He was a great man. His legacy is not mentioned as often as some of the other companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) such as Abu Bakr and Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them all), but his legacy was no less stellar than theirs and he was, in all that the word entails, a true hero of Islam.
Uthman bin Affan was among the earliest who accepted Islam and who believed in the Prophet (peace be upon him) and supported his cause. It is said that Uthman bin Affan was the fourth male to embrace Islam, after Abu Bakr, Ali bin Abi Talib, and Zayd bin Thabit.
Born into the wealthy Umayya clan of the prominent Quraish tribe of Makkah, Uthman had a high social and economic standing, yet he was modest and humble in character. When Uthman’s father died, he left a huge inheritance to Uthman, who carried on the family business. Uthman’s business flourished, making him one of the wealthiest men in Makkah.
Uthman bin Affan was given the title of Dhul Nurayan, the one with the two lights, because he married the daughter of Prophet Muhmmad (peace be upon him), Ruqayyah. After Ruqayyah died, Uthman married another of the Prophet’s daughters, Umm Kulthoum, and she also died in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
He undertook the two journeys with the Muslims, the two migrations to flee to a place where it would be safe to practice the religion of Islam. He was among those who migrated to Abyssinia and he established a successful business there. Two years later he returned to Makkah, and of course he also migrated to Madinah.
At the time of the Battle of Badr, Uthman’s wife, the Prophet’s daughter, Ruqayyah, fell seriously ill. Uthman stayed in Madinah to tend to his sick wife and was unable to participate in the battle. An important and influential man in his society, yet he stayed by his wife’s side in her final days; this shows what a kind, loving, and merciful man Uthman was. When the news reached Madinah that the Muslims were victorious, Ruqayyah had died and she was being buried.
Uthman bin Affan was well known for his bashfulness and endless generosity. It was narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was reclining in his house while part of his legs were uncovered. Abu Bakr sought permission to enter, so he permitted him to enter and spoke to him. Umar bin Al-Khattab sought permission to enter, so he permitted him to enter and spoke to him. Then Uthman bin Affan sought permission to enter, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) sat up and straightened his garments. Uthman was them permitted to enter and he spoke to him.
When Uthman left, Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, asked, “Abu Bakr came and you did not move, Umar came and you did not move, but when Uthman came, you sat up and straightened your garments?”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “Should I not feel shy before a man whom the angels feel shy of?” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2401) What an honorable man, that even the heavenly angels have a special reverence for Uthman bin Affan.
As for his generosity, time and again, he not only willingly but happily spent enormous sums of his wealth to help the Muslims.
Shortly after the Muslims migrated to Madinah, water was scarce; they needed a source of drinking water. There was only one well within their near vicinity, which was owned by a Jewish man who used to charge the Muslims a ridiculously high price to use the well. Living conditions were becoming increasingly difficult without water.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked who can buy the well and dedicate it to the Muslims, and in return earn the reward of a house in Paradise.
Uthman bin Affan was the first to come forward. He approached the Jewish man to buy the well, but the man rejected Uthman’s offer. He would sell only half of the well to Uthman, for a large amount of money. Uthman accepted.T he Muslims could fill water on alternate days, one day it was Uthman’s turn and the next day it was the Jewish man’s turn. On Uthman’s day, he gave out the water for free to everybody. Nobody came to fill water on the Jewish man’s day so he eventually sold the other half of the well to Uthman, due to lack of business.
Uthman bin Affan dedicated the well to the people for free, and it continues to pump water even to this day.
Repeatedly, Uthman’s generosity saved the Muslims during difficult times. One year, under the Caliphate of Umar bin Al-Khattab, there had been no rainfall, crops shriveled and died, and there was a severe shortage of food. A caravan of 1,000 camels laden with grains and supplies had just arrived from Syria, and it belonged to Uthman. Merchants raced to Uthman to negotiate a deal. They offered to buy the grains at a 5% profit for Uthman, but he turned them down, claiming that he found a better offer. He already had an offer of ten times the profit; for every dirham he spent in charity, Allah would reward him tenfold and up to seven hundred times more. Uthman distributed the entire stock of food grains among the poor people, free of charge.
When Umar bin Al-Khattab, the Second Caliph, was assassinated, he appointed a committee of six men to choose from amongst themselves his successor; they were: Ali bin Abi Talib, Uthman bin Affan, Abdur Rahman bin Awf, Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas, Al-Zubayr, and Talha. After two days of deliberation and after ascertaining the opinions of the Muslims in Madinah, the choice was made, the five men and the Muslims in Madinah pledged allegiance to their Third Caliph, Uthman bin Affan.
The Caliphate of Uthman bin Affan cannot be summarized in a few words as under his leadership Islam expanded in the West to Morocco, in the East to Afghanistan, and in the North to Armenia and Azerbaijan. He governed with more leniency than his predecessor, Umar bin Al-Khattab.
During the first half of Uthman’s reign, the Muslim world enjoyed internal peace and tranquility and economic prosperity.
Uthman’s most notable contribution was the second compilation of the Holy Qur’an. Since the Muslim population was spreading over vast areas, and many people of other cultures in distant lands were entering Islam, there was a need for these peoples to have an authentic copy of the Holy Qur’an to learn from, in one and the same dialect and language. There was only one book of the Qur’an which had been compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and kept in the residence of Hafshah, daughter of Umar bin Al-Khattab and widow of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Uthman bin Affan asked Hafsah for this copy and he charged the following scribes to compile additional copies of the Qur’an: Zayd bin Thabit, Abdullah bin Al-Zubayr, Sa’ad bin Al-As, and Abdur Rahman bin Al-Harith. They scribed several copies of the Qur’an.
The original copy was returned to Hafsah, and the remaining copies were sent to the various new Islamic states where they could read, learn, memorize, and teach the Qur’an.
Another major achievement was that the first fleet of a Muslim naval army, Muslim military expeditions by sea sailed for the first time under the Caliphate of Uthman, led by Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan.
Source: Saudi Gazette | Author: Amal Al-Sibai