The battle of Uhud was fought in 625 C.E. It was really an extension of the battle of Badr. This time the Quraish of Makkah came with a force of 3,000 men to avenge their defeat at Badr. To meet them the Muslims could raise a force of 1,000 persons only., and even out of these three hundred persons under Abdullah b Ubayy a hypocrite withdrew at the last moment thus leaving seven hundred persons only in face the hostile Quraish.
The Holy Prophet arranged his force in battle array, and posted a contingent of archers to guard a vulnerable passage in the rear. The archers were instructed that they were not to leave their positions without further orders.
The Quraish charged with full force, but the Muslims held fast. Then in a counter attack the Muslims broke the enemy's line, and the Quraish fell back. At this stage the contingent of the Muslim archers left their positions in order to plunder the camp of the retreating Quraish. Khalid b Walid who was a non-Muslim at the time, and was fighting on the side of the Quraish rushed forward with his contingent, and occupied the positions vacated by the Muslim archers. That fumed the tide of the battle. The Quraish rallied, and launched an attack on the Muslims both from the front as well as the rear. In the confusion that followed many Muslims were martyred. Even the Holy Prophet was wounded, and he fell in a pit where many of his followers lay dead. That led to the rumor that the Holy Prophet was dead. At this critical stage some of the Muslims left the battlefield thinking that if the Holy Prophet was dead, everything was lost, and nothing was left to fight about. Uthman was one of the persons who left the battlefield.
This conduct of the Muslims who had left the battlefield was not approved by Allah. Allah, however, forgave them as their lapse was not deliberate and was based on misunderstanding. A revelation to the Holy Prophet said:
"Behold you were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a single glance at any one, and the Apostle in your rear was calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for the booty that had escaped you, and for the ill that had befallen you. For Alla1 is well aware of what you do".'
The revelation continued:
"Those who turned back on the day the two hosts met, it was Satan who caused them to fail, but Allah has blotted out their fault, for Allah is oft forgiving, mostforbearing".
Uthman felt sorry that at that crucial stage, he had lost the equilibrium of his mind, and his conduct had not been approved by Allah. He, however, felt consoled that Allah in His Mercy had forgiven him, and blotted out his lapse. When Uthman saw the Holy Prophet later, and expressed his regrets the Holy Prophet asked him to cheer up for Allah had forgiven him for his lapse. That made Uthman make the resolve that in other expeditions he would not lag behind.