|Virtues of Uthman ibn Affan
Abi Abdullah Mustafa ibn Al-'Adawi
The Prophet (sas) informed Uthman (and us) of two things regarding his future:
1. That he would enter Paradise
2. That he would be tested with a major calamity.
Sahih Al-Bukhari - Volume 8, Book 73, Number 235:
Narrated Abu Musa:
That he was in the company of the Prophet in one of the gardens of Medina and in the hand of the Prophet there was a stick, and he was striking (slowly) the water and the mud with it. A man came (at the gate of the garden) and asked permission to enter. The Prophet said, “Open the gate for him and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise. “I went, and behold! It was Abu Bakr. So I opened the gate for him and informed him of the glad tidings of entering Paradise. Then another man came and asked permission to enter. The Prophet said, “Open the gate for him and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise.” Behold! It was ‘Umar. So I opened the gate for him and gave him the glad tidings of entering Paradise. Then another man came and asked permission to enter.
The Prophet was sitting in a leaning posture, so he sat up and said, “Open the gate for him and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise with a calamity which will befall him or which will take place.” I went, and behold ! It was Uthman. So I opened the gate for him and gave him the glad tidings of entering Paradise and also informed him of what the Prophet had said (about a calamity). ‘Uthman said, “Allah Alone Whose Help I seek (against that calamity).
Uthman was a man of great modesty. The Prophet (sas) said that even the angels are shy in the presence of Uthman. From Sahih Muslim:
Aisha reports: The Prophet (sas) was lying down in his house with his thighs or his calves exposes. Abu Bakr asked permission to enter and was permitted while the Prophet (sas) was in that position and he came in and spoke with him (sas). Then, Umar asked permission to enter. He was granted permission and came in and spoke with him (sas) while in that position. Then, Uthman asked permission and the Prophet (sas) sat up and straightened his clothing. He was then permitted and came in and spoke with the Prophet (sas). After he had gone, Aisha said: Abu Bakr entered and you did not get up for him or worry about him and Umar came in and you did not get up for him nor worry about him but when Uthman came in, you straigtened out your clothing! The Prophet (sas) said: “Should I not be shy of a man around whom the angels are shy?”
Uthman was a man of honest and respectful ways even before he entered Islam.
Sahih Al-Bukhara - Book 39, Number 4487:
Narrated Uthman ibn Affan:
AbuUmamah ibn Sahl said: We were with Uthman when he was besieged in the house. There was an entrance to the house. He who entered it heard the speech of those who were in the Bilat. Uthman then entered it. He came out to us, looking pale.
He said: They are threatening to kill me now. We said: Allah will be sufficient for you against them, Commander of the Faithful! He asked: Why kill me? I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) say: It is not lawful to kill a man who is a Muslim except for one of the three reasons: Kufr (disbelief) after accepting Islam, fornication after marriage, or wrongfully killing someone, for which he may be killed.
I swear by Allah, I have not committed fornication before or after the coming of Islam, nor did I ever want another religion for me instead of my religion since Allah gave guidance to me, nor have I killed anyone. So for what reason do you want to kill me?
The Agreement to Give Him Bai’a after Umar
Umar did not appoint a successor though he was alive for some time after being stabbed knowing that he was dying. Rather, he appointed a committee of six individuals who he ordered to pick a Khalifa from among themselves - with the exception of his son Abdullah ibn Umar who was on the committee to participate in the process, but Umar did not allow that he could be the one chosen. Umar chose these six people based on his knowledge that the Prophet (sas) had left this world pleased with every single one of them. This was the best way for the successor to be chosen. For Umar to merely appoint a successor as was requested of him would have established a wrong tradition and could have let to dissent and controversy. To leave it to the common people ("democratic election") would be tantamount to leaving it to chance. Rather, Umar put the issue into the most capable and knowledgeable Companions of the Prophet (sas) and left it for them to choose one among themselves. Since these six all knew from the Prophet’s (sas) teachings the requirement to consult the Muslims in their affairs, they did this, but ultimately, it was within this committee of six that the decision was made as you can see in the following sahih hadith:
Sahih Al-Bukhari - Volume 5, Book 57, Number 50:
Narrated ‘Amr bin Maimun:
I saw ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab a few days before he was stabbed in Medina. He was standing with Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman and ‘Uthman bin Hunaif to whom he said, “What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of As-Swad i.e. ‘Iraq) than it can bear?” They replied, “We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield.” ‘Umar again said, “Check whether you have imposed on the land what it can not bear.” They said, “No, (we haven’t).” ‘Umar added, “If Allah should keep me alive I will let the widows of Iraq need no men to support them after me.” But only four days had elapsed when he was stabbed (to death ). The day he was stabbed, I was standing and there was nobody between me and him (i.e. Umar) except Abdullah bin ‘Abbas. Whenever Umar passed between the two rows, he would say, “Stand in straight lines.”
When he saw no defect (in the rows), he would go forward and start the prayer with Takbir. He would recite Surat Yusuf or An-Nahl or the like in the first Rak’a so that the people may have the time to Join the prayer. As soon as he said Takbir, I heard him saying, “The dog has killed or eaten me,” at the time he (i.e. the murderer) stabbed him. A non-Arab infidel proceeded on carrying a double-edged knife and stabbing all the persons he passed by on the right and left (till) he stabbed thirteen persons out of whom seven died. When one of the Muslims saw that, he threw a cloak on him. Realizing that he had been captured, the non-Arab infidel killed himself, ‘Umar held the hand of ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Auf and let him lead the prayer.
Those who were standing by the side of ‘Umar saw what I saw, but the people who were in the other parts of the Mosque did not see anything, but they lost the voice of ‘Umar and they were saying, “Subhan Allah! Subhan Allah! (i.e. Glorified be Allah).” Abdur-Rahman bin Auf led the people a short prayer. When they finished the prayer, ‘Umar said, “O Ibn ‘Abbas! Find out who attacked me.” Ibn ‘Abbas kept on looking here and there for a short time and came to say. “The slave of Al Mughira.” On that ‘Umar said, “The craftsman?” Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Yes.” ‘Umar said, “May Allah curse him. I did not treat him unjustly. All the Praises are for Allah Who has not caused me to die at the hand of a man who claims himself to be a Muslim. No doubt, you and your father (Abbas) used to love to have more non-Arab infidels in Medina.” Al-Abbas had the greatest number of slaves. Ibn ‘Abbas said to ‘Umar. “If you wish, we will do.” He meant, “If you wish we will kill them.” ‘Umar said, “You are mistaken (for you can’t kill them) after they have spoken your language, prayed towards your Qibla, and performed Hajj like yours.”
Then Umar was carried to his house, and we went along with him, and the people were as if they had never suffered a calamity before. Some said, “Do not worry (he will be Alright soon).” Some said, “We are afraid (that he will die).” Then an infusion of dates was brought to him and he drank it but it came out (of the wound) of his belly. Then milk was brought to him and he drank it, and it also came out of his belly. The people realized that he would die. We went to him, and the people came, praising him. A young man came saying, “O chief of the believers! Receive the glad tidings from Allah to you due to your company with Allah’s Apostle and your superiority in Islam which you know. Then you became the ruler (i.e. Caliph) and you ruled with justice and finally you have been martyred.” ‘Umar said, “I wish that all these privileges will counterbalance (my shortcomings) so that I will neither lose nor gain anything.”
When the young man turned back to leave, his clothes seemed to be touching the ground. ‘Umar said, “Call the young man back to me.” (When he came back) ‘Umar said, “O son of my brother! Lift your clothes, for this will keep your clothes clean and save you from the Punishment of your Lord.” ‘Umar further said, “O ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar! See how much I am in debt to others.” When the debt was checked, it amounted to approximately eighty-six thousand. ‘Umar said, “If the property of ‘Umar’s family covers the debt, then pay the debt thereof; otherwise request it from Bani ‘Adi bin Ka’b, and if that too is not sufficient, ask for it from Quraish tribe, and do not ask for it from any one else, and pay this debt on my behalf.”
‘Umar then said (to ‘Abdullah), “Go to ‘Aisha (the mother of the believers) and say: “Umar is paying his salutation to you. But don’t say: ‘The chief of the believers,’ because today I am not the chief of the believers. And say: “Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission to be buried with his two companions (i.e. the Prophet, and Abu Bakr).” Abdullah greeted ‘Aisha and asked for the permission for entering, and then entered to her and found her sitting and weeping. He said to her, “‘Umar bin Al-Khattab is paying his salutations to you, and asks the permission to be buried with his two companions.” She said, “I had the idea of having this place for myself, but today I prefer Umar to myself.” When he returned it was said (to ‘Umar), “‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar has come.” ‘Umar said, “Make me sit up.” Somebody supported him against his body and ‘Umar asked (’Abdullah), “What news do you have?” He said, “O chief of the believers! It is as you wish. She has given the permission.” ‘Umar said, “Praise be to Allah, there was nothing more important to me than this. So when I die, take me, and greet ‘Aisha and say: “Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission (to be buried with the Prophet ), and if she gives the permission, bury me there, and if she refuses, then take me to the grave-yard of the Muslims.”
Then Hafsa (the mother of the believers) came with many other women walking with her. When we saw her, we went away. She went in (to ‘Umar) and wept there for sometime. When the men asked for permission to enter, she went into another place, and we heard her weeping inside. The people said (to ‘Umar), “O chief of the believers! Appoint a successor.” Umar said, “I do not find anyone more suitable for the job than the following persons or group whom Allah’s Apostle had been pleased with before he died.” Then ‘Umar mentioned ‘Ali, ‘Uthman, AzZubair, Talha, Sad and ‘Abdur-Rahman (bin Auf) and said, “Abdullah bin ‘Umar will be a witness to you, but he will have no share in the rule. His being a witness will compensate him for not sharing the right of ruling. If Sad becomes the ruler, it will be alright: otherwise, whoever becomes the ruler should seek his help, as I have not dismissed him because of disability or dishonesty.” ‘Umar added, “I recommend that my successor takes care of the early emigrants; to know their rights and protect their honor and sacred things.
I also recommend that he be kind to the Ansar who had lived in Medina before the emigrants and Belief had entered their hearts before them. I recommend that the (ruler) should accept the good of the righteous among them and excuse their wrong-doers, and I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns (Al-Ansar), as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and the source of annoyance to the enemy. I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent. I also recommend that he do good to the ‘Arab bedouin, as they are the origin of the ‘Arabs and the material of Islam. He should take from what is inferior, amongst their properties and distribute that to the poor amongst them. I also recommend him concerning Allah’s and His Apostle’s protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfill their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability.” So when ‘Umar expired, we carried him out and set out walking. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar greeted (’Aisha) and said, “‘Umar bin Al-Khattab asks for the permission.” ‘Aisha said, “Bring him in.” He was brought in and buried beside his two companions.
When he was buried, the group (recommended by ‘Umar) held a meeting. Then ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “ Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you.” Az-Zubair said, “I give up my right to Ali.” Talha said, “I give up my right to ‘Uthman,” Sad, ‘I give up my right to ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf.” ‘Abdur-Rahman then said (to ‘Uthman and ‘Ali), “Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses.” So both the sheiks (i.e. ‘Uthman and ‘Ali) kept silent. ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?” They said, “Yes.” So ‘Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. ‘Ali) and said, “You are related to Allah’s Apostle and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select ‘Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him.” Then he took the other (i.e. ‘Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When ‘Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, “O ‘Uthman! Raise your hand.” So he (i.e. ‘Abdur-Rahman) gave him (i.e. ‘Uthman) the solemn pledge, and then ‘Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the (Medina) people gave him the pledge of allegiance.
Refutation of Some of the Lies Perpetrated Against Him
Then, as now, the lesser people among the Muslims had a habit of spreading and digging into anything negative about the greater among the Muslims. In the following hadith, we see examples of some of the negative rumors circulating among the ignorant regarding Uthman and how they were cleared up by one of the greater Muslims - Abdullah ibn Umar.
Volume 5, Book 57, Number 48:
(the son of Muhib) An Egyptian who came and performed the Hajj to the Kaba saw some people sitting. He enquire, “Who are these people?” Somebody said, “They are the tribe of Quraish.” He said, “Who is the Shaikh among them?” The people replied, “He is ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar.” He said, “O Ibn Umar! I want to ask you about something; please tell me about it. Do you know that ‘Uthman fled away on the day (of the battle) of Uhud?” Ibn ‘Umar said, “Yes.” The (Egyptian) man said, “Do you know that ‘Uthman was absent on the day (of the battle) of Badr and did not join it?” Ibn ‘Umar said, “Yes.” The man said, “Do you know that he failed to attend the Ar Ridwan pledge and did not witness it (i.e. Hudaibiya pledge of allegiance)?” Ibn ‘Umar said, “Yes.” The man said, “Allahu Akbar!” Ibn ‘Umar said, “Come, let me explain to you. As for his flight on the day of Uhud, I testify that Allah has excused him and forgiven him; and as for his absence from the battle of Badr, it was due to the fact that the daughter of Allah’s Apostle was his wife and she was sick then. Allah’s Apostle said to him, “You will receive the same reward and share (of the booty) as anyone of those who participated in the battle of Badr.’ As for his absence from the Ar-Ridwan pledge of allegiance, had there been any person in Mecca more respectable than ‘Uthman (to be sent as a representative). Allah’s Apostle would have sent him instead of him. No doubt, Allah’s Apostle had sent him, and the incident of the Ar-Ridwan pledge of Allegiance happened after ‘Uthman had gone to Mecca. Allah’s Apostle held out his right hand saying, ‘This is ‘Uthman’s hand.’ He struck his (other) hand with it saying, ‘This (pledge of allegiance) is on the behalf of ‘Uthman.’ Then Ibn ‘Umar said to the man, ‘Go now with this with you.’