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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Man With Two Lights

(Part 1)

`A'ishah (ra - may Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (saw- may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) was lying down in his house with his thighs or his calves exposed. Abu Bakr (ra) asked permission to enter and was permitted while the Prophet (saw) was in that position and he came in and spoke with him. Then `Umar (ra) asked permission to enter. He was granted permission and came in and spoke with him while in that position. Then `Uthman (ra) asked permission and the Prophet (saw) sat up and straightened his clothing. He was then permitted and came in and spoke with the Prophe (saw). After he had gone, `A'ishah (ra) said, "Abu Bak (ra) entered and you did not get up for him or worry about him and `Umar (ra) came in and you did not get up for him nor worry about him but when `Uthman (ra) came in, you straightened out your clothing!" The Prophet (saw) said, "Should I not be shy of a man around whom the angels are shy?" (Muslim).

`Uthman ibn `Affan (ra), one of the close Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was the fourth man to accept Islam and the third of the four rightly guided caliphs of Islam. During his reign the Islamic state expanded vastly. Uthman (ra) accomplished a lot during his rule; one of his notable accomplishments was the distribution of single-volume copies of the Qur'an to the Muslim provinces. These copies were made from the master compilation produced under the first caliph, Abu Bakr (ra).

Background

His views about the idols, and the life of Arabs, changed when he got to know the Christian and Jewish beliefs. `Uthman (ra) came from a wealthy Ummayad clan of the Quraish tribe in Makkah. His father was a well-known and successful businessman.
`Uthman's (ra) father provided him with everything he needed to lead a comfortable life. He was brought up in a manner like any other child born into a wealthy family. Thus `Uthman (ra) enjoyed luxuries in life right from childhood. He was a distinguished child who had high morals. He was unique in his bashfulness and honesty, which distinguished him from his peers, and he grew up to become a man of great virtue, generosity, integrity, and modesty.

Successful Businessman

After his father's death, `Uthman (ra) although he was young—took charge of his father's business and proved to be very efficient and successful just like his father. The business expanded and grew. He was very truthful and honest in his dealings and, unlike others, he spent most of his profits to help the needy. He did all that he could to bring a smile to the faces of the poor and needy, and so he became respected and adored by many.

Journey to Islam

During that time the Arabs were worshiping idols and indulging in many evil practices like burying their daughters alive and shedding blood for little or no reason. Racism was prevalent, and this racism made the masters treat their slaves cruelly. Women were also treated badly and were considered as objects. The woman's sole purpose was giving birth and pleasure.

As a young man, `Uthman (ra) was full of energy. He traveled to many places for business. Due to this he got a chance to meet different people from different nations and to learn a lot about other beliefs, which were different from his own. His views about the idols and the lifestyle of the Arabs changed when he got to know the Christian and Jewish beliefs.

One day when `Uthman (ra) returned to Makkah after his usual business trip, people were speaking about Muhammad ibn `Abdullah. The whole city seemed to be in a state of chaos because Muhammad (saw) presented himself as Messenger of Allah and told everyone that there was only one God worthy of worship and that one should not associate any partners with Him. Muhammad (saw) asked them to forgo all the false deities and worship Allah alone. Although the Arabs knew Allah, Muhammad's (saw) message seemed strange, as they had long since worshiped other deities in addition Allah.

`Uthman (ra) knew Muhammad (saw) very well. Muhammad (saw) was a man of remarkable personality and excellent morals. Though he did not accept this belief immediately, he never opposed Muhammad (saw) or Islam as the other leaders of the Quraish did. He remembered that on many of his travels he had heard the Christian and Jewish scholars speaking about the coming of the final Prophet in the land of Arabia. Whenever `Uthman (ra) heard about the final prophet from the Christian
and the Jews, he hoped that this prophet whom they spoke of would lead the Arabs into the light of guidance and knowledge. He pondered over the Christian and Jewish talk on the final prophet and finally he decided to visit one of his friends, Abu Bakr (ra), to find out about this new belief. He knew that Abu Bakr (ra) had accepted Islam and that he was very close to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Abu Bakr (ra) explained things about Islam. He told him that Islam asked people to worship Allah alone and to give up the worship of all false gods or
idols. Then Abu Bakr (ra) invited him to embrace Islam. `Uthman (ra) felt that Islam was the true religion of Allah and immediately embraced Islam on Abu Bakr's (ra) invitation. After that, `Uthman (ra) met the Prophet (peace be upon him) and declared that he accepted Islam.

Those who accepted Islam became prone to hardships, suffering, and oppression. The Quraish tortured the Muslims in every possible way, attempting to force them to leave Islam. `Uthman (ra) faced a lot of oppression at the hands of his pagan uncle Al-Hakam ibn Abi Al-`Aas, who was angry with him for leaving their forefathers' religion. He tied `Uthman (ra) up and tried to force him to leave Islam. Nevertheless, `Uthman (ra) remained firm in his belief and never gave in to this oppression. Finally, when his uncle realized that `Uthman (ra) would never leave Islam, he left him to himself. `Uthman (ra), with all his
might, defended Islam and never gave in to the torture and
oppression. Right from the time he accepted Islam, he became close to Prophet Muhammad (saw) and married the Prophet's (saw) second daughter, Ruqayyah (ra - may Allah be pleased with her), who was a divorcee. Uthman's (ra) marriage to Ruqayyah (ra) was a happy union; they both loved each other and led a blissful life.

Migration to Abyssinia

At that time, most of the people who embraced Islam were the less privileged and poor. The Muslims became a target for the pagans, and they tortured the Muslims, even to death, because they refused to leave Islam. Because of this, some Muslims left Makkah and migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to seek refuge.

`Uthman (ra) along with his wife Ruqayyah (ra) migrated to Abyssinia. He was one of the first to do so, and later other Muslims who were agonized by the Quraish to desert Islam followed him.


A 16th century map of Abyssinia, modern day Ethiopia

An-Najashi (the Negus), a Christian king who ruled Abyssinia at that time, was well known for being a just ruler. An-Najashi, in his power, provided the immigrants with all necessary facilities for their stay. The Quraish sent a delegation to Abyssinia and hoped that they would convince the king to expel the Muslims from his state. The king heard both the Quraish and the Muslims, and refused to expel the Muslims. The Quraish delegation saw `Uthman (ra) and tried to persuade him to return to Makkah, but their aim failed.

While the Muslims lived peacefully in Abyssinia, `Uthman (ra) started a business. Though he faced some difficulties in the beginning, his business flourished because of his hard work. His wife, Ruqayyah (ra), gave birth to a boy whom they named `Abdullah (ra). After this `Uthman (ra) came to be known as Abu `Abdullah. `Uthman (ra) remained very popular among Muslims because of his generosity to the poor.

He returned to Makkah from Abyssinia because of the false news that had spread among Muslims living in Abyssinia that the lives of the Muslims in Makkah were better, as the Quraish of Makkah had accepted Islam.

In Makkah, `Uthman (ra) spent most of his time in the company of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He always tried his best to help the Muslims who were poor and needy.

Death of Ruqayyah (ra)

He then again migrated with his wife to Madinah, which was known as Yathrib at that time, in 622. `Uthman (ra) carried on his business as a merchant and was successful. `Uthman (ra) and Ruqayyah (ra) lived on happily for sometime in Madinah.

The Muslims knew about Makkah's merchant caravan that was coming back from Syria, and was led by Abu Sufyan. They wanted to attack this caravan, but Abu Sufyan was aware of their plan and changed the path of his return to Makkah. At the same time he sent a message to Makkah's leaders, telling them of the Muslims' plan.

The Makkans gathered a huge army and headed towards Madinah to put an end to Islam and the Muslims, while the army of the Muslims had only 314 men. The Makkan and Muslim armies met at a place called Badr near Madinah. `Uthman (ra) was unable to take part in this battle, as his wife Ruqayyah (ra) fell ill. She died after a few days, leaving `Uthman (ra) in grief and sadness. At that time, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Muslims were fighting with the Quraish at the battlefield of Badr. The Muslims emerged victorious, and the news of victory reached Madinah when Ruqayyah (ra) was being buried.

Union With Umm Kulthum (ra - may Allah be pleased with her)

After Ruqayyah's (ra) death `Uthman (ra)was deeply saddened. At this time `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) proposed that `Uthman (ra) marry his daughter Hafsah (ra), who was a widow. He refused the offer, as he knew that the Prophet (saw) was going to propose to her. Towards the close of the year 625, the Prophet (saw) married Hafsah (ra).

Umm Kulthum (ra) was the Prophet's (saw) third daughter and he married her to `Uthman (ra). `Uthman (ra) thereby earned the name Dhun-Nurain, "the Possessor of Two Lights," because he had married the Prophet's (saw) two daughters (may Allah be pleased with them both), one after another. `Uthman's (ra)marriage with Umm Kulthum (ra) was as happy as that of the marriage between him and Ruqayyah (ra). Unfortunately, such happiness was shortly lived, for Umm Kulthum (ra) died barely six years after her marriage. She bore no children.

A year after the battle of Uhud—two years after the death of Ruqayyah (ra) —`Uthman's son `Abdullah (ra) passed away. `Uthman (ra) loved his son dearly and his death caused him intense grief. The Prophet (saw) consoled `Uthman (ra), and advised him that as a true Muslim, he should accept the will of God.

By Amatullah Abdullah**
November 21, 2005

Uthman ibn `Affan The Man With Two Lights (Part Two) In the sixth year
after the emigration to Madinah, the Prophet (saw - may the peace &
blessings of Allah be upon him) decided to perform the `Umrah, so he set
out with 1,400 Muslims in pilgrim's dress, heading towards Makkah, but
the Quraish did not allow them to enter the city. The Muslims halted at
a place called Hudaibiyah. From there, the Prophet (peace and blessings
be upon him) sent a messenger to the Makkans to tell them that the
Muslims were there only to perform `Umrah and had not the slightest
intention to fight. But the Makkans humiliated the messenger (saw), and
he returned without success. The Prophet (saw) then wanted to send
someone highly respected by the Quraish, so he chose `Uthman (ra - may
Allah be pleased with him), who was
from one of the most powerful families in Makkah, the Umayyah family.
The Makkans detained him for three days and a rumor reached the Muslim
camp that `Uthman (ra) was killed. This outraged the Muslims and,
without exception, all of the 1,400 Muslims present pledged that they
would stand firm together to avenge `Uthman' (ra) murder. After
everybody had taken the pledge, the Prophet (saw) placed his own right
hand on his left hand and took the pledge on behalf of `Uthman (ra).
`Uthman (ra) thus secured the unique honor that the Prophet (saw)
himself took the pledge on his behalf. The Muslims' pledge pleased Allah
and it was revealed in the Qur'an: [Surely, Allah was pleased with the
believers when they took the pledge under the tree. Allah knew what was
in their hearts. He sent down tranquility upon them, and rewarded them
with near victory.] (Al-Fath
48:18) Soon they learned that the rumor of `Uthman's (ra) death was
false. `Uthman (ra) returned from Makkah in the company of an emissary
from the Quraish. When `Uthman (ra) came to know about the pledge the
Muslims in the camp had taken in his absence, and that the Prophet (saw)
had taken the pledge on his behalf, he immediately took the pledge in
person. The Treaty of Hudaibiyah After considerable discussion, an
agreement was arrived at, which came to be known as the Treaty of
Hudaibiyah. According to the pact there was to be a truce between the
Quraish and the Muslims for a period of 10 years. Each party was free to
make its own alliances, but they were not to resort to war. Any person
who deserted the Muslims and sought refuge with the Quraish was not to
be returned, but any person who escaped from the Quraish to the Muslims
was to be returned to the
Quraish. It was stipulated that the Muslims were to return to Madinah
that year without performing the `Umrah, but they could come to Makkah
for three days the following year to perform it, during which time the
Quraish would vacate the city for them. After the pact had been signed,
the Muslims sacrificed the animals they had brought with them, broke
camp, and started on the return journey to Madinah. On the face of it,
the Treaty of Hudaibiyah appeared to be loaded in favor of the Quraish.
Some of the Muslims, particularly `Umar (ra), felt dissatisfied with the
terms of the pact and expressed their dissatisfaction. `Uthman (ra),
however, felt satisfied with the terms of the agreement. He was
confident that the pact, though apparently in favor of the Quraish,
would ultimately turn out to be against them. He said that the Quraish
were fast losing their will to
resist Islam, and in pursuance of the pact the Muslims and the Quraish
would come into contact, and most of the Quraish were likely to accept
Islam. While on the way to Madinah, Allah revealed to the Prophet (saw)
that the Hudaibiyah pact was indeed a victory for the Muslims, as it
would work to their advantage and the disadvantage of the Quraish. When
the Prophet (saw) told of these tidings to `Umar (ra) and his other
Companions, all of them felt happy. The assessment of `Uthman (ra) also
proved correct, for in the period following the Hudaibiyah pact, many
Quraish including such stalwarts as Khalid ibn Al-Walid and `Amr ibn
Al-`Aas (ra - may Allah be pleased with them both) accepted Islam.
`Uthman's (ra) Generosity `Uthman's (ra) generosity was boundless. Even
before he became caliph, he was always ready to spend in the cause of
Islam and to help the
needy with his wealth. On two special occasions he proved to be one of
the most generous men of his time. In AH 9 the Prophet (peace and
blessings be upon him) got the news that the Romans were plotting to
destroy the newly emerging Islamic state, so he wanted the Muslims to
equip themselves and prepare for the attack. That seemed impossible
because in that year the Muslims suffered from reduced crops and limited
resources, as they had faced an extremely hot summer. They did not have
enough resources to meet such a powerful army, and most of the Muslims
were poor. This situation did not stop the Prophet (peace and blessings
be upon him). He urged his Companions to prepare for the battle. Every
Companion tried his or her best to strengthen the army. The women sold
the few jewels they had to help the men prepare for the battle. Though
hundreds of Companions were
ready to enter the battlefield, they were short of many things that were
required for the battle, such as horses, camels, even swords and spears.
The Prophet (saw) told them that this was a matter of life or death for
the new Islamic state. The Prophet (saw) made a loud and clear
announcement: "Anyone who provides outfits for the soldiers will have
all his sins forgiven by Allah." The moment `Uthman (ra) heard this, he
outfitted two hundred saddled camels that were to travel to Ash-Sham,
and presented them all with 200 ounces of gold as charity. He also
fetched 1,000 dinars and cast them into the lap of the Prophet (peace
and blessings be upon him). Again and again `Uthman (ra) gave till his
charity topped 900 camels and 100 horses, besides the money he paid.
Seeing `Uthman's (ra) generosity, the Prophet (saw) made the following
statement: "From this day on,
nothing will harm `Uthman (ra) regardless of what he does." In another
incident during Abu Bakr's (ra) caliphate, people faced great hardships.
The land became arid and very few people could find something to eat.
The people of Madinah came to Abu Bakr (ra) and asked him to provide
them with something that they could survive with. However, the caliph
could not do anything to help them. The treasury was empty and there
were no other means to feed the hungry people. At that time, `Uthman
(ra) received a huge caravan from Damascus carrying food and other
goods. All the merchants gathered at his house asking him to sell them
some of the items he received so that they could sell them to the
people. `Uthman (ra) asked them to offer him a good price. Though the
merchants offered a high price, he kept asking them for a
higher price. They offered him the highest price they could and told him
that no merchant would be able to pay more than what they had offered.
But `Uthman (ra) told them that he would sell the goods to the One Who
would pay him 10 times what the merchants had offered, that is, Allah
Almighty. `Uthman (ra) then gave away the whole of caravan to the
starving people of Madinah and did not charge them anything. `Umar ibn
Al-Khattab (ra), the second caliph of Islam, was stabbed by a Persian
slave Abu Lu' lu' a Al-Majussi while performing Fajr Prayer. As `Umar
(ra) was lying on his death bed, the people around him asked him to
appoint a successor. `Umar (ra) constituted a committee of six people to
choose the next caliph from among themselves. This committee comprised
`Ali ibn Abi Talib, `Uthman ibn `Affan, `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, Sa`d ibn
Abi Waqqas, Az-Zubayr ibn
Al-`Awam, and Talhah ibn `Ubayd Allah, who were among the most eminent
Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and who had
received in their lifetime the tidings of Paradise (ra - may Allah be
pleased with them all). The instructions of `Umar (ra) were that the
Selection Committee should choose the successor within three days, and
he should assume office on the fourth day. As two days passed by without
a decision, the members felt anxious that the time was running out fast,
and still no solution to the problem appeared to be in sight.
`Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf (ra) offered to forgo his own claim if others
agreed to abide by his decision. All agreed to let `Abdur-Rahman (ra)
choose the new caliph. He interviewed each nominee and went about
Madinah asking the people for their choice. He finally selected `Uthman
(ra) as the new caliph as the majority of the people
chose him. Reign of `Uthman ibn `Affan (644-656 CE) During the reign
of Caliph `Umar (634-644 CE), the Islamic state expanded beyond the
borders of the Arab Peninsula into Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. In the
subsequent reign of Caliph `Uthman (ra), the expansion continued on into
Persia, India, Russia, China, Turkey, and across North Africa. The
Islamic state became rich and powerful, and many people of these regions
accepted Islam and learned the recitation of the Qur'an from the early
Muslims. His Life as a Caliph `Uthman (ra) led a simple life even after
becoming the leader of the Islamic state. It would have been easy for a
successful businessman such as him to lead a luxurious life, but he
never aimed at leading such in this world. His only aim was to taste the
pleasure of the hereafter, as he knew that this world is a test and
temporary. `Uthman's (ra)
generosity continued after he became caliph. The caliphs were paid for
their services from bait al-mal the treasury but `Uthman (ra) never took
any salary for his service to Islam. Not only this, he also developed a
custom to free slaves every Friday, look after widows and orphans, and
give unlimited charity. His patience and endurance were among the
characteristics that made him a successful leader. His great love and
trust in Allah were steadfast. Whatever happened, he never lost trust in
Allah and resigned himself completely to the decree of Allah. He was
always mindful of Allah, and that guided his actions. `Uthman's (ra)love
for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was evident from the
way he lived his life. He followed the teachings of the Prophet (saw)
and took them as his source for guidance. As a way of taking care of the
Prophet's (saw) wives,
he doubled their allowances. Opposition and the End During his
caliphate, `Uthman (ra) faced a lot of hostility. His rivals started
accusing him of not following the Prophet (saw) and the preceding
caliphs. However, the Companions who were true defended him. These
accusations never changed him. He remained persistent to be a merciful
governor. Even during the time when his foes attacked him, he did not
use the treasury funds to shield his house or himself. As envisaged by
Prophet Muhammad (saw), `Uthman's (ra) enemies relentlessly made his
governing difficult by constantly opposing and accusing him. His
opponents finally plotted against him, surrounded his house, and
encouraged people to kill him. Many of his advisors asked him to stop
the assault but he did not, until he was killed while reciting the
Qur'an exactly as the Prophet (saw) had predicted.
`Uthman (ra) died as a martyr. Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrated the
following hadith: The Prophet (saw) once climbed the mountain of Uhud
with Abu Bakr, `Umar, and `Uthman (ra - may Allah be pleased with them
all). The mountain shook with them. The Prophet said (to the mountain),
"Be firm, O Uhud! For on you there is a Prophet, a Siddiq, and two
martyrs." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Book 57, Number 24)
Sources: Ahmad, Abdul Basit. `Uthman bin `Affan, the Third Caliph of
Islam (Jeddah: Darussalam). Al-Mubarakphuri, Safi-ur-Rahman. Ar-Raheeq
Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar). Riyadh: Dar-us-Salam Publications, 1996.
By Amatullah Abdullah** November 29, 2005

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