Al-Waleed b. Uqbah

One of the first examples of Uthman’s mismanagement revolved around his stepbrother, al-Waleed b. Uqbah, whom Uthman made the governor of Kufa – much to the dismay of the people. Al-Waleed was habituated to drinking wine. One day when he was drunk, he came to the mosque to lead the prayers. After finishing two rakats (units of prayer), he turned to the people and asked, “Do you need more prayers?” One of the companions reproached him, “May the Lord never increase you in goodness, and neither the one who sent you as a governor over us (Uthman),” and then he threw a handful of pebbles in the face of al-Waleed. Others in the mosque followed suit, and al-Waleed drunkenly staggered back to the palace as the people stoned him.[136]

A group of Kufans went to Madinah to raise their grievances about al-Waleed b. Uqbah, but Uthman did not believe them and mocked them, so they went to the house of Lady Aishah. Aishah was furious at Uthman and told him, “You abandoned the tradition of the Prophet.”[137] News of this incident spread and a crowd gathered in the Masjid of Madinah. Those who took Lady Aishah’s side and those who took Uthman’s side fought and threw stones at each other. This day marked the first public fighting between Muslims in the city of Madinah since the death of the Prophet and this incident forced Uthman to replace his stepbrother with Sa’ed b. al-Aas as governor of Kufa in order to resolve the matter.

Known for his fusuq (impiety), Sa’ed b. al-Aas was no better than his predecessor and he treated Iraq as the personal property of the Quraysh, and in particular, the Bani Umayyah. One of those who opposed his governorship was Malik al-Ashtar al-Nakhai, but when he brought the issue up in public, more conflict ensued.[138] Others also objected to the practice of Sa’ed b. al-Aas that the public treasury (bayt al-mal) was wide open to the Bani Umayyah. Ali, Zubayr, Talha, Sa’d b. Abdullah, Abd al-Rahman b. Auf, and others came to Uthman to voice their objections to him, but Uthman rebuked them by saying, “This is my family and Allah has enjoined upon me to be kind to them.”[139]


[136] Ansab al-Ashraf, 5:32
[137] Ansab al-Ashraf, 5:34
[138] Ansab al-Ashraf, 5:40; Tarikh al-Tabari, 4:322; Kamil fil-Tarikh, 3:137
[139] Al-Baladri, Ansab al-Ashraf, 5:25; Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharh Nahjul-Balaghah, 3:35


When Power and Piety Collide by Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini