HAZRAT UMAR (634
– 644 A.D.)
Life Before Khilafat:
Hazrat Umar, son of Khattab, was born
in Makkah twelve or thirteen years after the birth of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Umar had a common ancestor in Ka’ab.
Umar was taught reading and writing
by his father who was an educated and well-to-do merchant of Makkah. Umar was
very learned, intelligent and studious. He was a poet and a very good orator.
He was strong and powerful and was fond of archery, horse-riding and wrestling.
He was also a sucessful trader and had visited many countries in connection
with his business. He was an idol-worshipper. When Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH)
declared that he was the Prophet of Allah, Hazrat Umar and his father became
enemies of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Among the Quraish of Makkah, Umar
was a very powerful and influential person. In the 6th year of
Prophethood, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) prayed to Allah to strengthen Islam by
giving him Umar. One day Umar set out from his house with the
intention of killing the Holy Prophet (PBUH). On the way, he was informed that
his sister and her husband had embraced
Islam. Infuriated, Umar changed his course and went to the house of his sister,
who was reading the Holy Quran loudly. This enraged Umar so much that he
attacked his sister and her husband. On Umar’s insistence, his sister recited
some verses from Surah Taha. The words of the Holy Quran softened his heart and
tears began to fall from his eyes. He then proceeded to the house where the
Holy Prophet (PBUH) was engaged in religious discourse with his followers. He recited the Kalima and
became a Muslim. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) embraced Umar, who was now an entirely
changed person. From being an enemy and persecutor of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),
Umar became one of his most devoted
followers. After his conversion, he was given the title of Farooq by the
Holy Prophet (PBUH). His conversion, he was immense value of Islam. From that
day, the small number of the people who had embraced Islam became bold enough to
pray openly at Makkah.
After his coversion, Hazrat Umar
too, became the target of enmity and persecution of the pagans. He emigrated to
Madinah shortly before the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) own Hijrat. He took part in
the Battles of badr, Uhad, Ditch, Khyber and Hunain. He was present at the
treaty of hudaibiya. He was not willingto accept this treaty as it seemed a
humilating one for the Muslims, but submitted to the will of the Holy Prophet
(PBUH). In the 8th of Hijrat he took part in the march on Makkah. He
placed half of his wealth at the disposal of the Prophet (PBUH) for the Tabuk
Expedition. He was constantly in attendance on the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and was
one his most trusted companions and advisers. He is one of those ten persons to
whom the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave the tidings of Paradise in their lifetime.
After the demise of the Holy Prophet
(PBUH), he accompanied Hazrat Abu Bakr at the council hall where the people of
Madinah had assembled to elect their leader. He was the first to swear allegiance
to Hazrat Abu Bakr and throughout his Khilafat remained his friend and adviser.
Hazrat Umar not only conquered a
vast empire during the ten years of his Khilafat but also consolidated it by an
effective system of administration. As
an administrator, he remained a model for all great rulers who followed
him. Justice Syed Ameer Ali says in his famous book ‘History of Saracens’,
“During the thirty years that the Republic lasted, the policy derived its
character chiefly from Umar both during his lifetime and after his death.”
Before becoming the Khilafat, Hazrat
umar had spent ten years in Madinah with the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Hazrat
Muhammad (PBUH) had started the practice
of consulting his companions on all matters. The first Khalifa, Hazrat Abu
Bakrcontinued this practice of mutual consultation. Following their example,
Hazrat Umar framed the constitution of the state on the basis of democracy. He
established a Majlis-e-Shura consisting of prominent companions of the Holy
Prophet (PBUH) from both Muhajirin and Ansars. Hazrat Umar consulted this body
on all matters. He also constituted a larger body called the Majlis-e-Aam,
consisting of Muhajirin and Ansar and representatives of various tribes. This
was called into session on special occasions.
Hazrat Umar made new laws, rules and
regulations in accordance with the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. He took steps to
give the Islamic state a clean and efficient administration. The state was
divided into provinces and each provinces was placed under an efficient
governor called the Wali or Ameer. The Wali was not only the ruler of the
province but also the military and religious head. The provinces were futher
divided into districts and placed under Amils. All the governors and Amils were
called to Makkah on the occasion of Hajj where the Khalifa would hear and
decide complaints received against any of his officer irrespective of his
status. All appointments were made in consulation with the Majlis-e-Shura. The
appointee was given a regular order of appointment setting out his duties and
emoluments. The person appointed to a high post was required to give a written
undertaking to lead a simple Islamic life. He had to submit particulars of his
property and assets, so that on his retirement, it may be seen wether he had
amassed wealth by illegal means. Hazrat Umar kept a very strict watch on the
activities of his officers. He used to receive secret reports from officers
specially appointed for this purpose.
Hazrat Umar entrusted the Qazis with
judicial functions. They ensured that the judiciary was just and impartial. The
Qazi was completely independent of the provincial governor.
Hazrat Umar established new
departments and institutions such as the military department, department of
education, jails, police, etc. He also established a department of finance
under the name of Dewan, which was incharge of the revenue of the centre as
well as the provinces. The function of this department was to regulate the
reciept and disbursement of the revenue of the empire. The main sources of
revenue were the Jizya (poll-tax), Zakat (poor tax), Kharaj (spoils of war),
and Fay (income from crown lands). Besides these, Hazrat Umar instituted new
taxes namely Ushr (one-tenth of the produce taken from landowners), a commercial
tax imposed on non-Muslim merchants and Zakat on the ownershipof horses.
After meeting the expenditure of the
state, the surplus money used to be distributed among the Muslims on the basis
of three principles: relationship with the Prophet (PBUH), priority of
conversion to Islam and military service to Islam. In this way, all Mulim men,
women, salves and children had shares in the Bait-ul-Maal or the Public
Hazrat Umar maintained a
well-disciplined army which was divided into cavalry and infantry. He was
particularly concerned about the welfare of his soldiers. But in case of
neglect of duty, he would inflict severe punishment on them. He did not allow
them to buy land in the conquered territories because of the fact that it would
harm the military strength of the Arab soldiers. He also forbade them to live
with the settled people in cities and ordered them to live in cantonments.
Hazrat Umar took special care of the
welfare of the farmers. After the conquest of Iraq, Iran, and Syria, he made it
law that no Arab should acquire land in the conquered territories and that the
actual tillers of the soil should be allowed to retain possession of their
He also devoted attention to town
planning and had several cities for example, Kufa and Basra built according to
properly drawn up plans.
He paid particular attention to the
welbeing of non-Muslim subjects. He himself patrolled the streets at night to
keep himself informed of the conditions of his people. He introduced the Muslim
era of Hijra, the system of old age pension and census of the population of the
Muslim State. He took steps to check hoarding, profiteering and apointed
officers to check weights and measures.
Hazrat Umar also devoted a great
deal of this time to religious matters. Teachers were sent to the villages to
teach the Holy Quran to the villagers.
Army officers, too, had to learn the Holy Quran.
Hazrat Umar stands unparralleled in
every aspects of administration in the history of Islam.
Hazrat Umar is one of the greatest
men of all times and an excellent example of an ideal character. He is immortal
in world history as agreat conqueror, a benevolent ruler and the founder of the
He lived like an ordinary Muslim and
led a truly Islamic life. Simplicity was the main feature of his character. His
coarse clothes often had patches on them. He was often seen lying on the bare
ground with a brick for a pillow. Once he was late for Friday prayers. The
explanation he offered was that he had his clothes washed, and they took some
time to dry which delayed his departure for the mosque. When the envoy of the
Byzantine Emperor came to Madinah, he found the Khalifa sitting in the mosque
in the company of ordinary people.
Hazrat Umar was kind and sympathetic
to the poor and the needy. He would roam the streets at night to see the condition of his people, and often
helped them with food and money. During the days of famine, he carried sacks of
corn his back to disptribute among the poor. He would also rum errands for
widows and poor women; he would often draw water for them and milk their goats.
He was a man of great knowledge and
learning. He was a good judge of men and could discern truth from
falsehood. He was the ruler of a vast
empire but denied himself all the privileges of rulership. The allowance that
he drew from the State Treasury was just
enough for a person of average means. When some people insisted that his
allowance should be raised, he refused
to accept any increase. When he died, he willed that after the sale of his
property, the entire amount of the allowance that he had drawn should be
refunded to the treasury.
There is no other ruler in the world
history that led so simple a life and yet inspired awe and terror among his
people and his enemies alike. The awe and fear that Hazrat Umar commanded was
beacouse of his high moral character. In fact, Hazrat Umar was an embodiment of
the virtues of Islam. His greatness has been acknowledged by the Holy Prophet
(PBUH) of Islam who had once said that
if there were to be any Prophet after
him it would have been Hazrat Umar.
To sum up,
Hazrat Umar is one of those extraordinary personalities who made history. His
brilliant conquests, his benevolent administration, his far-reaching reforms
and the integrity of his character mark him as one of the greatest men of all