Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Third Caliph, Uthman (644-656 A.C.)

Uthman's Election

When Umar was stabbed,the Muslims asked him to appoint a successor for him but he refused. They insisted, so he mentioned six of the Sahabah. After his death, the nominees appointed one of them as a representative who was Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf. He referred to the opinion of the Muslims and consulted them. Then he declared the bay'ah to Uthman. The Muslims stood up and gave their pledge to Uthman, and their by he became a Khalif by the pledge of the Muslims and not by the announcement of Abdul Rahman. In the following two Hadiths Umar first does not appoint anyone and in the next Hadith Umar mentioned the name of the six people. In Muslim he reported the same thing in a different Hadith. But from both, Al-Bukhari and Muslim, we find that Umar appointed the six people after the Sahabah insisted on him to do so.

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: It was said to 'Umar, "Will you appoint your successor?" Umar said, "If I appoint a Caliph (as my successor) it is true that somebody who was better than I (i.e., Abu Bakr) did so, and if I leave the matter undecided, it is true that somebody who was better than I (i.e., Allah's Apostle) did so." On this, the people praised him. 'Umar said, "People are of two kinds: Either one who is keen to take over the Caliphate or one who is afraid of assuming such a responsibility. I wish I could be free from its responsibility in that I would receive neither reward nor retribution I won't bear the burden of the caliphate in my death as I do in my life."

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Amr bin Maimun when Umar was stabbed to death: "The people realized that he would die... The people said (to 'Umar), "O chief of the believers! Appoint a successor." Umar said, "I do not find anyone more suitable for the job than the following persons or group whom Allah's Apostle had been pleased with before he died." Then 'Umar mentioned 'Ali, 'Uthman AzZubair, Talha, Sad and 'Abdur-Rahman (bin Auf) and said,"Abdullah bin 'Umar will be a witness to you, but he will have no share in the rule.

His being a witness will compensate him for not sharing the right of ruling. If Sad becomes the ruler, it will be alright: otherwise, whoever becomes the ruler should seek his help, as I have not dismissed him because of disability or dishonesty." 'Umar added, "I recommend that my successor takes care of the early emigrants; to know their rights and protect their honour and sacred things. I also recommend that he be kind to the Ansar who had lived in Medina before the emigrants and Belief had entered their hearts before them.

I recommend that the (ruler) should accept the good of the righteous among them and excuse their wrong-doers, and I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns (Al-Ansar), as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and the source of annoyance to the enemy. I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent. I also recommend that he do good to the 'Arab bedouin, as they are the origin of the 'Arabs and the material of Islam.

He should take from what is inferior, amongst their properties and distribute that to the poor amongst them. I also recommend him concerning Allah's and His Apostle's protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfil their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability." So when 'Umar expired, we carried him out and set out walking. 'Abdullah bin 'Umar greeted ('Aisha) and said,"'Umar bin Al-Khattab asks for the permission." 'Aisha said, "Bring him in." He was brought in and buried beside his two companions.

When he was buried, the group (recommended by 'Umar) held a meeting. Then 'Abdur-Rahman said, "Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you." Az-Zubair said, "I give up my right to Ali." Talha said, "I give up my right to 'Uthman," Sad, 'I give up my right to 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf." Abdur-Rahman thensaid (to 'Uthman and 'Ali), "Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses." So both the sheiks (i.e. 'Uthman and 'Ali) kept silent.

'Abdur-Rahman said, "Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?" They said, "Yes." So 'Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. 'Ali) and said, "You are related to Allah's Apostle and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select 'Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him." Then he took the other (i.e. 'Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When 'Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, "O 'Uthman! Raise your hand." So he (i.e. 'Abdur-Rahman) gave him (i.e. 'Uthman) the solemn pledge, and then 'Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the (Medina) people gave him the pledge of allegiance.

The details of what Abdul Rahman did is clear in the next narration. Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Al-Miswar bin Makhrama: The group of people whom 'Umar had selected as candidatesfor the Caliphate gathered and consulted each other. Abdur-Rahman said to them, "I am not going to compete with you in this matter, but if you wish, I would select for you a caliph from among you."

So all of them agreed to let 'Abdur-Rahman decide the case. So when the candidates placed the case in the hands of 'Abdur-Rahman, the people went towards him and nobody followed the rest of the group nor obeyed any after him. So the people followed 'Abdur-Rahman and consulted him all those nights till there came the night we gave the oath of allegiance to 'Uthman. Al-Miswar (bin Makhrama) added: 'Abdur-Rahman called on me after a portion of the night had passed and knocked on my door till I got up, and he said to me, "I see you have been sleeping! By Allah, during the last three nights I have not slept enough.

Go and call Az-Zubair and Sa'd.' So I called them for him and he consulted them and then called me saying, 'Call 'Ali for me." I called 'Ali and he held a private talk with him till very late at night, and then 'Al, got up to leave having had much hope (to be chosen as a Caliph) but 'Abdur-Rahman was afraid of something concerning 'Ali. 'Abdur-Rahman then said to me, "Call 'Uthman for me."

I called him and he kept on speaking to him privately till the Mu'adhdhin put an end to their talk by announcing the Adhan for the Fajr prayer. When the people finished their morning prayer and that (six men) group gathered near the pulpit, 'Abdur-Rahman sent for all the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar present there and sent for the army chief who had performed the Hajj with 'Umar that year. When all of them had gathered, 'Abdur-Rahman said, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah," and added, "Now then, O 'Ali, I have looked at the people's tendencies and noticed that they do not consider anyboy equal to 'Uthman, so you should not incur blame (by disagreeing). "Then 'Abdur-Rahman said (to 'Uthman), "I gave the oath of allegiance to you on condition that you will follow Allah's Laws and the traditions of Allah's Apostle and the traditions of the two Caliphs after him." So 'Abdur-Rahman gave the oath of allegiance to him, and so did the peopleincluding the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar and the chiefs of the army staff and all the Muslims.

Uthman's Life

Uthman bin Affan was born seven years after the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). He belonged to the Omayyad branch of the Quraish tribe. He learned to read and write at an early age, and as a  Islam Uthman had been noted for his truthfulness and integrity. He and Abu Bakr were close friends, and it was Abu Bakr who brought him to Islam when he was thirty-four years of age. Some years later he married the Prophet's second daughter, Ruqayya. In spite of his wealth and position, his relatives subjected him to torture because he had embraced Islam, and he was forced to emigrate to Abyssinia. Some time later he returned to Mecca but soon migrated to Medina with the other Muslims. In Medina his business again began to flourish and he regained his former prosperity. Uthman's generosity had no limits. On various occasions he spent a great portion of his wealth for the welfare of the Muslims, for charity and for equipping the Muslim armies. That is why he came to be known as 'Ghani' meaning 'Generous.'

Uthman's wife, Ruqayya was seriously ill just before the Battle of Badr and he was excused by the Prophet (peace be on him) from participating in the battle. The illness Ruqayya proved fatal, leaving Uthman deeply grieved. The Prophet was moved and offered Uthman the hand of another of his daughters, Kulthum. Because he had the high privilege of having two daughters of the Prophet as wives Uthman was known as 'The Possessor of the Two Lights. '

Uthman participated in the Battles of Uhud and the Trench. After the encounter of the Trench, the Prophet (peace be on him) determined to perform Hajj and sent Uthman as his emissary to the Quraish in Mecca, who detained him. The episode ended in a treaty with the Meccans known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya.

The portrait we have of Uthman is of an unassuming, honest, mild, generous and very kindly man, noted especially for his modesty and his piety. He often spent part of the night in prayer, fasted every second or third day, performed hajj every year, and looked after the needy of the whole community. In spite of his wealth, he lived very simply and slept on bare sand in the courtyard of the Prophet's mosque. Uthman knew the Qur'an from memory and had an intimate knowledge of the context and circumstances relating to each verse.

Uthman's Caliphate

During Uthman's rule the characteristics of Abu Bakr's and Umar's caliphates - impartial justice for all, mild and humane policies, striving in the path of Allah, and the expansion of Islam - continued. Uthman's realm extended in the west to Morocco, in the east to Afghanistan, and in the north to Armenia and Azerbaijan. During his caliphate a navy was organized, administrative divisions of the state were revised, and many public projects were expanded and completed. Uthman sent prominent Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) as his personal deputies to various provinces to scrutinize the conduct of officials and the condition of the people.

Uthman's most notable contribution to the religion of Allah was the compilation of a complete and authoritative text of the Qur'an. A large number of copies of this text were made and distributed all over the Muslim world.

Uthman ruled for twelve years. The first six years were marked by internal peace and tranquility, but during the second half of his caliphate a rebellion arose. The Jews and the Magians, taking advantage of dissatisfaction among the people, began conspiring against Uthman, and by publicly airing their complaints and grievances, gained so much sympathy that it became difficult to distinguish friend from foe.

It may seem surprising that a ruler of such vast territories, whose armies were matchless, was unable to deal with these rebels. If Uthman had wished, the rebellion could have been crushed at the very moment it began. But he was reluctant to be the first to shed the blood of Muslims, however rebellious they might be. He preferred to reason with them, to persuade them with kindness and generosity. He well remembered hearing the Prophet (peace be on him) say, "Once the sword is unsheathed among my followers, it will not be sheathed until the Last Day."

The rebels demanded that he abdicate and some of the Companions advised him to do so. He would gladly have followed this course of action, but again he was bound by a solemn pledge he had given to the Prophet. "Perhaps Allah will clothe you with a shirt, Uthman" the Prophet had told him once, "and if the people want you to take it off, do not take it off for them." Uthman said to a well-wisher on a day when his house was surrounded by the rebels, "Allah's Messenger made a covenant with me and I shall show endurance in adhering to it."

After a long siege, the rebels broke into Uthman's house and murdered him. When the first assassin's sword struck Uthman, he was reciting the verse, "Verily, Allah sufficeth thee; He is the All-Hearing,the All-Knowing" [Qur'an 2:137]

Uthman breathed his last on the afternoon of Friday, 17 Dhul Hijja, 35 A.H. (June. (656 A.C.). He was eighty-four years old. The power of tHe rebels was so great that Uthman's body lay unburied until Saturday night when he was buried in his blood-stained clothes, the shroud which befits all martyrs in the cause of Allah.

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