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Tuesday 21st of May 2019
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Uthman, the Third Khalifa of the Muslims

Uthman, the Third Khalifa of the Muslims

Just Before His Death,Umar called Abu Talha Ansari, and said to him:
"God has given honor to Islam through you (the Ansar), and now you take your 50 armed men to watch the members of the electoral committee, and do not let them disperse without choosing a khalifa which they must do within three days."
The electors began their parleys in the house of Miswar bin Makhrama - the nephew of Abdur Rahman bin Auf. Abu Talha Ansari began his three-day long vigil. Amr bin Aas and Mughira bin Shaaba, also appeared at the door of the house of Miswar, eager to take part in the proceedings of the committee but the pickets of Abu Talha did not let them enter.

Because of the "special powers" Umar had given him, Abdur Rahman bin Auf considered himself the key figure of the electoral committee. In a size-up of the situation, he gathered that no one of the other five candidates was willing to withdraw his name from the contest, and everyone was determined to press his claim vigorously. He, therefore, quietly developed a strategy of his own, and then told the committee that he would withdraw his name from the list of candidates if it would, in return, allow him to act as chairman and coordinator of its meeting(s).

Other members agreed but Ali hesitated to give Abdur Rahman any extra powers. When others insisted that he too should agree, he said to him:

"I shall acknowledge you as chairman of the electoral committee if you give a pledge that you will not be a slave to your own lusts, and that your decision will be taken only to win the pleasure of God and His Messenger."

Abdur Rahman readily gave his pledge for doing so, and thus became the chairman of the committee. By withdrawing his candidacy, he won extra leverage with the other candidates, and cast himself in the role of a "king-maker."

Abdur Rahman held a series of meetings with other candidates in an attempt to find a satisfactory solution of the problem but his efforts bore no fruit. The discussions of the other candidates during the first two days also ended in stalemate.

On the third and the last day, Abdur Rahman paid a visit to each member of the committee in his own house. In these private meetings, he asked each candidate whom he would like to see as khalifa if he himself were not elected. The answer was Uthman or Ali. This meant that the choice was narrowed down to these two men, one of whom had to become khalifa, but which one?
That evening, Abdur Rahman, the king-maker, called on his old friend, Amr bin Aas, explained to him his predicament, and added:

"I have been so perplexed in this matter that I have known no rest for three days. Today is the last day, and I still have found no answer to our problem. What is troubling me is the fear lest Ali becomes the caliph. And before Umar died, I gathered from his manner and attitude that he too was haunted by the same fear."

Amr bin Aas was much more skillful than Abdur Rahman or anyone else at the kind of game the latter was trying to play. He said: "I know the move that will checkmate Ali." He then explained the move to Abdur Rahman. The latter welcomed the bright idea and felt happy and confident that he would preclude Ali from becoming the caliph.

On the following morning, the Muslims assembled in the Mosque of the Prophet. It was a momentous day in their lives when they would know who their future sovereign was going to be. Presently the king-maker and other members of the electoral committee also arrived and took their seats. After a brief pause the king-maker rose. He made an announcement of the purpose of the gathering, underscored its importance, and called upon the Muslims to abide by the decision of the electoral committee which Umar had appointed.

The air was charged with tension, and every man was keyed up, ready as if to snap any moment. Abdur Rahman bin Auf, the king-maker, turned toward Ali, held his hand, and posed to him the following question:

"If we give you charge of the government of the Muslims, and put you in authority over their affairs, do you solemnly promise to act according to the Book of God, the Sunna of His Apostle, and the precedents of Abu Bakr and Umar?"

(The proviso to act according to the precedents of Abu Bakr and Umar was not stipulated by Umar himself. It was the "move" which Amr bin Aas had suggested to Abdur Rahman bin Auf. He knew that Ali would not accept it.)

Ali replied to the king-maker as follows:
"I shall act according to the Book of God, and the Sunna of His Apostle. As for following the precedents of Abu Bakr and Umar, I have a judgment of my own, and I am going to use it."
Ali knew just what would happen next.

The king-maker let his hand fall. He then turned to Uthman, and repeated the same question to him. Uthman immediately agreed. Thereupon the king-maker himself became the first to give him his pledge of loyalty. He congratulated him on becoming the new khalifa, and signaled the others to give him their pledge of loyalty.

The khalifa had been chosen. The new khalifa of the Muslims was Uthman bin Affan.
Ali let caliphate slip from his hand but he did not compromise with a principle. He did not consider Abu Bakr and Umar lawful successors of Muhammad, and he refused to imitate them in anything.

 


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