Hazrat Usman's outstanding role as servant of Islam

11 February 2004 Wednesday 19 Zilhaj 1424

Hazrat Usman's outstanding role as servant of Islam

By Prof Ziauddin Ahmad

Hazrat Usman - the third Caliph - famous for outstanding 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 she was humbled by the Arab soldiers who had never seen naval warfare before. On the soil of Africa too, the Romans 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 farther 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 unsheathe his sword to shed a drop of Muslim blood and saved the solidarity of the house of Islam for the greater cause to set a rare example of self-sacrifice.

The financial services that Hazrat Usman rendered to the cause of Islam during the life-time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) show that he was a most generous man.

It was a period when the Muslims were in very difficult 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 that 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 quick succession.

But the fact is that the reign of Hazrat Usman was no less a period of conquests. This marked the glory and power of Islam at its zenith during the period of Hazrat Usman.

There was no change in the form of government during the reign of Hazrat Usman. The machinery of government 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 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 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 substantially.

With the swelling of income, stipends that were awarded from the public treasury were also increased. Many new buildings were erected. Roads, bridges, mosques and guest-houses were constructed in different towns.

Adequate provision was made for the comfort of wayfarers along all the routes leading to Madinah. Military posts and inns, 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. Farms to breed horses and camels were opened on a large scale and water arrangements were also made there.

It was Zilhij 18, 35 AH, (June 17, 656 AD), 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 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 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".

This piece of writing was a parting gift for the paper by a regular contributor just before his death.

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