Ali's silence over the caliphate
Ali's silence in the matter of the Caliphate was not due to the absence of friends and supporters but, out of respect for the wishes of the Holy Prophet; he did not press further his right to the Caliphate.
On hearing the news of the Holy Prophet's death, Abu Sufian came to Medina and, accompanied by Abbas Bin Abdul Muttalib, called on Hazrat Ali. He expressed his views on the Caliphate of Hazrat Abubakr thus: "Ali! Bani Taim (The tribe of Hazrat Abubakr), cannot rule over us. You are the only one suited to be our Caliph. Make use of this opportunity and wage a war against Abubakr. I swear to submit my allegiance to you and to provide all assistance that may be required".
Being fully aware of Abu Sufian's evil intentions towards the Holy Prophet and Islam in the past, and finding him a cheap opportunist with hatred, greed and racialism in his breed, Hazrat Ali refused to accept his proposal.
Moreover, he knew that to wage a war would be detrimental and not beneficial to the cause of Islam. It was to avoid endangering Islam that he refused to fight against Hazrat Abubakr. So he preferred .to observe complete silence in the matter. (Tareekh Kamil).
Even if Abu Sufian had not offered his assistance to him for over-throwing the Caliphate of Hazrat Abubakr, and had his aim had not been for the welfare and prosperity of Islam, Hazrat Ali could well have taken care of the situation, having the support of the staunch followers of the AhI-uI-Bait, such as Abu Zar Gbifari, Ammar Yasir, Salman, Miqdad and the other prominent members of the Hashimite family.
Before his death on 22nd Jamadi-ul-Akhar 13 A.H., Hazrat Abubakr nominated Hazrat Omar as his successor, contrary to the principal laws of democracy stressed by the Muslims who had assembled at Saqifa Bani Sa'da.
Thus Hazrat Ali's right was usurped for the second time in succession. In spite of this, he helped the ruling Caliph in religious as well as other matters referred to him and which could not be otherwise solved. So sound were his judgments and his advice based on the Holy Quran that Hazrat Omar ordered' the interpreters of the Verses of the Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet to refrain from giving their opinion while Hazrat Ali was amidst them. Hazrat Omar died on 29th Zilhajj, 23 A.H. and Hazrat Osman was elected as the third Caliph by a Council of Electors consisting of six members appointed by the dying Caliph. John Bagot Glubb says in his book The Great Arab Conquests, "Osman had been a failure as Caliph. He had proved too weak to control the turbulent and factious spirit of the Arabs, especially at a time when an almost unbroken succession of victories had rendered them more than usually intractable. His was a limited mental outlook, unable to grasp the big issues and dominated by his greedy relatives. He himself lived comfortably and accepted presents, though doubtless (his primitive luxuries were negligible in comparison with) those of the former rulers of Byzantine and Madain.
Hazrat Ali continued assisting the ruling Caliph with the same perseverance as in the past, until Hazrat Osman was murdered. At this critical moment, when the angry groups of Muslims had besieged the house of Hazrat Osman, no one dared to protect the helpless Caliph.
"But in the words of Amir Ali in The History of the Saracens, "Osman was bravely defended by Ali and his sons and dependants, and the insurgents had great difficulty in making any impression on the defenders. At last two of the besiegers scaled the wall, and there killed the aged Caliph.
Writings of some Historians on the death of Osman.
"For a few days after the murder of Osman , writes John Bagot Glubb, "Medina was an anarchy with the mutineers in complete control.... Ali was pressed to accept the Caliphate both by the companions of the Prophet- the now venerable elders of Medina-and by the insubordinate troops who virtually controlled the city. Six days after the murder of Osman, Ali was proclaimed Caliph in Medina. The majority of the citizens, including Talha and Zubeir took the oath of allegiance to him".
Eric Schroeder in Mohammad's People', published in England (1955) says, "Five days after the murder of Caliph Osman, the people gathered together and decided; We know no one better to be Imam and Caliph than Ali but he will not take the burden, answered some, press him home till he consents'. They all gathered at Ali's house with such eagerness that they were pushing and crushing each other; they called Ali out, and said, If we go to our homes again without an Imam and a Caliph such a strife will stir as will never again be stilled; you will have to consent to be our Imam and Caliph of God.' Ali replied, small longings have I for this authority, yet the believers must have a chief; and right gladly will I accept the temporal authority of another, even Talha.' Nay, thou hast more right than I, said Talha. One who stood near by forced open Ali's palm and Talha swore the oath of allegiance to Ali. Zubeir did likewise, and from his house they brought Ali to the mosque and everybody once again thronged round him to swear the oath of allegiance to him as their Imam and Caliph.
(Professor Sedillot in Histories des Arabes' says, "It might have been thought that all would submit themselves before his glory; so fine and so grand; but it was not to be.)"
When the Consultative Committee (or Shura) decided to swear allegiance to `Uthman, Amir al-mu'minin said:
You have certainly known that I am the most rightful of all others for the Caliphate. By Allah, so long as the affairs of Muslims remain intact and there is no oppression in it save on myself I shall keep quiet seeking reward for it (from Allah) and keeping aloof from its attractions and allurements for which you aspire.
When Amir al-mu'minin learnt that the Umayyads blamed him for killing `Uthman, he said:
Umayyads's knowledge about me did not desist them from accusing me, nor did my precedence (in accepting Islam) keep off these ignorant people from blaming me. Allah's admonitions are more eloquent than my tongue. I am the contester against those who break away from Faith and the opposer of those who entertain doubts. Uncertainties should be placed before Qur'an, the Book of Allah (for clarification). Certainly, people will be recompensed according to what they have in their hearts.
The Electoral Convention produced its expected conclusion. Othman became the Third Caliph. As a companion, Othman was not less than his two predecessors: Abu Bakr and Omar. He was a member of the fourth ten of the early Muslims (among the first 40 Muslims). His Islam was earlier than that of Omar, and before his conversion he was not as violent as Omar in opposing Islam. He had a distinction which neither of his two predecessors had: being the son-in-law of the Messenger, twice. He married Ruqayah, one of the daughters of the Prophet. The fruit of this marriage was a son named Abdullah who died at the age of six after the death of his mother. After Ruqayah, Othman married her sister, Om Kulthoom. She also did not live long with him. She died during the life of her Holy father.
Othman did not attend the Battle of Badr. He was in Medinah, helping his sick wife Ruqayah who died before the return of her Holy father from the battlefield. Othman attended the Battle of Ohod and other battles. History does not record any physical participation on his part in a fight at any battle. Like the majority of the companions, he deserted the Prophet during the Battle of Ohod. He returned to the Prophet after the battle ended, and he was one of the companions who were forgiven by the Almighty according to the Holy Qur'an. "Those who turned their back on the day the two hosts met, it was Satan who caused them to fall, because of some evil they have done. But God has blotted out their sin. For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing". (Chapter 3, verse 155.)
Othman was not a warrior, but he was charitable. He participated effectively in funding the army of Tabuk. It is reported that he brought to the Messenger a thousand dinars (equivalent to ten thousand dollars), to be spent in financing the military mission. He did other charities.
Othman came to power at the end of the twenty-third year after the Hijrah (644). His reign started after he passed seventy and continued for twelve years.
During the first six years of his reign, the affairs of his administration went well. The Muslims achieved many victories during this period. They were still in a state of war with the two prominent Empires of that time: The Persian and Byzantine Empires. What was left of the Persian Empire during the reign of Omar came into the Islamic Dominion. North Africa was also detached from the Roman Empire to become a part of the Muslim State. The Third Caliph lifted the ban against military use of the seaways. An important Islamic fleet was built in the Mediterranean.
The last six years of the reign of the Third Caliph were over-paid full of ugly events. The class struggle between the over-paid and the under-paid started to grow rapidly until it exploded with a revolution whose first victim was the Third Caliph. The events which took place during the last six years were germinated before this period. The seeds of these events were born at the beginning of his reign or during the reigns of his predecessors.
A Bridging Personality
Othman possessed neither the wisdom nor the determination of his predecessors. Nor did he have their non- materialistic attitude. In fact, his personality had two sides opposed to each other. On the one hand, he was an early Muslim. He accompanied the Messenger for a long time, acquired the honor of marrying two daughters of the Messenger, and was charitable for the cause of Islam. On the other hand, he was a member of the Omayad clan. His love to them was unbounded in spite of their dark past towards the faith of Islam and its Prophet. These two sides of his personality made the outstanding companions foresee the Third Caliph's potential as a bridge over which the caliphate might pass from the righteous reign of the early companions of Mohammad to the despotic and unjust reign of the members of the clan of Omayad.
The reader may remember that when Omar issued his instructions concerning the selection of his successor, Ali said to his uncle, Al-Abbas: "I know that they will select Othman and if he is killed or dies, the members of the Omayad clan will make the caliphate rotate among themselves and if I am alive, they will find me where they dislike.
It is amazing that Quraish refused to give the leadership to the Imam Ali, fearing that the leadership might rest in the House of the Prophet, because of their unequaled religious honor, yet Quraish chose to make the caliphate rest in the House of Omayad which was noted for its hostility towards the Messenger and his religion.
This was probably one of the reasons which made two outstanding companions, Ammar Ibn Yasir and Al-Maqdad Ibn Al-Aswad, start their opposition to Othman at the very beginning of his reign. They loudly objected to his coming to power in spite of what they knew of his righteousness.
History recorded that Ammar came out shouting after Othman's election: "Announcer of death, come forward and announce the death of Islam. Justice has died, and evil emerged. By God, if I find supporters I will fight the Qureshites. By God, if I find one person ready to fight them, I will be his second. (1)
He came to the Imam Ali and called upon him to start war against the Qureshites. But the Imam reminded him of the lack of support. He said to him and others: "I do not like to endanger you, or burden you with what is beyond your ability. Al-Miqdad came out on the day following Othman's election. While he was walking, he met Abdul Rahman Ibn Ouf, the king-maker who was responsible for Othman's selection. A confrontation between the two companions took place and went as follows:
Al-Miqdad: "Abdul-Rahman, may God reward you in this world and the Hereafter if you have sought to please God by what you did. May He increase your wealth, if you have sought by what you did a worldly gain.
Abdul-Rahman: "May God have mercy upon you; listen to me.
Al-Miqdad: "By God, I will not listen. He pulled his hand from Abdul-Rahman's hand and left.
The two companions had another confrontation at another occasion:
Al-Miqdad: By God, I have never seen anything similar to what was done to the members of this House (of the Prophet).
Abdul-Rahman: Miqdad, why are you concerned with this?
Al-Miqdad: By God, I love them for the love of the Messenger of God. I am amazed by the Qureshites who claim superiority over other people because of their relationship to the Prophet, then allow themselves to take the authority of the Prophet away from the members of his House.
Abdul-Rahm an: By God, I have tried to do what is best for the interest of the people.
A1-Miqdad: By God, you have left a man who is capable of leading the nation to the right road and maintaining truth and executing justice. By God, if I have supporters against the Qureshites, I will fight them as I fought them at Badr and Ohod.
Abdul-Rahman: May your mother be bereaved by your death. Let no one hear those words from you. I am afraid that you may have become revisionist and devisive.
Al-Miqdad: A person that invites people to follow the truth and right leadership is not revisionist. But the one who drives people to the falsehood and prefers his own interest above the truth is the man of revision and division... (2)
Neither Ammar nor Al-Maqdad had any political ambitions, and neither of them was seeking through his endeavor any material gain. These companions were highly commended by the Messenger.
Ibn Majah reported, in his Sunan, that the Messenger said: "God has commanded me to love four persons and informed me that He loves them. When he was asked who they were, he said, "Ali is of them (repeating that three times), Abu Tharrr, Salman and Al-Miqdad. (3)
A1-Termathi reported in his Sunan, that the Messenger said: "Every Prophet was given distinguished companions, but I was given fourteen. Then he counted Ammar and Al-Miqdad among the fourteen. (4)
Al-Termathi also reported that the Prophet said when Ammar Ibn Yasir asked permission to enter the house of the Prophet: "Admit him. Welcome the good, the purified. (5)
He also recorded that Ayshah reported that the Messenger said: "Whenever Ammar is given the choice between two alternatives, he chooses the more righteous of the two. (6)
Al-Termathi reported also that the Messenger said to Ammar: "Ammar, be cheerful, the aggressor party will kill you. (7)
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OMAYAD'S PLAN
What these good companions had seen through their intuition was becoming true. The signs of the future started to emerge quickly. The members of the Omayad clan met at the house of Othmafl after he was elected. Abu Sufyan, their old man, who had lost his sight through aging, asked them: "Are there any outsiders among you? When they assured him that there were none, he said: "Children of Omayad, rotate it (the caliphate) among you as boys rotate a football. By the one in whose name Abu Sufyan swears, there shall be neither a punishment nor requirement of account. Nor will there be a paradise or a hell or resurrection or a Day of Judgement. (8)
The Caliph, of course, chided him, but this did not change the attitude of Abu Sufyan. He asked a man to lead him to the grave of Al-Hamzah, uncle of the Prophet Mohammad and the prince of the martyrs. When he stood on the grave, he said, addressing Al-Hamzah: "Abu Imarah (a code name of Al-Hamzah), the matter for which we gladiated with each other has become a play in the hands of our youth. Then he kicked the grave with his foot. (9)
He meant that the Omayads and the Prophet Mohammad and his family fought each other for authority. Now the authority had come into the hands of Omayads and the members of the House of the Prophet were deprived of it.
It did not take long before these words were translated into a reality. The members of the Omayad clan exploited the simplicity of the Third Caliph and his extreme love for them. Within the first few years of his reign, they put their hands on the two sources of power: The authority of the important provinces of the Islamic state and their treasuries.
The main power and wealth of the Islamic state were m three provinces: Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. During the first few years of the reign of Othman, these vast areas became Omayad princedoms.
Muaweyah and Syria
We have mentioned (Chapter 19) that Omar appointed Muaweyah governor of Damascus, then he added Jordan to his authority after the death of Yazeed (Muaweyah's brother). Omar also appointed Omair lbn Saad (a Medinite) the governor of Horns and Quinnisrine and AbdulRahman Ibn Alqamah the governor of Palestine. When Omar died, these two men were still in their posts. But Abdul-Rahman Ibn Alqamah died at the beginning of the reign of Othman, and Omair resigned because of ailment. Othman added Palestine, Horns and Qinnisrine to the authority of Muaweyah. (10)Thus, within two years from the beginning of the reign of Othman, Muaweyah became the governor of what is called today the Greater Syria.
Muaweyah's influence started to grow during the days of Omar. Yet it remained relatively limited in size and heavily supervised by Omar. The size of his area was more than doubled during the reign of Othman and his influence became almost absolute and free of any supervision. Within a few years, Syria became an autonomous state within the Islamic state, and Muaweyah became the strong man of the Muslim world. Within a few years he was able to put in the battlefield a huge army containing one hundred thousand soldiers. It is worthy to note that Muaweyah was no more righteous than his father Abu Sufyan.
Ibn Abu Sarh In Egypt
Omar died while Amr Ibn Al-Auss was the governor of Egypt. Othman dismissed him during the first two years of his reign. He replaced him with his foster brother Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh, who remained in his position until the end of Othman's reign. Ibn Abu Sarh was one of the enemies of the Holy Prophet. He professed Islam during the time of the Messenger, then deserted the faith. He used to ridicule the Holy Qur'an, saying: "I shall reveal equal to what God has revealed to Mohammad.
Ibn Husham reported that Ibn Abu Sarh embraced Islam and became a recorder of the revelation for the Prophet. Then he deserted the faith and went back to Quraish. When the Messenger entered Mecca, he ordered his execution. Ibn Abu Sarh took refuge at Othman's house who was his foster brother, and Othman hid him. When the situation calmed down, Othman brought him to the Messenger, asking clemency for Abdullah. The Messenger kept silent for a good while then said: yes. When Othman and his foster brother left, the Messenger said to the companions around him: "I kept silent for a while, hoping that one of you would kill him. A Medinite companion asked:
"Prophet of God, why did you not give me a signal? The Messenger replied: "A Prophet does not kill by signal. (11)
There were two important cities in Iraq: Kufah and Bassrah. Omar appointed Saad lbn Abu Waqass to be governor of Kufah. Then he dismissed him and replaced him by Al-Mugheerah Ibn Shubah.
When Othman came to power he dismissed Al-Mugheerah and replaced him by Saad lbn Abu Waqass in response to a recommendation by Omar before his death.
Saad was a highly respected companion and gained a prominent position when Omar made him a member of the Electoral Convention. In spite of this, Othman kept him in the gubernatorial post for only one year. He replaced him with Waleed Ibn Aqabah, a cousin and a half-brother of the Third Caliph.
Waleed was a transgressor by the testimony of the Holy Qur'an. He embraced Islam after the year of the Hudeibeyah truce. The Messenger sent him to the tribe of Banu Al-Mustaliq to collect their Zakat. Expecting his arrival, Banu Al-Mustaliq rode their horses to receive him. Beholding their coming toward him, he was frightened and went back to the Prophet before meeting them. He told the Prophet that Banu AI-Mustaliq wanted to kill him. Relying upon his information, the Muslims considered a punitive action against the Mustaliqites. But the Mustaliqites came to the Prophet and informed him that their intention was to receive and honor Waleed rather than to kill him. A revelation concerning Waleed and the Mustaliqites came down prohibiting the believers from reliance on information of unrighteous persons such as Waleed, because a transgressor is unworthy of reliance. Thus, we read in the Chapter of Al-Hujorat the following:
"O you who believe, if a transgressor comes to you with news, try to verify it, lest you harm people unwittingly, and afterward you would regret what you have done. And know that among you is God's Apostle: Were he, in many matters, to follow your opinions, you would have certainly got into misfortune; but God has endeared the faith to you, and made it beautiful in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you the unbelief, wickedness and rebellion. Such indeed are those who walk in righteousness". (12)
It is evident that Waleed had kept his pre-Islamic mentality for the rest of his life. He remained in the governorship of Kufah for five years, until witnesses from the people of Kufah testified that he took intoxicants. He was given the prescribed punishment and the Caliph was required to dismiss him. The situation of Waleed was not unknown to Othman and to the good Muslims, especially after the Holy Qur'an called him a transgressor.
It is reported that when Waleed came to replace Saad, Saad asked him: "Have you become wise or have we become fools? Waleed replied: "Abu Is-Haq (the code name of Saad), neither of this is the case. It is the royal authority which some people take as lunch and then others take it as supper. Saad replied: "You (Omayad) evidently have made the caliphate a kingdom. Abdullah Ibn Mas-ood also said to Waleed: "I do not know whether you have become good or people have became bad. (13)
As the Caliph was required to dismiss his foster brother, after he was scandalized by his own deeds, the Caliph was expected to replace him by a companion such as Saad Ibn Abu Waqass, or Ammar Ibn Yasir or Abdullah Ibn Masood. But the Caliph did not do any of these. He replaced him by Sa-eed Ibn Al-Auss, another Omayad. Although Sa-eed did not have a record as bad as that of Waleed, he was only one of the Omayad youths whose governorship did not inspire people of Kufah with confidence nor rectify what needed to be rectified. We shall see later that the events took a turn from bad to worse during the days of Sa-eed.
When Omar died, Abu Musa Al-Ashari was the governor of Bassrah. He remained in his post for three or five years during the reign of Othman. A delegation from Bassrah came to the Caliph, complaining of Abu Musa's misuse of public funds. Abu Musa was not from the good companions. He once was accused by Omar of enriching himself at the expense of the Muslims, and Omar took from him the surplus of his wealth and put it back in the Islamic treasury. Yet he kept him in his post because of his extreme loyalty to the Second Caliph.
The Third Caliph was expected to investigate the complaint of the Bassrah's delegation and replace Abu Musa (if proven guilty) by a better companion. But Othman did not do that. Instead, he took the word of the complainers, dismissed him, and replaced him with Abdullah Ibn Amir, another Omayad youth. Thus, within a few years of Othman's reign, the three important provinces of the Muslim state became Omayad princedoms. The majority of their rulers were enemies of the Prophet and condemned by him or by the Holy Qur'an.
The ugly impact of their appointment to such high offices could have been minimized by a firm supervision on the part of the Caliph. It was easy for the Caliph to surround himself with righteous and intelligent advisors from among the companions. He could delegate to such advisors the authority of investigating and supervising the administrations of these provinces. Unfortunately, supervision was completely absent. The chief advisor of the Caliph was his cousin Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam, another unscrupulous Omayad. The power which was given to this Omayad youth is not available to any prime minister of our time. As a matter of fact, Marwan was the actual caliph and Othman was only a figurehead.
Thus, the caliphate was transformed actually into an Omayad kingdom. To prepare the Muslim world Psychologically for the Omayad rule, the Omayad officials advocated the superiority of the Qureshites over the rest of the Arabs and the superiority of their clan over the rest of the Qureshites. They imposed a complete silence on the distinctions of the members of the House of the Prophet in general, and Ali in particular. They informed their subjects of the close relationship of the Omayad to the Messenger.
Their historical hostility to him and to the members of his House was not to be mentioned to these subjects who were new Muslims, unaware of the history of Islam.
Muaweyah one time met Ammar Ibn Yassir in Medina. In a heated argument, he told Ammar: "There are in Damascus one hundred thousands, plus an equal number of their Sons and servants. They receive their annual salaries, and they do not know Ali and his kinship (to the Prophet) or Ammar and his early Islam, nor Al-Zubeir and his companionship. ' (14)
Jundub Ibn Abdullah Al-Azdi once tried to inform the people of Kufah about the distinctions of the Imam Ali. When he was reported to Waleed lbn Aqabah, governor of Kufah, he jailed him and did not free him until some important people mediated for his freedom.'(15)
THE THIRD CALIPH AND HIS TWO PREDECESSORS
You may remember that Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf offered Ali and Othman the caliphate, stipulating that the third caliph had to follow the path of the first two Caliphs.
Ali lost the caliphate because he rejected the stipulation. Othman won the caliphate because he accepted it. Let us see if he fulfilled his pledge to Abdul-Rahman and to the rest of the Muslims.
Neither of the two Caliphs appointed any of their relatives for any post in the Islamic provinces or cities. Othman, on the contrary, put his relatives in the gubernatorial posts of all the key provinces. Was he, by doing this, in accord with the way of the two Caliphs? The Third Caliph did not appear to believe that this was inconsistent with the way of his two predecessors. He vindicated the appointment of his relatives by the fact that Omar appointed Muaweyah and men like Muaweyah, such as Amr Ibn Al-Auss and Mugheerah Ibn Shubah· for the governorship of Damascus, Egypt, and Kufah. Omar did not choose for these posts the best companions of the Prophet. The Third Caliph could have said also that Omar commissioned Waleed Ibn Aqabah as a collector of the Zakat in the land of Jazirah. Probably Omar also appointed Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh for a minor position. The Third Caliph was right in saying this. But the fact remained that Omar did not appoint any of his relatives to any high or minor post. Othman appointed his relatives to high offices and gave them authorities without any appreciable supervision.
It is justifiable to say that Othman was not out of tune with his two predecessors by choosing his relatives to high offices, for the Omayad influence began and grew to a noticeable degree during the time of Omar. It was only natural for that influence to be escalated during the reign of Othman, by the factor of time and the membership of Othman to the Omayad clan. Had Omar been unwilling to see the Omayad influence grow to that height, he should have kept the Omayads away from his regime. He should not have formed the Electoral Convention, or at least should have excluded Othman from the Convention. Omar was well aware of Othman's extreme love for the members of his clan. Therefore, we cannot say positively that Othman, by promoting his relatives, was inconsistent with the policy of Omar, for Omar is the one who started the Omayads on the road to authority and enhanced their influence by indirectly putting their relative Othman in the highest office.
Loose Fiscal Policy
The aspect in which the Third Caliph was clearly inconsistent with his predecessors was his loose fiscal policy.
It is a well-known fact that the first two Caliphs had led a very simple and rugged life for themselves and their families. Whenever Omar ordered people to do something, he expected his relatives to be the example to the rest of the Muslims in following the order. The Third Caliph, on the contrary, led a very luxurious life, and he was constantly showering his relatives with gifts from the public funds. He privileged his relatives with huge grants while they were less adherent to the Islamic teaching than the rest of the Muslims.
Honoring Exile of the Prophet
Al-Balathori reported that Othman gave his uncle AlHakam Ibn Abu A1-Auss three hundred thousand dirhams (equivalent to 300,000 dollars) after he brought him to Medina.'(16)
This man was one of the worst enemies of the Messenger before he became a Muslim. After the Messenger conquered Mecca, Al-Hakam came to Medina, declaring Islam hypocritically and only for saving his life. Yet, he continued harassing the Messenger. He used to ridicule him by imitating his motions. The Messenger one time saw him peeping into his room from a slit in a door. The Messenger came out angrily and when he recognized him, he said: "Should anyone blame me for punishing this cursed insect? Then he exiled him and his family to Ta-if, forbidding him and his children from dwelling in Medina.
By permitting A1-Hakam and his children to come back to Medina, Othman was in clear discord with the Messenger and the first two Caliphs, who did not allow Al-Hakam to come back to Medina in spite of Othman's mediation for him.
Othman granted his foster brother Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh the fifth of the spoils from the first expedition which Abdullah led in North Africa. Marwan Ibn AlHakam purchased the fifth of the spoils of the second expedition in North Africa for five hundred thousand dinars (equivalent to five million dollars). Then the Caliph allowed him the whole amount.'(17)
Khalid Ibn Abdullah Ibn Oseid (another Omayad) received from the treasury three hundred thousand dirhams when he visited the Caliph while accompanying the delegation. The Caliph also ordered one hundred thousand for each member of the delegation.
When the treasurer Abdullah Ibn Arqam refused to pay these huge sums, the Caliph proudly asked him: "Who are you to interfere with my order? You are only my treasurer. But Abdullah retorted, saying: "I did not believe that I was your treasurer. Your treasurer is one of your servants. I am the treasurer of the Muslims. Then he came with the keys of the treasury and hung them on the pulpit of the Prophet at the Mosque, resigning from his post.
The Caliph ordered three hundred thousand dirhams for Abdullah Ibn Arqam after he resigned; but, out of pity, Abdullah did not accept the grant.'(18)
Othman also gave Sa-eed Ibn Al-Auss one hundred thousand dirhams. And when he married three or four of his daughters to men from Quraish, he gave each one of them one hundred thousand dinars. He gave his cousin AlHarith Ibn Al-Hakarn (exile of the Prophet) three hundred thousand dirhams. He appointed him as a collector of the Zakat of Qud-ah. When he brought the Zakat, the Caliph allowed him what he collected. (19)
.We ought not to forget that Abu Sufyan, the old man of Omayad. also received trom the Caliph two hundred thousand dirhams, yet the old man fought the Prophet for twenty-one years and professed Islam only to save his neck after he and the rest of the Meccans were completely defeated. He rejoiced on the defeat of the Muslims by the pagans of Hawazin in Hunain, saying: "Their retreat will not end before they reach the sea. (Ibn Husham recorded this in his Biography of the Prophet, Part 2, p. 443.)
The Third Caliph did not only shower his relatives with public funds, but he also granted them vast pieces of lands from the public properties.
Fadak, a land of orchards (which came to the ownership of the Holy Prophet because it was acquired by the Muslims without war), also was granted by Othman to some of his relatives. Fadak was supposed to be inherited totally or partly by Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet, but was nationalized by Abu Bakr because of a Hadith in which he reported that the Prophet said that what is left by the Prophets would be charity. However, Othman granted Fadak to Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam, the exile of the Prophet! (Abu Dawood, Sunan Abu Dawood, Part 2, p. 127.)
Othman did not follow the policy of his two predecessors concerning the public funds. He used to think that he had the right to spend out of the Muslims' funds as he liked. He was the Imam of the Muslims, and he had the right to do with their funds as he pleased. This is opposite of the precise and strict policy of the Second Caliph who used to exact from his appointees a full account concerning the public funds and ask whoever acquired a wealth among them: "How did you get this? And he used to return the surplus of their wealth to the Islamic treasury.
Omar and Abu Hurairah
Omar appointed Abu Hurairah to collect the taxes of A1-Bahrain. When he knew that Abu Hurairah had prospered, he said to him: "I sent you to Al-Bahrain while you were barefooted, unable to acquire shoes for your feet. I have been informed that you have sold horses for sixteen hundred dinars.
Abu Hurairah: "I had horses which multiplied by reproduction.
Ornar: "I shall withhold your salary and what you used to receive of food allotment, or you will bring me the surplus of your wealthi
Abu Hurairah: "You have no right to do that.
Omar: "Yes, by God, and 1 will hurt your back. Then he hit him with his rod until his back bled and ordered him to bring him the surplus fund.
When Abu Hurairah brought the demanded amount, he said: "I hope that God will compensate me for this.
Omar said: "That would be true if you had earned it legitimately and paid it willingly. By God, your mother did not beget you to reach the position of collector of tax revenues from Hajar, Al-Yamamah, and the remote area of Al-Bahrain, and to collect all that for yourself, and not for God or for the Muslims. She begot you only to be a shepherd of donkeys. Then he dismissed him. (20)
There is a world of difference between this strict policy and that of Othman who used to give his relatives hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dirhams, seeing no wrong in doing that.
Other Grants to Other People
The generosity of the Caliph was not limited to his relatives. It was extended to others whom he used to pay heavily either as a reward for their loyalty or as an appeasement to some potential opponents. He gave Zaid Ibn Thabit one hundred thousand dirhams. He gave Al-Zubeir six hundred thousand dirhams, and Talhah Ibn Obeidullah two hundred thousand dirhams. (21)
These two companions were members of the Electoral Convention which brought Othman to power. Neither of these two companions was in need of financial assistance. Both were wealthy with big holdings and big business. They had a great deal of real estate and of liquid funds.
It is worthy to note that history does not mention that the generosity of the Caliph was extended to the members of the House of the Prophet to whom the Holy Qur'an allotted, at the least, the sixth of the fifth of the spoils.
The Provincial Governors' Policy
The governors of the provinces did what they were expected by adopting a policy similar to that of the Caliph in handling the Muslims' funds. It is reported that Waleed Ibn Aqabah took a loan from the treasury of Kufah while he was the governor of the city. When the loan matured, the treasurer Adbullah Ibn Mas-ood asked him to pay' it back, but Waleed did not pay it. When the treasurer demanded the payment, the governor wrote to the Caliph complaining about the treasurer. The Caliph wrote to the treasurer, ordering him to leave Waleed alone with the loan and telling him that he was only the treasurer of the Caliph. Upon this Ibn Mas-ood angrily resigned. (22)
The Muslims of Kufah were lucky enough to find a man like Abdullah Ibn Mas-ood who had the courage to stand up to Waleed and require him to pay a loan. The Muslims of Syria were not so fortunate. Muaweyah was an absolute ruler of Syria with no limit to his power. lie was living like a king, handling the public funds of Syria as he was handling his own funds, free of supervision. He used the public funds for purchasing loyalty and support of the chiefs of the Syrian tribes and men of influence. He was preparing himself to succeed Othman, and he had sufficient time for such a preparation.
As a matter of fact, Muaweyah started his preparation for his goal during the days of Omar. His extravagancy was evident to Omar himself. When the Second Caliph went to the Syrian front he was angered by the high standard of Muaweyah's luxurious life. But Muaweyah convinced the Caliph of the soundness of his policy, using his proximity to the Roman Empire as an excuse for his extravagance.
It is amazing that the Caliph required Abu Hurairah to give a serious account for sixteen hundred dinars, but he failed to ask Muaweyah how he could maintain his lavish way of life.
Muaweyah was not the only governor who used the public funds for his own interest. The rest of Othman's appointed officials followed the same method in proportion to their authority and lack of supervision. All were working for the goal of transforming the caliphate into a despotic rule and the Muslim World into an Omayad kingdom.
This unscrupulous policy had many consequences:
(1) The growth of the wealth of the wealthy class in the Islamic society, Many of the lucky individuals who received generous gifts from the Caliph and his appointed officials invested what they received of funds or portions of it in real estate and business. This yielded them enormous profits. Many of the companions who were highly paid during the days of Omar became considerably wealthy through investing the surplus of their salaries in real estate and trades. The wealth of these companions was expected to grow by the passage of time. When Othman allowed the companions to live outside Medina (ending the ban which was imposed by Omar on the companions), many of the prosperous companions found new avenues for multiplying their fortunes. They purchased buildings, orchards and lands in Iraq and other provinces. The Third Caliph also gave vast public lands in Hijaz to many of his relatives, friends and supporters.
Transactions and exchanges of real estates between wealthy owners living in Iraq and their counterparts in Hijaz and Yemen continued, and the Caliph encouraged these transactions. (23) Thus, many deals were made and the fortunes of these enterprisers were increased rapidly.
Many of the companions and others became multi-million- aires. The fortune of Al-Zubeir amounted to forty million dirhams (24) and that of Talhah to thirty millions (25) and that of Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf to about three millions. (26)
(2) The other result of the Third Caliph's handling of public funds was the increase of the pressure on the tax payers of the conquered countries. The generosity of the Caliph and his appointed officials in handling the public funds and their gifts to the individuals required liquid funds which could not come but through overtaxation of the conquered nations. This aspect is not mentioned clearly in our history, because the conquered nations did not have political power or voice.
A dialogue between the Caliph and Amr Ibn Al-Auss (who was once the governor of Egypt and was replaced by Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh) reveals the mounting pressure on the conquered nations. The Caliph said to Amr: "The camels are giving much more milk after you left. (He meant that more funds were coming from Egypt after his dismissal.) And Amr replied: "yes, but their babies have perished! (He meant that by exacting more taxes from the Egyptians, the Egyptians were being impoverished. (27)
THE GROWTH OF OPPOSITION
Early opposition to the Third Caliph had started at the beginning of his reign by Ammar Ibn Yassir and AlMiqdad Ibn Al-Aswad, who were outstanding companions and free of any political or material ambitions. That opposition was calmed during the first few years of the Third Caliph's reign, due to the lack of support by the public and because what they expected to happen did not happen during the early period of his reign.
However, the events which took place later contributed to the rapid growth of the opposition. The motive behind the oppositions was either religious or political and sometimes it was both.
Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf, the one who selected Othman and brought him to power, was one of the early critics of the Caliph. He was displeased to see his selected Caliph following a policy opposed to that of the first two Caliphs, in spite of his pledge at the time of his selection to follow their policy. No doubt, many companions blamed Abdul-Rahman for selecting Othman and depriving Ali of the caliphate. They held him responsible for the Caliph's policy in handling the public funds and imposing the authority of the Omayads on the Muslims.
Abdul-Rahman changed his heart towards his man and turned 180 degrees from the Caliph's extreme supporter to the Caliph's hostile critic.
The road which Othman took probably showed Abdul-Rahman that the caliphate would continue in the Omayads after the death of Othman. The relatives of the Caliph had become very powerful and capable of keeping the caliphate in their clan. With their unlimited influence on the Caliph's mind, they were in a position to convince him to make one of them his successor. Thus, Abdul-Rahman belatedly discovered that he was maintaining a false hope of becoming Othman's successor.
We may remember that Ali told Abdul-Rahman after he selected Othman: "By God, you gave him the leadership only to return it to you. May God plight you and him with a reciprocal and constant animosity!!!
If Abdul-Rahman had a good memory, he could recall the warning which he received in his dream during the days of the Electoral Convention. He dreamt of a green prairie into which a beautiful camel entered and passed through without touching it. It was followed by two camels, one after another, and they followed its behavior. Then a fourth camel came and ate all he could from the grass of the prairie. Abdul-Rahman interpreted his dream by thinking that the fourth camel would be the third caliph who would not follow the precepts of the Prophet and the first two caliphs in handling the public funds.
Because of this dream, Abdul-Rahman did not want to be the third caliph, lest he would be the fourth camel. Had Abdul-Rahman remembered that vision, he would have realized that he did not heed the warning which it contained. He would have realized that he had chosen the man whom he should have left out and left out the man whom he should have chosen. Had he selected Ali, he would have avoided the nation all the tragic events that took place later.
You may recall that Omar also saw in his dream that a man entered a garden and picked every fresh and ripe fruit, taking them to himself and putting them under him. The two visions resembled each other and so did the responses of the two dreamers. Both chose the picker and the gluttonous eater.
Two Other Members of the Convention
Talhah and Al-Zubeir, who were also members of the Electoral Convention, joined the opposition. Al-Zubeir was less violent in his opposition than Talhah.
It is difficult to believe that the two companions opposed Othman because of his mishandling of the public funds. Of course, the Caliph granted his relatives huge sums of money, but the two companions also had their big shares of his generosity'. The share of A1-Zubeir was six hundred thousand dirhams and Talhah received two hundred thousand dirhams. They could not disallow the Caliph's grant to his relatives while legalizing it for themselves.
It seems that both men were aspirants to succeed 0th- man. When Omar granted them candidacy to the high office in the Electoral Convention, he actually qualified them for leadership. The enormous wealth of the two companions enhanced their importance in their own eyes and in the eyes of many Muslims. Talhah gained numerous supporters in Bassrah and so did Al-Zubeir in Kufah~ Like Abdul-Rahman, the two companions were frightened by the rapid growth of the Omayads' power which made them capable of competing with any companion for the leadership.
It was disturbing to them to think that Othman might appoint Muaweyah or another Omayad as a successor. The turn of events indicated that the Omayads would keep the caliphate in their clan, blocking the road of other Qureshites to the high office. The two companions realized that silence would contribute to the Omayads' success in achieving their goal. For this, they decided to oppose the Caliph and try to end his reign before he chose an Omayad successor. This would enable one of the two companions to succeed the Caliph.
Ayeshah, wife of the Prophet, also joined the opposition. She became an open critic of Othman, accusing him of taking a direction opposite to that of the Prophet. She occasionally displayed a garment of the Prophet, saying that the garment of the Prophet had not yet deteriorated, but Othman had brought the precepts of the Prophet into deterioration. She used to call him Naathal (a heavily bearded Jew). The historians recorded that she used to say: "Kill Naathal because he deserted the faith. (28)
It seems that her motive was merely political rather than religious. She could not be angered by Othman's violation of the Islamic Law, because she allowed herself to commit a much bigger violation of God's commandments. She opposed Ali who was the most adherent to the Book of God and the precepts of the Prophet. She was more violent in her opposition to the brother of the Messenger than in her opposition to Othman. She criticized Othman because he injured some of the companions and mishandled the Muslims' funds, yet she waged a war in which thousands of Muslims lost their lives. Killing the Muslims is a much bigger sin than injuring them or usurping some of their funds.
Her motive in opposing Othman was identical to that of Talhah and Al-Zubeir. She wanted her cousin Talhah or her brother-in-law Al-Zubeir to succeed Othman. The growth of Talhah's influence in his opposition to the Caliph was extremely pleasing to her.
Al-Tabari reported that Ayeshah said to Ibn Abbas:
"You are a man of understanding, wisdom and expression. I ask you by God not to detract people from Taihah. The situation of Othman has become obvious. People from various cities have gathered for a great event which is about to take place. I am informed that Talhah is already in control of the houses of the public funds and possesses their keys. I think that he, God willing, will follow the path of his cousin Abu Bakr. Ibn Abbas retorted, saying:
"Mother, if anything happens to Othman, people will resort to our man (Ali) ." Ayeshah, of course, did not agree with him, but she said to him: "Ibn Abbas, I do not want to antagonize you or argue with you. (29)
She was looking at the events with the eyes of Talhah and Al-Zubeir. Her hope that one of the two men would reach the caliphate through co-operation with Othman was withering gradually by the rapid growth of the Omayads' power and the continuation of Othman in his office. It became evident to her and the two companions that the Caliph would follow only the advice of people such as Marwan and Muaweyah, and that these advisers would counsel him to choose an Omayad successor.
Ayeshah and the two companions thought that their silence would render an assistance to the Omayads in fulfilling their goal. For this the two companions raised their voices against the Caliph, and Ayeshah called upon the Muslims to kill him.
Amr Ibn Al-Auss
Amr Ibn Al-Auss joined the opposition. This politician did not have the ambition to become a caliph. He was not from the early companions or a member of the Electoral Convention, nor did he have the needed influence to make him ambitious to reach the high office. His opposition was motivated by the desire to avenge himself. He was the governor of Egypt during the days of Omar. He wanted to stay in his post, but Othman dismissed him and replaced him by Adbullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh. He came back to Medina, waiting for the opportunity to jump the Caliph. When Ayeshah and others started their campaign against Othman. Amr became a noted agitator. He used his intelligence and wiliness in instigating people against the Caliph. (30)
When Othman was killed, Amr joined the seekers of the revenge for Othman's blood because Muaweyah promised him the governorship of Egypt.
OPPOSITION FROM NON-QURESHITH COMPANIONS
The Qureshite companions were mostly politically motivated in their opposition to Othman. The opposition that was religiously motivated came from outstanding non-Qureshite companions. Most noted among these in the history of that period was:
When the third Caliph granted his cousin Marwan five million dirhams and Zeid Ibn Thabit one hundred thousand dirhams, and Harith, Marwan's brother, three hundred thousand dirhams, Abu Tharr raised his voice repeatedly reciting the following Qur' anic verse: "Give the news of a painful punishment to those who treasure gold and silver and do not spend them in the way of God. Othman sent his messengers to Abu Tharr, prohibiting him from such a recital. Abu Tharr protested, saying: "Does Othman want to prevent me from reciting the Book of God and denouncing those who disobey the commandment of God? By God, it is more desirable to me and better for me to please God by displeasing Othman, rather than displeasing God by pleasing Othman. (31) This attitude angered Othman.
It was not difficult for Othman to solve the problem of Abu Tharr and all other critics, and Abu Than himself prescribed to Othman the solution of the problem. He told him one day: "Follow the path of your two predecessors, and no one will criticize you. But the Caliph was not of this opinion. He wanted to solve the problem by punishing whomever he could. Evidently, he did not know that medicating the problem of sincere criticism by violence is bound to bring him bigger problems.
Abu Tharr in Exile
It was difficult for the Caliph to punish the Qureshite critics. They were too powerful for him to punish. Abu Tharr and others like him, in spite of their brilliant Islamic record, were neither powerful, nor wealthy. The Caliph chose for these good companions a kind of punishment which was inappropriate and inapplicable to them. He chose for Abu Tharr punishment by exile which is prescribed by the Holy Qur'an for those who are at war with God and His Messenger, and the makers of mischief in the land. Abu Tharr was not one of these. He was rather a righteous companion, whose motives were prohibiting evil and enjoining good. He did not challenge the authority of the Caliph, nor did he call for a revolt against him.
The Messenger of God was criticized by a hypocrite who told him: "You ought to be just in distributing the spoils among Muslims. The Prophet did not exile him, nor did he punish him. He only said to him: "Woe to you. If I do not execute justice, who will?
Abu Bakr said to his electors: "Obey me as long as I obey God. If I do not obey Him, you owe me no obedience.
Omar used to say: "When you see a crookedness in me try to straighten me.
Ab'u Tharr and Muaweyah
Othman did not take the attitude of his predecessors. He exiled Abu Tharr to Syria, placing him under the authority of Muaweyah, who was actually a government within the government. Seeing the extravagancy of Muaweyah and his mishandling of the public funds, Abu Tharr raised his voice against him. When Muaweyah built his famous palace, called A1-Khadra, Abu Tharr said to him:
"If this is from the Muslims' fund, it is a theft. If it is from your own fund, it is an extravagancy.
Abu Tharr used to shout at the door of Muaweyah. saying: "God, may Thou curse those who enjoin good and do not do it. May Thou curse those who prohibit evil and do it.
This irritated Muaweyah. He complained about Abu Tharr to the Caliph. The Caliph recalled Abu Tharr to Medina, and he was returned to it in a very unmerciful way. (32) When he arrived in Medina, the Caliph found him persisting in his critical attitude towards his regime. For this he ordered him to leave Medina. Abu Tharr asked his permission to go back to Damascus, or to go to Iraq or Egypt or to Mecca, according to some reports. The Caliph did not permit him to do so. He ordered him to go to the desert of Najd, saying to him: "Go in this direction and do not go beyond Al-Rabathah.
The Caliph ordered people not to speak to Abu Tharr nor give him a send off. When Abu Tharr was departing, Marwan went with him to prevent people from talking to him. No one dared to be with Abu Tharr at his departure except the Imam Ali, his two Sons Al-Hassan and Al- Hussein, his brother Aqeel and Ammar Ibn Yasir. By doing this, they actually defied the order of the Caliph. This added to the deterioration of the relation between the Imam and the Caliph. Of the Imam S valedictory words to Abu Tharr were the following:
"Abu Tharr, you opposed the rulers because they disobeyed God. Put your hope in Him. The rulers feared you for personal interest, and you feared they would compromise your religion. Leave in their hands what they want to protect and run away with what you want to protect. These rulers are in a great need for the things you tried to deprive them of, and you are in no need for the things they deprived you of. You will know who has the happy fate and who is more enviable. Should the heavens and the earth close in on a righteous servant of God, He will grant him an exit. Let the truth be your only friend and falsehood be your only enemy. Had you approved their way, they would have loved you; and had you shared the spoils with them, they would have trusted you". (33)
Some historians say that Abu Tharr left Medina to Rabathah willingly, but it seems improbable that Abu Tharr had chosen to become bedouin living in the desert rather than being in the city of the Prophet. However, it is certain that he was exiled to Damascus before he left to Rabathah, then he was brought back to Medina. He was not consulted in his exile nor in his return.
Abu Tharr settled in Rabathah, living constantly there in difficulty and intolerable poverty until he died. When he died there were not enough people to bury him. Had not Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood with a few others (including Malik Al-Ashtar) passed by, Abu Than would not have been buried.
The exile of Abu Tharr to Rabathah was a big political mistake on the part of the Caliph. The good Muslims were shocked by the exile of this outstanding companion, for he was of an indomitable spirit in his endeavors for the truth. He was a beloved of the Messenger, and the Messenger said about him: "There is no one under Heaven and above the earth that is truer than Abu Tharr. The righteous Muslims felt toward what happened to Abu Tharr as they felt towards the great martyrs of the truth, whose souls were filled with dedication to high ideals for which they lived and died.
Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood
Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood, another non-Qureshite outstanding companion, also joined the opposition. Like Abu Tharr, Abdullah had no political or material ambition. He was the treasurer of Kufah province and he resigned angrily when the Caliph wrote to him: "...You are only our treasurer, leave Waleed (the Omayad governor of Kufah) alone with what he borrowed from the treasury. It is reported that Abdullah Ibn Mas-ood used to deliver a weekly sermon in which he included the following words:
"Certainly the truest is the Book of God and the best guidance is the guidance of Mohammad. And the worst deed is that which does not conform with the teaching of God and His Messenger. For every such deed is an innovation, and every innovation is a heresy and every heresy leads to Hell. (34)
Waleed informed the Caliph of Ibn Mas-ood's insinuating speeches and the Caliph summoned him. When Ibn Mas-ood entered the Mosque of the Prophet, Othman said to the congregation: "The one that entered the Mosque is an evil insect which causes a person to vomit and secrete when it walks on its food. Ibn Mas-ood said: "I am not so, but I was a companion of the Prophet at Badr, Ohod, Hudeibeyah, the Moat, and Hunain. Othman ordered one of his servants to throw Abdullah out of the Mosque. The servant carried him on his shoulders and violently threw him outside the Mosque. (35) Some of his ribs were broken. Then the Caliph withheld his salary. Abdullah lived two or three years after that, continuing his opposition to Othman. When he died, he willed that Othman should not pray over him, and Ammar Ibn Yassir was his executor. Ammar buried Abdullah without informing the Caliph of Abdullah's death.
And Ammar Ibn Yasir
Ammar was a man of the earliest opposition to Othman. He called upon the Muslims to fight the community of Quraish because it chose Othman for leadership and left Ali out. Like Ali, Amrnar saw in the personality of Othman a potential bridge over which the caliphate would pass from the good companions of Mohammad to the Omayads. The sequence of the events was destined only to confirm to Ammar and others what they expected. What happened to Abu Tharr and Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood made Ammar more serious in his opposition to Othman. Ibn Yasir was not the kind of man who keeps silent when he sees what is in conflict with the Book of God and the teachings of the Prophet.
Such opposition was expected to put Ammar in danger of severe punishment from the Caliph. Othman wanted to exile him as he had Abu Tharr, but Ali and other companions raised strong objections which made him threaten to exile Ali himself. But Ali dared him to do that.
There were some gems of great value in the treasury and Othman gave those gems to his ladies. People talked about that, and Othman was angered by their talk. He said while he was giving a sermon: "We shall take what we need from the treasury, even if some people would be displeased. Ali replied: "Then you shall be prevented and stopped. And Ammar said: "I make God my witness that I am one of the first people who are displeased. Othman retorted angrily:
"Do you dare say that to me? Take him.
He was taken and Othman went to the place where Ammar was confined. He beat him up until Ammar fainted and he stayed in swoon until he missed the noon, afternoon, and sunset prayers. When he came back from his swoon, he made his ablution, made up his prayers, and said:
"Praise be to God. This is not the first time I was tortured for my endeavois in the way of God. (36)
It is reported that a group of companions (among them Talhah, Al-Zubeir, A1-Miqdad, and Ammar) wrote to 0th- man a letter in which they criticized a number of Othman's deeds, accused him of betraying his religion and warned him that they would fight him. Ammar delivered the letter to Othman. When Othman read a portion of the letter, he asked Ammar: "Are you the only audacious among them to confront me with this? Ammar answered: "I am your best advisor among them. Othman said to him: "Son of Sumayah (Ammar's mother), you have lied. Ammar retorted "I am by God, son of Summayah and son of Yasir. Othman ordered his servants to lay Ammar on the floor and hold his hands and his legs. Then Othman kicked him with his foot in the stomach. This caused him to have a hernia. Ammar was old and weak, and he fainted.
Ammar was the most outspoken and the highest voice against Othman. His opposition to Othman counted heavily because of his brilliant past and because of what the Holy Prophet said about him.
OPPOSITION OUTSIDE MEDINA
The Qureshite Aristocracy in the Islamic society began at the beginning of the reign of the First Caliph. In his argument for the Qureshite leadership at the "Saqif at conference, Abu Bakr said to the natives of Medinah that the Arabs would not accept a non-Qureshite leadership. For Quraish was the highest community among the Arabs and the community of the most honorable city.
Upon this, the Medinites conceded the leadership to the Qureshites. Thus, the majority of the Meccan and Medinite companions conceived it as tribal superiority. By this the Qureshite supremacy was established, though the Faith of Islam, the religion of equality, denies any form of aristocracy.
This aristocracy grew during the reign of the Second Caliph and peaked during the reign of the Third Caliph. The notion of Qureshite superiority evolved during 0th- man's reign and went far enough to view the Muslim world as a Qureshite Kingdom. This was destined to have a negative reaction on the part of the enlightened men who knew that Islam is a religion of equality and brotherhood. The Message of Islam aims at elevating every Muslim and dignifying all believers in God rather than dignifying a minority at the expense of millions.
The righteous Muslims were disturbed by Quraish's claim of superiority in the name of religion, while the Omayads who became the leaders of the Qureshites were of the least righteous among the Muslims.
The spark of opposition outside Medina started in Kufah. Most of its people were Yernenites. It is reported that the beginning of this opposition took place during the time of Sa-eed Ibn Al-Auss, who succeeded Waleed Ibn Aqabah in the gubernatorial office of Kufa. Historians disagree on the details of this event.
It is reported that some of the leaders of the city, while they were visiting the governor, spoke of the orchards of Kufa. A dialogue between them and the city Chief of Police Abdul-Rahman Ibn Khumeis took place and went as follows:
Ibn Khumeis: "I wish all these orchards were owned by the governor and you, the people of Kufah, owned better than these orchards.
Malik Al-Ashtar: "Wish the governor better than these orchards but do not wish him to own our properties.
Ibn Khumeis: "How did my wish harm you to make you so frown on me? By God, if the governor wishes, he would have these orchards.
Al Ashtar: "By God, if he wants that, he will not have it.
Sa-eed (angrily): "All these orchards are actually Quraish's garden.
A1-Ashtar: Do you make what we won through our spears and what God has given us a garden for you and your people?
And others spoke, supporting Al-Ashtar.
A1-Ashtar: "Is anybody here? Don't let this man get away with what he said.
They jumped Ibn Khumeis, treading on him severely until he fainted. Then they dragged him by his feet. Finally, his face was sprayed with water until he woke up.
Ibn Khumeis said to Sa-eed: "The people whom you selected have killed me.
Sa-eed: "No one shall spend the evening with me after this.
Other historians recorded that some people spoke in the presence of Sa-eed of the generosity of Talhah Ibn Obeidullah, and that comments by the governor and his visitors went as follows:
Sa-eed: "A man that has the wealth of Talhah and his holdings ought to be generous. Should I possess what Talhah possesses, I would make you live in prosperity.
A young man from the Asad Tribe: "I wish that you owned all the orchards that are on the two sides of the Euphrates.
This irritated some of the men who were present and made them speak harshly to the youth.
The father of the youth: "He is too young. Do not punish him for what he said.
The irritated men: "He is wishing Sa-eed our own properties. They jumped the youth. His father wanted to defend him. They beat the father and the son until they fainted. The members of the tribe of Asad learned about the event and came encircling the palace. Sa-eed persuaded them to leave and they left. (37)
Both versions of the event agree that Al-Ashtar and others with him stayed away from the governor and spoke loudly against Sa-eed and the Caliph. This was the occasion which made the opposition surface in Kufah. Whether the first or second report was the truth, the occasion indicates that people during that time were fed up with Quraish, its leaders, their big claims and their over-reaching hands.
The event was actually the straw that broke the camel's back. The sequence of events was inevitably leading to some political explosion.
Abdullah Ibn Mas-ood's sermons in which he criticized the policy of Othman and his officers helped to open the eyes of the people of Kufah on the corruption in the government.
Abu Tharr's exile was also a factor in fermenting the opposition. We have advanced that Al-Ashtar and others from Kufah were with Ibn Mas-ood at the time of the oppressed companion's burial.
What happened afterwards to Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood was also another factor. People of Kufah had a great esteem for this outstanding companion who was violently thrown out of the Holy Mosque by order of the Caliph.
People of Kufah knew Ammar Ibn Yasir and his brilliant record in Islam. He was the governor of their city during the reign of Omar. They had a great respect towards this outstanding companion. What happened to him at the hand of the Third Caliph was also an additional factor which made the explosion of the opposition from the righteous people of Kufah an expected event. The fire was about to start and it found its spark at Sa-eed's occasion.
The opposition of Kufah received the same kind of punishment Abu Than received. Exile became the regular punishment for the criticism of the government; and Damascus became the destination of the exiled critics. There they received their discipline at the hands of Muaweyah, the strong man of the Islamic state.
The exiled Kufans were kept at the church of Mariam. Muaweyah met them, spoke to them and lectured them. The topic of his lecture was the distinction of Quraish in the Islamic and pre-Islamic history. He tried to substantiate the superiority of Quraish by the fact that all communities were invaded except the Qureshites whom God protected. He mentioned also that God made the caliphate in the Qureshite companions of the Prophet. Thus, they are the qualified ones for leadership. Then he told them that God protected Quraish while they were unbelievers. "Do you think that He will not protect them while they are following His religion. (38)
He told them also that Abu Sufyan (his father) was the most honorable and the son of the most honorable among the Qureshites except the Prophet, then he added: "I think that if Abu Sufyan were the father of all people, all people would have been wise. (39)
Sa-sa-ah Ibn Souhan belied him, saying: "Adam was better than Abu Sufyan. God created him by His own hand, breathed in him from His spirit and ordered the angels to bow to him. He was the father of mankind. Yet we see among them the good and the weak, the foolish and the wise.
The logic of Muaweyah was full of distortion of facts. He said that his father Abu Sufyan was the best man after the Messenger (including Abu Bakr and Omar).
He forgot that the Divine protection to the Qureshite was not for the sake of Abu Sufyan, his children and their likes from the Qureshites. It was rather for the sake of the Sacred House and for the sake of the Messenger, the best of the descendants of Abraham. It was also in response to the prayer of Abraham, the Prophet of God, of which the Holy Qur'an informs us:
"And when Abraham said: My Lord, make this a safe town and give its settlers of fruits, to those of them who believe in God and the Hereafter.' The Almighty said: And whoever of them disbelieves, I will give them a respite. Then I will drive them to the chastisement of Fire; terrible is the fate". (40)
Muaweyah did not know that the caliphate in the offspring of Abraham, including the Qureshites, was made by appointment from God. That appointment did not reach the unjust among them. We read in the Book of God:
"And remember when God tested Abraham by commandments, and he fulfilled them. The Almighty said: I am making you Imam of the people.' Abraham said: And make imams from my offsprings.' The Almighty said: My covenant will not include the unjust".' (41)
History tells us that Muaweyah freed the exiles and when they went back to Kufah, they resumed their opposition. Consequently, they were exiled to Horns. They were placed under the authority of Abdul-Rahman Ibn KhaIid Ibn Al-Waleed. This was harsher on them and more violent than Muaweyah. They showed him repentance, and he released them. A1-Ashtar went back to the Caliph, and the Caliph permitted him to go wherever he chose. He went back to Horns. When opposition grew stronger in Kufah, A1-Ashtar went back to it. He and Yawed Ibn Qais led a multitude to a place called Al-Jarah to prevent Sa-eed Ibn Al-Auss from re-entering Kufah. Sa-eed went back to Medma and the Kufans demanded from Othntan to replace Sated with Abu Musa.
We may realize the bitterness which exiled men used to feel when we read a message from Malik A1-Ashtar to 0th- man as an ans'ver to the Caliph's letter to the people of Kufah, reprimanding the opposition:
"From Malik lbn Al-Harth to the tested and sinful Caliph who is deviating from the precepts of his Prophet and turning his back on the rule of the Holy Ouran. We have read your message, Von ought to prohibit yourself and your officers from injustice, aggression and exiling our righteous men. This will make us content to obey you. You alleged that we have wronged ourselves. This is your conjecture which caused you to perish (spiritually) and made you consider inequity a justice and the wrong right. As to what we desire, we want you to change and repent and to ask God His forgiveness for incriminating our righteous men, exiling our good people, driving us out of our homes and ruling us by our youth. We desire that you appoint Abdullah Ibn Qais, Abu Musa,, governor of our city. We ask you to keep your Waleed and Sa-eed away from us". (42)
The Caliph responded to this by appointing Ahu Musa governor of Kufah.
The opposition to the Caliph's policy was not conHned to Rufah. it was extendcd to Bassrah in Iraq, and also to Egypt. Historians inform us that Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr and Mohammed lbn Abu Nutheifah went to Egypt and instigated the people against Othman. With the presence of Abdullah Ibn Saad lbn Abu Sarh in Egypt as its governor, the two Mohammads did not need to bring to the Egyptians any additional evidence of the corruption in the government. It is reported that an Egyptian went to Medina, complaining of the governor to the Caliph. When the complainer came back to Egypt, the governor killed him.
It is reported also that a group of companions In Medina wrote to other companions at different provinces, saying: "If you want to make Jihad, come to us. The religion of Mohammad is corrupted by our Caliph. By this, people were turned against him". (43)
NOW PEOPLE REMEMBERED ALI
The regressing developments of the political events made the non-Qureshite Muslims realize the gravity of the erroneous attitude of the Qureshites toward Ali. Now they could clearly see the magnitude of the mistake which the members of the Electoral Convention had committed when they diverted the caliphate from him to Othman. By doing that, they drove the nation into a crisis which it had never experienced before, It became obvious to the people of wisdom that the nation would not have had to be confronted with such a crisis if A]i were the Caliph. Thus, they began to think that Ali's leadership was the solution to the problems of the nation.
People spoke of Ali loudly and Othman started to see that Ali's existence and his presence in Medina added to his difficulties. He asked him to leave Medina for his land in Yunbu, that people might forget him; but when the crisis grew in dimension, he asked him to come back to Medina that he might shield him against danger. Then Ibn Abbas came to him with a message from Othman, asking him to leave for Yunbu, hoping that people would stop circulating his name. The Imam said: "Ibn Abbas, Othman wants to treat me like a camel, going back and forth to fill the buckets with water. He told me to go to Yunbu, then he asked me to come back. Now he is asking me to go to Yunbu again. By God, I have defended him until I feared that I am committing a sin". (44)
Ali faced in Othman a problem bigger than the problem which Othman was facing. It was in the hands of Othman to solve all his problems by changing his policy in handling the public funds, dismissing his relative officials, and keeping Marwan away from him. This could have regained him the confidence of the people and their satisfaction.
Ali, on the other hand, did not possess the means to solve his problem and the problem of the nation in Othman. He was seeing through the light of God that the future and the fate of the nation would be decided to a great extent by what would happen to Othman. Othman had embarked on a policy which would enable the Omayads to rule the Muslim world for generations to come. Yet the Omayads were noted for their lack of sincerity toward Islam. They embraced Islam only after they were completely defeated.
Ali knew them very well as men and as children. He is the one who broke their back and humiliated them until they adopted the faith of Islam reluctantly. He knew that if they had the authority they would devour the public fund, enslave the servants of God and corrupt His religion.
Othman had three alternatives: (I) Resign; (2) persist in his policy and refuse to resign, or (3) change his policy drastically. The first two alternatives were evil and the third was not expected. If he were to persist in his policy, he would be killed. His murder would be a terrible and ugly event. He would be the first imam to be killed by the Muslims. The Omayads, the relatives of the Caliph, already possessed enough power to enable them to challenge the good Muslims by waging war, avenging his death, using it for seizing authority.
Should Othman be forced to resign and people elect a man to succeed him, the Omayads, having so much power, would not surrender. They would be able to claim that 0th- man was the legitimate Caliph and that forcing him out of office would not remove the legality of his leadership. By this, they would arrive at what they want. And it would become easier for them to reach their goal than if he were killed.
The third alternative was not expected. There was nothing in the behavior of Othman to indicate the possibility of the needed change. Even if he wanted to change his financial policy and dismiss his wicked relatives, Marwan would dissuade him from doing that, and he did not possess the will-power which would make him immune from his influence.
Ali knew all that. Yet, he tried his best to reach the third alternative in order to avoid the evil of the other two alternatives. Historians inform us that a group of the companions of the Messenger who were living in Medina, wrote to the companions who were settling on the borders of the Muslim state, saying: "Come back to Medina. The "Jihad is here. People spoke ill of Othman and none of the companions defended him except Zied Ibn Thabit, Abu Osaid Al-Sa-idy, Kaab Ibn Malik and Nassau Ibn Thabit. These were loyal to the Caliph because they had received his generous gifts.
The Imam Mediates
The companions met together and spoke to Ali to mediate between them and Othman. He met the Caliph and spoke to him, saying:
"The people behind me asked me to mediate between you and them. By God, I don't know what to tell you. Nor do I know something which you don't know. Nor can I point to matters of which you are ignorant. You have seen, heard and accompanied the Messenger of God and acquired the honor of being his son-in-law. You are not less expected to do good than Ibn Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) and Ibn Al-Khattab (Omar). You are closer than both of them to the Messenger of God and you have acquired through marriage what they did not acquire. Nor were they ahead of you in anything. I ask you in the name of God to be merciful to yourself. You are not suffering blindness nor ignorance. The right road is clear and obvious, and the demarcation of religion is standing. "Othman, remember that the best of the servants of God in the eyes of God is a just Imam who is led to the truth and leads to the truth. Thus, he establishes a well-known precept and abolishes an abandoned innovation. The worst of all is an unjust Imam who is erroneous, leading to error. Thus, he abolishes a well-known precept and revives an abandoned innovation. "I have heard the Messenger of God, saying: An unjust main will be brought on the Day of Judgment while he has no helper nor a vindicator. He will be thrown into hell . . . I warn you of the wrath of God and His smite and chastisement. Certainly His chastisement is painful and severe. I warn you not to be the murdered Imam of this nation. It is said that an imam will be killed and his death will open on the nation the door of killing and wars until the Day of Judgment. He will confuse the affairs of the nation and throw the Muslims into divisions, that they will not be able to see the truth because of the height of the falsehood". (45)
The words of the Imam did not please the Caliph. A dialogue between the two men took place as follows:
Othman: "Omar appointed and kept in office people like those whom I appointed and kept in office.
Ali: "Omar appointed such people but he used to tread on their heads. When he knew of any minor violation by any of them, he used to summon him and punish him severely. You are weakened because you are too lenient on your relatives.
Othman: "They are your relatives also
Ali: Yes, they are, but virtue is not in them.
Othman: "Do you not know that Omar appointed Muaweyah and kept him in office for the duration of his reign?
Ali: "I ask you in the n~ine of God. Do you not know that Mtuaweyah was afraid of Omar more than Yarfah, Omar's servant?'
Ali: "Muaweyah makes his decisions without consulting you, then he tells people: This is the order (If Othman. You know it and you do not change anything. Nor do you stop him from doing what he is doing. (46)
Thus Ali, unlike any other person, did not take advantage of the difficulties of a Caliph whom he considered to be usurper of his right in leadership. He rose above that and was most protective of him, endeavoring to correct the situation of his adversary because his fate had a bearing on the fate of the whole nation. But Othman considered his advice provocative. H went to the pulpit and delivered a fiery speech threatening the opposition with punishment. He was expected to do only that, so long as Mm-wan was his chief advisor. Thus the fire of opposition became more inflamed.
THE CALIPH IS BESIEGED
The messages which were sent by the companions residing in Medinah to people of various provinces brought its expected results. Groups from Egypt, Kufah. and Bassrah came to Medinah asking the Caliph to dismiss his ruling relatives or resign. Otherwise, they were ready to kill him. When the Caliph realized the seriousness of the situation, he came to Mi and asked him to mediate between him and his adversaries.
Ali asked him: "What are your terms for reconciliation? The Caliph replied: "You are fully authorized to pledge to them whatever you choose. I shall do whatever you propose. Ali reminded him that he spoke to him repeatedly about certain corrective measures and that the Caliph time after time promised to take those measures. Then the promises remained unfulfilled by the Caliph, who was influenced by Marwan, Muaweyah, Ibn Amir and Abdullah Ibn Saad Tbn Aba Sarh. Othman replied: "I will disobey them and obey you".
Accompanied by thirty men from the Qurashites and the Medinites, the Imam went to meet the Egyptian group. Re convinced them not to resort to violence and promised them on behalf of the Caliph to fulfill their demands of dismissing his relatives and changing his policy in handling the public fund. When he went back to the Caliph he advised him to go to the Mosque and pledge publicly to make the reform.
Repentance and Retreat
The Caliph responded positively to the good advice. He went to the pulpit and addressed the congregation, saying:
"I am the first one that should obey God. I ask God to forgive me for what I did. I shall repeat to him. A man like me is expected to change and repent. When I come down let your leaders come and make a decision about me. By God if justice reduces me to a slave, I shall do what a slave does, and I shall be as humble as a slave. There is no escape from the anger of God but through Him. By God, I shall give you the satisfaction and I will keep Marwan and my relatives away from me. I shall not seclude myself from you.,," (47)
These words moved the audience. They wept until tears moistened their beards, and the Caliph wept, and people hoped for the good.
Marwan was waiting. As soon as Othman came back to his home, Marwan dissuaded him and brought him back to his old hard line. Marwan went out facing the multitude which were waiting for the reform. He reprimanded them and told them . . You have come to rob us of the authority which is in our hands. Go away. By God, if you challenge us, you will see what will displease you…"
When Ali knew what happened, he said: "Servants of God, if I sit home he says: You let me down in spite of my relationship to you and what I am entitled to of your respect. If I try to help him and a good comes out of my effort, Marwan dissuades him and deceives him. He has become an obedient tool in the hands of Marwan after having been the companion of the Prophet. He went to Othman and spoke to him angrily, saying:
"You couldn't satisfy Marwan but by your deviation from your religion and wisdom. You have become like a ridden camel, led by his rider to wherever he pleases. By God. I forsee that he will bring you to danger, but he will not be able to take you out of it. I will not come back to you after this. You have ruined your honor and lost the power of judgment". (48)
Ali ceased to mediate between Othman and the rebels. When Othman was besieged he came to him and told him:
"I have the right of brotherhood of Islam, relationship to you and of being a son-in-law of the Prophet. If none of these things existed and we were in pre-Islamic days. it would be shameful to the children of Abd Munaf (the great grandfather of the Hashimites and the Omayads) to !et a man from Tyme (Talhah ibn Obeidullah) rob us of our authority.
Talhah was strongly supporting the rebels. He helped them and approved their siege of Othman. Probably their invasion of Medina was the result of his communication and instigation.
Ali went to Talhah and found people gathering around him. 1-la asked Talhah: What are you involving yourself in? Talhah replied: "It is too late. (He meant that 0th- man is coming to his end.) Ali went to the treasury and asked that it be opened. When the keys were not found, he broke the door and distributed some of what was in the treasury among people who were gathering around Talhah. They left him, and Othman was pleased with that. Talhah came to Othman and said: Amir Al-Muminine (Commander of the Believers), I wanted something and God barred me from it.' Othn,an replied: By God, you did not come repenting; you are only defeated. May God hold you accountable for what you did". (49)
Ibn Al-Atheer reported that Ibn Abbas said: "I Came to Othman when he was besieged. (This was before Othman sent Ibn Abbas as a leader of the pilgrims during that year.) He (Othman) held my hard and led me to the door, ordering me to listen to the words of the besiegers. Some of them were saying: What are we waiting for?' Others said: Let us wait, probably he will change.' While we were standing. Talhah came and asked about Ibn Odais (One of the leaders of the Egyptian rebels) Ibn Odais went to Talhah, confiding in him. When Ibn Odais returned, he ordered his followers not to let anyone go into or Come out of Othman's house.
Othman said to Ibn Abbas: "This is the order of Talhah, God, take care of Talhah. He instigated these people against me. By God, I hope that his share of the caliphate will be zero and that his blood will be shed. Ibn Abbas said: When I wanted to leave the house they prevented me until Mohamrnad Ibn Abu Bakr interceded for me. (50)
As to Al-Zubeir, it is said that he left Medina before Othman was killed. Some historians reported that he was present in Medina when Othman died. Ayeshah went on pilgrimage and while in her devotional duty she was urging people to repudiate Othman.
When Othman was besieged, the rebels cut off his water supply. Ali came with a skin of water and spoke to Talhah, saying: This water has to he allowed to Othman, then it was allowed. He attempted another time to bring him water and spoke to the rebels, saying: What you are doing does not resemble the deed of the believers or unbelievers! Cut not this man from his water supply. The Romans and the Persians feed and give water to their prisoners.' But the rebels refused to allow the water in.
The siege of the Caliph continued for forty days. The rebels were trying to force him~ to change his policy or resign. He refused to resign, saying: "I will not take off a shirt which God put on me:
Probably Othman was right in his refusal to resign. But he was wrong it saying that the caliphate was a shirt which God had put on him, for his leadership was not by an appointment from God or His Messenger. The one who put the shirt on him was Ahdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and behind him the Qureshites; or we ray say that the Second Caliph was the one who put the shirt on Othman.
It seems that the rebels were not determined to force the Caliph to resign nor were they willing to kill him. Ali they wanted from him was to change his policy in handling the public funds, dismiss his relative governors and keep Marwan away from him. He promised to do that, but he never fulfilled his promise. Thus, they asked him to resign and he refused. Now some of the rebels resorted to violence.
Muaweyah Let the Caliph Down
It is amazing that Muaweyah and the rest of the Omayad governors did not seriously attempt to rescue their relative Caliph. They did not send armies to break the siege around him or to prevent the invaders from killing him. Yet the Caliph asked their help. It is reported that Muaweyah sent an army which came near Medina, but did not enter it while the Caliph was besieged. Muaweyah ordered the commander of the army not to do anything until he received his order. He told him: Say not that the present sees what the absent does not see. You are the absent and I am the present".
And So the Medinites
The other thing which can be easily noticed in the recorded events of those days is the absence of any resistance on the part of the Medinites. They neither challenged the invading rebels, nor did they prevent them from killing the Caliph. It seems that the Oureshites from the inhabitants of Medina (with the exception of Omayads) were not in sympathy with Othman. They were fed up with the Omayads and the extreme growth of their influence in the Muslim world. The majority of the Qureshites in Medina were sharing with Ayeshah, Talhah, and Al-Zubier their feelings towards the Caliph.
The majority of the Medinites were displeased with Othman's policy of glorifying the Qureshites and putting the Omayads, the least religious clan among the Qureshites, on the necks of the Muslims. The natives of Medina evidently did not feel that they owed the Caliph a serious support, because they did not receive what the Qureshites received of his generosity. By their nature, the natives of Medina were more religious than the Qureshites.
Thus, the majority of the inhabitants of Medina let Othman down and did not defend him, though they were much more numerous than the invading rebels.
The Imam Ali was the companion most opposed to the murder of Othman and the most sincere in trying to correct the Caliph's policy. He did not only show his sympathy toward him by word; he tried to defend him by arm. He endangered the lives of his two sons AI-Hassan and Al- Hussein, who were to him more valuable than his two eyes. He sent the two young men to protect Othman and ordered them to stand in arm at his door to prevent the rebels from entering his house.
Finally, the rebels were informed that armies from varous cities were on their way to Medina to rescue Othman. Some of the rebels felt that the only solution was to kill the Caliph. Since they could not enter the door, they climbed up to the house from over the wall and killed him while the guards at the door did not know what took place.
Thus, what Ali tried fervently to prevent occurred, and all his efforts to prevent it from happening failed. The murder of the Caliph was an ugly event whose consequences were dangerous to the future of Islam and Muslims. This was not necessary to happen had the Caliph listened to Ali's advice by purging his regime from the wicked officials and purifying the state from corruptions.
Had he listened to Ali's advice by following the policy of his two predecessors, Abu Bakr and Omar, Othman would not have been killed. But Othman was not in control of the affairs. Marwan, son of the exile of the Prophet, was the actual ruler of the Muslim world and the chief advisor of the Caliph. He was able to steer him in any direction he chose.
However, I doubt that Othman was able, even if he wanted, to dismiss Muaweyah who had become stronger than the Caliph. Suppose that Othman told Muaweyah to leave his post and he refused to do that. Would Othman attempt to force him out of office? And had he enough power to do that?
As we conclude our brief presentation of the events of the days of Othman and his sad end, we ought to remember the following:
The caliphate of Othman and its events have proven that leadership of the Muslim world after the Prophet should have been by selection from the Messenger rather than by election of the companions. He was the only one who was supported by revelation and Divine inspiration. He knew the best qualified for leadership among the members of his house and companions.
The leadership should not have been left to the chances of elections by the Muslims in general or by the companions of the Messenger or by an aristocracy such as that of the Quraish community in particular. Nor should it have been left to the chance of selection by a directly or indirectly elected caliph. Nor should it have been left to the election by members of the Electoral Convention. An election or selection such as this might bring the best or the second best or the worst, to power. This is dangerous for the future of a nation which carries a message to itself and to the world, especially when the nation is still at the beginning of its progress and growth. Such an election is bound to bring some time to power a weak leadership which is unable to carry the message. It may bring at another time a strong leadership that deliberately or inadvertently detours the nation and the message from their right road which was prescribed by the man of the message.
The incidental success of the first election by companions and first selection by an elected Caliph which brought Abu Bakr and Omar to power. made the Muslims, the historians, and the scholars overlook the destructive failure which was caused by the election of the Third Caliph. The accomplishments of the first two Caliphs have dazzled the eyes of the Muslims. They could not see that the events of Othman's caliphate had given clear evidence that the election is not a safe road for a nation of a reformatory message.
The Muslims have forgotten the obvious fact that the purpose of the Islamic message was not to establish a righteous government for only twelve or thirty years. The purpose of the Heavenly message was rather much higher and longer.
When the Prophet, at Ghadeer Khum, declared the leadership of Ali and the rest of the purified members of his House, he was following only a natural course. This is what is supposed to be done by any head of state when he is about to leave his office.
This would be obviously true when the head of the state is a carrier of an extremely important message upon which the state is founded, and his government is supposed to carry that message to the nations of the world as well as to its own people.
Any deviation that happens to the message by ignorance, weakness or impiety of the leadership may put the whole message in jeopardy. The Holy Prophet was looking at the future through the light of God when he proposed, while on his deathbed, to have for the nation a written directive after which the nation would not go astray.
He foresaw that the Muslims would face after him many faith-testing crises. Therefore, it was highly imperative to select for the nation a truly qualified leader in order to keep that nation on the right road.
It was most unfortunate that Omar, supported by other companions, objected to the Prophet's proposal, accusing him of hallucinations and saying the Book of God sufficed. The events of the Electoral Convention which brought
Othman to power, and the events which took place during his caliphate and their consequences have revealed the gravity of Omar' s error. The Book of God did not prevent him from forming his prejudiced Electoral Convention which deprived Ali of leadership and brought Othman to power. The Book of God did not prevent Othman from committing his classical mistakes, nor did it prevent the Muslims from their violent reaction toward his mismanage- merit and waging several bloody civil wars after his violent death.
For the Book of God to function and prevent people from taking erroneous direction, it has to be coupled with an efficient and firm leadership, equipped with a profound knowledge of the interpretation of the Book as well as the teaching of the Holy Prophet. Such a leadership makes the Book of God operative and drives people to the Qur'anic path.
This leadership is what the Messenger of God wanted to secure for the nation through his proposed written directive.
This is what the Prophet meant in his declaration on the day of Ghadeer Khum when he told the Muslims that he was leaving to them the two elements which would secure them against deviation from the right road, the Book of God and the members of his House, and that the two will never part with each other.
The objection to the Prophet's proposed written directive cost the nation its political and spiritual unity and inflicted on the nation irreparable damage.
When the companions ignored the Prophet's declaration at Ghadeer Khum and rejected his proposed document, they were motivated by their self-interest.
They were unwilling to give Ali the leadership after the death of the Prophet because they did not want to concede the caliphate to the Hashimites. To allow Ali to succeed the Prophet was to admit, at least implicitly, that his leadership was decreed by God and His Messenger who testified that the members of the House of the Prophet will never part with the Holy Qur'an. This would keep the leadership in this most honored group. The Meccan companions of various clans were unwilling to give up their ambitions. They wanted to keep the caliphate competitive by giving it to a non-Hashimjte Meccan. This should secure its competitiveness and allow companions from various clans to enter the race for leadership, because they are not better than each other.
This theory worked for them for a while. Three companions (Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman) from three Meccan clans alternated on the leadership within thirteen years. The ambitious companions, however, lately woke up during the reign of Othman discovering, to their dismay, that their hopes of reaching the High Office was fading out. They faced what they were trying to avoid.
The Omayads were about to render the caliphate non- competitive because they had already dominated the Muslim world during the first six years of Othman's reign. They were about to establish a royal dynasty, based not on Holiness and brilliant Islamic record as that of the members of the House of the Prophet, but rather based on power obtained by corruption, usurpation, and domination. Its first expected outcome was to bar any ambitious companions from reaching the High Office. The first casualties of this development would be the dreams of Talhah, Al-Zubeir, Abdul-Rahman and Ayeshah.
Motivated by the fear of Omayads' domination, these ambitious people started their campaign against the Third Caliph. They tried to thwart the dream of establishing a royal dynasty and re-open to the members of the Electoral Convention the Avenue of Leadership.
These ambitious companions were not afraid of Ali for they believed they could block his way to the caliphate if Othman died. Quraish was against him, and the Qureshites were the king-makers. No one knew this more than Ali who told the Hashimites at the time of the Electoral Convention: "As long as your people (the Qureshites) are obeyed (in what is to be done to you), you will never be given the leadership.
However, the ambitious companions expectation did not come true. They did not take in their calculation the fact that Quraish would lose the political control for a short time after the death of Othman, when people other than the Qureshites would be the king-makers.
Causes of the revolt on Uthman
`Uthman is the first Umayyad Caliph of Islam who ascended the Caliphate on the 1st Muharram, 24 A.H. at the age of seventy and after having wielded full control and authority over the affairs of the Muslims for twelve years was killed at their hands on the 18th Dhi'l-hijjah, 35 A.H. and buried at Hashsh Kawkab.
This fact cannot be denied that `Uthman's killing was the result of his weaknesses and the black deeds of his officers, otherwise, there is no reason that Muslims should have unanimously agreed on killing him while no one except a few persons of his house stood up to support and defend him. Muslims would have certainly given consideration to his age, seniority, prestige and distinction of companionship of the Prophet but his ways and deeds had so marred the atmosphere that no one seemed prepared to sympathize and side with him. The oppression and excesses perpetrated on high-ranking companions of the Prophet had roused a wave of grief and anger among the Arab tribes. Everyone was infuriated and looked at his haughtiness and wrong doings with disdainful eyes. Thus, due to Abu Dharr's disgrace, dishonour and exile Banu Ghifar and their associate tribes, due to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud's merciless beating Banu Hudhayl and their associates, due to breaking of the ribs of `Ammar ibn Yasir, Banu Makhzum and their associates Banu Zuhrah, and due to the plot for the killing of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Banu Taym all had a storm of rage in their hearts. The Muslims of other cities were also brimful of complaints at the hands of his officers who under intoxication of wealth and the effects of luxury did whatever they wished and crushed whomever they wanted. They had no fear of punishment from the centre nor apprehension of any enquiry. People were fluttering to get out of their talons of oppression but no one was ready to listen to their cries of pain and restlessness; feelings of hatred were rising but no care was taken to put them down. The companions of the Prophet were also sick of him as they saw that peace was destroyed, administration was topsy turvy and Islam's features were being metamorphosed. The poor and the starving were craving for dried crusts while Banu Umayyah were rolling in wealth. The Caliphate had become a handle for belly-filling and a means of amassing wealth. Consequently, they too did not lag behind in preparing the ground for killing him. Rather, it was at their letters and messages that people from Kufah, Basrah and Egypt had collected in Medina. Observing this behaviour of the people of Medina, `Uthman wrote to Mu`awiyah:
So now, certainly the people of Medina have turned heretics, have turned faith against obedience and broken the (oath of) allegiance. So you send to me the warriors of Syria on brisk and sturdy horses.
The policy of action adopted by Mu`awiyah on receipt of this letter also throws light on the condition of the companions. Historian at-Tabari writes after this:
When the letter reached Mu`awiyah he pondered over it and considered it bad to openly oppose the companions of the Prophet since he was aware of their unanimity.
Uthman and the Opposition
These Egyptians had received some news about their Caliph and when satisfied that they were all baseless and wrong they went back to their cities.
No sooner he said this than there was great hue and cry in the mosque, and people began to shout to `Uthman, "Offer repentance, fear Allah; what is this lie you are uttering?" `Uthman was confused in this commotion and had to offer repentance. Consequently, he turned to the Ka`bah, moaned in the audience of Allah and returned to his house.
Probably after this very event Amir al-mu'minin advised `Uthman that, "You should openly offer repentance about your past misdeeds so that these uprisings should subside for good otherwise if tomorrow people of some other place come you will again cling to my neck to rid you of them." Consequently, he delivered a speech in the Prophet's mosque wherein admitting his mistakes he offered repentance and swore to remain careful in future. He told the people that when he alighted from the pulpit their representatives should meet him, and he would remove their grievances and meet their demands. On this people acclaimed this action of his and washed away their ill-feelings with tears to a great extent. When he reached his house after finishing from here Marwan sought permission to say something but `Uthman's wife Na'ilah bint Farafisah intervened. Turning to Marwan she said, "For Allah's sake you keep quiet. You would say only such a thing as would bring but death to him." Marwan took it ill and retorted, "You have no right to interfere in these matters. You are the daughter of that very person who did not know till his death how to perform ablution." Na'ilah replied with fury, "You are wrong, and are laying a false blame. Before uttering anything about my father you should have cast a glance on the features of your father. But for the consideration of that old man I would have spoken things at which people would have shuddered but would have confirmed every such word." When `Uthman saw the conversation getting prolonged he stopped them and asked Marwan to tell him what he wished.
Marwan said, "What is it you have said in the mosque, and what repentance you have offered? In my view sticking to the sin was a thousand times better than this repentance because however much the sins may multiply there is always scope for repentance, but repentance by force is no repentance. You have said what you have but now see the consequences of this open announcement, that crowds of people are at your door. Now go forward and fulfil their demands." `Uthman then said, "Well, I have said what I have said, now you deal with these people. It is not in my power to deal with them." Consequently, finding out his implied consent Marwan came out and addressing the people spoke out, "Why have you assembled here? Do you intend to attack or to ransack? Remember, you cannot easily snatch away power from our hands, take out the idea from your hearts that you would subdue us. We are not to be subdued by anyone. Take away your black faces from here. Allah may disgrace and dishonour you."
When people noticed this changed countenance and altered picture they rose from there full of anger and rage and went straight to Amir al-mu'minin and related to him the whole story. On hearing it Amir al-mu'minin was infuriated and immediately went to `Uthman and said to him, "Good Heavens. How badly you have behaved with the Muslims. You have forsaken faith for the sake of a faithless and characterless man and have lost all wit. At least you should have regard and consideration for your own promise. What is this that at Marwan's betokening you have set off with folded eyes. Remember he will throw you in such a dark well that you will never be able to come out of it. You have become the carrier animal of Marwan so that he can ride on you howsoever he desires and put you on whatever wrong way he wishes. In future I shall never intervene in your affair nor tell people anything. Now you should manage your own affairs."
Saying all this Amir al-mu'minin got back and Na'ilah got the chance, she said to `Uthman, "Did I not tell you to get rid of Marwan otherwise he would put such a stain on you that it would not be removed despite all effort. Well, what is the good in following the words of one who is without any respect among the people and low before their eyes. Make `Ali agree otherwise remember that restoring the disturbed state of affairs is neither within your power nor in that of Marwan." `Uthman was impressed by this and sent a man after Amir al-mu'minin but he refused to meet him. There was no siege around `Uthman but shame deterred him. With what face could he come out of the house? But there was no way without coming out. Consequently, he came out quietly in the gloom of night and reaching Amir al-mu'minin's place, he moaned his helplessness and loneliness, offered excuses, and also assured him of keeping promises but Amir al-mu'minin said, "You make a promise in the Prophet's mosque standing before all the people but it is fulfilled in this way that when people go to you they are rebuked and even abuses are hurled at them. When this is the state of your undertakings which the world has seen, then how and on what ground can I trust any word of yours in future. Do not have any expectation from me now. I am not prepared to accept any responsibility on your behalf. The tracks are open before you. Adopt whichever way you like and tread whatever track you choose." After this talk `Uthman came back and began blaming Amir al-mu'minin in retort to the effect that all the disturbances were rising at his instance and that he was not doing anything despite being able to do everything.
On this side the result of repentance was as it was. Now let us see the other side. When after crossing the border of Hijaz, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr reached the place Aylah on the coast of the Red Sea people caught sight of a camel rider who was making his camel run so fast as though the enemy was chasing him. These people had some misgivings about him and therefore called him and enquired who he was. He said he was the slave of `Uthman. They enquired wherefore he was bound. He said Egypt. They enquired to whom he was going. He replied to the Governor of Egypt. People said that the Governor of Egypt was with them. To whom was he going then? He said he was to go to Ibn Abi Sarh. People asked him if any letter was with him. He denied. They asked for what purpose he was going. He said he did not know that. One of these people thought that his clothes should be searched. So the search was made, but nothing was found on
him. Kinanah ibn Bishr at-Tujibi said, "See his water-skin." People said, "Leave him, how can there be a letter in water! Kinanah said, "You do not know what cunning these people play. " Consequently, the water-skin was opened and seen. There was a lead pipe in it wherein was a letter. When it was opened and read, the Caliph's order in it was that "When Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and his party reaches you then from among them kill so and so, arrest so and so, and put so and so in jail, but you remain on your post." On reading this all were stunned and thus began to look at one another in astonishment.
A Persian hemistich says:
Now proceeding forward was riding into the mouth of death, consequently they returned to Medina taking the slave with them. Reaching there they placed that letter before all the companions of the Prophet. Whoever heard this incident remained stunned with astonishment, and there was no one who was not abusing `Uthman. Afterwards a few companions went to `Uthman along with these people, and asked whose seal was there on this letter. He replied that it was his own. They enquired whose writing it was. He said it was his secretary's. They enquired whose slave was that man. He replied that it was his. They enquired whose riding beast it was. He replied that it was that of the Government. They enquired who had sent it. He said he had no knowledge of it. People then said, "Good Heavens. Everything is yours but you do not know who had sent it. If you are so helpless, you leave this Caliphate and get off from it so that such a man comes who can administer the affairs of the Muslims." He replied, "It is not possible that I should put off the dress of Caliphate which Allah has put on me. Of course, I would offer repentance." The people said, "Why should you speak of repentance which has already been flouted on the day when Marwan was representing you on your door, and whatever was wanting has been made up by this letter. Now we are not going to be duped into these bluffs. Leave the Caliphate and if our brethren stand in our way we will hold them up; but if they prepare for fighting we too will fight. Neither our hands are stiff nor our swords blunt. If you regard all Muslims equally and uphold justice hand over Marwan to us to enable us to enquire from him on whose strength and support he wanted to play with the precious lives of Muslims by writing this letter." But he rejected this demand and refused to hand over Marwan to them, whereupon people said that the letter had been written at his behest.
However, improving conditions again deteriorated and they ought to have deteriorated because despite lapse of the required time every thing was just as it had been and not a jot of difference had occurred. Consequently, the people who had stayed behind in the valley of Dhakhushub to watch the result of repentance again advanced like a flood and spread over the streets of Medina, and closing the borders from every side surrounded his house.
After observing these events the stand of Amir al-mu'minin becomes clear, namely that he was neither supporting the group that was instigating at `Uthman's killing nor can be included in those who stood for his support and defence but when he saw that what was said was not acted upon he kept himself aloof.
Imam Ali (a.s) and Uthman
When `Uthman saw matters deteriorating to this extent he implored Amir al-mu'minin very submissively to find some way for his rescue and to disperse the people in whatever way he could. Amir al-mu'minin said, "On what terms can I ask them to leave when their demands are justified?" `Uthman said, "I authorise you in this matter. Whatever terms you would settle with them I would be bound by them." So Amir al-mu'minin went and met the Egyptians and talked to them. They consented to get back on the condition that all the tyrannies should be wiped off and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr be made governor by removing Ibn Abi Sarh. Amir al-mu'minin came back and put their demand before `Uthman who accepted it without any hesitation and said that to get over these excesses time was required. Amir al-mu'minin pointed out that for matters concerning Medina delay had no sense. However, for other places so much time could be allowed that the Caliph's message could reach them. `Uthman insisted that for Medina also three days were needed. After discussion with the Egyptians Amir al-mu'minin agreed to it also and took all the responsibility thereof upon himself. Then they dispersed at his suggestion. Some of them went to Egypt with Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr while some went to the valley of Dhakhushub and stayed there and this whole matter ended. On the second day of this event Marwan ibn al-Hakam said to `Uthman, "It is good, these people have gone, but to stop people coming from other cities you should issue a statement so that they should not come this way and sit quiet at their places and that statement should be that some people collected in Medina on hearing some irresponsible talk but when they came to know that whatever they heard was wrong they were satisfied and have gone back." `Uthman did not want to speak such a clear lie but Marwan convinced him and he agreed, and speaking in the Holy Prophet's mosque, he said:
These Egyptians had received some news about their Caliph and when satisfied that they were all baseless and wrong they went back to their cities.
No sooner he said this than there was great hue and cry in the mosque, and people began to shout to `Uthman, "Offer repentance, fear Allah; what is this lie you are uttering?" `Uthman was confused in this commotion and had to offer repentance. Consequently, he turned to the Ka`bah, moaned in the audience of Allah and returned to his house.
Notes: 1. Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed, his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balagah, Vol. 2, pp. 411-412.
2. Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed, in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balagha, Vol. 2, pp. 411412.
3. Ibn Majah, his Sunan, Part 1, p. 53 (hadith No. 149).
4. Al-Termathi, his Sunan, Part 5, p. 329 (hadith No. 149).
5. A1-Termathi, his Sunan, Part 5, p. 332.
6. A1-Termathi, his Sunan, Part 5, pp. 332-333.
7. A1-Termathi, his Sunan, Part 5, pp. 3 32-333.
8. Ibn Abu A1-Hadeed, in his Commentaries of Nahjul-Balaghah, Vol. 2, p. 411.
9. Obd AL-Fattah, Abd A1-Masqood, Al-Imam Ali, Part 1, p. 287.
10. Ibn Al-Atheer in Al-Kamil, Part 3, p. 57.
11. Ibn Husham, Biography of the Prophet, Part 2, p. 409.
12. Chapter 49, verse 6-7, Ibn Husham recorded the event in his Biography of the Prophet, Part 2, p. 296.
13. Ibn A1-Atheer, in A1-Kamil, Part 3. p. 40.
14. Abdul-Fattah Abd Al-Maqsoud, in Al-Imam Ali lbn Abu Tilab, Part 2, p. 120.
15. Ibn Abu A1-Hadeed in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah, Vol. 2, P. 412.
16. Al-Balathori, Ansah A1-Ashraf, Part 4, p. 28.
17. Ibn Al-Atheer, in Al-Kamil, Part 3, p. 49.
18. Taha Hussein, A1-Fitnat, A1-Kubra, Part 1, p. 193.
19. Dr. Taha Hussein, in his Al-Fitnatul-Kubra, Part 2, p. 193
20. Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed, in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah, VoL 3, p. 104.
21. Taha Hussein. Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra, Par t 1, p. 77.
22. A1-Balathori, in Ansab Al-Ashraf, Part 4, p. 31.
23. Ibn Al-Atheer, in Al-Kamil, Part 3, p. 52.
24. lbn Saad, in his A1-Tabaquat, Part 3, p. 110.
25. Ibn Saad, A1-Tabaqat, Part 3, p. 222.
26. Ibn Saad, A1-Tabaqat, Part 3, p. 126.
27. A1-Fitnat A1-Kubra, Part 1.
28. A1-Tabari, History of Messengers and Kings, about the events of the year 36, p. 3112, and Ibn A1-Atheer, in Al-Kamil, Part 3, p. 102.
29. Ibn Abu A1-Hadeed, Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah, Vol. 2, p. 506.
30. Ibn Al-Atheer, Al-Kamil Part 3, p. 82.
31. Ibn Abu A1-Hadeed, Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah, Vol. 1, p. 240.
32. Ibn Al-Atheer, A1-Kamil, Part 3, p. 56.
33. Nahjul-Balaghah, Part 2, pp.12-l3.
34. Dr. Taha Hussein, Al-Fitnat A1-Kubra, Part 1, p. 160.
35. Dr. Taha Hussein, A1-Fitnat Al-Kubra, Part 1, pp. 160-161.
36. Dr. Taha Hussein, A1-Fitnat Al-Kubra, Part 1, p. 167.
37. Ibn Al-Atheer, Al-Kamil, Vol. 3, pp. 71-72.
38. Ibn Al-Atheer, Al-Kamil, Vol, 3, p. 70.
39. Ibn A1-Atheer, Vol. 3, p. 71.
40. Chapter, 2, verse 127.
41. Chapter 2, verse 125.
42. Al-Baiarhori. Ansabul-Ashraf, Part 4, p. 46
43. Jbn Al-Atheet, Al-KamiI, Vol. 3, pp. 73 and 83.
44. Nahjul-Balaghah, Part 2, p.233
45. Ibn A1-Atheer, Al-Kamil, Part 3. y. 76.
46. Ibn Al-Atheer, Al-Kamil, Part 3, p. 75.
47. Ibn A1.Atheer A1-Kamil, Pan 3, p. 82.
48. lbn A1-Atheer, AL-Kamil, Part 3, p. 82.
49. Ibn Al-Atheer, AI-Kamil, Part 3, p. 84.
50. Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil, Part 3, p. 87.
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