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Uthman Ibn Affan

‘Uthmān bn ‘Affān
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Caliph Usman's Empire at its greatest extent, including its vassal states
Born 579, Ta’if, Saudi Arabia
Died July 656, Medina, Saudi Arabia
Reign 11 November 64417 July 656
Title(s) Thu Al-Nurayn, Amir al-Mu'minin
Buried Jannat al-Baqi
Predecessor Umar
Successor Ali
[edit ]

‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān (Arabic: عثمان بن عفان) (c. 579 - July 17 656) was one of the sahaba (companions). An early convert to Islam, he played a major role in early Islamic history, most notably as the third Caliph of the Rashidun Empire (644 to death) and in the compilation of the Qur'an.

Early life

Uthman was born in Ta’if, which is situated on a hill, and the presumption is that Uthman was born during the summer months, since wealthy Meccans usually spent the hot summers in the cooler climate of Ta’if. He was born into the wealthy Umayyad (Banu Umayya) clan of the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, seven years after Muhammad. Uthman's father, Affan, died young while traveling abroad but left a large inheritance to Uthman. Uthman followed the same profession as his father, and his business flourished, making him one of the richest men among the Qurayshi tribe.

Conversion to Islam

Uthman was an early convert to Islam and is said to have spent a great deal of his wealth on charity. On returning from a business trip to Syria in 611, Uthman found out that Muhammad had declared his mission. Uthman, after a discussion with his friend Abu Bakr, decided to convert to Islam, and Abu Bakr took him to Muhammad to whom he declared his faith. Uthman thus became the second adult male to convert to Islam, after Abu Bakr. His conversion to Islam angered his clan, who strongly opposed Muhammad's teachings. The only two people who supported Uthman's decision were Saadi, a maternal aunt of Uthman, and Umm Kulthum, who was his stepsister and who had also converted to Islam. Because of his conversion to Islam, Uthman's wives deserted him, and he subsequently divorced them. Muhammad then asked Uthman to marry his daughter Ruqayyah bint Muhammad.

Migration to Abyssinia

Uthman and his wife Ruqayya migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 614-615, along with 11 men and 11 women, all Muslims. As Uthman already had some business contacts in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), he continued to practice his profession as a trader. He worked hard, and his business soon flourished. After two years, the news spread among the Muslims in Abyssinia that the Quraysh of Mecca had accepted Islam, and that convinced Uthman, Ruqayya, and some other Muslims to return. When they reached Mecca however, it transpired that the news about the Quraysh's acceptance of Islam was false. Some of the Muslims who had come from Abyssinia returned, but Uthman and Ruqayya decided to stay. In Mecca, Uthman had to start his business afresh, but the contacts that he had already established in Abyssinia worked in his favour, and his business prospered once again.

Migration to Medina

In 622, Uthman and his wife, Ruqayya, migrated to Medina. They were amongst the third batch of Muslims who migrated to Medina. On arrival in Medina, Uthman stayed with Abu Talha ibn Thabit of the Banu Najjar. After a short while, Uthman purchased a house of his own and moved there. Being one of the richest merchants of Mecca, and having amassed a considerable fortune, Uthman did not need any financial help from his Ansari brothers, as he brought all his wealth with him to Medina. In Medina, the Muslims were generally farmers and were not very interested in trade, and thus most of the trading that took place in the town was handled by the Jews. Thus, there was considerable space for the Muslims in promoting trade and Uthman took advantage of this position, soon establishing himself as a trader in Medina. He worked hard and honestly, and his business flourished, soon becoming one of the richest men in Medina..

Life in Medina

In 624, some Muslims from Medina departed to assist in the capture of a Quraysh caravan. At this time, Uthman's wife Ruqayya suffered from malaria and then caught smallpox. Uthman stayed at Medina to look after the ailing Ruqayya, and did not join those who left with Muhammad. Ruqayya died during the time the Battle of Badr was being fought, and the news of the victory of Badr reached Medina as Ruqayya was being buried. Because of the battle Muhammad could not attend the funeral of his daughter. Uthman participated in the Battle of Uhud which was fought in 625, and after that battle he married Muhammad's second daughter, Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad. The next year, Uthman and Ruqayyah's son, Abd-Allah ibn Uthman died. When the Battle of the Trench was fought in 627, Uthman was in charge of a sector of Medina. After the Battle of the Trench a campaign was undertaken against the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa, and when the Jews were taken captive, the question of the disposal of the slaves became a problem. Uthman solved the issue by purchasing all the slaves, and depositing their price in the Bayt al-mal (Treasury). Any of these slaves who accepted Islam were set free by Uthman in the name of Allah. Slaves were granted equality, given shelter and food under Islamic rule.

Treaty of Hudaibiyah

In March of 628 (6 Hijri), Muhammad set out for Mecca to perform the ritual pilgrimage of Hajj. The Quraysh denied the Muslims entry into the city and posted themselves outside Mecca, determined to show resistance, even though the Muslims had no intention or preparation for battle. Muhammad camped outside Mecca, at Hudaybiyyah, and sent Uthman as his envoy to meet with the leaders of Quraysh and negotiate Muslim entry into the city. The Quraysh made Uthman stay longer in Mecca than he originally planned and refused to inform the Muslims of his whereabouts. This caused the Muslims to believe that Uthman had been killed by the people of Quraysh. On this occasion, Muhammad gathered his nearly 1,400 soldiers and called them to pledge to fight until death and avenge the rumoured death of Uthman, which they did by placing a hand on top of Muhammad's. It is reported that Muhammad placed one of his hands on top of the other and pledged on behalf of Uthman as well. This pledge took place under a tree and was known as the Pledge of the Tree and was successful in demonstrating to the Quraysh the determination of the Muslims. They soon released Uthman and sent down an ambassador of their own, Suhail ibn Amr to negotiate terms of a treaty that later became known as the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.

Muhammad's last years

In 629, Uthman fought in the Battle of Khaybar and later that year, he followed Muhammad to perform Umrah in Mecca. While in Mecca he visited his mother and found that his family was not as hostile to Islam as they used to be. In 630, the Quraysh broke the treaty of Hudaibiyah, and the Muslims attacked and conquered Mecca. General amnesty was granted to the people of the city, although an exception was made in the case of half a dozen people. Amongst those not granted amnesty was Abdullah ibn Saad, a foster brother of Uthman. Later, following an appeal by Abdullah's mother to Uthman, he was forgiven by Muhammad. Following the Conquest of Mecca Uthman's family converted to Islam and he rejoined his mother and siblings. Two weeks later, under the command of Muhammad, he participated in the Battle of Hunayn which was followed by the Siege of Ta'if.

To Uthman, the conquest of Mecca and Ta’if were of particular significance, as he had considerable property in both cities, and he could now profitably develop them. He was also able to set up sub-offices for his businesses at Mecca and Ta’if. Uthman's wife, and the daughter of Muhammad, Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad, died soon after the conquest of Mecca.

In 630 Muhammad decided to lead an expedition to Tabuk on the Syrian border. In order to finance the expedition Muhammad invited contributions from his followers. Uthman made the largest contribution: 1,000 dinars in cash, 1,000 camels for transport, and horses for the cavalry, which Muhammad greatly appreciated. In 631, Uthman, along with other Muslims moved, to Mecca to perform Hajj under Abu Bakr while Muhammad stayed in Medina. In Mecca, Uthman married Umm Saeed Fatima bint Al Walid b Abd Shams, a Qurayshi lady and returned to Medina with her.

In 632 Uthman, along with Muhammad, participated in the The Farewell Pilgrimage. In 632 Muhammad died, and Uthman, like other Muslims, was griefstricken.

Khalifa Abu Bakr's era (632–634)

Uthman had a very close relationship with Abu Bakr, as it was due to him that Uthman had converted to Islam. When Abu Bakr was elected as the Caliph, Uthman was the first person after Umar to offer his allegiance. During the Ridda wars (Wars of Apostasy), Uthman remained at Medina, acting as Abu Bakr's adviser. On his death bed, Abu Bakr dictated his will to Uthman, saying that his successor was to be Umar.

Khalifa Umar's era (634–644)

Uthman was the first person to offer his allegiance to Umar. During the reign of Umar, Uthman remained at Medina as his adviser, and a member of his advisory council. Umar did not allow the companions, including Uthman, to leave Medina. The reason for this was that Umar didn't wish for the companions, who were famous and respected among the Muslims, to spread and have their own followers, which would, it was felt, have resulted in unnecessary divisions in Islam.

During the reign of Umar, considerable wealth flowed into the public treasury. Uthman advised that some amount be reserved in the treasury for future needs, instead of giving all of it as stipends to the Muslims, and this was accepted by Umar. A controversy then arose about the land in conquered areas. The army was of the view that all lands in conquered territories should be distributed among the soldiers of the conquering army, but others thought that the lands should remain as the property of the original owners, and the lands without claimants should be declared as state property. Uthman supported the latter view and this view was ultimately accepted.

At the time of the conquest of Jerusalem the Christians asked that Umar 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 surrender the city unconditionally. There was much force in Uthman's argument, 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 a large caravan belonging to Uthman that was carrying a large supply of food grains served the poor well.

Election of Uthman

Umar, on his death bed formed a committee of six people to choose the next Caliph from amongst themselves.

This committee was:

Umar asked that, after his death, the committee reach a final decision within three days, and the next Caliph should take the oath of office on the fourth day. If Talhah joined the committee within this period, he was to take part in the deliberations, but if he did not return to Medina within this period, the other members of the committee could proceed with the decision. Abdur Rahman bin Awf withdrew his eligibility to be appointed as Caliph in order to act as a moderator and began his task by interviewing each member of the committee separately. He asked them for whom they would cast their vote. When Ali was asked, he said for Uthman. When Uthman was asked, he said for Ali, Zubayr said for Ali or Uthman. and Saad said for Uthman.

After Abdul Rahman consulted the other leaders of public opinion in Medina, who were in favour of Uthman, he arrived at the conclusion that the majority of the people favoured the election of Uthman. On the fourth day after the death of Umar, 11 November 644, 5 Muharram 24 Hijri, Uthman was elected as the third Caliph, with the title "Amir al-Mu'minin."

Reign as a Khalifah (644–656)

On assuming office, Uthman issued a number of directives to the officials all over the dominions, ordering them to hold fast the laws made by his predecessor Umar. Uthman's realm extended in the west to Morocco, in the east to South east Pakistan, 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 sahabas ("companions of Muhammad") as his personal deputies to various provinces to scrutinize the conduct of officials and the condition of the people. In total, Uthman ruled for twelve years. The first six years were marked by internal peace and tranquillity, and he remained the most popular Caliph among the Rashidun; but during the second half of his caliphate a rebellion arose.

Uthman had the distinction of working for the expansion of Islam, and he sent the first official Muslim envoy to China in 650. The envoy, headed by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, arrived in the Tang capital, Chang'an, in 651 via the overseas route. The Hui people generally consider this date to be the official founding of Islam in China. The Ancient Record of the Tang Dynasty recorded the historic meeting, in which the envoy greeted Emperor Gaozong of Tang and tried to convert him to Islam. Although the envoy failed to convince the Emperor to embrace Islam, the Emperor allowed him to proselytize in China and ordered the establishment of the first Chinese mosque in the capital to show his respect for the religion. Uthman also sent official Muslim envoys to Sri Lanka.

Reforms of Uthman's era

Economic reforms

Uthman was a shrewd businessman and a successful trader from his youth, which contributed a lot to the Rashidun Empire. Umar had fixed the allowance of the people and on assuming office, Uthman increased it by 25%. Umar had placed a ban on the sale of lands and the purchase of agricultural lands in conquered territories. Uthman withdrew these restrictions, in view of the fact that the trade could not flourish. Uthman also permitted people to draw loans from the public treasury. 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 and there were more conquests, and the revenues from land increased considerably. The army once again raised the demand for the distribution of the lands in conquered territories among the fighting soldiers but Uthman turned down the demand and it favoured the Dhimmis (non-Muslims in Islamic state).

In 651, the first Islamic coins were struck during the caliphate of Uthman, these were the Persian dirhams that had an image of the Persian emperor Yazdgerd III with the addition of the Arabic sentence Bismillah (بسم الله) (in the name of Allah). However the first original minting of the Islamic dirham was done in 695 during Umayyad period.

Umar, the predecessor of Uthman was very strict in the use of money from the public treasury. Apart from the meagre allowance that had been sanctioned in his favour, 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. During the time of Uthman there was some relaxation in such strictness. Uthman did not draw any allowance from the treasury for his personal use, nor did he receive a salary, he was a wealthy man with sufficient resources of his own, but unlike Umar, Uthman accepted gifts and allowed his family members to accept gifts from certain quarters. 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. The economic reforms introduced by Uthman had far reaching effects; Muslims as well as non-Muslims of the Rashidun Empire enjoyed an economically prosperous life during his reign..

Public works

Under Uthman the people became economically more prosperous, and they invested their money in the construction of buildings. Many new and larger buildings were constructed through out the empire. During the caliphate of Uthman as many as five thousand new mosques were constructed. Uthman enlarged, extended, and embellished the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi at Medina and the Kaaba as well. With the expansion of the army, the cantonments were extended and enlarged, more barracks were constructed for the soldiers and 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 to provide comfort to the merchants coming from far away places. More and more markets were constructed and Uthman appointed Market Officers to look after them. In Iraq, Egypt and Persia numerous canals were dug, which stimulated agricultural development. In the cities, particular attention was directed towards the provision of the water supply. In Medina, a number of wells were dug to provide drinking water for the people and in Mecca the water supply was also improved. Water was brought to Kufa and Basra by canals. Shuaibia was the port for Mecca but it was inconvenient, so Uthman selected Jeddah as the site of the new seaport, and a new port was built there. Uthman also reformed the police departments in cities.

Administration

In his testament, Umar had instructed his successor not to make any change in the administrative set up for one year after his death. For one year Uthman maintained the pattern of political administration as it stood under Umar, later making some amendments.

Under Umar, Egypt was divided into two provinces, Upper and Lower Egypt. Uthman made Egypt one province and created a new province for North Africa. Under Umar, Syria was divided into two provinces but Uthman made it one province. During Uthman’s reign the empire was divided into twelve provinces. These were:

  1. Medina
  2. Mecca
  3. Yemen
  4. Kufa
  5. Basra
  6. Jazira
  7. Fars
  8. Azerbaijan
  9. Khorasan
  10. Syria
  11. Egypt
  12. North Africa

The provinces were further divided into districts (more than 100 districts in the empire) and each district or main city had its own Governor, Chief judge and Amil (tax collector). The governors were appointed by Uthman and 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 the governors. On assuming office, the governor was required to assemble the people in the main mosque, and read the instrument of instructions before them. Uthman appointed his kinsmen as governors of four provinces: Egypt, Syria, Bosra and Kufa. The kindest explanation for this reliance on his kin is that the Rashidun Empire had expanded so far, so fast, that it was becoming extremely difficult to govern, and that Uthman felt that he could trust his own kin not to revolt against him. However Shia Muslims did not see this as prudence; they saw it as nepotism, and an attempt to rule like a king rather than as the first among equals.

Qur'an

Uthman is perhaps best known for forming the committee which compiled the text of the Qur’an as it exists today. The reason was that various Muslim centres, like Kufa and Damascus, had begun to develop their own traditions for reciting and writing down the Qur'an.

Uthman feared that the nascent Rashidun Empire would fall apart in religious controversy if everyone did not have access to a common text of Qur'an. Towards the end of his reign, the committee finished compiling the text, and Uthman had it copied and sent to each of the Muslim cities and garrison towns, commanding that alternate versions of the Qur'an be destroyed, and only the official version used. Uthman is said to have been reviewing a copy of the Qur'an when he was assassinated.

While Shi'a and Sunni accept the same sacred text, the Qur'an, some claim that Shi'a dispute the current version, i.e. they add two additional surahs known as al-Nurayn and al-Wilaya. Nonetheless, Shi'as claim that they are falsely accused of this, as they believe, like Sunnis, that the Qur'an has never been changed and it is with reference from sunni hadeeth books that this inference is drawn not only by uninformed shias but sunnis too.

Zayd ibn Thabit was put in charge of the operation.(Note that John Wansbrough and some Western historians believe that the Qur'an was completed later than Uthman's time; theirs is a minority opinion.)

Military expansion

Byzantine attempt to re-capture Egypt

With the death of Umar and the disposal of 'Amr ibn al-'As from the governorship of Egypt, the Byzantines seized Alexandria, thinking it to be the right time to take action. Uthman again sent 'Amr ibn al-'As to defend Egypt and made him governor and commander-in-chief of Egypt. Amr defeated the Byzantine forces in the Battle of Nikiou, a few hundred miles from Fustat. After the defeat of the Byzantine army at Naqyus the Rashidun army laid siege to Alexandria, which fell when a Copt opened the gates of city one night, in return for amnesty.

After re-conquering Alexandria, 'Amr ibn al-'As ordered the demolition of the walls of the city to obstruct any future invasion by Byzantine forces. Amr was again dismissed from his post due to his loose financial administration.

Conquest of North Africa

After the withdrawal of the Byzantines from Egypt, North Africa had declared its independence under its king, Gregory. The dominions of Gregory extended from the borders of Egypt to Morocco. Abdullah ibn Saad would send raiding parties to the west and as a result of these raids the Muslims got considerable treasure. The success of these raids made Abdullah ibn Saad feel that a regular campaign should be undertaken for the conquest of North Africa.

Uthman gave him permission after considering it in Majlis al Shura and a force of 10,000 soldiers was sent as reinforcements. The army assembled at Barqah in Cyrenaica, and from there they marched west to capture Tripoli, after Tripoli they marched to Sbeitla, the capital of King Gregory. Gregory was defeated and killed in the battle due to the tactics used by Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr. After the battle of Sufetula the people of North Africa sued for peace and they agreed to pay an annual tribute. Instead of annexing North Africa, the Muslims preferred to make it a vassal state and when the stipulated amount of the tribute was paid, the army withdrew to Barqah.

First Muslim invasion of Iberian Peninsula (Spain)

According to the general books of Islamic history, the conquest of the Spainish section of the Iberian Peninsula is attributed to Tariq ibn-Ziyad and Musa bin Nusair in 711 - 712, in the time of the Umayyad Caliph, al-Walid I (Walid ibn Abd al-Malik). According to Muslim historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Spain was first invaded some sixty years earlier during the caliphate of Uthman. Other prominent Muslim historians like, Ibn Kathir, have also quoted the same narration.

According to the account of al-Tabari, when North Africa had been duly conquered by Abdullah ibn Saad, two of his generals, Abdullah ibn Nafiah ibn Husain, and Abdullah ibn Nafi' ibn Abdul Qais, were commissioned to invade the coastal areas of 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 Al-Andalus. Thus if you conquer it you will have the honour 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.

No details of the campaigns in Spain during the caliphate of Uthman are given by Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari or by any other historian. The account of al-Tabari is merely to the effect, that an Arab force aided by a Berber force landed in Spain, and succeeded in conquering the coastal areas of Al-Andalus. We do not know where the Muslim force landed, what resistance they met, and what parts of Spain they actually conquered. Anyhow, it is clear that the Muslims did conquer some parts of Spain during the caliphate of Uthman. Presumably the Muslims established some colonies on the coast of Spain. There are reasons to presume that these Muslims entered into trade relations with the rest of Spain and other parts of Europe. The areas were lost shortly after because of the general disorder in the empire.

Campaign against Nubia (Sudan)

A campaign was undertaken against Nubia during the Caliphate of Umar in 642, but the campaign was inconclusive and the army were pulled out of Nubia with out any success.

Ten years latter in 652, Uthman’s governor of Egypt, Abdullah ibn Saad, sent another army to Nubia. This army penetrated deeper into Nubia and laid siege to the Nubian capital of Dongola. The Muslims demolished the cathedral in the center of the city. The battle was once again inconclusive, because of the Nubian archers who let loose a shower of arrows aimed at the eyes of the Muslim warriors. As the Muslims were not able to overpower the Nubians, they accepted the offer of peace from the Nubian king. According to the treaty that was signed, each side agreed not to make any aggressive moves against the other. Each side agreed to afford free passage to the other party through its territories. Nubia agreed to provide 360 slaves to Egypt every year, while Egypt agreed to supply grain to Nubia according to demand.

Conquest of the islands of Mediterranean Sea

During Umar's reign, the governor of Syria, Muawiyah I, sent a request to build a naval force to invade the islands in the Mediterranean Sea but Umar rejected the proposal because of risk of death of soldiers at sea. During his reign Uthman gave Muawiyah permission to build a navy after concerning the matter closely. The Muslim force landed on Cyprus in 649. There was only a small Byzantine garrison on the island, which was overpowered without any difficulty. The islanders submitted to the Muslims, and agreed to pay a tribute of 7,000 dinars per year. The conquest of Cyprus was the first naval conquest of the Muslims. After Cyprus Muslim naval fleet headed towards the island of Crete and then Rhodes and conquered them with out much resistance. In 652-654, the Muslims lunched a naval campaign against Sicily and they succeeded in capturing a large part of the island. Soon after this Uthman was murdered, no further expansion was made, and the Muslims accordingly retreated from Sicily. In 655 Byzantione emperor Constans II led a fleet in person to attack the Muslims at Phoinike (off Lycia) but it was defeated: 500 Byzantine ships were destroyed in the battle, and the emperor himself risked being killed.

Byzantine attempt to re-conquer Syria

After the death of Umar, the Byzantine emperor, Constantine III, decided to re-capture the Levant, which had been lost to the Muslims during Umar’s reign. A full-scale invasion was planned and a force of 80,000 soldiers was sent to re-conquer Syria. Muawiyah, the governor of Syria, called for reinforcements and Uthman ordered the governor of Kufa to send a contingent, which together with the Syrians defeated the Byzantine army.

Re-Conquest of Armenia and Georgia

Armenia and Georgia were conquered during the reign of Umar. Initial raids took place under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid and Ayadh ibn Ghanam. Later Habib ibn Muslaimah was sent for a full-scale invasion up to the Black sea. During Uthman’s reign, a revolt broke out, and Uthman commissioned Habib ibn Muslaimah to reassert their control over Armenia and Georgia. The whole of the region was re-conquered. There was not much fighting, and on the approach of the Muslim armies, the Armenians laid down arms, and accepted the usual terms of the payment of Jizya (tribute). Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan were made one province under the name Azerbaijan; Ashat ibn Qais was the last governor of this province during Uthman's reign.

Occupation of Anatolia

The Byzantine forts in the region of Tarsus were conquered during Umar’s reign, soon after the Conquest of Antioch, by Khalid ibn Walid and Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah. During Uthman’s reign the region was recaptured by Byzantine forces and a series of campaigns were launched to regain control of the region. In 647 Muawiyah the governor of Syria sent an expedition against the Anatolia, they entered in Cappadocia, and sacked Caesarea Mazaca. In 648 the Rashidun army raided into Phrygia. A major offensive into Cilicia and Isauria in 650–651 forced the Byzantine emperor Constans II to enter into negotiations with Caliph Uthman's governor of Syria, Muawiyah. The truce that followed allowed a short respite, and made it possible for Constans II to hold on to the western portions of Armenia. In 654–655 on the orders of Caliph Uthman, an expedition was preparing to attack the Byzantine capital Constantinopole but did not carry out the plan due to the civil war that broke out in 656. The Taurus Mountains in Turkey marked the western most frontiers of Rashidun Caliphate in Anatolia during Caliph Uthman's reign.

Re-conquest of Fars (Iran)

The province of Fars in Persia was conquered by the Muslims during the Caliphate of Umar. In Uthman’s reign, like other provinces of Persia, Fars also broke into revolt. Uthman directed Abdullah ibn Aamir, the Governor of Basra, to take immediate steps to retrieve the situation. Accordingly, he marched with a large force to Persepolis; the city surrendered and agreed to pay tribute. From here the army marched to Al j bard, where, after a brief resistance, the Muslims captured the city, and the citizens agreed to pay tribute. Thereafter the Muslim force advanced to Jor. The Persians gave battle but they were defeated and the city was captured by the Muslims. Peace was made with the usual terms, the payment of Jizya. While the army was still in Jor, Persepolis again broke into revolt; Abdullah ibn Aamir then took his forces to Persepolis and laid siege to the city. After a violent battle the Muslims were able to regain control of the city once again. All of the leaders among the Persians who were involved in instigating the revolt were hunted down and executed. With the fall of Persepolis, other cities in Fars also submitted unconditionally. Thus the Muslims once again became the masters of Fars. Uthman’s appointed governor of Fars, after analyzing the situation, sent Islamic missionaries to various cities of the region to convert the people to Islam to avert future revolts. A large number of people embraced Islam.

Re-conquest of Sistan (Iran and Afghanistan)

In the 7th century, the Persian Empire's province of Sistan extended from the modern day Iranian province of Sistan to central Afghanistan and the Balochistan province of Pakistan.

Sistan was captured during the reign of Umar, and like other provinces of the Persian Empire, it also broke into revolt during Uthmans reign in 649. Uthman directed the governor of Bosra, Abdullah ibn Aamir to re-conquer the Persian province of Sistan. A column was sent to Sistan under the command of Rabiah ibn Ziyad. The first confrontation took place at Zaliq, a border town, during a Persian festival and with the Muslims victorious, the citizens asked for peace. It is said that the Muslim commander, Rabiah ibn Ziyad, stuck a pole in the ground and asked the Persians to pile gold and silver up to the top. Once it was done the Muslims left the citizens in peace.

Qarquqya, five miles from Zaliq was captured with out resistance. After that the army marched to Zaranj, in modern day south western Afghanistan. After a long siege, Zaranj finally surrendered with the usual terms of Jizya. Thereafter the Muslims marched northward into Afghanistan to subjugate the rest of the province, and the city of Qarbatin was conquered after a battle. Rabiah returned to Zaranj with a large amount of treasure and captives. Rabiah remained the governor of Sistan for two years, then he left for Bosra. As soon as he left the province of Sistan, it broke into revolt once again and expelled Rabiah's successor.

This time after obtaining the approval of Uthman, Abdullah ibn Aamir appointed Abdur Rahman ibn Sumrah to command the army in the invasion of Sistan. Abdur Rahman ibn Sumrah led the army to Sistan, and, after crossing the frontier and overcoming resistance in the border towns, advanced to Zaranj. The old story of siege, blockade and surrender was repeated. Abdur Rahman ibn Sumrah made peace, with the Persians undertaking to pay an annual tribute of 20 million dirham. The Persians also presented 100,000 slaves.

From Zaranj, the Muslim force advanced into the interior of Afghanistan and, after capturing the main town of Helmand, all towns were subjugated. Most of the towns surrendered without offering resistance. The Muslims reached the hill town of Zor, in modern day central Afghanistan. It is said that after capturing the town, Abdur Rahman ibn Sumrah entered the temple in the town, which had a huge idol with eyes of precious stones, he ordered it broken, saying to the priest that he did so to prove that this idol was capable of doing nothing, and constructed a mosque on the site. Thereafter Abdur Rahman ibn Sumrah marched northwards up to the Hindu Kush mountains in the northeast and captured Ghazni after some resistance and Kabul without any stiff resistance.

After making these conquests, Abdur Rahman ibn Sumrah returned to the provincial capital Zaranj and stayed there as governor till the end of the caliphate of Uthman.

Re-conquest of Tabaristan (Iran)

The Māzandarān Province (Tabaristan), which lies south of the Caspian Sea, was conquered during the reign of Umar, under the command of Nuaim ibn Muqarrin’s brother, Suwaid ibn Muqarrin. During Uthman’s reign it broke into revolt, and Uthman directed Saeed ibn Al Aas, the Governor General of Kufa, to suppress it. Saeed ibn Al Aas led a strong force of 80,000 warriors to Tabaristan under his personal command. The force included such eminent persons as `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, `Abd Allah ibn `Umar and Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr.

The army first entered Qom, which surrendered to them and they then advanced to Tamlisa, a coastal town. It put up a stiff resistance and after a fierce battle the Muslims overpowered the city. All the men were slaughtered and the women and children were made slaves. The harsh treatment by the Muslims of the citizens of Tamlisa, struck terror into the hearts of the people of other towns and they lost the will to resist.

The army thereafter overran the Gīlān Province and other parts of Tabaristan. Even the hilly tract which had not been conquered during the caliphate of Umar was brought under Muslim rule. Having re-conquered the whole of Tabaristan, Saeed ibn Al Aas planned to march to Khorasan, but when he found that Abdullah ibn Aamir, the Governor General of Basra, was already in Khorasan, Saeed ibn Al Aas returned to Kufa.

Re-conquest of Azerbaijan and Dagestan

Azerbaijan and Dagestan (Russia) were conquered during the reign of Umar and most of the region surrendered to the Muslims without a fight and agreed to pay tribute. Later in his reign it broke into revolt and was re-conquered by force, defeating the Persian forces were General Asfandyar and his brother Bahram.

During the Caliphate of Uthman, Utba bin Farqad remained the governor of the Azerbaijan province, which included modern day Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Dagestan, it was included in the military dominion of the province of Kufa. When Walid ibn Uqbah became the governor of Kufa he re-called Utba bin Farqad. In his absence the Azerbaijan province broke into revolt and Uthman directed Walid ibn Uqba to undertake the campaign to re-conquer it. Walid lunched a two pronged attack on Azerbaijan, one from Armenia and the main army under his personal command from Kufa. No pitched battles were fought during the conquest and most towns surrendered and agreed to pay a tribute of 0.8 million dirham annually. Ashat ibn Qais was made governor of Azerbaijan.

Re-conquest of Khorasan (Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan)

Khorasan, the province of the Persian Empire expanded from what is now north eastern Iran to western Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan. It was conquered during the reign of Umar, under the command of Ahnaf ibn Qais. After the death of Umar, Khorasan broke into revolt under Sassanid Emperor Yazdgerd III (betrayed and killed in 651), before he could lead the Persians against the Muslims.

In 651, Uthman sent Abdullah ibn Aamir, the governor of Bosra, to re-conquer Khorasan. Abdullah ibn Aamir marched with a large force from Bosra to Khorasan. After capturing the main forts in Khorasan, he sent many columns in various directions in Khorasan, the strategy was to avoid the Persians and to gather together in a large force. The town of Bayak, in modern day Afghanistan, was taken by force but the Muslim commander fell fighting in the battle. After Bayak, the Muslims marched towards Tabisan, which was captured with little resistance. Next, after a long siege, the army captured the city of Nishapur. From there the army captured other small towns in the Khurassan region. After consolidating their position in most of Khurassan, they marched towards Herat in Afghanistan, which surrendered peacefully. After getting control of the region the Muslims marched towards the city of Mary, in modern day Turkmenistan. The city surrendered along with other towns of the region except one, Sang, which was later taken by force. The campaign in Khorasan ended with the conquest of Balkh in 654.

Campaign in Transoxiana

After consolidating the Muslim authority in Khorasan, Abdullah ibn Aamir crossed the Amu Darya (Oxus River) and invaded Uzbekistan in southern Transoxiana. Details of these campaigns are not known but the source books tell us that a greater part of southern Transoxiana submitted to the suzerainty of Muslim rule.

Re-conquest of Makran (Pakistan)

Makran was conquered during the reign of Umar, in 644, when three columns were sent by three different routes under the command of Hakam ibn Amr, Shahab ibn Makharaq and Abdullah ibn Utban. At the western bank of the Indus River they defeated the Hindu king of Sindh, Raja Rasil. Umar ordered them to consolidate their position on the western bank of the Indus River and not to cross it.

During the reign of Caliph Uthman, Makran broke into revolt along with other Persian dominions. Uthman sent his commander, Ubaidhullah ibn Ma’ mar Tamini, to re-conquer Makran, along with other adjoining areas of Persia. In 650, the army under his command conquered it after series of skirmishes, however no pitched battles were fought. Ubaidullah ibn Ma’mar was made the first governor of the Makran region. Later he was given the governorship of another Persian region and was replaced, first by Umair ibn Usman ibn Saeed, and then Saeed ibn Qandir Qarshi, who remained governor until Caliph Uthman was murdered.

Conquest of Baluchistan (Pakistan)

In the 7th century, what is now the Balochistan province of Pakistan, was divided into two main regions, its south-western parts were part of the Kermān Province of the Persian Empire and the north-eastern region was part of the Persian province of Sistan. The southern region was included in Makran.

In early 644, Umar sent Suhail ibn Adi from Bosra to conquer the Kermān Province of Iran; of which he was made governor. From Kermān he entered western Balochistan and conquered the region near the Persian frontiers. South-western Balochistan was conquered during the campaign in Sistan the same year.

During Caliph Uthman’s reign in 652, Balochistan was re-conquered during the campaign against the revolt in Kermān, under the command of Majasha ibn Masood. It was the first time that western Balochistan had come directly under the Laws of Caliphate and it paid an agricultural tribute. In those days western Balochistan was included in the dominion of Kermān. In 654, Abdulrehman ibn Samrah was made governor of Sistan and an army was sent under him to crush the revolt in Zarang, which is now in southern Afghanistan. After conquering Zarang a column moved northward to conquer areas up to Kabul and Ghazni in the Hindu Kush mountains. At the same time another column moved towards the Quetta District in the north-western part of Balochistan and conquered an area up to the ancient city of Dawar and Qandabil (Bolan). By 654, the whole of what is now the Balochistan province of Pakistan was under the rule of the Rashidun Empire, except for the well-defended mountain town of QaiQan (now Kalat), which was conquered during Caliph Ali’s reign. Abdulrehman ibn Samrah made Zaranj his provincial capital and remained governor of these conquered areas from 654 to 656, until Uthman was murdered.

Campaign in Sindh (Pakistan)

The province of Sistan was the largest province of the Persian Empire, its frontiers extending from Sindh in the east, to Balkh (Afghanistan) in the northeast. The Islamic conquest of some parts of Sindh was extension of the campaign to conquer the Persian Empire in 643, by sending seven armies from seven different routes, to different parts of empire.

The army first entered Sindh during the reign of Umar, in 644. It was not a whole scale invasion of Sindh, but was merely an extension of the conquests of the largest province of Persia, Sistan and Makran regions. In 644, the columns of Hakam ibn Amr, Shahab ibn Makharaq and Abdullah ibn Utban concentrated near the west bank of Indus River and defeated the Hindu king of Sindh, Raja Rasil, his armies retreated and crossed the river.

In response to Umar’s question about the Makran region, the messenger from Makran who brought the news of the victory told him:

'O Commander of the faithful!
It's a land where the plains are stony;
Where water is scanty;
Where the fruits are unsavoury
Where men are known for treachery;
Where plenty is unknown;
Where virtue is held of little account;
And where evil is dominant;
A large army is less for there;
And a less army is use less there;
The land beyond it, is even worst (referring to Sind).

Thereupon, Umar, after listening to the unfavourable situation for sending an army, instructed Hakim bin Amr al Taghlabi that for the time being Makran should be the easternmost frontier of the Rashidun Empire, and that no further attempt should be made to extend the conquests. Thereupon, the commander of the army in Makran said the following verses:

If the Commander of faithful wouldn’t have stopped us from going beyond, so we would have bought our forces to the temple of prostitutes.

He was referring to the Hindu temple in the interior of Sindh where prostitutes used to give a part of their earnings as charity.

After the death of Umar, these areas, like other regions of the Persian Empire, broke into revolt and Uthman sent forces to re-conquer them. Uthman also sent his agent, Haheem ibn Jabla Abdi, to investigate the matters of Hind. On his return he told Uthman about the cities, and, after listening to the miserable conditions of the region Uthman avoided campaigning in the Sindh interior, and, like Umar he ordered his armies not to cross the Indus river.

Anti-Uthman sentiment

According to Muslim sources, unlike his predecessor, Umar, who maintained discipline with a stern hand, Uthman was less rigorous upon his people; he focused more on economic prosperity. 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 channel political activity, and, in the absence of such institutions, the pre-Islamic tribal jealousies and rivalries, which had been suppressed under earlier caliphs, erupted once again. In view of the democratic and liberal policies adopted by Uthman, the people took advantage of the liberties allowed them, and as such became a headache for the State, which culminated in the assassination of Uthman.

Moreover, the foreign powers became nervous at the success of the Muslims under the leadership of Uthman, and now their only hope lay in aiding and abetting subversive movements within the territories of Uthman's caliphate. According to some viewpoints, under such circumstances, leaders like Abdullah Ibn Saba, felt that it was a good opportunity to accomplish their aims of rebellion by starting arguments over religion. However, the figure Abdullah Ibn Saba is believed by many Sunni and Shia Muslims to be an imaginary one created by certain Sunni historians to stir up anti-Shia sentiment.

It is believed that the movement had its links with foreign countries. Due to the lack of any particular political department to deal with the growing political agitation in the Islamic state, the political leaders in various towns campaigned against Uthman. Initially, they started with arguments over Uthman's kinsmen, who were governors of Egypt, Bosra and Kufa and they were joined by the companions who supported Ali. The most prominent of these were Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and Ammar ibn Yasir, who supported the right of Ali to become caliph because of his close relationship with Muhammad. The campaign was also supported by some companions who had a personal grievance with Uthman, like ‘Amr ibn al-’As, who was stripped of the governorship of Egypt by Uthman, and Uthman's adopted son, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa, who Uthman had refused to appoint as a governor of any province.

The actual reason for the anti-Uthman movement is disputed among the Shia and Sunni Muslims. Many anonymous letters were written to the leading companions of Muhammad, complaining about the alleged tyranny of Uthman's appointed governors. Moreover, letters were sent to the leaders of public opinion in different provinces concerning the reported mishandling of power by Uthman's family. This contributed to unrest in the empire and finally Uthman had to investigate the matter in an attempt to ascertain the authenticity of the rumours. The movement however exploited differences between the Hashemite (Ali's clan) and Umayyad (Uthman's clan) clans of Quraysh.

Sunni Muslims consider these claims about the governors of Uthman, who achieved much success during their reign, to be untrue, while Sunni Muslims believe this to be a tactic used by seditionists to overthrow the realm of Uthman, by making him lose control over the main provinces of Egypt, Syria, Kufa and Bosra, where Uthman had appointed his own kinsmen for loyalty's sake. On the other hand Shia Muslims suggest that these claims were correct, and Uthman's kinsmen, although they achieved success as governors, failed to lead the people according to the principles of Islam, giving references to various early narrations present in primary sources of Islamic history. Sunni Muslims reject these narrations, on the basis that their authenticity is disputed.

Uthman's emissaries to the provinces

The situation was becoming tense and so the Uthman administration had to investigate the origins and extent of anti-government propaganda and its aims. Some time around 654, Uthman called all the governors of his 12 provinces to Medina to discuss the problem. In this Council of Governors, Uthman directed the governors that they should adopt all the expedients they had suggested, according to local circumstances. Later, in the Majlis al Shurah (council of ministry), it was suggested to Uthman that reliable agents should be sent to various provinces to investigate the matter and report about the sources of such rumours. Uthman accordingly sent his agents to the main provinces, Muhammad ibn Maslamah was sent to Kufa; Usama ibn Zayd was sent to Basra; Ammar ibn Yasir was sent to Egypt, while `Abd Allah ibn `Umar was sent to Syria. The emissaries who had been sent to Kufa, Basra, and Syria submitted their reports to Uthman, that all was well in Kufa, Basra and Syria. The people were satisfied with the administration, and they had no legitimate grievance against it. Some individuals in various locations had some personal grievances of minor character, with which the people at large were not concerned. Ammar ibn Yasir, the emissary to Egypt, however, did not return to Medina. The rebels had carried on with their propaganda in favour of the Caliphate of Ali. Ammar ibn Yasir had been affiliated with Ali; he left Uthman, and instead joined the opposition in Egypt. Abdullah ibn Saad, the governor of Egypt, reported about the activities of the opposition in Egypt. He wanted to take action against Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (foster son of Ali), Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa (adopted son of Uthman) and Ammar ibn Yasir. However, Uthman did not want Abdullah ibn Saad to be harsh against them because he held them in high regard. After the Egyptian emissary's failure, Uthman looked for further developments in Egypt.

Further measures

In 655, Uthman directed the people who had any grievance against the administration to assemble at Mecca for the Hajj. He promised them that all their legitimate grievances would be redressed. He directed the governors and the "Amils" through out the empire to come to Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj. In response to the call of Uthman, the opposition came in large delegations from various cities to present their grievances before the gathering.

Uthman addressed the people and gave a long explanation of the criticism about himself and his administration and then said:

I have had my 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 rebels realized that the people in Mecca supported the defence offered by Uthman and were not in the mood to listen to them. That was a great psychological victory for Uthman. It is said, according to Sunni Muslims accounts, that, before returning back to Syria, the governor Muawiyah, Uthman’s cousin, suggested Uthman to come with him to Syria as the atmosphere there was peaceful. Uthman rejected his offer saying that he didn't want to leave the city of Muhammad (referring to Medina). Muawiyah then suggested that he be allowed to send a strong force from Syria to Medina to guard Uthman against any possible attempt by rebels to harm him. Uthman rejected it too saying that the Syrian forces in Medina would be an incitement to a civil war, and he could not be party to such a move.

Agitation in Medina

After the Hajj of 655 things remained quiet for some time. With the dawn of the year 656, Medina, the capital city of Uthman, became a hotbed of intrigue and unrest. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr returned to Medina from Egypt, and assisted in leading a campaign against the Caliphate of Uthman.

When the crisis deepened in Medina, Uthman addressed the congregation in the Masjid-e-Nabawi and gave an explanation and rebuttal of all the claims against him. The general public was again satisfied with Uthman. He had hoped that after his speech in which he had explained his position, and offered full defence for his actions, the allegedly false propaganda against him would cease. The agitation against Uthman was not being led on the basis of any principles; it was prompted by ulterior motives to overthrow his Government.

Armed revolt against Uthman

The politics of Egypt played the major role in the propaganda war against the caliphate, so Uthman summoned Abdullah ibn Saad, the governor of Egypt, to Medina to consult with him as to the course of action that should be adopted. Abdullah ibn Saad came to Medina, leaving the affairs of Egypt to his deputy, and in his absence, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa staged a coup d'état and took power. On hearing of the revolt in Egypt, Abdullah hastened back but Uthman was not in a position to offer him any military assistance and, accordingly, Abdullah ibn Saad failed to recapture his power.

In middle of 656, Uthman’s governor of Kufa, Abu-Musa al-Asha'ari, was unable to control the province. In Basra the governor, Abdullah ibn Aamir, left for Hajj, and in his absence the affairs of the province fell into a state of confusion. The three main provinces of Egypt (which was already the center of the dissident movement), Kufa, and Basra became essentially independent from the Caliphate of Uthman, and became the center of revolt.

Rebels in Medina

From Egypt a contingent of about 1,000 people were sent to Medina, with instructions to assassinate Uthman and overthrow the government. Similar contingents marched from Kufa and Basra to Medina. They sent their representatives to Medina 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, which Ali turned down. The representatives of the contingent from Kufa waited on Al-Zubayr, while the representatives of the contingent from Basra waited on Talhah, and offered them their allegiance as the next Caliph, which were both turned down. In proposing alternatives to Uthman as Caliph, the rebels neutralized the bulk of public opinion in Medina and Uthman's faction could no longer offer a united front. Uthman had the active support of the Umayyads, and a few other people in Medina, but the rest of the people of Medina chose to be neutral and help neither side.

Siege of Uthman

The situation in Medina was a big gain for the rebels. When they felt satisfied that the people of Medina would not offer them any resistance, they entered the city of Medina and laid siege to the house of Uthman, essentially taking it over but not confining the Caliph. The rebels declared that no harm from them would come to any person who choose not to resist them. Uthman strongly instructed his supporters to refrain from violence but his 400 palace slaves appealed for permission to fight against the rebels, along with a thousand other citizens of Medina. Uthman freed all 400 slaves and ordered them to stay away from the civil war between the Muslims.

The early stage of the siege of Uthman’s house was not severe, the rebels merely hovered around the house and did not place any restrictions on him. Uthman went to the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi as usual, and led the prayers. The rebels offered prayers under the leadership of Uthman. While Uthman addressed the people in the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi he was criticized by opponents. At this the supporters of Uthman took up cudgels on his behalf. Tempers flared up on both sides, hot words were exchanged between the parties, and that led to the pelting of stones at one another. One of the stones hit Uthman, he fell unconscious and was carried to his house, still unconscious.

The proceedings in the mosque showed that most of the people of Medina (or at least those in the mosque) preferred not to fight, but to watch developments. When the rebels felt that the people of Medina were not likely to offer active support to Uthman, they changed their strategy, and tightened the siege of the house of Uthman, thus confining Uthman to his home. Uthman was denied the freedom to move about and was not allowed to go to the mosque.

As the days passed, the rebels intensified their pressure against Uthman. They forbade the entry of any food or provisions, and later water as well, into his house, even turning down a few widows of Muhammad. Ramlah bint Abi-Sufyan, a widow of Muhammad, came to see Uthman and brought some water and provisions for him but she was not allowed to enter. Another widow of Muhammad, and the daughter of the late Caliph Abu Bakr, Aisha, made a similar attempt, and she was also prevailed upon by the rebels to go back.

With the departure of the pilgrims from Medina to Mecca, the hands of the rebels were further strengthened, and as a consequence the crisis deepened further. The rebels understood that after the Hajj, the Muslims gathered at Mecca from all parts of the Muslim world might march to Medina to relieve Uthman. They therefore decided to take action against Uthman before the pilgrimage was over. During the siege, Uthman was asked by his supporters, who outnumbered the rebels, to let them fight against the rebels and rout them. Uthman prevented them in an effort to avoid the bloodshed of Muslim by Muslim. Unfortunately for Uthman, violence occurred anyhow. The gates of the palace of Uthman were shut and guarded by the renowned warrior, Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr. The sons of Ali, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, were also among those who guarded the gates of the palace. A skirmish erupted between the opponents and the supporters of Uthman at the gate, some anti-Uthman partisans were killed, and the rebels were finally pushed back. Among the supporters of Uthman, Hasan ibn Ali, Marwan and some other people were wounded.

When Uthman came to know of this action he said:

No, I do not want to spill the blood of Muslims, to save my own neck.

Assassination

Finding the gate of Uthman's palace strongly guarded by his supporters, the rebels climbed the back wall and snuck inside, leaving the guards on the gate unaware of what was going on inside. when the rebels entered his room and struck blows at his head. Naila, the wife of Uthman, threw herself on his body to protect him.

Raising her hand to protect him she had her fingers chopped off and was pushed aside, and further blows were struck until he was dead. The slaves of Uthman then counterattacked the assassins and, in turn, killed them. There was further fighting between the rebels and the slaves of Uthman, with casualties on both sides, after which the rebels looted the house.

After the assassination of Uthman, the rioters wanted to mutilate his body and were keen that he be denied burial. When some of the rioters came forward to mutilate the body of Uthman, his two widows, Nailah and Ramlah bint Sheibah, covered him, and raised loud cries which deterred the rioters.

When the women raised loud lamentations over the body of Uthman, the rebels left the house and the supporters of Uthman at gate hearing it, entered, but it was too late.

Thereafter the rioters maintained a presence round the house in order to prevent the dead body from being carried to the graveyard.

The funeral

After the body of Uthman had been in the house for three days, Naila, Uthman's wife, approached some of his supporters to help in his burial, but only about a dozen people responded. These included Marwan, Zayd ibn Thabit, 'Huwatib bin Alfarah, Jabir bin Muta'am, Abu Jahm bin Hudaifa, Hakim bin Hazam and Niyar bin Mukarram. The body was lifted at dusk, and because of the blockade, no coffin could be procured. The body was not washed, as Islamic teaching states that martyrs' bodies are not washed before burial. Thus 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 body. According to another account, no permission was obtained, and the body was carried to the graveyard in secret. Yet a third account states that when the rioters came to know that the 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.

Some people say that Ali attended the funeral, but there is, however, overwhelming evidence to the effect that Ali did not. Naila 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, Uthman's daughter.

The burial

The body was carried to Jannat al-Baqi, the Muslim graveyard.

It appears that some people gathered there, and they resisted the burial of Uthman in the graveyard of the Muslims. The supporters of Uthman insisted that the body would be buried in Jannat al-Baqi. Those who were opposed to such burial grew in strength, and, fearing lest such opposition might take a more ominous turn, the body of Uthman was taken to the neighbouring Jewish cemetery, Hush Kaukab, and buried there in a hurry.

The funeral prayers were led by Jabir bin Muta'am, and the dead body was lowered into the grave without much of a ceremony. After burial, Naila the widow of Uthman and Ayesha the daughter of Uthman wanted to speak, but they were advised to remain quiet due to possible danger from the rioters.

Family of Uthman

Uthman belonged to the Umayyad branch of the Quraish tribe, and was Muhammad's nephew. He was the son of Affan ibn Abi al-'As and Urwa bint Kariz. Urwa bore only two children from Affan: Uthman and his sister Amna. After the death of Affan, Urwa married Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt, to whom she bore three sons and a daughter:

Before converting to Islam, Uthman had two wives namely,

  • Umm'Amr bint Jandab
  • Fatimah bint Al Walid

He had following children from them,

From Umm'Amr bint Jandab

  • Amr
  • Khalid
  • Aban
  • Umar
  • Maryam

From Fatimah bint al-Walid

  • Walid
  • Said
  • Umm Said.

Amr, was the eldest son of Uthman, and during the pre-Islamic period, Uthman was known by the surname of Abu'Amr.

After his conversion to Islam he married

When she died, Uthman was married to her sister,

After the death of Muhammad's daughters, Uthman married to following women and had following children from them.

From Fakhta bint Ghazwan

  • Abdullah bin Uthman al-asghar, he died in early age.

From Umm Al-Nabeen bint Einiyah

  • Abdulmalik bin Uthman, he too died in early age.

From Ramla biny Sheibah

  • Ayesha bint Uthman
  • Umm Aban bint Uthman
  • Umm Amr bint Uthman

From Nailah bint Fraizah

  • Maryum

Legacy

Islamic history (at least the Sunni version of Islamic history) remembers Uthman in positive terms, calling him handsome, generous, and plain rather than luxurious. It is said that Uthman was one of the most handsome and charming men of his time. Uthman was well known for his reported generosity. During Muhammad's time, while in Medina, he financed the project for the construction of the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi and purchased the well Beer Rauma, which he dedicated to the free use of all Muslims. Uthman’s generosity continued after he became caliph.

Uthman apparently led a simple life even after becoming the Caliph of the Rashidun Empire, though it would have been easy for a successful businessman such as him to lead a luxurious life. The caliphs were paid for their services from bait al-mal, the public treasury, but Uthman never took any salary for his service as a Caliph, as he was independently wealthy. Uthman also developed a custom to free slaves every Friday, look after the widows and orphans, and give unlimited charity. His patience and endurance were among the characteristics that made him a successful leader. He was a devoted Muslim, As a way of taking care of Muhammad’s wives, he doubled their allowances. Uthman wasn't completely plain and simple, however: Uthman built a Palace for himself in Medina, known as Al-Zawar, with a notable feature being doors of precious wood. Although Uthman paid for the palace with his own money, Shia Muslims consider it his first step towards ruling like a King. Uthman's sister Amna bint Affan was married to Abdur Rahman bin Awf, one of the closest companion of Muhammad.

Sunni view of Uthman

According to the Sunni account of Uthman, he was married to two of Muhammad’s daughters at separate times, earning him the name Zun-Nurayn (Dhun Nurayn) or the "Possessor of Two Lights.". In this he was supposed to outrank Ali, who had married only one of Muhammad's daughters.

Sunni Muslims also consider Uthman as one of the ten Sahaba (companions) for whom Muhammad had testified that they were destined for Paradise, and one of the six with whom Muhammad was pleased when he died. He was a wealthy and very noble man. When he became khalifa, he used the same method Umar did.

Hadhrat Usman (RA) is regarded by Sunnis as a beacon of light who refused to participate in the civil conflict. The claims against his wealth do not detract from Hadhrat Usman's (RA) personal sacrifice against the rebels.

The primary negative item against the Rashidah Caliphate, as far as Sunni Islam is concerned, was lack of political maturity and lack of a constitutional, or regulated, means of succession and delegation of power). There was no vice-caliph who would ascend to power after the death of the current Caliph. There were also no term limits for a Caliphate administration, where the Caliph would retire and any vice-caliph would take over. This is seen as a major weakness of political Islam: the inability to have a peaceable change of power in a regulated manner.

Shia view of Uthman

According to the Shia view, Uthman is looked at negatively. The Shia do not believe that he was one of the Sahaba's destined to Paradise. The Shia's dispute that Uthman's "Possessor of Two Lights" title was to annoy Ali. They also believe that he did not outrank Ali because Ali was married to Muhammad's daughter Fatimah, who is considered to be the greatest woman that ever lived. Fatimah was from Muhammad's first marriage to Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.

Uthman was chosen to succeed the previous Caliph Umar, by a council of six men appointed by Umar. All of them, with the exception of Zubair and Ali, were related to Uthman. Shias believe Ali protested the committee's approval for Uthman. He was part of the Bani Ummayah family of which Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, a vilified figure amongst Shia Muslims, was head of. His appointment of family relatives, such as Muawiya and Marwan (a relative who had been expelled by Muhammad and was allowed back by Uthman), to high posts around the Muslim empire and their abuse of wealth and power irked the Ummah. Ali was from Banu Hashim the same family as Muhammad.

To Shia Muslims, Uthman's succession marked the beginning of the Umayyad dynasty, if not the first Umayyad ruler, which they believed to be unjust. Also they believe his succession was the continuation of a leadership usurpation that had started from Abu Bakr to Umar to finally Uthman.

Non-Muslims

Bernard Lewis, a 20th century Jewish scholar, says of Uthman:

Uthman, like Mu'awiya, was a member of the leading Meccan family of Ummaya and was indeed the sole representative of the Meccan patricians among the early companions of the Prophet with sufficient prestige to rank as a candidate. His election was at once their victory and their opportunity. That opportunity was not neglected. Uthman soon fell under the influence of the dominant Meccan families and one after another of the high posts of the Empire went to members of those families.

The weakness and nepotism of Uthman brought to a head the resentment which had for some time been stirring obscurely among the Arab warriors. The Muslim tradition attribute the breakdown which occurred during his reign to the personal defects of Uthman. But the causes lie far deeper and the guilt of Uthman lay in his failure to recognize, control or remedy them
.

David Samuel Margoliouth, a 20th-century Anglican scholar, says of Uthman:

He was no fighting man, as his subsequent history proved, for he shirked one battlefield, ran away from another, and was killed, priest-like, ostentatiously reading the Koran
.

E. A. Belyaev of the Communist-dominated Soviet Union says of Uthman:

Uthman's acquisitiveness and business talents gained full scope when he became caliph. He built himself a stone house in Medina with doors of precious wood and acquired much real estate in that city, including gardens and water sources. He had a large income from his fruit plantations in Wadi-ul-Qura, Hunain and other places, valued at 100,000 dinars, besides large herds of horses and camels on these estates.

Multiplying his riches at the expense of the Moslem treasury, Uthman also gave free use of the latter to some of the closest companions of Muhammad, attempting to justify his illegal actions by associating these most authoritative veteran Moslems with his own depredations. The "companions" applauded the caliph Uthman for his generosity and magnanimity, no doubt for solid reasons of self-interest.

Zubair ibn al-Awwam, for example, one of the better known amongst them, built tenement houses in Kufa, Basra, Fustat and Alexandria. His property was estimated at 50,000 dinars, in addition to which he possessed 1000 horses and 1000 slaves.

Another "companion," Talha ibn Ubaidullah, built a large tenement house in Kufa and acquired estates in Irak which brought in a daily 1000 dinars; he also built a luxurious house of brick and precious wood in Medina.

Abd-ar-Rahman ibn Auf, also an outstanding "companion," also built himself a rich and spacious dwelling; his stables contained 100 horses and his pastures 1000 camels and 10,000 sheep, and one quarter of the inheritance he left after his death was valued at 84,000 dinars.

Such acquisitiveness was widespread among the companions of the Prophet and Uthman's entourage
.

References

Also:

External links

Views of various Islamic historians on Uthman:

Views of the Arab Media on Uthman:

Shi'a view of Uthman:

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