The Story Behind Hotel ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan'(RA) – A New Hotel being Built in Medina Al Munuwwarah.
When the early Muslims migrated to Madinah with the Prophet (SAW), they found the water there difficult to drink as they were accustomed to drinking the relatively sweeter Zamzam water in Makkah (Northerners, think of London water!). So they went to the Prophet and told him about their difficulty, and informed him of a well in the city by the name of Rumah whose water tasted a lot like Zamzam.
The problem, however, was that the owner of the well was a Jew and he insisted on charging, even for a handful of water. The Prophet had sent an offer for the well, a garden in paradise in exchange, however, the Jew refused and said he would only accept money.
When ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan came to learn of the incident, of the Prophet’s declaration of something better than the well in Paradise for whoever can secure it for the community, he went to the owner and placed an offer to buy the well. The owner declined, at which point ‘Uthman asked him to sell him half of it or rent the well: a day for Muslims and a day for him to sell to whoever he wishes. He agreed.
Subsequently, this resulted in everyone going to drink from the well on ‘Uthman’s day, leaving the owner with no customers! The owner felt at a loss and quickly rushed to ‘Uthman, “you have spoilt my well, now buy it off me”. ‘Uthman agreed and it was sold for 20 thousand dirhams, which he then assigned as endowment in Allah’s name (waqf lillah) for all Muslims to drink from.
Later on, one of the Companions came to ‘Uthman and offered to buy the well for double its price. ‘Uthman asked him to raise his offer. He proposed triple the price. ‘Uthman, again, asked him to raise the price until the buyer agreed to pay nine times the original price. With ‘Uthman still not consenting, the Companion, bemused, asked him, “who will offer you more than me?”. ‘Uthman responded, “Allah. He gave me ten times the one good deed.”
After ‘Uthman had left the well behind for Muslims as an endowment, date-palms started to grow around it. More recently, the Ottoman Empire attended to those palms and looked after them. When Madinah came into the hands of the Saudi government, it further attended to the date-palms and cultivated more of them until they reached around 1550 in number.
The Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, would sell the dates in markets and divide the proceeds into two: one half was distributed amongst orphans and the poor, the other half went in a special bank account in ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan’s name which the Ministry of Endowments oversee.
This carried on until the account had accumulated enough money to buy land in the central area next to the Prophet’s mosque and, through the bank account, construction of a grand hotel has began!
The building is in its final stages and is to be leased out to one of the major 5 star hotel companies. It is speculated to generate revenue in the region of 50 million riyals per annum, half of which will be distributed to orphans and the poor and the other half will be gathered in the bank account under ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan’s name. The land is also officially registered in the local municipality under the name of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. As they say, business with Allah is always profitable.