Chapter 18

Abu Dharr having returned to Medina from Syria was busy in his preachings when one more heart rending incident came to pass and that was the burning of the Holy Qur'an. He was already grieved to see that the Islamic State was being ruined. The wealth of Muslim ummah was being spent on relatives and kinsmen of the Caliph. The door of the Public Treasury was completely closed to the needy, the poor, the orphans and the widows, but it was wide open to the descendants of Umayyah. The poor people were starving while the relatives of the Caliph were purchasing houses, gardens and lands. All of a sudden he got the news that the Caliph got different copies of the Qur'an collected from a far and wide, and put them to flames. Therefore, this important incident became the target of his preaching. The historian Abul Fida writes that this happened in 30 A.H1.
The historian Ya'qubi (died 278 A.H.) writes in his book that Uthman collected the Qur'an arid arranged it in such a way that he placed big surahs (chapters) together and the small surahs together separately, and sending for copies from all sides, got them washed with hot water and vinegar and set fire to them. As a result of it no Qur'an was left except the copy belonging to Ibn Mas'ud which was with him in Kufah. When Abdullah Ibn 'Amir, the Governor of Kufah, asked Ibn Mas'ud for his copy he refused to give it. At this news Uthman wrote to 'Amir to arrest Ibn Mas'ud and send him to Medina. When Ibn Mas'ud came and entered the masjid, Uthman was busy delivering his speech. Seeing Ibn Mas'ud he said, "An ugly and ill-natured animal has come". Ibn Mas'ud also strongly retorted in response. Hearing it Uthman ordered people to beat him. So the people beat him and dragged him in such a way that two of his ribs got fractured.
It is written in the Persian translation of Tarikh A'tham Kufi (printed in Bombay vide page 147 line 8) that Uthman tore off the Qur'an and got it burnt. The same is given in the book "Successors of Muhammad". (W. Irving p.160 printed in London, 1850 A.D.). According to "Najatul Mu'minin" by Mulla Mohsin Kashmiri, Uthman got the ribs of Ibn Mas'ud fractured and snatching his Qur'an got it burnt. According to Rauzatul Ahbab vol. 2, p. 229 printed Lucknow, Uthman ordered, "My Qur'an must be given currency in my domain and the remaining Qur'ans should be burnt". Accordingly all the remaining copies of Qur'an were got burnt. According to Tarikh al-Qur'an by Abdul Qadir Makki, p. 36 printed Jeddah 1365 A.H. Sahih Bukhari vol. 6, p. 26 printed Bombay, Mishkit Sharif printed Dehli, p. 150, and Tafsir Itqan Suyuti, printed Ahmadi, vol. 1, p. 84; Uthman sent word to Hafsah, the wife of the Holy Prophet, to send him the Scriptures so that he might copy them out and then return them to her. Hafsah sent those Scriptures which were with her and Uthman appointed Zayd bin Thabit, Abdullah bin Zubayr, Sa'id bin 'As, Abdul Rahman bin Harith to collect and copy the Scriptures, and asked all the three men of the Quraysh to write the Qur'an in the colloquy of Quraysh in case there arose some difference on some point in it, because the Qur'an had been revealed in their language. They did accordingly till the Scripture was copied out and Uthman returned the Scriptures to Hafsah as promised and sent one newly-prepared copy to her. Now only the copy of the Qur'an prepared by Uthman remained in existence and all the other copies were got burnt. According to Fathul Bari of Ibn Hajar 'Asqalani vol. 4, p. 226, Uthman sent back the Qur'an of Hafsah but Marwan snatched it forcibly from her and burnt it. According to Tarikh Khamis p. 270, Isti'ab p. 373 and Sawa'iq Muhriqah p. 68
Uthman got all the copies of the Qur'an burnt except his own and got Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud beaten so much that he developed the disease of hernia. Then he sent him to prison where he died. According to Tuhfah lthna ' Ashariyah of Abdul Aziz, Ubayy bin Ka'b gave his Qur'an to Uthman and he escaped beating. That Qur'an was also burnt.

It is however recorded in innumerable books that Uthman got the Divine Scriptures burnt. These were the Qur'ans which were compiled in the days of Abu Bakr. When Ummul Mu'minin 'Ayesha got the news of the burning of Qur'ans she became restless. She said, "O Muslims! Kill this man who has burnt the Qur'an. He has committed a great oppression"2

Ayesha was not content with this much, but she constantly expressed her displeasure against Uthman. She said again and again "Kill this jew, Na'thal. May Allah kill him. He has become an apostate"3. According to Tazkirah Khawasul Ummah pp. 38, 40, 41 Ibn Athir Jazari, she used to say, "Kill this Na'thal. May Allah kill him". By this she meant Caliph Uthman. Then Ibn Athir explains why she called Uthman Na'thal. The reason that Na'thal was ajew in Egypt and his beard resembled that of Uthman. Again he says that according to a statement by Shaykh it meant a fool. He further says that after that 'Ayesha went to Mecca. (Nihayah Ibn Athir)
The historian Ibn Taqtaqi writes that Uthman was killed in consequence of 'Ayesha 's order "Kill this Na'thal". The very day his house was surrounded 'Ayesha went to Mecca4.
It is obvious that when 'Ayesha, being a woman was so much shocked by this incident, why should Ali not have been shocked by this horrible event? It is learnt from the writings of authentic scholars that Ali got highly shocked by the incident of burning of the Qur'an. Consequently he felt the necessity of consulting Abu Dharr in this respect. Allamah Majlisi writes that after this incident Ali asked Abdul Malik, the son of Abu Dharr to send his father to him. When he came he exchanged views with him about this incident, expressed his grief and said, "It has been ironed and torn to pieces. It is possible that Allah may take revenge upon him with iron". Abu Dharr said, "O Ali I have heard the Prophet of Allah saying, that the tyrant kings would kill the members of his house". Ali said, "O Abu Dharr! Are you drawing my attention to my being murdered, Abu Dharr said, "No doubt, this will happen and you will be the first out of the progeny of the Prophet to be assassinated"5.
In short, it becomes evident that Abu Dharr was deeply affected by this terrible event. He also added one more theme to his speeches and called it an un-Islamic way. Let it be known that as the burning of the Qur'an injures the Islamic spirit so some modern writers have changed the word "burning” where the burning of the Qur'an is narrated. Shah Walyullah Dehlavi, in the life events of Uthman writes, "He did away with other Scriptures which were considered to spread differences". (Izalatul Khifa vol. 1, p. 274)

  • 1. Tarikh Abul Fida, vol. 2, p. 100, printed in Amritsar, 1901 A.D
  • 2. Anwarul Qulub, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi p.313
  • 3. Rauzatul Ahbab vol. 3,  p. 12
  • 4. Tarikhul Fakhri p. 62, printed Egypt
  • 5. Hayat ul-Qulub, vol. 2, p. 104