Chapter Five: Did Uthman die a ‘martyr’?

 

Ansar.org states:

However, Uthman feared affliction, so he prevented the Companions from defending him, and he knew that he would be killed unjustly as the Prophet peace be upon him informed him. Abdullah bin Omar may Allah be pleased at him narrated from the Prophet peace be upon him that the Prophet said, “And this man –’Uthman- (in the affliction) would be killed unjustly.” [Sunan Al-Turmithi, Book of Virtues, #3708, look also Saheeh Al-Turmithi # 2924] Al-Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh that Abu Mousa Al-Ash’ari narrated that the Prophet peace be upon him said, “Let him (Uthman) in, and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise after a calamity that befalls him.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Book of the Virtues of the Companions, Chapter the Virtues of Uthman bin Affan # 3492]…“When Uthman was about to enter upon the Prophet peace be upon him, the Prophet peace be upon him asked Abu Mousa Al-Ash’ari, “Go open the door for him and give him the glad tidings of entering heaven after an affliction that befalls him.” So Abu Mousa opened the door and it was Uthman, and he told Uthman what the Prophet peace be upon him had just said. Uthman said, “O’ Allah! Grant me patience.” [Sunan Al-Turmithi, hadeeth # 3710, Saheeh Al-Bukhari # 3492]Ahmed also narrated in his book that the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him mentioned a great affliction. Then a masked man in a piece of clothe passed by. The Prophet peace be upon him said, “This man – the masked man – will be on the true side (in that affliction).” Ka’ab bin Ojrah ran fast and caught the masked man from behind and said, “Is this the man you are talking about O’ Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet peace be upon him answered, “Yes.” And that man was Uthman bin Affan. [Virtues of the Companions, by Ahmed, vol. 1, p. 450, with an authentic chain of narrators]. And after all this, does Al-Tijani think that Uthman’s Ijtihads were false? And they were the reasons for the rebellion?

Abu Sulaiman had sought to prove from these narration’s that in the uprising against Uthman he:

  1. was treading the right path
  2. exercised correct ijtihad
  3. would be a martyr.

One needs to recognize that nothing happens in this world without a cause, this is human nature. Events in the world are preceded by causes – people react to causes in different ways. The Ulema of Ahle Sunnah past and present have analyzed the events that led up to the killing of Uthman, and many have been highly critical of his actions and have admitted that it was his decisions that led to rebellion and his murder. They have made it clear that opposition was based upon his incorrect ijtihad’s.

In connection with the murder of Uthman, the prophecy of Umar is indeed worthy of note. Various Sunni scholars have recorded that when Umar was asked why he did not appoint Uthman as his successor he replied:

فقلت: فعثمان؟ قال: فوالله لو فعلت لجعل بني أبي معيط على رقاب الناس يعملون فيهم بمعصية الله والله لو فعلت لفعل ولو فعل لفعلوه فوثب الناس عليه فقتلوه

“If I make him the Khalifa he shall thrust the Bani Abi Moit to rule over the people, and they shall oppress the people and disobey Allah. The result will be that the people will rise against him and kill him”.
1. Al-Istiab, Volume 3 page 1119
2. Kanz al-Umal, Volume 5 page 738 Tradition 14262
3. Ansab al-Ashraf, Volume 5 page 16
4. Tamhid al-Awael, page 510
5. Izalatul Khifa, Volume 1 page 618

So according to Umar’s own observation Uthman’s appointment of Banu Mo’it (Banu Ummaya Clan) over the people would lead to their oppressing the people, that would lead to revolt and Uthman’s murder. This clearly proves that Umar had not heard of these hadith traditions pertaining to the supreme merits of Uthman, if he had then why was he able to see such faults in Uthman that would lead to revolt against him and his death. Umar did not deem opposition against Uthman as unlawful, rather he said it was a reaction to oppression by Uthman’s family and THIS was the pivotal factor that would lead to his death.

Umar’s prediction was right and many leading Sahaba opposed Uthman, some abandoned him, some opposed him vocally others joined the Egyptians in the movement against him and lay siege to his home.

Modern Egyptian Sunni academic Taha Hussain in al Fitnah t’ul Kubra (Urdu translation) page 259 testifies to this fact stating:

“Historians have recorded in the events of 34 Hijri that the treatment meted against the people by Uthman was its worst. The Sahaba having observed but no one save a small number of Sahaba such as Zayd bin Thabit, Abu Usayd Sai’idi, Kalb bin Malice and Ahsan bin Thabit stopped anyone nor offered and form of defense. The Sahaba in Madina wrote to fellow Sahaba spread in different regions stating “Come to Madina and see how the Khilafah is getting worse. You have left your homes so as to participate in jihad, when jihad is behind you. Return to Madina for the sake of safety and for the preservation of religion. Power has become the greatest threat to religion”.

So we learn:

  1. People were being maltreated during Uthman’s reign. This completely tallies up with Umar’s prediction.
  2. The Sahaba wrote the their fellow comrades spread throughout the region on Jihad campaigns, and told them to return and address the issue of Khilafah as power was overtaking the deen. This jihad was SUPERIOR to fighting infidels.

Taha Hussain also adds these important points:

“I am led to believe that in Madina itself were people who were aiding and siding with the rebels, they called them, encouraged them and told them of the aims of the Sahaba. They had told them that there was peace and tranquility in Madina but when the palace was besieged they sided with the rebels”
al Fitnah t’ul Kubra (Urdu translation) page 259

Umar’s opinion that if Uthman was made the Khalifa he would thrust Banu Moi’t over the people who would oppress the Muslims that would lead to opposition came true. The Sahaba sickened by the events deemed Uthman leadership to be tyrannical which is why they deemed his remaining in power to be a threat to the religion. Their writing to the Mujahideen to abandon Jihad and focus their attention on Madina as a means of preserving / protecting the deen is clear proof that Uthman did not die as an oppressed martyr rather his incorrect policies / ijtihads that the Sahaba deemed to be a threat to the religion.

Ansar.org states:

Al-Hakim narrated in Al-Mustadrak and Ahmed narrated in Al-Fada’el that Abu Hurayrah asked for permission to talk in front of Uthman when Uthman was surrounded. Uthman gave him the permission. Then Abu Hurayrah stood up, praised Allah, and said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him saying, ‘After I am gone, you will suffer afflictions and differences.’ One of the men asked the Prophet peace be upon him, ‘What we ought to do then O’ Messenger of Allah?’ The Prophet peace be upon him answered, ‘Stay close to the faithful man and his companions.’ And the Prophet peace be upon him meant Uthman.” [Virtues of the Companions, By Ahmed bin Hanbal, vol. 1, p. 451, with an authentic chain of narrators]

First and foremost if this hadith is indeed true how is it that a prominent wife of the Prophet (s) had never heard of it? She did not claim that Uthman would be killed unjustly, on the contrary she said that he should be killed because he had become a kaafir! The Sahaba likewise played a pivotal role in opposing Uthman and killing him – if this hadith was indeed true then how is it that the Sahaba still insisted on opposing, oppressing and killing Uthman? We have proven in our previous chapters and of course having cited the extracts of Taha Hussain’s work that many of the Sahaba were opposed to Uthman. If the Sahaba were aware of this hadith does is it seem believable that they would have continued in their opposition and sided with the rebels?

Worthy of note is the fact that Baladhuri in Ansab al Ashraf Volume 5 page 76:

Majm’a bin Jaria al-Ansari passed in front of Talha bin Ubaidllah, he (Talha) said: ‘Oh Majm’a, how is your friend (Uthman)?’ He (Majm’a) replied: ‘I reckon will kill him’. He (Talha) replied: ‘If he is, so (what), he is neither an angel nor a prophet.’

It is clear here from Talha’s statement that he had no regrets should Uthman die, for he did not have an esteemed rank in the eyes of Allah (swt). Could Talha make such a comment if he was aware that Rasulullah (s) said he would die a martyr that would attain paradise?

Worthy of note are the words in this alleged hadith ‘Stay close to the faithful man and his companions.’ One of these companions as admitted by Abu Sulaiman was Marwan. How could Rasulullah(s) have told his followers to stay close to Marwan when Rasulullah (s) had condemned, cursed and abandoned him? It is illogical to even entertain the thought that Rasulullah (s) would ask the Sahaba to support at the time of opposition that individual who he had condemned and banished from Madina for life.

Worthy of note are the words in this alleged hadith ‘Stay close to the faithful man and his companions.’ One of these companions as admitted by Abu Sulaiman was Marwan. How could Rasulullah(s) have told his followers to stay close to Marwan when Rasulullah (s) had condemned, cursed and abandoned him? It is illogical to even entertain the thought that Rasulullah (s) would ask the Sahaba to support at the time of opposition that individual who he had condemned and banished from Madina for life.

Uthman’s body was unattended for three days. Companions’ not burying him proves that they did not deem him to be a martyr

We are citing from the following esteemed Sunni works:

  1. Majma al-Zawaed, by Haythami, Volume 9, page 95
  2. Al-Muj’am al-Kabir by Tabarani, Volume 1, page 79
  3. Al-Istiab, by Ibn Abdulbar, Volume 3, page 1048

We read in Majma al-Zawaid:

وعن ملك يعني ابن انس قال قتل عثمان فأقام مطروحا على كناسة بني فلان ثلاثا

Malik bin Anas said: When Uthman was killed, his body was thrown in garbage for three days.

Imam Abi Bakar Al-Haythami said:‘The narrators are reliable’. Moreover we read in Al-Istiab:

عن مالك قال لما قتل عثمان رضي الله عنه ألقى على المزبلة ثلاثة أيام

Malik said: ‘When Uthman [ra] was killed, they threw him in the garbage for three days’

These narrations show that after his murder, Uthman’s body remained unattended for three days, neither did anyone take measures to bury him nor was his funeral read. If Uthman was innocent and martyr as these hadith would lead us to believe, then could someone be so kind as to explain why NONE of the Sahaba felt it necessary to bury this martyr? Clearly the attitude at that time was that the Sahaba were so resentful of Uthman that they did not even deem him to be worthy of a decent burial.

No doubt advocates such as Abu Sulaiman will offer the customary excuse that the Sahaba were frightened and had taken to seeking refuge in their homes, and the murderers were so powerful that they were not allowing anyone to get near Uthman’s corpse. Such excuses are as weak as Abu Sulaiman’s articles! The fact is it is obligatory to bury a Muslim after performing the obligatory funeral rituals. So advocates of Mu’awiya would have to decide between one of these three options. Did the Sahaba:

  1. Not deem Uthman to be worthy of a burial?
  2. Fail to perform an obligatory act, thus making them all sinners?
  3. Adopt taqiyya fearing for their lives? So if companions can perform Taqiya, then does this not prove that all Muslims can do so in times of danger?

Some will assert that the Sahaba did not bury Uthman as they were helpless and to abandon an obligatory act when helpless does not constitute a sin. To those content with such an excuse let us look at the reality on the ground. There is no evidence to suggesting Madina was attacked by the marauding armies of Alexander the great, forcing people to practice taqiyya in their homes and leave Uthman’s body unattended! The advocates of the Sahaba will need to make a hard choice, the Sahaba had either committed a sin by failing to bury Uthman, or they adopted taqiyya, now its up to the followers of Mu’awiya to decide which option they want to believe in.

The harsh fact is that the Sahaba were disaffected with Uthman and cared little about burying him. Is it believable that every single Sahaba in Madina adopted taqiyya and left Uthman’s body to the forces and nature?

Some state that the Sahaba did not envisage that Uthman would be killed, but such a notion is absurd! When Aisha issued a decree that Uthman be murdered, then clearly the words of the influential wife of Rasulullah (s) would not just fall on deaf ears!

According to Nayla the wife of Uthman, their house remained surrounded for fifty days. Clearly the seriousness of the situation would have dawned on all. To suggest that the Egyptians and Bedouins had become so powerful that they had in fact imposed a curfew over the residents of Madina prohibiting people from leaving or entering (this included the Governors armies from other provinces) under these conditions is simply not plausible. Abu Sulaiman cites traditions that would suggest only four or five had entered Uthman’s residents in order to protect him. The fact that they could enter proves that there was no curfew and the Sahaba could see Uthman as and when they please. This being the case could Abu Sulaiman enlighten his faithful as to why only a handful of Sahaba felt that Khalifa was worthy of protection? If Madina was full of Sahaba why did they not come to the aid of the stranded khalifa?

The subsiquent burial of Uthman by the Sahabah in a Jewish toilet also proves that they did not deem him to be a martyr

Abu Sulaiman as part of his usual dishonesty, sought to convince his Sunni readers that this reference is non existent:

Al-Tijani’s claim that the Companions did not allow his corpse to be buried in Muslim cemeteries, and so he was buried in Hashsh Kawkab, which is a Jewish piece of land, his claim only shows his complete ignorance and lack of knowledge. Hashsh Kawkab is not a Jewish land. Hashsh means garden [in Arabic] and Uthman bought the land from an Ansari man named Kawkab! [Tahtheeb Al-Asma wa Al-Lughat by Al-Nawawi, vol. 1, p. 323 and Al-Ma’alim Al-Atheerah fi Al-Sunnah wa Al-Seerah by Muhamed Hasan Sharab p. 101] And when Uthman passed away, he was buried in his own garden, which he bought by his own money! Is there something wrong in that?

Embarrasing as it is, the fact is Uthman was indeed buried in such a place. Imam Ibn Jarir Tabari records in his Tarikh, Volume 3 page 438:

حش كوكب كانت اليهود تدفن فيه موتاهم

“The Jews used to bury their dead in Hush Kawkab”

Now, the Imams of Ahle Sunnah have recorded the following fact in their respective books:

حتى أتوا به حش كوكب فلما دلوه في قبره صاحت عائشة بنت عثمان…قال مالك وكان عثمان قبل ذلك يمر بحش كوكب فيقول ليدفن هاهنا رجل صالح

Till they carried him to ‘Hush Kawkab’ and when they put him in his grave, Aisha bint Uthman started to cry….Malik said: Uthman used to pass by ‘Hush Kawkab’ and would say: ‘Here, a pious man will be buried’.
1. Majma al-Zawaed, by Haythami, Volume 9 page 95
2. Al-Muj’am al-Kabir by Tabarani, Volume 1 page 79

Imam Abi Bakar Al-Haythami said: ‘The narrators are reliable’. Ibn Abdul Barr records in Al-Istiab, Volume 3 page 1048:

ودفن ليلا بموضع يقال له حش كوكب

He was buried at night at a place called ‘Hush Kawkab’

We should also point out that the ‘Hash Kaukab’ was not a Jewish graveyard but a (Jewish) toilet, it is quite possible that the Sunni clergy later on manipulated historical facts and wrote Hush Kawkab as a Jewish graveyard in their attempt to cover up the fact that it was actually a toilet where their beloved caliph was buried by the Sahabah. In order to make this fact more clear, allow us to cite the comments of Shafiyee scholar Abu Bakar bin Muhammad al-Bakri al-Damyati (d. 1310 H) from his book Eayanat al-Talbin, Volume 2 page 284:

والحش – بضم الحاء وفتحها- محل قضاء الحاجة ويسمى بيت الخلاء

‘Hush’ is a place where they answer the call of nature, it is also called toilet.

Imam Nawawi records in his authority work Al-Majmo’a, Volume 3 page 154:

أن الحش بفتح الحاء وضمها هو الخلاء

‘Hush’ is a toilet

Some pathetic Nawasib may bring an excuse that ‘Hush’ means ‘garden’ as stated by al-Haythami. Although the above cited meanings from two esteemed Sunni scholars shall suffice for the Nawasib, but for the arguments sake we should also point out that unlike today, in those days toilets were not built separately with some amenities rather they were linked to the gardens and this view is also supported if we check the meaning of the word ‘Hush’ in Arabic dictionaries such as al-Sehah by al-Jawhari, Volume 3 page 1002:

لأنهم كانوا يقضون حوائجهم في البساتين

“Because they used to answer the call of nature in the gardens.”

Taj al-Aroos by al-Zubaidi, Volume 9 page 90:

لأنهم كانوا يقضون حوائجهم ، أي يذهبون عند قضاء الحاجة في البساتين

“Because they used to go to gardens in order to answer the call of nature”

Also Allamah Yaqut al-Hamawi has recorded in Mau’jam Al-Buldan, Volume 2 page 586:

 حش كوكب: بفتح أوله وتشديد ثانيه ويضم أوله أيضا والحش في اللغة البستان وبه سمي المخرج حشا لأنهم كأنها إذا أرادها الحاجة خرجها إلى البساتين، وكوكب الذي أضيف إليه اسم رجل من الأنصار، وهو عند بقيع الغرقد اشتراه عثمان بن عفان رضي الله عنه وزاده في البقيع ولما قتل ألقى فيه ثم دفن في جنبه، وحش طلحة موضع آخر في المدينة

 Hush Kawkab: Hush in language means garden, the anus has been called Hush after it because whenever they wanted to excrete they used to go to the gardens, Kawkab is the name of a man from Ansar. It is located near Baqi, Uthman bin Affan (ra) had bought it and added it to Baqi, when he was killed he was thrown and then was buried over there.

Those who lived close to Uthman killed him as they deemed him a sinner

We read in Khasais  Ameeul Mumineen by Imam Nasai, Tradition Number 105 as follows:

أخبرني هلال بن العلاء بن هلال قال حدثنا حسين قال حدثنا زهير عن أبي إسحاق عن العلاء بن عرار قال سألت عبد الله بن عمر قلت ألا تحدثني عن علي وعثمان قال أما علي فهذا بيته من بيت رسول الله ولا أحدثك عنه بغيره وأما عثمان فإنه أذنب يوم أحد ذنبا عظيما فعفى الله عنه وأذنب فيكم ذنبا صغيرا

Hilal ibn al-Ala ibn Hilli narrated from Husayn (ibn Ayyash) from Zuhayr (ibn Muawiya) from Abu Isaac that al-Ala ibn Erar said:
Once I asked Abdullah ibn Umar ‘Would you talk to me about Ali and Uthman?’  He said ‘As for Ali, this is his house (close position) to the messenger of Allah (as) and I do not need to talk to you about anything else.  But as for Uthman, on the Day of Uhud, he committed a great sin and Allah forgave him and then he committed among you a small sin and you killed him.

Similarly we read in Tradition No. 106:

Ahmed ibn Sulayman (ar-Rahawi) narrated from Ubaydullah (ibn Musa) from Israel from Abu Isaaq al-Ala ibn Erar said:
“Once I asked ibn Umar, while he was in the Mosque of the messenger of Allah (as) about Ali and Uthman, and he said, ‘As for Ali, do not ask me about him.  You just see his close house to the messenger of Allah (as).  There is house in the mosque except his house.  But as for Uthman, he committed a great  when he ran away on the day when the two groups (Muslims and polytheists) me (in war) and Allah pardoned him, and then, he committed among you a sin less than that, and you killed him”

A number of key points can be gauged from this tradition:

1. Contrary to the traditional line pedalled by the advocates of the Uthman who insist that Uthman was killed from outside Egyptians who entered Madina, lay siege topalaceofUthmanand ultimately entered therein and killed for no wrong, Ibn Umar provides a very different view.  Ibn Umar rather than blame foreign elements made it clear that those that killed Uthman were those that lived close to him, they were his fellow city dwellers for he used the term, “he committed “fee kum” and you killed him – the term “fee kum” (among you)  clearly alludes to the fact that among you, as people in the midst of Uthman, that lived amongst him as in Madinans.  He did not “he committed amongst others a small sin”, he pinpointed it closer with the term among you clearly evidencing that those that deemed Uthman a sinner and killed him for this transgression were those linked near to him.

2. Unlike the ad nausea chant that Uthman was innocent of all wrong doing and his blood was shed for no reason whatsoever, Ibn Umar makes it clear “he committed among you a small sin and you killed him”.  Note he in no way suggests that it was a baseless false allegation, rather he acknowledged that Uthman was killed for his committing a sin.

3. A martyr is an individual that dies on the path of Allah (swt), upholding his deen yet Ibn Umar was making it clear that Uthman was killed on account if his committing a sin (albeit a small one).  Whilst the narration fails to shed light on the precise nature of this sin, the fact is it was serious enough to cause the ire of the local residents, one so severe that they deemed it grounds to kill Uthman.  An individual partaking in sinful activities is aloof from the blessings of Allah (swt), if he is killed in a sinful state he cannot be deemed to have died a martyr, rather his death was that of a sinner.

 

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