Abu Dharr, by virtue of his nature, temperament, habit and the command of the Prophet, was unable to hold his tongue from telling the truth and lead a silent life. His main occupation besides the worship of Allah was his stay close to the Holy Shrine of the Prophet and the praise of Ale Muhammad (the progeny of the Prophet). It appears from some books of history that Ali had advised him to adopt a lenient policy1.
Days and nights passed on till the year 13 A.H. came and Abu Bakr passed away. According to Tarikh Tabari and Mu'jam Kabir Tabarani, Abu Bakr said with utter regrets and sorrow, "Would that I had not opened the house of Fatimah even if it was closed with an intention to fight, and would that I had not accepted the Office of Caliphate, but that I had put the chain of Caliphate round the neck of Umar or Abu Ubaydah".
It is written in Tarikh Ibn al-Wardi that after that he nominated Umar as his successor. According to al-Milal wan Nahl of Shahristani, when Abu Bakr nominated Umar as Caliph at the time of his death people cried out, "You have appointed a bad tempered and a hard-hearted man as our ruler".
According to Tarikh Abul Fida Abu Bakr died on Jumadiul Ukhra 22, 13 A.H., between Maghrib (evening) and Isha (night) and the same day allegiance was promised to Umar. Abu Dharr did not join the funeral prayers or burial ceremonies of Abu Bakr because no book of history mentions his name on this occasion.
A storm of conquests rose after the death of Abu Bakr. Under the prevailing conditions Abu Dharr decided to leave Medina for Syria and stay and spend the rest of his life there. Musnad of Ahmad says that he preferred Syria because of a will of the Prophet which runs as follows: "O Abu Dharr! Leave Medina for Syria when the population of the city grows and extends to Mount Sala".
Anyway,2 Abu Dharr, according to the Prophet's will left for Syria with his wife and daughter. Shah Walyullah Dehlavi writes that Abu Dharr left for Syria after the death of Abu Bakr and settled there .
Abu Dharr was very strict in the matter of truth. In this respect he never cared for anybody's hot temper, nor feared anybody's government or mightiness.
After Abu Dharr had left for Syria, Umar happened to go there on some purpose when he met Abu Dharr who narrated to him a tradition of the Prophet. Abu Dharr said, "I bear witness to the fact that the Prophet of Allah said: "He who is made somebody's master or guardian, will be made to stop on the bridge of Hell. He will get salvation if he is virtuous, but if he is wicked, the bridge will crack and fall and that man will fall into Hell.
Abu Dharr had extreme love for the Prophet. This love increased more after the death of the Prophet and he used to weep bitterly. During his stay in Syria, people pressed Bilal for the prayer call. Bilal said, "I have given up calling to prayer after the Prophet. Neither I can recite "azan" (prayer call) now, nor can I tolerate it”. Bilal was however, prevailed upon and with great difficulty he was made to agree to it. Bilal stood for the prayer call and started reciting the "azan" with his strong and loud voice which once resounded in the streets of Medina during the days of the Prophet. Abu Dharr inclined his head forward. Tears started rolling down his cheeks. His imagination took him back to Medina and he saw the Prophet with his inward eyes, surrounded by his companions. He recalled the past and started crying loudly with tears flowing from his eyes”3.
Abu Dharr lived for about ten years outside Medina (in Syria) and returned to Medina after he got the information that Umar had been assassinated. Abul Fida writes in his history that a man named Abu Lulu attacked Umar on Zil Hijjah 24, 23 A.H. Tarikh Kamil ibn Athir gives out that when Umar was wounded a physician of the tribe of Bani Harith was sent for. He gave date-wine to Umar. It passed out unchanged. Then he was given milk to drink, it also passed out similarly. Seeing this, the physician said, "O Commander of the Faithful! Make whatever will you like to".
It is narrated from Abu Majliz in Kanzul Ummal that Umar asked the people, "Whom do you want to make your caliph after me?" One of them said, "Zubayr bin al-'Awam". Umar said, "Will you make that man your caliph who is miser and discourteous?" Another man said, "We will make Talha our Caliph". Umar said, "Would you like to have that man your Caliph who mortgaged with a Jewess the land granted by the Messenger of Allah?" Hearing this yet another man said, "We will make Ali our Caliph". Umar said, "By my life! You will not make Ali your caliph and if by Allah, you make Ali your caliph he will not refrain from keeping you on the right path even if you are unhappy". When Walid bin Uqbah heard it he said, "I know who will be the caliph after you". Umar got up and asked him, "Who?" Walid said, "Uthman". Huzayfa bin al-Yaman narrates that Umar was asked, when he was in perfect health, as to who would be the caliph after him. He answered, "Uthman bin Affan".
Mulk Ali Qari writes in "Sharah Fiqh Akbar" that when the time of the death of Umar approached he confined the rank of Caliphate to Uthman, Ali, Talha, Zubayr, Abdul Rahman bin Auf and Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas, and said that caliphate should not go beyond these six people.
It is in Tarikh Kamil that after that Umar asked Suhayb "Lead the people in prayers for three days, shut these six men among whom the caliphate has been confined in a house, and watch them. If five of these people agree to one man and one man opposes, he should be killed; if four men agree and two disagree the opposing two should be beheaded and if three men agree and three others disagree Abdullah bin Umar should be appointed as judge to decide, and in case these people do not accept Abdullah bin Umar as judge, the group in which Abdul Rahman is included should prevail and the other group of people should be killed".
According to Tarikh Abul Fida Umar died on Saturday, the 30th of Zil Hajjah: According to "Sharah Fiqh Akbar" when, after the death of Umar, and according to his instructions, a meeting of the advisory body was held in the house of Fatimah, sister of Ash'ath bin Qays. 4members gave Abdul Rahman bin Auf, the right to select the caliph. Abdul Rahman holding Ali's hand asked three times, "If we appoint you Walyyul Amr and Imam are you willing to act according to the Divine Book, the tradition of the Prophet and the traditions of Shaykhain?" (Abu Bakr and Umar) Ali replied, "I will, of course, act upon the Holy Qur'an and the tradition of the Holy Prophet but (instead of the traditions of Shaykhain) I will pass religious commands according to my knowledge. After hearing this Abdul Rahman asked Uthman three times, "Will you act according to the Divine Book, the tradition of the Prophet and the traditions of Abu Bakr and Umar, if we make you Imam? Uthman said, "Yes, of course, I will". Then Abdul Rahman swore allegiance to him and others followed.
It is stated in Tarikh Kamil and Tarikh Abul Fida that (when allegiance was promised to Uthman) Ali seeing the manoeuvrings in matter of allegiance said, "Today is not the first day that you have got the upper hand through conspiracy. Well! It is better for me to be patient. O Abdul Rahman! By Allah! You have taken the oath of allegiance to Uthman so that caliphate turned towards you". Abdul Rahman said, "O Ali! Do not mind it". Then Ali came out of the house saying, "That was to be". Miqdad said, "O Abdul Rahman! You left Ali although, by Allah, he is one of those who are with truth and give just judgements".
Tarikh Kamil and Tarikh Tabari say that Miqdad further said, "I did not see such a spiteful treatment meted out to the members of the Prophet's Family after his death. I am astonished to see that the Quraysh forsook a person whom I consider the best scholar (Alim-i Rabbani) and the best judge ('Adil). By Allah, if I had got a supporter and a helper!" Miqdad had only said this much when Abdul Rahman interrupted, "O Miqdad! Fear Allah. I am afraid lest some trouble should befall you".
It is recorded in Murujuz Zahab of Mas'udi that Ammar al-Yasir stood up in the Masjidun Nabi and said "O the group of Quraysh! When you snatched away the Caliphate from the Ahl al-Bayt of your Prophet and moved it sometimes here and sometimes there, we should also expect that Allah will take it from you and give it to somebody else as you have taken it from the deserving and given it to the one who does not deserve it". Then Miqdad stood up and said, "I have never seen the kind of torture and torment inflicted upon the Ahlul Bayt after the death of the Prophet". Abdul Rahman said, "O Miqdad! What are you doing?” Miqdad said, “Why should I not say? I am a friend of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet simply because of the love for the Prophet and surely truth is with them and in them alone. O Abdul Rahman! I wonder at Quraysh whom you try to help gain predominance and who have conspired to snatch away the love and greatness of the Prophet from his Ahlul Bayt after him. Of Abdul Rahman! Know! By Allah! If I had got supporters and friends, I would have fought against the Quraysh as I have done in the Battle of Badr".
According to Tarikh Tabari, Ammar al-Yasir said, "O people! Allah honoured us with His faith and gave us greatness on account of the Holy Prophet. Where are you taking away the Caliphate from the Ahlul Bayt of your Prophet?"
According to Rauzatul Ahbab when Abdul Rahman bin Auf swore fealty to Uthman and those present in the meeting also followed suit, Ali said after a pause, “O people! I ask you to tell me on oath if there is even a single person except me among the companions of the Prophet whom the Prophet had on the occasion of announcing “brotherhood”, after having declared him his brother, that he was his brother in this world as well as in the Hereafter", The audience replied, "None", Ali said, "Is there anybody among you except me whom the Prophet might have appointed to convey the Surah Bara 'at (Surah IX of the Holy Qur'an) with the declaration that the duty of the Messengerhood of Allah cannot be performed by anybody except by him or by one of his Ahlul Bayt?”, All said, "None". Ali said, "You know that the leader of the mankind and the interceder of the Day of Judgment sent me as the commander of all the Muhajirs and Ansar in most of the Sariyas (battles in which the Prophet did not participate in person) and ordered them to obey me and never appointed anyone as a commander over me". The people said, "Yes, of course, it is true", Ali said, "You know the Holy Prophet has proclaimed my knowledge by saying: "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate". All of them admitted, "Yes we know". Ali said, "The companions have often fled from the battlefield leaving the Prophet in the lurch amidst the enemies but I never forsook him in any dangerous war and remained present to sacrifice my life for the dear life of the Prophet". All of them said, "Yes, indeed". Ali said, "You know that I was the first to have accepted Islam". People said, "Yes, we know".
Then Ali asked, "Which one of us is nearer to the Prophet by virtue of kinship?" All of them unanimously said, "There is no doubt that your kinship with the Holy Prophet is very well proved, established, and confirmed by all means”. When Ali was talking thus Abdul Rahman bin Auf said, "O Abul Hasan! Nobody can deny the virtues you have recounted and described. But, as now most of the people have sworn allegiance to Uthman, I expect you, too, to join them", Ali answered, "By Allah you very well know who deserved the Caliphate, but it is a pity that you forsake him deliberately".
According to Tarikh Tabari, Ali then recited this verse from the Holy Qur'an:
"Have fear of Allah in whose name you plead one another and (be mindful of) kinship. Allah is ever watching over you”. (Surah al-Nisa, 4:1)
The discussion on the event of Uthman's election is also recorded in Iqdul Farid, vol. 3, p. 75, printed in Egypt and Sharah Maqasid Taftazani, p. 296.
The historian Muhammad bin Ali ibn A'tham Kufi writes in his book (204 A.H.) that Ali bin Abi Talib further said, "O people! You know that we are Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet and a means of protection of the ummah against every calamity and distress. If you do not deliver our right to us, it will automatically reach its axis, and if you do not give us our right, we will go to wherever we think proper on our camel backs, not minding what time it takes; and when the appointed hour comes, we will come back. I swear by the glory of Allah that if Muhammad had not taken the pledge from us, and had not informed us of this, I would not have renounced my right, nor let anybody take it. I would have tried so hard in getting my right that I would not have hesitated to achieve my goal even at the cost of my life.
According to Tarikh Abul Fida the allegiance to the Caliphate of Uthman was sworn on Muharram 3, 24 A.H.
After his selection to Caliphate, Uthman went on the right path of rulership for sometime. But, with the passage of time, he deviated from justice and took the wrong path, with the result that there stirred a commotion among the companions of the Holy Prophet.
Muhammad bin Ali bin A'tham Kufi, the historian of Islam of the 3rd century A.H. states that whatever the people said about Uthman, and whatever of his words and deeds they tolerated, were reported from authentic narrators in different words and styles, but as their gist is the same, he has condensed those passages with differing words into one passage. The narrators say that Uthman after becoming Caliph retained the functionaries of Umar in their offices for a few days, after which he dismissed them from their posts and gave all the regions to Bani Umayyah who were his cousins and kinsmen. He appointed Abdullah bin Amir Kurbuz in Basrah.
Walid bin Atbah bin Abi Mu'it in Kufah, retained Mu 'awiyah bin Abi Sufyan as the Governor of Syria, appointed Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Saran in Egypt, and Umar bin' Aas in Palestine. A huge quantity of booty went to the Caliph after the conquest of Khurasan, Sijistan, Pars, Kerman, Egypt, Syria and the Islands of Iraq. Caliph Uthman also behaved well so far, and had in view the dispensation of justice. But when huge riches and booty came to him, his habits changed. He put the whole dominion under the control of Bani Umayyah, and gave over all the cities to his kinsmen. He freely granted them huge sums of money from the State treasury .He gave away 100,000 dinars to Abdullah bin Khalid bin Asad bin Aas bin Umayyah as soon as he reported himself present, although he was not included in the list, gave 100,000 dinars to Hakam bin' Aas, and the same amount to his son Harith bin Hakam. People did not approve of this grant, complained to Abdul Rahman bin Auf and said, "You will be responsible for its consequences. We are suffering these losses because of you. On the day you made him Caliph we had not promised allegiance or any loyalty to him for these wrong doings and evil practices. Now let us know what we should do". On the day you made him Caliph we had not promised allegiance and loyalty to him for these wrong doings and evil practices. Now let us know what we should do". Abdul Rahman said, "I am not yet informed of what you are talking". The following day Ali met Abdul Rahman and asked him if he approved of such acts. Abdul Rahman said, “I do not know. If these things are true and Uthman's conduct has changed like this, draw your sword and I also unsheath mine". People also conveyed this news to Uthman who got enraged and said, "Abdul Rahman is a hypocrite and to besmear his hands with my blood is not a difficult task for him". Abdul Rahman also heard these words, got angry and said, "I could never even imagine that Uthman would ever call me a hypocrite". Then he swore not to talk to Uthman till death. Now these things became known and everybody became critical of Uthman.
News used to reach Uthman also. One day he ordered all the Muslims to gather in the masjid. When all had gathered there, Uthman went up the pulpit, praised Allah and recited "Salawat and Salam" (blessings) upon the Holy Prophet. After that he said:
“O people! Keep thanking Allah for His bounties so that your blessings and riches may increase. Remember Him all the time, take His name, and have regard for His rights, you are Muslims and have with you the Divine Book in which everything is recorded".
"Know that it is the Command of Allah that you must obey the ruler. Have fear of Allah. Carry out His orders. Give up your connections and contacts with opposition and sins”.
"You should know that to get the seat of the Messenger of Allah and to administer the Caliphate is a very hard job. Also the rank of Caliphate is beyond your comprehension. Allah has granted the rulership to Walys and Amirs so that they decide the disputes between the weak and the strong and keep the strong from oppressing the weak".
"There are many among you who have seen the days of the Holy Prophet, have heard his sacred talks, and have witnessed his ways. Besides, the Book of Allah is in your hands. You must have read in it all the commands and prohibitions and the lawful and the unlawful acts. Allah has given you His final notice. He has promised to enhance the blessings of those who will offer thanks to Him for the blessings. There is a reward for the virtuous and punishment for the wicked. You have already heard about the pomp and show and the glory and might of the kings and monarchs. They were more powerful than we and had a mu.ch bigger army. They had vast cities and were living in comforts and luxuries. But, since they did not carry out Allah's orders, preferred the world to the hereafter, became prone to disputes and disturbances, and renounced thankfulness for His blessings. He put them to decadence, bestowed on you all their cities, houses and pastures, and gave all their cities, houses and pastures, and gave all their blessings to you. The blessings will remain with you if you keep on thanking Allah for them, or else they will be diminished on account of your sins and disobedience, and will ultimately perish".
Allah has granted me the Caliphate of the Prophet. I am capable of it today. I have taken up this office in my hand and I am performing this important and onerous duty. The same Allah who has granted me the Caliphate, gives me the capability in consonance with His will, and I also realized the secret of the sentence: "All of you are watchmen and all of you will be called to account for the subjects", and I have understood the bare fact that the person who has been made the commander, has been entrusted with a very heavy responsibility. The guardian of the people will be called to explain every deed of his subjects and to account for every particle and atom. People have told me that some of you object to the money spent by me and say to one another that it would have been better if Uthman had given this money to the soldiers and their children. This would have been expedient of course, and acceptable to Allah. I admit it, and I will do so henceforward. I will send trustworthy persons to every city to disburse among the army men and their children as much money as they collect and to lay by whatever is left over to be useful at the hour of need".
"If Allah wills, I will be paying the rights of the old men, poors, orphans and widows, will consult you in my spare time, on matters that come up for consideration and will act according to your counsel. Come to me off and on, discuss with me problems and expediencies and explain to me whatever you deem fit. I will accomplish the work with your consent and according to the exigency of the time. I do not have any guard at my door to check you. Anybody may come at anytime and tell me whatever he likes. Peace be on you!"
Having heard Uthman all the Muslims became happy and went back home praising him and praying for him: Uthman followed path of justice, observed equality between the army men and the civilian people, treated all with kindness and looked after the poor and the orphans. One year passed in this manner.
Again his habits changed and he adopted those measures which were contrary to the norms of tradition and virtue. The companions of the Prophet got very much offended. They held a meeting and decided to see the Caliph and present to him in writing a list of those things which are repugnant to Islam and which had happened till then since his adoption of office, because it was possible that in verbal talk they might forget some important matters and, even if they remembered some, they might not be able to spell them out frankly. Thus it was deemed advisable to put those matters down in writing. After that they wrote down all three irreligious things which took place from the beginning of the Uthman's Caliphate till that time, and wanted to go together to hand over that document to the Caliph.
Then these people met Ammar bin Yasir, told him what they had written and desired him to take the document to Uthman. Ammar replied that he was ready to hand it over to him. Then he went to Uthman with that document. The Caliph was coming out of his house at that time. When he saw Ammar at his door with the document he asked him, "O Abul Yaqzan! Do you want me?" Ammar answered, “I have no personal business with you but the companions of the Prophet have collectively prepared a list of your actions which you have taken contrary to the religious law, so that you may clarify your position.”
Uthman took the documents in anger, read a few lines and then threw it away. Ammar said, "Do not throw it away as this paper has been written by the companions of the Holy Prophet. Instead, read it carefully and act accordingly. I am telling you these things in your own interest". Uthman said, "O the son of Sumayyah! You are telling lies". He replied, "Undoubtedly I am the son of Sumayyah and Yasir".
The Caliph became furious. He ordered his slaves to beat Ammar, the companion of the Prophet. He was so much beaten that he fell down unconscious. Then he himself came forward and gave him several kicks at his stomach and testicles. Ammar again fainted. He got ruptured and developed hernia. When the people of Bani Makhzum who were Ammar's relatives and cousins, got this information, they came with Hashim bin Walid bin Mughirah, took him home and laid him in his bed Ammar was still unconscious when all the people swore an oath that if Ammar died of that torture they would put Uthman to death During his faintness Ammar's prayers of late afternoon and evening lapsed. When he regained consciousness during the night he got up, performed ablution and offered his lapsed prayers
This case of Ammar is also one of those misdeeds of Uthman on account of which the companions of the Holy Prophet angrily refused allegiance to him.5 This is only one of the many events recorded in the books of history We cite below a few examples from some authentic and standard books of history, so that it may be known what kind of deeds he performed during the period of his Caliphate and what treatment he gave to the public as well as to the companions of the Holy Prophet.
It is recorded in "Tarikhul Khulafa" of Suyuti that Uthman was the first man who introduced the first “Azan" before the Friday prayers. According to "al-Wasai'l Fi Ma'rifatul Awai'l" Uthman was the first to make the address precede the Eid prayer. It was never done during the days of the Prophet (s) and during the days of the first and second Caliphs According to Murujuz Zahab of Mas'udi when Uthman became Caliph his uncle, Hakam bin al-'Aas, Marwan bin Hakam and others from Bani Umayyah (who had been banished from Medina under the orders of the Prophet) gathered round Uthman. Marwan was the same outcast who was turned out of Medina by the Prophet and was prohibited from coming in the vicinity of Medina. Also the governors who were appointed by Uthman included his maternal brother, Walid bin Uqbah about whom the Prophet had informed that he would go to Hell. Walid bin Uqbah used to keep himself busy the whole night in drinking wine with his friends, musicians and prostitutes, and when) the mu'azzin (one who calls people to prayer) woke him up for the prayer, he (in the state of intoxication) went to the masjid and led the morning prayers, and after offering four rak'ats instead of two rak 'ats of prayers showed his willingness to conduct more rak'ats if people so desired. It is also said that when Walid bowed down in prostration he delayed for long and said, "Drink and make me drink". So once one of those who were in the first row behind him said, "We do not wonder at you but we wonder at one who has sent you here as our commander".
When the news of Walid's debauchery and his drinking wine became known to all, a group of Muslims, including Abu Jundab and Abu Zaynab, mobbed Walid in the masjid. They saw him lying unconscious. People tried to wake him up, but when he could not come to his senses they took off the seal-ring from his finger and immediately coming to Medina reported the wine drinking of Walid to Uthman. Uthman asked Abu Jundab and Abu Zaynab how they came to know that Walid had drunk wine. Presenting his ring in testimony to his drunkenness they said, "He drank the same wine which we used to drink during the days of our ignorance (before Islam). Uthman instead of listening to the rest of their talk rebuked them and pushing against their chests said, "Be off from here". Hearing this both of them came back hastily.
According to Tarikh Abul Fida Uthman dismissed, Amr bin al-' Aas from the Governorship of Egypt and appointed in his place his foster brother Sa'd bin Ali Sarh and he is the same man whose killing had been made permissible by the Prophet on the day of the conquest of Mecca. According to Tarikh Kamil, Uthman performed Hajj with the people in 26 A.H. Marwan bin Hakam narrates in "Musnad Abu Daud Tialisi: "I saw Uthman and Ali at the time of Hajj. Uthman was forbidding people from Mut'atul Hajj (performance of Hajj and Umrah with the same Ehram). When Ali saw this he recited the Tahlil (Lailaha illallah) of Hajj and Umrah together and said, "I am present here for Hajj and Umrah together". Uthman said, O Ali! You do the same thing which I forbid the people to do". Ali replied, "I will not abandon the tradition, of the Prophet at anybody's instance”. (This tradition may be seen in Sahih Bukhari also).