Friday Sermon – Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umar r.a. ibn al-Khattab (30 July 2021)

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Friday Sermon

30 July 2021

Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umarra ibn al-Khattab

After reciting the tashahudta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:

Accounts from the life of Hazrat Umarra were being narrated and also the conquests that took place during his era. With regard to the conquest of Madain [Ctesiphon], Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahibra writes in Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets regarding a prophecy which the Holy Prophetsa made having been informed by Allah the Almighty. Referring to this, he writes: 

“While the ditch was being dug, a stone which simply refused to break was excavated. The state of the Companions was that due to three days of continuous starvation, they felt faint. Unable to succeed in this task, they came to the Holy Prophetsa and submitted, ‘There is one stone which knows no breaking.’

“At the time, the Holy Prophetsa had also tied a stone on his stomach due to hunger, but he immediately went there upon their request and lifting an axe, struck the stone, in the name of Allah. When iron hit the stone, a spark flew, upon which the Holy Prophetsa loudly said, ‘God is the Greatest!’Then he said, ‘I have been granted the keys of the kingdom of Syria. By God, at this time, I am beholding the red-stone palaces of Syria.’His strike had somewhat crushed a portion of the stone. The Holy Prophetsa wielded the axe a second time in the name of Allah, which caused a spark again, upon which the Holy Prophetsa said, ‘God is the Greatest!’ Then he said, ‘This time, I have been granted the keys of Persia, and I am witnessing the white palaces of Madain.’ Now, the rock had been broken to a large degree. The Holy Prophetsa wielded the axe yet a third time, which resulted in another spark and the Holy Prophetsa said, ‘God is the Greatest!’Then he said, ‘Now, I have been endowed the keys of Yemen, and by God, I am being shown the gates of San‘a at this time.’Finally, the rock was broken completely. 

“In another narration, it is related that on every occasion, the Holy Prophetsa would loudly proclaim the greatness of God and after the Companions would enquire, he would relate his visions. After this temporary hindrance had been removed, the Companions engaged in their work once again.” That is, after breaking the rock, they began digging the trench again. “These were visions of the Holy Prophetsa. In other words, during this time of affliction, Allah the Exalted created a spirit of hope and delight amongst the Companions by showing the Holy Prophetsa visions of the future victories and prosperity of the Muslims.

“However, apparently at the time, the circumstances were of such difficulty and hardship that upon hearing these promises, the hypocrites of Medina mocked the Muslims saying, ‘They do not even possess the strength to step out of their own homes and are dreaming of the kingdoms of Caesar and Chosroes.’ However, in the estimation of God, all of these bounties had been decreed for the Muslims. Therefore, these promises were fulfilled at their respective times. Some were fulfilled in the last days of the Holy Prophetsa, while most were fulfilled in the era of his Khulafa’, and thus, became a source of increasing the Muslims in faith and gratitude.” (Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyin, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, pp. 577-578)

The promise of the conquest of Madain was fulfilled at the hands of Hazrat Saadra during the caliphate of Hazrat Umarra. The Holy Prophetsa was shown that Madain would be conquered and this was fulfilled during the era of Hazrat Umarra. After conquering Qadisiyyah, the Muslim army went on to conquer Babylon, an ancient city of modern-day Iraq. After conquering Babylon, they reached a historical city by the name Kutha. This is situated in the surroundings of Babylon. 

Furthermore, Kutha was that very place where Nimrod imprisoned Prophet Abrahamas and the prison was still intact at that time. When Hazrat Saadra reached the place and saw the prison, he recited the following verse of the Holy Quran:

تِلۡكَ‭ ‬الۡاَيَّامُ‭ ‬نُدَاوِلُهَا‭ ‬بَيۡنَ‭ ‬النَّاسِ

“… such days We cause to alternate among men that they may be admonished …” (Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.141) 

Advancing from Kutha, they reached a place called Bahrseer. This is the name of that part of Madain – a city of Iraq – which is located at the western bank of the Tigris River. Chosroes’ hunting lion was kept in this place. When the army of Hazrat Saad approached, they unleashed the lion loose on them and it pounced on them with a ferocious roar. The brother of Hazrat Saadra, Hashim bin Abi Waqqas, was the chief of the vanguard of the army. He struck the lion with such force that it was killed instantly. Following this, the battle of Madain ensued. 

Madain is also a part of Iraq and is located at a short distance from Baghdad, towards the southern bank of the Tigris river. What is the reason for naming this place Madain? Many cities were established here, one after another and as such, the Arabs started calling the place Madain, i.e. a group of cities. Madain was the seat of the throne of the Chosroes and home to his white palaces. The Tigris River was located between the Muslims and the people of Madain and the Persians had destroyed all the bridges crossing the river.

In Tarikh al-Tabari, it is written that Hazrat Saad searched for boats in order to cross the river. However, he realised that the Persians had already taken control of the boats. Hazrat Saad wished for the Muslims to cross the river, but out of compassion for the Muslims, he did not order them to do so. Subsequently, some villagers told them how to cross the river and showed them that if they go from a certain place, they will be able to cross it easily. However, Hazrat Saad did not take up this suggestion either. In the meantime, the river overflowed. 

One night, he was shown a dream that the horses of the Muslims entered the water and crossed the river, even though it was overflown. In order to fulfil this dream, Hazrat Saadra made a firm resolve to cross the river and said to the army: “O Muslims! The enemy has taken the river as its refuge. Come and let us swim across it!” 

Having said this, he led his horse into the water. The soldiers of Hazrat Saadra followed their leader and led their horses into the water as well and the Muslim army crossed the river. When the opposing army witnessed this scene, they started screaming out of fear and retreated saying:

ديوان‭ ‬آمدند‭ !‬ديوان‭ ‬آمدند‭!‬

“Demons are coming! Demons are coming!”

The Muslims advanced and captured the city and also the palaces of Chosroes. Chosroes had already relocated his family members prior to the Muslims entering the city. As such, the Muslims easily captured the city. In this manner, the prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa was fulfilled, which was vouchsafed to him on the occasion of the Battle of Ahzab [Confederates]; when he was digging the ditch, he struck the rock with his pickaxe and said that he was shown the white palaces of Madain falling. 

Seeing the deserted state of these palaces, Hazrat Saadra recited the following verses of Surah al-Dukhan: 

كَمۡ تَرَكُوۡا مِنۡ جَنّٰتٍ وَّ عُيُوۡنٍ وَّ زُرُوْعٍ وَّ مَقَامٍ كَرِيْمٍ وَّ نَعْمَةٍ كَانُوْا فِيْهَا فٰكِهِيْنَ كَذٰلِكَ ۟ وَ اَوۡرَثۡنٰهَا قَوۡمًا اٰخَرِيۡنَ

“How many were the gardens and the springs that they left behind! And the cornfields and the noble places! And the comforts wherein they took delight! Thus [it was destined to be]. And We made another people inherit these things.” (Surah al-Dukhan, Ch.44: V.26-29)

Hazrat Saadra ordered for the royal treasure and jewels to be gathered in one place. In this treasure were memorials of kings – which numbered in the thousands – among which were coats of mail, swords, daggers and royal garments. There was also a golden horse, which had a silver saddle on it, rubies and emeralds were encrusted in its chest. Likewise, there was a silver camel, on which there was a golden pack saddle and a bridle coated in precious rubies. Among the spoils of war was a rug which was known as Iranian “Bahar”. Its base was of gold and contained a tree made of silver and its fruit were made from gems. The army collected all of these things, and the Muslim soldiers showed the utmost honesty and integrity [in collecting them]. From this incident one can gauge the level of honesty of the Muslim soldiers. They brought everything they found in exactly the way it was to their commander. Thus, when everything was brought and laid out, the plain was glittering from afar; and having witnessed all of this, Hazrat Saadra remarked in his astonishment, “Those who took nothing of these riches are most certainly honest to the highest degree.” 

The distribution of the spoils was carried out as per the custom and the Khumus [one-fifth of the spoils of war] was sent to the Khalifa. The rugs and ancient relics were sent in a manner that was a sight to behold; the Arabs saw the opulence and grandeur of the Persians and also the success and victory of the Muslims. When this was shown to Hazrat Umarra, he was greatly amazed by the honesty and integrity of the army. Hazrat Umarra was also astounded by the level of integrity of the soldiers. 

In Medina, there was a man named Muhallim, who was tall and handsome. Hazrat Umarra ordered that the garments of Nosherwan [King] be taken to Muhallim to wear. These garments were of various conditions. Thus, he was made to wear all the garments one by one. The people were left amazed by the beauty of these garments. Similarly, the rug by the name of “Bahar” was distributed. (Ali Muhammad al-Salabi, Sirat Amir al-Mu‘minin Umar bin Khattabra [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 2007] pp. 413-417) (Shibli Nu‘mani, Al-Faruq [Beirut, Lebanon: Idarah Islamiyah, 2004), pp. 100-103) (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2004], p. 388) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu’jam al-Buldan, Vol. 4 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-’Arabi], 553/Vol. 5, p. 88, 89)

Then there is the Battle of Jalula which took place in 16 AH. After the conquest of Madain [Ctesiphon] the Persians gathered in Jalula to begin preparing for battle once more. Upon the instructions of Hazrat Umarra, Hazrat Saadra sent Hashim bin Utbah with an army of 12,000 to face the Persians. Jalula is a city in Iraq situated on the route between Khorasan and Baghdad. This is where a battle between the Muslims and the Persians ensued. When the Muslims arrived, they surrounded the city, and this siege lasted for months. Every now and then, the Persians would come out of their fortresses to launch attacks. In this way, 80 battles took place. The Muslims wrote about the victories in Jalula to Hazrat Umarra, mentioning that Hazrat Qa‘qara was encamped in Hulwan. In this letter, permission was requested to pursue the non-Arabs, but Hazrat Umarra denied the request, i.e., permission was not granted to purchase after them. Instead he said, “I want a wall erected between the mountainous region of Sawad (Southern Iraq) and Iran so that neither the Persians come to us, nor we go to their lands. For us, the rural areas of Sawad are sufficient. I prioritise the safety and well-being of the Muslims over attaining spoils of war.” That is, he did not have any desire to collect spoils of war and safeguarding the lives of the Muslims was of greater importance.

According to one narration, Hazrat Saadra sent bowls of gold and silver and clothes as part of the spoils of war with Quza‘i bin Amr Duali, and captives with the Abu Mafazzir Aswad. 

According to another account, the spoils were sent with Quza‘i and Abu Mufazzir, the details of which were sent with Ziyad bin Abi Sufyan, as he was responsible for the inventory, and he would note it all down in registers. When everything had reached Hazrat Umarra, Ziyad spoke to Hazrat Umarra about all the details of the spoils of war. Hazrat Umarra asked, “Would you stand before the Muslims and relate to them the details which you are telling me?” Ziyad replied, “By God, there is no one in all the lands who I am more fearful of than you, so why would I not be able to speak before others?” Hence, Ziyad stood before the people and described all the details, mentioning all the achievements of the Muslims, the way in which the battles took place, and how the spoils of war were attained. He also mentioned that the Muslims wished to pursue the enemy in their land. Having heard his speech, Hazrat Umarra said that Ziyad was a very eloquent speaker. Ziyad replied, “the achievements of our army is what has made my tongue flow.” 

In one narration, it is mentioned that when the spoils were presented before Hazrat Umarra, he said, “This is such a vast amount of spoils of war that no building can contain it all, which is why I wish to distribute it right away.” Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf and Abdullah bin Arqam watched over the spoils in the open space of the mosque. The wealth was brought and placed in the open space of the mosque and these two companions kept watch over it.   

In the morning, Hazrat Umarra came to the mosque with the people. He removed the cloth from the spoils of war and saw rubies, emeralds and various precious gems. Upon seeing this Hazrat Umarra began to weep. Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra said to Hazrat Umarra: “O Leader of the Faithful! Why are you crying? By Allah, this is an occasion to be grateful.” Hazrat Umarra replied: “By Allah! The thing that made me cry is that whichever nation is granted these treasures by Allah, malice and jealousy between them increases.” That is, he was worried that owing to the riches granted to them, it could cause their brotherhood to change into jealousy and malice. “What made me weep was that whichever nation increase in their jealousy of one another, they become embroiled in civil war.” (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2012], pp. 468-471) (Ali Muhammad al-Salabi, Sirat Amir al-Mu‘minin Umar bin Khattabra [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 2007] pp. 420-421) (Shibli Nu‘mani, Al-Faruq [Beirut, Lebanon: Idarah Islamiyah, 2004), p. 104) 

One should ponder and deliberate over this statement; one should seek forgiveness regarding what Hazrat Umarra has stated. We are witnessing that the more wealth gained by the Muslims, the more it increased them in mutual hatred and jealousy. This is the case whether one looks at the Muslim nations who have an abundance of oil and the same is observed on an individual basis for those who possess other wealth; it is owing to a lack of righteousness. 

During the Battle of Madain, the Persian King Yazdegerd left the capital Madain and travelled with his family and servants to Hulwan. When Yazdegerd learnt of the defeat at Jalula, he left Hulwan and travelled to Rayy and left Khosrow Shanum, a renowned officer with a few military contingents to defend Hulwan. Hazrat Saadra stayed in Jalula and sent Hazrat Qa‘qa towards Hulwan. Qa‘qa reached Qasr-e-Shirin, which is three miles from Hulwan when Khosrow Shanum launched an attack but was defeated and as a result of which Khosrow fled. Qa‘qa reached Hulwan and declared peace for all. The chiefs of surrounding areas came and accepted Jizya and agreed to support Islam. (Shibli Nu‘mani, Al-Faruq [Beirut, Lebanon: Idarah Islamiyah, 2004), p. 106) (Al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, Waq‘at al-Qadisiyyah, p. 183, Maktabah al-Haramain, Urdu Bazar Lahore, 1437 AH)

How did the conquest of Masabzan take place? Regarding this battle, it is mentioned that Hazrat Hashim bin Utbah, who was the commander-in-chief of the army at Jalula, returned to Madain whilst Hazrat Saadra was residing there. They received news that a Persian army under the command of Azeen, son of Hormuzan, was heading towards open plains to confront the Muslims. Hazrat Saadra reported this to Hazrat Umarra. Hazrat Umarra ordered for an army to be sent under the command of Dirrar bin Khattab, with Ibn Hudhail to be sent as an advance guard and Abdullah bin Wahab Rasibi and Mudarib bin Fulana Ijli as commanders of the flanks. The Muslim army left to confront the Iranians and met the enemy near the plains of Masabzan. The battle took place at a place called Handaf and the Iranians were defeated; the Muslims advanced ahead and captured Masabzan. The residents of Masabzan began fleeing the city, but Dirrar bin Khattab invited them to live in peace within their city. They accepted the invitation and returned to their homes. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 475, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1987)

Baladhuri has stated a different narration with regard to the conquest of Masabzan; in one narration it is stated that Abu Musa Ash‘ari captured the city on the return from the Battle of Nahavand without fighting. (Maqalah ‘Tarikh Islam bi ahd Hazrat Umarra, Syed Mir Mahmood Ahmad Nasir Sahib, p. 120) (Futuh al-Buldan, Allamah Baladhari, p. 185, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2000)

In the accounts regarding the conquest of Khuzestan, it is mentioned that Khuzestan was a province of Persia. Prior to accepting Islam, Hormuzan was the governor of this province. This area and the people residing therein were known as Khuz; i.e. those residing in the mountainous area on the outskirts of Ahvaz, Fars, Basra, Wasit, and Isfahan.

In 14 AH, owing to certain military advantages, Hazrat Umarra decided to open up a small front in Iraq and sent a small army under the command of Utbah bin Ghazwan to this frontier. Initially, Basrah was used as a garrison town for the army. This army not only captured neighbouring enemy lands, but was beneficial in the military campaign in Iraq in that the Persians, who were engaged in bigger battles on the outskirts, were receiving constant news that their comrades were being defeated and were unable to go to assist them. It seems that the main objective of occupying this front and placing an army here was to stop the reinforcements and the aid reaching the Persians and also to stop them from attacking the Muslims. The commander of this army went to Hijaz in order to perform Hajj and to meet with Hazrat Umarra. In his absence, Hazrat Umarra assigned the command of the army to Hazrat Mughirah bin Shu‘bahra. Hazrat Mughirah bin Shu‘bah was accused of committing a moral offence, as a result of which Hazrat Umarra deposed him and called him to Medina for an investigation. Hazrat Umarra appointed Hazrat Abu Musara as the commander of the army in his place. Nonetheless, after investigation it was concluded that the allegation levelled against Hazrat Mughirahra was false. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1987], pp. 442-438) (Sayyid Fadl al-Rahman, Farhang-i-Sirat [Karachi, Pakistan: Zawwar Academy Publications, 2003], p. 116) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi], pp. 259-260)

There are differing opinions as to whether it was in 16 AH or 17 AH that the Muslim army continued to increase its military operations, in which the Muslims captured Ahwaz, a famous city in Khuzestan.

The historian Tabari has mentioned this conquest to have taken place in 17 AH, whereas some other narrations state this year as 16 AH. Regarding this conquest, Tabari has stated that the commander at the time of the conquest was Utbah bin Ghazwan, whereas Baladhuri has mentioned that Ahwaz was conquered prior to the return of Utbah bin Ghazwan and this battle took place under the command of Hazrat Mughirah bin Shu‘bah and Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari. It is mentioned that Hazrat Mughirah conquered Ahwaz; initially the chief of Ahwaz Bahrooz fought against the Muslims, but later formed a treaty. After a short while, Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari was appointed as the commander of the Muslim army covering the area of Basrah instead of Hazrat Mughirah. Bahrooz broke the agreement and rebelled against the Muslim army. Subsequently, Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari set forth against him and after the battle, he captured the city. This took place in 17 AH.

During the conquest of Ahwaz, the Muslim army took many prisoners, but under the orders of Hazrat Umarra they were all freed; as no one was to be made into a slave. 

In Al-Tabari it is written that the Persians would launch raids against the Muslims using two routes; the two centres used for the raids along these routes were Nehrtira and Manazir. The Muslims captured both of these centres. We find in most instances that from where Muslims were constantly troubled and attacked, later the Muslims attacked these very places and captured them. Baladhuri has written that Abu Musa Ash‘ari captured Nehrtira during the conquest of Ahwaz. After the capture of Ahwaz, he advanced towards the other centre, Manazir, and after laying a siege around the city, an intense battle took place. 

During this siege, one day, a brave Muslim by the name of Muhajir bin Ziyad was fasting and with the intention of sacrificing his life for the sake of God Almighty, he headed towards the enemy. Rabi‘, the brother of Muhajir told Abu Musa – who was the commander of the army –  that his brother was entering the battlefield while in a state of fasting. Abu Musa made an announcement that whoever is fasting should break their fast or not enter the battlefield. When Muhajir heard this announcement, he took a sip of water to break his fast and said that he had done this solely out of obedience to the commander, otherwise he was not thirsty. Saying this, he took his weapons and attacked the enemy and attained martyrdom in this battle. The people of the city severed his head and placed it on the parapet of the palace. The siege became prolonged; perhaps on the instructions of Hazrat Umarra, Hazrat Abu Musa left one contingent of the army under the command of Muhajir’s brother, Rabi‘, to continue the siege of Manazir and himself left for Sus. Rabi‘ continued fighting and eventually captured the city. Many people were taken captive; however, in light of the instructions of Hazrat Umarra, all the prisoners were released. 

Hazrat Abu Musara advanced towards Sus. Initially the people of Sus fought back, but soon after they confined themselves to the city. Eventually when they ran out of food provisions, they laid down their arms.

Regarding the details of the events leading to these conquests, Mir Mahmood Ahmad Sahib has presented his research and analyses in his thesis. He writes: 

“Tabari and Baladhuri contain many differing viewpoints, and perhaps the reason for these differences is that the Persian chiefs of these areas broke their promises and rebelled. This resulted in the Muslim army having to mobilise for battle once again and the narrations regarding the first conquest became confused with these events.” (Maqalah ‘Tarikh Islam bi ahd Hazrat Umarra, Syed Mir Mahmood Ahmad Nasir Sahib, pp. 124-127) (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1987], p. 494) (Futuh al-Buldan, Allamah Baladhari, pp. 225-226, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2000)

The campaigns that were launched for a second time were to restore peace. Nonetheless, this is a point he presented. 

Then there was the Battle of Ram Hormuz and Tustar. After the battle of Jalula, the Persian king Yazdegerd, moved from Rayy to Istakhr, a name of a place. He had not yet accepted defeat and began inciting people against the Muslims. He tried his utmost to send military reinforcements to fight against the Muslims in Khuzestan – the area where the conquests being mentioned were taking place. 

Another reason why he was fuelling the fire of war in this area was due to the campaigns against the Muslims by the chief of the area Hormuzan. Hormuzan had taken part in the Battle of Qadisiyyah and after defeat, he retreated to his hometown. He would carry out constant raids against the Muslims. (Maqalah ‘Tarikh Islam bi ahd Hazrat Umarra, Syed Mir Mahmood Ahmad Nasir Sahib, pp. 127-128) (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2012], p. 473, 494)

After the Muslims captured Jalula, the Persians gathered in Ram Hormuz under the command of Hormuzan. Ram Hormuz was a famous city on the outskirts of Khuzestan. 

On the instructions of Hazrat Umarra, Hazrat Saadra bin Abi Waqas appointed Nu‘man bin Muqarrin as the commander of the army and sent him from Kufa and also sent Hazrat Abu Musara from Basrah. He stated that when the two armies meet, the commander will be Abu Sabrah bin Ruham. When Hormuzan learnt of the army of Nu‘man bin Muqarrin, he set out to confront him and a fierce battle ensued. Hormuzan suffered defeat as a result of which he fled to Tustar. Tustar was a large city at a distance of one day’s travel from Khuzestan. Upon arriving here, Hormuzan took refuge in the city. Under the command of Hazrat Abu Sabrah, the Muslim army lay siege of Tustar, which lasted for several months. The Persian forces would repeatedly come out of the fort and launch attacks, but would then retreat back and seal the doors. There were 80 skirmishes during this battle. In the final battle, the Muslims launched a fierce attack. When the Muslims put pressure on the siege, two Persians told the Muslims about the route from where water entered the city and from where they could enter and conquer the city also. Thus, the Muslims managed to enter the city. 

In relation to this, Abu Hanifa Dinawari, the author of Akhbar Al-Tiwal has written that the siege laid by the Muslims became prolonged. One night, an honourable man belonging to the city approached Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari and offered to help them take over the city in exchange for the protection of his family and wealth. And so, Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari granted him protection. 

It is written in Futuh Al-Buldan that this particular individual also accepted Islam. He then asked Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari to send someone with him, so he could inform him as to how the Muslims could enter the fort. Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari sent Ashras bin Auf, who was a member of the Banu Shaiban tribe with him. They both passed along a small stream and entered the city. This individual then placed a cloak over Ashras bin Auf and told him to walk behind him as if he was his assistant. He led him all around the city and then took him towards the gate of the city where the guards were stood and then led him towards Hormuzan, who was holding a gathering near the entrance of the palace doors. After showing him all of this, he then led him back down the same path they had entered from. 

Upon returning, Ashras bin Auf related everything to Hazrat Abu Musa Ashari. Ashras bin Auf requested Hazrat Abu Musa Ashari to send 200 strong soldiers with him and he would kill all the guards and would then open the gates of the city for them, through which they could enter the city and join. Hence, Ashras bin Auf, along with his companions, went along the discreet path and entered the city. They killed the gatekeepers and opened the gates of the fort. Upon hearing the slogans of “Allah is the Greatest”, Hormuzan ran towards his citadel which was inside the city. The Muslims surrounded the citadel. 

Hormuzan peered from the top and stated, “I have 100 arrows in my quiver. As long as even a single arrow remains, no one will be able to lay their hand on me. If I am taken captive after this, then indeed this would be an incredible feat.” 

“What do you want then?” asked the Muslims in response. Hormuzan stated, “I will lay down my arms on the condition that the decision regarding me shall be made by Hazrat Umarra.” 

Following this, Hormuzan laid down his weapons and surrendered. Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari sent Hormuzan to Hazrat Umarra in Medina under the watch of Hazrat Anas bin Malik and Ahnaf bin Qais. As they entered the city of Medina, they put Hormuzan’s silk robe on him which had been embroidered in gold. Despite being a captive, they dressed him in elegant clothing and placed a crown made of jewels upon his head. This was so that Hazrat Umarra and the rest of the Muslims would be able to see him in his true image and also to show that they had captured such a prominent leader. They enquired from the people where Hazrat Umarra was, and were told that he was in the mosque. When they arrived at the mosque, Hazrat Umarra had placed the cloth of his turban under his head and was sleeping. Hormuzan asked where Hazrat Umarra was and they told him that he was sleeping. At the time, there was no one else apart from Hazrat Umarra in the mosque. Hormuzan asked where Hazrat Umar’sra guards and courtiers were; to which they told him that he did not require any guards nor any courtiers or aides. Upon this, Hormuzan instinctively stated that most certainly this individual seems to be a prophet. The people replied that though he was not a prophet, he followed the way of the prophets. 

Owing to this conversation, Hazrat Umarra woke up and then enquired whether he was Hormuzan, and was informed that it was him. Hazrat Umarra carefully observed his attire and then stated, “I seek refuge with Allah from the fire and implore for His help.” The people stated that this was Hormuzan and requested Hazrat Umarra to speak to him. Hazrat Umarra stated, “Certainly not! Not until he takes off his extravagant attire and the ornaments he is wearing.” Subsequently, all his extravagant clothes and jewellery were removed and a conversation with Hormuzan began. 

Hazrat Umarra stated, “Have you now witnessed the consequences of your treachery and deceit?” The battle which took place was owing to them breaking their pacts and their deceit. Hormuzan responded, “In the era of Jahiliyyah [era of ignorance prior to the advent of Islam], when God was with neither of us, we were victorious over you. However, now the help of God is with you and thus you are victorious.” This was the response Hormuzan gave to Hazrat Umarra

Hazrat Umarra stated, “The reason why you were able to overcome us was that in the era of Jahiliyyah, we were divided, and you were united.” This was another significant factor. Hazrat Umarra then stated, “You repeatedly broke your pacts, thus what excuse do you now have left?” 

As I mentioned earlier that the Muslims fought against them because they violated their treaties and they did not desire to live as peaceful neighbours. 

Hormuzan replied, “I fear that you will kill me even before I can say anything.” Hazrat Umarra told him that he need not fear, and so Hormuzan asked for some water. Water was brought in an old bowl and Hormuzan stated that he could not drink from such a bowl, and would rather die thirst. And so, water was given to him in a bowl befitting his status and upon this his hands began to tremble. Hormuzan stated, “I fear that whilst I am drinking water I will be killed.” Hazrat Umarra stated, “Until you do not finish your water, no one will cause you any harm.” Upon hearing this he threw the bowl of water onto the floor. He was very astute, and said if the condition was to drink the water, and because the Muslims are always true to their word, he said he would not drink any water and therefore threw it on the floor. Hazrat Umarra instructed that he should be given more water and that he should not be killed whilst in a state of thirst, as death was the only punishment for his crimes of violating the treaties, causing disorder and evil and instigating wars. Hormuzan responded, “I am not thirsty but merely wished to be granted protection through this.” Eventually, he revealed the truth.  After this, Hormuzan accepted Islam and took up residence in Madinah and he was given an allowance of 2,000. (Ali Muhammad al-Salabi, Sirat Amir al-Mu‘minin Umar bin Khattabra [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 2007] pp. 422-425) (Al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, pp. 188-190, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2001) (Futuh al-Buldan, Allamah Baladhari, p. 185, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2000) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Sadir, 1977], 19/Vol. 2, p. 34)

It is written in Iqd al-Farid that when Hormuzan was taken captive and brought to Hazrat Umarra, he invited him to accept Islam but Hormuzan refused. Hazrat Umarra instructed that he should be killed and just as he was about to be killed, he submitted, “O Leader of the Faithful! Grant me some water to drink.” Hazrat Umarra instructed that he be given water. When the bowl of water was placed in his hand, he asked Hazrat Umarra, “Will I remain safeguarded whilst I am drinking this water.” Hazrat Umarra stated, “Yes.” Upon this, Hormuzan threw the bowl of water and stated, “You ought to now fulfil your promise.” Hazrat Umarra stated, “I shall grant you some respite and will assess how you conduct yourself.” When the sword was taken away, Hormuzan declared: 

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَّا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ وَحْدَهٗ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَهٗ، وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهٗ وَرَسُوْلُهٗ

That is, “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and He has no partner and I bear witness that Muhammadsa is His servant and Messenger.” 

Hazrat Umarra asked Hormuzan why he did not profess his belief before, to which he replied, “O Leader of the Faithful! I feared lest people think that I became a Muslim due to the fear of the sword when it was held right above my head.” 

After this, Hazrat Umarra would consult Hormuzan whenever there was a campaign to be launched against the Persians and would implement his suggestions. Later, he also became one of the advisors of Hazrat Umarra. (Iqad al-Fareed, Vol. 2, p. 144, Dar Arqam, Beirut, 1999)

There are some who suspected that Hormuzan was involved in the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra (Maqalah ‘Tarikh Islam bi ahd Hazrat Umarra, Syed Mir Mahmood Ahmad Nasir Sahib, p. 135); however, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra did not consider this viewpoint to be correct. Whilst expounding upon the verse pertaining to qisas [retribution], Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“Once, a Muslim was brought before the Holy Prophetsa, who had killed a disbeliever that had entered into a treaty with the Muslims and was thus a subject of the Muslim government. The Holy Prophetsa ordered the death penalty as his punishment and stated, ‘Among those who fulfil their pledges, I am the most strict in honouring my pledges.’ Hence, this Muslim was given the death penalty because he had killed someone with whom they had entered into a treaty. Similarly, Al-Tabarani has also recorded a narration wherein Hazrat Alira ordered the death penalty for a Muslim who had killed a Dhimmi [non-Muslim living under Muslim rule]. There are some who say that it states in the Hadith: 

لَا‭ ‬يُقْتَلُ‭ ‬مُؤْمِنٌ‭ ‬بِكَافِرٍ

“That is, ‘A believer should not be killed in retribution for killing a disbeliever.’ However, if one reflects over the whole hadith, the entire matter becomes clear. The actual words of the Hadith are: 

لَا‭ ‬يُقْتَلُ‭ ‬مُوْمِنٌ‭ ‬بِكَافِرٍ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬ذُوْعَهْدٍ‭ ‬فِيْ‭ ‬عَهْدِهٖ

“The second part of the Hadith, وَلَا‭ ‬ذُوْعَهْدٍ‭ ‬فِيْ‭ ‬عَهْدِهٖ clarifies the meaning, because if we were to take the meaning that a Muslim should not be killed in retribution for killing a disbeliever then we would have to translate the second part as‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬ذُوْعَهْدٍ‭ ‬بِكَافِرٍ, that is ‘nor should a [non-Muslim] person who has a pact [with the Muslims] be killed in retribution for killing a disbeliever.’ However, no one can accept this [interpretation]. 

“Thus, by ‘disbeliever’ here it means those disbelievers who have taken up arms against the Muslims, i.e. those who are fighting against the Muslims and not ordinary disbelievers. That is why it was stated [in the hadith] that nor should a Dhimmi disbeliever be killed in retribution for a disbeliever who is actively fighting [against the Muslims].

“Now, let us observe the practice of the Companions as they would also give the death penalty for a non-Muslim who had committed a killing. In Al-Tabari, Qumazban bin Hormuzan relates the incident of his father’s death as follows:  

“‘Hormuzan was a Persian leader and was a Magian by faith. He was suspected to be involved in the killing of Hazrat Umarra. Subsequently, without carrying out any investigation and owing to his intense emotions, Ubaidullah bin Umar killed Hormuzan. The people of Persia had developed acquaintances with each other because, as is the case, when one travels to another land, their ethnicity becomes even more distinct. One day, Feroz, who perpetrated the killing of Hazrat Umarra met my father and he had a dagger with him at the time which had been sharpened from both sides. My father took hold of the dagger and asked him, “What do you do with this dagger?” (Since this was a land where there was peace, therefore there was no need for such a weapon). Upon this, he stated that he used it for guiding and pulling the camels along. Whilst they were both talking to each other, someone happened to see them. Later, when Hazrat Umarra was martyred, the individual [who had seen them together] claimed that he had personally witnessed Hormuzan handing over the dagger to Feroz. Upon this, Ubaidullah bin Umar, who was the youngest son of Hazrat Umarra, killed my father. When Hazrat Uthmanra became the Khalifah, he called me and handed over Ubaidullah to me. Hazrat Uthmanra stated, “O my son! He is the one who killed your father. Thus, you have a greater right over him than me, so take him and kill him.” And so, I took him and headed out of the city. On the way, whoever we would encounter would come along with us. None of them challenged my decision, instead all they would do was to request me to let him go. I addressed all the Muslims there and stated, “Do I have the right to kill him?” Everyone replied in the affirmative that this was my right and then they began to reproach Ubaidullah for the wrong he had committed. Then, I asked, “Do you have the right to free him from me?” They all responded saying, “No! Certainly not.” And again, they began to reproach Ubaidullah for he had killed my father without any evidence. Upon this, I left him for the sake of God and those people.’” After receiving many pleas and appeals, and after the answers to his questions, he says that he left the matter for the sake of Allah and the people.

“‘Out of their happiness, the Muslims raised me up on their shoulders, and by God, I reached my home on top of people’s heads and shoulders as they did not even let my feet touch the ground.’ This narration shows that it was the practice of the Companionsra they would give a Muslim who killed a non-Muslim the death penalty as well. It is also proven that no matter the method used, such a person would be killed. Similarly, it is also proven that a murderer could only be detained and given the death penalty by the state.’” 

Although in this case he had become a Muslim, even if it is a non-Muslim, from all that which has been mentioned above, the killer of a non-Muslim would be treated in the same manner as the killer of a Muslim, especially in a case where there was a treaty.

“This also shows that a murderer should be apprehended and punished by the state and no individual can carry this out on their own accord. It is evident from this narration that Ubaidullah bin Umar was apprehended by Hazrat Uthmanra and it was he who turned him over to Hormuzan’s son. It was not an heir of Hormuzan’s who launched a case against him or apprehended him.” 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra continues: 

“Here, it is necessary to address whether a murderer should be handed over to the heirs of the one who has been murdered in order to be punished, as was done by Hazrat Uthmanra, or should the state see to the punishment itself? It should be remembered that this is a subsidiary matter and Islam has left it to be determined according to the needs of the time. The country can adopt whatever it deems most effective based on its society and conditions. There is no doubt that these two methods are only beneficial under specific circumstances.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, pp. 359-361)

These accounts are ongoing and insha-Allah, I will continue to narrate them in future sermons. At present, I wish to mention some deceased members after which I will also lead their funeral prayers in absentia. 

The first mention is of respected Professor Syeda Naseem Saeed Sahiba, wife of Muhammad Saeed Sahib, and daughter of Hazrat Al-Haj Hafiz Doctor Syed Shafee Sahib, a researcher from Delhi. She passed away recently at the age of 88 in Pakistan.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّآ‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

Her father was Hazrat al-Haj Hafiz Doctor Syed Shafee Ahmad Sahibra, a researcher from Delhi. He authored many books and was an excellent debater, researcher and a reputable journalist. He published 16 newspapers from Delhi. Hazrat Shafee Syed Ahmad Sahibra pledged allegiance to the Promised Messiahas at the age of 12. He was from the progeny of the sub-continents renowned Sufi poet Khawaja Mir Dard. He was thus related to Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra. Hazrat Syed Shafee Ahmad Sahibra was the nephew of Hazrat Amma Jaanra

Syeda Sahiba was married in 1957 to respected Muhammad Saeed Ahmad Sahib, an engineer from Lahore Chaoni. Her daughter, Khalida Sahiba says, “Whilst settling the marriage of my parents, my maternal grandmother kept the condition of righteousness at the forefront. She only looked at the fact that at the age of 22 or 23, this young man was the qaid of a Jamaat regarding which Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra had said was inactive. But new life was breathed into it and the credit for this goes to their Qaid Muhammad Saeed Sahib and his four or five helpers. Then, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra mentioned about his service to humanity that during the recent flooding, he carried out extraordinary work and stated that he is worthy of praise. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra spoke highly of Naseem Saeed Sahiba’s husband and it was on this basis that Naseem Saeed Sahiba’s mother gave her daughter’s hand in marriage to him. 

Naseem Saeed Sahiba is survived by four sons and two daughters. Her services to the faith began in 1954 when she started working with Syeda Choti Apa. These services continued until 2015, spanning approximately 61 years. Since Saeed Sahib was in the army and he would be transferred from time to time, she too would accompany him to different cities, where she would have the opportunity to serve [the jamaats there]. She too was learned and well-educated. She has about 20 publications which include stories of prophets, and she has also written various books about esteemed personalities. 

Her daughter, Hamidah Ghafoor Mannan says:

“My mother was devout, she led by example, and was an embodiment of sincerity and loyalty, devotion and sacrifice, love and compassion, and humility. I always saw her praying with great fervour. She was regular in offering the Tahajud [pre-dawn voluntary] prayers, voluntary prayers, and obligatory prayers.” 

From the time of the Second Khalifara till now, she kept a personal relationship with four Khulafa and she had the opportunity of [serving] the Community as well. She was not able to meet me here, but she would express her sentiments through letters. Her children have also written this, and I myself have seen the extraordinary sentiments in her letters when I would receive them. It was not merely words; rather, it could practically be seen that she had a sincere and loyal connection to Khilafat. May Allah Almighty enable her children to maintain this bond [with khilafat].

Her eldest son, Khalid Saeed Sahib says:

“The main thing she told us was having a connection with Allah and that our relationship with Him should always be as if Allah is like a friend before us. We should inculcate true love for the Holy Prophetsa in our hearts. She did this herself and taught her children to do the same. She had a strong spiritual connection with the Promised Messiahas herself, and instilled this within her children. She had a strong bond with Khilafat, to which she showed obedience herself and taught us to do the same. She was always ready to serve the Community. From a young age, she instilled the habit of prayer and to always act upon the Islamic teachings. She served humanity at all times and would say that we should create ease for others. She gave special attention to financial sacrifices and taught us that we ought to tend to our household expenses after having made financial sacrifices. She recited the Holy Quran daily and enjoined us to do the same. Keeping good relations with relatives and maintaining a connection with all relatives, rich or poor, was a salient attribute of hers and she would advise us to do the same. She was ever-ready to call people unto Allah. She constantly advised us to offer the Tahajud prayers. She taught us to increase our knowledge and would tell us to always smile and not to wish harm on anyone. The qualities of hospitality and honouring guests was a distinct quality of hers. May Allah Almighty grant her with forgiveness, bestow His mercy and elevate her station. May Allah enable her children to carry on these virtues. 

The next mention is of Daud Sulaiman Butt Sahib of Germany, who passed away at the age of 46 due to cancer. 

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّآ‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

Ahmadiyyat was introduced to his family through his great grandfather, Hazrat Abdul Hakeem Butt Sahib who was a Companion of the Promised Messiahas. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons. His wife, Samira Daud Sahiba says, “He was always ready to serve the Community and would strive to render his services as much as he could. He truly gave precedence to his faith over worldly pursuits.” Everyone who knew him says that he always had a smile on his face. He was at the forefront of giving alms and charity and he was always ready to serve [the Jamaat]. In Germany, he used to perform hifazat-e-khas duty, and his team members have written that he worked with great joy and carried his duty out with great diligence. Another one of his qualities was that before starting anything, he would first recite the Holy Quran. I have also witnessed that he always performed his duty in an excellent manner. May Allah the Almighty grant patience to his family and enable his children to carry on his virtuous qualities. 

The next mention is of Zahida Parveen Sahiba, wife of Ghulam Mustafa Awan Dhapai Sahib from the district of Sialkot. She passed away at the age of 61.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّآ‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

Her daughter Hibbatul Kaleem Sahiba, wife of our Missionary Jameel Tabassum Sahib in Bashkortostan, Russia, says, “By the grace of Allah, my mother was an Ahmadi by birth and was a Musia.” Ahmadiyyat was introduced to her family through her parents’ grandfather Dada Dewan Bakhsh Sahib Awan. She says, “Ever since I can remember, I have never seen her miss the Tahajjud prayer, and she always enjoined her children to have profound love for the Community and Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyyat.” She is survived by a son and four daughters. Three of her sons-in-law are life-devotees and two of her daughters who are married to missionaries were abroad with their husbands and could not be with their mother in her final moments. May Allah Almighty bestow His forgiveness and mercy upon the deceased. May He enable her children to carry on her virtuous qualities.

The next mention is of Rana Abdul Waheed Sahib from London, who was the son of Chaudhary Abdul Hai Sahib, from subdivision of Jaranwala, Faisalabad district. He passed away on 26 June due to a heart attack.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّآ‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

By the grace of Allah the Almighty, he was a musi. He worked with great devotion under Ansarullah [elders’ auxiliary organisation]. He also served as secretary ziafat [Hospitality] and secretary mal [Finance] for the Fazl Mosque [area]. He was a very hard worker and served with great joy. May Allah Almighty bestow him with forgiveness and mercy and grant his children and family patience and steadfastness.

The next mention is of Al-Haj Mir Muhammad Ali Sahib, former national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Bangladesh. He passed away at the age of 84.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّآ‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

He served in various capacities at the local and national level. From 1997 to 2003 he served as the national president of Bangladesh. Later, he served as secretary rishta nata and secretary tabligh [propagation]. From 2013 until his last days, he served as the president of the Jamaat in Dhaka. During his time as national president, the Jamaat in Bangladesh made great progress, especially in terms of acquiring properties and construction of buildings for the Jamaat. The central mission house was also built during his tenure, along with various mosques. He was pious, sincere, faithful, regular in tahajjud prayers, kind, devoted and was at the forefront of presenting financial sacrifices. He took great care of the poor and was a very helpful person. He was devoted to Khilafat and was an active servant of the Community. He is survived by two sons and a daughter. 

May Allah Almighty grant His forgiveness and mercy. May He enable his children to carry on his virtuous qualities. 

As I mentioned, after the [Friday] prayer, I will offer the funeral prayer in absentia for all the deceased members.

(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 20 August 2021, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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