LIFE BEFORE ACCEPTANCE OF ISLAM
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) belonged to a noble family of Quraish in Mecca. His ancestral pedigree joins with that of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) in the fifth generation. He was from the “Umayyah” family of Quraish, which was a well reputed and honourable family of Mecca during the pre-Islamic days. In the famous battle of “Fajar” the Commander-in-Chief of the Quraish army, Harb bin Umayyah was from the same family. The descendants of this family are known as “Banu Umayyah” or “Umawwin”.
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was born in 573 A.C. His patronymic name was “Abu Amr” and father’s name was “Affan bin Abul-As”. He was known by the name “Uthmanibn ‘Affan”. Hadrat Uthman was one of the few persons of Mecca who knew reading and writing. When he grew up, he started business in cloth which made him very rich. He used his money in good ways and always helped the poor. Uthman (R.A.) was a soft natured and kind hearted man. He did not hesitate to spend any amount of money on seeing a man in trouble in order to remove his misery. For his noble qualities the Meccans had great respect for him.
ACCEPTANCE OF ISLAM
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) accepted Islam when Abu Bakr (R.A.) preached to him. He was one of those Muslims who accepted Islam in its very early days. Though “Banu Hashim” (the Holy Prophet’s family) was rival to “Banu Umayyah” (Hadrat Uthman’s family), and the latter was in power at that time, yet Uthman (R.A.) did not hesitate to acknowledge the prophethood of Hadrat Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) which meant authority and supremacy over “Banu Hashim”. This was one of the reasons why Quraish leaders, belonging to Banu Umayyah (like Abu Sufyan) were opposing the Holy Prophet(Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam). Thus acceptance of Islam in such a position shows the clear-mindedness of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). When he accepted Islam, the Quraish who once loved Uthman became his enemies. Even his relatives like Hakam (one of his uncles) began to rebuke him and chastised him severely.
One of the daughters of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), Hadrat Ruqayyah (R.A.) was married to one of the sons of Abu Lahab (an arch-enemy of Islam). When the Holy Prophet(Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) started to preach Islam, Abu Lahab asked his son ‘Utbah to divorce her. Then the Holy Prophet married her to Hadrat Uthman (R.A.)
EMIGRATION TO ABYSSINIA
When life in Mecca became hard for the Muslims, he went to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’alaihi wa Sallam) and sought permission to take refuge in Abyssinia along with other Muslims. The permission was granted. Hadrat Uthman(R.A.) and his wife crossed the Red Sea with other Muslims and migrated to Abyssinia. At the time of his migration the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’alaihi wa Sallam) remarked: “Uthman is the first man of my Ummah to migrate (for sake of Allah) with his family.” He stayed there for a couple of months and came back to Mecca when he was wrongly informed by somebody that the Quraish had accepted Islam.
UTHMAN (R.A.) GETS THE TITLE OF “DHUN-NURAIN”
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) migrated second time with other Muslims to Medina. He could not participate in the first battle of Islam against non-believers of Mecca at Badr, because his wife was very ill. She died before the Muslims returned from Badr after the victory. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) gave him glad tidings that he would get the same reward as though he had participated in the battle. After the death of Hadrat Ruqayyah (R.A.), the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) married his next daughter, “Umm Kulthum” with him and he was given the title of “Dhun-nurain” i.e., the man with two lights.
HIS OTHER SERVICES FOR THE CAUSE OF ISLAM BEFORE CALIPHATE
He was a very prominent Muslim to serve Islam by all means. He participated in almost all the battles with the non-believers in which the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) had also taken part, except “Badr”. At the time of the “Treaty of Hudaibiya” he was sent to Mecca to negotiate with the non-believers. Then the Muslims were wrongly informed about his murder by the non-believers of Mecca. It is for this reason that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) sought a pledge by the Muslims to fight with the non-believers in revenge of his murder. That pledge is known as “Bai’at al-Ridwan” (the Pledge of Ridwan). For Uthman’s pledge, the Holy Prophet(Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) put his left hand (representing Uthman’s hand) on his right hand.
When the Muhajirin (Emigrants) from Makkah came to Madinah, they had great difficulty in getting drinking water. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) bought a well named “bi’r-i-Rumah” from a Jew for twenty thousand dirhams for free use of Muslims. That was the first trust ever made in the history of Islam. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) gave him the glad tidings of Paradise for this act.
When the number of Muslims increased, the Prophet’s mosque became too small to accommodate the increasing population, it was Uthman (R.A.) who responded to the Prophet’s call and bought land for its extension. When the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) went to the expedition of Tabuk, Hadrat Uthman bore the expenses for one third Islamic army (i.e., about 10,000 men). He also gave one thousand camels, fifty horses and one thousand Dinars (gold coins) to support the rest of the army. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’alaihi wa Sallam) remarked on this, “Nothing will do any harm to Uthman from this day, whatever he does.”
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was one of the scribes of the “Wahy” (Revelation) and also used to write other documents (letters and messages etc.) of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam).
At the time of the election of Hadrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was present in the Assembly Hall of Medina. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (R.A.), he was a member of the “Shura” (Advisory Council). He occupied a prominent position in the affairs of the Islamic State during that time.
HADRAT UTHMAN (R.A.) ELECTED AS THE THIRD KHALIFAH (CALIPH)
Before his death, Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) appointed a panel of six men to select a “Khalifah” from amongst themselves and then sought his approval through Bai’at (Pledge of loyalty) by Muslim Public. He also instructed them to make the nomination within three days. The panel included Uthman,’Ali, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Talha, Zubair and ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf (Ridwanullah-i-’Alaihim) as the members.
The panel could not arrive at any decision even after long meetings. Then, Hadrat ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf proposed somebody to withdraw his name in order to decide the matter. When he got no response, he withdrew his own name. The remaining members agreed that he could take a decision. He consulted each member individually except Hadrat Talha (R.A.) who was not present at Medina. It so happened that Hadrat Uthman proposed ‘Ali’s name and Hadrat ‘Ali proposed Uthman’s name for the post of Khalifah. But Zubair and Sa’d (R.A.) were more in favour of Hadrat Uthman than Hadrat ‘Ali. After more consultations with other companions and thinking over the problem during the third night, Hadrat ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf(R.A.) gave his decision in the morning of the fourth day in favour of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.).
First of all Hadrat ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf(R.A.) took Bai’at at the hands of Hadrat Uthman and then all the Muslims present in the Mosque followed suit and took Bai’at (pledge of loyalty) at the hands of Hadrat Uthman(R.A.). In this way, Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was declared to be the third Khalifah. When Hadrat Talha (R.A.) returned to Medina, Uthman (R.A.) requested him either to accept the post of “Khalifah” (as he was among the persons proposed by Hadrat ‘Umar for the post) or to acknowledge him as Khalifah by taking Bai’at. Hadrat Talha declined to be the Khalifah and took pledge of loyalty at his hand, saying “How can I object to your being the Khalifah when all the Muslims have agreed upon you.”
ADMINISTRATION OF SYRIA
During the time of Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.), Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.) was the governor of Damascus controlling a part of Syria. Hadrat Uthman after combining three provinces viz. Syria, Palestine and Jordan into one, appointed Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.) as the governor of the whole Syria. During the late period of Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantium died at Constantinople in 641 (A.C.) and his son, Constans (641-668) after some confusion became the Emperor of Byzantine Empire which was reduced to Antalya (now a part of Turkey) & Asia Minor besides some states in the Eastern Europe, with Constantinople as its capital.
The Romans (Byzantines) were having a covetous eye on the parts conquered by the Muslims, specially Syria and Alexandria (in Egypt). They again started raising a big army against Muslims and incited the people to rebel against the Islamic Government after the death of Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.).
ROMAN INVASION OF ALEXANDRIA
In the year 25 A.H. (645 A.C.) there was a big rebellion in Alexandria, and in 26 A.H., the Roman army took possession of the city after a fight with the Muslims. Hearing this Hadrat Uthman (R.A.)directed ‘Amr bin al-’As(R.A.) to crush the rebellion and beat back the Roman invasion. Hadrat’Amr (R.A.) again attacked the city and drove the Romans out, and recovered the port city of Alexandria.
ADMINISTRATION OF EGYPT
During the time of Hadrat ‘Umar there was no full pledged governor in Egypt. The powers of the governor were divided. Hadrat’Amr bin al’As was the Commander-in-Chief of the forces and Hadrat’Abdullah bin Sarah (R.A.) was in charge of Revenue. But Hadrat’Amr (R.A.) had more say in the matters of administration. There arose a dispute between Hadrat’Amr and Hadrat Sarah in the year 27 A.H. Hadrat Uthman investigated the case and found that Hadrat ‘Amr was not right; so he recalled him to Medina and Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Sarah was appointed as governor of Egypt. Hadrat ‘Amr was not pleased with the decision. During the time of Hadrat ‘Amr (R.A.) the annual amount of taxes was two million dinars. Hadrat’Abdullah raised it to four million dinars annually.
CONQUEST OF ANTALYA AND CYPRUS
Constan 11, the Byzantine Emperor tried to take over Syria and ordered his army to march on the Muslims. Seeing the Roman invasion, Hadrat Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.) led an army to Asia Minor where the Romans were gathered. He defeated the Romans and took over the city of Amuria. Within a short period of time he conquered a vast part of Asia Minor.
Following these victories Hadrat Amir Mu’awiyah (R.A.) turned his attention to Mediterranean. The island of Cyprus was very important from the defence point of view. He sought Uthman’s (R.A.) permission for sea-fighting. The Khalifah approved his plan. For the first time in the history of Islam, a naval force was built and in the year 28 A.H. Hadrat Mu’awiya sent a fleet of 500 ships under the command of Hadrat’Abdullah bin Qais Harthi. After some fighting, the island of Cyprus was occupied and the inhabitants of the island agreed to pay the same tribute to Muslims as they did to the Romans.
Later on in the year 33 A.H. (653 A.C.). Hadrat Amir Mu’awiya also conquered the great fort of Antalya (also known as Anatolia). He also attacked Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of Byzantium in the year 34 A.H. (654 A.C.) but was not successful in conquering it. (It was really in the lot of Sultan Muhammad Fatih who conquered it on 20 Jumadiul Awwal 857 A.H. i.e. 29 May 1453 A.C.).
ADMINISTRATION OF IRAQ
During the time of Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) Iraq was governed by the governor at Kufa. Hadrat Sa’d was the governor whom Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) recalled to Medina on some minor complaints. But at his death bed Hadrat’Umar desired reinstatement of Hadrat Sa’d (R.A.). Hadrat Uthman fulfilled his desire and appointed Hadrat Sa’d as the governor of Iraq. In the year 26 A.H., there arose a dispute between Hadrat Sa’d and Ibn Mas’ud (R.A.) who was the Treasury officer of Kufa. Ibn Mas’ud complained to the Khalifah. Hadrat Uthman enquired into the matter and found that Hadrat Sa’d was not right, therefore Hadrat Sa’d was again deprived of the governorship and Hadrat Walid bin ‘Uqbah was appointed as the new governor. In 30 A.H. Hadrat Walid bin ‘Uqbah was accused of drinking liquor for which he was not only dismissed but was also whipped in accordance with Islamic law. According to some historians Hadrat Walid bin ‘Uqbah was wrongly accused by some conspirators but Hadrat Uthman had to punish him because of the evidence given against him. Then Hadrat Uthman appointed Hadrat Sa’d bin al-’As as the governor of Kufa. Again rowdy elements of Kufa plotted against their governor in the year 34 A.H. When Hadrat Uthman received a number of complaints against Sa’d bin al-’As he replaced him by Hadrat Abu Musa Ash’ari (R.A.).
REBELLION OF AZERBAIJAN AND ARMENIA
Azerbaijan and Armenia were conquered during Hadrat ‘Umar’s time. There arose a rebellion against Islamic Government after his death. Hadrat Uthman ordered Hadrat Walid bin ‘Uqbah (who was the governor of Kufa at that time) to crush the rebellion. He sent Islamic forces and regained the territory taken over by the rebels. This happened in the year 26 A.H.
During the same period, Hadrat Amir Mu’awiyah(R.A.) sent an army to Armenia to face the Romans. The Islamic army was under the command of Habib bin Muslimah. He occupied some of the forts but Constans II sent a huge army of 80,000 men to face the Muslims. Seeing the situation, Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.) wrote to Hadrat Uthman for reinforcement. He ordered Walid Bin ‘Uqbah. He received Khalifahs order when he was returning from Azerbaijan after taking it over from the rebels. He immediately sent an army of eight thousand men under the command of Salman bin Rabi’ah to Armenia. The two armies conquered the whole region of Armenia after defeating the Roman forces. They also conquered some more parts of Asia Minor including Aran and Garjastan. Thus by the end of the 26 A.H. the territory up to Caucasus Mountains (now in the U.S.S.R.) came under the sway of Islam.
ADMINISTRATION OF IRAN AND CONQUEST OF AFGHANISTAN
Iran was under the administrative control of the governor of Basrah. Hadrat Abu Musa Ash’ari (R.A.) was the governor of Basrah when Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) died. The People of Basrah complained against him and wrongly accused him of partiality for the Quraish. At last Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) recalled him to Medina and appointed Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir (R.A.) as the governor of Basrah.
As stated before whole of the Persian Empire was conquered during the time of Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) and the Persian Emperor, Yedzgird had ultimately fled to Balkh (a place in Afghanistan). After the death of Hadrat ‘Umar(R.A.), the exiled Emperor tried to instigate a rebellion in the frontier region of the Empire against the Islamic rule. To crush this rebellion Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) appointed Hadrat’Ubaidullah bin Ma’mar but he was not successful and was martyred in a battle. Then Hadrat Uthman asked ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir, the newly appointed governor to deal with the rebels. He crushed the rebellion and conquered some more parts viz. Hisraf, Gazna, Herat and Kabul. He also took over Balkh, thus the whole of Afghanistan was conquered. Then he took over Samarkand, Tashkent, Sajestan, Arghiyan and Turkmennistan (all these places are now part of the U.S.S.R.).
CONQUEST OF KHURASAN AND TABRASTAN
In the year 30 A.H. Hadrat Sa’d bin’As, newly appointed governor of Kufa, marched towards Khurasan with an army in which some prominent figures like Hadrat Hasan, Husain, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas,’Abdullah bin’Umar etc. (Rid. A.) were also included who had returned from North African expedition. At the same time Hadrat’Abdullah bin’Amir (the governor of Basrah) also marched there. Before Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir reached, Sa’d bin ‘As conquered a number of places including Tabrastan and Jarjan.
In the year 31 A.H. Hadrat’Abdullah bin’Amir again marched there after hearing the news of rebellion. Then he conquered the remaining part of Khurasan.
In the meantime, Yedzgird, the exiled Persian Emperor reached the north in Turkmennistan and tried to collect an army but was again defeated by the Muslims at Sistan and fled. Thereupon one of the Turk chiefs and Naizak Khan invited him. While he was going to meet him he stayed in a village. There some body killed him while he was asleep for his precious garments and cash. In this way the last Emperor of the vast Persian Empire passed away
CONQUEST OF NORTH AFRICA
For the defence of Egypt it was necessary to drive away the Byzantines from North Africa. Tripoli (now the capital of Libya) was a stronghold of Byzantium. When Hadrai ‘Abdullah bin Sarah was appointed as a full-rank governor of Egypt, he took permission from the Khalifah to advance into the northern territory. During Hadrat ‘Umar’s time. Amr bin al-’As (R.A.) had penetrated into the coastal part of North Africa for some distance.
After his appointment as a governor of Egypt. Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Sarah (R.A.)
received permission from the Khalifah to penetrate deep into North Africa. In 27 A.H. he went with an army to conquer Tripoli, the main Byzantine fort of North Africa at that time. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.)also sent a reinforcement from Medina which included men like Hadrat Hasan, Husain,’Abdullah bin’Umar,’Abdullah bin Zubair,’Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-’As, and ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakr etc. (Ridwanullah-i-’Alaihim). After some fight the inhabitants of Tripoli agreed to enter into a settlement and promised to pay “Jizya” (Indemnity) equal to 2′/2 million Dinars annually.
After the conquest of Tripoli, Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Sarah spread his armies around Tripoli. Near a city named Yaquba he faced a huge Byzantine army, under the command of a famous Byzantine general named Jarjir. The battle began and the Byzantine commander announced a reward of one hundred thousand Dinars (gold coins) and the hand of his beautiful daughter, to the person who struck off the head of Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Sarah, the Muslim Commander. Hearing this Hadrat’Abdullah bin Zubair requested Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Sarah to announce a reward of one hundred dinars and the hand of Byzantine Commander’s daughter (the princess) for the person who brought the commander’s head. The reward was announced and the same day the commander was slain but nobody claimed the reward. However the princess recognised the man who had slain her father. He was no other than ‘Abdullah bin Zubair (R.A.). The princess was married with him and he also got the reward of one hundred thousand dinars.
This victory cleared the way for advance of Muslims in North Africa and soon they captured Tunisia and Morocco and a part of Algeria.
SECOND INVASION OF ALEXANDRIA BY ROMANS
In the year 31 A.H. (651 A.C.) Constantine sent a fleet of 500 ships to invade Alexandria. The Muslims got ready to beat back the enemy. Hadrat Muawiya (R.A.) the governor of Syria, also ordered his fleet to sail from there to face the Romans. Hadrat’Abdullah bin Sarah advanced with his fleet and faced the Romans in the mid sea. That was the first big naval battle in the history of Islam. Though the Muslims were not experienced in naval battles, yet they did not find it difficult to beat back the enemy. The retreating Romans took refuge in the island of Sicily and the Muslims returned victorious.
INVASION OF SPAIN
After the conquest of North Africa, Hadrat Uthman gave orders for the invasion of Spain. He appointed ‘Abdullah bin Nafai’ as the Commander of Muslim army under the chief command of ‘Abdullah bin Sarah, the governor of Egypt. ‘Abdullah bin Nafai’ conquered some part of Spain but soon returned and was not successful in his mission. (Spain was, as a matter of fact, in the lot of Tariq bin Ziyad who conquered it in the year 92 A.H. i.e. 711 A.C.).
A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE CONQUESTS DURING HADRAT UTHMAN’S CALIPHATE
Thus we see that during the caliphate of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) the Muslims conquered a number of new areas. They took over Antalya and Asia Minor in the west including Cyprus. Afghanistan, Samarkand, Tashkent, Trukmennistan, Khurasan and Tabrastan in the East and North East; and Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in North Africa. In this way Muslims were ruling over a vast part of Asia and Africa viz. Afghanistan, Turkmennistan, Uzbekistan, Persia or Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and of course Arabia (now Saudi Arabia) and Yemen including the Gulf states. All these countries and places were under one flag, and the Islamic state was far bigger than any one of the past mighty Byzantine or Persian Empires. Islam as a religion was also prevailing in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and in some parts of East and Central Africa though these places were not under the direct control of the Caliphate.
INTERNAL DISORDER: INTRODUCTORY NOTE
The first half of Hadrat Uthman’s caliphate was very peaceful. During this time the Muslims gained many victories as described above, and the caliphate extended to a vast area of the then known world. But the later part of Hadrat Uthman’s caliphate was marred by a terrible civil war which ultimately led to the murder of the caliph himself. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was a very gentle and soft-hearted person. The people who wanted to create chaos among the Muslims took advantage of his soft nature. Hadrat ‘Umar’s stern hand had kept away the undemocratic and non-Islamic customs, and the practices that prevailed in the courts of Persian and Byzantine Empires. But HadrAt Uthman (R.A.) sometimes overlooked the faults of the governors and other officers in various provinces, though he himself totally and completely followed the ways of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) and the first two caliphs. His compassionate nature made the provincial governors bold as a result of which unrest in the provincial capitals grew and ultimately it engulfed the whole Islamic State.
The enemies of Islam were in search of a suitable occasion to work against Islam and the Muslims. They got the desired opportunity for this and sent out their men to disturb the peace and to spread false news. Only the main events that happened during that time would be discussed in the following lines.
CONSPIRACY OF ‘ABDULLAH BIN SABA
‘Abdullah bin Saba, a clever Yemenite Jew who had accepted Islam only for self-interest and to destroy peace of the Islamic state, took the leading part in the agitation against Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). He was having a number of followers who had accepted Islam only to create disharmony among the Muslims.
He invented quite a few beliefs and started to preach them. He based his beliefs upon the love of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) and his family (Ahli-Bait). Some of the beliefs invented by Abdullah bin Saba were
(1) Every prophet left a “Wasi” (administrator) behind him, and the “Wasi” was his relative. For example Prophet Musa (Moses) made Harun his “Wasi” (administrator). Consequently the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) must have a “Wasi”, and his “Wasi” was Hadrat ‘Ali (R.A.) Being the “Wasi”, Hadrat ‘Ali (R.A.) was the only rightful man to be the “Khalifah”. He went to the extent of declaration that the “Khilafat” (caliphate) of Hadrat Abu Bakr,’Umar and Uthman (R.A.) was unlawful. The only way to redress matters was to remove the then Caliph, Hadrat Uthman(R.A.).
(2) He said that it was strange for the Muslims to believe that Jesus (‘Alaihis Salam) would descend from the heaven to follow Islam and to fight for Muslims against non-believers, and not to believe that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) would not come back. So he believed that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) being superior to Jesus as the Last Prophet and the Leader of all prophets, would also come back.
(3) He started to give wrong commentaries of various verses of the Holy Qur’an and twisted their meaning in favour of his beliefs.
He preached his false self-coined beliefs secretly and selected the main headquarters of Muslim military power, Kufa, Basrah, Syria and Egypt as centres of his activities. He picked up a number of newly converted Muslims who lent an easy ear to what he said. Some simple Muslims who were having certain complaints against various governors also joined him. It was the real cause of all the troubles.
First of all he visited Medina to note the internal conditions of the capital. He pretended to be a very pious Muslim but could not get much followers over there. Then he came to Basrah and started to preach his beliefs and incite the public against Muslim officers. At that time Hadrat’Abdullah bin ‘Amir was the Governor. Hearing about his activities, he called him and made certain enquiries because of which he was frightened and left Basrah leaving his followers and workers over there under the supervision of Hakim bin Hublah, one of the opponents of the governor.
From Basrah ‘Abdullah bin Saba moved to Kufa and found it more suitable for his destructive activities. He pretended to be a very pious Muslim and because of his show of piety, a number of simple Muslims started to respect him. Then he preached his beliefs. Soon the governor of Kufa, Hadrat Sa’d bin al-’As was informed about him. He called him and warned him against his false beliefs and the damage he wanted to cause to the Muslim community. For this reason he left Kufa as well but made Ashtar as his deputy with instructions that the mission should be carried on secretly. From there he also went to Damascus but was not successful because of the strict control of Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.).
At last he selected Egypt and went there. The governor of Egypt, Hadrat’Abdullah bin Sarah was busy in the battles against Byzantine forces in North Africa and could not pay much attention to Ibn Saba’s activities. He continued correspondence with his followers in Basrah, Kufa and other places from Egypt, and gave them directions for creating disorder and rivalry among the Muslims.
His followers, most of whom were pretending to be Muslims, used various techniques to increase their strength. They made a great show of piety and posed to be very pious worshippers. They incited people to forge complaints against the governors, various officers and the Khalifah as well. A new campaign against most of the officers was started by calling them irreligious, non-practical and bad Muslims. They sent forged letters from place to place which talked of injustice and unrest in the place from where they were posted. Such letters were usually sent to Sabaites (the followers of ‘Abdullah bin Saba) who read them out to as many people as possible. These forged letters also showed that Hadrat’Ali, Talha, and Zubair (Rid. A.) had full sympathy with them and with their mission and they disliked the “Khalifah”, Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). These were the three leading Companions in Medina at that time. Thus the people of various places began to believe that there was a widespread unrest and that the leading Companions wanted to remove the “Khalifah”.
The Sabaites also worked throughout the state against various governors. They were the real cause of their removal from time to time. Sabaites were the main figures behind the removal of Hadrat Abu Musa Ash’ari from the governorship of Basrah at the time when their mission was not so popular. They spread rumours against Hadrat Walid bin ‘Uqbah, governor of Kufa, and wrongly accused him of drinking liquor, and provided false witnesses against him because of which the “Khalifah” punished him. When he was punished they accused the “Khalifah” of punishing innocent Muslims. When Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin’Amir (R.A.) was appointed as the governor of Basrah to replace Hadrat Abu Musa Ash’ari they incited the public against him and against the Khalifah that he was related to the Khalifah because of which he was given the governorship in his young age.
On one side they incited the people against the governors and on the other they accused the Khalifah. On the basis of complaints when Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) removed the governors they criticised him to be unduly kind to his relatives by appointing them to big posts.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HADRAT UTHMAN
(1) Hadrat Uthman belonged to the family Banu Umayyah of Quraish. Before Islam there was rivalry between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim, the family of the Quraish to which the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’alaihi wa Sallam) and Hadrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) belonged. In Medina the Sabaites incited Banu Hashim against Banu Umayyah, actually against Hadrat Uthman, by saying that he was removing Hashmites from the big offices in order to support Umayyads and that he was unduly considerate to his family.
(2) They alleged that Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was extravagant and gave away money to his relatives, thus squandered the “Baitul Mal”. The allegation was absolutely false. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was one of the wealthiest merchants in Arabia due to which people called him “Ghani” (The Richman). His liberal contributions towards the cause of Islam during the life of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’alaihi wa Sallam) have been mentioned in the preceding pages. His generosity continued in the same way during his caliphate. He spent his own money to help the poor, and also his relatives but never took anything wrongfully from the “Baitul Mal”. Not only this he did not accept any allowance from the “Baitul Mal” for his services as Caliph. Through his addresses and speeches he clarified his position several times and gave satisfactorily explanations to the false accusations against him. Once he promised to give one fifth of the booty of Tripoli, the state share, to Hadrat’Abdullah bin Sarah, the then Governor of Egypt, for his invaluable services and the bravery he showed in the battles that took place between the Muslims and the Byzantine forces in North African territories. But the general public disapproved his view and he asked ‘Abdullah to return that share.
(3) One of the allegations, levelled by Sabaites against Hadrat Uthman was that he had burnt some copies of the Holy Qur’an. The fact was that Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) sent copies of the Holy Qur’an, written by Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit by the order of Hadrat Abu Bakr during his caliphate, to various places of the state and asked the governors and other officers to burn all those copies of the Holy Qur’an which were incomplete and were not in accordance with the Holy Qur’an compiled by Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit. This was done in order to avoid confusion between the Muslims because there were some copies of the Holy Qur’an at that time in which the order of the Surahs (Chapters) was not like that which was proposed by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) in accordance to Hadrat Gabriel instructions as commanded by Allah. Moreover, some of the copies existing at that time at various places other than Medina were lacking in some chapters, and were incomplete. For this reason Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) got copies made from the standard Book compiled during the time of Abu Bakr (R.A.) and sent them to various places. Differences had also arisen due to differences in handwritings so he also standardised the way of writing the Holy Qur’an. This has been considered as one of the greatest services of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) rendered to Islam for which he has been given the title of “Jami’ul-Qur’an” (The Compiler of the Qur’an) although the Holy Qur’an was compiled in a book form by Hadrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) on the insistence of Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.).
(4) At this place I would like to mention something about Hadrat Abu Dharr Ghifari(R.A.) because this allegation is concerned with him. He was a well-known and pious Companion of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) who always kept aloof from the world and its riches. He was not in favour of accumulation of money and saving it. As regards the “Baitul Mal”(Public Treasury), he held the view that all the money should be spent for the welfare of Muslims as soon as it came through taxes etc. In Syria he started to publicise his opinion and a number of people followed him. Seeing this Hadrat Amir Mu’awiya wrote to Hadrat Uthman who recalled Hadrat Abu Dharr to Medina and then he retired to a village named Rabdhah near Medina.’Abdullah bin Saba tried to gain favour of Hadrat Abu Dharr(R.A.) when he was in Syria but he rebuked Ibn Saba and told him that the beliefs she was preaching were foreign to Islam and that his aim was to create chaos among the Muslims.
When Hadrat Abu Dhar (R.A.) had retired they started accusing Hadrat Uthman that he forced him to live in a village. Not only this but they also accused him of ill treatment of other recognised Companions like Hadrat ‘Ammar bin Yasir and Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (R.A.) But all of these accusations were false.
(5) One of the allegations against Hadrat Uthman was that he called Hakam bin’As to Medina who was exiled by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’alaihi wa Sallam). However this step of Hadrat Uthman was not too wise. Not only this but he also appointed Hakam’s son Marwan as his chief secretary which was not liked by some prominent Companions and also by the Muslim Public.
The forthcoming discussion on this point would reveal that Marwan became the main cause of insurgents’ existent who ultimately assassinated the Khalifah. It is alleged that he wrote to Egypt’s governor Hadrat ‘Abdullah to kill Muhammad bin Abi Bakr whom Hadrat Uthman had appointed the governor of Egypt in place of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr when the insurgents pressed Hadrat Uthman to do so but this, too, was false. The letter was sheer forgery.
There are some other false allegations which were levelled by Sabaites to defame the Khalifah. Since most of them are purely theological in nature and not political, they are not been mentioned here.
CONFERENCE OF THE GOVERNORS
When the unrest caused by Sabaites went on growing in all parts of the State, the news began to pour in Medina. The leading Companions asked Hadrat Uthman to take steps against them. So he called a conference of the governors in Medina in the year 34 A.H., just after the Hajj. All the governors attended the meeting. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) enquired from them about the growing unrest in the State. They told him that it was due to some mischief-mongers who wanted to overthrow the government. They suggested that such persons must be punished and those who were the leaders must be put to sword. But Hadrat Uthman disliked the suggestion and told them that without just cause he would never shed even a single drop of Muslim blood. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was not willing to take stern action against such persons because he did not want that hundreds of men should be massacred for his interest. Instead, he sent a mission of four persons: Muhammad bin Muslimah, Usamah bin Zaid,’Ammar bin Yasir and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar(Rad. A .)to tour the provinces.
After the governors’ conference was over Hadrat Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.) suggested that he should leave Medina and should pass some time in Damascus but he said, “I would not leave Madinah even though people kill me.” Then Amir Mu’awiya (R.A.) requested Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) to allow him to send an army to Madinah for his protection but Hadrat Uthman did not agree to even that.
TOUR OF THE MISSION
The mission sent by Hadrat Uthman toured various places and talked with the people. Three of them returned to Medina and reported to Hadrat Uthman that the conditions were normal. The fourth member of the mission Hadrat ‘Ammar bin Yasir (R.A.) did not return. He was sent to Egypt where ‘Abdullah bin Saba and his followers coaxed him and he started to live with them instead of returning to Medina.
SABA GETS FRIENDS
‘Abdullah bin Saba was in search of some important men who were having some influence over the Muslims. At last he won over three important figures. One among them was Hadrat ‘Ammar bin Yasir, described above. The other two joined Ibn Saba before Hadrat ‘Ammar. They were Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifah and Muhammad bin Abi Bakr. Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifah was an orphan and was brought up by Hadrat Uthman along with some other orphans. When he grew up he desired some big post. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) did not consider him fit for that. So he left Medina and went to Egypt and ultimately joined Ibn Saba. Muhammad bin Abi Bakr(R.A.) was in debt. The creditor complained to the “Khalifah” who decided the case impartially in favour of the creditor as a result of which Muhammad bin Abi Bakr left Medina and came to Egypt and ultimately joined Ibn Saba.
PLAN OF THE SABAITES
The Sabaites were planning to cause a general rising when the Governors were away to attend the conference. However the plot could not be carried out.
Kufa was the main centre of the Sabaites besides their headquarters in Egypt. The hooligans of Kufa tried to carry out the plan and did not allow the governor to enter the city when he returned from the conference. They demanded that Hadrat Musa Ash’ari should be appointed as the governor in place of Sa’d bin’As. Their request was granted and Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) sent Hadrat Musa Ash’ari to Kufa.
Then they chalked out another plan and decided that their ring leaders should meet at Medina. This plan had to serve double purpose. On the one hand they wanted to study the situation for future course of action, and on the other hand they wanted to show to the public that they put their grievances before the “Khalifah” but he did not pay any attention to them.
According to the plan three delegations came, one from Egypt, the second from Kufa and the third from Basrah. Hadrat Uthman was informed about their plan but he accepted it quietly. When these Sabaites entered Medina some Companions suggested to Uthman (R.A.) to kill them but he told that without sufficient legal grounds no man can be executed, and that he would try to remove the misunderstandings. He told them, “I would be kind to them and if kindness failed to work I would rather sacrifice myself for Allah’s Will.”
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) listened to them and gave a long address in which he replied to all the charges which were put against him. Some parts of his historical address are quoted here
“I have been accused of loving my kinsmen and to be unduly kind to them. It is not a sin to love one’s relatives but I have never been unjust to other people because of my love of my relatives. Whatever I give them that is from my own pocket. I never spent anything on my relatives and kinsmen from public funds ……”
“It has been said that I have appointed comparatively young men as officers. I did it only because I found them abler for the cause of Islam. Nobody could deny their honesty and the work they rendered for the cause of Islam and the Muslims. The appointment of Usamah as the commander of the army by the Holy Prophet is proof that youth is no disqualification.”
“…. It has been alleged that I gave the whole booty of North Africa as reward to the governor of Egypt. It is true but when I learnt the public objection to it, I took back the money from the governor and deposited it in the “Baitul Mal”…..”
“It is said that I have reserved the public pastures for my personal use. I swear by Allah that I never did it. In public pastures only those animals graze which are the property of the “Baitul Mal” (Public Treasury). All of you know that when I was entrusted with this office (i.e. caliphate) I had more animals than any one in the whole of Arabia but now I have only two camels that are to serve me at the time of Hajj. How could I reserve the public pastures for my personal use?……”
“People accuse me of sending copies of the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an is Allah’s book sent down to His Prophet. The Companions who wrote it under the direct supervision of the Holy Prophet are still alive. I have sent only that copy of the Holy Qur’an which was compiled by those Companions..”
“It is said that I called Hakam to Medina who was exiled by the Holy Prophet. Actually the Holy Prophet exiled him from Mecca to Taif. Then the Holy Prophet had allowed him to live at Medina on my request. I only put into force the permission granted by the Holy Prophet himself….”
In this way Hadrat Uthman gave satisfactory explanation to all the allegations put against him by the Sabaites. In the end of his address he asked the audience
“Tell me if all what I have said is not correct.”
But the aim of these ring leaders was to create mischief. They returned to their places and instead of telling the truth told them that the “Khalifah” was not ready to set things right. Then they planned to send strong contingents from places like Basrah, Kufa and Egypt for the forthcoming Hajj. The parties were to leave their places pretending to perform Hajj but there aim was to go to Medina and decide the matter with the sword i.e. to change the “Khalifah” by force. Though the “Khalifah” knew about this plan from before hand but he did not want to use force. He was determined to win over his enemies with love and compassion.
MARTYRDOM: INSURGENTS (SABAITES) ENTER MADINAH
As the time of Hajj in the year 35 A.H. (656 A.C.) came near they started to put their plans into action. In the month of Shawwal 35 A.H. they started coming in small groups from various places. In all about three thousand Sabaites came, one thousand from each place viz. Basrah, Kufa and Egypt. The groups from Basrah stayed at DhiKhashab, and those from Kufa stayed at A’was while the Egyptians stayed at Dhi-Murwah. All the three places are near Medina. All of them wanted Hadrat Uthman to step down but there was some difference of opinion regarding the next “Khalifah”. Because of Ibn Saba, the Egyptians wanted Hadrat ‘Ali (R.A.), but Kufites preferred Hadrat Zubair while Basrites were in favour of Hadrat Talha. The Egyptians came to Hadrat ‘Ali and requested him to accept the “Khilafat”. Hadrat ‘Ali replied, “The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) has told us that the parties of Dhi-Khashab, Dhi-Murwah and A’was are cursed. Every pious Muslim knows about it. I can’t co-operate with you. Go back to your places.” The insurgents from Kufa made the same request to Hadrat Zubair who also gave the same reply. The Basrites approached Hadrat Talha who also refused.
When Hadrat Uthman heard about the insurgents he sent some of the leading Companions including Hadrat ‘Ali to them. Hadrat ‘Ali assured the insurgents that their complaints would be listened to. They put certain demands including the dismissal of the governor of Egypt and appointment of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr as the new governor. Hadrat Uthman acceded to their demand without any question. Then he gave a short address in which he said, “By Allah, for the cause of truth, 1 am ready to obey even a slave. I promise to fulfil your demands.” Saying this tears rolled down the eyes of Hadrat Uthman, and the audience also wept.
Hadrat ‘Ali (R.A.) then again assured the insurgents and they seemed to be satisfied and started to go back. All the Muslims at Medina thought that the trouble had ended.
THE SIEGE OF KHALIFAH’S HOUSE
A few days later the Medinites were surprised to hear shouts of “Revenge”, “Revenge” in the streets of Medina. Hearing the shouts Hadrat ‘Ali came out to enquire about the matter. The insurgents showed a letter to him under the seal of “Khalifah” and signed by Marwan bin Hakm, the chief secretary of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). The letter was being carried to the Governor of Egypt by a special messenger whom they intercepted on the way. The letter said; “Uqtul Muhammad bin Abu Bakr” (i.e. Kill Muhammad bin Abu Bakr) instead of “lqbil Muhammad bin Abu Bakr” (i.e. Accept Muhammad bin Abu Bakr as governor).
Note: It seems that the “Nuqtab “(dot) of Arabic letter “Ba” was wrongly placed at the top giving it a letter similar to another letter “Ta” due to which the meaning was totally changed. But according to most of the historians the letter was intentionally written by Marwan about which Hadrat Uthman did not know. While some others say that was a plot of insurgents and they produced a forget letter. For the reason given in the Glorious Caliphate by Athar Husain the letter was a clean forgery.
Hadrat’Ali tried to pacify them but they did not listen to him and went straight to Uthman, saying: “We do not want Uthman (R.A.) to be the Khalifah. Allah has made his blood lawful for us. You should also help us.” Hadrat ‘Ali said, “By Allah, I have nothing to do with you. It seems that you have hated a plot and are trying to carry it out.”
When the insurgents went to Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) he took a solemn oath that he knew nothing about the letter. But they did not believe him and said, “Whether you wrote it or not, you are unfit to be the Khalifah and you must abdicate.” They threatened to kill him on which Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) replied, “I do not fear death, but I do not want to shed Muslim blood.”
When Hadrat’Ali saw that the insurgents were not in control and Hadrat Uthman did not want to use force against them, he left for Ahjar, a place few miles away from Medina, because his position was becoming difficult as the insurgents wanted to drag him in the dispute.
Afterwards the insurgents demanded Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) to give up the “Khilafat”. He rejected their demand and said, “I can’t take off the robe of honour with my own hands that Allah has bestowed upon me.” Consequently the insurgents laid a siege to his house and did not allow him to come out except for offering Salats in the Masjid. But later on they did not allow him to come out even for the Salats. The siege went on for forty days. During the last few days they also stopped supply of water. Some brave Muslim youths like Hadrat Hasan, Husain, Muhammad bin Talha, ‘Abdullah bin Zubair (R.A.) were guarding the gate of the house so that nobody among the insurgents could enter the house. Beside Hadrat Uthman and his wife, Nailah, Marwan bin Hakam was also in the house. He did not allow any person to fight with the insurgents although a fight took place between Hadrat Hasan, Husain and Marwan and the insurgents when they did not allow Umm-ul-mu’minin Hadrat Habibah (R.A.) to supply meals to Hadrat Uthman. Hadrat Hasan received minor injuries but Marwan was seriously hurt. However the insurgents did not fight with Hadrat Hasan and Husain because of the fear of Hashmites. During the siege Hadrat Uthman sent Abdullah bin ‘Abbas to Mecca to lead the Hajj and also to inform people about the insurgents. He also sent messengers to provincial governors.
When hardship grew, some eminent Companions like Hadrat Mughirah bin Shu’bah requested the “Khalifah” to take action against the insurgents and said that all the people of Medina were ready to fight for him but he did not agree to shedding of blood of Muslims. Then they proposed that he should leave the house through the back door and either go to Mecca or to Damascus where he would be safer but he accepted neither of the proposals. The things got worse day by day, and at last the crisis arrived.
MARTYRDOM OF HADRAT UTHMAN (R.A.)
The only weapon with Hadrat Uthman was his kindness and soft nature. He addressed several times the insurgents from the roof of his house and reminded them about his family relations with the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), and the services he had rendered to Islam but they never listened to him.
The insurgents were afraid that the Hajj was coming to an end and after the Hajj a number of supporters of the “Khalifah” would come to Medina. They decided therefore to assassinate him without delay. As stated before, they did not want to fight with Hashmites like Hadrat Hasan, Husain and ‘Abdullah bin Zubair who were standing guard at the main gate of Hadrat Uthman’s big residence. The reason not to fight with Hashmites was that they had incited a number of people against Banu Umayyah (Hadrat Uthman’s family) in favour of Banu Hashim (Hashmites). So the insurgents climbed the back walls of the house and entered the room where Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was reciting the Holy Qur’an.
On seeing Hadrat Uthman, one of the insurgents hit his head with an axe while the next struck him with a sword. His wife, Nailah tried to shield her husband but she also got several wounds and her fingers were chopped off. Chronicles record that Muhammad bin Abu Bakr was the leader of the assassins. He got hold of Hadrat Uthman’s beard and pulled it. On this Hadrat Uthman remarked, “0 my dear nephew if your father (Abu Bakr) were alive you would not have done this.” The remarks of Hadrat Uthman cut him to the quick and he turned back and did not take part in the assassination.
After giving severe injuries to Hadrat Uthman, one af insurgents, an Egyptian named ‘Amr bin Hamq cut off Khalifah’s head.
Hadrat Uthman (Radiallahu ‘Anhu) was assassinated on Friday, the 17th Dhul-Hijjah, 35 A.H. (the 17th July, 656 A.D.).
A GREAT MARTYR
Hadrat Uthman was a great martyr as prophesied in the following Hadith quoted by Bukhari and others
Hadrat Anas (R.A.) narrated that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), Abu Bakr,’Umar, and Uthman went up Uhud (the mountain near Medina) and when it quivered because of them the Holy Prophet kicked it with his foot and said, “Keep steady, 0 Uhud, for there are a prophet, a Siddiq and two martyrs on you.”
In the above Hadith, Hadrat Abu Bakr had been said as the Siddiq (friend) while ‘Umar and Uthman (R.A.) had been prophesied as the martyrs.
THE NEWS OF MARTYRDOM
The news of Hadrat Uthman’s cruel assassination shocked everybody. Hadrat’Ali (R.A.) received the news when he was returning from Ahjar to see Hadrat Uthman. He was stunned on hearing the assassination of Hadrat Uthman and exclaimed, “0 Allah, You know it, I am free from any blame.” He rebuked his sons Hasan and Husain (R.A.) and others who had stood guard at the gate for not being more alert.
After assassinating the Khalifah, the insurgents virtually took over charge of Medina. They also looted the “Baitul Mal”. Medinites were afraid of them and did not come out of their houses. The corpse of the “Khalifah” could not be buried for two days. At last some Muslims in succeeded getting into the house and carried out the burial service. There were only 17 Muslims who participated in the ‘Burial Prayers”. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was 82 years old at the time of his assassination and remained in the office of “Khilafas” for about 12 years. His words “I do not want to spill Muslim blood to save my own neck”, will be remembered for ever in the history of Islam. He sacrificed his life to save Muslim blood.
CONSEQUENCES OF ASSASSINATION
The assassination of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was unparalled in Islamic history and it had far reaching effects. Hadrat Hudhaifah (Rad.A) the secret keeper of Holy Prophet’s prophecies remarked on hearing the assassination of Hadrat Uthman, “Ah, the assassination of Uthman has divided the Muslims till resurrection, they would never be united again.” It proved to be true because just after the assassination civil war started and continued up to the tragedy of Karbala. At that time the Muslim community was divided into four groups
(i) Uthmanis: The Syrians and Basrites were in favour of capital punishment of the assassins. Syrians thought Hadrat Mu’awiyah the most suitable person to punish the assassins while the Basrites wanted the Khalifah from any of these two Talha or Zubair, as they were included in the panel appointed by Hadrat Umar to select the Khalifah.
(ii) Shi’an-i-’Ali: These people did not think Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) fit for “Khilafat” and called themselves as the “Shi ‘an-i-’Ali” i.e., the friends of ‘Ali. Kufans and some Egyptians were in this group. According to Sunni historians, the assassins were from amongst this group.
(iii? Murhibah: These were those people who were busy in “Jihad” (Holy Wars) at the time when Hadrat Uthman was assassinated. They said: “Neither we are with Uthmanis nor with Shi’as. We want to keep aloof from their differences.”
(iv) Ahl-i-Sunnah wal Jama’ah: These were the bulk of the Companions and the Muslims of various parts of the Islamic state including Mecca, Medina and other parts of Arabia. They said, “We love both Uthman and ‘Ali and consider them as righteous and pious Companions. We do not curse any of the Companions and the righteous Muslims. If any of the Companions committed a mistake it was due to his “Ijtihad” (his disciplined verdict based upon the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet) and he would not be questioned for it. We follow the Sunnah (ways) of the Holy Prophet and the Sunnah (ways) of his righteous jama’ah (i.e. the group of ail the Companions).
The first and the third viz. Uthmanis and Murhibah proved to be temporary political groups but the other two viz. “Shi’as” and “Ahli Sunnah wal Jama’ah” or Sunnis took the shape of permanent theological groups and still exist.
Hearing the news of Hadrat Uthman’s assassination Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (R.A.), a prominent commentator of the Holy Qur’an remarked “Allah might have stoned us as He stoned the people of Lot if majority of the Muslims supported the assassinations of Hadrat Uthman.”
Thamamah bin ‘Adi (R.A.) the governor of Yemen started to cry and weep hearing the news of the assassination of Hadrat Uthman. Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Salam (R.A.), well versed in the past scriptures, said: “By Allah, the power of the Arabs has finished now.” Hadrat ‘Aisha (R.A.), the most beloved wife of the Holy Prophet, said, “Ah, Uthman has been assassinated most cruelly. His record of deeds is shining like a well washed cloth.”
Hearing the news of the assassination Hadrat Abu Hurairah and Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit (R.A.) started to weep continuously and their tears did not stop for a long time.
The shirt of Hadrat Uthman, which was spotted with his blood, and the cut fingers of his wife, Nailah, were carried to Hadrat Amir Mu’awiyah (R.A.), the Governor of Syria, in Damascus. When they were shown to the Muslim public the whole gathering started to cry and shouted, “Revenge”, “Revenge”.
Mr. Joseph Hell, a Western historian says: “The assassination of Uthman was a signal for civil war.” Mr. Wellhausen, a German historian says, “The murder of Uthman was more epoch-making than, almost any other event of Islamic history.” Philip Hitti has remarked: “With Uthman’s death the political unity of Islam came to an end. Soon Islam’s religious unity was divided. Islamic society entered upon a period punctuated with schism and civil strife that has not yet ended.” A Muslim historian, Prof. K. Ali, writes, “Unity of Islam which was maintained by the first two “Khalifahs” was lost and serious dissensions arose among the Muslims.”
The assassination of Hadrat Uthman was followed by great civil wars and battles between the Muslims, the details of which would come later. The system of centralised government initiated by Hadrat ‘Umar and developed by Hadrat Uthman was shattered and a number of internal movements started of which the Kharijite’s movement was the most serious.
Hadrat Uthman’s reign constituted a glorious period in the history of Islam. The territories of Islamic state (caliphate) were immensely extended. Though the conquests during his time were not so much in number as during the time of ‘Umar, nevertheless they were not few. He ruled over a vast part of the then known world, right from Kabul (Afghanistan) to Morocco. He put down the rebellions with an iron hand.
During Hadrat Uthman’s period Muslim naval force was developed and Muslims started naval victories. The victory over the huge naval force of Byzantine Empire comprising 500 ships has been termed as the Grand Victory.
After the capture of North African territories by Muslims and gaining full control over Mediterranean, the mighty power of Byzantine and Roman Empire had collapsed. Actually Islam was at the zenith of its glory during the period of Hadrat Uthman.
OFFICIAL MANUSCRIPT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN
One of the magnificent services to Islam done by Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was to safeguard any possible change in the codex of the Holy Qur’an. After the conquests by the Muslims hundreds of thousands of non-Arabs, whose mother tongue was not Arabic, accepted Islam because of its teachings. Hadrat Hudhaifah (R.A.), one of the prominent Companions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), went for “Jihad” (Holy War) during that time and noticed many differences in the manner of recitation (Qira’t) of the Holy Qur’an. The Syrians recited in a way different from that of Kufis while the Kufis differed from Basris and so on. As a matter of fact these differences were due to the differences in the way of writing Arabic. Seeing this condition Hadrat Hudhaifah reported the matter to the Khalifah on his return from the “Jihad” and suggested that the Medinese codex should be regarded as authentic, i.e. the Holy Qur’an, which was written and compiled in Book form during the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) and was kept with Ummul-mumminin Hadrat Hafsah (R.A.). Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) took that Book from Hadrat Hafsah(R.A.) and canonised the Medinese codex. He asked Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit (R.A.), the person who wrote it during the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr, to make copies of the same with the help of some other Companions like Abdullah bin Zubair and Sa’d bin ‘As etc. Then he ordered all other copies, beside the Medinese codex, to be burnt and destroyed throughout the State. Those people who earned their living in the provinces as the receptacles and expositors of the sacred text were not pleased with this act. It has been discussed before that such persons criticised Uthman for burning unauthentic texts. However for this great service Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) is famous as the “Jami’ul-Qur’an” (The compiler of the Qur’an).
EXTENSION OF THE MOSQUE OF THE HOLY PROPHET(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam)
The mosque of the Holy Prophet was too small for the increasing Muslim population. He bought a big plot of land in the neighbourhood of the mosque, but some of the persons living in the nearby houses did not want to leave their places even for reasonable compensation. For four years no new construction was built. One day he gave an effective lecture after Friday Salat and the people agreed to donate their places. Then the mosque was extended in the year 29 A.H.
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) spent a lot of his time in preaching to the prisoners of war. Many of them accepted Islam because of his efforts. He also taught Islamic law to the Muslims. Once he himself demonstrated the correct method of making wudu before a large gathering of Muslims.
He took special care to send missionaries to various places and appointed teachers to teach Islamic law, the Holy Qur’an and Hadith. Persons were appointed to make the rows (Saffs) of worshippers straight during a congregational Salat specially on Fridays when the congregation was quite large.
CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS, BRIDGES, ROADS AND EMBANKMENTS
A number of new buildings were constructed for offices at various places. Rest houses were constructed on various high ways, and guest houses were built in various cities like Kufa.
For the welfare of the general public new bridges and roads were constructed, and general condition of various roads was improved. The roads leading to Medina were given special attention. He got tanks made, and wells dug up along many roads to supply water to the travellers.
Medina was not safe from floods. Sometimes the building of the Prophet’s mosque was in danger. Hadrat Uthman constructed a strong embankment along that side of the city which used to get flooded. This was known as the Embarkment of Mahroz.
UTHMAN (R.A.) AS A GREAT SCHOLAR
Hadrat Uthman had a beautiful handwriting because of which the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) appointed him as one of the scribes of the “Wahy” (Revelation).
His style of writing was well recognised among the Companions. Arabic knowing persons can recognise the fluency of his writings specially of the letters and the orders he sent to various officers during his Khilafat. Though he was not an orator but his way of lecturing was very effective. His addresses and lectures can be seen in history books.
Hadrat Uthman was a great scholar of the Holy Qur’an and was a “Hafiz”(i.e. the one who commits the whole Holy Book to memory). He was well versed in “Shan-i-Nuzul”i.e. the chronology of revelation of various verses and the chapters of the Holy Qur’an, and was considered an authority in this respect. He was one of the few Companions who excelled in deriving laws from the verses of the Holy Qur’an.
Although he was not a great jurist like ‘Umar and ‘Ali (R.A.) nevertheless he was well qualified in this respect. His verdicts and judgements have been mentioned in books. He was considered an authority on the laws of Hajj. Even ‘Umar (R.A.) asked Uthman about that during his time.
CHARACTER AND PIETY
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was a very pious Companion and a man of high character. He was the most modest of all the Companions. Once the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) was sitting with some of his Companions and the shin of this leg was not covered. In the meantime somebody informed him about the arrival of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu’Alaihi wa Sallam) immediately covered it and remarked: “Even the angels have regard for the modesty of Uthman”
He was a strict follower of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam). Somebody asked him the reason for smiling after wudu. He replied he had seen the Holy Prophet smiling after making wudu, so he smiled to follow him. Once he demonstrated to Muslims the correct way of making wudu according to the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam).
He used to fear Allah very much. Tears used to roll down his face because of Allah’s fear. Whenever the consequences to be faced in the grave were described before him, he used to weep so much that his beard could get wet with tears. Sometimes he wept and cried seeing a corpse or a grave because of fear of Allah. He used to say, “Grave is the first stage among all the stages of the Hereafter. If a person is successful there, he would be successful on the Day of Judgement too. If a person faces difficulty in the grave, other stages would also be difficult for him.”
He used to do household work although he was one of the wealthiest persons in the whole of Arabia. He would not wake his slave to take any help from him when he got up to perform “Tahajjud” Salat.
Hadrat Uthman was very soft spoken. If any person talked to him in a harsh tone he always replied gently. Once he was delivering “Khutbah” of Jumu’a Salat, a person shouted during the Sermon: “O Uthman, repent for Allah’s sake and keep away from going wrong.” He immediately turned his face towards the Qiblah and exclaimed, “0 Allah, I am the first to repent before Thee and to turn towards Thee.”
He never took any allowance from the “Bait ul-Mal” for his services as a Khalifah. Hadrat ‘Umar got 5,000 darhams annually as an allowance from the Public Treasury, thus Hadrat Uthman contributed 60,000 Drahms after his 12 years service, towards the Public Fund.
Examples of his generosity have already been given. He was the most generous among all the wealthy Companions and never hesitated to spend his money for the cause of Islam and Muslims. His house was one of the biggest in Medina which he built near the mosque of the Holy Prophet. He established a library in the back of his house for the education of the Muslims.
WIVES AND CHILDREN
Hadrat Uthman was first married to the Holy Prophet’s daughter, Hadrat Ruqayyah (R.A.) who died in Medina while the Holy Prophet was away on the expedition of Badr. Then he was married to the younger daughter of the Holy Prophet whose name was Hadrat Umm-i-Kulthum. She also died in the year 9 A.H. His first wife, Hadrat Ruqayyah bore him a son, Abdullah, who died at an early age. He had no child from Umm-i-Kulthum (R.A.).
After the death of his second wife Hadrat Umm-i-Kulthum, he married, the following ladies from time to time: Fakhtah bint Walid; Umm-i-’Amr bint Jundah; Fatimah bint Shaibah; Umm-i-Banin bint’Uwainah; Ramlah bint Shaibah; ‘Aishah; Umm-i-Aban; and Nailah bint Farafsah, his last wife whose fingers were chopped by the insurgents.
Eleven sons were born to him from different wives. Some of them died at an early age. One of his sons, Aban became famous and held high positions during the Umayyads. He had six or seven daughters.
ADMINISTRATION OF HADRAT UTHMAN (R.A.)
Hadrat Uthman observed the same principles in his government as were laid down by Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.). In the following lines some of the main features of his government would be described in brief.
“SHURA” (COUNSEL OF ADVISERS)
He maintained the Council of Advisers “Shura” in the same way as was maintained by the first two caliphs. The main members of his “Shura” were Hadrat ‘Ali, Zubair and Talha. General councils for consultations were also called from time to time. All the prominent Companions, governors and prominent officers were present in the general council (conference) held in the year 34 A.H. to consider the internal condition of the state.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE PROVINCES
Hadrat Uthman (R. A.) divided the state into various provinces according to a new plan. Before him, there were three provinces in the region of Syria viz. Syria, Palestine and Jordan. Hadrat Uthman combined all the three provinces into one — Syria and put it under the control of a single Governor — Mu’awiyah (R.A.). This was necessary and important from the point of view of defence. Hadrat Mu’awiya (R.A. ) was a good and intelligent administrator and was able to control the whole region in a better way. He also separated the post of Governor from that of the commander of the armed forces in various provinces. Separate officers were appointed for both the posts who were under the direct control of the Khalifah. However, in some cases this rule was not observed due to lack of suitable persons.
Though Hadrat Uthman was a soft natured gentleman, yet he did not condone the mistakes of his officers including the Governors. The details have already been mentioned in the preceding pages. On various occasions he sent commissions of enquiry.
On Fridays he used to come to the mosque long before the “Khutbah Adhan” to listen to the complaints of Muslims and to remove their difficulties. On the occasion of every Hajj he used to listen to the public about their difficulties and complaints against officers.
Following were the Officers (civil) at the time when Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was assassinated in 36 A.H.
1. Mecca — ‘Abdullah bin Hadrami
2. Ta’if — Qasim bin Rabi’ah Thaqafi
3. Yemen (with San’a as its capital) — Ya’la bin Munabbah
4. Syria — Hadrat Amir Muawiyah.
Following places were under the direct control of the governor of Syria. Each place was under the charge of an administrator
(a) Jordan — Abul A’war al-Salimi
(b) Hims (Homs) — ‘Abdur Rahman bin Khalid bin Walid, who was also the administrator of Jazirah (Mesopotamia).
(c) Palestine — ‘Alqamah bin Hakim.
5. Egypt—- ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d, who was also in charge of North African territories each of which was having its own administrative officer, under the governor of Egypt, Tripoli, Algeria and Morocco etc.
6. Basrah — ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir, who was also in charge of all the territories in Eastern Persia, each of which was having its own administrative officer, under the governor of Basrah: Balkh, Kabul, Herat, Samarkand, Sajistan, Arghiyan, and Turkmennistan etc.
7. Kufa — Abu Musa Ash’ari, who was also in charge of all the territories in Western Persia, each of which was having its own administrative officer under the governor of Kufa: Khurasan, Tabrastan, Azerbaijan (with Ash’ath bin Qais as the Administrative officer), Isfahan (with Sa’ib bin Aqra’y as the administrative officer), Hamdan (with Nasir as the administrative officer).
8. Qansirin (Asia Minor) — Habib bin Muslimah Fahri, who was also in charge of
Armenia, and Antalya etc.
Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit was the Qadi of Medina and Hadrat ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir was the Treasury officer in Medina.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE ARMED FORCES
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) kept the armed forces on the same pattern as was laid down by his predecessor. During his time there was a notable increase in the number of armed forces. Not only he increased the military power of the Islamic State (Caliphate) but also connected various military units with each other. For example when Hadrat Mu’awiyah (R.A.) needed reinforcement to face the Romans, the armies in Iran and Armenia were immediately moved to Syria. Hadrat Uthman established a number of new cantonments at Tripoli, Cyprus, Armenia and Tabrastan. Besides the central cantonments there were a number of small cantonments as well in various districts.
He had made arrangements for breeding and raising of horses and camels. Large pastures were reserved for the animals used for military purposes. The pasture at Rabdhah, near Medina was ten miles long and about nine miles wide. Another pasture near Medina at Darbah was six miles long. He built ponds near the pastures and houses for the caretakers. Number of camels and horses had immensely increased to meet the needs of the armed forces. There was 40,000 camels in one pasture alone at Darbah. The number of animals kept all over the vast Islamic State was stupendous.
He took special care of military personnel and increased their allowances. The civil departments were separated from the military departments.
One of the remarkable features in the development of military power during the period of Hadrat Uthman was the establishment of naval force. The Muslim navy was expanded and very well equipped. Amir Mu’awiyah (R.A.) played a very important role in this respect. He is the man who worked for the development of Islamic Naval force. Under his command the first naval battle took place in the history of Islam.
ADMINISTRATION OF PUBLIC TREASURY AND REVENUE
During the time of Hadrat Uthman the revenue of the State was greatly increased. The Kharaj of Egypt alone was two million Dinars annually during the time of Hadrat Umar but it increased to four millions annually during Uthman’s period. Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) used the entire public funds for the general welfare of the public. He increased the allowances given to various people and the poor. Not only this he also arranged for free distribution of food stuffs and cooked meals to the poor and disabled persons, during the month of Ramadan. He used a major part of the revenue in construction of bridges, roads, barrages, and mosques etc. He also fixed salaries for the Muadh-dhins (i.e. the persons who call Adhan) which had not been done by Hadrat Umar (R.A.).
NO USE OF FORCE AGAINST CIVILIANS
Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) showed an exemplary tolerance against the insurgents. By not using force against the civil public, he set the first example of the highest democratic rule in human civilisation. If studied from this point of view, it would be noted that Uthman (R.A.) was at the peak of modern democratic principles. It is unfortunate that the masses at that time were not trained for that highest form of democracy. They have had experienced in the past of the tyranny of Persian and Roman Emperors and their officers. However the base elements took advantage of the Islamic democratic principles and incited some of the Muslim population against the Khalifah. Hadrat Uthman used all the democratic principles, now prevailing in the modern society, to satisfy the insurgents. He gave before the public, full explanation of all the allegations brought against him, and the public was fully satisfied with his explanation. He acceded to the demands of the insurgents by appointing Muhammad bin Abi Bakr as the Governor of Egypt. But he did not resign because the majority of the Muslims were in his favour and only a few were the mischief-mongers. His words: “I do not want to spill Muslim blood to save my own neck” would be remembered for ever.