Uthman ibn Affan: A generous and pious person

Uthman ibn Affan: A generous and pious person
Updated 13 December 2013

Uthman ibn Affan: A generous and pious person

Uthman ibn Affan: A generous and pious person

Uthman ibn Affan was the third caliph of Islam. He was known as the leader of the faithful and ruled for approximately 12 years. The first six years were times of relative tranquility and peace, however the last years of his reign were marred by internal conflict, and pockets of rebels trying to cause havoc throughout the Caliphate. Uthman is remembered as a pious, gentle, and kind man, known for his modesty and shyness, and admired for his generosity. He ruled with impartial justice and mild and humane policies, based on his obedience to God and his love for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Muslim nation.
Uthman (may God be pleased with him) was born seven years after Prophet Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) and belonged to the Umayyad branch of the Quraish tribe. The Umayyads were the most influential clan of the Quraish, they were the strongest and wealthiest, and Uthman was their "golden child", the most beloved, due to his good manners and shyness. Like his predecessor Omar ibn Al Khattab, Uthman was able to read and write. This was an unusual skill in pre-Islamic Arabia and Uthman became a successful trader and cloth merchant. Throughout his life he was known as a kind, generous man and even before his conversion to Islam he would freely give money to help those in need.
It was his close friend Abu Bakr who introduced Uthman to Islam and he embraced the new religion at the age of 34. This was during the very early days of Islam when the men of Makkah were systematically abusing and torturing any converts to Islam. In spite of the abuse, Uthman would not give up his Islam and in time Uthman was married to Prophet Muhammad's daughter, Ruqiayah, thus strengthening his relationship to the Prophet.
The abuse and torture continued and Uthman's wealthy family and status in society as a merchant did not protect him. He was abused and tortured even by members of his own family; his uncle shackled his hands and feet and shut him in a dark enclosed room. The continual bad treatment by his close family led Uthman and his wife to participate in the first migration to Abyssinia. Prophet Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) praised his forbearing character and said "After Lot, Uthman is the first man who, with his wife, has given up the comfort of his home for the sake of God." After some time Uthman and Ruqiayah returned to Makkah to be with the struggling Muslims and their beloved father and Prophet.
Uthman formed a very close relationship with Prophet Muhammad, and he gained intricate knowledge about the religion of Islam. He narrated 146 traditions directly from the Prophet himself and was one of very few people who were able to write down Qur'an. Uthman also became a reference point for those trying to learn the rituals of worship. He understood and was able to instruct others in the rituals of ablution, prayer, and other Islamic obligations. Uthman also participated in the migration to Madinah and here he assisted Prophet Muhammad in establishing the Muslim nation. Prophet Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) even referred to him as his assistant.
In Madinah, water was scarce and control of the wells was tightly held by several men. Because he was a skilful trader and negotiator, Uthman set about trying to procure a well for the use of the Muslims. He negotiated a price for half a well; he would have control one day and the other owner the next day. However, Uthman gave his water to the Muslims freely, so nobody wanted to pay for the water on the alternate days.
The original owner of the well had no choice but to sell his half of the well to Uthman who nevertheless paid a fair price for it. Uthman continued to allow the water to be used freely by all and never reminded the people of his charity. He was humble and modest.
Uthman gave freely from his wealth to please God and His messenger Muhammad. Historical Islamic stories mention that every Friday Uthman would buy slaves for the purpose of setting them free and that although he was wealthy he was often without servants because of this habit. When Prophet Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) and the Muslim armies were going to fight the Byzantines at Tabuk, he called on the wealthier people to give from their wealth and property to support and equip the soldiers. Uthman presented 200 saddled camels and 200 ounces of gold. He also gave 1,000 dinars. Prophet Muhammad asked for donations hoping to inspire others to give as freely as Uthman. However, it was Uthman who surpassed them all and gave a total of 900 equipped camels.
The portrait we are able to build of Uthman is that of a generous, unassuming, and kind man. He was known for his humbleness, modesty, and piety. Uthman would often spend the nights in prayer and he was known to fast often, sometimes on alternative days. In spite of his wealth, he lived simply and would often sleep, wrapped in a blanket, on the sand of the mosque. Uthman was appointed as the third leader of the Muslims after Prophet Muhammad by a council of six men. He continued the humane and just rule of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and Omar. He cared for the Muslims and expanded the Muslim Caliphate into Morocco, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan. For six years, his reign was one of peace and calmness, but the winds of change were blowing over the empire.
Uthman ibn Affan, like his predecessors was a man of the people. He was modest, shy, and humble but still his later reign was marred by infighting and rebellion. God had chosen Uthman to be the third leader but the people of dissension plotted to remove him from this noble position. Prophet Muhammad had prophesized that Uthman would be placed in a very difficult situation when he said, "Perhaps God will clothe you with a shirt, Uthman, and if the people want you to take it off, do not take it off for them." Uthman did not remove his shirt, his love for God and his Messenger kept him both strong and humble in the face of old age and extreme difficulties.

To be continued next week

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The beauty of prayer in Islam

The beauty of prayer in Islam
Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

The beauty of prayer in Islam
GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.