Uthman (r) Military Expansion and The Great Sedition A.S. Hashim, MD From wikipedia.com
Sources of Reference ibn Hisham, Uthman bin Affan, the Third Khalifa of Islam by, Abdul Basit. Hilya al-Awliya, Abu Nu’aym, Uthman ibn Affan: The Man With Two Lights (Part Two) The Murder of the Khalifa Uthman, M. Hinds, The Arabs in History, Oxford University Press, 2002 Encyclopædia Britannica The Early Islamic Conquests, Fred Donner, Princeton 1981 A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims The Cambridge History of Islam, Bernard Lewis, The Succession to Muhammad Makers of Arab History By Philip Khuri Hitti.
In this Slide Show The Islamic Empire The Military Anti-Uthman Sentiment The Campaign Uthman Investigating The Rebellious in Egypt Uthman Addresses the People Mu'awiya and Uthman Agitation in Medina Armed Revolt against Uthman The Siege of Uthman Violence Occurred Anyhow Age Related Conditions: Age 82
The Islamic Empire Islamic empire expanded at unprecedented rate under Khalifa Omar, Uthman thus directed several military expeditions to crush rebellions or re-capture the Persian territory and their vassal states. The main rebellions were in the Persian provinces of Armenia, Atherbaijan, Fars, Sistan, Tabaristan, Khurasan, and Makran. These provinces represent present days: Iran, Atherbaijan, Armenia Afghanistan, Daghestan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan. In addition, other territories were also subdued in the region. After the death of Khalifa Omar, Byzantine emperor Constantine III launched an attack but was repulsed, due to which Uthman ordered annual raids in Anatolia to cut off the power of Byzantine.
The Military From 647 to 651 major offensives were launched in Cappadocia, Caesarea, Mazaca, Cilicia and Isauria. In 650–651 the Byzantine emperor Constans II was forced to enter into negotiations The truce that followed made it possible for Constans II to hold on to the western portions of Armenia. A naval force was built and island of Cyprus was captured in 649 followed by the capture of Crete and Rhodes. After a naval victory against Byzantine fleet a portion of Sicily was also captured. In 654–655 Uthman ordered for the preparation of an expedition to capture Constantinople, it was about to be launched when Uthman was killed.
The Military North Africa was invaded in 647 and Byzantine Exarchate of Africa (which had declared its independence under its King Gregory the Patrician) was annexed. Nubia was invaded in 652 and its capital Dongola was sacked. Though battle remained inconclusive and a peace offer from Nubian King was accepted whereby no party will carry aggressive moves against the other. In 652–653 the Iberian Peninsula was invaded and its coastal areas were captured, Before further expansion could be made Uthman was killed.
Chronology: The Military Engagements In 645 AD, rebellions in the provinces of Azerbaijan and Armenia, were quelled. In 647, Mu'awiya invaded Asia Minor and captured Ammuria. In 648, Abdullah ibn al-Sar’h, captured Tripoli in Libya. Both Mu'awiya and Abdullah ibn al-Sar’h built fleets, naval power, In 649, Mu'awiya's fleet defeats the Byzantine and conquers Cyprus. In 651, Uthman's generals conquer Herat in Afghanistan. In 652-54, Abdullah bin Aamir, sent his general, Abdul Rahman ibn Samra, to the east, where he conquered Balkh, Kabul, and Ghazni in Afghanistan.
Uthman: Military Inroads Navy, conquering Cypress & Sicily Campaign: North Africa Nubia invasion Conquering Afghanistan Crush Persian & Byzantine Rebellions Inroads
Empire: Uthman versus Omar Omar's empire at its peak, 644. Uthman’s empire at its peak, 656.
Anti-Uthman Sentiment While Omar maintained discipline with a stern hand, Uthman was less rigorous upon his people; Uthman focused more on economic prosperity. Under Uthman, the people became economically better off and on the political plane they came to enjoy a larger degree of freedom. No institutions were devised to channel political activity, and, in the absence of such institutions, the pre-Islamic tribal demeanor and rivalries, (suppressed under earlier Khalifa), erupted once again. In view of these policies, the people took advantage of the liberties allowed them, and as such became a headache for the State, which culminated in the assassination of Uthman.
Anti-Uthman Sentiment Moreover, the foreign powers were alarmed at the breathtaking success of the Muslims, their hope lay in subversive movements within the territories of the Ummah. It was reported that persons like Abdullah Ibn Saba, accomplished this aim by arguments over religion. However, the figure of Abdullah Ibn Saba is believed by many Shi'a Muslims to be: a fictitious one and an imaginary personality created by certain Sunni historians to stir up anti-Shi'a sentiment. Wilferd Madelung observes that ‘’few if any modern historians would accept Sayf's legend of Ibn Saba’’
Anti-Uthman Sentiment Wilferd Madelung: Discredits the alleged role of Abdullah ibn Saba in the rebellion against Uthman, Madelung observes that ‘’few if any modern historians would accept Sayf's legend of Ibn Saba’’ It is believed that Uthman lacked: any political department to deal with the growing political agitation in the Islamic state, the political leaders in various towns campaigned against Uthman. Initially, they started with arguments over Uthman's Appointees of Benu Umayya, who were governors of Egypt, Syria, Basra and Kufa, and Yemen And proven to be corrupt, power hungry, and very clannish
The Campaign The campaign of the dissatisfied was joined by the Companions who supported Ali. The most prominent of these were Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, who was son of Abu Bakr, but raised by his stepfather, Ali, and Ammar ibn Yasir, who supported the right of Ali to become Khalifa on many accounts. The campaign was also supported by some companions who had a personal grievance with Uthman, like Amr ibn al-Aas, also an Umayya, who was stripped of the governorship of Egypt by Uthman, and Uthman's adopted son, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa, whom Uthman had refused to appoint as a governor of any province.
The anti-Uthman Argument The nature and the actual reasons for the anti-Uthman movement is disputed among the Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. Many anonymous letters were written to the leading companions of Muhammad, complaining about the tyranny of Uthman's appointed governors. Also, letters were sent to the leaders of public opinion in different provinces about the mishandling of power by Uthman's family. This contributed to much concern in the empire and finally Uthman had to investigate the matter to ascertain the authenticity of the rumors. The movement however exploited differences between the Hashemite (Ali's clan) and Umayya (Uthman's clan).
The anti-Uthman Argument Sunni Muslims feel the claims about the governors of Uthman to be exagerated, The Sunni Muslims believe this to be a tactic used by seditionists to overthrow the realm of Uthman, To make him lose control over the provinces of Egypt, Syria, Kufa and Basra, where Uthman had appointed his own kinsmen. On the other hand Shi'a Muslims regard these claims as correct, and that Uthman's kinsmen were corrupt, who did not lead the people according to the tenets and principles of Islam, The Shi’a give valid historical references to early narrations present in primary sources of Islamic history. A good many social factors have to be figured in to explain: The alarm and anxiety of the concerned people at the time.
Uthman Investigating Uthman had to investigate, since the situation became serious and tense. He wanted to investigate: the origins and extent of anti-government propaganda and its aims. Sometime around 654, Uthman summoned all of his governors (total 12) to Medina, to discuss the problem. In this Council of Governors, Uthman directed the governors To adopt all the expedients they had suggested, according to local circumstances.
Uthman Investigating Later, in the Majlis al Shura (council of ministry): it was suggested to Uthman to send reliable agents to various provinces to investigate the matter and report about the sources of such rumors.
Uthman’s Agents to Investigate: As a result, Uthman sent agents to the main provinces as follows: Muhammad ibn Maslamah was sent to Kufa; U'sama ibn Zaid was sent to Basra; Ammar ibn Yasir was sent to Egypt, Abdullah ibn Omar was sent to Syria. The emissaries who were sent to Kufa, Basra, and Syria submitted their reports to Uthman, that things are OK in Kufa, Basra and Syria. Some individuals in various locations had some personal grievances, but with which people at large were not concerned. Ammar ibn Yasir, the emissary to Egypt, however, did not return to Medina.
The Rebellious in Egypt The rebellious carried on with their protests calling for the Khilaafah of Ali. Ammar ibn Yasir had been affiliated with Ali; he left Uthman, and instead joined the opposition in Egypt. Abdullah ibn al-Sar’h, the governor of Egypt, reported about the activities of the opposition in Egypt. He wanted to take action against: Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa (adopted son of Uthman) and Ammar ibn Yasir. Uthman did not want his governor, Abdullah ibn al-Sar’h, to be harsh against them, due to their high status.
The Rebellious After the Egyptian emissary's failure, Uthman looked for further developments in Egypt. Uthman’s strategy was to address grievances and instruct his governors in this regard. In 655, Uthman called for the people with the grievances to assemble at Mecca for the Haj. He promised them that all legitimate grievances would be redressed and set right. He summoned the governors and the "Amils" throughout the empire to come to Mecca on the occasion of the Haj.
Uthman Addresses the People Uthman addressed the people and gave a long explanation of the criticism about himself and his administration and then said: “I have had my say. Now I am prepared to listen to you. If any one of you has any legitimate grievance against me or my Government you are free to give expression to such grievance, If any one of you has any legitimate grievance against me or my Government you are free to give expression to such grievance, and I assure you that, I will do my best to redress such grievance” The rebels realized that the people in Mecca were satisfied with Uthman’s answer That was a psychological uplift for Uthman.
Mu'awiya and Uthman It is said that before going back to Syria, Mu'awiya, (Uthman’s cousin): Suggested to Uthman to go to Syria Since the atmosphere over there was peaceful. Uthman rejected his offer, saying that he didn't want to leave the city of Muhammad (referring to Medina). Mu'awiya then suggested to send a strong force from Syria to Medina to guard Uthman against any possible attempt by people to harm him. Uthman rejected that suggestion too, saying that the Syrian force in Medina would be an incitement to civil war, and he could not be a party to such a move.
Agitation in Medina After the Haj of 655 things remained quiet for some time. But with the dawn of the year 656, Medina, the capital city of Uthman, became a hotbed of intrigue and unrest. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr returned to Medina from Egypt, and became active in the campaign against the Khilaafah of Uthman. When the crisis deepened in Medina, Uthman addressed the congregation in the Masjid al-Nabawi and gave an explanation if not rebuttal of the claims against him. The general public was again satisfied with Uthman. Uthman had hoped that after explaining his position, and having offered full defense for his actions, the circulating claims against him would cease.
The Gathering Storm The politics of Egypt played the major role in the stand against the Khilaafah, Uthman summoned Abdullah ibn al-Sar’h, the governor of Egypt, to Medina to consult with him as to the course of action to be adopted. In coming to Medina ibn al-Sar’h left the affairs of Egypt to his deputy, and in his absence, Ibn Abi Hudhaifa (the adopted son of Uthman) staged a coup d’état and took power. On hearing of the revolt in Egypt, Abdullah hastened back but Uthman was not in a position to offer him any military assistance and, accordingly, Abdullah ibn Saad failed to recapture his power.
Armed Revolt against Uthman In the middle of 656AD, Uthman’s governor of Kufa, Abu- Musa al-Ash’ari: was unable to control the province. In Basra the governor, Abdullah ibn Aamir, had left for Haj, and in his absence the affairs of the province fell into a state of confusion. The three main provinces of: Egypt, Kufa, and Basra became essentially independent from the Khilaafah of Uthman, and became the hotbed of the unsightly, highly charged, and disgruntled men. They seeked action.
Rebels in Medina From Egypt a contingent of about 1,000 people were sent to Medina, with instructions for Uthman to change his administration for the better. Similar contingents marched from Kufa and Basra to Medina. Medina was rife with restless people needing action. They sent their representatives to Medina to contact the leaders of public opinion. The representatives of the contingent from Egypt waited on Ali, and offered him the Khilaafah in succession to Uthman, which Ali refused.
Seeking an Alternative to Uthman The representatives of the contingent from Kufa waited on Al-Zubair, while the representatives of the contingent from Basra waited on Talha, and offered them their allegiance as the next Khalifa, which were both turned down. In proposing alternatives to Uthman as Khalifa, the rebels neutralized the bulk of public opinion in Medina and: Uthman's faction could no longer offer a united front. Uthman had the active support of Benu Umayya of course, and a few other people in Medina, but the rest of the people of Medina chose to be neutral and help neither side.
Before the Siege of Uthman The situation in Medina was a big gain for the rebels. When they discovered that people of Medina would offer no resistance, they entered the city of Medina and laid siege to the house of Uthman, essentially taking it over but not confining the Khalifa. The rebels declared that no harm from them would come to any person who chose not to resist them. Uthman instructed his supporters to refrain from violence but his various servants (about 40 of them) appealed for permission to fight against the rebels, along with some citizens of Medina.
Intrigue The rebellious were assured by Uthman with instructions in their favor Satisfied, the Egyptians left Medina for Egypt. On their way they saw a man heading for Egypt. Upon asking him, he said he had a letter to the governor of Egypt They took the letter, and the instructions for the governor were to arrest these people and put them to the sword if need be. Feeling double-crossed, and very inflamed, the Egyptians went back to Medina to deal with Uthman. It is claimed the letter was written by Marwan without Uthman knowing.
The Siege of Uthman The early stage of the siege of Uthman’s house was not severe, the rebels merely hovered around the house and did not place any restrictions on him. Uthman went to the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi as usual, and led the prayers. The rebels offered prayers under the leadership of Uthman. While Uthman addressed the people in the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi he was criticized by opponents. At this the supporters of Uthman took up clubs on his behalf. Tempers flared on both sides, hot words were exchanged between the parties, and that led to the pelting of stones at one another.
Observation The happenings in the mosque showed that: most of the people of Medina or at least those in the mosque preferred not to fight, but to watch developments. The rebellious took on a new approach, they changed strategy, and tightened the siege of Uthman’s house thus they confined Uthman to his house. Uthman was denied the freedom to move about, and was not allowed to go to the mosque.
The Siege Continues As the days passed, the rebels, be they from Egypt, Kufa or Basra, intensified their pressure against Uthman. They forbade the entry of food or provisions, and later water as well was stopped, Conditions became bad, deteriorating. Umm Habiba, a widow of Muhammad, came with some water and provisions but was not allowed. A’isha, made a similar attempt, and she was also prevailed upon and had to go back. Strangely, previously among those inciting to fight Uthman was A'isha, wife of the Prophet, among others such as Talha.
The Pilgrims out of Medina to Mecca With the departure of the pilgrims from Medina to Mecca for Haj: the hands of the rebellious were further strengthened, The rebellious took advantage of the opportunity, And before the pilgrimage was over they took action against the Khalifa During the siege, Uthman was asked by his supporters to let them fight against the rebels. Uthman, however, prevented them to avoid bloodshed of Muslims by Muslims.
Violence Occurred Anyhow Unfortunately for Uthman, violence occurred anyhow. The gates of the house of Uthman were shut and guarded by Abdullah ibn al-Zubair and others. The sons of Ali, Al-Hasan and Al-Husain sons of Ali, were also guarding the gates of Uthman’s Palace. Strangely, among those inciting to fight Uthman was A'isha, wife of the Prophet, along with others such as Talha. A skirmish erupted between the opponents and the supporters of Uthman at the gate, some anti-Uthman partisans were killed, and the rebels were finally pushed back. Among the supporters of Uthman, Al-Hasan ibn Ali, Marwan and some other people were wounded.
Age Related Conditions: Age 82 At an advanced age of 82 yrs a person often suffers from one, two, or more of the debilitating conditions: 1. The eyesight suffers from cataract, need for glasses (not available then), compromised vision, 2. Hearing difficulty of variable degree, 3. Prostate hypertrophy, leading to interrupted sleep, 4. Forgetfulness, and difficulty of concentration for long periods, 5. Difficulty in making instantaneous but hard decisions. Being the head of State, with the need of critical decisions, Uthman must have felt an enormous weight on him: 1. This could explain his management of the Ummah at his time, 2. More so, if he had had one or more of the conditions affecting the elderly.
An Overview After Omar, the momentum of expansion continued There was need for consolidation after such breathtaking expansion. The management of Uthman was going smoothly during the first half of his Khilaafah. When Benu Umayya became entrenched, at the expense of the Ummah, And when their mismanagement, abuse of power, Jahiliya habits and its reprehensible ways became evident. This raised the ire of people like Ibn Mas’ood, Abu Dhar, Ammar, and numerous other very sincere Muslims. People love Islam too much than to see it compromised. The end result was the Sedition and its aftermaths.
An Overview Continued It seems the management of the enormous Ummah had become too difficult and too weighty, So Uthman decided to make Marwan as secretary of State. As a man, Marwan was capable, clannish, worldly, and greedy. Marwan was persuasive, but he was given much leeway in matters of the State and its management. Marwan persuaded Uthman to give the highest preferences to his kinfolk, Benu Umayya. Benu Umayya were power mongers, worldly, greedy, and holding to power at any expense. Their rule, as a dynasty, proved corrupt and simply unacceptable to many The end result was the tragic events, not only to Uthman but to the Ummah afterwards.
The Sedition الفتنة The Violence 6. The Violence 5. The Siege of Uthman 4. Agitation in Medina 3. The Rebellious in Egypt 2. Uthman Investigating 1. Anti-Uthman Sentiment
In Conclusion Uthman and the Great Sedition Discussed in this slide show are: The Islamic Empire and the Military Anti-Uthman Sentiment The Campaign Uthman Investigating The Rebellious in Egypt Mu'awiya and Uthman Agitation in Medina Armed Revolt against Uthman The Siege of Uthman Violence Occurred Anyhow Age Related Conditions: Age 82
Finally we quote the Quran: By the Token of Time Verily Man is in loss, Except those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to Truth and exhort one another to patience. بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ وَالْعَصْرِ إِنَّ اِلانسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ إِلا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ