The caliphate of 'Umar -III

  • Publish date:03/06/2018
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Conquest of Jerusalem, 15 AH/ 636 AD

In course of time, when Muslim troops were winning victories in Antakiyah and its suburbs, Yazeed bin Abu Sufyan  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him the governor of Damascus sent his brother, Mu'awiyah bin Abu Sufyaan  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him towards Qaisariyah (Caesarea or Kayseri) as per the Caliph's order. After a heavy toll of 80,000 Christians, the city fell to the Muslims.

Heraclius now ordered Artabun, a noted general, to gather troops in Ajnadain. Artabun kept a huge army under his direct command and two other detachments in Ramlah and Jerusalem. The opponents of Islam were well-equipped and huge in number, awaiting the arrival of the Muslim force. 'Amr bin Al-'Aas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him marched to Ajnadain to face Artabun while he dispatched Alqamah bin Hakeem Firasi and Masroor bin Al-Akki to Jerusalem and Abu 'Ayyoob Al-Maliki to Ramlah with the permission of Abu 'Ubaydah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him. A fierce battle was fought in Ajnadain. It was a conflict similar to Yarmook. Artabun could not muster courage to face 'Amr bin Al-'Aas and fled to Jerusalem and the city fell to the Muslim forces.

After the getaway of Artabun to Jerusalem, 'Amr bin Al-'Aas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him conquered Ghazzah (Gaza), Sabastiyah, Nabulus (Nablus), Ludd, Amawas, Bayt Jibreen, and Yafa (Yafo). He then proceeded to Jerusalem and tightened the siege. About the same time, Abu 'Ubaydah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him had proceeded to Palestine. The news of his arrival disheartened the besieged Christians who until then, had been defending themselves. They were left with no alternative but to accept peace negotiations. All of them knew about the readiness of the Muslims to accept a peace proposal and their easy terms. However, the Christians of Jerusalem put an unusual condition on finalizing the peace agreement. They wanted the Caliph of Islam to reach Jerusalem to write down the peace document. Even though the fall of the city was only a matter of time, Abu 'Ubaydah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him was in favor of avoiding further death and destruction, so he preferred peace to war. He wrote a letter to the Caliph describing the whole account of events with the request that his arrival in Jerusalem could win for them the city without shedding a drop of blood.

'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him convened a meeting of all the distinguished Companions and consulted them. 'Uthman  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him declared that the Christians had been struck with terror and had lost heart and that if the Caliph were to reject their request, they would be still more humiliated, and consider that the Muslims regarded them with utter contempt, they would lay down their arms unconditionally. 'Ali  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him however, dissented from this view and gave the contrary opinion; and 'Umar shared the same opinion.

'Umar's journey to Palestine

On this historic mission to Jerusalem, a bag full of parched barley meal, a camel, a slave, and a wooden cup were all the belongings of 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him the Chief of the Muslims, when he left Al-Madeenah, the headquarters of Islam. Leaving 'Uthman  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him in charge of Al-Madeenah, he set out on the journey noted for its strain and stress.

It was a unique scenario of Islamic equality and human dignity, that at times, the Caliph sat on the camel and the slave walked along holding the rein of the camel and at other times, vice versa. It was the journey of a magnificent and powerful Islamic ruler whose cavalry had already trampled down palaces and crowns and thrones under the hooves of its horses. It was Rajab 16 AH (After Hijrah), when Mada'in and Antakiyah (Antioch) had been conquered.

The commanders of the Muslim forces at Damascus and Jerusalem had already been informed about the movement of the Caliph of Islam. Thus Yazeed bin Abu Sufyan, Abu 'Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah and Khalid bin Al-Waleed  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them received the Caliph of Islam with exemplary honor. However, when 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him saw them arrayed in brilliant dresses and imposing appearance, he flew into a fit of rage at the sight of them and remarked: "Within the short span of two years have you fallen into Persian habits?" However, when the officers explained that they had their weapons beneath their luxurious dresses and they had not lost their Islamic character, the Caliph gained peace of heart.

The Caliph stayed for a long while at Jabiah, where some of the nobles of the city proceeded to see him and the treaty was drawn up there. The elite of the Companions like Khalid bin Al-Waleed, 'Amr bin Al-'Aas, ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf and Mu'awiyah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them subscribed to it.

The Conquest of Egypt

During 'Umar's stay in Jerusalem, 'Amr bin Al-'Aas had obtained his consent for launching an attack on Egypt. 'Amr  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him marched to Egypt at the head of 4000 troops. In his dispatch from Al-Madeenah, the Caliph of Islam put before Muqawqis, the king of Egypt, three conditions: accept Islam or pay Jizyah (poll protection tax as a sign of their surrender to Muslims) or prepare for battle. The Roman general Artabun along with his entire army was in Egypt at that time. First Artabun moved forward and then fled the battlefield after experiencing a decisive defeat.

Afterwards the Muslim army advanced further and laid siege around 'Ayn ash-Shams and from there dispatched two squadrons to besiege Farama and Alexandria. Both the cities fell to the Muslim troops. 'Amr bin Al-'Aas then sent Az-Zubayr bin Al-Awwam  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him to Fustat as a commander; he conquered the fortified citadel after a heavy encounter. 'Amr bin Al-'Aas attacked Alexandria, which fell after a siege of three months.

The Summary of Conquests

The area of conquests during the Caliphate of 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him is said to have spread over 2,2,500,000 square miles. This was the result of victories won by people who were once considered “small and wretched” against the mighty empires of Persia and Rome. The conquests of the Caliph 'Umar include Persia, Iraq, Jazeerah, Khurasan, Baluchistan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Armenia. The provinces carved out by 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him himself in 22 AH, were Makkah, Al-Madeenah, Syria, Jazirah, Basrah, Kufah, Egypt, Palestine, Khurasan, Azerbaijan and Persia. Some of them were equal to two provinces in area, with two centers of power and separate governors and their administrations.

Firsts accomplished by 'Umar   

'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him invented and enforced many things in the sphere of financial, political, administrative and social spheres, which are accomplishments first instituted by him. Some of them are mentioned below:

·       He set up a formal Bayt-ul-Mal or public treasury and introduced the Hijri calendar

·       He adopted the appellation of Ameer Al-Mu'mineen (Commander of the Faithful)

·       He established a regular department for the military; a separate department for financial affairs, and fixed the salaries for men in voluntary services.

·       He also introduced the practice of measuring the land and keeping its record, adopted a census system, he had canals dug and populated cities like Koofah, Basrah, Jeezah, Fustat (Cairo) and delineated provinces out of the occupied territories.

·       He was first to allow traders of rival countries to enter Muslim territories for the purpose of business.

·       He was also the first to make use of the whip for corporal punishment and set up a prison and police department.

·       He introduced a system of collecting direct information concerning states and conditions of the masses, he established a secret intelligence service.

·       He had wells bored, built houses and fixed a daily payment for the destitute among the Christians and the Jews.

Martyrdom of 'Umar Al-Farooq

'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him was one day walking in Al-Madeenah when a Persian youth, named Fayrouz who was known by the patronymic `Abu-Lu'lu'ah, met him. That youth was a slave under Al-Mugheerah bin Shu'bah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him and had been taken captive after the conquest of Nahawand. He complained to the Commander of the Faithful about his master, saying that he had imposed upon him a very heavy tax. 'Umar asked him about his job, and he answered that he worked as a carpenter, a blacksmith and a house painter. Then 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him remarked that the tax his master had imposed upon him was quite fair, but the youth was not happy with that remark, and went away full of indignation.

The next day when the people assembled in the mosque to perform the morning prayer, Fayrouz came into the mosque armed with a poisonous dagger. As the ranks of the congregation were put straight and in order, and 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him came up and took his position at the head of the ranks to lead the prayer, Fayrouz suddenly rushed from the first rank and struck 'Umar six consecutive blows, one of which fell below his navel.

He was wounded on Wednesday, Thul-Hijjah 27, 23 AH, died, and was buried on Muharram 1, 24 AH. His term as Caliph was ten and a half years. Suhayb  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him led his funeral prayer. 'Ali, Az-Zubayr, 'Uthman, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin ‘Awf and 'Abdullah bin 'Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them lowered his body into the grave and performed the burial service.

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