HISTORY OF ISLAM
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE TRIBULATIONS THAT STRUCK ISLAMIC NATION DURING 632-80
MOHAMMAD IBN ABU BAKR (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)
We did not go into details about the history of Islam, or the tribulations that struck the Islamic nation during 632-80 as these can be read in many related Ahle Sunnah books. We have discussed briefly certain events of great significance during this period. Correct comprehension of these issues is very important because a slight misunderstanding will have profound affect on Sahih Iman. It is important that we safeguard our Iman from the extreme opinions of Shias, Salafis, Ikhwan, Deobandis and their like minded groups.We have refrained from expressing our personal opinions throughout these articles. We have described facts as contained in authentic History books/Islamic literature. Ahadith, Quranic verses and scholars' opinions have been cited all through the articles. If you think some information related to a particular issue has been left, please write to us, giving authentic references. We will try to accommodate it as far as possible. Please note that these articles are aimed at clearing the misunderstanding on historical issues. We hope our readers will greatly benefit from this effort.There are 11 articles in this series which cover various misunderstandings and differences of opinions about the happenings during 50 years, immediately after the death of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). For better understanding, it is important that you read these articles in the same sequence, from part 1 to 11.
Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was the son of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). His mother's name was Asma bint Umays (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا). He was born three and a half months before the death of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). He was two and a half years old at the time of Hadhrat Abu Bakr's (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) death. After Hadhrat Abu Bakr's (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) death, Asma bint Umays (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) was married to Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), and Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) took care of Mohammad Ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) as his own son.
Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) spent considerable time in Egypt. He headed the delegation that complained about the excesses of the Governor of Egypt to Hadhat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) during his caliphate. It is reported that Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) listened to the grievances of the delegation patiently and assured them that he will take remedial actions. He promised that the incumbent Governor of Egypt will be asked to resign. He also agreed to appoint Hadhrat Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) as the Governor of Egypt as per the wishes of the delegation. Appropriate orders were issued by the Caliph which were to be communicated to the Governor of Egypt by an official emissary.
Marwan Ibn Hakam, the close relative of Muawiya (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), who had infiltrated the Caliphate and had become Hadhrat Uthman's (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) Secretary, was not happy with this development. He engineered a plan to stall the proceeding. As soon as the delegation left, he wrote a (hand written) letter addressed to the Governor of Egypt. He used official stationary, official stamp and Caliphate's Official Messenger for this purpose. The letter contained an order from the Caliph to the incumbent Governor of Egypt to eliminate Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and his close associates as soon as they enter Egypt. While the emissary was taking this forged letter to the Governor of Egypt, he was caught on the way by the delegation headed by Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) who were also returning to Egypt at that time. On inquiry, the emissary confessed that he was carrying a secret letter to the Governor of Egypt from the Caliph. When this letter was opened by the delegation, they were aghast to see its contents. They were furious on the Caliph and considered that the Caliph had double crossed them.
Islamic history records the incident as follows.
"A group of seven hundred Egyptians came to complain to Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) about their governor Ibn Abi Sarh’s tyranny, so Uthman Ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) said: "Choose someone to govern you." They chose Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), so Uthman Ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) wrote credentials for him and they returned. On their way back, at three days' distance from Madina, a messenger caught up with them with the news that he carried orders from Uthman Ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) to the governor of Egypt. They searched him and found a message from Uthman ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) to Ibn Abi Sarh ordering the death of Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and some of his friends. They returned to Madinah and besieged Uthman ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). Uthman Ibn Affan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) acknowledged that the camel, the servant, and the seal on the letter belonged to him, but he swore that he had never written nor ordered the letter to be written. It was discovered that the letter had been hand-written by Marwan Ibn al-Hakam."
The above incident shows what was going on inside the Caliphate and how the Khalifa was surrounded by the people who were working for the vested interests. It also shows that Marwan was looking after the interest of some Governors in the Caliphate.
The atmosphere in Madina was already charged up as trouble makers from other places, particularly from Kufa, Iraq, were demanding Caliph's ouster from office. Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) did not use force to disperse the crowed who had gathered around his house. The Caliph was not in favor of using force on the crowd as it might have resulted in killing of scores of people. The Khalifa was 80 years old and a father figure to his people. His heart was full of love for his people and he never wanted any kind of bloodshed on the street. His approach to the trouble makers was conciliatory. He tried hard to bring sanity to the rioters. During the siege, he used to climb over the roof of his house and address the rioters in a most conciliatory way. His conciliatory approach was viewed as his weakness by the rioters. They thought that the people had abandoned their Caliph. This was wrong perception. They did not know that if Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) had decided to use force, he could have gathered several thousand armed supporters, much higher than the number of rioters who had gathered around his house. In addition, he could have used security personnel to crush the uprising.
Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was supporting the agitators because he believed that the Caliph had planned to eliminate him and his close friends. When the news of Marwan's forgery became public, the rioters demanded Marawan to be handed over to them. The Khalifa knew that if he hands over Marwan to them, it will not end with Marwan. There will be killings and counter killings and it may trigger a large scale bloodshed. He refused to handover Marwan to the rioters and wanted law to take its own course in a peaceful atmosphere. But Caliph's wise counsel was viewed with suspicion by the rioters.
When we look at the Caliph's virtuous attitude in dealing with the rioters, we find it beyond imagination of human minds. He did not place even official guards to protect himself from the rioters. It was Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) who sensed the seriousness of the situation, and risking the lives of his sons, asked Hadhrat Hassan (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and Hadhrat Hussain (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) to guard the door of the Khalifa 24 hours of the day. This was done against the wishes of the Caliph. The Caliph was not afraid of his life and preferred to die in the cause of Allah. The human history cannot produce the examples of our Khulafa e Rashideen. Alas, rioters could not understand Hadhrat Uthaman's (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) generosity and extraordinary care and concern for his people.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) had asked Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) not to resign if he was pressurized to relinquish the Caliphate. He was following the Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) instructions by refusing to resign. Alas, people did not realize it. He was foretold by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) about his martyrdom. He knew it was coming. He never liked anyone else, even among the rioters, to die. He was protecting the lives of the people and waiting for the Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) prophesy to come true. Subhanallah. Look at the standard of Iman of our Khulafa e Rashideen.
It is in Hadith - Narrated by Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا): The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said : "O `Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)! It may be that Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) shall vest you with a shirt. If they demand that you remove it, do not remove it. ( Ibn Hibban, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, all with sound chains).
Tirmidhi narration adds, "The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) repeated it three times." Another sound version in Ahmad states: "If the hypocrites ask that you remove it, do not ...."
When the siege continued for a long time, the rioters started getting impatient. They were demanding Caliph's resignation. Some trouble makers among the agitators then hatched a plan to enter the house of the Caliph by force. They convinced Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) to accompany them. It looked they wanted to physically take control of the Caliphate. As the gate was guarded by people, they entered the house from behind by climbing the walls. It is wrong to say that Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) entered the house of the Caliph with the intention to kill him (Astaghfirullahal azeem). It is reported in authentic history accounts that when Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) entered the house along with some rioters, Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was reading Quran. The Caliph looked at Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and told him "Son, if your father was alive today and if he had seen you like this in front of me, he would not have been happy with you.". The fatherly advice of the Caliph touched the heart of 25-year-old Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) . He realized his mistake. His anger turned into repentance. He did not say a word and left the house. However, the rioters who were working for the vested interests, who had used Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) all along, considered it as a opportunity to do away with the Caliph. They attacked and killed the Caliph. Later they looted the Caliph's house and Government treasury.
The most reliable report on the above incident is, of al-Zuhri from Ibn al-Musayyab, mursal, in Dhahabi's Tarikh al-Islam, as follows:
"Mohammad Ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) led the group that burst in, then Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) mentioned his father to him and he drew back in shame. He later said: "I repented at that moment." But the others pounced on Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and killed him. Na'ila (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) the wife of Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) confirmed this to Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), adding: "Nevertheless, he brought in those who killed him!" Rayta or Khansa' the Mawlat of Usama ibn Zayd was in the house at that time and he also confirmed this happening."
The above incident is recorded in Ibn Sa'd Tabaqat, at-Tabari's Tarikh, al-Maliqi's Maqtal as-Shahid Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), Ibn Kathir's al-Bidaya wan-Nihaya, and many others.
Imam an-Nawawi in Tahdhib al-Asma' wal-Lughat also mentioned this incident.
"After the assasination of Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) in 35 H, Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) used Mohammad ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) in various official positions, the last of them as Governor of Egypt in 37 H which shows he was convinced that Mohammad Ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was not responsible for the assasination of Hadhrat Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). Mohammad Ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) fought alongside Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) at the Camel and Siffin. After the Camel, Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) deputized him to escort (Ummul Momineen) A'isha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) back to Madina. Had Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) been responsible for the assasination of Uthman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), (Ummul Momineen) A'isha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) would never have forgiven him nor wept heavily when he was killed in Egypt in 38 H. Those who revile his memory today obviously side with his killers against (Ummul Momineen) A'isha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) and Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)."