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|Topic: Umar ibn al-Khattab|
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| Topic: Umar ibn al-Khattab
Posted: 02 July 2005 at 4:53am
Bi ismilahir rahmanir raheem
`Umar ibn al-Khattab ibn Nufayl ibn `Abd al-`Uzza ibn Rayyah, Shaykh al-Islam, Amir al-Mu’minin, Abu Hafs al-Qurashi al-`Adawi al-Faruq (d. 23). Among the Companions who narrated from him: `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Abu Hurayra, and especially his son Ibn `Umar upon whose narrations Malik relied in his Muwatta’. He was described as fair-skinned with some reddishness, tall with a large build, fast-paced, and a skilled fighter and horseman. He embraced Islam after having fought it, in the year 6 of the Prophethood, at age twenty-seven. This was the result of the Prophet’s explicit supplication: "O Allah! Strengthen Islam with `Umar ibn al-Khattab." In his time Islam entered Egypt, Syria, Sijistan, Persia, and other regions. He died a martyr, stabbed in the back while at prayer by a Sabean or Zoroastrian slave, at sixty-six years of age.
`Umar al-Faruq was second only to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq in closeness to and approval from the Prophet. The latter said: "I have two ministers from the inhabitants of the heaven and two ministers from the inhabitants of the earth. The former are Jibril and Mika’il, and the latter are Abu Bakr and `Umar." He said of the latter: "These two are [my] hearing and eyesight" and instructed the Companions: "Follow those that come after me: Abu Bakr and `Umar."
`Umar was given the gift of true inspiration which is the characteristic of Allah’s Friends named kashf or "unveiling." The Prophet said: "In the nations long before you were people who were spoken to [by the angels] although they were not prophets. If there is anyone of them in my Community, truly it is `Umar ibn al-Khattab." This narration is elucidated by the two narrations whereby "Allah has engraved truth on the tongue of `Umar and his heart" and "If there were a Prophet after me verily it would be `Umar." Al-Tirmidhi said that according to Ibn `Uyayna "spoken to" (muhaddathűn) means "made to understand" (mufahhaműn), while in his narration Muslim added: "Ibn Wahb explained ‘spoken to’ as ‘inspired’ (mulham)." This is the majority’s opinion according to Ibn Hajar who said: "‘Spoken to’ means ‘by the angels’." Al-Nawawi and Ibn Hajar said respectively in Sharh Sahih Muslim and Fath al-Bari:
A claim was raised that since the hadith states "If there is anyone in my Umma, it is `Umar," it must follow that at most the number of such inspired people is at most one, namely `Umar. Ibn Hajar replied to this with the reminder that it is wrong to think that other Communities had many but this Community only one. Thus what is meant by the hadith is the perfection of the quality of ilhâm ű inspiration ű in `Umar, not its lack in other Muslims, and Allah knows best.
`Umar also had the unique distinction of having his views confirmed by the revelation in the Holy Qur’an: He said three things which were confirmed by subsequent revelations:
He was unique in his power of separating truth from falsehood and the Prophet conferred on him the title of al-Fârűq, saying: "In truth, the devil certainly parts ways with (layafruqu min) `Umar." He memorized Sura al-Baqara in twelve years, and when he had learned it completely he slaughtered a camel. Imam Malik stated that on his suggestion the words "I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" were added to the adhân, and likewise the words "Prayer is better than Sleep" to the adhân for the dawn prayer. However, the more correct report is that it is Bilal who first inserted the latter formula in the call to the dawn prayer and the Prophet retained it.
`Umar ibn al-Khattab was the first Muslim ruler to establish a Public Treasury; the first Muslim ruler to levy a customs duty named `ushr; the first Muslim ruler to organize a census; the first Muslim ruler to strike coins; the first Muslim ruler to organize a system of canals for irrigation; and the first Muslim ruler to formally organize provinces, cities, and districts. He established the system of guest-houses and rest-houses on major routes to and from major cities. He established schools throughout the land and allocated liberal salaries for teachers. He was the first to prohibit mut`a or temporary marriage, according to the Prophet’s earlier prohibition. He was the first to place the law of inheritance on a firm basis. He was the first to establish trusts, and the first ruler in history to separate the judiciary from the executive.
He took pains to provide effective and speedy justice for the people. He set up an effective system of judicial administration under which justice was administered according to the principles of Islam. Qadis or judges were appointed at all administrative levels for the administration of justice and were chosen for their integrity and learning in Islamic law. High salaries were paid to them and they were appointed from the among the wealthy and those of high social standing so as not to be influenced by the social position of any litigants. The qadis were not allowed to engage in trade.
From time to time, `Umar used to issue firmans or edicts laying down the principles for the administration of justice. One of his firmans read:
One day Abu Musa al-Ash`ari, the governor of Basra at the time, wrote to `Umar complaining that the ordinances, instructions, and letters from the Caliph were undated and therefore gave rise to problems linked to the sequence of their implementation. Because of this and other similar problems of undatedness, `Umar convened an assembly of scholars and advisors to consider the question of calendar reforms. The deliberations of this assembly resulted in the combined opinion that Muslims should have a calendar of their own. The point that was next considered was from when should the new Muslim calendar era begin. Some suggested that the era should begin from the birth of the Prophet while others suggested that it should begin from the time of his death. `Ali suggested that the era should begin from the date the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Madina, and this was agreed upon. The next question considered was the month from which the new era should start. Some suggested that it should start from the month of Rabi` al-Awwal, some from Rajab, others from Ramadan, others from Dhu al-Hijja. `Uthman suggested that the new era should start from the month of Muharram because that was the first month in the Arabic calendar of that time. This was agreed upon. Since the Migration had taken place in the month of Rabi` al-Awwal, two months and eight days after the first of Muharram that year, the date was pushed back by two months and eight days, and the new Hijri calendar began with the first day of Muharram in the year of the Migration rather than from the actual date of the Migration.
`Umar was the first Muslim ruler to levy `ushr, the Customs or Import Duty. It was levied on the goods of the traders of other countries who chose to trade in the Muslim dominions, at up to 10% of the goods imported and on a reciprocal basis. `Ushr was levied in a way to avoid hardships, and only on merchandise meant for sale, not goods imported for consumption or for personal use. Goods valued at two hundred dirhams or less were not subject to `ushr. Instructions were issued to the officials that no personal luggage was to be searched, and `ushr was applied only to goods that were declared as being for the purpose of trade. The rate varied for Muslim and non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim dominions. If the former imported goods for the purpose of trade, they paid a lower rate of `ushr: 2+ % , that is, the same rate as for zakât. Hence, this was regarded as part of the zakât and not as a separate tax. Dhimmis or non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim dominions who imported goods for the purpose of trade paid a `ushr of 5%. In order to avoid double taxation, it was established that if the `ushr had been paid once on imported goods, and then these goods were subsequently taken abroad and then brought back into the Muslim dominions within the same year, no additional `ushr was to be levied on such re-imported goods.
Some among `Umar’s innovations mentioned in Abu Hilal al-`Askari’s Kitab al-Awa’il ("Book of Firsts") and Tabari’s Tarikh:
`Abd Allah ibn `Isa ibn Abi Layla related: "There were two dark lines in `Umar’s face marked by tears." Al-Hasan al-Basri and Hisham ibn al-Hasan narrated that `Umar sometimes lost consciousness after reciting a verse from the Qur’an, whereupon he would be taken ill and visited for days. Among `Umar’s sayings:
`Umar was the closed door between the Prophet’s Community and the onset of dissension. His death is one of the earliest signs of the Hour. One day he asked Hudhayfa about the "dissension that shall surge like the waves of the sea" according to the Prophet’s own terms. Hudhayfa answered: "You need not worry about it, for between you and it there is a gate closed shut." `Umar said: "Will the gate be opened or broken?" Hudhayfa said: "Broken!" `Umar replied: "That is more appropriate than that it be let open." The narrator [Abu Wa’il] said: "We feared to ask Hudhayfa who was that gate, so we sent Masruq to ask him and he said: That gate was `Umar."
Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.
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