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Omar (r) As Viewed by the Sunni, the Shi’a and Western Writers A.S. Hashim, MD From wikipedia.com
Sources of Reference Al Farooq, Omar, Muhammad Husayn Haykal al-Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings Tabqat ibn Sa'ad. al-Suyuti, The History of Khalifahs Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muhammad. K. Y. Blankinship, The History of al-Tabari Early Khilaafah, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ya’qub Khan Modern Islamic political thought, Hahmid Enayat, Encyclopedia Britannica al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah by ibn Kathir Armstrong,
4 In this Slide Show Omar’s Legacy Sunni Point of View Sunnis Remember Omar Most Sunnis Consider him a Strong… Some Sunni Take a more Nuanced View Shi’a Point of View Shi'a hold an opposing perspective Differing Mainly in Two Points The Umayya View Western Writers Point of View 1. Washington Irving 2. Sir William Muir 3. Gibbon 4. Professor Philip Khuri Hitti 5. Encyclopedia Britannica
Omar: Legacy Al-Farooq, Sahaabi, Khalifa The Islamic Empire As Considered by Sunni versus Shi’a The Influential Figure The Politicaly Savvy The Good Manager The Compactness of his Political Rule Omar’s Demeanor
Al-Farooq, Sahaabi, Khalifa Omar ibn al-Khattab, also known as Omar the Farooq: (The one who distinguishes between right and wrong) Omar was the most powerful of the four Rashidoon Khalifas He is regarded as one of the most powerful and influential Muslim rulers. He was a Sahaabi (companion) of Prophet Muhammad. He succeeded Khalifa Abu Bakr as the second of the Rashidoon Khilaafah on 23 August 634. He was an expert jurist known for his justice, that earned him the title Al-Farooq. Also, Omar was the first Khalifa to be called Amir al- Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful or Prince of the Believers).
The Islamic Empire Under Omar the Islamic empire expanded at an unprecedented rate Ruling over the whole Sassani Persian Empire and more than two thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. Omar’s reputation as a great political and military leader, and: his legislative abilities, his firm political and administrative control over a rapidly expanding empire and his brilliantly coordinated multi-prong attacks against Sassani Persian Empire had resulted in conquest of Persian Empire in less than two years, It was Omar who for the first time in 500 years since expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land, that allowed them to live in Jerusalem and practice their religion freely.
As Considered by Sunni versus Shi’a Religiously a controversial figure in the Muslim world: Omar is regarded by Sunni Muslims as one of four Rashidoon or rightly guided Khalifas who were true successors of Muhammad; Omar, in stark contrast, is regarded by Shi'a Muslims as unjust in his usurping Ali's right to the Khilaafah, indeed as the principal political architect of opposition to Ali.
The Influential Figure Omar is regarded as one of the most influential figures in Islamic history. He was in a true sense the architect of the Islamic Empire. As a leader, Omar was known for his simple and 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 impoverished and persecuted. Omar was vigorous, robust and a very tall man, in markets he would tower above the people. The front part of his head was bald, eyes were black, His teeth were white. He would always color his long beard using Henna.
The Politicaly Savvy Omar is considered as a political genius, as an architect of Islamic Empire; he is regarded as 52nd most influential figure in history. Omar remained politically stagnant during Mohammad's era, however after his death, It was Omar's brilliance that Abu Bakr was elected as Khalifa, despite of massive initial confrontations at Saqifa. Omar successfully broke the alliance of the tribes of Medina who claim Khilaafah to be their right In addition he cleverly sidelined Ali, paving the way for the succession of Abu Bakr. During Abu Bakr's era, he actively participated as his secretory and main adviser. After succeeding Abu Bakr as Khalifa, Omar won over the hearts of Baudouin tribes by emancipating all their prisoners and slaves takenduring Ridda wars,
The Good Manager Omar proved himself as an excellent manager during the year of the great Famine when his dynamic abilities saved people from starvation. He is best known to build up an efficient administrative structure of the empire, that held together his vast realm. He organized an effective network of intelligence, partly a reason for his strong grip on his bureaucracy. His judicial reforms were fairly modern and advanced in nature when compared to contemporary systems of his era.
The Compactness of his Political Rule One of the reasons of the compactness of his political rule in the conquered lands: 1. Is attributed to his policy of tolerance to their religious beliefs 2. and imposition of lower taxes on them as compared to their previous taxes by Sassani Persian Empire and Byzantine Empire. 3. Their local administration was kept un-touched and several of the former Byzantine and Persian officials were retained on their services under Omar's governors. Omar was very painstaking in every matter. His meticulous attitude was evident in his appointment of governors and judges that never let him lose his grip on the government. He never appointed governors for more than two years, for they might get influence in their regional atmosphere.
Omar’s Demeanor Omar would walk the streets of Medina with a club دره in his hand, and it is said that Omar's club دره was more fearful than the sword of another man. Omar was known for covert night tour of Medina, to find out about the secret life of his domain, Omar used to closely monitor the public policy and the needs of the public were central in his rule. As second Khalifa of Islam, he refused to chop off the hands of the thieves, even though the Quran had specified it. This was because he felt he had fallen short of his responsibility in providing meaningful employment to his subjects
Omar and the Views about him Shi’a View of Omar Western Writers View of Omar Sunni View of Omar VIEWS
Omar: Sunni Point of View 1. Sunnis Remember Omar 2. Seeking no Advancement 3. Most Sunnis Consider him a Strong… 4. Some Sunni Take a more Nuanced View
1. Sunnis Remember Omar Sunnis remember Omar as a rigid Muslim of a sound and just disposition in matters of the religion of Allah, a man they title Farooq, meaning "leader, jurist and statesman", and the second of the rightly-guided Khalifas. He patched his clothes with skin, took sacks on his shoulders, always riding his donkey without the saddle, Rarely laughing, he was stern, serious, and never joking with anyone.
2. Seeking no Advancement On Omar’s ring is written the words "Enough is Death as a reminder to you O, Omar". He did not seek advancement for his own family, but rather sought to advance the interests of the whole Muslim community, the Ummah. The general Sunni sentiment for Omar is summarized by one of Muhammad's companions, ibn Mas'ood who said: Omar's submission to Islam was a conquest, his migration was a victory, his period of rule was a blessing, …
3. Most Sunnis Consider him a Strong… Most Sunnis consider Omar as: a strong, wise, humble man, and a competent ruler, the second rightly-guided Khalifa. They consider him a sincere Muslim and a brave one if not a fierce warrior. Omar did not seek advancement for his own family, but only to serve the Muslim community at large, the Ummah. Omar made the pilgrimage to Mecca nine times. Muhammad (pbuh) thought of him highly.
4. Some Sunni Take a more Nuanced View Some Sunni take a more nuanced view of Omar. They note that even amongst the early Muslims, he had a reputation for: Strict militancy and rigid conformity and was even accused by contemporaries of being harsh in religious matters. On several occasions he even opposed Muhammad when the Prophet wished to be merciful toward religious and political enemies Though Omar spent eighteen years in the company of Muhammad Mustafa, the Messenger of God, the latter never appointed him to any position of authority – civil or military.
Omar: Shi’a Point of View Viewed Negatively in Shi'a Literature Shi'a hold an opposing perspective Differing Mainly in Two Points The Umayya View Omar’s Fatwas that Contradict Shi'a, Fatima, and her Pleas
In Sermon 3, page 49 Ali: Sermon of Shiqshiqiyah, Part 2 The other put it (Khilaafah) in an abrasive enclosure, where utterance was hard and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and their excuses were abundant. He is therefore, like a rider of an unruly camel, if he pulls its rein its nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown off its back. As a result, (by Allah), people became involved in recklessness, waywardness, variations and objections. Nevertheless, I remained steadfast despite the lengthy period and the harshness of the trial, … فَصَيَّرَهَا في حَوْزَة خَشْنَاءَ، يَغْلُظُ كَلْمُهَا، وَيَخْشُنُ مَسُّهَا، وَيَكْثُرُ العِثَارُ [فِيهَا] وَالاْعْتَذَارُ مِنْهَا، فَصَاحِبُهَا كَرَاكِبِ الصَّعْبَةِ، إِنْ أَشْنَقَ لَهَا خَرَمَ، وَإِنْ أَسْلَسَ لَهَا تَقَحَّمَ، فَمُنِيَ النَّاسُ ـ لَعَمْرُ اللهِ ـ بِخَبْط وَشِمَاس، وَتَلَوُّن وَاعْتِرَاض. فَصَبَرْتُ عَلَى طُولِ الْمُدَّةِ، وَشِدَّةِ الِْمحْنَةِ،…..
Viewed Negatively in Shi'a Literature Omar is viewed negatively in Shi'a literature and: is regarded as an unfair man of political ambitions, a usurper of Ali's rights to Khilaafah as specified by Muhammad at Ghadeer Khum, and an abuser of Ali’s wife, Fatima. According to Shi'a Muslims, Fatima, wife of Ali and daughter of Muhammad, was ill-treated by him in the event that followed Abu Bakr’s Khilaafah. These sources report that the event caused her to miscarry her child and eventually led to her death soon after.
Shi'a Hold an Opposing Perspective While Sunnis regard Omar in high esteem and respect his place as one of the "Four Righteously Guided Khalifas," The Shi'a hold an opposing perspective of him. They do not view him as a legitimate leader of the Ummah and believe it to be factually provable that Omar and Abu Bakr conspired to usurp power from Ali. Shi'a believe that the Sunni view of Omar is an inaccurate one, the view was created by the Umayya dynasty to honor the man that gave power to the first Umayya ruler and third Sunni Khalifa, Uthman. In this way, it gives legitimacy to Benu Umayya, a corrupt one in both Shi'a and Sunni view.
Differing Mainly in Two Points The Shi'a view of Omar differs from the Sunni view in mainly two areas. First, regarding his everyday character. The Sunni's claim he was wise and just while the Shi'a describe him as an opportunist and usurper. Secondly, his attitudes and actions regarding the succession to Muhammad. The Sunnis argue that he acted in good faith to save the community, whilst the Shi'as claim he seized the power in bad faith.
The Umayya View Shi'a believe that the Umayya view was propagated with lethal force and heavy duress and as time went on, that view became predominant and eventually taken as truth, and it was cemented by the works of Bukhari. However, Shi'a believe that despite the perceived white washing of Omar, bits of his true qualities can be found in all sources, including Sunni ones. They also believe that the invented positive traits attributed to Omar do not hold on a closer scrutiny.
Omar’s Fatwas that Contradict Even though Omar did make numerous fatwas in direct violation to the Quran, admitted by the Sunnis in the case of Tayammum, and even though he believed he could shape the Sunnah in the case of triple talaq (divorce) and the Athan, also admitted by the Sunnis, Shi'a believe that there are cases where even the evidence clearly proves it, the Sunnis refuse to acknowledge that Omar made those changes, for example in the case of Nikah Mut’ah نكاح المتعة. Shi'a argue that there are only single narrations on the occasions where Muhammad supposedly forbade it, on seven contradictory times, and even though the vast majority of the Hadith related to the topic unanimously claim that Omar forbade Nikah Mut’ah, even himself saying so, still the Sunnis choose to hold the few claiming Muhammad as the one forbidding it as authentic.
Omar’s Fatwas that Contradict In Shi'a view, this shows how deep the impact of Omar’s legacy is, making Sunnis accept traditions that override the Quran (4:24) The Quran says: وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُمْ مَا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَنْ تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All- knowing, All-wise.
Explaining ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ Famastamta-tum bihi ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ provides for a temporary marriage, known as Mut’ah نكاح المتعة. It has been specifically made lawful by the Quran and the Holy Prophet, therefore, this provision subsists as un-rescinded. One day Omar from the pulpit announced: "Two Mut’as (one is the temporary marriage and the 2 nd is Mut’a of Haj) were in force during the time of the Holy Prophet, but now I decree both of them as unlawful; and I will punish those who practice them." (Tafsir Kabir, Durr al-Manthur, Kashshaf, Mustadrak and others). According to Tirmidhi even his son, Ibn Omar, refused to agree with his father's action because Mut’ah was made lawful by Allah and His Prophet, whose pronouncements could never be revoked by any one after him.
Shi'a, Fatima, and her Pleas Shi'a believe Omar to be the main force behind Abu Bakr's rise to power, since they quote him several times stopping Abu Bakr from giving in to Fatima's cries for justice. Omar is responsible for the election that followed after him an election where Ali is quoted to view it in effect as rigged to the extent that he could not win it, in practice giving away the Muslim nation to Islam's former arch-enemies, the Benu Umayya, starting with Uthman and continuing with Abu Sufyan's son: Mu'awiya, followed by Yazid, resulting in the slaughter of Benu Hashim in the battle of Karbala and ultimately the pillage and rape of Medina and the catapult assault on the Ka'ba.
Omar: Western Writers Point of View 1. Washington Irving 2. The Khilaafah: Its Rise, Decline, and Fall Sir William Muir 3. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon 4. History of the Arabs Professor Philip Khuri Hitti 5. Encyclopedia Britannica
Washington Irving: Mahomet and His Successors The whole history of Omar shows him to have been a man of great powers of mind, inflexible integrity, and rigid justice. He was, more than anyone else, the founder of the Islamic empire; confirming and carrying out the inspirations of the Prophet; aiding Abu Bakr with his counsels during his brief Khilaafah; and establishing wise regulations for the strict administration of the law throughout the rapidly-extending bounds of the Muslim conquests. The rigid hand which he kept upon his most popular generals in the midst of their armies, and in the most distant scenes of their triumphs, gives signal evidence of his extra-ordinary capacity to rule. In the simplicity of his habits, and his contempt for all pomp and luxury, he emulated the example of the Prophet and Abu Bakr.
Sir William Muir: The Khilaafah: Its Rise, Decline, and Fall Omar's life requires but few lines to sketch. Simplicity and duty were his guiding principles; impartiality and devotion the leading features of his administration. Responsibility so weighed upon him that he was heard to exclaim: 'O that my mother had not borne me; would that I had been this stalk of grass instead!' In early life, Omar was of a fiery and impatient temper, he was known, even in the later days of the Prophet, as the stern advocate of vengeance. Ever ready to unsheathe the sword, it was he who at Badr advised that the prisoners should be put to death. But age, as well as office, had mellowed this asperity.
Sir William Muir, Continued Omar’s sense of justice was strong. And except it be the treatment of Khalid, whom according to some accounts, he pursued with an ungenerous resentment, no act of tyranny or injustice is recorded against him; and even in this matter, his enmity took its rise in Khalid's unscrupulous treatment of fallen foe. The choice of his captains and governors was free from favoritism and …..
Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire "Yet the abstinence and humility of Omar were not inferior to the virtues of Abu Bakr: his food consisted of barley bread or dates; his drink was water; he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places; Economy is the source of liberality, and the increases of the revenue enabled Omar to establish a just and perpetual reward for the past and present services of the faithful.
Gibbon: Continued Careless of his own emolument, Omar assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, the first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand dirhams of pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of the aged warriors? The relics of the field of Badr and the last and the meanest of the companions of Muhammad was distinguished by the annual reward of three thousand pieces. Under his reign and that of his predecessor, the conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God and the people; the mass of public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war
Philip Khuri Hitti: History of the Arabs "Simple and frugal in manner, the energetic and talented Omar who was: of towering height, strong physique and bald headed, continued at least for some time after becoming the Khalifa to support himself by trade and lived throughout his life in a style as unostentatious as that of a Bedouin Sheikh. In fact, Omar, whose name according to Muslim tradition is the greatest in early Islam after that of Muhammad, has been idolized by Muslim writers for his piety, justice and patriarchal simplicity and treated as the personification of all the virtues a Khalifa ought to possess.
Philip Khuri Hitti: Continued Omar endeavored incessantly to impress the merit and policy of the same in his letters to his generals. Beware, he would say, of Persian luxury, both in food and raiment. Keep to the simple habits of your country, and Allah will continue you victorious; depart from them, and He will reverse your fortunes. It was his strong conviction of the truth of this policy which made him so severe in punishing all ostentatious style and luxurious indulgence in his officers. Some of his ordinances do credit to his heart as well as his head. He forbade that any female captive who had borne a child should be sold as a slave.
Philip Khuri Hitti: Continued In his weekly distributions of the surplus money of his treasury, he proportioned them to the wants, not the merits of the applicants. His irreproachable character became an exemplar for all conscientious successors to follow. He owned, we are told, one shirt and one mantle only, both conspicuous for their patchwork, slept on a bed of palm leaves, and had no concern other than the maintenance of the purity of the faith, the upholding of justice and the ascendancy and security of Islam and the Arabians. Arabic literature is replete with anecdotes extolling Omar's stern character. He is said to have scourged his own son to death for drunkenness..….
Encyclopedia Britannica "To Omar's ten years' Khilaafah belong, for the most part, the great conquests. He himself did not take the field, but remained in Medina; He never, however, suffered the reins to slip from his grasp, so powerful was the influence of his personality and the Muslim community of feeling. His political insight is shown by the fact that he endeavored to limit the indefinite extension of Muslim conquest, to maintain and strengthen the national Arabian character of the commonwealth of Islam; also by making it his foremost task to promote law and order in its internal affairs.
The Muslim Domain at Omar’s Time IraqSyria Anatolia Egypt TripoliPersia Caucuses
In Conclusion Legacy, Views of Sunni, Shi’a, and Western writers Discussed in this slide show are: Sunni Point of View Sunnis Remember Omar Most Sunnis Consider him a Strong… Some Sunni Take a more Nuanced View Shi’a Point of View Shi'a hold an opposing perspective of him Differing Mainly in Two Points The Umayya View Western writers
Finally we quote the Quran: By the Token of Time Verily Man is in loss, Except those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to Truth and exhort one another to patience. بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ وَالْعَصْرِ إِنَّ اِلانسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ إِلا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ
43 THANK YOU Be in Allah’s Care Dr. A.S. Hashim