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Khulafa Rashidun I – Abu Bakr and ‘Umar

2. Khulafa Rashidun I - Abu Bakr and 'Umar

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: Khulafa Rashidun I - Abu Bakr and ’Umar

Author: Abdassamad Clarke

Publication date: 08/09/2012

The Khalifates of Abū Bakr and ‘Umar

Al-Khulafā ar-Rāshidūn

الحديث الثامن والعشرون

عَنْ أَبِي نَجِيحٍ الْعِرْبَاضِ بْنِ سَارِيَةَ

 g قَالَ: “وَعَظَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ @ مَوْعِظَةً وَجِلَتْ مِنْهَا الْقُلُوبُ، وَذَرَفَتْ مِنْهَا الْعُيُونُ، فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ! كَأَنَّهَا مَوْعِظَةُ مُوَدِّعٍ فَأَوْصِنَا، قَالَ: أُوصِيكُمْ بِتَقْوَى اللَّهِ، وَالسَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ وَإِنْ تَأَمَّرَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَبْدٌ، فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ يَعِشْ مِنْكُمْ فَسَيَرَى اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا، فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِسُنَّتِي وَسُنَّةِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيينَ، عَضُّوا عَلَيْهَا بِالنَّوَاجِذِ، وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَمُحْدَثَاتِ الْأُمُورِ؛ فَإِنَّ كُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ”. 

رَوَاهُ أَبُو دَاوُدَ [رقم:4607]، وَاَلتِّرْمِذِيُّ [رقم:266] وَقَالَ: حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ. 

Hadith 28 of the Forty of Imām an-Nawawi

Abu Najih al-‘Irbad ibn Sariyah î said, “The Messenger of Allah @ admonished us with an admonition by which the hearts became frightened and the eyes flowed with tears, so we said, ‘Messenger of Allah, it is as if it were a farewell admonition, so advise us.’ He said, ‘I advise you to have taqwa of Allah, mighty is He and majestic, and to hear and obey even if a slave is given command over you. Whoever of you lives will see many disagreements, so you must take hold of my Sunnah and the Sunnah of rightly guided khulafa’ who take the right way. Bite on it with the molar teeth. Beware of newly introduced matters, for every newly introduced matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a going astray.” Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi narrated it and he [at-Tirmidhi] said, “A good sahih hadith.” The addition “and every going astray is in the Fire” is not well attested.

This is why the matter of the al-Khulafā ar-Rāshidūn is of great importance to us for our dīn: their Sunnah is a part of the Sunnah.


I. Madina

A. A small town, it is said of 12,000-15,000 people,1 in the Hijaz northwest of Makka, comprising tribes descended from immigrants from the Yemen of the descendants of Qaḥṭān and a small number of Makkans. At the time our history begins, there were no Jewish tribes in Madina, they having been expelled by the Prophet @, not because they were Jewish but because of various acts of treachery.

B. Nevertheless, Madina is the place in which the first community lived in harmony with the revelation, a great part of which was revealed there, the Sunnah was established there, and its people gave their all for that.

II. Hijaz

A. The Westernmost part of Arabia in which there are two other main cities, Makka and Ṭā’if, which are the cities of the tribes Quraysh and Thaqīf both descended from ‘Adnān. When the Arabs reneged, Quraysh and Thaqīf stood firm.

III. Arabia

A. Tribes and races
Arabia is the land of the Arabs, who divide up into Qaḥṭān and ‘Adnān, the former being al-‘Arab al-‘Āriba, i.e. Arabic Arabs, and the latter al-‘Arab al-Musta‘riba, i.e. Arabised Arabs because of their descent from Ismā‘īl ï who was not an Arab. The latter look to Quraysh as their aristocrats because they are the descendants of Ibrāhīm and Ismā‘īl, peace be upon them, and the guardians of the House.

IV. Rome and Faris

A. On the northern borders, lie the two empires of Byzantium, the eastern Roman Empire, and Faris or Persia. Rome had begun as an egalitarian Patrician republic, had become a monarchy and an empire, and had become a highly militarised society where the legions elected the emperor by acclaim. They were highly ruthless, for example, because of the Jewish uprising of 70 CE, the legions under Titus, son of the emperor Vespasian, had destroyed the city of Jerusalem and all its inhabitants. Josephus claimed that 1,100,000 died and that 97,000 were taken into slavery. Rome’s ferocity had not been mitigated by Christianity.
The Sassanian or Sassanid Empire (224CE to 651CE) in Persia is known to Muslims as Fāris. A small élite ruled over a very disparate set of races and tribes, just as the Byzantines ruled over Copts, Berbers, Arabs, Greeks and a large number of other races and peoples. The two empires and their antecedents both had aspirations to rule as much of the earth as possible. In their centuries long struggle with each other, and Rome had first pitted itself against the Parthian Empire (247 BCE–224 CE) which came about after Alexander’s conquest, both societies had become increasingly militarised and also weakened.

Abū Bakr î

The Messenger of Allah @ said to ‘Ā’ishah: “Call your father and brother to me so that I can write a document for Abū Bakr, because I fear that wishful thinkers will aspire and that someone will say, ‘I have more right’ whereas Allah and the believers refuse anyone but Abū Bakr.” (al-Bukhārī and Muslim)

I. His name and genealogy

A. He was ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Quhafa ‘Uthman ibn ‘Amir ibn ‘Amr ibn Ka‘b ibn Sa‘d ibn Taym ibn Murra ibn Ka‘b ibn Lu’ayy ibn Ghalib al-Qurashi at-Taymi, whose genealogy connects to that of the Messenger of Allah @ in Murra.
He was one of three people who have all been called the first to accept Islam, and this was resolved by Abū Ḥanīfa, may Allah be merciful to him, who said that Khadijah ü was the first woman to accept Islam, ‘Alī the first of the children and Abū Bakr the first of the men. Others add that  Zayd was the first of the slaves.
He never doubted the Prophet @ and always believed in him from the first moment.

II. Relationship to the Messenger of Allah @ 

1. Abū Bakr was from the tribe of Taym ibn Murra, a relatively small and insignificant branch of Quraysh.

A. Name, kunyah and laqab: 

1. His name was ‘Abdullāh 

2. His kunyah was Abū Bakr

3. His laqab (affectionate nickname) was ‘Atīq ‘freed [from the Fire]’, or ‘comely of face’.

4. The Messenger of Allah @ named him aṣ-Ṣiddīq, ‘the utterly truthful, accepting, believing and confirming the truth’. Ṣidq is one of the three core characteristics of the prophets and messengers.

5. He was his @ ‘companion’ and is named thus in the Qur’ān in the āyats about the the Hijra in Sūrat at-Tawba: “When they two were in the cave, when he said to his companion, ‘Do not grieve; Allah is with us.’”

6. He was the father-in-law of the Messenger of Allah @ through his marrying his daughter ‘Ā’isha ü to him.

III. Posts held

1. He and ‘Umar were considered his @ wazīrs.

2. He and ‘Umar, were considered competent to give fatwa during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah @, and some add also ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī. 

3. Abū Bakr was appointed to lead the first Hajj in Islam the year before the Farewell Hajj of the Messenger of Allah @. 

4. He was appointed to lead the prayer in the mosque of Madina for eight days when the Messenger of Allah @ lay in his final illness, a role only held by the Prophet @ before that.

IV. Personal qualities

A. Knowledge

1. Along with his ability to give fatwa, he is considered to be one of those who had memorised the Qur’ān from the Messenger of Allah @, evidence of which is his leading the prayer, which, along with the hadith “The best read [in the Qur’ān] should lead the people” indicates that he was the best read in the Qur’ān of the Companions.

2. Imām Mālik took the position that the best person (أفضلهم في أنفسهم) should lead the prayer if he is afqahu i.e.  having the best knowledge of fiqh, or being ‘the most discerning, understanding’. He said, “Someone may recite who has no…” and people understood him to mean “… who has no good in him”.

B. The first man to publicly invite people to Islam

C. Generosity

1. He spent everything he had on the Prophet @ and fee sabeelillah.

2. Allah i named him “Al-Atqā – the one with the most taqwā” in Sūrat al-Layl. Ibn al-Jawzi said: They agree unanimously that this was revealed about Abu Bakr. In another āyat Allah i says, “The most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the one with the most taqwā” showing that being atqā he was the akram, the noblest of all the Muslims.


A. How he got it

1. The Companions were not clear and had no concept that there had to be a khalifa. The Anṣār said, “Let there be an amir from us, and an amir from you (Muhājirūn)”, which shows that their concept was limited to there merely being a commander, an amir or indeed even a number of amirs. An amir is a commander, but a khalifa is a successor.

2. He stated “…but the Arabs will never recognise this command except among this section of Quraysh. They are the midmost (noblest) of the Arabs by descent and by tribe…” (Al-Bukhārī and Muslim) In other words, he explicitly recognised the operation of ‘aṣabiyya, whose workings Ibn Khaldūn was to elaborate so many centuries later.

3. In the middle of intense discussion, he then said as is narrated by ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, “…and I am contented for you with either of these two men, (so pledge allegiance to) whichever of them you wish.’ He took hold of my hand and the hand of Abū ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrāḥ …” “…so I said, ‘Stretch out your hand, Abu Bakr,’ and he stretched out his hand and I swore allegiance to him, the Muhajirun swore allegiance to him, then the Ansar swore allegiance to him” (Ibid.) and those who were absent subsequently swore allegiance.

B. Hadith narrated

1. As-Suyuti cites him as narrating 142 hadith, the reason for it being such a small number was that he only lived for a short time after the Messenger of Allah @.

C. Judgements

1. He made a number of significant judgements, some based on his ijtihad and some on his knowledge of the Sunna

a) That a prophet is buried under the bed on which he died

b) That the prophets leave no inheritance, whatever they leave is ṣadaqa

c) To fight those who refused zakāh

(1) This is wrongly thought of as an ijtihād whereas it was his careful reading of the Sunnah and his knowledge that zakāh is the ḥaqq due on wealth.

2. And he made some decisions based on his ijtihād

a) To compile the Qur’ān in a muṣḥāf

(1) A decision made on the basis that ‘Allah expanded his breast to it’ at ‘Umar’s insistence that “By Allah, it is good.”

I. Futūḥ – the Openings to Islam

A. The Byzantines

1. The army of Usāma ibn Zayd, which had been ordered by the Messenger of Allah @, was confirmed and sent on its way by Abū Bakr. Although in the direction of the Byzantines, like the expedition to Tabūk, it mostly resulted in battles with Arab tribes such as Quḍā‘a, and then the battle of Dawmat al-Jandal, then the Christian Arabs of the tribes of Bani Kalb and Ghassān.

a) Although this was a brilliant move strategically, there is no hint that was the reason. Rather Abū Bakr did it simply out of his absolute trust and belief in the Messenger of Allah @ and his unwillingness to rescind a single order that he had made. The following account is worth quoting in its entirety:
Al-Bayhaqi and Ibn ‘Asakir narrated that Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, said: ‘By the One Whom there is no god but Him, if Abu Bakr had not been appointed khalifa then Allah would not have been worshipped.’ Then he said it a second time and then he said it a third time. Someone said to him, ‘How so, Abu Hurayra?’ So he said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, directed Usama ibn Zaid, along with seven hundred men, to Syria. When they arrived at Dhu Khushub the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, the Arabs around Madinah reneged on their Islam and the companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gathered around him [Abū Bakr] and said, “Bring these back. Do you direct them against the Byzantines while the Arabs around Madinah have reneged?” He said, “By the One Whom there is no god but Him, even if dogs were dragging the wives of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by their feet I would not return an army which the Messenger of Allah had sent out, nor undo a standard which he had tied!”
The point here is that this is the measure of who Abū Bakr was against which all subsequent decisions must be measured. There is no possibility here of ambition, realpolitik, compromise or calculation. All that mattered to him was to be true to Allah and His Messenger @. Thus, if he had known that revelation or the Prophet @ had picked out someone else as khalifa, he would not have considered for a second becoming the khalifa.

B. Among the Arabs

1. He unleashed Khālid ibn al-Walīd, ‘Ikrima ibn Abī Jahl and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ against:

a) Those who withheld the zakāh

b) The false prophets: 

(1) Ṭulayḥa ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi of Bani Asad

(a) He was defeated by Khālid at Buzākha. Ṭulayḥa made tawba and re-entered Islam, and made good his Islam, dying as a shahīd later.

(2) Musaylima of Banu Ḥanīfa

(a) Leading to the battle of Yamāma which took place at ‘Aqrabā’ in 11AH/632CE and in which 39 great Companions died, 360 Muhajirun, 300 Ansar, and 1,200 Bedouin. Banu Ḥanīfa lost 7,000 on the plain of ‘Aqrabā’, 7,000 in the ‘Garden of Death’ around Musaylima and a similar number in pursuit of the enemy.

(3) and Sajāḥ bint al-Ḥārith of Banī Tamīm who claimed to be a prophetess, and who marched on Madina, then retreated on hearing of Khālid’s successes, and married Musaylima. Upon the latter’s defeat and death, she re-entered Islam.

2. The renegades and 

3. Those Arabs who had not yet entered Islam
Whereas the People of the Book are offered three alternatives:

a) To enter Islam

b) To make the contract of the dhimmah

c) To fight

d) Mushrikūn such as the Arabs are not offered the contract of the dhimmah, and must either accept Islam or be prepared to fight.

C. Persia and Byzantium

1. Having secured Arabia in 12AH he initiated military expeditions against Persia

a) Khālid advanced against the Persians and won a number of key victories removing modern day Iraq entirely from Persian control.

2. Byzantines

a) Four armies under Abū ‘Ubayda, ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ, Yazīd ibn Abī Sufyān and Shuraḥbīl ibn Ḥasanah were sent against the Byzantines in Syria. However, success only came about when Khālid ibn al-Walīd made a famous forced march through the desert from Iraq arriving where the Byzantines would least have expected him


The logic of the wars of the ridda and against those who refused the zakāh is clear. But what about the wars against Byzantium and Persia? 

Most historians speculate endlessly about Abū Bakr’s ‘reasons’ for invading Iraq and Byzantine Syria – expansion of territory, establishment of empire, creating a buffer zone of security for the nascent Islamic dawla, etc. – but they need look no further than his obedience to Allah and His Messenger @, and to one of the very last āyats revealed in the Noble Book. Ibn Juzayy said, “When it was revealed, the Messenger of Allah @ went upon the expedition of Tabūk to fight the Christians.”

Allah i says:

قَٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَلَا بِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ ٱلْحَقِّ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ حَتَّىٰ يُعْطُوا۟ ٱلْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَٰغِرُونَ

Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who do not make ḥarām what Allah and His Messenger have made ḥarām and do not take as their deen the deen of Truth, from the people who were given the Book, until they pay the jizya with their own hands in a state of complete abasement.” (Sūrat at-Tawba 9:29)

If this was the command with the People of the Book, then certainly lesser groups such as idolators and others most certainly ought to be fought.

They do not believe in Allah. In other words, stuff is all there is, and people too are just stuff. 

They do not believe in the Last Day, meaning they do not believe that they are responsible for their actions and that they will be held to account for them. 

They do not regard as ḥarām what Allah and His Messenger @ have declared ḥarām. Are we talking about nervously worrying about whether our food is ḥalāl, or the fate of enormous numbers of animals butchered in atrocious circumstances, one in front of the other, in great pain? 

Taking lives without right. Collateral damage. Wanton destruction of human life. Realpolitik. 

Are we only talking about love affairs and sex outside of marriage? What about the practice of armies raping women en masse, of having great trailing armies of prostitutes, male, female and children, following them? Are we only talking about theft and pickpocketing? What about the state and its armies expropriating land and property massively? 

They do not take as their dīn the dīn of the Truth. If they do not take the Truth as dīn, then they must surely take as their dīn the way of lying, falsehood, dissimulation and deception. 

And all of this fighting until they become Muslims? No. Until they pay the jizyah, meaning that they agree to live under just Muslim governance and pay a tax for that purpose being exempt from our zakāh.


His final good deed, and one of his greatest, was to appoint ‘Umar as khalifa after him.

Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb î

I. His name and genealogy

He was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab ibn Nufayl ibn ‘Abdi’l-‘Uzza ibn  Riyah ibn Qart ibn Razah ibn ‘Adi ibn Ka‘b ibn Lu’ayy, Amir al-Mu’minin, Abu Hafs, al-Qurashi, al-‘Adawi, al-Faruq.

He accepted Islam in the sixth year of prophecy when he was twenty-seven years old, says adh-Dhahabi.

A. kunyah – Abū Ḥafṣ 

B. Laqab – al-Fārūq because his fearless espousal of Islam publicly in Makka created a clear distinction between Islam and kufr.

C. Social standing. He was from a small clan of Quraysh, Banī ‘Adī.

I. Relationship to the Messenger of Allah @

A. He was the father-in-law through the marriage of his daughter Ḥafṣa to the Messenger of Allah @ 

II. Personal qualities

A. Tawba

1. He was resolutely opposed to Islam and was on his way to kill the Prophet @ when something happened that led him to accept him.

B. Truthfulness. 

1. At-Tirmidhi narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Allah has put the truth upon ‘Umar’s tongue and (in) his heart.’

2. Ibn Majah and al-Hakim narrated that Abu Dharr said: The Prophet @ said, ‘Truly Allah has placed the truth upon the tongue of ‘Umar, It speaks by him (or he speaks by It).’

3. Ibn ‘Asākir narrated that ‘Alī said: “May Allah show mercy to ‘Umar. He speaks the truth though it be bitter and the Truth has left him without a friend.”

4. Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Prophet @ said, ‘There were in the nations before you people who were inspired, and if there is one in my ummah it is ‘Umar.’ 

5. At-Tirmidhi narrated, as did al-Hakim who declared it sahih, that ‘Uqba ibn cAmir said: The Prophet @ said, ‘If there were to be a prophet after me it would be ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.’

6. He took a number of stances, sometimes contrary to the Messenger of Allah @, and the Qur’ān was revealed confirming the positions he took. Some people say that there were more than twenty of them.

7. The above establish for us why the decisions ‘Umar took while khalifa are important.

8. Moreover, given this that the Prophet @ himself told us about him, it is impossible to conceive of him allowing anyone to be passed over for the khilafa if the revelation or the Messenger of Allah @ had appointed them, neither at the time of Abū Bakr nor at the time of his own appointment.

C. Knowledge.

1. Hadith

a) He narrated five hundred and thirty-nine hadiths from the Prophet @, the most famous of which is the hadith about intention and hijra which is considered by most scholars to be the first in any issue, and the hadith of Jibril about Islam, Iman and Ihsan which is called Umm al-aḥādīth or ‘the mother/core of all hadiths’.

2. Fiqh and Ijtihād

a) ‘Umar is not only important for his great knowledge of the Sunna but also for his demonstrating how to take new decisions in the face of new circumstances. Thus the practice of the salaf is not just a static set of positions but a dynamic way of judging and acting. His judgements became the basis of the school of Madina which Mālik recorded. 

III. Important deeds before his khilafa

A. He not only single-handedly appointed Abū Bakr but arguably thus created the khilafa. NOTE: Lest I over-stress the role of ‘Umar in pledging allegiance to Abū Bakr, Ibn Taymiyya said in Minhāj as-Sunna, “Rather, the imamate in their view is confirmed by the agreement of those who have power over it, and a man does not become an Imām until those who have power over it and by means of whose obedience to him the purpose of the imamate is obtained, because the purpose of imamate is only obtained by power and authority. Thus when someone is pledged allegiance by means of a bay‘a from which power is obtained, then he becomes an Imām.”

B. He urged Abū Bakr to compile the Qur’ān in a muṣḥaf.

IV. Leadership

A. His appointment

1. He became leader by the appointment of Abū Bakr on his deathbed, after consultation with the Companions. Abū Bakr had ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān write the document of appointment.

2. He did not consider himself the khalifa of the Messenger of Allah @, but the khalifa of Abū Bakr who was the khalifa of the Messenger of Allah @, and then someone hit upon calling him Amīr al-Mu’minīn.

3. Fiqh: he was Faqih. Many famous judgements come down to us from him, through his knowledge of the Sunnah and his ijtihād in new circumstances.

4. His judgements and his transmissions are important since they occur during the lifetimes of most of the Companions who either endorsed them or remained silent, indicating their agreement, and most often were involved in the process of shūrā that arrived at the decision, thus making most of his decisions of the rank of ijmā‘. The decisions often involved matters of al-maṣlaḥat al-mursalah or general welfare, and sadd adh-dharā‘i or cutting off access to the ḥarām by prohibiting something not in itself ḥarām in case it lead to the ḥarām.

a) The dīwān register of the Muslims which was coupled with the division of the substantial wealth accruing to the bayt al-mal among all the Muslims in the form of regular stipends

b) Leaving the sawād – cultivatable land – of Iraq to its inhabitants and levying the kharāj on their land, assessed on the basis of previous usage

c) Establishing provinces in Iraq, Shām and Egypt with their governors and their qāḍīs

d) The decision not to record the Sunna in the way that Abū Bakr had recorded the Qur’ān. Although this is a decision that was not made, it has had an enormous effect, because by it he arguably prevented the Qur’ān and the hadith becoming mixed up in the way that the People of the Book confused their revelation with historical and rabbinical material. He took this decision in spite of the fact that all of the Companions thought it was a good idea.

e) ‘When ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb went to Syria and was met by Mu‘āwiya in full royal splendour as exhibited both in the number (of Mu‘āwiya’s retinue) and his equipment, he disapproved of it and said: “Are these royal Persian manners (kisrawiya), Mu‘āwiya?” Mu‘āwiya replied: “Amīr al-Mu’minīn, I am in a border region facing the enemy. It is necessary for us to vie with (the enemy) in military equipment.” ‘Umar was silent and did not consider Mu‘āwiya to be wrong. He had used an argument that was in agreement with the intentions of the truth and of Islam.’2 (Ibn Khaldūn, Muqaddima, Vol.1, p.417) Here, the second khalifa met the beginnings of the sixth khilafa and recognised the logic of the royal authority that Mu‘āwiya was later to assume.

f) The decision to date from the Hijra, taken in consultation with the Companions and at the suggestion of ‘Alī.

g) He made use of existing administrative apparatus (Byzantine, Egyptian and Sassanian)

h) In all the territories and provinces, the diwan registers were kept in the local language, Greek, Coptic or Farsi.

i) Use was made of the existing mints, and coins were issued from the dies used by the Byzantines and Persians

j) The kharāj tax instituted on the land was assessed according to existing assessments by the prior administrations.

V. New wealth. 

A. It is said that the first indication of the great wealth that was later to flow into the Muslim coffers came when Abū Hurayra brought 500,000 dinars from Bahrayn as jizya and kharaj in 20 AH. 

VI. Futūḥ – Openings to Islam

A. Almost his first act was to remove Khālid ibn al-Walīd from command of the army. ‘Umar wrote to the provinces, “I have not removed Khālid out of displeasure or out of treachery, but people have been tested because of him and I wanted them to know that Allah is the Doer.” ‘Umar is said to have praised him in these words: “You have done; And no man has done as you have done. But it is not people who do; It is Allah Who does...” (Akram 2004, p. 487)

B. 13 AH. He took on the khilafah through the covenant of Abu Bakr in Jumada al-Akhirah.

1. Az-Zuhri said, ‘‘Umar was appointed khalifah on the day that Abu Bakr died which was Tuesday eight days before the end of Jumada al-Akhirah.’ Al-Hakim narrated it.

C. 14 AH, Damascus was opened [to Islam] partly both by treaty and force, and Homs (ancient Emessa) and Baalbek by treaty, and Basra and Ubullah by force.

1. ‘In that year ‘Umar united people in one jamacah in salat at-tarawih,’ said al-cAskari in al-Awa’il (Firsts).

D. 15 AH, all of Jordan was opened [to Islam] by force except for Tiberias which was by treaty. In this year there were the battles of Yarmuk [in ash-Sham] and Qadisiyyah [in Iraq]. This latter pitted 50,000-100,000 Persians against around 30,000 Muslims. The battle raged for some days with considerable slaughter and was only carried by the Bedouin sallying into the enemy camp in the middle of the night.

1. Ibn Jarir said: In it Sacd founded Kufa, peopling it with Arab tribes from among those who had reneged on their dīn and been fought until they had resubmitted. Later it was to fill with Persian slaves, and mawālī. ‘Umar instituted regular wages (for the fighting men), diwan-registers, and gave allowances according to priority.

E. 16 AH, Ahwaz and Mada’in were opened, and in the latter Sacd established the Jumucah in the great hall of Khosrau, and this was the first Jumucah to be held in Iraq. That was in the month of Safar. In it, was the battle of Jalula in which Yezdajird the son of Khosrau was defeated and he retreated back to Rayy. In it, Takrit was opened, ‘Umar travelled and took al-Bait al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and gave his famous khutbah in al-Jabiyyah. Kinnasrin, Aleppo, and Antioch were opened by force, Manbij by treaty, and Saruj by force. In that year, Qirqisiya’ was opened by treaty. 

1. In Rabic al-Awwal, dating was begun from the Hijrah on the advice of cAli.

F. 17 AH, ‘Umar increased the size of the Prophet’s Mosque. 

1. In it there was drought and famine in the Hijaz and it was called the Year of Destruction, and ‘Umar prayed for rain for people by means of al-‘Abbas.

2. Ibn Sa‘d narrated from Niyar al-Aslami that when ‘Umar came out to pray for rain, he came out with the cloak of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, upon him.

3. He narrated that Ibn Awn said: ‘Umar took hold of the hand of al-Abbas and raised it up, saying, ‘O Allah, we approach You by means of the uncle of Your Prophet (asking) that You drive away from us the drought, and that You give us to drink from the rain,’ and they didn’t leave before they were given to drink. The sky poured down upon them for days. 

4. In that year Ahwaz was taken by treaty.

G. 18 AH (639 CE), Jundaysabur was opened [to Islam] by treaty, and Hulwan by force. 

1. In it, was the plague of Emaus during which Mu‘adh ibn Jabal and Abū ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrāḥ died

2. Urfa (Edessa) and Sumaysat were opened by force; Harran, Nasibin and a part of Mesopotamia by force, and it has been said, by treaty; and Mosul and its environs by force. 

3. ‘Umar instituted the standards of the dinar and dirham, i.e. the weights.

H. 19 AH, Cæsarea was opened by force. 

I. 20 AH (640-1 CE), Egypt was opened by force. It is also said that all of Egypt was opened by treaty except for Alexandria which was opened by force. cAli ibn Rabah said, ‘The whole of the Maghrib (northwestern Africa) was opened by force.’ In that year Tustar was opened. Heraclius died. 

1. In it also, ‘Umar expelled the Jews from Khaybar and Najran when he learnt of the hadith of the Messenger of Allah @ that two dīns were not to remain in the Arabian Peninsula.

2. He apportioned Khaybar and Wadi’l-Qurra’ (between those who had been present there at the original battles of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace). 

3. This was the year in which the diwan registers were established. ‘The first to set up the diwan in the Muslim [dawla] was ‘Umar. The reason is said to have been the arrival of Abu Hurayrah with money [500,000 dinars] from al-Bahrayn. (The Muslims) thought that it was a very large sum, and they had trouble with its distribution. They tried to count the money and to establish how it should be paid out for allowances and claims. On that occasion, Khalid ibn al-Walid advised the use of the diwan. He said: “I have seen the rulers of Syria keeping a diwan.” ‘Umar accepted the idea from Khalid.’ (Ibn Khaldūn, Muqaddimah)

J. 21 AH, Alexandria was opened by force, and Nahawand – after which the Persians could not muster an army – and Barqah and other places.

K. 22 AH, Azerbaijan was opened by force, and it has been said, by treaty, and Dinawr by force, Masabdhan and Hamadan by force, and Tripoli of North Africa, Rai, ‘Askar and Qumas.

L. 23 AH, there were the openings [to Islam] of Kirman, Sijistan, Makran in the mountainous lands, and also Isfahan and its environs.

1. In the end of this year there was the death of Sayyiduna ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, after his return from the Hajj; he was killed as a martyr.

2. Aslam said: ‘Umar said, ‘O Allah provide me with martyrdom in Your way, and make my death to be in the city of Your Messenger.’ Al-Bukhari narrated it. It is one of his miracles that these two apparently contradictory wishes were resolved in his martyrdom.

3. Before dying he said, ‘There are people who tell me to appoint a successor, and Allah will not cause His deen to go to waste nor His khilafah. If the matter is hastened for me, then the khilafah is a matter of consultation between these six whom the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was pleased with when he died.’ Al-Hakim narrated it. They were az-Zubayr, Ṭalḥa, ‘Uthmān, ‘Alī, ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn ‘Awf and Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ.

One of his Merits

Among his great merits must be that he left his son ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar, one of the great men of knowledge of Islam whose hadiths, narrated through his freed slave Nāfi‘, are the Golden Silsila of al-Bukhārī, and whose fiqh is a core of the madhhab of the people of Madina and of all the madhhabs.


Why ‘Umar at this time? Which is answered by seeing What he did.


His judgements are not only important in themselves but in showing succeeding generations of rulers and scholars How to reach a judgement


His futūḥ openings created the just setting for millions of people that resulted in most of them becoming Muslims without coercion within the next two centuries. That the society was just is proved by their embracing Islam. That there was no coercion is proved by their taking, in some cases two centuries to do so, and by the fact that there still exist the descendants of those who never did embrace Islam.


His organisation of the dawla moved Islam from being the dīn of a small city and then of the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula towards being the umbrella under which people of many races, languages and religions were to shelter. 


His establishment of correct weights for the dinar and dirham would later serve for the establishment of a sound currency at the time of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān. A sound currency is a fundamental aspect of social justice.


Al-Bazzar narrated from Qudāmah ibn Maẓ‘ūn that his paternal uncle ‘Uthmān ibn Maẓ‘ūn said: The Prophet @ said, ‘This one is the lock upon the fitna (sedition and trials),’ and he indicated ‘Umar with his hand. ‘There will remain a door strongly locked between you and the fitna as long as this one lives among you.’

1 Centre for Madinan Research and Studies. 24/7/2009 

2 و لما لقي معاوية عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنهما عند قدومه إلى الشام في أبهة الملك وزيه من العديد والعدة استنكر ذلك وقال: أكسروية يا معاوية فقال يا أمير المؤمنين أنا في ثغر تجاه العدو وبنا إلى مباهاتهم بزينة الحرب و الجهاد حاجة فسكت و لم يخطئه لما احتج عليه بمقصد من مقاصد الحق والدين

Appendix – Maps and Genealogical Trees