Edict of Uthmaan, 34 AH
On the occasion of Hajj, 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, announced his readiness to listen to complaints among the governors. Thus, following his orders, all the governors reached Makkah. In accordance with 'Abdullaah bin Saba’s scheme, his followers too set out from every province and center but arrived in Al-Madeenah instead of Makkah. At this point 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, addressed them and said: "Trouble is bound to appear in the near future, but I don't like to be blamed for it, for whatever I have done, it was solely for the welfare of the people." This utterance of the Caliph silenced them all.
'Uthmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, came back to Al-Madeenah after performing the Hajj. He then assembled those from outside and also invited 'Ali, Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them. 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan rose to address them and said: "Abu Bakr and 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, after becoming Caliph, practiced caution concerning their relatives with an eye on accountability, although the Prophet, , (may Allah exalt his mention) took care of his relatives and extended help to them. My relatives are poor and so I do the needful for them. I am ready to do away with my practice if you prove it invalid and unlawful."
'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, had barely spoken this, when a man got up and raised the objection: "You unlawfully gave away wealth and property to your relatives; for instance, you once gave the entire booty to 'Abdullaah bin Sa'd." 'Uthmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: "I have given him one-fifth from the one-fifth of the booty. And we have such examples during the Caliphates of Abu Bakr and 'Umar."
Another person said: "You have conferred power and rule on your relatives; for instance, you have appointed Mu'aawiyah bin Abu Sufyaan governor of the entire Syria. You made 'Abdullaah bin 'Amr governor of Basrah by deposing Abu Moosaa Al-Ash'ari; you installed Waleed bin 'Uqbah and then Sa'eed bin Al-'Aas governors of Koofah by removing Al-Mugheerah bin Shu'bah." 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: "Those governors are not my relatives and they have the ability to manage the affairs well. However, if they do not deserve the post, I am always ready to change them for others. Thus I have already put Abu Moosaa Al-Ash'ari as the governor of Koofah by removing Sa'eed bin Al-'Aas."
Yet another person got up and said: "You love your family members the most and you give them extravagant gifts." 'Uthmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: "Love of the family members is not a sin. And I give them gifts from my own possessions, not from the public treasury. How can I give them anything from the public treasury when I myself do not take a single dirham from there? I am at liberty to give away anything to anybody from my personal property."
In short, objections of this nature were raised and 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan answered them fully and thoroughly. At the end of the assembly, the people left silently.
Events of 35 AH
The governors of various provinces began to leave Al-Madeenah. When Mu'aawiyah, may Allah be pleased with him, the governor of Syria decided to depart, he came to 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, and said: "I anticipate an attack on you and you may not be able to resist it. It is better for you to accompany me to Syria, for the Syrians are loyal and lend their full support to me."
'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: "On no account shall I abandon the proximity and neighborhood of the Prophet, ." Having heard this Mu'aawiyah said: "Let me send you an army from Syria to guard you against any eventuality." 'Uthmaan said: "I am not in favor of putting my neighbors into trouble." Hearing this Mu'aawiyah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "You are bound to be deceived." In reply to this 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "Allah is enough for me and what an Excellent Supporter He is." After which he remained silent.
Mu'aawiyah, may Allah be pleased with him, then left the place and came to 'Ali, Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them. He asked them to provide protection to 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, then he set off for Syria.
Conspiracy of 'Abdullaah bin Saba
'Abdullaah bin Saba had already finalized his nefarious plan during his stay in Egypt. He had won over Companions like 'Ammaar bin Yaasir and Warqah bin Raafi', may Allah be pleased with them, to his side. However, none besides the small group of his followers were aware of his real game. His love for 'Ali and the family of the Prophet, was nothing more than a maneuver for inciting people against the Caliphate. A considerable number of Muslim soldiers had joined his party. Gradually, 'Abdullaah bin Saba won the hearts of enough people to challenge the authority of 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan and bring about his deposition or do away with him. However, the issue of 'Uthmaan’s successor was still the bone of contention. Gradually, his party was divided in three groups each supporting its own candidate from among 'Ali, Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them. Since 'Abdullaah bin Saba had no interest in the unity and strength of Islam, he held back his support from 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, and left the matter to the contenders. His main issue was the liquidation of 'Uthmaan's Caliphate.
Departure of the Caravan of Mischief-Mongers
At first, a group of 1000 people was sent in advance pretending to be a Hajj mission. The party consisted of Abdur-Rahmaan bin 'Udays, Kinaanah bin Bishr Al-Laythi, and Sudan bin Humraan and was headed by Al-Ghaafiqi bin Harb. It was decided that the entire party should not proceed at one time from Egypt. The party was thus divided into four groups to leave Egypt separately and then to meet after several stages. Another party of 1000 men left Koofah and another of the same number marched from Basrah. All these parties left their cities in the month of Shawwaal 35 AH, under the pretext of going to Hajj. However, their goal was to get rid of the Caliph either by deposing or by killing him. At the appointed time, the parties coming from different directions joined one another and proceeded to Al-Madeenah. Three stages from Al-Madeenah, the party divided itself into three separate groups each supporting its own candidate for the Caliphate.
It is worth mentioning here that the followers of 'Abdullaah bin Saba in Al-Madeenah had written forged letters in the names of 'Ali, Talhah, Az-Zubayr, and the Mothers of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with them, to their followers in Koofah, Basrah and Egypt who were against 'Abdullaah bin Saba and his group. The letters emphasized that 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, was no longer able to shoulder the heavy burden of the Caliphate. Therefore the matter should be brought to its end in the month of Thul-Hijjah. Encouraged by these forged letters, the rioters found it easy to indulge in acts of plunder and massacre in order to do away with the Caliphate. Otherwise, they could not have mustered the courage to plan an invasion of Al-Madeenah, the city of the Prophet, where even a strong army of the disbelievers failed to make inroads during the Battle of the Trench.
All the distinguished persons rejected their nefarious plan outright, but they found no preparations of any kind whatsoever in Al-Madeenah. They went back to the rioters and assembled their chiefs and representatives for an emergency consultation. Allaying fears of any defensive preparations in Al-Madeenah from their minds, they placed before them a suggestion that the parties belonging to Egypt, Basrah and Koofah should contact 'Ali, Talhah and Az-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them, respectively. They should make an attempt during separate meetings to express to them their viewpoint saying that at no cost did they like the Caliphate of 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him.
Accordingly, they offered their allegiance to them. But each of them rejected their offer. Thereupon the party from Egypt said to 'Ali: "Since 'Abdullaah bin Sa’d, the governor of our province is cruel, we cannot leave Al-Madeenah without getting him deposed." With an eye on their obstinacy and nerve, 'Ali and some other Companions called on the Caliph and advised him to fulfill their demand to stop the trouble and depose 'Abdullaah bin Sa’d as the governor of Egypt. 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan asked: "Who will then be appointed the governor of Egypt?" .
'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, and other Companions took the name of Muhammad bin Abu Bakr who happened to be the supporter of 'Ali. Therefore, the Caliph issued an edict appointing Muhammad bin Abu Bakr, governor of Egypt. After this 'Ali sent the rioters out. However, on the third or fourth day, all the parties joined together and came into Al-Madeenah crying Takbeer (i.e. uttering Allahu Akbar) with the utmost fervor and cordoned off the house of the Caliph. 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, saw them and said: "You had already left this place, what made you come back?" They said: "The Caliph has sent a letter to 'Abdullaah bin Sa’d through his slave to kill us as soon as we reach there. We have seized the letter and have come here with it and along with the parties from Egypt and Koofah who want to share our problem." 'Ali said: "By Allah this is an act of conspiracy and you are ill-intentioned." They replied: "Whatever be the case, we have decided to kill the Caliph, and we seek your assistance in the task." 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, angrily said: "How can I help you?" Hearing this they said: "Why had you then written about this?" 'Ali firmly replied: "I have never written you anything." Hearing this they looked towards each other with amazement. 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, then left Al-Madeenah to stay in Ahjaar-uz-Zayt and the rioters surrounded the house of 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him. Until then, they had followed the Caliph in prayers, but now they gave it up and began to hold others back from standing in prayer behind him.
Witnessing the lurking danger around him, the Caliph wrote letters to various provinces and sought their help, and in some cases the news reached those places on its own. However, virtuous men and the Companions persuaded the people in Egypt, Syria, Koofah and Basrah to rush to the help of the Caliph. The mosque was under siege and after that, the rioters prevented 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, from coming out of his home and cut off the supply of water too. Although 'Uthmaan bin 'Affaan persistently tried to convince the rioters that the letter was not written by him and asked them to produce any witness, but they ignored his plea.
Summarized from: The History of Islam, by: Akbar Shah Najeebadi
To Be concluded