Uthman Ibn Affan

the name 'uthman' written in arabic calligraphy

Uthman’s Life

Uthman ibn affan ( May Allah be pleased with him) was the son-in-law of the Prophet and one of the earliest converts to Islam. He married the daughter of the prophet ( May peace be upon him), Ruqayah ( May Allah be pleased with her) before Prophethood. She passed away during the Battle of Badr (the first battle the muslims fought) which is why Uthman was held back and didnt fight in this battle. He remarried Umm Kulthum ( May Allah be pleased with her), the sister of Ruqayyah1. He was called ‘Dhul-Nurayn’ which means the ‘possessor of two lights’.

His Appearance

Ibn Asakir narrated by various routes that Uthman ‘was of middle stature – he was not short, nor was he tall – with a beautiful face, a fair complexion tinged with red, on his face the marks of smallpox, with a full beard, large-limbed and broad-shouldered…2

How Uthman was appointed

On his deathbed, Umar ( May Allah be pleased with him) appointed a six man council to decide the next leader. They were : Ali, Uthman, Talha, Zubair, Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, and Abdurahman Ibn Awf ( May Allah be pleased with them). Abdurahman Ibn Awf travelled around the lands to ask people about the next leader; they all spoke about Uthman’s merits and some talked about Ali. 3

After this, everyone was gathered in the mosque and Abdurahman took Alis hand and said: “Do you promise me (to undertake the duties of Caliph) on basis of the Book of God, the Sunnah of His Prophet ( May peace be upon him), and acts performed by Abu Bakr and ‘Umar?” “No,’ he replied. “I can only promise on the strength of my own efforts and capacities.” Taking ‘Uthman’s hand, he said, “Do you promise me to undertake the duties of Caliph on the basis of the Book of God, the Sunnah of His Prophet ( May peace be upon him), and the acts performed by Abu Bakr and ‘Umar?” “Yes, I do,” he replied. 4

Everyone then pledged allegiance to Amir-al-mu’mineen Uthman.

Uthman’s Caliphate

Uthman’s ( May Allah be pleased with him) most important decision was the standardization of the Quran. Many people had began to write notes and their own commentaries of the Quran, in order for this not to be confused with the actual sacred text he sent out a committee to standardize it into the first Amir-al-mu’mineen Abu Bakr’s ( May Allah be pleased with him) original copy5. Another reason was that the Quran was revealed in 7 dialects, if someone was reciting in a dialect another person would accuse him of making a mistake causing unnecessary tension6. He also took control of Rayy and Cyprus. Uthman made some changes to governors, unfortunately, the hypocrites among the muslims saw this as a chance to begin the insurrection.

Uthman’s assassination

Uthman was martyred in his home after ruling for 12 years as caliph. It started when people from Egypt went to Uthman to complain about their current governor at the time, Ibn Abi Sarh. Uthman wrote a letter to him stating that he must change his ways which Ibn Abi Sarh ignored. Uthman decide to dismiss him and appoint Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr as governor of Egypt. A couple days later, Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr encountered a slave boy who said he worked for the caliph, Uthman, and was sent to deliver a letter to Ibn Abi Sarh which read: ‘if you are approached by Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr and his companions, then kill them.’7

Ali questioned Uthman who swore who never wrote the letter. After examining the handwriting, they said it was Marwan, Uthman’s son-in-law, but Uthman refused to hand him over. News spread and people laid seige on Uthman’s house. They demanded he handed Marwan over, Ali sent his sons Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn and others to keep guard at Uthman’s house.

The mob was too strong and they broke in. Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr grabbed Uthman. Uthman said to him: ” “By Allah, if your father could see you, your behaviour to me would cause him great distress”. Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr then retreated after realising his actions. Despite this, two men came in and struck Uthman until he was dead. They then left as sneakily as they came in.8

Uthman lived to 82 years of age and was buried in Al-Baqi cemetary in Medina.

“The most sincere of them (the muslims) in shyness and modesty is Uthman”

Prophet Muhammad

Sunan Ibn Majah Vol 1 Book 1 Hadith 1549

References

  1. Suyūṭī (1995) The history of the Khalifahs who took the right way : being a translation of the chapters on al-Khulafaʼ ar-Rashidun from Tarikh al-Khulafaʼ. Translated by A. Clarke. London: Ta-Ha Publishers, pp 156. Available at: https://www.muslim-library.com/dl/books/English_The_History_of_the_Khalifahs.pdf (Accessed: 8 February 2024). ↩︎
  2. Suyūṭī (1995) The history of the Khalifahs who took the right way : being a translation of the chapters on al-Khulafaʼ ar-Rashidun from Tarikh al-Khulafaʼ. Translated by A. Clarke. London: Ta-Ha Publishers, pp 159. Available at: https://www.muslim-library.com/dl/books/English_The_History_of_the_Khalifahs.pdf (Accessed: 8 February 2024).  ↩︎
  3. Al Bouti, R. (2006) The jurisprudence of the prophetic biography : & A brief history of the Orthodox caliphate. Translated by N. Roberts. Damascus,Syria: Dar Al-Fikr, p620. Available at:https://archive.org/details/fiqhussunnahbyshaykhramadanalbuti_202003/page/n565/mode/2up?view=theater (Accessed: 11 February 2024)  ↩︎
  4. Al Bouti, R. (2006) The jurisprudence of the prophetic biography : & A brief history of the Orthodox caliphate. Translated by N. Roberts. Damascus,Syria: Dar Al-Fikr, p620. Available at:https://archive.org/details/fiqhussunnahbyshaykhramadanalbuti_202003/page/n565/mode/2up?view=theater (Accessed: 11 February 2024) ↩︎
  5. IslamQA (2012) The Compilation of the Qur’an and Why `Uthman Ordered That Some Copies Be –, IslamQA. Available at: https://islamqa.org/hanafi/seekersguidance-hanafi/32699/the-compilation-of-the-quran-and-why-uthman-ordered-that-some-copies-be-burned/ (Accessed: 9 March 2024). ↩︎
  6. IslamQA (2002) Who Wrote the Quran? – Islam Question & Answer, islamqa.info. Available at: https://islamqa.info/en/answers/10012/who-wrote-the-quran. ↩︎
  7. Al Bouti, R. (2006) The jurisprudence of the prophetic biography : & A brief history of the Orthodox caliphate. Translated by N. Roberts. Damascus,Syria: Dar Al-Fikr, p 632. Available at:https://archive.org/details/fiqhussunnahbyshaykhramadanalbuti_202003/page/n565/mode/2up?view=theater (Accessed: 11 February 2024) ↩︎
  8. Suyūṭī (1995) The history of the Khalifahs who took the right way : being a translation of the chapters on al-Khulafaʼ ar-Rashidun from Tarikh al-Khulafaʼ. Translated by A. Clarke. London: Ta-Ha Publishers, pp 177. Available at: https://www.muslim-library.com/dl/books/English_The_History_of_the_Khalifahs.pdf (Accessed: 8 February 2024) ↩︎
  9. Ibn Majah (2007b) Sunan ibn Majah. Translated by N. Al-Khattab. Darussalam, p. 178. Available at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11sApB-MWFA9ajkWyrsskkn0aW-YoB_an (Accessed: 17 February 2024). ↩︎