February 20, 2003 Thursday Zul Hijjah 18, 1423
Hazrat Usman's services and sacrifices for Islam
By Prof Ziauddin Ahmad
HAZRAT Usman - the third Caliph-famous for outstanding personal integrity, modesty, generosity and piety, as a ruler put down with firm hand dangerous rebellions and seditious activities in the early period and extended the frontiers of Islamic State.
Though old in years, he displayed the energy and courage of youth throughout his Caliphate and even in his martyrdom. No sooner he took the reins of power in hand, he had to face a general wave of revolts or invasions. There was insurrection in Persia. There was an invasion on Syria and Egypt, by land as well as by sea. The way he overcame these awful challenges in the most trying situations and faced this tide of difficulties is a matter of record. Not only was the insurrection in Persia thoroughly quelled, but the flag of Islam was carried farther off over vast territories, right to the confines of Ghazni.
On the Syrian front, the Romans were driven back, pursued and defeated in their own lands, and the flag of Islam proudly fluttered on the coast of the Black Sea. Rome was proud of being the mistress of the seas, yet on her own element she was humbled by the Arab soldiers who had never seen naval warfare before. On the soil of Africa too, the hosts of the Roman were thoroughly defeated.
In these perilous times, Hazrat Usman steered the ship of Islam with a composure of mind and steadiness of hand, that should entitle him to a place among the greatest leaders of men.
Under him the crescent was carried farther and father and shone brighter and brighter on land and, for the first time, on sea.
A man who could deal with the hundreds of thousands of Roman hosts but refused to unsheath his sword to shed a drop of Muslim blood and saved the solidarity of the house of Islam for the greater cause set a rare example of self-sacrifice.
The financial services that Hazrat Usman rendered to the cause of Islam during the life-time of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) show that he was a most generous man. It was a period when the Muslims were in very strained circumstances, yet even then Hazrat Usman spent thousands, nay hundreds of thousands in the cause of Islam rather than take anything from the public treasury. He liberally spent his own wealth for the public good. An amount was duly sanctioned from the public treasury to meet the personal needs of the Caliph but he did not draw even this sum.
The reign of Hazrat Umar stands out so conspicuous in respect of the territorial expansion of the Empire of Islam, and mighty empires fell before the arms of Islam, one after another, in such quick succession that subsequent conquests dwindle into insignificance before their magnificence. The fact is that the reign of Hazrat Usman was no less a period of strength of Islam. This should suffice to show that the power of Islam was at the zenith of its glory during the reign of Hazrat Usman.
There was absolutely no change in the form of government during the reign of Hazrat Usman. The machinery of government was worked exactly on the lines that had so far grown up as a peculiar institution of Islam. The same were the powers of the Caliph, the same were his rights over the public purse. The Majlis-i-Shura or council of consultation was also maintained and all affairs were settled by this council. The Caliph kept himself fully informed of the state of things in the various parts of the Empire. Every Friday, before prayers, he would gather whatever information he could from those in the mosque.
There was no obstacle in the way of approaching the Caliph with a complaint or grievance against a governor or public servant. Every such case received full and prompt attention. All the departments of state worked as during the reign of Hazrat Umar. The Revenue Department was in a much more flourishing condition. The subsidy from Egypt alone went up from twenty to forty lacs. With the swelling of income, stipends that were awarded from the public treasury were also increased. Many new building were erected. Roads, bridges, mosques and guest-houses were constructed in different towns.
Adequate provision was made for the comfort of way-farers along all the routes leading to Madinah. Military posts and caravansarais, together with water fountains, sprang up all over. To protect Madinah against floods a huge dam was constructed. The Prophet's Mosque was extended and rebuilt with stone. Farms to breed horses and camels were opened on a large scale and water arrangements were also made there.
It was 18th Zul Hijjah, 35, A.H, June 17,656 A.D. when the capital was almost empty, people having gone on pilgrimage the rebels had arrived to strike the blow. They made an attempt to force their way into the Caliph's house and finish him. They could not break the door, therefore they went to the neighbouring house and from there jumped in. The Caliph, in the midst of his family, was reciting the Quran. The Caliph's wife interposed to shield her husband. Her fingers also got chopped off. The household servants also offered resistance, but they were overpowered.
At last the noble and most gentle Caliph Hazrat Usman fell bleeding and died on the spot. The news came like a thunderbolt to the people who were still there in the town. He was truly a martyr who devoted his whole life to the cause of Islam and the service of humanity. As the Quran says such souls never die: Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord (3:169).
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