Dying Umar appointed six electors to appoint his successor. They were Ali, Usman, Abdur Rehman bin Auf, Zubayr, Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas, and Talha. Umar had also elected his son Abdullah bin Umar in his list of electors, but he could not claim succession and would only use his vote when there was a tie.
Each one of them pressed their claim vigorously, but to no avail. Stale-mate was reached, but it was clear the successor would be Ali (Hashimid) or Usman (Umayyad).
On seeing the situation, Abdur Rehman decided to withdraw himself and asked electors to be their umpire. He was readily accepted by Ali and Usman.
Abdur Rehman went around Madinah asking close companions and common people about their choice of leader. He did this for 3 to 4 days and was after all convinced that people favored Usman.
After asking everyone that his decision will be accepted, he announced Usman’s name. Ali hesitated first but gave his oath of allegiance when he was reminded by Abdur Rehman of his acceptance.
Usman’s election caused the first great controversy of early Islam, creating dissension and disunity, schism and sedition during subsequent ages of Islamic history.
Why People Favored Usman?
There are several reasons provided by historians, few of the credible ones are:
- As we discussed earlier, Arabs preferred someone of old age to be their chief. This was the case when they were led by their tribal chief. The beliefs had been carried over.
- Usman was of a mild character. Umar was believed to be a stern man. Madinah may have wanted someone very easy after Umar’s rule.
- Usman had been married to two of the Prophet’s daughter. He was, thus, called “Dhu’l-Nu’yan.”
For complete Islamic history notes click here.