What are the causes of mischief and tribulations that were seen during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman? Some scholars say that he did not have the sufficient qualities for leadership.

Details of the Question
"One of the two things that caused the institution of the caliphate to weaken was that Hz. Uthman did not have the ability of leadership as much as his predecessors did." (Abul'ula al Mawdudi, İslâm'da İhyâ Hareketleri, p. 33) Sayyid Qutub also uses similar statements in his book called "Adalatul-Ijtimaiyyatu fil-Islam". Was Hz. Uthman not qualified according to the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah? Are statements like that not disrespect toward Hz. Uthman, whose superiority is expressed by hadiths? How should we think and believe? Will you clarify the issue?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

When Hz. Umar was wounded, a consultation committee of six people was formed in order to appoint the person to be the caliph. The committee consisted of Hz. Ali, Uthman, Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas, Abdurrahman b. Awf, Zubayr Ibn Awwam and Talha Ibn Ubaydullah (May Allah be pleased with them). As a result of the negotiations, four of the members of the committee waived their rights; the negotiations continued on the names of Hz. Uthman and Hz. Ali.

After conducting an opinion research, Abdurrahman Ibn Awf, the leader of the committee, saw that the Muslims agreed on one of these two people as the caliph. He called Hz. Ali and asked him whether he would follow the book of Allah, the sunnah of the Prophet, and the practices of Abu Bakr and Umar and act accordingly. Hz. Ali said he would follow the book of Allah, the sunnah of the Prophet fully but that he would act based on his own ijtihad apart from them. When he asked Hz. Uthman the same question, he accepted it. Thereupon, Abdurrahman Ibn Awf declared that he appointed Hz. Uthman as the caliph. (Suyuti, ibid,171, 172; Ibn Hajar, ibid, 463; H. I. Hasan, ibid, I, 258, 261)

Hz. Abdurrahman called people to the mosque. He said he found Hz. Uthman more suitable for the caliphate and paid allegiance to him. After Hz. Abdurrahman, Hz. Ali became the second person to pay allegiance to Hz. Uthman. Then, the other Muslims paid allegiance to him. Thus, Hz. Uthman was chosen as the Caliph in 644.

The second person to pay allegiance to Hz. Uthman was Hz. Ali. After that, all of the Muslims paid allegiance to him. (Ibn Sa'd, ibid, III, 62) Hz. Uthman became the caliph in 23 H. at the end of the month of Dhul-hijjah.

When Hz. Uthman undertook the administration of the state, Islamic conquests were going on rapidly. During the time of Hz. Umar, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran were included in the Islamic land. The strong administration of Hz. Umar enabled the authority and system to settle firmly in the regions that were conquered.

The first six years of the caliphate of Hz. Uthman passed with conquests. In the last six years, some problems and disorders occurred. In these last six years, mischief started to arouse slowly. As Hudhayfa bin Yaman, the confidant of the Messenger of Allah put it, the door of mischief broke when Hz. Umar was martyred. Hz. Umar said when the door that did not let mischief broke, it would never be closed again.

The Important Factors of Mischief and Chaos

1. A great majority of the Companions died and the majority of the Companions who were living retreated to their homes. Their decrease meant decrease in good deeds.

2. The spread of the idea of ​​tribalism. In the Islamic state, which covered a very wide area from Andalusia to the borders of India, there were communities in the status of dhimmi belonging to various religions and races. They revolted against the Islamic state, by which they had been defeated, in any opportunity. As for the Jews, they targeted at the basic principles of Islam in order to break up and destroy the Islamic Ummah. Some Jewish people who claimed to be Muslims were trying to add fuel to the fire by exacerbating the disorders and trying to spread the mischief everywhere. One of them was Abdullah Ibn Saba, who was a man of resistance and who caused the emergence of effective mischievous movements. Ibn Saba was a Yemeni Jew. He provoked people against Hz. Uthman by using the rightful complaints of the sincere people. On the one hand, he tried to spread the idea of "rij'atu Muhammad" (Muhammad's return); on the other hand, he said that the caliphate was the right of Hz. Ali after the Prophet and that this was determined by Allah, laying the foundations of the Shiite creed. According to his ideas, Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman seized the right of Hz. Ali.

3. The expansion of the borders of the administration of the caliphate through conquests.

4. As a result of the expansion of the borders, people with various, ideas, views and beliefs started to live within the borders of the Islamic state. There were people belonging to many different nations even in Madinah.

5. Hz. Uthman was a caliph that preferred forgiving to punishing. 

6. Hz. Uthman appointed his relatives to important posts. The reason why he did so was the fact that he could not rely on anybody since the conditions were fragile and sensitive. He tried to establish the authority by doing so because his relatives were loyal to him and obeyed his orders. Hz. Uthman's appointing his relatives to various posts caused some of his opponents to propagandize against him. 

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) said that mischief and tribulations would occur during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman.

Murra b. Kab, a Companion, narrates:

I heard the Messenger of Allah mention tribulations and that they would occur soon. Meanwhile, somebody who wrapped himself in his clothes passed. When the Messenger of Allah saw him, he said,

"This person will be on the true path at that time."I went toward that man and saw that he was Uthman b. Affan. I turned his face toward the Prophet (pbuh) and asked, "Is he this man?" He said, "Yes!"2

There is another narration from Abdullah b. Umar. He said, 

"The Messenger of Allah mentioned a big tribulation and said,

'He (Uthman) will be killed as a victim in it.'"3

Hz. Uthman being informed that he will be the caliph and that some people will want to take it from him

Once Hz. Uthman wasinformed that he would be the caliph and that some people would want to take it from him.

According to a narration from Hz. Aisha, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

"O Uthman! One day, Allah will put a shirt on you. If they force you to take it off, do not take it off for them."4

The shirt Allah would put on him was interpreted as the "caliphate". As a matter of fact, the rebels came to Makkah to take off the shirt of the caliphate from him; they wanted to unseat him. However, he did not accept the demand of the rebels due to the advice of the Messenger of Allah.

Another narration from Hz. Aisha is clearer:

"Once the Prophet (pbuh) said to Hz. Uthman three times:

'O Uthman! Allah will definitely give this duty to you one day. However, munafiqs (hypocrites) will want you to take off the shirt that Allah will put on you. Do not take it off.'"5

Numan b. Bashir said to Hz. Aisha regarding the issue,

"Did anything prevent you from informing people about it on those days?"

Hz. Aisha said, "I had forgotten it."6

She probably remembered the word of the Messenger of Allah after the mischief that occurred during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman.

The Secret Advice of Hz. Uthman to the Messenger of Allah

Besides, during his last disease, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave some secret advice to Hz. Uthman. Hz. Aisha, who witnessed it, mentions it related to the mischief about Hz. Uthman:

"When the Messenger of Allah was in his deathbed, he said, 'I would like some of my Companions to be here now.' We said, 'O Messenger of Allah! Shall we call Abu Bakr?' He kept silent. Then we said, 'Shall we call Umar?' He kept silent. Then we said, 'Shall we call Uthman?' He said, 'Yes!' Uthman came and remained alone with him. When the Prophet started to talk to him, Uthman's face started to change."6

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who was lying in Hz. Aisha's room, wanted to see Hz. Uthman, not Hz. Abu Bakr and Hz. Umar, who were the closest to him among his Companions. For, he wanted to say something to Uthman. Finally, he was alone with Hz. Uthman. When the Glorious Messenger started to talk to Hz. Uthman, Uthman's face started to change. This state showed that what he said was not something nice. The Messenger of Allah probably mentioned some nasty things that would take place in the future about him and the ummah.

When Hz. Uthman's house was besieged afterwards, he showed that he acted patiently upon this secret advice and told some people about it. For instance, Qays b. Hazim states the following regarding the issue:

"Abu Sahla, the freed slave of Uthman, said to me,

'Uthman b. Affan stated the following when his house had been besieged:

The Messenger of Allah gave me some secret advice. I am following his advice."7

In addition, Hz. Ali stated the following in the hadith that mentions the same issue:  "I act patiently because of it."8

The news of the Prophet mentioned above and this hadith complement each other. When the house of Hz. Uthman was besieged, he showed patience and acted in accordance with the advice of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He told some his relatives about it when his house was besieged. Allah's putting a shirt on him and his preferring death by not taking off this shirt confirms this news given by the Prophet. 

It is necessary to view the tribulations that took place during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman in terms of qadar and giving news about the future. That the Messenger of Allah informed this mischief is one of his miracles and shows his prophethood. For, miracles are shown as evidence for prophethood. Allah knows ghayb and sees what will happen before they happen. He informs His Messenger about it based on His wisdom and mercy. And the Prophet informs people as much as he is informed.  

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"Mischief is in sleep. May Allah damn those who awaken it!" (Suyuti, Fathu’l-Kabir, II/280)

Thus, he advises us not to cause chaos and disorder. 

Hz. Uthman allocated salaries to muezzins for the first time and built an additional surrounded open area next to Masjid an-Nabawi. He did it considering the assassination against Hz. Umar.9

Everybody became very distressed when Uthman was martyred by the oppression of the Umayyads. The majority did not think that the revolt and revolution would go so far.10

With his death, a great change took place in public opinion. However, the government was still under the control of the rebels. Hz. Uthman' dead body was buried only after three days following his death next to the Cemetery of Baqi in a surrounded place  after his janazah prayer was performed by a group of Companions including Zubayr b. Awwam, Hasan b. Ali, Abu Jahm b. Hudhayfa, and according to another view Hz. Ali, Talha b. Ubaydullah. There were a few people in his funeral.11

Conclusion: It is not appropriate to attribute the mischief and tribulations that occurred during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman to his personal practices

(for detailed information, see Ass. Prof. Murat Sarıcık, Dört Halife Dönemi, Vol. II)

Footnotes:

1. Tarikhul Khamis, II, 266
2. at-Taj, III, 328; Sunanu Ibn Majah, I, 41: no 111
3. at-Taj, III, 329
4. at-Taj, III, 329 (K. Fadail); Sharhul-Maqasid, V, 291; al-Khulafaur-Rashidun, p. 179.
5. Fa aradakal-munafiqun an takhla'a qamisaka alladhi qammasakallahu, fala takhlahu. Sunanu, Ibn Majah, I, 41, No: 112. 125
6. ibid, I, 41.
7. ibid, I, 42.
8. Sunanu, Ibn Majah, I, 42; at-Taj, III, 327
9. ibid, I, 42
10. Kısası Enbiya I, 489
11. Khulafau Rashidin, p. 183

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