|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 644–17 July 656|
|Title(s)||Thu Al-Nurayn, Amir al-Mu'minin|
‘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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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..
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.
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:
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Before converting to Islam, Uthman had two wives namely,
He had following children from them,
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Views of the Arab Media on Uthman:
Shi'a view of Uthman: