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This article studies how the ʿUthmānī position endorsing the first three caliphs, which was embraced by the majority of the ahl al-ḥadīth in the first two centuries of Islam, came to be replaced by the four-caliph thesis. It examines variations in the narrations of different chains of transmission of Ibn ʿUmar’s tradition in relation to the geographical affiliation and movements of the transmitters active in the late eighth and early ninth centuries. The analysis suggests that Ibn ʿUmar’s tradition was present in two versions at the turn of the ninth century, circulated in Iraqi cities and non-Iraqi cities respectively. Through its investigation, this study substantiates the current narrative on early ahl al-ḥadīth attitudes toward the first four caliphs and offers more insights that help explain why the ʿUthmānī hadith narrators failed to perpetuate their ideas.