8 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:
Accounts in relation to the conquests that took place in the time of Hazrat Umarra are currently being narrated.
Allama Shibli Nomani was a biographer who has written on the life and character of Hazrat Umarra. Whilst mentioning the circumstances and reasons for the campaigns led by Hazrat Umarra, he writes:
“Any historian would wonder how a handful of desert dwellers managed to overthrow the Persian and Byzantine empires. Was this an exceptional event in the history of the world? And what were the circumstances surrounding it? Can these events be likened to the conquests of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan? How much influence did the guidance of Khilafat have in what was accomplished?
“I wish to answer these questions at this time, but prior to this, it is necessary to summarise the magnitude and breadth of the Farooqi conquests [conquests of Hazrat Umar Farooqra].
“The total area of the land conquered by Hazrat Umarra amounted to 2,251,030 square miles; extending 1,036 miles to the north of Mecca, 1,087 miles to the east and 483 miles to the south. These are the results of the conquests of Hazrat Umarra alone, which span a period of just over 10 years. This brief historical background just mentioned is necessary to understand these conquests.
“Nonetheless, I will mention the thoughts of European historians about these conquests. For the answer to the first question, European historians say that both the Persian and Byzantine empires had already begun to decline and were past the pinnacle of what they had already achieved. As the law of nature dictates, they were bound to fall.”
Allama Shibli Nomani further states:
“After the rule of Khosrow II, the system of governance in Persia fell apart because there was no one competent enough to lead. High ranking officials and members of the government began to conspire, due to which there was a continuous change in leadership. In a span of three to four years, the throne changed hands between six to seven different rulers.
“Another reason [for the success of Hazrat Umarra], as presented by European historians, is that before the rule of King Nausherwan, the Mazdakite sect, which was inclined towards atheism and disbelief, was exerting great influence. Their ideology was that all hearts should be purged of selfishness and other animosities and all possessions, in which they included women, should be considered as mutual property – all for the sake of purifying religion.” In other words, there was no respect and regard given to women.
“This was the viewpoint of this faction. And for some, this was a collective scheme aimed at reforming and purifying the Zoroastrian faith. King Nausherwan did manage to suppress this rising faction by the use of the sword but was unable to eliminate it.
“When the Muslims came to conquer Persia, this sect considered the Muslims as their supporters because the Muslims did not interfere with any religion.” This is the viewpoint of European historians.
He further writes:
“Among the Christians [Byzantines], there was the Nestorian sect which had trouble finding refuge under any other ruling government. They too took refuge under Muslim rule from the cruelty of their opposition. As a result, the Muslims effortlessly gained the cooperation and understanding of two large sects. Byzantine rule was already withering and there were many internal disputes among the Christians in those days. Because their system of governance was heavily influenced by religion, those internal disputes did not only affect religious ideology, but also weakened the empire.”
Refuting these views held by the European historians, Allama Shibli Nomani writes:
“Although the answers offered by European historians are not completely devoid of truth, it is an attempt to paper over the cracks – which is a distinct trait of the European writers.
“Undoubtedly, the Persian and Byzantine empires had fallen from the peak of their power, but that simply meant that they would not be able to withstand the opposition of a powerful and forceful nation. It did not at all mean that they would crumble against the unorganised and ill-equipped Arabs.
“The Byzantines and Persians were experts in the art of war. Many books written on the art of war in Greece, which are still present today, were under practice for a long time among the Byzantines. Their provisions were abundant, their equipment was superfluous, their weapons for war had great variety, the sheer size of their army would not lessen in number – and most of all – they did not have to cross any borders to fight, but had to stay in their homeland, in their own forts and trenches and defend their nation.
“Just prior to the Muslim occupation and during the rule of Khosrow Parvez [Khosrow II], Iran was at the zenith of its glory. At that time, Caesar attacked and conquered swathes of land with every attack, ultimately penetrating all the way to Isfahan (Ispahan). The regions of Syria conquered by the Persians were taken back and governance was given new order and organisation.
“It is commonly acknowledged that the Persian Empire held great power until the reign of Khosrow Parvez. There are only three to four years that separate the death of Khosrow Parvez and the Muslim invasion. How is it possible for such an old and powerful nation to become so weak in such a short amount of time?
“Naturally, there would be some disruption in organisation due to the frequent change in leadership; however, because there was no decrease in the treasury, military and revenue sectors, when Yazdegerd came into power, he was able to restore the empire to its former glory along with the help of those officials who desired reform. The Mazdakite sect was present in Iran at that time, but there is no historical record of any aid received from them at all”, i.e. the Muslims did not receive any help from them.
“Likewise, there was no help received from the Nestorian sect either. The Nestorian sect of Christianity believed that Jesusas embodied both human and divine nature separately. European historians themselves have not indicated the impact that religious differences in Christianity had on any occurrences [related to this].
“Now, examine the condition of the Arabs in contrast to this. The Muslim forces that were fighting in Egypt, Iran and in the wars against the Byzantines never totalled 100,000. They were so unfamiliar with the art of war that Yarmouk was the first battlefield where the Arabs lined their forces using the tabi‘a formation. Tabi‘a was a battle formation in which the commander-in-chief or king leading the army would be in the centre of all of his forces. This is known as the tabi‘a formation. The essential equipment necessary for each Persian soldier to wear in combat included a helmet, chainmail, chilta (iron or steel garments), Joshan or plated armour (a type of armour), baktar (set of four iron or steel plates worn on the chest, back and thighs), steel gauntlets, a metal visor (a face covering or visor made out of metal rings, attached to the helmet) and footwear.
“In comparison, the Arabs only dressed in armour, most of which was made out of leather. The opposition had all their protective equipment made from metal, while whatever little the Arabs did possess was made of leather. Even their saddle stirrups were made of wood as opposed to metal.
“From among the weapons used in warfare, the Arabs were completely unaware of a ‘gurz’ or ‘kamand’.”
Gurz is the name of a weapon which is round from the top and has a handle at the bottom. It is used to strike the heads of the enemy. Kamand is a lasso or a net or a noose.
“The Arabs used arrows, but they were so small and inferior that during the Battle of Qadisiyyah, when the Iranians saw the arrows of the Arabs for the first time, they thought they were a large needle or a spindle.”
Then explaining the actual reasons, the Allama Sahib [Shibli Nomani] writes:
“In my view, the real answer to this question is that in those days, owing to the blessings of the Holy Prophetsa the Muslims had developed a sense of passion, resolve, determination, spirit and courage, which Hazrat Umarra further strengthened and sharpened. It reached such a level that even at the peak of their power, the Byzantine and Persian empires could not contend with them.
“However, there are additional factors which did not aid in the conquests, but assisted in establishing the government. The primary factor is the truthfulness and honesty of the Muslims. Whichever place was conquered by the Muslims, the people were so impressed by the honesty and truthfulness of the Muslims that despite the difference in religion, they did not want the Muslim rule to end. Prior to the Battle of Yarmouk, when the Muslims retreated from the provinces of Syria, the Christian population cried out, ‘May God bring you back to these lands’. The Jews grabbed hold of the Torah and stated, ‘Whilst we are alive, the Caesar can never rule here.’
“The Byzantine rule in the Levant and Egypt was oppressive. For this reason, when the Byzantine faced the Muslims, they did so on the basis of the strength of their army and state, their subjects were not with them. When the Muslims crushed the power of the state, the road ahead was clear and there was nothing stopping them”, i.e. there was no opposition from the Byzantine subjects.
“The condition of Persia was somewhat different, however. Beneath the King, there were powerful governors who ruled over large regions and provinces. They did not fight for their empire; rather, they would fight for their own rule. This was the reason that despite defeating the throne of the empire, the Muslims faced obstacles at each step in Persia. But the general population there also became greatly influenced by the Muslims and after conquering the lands, they would assist greatly in establishing the government.
“Another great factor was that the Muslims first invaded Syria and Iraq, and both regions contained a large population of Arabs. In Syria, the governor of Damascus was the Ghassanids, they were loosely under the rule of Caesar. In actuality, the ruling family in Iraq were the Lakhmi tribe, but they would pay land tax to the Chosroes. Although these Arabs had become Christians and initially opposed the Muslims, the bond of being the same nation is something that cannot be ignored. The prominent chiefs of Iraq quickly became Muslim and after accepting Islam, they became the support and aid of the Muslims. In Syria, the Arabs eventually accepted Islam and freed themselves of Byzantine occupation.
“To make mention of Alexander [the Great] and Genghis [Khan] etc. would be highly inappropriate. Undoubtedly, both of them accomplished great victories, but how? They did so through [imposed] famine, brutality and mass killings. Everyone knows about Genghis Khan.
“If we compare [the Muslim conquest] with the conquests of Alexander, when Alexander conquered Sur, a city of Syria, because the people resisted for a long time, he granted blanket permission to kill everyone. The heads of 1,000 residents were hung on the outer wall of the city. Along with this, he sold 30,000 men and women that lived there into slavery. Not a single person from the old residents or those who wished to live in freedom were spared. Similarly, when he conquered Istakhr in Persia” – Istakhr was an ancient city of Persia – “he killed all the men. There were similar other merciless acts committed by him”, i.e. by Alexander the Great, “how then can one ever compare these conquests to that of the Muslims?
“It is well known that oppression and injustice can bring down an empire. This is true because oppression and brutality cannot last forever. In the same way, the empires of Alexander and Genghis did not last long. However, such merciless killings have proven effective to gain immediate results as a result of which entire countries have been subdued.
“Since a large part of the population is killed, therefore there is no danger of revolt or rebellion. It is for this reason Genghis, Nebuchadnezzar, Tamerlane, Nadir Shah and other great conquerors were all brutal and cruel. However, in the conquests of Hazrat Umarra, never was the law contravened nor any injustice committed. Let alone a blanket permission to kill the men, even a tree was not permitted to be cut. Children or the elderly were never harmed. Apart from in the battlefield, nobody was to be killed”, i.e. a person could only be killed on the battlefield and not otherwise.
“A breach of trust or deception was not permitted against the enemy. The commanders were given strict instructions that when they engaged in battle, they were not to use deception, not to mutilate the bodies of the dead, children were not to be harmed and they were to fight openly. Furthermore, the people who accepted Muslim rule but then revolted, they were reminded of their treaty and forgiven; to the extent that the people of Arbasus recanted from their treaties three times.” Arbasus was a town near the frontiers of Syria which bordered Asia Minor. “So the most he did was to exile them, but they were paid in exchange for the wealth they lost.”
Maulana Shibli Nomani further writes:
“If the Jews of Khaibar were exiled owing to their instigations and rebellion, they were compensated for the land they lost and it was written to all the provinces that wherever the Jews pass by, they ought to be assisted. Wherever they settle in a town, Jizya should not be taken from them for one year.”
He then writes:
“Those people who say that in history, there were many other conquerors who achieved similar great feats as Hazrat Umarra should demonstrate which ruler conquered even an inch of enemy land with the same level of precautions and benevolence. Furthermore, Alexander, Genghis etc. were physically present in every battle and would lead the army as commander-in-chief at every stage. This meant that aside from having an experienced commander-in-chief at hand, it would give courage to the army and they would have a natural zeal to sacrifice themselves for their master. But for the entire span of his caliphate, not once did Hazrat Umarra set foot on the battlefield. His armies were engaged on several fronts, but the reins of the army were in the grips of Hazrat Umarra.
“Another notable and substantial difference was that the conquests of Alexander and others were like that of a passing cloud; it came all of a sudden and then departed. They never established an organised government. However, the distinction of the lands conquered by Hazrat Umarra is that even after the passing of 1,300 years, they are still under Islamic rule today. And from the time of Hazrat Umarra, all structure and organisation of the country was established.”
Then mentioning Hazrat Umar’sra role in these conquests, Shibli Nomani writes:
“The answer to the last question is that according to popular belief, the Caliph [Hazrat Umarra] supposedly did not play much of a role in the conquests, in fact, it was the passion and resolve of the people at the time.”
He further writes:
“This is an opinion which in my view is completely incorrect”, i.e. the claim that the Caliph had nothing to do with the conquests.
“The same Muslims were present in the time of Hazrat Uthmanra and Hazrat Alira, but what was the result? Undoubtedly, passion and power are captivating qualities, but these qualities can only be useful when the person commanding them is equally powerful and mighty.
“There is no need for speculation or conjecture; the facts are enough to decide the matter. After analysing the details of the conquests [in Hazrat Umar’sra time], it becomes evidently clear that the Muslim army was like a marionette, that would move and strike according to the instructions of Hazrat Umarra. And the order and arrangement of the army was due to the special administration and planning of Hazrat Umarra. Hazrat Umarra himself supervised all matters, such as arranging the army, training exercises of the army, formation of barracks, training of horses, protection of forts, ordering to attack according to the warm or cold weather, organising a system of surveillance, choosing the commanders for the army and using weapons that could break forts. Establishing them with such power and authority was an attribute of Hazrat Umarra.
“In the conquest of Iraq, Hazrat Umarra himself discharged duties as if he was the commander-in-chief. When the army would depart from Medina, he would highlight each step of the way, in fact he would outline the entire route, which way they were to take and what to do at which place; he would send written instructions in accordance with this.
“When the army reached Qadisiyyah, he asked for a map of the area and arranged the army ranks according to it. Every commander would act according to the special instructions issued by Hazrat Umarra. If one studies the details of the Muslim campaigns in Iraq from Tarikh Al-Tabari, it will become evidently clear that an expert commander-in-chief was sat far away directing the army in battle and everything that transpired did so due to his instructions.
“Among the wars – that were fought over a 10-year span – the most dangerous occurrence was either in the Battle of Nahavand, when the Iranians sent their chiefs throughout the provinces of Persia in order to incite them [for war] and gathered a mighty army of over a hundred thousand to confront the Muslims.
“The second instance was when the Byzantine Emperor attacked Homs again with the help of the people of Jazirah. In both these battles, it was only the excellent strategy of Hazrat Umarra that crushed a rising storm on the one hand and demolished a mighty mountain on the other.
“After reading the details of these incidents, the claim becomes clear; that throughout all of history that we know of, there has not been a conqueror equal to Hazrat Umar Farooqra, the Great, who was a personification of both a victor and justice”, i.e. that they attained conquests and upheld justice as well. (Al-Faruq, Shibli Nomani, pp. 170-177, 287, Dar al-Isha‘ah, Karachi, 1991) (Urdu Da‘irah Ma‘arif Islamiyyah, Vol. 20, Under the word Muzdak, pp. 529-530, Shu‘bah Urdu Punjab University, Lahore) (Urdu Lughat, Under the word Nasturit, Vol. 19, p. 932, Urdu Lughat Board, Karachi) (Urdu Lughat, Under the word Ta‘biyah, Vol. 5, pp. 281-282, Urdu Lughat Board, Karachi) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 1 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah], 249-240)
With regard to the Holy Prophetsa giving tidings to Hazrat Umarra about his martyrdom, Hazrat Abdullahra bin Umar narrates that on one occasion, the Holy Prophetsa saw Hazrat Umarra wearing white clothes and asked him, “Are these clothes new or have they been washed?” Hazrat Ibn Umarra states, “I do not remember what Hazrat Umar’s reply was, but the Holy Prophetsa prayed for him in the following way, ‘Wear new clothes and live an exemplary life; may you attain the death of a martyr.’” Hazrat Ibn Umarra states, “I believe the Holy Prophetsa also said, ‘May you attain delight in this world and in the Hereafter.’” (Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Abdullah bin Umar bin al-Khattabra, Vol. 2, p. 429, Hadith 5620, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1998)
Hazrat Anasra bin Malik relates that the Holy Prophetsa, Hazrat Abu Bakrra, Hazrat Umarra and Hazrat Uthmanra climbed onto mount Uhud and it began to tremble. Upon this, the Holy Prophetsa stated, “O Uhud! Stand still for there is a prophet, siddiq [truthful] and two shaheeds [martyrs] standing upon it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fada‘il Ashab al-Nabisa, Hadith 3675)
Hazrat Ubayra bin Kaab narrates that the Holy Prophetsa stated, “Gabriel has informed me that the entire Muslim world shall mourn the death of Hazrat Umarra.” (Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir li al-Tabarani, Vol. 1, pp. 67-68, Riwayah 61, San Amr wa Wafatih fi Sanah Ikhtilaf, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, Beirut, 2002)
There is a narration from the noble wife of the Holy Prophetsa, Hazrat Hafsara, with regard to Hazrat Umar’sra desire to attain martyrdom. She states that she heard her father say:
اللّٰهُمَّ ارْزُقْنِيْ قُتْلًا فِيْ سَبِيْلِكَ وَوَفَاةً فِيْ بَلَدِ نَبِيِّكَ
“O Allah! Grant me the station of martyrdom in Your path and cause me to die in the city of the Holy Prophetsa.” Upon this, she asked, “How is this possible?” and Hazrat Umarra stated:
إِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَأْتِيْ بِأَمْرِهِ أَنّٰي شَاءَ
إِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَأْتِيْ بِأَمْرِهِ أَنّٰي شَاءَ
“Verily, Allah the Almighty bestows His decree as He wills.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 252)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has mentioned the prayer offered by Hazrat Umarra to attain the station of martyrdom. He states:
“How strong was Hazrat Umar’sra bond with Allah the Almighty! The Holy Prophetsa stated, ‘If there were a prophet after me, it would have been Umar.’ ‘After me’ here means if there were to be a prophet immediately after him. Thus, if in that era owing to the needs of the time, Allah the Almighty wanted to elevate someone from the rank of shaheed to the lofty station of prophethood, then the Holy Prophetsa deemed Hazrat Umarra to be worthy of this.
“Upon witnessing his immense sacrifices, even the staunchest opponents of Europe acknowledge the fact that seldom does one find a person who has rendered such sacrifices and who possesses such a selfless spirit. And regarding his services [for Islam] they go to such extreme lengths in their estimation that they attribute the success of Islam entirely to him. This is the same Umarra who would supplicate, ‘O Allah! Cause me to die in Madinah as a martyr.’”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:
“This supplication was born out of his intense love, otherwise it was a very dangerous prayer to seek. In other words, this prayer meant that there be such a ferocious assailant, who defeats the entire Muslim army and ultimately reaches Medina and then martyrs Hazrat Umarra there. Allah the Almighty, Who is well aware of everyone’s true intentions, fulfilled this desire of Hazrat Umarra and also safeguarded Medina from the afflictions which were discreet in this prayer and it was ultimately carried out by a Kafir [non-Muslim], who martyred him in Medina. In any case, it is evident from Hazrat Umar’sra prayer that according to him, to sacrifice one’s life in the way of God Almighty was a hallmark of those who enjoy His nearness.”
Whilst advising the Ahmadi members, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra continues:
“However, today it is considered that to have one’s life saved by Allah the Almighty is a sign of His closeness.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 17, pp. 474-475)
On another occasion, whilst mentioning the incident of Hazrat Umar’sra martyrdom and his prayer, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“With regard to Hazrat Umarra, it is written that he would always pray that his demise took place in Medina and in the form of martyrdom. How terrifying is the concept of death? At the time of death, even one’s closest relations abandon them.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra then mentioned an incident in relation to how people fear death:
“It is said that once, a lady’s daughter fell ill and she would pray, ‘O Allah, save my daughter and instead take my life.’ She was expressing great affection for her daughter.
“Incidentally, one night, it so happened that the rope of the lady’s cow loosened and it put its head in a utensil causing its head to get stuck inside it. The cow became distressed and started running uncontrollably with its head stuck in the utensil. Upon witnessing the cow in this state whereby it had something else in place of its face, the lady became frightened. She thought that perhaps her prayer was granted acceptance and the angel Azrael [angel of death] had come to take her soul and she immediately exclaimed, ‘O Azrael! I am not the one who is ill, she is ill and is lying over there.’”
In other words, she pointed towards her daughter. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further writes:
“One’s life is very precious and one would adopt all possible measures to save it.”
On the one hand, the lady was praying [for her daughter] but the moment she felt there was a real sense of danger, she immediately indicated towards her daughter and asked for her life to be taken.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:
“A person employs all possible measures to safeguard their life and exhausts themselves in trying all kinds of cures. However, the example of the noble Companionsra was such that they greatly desired to sacrifice their very lives in the way of God Almighty. Hazrat Umarra would pray that he attain the station of martyrdom in Medina.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra continues:
“I often ponder how dangerous this prayer was, because what it meant, in other words, was that the enemy takes control of Medina and martyrs Hazrat Umarra in the streets of Medina. However, Allah the Almighty accepted his prayer in such a manner that he was martyred by a person in Medina who claimed to be a Muslim.”
It is generally stated that the person who martyred Hazrat Umarra was a non-Muslim, but there are also some narrations which state that he perhaps claimed to be a Muslim. However, the majority are of the opinion that he was a non-Muslim.
In one reference, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra stated that he was a non-Muslim, but in another reference, he mentioned that this person claimed to be a Muslim. Hence, he was also not completely certain in regard to whether he was a Muslim or not.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further writes:
“According to some, he was not a Muslim. In any case, he was a slave through whom Allah the Almighty granted Hazrat Umarra martyrdom. When a person desires for something himself then it cannot be considered as an affliction for them.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 1, pp. 166-167)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra mentioned this in one of his sermons.
Then, what was the condition of the companions upon the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra?
Hazrat Abu Burdahra relates from his father that Hazrat Aufra bin Malik saw a dream whereby people had been gathered in an open plain and there was one individual among them who was elevated from the rest by a span of three hand widths. He asked who this person was and was informed that it was Umarra bin al-Khattab. Upon this, he asked as to why this person had been elevated from the rest and he was informed that the reason for this was because he possessed three qualities: he did not fear the reproach of anyone in matters relating to Allah the Almighty; he would attain martyrdom in the way of Allah the Almighty and he would be made a Khalifa.
Upon hearing this, Hazrat Aufra went to Hazrat Abu Bakrra to relate his dream, who was the Khalifa at the time, and informed him of his dream. Hazrat Abu Bakrra called Hazrat Umarra and gave him glad-tidings and then told Hazrat Aufra to relate his dream.
The narrator states that when he mentioned that he would become the Khalifa, Hazrat Umarra told him off because Hazrat Abu Bakrra was still alive. Later, when Hazrat Umarra became the Khalifa, he travelled to Syria and whilst delivering a sermon, he looked towards Hazrat Aufra and called him to come at the pulpit. Hazrat Umarra then asked him to relate his dream. Hazrat Aufra mentioned his dream and upon this, Hazrat Umarra stated:
“As far as those people are concerned who do not fear the reproach of any faultfinder, I am hopeful that Allah the Almighty will enable me to become one of those people. With regard to me becoming the Khalifa, I have already been appointed as the Khalifa and I now pray that may Allah the Almighty grant me help to fulfil the responsibility which I have been entrusted with. And with regard to me being martyred, how can I be martyred when I live in the Arab land and do not fight against the neighbouring people.”
He then stated, “But if Allah wills then he will bring about the means of my martyrdom.”
Though it was not possible in light of the apparent circumstances, if Allah willed, then he would enable it to happen in some way.
It is related from Hazrat Anasra bin Malik that Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘arira related that he saw a dream in which he set-off to travel upon various routes, but they all disappeared apart from one. Hence, he set-off on that particular route and eventually reached a mountain and saw that the Holy Prophetsa was stood on the mountain and Hazrat Abu Bakrra was standing beside him. The Holy Prophetsa was indicating for him to come and join them. Upon this, Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘arira exclaimed in his heart, “Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. By God, the Leader of the Faithful has passed away.”
Hazrat Anasra relates that he enquired from Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘arira whether he would inform Hazrat Umarra of this dream and he replied that he did not want to disclose the news of his demise to him. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], pp. 252-253)
Saeed bin Abi Hilal narrates that Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab addressed the people on a Friday. He praised Allah the Almighty which He is indeed worthy of and then stated, “O ye people! I have seen a dream whereby I feel that the time of my demise is near. I saw a red cockerel which bit me twice. I related this dream to Asma bint Umais and she interpreted this to mean that someone from among the non-Arabs will kill me.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], p. 255)
There are varying opinions as to the martyrdom of Hazrat Umarra; which day he was martyred and when he was buried. According to Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Hazrat Umarra was attacked on a Wednesday and he passed away on Thursday. Hazrat Umarra was attacked and injured on 26 Dhul Hijjah in 23 AH and he was buried in the morning on the first of Muharram 24 AH. Uthman Akhnas states that Hazrat Umarra passed away on Wednesday, 26 Dhul Hijjah. According to Abu Ma‘shar, Hazrat Umarra was martyred on 27 Dhul Hijjah. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3, San 23 A.H. [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], 278) (Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 4 [Matbu‘ah li al-Tiba‘ah wa al-Nashr wa al-Tauzi‘ wa al-I‘lan, 1997] p. 134)
In addition to Tarikh Al-Tabari and Tarikh ibn Al-Athir, the majority of the historian’s state that Hazrat Umarra was injured on 26 Dhul Hijjah in 23 AH and he passed away on the first of Muharram 24 AH and was buried the same day. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 5, Dhikr Khabr ‘an Wafat Umarra [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Fikr], p. 54) (Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, Vol. 2, p. 448, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut) (Al-Faruq, Shibli Nu’mani, p. 154, Idarah Islamiyyat, 2004)
The detailed account of Hazrat Umar’sra martyrdom has been narrated in Sahih Bukhari as follows:
Amr bin Maimoon relates that he saw Hazrat Umarra in Medina a few days prior to him being attacked. Hazrat Umarra went to Huzayfa bin Yamman and Uthman bin Hunaif and enquired what they had done with regard to the taxation of the land in Iraq as this was a responsibility entrusted to them from the Khalifa. He also asked whether they felt that they had imposed a tax on the land which was beyond the means of the people. They both stated that they had fixed a tax which was in accordance with their means. In other words, there was enough potential in the land to produce a certain amount of crop and that they did not set the tax too high.
Hazrat Umarra said, “See as to whether or not you have set a tax upon it which the people cannot bear.” The narrator says that both of them replied, “No.” Hazrat Umarra then said, “If Allah keeps me in good health, I would indeed go to the widows of Iraq and leave them in a state whereby they would be in no need of anyone after me.” The narrator says that four nights had not passed after this conversation when Hazrat Umarra was wounded.
The narrator also says that on the day that he was wounded, he was stood there and only Hazrat Abdullahra bin Abbas was between Hazrat Umarra and himself. He had a habit when passing through two rows to tell the people to straighten the rows, and when there was no longer any gap, he would step forward and recite “Allahu Akbar” [Allah is the Greatest]. At times, he would recite Surah Yusuf or Surah al-Nahl or a similar chapter in the first rak‘ah [unit of prayer] of the Fajr prayer, so that people could gather. He had only just recited “Allahu Akbar” when I heard him say, ‘I have been killed’ or, “I have been bitten by a dog. When the non-Arab assailant had attacked him, he took his double-edged knife and fled. He continued to wound whoever he passed by to his left and right, (i.e. out of fear of being caught, he would wound all those who tried to seize him with his knife), to the extent that he injured 13 people, among whom seven died.
When one of the Muslims witnessed this, he used his coat (in Sahih Bukhari the word “burnus” has been used which refers to a cloth which has a hood that covers the head, i.e. a long cloak with a sort of hat attached. It also refers to a tall hat. Nonetheless, he threw his coat on him.) When he was certain that he had been caught, he cut his own neck. Hazrat Umarra took the hand of Hazrat Abdurra Rahman bin Auf and ushered him forward.”
The narrator says that those close by Hazrat Umarra also witnessed what he had witnessed but those at the sides of the mosque only knew that they no longer heard the voice of Hazrat Umarra, so they were reciting “Subhanallah, Subhanallah!” [Holy is Allah]. Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf therefore led the people in a short prayer.
When Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf completed the prayer, Hazrat Umarra asked Hazrat Ibn Abbasra to go see who had attacked him. Hazrat Ibn Abbasra circled around for a while then came back and said it was the slave of Mughirah. Hazrat Umarra asked, “The one who is a carpenter?” Hazrat Ibn Abbasra replied in the affirmative, upon which Hazrat Umarra stated, “May Allah destroy him, I had decided to afford him good treatment. I thank Allah that I did not die at the hands of one who professes Islam.” (It is evident here too that the man was not a Muslim.)
Hazrat Umarra further stated, “O Ibn Abbas, you and your father enjoyed having as many non-Arab slaves in Medina and Hazrat Abbasra had the most slaves.” Hazrat Ibn Abbasra answered, “If you so wish, we can rid them all” that is, “If you desire, we can kill all the non-Arab slaves in Medina.” Hazrat Umarra replied, “That is not right, especially as they speak your language, face in the direction of your qiblah to pray, and they make the same pilgrimage as you do” – there were many slaves who had also accepted Islam.
He narrates that they then lifted Hazrat Umarra and took him back to his home and they also entered his house with him. It felt as though such an affliction had not befallen the Muslims before. Some would say nothing would happen [to Hazrat Umarra, whilst others would say they feared he would pass away. Eventually, he was brought some Nabidh [a drink made from raisins or dates] which he drank but it flowed out of his stomach. He was then brought some milk which he drank, but that too flowed out from his wound. The people then realised that his demise was nigh.
Amr bin Maimun states:
“We then went to him and others came too, and began praising him. A young man came and said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! Be pleased with the glad tiding of Allah which you have received on account of being a companion of the Holy Prophetsa and of accepting Islam at the beginning, as you know full well. Then you were elected as the Khalifa and you did justice, and then attained martyrdom.’ Hazrat Umarra replied, ‘I hope these affairs of mine remain balanced, whereby nothing is held against me, and nothing in my favour.’ When he was about to turn away to leave, his lower garment was touching the ground. Hazrat Umarra asked for the young man to be brought to him and said, ‘My nephew, keep your cloth up, that way it will last longer and not tear from dragging on the ground and this action is closer to righteousness in the sight of your Lord.’”
In that era, people would also unnecessarily show their pride by wearing long clothes and it was a sign of their wealth, so this is why Hazrat Umarra said that he should not develop any pride and it was closer to righteousness by doing so.
“He then asked Abdullahra bin Umar, ‘How much am I in debt?’ He calculated it and found it to be approximately 86,000 dirhams. Hazrat Umarra said, ‘If my family property can pay it off then pay from it, but if not then you should request it from Banu Adiyy bin Kaab. If their property too does not pay it off, then you should request it from the Quraish, but do not approach anyone else. You must pay this debt off on my behalf. Go to Hazrat Aishara and tell her that Umar conveys his greetings of peace. Do not say I am the leader of the faithful, for today I am not the leader of the believers. So tell her that Umar bin al-Khattab requests permission to be buried beside his two companions [i.e. the Holy Prophetsa and Hazrat Abu Bakrra].’”
It is mentioned in Umdatul-Qari, the commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari, that Hazrat Umarra said this when he was certain of his impending demise, and there was an indication in this for Hazrat Aishara that her decision should not be impacted from the title of ‘Leader of the Faithful’.
“Subsequently, Hazrat Abdullahra conveyed his greetings and asked permission to enter. He then entered the house and saw that Hazrat Aishara was sat weeping. Hazrat Abdullahra said, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab conveys greetings of peace to you and requests your permission for him to be buried by the side of his two companions.’ Hazrat Aishara replied, ‘I had reserved this space for myself, but today I shall give him precedence over myself.’ When Hazrat Abdullahra returned, Hazrat Umarra was told that Hazrat Abdullahra had arrived. He therefore asked to be lifted up and one person supported him up. Hazrat Umarra asked, ‘What news do you bring me?’ Hazrat Abdullahra answered, ‘O Leader of the Faithful, it is that which you desired. Hazrat Aishara has granted permission.’ Hazrat Umarra said, ‘All praise belongs to Allah! Nothing concerned me more than this. When I pass away, carry me there. Then convey my greetings and say that Umar bin al-Khattab requests permission. If she gives permission, you should enter the room to bury me, but if she turns me back, take me to the cemetery of the Muslims.’
“Hazrat Abudullahra stated that Hazrat Hafsah, Ummul Momineenra then came along with other women. They left when they saw them. They entered and wept there for some time. When some men had asked to enter the room, and came inside, the women went into another room and they could hear them crying from inside.
“The people said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! Appoint a successor after you as part of your will.’ Hazrat Umarra said, ‘I do not find anyone more suitable for the station of Khilafat than the following persons whom the Holy Prophetsa had been pleased with before he passed away’. Then Hazrat Umarra mentioned the names of Hazrat Alira, Hazrat Uthmanra, Hazrat Zubairra, Hazrat Talhara, Hazrat Saadra and Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf. Hazrat Umarra also stated,’ Abdullahra bin Umar will be a witness to you, but he will not be entitled to the station of Khilafat.’ Hazrat Umarra then said, ‘If Khilafat is granted to Saadra, then he will be Khalifa, otherwise whoever becomes the Khalifa should continue to seek assistance from Saadra because I have not removed him from his office owing to any incompetence or dishonesty on his part.’
“Hazrat Umarra further stated, ‘I first and foremost recommend that my successor takes care of the Muhajireen; to know their rights and to protect their honour. I also urge to show kindness to the Ansar, for they allowed faith to enter their homes in Medina even before the arrival of the Muhajireen. I recommend that he should accept the good deeds from among them and whoso is at fault from among them, they ought to be forgiven. I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns, as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and a means of frustrating the enemy. I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent.
“I also recommend that he (i.e. the next Khalifa) do good to the Arab Bedouins, as they are the natives of Arabia and they make up the core following of Islam. He should take that from among their possessions which they are not in need of and distribute it amongst their needy. I also recommend him concerning those people who are under the protection of Allah and His Messengersa, to fulfil the covenants that have been established with them and to defend them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability.’
“When Hazrat Umarra passed away, we took him and set out on foot. Hazrat Abdullahra bin Umar greeted Hazrat Aishara and said that Umar bin al-Khattab sought permission to enter. Hazrat Aishara said he should be brought in, and so he was taken in and laid beside his two friends. After his burial, the men who had been named by Hazrat Umarra gathered for the election of the next Khalifah and thus that process commenced.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fada‘il Ashab al-Nabisa, Bab Qissat al-Bai‘ah wa al-Ittifaq ala Uthman bin Affan, Hadith 3700) (Umdat al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 16, p. 292, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2001) (Lughat al-Hadith, Vol. 1, p. 137, Barnas, Nu‘mani Kutub Khana, Lahore, 2005)
These accounts are ongoing and I will continue to narrate them in the future.
Germany’s Jalsa Salana is starting today. May Allah the Almighty make it blessed. May as many German Ahmadis as possible take benefit from it.
The Jalsa will be for two days. Insha-Allah, I will deliver an address at the concluding session tomorrow which will be broadcast on MTA at about 3:30pm according to the time here [in the UK]. The remainder of the Jalsa proceedings in Germany beginning from today will be live-streamed for the Germans to watch. As such, they should take maximum benefit.
After the prayers, I will offer two funeral prayers in absentia, which I will mention now. The first funeral is of Qamaruddin Sahib, a missionary from Indonesia, who recently passed away at the age of 65.
إِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيۡهِ رَاجِعُونَ
[“Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1972 at the age of 15. After his primary education, he dedicated himself to the service of the Jamaat. Then he went to Pakistan to obtain his religious education.
On 30 June 1986, he obtained his Shahid degree and then in July 1986, he was appointed as a missionary. He used to recite the Holy Quran in a beautiful and melodious voice. He was a sincere and passionate servant of the Jamaat.
His tenure of service spanned about 35 years. His wife says:
“He used to tell me that I was not just the wife of a missionary; rather, I should be at the forefront of service to the Community.”
With regard to his obedience and love for Khilafat, she writes:
“His obedience and love for Khilafat were exceptional. He treated young and old with respect. Whenever speaking to another Ahmadi, he always enjoined love and loyalty for the Community and would encourage others to serve the Community as much as they could. Whenever he met a non-Ahmadi, he would make sure to propagate the message [of Islam Ahmadiyyat] to them and would speak to them with great love and from the heart which would make others happy. During his illness, he would wake up an hour and-a-half before Fajr [the prayer right before dawn] and would offer Tahajud [pre-dawn voluntary prayers] and would recite the Holy Quran. He would also walk to the mosque as long as he was able to.”
His son Umar Farooq Sahib, who is a missionary and professor at Jamia Ahmadiyya Indonesia, says:
“Both at home and outside, at times he would be walking and beautifully reciting some portion of the Holy Quran. He also translated and revised translations of the books of the Promised Messiahas. Especially while doing this translation work, he would often recite the qasidah [Arabic poem in praise of the Holy Prophetsa]. Whenever he related incidents from the life of the Holy Prophetsa his eyes would brim with tears.” He says, “He would often relate to me incidents of the trials, hardships and sacrifices of other Ahmadis and would also relate his own incidents of enduring hardships.”
His younger son Zafarullah says, “He was a very forbearing and brave person. He led a life of simplicity and would remain content with what he had.”
May Allah the Almighty bestow His forgiveness and mercy upon him and elevate his station.
The next funeral is of Sabiha Haroon Sahiba, wife of late Sultan Haroon Khan Sahib. She recently passed away at the age of 73.
إِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيۡهِ رَاجِعُونَ
[“Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
Sabiha Haroon Sahiba’s family was introduced to Ahmadiyyat through her father’s acceptance, who did bai‘at at the hand of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra at the age of 18 after doing his own research. Then her paternal grandfather accepted Ahmadiyyat after his son. Allah the Almighty granted her three sons and three daughters. One of her sons is the son-in-law of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh.
Her elder son Sultan Muhammad Khan says:
“My mother’s oldest son tragically passed away at the age of two. At the funeral, the Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh said that Allah the Almighty would grant her a son in his stead who would be beautiful and would live a long life. He also said to her husband, Malik Sultan that he could see their son becoming a young man standing shoulder to shoulder with him.”
Then, her son Sultan Ahmad Khan says:
“From my childhood till now, I have been very fortunate to spend a great deal of time with my mother. She was extremely loving and forgiving of mistakes. She never spoke behind anyone’s back.”
Her daughter Mahmooda Sultana says:
“My mother was pious and had a quiet disposition. She possessed many great qualities. She truly loved the Community and had a high level of love and obedience for Khilafat, and she would advise the same to others. She possessed good morals and cared for her relatives. Her hospitality was renowned in her family. She never hurt anyone’s sentiments; she had a strong aversion to backbiting and always advised us to abstain from it. If ever there was a gathering in which people were backbiting, she would leave that gathering and her displeasure would be visible from her expression. She was always forgiving.”
She says, “She never even prayed against the person who fatally attacked my father and would always say that she prayed for Allah to guide him. She had a special place in her heart for the ill who were impoverished and would help them in a very discrete manner.”
Her other daughter Wajiha Sahiba says, “She was quiet by nature and gave a great deal in alms. She would give alms discretely and did not like to mention anything about it.”
May Allah the Almighty bestow her with forgiveness and mercy and enable her children to carry on her virtuous qualities.
(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 5 November 2021, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.)