
 Tahdhib al Tahdhib, 5/272
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/19; Tahdhib al Tahdhib, 5/273; Usd al Ghabah, 3/293, no. 3031.
 Al Tabaqat, 5/31; Tahdhib al Tahdhib, 5/27
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/91
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, p. 128
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/21
 Al Ma’arif by lbn Qutaybah, p. 321
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, p. 129
 Tahdhib al Tahdhib, 5/272
 Subh al A’shi fi Sina’at al Insha’ by Abu al ‘Abbas al Qalqashandi, 1/450,451
 Al Ma’arif p. 321
 Al Hakim in al Mustadrak, 3/639 (6753). Its isnad is da’if (weak), but there is supporting evidence on this topic.
 Al Tabaqat al Kubra, 5/73; Mujallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi is the main source for my biography of Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, where I benefited from the work of Professor Muhammad Hamadi, may Allah reward him with good.
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, Muhammad Hamadi, p. 134
 Futuh al Buldan by al Baladhuri, p. 351
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, 1/142
 Futuh al Buldan, p. 351
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, p. 134
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, p. 135; Futuh al Buldan, p. 354
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, p. 136; Futuh al Buldan, p. 354
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, p. 136
 Futuh al Buldan, p. 353,354
 Al Ma’arif by Ibn Qutaybah, p. 321
 Al Tanzimah al Ijtima’iyyah wa-lqtisadiyyah, p. 30, 31
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, Abdullah ibn ‘Amir, Muhammad Hamadi, p. 138
 Al Tabaqat, 5/33
 Majallah al Mu’arikh al ‘Arabi, no. 21, ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amir, Muhammad Hamadi, p. 138
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/91
 Minhaj al Sunnah, 3/189,190
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/21
 Siyar A’lam al Nubula’, 3/412,413
 Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, by Muhammad Salih al Gharsi, p. 78
 Tarikh al Tabari, 4/168
 op. cit., 4/194
 Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 78
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/28, 29
 Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 78
 Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 78
 Maslamah ibn ‘Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, one of the leaders of conquest, d. 120 A.H.
 Al Tamhid wa al Bayan, p. 40
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/251
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 86
 Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 79
 Surah Al Hujarat: 6
 Al Madinah al Nabawiyyah Fajr al Islam, 2/176
 Al Madinah al Nabawiyyah Fajr al Islam, 2/176
 op cit., 2/182
 op. cit., 2/173
 Musnad Ahmed, 4/32
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al lslam, 2/179
 op. cit., 2/180
 Al Bukhari, kitab Manaqib ‘Uthman
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/278
 Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah fi al Fiqh,1 /421
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 93
 Al Isabah, 3/638
 Tarikh lbn Khaldun, 2/473; Fasl al khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 81
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/277
 Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 96, 97
 op. cit., p/ 94
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/216
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/87
 Al Bukhari, Kitab Fada’il al Qur’an, no. 4987
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al lslam, 2/211
 Al Isabah, 3268
 Al Tabaqat, 5/34
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/212
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/279
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/212
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/279
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/213
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/213; al Tabaqat, 5/32
 op. cit., 2/214
 op. cit., 2/214
 op. cit., 2/214
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/447
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/279
 Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh by al Fasawi, 2/754
 Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah fi al Fitnah, 1/423
 Al Minhaj by ibn Taymiyah, 3/188
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/90
 Al Kamil by Ibn al Athir, 3/88
 Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 77
 Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah fi al Fitnah, p. 418
 Al Wilayah ‘ala al Buldan, 1/180
 Futuh Misr wa Akhbaruha, p. 183; al Wilayah ‘ala aI-Buldan, 1/180
 Al Nujum al Zahirah, 1/80
 Al Wilayah ‘ala al Buldan, 1/181; Futuh Misr wa Akhbaruha, p. 188
 Al Khatat, 1/299
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/34
 Al Wilayah ‘ala al Buldan, 1/186
 Al Isabah no. 4711; Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/35
 ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, by Sadiq ‘Arjun, p. 117
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, by Hamdi Shahin, p. 160
 Minhaj al Sunnah, 3/197
 Minhaj al Sunnah, 3/195,196
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, p. 169
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/260
 ibid; al Musnad no. 4453- 4650
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, p. 200; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/260
 Fath al Bari, 2/164; Abatil yajib an tuhma min al Tarikh, p. 254
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/259
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, p. 200
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, p. 200
 ‘Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, by Dr. al Ris, p. 12
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah al Muftara ‘alayha, p. 201
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/262
 Al Manar al Munif p.117; Fasl al Khitab fi Mawaqif al Ashab, p. 77
 Tahqiq Mawaqif fi-Sahabah fi al Fitnah,1 /247
 op. cit., 1/247; Tarikh al Tabari, 5/416
 Tahqiq Mawaqif fi-Sahabah fi al Fitnah, 1/427; Tarikh al Tabari, 5/416
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/46
 op. cit., 5/355
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/178
 Al Madinah al Munawwarah Fajr al Islam, 2/112
 Hashiyat al Muttaqi min Minhaj al I’tidal, p. 390
 Al Wilayah ‘ala al Buldan, 1/222-223Back to top