Uthman ibn Affan

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“Shall I not feel bashful before one whom even the angels feel bashful before?”
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)(i)

“Give him the tidings of Paradise after a trial that shall befall him.”
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)(ii)

ABŪ ʿAMR ʿUTHMĀN IBN ʿAFFĀN IBN ABĪ AL-ʿĀṢ IBN UMAYYAH IBN ʿABD SHAMS AL-UMMAWĪ AL-QURĀSHĪ (may Allah be pleased with him) was a leading Companion of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the third ‘Rightly-Guided’ Caliph of Islam. He is known as ‘possessor of the two lights’ (Dhu Al-Nūrayn) as he married two daughters of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and also as ‘the generous’ (Al-Ghanī). He was one of the Companions given glad tidings of Paradise by the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)(iii).

Map showing the route taken by the Muslims who emigrated to Abyssinia (Axum)
ʿUthmān was of those Muslims who emigrated to Abyssinia during the early period of Islam

ʿUthmān was born into the powerful Umayyad clan of the tribe of Quraysh in the pre-Islamic era. He followed in the footsteps of his father in becoming an extremely wealthy merchant in Makkah. He was one of the first converts to Islam, causing anger and rejection from his clansmen and desertion from his wives. He married Ruqayyah (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and migrated with her to Abyssinia. He returned to Makkah with his wife two years later and then emigrated with her to Yathrib. He remained wealthy throughout this period due to his business acumen, but contributed very generously to the cause of Islam. He was a major financier towards the construction of the Prophet’s mosque in Madīnah, the acquisition of weapons and shields before certain battles, and the financing of the poor and needy.

This well, located in Madinah, was bought by the companion Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) and donated to the poor and needy inhabitants of Madinah in response to a request by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)
ʿUthmān bought this well in Madīnah and generously donated it to the poor and needy inhabitants of the city

After spending much time nursing his wife during her final illness, ʿUthmān later married Umm Kulthūm (may Allah be pleased with her), who was also a daughter of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He was highly praised by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) for his generosity and modesty(iv), and the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also took a mighty pledge (which was pleasing to Allah - Glorified and Exalted is He(v)) from his صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) Companions to avenge ʿUthmān’s rumoured murder by the Pagans of Makkah(vi). Those who narrated from him included the Companions Abū Hurayrah, Ibn ʿAbbās, and Ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with them); and the Successors Alqama ibn Qays and Saʿid ibn Al-Musayyib (may Allah show compassion towards them).

The Qur'an, which was copied from the original manuscript and spread throughout the Muslim world on the instructions of the Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him)
The original Qur'an was copied and spread throughout the empire during ʿUthmān's reign

ʿUthmān accepted the Caliphate in 24 AH (644 CE) after being selected by a committee of six leading Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) that had been established by the previous Caliph ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him)(vii). As Caliph, he formed a committee to copy the manuscript of the complete Qur’an and distribute it throughout the Muslim empire(viii). The Muslims conquered Armenia, Caucasia, Cyprus, and most of North Africa during his Caliphate. He gave some positions of authority to his relatives from the Umayyad clan. However, this led to dissension and false propaganda to spread in parts of the empire. Rebels from Egypt believed that he had ordered the death of their preferred choice as governor and so they besieged his house. He refused to hand over his cousin, Marwān ibn Al-Ḥakam, who had authorized the order, and refused to resign as Caliph. He refused to fight due to a promise he had made to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)(ix), and also forbade any of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) from fighting for him so as to avoid civil war.

The grave of the third Righlty Guided Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) at Al-Baqi cemetery, Madinah
The grave of ʿUthmān at Al-Baqi' cemetery

ʿUthmān was a very humble and modest man, even when he became Caliph. He was often seen sleeping alone in the Prophet’s Mosque or riding a mule with his son. He recited the whole Qur’an in a single unit of prayer(x), and fasted all year round. He had a large beard, which he dyed yellow, and brown hair that reached to his shoulders. He was martyred in 35 AH (656 CE) after being besieged and kept under house-arrest by the rebels of Egypt for twenty-two days. He was reciting chapter 2 verse 137 of the Qur’an(xi) when some of the rebels broke into his room and murdered him. He was seventy-nine years old when he died, and his grave is located at Al-Baqī’ cemetery in Madīnah.


His Sayings

“The grave is the first abode of the hereafter. Whoever is saved from it, what follows is easier; whoever is not saved from it, what follows is harder.”

“If I were between Paradise and the Fire, unsure where I will be sent, I would choose to be turned into ash before finding out where I was bound.”


Related Biographies:
Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq
Ibn Sirin (Muhammad)
Ruqayyah bint Muhammad
Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad
Zayd ibn Thabit
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