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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Biography of Umar ibn al-khattab

Umar was from the Banū ‘Adī tribe, one of the branches of the Quraysh. His mother, Hantama, was the daughter of Hāshim Ibn Mughīra from the Banū Makhzūm clan. Banū Makhzūm was another branch of the Quraysh and an ally of the Umayya in the Dark Age. Unlike Abū Bakr, ‘Umar converted to Islam years after the ordainment of Prophet Muhammad (s). Many sources say he converted in the sixth Hidjra year. Mas‘ūdī says he converted four years before Hidjra, i.e. the 9th Hidjra year.[1] ‘Umar was present in wars and events in Medina, although history has recorded no specific memory about him. When his daughter, Hafsa, became the Prophet’s wife, his relations with the Messenger of God were reinforced. In this connection, he was like Abū Bakr. We wrote that the Prophet (s) made them brothers by contract.[2] They were inseparable throughout the entire life of the Prophet (s). They held common stances in the developments of Saqīfa and it was because of ‘Umar’s insistence on stabilizing Abū Bakr’s caliphate that Imām ‘Alī (a) accused him of working for his own future.[3] This was well justified for others.

When Abū Bakr handed over the oath of caliphate to him and asked him to read it for the people, someone asked him, “What is in this letter?”

He replied, “I do not know for sure, but I shall be the first one to obey it!” The person said, “But I know what it is.” أمّرته عام أوّل وأمّرك العام “The first year you appointed him caliph and the second year, he installed you as the caliph of Muslims.”[4]

The above quotation shows that people were aware of the political bond between these two. Apparently, people saw one way of thinking throughout the caliphate of Abū Bakr in these two persons. In other words, they believed that ‘Umar’s caliphate was the continuation of Abū Bakr’s and that their caliphate was a single administration.

Qays Ibn Abī Hāzim says, “I saw ‘Umar in the mosque, with a stick of date branch in his hand trying to make people sit down. Abū Bakr’s servant, named Shudayd, came to the mosque and read a message from Abū Bakr and then, ‘Umar mounted the pulpit.”[5] “It is true to say that Abū Bakr would not be a caliph if it were not for ‘Umar.[6] When Abū Bakr wanted to appoint Khālid Ibn Sa‘īd as commander of the army, ‘Umar managed to change his mind because Khālid swore allegiance to Abū Bakr only three months after the Saqīfa gathering.[7] Abū Bakr used to say he loved ‘Umar more than others.”[8]

‘Umar addressed Ibn ‘Abbās and said, “Indeed, if Abū Bakr did not believe me, he would set aside your share of the government, and in that case, your tribesmen (Quraysh) would hate you.”[9] It was this belief in ‘Umar that made Abū Bakr write an accord appointing ‘Umar as his successor. Once he said, “I appointed ‘Umar to succeed me because I was afraid of eruption of any tension.”[10]

Before the appointment of ‘Umar, Abū Bakr consulted ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn ‘Awf. He praised the caliph and said ‘Umar was a quick-tempered man. Abū Bakr said, “He shows to be so in contrast with my tender-heartedness. He will calm down when he takes power.” Abū Bakr consulted ‘Uthmān, too.

He said, “‘Umar’s nature is better than his countenance.”[11] This is all the consultation Abū Bakr made with the nobles of the Quraysh before appointing ‘Umar.

‘Uthmān was always present in the caliph’s bedside during his sickness. Abū Bakr asked him to write the contract of succession on his behalf. After the beginning of the contract was written, Abū Bakr fell into coma and ‘Uthmān who knew his assignment, finished the oath and wrote the name of ‘Umar in it. After regaining consciousness, Abū Bakr asked ‘Uthmān to read what he had written. He did so and Abū Bakr approved it.[12] Following this, Talha came to Abū Bakr and said, “You witnessed how ‘Umar behaves beside you and with your presence. Then, we do not know what he will do without you.” Abū Bakr was angered by his objection.[13] Another quotation says the people objected to Abū Bakr for appointing a bad-tempered man to rule them.[14] According to Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Abū Bakr asked Mu‘ayqab al-Rūsī about the people’s opinion regarding the appointment of ‘Umar and he replied, “Some are satisfied, some are not.”

Abū Bakr said, “Which group is greater in number?”

He said, “Those who are dissatisfied.”

Abū Bakr said, “The truth always shows its ugly face first, but it is finally the winner.”[15] ‘Umar, himself, in his first sermon said he was aware of the fact that some people hated his caliphate.[16] Ibn Qutayba has said that after hearing the news of Abū Bakr’s death, Muslims in Damascus expressed their concern over ‘Umar’s likely coming to power and said, “If ‘Umar assumes power, he will not be our “master” and we will topple him.”[17] Abū Bakr did not make any serious consultations about ‘Umar’s caliphate.[18] He believed that many of the Muhādjirūn were thinking about occupying the seat of caliphate. Once he told ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn ‘Awf that many men of Muhādjirūn were yearning for the seat of caliphate since the start of his caliphate.[19] In his deathbed, Abū Bakr warned ‘Umar about the Muhādjirūn and their greed for ruling.[20]

Abū Bakr’s act of setting an age for caliphate, the principle of “succession” became legitimate in the political jurisprudence of the Sunnites sect. However, according to Sunnites sources, this had no background in the Prophet’s biography. The succession rule shares two pillars of hereditary government. In a hereditary government, the first pillar is succession and the second pillar is family and hereditary advantages. Its first pillar in the caliphate’s biography took on a legitimate form. Just as Muhammad Rashīd Ridā has noted, this brought about hereditary caliphate in the time of the Umayya.[21]

Abū Bakr’s written oath practically appointed ‘Umar as the caliph. Therefore, the people’s allegiance could not be influential in his reign. Finally, we should say that the people’s disagreement did not mean he could not be a caliph. This was indeed a sort of swearing obedience and loyalty to caliph. ‘Umar, himself, believed that Abū Bakr’s selection as the caliph of Muslims was impromptu and that the government had to be undertaken at the consultation of the believers, but he sat on the seat of caliphate based on an oath. He criticized the way of selecting Abū Bakr but did not say anything about his odd way of assuming power.

[1] Murūdj al-dhahab, vol.II, p.321
[2] Sahmī, Tārīkh Djurdjān, p.96
[3] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.I, p.587; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, vol.VI, p.11; Anas Ibn Mālik says, “On Saqīfa, I saw ‘Umar forcing Abū Bakr to sit on the pulpit.
al-Musannaf, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, vol.V, p.438
[4] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.I, p.174. Once Abū Bakr transferred a piece of land to someone with a title deed registered under his name, but ‘Umar took the deed and destroyed it.
Hayāt al-sahāba, vol.II, p.47. Interesting to know is that they call them " ‘Umarayn" meaning two ‘Umars.
[5] Abū Bakr Khallāl, al-Sunna, p.277
[6] al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol.I, p.38 Ibn Abi l-Hadīd writes, هو (عمر) الذي شيد بيعة ابي بكر ورقم المخالفين فيها وكسر سيف زبير.... ودفع صدر مقداد.... ولولاه لم يثبت لأبي بكر أمره ولا قامت له قائمته ‘Umar was someone who straightened Abū Bakr’s allegiance and removed the dissenters, spit apart Zubayr’s sword, beat chest of Miqdād, if he had not helped, Abū Bakr’s caliphate would never be organized; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, vol.I, p.174
[7] al-Musannaf, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, vol.V, P.254
[8] Gharīb al-hadīth, vol.II, p.222; Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.17; al-Fā’iq fī Gharīb al-hadīth, vol.III, p.333; al-Adab al-mufrad, Bukhārī, p.29
[9] Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.28
[10] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.200
[11] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.III, P.428; Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.199
[12] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.III, p.429; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, vol.I, pp.163-165; Nathr al-durr, ol.II, pp.15 and 23; al-Kāmil fi l-tārīkh, vol.II, p.425; Hayāt al-sahāba, vol.II, p.26; Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.200
[13] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.III, p.433
‘Āyisha mentions objection of "so and so", Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.274. Abū Bakr was told, “When he was not "caliph", he harshly treated us.” “Oh, if he becomes a ruler, what will he do to us?”
al-Musannaf, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, vol.V, p.449. Others complained of his "tongue and stick".
al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol.I, p.38. ‘Alī also objected to Abū Bakr, Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.274; Hayāt al-sahāba, vol.II, p.26
[14] Abū Bakr Khallāl, al-Sunna, p.275
[15] Bahdjat al-madjālis, vol.I, p.579 and about other objections, Ma‘rifat al-sahāba, vol.I, p.183; al-Futūh, vol.I, p.152; al-Fā’iq fī Gharīb al-hadīth, vol.I, pp.99-100
[16] Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.61. He, in the same speech, asked God to make him "good-tempered". Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.274
[17] al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol.I, p.38
[18] Khayr al-Dīn Sawī writes, “Abū Bakr consulted with the companions before selecting ‘Umar(Tatawwur al-fikr al-siyāsī, p.40). Such a viewpoint clashes with historical facts and consultation with Ibn ‘Awf and ‘Uthmān is only knowm to us. Of course, disagreements are more informative to us. Fārūq Nabhān, too, claimed that Abū Bakr always received advice from the faithful people (Nizām al-hukm fi l-islām, p.93)
[19] Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.16
[20] Ibid.vol.II, P.22
[21] al-khilāfa wa l-Imāma, al-‘Uzmā quoted from, Andīshih siyāsī dar Islām mu‘āsir, p.150; before Rashīd Ridā, Marwān Ibn Hakam referred to Abū Bakr’s measure of making caliphate hereditary!



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Your religion is completely different from ours.

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