15 October 2021
Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umarra ibn al-Khattab
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
The incident of the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra was mentioned in the previous sermon and some more details remain to be mentioned in this regard.
From the narration that I presented from Sahih Bukhari, it appears that at the time Hazrat Umarra was attacked, he was present in the mosque for the Fajr prayer. However, in another narration, we find that Hazrat Umarra was immediately rushed home and that the prayer was offered later. In this regard, a commentator of Sahih Bukhari, Allama Ibn Hajar has added another narration under this hadith and has written that Hazrat Ibn Abbasra stated:
“When Hazrat Umarra started to bleed profusely and he became unconscious, I carried him with the help of other individuals and took him home. He remained unconscious until daylight was visible. When he regained consciousness, he looked in our direction and asked, ‘Have people offered their prayer?’ I replied, ‘Yes, they have.’ Upon this, he said that the person who disregarded their prayer was not a [true] follower of Islam.’ Hazrat Umarra then performed ablution and offered his prayers.” (Fath al-Bari, Vol. 7, p. 64, Sharh Hadith 3700, Dar al-Ma‘rifah, Beirut) (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 263)
A similar mention is found in Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra that Hazrat Umarra was carried to his home and that Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf led the prayers. It is also mentioned that Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra recited the two shortest surahs [chapters] of the Holy Quran – Surah al-Asr and Surah al-Kauthar. At another place, it is stated that Surah al-Asr and Surah al-Kafirun were recited. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 266)
Mentioning the assassin of Hazrat Umarra, it is written in Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra that when Hazrat Umarra was attacked, he said to Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbasra, “Go and search for the one who has tried to kill me.” Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbasra says, “I left and when I opened the door of the house, I saw a crowd of people who were unaware of Hazrat Umar’sra condition. I asked who attacked Hazrat Amirul-Mo‘mineen with a dagger. They replied that the enemy of Allah and the slave of Mughirah bin Shu‘bah, Abu Lu‘lu‘, stabbed him. He had wounded others as well, but when he was caught, he used the same dagger to take his own life.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 263)
In regard to whether the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra was the result of a conspiracy or due to the personal enmity harboured by this individual, some of the later historians have written that the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra was not merely due to an individual’s personal enmity towards him; rather, it was a conspiracy. In any case, we will read their opinions on this as well.
In relation to how a brave Khalifa such as Hazrat Umarra was martyred, we usually find that historians and biographers remain silent after detailing the incidents of martyrdom and the impression is left that Abu Lu‘lu‘ Firuz assassinated him due to a momentary rage and anger. However, some contemporary historians and biographers have analysed this with great detail and they say that this could not have been an act of vengeance, resulting from the rage of a single individual; rather, it was a conspiracy and Hazrat Umarra was assassinated through a pre-planned scheme. The renowned Persian commander, Hormuzan, who was living in Medina and appeared to be a Muslim, was also part of this conspiracy.
Modern-day writers have questioned early historians and biographers as to why they have not discussed this killing in detail as being a conspiracy. However, there is one important book of history called Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah in which it is only mentioned that Hormuzan and Jufainah were suspected to be involved in the killing of Hazrat Umarra. (Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 4 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2001] p. 144)
Hence, it is due to this uncertainty that biographers of Hazrat Umarra have considered it to have been the result of a conspiracy. One of these writers is Muhammad Raza Sahib. He writes in his book, Sirat Umar Farooq:
“Hazrat Umarra never permitted adult prisoners to enter Medina, until Hazrat Mughirahra bin Shu‘bah, who was the governor of Kufa wrote a letter to him stating that he had a very skilled slave, and sought permission for him to come to Medina. Hazrat Mughirahra bin Shu‘bah said that he was experienced in many fields of work and was therefore of benefit to the people – he was a blacksmith, craftsman and a carpenter. Hazrat Umarra wrote to Hazrat Mughirahra, permitting him to send him to Medina. Hazrat Mughirahra placed a monthly tax of 100 dirhams upon him.
“This slave went to Hazrat Umarra and complained about the tax being too high. Hazrat Umarra asked what work he could proficiently do. In response, he informed Hazrat Umarra which tasks he was skilled in. Hazrat Umarra stated that the tax placed upon him was not higher than the works he was skilled in. He, therefore, departed whilst angry at Hazrat Umarra. Hazrat Umarra waited a few days and one day the same slave passed by him, and so he called him and said, ‘I have heard that you make a really good wind-powered millstone.’ This slave turned his attention to Hazrat Umarra in a state of anger and displeasure and said, ‘I shall make such a millstone for you that people will continue to talk about it.’
“When the slave turned away, Hazrat Umarra turned to his companions and said that this slave had just threatened him.
“A few days passed and Abu Lu‘lu‘ hid a double-edged dagger in his cloth, the handle of which was in the middle, and attacked Hazrat Umarra” as has been mentioned in the incident regarding the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra.
“One strike landed below his navel. In one sense, Abu Lu‘lu‘ held malice and spite for Hazrat Umarra as the Arabs had conquered their land, enslaved him and caused his king to flee the country humiliated. Whenever he would see young slaves, he would go to them, stroke their heads and emotionally say that the Arabs had destroyed their future generation.
“When Abu Lu‘lu‘ made the resolve to kill Hazrat Umarra, he very diligently crafted the double-edged dagger, sharpened it and then covered it in poison. He then took it to Hormuzan and asked what he thought about the dagger. He answered, ‘I believe it will kill whoever you strike it with.’
“Hormuzan was among the commanders of the Persians. He was captured by the Muslims in Tustur and sent to Medina. When he saw Hazrat Umarra, he enquired about the whereabouts of his guards and gatekeepers, as has been mentioned before. The Companionsra answered that he had no guard, gatekeeper, secretary or a treasurer, upon which he stated that he ought to be a prophet. Nevertheless, he later became a Muslim. Hazrat Umarra appointed 2,000 [dirhams] for him and gave him a place to reside in Medina.”
In Al-Tabaqat ibn Saad, there is a narration on the authority of Nafi‘ which states that Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra had seen the knife used to martyr Hazrat Umarra. He stated that he saw the knife in the possession of Hormuzan and Jufainah and asked them what they used it for. They replied that they used it to cut meat because they did not touch the meat with their hands. Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra asked Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra if he had in fact seen the knife in the possession of those two. He replied in the affirmative. Upon this, Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra took up his sword and killed both of them.
Hazrat Uthmanra called for Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra. When he arrived, Hazrat Uthmanra asked him what had incited him to kill the two individuals while they were living under the oath of their protection. Upon hearing this, Hazrat Ubaidullahra threw Hazrat Uthmanra to the ground, at which point others arrived to protect Hazrat Uthmanra from Hazrat Ubaidullahra. When Hazrat Uthmanra had called for him, Hazrat Ubaidullahra had placed his sword in its sheath; however, Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra strictly demanded him to remove his sword altogether which he did so.
This is one narration that I have just mentioned in reference to Hazrat Uthmanra, and Allah knows better to what extent it is true and authentic. Nonetheless, the mention of this killing has been recorded in other narrations as well. Saeed bin Musayyab narrates that when Hazrat Umarra was martyred, Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra said that he passed by the killer of Hazrat Umarra, i.e. Abu Lu‘lu‘, and he was whispering in the company of Jufainah and Hormuzan. When he suddenly went to them, they ran away, dropping a dagger in their haste. It was a double-edged dagger with the handle in between. He then told them to examine the dagger with which Hazrat Umarra was martyred. Upon observing it, the dagger was identical to what was described by Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra.
When Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra heard this from Hazrat Abdur Rehman bin Abi Bakrra, he set out with his sword and called out for Hormuzan. When Hormuzan came out, Hazrat Ubaidullah took him to see their horses and meanwhile he moved behind him. When Hormuzan was walking in front of him, he attacked him with his sword. Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra stated that as soon as Hormuzan felt the force of his blade, he proclaimed, “There is no one worthy of worship except Allah.” Hazrat Ubaidullahra also stated that he called upon Jufainah, who was a Christian from Hira and was sent to Medina as a helper of Hazrat Saadra bin Abi Waqas to establish reconciliation between them. He used to teach the art of scribing in Medina. When Hazrat Ubaidullahra attacked him with his sword, he drew the symbol of a cross before his eyes. Then, Hazrat Ubaidullahra went on to kill the daughter of Abu Lu‘lu‘, who claimed to be a Muslim.
That day, it was Hazrat Ubaidullah’sra intention to kill all the prisoners in Medina. The Muhajireen stood against him and tried to stop him and rebuked him, but he swore by Allah that he would kill all the prisoners and ignored the Muhajireen to the point where Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas continued to reason with him until he finally surrendered his sword to Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas. Then, when Hazrat Saadra bin Abi Waqas came, they both took hold of each other from their forelocks. But in any case, Hormuzan, Jufainah and the daughter of Abu Lu‘lu‘ were killed.
This whole matter is presented to argue the fact that Abu Lu‘lu‘ was incited to kill Hazrat Umarra, and that all the narrations prove that the killing of Hazrat Umarra was indeed planned. This is what is recorded by those who believe that this was as a result of a conspiracy. Hormuzan planned to exploit the enmity Abu Lu‘lu‘ had harboured for Hazrat Umarra and further fuel the fire. They were both non-Arabs. On top of that, when Hormuzan was imprisoned and sent to Medina, he accepted Islam in fear that the Khalifa would have him killed.
In the narration of Nafi‘ which is recorded in Al-Tabaqat ibn Saad, it is stated that Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf had seen the blade with which Hazrat Umarra was martyred. In the narration of Saeed bin Musayyab, which is recorded in Al-Tabari, it is stated that Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra had seen the dagger and when he suddenly approached Abu Lu‘lu‘, Jufainah and Hormuzan, they ran away and the dagger dropped from them.
When Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra was informed of this by Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra, he immediately went and killed both of them and he became so consumed by vengeance that he also killed the daughter of Abu Lu‘lu‘. The dagger described by Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra was the exact same dagger used to martyr Hazrat Umarra. If Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra had not acted in haste, there may have been a chance that the culprits would be brought forth for questioning and through this investigation, their plot would come to light. If all these factors are considered, the fact that this was a pre-meditated plan is as clear as day. And the one to carry out this plot to its completion and murder Hazrat Umarra was Abu Lu‘lu‘. All of this is claimed by those who believe that this was a conspiracy [to kill Hazrat Umarra]. (Muhammad Raza, Sirat Umar Faruqra – translated by Muhammad Suroor Gohar Sahib, pp. 334-340)
Similarly, Dr Muhammad Hussain Haikal, who is another historian, writes in his book:
“Ever since the Muslims were able to overcome the Iranians and Christians, and took the reins of governing their nations, and forced the Persian emperor to flee after defeating him, the Iranians, Jews and Christians were harbouring sentiments of malice and rancour in their hearts for the Arabs in general, but especially for Hazrat Umarra. Even at that time, people had mentioned this malice and rancour and when they found out that the Abu Lu‘lu‘, who had attacked Hazrat Umarra, was Iranian, they recounted the time when Hazrat Umarra said, ‘I had stopped you from dragging any faithless person into our home, yet you did not heed my words.’
“The population of these non-Arabs and faithless people in Medina was very small, yet there remained a small following of people whose hearts were brimming with anger and vengeance and whose bosoms were raging with the fire of malice and rancour. Who knows; perhaps these people conspired together and Abu Lu‘lu‘ acted in accordance with the plan hatched by these enemies of Islam to satiate their thirst for expressing their malice and enmity. They thought that by doing so, they could shatter the unity of the Arabs into pieces, thereby weakening the strength of the Muslims. The sons of Hazrat Umarra were very restless to uncover the truth. They could have got to the bottom of the matter and uncovered this secret if Abu Lu‘lu‘ Feroz hadn’t committed suicide. However, by committing suicide, he took this secret to his grave; but did this end the matter once and for all, leaving no other way of uncovering it?”
This historian, who believed that this was all a scheme, further writes:
“On the contrary, destiny so decreed that an Arab leader would learn of this scheme and bring it to light. When Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Aufra saw the blade with which Hazrat Umarra was martyred, he said that he had seen that very blade the day before in the possession of Hormuzan and Jufainah. He asked them what they would use the blade for. They replied that they would use it to cut meat because they did not touch meat with their hands. Then, Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra said that when he passed by the killer of Hazrat Umarra, Abu Lu‘lu‘, he saw that Jufainah and Hormuzan were secretly conversing with him.
“When he suddenly approached them, they fled, at which time a dagger fell between them. It had two blades with a handle in the middle. Upon this, he stated that they should examine the dagger used to martyr Hazrat Umarra. When people saw the dagger, they realised that it was the very same dagger described by Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra.”
The historian further writes:
“As a result, there remained no doubt that both testimonies proved to be true, and were in fact the most reliable from among the Muslims. They testified that the knife used to martyr Hazrat Umarra was in the possession of Hormuzan and Jufainah. One of the witnesses stated that before Abu Lu‘lu‘ committed the murder, he saw him plotting with the other two and according to both witnesses, this all happened on the night before Hazrat Umarra was attacked in the morning. In light of this, is there any doubt that the Leader of the Faithful was the victim of a conspiracy that was spearheaded by these three people? It is also possible that there were other Iranians or people from other nations that were conquered by Muslims, who were also part of this conspiracy.
“When Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra heard the testimonies of Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Aufra and Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakrra, he perceived the entire world to be covered in blood. In his heart, he was convinced that every resident of Medina who had come from a foreign land was a part of this conspiracy and that they all had blood on their hands. He immediately took his sword and first killed Hormuzan and Jufainah. It is narrated that he called out to Hormuzan and when he came outside, he asked him to take a look at his horse, and then moved aside. As Hormuzan passed by him, he struck him with his sword.
“When the Iranian realised that there was an attack, he proclaimed, ‘There is no god but Allah’ and fell to the ground. It is narrated that Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Umarra, who was the son of Hazrat Umarra, said, ‘Then I called upon Jufainah who was a Christian from Hira and the foster brother of Saadra bin Abi Waqas [they had been suckled by the same wet-nurse]. It was due to this relation that Saadra brought him to Medina, where he would teach others how to read and write. When I struck him with my sword, he made a mark of the cross in front of his eyes.’
“Hazrat Abdullah’sra other brother was no less enraged by the martyrdom of his father, and no one was more furious than the Mother of the Believers, Hazrat Hafsahra.
“In any case, what he did was not permitted by the law; no person has the authority to personally seek retribution and to take back their rights; rather, the ultimate decision was left to the Holy Prophetsa and his successors after him. They would arbitrate justly among people and would order for the criminals to be punished. Thus, when Hazrat Ubaidullahra learned about this plot which ultimately resulted in the loss of his father’s life, he should have sought a decision from the Leader of the Faithful. If this plot was proven to be true, then he would have ordered for them to be punished, and if this plot did not prove to be true, or if the Leader of the Faithful, (i.e. the new Khalifah), had any doubt about it, then he would have issued a lighter punishment or he would have decided that Abu Lu’lu’ alone was to be held responsible.” (Muhammad Husain Haikal, Al-Faruq Umar – translated by Habib Ash‘ar [Lahore, Pakistan: Islami Kutub Khana], pp. 869-872)
In any case, what he did was not his lawful right. In short, it was not outside the realm of possibility for this to have been a premeditated plot, but owing to circumstances of that time, it may not have been possible for Hazrat Uthmanra to conduct an investigation immediately. But regardless of the circumstances, the early historians are silent about this matter. There is a debate amongst the historians of today regarding this, based on the circumstances of that time, and there seems to be some validity to their arguments, because the plot did not just end here; rather, Hazrat Uthmanra was also martyred as the result of a similar plot. This in fact further solidifies the point that in an attempt to halt the growing strength and victories of Islam, and in order to fulfil their burning desire for retribution, there were external forces who hatched a plot and martyred Hazrat Umarra. Allah knows best.
It is recorded in Sahih Muslim that Hazrat Ibn Umarra narrates, “I was with my father when he was attacked. People praised him and said:
جَزَاكَ اللّٰهُ خَيْرًا
“‘May Allah the Almighty grant you the best reward.’ Upon this, Hazrat Umarra replied, ‘I am hopeful, but also afraid’. The people asked him to appoint the next Khalifa. He said, ‘Shall I bear your burden in this life and when I have passed away as well? I desire for my contributions to be equal in both, meaning neither should I be held responsible, nor should I receive any reward. If I were to appoint a successor, then this would be similar to he who was better than me i.e. Hazrat Abu Bakrra for he did appoint a successor (even if he did then there would be no harm). If I were to leave you without appointing a successor, then you were also left without being appointed a successor by he who was better than me i.e. the Holy Prophetsa’.”
The second example he gave was of the Holy Prophetsa, who did not appoint his successor. Hazrat Abdullah says, “When he mentioned the Holy Prophetsa, I knew that he would not appoint a successor.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Imarah, Bab al-Istikhlaf wa Tarkih, Hadith 4713)
In another narration recorded in Sahih Muslim, Hazrat Ibn Umarra says that he went to Hazrat Hafsahra and she said, “Are you aware that your father will not appoint a successor?” He replied, “He will not do such a thing.” Hazrat Hafsahra said, “He will do so.” Hazrat Ibn Umarra stated, “I vowed that I would speak to Hazrat Umarra again.”
He continues, “I remained silent until the next morning and did not say anything to him.” He further says, “I felt as if I was bearing the weight of a mountain because of this vow I had made. I returned and went to Hazrat Umarra, who asked about the state of the people. I told him the various things people were saying. Then I said, ‘I have heard something in particular that the people are saying, and I vowed to tell you. They think that you will not appoint a successor. If someone grazes your camels or shepherds your sheep, then he comes to you and simply leaves them, then you would think that he has abandoned them. Similarly, protecting people is even more important.’”
He says, “Hazrat Umarra agreed with what I said and looked down for a short while. Then he looked up, turning towards me, and said, ‘Allah the Most High will protect His faith. If I do not appoint a successor, then it would be similar to the Holy Prophetsa who did not appoint a successor. If I do appoint a successor, it would be similar to Hazrat Abu Bakrra who did appoint a successor.’”
Hazrat Ibn Umarra, the son of Hazrat Umarra said, “By God, when Hazrat Umarra mentioned the Holy Prophetsa and Hazrat Abu Bakrra, I knew that he would not hold anyone in the same esteem as the Holy Prophetsa and thus, he would not appoint a successor.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Imarah, Bab al-Istikhlaf wa Tarkih, Hadith 4714)
Hazrat Miswar bin Makhrama relates that when Hazrat Umarra was injured, he was experiencing extreme pain. And in order to try and reassure him, Hazrat Ibn Abbasra stated, “O Leader of the Faithful! If the situation has come to this, then you have stayed in the company of the Holy Prophetsa and were an excellent companion. The Holy Prophetsa departed in a state whereby he was happy with you. Thereafter, you stayed in the company of Hazrat Abu Bakrra and were an excellent companion to him and he departed in a state whereby he was happy with you. Then, you remained in the company of the companions and were an excellent support for them and if you depart from them, then indeed you will depart them in a state whereby they will be happy with you.”
Upon this, Hazrat Umarra replied, “You mentioned regarding the companionship with the Holy Prophetsa and him being pleased with me is purely owing to the grace of Allah the Almighty upon me. Then, you mentioned regarding my companionship with Hazrat Abu Bakrra and him being pleased with me and this was also owing to the grace of Allah the Almighty upon me. As for my state of concern which you can see at present is for you and your companions. I am not worried about myself, but I am concerned for you and your companions. By Allah, even if I had an entire land worth of gold, I would give it as fidya in order to save myself from Allah the Almighty’s wrath.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fada‘il Ashab al-Nabisa, bab Manaqib Umar bin al-Khattabra, Hadith 3692)
Expounding upon the verse:
وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ خَوۡفِهِمۡ أَمۡنًاۚ
“[…] and that He will, surely, give them in exchange security and peace after their fear”, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“The Khulafa never had to face any such trial owing to which they had to experience fear. And if they did, then this was transformed into a state of peace by God Almighty. Undoubtedly, Hazrat Umarra was martyred, but when one ponders over the historical facts, it becomes evident that Hazrat Umarra did not have any fear of him being martyred. In fact, he would repeatedly pray, ‘O Allah! Grant me the station of martyrdom, and that too, in the city of Medina.’
Thus, how could anyone possibly claim that a person who spent his entire life praying to be granted the station of martyrdom in Medina was made to experience fear at the time of his martyrdom and the state of his fear was not transformed into a state of peace? If Hazrat Umarra was fearful of being martyred and was subsequently martyred, then it could have been said that God did not transform the state of fear into peace. However, Hazrat Umarra would pray, ‘O Allah! Grant me the station of martyrdom in Medina.’
“Thus, in light of the incident of his martyrdom, how could anyone claim that he feared being martyred? In fact, since he did not fear being martyred and would pray for it, and God Almighty accepted his prayer, it is therefore evident that according to this verse, he never experienced any kind of fear. And, just as I have mentioned earlier, this verse states that anything which the Khulafa have fear of can never occur. Moreover, it is the promise of Allah the Almighty that He shall give them in exchange security and peace after their fear. However, if one does not even fear something, rather considers it to be a means of his honour and elevating his rank, then it is futile to claim that he experienced fear and to question why was it not transformed into a state of peace.”
This is a point which ought to be understood. Hazrat Musleh Maudra further states:
“When I read this prayer of Hazrat Umarra, I thought to myself that this means, in other words, that the enemy would have to attack Medina and the attack would be so intense that all the Muslims would be destroyed. Thereafter, the enemy would reach the Khalifa of the time and martyr him as well. However, Allah the Almighty accepted the prayer of Hazrat Umarra but at the same time also created such means whereby the honour of Islam was safeguarded. Thus, instead of an external attack being launched on Medina, a wretched individual from within the city martyred him with a dagger.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, 378)
Whilst mentioning the Islamic teachings regarding the freeing of slaves, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has also mentioned the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra and the factors which lead to it. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“The first injunction is that one ought to free the slaves without seeking anything in return from them and simply do it as an act of kindness. If one is unable to do this, then they should grant them freedom by taking something in recompense. Even if then there is a slave who neither has the means to acquire his freedom, nor does the government to whom he belongs show any interest and his family members also show no concern, then he can give a notice [to his owner] and can acquire his freedom by fulfilling his payment through instalments.” The prisoner who has been taken as a slave can fix his own instalments of payment.
“In such a scenario, apart from the amount for the instalments, the rest of his earnings will belong to him and he will be considered as a free man.” In other words, he will pay his instalments from whatever he earns which has been fixed to acquire his freedom and the rest of his earnings will remain his own and this would be a form of freedom for him.
“Hazrat Umarra was martyred by a similar kind of slave, who had entered into an agreement [to acquire his freedom]. This slave had entered into an agreement with the Muslim man in whose possession he was and asked him to fix a payment in monthly instalments according to his means, which he would gradually fulfil and thus acquire his freedom. Subsequently, he fixed a small sum of money which he began to pay.
“One day, he complained to Hazrat Umarra that his owner had fixed a very large amount of payment and asked for it to be reduced. Hazrat Umarra assessed his income and found that his actual income was far higher than the amount of income on which the instalments were based. Upon this, Hazrat Umarra stated that based on his actual income, this instalment was very little and could not be reduced.
“This slave was extremely angered at this decision and felt that since he belonged to Iran therefore the decision was issued against him and the decision had been made in favour of his owner who was an Arab. And so, out of anger, he attacked Hazrat Umarra the very next day with a dagger causing such injuries which lead to his martyrdom.” (Islam ka Iqtisadi Nizam, Anwar al-Ulum, Vol. 18, pp. 28-29)
Hazrat Musleh Maudra further states:
“There are two things which lead one astray from the right path; either it is extreme malice or extreme love. At times, one harbours extreme malice over a very minor issue. Look at the time of Hazrat Umarra in that such a small incident led to such a degree of malice that it ultimately caused great harm to Islam and I feel that the repercussions of this incident are still felt to this day.
“Once, a case was brought before Hazrat Umarra whereby someone’s slave was earning far more than what he was paying to his owner [to acquire his freedom]. Hazrat Umarra called this slave and said to him that he should pay his owner more. At that time, there were very few people who possessed a specialised skill, hence the blacksmiths and carpenters were greatly valued. This slave would build flour mills to grind wheat and would earn a good amount. Hazrat Umarra fixed 3.5 annas [a unit of currency formerly used in the Indian subcontinent] which he had to pay his owner. This is a very small amount; however, he felt that Hazrat Umarra had made a wrong decision and began to harbour malice in his heart against Hazrat Umarra.
“Once, Hazrat Umarra asked him to make a millstone for him as well and upon this, he replied, ‘I will build a millstone which will function very effectively.’ Hearing this response, someone said to Hazrat Umarra that he was threatening him.” This seems to be similar to the incident that was narrated earlier or the same one, but nevertheless it is referring to the same slave.
“Hazrat Umarra stated that his words did not reflect [that he was issuing a threat].” In the earlier narration, Hazrat Umarra himself stated that he had made a threat. “The companion stated that his tone was such that he was making a threat. Following this, one day Hazrat Umarra was offering his prayers that this slave attacked him with a dagger and martyred him.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further writes:
“That Umarra, who was the king of millions and ruler of a vast empire and among the best guides of the Muslims, was killed for a mere 3.5 annas. The fact of the matter is that whoever harbours enmity and rancour will not worry whether it is 3.5 annas or two annas. They only wish to quench their thirst [for retribution]. Their disposition becomes aligned in a way that they fuel their hatred. In such a condition they do not see how their actions will affect themselves nor others. When Hazrat Umar’sra killer was asked why he committed such a heinous act, he replied that a verdict was passed against him and so he took revenge.”
This particular detail has not been mentioned previously. Perhaps they had a short moment whilst they were capturing him wherein he stated why he had killed Hazrat Umarra and after this he killed himself.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:
“Having mentioned this painful incident, I have stated before that this incident has had an effect on Islam even until today. Although death is always attached to man, one usually does not expect death to overcome them when one is strong and healthy. When one becomes weaker and their health declines, people [around them] naturally become alert and begin to plan about the future. They do not speak about this matter between themselves, but a driving force is created that stimulates people to prepare for the future. For this reason, when a leader passes away, the people are vigilant and prepared.
“Since Hazrat Umarra was strong and healthy, despite being 63 years old, the companions could not fathom that Hazrat Umarra was soon to depart from among them. For this reason, they were completely unaware of how to prepare for the future when all of a sudden, the trial of Hazrat Umar’sra demise befell them.
“At that time, the community was not prepared to accept a new leader. Owing to this lack of preparation, the people did not develop that relationship with Hazrat Uthmanra as they should have. For this reason, Islam was in a fragile state and by Hazrat Ali’sra time, this condition became ever more precarious.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 11, pp. 240-141)
According to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, this could also have been a reason for the dissension and discord which arose later on.
During times of discord and conflict, it is necessary for a few people to stand guard. This is also mentioned by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra in relation to the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“There is a clear command of the Holy Quran that for the safety of the Muslims, half the people ought to remain on guard. Although this has been mentioned in relation to war when a group of people need to be safeguarded; however, from this one can infer that in order to protect against a smaller trial, if a few people stand guard during prayers, then this is not objectionable; rather, this will be a necessary procedure.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:
“If in times of war, 500 people out of 1,000 can stand guard, then at times when there is little danger, can five or ten people out of 1,000 not stand guard? To say that there is no active danger is a futile argument.
“What happened with Hazrat Umarra? He was leading the prayers and whilst the other Muslims were also occupied in prayer, a wretched individual thought this to be a perfect opportunity to attack. He stepped forward and struck with his dagger.
“If after this incident, someone says that standing guard during the prayers is contrary to the principles and sanctity of prayer, then such an individual only exposes his own ignorance. The example of such a person is like that of a foolish person who enters a battlefield and when an arrow hits that person, blood begins to pour out, as a result of which he runs away wiping away the blood and saying, ‘O Allah! Please let this be a dream and not really an arrow that has struck me.’ […]
“In history, we find an incident in which the companions did not take the necessary safety precautions, as a result of which they suffered greatly. When Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas went for the conquest of Egypt and he had conquered the area, when he would lead the prayers, there would be no one on guard. When the enemy saw that during this time [at prayer times], the Muslims are completely oblivious, subsequently they organised a day in which they sent a few hundred men fully armed precisely at a time when the Muslims were in prostration [sajdah]. As soon as they arrived, they began severing the heads of the Muslims. Historical accounts show that on this day, hundreds of companions were either killed or injured. One after another they would fall to the ground and this continued on. The people around them could not comprehend what was going on until the Muslims had suffered greatly.
“When Hazrat Umarra learned of this incident, he admonished them, saying, ‘Were you not aware that you ought to have ensured for guards on patrol?’ But little did Hazrat Umarra know that the same incident would take place with him whilst he would be in Medina. After this incident, the companions ensured that during the prayers, there would always be people on guard.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 16, pp. 68-69)
With regard to Hazrat Umar’sra debt, I have mentioned about it previously as well. But further details regarding this are that Hazrat Umarra enquired about his debt from his son and stated, “Abdullah bin Umar, go and see how much debt I owe.” When he checked, the total amounted to 86,000 dirhams. Hazrat Umarra said, “O Abdullah! If the wealth of Umar’s family is enough to pay for this, then pay my debt from there. If this is insufficient, then ask from the Banu Adi bin Kaab. If they are also not able to pay it off, then ask from the Quraish, but do not ask anyone else.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 257)
The companions knew that their leader, who lived a modest and simple life, never accumulated this enormous debt owing to spending on himself. They knew full well that this money was spent on the poor and needy and that was why he ended up in debt. For this reason, Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf said to Hazrat Umarra, “Why do you not take this amount from the treasury and pay off your debt?” Hazrat Umarra replied, “Heaven forbid! Do you wish that after I am gone, you and your companions say that you left your own portion for the sake of Umar? You will be able to console me now, but after me, there will be such a situation that I will not be able to escape from.”
Hazrat Umarra then said to his son, Abdullah bin Umarra, “Take on the responsibility of paying my debt.” Thus, he accepted this responsibility. Hazrat Umarra had not yet been buried when his son called some members of the shura [consultative body] and a few Christians as witnesses regarding his responsibility for paying the debt. After the burial of Hazrat Umarra, Friday had not passed when Abdullah bin Umarra took the amount owed and went to Hazrat Uthmanra. He fulfilled this responsibility in the presence of a few witnesses. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 273)
With regard to repaying of Hazrat Umar’sra debt, there is another narration mentioned in Wafa al-Wafa. Hazrat Ibn Umarra narrates that when Hazrat Umar’sra demise was imminent, he owed some debt. Hazrat Umarra called Hazrat Abdullah and Hazrat Hafsah and said, “I owe some money from the wealth given to me by Allah, and I wish to meet Allah the Almighty in a state whereby I will be free from debt. Thus, in order to pay off this debt, sell this house”, i.e. the house in which he resided. “If there is still something left to pay, then ask Banu Adi. Even then if there is an outstanding amount, ask the Quraish, but do not ask anyone else.”
After the demise of Hazrat Umarra, Hazrat Abdullahra went to Hazrat Mu‘awiyahra, who purchased the house, which was known as Dar al-Qada. Hazrat Abdullahra sold the house and paid off Hazrat Umar’sra debt. For this reason, this house became known as:
دَارُ قَضَاءِ دَيْنِ عُمَر
“The house with which Hazrat Umar’sra debt was paid off.” (Allamah Nuruddin, Wafa al-Wafa bi Akhbar Dar al-Mustafa, Vol. 1, Ch. 2 [Peshawar, Pakistan: Maktabah al-Haqqaniyyah, Mahallah Jangi], p. 222)
There are accounts remaining and, insha-Allah, I will continue to narrate them in the future.
(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 5 November 2021, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.)