A Good Conscience Is A Choice Companion

Developing Just Leadership

Abu Dharr

Jumada' al-Akhirah 19, 1445 2024-01-01


by Abu Dharr (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 11, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1445)

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‘Uthman, like most of the prominent Muhajireen and Ansar, accompanied Allah’s Prophet (pbuh) to the battlegrounds. Remember, ‘Uthman was a “wealthy merchant”; and he generously contributed to the limited resources of the “Islamic treasury”. Usually individuals of wealth, status, and “class” will try to exempt themselves from going to the warfront; but ‘Uthman willingly went to the warfront.

Unlike Imam ‘Ali who exceled as a warrior, it was ‘Uthman who stood out among the affluent Muslims for his openhanded financial support for the Prophet (pbuh). With his own money he purchased the water-well known as Rumah (رومة) and offered it free of charge to all the Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) assured him of a better reimbursement in paradise.

‘Uthman also bought land around the Prophet’s masjid for its expansion so that it could accommodate more attendees. And, here too, the Prophet (pbuh) indicated to ‘Uthman that the reimbursement in the life to come shall be worthier than ‘Uthman’s generosity of spirit.

When the Muslims were preparing for a military showdown with the Byzantines (the battle of Tabuk) and realized that they were in great need of “military hardware” and resources, it was at this defining moment that ‘Uthman stepped forward, paid for, and equipped the “Islamic armed forces” with whatever they needed of gear and supplies.

It is said that ‘Uthman brought to the Prophet’s chamber one thousand dinars which he (pbuh) spent on the military effort. The Prophet (pbuh) had comforting words for ‘Uthman and implored Allah (swt) to forgive his past and future lapses and grant him gardens of bliss.

‘Uthman was known to be a kind, gentle, and benevolent person. This feature was especially true of him when it came to his relatives. Another noticeable feature of ‘Uthman was his genuine quietness, caution, and coyness. This is mentioned in books of hadith and seerah. It is said that the Prophet (pbuh) expressed it this way: Verily, the angels are together unassuming when it comes to ‘Uthman.

On the occasion of (Hudaybiyah), in year six after the hijrah, the Prophet (pbuh) chose ‘Uthman to be his liaison with Quraish. The Prophet (pbuh) knew what ‘Uthman means to Bani Umayyah – who were the Prophet’s family tree antagonists and at the same time ‘Uthman’s extended family. Had the Prophet (pbuh) doubted ‘Uthman’s loyalty, he wouldn’t have tasked him as a go-between involving the Prophet (pbuh) on one side and Quraish/Bani Umayyah on the other.

‘Uthman proceeded from the Prophet (pbuh) and the committed Muslims to “negotiate” in good faith with Quraish in Makkah. Upon his arrival there, a report spread that Quraish was scheming, and contemplating a type of revenge against ‘Uthman. At that point the Prophet (pbuh) summoned the combat committed Muslims to gear up for struggle and a potential clash with Quraish.

This state of affairs was captured in the coaching Qur’an: Indeed, those who pledge their allegiance to you [O Muhammad, on this occasion] are in fact pledging their allegiance to Allah: Allah’s hand [power prerogative] rises higher than their hands [the Makkan mushriks’ abilities and capabilities]. Hence, he who contravenes his pledge contravenes it to his own detriment, whereas whoever honors what he has pledged to Allah, to him will He grant a vast reward - Al-Fath: 10.

The Prophet (pbuh) clasped his hands together demonstrating that his other hand represented that of ‘Uthman’s. This incident in Islamic books of history, hadith, and seerah has many distractions, diversions, and agitations. Some commentaries are pure fabrication, some observations are dubious or at least questionable. An objective reader and an impartial researcher will be able to notice the retroactive propaganda of the Umayyad rulers which made their way into some books of Islamic history, hadith, and seerah. It was because of the post-khilafah Umayyad rumors and propaganda that posited that some followers of the Prophet (pbuh), from the Muhajireen in particular, were highlighted while others were lowlighted.

Some of the feigned ‘hadiths’ tell us that the Prophet (pbuh) guarantees that ‘Uthman will go to paradise. Other “hadiths” say that ‘Uthman has secured paradise for himself. Yet other “hadiths” most likely attributed by the Umayyads to ‘Umar’s son ‘Abdullah tell us that the Muslims during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) gave preference to Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman (in that order). The rest of the Muslims were all (sub)-equals.

The obvious inference is that during the Prophet’s lifetime Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman were a notch above the rest! There are no ayats in the Qur’an that endorse this arrangement and prejudgment. Nevertheless, the lax Muslim majority under the spell of royal powers has acquiesced to the dependability of such faux hadiths over original ayats and the candid Qur’an.

Along these very lines we have almost like an article of faith that the Prophet (pbuh) certified paradise for ten individuals who are more often than not mentioned in the following sequence: Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidillah, al-Zubair ibn al-‘Awwam, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, and Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn Nufayl.

As one can see, ‘Uthman is among these ten. There should be no doubt about ‘Uthman’s very early transition to Islam. There should also be no uncertainty about ‘Uthman being the Prophet’s son-in-law. Similarly, there is no hesitation to say that ‘Uthman gave of his endeavors and of his wealth to defend the Prophet (pbuh) and raise the banner of tawhid.

When our dearest Prophet (pbuh) passed on and the Muhajireen and Ansar (with a few dissentions) decided on Abu Bakr as the ruling successor to the Prophet (pbuh), ‘Uthman was one of the earliest individuals to approve of Abu Bakr as a successor. It was also ‘Uthman who wrote Abu Bakr’s appointment of ‘Umar as the khalifah to ensue after Abu Bakr’s demise. Abu Bakr verbalized and ‘Uthman transcribed.

In the stiff and severe sectarian mind there is an assumption that is inflated into a belief that Abu Bakr was dictatorial in appointing ‘Umar as the subsequent ruler of the Muslims. This notion can only gain credibility by presuming that there was a “faction”, as the mild sectarians would say, or a “cabal” as the vulgar sectarians would put it, about those who “stole” the leadership from Imam ‘Ali. What feeds this type of paranoia is the fact that once again ‘Uthman, one of the first among the Muhajireen and Ansar to approve of ‘Umar as the one to succeed Abu Bakr. A point of clarification is needed here.

Abu Bakr did not pick out ‘Umar as leader because of some “conspiracy”. And he did not decide on ‘Umar because he thought ‘Umar was an Imam. During his period in office and in his own way, Abu Bakr “took the pulse” of the Muhajireen and Ansar as to who would qualify to maintain the “internal front’s togetherness” when threats to the unity of this Islamic critical mass were very ominous, internally and externally.

‘Uthman was known to have been a regular advisor to ‘Umar. When ‘Umar was severely injured and on deathbed, he chose not to rely on his personal knowledge and familiarity and evaluation of who would qualify to keep the Muslims together after him, as did Abu Bakr. So, he suggested that the decision to appoint the post-‘Umar ruler be made by six individuals who ‘Umar regarded to be the closest to the Prophet (pbuh) during his lifetime.

‘Umar excluded his cousin Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn Nufayl who was among the ten who were, as noted above, pledged to enter paradise. ‘Umar abhorred the idea that two individuals from the same family line assume the highest Islamic office of governance. ‘Umar excluded his son ‘Abdullah from that committee of six but appointed him as a tie-breaker – just in case there was a tie. Once again, ‘Umar didn’t want anyone else from his family to be burdened with the rigorous responsibilities and dire duties of the head of state. He also knew his own son was not exacting enough to be a ruler over the Muslims.

Was ‘Umar’s better judgment impeccable? No. Was ‘Umar selfish? No. Was ‘Umar part of a conspiracy? No. Did ‘Umar ever claim he was an Imam? No.

We will see as we proceed with the details of the khilafah years that the growing Islamic domain had to be kept together by individuals whose sincerity was beyond doubt but whose personal abilities and aptitudes fell short of being Imams.

…And who answer back to their Sustainer, and effectuate the salah, and meditate upon their [civic] affair through deliberation among themselves, and spend out of what He provided them… - al-Shura: 38.

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