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Khalifa Uthman bin Affan - Armed Revolt Against Hadrath Uthman

Analysis of the accounts embodied in histories

If the accounts contained in the histories are analyzed we arrive at the conclusion that such accounts do not bear the test of subjective scrutiny. These accounts Paint Uthman as a fickle old man with no will of his own, who is apt to be led by other persons. This does not appear to be a true picture of the character and personality of Uthman, and the accounts are obviously biased and prejudiced. Uthman was a man of great intelligence. He was one of the richest persons in Arabia and he could not have amassed such riches if he were not a good judge of men and matters around him.

The accounts that Uthman asked Ali to intervene and he did so on Uthman giving the assurance that he would make amends, and would in future be guided by the advice of Ali do not appear to be correct. We have an alternative version in Tabari that the rebels met Uthman himself in a village outside Madina, and after hearing him they felt satisfied and returned to Egypt.

The story that Uthman offered repentance, admitted his faults, and promised to make amends does not make sense. In his speech at Makkah on the occasion of the pilgrimage, and thereafter in his speech at Madina, Uthman had offered full defense and had justified his conduct. It is plain common sense that in the face of such defense wherein he had categorically refuted all charges against him he could not turn a somersault, and admit his faults. It has also to be borne in mind that in case Uthman admitted that he had made mistakes he forfeited the right to the caliphate. It is plain common sense that if a person in high office admits his mistake the only honorable course for him is to resign, for a man who has made mistakes cannot be allowed another lease of life in office to make more mistakes. The irresistible conclusion to which we are forced is that the story that Uthman admitted his mistakes is an invention of partisan writers whose aim was to present Uthman in false colors.

The story that Uthman had repented, and that he fumed a somersault at the instance of Marwan is too crude to be correct. The sorry was given currency by the enemies of Uthman whose aim was to present Uthman as a man unfit to hold the high office of the caliphate for he had no will of his own, and was apt to play in the hands of others. Nothing could be farther from the truth. History has done great injustice to Uthman by suppressing the true facts, and narrating only such distorted facts that suited the enemies of Uthman.

Again the story of the forged letter that the Egyptians are said to have intercepted has no legs to stand upon. It may be recalled that at that time Muhammad b Abi Hudhaifa was in control of Egypt and Uthman could not write to him who was hostile to him to arrest the persons who were his own men.

It has also to be borne in mind that the rebels had been commissioned to prevail on Uthman to abdicate or to murder him in the event of refusal. These rebels could, therefore, not return to Egypt merely by securing an order for the deposition of Abdullah b Sa'ad, particularly when he was no longer in office, and had retired to Ramlah.

The truth of the matter appears to be that there was no intenention on the part of Ali; there was no repentance on the part of Uthman; the Egyptians did not return to Egypt; and there was no interception of any letter, forged or otherwise. What happened actually was merely this that the rebels studied the position in Madina, and when they felt satisfied that the people of Madina would not offer them any resistance, they entered the city of Madina and laid siege to the house of Uthman. The rebels declared that no harm from them would come to any person who did not choose to resist them. The advised the people of Madina to remain in their homes. Most of the people of Madina left for their gardens in the suburbs. Those who did not leave Madina remained confined to their houses. Only some persons, mostly the Umayyads gathered in the house of Uthman, but they were instructed by Uthman to refrain from violence.

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