Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Umar Al Farooq - The Great Caliph - Part One: Timeline Of The Life Of Caliph Umar

By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam 26 October 2022 Amongst the nations before your time, there have been inspired people (who were not Prophets), and if there is one amongst my Ummah, he is Umar - Prophet Muhammad Timeline of the Life of Caliph Umar 577: Umar born in Makkah to Khattab ibn Nufayl and Hantama bint Hisham. 616: Umar’s conversion to Islam. 634-644: Umar (b 577 CE – d 3 November 644 CE)) reigns as the second Caliph. The Muslims subjugate Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Garrisons were established in the conquered lands, and the Muslim rulers began to take control of the financial organisation. 635: Muslims begin the conquest of Persia and Syria. 635: Arab Muslims capture the city of Damascus from the Byzantines. 636: Battle of Yarmuk (also: Yarmuq, Hieromyax): Following the Muslim capture of Damascus and Edessa, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius organizes a large army that manages to take back control of those cities. However, Byzantine commander, Baänes is soundly defeated by Muslim forces under Khalid ibn Walid in a battle in the valley of the Yarmuk River outside Damascus. This leaves all of Syria open to Arab domination. 636: The Arabs under Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas defeat a Sasanian army in the battle of Qadisiyya (near Hira), gaining Iraq west of the Tigris. A second victory follows at Jalula, near Ctesiphon. 637: The Arabs occupy the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By 651, the entire Persian realm would come under Islam's rule, which continued its westward expansion. 637: Syria is conquered by Muslim forces. 637: Jerusalem falls to invading Muslim forces. 638: Caliph Umar marries Umm Kulthum; enters Jerusalem. 639-42: Conquest of Egypt (642 taking of Alexandria) by ‘Amr ibn al-’As. Muslims capture the sea port of Caesarea in Palestine, marking the end of the Byzantine presence in Syria. Timeline of the Life of Caliph Umar 641: Islam spreads into Egypt. The Catholic Archbishop invites Muslims to help free Egypt from Roman oppressors. 641: Under the leadership of Abd-al-Rahman, Muslims conquer southern areas of Azerbaijan, Daghestan, Georgia, and Armenia. 641/2: Under the leadership of Amr ibn al-As, Muslims conquer the Byzantine city of Alexandria in Egypt. Al-As creates the first Muslim city in Egypt, al-Fustat, and builds there the first mosque in Egypt. 644: Umar dies and is succeeded by Uthman. ------ The Greatness of Caliph Umar The romance of history is not only fascinating but also genuinely inspiring. Every age has been a model for the succeeding one, and thus the history of the kingdoms and the human race has evolved from cave dwellers to visitors to the moon. Butin this vast penumbra, history remains studded with only a few individuals whose lives shine in luminescence and whose ideals are living models of shimmering meteors of wisdom. These great men have been the pathfinders and torchbearers of plans that shaped glorious civilizations. Men of genius are meteors intended to burn to light their century. In history, some men were exquisite kings, philosophers, scholars, rulers, and generals who could grasp the true purpose of life quite early and harnessed it into great societies and did not have to share the ignominy of many others who could not catch the luminescence of this truth and had to remain content with leaving a poor legacy. Those noble souls, whose teachings survived the driftwood of history and whose names continue to burnish with greatness, were men driven by a ceaseless urge to change society by liberating segments of the population that were fenced from each other by prejudice. All great men - whether social reformers, thinkers, statesmen, sages, or patriots - differ from ordinary men only in one respect. They dare to dream and also work to transmute that dream into reality. They give life both meaning and purpose and devote themselves single-mindedly to achieving it. In the seventh century, the envoy of the Roman Emperor set out for Madinah, accompanied by a large entourage, flaunting the pageantry of adornments that the Roman Empire was famous for. On arrival in the metropolis of Islam, he enquired from a passer-by: “Tell me please, where is the palace of the Caliph?” The Arab looked around. He was amused by this strange question, “What do you mean by a palace?” retorted the Arab.” I mean the palace of Umar, the Caliph of Islam,” added the envoy. ‘‘Oh! You want to see Umar. Come on, I will take you in his presence,” replied the Arab. The envoy was escorted to the Mosque of the Prophet, and, to his utter astonishment, a man who was lying on the bare floor of the mosque was introduced to him as Caliph Umar, the greatest ruler of his time, whose armies held sway over the three known continents of the world. The envoy was taken aback at such a strange sight. The report of what he observed in Madinah was enough to impress the Roman Emperor with the invincible might of Islam. Umar, in full ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭtāb, (born c. 586, Mecca, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia] - died November 3, 644, Medina, Arabia), the second Muslim caliph (from 634). He was the second successor, or Caliph, to Muhammad, but he was also Muhammad’s father-in-law. Umar is sometimes referred to as the “St. Paul” of Islam, first because of his success in spreading Islam and second because he was originally opposed to Islam, but underwent a conversion experience that caused him to reverse course and support Prophet Muhammad. It was under him that Arab armies conquered much of the world that Became Arabia of his day. He is a significant figure in the development of Muslim civilization. He supervised the installation of Abu Bakr as the first Caliph and masterminded the victories over both the Byzantine and Persian empires. Simplicity, poverty, justice - these are three qualities of the brave and energetic man who led the Arabs out of the confines of the Arabian Desert into the lush lands of the age-old Fertile Crescent Umar was part of the first emigration to Medina and became an important companion of Muhammad. He participated in all of the Muslim battles against the Quraish. Umar was an implacable puritan and the architect of the whole political geography of the Islamic empire. A member of the clan of ʿAdī of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, ʿUmar at first opposed Muhammad but, in about 615, became a Muslim. By 622, when he went to Medina with Muhammad and the other Meccan Muslims, he had become one of Muhammad’s chief advisers, closely associated with Abū Bakr. His position in the state was marked by Muhammad’s marriage to his daughter Ḥafṣah in 625. On Muhammad’s death in 632, ʿUmar was primarily responsible for reconciling the Medinan Muslims to the acceptance of a Meccan, Abū Bakr, as head of state (caliph). Abū Bakr (reigned 632–634) relied extensively on ʿUmar and nominated him to succeed him. As caliph, ʿUmar was the first to call himself “commander of the faithful” (Amīr Al-Muʾminīn). His reign saw the transformation of the Islamic state from an Arabian principality to a world power. Umar was a member of the Ummayah clan of the Makkan Quraysh tribe – thus, the name of the empire he founded was the Umayyad Empire. After the death of Muhammad, Umar made sure that the community leadership went to Abu Bakr. This effort helped ensure that the group was not split according to differing loyalties between those from Makkah and those from Madinah. Abu Bakr designated Umar as his successor when he was on his deathbed. The Great Expansion Throughout this remarkable expansion, ʿUmar closely controlled general policy and laid down the principles for administering the conquered lands. The structure of the later Islamic empire, including legal practice, is primarily due to him. ʿUmar established the Diwan (a register of warriors’ pensions that, over time evolved into a powerful governmental body), inaugurated the Islamic Hijrī calendar, and created the office of the qadi (judge). He also established the garrison cities of Al-Fusṭāṭ in Egypt and Basra and Kūfah in Iraq. Converting to Islam in the 6th year after Muhammad’s first revelation, Umar spent 18 years in the companionship of Muhammad. He succeeded Caliph Abu Bakr on 23 August 634 and transformed his inherited empire. His reign saw the evolution of the Islamic state from an Arabian principality to a world power, controlling the whole territory of the former Sassanid Persian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. A Bold Strategist Umar’s legislative abilities, his firm political and administrative control over a rapidly expanding empire and his brilliantly coordinated attacks against the Sassanid Persian Empire that resulted in the conquest of the Persian Empire in less than two years marked his reputation as an astute political and military strategist. Throughout this remarkable expansion, Umar closely controlled general policy and laid down the principles for administering the conquered lands. The structure of the later Islamic empire, including legal and administrative systems and financial architecture, is largely a result of his farsightedness and wisdom. A strong ruler, stern toward offenders, and ascetic to the point of harshness, he was universally respected for his justice and authority. Umar personified what the Arabs called muruwwa, the virtue of being a man. It connotes a cluster of virtues: bravery, generosity, practical wisdom and honour, all highly valued and praised in Arab tribal culture. Umar was endowed with extraordinary practical knowledge. Practical learning - the Greeks called phronesis–is essentially the art of knowing the right thing to do at the right time and in the right way. It encompasses the ability to see ahead, predict how things will unfold, and forecast the consequences of a given course of action. Throughout his reign, Umar remained a legendary puritan, a stern, austere man who came down hard on any public display of vulgarity, gambling, improper dress, the misuse of state property, or abuse of delegated powers. He expected those entrusted with the high office to have morality to match their exalted responsibilities. In 644, ʿUmar was attacked by an enslaved Persian Christian named Abū Luʾluʾah and died from his wounds three days later. While he lay dying, ʿUmar appointed a six-man council that eventually selected ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān as his successor. A strong ruler, stern toward offenders, and ascetic to the point of harshness, ʿUmar was universally respected for his justice and authority. His role in decisively shaping the early Islamic community is widely acknowledged. When the Roman emperor heard about his death, he said: "A virtuous person has passed away... I am hardly surprised to see an ascetic who renounced the world and gave himself to the prayers of Allah. But I am certainly surprised at a person who had all the world's pleasures at his feet and yet shut his eyes against them and lived a life of piety and renunciation." Umar’s whole being was focused on pleasing God; he feared God’s punishment but hoped for Paradise. Umar could distinguish between truth and falsehood; he was pained when the Ummah or any member of it was hurt, and he felt joy when those under his care were content and happy worshipping their Lord. Many regard Umar as one of the greatest political geniuses in history. He is often seen as the architect of the Islamic Empire. Under his leadership, the empire expanded at an unbelievable pace and several administrative reforms were undertaken. As a jurist, he began to codify Islamic law. He decreed that the Islamic calendar should be counted from the year of the Hijra of Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah. The achievements of Umar are all the more remarkable, considering that he lacked the advantage of birth, nobility, or wealth that some of the other Companions enjoyed. He was born into the tribe of Bani ‘Adi, a poorer cousin among the Quraysh. In his own words, before he accepted Islam, he was at various times a petty merchant and a shepherd who would often lose his sheep. From such humble beginnings, he rose to weld together an empire greater in size than Rome or Persia, governed it with the Wisdom of Solomon, and administered it with the sagacity of Joseph. The Prophet had great praise for Umar’s knowledge and faith. He bore witness to the superiority of Umar in his faith and knowledge, saying: ‘While I was sleeping, I saw the people being presented to me. Each of them was wearing a shirt. Some reached to their breast and some reached farther than that. Then Umar was shown to me with his shirt reaching to the ground.’ They asked: ‘How do you interpret it, Allah’s Messenger?’ He said: ‘Faith’ [Al-Bukhari]. About his knowledge, the Prophet said, ‘While sleeping, I drank until I saw springs coming from my fingernails. Then, I gave Umar some to drink.’ They said: ‘How do you interpret it, Allah’s Messenger?’ He said: ‘Knowledge.’ Prophet Muhammad said, “If there were to be a Prophet after me, then he would be Umar ibn Al-Khattab.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 57, Number 38). Umar was one of the ‘chosen ten’ Companions of the Prophet of Islam who were assured of Paradise. However, this did not stop him from tirelessly working all his life to please God. He was a man of knowledge, known for his generosity and tireless devotion to the worship of God and, perhaps, above all, his devotion to the Ummah of Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad would repeatedly counsel the Ummah, “A man is not a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” As long as he lived, Umar’s moral authority was undisputed. Al Tabari records: ‘Umar said to Selman: ‘Am I a king or a Caliph?’ and Selman answered: ‘If you have levied from the lands of the Muslims one dirham, or more, or less, and applied it unlawfully, you are a king, not a Caliph.’ And ‘Umar wept. Umar owned one shirt and one mantle, both noted for their patchwork. The glory of Islam was his only concern. Umar’s achievements are impressive indeed. After Muhammad himself, he was the principal figure in the expansion of the Arab kingdom. Simplicity, poverty, and justice are three qualities of the brave and energetic man who led the Arabs out of the confines of the Arabian Desert into the lush lands of the age-old Fertile Crescent. Without his rapid conquests, it is doubtful if Islam would have been so expansive. Furthermore, most of the territory conquered during his reign remained Arab. Of course, it was Muhammad who was the prime mover. But it would be a grave mistake to ignore Umar’s contribution. Umar capitalized on the momentum built in Prophet’s time and harnessed it into a well-crafted and marvellously executed strategy. ----- Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker. He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

No comments:

Post a Comment