We did not go into details about the history of Islam, or the tribulations that struck the Islamic nation during 632-80 as these can be read in many related Ahle Sunnah books. We have discussed briefly certain events of great significance during this period. Correct comprehension of these issues is very important because a slight misunderstanding will have profound affect on Sahih Iman. It is important that we safeguard our Iman from the extreme opinions of Shias, Salafis, Ikhwan, Deobandis and their like minded groups.
We have refrained from expressing our personal opinions throughout these articles. We have described facts as contained in authentic History books/Islamic literature. Ahadith, Quranic verses and scholars’ opinions have been cited all through the articles. If you think some information related to a particular issue has been left, please write to us, giving authentic references. We will try to accommodate it as far as possible. Please note that these articles are aimed at clearing the misunderstanding on historical issues. We hope our readers will greatly benefit from this effort.
There are 13 articles in this series which cover various misunderstandings and differences of opinions about the happenings during 48 years, immediately after the death of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). For better understanding, it is important that you read these articles in the same sequence, from part 1 to 13.
HADHRAT UTHMAN (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)
Hadhrat Uthman’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was born in Makka in 577. He wasthe fourth person to accept Islam after Hadhrat Abu Bakr, Hadhrat Ali and Zayd Ibn Harith (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین ).
Prophet Mohammad’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) two daughters, Sayyida Ruqayya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا), and Sayyid Umm Kulthum (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا)were married to two sons of Abu Lahab; namely, Utbah Ibn Abu Lahab, and Uthabah Ibn Abu Lahab. After the declaration of Prophet-hood, Abu Lahab instructed his sons to leave their wives. At that time their marriages were not yet consummated. When the marriages were broken, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) married Sayyida Ruqayya(رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) to Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ).
Sayyida Ruqayya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) died in 624. A year later, Prophet(صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) married his second daughter Umm Kulthum (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) to Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) in 625. This is the reason Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is known as ( ذو النورين – Dhun Noorain ) (the possessor of two lights).
Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) participated in many battles alongside the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). He was very rich and extremely generous. In 630 when Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) decided to lead an expedition to Tabuk on the Syrian border all Sahabah were invited to contribute for the expenses. Hadhrat Uthman(رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) made the single largest contribution of 1,000 dinars in cash, 1,000 camels for transport, and horses for the cavalry.
Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is best known for forming a committee during his Caliphate which produced multiple copies of the text of Qur’an. For this purpose he obtained complete manuscript of the Qur’an from Ummul Momineen Hafsah (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا), who was entrusted to keep the manuscript ever since the Qur’an was compiled by Hadhrat Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) during his Caliphate. Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) summoned leading compiling authority, Zayd bin Thabit (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), and some other companions to make copies of the manuscript. Several copies of the manuscript were made and each one was sent to every Muslim province with the order that all other Quranic material, fragmentary or otherwise be destroyed. At that time the Islamic State was divided into 12 Provinces: (1) Madina, (2) Makka, (3) Yemen, (4) Kufa, (5) Basra, (6) Jazira, (7) Faris, (8) Azerbaijan, (9) Khorasan, (10) Syria, (11) Egypt, and (12) Efriqya (Northern Africa).
Hadhrat Uthman’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) Caliphate
Hadhrat Abu Bakr’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) Caliphate lasted for two years (632-34), while the Caliphate of Hadhrat Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) lasted for 10 years (634-44). In 644 Hadhrat Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was martyred while he was leading the Fajr Salah in Masjid e Nabawi. Before his death, Hadhrat Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) formed a Committe of 6 men (1) Hadhrat Ali, (2) Hadhrat Uthman, (3) Hadhrat Abdur Rahman bin Awf, (4) Hadhrat Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas, (5) Hadhrat Zubayr Ibn al-Awam, and (6) Hadhrat Talha bin Ubaidullah (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین ). After the death of Hadhrat Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), the Committee deliberated and selected Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)as the successor.
Hadhrat Uthman’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) Caliphate lasted for 12 years, between 644-56. During the first half of his Caliphate there was relative calm, but in the later half of his Caliphate he met with increasing opposition. Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was wealthy and extremely generous. His generosity was appreciated by people while he was not Caliph. But when he took over as Caliph, his generosity was viewed with suspicion. It is a well known fact that he used his personal wealth in helping people and did not touch the treasury. He did not draw any allowance from the treasury nor did he receive a salary during his Caliphate. At the time of his martyrdom, he had only two camels left for use for Hajj as he had donated his entire wealth among the needy during his Caliphate. But people spread false stories among masses that he is favoring his people using his office and treasury.
Hadhrat Uthman’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) life as Caliph was foretold by Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).
It is in Hadith – Narrated by Hadhrat Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) : The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said : “I entrust to you the well-being of my Companions, and that of those that come after them. Then falsehood will spread.(Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah)
Hadhrat Usman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was very gentle and forgiving; often overlooking the faults of others. This made the provincial governors and other officers overbold. Taking advantage of the soft attitude of the Khalifa, Marwan bin Hakam; a close relative of Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) infiltrated the Caliphate, won the trust of the Khalifa and became his Secretary. Gradually he started taking independent decisions in the name of the Caliphate. History records that Marwan was the person behind relaxing strict disciplinary rules for Governors that were in place during the Caliphate of Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). Marwan enjoyed the trust of the Caliph and was free to use the official stationery and stamps of the Caliphate. His letter to the Governor of Egypt, using Caliphate stationary and stamp without the knowledge of the Caliph fanned the deteriorating situation in Madina and resulted in the martyrdom of Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) in 656 AD.
Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) stripped Marwan of all official positions during his Caliphate. He was also arrested for his role in the battle of Camel. After his arrest, it is reported that he approached Hadhrat Hassan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and Hadhrat Hussain (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and expressed profound regret for his past actions and promised to give allegiance on the hands of Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). Hasnain karimain (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم), communicated his repentance to Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and based on his assurances, he was set free. (Nahjul Balagah – page 102). However, when Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) occupied the Caliphate, Marwan was rewarded lavishly. He was also made Governor of Madina. Marwan eventually became fourth Umayyad ruler after Muawiya II.
The Saba’its, Qurras and Kharijites all played destructive role in creating anarchy during Hadhrat Usman’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) caliphate. When we look at the role of Abdullan bin Sabah ( a Jew convert) and his associates known as Saba’its, we realize that it was similar to the role played by the present day Zionists in our times. When we look at the roles of Qurras and Kharijites during Hadhrat Uthman’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) time, we realize that it was similar to the role played by Salafists and their like minded groups in our times. Qurras, Saba’its and Kharijis also troubled Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) during his Caliphate. They brought the downfall of Rightly Guided Caliphate (Khilafat e Rashida) of the Islamic State.
While trouble was brewing all over the Islamic State, the Province of Syria was quite. There were no complaints about the Caliph from Syrian people. There were no protests in Syria either against the Caliph or against the Governor. When rioters surrounded the Caliph’s residence and continued the siege for 7 long weeks, the only province that could come forward to help the Caliph was Syria. But this help was not forthcoming. There are differences of opinion among people on this issue.
(i) Some people say that the Governor was sincere and he followed Caliph’s instructions not to send Syrian troops to Madina because that would have resulted in street fighting in Madina resulting in a lot of deaths. However, he was continuously in touch with the Caliph. And a military escort was eventually sent by the Governor, but it was too late. The Caliph was assassinated by then and the military escort returned back half way.
(ii) Some people say that the Syrian Governor Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) was the key figure behind the disturbances. This was the reason his Province was quite while the trouble spread everywhere else. Marwan was Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) man working as Secretary of the Caliph. This is the reason Marwan was lavishly rewarded during Muawiya’s ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) time. Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) made him Governor of Madina during his rule. The entire net was spread by the Governor of Syria Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ). The Sabaits were fully under his control and he knew how to exploit stupid Qurras/Kharijites to his advantage. He continued his network operations during Hadhrat Ali’s ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) Caliphate and eventually captured the Islamic State from the back door and re-established their dynastic rule. Muawiya’s ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) family ruled Makka before the conquest of Makka. Therefore his aim was to re-establish his dynastic rule once again. This was the reason Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ )made sure his son Yazid ( لعنة الله عليه ) to become Caliph after him.
Hadhrat Uthman ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) indeed refused to accept any help, but in spite of that, Hadhrat Ali ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ )asked his sons to guard the house of the Caliph against the rioters. He did that against the wish of the Caliph. He did not mind his own sons being killed while protecting the Caliph. This shows the model of conduct of our Khulafa e Rashideen. Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) was in a better position to ensure Caliph’s safety. The Syrian troops could have surrounded the Caliphs house by creating a barricade for the rioters preventing them from going near the Caliph’s house. Seeing the Army in action, the rioters would have come back to the negotiating table and guided to go home peacefully. Syrian military coming to Madinah in the eleventh hour was a sham, an eye wash to show solidarity on the face, and stabbing the Caliph in the back through hired rioters.
After Hadhrat Uthman’s ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) assassination, his blood stained shirt and the severed fingers of his wife which were cut by the rioters’ sword were transported to Syria. The blood stained shirt and the fingers were displayed in front of the people in Syria. They were incited to take revenge on the assassins. A mass scale frenzy was created in the entire Islamic State, particularly in Madina, which was aimed at harassing and pushing the new Caliph to a corner. Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) knew, Hadhrat Ali( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) alone was not able to catch the criminals. They were spread all over the place. Many of whom were in Egypt and Syria under Muawiya’s ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ )patronage. Hadhrat Ali ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) needed time and support of all. If Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) helped him in this endeavor it could have been achieved easily. Instead, Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) became the leader of a united opposition and orchestrated a smear campaign claiming that the Caliph was protecting the assassins. It was a catch 22 situation for Hadhrat Ali ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ). If he attempted to arrest the assassins, he would have ended up in a civil war. Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) would help the criminals secretly as he did during Hadhrat Uthman’s ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) siege and murder. If he did not arrest them, then Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) would create a bigger trouble for him with his smear campaign and create divide between Sahabah and incite them to fight with each other. The battle of Camel was the result of this smear campaign. Hadhrat Ali ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) had no escape. He was well aware of these facts. But he was a born fighter. He was trained under the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) right from his childhood. He fought till the end and tried to protect the Caliphate from falling into the wrong hands.
Ad-Dahabi wrote in his book “Siyar A’alam Al-Nabula” about the battle of Siffeen – قلت : قتل بين الفريقين نحو من ستين ألفا وقيل : سبعون ألفا . وقتل عمار مع علي ، وتبين للناس قول رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- : تقتله الفئة الباغية (Meaning – In my opinion about60 to 70 thousand people died and Ammar Yasir ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) was killed fighting on the side of Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) and this demonstrates what the Prophet(صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said (to Ammar Yasir – رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ): ‘you will be killed by the rebels!’) (Hadith Bukhari)
Before that, in the battle of Camel, over 10 thousand people died. During the rule of his son Yazid, their Army ransacked Makka and Madina and over 10 thousand people were killed. Meaning, an estimated 100,000 people were killed by the father and the son. Most of the martyres were Ahle Bait, Sahabah and taba’een.
Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti wrote in his book ‘The History of the Rightly Guided Caliphs’ (Tareekh ul Khulufa al – Rashideen) as follows:
“In the year 63 H. Yazid was involved in ransacking Madina, killing a generation of the Companions, and in desecrating and robbing Madinah. Masjid e Nabawi was filled with dead bodies and no one could perform Salah for days. After creating carnage in Madina in the incident of Harrah, the army of Yazid proceeded to Makkah and overpowered Zubair’s (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) army. In Makka, Yazid’s Army destroyed Ka’abatullah and committed unthinkable war crimes.”
It is in Hadith – Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, whoever terrifies the people of Madinah, upon him is the curse of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی), that of His angels and that of all the people of the world. (Muslim).
The famous Ahle Sunnah Imam al-Barzanji (1640-1703), the Chief Mufti of Madinah (buried in Jannat ul Baqi) wrote in his book “Ishrat al-Sa’a” as follows:
QUOTE – It was a false pretext of Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) to justify his fight with Hadhrat Ali ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) under the guise of revenge for the murder of Hadhrat Uthman ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) because when he completely attained the power and became ruler of the whole State, he never opened the case of the murder of Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) and did not arrest the murderers though he claimed earlier that the killers were still around. This proves that all his fight was for worldly rule under the deceit of revenge for the murder. – UNQUOTE
Ibn Kathir wrote in his famous book al-Bidaya wan Nihaya as follows:
Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) was not appointed with the consensus of Muslims at large as was the case with his predecessors. Despite this Muawiya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ )wanted to be the Khalīfa and he fought for this position and became ruler by force. When he imposed his Caliphate on people, they had no choice but to give him bay’a. If people did not give him bay’a, they would not only lose their positions/jobs but also would have lost their lives. It would have been a catastrophe for them. People would rather give bay’a than confront these consequences. That is why Imam Hasan ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) stepped down and other Sahaba joined him so as to avoid the risk of civil War amongst Muslims. Muawiyya ( رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ ) was well aware of this strategy. (Al-Bidaya wan-Nihaya, Vol 8, P 132).
(iii) As far as we Ahle Sunnah are concerned, we say, be that as it may; it is consensus (Ijma) of Ahle Sunnah Ulema that Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was a Sahabi and respect of Sahabah is mandatory. Therefore, we keep our mouth shut in his case. We neither praise him nor condemn him. We will not be questioned about what Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) did during his life time. Whatever happened, we leave it to Allah. He knows it all. However, it is a good idea to know historic facts from authentic Ahle Sunnah Ulema, it helps in keeping our Sahih Iman intact. Read more …
Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) did not use iron hand in curbing false rumors spread against him by trouble makers; rather he took a conciliatory approach. Unlike Hadhrat Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) often dealt kindly with the rebels and criminals. He gave numerous explanations for his rightful actions which were ignored by his detractors. His kindness allowed the trouble makers to fan dissent and revolt among people. He was eventually martyred in 656 by the rioters who had laid siege of his house demanding for his ouster.
We have discussed detail events that culminated in the martyrdom ofHadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), in a separate Article. Follow this link.
Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was foretold about the troubles he will face and he knew he will be martyred.
(1) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Abu Sahla. Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) said: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) took a covenant from me (not to fight at the time of my martyrdom) and I shall fulfill it”. (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, al-Hakim, and Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat – 3:66 – all with sound chains).
(2) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Ummul Momineen Aisha(رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا): The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said : “O `Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)! It may be that Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) shall vest you with a shirt. If they demand that you remove it, do not remove it. ( Ibn Hibban, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, all with sound chains).
Tirmidhi narration adds, “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم)repeated it three times.” Another sound version in Ahmadstates: “If the hypocrites ask that you remove it, do not ….”
(3) It is in Hadith – Narrated Abu Musa (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) : While I was with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) in one of the gardens of Medina, a man came and asked me to open the gate. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said to me: “Open the gate for him and give him the glad tidings that he will enter Paradise.” I opened the gate for him, and behold! It was Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). I informed him of the glad tidings the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) had said, and he praised Allah.
Then another man came and asked me to open the gate. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said to me: “Open the gate and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise.” I opened the gate for him, and behold! It was Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). I informed him of what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) had said, and he praised Allah.
Then another a man came and asked me to open the gate. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said to me: “Open the gate for him and inform him of the glad tidings of entering Paradise with a calamity which will befall him.” Behold! It was Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). I informed him of what Allah’s Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) had said. He praised Allah and said, “I seek Allah’s aid.” (Bukhari)