The cousin and twice son-in-law to Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Hazrat Usman ibn Affan (RA), was the third caliph of Islam. As per the traditions, his (RA) mother Umm Hakim bint Abdul-Muttalib was the twin sister of Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib, the father of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), making him the prophet’s (PBUH) second cousin. He (RA) was also known as Zun Noorain, or the “possessor of two lights,” as he married Hazrat Rukayya and after her death, Umm-e-Kulsum, two of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) daughters. After Hazrat Usman’s (RA) demise, Muslims fell into disarray, sometimes even fighting each other. He was a very mild person in nature and the only caliph to be selected from among and by his equals, individuals who later clashed after his (RA) death.
Hazrat Usman-e-Ghani (RA) was one of the early converts, actually the 5th person to embrace Islam. As per a tradition, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) took him to the Holy Prophet (PBUH), where he (RA) converted to Islam. His father, Affan ibn Abi al-Aas, was a very rich merchant who died very young, before the Holy Prophet (PBUH) began calling people to Islam. He (RA) belonged to Banu Umayyah clan of Quraysh tribe, and at his 5th grandfather, his lineage meets with that of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He (RA) was six years younger to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in age. His titles include Ghani, Zun Noorain and Jame-ul-Quran. He (RA) was associated with the profession of trade and was an affluent person. When he (RA) converted to Islam, Quraysh reacted strongly because he was one of the prominent merchants of Hejaz.
He (RA) was also a literate person; that’s why he was appointed a scribe of the Holy Quran by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He (RA) had also memorized the Holy Quran. He (RA) is included in Ashra Mubashara i.e. the ten persons who were given the glad tiding of the paradise by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) during their life time.
Initial services for Islam and shining aspects of his pre-caliphate life
(1) Participation in two migrations: He (RA) migrated twice for the cause of Islam. First, during the 5th year of prophethood, he (RA) migrated to Abyssinia along with his wife Hazrat Rukkaya (RA) and second, he (RA) migrated to Madina Munawara.
(2) Zun-Noorain: He tied marital knot with two daughters of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) – first Hazrat Rukayya (RA) and after her demise, another daughter of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Hazrat Umm-e-Kulsoom (RA). On that account, he is called Zun-Noorain i.e. the possessor of two lights. In this regard, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “If I had 100 daughters, I would have married them to Usman (RA) after the death of one another.”
(3) Exemplary decency: Hazrat Usman (RA) had an impeccable character, decency and honour that were always appreciated by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Once, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was sitting in a gathering of companions when someone told him about the arrival of Hazrat Usman (RA). The Holy Prophet (PBUH) brought his clothes in proper position. When the companions inquired that why he (PBUH) was having so much respect for [Hazrat] Usman (RA), the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “Even the angels respect and admire the decency/honour of Usman (RA).”
(4) Deputy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH): On the occasion of Ghazwa Zat-ul-Raqa, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) appointed him as his Second/Deputy in Madina.
(5) Pledge of tree (Bait-e-Rizwan): In 6th AH, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) proceeded to Makkah along with 1400 companions to perform Umrah. When they reached near Makkah, they learnt that infidels of Makkah were preparing for a war. So, the Muslims encamped at a place named Hudaybia, and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) sent Hazrat Usman (RA) to negotiate with the Quraysh. When a few days passed and Hazrat Usman (RA) did not return, a rumour broke out that he (RA) had been martyred by the Quraysh. Upon this, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) took a pledge from Muslims to fight till death for avenging the murder of Hazrat Usman (RA). This pledge is called Bait-e-Rizwan i.e. pledge of good pleasure. It is also called Bait-ul-Shajara i.e. pledge of tree, as at the time of pledge, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was standing under a tree. In verse 18 of Surrah Fatah of the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty has mentioned that pledge in this way: