The Murder of Usman, r.a., Compiler of al- Qur’an; Greatest Sahabi [except 2]. Beloved of Muhammad, pbuh.
by Kaukab Siddique, PhD
On Muharram 1, hijri year 24, the Companions of the Prophet, pbuh, gave the oath of allegiance [baiya] to Usman ibn Affan, r.a.
On Zilhijja 18, hijri year 36, he was murdered.
His 12 years as Caliph were years of victory for Islam when the armies of mujahideen reached as far west as Morocco and as far east as central Asia [Tabaristan etc].
Led by his commander for the navy, Muawiyya, r.a., the Muslims, defeated the combined navies of Christendom in one day. It is reported that the ocean ran red with the blood of the European army.
The Prophet, pbuh, saw his piety and commitment to the faith and arranged the marriage of his daughter, Ruqayya, r.a. with Usman, r.a..
When the chiefs of Makka oppressed the Muslims, Usman,r.a., and Ruqayya, r.a., did the first hijra in the history of Islam to Ethiopia in Africa thus creating the Islamic link with Africa. It was a very tough journey and on the way Ruqayya, r.a., had a miscarriage. Her health problems continued after they returned from Ethiopia. He was always there for her, caring and compassionate.
After Ruqayya, r.a., died, the Prophet, pbuh, arranged the marriage of his second daughter, Umm Kulthum, r.a., with Usman. She too was in bad health and years later she passed away. The Prophet, pbuh, said if he had another daughter, he would have married her too to Usman, r.a., because of Usman,s, r.a., compassion and love. [Fatima, r.a., the third daughter, was already married to Ali, r.a.]
Why were the shias able to murder Usman, r.a.?
Three important reasons are available in the authentic early histories:
- The Islamic armies were stretched out hundreds of miles away from Medina.
- Many prominent Muslims, including Ayesha, r.a., had gone for Hajj.
- There was a campaign of rumor mongering and slandering against Usman, r,a., Sahaba, r.a., had often differed with each other but never fought each other. They thought the new controversies were normal in an open society and NEVER thought that anyone with a Muslim name would try to kill the blessed Caliph who had the love of the Prophet, pbuh, as part of his credibility.
When the shias realized there was no armed force to defend Medina, they entered the city and besieged the mosque and the home of Usman, r.a. The Shias numbered about 6000, including groups from Egypt parts of Iraq. From the people of Madina, 600 people came forth to defend of Caliph. He told them NOT to fight. He said he did not want Muslim blood to be shed for his sake.
When the rebels closed in on him, he tried to dialogue with them. He told them that they did not have the right to remove as Calipn because they had not made him the Caliph. When they pressed into the mosque and his home, he saw that they were intent on killing him. He told them that a Muslim can only be killed for three reasons and unproven accusations of misrule were not one of them.
Finally,on Friday, while he was continuing his fasting from previous days, a group of the Shias leapt on him and killed him while he was reading the Qur’an he had compiled. A slave he had freed, fought the attackers and gave his life. Nailah, the wife of Usman, r,a,, put up her hand to stop the sword blow coming down on him, Her fingers were cut off.
There was great suspicion at that time that Ali, r.a., was behind the shia attack but he vehemently and repeatedly denied any involvement. Among the assailants was Ali’s step son. Another man became famous as commander of Ali’s army, named Ashtar, was among the assailants.
Suspicions were raised by the killers declaring Ali, r.a., as the next Caliph.
Nailah cried out to the Muslim Ummah that could they allow such a dastardly crime to be committed. She cried out to Muawiyyah, r.a,, and showed him her fingers which had been cut off. The fingers were hung on the gateway to the central mosque in Damascus. Thousands of Syrians rallied to Muawiyya, r.a., for the cause of Usman, r.a.
Ayesha, r.a., who was in Makkah for the Hajj called for the murderers to be punished. An army gathered around her. Thus came about the wars between Muslims which followed.
As Usman, r.a., had told his assailants, if you kill me, you will never be able to pray togethert.
[Documented from Tabqat al-Kubra by Ibn Saad and other authentic narratives.]