Usman bin Affan (RA) was a companion and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He also became the third Caliph of Rashidun Caliphate after the martyrdom of second Caliph Umar (RA). He is especially known for his generosity which earned him the title of Ghani (the generous). He married two daughters of Muhammad (PBUH), Ruqayyah (RA) and Umm-e-Kulsum (RA). Due to this, he is also known as Zul-Nourain (Possessor of Two Lights). He was the last Islamic ruler whose Capital was Madinah. His martyrdom during his caliphate began the division among Muslims which is prevailing still now.
Usman (RA) was born in Makkah in 577 AD in Bani Umayyad clan of Quraysh tribe. His father’s name was Affan bin al-As while his mother was Urwa bint Kariz. She was cousin of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Usman (RA) was a successful merchant and one of the wealthiest among the Makkans.
Life as a Muslim
He was a close friend of Abu Bakr (RA). In 611 AD, he accepted Islam after discussion with Abu Bakr (RA) who had already accepted Islam. He was one of the earliest Muslims and very few people before him converted to Islam.
In 614 AD, he and his wife Ruqayya (RA) migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) during First Migration to Abyssinia. Later they both returned with several others to Makkah on hearing the false news of acceptance of Islam by Quraysh but then they stayed in Makkah and didn’t travel again during the Second Migration to Abyssinia. In 622 AD, Usman (RA) and Ruqayya (RA) migrated to Madinah along with other Muslims.
Life in Madinah
His business also flourished in Madinah and he became a wealthy person there also. He generously spent his wealth for the service of Islam and Muslims. He bought a well Roma for Muslims which made life easy for them. During Battle of Tabouk in 630 AD, Usman (RA) gave the expenses of 1000 camels, 70 horses and 1,000 dinar. He also gave the dowry for the marriage of Ali (RA) and Fatima (RA).
He took part in all the major battles except Battle of Badr due to sickness of his wife Ruqayya (RA) bint Muhammad (PBUH).
In 6 AH, Muhammad (PBUH) went with his 1400 companions towards Makkah to perform Umrah but the Quraysh didn’t give permission to them. The prophet (PBUH) sent Usman (RA) towards the Makkans to inform that they only came for the ritual pilgrimage (Umrah) and they should be given permission to enter Makkah. Usman remained inside Makkah for a long time and the Muslims thought that Usman is killed by Quraysh. Muhammad (PBUH) decided to take revenge of Usman’s death and took pledge from all the Muslims. It is known as Pledge of the Tree. Later, it was disclosed that Usman (RA) is alive and the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was signed between the two parties.
He remained advisor of first two caliphs Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA) and was very close to them.
Caliphate of Usman (RA)
Umar (RA) made a committee of six persons before his martyrdom to decide the new caliph. These include; Usman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Abdul Rahman bin Awf, Zubayr bin al-Awam and Talhah bin Ubaidullah. Talhah voted for Ali while Sa’d, Zubayr and Abdul Rahman voted in favor of Usman. Later, it became a unanimous decision in favor of Usman (PBUH) as the third Caliph by all the members of committee. His caliphate started in 644 AD (24 AH).
Usman’s caliphate was a successful one militarily and politically. He successfully crushed the rebellions and re-conquered the areas of Fars, Khorasan, Tabaristan, Sistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Egypt etc. He also conquered some areas of North Africa (today’s Libya), Baluchistan (Pakistan), southern Transoxiana (modern Uzbekistan) and Afghanistan. He also formed Muslim Navy which conquered the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes from Byzantine Empire.
Riot against Usman (RA)
First six years of Usman (RA) were peaceful with internal prosperity and military achievements. But due to softness and leniency of Usman, a secret rebellion flourished during the second half of his rule. Few people, especially from Iraq and Egypt, showed their sentiments against Caliph Usman (RA). Their leader was Abdullah bin Saba who was a notorious person and a Jew who falsely accepted Islam to accomplish his evil deeds.
They initially wrote secret letters to prominent personalities about the alleged atrocities and misuse of treasury by the governors of different provinces. Later, they lay different allegation on Usman and demanded his resignation from Caliphate on basis of these allegations. They also propagated about the right of rule for the family of Prophet (PBUH) in order to impress the ahl-al-bayt (family members of Prophet (PBUH)) especially Ali (RA). Several people of the conquered lands (Iraq and Egypt) also joined them. On seeing this, Usman (RA) invited the leaders of mutiny in Makkah during Hujj of 655 AD to investigate their allegations. The rebels present their complaints which were either false or of less importance and Usman answered them so reasonably that everyone accepted his defense. This made the rioters to believe that they’ll not be able to make anybody fool with these allegations any more. They decided to come next year at the same time in Madinah to take resignation from Usman (RA) by force as most people will be in Makkah to perform Hajj.
Martyrdom of Usman (RA)
Next year in 656 AD, they came in large numbers from Egypt and Iraq (kufa and Basra) during Hajj season and surrounded the house of Usman (RA) and demanded his resignation. The rioters also tried to convince prominent companions Ali (RA), Zubair (RA) and Talha (RA) but they refused to help them. Usman (RA) rejected their demand but also didn’t allow the people of Madinah to fight against them in order to prevent bloodshed. This made the insurgents brave and they tried to enter his house but the resistance of Hussain bin Ali (RA), Abdullah bin Zubair (RA) and other failed their efforts. Later they reached Usman (RA) through the back wall of his house and martyred him. It was 18th of Zulhijjah 35AH (656 AD). Usman (RA) was later buried secretly in Jannat-al-Baqi, Madinah.
Place in Islamic History
Usman (RA) was a prominent personality in Islamic History. He served Islam with his wealth and the borders of the State reached in far flung areas of North Africa, Baluchistan (Pakistan) and southern parts of Central Asia during his Caliphate. His martyrdom was a success for enemies of Islam and it initiated the First Fitna (First Civil War) in the state and divided the Muslims to an extent which is prevailing still today.