Umar ibn al-Khattab

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Umar ibn al-Khattab, al-Farooq (in Arabic, عمر بن الخطاب) (c. 581 - November, 644), sometimes referred to as Umar Farooq or just as Omar or Umar, was the second caliph of Islam (634-644). He is regarded by Sunnis as one of the first four Khulfa-e-Rashidun (in Persian and Urdu, خلفأے راشدین) (or "Rightly Guided Caliphs"). The Shi'a, however, regard him as an unprincipled usurper.


His early life

Umar was born in Mecca around 581 to the Adi clan of the Quraish tribe. He is said to have belonged to a middle class family. He was literate, which was uncommon in those times, and he was also well known for his physical strength, being a champion wrestler.

After his conversion to Islam, he remembered with shame and regret one action he committed while he was still a "pagan": he killed his young daughter. Female infanticide was an accepted practice among the Arabs. He is quoted as saying:

"I cried when I remembered digging a hole and burying my daughter. Whilst I was putting her in, she reached up and brushed dirt from my beard"

(ref 1 (, 2 (, 3 (

During Muhammads life

When Muhammad first declared his message of Islam, Umar resolved to defend the traditional religion of the Quraish (regarded by Muslims as idolatry). With his sword in his hand, he set out intending to kill Muhammad. While on his way he was told that his sister had became a Muslim. He went to her and found her reciting verses of the Qur'an. He became infuriated and gave her a slap which caused a bloody wound. His sister did not lose spirit and eventualy Umars heart softened and he converted to Islam in the same moment.

Umar was part of the first emigration (Hijra) to Yathrib (renamed Medinat al Nabi, or simply Medina shortly thereafter) in 622 C.E. (also known as year 1 A.H., Anno Hegirae, in the Islamic calendar, which was instituted by Umar in 638). He was one of the companions, or close associates of Muhammad.

Sunnis claim that The Prophet once said that "Satan amongst men amd Jinn flee from Omar". Once a hypocrite amongst the Muslims had a fight with a Jew. It is said that the Jew knew that he was right and that Muhammad would favour him. So he took the case to the prophet. As the Jew had thought, the prophet decided that the Jew was right. So the Jew was favored. The Muslim hypocrite did not like it. He took the case to Omar. When the jew narrated how the prophet had made the judgement,Omar was so enraged with the Muslim hypocrite that he punished him severely. From that day Omar was given the title"Al Faruq". It means one who can distinguish between the good and bad.

When war broke out between Mecca and Medina; Umar fought in several of the battles. The two largest sects of Muslims, the Sunni and the Shi'a, differ sharply as to his conduct during these battles.

The Sunni stress his bravery.

The Shi'a contend that he was a coward and argue that there are no reports of Umar hurting anyone or even getting hurt in any of those battles And that Umars broke a solemn promise to not flee from the enemy. The promise was given under a tree, at the peace treaty of huaibiya and was broken in the battle of Uhud when Umar fled the battle and discouraged people from entering it again. Many muslims broke that promise, not including Ali. (ref (

Another point Shias raise is that Umar publicly and loudly questioned Muhammed's authority at hudaibya . After having given an answer, not being content, he went to Abu Bakr and again questioned his authority. (ref (


In 625, Umar's daughter Hafsa was married to Muhammad. Muhammad's household was not always peaceful as the wives where in two groups ( Hafsa was included in the group that troubled Muhammad. Umar refused to take his daughter's side, but spoke sharply to her.

"Hafsa, the (news) has reached me that you cause Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) trouble. You know that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) does not love you, and had I not been (your father) he would have divorced you." (On hearing this) she wept bitterly. (ref (

Around Muhammads demise

Muhammad became ill on a in the year 632 and his health took a serious turn thursday. He then summoned his companions and anounced that he wanted to write a will. It is reported that Muhammad asked for writing materials to write a statement that would prevent the muslim nation from going astray for ever. The firt person to reply was Umar, answering that ther is no need for that arguing that Muhammad was ill and that Umar had the Quran and that was sufficient for him. In another report it is stated that the first person replying, Umar by implication, said that Muhammad was delirious and talking non-sens. This reply caused a great comotion resuliting in Muhammad rebuking Umar for calling him ill and sending him and his partisians out of the house.Umars behavior agonized ibn Abbas gravely causing him to cry at the age of 70 while recalling this event, which is the source of much controversy between Shias and Sunnis, since it is claimed that Umar prevented Muhammad from confirming in writing that Ali was the chosen successor(ref 1 (, 2 (

Two days later, at Saturday, Umar, Abu Bakr, Uthman and others, where sent away with a military detachment heading to Syria, under the Command of a 18 yeas old man named Usama ibn Zaid. Ali and manny from the [hashimi] clan where ordered to stay in Medina. Umar protested to this desicion, causing Muhammad to forbid them to abandon Zaids detachment. They left, but camped outside Medina and returened the next day.

(ref 1 (, 2 (, 3 (, 4 (

Two days after that, at monday Muhammad died.

Later, after Abu Bakr comming into power, Abu Bakr ordered Usamas dispatchment to be sent as orderd to Syria. Umar demanded that Usama was to be replaced, but Abu Bakr refused to do so. (ref (

After Muhammad

When Umar hearded this news he rushed to Muhammad and threatened anybody that said that Muahmmad is dead "to chop their head of". It is said that he initially refused to believe that Muhammad had died. Sunni and Shi'a again differ sharply about this episode. The Sunni believe that Umar was sincere and fell into despair. Shi'a insist that there was no despair, only threats aimed to delay matters so that his friend and confederate Abu Bakr could marshal support and seize the leadership of the community befor Ali was confirmed as the succesor. See Succession to Muhammad for further discussion.

However it happened, Abu Bakr took power after Muhammad. During Abu Bakr's short reign as caliph, Umar was one of his chief advisors. Abu Bakr nominated Umar as his successor prior to his death in 634. He was confirmed in the office thereafter. Ali ibn Abu Talib, whom many believed should have been the first caliph, was again passed over. Ali did not publicly protest the decision. Sunnis claim that Ali swore allegiance to Umar and that this validates Umar's rule. Shias refuse that notion and claimed that Ali simply did not make it an issue and that it only proves that Ali valued the peace and unity of the community above his own rights.

Umar's Caliphate

During Umar's reign, the Islamic empire grew at an unprecedented rate, taking Mesopotamia and parts of Persia from the Sassanids (effectively ending that empire), and taking Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa and Armenia from the Byzantines. Many of these conquests followed the watershed Battle of Yarmuk in 636 when a Muslim army of 40,000 decisively defeated a Byzantine force numbering 120,000, permanently ending Byzantine rule south of Asia Minor.

In 637, after a prolonged siege of Jerusalem, the Muslims took the city. Umar was to have entered the city in triumph, but, as the story goes, he was such a humble man that he entered the city on foot, with his servant upon his mount. He was given the key to the city by the Greek Orthodox patriarch, Sophronius, and invited to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Umar chose to pray some distance from the Church, so as not to endanger its status as a Christian temple. His circumspection was proven farsighted when fifty-five years later, the Mosque of Umar was constructed on the site where he prayed.

Umar undertook many administrative reforms and closely oversaw public policy, establishing an advanced administration for newly conquered lands, including several new ministries and bureaucracies, as well as ordering a census of all the Muslim territories. During his reign, the garrison cities of Basra and Kufa were founded. In 638 he extended and renovated the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.

Sunnis claim that Umar began the process of codifying Islamic law.

Shias argue that Umar was ill versed in Islamic law, in contrast to Ibn Abbas and Ali, something exemplified by these examples:

  • Forbade of Tayammum (, even though its in the Quran ( and he was reminded of it by Ammar ibn Yasir
  • Gave an incorrect death sentence (

Also, Shias argue that Umar innovated in religious matters when he had no authority to do so, for example:

  • Changed ( the adhan
  • Changed the number of floggings ( for drinking alcohol from 40 to 80 lashes.
  • Enforced the "triple divorce ("
  • Forbade ( temporary mariage

However, Sunnis reject that Umar forbade temporary marriage and claim that it was forbidden by Muhammad.

Shias argue that Umar's legal knowledge can be summarized by his saying:

"If Ali had not been there, Umar would have been perished O Abu'l-Hasan,! I hope I am not alive when you are not among us."

(1 ( 2 (

Sunnis claim that In 638 Umar married the Prophet's granddaughter, Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Ali and Fatima.

However, Shias dismiss that as an outright lie that has been refuted (, with the only goal being to claim that Ali and Umar where friends.

Umar was known for his simple lifestyle. Rather than adopt the pomp and display affected by the rulers of the time, he continued to live much as he had when Muslims were poor and persecuted.

Sunnis claim that this proves Umar's virtue, while Shia quote Umar ( as saying:

"I said: Messenger of Allah, supplicate the Lord that He should make (life) prosperous for your Ummah as He has made plentiful for the people of Persia and Rome"

and claim that Umar simply could not afford it at that time.


Umar died in 644, the victim of an assassin's dagger. Umar's killer (Abu-Lu'lu'ah) was a Persian slave who was angered by a personal quarrel with Umar; he stabbed the Caliph six times as Umar led prayers in the Masjid al Nabawi mosque in Medina.

Again, the Shias argue that Umar was not well versed in Muhammad's Sunnah, giving the argument that Umar forbade Hafsa and others to weep for him , believing that it would cause him to be punished in the grave. (ref 1 ( 2 (

This was due to the fact that he missunderstod Aishas hadith. (ref 1 ( 2 (

Umar died two days later, and was buried there alongside Muhammad and Abu Bakr. Uthman ibn Affan was elected as his successor.

Preceded by:
Abu Bakr


Succeeded by:
Uthman ibn Affan


The family name Farooqui (alternative spellings, Farooqi, Faruqi, etc.) is maintained by families claiming descent from Umar.

Online Books

Al Farooq - The Life of Umar The Great ( By Shams-Ul-Ulama Allama Shibli Numani (In Progress)ar:عمر بن الخطاب de:Umar ibn al-Chattab id:Umar bin Khattab it:'Omar ibn al-Khattb he:עומאר בן אלחטאב nl:Omar ibn al-Khattab ja:ウマル・イブン=ハッターブ sk:Umar ibn al-Chattb fi:Umar ibn al-Khattab

sv:Umar ibn al-Khattab


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