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Uthman bin Affan (r.a.)

Uthman bin Affan (r.a.)

Hz. Uthman, who was the third caliph of the Prophet and an example of modesty and good manners, was one of the lucky people who were promised Paradise when they were alive. Hz. Abu Bakr started to convey the message of the true religion to his sincere friends first by visiting them. One of those friends was Hz. Uthman. Hz. Uthman was a lenient, gentle and honest person with high ethics. His character was suitable for accepting Islam. He listened to Hz. Abu Bakr carefully and became very interested in with what he said. Then, they went to the presence of the Messenger of Allah together.

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Hz. Uthman:

“Seek Paradise, which is a grant of Allah. I was sent as a guide to find the right path to you and to the whole mankind. There is no god but Allah.“ Then, he read some verses from the Quran.

Hz. Uthman was fascinated by the divine speech. He uttered kalima ash-shahada and became a Muslim. Afterwards, he expressed his feelings as follows:

“The first words I heard from the tongue of the Messenger of Allah were so pure, plain and impressive that I uttered kalima ash-shahada on impulse.“

Hz. Uthman was 34 years old when he became a Muslim. He was a young, influential tradesman. He was well off. When his uncle, Hakam bin Abi’l-As, found out that Uthman became a Muslim, he went crazy. He tied Uthman to a post and said,

“I will not give you any food if you do not abandon this religion.“ However, another relative of Hakam’s understood that he would not abandon it even if he was killed and made him release Uthman. [ Tabaqat, 3: 55; Insanu’l-Uyun, 1: 446; Istiab, 4: 221 ]

Before the advent of Islam, Abu Lahab’s son, Utba, was married to Ruqiyya, the daughter of the Prophet. When Utba heard that the Prophet propagated a new religion, he said to the Prophet (pbuh),

“I do not want your daughter and your religion. Thus, he divorced Hz. Ruqiyya. Thereupon, Hz. Uthman asked to marry Ruqiyya and married her.

Hz. Uthman and Ruqiyya were among the 15-people group that migrated to Abyssinia due to the oppression of the polytheists.  When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) heard that Hz. Uthman set off before everybody, he said,

“Their friend and owner is Allah. Uthman is the first person to migrate with his family after Lut (Lot).“

After staying in Abyssinia for a while, Hz. Uthman, returned to Makkah with his wife. After that, he migrated to Madinah.

The most distinct quality of Hz. Uthman was his bashfulness and modesty. According to a narration of Hz. Aisha, the Messenger of Allah was once resting covered in a blanket. Meanwhile Hz. Abu Bakr arrived and asked permission to enter the house. The Messenger of Allah allowed him in without changing his position; he asked a question and left. After a while, Hz. Umar arrived. The Messenger of Allah allowed him to come in without changing his position. After that, Hz. Uthman arrived and asked permission to enter. This time, the Messenger of Allah sat up and tidied himself up.

Thereupon, Hz. Aisha asked,

“O Messenger of Allah! You did not tidy yourself up when Abu Bakr and Umar. Why did you sit up and tidy yourself up when Hz. Uthman came?“

The Messenger of Allah answered as follows:

“For, Uthman is a very bashful and modest person. Even angels feel shy in his presence. Shall I not feel shy?“ [ Muslim, Fadailu’s-Sahaba: 26-27. ]

Abu Musa’l-Ash’ari narrates:

We went to a house with the Messenger of Allah. He said to me,

“Wait at the door and do not let anyone in without permission!“

After a while, Abu Bakr arrived.

I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Abu Bakr arrived.“ He said,

“Let him in and give him the glad tiding of Paradise.“

After that, Umar arrived. He told me to tell him the same thing.

Then, Uthman arrived. He said the following about Uthman:

“Let him in and give him the glad tiding of Paradise due to the troubles he will confront.“ Thus, he stated that Hz. Uthman was one of the people who were promised Paradise and who would suffer several misfortunes in the future. [ Tirmidhi, Manaqib: 19. ]

Hz. Uthman could not take part in the Battle of Badr though he wanted it so much. For, his wife, Hz. Ruqiyya was very ill. Although the Prophet accepted his excuse, he felt the sadness of not being able to join the Battle of Badr in his heart. Hz. Ruqiyya could not get over the illness she caught and died. The victory of Muslims in Badr transformed Hz. Uthman’s deep sorrow into joy.

After returning from Badr, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave Hz. Uthman another glad tiding:

“You received the rewards of a martyr though you did not join Badr.“

After that, the Prophet married his other daughter, Umm Kulthum, off to Hz. Uthman. Then, Hz. Uthman was called “Dhun-nurayn“ (possessor of two lights).

After the death of Umm Kulthum, the Prophet consoled his son-in-law, who was a symbol of modesty, by saying, “If I had 40 daughters, I would marry them off to Uthman one by one.“ [ Usdu’l-Ghaba, 3: 378. ]

Hz. Uthman (r.a.), who took part in the Battle of Uhud, sometimes remembered the sorrow he felt when he heard the false news of the death of the Prophet and expressed the severity of the agony he experienced there.

During the Expedition of Dhat ar-Riqa in the 4th year of the Migration, the Prophet appointed him as his deputy and left him in Madinah. Taking part in all of the battles after that, Hz. Uthman was sent as an envoy to the Qurayshis for the Treaty of Hudaybiyah. Hz. Uthman went to Makkah and told them that their purpose in going to Makkah was umrah but the polytheists opposed him and said to him,

“Go and tell the person who sent you here that he will never be able to enter Makkah and visit the Kaaba. However, if you want, you can circumambulate the Kaaba.“

Hz. Uthman answered them as follows:

“I will not circumambulate the Kaaba without the Messenger of Allah“

The Qurayshis were disturbed by these words of Hz. Uthman and they put him on probation for a while.

The statement of the polytheists turned out to be wrong; the Messenger of Allah circumambulated the Kaaba after a while.

The news that Hz. Uthman was put on probation reached the Muslims as if he was martyred. Being agitated by this news, the Muslims saw no other solution except fighting. Everybody was very excited. The divine revelation told Muslims to pay allegiance to the Prophet. All Muslims promised that they would obey the Messenger of Allah and that they would sacrifice their lives for the sake of Allah and His Messenger. The Messenger of Allah accepted the Muslims’ allegiance by one hand for him and the other hand for Hz. Uthman. This allegiance was recorded as the Allegiance of Ridwan in the history of Islam.

When the polytheists heard about it, they became worried and released Hz. Uthman. The Muslims became very happy when Hz. Uthman returned. They said to him, “You have probably circumambulated the Kaaba.“ Hz. Uthman answered them as follows:

“I swear by Allah that if I stayed in Makkah for a year and if the Messenger of Allah were in Huday­bi­yah, I would not circumambulate the Kaaba alone if the Prophet did not circumambulate the Kaaba.“ [ Sirah, 3: 330; Zadu’l-Maad, 3: 290-291. ]

Afterwards, Hz. Uthman took part in the Battle of Khaybar, the Conquest of Makkah and the Battle of Hawazin. Hz. Uthman was among those who protected and defended the Messenger of Allah by forming a wall of flesh during the Battle of Hunayn.

Hz. Uthman gave away, 1000 dinars, 50 horses and 100 camels for the Expedition of Tabuk. The Prophet stated the following for this generosity:

“None of the mistakes Uthman will do from now on will harm him.“ [ Tirmidhi, Manaqib: 19; Hayatu’s-Sahaba, 2: 97. ]

Hz. Uthman helped the needy a lot in order to thank Allah for his wealth but he lived very humbly.

During a period of famine in Madinah, Hz. Uthman brought 100 camels loaded with wheat from Damascus. Some Companions hurried toward him to buy the wheat. He said to them,

“I have a better customer. He gives me more profit than you.“ The Companions went to Hz. Abu Bakr to tell him about what Uthman said. Hz. Abu Bakr knew Hz. Uthman better than anybody else. He said to them,

“He has the honor of being the son-in-law of the Messenger of Allah. He is also a friend of the Prophet in Paradise. You probably misunderstood him. Let us go to him together and find out about the situation.“

When they went over to Hz. Uthman, Hz. Abu Bakr said,

“O Uthman! The Companions felt very sorry when they heard your words. What is the matter? Can you explain it?“

Hz. Uthman answered as follows:  “O Caliph of the Messenger of Allah! There is a better customer who gives 700 in return for 1. I sold the wheat to Him.“

With that statement, Hz. Uthman wanted to say that he gave away the wheat on the camels as charity for Allah.

As a matter of fact, he distributed the wheat on the 100 camels to the poor without demanding any money. Hz. Abu Bakr became very pleased and kissed Hz. Uthman on the forehead.

Once Hz. Uthman heard that there was no food left in the house of the Messenger of Allah. He bought a fat sheep, some flour and oil, and took them to the house where Hz. Aisha lived. He said to her,

“O mother of the believers! I think the Messenger of Allah will share it with his other wives. Tell him not to do so. I will take the same things to them, too.“

The Prophet came home and found out about the situation. He said,

“O Lord! Forgive all of the sins of Uthman whether in the past or in the future, whether known or unknown.“

When Hz. Ali was about to marry Hz. Fatima, he put up his armor for sale. He met Hz. Uthman in the market. He told Uthman that he was going to marry and that he wanted to sell his armor to have enough money for mahr. Uthman (r.a.) bought it for 480 dirhams and gave Ali the money. Then, he turned to Hz. Ali and said,

“O Ali! I am giving this armor to you as a wedding present so that you will serve Allah with it. This armor is fitting only for an Islamic hero like you.“

One of the greatest characteristics of Hz. Uthman was his generosity. He did not hesitate to spend his wealth in the way of Allah. Once, the Muslims had difficulty in finding water to drink. There was no fresh water to drink except the water of Ruma Well. That well belonged to a Jew. He sold water at a very high price. This situation distressed the Prophet (pbuh). When he was together with the Companions, he said,

“If a believer buys the Ruma Well, he will have a similar well in Paradise.“

Hz. Uthman was also there. He took action at once. He found the Jew. He told him that he wanted to buy the well. The Jew did not accept to sell the whole well. He sold half of it at a very high price. Hz. Uthman went to the presence of the Prophet joyfully. He said he had bought half of the well and that he allocated it to Muslims. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) complimented him by saying,

“The charity of Uthman is wonderful charity.“ Hz. Uthman bought the other half of the well later and allocated it to Muslims. [ Tirmidhi, Manaqib: 19; ]

One of the Companions Hz. Abu Bakr consulted the most during his caliphate was Hz. Uthman.

When Hz. Abu Bakr was on his deathbed, he was telling Hz. Uthman about the properties of the person to be the Caliph after him and Hz. Uthman was noting them down. Hz. Abu Bakr fainted before he mentioned the name of the person he described. Hz. Uthman thought he died and wrote the name of Hz. Umar.

After a while, Hz. Abu Bakr came to himself and asked him whose name he wrote. Hz. Uthman said, “O leader of the believers! I thought you died. I feared that there would be tumult and wrote the name of Umar bin Khattab.“

Hz. Abu Bakr became very happy due to his sensible act and said,

“May Allah reward you with goodness due to this favor you have done to Islam and Muslims. If you had written your name, you would also have acted correctly.“ [ Hayatu’s-Sahaba, 2: 14. ]

Hz. Uthman supported Hz. Umar with might and main during his caliphate and undertook responsibility for fulfilling important duties. After the death of Hz. Umar, the consultation committee he appointed chose Hz. Uthman as the caliph.

The committee consisted of the following people:

Abdurrahman bin Awf, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Talha, Zubayr, Uthman and Ali (r.a.).

Hz. Umar’s son, Abdullah was also in this committee. Hz. Umar asked the committee to choose a caliph among them within three days after his death.

After the funeral of Hz. Umar, the committee negotiated for two days but could not make a decision. On the third day, Abdurrahman bin Awf offered that three of the candidates waive their rights in favor of one of the remaining three candidates. Thereupon, Hz. Zubayr nominated Hz. Ali, Hz. Sa’d nominated Abdur­rahman bin Awf and Hz. Talha nominated Hz. Uthman and waived their rights. After that, Abdurrahman bin Awf (r.a.) said that he also waived. Two candidates: Hz. Uthman and Hz. Ali remained.

Then, Hz. Abdurrahman negotiated with both of them. Meanwhile he asked the opinion of everybody, from men in the street, to women in their homes and students at schools. The majority preferred Hz. Uthman.

Hz. Abdurrahman called people to the mosque. He said he found Hz. Uthman more suitable for the caliphate and paid allegiance to him. After Hz. Abdurrahman, Hz. Ali became the second person to pay allegiance to Hz. Uthman. Then, the other Muslims paid allegiance to him. Thus, Hz. Uthman was chosen as the Caliph in 644. [ Asr-ı Saadet, 1: 293-294 ]

During the first six years of Hz. Uthman’s caliphate, many places were conquered. An important part of Africa was conquered. The first Muslim attacks to Spain started in this period. Cyprus was conquered. Besides, the people of Armenia, who rebelled by taking advantage of the death of Hz. Umar, were suppressed. Tabaristan was conquered. An important incident of this period is that the Islamic navy confronted the Byzantine navy in the Mediterranean and that the Islamic navy defeated the Byzantine navy, which consisted of 500 ships. This victory enabled the Muslims to maneuver easily in the Mediterranean. The Muslims landed on the islands of Malta and Crete. A group of Muslims landed on the Anatolian shores while another group approached the walls of Istanbul. They worked hard in order to be fitting for the glad tiding of the Prophet.

During this period, the system of states was established in administration. The Islamic land was divided into two systems as civilian and administrative systems.

* * *

One of the greatest and historical things and the most important one Hz. Uthman did was definitely the reproduction of the Quran. Some different views about pronouncing the Quran occurred among the Companions that went to conquer Armenia and Azerbaijan. For, the ones in the army of Iraq learned the Quran from Ibn Masud and those in the army of Damascus from Ubay bin Kab. Due to the small differences, Hudhayfah al-Yamani went to Hz. Uthman and said,

“Come to help Muslims before this ummah falls into disagreement like Jews and Christians.“

Upon this application, Hz. Uthman convened a committee of consultation. This committee consisted of 12 people. The prominent ones were Zayd bin Thabit, Abdullah bin Zubayr, Said bin As and Abdurrahman bin Harith (r.a.). The committee reproduced five (or seven) copies of the Quran that was in the house of Hz. Umar and under the protection of Hz. Hafsa based on the Quran that was compiled during the time of Hz. Abu Bakr. These copies were sent to Kufa, Basra, Damascus, Makkah, Yemen and Bahrain. One copy was left in Madinah. This copy was called “the imam“.

* * *

The last period of his caliphate was full of mischief and tumult. Islamic historians mention the following for the reasons for the depressing incidents of mischief and tumult that took place during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman (r.a.) and Hz. Ali (r.a.) as follows:

1- An important part of the Companions who had the luck of meeting the Messenger of Allah and received blessing and luminous light from him had died and the rest of the Companions had to retire and retreat. Therefore, there were not enough qualified administrators; the negligence and incapability of the administrators caused disorders in the course of time. Doubtlessly, the generation of Tabiun, who were taught by the Companions, was one of the most distinguished generations in history. However, it is not possible to say that they were as sensitive as the Companions in terms of justice, capability and equity.

2- The feelings of pride in tribes and clans, which were regarded as a source of pride in the Era of Jahiliyyah, had been replaced by lofty properties and feelings in the first periods of Islam due to obeying the holy orders loyally. However, that the young people of the Quraysh tribe obtained important ranks and positions with the conquests and victories after the death of the Prophet somewhat aroused their pride in their tribe. Belonging to the Quraysh tribe started to be regarded as a means of privilege and superiority, which started uneasiness among Muslims.

3- With the conquests, the borders of the Islamic state reached to Morocco in North Africa and Qabil in Asia. This caused people of different religions, languages and races to become Muslims or to live under the domination of Muslims. The pride of some of these nations, especially Iranians, was hurt a lot; so, a rebellion and opposition movement against the central Islamic authority started gradually.

4- That Hz. Uthman (r.a.) was a lenient and gentle person, that he preferred forgiving people to punishing them caused some people to take advantage of it, which caused misuse and weaknesses in administration. People with ill intentions practiced their deeds of mischief and tumult easily under the administration with such weaknesses.

5- Hz. Uthman (r.a.) was very rich, beneficent and generous before he became a Muslim, too. He liked his relatives and helped them all the time. After becoming a Muslim, these feelings of his and beneficence increased, too; he started to take care of his relatives more. Some people started to say that his charity out of his own wealth was from the Treasury and propagated against him; thus, they instigated mischief and tumult.

6- The administrators during the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr and Umar (r.a.) were shrewd authoritarian people; the atmosphere was away from the movements of mischief and tumult. Due to the conditions of his time, Hz. Uthman (r.a.) could not rely on anybody; therefore, he started to appoint his relatives for whom he had done favors to important administrative posts. He started to maintain the authority by doing so. These relatives were definitely capable and honest people. However, this situation was described and propagated as nepotism and appointing relatives to important posts.

7- With the conquests, the community of Arabs started to have relationships with different nations; the children born out of these marriages with new Muslims or Christians and Jews turned out to be weak individuals in terms of ethics and religion. This formed a suitable environment for mischief and tumult.

Along with the reasons above, the efforts of Abdullah Ibn Saba, who was originally a Jew, instigated a tumult that could not be prevented.

In the 35th year of the Migration and 12th year of Hz. Uthman’s caliphate, troublemakers from Kufa, Basra, Egypt, etc started to besiege Hz. Uthman’s house. The notables of the Companions, primarily Hz. Ali, tried to end the siege but they failed. Whatever was predestined was going to happen. The troublemakers were determined to martyr Hz. Uthman, who was an example of good manners and modesty and who was innocent. Hz. Uthman addressed them as follows:

“Why do you want to kill me? I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘It is haram to kill a Muslim except three cases: A Muslim who commits adultery though he is married; a Muslim who kills a person intentionally; a person who exits the religion of Islam after becoming a Muslim.’ I swear by Allah that I did not commit adultery in the Era of Jahiliyyah or after becoming a Muslim. I did not kill anybody. I did not exit the religion of Islam after becoming a Muslim. Then, why do you want to kill me?“ [ Asr-ı Saadet, 1: 293-294 ]

However, the network for the tumult had already been prepared and the agitation had reached a point that could not be reversed. Hz. Ali (r.a.) left his two sons, Hasan and Husayn, with the Caliph as guards. Abdullah bin Umar and some Companions were also there. There were enough people to fight the troublemakers. Abdullah bin Zubayr, Zayd bin Thabit, Abu Hurayra and other Companions said they were ready to help the religion of Allah and that they wanted to fight the troublemakers if the Caliph allowed them. However, Hz. Uthman did not want Muslim blood to shed. He refused those offers:

“I never want to be described as a caliph that shed Muslim blood. I take refuge in Allah against shedding the blood of even one person. I know that I will win if I fight them. However, I leave their punishment and those who agitate them to Allah.“ [ Tirmidhi, Manaqib: 19; Muslim, Fadailu’s-Sahaba: 28. ]

Hz. Uthman, who was an example of good manners, modesty and merits, saw the Prophet (pbuh) Hz. Abu Bakr and Hz. Umar in his dream one day before he was martyred. The Prophet addressed him as follows:

“We are fasting; we are waiting for you for iftar.“ When Hz. Uthman woke up that night, he intended to fast.

He was happy because it was time to rejoin Allah and His Messenger. It was Friday. He started to read the Quran. Meanwhile, some troublemakers managed to get inside the house and martyred Hz. Uthman. Some blood dropped on the Quran he was reading. Thus, another miracle of the Prophet about the future turned out to be true. The Prophet said that he was going to be killed unjustly.

“Why did the Companions not discover the troublemakers with the eye of sainthood and not take measures against them?“ The following answer of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi to the question above sets light to the causes of this murder: “Those who were the cause of those events and instigated the trouble did not consist of a few Jews; so, having discovered them could not have prevented the trouble. For with numerous different peoples entering Islam, many currents and ideas which were opposed to and contrary to one another had confused the situation. Particularly since the national pride of some of them had received awesome wounds at the blows of Umar (RA), they were waiting to take their revenge. For both their old religion had been rendered null and void and their old rule and sovereignty, the source of their pride, had been swept away. Knowingly or unknowingly, they were emotionally in favor of taking their revenge on Islamic rule. It was therefore said that certain clever and scheming dissemblers like the Jews took advantage of that state of society. That is to say, it would have been possible to prevent those events through reforming the social life, and various ideas of that time. They could not have been prevented by discovering one or two troublemakers.“

* * *

Hz. Uthman reported 146 hadiths from the Messenger of Allah. Some of them included in “Musnad“ of Ahmad bin Hanbal are as follows:

“The grave is the first one of the hereafter houses. If a person attains salvation there, the rest will be easier for him. If he cannot attain salvation there, the rest will be more difficult for him.“

“If a Muslim leaves home with the intention of a journey or something else and says, ‘Tawakkaltu alallahi wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah’ (I have placed my trust in Allah, there is no might and no power except by Allah ), leaving home like this will be a means of attaining goodness and keeping away from evil.“

“A person who knows the reality of Lailaha illallah and dies believing in it enters Paradise.“

“A person who performs the night (isha) prayer and the morning (fajr) prayer in congregation is regarded to have worshipped throughout the night.“

“If a person makes wudu properly, goes to the mosque and performs the prayer, Allah forgives his sins he commits between that prayer and the next one.“

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