History

Biography of GREAT WOMEN

KHADIJA ‘T AL-KUBRA

The Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) had been devoting most of his time in meditation in the seclusion of cave Hira. One day, when he was absorbed in it, he had his first revelation. Angel Gibrael revealed to him the first commandment of God, contained in Sura Iqra of the Holy Quran.

Muhammad (PBUH) was highly excited with his new experience and came home trembling with fear. He lay down on his bed with an attack of fever.

His wife, Khadija, was much concerned with his unusual condition. She attended to him and enquired the reason of his excitement, Muhammad (PBUH) narrated the whole story relating to the strange experience of his first revelation.

Elated, Khadija congratulated him on being elevated to the highest position of Prophethood saying, “Be consoled, God will never forsake you”. She was the first to embrace the new religion, Islam.

Khadija, daughter of Khuwailid of Quraish family of Abd-al-Uzza, had the distinction of being the first wife of Muhammad (PBUH).

She was a rich widow endowed with exceptionally good qualities of head and heart. In the pre-Islamic days, due to her virtuous life, she was known by the name of Tahira.

According to Tabaqaat ibn Saad, “she was the richest woman of Makkah.”

Muhammad (PBUH) who had been doing business independently, was known throughout the Hejaz for his honesty, integrity, and morality. In recognition of his good qualities, the people began to call him “Ameen” (Trustworthy).

Khadija, too, was attracted by the brilliant qualities of young Muhammad (PBUH) and took him in service. He was sent to Busra with her merchandise. On return, after three months, she proposed the marriage. Muhammad (PBUH) was 25 and Khadija was 40 years old at that time.

Arab women in those days exercised free volition in respect of matters pertaining to their marriage, therefore Khadija held a direct talk with Muhammad (PBUH) on the matter. On the appointed day, Muhammad’s (PBUH) relatives, who included his uncle Abu Talib and Hamza assembled at the house of Khadija. Abu Talib delivered the nuptial address.

The Prophet did not marry any other woman during her lifetime. She lived for 25 years after her marriage with Muhammad (PBUH) and died three years before the Hejirat.

Khadija bore him six children-two sons, Qasim and Abdullah, who died in infancy and four daughters, namely Fatima Zahra, Zainab, Ruqayya, and Umme Kulsoom. It was with reference to Qasim that the Prophet was sometimes addressed as Abul Qasim (Father of Qasim).

Khadija’s daughter Zainab was married to her cousin. Her daughters, Ruqayya and Umme Kulsoom were married to the Third Caliph Usman one after the death of the other. Khadija’s daughter Fatima Zahra who was the dearest daughter of the Prophet was married to Hazrat Ali. The lineage of the Prophet progressed through her sons Hasan and Husain.

The Prophet had all his issues by Khadija except Ibrahim who also died young.

The house in which Khadija lived was purchased by Ameer Muawiya and converted into a mosque which still bears the name of the great lady.

The Prophet cherished greatest regard and love for Khadija. Even after her death, he remembered her frequently with love and gratitude. “When all other persons opposed me”, he said, “she supported me, when all were infidels, she embraced Islam. When none was my helper, she helped me.”

Her great wealth and high status proved very useful for the propagation of Islam. The majority of Muslim religious leaders acclaim Khadija, Fatima, and Aisha as the three greatest women in Islam. They class Fatima as the first, Khadija as the second and Aisha as the third-highest and greatest woman in Islam.

According to Hafiz ibn Qayyim, a disciple of Imam ibn Taimiya, “if one considers the relationship with the Prophet, Fatima stands on the top, if one takes into account the priority in accepting Islam and the moral as well as the material support given to the new religion, Khadija to the first position, but in matters of learning and service rendered occupies the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings, none stands in comparison to Aisha.”

A number of traditions of the Prophet of Islam are in praise of Khadija.

According to Sahih Muslim, “there are two women occupying the highest position in the eyes of God: Mariam (Mary) and Khadija.”

AYESHA SIDDIQA

Small care-free girl, nine years old, was playing merrily with her mates. Her hair had gone disarray and her face was covered with dust. Suddenly a few elderly persons emerged on the scene from a neighboring house. They took the girl home with them, dressed her neatly and the same evening she was married to the greatest of men, the Prophet of Islam a unique honor that ever fell on a woman.

Hazrat Aisha was the beloved daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr, the faithful Companion of the Prophet who succeeded him as the first Caliph of Islam. She was born in Makkah in 614 A.C., eight years before the commencement of the Hejira era. Her parents had already embraced Islam. They brought up and trained her from her very childhood in conformity with the highest traditions of the new religion which fully prepared and entitled her to her later exalted position.

She remained with the Prophet for ten years. She was very young when betrothed to the Prophet, but she acquitted herself extremely well and proved herself an intelligent, faithful, and loving wife of the greatest benefactor of mankind. She is universally recognized as the most authentic reporter of the traditions of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam, as propounded by him. She was blessed with a proverbial memory and retained whatever questions were asked by the female callers to the Prophet and the replies given by him. She retained fully the lectures delivered by the Prophet to the delegations and congregations in the Mosque of the Prophet as Hazrat Aisha’s room adjoined the Mosque. She attentively listened to the addresses, lectures, and discussions of the Prophet with his Companions and other people. She also made queries to the Prophet on delicate and intricate matters relating to the tenets of the new religion. These immensely contributed to her becoming the greatest and most authentic scholar and reporter of the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the tenets of Islam.

Hazrat. Aisha was not destined to live with the Prophet for long. The union lasted ten years only when the Prophet died in 11 A.H., 632 A.C., and was buried in the room occupied by her.

The Prophet was succeeded by his faithful Companion, Hazrat Abu Bakr, as the First Caliph of Islam. Hazrat Aisha continued to enjoy the position of the first lady and after Hazrat Fatima’s death in 11 A.H., she was universally recognized as the most important woman in the Muslim world. But her father, Hazrat Abu Bakr, too, did not live long and died 24 years after the death of the Prophet.

During the reign of Hazrat Umar Farooq, the Second Caliph, Hazrat Aisha enjoyed the status of the first lady of the rapidly expanding dominions of Islam and her wise counsels were sought and respected on all important matters. The martyrdom of Hazrat Umar, the second Caliph, and later of Hazrat Usman, the third Caliph, shook the foundations of the new State and led to a tragic division among the Muslims. It proved extremely harmful for the fast-expanding and developing religion, which by this time had spread up to the confines of the Atlas Mountains in the West and the heights of Hindu Kush in the East.

Hazrat Aisha could not remain a silent spectator to the disintegrating factors. She sincerely sided with those who were clamoring for avenging the martyrdom of the Third Caliph. In the ‘Battle of Camel’ fought against the Fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali, her forces were defeated and she had to retreat to Medina under a guard provided by the Caliph’s sons themselves.

A number of interested historians, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, have criticized Hazrat Aisha’s role in fighting against the Fourth Caliph, but none have doubted her sincerity of purpose and her conviction in avenging the blood of Hazrat Usman.

Hazrat Aisha witnessed the vicissitudes through which the new religion passed during the thirty years of the Pious Caliphate. She died in 678 A.C., during the reign of Amir Muawiya. The Amir, under whom the Islamic Caliphate was giving place to a temporal power, was extremely afraid of Hazrat Aisha and her outspoken criticism of the politically changing state of Islam.

The First Lady of Islam was distinguished for her multifarious qualitiespiety, learning, wisdom, simplicity, generosity, and the care with which she safeguarded and faithfully reported the traditions of the Prophet.

Her simplicity and modesty continue to serve as a guiding light to all Muslim ladies thereafter. She lived in a room hardly 12 x 12 feet along with the Prophet of Islam. The room had a low roof covered with date leaves and branches plastered with mud. The only entrance to the room had no shutters and an ordinary curtain was hung over it. There were hardly three successive days during the lifetime of the Prophet when Hazrat Aisha had a full diet. The night when Prophet breathed his last, she had no oil to light her lamp, nor anything to eat.

During the Caliphate of Hazrat Umar when the important Companions of the Prophet and his wives were sanctioned substantial monthly honorarium, Hazrat Aisha seldom kept the money and gifts she received for the second day and promptly distributed these among the needy. Once, during the month of Ramzan, when Hazrat Abdullah ibn Zubair presented her a purse of one lakh dirhams she distributed these before breaking her fast.

Hazrat Aisha was a well-known orator of her time. Her services to popularise and promote the knowledge of traditions and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) have few parallels in the annals of Islamic history. Whenever a difficult problem of tradition or fiqh was encountered which defied solution, the matter was ultimately referred to her and her word was final. Apart from Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Abdulla ibn Abbas and Hazrat Abdulla ibn Umar, she is regarded as the greatest intellect of early Islam.

The great lady of Islam breathed her last on 17th Ramzan, 58 A.H. July 13,678 A.C. Her death cast a gloom over Madina and the entire Islamic world.

Hazrat Aisha has been bracketed with Hazrat Khadija and Hazrat Fatimaaz-Zahra as a most distinguished woman of Islam. Most of the religious scholars and theologians place Hazrat Fatima on the top, followed by Hazrat Khadija with Hazrat Aisha as last. Allama ibn Hazm ranks her only second to the Prophet of Islam-above all his wives, Companions and relations. According to Allama ibn Taimiya, Hazrat Fatima occupies the highest place, being the most beloved daughter of the Prophet. Hazrat Khadija is great because she was the first to embrace Islam. But there is none to rival Hazrat Aisha in her role in popularising the teachings of the Prophet.

FATIMA AZ-ZAHRA

Once while Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was in his mosque at Medina, surrounded by his Companions, suddenly his beloved daughter, Fatima, wedded to the famous warrior-scholar of Islam, Hazrat Ali, arrived there. She implored her father to lend her a servant who could assist her in household work, as she, with her frail constitution and poor health, could not perform the strenuous duties of grinding com and bringing water from the distant well, besides looking after her children. The father, ostensibly moved by her pleading hesitated for a moment, but repressing his emotion, he told her solemnly: “My dearest daughter! I cannot spare anyone from among those who are engaged in the service of Ashab-e-Suffa. You should be able to bear the hardships of this world in order to get the reward of the world hereafter”. The daughter went back, well satisfied with the reply of the Prophet, and never sought any servant again during her lifetime.

Fatima az-Zahra, the beautiful, was born 8 years before Hejira in Makkah. Her mother Hazrat Khadija, was the first and most respected wife of the Prophet. He did not marry any other woman during her lifetime. Fatima was the fourth and the youngest daughter of her mother. Others were Zainab, Ruqqaya and Umme Kulsoom. The last two were married to Hazrat Usman, who became the Third Caliph of Islam.

Fatima was brought up under the fostering care of her father, the greatest teacher, and benefactor of mankind. Unlike other children she possessed a sober and somewhat melancholy temperament. Her weak constitution and frail health kept her away from the children’s get-togethers and games. Her great father’s teachings, guidance and inspiration, developed her into an extremely cultured, amiable, sympathetic, and enlightened lady.

Fatima who greatly resembled her father in countenance and saintly habits was his most beloved daughter and had been immensely devoted to him after her mother’s death. In this way, she, to a great extent, made up the loss of her mother.

The Prophet, on several occasions, gave expression to his extreme fraternal love for Fatima. Once he said: “O Fatima! God will not like a person who displeases you and will be pleased with a person who wins your favor”.

On another occasion, the Prophet is reported to have said: “Fatima is my child. One who distresses her distresses me and one who comforts her comforts me.”

Hazrat Aisha, the beloved wife of the Prophet, once said: “I have never come across a greater personality than that of Fatima except that of her father, the Prophet of Islam.”

On an enquiry she once replied: “Fatima was the one whom the Prophet loved most. She was dearest to him.”

Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar both sought her in marriage but the Prophet kept quiet. Hazrat Ali, who was brought up by the Prophet himself and who combined in him the rare virtues of chivalry and bravery, piety and scholarship, hesitated to seek Fatima in marriage due to his poverty. But, at last, he took courage to put forward the proposal which was readily accepted by the Prophet. Ali sold his beautiful cuirass which he had won in the battle of Badr for 400 dirhams and made arrangements for the nuptial ceremony, which was extremely simple. Evidently the primary object underlying the celebration of the great event with simplicity was to impress upon the Muslims the need for celebrating marriages unostentatiously.

Fatima was hardly 18 years old at the time of her marriage with Ali. All that she got in her dowry from her illustrious father was a leather water carrier, an earthen pitcher, a mat and a corn grinding stone.

Addressing his daughter, the Prophet said, “My daughter, I have married you to a person who had stronger faith and is more learned than others and one who is distinguished for his morality and virtues.”

Fatima’s married life was smooth and simple. Indefatigable and persevering as he was, Ali laboured hard all day long to earn his livelihood, while his industrious, frugal and devoted wife laboured at home, performing her household duties which included grinding of com and carrying of water from the well. This ideal couple was known for their piety and generosity. They never turned away a beggar from their door without giving him whatever they had. At times, they gave away their entire food to a beggar and themselves remained hungry.

The humanitarian and benevolent nature possessed by the House of Prophet has few parallels in the annals of mankind. Fatima Zahra, the youngest daughter of the Prophet of Islam, was known for her benevolence.

Once a person belonging to the Bani Salim tribe, who was reputed to be a magician, came to the Prophet of Islam and exchanged hot words with him. The Prophet, on the other hand, returned the strangers abuse, with kind words. The magician was so much moved by this unusual behaviour that he embraced Islam. The Prophet asked him “if he had anything to eat.” On the stranger replying in the negative, the Prophet asked the Muslims present there “if there was anyone who could present him a camel.” Hazrat Sa’ad ibn Ibada offered him a camel. The Prophet was much pleased and asked “if anyone could offer his brother in Islam a cloth to cover his bare head”. Hazrat Ali, instantly, took off his turban and placed it on the stranger’s head. Thereafter, the Prophet directed Hazrat Salman to take him to some Muslim who could feed him as he was hungry.

Salman led the new convert to several houses but none could feed him at this unusual hour. Suddenly, Salman came upon the house of Hazrat Fatima and, knocking her door, informed her the purpose of his visit. With tears in her eyes, the daughter of the Prophet informed him that she had nothing to eat in her house for the last three days. Still, the daughter of the Prophet was reluctant to refuse a guest saying: “I cannot send back a hungry guest without satisfying his hunger”. Taking off her sheet of cloth, she gave it to Salman imploring him to take it to Shamoon, a Jew, and in its return bring some corn. Salman, as well as the new convert, were much moved by the angelic behavior of the daughter of the Prophet. The Jew, who was also highly impressed by the benevolence of the Prophet’s daughter, embraced Islam, saying that “Torat has informed us about the birth of this virtuous family”.

Salman brought corn to the Prophet’s daughter, who herself grinded and baked loaves of it. On a suggestion by Salman that she should keep some loaves for her hungry sons, the Prophet’s daughter replied that “she had no right over it as she had given her cloth for the sake of God.”

The Prophet’s beloved daughter was blessed with five children-three sons, Hasan, Husain, and Mohsin, and two daughters, Zainab and Umme Kulsoom. Hasan was born in the 3rd and Husain in the 4th year of Hejira. Mohsin died young. Both Hasan and Husain were the favorites of the Prophet who often carried them on his shoulders. They even sat on his back during his prostration in prayer. These two sons of Fatima and daughter Zainab later played a significant and memorable role in the history of Islam.

Fatima tended her father’s wounds in the battle of Ohad. She also accompanied him during his conquest of Makkah and also during his farewell pilgrimage towards the end of 11 A.H.

The Prophet fell seriously ill soon after his return from the farewell pilgrimage. Fatima stayed at his bedside. He whispered something in her ears which made her weep and later whispered something which made her smile. After his death in 11 A.H., she related the incident to Hazrat Aisha, saying that “when her father told her that he was going to die, it made her weep, but when he told her that she would be the first person to join him in the next world, it made her happy.”

Fatima could not survive the Prophet long; she passed away during the same year, six months after his death. She was 28 at the time of her death and was buried by Ali in Jannat-ul-Baqih (Madina) amidst universal mourning.

Fatima who represents the embodiment of all that is divine in womanhood, the noblest ideal of human conception was proclaimed by the Prophet to be the “Queen of Women in Paradise.”

RABIA BASRI

Rabia Basri is one of the earliest mystic saints of Islam. She renounced her worldly life and devoted herself entirely to praying God.

Both in a humble family of Basra in 713 A.C., she was the fourth daughter of her parents. A strange story is related about her birth. On the night of her birth, there was nothing in the house–not even oil to light the house, or a small rag to swaddle the newly born child. Her mother implored her father to borrow some oil from a neighbor. This was a moment of trial for the poor father, who had promised to God not to extend his hand for help before any mortal being. Reluctantly he went to a neighbor’s house, tapped his door, but there was no reply. He thanked God for being able to keep his promise. He came back and went to sleep. That night he had a dream in which the Prophet of Islam congratulated him on his newly born child who was destined to rise to a great spiritual position in Islam.

Rabia lost her parents at an early age. Her three sisters also died in a famine which ravaged Basra. She fell into the hands of a tyrant who sold her as a slave for a paltry sum. Her new master was no less a tyrant.

Little Rabia spent most of her time in carrying out the orders of her master. She spent the nights in praying. One night her master detected signs of her spiritual greatness. She was praying to God: “Almighty, You have made me the slave of a human being and I am duty-bound to serve him. Had I been free I would have devoted every moment of my life to praying to You”. Suddenly a halo of sacred light encircled her head and her master was awe-stricken to see this sight. The next morning he set her free.

Rabia, being free, retired to a secluded place, for a life of meditation. Later she moved to a cell near Basra. Here she led a strictly ascetic life. A woman out mat, an earthen pot and a brick formed her entire belongings.

She wholly devoted herself to prayers, had only a wink of sleep before the dawn and regretted even that much.

A number of good offers of marriage were made to her. These included those from the Governor of Basra and the celebrated mystic saint, Hasan Basri. But Rabia was so much devoted to God that she had little time for worldly affairs, hence she declined them.

Rabia had many eminent disciples including Malik bin Dinar, Raba-al-Kais, Shaikh al-Balkhi, and Hasan of Basra. They often called on her to seek her counsel or prayers or listen to her teachings.

Once Hazrat Sufian Soori, a respected and devout Muslim came to Rabia, raised his hands, and prayed: “Almighty, I seek worldly welfare from Thee”. Rabia wept over it. When asked for it, she replied: “The real welfare is acquired after renouncing the world and I find that you seek it in this world only”.

A person once sent forty dinars to her. She wept and raised her hand towards the sky: “You know it well that I never seek worldly welfare from you, although You are the Creator of the world. How can I then accept money from a person who is not the real owner of it?”

She enjoined her disciples not to disclose their good work to anyone and to conceal it just as they conceal their evil deeds.

Considering illness as her Lord’s will, Rabia always bore it with exemplary courage and fortitude. No pain however severe ever disturbed or distracted her in devotion to God. She often remained unaware of the injury, until pointed out by others. One day she struck her head against a tree and started bleeding. Someone drew her attention to it saying, “Don’t you feel pain”? “I am entirely devoted to God. I am fully in communion with Him: He has made me occupied with things other than you generally perceive,” she replied calmly.

Rabia was the foremost mystic to preach disinterested love for God–a concept which was later adopted by other mystics. She would often urge: “I do not serve God for any reward-have no fear of hell or love of paradise. I will be a bad servant if I serve for material benefit. I am duty-bound to serve him only for his love.”

Once someone asked her whether she hated Satan. She replied: “No, the love of God has left no room for the hatred of Satan.”

She was a mystic of a very high stature and belonged to the first group of Muslim mystics. She enriched Islamic literature by expressing her mystical experiences in high-class verses.

She died in Basrah in 801 A.C. and was buried in the house in which she lived. Her funeral was attended by a large number of saints, Sufis, and devout Muslims. There are many things and sayings attributed to:

When questioned by someone as to why she did not seek help from her friends, she replied, “I should be ashamed to ask for this world’s good from Him to Whom it belongs, then why should I seek anything from those to whom it does not belong.”

“Will God forget the poor because of their poverty or remember the rich because of their riches? Since He knows my state, there is hardly any need for me to pin-point His attention to it. What He Wills, we should also will”.

Miracles were attributed to her as to other Muslim saints. Food was supplied to her guests by miraculous means. It was said that when she was dying, she bade her friends to depart and leave the way free for the messengers of God. As they went out, they heard her making confession of faith to which a voice responded: “O Soul be at rest, return to thy Lord, satisfied with Him, giving satisfaction to Him”.

Among the prayers recorded of Rabia, is one which she offered at night upon her roof. “O, my Lord, the stars are shining and the eyes of men are closed and the kings have shut their doors and every lover is along with his beloved, and here am I alone with Thee“.Again she prayed: “O, my Lord, if I worship Thee from the fear of hell, burn me therein, and if worship Thee for hope of paradise, exclude me therefrom, but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, then withhold not from me Thy Eternal Beauty”.

UMAR(R.A), THE GREAT Biography

The envoy of the Roman Emperor set out for Medina attended by a large retinue and equipped with all the pomp and pageantry which the Roman Empire could boast of. On arrival in the metropolis of Islam, he inquired of a passer-by: “Tell me please, where is the palace of the Caliph”?

The Arab looked around. He was surprised 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. “O! you want to see Umar. Come on, I will take you to his presence,” replied the Arab.

The envoy was escorted to the Mosque of the Prophet, and to his utter astonishment, a person who was lying on the base floor of the mosque was introduced to him as Caliph Umar Farooq, 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 and the report of what he observed in Medina was enough to terrorize the Roman Emperor and impress him with the invincible might of Islam.

Hazrat Umar ibn Khattab was born in Makkah in 40 B.H. (Before Hijrah). His lineage joins that of the Prophet of Islam in the eighth generation. His forefathers had held ambassadorial posts, commerce was his ancestral occupation. He was one of the seventeen literate persons of Makkah when Prophethood was conferred on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He entered the pale of Islam at the age of 27. An interesting anecdote is told about his conversion to Islam. He was one of the most powerful enemies of the new faith. One day, he set out with the intention of killing the Prophet of Islam. On the way, he came across one Naeem ibn Abdullah, who asked him where he was bound for. Umar told him that he had resolved to do away with Muhammad (PBUH). Naeem tauntingly asked him to reform his own house first. Umar at once turned back and on arrival in his house, found his brother-in-law reciting the Holy Quran. He got awfully infuriated and mercilessly beat him, but he and his sister refused to renounce Islam. The firm stand of his sister, at last, calmed him and he asked her to recite the lines of the Quran again. She readily complied. Umar was so much charmed and enthused that he hurried to the Prophet’s place and embraced Islam. The small brotherhood was so much overwhelmed with joy that they raised the cry of Allah-o-Akbar’ (God is great) and the surrounding hills resounded with the echo.

The conversion of Umar greatly added to the strength of the Muslims. He later on became the principal adviser to Hazrat Abu Bakr during his two and a half years reign. On the death of Hazrat Abu Bakr, he was elected as the Second Caliph of Islam, a post which he held with unique distinction for ten and a half years. At last, he was assassinated in 644 A.C., while leading the prayers in the mosque of the Prophet, by one Feroz alias Abu Lulu, a disgruntled Parsi (Majusi).

The teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam had transformed the warring Arab tribesmen into a united people who brought about the greatest revolution in living history. In less than thirty years the nomadic Arabs had become masters of the greatest empire of their time. Their arms held sway over the three known continents of the world and the great empires of Caesars (Rome) and Chosroes (Persia) lay tottering before their invincible arms. The Prophet had left behind a band of selfless people who dedicated themselves with singleness of purpose to the service of the new religion. One of these persons was Hazrat Umar Farooq who was great both in war and peace. Few persons in the history of mankind have displayed better qualities of head and heart than Umar in guiding their armies on the war front, in the discharge of their duties to their people, and in adherence to justice. He gave detailed instructions to his armies fighting thousands of miles away and it was, to a great extent, due to his faultless judgment in the selection of the commanders and the tactics of war that Arab armies inflicted such crushing defeats on their two powerful enemies. His mastermind was visible not only in planning easy victories but also in the consolidation of conquered countries.

Islam has been charged with having been spread at the point of sword, but now it has been established through modern historical researches that Muslims waged defensive wars, during Caliphate Rashida. Sir William Muir, an English historian, records in his celebrated book, “Rise, Decline and Fall of the Caliphate,” that after the conquest of Mesopotamia, Zaid, a certain General, sought the permission of Hazrat Umar to pursue the fleeing Persian forces into Khorasan, but the Caliph forbade him saying, “I desire that between Mesopotamia and the countries beyond, the hills shall be a barrier so that the Persians shall not be able to get at us, nor we at them. The plain of Iraq sufficeth for our wants. I would rather prefer the safety of the people than thousands of spoils and further conquests.” Commenting on the above Muir observes: “The thought of a worldwide mission was yet in embryo; obligation to enforce Islam by universal crusade had not yet dawned upon Muslim mind.”

The Romans and Persians who always looked down upon the Arabs as an uncultured race viewed with alarm the rising power of Islam and were anxious to crush it. The Persians sent reinforcement to the rebels of Bahrain against Islam. They instigated Sajah, who pretended to be a Prophetess in Iraq, to march upon Medina. Rustam, the famous Persian General, had sworn that he would destroy the entire Arab race. Such designs and machinations of the Persians warned the Muslims of the dangers ahead, and being a spirited people, they accepted the challenge. Hence the war was actually forced upon the unwilling Muslims and they could not ignore this threat to their very existence.

The first defeat of the Persians came as a great surprise to them as they expected little resistance from the Arabs. They had already felt alarmed at their unexpected defeats during the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr. Every disaster in the battle-field only added to the flame of Persian fury. Theirs, was a vast empire, So were their resources. They recklessly deployed their forces and material in order to stem the advance of the Arabs and crush their striking power for ever. A handful of ill-equipped Arabs were arrayed against the formidable forces of Romans and Persians. One can hardly find in recorded history an instance, where, in spite of such disparities between the opposing forces, the weaker triumphed over their too powerful opponents.

The tempo of war increased when Hazrat Umar was elected as Caliph. Muslims were fighting on two fronts. In Syria, they were engaged with the powerful forces of the mighty Roman Empire and in Iraq they were arrayed against the formidable forces of Chosroes (Persians). Buran Dukht, who ascended the Persian throne, had appointed Rustam as the Commander-inChief of the army. All these arrangements could not check the Muslim advance and the Persians under the command of Narsi were routed at Kasker. Rustam appointed Bahman, a swom enemy of Arabs, as the Commander of Persian forces in Iraq. A bloody battle was fought at Berait in 635 A.C. in which the Persians beat a hasty retreat leaving behind a large number of dead bodies. Muthanna, the Muslim General, declared that he had taken part in several engagements against the Persians in pre-Islamic days. Previously, 100 Persians could overpower 1,000 Arabs, but the tables had turned now.

The battle of Qadisiyah fought in 635 A.C. under the command of Hazrat Saad bin Abi Waqas, was a decisive one, inasmuch as it sealed the fate of the Persian Empire in Iraq. Rustam, the greatest war hero of Persia, had mustered a strong force against the Muslims. The Muslim commander who was ill had appointed Khalid bin Aratafa in his place and guided his movements through written instructions. A poet named Abu Mahjan Saqfi, who was in chains for his drunkenness implored the Commander’s wife, Salma, to release him for a short while in order to take part in the battle. He promised to return when the battle was over. His request was granted forthwith and Abu Mahjan taking a sword in his hand went like a bolt in the thick of the battle and fought with exceptional bravery. He put himself in chains again when the battle was over, but Hazrat Saad released him on knowing his exploits. Ka’k’a had divided a portion of Muslim army into several groups which were held in reserve. These fell upon the enemy one after another. These tactics of Ka’k’a disheartened the Persians who were forced to retreat. Rustam, who tried to escape was killed. Hazrat Umar was very anxious about the result of this battle. He was a master-mind who used to issue detailed instructions for military operations in Iraq and for hours he waited daily outside Medina in the hope of good news. He actually ran behind the messenger up to Medina, who had brought the happy tidings, asking him the outcome of the battle. On reaching Medina, the people asked him: “Amirul Momineen: (Commander of the Faithful) what is the news”? The messenger was awe-stricken to know that the man who had been running behind him enquiring the deals of the battle was no other than Hazrat Umar himself. He implored the Caliph to be pardoned for his impertinence in not posting him with all the details before, but Hazrat Umar replied that he did not want to delay the happy news reaching the inhabitants of Medina. Thereupon, the great Caliph made a memorable speech before the Midianites:

“Brothers of Islam! I am not your ruler who wants to enslave you. I am a servant of God and His people. I have been entrusted with the heavy responsibility of running the Caliphate administration. It is my duty to make you comfortable in every way and it will be an evil day for me if I wish you to wait on me every now and then. I want to educate you not through my precepts but by my practice.”

The Persians made their last stand in Iraq in front of Madain, the Capital. They destroyed the bridge built on the Tigris. Such obstacles could not check Hazrat Saad, the Commander of the Muslim forces who plunged his horse into the river. The rest of the army followed suit and they crossed the river in a moment without disrupting their formations. The Persians were terrified at this unusual sight and cried out: “Demons have come”, Saying this they took to flight in utter confusion. A vast treasure fell into the hands of the Muslim conquerors which included the invaluable Persian carpet. This treasure was brought to Medina and heaped in the courtyard of the Mosque of the Prophet. The great Caliph burst into tears on its sight. The audience asked him the reason for his unusual expression of grief. The Caliph replied promptly, “This wealth was the cause of the downfall of Persians and now it has come to us to bring Our downfall.” He ordered that the wealth be distributed among people instantaneously. Even that priceless carpet was not spared and under the advice of Hazrat Ali, it was tom to pieces and was distributed among the populace. Hazrat Umar commended the high character of his soldiers who did not touch a single thing out of this colossal booty.

Syria was another theatre of war, where the Muslims were arrayed against the formidable Roman forces. Hazrat Abu Bakr, during his lifetime summoned Hazrat Khalid bin Walid, the Sword of God, to assist the Muslims in Syria. The Syrian cities, one after another, capitulated to the Muslims. Hems, Hama (Epiphania) Kinnisrin (Chalcis), Aleppo and other important towns surrendered and opened their gates to the forces of Islam. The city of Damascus which was held by a large garrison offered considerable resistance. One night Hazrat Khalid bin Walid who was stationed on the other side of the city scaled its walls and opened the gate. The Muslim army entered the city from the one side. Immediately the Romans offered themselves for peace to the Commander-inChief Hazrat Abu Ubaidah who was stationed on the other side of the city. Hazrat Khalid and Hazrat Abu Ubaidah who came from opposite directions met in the center of the city. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah asked the Muslims not to plunder anyone as he had accepted the peace terms.

Antioch, the capital of the Roman East, also capitulated to the Muslims after stubborn resistance. The Roman Governor named Artabin had mustered a strong force for the defense of his province. Placing small bodies of troops at Jerusalem, Gaza, and Ramleh, he had assembled a large army at Ajnadain. The Muslims who were deeply concerned at these movements of the Roman forces withdrew their garrisons from various sectors and advanced to face Arabin. While withdrawing from Hems, Hazrat Abu Ubaidah, Commander-in-chief of the Muslim forces, asked his treasury officer to return the ‘Razia’ (Protection Tax) to the inhabitants, as they could not undertake the responsibility of the protection of their non-Muslim subjects there. The order was instantaneously carried out and the whole amount was repaid to the local inhabitants. The Christian populace was so much touched by this unusual generosity of the conquerors that they wept bitterly and cried out: “May God bring you here again,” The Jews swore on Torat that they would resist the Romans to the last man if they ever ventured to capture the city.

A bloody battle ensued in the plain of Yarmuk in 634 A.C. between the forces of Islam and the Romans. The Romans had mustered a strong army of 3 lakh soldiers, while the Muslim army comprised of 46 thousand unskilled and ill-equipped soldiers only. The Muslims fought like heroes and routed the Romans after a fierce conflict. More than a hundred thousand Romans perished on the battle-field while Muslim casualties hardly exceeded three thousand. When apprised of this crushing defeat, Caesar cried out sorrowfully, “Good-bye Syria”, and he retired to Constantinople.

The few Roman soldiers who escaped from Yarmuk found a refuge within the walls of the fortified city of Jerusalem. This city which was garrisoned by a heavy force resisted for a considerable time. At last, the Patriarch sued for peace but refused to surrender to anyone except the Caliph himself. Hazrat Umar acceded to his request and traveling with a single attendant without escort and pomp and pageantry he arrived at Jabra. When he arrived in the presence of the Patriarch and his men, he was leading the camel while the attendant was riding on it. The Christian priests and their associates were profoundly struck with this strange respect for the equality of man exhibited by the Caliph of Islam. The patriarch presented the keys of the sacred city to the Caliph and he entered the city along with patriarch. Hazrat Umar refused to offer his prayers in the Church of Resurrection saying, “If I do so, the Muslims in future might infringe the treaty, under pretext of following my example.” Just terms were offered to the Christians whilst the Samaritan Jews, who had assisted the Muslims, were granted their properties without payment of any tax.

The subjugation of Syria was now complete. “Syria bowed under the scepter of the Caliphs”, says a well-known historian,

“seven hundred years after Pompey had deposed the last of the Macedonian kings. After their last defeat, the Romans recognized themselves hopelessly beaten, though they still continued to raid into the Muslim territories. In order to erect an impassable barrier between themselves and the Muslims, they converted into a veritable desert a vast tract on the frontiers of their remaining Asiatic possessions. All cities in this doomed tract were razed to the ground, fortresses were dismantled, and the population carried away further north. Thus what has been deemed to be the work of Arab Muslim hordes was really the outcome of Byzantine barbarism”.

This shortsighted scorched earth policy was of no avail and could not stem the tide of Muslim advance. Ayaz, the Muslim Commander passing through Tauras, reduced the province of Cilicia, captured its Capital Tarsus, and reached as far as the shores of the Black Sea. His name was a terror for Romans in Asia Minor.

After clearing Syria of the Roman forces, the Muslim army marched on Persia and conquered Azerbaijan in 643, Boston in 643, Armenia in 644, Sistan in 644, and Mekran in 644 A.C. According to the celebrated historian Baladhuri, the Islamic forces had reached as far the plain of Debal in Sind. But Tabari says that the Caliph prevented his army making any further advances east of Mekran. The defeated Roman forces had taken refuge in Alexandria and threatened the Muslim-conquered Syria. Hence Amr bin al-Aas implored the Caliph to allow him to advance on Egypt. The request was granted and Muslim forces under Amr bin al-Aas captured Alexandria in 641-642. The Egyptian Christians called Copts were treated with great kindness by the Muslim conquerors and were granted landed properties. A mischievous story had been circulated by the interested parties that the famous Library in Alexandria was destroyed by the Muslim invaders, but it has now been established through impartial historical researches by Western Scholars that the said library was partly destroyed by Julius Caesar and the remaining by the Roman Emperor Theodosius, a devout Christian who hated works written by the pagans.

A strong fleet was also built by the Arabs in order to meet the challenge of Romans as masters of the seas. Thus the naval supremacy of Arabs was also established and the Roman fleet fled before them to the Hellespont. A number of islands of Greek Archipelago were captured by the Muslims.

A study of the military operations would reveal the factors which were responsible for the sweeping victories of Muslims in such a short period. During the reign of the Second Caliph, Muslims ruled over a vast area of land, which included Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Persia, Khuzistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kirman, Khorasan, Mekran and a part of Baluchistan. A handful of ill-equipped and unskilled Arabs had overthrown two of the mightiest empires of the world. The teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam had infused a new spirit in the adherents of the new faith, who fought simply for the sake of God. The wise policy followed by the Second Caliph of Islam in the selection of his generals and his liberal terms offered to the conquered races were instrumental in the lightning victories won by the Muslims. Hazrat Umar was a great military strategist, who issued detailed instructions regarding the conduct of operations. A perusal of the history of Tabari would reveal that Farooq, the Great, sitting thousands of miles away, guided his armies on the battlefronts and controlled their movements. The great Caliph laid much stress on the moral side of the conquests by offering liberal terms to the conquered races and by granting them all sorts of privileges which are denied to the conquered races even in this advanced modern age. This greatly helped in winning the hearts of the people, which ultimately paved the way for the consolidation of the conquered countries and their efficient administration. He had strictly forbidden his soldiers to kill the weak and desecrate the shrines and places of worship. A treaty once concluded would be observed in letter and spirit. Contrary to the repression and ferocity of great conquerors like Alexander, Caesar, Atilla, Changiz Khan, and Hulaku, Hazrat Umar’s conquests were both physical as well as spiritual. When Alexander conquered Sur, a city of Syria he ordered a general massacre and hanged one thousand respectable citizens on the city walls. Similarly, when he conquered Astakher, a city of Persia, he beheaded its entire male population. Tyrants like Changiz, Atilla, and Hulaku were even more ferocious. Hence, their vast empire crumbled to pieces after their death. But the conquests of the Second Caliph of Islam were of a different nature. His wise policy and efficient administration added to the consolidation of his empire in such a way that even today after a lapse of more than 1400 years, the countries conquered by him are still in Muslim hands. Thus Hazrat Umar Farooq is in a sense the greatest conqueror the world has produced.

The honesty, truthfulness, and integrity of Muslims in general and their Caliph, in particular, strengthened the faith of the non-Muslims in the promises given by Muslims. Hurmuzan, a Persian chief, who was a sworn enemy of Muslims, was captured on the battle-field and was brought in the presence of the Caliph at Medina. He knew that he was sure to be beheaded for his massacre of Muslims. He thought out a plan and asked for a glass of water. The water was brought, but he was reluctant to drink it, saying that he might be killed while drinking it. The unsuspecting Caliph assured him that he would not be killed unless he drank it. The wily Hurmuzan at once threw away the water saying that since he got the assurance of the Caliph, he would not drink water anymore. The Caliph kept his word and did not kill him. Hurmuzan, much struck with the honesty of the Caliph, accepted Islam.

Similarly, once the Muslim forces laid siege of Chandi Sabur. One day, the citizens opened the gate and busied themselves in their work. On inquiry, it transpired that a Muslim slave had granted them pardon. The matter was referred to the Caliph who upheld the terms granted by the slave, saying. “The word of an ordinary Muslim is as weighty as that of his commander or the Caliph.”

The true democracy as preached and practiced during the Caliphate Rashida has hardly any parallel in the history of mankind. Islam being a democratic religion, the Quran had explicitly laid it down as one of the fundamentals of Muslim polity that the affairs of the state should be conducted by consultation and counsel. The Prophet himself did not take momentous decisions without consultation. The plant of democracy in Islam planted by the Prophet and nourished by Hazrat Abu Bakr attained its full stature in the Caliphate of Umar. Two consultative bodies functioned during his reign, one was a general assembly which was convened when the state was confronted with critical matters and the other was a special body comprised of persons of unquestionable integrity who were consulted on routine and urgent matters. Even matters relating to the appointments and dismissals of public servants were brought before this working or special committee and its decision was scrupulously adhered to. Non-Muslims were also invited to participate in such consultations. The native Parsi chiefs were frequently consulted regarding the administration of Iraq (Mesopotamia). Similarly, local leaders were consulted in Egyptian matters and a Copt had been invited to Medina as the representative of Egypt. Even the provincial governors were appointed on the advice of the people and the local inhabitants. At times, the various posts in the provinces were filled by-election. When the appointment of the Tax Officers was to be made for Kufa, Basra, and Syria, Hazrat Umar permitted the inhabitants of those provinces to select suitable and honest officers of their own choice. The selection of the people was later on endorsed by the Caliph. He used to say that the people must have an effective hand in the administration of the Caliphate. Even a poor old woman could publicly question the great Caliph for his various activities and he had to explain his conduct at the spot.

The Caliph had tried to inculcate true democratic spirit in the people as well as in his administrators. The public servants had been frankly told that they were paid for the service to the people and would be severely dealt with for any genuine public complaint. The Caliph himself practiced what he preached. He was rather the very incarnation of true public service. Never in the history of mankind, one comes across such instances of public service as one finds in the history of early Caliphate of Islam. Hazrat Umar lived like an ordinary man and every man was free to question his actions. Once he said, “I have no more authority over the Baitul Mal (Public Treasury) than a custodian has over the property of an orphan. If I would be well-to-do, I would not accept any honorarium; if not, I would draw a little to meet the ordinary necessities of life. Brothers! I am your servant and you should control and question my actions. One of these is that the public money should neither be unnecessarily hoarded nor wasted. I must work for the welfare and prosperity of our people.” Once a person shouted in a public meeting, “O, Umar! fear God.” The audience wanted to silence him but the Caliph prevented them from doing so saying: “If such frankness is not exhibited by the people, they are good for nothing and, if we do not listen to them, we would be like them.” Such encouragement to the expression of public views as given by the Caliph himself ensured the efficiency and honesty of public service and state administration. The people realized the real worth of public opinion.

The great Caliph had established separate departments for different subjects which were headed by efficient and honest officers. He had separated the judiciary from the executive, a remarkable achievement which has not yet been achieved even in the most modern states of the present day. The judiciary was free from the control of the Governors and the Qazis imparted justice free from fear or favor.

The success and efficiency of his administration mainly depended on his strict vigilance over the staff. When a governor was appointed, his letter of appointment which detailed his duties and privileges was publicly read, so that people could know the terms of appointment and could hold him responsible for abusing his power.

Addressing a group of governors once he said, “Remember, I have not appointed you to rule over your people, but to serve them. You should set an example with your good conduct so that people may follow you.”

He took particular care to emphasize that there should not be much distinction between the ruler and the ruled, and the people should have an easy and free access to the highest authority of the state. Every Governor had to sign a bond on his appointment that “he would put on coarse cloth and would eat coarse bread and that the complainant would have an easy access to his presence at any time.” According to the author of the ‘Futuh ul-Buldan’, a list of the movable and immovable properties of the selected high officials was prepared at the time of his appointment which was examined from time to time and he had to account for any unusual increase in his property. All the high officials had to report to the Caliph every year at the time of Hajj and according to the writer of Kitab-ul-Kharaj every person was authorized to make complaints against the highest authorities which were immediately attended to. Even the highest officials of the state were not spared if their faults were proved. Once a person complained that a certain Governor had flogged him for no fault of his. The matter was inquired into and the Governor was also publicly awarded the same number of stripes.

Hazrat Muhammad bin Muslimah Ansari, a person of unquestionable integrity was appointed as the roving investigator, who visited different countries and enquired into public complaints. Once a complaint was lodged with the Caliph that Hazrat Saad bin Abi Wagas, Governor of Kufa, had constructed a palace there. He at once despatched Muhammad Ansari who pulled down a portion of the palace which hindered the easy entry of the public. On another complaint, Saad was deposed from his post. A report was received by the Caliph that Ayaz bin Ghanam, the Amil (Governor) of Egypt had kept a gate-keeper for his house, Muhammad Ansari who was immediately sent to Egypt found the report to be correct and brought the Governor to Medina. The Caliph humiliated him publicly. At times a commission was appointed by the Caliph to enquire into various charges. Such strict measures adopted by Hazrat Umar ensured an efficient and ideal administration in his vast State. Even the officials working thousands of miles away from Medina could not dare to do anything against the interests of the people and the state. None could ever contemplate incurring the displeasure of the iron Caliph. The fundamental difference between the administrations of the tyrants and his was that while the tyrants used rod for their own good, Umar used it for the good of the people.

Writing in the Encyclopaedia of Islam an European historian says: “But the part of Umar was nevertheless a great one. The regulation of his non-Muslim subjects, the institution of a register of those having a right to military pensions (the diwan), the founding of military centres (amsar) out of which were to grow the future of the great cities of Islam, the creation of the office of Kadi (Qazi), where all his work, and it is also to him that a series of ordinances go back, religious tarawih prayer of the month of Ramazan, the obligatory pilgrimage as well as civil and penal punishment of drunkenness and stoning as punishment of adultery.”

The Caliph paid great attention to improving the state finances which was placed on a sound footing. He had established the “Diwan” or the finance department to which was entrusted the administration of revenues. The revenue of the commonwealth was derived from three sources:

  • Zakat or the tax levied on a gradual scale on all Muslims possessing means,
  • Khiraj or the land tax levied on zimmis, and
  • Jazia or capitation tax. The last two tax for which the Muslims have been much condemned by the Western historians were realized in the Roman and Sasanid (Persian) empires. The Muslims only followed the old precedents in this respect. The taxes realized from the non-Muslims were far less burdensome than those realized from the Muslims.

Islam which preached an egalitarian type of state laid greater emphasis on the equitable and fair distribution of wealth. Hoarding of wealth was against the teachings of Islam. The Second Caliph scrupulously followed this golden principle of Islam. He organized a Baitul Mal (Public Treasury) whose main function was distribution rather than accumulation of wealth.

The Caliph himself took very little from the Baitul Mal. His ancestral occupation was business. Naturally, he had to be paid some honorarium for his exalted office. The matter was referred to the special committee in which the opinion of Hazrat Ali was accepted that the Caliph should get as much honorarium from the Baitul Mal as would suffice for the necessities of an ordinary citizen.

The Caliph fixed the rates of land revenue according to the type of the land. While he charged four dirhams on one jarib of wheat, h charged two dirhams for the similar plot of barley. Nothing was charged for the pastures and uncultivated land. In this way, he systematized the fixation of revenues, which, before his time was charged haphazardly. Different rules were framed for the revenues of Egypt, whose agricultural output depended on the flood of the Nile. According to reliable historical sources, the annual revenue of Iraq amounted to 860 million dirhams, an amount which never exceeded after the death of the great Caliph though he was very lenient in its realization. The main reason behind this easy realization of the state money was that the people had become very prosperous.

He introduced far-reaching reforms in the domain of agriculture, which we do not find even in the most civilized countries of the modern times. One of these was the abolition of Zamindari (Landlordism) and with this disappeared all the evils wrought on the poor tenants by the vested landed interests. When the Romans conquered Syria and Egypt, they confiscated the lands of the tillers of the soil and allotted these to the army, nobles, churches, and the members of the royal family. Hazrat Umar, on the conquest of these countries, returned these properties to the local inhabitants who were the rightful owners of the land. The just and benevolent Caliph was exceptionally generous to the local tillers of the soil and even issued strict orders that no other persons including the Muslim soldiers who were spread all over these countries, should be granted any piece of land for cultivation purposes. Such steps taken by the Caliph not only restored confidence among the local populace but also gave a great impetus to agriculture in these countries and contributed to the enormous increase in agricultural output. The tenancy became prosperous and their standard of living was much raised. It led to the easy realization of land revenue by the custodians of the state. According to a French historian, “The liberal policy followed by the Arabs in the fixation of revenues and their land reforms have greatly contributed to their military conquests.” It was due to this liberal policy of the Second Caliph that the Christian Copts who were farmers always sided with the Muslim Arabs in preference to Roman Christians. The Caliph was not content with these reforms. He worked out beneficial schemes for the advancement of agriculture and constructed irrigation canals, wells and tanks in his vast dominions. He established a public welfare department which looked after such construction works and furthered these beneficial schemes. The celebrated historian Allama Maqrizi says that more than one lac and twenty thousand. laborers were continually employed in such works throughout the year in Egypt alone. A number of canals were constructed in Khuzistan and Ahwaz during this period. A canal called “Nahr Amirul Momineen” which connected the Nile with the Red Sea was constructed in order to ensure quick transport of grain from Egypt to the holy land.

Caliph Umar is particularly known for his administration of impartial justice. Justice during his reign was administered by Qazi (civil judges) who were appointed by the Caliph and who were free from the control of the governors. He was the first man who separated judiciary from the executive, thus ensuring free and even-handed justice. “The judge was named and is still named,” says Von Hammer, “the Hakim ush-sharaa, i.e., ruler through the law, for law, rules through the utterance of justice and the power of governor carries out the utterance of it. Thus the Islamite administration even in its infancy proclaims in word and in deed the necessary separation between judicial and executive power.” Such separation of executive from judiciary has not been attained by some of the most civilized states in the modern times. The administration of justice during his time was perfectly impartial and he himself set an example by scrupulously carrying out the orders of the Qazi.

The letter written by the Caliph to Abu Musa Asha’ari detailing the fundamental principles of justice is an invaluable piece of jurisprudence which can be favorably compared with the Roman law. The Caliph took particular care to enforce the equality of justice. In the eyes of law, all are equals. He personally visited several courts in order to have practical experience of it.

Once he had to attend the court of Qazi Zaid bin Sabit as a defendant. The Qazi showed some preferential respect to him, which, the Caliph resented and warned him, “Unless you consider an ordinary man and Umar as equals, you are not fit for the post of Qazi.”

Jablah bin Al-Aiham Ghassani was the ruler of a small state in Syria. He was converted to Islam, and one day while he was offering Hajj, a part of his gown was unintentionally trampled upon by a poor Arab. Jablah gave him a slap. He too paid him in the same coin. The infuriated Jablah hastened to the Caliph and urged him to severely deal with the Arab. Thereupon the Caliph said that he had already received the justice. Jablah retorted saying: “Had he done such an insult to me in my own land, he would have been hanged.” The Caliph replied calmly: “Such was the practice here in pre-Islamic days, but now the pauper and the prince are equal before Islam.”

Hazrat Umar was so strict in the enforcement of impartial justice that he did not spare even his near and dear ones if they were at fault. Once, his own son Abu Shahma was reported to have drunk wine. The Caliph flogged his son with his own hands till he died, and the remaining stripes were delivered on his grave. The history of the world cannot produce a single instance in which a state or public leader showed greater respect for justice and the rule of law.

Hazrat Umar took keen interest in the army administration. He founded many army centres including Medina, Kufa, Basra, Mosul Fustat (Egypt), Damascus, Hems, and Palestine where barracks for the soldiers were constructed. He paid attention to the minutest details which were required for making an efficient army. He divided the army into regulars and volunteers or the reserve. There were big military cantonments in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The wise Caliph organized different departments of the army in such an efficient manner that one is astounded to notice the advancement he made in this sphere. Separate departments of supply and sappers and miners were attached to the army establishments. The Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim army used to lead the daily prayers. “The great superiority of Saracenic armies”, says Ameer Ali, “consisted in the extreme mobility, their perseverance and their power of endurance-qualities which, joined to enthusiasm, made them invincible.”

The greatness of Caliph Umar is visible in his sympathetic treatment of his non-Muslim subjects. Before the advent of Islam, the rights of other races in the Roman and Persian empires were worse than those of slaves. Even the Syrian Christians had no right over their lands, so much so that with the transfer of their lands they were also transferred. When Hazrat Umar conquered these countries, he returned the lands to their tillers who were mostly non-Muslims. He granted peace to the Christians of Elia who had surrendered.

The peace terms run as follows: “This is the peace, granted by Umar, the slave of God, to the inhabitants of Elia. Non-Muslims will be allowed to stay in their churches which will not be demolished. They will have full freedom of religion and will not be harmed in any way.”

According to Imam Shafii, once a Muslim murdered a Christian. The matter was brought to the notice of the Caliph, who allowed the heirs of the Christian to avenge the murder and the Muslim was beheaded. He consulted non-Muslims in State matters. Their voice carried much weight in the handling of affairs of special interest to them. The author of the Kitab al Kharaj writes that the last will of Hazrat Umar enjoined upon the Muslims to respect the assurances given to non-Muslims and protect their lives and properties even at the risk of their own. The Caliph had been too indulgent to nonMuslims and even pardoned their treasons which no present-day civilized government could tolerate. The non-Muslims were so much moved by these unusual sympathies of the Muslim conquerors that they sided with them in preference to their co-religionists. The Christians and Jews of Hems prayed for the return of Muslims. The Caliph, no doubt, imposed Jazia, a protection tax on the nonMuslims but such tax was not realised from those non-Muslims who joined the Muslim army. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah, the Commander-in-Chief of Muslim forces in Syria, returned the Jazia realized from the inhabitants of Hems when he had to withdraw his garrison from Hems due to emergency and therefore, he could not undertake the responsibility of their protection. The people of Jarjoma refused to pay the Jazia on the ground of their having enlisted in the Muslim army. The Christian patriarch of Jerusalem was wonderstruck with the sense of justice displayed by the great Caliph when he refused to offer prayer in the Church of the Resurrection on the plea that his example would be followed by other Muslims thus amounting to the breach of the treaty.

Such benevolent and generous treatment of non-Muslims at the hands of the Caliph endeared him to all of his subjects, thus laying the foundation of a stable government and an efficient administration.

Hazrat Umar possessed an exemplary character and practiced himself what he preached. He was intrinsically conscientious; his motto had always been the service of his people. He never favored his own pious and learned son Abdullah bin Umar. In the fixation of monthly honorarium, he gave preference to those who were close Companions of the Prophet, otherwise, he observed equality even between the Quraish and the slaves. When he fixed the salary of Usama bin Zaid higher than that of his son Abdullah, the latter complained, “Usama had never surpassed me in the service of Islam.” The pious Caliph at once replied, “But he was closer and dearer to the Prophet.”

Unstinted service to humanity was his foremost concern. He roamed about during the night often incognito in order to acquaint himself with the condition of his people. One night as he was roaming outside Medina, he observed in a house a woman cooking something and two girls sitting beside her crying for food. After waiting for some time, he asked the woman what was the matter. She told him that the children were hungry, that there was nothing in the kettle except water and a few pieces of stones, and that she was lulling them to believe that food was being cooked for them. The Caliph without disclosing his identity hurried to Medina, three miles-away, brought a bag of flour on his back, cooked the food himself, and was not contented until the appetite of the children was fully satisfied. The next day he called again to apologize to the old woman for his negligence and fixed dole-money for her.

The great Caliph led a very simple life. His standard of living was in no case higher than that of an ordinary man. Once the Governor of Kufa visited him while he was taking his meals comprising of barley bread and olive oil. The Governor said, “Amirul Momineen (Commander of the Faithful) enough wheat is produced in your dominions, why do you not take wheat bread”. Feeling somewhat offended the Caliph asked him in a melancholy tone, “Do you think that wheat is available to each and every person inhabiting my vast dominions?”

“No”, replied the Governor.

“Then how can I take wheat bread unless it is available to all of my people”? added the Caliph.

Honesty and integrity were the highest virtues in the character of the Second Caliph. Once, during his illness, his physician prescribed honey for him. Tons of honey was kept in the Baitul Mal, but he did not take a drop of it unless he was permitted by the people’s committee. His wife, Umme Kulsum, once presented a few bottles of perfumes to the Empress of Rome. The Empress returned the bottles filled with precious stones. When Hazrat Umar learned of it, he deposited the jewels in the Baitul Mal.

The Caliph had great respect for the social equality of man. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was profoundly struck by the respect for social equality shown by the esteemed Caliph when he observed the slave was riding on the camel and the Caliph was leading the camel by the string.

According to a report of Abdur Rahman bin Auf, the Caliph came to him one day and asked him to accompany him to a certain place. On inquiry, he told Hazrat Auf that a caravan had arrived in Medina and since the members must be tired, the Caliph considered it obligatory to guard them for the whole of night so that they might rest undisturbed.

Once he addressed a gathering saying, “Brothers, if I stray from the right path what will you do”? A man stood up and said, “We will behead you.” Umar shouted in order to test him: “You dare utter such impertinent words for me?” “Yes, for you,” replied the man. Umar was very much pleased with his boldness and said, “Thank God, there exist such bold men in our nation that if I go astray they will set me right.”

It was only to his high moral character,” says a European historian, “that Umar owned the respect which he inspired, for the physical force at his command was none. Umar was not only a great ruler but also one of the most typical models of all the virtues of Islam”. Tradition makes the Prophet of Islam say: “If God had wished that there should have been another prophet after me, he would have been none other than Umar.”

The second Caliph of Islam occupies an outstanding place in the history of the world. One would hardly come across a ruler who led so simple a life, and dedicated himself to the service of his people and was a terror for his foes. “Of simple habits, austere and frugal, always accessible to the meanest of his subject, wandering about at night to enquire into the condition of the people without any guard or escort, such was the greatest and most powerful ruler of the time.”

Perhaps Dr. Allama Iqbal, the poet of the East has said for him only :

Jis se jigar-i-lala me thandak ho woh shabnam

Daryaan ke dil jis se dahel jaen woh toofan

(Like the dew which cools the heart of lily and like the storm which shakes the heart of the rivers).

Jurji Zaidan, the celebrated Christian historian of Egypt pays glowing tribute to the achievements of Hazrat Umar in the following words:

“In his time various countries were conquered, spoils were multiplied, the treasures of the Persian and Roman Emperors were poured in streams before his troops, nevertheless he himself manifested a degree of abstemiousness and moderation which was never surpassed. He addressed the people clad in a garment patched with leather. He was himself the first to practice what he preached. He kept a vigilant eye over his Governors and Generals and enquired strictly into their conduct. Even the great Khalid bin Walid was not spared. He was just to all mankind and was kind even to the non-Muslims. Iron discipline was maintained everywhere during his reign.”

ABU BAKR (R.A) Biography

Medina, the heart of Islam, was gravely threatened by the enemy hordes. The Holy Prophet of Islam appealed for funds in order to finance the defensive campaign for meeting the impending danger, Hazrat Umar being in affluent circumstances at once thought of taking advantage of this golden opportunity and thus surpassed Hazrat Abu Bakr in the service of Islam. He hurried to his home and brought a considerable portion of his wealth. The Prophet was much pleased to see it and asked him, “Have you left anything for your dependants?”

“Half of my wealth I have set aside for my children”, replied Umar.

When Hazrat Abu Bakr brought his share, the same question was posed to him.

He promptly replied, “I have retained only Allah and His Prophet for my dependants.”

Deeply moved by these words, Umar said, “It would never be possible for me to surpass Abu Bakr.”

Hazrat Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam and the most trusted as well as devoted lieutenant of the Prophet, was born in Makkah two and a half years after the year of the Elephant or fifty and a half years before the commencement of Hejira. He was known as Abul Kaab in pre-Islamic days and on conversion to Islam was given the name of Abdulla and the title of Al Siddiq (The truthful) by the Prophet. He belonged to the Quraishite clan of Bani Taim and his geneology joins with that of the Holy Prophet in the 7th generation. He was one of the most respected leaders even before and after embracing Islam. His ancestral occupation was business and occasionally he undertook commercial trips to Syria and Yemen. He visited Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) even before, and at the time of the revelation he was in Yemen. On his return to Makkah, the leaders of Quraish including Abu Jahl, Ataba and Shoba, ridiculed in his presence the declaration of Prophethood by Muhammad (PBUH). Thereupon Abu Bakr got very much excited and exasperated and hurried to the Prophet’s place and embraced Islam. According to Suyuti, the author of ‘Tarikh ul Khulafa’, the Prophet said, “Whenever I offered Islam to any person, he showed some hesitation before embracing it. But Abu Bakr is an exception as he embraced Islam without the slightest hesitation on his part.”

It is universally admitted fact that among the grown ups, Hazrat Abu Bakr, among the youngsters, Hazrat Ali, and among the women, Hazrat Khadija, were first to embrace Islam. As stated above, Hazrat Abu Bakr, being a wealthy person, placed his entire wealth at the disposal of the Prophet. Besides, he purchased and set free a number of slaves including Hazrat Bilal, who were bitterly persecuted for accepting Islam. He had to endure all sorts of hardships, intimidation and torture in the service of the new faith. Once he was severely beaten till he became unconscious. The courage and determination exhibited by the Holy Prophet and his faithful Companions in face of bitter opposition, will always be a source of inspiration for those who strive for Truth. Hazrat Abu Bakr who had 40,000 dirhams at the time of his conversion, had only 5,000 left at the time of migration. Leaving his wife and children to the care of God, he left Makkah for Medina in the company of the Prophet.

He also fought shoulder to shoulder with the Prophet in defensive battles which the adherents of the new faith fought for their existence. Abdur Rahman bin Abu Bakr, after his conversion to Islam, told his father that in the battle of Badr he got a chance when he could easily strike him down. Abu Bakr promptly replied that he would not have spared him if he had had the opportunity.

Abu Bakr died on August 23, 634 A.C. at the age of 63 and his Caliphate lasted for two years, three months and eleven days. He was buried by the side of the Prophet.

On the death of the holy Prophet, Hazrat Abu Bakr was elected as the first Caliph of Islam After his election, at which people scrambled to offer bait’, the Caliph delivered his memorable speech before the electorate.

Said he: “Brothers, now I am elected your Amir, although I am no better than anyone among you. Help me if I am in the right and set me right if I am in the wrong. Truth is a trust: falsehood is a treason. The weak among you shall be strong with me till (God willing) his right has been vindicated and the strong among you shall be weak with me till (if Lord will) I have taken what is due from him. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet. If I disobey Him and His Prophet, obey me not.”

Intrinsically kind-hearted, Abu Bakr stood like a rock against the disruptive forces which raised their head after the death of the Holy Prophet. It seemed then that the entire structure of Islam which had been built by the departed master-mind would crumble down. Abu Bakr, being the faithful Companion of the Prophet, proved to be an exceptionally strong man and stuck to the path shown by his master. During the illness of the Prophet an army of 700 men was mobilised under Usama bin Zaid to avenge the defeat of Muslims at the hands of the Romans. There was a great turmoil in Arabia after the death of the Prophet, and his close associates counselled the new Caliph not to despatch forces outside Medina at such a critical juncture. Hazrat Abu Bakr was adamant on the point and replied that he would be the last person in the world to revise the orders of the Prophet. The charger of the commander Usama appointed by the Prophet was led by the Caliph himself. The army accomplished its object within forty days. The expedition had a salutary effect on the recalcitrant tribesmen who had begun to be sceptical about the inherent potentialities of Islam. The imaginative, timely and dynamic action taken by Abu Bakr, tended to establish Muslim power.

Very soon another crisis confronted Abu Bakr. On the death of the Prophet of Islam, a number of pseudo prophets i.e., imposters raised their heads in various parts of Arabia, outstanding being Aswad Asni, Talha of Bani Asad, Musailma, the liar and Sajah, a woman of Yemen. The Caliph. gave at Zuhl Qassa eleven banners to equal number of commanders and assigned them various sectors. The expedition against Musailma, the liar, was the toughest and Hazrat Khalid bin Walid, after a bloody battle, routed the enemy. Musailma was killed. According to historian Tabari, ”Never did the Muslims fight a more stiff battle.”

Shortly after the election of the new Caliph, a large number of tribesmen pleaded with the notables of Islam in Medina to be exempted from the payment of Zakat. The situation looked so gloomy that even a person of the calibre of Hazrat Umar yielded on the point and counselled Hazrat Abu Bakr, “O Caliph of the Prophet, be friendly to these people and treat them gently.” The Caliph was immensely annoyed at this unexpected exhibition of weakness, and replied indignantly, “You were so harsh during the days of ignorance, but now you have become so weak. The Divine revelations have been completed and our faith has attained perfection. Now, you want it to be mutilated during my lifetime. I swear by Allah that even if a string is withheld from Zakat, I will fight for it with all the resources at my command.”

The Caliph lived up to his convictions and his integrity and strength of character, preserved the basic precepts of Islam at a very critical juncture of her history.

All the punitive expeditions directed against the apostates and rebellious tribesmen successfully terminated by the end of 11 A.H., and the spirit of revolt and dissensions which gripped Arabia was curbed for ever.

Free from the internal upheavals, the Caliph attended to the external dangers which imperilled the very existence of Islam. Kaiser and Kisra, the two most powerful emperors of the world, were lurking for an opportunity to strike at the very root of the new faith. The Persians, who for centuries ruled over Arabia as overlords, could never tolerate that the militant Arabs should unite and form themselves into a formidable force. Hurmuz, the tyrant governed Iraq on behalf of the Kisra. His persecution of the Arabs led to the skirmishes which developed into a full blooded war. Nature willed otherwise; the Persians, who in their arrogance, had underrated the power of Muslims, could not stem the tide of their advance and had to retreat from place to place till Iraq fell into the hands of the Arabs. Muthanna, in the beginning, led the Muslim army against the Persians. He earned many laurels against his enemy. He was later on joined by the invincible Khalid bin Walid, known as the Sword of God. The decisive battle against Hurmuz was won by Muslims in which Hurmuz was killed by Hazrat Khalid and the Persians were routed with heavy losses. A camel load of chains weighing seven and a half maunds was collected from the battlefield, hence it is known as the ‘Battle of Chains.”

Hazrat Khalid bin Walid, who was the Commander of Islamic forces in Iraq, separated the administration of military and civil departments under different heads. Saced bin Noman was appointed chief of the military department, while Suwaid bin Maqran was appointed chief of the civil administration of the conquered area in Iraq. Major portion of Iraq was captured during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr and the Persians had had the sad experience of challenging of growing power of Islam. The decisive battle for Iraq was fought between Muslims and Persians during the reign of Hazrat Umar.

Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, who ruled over Syria and Palestine, was the greatest and most powerful enemy of Islam. He had been constantly conspiring with the enemies of Islam in an effort to annihilate it. His intrigues and secret machinations brought about several uprisings of non-Muslim tribes in Arabia. He was a constant danger to Islam. In 9 A.H., the Prophet himself had marched against the Romans and the expedition of Usama bin Zaid was also directed against the threatening Romans. Hazrat Abu Bakr despatched the flower of his army to meet the Romans and divided his forces into four armies placed under the command of Abu Ubaidah, Sharjil bin Hasanah, Yazid bin Sufian and Amr bin al-Aas and assigned them different sectors in Syria. The ill-equipped, untrained and numerically inferior army of Islam, was no match for the well equipped, well trained and numerically much superior Roman forces. Khalid was ordered by the Caliph to join the Muslim forces in Syria and his lightning march through a waterless desert added a memorable chapter to the history of military campaigns.

The opposing forces met on the plain of Yarmuk. The formidable Roman forces comprised more than 3-lakh well equipped soldiers, out of which about 80,000 were chained in order to ward off the possibility of retreat. 

The Muslim army was composed of hardly 46,000 men in all, which, according to the strategic plan of Hazrat Khalid, was broken up into 40 contingents in order to impress its numerical superiority upon the enemy. This memorable battle ended in the crushing defeat of the Romans who retreated, leaving a large number of dead on the battle-field. This decisive victory sealed the fate of Roman rule in Syria. The battle of Yarmuk, whose initial preparations were started during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr was won in the reign of Hazrat Umar.

Hazrat Abu Bakr was the most trusted Companion of the Prophet of Islam. The Prophet said, “I am not aware of a person who can surpass Abu Bakr in beneficence”. When the illness of the Prophet became serious, he bade Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. Accordingly, he led the prayers seventeen times during the lifetime of the Prophet.

The Prophet said: “I have paid back the obligations of all except that of Abu Bakr who will have his reward on the Day of Judgement.”

According to Tirmizi, Hazrat Umar said, “O, You! (Abu Bakr) are the best of men after the Prophet of God.”

According to a statement of Imam Ahmad, Hazrat Ali said, “The best among the members of this Ummat (Muslims) after the Prophet are Abu Bakr and Umar.”

Glowing tributes have been paid to the character and achievements of Hazrat Abu Bakr by the contemporary and later historians. He was one of the mighty pillars of Islam who was instrumental in making the new faith a great force in the world. He was one of the great champions of the Islamic revolution which, in a short span of 30 years, brought about the greatest social, political and economic changes in the history of mankind. He was one of the founders of the true democracy that existed in the world more than 1400 years ago and never thereafter. That was a democracy in which the highest authority of the state (Caliph), who was also the most powerful monarch of his time, roamed about in the streets unguarded and unescorted, ate coarse food and wore tattered clothes. Even an ordinary citizen could approach him at any time of the day and question his actions publicly.

Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Ali were distinguished for their eloquence among the Muslims. Once he advised Hazrat Khalid bin Walid: “Try to run away from greatness and greatness will follow you. Seek death and life will be conferred on you.”

He had issued instructions to his army which, according to Ibn Athir, formed the moral code that guided the conduct of the soldiers of Islam. This should serve as a model for war-ravaged world. He instructed his forces: “Don’t commit misappropriations; don’t deceive anybody; don’t disobey your chief; don’t mutilate human bodies; don’t kill old men, women or children; don’t cut fruit trees or burn them; don’t slaughter animals except for food; don’t molest Christian priests and don’t forget God for His blessings that you have enjoyed.” It was obligatory on the armed forces to maintain a high standard of morality even during the campaigns and to show due respect to human, animal and plant life. Any deviation from these principles was severely dealt with.

He appointed Hazrat Umar as his Grand Qazi, but people had grown so honest and their social life was so much purged of the immoralities of the pre-Islamic days that no complaint was lodged with the Qazi for one year. Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Usman and Zaid bin Sabit worked as Khatibs.

Hazrat Abu Bakr’s simplicity, honesty and integrity was personified. He sacrificed everything in the service of Islam. He was a prosperous businessman owning more than 40,000 dirhams in cash when he embraced Islam, but he was a pauper when he died as the First Caliph of Islam.

He did not abandon his ancestral occupation when he was elected as Caliph and for about six months carried cloth sheets on his shoulders for selling in the markets of Medina. However, his official duties did not leave him much time for his private work, hence he was advised to accept some maintenance allowance. The Assembly of the Muslims fixed a monthly stipend which enabled him to pass the life of an ordinary citizen. He had to deposit his old clothes for replacement by new ones from the Baitul Mal (Public Treasury).

Before his assumption of the exalted office of Caliph, he used to milk the goats of his locality. Once while passing through a street of Medina, he heard a girl’s remark’s, “Now he has become the Caliph, hence he would not milk our goats.” He replied instantly, “No, my daughter, I shall certainly milk the goats as usual. I hope that by the grace of God, my position will not alter my routine.” He had great affection for children who used to embrace him and call him ‘Baba’ (Father).

An old destitute woman lived on the outskirts of Medina. Hazrat Umar visited her occasionally to handle her household chores. But whenever he went there, he was told that someone else had preceded him in that service. Once he visited her house in the early hours of the morning and hid himself in a corner to watch the mysterious person who arrived at the usual time. He was surprised to see that he was none other than the Caliph himself.

Hazrat Abu Bakr was extremely scrupulous in drawing his stipend from the Baitul Mal. He charged only as much as would suffice for the barest necessities of an ordinary life. One day his wife asked for sweets, but he had no spare funds for that. She saved a few dirhams in a fortnight and gave it to him to get sweets for her. Forthrightly he gave her to understand that her savings had established that he was drawing stipend in excess of their requirements. Hence he refunded the amount to the Baitul Mal and reduced his stipend for the future.

He delighted in doing all his work with his own hands, and never tolerated anyage to share his domestic works. Even if the reins of the camel happened to drop from his hand, he would never ask anyone to hold it for him. He would rather come down and pick it up himself.

Whenever a man praised him in his presence he would say, “O, God! You know me more than myself and I know myself more than these people.Forgive those sins of mine which are not in their knowledge and do not hold me responsible for their praise.”

He was a man of exceptionally simple habits. A richly dressed prince of Yemen, who arrived in Medina found him putting on only two brown sheets of cloth-one wrapped round his waist and the other covered the rest of his body. He was so much touched with the simplicity of the Caliph that he, too, discarded his gorgeous dress. He said, “Under the influence of Islam, I get no pleasure in such artificialities.”

On his death bed he enquired from the person incharge of Baitul Mal about the amount he had drawn from the Baitul Mal as his stipends. He was informed that he had drawn, 6,000 dirhams (roughly 1,500 rupees) during his two and a half years of Caliphate. He instructed that a particular plot of land owned by him should he disposed of and the entire proceeds be refunded to the Baitul Mal. His dying wish was duly complied with. He had been a camel and a piece of cloth worth Re, 1/4/- for his private use, which he ordered to be returned to the new Caliph after his death. When these articles were brought in the presence of Hazrat Umar, the new Caliph, he burst into tears and said, “Abu Bakr, You have made the task of your successor extremely difficult.”

Just on the eve of his death he enquired from his daughter Hazrat Aisha, the number of the pieces of cloth used as a shroud of the Prophet. She replied, “Three”. Thereupon he said that the two sheets which were on his body should be washed and used for the purpose and the third one might be purchased. With tears in her eyes she said that she was not so poor as to ill-afford a shroud for her father. The Caliph replied that the new cloth could be used more profitably for the living than for the dead.

Eloquent tributes have been paid to Caliph Abu Bakr’s qualities of head and heart. Friends and foes alike have universally commended his devotion to the new faith and his simplicity, honesty and integrity of character. Jurji Zaidan, the Egyptian Christian historian writes:

“The age of pious Caliphs is the real golden age of Islam. The Caliphs of this period are known for their temperance, piety and justice. When Hazrat Abu Bakr was converted to Islam, he was in possession of 40,000 dirhams, an enormous fortune at that time, but he spent the whole of it in furthering Islam including that which he earned in trade. When he died he had nothing except a dinar. He would ordinarily walk to his house in Sunh, on the outskirts of Medina and scarcely ever rode his horse. He came to Medina to conduct public prayers and return to Sunh in the evening. Each day he would go to buy and sell and had a small flock which at times he had to pasture himself. Before he became Caliph, he used to milk the sheep of his tribe and when he became Caliph, a slave girl regretted that her sheep would not be milked. But he assured her that he would continue her work of milking the sheep and dignity would cause no change in his conduct. Before his death, he ordered that a small plot of land which belonged to him should be sold and the proceeds returned to the Muslim community as set off for the sums which he had taken from them as an honorarium.”

UMAR BIN ABDUL AZIZ Biography

Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz, the celebrated Umayyad Caliph whose empire stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to the highlands of Pamir, was sitting in his private chamber examining a pile of State documents. The dim light of the room was adding to the serenity and sombreness of the place and the Caliph could scarcely feel the arrival of his wife, Fatima, till she addressed him :

Sire! Will you spare a few moments for me? I want to discuss some private matter with you.”

“Of course”, replied the pious Caliph, raising his head from the papers, “But, please put off this State lamp and light your own, as I do not want to burn the State oil for our private talk.”

The obedient wife, who was the daughter of Abdul Malik, the mighty Umayyad Caliph and the sister of two successive Umayyad Caliphs, Waleed and Sulaiman, complied accordingly.

The short rule of Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz was like an oasis in a vast desert-a benevolent rain which had fallen on an arid soil. It was the brightest period in the 91year Caliphate of the Umayyads, which, though short lived, had transformed the outlook of the State and had released such powerful democratic forces that after his death the attempts for the restoration of autocracy under Hisham failed miserably and ultivately culminated in the fall of the Umayyads at the hands of the Abbasides.

Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz, surnamed ‘al Khalifat as Saleh’ (The pious Caliph) was the son of Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Egypt, and his mother, Umme-Aasim was the grand daughter of Caliph Umar. He was born in 63 A.H. i.e. 682 A.C. in Halwan, a village of Egypt, but he received his education in Medina from his mother’s uncle, the celebrated Abdulla ibn Umar. Medina, which in those days was the highest seat of learning in the world of Islam, was greatly instrumental in moulding his life to a pattern quite distinct from those of other Umayyad Caliphs. He remained there till his father’s death in 704 A.C., when he was summoned by his uncle Caliph Abdul Malik and was married to his daughter Fatima. He was appointed Governor of Medina in 706 A.C. by Caliph Waleed. Unlike other autocratic governors, immediately on arrival in Medina, he formed an advisory council of ten eminent jurists and notables of the holy city and carried on the administration with their consultation. He empowered them to keep a watchful eye over his subordinates. This step had a salutary effect on the residents of Medina, who hailed his beneficent Administration. He successfully strove to erase the signs of ravages, committed in the holy cities of Islam under Yazid and Abdul Malik. During his two-year stay as the Governor of Medina, he repaired and enlarged the Mosque of the Prophet as well as beautified the holy cities with public structures, constructed hundreds of new aqueducts and improved the suburban roads leading to Medina. “Moderate, yet firm”, says Ameer Ali, “anxious to promote the welfare of the people whom he governed, Umar’s rule proved beneficent to all classes.” His patriotic rule was for the good of his subjects.

His just administration attracted from Iraq a large number of refugees who were groaning under the oppression of Hajjaj bin Yusuf. But, according to Tabari, this migration highly enraged the tyrant who prevailed upon Waleed to transfer him from Medina which he left amidst “universal mourning.”

The Umayyad Caliph Sulaiman ibn Abdul Malik who had great respect for Umar bin Abdul Aziz nominated him as his successor. On his death the mantle of Caliphate fell upon Umar bin Abdul Aziz who reluctantly accepted it. Giving up all pomp and pageantry the pious Caliph returned the royal charger, refused the police guard and deposited the entire equipment meant for the person of the Caliph in the Baitul Mal. Like a commoner he preferred to stay in a small tent and left the royal palace for the family of Sulaiman. He ordered that the horses of the royal stables be auctioned and the proceeds be deposited in the Treasury. One of his family members asked him why he looked downhearted. The Caliph replied instantly, “Is it not a thing to worry about? I have been entrusted with the welfare of such a vast empire and I would be failing in my duty if I did not rush to the help of a needy person.” Thereafter, he ascended the pulpit and delivered a masterly oration saying: “Brothers! I have been burdened with the responsibilities of Caliphate against my will. You are at liberty to elect anyone whom you like.” But the audience cried out with one voice that he was the fittest person for the high office. Thereupon the pious Caliph advised his people to be pious and virtuous. He allowed them to break their oath of allegiance to him, if he wavered from the path of God.

His short rule was noted for great democratic and healthy activities. He waged a defensive war against the Turks who had ravaged Azerbaijan and massacred thousands of innocent Muslims. The forces of the Caliph under the command of Ibn Hatim ibn Ali Naan Al Balili repulsed the invaders with heavy losses. The Caliph permitted his forces to wage a war against the notorious Kharijis, but under conditions that women, children and prisoners would be spared, the defeated enemy would not be pursued, and all the spoils of war would be returned to their dependents. He replaced corrupt and tyrannical Umayyad administrators with capable and just persons.

His first act after assuming office was the restoration to their rightful owners the properties confiscated by the Umayyads. He was hardly free from the burial ceremonies of Caliph Sulaiman and wanted to take a short respite when his son asked him if he would like to take rest before dealing with cases pertaining to confiscated properties. He replied “Yes, I would deal with these after taking rest.”

“Are you sure that you would live up to that time?” asked the son. The father kissed his dear son and thanked God that he had given him such a virtuous son. He immediately sat up to deal with this urgent matter and first of all returned all his movable and immovable properties to the public treasury. He deposited even a ring presented to him by Waleed. His faithful slave, Mazahim was deeply moved at this uncommon sight and asked, “Sir, what have you left for your children”?

God”, was the reply.

He restored the possession of the garden of Fidak to the descendants of the Prophet which had been appropriated by Marwan during the Caliphate of Usman. He bade his wife Fatima to return the jewellery she had received from her father Caliph Abdul Malik. The faithful wife cheerfully complied with his bidding and deposited all of it in the Baitul Mal. After her husband’s death, her brother Yazid who succeeded him as Caliph offered to return it to her. “I returned these valuable during my husband’s lifetime, why should I take them back after his death”, she told him.

The restoration of Fidak provoked mixed reaction from the people. The fanatical Kharijis who had become hostile to the Caliphate soon softened towards Umar bin Abdul Aziz, proclaiming that it was not possible for them to oppose a Caliph who was not a man but an angel.

The house of Umayyads accustomed to luxuries at the expense of the common man, revolted against this just but revolutionary step taken by the Caliph and bitterly protested against the disposal of their age-long properties.

One day, the Caliph invited some prominent members of the House of Umayyads to dinner, but advised his cook to delay the preparation of food. As the guests were groaning with hunger, the Caliph shouted to his cook to hurry up. At the same time he asked his men to bring some parched gram which he himself as well as his guests ate to their fill. A few minutes later the cook brought the food which the guests refused to take saying that they had satisfied their appetite. Thereupon the pious Caliph spoke out, “Brothers! when you can satisfy your appetite with so simple a diet, then why do you play with fire and usurp the properties and rights of others.” These words deeply moved the notables of the House of Umayyads who burst into tears.

In general, he laid great stress on compensating the victims of illegal extortion in any form.

His administration of impartial justice went against the interests of the Umayyads who were accustomed to all sorts of licences and could hardly tolerate any check on their unbounded freedom. They plotted against the life of this virtuous member of their clan. A slave of the Caliph was bribed to administer the deadly poison. The Caliph having felt the effect of the poison sent for the slave and asked him why he had poisoned him. The slave replied that he was given one thousand dinars for the purpose. The Caliph deposited the amount in the Public Treasury and freeing the slave asked him to leave the place immediately, lest anyone might kill him. Thus died in 719 A.C. at the young age of 36 at a place called Dair Siman (The convent of Siman) near Hems, one of the noblest souls that ever lived in this world. His martyrdom plunged the Islamic world into gloom. It was a day of national mourning; the populace of the small town came out to pay their last homage to the departed leader. He was buried in Dair Siman on a piece of land he had purchased from a Christian.

Muhammad ibn Mobad who happened to be in the Durbar of the Roman Emperor at that time reports that he found the Emperor in drooping spirits. On enquiry he replied, “A virtuous person has passed away. This is Umar bin Abdul Aziz. After Christ if anyone could put a dead person to life it was he. I am hardly surprised to see an ascetic who renounced the world and gave himself to the prayers of God. But I am certainly surprised at a person who had all the pleasures of the world at his feet and yet he shut his eyes against them and passed a life of piety and renunciation.”

He reportedly left behind only 17 dinars with a will that out of this amount the rent of the house in which he died and the price of the land in which he was buried would be paid.

“Unaffected piety,” says Ameer Ali, “a keen sense of justice, unswerving uprightness, moderation, and an almost primitive simplicity of life, formed the chief features in his character.” The responsibility of the office with which he was entrusted filled him with anxiety and caused many a heart searching. Once he was found by his wife weeping after his prayers; she asked if anything had happened to cause him grief, he replied, “O! Fatima! I have been made the ruler over the Moslems and the strangers, and I was thinking of the poor that are starving, and the sick that are destitute, and the naked that are in distress, and the oppressed that are stricken, and the stranger that is in prison, and the venerable elder, and him that hath a large family and small means, and the like of them in countries of the earth and the distant provinces, and I felt that my Lord would ask an account of them at my hands on the day of resurrection, and I feared that no defence would avail me, and I wept.”

His honesty and integrity have few parallels in the history of mankind. According to Tabaqat ibn Saad, he never performed his private work in the light of a lamp which burned the State oil. On every Friday, Farat ibn Muslama brought State papers for his perusal and orders. One Friday the Caliph brought a small piece of State paper in his private use. Muslama who was aware of the exceptional honesty of the Caliph thought that he had done it out of sheer forgetfulness. The next Friday when he brought back home the State papers, he found in them exactly the same size of paper which was used by the Caliph.

Out of the funds of Batul Mal, a guest house was founded for the poor. Once his servant burned the firewood of the guest house to heat water for his ablution. He forthwith got the same quantity of firewood deposited there. On another occasion, he refused to use the water heated from the State charcoal. A number of palatial buildings had been constructed in Khanasra out of the funds of Baitul Mal which were occasionally used by other Caliphs when they visited that place, but Umar bin Abdul Aziz never used them and always preferred to camp in the open.

According to the author of ‘Tabaqat ibn Saad’ he got his articles of luxury and decoration auctioned for 23 thousand dinars and spent the amount for charitable purposes.

His diet used to be very coarse. He never built a house of his own and followed in the footsteps of the Prophet. Allama Siyuti in his well-known historical work “Tarikh ul Khulafa’ (History of the Caliphs) states that he spent only two dirhams a day when he was the Caliph. Before his election as Caliph his private properties yielded an income of 50 thousand dinars annually but immediately after the election he returned all his properties to the public coffers and his private income was reduced to 200 dinars per annum.

In spite of the fact that Umar bin Abdul Aziz was a loving father, he never provided his children with luxuries and comforts. His daughter Amina was his favourite child. Once he sent for her, but she could not come as she was not properly dressed. Her aunt came to know of it and purchased necessary garments for his children. He never accepted any presents from anyone. Once a person presented a basket full of apples. The Caliph appreciated the apples but refused to accept them. The man cited the instance of the Prophet who accepted presents. The Caliph replied immediately, “No doubt, those were presents for the Prophet, but for me this will be bribery.”

Ibn al Jawi, his biographer, writes that “Umar wore clothes with so many patches and mingled with his subjects on such free terms that when a stranger came to petition him he would find it difficult to recognise the Caliph.” When many of his agents wrote that his fiscal reforms in favour of new converts would deplete the Treasury, he replied, “Glad would I be, by Allah, to see every body become Muslim, so that thou and I would have to till the soil with our own hands to earn a living.” (Encyclopaedia of Islam). According to Fakhri, “Umar discontinued the practice established in the name of Muawiya of cursing “Ali from the pulpit in Friday prayers” (Encyclopaedia of Islam).

He was very kind-hearted. Once he was moved to tears on hearing a tale of woe related by a villager and helped him from his private purse. He was kind to animals even and several stories concerning this are found in the early historical records.

He had complete faith in God and never cared for his life. Unguarded, he roamed about in streets listening to the complaints of the common man and assisting him as much as he could.

He introduced a number of reforms; administrative, fiscal and educational. A reformer appears in the world when the administrative, political and ethical machinery is rusted and requires overhauling. This unsurpassable reformer of the Umayyad regime was born in an environment which was very gloomy and necessitated a change. His promising son, Abdul Malik a youth of 17 advised his father to be more ruthless in introducing his beneficial reforms, but the wise father replied, “My beloved son, what thou tellest me to do can be achieved only by sword, but there is no good in a reform which requires the use of the sword.”

Under his instructions, As Samh, his Viceroy in Spain, took a census of the diverse nationalities, races and creeds, inhabiting that country. A survey of the entire peninsula including those of her cities, rivers, seas and mountains was made. The nature of her soil, varieties of products and agricultural as well as mineral sources were also carefully surveyed and noted in records. A number of bridges in southern Spain were constructed and repaired. A spacious Friday Mosque was built at Saragossa in northern Spain.

The Baitul Mal (Public Treasury) which was one innovation of Islam and had proved a blessing for poor Muslims during the regime of ‘Pious Caliphs,’ was freely used for private purposes by the Umayyad Caliphs, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz stopped this unholy practice and never drew a pie from Baitul Mal. He separated the accounts for ‘Khams, ‘Sadqa’ and ‘Fi’ and had separate sections for each. He immediately stopped the practice of richly rewarding the authors of panegyrics of the royal family from the Baitul Mal.

One of the most important measures was his reform of taxation. He made adequate arrangement for easy realisation of taxes and administered it on a sound footing. He wrote a memorable note on taxation to Abdul Hamid ibn Abdur Rahman which has been copied by Qazi Abu Yusuf; “Examine the land and levy the land tax accordingly. Do not burden a barren land with a fertile one and vice versa. Do not charge the revenue of barren land.” His generous reforms and leniency led the people depositing their taxes willingly. It is a strange paradox that in spite of all oppressive measures adopted by the notorious Hajjaj bin Yusuf for the realisation of taxes in Iraq, it was less than half of the amount realised during the benevolent regime of Umar bin Abdul Aziz.

He paid special attention to the prison reforms. He instructed Abu Bakr ibn Hazm to make weekly inspection of jails. The jail wardens were warned not to maltreat the prisoners. Every prisoner was given a monthly stipend and proper seasonal clothing. He advised the jail authorities to inculcate love for virtue and hatred for vice among the prisoners. Education of the prisoners led to their reformation.

The public welfare institutions and works received much stimulus All over his vast empire thousands of public wells and inns were constructed. Charitable dispensaries were also opened. Even travelling expenses were arranged by the Government for the needy travellers. A large number of inns were constructed on the road leading from Khorasan to Samarkand.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was a capable administrator well versed in his duties towards this world and the hereafter. He was extremely hardworking and when people urged him to take rest, he never heeded them. He had set before himself Caliph Umar’s administration as a model to be copied. According to the well-known Imam Sufian Suri, there are five pious Caliphs namely Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq, Usman, Ali and Umar bin Abdul Aziz. The outstanding feature of his Caliphate was that he revived Islam’s democratic spirit which had been suppressed after the accession of Yazid. In a letter addressed to the Prefect of Kufa, he exhorted his govemors to abolish all unjust ordinances. He wrote, “Thou must know, that the maintenance of religion is due to the practice of justice and benevolence; do not think lightly of any sin; do not try to depopulate what is populous; do not try to exact from the subjects anything beyond their capacity; take from them what they can give; do everything to improve population and prosperity; govern mildly and without harshness; do not accept presents on festive occasions; do not take the price of sacred book (distributed among the people); impose no tax on travellers, or on the marriages, or on the milk of camels; and do not insist on the poll tax from anyone who has become a convert to Islam”

The pious Caliph disbanded 600 bodyguards, meant for guarding the person of the Caliph. He received lesser salary than his subordinates. He attracted around him a galaxy of talented men who counselled him on State matters.

That Umar bin Abdul Aziz was very kind and just towards non-Muslims has been acknowledged by the Encyclopaedia of Islam. As a devout Muslim he was not only graciously tolerant to the members of other creeds but also solicitous towards them. Christians, Jews and fire worshippers were allowed to retain their churches, synagogues and temples. In Damascus, Al-Waleed had taken down the ‘basilika’ of John, the Baptist, and incorporated the site in the mosque of Umayyads. When Umar became Caliph, the Christians complained to him that the Church had been taken from them, whereupon he ordered the Governor to return to the Christians what belonged to them. While he endeavoured to protect his Muslim subjects from being abused, he was also anxious that his Christian subjects should not be rushed by oppressive taxation. In Aila and in Cyprus the increased tribute settled by treaty was reduced by him to the original amount.

Once a Muslim murdered a non-Muslim of Hira. The Caliph, when apprised of the event, ordered the Governor to do justice in the case. The Muslim was surrendered to the relations of the murdered person who killed him. A Christian, filed a suit against Hisham ibn Abdul Malik who later on succeeded as Caliph. The just Caliph ordered both the plaintiff and the defendant to stand side by side in the court. This annoyed Hisham who abused the Christian. Thereupon the Caliph rebuked him and threatened him with dire consequences.

Umar bin Abdul Aziz laid great emphasis on the ethical aspects of education in order to turn the hearts of people towards charity, forbearance and benevolence. He relentlessly discouraged and punished laxity of morals.

All these beneficial measures added to the stability of the State and the prosperity of the people who lived in peace and tranquility. During his short reign of two years, people had grown so prosperous and contented that one could hardly find a person who would accept alms. The only discontented people were the members of the House of Umayyads who had been accustomed to a life of vice and luxury and could hardly change their heart.

Umar bin Abdul Aziz did not lay much stress on military glory. He paid greater attention to internal administration, economic development and consolidation of his State. The siege of Constantinople was raised. In Spain, the Muslim armies crossed the Pyrennes and penetrated as far as Toulouse in central France.

His short reign was like a merciful rain which brought universal blessings. One of its special features was that almost all Berbers in Northern Africa as well as the nobility of Sind embraced Islam of their own accord. “Umar, however, by no means felt obliged to spread Islam by the sword,” adds the Encyclopaedia of Islam “He rather sought peaceful missionary activity to win members of other creeds to the faith of the Prophet.”

Umar bin Abdul Aziz was a unique ruler from every point of view. The high standard of administration set by him could only be rivalled by the first four Caliphs of Islam. “The reign of Umar II,” writes Ameer Ali “forms the most attractive period of the Umayyads” domination. The historians dwell with satisfaction on the work and aspirations of a Ruler who made the weal of huis people the sole object of his ambition.” His short but glorious reign has no match thence after. “As a Caliph, Umar stands apart,” acknowledges a European orientalist.

“He was distinguished from his predecessors and successors alike. Inspired by a true piety, although not entirely free from biotry, he was very conscious of his responsibilities to God and always endeavoured to further what he believed to be right and conscientiously to do his duty as a ruler. In his private life he was distinguished by the greatest simplicity and frugality.”

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Bio

He was a great scholar, unique orator, a great literary figure and a journalist. He always supported Congress but his journalist is quite peculiar. His manner of thinking was different. He made the same efforts to safeguard the rights of the Muslims and save Islam as done by other people.

At that time Muslims were divided into two group: One group demanded the rights of the Muslims within India and the other group demanded a separate homeland.

Abul Kalam was born in Calcutta. He began to write articles in newspapers at the age of 10. His articles were published in “The Paisa Akhbar” and “The Akhbar-i-Aam”. He issued a periodical “Nairang-i-Alam” at an early age. In addition to this he was the editor of several periodicals. His mother tongue was Arabic. He began to translate several Arabic periodicals in the beginning. Maulana believed, “a journalist promotes goodness and opposes evil”. He should be free from every pressure. In other words, he believed that journalism was a means for the fulfillment of high deals. He acted upon these principles in his newspaper. His journalism called missionary Journalism.

His writings do not have the ardor of Zafar Ali Khan. He takes after the manner of Sir Syed. His writings have their own effect. He always talked from a high place. He was like a calm and quiet river which has depth but no waves.