Who is the uthman in islam? Who is the third caliph? What is the short life of caliph uthman? What did uthman do as caliph? When was ali a caliph?
The Period of Uthman 644-656
Because Uthman was engaged in trade, he was a wealthy man. He was soft-hearted, considerate to everyone, polite, and a man respected by everybody around him.
Election of Uthman as Caliph:
Even though after getting stabbed, Umar was asked to choose someone as caliph, he didn’t appoint anybody by name to take his place. But he named six people for a council and asked the new caliph to be chosen from among those six people within the three days. The council that was prescribed by Umar gathered for the election of the new caliph. The six people were: Uthman, Ali, Talha, Zubair, Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas and Abdurrahman b. Awf.
Abdurrahman b. Awf was the chairman of the council and Umar’s son Abdullah attended as observer. Meanwhile Talha was out of Medina, so he gave his rights to Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas to represent him in the council.
The nominations of Uthman as well as Ali were clear. The chairman of the committee Abdurrahman b. Awf met separately with each one of them. Both of them stated that they accepted their nominations. Being the chairman, Abdurrahman wanted to know what the people thought, so he interviewed with people in the streets and bazaars. At the end, the committee voted in favor of Uthman. All members of the committee gave their pledges to Uthman. Thus the caliphate of Uthman which will last twelve years started.
The Conquests Made During the Time Uthman
Completion of The Conquests in Iran
Following separate routes, the military forces under the command of Abdullah b. Amr and Sa’id b. As moved towards Khorasan and Tabaristan in 650-651.
The conquest of Tabaristan was completed and the Turkish ruler of the Gurcan region was forced to pay jizyah tax. The forces under the command of Ahnaf b. Qays conquered some of the towns on the east side of Oxus River. By these conquest and the invasions to Turkestan, the Persian Sassanid Empire was demolished. So the Muslim Arabs got in direct contact with the Turkish lands.
The Conquests in the Caucasus
Muawiya, the governor of Syria, sent one of the two armies to conquer Azerbaijan and the other one to the surroundings of Armenia (651-652). After passing the Caucasus, Muslims encountered with the Khazar Turks. During the siege of Belencer, one of the important cities of Khazar Turks violent clashes took place. Muslims couldn’t gain the control of the North Caucasus but they conquered the South. On the other hand, Muslim armies marching over the Eastern Anatolia region managed to take the Georgians under their authority.
The Conquests in North Africa
Discharging Amr b. As, the governor of Egypt from his duty, Uthman appointed Abdullah b. Sa’d Ibn Abi Sarh in his place as the governor of Egypt. During the conquest of Mecca, some people were extremely cruel to Muslims and committed many crimes against Muslims. So killing them was considered as lawful by the Prophet (pbuh). Ibn Abi Sarh was one of those people but he was forgiven as a result of his milk sibling Uthman’s intercession. After being appointed as the governor of Egypt, Abdullah went to North Africa with the permission of the caliph and asked him to send reinforcements. Upon this caliph sent an army including companions such as Abdullah b. Abbas, Abdullah b. Zubair, Abdullah b. Umar and Abdullah b. Amr to help Abdullah b. Sa’d. The army under the command of Abdullah marched to conquer North Africa (26/647).
Abdullah b. Nafi b. Abdi Qays was appointed as the governor of North Africa the conquest of which was completed. Passing the desert of Libya, Muslims reached Tripoli. Uqba b. Nafi joined the army with the soldiers under his command. Gregerius, the governor of Tripoli, was ready waiting with an army of nearly 120 thousand men. Violent clashes took place. Muslims couldn’t get any news from the on-going war which lasted for a long time. So the caliph sent Abdullah b. Zubayr with an army to help them. Seeing the new forces, Gregerius was disappointed. One day Abdullah suddenly attacked the enemy with his fresh forces. Muslim army devastated the Byzantine army. Gregerius was killed. At the end of the war Muslims acquired many war booties. The gates of Africa were opened to Muslim army. The Muslim army could reach down to Marrakesh under the command of Ibn Abi Sarh. Thus the sovereignty of Byzantine in the North Africa ended. An Arab army conquered Nuba during the period of Uthman. It reached up to the territories of Sudan, Dongola and signed an agreement with the State of Makara.
Muslims’ First Sea-Battles and the Conquests in the Mediterranean
Muawiya, the governor of Syria and Jordan regions, made preparations for the conquest of Cyprus. Navy was prepared for this purpose. Many volunteers joined the expedition to Cyprus. In the 28th year of migration, Muawiyah sent the navy to Cyprus with ships commanded by Abdullah b. Qays. Some companions including Abu Dhar, Abu Darda, Ubada b. Samit al-Ansari were also in the navy. The chieftain of Egypt Abdullah b. Sa’d came to Cyprus from Egypt. Forces of Egypt and Damascus which united in Cyprus won the victory at the end of the naval war. Muslims gained many war booties and captives. Cypriots were forced to make peace on the condition to pay seven thousand gold (28/649).
Destruction of a major naval power of Byzantine Empire during the conquest of Cyprus enabled Muslims to go to the expedition of other Mediterranean islands. Some troops were sent to the islands of Sicily, Crete and Rhodes. Moreover, Muawiyah sent his navy up to the fronts of Istanbul. Thus the first half of the caliphate of Uthman was spent with conquests in the name of Islam.
The Caliphate of Uthman and His Services to Qur’an
During the first six years of the caliphate of Uthman, the borders of the Islamic State extended from Spain to Transoxiana. Many people other than Arabs from various nations and different religions joined to Muslim society. Naturally, this growth also brought with it many issues and new applications needed to be followed for their solutions.
Various works were done about the distribution of the new lands joined to the country, division of war booties, new strategies envisaged in the conquests, the administrative structure and the religious issues.
Since it is not possible to please everyone in all the services executed, there were emerged some opposition groups.
The biggest and the most important service that Uthman did was copying the Qur’an. The Qur’an was started to be written on the dialect of the Quraysh upon his order. Ubay b. Qa’b read and Zaid b. Thabit wrote. Thus, six copies were duplicated in a short time (651). One of the copies of the Qur’an was sent to Mecca, another one to Basra and others to Kufa, Damascus and Egypt. The sixth copy of the Qur’an stayed in Medina.
The First Separation Among Muslims and Internal Conflicts
The movements of conquests in the first six year of the caliphate of Uthman formed an extrovert dynamic structure in Muslim Society. Welfare increased as well as internal security, peace, and tranquility was achieved.
Thanks to the religion of Islam, Arabs evolved from the understanding of city-state in tribal character and developed the country-state at the intellectual level. Conquests carried out in the name of Islam played a significant role in the development of this understanding of state. Because with the conquests of new lands, Muslims met various new communities and started to be acquainted with their cultures, and thus it became easier for them to overcome the fruitless tribal understandings.
However, Arabs did not completely abandon their tribal traditions which had been deeply rooted in their society for centuries. It can be said they also understood be said that they perceived the global principles of Islam only in the light of their tribal cultures. When the waves of conquests stopped, various Arab groups thught about the internal, administrative, social and economic practices and evaluated the achievements in the light of the conditions of the day rather than the future of the Muslim community. The most obvious case for this was that the claim that Uthman (r.a.) appointed his relatives to the certain positions of the state.
During the time of Umar, the old characteristics of the Arabs such as their competitiveness, unnecessary skepticism, distrust and treatment towards those who were not their blood relatives could not come to fore or be influential due to Umar’s authority. Whereas Uthman was a scholar and mild-mannered person and was not as authoritarian as Umar. When he appointed his relatives to some positions in the state, he believed their sincerity. However, others were not sharing his convictions. Those appointed by him became obstacles before his path. For example, Marwan b. Hakam whom he appointed as a scribe gave orders in the name of Uthman, which fuelled the unrest in the society.
Soon an effective opposition developed against the caliph. Even though some people’s criticisms were justified or balanced, some others started not to hesitate to act ill-mindedly and in an unbalanced manner. Internal strife started to increase gradually. Even those things done by Uthman which would under normal circumstances be accepted by everyone as correct and nice were evaluated in that atmosphere.
While Uthman’s appointment the people from Umayyad family to certain positions and the increase in their authority and wealth strengthened Quraish’s opposition, the manners of Quraish seeing themselves superior to other tribes and nationalities led to public’s opposition.
The worst part of the developments was that the opinions of the people in opposition or in power at the time about the caliphate were in chaos. In is seen that in that chaotic atmosphere, inappropriate attributes around the concepts of “prophethood” and “divinity” were used to refer to Ali. Someone named Abdullah b. Saba who brought the issue of “guardian” mentioned in the Torah to the agenda of the society introduced an idea that “Ali is the guardian of the Prophet Muhammad.” However, this view which was not approved by Ali would mean to cut off the administrative structure from the concept of caliphate based on election and to open the gate for a system based on racial foundations.
The Martyrdom of Uthman
The developments against the Caliph reached to the highest level. Prominent people such as Talha and Zubayr who had been opposing moderately until that time withdrew from the opposition. Seeing the sensitivity of the situation, Ali calmly observed the developments, but he became worried when the rebels from Kufa started to cause unrest among people and some of the people were about to revolt. He appointed his sons, Hasan and Hussein, together with the sons of some other prominent members of the society to guard near the house of Uthman. These brave people were put in charge to protect the caliph. However, the rebels managed to enter into the Caliph’s house from the back without being seen by the guards.
When the rebels entered the house of Uthman, he was reading the Qur’an. Those vicious men killed the Caliph right there and ran away. With the martyrdom of Uthman many intellectual conflicts began to arise in the history of Islam and these debates have been continuing until today. Many people from the following generations took the developments of that day and their later interpretation into consideration rather than taking the Qur’an and Sunnah as the basis for their views. So, they developed understandings which were away from the essential Islamic principles.
Uthman’s (r.a.) Personality:
Uthman was a thoughtful, gentle natured, calm, merciful and modest person. Because he was a highly modest man, he had a special place in the eyes of the Prophet Muhammad. When Abubakr and Umar came to visit the Prophet, he would welcome them in a relax state. However, when Uthman came, he would immediately tidy himself and welcome him in a more respectful way. When he was asked about that, he said: “It would not be right for me not to respect the person to whom even angels show respect”.
Uthman was a pious and very generous man. Some examples about his generosity have already been mentioned in the chapter about his life. According to historical sources, he started to free one slave every Friday after he embraced Islam. When he did not have a chance to do that for any reason, he would free two slaves in the following Friday. During the famine took place in the time of Abubakr in Medina, he distributed thousand camel-loads of wheat and food coming from Damascus to the people of Medina free of charge even though the merchants asked him to sell the merchandise to them.
Uthman was one of “Ashara Mubashara” which means he was one of the ten companions who were promised paradise by the Prophet when they were still alive.
Uthman knew the entire Qur’an by heart (hafiz). It is informed in the sources that he would sometimes recite the whole Qur’an in his prayers. He was a literate person. Sources included him in a very small number of Meccan people who knew how to write. He had an important place among the clerks of the Prophet. As he was one of the revelation clerks, he also wrote the letters and agreements that the Prophet prepared for the neighboring states and tribes. According to the historical sources, he was also the clerk of Prophet’s secrets. He also worked as one of Abubakr’s clerks. He narrated 146 hadiths from the Prophet. He also knew the requirements of Hajj well.