Life Before Islam
Umar (Raziallah Anho) belonged to "'Adi" family of Quraish tribe. In the 8th
generation, his lineage joins with the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam).
Abu Hafs was his patronymic name and "al-Faruq" his title given by the
Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). He was born in 583 A.C., about
forty years before the great Hijrah. The early life of Hadrat Umar is not
known in detail. In his youth he was a famous wrestler and orator, and a
spirited person. He was one among the few people in Makkah who knew
reading and writing before Islam. His main occupation was business.
When the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) got revelation and
invited people to Islam, Umar became the sworn enemy of Islam and the Holy
Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) and did not hesitate to harm the
Muslims and Islam at every opportunity.
Umar's acceptance of Islam
It was the sixth year of Holy Prophet's mission when Quraish leaders
called a meeting and asked a volunteer for the assassination of the Holy
Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) Umar offered himself for this job and
everybody in the meeting exclaimed that he was the right person for it.
While he was on his way with a sword in his hand he met Sa'd bin Abi
Waqqas who enquired of him about his destination. Umar told him that he
was going to murder the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). After
some discussion Sa'd said, "You had better take care of your own family
first. Your sister and brother-in-law both have accepted Islam". Hearing
this Umar changed his direction and went straight to his sister's house.
When Hadrat Umar knocked at the door, they were studying the Holy Qur'an
from Hadrat Khabbab (Raziallah Anho). His sister Fatimah was frightened on hearing
Umar’s voice and tried to hide the portion of the Holy Qur'an she was
reciting. When Umar entered the house he enquired about their Islam and on
finding that they had accepted Islam, he first fell upon his
brother-in-law and beat him severely. When his sister intervened he smote
her so violently on her face that it bled profusely. On this his sister
burst out: "Do whatever you like, we are determined to die as Muslims".
When Umar saw his sister bleeding, he cooled down and felt ashamed. He
loved Fatimah very much but could not tolerate her conversion to Islam.
However, deeply moved, Umar asked her to show the pages on which the Holy
Qur'an was written. But she was, after all, Umar’s sister and told him
straight, "You can not touch it unless you take a bath and make yourself
clean" He washed his body and then read the leaves. That was the beginning
of Surah Ta Ha (Chapter 20 of the Holy Qur'an). When he came to the verse:
"Lo! I even I, am Allah, there is no god save Me. So serve Me and
establish Salat for My remembrance". (20:14)
Umar exclaimed, "Surely this is the Word of Allah. Take me to Muhammad (Sallallahu
’alaihi wa Sallam)".
On hearing this Hadrat Khabbab (Raziallah Anho), who had hidden himself in the
house, came out from inside and said, "0 "Umar! Glad tidings for you. It
seems that the prayer of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam)
which he said last night has been answered in your favour. He had prayer
to Allah: "O Allah, strengthen Islam with either Umar b. Khattab or Umar
b. Hisham whomsoever Thou pleaseth".
Umar then went to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ’alaihi wa Sallam). On
seeing him, the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) asked him, "Umar!
what brings you here”? He said, "I am here to accept Islam". Hearing this
the Muslims shouted with joy, "Allahu Akbar"(Allah is the Greatest) and
the sound rent the air of Makkah. As a matter of fact, Umar’s conversion
to Islam was a terrible blow to the morale of the disbelieves. 'Abdullah
bin Mas'ud, a great Companion, says, "Umar's conversion to Islam was a
great triumph, his emigration to Medina a tremendous reinforcement and his
accession to Caliphate a great blessing for the Muslims". In some history
books there are more details in this connection. I have followed the
version of Shaikh Muhammad Zakariya (Damat Barakatuhu) given in his book "
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Umar (Raziallah Anho) gets the
title of "Al-Faruq"
Conversion of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) strengthened Islam. Hitherto, Muslims had
lived in constant fear of disbelievers, and most of them were concealing
their faith. The Muslims were now able to offer their Salat publicly. When
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) became a Muslim he declared his faith openly before the
Quraish Chiefs. Though they stared at him but could not do any harm to
him. Then he requested the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) to
offer Salat in the Ka'bah. On getting the consent of the Holy Prophet (Sal
Allaho Alehe Wassallam), Hadrat Umar led a party of the Muslims to that
place. Hadrat Hamzah, who had accepted Islam a few days before Umar (Raziallah Anho)
carried another party of the Muslims to Ka'bah. When all the Muslims
gathered in the Ka'bah they offered their Salat in congregation. The Holy
Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) led this first public Salat in the
history of Islam. For this courageous and bold action of Hadrat Umar (R.A)
the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) gave him the title of "al-Faruq"
i.e., the one who makes a distinction between the "Right" (Haqq) and the
Migration to Medina
When the Muslims were ordered to migrate to Medina, most of them left
Makkah quietly and secretly, but Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) declared it openly. He
put on his arms and first went to the Ka'bah. After performing the Salat
he announced loudly: "I am migrating to Medina. If anyone wants to check
me, let him come out. I am sure that his mother would cry for his life".
There was no man in Makkah to accept the challenge of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho).
Then he migrated to Medina boldly.
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services to Islam before his Khilafat (Caliphate)
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) had great love for Allah and the Holy Prophet (Sal
Allaho Alehe Wassallam). He participated in almost all the big battles:
Badr, Uhad, Ahzab, Khaibar, Hunain etc. In the expedition to "Tabuk" he
gave half of his wealth in the path of Allah. He was next to Hadrat Abu
Bakr (Raziallah Anho) to sacrifice his belongings for the cause of Allah.
The Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) also had a deep love for
him. Once he remarked, "were a prophet to come after me, he would have
been Umar". In another Hadith mentioned in Bukhari, Hadrat Abu Hurairah
(Raziallah Anho) narrated that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihi wa Sallam) said,
"In Bani Isra'il (Israelites) there were people who were not prophets but
talked to Allah. Were anyone in my Ummah (people) like those persons, he
would be Umar".
The death of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) was a great
shock to him, and he could not believe it until Hadrat Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho)
reminded him of a clear verse of the Holy Qur'an on the subject. He then
went to the Council Hall along with Hadrat Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho) where the
people of Medina had assembled to select the First Caliph. Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) was the first person to pledge loyalty(Bai'at) at the hand of
Hadrat Abu Bakr(Raziallah Anho), and then helped him throughout the duration of his
(Raziallah Anho) as the Second Caliph of Islam
As described in connection with the life of Hadrat Abu-Bakr, during his
illness he consulted the "Shura" about the next "Khalifah" and then gave
his decision in favour of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) who took the charge of
Caliphate after the death of Hadrat Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho) on 22nd of
Jamadi-uth-Thani 13 A.H. (23rd Aug. 634 A.C.).Umar (Raziallah Anho) followed fully
the ways of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) and the policy
of his predecessor with his characteristic zeal and vigour. It was his
strict adherence to the "Sunnah" of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe
Wassallam) which helped him to subdue the mighty empires of Persia and
Byzantine. His caliphate marked the "Golden Age" of Islam. I would like to
discuss only main events which took place during the Caliphate of Hadrat
Umar (Raziallah Anho) in brief.
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Fall of Persian Empire
During the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho), Hadrat Khalid bin Walid
conquered part of Persian Empire, known as the Kingdom of Hira. Then he
was ordered by Hadrat Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho) to join the expedition to Syria.
At the time of his departure, he appointed Muthanna bin Harith as the
commander of the Islamic army. The Persians became furious at the loss of
the kingdom of Hira and the Emperor sent a large army under the command of
a very famous General, Rustam the Commander-in-Chief of Persian armies. In
view of the growing pressure of Persians, Muthanna requested Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) for reinforcement. At that time there was a large gathering of
Muslims in Medina to take pledge of loyalty (Bai'at) at the hand of the
new Caliph (Hadrat Umar). He put the matter before the Muslims but did not
get any response in the beginning. Then Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) in his sermons
stressed the importance of Jihad and a large number of Muslims volunteered
to help Muthanna against the Persians. Abu‘Ubaid ath-Thaqafi was appointed
as the commander of the Islamic army comprising five thousand men. In the
meantime Persians attacked the places conquered by Muslims and they lost
some of them. In the early stage of the battles Rustam sent his
subordinates to face Muslims.
The Battle of Namariq
When Abu‘Ubaid had reached there a battle took place at "Namariq" and the
Muslims won it. A number of famous generals of Persians army including
Jaban, right hand of Rustam, were killed in the battle. Then some small
battles also took place at Kaskar etc.
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The Battle of the Bridge
The defeat of Persians startled Rustam and he gathered a huge army to face
the Muslims. The army met the Muslims on the other bank of the Euphrates
under the command of Bahman, a famous Persian warrior. Bahman asked Hadrat
Abu Ubaid whether Persians should cross the river or the Muslims. Hadrat
Abu‘Ubaid was over-confident and chose to cross the river, although some
of the Muslim generals like Muthanna did not like to cross the river, and
preferred to let the Persians come. The Islamic army crossed the river but
lost the battle. Hadrat Abu 'Ubaid was also martyred and Muslims fell one
after the other. Muthanna took over the command and ordered rebuilding of
the bridge which had been destroyed. The elephants of the Persian army
caused considerable damage to the Muslim army. However Muthanna could save
only 3000 men out of an army of 9000.
The Battle of Buwaib
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was shocked at the defeat of the Muslim army. He sent
special messengers to various tribes and exhorted the Muslims to prepare
for the Holy War against Persians. A new reinforcement was sent to
Muthanna's army. In this army a number of Christian Arabs were also
The Persians also gathered a huge army. This time Rustam, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Persian armies, appointed Mehran Hamdani as the
Commander because he had travelled Arabia and knew the Arabian way of
fighting. The Muslim army, under the command of Muthanna, met the Persians
at a place called Buwaib (where "Kufa” is situated). The Muslims invited
the Persians to cross the river and they accepted it. The number of Muslim
army was a little more than 20,000 while the Persians (Iranians) several
times larger in number, were estimated as two hundred thousands. A fierce
battle took place. Muslims fought desperately and after a grim fight, the
Persians were defeated. They could not find the way to cross the river
Euphrates because the bridge built by them was destroyed by the Muslims.
There was a total disorder in the Persian army. The commander of the army,
Mehran was slain in this battle and not less than a hundred thousand men
lost their lives in the field. As a result of this victory the whole of
western part of Persians Empire (now Iraq) fell into Muslim hands.
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Change of Persian Ruler
The great defeat at Buwaib shocked the Persian Empire. It was not only a
cause of great disturbance to the rulers but to the public as well. For
the first time they realised the strength of Muslims. The news of loss of
one hundred thousand Persians and only few hundred Muslims was received
with great surprise. At that time a woman, Puran Dukht was the Empress.
The Iranians (Persians) replaced the Empress by a young 21 year old
Emperor, Yezdgird. The new Emperor reorganised the army and strengthened
the frontier defences. There arose a number of rebellions in the places
conquered by Muslims as a result of which Muslims again lost some of the
parts which they had conquered.
When Hadrat Umar heard this news he asked Muthanna to call the border
tribes and to return within safer borders till reinforcement reached him.
He himself declared "Jihad" all over the land and sent emissaries to
collect an army for the Holy War. An army of 20,000 Muslims was collected.
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) himself wanted to lead the army this time but the
"Shura" (Advisory Council) did not agree to it. The name of Hadrat Sa'd
bin Abi Waqqas (Raziallah Anho), a great warrior and one of the uncles of the Holy
Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) was proposed to lead the army to
which Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) agreed. The army was having 70 of those
Companions who had participated in the first battle of Islam at Badr. When
the army was leaving Medina, Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) gave instructions to
Hadrat Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas (Raziallah Anho). Some of those are as under
"Allah does not repel evil with evil but he repels evil with good. All men
high and low are equal before Him. One can win Allah's favour only through
devotion to His service. Remember that the "Sunnah"(the Way) of the Holy
Prophet is the only correct way of doing things. You are going on a heavy
mission which you can discharge only by following the Truth. Inculcate
good habits in yourselves and in your companions."
This advice clearly shows that the aim of Muslims was to proclaim Allah's
message --- ISLAM, rather than to fight. The sword was used to clear the
barriers in the way.
In the meantime Muthanna died and his brother Bashir joined Hadrat Sa'd
(Raziallah Anho) with an army of eight thousand. Hadrat Sa'd was in direct contact
with Hadrat Umar all the time who was constantly giving instructions about
the movement of the army from place to place. Finally Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho)
sent instructions to it to encamp at Qadisiya and to send an envoy to the
Persian Emperor, Yezdgird, with the Message of Islam and peace.
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Following the instructions of the Caliph, Hadrat Sa'd encamped at Qadisiya.
The Muslims had to wait there for about two months for the Persian armies.
In the meantime Hadrat Sa'd sent an envoy to the Emperor Yezdgird.
Yezdgird held his court to receive Muslim envoys. The court was a mirror
of the worldly pomp and glory of the Persians. Hadrat Nu'man bin Maqram
invited the Persians and the Emperor to Islam and told them about the Holy
Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). He said: "0 Persians, we call you
towards the path of peace, i.e. Islam. If you accept it, you are our
brothers and we will leave Allah's Book. the Holy Qur'an, for your
guidance to follow His, commandments. If you reject this sacred message,
pay us the "Jizra"(Defence Tax). The third alternative is the sword in
case you reject the first two offers, so that we may take our own course
to spread this message."
Yezdgird who was very proud of his power and army, lost his temper on
hearing this and insulted the envoys. He got a basket full of earth and
put it on the head of the leader, Hadrat 'Asim (Raziallah Anho). When Hadrat 'Asim
carried the earth to Hadrat Sa'd (Raziallah Anho), he took it as a sign for victory.
The ill-treatment of the Persian Emperor hastened the war.
The Emperor sent an army of one hundred thousand men. This time Rustam,
the Commander-in-Chief, was himself leading the Persian army. Other famous
commanders of the army were Jalinus, Mahran bin Bahram Razi and Harmuzan.
Rustam was afraid of Muslims and hesitated to face them. He took six
months to reach Qadisiya from Mada'in, the capital. He wanted to negotiate
with the Muslims in the first instance. Therefore he asked them to send a
delegation. The Muslim delegation went to Rustam's camp at the head of
Hadrat Rabi' bin 'Amir (Raziallah Anho) There took place much discussion but no
decision was reached. Hadrat Rabi' (Raziallah Anho) gave the message of Islam boldly
and put the same three conditions which were put before the Emperor by
Hadrat Nu'man. On the second day Rustam again asked Hadrat Sa'd (Raziallah Anho) to
send the delegation. This time he sent Hadrat Hudhaifah (Raziallah Anho) who also
put the same three conditions and told him if he did not accept them
within three days, the third alternative i.e., the use of sword would
remain and would be acted upon. Third day Rustam again requested Muslims
to send an emissary and this time Hadrat Mughirah bin Shu'bah (Raziallah Anho) went.
Rustam tried to negotiate in terms of money by saying: "I think you are
poor and hungry. We would give you so much of wealth that would be
sufficient for the whole of your life." Hearing this Hadrat Mughirah
(Raziallah Anho) angrily replied, "Of course we were hungry and poor but Allah sent
His Messenger to us because of whom our fate changed and Allah nourished
us. He asked us to obey only One God and to spread His message. If you
follow His message (Islam) you are our brothers, we will never fight with
you. If you don't, then let us spread His Kalimah and you pay to us "Jizya"
(Defence Tax) otherwise the sword will give the final decision." Hearing
this Rustam got furious and vowed to kill all the Muslims as soon as the
sun rose the next day. Hadrat Mughirah (Raziallah Anho) returned to the Muslim camp
saying: "La haula wala quw-wata illa billahil'Azim" (There is neither any
power nor any might besides Allah, the High).
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The Battle of Qadisiya
As soon as Hadrat Mughirah left the Persian Camp, Rustam asked his army to
prepare for the attack in the morning. There was a canal between the two
armies. He ordered building of a bridge over it. Next day in the morning
he crossed the canal to attack the Muslims. When both the armies were
ready to fight, Hadrat Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas (Raziallah Anho) told Rustam through an
epistle: "Rustam! There are people with me to whom death (in the Path of
Allah) is more attractive than is wine to the people in your army."
At last the battle started at Qadisiya in the month of Muharram, 14 A.H.
(June, 637). Hadrat Sa'd was sick and directed the operations from the
sick bed. This battle was hotly contested and lasted for three days.
Muslims were about 28,000 in number while the Persian army was estimated
at 120,000 (four times bigger than Islamic army). Rustam displayed great
skill in arraying his troops. On the first day the battle started amidst
loud cries of "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest). Though the Muslims
displayed great valour and skill but the Persian elephants played havoc
with the Muslim cavalry. The Arab horses were not trained to fight in a
battle having elephants. However Muslim archers and lancers rained arrows
and spheres and knocked down many elephant riders. The battle ended
without reaching a final decision on the first day. The following day the
battle again ended without a victory for any of the two armies. On the
third day Muslims wrapped pieces of cloth round the bodies of their camels
to frighten the Persian elephants. The plan worked out successfully.
Moreover a number of Muslim archers pierced the eyes of the elephants and
cut their trunks. The blind elephants ran towards the Persian army and
destroyed their ranks. The battle continued to the fourth day. Now the
blind elephants played a havoc with the Persians themselves. Then some of
the Muslim warriors from among the chief of the clans rushed towards
Rustam and destroyed the special battalion around him. The canopy of
Rustam was blown in the air and he himself tried to flee. He was detected
by the Muslims and was slain. Seeing their slain Commander, the Persians
started fleeing for their lives. Thousands of Persians were slain. There
were about six thousand Muslim casualties while the number of the Persians
killed was thirty thousand.
The battle of Qadisiya proved to be decisive in the history of Islam. It
shattered the strength of the Persian Empire. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) received
the news with great joy. The Muslims gained immense booty which was
distributed among the troops according to the Islamic law and a fifth
portion was despatched to the Baitul Mal.
Following the victory at Qadisiya, Muslims chased the Persians. They
captured Babal and Kutha and then laid siege to Bahrah Sher, a very
important and strong fort at the outskirts of the Persian capital, Mada'in
(Ctesiphon). The siege went on for two months and ultimately Muslims
captured the fort. The next step was to conquer Mada'in, the capital
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Fall of Mada'in (Ctesiphon), the Capital of Persian Empire
The City of Mada'in was situated on the east bank of river Tigris and was
almost surrounded by it. After a rest of few months, Hadrat Sa'd took
permission from Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) to invade the Capital. When Hadrat Sa'd
(Raziallah Anho) marched, the Persians destroyed the bridge on the river. The river
was deep and turbulent but the determination of Muslims was not affected.
They were having full faith in Allah, Almighty, the Creator of the
Universe. It has been recorded in some books of history that on finding
the destruction of the bridge by the Persians Hadrat Sa'd said: "Allah
made a way in the Red Sea for Moses and his followers, He will surely help
us who are following His Last Prophet, Hadrat Muhammad (Sal Allaho Alehe
Wassallam)." He consulted the generals of his army and then ordered the
Muslims to go across. First of all sixty horsemen plunged themselves in
the river and crossed it. Then the whole army crossed the river as if it
was walking on the ground. Seeing the Muslims crossing the river the
Persian archers rained arrows on the Muslims. Hadrat Sa'd had already
appointed six hundred archers on a nearby hill. They assaulted the
Persians who ran away saying: "Dev amdand, Dev amdand"(i.e., "The giants
have come! The giants have come!”). The Muslims crossed the Tigris without
any severe loss. Yezdgird and his ministers had already fled and the
capital was captured without any opposition. With this victory the whole
of the territory between the Euphrates and the Tigris came under the
possession of the Muslims. The prophecy of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho
Alehe Wassallam) came true: "A group of Muslims will capture the White
Palace of the Persian Emperor".
Both Hadrat Umar and Hadrat Sa'd (Radiallahu anhuma) thanked Allah for
this great victory. When the rich booty from the White Palace of Yezdgird
reached Medina, tears came out in the eyes of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) and he
remarked, "I am weeping because riches are often the cause of enmity and
mutual bitterness. Those people who have such evils, ultimately lose
The Battle of Jalula
The Persian Emperor took shelter in Hulwan and started preparation for a
big assault on the Muslims. Now Kharzad, brother of Rustam was the
Commander-in Chief. He gathered a huge army to avenge the past defeats.
After consultations with Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) Hadrat Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas
(Raziallah Anho) sent an army under the command of Hashim and Qa'qas to face the
Persian army at Jalula. Again a fierce battle was fought and ultimately
the Persians were defeated who fled further north.
The Muslims advanced ahead and captured Qaka and finally Hulwan where
Yezdgird, the Emperor was staying. He fled to Khurasan and settled down in
Mery. The last big battle was fought in the month of Muharram, 19 A.H.
(642 A.C.) at Nihawand in which the Persians were completely defeated.
Then a number of small battles took place and the Muslims conquered Hamdan,
Azerbaijan and Armenia by the year 21 A.H.
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Muslim Rule over the Persian
The Persian Emperor fled to Isphan, then to Kirman and from there to Balkh.
The Muslims chased him everywhere. Ultimately the whole of Persia came
under the sway of Islam, by the year 23 A.H. The Muslims marched as east
as Sind (the Indian territory, now Pakistan). They captured Makran and
Baluch. But Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) stopped them who were under the command of
Hakam at that time. He did not want to extend his frontiers at the price
of Muslim blood. Thus Makran was the last place in the east under the rule
of Muslims during the caliphate of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). After the capture
of Persian Empire, Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) remarked: "Allah has destroyed the
Persian Empire, now they cannot harm the Muslims. O Muslims, if you do not
follow the Straight Path, Allah would take this power from you and hand it
over to whom He likes".
It must be clarified here that at no place Muslims forced non-Muslims to
accept Islam. Islam spread because of its teachings and because of the
practical life of Muslims. Some western scholars have accepted this fact.
Raziallah Anho Nicholson writes in A Literary History of the Arabs, "It must not be
supposed that the followers of Zoroaster and Christ in these countries
were forcibly converted to Islam. Thousands embraced it voluntarily."
The conquest of the Persian Empire provided the Muslims with unlimited
resources. At the same time it also brought Muslims into touch with
luxuries and as time passed they gave up their simple living and fell prey
to some vices prevailing in those days Hadrat Umar had feared.
The cities of Basra and Kufa
Muslims established two military cantonments one at Basra and the other at
Kufa in 638 A.C. Later on these cantonments became big cities. Basra was
established at the Shatt-ul-Arab and was important because it guarded the
passage from the Persian Gulf to Mesopotamia. Kufa was founded at the bank
of the Euphrates. Afterwards these cities became important centres of
Islamic culture and civilisation.
Conquest of Syria
The causes of the war between the Muslims and the Byzantines (commonly
called as Romans) have already been discussed. During the time of Hadrat
Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho) the Muslims had defeated Romans on the Syrian front and
captured a number of cities like Busra and Ajnadain. They laid siege to
Damascus when Hadrat Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho) passed away. After his death they
captured Damascus, Hims and Qansrin. In all the three battles Hadrat
Khalid bin Walid played an important role. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) recognised
Khalid's merits and said, "May Allah bless the soul of Abu Bakr, he put
Khalid in the right place".
The fall of these important cities made the Byzantine Emperor, Heraclius,
furious and he sent a huge army to fight with the Muslims. In order to
face this big army, Muslims left some of the places, occupied by them and
returned to safer border. When the Islamic armies were leaving the
conquered places they paid back the "Jizya" (the Defence Tax) received
from the non-Muslim inhabitants of those places saying: "Since we cannot
protect you, we are returning it." This was a unique example in history.
The people of those places were greatly impressed by the Muslims'
treatment. It is given in some books that the people of those places cried
when Muslims left their places.
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The Battle of
Yarmuk: (Rajab 15 A.H./636 A.C.)
After the fall of Damascus, Hims and other places, the Romans fled to
Antioch where Heraclius was staying and was thinking of moving to
Constantinople, his permanent capital. They appealed to Heraclius to help
them against the Muslim armies. He held this court at Antioch and to beg
an raising a huge army against the Muslims to wipe them out of Syria.
The Muslims had already gathered at Yarmuk to face the Roman Byzantine
army. The Romans were several times larger in number than the Muslims. In
the beginning the commond was in the hand of Hadrat Khalid bin Walid
(Raziallah Anho) but during the battle he received the letter of Hadrat Umar
deposing him from the post of Commander-in-Chief. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho)
appointed Abu 'Ubaidah bin Jarrah (Raziallah Anho) as the Commander-in-Chief. A
fierce battle was fought on the 20th Aug., 636, and at the end the Romans
lost the field. The cavalry fled and the infantry was put to sword.
Theodorus, the Commander of Roman army himself fell and his entire army
was turned into a fleeing, panic-stricken mob. According to Tabari, about
one hundred thousand Romans were killed in this battle. Muslim causalities
were three thousand.
The battle of Yarmuk was a turning point in the history of Byzantine
Empire. The power of Byzantine was crushed in the battle. The fate of
Syria was decided and it fell in the hands of Muslims for ever. Hearing
the defeat at Yarmuk, Heraclius left Antioch and fled to Constantinople
saying: Farewell, O Syria! and what an excellent country this is for the
(Note: According to some historians it was the 2nd battle of Ajnadan and
not the battle of Yarmuk which took place in 15 A.H.).
Hadrat Khalid (Raziallah Anho) from the command
Hadrat Khalid bin Walid (Raziallah Anho) was a successful and powerful general of
Islam. He occupied a unique position in the history of heroism, and
devoted his whole life to the cause of Islam. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) always
appreciated his services. But there were certain complaints against him,
especially for being extravagant, when he awarded 10,000 dinars to a poet.
Hadrat Khalid could not give satisfactory explanation to Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) hence he was removed from the command. But Hadrat Khalid proved to
be a very true Muslim and fought like an ordinary soldier in the army. As
narrated above, he was deposed when the battle of Yarmuk was going on. The
Caliph’s order was delivered to Khalid but it had no effect on him. He
went on fighting as fiercely as before. After the battle was over, his
dismissal became known. When somebody asked him why the news did not damp
his spirit at all, he said, "I was fighting for the cause of Allah."
According to those historians who hold the opinion that the Battle of
Yarmuk took place before the fall of Damascus, Hadrat Khalid was deposed
in the early part of Umar’s (Raziallah Anho) caliphate, while some think it took
place around 17 A.H. because according to them the battle of Yarmuk took
place after the fall of Damascus.
Regarding the removal of Hadrat Khalid some of the Muslim historians say:
"He (Hadrat Umar) had deposed Khalid from the government, not because of
tyranny or fraud, but because he deemed it essential to admonish the
people, who were inclined to put their trust in an arm of flesh, instead
of looking to the Giver of all victory"
Fall of Jerusalem
Hadrat Amr bin al-'As was in the beginning leading the army in front of
Jerusalem. After the capture of Antioch and other key cities of Byzantium,
Hadrat Abu'Ubaidah also joined him along with Hadrat Khalid bin Walid
(Raziallah Anho) They laid siege to the great city of Jerusalem, surrounded by a
huge wall. Since the people of Jerusalem had already seen the defeat of
Byzantine forces they offered a peaceful truce provided the "Khalifah"
came in person to sign the treaty in their presence. The proposal was
passed over to Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) at Medina and after consultation with
the "Shura" he accepted the offer.
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Hadrat Umar at Jerusalem
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) appointed Hadrat'Ali (Raziallah Anho) as his deputy and went to
Jerusalem with his slave. They were having one camel on which each of them
rode by turn. When Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was entering Jerusalem it happened
to be the slave's turn to ride on the camel. Though the slave offered his
turn to the "Khalifah" but Hadrat Umar refused and remarked: "The honour
of Islam (i.e., being Muslim) is enough for all of us." He entered
Jerusalem holding the rope of the camel on which was riding his slave. His
clothes were dirty and there were several patches on them. Hadrat Abu 'Ubaidah,
Khalid bin Walid and other commanders came some distance to receive him.
They were wearing costly garments. This made Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) angry. He
threw some pebbles at his generals (to show his anger) and said, "Have you
changed so much in just two years? The only way for the success is the way
of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam)."
Then Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) signed the treaty under which the inhabitants of
Jerusalem were granted complete security of their life and property. Their
places of worship were secured and remained intact. All the people were
allowed to follow their religion freely.
The gates of the city were then opened and the Muslims entered the
Jerusalem in the year 16 A.H. (i.e., 635 A.C.) According to some history
books the date given on the treaty signed by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) falls in
the 17th year A. H. It is possible therefore that the Muslims conquered it
early in 17th year A.H.
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) visited the city. The time of the "Salat" had reached.
The Christians allowed the Muslims to perform Salat in the big Church but
Hadrat Umar declined to do so that it might not be an excuse for the
future generations to take over the Church from them. He offered the Salat
with the Muslims on the steps of the Church. Even then he gave in writing
to the Bishop that the steps would never be used for congregational
prayers or for the Adhan in future.
Umar's Masjid at Jerusalem
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) laid the foundation of a Masjid at a place known as "Sakhra"
proposed by the Bishop, where Allah sent revelation to Prophet Yaqub
(Jacob or Israel, 'Alaihis-Salam) and where the great temple of Solomon
was built. He himself worked like a labourer for building the Masjid. That
Masjid is known as the "Umar's Masjid"
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Conquest of Jazirah Mesopotamia
After the conquest of Jerusalem the Romans (Byzantines) tried to regain
Syria. The Muslims did not want territorial expansion, they were fighting
either to protect the birth-place of Islam, Arabia or in self-defence.
Their aim was only to proclaim Allah's message and to preach Islam freely.
Whenever they were allowed a free passage to show the right path no
fighting took place as it could be noticed in the case of Jerusalem.
Never, in the history of Islam any nation was forced to forsake its
religion and to accept Islam.
The people of Jazirah (now North western part of Iraq) plotted to oust the
Muslims from Syria. Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantine sent his army to
help the people of "Jazirah". They invaded Hims, a fort which had been
conquered by the Muslims under the command of Hadrat Abu 'Ubaidah (Raziallah Anho).
The Muslims fell upon the enemies and beat them off. Under such conditions
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) ordered the Muslim forces to occupy Jazirah. After its
conquest Jazirah (Mesopotamia) was put under the Governor of Homs (Home).
Jazirah was conquered under the command of 'Ayad bin Ghanam (Raziallah Anho).
The Severe Famine & Plague
In the year 17-18 A.H., Hijaz (Northern Arabia) and Syria were faced by a
severe famine and drought. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) took steps to get food
supplies from Egypt, part of which had been conquered by Hadrat'Amr bin
al-'As (Raziallah Anho). He sent three big ships of grains to Medina which were
unloaded in the presence of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). He himself distributed the
grains among the needy. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) did not take any delicacy
(butter etc.) during the famine period. When he was requested to take care
of his health he said, "If I don't taste suffering, how can I know the
sufferings of others?"
When the famine became intolerable he prayed to Allah in a big gathering
of Muslims. It has been narrated that the prayers had not even finished
when rains started to pour down.
About the same time plague spread in most parts of Iraq, Syria and Egypt
and it caused great havoc not only to civilians but also to the Muslim
armies. After the plague Hadrat Umar went to Syria to inspect the losses
caused by the plague. Three important figures Abu 'Ubaidah, Mu'adh bin
Jabal and Yazid bin Abu Sufyan (Raziallah Anho) had passed away. He appointed
Mu'awiyah bin Abi Sufyan as the Governor of Damascus in place of his
brother Yazid bin Abi Sufyan.
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The Conquest of Egypt
Being a powerful province of Byzantine Empire and having the strong base
of Byzantine navy at Alexandria, Egypt was a great danger to the security
of Hijaz (Northern Arabia). The Romans were busy in plotting against the
Muslims to regain the territories conquered by the Muslims and to attack
them through Egypt. Obviously it was necessary from the point of view of
defence to drive back the Romans (Byzantines) from Egypt. Therefore,
towards the close of 17 A.H. (638 A.C.) Hadrat 'Amr bin al-'As (Raziallah Anho) who
had collaborated in the conquest of Palestine, repeatedly urged the Caliph
to authorise him to lead a campaign against the valley of the Nile. He got
the necessary permission from the Caliph and set out from Palestine for
Egypt at the head of four thousand men. (Note: According to a number of
historians it took place in the 18th year A.H. i.e., 639 A.D. All of them
agree that a part of Egypt had been conquered before the great famine
which happened in 17-18 A.H. If it is true, the date of invasion by ‘ Amr
bin al-'As must be before 18 A.H.).
Hadrat 'Amr bin al-'As entered Egypt by the route of Wadi al-Arish and
after attacking some small towns laid siege to one of the strongest forts
of Romans in Egypt at Fustat (which later became Cairo). The fort was
conquered after some time.
The fall of Fustat gave a severe blow to Roman might in Egypt.
Constanstine II, the Byzantine Emperor, hearing the news of the fall of
the fort near Fustat, got furious and sent a big army to Alexandria.
Hadrat 'Amr bin al-'As therefore set out for Alexandria from Fustat. He
got reinforcement from the Caliph. Alexandria was the strong hold of the
Romans in Egypt. They could easily send reinforcement and supplies to
Alexandria by sea. It was really a difficult task to conquer it. Hadrat 'Amr
bin al-'As laid siege to the city but no result came out for six months.
Seeing this condition Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) wrote to Hadrat'Amr bin al-'As
"I am afraid that the Muslims have not been acting fully upon the
teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah (ways) of the Holy Prophet
(Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). The only way to get victory is to follow
strictly the ways of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). They
should therefore be more and more strict on it..... Then try to give final
blow to the enemy".
Hadrat 'Amr (Raziallah Anho) read the letter before the Muslims. Umar’s orders were
at once carried out and at last Alexandria was conquered after a heavy
engagement. According to some Western historians it was conquered in 642
A.D., while some of the Muslim historians say that Alexandria was
conquered in 640 A.D. (20 A.H.). After the conquest of this great city,
one time a glory for the' Romans, Hadrat 'Amr wrote to the Caliph, "I have
captured a city from the description of which I shall refrain. Suffice it
to say I have seized therein 4000 villas with 4000 baths, 40,000
poll-tax-paying Jews and 400 places of entertainment for royalty". Philip
Hitti writes, "The Caliph entertained his general's messenger with bread
and dates; they all joined in a thanksgiving service in the Prophet's
Afterwards Hadrat 'Amr (Raziallah Anho) captured the remaining fortresses in Egypt
and it came under the full sway of Islam. Local Christians and Jews were
given freedom of religion; various taxes imposed by the Romans were
abolished and the general condition of the country improved. The Egyptians
had never enjoyed such a period of prosperity and peace before.
A very inhuman custom was prevailing in Egypt at that time. The Egyptians
used to sacrifice a beautiful maiden every year to please the river Nile
so that it may bring more water. After the victory the matter was reported
to Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) who prohibited this. By chance the same year the
Nile had very little water and a condition of drought seemed to prevail
over there. Hadrat'Amr (Raziallah Anho) wrote to Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) to seek his
advice. He wrote the following letter and asked Hadrat 'Amr to throw it in
"From Umar, the servant of Allah and "Amir"(Leader) of the Muslims to the
River Nile of Egypt. O Nile! If you flow of your own desire, we do not
need you. If you flow by the order of Allah, we pray to Him to keep you
The letter was thrown into the Nile and it over-flowed that year. In this
way Egyptians were stopped from an un-Islamic practice. This had a very
good effect. The Egyptians realised the spiritual power of Islam, and
entered its folds.
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Martyrdom of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho)
The glorious rule of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) came to an end with his death on
Wednesday the 27th of Dhil Hijjah, the year 23 A.H. (643 A.C.) when he was
61 years old. There was a Persian slave of Hadrat Mughirah bin Shu'bah,
named Abu Lu' Lu' Firoze. One day he complained about the burden his
master had imposed upon him. The complaint was not genuine, hence Hadrat
Umar (Raziallah Anho) ignored it. Next day, early in the morning when Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) went to Masjid to perform Fajr Salat, the slave who was hiding in a
corner, attacked him with a dagger and stabbed him six times. People
overpowered the assassin but he slew himself with the same dagger.
The injuries were so serious that the Caliph died the next morning.
Allahe Wainna elehe Rajeoon
Before his death the Muslims asked him about his successor, he appointed a
panel of six persons, Hadrat 'Uthma Zubair, Talha, Sa'd bin Waqqas and 'Abdur
Rahman bin 'Auf (Raziallah Anho) to select a "Khalifah" from amongst them within
three days after him.
He requested Hadrat Aisha (Raziallah Anho) for permission for his burial by the side
of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). Though she had reserved
that place for herself but on Umar's request she gave it to him where he
Review of Hadrat Umar's
service to Islam
The period of Hadrat Umar's caliphate undoubtedly is the "Golden Age" of
Islam in every respect. He was a man of extraordinary genius who not only
moulded the destiny of the nation but made history of his own. He followed
the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (Sallllahu 'alaihi wa Sallam) to the
fullest extent. It was Umar under whose rule Islam became a world power
and the mighty empires of Persia and Byzantine (Eastern Roman) crumbled
before the arm of Islam. Within ten years of his glorious rule, the whole
of the Persian Empire, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and a part of Turkey came
under the banner of Islam and the nations entered the fold of Islam. He
was not only a conqueror but also an exemplary administrator who
originated an efficient system of administration, and thus he was the real
founder of political system of Islam (to be discussed in brief in the next
chapter). He enforced Divine Law (Shari'ah) as the code of a newly formed
International Islamic State; he safeguarded the internal safety by
introducing the police force: he gave stipends to the poor; he constructed
cantonments and forts for the safety of Islamic armies; he founded new
cities for the growth of Islamic culture and civilisation; he improved
agriculture and economics of the Islamic State; he founded the educational
system in an Islamic State; in brief he was the founder of a great Islamic
State. We would discuss his achievements more elaborately in the next
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He was a very pious Muslim. His success lay in two things-fear of Allah
and his love for the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). He never
used even oil from the Bait-ul-Mal (Public Treasury) to burn a lamp at
night for his personal needs. Whenever he finished the official work he
put off the lamp. He used to patrol in the city at night to find out the
needs and requirements, and conditions of the people. He did not hesitate
to take his wife to work as a midwife for a poor woman. The salary he got
from the Bait-ul-Mal was so low that it was hardly enough for him and his
family's needs. When some of the eminent Muslims requested him to increase
the amount he, said, "The Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) has
left a standard by his personal example. I must follow him".
Hadrat Umar was the most just ruler in the Islamic History. All the
citizens, including the Caliph himself, were equal before law. Once he
appeared before a court at Medina to clarify his position against a
complaint. The Qadi (Judge) wanted to stand in his honour, but he did not
allow him to do so, so that there would be no distinction between him and
an ordinary person before Law. He was really the founder of modern
In short he was the best example of an ideal character, and was the
greatest "Khalifah" of Islam after Abu Bakr (Raziallah Anho). He selflessly devoted
his whole energy for the cause of Islam. Muslims will always be indebted
to him for his great achievements. As a matter of fact a separate book is
required to describe his character and his services to Islam.
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His dress, meals and general behaviour were similar to those of the Holy
Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). There were usually a number of
patches on his dress. He always took very ordinary meals. Once Yazid bin
Abi Sufyan invited him to a feast and when special dishes were brought
before him, he stopped eating and said, "I swear Allah, in Whose hand is
the life of Umar, if you would not follow the ways of the Holy Prophet
(Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam), Allah would cause you to be away from the "Siratul-Mustaqim"(the
Straight Path)". He did not leave his characteristic simplicity even
though he was ruling over a vast empire from Iran to Tripoli. He used to
sit on a mat made of grass leaves.
Hadrat Umar feared Allah and was wholly devoted to Him. It was his usual
practice to cry and weep during Salat. Sometimes he passed whole of the
night performing Salat and crying before Allah; and because of tears his
beard used to get wet. It was his usual practice to weep during the Fajr
Salat. On hearing or reading the verses of the Holy Qur'an containing
description of the Day of Judgement and the Hell he used to weep so much
so that his whole beard would get wet. Once he was leading Fajr Salat when
he recited a verse from Surah Yusuf: "I expose my distress and anguish
only to Allah"(ll : 16), he started to weep and his voice was heard in the
back row of the congregation. Because of excessive weeping due to fear of
Allah, his eyes were swollen.
He was fearful of the account to be taken on the Day of Judgement. Once he
took hold of a straw and said, "I wish I was a straw (to be saved from the
account on the Day of Judgement)."
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) sacrificed almost all of his wealth for the sake of
Allah and for His Holy Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihi wa Sallam). Once he
said, "I love the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) more than
anything besides my life". Hearing this the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe
Wassallam) remarked, "Nobody is (a true) Muslim unless he loves me more
than everything of the world including his own life". On this Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho)said, "Now I love you, 0 Prophet of Allah, more than my life."
His belief in the Unity of God was unshakable. Once he went to Hajj during
his "Khilafat” and while kissing the Black Stone (an act included in the
rites of Hajj) he remarked, "I know that you are a stone. Neither can you
harm anybody nor can do good to anybody. If I had not seen the Prophet of
Allah kiss you I would have never kissed ". He was a strict follower of
the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam).
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Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) as a
Before the advent of Islam there was no tradition in Arabia of reading or
writing. There were only seventeen people among Quraish who could read or
write at the time when the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam)
started to receive Divine revelations. Hadrat Umar was one of those
seventeen persons. His writing and lectures are still found in some old
books. The first address he gave as a Caliph is as under
"O Allah, I am strict, make me soft. I am weak give me power. The Arabs
are like refractory camels, I will endeavour to bring them to the straight
He was also interested in poetry and sometimes he composed verses. Umar
(Raziallah Anho) was one of the most fluent Quraish. Arabic knowing persons can
appreciate the fluency of his writings and addresses. Many of his sayings
became aphorisms of literature.
He was a great Jurist and Theologian of Islam. Because of the fear of
making any mistake he did not quote many Ahadith (Sayings of the Holy
Prophet) even though he was fully conversant with them. He never allowed a
person (companion) to quote any Hadith which was not well known without
producing any attestator in support of it. If somebody quoted a Hadith
before him which he had never heard, he at once asked him to bring a
witness failing which he would be punished. He was expert in deriving laws
from the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith. A full volume could be complied out
of the verdicts and judgements given by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). As a matter of
fact he opened a new door of Ijtihad' "(Disciplined judgement of a Jurist)
in the history of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, and settled a number of
disputable cases during his caliphate.
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Preaching of Islam
As the viceroy of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) his
foremost duty was to spread and preach Islam. As mentioned above, the aim
of various battles and wars was to clear the way for the Muslims for
preaching Islam. Whenever any army had to attack a place it had to call
the inhabitants of the place to Islam. Hadrat Umar was very strict in this
respect and he had given standing orders to the commanders not to start
war unless they had first invited the people to Islam. If they accepted
it, there was no question of war and if they did not, then the war was
fought only with those who were not giving a free hand to Muslims to
preach the Right Path. No Person was ever forced to forsake his own faith
and accept Islam.
The method adopted to preach Islam was demonstration by actual practice.
For this purpose he ordered Muslims to establish their own quarters and
present the practical shape of Islam before the population. Seeing the
truthful way, the inhabitants of the glace were attracted towards Islam.
No soldier was allowed to take any property or anything by force from the
Because of fair treatment by the Muslims sometimes the whole army of the
enemy accepted Islam. After the battle of Qadisiya a battalion of four
thousand Persians accepted it. After the victory of Jalula, the chiefs of
the place entered the folds of Islam along with the inhabitants. A
commander of the army of Yadzgird, named Siyah accepted Islam with his
battalion during a battle in Persia. All the inhabitants of the town of
Bulhat in Egypt accepted Islam at one time without the use of any force
only by seeing the piety of Muslims. A rich merchant and the chief of a
place in Egypt, named Shata, accepted Islam with all the inhabitants of
the place only after hearing about the character and piety of Muslims at
the time when Muslims had not even reached that place. These are orally a
few examples to show that Islam spread because of the character of Muslims
at that time.
Umar (Raziallah Anho) was very strict in ensuring that no Muslims forced any
non-Muslim to accept Islam. Through his advice, letters and addresses he
made it clear to all the Muslims that they had to adhere to the ways of
the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) which was the only method to
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Wives and Children
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho), married the following women during his lifetime
1. Zainab (Raziallah Anho), she accepted Islam but died in Makkah. She was sister of
'Uthman bin Maz'un. 'Abdullah Abdur Rahman (Ist) and lady Hafsah (wife of
the Holy Prophet) were the children she bore to Hadrat Umar.
2. Malkiah bint Jarwal, she did not accept Islam and was divorced in 6
A.H. according to Islamic law. She gave birth to'Ubaidullah.
3. Quraibah bint Abi Ummiyah, she also did not accept Islam and was
divorced in 6 A.H.
The above three marriages had taken place before Umar (Raziallah Anho) accepted
Islam. After accepting Islam he contracted marriages with the following
4. Ummi Hakim bint-ul-Harith, she gave birth to a girl named Fatimah.
5. Jamilah bint Asim, she gave birth to a son who was named Asim. Though
she was a Muslim she was di-vorced because of some other reason.
6. Umm Kulthum bint Hadrat'Ali (Raziallah Anho), she was married in the year 17 A.H.
She gave birth to Ruqayyah and Zaid.
7. 'Atikah (Raziallah Anho)
1. Umm-ul-Mu'minin Hadrat Hafsah (Raziallah Anho) the chaste wife of the Holy
Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) .
2. Ruqayyah, she was the youngest daughter of Hadrat Umar.
6. Abu Shahmah.......son
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Umar the pioneer of
the Islamic democracy
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was the pioneer of modern civilisation to form a state
based upon the Islamic democratic system, the system which was
incorporated in the West as late as 19th and 20th centuries. He was the
greatest democratic administrator whose example is unparalleled not only
in the history of Islam but also in the history of modern civilisation. A
vast part of the Middle East, Persian Empire and Byzantium, was conquered
during the ten years of his "Khilafat" (Caliphate) which he consolidated
into a state governed by Islam i.e. laws. "As an administrator", says
Prof. K. Ali, a Muslim writer, "he remained a model for all great Muslim
rulers during the whole Islamic history". Another famous historian, Amir
Ali says, "During the thirty years that the Republic lasted, the policy
derived its character chiefly from Umar both during his life-time and
after his death."
The constitution of Islamic caliphate during the time of Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) was based entirely on the Islamic democratic system. All matters
were decided after consultation with the "Shura"(The Council of Advisors)
the details of which would be given in the following pages. He remarked,
"It is essential for a "Khalifah" to consult his "Shura". Once he said, "I
do not desire that you may follow anything that arises from my caprice".
Hadrat Umar had clearly stated on various occasions that he should be
obeyed as long as he was obeying Allah and the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho
Muslims and non-Muslims were treated alike. Although the Arab peninsula
was declared to be purely an Islamic State, his attitude towards the
non-Muslims was very tolerant. He allowed the Jews and the Christians,
living in the Peninsula, to stay there if they so wished and nobody would
interfere in their religious affairs. To those who desired to migrate he
ensured safe journey up to the borders. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) also gave
compensation for their properties and other facilities.
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Islamic Republic based upon
As stated before all matters were decided after consultations with the
"Shura", the Advisory Council during his time. There were three main types
of "Shura". The first "Shura" consisted of very prominent and popular
Companions like: Hadrat Uthman, Ali, 'Abdur Rahman bin Auf, Mu'adh bin
Jabal, Ubayy bin Ka'b, Zaid bin Thabit, Talha and Zubair (Raziallah Anho). They were
permanent members of the "Shura". All the important matters were decided
in consultation with these persons. This "Shura" could be named as the
Higher Advisory Council.
The second "Shura" was the General Advisory Council which consisted of
many companions from amongst the Ansar and Muhajirin (Raziallah Anho). The
Companions who participated in the battle of Badr were given priority in
this "Shura". All matters of general interest were discussed with this
"Shura". In this "Shura" were also included the chiefs of various clans
The third type of "Shura" ranked in between the Higher and the General
Advisory Councils. It consisted of some selected Companions among the
Muhajirin and Ansar. Matters of special interest were put before the
Whenever a "Shura" was called everyone of its members was fully allowed to
give his opinion without any fear or hesitation. On various occasions
Hadrat Umar said, "I am but an ordinary person like you. I can only
request you to co-operate in the work with which I have been entrusted by
The way to call the General
Since the Special "Shura" comprised only few members there was no special
way to call it. The way to call the General Council of Advisors was that a
man used to call the following words loudly: "As-Salatu Jami'ah," in the
Prophet's Masjid from at high place. Hearing this call the people would
know that a meeting of the "Shura" has been called and assembled in the
Masjid. Hadrat Umar first of all offered two raka'at Nafl (optional) Salat
and then put the matter before the "Shura" Every person was allowed to
give his opinion. Decisions were usually taken on the basis of unanimity
or sometimes by majority. But the Khalifah was not bound to accept the
decision of majority. In the interest of Islam and Muslims he could use
power of veto if he considered it proper.
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Freedom of Opinion
Freedom of opinion was not only allowed at the time of meeting of the
"Shura" but on all occasions. As a matter of fact Hadrat Umar’s period was
an exemplary period as far as this principle of the democratic way of
government is concerned. There is no other example in history when people
gave their opinion so freely, and criticised the ruler (i.e., the
Government) so openly.
The Caliph had himself introduced this principle, novel in those days,
through his addresses. A part of one of his addresses is quoted as under
"0 people! I am but a trustee of your property and wealth, like a person
who is trustee of the property and wealth of an orphan child. Had I been
rich I would not have taken any allowance for my services. In case I
needed I would have accepted only to the extent of the need. Friends! you
have certain rights over me and you are fully allowed to claim your rights
anytime. One of such rights is: Don't allow me to misappropriate the
Indemnity Tax and the Booty. You have the right to check that the poor,
the needy and disabled person amongst you should get allowances for their
livelihood. You have the right to make sure that the borders of the State
are safe and that you are not in danger."
The above address clearly shows his liberal principles and the basic
foundation of his government. Once some cloth came to Medina as a part of
booty. It was distributed among Muslims in accordance with the Islamic
Law. The piece of cloth given to each of the Muslims was not enough to
make a "Kurta"(i.e., Arabian Shirt). On the following Friday Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) came to deliver the Khutbah (Sermon) of the Salat wearing the "Kurta"
of the same cloth. As soon as he stepped on the Mimber (pulpit) one man
stood up and asked him to account for the "Kurta". Without being annoyed
Hadrat Umar stepped down the Mimber and asked his son to give explanation
on his behalf. His son told the congregation that he gave his share to his
father and he was able to get his "Kurta" prepared out of that cloth.
Hearing this the man was satisfied .
Once Hadrat Umar asked in a gathering to test them
"If I do not obey the "Shari'ah (Divine Law), what would you do?"
A Bedouin immediately stood up and replied in a harsh tone: "O Umar! we
will straighten you (i.e., put you on the straight path) as we straighten
our arrows to put in the bow". Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was very pleased to hear
Once a person in a public meeting stood up and said, "0 Umar, fear Allah."
The audience tried to stop him but Hadrat Umar said, "Let him say, he is
free to give his opinion. If people do not give their opinions they are
useless and if we (the rulers) do not listen to them, we are useless".
Not only the men but women too enjoyed the freedom of opinion. Once Hadrat
Umar (Raziallah Anho) was suggesting the quantity of dowry to be fixed at the time
of Nikah (Marriage) which was not in accordance with Islamic principle. A
veiled lady immediately stood up and said, "O Umar, fear Allah". Hearing
this Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) realised his mistake and accepted her objection.
It was this freedom of thought and opinion which paved the way Hadrat
Umar’s (Raziallah Anho) success. He was a stern ruler as far as for implementation
of law was concerned but at the same time he was just, and democratic, a
true follower of Islamic democracy in which every person has freedom of
opinion within the limits of "Shari'ah" (Divine Law), i.e., under the
Sovereignty of Allah and the authority of His Law. He acted upon the
principle of equality and brotherhood of mankind on one side and justice
and truthfulness on the other. Not only the Muslims but the non-Muslims
were also free to express their opinion. He made no discrimination between
Muslims and non-Muslims in matters of justice, human rights and fair play.
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Hadrat Umar was an outstanding model for the succeeding Muslim rulers in
administration. "During the thirty years that the Republic lasted", says
Amir Ali, "the policy derived its character chiefly from Umar both during
his life-time and after his death".
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) divided the whole Islamic Khilafat (i.e. Islamic State
into various provinces each with a capital. The following were, the
provinces and their governors in 23 A.H., i.e. near the end of Hadrat
1. Hijaz with Makkah as its capital; Governor -- Nafi' bin Abu Harith.
2. Syria with Damascus as its capital; Governor-- Mu'awiyah bin Abu Sufyan.
3. Iran with Basrah as its capital; Governor -- Abu Musa al-Ash'ari.
4. Iraq with Kufa as its capital; Governor -- Mughirah bin Shu'bah.
5. Egypt with Fustat as its capital; Governor -'Amr bin al-'As.
6. Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital; Governor -- 'Alqamah bin Majaz.
7. Jazirah (i.e. Mesopotamia) with Hims (Hems) as its controlling capital;
Governor -- 'Umair bin Sa'd.
8. The central province of Arabia with Medina as its capital.
The Capital of the State was also Medina. The title of a Provincial
Governor was "Wali", who was the chief administrator and generally the
supreme commander of the armed forces of that province. In each province
there were usually following officers besides the Governor: The Treasury
Officer (Sahib-i-Baitul-Mal; the Revenue Collector (Sahib-i-Kharaj); the
Chief Police Officer (Sahib-i-Ahdath); the Judge (alQadi). In those
provinces where the governor was not holding the office of the commander
of armed forces, a separate commander was appointed. For example, in the
beginning in Kufa Hadrat Amaribn Yasir (Raziallah Anho) was the "Wali" (the
Governor),'Uthman ibn Hanif(Raziallah Anho) was the Revenue Collector, Abdullah ibn
Mas'ud (Raziallah Anho) was the Treasury Officer, Hadrat Shuraih (Raziallah Anho) was the
Judge and 'Abdullah ibn Khaza'i (Raziallah Anho) was the Secretary of Defence (i,e.,
Diwan). Usually the officers were appointed after consultation with the
"Shura" (the Advisory Council).
The provinces were divided into districts. Each district was administered
by an officer called 'Amil. All the governors and the high officers of the
province were called to Makkah every year on the occasion of Hajj when
Muslims from the entire area gathered there. Complaints against them were
recorded by the Khalifah. Enquires were made and grievances were removed.
All the officers were paid high salaries so that they may not indulge in
bribery and corruption.
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was the religious head of the State
Not only the Khalifah the Governors were also great scholars of Islam.
They were all administrative officers, theologians, jurists and pious.
The Khalifah himself was the overall religious head of the State. He used
to lead five times compulsory Salats and Jumu'a Salat in the Holy
Prophet's Masjid at Medina, and also the ‘ld Salats at the "Musalla for ‘ld"('ldgah)
in Medina. At the time of Hajj he was the leader of the Hajj and in his
absence a person was appointed by him as his deputy. In religious matters
he used to give his verdict based upon the "Shari'ah" (Divine Law). In
case of a question of law he usually consulted a special committee for
that purpose working under a department known as "Shu'ba-i-Ifta" (The
department of Jurists) or sometimes he sent the matter directly to the
committee. Hadrat 'Ali, 'Uthman, Mu'adh bin Jabal, Abdur Rahman bin 'Auf,
Ubayy bin Ka'b, Zaid bin Thabit, Abu Hurairah and Abu Darda (Rid. A.) were
the main "Muftis" (Jurists) at Medina. The Khalifah did not hesitate to
enquire about a Hadith which he did not know. At the same time he did not
allow others to narrate Ahadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet), not known
to him without a witness.
Besides performing the duty of administration each governor was also the
religious head of the province. He had to lead five Salats in the nearest
Masjid, the Jumu'a Salat in the Masjid al-Jami': (the main Masjid of the
Capital), and also the ‘ld Salats on "'Id Musallas".
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The judicial functions were entrusted to Qadis (Judges). A Qadi was
completely free of the executive administration. On a number of occasions
the Khalifah (Hadrat Umar) himself appeared before a Qadi to defend
himself in some cases. The provincial Qadis were completely independent of
the provincial governors. The Qadis were paid good salaries so that there
might not be even a slightest chance of bribery. The monthly salary of
Qadis like Hadrat Salman, Rabi'ah and Shuraih (Raziallah Anho) were 500 Dirhams. The
monthly salary of Hadrat Amir Mu'awiyah (Raziallah Anho) was 1000 dirhams. "Umar was
the first ruler in Islam", says Amir Ali, "to fix salaries for judges and
to make their offices distinct from the executive officers."
In a number of books like "Tabaqatul Fuqaha", and "Mawardi" an ordinance
sent by Umar (Raziallah Anho) to various Qadis is quoted
"It is essential for a "Qadi" to be just in his decisions and should not
give any preference to the persons considered eminent in the society. The
complainants should produce proof in support of their case while the
defendants are allowed to take an oath (depending upon the nature of the
case). Agreement between the two parties is permissible except when such
agreement makes unlawful act lawful or a lawful act unlawful. If truth is
known after a decision has been given, you are allowed to reconsider the
case and change the decision. When you do not find guidance in the Holy
Qur'an or in the Ahadith (i.e., practices and the sayings of the Holy
Prophet) for decision of a case ponder over it (on the basis of the
broader principles of Shari'ah i.e., Divine Law) and search for its
solution in the light of past decisions given by the righteous
predecessors. (In case you do not get the solution in past decisions),
then apply your own mind (i.e., do Ijtihad or Qiyas based upon the Holy
Qur'an and the Sunnah (i.e., the practices of the Holy Prophet)".
In another ordinance, given in "Kanzul'Ummal" Hadrat Umar told the Qadis
"Decide cases according to the Holy Qur'an. If you do not find any
solution in it base your decision upon the Sunnah. In case you do not find
an appropriate Hadith, search in the unanimity of the righteous
predecessors (i.e., Ijma'), in the absence of Ijma', give your own verdict
based upon the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah (i.e., do Ijtihad or Qiyas).
The Qadis appointed by Hadrat Umar were among the most pious, truthful and
trustworthy Muslims of his period. Besides being pious, they were also
great Jurists and scholars. The Qadi of Medina was Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit
(the Scribe of "Wahy" -- Revelation). There were two Qadis at Kufa,
Hadrat'Abdullah bin Mas'ud and Hadrat Shuraih (Raziallah Anho) Other Qadis during
the caliphate of Hadrat Umar were: Salman bin Rabi','Abdur Rahman bin
Rabi','Imran bin Hasin, Abu Maryam, and Jamil bin al-Umar etc. (Raziallah Anho)
The Qadis were instructed to be impartial and totally free from the
executive. In a dispute between Hadrat Umar (the Khalifah) and Hadrat
Ubayy bin Ka'b, Hadrat Umar went to the court of Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit at
Medina. Hadrat Zaid wanted to stand up to show respect to the Khalifah, on
which Umar (Raziallah Anho) remarked: "This is your first unjust behaviour." Then
Hadrat Umar sat with Hadrat Ubayy, the complainant like an ordinary
person. In the same case Hadrat Ubayy wanted Hadrat Umar to take oath, but
Zaid wanted to spare him because of the dignity of his office. Seeing this
Umar (Raziallah Anho) admonished him, "You cannot be a just Qadi until a common man
is equal to Umar before you." Since Hadrat Umar was also a jurist, he also
held courts, and sometimes as the Court of Appeal in a position which
could be described as the Chief Justice now-a-days. Once he inflicted the
Sharia punishment of eighty lashes for drinking on his own son Abu Sahmah
which resulted in his death on the spot. There are a number of other
examples which show the Islamic Justice prevailing at the time. Muslims
and non-Muslims both were equal before his justice. Once a Muslim killed a
Christian, Hadrat Umar inflicted capital punishment upon him.
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Department of Education
Hadrat Umar took special interest in imparting Islamic knowledge to the
Muslims. The Holy Qur'an was compiled in a Book form during the period of
Hadrat Abu Bakr on Umar's (Raziallah Anho) insistence. He established schools for
teaching the Holy Qur'an in all the conquered territories. Such schools
were located in the Masjids. A number of writers like Ibn-i-Jauzi (see "Sirat
Umar") have mentioned that the teachers of such schools received good
salaries. Besides teaching the Holy Qur'an they also trained the people in
reading and writing. The Huffaz (i.e. the Muslims who commit whole of the
Holy Qur'an to their memory) were specially honoured.
In the provinces of Syria and Palestine following teachers were appointed:
‘Ubadah bin Samit, Mu'adh bin Jabal and Abu Darda (Rid. A.). They
established schools in Hims, Palestine (Jerusalem) and Damascus.
Hadrat Abu Sufyan was appointed to teach Bedouins. He was asked to test
the knowledge of the Muslims learning the Holy Qur'an. It was compulsory
for every Muslim to memorise sufficient part of the Holy Qur'an especially
Surahs al-Baqrah;an-Nisa,al-Ma’idah; an-Nisa, al-Ma'idah, al-Hajj and an-Nur
(Chapters, 2, 4, 5, 22 and 24 of the Holy Qur'an). In these Surahs Islamic
laws and principles are described elaborately. To know basic Islamic laws
was compulsory. Thus the concept of compulsory education was introduced at
a time when nobody knew about it. The students memorising whole of the
Qur'an by heart were given scholarships and other facilities.
He also appointed teachers to teach Hadith and Islamic Law. Hadrat
'Abdullah bin Mas'ud (Raziallah Anho) was sent to Kufa; hia'qal bin Yair (Raziallah Anho), and
'Imran bin Hasin (Raziallah Anho) to Basra, Hadrat Ubadah bin Samit used to teach
Hadith and Islamic Law as well in Syria besides the Holy Qur'an.
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& institution of prisons
To keep order inside the State, a police force was necessary. Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) was the first Muslim Head of State who established the Police
Department. The Police force at that time was known as "Ahdath" and the
police officer as the "Sahibul Ahdath". Hadrat Abu Hurairah(Raziallah Anho) was
appointed as the "Sahibul Ahdath" for Bahrain. When he was going to take
charge of his duty, Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) gave him the following instructions
"Keep peace in the area. Let not the people contravene law. They should
not measure or weigh incorrectly. Nobody should build any house on roads
so as to hinder the passage. No one should overload an animal. Nobody is
allowed to sell or buy liquor".
There was no jail in Arabia before Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). He bought five
houses in Makkah and used them as prisons. He also set up jails in some
districts of various provinces. The punishment of exile was for the first
time introduced by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) He exiled Abu Mihjan Thaqafi to an
island as punishment for drinking liquor.
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The Bait-ul Maal (Public Treasury) and Revenue Administration
A Public Treasury (Bait-ul-Maal) was for the first time established by the
Holy Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihi wa Sallam) in the form of a common fund
for the benefit of the general public. During the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr
(Raziallah Anho), a house was purchased for the purpose but there were no savings
beside one Dirham when he passed away. During the caliphate of Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) the Bait-ul Mal was immensely enlarged.
He reorganised the entire system on a very sound and just basis. The
officer in charge of the Public Treasury (Bait-ul Mal) was known as
"Sahib-i-Bait-ul-Ma1". There were Treasury officers in each province.
Guards were also appointed for the Bait-ul Mal. In Medina there was the
central Treasury and regular accounts were kept.
Following were the main sources of revenue
(i) Jizya (Indemnity or Defence Tax);
(ii) Zakat(Poor Tax);
(iii) Khiraj(Land Tax);
(iv) 'Ushr (Special land Tax);
(v) Booty(Income from the conquered places)
(vi) Tax on non-Muslim merchants or traders (because they did pay Zakat).
The tax on non-Muslim traders was introduced by Hadrat’ Umar (Raziallah Anho) for
the first time. The reason was obvious they did not pay Zakat while Muslim
merchants had to pay Zakat. Ushr, the special land tax equal to one tenth
of the produce was taken from large holdings.
The Zakat fund was kept in special account books and was spent in
accordance with the Islamic laws as given in the Holy Qur'an. From the
rest of the fund, expenditure on general administration and warfare was
met. The surplus was distributed among Muslims which was determined by
three main principles - the relationship and the closeness with the Holy
Prophet; priority of conversion to Islam and sacrifices for its cause; and
military service to Islam. For example, the "Badriyin" (the participants
of Badr battle) received 5000 Dirhams each, those who participated in the
battle of Uhud or participated in the "Treaty of Hudaibiya" received 4000
each. The Muslims who accepted Islam before the conquest of Makkah but
after the "Treaty of Hudaibiya" received 3000 each. Those who fought in
Syria or lraq received 2000 each and those who took part in the battles
after this received 1000 each. An ordinary soldier who fought during the
time of Hadrat 'U mar (Raziallah Anho) received 500 to 600 dirhams. The stipend was
given to every Muslim whether male or female, young or old. Even new-born
babies also received stipends. Sir William Muir in his book "Caliphate"
comments on it
"A people dividing amongst them the whole revenues, spoil and conquests of
the state, on the basis of an equal brotherhood is a spectacle probably
without parallel in the world."
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was very cautious in spending the Public Fund. There
are a number of instances which could be presented here
Once his daughter, Umm-ul Mu'minin Lady Hafsa (the chaste widow of the
Holy Prophet Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam) came to him and demanded some
share in the booty, that came from a battlefield, saying: "Give me some
because your relatives have certain rights over you". He replied, "Of
course my relatives have certain rights in my personal property but not in
the property of Muslims".
Once Hadrat Umar fell sick and ;the physician advised him to take honey.
There was plenty of honey in the Bait-uI Mal. He went to the Prophet's
Masjid and called general "Shura'. When people assembled he said, "I need
some honey, I would be thankful if you allow me to take some honey from
Once he saw a fat camel being sold in the market. He enquired about it and
found out that the camel belonged to a man who allowed it to graze in the
public pasture. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) told the man, "You are entitled to get
as much as the camel would have fetched before it grazed in the official
pasture. The balance must go to the Bait-ul-Mal."
He took personal care of the Baitul-Mal properties. Once a camel belonging
to the Bait ul-Mal ran away. He himself went in search of it. In the
meantime a chief of a clan came to meet him. Hadrat Umar said to him,
"Please help me in my work. I am searching a camel of the Bait-ul-Mal."
Such examples are unparalleled in the history of whole civilisation and
they show extreme vigilance by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) of Public Funds.
At this place I would like to mention two more things in connection with
the Revenue Administration of Hadrat Umar: (a) Survey of lands in 'Iraq;
(b) Indemnity Tax.
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Survey of Lands in Iraq
Before Islam there was no administration in Arabia. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho)
introduced a full administrative system based upon Islam. When Iraq was
conquered he did not allow the conquered land to be distributed as estate
among the warriors. He granted it to the people as State property. There
were many objections raised by some of the Companions. After consultation
with the "Shura", Hadrat Umar’s plan was formulated. Then he ordered
survey of the conquered land in 'Iraq. Land tax has assessed according to
the income of the farmers. No tax was levied on lands which were trusts
for places of worship or which were owned by orphans. Forests were
considered as State property. Big estates, owned individually by people
were not taken away from them.
In other places like Syria and Egypt more or less the same system remained
enforced as was before Islam as far as the ownership of estates was
concerned. However he took those estates which were owned by Imperial
Officers of Roman Empire and distributed them among the farmers. No Muslim
was allowed to take over any piece of land. However purchase of lands was
He constructed a number of canals for irrigation purposes. In Egypt alone
one hundred twenty thousand labourers worked to construct various canals
from the river Nile. All these labourers were paid by the State.
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Jizya (Indemnity or Defence
Some western writers have objected to realisation of Indemnity Tax (Jizya)
from the non-Muslims of the state. But this tax was taken for their safety
against any invasion from outside. There are instances that when Muslims
left a conquered place due to some reasons, they returned the Jizya taken
from non-Muslims of that place. In many agreements signed by Muslims
during the wars, it was clarified that Jizya would be paid to the State by
the non-Muslims for their protection and in case the State (i.e., Muslim
Govt.) took any help from them for their protection they would not have to
pay the Jizya. Following agreement was signed with the inhabitants of
"It is our responsibility to protect you and your property against any
invasion and you would pay annual tax (Jizya) in lieu thereof. If we seek
your help for protecting you, we would not charge any tax (Jizya)."
In the agreement signed at Adharbijan, the tax was as under
...... "Jizya would not be taken from those who serve in the army, for the
year of services."
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) had issued orders to various commanders during the
battles with Persians
"Do not charge any Jizya from those who have helped the Muslim cavalry
Hadrat Abu 'Ubaidah (Raziallah Anho), the commander at the Syrian front returned all
the Indemnity tax, he had received, when he left the conquered places for
the time being to return to safer borders in order to prepare against the
Romans at Yarmuk.
Moreover utmost care was exercised in levying the Jizya. The poor and
orphans were never charged. There was no Indemnity tax on old persons who
could not work. In the agreement which was signed at Hirah this very well
"If any old man is unable to earn, or if a rich man becomes poor, or if a
person meets an accident, then no Jizya would be charged from him. Muslims
are responsible to take care of such persons and to pay them for their
needs from the Bait-ul-Mal."
Once Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) saw an old non-Muslim begging. He asked him the
reason for begging. The old man said that he had to pay Jizya (Indemnity).
Hadrat Umar immediately brought him home and gave some money to him. Then
he ordered the officers not to charge Jizya from such persons. He was so
solicitous about non-Muslims that he left a will: Take care of the "Dhimmis"
i.e., the non-Muslim. Do not break any agreement signed with them. Do not
take that work from them which they can not do. Fight for their protection
(if some body attacks them)."
This is an exemplary treatment, a nation could give to conquered people.
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Personal care of the Public and stipends to disabled persons and the poor
Hadrat Umar used to take personal care of the public. A number of
instances could be cited in this connection. I would quote only a few
Once a caravan came to Medina and alighted outside the city. He himself
guarded the caravan during the night and saw to their needs. He was going
round one night when he saw a woman with some children just on the
outskirts of the city. The children were crying due to hunger. He himself
brought some flour and butter etc., from the Bait-ul-Mal and personally
prepared meals for the children. His slave, Aslam offered his services but
he said, "You can not help Umar on the Day of Judgement. He is himself
responsible for it." Once he saw a bedouin staying outside the city and
his wife was in the throes of child birth. He immediately called his wife
who worked as a midwife.
Every day after the congregational Salats he used to sit in the Masjid in
order to listen to the complaints of the people. Any person having any
need reported to Umar (Raziallah Anho) and he helped him.
Besides the allowances described above he also gave stipends to the poor
and disabled persons regardless of their faith and creed. To find out the
needs of the people he used to go out during night time.
Construction of Masjids and establishment of Schools
He founded a number of schools. Masjids were used for giving religious
instructions. A number of Masjids were built by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). He
asked the governors of various provinces, specially of Syria to build at
least one Masjid in each city or town. In Kufa a separate Masjid was built
for every clan. According to some historians he built four thousand
The Haram (Masjid-ul-Haram) in Makkah was too small for the increasing
Muslim population. He extended it and built a wall around it in order to
separate it from the township. He covered the Ka'bah with very costly
Egyptian cloth instead of ordinary cloth.
The Masjid of the Holy Prophet was also extended. He bought all the houses
and properties surrounding the Masjid besides the houses of the chaste
widows of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihi wa Sallam), and extended the
Masjid. A big platform was constructed in the yard of the Masjid to impart
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Construction of office buildings and erection of new cities
Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) built a number of offices for various needs. The
construction of prison in Makkah and Baitul-Mal in Medina has been
mentioned before. The Treasury houses were also built in various
provinces. The construction of the building of Treasury House (Bait-ul-Mal)
was supervised by a Persian engineer Rozbah who used the same type of
cement in the building as was used in the palaces of the Persian Emperors.
A number of rest-houses for travellers were also built. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho)
also built many new roads and bridges. The road between Makkah and Medina
was broadened and a number of rest-houses and police posts were built on
As described above a number of canals were constructed for irrigation and
for supply of fresh water. A nine mile long canal was constructed in
Basrah which brought water from the river Tigris. Some governors also
built canals. Hadrat Sa'd bin Waqqas built a canal in Kufa.
A number of new cities were founded. The aim of the construction of new
cities would be discussed in the following pages. Here are given names of
some of the important cities
BASRAH : It was. built in Iraq in 14 A.H., near the border of present day
Iran. In the beginning the population of the city was 800 only but soon it
increased to about 100,000. During the time of Ummayads it was a big city
of 120,000 inhabitants.
KUFA: It was built in the central part of Iraq. In the beginning
residences for 40,000 people were built there. Hadrat Umar took personal
interest in its construction and sent the maps and a plan for the city
which he had himself prepared. The streets of the city were 60 feet wide.
Al-Masjidul-Jami' could accommodate 40,000 people i.e., the total
population of the city. This city was often called by Hadrat Umar as
Rasul-ul-lslam (the head of Islam). The famous "Imams" (Great Scholars)
namely Nakh'i, Hammad, Abu Hanifah and Shubi lived in the same city. Thus
it became the centre of Islamic knowledge and learning in later centuries,
proving the prophecy of Hadrat Umar.
FUSTAT: It was built in Egypt by Hadrat'Amr bin al-'As on the orders of
Umar (Raziallah Anho) and became a big city in the later period of Islamic history.
In the 4th century A.H., it was the most beautiful city of Islamic state
Mosul and Jizah were other cities built by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). Mosul was a
small village but Hadrat Umar converted it into a city. This was in the
centre of Eastern and Western part of Islamic state. Jizah was built after
the victory of Alexandria in Egypt.
Special care of Agriculture
Agronomy was the main source of income during those days. Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) took special care of the welfare of agriculture and the farmers. As
stated before he dug a number of canals for irrigation. A number of
gardens were planted on his order. He made a law under which no Muslim
could acquire land from the natives of the soil in the conquered
territories. However land could be purchased. He supported both Muslim and
Besides the construction of canals a number of barrages, and big pools
were constructed for supply of water in various parts of the State. Hadrat
Umar also issued an ordinance under which uncultivated lands could be
acquired by the permission of the government. Such lands were treated as
the estates of those persons who cultivated them within three years of
acquiring them, otherwise land would vest in the government. Large areas
of land were thus cultivated because of this ordinance.
Introduction of Islamic
For the first time in the history of Islam, Islamic calendar was
introduced in the present form by Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho). The date of start of
this calendar was fixed as the date of the "Hijrah" (Migration) of the
Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). Thus the calendar is also known
as the Hijrah Calendar.
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One of the biggest achievements of Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was to keep regular
armies of the State. He encouraged Muslims to join the regular forces
whenever the need arose. For the first time in the history of Islam all
irregular armies or mercenaries were divided into clear-cut classes of
regular and irregular armies. The army personnel was well paid and their
families also got allowances. Separate registers for regular and irregular
armies were maintained.
In order to keep military tradition of the Muslims, Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) did
not allow the army personnel to hold land in the conquered territories,
which might have impaired military prowess of Muslim soldiers.
Cantonments were built for soldiers where they lived in accordance with
Islamic practices. It would be discussed in the following pages how these
cantonments turned into centres of Islamic culture and knowledge, thus
became the Muslim quarters to preserve Islamic culture and practice.
Central cantonments were built in the following places: Medina, Kufa,
Basrah, Mosul, Fustat, Damascus, Hims (i.e. Hems), Jordan, Palestine
(Jerusalem), and Ramla. Besides the Commanding officer, the army had
Translators, Doctors, Surgeons and Detectives. Each Corps of soldiers was
headed by an officer known as "'Arief' whose duty was to distribute the
salary, dress and other necessities. The non-commissioned officer on every
ten soldiers was known as "Amirul A'shar". Minimum salary of soldier was
200 to 300 Dirhams annually besides his personal necessities and
allowances given to his family in his absence. Some officers got salaries
ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 Dirhams annually. No regular military
personnel was allowed to do business or agriculture. It was compulsory for
every soldier to be trained in swimming, riding, and walking bare-footed
besides other military training. The army was generally divided into
cavalry and infantry.
Each central cantonment had at least four thousand horses for the cavalry.
Stables were provided with big pastures. Special care was taken of the
horses. There were big granaries in cantonments to supply food to the
Special arrangements were made to protect the frontiers. Hadrat'Abdullah
bin Qaish was the officer in charge of this branch. He built a number of
fortresses in the frontier region.
Once the number of soldiers in all the Islamic armies was counted and it
was found that about one million equipped soldiers were present in all the
regular and irregular armies. This was done after the Muslims had
conquered the Persian Empire and a major part of Byzantium, otherwise in
the beginning the number was far less as mentioned in connection with the
various battles that took place during the time of Hadrat Umar. As a
matter of fact Umar made every Muslim a soldier and every one was anxious
to fight in the path of Allah. Non-Muslims were also included in the army.
It is wrong to say that only Arabs were in the army because among Muslims
themselves there were a number of non-Arab races commonly known as "'Ajamis"
who accepted Islam during the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat Umar
(Raziallah Anho) and took part in Jihad (Holy War).
Special care was taken for the health of army personnel: In 17 A.H., when
Mada'in was conquered, the climate was not suitable for the soldiers. When
Hadrat Umar heard about it he wrote to 'Utbah bin Ghazwan that soldiers
should be permitted to go to suitable places during autumn. Cantonments
were constructed at places suitable from the point of view of climate.
The Mail System was very efficient. Suitable persons were appointed to
carry mail from the army to Medina and vice versa. The caliph(Hadrat Umar)
used to direct the army from Medina.
The Khalifah, was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He delegated
his powers to a nominated commander-in-chief of each army or province.
These commanders were always in touch with the Khalifah and took
instructions from him.
The most important thing which could be noted during the time of Hadrat
Umar (Raziallah Anho) was a regular military code. No soldier, whose family was not
residing in the cantonment, was allowed to be away from his family for
more than four months. After four months they could visit their homes on
holidays. The same code was also applied to those civil servants whose
families were away from them.
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Preservation of Islamic Practice and Culture by establishing Muslim
As stated above the Muslim army was required to live in the cantonments.
Later these cantonments were annexed to the civil quarters which
ultimately resulted in the establishment of new cities.
These Muslim quarters or small colonies were established in the conquered
territories in the form of Model Islamic Towns in order to preserve
Islamic practices and culture. The purpose of such quarters was to save
Muslims from the effect of non-Islamic culture and to show local
non-Muslims the practical shape of Islamic society. These Muslim quarters
attracted the local public towards Islam. It was the charm of Islam which
ultimately caused them to accept it and to change their non-Islamic
beliefs, traditions, culture and in many instances the language as well.
All this cannot be done by force. Hearts and languages cannot be changed
at the point of sword. If Muslim quarters had not been set-up at that time
it would have been difficult for Islamic ways to prevail in the countries
which are now proud to call themselves as Muslim States. Seeing the
practical lives of Muslims their sense of equality, and high morals, the
local population was so attracted that they changed even their languages.
Arabic was not the local languages of Syria, Egypt and Iraq when these
places were conquered by Muslims. The love for Allah, His Holy Prophet,
His Last Book (the Holy Qur’an) caused the inhabitants of these places,
who accepted Islam, to change their languages and treat the beautiful
Arabic, the heavenly language, as their own language rather their mother
tongue. In this way Hadrat Umar’s (Raziallah Anho)act of setting up Muslim quarters,
ultimately became the cause of the spread of Islam.
Separation of Muslim quarters is positive proof that Islam never spread at
the point of sword. Another purpose of separate localities was that the
Muslims might not interfere with the local population in observing their
own religion and customs. Their churches and places of worship were safe.
Their worshippers, religious leaders and saints were left undisturbed.
There is not even a single example of any Muslim, civilian or military
personnel, who ever forced a non-Muslim to leave his faith or to accept
The purpose of wars was to remove the barriers set up by these powers who
did not allow Muslims to show the practical shape of Islamic society and
to preach the TRUTH and the RIGHT WAY OF LIFE.....the ISLAM . When these
powers did not allow the Muslims to do so their intransigence was met by
sword. The way was cleared and the local populace saw the TRUTH and left
the WRONG WAY. This is the proof that ISLAM is the most peaceful and the
RIGHT way of life.
Umar's (Raziallah Anho) Period was the GOLDEN AGE of ISLAMIC History
Thus we see that Hadrat Umar’s period was the Golden Age of the Islamic
history when Islam was practised in its true form. Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho)
Initiated 41 good practices during his period, which were based upon the
Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu'alaihi wa
Sallam). These are known as "Awliat-i-Umar (the Initiations Of Umar). The
details can be seen in the books of Islamic History like Tabari,
Ibn-i-Athir, and Tarikh-i-Khulafa etc. Most of these initiations have been
mentioned in the preceding pages in brief. Actually Hadrat Umar (Raziallah Anho) was
the founder of ISLAMIC DEMOCRACY based upon the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah
of the Holy Prophet (Sal Allaho Alehe Wassallam). The words of the Holy
Prophet are very true
"IF THERE WERE TO BE A PROPHET AFTER ME HE WOULD HAVE BEEN UMAR IBN AL-KHATTAB."
"AMONG THE NATIONS BEFORE YOUR TIME THERE HAVE BEEN INSPIRED PEOPLE (WHO
WERE NOT PROPHETS), AND IF THERE IS ONE AMONG MY PEOPLE HE IS UMAR". (Bukhari