Throughout his life, the Blessed Uthman (ra), one of the first few people to accept Islam, was one of those closest to our Prophet (saas).
Before he was raised to the status of caliph, he performed great services to further the adoption and spread of Islamic moral values: After his elevation to this position by a council delegation following the martyrdom of Umar (ra), he served in other ways. He fought by the side of the Prophet (saas) in all battles except Badr. Nobody objected to Uthman (ra)’s selection to the rank of caliph because he was regarded as worthy of it throughout Islamic society, and everyone swore allegiance to him.
Uthman’s (ra) Services Before Becoming Caliph
Uthman (ra), who became a Muslim through Abu Baqr’s message, was a valuable companion of the Prophet (saas) and, with his superior moral values, an example for all Muslims. In addition to possessing a very pleasant and effective way of speaking, and an excellent memory, he learned the Holy Qur’an by heart. Furthermore, he had a great knowledge of the words of the Prophet (saas) (hadiths) and as amanuensis of the revelation, performed great services for Islam.
Uthman (ra) sought only the approval and love of Allah.All the material wealth that Allah bestowed on him, he expended on the dissemination of Islamic moral values and on the well-being of Muslims. He spent 20,000 dirhems--a very large sum of money at the time-- on buying the Bi’r Ruma (the Well of Rumah) and placed it at the disposal of Muslims in Medina who were buying water from the well because of a shortage of fresh water.(1) In addition, Uthman (ra) fitted out one third of the Tebuk Expedition’s army, which represented Islam’s most powerful forces at the time. (2) It is reported that after his help, the army had no more need of anything.
It is reported, too, that at a time when famine struck Medina, Uthman (ra) purchased a caravan of one hundred camel-loads of wheat coming from Damascus and later distributed it all free to the poor of Medina and Sahabat al-Kiram, the companions of the Prophet (saas). (3)
Uthman (ra)’s Superior Services During his Caliphate
Certainly one of Uthman (ra)’s greatest services in the propagation of Islamic moral values during his caliphate was how he had copies of the Holy Qur’an copied and sent to various Islamic centers. In his day, due to differences of accent, the verses of the Qur’an were being read out in different ways, so the Blessed Uthman (ra) set up an institution for the copying of the Qur’an. One specimen was left in Medina, and others sent to Mecca, Damascus, Kufa, Basra, Egypt and other locations.
Due to this great and honorable service, Uthman (ra) came to be called the disseminator of the Qur’an.(4)
When making postings, Uthman (ra) was careful to appoint learned people. He laid great importance on advances in construction and agriculture to raise the level of well-being of people living in Islamic lands, and sought to improve vineyards and orchards. The best expression of his lofty concept of justice was his statement that “We will proscribe nobody unless they commit a crime, or commit blasphemy.” is. (5) During the period, Muslims grew rich and enjoyed greater well-being than in the past. During his caliphate, a great many people in Islamic lands converted to Islam.
His Conception of Military and Political Leadership
When it came to Islam and the faithful, Uthman (ra) avoided no sacrifices. Throughout his caliphate, he achieved great successes in his military and political leadership.
At the time, as a result of requests by Mu’awiyah, then governor of Syria, the first Islamic fleet was brought to the shores of Syria — of great importance for protecting an Islamic country that had recently begun expanding, and a large part of whose territories consisted of coastal regions. When this idea became a reality, the Islamic state possessed a considerable maritime force, and thanks to this first fleet, the strategically important Mediterranean island of Cyprus was taken. In the years following this first maritime victory, campaigns were waged against other Mediterranean islands.
But in these maritime campaigns and also wars on land Uthman (ra) was always — Islamic moral values require — just and compassionate, and made this felt by peoples living under his administration as well as in captured territories. During the capture of the Armenian city of Dabil (Dvin), Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians were given assurances and guaranteed the protection of all their places of worship.(6) Moreover, he never withheld permission to restore damaged churches and build new monasteries. For instance, the St. Sergius monastery outside of Medain was destroyed by Patriarch Mar Amme, but rebuilt during Uthman's reign.
In addition, the conquests in Persia, the Caucasus and Africa continued during Uthman (ra)’s period. Great victories were gained over the Byzantine Empire, and order and justice were established in the captured territories. Armenia, the Caucasus, Horasan, Morocco, Kerman, much of Africa and many other regions all became part of the Islamic map. (7)
Our Prophet (saws) Imparted the Tidings of Uthman (ra)’s Martyrdom
It is reported with Abu Ya’la (ra), transmitted from Hafsa (ra), the mother of believers, that
“The Prophet (saws) of Allah had Uthman (ra) called to him and said: “You will be killed! Be patient, may Allah give you patience. Do not take off the shirt--the caliphate--that Allah will have you wear for ten years and six months!” As he turned to go, the Prophet (saas) of Allah added, “ . . . You will be martyred and die while you are fasting. You will break your fast with me! ” (8)
He remained in his post of caliph even in the confusion that arose from words spoken to him by our Prophet (saas). One day the Prophet (saas) said to him, “O Uthman, the Lord may clothe you with a garment, and if hypocrites want to take it away from you, do not put it off till you meet me in paradise." (9)
The predictions of Uthman (ra)’s martyrdom revealed by our Prophet (saas) came to pass as a miracle in the sight of Allah. Uthman (ra), who had assumed such a great responsibility in the propagation of Islam, was martyred.
This holy individual’s martyrdom of came about as a result of troubles emerging from cities such as Basra and, Kufa and countries such as Egypt. in the year Hijri 35 (657 A.D.), rebels martyred the Blessed Uthman (ra) in his home and he was raised to an honorable position in the sight of Allah.
Uthman (ra)’s obedience to the words of the Prophet (saas) even in the face of these dangers are clear signs of his devotion and submission to Allah and our Prophet (saas).
Uthman (ra)’s Superior Moral Values
His superior moral values are praised in the hadiths of our Prophet (saws), and throughout the ten years of his caliphate, he displayed a moderate and just administration and followed the path of our Prophet (saws). He expanded Islamic territory with campaigns waged by land and at sea, and helped Qur’anic moral values spread over a wide area.
Uthman (ra), serving the spread of Islam, by the will of Allah, both before and after the caliphate, exhibited an exemplary determination in spreading Qur’anic moral values to Muslims and a virtuous morality. In this verse, Allah has revealed the efforts all Muslims must make in this regard:
Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success. (Surah Al ‘Imran: 104)
In Uthman (ra)’s Own Words
“Learn from the past and do auspicious deeds.”
“Allah has given you this world so that with it, you may seek the Hereafter, not so that you may love it!”
“Hasten to do all the auspicious deeds you can before death comes.”
“O People! Do not oppose the commandments of Allah, because avoiding opposing the commandments of Allah is a blessing. Although a servant may see, let him fear his eyes being blinded by Allah. A single word is enough for those who understand wisdom. The deaf in spirit cannot hear the truth. Know that whomever Allah stands by need fear nothing.”
Our Prophet’s (saws) Words Regarding the Blessed Uthman (ra)
Verily, the angels stand abashed before Uthman as they stand abashed before God and His Prophet."(10)
Uthman is the humblest of my community and also the most munificent. (11)
After the Prophet Lot (as), Uthman was the first to go on an emigration with his family. (12)
Every prophet has a companion in paradise. My companion there is Uthman. (13)
O Allah! Lift doomsday, grief and suffering from Uthman, because he has lifted our suffering. (14)
From the Letter Written to Governors When Uthman (ra) Became Caliph
“Know that justice consists of observing the needs of Muslims, enforcing their rights, and collecting taxes, and also respecting the rights of the Dhimmi [non-Muslim subjects living in an Islamic country, freely observing their own religious beliefs] and collecting their taxes that they agreed to pay, known as the Jizra]. Remain faithful to agreements, [even] with your enemies.”
From a Letter Written to Frontier Commanders When He Became Caliph
“You are the army of the Muslims. Nobody is ignorant of Umar (ra)’s relationship with commanders. His every deed took place before the eyes of all. Do not attempt to damage or change this order. If you do, Allah will replace you and give to others the task of defending and spreading Islam. Constantly check your behavior. I constantly monitor the duties entrusted to me by Allah and that He wishes me to fulfil.”
The Blessed Uthman (ra)’s First Sermon:
When he approached the pulpit to give the first sermon of his caliphate, after first giving praise to Allah, he said this:
O Muslims! You are living with the blessings of peace and security that occur with Islam. With this blessing, you have neared the end of your lives. May your ends be auspicious. Day and night, you have striven to the full extent of your abilities. But you must know that the things of this world are deceptive. Do not be deceived by the life of this world. Do not be haughty before Allah, but learn from what has already transpired. Do not be heedless or unaware. Be vigilant. Allah is not heedless. Those who loved this world, who were devoted to it and built commercial buildings and palaces that we see everywhere before us — where are they now? Where are those worldly dynasties that ruled for so long? Was this world loyal to them? Learn from these individuals and do not overestimate this world, which Allah regards as insignificant. Prepare for the Hereafter, which is your eternal Abode.
Uthman (ra) added, “There is a good example of this in the Qur’an” and finished his sermon by quoting the verse: “Wealth and sons are the embellishment of the life of this world. But in your Lord’s sight, right actions are lasting and bring a better reward and a better basis for hope.” (Surat al-Kahf: 46)
1 Hadrath Uthman (ra); www.islam4you.co.uk/news/articles/ 209/1/Hadhrat-Uthmaan-(Radhiallaahu-Anhu)
2 “Assessment;” http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/companion/54_uthman_bin_ghani.htm
3 Hz. Osman (Uthman (ra)); http://www.huzuradogru.com/eshabikiram/hz_osman.htm
4 Hz. Osman (Uthman (ra)); http://www.diyanet.gov.tr/diyanet/2001cocuk/temmuz/hzosman.htm
5 Dogustan Gunumuze Buyuk Islam Tarihi (The Great Islam History: From beginning to today), p. 212.
6 Levent Ozturk, Asr-i Saadetten Hacli Seferlerine Kadar Islam Toplumunda Hiristiyanlar (Christians in Islamic Society from the Blessed Period of the Prophet to the Crusades) (Istanbul: Iz Publishing Co., 1998), pp. 114-15
7 Hz. Osman (Uthman (ra)); http://www.diyanet.gov.tr/DIYANET/2002aylik/nisan/portre.htm
8 Imam Suyuti, Olaganustu Yonleriyle Peygamberimiz (sav) el-Hasaisu'l-Kubra, trans: Naim Erdogan Iz Yayincilik, Istanbul, 2003, p. 729
9 Tirmidhi hadiths.
10 R. O. Mahmud Sami, Hz. Osman (r.a), Erkam Publishing, p. 143
11 Hz. Osman (Uthman (ra)); http://www.diyanet.gov.tr/DIYANET/2002aylik/nisan/portre.htm
14 Hz. Osman (Uthman (ra)); http://www.diyanet.gov.tr/diyanet/2001cocuk/temmuz/hzosman.htm