The Prophet Muhammad (saw)

Uthman: The Beloved Martyr


One day we will no longer have the right to choose which path to follow; until that time there are many who came before us who act as examples for which path to choose, for how to act in this life.

One of these was Uthman, a man who was married to two of Prophet Muhammad's daughters. First the Prophet gave his daughter Ruqiyya to him, and then after her death his daughter Ummu Khultum became Uthman's wife. These marriages were among the many honors of Uthman. He was one of the first believers, he had been tied up and imprisoned by his uncle for abandoning his former religion; he chose to immigrate first to Abyssinia and then to Medina, abandoning his homeland of Mecca. Uthman's choices were greater than just these actions. During the emigration he saw that the Muslims were suffering from a lack of water; he bought a well from a Jewish man and donated it to the Muslims. He bought the land around the Prophet's Masjid so that it could be enlarged and when the Muslims were setting out for Tabuk Campaign Uthman donated nearly all of his goods, preferring heaven to wealth. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) greeted his generosity with enthusiasm, saying "My Lord! I am pleased with Uthman, may You too be pleased." Indeed, Allah indicated Uthman in the following verse: "Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord (like one who does not)?" (Az-Zumar, 39/9)

Uthman was a man who read the Quran every night and started a new fast every day. Once he was asked "What do you love most?" He answered, "Praying while others sleep!" Uthman stated that there were nine rewards for those who prayed on time: "Allah's love, a healthy body, protection by the angels, a blessed house, a religious countenance, a gentle heart, rapid passage over the Sirat bridge, being distanced from the fear of the afterlife and sadness, and salvation from hell." Uthman, who looked on the account of life with the eye of a merchant, went on to speak of the ten losses that could occur. "There are ten things that are waste: Scholars who don't ask questions, knowledge that is not put into practice, correct views that are not accepted, weapons that are not used, masjids that are not used for praying, books that are not read, money that is spent when it should be saved, a vehicle/mount that is not ridden upon, ascetism in enthusiasm for the world and a life that passes without securing the afterlife."

There were people who surprised Uthman, people whom he could not understand at all. For example, those who knew about death, yet still laughed, who knew that this world was transitory yet still pursued worldly things - these people surprised him. Uthman could not understand those who knew that all things were predestined, but became upset when things went wrong, or those who believed in the final accounting, but still collected property. Those who believed in hell but committed sins, those who believed in Allah but were comfortable with the world - these were the people who surprised him. And there was a society which he just could not come to terms with at all: those who knew that Satan was an enemy, yet they obeyed him...

In truth the sole example for Uthman was Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh). However, the Prophet did not refrain from giving his daughter Ruqiyya fatherly advice: "My dear girl! Show much respect to Uthman, for he is the one among my Companions whose morals most resemble mine." The Prophet gave the following advice to Uthman: "Perhaps Allah will dress you in a robe. The hypocrites will want to you to take it off, but do not do so until you meet with me." Ruqiyya and Uthman followed the advice that they had been given. Ruqiyya never failed to respect her husband and Uthman did not remove the robe of the caliphate. Not until the day he died.

The caliph Umar was at death's door, but he was enraged. To those who suggested that Umar's son Abdullah b. Umar be the next caliph he roared: "Do you want to send me to hell?" Umar's anger was not because he did not think Abdullah b. Umar was suitable for this job. In fact, Abdullah b. Umar was one whose knowledge and morals were sufficient to take on this task. The rage was because of the idea that the position of caliph would become passed down from father to son. Before Umar died he made a suggestion: The caliph should be chosen from the Ashara-i Mubashare (the ten Companions who had been given the glad tidings of a place in Heaven). Two of these people had passed away, the third was about to die. One person was traveling, so Umar desired that the other six people come together to chose a caliph. If the votes were equal then he appointed Abdullah b. Umar to vote for whichever party Abdur Rahman b. Auf was in favor of. In the end Uthman donned the gown of the caliphate and first the head of the shura, Abdur Rahman b. Auf, and then Aisha pledged allegiance to Uthman.

Uthman said "We need a hard-working leader rather than one who talks much". He ensured that the edicts that represented him were carried to new lands. His commander Amr b. As'i met with Manuel, the commander of the Byzantine emperor Heraclious, and saved Alexandria from the Byzantine siege. Sa'd b. Wakkas marched on Rey and Deylem, Abdullah b. Amr marched on Kabul, Walid marched on Azerbaijan and Armenia, Abdullah b. Nafi and Abdullah b. Zubair marched on North Africa. News of the victories reached Medina like a torch, and every new announcement sparked off a new conquest. There is an Arabic proverb: "Even if you cannot take something completely, do not forgo a part of it." Why shouldn't the Muslims cross Gibraltar and enter Spain? Why shouldn't the conquest of Andalusia spark the conquest of Constantinople? Uthman expressed these sentiments to his commanders as follows: "Constantinople can only be conquered by those from Andalusia. If you conquer Andalusia, this will support you when you conquer Constantinople."

Although the conquest of Andalusia remained until another spring, the desert winds carried over the seas; at their Caliph's command the Companions who had ridden on horses and camels began to construct a navy. One day the navy set out from the shores of Syria to the Mediterranean, slowly heading towards Cyprus. The Muslims who entered Cyprus under the command of Muawiyah, conquered Cyprus, with the help reinforcements from Egypt that were headed up by Abdullah b. Sa'd; the new dream that occurred after this conquest brought them face to face with the navy of 500 ships of the Byzantine emperor Constantine off the shore of Alexandria. On that day 200 ships defeated 500 ships, and this battle, known as Latus Sawari, forced Constantine to seek refuge in Sicily.

At the head of all this was Uthman, a man who back bore the imprints of the stones on which he lay, the man who approached the pulpit in a torn robe, the man that treated official visitors well from the caliph's budget, but only ate vinegar and olive oil himself, a man who cried until his beard was wet when he saw a grave, a man who rode on the same mule as his servant. This is the Uthman whose house was surrounded by rebels. He asked the rebels who had gone up onto his roof for a glass of water from the well he had donated, and to be able to pray in the Masjid; he reminded them of the event that he had experienced with Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Umar on Mt.Sabir. When the mountain shook Prophet Muhammad said "O, Sabir, be still! On you is a Prophet, a Siddiq and two martyrs!" Uthman went on, "One of those martyrs was I!"

The Egyptian Kibti rebels, who had been inflamed by the Yemeni Jews, besieged his house for forty days. Uthman, keeping his promise to Prophet Muhammad, did not remove his cloak. One night before Uthman's death the Prophet came to him in a dream: "Uthman! So they have besieged you, have they?" When Uthman replied "Yes!" the Prophet went on to ask "Have they left you without water?" and Uthman answered once again "Yes!" The Prophet extended a glass of water to him, and said, "If you like I can make you victorious over them, or if you like you can break your fast with us." Uthman preferred to break his fast with the Prophet. The next day the rebels tore down the wall, and Uthman died, and went to join the Prophet.

The following verse sums up Uthman's situation: "God will suffice thee against them" (2/137).

Poet and writer Ali Ural continues to write about the Companions of the Prophet that reflect his light and radiance


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