Was Muawiyah a bad ruler and Muslim

42 THE FIRST Caliph on which the Umar Mosque, which still exists today, was built much later. Many of these perhaps legendary details have been narrated in Arab-Christian narratives that emphasize that the greatest caliph of all respected the sanctity of the Church and the rights of Christians. Probably because of this campaign, Umar was nicknamed Fārūq, by which he was known for a time. This Aramaic, not Arabic, term means savior. Exactly what the early Muslims meant by this is not clear, but there are speculations that it was related to an eschatological discourse that saw the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem as a sign of the end of all days and the beginning of the Last Judgment. The exact meaning of the word has been irredeemably lost, but the epithet shows that the caliph left a deep impression on both Muslims and non-Muslims. Uthman and the First Crisis When Umar was dying, he took care of arranging his succession. The choice of Abu Bakr and Umar was, to say the least, informal. Basically, Umar and others had chosen muhādschirūn Abū Bakr, who in turn later nominated Umar. So there were no precedents that the Community could fall back on. However, according to Umar's will, a shūra, an advisory body, should elect the next head. He appointed six men, all of them Quraish. The ansār from Medina and the rest of the Muslims were excluded, but Alī, who was unable to vote in the election of Abū Bakr, was a member of the body. After a few deliberations, the schūra agreed on the old, respected merchant Uthmān, of course a Quraishi and one of the first followers of Muhammad. The leaders of the Muslim community dutifully swore allegiance to him. utHmān anD the First Crisis 43 Since then, the formation of the shūra for the election of the caliphs has found a profound echo in the political thought of Muslims. Here was a system that gave legitimacy to what had been an ad hoc approach until then. At the same time, this concept was extremely flexible and open to wide-ranging interpretations. The Arabic word shawara, from which shūra is derived, does not mean election in the democratic sense, but advice and advice. The shūra that Uthmān elected was the only open and properly constituted body in the history of the caliphate. However, the idea stayed alive and a source of inspiration for many over the centuries, as a certain amount of community involvement could give legitimacy to an often opaque and arbitrary process. In addition, this term was also used as a legitimizing explanation for electoral procedures that were anything but open. After all, no law stipulated how many members a shūra should include, that it should be in any way representative of the broader Muslim community, or that its deliberations should be held in public. It could be argued that a shūra with only one advisor, who was hurriedly and secretly consulted, was a valid and acceptable procedure for electing a new head according to the pattern laid down by Umar. The Shiites abhorred the idea of ​​the shūra, since by electing a head of the Muslims one presumed to be a task that belonged to God alone. Uthman has a mixed reputation among Muslim historians and commentators. The events under his reign are generally undisputed. According to the traditional portrayal, he had six successful years, but then he dropped the signet ring of the prophet into a well, which meant the end of his luck and good government. During this time, the further advance of Muslim troops into Iran and the death of the last Sassanid Shah Yazdegerd III. 651. After that, military expansion largely stalled (but resumed in the early 8th century), and revenues from spoils of war must have dried up. Among groups that felt the community's elite were becoming too rich and arrogant, dissatisfaction with Uthman's rule grew around this time. It culminated in active revolts in both Iraq and Egypt in 656. Armed groups from both areas made their way to Medina to enforce their demands by force. When they arrived in the capital, they found the old man practically defenseless as all the leading members of the Muslim elite, including Alī in particular, had left him. He was sitting alone in his house reading the Koran when he was murdered and his blood dripped on the pages of the open scriptures. The murder of Uthmān was a serious trauma for the early Islamic community that will continue into the 21st century. The events that led to his assassination can be viewed strictly historically. Uthman tried to administer a huge, recently created empire. Conquests had stalled, resources came under pressure, and many Muslims felt excluded and impoverished while seeing others thriving. Most obvious were the Quraish around the caliph, often young men who had no experience whatsoever in the hard struggles of the early days of Islam. Full of bitterness, the rich regions of Iran were referred to as the "Garden of the Quraish". Uthmān must have seen it differently. Given the task of administering a vast and increasingly chaotic caliphate, he relied on people he could rely on, on his family and tribal brothers of the Quraish and the Umayyad clan. His murder sparked uncomfortable debates. It was deeply shocking. The caliph elected by the congregation, a man who had supported the Prophet of God from the beginning of his ministry and had put all his resources at the service of Islam, a man whose piety and way of life could hardly be doubted, was killed by his own fellow believers been. How could this happen? The answer depended on the point of view. For the followers of Uthmān, from whom the Sunni tradition would emerge in later centuries, it was perfectly clear what was right and wrong: the caliph of God had been murdered by people who claimed to be Muslims, a crime against God and man at the same time. Even if Uthmān was not the most perfect ruler and perhaps could not compete with his predecessors Abū Bakr and Umar, Muslims had no right to rebel against him, let alone kill him. His blood had to be avenged and his murderers had to be punished. Others weren't so sure. Assuming that Uthmān had acted not like God's caliph but like a tyrannical pharaoh, usurped riches rightfully owned by pious, humble Muslims and given them to his friends and relatives, how should devout Muslims respond? There were two approaches to this question. One could simply accept the problem of things, but still argue that Muslims should not rebel against a properly established authority. After all, it was not always easy to see God's will, and perhaps Uthman, in spite of all his sins, served the plans of God, and it was up to him to do away with him or punish him if he saw fit. For others it was clear that Uthmān was unsuitable as the head of the community. He was so bad and deviated so far from the pious, just path that he could no longer be considered a suitable imam of the Muslims: it was the duty of pious, godly men to get rid of him, to punish him and, hopefully, to replace him with someone who was able to lead the church properly. The discussion about tyrannicide is as lively in Islam as it is in Western political debates. It is widely believed that the assassination of a ruler, however bad or inadequate, is always wrong because it will only lead to worse, namely fitna, the violence, division and destruction that endangers the lives of Muslims makes the proper practice of the true religion impossible. There was also the question of the Koran. Muslim tradition reports that the Archangel Gabriel revealed the Koran to Mohammed, who in turn passed it on orally to the Muslims because he could not read or write. As soon as it was revealed to the First Caliph, it was recorded in writing on materials readily available: papyrus, leather, palm leaves, and even sheep's shoulder blades. It was Uthmān who decided to compile this tradition into a book, the Koran as we know it today. Apparently, versions of the text were already in circulation, but the caliph ordered all of them to be destroyed in favor of the version he had authorized. Not everyone was happy with that. Some opposed the destruction of other versions because they might contain elements of divine revelation that have now been lost. Others felt that the caliph was exceeding its powers and that it did not have the authority to take this action. Still others argued that only the Prophet's family members could do this successfully. History was gracious with Uthmān's edition of the Scriptures; it is generally recognized by Sunnis, and with reservations also by Shiites, as the authentic record of the revelation. At that time, however, it apparently stirred up an opposition, which increased the general dissatisfaction with Uthman's reign. It was therefore symbolic that he was murdered while reading the scriptures. Uthmān's Koran became a sacred object, sealed with the blood of the caliph, who died a martyr, something that came as close to a legitimizing relic as Islamic tradition allowed. Later the Abbasid caliphs put the "Koran Uthmāns" on public display on festive occasions. We know that the Umayyads in Cordoba and their Almohad successors used the “Koran Uthmāns” and that there were editions in Cairo's libraries and in the collections of the Ottoman sultans (and caliphs) in the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. A splendid and certainly very old specimen, richly stained with alleged drops of blood from the caliph, is exhibited in Tashkent to this day with due pomp and serves the rulers of Uzbekistan as evidence of their - real or simulated - piety and devotion to Islam. alī and the end of righteous caliphs 47 alī and the end of righteous caliphs The assassination of Uthmān sparked a series of events which revealed the many different views on the nature of the caliphate and the electoral process. Initially, power passed to Alī. He and many others may think his time had come, but apparently there was no formal succession plan and certainly no shūra. This lack of a clear mandate was one of the factors that undermined his reign from the start. The first challenge came from the Quraysh elite. Of course, Alī also belonged to this tribe, but he was reluctant to recognize Abū Bakr. He also had a sizeable following among the ansār, to whom his political allegiance may have been. Converted to Islam at an early age, he had been close to the Prophet, but was by no means the only one who could claim this for himself. Although a quarter of a century had passed since Muhammad's death, there were others who claimed leadership in the community because of their position within the tribe and their early commitment to Islam. Among them was Zubair ibn al-Awwām, a prominent Quraish who had emigrated to Ethiopia with a small group of Muslims to avoid the persecution that Mohammed and his followers suffered in Mecca before the hijra to Medina in 622. After he returned and joined the Muslim community in Medina, he was called by Umar as one of the six prominent Muslims in the shūra chosen by Uthmān. He and one of his companions, who had a very similar background, Talha ibn Ubaid Allaah, were against Alī's appointment as caliph and decided to take action against it. Aisha, the Prophet's wife, whom some referred to as his favorite wife, joined them as the third. Presumably she was driven by a long-standing antipathy towards Alī, and she was Abū Bakr's daughter; she knew Zubair and Talha well and naturally tended to the Quraysh.