Life of Solitude During the Discords
When Hazrat Uthman (ra) became the Khalifa, he made Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) the governor of Kufa once again. He worked in this capacity for three years, after which, due to some reason, he had a disagreement with Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (ra), who at the time was in-charge of the bait-ul-mal [treasury], as a result of which Hazrat Uthman (ra) discharged him from his duties. After being discharged he adopted a life of solitude in Medina. When disorder and dissension against Hazrat Uthman (ra) began, he remained in solitude.
(Sair-ul-Sahaba, Vol. 2, p. 120)
It is related in one narration that during the time of discord, Hazrat Sa‘d’s (ra) son asked Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) as to what had kept him from going for Jihad. Upon this, Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) replied, “I will not fight until you bring me a sword which can distinguish between a believer and a disbeliever,” because Muslims were now fighting amongst each other. It is also related in another narration that Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) said, “Bring me a sword that has eyes, lips and a tongue and can tell me that so and so is a believer and so and so is a disbeliever; until now, I have only fought against disbelievers.”
(Al-Tabqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 106, Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas, Dar-ul-Kutb al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut 1990)
There is a narration in Sunan al-Tirmidhi which relates that Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) said regarding the discord that began during the time of Hazrat Uthman (ra), “I bear witness that the Holy Prophet (sa) said that surely a time would come when there would be disorder, during which one who remains sitting would be better than the one who stands and one who stands would be better than the one who walks and the one who walks would be better than the one who runs,” meaning one was not to take part in the dissension but to try and stay away from it. Someone asked what they should do if the discord entered their homes. He replied, “Become like the ibn Adam [sons of Adam].”
(Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Abwaab-ul-Fitn, Hadith no. 2194)
With reference to ibn Adam, the Holy Quran states that one should defend themselves, but they should not fight one another with the intent to kill. This incident is mentioned in the Holy Quran and it seems that this is the same example that Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) gave.
While mentioning the great efforts of the Companions (ra) to end the discord that started during the Khilafat of Hazrat Uthman (ra), Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) states:
“Though the Companions (ra) would not be given the opportunity to gather with Hazrat Uthman (ra), they were not heedless to their duties. According to what was pertinent at the time, they had distributed their work into two parts: those who were in their advanced years and elderly and who had moral influence on the masses would spend their time advising others and those who did not have such influence or were younger, they worked for the protection of Hazrat Uthman (ra).” He continues to write, “Amongst them, at the forefront in working to eliminate the discord were Hazrat Ali (ra) and Hazrat Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas (ra), the victor of Persia.”
(Islam Mein Ikhtilafat ka Aghaz, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 4, p. 321)
After Hazrat Uthman (ra), during the Khilafat of Hazrat Ali (ra), Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) remained in solitude. According to one narration, when the dispute between Hazrat Ali(ra) and Amir Muawiyyah (ra) increased, Amir Muawiyyah (ra) wrote letters to three companions to seek their help against Hazrat Ali (ra): Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (ra), Hazrat Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas (ra), and Hazrat Muhammad bin Maslamah (ra). Upon this, all three refused. Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) sent the following couplets to Amir Muawiyyah (ra) [in response]:
مُعَاوِیَ دَاؤُکَ الدَّاءُ الْعَیَاءُ
وَ لَیْسَ لِمَا تَجِیْءُ بِہٖ دَوَاءُ
اَیَدْعُوْنِیْ اَبُوْ حَسَنٍ عَلِیٌّ
فَلَمْ اَرْدُدْ عَلَیْہِ مَا یَشَاءُ
وَ قُلْتُ لَہٗ اَعْطِنِیْ سَیْفًا بَصِیْرًا
تَمِیْزُ بِہِ الْعَدَاوَۃُ وَالْوَلَاءُ
اَتَطْمَعُ فِی الَّذِیْ اَعْیَا عَلِیًّا
عَلٰی مَا قَدْ طَمِعْتَ بِہِ الْعَفَاءُ
لَیَوْمٌ مِنْہُ خَیْرٌ مِّنْکَ حَیًّا
وَ مَیْتًا اَنْتَ لِلْمَرْءِ الْفِدَاءُ
The translation is, “O Muawiyyah! You have a severe disease. There is no cure for your illness. Can you not understand even this much, that Abu Hassan (i.e., Hazrat Ali (ra)) asked me to fight, but I did not listen even to him, and I asked him to give me a sword which can see and can distinguish for me the difference between friend and foe. O Muawiyyah! Do you hope that the one who did not listen to Hazrat Ali’s (ra) request to fight will listen to you? Even though a single day from the life of Hazrat Ali (ra) is better than your entire life and death, yet you call unto me against such a person.” This incident is related in a narration from Usdul Ghabah.
(Usdul Ghaba fI Ma‘rifat al-Sahaba, Vol. 2, p. 455, Sa‘d bin Malik, Dar-ul-Kutb al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut Lebanon)