In his book A History of Medieval Islam, J. J. Saunders observes as follows: "His moral qualities were respectfully recognized. He was a brave fighter, an eloquent orator, and a loyal friend. Many sayings of his are quoted to prove his mastery of proverbial wisdom, a gift highly honored among the Semites. He displayed towards his foes a patience and magnanimity expressive of a humane and generous disposition. His religion was founded on a genuine piety. He was shocked by the growing luxury and corruption of the age, and to his many doubts whether Othman was an upholder or a violator of the law may be attributed the hesitating and ambiguous attitude he adopted towards the regicides, which proved so fatal to his rule and reputation. As his temper was indolent, he drifted rather than led. He was easily outmatched by the astute and the forceful, and he lacked the commanding personality to impose his will on a turbulent society. His authority was challenged by the politic shrewdness of Muawiyah, and the furious zealotry of the Kharijites, his inability to overcome either delivered Islam to schism and grave believers were driven to see in a reunion of the empire under the Umayyads the only escape from tribal and sectarian anarchy. Yet he has been raised by a powerful sect little below that of Muhammad himself, the Shia or party of Ali laid it down as an article of faith that he was designated by God and the Prophet to be the lawful Caliph and Imam of Islam, his three predecessors being treated as usurpers, and that divine revelation continued to be interpreted by his descendants, and his supposed grave at Najaf, a sand hill on the edge of the desert six miles west of Kufa, is annually visited by thousands of devout pilgrims who curse his supplanters and rever him as the friend of God and the first of Imams".