The Role of Aishah in the History of Islam (volume 1)
Part Four : Revolution 'a'ishah Assumes the Leadership of the Revolution
In the riot and uprising against 'Uthman, members of 'A'ishah's family from the tribe of Taym too rose up.
Text of the book
What we have so far described constituted the most important factors used by 'A'ishah for people's opposition to and uprising against 'Uthman. But the improper and wrong acts of 'Uthman and those godless ones around him were so abundant that each of them had its share in sowing the seeds of rebellion and revolution against him and his administration in the people's hearts. Obviously all these factors had their influence in people's uprising against him and in scattering most of the companions away from him.
But those same people (probably due to the same fabricated traditions) could gather enough courage and boldness to protest to the caliph and successor of the Prophet, let alone draw sword upon him! But they were given this courage and boldness by the daring and violent reproaches to 'Uthman by Ibn Mas'ud, 'Ammar ibn Yasir, Abu Dharr al- Ghifari, Jundab and other top companions. Therefore the excuse needed only a spark to start the people's uprising and revolution, and this spark came with the historical verdict of 'A'ishah which eventually overthrew 'Uthman despite all his power and position, leading to his assassination.
With her intelligence in sight, 'A'ishah made utmost use of people's readiness to rise against 'Uthman to her own favour, since she saw that the people had reached the limit of their patience due to his chaotic rule and could no longer tolerate the injustice of the careless administrators around him. Thus, she decided to preserve her position and domination, assume the role of a leader in rousing public antagonism against the caliph, and lead them in the direction she desired.
The people who were thirsty for revolution against the oppressive government of 'Uthman were given a fresh exhilaration and impetus by the words and actions of 'A'ishah against 'Uthman, and were made more optimistic of victory. Her name words and actions were carried to all parts of Medina, Hejaz and the whole extensive realm of Islam, especially when the members of the Taym tribe rose in support of 'A'ishah and assumed a significant role in this uprising.
al-Baladhuri who has a high position among the followers of the school of caliphs, writes in his book of "Ansab al-ashraf": "The members of the Taym household in the uprising against 'Uthman rose to aid Muhammad, son of Abu Bakr, and Talhah, his cousin. The rise of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and 'A'ishah's brother supported by the Taym tribe began in Egypt, for Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah made preparations for a rebellion in Egypt against 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh who had been appointed as its governor by 'Uthman, and at last took control of that land.
Now before describing this event, we should introduce three historical figures who played a significant role in these events. Three figures 'Uthman gave a governmental post to 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd shedding of whose blood had been declared lawful by the Prophet.
Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
1-'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh 'Abd Allah, son of Sa'd, was the grandson of Abi Sarh of the 'Amir al- Qurayshi tribe. His mother had given suck to 'Uthman, and thus 'Uthman and 'Abd Allah were foster brothers. 'Abd Allah embraced Islam before the capture of Mecca and emigrated to Medina to join the Prophet's scribes. But he turned apostate after some time and returned to Mecca. He said to the Quraysh chiefs: "Muhammad was subservient to my will and carried out whatever I told him, for example when he wanted me to write "Dear Sir" and I asked him whether I could write "Learned Sir", he said: 'It makes no difference both of them are correct." God has sent the following verse about 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd:
"And who is more unjust than he who forges a lie against Allah, or says: It has been revealed to me; while nothing has been revealed to him, and he who says: I can reveal the like of what Allah has revealed and if you had seen when the unjust had been in the agonies of death and the angels shall spread forth their hands: Give up your souls; today shall you be recompensed with an ignominious chastisement because you spoke against Allah other than the truth and because you showed your pride against His communications." 175 When the Muslims captured Mecca the Prophet issued a decree for 'Abd Allah's death, even if he may have clung on to the cloth of the Ka'bah for refuge. 'Abd Allah, in fear, took refuge with 'Uthman who concealed him somewhere, until he was brought to the Prophet asking him for clemency. The Prophet remained silent for some time without looking up and at last he granted it. When 'Uthman returned, the Prophet turned to those present and said: "I remained silent to see if one of you would rise and cut off his head." They said: "You could have made a sign to us to do so." The Prophet said: "It is not worthy of a prophet to give a signal with his eye."176 When 'Uthman became caliph, he appointed such a notorious fellow as governor of Egypt in the year 25 AH because of being his brother, and dismissed 'Amr ibn al-'As from that post.
'Abd Allah conquered some parts of Africa, and 'Uthman rewarded him with one-fifth of the spoils of war. He remained governor of Egypt until the year 34 AH, and after the uprising staged by Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah he fled to 'Asqalan to stay there until 'Uthman's death. He died in the year 57 or 59 AH. 2-Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
Muhammad was the son of Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and his mother was Asma', daughter of 'Umays from the al-Khath'am tribe, who was at first the consort of Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, and after his martyrdom, she married Abu Bakr. Muhammad was born on the way to Mecca in the last Hajj pilgrimage of the Prophet.
When Abu Bakr died, 'Ali married Asma' and thus Muhammad grew up in 'Ali's house and was brought up by him. So he became one of his steadfast devotees.
Muhammad took part under 'Ali in the battles of al-Jamal (against his own sister 'A'ishah) and Siffin, and was then appointed by the Imam as governor of Egypt. He arrived there on 15th of Ramadan in the year 37 AH and held the rein of affairs. But when in the year 38 AH, Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan sent 'Amr ibn al-'As with an army to conquer Egypt 'Amr defeated Muhammad and captured him, and Mu'awiyah ibn Khudayj killed upon the order of 'Amr, his dead body was placed in the belly of a dead donkey and burnt.177
**3-Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah ** Abu al-Qasim Muhammad was the son of Abu Hudhayfah ibn 'Utbah of the 175. The Holy Qur'an, Chapter al-An'am, Verse 93.
al-Isti'ab 2/367 to 370, al-Isabah 2/309 to 310 and 1/11 to 12, Usd al-ghabah 3/173 to 174, Ansab al-ashraf 5/49, al-Mustadrak 3/100 and concerning the commentary of the verse 93 of Chapter al-An'am refer to such commentaries as al-Qurtubi and others, and Ibn Abi al-Hadid 1/68.
al-Isti'ab 3/328-329, al-Isabah 3/451 and other histories about the events of the years 37 and 38 of Hijrah. 'Abd Shams al-Qurayshi tribe, and his mother was Sahlah, daughter of Suhayl ibn 'Amr of the 'Amir tribe. His parents were among the emigrants to Abyssinia where Muhammad was born. Abu Hudhayfah was martyred in al- Yamamah in the combat with Musaylamah, the False (Kadhdhab). 'Uthman adopted Muhammad as a son and brought him up so he grew up under 'Uthman's care.
When 'Uthman became caliph, Muhammad asked his leave to go to Egypt to fight the infidels, and 'Uthman gave him permission to do so. So Muhammad went there and when the people rose in rebellion against 'Uthman, he too took a significant role in inciting the people and eventually attacked 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh and defeating him drove him out of Egypt and held the rein of affairs.
The Egyptians willingly accepted his rule and swore allegiance to him and thus he became governor there.
When 'Ali became caliph, he retained Muhammad in his position and Muhammad continued to rule until Mu'awiyah who was on his way to Siffin to fight 'Ali, but turned course to fight Muhammad. But Muhammad in this confrontation prevented him from entering al-Fustat, the first Egyptian city on the ash-Sham side, but when he found himself unable to make a stand against Mu'awiyah he proposed peace to him.
In peace negotiations Mu'awiyah agreed that Muhammad and his companions should be secure and leave Egypt. But when he departed with thirty of his friends from Egypt, Mu'awiyah contrary to his promise and in an unmanly manner, took captive and imprisoned him in Damascus and he was eventually killed by Rushdayn, Mu'awiyah's slave. Muhammad had had the benefit of association with the Prophet.178 Now before dealing with the story of the uprising of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah, we must say that 'Amr ibn al-'As who conquered Egypt had held its governorship since 'Umar's time and a part of his duty was to collect taxes and act as the imam of the congregation. But this manner of governing did not last long in 'Uthman's time, and soon enough he was relieved of the task of collecting taxes, and 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh was entrusted with this duty. 'Amr ibn al-'As was commissioned to deal only with the people's religious matters and lead the congregation prayer. But soon after, he was relieved of this duty, too, and it was given to 'Abd Allah, thus allowing his foster brother to perform both duties, and in this way 'Amr ibn al-'As was removed from the governorship of Egypt.179 178. History of at-Tabari 5/108.
- al-Isti'ab 3/321, Usd al-ghabah 4/315, al-Isabah 3/54, History of at-Tabari and Ibn al-Athir concerning the events of the years 30 to 36 of the Hijrah.
The uprising of the Egyptians
O 'Uthman! We have come to you in protest of your deeds and the conduct of your governor.
People of Egypt
al-Baladhuri writes: After the peoples in various parts of the extensive realm of Islam joined together in their protests against 'Uthman, and when 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh held the governorship of Egypt on 'Uthman's behalf, Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr arrived in Egypt and became united with Muhammad ibn Talhah180 in their purpose.
On the morning of their arrival to Egypt, owing to his delay for the congregation prayer Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah was compelled to perform it all by himself and recite aloud. When 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh, who was present, heard his voice, he ordered to bring him to his presence after the completion of his prayer. When they took him to 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh he asked Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah: -Why have you come here?
-To participate in the combat with infidels. -Who is with you?
-Muhammad, son of Abu Bakr. -I swear that this is not so. You have come to start a riot and rebellion. Then he ordered to imprison both of them. So they had to ask the aid of Muhammad ibn Talhah to intercede for them with the governor so as not to prevent them from taking part in the combat against infidels. Thus 'Abd Allah set them free and took part in the war himself. But as he was apprehensive of those two, he arranged to provide a separate ship for them and checked them from contact with the people.
But Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr fell ill and was unable to leave with the governor of Egypt. So Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah too was compelled to stay until his friend recovered, and when he got well, both of them accompanied by a number of Muslims went to war.
During this time, owing to their constant contact and talk with the soldiers of Islam, they informed them of the caliph's unjust administration, so that on their return from the war against enemies, they had enlightened the people's hearts with hatred and rage against 'Uthman and his misdeeds.181 180. Muhammad was the son of Talhah, and his mother was Himnah, daughter of Jahsh. He was born in the Prophet's time, and he took part in the battle of al-Jamal under the leadership of 'A'ishah against 'Ali and was killed then. When 'Ali saw his body, he said: "It was his father who brought him this fate. If it had not been for his father, he would not have met such a day." Refer to Tabaqat of Ibn Sa'd 5/37 to 39. 181. Ansab al-ashraf of al-Baladhuri 5/50, and at-Tabari on the battle of Dhat as-Sawari in the year 31, Vol. 5/70 to 71.
al-Baladhuri elsewhere writes: "While the governor of Egypt was severely reproaching Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, the son of Abu Hudhayfah turned to the people and said: The Egyptians should realize that we have left behind the holy war in the way of God, namely the combat with 'Uthman."
at-Tabari writes in his history: "In the same year that 'Abd Allah went to war with infidels, the sons of Abu Hudhayfah and Abu Bakr, too, accompanied him, and at the same time these two kept on reminding the people of 'Uthman's misdeeds and unlawful actions and how he had even seen the traditions and ways of 'Umar and Abu Bakr changed. They cited as an example the fact that he had appointed as governor (over the life and property of the Muslims) a man like 'Abd Allah whose blood has been declared legitimate by the Prophet, and he has given asylum to those who had been driven away by the Prophet and has recalled them from their exile. Thus spilling 'Uthman's blood would be lawful. They harped so much on this topic that they turned the warriors of Islam against the government of the time."
It is also said that Muhammad son of Abu Hudhayfah said to the people: "I swear to God that we have ignored the true jihad." They asked: "Which jihad are you speaking of?" He said: "The combat and jihad against 'Uthman." Then he described the misdeeds of 'Uthman to such an extent that he turned everyone against the government and when they returned to their cities and homelands, the people spoke protestingly about 'Uthman in an unprecedented manner.182
What was effective in promoting the propaganda's of the sons of Abu Hudhayfah and Abu Bakr, was the people's dissatisfaction of the Egyptians and with the ways of 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh, their governor, who abstained from no injustice towards them. He even went so far as to beat to death some of the chiefs who had complained of him to 'Uthman.
at-Tabari and others have fully described the story of the Egyptians' complaints of 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh in 'Uthman's presence, asking Ibn 'Udays to act as their spokesman. He reported all the misdeeds of 'Abd Allah to 'Uthman and stated how harshly he treats the Muslims and followers of other religions who live under Islam's protection and oppresses them, and disregards the principle of right and fairness, and does whatever he himself wants, and when he is criticized for his deeds, he shows the caliph's letter telling him what to do.183
History of at-Tabari 5/70 to 71.
History of at-Tabari 5/118 and Ibn al-Athir 3/70.
Imam 'Ali's endeavors for quenching the fire of sedition
The emigrants and Ansar (helpers) gathered round Imam asking him to speak with 'Uthman, advising him in order to quench the fire of sedition.
Ibn A'tham writes his book of history184: Some distinguished Egyptians came to Medina to complain of 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh, and went straight to the Prophet's mosque, where they met a group of the Prophet's companions including both the emigrants and helpers. When they were asked the purpose of their journey to Medina, they answered: "We have come to complain of the injustice of our governor."
'Ali said to them: "Do not be hasty in your actions and judgment. State your complaint to the caliph and inform him of the matter. The governor of Egypt may have acted towards you according to the caliph's instructions. Go to the caliph and explain your difficulties. If 'Uthman is strict to him and removes him from his position, you will have attained your goal, and if he does nothing, and approves of his deeds, then you can decide what to do." The Egyptians thanked and blessed 'Ali and added: "What you said is quite true, but we beg you to accompany us in our meeting with the caliph." 'Ali said: "You do not need my presence. It would be enough for you to see him and state your case."
They said: "This is our purpose but we wish you to be present, too, and act as our witness." 'Ali said: "Your witness will be He who is stronger than me, more dominant over all people, and more sympathetic to His servants." The Egyptian nobles went to 'Uthman's house and asked permission to enter. When they were admitted, the caliph received them respectfully, and let them sit by him. Then he asked: "What have you come for? What has made you leave Egypt without my personal permission or my governors?" They said: "We have come to complain of you and your deeds, and of what your governor does."
Then Ibn A'tham describes the evidence and reasons which that group presented to the caliph against 'Abd Allah; Abi Sarh, and reports the conversation between them and 'Uthman.
- History of Ibn A'tham 46-47.
The Uprising of the people of Medina against 'Uthman
The wrong acts of 'Uthman, his administrators and governors increased, and the people's complaints and protests produced no result. A wave of objections and dissatisfaction spread over the whole of the Islamic realm and at last shook Medina, the capital of the government, too. al-Baladhuri narrates these events as follows: When 'Uthman became caliph, a number of the Prophet's companions were not pleased with his rule since he had a special attachment for his relatives. During his twelve years of caliphate, he gave governmental posts to the Umayyads who had not been associated with the Prophet, and they committed many unexpected acts which the companions could not tolerate and so they began to protest.
But 'Uthman disregarded everything and reproached none of his agents, nor did he remove them from their posts. During the second six years of his rule he gave preference to his cousins over other Muslims and appointed them to such governmental positions which gave them a free hand over the people's life and property. For example 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh had been given the governorship of Egypt, and the subjects had repeatedly complained to 'Uthman for 'Abd Allah's tyranny and oppression, asking for justice. At last 'Uthman was compelled to write to him and intimidate him. But 'Abd Allah did not abstain from his extreme harshness and even beat some of them to death.185 When suffering and hardship passed beyond endurance and the Muslims could no more bear the misdeeds of 'Uthman and those around him, those of the Prophet's companions who were in Medina, wrote letters to their Muslim brethren in other cities and roused them to a holy war against 'Uthman. at-Tabari quotes the text of the letter as follows: "You have departed from Medina for the sake of jihad in the way of Almighty God and for propagating the religion of Muhammad, whereas he who governs you has ruined and destroyed Muhammad's faith. Reconsider your position and make haste in strengthening the foundation of Islamic religion."
In Ibn al-Athir's narration the following sentence of the letter is mentioned: "Your caliph has destroyed Muhammad's religion." In the commentary of Ibn Abi al-Hadid we see this phrase added at the end of the letter: "Depose him as a caliph." Thus the dissatisfied people came on him from every corner until he was killed.186
al-Baladhuri writes187: "In the year 34 of Hijrah a number of the Prophet's companions wrote a letter to their friends among other companions, 185. Ansab al-ashraf of al-Baladhuri 5/25 to 26.
History of at-Tabari 5/115, Ibn al-Athir 5/70, Commentary of Ibn Abi al-Hadid 1/165.
Refer to Ansab al-ashraf of al-Baladhuri 5/60, History of at-Tabari 5/96-97, Ibn al-Athir 3/63, Ibn Abi al- Hadid 1/303, Ibn Kathir 7/168, Abu al-Fida' 1/168.
complaining of 'Uthman's conduct and his altering the Prophet's laws and traditions, and of the injustice of his agents towards the people. They criticized the caliph's deeds and asked them to come hastily to Medina for a holy war in the way of God."
In that year none of the companions were willing to defend 'Uthman and take his side except Zayd ibn Thabit188, Abu Usayd as-Sa'idi and Hassan ibn Thabit189 and Ka'b ibn Malik190. The emigrants and others gathered round 'Ali and begged him to reason with 'Uthman and advise and guide him. 'Ali agreed and went to him and said: "The people have come to me and have told me many things about you and your deeds. I swear that I do not know what to say to you! Nothing is unknown to you that need be instructed and you are not in need of guidance. You know all that we know, and we have not got a lead over you to make it necessary to inform you. You have been associated with the Prophet and have benefited like us, from his words and experience.
The sons of 188. Zayd ibn Thabit ibn ad-Dahhak al-Ansari had an-Nawar, Malik's daughter as his mother, and he was the first scribe of the Prophet, and also served in the same post under 'Umar and Abu Bakr. When 'Umar and 'Uthman during their rule left Medina for Mecca, they appointed him as their deputy. In 'Uthman's time Zayd acted as treasurer of the public fund. One day 'Uthman entered and found Wuhayb, Zayd's slave, singing. He liked his voice and granted him an annual salary of 12,000 drachmas. Zayd was a staunch supporter of 'Uthman. They differ on the date of his death, and it is said to be between the year 43 and 55. Marwan performed his burial prayer. Abu Usayd as-Sa'idi and Ka'b ibn Malik, too, were the Prophet's companions. The former took part in the battle of Badr and other battles, while the latter participated in all the battles except Badr and Tabuk. Abu Usayd had gone blind before 'Uthman's death, and they differ about the date of his death. Refer to Usd al- ghabah, al-Isabah and al-Isti'ab.
- Abu 'Abd ar-Rahman, Hassan ibn Thabit al-Ansari, was a well-known poet of the al-Khazraj tribe. His mother was Fari'ah, daughter of Khalid al-Ansari. The Prophet said about him: "So long as Hassan supports the Prophet, God will confirm him with the Holy Spirit." He praised the Prophet with his fine poems and eloquent expressions, and satirised the Quraysh infidels for their enmity and unbelief. He was very timid and cowardly, and on the day of the infidels moved towards Medina and Salman al-Farisi advised the Muslims to dig ditches round Medina, the Prophet placed Hassan with the Muslim children and women in one of the forts of Medina to be safe and hidden from the enemies. Safiyah, daughter of 'Abd al-Muttalib, was among the ladies. During the encounter a Jew approached the way of the fort to spy out the land. Safiyah turned to Hassan and said: "Do not let him discover our asylum. The Prophet, who is relieved from worrying about us, is engaged in fighting the enemy. Go and kill this Jew!" Hassan said: "O daughter of 'Abd al-Muttalib! You know well that lam not the men for such a field, and have not the courage for it." Hearing these words, Safiyah got hold of a stick and knocked down the Jew. Then she returned victoriously to the fort and said to Hassan: "Now go and take out his clothes!" But Hassan, fearing that he would suddenly be attacked by the dead Jew's friends answered: "O daughter of 'Abd al-Muttalib! I am not in need of his clothes!" Owing to this same timidity and cowardice, Hassan took part in none of the Prophet's battles and was thus deprived of this honour.
The Prophet gave him Shirin, Mariyah's sister, in marriage from whom 'Abd ar-Rahman was born who was a cousin of Ibrahim, son of the Prophet. Like his father, grandfather and great grandfather, Hassan lived a long life and died in the year 40 or 50 or 54 of the Hijrah at the age of 120. Refer to Usd al-ghabah 2/4-7, al-Isti'ab and al-Isabah.
- Ka'b ibn Malik al-Ansari was of the al-Khazraj tribe, and his by-name was 'Abd Allah or 'Abd ar-Rahman.
His mother was Layla, daughter of Zayd ibn Tha'labah al-Khazraji al-Ansari. Ka'b came to the Prophet's presence in the night of 'Aqabah in Mecca and offered his hand for allegiance. He took part in all his battles except Badr and Tabuk. He was one of the three persons who repented after refusing to participate in the war and a verse descended about them. He was a poet among the Prophet's companions and co-operated closely with Hassan (already mentioned) in reproaching the Quraysh and infidels. Hassan satirized their parentage and Ka'b would warn them of the valor of Islam's warriors! 'Uthman held dear these two poets and granted them bounties out of the Muslim public fund, and property, sometimes without a reason. So these two were among his devotees, until 'Uthman won a great fume. Refer to Usd al-ghabah 4/247, al-Isti'ab, al-Isabah and Tabaqat of Ibn Sa'd.
Abu Quhafah and al-Khattab were not worthier than you in the performance of good deeds, since you are closer to the Prophet in your attachment and kinship. Once you had the honour of being his son-in-law. So, come to yourself and fear for your life. You go ahead so blindly that it is very hard to give you a clear sight, and you have sunk in such ignorance that it is impossible to drag you out."
'Uthman answered: "I swear to God that if you were in my place, I would not reproach you, and would not blame you for favoring your kith and kin, or protecting your helpless relatives, or for appointing to jobs those who were appointed by 'Umar! I ask you in the name of God to tell me had not 'Umar appointed to governorship al-Mughayrah ibn Shu'bah who had no merit at all?" 'Ali said: "Yes, it is true."
'Uthman said: "Why is it then that you blame me now for appointing my relative, son of 'Amir as governor?"
'Ali said: "I must remind you that when 'Umar appointed someone he dominated him completely, and trampled upon him before doing so. And when he received a report about his misdeed, he was strict to him, and summoned him, and showed him severity of action. But you have failed to do so, and have shown weakness and lenience to your kith and kin."
'Uthman said: "But they are not only my kith and kin, they are your relatives too." (since the Umayyads and Banu Hashim were cousins) 'Ali said: "Yes, upon my life they are my close relations, but they possess no virtue and chastity and others have with me a greater superiority and merit." 'Uthman said: "Had 'Umar not given governorship to Mu'awiyah?" 'Ali said: "Yes but Mu'awiyah feared 'Umar deeply, and was totally obedient to him. He was even afraid of Yarf ', 'Umar's slave, more than of 'Umar. But he is now stubbornly indifferent to you dealing with the affairs, and does what he likes. He does these things without informing you and says to the people: 'This is 'Uthman's order!' The people report these matters to you but you take no step at all!"191
Then 'Ali rose and went out. After his exit 'Uthman went to the mosque, climbed the pulpit and said: "There is a shortcoming to every deed, and a defect in every task. The pest of this ummah and defect of this blessing are the cavillers, who appear to exhibit what you approve of, while in secret they perform such deeds that you disapprove! Like an ostrich they follow every noise and love the remotest watering-thought! By God, you people now 191. We drew the reader's attention to the above conversation between 'Ali and 'Uthman two chief companions of the Prophet and pioneers in embracing Islam, and we particularly point out 'Uthman's arguments as a caliph of the Muslims in rejecting 'Ali's objections, when he speaks of the unworthiness of al-Mughayrah ibn Shu'bah who had been appointed by 'Umar, meaning that he, too, was justified in appointing as governors such a bad and unworthy person as 'Amir whom he himself and others knew to be wicked. He also exonerates himself by speaking about his ties of relationship as the reason for appointing Mu'awiyah and similar persons while he knows that these men never abstain from the plunder of public funds and injustice towards the people's life or property. (Sardar-Niya)
criticize me for what you had submitted to in 'Umar's time and turn away from them, whereas 'Umar trampled upon you and knocked you on the head and pulled out your root with his sharp tongue! You were so afraid of him that you bowed to his ugliness and beauty and were wholly obedient to him. But you show insolence and rebel against me who am gentle and lenient to you and have withheld my hand and tongue from you."
At this moment Marwan was about to say something but 'Uthman ex- claimed: "Be silent!"192
Marwan ibn al-Hakam
As the subject of Marwan will come up often in subsequent chapters, we should introduce this distinguished personality who later on became one of the Umayyad rulers.
He is the son of al-Hakam ibn Abi al-'As whom we introduced in the chapter on al-Walid and his governorship of Kufah. His by-name is Abu 'Abd al- Malik, and he was a cousin of 'Uthman as well as his son-in-law. He was born before the capture of Mecca, and he was only a child when he accompanied his father to exile in at-Ta'if by the order of the Prophet. He remained in exile with his father and brothers until 'Uthman's caliphate, and then 'Uthman brought them back to Medina, and kept Marwan close to him and entrusted him with the scribe office of his court.
Marwan's presence and his influence on the caliph were the main factor of 'Uthman's misfortune, people's dissatisfaction and eventually Muslims' uprising against 'Uthman. When the rebels besieged him and Marwan instead of treating them with moderation, rose to fight them, he was injured in the neck during the conflict and as a consequence one of the tendons of his neck was cut off and his neck remained awry to the end of his life and the people scoffingly nicknamed him "the crooked figure".
One day 'Ali looked at him and said: "Woe to you, and woe to the ummah of Muhammad from you and your offspring's!" Marwan fought in the battle of al-Jamal in 'A'ishah's army against 'Ali and when Mu'awiyah became caliph, he made Marwan governor of Medina, Mecca and at-Ta'if, but dismissed him from this post in the year 48 of the Hijrah, and replaced him by Sa'id ibn Abi al-'As.
When Mu'awiyah ibn Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah died in ash-Sham and did not appoint anyone as his successor, a number of people in ash-Sham showed allegiance to Marwan, while ad-Dahhak ibn Qays al-Fahri and his friends in ash-Sham showed allegiance to 'Abd Allah ibn az-Zubayr. Consequently fighting took place between Marwan and ad-Dahhak at Maraj Rahit of Damascus in which ad-Dahhak was killed and ash-Sham and Egypt came under 192. al-Baladhuri 5/60, History of at-Tabari 5/96 to 97, Ibn al-Athir 3/63, Ibn Abi al-Hadid 1/303, Ibn Kathir 7/168 and Abu al-Fida' 1/168.
the control of Marwan, and he married the wife of Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah, Khalid's mother, in order to bring everything under his complete domination. One day Marwan was angry with Khalid and insulted him with a very obscene word about his mother. Khalid said to him: "You are a trusted traitor!"
and complained of him to his mother and reported what had happened. She was very angry at this insult to herself, and said to her son: "Keep this to yourself, and particularly let not Marwan know that you have reported it to me." Then in order to punish Marwan, she held a private session with her maids, and after divulging her plan, she made them her accomplice, and sat down waiting. When Marwan came in, Khalid's mother and her maids rushed upon him and knocked him down. Then she picked up a pillow and placed it on his mouth and sat down on it until he died.
Historians have written that Marwan is one of the few people who have been killed by women.193 A description of his thought and beliefs, will be given in later chapters for the reader to judge.
Pleaders for justice proceed to Medina
Do you not see how 'Uthman intends to deceive and lead me astray by bribing me?
Muhammad son of Abu Hudhayfah
The chief of the Kufans was Ka'b ibn 'Ubdah an-Nahdi, that of the people of Basra was al-Muthana ibn Mukharrimah al-'Abdi, and that of the Egyptians was Kinanah ibn Bishr ibn 'Attab. They described 'Uthman's misdeed and the changes he had brought about and the pacts which according to God's testimony he had violated. At last they decided not to remain silent, but to return to their respective cities and act as the spokesmen of this meeting and inform the people of the conclusion of their discussions, and let those who agreed with them know their plan which was to go to 'Uthman's house the following year and reproach him for his misdeeds.
If 'Uthman regretted his conduct and abstained from wrong deeds, all the better, otherwise the y would reach a final decision about him. This group acted upon this decision.194 As the people of Egypt showed more fervor than those of other lands, in order to quench the flame of their revolution, 'Uthman sent Muhammad ibn 193. Refer to Usd al-ghabah 4/384-389, al-Isti'ab and al-Isabah. 194. Ansab al-ashraf al-Baladhuri 5/59.
Abi Hudhayfah, a sum of 30,000 drachmas and a camel-load of clothes to silence the leader of the riot.
Muhammad ordered to exhibit the gifts in the mosque, and addressing the Muslims he said: "O Muslims! Do you not see how 'Uthman intends to deceive and lead me astray by bribing me, and thus make me abandon my faith?" 'Uthman's action and Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah's reaction enhanced the Egyptians' enmity for 'Uthman and roused them for further criticisms, and so they turned more to Muhammad and chose him as their leader.195
The money thus spent by 'Uthman for this purpose could not prevent the Egyptians from their departure for Medina in compliance to the pact concluded in the mosque of al-Haram. On the contrary they left Egypt in due time for Medina in the company of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, while Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah remained in Egypt. Meanwhile 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn 'Udays al- Balwi196 accompanied by five-hundred Egyptians left for Medina in the month of Rajab, spreading the rumor that they intended to go on pilgrimage.
When 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh, governor of Egypt, learnt of this matter, he quickly sent a messenger to Medina, reporting to the caliph the departure of 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn 'Udays and his friends for Medina, and stating that Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah had seen them off as for as 'Ajrud, while they had spread the rumor that they intend to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, whereas they have secretly told their friends that their departure was for the purpose of uprising against 'Uthman and his overthrow or even death. 'Abd Allah's messenger covered the distance between Egypt and Medina in eleven nights and carried the message. Meanwhile the Egyptians proceeded towards Medina without halting and reached Dhu Khushub near that city and stayed there.
According to another narration 'Abd Allah, after getting permission from 'Uthman, left his seat of government following the Egyptians, and when he reached Ilah, he was informed that the Egyptians had besieged 'Uthman in Medina and Muhammad bin Abi Hudhayfah has risen in his absence from Egypt. So he thought it expedient to return to Egypt to preserve his rule there. On the other hand when Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah learnt of the success of the Egyptians in Medina and their siege of 'Uthman, he took the opportunity of 'Abd Allah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh's absence and with the aid of his followers he rose and easily took control of Egypt, and the people willingly accepted his rule.
When 'Abd Allah reached Egypt, his entry was checked by Muhammad and 195. History of at-Tabari 5/114 and 115, al-Baladhuri 5/51.
- 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn 'Udays al-Balwi is one of those who took part in the al-Hudaybiyah (called ar- Ridwan) with the Prophet, and was present in the conquest of Egypt, and rose up there with the Egyptians against 'Uthman. Mu'awiyah imprisoned him in Palestine, and when he fled from prison he ordered to kill him in the year 36. Refer to al-Isabah 4/171.
when he realized that he was faced with an accomplished fact, he decided to give up his rule over Egypt and went straight to Palestine and stayed there until 'Uthman's assassination.
at-Tabari, quoting az-Zubayr, writes197: The Egyptians wrote a letter to 'Uthman from as-Suqya or Dhu Khushub which was delivered by one of them. But 'Uthman gave no answer and ordered to expel the messenger in degradation from the palace. The Egyptians who had turned against 'Uthman were six hundred in number and were divided into four groups, each under a commander, and 'Amr ibn Badil (a companion of the Prophet) and 'Abd ar- Rahman ibn Udays jointly acting as commander-in-chief.
The text of the letter written to 'Uthman by the Egyptians is as follows: "In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful. As for the subject to remember that Allah does not change the conditions of a people until they change their own condition198. Therefore we take God as witness and warn you from His wrath.
God has granted you this world. Therefore do not mar your next world, since you should not ignore your share in the hereafter and be forgetful of it. Remember that we are enraged only in the way of God's satisfaction and will only be pleased for His sake and now that we have risen in His way, we will not sheath our drawn swords and keep quiet unless you openly repent your past deeds and clarify your position for us. We have thus informed you of our words and demands and God aids us in facing you.