Uthman, the first ruler of the Ummayad Caliphate, founded the royal Ummayad family, which was to rule Arabia for about 400 years, and maintain secular authority for another two hundred. His assassination in 653AD lead to a number of upheavals that his son, Al Wahdiq was easily able to control, making his name even more renowned than that of his father.


Uthman started life in 615AD as the son of a minor merchant in Medina. He was also a distant relative of the prophet Mohammed, which proved beneficial in 630 when Mohammed took Mecca. Travelling in Mohammed's train, Uthman took great delight in his work - and in his new religion, Islam. After travelling to Muscat in 638, Uthman established a profitable trade of incenses in the area, building up an enormous gold pile which he then used to buy his way into the elite of the country. By 640, Uthman was the richest man in the Islamic world, having established a family base of epic proportions. Mainly built up in native Medina, but also in Muscat - his commercial enterprise boomed.

Seizing power from the Rashidun Caliphate.

Despite victories over the Persians at the Battle of Qadisiya and Nehavend, the Rashidun Caliphate were making themselves unpopular by their failures against other enemies, notably Byzantium, the Kushans and the Khazars. In 650 the situation got too much for the Arab peoples, they rose up against the Rashidun and overthrew the feeble dynasty. Uthman's influence was instrumental to the whole exercise and, as a result - on top of the fact that he was the only realistic candidate - he was installed on the throne. Uthman proved to be a vigorous ruler; though he obtained few successes against external enemies he contained and crushed any sign of pro-Rashidun resistance. By November of 650 it was all over. Uthman was installed firmly on the Caliph's throne.

Reign and Assassination

Given time, Uthman intended to improve the economy of the Arab state, notably by deepening the roots of local enterprises, making stronger links - and eventually financial bonds - with the Byzantines and the Khazars, and concentrating the military on eliminating the Kushans. Unfortunately time was not given; Byzantium and Arabia did establish a few trading connections, but reactionaries did not like Uthman's slow approach. He was also unpopular with the sheikhs who had helped him into power as he did not agree with many of their caste policies. It was fairly well known that they sought to control him as a puppet. Uthman crushed further uprisings in 652 and 653, but on a sunny day of June 653 he was found dead in his bed. Assassins were blamed, rooted out and executed by Uthman's son Al Wahdiq. However, Al Wahdiq, though a successful ruler in his own time, failed to follow Uthman's economic policy, which could have made it the foremost state in the world. Instead, the Ummayad state bumped along as a relatively unimportant political entity - lacking the military muscle to do anything important. A man of Uthman's acumen was never again seen on the throne of the Ummayad Caliphs.

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