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The politico-economic state of the Muslims at the days of the caliphs

At the time of the Prophet, the Muslims were inspired with feelings of liberty and freedom by canceling partisanship and racial feelings. The Holy Qur’an addressed the Prophet by saying: (Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your god is one God) 18:110.

Imam Ali (s) said: “Ruling over you means suffering the heaviest burden on my shoulders.”

The Prophet of Islam had implanted in the minds of the nomads of Arabia the concept of unification and equality that, later on, the caliph Umar traveled to Jerusalem by his only camel and if he rode the camel for a distance, he mounted his slave in the next distance and he went on foot.

Many of those principles, which arose from theism and equity, were observed during the time of Abu-Bakr and Umar. They protected and followed these customs because the Prophet's advices passed mouth to mouth by people and virtue and piety were still the cause of superiority and greatness.

At the same time the Islamic victories began to expand and finally the wide government of Islam was established at the last part of Umar's caliphate and consequently valuable spoils and many riches were brought to Medina from every side.

Umar would not permit the great companions to go away from the center of the government for fear that it would be possible for them to make money and go back to their bad habits.

The first caliph (Abu-Bakr), in his will, commanded Umar: “Watch over the companions not to be concerned with money or position, otherwise disputes and struggles will rise among them and consequently the common people will be divided into many groups fanatically and in this case the public power will be weak.”

Umar always tried to keep the companions separate from the worldly ties. Abu-Bakr said to Abd-al-Rahmaan ibn Awf (a very rich influential man): “Now you have received wealth so much that you have got used to silk clothes and some of you are not content with sleeping on woolen stuff.”

But as soon as Uthman attained his aim he ignored these regulations. As a result of his weakness and infirmity of will, many personages and great companions became wealthy as he himself had one hundred and fifty thousand dinars and one million dirhams besides the other properties when he was killed. He even broke his promises with regard to the proposed conditions of the consultative committee. His actions were contrary to the policy of the Prophet and the two previous caliphs. Al-Hakam ibn al-Aass, who had been banished from Medina by the Prophet and the two previous caliphs had not allowed him to come back, was allowed by Uthman to come back.

Uthman’s daughters got married to Marwan and Harith, the sons of al-Hakam. Uthman paid them a lot of money from the treasury (Bayt al-Mal). Al-Waleed ibn Aqaba, an infamous and slanderous man and had been cursed by the Qur’an, was sent to Kufa as the wali. His misdeed and disgrace reached an extent that he led the Morning Prayer in four rak’as 31 instead of two while he was drunk. Also other major cities were ruled by his relatives who were of no principles. 32 The people were displeased with Uthman's officers because they were indifferent to the religious matters and they often did what they liked without fearing any punishment from the government. Consequently a new class of people appeared whose aim was to heap up wealth that required oppressing the weak, and violating the people's rights. Deposing and posting walis depended upon the basis of whim and desires. Anyone of good and peaceful people, who complained or criticized, would receive a harsh reaction from the walis. Corruptions were the order of the day. On the other hand, the hostile behavior of Uthman towards some of the great companions like Abu-Tharr, Ammar ibn Yasir and Abdullah ibn Mas’ud had roused a wave of grief and anger among the Muslims.

Abu-Tharr was the third or the fourth person, who became a Muslim whereupon the idolaters of Koreish tortured him with different kinds of tortures but he remained faithful to God.

The Prophet (s) said: “Among all people Abu-Tharr is like Christ, son of Mary, in self-denial and piety.”

The Prophet also said: “No one under the sky is more truthful than Abu-Tharr.”

Abu-Tharr left Medina for Syria where Mu’awiyah was the wali since the age of the second caliph Umar. Mu’awiyah was a clever man. He had become strong during twenty years of rule. During Uthman's reign he was trying to get the caliphate for himself by all means, whereas he would never think that it was possible at the days of Umar's caliphate. He was gifted with wit and he knew well how to quiet those, who were opposing his aim. He used to loosen the strings of the purse for the worldly persons to make them collaborate with him.

Abu-Tharr was the partisan of Imam Ali (s) and he acquainted the people with the greatness of the members of the Prophet's family and guided them to the rightful path. He often criticized Mu’awiyah and Uthman openly. He mentioned their making money and the other wrongful activities. He could not help speaking out and his critical words against the unjust discrimination and the outrages against justice encouraged the poor to ask for their lost rights.

Mu’awiyah knew that if he gave Abu-Tharr the opportunity, the foundation of his state would collapse. He determined to untie this knot by satisfying his need with a bag full of gold coins.

Abu-Tharr, this generous man, divided the coins among the needy whereas he himself was in need badly.

Finally Mu’awiyah reported Abu-Tharr's doings to Uthman and got permission to send him towards Medina by an unsaddled camel with a hot-tempered slave. When he got to Medina his thighs were badly wounded and injured.

Abu-Tharr would speak harshly to Uthman in Medina too criticizing his conducts. Uthman, who could not endure criticism, exiled this dear and good old man to an arid and lifeless place named al-Rabathah. It was his birthplace. Abu-Tharr, finally, died in an intolerable remote place after suffering too much.

In the meanwhile two other companions of high rank were beaten hard by Uthman's slaves because of their remonstration against his bad treatment.

The people of the big cities of Kufa, Egypt and Basra gathered in Medina to protest against the offending rulers to plead for justice. Their aim was just to improve their situations but regretfully it led to killing and bloodshed. If their complaints had been heard in time, such unexpected events would not have happened.

They had requested Uthman to replace some of his officers. Some of the great companions had given Ammar ibn Yasir a letter so that Ammar would notify the caliph of the truth. When he saw Uthman at his doorway and gave him the letter, he at first received an abrupt answer and then he was mercilessly beaten and injured seriously by Uthman’s slaves that caused hernia to him.


31. Rak'a is a section of the prayer.

32. Murooj ath-Thahab, vol.1 p.p.435.

Adopted from the book : "Imam Ali (a.s.); Sunshine of Civilized Islam" by : "Muhammad Huseyn Tahmasebi"

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