Praise be to Allah, and prayers and peace be upon the Prophet Mohammad (عليه سلام) and his sanctiﬁed and dedicated Companions (رضي الله عنه), as well as all their followers till the Day of Judgment.
In this article, we present a brief biography of the second caliph Hazrat Omar bin khattab.
His Ancestry, Family and Attributes:
1. Name: Umar ibn al-Khattab.
2. Title: Ameer al-muʾminīn, Faruq al-Adham.
3. Kunya: Abu Abdullha.
4. Father: Jenab e Khattab ibn Nufayl.
5. Mother: Hantamah bint Hisham al Makhzoumi.
6. Born: 583 or 584 CE, Quarter of Bani Adhi Mecca, Hejaz, Sa’ūdi Arabia.
7. Died: 3 November 644/1 Muharam.
8. Buried: Riyadh al Jannah, Prophet’s Mosque, Medina.
9. Caliphate: 12 year’s
10. Tribe: Banu Adi branch of Quresh.
11. Ethnicity: Arab.
His Contribution for the Muslim State:
Hazrat Omar was first to establish a special department for the investigation of complaints against the officers of the State. This department acted as the Administrative court, where the legal proceedings were personally led by Omar.The Department was under the charge of Muhammad ibn Maslamah, one of Hazrat Omar’s most trusted men. In important cases Muhammad ibn Maslamah was deputed by Hazrat Omar to proceed to the spot, investigate the charge and take action. Sometimes an Inquiry Commission was constituted to investigate the charge. On occasion, the officers against whom complaints were received were summoned to Medina, and charged in Omar’s administrative court. Omar was known for this intelligence service through which he made his officials accountable.
Hazrat Omar was a pioneer in many affairs:
Hazrat Omar was the first to introduce the public ministry system, where the records of officials and soldiers were kept. He also kept a record system for messages he sent to Governors and heads of state.
He was the first to appoint police forces to keep civil order.
He was the first to discipline the people when they became disordered.
Another important aspect of Omar’s rule was that he forbade any of his governors and agents from engaging in any sort of business dealings whilst in a position of power. An agent of Hazrat Omar by the name of Al Harith ibn K’ab ibn Wahb was once found to have extra money beyond his salary and Omar enquired about his wealth. Al Harith replied that he had some money and he engaged in trade with it. Omar said: By Allah, we did not send you to engage in trade! and he took from him the profits he had made.
Since Medina, with a rapidly growing population, was at risk of recurring famines when crops were lacking, Hazrat Omar sought to facilitate the import of grain. He ordered the building of a canal connecting the Nile to the Red Sea and an improvement of port infrastructure on the Arabian coast. When Basra was established during Hazrat Omar’s rule, he started building a nine-mile canal from the Tigris( Dijlah) to the new city for irrigation and drinking water. Al-Tabari reports that Hazrat ‘Utba ibn Ghazwan built the first canal from the Tigris River to the site of Basra when the city was in the planning stage.After the city was built, Hazrat Omar appointed Hazrat Abu Musa Ashaari (17-29/638 – 650) as its first governor. He began building two important canals, the al-Ubulla and the Ma’qil, linking Basra with the Tigris River. These two canals were the basis for the agricultural development for the whole Basra region and used for drinking water. Omar also adopted a policy of assigning barren lands to those who undertook to cultivate them. This policy continued during the Umayyad period and resulted in the cultivation of large areas of barren lands through the construction of irrigation canals by the state and by individuals.
Under Hazrat Omar’s leadership, the empire expanded; accordingly, he began to build a political structure that would hold together the vast territories. He undertook many administrative reforms and closely oversaw public policy, establishing an advanced administration for the newly conquered lands, including several new ministries and bureaucracies, and ordered a census of all the Muslim territories. During his rule, the garrison cities (amsar) of Basra and Kufa were founded or expanded. In 638, he extended and renovated the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina.
Harzat Omar also ordered the expulsion Of Yahood and Nasarah communities of Najran and Khaybar to Soorian_ Byzantine border regions. He also permitted Yahood families to resettle in Jerusalem district but not near the Al Aqsa mosque complex, which had previously been barred from all Jews. He issued orders that these Yahood and Nasarah should be treated well and allotted them the equivalent amount of land in their new settlements. Hazrat Omar also forbade non muslims from residing in the Hejaz for longer than three days.He was first to establish the army as a state department.
Hazrat Omar was founder of Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence. He is regarded by Muslims as one of the greatest Faqih, and, as such, he started the process of codifying Islamic Law.
In 641, he established Bayt al-mal, a financial institution and started annual allowances for the Muslims. As a leader, Hazrat ‘Omar was known for his simple, austere lifestyle. Rather than adopt the pomp and display affected by the rulers of the time, he continued to live much as he had when Muslims were poor and persecuted. In 638, his fourth year as caliph and the seventeenth year since the Hijra, he decreed that the Islamic calendar should be counted from the year of the Hijra.
Under Hazrat Omar the Muslim empire was divided into the following provinces:
1. Mecca (South Arabian peninsula including Yemen and Oman).
2. Medina ( north Arabian peninsula inculding Tabouk, Jawf, Hail).
3. Basra (South Iraq, Kuwait and North Sa’ūdi Arabia).
4. Kufa (central Iraq)
5. Jazira, in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates in IRAQ and Syria.
6. Iliyā’ (إلياء) (Palestine).
7. Ramlah (Palestine).
8. Upper Egypt.
9. Lower Egypt.
10. Khorasan (Iran, Afganistan, Turkemistan, Ozbekistan).
11. Azerbaijan (Persia + Caucasus).
12. Fars (central Persia).
His Physical Appearance:
Hazrat Omar was strong, fit, athletic and good at wrestling. He is said to have participated in the wrestling matches on the occasion of the annual fair of Ukaz.From first hand accounts of his physical appearance Hazrat Omar is said to be vigorous, robust and a very tall man; in markets he would tower above the people. The front part of his head was bald, always A’sara Yusran (working with two hands), both his eyes were black, with yellow skin; however, ibn Sa’ad in his book stated that he never knew that ‘Omar had yellow skin, except for a certain part of Omar’s life where his color changed due to his frequent consumption of oil. Others say he had reddish-white skin. His teeth were ashnabul asnan (very white shining). He would always color his beard with Henna .
Narrated Sayyidina ‘Amr bin Maimun:
“I saw ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab a few days before he was stabbed in Madinah.
He was standing with Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman and ‘Uthman bin Hunaif to whom he said, “What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of as-Swad i.e. ‘Iraq) than it can bear?” They replied, “We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield.” ‘Umar again said, “Check whether you have imposed on the land what it can not bear.” They said, “No, (we haven’t).” ‘Umar added, “If Allah should keep me alive I will let the widows of Iraq need no men to support them after me.” But only four days (26,27,28,29) had elapsed when he was stabbed (to death).
The day he was stabbed, I was standing and there was nobody between me and him (i.e. ‘Umar) except Abdullah bin ‘Abbas. Whenever ‘Umar passed between the two rows, he would say, “Stand in straight lines.” When he saw no defect (in the rows), he would go forward and start the prayer with Takbir. He would recite Surah Yusuf or an-Nahl or the like in the first Rakah so that the people may have the time to Join the prayer.
As soon as he said Takbir, I heard him saying, “The dog has killed or eaten me,” at the time he (i.e. the murderer) stabbed him. A non-Arab infidel proceeded on carrying a double-edged knife and stabbing all the persons he passed by on the right and left (till) he stabbed thirteen persons, out of whom seven died. When one of the Muslims saw that, he threw a cloak on him. Realizing that he had been captured, the non-Arab infidel killed himself. ‘Umar held the hand of ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Auf and let him lead the prayer.
Those who were standing by the side of ‘Umar saw what I saw, but the people who were in the other parts of the masjid did not see anything, but they lost the voice of ‘Umar and they were saying, “Subhan Allah! Subhan Allah! (i.e. Glorified be Allah).” Abdur-Rahman bin Auf led the people a short prayer.
When they finished the prayer, ‘Umar said, “O Ibn ‘Abbas! Find out who attacked me.” Ibn ‘Abbas kept on looking here and there for a short time and came to say, “The slave of al Mughira.” On that ‘Umar said, “The craftsman?” Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Yes.” ‘Umar said, “May Allah curse him. I did not treat him unjustly. All Praises are for Allah Who has not caused me to die at the hand of a man who claims himself to be a Muslim. No doubt, you and your father (Abbas) used to love to have more non-Arab infidels in Madinah.” Al-Abbas had the greatest number of slaves. Ibn ‘Abbas said to ‘Umar. “If you wish, we will do.” He meant, “If you wish we will kill them.” ‘Umar said, “You are mistaken (for you can’t kill them) after they have spoken your language, prayed towards your Qibla, and performed Hajj like yours.”
Then ‘Umar was carried to his house, and we went along with him, and the people were as if they had never suffered a calamity before. Some said, “Do not worry (he will be alright soon).” Some said, “We are afraid (that he will die).” Then an infusion of dates was brought to him and he drank it but it came out (of the wound) of his belly. Then milk was brought to him and he drank it, and it also came out of his belly. The people realized that he would die.
We went to him, and the people came, praising him. A young man came saying, “O Chief of the believers! Receive the glad tidings from Allah to you, due to your company with Allah’s Messenger and your superiority in Islam which you know. Then you became the ruler (i.e. Caliph) and you ruled with justice and finally you have been martyred.” ‘Umar said, “I wish that all these privileges will counterbalance (my shortcomings) so that I will neither lose nor gain anything.” When the young man turned back to leave, his clothes seemed to be touching the ground. ‘Umar said, “Call the young man back to me.” (When he came back) ‘Umar said, “O son of my brother! Lift your clothes, for this will keep your clothes
clean and save you from the Punishment of your Lord.”
‘Umar further said, “O ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar! See how much I am in debt to others.” When the debt was checked, it amounted to approximately eighty-six thousand. ‘Umar said, “If the property of ‘Umar’s family covers the debt, then pay the debt thereof; otherwise request it from Bani ‘Adi ibn Ka’b, and if that too is not sufficient, ask for it from Quraysh tribe, and do not ask for it from any one else, and pay this debt on my behalf.”( Commentry of Bukhari)
Abu Lulo and his role in Martyrdom of Sayyidina Umar ibn al khattab رضی الله عنه:
After the battle of Nahwand many Persians were taken as slaves. One of these slaves was Feroz alias Abu lulo. He was a Majoosi and was ethically of Greek origin. He was a Persian soldier who served under chief commander Rustam Farrokhzad, but was captured in the battle of Nahwand in 636, when Persian Empire was defeated by Rashideen armies under Umar ibn al khattab رضوان الله تعالی, on the west bank of river Furat (Euphrates) .
His nickname indicates he was from the city of Nahwand. He was purchased by Mughirah bin shouba رضی الله, the governor of Basra province. This Feroz was a craftsman, carpenter, iron Smith and a painter.
Sayyidina Umar رضی الله عنه did not allow non Muslim adult slaves to live in Madina. He belived that these defeated people who hated Islām, had plenty of motive to conspire against Islām and muslims. Mughira رضی الله sought special permission for Feroz to stay in Madina on his own gaurantee becoz he was a very skilled labour. Sayyidina Umar رضی الله Gaved the permission as a special case.
One day Feroz waiting for Sayyidina Umar رضی الله and complained that the tax which his master Mughira رضی الله was exacting from him was too high .He wanted the Caliph to reduce levy. Umar رضي الله enquired what work did he do .He said that he worked as a carpenter, painter amd an iron Smith. He added he could make windmills as well.
Sayyidina Umar رضي الله next enquired as to the amount of tax that’ he was required to pay to his master. He said that he had to pay two dirhams a day .Hazrat Umar رضي الله said keeping in the view the lucrative nature of jobs done by him, the levy of two dirham a day was prima facie not excessive. Hazrat Umar رضي الله said that he would however write to mughira رضي الله, and examine the question further in the light of what mughira رضي الله said. That did not satisfy feroz and he went away sulking.
Sayyidina umar رضي الله wrote to Hazrat mughira رضي الله and in reply mughira quoted facts and figures to establish that what he took from his slave was by no means excessive. When Firoz called on Sayyidna Umar again, umar explained to him that as the levy was not excessive, no reduction therein was called for that’ made Feroz angry.
In order to humor Feroz, Hazrat Umar said, i understood you make windmills: make one for me as well. In A Sullen mood, Feroz said, verily i will make such a mill for you that the world would talk about it. As Feroz went Away, the caliph told the Sahabah around him that the Persian slave had threatened him.
There were Persian children slaves in Madina. Seeing them Feroz would say ,you have been enslaved. This Umar sees eaten my heart. I will take his heart out. He made for himself a dagger with a very sharp double edge and smeared it with poison.
The assassination was planned several months earlier. In October 644, Sayyidina Umar undertook a Hajj to Mecca, during which the assassins pronounced Hazrat Umar’s imminent death that year, and the massive crowd of the congregation was used by the conspirators as a veil to hide themselves.
During one of rituals of Hajj, the Ramy al-Jamarat (stoning of the Devil), someone threw a stone at Umar that wounded his head; a voice was heard that Umar will not attend the Hajj ever again.
It was Feroz who was assigned the mission of assassinating Umar. According to the plan, before the Fajr prayers (the morning prayers before the dawn) Feroz would enter Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, the main mosque of Medina where Umar led the prayers and would attack Umar during the prayers, and then flee or mix with the congregation at the mosque.
At the time of Fajr, Feroz went to the mosque and hid himself in a corner in one of the recesses of the mosque. When the people stood for prayer. Sayyidina Umar took up his position a sthe imams to lead the prayers. Feroz emerged from his place of hiding amd rushed at Sayyidina Umar. Feroz attacked Sayyidina Umar while he was leading prayer, stabbing him six times in the belly and at last at the navel, that proved fatal. Umar was left profusely bleeding. (Tarikh Islām)
One time Hazrat Umar Ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه was leading Fajr prayer and he recited the following verse:
قال إنّما أشكوا بثّي وحزني إلى الله
“Say: I only complain my suffering and grief to Allah” (Qur’an 12:86)
And he cried so much that the noise of his crying could be heard even among the last row of worshippers. [Majmu’ al-Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyyah (10/274)].
Asking permission to be burried in Prophet’s chamber:
Hazrat ‘Umar then said (to ‘Abdullah), “Go to Hazrat ‘Aisha Siddiqa (the mother of the believers) and say: “Umar is paying his salutation to you. But don’t say: ‘The Chief of the believers,’ because today I am not the Chief of the believers. And say: “’Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission to be buried with his two Companions (i.e. the Prophet, and Abu Bakr).”
Hazrat Abdullah greeted Hazrat ‘Aisha and asked for the permission for entering, and then entered to her and found her sitting and weeping. He said to her, “‘Umar bin Al-Khattab is paying his salutations to you, and asks the permission to be buried with his two Companions.” She said, “I had the idea of having this place for myself, but today I prefer ‘Umar to myself.” When he returned it was said (to ‘Umar), “‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar has come.” ‘Umar said, “Make me sit up.” Somebody supported him against his body and ‘Umar asked (‘Abdullah), “What news do you have?” He said, “O Chief of the believers! It is as you wish.
She has given the permission.” ‘Umar said, “Praise be to Allah, there was nothing more important to me than this. So when I die, take me, and greet Hazrat ‘Aisha and say: “Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission (to be buried with the Prophet), and if she gives the permission, bury me there, and if she refuses, then take me to the graveyard of the Muslims.”
Then Hazrat Hafsa (one of the wives of the Messenger of Allah, and daughter of ‘Umar) came with many other women walking with her. When we saw her, we went away. She went in (to ‘Umar) and wept there for sometime. When the men asked for permission to enter, she went into another place, and we heard her weeping inside.
The people said (to ‘Umar), “O Chief of the believers! Appoint a successor.” ‘Umar said, “I do not find anyone more suitable for the job than the following persons or group whom Allah’s Messenger had been pleased with before he died.”
Appointment of Shurah council:
Then ‘Umar mentioned Hazrat ‘Ali, Hazrat ‘Uthman, Hazrat Az-Zubair,Hazrat Talha, Hazrat Sa’d and Hazrat ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Auf (all six are among the ten people promised Paradise). The only one out of the ‘famous ten’ left out of the committee who was still alive at the time was Hazrat Saeed ibn Zaid Al Adi, the cousin and brother-in-law of Hazrat Omar. He was excluded on the basis of being related by blood and of the same tribe as Hazrat Omar. Hazrat Omar had a policy of not appointing anyone related to him to a position of authority even if they were qualified by his standards.
Hazrat Omar then said, “Abdullah bin ‘Umar will be a witness to you, but he will have no share in the rule. His being a witness will compensate him for not sharing the right of ruling.
If Hazrat Sa’d becomes the ruler, it will be alright: otherwise, whoever becomes the ruler should seek his help, as I have not dismissed him because of disability or dishonesty.” ‘Umar added, “I recommend that my successor takes care of the early emigrants; to know their rights and protect their honor and sacred things.
I also recommend that he be kind to the Ansar who had lived in Madinah before the emigrants and Belief had entered their hearts before them. I recommend that the (ruler) should accept the good of the righteous among them and excuse their wrong-doers, and I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns (Al-Ansar), as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and the source of annoyance to the enemy.
I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent. I also recommend that he do good to the ‘Arab bedouin, as they are the origin of the ‘Arabs and the material of Islam. He should take from what is inferior, amongst their properties and distribute that to the poor amongst them. I also recommend him concerning Allah’s and His Messenger’s protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfill their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability.”
So when Hazrat ‘Umar passed away, we carried him out and set out walking. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar greeted (‘Aisha) and said, “‘Umar bin Al-Khattab asks for the permission.” ‘Aisha said, “Bring him in.” He was brought in and buried beside his two Companions.
When he was buried, the group (recommended by ‘Umar) held a meeting. Then ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you.” Az-Zubair said, “I give up my right to Ali.” Talha said, “I give up my right to ‘Uthman,” Sad, ‘I give up my right to ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf.” ‘Abdur-Rahman then said (to ‘Uthman and ‘Ali), “Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses.” So both the Shaykhs (i.e. ‘Uthman and ‘Ali) kept silent. ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?” They said, “Yes.” So ‘Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. ‘Ali) and said, “You are related to Allah’s Messenger and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select ‘Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him.” Then he took the other (i.e. ‘Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When ‘Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, “O ‘Uthman! Raise your hand.” So he (i.e. ‘Abdur-Rahman) gave him (i.e. ‘Uthman) the solemn pledge, and then ‘Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the people (of Madinah) gave him the pledge of allegiance.”[Related in Sahih Bukhari]
Reaction of his martyrdom:
Hazrat Abdul Rehman ibn Abu Bakr رضي الله and Hazrat Abd al Rehman bin Awf رضي الله revealed that they saw the dagger used by Feroz, the assassin of Hazrat Umar. A night before Umar’s assassination, reported Abdur Rahman bin Awf, he saw Hurmuzan, Jafina and Abu Lulu, while they were suspiciously discussing something. Surprised by his presence, the dagger fell; it was the same two-sided dagger used in the assassination.
Hazrat Abdul Rehman ibn Abu Bakr, son of Hazrat Abu Bakr رضي الله, confirmed that, a few days before Hazrat Umar’s assassination, he saw this dagger in Hurmuzan’s possession. After this revelation, it seemed clear that it had been planned by the Persians residing in Medina. Infuriated by this, Sayyidina Umar’s younger son Hazrat Ubaidullah ibn Umar رضي الله sought to kill all the Persians( Majoosi) in Medina. He killed Hurmuzan, Jafinah, and the daughter of Abu Lulu.
Hazrat Ubaidullah رضي الله was intercepted by the people of Medina, who prevented him from continuing the massacre of Majoos( who lived just outside the southern wall of Madinah Munawariah, currently know as Qurban_ Awali neighborhood). Hazrat Amr ibn al-Aas رضي الله is said to have intercepted him and convinced him to hand over his sword. The murder of Jafinah enraged Sayyidina Saad ibn Abi Waqqas رضي الله , and he assaulted Ubaidullah ibn Umar رضي الله; again the companions رضوان الله عليهم أجمعين intervened. When Hazrat Umar was informed about the incident, he ordered Hazrat Ubaidullah imprisoned, and that the next caliph should decide his fate.
Sayyidina Umar died on 3 November 644/1 Muharam ; on 7 November/ 5 Muharam ,Sayyidina Uthman رضي الله عنه succeeded him as caliph. After prolonged negotiations, the tribunal decided to give blood money to the victims, and released Sayyidina Umar’s son Hazrat Ubaidullah رضي الله عنه on the ground that, the roles of Hormozan and Jafna in the murder was still strong and after the tragedy of Hazrat Umar’s assassination, people would be further infuriated by the execution of his son the very next day.
May Allah have mercy on Umar ibn al-Khattab, and be pleased with him and assembles us among his company.