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3. Khulafa Rashidun II - ’Uthman, ‘Ali and al-Hasan

3. Khulafa Rashidun II - ’Uthman, ‘Ali and al-Hasan/head>

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: Khulafa Rashidun II - ’Uthman, ‘Ali and al-Hasan

Author: Abdassamad Clarke

Publication date: 15/09/2012

The Khalifates of ‘Uthmān, ‘Alī and al-Ḥasan

Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the Muslim History Programme of the MFAS. This is the third of 12 sessions which make up the History of the Khalifas module. The lecture will last approximately 40 minutes during which time you should make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture. 

We have to preface this difficult lecture with a note about history. Ordinary history, Muslim or non-Muslim, needs two matters: first, verification of reports so that one knows that a report has reached one through reliable transmitters in a connected fashion from someone who was a witness to that which they report. In this then the biographies of the reporters themselves are important in order to weed out weaknesses of memory or character or intellect, or bias to which they may have been exposed. Then there are disciplines of the historians in ascertaining the likelihood of events given the characters of those involved and the things that they are known to have done and whether it is something that you can expect to happen from the one to whom it is attributed and whether it agrees with what is known of his antecedents and his character or not. That is ordinary history, and many historians, including famous Muslims, do not adhere to it and are content to narrate a good story simply because it is a good story or because it fits their prejudices and the prejudices of their listeners or because they serve various power interests.

The matter is even more serious with the history we looked at last week and what we are looking at today. Some of the people involved are mentioned in the Book of Allah either in a general sense or āyats were revealed specifically about them and various things have been said about them by the Messenger of Allah @. Indeed, in many cases the events themselves were foretold by the Prophet @, such as the martyrdom of ‘Uthmān î while he was on the truth and the emergence of the khawārij and ‘he of the little breast’ Dhū’th-Thudayya. So before embarking it is important to know that, because it will steer us through troubled waters. The absolutely safe position is to say that these were the Family and Companions of the Messenger of Allah @ and we dare not think any evil of them let alone say it. That is not simple piety but you will find it an unerring guide in understanding these difficult events.

Now the truth is that even great Muslim historians make grievous errors in this history, and you have to take some things you read with a pinch of salt because much that is not founded on accurate narrations by unprejudiced narrators has been added in. 

If we were to cite the narrations that we need, we could not cover this course in the time needed, so it will be up to you to read the recommended reading. But a note of caution, even some of our recommended authors sometimes narrate indiscriminately. 



I. Madina

A. Great wealth has flowed into Madina and the rest of Arabia. Indeed in the later period of ‘Uthmān’s khilafa the inflow of wealth was extreme. Among that wealth were slaves, both men and women and the women were to become mothers of many of the next generation. This was a test particularly for immature people who had not known the tarbiya of the Messenger of Allah @. Yet these people are the generation of the Followers of the Companions who are groomed by their companionship with them.

B. Many Companions have died, in the battle of Yamama, and then in the subsequent campaigns in Persia, ash-Sham, Egypt and North Africa, and a great many more died of old age and natural causes. This reduction in the number of those educated by the Messenger of Allah @ was decisive in the later period.

C. Many others have had to move away from Madina with their families in order to become leaders, teachers and fighters. 

D. Those who were still children during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah @ are now adults flexing their muscles and wanting to take part in the life of the community and its governance. 

E. In obedience to the well-known command of the Messenger of Allah @, however, the great majority of the people of Madina have stayed.

F. Madina is now the capital city of an expanding polity that governs a sizeable portion of the earth. But the tension between the city in which much of the Qur’ān was revealed and the Sunnah was adopted and whose inhabitants were taught adab both by Allah through his revelation and the Prophet @ under the watchful gaze of Allah, and the rest of the lands in which a tiny percentage of Arabs who had often not met the Prophet @ ruled enormous populations of former subjects of the Byzantine and Persian empires, was to prove decisive during the khilafa of ‘Uthmān î.

II. Arabia

A. The Arab tribes are now fully engaged in the jihad. Many of them have been settled in Kufa and other cities founded for the fighting men. But this is a volatile mix. Kufa is also full of Persian slaves. The Arabs themselves are not naturally gregarious across the tribal divisions. Kufa is laid out in quarters along tribal lines. This fateful city will play a key role in many future developments both in politics, schism and knowledge.

III. Rome and Persia

A. Persia
The Sassanian Empire has almost completely vanished and the Muslims now administer most of their former regions, a process that is brought to its completion in the period we are studying.

B. Rūm
The Byzantine empire has been chopped in half, the southern shores of the Mediterranean all having fallen or being under the process of falling under Muslim rule.

C. Some of the people of Shām and Persia have become Muslims.

‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān î

Abū Bakr and ‘Umar were the fathers-in-law of the Messenger of Allah @, and ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī were his sons-in-law.

Muhibb ad-Din al-Khatib wrote in his commentary on Defence Against Disaster: How can one not have a good opinion of ‘Uthman when the Messenger of Allah @ testified to the purity of his conduct and that he would have a good final seal? The Prophet @did not speak from caprice. It is only a revelation revealed.” (Sūrat an-Najm) Ibn Hajar said in ‘Uthman’s biography in the Isaba, “It has come by mutawatir transmission that the Messenger of Allah @ gave ‘Uthman the good news of the Garden and that he considered him one of the people of the Garden and testified that he would be a martyr.” The hadith which are related by mutawatir transmission about that from the Messenger of Allah @ are not in doubt.

I. His name and genealogy

A. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan ibn Abi’l-‘Āṣ ibn Umayya ibn ‘Abd Shams ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka‘b ibn Lu’ayy ibn Ghalib al-Qurashi al-Amawi (al-Makki and then later al-Madani). 

B. Name, kunyah and laqab: 

1. His name was ‘Uthmān  

2. His kunyah was Abū ‘Amr in jāhiliyya but when Ruqayya gave birth to a son called ‘Abdullāh he became Abū ‘Abdillāh

3. His laqab (affectionate nickname) was Dhu’n-Nurayn ‘the Possessor of Two Lights’ because he married Ruqayya, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah @ and when she died, during the time of Badr, the Messenger of Allah @ insisted on marrying him to his remaining daughter Umm Kulthūm, who later died in 9AH.

C. He was born six years after the Year of the Elephant according to Ibn Ḥajar.

D. He was one of the very first to accept Islam at the hands of Abū Bakr and some have said he was the fourth Muslim man, after ‘Alī, Zayd and Abū Bakr

II. his merit

A. Qur’ān 

1. He is one of the first outstrippers (as-Sabiqun al-Awwalun) who as a group are mentioned in the Qur’ān.

B. Sīra

1. The first of the Muhajirun, he and his wife emigrated first to Abyssinia and then to Madina

2. One of the ten for whom the Messenger of Allah @ bore witness that they were destined for the Garden

III. Relationship to the Messenger of Allah @ 

1. Although ‘Uthmān was from the tribe of Bani Umayya his mother was Arwa bint Kurayz ibn Rabi‘a ibn Habib ibn ‘Abd Shams (ibn ‘Abd Manaf) and her mother was Umm Hakim al-Bayda’ bint ‘Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim the twin sister of the father of the Messenger of Allah @. The mother of ‘Uthman was the daughter of the paternal aunt of the Prophet @.

2. It is important to understand the meaning of ‘Uthmān being from Bani Umayya, the dominant clan of Quraysh the majority of whom initially rejected Islam and who only came to accept it at the Opening of Makka. Bani Umayya were the power nexus of Quraysh and thus of the Arabs. Yet when in the khilafa of Abū Bakr the Arabs reneged, Quraysh and Thaqīf stood firm.

IV. Posts held

1. He was the ambassador to the Makkans at the time of the Pledge of Riḍwān, which came about because of the rumour that he had been killed, and the Messenger of Allah @ put his own right hand in his left hand as a pledge of allegiance from ‘Uthmān.

2. He was considered competent to give fatwa during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah @. 

V. Personal qualities

A. Joining ties of kinship

1. Ibn Ḥajar said in al-Iṣāba: ‘Alī said: “‘Uthmān was the most given to maintaining ties of kinship among us.” When news of his murder reached her, ‘Ā’ishah said something similar, “They killed him while he was the one who was most given to maintaining ties of kinship among them and the one who had the most fearful awareness (taqwā) of the Lord among them.”
This is a clue as to what happened, for it was precisely this filial treatment of Bani Umayya that offended some.

B. Modesty

1. He was the most modest of men, and it is said the angels were shy of him. Modesty is a part of īmān.

C. Knowledge

1. He memorised the Qur’ān in the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah @.

2. Hadith narrated

a) According to as-Suyūṭī one hundred and forty-six hadith of his have been narrated from the Messenger of Allah @. This is a very small number for someone who led the Muslims for so long. Its explanation? Ibn Sa‘d narrated that ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Hatib said: “I saw none of the companions of the Messenger of Allah @ who, when he narrated a hadith, narrated it more completely and more excellently than ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān, unless it was a man who was in awe of the hadith.” This sparse narration of hadith characterised many of the Companions and the later generations of Madinan ‘ulamā’.

D. Generosity

1. He equipped the Army of Difficulty, in one narration with three hundred camels with their saddles and equipment. Al-Bukhari narrated from Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman as-Sulami that the Messenger of Allah @ said, “Whoever equips the Army of Difficulty (of Tabuk) then there is the Garden for him”. At-Tirmidhi narrated that ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Khabbab said: Then the Messenger of Allah @ came down (from the minbar) saying, ‘There will be nothing at all against ‘Uthman whatever he does after this.’ At-Tirmidhi narrated that Anas said, and al-Hakim, who declared it sahih, narrated that Abd ar-Rahman ibn Samurah said: Uthman came to the Prophet @ with one thousand dinars when he equipped the Army of Difficulty and poured them into his lap. The Messenger of Allah, began turning them over, saying, ‘Nothing Uthman does after this day will harm him,’ twice.

E. Ḥilm – Forbearance and Ṣabr – Steadfastness and Patience

1. Because of his desire not to be the first to raise arms against his own people even those who planned to kill him, he was himself patient and commanded the other Companions to be patient, until in the end he was killed.


A. How he got it

1. ‘Umar appointed the six who remained of the Ten promised the Garden to sit and choose the khalifa from among themselves: Az-Zubayr, Ṭalḥah, ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn ‘Awf, Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ, ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī ô. It is also mentioned that ‘Umar told his son ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar to sit with them but excluded him from becoming khalifa, even though many people considered him worthy of it. Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ, Ṭalḥa and az-Zubayr withdrew their names. ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf excluded himself on the basis that he would then act on behalf of the others in getting the counsel of the Muhajirun, Ansar and others in choosing the khalifa, so there only remained ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī as candidates for the post
As-Suyūṭī said, “Then ‘Abd ar-Rahman sought the counsel of all the notables and saw that most of them were inclined to ‘Uthman.”
Muhibb ad-Din al-Khatib wrote in his commentary on Qadi Abū Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi’s Defence Against Disaster: Shaykh al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyya, wrote in the Minhaj as-Sunna (3:167-172) about the position of ‘Umar when he made it a matter of consultation. In it is fine right guidance as to the agreement, love, and mutual help which existed between the Banu Hashim and the Banu Umayya in the days of the Prophet @, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. ‘Uthman and ‘Ali were closer to each other than the rest of the four were to the two of them. Ibn Taymiyya quoted (3:233-234) the words of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, “People did not agree on any allegiance as they agreed on the allegiance to ‘Uthman.” The Muslims appointed him after they had consulted one another for three days. They agreed and were in harmony and mutual love, all holding together to the rope of Allah.
This harmony led to the outpouring of futūḥ that were to follow.

I. Judgements

A. He united the Muslims on a single muṣḥāf and ordered that any others should be burnt.

1. This is widely considered one of the acts that saved the Qur’ān from becoming as confused for later generations as the scriptures of the People of the Book did. Muhibb ad-Din al-Khatib said: ‘Uthman chose Zayd ibn Thabit in the beginning because he was the one who had preserved the final form in which the Book of Allah was presented to the Messenger @ before his death. ‘Uthman was correct in this. He knew, as all the Companions knew, the place of Ibn Mas‘ud and his knowledge and he confirmed his belief. But ‘Uthman was also right in purging all the other copies, including the copy of Ibn Mas‘ud, because making the script of the mushaf the one with the most perfect form possible is by the consensus of the Companions the greatest of the things which ‘Uthman did.

II. Futūḥ – the Openings to Islam

24 AH Ibn Ḥajar said: It is said that that his [succession to the] khilafa was on Saturday the first of Muharram in 24AH. Az-Zubayr ibn Bakkār said that he was pledged allegiance on Monday one day before the end of Dhu’l-Hijja in 23AH.

Rayy was opened [to Islam], and it had been opened previously and subsequently lost. In it ‘Uthman appointed Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas as governor of Kufa and removed al-Mughira.

25 AH, ‘Uthman removed Sa‘d from Kufa and appointed al-Walid ibn ‘Uqba ibn Abi Mu‘ayt.

26 AH, ‘Uthman enlarged and extended al-Masjid al-Haram, and bought sites (adjoining it) for the enlargement. In the same year Sabur (possibly Shahpur) was opened.

27 AH, Mu‘āwiyah went on a military expedition to Cyprus, taking the armies by sea. ‘Ubadah ibn as-Samit was with them and his wife, Umm Haram bint Milhan al-Ansariyah (of the Ansar). She fell from her riding beast, and died there as a martyr, and the Prophet @ had foretold this army for her. He had supplicated for her that she should be of them. She was buried in Cyprus.

In that same year Arrajan and Darabjird were opened. ‘Uthman removed ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ from Egypt and appointed ‘Abdullah ibn Sa‘d ibn Abi Sarh over it, who led an expedition against northern Africa and opened it [to Islam], both on the plains and in the mountains, and every man in the army received one thousand dinars, and it has also been said, three thousand dinars.

29 AH, Persepolis was opened by force of arms, and Fasa and other places. In that year, ‘Uthman added to the mosque of Madinah, extended it, and rebuilt it with sculpted stone, making its pillars of stone and its roof of teak. He made its length one hundred and sixty cubits and its breadth one hundred and fifty cubits.

30 AH, Jur was opened and many provinces of the land of Khurasan; Naysabur was opened by treaty, and it has been said, by force. Tus and Sarkhas were both opened by treaty, and similarly Marw and Bayhaq. When these extensive provinces were taken, Uthman’s revenues became abundant, and wealth came to him from every direction, until he established treasuries and made provisions to flow abundantly. He would order for a man one hundred thousand purses in each of which there were four thousand ounces (of silver).

31 AH, Abu Sufyān ibn Harb, the father of Mu‘āwiya, died, and also al-Hakam ibn Abi’l-‘Āṣ the paternal uncle of ‘Uthman î.

32 AH, al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the paternal uncle of the Prophet î died, and ‘Uthman led the (funeral) prayer over him. 

‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf died, one of the ten from the first Outstrippers. He had once given away as sadaqa forty thousand [dirhams], and an entire caravan which had come from Syria just as it was. 

‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud al-Hudhali died, one of the four reciters, one of the earliest in Islam, and one of the men of knowledge among the Companions who were famous for the vast extent of their knowledge. 

The wise and abstinent Abu’d-Darda’ al-Khazraji died; he had been appointed to the position of Qadi of Damascus under Mu‘āwiya. 

Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Jinadah al-Ghifari, the truthful in speech, died. 

Zaid ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abd-Rabbihi al-Ansari died, the one who was shown the adhan in a dream. 

‘Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn Rabī‘ah and his force are beaten fighting the Khazar north of the Caucasus at Balanjar. This is perhaps one of the most significant battles in history. Free passage would have allowed the Muslims to have skirted around Constantinople and either more effectively lay siege to it or ignore it and advance further into Europe. When Constantinople itself proved impregnable for so many centuries and when Franks later defeated the Muslims at Tours not far from Paris, then the then limits of the Muslim umma were laid down.

33 AH, al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad died at his land at al-Jurf, and he was carried to Madinah (for burial). 

Abdullah ibn Sa‘d ibn Abi Sarh mounted a military expedition against Abyssinia.

34 AH, the people of Kufa ejected Sa‘īd ibn al-‘Āṣ and were pleased with Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari.

35 AH, there occurred the killing of ‘Uthman.

Ibn Isḥāq said, “He was killed at the end of eleven years, eleven months and twenty-two days from his [succession] to his khilafa, and thus that was on the 22nd of Dhu’l-Hijja in 35AH.” Others said on the 17th, and it has also been said on the 18th, which Aḥmad narrated from Isḥāq ibn aṭ-Ṭabā‘ from Abū Ma‘shar. Az-Zubayr ibn Bakkār said that he was pledged allegiance on Monday one day before the end of Dhu’l-Hijja in 23AH and he was killed on the day of Jumu‘ah eighteen days before the end of Dhu’l-Hijja after ‘Aṣr, and was buried on Saturday between Maghrib and ‘Ishā in Ḥash Kawkab which ‘Uthmān had bought and with which he had enlarged al-Baqī‘. He was killed at the age of eighty-two and some months according to the best known and soundest view, but some said less than that, and Abū Muḥammad ibn Ḥazm claimed that he did not reach eighty.


Ibn Sa‘d: ‘Uthman ruled the khilafah for twelve years. For six years he ruled without people criticising him at all. To Quraysh he was preferable to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, because ‘Umar was severe against them, but when ‘Uthman ruled over them he was gentle with them and made his connections close with them. Then later he … appointed his relatives and family in the last six (years of his rule). He … gave his relatives and family wealth. In that he was interpreting the ‘making close connections (with family)’ which Allah has ordered. He said, ‘Abu Bakr and ‘Umar gave up and abandoned what of that was theirs (by right), and I have taken it and divided it among my relatives,’ but people rejected and repudiated that from him.

His decisions were ijtihad and not personal whim. As to his family and clan, as Ibn Khaldūn notes, Bani Umayya were the core of Quraysh in whom was vested its ‘aṣabiyya, just as the ‘aṣabiyya of the Arabs was vested in Quraysh. They were its natural leaders and after the epoch of prophecy and with the death of the leading Companions, leadership began to return to them. The Prophet @ had appointed many of them to significant positions after the Opening of Makka. After the deaths of many of the Companions, ‘Uthmān turned to his clan for capable rulers and leaders.

A group of people began to emerge in the umma who led the apparently justified complaints process which was then to spiral out of control and lead to the murder of ‘Uthmān.

‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib î

I. His name and genealogy

The name of Abu Talib was ‘Abd Manaf – ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib – and his name was Shayba – ibn Hashim – and his name was ‘Amr – Ibn ‘Abd Manaf – and his name was al-Mughira – ibn Qusayy – and his name was Zaid – ibn Kilab ibn Murra ibn Ka‘b ibn Lu’ayy ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik ibn Nadr ibn Kinana.

Abu Ya‘la narrated that ‘Alī î said, ‘The Messenger of Allah @ was sent (on his prophetic mission) on Monday and I accepted Islam on the Wednesday.’ His age when he accepted Islam was ten years old. It has been said that it was nine, eight, and it has even been said that it was less than that.

A. kunyah – Abu’l-Ḥasan and he was Abū Turāb, a kunya which the Prophet @ gave him

B. Social standing. He was the son of Abū Ṭālib the leader of Banī Hāshim one of the two most prominent clans of Quraysh, second only in political importance to Bani Umayya.

I. Relationship to the Messenger of Allah @

A. He was the cousin of the Messenger of Allah @, who brought him up in his own house as if he was his own son, and he became his son-in-law through marriage to his daughter Fāṭima.

B. He became the brother of the Messenger of Allah @ when he made brotherhood between the Muhājirun and the Anṣār in Madina.

C. He was his khalifa in Madina during the military expedition to Tabuk and he @ said to ‘Alī when he expressed disappointment at being left behind, ‘Are you not pleased to be in the same relation to me as Hārūn was to Mūsā, except that there is no prophet after me?’ i.e. referring to: “We set aside thirty nights for Musa and then completed them with ten, so the appointed time of his Lord was forty nights in all. Mūsā said to his brother Hārūn, ‘Be my khalifa among my people. Keep order and do not follow the way of the corrupters.’” (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 7:142)

II. Personal qualities

Ibn Ḥajar said: His virtues are numerous, so much so that Imām Aḥmad said, “There has not been transmitted about any of the Companions that which has been transmitted about ‘Alī.” Someone else said, “The reason for that was the hatred Banū Umayya had for him, so that anyone of the Companions who had knowledge of his merits would affirm them, and then whenever they [Banu Umayya] wanted to efface them and threatened anyone who narrated anything of his merits, it would only increase them in publicising them.” The extreme shi‘a invented false merits for him but he had no need of them. 
‘Alī said: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family and grant them peace, called me and said, ‘‘Alī, there is in you a resemblance to ‘Isa; the Jews hated him so much that they slandered his mother, and the Christians loved him so much that they gave him a degree which wasn’t his.’

A. Knowledge.

1. Hadith

a) He related five hundred and eighty-six hadith from the Prophet @.

2. Qaḍā’ – Judgement

a) ‘Alī is famous for his abilities as a qaḍī’. Al-Hakim narrated and he declared ṣaḥīḥ that ‘Alī said: The Messenger of Allah @ sent me to the Yemen, so I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, you have sent me, and I a youth, to judge between them, and I don’t know what the nature of judgement is.’ He struck my chest with his hand and said, ‘O Allah, guide his heart and make firm his tongue.’ (‘Alī said), ‘By the One Who split the grain, I have not had any doubt about passing judgement (in a dispute) between two (people).’

3. Inheritance

a) Ibn Mas‘ūd said: The most knowledgeable of the people of Madinah in the laws of inheritance and in judicial decisions is cAli ibn Abi Talib.

4. Arabic grammar

a) Hearing the increasing number of mistakes the people of Kufa were making in their use of Arabic and in their recitation of Qur’ān, he got Abu’l-Aswad ad-Du’ali to author the first work of Arabic grammar giving him its first sentence, reviewing the work he did and suggesting additions and corrections. This is again another one of those steps that saved the Qur’ān for future generations.

B. Bravery

1. He was one of those who undertook single combat before the Battle of Badr, and often held the standard, particularly on the Day of Khaybar. The two Shaykhs narrated that the Messenger of Allah î said on the day of Khaybar, ‘I will give the standard tomorrow to a man at whose hands Allah will give victory, who loves Allah and His Messenger, and whom Allah and His Messenger love’ and he gave it to ‘Alī.

2. With his bravery, it is inconceivable that if the Prophet @ had designated him as his successor, he would have allowed anyone else to take the position of khilafa or that he would have supported such a usurper, collaborated with him and done so with a succession of usurpers for almost thirty years.

C. Fiqh and Ijtihād

1. Throughout the khilafa of ‘Umar in particular, the counsel of ‘Alī ? was pivotal and many judgements of ‘Umar, such as the dating of the calendar, relied on his advice.
Ibn Sa‘d narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, ‘‘Alī is the best of us in judicial decision.’
Ibn Sa‘d narrated that Said ibn al-Musayyab said: Umar ibn al-Khattab used to seek refuge with Allah from every difficult question or case for which there is no Abu Hasan (in which he was not present). 

III. Important deeds before his khilafa

A. The many significant things he was responsible for during the life of the Messenger of Allah @ are too famous, but also too numerous, to mention here.

B. Upon the death of the Messenger of Allah @, he and a group of Banī Hāshim attended to the washing of the body and the burial, when others attended to the direction of the community and saving it from collapsing.

C. Upon the death of the Prophet @, he immediately set about gathering the Qur’ān together, but according to the order of its revelation. In obedience to the command of ‘Uthmān to destroy any other copies of the muṣḥaf than the ‘Uthmānī, he later burnt it. Ibn ‘Abbās said, “If it were to be found there would be much knowledge in it.”

IV. Leadership

A. His appointment

1. Upon the murder of ‘Uthmān î, he became khalifa by the appointment of the remaining Companions who had been at the Battle of Badr, having refused the appointment of the generality of people who came to him after the assassination.

V. Tārīkh – History

Ibn Sa‘d said: 

36 AH ‘Alī was pledged allegiance as khalifa the morning after the killing of ‘Uthman in Madinah. All of the Companion ô who were there pledged allegiance. It is said that Ṭalḥa and az-Zubayr pledged allegiance with displeasure and under coercion. Then they went to Makkah, and ‘Ā’isha ü. They took her and went with her to Basra seeking retaliation for the blood of ‘Uthman. That reached ‘Alī so he went to Iraq and at Basra met Ṭalḥa, az-Zubayr, ‘Ā’isha and whoever was with them, which is known as the Battle of the Camel, and which occurred in Jumada al-Akhira. Ṭalḥa, az-Zubayr and others were killed there, the dead reaching thirteen thousand. ‘Alī spent fifteen nights at Basra and then he went to Kufa. 

37 AH. Then Mu‘āwiya ibn Abi Sufyān and those with him in Syria came out against him. That reached ‘Alī and he went out to meet him. They met at Ṣiffīn in Safar. The fighting continued there for some days, until the people of Syria raised the mushafs calling to that which is in them, which was a device of ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ. People hated the war and they called each other to negotiate and appointed two arbiters. ‘Alī appointed Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari and Mu‘āwiya appointed ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ. They signed a decree between them that they should meet at the beginning of the year at al-Adhruh where they would consider seriously the matter of the ummah. People separated, Mu‘āwiya returning to Syria and ‘Alī to Kufa. 

38 AH. Then (a group known as) the Khawarij (the seceders – literally ‘those who go out’) from among his companions and those with him, went out against him. They said, ‘There is no judgement but (that) of Allah’ [‘Alī said, “A true word by which a falsehood is intended”]1 and they set up a military camp at Harura’. He sent Ibn ‘Abbas to them, who argued with them and convinced them, so that many of them returned. A group of them stayed firm, went to an-Nahrawan and obstructed the roadway. ‘Alī went to them there and killed them at an-Nahrawan, killing Dhu’th-Thudayyah.2

People gathered in al-Adhruh in Sha‘ban of this year, among them Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, Ibn ‘Umar and other Companions. The negotiations broke up in some disarray.

Three men of the Khawarij hastened to act: ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muljam al-Muradi, al-Burk ibn ‘Abdullah at-Tamimi and ‘Amr ibn Bukayr at-Tamimi. They gathered in Makkah and made a covenant with each other that they three would kill: ‘Alī ibn Abi Talib, Mu‘āwiya ibn Abi Sufyān and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ. Ibn Muljam said, ‘I will take ‘Alī for you.’ On the night preceding the Jumuah of the seventeenth of Ramadan of the year 40 AH, ‘Alī woke up before dawn. Then the mu’adhdhin Ibn adh-Dhabbah came in to ‘Alī and said, ‘The prayer.’ ‘Alī went out the door crying out, ‘People, the prayer, the prayer!’ Ibn Muljam stood before him, struck him with the sword, and it hit the top of his forehead reaching the brain. People rushed upon him from every side, and he was held and bound. ‘Alī lingered for the Jumuah and Saturday, and died the night before Sunday. Al-Hasan, al-Hussein and ‘Abdullah ibn Ja‘far washed his body, al-Hasan led the prayer over him, then he was buried in the house of the Amirate in Kufa at night.

All of the above are the words of Ibn Sad. He summarised all of these events and battles excellently well, and he didn’t expand on them greatly as others did. This is more befitting to this occasion. He said @ ‘When my companions are mentioned, restrain yourselves (from speaking)’, and he said, ‘It is sufficient for my Companions (to mention) their killing.’


After the murder of ‘Uthmān î, in the turmoil that followed, ‘Alī î made the decision that to prosecute the murderers and conspirators would be impossible until things had returned to normal. Many of the Companions, az-Zubayr, Ṭalḥa and ‘Ā’ishah refused to accept that and demanded their punishment, which led to the battle of the Camel at Basra. The conspirators themselves had hidden themselves within the army of ‘Alī and actually triggered the fighting at the Battle of the Camel without command from ‘Alī to fight. Then Mu‘āwiya, as the kinsman of ‘Uthmān, also demanded the punishment of the murderers which led to the battle of Ṣiffīn.  

At the institution of negotiations, another group emerged (kharajū) from his army to become the Ḥarūriyya, today known as the khawārij. These were dominated historically by the presence of Bani Tamīm and Banī Ḥanīfa, two tribes of the Najd. 

All of the major Companions engaged in this issue were mujtahids and they had differed strongly and passionately over their ijtihads. The khawārij had also made ijtihad, but there was no valid basis for their’s and so they are only a baseless sect who are astray. A last group who also made ijtihad are often forgotten: those Companions, including Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ and ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar who refused to join any of the groups and refused to fight against other Muslims.

Al-Ḥasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib

I. His name

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abi Talib î Abu Muhammad, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah @.

II. His birth

Al-Ḥasan î was born in the middle of Ramadan in the 3 AH. Hadith have been related from him from the Prophet @.

III. His relationship to the Messenger of Allah @

He was the fifth of the family of the mantle – the Prophet a, ‘Alī, Fāṭimah, al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn – (when the Prophet @ said, ‘O Allah, these are my family.’) in response to the āyat: 

فَمَنْ‏ حَآجَّكَ‏ فِيهِ‏ مِن بَعْدِ‏ مَا جَاءكَ‏ مِنَ‏ الْعِلْمِ‏ فَقُلْ‏ تَعَالَوْاْ‏ نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءنَا وَأَبْنَاءكُمْ‏ وَنِسَاءنَا وَنِسَاءكُمْ‏ وَأَنفُسَنَا وأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ‏ نَبْتَهِلْ‏ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَةَ‏ اللَّهِ‏ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ‏ {61

If anyone argues with you about him after the knowledge that has come to you, say, ‘Come then! Let us summon our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves. Then let us make earnest supplication and call down the curse of Allah upon the liars.’” (Sūrat an-Nisā’ 3:61)

Al-Bukhari narrated that Anas said: No-one more resembled the Prophet @ than al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī.

Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Bakrah said: I heard the Prophet @ upon the minbar, with al-Hasan by his side looking at the people one time and looking at him one time, saying, ‘This son of mine is a chief, and it is likely that through him Allah will make peace between two parties of the Muslims.’

IV. His merits

Al-Hasan î had many virtues: he was lordly, forbearing, possessing tranquillity, gravity and modesty; he was liberally generous, much praised; he disliked seditions and the sword; he married a great deal; and he would bestow upon a single man as much as one hundred thousand.

Al-Hakim narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr said: Al-Hasan performed the Hajj twenty-five times walking, and the high-bred, riding beasts were led along with him.

V. Tārīkh

Al-Hasan î took charge of the khilafa after the death of his father through the pledge of allegiance of the people of Kufa, and he remained in it for six months and some days. Then Mu‘āwiya came out against himand the matter belongs to Allahand so al-Ḥasan sent a message to him to offer to surrender the khilafa to him, on condition that the khilafa should be his after him, that no-one of the people of Madina, al-Hijaz and Iraq should be sought out for revenge or retaliation for anything which had happened in the time of his father, and that he would pay off his debts for him. Mu‘āwiya agreed to what he asked, they concluded a treaty upon that basis, and the prophetic miracle became evident in his words @ ‘Allah will make peace by means of him between two groups of the Muslims.’ 

A. The year of the Jamā‘a 

His abdication from it was in the year 41 AH, in the month of Rabi‘ al-Awwal. It has also been said that it was in Rabi‘ al-Akhir, or Jumada al-Ula. 

A man said to him, ‘Peace be upon you, humiliator of the believers!’ He said, ‘I am not the humiliator of the believers, but I disliked to kill you for the sovereignty.’

Then al-Ḥasan moved from Kufa to Madina and resided there.


We conclude with al-Ḥasan î because it is he who offers and cedes the khilafa to Mu‘āwiya  î thus ensuring continuity and succession.

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. Recommended reading includes Hajja Aisha Bewley’s two introductions to The Men of Madina Vols.1-2, being her translation of the Ṭabaqāt of Ibn Sa‘d, which you will also find extremely useful for next week’s lecture whose title is Bani Umayya, part I. Thank you for your attention. Assalamu alaykum.

1 كلمة حق أريد بها باطل

2 Literally, ‘the possessor of the little breast’, a man who had been foretold to be among the Khawarij by the Prophet @.