Martyrdom of Amir ul Momineen, Caliph of Prophet, Imam of the Brave, Ruler of the Muslims, Usman b Affan
After Second Caliph, Umar b Khattab, was murdered by a Persian Slave, Abu Lolo, during the morning prayers, people advised Umar to nominate his successor like his predecessor, Abu Bakar b Abi Qahafa. But Umar said to them that he might follow “who is better than my predecessor” and has not nominated anyone as his successor and left the matter to Muslims. The second day, Umar’s condition deteriorated and it was widely believed that he might not be able to sustain for another two days. The wounds were so deep that blood was used to ooze like stream of running water. He summoned his daughter, Hafsa, who was also the wife of Prophet and dictated her his will about a loan from the Bait-ul-Mall and his moveable and immoveable property. After his will, he summoned Abdur Rehman b Awf, Talha bin Ubaid Ullah, Saad bin Abi Waqas, Zubair bin Awam, Usman bin Affan and Ali bin Abu Talib. They were to choose the Caliph amongst them. Usman was chosen as Caliph. However, some historical accounts state that Ali had objections over it and he alleged that all of the people in the Shura were relatives of Usman whereas Ali had only one relative who was also related to Usman maternally so they conspired amongst themselves and Usman was made Caliph.
Ali who thought himself as real successor of Prophet has alleged rigging in election but accepted the result and submitted to Usman. Usman has been a lenient man of sharp intellect. Unlike his predecessor, Umar, he relaxed many laws specifically for the converts and non-Muslims in Islamic Empire. He was also weary of the harsh treatment of the governors appointed by Umar so he replaced them. Usman’s actions were highly criticized as people alleged that most of the governors appointed by Usman were his relatives. Unrest grew in Islamic Empire especially in the Provinces of Egypt, Basra, Kufa and Jazeera and a mass movement formed. Rebels alleged Usman of nepotism, embezzlement in public exchequer, rigging in elections of Caliph and killing people who opposed his practices via his governors. He was also alleged to have become vessel of Muawiya I and Marvan I and these two people were thought to be the epicenter of Power and real Caliphs. Following is the list of the allegations levelled against Usman by rebels:
(1) Usman rigged elections by buying Abdur Rehman bin Awf, Saad bin Abi Waqas and Talha bin Ubaid Ullah and became Caliph unrightfully whereas real Caliph who actually was selected by the Council of Caliphate was Ali. Rebels presented evidence that Zubair bin Awam has publically told people that Usman rigged Caliphate Elections the blame that Zubair denied and even exchanged hot words with Ali during the battle of Jamal fought in Basra later in the Caliphate of Ali.
(2) Usman has become a King has appointed his close relatives as governors, Chief Secretary, Treasurer, Police Chief and Army Chief. Not only this but Chief Justice and on district level, his relatives or his kinsmen from Bani Ummaiyah are given positions whereas many better people who are also companions of Prophet are present.
(3) Usman has done huge embezzlement in public funds and has started projects that benefit his relatives of his business. He has stolen camels from Bait ul Mall and using them as his trade vessels. Usman has also been steeling dates from the Orchids of Medina that belong to Bait ul Mall and selling them and keeping share of profit for him.
(4) Usman has been sidelining everyone who opposes his tyranny. He has challenged and edited the text of Quran and deleted and rewrote verses that didn’t suit him. Abdullah bin Masood was exiled by him, Ayesha’s codex was watered down and Abuzar Ghaffari was exiled to the Awali of Medina.
(5) Usman has become vessel of Muawiya I and Marvan I. They freely use the seal and official titles and styles only entitled to Caliph and whole Bani Ummaiyah has become a royal family and enormous wealth has been accumulated by them and they don’t pay Zakat and cheat the system by either keeping their wealth in circulation or lying about it.
(6) Usman has been living lavishly and plundering the Bait ul Mall whereas ordinary man’s living standard is getting worst day by day. Usman eats food made with goat milk and cheese with finest meat and wheat available in whole Islamic Empire.
The allegations were serious in nature and some resentment was also shown by the companions and wives of Prophet to Usman’s practices. The allegations emerged from the people of Medina were religious in nature and added fuel to the fire. Later on all of the companions who alleged Usman of misdeeds regretted and announced publically their mistake. Following were the allegations from the people of Medina:
(1) Ayesha alleged Usman of changing the way of Prophet by praying full 4 Rakah of Prayer during Hajj whereas Prophet prayed 2 and also Abu Bakar and Umar prayed 2 Rakah. She also criticized Usman for changing the Salah of Journey to 2 Rakah from 4 whereas Prophet prayed 2 and his successors, Abu Bakar and Umar, also prayed 2 Rakah.
(2) Abuzar Ghaffari alleged Usman of accumulating wealth and encouraging lavish lifestyles and accused him of opposing Prophet’s way of modesty.
(3) Amr bin Al-Aas accused Usman of removing him from governorship of Egypt unlawfully whereas people were happy with his performance and policies.
(4) Talha bin Ubaid Ullah and Zubair bin Awam also disputed Usman over policy matters and rebels fanned and used this as main tool in their incitement of masses.
(5) Ali bin Abu Talib accused him of nepotism and becoming a puppet in hands of Muawiya I and Marvan I. Ali bin Abu Talib accused him of changing practice of the Sermon of Eid that is given after the prayers to commuting it before the prayers.
These allegations were minor in nature but amplified through propagandist of different tribes of Arabia who opposed Usman and Bani Ummaiya. With the passage of less than 2 years, revolt started in Egypt and Rebels planned a Long March to Medina.
First Long March to Media:
Rebels incited by the allegations against Usman marched to Medina from Cairo. They were in large numbers and they camped outside the Medina in Awali. Usman became aware of it and sent emissaries to his governor in Egypt to inquire about the root cause of agitation against him. He also nominated Ali bin Abu Talib as Chief Negotiator on his behalf from Muhajireen and Abdullah bin Salamah from Ansar who conducted several meetings with the rebel leaders. Muhammad bin Huzaifa was an orphan who was raised by Usman in his house. He asked Usman to appoint him as governor of some province but Usman didn’t think he was fit for the office. He alleged Usman of appointing only people from Bani Ummaiyah as governors and leaders and alleged that “even people younger than him are governors”. He rebelled against Usman and raised and fanned anti-Usman sentiments in Egypt. Abdullah bin Huzaifa was approached by Ali bin Abu Talib and Ibn e Salamah. The rebels and their leader Abdullah bin Huzaifa presented following allegations against Usman:
(1) Usman prefers Bani Ummaiyah and his close relatives over companions of Prophet who are more able and accomplished than them and presented resentment of the people of Egypt on sacking of Amr bin Al-Aas and mismanagement of Abdullah bin Sarah.
(2) Usman has become puppet of Muawiya I and Marvan I and all important decisions are taken by these duo and Marvan is defecto Caliph and freely uses Caliph’s authority.
(3) Usman has laid Shura to rest and doesn’t consult Shura over taking decisions.
(4) Usman is doing massive embezzlement in public exchequer and expanding his business empire on expanse of public money. They alleged that camels of Bait ul Mall are used as his trade vessels.
They said that Usman should do these to calm down public.
(1) Usman should suspend himself from office until these allegations are proved false
(2) Usman should tender a public apology and accept his faults
(3) Usman should sack Egypt’s governor immediately and reinstate Amr bin Al-Aas
(4) Usman should refrain from taking decisions solely and should put reigns over Marvan and ask him not to use his authority as his personal possession
(5) Usman should stop using public money as his own and public trade vessels as his own and pay back the money he embezzled
Demands were presented to Usman and he consulted Ali and asked him of his opinion. Ali said, “As of preference of Bani Ummaiyah, yes, I also believe you have selected idiots and incapable people over more capable people and installed them on key posts. These young men without any experience and devoid of every logic have agitated other young men who are equally fool as them. As for Abudllah bin Huzaifa is concerned, you have given him such freedom that he speaks ill of you and incite. You should tender public apology and ask Allah for forgiveness and it will calm down the unrest.” Usman accepted Ali’s council and climbed the pulpit of Prophet and said, “O People, I was made Caliph by your will and you willingly accepted my yoke and submitted to my orders. I promised to guide you by the Book of Allah and by the way of Prophet. I always weighed my orders and did what I thought was best for you but, still, if I committed something that is an offense in the sight of Allah, I seek His forgiveness.” Everyone who was present in the mosque including rebels said Amen. Usman also promised to reinstate Amr bin Al-Aas and party scattered. Usman also refuted the rebels accusation that he uses public trade vessels as his own and public pastures for grazing his personal herds. Usman responded that he didn’t stop anyone’s herds from grazing their and he pays rent to the Bait ul Mall for the camels he used as his trade vessels.
While on their way to Egypt, they intercepted an emissary of Usman to the governor of Egypt. He was in possession of letter addressed to the governor and sealed by Usman stating to kill every man of rebels when they reach Egypt. This letter was not written by Usman and according to some sources was forged by the rebels to have an excuse to return back to Medina during the month of Ziqad. Sources and History reveals that this letter was a forgery of rebels as they were looking for an excuse to return to Medina as Hajj season was coming and huge attendance was expected in Mecca from Muslims all over the world. On the other hand, a revolt started in Kufa where Abu Musa Al-Ashari was sacked by Usman. People became furious and there was hooliganism in the Grand Mosque of Kufa. The Iraqis had somewhat same allegations against Usman with addition one. These are the allegations that originated in Iraq that was divided into two provinces, Basra and Kufa.
(1) Usman rigged Caliphate Elections and bought all the members of the Caliph Selection Committee save Zubair bin Awam and real Caliph is Ali.
(2) Usman does nepotism and appoints only selected individuals and his close relatives from Bani Ummaiyah as governors and on important offices. His whole bureaucracy and military elite is comprised of Bani Ummaiyah.
(3) Usman embezzles public money and is corrupt.
(4) Usman has changed the ways of Prophet, Abu Bakar and Umar and is inventing new things in religion called Bidah.
(5) Usman calls public money as his own and Muawiya and Marvan are given free hand and Council or the Congress of the Elders has been unofficially suspended.
(6) Usman owns huge properties in Islamic Empire and expands his business on behalf of public money.
People came to Hijaz that was divided into two provinces, Medina and Mecca as pilgrims. The Iraqi rebels were led by Muhammad Malik Al-Ashtar who has been born and raised in Kufa. He has been very vocal critic of Usman’s policies and refused to accept him as rightful ruler and alleged him of rigging Elections and usurping Ali’s right on Caliphate. There has been a rift between Ali and other Caliphs on the issue of successor of Prophet. Ali and Bani Hashim believed that Ali was nominated as successor by Prophet and the Sermon delivered by Prophet at Ghadir e Khum made it clear that Ali is to be his successor. However, Muslims selected Abu Bakar and Ali was left. Politically, Ali’s bid was unpopular and there is no evidence that Prophet willed to make Ali his successor. There are conflicting traditions from the both sects of Islam, Shia and Sunni, presenting different arguments. But from pure political point of view, Ali was politically very weak until the time of the great uprising during Usman’s reign.
Second Long March against Usman:
Rebels of Egypt came back to Hejaz and camped outside Medina. As Hajj season approached Muslims all over the world flocked Mecca and rebels in the guise of pilgrims joined their brethren from Egypt. The rebels were mostly peasants and people with very low knowledge of religion, theology, Usman’s policies, Usman’s election and Prophet’s life. They believed their leaders to be the only truthful people in whole Islamic Empire. Marchers decided to March into Medina and stage a sit-in outside the Mosque of Prophet. They came to Medina and according to the written histories, Medina was being ruled by them practically. Abdullah bin Umar states that during those days, “Medina was run by hooligans”. When things became very serious, Usman summoned Ali bin Abu Talib and asked him, “O Abul Hassan, do you incite people against me and say that this matter (Caliphate) belonged to you and I usurped it? By Allah, I was amongst the suitors just like you and by Allah if it was given to you I would be the first one to pledge allegiance to you.” Ali replied, “O my Cousin Usman, now that you say what the tongues (of rebels) accuse me. I have not said that to them. They said that Talha bin Ubaid Ullah said that you rigged the fair elections by fixing it through bribe. I do not believe so as for Talha I know him as just man and he is companion of Prophet and your cousin too and you can ask him. As for the other demands, this is true that I advised you to take action and mend your ways but you refused my opinion.” Usman said, “As for your advice, I accepted it. I was waiting for opinion from Muawiya over those matters. Am I not the one, O Ali, who was given the good news of paradise in his life? Was not Prophet happy with me when he passed away?” Ali said, “Indeed.” And added, “in this critical time, all I can advise you is to keep Marvan away and mend your ways. As for me, I have spoken to them already. I will try it again.”
Ali left Usman’s presence and went to meet people. They started to shout, “Here comes Amir ul Momineen”. Ali stopped them from calling him Amir ul Momineen and they showed him the letter that they confiscated from an alleged emissary of Usman. Ali returned to Usman and told him about the letter. Usman said, “By Allah, I have not written such letter and neither had I commanded anyone to write any letter. I, indeed, wrote a letter to Muawiya and asked his opinion over these matters and scribed an order for reinstating Amr as governor of Egypt.” Then he went to Mosque of Prophet and climbed the pulpit. There was huge hooliganism in the Mosque. As Usman climbed the pulpit, people started to raise their voices. He was only able to say, “O People! Listen to your Amir. O People I am Caliph of Prophet” But mob started to pelt stones at Usman and he was shielded by some companions of Prophet and was taken back to his home. This was the last time when Usman was seen publically. Later in following days, rebels presented their demands.
(1) Usman should resign as Caliph as his government has come to standstill by the sea of people that marched to Medina from all over Islamic Empire so he has no moral authority to be Caliph.
(2) A fair investigation to be launched into the rigging done by Usman in elections.
(3) All governors and office bearers installed by Usman to be removed.
Usman was presented those demands and he made following reply:
(a) As for caliphate, I was chosen fairly and there is no doubt over that. Medina and Companions of Prophet bear witness that I am rightful Caliph with right mandate so, therefore, I will not take off this cloak that Allah made me wear at any cost.
(b) All the other allegations were addressed and I reinstated governors of Egypt and Iraq with immediate effect.
(c) As for the allegations of embezzlement, bring sufficient evidence, I will present myself for justice.
(d) As for allegations against my governors, By Allah, I established the Limits of Allah over my nearest kinsmen and even over my own nephew who was unrightfully accused of drinking wine and throwing up whereas he was eating grapes and even they brought false testimonies but still I established Had with my own hands.
(e) As for changing the ways of Prophet, By Allah, I did Ijtihad over the amount of Rakah during Journey and I own a house in Mecca and have family so I feel that I should pray full Salah.
(f) As for commuting the Sermon of Eid before Salah, that day, I was ill so I was late and Muslims were waiting and it was getting hot so I gave sermon before Salah and recited small Surahs so that people don’t get sick.
Still I ask forgiveness from Allah.
Answers were communicated to the Rebels and their ringleaders who were delivering fiery speeches by occupying the Pulpit of Prophet in the mosque of Prophet. When the answers reached rebels, they announced to lay siege to Prophet’s Mosque and House of Usman that was adjacent to the Mosque. Marchers sieged the Usman’s house and Abdullah bin Huzaifa and Muhammad Malik Al-Ashtar delivered fiery speeches and incited people.
Usman’s house was surrounded and Prayer Services were halted in Mosque of Prophet:
Rebels surrounded Caliph’s official residence and some companions such as Ali bin Abi Talib, Hassan bin Ali and Hussain bin Ali along with Talha bin Ubaid Ullah and Zubair started to guard the house of Usman. Rebels’ strength increased, they openly abused Usman and incited people. They also incited people by throwing stones over them. Companions of Prophet and their families were mistreated and most of the companions were confined to their homes. Stones were pelted on the people who tried to speak good about Usman and companions who didn’t see Usman as principally guilty were abused. Rebels seized the Mosque of Prophet and ceased prayer services in the mosque of Prophet. Usman when heard of it became very sad and summoned Talha and asked, “O my cousin Talha, why the prayers has been ceased? Why they want to kill me and drag me on streets whereas they don’t hold any evidence against me except what their tongues lashed” Talha answered, “O Amir ul Momineen, the strength of the Muslims of old has gone. Companions are confined to their homes. Those who say a word in your favor are abused and are pelted with stones.” Talha left and heard that rebels are planning to surround the room where Usman is residing in his house unless he resigns. Talha told this to Zubair and asked the guards not to let in or out anyone after that moment lest rebels take advantage and kill Amir ul Momineen.
Rebels broke down the walls of the house of Usman and entered forcefully and killed the guards. Ali and his two sons who were previously guarding the house retreated and Ali shut himself in his house as rumors were that all is being done to facilitate Ali to become Caliph.
During this course of time, Usman beseeched companions of Prophet and reminded them of his merits and they all agreed to it and accepted that Usman is not wrong and agitation is baseless and has no basis except personal jealousy that has no evidence or merit. They also tried to mediate but Rebels couldn’t accept anyone as Judge and showed distrust against everyone
Murder of Usman:
Exterior walls of Usman’s house were broken down and miscreants entered the house and started to shout slogans against Usman and calling his rule as illegal, usurper and tyrant. Their leaders, Abdullah bin Huzaifa and Muhammad Malik Al-Ashtar, went into the chambers of Usman. Abdullah bin Huzaifa kicked Usman who was reading Quran and Usman said, “O my nephew, your father couldn’t have done that.” He said, “O old fool! You usurper of the Caliphate and promoter of the nepotism. You plundered public money and now the nation has arisen and we will snatch with is ours from you and give this (caliphate) to whom it belongs.” Usman said, “O my son, respect me. I am companion of Prophet and I have not stolen anything from anyone.” Ashtar replied to that and said, “Then resign as Caliph until these allegations are proved false.” And slapped Usman and grabbed his neck. Usman replied, “My Son, leave me. I will not take off this cloak that Allah made me wear.” Then Abdullah took his sword and prepared himself to murder Usman. Usman’s wife Nyla Farazia was watching this she became agitated and tried to stop Muhammad and reminded him that how Usman raised him as his own son and gave him everything. She stopped the sword on her hands and her fingers were chopped down.
Abdullah became reluctant to murder Usman but Muhammad incited him and called him coward and vowed to tell the people outside that Usman also bought him. Abdullah then killed Usman and fled the house and was given thumping welcome by the rebels. In some accounts the name of Killer is Muhammad bin Abu Bakar who also hoarded hatred for Usman as former was prosecuted by Usman over loan that he failed to pay and was threatening the creditor. However, majority of historians agree that Muhammad had a role but the murderer of Usman was Abdullah bin Huzaifa.
Usman’s corpse was mutilated:
Rebels took control of Medina and Usman’s corpse and mutilated it but people disagreed and they left it as it was. Rebels also started their search for Ali to give their misdeed legal cover and found him hiding in his house.
Ayesha’s Role in Agitation against Usman:
Ayesha was not in favor of some of the practices of Usman pertaining to religion. She called him “Old Fool” once but that name spread into rebels like Fire in the forest. Ayesha also wrote letters to rebels but rebels couldn’t produce any letter when it was demanded by Usman.
Usman was denied Burial in Al-Baqi:
Usman’s funeral was led secretly during the night to Baqi but rebels couldn’t let him buried into Baqi and accused him of being expelled from the ranks of Islam after committing blasphemy by not resigning from the office of Caliph. Usman was buried in Baqi Al-Gharqad that was a Jewish graveyard adjacent to the Muslim cemetery. Later Muslims from Medina tore down the wall and started to bury their dead around Usman and the graveyard was annexed into Baqi.
Companions of Prophet vowed to avenge Usman’s Blood:
Rebels found Ali and asked him to become Caliph but Ali refused. However, Talha bin Ubaid Ullah was the first one who held the hand of Ali and pledged his allegiance to him and then later other people pledged.
The first task for Ali was to avenge Usman’s blood but Ali was reluctant. Ayesha, Zubair and Talha started a campaign to avenge Usman’s blood whose two principle accused were biggest supporters of Ali and Muhammad Malik Al-Ashtar was even made Commander of Armed Forces.
Islamic Empire divided and Muawiya I refused to accept Ali as Caliph before the investigation and putting the justice the killers of Usman. A revolt was started in Hejaz, led by companions of Prophet, Basra, Syria and Africa. Egypt was attacked by Muawiya and Muhammad bin Abu Bakar was killed as he was one of the suspects of the Usman’s murder. Muslims fought two battles of Al-Jamal and Al-Saffin and were permanently divided into two groups called Shian al Ali and Shian al Usman. These political differences took religious shape and now today Shia and Sunnis are sworn enemies of each other.
Lessons to be learnt in Present Situation from the episode of Usman:
(1) Allegations against Nawaz Sharif are unfounded and lack evidence and are not proved in any court of Law. Imran and Qadri are playing roles of Abdullah and Ashtar.
(2) Imran and Qadri are asking Nawaz Sharif to resign from office until allegations are proved to be a lie just like the case of Usman.
(3) Nawaz Sharif is accused by Imran and Qadri of nepotism just like Usman and they present no evidence of any misdeeds just like the case of Usman.
(4) Imran and Qadri want people of their choices on key posts just like the case of Usman.
(5) Imran and Qadri have surrounded Prime Minister’s House just like Rebels surrounded the house of Usman.
(6) Imran and Qadri are breaking down the walls of PM House just like what happened with Usman.
It is likely that these Inqilaab and Aazadi marchers may Murder Nawaz Sharif but Nawaz Sharif will become Usman of 21st Century and what will happen next? Just look how divided we stand after the murder of Usman due to some allegations that had no concrete evidence. It is time to wake up and call spade a spade otherwise, you will be divided into two sects of Shian e Imran and Nawaz.