Uthman

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Uthman
عثمان
Rashidun Caliph Uthman ibn Affan - عثمان بن عفان ثالث الخلفاء الراشدين.svg
ʿUthmān in Islamic calligraphy
3rd Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate
Reign6 November 644 – 17 June 656
PredecessorUmar ibn al-Khattab
SuccessorAli ibn Abi Talib
Bornc. 576 or 579
Taif, Hejaz, Arabia
Died17 June 656 (35 AH) (aged 77–80)
Medina, Rashidun Caliphate
Burial
Spouse
(see more)
Issue
(among others)
TribeQuraysh (Banu Umayya)
FatherAffan ibn Abi al-As
MotherArwa bint Kurayz
ReligionIslam

Uthman (Arabic: عثمان, romanizedʿUthmān; c. 576 or 579 – June 656), also spelled Osman, was the third Rashidun caliph, ruling from November 644 until his assassination. He ruled for twelve years, the longest of all Rashidun caliphs, and during his reign, the Rashidun Caliphate reached its greatest extent. He is known for having ordered the compilation of the first standard version of the Quran.

Belonging to the Quraysh's aristocratic Umayyad clan, Uthman was an affluent merchant of Taif. Following his conversion to Islam in 611, he became a prominent companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In 615, Uthman married Muhammad's daughter Ruqayya and following her death, to another of Muhammad's daughter Umm Kulthum. His wives having been daughters of Muhammad earned him the honorific title Dhū al-Nurayn ('Possessor of the Two Lights').[1] Though Uthman didn't participate in the early Muslim battles, he extensively contributed his wealth in support of the Muslims. After Muhammad's death in 632, Uthman served as a close aide to the first and second caliphs Abu Bakr (r. 632–634) and Umar (r. 634–644) respectively. On his deathbed, Umar formed a six-member committee, including Uthman, to chose the next caliph amongst themselves which eventually elected Uthman.

Uthman continued his predecessor's policies of centralization and expansion, but notably initiated a relatively new tax policy, and also assigned his Umayyad kinsman to prominent roles. Under Uthman, the caliphate concluded its conquest of Persia, and also continued successful expansions into Byzantine territories. He was the first caliph to institute an integrated Muslim navy. Though Uthman was highly successful in expanding the caliphate, his nepotistic policies received him vehement opposition from numerous Muslims. In June 656, a group of Egyptian rebels besieged Uthman's house, and assassinated the caliph. The caliph was buried at a local Jewish cemetery, which was later extended to al-Baqi. His assassination marked the start of the First Muslim Civil War, as Uthman's brother-in-law Ali (r. 656–661) was elected the fourth caliph.

Uthman is viewed by historians to be one of the most successful caliphs. From an expansionist perspective, he is regarded as skilled in conflict management, as is evident from how he dealt with the heated and troubled early Muslim conquered territories. In Sunni Islam, Uthman is considered a devout and pious caliph, and also viewed as the third most righteous companion of Muhammad.

Origins and early life[edit]

Uthman's year of birth is uncertain with 576 and 579 cited by the early Islamic sources.[2] His father Affan ibn Abi al-As was a prominent Meccan merchant of the Umayyad clan. He was a close business associate of Awf ibn Abd Awf, and also reportedly witnessed the tragic death of the latter at the hands of a member of the Banu Jadhima.[3] Uthman's mother Arwa bint Kurayz was a cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[4]

In his early life, Uthman learnt how to write and is listed as one of the 22 Meccans "at the dawn of Islam" who knew how to write.[5] He became a wealthy merchant like his father.[6] His business flourished, making him one of the richest men among the Quraysh.[7][page needed]

Companionship of Muhammad[edit]

Conversion to Islam[edit]

On returning from a business trip to Syria in 611, he learned about Islam and had a discussion with Abu Bakr. Uthman decided to convert to Islam, and Abu Bakr brought him to Muhammad to declare his faith.[8] Uthman thus became one of the earliest converts to Islam and his conversion angered his clan Banu Umayya, which strongly opposed Muhammad's teachings.[9]

Migration to Abyssinia[edit]

In 613, Uthman, along with his wife Ruqayya, migrated to Abyssinia, being amongst the first migrants.[9] In Abyssinia, the couple bore a son Abd Allah, who was the first grandson of Muhammad. Scores of Muslims joined them later.[10][11]: 235–236  As Uthman already had some business contacts in Abyssinia, he continued to practice his profession as a trader and he continued to flourish.[12]

After four years, the news spread among the Muslims in Abyssinia that the Quraysh of Mecca had accepted Islam, and this acceptance persuaded Uthman, Ruqayya and other Muslims to return. However, when they reached Mecca, they found that the news about the Quraysh's acceptance of Islam was false. Nevertheless, Uthman and Ruqayya re-settled in Mecca.[10]: 167–169 [11]: 238  After a short period in Mecca, the couple migrated towards Medina.[8]

Migration to Medina[edit]

In 622, Uthman and his wife, Ruqayya, were among the third group of Muslims to migrate to Medina. In March 624, as Ruqayya was ailing, Uthman took care of her and couldn't participate in the Battle of Badr.[8] Ruqayya didn't recover from illness and died in the same month. After Muhammad saw Uthman grieving, he gave his daughter Umm Kulthum to Uthman for marriage. Uthman was married to Umm Kulthum in August 625.[13]

When Ali married Fatimah, Uthman bought Ali's shield for five hundred dirhams. Four hundred was set aside as mahr (dower) for Fatimah's marriage, leaving a hundred for all other expenses. Later, Uthman presented the armour back to Ali as a wedding present.[14][15]

Battles[edit]

Though Uthman did not participate in any major military campaigns and battles, he provided financial support for the Muslim community.[16][17] During the Battle of Badr, Muhammad ordered him not to participate in the battle. The Prophet would gest at Uthman's lack of military prowess and whenever he had an excuse to take Uthman out of a battle he would send him off to another task[18] .Uthman had a reputation of favouring family members. One way he displayed this was his habit of splitting war booty among his relatives to the exclusion of the combatants.[19][20]

Muhammad's last years[edit]

Uthman was also chosen as the negotiator for the Meccans in the Treaty of Hudaybiyya.[21] After Muhammad's demise, Uthman did not play any major political or military role in the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar, except for acting as a close advisor.[22]

Caliphate[edit]

Election of Uthman[edit]

In 644, the second caliph Umar was brutally wounded by the Persian slave Abu Lu'lu'a Firuz. Umar, on his deathbed, formed a committee (shūra) of six people to choose the next caliph from amongst themselves. The committee included Uthman, his brother-in-law Ali, childhood friend Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf,[23] and three of Muhammad's other prominent companions Talha ibn Ubayd Allah, Zubayr ibn al-Awwam and Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas. Umar commanded that, after his death, the committee should reach a final decision within three days, and the next caliph should take the oath of office on the fourth day.

On 6 November 644, the process took place, in which Talha was absent. Uthman and Ali voted for each other, Zubayr favored the former, and Sa'd supported the latter.[24] According to Wilferd Madelung, he was chosen as the only strong counter candidate to Ali as he alone could to some extent Ali's close kinship ties with Muhammad.[25] R. V. C. Bodley believed that after Umar's assassination, Ali rejected the caliphate as he disagreed with governing according to regulations established by Abu Bakr and Umar, and that Uthman accepted those terms which he failed to honour during his ten-year caliphate.[26][16] Following Abd al-Rahman's decision, the committee officially chose Uthman the third caliph and pledged their allegiance (ba'yah).[27][22]

Compilation of the Quran[edit]

In about 650 CE, Uthman began noticing slight differences in pronunciation of the Quran as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula into Persia, the Levant, and North Africa. In order to preserve the sanctity of the text, he ordered a committee headed by Zayd ibn Thabit to use caliph Abu Bakr's copy and prepare a standard copy of the Qur'an.[28][29] Thus, within 20 years of Muhammad's death, the Quran was committed to written form. That text became the model from which copies were made and promulgated throughout the urban centers of the Muslim world, and other versions are believed to have been destroyed.[28][30][31][32]

While the Shī‘ah use the same Qur'an as Sunni Muslims, they do not believe however that it was first compiled by Uthman.[33] The Shī‘ah believe that the Qur'an was gathered and compiled by Muhammad during his lifetime.[34][35][36]

Economic and social administration[edit]

The coins are of Persian origin and have an image of the last Persian emperor. Muslims added the sentence Bismillah to it.

Uthman was a shrewd businessman and a successful trader from his youth, which contributed greatly to the Rashidun Empire. Umar had established a public allowance and, on assuming office, Uthman increased it by about 25%. Umar had placed a ban on the sale of lands and the purchase of agricultural lands in conquered territories.[37] 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.[22]

Umar had been very strict in the use of money from the public treasury—indeed, 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 gifts from any quarter. During the time of Uthman, these restrictions were relaxed. Although Uthman still drew no personal allowance from the treasury, nor did he receive a salary, as he was a wealthy man with sufficient resources of his own, but, unlike Umar, Uthman accepted gifts and allowed his family members to do likewise from certain quarters.[7] Uthman honestly expressed that he had the right to utilize the public funds according to his best judgment, and no one criticized 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.[38]

Military expansion[edit]

Rashidun Caliphate at its peak under Uthman (654)

During his rule, Uthman's military-style was more autonomically in nature as he delegated much military authority to his trusted kinsmen of the Umayyad clan. Uthman appointed these Umayyad governors as the administers of each province. This strategy of Uthman was an effective method of rule as this much independent policy allowed more expansion, enlarging the caliphate's territories.[39]

Muawiyah I had been appointed the governor of Syria by Umar in 639 to stop Byzantine attacks from the sea during the Arab-Byzantine Wars. He succeeded his elder brother Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan, who died in a plague, along with Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, the governor before him, and 25,000 other people. Now under Uthman's rule in 649, Muawiyah was allowed to set up a navy, manned by Monophysitic Christians, Copts, and Jacobite Syrian Christian sailors and Muslim troops, which defeated the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean.[40][41][42][43][44]

In 651, (31 AH), Uthman sent Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Saad to reconquer the Maghreb, where he met the army of Gregory the Patrician, Exarch of Africa and relative of Heraclius, which is recorded to have numbered between 120,000 and 200,000 soldiers,[45] Although another estimate was recorded, Gregory's army was put at 20,000.[46][47][clarification needed] The opposing forces clashed at Sabuthilag (or Sufetula), which became the name of this battle. Records from al-Bidayah wal Nihayah state that Abdullah's troops were completely surrounded by Gregory's army. However, Abdullah ibn Zubayr spotted Gregory in his chariot and asked Abdullah ibn Sa'd to lead a small detachment to intercept him. The interception was successful, and Gregory was slain by Zubayr's ambush party. Consequently, the morale of Byzantine army started crumbling and soon they were routed.[45]

Some Muslim sources claim that after the conquest of northern Africa was completed by Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari,[48] Abdullah ibn Sa'd continued to Spain. Spain had first been invaded some sixty years earlier during the caliphate of Uthman. Other prominent Muslim historians, like Ibn Kathir,[49] have quoted the same narration. In the description of this campaign, two of Abdullah ibn Saad's generals, Abdullah ibn Nafiah ibn Husain, and Abdullah ibn Nafi' ibn Abdul Qais, were ordered to invade the coastal areas of Spain by sea, aided by a Berber force. They succeeded in conquering the coastal areas of Al-Andalus. It is not known where the Muslim force landed, what resistance they met, and what parts of Spain they actually conquered. However, it is clear that the Muslims did conquer some portion of Spain during the caliphate of Uthman, presumably establishing colonies on its coast. On this occasion, Uthman is reported to have addressed a letter to the invading force:

Constantinople will be conquered from the side of Al-Andalus. Thus, if you conquer it, you will have the honor 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.

Although raids by Berbers and Muslims were conducted against the Visigothic Kingdom in Spain during the late 7th century, there is no evidence that Spain was invaded nor that parts of it were conquered or settled by Muslims prior to the 711 campaign by Tariq.

Abdullah ibn Saad also achieved success in the Caliphate's first decisive naval battle against the Byzantine Empire, the Battle of the Masts.[50]

To the east, Ahnaf ibn Qais, chief of Banu Tamim and a veteran commander who conquered Shustar earlier, launched a series of further military expansions by further mauling Yazdegerd III near Oxus River in Turkmenistan[51][52] and later crushing a military coalition of Sassanid loyalists and Hephthalite Empire in the Siege of Herat.[51] Later, the governor of Basra, Abdullah ibn Aamir also led a number of successful campaigns, ranging from the suppression of revolts in Fars, Kerman, Sistan, and Khorasan, to the opening of new fronts for conquest in Transoxiana and Afghanistan.[53]

Map of the rebellions against Uthman

In the next year, AD 652, Futh Al-Buldan of Baladhuri writes that Balochistan was re-conquered during the campaign against the revolt in Kermān, under the command of Majasha ibn Mas'ud. It was the first time that western Balochistan had come directly under the laws of the Caliphate and it paid an agricultural tribute.[54][55] The military campaigns under Uthman's rule were generally successful, except for a few in the kingdom of Nubia, on the lower Nile.

Armed revolt against Uthman[edit]

Uthman appointed his kinsmen to all of the provincial governorships.[56] He gave the governorships of Kufa and Syria to his half-brother al-Walid ibn Uqba and cousin Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan. In 646, Uthman deposed from the governorship of Egypt Amr ibn al-As, the conqueror of the province who was popular among the Egyptian troop. He transferring fiscal responsibilities of Egypt to Abd Allah ibn Sa'd, his adopted brother.[57] The caliph granted a number of land and monetary grants to his relatives Marwan ibn al-Hakam and Sa'id ibn al-As.[58] In c. 650, general opinion turned against Uthman.[59] He was criticized for these appointments, accused of nepotism, and demands began that the Umayyad officials be removed from their posts.[60] The caliph also reportedly gave expensive gifts to his Umayyad kinsmen, and he became accused of manipulating treasury for personal gifts.[61] Noting an increase in anti-government tension around the caliphate, Uthman's administration decided to determine its origins, extent, and aims. Around 654, Uthman called all twelve provincial governors to Medina to discuss the situation.[62] During this council of governors, Uthman ordered that all resolutions of the council be adopted according to local circumstances. Uthman had been suggested that reliable agents be sent to various provinces to attempted to determine the source of the discontent. The caliph accordingly sent Muhammad ibn Maslamah to Kufa, Usama ibn Zayd to Basra, Ammar ibn Yasir to Egypt, and Abdullah ibn Umar to Syria. The agents sent to these areas reported that all was well as the people were generally satisfied with the administration. Ammar ibn Yasir, the emissary to Egypt, however, did not return and it was suspected that he been assassinated. According to the 9th century historian Sayf ibn Umar, Ammar abandoned Uthman for the Egyptian opposition, and became associated with the Saba'iyya group.[63] Abdullah ibn S'ad, the governor of Egypt, reported about the opposition's activities instead. He wanted to take action against Ali's foster son, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Muhammad bin Abi Hudhaifa, Uthman's adopted son, and Ammar ibn Yasir.[64]

Armed revolt against Uthman[edit]

The politics of Egypt played the major role in the revolt against the caliphate. The Governor of Egypt under Uthman, Abd Allah ibn Sa'd was criticized by Egyptians for heavy-handed governing and tax policies. After demands from the Egyptians, Uthman dismissed Abd Allah ibn S'ad as Egypt's governor and replaced him with Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr.[65]

After getting the post, while Ibn Abi Bakr and his supporters were on their way to Egypt, they came across the Caliph's envoy. The rebels searched for the envoy's personal belongings and founded a letter purportedly written by Uthman, which was to be sent to Abd Allah ibn Sa'd. In the letter, Uthman purportedly ordered death punishment for Ibn Abi Bakr and his supporters. Enraged by the letter, Ibn Abi Bakr and his supporters, then set off to Medina to threaten the caliph. After the rebels arrived, Ali saw the letter and had a conversation with Uthman, who claimed to have been unaware of the letter.[66] Historians have suggested that the letter may have been authored by Marwan ibn al-Hakam without Uthman's knowledge.[67]

Rebels in Medina[edit]

From Egypt, Kufa, and Basra, contingents of about 1,000 people apiece were sent to Medina, each with instructions to assassinate Uthman and overthrow the government.[68] Representatives of the Egyptian contingent waited on Ali, and offered him the Caliphate, but he turned them down. Representatives of the contingent from Kufa waited on Al-Zubayr, and those from Basra waited on Talha, each offering them their allegiance as the next Caliph, but both were similarly turned down. By proposing alternatives to Uthman as Caliph, the rebels swayed public opinion in Medina to the point where 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.[69]

Uthman's attempts to appease the dissidents[edit]

In 655, Uthman directed those with any grievance against the administration, as well as the governors and Amils throughout the caliphate, to assemble at Mecca for the Hajj, promising that all legitimate grievances would be redressed. Accordingly, large delegations from various cities came to present their grievances before the gathering.[70] After the caliph led a Friday prayer, he promised to listen to the people's grievances. He came on the minaret to deliver a sermon, though he was pelted with stones by the rebels.[71]

The rebels realized that the people in Mecca supported Uthman and were not inclined to listen to them.[72] This represented a great psychological victory for Uthman. It is said, according to Sunni Muslim accounts, that before returning to Syria, the governor Muawiyah, Uthman's cousin, suggested that Uthman should 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 (viz., 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 civil war, and he could not be party to such a move.[64]

Siege of Uthman[edit]

The early stage of the siege of Uthman's house was not severe, but, as the days passed, the rebels intensified the pressure against Uthman.[73] With the departure of the pilgrims from Medina to Mecca, the rebel position was strengthened further, and as a consequence the crisis deepened. 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, but Uthman refused, in an effort to avoid bloodshed among Muslims. Unfortunately for Uthman, violence still occurred. The gates of the house of Uthman were shut and guarded by the renowned warrior Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr,[73] along with Ali's sons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali.[74][75]

The rebels besieged Uthman and prevented him from getting water. After Ali was informed about this, he sent three waterskins brimming with water, which reached the thirsty caliph.[66]

Assassination[edit]

Uthman's grave in the Al-Baqi Cemetery, Medina

In June 656, a group of rebels climbed from the back of Uthman's house, crept inside, unbeknownst to the gate guards.[67] While Uthman was reading the Quran, the rebels plunged into the caliph's room and struck blows at his head, from which Uthman subsequently died at around the age of 77 or 80 years old.[76][77] The 8th-century historian Sayf ibn Umar cites al-Ghafiqi ibn Harb, Kinana ibn Bishr and Sudan ibn Humran as those who murdered the caliph with their hands.[78] According to al-Tabari (d. 923), some of Uthman's slaves-counter attacked, one of whom killed an assassin and was in turn killed by the rebels.[79] The rebels tried to decapitate Uthman's corpse, though his wife Na'ila intercepted and her fingers were cut off.[79][80]

Uthman's corpse had been in his house for two days until Na'ila approached his supporters to assist in the burial of the caliph. Al-Tabari cites Abu Jahm ibn Hudhayfa, Hakim ibn Hizam, Jubayr ibn Mut'im, Niyar ibn Mukram as the four people to bore away Uthman's body towards the al-Baqi cemetery.[81] The body was lifted at dusk, and since Uthman was assassinated in line of duty, his body was not washed and he was buried with the same clothes he was wearing at the time of his assassination in accordance with burial rules for martyrs.[82] 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 Uthman's daughter.[83]: 247, 248 

The funeral prayers were led by Jabir bin Muta'am, and the dead body was lowered into the grave with little ceremony. After burial, Naila and Aisha wanted to speak, but were discouraged from doing so due to possible danger from the rioters.[84][83]: 247 Since the rebels did not allow Uthman to be buried at al-Baqi, his supporters buried the caliph in the neighboring Jewish Kawkab cemetery.[85] During the early years of the Umayyad Caliphate, Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680) extended the al-Baqi to include Uthman's grave.

Appearance and character[edit]

Islamic calligraphy of Uthman in Hagia Sophia, Turkey

The historian al-Tabari notes that Uthman was of medium height, strong-boned and broad-shouldered, and walked in a bowlegged manner.[86] He is said to have had large limbs, with fleshy shins and long, hairy forearms.[87] Though commonly described as having been very handsome with a fair complexion,[86] when viewed up close, light scars from a childhood bout of smallpox were said to have been evident on his face.[88] He had a full reddish-brown beard to which he applied saffron[86] and thick curly hair which grew past his ears, though receded at the front.[88] His teeth were bound with gold wire,[88] with the front ones being noted as being particularly fine.[87] The conquests into Iran, Afghanistan and Armenia had begun.[89]

Unlike his predecessor Umar, Uthman was not a skilled orator, having grown tongue-tied during his first address as caliph. He remained somewhat apart from the other close Sahaba, having been an elegant, educated and cultured merchant-prince standing out among his poorer compatriots. This was a trait which had been acknowledged by Muhammad. One story relates that Aisha, having noted that Muhammad reclined comfortably and spoke casually with Abu Bakr and Umar, asked him why when he addressed Uthman, he chose to gather his clothing neatly and assume a formal manner. Muhammad replied that "Uthman is modest and shy and if l had been informal with him, he would not have said what he had come here to say".[88]

Uthman was a family man who led a simple life even after becoming the caliph, despite the fact that his flourishing family business had made him rich.[19] It was asked of Uthman why he did not drink wine during the Age of Ignorance, when there was no objection to this practice (before the revelation of Islam). He replied: "I saw that it made the intellect flee in its entirety, and I've never known of something to do this and then return in its entirety."[90] Uthman had such great character that Muhammad said that if he had forty daughters, he would marry all of them to Uthman.[8]

Assessment and legacy[edit]

A schematic diagram of the Umayyad ruling family with caliphs highlighted in blue, green and dark yellow
Family tree of the Umayyad clan and dynasty. Uthman is highlighted in green, his cousin Marwan and the line of caliphs descended from him in blue, the Sufyanid caliphs in yellow.

Uthman adopted the title Khalifat Allah ('deputy of God'), instead of Khalifat Rasul Allah ('deputy of the messenger of God'), the title used by the two caliphs who preceded him.[91] The former title later became the standard of the Umayyad caliphs.[92] Madelung asserts that "the caliph [Uthman] now reigned by the grace of God and His representative on earth, no longer as a deputy of the Messenger of God".[93]

From an expansionist perspective, Shaban considers Uthman skilled in conflict as is evident from how he dealt with the heated and troubled early Muslim conquered territories, by directing the hot-headed Arab settlers to new military campaigns and expansions.[94] This not only resulted in settling the internal conflicts in those settlements, but also further expanded Rashidun territory to as far west as southern Iberia and as far east as Sindh, Pakistan.[95][96]

The actual reason for the anti-Uthman movement is disputed among the Shia and Sunni Muslims.[69] According to Sunni sources, unlike his predecessor Umar, who maintained discipline with a stern hand, Uthman was less rigorous, focusing more on economic prosperity. Under Uthman, the people became 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 their absence, the pre-Islamic tribal jealousies and rivalries, which had been suppressed under earlier caliphs, erupted once again. The people took advantage of Uthman's leniency, which became a headache for the state, culminating in Uthman's assassination.[70]

Historians generally conclude that the opposition to Uthman was primarily because of his nepotistic policies. According to R. V. C. Bodley, Uthman subjected most of the Islamic nation to his relatives, Bani Umayya, who were partially accursed during Muhammad's lifetime.[20][97][98] According to Wilferd Madelung, during Uthman's reign, "grievances against his arbitrary acts were substantial by standards of his time. Historical sources mention a lengthy account of the wrongdoings he was accused of... It was only his violent death that came to absolve him in Sunni ideology from any ahdath and make him a martyr and the third Rightly Guided Caliph."[99] According to Keaney Heather, Uthman, as a caliph, relied solely on his own volition in picking his cabinet, which led to decisions that bred resistance within the Muslim community. Indeed, his style of governance made Uthman one of the most controversial figures in Islamic history.[100]

The resistance against Uthman arose because he favoured family members when choosing governors, reasoning that, by doing this, he would be able to exact more influence on how the caliphate was run and consequently improve the capitalist system he worked to establish. The contrary turned out to be true and his appointees had more control over how he conducted business than he had originally planned.[19] They went so far as to impose authoritarianism over their provinces. Indeed, 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.[101] Wilferd Madelung discredits the alleged role of Abdullah ibn Saba in the rebellion against Uthman and observes that few if any modern historians would accept Sayf's legend of Ibn Saba.[102] According to Bernard Lewis, a 20th-century scholar, Uthman wasindeed 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, 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.[103]

Perhaps the most significant act of Uthman was allowing Muawiya and Abdullah ibn Saad, governors respectively of Syria and Northern Africa, to form the first integrated Muslim navy in the Mediterranean Sea, rivalling the maritime domination of the Byzantine Empire.[104][105] Ibn Saad's conquest of the southeast coast of Spain, his stunning victory at the Battle of the Masts in Lycia, and expansion to other coasts of the Mediterranean Sea are generally overlooked. These achievements gave birth to the first Muslim standing navy, thus enabling the first Muslim maritime conquest of Cyprus and Rhodes.[106][104][105] This subsequently paved the way for the establishment of several Muslim states in the Mediterranean Sea during the later Umayyad and Abbasid eras,[107][108] which came in the form of the Emirate of Sicily[109] and its minor vassal the Emirate of Bari,[110][111] as well as the Emirate of Crete[112] and the Aglabid Dynasty.[113] The significance of Uthman's naval development and its political legacy was agreed upon by Muhammad M.Ag, author of Islamic Fiscal and Monetary Policy[114] and further strengthened by Hassan Khalileh referencing Tarikh al Bahriyya wal Islamiyya fii Misr wal Sham ("History of the Seas and Islam in Egypt and Levant") by Ahmad Abaddy and Esayyed Salem.[115]

Muslim view[edit]

Uthman is considered as one of the four rightly-guided (rashid) caliphs by the Sunni. The chronological sequence of their accession is matched to their superiority among the companions of Muhammad.[116] In the Sunni doctrine of sābiqa, Uthman is viewed as inferior to his predeccessors, but superior to his successor.[117]

The general opinion of the Sunni Muslim community and Sunni historians regarding Uthman's rule were positive, particularly regarding his leniency; in their view, his alleged nepotism concerned the kinsmen he appointed, such as Muawiya and Abdullah ibn Aamir, proven to be effective in both military and political management. Historians, like Zaki Muhammad, accused Uthman of corruption, particularly in the case of Waleed ibn Uqba.[118]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Online[edit]

'Uthmān ibn 'Affān Muslim caliph, in Encyclopædia Britannica Online, by Asma Afsaruddin, Gita Liesangthem, Surabhi Sinha, Noah Tesch and The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

External links[edit]

Media related to Uthman at Wikimedia Commons

Views of the Arab Media on Uthman:

Shia view of Uthman:

Uthman
Cadet branch of the Quraysh
 Died: June 20 656
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by Caliph of Islam
Rashidun Caliph

11 November 644 – 20 June 656
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by Ruler of Persia
651–656
Merged into
Caliphate