The Achievements Of Uthman Ibn Affan, And The Events Leading To His Martyrdom – Abu Ruqayyah


The Achievements Of ‘Uthman Ibn Affan, And The Events Leading To His Martyrdom

Abu Ruqayyah

This article discusses and assess the reign of ‘Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) and rebuts some of the false allegations made against this illustrious Companion.

Suyuti states that ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) was born six years after the Prophet. Suyuti quotes Ibn Ishaq stating that that ‘Uthman was one of the first to accept Islam, after Abu Bakr, ‘Ali, and Zayd ibn Harith. He was one of the ten promised Paradise. 146 hadith have been narrated from him. He gave 6,000 camels and 50 horses for Tabuk. He married two of the daughters of the Prophet; Ruqayah, and then Umm Kulthum and was nicknamed Dhu’n Nurayn – the Possessor of two lights. About him the Prophet said: “Should I not feel shy of a man whom the angels are shy”. And he (salahu alaihi wa sallam) said about him: “This one will be wrongfully killed”.

After his fatal stabbing, ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) chose a panel of six men to decide on his successor from among themselves. The six were: ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, T:alh:a, Zubayr and Abdur Rah:man bin ‘Auf. The latter withdrew from the contest and obtained the agreement of the others to be given authority to choose the Caliph. T:alh:a was absent from Madina and hence
was not party to the decision making process. Three days after the consultative body was convened, Abdur Rah:man bin ‘Auf announced that ‘Uthman was to be the Caliph.

‘Uthman’s achievements as a Caliph.

‘Uthman’s reign lasted twelve years, from 644 to 656 C.E (24H – 35H). The first six years of his Khilafa were trouble free. Although the caliphate of ‘Uthman ended tragically, his reign can be considered successful from a number of different angles; military, religious and economic.

One of ‘Uthman’s lasting legacy was the territorial expansion of the Muslim Caliphate. The development of a highly efficient navy contributed to this military success. ‘Uthman’s first challenge as Caliph was to thwart the Byzantine counter offensives against land conquered in the time of ‘Umar. The Byzantine attack was on two fronts; against Alexandria in Egypt which they captured with very little resistance and Syria. ‘Amr bin Al ‘As: defeated the Byzantium army as it marched from Alexandria to capture Fustat. He then laid siege to Alexandria and managed to recapture the city.

The Byzantines sent 80,000 men to recapture Syria. They were repelled by a joint Syrian – Iraqi force in which the Byzantine commander was killed. Following the Byzantine defeat, Mu’awiya, the governor of Syria decided to go on the offensive. Without a naval force, the Syrian and Egyptian coasts were vulnerable to Byzantine attack. Mu’awiya and Abdullah ibn Sa’d, the governor of Egypt persuaded ‘Uthman to overturn the decision of his predecessor ‘Umar, and to give permission for a naval fleet to be built.

In 28H, a fleet of 500 ships was sent to conquer Cyprus. The latter was an
important Byzantine naval base. After a fierce battle, Cyprus was occupied, and the Cypriots agreed to pay the jizya. In the same year Anatolia was also captured. Six years after the construction of the first ever Muslim navy, Byzantine naval supremacy in the Mediterranean came to an end in a decisive battle known as the Battle of the Masts. The Byzantine navy of 500 ships was commanded by the Constans II against a Muslim fleet of 200. The naval encounter of the coast of southern Turkey ended in disaster for the Byzantines, and Constans fled to the island of Syracuse where he was killed by the locals.

The Eastern part of the Caliphate expanded significantly under the military leadership of Abdullah bin ‘Amir, the governor of Bas:ra. After crushing an internal rebellion in Persia, he led an army to Khurasan conquering Nishapur, Harat, Merv and Balkh. The fall of Balkh ensured the whole of Khurasan came under Muslim control. The Muslim army continued eastwards and Kabul was captured. Another Muslim column pushed southwards conquering Makran.

A large part of North Africa was also captured in the early part of ‘Uthman’s reign under the leadership of the governor of Egypt; Abdullah bin Sa’d. Tripoli, an important Byzantine stronghold first fell to the Muslim forces, followed by Sabetula, the capital city of the Byzantine governor Gregory. The latter was killed, and the Muslims went further west to capture Tunisa, Morocco and parts of Algeria.

Northwards from Iraq, Armenia and Adharbayjan were re-captured following a rebellion. The Muslim army pushed further north after defeating the Romans, making their presence felt in the Caucasus regions and capturing a large swathe of land west of the Caspian Sea

Thus the reign of ‘Uthman witnessed some astonishing military successes. The Islamic empire continued to expand, with the conquest of Cyprus, Anatolia, Khurasan, Afghanistan, Samarkand, Tushkent as well as Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia.

These military victories brought immense wealth to the Caliphate in the form of booty and land tax. For example, the land tax (kharaj) from Egypt alone was four million dinar. ‘Uthman retained some, but not all of the economic policies of ‘Umar. ‘Umar had decreed that conquered land was not to be divided up amongst the army, but would remain with the local population as official state land. The local farmers paid a tax (fay’) on this land according to the income derived from it. ‘Uthman continued this policy causing consternation among sections of the army.

However ‘Uthman increased the stipends paid to those who had participated in the wars of conquest (ahl al fay’) by twenty five per cent. ‘Uthman also lifted the restrictions placed by ‘Umar on the purchase of land in the conquered territories. Taking advantage of loans from the public treasury, many Companions purchased agricultural land in Iraq and become wealthy landowners. This caused jealously among some of the local population and this resentment was later exploited by those who wished to challenge the Caliph’s authority. ‘Uthman also continued the programme of public works started by his predecessor ‘Umar, and had numerous canals dug for agricultural purposes as well as masjids, rest houses for travellers and schools.

From the religious angle, ‘Uthman is best remembered for his decision to unite the Muslims on a standard text of the Qur’an. Zayd ibn Thabit was chosen to lead a committee of four Companions renowned for their scholarship of the Qur’an, in order to make official copies from the mushaf held by Hafsa, daughter of the late Caliph ‘Umar. Seven copies in total were made and were sent to the various regions with an official recitor. With every copy of the Qur’an, ‘Uthman sent a qari to teach it. This was to emphasise that the recitation of the Qur’an had to be learnt orally through a teacher who had an authentic transmission going back to the Prophet (sallahu alaihi wa sallam). Recitation could never be solely based on the text. The script itself was in the Koofee script without nuqat and tashkeel. All other manuscripts were destroyed and all new copies were to be made from the official copy, known as the Mushaf ‘Uthman. Another significant religious event in the reign of ‘Uthman was the extension of the Prophet’s mosque in 29H.

The beginning of the fitnah

The agitation against ‘Uthman’s authority began in Iraq. Salim ibn Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said: “Tribulation will come from there” and he pointed towards the East.

One of the central figures in the agitation against and the eventual killing of ‘Uthman was a Yemeni Jew called Abdullah ibn Saba who claimed to profess Islam. His intention was solely to cause disruption amongst the Muslims. Abdullah ibn Saba was able to successfully exploit underlying tensions in the provinces. Some western historians mention that there was tension between the early participants in the battles of conquests, and the later arrivals, particularly in Kufa and Bas:ra. The former were given handsome financial rewards for their services to Islam and had acquired much wealth, despite the fact that many of them were not from powerful tribes. This was resented by the later-comers, thus causing tension between the two groups.

T:abari states that in Kufa, ‘Uthman had ordered the execution of several men from nobility of Kufa for their participation in a murder. The fathers of these men were aggrieved by this, and were looking for an opportunity for revenge. In Egypt, there was discontent with ‘Uthman for replacing ‘Amr bin Al ‘As: with Abdullah bin Sa’d, as well as ‘Uthman’s decision to assign the latter one fifth of the booty from the North African campaign. In Bas:ra, complaints had been made against the governor, Abu Musa al Ash’ari in the time of ‘Umar and ‘Uthman acquiesced to their demands. And in Syria, Abu Dharr was expressing his dissatisfaction with, as he saw it, the abandonment of the life of asceticism that was prevalent in the time of the Prophet.

A number of allegations were directed against ‘Uthman. Firstly it was claimed that he gave preference to his family members when appointing governors. Secondly, it was alleged that the governors he appointed were incompetent and thirdly that he ignored their incompetence. “However out of 12 provinces in the Islamic state, only in four; Egypt, Syria, Kufa and Bas:ra were relatives of ‘Uthman appointed” The foster son of ‘Uthman, Abu Hudhayfa was not given any position of authority by ‘Uthman, much to the annoyance of the latter.

Reply to the allegation of nepotism

Many Muslim and non-Muslim historians accuse ‘Uthman of nepotism. Those who accuse him of this include Taha Hussain in his book ‘Othman’ , S. Khuda Bukhsh in his book ‘Contributions to the history of Islamic Civilisation Volume 1’ as well as most Shia ‘historians’. This allegation was also made by ‘Uthman’s adversaries and they used this, along with other allegations to disparage his integrity and to encourage the people to revolt against him.

However all the allegations of nepotism were unfounded. I will discuss the four governors who were related to ‘Uthman; Walid ibn Uqba, Abdullah ibn Sa’d, Mu’awiya and Abdullah bin Amir, to refute the allegation of nepotism.

In 25 AH Walid ibn Uqba, the foster brother of ‘Uthman replaced Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas as governor of Kufa after the latter had a dispute with Abdullah ibn Masud.. In the first five years of his governership. Walid was very popular with the local people; he suppressed the revolts in Armenia and Adharbayjan, and he acquired a large amount of booty. Prior to this, in the khilafate of Abu Bakr, Walid was entrusted with carrying secret messages of war between Abu Bakr and Khalid bin Walid. He was then sent as a general to conquer East Jordan. He was also given positions of authority in the time of ‘Umar. Hence Walid had a proven track record as an effective governor and statesman. ‘Uthman stated that: “I did not appoint al-Walid because he is my brother, I appointed him because he is the son of Umm Hakim al-Bayda, the aunt of the Messenger of Allah, (salahu alaihi wa sallam) Walid ibn Uqba was later replaced by Sa’id ibn Al-’As: in 30AH, after a false allegation of drinking was made against him. The fact that ‘Uthman had him flogged and dismissed as governor, rebuts the argument of those who accuse ‘Uthman of favouring him by appointing him as governor.

In the reign of ‘Umar, Egypt was divided into two provinces; Upper and Lower Egypt. Abdullah ibn Sa’d was placed in charge of Upper Egypt, and ‘Amr bin Al-‘As: was in charge of Lower Egypt. ‘Uthman reintegrated Egypt into one province, disposing of Amr bin Al- ‘As: and placing his foster brother, Abdullah ibn Sa’d in charge of the province. This move was unpopular with some of the Egyptians. ‘Amr bin Al- ‘As: was a popular military leader, and it was under him that Egypt was conquered. However the claim that the change of governorship was a politically foolish move, motivated only by ‘Uthman’s desire to please his relatives does not hold. Firstly the deposed Amr bin Al- ‘As: was also a relative of ‘Uthman; his (step) brother in law. Secondly, the revenues from Egypt increased under Abdullah ibn Sa’d governorship showing that his appointment brought financial benefit to the Caliphate. Although the services of Amr bin Al- ‘As: had to be called upon to repel the Byzantine attack on Egypt, Abdullah ibn Sa’d was far from being a weak military leader. Under his governorship, most of north Africa was conquered and along with it, a huge amount of spoils. Abdullah bin Sa’d built a strong navy and defeated the Romans in numerous navel battles.

Under ‘Uthman, Syria, Jordan and Palestine were consolidated into a single province, with Mu’awiyah as its governor .This was not a new appointment; under ‘Umar, Mu’awiyah’s authority prior to this covered most but not all of Syria. ‘Uthman extended his authority to include Palestine and Emessa. Syria was of great strategic importance. Unlike the Persians, the Byzantines were far from defeated. The Byzantines were a formidable enemy and for hundreds of years after the conquest of Syria they were still threatening to retake the land they has lost. Syria was on the front line against the Byzantines and needed to be defended from land and sea. Mu’awiyah defeated the Byzantine navy, conquering their strategically vital naval port of Cyprus, repulsed the Byzantine attack on Syria and led an, albeit unsuccessful attack on Constantinople. By launching annual attacks on the Byzantines, he kept them in a state of unease, and hence protecting the northern border. Mu’awiyah’s twenty year rule over Syria was one of justice. Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The behaviour of Mu’awiyah with the people was the best behaviour of any ruler”. Ibn Abbas said: ‘I have not seen a man more suited to rulership than Mu’awiyah…how can ‘Uthman be censured for appointing him when ‘Umar appointed him before him, and he was appointed by Abu Bakr before ‘Umar”. It is a testament to his skill, that there was no dissention in Sham during his rule.

Abu Musa Al Ash’ari was the governor of Bas:ra under ‘Umar. During this time, the people of Bas:ra made a number of allegations against him. ‘Umar thoroughly investigated these complaints and found them to be false. Under ‘Uthman, the Bas:rans complained again. ‘Uthman replaced him with his cousin Abdullah bin Amir, Thus the appointment of his cousin was not arbitrary; it was a response to the requests of the local population. Abdullah bin Amir was a military genius. Although aged only twenty five when he took his position as governor, within a few years he conquered huge territories in the eastern provinces of Persia reaching as far as Kabul. Hence, the appointment of Abdullah bin Amir brought huge military and financial gains to the Caliphate and paved the way for further conquests during the Ummayad period.

The above four examples demonstrate that criticism of ‘Uthman’s choice of governors in the four strategic provinces of Kufa, Egypt, Syria, Bas:ra is baseless when we examine the achievements of these governors. In the main it is the Rafidah Shi’a who propagate these lies, however a number of ignorant Sunni writers blindly follow the Shi’a historians and also propagate these views.

Qad:i Abu Bakr Ibn al Arabi states in his book Defence Against Disaster : the Accurate Position of the Companions after the Prophet’s Death:

“Any one who considers the life of the governors of ‘Uthman and their jihad and their virtues will see that they are at the highest pinnacle of the men in government. He will feel no hesitation in confirming that they were among the architects of the strong basis of the administrative and military glory of Islam”

Abdullah ibn Saba spreads fitnah throughout the provinces

Abdullah ibn Saba settled in Madina to delve into the affairs of the Muslims and to study their weak points. In 33AH he heard that an individual in Bas:ra called Hakam bin Jabalah had been temporarily imprisoned for criminal activities. Ibn Saba travelled to Bas:ra and befriended ibn Jabalah. Together they started a propaganda campaign against the governor and the Caliph. He also started propagating false beliefs such as the divine right of ‘Ali to be the Caliph. His display of love for ‘Ali was expressed so eloquently that soon a party in support of ‘Ali was formed Differences between Arabs and non Arabs, between Umayyads and Hashimites, between Bedouins and city dwellers were exploited. In the same year, the governor expelled him from Bas:ra and he left for Kufa. However he left behind a following on Bas:ra. In Kufa, Ibn Saba found fertile ground for his activities. Malik ibn Ashtar was already working against the governor and the Caliph, and they jointly carried out propaganda against the Caliph.

Malik ibn Ashtar and his co-conspirators were expelled from Kufa for their anti – government activities. They were detained in Sham by Abdur Rahman ibn Khalid bin Walid. Ashtar repented and was sent to Madina to see ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman accepted their repentance and allowed him to return to Kufa.

After his expulsion from Kufa, Ibn Saba travelled to Syria, where he tried to win Abu Dharr to his cause. Abu Dharr had a dispute with Mu’awiyah regarding the Baytul Mal, which Ibn Saba tried unsuccessfully to exploit. He left Damascus and travelled to Egypt.

In Egypt, there was already discontent against the governor Abdullah ibn Sa’d. The latter was busy with the campaigns in North Africa and was not able to give the internal problems his immediate concern. In Egypt, Ibn Saba maintained letter contact with his supporters in Bas:ra and Kufa. A letter writing campaign was started as a result of which countless letters of complaints of alleged atrocities against the governors of Kufa, Bas:ra and Egypt, (and by implication against ‘Uthman who appointed these governors) were arriving in Madina. In addition, forged letters were sent to these regions in the name of ‘Ali, T:alh:a and Zubair, complaining against ‘Uthman. Many sincere but gullible people were led to belief that the leading Companions in Madina were against ‘Uthman.

In 34 AH, ‘Uthman called a meeting of the governors in Madina after the Hajj to discuss the situation. Mu’awiya from Syria, Abdullah bin Sa’d from Egypt, Sa’id bin Al-’As: from Kufah and Abdullah bin Amir from Bas:ra attended, as did governors of smaller provinces. It was agreed that there was very little substance behind the complaints. However ‘Uthman was reluctant to take punitive action This was due to his ardent desire not to spill the blood of his fellow Muslims. The view of Sa’id ibn Al-’As: was that the leaders of the sedition should be punished severely, even executed as this would be the best way to prevent the situation from escalating. However ‘Uthman hoped that by showing kindness and mercy t them, they would see the error of their ways and sincerely repent.

While Sa’id ibn Al-’As: was still in Madina, Ashtar returned to Kufa, having repented in front of ‘Uthman for his previous mischief. Arriving at Kufa, he claimed that the Sa’id ibn Al-’As: was telling the Caliph to take punitive action against the Kufans. Uproar ensued and a thousand Kufans marched to Madina to see ‘Uthman. Although ‘Uthman managed to pacify them, they were insistent that Sa’id ibn Al-’As: be deposed and replaced by Abu Musa Al Ash’ari . ‘Uthman agreed to this.

The Complaints against ‘Uthman.

The influx of complaints from the provinces led some Companions to approach ‘Uthman. He agreed to send reliable individuals to the provinces to investigate and report back. Muh:ammad bin Maslamah was sent to Kufa, Usama bin Zayd to Bas:rah and Ibn ‘Umar to Syria. They reported back stating that the allegations against the governors were unfounded. After the Hajj season, ‘Uthman agreed to hear any complaints from the people

A number of objections were raised. Qad:i Abu Bakr Ibn al Arabi in his book Al Awaasim bil Qawaasim mentions a number of complaints made against ‘Uthman, and a rebuttal of these complaints.

1) It was alleged that ‘Uthman gave lavish gifts to his relatives. ‘Uthman replied that this was so, however it was from his personal wealth and not the Treasury

2) ‘Uthman burnt copies of the Qur’an. ‘Ali ibn Talib said: ‘If I were in charge when Uthmaan had been, I would have done the same as he did’. He also said: “By Allah, he only burnt them with permission from the assembly of the Companions”.

3) Uthman did not attend Badr and was defeated on the day of Uhud. He was not at the covenant of Ridwan at Hudaybiya. Bukhari states in the Book of the Virtue of the Companions that Ibn ‘Umar replied to this doubt by saying: “As for his flight on the day of Uhud, I testify that Allah has forgiven him and pardoned him. As for his absence from Badr, the daughter of the Messenger… was his wife and she was ill”. The Prophet (salahu alaihi wa sallam) assigned him a portion of the booty from Badr, and hence he is considered as one of the people of Badr despite his absence.

Regarding the pledge of Ridwan, it was taken to avenge the blood of ‘Uthman, after a false rumour spread that the Quraysh had killed him. The pledge was done for ‘Uthman. The Prophet (salahu alaihi wa sallam) held out his right hand saying: This is the hand of ‘Uthman”.

4) The claim that he beat Ibn Masud until his ribs were broken is unsubstantiated. In fact in the dispute between Sa’d ibn Waqqas and Ibn Masud, ‘Uthman judged in favour of the latter

5) The claim that he beat ‘Ammar until his intestines were split open is again unsubstantiated. T:abari narrates that a dispute occurred between ‘Ammar and Abbas ibn Utba which led ‘Uthman to discipline both by beating them. Ibn al Arabi mentions that if his intestines had split open, he would never have lived.

6) ‘Uthman allegedly exiled Abu Dharr to Ar-Rababha. Abu Dharr was critical of the governors of ‘Uthman for, as he saw it, hoarding up gold and silver. However other companions including ibn ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and Mu’awiyah did not consider wealth on which zakat had been paid as horded treasure. Abu Dharr requested that ‘Uthman send him to Ar-Rababha, a place three miles from Madina as the Prophet had commanded him to leave Madina when the built up area reached an area called Sal. ‘Uthman gave him permission and provided him with camels and slaves. Hence Abu Dharr was not exiled, but chose to leave Madina.

The planned assassination of ‘Uthman.

Having failed to disparage ‘Uthman openly, the ring leaders of the sedition decided to use the following Hajj as an opportunity to depose ‘Uthman. In the month of Shawal in 35AH about 3,000 followers of Ibn Saba simultaneously made their way to Madina from Bas:rah, Kufa and Egypt. Many believed that ‘Ali, T:alh:a and Zubair were also calling for the overthrow of ‘Uthman. Pledges of allegiance were presented to the three aforementioned Companions in Madina, who flatly refused. ‘Uthman sent ‘Ali to them to hear their complaints. One of their demands was the dismissal of Abdullah ibn Sa’d as the governor of Egypt and his replacement with Muh:ammad ibn Abi Bakr. ‘Uthman agreed to this demand and the rebels left for their respective cities, taking different routes, satisfied with ‘Uthman.. However, according to T:abari, Al-Ashtar and Hukaym bin Jabala stayed behind in Madina.

A few days later the rebels returned to Madina, simultaneously even though they had taken different routes back to Kufa, Bas:ra and Egypt. They cordoned of the house of ‘Uthman and alleged that they had intercepted a letter from ‘Uthman to Abdullah bin Sa’d to kill them when they arrive back in Egypt. Al –‘Arabi mentions that if the Egyptians had intercepted the letter and then subsequently made their way back to Madina to confront ‘Uthman, the fact that the Kufans and Basrans arrived back in Madina at the same time, even the three groups had been travelling in a totally different direction shows this had been pre-arranged. A forged letter had been sent to the Iraqis, on behalf of ‘Ali, asking them to return. On their return to Madina, ‘Ali refused to support him to which they retorted, ‘then why did you write to us?’. ‘Ali replied: ‘by Allah, I did not write to you’. Hence both letters had been forged by the followers of Ibn Saba, who were intent on killing ‘Uthman. Many of the rebels were misled by the agitators. Also T:abari states ‘Uthman would not have written to Abdullah in Sa’d in Egypt, because he had give Abdullah permission to come to Madina and he knew that he had left Egypt”.

Although ‘Uthman took an oath that he had not written the letter, the rebels demanded that he abdicate but ‘Uthman refused. Suyuti states that the Prophet (salahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Perhaps Allah will robe you in a garment, so if the hypocrites wish to strip it off you, do not take it off you until you meet me” .A siege began of ‘Uthman’s house, he was prevented from coming out of his house and eventually the water supply was cut off. A number of companions including H:asan, Hussayn, Muh:ammad bin T:alh:a, Abdullah ibn Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with them) guarded the house and some of them were wounded in a fight with the rebels

‘Uthman requested that those who were defending him should leave, and rejected repeated offers of assistance from various companions (including Abu Hurayra and Zayd bin Thabbit). Uthman said: “I ask those who believe they owe me obedience to hold back their hands and their weapons… I have no need of any defence” He also said: The Prophet (salahu alaihi wa sallam) made a covenant with me and I will be patient with it. Ahmed narrates that during the siege ‘Uthman said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah, (salahu alaihi wa sallam) in a dream, and I saw Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. They told me, ‘Be patient, you will break fast with us tomorrow’. Then he called for a Qur’an and he spread it open before him”.

This refutes the claim that ‘Uthman was a weak leader. He was willing to endure this calamity which he knew would result in his death, preferring to sacrifice his own blood rather than spill the blood of his fellow Muslims. If he had wished, he could have escaped, or sent the Ansar and Muhajarun against the rebels. But he preferred to be patient.

The rebels were concerned that the people would shortly be returning from Hajj, and apprehend them, so they decided to kill ‘Uthman. They entered his house from the back, after scaling the walls Muh:ammad ibn Abi Bakr caught the beard of ‘Uthman and insulted him. ‘Uthman replied; ‘if your father had been alive, he would have respected my age. At this, Muh:ammad ibn Abi Bakr felt ashamed and left. Kinanah bin Bashr struck ‘Uthman with his sword. ‘Uthman’s wife tried to stop the blow, and he cut of her fingers. At the time, ‘Uthman was reading the Qur’an and his blood dropped on the verse: ‘So Allah is sufficient for you against them’. ‘Uthman was martyred at the aged of 82 in the month of Dhul Hijjah in 35AH. He was buried three days after his martyrdom. May Allah have mercy upon his soul.

The consequences of Uthman’s martyrdom.

The consequences were far reaching. Al –‘Arabi, mentions that after the assassination, Madina was in the grip of the rebels with Ghafiqi bin H:arb Akki in charge. They offered the Caliph to T:alh:a and then Zubair, but both refused. Eventually the bayah was given to ‘Ali. Ali was not in a position to hold the murderers of ‘Uthman to account, for in reality, they were in control. However many companions insisted that the blood of ‘Uthman be avenged before they gave ‘Ali the bayah. When ‘Ali moved to Iraq, ‘Uthman’s murderers moved with
him. They were responsible for the Battle of the Camel, after the ‘Ali had reached a peace agreement with the camp of Aishah. Hence this bloody battle was a direct result of the assassination.

The death of ‘Uthman also lead to the battle of Siffin, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims. The subsequent arbitration between ‘Ali and Mu’awiyah led to ‘Uthman’s murderers turning against ‘Ali, and pronouncing him and Mu’awiyah to be kuffar. Hence the first sect of Islam – the Khawarij emerged as a result of the killing of ‘Uthman.

Most of the Caliphate of ‘Ali was taken up with the civil war that began due to the assassination of ‘Uthman. Hence another consequence of ‘Uthman’s assassination was that the military conquests that were continuing unabated during the time of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman, almost grind to a halt during the Caliphate of ‘Ali.

This article drew extensively from the following works:

Al-T:abari, Muh:ammad bin Jari (Translated by Humphreys, R. Stephen) (1990).History of al-Tabari, The Crisis of the Early Caliphate, Volume XV. New York: State University of New York Press. as-Suyuti, Jalal ad-Din (Translated by Clarke, ‘Abdassamad) (1995) The History of the Caliphs who took the Right Way. London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. Al-‘Arabi, Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn (Prepared and Edited by Shaykh ‘Abdalqadir Al-Murabit) (1995). Defence Against Disaster: the Accurate Position of the Companions after the Prophet’s Death. Cape Town: Madinah Press. Najeebabadi Akbar Shah (Revised by Mubarakpuri, Safi-ur-Rah:man) (2000). The History of Islam Volume One, Riyadh: Dar-us-Salam Publications.


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