AL-TANZIL
The
Revelation
 
[26:192]


WITNESS TO THE TRUTH

Uthman bin Affan (ra): Third Rightly Guided Caliph

The family of Uthman
Uthman belonged to the Umayyad section of the Quraish. He was the son of Affan, who was the son of Abi Al A'as, who was the son of Umayyah, who was the son of Abd Shams, who was the son Abd Manaf.

The Holy Prophet was the son of Abdullah, who was the son of Abdul Muttalib, who was the son of Hashim, who was the son of Abd Manaf.

Abd Manaf was the common ancestor of the Holy Prophet as well as Uthman. Abd Shams and Hashim were the two sons of Abd Manaf. The Holy Prophet was descended from Hashim, while Uthman was a descendant of Abd Shams. The Holy Prophet was fourth in descent from Abd Manaf, while Uthman was fifth in descent from Abd Manaf. Affan the father of Uthman was thus a second cousin of the Holy Prophet, and Uthman was a nephew of the Holy Prophet.

On the mother's side Uthman's relationship with the Holy Prophet was still closer. His mother was Urwa. She was the daughter of Kariz, who was the son of Rabeah,who was the son of Habib who was the son of Abd Shams.

Urwa's mother was Umm Hakim who was a sister of the Holy Prophet's father. Urwa was thus a first cousin of the Holy Prophet. On this basis, Uthman was a nephew of the Holy Prophet both on the side of the father as well as the mother.

Personal character of Uthman

Uthman was conspicuous for his strong moral character. He was handsome and wealthy, and many women were attracted to him, but he never touched a woman beyond wedlock. In the immoral society of Makkah in the age of ignorance, he led a chaste life. He never touched wine. He did not gamble, and took no part in the frivolities which formed the pastime of the youth of Makkah.

He was a good trader and made ample money out of trade, but he never resorted to unfair practices in trade. He was scrupulously honest, and believed in fair deal. He amassed considerable wealth through honest means. On account of his wealth he came to be known as "Ghan)". In spite of being a millionaire, his way of life was not that of a capitalist. He was a man of simple habits, and did not indulge in a luxurious way of life. He used a greater part of his wealth in helping those in distress. He had a flair for social work. He supported many poor families. He awarded liberal stipends to widows and orphans who had none to support them. He was soft spoken and kind hearted. He had a kind word for every one who came across him. He patronized his relatives, and gave liberal aid to such relatives who were in straitened circumstances.

He enjoyed the friendship of Abu Bakr. Even in the pre-Islamic period he profited from the company of the Holy Prophet. He was much impressed with the personality of the Holy Prophet, and always sought his counsel and guidance. He did not worship the idols in the Kaaba. He had little faith in the superstitious practices in which the people of Makkah indulged. He felt that those who worshipped the idols merely groped in the dark. In his heart of hearts he felt that these lifeless idols could not be expected to control the destinies of mankind. He felt that the center of power lay elsewhere. He had the inner conviction that some day the Truth would dawn in some manifest form.

He was an embodiment of modesty. In spite of his wealth there was no sense of pride in him. He never boasted of anything. He never tried to thrust his opinion on others. He believed in action rather than talk. There was a particular decorum and dignity about him. He was very particular that by his behavior he did not offend anybody. On account of his endearing qualities of head and heart, he enjoyed great popularity among the people of Makkah.

Travels abroad

As a trader, Uthman traveled frequently to Yemen, Syria, Abyssinia and elsewhere. In the year 610, Uthman went as usual with a trading caravan to Syria. This year the business of Uthman had been particularly brisk, and he had earned a huge profit. On the return journey the caravan halted for the night at a way side station between Zarqa and Ma'an in Syria. As Uthman lay on his bed beneath the star-studded sky, he felt impressed with the vastness and dimensions of space. He thought that the universe with such vast dimensions could not be without a master. In his heart of hearts he felt that some transcendent Being would surely be the master of the universe complex. While he was thus lost in thoughts, and was half-awake and half asleep, he heard a voice, "O, you who are asleep, wake up, for in Makkah the Prophet Ahmad has appeared". Uthman looked around, but there was no body to be seen. The voice that Uthman had heard was not a human voice: it appeared to come from outer space.

Conversion to Islam

When Uthman came to Makkah, he came to know that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had declared his Prophetic mission. Uthman called on Abu Bakr, and they talked long about Muhammad (peace be on him). Uthman told Abu Bakr of the voice that he had heard while travelling in Syria. Abu Bakr told Uthman that he had taken the oath of allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), and he advised Uthman to do likewise, for verily Muhammad (peace be on him) was the Apostle of Truth. Abu Bakr took Uthman to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet welcomed Uthman, and told him of his experience in Mt. Hira, the visitation of the angel Gabriel, and the call to prophethood. Uthman felt thrilled on hearing this account. He told the Holy Prophet of the voice that he had heard in the course of his journey in Syria telling of the advent of a Prophet at Makkah. Uthman said that he had full faith in the Holy Prophet and believed in his mission. The Holy Prophet stretched his hand. Uthman grasped it in reverence, and declared "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet". After Abu Bakr, Uthman was the second person to be converted to Islam.

Reaction to the conversion of Uthman

The conversion of Uthman to Islam led to a violent reaction. There was already outstanding rivalry between the Umayyah and the Hashimite sections of the Quraish, and the Umayyads could not tolerate that a young man of the house of the Umayyah should owe allegiance to the prophethood of a scion of the house of Hashim. Affan the father of Uthman was dead by this time, and Hakam b Al A'as, an uncle of Uthman was the head of the family. Hakam was a neighbor of the Holy Prophet, and when he came to know that his nephew had been converted to Islam he was infuriated, and he took Uthman to task. He bound Uthman with a cord, and wanted him to repudiate his allegiance to the Holy Prophet. When Urwa the mother of Uthman came to know of his conversion to Islam, she was very bitter, and exhorted Uthman to recant and return to the faith of his forefathers. The stepfather of Uthman, Upba b Abi Muheet whom Urwa the mother of Uthman had married after the death of Affan was in the forefront in the opposition to Islam. Uthman was warned that unless he recanted from his faith in Islam, he would have to suffer serious consequences. Uthman remained firm in his resolve. He told all concerned that he was prepared to face the consequences but he could not abandon Islam which was the way of Truth.

Triumph of Uthman

In this ordeal, Uthman remained steadfast and firm. He did not waver for a moment in his faith in Islam. On the other hand, the greater the pressure on him, the greater became his faith in Islam. Seeing that nothing could deter Uthman from his faith in Islam, his uncle left him to himself. His mother gave expression to her annoyance by enforcing a boycott against him. In this ordeal two persons in the family supported the cause of Uthman. Out of these one was Saadi, a maternal aunt of Uthman, and a sister of Urwa. The other was Umm Kulsum, a step-sister of Uthman, a daughter of Urwa from Uqba bin Abi Muheet.

Saadi was a poetess and she composed some verses praising the stand of Uthman. She said:
"Allah called the noble souled Uthman to the right way,And he swore allegiance to Muhammad, the Prophet of God. Verily, Allah guides those whom He likes to the Truth".

Umm Kulsum in spite of the strong opposition of her parents accepted Islam. The Holy Prophet married her to his adopted son Zaid b Harith. She thus became a daughter-in-law of the Holy Prophet.

Marriage with Ruqayya

Because of his conversion to Islam, Uthman had to face another crisis. His wives refused to accept Islam, and Uthman separated himself from his wives. That was a matter of great grief for Uthman, but so great was his love for Islam that he felt no sacrifice too great in the cause of Islam. He felt distressed at the break up of his family life, but Islam was certainly more valuable for him.
The Holy Prophet of Islam was much impressed with the sacrifice that Uthman had made in the cause of Islam, and he married his second daughter Ruqayya to Uthman. In the days of ignorance Ruqayya had been engaged to her cousin Utba son of Abu Lahb, an uncle of the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet declared his mission Abu Lahb became hostile to him, and under his instructions Utba repudiated his engagement to the daughter of the Holy Prophet. Uthman and Ruqayya made a unique pair. Uthman was the most beautiful person among men, and Ruqayya was the most beautiful person among the women of Makkah.

On the marriage of Uthman and Ruqayya, Saadi the maternal aunt of Uthman composed some verses. She said:

"Uthman the noble souled became a Muslim; And Muhammad the Prophet of Islam married him to his daughter; Thus, the moon and the sun were united; O son of Banu Hashim, to you I pay my tribute; You are undoubtedly the Messenger of Allah, Sent for the guidance of mankind".

In his book History of the Caliphs, Jalaluddin Suynti tells an anecdote highlighting the comeliness of the Uthman-Ruqayya pair. It is related that one day the Apostle of God sent Usama b Zaid to the house of Uthman with a dish of meat. Usama was then a child of six or seven years. He says that some time he looked at Ruqayya and some time at Uthman, and wondered at their beauty. Usama relates that on return from the house of Uthman, the Holy Prophet asked him, "Have you ever seen a more comely pair than Uthman and Ruqayya"? Usama said "Never, O Apostle of God".

Migration to Abyssinia

After marriage with Ruqayya, Uthman felt most happy. It was a happy union, and Uthman and Ruqayya were lost in the love of each other. That led to jealousies. The wives of Uthman felt very bitter at their separation from Uthman. The mother of Uthman and his other relatives felt unhappy at his marriage to a daughter of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Uthman and Ruqayya felt that the atmosphere in Makkah was not congenial. Uthman had already some business contacts in Abyssinia, and after a good deal of deliberation and consultation with the Holy Prophet, Uthman and Ruqayya decided to migrate to Abyssinia. On their departure the Holy Prophet prayed for their safety and protection. He said that after the Prophet Lot, Uthman was the first to migrate with his family in the way of Allah. After Uthman and his wife had left for Abyssinia, some other Muslims also left for Abyssinia. The Negus of Abyssinia welcomed the emigrants, and provided them with all necessary facilities for their stay in his dominions. The Quraish sent a delegation to Abyssinia to prevail upon the Negus to expel the Muslims from his State. The Negus heard the Quraish as well as the Muslims, and refused to oblige the Quraish by expelling the Muslims. The Quraish delegation saw Uthman, and prevailed upon him to return to Makkah, but they failed in their object.

For long the Holy Prophet got no news about Uthman and Ruqayya, and he got worried about their welfare. A Quraish woman came from Abyssinia to Makkah. The Holy Prophet inquired from her about the welfare of Uthman and Ruqayya. She said that she had seen Ruqayya riding a pony and Uthman walking by her side. She added that Uthman and Ruqayya were doing well in Abyssinia.

In Abyssinia, Uthman followed the profession of a trader. He worked hard, and although there were some difficulties at the outset, these were soon overcome, and the business of Uthman flourished. A son was born to Uthman and Ruqayya in Abyssinia. They named him Abdullah. Henceforward Uthman came to be known by the surname of Abu Abdullah. A colony of the Muslims had sprung up in Abyssinia. Uthman was most popular with the Muslims, and he provided liberal aid to such Muslims who were poor or in distressed circumstances.

Return to Makkah

After two years, a news spread among the Muslims in Abyssinia that the Quraish of Makkah had accepted Islam. That made Uthman, Ruqayya, and some other Muslims return to Makkah. When these Muslims reached Makkah it transpired that the news about the Quraish having accepted Islam was false. Some of the Muslims who had come from Abyssinia returned there, but Uthman and Ruqayya decided to stay in Makkah.

In Makkah, Uthman had to start his business afresh. The contacts that he had established in Abyssinia stood in good stead and the business of Uthman prospered. Although the number of the Muslims steadily grew, there was no relaxation in the persecution of the Muslims by the Quraish. The family of Uthman continued their pressure, but Uthman's faith in Islam was too firm to know of any wavering. In the persecution of the Muslims, Uqba b Abi Muheet, the step-father of Uthman (the man his mother had married) was in the forefront. One day Uqba put his sheet round the neck of the Holy Prophet, while he was praying in the Kaaba, and tried to strangle him. Abu Bakr and Uthman rushed to the aid of the Holy Prophet, and frustrated the evil design of Uqba.

In Makkah, Uthman spent most of his time in the company of the Holy Prophet. He liberally helped such Muslims who were poor. He liberated some Muslim slaves.

When the Holy Prophet and the members of the Banu Hashim were shut up in the valley outside Makkah as a consequence of social boycott by the Quraish, Uthman took steps to ensure that there was no break in the supply of provisions to the besieged persons. Uthman exercised his influence on the youth among the Quraish to create an opinion in favor of the lifting of the boycott.
When after the lifting of the boycott, the Holy Prophet had his experience of the "Miraj" (ascension), there were some persons who were skeptical about it. Abu Bakr and Uthman, however, believed in letter as well as in spirit what the Holy Prophet said.

When in 622 C.E., the Holy Prophet advised the Muslims to migrate to Yathrib, Uthman migrated to Yathrib with his wife Ruqayya. Uthman was among the few Muslims who undertook two migrations in the cause of Allah, once to Abyssinia and for the second time to Yathrib

Dhun-Nurain

To Uthman belongs the unique honor of having married two daughters of the Holy Prophet, one after the other. For this rare distinction he was called "Dhun-Nurain" the possessor of two lights.

Ruqayya


After his conversion to Islam, Uthman was married by the Holy Prophet to his second daughter Ruqayya. Uthman migrated with Ruqayya to Abyssinia. He returned from Abyssinia and then migrated with his wife to Yathrib in 622. In Yathrib renamed Madina, Uthman carried on his business as a merchant. His business flourished, and Uthman and Ruqayya lived on happily for sometime in Madina. Such happiness was however short-lived. In 624 C.E. Ruqayya fell ill and died when the Holy Prophet and the Muslims were fighting with the Quraish at the battlefield of Badr. The news of the Muslim victory of Badr was received at Madina when the good lady was being buried. The Holy Prophet could not attend the funeral of Ruqayya.

Hafsa

Hafsa was the daughter of Umar. She was married to Khunays. Khunays was wounded in the battle of Uhud. The wounds proved fatal and he died soon after. Hafsa became a widow at a young age, and Umar felt much worried about her marriage.

After the death of Ruqayya, Uthman felt much distressed and disconsolate. Umar saw Uthman and dropped hints for offering Hafsa to him in marriage. Uthman did not respond favorably to the proposal. He said that after the death of Ruqayya he was too upset to think of another marriage.
Umar saw the Holy Prophet, and complained against the conduct of Uthman. The Holy Prophet consoled Umar and said,"Umar, do not worry. Hafsa would get a better husband than Uthman, and Uthman would get a better wife than Hafsa".

Umm Kulthum

Towards the close of the year 625, the Holy Prophet married Hafsa, and Uthman was married to Umm Kulthum the third daughter of the Holy Prophet. While still a child she was engaged to Utaibah a son of Abu Lahb, an uncle of the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet declared his mission, Abu Lahb opposed him, and under his instructions his son Utaibah repudiated his engagement to Umm Kulthum.

When the Holy Prophet married Umm Kulthum to Uthman, he said to her, "Verily, your husband resembles most among men your forefather Abraham, and your father Muhammad". Ibn Asakir has recorded on the authority of lbn Umar that the Holy Prophet said," I find a resemblance in Uthman to my forefather Abraham".

Uthman's union with Umm Kulthum was as happy as that of the union between Uthman and Ruqayya. Unfortunately such happiness was short lived, and Umm Kulthum died in 630 barely six years after her marriage. Umm Kulthum bore no child. Ruqayya left a son Abdullah, but he died two years after the death of his mother.

Other marriages of Uthman

After the death of Umm Kulthum; Uthman once again became a victim of despair and disconsolation. Touched by the sadness of Uthman, the Holy Prophet asked the people:
"Give your daughters in marriage to Uthman. If I had a third daughter, I would assuredly give her in marriage to him. I have never wedded any daughter to him save under inspiration."
Ibn Asakir records on the authority of Ali that the Holy Prophet said to Uthman: "If I had forty daughters, I would have wedded them with you one after the other, until no one of them was left".
Thereafter Uthman married a number of wives, but the memories of his union with Ruqayya and Umm Kulthum always remained fresh in his mind. He felt sorry that he could not enjoy the company of the daughters of the Holy Prophet for long, and he had been deprived of the honor of being the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet.

Migration to Madina

In 622 C.E. Uthman migrated with his wife Ruqayya to Madina. They were in the third batch of the Muslims who migrated to Madina. Their companions on the migration included Akasha bin Muhsin, Zainab b Jahsh, and her sisters Hamna and Umm Habiba. On arrival in Madina Uthman stayed with Aus b Thabit Ansari of the Najjar tribe. After some time Uthman purchased a house of his own and shifted there.

Migration to Madina

In 622 C.E. Uthman migrated with his wife Ruqayya to Madina. They were in the third batch of the Muslims who migrated to Madina. Their companions on the migration included Akasha bin Muhsin, Zainab b Jahsh, and her sisters Hamna and Umm Habiba. On arrival in Madina Uthman stayed with Aus b Thabit Ansari of the Najjar tribe. After some time Uthman purchased a house of his own and shifted there.

Generosity of Uthman

Uthman already well known for his generosity stepped up his beneficent activities. He financed the project for the construction of the Prophet's mosque in Madina.
In Madina, the Muslims faced the problem of water supply. Most of the wells in Madina had brackish water supply. There was only one well of sweet water in the town namely Beer Rauma. It belonged to a Jew, and he did not allow free access to the Muslims. One day in the Prophet's mosque at Madina the Muslims brought their difficulty to the notice of the Holy Prophet. Thereupon addressing the congregation the Holy Prophet said, "O ye Muslims, who among you would like to purchase the Beer Rauma for the Muslims in return for a home in paradise. Uthman purchased the well for ten thousand dirhams and dedicated it to the free use of the Muslims. Pleased with this beneficent act of Uthman, the Holy Prophet gave him the tiding of paradise in the world to come.

Death of Ruqayya

Uthman, Ruqayya and their son Abdullah adjusted themselves to the new surroundings. Uthman devoted most of his time to his business, and whatever time he could spare, he spent it in the company of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet called frequently at their house to inquire about their welfare. The Holy Prophet had great liking for the young Abdullah, and often played with him.

The happiness of the family was, however, short lived. The climate of Makkah was dry but the climate of Madina was damp. That adversely affected the health of the immigrants. During the first year of their migration many Muslims from Makkah suffered from fever. In the second year of the migration small pox broke out in Madina. In 624 C.E., Ruqayya suffered from malaria and then caught small pox. No remedy availed her, and her malady grew worse day by day.
On the occasion of the battle of Badr, Ruqayya lay on the sick bed. Uthman offered to join the battle. The Holy Prophet made him stay at Madina as his vicegerent, and also to look after the ailing Ruqayya. The Holy Prophet assured him that he would have the reward of participating in the battle, and would have his share in the booty captured from the enemy.

Ruqayya died while the Holy Prophet was still at Badr. When the news of the victory of Badr was brought to Madina, the good lady Ruqayya was being buried. The Holy Prophet could not attend her funeral.

In the battle of Badr the Quraish suffered a serious defeat. Seventy men of the Quraish were killed, and about seventy of them were taken as prisoners. Among those taken captive was Uqba 1' Abi Muheet, the man, Uthman's mother had married. Uqba had been in the forefront in his hostility to the Holy Prophet and Islam. While most of the other captives were released on ransom, Uqba on account of his crimes, was ordered by the Holy Prophet to be killed. Uqba wanted Uthman to intercede in his behalf, but Uthman refused to interfere on the ground that his crimes were too heinous to be forgiven. When Uqba was being led to execution, he asked the Holy Prophet,"Who will take care of my children" ? The Holy Prophet said, "Hell would take care of you and your children who die in disbelief".

The battle of Uhud

The battle of Uhud was fought in 625 C.E. It was really an extension of the battle of Badr. This time the Quraish of Makkah came with a force of 3,000 men to avenge their defeat at Badr. To meet them the Muslims could raise a force of 1,000 persons only., and even out of these three hundred persons under Abdullah b Ubayy a hypocrite withdrew at the last moment thus leaving seven hundred persons only in face the hostile Quraish.

The Holy Prophet arranged his force in battle array, and posted a contingent of archers to guard a vulnerable passage in the rear. The archers were instructed that they were not to leave their positions without further orders.

The Quraish charged with full force, but the Muslims held fast. Then in a counter attack the Muslims broke the enemy's line, and the Quraish fell back. At this stage the contingent of the Muslim archers left their positions in order to plunder the camp of the retreating Quraish. Khalid b Walid who was a non-Muslim at the time, and was fighting on the side of the Quraish rushed forward with his contingent, and occupied the positions vacated by the Muslim archers. That fumed the tide of the battle. The Quraish rallied, and launched an attack on the Muslims both from the front as well as the rear. In the confusion that followed many Muslims were martyred. Even the Holy Prophet was wounded, and he fell in a pit where many of his followers lay dead. That led to the rumor that the Holy Prophet was dead. At this critical stage some of the Muslims left the battlefield thinking that if the Holy Prophet was dead, everything was lost, and nothing was left to fight about. Uthman was one of the persons who left the battlefield.

This conduct of the Muslims who had left the battlefield was not approved by Allah. Allah, however, forgave them as their lapse was not deliberate and was based on misunderstanding. A revelation to the Holy Prophet said:

"Behold you were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a single glance at any one, and the Apostle in your rear was calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for the booty that had escaped you, and for the ill that had befallen you. For Alla1 is well aware of what you do".'

The revelation continued:

"Those who turned back on the day the two hosts met, it was Satan who caused them to fail, but Allah has blotted out their fault, for Allah is oft forgiving, mostforbearing".
Uthman felt sorry that at that crucial stage, he had lost the equilibrium of his mind, and his conduct had not been approved by Allah. He, however, felt consoled that Allah in His Mercy had forgiven him, and blotted out his lapse. When Uthman saw the Holy Prophet later, and expressed his regrets the Holy Prophet asked him to cheer up for Allah had forgiven him for his lapse. That made Uthman make the resolve that in other expeditions he would not lag behind.

Post-Uhud period

In the post-Uhud period, Uthman felt very sad and disconsolate. Uthman felt disconsolate at the passing away of Ruqayya. He also felt remorseful at his lapse on the occasion of the battle of Uhud. The Holy Prophet felt for Uthman, and married his daughter Umm Kulthum to him. Uthman felt happy at this honor. Umm Kulthum filled the vacuum that had been created due to the death of Ruqayya. Ruaqayya had left a son Abdullah, and Umm Kulsum showered the affection of a mother on him. The Holy Prophet visited the house of Uthman frequently. That was a source of great satisfaction for Uthman.

A year after the battle of Uhud, Abdullah died. Uthman had great love for him, and he was intensely grieved at his death. The Holy Prophet led the funeral prayer. He consoled Uthman, and advised him that as a true Muslim he should resign himself to the will of God.

In the battle of the ditch, Uthman was in charge of a sector. The enemy made several attempts to cross the ditch in this sector. The vigilance of Uthman and his contingent frustrated the designs of the enemy.

After the battle of the ditch when a campaign was undertaken against the Jews of Banu Qainuqa, Uthman was in the forefront of the action. When the Jews were taken captive, and the question of the disposal of the slaves became a problem, Uthman resolved the issue by purchasing all the slaves, and depositing their price in the Baitul Mall Such of these slaves who accepted Islam were liberated by Uthman in the name of God. It is reliably reported that Uthman used to liberate a slave every Friday.

Performance of the pilgrimage

Early in 628 C.E., the Holy Prophet decided to proceed to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage. He was accompanied by 1,400 companions including Uthman. When the Quraish of Makkah came to know that the Muslims were coming to Makkah, they sent Khalid and Ikramah bin Abu Jahl with two hundred horsemen to intercept the Muslims and prevent their advance to Makkah. Finding the main route to Makkah barred, the Muslims turned aside, and took an alternative unfrequented route to Makkah. The way led through rough rocks and ravines. After a weary march, the Muslims reached Hudaibiyah on the lower side of Makkah within the sacred precincts.

Urwah b Masud

The Muslims encamped at Hudaibiyah, and here Urwa b Masud came to see the Holy Prophet on behalf of the Quraish. He talked in diplomatic terms and tried to create the impression that the Quraish were strong and would not permit the Muslims to visit Makkah except by agreement. He insinuated that at the time of the crisis, the companions of the Holy Prophet were likely to leave him. Thereupon the companions of the Holy Prophet said, "May God curse you; how dare you think that we will abandon the Holy Prophet. Rest assured we will sacrifice our lives for him". The discussions with Urwa proved inconclusive, but when he returned to the Quraish, he reported about the Holy Prophet and the Muslims in the followine terms:

"O people of the Quraish, I have seen kings but, by God, I have never seen a king as I have seen Muhammad amongst his followers. If he makes his ablutions they would not let the water fall on the ground; if a hair of his body falls they pick it up. They will not surrender him for anything in any case, do what you may".

Khirash b Umayyah

On the departure of Urwa, the Holy Prophet sent Khirash b Umayyah as an emissary to the Quraish. When he arrived in Makkah he was mar-treated by the Quraish, and the camel on which he rode was hamstrung. In turn the Quraish sent a detachment with the object of killing the Holy Prophet, and some of the prominent Muslims. These persons were taken captive by the Muslims. The companions wanted to kill them, but the Holy Prophet forbade the shedding of blood within the precincts of the sacred territory.

Uthman b Affan

Thereafter the Holy Prophet decided to send another emissary to the Quraish to negotiate terms of agreement with them. For such mission, a person had to be chosen who commanded influence with the Quraish. The choice fell on Uthman b Affan. Uthman b Affan accompanied by ten companions left for Makkah. Uthman went to Aban b Saeed b Aas an old friend. He welcomed Uthman, and gave him the necessary protection. Thereafter Uthman saw the principal Quraish leaders, and explained to them that the Muslims were on a mission of peace; their object was merely to perform the pilgrimage; and they wanted to extend the hand of friendship to the Quraish. The Quraish leaders said that if he wanted to perform the pilgrimage he was free to do so, but they could not allow the Muslims an entry in Makkah until an agreement was reached with them. Uthman said that he could not perform the pilgrimage unless the Holy Prophet performed the pilgrimage first. They said that they would send another emissary to the Muslim camp to arrive at some agreement with the Muslims. The Quraish took some time in nominating their emissary and during this period they detained Uthman at Makkah.

Baiy'at-ur-Ridwanl

When there was a delay in the returning of Uthman from Makkah, a rumor spread in the Muslim camp that Uthman had been killed by the Quraish of Makkah. That considerably upset the Muslims. At this juncture the Holy Prophet asked his followers to make a pledge with him to fight in the way of Allah to the bitter end. All the Muslims responded enthusiastically to the call. The Holy Prophet sat under a tree and all the Muslims in the camp took the pledge one by one. After every body had taken the pledge, the Holy Prophet placed his own right hand on his left hand, and took the pledge on behalf of Uthman. Uthman thus secured the unique honor that the Holy Prophet himself took the pledge on his behalf. About his ceremony of oath taking at Hudaibiyah, it was revealed in the Holy Quran:

"Surely, Allah was pleased with the believers when they took the pledge under the tree. Allah knew what was in their hearts. He sent down tranquillity upon them, and rewarded them with near victory".

In view of Allah's pleasure at the pledge taking., the pledge came to be known as "Baiy'at-ur-Ridwan".
Uthman returned from Makkah in the company of an emissary from the Quraish. On coming to know that in his absence the Muslims in the camp had taken the pledge, and the Holy Prophet had taken the pledge on his behalf, he took the pledge in person as well.

The treaty of Hudaibiyah

The Quraish sent Suhail b Amr as their emissary. After considerable discussion an agreement was arrived at, and this came to be known as the Hudaibiyah pact. According to the pact there was to be truce between the Quraish and the Muslims for a period of ten years. Each party was free to make its own alliances, but they were not to resort to war. Any person who deserted the Muslims and sought refuge with the Quraish was not to be returned, but any person who escaped from the Quraish to the Muslims was to be returned to the Quraish. It was stipulated that the Muslims were to return to Madina that year without performing the pilgrimage, but they could come to Makkah the following year for performing the pilgrimage when the Quraish would vacate the city for them for three days.

After the pact had been signed, the Muslims sacrificed the animals they had brought with them; broke the camp and started on the return journey to Madina.

Reaction to the Hudaibiyah pact

On the fact of it the Hudaibiyah pact appeared to be loaded in favor of the Quraish. Some of the Muslims, particularly Umar felt dissatisfied with the terms of the pact and gave expression to their dissatisfaction. Uthman, however, felt satisfied with the terms of the agreement. He was confident that the pact though apparently in favor of the Quraish would ultimately turn out to be against them. He said that the Quraish were fast losing their will to resist Islam, and when in pursuance of the pact the Muslims and the Quraish would come in contact, most of the Quraish were likely to accept Islam. While on the way to Madina, Allah revealed to the Holy Prophet that the Hudaibiyah pact was indeed a victory for the Muslims, as it would work to their advantage and the disadvantage of the Quraish. When the Holy Prophet told of these tidings to Umar and his other followers, all of them felt happy.

The assessment of Uthman also proved correct, for, in the period following the Hudaibiyah pact, many Quraish including such stalwarts as Khalid b Walid and Amr b Al Aas accepted Islam.

Extension of the Prophet's mosque

One of the consequences of the treaty of Hudaibiyah was that the Arab tribes had to ally themselves with the Quraish of Makkah or the Muslims of Madina. The Arab tribes who were not favorably inclined to the Quraish sought alliance with the Muslims. Most of these tribes accepted Islam. In view of large scale conversions that took place in the post Hudaibiyah period, the Prophet's mosque at Madina became too small to accommodate all the Muslims who came there to pray, and the need for extension came to be felt. The Holy Prophet appealed to his followers to finance the project for the extension of the mosque. Uthman financed the entire project, and it was no longer necessary for the other Muslims to make any contribution. Immensely pleased with the conduct of Uthman, the Holy Prophet gave him the tidings of paradise in the next world. On this occasion, Ali is said to have composed the following verses in the honor of Uthman

"There's one that labors night and day,
To build us mosques of brick and clay,
And one who turns from dust away.
There's no life, but life of next world
O God have mercy on the Muhajreen and the Ansar".

Back to Madina

After the conquest of Makkah, Madina rose in importance. Heretofore it was a city of the Muslims whose sphere of influence was limited. After the conquest of Makkah, Madina became the capital of Arabia. Delegations started pouring in into Madina from all parts of Arabia, and the pace of conversion to Islam received a tremendous acceleration.

To Uthman the conquest of Makkah and Taif were of particular significance. He had considerable property at Makkah and Taif and he could now profitably develop it. He was also able to set up sub-offices of his business concern at Makkah and Taif.

The joy of Uthman at the conquest of Makkah and Taif was overshadowed by his grief at the death of his wife Umm Kulthum the third daughter of the Holy Prophet. Umm Kulthum died soon after the conquest of Makkah. The Holy Prophet led the funeral prayer. The Holy Prophet asked the Muslims to marry their daughters to Uthman. He said that if he had forty daughters, he would have married them to Uthman one after the other.

Passing away of the Holy Prophet'

On return to Madina, the Holy Prophet fell sick. From this sickness he did not recover and ultimately passed away to the great grief and distress of the Muslims. When it was reported that the Holy Prophet had died, most of the Muslims did not believe in such news. Even men like Umar said,"Who says that the Holy Prophet is dead? Moses-like he has gone to have an interview with Allah, and would soon return to us". Uthman also shared this view. It was Abu Bakr who broke this spell. Addressing the people gathered in the mosque he said, "Listen to me, O men ! know that Muhammad being mortal is dead, but the God of Muhammad is alive and will live for ever".
On hearing the sad news of the passing away of the Holy Prophet Uthman sat stunned in a corner of the mosque lost in thoughts. Umar passed by him and offered him salutation, but Uthman did not notice him. Later both Abu Bakr and Umar came to Uthman. Abu Bakr inquired of Uthman as to why he had not responded to the salutation of Umar. Uthman said that he had not noticed him as he was lost in thought. Abu Bakr inquired as to what was the thought wherein he had been lost. Uthman said that he felt worried that the Holy Prophet had passed away, and yet they had not asked him as to how they could be safe from the snares of the world and the devil? Abu Bakr said, "Do not worry, I made the necessary inquire from the Holy Prophet. He had declared that if one has complete faith that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet, he will remain safe from the snares of the world and the devil". Throughout his life Uthman had complete faith that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Prophet, and as such although he was a rich man he remained free from the snares of the world and the devil.

Abu Bakr

Uthman had very close and intimate friendly relations with Abu Bakr. It was, as a matter of fact, at the instance of Abu Bakr that Uthman had accepted Islam. Accordingly when Abu Bakr was elected as the Caliph, Uthman was the first person after Umar to offer allegiance to Abu Bakr. Uthman served in the contingent that was sent by Abu Bakr to Syria under the command of Usama. During the apostasy wars, Uthman remained at Madina to act as Abu Bakr's Adviser.
On his death bed Abu Bakr dictated his will about his successor to Uthman. Abu Bakr dictated in order to avoid the conflict among the Muslims in the matter of his successor, he proposed to make the nomination himself. Thereafter Abu Bakr fell into a swoon, and Uthman wrote of his own accord that the person to be nominated as his successor was to be Umar. When Abu Bakr recovered from the swoon he wanted Uthman to read what he had written. Uthman read the passage including the nomination of Umar. Abu Bakr praised Uthman for his foresight in reading what was in the mind of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr held that fearing that he (Abu Bakr) might not recover from the swoon, Uthman did the right thing in inserting the name of Umar for that was indeed his intention. After the death of Abu Bakr, Uthman was the first person to offer allegiance to Umar.

Umar

During the caliphate of Umar, Uthman remained at Madina as his Adviser. Umar did not allow the Companions including Uthman to leave Madina, nor did he employ them for the purposes of the State. Umar is reported to have said that he did not employ such eminent persons to high offices because of their virtues. He said that he did not appoint them to high offices lest for any lapse they might lose the eminence that they enjoyed.

During the time of Umar considerable wealth flowed into the public treasury. Heretofore the practice was that all that was received in the treasury was immediately distributed among the people. Uthman advised that instead of such distribution, some amount should be kept in the treasury as reserve for future needs. This advice was accepted by Umar.

In the time of Umar, a controversy arose about the land in conquered lands. The army was of the view that all lands in conquered territories should be distributed among the soldiers of the conquering army. Another view was that lands should remain with the original owners, and the lands whereof the owners left the country should be declared state property. Uthman supported the latter view and this view was ultimately accepted.

At the time of the conquest of Jerusalem the Christians desired that Umar should himself come to Jerusalem to accept the surrender of the city. Uthman was of the view that it was not necessary for the Caliph of the Muslims to go to Jerusalem and that the enemy when defeated would of its own accord surrender the city. There was much force in the view-point of Uthman but in order to win the good will of the Christians, Umar decided to go to Jerusalem to accept the surrender of the city.

In the time of Umar, a severe famine broke out in the country and there was acute shortage of food supply. At that time a large caravan belonging to Uthman, carrying large supplies of food grains arrived in Madina. Traders rushed to the house of Uthman, and tried to prevail upon him to sell the grain to them at profit. Uthman wanted them to indicate the profit they would allow him. The highest bid they could offer was cent per cent profit. Uthman said that he would not sell his goods at a profit less than ten times the original price. The traders said that they could not afford him profit to that extent and that no body could do that. Uthman said that he had already an offer for ten times profit. "Who had made such offer", inquired the traders. Uthman said that God had assured him of ten times profit. Thereafter Uthman distributed the entire stock of food grains among the poor free of cost and expected ten times profit from God.

When Umar died, looking at the dead face of Umar, Uthman said, "Out of us who can equal Umar". That was a great tribute to Umar.

The dilemma of Umar

When Umar lay on his death bed, the question that vexed him was whether he should or should not nominate his successor. If he did not nominate a successor he would be following the precedent set by the Holy Prophet. On the other hand if he nominated a successor he would be following the precedent of Abu Bakr.

As he weighed the claims of various persons around him he could not make up his mind to nominate any of them as his successor. He sighed and said whom should he nominate as his successor. He thought that if Abu Ubaidah had been alive, he could have nominated him as his successor, for the Holy Prophet had regarded him as the trustee of the Muslim community. In the alternative if Salam the liberated slave of Abu Hudhaifa had been alive he would have appointed him as his successor, for according to the assessment of the Holy Prophet, among the Muslims he loved Allah most.

Nomination of Abu Bakr's son Abdullah

Some one suggested to Umar that he should nominate his son Abdullah as his successor. That evoked a violent reaction from Umar. He said:

"May God curse you for tempting me to nepotism by nominating my son, when I am going to meet my Creator. The caliphate is an affair affecting the entire Muslim community, and I would not like to make it an hereditary affair in my family. I swear by God that I never coveted the caliphate for myself. Therefore what I never coveted for myself, I would not like to pass on to my family. If the caliphate is something good, then by holding the office for the last ten years, I have had the blessing for my family. If the caliphate is bad, then why should I pass on this bad thing to my family? God is my witness that during my caliphate I showed no favor to my family members. On the other hand, I was more hard with them than with the other Muslims. I have always tried to fulfil the obligation of the office under the shadow of the fear lest I may at any stage falter in the performance of my duties. I do not know whether I have succeeded in my purpose, but I will be happy if my achievements and failures just balance so that I am neither rewarded nor punished for holding the office of the caliphate. Remember ye men that if I nominate a successor, a better man than me, namely Abu Bakr also nominated a successor. And again if I do not nominate a successor, remember that the best of men, namely the Holy Prophet of Islam did not nominate a successor. Whatever the case Allah Himself would protect the interests of Islam and the Muslim community".

Umar's dream


As Umar lay thinking about the issue of nominating a successor he fell asleep. In the dream he saw that a man who had laid out the garden was plucking all the ripe and unripe fruit, and gathering it on the ground. He interpreted this dream to mean that he should name the eligible candidates and then leave them to choose one of themselves as the Caliph. Umar accordingly constituted a Committee of six persons to choose the next Caliph out of themselves.

This Committee comprised: Ali b Abu Talib Uthman b Affan Abdur Rahman b Auf Saad b Abi Waqas Zubair b Awwam Talha b Ubaidullah All these persons were among the most eminent companions of the Holy Prophet, whom he had given the tidings of paradise in their lifetime.

The Committee in session

When the Committee was constituted, Talha was out of Madina. The remaining five members met immediately. It was soon found that there were strong differences among the members over the question of choosing a leader, and loud voices were raised projecting the differences. When the dying Caliph heard of these voices he ordered that the Committee should adjourn and meet after his death. He directed that after his death the Committee should reach the final decision within three days, and the next Caliph should take the oath of office on the fourth day. Umar's son Abdullah was to sit with the Committee as Adviser or Moderator, but he was not to have a vote, nor was he to be eligible for election as the Caliph. If Talha joined the Committee within this period, he was to take part in the deliberations, but if he did not return to Madina within this period, the other members of the Committee could proceed to take the decision. If there was a tie among the members, Abdul Rahman b Auf was to have the casting vote. Pending the election of the Caliph, Suhaib was to lead the prayers. When the Caliph was elected, the prayers were to be led by him.

Testament for his successor

Thereafter, Umar dictated a testament for his successor. It provided:
"I enjoin upon you to have trust and faith in God, He Who has no peer.
Be kind and generous to the Muhajreen and the Ansar. Those out of them who are good, be good to them. Those who are bad overlook their lapses.

Be good to the people of the conquered lands. They are the outer line of our defense, and they are the target of the anger and distress of the enemies. They contribute to our revenues. They should be taxed only on their surplus wealth.

Be gracious to the Bedouins as they are the backbone of the Arab nation.
I instruct you to be good to the Dhimmis, for they are your responsibility. Do not tax them beyond their capacity. Ensure that they pay "Jizya" without undue inconvenience. Fear God, and in all that you do, keep His pleasure in view. In the matter of people fear God, and in the matter of Allah do not be afraid of the people. With regard to the people, I enjoin upon you to administer justice with an even hand. See that all the legitimate requirements of people are met. Be concerned for their welfare. Ensure the safety of their person and property.

See that the frontiers of our dominions are not violated. Take steps to guard the frontiers. In the matter of administration do not prefer the rich to the poor. Be hard against those who violate the law. Show them no mercy. Do not rest content until you have brought the malcreants to book. Treat all the people as equal. Be a pillar of strength for those who are weak and oppressed. Those who are strong but do wrong, make them pay for their wrong doings. In the distribution of booty and other matters, be above nepotism. Let not considerations of relationship or selfish interest weigh with you. The Satan is at large; it will tempt you. Rise above all temptations and perform your duties in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. Get guidance from the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Freely consult the wise men around you. Apply your own mind to difficult cases and seek light from God. Be simple in your living and your habits. Lead life as a model Muslim. As you are the leader of the Muslims, justify your leadership by being the best among them. May God bless you".

Death of Umar and after

When Umar died, both Ali and Uthman wanted to lead the funeral prayer. Abdul Rahman b Auf, however, advised that as both of them were candidates for the office of the Caliph they should not lead such prayer. The funeral prayers were accordingly led by Suhaib, the man who had been authoriZed by Umar to lead the ordinary prayers. Umar was put in the grave by all the five members of the Selection Committee constituted by him.

Immediately after the burial of Umar, the Selection Committee constituted by him to nominate his successor met in session. As Talha b Ubaidullah was still out of Madinah, the meeting of the Committee was attended by five persons only. The Committee had a long session for two days, but it was unable to arrive at any decision. The differences among the parties were acute, and no reconciliation appeared to be in sight.

Dream of Abdul Rahman b Auf

The instructions of Umar were that the Selection Committee should choose the successor within three days, and he should assume office on the fourth day. As two days passed away without arriving at a decision, the members felt anxious that the time was running fast, and still no solution to the problem appeared to be in sight.

On the night after the second day, Abdul Rahman b Auf had a dream; He saw that in a wilderness a strong and handsome camel appeared and the wilderness was converted into a rich green pasture on which it fell, and then moved away.

Thereafter another camel came. It tarried in the pasture for a short time, and then following in the footsteps of the first camel moved away. Then the third camel. It tarried in the pasture for some time, and then thereafter looking right and left, it also moved away following the footsteps of the first two camels. Then came the fourth camel. It limped and could walk with difficulty. Then a strong hot wind began to blow from the desert, and the pasture became parched. The camel was unable to feed itself, and then limping it moved away in the same direction which the previous three camels had left.

Abdul Rahman b Auf interpreted this dream to signify that the first camel represented the Holy Prophet who gave mankind the message of Islam, and thereby spearheaded a great revolution. The second camel represented Abu Bakr who followed in the footsteps of the Master, but whose rule was short. The third camel represented Umar whose rule was comparatively longer. The fourth camel represented the successor of Umar. The dream signified that the rule of such successor was to end in some disaster.

That made Abdul Rahman b Auf feel that he should not covet the office for himself. On the third day addressing the members of the Selection Committee, Abdul Rahman b Auf observed that if they went on debating and wrangling in that way, differences among them would grow in dimensions, and they would fail in the objective set for them. He suggested that in order to narrow down the choice, some of them should withdraw from the contest voluntarily. Thereupon he declared that in the interests of the Muslim community, he withdrew from the contest of his freewill. The choice now came to be restricted to the remaining four members, but still no headway was made. There were some further deliberations,

and thereafter it was decided that as Abdul Rahman b Auf had retired voluntarily from the contest and had given proof of his selflessness, he might choose the Caliph out of the remaining four members. Abdul Rahman accepted the onerous task, and undertook that in arriving at his decision he would be just and impartial, and would be guided solely by the interests of the Muslim community. He added that he would try to ascertain public opinion, and his choice would be in accord with such opinion.

Choice of Abdul Rahman b Auf

Commissioned to make the selection Abdul Rahman b Auf began his task by interviewing each member of the Committee separately. Interviewing Ali he asked him, "Suppose I do not choose you; in that case whom would you like me to choose? " Ali said, "In that case you may choose Uthman". Uthman was interviewed next, and he was asked the question, "If you are not selected who should be the next choice?" Uthman said, "In that case the obvious choice would be Ali". When Zubair b Awamm was put the same question he said, "Ali or Uthman. When Saad b Abi Waqas waS interviewed he said that he would like Abdul Rahman b Auf to be the Caliph. Abdul Rahman said that as he had withdrawn from the contest his choice should be from among the other four members. Saad b Abl Waqas said that in that case, Uthman would be his choice. Analyzing these answers, Abdul Rahman b Auf came to the conclusion that Uthman commanded the majority of votes among the members of the selection committee.

Thereafter Abdul Rahman b Auf proceeded to consult the other leaders of public opinion in Madina. Some Bedouiin chiefs had arrived in Madina to participate in the funeral ceremonies of Umar. Abdul Rahman b Auf consulted these men as well. Obviously the choice lay between Ali and Uthman. Out of these Ali was still young being less than fifty, while Uthman was old being nearly seventy. According to the Arab traditions of respect for old age the common men expressed themselves in favor of Uthman, the older among the two candidates.

Umar had been a hard task master. He was not only harsh with the people, he was harsh even with himself and his family members. The people now wanted a change, and they favored Uthman who was well known for his mildness, kindness and generosity. The people could not forget that Uthman was a rich man, and he had used a greater part of his wealth for public welfare. He had purchased the Be'er Rauma well from the Jews for the purpose of supplying water to the Muslims. He had financed the project for the extension of the Prophet's mosque. He had financed a greater part of the expedition to Tabuk. In the time of famine he had donated large stocks of grain for public distribution. He used to liberate a slave every month.

After meeting the public, Abdul Rahman b Auf arrived at the conclusion that an overwhelming majority of the people favored the election of Uthman. Thereafter Abdul Rahman had another round of meeting with Ali and Uthman. Addressing Ali he asked, "If you are elected as the Caliph do you undertake to follow the Quran and the Sunnah, and the traditions set by your predecessors?" Ali said that he would follow the Quran and the Sunnah, but in the matter of the traditions of his predecessors he would follow them as far as possible. and would exercise his own judgment in each case. When the same question was put to Uthman, he gave an unconditional undertaking. That made Abdul Rahman b Auf give his verdict in favor of Uthman.

Election of Uthman

On the fourth day after the death of Umar, the Muslims gathered in the Prophet's mosque at Madina. Abdul Rahman b Auf took the stage, and recounted the efforts that he had made in arriving at a decision with regard to the successor to Umar. He observed that the choice lay between two candidates namely Ali and Uthman. He dwelt at length on the merits of both the candidates, and observed that after consulting the people at large he had arrived at the conclusion that the majority of the people favored the succession of Uthman. He declared on solemn oath that in arriving at the decision he had not been moved by any extraneous consideration. He had taken the decision in the sole interest of the Muslim community. Addressing Ali he said that he should not feel annoyed at the decision. He was still young, and there would be further opportunities for him to come to power. He appealed to him to accept the decision in the interests of Muslim solidarity. Thereafter Abdul Rahman b Auf said to Uthman "Stretch forth your hand so that I may take the oath of allegiance to you". Uthman stretched his hand, and Abdul Rahman b Auf took the oath of allegiance to him as the Caliph. Thereafter all the Muslims gathered in the mosque took the oath of allegiance to Uthman. Ali felt dissatisfied, but he too took the oath of allegiance to Uthman. Thus Uthman was elected as the third Caliph. That was the first day of the year 24 A.H.
 

Inaugural address of Uthman

After election, Uthman took his stand on the pulpit and addressed the congregation. He glorified God and His Prophet, and then talked of the transitoriness of the world. He wanted the people to do good deeds which might stand them in good stead in the next world. He said that he was conscious of his limitations but he would do his best to serve Islam and the people. Then overwhelmed by emotions, Uthman broke down and could not complete his address. He said:
"O people, it is not easy to manage a new horse. If God willing I live, there will be several other occasions to talk to you. Right now I cannot address you. You know that I am not good at making public speeches".

Reaction to the election of Uthman

The reaction to the election of Uthman as the Caliph was on the whole favorable. After the stem rule of Umar, (he people welcomed the mild rule of Uthman.
In his book History of the Caliphs, Suyuti observes that Ibn Sa'ad and Al Hakim record on the authority of Ibn Mas'ud that he said:

"When Uthman was sworn allegiance, we placed the best among us in authority, and we were not remiss". It is recorded that addressing Abdul Rahman b Auf, Mughira b Sha'aba said, "Abdul Rahman, by offering allegiance to Uthman you have taken the correct decision. We would not have agreed to any other decision".

Farzuq, the poet composed the following verses to mark the occasion:
"Suhaib led the prayers for three days,
And then handed over the custody of the Muslim community to Uthman b Affan;
It's the caliphate which Abu Bakr had entrusted to Umar;
And which has now been passed on to Uthman. Verily, all of them were rightly guided persons, Who were very dear to the Prophet of Islam".

Assassination of Umar, a conspiracy?

When Umar was stabbed by a Persian slave Firoz, a question arose whether this was the act of a single disgruntled person or whether it was the result of a conspiracy. Abdur Rahman b Abu Bakr reported that the previous day, he had seen Firoz, Jafina and 1-lurmuzan conferring together. Seeing him the three men were confused, and a double edged dagger fell from the hands of one of them. It was alleged that that was the dagger with which Umar had been stabbed.

Ubaidullah's orgy of murder

When Ubaidullah a son of Umar heard the report of Abdur Rahman, he took his sword, and rushed out of his house to take the revenge for the assassination of his father. After stabbing Umar, Firoz had killed himself. Ubaidullah first went to the house of Firoz, and killed his wife and daughter. He then sought Jafina. He was a Christian of Hirah, who had been brought to Madina after the conquest of Iraq. He was employed in teaching the art of writing to the Arab students. Ubaidullah killed Jafina. Thereafter Ubaidullah went to Hurmuzan and killed him likewise. Hurmrzan was a Persian General who had been taken captive in one of the Persian campaigns. He accepted Islam and settled in Madina. Umar had sanctioned a stipend for him. When the Muslims came to know that in a fit of frenzy, Ubaidullah had killed four persons, they apprehended him and confined him to his house.

The trial of Ubaidullah

After assuming office as the Caliph, the first case that Uthman was to try was the case of Ubaidullah. Apart from Abdur Rahman b Abu Bakr no other person supported the theory of any conspiracy. Adequate evidence was thus not forthcoming to support the theory of the involvement of Jafina and Hurmuzan in the alleged conspiracy. Again, even if it was established that these persons had entered into a conspiracy, there was no justification for the killing of the wife and daughter of Firoz. Even if there were strong prima facie grounds for holding that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy, the State alone could have tried the accused and condemned them only when they had offered their defense, and the case was established against them. Ubaidullah had no right or justification to take the law in his own hand and murder four persons without affording them an opportunity for defense. That was the Arab practice of the days of ignorance which was in violation of the injunctions of Islam.

The verdict of Uthman

The case was tried by Uthman with the help of a jury. The jury included Ali, Amr b Al A'as and some prominent Companions. Ali was of the opinion that the dictates of justice demanded that Ubaidullah should be executed for taking the law in his hand, and murdering four citizens without cause. Ali was emphatically of the view that in Islam, law was no respecter of persons, and Ubaidullah could not be saved from the penalty of law merely on the ground that he was the son of the late Caliph.

Amr b Al A'as and other companions were of the view that they lost Umar only yesterday, and it could not be that today his son should be killed. They said that they owed to the memory of Umar that his son should be protected.

Uthman pondered over the matter. He said that as the murdered person had left no heir, he was their heir, and in this capacity it was open to him to accept blood money for the murdered persons. His verdict was that Ubaidullah should pay a thousand diners as blood money, for each murdered person.

Ubaidullah was not in a position to pay the blood money. Uthman paid the blood money out of his own pocket and credited it into the Baitul Mal.

Reaction to the verdict of Uthman

On the whole the people were satisfied with the verdict of Uthman, and they praised him for his generosity in paying the blood money out of his own pocket. There were, however, a few persons who found fault with his judgment, and insisted that Ubaidullah should have been executed. In a poem the poet Ziyad b Labid said:

"O Uthman, there is no doubt that after the assassination of Hurmuzan, Ubaidullah had no right to live. You have unjustly pardoned him although you had no right to do so".
Uthman summoned Ziyad, and explained to him the justification for his verdict. Thereafter Ziyad composed some verses praising Uthman for his verdict, and for his generosity in paying the blood money out of his pocket.

Directives of Uthman

On assuming office, Uthman issued a number of directives. These directives provided the guidelines for the functionaries of the State, and set out the policies of Uthman in specific terms. All concerned were required to implement such directives in letter as well as in spirit.

Directive for the general publics

Uthman issued the following directive for the general public:
"Know that whatever you have attained is due to Islam and following the injunctions of the Holy Prophet. If you are lost in the world you will betray the objective of your life. Follow Islam faithfully and do not introduce any innovations. See that the abundance of wealth does not divert you from the ideals of Islam. The extension of your dominions has brought various peoples within your fold. See that this does not lead to any differences among you. Remain united. Hold fast to the rope of God. May God bless you."

Sermons of Uthman

Some sermons of Uthman have been preserved in history. We refer to some of these sermons with a view to illustrating the beliefs of Uthman. These sermons speak of Uthman's unshakable faith in Islam.

His role In one of the sermons, Uthman defined his role as Caliph. He said:
"My role is to follow what has already been laid down. I do not intend to be an innovator. I declare that I will faithfully follow the Quran and the Sunnah. In matters not covered by the Quran and the Sunnah, I promise that I will follow all such things which command consensus before my caliphate. If in any matter, no consensus has been reached already, I will follow the way of the good with your consultation. I assure you that I will restrain my hand from you, till that is the dictate of the law "

The World is a tarrying place

In another sermon Uthman said:
"O people, this world is merely a tarrying place. You are marching towards your goal. Do as many good deeds as you can, so that when death overtakes you, there is much of good in your account. Learn from the lives of those who are dead. O people you consider yourself to be safe within your houses. Beware that you are in the latter part of your life. Therefore do good deeds during whatever life is left for you. No body knows when the call of death may come. You should spend your life in such a way that when you die, you die as a true Muslim. Take lesson from death, and be constantly engaged in good works. It is a matter of wonder that man believes in death, and yet laughs. O men instead of running after the world run for the hereafter. In the Holy Quran Allah asked the Holy Prophet to explain to the people the simile of the world. The life is like water which descends from the heavens. In the hereafter there will be Punishment as well as reward. Worry for the world darkens the soul, and anxiety for the hereafter brightens the soul. Know that the world is not everlasting; the hereafter is ever lasting. Therefore prefer the hereafter to this world. If your eyes can have true vision then every day is doomsday."

Unity

Exhorting the people to maintain unity, Uthman said:
"Remain united. Let there be no dissension in your ranks. You were the enemies of one another. God blessed you with Islam, and you began to love one another, and became brothers. Maintain your unity. Do not break up into sections. Allah is happy with your unity, and exhorts you to refrain from disunity."

The people of Madina

Stressing the importance of the people of Madina in the Islamic community, Uthman said:
"O the people of Madina you are the backbone of Islam. If you stray from the right path, the other Muslims will also stray. Therefore maintain the highest standards of integrity. Beware that if I come to know of any dereliction on your part I will exile you. In this respect no excuse will be entertained. You know that in the previous regimes those who strayed were put to death. I will overlook your petty lapses, but such conduct which is volatile of Islam will not be tolerated. Things are happening which I do not approve either for you or for myself. I will have to be very cautious. You should also be careful. Reform your tongue. When the tongue is restrained the heart is purified. When Allah sees His men making efforts to reform He gets pleased. He becomes wroth when He sees the people bent on mischief. Man should therefore try to reform himself."

The last sermon

According to Tabari, the last sermon of Uthman was as follows:
"The truth of the matter is that you are in this world merely to prepare for the next world. God never intended that you should be attracted by the world. This world will not last; the hereafter alone will be eternal. Therefore you should not be proud of anything in this world. Beware that you do not become forgetful of the next world. Prefer the hereafter to this world, for you have to ultimately return to God. Always fear God. This fear will serve you as a shield against His punishment. Be afraid of the punishment of God. Remain united, and be not divided into sections. Remember that you were the enemies of one another, and under Islam, God made you like brothers. See that this unity is maintained at all costs."

Promotion of the purposes of Islam

Uthman was a great Muslim. He followed the injunctions of Islam rigorously in letter as well as in spirit. He spent a greater part of the night in prayers. He knew the Holy Quran by heart, and would complete the recitation of the whole of the Holy Quran during a night. He held that the primary and basic responsibility of the Caliph was to protect and safeguard Islam, and take steps to promote its purposes and values. During his caliphate Uthman took several measures with a view to promoting the purposes of Islam.

Recension of the Holy Quran

To Uthman belongs the honor of undertaking the measure of the recension of the Holy Quran, and uniting the Muslim community on a standard text of the Holy Quran for all times.
The Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet in parts extending over a period of twenty-three years. Whenever the Holy Prophet received a revelation, he would dictate it to some person who would record it on some piece of leather, date skin or even bones and stones. The principal scribe of the Holy Prophet was Zaid b Thabit. Uthman also served as the scribe occasionally. Many companions committed the Holy Quran to heart and Uthman was one of them.

Many Huffuz (those who had learnt the Holy Quran by heart) died in the battle of Yamama during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. It was felt that it was necessary that the Holy Quran should be compiled in a book form for the guidance of the people. A compilation was thus prepared, and it was called Mashaf. In the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr this compilation was kept in the custody of Ayesha. In the time of the caliphate of Umar this compilation was kept in the custody of Hafsa, daughter of Umar. and a wife of the Holy Prophet. In the time of Uthman, Hudhaifa who had been to different parts of the Muslim dominions came to Madina, and reported that the people of different regions had different readings of the Holy Quran. The people of Homs held that their reading of the Holy Quran was correct as they had learnt it from Miqdad an eminent companion. The men of Basra held that their reading was correct as they had learnt it from Abu Musa Ashiari. In Kufa, the people claimed superiority for their reading as they had learnt it from Abdullah bin Masud an authority on the subject. There were thus divergent readings of the Holy Quran. It was stressed that unless some attempt was made to unify the text, that was likely to be a cause of split among the people.

The question was considered by the Majlis-i-Shura, and it was decided that an authoritative standardized text should be compiled and no divergence should be permitted from the standard text. Uthman appointed a Committee comprising: Zaid b Thabit, Abdullah b Zubair, Saeed b Al 'Aas , and Abdur Rahman b Al Harith. This Committee was commissioned to prepare an authorized text. Copies of the Holy Quran in use in various parts of the dominions were collected and compared with the copy in the custody of Hafsa which had been compiled in the time of Abu Bakr. The Committee worked hard. All the discrepancies were reconciled, and an authorized standard edition was prepared. Uthman checked the compilation himself and finally approved it. Copies of this edition were prepared and supplied to all parts of the dominions. All previous copies in use in the various parts of the Muslim dominions were collected and burnt.

This was a measure of great importance and significance, and thereby Uthman did a great service to the cause of Islam. The books revealed to all previous prophets had been corrupted by the followers of the respective prophets. But for the measure undertaken by Uthman, the same fate would have befallen the Holy Quran. Uthman deserves the gratitude of the Muslims by this single service in preserving the Holy Quran in its original form free from any corruption. It is surprising that some of the critics of Uthman made this measure a matter of criticism against Uthman. They urged that the burning of the copies of the Holy Quran with a view to introducing a uniform text was a sacrilege. This criticism is entirely misconceived. The burning of the unauthorized texts could by no stretch of imagination be called a sacrilege. It was on the other hand a most pious act inasmuch as it united the Muslim community on an authoritative and standard text for all times
Zakat on horses and slaves

According to the Shariah, the Muslims were enjoined to pay Zakat on their capital assets. In the time of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr, and Umar, no Zakat was levied on horses and slaves. Uthman reviewed the position and ordered that Zakat should be levied on horses and slaves as well. This measure was approved by the people in general, but some of the persons hostile to Uthman made it a subject of criticism. They argued that as Zakat had not been levied on horses and slaves by the Holy Prophet, Uthman had violated the Sunnah by levying such Zakat.

During the earlier period there was a great dearth of horses. Most of the horses had been killed in early battles. In the time of Uthman things had changed. With the expansion of the Muslim dominions the supply of horses had considerably improved, and the population of horses had increased. The position regarding slaves was similar. With the expansion of the Muslim dominions the number of slaves had considerably increased, and the people owning slaves were deriving much advantage from them. Indeed the slaves were great assets for their masters, and they played an important role in economy.

As a matter of fact Zakat is leviable on all capital assets. In the time of the Holy Prophet horses and slaves had not acquired the dimensions of capital assets and as such these were not assessed to Zakat. As in the time of Uthman these things had become definite capital assets, Uthman subjected them to the levy of Zakat. Such levy was in accord with the spirit of Islam, and was in no way repugnant thereto. Where any articles were not subjected to Zakat because of special circumstances, and these articles were later subjected to the levy as the special circumstances necessitating exemption no longer obtained, such levy was not repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. The levy would have been repugnant if the Holy Prophet had ordered the levy, and such levy was withdrawn. The levy of Zakat on horses and slaves was based on Uthman's Ijtihad. and his Iihhad was correct and in public interest.

In the time of Uthman, a question arose whether Zakat should be assessed by the person concerned or it should be assessed by the State functionaries. Uthman's view was that Zakat was not a tax; it was a species of religious obligation and was a matter between the person concerned and God. Uthman, therefore, held that while the Zakat should be assessed by the person concerned himself, it should be collected by the state functionaries.

Prayers on the occasion of the Hajj

During the first year of his caliphate, Uthman suffered from blood hemorrhage of the nose. Many other persons suffered likewise and in the Arab annals this year came to be known as the year of the hemorrhage. Uthman was not able to perform the Hajj during the first year of his office, but in subsequent years he performed the Hajj and presided at the Hajj functions.

When offering the prayers on the occasion of the Hajj between Mina and Mt Arafat, the Holy Prophet had shortened the prayers from four rakaats to two rakaats. Thereafter Abu Bakr and Umar while presiding at the Hajj functions followed the precedent set up by the Holy Prophet, and offered only two rakaats in prayers. In the early years of- his caliphate, Uthman followed the same precedent, but in the year 649 C.E. Uthman offered the full prayers in four rakaats.

Uthman was criticized by hostile circles for making this departure from the precedent set up by the Holy Prophet. Even such companions like Abdur Rahman b Auf and Ali questioned Uthman about the advisability of such innovation. Uthman argued that as a matter of fact the prayer comprised four rakaats, and it could be shortened to two rakaats under special circumstances. When the Holy Prophet shortened the prayer, he had settled at Madina, and had come to Makkah as a visitor. Uthman said that his case was different. He had married in Makkah and had a house there. He also had some property at Taif. As such when he came to Makkah his status was not that of a mere visitor. As such he did not feel himself entitled to enjoy the concession of shortening the prayers. He also argued that in case he continued the practice of shortening the prayers, the Bedouins were apt to feel that the prayers comprised two rakaats only. In order to remove such impression it was necessary that the prayer should be offered in full. Uthman further argued that the shortening of the prayer was a concession. A concession was in principle meant to meet certain exigencies, and had to be withdrawn when such exigencies no longer existed. Uthman held that according to his Ijtihad, a stage had reached when the concession was no longer necessary, and the prayer should be offered in full. Uthman also elaborated that the offering of the prayers in full was in no way repugnant to the injunctions of Islam or Sunnah. If Islam had provided for four rakaats and he had offered two rakaats that would have been repugnant to Islam. Where Islam provided for four rakaats and gave the option of shortening the prayer in certain circumstances, and he chose to offer the prayer in full and not to avail of the concession, such an act was in furtherance of the purposes of Islam, and was in no way repugnant thereto.

Prayers on the occasion of the Hajj

During the first year of his caliphate, Uthman suffered from blood hemorrhage of the nose. Many other persons suffered likewise and in the Arab annals this year came to be known as the year of the hemorrhage. Uthman was not able to perform the Hajj during the first year of his office, but in subsequent years he performed the Hajj and presided at the Hajj functions.
When offering the prayers on the occasion of the Hajj between Mina and Mt Arafat, the Holy Prophet had shortened the prayers from four rakaats to two rakaats. Thereafter Abu Bakr and Umar while presiding at the Hajj functions followed the precedent set up by the Holy Prophet, and offered only two rakaats in prayers. In the early years of- his caliphate, Uthman followed the same precedent, but in the year 649 C.E. Uthman offered the full prayers in four rakaats.
Uthman was criticized by hostile circles for making this departure from the precedent set up by the Holy Prophet. Even such companions like Abdur Rahman b Auf and Ali questioned Uthman about the advisability of such innovation. Uthman argued that as a matter of fact the prayer comprised four rakaats, and it could be shortened to two rakaats under special circumstances. When the Holy Prophet shortened the prayer, he had settled at Madina, and had come to Makkah as a visitor. Uthman said that his case was different. He had married in Makkah and had a house there. He also had some property at Taif. As such when he came to Makkah his status was not that of a mere visitor. As such he did not feel himself entitled to enjoy the concession of shortening the prayers. He also argued that in case he continued the practice of shortening the prayers, the Bedouins were apt to feel that the prayers comprised two rakaats only. In order to remove such impression it was necessary that the prayer should be offered in full. Uthman further argued that the shortening of the prayer was a concession. A concession was in principle meant to meet certain exigencies, and had to be withdrawn when such exigencies no longer existed. Uthman held that according to his Ijtihad, a stage had reached when the concession was no longer necessary, and the prayer should be offered in full. Uthman also elaborated that the offering of the prayers in full was in no way repugnant to the injunctions of Islam or Sunnah. If Islam had provided for four rakaats and he had offered two rakaats that would have been repugnant to Islam. Where Islam provided for four rakaats and gave the option of shortening the prayer in certain circumstances, and he chose to offer the prayer in full and not to avail of the concession, such an act was in furtherance of the purposes of Islam, and was in no way repugnant thereto.

Other measures of Uthman

Uthman introduced a few other measures as well to promote the purposes of Islam. On the occasion of the Friday prayers he introduced a second call or Takbir for the convenience of the people. He provided stipends for the first time for the 'Muezzins'. On the occasion of the Ramadhan, he increased the daily allowances of the people. He also arranged to supply free meals to all concerned at the time of the breaking of the fast. Uthman made special arrangement for the upkeep of mosques.

Economic resources of the State

In the time of Uthman the economic resources of the State were: Zakat, Ushr, Khara;, Jazya, Fay and Ghanimah. Zakat- was a 21/z per cent levy on capital assets. Uthman levied the Zakat on some of the items which had escaped taxation previously. Ushr was a ten per cent levy on agricultural land as well as merchandise imported from abroad. Kharaj was a levy on land in conquered territories. The rate of Kharaj was higher than the Ushr. Jizya was a poll tax levied on non-Muslims. Fay was the income from State land. Ghanimah was the booty captured on the occasion of war with the enemy. Four-fifth of the booty was distributed among the soldiers taking part in the war while one-fifth was credited to the State fund. During the time of Uthman the income of the State increased considerably. When 'Amr b Al 'Aas was the Governor of Egypt the complaint against him was that the receipts from Egypt were low. He said that the she-camel could not give more milk. When Abdullah bin Sa'ad was appointed as the Governor, the revenues of the province increased. When confronted with this situation 'Amr b Al 'Aas said, "Yes, the she-camel has given more milk, but its young ones have been starved." This shows that under Uthman the revenues of the State increased. The view of 'Amr b Al 'Aas that the young one of the she - camel had been starved was merely an apologetic way of justifying his own administration

Stipends of the people

Umar had fixed the stipends of the people. On assuming office, Uthman increased these stipends by 25 per cent. That was an economic measure which contributed to the prosperity of the people. Writers like Taha Hussain have taken the view that there was no justification for an increase in the stipends so soon after the death of Umar. It is very strange that the critics of Uthman blame him for regarding the public funds as the property of Allah and not that of the people, and not distributing all the funds among the people, and on the other hand they criticize Uthman for raising the stipends. This view is uncharitable. Taha Hussain has dropped the hint that this was the means of political publicity to secure popularity. This view is obviously biased. An unbiased writer cannot help but admire the beneficent measure of Uthman which Promoted the material prosperity of the people.

Land administration

Under Umar it had been laid down as a policy that the lands in conquered territories were not to be distributed among the combatants, but were to remain the property of the previous owners. The army felt dissatisfied at this decision, but Umar suppressed the opposition with a strong hand. Uthman followed the policy devised by Umar. In the time of Uthman there were more conquests, and the revenues from land increased considerably. In the time of Uthman the army once again raised the demand for the distribution of the lands in conquered territories among the fighting soldiers. Uthman turned down the demand. The army could not agitate openly against Uthman, but in the vilification campaign that was carried against Uthman, the rebels had the indirect support of the army.

Economic restraints
Umar had placed restraints on the economic activities of the people. He had placed restrictions on the trading activities of the Quraish. Umar had placed a ban on the sale of lands in conquered territories. He had also placed a ban on the movements of the Companions and did not permit them to leave Madina. Uthman was a shrewd businessman and trader. He knew that trade could not flourish under restraints. He was a democrat by temperament, and he therefore withdrew the restrictions that had been imposed by Umar with regard to the sale of land or the movements of the people. Uthman also permitted the eminent Companions to draw loans from the public treasury. The economic reforms introduced by Uthman had a far reaching effect. The Quraish, shrewd businessmen as they were, took full advantage of the liberal policies of Uthman, and as a consequence their business flourished and they amassed a good deal of fortune. With this wealth they purchased lands in the conquered territories particularly Sawad in Iraq. In the time of Uthman, they did not merely enjoy dominance in political power, they came to enjoy monopoly in economic power as well. When the Companions were allowed the right of free movement and they were allowed the facility of drawing loans from the public treasury, most of the Companions purchased lands in conquered areas. Some of the Companions became the owners of large estates. The policy of Umar was that whatever the Companions had gained during the time of the Holy Prophet was enough for them and that they should live henceforward a retired life, "hereunder neither the world should see them, nor they should see the world. Uthman had a different view about the role of the Companions. He was of the view that the services of the Companions, the founding fathers of Islam, should be recognized, and facilities should be provided to them so that they might live in comfort in their old age. During the time of Uthman because of the economic measures of Uthman most of the Companions grew very rich. Brisk building activity took place in Madina. Many palatial buildings grew up in the city, and the city expanded a good deal.

The economic policies of Uthman though conceived in public interest had serious political repercussions. Economic power came to be concentrated in the hands of a small group. That led to a gulf between the haves and the havenots. Most of the troubles that Uthman had to face were directly or indirectly due to the economic measures of Uthman which led to the creation of a class which monopolized economic power. This led to some imbalance in Islamic society committed to an egalitarian order. We cannot blame Uthman for these economic measures. His policies aimed at the economic development of the country, and no person can be blamed for promoting economic prosperity. Difficulties arose because some of the persons grew rich overnight, and no institutions were devised to regulate the proper flow of wealth. That provided an opportunity to some of the Muslims like Abu Dhar Ghaffari who stood for an austere way of life to criticize Uthman and his administration. If all these facts are assessed objectively the conclusion that emerges is that Uthman was in advance of his age, and he devised measures for which instead of being praised and admired he was criticized and even maligned.


Public works under Uthman

Under Uthman the people became economically more prosperous, and they invested their money in the construction of buildings. Many new buildings came to be constructed in Madina, and the city expanded considerably. Uthman relaxed the restriction on the construction of large houses. Uthman built a palatial building for himself known as the "Zawar". Many other Companions constructed large buildings. Intensive building activity took place at Kufa, Basra, Damascus, Fustat and other cities.

During the caliphate of Uthman as many as five thousand new mosques were constructed. Uthman enlarged, extended, and embellished the Prophet's mosque at Madina. He enlarged and extended the Holy Kaaba as well. With the expansion in army, the cantonments were extended and enlarged. More barracks were constructed for the soldiers. Stables for the cavalry were extended. Uthman provided separate pastures for State camels. During the caliphate of Uthman, guest houses were provided in main cities. More and more markets were constructed. Uthman appointed Market Officers to look after markets.

Umar had placed restriction on the purchase of agricultural lands in conquered territories. Uthman withdrew this restriction. The Arabs purchased lands in conquered territories and exchanged them with lands in Arabia. Big landed estates came to be established in Arabia, Iraq and elsewhere. In Iraq, Egypt and Persia numerous canals were dug which stimulated the process of agricultural development.

In the cities, particular attention was directed towards the provision of water supply. In Madina, a number of wells were dug to provide drinking water for the people. The water supply in Makkah was also improved. Water was brought to Kufa and Basra by canals.

Heretofore Shuaibia was the port for Makkah. It was inconvenient. Uthman selected Jeddah as the site of the new seaport. Uthman bathed in the sea-water at Jeddah, and said that it was a blessed spot. Other companions also bathed in the sea-water at Jeddah. Uthman prayed for the prosperity of the new seaport.

Public treasury under Uthman

Uthman maintained the system set up under Umar. Umar was very strict in the use of money from the public treasury. Apart from the meager allowance that had been sanctioned in his favor Umar took no money from the treasury. He did not receive any gifts, nor did he allow any of his family members to accept any gift from any quarter. It appears that during the time of Uthman there was some relaxation in such strictness. In Kufa a dispute arose between Sa'ad b Abi Waqas and the treasurer Abdullah b. Masud over a certain amount which Sa'ad b. Waqas as Governor had taken as a loan from the treasury, and which he was not able to repay within the stipulated period. A similar dispute arose between Walid b Uqba the successor of Sa'ad b Abi Waqas and Abdullah b Mas'l

Uthman did not draw any allowance from the treasury for performing the functions of the caliphate. He was a wealthy man with sufficient resources of his own, and he had no need to draw any allowance from the treasury. There were, however, some complaints that Uthman was not as strict as his predecessor about the use of public funds. It was alleged that out of the public treasury Uthman made liberal grants to certain favorites. It was also alleged that unlike Umar, Uthman accepted gifts and allowed his family members to accept gifts from certain quarters. Abdullah b Arqam was in charge of the treasury at Madina, and according to some accounts that have come down to us, it is alleged that he resigned from his office as a protest against Uthman's policies with regard to the utilization of public funds.

The various accounts that have come down to us are prejudiced and biased. Uthman was a very rich man; he was most religious and pious. We cannot therefore, imagine that Uthman was corrupt in any way. He always acted, in a bona fide way. What appears to have happened is that Uthman had his own concept about the public funds, while his critics held an entirely different view on the subject.

Companions like Abu Dhar Ghaffari sponsored the theory that the funds in the public treasury were the property of the Muslims and as such had to be distributed equally among the Muslims. Under the circumstances the Caliph had no authority to make any grant to any person at the cost of the Muslims.

Uthman's view on the other hand was that the amount in the treasury was not the property of the Muslims. After the Muslims had received their due share, all that was in the treasury was the property of God and not of the Muslims. As the Caliph was in charge of the affairs of the State, he was a trustee of such property and he could utilize the funds on his own authority in public interest according to his best judgment. Uthman honestly felt that he had the right to utilize the public funds according to his best judgment, and no one had the right to criticize him for that. Uthman's argument was that if he could not spend the fund at the disposal of the State at his discretion, then what was the fun in being the Caliph?

As all the facts pertaining to the allegations are not available, it is not possible to say with any degree of certainty as to how far Uthman was right, or how far his critics were right. The view of the critics that the funds in the public treasury were the property of the Muslims and not of God does not appear to be correct. As in an Islamic State the State sovereignty vests in God, it follows as a matter of basic principle that all property vests in God. As the Caliph was the Head of Government he obviously had the authority to disburse funds for such purposes as he thought necessary. A Caliph is however not an absolute ruler, and if there is anything wrong with his exercise of discretion he can certainly be called in question. Thus while we can hold that the Caliph had the right to spend the money on his own authority it has also to be conceded that the people had the right to criticize the Caliph in case he had not exercised his discretion properly. At that stage of Islamic polity no machinery had been evolved to take cognizance of such criticism, and give its verdict which should be binding both on the Caliph as well as the people. Thus my personal view is that whatever difficulties arose during the caliphate of Uthman about the administration of the public funds were due more to procedural defects than because of any lapse on the part of Uthman

Pattern of political administration

Uthman maintained the pattern of political administration as it stood under Umar. The country was divided into twelve provinces. These were Madina, Makkah, Yemen, Kufa, Basra, Jazira, Fars, Azarbauan, Khurasan, Syria, Egypt and North Africa. Under Umar Egypt was divided into two provinces, Upper and Lower Egypt. Uthman made Egypt one province. Uthman created a new province for North Africa. Under Umar Syria was divided into two provinces. Uthman made Syria one province.

Administrative organization

Each province was under the charge of a Governor or Wali. The Governor was in charge of civil as well as military administration. He was assisted by Katib, the Chief Secretary; Katib -i- Diwan-Secretary Defense; Sahib-i-Kharaj - Revenue Collector; Sahib-ul-Ahdath-Inspector General of Police; Sahib- i- Bait-ul- Mal-Treasury Officer; and Qadi-Chief Judge.
Every province was divided into districts. There were about 100 districts in the country. Each district was under the charge of an Aamil. The Qadi was responsible for judicial administration.

Governors of Uthman


The Governors were appointed by the Caliph. Every appointment was made in writing. At the time of appointment an instrument of instructions was issued with a view to regulating the conduct of Governors. On assuming office, the Governor was required to assemble the people in the main mosque, and read the instrument of instructions before them.

One of the main allegations against Uthman was that he had appointed his relatives as Governors. Another allegation was that he exercised little check over the Governors.

As the Caliph, Uthman had the absolute right to appoint the Governors of provinces at his discretion. In theory this discretion could not be questioned. There was no legal bar to the appointment of relatives as Governors. Abdullah b Sa'ad a foster brother of Uthman had been appointed as the Governor of Egypt by Umar. Uthman merely continued him in office. Uthman consolidated Egypt in one province and placed the enlarged province under the charge of Abdullah b Sa'ad. This was an administrative reform in the right direction, and any criticism against the measure was misplaced.

In Syria, Muawiyah was the Governor under Umar. Uthman allowed him to continue in office. Uthman consolidated Syria into one province. In view of the threat from the Byzantines this reform was necessary and very much in public interest.

In Kufa, Uthman appointed Saad b Abi Waqas as the Governor in the first instance. Saad was not related to Uthman and he made the appointment in deference to the will of Umar. Later Saad was deposed and Uthman appointed his step brother Walid b Uqba as the Governor. Sa'ad was not deposed because Uthman wanted to make room for his step brother. Saad was deposed because of his failure to control the situation, and Walid was appointed because Uthman considered that a young man who enjoyed his confidence could alone deliver the goods in Kufa. Walid justified this selection, and during the first five years of his rule he was most popular with the people of Kufa. Later there was agitation in Kufa, and Uthman deposed him in public interest. As a matter of fact the agitation against Walid was not due to the fact that anything had gone wrong with Walid; the reality was that the people of Kufa being fickle by nature were won over by the conspirators, and wanted a change. Uthman accepted their demand even though he was convinced that Walid was not to be blamed in any way and that during the tenure of his office he had served the people of Kufa to the best of his ability.

In Basra, Abu Musa Asha'ari was deposed at the demand of the people of Basra. Uthman asked the representatives of the people of Basra to suggest a person who could be appointed as their Governor. They said that some young person who enjoyed the confidence of the Caliph should be appointed as the Governor. It was in deference to the wish of the people of Basra that Abdullah b Aamar was appointed as the Governor of Basra. He was a cousin of Uthman and he justified his selection in every way.

Allegation of nepotism how far justified?

The Shia writers because of partisan considerations condemn the administration of Uthman in strong terms, and hold him guilty of nepotism. Most of the Sunni writers in order to give an impression of their objectivity and fairness impliedly concede that the charge of nepotism was justified against him. If we examine the issue objectively the allegation stands rebutted. There were twelve provinces in the country, but Uthman as Caliph appointed his relatives in four provinces only, namely Egypt, Syria, Kufa and Basra. In the remaining eight provinces persons other than his relatives were appointed. If Uthman was out to give high offices to his relatives, he could have appointed his family members to high offices in the other provinces as well. As he did not do so, the point that is forced to notice is that he appointed his relatives to four provinces not because he wanted to bestow high offices on his family members, but because the strategic importance of these four provinces demanded that in these provinces there should be Governors who were loyal to him and enjoyed his confidence. In the age in which Uthman lived, blood relationship could be the only guarantee for loyalty. It may be appreciated that even in the modern times when the political systems are highly developed, high- offices are bestowed on the members of the parties on the maxim that spoils belong to the victors. In the age of Uthman when the party system was not developed, only blood relations could serve as the party. As such if Uthman appointed some of his relatives as Governors no blame rests on him. He acted in public interest. It may be recalled that when Ali became the Caliph he also appointed his relatives as Governors. No blame rests on Ali for such appointments because what he did was in the best interests of the State. As such we can emphatically state that when Uthman appointed some of his relatives as Governors there was nothing wrong in that.

Some of the writers find fault with Uthman that he appointed incapable persons as Governors. This view is incorrect and uncharitable. All the persons appointed by Uthman were capable persons of great caliber. Muawiyah was a ruler of outstanding capacity, and as a ruler and administrator he was second to none. Abdullah b Sa'ad was successful as Governor. Under his rule the revenues increased manifold. He conquered the whole of North Africa, and that was a great achievement. In Kufa, Walid enjoyed great popularity for the first five years. He conducted successful campaigns in Azarbaijan and Armenia. In Basra Abdullah bin Aamar proved to be most successful. He reconquerd the whole of Fars, Seestan, and Khurasan and even penetrated into Transoxiana. None of the Governors appointed by Uthman proved to be a failure, and it is unjust to condemn Uthman for appointing Governors who made great conquests. Uthman did not make such appointments arbitrarily. He made the appointments after assessing the merits of the persons concerned. It may be recalled that Uthman had brought up Muhammad b Huzaifa as his son. When Muhammad b Huzaifa wanted to be appointed as a Governor, Uthman did not oblige him because he did not consider him fit enough for such office. If nepotism was the sole consideration with Uthman as alleged by his critics he could have appointed Muhammad b Huzaifa to some high office. Muhammad b Huzaifa later led the agitation against Uthman. That clearly establishes that there is no substance in the allegation of nepotism against Uthman.

Social revolution of Islam

Islam revolutionized social life in Arabia. Islam created new social values. The Holy Prophet set the pattern of conduct for the Islamic society. He was the embodiment of all the social values for which Islam stood. The Holy Prophet disciplined the Muslims into a solid community conspicuous for its piety, bravery, unity, and high social and moral values. After the Holy Prophet Abu Bakr and Umar carried forward the mission of the Master, and promoted the social values of Islam.

Muslim society under Uthman

Uthman became the Caliph a generation after the passing away of the Holy Prophet. Uthman himself was an embodiment of all the Islamic social values, but the society around him underwent a change. During this period, most of the old companions passed away, and a new generation grew up, whose faith in Islam was not as deep as that of the generation which lived during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. Islam stood for an egalitarian society wherein all were equal politically, socially, as well as economically. During Uthman's time the State became prosperous; and that created a gulf between the rich and the poor. With the lapse of the time there was a recurrence of some of the social practices which characterized the age of ignorance in the pre-Islamic period. In Madina the flying of pigeons and the shooting of arrows for divining fortune became the pastime of the people during the time of Uthman. Uthman took strong note of these social evils. Under his orders the wings of the pigeons were cut, and the bows were broken. That made Uthman unpopular with the younger generation in Madina.

Concept of the caliphate

Most of the difficulties in the time of Uthman arose because of differences about the concept of the Caliphs. Most of the people regarded the Caliph as an Arab Sheikh on a higher scale amenable to the will of the people and even their idiocynracies. Uthman was of the view that the analogy of a tribal Sheikh did not apply to the Caliph.- He held that there was a divinity about the office of the Caliph, which had to be understood with reference to the Quran and the traditions and not in accordance with any man made concepts.

The Holy Quran and the caliphate In the Holy Quran, the term "caliphate" has been used in general terms with reference to communities or people in their collectivity. The word "Caliph" with reference to an individual has been used only once in the Holy Quran with reference to David. Here the word "Caliph" has been used with reference to a ruler or a vicegerent.

The Traditions

There are however numerous traditions on the point. The Holy Prophet said:
"Whoso obeys me obeys God, and whoso rebels against me rebels against God. Whoso obeys the ruler obeys me and whoso rebels against the ruler rebels against me."

The Holy Prophet said:
"After me will come rulers; tender them your obedience for the ruler is like a shield wherewith a man protects himself; if they are righteous and rule you well, they shall have their reward, but if they do evil then punishment will fall upon them, and you will be quit of it, for they are responsible for you, and you have no responsibility."

The Holy Prophet said:
"Obey your rulers whatever may happen; if they bid you do anything different from what I have taught you, they shall be punished for it, and you will be rewarded for your obedience." According to another tradition, the Holy Prophet said that on the Day of Judgement, the people will say to God: "O Lord, You sent us prophets and we obeyed them by Your permission, and You set over us Caliphs and we obeyed them by Your permission. Our rulers gave us orders, and we obeyed them for Your sake." Thereupon God will say, "You speak the truth; theirs is the responsibility and you are quit of it."

The Holy Prophet said:
"Obey every ruler; pray behind every Iman, and do not insult my Companions.''

The Holy Prophet said:
" O men, obey God even though He sets over you as your ruler a mutilated Abyssinian slave."

The Holy Prophet said:
"When God wishes good for a people He sets over them the forbearing and wise and places their goods in the hands of generous rulers, but when God wishes evil for a people He sets over them the witless and base and entrusts their goods to avaricious rulers."

The Holy Prophet said:
"When in the days to come you see the caliphate of God on earth, attach yourself closely to it even though it may consume your body and rob you of your property."

The Holy Prophet also said:
"If the Government is just it may expect reward from God. and the people ought to show their gratitude to it; if it is unjust, it incurs the guilt of sin, but the people must Rive Proof of their obedience to it."

Uthman's concept of the caliphate

In view of these traditions the view of Uthman was that there was a divinity about the office of the Caliph, and as such the Caliph was responsible to God and not to the people. As such the people had no right to disobey or criticize the Caliph. If the Caliph was just his reward lay with God.
On the other hand if he was unjust his punishment lay with God. Accordingly when a demand for his deposition was made he turned down the demand not because he was fond of power, but because he held that an office which he held on behalf of God had divinity about it, and he was bound to perform his duties to God whatever the odds. According to Uthman his resignation from an office which he held on behalf of God would amount to his refusal to serve God, and that was against the spirit of Islam. He therefore welcomed death to deposition, and that was certainly most noble and elevating on the part of Uthman. Some writers have indulged in the view that at the last moment, Uthman had agreed to be deposed, but that the rebels did not allow him time to announce his deposition. There is no truth in such stories. Uthman stuck to his view to the last, and he preferred to die rather than abandon the post which he held on behalf of God.
As a matter of principle the view that Uthman held about the caliphate was correct and in conformity with the traditions of the Holy Prophet. The people had no right to demand his deposition and he had no right to resign. The concepts of the so-called democracy and the sovereignty of the people were developed later in secular context. Unfortunately most of the writers, Muslims as well as non-Muslims have tried to judge Uthman in the light of concepts which were developed much later, and which are strictly speaking not in consonance with the spirit of Islam. Uthman acted strictly in accordance with the injunctions of Islam, and who rebelled against his authority were rebels against Islam. As a matter of fact all the allegations that had been levelled against Uthman were frivolous and had no substance. Uthman duly considered these allegations and he explained his position in sufficient detail. After such explanation the people had no right to agitate, and rebel against the authority of the State. That was outright sedition. In his book on Uthman, Taha Hussain has taken pains to establish that most of the complaints against Uthman were justified. I am afraid Mr. Taha Hussain has missed the point that under the Islamic constitutional law the authority to determine how far these complaints were justified was the Caliph himself and when he took cognize Ice of these complaints and explained his position publicly that was the end of the matter, and it does not lie within the competence of any writer, howsoever eminent, to sit in judgement over the conduct of Uthman and hold that most of the complaints against him were justified. My submission is that posterity has no right to sit in judgement over the caliphate of Uthman. Uthman acted to the best of his judgement, and we are precluded from finding any fault with what he did. It may be recalled that on the occasion of the expedition to Tabuk when the Holy Prophet gave the tidings of paradise to Uthman he also said that Uthman was not to be judged for anything thereafter. In view of this verdict of the Holy Prophet, it is not open to any Muslim to sit in judgement over what Uthman did as Caliph, and criticize him for any sins of omission or commission. As a matter of fact the revolt against Uthman was not due to any legitimate grievances of the people; it was due to extraneous cause, and was abetted by foreign powers who wanted to subvert Islam from within. The revolt against Uthman was in fact revolt against Islam. Uthman met a martyr's death in defense of Islam

Conquest of Spain

According to the general books of Islamic history the conquest of Spain is attributed to Tariq b Ziyad and Musa b Naseer in 711 - 712 C.E. in the time of the Umayyad Caliph Walid b Abdul Malik. According to Tabari, Spain was conquered some sixty years earlier during the caliphate of Uthman

Tabari's account


According to the account of Tabari, when North Africa had been duly conquered by Abdullah b Sa'ad b Abi Sarah, two of his Generals Abdullah b Nafiah b Husain, and Abdullah b Nafi' b Abdul Qais were commissioned to invade Spain by sea. On this occasion Uthman is reported to have addressed a letter to the invading force. In the course of the letter, Uthman said:
"Constantinople will be conquered from the side of Spain. Thus if you conquer Spain you will have the honor of taking the first step towards the conquest of Constantinople. You will have your reward in this behalf both in this world and the next."

Kaab al Ahbar, an eminent companion and a counselor of Uthman is reported to have said:
"The people who conquer Spain after crossing the sea will be identified on the Doomsday on account of the special light that would radiate from them."

Interesting revelation

The aforesaid passage in Tabari makes an interesting revelation. It means that when in 711-712 C.E. regular campaigns were undertaken for the conquest of Spain by Tariq b Ziyad and Musa b Naseer the Muslims were already familiar with Spain, and such familiarity helped in the process of conquest.

Another point which emerges from this account is that Uthman contemplated the conquest of Constantinople via Spain. At that time there were only two great powers in the ancient world namely the empire of Persia, and the Empire of the Byzantines. The empire of Persia was completely subjugated during the time of Uthman. Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa were wrested from the Byzantines, but the Byzantines still held Constantinople, Asia Minor and some parts of Europe. It appears that Uthman contemplated the complete subjugation of the Byzantine empire as well and his strategy was to launch a two pronged attack against Constantinople one from the east via Syria and Asia Minor and the other from the west via Spain. The attack from the west envisaged the subjugation of the continent of Europe. If there had been no internal dissension within the ranks of the Muslims, Uthman was likely to have embarked on his ambitious plan of the conquest of Europe and Constantinople.

When the Muslims completely subjugated Persia during the caliphate of Uthman, and when the Muslims after conquering North Africa succeeded in getting a foothold in Spain, the Byzantines must have felt alarmed at the rising tide of the Muslims. It may also be borne in mind that Umar had forbidden the Muslims to venture across the seas, but Uthman had withdrawn that restriction. During the time of Uthman the Muslims beat the Byzantines on the sea several times. During the time of Uthman the situation had thus become very critical for the Byzantines In open warfare the Byzantines were no match for the Muslims. The Byzantines therefore encouraged schemes for the subversion of Islam from within. It appears to me that those who conspired against Uthman were really playing in the hands of the Byzantines and other foreign powers. Uthman beat the enemy on the battle ground but he could not beat them in the matter of intrigues and underhand subversive activities.

International situation

During the caliphate of Umar, the Muslim dominions had expanded considerably both in the east and the west. Umar was a strong man, but Uthman who succeeded him was known for his kindheartedness. The foreign powers felt that with Uthman as the Caliph, it would be possible for them to wrest the territories from the Muslims which they had conquered during the caliphate of Umar. In pursuance of this program to overthrow the Muslim rule, Persia rose in revolt in the east, and the Byzantines attacked Egypt in the west to drive away the Muslims.

Developments, however, took place contrary to the expectations of the foreign powers. The Sassanian emperor Yazdjurd made another bid to recover Persia. Revolts broke out in all the provinces of Persia; national feelings against the Muslims rose high among the Persians; and Yazdjurd made strenuous efforts to rally the Persians in another bid to drive away the Muslims from the Persian soil. In spite of being a kind hearted and soft spoken man, Uthman proved to be a' great General. He organized military campaigns with great skill. Within a few years the whole of Persia was reconquerd; Yazdjurd was killed and the Sassanian dynasty was extinguished. The Muslims under Uthman crossed the Oxus for the first time. The frontiers of the Muslim empire came to touch the frontiers of China in the north and India in the east. In the west, in the momentum of the first attack, the Byzantines were able to conquer Alexandria. In the counter attack, the Muslims drove the Byzantines from Alexandria, and the Byzantine plan to reconquer Egypt came to nought. Then the Muslims took the offensive. They conquered the whole of North Africa. Then they crossed the sea, and obtained a foot-hold in Spain. Heretofore the Byzantines were the masters of the Mediterranean Sea. Under Uthman the Muslims grew into a naval power. The Muslims conquered the island of Cypress. They beat the Byzantines at the naval battle known as the '`Battle of the Masts." The Muslims made several raids on the Byzantine coasts. The Byzantine capital itself was now threatened by a two pronged attack, one from the east via Syria and Asia Minor, and the other from the west via Spain and Europe.
The foreign powers became nervous at the success of the Muslim arms under the leadership of Uthman, and now their only hope lay in aiding and patronizing subversive movements within the territories of Islam.

Ibn Saba's subversive movement

Ibn Saba's movement began as a religious movement. It aimed at the subversion of Islam by creating doubts among the Muslims with regard to certain matters of their belief. Ibn Saba's movement was patronized by the Jews, and had its links with foreign countries. With the triumph of the Muslim arms, under the incitement of the Byzantines, Ibn Saba's movement became a political movement as well. The agents of Ibn Saba in various towns launched a campaign of vilification against Uthman and his government. The movement tried to sow discord among the Muslims on one pretext or the other. The non-Arabs were incited to object to the supremacy of the Arabs. Among the Arabs the differences between the northerners and the southerners were exploited. Differences were also exploited between the Quraish and the other Arabs. Differences between' the Bedouins and the city dwellers were exploited. Among the Quraish the differences between the Hashimite and the Umayyads were exploited. The people were fed on fictitious stories about the tyrannies of the Government of Uthman. Even whatever good had been done by Uthman was presented in false color. As a result of such subtle propaganda the peace of the country came to be disturbed. No specific charges against Uthman or his government were forthcoming. Only vague and hearsay allegations floated from ear to ear. Because of the virulence of the propaganda the Muslim society became a victim of discontentment. In Madina, the companions and other leaders of public opinion were flooded with anonymous letters containing vague allegations against Uthman and his government.

Allies for the Ibn Saba's movement

Ibn Saba won some allies from among the Muslims who had some grievance against Uthman right or wrong. 'Amr b Al 'Aas had been deposed by Uthman from the governorship of Egypt. He had a personal grievance against Uthman, and in some way or the other he played into the hands of the Ibn Sabaites.

Muhammad b Abl Hudhaifa was a young man whose father had been martyred in one of the campaigns under Abu Bakr. After the death of his father Muhammad came to live with Uthman who treated him as a son. Muhammad grew into a wayward young man. When Uthman became the Caliph, Muhammad aspired to be made the Governor of some province. When Muhammad requested Uthman to be made the Governor of some province, Uthman said that if he had considered him fit to be made the Governor he would have done that, and that as he was still very young he should wait for some time till he acquired some maturity. That annoyed Muhammad, and he wanted that he should be allowed to go elsewhere. Had at Uthman permitted him to go wherever he liked. Muhammad proceeded to Egypt.

Muhammad b Abu Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr. His mother was Asma, whom Abu Bakr, married after the death of her husband Jaffar b Abu Talib. After the death of Abu Bakr, Asma married Ali. Muhammad b Abu Bakr thus grew up under the guardianship of Ali. When Uthman became the Caliph, Ali felt unhappy at being passed over. Muhammad b Abu Bakr therefore came to adopt at an early age an attitude which was critical of Uthman. Later Muhammad b Abu Bakr was a party to a case. Uthman gave his verdict against Muhammad b Abu Bakr. That annoyed Muhammad b Abu Bakr. He left Madina for Egypt.

In Egypt Muhammad b Abi Hudhaifa and Muhammad b Abu Bakr came under the influence of Ibn Saba, and came to indulge in propaganda against Abdullah b Saad the Governor of Egypt as well as Uthman. They ingratiated themselves with the army, and tried to seduce the soldiers from the cause of Uthman. When the Muslims won the naval battle known as the "Battle of the Masts" and felt proud of the victory, the two Muhammads tried to belittle this achievement by declaring that such victories were of no avail when the caliphate itself was indulging in anti-Islamic practices.
When Abdullah b Sa'ad came to know of this propaganda he reported the matter to Uthman and wanted his permission to take action against Muhammad b Abi Hudhaifa and Muhammad b Abu Bakr. Uthman withheld the permission saying that Muhammad b Abi Hudhaifa was his son, and that because of his regard for Abu Bakr he could not contemplate any action against his son.
In Egypt 'Amr b Al 'Aas had a party, and as 'Amr b Al 'Aas was unhappy at his deposition, his party joined those who were critical of Abdullah b Sa'ad and Uthman. Thus Egypt became a hot bed of sedition against the administration of Uthman.

The movement of Ibn Saba won allies in Madina and elsewhere, Ibn Sabaites declared that they were working for the caliphate of Ali. That won for them the sympathies of the followers of Ali. Ali himself did not espouse their cause, but the Ibn Sabaites had every reason to believe that as they were working for the cause of Ali, his sympathies could not be denied to them. Most of the companions in Madina chose to be neutral, Such companions as Abu Dhar Ghifari were critical of the luxurious style of living of those in power. The Ibn Sabaites exploited this position, and tried to give out that they were with Abu Dhar Ghifari. They gave currency to some false reports about the harassment of Abu Dhar Ghifari at the hands of Uthman and his Government.

In Kufa, the people had demanded the deposition of Saeed b 'Aas and the appointment of Abu Musa Ash'ari. In the interests of peace Uthman yielded to the demand. In a letter addressed to the people of Kufa, Uthman hoped that as he had acceded to their demand there would be no more trouble from their side. On assuming office as Governor Abu Musa Ashari warned the people to desist from their subversive activities. He said that he would not lead them in prayer until they had assured him of their loyalty to Uthman. The people assured him of their loyalty to Uthman and gave a solemn undertaking that they would maintain peace and would not indulge in any agitation.
 

'Aamir b Abdullah in Basra'

'Aamir b Abdullah Tamimi was an eminent Muslim. He settled at Basra. He was intensely religious, and would pray the whole night. Being too much absorbed in religious devotions, he was cut off from the world around him. He became critical of the irreligious ways of life of the people around him, and the people felt unhappy at his biting criticism. The Governor of Basra complained against him to Uthman, and Uthman directed that 'Aamir b Abdullah be sent to Syria.

'Aamir b Abdullah in Syria

In Syria, Abdullah Tamimi was lodged in the main mosque at Damascus, and Muawiyah the Governor of Syria kept a watch over him. One of the complaints against 'Aamir was that he did not eat meat. One day Muawiyah invited 'Aamir to dinner at which meat was served. 'Aamir duly partook of the dish of meat. That convinced Muawiyah that this allegation against 'Aamir was false.

Another allegation against 'Aamir was that he did not offer Friday prayers. Muawiyah posted some persons to spy on the activities of 'Aamir with regard to Friday prayers. It was reported by these agents that 'Aamir did attend the Friday prayers, but he came last of all, took his seat in the last row and would then leave the mosque before others. Thus it was established that the allegation against him, that he did not offer the Friday prayer, was not established.

Muawiyah inquired of 'Aamir as to why he did not marry. 'Aamir said that he had no objection to marriage, but he felt that as he spent most of his time in prayers, no woman would be happy with him. He said that if he came across any woman who would agree to pray with him, he would be glad to marry her. Muawiyah felt convinced that in the circumstances, 'Aamir could not be held guilty of his opposition to marriage.

Muawiyah reported to Uthman that the complaints against 'Aamir were not established. Uthman ordered that in the circumstances 'Aamir was free to return Basra, OF go anywhere else at his discretion. 'Aamir refused to go back to Basra, the people whereof had complained against him. He remained in Syria, and participated in the Jihad against Byzantine.
 

'Aamir in Kufa

The people of Kufa invited 'Aamir to visit them. 'Aamir visited Kufa in response to the invitation. The people of Kufa welcomed him, and humored him in his eccentricities. They found that being intensely religious, 'Aamir was critical of the luxurious style of the government of Uthman. They also found that 'Aamir was bitter against Uthman for having exiled him from Basra for no cause. The people of Kufa exploited this position, and fed 'Aamir on imaginary tales about the lapses of Uthman and his government. That aroused the indignation of 'Aamir, and he declared that such a man had no right to be the Caliph. Some one suggested that the best Jihad for a man of the caliber of 'Aamir was to tell Uthman in the face that he was not fit to be the Caliph and should accordingly abdicate. 'Aamir said that he was not afraid of any one except God, and that he had the courage to tell Uthman in the face that he was not f t to be the Caliph. The people of Kufa declared their faith in 'Aamir, and chose him their emissary to go to Madina and speak to Uthman. 'Aamir agreed to undertake the mission.

The political atmosphere in Madina

'Aamir b Abdullah Tamimi in pressing the demand for the abdication of Uthman had advanced no arguments. Uthman had turned down the demand for cogent reasons. Nevertheless these altercations poisoned the political atmosphere in Madina. Barring a few persons who espoused the cause of Uthman strongly, the other companions were either critical or preferred to remain indifferent.

Uthman discussed the matter with Ali. Ali talked in cautious and diplomatic terms. He neither came forward to support Uthman through thick or thin; nor did he support the rebels. He was however critical of the leniency of Uthman. He said that because of such leniency on the part of Uthman, the Governors in the provinces had become headstrong, and they were following policies which were not approved by the people. Ali was also critical that under Uthman high office under the State had been monopolized by the Umayyads to the great dissatisfaction of the other sections of the people. Uthman gave his defense, but this did not make Ali change his views. On the other hand Uthman stuck to the view that he had done no wrong, and he had become a victim of false propaganda.

The differences between Uthman and Ali pointed to the fact that something had gone wrong with the Muslim polity, and that the Muslims were no longer a united community. Such disruption in the ranks of the Muslims forebode some catastrophe. That set Uthman thinking, and in order to overcome the crisis Uthman decided to summon a council of his Governors.

Council of Governors

The Council of Governors met at Madina. Uthman apprised them of his concern at the virulent propaganda that was being carried against the administration, and wanted their suggestions for overcoming the crisis. Abdullah b 'Aamir the Governor of Basra suggested that the persons responsible for making the propaganda should be sent to the borders for undertaking Jihad. Muawiyah suggested that the Governors should be authorized to suppress the sedition movements within their provinces. Abdullah b Saad proposed that the miscreants should be won over by the grant of favors. 'Amr b Al 'Aas struck a different note. He had a personal grievance against Uthman because he had been deposed from the governorship of Egypt. He observed that there could be no improvement in the situation unless Uthman changed his policies, and instead of favoring his relatives appointed the right men to the right job. Uthman directed the Governors that they should adopt all the expedients they had suggested according to local circumstances. He exhorted the Governors to be just and fair, and redress the legitimate grievances of the people. They should, however, take stern measures against the seditionist. Uthman appealed to the people in general to remain united and maintain the integrity and unity of the Ummah. He said that the enemies of Islam were out to subvert Islam by creating dissension in their ranks, and they should be beware of the enemy. Those who wanted to create differences between the people and the administration could be no friends of the Muslims. Uthman took note of the criticism of 'Amr b Al 'Aas . He said that it was for the Caliph as Head of the State to appoint such persons to State offices in whom he had confidence, and if any person was deposed in public interest, he should not make such deposition a cause of personal grievance. He pointed out that in an Islamic state, high offices were mere burdens, and one should neither covet them, nor feel aggrieved when deprived of any of such office. He added that he had never coveted the caliphate, but once he had been made the Caliph there was no option with him but to discharge the onerous duties of the office according to the best of his ability. He assured all concerned that it would be his endeavor to redress the legitimate grievances of the people. He pointed out that at the same time it was the duty of the people not to indulge in false propaganda or lend ear to what was mere hearsay.

Investigation into rumors

Uthman sent his agents to some of the main provinces to look into the various reports about the rumors. Muhammad b Miasma was sent to Kufa; Usama b Zaid was sent to Basra; 'Ammar b Yasir was sent to Egypt, while Abdullah b Umar was sent to Syria. These emissaries made thorough investigations on the spot; they addressed the congregations in the mosques and they interviewed the leaders of public opinion. On return to Madina the emissaries reported that all was well in Kufa, Basra and Syria. The people were satisfied with the administration, and they had no legitimate grievance against the administration. Some individuals here and there had some personal grievances of minor character with which the people at large were not concerned. 'Ammar b Yasir the emissary to Egypt, however, did not return to Madina. In Egypt IbnSaba, Muhammad b Abi Hudhaifa,and Muhammad b Abu Bakr were very active in their campaign of vilification against Uthman. 'Ammar b Yasir was influenced by their subtle propaganda. Instead of returning to Madina he chose to stay in Egypt and join the seditionist. The emissaries who had been deputed to Kufa, Basra, and Syria submitted their reports to Uthman. The people were apprised of these reports and they felt satisfied that there was no substance in the rumors that were being spread. The people of Madina felt concerned about the situation in Egypt. Abdullah b Sa'ad the Governor of Egypt reported about the activities of the seditionist in Egypt. He wanted to take action against Muhammad b Abu Bakr, Muhammad b Abi Hudhaifa and 'Ammar b Yasir. Uthman did not want Abdullah b Sa'ad to be harsh against these persons for whom he had great regard.

Uthman's open letter to his people

In view of the reassuring reports from Kufa, Basra and Syria, Uthman addressed an open letter to his subjects. He observed that he had deputed special emissaries to investigate into the rumors against the administration. These emissaries had made investigations on the spot, and their report was that on the whole the people were satisfied with the administration, and they had no particular grievance. Uthman added that his mission in Egypt had not been successful and his emissary had chosen to stay in Egypt and not to return to Madina. He was watching further develop meets in Egypt. He observed that he had never coveted the office of the Caliph, but when he had been made the Caliph he had to discharge the onerous duties of the office. He observed that as the Caliph he had taken pains to administer the State affairs in the best interests of the people according to the injunctions of Islam. He observed that while it was his duty to be just and fair, it devolved on the people to cooperate with him and not to be led astray by false propaganda. He wanted the people who had any grievance against the administration to assemble at Makkah on the occasion of the Hajj. He assured them that all their legitimate grievances would be redressed. He directed the Governors and the "Amils" of various cities to come to Makkah on the occasion of the Hajj.

Uthman's address on the occasion of the Hajj

In response to the call of Uthman, the followers of Ibn Saba sent large delegations from various cities. They were thoroughly briefed and were armed with a catalogue of imaginary wrongs which they were requited to present before the gathering.

Uthman presided at the Hajj functions, and thereafter he addressed the people. After praising God and the Holy Prophet, Uthman said that he had summoned that meeting at the house of God to redress the grievances of the people, to foster accord between the people and the Government; and to remove misunderstandings if any. He said that of late some false rumors had been circulating against him and his government in a surreptitious manner. He said that Islam did not favor such underhand means. Islam stood for calling a spade a spade. He said that the object of the meeting was to promote a dialogue between the people and the rulers, and to take steps to redress the grievances of the people if any. He assured the people that he would espouse their just cause, and as such they should come forward with their grievances so that these could be redressed. He said that in view of this assurance on his part the underhand propaganda against the Government should cease for that was likely to undermine the integrity of the State.

He wanted the people to be his witness that before assuming the caliphate he was one of the richest man. As such the caliphate could not be an office of profit with him. He wanted the people to say whether what he had said was correct or not. Thereupon the congregation said, "Yes O Caliph of the Holy Prophet, you are correct".

Uthman continued: "You know after the Holy Prophet Abu Bakr became the Caliph and after him Umar became the Caliph. During this period the Muslim dominions expanded, and the Muslim State was burdened with onerous responsibilities. Abu Bakr and Umar administered the affairs of the State with admirable skill. Thereafter the burden fell on me. I swear by God that I did not covet the office, but once I had been made the caliph, I had to discharge my functions. You know Umar was a hard task master. After him you wanted some relaxation. In contrast I followed mild policies. At the outset of my rule I increased the stipends of the people. I treated the people as my children, and my treatment was liberal and generous". Then Uthman paused and inquired of the people whether what he had said was correct. They answered, "Yes, we testify to your kindness."
Uthman added, "You know after the demise of Umar there were revolts in Persia, and the Persians made a bid to overthrow the Muslim yoke. At one time we practically lost the whole of Persia. In this crisis your Government was not found wanting. We directed campaigns in Persia. The whole of Persia was reconquerd. Not only that but we extended the Muslim conquests. In the east we reached the borders of India. In the north we penetrated into Transoxiana and reached the borders of China. You know the Byzantines tried to reconquer Egypt and captured Alexandria. We drove them from the soil of Egypt. Thereafter we undertook campaigns in North Africa, and captured the whole of North Africa. Thereafter we crossed over Spain and established a foothold there. You know the Muslims had heretofore avoided wars on the sea. During my time the Muslims became a naval power for the first time. We conquered the island of Cypress. We defeated the Byzantines at the battle of the Masts. We conducted campaigns in Asia Minor and captured many Byzantine forts." Uthman paused and addressing the people said, " O ye people, swear by God whether what I have said is correct or not?" The people cried with one voice, "We testify that what you have said is correct".

Uthman further said, "Now O people look around you and say honestly whether you are not more prosperous than what were you yesterday. Look to Madina itself. Has it not expanded and is such expansion not an indication of the prosperity of the people. Are the people of Makkah not more prosperous than what they were in the past. Is there any man in the State who is starved. Previously the companions were not allowed to leave Madina. Have I not removed this restriction. Have I not allowed free purchase and sale of land. Have I not promoted your freedom of speech and movement? Look to your Baitul Mall Does it not have more reserve than what it had previously? Look to the Prophet's mosque at Madina. Have I not extended it. Again look to the Ka'aba. Have I not extended or embellished it? Please let me know whether this is correct or not". And the people said that verily this was correct.

Uthman continued: "If all that I have said is correct is it not uncharitable on the part of some of the people to indulge in unfounded propaganda. If you make the head of your State the victim of false propaganda you weaken the solidarity of the Ummah. Our strength lies in our unity, and if any attempt is made to sow dissension among the Muslims we will be playing in the hands of the enemy. I therefore appeal to you to be just and fair. If you seek justice you must be just yourself. I assure you that if you have any legitimate grievance it will be redressed. On the other hand if you have no real grievance, but merely resort to frivolous allegations that will be neither in your interest nor in the interests of the State.

Uthman said, "Now I will dwell on the various allegations that are afloat against me or my Government. I am criticized that on the occasion of the Hajj I offered four rakaats of prayers instead of availing of the concession of two rakaats in accordance with the precedent set by the Holy Prophet and my two predecessors. In this connection it may be borne in mind that the stipulated number of rakaats in such prayers is four, but in the case of exceptional circumstances the prayer can be shortened to two rakaats. Now such exceptional circumstances cannot last for all times. I have married in Makkah and I reside here for some time in a year. I therefore felt that I was no longer entitled to the concession of shortening the prayer. If four rakaats were enjoined and I had shortened them I could have been held guilty, but when I offer the full prayers, and do not avail of a concession meant for exceptional circumstances, what is the wrong that I have done. Again it is said that I have been guilty of sacrilege in burning some copies of the Holy Quran. Do you know what happened to the Holy Books revealed to other prophets. Their followers produced variety of versions, and in such diversity the original text was lost. I was anxious that the Holy Quran should not become a victim of such diversity. I therefore in consultation with the eminent companions had a standard text compiled, and destroyed all other texts, so that the integrity of the text should be maintained for all times. O Muslims I ask you in the name of God whether this was a service or a disservice to the cause of Islam?" Uthman paused for a reply from the people and they said, "Yes, O Caliph you have done a great service to the cause of Islam".

Uthman continued: It is objected that 1 have appointed young persons to high offices, and that most of the Governors are my relatives. In appointing young persons I followed the precedent set by the Holy Prophet. He appointed Usama a young man of seventeen to lead the expedition against the Byzantines. It is true that some of the Governors are related to me. As Caliph I am responsible for the administration of the entire country. I have therefore to appoint persons in whom I have full confidence. Whether a person is related to me or not is not the material thing. The material thing is: how far have such persons discharged their functions. Is it not a fact that as Governor Muawiyah is most popular in Syria? Is it not a fact that Abdullah b Sa'ad conquered the whole of North Africa? Is it not a fact that he was the victor of the battle of the Masts? Is it not a fact that Uqba's son Walid was most popular in Kufa during the first five years of his rule and I removed him when voices were raised against his rule? Is it not a fact as the Governor of Basra Abdullah b 'Aamir reconquerd the whole of Persia, and even carried the Muslim arms to Transoxiana? O Muslims be just and fair. How can you deny the achievements of these Governors in the cause of Islam, and merely condemn them because they are related to me? I assure you that I appointed them because I thought them to be the fittest persons. All of them came to my expectations and I maintain that I did not commit any wrong in appointing them as Governors. On the other hand Muhammad b Hudhaifa who was like a son to me wanted to be appointed to a post but 1 refused to do so, because I did not consider him fit to bear such responsibilities." Then Uthman paused and said, "Have I not narrated the true facts", and the people said, ~ Yes, you have stated the facts as they are..

Uthman continued, "It is said that I have reserved the pastures for my camels. This is incorrect. I have reserved the State pastures for State camels and that was necessary. It is objected that I recalled my uncle Hakam from exile. The fact is that the Holy Prophet exiled him, and then permitted his recall. It is objected that on the eve of the conquest of Makkah, Abdullah b Sa'ad was on the murder list, but I intervened on his behalf. It is true that Abdullah b Sa'ad was guilty, but he repented. Forgiveness is an attribute of God. On the occasion of the conquest of Makkah the Holy Prophet granted the Quraish general amnesty and in this context he forgave Abdullah b Sa'ad. Thereafter Abdullah b Sa'ad proved to be a staunch Muslim and he performed valuable services in the cause of Islam. Uqba's son Walid was certainly guilty of a lapse but the Holy Prophet forgave him. It is a tradition of the Holy Prophet that once a man is forgiven we have to judge him solely on the basis of his conclusion after such forgiveness. These persons have nothing to their discredit after they had been forgiven. It is uncharitable on the part of Muslims to condemn these persons for their conduct for which they have been forgiven. If previous misconduct is to remain alive what is the purpose of forgiveness?"

Uthman said, "I have had may say. Now I am prepared to listen to you. If any one of you has any legitimate grievance against me or my Government you are free to give expression to such grievance, and I assure you that, I will do my best to redress such grievance."
The seditionist had come fully prepared to give vent to their imaginary grievances, but they realized that the people in view of the defense offered by Uthman were not in the mood to listen to any imaginary grievances. All the seditionist remained quiet, and they did not have the courage to declare any grievance.

Muawiyah's advice

On return to Madina, Muawiyah saw Uthman. He said that although on the occasion of the Hajj the seditionist had not been able to declare any grievance, that did not mean the end of their opposition. He feared that they would resort to other means to harm Uthman.
Muawiyah suggested that Uthman should accompany him to Syria. He said that the people of Syria were devoted to the Caliphate and the Caliph would have an atmosphere of peace there. Uthman said that as the Caliph of the Holy Prophet, he could not leave the city of the Holy Prophet.
Muawiyah observed that in the alternative he should be allowed to send some Syrian force to keep a guard on the Caliph. Uthman said that the presence of the Syrian force in Madina would be an incitement to a civil war, and he could not be a party to such a move.

Exasperated Muawiyah said, "My next suggestion is that in case you are murdered I should be authorized to demand Qasaas for your murder." Uthman said that he agreed to the suggestion and in case he was murdered, Muawiyah was free to demand vengeance for his assassination.

The situation in Madina


After the pilgrimage of 655 C.E. things remained quiet for some time. With the dawn of the year 656 C.E. Madina itself became a hot bed of intrigue and unrest. Muhammad b Abu Bakr, and 'Ammar b Yasir returned from Egypt to Madina. They were joined by 'Amr b Al 'Aas . They let loose a flood of propaganda, and vilified the administration of Egypt. It was given out that the administration of Egypt was guilty of tyranny and oppression. 'Amr b A1 'Aas took pains to project the view that under Abdullah b Sa'ad, the Governor of Egypt, the taxes were most oppressive, and while the she camel had been forced to give more milk its young ones had been starved.
 
Muhammad b Abu Bakr had personal grievances against Uthman, and he condemned Uthman's Government for its inefficiency. 'Ammar b Yasir had at the outset supported the candidature of Ali for the caliphate, and he was a bitter critic of the administration of Uthman. It cannot be said why Uthman chose to send him to Egypt to inquire into the affairs of the province when it was known that he was prejudiced against the caliphate of Uthman. Perhaps Uthman considered that a report by a person who did not belong to his camp was likely to be more assuring 'Ammar b Yasir, however, did not submit any report. Instead in Egypt he joined with the malcontents, and carried on propaganda against Uthman. When 'Ammar returned to Madina he did not see Uthman. Instead he became active in creating unrest in Madina.


Marwan a cousin of Uthman acted as his Secretary. Another cousin of Uthman acted as the Superintendent of the markets in Madina. Uthman paid them for their services from the Baitul Mall This was made the subject of criticism. Uthman gave some gifts from the Baitul Mal to Zubair b Awwam and Talha b 'Ubaidah. It is not known what exactly was the occasion for the grant of such gifts but presumably such gifts were made because of their services. Criticism against Uthman took over a virulent form. People began to talk freely as to who would be the next Caliph. Many doggerals were composed supporting the candidature of Ali, Zubair and Talha as the next Caliph.

The situation in Madina

After the pilgrimage of 655 C.E. things remained quiet for some time. With the dawn of the year 656 C.E. Madina itself became a hot bed of intrigue and unrest. Muhammad b Abu Bakr, and 'Ammar b Yasir returned from Egypt to Madina. They were joined by 'Amr b Al 'Aas . They let loose a flood of propaganda, and vilified the administration of Egypt. It was given out that the administration of Egypt was guilty of tyranny and oppression. 'Amr b A1 'Aas took pains to project the view that under Abdullah b Sa'ad, the Governor of Egypt, the taxes were most oppressive, and while the she camel had been forced to give more milk its young ones had been starved.
 
Muhammad b Abu Bakr had personal grievances against Uthman, and he condemned Uthman's Government for its inefficiency. 'Ammar b Yasir had at the outset supported the candidature of Ali for the caliphate, and he was a bitter critic of the administration of Uthman. It cannot be said why Uthman chose to send him to Egypt to inquire into the affairs of the province when it was known that he was prejudiced against the caliphate of Uthman. Perhaps Uthman considered that a report by a person who did not belong to his camp was likely to be more assuring 'Ammar b Yasir, however, did not submit any report. Instead in Egypt he joined with the malcontents, and carried on propaganda against Uthman. When 'Ammar returned to Madina he did not see Uthman. Instead he became active in creating unrest in Madina.


Marwan a cousin of Uthman acted as his Secretary. Another cousin of Uthman acted as the Superintendent of the markets in Madina. Uthman paid them for their services from the Baitul Mall This was made the subject of criticism. Uthman gave some gifts from the Baitul Mal to Zubair b Awwam and Talha b 'Ubaidah. It is not known what exactly was the occasion for the grant of such gifts but presumably such gifts were made because of their services. Criticism against Uthman took over a virulent form. People began to talk freely as to who would be the next Caliph. Many doggerals were composed supporting the candidature of Ali, Zubair and Talha as the next Caliph.

Ali's dialogue with Uthman

When the crisis deepened, Ali saw Uthman and talked to him in diplomatic terms. He said:
"I have been sent by the people to you. Many things are being said against you, but I do not know how I should tell you what they say. I cannot think of any matter about which I can advise you, nor do I know of anything more than what you know. You are aware of all this. How should I give you any information, for I am not better informed than you, nor anything has been said in secret, about which I know but you do not. We are all nothing in front of you. You have seen the Holy Prophet; heard him; and lived in close companionship with him. Neither Abu Bakr, nor Umar were superior to you in any way. In relationship to the Holy Prophet you were closer to him than all of us. The position attained by you was gained by none else. Under your caliphate the community has come to be faced with some problems. O Caliph, invoke God's help in solving these problems. I need offer you no' advice. Take heed and remember that the nearest to God is a Caliph who is just and upholds the covenant of Allah as revealed to the Holy Prophet and discards all that was discarded by him. The worst man on earth is the Imam who is cruel and one who has gone astray himself, and makes others go astray, who revives the discarded vices and discards virtues. All these things are clear to you. Right and wrong are far apart. I have myself heard the Holy Prophet say that on the Day of Judgment, a tyrant Imam will be friendless and sent down to hell. He would revolve around it like a grinder and then be plunged into the bottomless pit. I want to remind you of God's powers, and His revenge. His punishment is severe and powerful. Be careful that you do not become the murdered Imam for the flock for it is said that one of the Imams would be killed who would open door to dissension within the community. Things would come to such a pass that the Muslims would be divided into various sections. Falsehood would gain such ascendancy that people would forget what is right."
 

Uthman's reaction to the address of Ali

Uthman listened patiently to the talk of Ali and then said:
"All, I am grateful to you for having come and talked to me. I have always looked to you as my best support. You are a keen judge of men and matters, and you are known for your perception of the truth. I had expected that in this crisis you would discern the truth, and take measures to stop the false propaganda that is poisoning the atmosphere. Instead you have talked in the same vein as the malcontents. You have insinuated that as an Imam I had been cruel and tyrannical and that the punishment therefor is hell. This is uncharitable on your part. You have been- apparently led away by the false propaganda that is being carried by some persons who have their own axe-to grind. In my speech on the occasion of the Hajj in 655- C.E. I dealt with all the allegations that had been levelled against me. All the persons assembled corroborated what I had said. No one had the courage to stand up and say anything to the contrary. It is unfortunate that in Madina some further propaganda has been made. I have pondered over all what the people say, and I will talk about this further in the Prophet's mosque."

Uthman's address at the Prophet's mosque

On the following Friday, Uthman addressed the congregation in the Prophet's mosque. After praising God and the Holy Prophet, Uthman said:
"It has come to my notice that many false things are being said against me and my administration. You know after the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr became the Caliph and after him Umar became the Caliph. I served both of them, and they were happy with me. After Umar I was chosen as the Caliph. I swear by Allah that I did not covet the office. You know I was already very rich and the office of the Caliph could not be a matter of any material advantage for me. You know Umar was harsh and stern. He was not hard with the people alone; he was hard with his own person. May God bless him. His services to the cause of Islam cannot be forgotten. When I became the Caliph, I felt that the people wanted some change in policies. I consequently followed liberal policies and relaxed some of the harsh measures that had been in force in the time of Umar. I increased the stipends of the people. I withdrew the restraints that had been imposed in the time of Umar. The rule of any Imam is to be judged on the basis of the prosperity of the people. Look around you and say honestly whether you are not more prosperous today than what you were at the time of my succession. The Muslim dominions today are much more extensive than what they were twelve years ago. The people now are wealthier and richer than what they were before. As a result of military operations there has been much of booty. All such booty has been distributed among the people according to the formula laid down by the Holy Prophet. After such distributions there are ample funds in the Baitul Mal to meet our future needs. I have served the people to the best of my ability. It is however a matter of regret to note that instead of appreciating the good that I have done, a malicious propaganda is being carried out in some quarters to malign me. I chose to be kind and liberal. I tried to be a benevolent ruler. It is very unfortunate that undue advantage has been taken of my liberality and my kindness has been mistaken for my weakness. It is given out that I am weak and fickle, that I am led by others around me. It is true that I have some persons around me who help me in State affairs, but it is not correct that I play into their hands. I take all decisions myself. It is said that such and such persons are my evil genius who are leading me on the wrong path. Every person has the right to choose his own advisers, and if I have to my own satisfaction chosen certain persons as my advisers, it is not for any one to say that I should not have appointed such and such a person as my adviser. You merely cavil at persons; you do not bring out in specific terms what wrong has been done. You take pleasure in distorting facts. You give currency to rumors and do not care to verify facts. You say that I gave one lakh dirhams to Harith b Hakam out of the Baitul Mall I have married my son to his daughter and I gave him this money out of my pocket for financing the marriage. The money was not paid out of the Baitul Mall You say that I gave one lakh dirhams to Marwan b Hakam out of the Baitul Mall This is sheer falsehood. I have married my daughter to a son of Marwan and I gave one lakh dirhams in dowry. This money was paid out of my pocket and not from the Baitul Mall It is said that I paid Abdullah b Khalid 3 lakh dirhams from the Baitul Mall He has taken this money as a loan from the Baitul Mal and he will repay it according to the terms of the loan. It is said that I deposed Abdullah b Arqam from his office of the custodianship of the Baitul Mal because he had protested against my grants from the Baitul Mall There is no truth in this allegation. Abdullah b Arqam had held this office for the last twenty-five years, and being old he has retired of his own freewill. Again it is said that I have diverted funds from the Baitul Mal for the construction of private property. This is a tissue of falsehood. I have constructed my private property with my own money, and all know that I have ample resources of my own. It is alleged that I have gifted the entire surplus money in the Baitul Mal to Zaid b Thabit the new Treasurer. This is again a sheer lie. After distributing the money in the Baitul Mal, there was a surplus amount of 1,000 dirhams in the Baitul Mall I asked Zaid b Thabit to utilize this amount for some public purpose, and he utilized this amount for the repair of the Prophet's mosque.

O people I exhort you to fear God, and not to indulge in false propaganda. All the Muslims are one community. Do not create dissension among the Muslims. If you are tired of me, you may rest assured that being an old man, I do not have long to live. If you want me to abdicate, let you know that this is duly assigned to me by God, and I would never run away from duty whatever the pressure used against me. If you think of employing any force against me, you should be beware that I have my supporters who will support me through thick and thin. I appeal to you not to be misled by false rumors. I assure you of full justice. I expect justice from you. Do not be unnecessarily critical. If you have any legitimate grievance I will certainly redress it; if you are swayed by imaginary grievances, that would lead to mere confusion "

Revolt against Uthman

With the capture of power by Muhammad b Abu Hudhaifa in Egypt the stage was set for an open revolt against the caliphate of Uthman. In Kufa though Abu Musa Ashtari, as Governor, paid nominal allegiance to Uthman, he was really a nominee of the rebels, and could not go against their wishes. In Basra the Governor Abdullah b 'Aamir left for Hajj, and in his absence the affairs of the province fell into a state of confusion. Thus the three main provinces of Egypt, Kufa, and Basra came to be cut off from the caliphate of Uthman, and became the center of revolt.
In the month of Shawwal, a contingent of about 1,000 persons was sent from Egypt to Madina. These persons traveled in four separate groups, and gave out that they were going to perform the Hajj. They were fully armed, and their instructions were to overthrow the government of Uthman, and to murder him. The contingent was led by Amir Ghafqi b Harb. Ibn Saba accompanied the contingent as their general adviser.

Similar contingents marched from Kufa and Basra to Madina. The Kufa contingent was led by Ashtar Nakh'i while the contingent from Basra was led by Hakim b Jabala.

All these contingents converged on Madina according to a pre-arranged plan. Reaching the neighborhood of Madina the contingent from Egypt encamped at Dhil Marwah. The contingent from Basra encamped at Dukhshab, while the contingent from Kufa encamped at Ahwas. From these camps the contingents sent their representatives to one another for mutual consultation. They also sent their representatives to Madina to contact the leaders of public opinion The representatives of the contingent from Egypt waited on Ali, and offered him the caliphate in succession to Uthman. Ali turned down their offer. The representatives of the contingent from Kufa waited on Zubair, while the representatives of the contingent from Basra waited on Talha, and offered them their allegiance as the next Caliph. These offers were turned down. This move on the part of the rebels neutralized the bulk of public opinion in Madina. Madina could no longer offer a united front; it became a divided house. Uthman could enjoy the active support of the Umayyads, and a few other persons in Madina. The rest of the people of Madina chose to be neutral and help neither side. That was a big gain for the rebels. After surveying the situation in Madina, the rebels felt satisfied that the circumstances were favorable to the launching of their campaign for overthrowing the government of Uthman.

The campaign against Uthman

The accounts that have come down to us about the activities of the rebels are very much distorted and confused. The usual version is that Uthman appealed to Ali to intervene and use his influence with the rebels to prevail upon them to withdraw from Madina. It is related that Ali was critical of the conduct of Uthman, and Uthman gave a solemn undertaking that in future he would be guided by the counsels of Ali. It is said that Ali met the rebels, and prevailed upon them to retire from Madina. They agreed to do so, in case formal orders were passed by the Caliph for the deposition of Abdullah b Sa 'ad from the governorship of Egypt. Had rat Uthman passed the orders for the deposition of Abdullah b Sa'ad, and the appointment of Muhammad b Abu Bakr as the Governor of Egypt.

It is stated that on the demand of Ali, Uthman addressed the people in the Prophet's mosque; admitted his mistakes; prayed for the forgiveness of Allah and the people; and undertook to make amends within three days. It is said that on this occasion Uthman wept and the audience wept with him. The accounts continue that under the influence of Marwan b Hakam Uthman retracted from his repentance, and did not make any amends. Uthman and Ali had another meeting at which Ali accused Uthman of breach of faith. Ali felt deeply annoyed, and said that that was the parting of ways between them.

The accounts that have come down to us continue that when the rebels from Egypt proceeded a few stages from Madina they came across a slave of Uthman who was carrying a letter of Uthman to the Governor of Egypt commanding him not to give effect to the orders regarding his deposition, arrest the rebels and execute them. That made the rebels return to Madina. The rebels from Kufa and Basra returned likewise. It is stated that the rebels brought this breach of faith on the part of Uthman to the notice of the leaders of public opinion in Madina and invoked their assistance. Uthman admitted that the letter bore his official seal, but he denied all knowledge about the contents of the letter. It was contended that the letter was in the handwriting of Marwan. Marwan was however never confronted with the letter, and the accounts recorded in histories leave the matter about the contents of the letter unresolved.

Wary stages of the siege

When the rebels besieged the house of Uthman, the siege was not severe at the early stage. The rebels merely hovered around the house of Uthman, and did not place any restrictions on the movements of Uthman. Uthman went to the Prophet's mosque as usual, and led the prayers. Th' rebels offered prayers under the leadership of Uthman.

Uthman's address in the Prophet's mosque

On the first Friday after the siege, Uthman addressed the congregation in the mosque. After offering praises to God and the Holy Prophet, Uthman invited the attention of the people to the commandment in the Holy Quran requiring the people to obey God, His Apostle, and those in authority among them. He observed that the Muslims had been enjoined to settle all matters by mutual consultation. He said that he had kept the doors of consultation wide open. All the allegations that had been levelled against him had been duly explained by him, and shown to be false. He had expressed his readiness to solve the legitimate grievances of the people, if any. He observed that under the circumstances it was uncharitable on -the part of some persons to create disturbances in the city of the Holy Prophet. He said that he was not afraid of death, but he did not want the Muslims to be guilty of bloodshed. To him the solidarity of the Muslim community was very dear, and in order to prevent dissension among the Muslims he had instructed his supporters to refrain from violence. He wanted the people to be afraid of God, and not to indulge in activities subversive of Islam. He pointed out that the foreign powers smarting under their defeat inflicted by the Muslim arms had sponsored some conspiracies to subvert Islam. He warned the people not to play in the hands of the enemies of Islam. He appealed to the rebels to retire from Madina. He wanted the people of Madina to support the cause of truth and justice, and withhold their support from the rebels bent on mischief.

Rowdyism in the mosque

Some two or three persons from among the congregation stood up to assure Uthman of their support. They were manhandled by the rebels, and were forced to sit down. The rebels including 'Amr b Al 'Aas , 'Ammar b Yasir, and Muhammad b Abu Bakr raised their voices against Uthman. One Jabala b 'Amr Saahadi addressing Uthman said, "Beware you foolish old man, that unless you abdicate we will strangle you to death". When Uthman was addressing the congregation from the pulpit, one Jamjah Ghaffari seized the staff from the hands of Uthman, and broke it on his knees. Addressing Uthman, Jamjah Ghaffari insolently said that he had brought a dirty apparel and an old camel for Uthman to wear and ride, for he was no longer worthy of wearing the robes of the caliphate. Uthman merely dismissed him with the remarks, "May God curse you, and all that you have brought."

Some of the supporters of Uthman took up cudgels on behalf of Uthman. Hot words were exchanged between the parties. Tempers flared up on both the sides, and that led to the pelting of stones at one another. The state of complete rowdyism came to prevail in the mosque. One of the stones hit Uthman, and he fell unconscious. The gathering dissolved in a state of great disorder, and Uthman was carried to his house in a state of unconsciousness.

Intensification of the siege

The proceedings in the mosque showed to the rebels that Uthman did not enjoy the full support of the people of Madina. Apart from the Umayyads and a few other persons, most of the people of Madina preferred to be neutral and watch developments. When the rebels felt that the people of Madina were not likely to offer active support to Uthman, they changed their strategy, and tightened the siege of the house of Uthman. Uthman was denied the freedom to move about. He was not allowed to go to the mosque. Prayers in the mosque were now led by Amir Ghafiqi the leader of the rebels. Madina thus came to be in the full control of the rebels.

As days passed on, and no one came forward to oppose the rebels, they felt bold, and intensified their pressure against Uthman. They forbade the entry of any food or provisions into the house of Uthman. Then they placed an embargo even on the entry of water into the house of Uthman. Uthman had purchased a well with his money and dedicated it to the use of the Muslims, and now he was denied water from the well which belonged to him. Umm Habiba, a widow of the Holy Prophet, and a sister of Muawiyah came to see Uthman and brought some water and provisions for Uthman. She was not allowed to enter the house of Uthman. Ayesha made a similar attempt, and she was also prevailed upon by the rebels to go back.

Uthman and the Hajj

Uthman remained the Caliph for twelve years. During these twelve years, Uthman presided at the Hajj ceremonies personally for ten years. He could not perform the pilgrimage during the first year of his caliphate, as he was suffering from the oozing of blood from the nose. That year Abdur Rahman b Auf led the Muslims in Hajj on behalf of Uthman. Uthman could not perform the pilgrimage during the last year of his life, as he was besieged in his house by the rebels. On that occasion, Uthman appointed Abdullah b Abbas as the "Amir-ul-Hajj".

Uthman's letter to the pilgrims

Uthman addressed a letter to the pilgrims assembled at Makkah. This letter was entrusted to Abdullah b Abbas and he was required to read the letter at the gathering of the pilgrims at Makkah. This letter is contained in Zia Misri's book Uthman b Affan; and Taha Hussain s book Uthman. The letter reads:
"In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent. From Amirul Mominin Uthman to all

Muslims. Salutations.

After offering praise and glory to God, I wish you to turn to God Who had favored you, and chose Islam for you as your religion. Instead of waywardness, He gave you guidance. He released you from the bondage of Kufr. He armed you with guidance. He enlarged your sustenance. He made you victorious against your enemies. He showered His favors on you.
Allah says, "If you take the favors of God into account, you will find them too numerous to be counted. But man is rebellious and ungrateful by nature."
O believers have the fear of God in your hearts. Pray that when you die you die in Islam. Be united and hold fast to the cord of God";
Allah also says, "O believers, recall the favors of God. Keep in mind the covenant that you have made with Him of you obedience and faithfulness.,'
Allah says, "O ye believers, if any miscreant beings to you a news, fully verify it before accepting it as the truth."
Allah says that those who purchase this world are the losers and they will have nothing to their credit in the hereafter.
Fear Allah, and do not violate the pledges that you have taken.
Allah has enjoined you to obey Him, obey His Prophet and obey those in authority among you.
Those who believe and do good deeds, God has promised them the inheritance of the earth. Those who rebel against authority incur the wrath of God.
Allah said, "They who pledge allegiance to you pledge allegiance to Me. On them is My Hand."
In the light of these verses from the Holy Quran bear in mind that Allah is pleased with those who obey authority and who stand for unity and solidarity. Allah has condemned dissension and discord. He has brought home this point to us by narrating the stories of previous communities. Therefore act according to the injunctions of God, and be afraid of His punishment. If you ponder over history, it will be revealed to you that the previous communities were destroyed because they became victims of dissension. For the good of a people, there is no way other than this that they should have a head, in whose obedience they should be united. If you follow the way of discord and dissension, your community would disintegrate, and the enemy would come to dominate over you.
If all this comes to pass, then the religion of God would receive a set back, and the community would disintegrate into a number of sects. Allah told the Holy Prophet, "Have no concern with the people who have broken their unity and disintegrated into sects. Leave them to God. God will take them to task for their misdeeds "

I offer you the same advice as God has offered. I ask you to fear his punishment. Shuaib had told his people, "O people beware lest my opposition leads you to the same end as befell the communities of Noah, Hud, or Salih." Since some time past, some people from amongst us have tried to present themselves as the apostles of truth, who are not interested in the affairs of the world, and who have no axe to grind. But when they were presented with reality, some of them accepted the truth, but some o them disputed the truth. Some of them stood for falsehood, but they posed as if the truth lay with them. Such persons feel upset at my longevity. They covet power. They long for an immediate revolution. Such persons have written to you that they are waging the struggle against me to get their rights. I do not know of which rights I have divested them, which they now demand from me. They demanded that no one should be above the law. I told them that I fully agreed with them. I asked them to bring all cases to my notice and I assured them that the law would be enforced against all, high or low without any distinction. But they could bring no case to my notice where any person had defied the law and proper action had not been taken against him. They said that the injunctions of the Quran should be followed. I said that I wholeheartedly agreed with the demand but would not permit any innovation or deviation. The people demanded that the poor should get bread, the laborer should get his wages. I said that I was at one with them, and it is open to them to make their suggestions in the matter. They demanded that, in the matter of Sadaqa and Khums the right of early one should be protected. I said that I agreed with the demand and they were welcome to make their suggestions in that behalf. I saw the wives of the Holy Prophet, and agreed to act according to their advice. I have accepted all legitimate demands, but in spite of that I am being oppressed and harassed. I have been prevented from leading the prayers in the Prophet's mosque. The rioters have established their full control over Madina.
The rioters have put three alternatives before me. They demand Qasaas from me for all grievances that any person may have suffered because of any verdict passed by me as Caliph. Their other alternative is that I should abdicate so that they might choose another Caliph. The third alternative is that they should assemble the people who support them, and then repudiate the allegiance to my caliphate.

All these demands are preposterous. There have been rulers and Caliphs in history who had been vested with the authority to pass judgments. The judgments might be right or worn", but no body has the right to sit over such judgment and demand compensation. Such a demand is against all principles of jurisprudence. As regards the demand for abdication I hold myself responsible to God, and I cannot abandon my post at the behest of any one. The third alternative is ridiculous. No ruler in his senses would provide facilities to the rioters to rebel against him.

These people are apparently after my life, and their sole object appears to be to murder me. I have advised my supporters not to use any force. I do not want that the Muslim community should fall a victim to civil war. I will watch developments with due patience, and would await the decision of God. If I have to give my life in the way of Allah I would have no hesitation in making the sacrifice. I know that as Caliph I have done nothing wrong. Nevertheless I seek the forgiveness of Allah. May Allah forgive us all. May Allah have mercy on the Muslims.

Why no help from the Provinces

In his book Uthman, Taha Hussain has raised the issue why no help came from the provinces in time, when Uthman had made a formal appeal for help. Taha Hussain is inclined to the view that the people were tired of the long rule of Uthman, and they wanted a change. Taha Hussain has dropped hints that even Governors like Muawiyah who were devoted to Uthman deliberately delayed such help for political considerations.

Uthman's appeal for help

The letter which Uthman is reported to have sent to the provincial Governors for help, is to the following effect:

"All praise and glory is for Allah and His Prophet who showed us the right path. We were fortunate to be favored with Islam. Islam welded us into a single community. Islam gave us the message of unity. The Holy Prophet passed away after fulfilling his mission. After him his mission was carried by Abu Bakr and then by Umar. After Umar I was chosen as the Caliph. I never coveted the office, but when the people took the oath of allegiance to me, I felt myself under an obligation to administer the affairs of the State to the best of my ability. I performed the duties of my office conscientiously and during the earlier part of my rule, the people were satisfied. I allowed the people greater freedom, and more privileges. That was done in the best interests of the people. During my caliphate the people have become more prosperous. Instead of being grateful to me for my services to the cause of Islam, some people for some unknown reason have resorted to false propaganda and poisoned the atmosphere. I have made every possible effort to redress the legitimate grievances of the people. It is unfortunate that the malcontents do not come forward with any specific grievance. They make one demand today and make a contrary demand the following day without advancing any reason or argument. I have dealt with these people with due patience and forbearance, but their aim appears to be to subvert Islam by promoting disunity. I warn the Muslims in general against the activities of these persons who wish to weaken Islam as a social and political force. In this crisis in the affairs of the Muslims I seek the cooperation of all who are devoted to Islam. He who can side with us may do so."

Deepening of the crisis

With the departure of the pilgrims from Madina to Makkah, the hands of the rebels were further strengthened, and as a consequence the crisis deepened further. The rebels apprehended that after the Hajj, thc Muslims gathered at Makkah from all parts of the Muslim world might march to Madina to the relief of the Caliph. They therefore decided to take action against Uthman before the pilgrimage was over.

Mugheera b Shu'ba

It is related that during the course of the siege, Mugheera b Shu'ba went to Uthman, and placed three courses of action before him, firstly to go forth and fight against the rebels; secondly to mount a camel and go to Makkah; and thirdly to take himself to Syria. Uthman rejected all the three proposals He rejected the first proposal saying that he did not want to be the first Caliph during whose time blood is shed. He turned down the second proposal to escape to Makkah on the ground that he had heard from the Holy Prophet that a man of the Quraish would be buried in Makkah on whom would be half the chastisement of the world, and he did not want to be that person. He rejected the third proposal on the ground that he could not forsake the city of the Holy Prophet.

Abdullah b Salam

Abdullah b Salam, a companion visited the house of Uthman and he is reported to have addressed the besiegers as follows:

"Slay him not, for by Allah not a man among you shall slay him, but he shall meet the Lord mutilated without a hand, and verily the sword of God has continued sheathed, but surely by Allah if you slay him the Lord will indeed draw it, and will never sheath it from you. Never was a Prophet slain, but there were slain on account of him,70,000 persons, and never was a Caliph slain. but 35,000 Persons were killed on his account.

Nayyar b Ayyad

A companion Nayyar b Ayyad Aslami who joined the rebels exhorted them to enter the house and assassinate Uthman. When the rebels under the leadership of Nayyar b Ayyad advanced to rush into the house, Kathir b Salat Kundi a supporter of Uthman shot an arrow which killed Nayyar. That infuriated the rebels. They demanded that Kathir b Salat Kundi the man who had killed Nayyar should be handed over to them. Uthman said that he could not thus betray a person who had shot an arrow in his defense. That precipitated the matters. Uthman had the gates of the house shut. The gate was guarded by Hasan, Hussain, Abdullah b Zubair, Marwan and a few other persons. Open fighting now began between the rebels and the supporters of Uthman. There were some casualties among the rebels. Among the supporters of Uthman Hasan, Marwan and some other persons were wounded.

Assassination of Uthman

The rebels increased their pressure, and reaching the door of the house of Uthman set it on fire. Some rebels led by Muhammad b Abu Bakr climbed the houses of the neighbors and then jumped into the house of Uthman. It was the seventeenth day of July in the year 856 C.E. uthman was keeping the fast that day. The previous night he had seen the Holy Prophet in a dream. The Holy Prophet had said, "Uthman, break your fast with us this evening. We will welcome you". That made Uthman feel that it was his last day of life. He prepared himself for death. He sat reading the Holy, Quran, and his wife Naila sat by his side. Some rebels entered the room of Uthman, but they could not dare murder the Caliph. Then Muhammad b Abu Bakr entered the room and held the beard of Uthman. Uthman said that he was like a nephew to him, and he would be false to the memory of his father Abu Bakr if he contemplated any violence against him. That made Muhammad b Abu Bakr waver in his resolve, and he walked out of the room. Seeing this some of the rebels entered the room, and struck blows at the head of Uthman. Naila threw herself on the body of Uthman to protect him. She was pushed aside, and further blows were struck on Uthman till he was dead. From God he had come and to God he returned. He died while keeping the fast, and true to his dream he broke the fast in the company of the Holy Prophet that evening.
Some slaves of Uthman fell on the person whose blows had killed Uthman and killed him. There was some fighting between the rebels and the supporters of Uthman. There were casualties on both the sides. Rowdyism prevailed for some time, and the rebels looted the house. When the women raised loud lamentations over the dead body of Uthman, the rebels left the house.

The vengeance of the rioters

Even after the gruesome murder of Uthman, the rioters did not feel satisfied that they had taken the full revenge. They wanted to mutilate the dead body of Uthman. They were also keen that the dead body was denied burial. When some of the rioters came forward to mutilate the dead body of Uthman, his two widows covered the dead body, and raised loud lamentations which deterred the rioters from pursuing their nefarious design. Thereafter the rioters hovered round the house with a view to preventing the dead body being carried to the graveyard.

The funeral

The dead body of Uthman lay in the house for three days. Naila the wife of Uthman approached some of the supporters of Uthman to help in the burial of Uthman. Only about a dozen persons responded to the call. These included Marwan b Hakam, Zaid b Thabit,'Huwatib b Alfarah, Jabir b Muta'am, Abu Jahm b Hudaifa, Hakim b Hazam and Niyar b Mukarram. The dead body was lifted at dusk. In view of the blockade no coffin could be procured. The dead body was not washed as water was not available. Uthman was carried to the graveyard in the clothes that he was wearing at the time of his assassination. According to one account permission was obtained from Ali to bury the dead body. According to another account, no permission was obtained, and the dead body was carried to the graveyard in secret. According to another account when the rioters came to know that the dead body was being carried to the graveyard they gathered to stone the funeral, but Ali forbade them to resort to any such act, and they withdrew. According to one account Ali attended the funeral. There is however overwhelming evidence to the effect that Ali did not attend the funeral. Naila the widow of Uthman followed the funeral with a lamp, but in order to maintain secrecy the lamp had to be extinguished. Naila was accompanied by some women including Ayesha a daughter of Uthman.

The burial

The dead body was carried to "Baqi' al Farqad", the graveyard of Muslims. It appears that some persons gathered there, and they resisted the burial of Uthman in the graveyard of the Muslims. The supporters of Uthman insisted that the dead body would be buried in the graveyard of the Muslims. Those who were opposed to such burial grew in strength, and fearing lest such opposition might take a more ominous turn. the dead body of Uthman was taken to the neighboring graveyard of the Jews "Hush Kaukab", and buried there in a hurry. The funeral prayers were led by Jabir b Muta'am, and the dead body was lowered in the grave without much of ceremony. After burial, Naila the widow of Uthman and Ayesha the daughter of Uthman wanted to speak, but they were advised to remain quiet as danger was apprehended from the rioters.

Naila's letter

In her letter, Naila wrote:
"From Naila bint Farafsa to Amir Muawiyah b Abi Sufyan.
By this letter I call you to God Who showered His bounties on you; made you Muslims; showed you the light, and liberated you from kufr.

In the name of God I appeal to you to rise in the cause of Uthman who has been butchered mercilessly. By way of your relationship with him, the responsibility to avenge his blood devolves on you. It is the command of Allah that if there is bloodshed between two groups of Muslims you should strive for peace among them, but, if any group transgresses, take action against the rebels and kill them.

Some people rebelled against Uthman without just cause. You know what high position Uthman commanded in Islam. He was very close and dear to the Holy Prophet. He never coveted the caliphate. He was chosen as the Caliph by the people. During the twelve years of his office he worked day and night for the welfare of the people. During his caliphate extensive conquests were made. Immense wealth flowed into the public treasury. The stipends of the people were increased. The people became more prosperous. Instead of appreciating the benefits of his rule some miscreants because of ulterior considerations conspired against him. Uthman could have suppressed such agitation with force, but he refrained from using force against his people. As a true Muslim he resigned himself to the decree of God.

He satisfactorily explained all the allegations that were levelled against him. During the twelve years of his caliphate he did' not charge any thing for his emoluments from the public treasury. He spent large amounts from his own resources for public benefit. He was the richest man in Arabia at the time of becoming the caliph; after becoming the caliph his assets steadily diminished. False and frivolous charges of nepotism were levelled against him, he was a good judge of men and matters, and he appointed only such persons who enjoyed his confidence, and who could be expected to carry forward his policies.

The revolt against Uthman was the result of some antinational conspiracy. Some extraneous forces pulled the wires. Jealous of the triumphs of Islam they conspired to subvert Islam from within. What is regrettable is that even some eminent Companions played into the hands of these conspirators, and lent them their indirect support.

The rioters besieged the house of Uthman. They stood at the door fully armed. They did not allow any food or water to enter the house. We were denied the use of water from the well which Uthman had purchased with his own money. The rebels accepted the lead of Ali, Muhammad b Abu Bakr, Talha and Zubair in all matters. Among the rioters were the tribes of Khuza'ah, Sa'ad b Bakr, Hudhail, Jahina, and the Muzina They also included contingents from Basra and Kufa In the siege the rioters wounded Uthman with arrows. These persons killed some persons who wanted to fight against them in defense of the Caliph. The Caliph looked around him, but he could see no person in Madina from whom he could expect justice.

The rioters penetrated into the house. They burnt the gate, broke 'tine windows and looted property. Muhammad b Abu Bakr pulled the beard of the Caliph. Then one of the rioters struck Uthman on the head and he fell down unconscious. The rioters wanted to cut off his head. I and Bint Shiba threw ourselves on the body of Uthman. They pulled us away and robbed us of our ornaments.

I am sending you along with this letter the blood stained clothes of the Caliph. Please see that his blood does not go unavenged. May Allah have mercy on the soul of Uthman! May the curse of God be on his murderers!"

Ten distinctions

It is recorded on the authority of Abu Thaur al Fahami that he visited Uthman when he was besieged, and Uthman referred to his ten distinctions vis-a-vis Islam, namely: He was one of the first four converts to Islam. He had the distinction of marrying two daughters of the Holy Prophet. He had not applied his hand to worldly use since he had offered allegiance to the Holy Prophet. He liberated a slave every week. He never committed fornication. He never committed a sin. He preserved the text of the Holy Quran. He was one of the ten persons who were given the tidings of paradise during their lifetime. He freely spent his wealth in the way of Allah. The Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar were happy with him.

Unique distinction

Uthman had the unique distinction of having married two daughters of the Holy Prophet, one after the other. On account of this honor he came to be known as "Dhun Nurain"-the Possessor of two luminaries.

The first Umayyads

Uthman was the first among the Umayyads to become a Muslim. The Umayyads and the Hashimite were rival sections of the Quraish. Uthman was the first to rise above such rivalry by offering allegiance to the Holy Prophet who was a Hashimite.

Tidings of paradise

The Holy Prophet gave the tidings of paradise to ten persons in their lifetime. Uthman was one of these ten persons called Ashra Mubashshara Over and above this, Uthman was given the tidings of paradise on three other occasions; when he purchased the "B'er Rauma" well and dedicated it to the use of the Muslims; when he financed the project for the extension of the Prophet's mosque at Madinah, and when he made a liberal contribution for the financing of the expedition to Tabuk.

Resemblance to Abraham and the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Prophet declared on several occasions that among the Muslims, Uthman resembled Abraham and the Holy Prophet himself most.

Embellishment of mosques and the Holy Ka'aba

Uthman was the first Caliph to extend and embellish the Prophet's mosque at Madina. and the Holy Ka'aba at Makkah.

Khyber campaign

In the Khyber campaign, Uthman was the first to climb the castle of the Jews.

Baiyat-ur-Ridwan

On the occasion of the Hudaiybiya campaign, the Holy Prophet chose Uthman as his emissary to the Quraish. On the occasion of Baiyat-ur-Ridwan, the Holy Prophet took the pledge on behalf of Uthman, and this was a unique honor not shared by any one else.

Uniform text of the Holy Quran

Uthman had the unique distinction of uniting the Muslim community on a uniform dialect of the Holy Quran.

The first to learn the Holy Quran by heart

He was the first person among the Muslims to learn the Holy Quran by heart.

The first to divorce non-Muslim wives

He was the first person among the Muslims to divorce his wives who did not accept Islam.

The first to migrate

Uthman was the first person among the Muslims to migrate in the way of Allah.

The first to command the first call to prayer

Uthman was the first to command the first call to prayer.

Pronouncement of the Takbir

Uthman was the first to lower his voice in pronouncing the Takbir.

Eid prayer
Uthman was the first who made the discourse precede the Eid prayer.

Lifetime of his mother

Uthman was the first person among the Muslims to become the Caliph during the lifetime of his mother.

Meals during the Ramadan

Uthman was the first Caliph who provided meals for all persons during the month of fasting.

Stipends for the Muadhdhins

Uthman was the first Caliph who allowed stipends for the Muadhdhins.

Naval action

Uthman was the first Caliph under whom the Muslims constructed fleets. and undertook naval warfare.
 

Longest rule

Among the rightly guided Caliphs, Uthman was the longest lived, and his rule was the longest.

The richest Caliph


Among the rightly guided Caliphs, Uthman was the richest.

Liberation of slaves

Uthman liberated the largest number of slaves. It is recorded that he used to liberate a slave every week.

The first Caliph to be assassinated

Uthman was the first Caliph to be assassinated by the Muslims.

Immunity from judgment

Uthman was the only person about whom the Holy Prophet granted general immunity with regard to future judgment. On the occasion of the expedition to Tabuk the Holy Prophet declared that Uthman was not to be judged for any acts that he did thereafter.

Traditions reported by Uthman

Uthman was very close to the Holy Prophet. Uthman reported about 150 traditions of the Holy Prophet. Hereunder we refer to some of the traditions reported by Uthman:

Entry to paradise

Uthman reported that God's Messenger said, "Whoever dies knowing that there is no god but Allah will enter paradise".

Grave as the first stage of the next world

Uthman reported that God's Messenger said, that the grave is the first stage of the next world. If one escapes from it, what follows is easier than it, but if one does not escape from it, what follows is more severe than it. The Holy Prophet also said: "I have never seen a sight as horrible as the grave."

Details about the ablutions

Uthman reported that the Holy Prophet performed each detail of the ablution three times end said: '.This is how I perform the ablutions. This is how the Prophets before me Performed it. and how Abraham performed it."

Performance of the prayers in company

Uthman reported that God's Messenger said: "If any one performs the evening prayer in company, it is as if he had remained awake in prayer half the night, but if any one prays the morning prayer in company, it is as if he had prayed the whole night."

Building a mosque

Uthman reported that God's Messenger said: "If any one builds a mosque for God, God will build a house for him in the paradise."

Who is a hypocrite

Uthman reported that God's Messenger said: "If the Adhan is called when any one is in the mosque, and he goes out for any other reason than some necessary purpose, not intending to return he is a hypocrite.

The best among the Muslims

Uthman reported that the Holy Prophet said: "The best among the Muslims is one who learns and teaches the Quran."

A day on the frontier

Uthman reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "A day on the frontier in God's path is better than a thousand days in any other place."

Modesty of Uthman

In the traditions it is stated on the authority of Ayesha that one day the Holy Prophet was reclining in her chamber in an informal mood, Abu Bakr and then Umar came to see the Holy Prophet, and he saw them while reclining in the informal mood. Then Uthman sought permission to see the Holy Prophet. Before permitting Uthman to enter the chamber the Holy Prophet gathered his clothes, and sat in a formal mood. After the visitors had left, Ayesha asked the Holy Prophet as to why he was formal about Uthman, while he was not so in the case of Abu Bakr and Umar. The Holy Prophet said: "Uthman is very modest and shy, and if I had been informal with him, he would not have said what he had wanted to say".

On another occasion the Holy Prophet said: "Why should I not be bashful before whom even the angels stand abashed".

According to another tradition recorded on the authority of Ibn Umar, the Holy Prophet said: "Verily, the angels stand abashed before Uthman as they stand abashed before God and His Prophet."

Baiyat ur Ridwan

On the occasion of Baiyat ur Ridwan when the Holy Prophet took the oath of allegiance on behalf of Uthman, he said: "Verily, Uthman is employed in the requirements of God and the needs of the Apostle. May God bless him"

Actions without merit

Uthman said. that four things were useless, and these were: Knowledge without practice; Wealth without expenditure in the way of Allah; Piety for the sake of show prompted by worldliness; Long life with no stock of good deeds.

The things he loved

Uthman said that he loved three things, namely: To feed the hungry; To clothe the naked; To read and teach the Holy Quran.

Fear God

In his addresses, Uthman tried to inculcate in the people the fear of God. He said, "Fear God, for to Him you are to be gathered".

Patience

Uthman highlighted the virtues of patience in the following terms:
"Under all circumstances, a person should be patient, otherwise disgrace would be his lot".
 

Essential things

Uthman held the following four things as essential: To associate with the worthy is laudable, but to follow them is essential. To read the Holy Quran is virtue, but to act according to its injunctions is essential. To visit the sick is meritorious, but to cause them to make their behests is essential, To visit the shrines of holy men is piety, but to be prepared for death is essential.

His surprise at the conduct of persons

Uthman said that he was surprised at the conduct of a person: Who knows the world to be transient, yet loves it; Who knows death to be certain, yet does not take it seriously; Who believes in hell, yet commits sin; Who believes in the existence of God, yet seeks assistance from others, Who is aware of paradise, yet is engaged in worldly pleasures; Who knows Satan to be his enemy, yet obeys its dictates; Who believes in predestination, Yet feels aggrieved with what happens; Who knows that account is to be rendered on the day of resurrection' Yet hoards wealth.

Fears for a man of piety

A man of faith and piety is always subject to the following fears: the fear of God, lest by any disobedience there is any faltering in faith; the fear of the angels lest they may record anything against you which may be a cause of remorse for you on the day of resurrection; the fear of the Satan lest he may tempt you to any evil. the fear of the angel of death, lest your life is taken before you have sought pardon for you sins; the fear of the world, lest by its temptation it makes you oblivious of the next world; and the fear of the family members lest by your attachment to them you become oblivious to your duty to God.

Justice

Uthman laid down the criteria for justice in the following terms: "The dictates of justice demand that a proper equation should be maintained between the rights and obligations of the people. Whatever is their right should be conceded to them, and steps should be taken to ensure that whatever is their obligation is duly fulfilled?'.

Guidance from the Holy Quran

Uthman said, "He who makes the Book of God as his guide would remain safe from sin, and he would be counted among the best of men".

Rights of the people

Uthman said: "Allah has created the people to establish the truth and do the right. Allah accepts only what is true and right. Therefore give to the people what is their right and is due to them, and see that they perform whatever are their obligations to Islam".

Knowledge

Uthman said: "That knowledge is of no avail which is not put into practice. There can be no practice without knowledge and any knowledge without putting it to practice is useless. That knowledge is blameworthy which is used solely to acquire wealth".

Uthman's piety

Uthman was most virtuous and pious. He spent a greater part of the night in prayers. He would recite the whole of the Quran during one night.

Uthman's charity

Uthman spent liberally in the way of God. He purchased the Bir Rauma well from a Jew and dedicated it to public use. He financed the project for the extension of the Prophet's mosque. He met a greater part of the expenses for the financing of the expedition to Tabuk. In the event of a famine the traders in Madina offered to purchase his stock of food grains after allowing him considerable profit. He distributed the entire stock among the people free, and declared that thereby he would earn a ten times profit from God. which no merchant could offer him.

Political policies of Uthman

Uthman was temperamentally democrat, kind, liberal and generous. He could not therefore maintain the autocratic policies followed by Umar. Uthman relaxed most of the restrictions that had been imposed on the people by Umar. He allowed the Companions to leave Madina at their discretion. He allowed the Arabs to acquire lands in conquered territories. Uthman removed the restrictions on trade. Consequently the Quraish amassed considerable fortune. With such fortune the Quraish acquired large estates in Iraq. That caused some discontentment among the Iraqis. Realizing the importance of agricultural lands, the army raised the demand that the lands in the conquered territories should be distributed among them. Uthman deposed some Governors because of the requirements of the State. Profiting from the kinds nature of Uthman the deposed functionaries collected groups of people round them, and they began to indulge in the criticism of Uthman. Availing of the freedoms that had been allowed under Uthman some movements were launched. e.g. the movement of Ibn Saba which aimed at the subversion of Islam from within.
Under Uthman, the people became economically more prosperous and on the political plane they came to enjoy a larger degree of freedom. No institutions were devised to channelize political activity, and in the absence of such institutions, the pre-Islamic tribal jealousies and rivalries which had been suppressed under Islam erupted once again. The people ceased to see things from the higher Islamic point of view; they came to be prompted by personal and parochial considerations. Differences between the Quraish and the Ansar grew sharper. While the older generation among the Ansar preferred to remain quiet, the younger generation among the Ansar became restive, and they felt dissatisfied at the dominance of the Quraish. Among the Quraish, the differences between the Umayyads and the Hashimite became threatening in character. The Bedouin Arabs chafed at the centralization of power at Madina. With the extension in conquests, population grew, and then on Arabs joined the fold of Islam in large numbers.

Differences grew between the Muslims and the non-Muslims, the Arabs and the non-Arabs. With the growth of population and economic prosperity cities grew. The unscrupulous elements made the cities the hot beds of sedition and discontentment. Under Uthman Fustat, Kufa, and Basra became the three principal centers from where revolt was led against Uthman.


In view of the democratic and liberal policies adopted by Uthman the liberties allowed to the people soon degenerated into licence, and such licence became a headache for the State which culminated in the assassination of Uthman. Uthman fell a victim to the tyrannies of his people not because his rule was tyrannical or unjust, but because in advance of his time, he aspired to be kind and liberal in an age suited for an autocratic rule alone. When the caliphate later gave place to a hereditary monarchical order that was a confession of the fact that in that age of autocracy the caliphate system based on the principles of democracy and liberalism could not prosper.

Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure. As the caliphate of Uthman ended with his assassination we are precluded from concluding that Uthman's policies were successful. The blame for the failure of such policies, however, does not lie on Uthman. He was a well meaning noble hearted Muslim, and he acted in the best interests of Islam and the State. If in spite of his good intentions he failed as a ruler that was due to the fact that he was in advance of the times and was too democrat, too liberal, and too virtuous.

Assessment

Unfortunately, history has not done proper justice to Uthman. Extensive conquests were made during the caliphate of Uthman. While sufficient details are available about the conquests made during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, and Umar, no details are available about the conquests made during the caliphate of Uthman. A greater part of Spain was conquered during the time of Uthman but surprisingly no details are available in this behalf, and even the names of the territories occupied by the Muslims are not known. It appears that most of the history books were written during the Abbasid period, and the tendency with the pro-Abbasid writers was to suppress the achievements of the Umayyads, and the history of the period of Uthman was mutilated because Uthman was an Umayyad.

Shia writers have been very loud in their criticism of Uthman. Even a writer like Ameer Ali has condemned Uthman as an old man, feeble in character, and quite unequal to the task of Government. The view is obviously biased and therefore unfair.

The Sunni writers were supposed to take a favorable view of the caliphate of Uthman, but as history books were mostly written during the Abbasid period, and the Abbasids were opposed to the Umayyads, the tendency with pro-Abbasid writers was to suppress the achievements of the caliphate of Uthman simply because he was an Umayyad.

The source books that have come down to us are loaded with so much material unfavorable to Uthman, that some of the Sunni writers when writing about Uthman took the apologetic way of approach, and shifted the blame to Marwan and other Umayyads around Uthman. These writers have purposely or otherwise projected the view that Uthman was himself virtuous and honest and the Umayyads who were close to Uthman were his evil genius, Sir William Muir's view is that such allegations are frivolous, and are merely due to party calumny.

We do not have many books about the biography of Uthman. In Pakistan only two books in Urdu are available on the subject. One is a book by Raza Misri and the other is a book by Taha Hussain. Taha Hussain has not furnished much of biographical details about Uthman. A greater part of the book is devoted to the justification of the agitation against Uthman. Raza Misri has given some biographical details, but his impressions about the activities of Uthman are on the whole unfavorable.

Unfortunately I have not come across any publication containing an objective assessment of Uthman or his caliphate. As I have studied the history of the period, and studied the facts as an impartial historian my impression is that much of the criticism that was levelled against Uthman was misplaced, and the agitation against him was the result of a conspiracy sponsored by foreign powers with a view to subverting Islam from within.

Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure. As the caliphate of Uthman came to an end in chaos and confusion culminating in his assassination, we cannot regard his rule as a Caliph to be a success. As a man Uthman was not liable to any reproach; he was an embodiment of all the good qualities that a good Muslim should have. He was, however, not successful as a ruler. That was not so because of any lapse or weakness on his part; that was so because he was ahead of the times. Umar, his predecessor, ruled with a strong hand, and in this way, he kept the democratic tendencies of the Arabs under control. Uthman tried to rule as a democrat, and in the absence of any safeguards to restrain the people from indulging in false propaganda, the liberties of the people degenerated into licence, and brought the Muslim polity to grief. Uthman did not succeed as the Caliph not because he was weak or he favored his relatives, but because he was kind to the people, and the people took undue advantage of his kindness.

His generosity

He was most generous and for his generosity he was called Uthman, the Ghani. He helped his relatives liberally. He was very particular in helping the orphans and the widows He allowed them liberal stipends. On the occasion of the expedition to Tabuk, the Holy Prophet invited contributions from his followers. Uthman made the greatest contribution. The Holy Prophet gave Uthman the tidings of paradise for his unbounded generosity.

His wisdom and foresight

Uthman was a man of great wisdom and foresight During the time of Umar, Amir Muawiyah had sought his permission to invade Cypress. Umar refused the permission on the ground that he did not want to expose the Muslims to the perils of the sea. Amir Muawiyah repeated the request when Uthman became the Caliph Uthman gave the permission subject to the condition that in the case of such invasion Muawlyah should take his wife with him. The idea was that if Muawiyah took his wife with him that would be indicative of the fact that no peril was involved in the sea journey.
Once a person came to Uthman after he had made love to a woman. Seeing him Uthman said. "People come to me when their eyes betray their passion." The man said, "Has the revelation not ceased after the Holy Prophet; then how is it that you judge of what I have been doing?" Uthman said, "This is not revelation; this is insight born of faith' .

Fear of God

Uthman always had a great fear of God. He exhorted the functionaries of the State to fear God and do justice to all concerned. In his sermons Uthman always exhorted the people to do good deeds which could stand them in good stead in the world hereafter. Whenever Uthman passed a graveyard he would weep bitterly. When asked to explain the reason for his weeping he said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say that. the grave was the first stage to the next world, and if that stage passed off peacefully, there would be little trouble at the succeeding stages.

His munificence

Uthman was known for his munificence. He was very kind hearted. He could not bear to see any one in distress. He liberally helped those in distress or in straitened circumstances. He cared for widows and orphans. He was very kind and considerate to his relatives. He took pleasure in helping them. He was one of the most kind hearted rulers the world has ever seen. He was however in advance of his age. His kindness and generosity was misconstrued as his weakness. It is unfortunate that he was misunderstood and betrayed by the people for whom he was more than a father.

His beneficent activities

He was always in the forefront in the undertaking of beneficent activities. When the Muslims came to Madina there was only one well of sweet water in the city which belonged to a Jew who imposed restrictions on the use of the well by the Muslims. Uthman purchased the well from the Jew and dedicated it to the use of the Muslims. When after the conquest of Makkah, the people came to accept Islam in large numbers, and the need for the extension of the Prophet's mosque was keenly felt Uthman exclusively financed the project for the extension of the mosque. In the time of Umar a severe famine broke out in the country and there was a great scarcity of food grains. At that time a caravan arrived in Madina which brought a large stock of food grains belonging to Uthman. The traders in Madina rushed to the house of Uthman, and tried to prevail upon him to sell the goods to them at profit. Uthman asked them to offer their bid about the profit that they would give him. The highest bid offered provided for a cent per cent profit. Uthman said that he could not accept their offer as the bid was low. The traders said that no body could give a higher bid than that. Uthman said that he already had an offer often times profit. The traders wanted to know as to who had made such a high offer. Uthman said that Allah had made such offer to him. There upon Uthman donated the entire stock to the State for free distribution among the poor and the needy.

His steadfastness

Uthman was known for the firmness and steadfastness of his faith When he was converted to Islam. His uncle Hakam, his mother Urwa, and other family members put great pressure on him to recant from Islam and revert to the faith of his forefathers. Uthman did not yield to such pressure and remained firm and steadfast in his faith in Islam. When in his last days, Uthman was besieged by the rioters in his house at Madina he was assured that if he abdicated no physical harm would come to him. He refused to abdicate because he held that he could not divest himself of the robe with which God had vested him. He preferred to lay down his life rather than compromise with the principles for which he stood.

His principles

Uthman was a man of principles. He held fast to his principles through thick and thin. He refused to abdicate because such abdication was against his principles. When he was besieged and some persons devoted to him wanted to fight against the rebels he forbade them to take up arms in his defense, because as a matter of principle he did not want to involve his people in a civil war. When he was asked to escape from his house through the backdoor, he held that such a course was not in conformity with his dignity as the Caliph of the Muslims. When asked to go to Syria, he said that he could not leave the city of the Holy Prophet.

Allegations against Uthman

According to the accounts that have come down to us the main allegations against Uthman were that he had appointed the Umayyads to high offices; that he had allowed liberal grants out of the Baitul Mal to his favorites; and that he had played into the hands of unscrupulous persons. I have discussed all these allegations in the earlier part of this book.

My conclusion is that there is no force in these allegations.
 

This means that most of the allegations are false, and if any allegation is factually correct, Uthman was justified in doing whatever he did.

With Thanks:
Excerpted and Edited from:
http://www.alim.org/library/biography/khalifa/KUT







Website Builder