The caliphate of 'Uthmaan -I

The caliphate of
  • Publish date:26/01/2017
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Selection for caliphate, 24 AH

'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him was asked before his death to nominate his successor as Abu Bakr  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him had done. 'Umar sent for ’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf, Sa’ad bin Abu Waqqas, Az-Zubayr bin Al-Awwam, Talhah, 'Ali, and 'Uthman bin 'Affan  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them. Talhah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him was somewhere outside Al-Madeenah. 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said addressing those five persons: "Keep waiting for Talhah for three days: If he returns within this period, he is included in the panel otherwise you should choose your Caliph from among yourselves."

After the demise of 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad and Abu Talhah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them appointed Suhayb  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him as acting Caliph and Imam for three days as per the will left by 'Umar. Afterwards, they contacted 'Ali, 'Uthmaan, Az-Zubayr, Sa’ad, ’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf and 'Abdullah bin 'Umar, and assembled them in the house of Miswar bin Makhramah, or according to other accounts, in the house of 'Aa’ishah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  her. Talhah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him was still out of Al-Madeenah. When all the members arrived, ’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him got up and said: "Who among those nominated for the Caliphate withdraws his name so that he may be given power to appoint the most excellent and suitable among you as Caliph?" All the persons present kept silent. After a while he announced: "I give up my candidacy and I am ready to perform the duty of appointing a Caliph." All of them agreed to it and empowered him to appoint the Caliph. However, 'Ali  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him kept silent. When ’Abdur-Rahman asked him about his silence, he said: "I agree with the opinion of other members, but, you must first promise to make your decision without any favor and personal involvement and do it with an eye on the truth and for the welfare of the whole Ummah."

’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said: "I give my word that I will do it without showing any favor to anyone and without any personal involvement just for the sake of truth and for the welfare of the Ummah. But all of you should also promise to agree to the one I choose for the post, and you will rise against the one who disagrees with me." Having heard this, 'Ali  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him and all those present said with one voice: "We will all lend support to your choice and help you in its enforcement."

With this promise on both sides, the session was over and the members went home and waited for three days for the final verdict. During this period, ’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him kept meeting men of sound judgment and discussing the issue with them. He says that when he said to 'Uthman  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him in private; "In case I fail to pledge allegiance to you, to whom will you suggest to do this?" He replied: "You should pledge allegiance to 'Ali." ’Abdur-Rahman then put the same question to 'Ali  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him when he was alone, and he took the name of 'Uthman. ’Abdur-Rahman then asked Az-Zubayr  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him to give his decision, he said: "Pledge your allegiance to either 'Uthman or 'Ali." He then referred the issue to Sa’ad  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him in private, he took the name of 'Uthman. When he took the advice of other men of sound judgment, the majority appeared to be in favor of 'Uthman  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him.

On the night before the day of announcing the decision, the members of the panel again assembled in the same house. ’Abdur-Rahmaan bin 'Awf called Az-Zubayr and Sa’ad  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them  separately and said: "Most of the people appear to be in favor of 'Uthman and 'Ali." They too favored them. ’Abdur-Rahman then talked to 'Uthman and 'Ali separately. The night ended and after the Fajr prayer the mosque was crowded with people, all of them were eagerly awaiting the announcement of ’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf.

’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him got up and said addressing the audience: "I did all within my power to know the opinion of all the groups and classes of people and nobody is now to go against my decision. All the members of the consultative body and nominated panel have already conceded to my decision and I have spent all my power to arrive at this decision." Saying this he called 'Uthman and asked him to declare his resolve to follow the path shown by Allah and His Messenger,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), and the Righteous Caliphs that passed away before him. 'Uthman  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him declared that he would try his best to follow the commands of Allah and His Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), and follow the examples of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq and 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them. Following this, ’Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf himself first pledged his allegiance to 'Uthman and others followed suit.

At the end of the Bay'ah (pledge of allegiance) session, 'Uthman bin 'Affan  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him came to the pulpit and addressing the congregation asked them to follow the good deeds. He also asked them to fear the evil effects of abundant wealth and stressed keeping the Pleasure of Allah in view. After his preliminary address, he issued an order in the name of the governors and officers mentioning the demise of 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him and his own election as the Caliph of Islam. All of them were enjoined to work with honesty and in good faith.

The conquest of Alexandria 

Other than the conquest of Alexandria (Iskandariyah), during the first year of the Caliphate of 'Uthman bin 'Affan  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him there was no other major event. Heraclius had taken refuge in Constantinople (Istanbul) after his flight from Asia Minor and Syria following the fall of Bayt-ul-Maqdis (Jerusalem). Now he was worried about the safety of the rest of his territory, after losing all hope of restoring the lost lands. In the wake of the invasion of Egypt by 'Amr bin Al-'Aas, Muqawqis, the king of Egypt had yielded Egypt and Alexandria to him after earning peace by paying the Jizyah (Head-tax imposed by Islam on the people of the Book). Heraclius considered Egypt his own province and Muqawqis his subordinate. Shock and terror engulfed him on all sides and he died surrounded by defeat and dejection during the Caliphate of 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him. His son Qustuntin (Constantine) succeeded him and lost no time in mobilizing a huge army to restore Alexandria. However, Muqawqis prevented the Romans from entering Alexandria and thus kept his promise.

When the Muslims came to know of the Roman invasion, they came quickly from Fustat (Cairo). The Romans then turned their attack to the Islamic cantonments giving up their campaign for Alexandria. Both the armies came upon each other and a severe battle broke out. The commander of the Roman army was killed and a large number of Roman soldiers met the same fate. The rest barely reached Constantinople by boat. 'Amr bin Al-'Aas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him lost no time in demolishing the ramparts around Alexandria and then came back to his cantonment in Fustat. This was done to prevent the possibility of any Roman attack in future trying to turn Alexandria into a fortress. This event took place in 25 AH.

The conquest of Armenia

The Roman invasion of Alexandria was, in fact, the result of the demise of 'Umar and the same event led to the uprising in the Persian territories of Hamadan and Rey. They declared their freedom from Muslim rule. 'Uthman bin 'Affan dispatched Abu Moosa Al-Ash'ari, Al-Baraa' bin 'Azib and Qarazah bin Ka'b  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them to tackle the situation and they did their job well.

Mu'awiyah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him the governor of Damascus had sent Habeeb bin Maslamah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him to Armenia. He conquered a number of cities and forts and forced the Romans to pay the Jizyah. When this news reached the Caesar of Constantinople, he collected 80,000 troops from Malit, Siwas, and Quniah and invaded Habeeb bin Maslamah. Habeeb sent the account of these events to Mu'awiyah and he gave the news to the Caliph 'Uthman bin 'Affan. The Caliph wrote to Waleed bin 'Uqbah, the governor of Koofah to dispatch 10,000 reinforcements to Armenia who immediately carried out the order with a dispatch of 8,000 troops headed by Salman bin Rabee'ah to Armenia.

Habeeb bin Maslamah and Salman bin Rabee'ah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them jointly won Armenia and reached up to the Caucasus Mountains. When Habeeb bin Maslamah returned to Damascus, Mu’awiyah himself invaded the Roman territory. The Roman fighters escaped leaving Antakiyah (Antioch) and their citadels behind. This event took place in 25 AH.

Events and changes in Egypt

'Abdullah bin Sa’ad was the foster brother of 'Uthman bin 'Affan. 'Uthman bin 'Affan sent him to Egypt as a governor and head of the public treasury while 'Amr bin Al-'Aas was kept simply as a military officer. When relations among the military officers worsened, the Caliph deposed 'Amr bin Al-'Aas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him and transferred the entire control of Egypt and Alexandria to 'Abdullah bin Sa’ad.

When the Caesar of Constantinople heard of the deposition of 'Amr bin Al-'Aas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him and the resulting uprisings in Egypt, he mobilized a huge army towards Alexandria under the command of a seasoned general. The Greeks in the city joined the Roman army’s camp and Alexandria fell to the Romans after slight resistance.

'Amr bin Al-'Aas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him was again sent to Egypt as a governor who launched such a fierce attack at the Romans that they had to flee from Alexandria after sustaining heavy losses and a heavy toll on their soldiers.

Nevertheless, when peace and normalcy returned to the region and the administration was running smooth, 'Amr bin Al-'Aas was deposed once again and replaced by 'Abdullah bin Sa’ad. This time the Caliph’s decision made 'Abdullah bin Sa’ad feel uneasy and uncomfortable, because his efforts to uphold the deteriorating situation of the region the last time had met with utter failure. However, he was now anxious to make amends for his past failures.

To be continued

The caliphate of 'Uthmaan -II

The caliphate of 'Uthmaan -III

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