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Uthmān ibn ‘Affān (Arabic: عثمان بن عفان) (c 580 - July 17, 656) a son-law of Muhammad, is the third Caliph  of Islam. He is regarded by Sunni Muslims as the third of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs of Islam.  However, Shia Muslims believe Ali was the first legitimate ruler after Muhammad, and disregard the rule of the first three Caliphs, including Uthman.

Following the assassination of Umar in 644, a six-member committee appointed by him to choose as caliph selected Uthman b. Affan (644-656), a member of the prestigious Umayyad clan. During Umar's reign, grievances stifled under Umar's heavy-handed rule came to the fore. Among the members of the opposition was Ali b. Abi Talib, another  son-in-law of Muhammad, Ali became the fourth caliph after Uthman's assassination.

Uthman attempted to maintain the integrity of the empire by appointing members of his own clan, the Umayyads, to governorships; the governorship of his kinsman Muawiya was enlarged to include all Syria and northern Iraq. This led to the charge of nepotism by Uthman's enemies. Secondly, his wars of conquest were not sufficiently lucrative in terms of booty to maintain hic court, forcing a reduction in salaries of soldiers, creating more discontent. Uthman also aroused angry by  authorizing an official version of the Quran, burning all other copies. Uthman was unable to maintain discipline and stability. A revolt broke out in Egypt. He was overthrown and murdered in 656, and succeeded by Ali.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Othman

Further Information: See History of Islam and the Arabs Islam

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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