Heather N. Keaney, "'Uthman ibn 'Affan" (Oneworld Academic, 2020)


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Who is ‘Uthman ibn Affan, and why does he matter? Why was his election as the third successor to the Prophet Muhammad so controversial? In fact, why is he a controversial figure in Islamic history? Who killed him, and was his murder the fault of his own leadership and character flaws or was he a victim of the time and context he lived in, of the legacy he inherited from his predecessors? In her excellent new book, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan: Legend or Liability, published with OneWorld 2021. Heather Keaney sets out to explore answers to these questions by providing a historical overview of ‘Uthman’s life, leadership, and legacy. She investigates Muslim sources between the 8th and 14th centuries, Shi'i and Sunni. Keaney argues that Uthman as a historical figure is constructed by the biographies written about him, by a memory of him, and that these memories often result from polemical debates among Muslims.

In today’s discussion, we talk at length about Uthman in all of his complexity. We talk about who he is, why he matters, his caliphate and the controversies around how he became the caliph, some of the challenges he faced as a caliph, and complaints about his character and leadership, his accomplishments, his murder, his legacy.

Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She is currently working on a book project on Muslim women's marriage to non-Muslims in Islam. Shehnaz runs a YouTube channel called What the Patriarchy?! (WTP?!), where she vlogs about feminism and Islam in an effort to dismantle the patriarchy and uproot it from Islam (ambitious, she knows). She can be reached at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.

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