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Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab Family
The exact date of the birth of Umar is not known. The concensus of opinion, however, is that Umar was born at Mecca around 580 A.D He was younger than the Holy Prophet of Islam by about ten years.
Umar belonged to the Adi clan of the Quraish. It was one of the ten clans of the Quraish who inhabited Mecca.
The pedigree of Umar was: Umar the son of Khattab; the son of Nufail; the son of Abul Uzza; the son of Riza; the son of Ribah; the son of Qurat; the son of Adi; the son of Katb.
The pedigree of the Holy Prophet was: Muhammad (peace be on him) the son of Abdullah; the son of Abdul Muttalib; the son of Hashim; the son of Abd Munaf; the son of Qussay; the son of Kulab; the son of Ka'b.
In the case of Abu Bakr and the Holy Prophet, Murrah in the eighth degree was their common ancestor. In the case of the Holy Prophet and Umar, Ka'b in the ninth degree was their common ancestor.
Among Umar's ancestors, Adi rose to prominence as a diplomat, and the clan came to be known after him. Whenever the Quraish of the day had to negotiate any settlement with any other tribe, Adi represented the interests of the Quraish as an ambassador. Even in the case of disputes among the Quraish themselves, Adi acted as the arbitrator. After the death of Adi the two offices of diplomatic representation and arbitration became hereditary in his descendants.
Umar's grandfather Nufail arbitrated in a dispute between Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of the Holy Prophet and Harab bin Umayyah over the custodianship of the Ka'bah. Nufail gave his verdict in favour of Abdul Muttalib. Addressing Harab bin Umayyah he said:
"Why do you pick a quarrel with a person who is taller than you in stature; more imposing than you in appearance; more refined than you in intellect; whose progeny outnumbers yours and whose generosity outshines yours in lustre? Do not, however, construe this into any disparagement of your good qualities which I highly appreciate. You are as gentle as a lamb, you are renowned throughout Arabia for the stentorian tones of your voice, and you are an asset to your tribe."
This address is indicative of Nufail's skill in diplomacy and his highly developed sense of judgment.
Khattab the father of Umar was among the prominent members of the Banu Adis. The Banu Adis had some feuds with Banu Abdul Shams. The Banu Abdul Shams were stronger in power and position, and the Banu Adis as a safety measure had to seek alliance with some other clan. They allied themselves with Ranu Shams. On this alliance, Khattab composed the following verses:
"How can Abdul Shams still threaten us,
When other men of mettle espouse our cause?
In the halls of Banu Shams there are mighty warriors,
Whose hospitality and protection we enjoy."
The house in which Umar was born in Mecca was situated midway between Safa and Marwah. During the period of his caliphate, Umar had the house dismantled, and the site was turned into a camping ground.
Umar's mother was Khantamah who was the daughter of Hisham bin al-Mughirah. Al-Mughirah was a personage of high rank among the Quraish. In the event of war he marshalled the Quraish troops and led them to war. Hisham the maternal grandfather of Umar and al-Walid the father of the renowned General Khalid were brothers. Khalid was thus a cousin of Umar s mother and his maternal uncle.
Abu Jahl whose personal name was Amr bin Hisham bir al-Mughirah was a brother of Umar's mother, and his maternal uncle. One of the sisters of Umar's mother, Umm Salma was married to the Holy Prophet of Islam.
Umar had several brothers and sisters. The most well known out of these were: Zaid and Fatima. Zaid and Umar were step brothers, their mothers being different. Nevertheless the two brothers were devoted to each other. When Zaid was later martyred at the battle of Yamama during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umar was highly grieved. He used to say, "Whenever the wind blows from Yamama, it brings me the fragrance of Zaid."
Fatima was the real sister of Umar. She was married to her cousin Saeed bin Zaid bin Amr. She played an important role in the conversion of Umar to Islam.
Amr, a brother of Khattab was a paternal uncle of Umar. Zaid the son of Amr, and a cousin of Umar was among the distinguished persons of the Quraish, who before the advent of Islam gave up idolatry, and came to believe in the unity of God. Zaid was a poet. One of his poems reads:
"I believe in one God,
I cannot believe in a thousand gods.
I ignore the idols of Lat and Uzza,
A wise and cautious man can do no more."
Khattab the father of Umar persecuted Zaid for his religious beliefs. Zaid died before the Holy Prophet of Islam announced his prophetic mission. When the Holy Prophet proclaimed his prophethood, Saeed the son of Zaid who had married Umar's sister Fatima, was among the early converts to Islam.
Hadart Umar In The Days Of Ignorance
No account is preserved about the early life of Umar during the days of ignorance. Umar belonged to an ordinary family of average means and there was nothing conspicuous about Umar or his family during the days of ignorance to be recorded or chronicled. We can merely pick up stray accounts here and there, and try to weave them into a readable narrative.
It appears that Umar grew up as a typical Arab-a tall young man with a fine physique and impressive personality. When he was a child his father put him to the task of grazing camels. Khattab was a hard taskmaster, and Umar often recalled how his father belaboured him mercilessly whenever there was a lapse on his part. Umar also recalled that when he was a child he used to graze the flocks of goats and sheep of his maternal aunts who doled out pittance to him in the shape of dates.
As a child, Umar used to graze the animals under his charge in the grazing ground Dajnan, about ten miles from Mecca. When Umar became the Khalifa, he happened to pass through Dajnan. Turning to his companions he said:
"Gracious heavens! There was a time when I used to roam about this desert as a camel-herd, wearing a felt jacket, and whenever I sat down tired my father beat me. Now the times have changed. There is now none save God as my superior."
Among the Quraish of those days, reading and writing was not in vogue. In spite of that Umar received education in reading and writing. It is related that among the Quraish of Mecca only seventeen persons could read and write, and Umar was one of them. That has to be acknowledged as a great attainment.
Umar's father was an authority in tracing genealogies. Under the guidance of his father, Umar also acquired matchless skill in the matter of the study of pedigrees.
Umar knew intimately as to who was who among the Quraish. He was also well versed in the knowledge of the history of Arabia.
Umar was blessed with a strong physique. He could undergo great rigours. He could travel on foot for miles. He was an athlete and a wrestler. He participated in the wrestling matches on the occasion of the annual fair at Ukaz, and he won in most of such matches. From the accounts that have come down to us it appears that Umar had attained perfection in the art of wrestling.
Some first hand descriptions of the physical appearance of Umar have come down to us. Ibn Saad and al-Hakim have recorded a description of Umar as Abu Miriam Zir, a native of Kufa described him. Zir said:
"I went forth with the people of Madina on a festival day, and I saw Umar walking barefoot. He was advanced in years, bald, of a tawny colour-a left handed man, tall, and towering above the people."
Ibn Umar described the physical appearance of Umar as follows:
"He was a man of fair complexion, a ruddy tint prevailing, tall, bald and grey."
Ubayd bin Umayr described Umar as follows:
" Umar used to overtop the people in height."
Salima bin al-Akwa'a said about him:
" Umar was ambidexter; he could use both his hands equally well."
Ibn Asakir records on tile authority of Abu Raja al-U'taridi that:
"Umar was a man tall, stout, very bald, very ruddy with scanty hair on the cheeks, his moustaches large, and the ends thereof reddish."
Umar was a skillful rider. He could successfully manage even the wildest of horses he would literally jump on the back of the horse, and sit with such ease and steadiness that he appeared to be a part and parcel of the horse he rode.
He was very intelligent and shrewd. He was a good public speaker. He was gifted with an uncommon degree ot tact and judgment, and on several occasions he successfully undertook ambassadorial missions on behalf of the Quraish.
By all accounts he was self-respecting, broad-minded and sincere. He was a man of strong convictions, a good friend, and a bad enemy. Like the rugged hills around him, he was harsh and stern, violent in temper, but very good of heart. He was always prepared to stand up against the oppressor and espouse the cause of the weak.
He followed the profession of a trader. He undertook journeys to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere for the purposes of trade. He was a successful trader, and he made good money as a result of these commercial journeys. When Umar migrated from Mecca, according to his own account, he was one of the richest Quraish merchants.
In his books, Akhbar-ul-Zaman, and Kitab-ul-Ausat the celebrated historian Masudi is understood to have related the incidents of the travels of Umar Masudi states that Umar paid visits to several Arabian and Persian princes. These books of Masudi have, however, been lost, and the details of these journeys are no longer available to us.
Before his conversion to Islam, Umar had three wives His first wife was Qariba bint Abi Umayya al-Makhzumi. She belonged to the same clan as the mother of Umar. She was one of the most beautiful women of Mecca of the day. His second wife was Zainab bint Maziun. She was the sister of Usman bint Maz'un an early companion for whom the Holy Prophet had great regard. She was the mother of Abdullah and Hafsa. His third wife was Malaika bint Jarul al-Khuzai. She was also called Umm Kulsum.
Hadart Umar And Islam
When the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) proclaimed his apostlehood, the reaction among the Quraish was violent. Umar, a young man of strong convictions, held the new faith to be a sacrilege of the idols of Katbah. Young, well-built, and fiery-tempered as he was, Umar was in tile forefront in opposition to Islam.
Some accounts have come down to us showing Umar's attitude to Islam in the days before his conversion. Umar has related that in the days of ignorance he was one day standing by an idol with a number of Quraish when an Arab sacrificed a calf. From the belly of the calf the following cry was heard:
"O blood red one,
The deed is done.
A man will cry
Besides God, none."
This corroborated what the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) said. Umar, however, dismissed the cry as sheer hallucination.
It is on record that along with some Arabs Umar went to a soothsayer, and asked him to look into the matter of Muhammad (peace be on him) who had proclaimed a new faith. The soothsayer looked to the beaven for a long time. Then he leapt and said:
"O men, God has honoured and chosen Muhammad,
Purified his heart and bowels.
His stay, among you,
O men will be short."
Umar cursed the soothsayer and returned home very cross and upset.
Lubna, a maid servant of Umar, accepted Islam. When Umar came to know of her conversion, he beat her violently and asked her to retract. She said that he might kill her, but she would not leave Islam. Thereafter it became the wont of Umar that he would beat her every day and would stop beating till he himself felt exhausted. In spite of that, the slave girl remained steadfast.
Umm Abdullah bint Khatamah, a lady related to Umar, also accepted Islam. Umar was very furious at her conversion. As she along with her husband Amar bin Rabiah and other early converts decided to migrate to Abyssinia, Umar felt moved. He visited her and said, "Umm Abdullah are you going?" She said, By God, you have made our living in Mecca very difficult. There is no option with us but to migrate elsewhere." Inadvertently Umar said, 'Umm Abdullah, may God protect you; go in peace." At that time Umm Abdullah felt that in spite of Umar's opposition to Islam, he would one day accept the new faith.
We have it on the authority of Umar himself that one day he came across the Holy Prophet in the Ka'bah. The Holy Prophet was reciting verses from the Holy Quran and as Umar listened to these verses he felt that it was the work of some poet. Then the Holy Prophet recited, "This is the revealed word of God; it's not the work of any poet. Yet you people do not believe". Thereupon Umar felt that if this was not the work of any poet it would be the work of a soothsayer. Thereupon the Holy Prophet recited the verses, "And this is not the word of any soothsayer; it is divine word communicated through Gabriel." Hearing these verses Umar stood transfixed for some time. In his heart of hearts he thought that perhaps truth lay with Muhammad (peace be on him).
Umar, however, dismissed these feelings and soon he was his former self very hostile to Islam. He went to the Quraish and participated in their counsels. They felt concerned that the venom of the new faith was spreading and the only remedy was that Muhammad (peace be on him) should be killed. All present at the meeting agreed that Muhammad (peace be on him) should be killed. Then the meeting invited volunteers who would kill the Prophet. Umar volunteered to kill the Prophet, and vindicate the faith of their forefathers.
One hot sultry day in the year A.D. 616, Umar buckled his sword and set out to kill the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). In the way, Umar met Nuaim bin Abduilah. He was a friend of Umar. He had been converted to Islam, but Umar did not know of that.
Noticing the dark frowns on his face, Nuaim asked Umar what he was up to. Umar said that he was going to slay Muhammad (peace be on him), and thus vindicate the gods of Ka'bah. Nuaim said! "Beware if you harm Muhammad (peace be on him) you will not be safe from the fury of Banu Hashim. Desist from such a course in your own interest". Umar ejaculated angrily: "It appears you have also become a Muslim." Nuaim said, "Umar, do not bother about me, but take care of your sister and brother-in-law who have been converted to Islam, and who may be reading the Quran at this very moment."
That made Umar pause. Instead of going to the Holy Prophet, he went to the house of his sister. His sister was Fatima and her husband was Saeed bin Zaid. Umar loved his sister. He had never thought that his brother-in-law or his sister would have the audacity to accept Islam. This was news to him. He could not believe it, but he thought it advisable to verify the facts.
As Umar stepped into the house of his sister, he found that both Fatima and her husband were reading the Quran from a leaf. Seeing Umar, his sister hid the leaf. Fatima rose to welcome her brother with a smile. But there was a dark frown on the face of Umar. "What were you reading", he thundered. "Nothing", replied Fatima.
Umar caught his brother-in-law by the throat and said, "So you have apostasised from the faith of your forefathers". Saeed retorted, "Rather we have abandoned falsehood for truth." Thereupon Umar was about to strike Saeed when Fatima intervened saying, "Hands off from my husband. If ypu have anything to say, say it to me, but do not touch my husband." Umar asked, "Is it a fact that you have become Muslims." She replied, "Yes. we have become Muslims. You may kill us if you like, but we will not waver in our faith".
Umar stayed his hands and desired that the leaf from which they had been reading should be shown to him. Fatima said that he could not touch the sacred leaf until he had washed his hands. Umar washed his hands, and the sacred leaf was handed over to him. It was the Sura Ta Ha. It read:
We have not sent the Qur'an to thee,
To be an occasion for thy distress,
But only as an admonition to those who fear God.
A revelation from Him,
Who created the earth and the heavens on high.
God most gracious,
Is firmly established on the throne of authority.
To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth,
And all between them and all beneath the soil.
If thou pronounce the word aloud, it's no matter
For verily He knoweth what is secret
And what is yet hidden.
Verily there is no god but He
To Him belongs the most beautiful names." (20: 1-8)
As Umar read the verses over and over again, he felt as if these verses were addressed to him in person, and the mysterious Ta Ha referred to Umar-the Man. Umar shuddered with the fear of God, and he felt as if his conscience was upbraiding him, "Umar, how long would you stay away from the path of truth. Has not the time come for you to follow the truth?"
And then Umar resolved that he would lose no time in following the truth. Turning to his sister and brother-in-law he said, "I came to you as an enemy of Islam; I go from you as a friend of Islam. I had buckled this sword to slay the Prophet of Islam; I now go to him to offer him allegiance."
Fatima and Saeed cried "Allah o-Akbar".
The episode has been dramatised by Allama Iqbal in his poem "Secrets of the Self". He has exhorted the Muslim women to be like the sister of Umar. He says:
"O Muslim women;
Out of the evening create a new dazzling morn.
To the true lovers of God,
Recite the Holy Qur'an
And enthusiastically translate
Its spirit into action
Don't vou know that such recitation
Changed altogether Umar's fate."
From the house of his sister, Umar proceeded to the house of Arqam at the foot of the Safa hill, where the Holy Prophet was lodged.
Umar knocked at the door of the house of Arqam.
"Who comes", enquired the guard.
"Umar bin al-Khattab". said Umar.
As the guard peeped through the door he saw that Umar had buckled his sword. The guard therefore hesitated to open the door.
Hamza said to the guard, "Open the door; if he comes in peace he will be welcome. If he is bent on mischief, we are enough to overpower him".
Umar was admitted. Hamza caught him by the hem of his cloak and said, "Umar, what brings you here?" The Muslims with drawn swords surrounded Umar, so that he could be overpowered if he showed any signs of violence.
Hearing the noise, the Holy Prophet came out of his cell. Addressing Hamza the Holy Prophet said, "Leave him Let him come forward".
As Umar stepped forward the Holy Prophet said Umar, how long will you stray from the path of Islam. Has the time not come for you to see the truth?"
Umar said, "Verily the time has come for me to see the truth. I have come to profess my faith in Islam".
The Holy Prophet stretched his hand. Umar held the hand with reverence and said, "I declare that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God".
In joy the Muslims shouted "Allah-o-Akbar". The Holy Prophet embraced Umar. The other Muslims embraced Umar one by one. Umar was the fortieth person to become a Muslim.
That day even Gabriel congratulated the Holy Prophet on the conversion of Umar. Gabriel said: "O Prophet of God, the dwellers in Heaven rejoice at the conversion of Umar and offer you their congratulations". Intoxicated with the joy of having become a Muslim, Umar proceeded to various parts of Mecca to announce that he had become a Muslim. He first went to the house of his maternal uncle Abu Jahl. He knocked at the door of the house of Abu Jahl.
"Who comes", asked Abu Jahl.
"It's Umar", said Umar. Abu Jahl opened the door and said,
"Welcome nephew". Umar said,
"Uncle do you know, I have become a Muslim." Abu Jahl said,
"Do not talk like that. I know that a man of your views can never become a Muslim". Umar said,
"No, uncle it is a fact that I have become a Muslim." Abu Jahl thereupon said,
"If what you say is true then be ****ed". Saying this Abu Jahl shut the door in the face of Umar.
Thereafter Umar went to see some other Quraish chiefs. He told them of his conversion to Islam. Like Abu Jahl they ****ed him and shut the doors of their houses against him.
Then Umar proceeded to the Ka'bah. There he saw Jamil bin Ma'mar al-Jamahi who enjoyed reputation for spreading reports in Mecca. Umar told him that he had accepted Islam. Jamil rose from his feet, and cried at the top of his voice:
"O ye Quraish, know that Umar bin al Khattab has been converted to Islam, and apostatised from the faith of his forefathers. "
On hearing this some Quraish youth gathered at the Ka'bah. Umar said,
"What Jamil said is not correct. I have not apostatised: I have seen the truth and accepted Islam". Thereupon the Quraish youth rushed at Umar with a view to beating him. A Shaikh dressed in Yemeni robes Al-Aas bin Wail passed that way, and enquired what was the matter. The Quraish said that Umar had apostatised, and they wanted to punish him for straying from the faith of his forefathers. The Shaikh said,
"A man should be free to choose whatever religion he iikes. Why beat him for that?" Abu Jahl also happened to come that way. Seeing the Quraish, he said,
"I offer protection to my nephew". Umar said,
"Uncle, I do not need your protection. For me the protection of God and the Holy Prophet is enough".
Then Umar went to the Holy Prophet and told him that he had publicly announced his conversion. Heretofore those who were converted to Islam kept their conversion to Islam secret for fear of the oppression of the Quraish. They also prayed in secret. Umar submitted to the Holy Prophet:
"O Messenger of God are we not in the truth?". The Holy Prophet said,
"Why not, we are verily in the truth".
"Then why should we not pray in the public? Has not the time come for us to declare our faith publicly?" said Umar. Umar tried to prevail on the Holy Prophet that the truth of Islam should become manifest. The Holy Prophet agreed with Umar.
The following day all the Muslims emerged from the house of Arqam and proceeded to the Holy Ka'bah, in two lines, one led by Umar, and the other by Hamza. At the Ka'bah the Muslims prayed openly. The Quraish watched the Muslims pray and said, "Verily by the conversion of Umar to Islam, the Muslims have taken the revenge from the Quraish".
After the Muslims had prayed in the Ka'bah, the Holy Prophet conferred on Umar the title of "Al-Faruq," for on that day through the efforts of Umar, the truth of Islam had become manifest.
Migration From Mecca
In A.D. 622, the Holy Prophet decided that the Muslims should migrate from Mecca to Madina. The Muslims were required to proceed to Madina in batches.
Abu Salmah Abdullah bin Ashhal was the first Muslim to migrate from Mecca to Madina. He was followed by Bilal and Ammar Yasir. Thereafter Umar migrated from Mecca. While most of the other Muslims left Mecca in secret, Umar publicly declared that he was proceeding to Madina. He even challenged the Quraish that if any one of them had the courage to stop him from going to Madina, he was welcome to try his strength with hin. No Quraish of Mecca could have the courage to prevent the migration of Umar, and no one accepted the challenge to measure strength with him.
According to Ibn Asakir, Ali commented on the migration of Umar in the following terms:
I never knew any one migrate unless secretly except Umar, for he, when he resolved on migration, girt on his sword and slung over his bow and grasped in his hand its arrows, and went to the Ka'bah where in its quadrangle were the chiefs of the Quraish, and he went round about it seven times, then prayed two raka'ts at the station of Abraham, and went to each, one by one, in their circle and said, "May the face be foul of such as desire that his mother be bereaved of him and his child be left an orphan and his wife a widow, and if there be such a one, let him meet me behind this valley, but no one followed him.
In Sahih Bukhari it is stated that some twenty Muslims accompanied Umar on the occasion of his migration from Mecca. His companions included Zaid bin Khattab the brother of Umar; Said bin Zaid, the nephew of Umar and Khunais bin Hudhaifah the son-in-law of Umar (the husband of Hafsa). Other persons who accompanied Umar included: Amr b Suraqah; Abdullah b Suraqah; Waqid b Abdullah Tamimi; Khaula b Abi Khaula; Malik b Abi Khallla; Ayas b Bukair; Aqil b Bukair; Amir b Bukair and Khalid b Bukair.
Ayyash b Abu Rabiah al- Makhzumi and Hisham b Al-Aas b Wail al-Sahmi also decided to migrate with Umar. They made an appointment to meet at the thorn tree of Adat of Banu Ghifar about ten miles from Mecca. It was decided that if any one of them failed to turn up at the appointed place by sunrise on the day of departure fixed before hand it would be construed that he was not coming and had been held back by force.
Umar with his companions and Ayyash arrived at the appointed meeting place according to schedule. Hisham did not turn up and was held back by the Quraish.
The party arrived at Quba on the outskirts of Madina and there they stayed with Banu Amr bin Auf.
One day Abu Jahl and al-Harith rode to Quba and contacted Ayyash who was their cousin. They told Ayyash that his mother had vowed that she would not comb her hair, nor take shelter from the sun until she saw Ayyash.
Umar told Ayyash that this was nothing but an attempt to seduce him from his religion. Umar added that if the lice disturbed his mother she would of her own accord comb her hair, and if the heat of Mecca oppressed her, she would herself take shelter.
But Ayyash felt inclined to go. He said:
"I may go for a short while. I will clear my mother of her vow. I have also some money to recover from the people in Mecca which I would like to get."
"I am one of the richest of the Quraish and if you do not go with them, you may have one half of my money."
Ayyash, however, persisted in his wish to go to Mecca once .
Thereupon Umar said:
"If you must go, then take this camel of mine. She is well bred and easy to ride. Don't dismount, and if at any stage you suspect them of treachery, you may well escape on this camel. Then Ayyash left for Mecca on the camel of Umar. After they had proceeded some distance, Jahl said to Ayyash:
"I find my beast hard to ride. Will you not mount me behind you ?"
Ayyash agreed, and when they made their camels kneel to make the change over, Abu Jahl and al-Harith fell on Ayyash and bound him securely. They brought him to Mecca bound and said:
"O men of Mecca deal with your fools as we have dealt with this fool of ours".
When the Holy Prophet came to know how Hisham had been held back and how Ayyash had been abducted, he said:
"Who will bring me Ayyash and Hisham?"
Al-Walid b al-Mughira volunteered to undertake the mission. Al-Walid rode to Mecca and there he came to know that Hisham and Ayyash were kept in custody in a house which had no roof. One night al-Walid climbed the wall and contacted the prisoners who were in fetters. Al-Walid cut the fetters with the strokes of his sword. Then al-Walid led Ayyash and Hisham to Medina.
Early Days In Madina
Having arrived in the neighbourhood of Madina, Umar and his party chose to stay at Quba, a suburb of Madina. Umar had about twenty persons with him including his brother Zaid, Khunais bin Hudaifah his son-in-law; Waqid bin Abdullah al Tamimi, and Ayyash. At Quba Umar and his party were the guests of Rifa'a bin Abdul Mundhir of Banu Amr. Umar and his party were accommodated in a few independent houses where they were lodged comfortably. There was already a mosque at Quba and here Umar prayed at the appointed hours.
At Quba all the Muslims waited eagerly for the Holy Prophet to come. Parties of men would go out for some distance on the route to Mecca and there wait for the Prophet to come. Several days passed away and the Holy Prophet did not come. Umar felt uneasy and he thought of going to Mecca to ascertain why the Holy Prophet was late in coming.
Then one noon the Holy Prophet accompanied by Abu Bakr arrived at Quba. As they arrived the people crowded round them. As the people had not seen the Holy Prophet before, it was difficult for them to know as to who out of the two was the Holy Prophet. Seeing this predicament of the people, Abu Bakr stood up and shielded the Holy Prophet with his mantle. Umar arrived at the spot and rushed to meet the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet embraced Umar and the chiefs of Quba who had come to we come him.
The Holy Prophet stayed at Quba for a few days and led the prayers in the mosque. Then the Holy Prophet proceeded to Madina. Umar followed in the train of the Holy Prophet. At Madina the Holy Prophet and the emigrants from Mecca were given a royal reception. The maidens of Madina mounted the roof tops of their houses and sang:
The full-moon has arisen on us
From the Thaniyat il-Wada'.
Thanksgiving is incumbent on us
So long as an invoker may invoke God.
O thou Divinely sent among us,
Thou hast brought a commandment that shall be obeyed!
The world of Madina was quite different from the world of Mecca. At Mecca the Muslims weere a persecuted people; at Madina they were the masters of their destiny. The life at Madina was a complete break with the past. The days of trials, tribulations and torture were over; they were now set on the path of fulfilment. They were now to build a new commonwealth and a new ideal society.
At Madina, the Holy Prophet had a mosque built. The Holy Prophet himself participated in the construction of the mosque Umar used to go every day from Quba to Madina to participate in the construction of the mosque. As the Muslims laboured they chanted:
"There is no life but the life of the next world,
O God have mercy on the Mohajreen and the Ansar."
To rehabilitate the emigrants from Mecca in the society of Madina the Holy Prophet established a fraternity among the Muslims of Mecca and those of Madina whereunder each migrant was paired with an Ansar of the corresponding status. The brotherhood thus established was unique in the annals of mankind. So strong and cordial were these bonds that these even surpassed the relationship of blood. In this roll of brotherhood, Umar was paired with Itban bin Malik of Banu Al-Khazraj.
The climate of Mecca was dry, but the climate of Madina was damp. The change adversely affected the health of the emigrants. On arrival at Madina most of the emigrants fell sick, Umar was blessed with robust constitution, and he was one of the few emigrants who did not suffer due to the change in climate.
In Mecca Umar was a trader. He had brought ample amount with him from Mecca. In Madina he started business afresh. He had his store at Quba and from there goods were supplied to the market at Madina. No details about the business of Umar are available. Umar was a shrewd businessman, and we have reasons to hold that his business flourished at Madina as it did at Mecca. After attending to business, Umar spent his spare time in the company of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet consulted Abu Bakr and Umar on all important matters. When Abu Bakr and Umar held different views on a matter, the Holy Prophet took both the views into consideration before taking his decision. When Abu Bakr and Umar agreed on a point that view was invariably accepted by the Holy Prophet.
We have it on the authority of Abdur Rahman-bin-Ghanam that the Holy Prophet said to Abu Bakr and Umar that "if you two are agreed upon a counsel, I would not oppose you". (Suyuti 'History of the Caliphs').
Life in Madina and Early Battles The Call To Prayer
When the Holy Prophet was settled in Madina, some basic reforms were introduced. These included the institution of prayer, the levy of alms tax, the ordaining of fasting, the prescription of punishments; and the specification of the lawful and the unlawful.
In the early days the practice was that the faithful gathered in the mosque for prayer at the appointed time of their own accord without being summoned. The Holy Prophet, however, felt that with the spread of Islam, and the growth in the number of the Muslims, some method for the summoning of the faithful to prayer would have to be adopted.
At first the Holy Prophet thought of using a trumpet to summon the Muslims to prayer as the Jews did. On second thoughts he felt that it would not be advisable to imitate the Jews. Then an idea occurred to him that a clapper should be beaten to summon the faithful to the mosque.
One night a companion Abdullah bin Zaid had a dream which indicated the way for the summoning of the Muslims to prayers Abdullah came to the Holy Prophet and narrated his dream in the following terms:
"In the dream I saw a holy man wearing green garments. He held a clapper in his hand. I asked him to sell the clapper to me. He asked what for I needed the clapper, and I told him that I needed it for summoning the Muslims to prayer. He said that the clapper would not sere the purpose. I then asked him as to what method should be adopted, and he said 'Let some one with a loud voice stand at a suitable place in the mosque, and give the call 'God is great. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. Come to prayer."
The idea appealed to the Holy Prophet. When it was the time for prayer, the Holy Prophet summoned Bilal and asked him to give the call to prayer, in the terms of the formula indicated by Abdullah bin Zaid.
As the stentorian call resounded in the city of Madina, the faithful felt elated and electrified, and they rushed to the mosque in response to the summons. Umar heard the call in his house, and he hastened to the mosque dragging his cloak on the ground. He waited on the Holy Prophet, and enquired as to how the idea of the call to prayer had occurred to him. The Holy Prophet thereupon narrated the dream of Abdullah bin Zaid, and added that, as the vision appeared to be inspired, he had accepted it, and had the call given accordingly. Umar said that he too had a similar vision, but was happy that Abdullah bin Zaid had anticipated him. Umar said that there was however one difference between the formula proposed by Abdullah and the one that he had heard in his dream. The Holy Prophet anxiously enquired as to what was the difference. Umar said:
"According to the formula of Ahdullah bin Zaid we are only to witness that there is no god but Allah. In the call that I heard in my dream there were also the words 'I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God."
Thereupon the Holy Prophet instructed Bilal that in the call to prayer, the expression "I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God" should be included.
Turning to Abdullah bin Zaid, and Umar the Holy Prophet said, "Praise be to God. There are men among my followers to whom truth is revealed in dreams."
Hafsa was the daughter of Umar. Her mother was Zainab, a sister of Usman bin Mazur an eminent Companion. Abdullah was a real brother of Hafsa.
In Mecca, Hafsa was married to Khunays bin Hudhaifa of the Banu Sahm clan of the Quraish. Khunays was one of the early converts to Islam. He participated in two migrations, migration to Abyssinia and the migration to Madina, and was blessed by the Holy Prophet.
In Madina, Khunays participated in the battle of Badr. He also fought in the battle of Uhud. He was wounded in the battle of Uhud. These wounds proved fatal, and he died shortly after the battle of Uhud. Hafsa thus became a widow at a very young age.
Umar felt much distressed at the grief of his daughter. After the period of Iddat was over, Umar thought of remarrying her. Like her father, Hafsa was hot of temper. Umar felt that it would be advisable if she was married to an elderly man of a sober temperament.
Umar's choice fell on Abu Bakr. Umar went to Abu Bakr, and offered him the hand of Hafsa. Umar had hoped that Abu Bakr would enthusiastically welcome the proposal. Umar was, however, disappointed, for Abu Bakr remained quiet and evaded the issue. Umar felt distressed that his friend Abu Bakr had not grasped the hand of friendship that he had extended to him.
Umar next went to see Usman. Usman had been married to Ruqayya, a daughter of the Holy Prophet. Ruqayya had died. Umar offered him the hand of Hafsa. Usman asked for some time to consider the matter. When Umar saw Usman a few days later, Usman said that his grief over the death of Ruqayya was so overwhelming that he did not contemplate another marriage.
Umar felt very angry at the rejection of his proposal by Abu Bakr and Usman. Brimming with rage, Umar went to see the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet greeted him with a smile and asked tenderly what was worrying him? Umar poured out the grief of his heart, and complained against Abu Bakr and Usman who had turned down the hand of friendship that he had extended to them.
The Holy Prophet addressed Umar with great affection and said, "Umar, I know of your worries and I also know of your services to Islam. Rest assured, Hafsa will marry a man better than Usman, and Usman will marry a lady better than Hafsa."
This meant that the Holy Prophet himself wanted to wed Hafsa. Umar was overwhelmed with joy at this great honor beyond his aspirations. Umar reverently kissed the hand of the Holy Prophet in token of his gratitude. He hurried home, and told Hafsa of the happy news.
Then he went to Abu Bakr. From the face of Umar radiating happiness, Abu Bakr judged of the developments. Addressing Umar he offered apologies and said, "The Holy Prophet had spoken to me about Hafsa, and as such I could not accept your proposal. But for that it would have been a great honor and pleasure for me to agree to your proposal."
Umar then went to Usman. Usman offered apologies and said, "The Holy Prophet had talked to me over the matter. He had offered me the hand of his younger daughter Umm Kulsum, and he had expressed the desire to marry Hafsa himself. Under these circumstances I could not accept your proposal."
In A.D. 625 Hafsa was married to the Holy Prophet that elevated the status of Umar and brought him at par with Abu Bakr, as both of them enjoyed the unique privilege of being the fathers-in-law of the Holy Prophet.
Ayesha and Umar
The raid on al-Mustaliq led to another unfortunate episode which was a cause of great concern to the Holy Prophet and his companions for some time. Each time the Holy Prophet went on a campaign, one of his wives accompanied him, and the decision was always taken by the drawing of lots. On the occasion of the raid of Mustaliq, Ayesha accompanied the Holy Prophet. On return from the campaign she traveled on the back of a camel in a closed litter. On account of the regrettable behavior of Abdullah bin Ubayy, there was considerable tension in the atmosphere. As the caravan traveled at an unusual time, there was considerable upsetting of the program. The party halted for the night at some distance from Madina. At early dawn the call to move was given. Ayesha went to the desert to answer the call of nature, and on return occupied her litter. There she noticed that the necklace of Yemenite agates which she wore was no longer around her neck. Hurriedly she left the litter, and went to the desert where she found the necklace. When she returned to the camp the spot was deserted, and the caravan had left. The men in charge of her camel, seeing the litter closed, and thinking it occupied, had placed it on the camel and departed with it. Ayesha called aloud, but no one responded to her call. She decided to sit down, hoping that some body would come to fetch her. Soon she fell asleep, wrapped in her cloak.
"We belong to God and to Him we return." These words fell on the ears of Ayesha, and she awoke with a start. A young man stood before her holding a camel by its reins. Safwan bin Al-Muthal following the army in the rear had notice a young woman asleep in the desert, and upon approaching her, recognized her as the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). Ayesha quickly covered herself with her veil. Safwan adjusted the camel's saddle-girth and made the beast kneel. Ayesha thereupon mounted the camel. Holding the camel by the bridle, Safwan resumed the road. After a tiring journey they reached Madina at noon, a few hours after the arrival of the Holy Prophet. That provided an opportunity to Abdullah bin Ubbay and some other hypocrites to whip up a campaign of slander against Ayesha. The Holy Prophet consulted his friends about divorcing Ayesha. Ali advised that Ayesha should be divorced. When Umar was consulted he said, "O Prophet of God, I know for certain that the hypocrites are speaking malicious lie." The Holy Prophet asked Umar as to the grounds with him for holding that the hypocrites were speaking lies, Umar said:
"By reason of God not allowing a fly to settle upon thy blessed skirts, because it alights also on impure things and soils its feet. How then would He not preserve thee and thy name from a worse defilement?"
Umar further said that he was sure that God Himself would cause the innocence of the young lady to become manifest." He further said:
"If God does not allow thy shadow to fall upon the ground, lest it might be polluted, or a person step thereon, will He not restrain thy honored spouse from committing impropriety?"
Later, as anticipated by Umar, the Holy Prophet had a revelation in which God Himself bore witness to the purity and innocence of Ayesha. When the ordeal was over, the Holy Prophet thanked Umar for his support during the crisis. Ayesha paid for this kindness many years later when she allowed Umar to be buried in her chamber by the side of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr.
Purdah For Women
In Madina the Muslim women did not observe any purdah. They freely moved among men. The majority of men in Madina were men of great faith, and they were very careful in their conduct to women. There were some hypocrites among Muslims from whom any mischief could be expected. There were also some Jews from whom no good could be expected. Umar felt that if God forbidding any hypocrite played any mischief with regard to the women of Muslims that would be very damaging.
Umar expressed these views to the Holy Prophet, and suggested that women should be required to stay at home. Umar said that the wives of the Holy Prophet should particularly stay at home, for their prestige and honor were a matter of great concern for the Muslim community.
On hearing this advice of Umar, Zainab a wife of the Holy Prophet said:
"Umar you have started in interfering in the domestic affairs of the Prophet as well. The revelation comes to our house. and you come up with suggestions of your own."
The Holy Prophet, however, appreciated what Umar had said. He said that he was awaiting revelation, and action would be taken in accordance with the injunctions of God.
And then came a detailed revelation on the subject. The revelation was:
"Prophet say to your wives: if you desire the present life and its beautiful things, come and I will give you your dowries and send you away in a handsome manner. And if you desire Allah and His Prophet and the next world, remember that Allah has in store a great reward for those of you who are righteous." 33:28
Another verse provided:
"O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits flagrant indecency will have your punishment twice over. Indeed it is easy for Allah to double your punishment. As for those who are obedient to Allah and His Apostle and act righteously We shall give them their reward twice over. We have rare gifts in store for them." 33:30
And yet another verse said:
"O wives of the Prophet, you are like no other women. If you fear Allah do not be soft spoken, for it will tempt the man who has a disease in his heart. Speak in a dignified tone, stay in your homes, and do not display your beauty as in the days of ignorance. Observe prayer, give alms, and obey Allah and His Apostle. Members of the house of the Prophet! Allah only intends to rid you of your uncleanliness and to purify you completely. Women keep in mind the revelations of Allah and the words of wisdom which are recited in your houses. Benign is Allah; All-Aware." 33:32
These verses corroborated what Umar had said. When the Holy Prophet informed Umar of these verses he felt satisfied that God had ordered in the way he had desired. Turning to Umar the Holy Prophet said, "Umar, rejoice for once again Allah has spoken through your tongue."
Rumor Of Divorce By The Holy Prophet
In Madina, Umar lived in an elevated part of the city. His neighbor was Banu Umayya bin Zaid Ansari. The practice was that one day Umar attended the Holy Prophet, and informed his Ansari friend about all that had happened in the Prophet's Mosque. The other day Banu Umayya attended the Prophet's Mosque and on return informed Umar of all that had happened that day.
Umar felt that while in Mecca the Quraishites dominated over their women, in Madina things had changed, and the women asserted themselves. One day Umar was cross with his wife on some matter, but instead of being quiet she retorted, "How is it that you feel annoyed at my remonstrance. Go and see that the wives of the Holy Prophet remonstrate with the Holy Prophet. Tonight one of his wives quarreled with him all the night."
Hearing this, Umar went to his daughter Hafsa and enquired of her whether she had quarreled with the Holy Prophet. She said that she had quarreled with the Holy Prophet as she had a grievance. Thereupon Umar said, "Hafsa you are incurring loss. Don't you know by annoying the Holy Prophet you invite the wrath of God." After reprimanding her in severe terms, Umar returned home.
At night, the Ansari neighbor of Umar knocked at his door, and as Umar went to see what was the matter, his friend told him that something very grave had happened. Umar thought that perhaps Banu Ghassan whose attack was expected had invaded Madina. Umar enquired whether Banu Ghassan had launched the attack. Banu Umaya said, "No. Something more serious than that has happened". When Umar pressed him to tell what had happened he said that the Holy Prophet had divorced his wives.
Umar was very much upset at the news. He spent the whole night in prayer. Early in the morning next day, Umar went to Hafsa. He found her weeping. He enquired of her whether the Holy Prophet had divorced her. She said that she did not know. Umar rebuked her saying. "Did I not warn you before hand that by annoying the Holy Prophet you would be inviting trouble?" Thereupon Hafsa burst into violent sobs. Umar left her weeping and went to the Prophet's Mosque. There the people were sitting in groups here and there and were lamenting that the Holy Prophet had divorced his wives.
The Holy Prophet was in the cell attached to the Mosque. Umar went to the cell, and asked the slave at the door to seek the Holy Prophet's permission to his admittance. The slave returned to say that he had sought the requisite permission from the Holy Prophet but he had kept quiet.
Umar returned to the main hall of the Mosque, and sat in a corner in a dejected mood. After some time he rose and went again to the ceil of the Holy Prophet. Once again he requested the slave to get permission for his admittance. The slave returned to say that the Holy Prophet had made no reply
Umar returned once again to the main hall of the Mosque. He was highly upset and he prayed to God for mercy. Then once again he went to the cell of the Holy Prophet. This time he was allowed permission. Entering the cell, Umar said:
"O Messenger of God, I have not come to plead for Hafsa.
If that is your pleasure I would wring her neck with my own hands."
That softened the Holy Prophet and he smiled at the words of Umar.
Umar further said, "I find that in Mecca our ladies were docile; the climate of Madina has made them assertive. O Prophet of God if because of the impudence of your wives, you have divorced them, God, His angels, and all your followers are with you."
The Holy Prophet smiled and said, "Be assured, I have not divorced my wives. I have only decided to remain separate from them for a period of one month."
"Then may I tell so to Hafsa", said Umar.
The Holy Prophet said. "You may, if you like".
Umar cast a glance across the room. The Holy Prophet lay on a bare mat. There was no furniture in the room. There was hardly anything for the Holy Prophet to eat, but a barley bread. Seeing this extreme state of austerity, tears began to trickle from the eyes of Umar.
The Holy Prophet said, "Ibn-i-Khattab, what makes you weep ?"
Umar said, "You are the Prophet of God and you are living in such straitened circumstances. The people of Persia and Byzantine live in luxury. O Prophet of God why don't you pray to God that he should bestow wealth on you?"
The Holy Prophet said. "Do you think He Who made me His Prophet could not make me wealthy. Indeed He offered me the keys of all treasures in the world, but I refused them in return for the treasures in the next world. Surely treasures in the next world are to be preferred to petty wealth in this world. And as for the riches of Persia and Byzantine rest assured all such wealth will lie at the feet of the Muslims. I will not be alive then, but in your lifetime, both Persia and Byzantine will be overpowered by the Muslims."
When Gabriel Appeared In The Shape Of A Man
Umar stated that one day when he and some other companions were with God's Messenger, a man with very white clothing and very black hair came up. Sitting down beside the Holy Prophet leaning his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs he said, "Tell me Muhammad about Islam."
The Holy Prophet said, " Islam means that you should testify that there is no god but Allah; that Muhammad is God's Messenger; that you should observe the prayer, pay the Zakat, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the House of God, if you have the means".
The visitor said "You have spoken the truth. Now tell me about faith "
The Holy Prophet said, "It means that you should believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Apostles, and the last day, and that you should believe in the decreeing both of good and evil."
The man said that that was true. He then asked, "Now tell me about doing good."
The Holy Prophet said, "It means that you should worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, and if you aye not seeing him (perceive) that He is in fact seeing you."
The man accepted the statement as correct. He next asked, "Now tell me about the Hour".
The Holy Prophet said, "The one who is asked about is no better informed than the one who is asking".
Thereupon the man said, "Then tell me about its signs".
The Holy Prophet replied, "The signs are that a maid servant should beget her mistress, and that you should see barefooted naked poor men and shepherds exulting themselves in buildings."
The visitor felt satisfied then he sought leave to depart and as soon as leave was given he disappeared Umar who was present wondered who was the visitor.
Turning to Umar, the Holy Prophet said, "Do you know who was the visitor?"
Umar replied that he did not know.
Thereupon the Holy Prophet said, "He was Gabriel, who came to you to teach your religion."
Tidings Of Paradise
It is related by Abu Huraira that once he along with other companions including Abu Bakr and Umar were sitting with the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet rose from their midst and went to the garden of Ansar Banu Najjar.
The return of the Holy Prophet was delayed, and his companions felt anxious. Abu Huraira was the first to proceed to the garden of Banu Najjar. There he found no gate. He managed to go inside the garden through a drain.
Seeing him, the Holy Prophet said, "Abu Huraira what brings you here?"
Abu Huraira said, "You took long to return and we felt worried. So we have come after you".
Thereafter the Holy Prophet gave him his shoes and said, "Go carrying these shoes outside the garden, and whomsoever you meet who declares the article of faith with the sincerity of heart, give him the tidings of Paradise."
As Abu Huraira came out of the garden carrying the shoes of the Holy Prophet, the first person to meet him was Umar.
Umar said to Abu Huraira, "Why are you carrying the shoes of the Holy Prophet ?"
Abu Huraira said, "I am carrying these shoes under the command of the Holy Prophet. I have been commissioned to give the tidings of Paradise to whomsoever I meet, while carrying these shoes, who declares that he believes in the article of faith with sincerity of heart."
Umar felt angry. He handled Abu Huraira rather violently and said, "No such tidings are necessary. Abu Huraira go back."
As Abu Huraira went back to the Holy Prophet, he complained against Umar, and said that Umar had obstructed him in the performance of the mission that the Holy Prophet had entrusted to him.
In the meantime Umar also turned up. Seeing him, the Holy Prophet said, "Why did you behave rudely to Abu Huraira?"
Umar said "May my parents be a sacrifice to you Holy Prophet. The truth of the matter is that he intended to give the tidings of Paradise to all Muslims irrespective of their conduct. That would have been repugnant to the injunctions of Islam which makes admission to Paradise contingent by doing good. Holy Prophet, do not issue permits for the Paradise. Let the people do their duties. If they are assured of Paradise before hand there is the danger that they would relax in the performance of their obligations."
The Holy Prophet said, "Alright, let the Muslims perform their obligations."
Umar As Adviser
During the Caliphate of the Abu Bakr, Umar was the principal Adviser of the Caliph.
A story is on record showing the great esteem and regard that Abu Bakr had for Umar and his opinion.
It is related that once Ayanayah bin Hassan and Aqrah bin Habas two tribal chiefs waited on Abu Bakr, and requested that an estate be awarded to them. They suggested that close to their settlement there was a rock waste land which produced nothing, and that that wasteland might be gifted to them so that by their efforts they might make it productive.
Abu Bakr consulted the people around him. They suggested that it was a good proposition for thereby the wasteland would become productive. Abu Bakr accordingly agreed to award the land in question to them. A document was drawn up. Umar was not present and Abu Bakr advised the grantees to get it witnessed by Umar.
The grantees thought that such witnessing by Umar was merely formal and that there would be no difficulty in obtaining his signature, on the document. The grantees went to Umar and requested him to affix his signatures to the document as it had been approved by Abu Bakr.
After reading the document, Umar returned it to the grantees saying that he could not be a party to the deed.
The grantees in a fit of anger went to Abu Bakr and reported what Umar had said.
Abu Bakr remained quiet. Thereupon the grantees turning to the Caliph said "Are you the Caliph, or is Umar the Caliph?"
Abu Bakr said "You may very well take Umar to be the Caliph".
Then Umar came to the Caliph. Abu Bakr enquired what was the reason for his refusal to sign the document.
Umar asked "Is the land which you have gifted your property or is it a trust with you on behalf of the Muslim community".
Abu Bakr said "It is not my personal property; as such it should be a trust on behalf of the Muslim community".
Umar said "If that is the position, how can you extinguish the trust by gifting it to A or B. They may take it on lease subject to terms, but it must remain the State property. "
Turning to the applicants, Abu Bakr said "Umar has spoken the truth. I cannot deviate from the law."
Turning to Umar, Abu Bakr said "I had already requested you to take over the office of the Caliph, but you thrust the burden on my shoulders. I may not be with you for long and ultimately this responsibility will have to be shouldered by you."
Abu Bakr And Umar
Between the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr, the latter was "The Second of the Two". A similar equation obtained between Abu Bakr and Umar. When Abu Bakr became the Caliph, Umar was decidedly the 'Second of the Two'. The attachment and friendship between the two was of an exceptional character. Each preferred the other to himself. After the death of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr wanted Umar to be the Caliph, and Umar took steps to have Abu Bakr elected as the Caliph. The Holy Prophet often came to the mosque flanked by Abu Bakr on one side, and Umar on the other.
Umar and Abu Bakr vied with each other in doing good. In this connection some stories have come down to us which highlight the equation between Abu Bakr and Umar.
In 633 AD. the Holy Prophet decided to lead an expedition, to Tabuk on the Syrian border. In order to finance the expedition, the Holy Prophet invited contributions and donations from his followers. Umar had then considerable money with him. He thought that that was the occasion when he might excel Abu Bakr in the doing of good. Umar went home and brought his donation. The Holy Prophet enquired of Umar as to what he had left behind for himself and his family. Umar stated that he had donated one half of his wealth in the name of Allah and had left one half for himself and his family. Then Abu Bakr came with his donation and the Holy Prophet put him the same question as to how much he had left for himself and his family.
Abu Bakr said that he had donated all that he had in the name of Allah, and that he had left Allah and His Prophet for himself and his family. This episode has formed the theme of one of the poems of Iqbal. The poem provides;
"For the moth the lamp and for the nightingale the flower;
For Sidiq, God and His Prophet alone suffice."
On that account Umar realized that it was difficult to excel Abu Bakr in the doing of good.
Abu Yala records from Ibn Masud that he said "I was in the mosque praying when there entered the Apostle of God and with him were Abu Bakr and Umar. He found me praying and said 'Ask and it shall be granted unto thee'. Then he said 'Whosoever wishes to read the Quran in a fresh and joyous manner let him read it with the reading of Ibn Masud' . Then I returned to my house and Abu Bakr came to me and gave me the good tidings regarding what the Holy Prophet had said. Then came Haarat Umar and he found Abu Bakr going forth having already been before him, and he said 'Verily Abu Bakr is the foremost in good'."
Even when Umar was not the Caliph, it was his practice to move about in Madina and help persons in distress.
In one of the suburbs of Madina there lived a blind old women who had no one to help her. Umar used to go in disguise to the house of the old woman, but was always surprised to find that some one else had anticipated him, and supplied the wants of the old lady.
Umar felt much distressed that in this noble task of helping a lady in distress his efforts were always frustrated by some other person. Umar felt curious as to who that person could be who beat him in the field of social service.
One day, Umar went to the house of the old woman earlier than usual and hid himself to watch as to who was the person who attended to the wants of the old woman.
Umar did not have to wait long for soon a man arrived who attended to the needs of the old woman, and this man was none other than the Caliph Abu Bakr.
Umar felt relieved that if in the matter of social service he had been beaten by any one, such person was the Caliph Abu Bakr who was decidedly superior to him.
Umar as Caliph Nomination Of Umar As The Caliph
On the seventh Jamadi-ul Akhir of the 13th A.H. (8th August 633) which was a cold day, Abu Bakr took a bath and caught a chill. That developed into a high fever.
Abu Bakr was confined to bed, and he appointed Umar to lead the prayers during the period of his illness . His illness prolonged, and when his condition worsened, he felt that his end was near. It was suggested to him that a physician be called. He said "Now all is over."
Realizing that his end was drawing near, Abu Bakr felt that he should nominate his successor, so that the issue might not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death. Abu Bakr summoned Abdul Rahman bin Auf, and asked for his opinion about the nomination of Umar. Some other Companions were also consulted.
The general consensus was that Umar was the fittest person to be appointed as the Caliph. It was, however, felt that Umar had too fiery and tirascible temper, and he might not be able to show moderation so necessary for the Head of the Community.
Abu Bakr observed that Umar's display of severity was meant to counteract his ( Abu Bakr's) leniency. Abu Bakr felt confident that when the full responsibility of government devolved upon Umar he would become more moderate in his opinions.
Abu Bakr elaborated.
"I can say from my personal experience that Umar had always cooled me down whenever I lost my temper with any one just as whenever he felt me to be too lenient he counseled greater severity. For this reason I feel certain that with time, Umar will achieve that moderation you desire".
Taleah objected to the nomination of Umar and said,
"O successor of the Prophet; You know full well how harsh Umar has been towards us all during your regime and God only knows how he will deal with us when you are gone. You know that you are leaving us for ever, and yet you are content to leave us in the hands of a man whose fierce and ungovernable rages are well known to you. Think O Chief, what answer will you give to your Lord for such a behest."
At this, Abu Bakr who was lying prostrate in his bed, rose up with considerable effort and said:
"Have you come to frighten me? I swear that when I meet my Lord, I will gladly tell Him that I appointed as ruler over his people, the man who was the best of all mankind. "
Thereupon Ali, who was also present, rose to say that he would acknowledge no other Caliph save Umar. Abu Bakr was much impressed with the seldessness of Ali for not pressing his own claim, and for putting the interests of the Muslim community above personal interests. Turning to Ali, Abu Bakr said:
"You are indeed a prince in the most exalted sense of the term, for others are mere men."
Then Abu Bakr sent for Umar, and informed him that he had appointed him as his successor.
Umar said: "But I have no desire for the office." Thereupon, Abu Bakr said:
"But the office needs you. I have prayed to God to direct me rightly in the choice of my successor, and my choice is fundamental for the unity and strength of the Muslims."
Umar acquiesced, and Abu Bakr dictated the testament to Othman appointing Umar as the Caliph in succession to Abu Bakr.
The testament having been drawn up, Abu Bakr, supported by his wife Asma walked up to the door, and addressed the people who had gathered there. He told them that he had appointed Umar as his successor, and they said "We approve."
After obtaining the approval of the people in general terms,
Abu Bakr lay on the bed and prayed to God;
"O Lord! I have made this testament for the welfare of the community in order to counteract discord among them. What my intentions are, you know full well. I have spared no pains in making the best selection. O God, I entrust the Muslims to your care. O Allah keep their ruler on the right path. O God, make my successor the most pious of rulers and confer peace on the Muslims."
Umar's Inaugural Address
After the assumption of office as the Caliph, Umar addressed the Muslims who had assembled in the Prophet's mosque. In the course of the address, Umar said:
"O ye faithful! Abu Bakr is no more amongst us. After having led us for about two years, he has returned to His Maker. He has the satisfaction that he has successfully piloted the ship of the Muslim state to safety after negotiating the stormy sea. He successfully waged the apostasy wars, and thanks to him, Islam is now supreme in Arabia. Islam is now on the move and we are carrying Jihad in the name of Allah against the mighty empires of Byzantine and Persia.
After Abu Bakr, the mantle of Khilafat has fallen on my shoulders. I swear it before God that I never coveted this office. I wished that it would have devolved on some other person more worthy than me. But now that in national interest, the responsibility for leading the Muslims has come to vest in me, I assure you that I will not run away from my post, and will make an earnest effort to discharge the onerous duties of the office to the best of my capacity in accordance with the injunctions of Islam.
In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Holy Book, and will follow the examples set by the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. In this task I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.
Now brothers I offer a few prayers and you say Amen to them.
O Allah I am hard, make me soft to promote the Truth, to comply with your injunctions and to aspire to a better life in the world hereafter.
O Allah make me hard for the enemies of Islam and for those who create mischief so that their desigus against Allah come to naught.
O Allah I am miser; make me generous in the promotion of the good.
O Allah save me from hypocrisy. Strengthen my resolves so that whatever I do, I do for the sake of winning Your approbation.
O Allah soften my heart for the faithful so that I attend to their needs with a sense of dedication.
O Allah, I am careless, make me responsible enough so that I do not lose sight of You.
O Allah I am weak in offering my obedience to You; make me active and fortify my faith.
O Allah bestow on me faith, and the power to do good.
O Allah give me the power of self-criticism and self assessment.
O Allah bestow on me the insight into the meaning of the Quran and the strength to act in accordance with what the Quran says.
O Allah You are capable of doing anything: bless us with Your favor. Amen."
Umar's Address About His Conduct
After the assumption of office as Caliph, Umar soon realized that he was more feared than loved. Abu Bakr his predecessor was tender and soft hearted. Whenever he appeared in the streets of Madina, the children ran to him saying "Father, Father." He caressed and patted them. When Umar became Caliph, the children would run away at his sight saying "Here comes Umar, let us run away."
On the occasion of the first Friday prayer after his assumption of office as Caliph, Umar addressed the faithful assembled in the mosque in the following terms:
"Brethren, it has come to my notice that the people are afraid of me. They say 'When the Holy Prophet was alive, Umar was harsh to us. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umar was hard and stern. Now that he has become the Caliph himself, God knows how hard he will be. Whoever has said this is not wrong in his assessment.
The truth of the matter is that I was the slave and servant of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was most kind hearted, liberal and generous. In contrast I was hard and harsh so that I was like a naked sword. It was for the Holy Prophet to use the sword or sheathe it at his option. On occasions he sheathed the sword, and sometimes he used it. My purpose was to point to the Holy Prophet the other side of the picture. The decision rested with him. Sometimes he ignored my point of view. There were occasions when he agreed with me. Till the death of the Holy Prophet that remained the equation between him and me. Thank God, the Holy Prophet was pleased with me. Though the Holy Prophet sometimes accepted my advice, and sometimes turned it down, yet he approved of my conduct.
During the caliphate of Abu Bakr my role remained the same. Abu Bakr was most soft hearted and tender. It was my business to bring the other side of the picture to his notice. He always took my point of view into consideration, but the ultimate decision lay with him. Some times he agreed with me, and I acted as his agent to enforce a decision which appeared to be harsh. Sometimes he did not agree with me, and I had to remain quiet. I am happy that throughout the period of his office, Abu Bakr approved of my conduct, and ultimately nominated me as his successor, although I did not covet the office.
Now that the entire responsibility has come to vest in me, know ye brethren that you will feel a change in me. I will no longer be hard and stern in all matters. For those who practice tyranny and deprive others of their rights, I will be harsh and stern, but for those who follow the law, and are devoted to religion, I will be most soft and tender. I will not tolerate any person make any excess. He who commits any tyranny, him I will sternly call to book. I will be harsh and stern against the aggressor, but I will be a pillar of strength for the weak and the meek. They will find in me their best friend.
Friends you have some rights on me, and I tell you of these rights, so that you may be in a position to call me to account. These rights are:
firstly, that I should not exact any tax or other levy from you not authorized by law;
secondly, that whatever taxes are lawfully realized from you are spent in your best interests:
thirdly, it is incumbent on me that I should protect the frontiers of your land;
fourthly, it is my duty to promote your prosperity and look after your interests; and
fifthly, it is my obligation to do justice.
O servants of God, continue to fear God. Suppress your selfish motives and work for the solidarity of the Muslims as a whole. In running the State, you are my partners. Help me with your sound advice. If I follow the right path laid down by God and His Prophet follow me. If I deviate, correct me. Strengthen me with your advice and suggestions. Let us pray for the glory of Islam."
When the Holy Prophet died, and Abu Bakr succeeded him he was called "Khalifa tul Rasul", i e. the representative of the Prophet.
When Abu Bakr died and Umar succeeded him he called himself 'Khalifa', but the question arose whose Khalifa or representative he was. It was pointed out that strictly speaking he was not the Khalifa of the Rasul. He was the Khalifa of the Khalifatul Rasul. Umar felt that this was a cumbersome title, for in that case, those who followed him would have to be designated by an endless chain of Khalifas.
Umar accordingly felt that the Head of the Muslim State should be known by a simpler title which should reflect the Islamic character of the State. Umar asked the people around him to ponder over the matter, and if they could think of some suitable title they should bring such title to his notice.
One day Labid bin Rabia and Adi bin Hatim came to Madina from Kufa. They alighted at the Prophet's mosque and there coming across Amr b. Al As asked him to announce their arrival to the Amir-ul-Muminin.
Amr b. Al As was struck by the novelty of the term 'Amir-ul-Muminin'. He asked Labid and Adi as to how they referred to Umar as 'Amir-ul-Muminin'. They said "We all Muslims are Momins and Umar is our Commander. He is thus Amir-ul-Muminin".
Amr b. Al As said "Wonderful You have hit upon a beautiful term. God bless You".
Amr b. Al As hastened to Umar end there said "Amir-ul-Muminin, two persons have come from Kufa, and they seek permission to see you".
Umar became curious at being addressed "Amirul-Muminin". He asked Amr b. al Aas as to how he had coined the term 'Amir-ul-Muminin'. Amr b. al-Acts said that the visitors from Kufa had used that term, and as he was attracted by the term he had used it.
Umar said "We were in search of some suitable term to signify the office I hold, and here is a term which is attractive". He asked Amr b. al Aas as to what he thought of the title.
Amr b. al Aas said "I am attracted by the term. It is God sent. We all are Muslims and you are our Amir. The term is very attractive and significant."
After Umar had seen the visitors from Kufa, he convened a meeting of his consultative assembly, and there the question was discussed whether he should adopt the title of 'Amir-ul-Muminin' for the office that he held. The Assembly approved the title.
Henceforward Umar came to be addressed in his official capacity as Amir-ul-Muminin.
Before becoming the Caliph Umar lived by trade. After assuming the Caliph he could no longer carry on charge as his business. He accordingly agreed to accept a daily allowance from the Baitul Mal. Different amounts of daily allowance were suggested by different people. Umar sought the advice of Ali as to the amount of the allowance he should accept. Ali suggested that he should take as much amount as might moderately suffice for an average Arab, neither too much, nor too little. Umar accepted this suggestion and a modest amount of allowance was settled for him. The exact amount of the allowance thus settled is, however, not reported in any history.
Later on some companions including Ali, Usman, Zubair, and Talhah thought of increasing the allowance of Umar as it was not sufficient to meet the minimum requirements of Umar. These companions could not have the courage to broach this subject to Umar direct. They accordingly approached Hafsa the daughter of Umar, and asked her to ascertain Umar's reaction to the proposal.
When Hafsa talked about the matter to Umar, he became angry and wanted to know who were the persons who had made that suggestion. Hafsa said that before she could tell who were the persons concerned she wanted his reaction to the proposal.
Thereupon Umar wanted Hafsa to tell what was the Holy Prophet's best dress in her house. She said that it was a pair of clothes of red color which the Holy Prophet wore on Fridays or when receiving envoys.
Umar then asked what was the best of food that the Holy Prophet took. She said that the Holy Prophet's food was simple barley bread. Umar next asked as to what was the best bedding that the Holy Prophet ever used. She said that it was a piece of thick cloth. In summer it was spread in four layers and in winter in two, half he spread underneath, and with the other half he covered himself.
Thereupon Umar said:
"Hafsa, go and tell the people who have deputed you that the Holy Prophet has set a standard by his personal example. I must follow him. My case and that of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr is like the case of three men traveling on the same road. The first man started with a provision and reached the goal. The second followed the first and joined him. Now the third is on his way. If he follows their way he will also join them, otherwise he can never reach them."
When Hafsah told of Umar's reaction to the proposal to the companions who had deputed her they said: "May God bless Umar. He excels all of us in the matter of virtue."
In the month of the Holy Ramadan, it was the practice with the Holy Prophet that he would stay in the mosque after the Isha prayers, and offer extra prayers. One night as the faithful saw the Holy Prophet offering extra prayers, they also prayed as the Holy Prophet did. The following night more Muslims stayed in the mosque after the night prayer to offer extra prayers. On the third night there was a still larger gathering of the Muslims to perform the extra prayers. On the fourth night when a large number of the faithful assembled to offer the extra prayers, the Holy Prophet did not offer the extra prayers and retired to his house immediately after the Isha prayers. For the following nights as well the Holy Prophet retired immediately after the night prayers, and gradually the number of Muslims who offered the extra prayers diminished. Then one night the Holy Prophet offered the extra prayers again. When the Holy Prophet was asked about the reason for the break in the extra prayers for some nights he said that he had avoided these prayers lest the Muslims might take them to be an obligation under law, and that might become a burden for the Muslims. The Holy Prophet explained that such prayers were not compulsory, but if any one offered them voluntarily, he would have the blessing of God. Thereafter it became the practice that some Muslims offered the extra prayers during the month of Ramadan on their own account, while others did not, and retired to their homes after offering the night prayers.
When Umar became the Caliph, he saw that many Muslima gathered in the Prophet's mosque to offer extra prayers after the night prayers. Each person prayed according to his own discretion, and there were no specifications about the number of Rakaats to be offered. Umar felt that it would be a reform in the proper direction, if the prayers were offered in congregation and the number of Rakaats was fixed. After consulting the Companions, Umar issued instructions in 635 AD that such extra prayers should be offered in congregation under the imamate of a Quran reader who should recite a considerable part of the Quran each night, so that the entire Quran was completed during a week or so. It was laid down that these prayers should comprise ten taslima's each containing two rakaats and that after every four rakaats there should be a rawih' or a pause. Because of such pauses these extra prayers came to be known as 'Tarawih'.
These instructions were circulated throughout the Muslim dominions. There were some who felt that as the Holy Prophet had not prescribed such prayers, it was unlawful to prescribe such prayers after the death of the Holy Prophet. Umar explained that he was not prescribing these prayers as compulsory; it was open to any one to offer or not to offer these prayers at his discretion. If any one offered these prayers that would be to his credit, but if any body did not do so that would not bring him any discredit. He also elucidated that his instructions being of an advisory character only were in no way repugnant to Islam. If he had instructed the Muslims to do what Allah or the Holy Prophet had prohibited that would have been repugnant to Islam, out if he wanted the Muslims to do anything at their option which was intrinsically good and had not been prohibited, that was not repugnant to Islam, but was on the other hand in consonance with the spirit of Islam.
Umar And The Holy Quran
The Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet in parts from time to time spread over a period of 23 years. Whenever the Holy Prophet received the revelation. he would dictate it to one of his Katibs who would record it on some piece of leather, date skin, or even bones and stones.
The principal scribe of the Holy Prophet was Zaid bin Thabit. Many companions committed the entire Quran to memory and these 'Huffaz' could recite the entire Quran any time. The Holy Prophet kept all the pieces of leather, date skins another materials on which the verses of the Holy Quran had been written in his custody.
During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, revelation was a continuous process, and there was no occasion for giving them the form of a book. After the death of the Holy Prophet, the process of revelation came to close, and now the need of some sort of compilation to preserve the Word of God was felt.
In the battle of Yamama, most of the Companions who had learnt the Holy Quran by heart were martyred. Umar was the first to feel that if those who had committed the Holy Quran to memory were dead, there was the danger that there would be none left who could be relied upon as the repository of the Quran. There was also the danger that with the lapse of time there might be some interpolations in the text inadvertently or even deliberately.
Umar suggested to the Caliph Abu Bakr that the Holy Quran should be suitably compiled under the authority of the State Abu Bakr was reluctant to undertake the project. His plea was that as the Holy Prophet had not felt the necessity for such a compilation, it did not behoove him as the successor to the Prophet to take any initiative in the matter.
Umar, however, continued to press his point. Umar argued that during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet the process of revelation was continuous, and as the Holy Prophet himself was the repository of all revelations, there was no occasion for such a compilation. After the death of the Holy Prophet, the position had changed, and unless the Holy Quran was compiled, there was the danger that the Quran might be lost. In the absence of an authentic text, there was also the danger that some unscrupulous persons might add to or vary the text to suit their interests. The argument appealed to Abu Bakr, and when other prominent Muslims were consulted, they also endorsed the views of Umar. Abu Bakr accordingly undertook the project for the compilation of the Holy Quran.
Zaid b. Thabit was commissioned by Abu Bakr to collect all the verses of the Holy Quran and compile them in a book form.
Zaid's immediate reaction to the proposal was that if he had been asked to remove a mountain from its original site, and place it elsewhere, he would have considered such a task easier than the task of collecting the Holy Quran. Abu Bakr and Umar appreciated the gravity of the problem, but observed that as the Word of God had to be preserved for the guidance of the coming generations, the task had to be undertaken whatever the odds. Zaid thereupon set to the task of collecting the verses.
A proclamation was made that whosoever had learnt any portion of the Quran from the Holy Prophet should produce such portion. Two witnesses had to be produced in each case to establish the genuineness of the verse. When all the verses had been collected a Committee was set up of which Umar was a member. This Committee supervised the compilation of the Holy Quran. Sad b. al As dictated, and Zaid bin Thabit wrote the Holy Quran. These was checked by the members of the Committee including Umar.
When the work was completed it was further checked by Abu Bakr, and the finally approved copy was kept by Abu Bakr in his personal custody. The sacred compilation was given the name of 'Mashaf'.
During his Caliphate, Umar took steps to ensure that the teaching of the Holy Quran was spread extensively, and that a large number of persons learnt the text by heart so that there could be no possibility of any corruption in the text.
Under the orders of Umar, hundreds of schools were opened throughout the length and breadth of the Islamic world for the teaching of the Holy Quran. Highly qualified teachers were appointed for the purpose, and they were given good salaries.
Such Companions who had learnt the Holy Quran by heart were sent to distant places to teach the Holy Quran. Muadh b. Jabal; Ibada b al Samit; and Abu Darda were prominent companions who knew the Holy Quran by heart. They were sent to Syria where Ibada headed the school at Hims: Abu Darda at Damascus; and Muadh at Jerusalem. It is related that Abu Darda held his classes in the Jamia Masjid at Damascus and the enrolment in his class was 1600.
Umar took pains in promoting and popularizing the study of the Holy Quran. All the Muslims were required to learn at least five Suras by heart. Special stipends were granted for the learning of the Holy Quran. In his instructions to the Army, Umar exhorted the men to read and memories the Holy Quran.
Umar was very particular about the use of correct vowels and the correct pronunciation of the words in the Holy Quran. In his instructions to the teachers of the Holy Quran, Umar said:
"Teach them the vowels of the Quran, as you teach its learning by heart."
Umar also instructed that along with the teaching of the Holy Quran, the study of the Arabic language and literature should be made compulsory so that the readers of the Holy Quran should themselves be able to distinguish between right and wrong vowels.
Umar also laid down that no one who was not versed in Arabic lexicology should be permitted to teach the Holy Quran.
Umar And Mosques
As the Islamic dominions extended progressively, Umar ordered that mosques should be built in all conquered territories.
In the newly founded cities of Kufa and Basra, Jami Masjids were built in the center of the city and smaller mosques were built in each tribal quarter.
In the case of smaller towns in Iraq and Syria, a mosque was required to be constructed in each town. According to one account as many as 4000 mosques were constructed during the caliphate of Umar.
Umar had the sacred mosque at Kaaba extended. In 739 AD Umar purchased the surrounding houses at state expense. These were demolished, and the area under them was included in the mosque. Heretofore there was no wall round the mosque. Umar had a wall constructed for the first time. Heretofore the mosques were not lit. Umar provided lights for the mosques for the first time.
Formerly the cover of the Kaaba was of ordinary cloth. Umar had the cover made of a superior and finer cloth manufactured in Egypt.
The bounds of the Haram, the sanctuary of the Kaaba extended to three miles in one direction, and seven to nine miles in other directions. The boundaries were not defined, and there was the risk of this area being encroached upon. Umar had the area surveyed, and the boundaries were demarcated. Stone pillars called Ansab were fixed to mark the boundaries.
Umar extended the Prophet's Mosque at Madina as well. In 739 AD, the same year as the Kaaba was extended, Umar purchased the houses that surrounded the Masjid i-Nabvi. After demolishing them, the area was utilized for the extension of the mosque.
Abbas whose house also surrounded the mosque refused to sell his house. He sued the state in the Court of the Qazi Ubayy b. Kab. The Court gave its verdict against the state, and held that the property could not be acquired compulsorily. Umar accepted the verdict of the Court. Thereupon Abbas voluntarily gifted his house for the extension of the mosque. Umar accepted the gift gratefully, and provided alternative accommodation to Abbas.
As a result of extension the length of the mosque rose from 100 to 140 yards while its width rose from 60 to 80 yards.
Umar was the first to provide lights for Masjid-i-Nabvi. Umar also made arrangements for the burning of the incense in the mosque. The floor of the mosque was paved and covered with mats.
The Hijri Calendar
Some time in 638 AD, Abu Musa Asha'ari, the Governor of Basra wrote:
"Amir-ul-Mominin, we receive instructions from you every now and then, but as the letters are undated, and some times the contents of the letters differ, it becomes difficult to ascertain as to which instructions are to be followed."
That set Umar thinking. In the meantime, he received from Yemen a draft for some money which was encashable in Shaban. Umar thought that the practice of merely mentioning the month in such cases was defective for one could not be sure whether the month referred to was of the current or the following year.
Umar convened an assembly to consider the question of calendar reform.
Some one suggested that the Roman calendar should be adopted. After discussion the proposal was rejected as the Roman calendar dated from too remote an era and was cumbersome.
It was next considered whether the Persian calendar might be adopted. Hormuzan explained the salient features of the Persian calendar called 'Mahroz'. The consensus of opinion was that such a calendar would not be suitable for the Muslims.
The general opinion was that instead of adopting any alien calendar, the Muslims should have a calendar of their own. This was agreed to, and the point next considered was from when should such an era begin?
Some one suggested that the era should begin from the date of birth of the Holy Prophet. Some suggested that it should begin from the death of the Holy Prophet. Ali suggested that it should begin from the date the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Madina. After discussion, Ali's suggestion was agreed to.
The Holy Prophet had migrated in the month of Rabi-ulAwwal, when the year had already run two months and eight days. Next the question arose from which month should the new era start.
Some one suggested that the calendar should start with the month of Rajab as in the pre-Islamic period this month was held sacred. Some one proposed that the first month should be Ramzan as that is a sacred month for the Muslims. Another proposal was that the first month should be 'Zul Hajj' as that is the month of the pilgrimage.
Usman suggested that as in Arabia the year started with Muharram the new era should also start with Muharram. This suggestion was accepted. The date was accordingly pushed back by two months and eight days, and the new Hijri calendar began with the first day of Muharram in the year of migration rather than from the actual date of migration.
Umar accordingly issued instructions to all concerned regarding the enforcement of the Hijri calendar.
Umar And Drinking
Drinking was very common among the Quraish. Some accounts say that during the days of ignorance even Umar was a wine bibbler. When Umar became a Muslim, he never touched wine. Umar was a great thinker. He thought that as under the influence of drink one becomes oblivious of his duties and responsibilities, drink must be prohibited by an injunction from God. Umar often talked to the Holy Prophet on the subject, and prayed for an injunction to enforce prohibition.
At Madina the following verse was revealed to the Holy prophet:
"They ask you about wine and games of chance. Say 'They lead to great sin, and have some use for men. But the sin inherent in them exceeds their usefulness." (2: 219)
The Holy Prophet informed Umar of this revelation. Umar said: 'Holy Prophet. This is not enough, pray to God for a specific injunction."
Some time later came another revelation, namely:
"Believers! wine, games of chance, idols, and diving arrows are abominations which are the handiwork of the Devil. Avoid them so that you may prosper." (5: 90)
When Umar was informed of this revelation, he said: "Holy Prophet; this is a negative provision. Pray to God to give some positive injunction."
Then another verse was revealed which provided:
"The Devil intends that by means of wine, games of chance, he should provoke enmity and hatred among you; and stop you from remembering Allah and saying your prayers. Will you not keep them away from them?" (5: 91)
This verse provided the necessary sanction for the prohibition of drinking. In spite of this injunction many Muslims continued to indulge in drinking.
When Umar became the Caliph, and the Muslim conquests extended east and west, bringing prosperity to the Muslims, Umar felt that in order to safeguard the purity of faith some hard and fast policy about drinking should be laid down. While the Holy Qur'an provided specific punishments for some offences, no penalty was specified in the case of drinking. That made some of the wine bibblers take the plea that if God intended prohibition, the penalty for the offence would have been prescribed.
Umar convened a meeting of his Consultative Assembly to consider the question. The first question that was taken up for consideration was: whether the drinking of wine was lawful or unlawful. The verdict was that it was unlawful.
The next question was: if it was unlawful what should be the penalty therefore. Umar agreed that no penalty in this behalf had been laid down in the Holy Quran, but he held that a penalty therefore could be laid down on the basis of analogy keeping in view the penalty provided for offences of kindred character.
Ali argued that the offence of drinking was of the same species as calumny for under the influence of drink one was apt to say many things which he should not have otherwise said. In the case of calumny the Holy Quran provided punishment as follows:
"Give eighty lashes to each one,
Of those who accuse honorable women;
But do not support their accusation with four witnesses.
Do not accept their testimony,
For it is they who break the law."
Ali advised that for drinking the same penalty i. e. eighty lashes should be provided.
This advice was accepted by Umar. Umar issued orders to all concerned to the following effect:
"Drinking is banned under the Holy Quran. If any Muslim drinks and pleads that this was lawful then cut off his head for what he says is a violation of the Holy Word. If he says that it is unlawful but that he fell into error then give him eighty lashes publicly."
These instructions were enforced vigorously, and the Muslim society was practically rid of the evil of drinking.
When Islam appeared on the world stage, the world economy was based on slavery. Islam was the first religion to raise its voice against slavery. Among the early converts to Islam, many were slaves. Indeed one of the reasons for the hostility of the Quraish against Islam was that they saw in Islam a hostile force to slavery on which the economy of Mecca was based.
When Umar became the Caliph of Islam, he took particular measures to eliminate the evils of slavery as far as possible. He took a very bold step when he declared that no Arab could be a slave. Arabia was thus the first country in the world, which under the impact of Islam abolished slavery. During the apostasy wars many Arabs had been taken captive and made slaves. Umar emancipated all such slaves.
Umar also decreed that slave women who had borne a child to her master stood emancipated.
The Holy Quran laid down:
If you see good in them (slaves), make agreement with them."
Umar implemented this injunction and laid down that a slave could make an agreement with the master that he would pay so much within the specified period to secure his freedom. Anas had a slave Sirin by name. The slave wanted to enter into an agreement with his master, but Anas refused. When the matter was reported to Umar, he made Anas enter into an agreement with his slave.
In the matter of stipends allowed by the state, Umar made no distinction between the master and the slave. The slaves were given the stipends on the same scale as their masters.
Umar issued orders that slaves could not be separated from their kindred. Under these orders the child was not to be separated from its mother. If there were two brothers it was obligatory that both of them should be purchased by one master.
Umar was considerate that when some very highly placed person was taken captive, he should be ransomed and not kept as a slave. When in Syria the daughter of the emperor Heraclius was taken captive, she was returned to her father. When in the battle of Babylon, Armanusa the daughter of Maqauqas was taken captive she was returned to her father.
In order to raise the status of slaves, Umar enjoined that the master should generally take meals with their slaves. Occasionally Umar invited slaves to dine with him. Umar said:
"The curse of God be upon those who feel ashamed to sit to meals with slaves."
Umar laid down that if a Muslim slave gave protection to a non-Muslim such protection was to be honored like the protection given by any other Muslim.
Umar took pains to provide facilities to slaves to rise to position of importance in the State. During the caliphate of Umar Ikramah who came to be regarded as an Imam of Hadith was a slave. Nafi who was the teacher of Imam Malik was a slave. There were many other slaves who became eminent during the caliphate of Umar.
Umar's Control Of Sexuality Laxity
In the days of ignorance sexual laxity was the order of the day. Islam stood for reform in the moral and social fields, and condemned sexual laxity in all forms. Under Islam a limitation was placed on the number of wives one could marry. Such number was not to exceed four, and it was enjoined that all the wives should be treated alike with due justice. Lapidation was provided as the punishment for those found guilty of adultery.
When Umar became the Caliph he took further steps to rid the society of sexual laxity.
In the days of ignorance poetry was pressed into service as an instrument of moral laxity. The poets indulged in ribald poems. They named their sweethearts in their poems and by indulging in poetic license compromised the honor and integrity of ladies. Then where ladies were no party to love the poets in their imagination made their beloveds return their love in passionate terms. Such poetry did considerable social harm, and disturbed domestic peace in many a home. Umar took cognizance of this unsocial practice. He commanded the poets not to mention the names of ladies in their poems. He also issued directions that the poets should not indulge in any versification calculated to encourage moral depravity. Where some poets inadvertently or otherwise contravened these instructions they were flogged or punished.
Mutah in some form or the other was permissible or at least not expressly forbidden before the time of Umar. Umar felt that Mutah "hereunder a man married a woman for a specified number of days amounted to disguised prostitution and this led to moral laxity. Umar accordingly passed an order prohibiting Mutah. He declared that it was open to a person to divorce a woman after regular marriage for any valid reason, but a marriage which was stipulated to be dissolved after a specified number of days was repugnant to the spirit of Islam which stood for stability of domestic homes. Umar elaborated that the purpose of marriage was to set up homes with a view to getting children and Mutah negated such objects. Moreover in the case of Mutah the children born of such union were to be subject to social disability which was detrimental to social order.
Under the Islamic law divorce was permissible. The Holy Prophet however took pains to explain that divorces which disrupted family life were distasteful to God. People were enjoined not to be hasty in the matter of divorce. Divorce could be effective only when three divorces were given. The idea was to provide some opportunity for reconciliation. When under Umar more countries were conquered and women from other countries became available for the Muslims, some Muslims resorted to the practice of announcing three divorces simultaneously. In order to put a stop to this unsocial practice Umar laid down that if a person gave three talaqs simultaneously such divorce would be irrevocable.
With the conquest of Iraq and Syria, Iraqi and Syrian women became available to the Muslims. Attracted by the beauty of these women, the Muslims divorced their Arab wives. That created a social crisis which led to sexual laxity. Umar accordingly ordered that marriages with foreign ladies should be permitted under exceptional circumstances. Hudhaifa was the administrator of al Madina and he married a Christian beauty of Iraq. When this was brought to the notice of Umar he required Hudhaifa to divorce the Christian beauty, Hudhaifa said that he would not comply with the order unless he was told whether his marriage was unlawful or else; the Caliph referred to the authority under which he wanted him (Hudhaifa) to divorce his legally wedded wife. Umar wrote to say that the marriage he had contracted was not unlawful, but he had been advised to divorce the Christian beauty as it was bound to adversely affect the interests of Arab ladies. Moreover if the Muslims married non-Muslim ladies merely for their beauty that would encourage sexual laxity. Thereupon Hudhaifa divorced his Christian wife.
Besides four lawful wives Islam permitted any man to take over any number of slave girls to bed. These slave girls were to be the property of the Master and he could sell them any time. With the extension in conquests the number of available slave girls increased and Umar felt that this would promote sexual laxity. He ordered that Umm ul Walad that is such slave girls who bore children to their masters would stand emancipated. This had the effect that such women could no longer be treated as concubines and were to be given the status of regular wives or divorced when they could, as free women, marry other persons.
In the early days of Islam there was no standing army. On the occasion of any battle contingents were raised from the various tribes and these were disbanded when the battle was over. No regular salaries were paid. Those who fought were compensated by distributing the spoils of war among them.
Umar was the first Muslim ruler to organize the army as a State Department. This reform was introduced in 637 A.D. A beginning was made with the Quraish and the Ansars and the system was gradually extended to the whole of Arabia. A register of all adults who could be called to war was prepared, and a scale of salaries was fixed.
The scale was:
- (l) Those who had fought in the battle of Badr 5,000 dirhams.
- (2) Those who had fought in the battle of Uhud 4,000 dirhams.
- (3) Those who had migrated before the conquest of Mecca 3,000 dirhams.
- (4) Those who had embraced Islam at the time of the conquest of Mecca 2,000 dirhams
- (5) Those who had fought in the battles of Yermuk or Qadissiya 2,000 dirhams.
- (6) For the Yamanites 400 dirhams
- (7) Those who had fought after the battles of Yermuk and Qadissiya 300 dirhams.
- (8) The rest 200 dirhams
All men registered were liable to military service. They were divided into two categories, namely:
- (l) those who formed the regular standing army; and
- (2) those who lived in their homes, but were liable to be called to the colors whenever needed.
For the purpose of army administration, Umar established Military Centers which were called 'Jund'. These Centers were set up at Madina; Kufa; Basra; Mosul; Fustat; Damascus; Jordan; and Palestine. At these centers barracks were built for the residence of troops. Big stables were constructed where four thousand horses fully equipped were kept ready for service at short notice at every Military Center. All records pertaining to the army were kept at Military Centers. Food stores of the commissariat were kept at these places and there from sent to other places.
In addition to Military Centers, cantonments were established in big towns and places of strategic importance.
Under the Army Department, there was a separate Commissariat Department. All the food stores were collected at one place, and from there disbursed on the first of every month.
Pay and Bhatta were disbursed at different times. The pay was paid in the beginning of the Mohurram. The Bhatta was paid in spring and some extra allowances were paid during the harvesting season.
Every tribal unit had its leader called Arifs. Such units if under Arifs were grouped and each group was under a Commander called Umar-ul-Ashar.
Promotions in the army were made on the strength of the length of service or exceptional merit.
Expeditions were undertaken according to seasons. Expeditions in cold countries were undertaken during the summer, and in hot countries in winter. In spring the troops were generally sent to lands which had a salubrious climate and a good pasturage.
Much thought was given to climate and sanitation in the lay out of cantonments and the construction of barracks. Special provisions were made for roads and streets in cantonments, and Umar issued instructions prescribing the width of roads and streets.
When the army was on the march, it always halted on Fridays. When on march, the day's march was never allowed to be so long as to tire out the troops. The stages were selected with reference to the availability of water and other provisions.
Leave of absence was given to army men at regular intervals. The troops stationed at far off places were given leave once a year and some time twice.
Each army corps was accompanied by an officer of the treasury, an Accountant, a Qazi, and a number of interpreters besides a number of physicians and surgeons.
Umar issued instructions laying stress on the teaching of four things to the soldiers, namely: horse-racing; archery; walking barefoot, and swimming.
On the battlefield the army was divided into sections. These sections were:
- (1) Qalb or the center;
- (2) Maqaddamah or the vanguard;
- (3) Maimanah or the right wing;
- (4) Maisarah or the left wing;
- (5) Saqah or the rear;
- (6) Rid-extreme rear
Other components were:
- (1) Talaiah or patrols to keep watch over the movements of the enemy;
- (2) Ra'id or foraging parties,
- (3) Rukban or the camel corps;
- (4) Farsan or the cavalry;
- (5) Rajil or the infantry;
- (6) Ramat or the Archers.
According to instructions every soldier was required to keep with him several things of personal need. These included among other things needles, cotton, twine, scissors, and a feeding-bag.
Catapults were used extensively in siege operations. Under Umar another machine employed in siege operations was Dabbabah. It was a wooden tower which moved on wheels and consisted of several storeys. The tower was wheeled up to the foot of the fort under siege, and then the walls were pierced by stone throwers' wall-piercers and archers who manned the Dabbabah.
Under the instructions of Umar, suitable arrange, meets were made for the clearance and construction of roads, and bridges. These operations were usually performed by the conquered people under the supervision of the Muslim army.
A remarkable feature of the army organization under Umar was that he had complete control over the army at all times as if he were present in person at every field. The control was facilitated because of the sense of awe and majesty that the person of Umar inspired. The espionage and intelligence services in the army were well organized. Reporters were attached to every unit, and they kept the Caliph fully informed about everything pertaining to the army.
Under Umar vast conquests were made in Iraq, Persia, Syria, and Egypt and this speaks for the efficiency of the army and the military organization.
Umar took particular pains to provide effective and speedy justice for the people. He set up an effective system of judicial administration, "hereunder justice was administered according to the principles of Islam.
Qadis were appointed at all administrative levels for the administration of justice. Umar was the first ruler in history to separate judiciary from the executive. The Qadis were chosen for their integrity and learning in Islamic law. High salaries were fixed for the Qadis so that there was no temptation to bribery. Wealthy men and men of high social status were appointed as Qadis so that they might not have the temptation to take bribes, or be influenced by the social position of any body. The Qadis were not allowed to engage in trade. Judges were appointed in sufficient number, and there was no district which did not have a Qadi.
Umar issued 'Farmans' from time to time laying down the principles for the administration of justice. In one of the Farmans issued to Judicial Officers, Umar laid down the following principles:
"Praise to God.
Verily justice is an important obligation to God and man. You have been charged with this responsibility. Discharge the responsibility so that you may win the approbation of God and the goodwill of the people.
Treat the people equally in your presence, in your company, and in your decisions, so that the weak despair not of justice, and the high-placed have no hope of your favor.
The onus of proof lies on the plaintiff. He who denies must do so on oath. Compromise is permissible, provided it does not turn the unlawful into lawful, and the lawful into unlawful. Let nothing prevent you from changing your previous decision if after consideration you feel that the previous decision was incorrect.
When you are in doubt on a question and find nothing about it in the Quran or in the Sunnah of the Prophet, think over the question over and over again. Ponder over the precedents and analogous cases, and then decide by analogy.
A term should be fixed for the person who wants to produce witnesses. If he proves his case, get him his right. Otherwise, the suit should be dismissed.
All Muslims are reliable, except those who have been punished with flogging, or who have borne false witness or are doubtful in integrity."
History has preserved the names of some of the eminent persons who held judicial office during the caliphate of Umar.
Zaid bin Thabit was appointed by Umar as the Qadi of Madina. He was well versed is Syriac and Hebrew, and was an expert in civil law.
Ka'b-b. Sur al-Azdi was the Qadi of Basra. He was a man of keen insight and wide learning. Many of the dicta laid down by him became classical and were reported by Imam Ibn Sirin.
Ibada b. al-Samat was the Qadi of Palestine. He was one of the five men who had memorized the Holy Quran in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. Umar held him in great esteem.
Abdullah b Masud was the Qadi of Kufa. He was a man of great scholarship and judicial acumen. He is considered the Father of the Hanafi law.
Qadi Shuraih succeeded Abdullah b Masud as the Qadi of Kufa. He was well known throughout the country for his intelligence and keen sense of judgment. He was regarded as a model Judge. Ali used to call him 'Aqd-ul-Arab'-i.e. the most judicious of all the Judges of Arabia.
About Qadi Shuraih's appointment as a Judge there is a story on record. It is related that Umar purchased a horse on approval, and gave it to somebody to try it. The horse got hurt in the ride, and Umar wanted to return it, but the owner refused to take it back. In the dispute that arose as a consequence, Shuraih was chosen as the arbitrator. He gave the verdict that if the horse was ridden with the permission of the owner it could be returned; otherwise not. Umar said that that was the right decision and at once appointed Shuraih as the Qadi of Kufa.
Public Treasury and Coins
In the time of the Holy Prophet there was no public treasury. Whatever revenues or other amounts were received were distributed immediately. There were no salaries to be paid, and there was no state expenditure. Hence the need for the treasury at public level was not felt.
In the time of Abu Bakr as well there was not treasury. Abu Bakr earmarked a house where all money was kept on receipt. As all money was distributed immediately the treasury generally remained locked up. At the time of the death of Abu Bakr there was only one dirham in the public treasury.
In the time of Umar things changed. With the extension in conquests money came in larger quantities, Umar also allowed salaries to men fighting in the army. In A.D., Abu Huraira who was the Governor of Bahrain sent a revenue of five lakh dirhams. Umar summoned a meeting of his Consultative Assembly and sought the opinion of the Companions about the disposal of the money. Most of the Companions advised immediate distribution of the money. Usman advised that the amount should be kept for future needs. Walid bin Hisham suggested that like the Byzantines separate departments of Treasury and Accounts should be set up.
After consulting the Companions Umar decided to establish the Central Treasury at Madina. Abdullah bin Arqam was appointed as the Treasury Officer. He was assisted by Abdur Rahman and Muiqib. A separate Accounts Department was also set up and it was required to maintain record of all that was spent.
Later provincial treasuries were set up in the provinces. After meeting the local expenditure the provincial treasuries were required to remit the surplus amount to the central treasury at Madina. According to Yaqubi the salaries and stipends charged to the central treasury amounted to over three crore dirhams.
In most of the histories of the Muslim period it is stated that among the Muslim rulers, the Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan was the first to strike coins. Further historical research has established that Umar has the distinction of being the first Muslim ruler to strike Islamic coins.
It is stated in Maqrizi's Kitab-ul-Nuqad ul-Islamia and Mawardi's Al-Ahkam us-Sultaniyah that Islamic coins were first struck by Umar. Umar struck the coins of dirhams. The coins of Umar resembled the coins of Anusherwan. These, however, bore the legends "Praise to Allah"; "Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah"; and "There is no god but Allah".
According to Mawardi when Persia was conquered three types of coins were current in the conquered territories, namely Baghli of 8 dang; Tabari of 4 dang; and Maghribi of 3 dang. Umar made an innovation and struck an Islamic dirham of 6 dang.
Umar stood for simplicity and austerity. Consequently he did not believe in any large scale program of public works involving extravagance. Nevertheless as a consequence of the extension of the Muslim rule to distant lands, the undertaking of works of public utility became imperative.
As Muslim conquests extended east and west, and more people embraced Islam, it became necessary to construct mosques. The mosques were not mere places for offering prayers; these were community centers as well where the faithful gathered to discuss problems of social and cultural importance. During the caliphate of Umar as many as four thousand mosques were constructed extending from Persia in the east to Egypt in the west Umar enlarged and improved the Prophet's mosque in Madina. He also paved the Holy Kaaba.
During the caliphate of Umar many new cities were founded. These included Kufa, Basra, and Fustat. These cities were laid in according with the principles of town planning. All streets in these cities led to the Friday mosque which was sited in the central chauk. Markets were established at convenient points. The cities were divided into quarters, and each quarter was reserved for particular tribes. In the construction of houses, strict instructions were laid down prohibiting the construction of palatial buildings. The houses were to be single storeyed, not exceeding specified dimensions. These instructions were vigorously enforced, and if any body constructed a double storey in violation of these instructions, such double storeys were invariably demolished. The houses did not reflect the opulence or poverty of the owners. These were symbolic of the egalitarian society of Islam, where under all were equal.
Many buildings were built for administrative purposes. In the quarters called "Dar-ul-Amarat" Government offices and houses for the residence of officers were provided. Buildings known as 'Diwans' were constructed for the keeping of official records. Buildings known as Bait-ul-Mal, were constructed to house public treasuries. For the lodging of persons suffering sentences as punishment, prison houses were constructed for the first time in Muslim history. In important cities Guest Houses were constructed to serve as rest houses. Roads and bridges were constructed for public use. On the road from Madina to Mecca, shelters, wells, and meal houses were constructed at every stage.
Military cantonments were constructed at strategic points. Special stables were provided for cavalry. These stables could accommodate as many as 4,000 horses. Special pasture grounds were provided and maintained for Bait-ul-Mal animals.
Canals were dug to irrigate fields as well as provide drinking water for the people. Abu Musa Canal was a nine mile long, canal which brought water from the Tigris to Basra. Another canal known as Maqal canal was also dug from the Tigris. A canal known as the Amirul Mumnin canal was dug to join the Nile to the Red Sea. During the famine of 639 A.D. food grains were brought from Egypt to Madina through this canal and the sea. Saad canal dug from the Euphrates brought water to Anbar. Amr bin Al Aas the Governor of Egypt even proposed the digging of a canal to join the Mediterranean to Red Sea. The proposal, however, did not materialize, and it was 1200 years later that such a canal was dug in the shape of the Suez Canal
Hadith and Fiqh Umar and Hadith
During his lifetime the Holy Prophet pronounced on various matters. When any one met with a problem he went to the Holy Prophet for his verdict. Such decisions remained know to the persons concerned and were not publicized. As such the decisions of the Holy Prophet remained wide spread. The traditions were not compiled in any compendium and as such the sources remained scattered. In view of the diffusion of resources there grew the risk that some traditions reported might be spurious or colored with the views or prejudices of the narrator.
Umar was the first to realize the necessity of the proper sifting of the traditions. Umar accordingly founded the science of Hadith. The practice with Umar was that if any new problem cropped up, Umar announced in the public assembly the point at issue, and inquired if any of them remembered any tradition of the Holy Prophet on the subject. Those who narrated any tradition were required to produce some witnesses in support of the tradition. If such statement was duly corroborated and was in accordance with the spirit of the Holy Quran as well as common sense it was adopted and applied to the facts of the case in hand. In this way a rich corpus of Hadith was built up. These were recorded and copies were supplied to all provinces for guidance. Umar deputed experts in Hadith to various provinces to educate the provincial officers in Hadith.
Umar classified the traditions in two broad categories. One category of traditions pertained to religious, moral and social affairs pertaining to the community at large. These matters emanated from the prophetic mission of the Holy Prophet. The other traditions revolved round the person of the Holy Prophet and pertained to his words and deeds as a human being. Umar distinguished between these two categories and took care to ensure that these two categories did not get mixed up. All matters falling in the first category were binding and had the status of law. The matters falling in the second category remained as ideals to be followed, but these did not have the status of law. Umar took particular care to disseminate all traditions falling in the second category. The traditions in the second category were sparingly reported or publicized.
Umar was alive to the danger that whatever was ascribed to the Holy Prophet, right or wrong would obtain currency and venerable acceptance. Umar evolved principles on the basis of which the traditions were to be accepted. The basic principles were:
- (1) The report should be literally faithful;
- (2) Every Hadith narrated should carry with it the name of the narrator and the chain of narrators;
- (3) The narrators must be men of proven faith and integrity;
- (4) In judging the veracity of a report the occasion and circumstances involved should be taken into consideration;
- (5) The report should not be repugnant to the Holy Quran;
- (6) The report should be rational.
There was some dispute about the number of takbirs to be said in funeral prayers. Sufficient evidence was adduced to the effect that the Holy Prophet offered four takbirs. It was accordingly laid down by Umar that in funeral prayers four takbirs should be said. The matters regarding bath for sexual impurity, Jizyah to be levied on Magians and other allied matters were decided in the light of authentic traditions of the Holy Prophet.
It is related that Abu Musa Ash'ari the Governor of Basra once came to see Umar and by way of permission said "Assalamulaikam". Umar was busy and did not pay attention to Abu Musa. Abu Musa repeated the greetings thrice and then went away. Umar had him recalled and enquired why he had gone away. Abu Musa said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say, "Ask permission thrice, and if you do not get permission go away". Umar asked for corroborative evidence in support of the tradition. Abu Musa produced the evidence and the tradition was accepted as a guide.
In the time of Umar a question arose whether a , woman who had been divorced but the divorce had not become I effective could remain in the house of her husband. A lady Fatima bint Qais stated before Umar that she had it on the authority of the Holy Prophet that such woman could no longer lodge with her husband. The Holy Quran clearly provided that such woman could lodge with her husband till the divorce became effective. Umar accordingly ruled: "We cannot abandon the Book of Allah on the word of a woman, for we do not know whether she remembers the tradition correctly or has forgotten it."
Lest the people should make mistakes in reporting Hadith direct from the Holy Prophet, Umar forbade the Companions to report direct from the Holy Prophet. Umar also enjoined that Hadith should not be mixed with the Quran. Lest there might be mistake in reporting. Umar enjoined, "Report sparingly from the Holy Prophet". When Umar was asked to quote traditions he would usually say "Had I not feared that I might make a mistake in reporting Hadith I would have quoted one." Umar emphasized that extra care should be taken to ensure that there was no mistake in reporting. The checks and restraints imposed by Umar on the reporting of traditions and the high standard of accuracy required by him paid dividends and all the traditions that were accepted and publicized were free from flaw.
Traditions On Religious Matters
Umar was very close to the Holy Prophet. He was very careful and cautious in reporting traditions. Over five hundred traditions are on record which are said to have been reported exclusively on the authority of Umar.
Some of the traditions on religious matters reported by Umar are noticed hereunder. The account is based on 'Sahih Bukhari'.
Umar said that he heard the Holy Prophet say:
"God created Adam, then passed His right hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring saying 'I have created these for paradise and they will do the deeds of those who go to paradise'. He then passed his hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring saying 'I have created these for hell and they will do the deeds of those who go to hell'." A man asked what was the good of doing anything. The Holy Prophet replied:
"When God creates a man for paradise He employs him in doing the deeds of those who will go to paradise, so that his final action before death is one of the deeds of those who go to paradise, for which He will bring him into paradise. But when He creates a man for hell He employs him in doing the deeds of those who will go to hell, so that his final actions before death are the deeds of those who go to hell, for which He will bring him into hell."
Umar stated that on the day of Khaibar some of the companions of the Holy Prophet stated that so and so were martyrs, but when they came to a man about whom they said "So and so is a martyr", the Holy Prophet declared "By no means. I have seen him in hell in a cloak which he took dishonestly."
The Holy Prophet asked Umar: "Go, Ibn al-Khattab and announce among the people three times that only the believers will enter paradise."
In compliance with these instructions, Umar went out and announced three times "Only the believers will enter paradise."
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"Do not sit with those who believe in freewill and do not address them before they address you."
The Holy Prophet, according to Umar said:
"If any one performs the ablution completely, then says 'I testify that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger', the eight gates of paradise will be opened for him, and he may enter by whichsoever of them he wishes."
Umar said, "The Prophet saw me standing and passing water and said Umar do not pass water standing' and I never did it again."
The Holy Prophet said, "Do not wash in water which has been exposed to the sun for it produces leprosy."
The Holy Prophet said:
"If four persons give a good testimony about any Muslim, God will cause him to enter paradise."
The Holy Prophet was asked whether this would apply if three testified and he said it would they further asked if it applied if two testified and he said it would but they did not ask him about one.
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"Should any one fall asleep and fail to recite his portion of the Quran or a part of it, if he recites it between the dawn and the noon prayer, it will be recorded of him as though he had recited it during the night."
"I heard Hisham b Hakim b Hizam reciting Sura al Furqan in a different way from my way of reciting it the way that God's Messenger had taught me. I nearly spoke sharply to him, but I delayed till he had finished, and then catching his cloak at the neck I brought him to God's Messenger and said: 'Messenger of God, I heard this man reciting Sura al Furqan in a manner different from that in which you taught me to recite it'. The Holy Prophet told me to leave him, and then turning to him asked him to recite. When he recited it in the manner in which I had heard him recite it, God's Messenger said, 'Thus was it sent down'. He then asked me to recite it, and when I had done so, he said 'Thus was it sent down'. I was surprised and the Holy Prophet said, 'The Quran was sent down in seven modes of reading, so recite according to what comes most easily."
About the Holy Quran, Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"By this Book, God exalts some people, and lowers others." Umar said that God's Messenger used to seek refuge in God from five things, namely:
- (1) Cowardliness;
- (2) Niggardliness;
- (3) Evils of old age;
- (4) Evil thoughts; and
- (5) Punishment of the grave.
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"Among God's servants there are people who are neither prophets nor martyrs but whose position in relation to God will be an object of desire by the prophets and martyrs on the day of resurrection."
The people wanted to know who were such people and the Holy Prophet said:
"They are people who have loved one another by reason of God's spirit, and were giving gifts to one another without being related or having common property. I swear that their faces will be light, and they will be placed upon light, neither fearing when men fear, nor grieving when men grieve."
Umar said that the Holy Prophet sent to Najd an expedition which took much booty and came back quickly.
A man who had not gone out said, "We have never seen an expedition return more quickly or bring finer booty than this one".
Thereupon the Holy Prophet said:
"Shall I not indicate to you people who have most excellent booty and a most excellent return? They are people who have been present at the morning prayer, then sat mentioning of God till the sun rose. They have the quickest return and the most excellent booty."
Umar stated that he heard God's Messenger say:
"Four rakaat before the noon prayer after the sun has passed the meridian are reckoned equivalent to a similar number at the dawn prayer. There is nothing which does not glorify God at that hour."
Umar said that then the Holy Prophet recited:
"Their shadows turn round from the right and the left prostrating themselves to God."
Umar said that he asked the Holy Prophet about the injunction:
"You may shorten your prayer if you fear those who are infidels may afflict you."
About this the Holy Prophet elaborated:
"It is an act of charity which God has done to you, so accept His charity."
About the call to prayer, Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"When the Muezzin says 'God is most great, God is most great', and you make the response 'God is most great, God is most great', then says 'I testify that there is no god but God', then says 'I testify that Muhammad is God's Messenger', and you make the response 'I testify that Muhammad is God's Messenger', then says 'Come to prayer', and you make the response 'There is no might and no power except in God', then says 'Come to salvation', and he makes the response 'God is most great; God is most great', then says There is no god but God', and if you say this from heart, you will go to paradise."
Traditions Of Ethical Importance
Some traditions of the Holy Prophet of ethical importance have been reported by Umar.
Umar reported that the Holy Prophet said:
"Deeds are to be judged only by intentions, and a man will have only what he intended. When one's emigration is to God and His Messenger his emigration is to God and His Messenger, but when his emigration is to a worldly end at which he aims or to a woman whom he marries his emigration is to that to which he has emigrated".
Umar reported God's Messenger as saying:
"If any one says, on seeing some one who is suffering affliction 'Praise be to God Who has kept me free from the affliction He has brought on him and has shown me favor above many whom He has created, that affliction, whatever it may be, will not smite him."
Umar said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say: "An oath or a vow to disobey the Lord or to break ties of relationship or about something over which one has no control is not binding on you."
Umar stated that he heard the Holy Prophet say "Give the road its due". He was asked what was the road's due. The Holy Prophet replied:
- Lowering the eyes.
- Removing anything offensive.
- Returning salutations.
- Recommending what is reputable.
- Forbidding what is disreputable.
- Helping the sorrowful.
- Guiding people on their way.
Umar reported that the Holy Prophet taught him to say:
"O God make my inner nature better than my outer, and make my outer nature good. O God I ask Thee to give me some of the abundance Thou givest to men, in family, property and children, which neither strays nor leads astray. "
Umar stated that he heard the Holy Prophet say:
"He who is humble for God's sake will be exalted by God, for though he considers himself lowly he is great in the eyes of men; but he who is proud will be abased by God for though he considers himself great he is lowly in the eyes of men to such an extent that he is of less value in their estimation than a dog or a pig."
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"In the last days my people will be afflicted with distresses from their rulers from which no one will escape but a man who knows God's religion and strives on its behalf with his tongue, his hand and his heart, that being the one who will have surpassing felicity in Heaven; a man who knows God's religion and believes in it; and a man who knows God's religion but keeps quiet about it, who if he sees some one doing good loves him for it; that one will escape for all that he kept concealed in his heart."
Umar stated that once he went to see the Holy Prophet and found him lying on a reed mat without any cover. The marks of the mat were on the body of the Holy Prophet. The room was bare and there was no sign of any comfort.
Umar said to the Holy Prophet:
"O Messenger of God supplicate God to enrich your people for He has enriched the Persians and the Byzantines, and yet they worship him not."
The Holy Prophet replied, "Is that how you feel, Ibn-ul-Khattab? These people have been given their good things in advance in the present world. Are you not pleased that they should have the present world, and we should have the next?"
Umar said that he went one day to the Prophet's mosque, and in the way found Mu'adh b Jabal sitting on the Prophet's grave weeping. Umar asked him what was making him weep and he replied that it was something which he had heard from God's Messenger. He had heard him say, "A little hypocrisy is polytheism, and any one who is hostile to a friend of God has gone forth to fight with God. God loves the upright, pious and retiring ones who are not missed when they are absent, and are not given invitations or treated with honor when they are present. Their hearts are the lamps of guidance and they come forth from every dusty and dark place."
Umar and Fiqh
Umar was the founder of Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence. Over one thousand juristic pronouncements of Umar are on record. All the four schools of law in Islamic jurisprudence follow the law laid down by Umar. The pronouncements of Umar are cited in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaiba. These are also found in Shah Wali Ullah's book Faraq's Fiqh.
Umar not only declared the law; he also established principles of inference and construction and formulated rules therefore. He distinguished between the acts of the Holy Prophet performed in pursuance of his prophetic mission and the acts that he performed as an ordinary man. All that the Holy Prophet did in the first capacity was held by Umar to be binding and a basic source of law. In matters falling in the second category room remained for devising new laws to suit the changing conditions and circumstances.
Umar also laid down the principle of Qiyas or logical deduction. According to this principle when the Quran and the Hadith did not mention the details of law on any point, such law could be arrived at by logical deduction. In his instructions to his judicial officers Umar said:
"When you do not find a judgment on an issue in the Quran or Hadith and you are in doubt about it, ponder over the question and ponder again. Then look for dicta on like and similar issues, and decide accordingly."
In addition to these fundamental principles Umar enunciated numerous rules about inference and generalization of laws which form the basis of Islamic jurisprudence,
When some one asked Umar's verdict on a mere academic question which had not actually arisen, Umar forbade people raising hypothetical propositions.
Umar held that one should not urinate standing.
Umar was asked whether one could perform the ablution with sea water. Umar answered the question in the affirmative.
Umar was asked whether one could perform ablution with water taken from a non-Muslim. Umar found no objection to such ablution.
Umar was asked whether one who has had sexual intercourse could perform Tayammum and offer prayers. Umar said that for him bath was essential.
Umar was very strict about the offering of prayers. He issued instructions to the provincial Governors that their foremost duty was the offering of prayer.
Umar was asked as to the time for the morning prayer. He said "In the shadow of the twinkling stars".
Umar held that the prayer of Zuhr should be delayed as far as possible and the prayer of Isha should be offered as early as possible.
Umar was asked: if the meals are ready and it is also the time for prayers, which should be given priority. Umar said "first take your meals".
When Umar saw a person offering prayer by the roadside he was advised to pray in the mosque.
Umar forbade the people to talk loudly in the mosque.
Umar enjoined that one should not come to the mosque having eaten some thing which produces a bitter smell.
Umar was very particular that when offering prayers in congregation the lines should be straight.
Umar held that journey on a Friday was not forbidden.
Umar enjoined that around a person on death bed one should recite the article of faith.
When one of the wives of Umar died Umar led the funeral prayers himself.
Umar held that in one's shroud three sheets were enough.
Umar ruled that on the occasion of a funeral prayers four Takbirs should be offered.
Umar held that in a garden those trees the fruit whereof was reserved for distribution among the poor were exempt from Zakat.
Umar held that if any thing was given as Sadaqa it could not be repurchased whatever the price or consideration.
Umar held that when a man was under debt, he should offer Zakat on the value of his property after deducting the amount of the debt.
Umar held that one should not fast unless he had seen the moon of Ramazan and he should not fast after he had seen the Eid moon.
Umar advised the people to keep a fast on the tenth of the Muharram.
Umar insisted that in the month of Hajj priority should be given to the Hajj and not to Umra.
Umar prohibited the sale of wine.
Umar held that one should not purchase anything already mortgaged with him.
Umar held that if one passed through a garden he could pick up fruit that had fallen on the ground.
Umar forbade Mutah.
Umar held that where three talaqs were announced simultaneously such divorce would be irrevocable.
Umar held that a slave woman who bore children to her master stood emancipated.
Umar held that justice should not be delayed.
Umar enjoined his officers to dispatch the State business expeditiously.
Umar held that in the court the Judge should not be praised.
All acts should be judged according to the test of public interest.
Any act which did not harm any one and was otherwise not forbidden under law was permissible.
In the famous Fidak case Umar held that the property which vested in the Holy Prophet vested after him in the State and not in his heirs.
Matters About Fiqh
"I provided a man with a horse to ride on God's path, but as he who had it did not look after it well, I wanted to buy it, and I thought he would sell it at a cheap price. I therefore asked the Prophet, but he said 'Do not buy it, and do not take back what you gave as Sadaqa even if he gives it to you for a Dirham, for the one who takes back what he gave as Sadaqa is like a dog which returns to its vomit."
"Once, captives came to the Holy Prophet among whom was a woman whose breast was oozing with milk. She was running and when she found a child among the captives she took him, put him to her breast and suckled him. Then the Prophet said to us 'Do you think this woman will cast her child into the fire?' We replied 'Not so long as she is in a position not to do so'. He said 'God is more merciful to His servants than this woman to her child."
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"Gold for gold is usury unless both hand over on the spot; silver for silver is usury unless both hand over on the spot; wheat for wheat is usury unless both hand over on the spot; barley for barley is usury unless both hand over on the spot; dates for dates is usury unless both hand over on the spot."
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"He who brings goods for sale is blessed with good fortune, but he who keeps them till the price rises is accursed."
Umar also reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
"If any one keeps grain from the Muslims waiting for the, price to rise, God will smite him with tubercular leprosy and insolvency."
"God sent Muhammad with the truth and sent down the Book to him, and the verse of stoning was included in what God Most High sent down. God's Messenger had people stoned to death and we have done it also since his death. Stoning is a duty laid down in God's Book for married men and women who commit fornication when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy, or a confession."
Umar said that a man called Abdullah whose nome-de-plume was 'ass' used to make the Prophet laugh. The Prophet had beaten him because of wine drinking, but when he was brought to him one day and he gave orders and had him beaten, and then one of those present said, "O God curse him; how often he is brought', the Prophet said, "Do not curse him. I swear by God that for all I know he loves God and His Messenger."
Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:
When you find that a man has been unfaithful with regard to spoils in God's way, burn his goods and beat him."
Umar stated that the Holy Prophet reserved three things exclusively to himself namely: the Banu an Nadir; Khaibar; and Fidak. The Banu an-Nadhir property was kept wholly for his own purposes. Fidak was kept for travelers. Khaibar was divided into three sections, two for the Muslims and one for the maintenance of his family. If anything remained after meeting the needs of his family, that was divided among the poor Muhajreen.
Friends Who Could Straighten Him
True to the title 'Al-Farooq', Umar was an embodiment of truth. He did not hesitate to speak the truth, in the best interests of the Muslim State. Such truth was sometimes bitter, and the people held him in awe.
Some people understood him, and appreciated his sterling qualities of courage, conviction, and truthfulness. Some people misjudged him and felt that he was unduly hard and harsh with the people.
Umar knew that he was more feared than loved. Under a stern exterior, Umar had a heart full of the milk of human kindness. Whenever Umar came across a person who was in distress or was in any way oppressed, Umar was all sympathy for him, and he did all he could to alleviate his distress.
Umar did often reflect and ponder over the responsibilities that had come to vest in him and the way he discharged them. He did not feel very happy with the equation between himself and the people. He regretted that the people did not understand him properly.
Hudhaifa a prominent companion has left on record that one day he went to see Umar and found that he was feeling much perturbed. Seeing the disturbed state of the mind of Umar, Hudhaifa enquired as to what was the matter.
"I was feeling unhappy that the people have awe of me. They generally avoid me, and hesitate to bring my shortcomings to my notice. I was just thinking as to what, would happen if I were to fall in erroneous ways, and because of the awe that the people have of me, no one comes forward to restrain me."
Thereupon Hudhaifa said:
"Your awe is because of the truth at your command. If you deviate from the path of truth, the people will not be afraid to call you to account. Verily if I see that you are in the wrong, I will fix you up, and straighten you."
At this Umar felt very happy. He said:
"Thank God, there are friends who will straighten me when I err. If I have such friends around me, I need have no fear of falling into error."
The Man Who Came To Murder Became A Convent
By 638 A.D., the whole of Syria was under the occupation of the Muslims. Heraclius the Byzantine emperor had left Syria and withdrawn his forces. His parting words were:
"Farewell Syria, never again will I come to this beautiful land. What a fine country I am leaving for the enemy."
Some of the Christian Arabs felt grieved at the discomfiture of the Christians at the hands of the Muslims. In a spirit of fanaticism they vowed vengeance against the Muslims. Having failed to defeat the Muslims on the battlefield they decided to resort to underhand means and murder some high ranking Muslims. A Ghassanid Arab Wasiq by name undertook to murder Umar the Caliph of Islam.
Wasiq waited on Heraclius at Constantinople, and volunteered to rid the Byzantine emperor of his enemies. The scheme appealed to Heraclius. He paid Wasiq a huge sum and promised to pay much more when he succeeded in his mission. Thus patronized, Wasiq decided to proceed to Madina.
Arab as he was, Wasiq found no difficulty in coming over to Madina in cognito. He posed himself as a Muslim coming from the interior of the desert to pay a visit to Madina. Wasiq carried a poisoned dagger carefully hidden in the folds of his cloak. Having reached Madina, he was on the look out for a suitable opportunity when he could come face to face with the Caliph of Islam, and kill him with his dagger in an unguarded moment.
He had thought that the ruler of the Muslim state would be surrounded by heavy body-guards at all times and it would be difficult to reach him. He was surprised to learn in Madina that there were no body-guards around the Caliph of Islam. Wasiq felt happy that unguarded as the Caliph was, he could easily get an opportunity to fulfill his mission.
Wasiq waited for a suitable opportunity. One day at noon Wasiq found Umar sleeping under a tree, all alone and without any guard. There was no body near at hand. Wasiq thought that this was a golden opportunity for him and he could dispatch the Caliph of Islam without any difficulty.
Cautiously with measured steps and hushed breath Wasiq stepped upto Umar and took his sword. He was about to plunge his sword in the body of Umar when his eyes fell on the face of Umar. The sight of the unadorned majesty of the pious Caliph sent a shudder through the body of Wasiq, and the sword dropped from his trembling hands. With the noise of the dropping of the sword, Umar opened his eyes. He was quick to take hold of the fallen sword and then rising up faced his would be assassin.
Wasiq fell at the feet of the Caliph, implored his forgiveness and embraced Islam.
Criticism Against Umar
One day in a Friday address Umar said that he had tried to serve Islam and the Muslims to the best of his capacity. He added that being a human being he was apt to make mistakes. He requested the faithful to point out his mistakes if any, so that he may correct himself.
After the prayers Umman bin Sawad stepped upto Umar and said that he wanted to apprise him of his mistakes. Umar invited him to come along to his house where they could talk over the matter at leisure.
Umman bin Sawad said that he had no intention of criticizing the Caliph; as a well wisher he merely wanted to bring some points to his notice. Umar said that such observations and counsels were most welcome to him.
Umman bin Sawad said that he had four objections and these were:
- (1) That Umar had prohibited Umra in the month of Hajj;
- (2) That Umar had declared Mut'ah unlawful.
- (3) That Umar had emancipated slave girls who bore their masters children.
- (4) That Umar was harsh and stern.
Umar enquired whether these were all the objections against him or whether there were any other objections as well. Umman said that these were the only points of criticism against him.
About the first charge Umar said:
"I have not prohibited Umra. My only instructions are that in the month of Hajj priority should be given to Hajj over the Umra. Some of the persons were prone to think that when they had performed the Umra that was enough and that thereafter Hajj need not be performed. Such a course was derogatory to Hajj and in order to preserve the integrity and sanctity of Hajj. I have merely instructed that in the month of Hajj, the pilgrims should concentrate on the Hajj. In the other months it is open to them to perform Umra."
About the Mutah, Umar said:
"Mutah was an ancient practice with the Arabs. The Holy Prophet did not like the practice though he tolerated it on some occasions due to special circumstances. Even then on at least two occasions he prohibited the practice. God has spoken of the sanctity of the marriage ties, and if the marriage is held sacred on one side and Mutah is allowed on the other that would be inconsistent. If Mutah is allowed that would be a sort of sanctioned prostitution. That is repugnant to Islam. If any person marries the idea is to establish a home. If a person marries for a few specified days that is foreign to the establishment of a home. Mutah is thus repugnant to Islam. If any person wants to dissolve the marriage after a few days it is open to him to give the divorce in the usual way. I have prohibited Mutah in the interests of the sanctity and integrity of Muslim homes. That is a social reform. There is no express injunction allowing Mutah and by disallowing it I have not contravened any provisions of Islamic law."
As regards the emancipation of slave girls, Umar explained:
"We have already laid down that no Arab can be a slave. If the slave girls were not emancipated there would have been the anomaly that while the children were free their mother was not free. Moreover for every marriage there is a dower. In the case of slave girls the dower is that when they become mothers they would be emancipated. This is a humanitarian reform strictly in accordance with the Spirit of Islam."
As regards the fourth charge Umar said:
"I am harsh and stern only for the wrong doer, the tyrant and the oppressor. For the weak and the meek I am never harsh or stern."
After hearing these explanations Umman bin Sawad said: "Verily Umar you have spoken the truth. You have done well in whatever you have done. You have acted in the interests of Islam. May God bless you. No blame rests on you."
The Eid Moon
Uqba bin Farqad was the Governor of Azarbaijan. It was the month of the Ramadan. When 29 fasts were over the faithful gathered to sight the Eid moon, but no moon was seen. Uqba bin Farqad accordingly ordered that the fast should be kept for the thirtieth day of the Ramdan as well.
The next day Uqba kept the fast, and went on tour in the interior of the country. The Governor said the noon prayers and then retired to rest. When he woke up, he was told that the new moon was visible in the sky. Uqba went out and he saw that though there were yet a few hours for the sun to set, the moon was visible in the sky.
On sighting the moon, the Governor summoned the Ulema and sought for their opinion about the observance of the fast in the Eid. The consensus of opinion was that after the noon had been sighted the observance of the fast was not lawful. In deference to this opinion Uqba broke the fast before sunset and other Muslims did likewise.
A difficulty, however, arose about the celebration of the Eid. It was so late in the day that Eid could not be celebrated hat day. After consulting the Ulema Uqba decided that trough the fast was to be broken, the Eid was to be celebrated he following day.
As the issue involved an important question of religious aw, Uqba referred the case to Umar for the final verdict in matters concerning the sighting of the moon in daylight and the celebration of the Eid.
When the case was referred to Umar, he gave the following decision:
"When you see the moon in the earlier part of the day you should break the fast and celebrate the Eid. A moon appearing in the earlier part of the day is indicative of the fact that it actually appeared on the horizon the previous night, but for some reason could not be seen. When you see the moon in the later part of the day keep the fast an celebrate the Eid on the following day. Sometimes the moon is bigger and it becomes visible before the evening but it is not a moon of the previous day. It is really for the day to follow. Moon seen in the earlier part of the day belongs to the previous day and the moon seen in the later part belongs to the following day."
Umar's Attitude To Sinners
Some time in 639 A.D. the year of the famine and the plague some Muslims in Syria drank wine. When called to question, they argued that in the Holy Quran, no definite punishment was prescribed for drinking and as such they were not liable to any punishment. Abu Ubaida reported the matter to Umar.
In reply, Umar instructed Abu Ubaida to call the delinquents to the mosque and there before the congregation ask them whether they considered drinking lawful or unlawful. If they considered it lawful they should be deemed to have apostatized and in that case they should meet the penalty for apostasy namely death. If they held that drinking was unlawful then they should be inflicted eighty lashes. Umar explained that although the Holy Quran did not provide the penalty for drinking, it did not forbid the prescription of such penalty. The State could therefore in public interest prescribe a penalty. The State had after due deliberation provided a penalty of 80 lashes and this was in no way repugnant to Islam.
When the instructions of Umar were received at Emessa, Abu Ubaida called the delinquents to the mosque. These included Zarrar bin Azwar and Abu Jandal. There before the congregation Abu Ubaida put them the question whether they regarded drinking as lawful or unlawful. They held that they regarded it unlawful. Abu Ubaida then said that if they had done an unlawful thing they exposed themselves to punishment. They argued that no punishment was due as none had been prescribed by the Quran. Abu Ubadia explained in the terms of the instructions of Umar that when a person was guilty of an unlawful act, the State could prescribe a penalty. Abu Ubaida accordingly inflicted on the delinquents the punishment of eighty stripes.
The delinquents took the punishment to heart. Abu Jandal was particularly very disconsolate. He locked himself in his house and refused to come out and face the people. Abu Ubaida felt for him and reported the matter to Umar. Thereupon Umar wrote a conciliatory letter. He wrote:
"It is a fact that when you violate the principle of the unity of God, and create rivals to Allah the sin is too serious to be forgiven. Allah does not forgive this sin. As regards other sins God in His Mercy and Kindness forgives such sins when one is repentant. Allah says 'O my people, if you transgress and then repent do not despair of the mercy of Allah for He is Forgiving and Merciful."
In the letter Umar advised Abu Jandal to seek the forgiveness of Allah and come out of his house and attend to the affairs of the world as usual. To the general public Umar advised in the letter:
"Do not exult over the sins of others. Do not ridicule them. If they are repentant help them in the process of repentance so that Allah may forgive them."
When the letter of Umar was received, Abu Ubaida called Abu Jandal and other delinquents to the mosque and there read the letter of Umar before the gathering. The letter had the necessary solacing effect. The delinquents repented and then applied for being sent to some expedition on Jihad. Abu Ubaida sent them to fight and they fought with a sense of dedication.
Umar's Wife Acts As A Midwife
It was the usual practice of Umar that he would patrol the streets and suburbs of Madina to watch the interests of the people, and attend to their needs.
One day Umar noticed a tent pitched in an open space outside Madina. A person was sitting outside the tent, and some one inside the tent was groaning.
Umar went to the man, greeted him, and wanted to know who he was.
The man said that he was a man of the desert, and had come to Madina to wait on the Commander of the Faithful and seek his assistance.
Umar next asked who was groaning inside the tent. The man said that inside the tent his wife was groaning with labor pains. He said that he was a stranger in Madina and did not know what to do. Umar enquired whether he had any woman to look after the confinement of his wife. He said that there was none.
Umar said, "Do not worry. I will make the necessary arrangements."
Umar came home, and asked his wife Umm Kulsum to accompany him on a mission of service. Umm Kulsum got ready and took with her such things as might be needed for the purposes of confinement. Umar took with him some provisions for the purposes of cooking a meal.
Umar returned to the camp with his wife. Umm Kulsum went inside the tent to attend to the woman in pain, while Umar sat outside the tent with the Bedouin and began cooking some meals for him.
After an hour or so when the meals had been cooked, Umm Kulsum from inside the tent addressed Umar: Amirul Mominin! Congratulate your guest on the birth of a son."
Hearing this the Bedouin felt much embarrassed. Turning to Umar he said, "Amirul Mominin, why did you not reveal your identity? You have overwhelmed me with your benevolence."
Umar put all his fears to rest saying: "That's all right. There is nothing to worry about. Thank God I have been of some service to you at the time of your need. You may come to me tomorrow and I will see what can be done further to help you".
It was late at night when Umar and Umm Kulsum left. The Bedouin thanked God and said: "God be praised. I came to seek the Commander of the Faithful, and God sent the Commander of the Faithful to seek me."
Umar Marries A Milkmaid To his Son
One night, Umar as usual went in disguise with his comrade Ibn Abbas to see the condition of the people. They strolled from one quarter to another. At last they came to a colony where very poor people lived.
While passing by a small hutment, the Caliph heard a whispering talk within. The mother was telling her daughter that the amount fetched by her that day on account of the sale of milk was very little. She told her that when she was young, and used to sell milk, she always mixed water with milk, and that led to considerable profit. She advised her daughter to do the same.
The girl said, "You adulterated milk, when you were not a Muslim. Now that we are Muslims, we cannot adulterate milk."
The mother said that Islam did not stand in the way of he adulteration of milk.
The daughter said, "Have you forgotten the Caliph's order? He wants that the milk should not be adulterated."
The mother said, "But the Caliph has forgotten us. Were so poor, what else should we do but adulterate milk in order to win bread?"
The daughter said "Such a bread would not be lawful, and as a Muslim I would not do anything which is against he orders of the Caliph, and whereby other Muslims are deceived."
The mother said, "But there is neither the Caliph nor any of his officers here to see what we do. Daughter you are still a child. Go to bed now and tomorrow I will myself mix the milk with water for you."
The girl refused to fall in with the plan of her mother. She said, "Caliph may or may not be here, but his order is order, and it must be obeyed. My conscience is My Caliph. You may escape the notice of the Caliph and his officers, but how can we escape the notice of Allah and our own conscience?"
Thereupon the mother remained quiet. The lamp was extinguished and the mother and the daughter went to sleep.
The next day, Umar sent a man to purchase milk from the girl. The milk was unadulterated. The girl had kept her resolve.
Umar turned to his companion and said, "The girl has kept her resolve in spite of the exhortation of her mother. She deserves a reward. What reward should I give her?"
"She should be paid some money" said Ibn Abbas.
Umar said, 'Such a girl would become a great mother Her integrity is not to be weighed with a few coins; it is to be measured in the scale of national values. I shall offer her the highest award in my gift, and which shall also be in the highest interest of the nation."
The Caliph summoned the daughter and the mother to his court. The mother trembled as she stood before the mighty ruler. But the girl faced the Caliph boldly and with great equanimity. She was beautiful, and there was an impressive dignity about her.
Then before the gathering, Umar related how he had overheard the mother and the daughter, and how in spite of the exhortations of the mother the daughter had kept he resolve.
Someone suggested that the mother should be taken the task. The Caliph said that ordinarily he would have punished the mother, but he had forgiven her for the sake of he daughter. Turning to the girl the great Caliph said, "Islam needs daughters like you, and as a Caliph of Islam it devolve on me to reward you by owning you as a daughter".
The Caliph called his sons, and addressing them said "Here is a gem of a girl who would make a great mother. I desire that one of you should take this girl as wife. I know of no better bride than this girl of sterling character. In matters of wedlock, it should be the character, and not the stature in life that should count."
Abdullah and Abdur Rahman the elder sons of the Caliph were already married. Asim the third son was yet unmarried, and he offered to marry the girl. Thereupon with the consent of the milkmaid and her mother Asim was married to the girl, and the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Caliph.
From this union was born a daughter Umm Asim, who became in due course the mother of Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Umar bin Abdul Aziz became a Caliph in due course.
While other Caliphs of the Ummayad dynasty reveled in luxury, Umar bin Abdul Aziz as a Caliph set up standards for austerity and simplicity following in the footsteps of Umar the second Caliph of Islam. It is said that if ever there was a noble Caliph after the 'Rightly guided Caliphs', such a man was Umar bin Abdul Aziz. And he inherited the noble qualities of the milkmaid who married the Caliph's son, and those of Umar Farooq who had the eye to discern the nobler qualities of sterling character in a poor girl.
Umar Flogs His Son To Death
Abu Shahma was a son of Umar. He fought in the battles in Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt he built a house for himself in Fustat.
One day in the company of a friend he inadvertently drank wine and became unconscious. The following day he went with his friend to Amr bin Al Aas, confessed their guilt, and wanted to be punished. Amr bin Al Aas said that as they had drunk the wine inadvertently, and were feeling repentant, that was enough and no further punishment was called for.
Abu Shahma did not wish to avail of the benefit of inadvertence. He insisted that he should be punished according to law, failing which he would bring the matter to the notice of the Caliph. Thereupon Arm bin Al Aas inflicted the usual punishment of lashes in the compound of his house. Abu Shahma's head was also shaved off in the house of the Governor.
The Reporter reported the matter to Umar, and Umar addressed a letter to Amr b. Al Aas in strong terms as follows:
"O Amr bin Al Aas it has come to my notice that you have been derelict in the performance of your duty. You have shown undue favor to Abu Shahma by awarding him punishment in your house rather than at a public place. You were apparently moved by the consideration that he is my son. You should know that in such matters I cannot tolerate any concession to a person on the ground that he is related to me. As soon as you get this letter send Abu Shahma to Medina on a naked camel."
Amr bin Al Aas complied with the instructions and dispatched Abu Shahma to Madina. In the way Abu Shahma fell sick and when he reached Madina he could hardly walk.
Umar was furious, and he ordered that Abu Shahma should be lashed in the public. Abdul Rahman b. Auf pleaded that the boy had already been lashed in Egypt and no further punishment was called for Abu Shahma said that he was suffering, and the punishment should be deferred till he was recovered.
Umar brushed aside these pleadings Abu Shahma was flogged publicly. Abu Shahma could not withstand the ordeal He fell senseless after a few stripes had been inflicted. He remained in a state of agony for a few days and then died a martyr to the highly developed sense of justice of his father.
The Woman Who Pined For Her Husband
In the wars that were conducted during the rule of Umar, the soldiers on the front remained absent for considerable periods. Umar introduced the reform that leave should be granted to every soldier after he had served on the front for four months. A story is recorded as to how this reform was brought about.
It is related that one night Umar went on his round in Madina as usual. It was the dead of night, and every where was quiet. From one of the houses in the street, Umar heard a lady lamenting. She said:
"The night is wearisome and keeps me sleepless;
For I have none to keep me company.
I fear Allah, Who keeps watch over our souls,
And would not take another companion,
But who could tell Umar,
That he should not be so cruel,
As to keep my husband away from me,
For such a long period."
Umar knocked at the door, and when the lady came to the door he said:
"I have heard, what you wanted to be conveyed to Umar.
How long has your husband been away."
The lady said, "About a year."
Umar said, "Rest assured your husband would come back to you shortly."
Umar consulted Hafsa as to the maximum period for which a man might remain separate from his wife. She suggested a period of four months. Umar accordingly issued orders to the effect that unless a man of the armed forces could take his wife with him, he should be allowed a spell of leave after every four months of active service on the front.
Umar And His Whip
It is related that once while riding a camel, the whip of Umar dropped. Many persons who saw the whip fall rushed to pick up the whip to hand it over to the Caliph. Umar asked them to mind their own business, and not to bother about his whip. Umar dismounted and picked up his whip himself.
Iqbal has dramatized the episode in his classic poem 'The Secrets of the Self'. Iqbal exhorts:
"Like Umar, come down from the camel,
Beware of incurring obligations, beware"
From this episode, Iqbal deduces a code of conduct, the highlights whereof are:
"Do not incur the obligation of any person,
Do not debase yourself by receiving benefits.
Self is weakened by asking; asking disintegrates the Self,
By asking, poverty is made more abject.
By begging, the beggar is made poorer,
Even if you are poor and overwhelmed by affliction,
Do not seek your bread by the bounty of another."
Iqbal further elaborates:
"God loves a man that earns his living;
Woe to him that accepts bounty from another's table.
The more your hands are empty, the more you are master of yourself.
Seek no favors and walk with your head erect like the pine.
Sweet is a little dew gathered by one's own hand,
Be a man of honor, and like the bubble
Keep the cup inverted even in the midst of the sea."
Umar's Care For The Poor
It was the year of the famine. Umar took pains to ensure that adequate relief reached all people, and that there were no persons in the city who went to sleep hungry.
One night as usual Umar went on his round. He was accompanied by his slave Aslam. As he strolled from street to street all was quiet and the people seemed to be asleep. Umar thought to himself, "Thank God, there is no one in this city whom the famine has afflicted."
Then as he turned a corner he saw a cottage where light was burning, and from where the sound of the weeping of the children was heard. Umar went to the cottage. He saw that the lady of the house was cooking something on the hearth, and the children were crying.
Umar knocked at the gate, and addressing the lady of the house Umar enquired why were the children crying. She said that they were crying because they were hungry. "And what are you cooking", asked Umar. The lady said that in the kettle there was only water and stones. That was to while away the children that food was being cooked for them. She hoped that exhausted the children would go to sleep.
Hearing this tale of woe, Umar felt guilty. He had thought that because of the arrangements made by him, no one was afflicted in the city and here was a family which was starving. Umar said to the lady that he would arrange relief for her family immediately.
Umar went to the Baitul Mal. There he put the necessary provisions in a bag and carried the bag to the cottage. His slave insisted that he would carry the bag, but Umar said that he would carry his burden himself. Umar handed over the bag of provisions to the lady. Umar sat by the hearth and helped the lady cook the meals. When the meals were ready the children were awakened and served with the delicious meals. As the children ate to their fill and were satisfied they smiled the smile of happiness. Seeing the destitute children smile Umar also felt happy.
Umar enquired of the lady whether there was none to support. She said that the father of the children had died, and there was no body to support. Whatever little was in the house had been gradually used up and they were starving since the last three days.
Umar asked the lady why she had not brought her distress to the notice of the Caliph. The lady said that in spite of her poverty she had some sense of self-respect and she could not go and beg the Caliph for any favor. She added that it was incumbent on the Caliph to ascertain that there was no one in his charge who was starving.
Umar said, "You are right. Please excuse me for the remissness in the past. For the future it will be my responsibility to see that your wants are satisfied."
And when the lady realized that the man who had come to her relief was the Caliph himself, she felt satisfied that the Caliph had discharged his onerous responsibilities creditably.
A Persian Stabbed Umar
After the battle of Nihawand, many Persians, men, women, and children were taken as captives by the Muslims. The captives were sold as slaves. One of these slaves was Firoz alias Abu Lulu. He was purchased by Mughirah Shu'bah the Governor of Basra. This Firoz was a craftsman, a carpenter, an iron smith and a painter. Umar did not allow non-Muslim adult captives to reside in Madina. Mughirah sought special permission for the residence of Firoz in Madina on the ground that as he was a skilled craftsman, he would be of service to the people. Umar gave the permission as a special case.
One day, Firoz waited on Umar and complained that the tax which his master Mughirah was exacting from him was too high. He wanted the Caliph to reduce the levy. Umar enquired what work did he do. He said that he worked as a carpenter, painter, and an ironsmith. He added that he could make windmills as well. Umar next enquired as to the amount of the tax that he was required to pay to his master. He said that he had to pay two dirhams a day. Umar said that keeping in view the lucrative nature of the jobs done by him, the levy of two dirhams a day was prima facie not excessive. Umar said that he would, however, write to Mughirah, and examine the question further in the light of what Mughirah said. That did not satisfy Firoz, and he went away sulking.
Umar wrote to Mughirah, and in reply Mughirah quoted facts and figures to establish that what he took from his slave was by no means excessive. When Firoz called on Umar again, Umar explained to him that as the levy was not excessive, no reduction therein was called for that made Firoz angry. In order to humor Firoz, Umar said, "I understand you make windmills; make one for me as well." In a sullen mood, Firoz said, "Verily I will make such a mill for you, that the world would talk about it." As Firoz went away, the Caliph told the people around him that the Persian slave had threatened him.
There were Persian children slaves in Madina. Seeing them, Firoz would say, "You have been enslaved at such a tender age. This Umar sees eaten my heart. I will take his heart out". He made for himself a dagger with a very sharp edge and smeared it with poison.
On the 1st of November 644 A.D. at the time of the morning prayer, Firoz went with his dagger to the Prophet's mosque and hid himself in a corner in one of the recesses of the mosque. When the faithful stood for prayer after straightening the lines, and Umar took up his position as the Imam to lead the prayer, Firoz emerged from his place of hiding and rushed at Umar. Firoz struck Umar six consecutive blows with his dagger, and Umar fell on the floor profusely bleeding.
Other persons rushed at Firoz, but he had the fury and frenzy of a desperate man about him. He struck right and left, and thirteen Muslims were wounded, some of them fatally, before Firoz could be overpowered. At last realizing that he could not escape, Firoz stabbed himself to death with his own dagger.
Umar On Death Bed
From the mosque Umar was carried home. When he regained consciousness he asked who was his murderer. He was told that his murderer was the Persian slave Firoz. Thereupon Umar said, "Praise be to God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim".
The physician administered him date cordial and milk. These could not be digested and gushed out of his wounds. That indicated that the wounds were fatal and that he could not survive for long.
The people around him praised him for his virtues and sterling qualities. He asked them not to praise him. He said:
"All praise is to Allah. If all the treasures of this world were to be at my disposal, I would offer them as a ransom to be saved from the trial at the Day of Judgment."
He then recited the Arabic verse:
"I have been unjust to my soul,
Except that I am a Muslim,
Say my prayers and fast."
Umar asked his son Abdullah to wait on Ayesha and beg her permission for his burial by the side of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. Ayesha wept as she came to know that Umar was about to die. She said, "I had reserved this place for my own burial, but I give Umar precedence over myself. Let him be buried there". When Umar was told that Ayesha had given the permission, he felt happy and said, "God bless Ayesha. She has fulfilled my greatest wish. Now I can die in peace."
Then he asked his son to estimate the debt that he had to pay. He was told that the debt amounted to eighty six thousand dirhams. This included the salary that he had drawn from the Baitul Mal during the period of his caliphate. He instructed that the debt should be paid by the sale of his property. Thereafter Umar gave detailed instructions to his son regarding his funeral. He said:
"Be moderate in the expenses of my shroud, for verily if there is anything of good with God in my favor, He will give me in exchange what is better than it, and if I have been otherwise, He will strip me of all that I have. And be moderate in the grave that you dig for me, for verily if there be anything of good with God in my favor, He will widen it for me, and if I have been otherwise, He will make it narrow for me to squeeze my body. And let no woman go with my funeral. Praise me not for that which is not in me, for the Lord knows best what I am. Therefore when you carry me to the grave, hasten in your going for if there is anything of good with God in my favor you will speed me to that which is good, and if I have been otherwise, you will cast from your necks an evil that you bear."
Thereafter Umar turned his face to the Qibla and breathed his last. There was serene smile on his face as he lay dead.
Umar And His Successor
When Umar was on his death bed, he was asked that he should nominate his successor. Umar sighed and said, "Whom should I nominate my successor? If Abu Ubaida had been alive, I would have nominated him as my successor for about him the Holy Prophet had said that he was the trustee of the Muslim community. If Salam the liberated slave of Abu Huzaifa had been alive, I would have nominated him as my successor for about him the Holy Prophet had said that among the Muslims he loved Allah most."
Some one said, "I propose the name of your son Abdullah for the office."
Thereupon Umar said:
"May God curse you for tempting me to nepotism by nominating my son when I am going to meet my Creator. The Caliphate is an affair affecting the entire Muslim community, and I would not like to make it an hereditary office in my family. I swear it by God that I never coveted the caliphate for myself. Therefore what I never coveted for myself I would not like to pass on to my family. If the caliphate is something good then by holding the office for the last ten years, I have had the blessing for my family. If the caliphate is something bad then why should I pass on this bad thing to my family? God is my witness that during my caliphate I showed no favor to my family members. On the other hand I was more hard with them than with the other Muslims. I have tried to fulfill the obligations of the office always under the shadow of the fear lest I may at any stage falter in the performance of my duties. I do not know whether I have succeeded in my purpose, but I will be happy if my achievements and failures just balance, so that I am neither rewarded nor punished for holding the office of the caliphate. Remember ye men, that if I nominate my successor, a better man than me (namely Abu Bakr) also nominated his successor. And again if I do not nominate a successor, remember that the best of men, namely Muhammad (peace be on him) did not nominate a successor. Whatever the case I am confident that Allah will Himself protect the interests of Islam."
At this, the persons around Umar went away. Umar had some sleep. Then the men came again and they said:
"O Amirul Mominin, if you are not going to nominate a successor at least leave some instructions for the selection of your successor."
Thereupon Umar said:
"After hearing you and weighing the pros and cons of the case carefully I had decided that I should nominate my successor who should lead the Muslims on the path of righteousness. But then I lost consciousness, and in that state of unconsciousness I had a dream. I saw that a man who had laid out the garden was plucking all ripe and unripe fruit from all the trees, and gathering it on the ground. I interpret this dream to mean that I will die, and Allah will Himself attend to the affairs of the Muslim community. I therefore refrain from nominating a successor for I do not wish that even after death I should continue to carry the burden of the caliphate."
When pressed to leave some guidance for the people to choose his successor, Umar said that he would nominate a Committee comprising Ali, Usman, Abdur Rahman b. Auf; Sad bin Abi Waqqas; Zubair b. Awwam; and Abu Talha. All these were eminent Companions whom the Holy Prophet gave the tidings of paradise in their lifetime. Umar said:
"I enjoin that this Committee should elect one of themselves as the Caliph."
The following, day Umar called the members of the Committee (except Abu Talha who was cut of station) and enjoined them that they should deliberate and choose one from among themselves as the Caliph. The Committee retired to hold a meeting. It was soon found that there were strong dissensions among the members, and loud voices were raised highlighting the differences. Thereupon Abdul Rahman b. Auf addressing the members of the Committee said:
"The Amirul Mominin is not yet dead, and you have started quarrelling over the question of succession."
When this state of affairs was brought to the notice of Umar he instructed:
"Defer the consideration of this issue for the present. When I die you take up the issue and then settle it within three days. On the fourth day after my death the person chosen by you should take the oath of office. He should be some one out of you. Abdullah b. Umar will sit with the Committee as Adviser and Moderator, but he will have no vote, nor will he be eligible for election as the Caliph. If during this period Abu Talha joins you he will be a member. If he does not come within three days, the rest of the members of the Committee will have the authority to take the decision. During these three days, Suhaib will lead the prayers. Thereafter, whosoever, is elected as the Caliph will lead the prayers."
Testament Of Umar
On his death bed Umar was requested to make a testament for the guidance of his successor. Umar addressed the following testament to his successor:
"I enjoin upon you to have trust and faith in God, He Who has no peer.
Be kind and generous to the Muhajreen and the Ansar. Those out of them who are good, be good to them; those who are bad overlook their lapses.
Be good to the people of the conquered lands. They are the outer line of our defense; they are the target of the anger and distress of our enemies. They contribute to our revenues. They should be taxed only on their surplus wealth.
Be gracious to the Bedouins as they are the backbone of the Arab nation.
I instruct you to be good to the Dhimmis for they are your responsibility. Do not tax them beyond their capacity. Ensure that they pay the Jizya without undue inconvenience.
Fear God, and in all that you do keep His pleasure in view. In the matter of people fear God, and in the matter of Allah do not be afraid of the people.
With regard to the people, I enjoin upon you to administer justice with an even hand. See that all the legitimate requirements of the people are met. Be concerned for their welfare. Ensure the safety of their person and property.
See that the frontiers of our domains are not violated. Take strong steps to guard the frontiers.
In the matter of administration do not prefer the rich to the poor. Be hard against those who violate the law. Show them no mercy. Do not rest content until you have brought the miscreants to book.
Treat all the people as equal. Be a pillar of strength for those who are weak and oppressed. Those who are strong but do wrong, make them pay for their wrong-doings.
In the distribution of booty and other matters be above nepotism. Let no consideration of relationship or selfish interest weigh with you.
The Satan is at large; it may tempt you. Rise above all temptations and perform your duties in accordance with the injunctions of Islam.
Get guidance from the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Freely consult the wise men around you. Apply your own mind in difficult cases, and seek light from God.
Be simple in your living and your habits. Let there be no show or ostentation about you. Lead life as a model Muslim. As you are the leader of the Muslims, justify your leadership by being the best among them all. May God bless you."
His son Abdullah also desired some words of parting advice. Umar asked him to hold fast to the fundamentals of faith. Abdullah asked what these fundamentals were.
Umar said that these were:
- Keep fast in the intense heat of the summer when the Ramazan falls in such a season.
- Kill the enemies of Islam with sword.
- In the event of any calamity or distress exercise patience.
- In the cold of the winter perform your ablutions in full.
- On a cloudy day hurry up in offering prayers.
- Abstain from the mud of destruction.
Abdullah enquired what was the mud of destruction, and Umar said it was wine-bibbling.
Elegies And Tributes On The Death Of Umar
Atika the wife of Umar burst into the following elegy on the death of Umar:
"Eye, let thy tears and weeping be abundant,
Death has afflicted me in the fall of a horseman
Distinguished in the day of battle and of contumely,
The stay of faith, the defense against inclement fortune,
And a champion unto the afflicted and oppressed,
Say unto the hopeless die,
Since Death hath given us to drink the cup of dissolution."
She also said:
"Firoz has deprived us of such a fair complexioned, fair minded person
Who was fastidious about his prayers
Who was regular in the recitation of the Holy Qur'an,
Who was a source of strength for the weak;
And who was stern and harsh against the oppressors."
Another wife of Umar mourned his death in the following terms:
"The death of Umar has overwhelmed me with such grief
That the entire world now appears to be a place of sorrow and distress."
Bint Abi Hashma said:
"We mourn the death of Umar
Who disentangled every knot,
Who solved every difficulty,
Who put an end to all mischief,
Who revived the Sunnat of the Holy Prophet,
He has departed from this world
Free from all blame."
Hafsa expressed her grief in the following terms:
"I am bearing this bereavement with patience,
The Holy Qur'an condoles me,
You are not alone to die,
Every one is to die in turn."
A poet mournfully said:
"Because of the leadership of Umar,
The Muslims became a disciplined community,
Apparently it's impossible that after him,
Any one should carry the burden of the State
As effectively as he did."
Sa'id bin Zaid, the brother-in-law of Umar, wept grievously. He was asked why he was weeping so profusely. He said:
"I am not weeping for Umar. I am weeping for Islam in which cracks will appear after his death."
Seeing the face of Umar, Ali said:
"Salutations of God to thee,
Verily, there is no man
Other than this shrouded one,
Whose deeds I envy."
'Usman seeing the face of Umar said:
"Out of us, who can equal Umar?"
Distinctions of Umar
Umar was a man of many distinctions. A study of his life shows that in many respects he had the unique distinction of being the first or foremost. Hereunder an attempt is made to catalogue the matters in which Umar was the foremost.
He was unique in his power of discrimination. The Holy Prophet conferred on him the title of 'Al-Farooq'.
Among his contemporaries he was the foremost in the matter of knowledge and learning.
He had the unique distinction of having his views confirmed by the Holy Quran.
His superiority over his contemporaries was acknowledged when the Holy Prophet said that if there was to be a prophet after him, it would have been Umar.
He was the first Muslim ruler to be known by the title of Amir-ul-Mo'minin.
The conquests made by him exceeded in extent the conquests made by any other Muslim ruler throughout the course of history.
He was the first Muslim ruler to establish public treasury.
He was the first Muslim ruler to establish courts of justice and appoint judges.
He was the first Muslim ruler to establish the Army Department and assign regular salaries to the men in the armed forces.
He was the first to create army reserves.
He established the land revenue department for the first time.
He was the first ruler under whom the survey and assessment work of lands was undertaken.
He was the first Muslim ruler to take a census.
He was the first Muslim ruler to strike coins.
He was the first Muslim ruler to dig canals.
He was the first Muslim ruler to found cities.
He was the first Muslim ruler to divide the country into provinces and provinces into districts.
He imposed the customs duty for the first time.
He was the first to set up jails.
He was the first to organize the Police Department.
He was the first among the Muslim rulers to establish Military Centers and Military Cantonments at strategic points.
He established cavalry. He set up stables at strategic points. He created the distinction of pedigree and nonpedigree horses.
He established guest-houses in all cities. He established rest-houses on the road from Madina to Mecca for the comfort of travelers.
He provided for the care and bringing up of foundlings.
He laid down that no Arab could be made a slave.
He gave stipends to the poor.
He established schools throughout the country. He allowed liberal salaries to school teachers.
He was the first who instituted the prayers of Tarawih in congregation in the mosque in the month of Ramazan.
He was the first to formulate the principle of Qiyas.
He had the formula "Prayer is better than sleep" inserted in the call for morning prayers.
He was the first to provide light in mosques at nights.
He was the first to provide salaries for Imams and Muezzins.
He was the first to organize sermons in mosques.
He was the first to punish for writing satires and lampoons.
He was the first to prohibit the mention of women's names in lyric poems, an ancient custom in Arabia.
He was the first to inflict eighty stripes for indulgence in wine.
He was the first to prohibit 'Muta'ah'-marriage for a limited term.
He was the first to forbid the sale of female slaves, who had borne children to their masters.
He was the first who assembled the people to prayers over the dead with four Takbirs.
He was the first to enlarge and pave the Prophet's mosque at Madina.
He was the first to expel non-Muslims from Arabia. The Jews from Hijaz were transferred to Syria, and the Christians from Nijran were transferred to Kufah.
He was the first to place the law of inheritance on a sound basis.
He was the first to establish trusts.
Holy Prophet's Assessment Of Umar
A number of traditions have come down to us which speak of the Holy Prophet's assessment of Umar.
Before the conversion of Umar to Islam, the prayer of the Holy Prophet is on record wherein he prayed "O God, glorify Thy faith by the conversion of Umar."
There is a tradition that when Umar was converted to Islam the Holy Prophet said that Gabriel had visited him to say "O Muhammad, verily the dwellers in Heaven rejoice with you at the conversion of Umar."
According to Abu Hurrayrah, the Holy Prophet once related a dream in the presence of Umar. The Holy Prophet related, "While I was asleep, I saw myself in paradise, and beheld there a woman performing her ablutions by the side of a house. I enquired whose house it was, and I was told that it was Umar's. The lady said that she belonged to Umar. Then recollecting how jealous Umar was in the matter of women, I turned back, and thereafter I woke up". Hearing this, Umar said, "O Prophet of God, everything of mine is at your service; how can I be jealous of you in any matter?"
On another occasion, the Holy Prophet had another dream. He related:
"While I was asleep, I dreamt that I drank milk. Then that milk began to flow from my fingers. That milk I asked Umar to drink, and he drank to his fill." The Holy Prophet was asked to interpret the dream and he said that the dream signified that among his followers, Umar would excel every one in knowledge.
According to another tradition, the Holy Prophet said, "While I was asleep, I saw the people presented to me. These people wore garments. Some had garments reaching to their breasts, and some had garments which reached their toes. Then Umar was presented, and upon him was a garment which was so long that he dragged it as he moved". The Holy Prophet was requested to interpret the dream. The Holy Prophet said that the significance of the dream was that Umar would be a source of strength and service to Islam.
Al-Bukhari carries a tradition according to which the Holy Prophet said that there was to be no prophet after him, but if there were to be no bar to such prophethood, Umar would have been the prophet. That was the highest tribute that the Holy Prophet could pay to Umar.
According to another tradition the Holy Prophet said, "Verily God has placed truth upon the tongue of Umar, and upon his heart." According to an allied tradition, the Holy Prophet said, "Never did a thing come upon the people, and they said one thing regarding it, and Umar another, but the Qur'an revealed it after the manner that Umar had said. The greatest tribute was paid to Umar, when the Holy Prophet said, "God speaks through the tongue of ;Umar."
There is a tradition that Gabriel once came to the Holy Prophet and said, "Greet Umar with a salutation, and tell him that his anger is glory and his approval, command."
According to a tradition, the Holy Prophet said, "Umar is the lamp of the dwellers in paradise."
A tradition is on record according to which pointing to Umar the Holy Prophet said, "Umar is a strongly bolted gate against discord. As long as he lives in your midst, there will be no discord among the Muslims."
We have it on the authority of 'Ayesha that the Holy Prophet said, "Verily I behold the evil spirits among genii and men, fleeing from Umar". In the same strain the Holy Prophet said, "Verily Satan avoideth Umar."
There is another tradition according to which the Holy Prophet said, "There is not an angel in Heaven, but he revereth Umar, and not a demon on earth but he fleeth from Umar.",
On the occasion of the last pilgrimage the Holy Prophet said, "Verily God approved of the conduct of the pilgrims at Arafat in general and Umar in particular".
There is a tradition that in the days of his illness the Holy Prophet said, "The Truth after me is with Umar, wherever he may be."
About Umar's victory against Satan, the Holy Prophet said, "Verily Satan hath never met Umar since his conversion, but he hath fallen prostrate on his face."
According to a tradition the Holy Prophet said, "Gabriel said to me, 'verily Islam will weep at the death of Umar."
According to a tradition the Holy Prophet expressed his attachment to Umar in the following terms: "He who hateth Umar hates me, and he who loveth Umar loves me".
The Holy Prophet's Joint Tributes To Abu Bakr And Umar
Some traditions have come down to us "hereunder the Holy Prophet paid joint tributes to Abu Bakr and Umar.
Abu Hurrayrah said:
"I heard the Holy Prophet say, 'while a shepherd was in the midst of his flock, a wolf rushed upon it and carried from it a sheep and the shepherd pursued it, the wolf turned to him and said, who will be a protector to it on the day of resurrection-the day when there will be no other shepherd than myself. As a man was driving an ox which he had laden, it turned to him and said, Verily I was not created for this but for tillage."
The companions cried, "Good God! Should an ox talk." The Holy Prophet said:
"I believe in it, and likewise Abu Bakr and Umar."
This is indicative of the Holy Prophet's trust in the faith of Abu Bakr and Umar.
The Holy Prophet said:
"There was never a prophet but he had two Ministers from the dwellers in heaven and two Ministers from among the dwellers on earth. My two Ministers of the dwellers of heaven are Gabriel and Michael, and of the earth Abu Bakr and Umar'."
It is related in a tradition that one day the Holy Prophet entered the mosque with Abu Bakr and Umar, one of them on his right hand, and the other upon his left. He held their hands and said:
"Thus shall we arise on the Day of Judgment."
According to another tradition, the Holy Prophet looked on Abu Bakr and Umar and said:
"They are my hearing and my sight."
There is another tradition according to which turning to Abu Bakr and Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
"Praise be to God, Who has strengthened me with ye two." On one occasion, addressing Abu Bakr and Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
"If you two are agreed upon any matter, I would not oppose you."
The Holy Prophet also said:
"Every prophet has chosen ones among his people and verily my elect from among my companions are Abu Bakr and Umar."
The Holy Prophet said:
"Love towards Abu Bakr and Umar is faith; hatred towards them is infidelity."
The Holy Prophet said on another occasion:
"Love towards Abu Bakr and Umar and a knowledge of them is an injunction of the law."
The Holy Prophet also said:
"Verily I hope for the same benefit for my people by their profession of love towards Abu Bakr and Umar that I hope for them by their profession of faith there is no god but God'."
Assessment Of Umar By The Companions
Abu Bakr said about Umar, "There is not upon the face of the earth a man dearer to me then Umar." When Abu Bakr was on his death bed, it was said to him, "What will you say to God, now that you have appointed Umar as your successor?" Abu Bakr said, "I will say to Him that I appointed over His people the man who was the best among them all."
After the death of Umar, Ali said in the course of one of his sermons:
"When Umar became the Caliph, there were some people who approved of his caliphate and there were some who disagreed. During his caliphate he administered the affairs of the State strictly on the lines laid down by the Holy Prophet and his successor Abu Bakr. He followed them in the same way as a child follows its mother. Verily he was a pillar of strength for the weak, the poor, and the aggrieved. He was for the Muslims a source of honor, prosperity and victory. Nothing stood in his way in promoting the cause of Truth. He was so discriminating in truth that we come to believe that the angel spoke through his tongue. By being converted to Islam, he became a source of honor and strength for Islam His migration was a cause of strengthening the religion of Islam. God made the infidels fear Umar, and the pious Muslims love him. As he was very harsh with the enemies of Islam, the Holy Prophet compared Umar to Gabriel. As he had a fiery temper the Holy Prophet compared him to Nuh, O ye Muslims bear in mind that after the Holy Prophet, among his followers the two best persons were Abu Bakr, and Umar."
Ali used to say, "When the righteous are mentioned, then be quick and mention Umar." Ali also said "We used to say not without reason that the Divine Presence spoke by the tongue of Umar."
Abu 'Ubaida bin Al-Jarah, the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces in Syria said:
"When Umar will die, Islam will be disgraced. I do not wish that I should survive Umar. I wish to die during the life-time of Umar."
'Abdullah bin 'Abbes said:
"May God bless the soul of Umar. By God he was a pillar of strength for Islam. He was the shelter for the orphans and the widows. By his conduct he fortified the faith of others. He was a model Muslim. The weak relied on him for the redress of their grievances. He was a great helper of the people. As a Caliph he promoted the interests of Islam. Under him the standard of Islam was carried east and west, and the call to prayers could be heard in plains and on hills even in distant lands. In the states when he was hard or humble he maintained the dignity of Islam. He remembered God at all times. He was indeed the gem of a man. May Allah humiliate the person who talks ill of Umar, or bears him any enmity."
Ibn Masiud said:
"If the wisdom of Umar were placed in the scale of a balance, and the wisdom of living things upon the earth in the other scale, the wisdom of Umar would outweigh them, and verily the people used to think that Umar carried nine-tenth of the wisdom of the world."
Ibn Mas'ud on another occasion said:
"Verily Umar was the most learned of us all in the Book of God, and most profoundly versed in the religious ordinances of Allah."
On the death of Umar, Ibn Mas'ud said:
"Umar was the fort of Islam. The people could enter the fort but could not come out of it. With the death of Umar that fort has fallen and now people would come out of it." 'Abbas said about Umar:
"I was a neighbor of Umar. After the Holy Prophet I have not found any person superior to Umar in the love of God. He spent the greater part of night in prayer. Throughout the day he worked hard to win the pleasure of Allah".
On the death of Umar, Saeed b. Zaid said:
"With the death of Umar, Islam has come to grief. His death has caused a breach in the citadel of Islam which would not be filled up."
Abu Hudhaifa said:
"It is as if the wisdom of mankind lay hidden in the bossom of Umar. By Allah I know not a man whom the reproof of the censurer in what relateth to the service of God, does not touch, but Umar." He also said, "In the time of Umar Islam attained the climax of glory. After his death Islam will have to face difficulties."
'Ayesha said of him "By Allah, Umar was active in affairs, singly undertaking their management."
Abu Talha Ansari said, "By God, there is no Muslim household which has not suffered because of the death of Umar."
Ibn Umar said, "I never saw any one after the Holy Prophet, from the time that he died, any person more vehement and yet more beneficent than Umar."
Ibn 'Abbas was asked about Umar, and he said, " Umar was like a wary bird who apprehended a snare at every step to trap it."
Amir Muawiyah said, "Abu Bakr sought not the world, and the world sought him not. In the case of Umar, the world sought him, but he sought it not."
Assessment By Western Writers
In his book "Lives of Successors of Muhammad", Washington Irving estimates the achievements of Umar in the following terms:
"The whole history of Umar shows him to have been a man of great powers of mind, inflexible integrity and rigid justice. He was more than any one else the founder of the Islamic empire; confirming and carrying out the inspirations of the Prophet; aiding Abu Bakr with his counsels during his brief Caliphate; and establishing wise regulations for the strict administration of the law throughout the rapidly-extending bounds of the Muslim conquests. The rigid hand which he kept upon his most popular generals in the midst of their armies, and in the most distant scenes of their triumphs, gives signal evidence of his extra-ordinary capacity to rule. In the simplicity of his habits, and his contempt for all pomp and luxury, he emulated the example of the Prophet and Abu Bakr. He endeavored incessantly to impress the merit and policy of the same in his letters to his generals. 'Beware' he would say of Persian luxury both in food and raiment. Keep to the simple habits of your country, and Allah will continue you victorious; depart from them and He will reverse your fortunes'. It was his strong conviction of the truth of this policy which made him so severe in punishing all ostentatious style and luxurious indulgence in his officers. Some of his ordinances do credit to his heart as well as his head. He forbade that any female captive who had borne a child should be sold as a slave. In his weekly distributions of the surplus money of his treasury, he proportioned them to the wants, not the merits of the applicants. 'God' said he, 'has bestowed the good things of this world to relieve our necessities, not to reward our virtues: those will be rewarded in another world'."
In his book "The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall" Sir William Muir says as follows about Umar:
"Umar's life requires but few lines to sketch. Simplicity and duty were his guiding principles; impartiality and devotion the leading features of his administration. Responsibility so weighed upon him that he was heard to exclaim 'O that my mother had not borne me; would that I had been this stalk of grass instead!' In early life, of a fiery and impatient temper, he was known, even in the later days of the Prophet, as the stern advocate of vengeance. Ever ready to unsheathe the sword, it was he who at Badr advised that the prisoners should be put to death. But age, as well as office, had now mellowed this asperity. His sense of justice was strong. And except it be the treatment of Khalid, whom according to some accounts, he pursued with an ungenerous resentment, no act of tyranny or injustice is recorded against him; and even in this matter, his enmity took its rise in Khalid's unscrupulous treatment of fallen foe. The choice of his captains and governors was free from favoritism and (Al-Mughira and Ammar excepted) singularly fortunate. The various tribes and bodies in the empire, representing interests the most diverse, reposed in his integrity implicit confidence, and his strong arm maintained the discipline of law and empire. . . Whip in hand he would perambulate the streets and markets of Madina, ready to punish slanders on the spot; and so the proverb Umar's whip is more terrible than another's sword'. But with all this he was tender hearted, and numberless acts of kindness are recorded of him, such as relieving the wants of the widows and the fatherless."
In his classical work "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon refers to Umar in the following terms:
"Yet the abstinence and humility of Umar were not inferior to the virtues of Abu Bakr: his food consisted of barley bread or dates; his drink was water; he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places; and a Persian satrap, who paid his homage as to the conqueror, found him asleep among the beggars on the steps of the mosque of Muslims. Economy is the source of liberality, and the increases of the revenue enabled Umar to establish a just and perpetual reward for the past and present services of the faithful. Careless of his own emolument, he assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, the first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand dirhams of pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of the aged warriors? The relics of the field of Badr and the last and the meanest of the companions of Mohammad was distinguished by the annual reward of three thousand pieces. Under his reign and that of his predecessors, the conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God and the people; the mass of public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens, and then united, by a rare felicity, the dispatch and execution of despotism with the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government."
In his book "History of the Arabs" Professor Philip K. Hitti has assessed the achievements of Umar in the following terms:
"Simple and frugal in manner the energetic and talented Umar (634-644) who was of towering height, strong physique and bald headed, continued at least for some time after becoming the Caliph to support himself by trade and lived throughout his life in a style as unostentatious as that of a Bedouin Sheikh. In fact, Umar, whose name according to Muslim tradition is the greatest in early Islam after that of Mohammad, has been idolized by Muslim writers for his piety, justice and patriarchal simplicity and treated as the personification of all the virtues a Caliph ought to possess. His irreproachable character became an exemplar for all conscientious successors to follow. He owned, we are told, one shirt and one mantle only, both conspicuous for their patchwork, slept on a bed of palm leaves, and had no concern other than the maintenance of the purity of the faith, the upholding of justice and the ascendancy and security of Islam and the Arabians. Arabic literature is replete with anecdotes extolling Umar's stern character. He is said to have scourged his own son to death for drunkenness. Having in a fit of anger inflicted a number of stripes on a Bedouin who came seeking his succor against an oppressor, the Caliph soon repented and asked the Bedouin to inflict the same number on him. But the latter refused. So Umar retired to his home with the following soliloquy: 'O son of Al-Khattab humble thou wert and Allah has elevated thee, thou went astray, and Allah hath guided thee; thou were weak, and Allah hath strengthened thee. Then He caused thee to rule over the necks of thy people, and when one of them came seeking thy aid thou didst strike him! What wilt thou have to say to thy Lord when thou presentest thyself before Him'. The one who fixed the Hijrah as the commencement of the Muslim era, presided over the conquest of large portions of the then known world, instituted the state register and organized the government of the new empire, met a tragic and sudden death at the very zenith of his life when he was struck down by the poisoned dagger of a Christian Persian slave in the midst of his own congregation."
"The Encyclopedia Britannica" remarks about Umar:
"To Umar's ten years' Caliphate belong, for the most part, the great conquests. He himself did not take the field, but remained in Madina; he never, however, suffered the reins to slip from his grasp, so powerful was the influence of his personality and the Muslim community of feeling. His political insight is shown by the fact that he endeavored to limit the indefinite extension of Muslim conquest, to maintain and strengthen the national Arabian character of the commonwealth of Islam; also by making it his foremost task to promote law and order in its internal affairs. The saying with which he began his reign will never grow antiquated: 'By God, he that is weakest among you shall be in my eye the strongest, until I have vindicated for him his rights; he that is strongest I will treat as the weakest, until he complies with the law'. It would be impossible to give a better general definition of the function of the State."
Assessment Of Umar By Oriental Writers
In his book "History of Egypt", Jurji Zaidan, a Christian historian has paid a tribute to Umar in the following words:
"In his time various countries were conquered, spoils were multiplied, the treasures of the Persian and Roman Emperors were poured in streams before his troops, nevertheless he himself manifested a degree of abstemiousness and moderation which was never surpassed. He addressed the people clad in a garment patched with leather. He was himself the first to practice what he preached. He kept a vigilant eye over the Governors and Generals and enquired strictly into their conduct. Even the great Khalid bin Walid was not spared. He was just to all mankind and was kindly even to non-Muslims. Iron discipline was maintained every where during his reign."
In his well known book "History of the Saracens", Justice Syed Amir Ali has rated Umar in the following terms:
"The death of Umar was a real calamity to Islam. Stern, but just, far-sighted, thoroughly versed in the character of his people, he was especially fitted for the leadership of the unruly Arabs. He had held the helm with a strong hand and severely repressed the natural tendency to demoralization among nomadic tribes and semi-civilized people when coming in contact with the luxury and vices of cities. He had established the Diwan or the Department of Finance, to which was entrusted the administration of the revenues; and had introduced fixed rules for the government of the provinces. He was a man of towering height, strong build, and fair complexion. Of simple habits, austere and frugal, always accessible to the meanest of his subjects, wandering about at night to inquire into the condition of the people, without any guard of court, such was the greatest and the most powerful ruler of the time."
Shah Wali Ullah has described the talents and achievements of Umar graphically in the following terms:
"Imagine the heart of Umar as a house with many gates. At each gate is seated a noble genius. At one gate stands Alexander the Great with all his genius for conquering countries, commanding armies and vanquishing foes. At another gates sits Anushirwan with all his gentleness, magnanimity, justice, and love of his subjects. And yet at another gate sits a spiritual leader like Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani or Khawaja Bahauddin. At another gate sits Hadith specialists like Abu Huraira and Ibn Umar, and yet at another gate sit thinkers of the caliber of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and Sheikh Fariduddin Attar. And people are standing around this house and every needy one represents his need to the Imam of his branch of knowledge and goes away satisfied."
Put in simpler words, this tribute means that:
- Umar was a great Conqueror, greater than Alexander;
- Umar excelled Anushirwan in justice;
- Umar was a great spiritual leader;
- Umar was a specialist in Hadith;
- Umar was a great thinker;
- Umar excelled in all branches of knowledge.
Sayings Of Umar
Umar was known for his great knowledge and wisdom. He often expressed his thoughts in words conspicuous for their wisdom. A number of his sayings have come down to us, and these show the depths and dimensions of his thoughts and expressions. We give hereunder the various sayings attributed to Umar, which we have been able to gather from various sources:
"He who keeps his own counsel keeps his affairs in his own hands."
"Fear him, whom you hate."
"The wisest man is he who can account for his actions."
"Do not put off today's work for tomorrow."
"Money cannot help lifting its head."
"What regresses. never progresses."
"He who does not know evil will fall into it."
"When a man puts me a question, I judge of his intelligence."
"Don't forget your own self while preaching to others."
"The less of the world, the freer you live."
"Avoidance of sin is lighter than the pain of remorse."
"On every dishonest man, there are two watchmen, his possessions, and his way of living."
"If patience and gratitude had been two she camels, it would have mattered little on which I rode."
"May God have mercy on him who sends me my faults as a present."
"Preserve the sayings of those people who are indifferent to the world. They say only that what God wishes them to say."
"Fear God, for He alone lives; all other things are liable to perish."
"The wisest among you is he whose sustenance is the fear of God."
"Praise God, for by praise His blessings multiply."
"Fear God, for that is fortune; indifference to God is misfortune."
"Be patient; patience is a pillar of faith."
"Acquire knowledge and teach it to the people"
"Be dignified, honest, and truthful"
"Do not be an arrogant scholar, for scholarship cannot subsist with arrogance".
"When you see that any scholar loves the world, then his scholarship is in doubt".
"God forbid, men should be jealous of knowledge as they are jealous of women."
"May God bless the man who says less and does more."
"The criterion of action is that today's work should not be deferred till the following day."
"Trust is that there should be no difference between what you do and say and what you think."
"Learn the Arabic language; it will sharpen your wisdom." "Luxury is an obstacle, and so is the fatness of the body."
"A man may be as straight as an arrow, but even then he will have some critics."
"O Allah do not give me in excess lest I may be disobedient to You. And do not give me less, lest I may forget You."
"Allah loves moderation and hates extravagance and excess."
"He who went to the kings to seek favors went away from God."
"Sit with those who love God, for that enlightens the mind."
"Before Allah that is the best dinner which people eat together."
"As long as you are pure of heart, you speak the truth."
"The pilgrims are the delegations of God."
"If your ruler is just, praise God; if he is unjust, pray to God to rid you of him."
"Allah is happy with such rulers whose slaves are under their control."
"Forgive the people so that God may forgive you."
"For the people prefer that which you prefer for yourself.
Which you do not wish for yourself, do not impose on others."
"In the eyes of God he is the best ruler who has secured prosperity and comfort for the people."
"That ruler is most accursed whose misconduct leads to the distress of the people."
"Every ruler should keep his door open to the people."
"Understand the teachings of the Holy Quran for that is the source of knowledge."
"Relate as few traditions as possible, lest by being involved in traditions the people overlook the Quran."
"All the injunctions of Islam are based on reason."
"The way to express gratitude to God is to give Zakat out of the property that He has bestowed on you."
"In my view your greatest obligation is to offer prayers.
He who fulfils this obligation with great regularity will be secure in his religion."
"He who sleeps without offering the night prayer, may he never enjoy a sound sleep."
"Women should offer Zakat on their ornaments."
"Blessed are those who are martyred in the way of Allah."
"In the preparation of Islam, commit no excess."
"Without consultation, the caliphate is unlawful."
"The ruler whose intention is good will have the help of God in the administration of his affairs; he whose intention is bad will come to disgrace."
"Do not accept gifts; that is bribery."
"The Judge should always uphold the principle of equality before law."
"May God curse the people who hesitate to dine with the slaves."
"Do not be misled by a person's prayers and fasting; look to his sincerity and wisdom."
"Do not be misled by hearing of any one's reputation."
"He trusts in God who sows seed in the ground then depends on God."
"Earning of livelihood by following some profession is better than living on charity."
"He who has any public responsibility should perform his duties without caring for criticism."
"He is to be preferred who has the urge to sin, but does not sin."
"Do not depend upon the morality of a person until you have seen him behave while in anger."
"I am surprised at three things. Man runs from death while death is inevitable. One sees minor faults of others, but overlooks his own major faults. When there is any defect to one's cattle he tries to cure it, but does not cure his own defects."
"To flatter is to slaughter."
"He, who pretends to be what he is not, is a hypocrite."
"If a person has ten habits out of which nine are good and one bad, that bad one will destroy the good ones."
"Do not overeat; that invites disease."
"He who wins through fraud is no winner."
"He who wants paradise should hold fast to the community. "
"The efficacy of a prayer depends not on the words but on the sincerity of intention."
"In the narration of facts refrain from poetising."
"When you do not know of a thing say so plainly."
"O I am not worried about the poverty of the Muslims. I am afraid lest by getting rich they might become proud and thereby invite destruction. "
"In the performance of your duties neither be over zealous, nor indifferent."
Umar's Gift Of Forecasting
Umar was blessed with the gift of forecasting events by playing upon the meaning of words.
When on the eve of the battle of Nihawand, the Governor of Kufa sent a messenger to Umar, he forecast the coming events by asking the messenger his name and the name of his father. When the messenger said that his name was 'Qareeb' meaning 'near', and his father's name was 'Zafar' meaning 'victory', Umar forecast that for the Muslims victory was near.
It is recorded that once a man waited on Umar. He asked him what was his name. He said that his name was 'Jamrah', meaning a live coal.
Umar then asked him about his father's name, and he said that his father's name was 'Shihab' meaning 'flame'.
Umar then enquired to which tribe he belonged. He said that he belonged to the tribe of 'Al-Harrah', meaning 'heat'.
He was asked where did he live and he replied 'Al-Harqah' meaning 'warmth'.
Umar asked him what was his clan and he said 'sat Ladha' meaning 'blazing'.
Then Umar said:
"Go home, for all your people have been burnt."
When the man went home, he found that his family had been burnt to death.
It was a custom with the Egyptians that a virgin was thrown in the river Nile to secure a rise in the surface of the water. When the Muslims conquered Egypt this inhuman practice was stopped. Instead of a virgin a card written by Umar was thrown in the river, and immediately the water rose in the river.
It is on record that when a contingent of the Muslim army under Sariyah fighting in Fars were exposed to danger, Umar while delivering Friday sermon in the Prophet's mosque shouted 'Sariyah to the hills'. The command was listened to by the Muslims in the battlefield thousand miles away and was complied with resulting in victory for the Muslims.
Umar had a highly developed sense of discriminating the truth from falsehood. Whenever a person spoke the truth, Umar would listen to him attentively, but whenever a person spoke anything false, Umar would promptly say "withhold that".
It is related that the people of Kufa pelted their Governor with stones. When Umar heard of this he was much annoyed. He was distracted even in his prayer. When he came to the salutation he said:
"O God verily they have put confusion on me. O Allah you put confusion upon them, and place over them a youth of the Banu Thaqif who may rule over them after the manner of the rule of the time of Ignorance."
This forecast came true when al Hajjaj came to rule over Iraq in the time of the Umayyads.
When Allah Corroborated Umar
Many instances are on record when Umar gave a particular opinion and that opinion was later on corroborated by Allah and conurmation thereof was communicated to the Holy Prophet through Gabriel. That is why the Holy Prophet repeatedly said:
"God speaks through the tongue of Umar."
Umar suggested that the station of Abraham in Mecca should be used as a place of prayer. Later an injunction to this effect was revealed to the Holy Prophet.
Umar suggested that the wives of the Holy Prophet should be veiled. Later a verse was revealed enjoining the wives of the Holy Prophet to be veiled.
Umar suggested that the use of wine should be prohibited. Thereafter God enjoined the prohibition of wine.
'Abdullah b. Ubbay though a Muslim was insincere in his professions and was the enemy of God and the Holy Prophet. When he died the Holy Prophet led his funeral prayer. Umar suggested that the Holy Prophet should not pray at the funeral of those who were the enemies of God and the Prophet. A verse was later revealed enjoining the Holy Prophet not to pray at the funeral of those who were the enemies of God and His Prophet.
When there was an imputation against the conduct of 'Ayesha, Umar said that this was a grievous calumny. Later a verse was revealed declaring the episode as a calumny and establishing 'Ayesha's innocence.
After the battle of Badr, it was decided that the prisoners of the Quraish should be released on ransom. Umar said that the prisoners being the enemies of God should be killed. Later according to a revelation the Holy Prophet was enjoined that the enemies of God should be killed.
When the Azan was originally proposed the contents of the call were:
"I testify that there is no god but Allah-come ye to prayers."
Umar suggested, "The words 'I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God' should be added". A revelation corroborated this suggestion.
The practice was that people went to see the Holy Prophet unannounced. Umar suggested that all visitors should seek permission before being admitted to the presence of the Holy Prophet. A verse was later revealed enjoining the asking of permission before entering the presence of the Holy Prophet.
Once two persons to a dispute referred the case to the Holy Prophet and the Holy Prophet gave his verdict. One of them appealed against the decision of the Holy Prophet. Umar slew him with his sword. A verse was revealed absolving Umar from the death of the person who did not believe in the judgment of the Holy Prophet.
Once a Jew said to Umar, "Verily Gabriel who speaks to your Master is our enemy." Umar retorted, "Whosoever is an enemy to God, or His angels, or His Apostles, or Gabriel, or Michael, verily God is an enemy to the unbelievers." Later a verse was revealed declaring that God was the enemy of unbelievers.
Wives And Children Of Umar
Before his conversion to Islam, Umar had three wives. They were:
- Zainab bint Mazaun Jamiah;
- Malaika bint Jarul Khuzai; and
- Qariba bint Umayya Makhzumi.
When Umar was converted to Islam, Zainab alone accepted Islam. After the Hudaybiah pact when God sent the words that Muslims should not marry idolatresses, Umar divorced Malaika and Qariba.
After the Hudaybiah-pact the first Muslim woman who fled from the Quraish and sought shelter with the Muslims was Sabiha bint Al-Haris. Her husband did not accept Islam. When the Quraish came to demand the restoration of Sabiha, the Holy Prophet refused to return her saying that the condition in the pact applied to men only and not to women. The Holy Prophet had Sabiha married to Umar.
In Madina, Umar married an Ansar lady Asiah bint Sabat Ansari. On marriage Umar changed her name to Jamila. Umar resided with her at Quba, and it is reported that there was great love between Umar and Jamila. A few years later Umar divorced her and shifted to Madina.
'Atika bint Zaid was a cousin of Umar. She was married to 'Abdullah a son of Abu Bakr. When her husband died, Atika felt very disconsolate. In sympathy, Umar married her in the first year of his caliphate.
Umm Hakim was the wife of 'Ikramah the son of Abu Jakl. 'Ikramah died fighting and thereafter Umm Hakim married Khalid bin Sa'id. Khalid bin Sa'id was also martyred on the Syrian front. Umm Hakim doubly bereaved was much grieved, and Umar consoled her by marrying her.
In 639 A.D., Umar married Umm Kulsum the daughter of 'Ali and Fatima. Till his death in 644 A D., Umm Kulsum remained his favorite wife.
Besides these wives, Umar had two slave girls who bore him children. These were Fakiah and Layiah.
Umar's sons included: 'Abdullah; 'Asim; Abu Shahma; Abdur Rahman; Zaid; 'Iyad and Mujir. 'Abdullah became a convert to Islam at an early age along with his father. He made a great name for himself as an expert in Fiqh and Hadis. 'Ubaidullah was well known for his bravery and fighting qualities. In revenge for the assassination of Umar, 'Ubaidullah killed Hormuzan and some other persons. 'Asim was known for his poetry and piety. Umar bin 'Abul 'Aziz the puritan Uyymaid Caliph was his daughter's son. Abu Shahma was flogged to death by Umar for the offence of drinking.
The daughters of Umar included: Hafsah Fatimah, Ruqiya and Zainab. Of these Hafsah was the most well-known as she was the wife of the Holy Prophet.
'Abdullah, 'Abdur Rahman Akbar, and Hafsah, were born to Zainab bint Mazaun.
'Ubaidullah and Zaid Asghar were the sons of Umm Kulsum who was divorced after the Hudaybiah pact.
Umm Hakim was the mother of Fatimah.
'Asim was the son of Jamila bint Sabat Ansari.
Umm Kulsum bint'Ali was the mother of Zaid and Ruqiya.
'Iyad was the son of 'Atika.
Layiah was the mother of 'Abdur Rahman al-Wast.
Fatimah was the daughter of Umm Hakim.
Zainab was the daughter of Fakiah.
Umar's Standards Of Integrity For His Family Members
Umar set up very high standards of integrity for himself and his family members. He took particular care to see that such standards were followed strictly. Whenever Umar issued any instructions for the people to follow, he brought home to his family members that he expected them to conform to such instructions strictly.
He issued strict orders that no member of his family should accept any gift from any person. Hence Umar found a new carpet with his wife Atika. He wanted to know from where the carpet had come. She said that it had been presented by Abu Musa Ashari, the Governor of Basra. Umar had the carpet immediately returned to Abu Musa. Abu Musa was reprimanded in strong terms for sending a gift to the wife of the Caliph.
'Abdullah the son of Umar purchased some camels. They were lean and were purchased cheaply. 'Abdullah sent these camels to the state pasture where they fattened. These were then sold in the market and fetched a high price. When this was brought to the notice of Umar he ordered that as the camels had been fed at the state pasture whatever profit had accrued in the sale of the camels should be deposited in the state treasury.
Once Umar saw a small girl who was lean, thin, and emaciated. Umar enquired who the girl was. 'Abdullah the son of Umar said that she was his daughter, and that she had lost weight because with the allowance that Umar allowed to his family nourishing food could not be provided. Umar said that he was giving them what he gave to other families and he could not give his family anything more than what he did to other families.
Once 'Abdullah and 'Ubaidullah two sons of Umar went to Basra. There they obtained a loan from Abu Musa on the condition that the amount would be paid to the state treasury at Madina. With this amount they purchased some merchandise and sold it at Madina. They earned considerable profit which they kept for themselves and credited the principal amount in the state treasury. When Umar came to know of this transaction he wanted his sons to credit the entire profit to the state treasury as the money with which they had traded was state money. 'Abdullah kept quiet but 'Ubaidullah protested. He said that if there had been a loss the state would not have shared it. Umar stuck to his decision, but 'Ubaidullah protested again. Some other companions intervened and it was decided that it should be treated as a case of partnership. Umar allowed his sons to retain one half of the profit and to deposit the other half in the state treasury.
Once Umar received a considerable quantity of musk. It had to be weighed and then distributed. Umar was in search of a person who could weigh musk with meticulous care. Atika the wife of Umar offered to do so as she was expert in the job. Umar did not accept the offer on the ground that when she weighed and distributed it some musk would be attached to her hands and clothes and that would be misappropriation in state property.
Once Umm Kulsum a wife of Umar purchased perfume for one dirham and sent it as a gift to the Byzantine empress. The Byzantine empress returned the empty phials of perfume filled with gems. When Umar came to know of this he sold the gems. Out of the sale proceeds he handed over one dirham to his wife and the rest was deposited in the state treasury.
Once some gifts were received in the Baitul Mal. Hafsa waited on Umar and wanted a share. Umar said:
"Dear, you have a share in my personal property, but I cannot give you a special share out of the property that belongs to the Muslims as a whole. You can get only what other Muslims get."
His son-in-law once waited on him and wanted some assistance from the Baitul Mal. Umar paid him some money from his own pocket, and did not give him anything from the Baitul Mal.
Once after distribution a ladies scarf was found surplus. The custodian of the Baitul Mal suggested that this might be offered to Umm Kulsum the wife of Umar. Umar said:
"No. Present it to Umm Salit the lady who carried the water skin on her back on the day of the battle of Uhud to distribute water among the Muslim warriors."
Once after accounting, one dirham was found surplus in the Baitul Mal. The treasurer gave the dirham to a small son of Umar. When Umar came to know of that he had the dirham returned immediately.
'Abdullah a son of Umar fought in the battle of Jalaula. He got his share of the spoils and sold it on the spot. This fetched a high value. When Umar came to know of that he said that he was allowed the high price because people thought that he was the Caliph's son. He ordered that the profit earned beyond the market value should be credited to the state treasury.
One of the sons of Umar drank wine inadvertently in Egypt. He submitted himself voluntarily to the punishment of 80 stripes at Egypt Umar was not satisfied. He called the boy to Madina and flogged him to death. When the boy was on death bed Umar said to him, "When you meet the Holy Prophet tell him that Umar is following hi' injunctions strictly."
Umar In History
During the ten years of his rule from 634 to 644 A.D., Umar changed the course of history. Emerging from the deserts of Arabia, the Arabs fortified with the faith of Islam overpowered the Byzantine power in the west and the mighty Persian empire in the east. During the short space of ten years the Muslims conquered countries comprising an area of 2,251,030 square miles. Under Umar the Islamic dominions assumed the dimensions of a continent. These extended from Mecca 1,036 miles to the north, 1.087 miles to the east, and 483 miles to the south. These countries included Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Khuzistan, Fars, Isfahan, Azarbeijan; Armenia, Makran and Khurasan. The dominions extended from the Oxus to the Nile.
There have been many conquerors in the course of history and the record of the conquests of Umar compares very favorably with the record of other conquerors. In one point the conquests of Umar surpass the conquests of all other conquerors. Whereas the conquests of other conquerors did not endure for long, the conquests of Umar in the name of Islam have endured for the last 1,400 years.
In the history of the world, Umar accordingly occupies a prominent position. He is one of the greatest men of all times. The passage of time has in no way dimmed the glory of his greatness. The life-story of Umar which we have tried to narrate in these pages projects in unmistakable terms all the qualities that male greatness. Umar lives in history as a great conqueror, a great ruler and the founder of the Muslim state. Umar lives in legend as an embodiment of all that a great ruler or a great man should be.
The qualities and characteristics of the personality of Umar include: towering personality; robust constitution; great power of mind; inflexible integrity; strong sense of justice; simplicity of habits; contempt of pomp and luxury; strong faith in his mission; strong conviction for the truth; highly developed sense of duty; absolute impartiality; devotion to Islam; extreme sense of dedication; very strong sense of justice; sympathy for the aggrieved; courage against the oppressor; energy; piety; humility; discipline; frugality; morality; political insight; accessibility; vigilance; patience; perseverance; accountability before law; equality for all; and indeed all the virtues that a ruler or a leader of men should possess.
Umar was a man of great knowledge and learning. He was a good orator. Every Friday he would address the faithful in the Prophet's mosque at Madina. Some of the addresses that he delivered on such occasions have come down to us and are masterpieces of religious teaching. While sending his forces on various expeditions he addressed them in very inspiring terms. He was a good writer and some of his letters which have come down to us show the skill of his penmanship. The instructions that he issued to his officers to regulate statebusiness are very much modern in content. Many anecdotes about him have come down to us, and these project his greatness, wisdom, and foresightedness. He was a good judge of poetry. He could freely quote appropriate verses to suit the occasion. He was a good judge of men. He could discern the truth from falsehood. He always called a spade a spade, and would never mince matters. Whatever he regarded as the truth he spoke it even though it might appear to be bitter. He enjoyed the reputation of being hard and harsh, but that was primarily because he always valued the truth, and had no hesitation in expressing it even though it might be displeasing. Howsoever stern or angry he might be, if the verses of the Holy Qur'an were read before him he would at once soften, and even burst into sobs.
Physically as well as intellectually he was a man of towering personality. But he never tried to give the impression that he was in any way superior to the people around him. He was a good critic, but his criticism was not meant for others; alone it was meant for himself as well He listened to his critics with great respect and if such criticism was unfounded he tried to explain things to them. He subjected himself to rigorous self-criticism. Whenever there was any lapse on his part, he would shut himself in a room of his house and then loudly reprimand himself. If he beat any body with his whip inadvertently and such punishment was found to be unjustified he would ask the person concerned to beat him with the whip in the same way as he had beaten him. During the famine he refused to take ghee or meat simply because the people of average means could not afford such food. He was the ruler of vast dominions but he denied himself all privileges of rulership. The allowance that he drew was just enough for a person of average means. When the people around him insisted that his allowance should be raised, he refused to accept any increase. And when he died he willed that after the sale of his property the entire amount of the allowance that he had drawn should be refunded to the treasury.
He set very high standards of integrity, and was the first to practice what he preached. His son 'Abdullah was a very talented man but he refused to give him any office. One of his sons Abu Shama was found guilty of drinking and Umar had him flogged to death. Once a Governor gave some gift to one of his wives. Umar returned the gift and rebuked the Governor. Once a wife of Umar sent some perfume as a gift to the wife of the emperor of Byzantine. The wife of the emperor of Byzantine sent some gift in return. Umar sold the gift and credited the proceeds to the state treasury.
He ate the coarsest of food, and wore clothes of the coarsest of cloth. Once he was late for the Friday prayer and the explanation that he offered was that he had his clothes washed, and they took some time to dry which delayed his departure for the mosque Umar the ruler of the largest empire of the time had only one shirt in his wardrobe and that too was patched. When the envoy of the Byzantine emperor came to Madina, he expected that the Caliph would be living in a heavily guarded palace. The envoy found no palace and no guard. He found the Caliph sitting in the mosque in the company of ordinary people. Umar was the living embodiment of the doctrine of equality before law. Once he appeared in a suit in a law court and when the Judge wanted to show him some respect for the office he held, he desired that no preference should be shown to him in any way and that the law must have its course. When a messenger riding a dromedary came from Iraq carrying the news of the victory of the Muslims at the battle of Qadisiyya, Umar met the messenger a few miles outside Madina and ran all the way by the side of the dromedary of the messenger hearing the news and without disclosing his identity to the man who had brought the news. When Umar went to Palestine to receive the surrender of the city of Jerusalem the world witnessed the strange spectacle of Umar's slave riding the camel, and Umar the mighty Caliph, walking on foot holding the reins of the camel.
Umar would perambulate the streets of Madina at night carrying his whip in his hand. The whip would freely descend on any one found guilty of any lapse or excess regardless of his status. Once a chief was found passing through the streets of Madina at the head of a procession of his followers. Umar whipped him for this display of arrogance. A prince of Syria who had accepted Islam and was staying at Madina and Mecca as a state guest slapped a man who accidentally trod on his feet in the course of the Hajj. Umar laid down that the man who had been slapped could in turn slap the prince.
Umar kept a watch over the people as a shepherd would keep a watch over his animals. A blind woman in Madina had no one to attend to her needs. Umar visited her frequently and attended to her needs. In a cottage a woman was found cooking stone in a kettle merely to give the children the impression that food was being cooked for them whereas there was nothing in the house to be cooked. Umar carried a bag of flour and other eatables on his own back and handed them over to the lady. A Bedouin and his wife came to Madina and were in a predicament as the lady suffered from the pains of childbirth. Umar's wife acted as a midwife and Umar sat all the time outside the tent awaiting the birth of a child.
He took particular care to appoint men of approved integrity to high offices under the state. He watched over them like a hawk, and as soon as any lapse on their part came to the notice of Umar immediate action was taken. People were free to complain against their officers. Impartial enquiries were held and when any officer was found guilty he was removed and punished. All the Governors were required to assemble at Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj, and here any person could complain against any officer. Umar exhorted all concerned to realize that the officers were not meant to rule; they were there to serve the people, and build up a welfare state. Umar's concept of administration was:
"By God he that is weakest among you shall be in my eyes the strongest until I have vindicated for him his right. He that is strongest I will treat as the weakest until he complies with law."
No political thinker or ruler since Umar has been able to come forward with a better concept of the purpose of the state than the concept enunciated by Umar. About the ruler and the ruled relationship, Umar said:
"People generally hate their ruler and I seek protection of Allah lest my people should entertain similar feelings about me."
Some of his standing instructions to his executive were: "Avoid vain suspicions; keep away from malice; do not encourage people to cherish vain hopes; be careful in respect of Allah's property in your charge; be accessible to the people; guard yourself against evil men; seek the company of the righteous; attend to your job with due diligence; do not procrastinate in the dispatch of state business; watch your subordinates; take immediate action against those who are corrupt or inefficient; and award merit." All these instructions given 1,400 years ago would be as true today as these were then.
Umar stood for quick and impartial justice. Umar appointed capable and upright persons as Judges. He instructed his Judges in the following terms:
"Justice is an important obligation. Treat the people equally in your presence, in your company, and in your decisions, so that the weak despair not of justice and the high placed have no hope of your favor . When you are in doubt on a question and find nothing about it in the Quran or in the Sunna of the Prophet think over the question; ponder over the precedents and analogous cases and then decide by analogy."
Umar took special pains to project Islam in the proper perspective as a living faith. There was a school of thought who held that religion was mystical and supra-rational and as such the injunctions of religion including Islam were not to be tested on the basis of intellect or reason. Umar founded what later came to be called Israr Ilmuddin. He held that Islam was a rational religion and all its injunctions and practices could be tested and justified on the basis of reason and intellect. He was the first Muslim to undertake Ijtihad, and lay down new laws in keeping with the spirit of Islam. In the Holy Quran no punishment was laid down for drinking. Umar laid down a penalty of 80 lashes in this behalf. The position about Mutah was not clear. ' Umar forbade Mutah. The position about three divorces was not clear. Umar held that even when three divorces were announced at one sitting the divorce was irrevocable. In the month of Ramadan Umar enjoined upon the Muslims to offer Tarawik in congregation.
Umar took pains to ensure that the faish of Islam should remain pure and should have no characteristic of idolatry about it. The tree under which the Holy Prophet took the oath of allegiance on the occasion of the Hudaybiah pact came to he regarded by the people as something sacred. Umar had the tree uprooted to avoid idolatrous veneration thereof. On the way from Madina to Mecca there was a mosque where the Holy Prophet had once said his prayers. It became the practice that the pilgrims offered extra prayers at the mosque. Umar forbade the practice. The Black Stone at the Kaaba came to be held as sacred. Umar held that it was just a stone. At one stage the Holy Prophet had ordered Rummal in Hajj, under which the first rounds in the case of the Kaaba were to be performed running. Umar was of the view that Rummal had been provided under circumstances which no longer existed. He did not abrogate the practice but nevertheless held that if some body could not run that did not matter.
Umar is known for his humanitarian reforms. He provided privileges for slaves. He emancipated girl slaves who bore their masters children. Full protection was afforded to the Dhimmis. In the matter of citizenship they were treated at par with other citizens.
In the social field Umar took particular steps to build a social order according to the teachings of Islam. Prohibition was enforced with great strictness. It was the practice with Arab poets to mention the names of their beloveds in their poetry. Umar prohibited the practice. The poets also indulged in satires and lampoons. Umar issued strict instructions that no poet should write satires and lampoons. Umar also ordered that in their verses the poets should not extol non-Islamic virtues. Umar laid down that no person, howsoever rich should build a double storeyed house, and no house should comprise more than three rooms.
The political and social order that Umar set up by applying the principles of Islam was more democratic than the democracies of today and more socialist than the socialist countries of today. That order has remained the ideal for all Muslim countries to revive.
Because of his achievements, Umar occupies an outstanding place in the history of the world. We do not come across any other ruler in world history who led so simple a life and yet inspired awe and terror among his people and his foes alike. The awe and fear that Umar commanded was because of his high moral character People feared him because he feared God. Umar was an embodiment of the virtues of Islam. About him the Holy Prophet said:
"If God had wished that there should have been another prophet after me, he would have been Umar."
About Umar we can appropriately say what Girami said of Iqbal, namely:
"In the eyes of those who know the secret of things, He fulfilled a prophet's role, but he cannot be called a prophet."
Umar led a very eventful life. We narrate hereunder in chronological order the main events in the life of Umar.
Umar was born in Mecca around 580 A.D. He started independent business around 600 A.D. He married in the first decade of the seventh century.
He was converted to Islam in 616 A.D. at the age of 26. He migrated to Madina in 622 A.D.
He participated in the battle of Badr in 623 A.D.
He participated in the battle of Uhud in 625 A.D. A few months after the battle of Uhud, Hasah the daughter of Umar was married to the Holy Prophet of Islam.
In 627 Umar participated in the battle of the Ditch and the campaign against Banu Mustaliq.
In 628 Umar was present on the occasion of the Hudaybiah pact. Thereafter he participated in the Khyber campaign. He divorced his wives Qariba and Malaika who did not accept Islam. He married Sabiha and Jamila.
In 630 Umar participated in the conquest of Mecca and in the campaigns of Hunain and Ta'if.
In 632 he participated in the farewell pilgrimage. This year the Holy Prophet died. Umar played an important role in getting Abu Bakr elected as the Caliph.
Abu Bakr died in 634, and Umar became the Caliph. During this year the Muslims captured Damascus on the Syrian front. On the Iraq front there was the battle of Namaraq in September; the battle of Kaskar in October and the battle of the Bridge in November 634 A D.
In 635 Umar married Atika. During the Ramadan Umar organized Tarawih on congregation basis. On the Syrian front the battle of Fahl was fought in January. Beisan and Tabariyya were captured in March. The battle of Marj Rum was fought in March whereby Damascus was reoccupied. In April the Muslim forces reached Emessa and a truce was arrived at. In the Southern Iraq sector Ubala was captured in April. The region of Aburqubaz and Meisan was occupied in November.
In 636 Umar introduced the Hijri calendar. In Central Syria the city of Emessa was captured in March. In Southern Syria the Muslims won the battle of Yermuk in August. the battle of Ajnadin was fought in December. On the Iraq front the battle of Qadisiyya was won by the Muslims in November. Thereafter began the march to Al-Mada'in. The battles of Burs, Babylon and Sura on the way to Mada'in were fought in December.
In 637 Umar married Umm Hakim. This year stipends and allowances were sanctioned for the Muslims. On the Syrian front Qinissrin, Aleppo, and Antioch were captured. The whole of North Syria was cleared of the Byzantines. On the Iraq front Mada'in was captured in April. Takeet and Mosul were occupied in May. The battle of Jalaula was won in November. Khanqueen and Qirqassia were occupied in December.
In 638 Umar adopted the title of 'Amir-ul-Mumnin.' The Jews and Christians were expelled from Arabia proper and settled in Iraq and Syria. On the Syfian front Jerusalem and Caesaria were captured. On the Iraq front Hulwan, Masabzan, Heet and Ahwaz were captured. During the year the city of Kufa was established in Central Iraq, and the city of Basra in Southern Iraq.
In 639 Arabia was afflicted by a severe famine. Umar organized relief measures on a large scale. Plague broke out in Syria and Iraq and caused considerable havoc. Amr bin Al-Aas marched to Egypt. On the Iraq front Ahwaz, Dauraq and Ram Hormuz were occupied by the Muslims.
In 640 there were battles of Farma, Bilbeis and Babylon in Egypt which were won by the Muslims. On the Iraq front there was the battle of Tustar which was won by the Muslims, In 641 the Muslims captured Alexandria on the Egyptian front Sus was occupied on the Iraq front in January. On this front Jande Sabur was occupied in March. The historic battle of Nihawand was won by the Muslims in December.
In 641 an expedition was undertaken to Nubia. The Muslims advanced to Burqa and Fezzan in North Africa. During this year the city of Fustat was founded as the capital of Egypt. On the Persian front war was carried and the Muslims occupied Hamadan, Isfahan, Rayy, Tabaristan, Fars and Sistan.
In 643 the Muslims occupied Sabrata and Tripoli but these advance posts were subsequently abandoned and the Muslims withdrew to Egypt. On the Persian front Khurasan and Azerbaijan were occupied by the Muslims during the year.
During 644 Makran and Armenia were occupied. During this year Umar was assassinated and that was the end of a glorious and eventful career.