History of the Caliphs

By: Rasūl Ja’farīan

Translation by: Ali Ebrahimi

p. 160-164
As objections against ‘Uthmān were gradually intensified, some men explicitly used to stand up before ‘Uthmān in mosque and object to him. ‘Uthmān was obliged to use violence so as to calm them and this, in turn, would lead to more clash on the part of them. To ‘Urwa Ibn Zubayr, I witnessed that ‘Uthmān entered the mosque. Some people surrounded him and called him Na‘thal, old stupid man. Then, ‘Uthmān went up the pulpit and began to speak. Djahdjāh Ibn Sa‘d Ghifārī who was among those who swore allegiance to his family began to object. At the same time, the circumstances turned in a way that ‘Uthmān could not continue to speak, so he came down the pulpit and Sahl Ibn Hunayf said Friday prayer on that day.[1] Once objections against ‘Uthmān heightened, some Kūfiyāns and Egyptians departed for Medina at the request of the companions alongside in protest against the Umayya rulers of these cities. This crowd was beaded by ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn ‘Udays Balawī who was among those who swore allegiance to his family,[2]together with Muhammad Ibn Abī Hudhayfa. Ibn Shubba also carried a letter written by the Egyptians to ‘Uthmān prior to going to Medina. They notified the necessity for implementing the divine orders with regard to the Qur’ānic verses saying, You are claimant for being rightful to be obeyed by us, whereas based on Qur’ān, obedience to the one who disobeys Allāh is not permissible. If you obey Allāh, in consequence, we’ll soon find out that you have it in mind to perish yourself along with.[3] ‘Uthmān sent ‘Ammār there in order to calm the Egyptians. However, he was unaware that ‘Ammār himself after being sent to Egypt instigated people against ‘Uthmān. In the wake of ‘Ammār’s driving out, some people reckoned to be about 400 to 700 came into Medina. This group visited ‘Uthmān and his representative and set forth their demands as follows. Firstly, to return on-exile persons. Secondly, to pay the deprived’s rights. Thirdly, to act upon Qur’ān and the deprived’s rights. ‘Uthmān repented officially towards them and warned them to avert disunity.[4] In terms of ‘Uthmān’s agreements, a mutual treaty was written between ‘Uthmān and Imām ‘Alī who was made as an ambassador between people and caliph. Five clauses were laid out in this very treaty, among which three have been mentioned above, and the forth one is to observe justice in distributing and employing people who are worthy and strong enough to manage the affairs. Then, a number of the companions attested to this treaty.[5] This very action resulted in the Egyptians’ return.

Another cultural city for opponents was Kūfa. Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ās wrote to ‘Uthmān saying that some people who call themselves “readers” and are indeed stupid have thrashed my chief-police and thereby looked down on me.

‘Uthmān answered, “Send them to Syria in order that they might fight a war.”

After being sent to Syria, they got to grips with Mu‘āwiya. Hence, this induced Mu‘āwiya to send them to Hims. Yet, after a while since Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ās was sent away from Kūfa by people, they came back to Kūfa. It was then the Kūfiyāns enumerated ‘Uthmāns’ mistakes through a letter. This very letter together with the Egyptians’ letter is an indicative of the extent to which people made effort to shed light on caliph’s mind not withstanding that ‘Uthmān never catch on the fact. The Kūfiyāns’ letter was brought to Medina by Abū Rabi‘ at al-‘Anzī. Thereafter through a letter by ‘Uthmān, Sa‘d was ordered to give him twenty lashes and exile him to Damāwand mount.[6] Once the Egyptians returned to their own city, they met a horsman called Yuhanna and was ‘Uthmān’s slave who was riding rapidly to Egypt, they hold him and grabbed a letter from him. The letter had been sealed by ‘Uthmān and addressed to ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Sa‘d. as a matter of fact, he was ordered by ‘Uthmān to kill some protesters and put some others into prison and … This provoked protesters to return to Medina angrily. After coming back to Medina, first of all they went to Imām ‘Alī (a) who was the mediator of peace. Imām took their letter to ‘Uthmān. But ‘Uthmān swore that he has not written the letters; besides, he is kept uninformed of it. It is interesting to mention that the Umayyads and even ‘Uthmān himself blamed Imām by stating, He has written the letter so as to incite the people against caliph.[7] Word came that the Egyptians have Kūfa and 100 people from Basra came to Medina and besieged ‘Uthmān.

As Zuhrī states, “I asked Sa‘d Ibn Musayyib, How was ‘Uthmān killed and why did the companions downgrade him?”

He replied, “Once ‘Uthmān was in power, a discontent befell some of the companions, for he liked his own family, typically, he set an abundance of those who were not reckoned among the companions to work.” In consequence, his action gave rise to a hatred among the companions. In the second six-year term of caliphate, ‘Uthmān got the Umayya to take control of affairs; furthermore, he appointed ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Sa‘d to Egypt. Yet, the latter created an obligation on the part of the Egyptians. As a matter of fact, prior to this, ‘Uthmān had also some contacts with ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Mas‘ūd, Abūdhar and ‘Ammār which resulted in discontent on part of their tribes. Then, the Egyptians arrived in Medina. Imām ‘Alī (a) acted as an intermediary between them, thus it was determined that another figure will take the position of ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Sa‘d, namely Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr. ‘Uthmān signed for his sainthood and then they left the place. They met a horseman on the way who was carrying a letter concerning caliph’s bitter instruction to ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Sa‘d. it was then all the protesters returned to Medina angrily. Then, all the Medinans vented their wrath on ‘Uthmān; moreover, as for the people, public complex concerning what befell ‘Ammār, Abūdhar and ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Mas‘ūd developed. Imām ‘Alī along with a number of people went to ‘Uthmān. The handwriting indicated that the letter had been written by Marwān. Then, the protesters asked ‘Uthmān to hand over Marwān who is ordering to carnage so dauntlessly. However, ‘Uthmān avoided doing so. This very action caused people to besiege ‘Uthmān and shop him having water.[8]

A noteworthy point is that dissenters did not think of caliph’s assassination from the beginning. Rather, in the list stage they pled him to be dethroned. However, ‘Uthmān refused to be dethroned. It was the first time that caliph’s dethronement was spoken. The caliph, in what case, can dethrone himself or do the others have the right to do so? Such an issue was repeatedly posed during the caliphate history. But historically it was first raised when rebels asked ‘Uthmān to dethrone. ‘Uthmān, in response to their suggestion, said that God has granted caliphate to him and he is not willing to abdicate.

Quoting him, the Messenger(s) said to him, “O ‘Uthmān! God will put a garment on you and hypocrites of dethronement will ask you for it, don’t take it off until you join me.”[9]

This hadith is definitely a forged one and ascribed to ‘Uthmān and the Messenger(s). But ‘Uthmān, in essence, believed that caliphate is garment God put him on and he is not willing to take it off. Such a thing indicated that ‘Uthmān, by linking Caliphate to God, intends to deny public vole and their decision upon his dethronement.

When ‘Uthmān was suggested dethronement, he said, “Even if I’m beheaded, I’ll never abdicate.”[10]

‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Umar said, “He asked me in the time of ‘Uthmān’s siege, “What do you think of Mughīra Ibn Ākhnas’s suggestion?”

He said, “They want you to dethrone unless you’ll be murdered so you should leave it to them.”

‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Umar said, “I told ‘Uthmān, is there anything more important than your murder unless you dethrone?”

He replied, “No.”

I said, “To me, you’d better not include such an innovation in Islam that every time a group of rebels revolt in an aim to dethrone their emir; don’t take the garment of God has put you on!” [11]

Some who laid siege are heard to say that we just intend to dethrone him not to murder him; ‘Uthmān said, “Not my dethronement but my murder.”[12]

When Egyptian opponents, on their way back, found ‘Uthmān’s letter to ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Sa‘d, in which he was ordered to bother, annoy and murder opposes, they turned back to Medina. ‘Uthmān said that the letter writer was not him and then the fact that the main culpable was Marwān Ibn Hakam was cleared up. He was asked by the opponents to dethrone due to his incapability in government administration, but he rejected. [13]

Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr, later on, confirmed, “We wanted him to dethrone but he rejected.” [14]

According to another narration, ‘Uthmān sent for Mālik Ashtar and asked him, “What do people want me?”

Mālik said, “One of the two things, either to dethrone yourself and leave the caliphate for people or to retaliate yourself maybe it refers to the retaliation of annoyance done to Ibn Mas‘ūd, ‘Ammār and others; otherwise, you’ll be fighted.”

‘Uthmān said, “I shan’t take the garment off God put me on. Abū Bakr and ‘Umar were doing chastisement concerning retaliation and such a thing didn’t exist. But in the case of my murder, you’ll be in a lot of trouble.”[15]

During this time, ‘Uthmān asked different cities for help. He wrote a letter to people of Mecca to be read in ‘Arafa Day. In aforesaid letter, he wrote, “I’m under siege and I’ve got no food but a trivial supply. I adjure everyone to whom my letter is read to hasten for my help.” [16]

‘Āyisha was on her way to Hadjdj. Marwān was sent by ‘Uthmān to help him in people dispersion but she rejected.[17]

For forty days, ‘Uthmān was under siege and at last Friday early evening, the 18th Dhi l-Hadjdja, 35 A.H. he was murdered. His murderer’s name is not exactly specified. Someone’s name as Aswadān Ibn Hamrān from Tudjīb in Egypt was cited.[18]

Kunāna said, “I heard on Egyptian crying around ‘Uthmān’s house that he murdered Na‘thal but no one had anything to do with him.”[19]

Quoting ‘Urwa, ‘Uthmān’s corpse was in Hashsh Kawkab for three days but no one did prayer on it.[20] Afterwards, four people among whom were Djubayr Ibn Mut‘im and Hukaym Ibn Hizām assembled and buried him there out of Baqī‘ by night.[21]

[1] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1111
[2] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1155
[3] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1121
[4] Ibid, vol. III, pp. 1135-1137
[5] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, pp. 1137-1140
[6] Ibid, vol. III, pp. 1142-1143
[7] Ibid, vol. III, pp. 1150-1151, 1155
[8] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol.III, pp.1159-1161; Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, vol.I, p.229; al-Ghadīr, vol. IX, p.180.
[9] al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol. I, p. 61 Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. III, p. 66
[10] Tārīkh khalīfat Ibn khayyāt, p. 170, see Tārīkh al-islām, ‘Ahd al-khulafā’ al-rāshidīn, p. 445
[11] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. IV, p. 567, num. 1445. Tārīkh khalīfat Ibn khayyāt, p. 170. Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. III, p. 66.
[12] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. IV, p. 567 num. 1446
[13] Tathbīt Dalā’il al-nubuwwa, p. 573
[14] al-Ghārāt, p. 104
[15] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. III, pp. 72-73; Tārīkh Ibn Khayyāt, p. 170; al-Musannaf, Ibn Abī Shayba,vol. VII, p. 441, 514; Tārīkh al-islām, ‘Ahd al-khulafā’ al-rāshidīn, p. 446; see Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. II, p. 1286
[16] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1166; al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol. I, pp. 54-56; al-Futūh, vol. II, p. 217
[17] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1172
[18] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1231
[19] Ma‘rifat al-sahāba, vol. I, p. 253; Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1308
[20] Ma‘rifat al-sahāba, vol. I, p. 259
[21] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1166
Source: maaref-foundation.com


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