History of the Caliphs

By: Rasūl Ja’farīan

Translation by: Ali Ebrahimi

p. 154-160
After Imām ‘Alī was withdrawn with power in Saqīfa; besides, Imām’s efforts to bring power back came to a deadlock, he tried to maintain roots and branches of Islam as well as to keep down through his own religious knowledge. Meanwhile, he remembered his forgotten right in every appropriate atmosphere. The second caliph in spite of strictly employing his opponents attempted to solve judicial and in some cases political problems by using Imām’s scientific ability. Some examples of caliph’s consultation with Imām were previously mentioned. There are numerous narrations in sources concerning judicial problems, some of which are compiled by ‘Allāma Amīnī in the sixth version of al-Ghadīr under the title of “Nawādir al-Athar fī ‘Ilm ‘Umar”. In this regard, a scripture is in hand showing ‘Umar’s emphasis in judicial issue on acting Imām’s orders.[1]

In this respect, ‘Uthmān’s pride was so much so that we can hardly find any model for it in ‘Umar’s time. Previous enmities of the Umayyads and Hāshimites together with Badr, Uhud and killers of the Umayyads might have been influential in this case. Especially, ‘Uthmān’s enthroning was just followed by removal of Imām ‘Alī. ‘Uthmān’s distraction from the proper way and Imām’s insistence on defending right caused ‘Uthmān to be more hostile towards Imām ‘Alī (a).

Once ‘Uthmān determined to exile ‘Ammār, yet being objected by Imām, he answered, “You yourself are more deserving of exile!”[2] There are other examples of ‘Uthmān’s bitter treatment with Imām in sources.[3] According to Sa‘īd Ibn Musayyib, “I witnessed that a verbal clash occurred between ‘Alī and ‘Uthmān. ‘Uthmān held up the lash to knock ‘Alī, but I hindered.”[4] It’s been repeatedly quoted that ‘Uthmān would have objected Imām before ‘Abbās.[5] Imām’s resistance to ‘Uthmān’s wrong response induced ‘Uthmān to object Imām’s saying, [انك لكثير الخلاف علينا [6 “You put yourself in trouble for us again.”

Imām Sadjdjād quoted Marwān as saying, “I saw ‘Uthmān in the pilgrimage banning from performing the lesser pilgrimage in pilgrimage days. Consequently, such a thing caused Imām ‘Alī to become clothed in pilgrim garment for both lesser and greater pilgrimage.

‘Uthmān said, “There you do again while I’m forbidding.”

Imām replied, “I do not desist from the Messenger(s)’s Sunna for the sake of anyone.”[7] Apparently, the political conditions of ‘Uthmān’s time gave rise to more public criticisms. Perhaps, public accompaniment with these criticizing movements is one main reason. When Walīd Ibn ‘Uqba was brought to Medina to be punished, Imām allowing no one to punish him threw him on the ground, thereafter facing ‘Uthmān’s objection to his very action Imām began to punish ‘Uthmān in Walīd’s stead.[8] It can be found out from the whole events of anti-‘Uthmān revolts that opponents, for the most part, supported Imām in his candidacy for caliphate. Although some of them such as ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās, Talha and Zubayr were not willing to do so, Imām’s influence over opponents induced ‘Uthmān to take a dual line against him. On one part, ‘Uthmān believed Imām to be the major motive behind these incidents; on the other part, he having no alternative asked Imām to mediate and calm opponents, in so far as they listened to him.[9] According to some accounts, Imām was recognized as “the spokesman of opponents”.[10] Anyway, this fact neither meant that they were totally under the control of Imām, nor did it mean that Imām was for all their actions. The key question to be posed here is concerning Imām’s opinion on ‘Uthmān. It should be taken into account that Imām living among people who killed ‘Uthmān couldn’t speak freely.

Regarding Imām’s political opinion, it can simply be said that neither was Imām for ‘Uthmān’s killing, nor did he deem his killing advisable. Due to realizing that this was not but an action for Mu‘āwiya’s benefit, Imām tried to prevent from ‘Uthmān’s killing in any case. Even, at the outset, he made effort to reconciliate people with him and suppress the revolt. Once he said about his political supports, I backed ‘Uthmān to such an extent that I am afraid of committing any sin in this regard.[11] Later on he said that you killed ‘Uthmān while I was in my house.[12]

It’s better, though, to make a distinction between Imām’s “religious view” and “political view”. It’s likely that Imām believed ‘Uthmān to be deserving of such a treatment by people due to making deliberate errors regarding Islam and its rules together with destructing the circumstances of the community, although it’s impossible to comment precisely on this case. Yet some interpretations are possibly put on Imām’s explanations in this regard. Imām was once asked whether he implicated in killing ‘Uthmān or not. He replied, Allāh killed ‘Uthmān and I’m with Allāh.[13]

He further said, “Neither I liked ‘Uthmān to be killed, nor did I loathe his killing.”[14] He also added, I am neither happy nor sad about ‘Uthmān’s killing.[15]

Elsewhere Imām called ‘Uthmān “the element of all wrongdoers”.[16] When he was asked whether ‘Uthmān was killed in an oppressed manner or not, Imām answered, He sacrificed himself to the people of house in a very bad manner, and you treated him very badly.[17] Imām wrote to Kūfiyāns about his contact with ‘Uthmān, Now, I am appraising you of what befell ‘Uthmān so (correctly) that its hearing maybe like its seeing. People criticized him, and I was the only man from among the Muhādjirūn who asked him to seek to satisfy (the Muslims) the most and to offend them the least; Furthermore, Talha and Zubayr rushed, teased and debilitated ‘Uthmān very easily. Then, ‘Āyisha who was in a rage with him appeared as well and vented her wrath on him, in so doing she gave people an opportunity to overpower and kill him.[18]

At the time when being selected as an ambassador by people, Imām said to ‘Uthmān, “People are behind me and they have made me an ambassador between you and themselves. But by Allāh! I do not know what to say. I know nothing (in this matter) which you do not know, nor can I lead you to any matter of which you are not aware …. You should not behave as the carrying beast for Marwān so that he may drag you wherever he likes, despite your seniority of age and length of life.” ‘Uthmān answered, “Don’t ask people to grant me respite in order that I can compensate for my oppressive treatment towards them.”

Whereupon Imām said, “So far as Medina is concerned here is no question of time. As for remoter areas you can have the time needed for your order to reach there.”[19]

According to historians,[20] Imām considered Marwān as the major factor behind these movements.[21] Anyway, Imām was opposed to the murder of ‘Uthmān, primarily due to the dominance of people over their ruler which was, in itself, followed by a brawl. Inasmuch as it’s a tremendously risky task to have the mere feeling that it’s very simple to kill every ruler. Muslims recently heard of Sassanids’ experience concerning reigning of some kings in about several years and their immediate killing. Hence, ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Umar warned them, “Are you doing it heraclitusly, killing any king whenever growing angry with him?”

The selection of Imām by Medinans, those who entered Medina and some who played a crucial role in anti-‘Uthmān revolt induced the Umayyads to accuse Imām of killing ‘Uthmān. ‘Amr Ibn Hamiq Khuzā‘ī assuming to be one of the four who attacked ‘Uthmān’s house was ranked among the pure Shi‘ite Muslims.[22] The same is true with Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr. Likewise, once ‘Uthmān’s house was under siege, Imām said feast prayer. And when ‘Uthmān came in power, initially he said prayers and then he made sermon just like before. Yet, noting that people leave great mosque after sermon, he decided to make sermon at the outset, and say prayer in the end.[23] However, while saying feast prayer, Imām said prayer firstly and made sermon secondly.[24] It appears that Imām has said feast prayer without ‘Uthmān’s permission. Anyway, ‘Uthmān had confessed that he prefers ‘Alī to take charge rather than any body else.[25] When ‘Uthmān’s house was under siege, Sahl Ibn Hunayf said congregational prayer, perhaps by ‘Uthmān’s permission.[26] Imām was accused due to his presence in Medina in these circumstances. Thus, it’s been said that Usāma insisted on Imām’s going to Mecca or Yanbu‘.[27] Of course, in as much as Imām was a crucial factor for coping with the situations, his leaving of Medina did not seem to be reasonable.

Imām repeatedly rejected the blame for ‘Uthmān’s killing attributed to him, anyhow, ‘Uthmānids’ propagation was to the extent that it occasioned Djamal and Siffīn. Walīd Ibn ‘Uqba, the wrongdoer, addressed Banū Hāshim in a poem, هم قتلوه حتى يكونوا مكانه “Banū Hāshim killed ‘Uthmān so as to take his place.[28]“

He further said, “Walīd had the most hostile manner towards Imām”; moreover, according to Nasr Ibn Muzāhim’s poems, Walīd instigated Mu‘āwiya to wage a war against Imām ‘Alī (a). this apart from his father’s murder in Badr was due to enforcing punishment of drinking on him by Imām in front of people and ‘Uthmān.[29] ‘Uthmān himself put the blame on Imām, on account of opponents’ attention to him. He has even revealed ironically in his poem that he is looking forward to Imām’s killing.[30] This was suggested to him by Marwān Ibn Hakam, the sinner, the evildoer. Marwān has been quoted as saying to people, “At the outset, a handful of people came from Egypt, yet they were ordered to come back and assemble a large multitude.”[31]

Imām repeatedly refused to have any role in ‘Uthmān’s murder saying, “If I know that the Umayyads believe something through swearing, I would swear to the Black Stone and the status of Ibrāhīm that I did not kill ‘Uthmān.”[32]

Imām wrote to Mu‘āwiya, “If one judges me, he will certainly imagine that I am the purest man.”[33]

He further said, “I did not kill ‘Uthmān, nor did I order to kill him.”[34]

Verily, Ibn Sīrīn said, “‘Alī was accused of ‘Uthmān’s assassination while being selected as caliph.”[35] Ibn Shubba has allocated a full chapter to Imām’s statements concerning his refusal of any implication in killing ‘Uthmān.[36]

It seems interesting to note that despite all these remarks, ‘Uthmān sought assistance just from Imām and no one else.[37] Typically, when ‘Uthmān was stopped having water by Talha, he asked Imām for help. Accordingly, Imām came to Talha and requested him to let water into ‘Uthmān’s house. Then, he got his son to take a bowl of water to ‘Uthmān.[38] Afterwards, in Karbalā Ibn Ziyād ordered not to let Imām Husayn drink any water, as regards ‘Uthmān was stopped having water when under siege. Under these circumstances in which no one was able to help ‘Uthmān, nor did he dare to do so, it was Imām who came to his assistance. Ibn Shubba has labeled a chapter as ‘Uthmān’s asking Imām ‘Alī for help.[39] Another good-to-know note is that Mālik, as one of the extreme adherents of Imām, attempted to release ‘Uthmān from (being under) siege with the help of Hūdadj Umm Habība, while his house was under siege.[40] Though, not being allowed to enter the house by the besiegers, he seemingly intended to save him from the besiegers in secret. The final word of Ibn Shubba in his chapter is that, in Siffīn, Imām did not accept in the presence of ‘Uthmān’s representatives that ‘Uthmān has been killed oppressively.[41] Consequently, his very statement meant that Imām seems to be guilty at any rate.

[1] Sayyid Radī, al-khasā’is, p.59
[2] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, pp. 54 -55
[3] al-Kāmil fi l-adab, vol I, p. 22
[4] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. II, p. 132
[5] al-Muwaffaqiyyāt, p. 611; ‘Uyūn al-akhbār, vol. III, p. 92
[6] Musnad Ahmad, vol. I, p. 100
[7] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1043
[8] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol. II, p. 165; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 33
[9] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 61
[10] Ibid, p. V, p. 26
[11] Subhī, Nahdj al-balāgha, p. 358
[12] al-Djamal, p. 417
[13] ‘Uyūn al-akhbār, vol. II, p. 207
[14] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 101; Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. III, p. 82
[15] al-Ghadīr, vol. IX, p. 29; Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 12633 ما امرت ولانهيت ولاسرني ولا ساءني قتل عثمان I neither ordered nor hindered anyone, he neither respected me nor did wrong to me.
[16] al-Muwaffaqiyyāt, vol. XIII; Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, vol. IX, p. 17
[17] Nathr al-durr, vol. I, p. 274; al-Aghānī, vol. VI, p. 233; ‘Abd, Nahdj al-balāgha, sermon 27
[18] Nahdj al-balāgha, letter 1
[19] Nahdj al-balāgha, sermon 164
[20] al-Fakhrī, p. 98
[21] Nahdj al-sa‘āda, vol. IV, p. 27
[22] Usd al-ghāba, vol. IV, p. 100. he was martyred by Mu‘āwiya’s agents in 50 A.H. and his head was sent to Syria. His tomb was made by Hamdāniyān in Mūsil. Thereafter, an ample clash befell between Shi‘ite Muslims and ‘Uthmānids.
[23] Musnad Abī Dāwūd, vol. I, p. 297; Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 964
[24] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1216
[25] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1206
[26] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1218
[27] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1211
[28] al-Kāmil fi l-adab, vol. III, p. 38; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 104
[29] al-Futūh, vol. II, p. 350
[30] Nathr al-durr, vol. I, p. 63; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 62
[31] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 89
[32] Ibid, vol. V, p. 81
[33] Waq‘at Siffīn, p. 29
[34] Ibn Abī Shayba, al-Musannaf, vol. XV, p. 228; see Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. V, p. 100
[35] Ibn Abī Shayba, al-Musannaf, vol. XV, p. 229
[36] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1285
[37] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. III, p. 82; Rabi‘ al-abrār, vol. I, p. 415
[38] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol. III, p. 1202
[39] Ibid, vol. III, pp. 1219-1223
[40] Ibid, vol. III, p. 1313
[41] Waq‘at Siffīn, pp. 201-202
Source: maaref-foundation.com


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