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BAKU - In the first and second parts of the History of Islam, we talked about the establishment of the Caliphate by the First Caliph, Abu Bakr, and the expansion and implementation of reforms by the Second Caliph, Umar. Before Umar’s death, a committee known as the ‘Shura’ was established with the purpose of selecting a new Caliph and seeking the approval of the Muslim community, known as the ‘Ummah’. In the next election, the two leading candidates were Uthman and Ali. In the end, Uthman was elected as the Third Caliph. Even though Uthman was, in his own words, “not an innovator”, he certainly was a reformer.
Prior to his conversion to Islam, Uthman was a wealthy merchant from an influential family known as the Umayyads. In fact, his father was one of the richest people in the city of Mecca. Uthman inherited his father’s wealth at the age of twenty after his father had passed away. As a skillful merchant, Uthman managed to multiply his inheritance many times over, thus earning himself the nickname ‘Uthman the Wealthy’. Before his conversion to Islam, Uthman never drank or smoked, and despite his famous good looks for which he was known as ‘Uthman the Handsome’, he didn’t chase women. When Uthman converted to Islam, it enraged his family. Over the years, the Umayyad family members, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan, would turn out to be the most anti-Muslim faction within the Quraysh tribe. Uthman’s two wives denounced him for converting to Islam. So, Uthman divorced his wives and married one of Muhammad’s daughters. He would later take one more of the prophet’s daughters as his wife.
The early Muslim community was pleased to have such a wealthy man in their ranks since Uthman could help his fellow Muslims in any way he could. Usually, this help involved financial support. For example, Uthman financed the emigration of a group of Muslims to Abyssinia. He also spent lavishly on public facilities. For example, he expanded the mosque in Medina and donated wells to the public. Uthman had it all: enormous wealth, good looks, and two of the prophet’s daughters. It was because of his good fortune that Uthman was driven by a sense of guilt. He spent much of his time fasting, praying, and reading the Quran. “Every day is doomsday”, Uthman once said. This God-fearing and guilt-driven man would become the Third Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate.
Decisions Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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