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Uthman ibn Affan
3rd Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate
Rashidun Caliph in Medina
Islamic Empire during Uthman's reign
The Generous
Full Name ʻUthmān ibn ʻAffān
(عثمان بن عفان)
Reign 11 November 644 – 20 June 656
Born 576 CE (47 BH)
Birthplace Taif, Arabia
Died 17 June 656 CE (18th Zulhijjah 35 AH)[1][2](aged 79)
Deathplace Medina, Arabia, Rashidun Empire
Place of Burial Jannat al-Baqi, Madinah
Predecessor Umar ibn al-Khattab
Successor Ali ibn Abi-Talib
Father Affan ibn Abi al-'As
Mother Urwa bint Kariz
Sister(s) Amna

Ruqayyah bint Muhammad
Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad
Naila bint al-Farafsa
Ramla bint Shuibat
Fatima bint al-Walid
Fakhtah bint Ghazwan
Umm Al-Banin bint Unaib

Umm Amr bint Jundub
Son(s) • Amr (عمرو)
• Umar (عمر)
• Khalid (خالد)
Aban (أبان)
• Abdullah Al-Asghar
(عبد الله الأصغر)
• Al-Walid (الوليد)
• Saeed (سعيد)
• Abdulmalik (عبدالملك)
Daughter(s) • Maryam (مريم)
• Umm Uthman (أم عثمان)
• Ayesha (عائشة)
• Umm Amr (أم عمرو)
• Umm Aban Al-Kabri
(أم أبان الکبرى)
• Aurvi (أروى)
• Umm Khalid (أم خالد)
• Umm Aban Al-Sagri
(أم أبان الصغرى)
Descendants Usmani (عثمانی)
Other Titles

ذو النورين ("zun-Noorain", Possessor of Two Lights)
الكريم ("Al Kareem", The Generous)

الفاروق ("Al-Faruq", Distinguisher between truth and false)

Uthman ibn Affan (Arabic: عثمان بن عفان‎, strict transliteration: ʻUthmān ibn ʻAffān; also known in English by the Turkish and Persian rendering Osman; 576 – 17 June 656) was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and the third of the Sunni Rashidun or "Rightly Guided Caliphs". Born into a prominent Meccan clan of the Quraysh tribe, he played a major role in early Islamic history, succeeding Umar ibn al-Khattab as caliph at age 65. He was also the prophet's son-in-law twice, being married to two of the prophet’s daughters Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum (he was married to the second daughter after the first passed away).

The name of Uthman with Islamic calligraphy.

Under the leadership of Uthman, the empire expanded into Fars in 650 (present-day Iran), some areas of Khorasan (present-day Afghanistan) in 651 and the conquest of Armenia was begun in the 640s.[3]


  • Early life 1
    • Conversion to Islam 1.1
    • Migration to Abyssinia 1.2
    • Migration to Medina 1.3
    • Life in Medina 1.4
    • Battles 1.5
    • Muhammad's last years 1.6
  • Caliph Abu Bakr's era (632–634) 2
  • Election of Uthman 3
  • Reign as a Caliph (644–656) 4
    • Economical and social administration 4.1
      • Economic reforms 4.1.1
      • Military expansion 4.1.2
      • Uthman's emissaries to the provinces 4.1.3
      • Further measures 4.1.4
  • Armed revolt against Uthman 5
    • Rebels in Medina 5.1
    • Siege of Uthman 5.2
  • Assassination 6
    • Funeral 6.1
    • Burial 6.2
  • Character 7
  • Uthman's family tree 8
  • Legacy 9
    • Anti-Uthman sentiment 9.1
    • Modern historians view 9.2
    • Sunni view 9.3
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Uthman was born in 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 travelling 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.[4] His mother was Awra who was the daughter of Um Hakim bint Abdul Mutalib, who was the twin sister of Abdullah, father of Muhammad, and therefore his first cousin. She also died before AD 610.[5][6]

Conversion to Islam

On returning from a business trip to Syria in 611, Uthman found out that Muhammad had declared his mission. After a discussion with his friend Abu Bakr, Uthman decided to convert to Islam, and Abu Bakr took him to Muhammad to whom he declared his faith. Uthman thus became one of the earliest converts to Islam, following Ali, Zayd, Abu Bakr and few others. His conversion to Islam angered his clan, the Banu Ummayyah, who strongly opposed Muhammad's teachings.[7]

Migration to Abyssinia

Uthman and his wife Ruqayya migrated to Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) in 614–15, along with 11 men and 11 women, all Muslims. As Uthman already had some business contacts in Abyssinia, he continued to practise his profession as a trader. He worked hard and his business soon flourished. After two years the news had spread among the Muslims in Abyssinia that the Quraysh of Mecca had accepted Islam, and that persuaded Uthman, Ruqayya and some other Muslims to return. However, when they reached Mecca 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.[8]

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.[9]

Life in Medina

When Ali married Fatimah, Uthman bought Ali's armor 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 armor back to Ali as a wedding present.[10][11]


During the Nakhla Raid ordered by Muhammad, his brother Nawfal bin Abdullah ibn al-Mughirah was captured and taken prisoner by Abd-Allah ibn Jahsh[12]

According to the Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir, Muhammad refused to accept ransom for Nawfal bin Abdullah ibn al-Mughirah (Uthman's brother) and another captive, until he was sure his companions were safe, he also threatened to kill the captives. Muhammad said: "For we fear for their safety with you. If you kill them, we will kill your people", Ibn Kathir cites Ibn Ishaqs 7th century biography of Muhammad as the primary source for this quote.[12] The Muslim scholar Muhammad Husayn Haykal also mentions this and said the verse which permitted Muslims to fight in the months which were considered sacred by the Arab pagans (i.e. 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) had "brought the Muslims relief", and that then Muhammad had accepted his share of the booty.[13] The 2 companions in question were Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas and `Utbah bin Ghazwan who had lost their camels and gotten lost, Muhammad feared that Quraysh may find them and kill them.[12]

Furthermore, during the Invasion of Hamra al-Asad a Meccan spy Muawiyah bin Al Mugheerah, the cousin of Uthman ibn Affan, had been captured. According to the Muslim scholar Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, Uthman gave him shelter after getting permission from Muhammad, and Muhammad told him if he was caught again after 3 days he would be executed. So Muawiyah was given a grace period of three days and arranged a camel and provisions for his return journey to Mecca. Uthman departed with Muhammad for Hamra-al-Asad, and Muawiyah overstayed his grace. Though he fled by the time the army returned, Muhammad ordered his pursuit and execution. The orders were carried out.[14][15]

Muhammad's last years

In 632 the year Muhammad died, Uthman participated in The Farewell Pilgrimage along with him.[4] In 632 .

Caliph 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 selected 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 deathbed, Abu Bakr dictated his will to Uthman, saying that his successor was to be Umar.[16]

Election of Uthman

Umar, on his deathbed 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 every member of the committee separately. He asked them for whom they would cast their vote. When Ali was asked, he didn't reply. When Uthman was asked, he voted for Ali, Zubayr said for Ali or Uthman. and Saad said for Uthman.[16]

Reign as a Caliph (644–656)

Economical and social administration

Economic reforms

The coins were of Persian origin, and had an image of the last Persian emperor, Muslim 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 fixed the allowance of the people 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.[17] 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.[16]

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.[4] 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.[18]

Military expansion

During his rule Uthman's Military style was more autonomical in nature as he delegated so much military authority to his trusted kinsmen like Abdullah ibn Aamir, Muawiyah I, and Abdullāh ibn Sa‘ad ibn Abī as-Sarâḥ unlike the tenure of Umar where the military expansion was generally centralized in Umar's authority. consequently this more independent expansion enabled more overarching expansion until Sindh, Pakistan which was not touched during the tenure of Umar[19]

Muawiyah I was appointed the Governor of Syria by Umar earlier In 639 after his elder brother Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan (Governor of Syria) died in a plague, along with Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah the governor before him and 25,000 other people. To stop the Byzantine harassment from the sea during the Arab-Byzantine Wars. Now under Uthman's rule in 649 Muawiyah was allowed set up a navy; manned by Monophysitise Christians, Copts and Jacobite Syrian Christians sailors and Muslim troops. This resulted in the defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean.[20][21][22][23][24]

In 31 Hijri year or around 651 AD Year Caliph Uthman was sent Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Saad to lead reconquest expedition towards Maghreb where he met the army of Gregory the Patrician, Exarch of Africa and relative of Heraclius which number was recorded as 120.000 to 200.000 soldiers[25] although another estimation was record Gregor's army was put in 20.000.[26][27] the opposing forces were clashed in the place which called Sabuthilag or alternately called Sufetula, which became the name of this battle. Records from al-Bidayah wal Nihayah desrcribed as following that Abdullah's troop were completely surrounded by Gregor's army in circular fashion and the situation was very dire for Muslim army as they were threatened with annihilation. However, in one time Abdullah ibn Zubayr has spotted Gregor in his chariot and soon he asking request to Abdullah ibn Sa'd to lead a small detachment to intercept Gregor. the interception was successful as Gregor was slain in by Zubayr's ambush party. Consequently, the morale of Byzantine army was started crumbling and soon they were routed[25] although another estimation was record Gregor's army was put in 20.000.[26]

Later after the conquest of Northern Africa was completed According to Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari,[28] Abdullah ibn Sa'd continued the conquest to Spain. Spain was first invaded some sixty years earlier during the caliphate of Uthman. Other prominent Muslim historians like, Ibn Kathir,[29] have also quoted the same narration. the description of this campaign were 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 aided by a Berber force landed in Spain, and 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. In any case, 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:

Abdullah ibn Saad also continued his success in the very first Caliphate Naval battle against the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of the Masts which is described as the first decisive conflict of Islam on the deep of Byzantine offshore.[30]

Rashidun Empire at its peak under third Rashidun Caliph, Uthman- 654
  Strongholds of Rashidun Caliphate

On the east Ahnaf ibn Qais, chief of Banu Tamim and a veteran commander who conquer Shustar earlier. Now in Uthman's regime Ahnaf launched a series of successful further military expansions by further mauling Yazdegerd III near Oxus River in Turkmenistan[31][32] and later crushing the military coalition of Sassanid empire loyalists and Hephthalite Empire in the Siege of Herat.[31] Later the governor of Basra, Abdullah ibn Aamir also lead successful various campaign which ranged from punitive Re-conquest of the revolting population of Fars, Kerman, Sistan, Khorasan to the opening of new conquest fronts in Transoxiana and Afghanistan.[33][34]

In the next year of 652 AD, the translation of records from Futh Al- Buldan of Baladhuri write 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 Caliphate and it paid an agricultural tribute.[35][36]

The military campaigns under Uthman's rule was generally successful except a few campaign to the kingdom of Nubia in the lower Nile

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.[37]

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" throughout 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.[38]

The rebels realized that the people in Mecca supported the defence offered by Uthman and were not in the mood to listen to them.[7] That was 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 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 (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 civil war, and he could not be party to such a move.[37]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41]

Siege of Uthman

The early stage of the siege of Uthman’s house was not severe, but as the days passed, the rebels intensified their pressure against Uthman.[42] 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 house of Uthman were shut and guarded by the renowned warrior, Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr.[42] The sons of Ali, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, were also among the guards;[43] while amongst those inciting the people to fight included Aisha,[44] one of the wives of Muhammad.


Finding the gate of Uthman's house strongly guarded by his supporters, the rebels climbed the back wall and sneaked inside, leaving the guards on the gate unaware of what was going on inside. The rebels entered his room and struck blows at his head.[45] 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 supporters of Uthman then counterattacked the assassins and, in turn, killed them. There was further fighting between the rebels and the supporters of Uthman, with casualties on both sides, after which the rebels looted the house.[46]

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. The rebels left the house and the supporters of Uthman at gate hearing it, entered, but it was too late.[47]


Uthman's tomb

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, Jubayr ibn Mut'im, Abu Jahm bin Hudaifa, Hakim bin Hazam and Niyar bin Mukarram.[48] 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 supposed to be washed before burial. Thus Uthman was carried to the graveyard in the clothes that he was wearing at the time of his assassination.[49]

His body was buried by Hassan, Hussein, Ali and others however some people reject that Ali attended the funeral[50] 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 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 should be buried in Jannat al-Baqi. They later buried him in the Jewish graveyard behind Jannat al-Baqi. Some decades later, the Umayyad rulers demolished the wall separating the two cemeteries and merged the Jewish cemetery into the Muslim one to ensure that his tomb was now inside a Muslim cemetery.[51]

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 Aisha the daughter of Abu Bakir wanted to speak, but they were advised to remain quiet due to possible danger from the rioters.[52]


Uthman apparently led a simple life even after becoming the Caliph of the Rashidun Empire, even though he was rich due to his flourishing family business. 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.[7] 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. 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.[4]

Uthman's family tree

Quraysh tribe
Abd Manaf ibn Qusai
Ātikah bint Murrah
‘Abd Shams
Salma bint Amr
Umayya ibn Abd Shams
‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abu al-'As
ʿAbd Allāh
Abî Ṭâlib
ʾAbī Sufyān ibn Harb
Hakam ibn Wa'il
Affan ibn Abi al-'As
(Family tree)
Khadija bint Khuwaylid
`Alî al-Mûrtdhā
Khawlah bint Ja'far
ʿAbd Allâh
Marwan I
Uthman ibn Affan
Fatima Zahra
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
ʿAli bin ʿAbd Allâh
Umayyad Caliphate
Uthman ibn Abu-al-Aas
Hasan al-Mûjtabâ
Husayn bin Ali
(Family tree)
al-Mukhtār ibn Abī ‘Ubayd Allah al-Thaqafī
Muhammad "al-Imâm" (Abbasids)


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 lenient policies adopted by Uthman, the people took advantage of such liberties, which became a headache for the state, and it culminated in the assassination of Uthman.[38]

The actual reason for the anti-Uthman movement is disputed among the Shia and Sunni Muslims.[41] 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.[53] 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.[54] Although the view shared by Madelung was largely debated, it was based on the influence regarding the bias of Shiite view[55][55][56][56] and the assertions of Bernard Lewis, that argued the mythical status of Abdullah bin Saba' was a result of simplified political unrest, during the time of Caliph Uthman and caliph Ali[57] that casted being despite being recorded by earliest Islamic scholars comprehensive recording outside the mainstream subjects of recording such as Tabari which rarely reviewed to the scope of many modern historians[58]

Modern historians view

Bernard Lewis, a 20th-century 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

According to R. V. C. Bodley, during Muhammad's lifetime Uthman was not an outstanding figure and was not assigned to any authority, and was not ever distinguished in any of Muhammad's campaigns.[60][61] Bodley also 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, being less honest than Ali, accepted those terms[62] which he failed to administrate during his ten years Caliphate.[60] He subjected most of the Islamic nation to his relatives, Bani Umayya, who were partially accursed during Muhamad's lifetime.[61][63][64] Uthman compiled the Qur'an, and burnt its other copies. Uthman's governing policies and nepotism led to openly rise of dissatisfaction and resistance throughout most of the empire, especially among noble Companions of Muhammad [60][63][65]

Sunni view

However, the general opinion of the Muslim community and historians regarding Uthman's rule were positive regarding his leniency and accused nepotism was in fact the kinsmen whom he appointed such as Muawiya and Abdullah ibn Aamir was proven to be competent and effective in both of military and political management affairs. Historians like Zaki Muhammad accusing Uthman for allegation corruption particularly in the case of Waleed ibn Uqba. Muhammad Zaki accuse Walid for the one of the worst of Uthman's nepotistic relative as he points out the diminising features of Walid's dishonesty and unpopularity among the peoples of caliphate.[66] However another historian regard Walid was not as bad. Dr. A.M. Sallabi asserting Walid has fine qualities which is trusted and reliable by both of these two caliphs, one of those to whom important tasks could be entrusted. He further said Al- Waleed was one of the most beloved to the people, and one of the kindest to them. For five years there was no gate at his house.[67].

In another case is another Uthman's relative named Marwan bin Hakam, the one which instigate the controversy regarding nepotism was the case of the Marwan corruption of the spoils of war from the conquest of northern Africa. However, it is argued that that is non existent because the allegation of corruption was originated from the misconception regarding the how Marwan transport the spoils tribute to the capital. Marwan not directly sent the tribute of spoils of war because it was not efficient as the spoils of war was in the form of cattle and hardware. so he instead sold the spoils of war first then the treasury in the form of Dinars, which easier to be transported was sent directly to the caliph.[68]

This treatment was similar with Abdullah ibn Saad. Despite him being unpopular among the newly conquered populace in northern Africa particularly after he replaced popular Amr ibn al 'Aas he was however proven as capable as Muawiya and Abdullah ibn Aamir.[68]

Perhaps the most significant act of Uthman was his allowance to Muawiya and Abdullah ibn Saad, both respectively governor of Syria and Northern Africa to form the first integrated Muslim Navy in the Mediterranean sea, rivaling the maritime domination of Byzantine empire.[69][70] Abdullah ibn Saad's feats in conquering southeast coast of Spain and stunning victory of Battle of the Masts in Lycia which became the milestone of newly formed Rashidun's navy and the extensions of conquest to the coasts of Mediterranean Sea was generally overlooked as its successfully giving birth to an embryo of the very first Muslim standing Navy which helped the first Maritime colonial expansion of Muslim towards Cyprus[69][70] and Rhodes island,[71][72] subsequently paving the way for establishments of several Muslim states in Mediterranean sea during the later Umayyad and Abbasid era[73][74] which is evident in the form of consistently emerging Muslim naval states in the form Emirate of Sicily[75] and its minor vassal Emirate of Bari which formed from the servant or slave of Aghlabids,[76][77] and Emirate of Crete[78] and Aglabid Dynasty.[79] This assessment regarding political legacy regarding the significance of Muslim naval development was agreed by Muhammad, the author of "Islamic Fiscal and Monetary policy"[80] and further strengthened by Hassan Khalileh referencing Tarikh al Bahriyya wal Islamiyya fii Misr wal Sham by Ahmad Abaddy and Esayyed Salem[81]

From the view of expansions Uthman was viewed as good at conflict managements regarding how to dispute the heated and troubled earliest Muslim colonies such as Kufa or Basra by directing the hot headed Arab settlers to the new military campaign and expansions.[82] Which not only resulting settling down the internal conflicts in those settlement garrisons but also expanding the Rashidun's territory further, as the Rashidun caliphate was reached the most extend as far as southern Iberia which campaign led by Abd Allah bin Nafi al Husayn and Abd Allah bin Nafi al Abd al Qays[83] and even Sindh, Pakistan.[84]

Another subject of debate exists regarding the controversy of Uthman authority about policy to include horses as an object of levied by Zakat. The issue was said was being instigated by Abdullah Ibn Saba, a Jewish figure during the time of caliphate who is said as the originator of Shiite sect, towards many governors of caliphate provinces. The history apologetic view argued that Uthman considering this policy because he felt that horses were commercialized so much during his rule after caliphate's territory was already growing rapidly and subsequently the general needs of mass rapid transportations were increased drastically, unlike the time of Muhammad when horses only used during warfare and not used so widely in the caliphate.[85]

See also


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  • Levi Della Vida, G; Khoury, RG (30 October 2005), "‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān", in Bearman, PJ; et al., Encyclopaedia of Islam Online (12 vols), Brill  .
  • Radhia Allahu Anaha (The third Caliph 644–656 C.E.)

External links

Views of various Islamic historians on Uthman:

  • Uthman in History
  • Quilliam Press: Uthman ibn Affan

Views of the Arab Media on Uthman:

  • Ever Since the Murder of Uthman

Sunni view of Uthman:

  • Uthman's election
  • The assassination of `Uthman Ibn `Affan
  • Uthman and Abdullah bin Massood
Cadet branch of the Quraysh
Died: June 20 656
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Rashidun Caliph
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Yazdgerd III
Ruler of Persia
Merged into
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