29 January 2005 Saturday 18 Zilhaj 1425
Hazrat Usman's munificent services for Islam
By Prof Manzoor Ahmad
The third caliph of Islam Hazrat Usman (RA), a very close and trustworthy companion of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), occupies an outstanding position in the history of Islam.
His unprecedented generosity for the cause of Islam and the welfare of the Muslims earned him the honorific epithet of 'Ghani' which became an integral part of his name. He was a man of fidelity, probity and austerity; and abstemiousness, righteousness and astuteness constituted the traits of his noble character.
A scion of Banu Umayyah, a branch of the Quraysh; he was born in Makkah. Attaining maturity he took trade as his means of subsistence. By virtue of his honesty and integrity the business flourished and he prospered as a business magnate. Soon he ranked high among the big traders of Makkah.
Hazrat Usman at the persuasion of Hazrat Abu-Bakr (RA) accepted Islam. No sooner than he embraced the new Faith, his family members including his own uncle turned hostile and let loose all sorts of animosities and persecution.
The unabated hostilities left no option but to seek asylum somewhere, so he with the permission of the Holy Prophet (SAW) first migrated to Abyssinia. His wife Ruqayyah (RA) who was the daughter of the Holy Prophet accompanied him. On his return he migrated to Madina.
At that time in Madinah there was a great scarcity of drinking water. The main source was a well, Bi'r Rooma, owned by a Jew who sold water to the Muslims on exorbitant charges which caused great hardship to the Muslims.
The Holy Prophet desired that it may be purchased by some Muslim. Hazrat Usman readily purchased it for 20,000 dirham and relieved the Muslims of the predicament.
With safe arrival of the Holy Prophet in Madinah, the enraged pagans of Makkah, in vengeance to exterminate him, left no stone unturned. In consequence a series of encounters took place, the battle of Badr being the most significant one.
But Hazrat Usman could not participate in it because his wife Ruqayyah was on deathbed. Here it would not be out of place to mention that after the death of Ruqayyah, he married with Umm-e-Kulthum (RA), another daughter of the Holy Prophet and earned the appellation of Zun-Noorain:
In 6 A.H. the holy Prophet left Madinah for Makkah to perform Umrah with 1400 or 1500 Muslims. Reaching the suburb of Makkah when he came to know of hostile threats of the pagans of Makkah, he decided to camp at a place called Hudaybiyah and deputed Hazrat Usman to proceed to Makkah as his envoy to apprise the pagans of Makkah of the purpose of the visit.
The stay of Hazrat Usman was unexpectedly prolonged and in the meantime it was rumoured that Hazrat Usman has been assassinated. Being extremely perturbed, the Holy Prophet declared that to seek reparation of his death is binding on all of us.
Thereupon, he took oath of fealty from the accompanying companions while sitting under a tree, hence better known as Bait-e-Rizwan. On this occasion the Holy Prophet placing one of his hands on his other hand took a similar pledge on behalf of Hazrat Usman which vividly manifests the esteemed position he enjoyed in the eyes of the Holy Prophet.
It is also worth mentioning that during the negotiating visit to Makkah he was offered to perform Umrah but he rejected it outright with the remarks: 'How can I perform Umrah without the Holy Prophet', which displays his faith.
On the eve of the preparation of an expedition to Tabuk, when reportedly Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor had collected overwhelming force to invade the nascent Muslim state of Madinah, the contribution of Hazrat Usman was unparalleled.
It was a hard time. The intensity of heat, long marches and encounter with an inveterate enemy had caused a sort of consternation among them. But the devoted and sincere Muslims undaunted by the crisis came forward, enlisted themselves and contributed towards sinews of war whatsoever they could.
The contribution of Hazrat Usman (RA) surpassed them all. He met all the expenses of one third of the army - about 10,000 infantry. Over and above that he also provided 1000 camels and 70 horses and 1000 dinar. This expedition was led by the Holy Prophet himself.
With increase in population of the Muslims in Madinah, the accommodation already available in the Masjid-e-Nabavi became small. The Holy Prophet desired to get the mosque extended.
Hazrat Usman instantly purchased the adjoining land for 25,000 dirham for the purpose. The mosque was rebuilt by him during his caliphate and all the expenses were met by him.
Likewise, he purchased land in Baqi' for graveyard. He did not take even a single dirham from the Bait-ul-Mal for his personal use. He always helped the orphans, widows, the destitutes and the needy. He used to enfranchise a slave on every Friday.
Hazrat Umar (RA) on his death-bed nominated six notables of Madinah namely Hazrat Ali ibn-abi-Talib (RA), Hazrat Usman ibn- Affan (RA), Hazrat Zubayr ibn-al-Awam (RA), Talhah ibn-Abdullah (RA), Saad ibn-abi-Waqqas (RA) and Abd-al-Rahman ibn-Awf (RA) to form an electoral college and advised to elect any one of them with general consensus. He had further stipulated not to elect his own son Abdullah. Consequently Hazrat Usman (RA) was unanimously elected as Caliph.
During his caliphate the large Muslim empire was further extended and large territories in the north east Asia and north Africa were subdued which included Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkistan, Khurasan and Afghanistan.
In Africa, Egypt and al- Maghrib had already been conquered by the Muslims during the caliphate of Hazrat Umar (RA) but he had not permitted to annex Ifriqiyah, the large tract of land from the eastern confines of al-Maghrib to the western border of Egypt.
During the reign of Hazrat Usman the Governor of Egypt and al-Maghrib, Abdullah ibn- Saad ibn-abi-Sarh invaded the territory and concluded a treaty. However, no Wali was appointed there then.
With the installation of Hazrat Usman as caliph, a new chapter was added in the Muslim history. Now Muslims are seen establishing their navy both in Syria and Egypt and undertaking naval expeditions.
It was during his caliphate that the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean - the first Muslim overseas land - was won in 28 A.H. (649 A.D.). Another island, Sicily, was also attacked.
The administrative set-up was almost the same as initiated during the caliphate of Hazrat Abu-Bakr (RA) and fully developed in the reign of Hazrat Umar (RA). The Council of Consultation (Majlis-e-Shura) was the supreme body to take decisions on all important and policy matters concerning the state.
The whole empire was divided into provinces each headed by a Wali (Governor). The Walis and other important state functionaries appointed during the caliphate of Hazrat Umar were retained on their posts. However, in Syria the provinces of Damascus, Jordan and Palestine were consolidated under the Governorship of Amir Muawiyah.
During the first half of his reign the administrative machinery remained unchanged, and peace prevailed throughout the state but in the second half of his caliphate, certain changes had become inevitable particularly in Kufah and Basrah, either to redress the grievances of the people or to meet the demand of the situation.
On Fridays in the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (SAW) every one had a free access to him where on one hand he received the latest information concerning the state affairs and on the other listened to the complaints against the state functionaries which were dealt with promptly.
In case of grievances received against any government dignitary posted in any of the provinces, he deputed some trusted persons for investigation on the recommendation of the Majlis-e-Shura.
The weal of the people had always been his main concern. For the convenience of the people, roads, bridges, caravan-serai, posts and mosques were built and wells were sunk.
An embankment was also constructed to check inundation of the Mosque of the Holy Prophet. For the military requirements vast pastures were developed and maintained for horses and camels. It was during his period that Muslim navy was also developed and shipyards were established to repair and manufacture warships.
When Hazrat Usman (RA) came to know of divergent mode of reciting the Holy Quran in the different parts of the Muslim Empire, he after obtaining the Holy Quran which was compiled during the caliphate of Hazrat Abu-Bkr (RA) and was kept in the custody of Umm-al-Momineen Hazrat Hafsa (RA), daughter of Hazrat Umar (RA), assigned the job of transcribing its copies to Zayd- ibn-Thabit and the copies prepared were sent to the provinces. Thus he earned another title of 'Jame-al-Quran'.
During the last days of his reign some political upheaval erupted. The miscreants, gathering in Madinah at a time when a large number had gone for Haj, besieged his house.
He tried to appease them and addressed them too recounting the services rendered by him but all proved futile. The rebels entered the house and struck him while he was reciting the Holy Quran. The drops of his blood fell on Quran and he died as a martyr on Friday, the 18th Zul-Hijjah 35 A.H.
(The death anniversary of Hazrat Usman Ghani is observed on 18th Zul Hijja).
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