by: Ch. Muhammad Natiq
On this day, June 17, 656, the third Rashidun Caliph Uthman bin Affan was assassinated by the Egyptian rebels after a brief siege of his house in Medina. There are a number of narrations of why the rebels rose against Uthman. One of them is that Uthman bin Affan was accused of practicing nepotism by appointing his Umayyad relatives to important offices in the state. As a result, a rebellion broke out in Kufa, Basra, and Egypt.
When Uthman heard of a deputation coming from Egpyt, Ali bin Abu Talib convinced him to address their grievance. Things were sorted out and the deputation was returning back to Medina. According to Ibn Khaldun, when the deputation was returning to Egpyt, they found a letter, carrying the seal of the Caliph, ordering the execution of the rebel party. After reading this letter, the Egyptians rushed back to Medina to question the caliph about the letter.
When Uthman heard about this letter, he was stunned. He said, “By Allah, I did not write it, I did not order it (to be written), I did not take counsel about it, I did not know about it.” According to the narrations, this fake letter was written by Marwan bin Hakam.
The Egyptians besieged Uthman’s house and asked him, “So who wrote it?”
Uthman responded, “I don’t know.” They said, “A man like you should not govern. Remove yourself from this office as God has removed you from it.”
They broke off the siege of Uthman’s house only when they had killed him. This assassination marked the beginning of the first Islamic civil war.