Friday Sermon – Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umar r.a. ibn al-Khattab (9 July 2021)


Friday Sermon

9 July 2021

Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umarra ibn al-Khattab

Capture 5

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

Accounts from the life of Hazrat Umarra were being narrated. 

With regard to the establishment of the department for qaza [arbitration], it is mentioned in a narration that Hazrat Umarra formally established a department for qaza. Courts were established in all the provinces and the qazis [judges] were also appointed. Furthermore, Hazrat Umarra legislated various injunctions related to the system of qaza. (Al-Faruq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 195 to 198, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

Qazis were appointed from amongst those who held expertise in the field of fiqh [jurisprudence]. However, Hazrat Umarra would not consider this to be enough; in fact, he would also assess their knowledge and would set a substantial amount for their salaries, lest they issued a wrong decision. Hazrat Umarra would appoint the qazis from among the affluent and honourable people so that they would not become overawed by anyone when issuing their verdicts. Hazrat Umarra would always instruct to uphold equality and justice in the courts. On one occasion, Hazrat Umarra had a disagreement with Hazrat Ubayra bin Kaab over something. Subsequently, Hazrat Ubayra  took his case to the court of Hazrat Zaidra bin Thabit. Zaidra invited Hazrat Umarra and Ubayra and showed great respect to Hazrat Umarra, but upon this, Hazrat Umarra stated, “This is the first injustice you have committed.” And after saying this, he went and sat next to Ubayra. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 199 to 200, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

In other words, he stated that they were both present in the capacity of two equal parties in a case and therefore should be considered as such and be given a seat next to each other and it should not be the case that he be shown respect [in a preferential manner]. 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has related this incident and states:

“Once, the Second Khalifara had a disagreement with Ubayra bin Kaab over something. The matter was presented before a judge and he called Hazrat Umarra. Since he was the Khalifa of the time, he gave his seat as a mark of respect. Hazrat Umarra, however, went and sat next to the opposing party in the case and said to the judge, ‘This is the first injustice you have committed because at this moment in time, there should be no distinction drawn between me and the other party.’” (Ahmadiyyat Yani Haqiqi Islam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 8, p. 300) 

Hazrat Umarra also established the department of ifta [issuing edicts]. In order to make people aware of the laws of the Shariah, he established the department of ifta. Hazrat Umarra appointed a few companions for this and stated that no one should seek a fatwa [edict] from anyone other than them. Among those who were permitted to give the fatwa were Hazrat Alira, Hazrat Uthmanra, Hazrat Muazra bin Jabal, Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf, Hazrat Ubayra bin Kaab, Hazrat Zaidra bin Thabit, Hazrat Abu Hurrairahra and Hazrat Abu Dardara. Apart from them, if anyone else issued a fatwa, they would be prohibited by Hazrat Umarra. Every so often, Hazrat Umarra would also assess the knowledge of these various muftis. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 202, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

In relation to this, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:  

“One of the departments was in relation to issuing religious edicts. After the Holy Prophetsa, during the era of the Khulafa, there was a rule that not everyone was authorised to issue  religious edicts. Hazrat Umarra took great caution in this regard, so much so that a companion, who was perhaps Abdullahra bin Mas‘ud, who was a religious scholar and an esteemed individual, once informed the people of a matter and this was also brought to the attention of Hazrat Umarra. When Hazrat Umarra came to know of this, he immediately questioned him that, “Are you the amir [leader], or has the amir appointed you to issue an edict as you please. The fact of the matter is that if everyone is authorised to issue edicts, it can cause many problems and it can become a source of great trial for the public. The reason for this is that at times, there are two different edicts regarding the same matter and both are correct.” In other words, the edicts are given according to the circumstances and if one delves into the details of the matter, then there is some flexibility and thereby depending on the situation, there will be a different edict given. “However, this becomes difficult to understand for the general public as to how both edicts can be deemed correct and as such, they fall into trial.’” (Khitab Jalsa Salana 17 March 1919, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 4, p. 404)

Similarly, Hazrat Umarra also established a police department. In order to uphold the peace in the land, a police department was established by Hazrat Umarra. This department was given authority over accountability, maintaining peace and security and overseeing matters related to the marketplace etc. That is, to oversee whether or not people were correctly adhering to the guidelines and also to help people receive their due rights if they were being usurped and to oversee other official matters until they reached the judge. The department was given authority to oversee matters related to the safety and peace [of society] and matters related to the marketplace etc. 

Hazrat Umarra also established formal prisons. Prior to this, there was no concept of prisons as such. Criminals would also receive severe punishments. Hazrat Umarra also established the treasury. Prior to the era of Hazrat Umarra, whatever wealth was received would be immediately distributed. During the time of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, a house was purchased and dedicated for the treasury. However, this remained closed as whatever wealth was received would immediately be distributed. In the 15th year after Hijra, an amount of 500,000 was received from Bahrain and upon this, Hazrat Umarra consulted the companions as to what should be done with it. One suggestion was that in the royal courts in Syria, they had a treasury. Hazrat Umarra liked this suggestion and laid the foundation for a treasury in Medina. Hazrat Abdullahra bin Arqam was appointed as the supervisor of the treasury. Later on, treasuries were established outside of Medina as well as in the headquarters of all the other provinces. Hazrat Umarra would construct buildings within a limited budget; however, he would build extremely strong and magnificent buildings for the treasuries. Later on, Hazrat Umarra also appointed security guards for the treasuries. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 203- 205, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

In other words, a formal system of security was established for this. Hazrat Umarra would personally safeguard the money of the treasury. An incident is recorded in history that a freed slave of Hazrat Uthmanra bin Affan relates that it was extremely hot one day and he was accompanying Hazrat Uthmanra and they were with his cattle at a place called Aliyah. Aliyah is a valley at a distance of four to eight miles from Medina and in the direction of Najd. Hazrat Uthmanra saw a man walking and was taking two young camels along with him. 

Upon seeing this, Hazrat Uthmanra asked, “What is the matter with that person? If he stayed in Medina and departed after the weather had cooled, it would have been better for him.” When that man approached near, the assistant of Hazrat Uthmanra relates:

“Hazrat Uthmanra said to me, ‘Find out as to who this is!’ I replied by saying, ‘It is a man draped in a cloak who is pulling two young camels.’ When the man drew nearer, Hazrat Uthmanra again asked, ‘Who is this person?’ I saw and realised that it is was Hazrat Umarra bin Al-Khattab. I submitted, ‘It is Amirul Momineen [the Leader of the Faithful].’ Hazrat Uthmanra stood up and peered out from the door when a searing gust of hot air caused him to withdraw his head, but he quickly turned in the direction of Hazrat Umarra and submitted, ‘What has compelled you to leave your home at this hour?’ Hazrat Umarra explained, ‘These two camels were left behind from among the camels for sadaqah [alms], and all other camels had been shepherded away. I wanted to take them to the pastures for fear that they may get lost and thus Allah would hold me accountable for them.’ Hazrat Uthmanra stated, ‘O Amirul Momineen, please come under the shade and have a drink of water, we are present here to serve you.” In other words, they would arrange for them to be sent. “Hazrat Umarra replied, ‘Return and rest and be seated in your shade.’” 

The freed slave of Hazrat Uthmanra continues to narrate, “I submitted, ‘We have that which is adequate for you also.’ Hazrat Umarra replied to this and said, ‘Return to your shade.’ Following this, he departed. Hazrat Uthmanra then stated: ‘Whosoever desires to observe Al-Qawiyy and Al-Ameen’”, that is, the strong and trustworthy, “‘then he should look to this man.’” 

In another narration, it is recorded that Umar bin Nafi narrates from Abu Bakr Isa, “I accompanied Hazrat Umarra bin Al-Khattab, Hazrat Uthmanra bin Affan and Hazrat Alira bin Abi Talib when charity was being collected. Hazrat Uthmanra was sat under a shade while Hazrat Alira stood near him and repeated all the things Hazrat Umarra was stating. Hazrat Umarra, undeterred by the severe heat of day, stood in the sun with two black cloaks, one used as a lower garment and the other as a head covering, while inspecting and noting down the age and colour of the camels that had been donated for charity. Hazrat Alira then said to Hazrat Uthmanra, ‘Have you heard of this saying of the daughter of Shu‘aib in Allah’s book: 

اِنَّ‭ ‬خَيْرَ‭ ‬مَنِ‭ ‬اسْتَاْجَرْتَ‭ ‬الْقَوِيُّ‭ ‬الْاَمِيْنُ

“That is, ‘The best man you can hire is the one who is strong and trustworthy’? Then, Hazrat Alira indicated toward Hazrat Umarra and said, ‘He is very strong and a trustworthy man.’” (Usdul Ghaba Fi Marifat Al-Sahaba, Vol. 3, p. 667, Dar-ul-Fikr Beirut Lebanon, 2003) (Umdahtul Qari Sharah Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 16, p. 279, Dar-e-Ihya Al-Turath Alarabi, Beirut)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra narrates an incident related to this regarding Hazrat Umarra:

“Hazrat Uthmanra recounts, ‘I was once seated in my quarters and the heat was so severe that it was difficult to even muster the strength to open the door. In the meantime, one of my assistants told me that there was a man walking outside in the scorching heat. I moved the curtains to find a man whose face was burnt by the intense heat. I replied saying that he must be a traveller, but just a few moments later, that man arrived closer to my quarters and I realised that it was Hazrat Umarra. Upon seeing him, I became concerned and went outside and asked, ‘Where are you going at this time in this intense heat?’ Hazrat Umarra said, “A camel from the treasury has been lost and I am out searching for it.”’” (Tafsir-e-Kabir Vol. 8, pp. 314-315)

This is the incident of a camel that was lost, and it was mentioned once before as well. 

Hazrat Umarra was once distributing wealth from the treasury when his daughter came and took a dirham. Hazrat Umarra stood to retrieve it from her which caused his cloak to dangle from one shoulder. Upon seeing this, the girl raced home crying and put the dirham in her mouth. Hazrat Umarra used his finger to remove the dirham from her mouth and returned it to the treasury and said, “O people, Umar and his family, whether closely related or distantly, have the same rights as any Muslim does and nothing more.” 

There is also another narration; Hazrat Abu Musara once donated a broom to the treasury and received a dirham. A young child of Hazrat Umarra passed by and Abu Musara gave that dirham to the child. Hazrat Umarra saw the dirham in the child’s hand and asked about it, and the child informed him that he received it from Abu Musara. After learning that the dirham had come from the treasury, Hazrat Umarra said, “O Abu Musara, did you not find anyone amongst the dwellers of Medina more in need than the household of Umar? Did you desire that none should be left out from the ummah of Muhammadsa but that they should seek recompense from us for this wrong?” He then returned the dirham to the treasury. (Izaalatul-Khulafa An Khilafat Al-Khualafa, translated by Istiaq Ahmad Sahib, Vol. 3, p. 286, Qadeemi Kutub Khana Araam Baagh Karachi)

In terms of general advancements, it is recorded that Hazrat Umarra did many things for the betterment and progression of the general public. For improvements in agriculture and sourcing water, he arranged for canals to be dug, of which some instances are as follows. 

Abu Musa Canal was a nine-mile-long canal which brought water from the Tigris River to Basra; Ma‘qal canal was also dug from the Tigris; Amirul Momineen canal was dug under the orders of Hazrat Umarra to join the Nile to the Red Sea. During the famine in 18 AH, Hazrat Umarra wrote to Hazrat Amrra bin Al-Aas to send aid. There was a delay in the aid reaching [Medina] due to the great distance [from Egypt]. Hazrat Umarra sent for Amrra and said to him that if the Nile was dug up to the sea, Arabia would never suffer from a famine again. When Amrra returned – as he was the governor – he dug a canal from Fustat up to the Red Sea, through which ships could reach the port of Jeddah close to Medina. This canal was 29 miles long and was prepared within six months. Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas intended to connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea. He intended to dig a canal from Farma, where the distance between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was only 70 miles and connect the two rivers. Farma was a coastal city of Egypt. However, Hazrat Umarra was worried that the pilgrims would be looted by the Greeks and did not approve of it. If Amrra bin al-Aas was granted permission, the Suez Canal, which was built later, would have been created by the Arabs.

Various buildings [were built]. Hazrat Umarra built various buildings for the ease of the people; these included mosques, courts, military cantonments, barracks, offices for the infrastructure of the country, roads, bridges, guest houses, watch posts, inns etc. Hazrat Umarra constructed springs and inns at every manzil [a distance of one day’s journey] between Mecca and Medina; he created watch posts as well. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 206- 211, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

That is, he ensured security arrangements and also ensured that there were places of rest such as hotels and inns etc. Regarding the development of cities, it is stated that during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umarra, many new cities were inhabited. Whilst populating these cities, Hazrat Umarra kept the security and economic advantages in mind. The locations of these cities demonstrated Hazrat Umar’sra command and meticulous planning in the art of war, principles of politics and development. These cities were beneficial in both times of war and peace. Hazrat Umarra would ensure that cities were constructed in those Arab lands, which bordered non-Arab lands in order to prevent a sudden attack. The location of these cities was such that was suited to the Arabs. One side of these cities would be from among the Arab lands and served as pasture grounds and the other side would be next to such non-Arab lands that consisted of lush green vegetation, where fruits, grain and other things were grown, i.e. lands that were used for agriculture. When constructing cities, Hazrat Umarra would ensure that a river or sea did not flow in the middle of it. 

Hazrat Umarra founded the cities of Basra, Kufa and Fustat. Hazrat Umarra established these cities on strong and correct foundations. He ensured the roads and pathways were spacious and wide and were exceptionally organised. This outlook demonstrated that Hazrat Umarra was an expert in this field and innovative in this regard. (Sirat Amir-ul-Momineen, Salabi, pp. 214-217, 221, Dar-ul-Marifah, Beirut, 2007)

Similarly, Hazrat Umarra established a system for the army. Hazrat Umarra organised the structure for the military. He ensured for registries to be made according to their ranks and also fixed their salaries. Hazrat Umarra divided the army into two parts: one part that would regularly partake in battle and the second part consisted of volunteers who would be called upon in time of need. Hazrat Umarra was mindful of the training of the army and issued strict orders that in occupied territories, army personnel would not be involved in trade or agriculture. The army serving in the occupied territories were not to involve themselves in any trade or agriculture business, because if they did there was a danger that they would lose their military prowess. 

These days, we see that in Muslim countries as well, army personnel are involved in trade and businesses. In fact, regarding one country, it is said that previously, when obtaining commission, officers would focus their attention on their relevant field of expertise, but now as soon as an officer receives their commission, they check where a new development or a defence colony is being made where they can secure an allotment for themselves. And for this reason, their military prowess is diminishing.

Furthermore, it is mentioned that when launching a campaign against those countries which had hotter and colder weathers, the climate would be taken into account, so that the army remained healthy and active and their health was not adversely affected. Hazrat Umarra issued strict orders for every person in the army to know swimming, horse-riding, how to use a bow and arrow and to be able to walk barefoot. After every four months, the soldiers were permitted to return home to their families and were given leave. 

In order to make them strong and tough, he ordered that the army personnel not use stirrups when mounting their horse; instead, they had to jump onto the horse. They were ordered to abstain from wearing soft clothes, avoid the sun and not to shower in hammams, as this would incline them towards ease and comforts. 

In springtime, Hazrat Umarra would order the army to be sent to lush green areas. The atmosphere and climate would be taken into account when building the army barracks as this was important that the army be sent to lush green areas so that they would remain in good health owing to the clean climate. Hazrat Umarra would be mindful of the environment and climate around them. He constructed military cantonments in every province. A military base was established in all the main areas such as Medina, Kufa, Basra, Mosul, Fustat, Damascus, Homs, Jordan and Palestine and there would always be an army on duty there. Every four months, the soldiers would be granted leave. At all times, these military bases contained 4,000 horses which were looked after. The legs of the horses were branded with the words:

جَيْشٌ‭ ‬فِيْ‭ ‬سَبِيْلِ‭ ‬اللّٰه

 “Army in the way of Allah.” 

During the Khilafat of Hazrat Umarra, the Islamic army developed new implements of war in order to aid their progress. These included implements to break down fortresses such as catapults and dabbabahDabbabah was a weapon used to break down and destroy forts. People would be seated inside it and it would be used to make holes in the walls of the fort in order to make them collapse. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 216- 218, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004) (Sirat Al-Sahaba, Vol. 1, pp. 126-127, Muin-ul-Din Nadvi, Dar-ul-Isha‘at Karachi, Pakistan, 2004) (Lisan-ul-Arab, under “D-b-b”)

Under the Islamic government, non-Muslims were granted senior positions. It was not the case that only Muslims were given key posts; in fact, non-Muslims and non-Arabs also held key positions. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“During the time of the caliphs of the Holy Prophetsa, despite the fact that various nations [under Islamic rule] were not all living peacefully, they were still granted their rights. 

“Allama Shibli, states, ‘Hazrat Umarra expanded the structure of the military in a way that there was no distinction between any nationality nor was there religious bias. The part of the army which consisted of volunteers had thousands of majusis’”, i.e. those who did not worship God, but instead worshipped the fire or the sun, “‘and were given the same salaries as the Muslims.’ There were majusis in the administration of the army as well. Similarly, he writes, ‘Greek and Romans were part of the army and 500 were present at the time of the conquest of Egypt.’”

Today, in Pakistan, they say that Ahmadis should be removed from the army as it is a sensitive position, whereas if one studies history, Ahmadi army officers have offered the most sacrifices for Pakistan. Nonetheless, these are their own schemes.

“With regard to Hazrat Umarra, it is stated that when Amrra bin al-Aas developed the city of Fustat, he divided it up in quarters. This [fair] treatment was also extended to the Jews and during the conquest of Egypt, 1,000 Jews were present in the Islamic army. Similarly, it is proven from history that people belonging to other nations were appointed as officers in the army. People belonging to other nations were even appointed as officers in times of war. In the time of Hazrat Umarra, the Iranians were appointed as officers in the army and their names are mentioned in history. 

Allama Shibli has mentioned the names of six officers: Siyah, Khusraw, Shehryar, Sheerviyah, Shahrviyah and Afrodeen. These officers would be paid from the official treasury and their names were on the payroll. After the four Khulafa [Rashideen], it is mentioned in history that in the time of Hazrat Mu‘awiyahra, a Christian by the name of Ibn Asaal was the finance minister.”

The reference which I have just read about “Afrodeen” was stated by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra in Tafsir-e-Kabir, wherein he cited a reference of Allama Shibli’s book, Al-Farooq and the same name is written in that as well. However, in Arabic books, the name is written as “Afrodheen”, with [the letter] “Dhal” as opposed to [the letter] “Dal”. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, p. 534) (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 504, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah Beirut, 1987)

Nonetheless, there is a minor difference of “Dhal” and “Dal”, but as people begin disputes over such matters, for this reason, I have given this explanation.

Similarly, market control and price control was implemented; Islam prohibited dropping prices through unlawful means and this was enforced by Hazrat Umarra

With regard to the prohibition of dropping the prices, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“Islam does not permit that prices be forced down by unlawful means. Forcing down prices is also an unlawful way of earning money because owing to this, powerful traders would force the smaller traders to sell their commodities at a lower price and would succeed in making them bankrupt. 

“In the time of Hazrat Umarra, while inspecting the market, he came across a trader from outside of Medina who was selling dried grapes at such low prices that local producers and traders could not compete with. Hazrat Umarra ordered the man to remove his produce from the market or to sell it at the price other traders were selling in Medina.” The traders of Medina were not asking for an excessive price; it was a reasonable price in line with their expenditure. 

“Hazrat Umarra ordered for him to sell it for the same price. When asked for the reasons for this order, Hazrat Umarra replied that without such an order the local merchants would have suffered a loss even though they were not charging an undue price. 

“It is true that some companions questioned the validity of this order in view of the saying of the Holy Prophetsa that market prices should not be interfered with. However, their objection was not correct, since the prohibition against state intervention in market prices issued by the Holy Prophetsa pertained to interference in the principles of supply and demand. The government should avoid undue interference, as it is harmful.” The market supply and demand adjusts itself. “It would provide no benefit to consumers while inflicting serious losses upon traders”, if this was not permitted, “but assigning prices is permitted.” (Islam Ka Iqtasadi Nizam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 18, p. 53)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has explained this in detail in another place as follows:

“Among the rights of the citizens is that the trade and dealings should not be adversely impacted. We find that Islam has not overlooked this right and therefore has prohibited one from increasing the market price and selling at a higher price. Similarly, it has also prohibited one from significantly reducing the prices in order to cause loss to others and making their businesses fail. It is wrong to bring the prices down in order to see off the competition. 

“Once, a trader was selling grapes in Medina at such a price which other traders could not afford to sell at. Hazrat Umarra was walking by at the time and admonished the trader because owing to this act of his the other traders were suffering loss. Thus, Islam has prohibited one from selling products at an extremely high price and also from significantly reducing the prices, so that neither the traders are faced with loss and nor the members of the public.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, p. 307)

In relation to organising the education system, it is mentioned that Hazrat Umarra greatly improved the education system. He established schools in all the countries [under Muslim rule] wherein the Holy Quran, hadith and fiqh were taught. The companions, who were great scholars were appointed as teachers and overseeing the moral training and a salary was also fixed for those who were appointed as teachers. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 233, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

With regard to how the Hijri calendar was established, there is a narration of Sahih Bukhari, which states that Hazrat Sahlra bin Saad reported that the companions did not start the calendar from the time of the advent of the Holy Prophetsa and nor from his demise, in fact, they started it from when the Holy Prophetsa arrived in Medina, i.e. after his migration. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 233, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

A commentator of Bukhari, Allama Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani states that according to Imam Suhaili, “The companions decided to start the calendar from the migration [of the Holy Prophetsa] based on the following words of Allah the Almighty: 

لَمَسْجِدٌ‭ ‬اُسِّسَ‭ ‬عَلَی ‬التَّقْوٰی ‬مِنْ‭ ‬اَوَّلِ‭ ‬يَوْمٍ

“‘A mosque which was founded upon piety from the very first day […]’. (Ch.9: V.108)

“Thus, the meaning of ‘from the very first day’ would be the day the Holy Prophetsa and his companions arrived in Medina; however, Allah has the best of knowledge.”  

There are various narrations with regard to why there was a need to start the Hijri calendar. Hazrat Abu Musara wrote to Hazrat Umarra and stated that they would receive letters from him, but it did not have any date on them. Upon this, Hazrat Umarra gathered the people to seek consultation on this. Allama Ibn Hajar states that in Bukhari, under the Book of Etiquettes, Hakim has related from Maimoon bin Mehran that once, a cheque was presented to Hazrat Umarra which was only valid until Sha‘ban. Upon this, Hazrat Umarra stated, “Which Sha‘ban does this refer to? The one that has passed, or the one that we are currently passing through, or the one to come?” Following this, Hazrat Umarra stated that they should form a calendar which everyone could remember. 

Ibn Sirin relates that once, a person came from Yemen and mentioned that he had observed that in Yemen, they had something which they referred to as a calendar and they wrote down the particular year and the month. Upon this, Hazrat Umarra stated that this was an excellent method and they should write it down like that as well. 

There are various narrations in regard to who started the Hijri calendar. According to one of the narrations, it was the Holy Prophetsa who instructed to note down the dates and this began from the month of Rabi‘ al-Awal. Hakim has written in his book, Al-Aqlil that it has been narrated by Ibn Shihab Zuhri: 

اَنَّ‭ ‬النَّبِيَّ‭ ‬لَمَّا‭ ‬قَدِمَ‭ ‬الْمَدِيْنَةَ‭ ‬اَمَرَ‭ ‬بِالتَّارِيْخِ‭ ‬فَكُتِبَ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬رَبِيْعِ‭ ‬الْاَوَّلِ

That is, “When the Holy Prophetsa arrived in Medina, he instructed for the dates to be written down and this began from the month of Rabi‘ al-Awal.” Allama Ibn Hajar states that this narration is “mu‘dal”, which means that it has two or more narrators missing one after the other in its chain of narrators. 

According to another narration, a calendar began to be formally written down after the Holy Prophetsa migrated to Medina. However, the more commonly known narration is contrary to these aforementioned narrations and states that the Hijri calendar started from the time of Hazrat Umarra

The author of Subul Al-Huda Wa Al-Rishad Fi Sirat Khair Al-Abad, Muhammad bin Yusuf Salehi states that Ibn Salaa states that he read in the book, Al-Shuroot by Abu Tahir Ma‘mish that the Holy Prophetsa instructed for the dates to be written down because when the Holy Prophetsa intended to send letters to the Christians in Najran, he instructed Hazrat Alira to write:

لِخَمْسٍ‭ ‬مِّنَ‭ ‬الْهِجْرَةِ

That is, “Five years after the Hijrah.” Thus, in light of this, it was the Holy Prophetsa, who was the first to write down the dates and Hazrat Umarra followed this practise of the Holy Prophetsa

According to another narration, it was Hazrat Ya‘la bin Umaiyyah, who was from Yemen, who started the practice of writing down the dates. Imam Ahmad has narrated this but the chain of narrators is broken between Amr and Ya‘la. 

According to the third narration, which is more commonly known, the Hijri calendar began in the era of Hazrat Umar’sra Khilafat. 

There are further details mentioned in relation to why the Hijri calendar began from the year of migration. 

When Hazrat Umarra sought consultation with regard to forming a yearly calendar, one of the suggestions was that it should start from the year of the Holy Prophet’ssa birth. Another suggestion was that it should start from the year he was commissioned as a prophet. And the third suggestion was that it should start from the year in which the Holy Prophetsa passed away. The fourth suggestion was that it should start from the year in which the Holy Prophetsa migrated [to Medina]. It was ultimately decided to start from the year of migration because there was a difference of opinion in regard to the exact year in which the Holy Prophetsa was born and the year he was commissioned as a prophet. The reason why they did not start it from the year in which the Holy Prophetsa passed away was because this had an element of grief and sorrow for the Muslims due to the Holy Prophet’ssa demise. Hence, the companions all agreed to start from the year of migration. The companions started the year from the month of Muharram instead of Rabi‘ al-Awal because the Holy Prophetsa had decided to migrate in the month of Muharram. The Second Bai‘at at Aqabah had taken place in the month of Dhul-Hijjah and this was what eventually led to the migration. Thus, the first lunar month which appeared after the Second Bai‘at at Aqabah and the Holy Prophetsa having decided to migrate was Muharram and therefore, it was deemed appropriate to begin the year with Muharram. 

Allama Ibn Hajar states that to start the Islamic calendar from the month of Muharram was the strongest argument in his view. (Fathul Bari, Ibn Hajar, pp. 314-315, Hadith 3934, Dar-ul-Riyan Al-Turath, Cairo, 1986) (Subul Al-Huda Wa Al-Rishad, Vol. 12, pp. 36-37, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah Beirut, 1993)

There are various opinions in relation to when the Holy Prophetsa arrived in Madinah. The Holy Prophetsa would stop at different locations on the way and arrived close to Medina in 12 Rabi‘ al-Awal in 14 Nabwi/20 September 622 CE. According to some historians, the Holy Prophetsa arrived in 8 Rabi‘ al-Awal and there are some who state that the Holy Prophetsa left in the month of Safar and arrived in Rabi‘ al-Awal. The Holy Prophetsa left Mecca on the first of Rabi‘ al-Awal and arrived in Medina on 12 Rabi‘ al-Awal. (Sirat Khatam Al-Nabiyeen, p. 23) (Sharah Al-Zarqani, Vol. 2, p. 102, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut 2012) (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 248, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

There are also various narrations in regard to when the Hijri calendar was established. According to some, it was in 16 AH, but we also find mention of 17 AH, 18 AH and 21 AH as well. (Fathul Bari, Ibn Hajar, Vol. 7, p. 315, Hadith 3934, Dar-ul-Riyan Al-Turath, Cairo, 1986) (Al-Kaafi Fi Al-Tarikh, Ibn Athir, Vol. 1, p. 13, Dar-ul-Kitab al-Arabi, Beirut, 2012) (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 248, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)

In any case, most of the people agree that the calendar was established during the era of Hazrat Umarra. 

According to most historians, Abdul Malik bin Marwan introduced the first Islamic coin. Some of the historians of Madinah have stated that the first Islamic coins were introduced in the era of Hazrat Umarra. They would have the words, “All praise belongs to Allah” inscribed on them and others had “Muhammadsa the Messenger of Allah” and “There is none worthy of worship except Allah, Who is One” inscribed on them, but they did not completely discard the coins used from the era of the Persian rulers.  

According to a research, the first Islamic coins were introduced in 17 AH in Damascus during the era of Hazrat Umarra, but they would contain the image of the Byzantine kings and Latin inscription on them. According to another narration, it was in 28 AH during the era of Hazrat Uthmanra that a purely Islamic coin was used. Initially, in the Persian lands, their original coins were used and they would have the image of the Persian kings on them, but the words, “In the name of Allah”, would be inscribed on them in Kufic script. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 250, Idaara Islamiyaat, Karachi, 2004) (Justujoo-e-Madinah, p. 310, Abdul Hamid Qadri, Oriental Publications Pakistan)

With regard to the projects started by Hazrat Umarra which are known as “Awwaliyat-e-Farooqi”, Allama Shibli Naumani writes in his book, Al-Farooq that all the various projects that were started for the first time by Hazrat Umarra have been all been listed by the historians and are known as “Awwaliyat” i.e. they were initiated by Hazrat Umarra. They are as follows: 

1. Hazrat Umarra established the bait-ul-mal [the treasury]

2. He established courts and appointed judges

3. He established the system of recording the dates and years which continues even till today

4. He initiated the use of the title of “amir-ul-mu‘mineen” [leader of the faithful] for the Khalifa of the time

5. He established an official department for the army

6. He fixed salaries for the volunteers

7. He established an official department for the treasury

8. He established a system of measuring and surveying the lands

9. He conducted a census

10. He started the work of digging canals

11. He inhabited the various cities such as Kufa, Basra, Jazira, Fustat, Mosul, etc. 

12. He divided the conquered lands into various provinces

13. He established the system of Ushoor, a tax at the rate of 1/10. Ushoor was initiated by Hazrat Umarra and it came about when the Muslims would travel to non-Muslim lands for trade and they would be charged tax at the rate of 1/10 which was the rate that was set there. Hazrat Abu Musa Asharira informed Hazrat Umarra of this and Hazrat Umarra instructed that those traders who would come to the Muslim lands should also be charged tax at the rate of 1/10

14. A tax was fixed on whatever was procured from the rivers and tax collectors were appointed

15. He gave permission for those traders who belonged to a country with whom the Muslims did not have any treaty to enter the Muslim lands and engage in trade

16. He established a system of prisons

17. He initiated the punishment of “durrah” [a form of cane] 

18. He established the practise of doing rounds at night and assessing the conditions and circumstances of the public 

19. He established the system of policing

20. He established various army barracks

21. He distinguished between the Aseel and Mujanis breed of horses, which was not previously done in the Arab land

22. He started a system of reporting

23. He built rest-houses for those travelling from Mecca to Medina

24. He established allowances for the orphans

25. He built guest houses in various cities

26. He established a rule that an Arab cannot be made a slave even if he is a disbeliever

27. He established allowances for those Christians and Jews who were facing improvised circumstances

28. He established offices

29. He assigned salaries to the teachers in schools

30. He insisted that Hazrat Abu Bakrra should start to compile the various manuscripts of the Holy Quran in its correct order [as taught by the Holy Prophetsa] and Hazrat Umarra completed this task under his own supervision

31. He established the rule of qiyas [the deduction of legal prescriptions from the Quran or sunnah by analogical reasoning.]

32. He established the system of “Aul” which is to include certain people into the share of inheritance

33. He established the Tarawih prayer to be performed in congregation

34. He considered giving three divorces at once as talaq bain [complete separation]; however, he did this as a punishment for those who engaged in this practice [of issuing three divorces at once]

35. He instituted 80 lashes for indulgence in alcohol

36. He prescribed the Zakat on horses used for trade

37. He instated Zakat upon the Christians of Banu Tha‘lab instead of Jizya

38. He initiated the system of devoted service

39. He brought everyone to a consensus regarding the number of takbir [Allah is the greatest] recited during the funeral prayer. Generally,  the prescribed way is saying three takbir, or four if one counts the first, until the last before saying salaam [ending the prayer]. The same is done today

40. He outlined guidance in relation to delivering lectures or discourse in mosques. With his permission, Tamim Dari delivered the discourse in accordance with this and this was the first lecture of its kind in Islam

41. Salaries were prescribed for imams and muazzins [callers to prayer]

42. He arranged for there to be light in the mosques at night

43. He ordained a punishment for publicly ridiculing others through writing and literature 

44. He prohibited the mention of women’s names in romantic poems, which was an ancient custom in Arabia

Allama Shibli writes that aside from these, there are many other things that were initiated by Hazrat Umarra, but he has not mentioned them as the list would become too long. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 401 – 403, 212, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 1991)

Accounts of Hazrat Umarra will continue to be mentioned in the future sermons, insha-Allah

At this time, I wish to mention some deceased members, and after the Friday prayer, I will also lead their funeral prayers.

The first mention is of respected Suripto Hadi Siswoyo Sahib of Indonesia who passed away last month at the age of 79.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

He performed bai‘at at the age of 21 and he remained extremely steadfast. He is survived by his wife and eight children. One of his sons is serving as a missionary. The deceased served as the president of the [local] jamaat on several occasions. He also served as a qazi [judge] in the dar-ul-qaza [board of arbitration] of Indonesia. He had a keen interest in tabligh; and would actively carry out tabligh. No matter the circumstances, his passion for tabligh never subsided. 

His son, Arwan Habibullah, who is a missionary, says:

“On several occasions, it so happened that he would leave his motorcycle at someone’s home and would travel many kilometres by foot for the purpose of tabligh and he would have to cross rivers and rocks in order to reach other villages, thus making the journeys very difficult. 

“My father was a hardworking man. When my father worked as a teacher, he requested the school’s principal to be allotted four days for teaching” – whatever classes there were for school should be completed in four days – “and that he be given leave on the rest of the days so that he could have more time for tabligh. Upon finishing from school on Thursday, he would go straight for tabligh and would return home on Sunday evening, or sometimes even on Monday morning.”

Basharat Ahmad Sahib, who is a missionary, writes:

“10 local jamaats of the Jamaat in the Wonosobo region of Central Java were established through him. No matter the circumstances, he made sure to offer Tahajud [pre-dawn voluntary prayer]. He met people of all backgrounds with great respect and kindness. Once, he said, ‘I wish to continue the work of tabligh until my final days. This is the key to my happiness and health.’” 

Ahmad Hidayat Sahib, who is a missionary says:

“The deceased was a very courageous preacher. He never felt afraid when he received threats from opponents, and would firmly stand up to them.” 

May Allah the Almighty grant him His forgiveness, bestow His mercy upon him and elevate his station.  

The next mention is of Chaudhary Bashir Ahmad Bhatti Sahib, son of Allah Dad Sahib Ghoro from the district of Nankana Sahib. He passed away last month at the age of 95.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

His son is Muhammad Afzal Bhatti Sahib, who is a missionary in Tanzania. He says:

“He was a born Ahmadi. He was regular in prayers and fasting. He was equitable and honest. He had profound love for Ahmadiyyat and Khilafat. He began attending the Jalsa Salanas in Qadian from a young age. In his village, people greatly feared those who would be involved in the practise of charms and amulets [to ward off evil]” as this is quite common in our countries, “and so he would tell them, ‘There is no reason to fear such people. They cannot cause you any harm against the will of Allah the Almighty.’ However, the people from the village would respond to him saying, ‘You are an Ahmadi and you don’t believe in these things, which is why they cannot harm you, but we fear them.’ 

“In 1953, when disorders began, the opponents of Ahmadiyyat held riots in our area in which they planned to burn the homes of Ahmadis. Some people went to the neighbouring village where high ranking members of his family resided, who had great influence but were non-Ahmadis, and asked them to advise their relatives who lived in that village where Ahmadis resided to leave, as they intended to set fire there the next day. Alternatively, they should renounce Ahmadiyyat, otherwise the outcome would not be good for them. And so, his relatives tried to advise him, and said that he should temporarily renounce Ahmadiyyat and could re-enter his faith after the riot had left. 

“Upon this, he said, ‘Don’t worry. We have accepted Ahmadiyyat after great thought and consideration. We will not be harmed in any way. We can be sacrificed for the sake of Ahmadiyyat, but we cannot even think to step back from our faith even for a minute.’ Subsequently, he told them that if they were unable to do anything, then that was fine, for their trust was in Allah the Almighty. Allah the Almighty arranged for it to be such that the riot stopped some distance away and scattered as they did not have the courage to proceed to their village.”

He is survived by two daughters and five sons. One of his sons, Afzal Bhatti Sahib, is a missionary of the Jamaat serving in Tanzania. Due to being in the field of duty, he was unable to partake in the funeral and burial. 

May Allah the Almighty elevate the station of the deceased and enable his progeny to carry on his virtuous qualities; may He grant patience and forbearance to the deceased’s son who could not be there. 

The next mention is of Hameedullah Khadim Malhi Sahib, son of Chaudhary Allah Rakha Malhi Sahib, from Darul Nasr Gharbi, Rabwah. He passed away at the age of 82.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

He was the grandson of Chaudhary Allah Bakhsh Bulhar Sahibra, a companion of the Promised Messiahas, and was the father of Nasrullah Malhi Sahib Shaheed, a missionary of the Jamaat. 

The deceased was regular in prayers and fasting, simple, honourable, caring for the poor and a sincere and loyal Ahmadi. During his employment, he stood firm in the face of opposition and countered it with great bravery. One of his sons is a life-devotee in Rabwah and works at the Tahir Heart Institute. May Allah the Almighty grant him His forgiveness and bestow His mercy. 

The next mention is of Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib of Peshawar who was the son of Shareefullah Khan Sahib. He passed away according to the decree of Allah at the age of 89.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

By the grace of Allah, he had devoted 1/8 of his wealth as a musi. He is survived by three daughters and seven sons. One of his daughters is Salima Sahiba, wife of Burhan Sahib who resides here in Islamabad. She writes that their family were initially non-Ahmadi. Then, in 1954, he [Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib] performed bai‘at at the hand of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and remained attached to the Jamaat and to Khilafat throughout his life. 

Her father displayed honour for his faith and a deep bond with the Jamaat. Her father performed bai‘at in 1954, prior to which he was a non-Ahmadi. Afterwards, he had the opportunity of serving the Jamaat. He was the district qaid for Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya, as well as the secretary wasaya, secretary talim-ul-Quran and served in various other posts. 

He intently studied the books of the Promised Messiahas. He had profound love for the Holy Quran and she always saw him reciting the Holy Quran. He had also memorised a significant portion of the Holy Quran. 

He was devoted to worship, virtuous, hospitable, an honest and straightforward man. He constantly recited durood sharif. He would also help others financially. One of his non-Ahmadi relatives said to him that if he left Ahmadiyyat, he would be ready to completely sacrifice himself for him. She says that her father responded to him by saying, “What need do I have for your sacrifice when I myself have already been sacrificed. Now listen to me; accept the Promised Messiahas. He who was to come has arrived, so reform yourselves [by accepting him].” 

In any case, that relative did not pay heed and eventually, all of his relatives left him, yet day by day, the deceased continued to increase in his connection with the Jamaat. 

May Allah the Almighty grant him His forgiveness, bestow His mercy and elevate his station. 

The next mention is of Sahibzada Mahdi Latif Sahib of Maryland, USA who passed away at the age of 87.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

Sahibzada Mahdi Latif Sahib was the grandson of Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed Sahibra and son of the late Sahibzada Muhammad Tayyab Latif Sahib. 

By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the late Sahibzada Mahdi Latif Sahib was a musi. He had extensively studied the books of the Promised Messiahas. He was regular in offering the five daily prayers as well as the Tahajjud prayers. He had great love for Khilafat; he was very humble and of simple nature. He had a passion for tabligh and would always advise others to preach as well. 

May Allah the Almighty grant him His forgiveness, bestow His mercy and elevate his station.

The next mention is of Faizan Ahmad Sameer, son of Shahzad Akbar Sahib; Shahzad Akbar Sahib is a worker of the private secretariat in Rabwah. Faizan, who was his son, passed away due to Covid-19 at the age of 16.

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَاِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

[Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

He was a very intelligent, quiet, honourable child. He was part of the Waqf-e-Nau scheme. He focused on his studies and would not involve himself in unnecessary activities; in fact, he did not even participate that much in sports. He was extremely well-behaved. Aside from school, he would spend most of his time at home. 

May Allah the Almighty grant patience to the parents of the deceased. His maternal grandfather, Khawaja Abdul Shakoor Sahib, has also served the Jamaat for a long time. May Allah grant the deceased His forgiveness and elevate his station. 

(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 27 July to 12 August 2021 [Jalsa Salana Number] pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions)

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