'Umar was from the Banu 'Adi tribe, one of the branches of the Quraysh. His mother, Hantama, was the daughter of Hashim Ibn Mughira from the Banu Makhzum clan. Banu Makhzum was another branch of the Quraysh and an ally of the Umayya in the Dark Age. Unlike Abu Bakr, 'Umar converted to Islam years after the ordainment of Prophet Muhammad (S).
Many sources say he converted in the sixth year of the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (S). Mas'udi says he converted four years before Hijra, i.e. the ninth year of the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (S).1
'Umar was present in wars and events in Medina, although history has recorded no specific memory about him. When his daughter, Hafsa, became the Prophet's wife, his relations with the Messenger of God were reinforced.
In this connection, he was like Abu Bakr. We wrote that the Prophet (S) made them brothers by contract.2 They were inseparable throughout the entire life of the Prophet (S). They held common stances in the developments of Saqifa and it was because of 'Umar's insistence on stabilizing Abu Bakr's caliphate that Imam 'Ali (a) accused him of working for his own future.3 This was well justified for others.
When Abu Bakr handed over the oath of caliphate to him and asked him to read it for the people, someone asked him, “What is in this letter?”
He replied, “I do not know for sure, but I shall be the first one to obey it!” The person said, “But I know what it is.” أمّرته عام أوّل وأمّرك العام “ The first year you appointed him caliph and the second year, he installed you as the caliph of Muslims.”4
The above quotation shows that people were aware of the political bond between these two. Apparently, people saw one way of thinking throughout the caliphate of Abu Bakr in these two persons. In other words, they believed that 'Umar's caliphate was the continuation of Abu Bakr's and that their caliphate was a single administration.
Qays Ibn Abi Hazim says, “I saw 'Umar in the mosque, with a stick of date branch in his hand trying to make people sit down. Abu Bakr's servant, named Shudayd, came to the mosque and read a message from Abu Bakr and then, 'Umar mounted the pulpit.”5 “It is true to say that Abu Bakr would not be a caliph if it were not for 'Umar.6
When Abu Bakr wanted to appoint Khalid Ibn Sa'id as commander of the army, 'Umar managed to change his mind because Khalid swore allegiance to Abu Bakr only three months after the Saqifa gathering.7 Abu Bakr used to say he loved 'Umar more than others.”8
'Umar addressed Ibn 'Abbas and said, “Indeed, if Abu Bakr did not believe me, he would set aside your share of the government, and in that case, your tribesmen (Quraysh) would hate you.”9 It was this belief in 'Umar that made Abu Bakr write an accord appointing 'Umar as his successor. Once he said, “I appointed 'Umar to succeed me because I was afraid of eruption of any tension.”10
Before the appointment of 'Umar, Abu Bakr consulted 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf. He praised the caliph and said 'Umar was a quick-tempered man. Abu Bakr said, “He shows to be so in contrast with my tender-heartedness. He will calm down when he takes power.” Abu Bakr consulted 'Uthman, too.
He said, ”'Umar's nature is better than his countenance.”11 This is all the consultation Abu Bakr made with the nobles of the Quraysh before appointing 'Umar.
'Uthman was always present in the caliph's bedside during his sickness. Abu Bakr asked him to write the contract of succession on his behalf. After the beginning of the contract was written, Abu Bakr fell into coma and 'Uthman who knew his assignment, finished the oath and wrote the name of 'Umar in it. After regaining consciousness, Abu Bakr asked 'Uthman to read what he had written.
He did so and Abu Bakr approved it.12 Following this, Talha came to Abu Bakr and said, “You witnessed how 'Umar behaves beside you and with your presence. Then, we do not know what he will do without you.” Abu Bakr was angered by his objection.13
Another quotation says the people objected to Abu Bakr for appointing a bad-tempered man to rule them.14 According to Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, Abu Bakr asked Mu'ayqab al-Rusi about the people's opinion regarding the appointment of 'Umar and he replied, “Some are satisfied, some are not.”
Abu Bakr said, “Which group is greater in number?”
He said, “Those who are dissatisfied.”
Abu Bakr said, “The truth always shows its ugly face first, but it is finally the winner.”15 'Umar, himself, in his first sermon said he was aware of the fact that some people hated his caliphate.16 Ibn Qutayba has said that after hearing the news of Abu Bakr's death, Muslims in Damascus expressed their concern over 'Umar's likely coming to power and said, “If 'Umar assumes power, he will not be our “master” and we will topple him.”17
Abu Bakr did not make any serious consultations about 'Umar's caliphate.18 He believed that many of the Muhajirun were thinking about occupying the seat of caliphate. Once he told 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf that many men of Muhajirun were yearning for the seat of caliphate since the start of his caliphate.19 In his deathbed, Abu Bakr warned 'Umar about the Muhajirun and their greed for ruling.20
Abu Bakr's act of setting an age for caliphate, the principle of “succession” became legitimate in the political jurisprudence of the Sunnites sect. However, according to Sunnites sources, this had no background in the Prophet's biography. The succession rule shares two pillars of hereditary government. In a hereditary government, the first pillar is succession and the second pillar is family and hereditary advantages. Its first pillar in the caliphate's biography took on a legitimate form. Just as Muhammad Rashid Riďa has noted, this brought about hereditary caliphate in the time of the Umayya.21
Abu Bakr's written oath practically appointed 'Umar as the caliph. Therefore, the people's allegiance could not be influential in his reign. Finally, we should say that the people's disagreement did not mean he could not be a caliph.
This was indeed a sort of swearing obedience and loyalty to caliph. 'Umar, himself, believed that Abu Bakr's selection as the caliph of Muslims was impromptu and that the government had to be undertaken at the consultation of the believers, but he sat on the seat of caliphate based on an oath. He criticized the way of selecting Abu Bakr but did not say anything about his own odd way of assuming power.
The caliph was a quick-tempered man22 and an extremist23 and both characteristics seriously affected his political and administrative career. Management to him was some kind of strictness by which he did his best to maintain control over the Bedouin Arabs. His inner being was easily detectable in his thoughts and deeds during the lifetime of the Prophet of Islam.
We know that in the war of Badr, he asked the Prophet (S) to kill all captives. His harsh treatment with Suhayl Ibn 'Amr, in the case of the Hudaybiyya peace deal, has been recorded in history. He also held extreme stances against the Hudaybiyya peace accord. On his first day of caliphate, he said, “O God! I am hot-tempered. Soften my behavior!”24
He knew he could not live without his lash. Therefore, he was the first one in Islam who took the lash of “Dirra” in his hand.25 They have said his cane was more horrendous than the sword of Hajjaj.26
As said, Talha objected to Abu Bakr as to why he imposed 'Umar upon them knowing that he is hot-tempered.27
According to Ibn Shubba, a man told 'Umar, “People are mad at you; they hate you.”
'Umar asked, ” why.”
He replied, “They complain of your tongue and cane!”28
One day, Zubayr's slave was standing in prayers after evening prayers when he saw 'Umar approaching him with his Dirra (cane). The slave fled right then but 'Umar caught him. The slave said, “I'll never do so again!”29
After the death of Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, 'Umar proposed marrying his wife but she did not accept because she believed 'Umar was ill-tempered when both leaving and entering the house.30 Even 'Ayisha who had close relations with the caliph, prevented his marriage with her sister for the same reason.31 'Abd al-Razzaq San'ani quoted Ibrahim Nakha'i as saying that some day 'Umar was passing near a group of women when he smelled a perfume.
He said, “If only I knew whose perfume this is. Then, I would know what to do with her. Women should wear perfume for their husbands only.” According to the same story, the woman who had worn perfume urinated out of fear32 and another woman who saw her had a miscarriage.33
As a matter of fact, no one dared ask a question from 'Umar and he preferred to do it through 'Uthman or someone else.34
'Umar considered the criterion of strictness in selecting his rulers for the states.35 He did not show mercy to offenders, no matter what tribe they belonged to. This made Jabala Ibn 'Ayham, a ruler of Damascus, who had committed a fault flee from Mecca to Damascus and turn away from Islam.36
Even governors and the caliph's children were not immune to his wrath. One day, he beat up one of his sons for the exquisite garment he had put on and the son burst into tears. When Hafsa objected, 'Umar said, “He was acting proudly and I punished him to belittle him.”37
He beat one of his children to death for drinking wine.38 Apparently, 'Amr Ibn 'As had lashed him in Egypt for the same reason and on his return to Medina, his father beat him to death. When he was about to die, he told his father, “You killed me!”
'Umar said, “If you should see God, tell Him we observe his punishment (Hadd) on earth.”39 His severe treatment raised public hatred and dissatisfaction. The people asked 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf to talk to him in this regard and tell him that girls fear him even in their houses.
'Umar replied, “People will not be reformed except with this method; otherwise, they will even strip me of my clothes.”40 He, himself, admitted that people feared him because of his harshness.41 In essence, the same treatments could stop public disagreement on his approach.42 When the Prophet (S) ordered men not to beat their wives, 'Umar asked the Prophet (S) to let men beat their wives like in the past but he did not accept.43
We said that 'Umar's concept of religion had made an extremist out of him. Punishing his son to death for drinking wine was one example. He was very strict towards women and did not let them attend morning and evening congregational prayers. He did not have sensible military courage but he attached special significance to Jihad.44
This is why he omitted “Hayya 'Ala Khayr al-’Amal” (Rush to the best deed) from Adhan (the call to prayers, under the pretext that people would not go to the holy war. Of course, he added a good part to Adhan and that was saying, “Prayer is better than sleep”. Iman as-Sajjad and 'Abd Allah Ibn 'Umar considered “Hayya 'Ala Khayr al-’Amal” (hasten to good deed) obligatory in Adhan45 and Abu Hanifa believed that “as-Salat Khayr min al-Nawm” (Prayer is better than sleep) should be told after Adhan because it is not part of it.46
'Umar was harsh in his conduct with people. This contradicted the fact that he tried to rule as a caliph and not as a Sultan. 'Utba Ibn Ghazwan, who served as ruler of Basra for six months only, and was indeed commander of Muslim forces in Basra made a very illustrative speech.
He points to the economic problems in the time of the Prophet of Islam and the poverty of his companions, he drew a comparison with the time of 'Umar and said each one of the companions had become an emir of a city.
“There is no prophethood not to be abolished by the “land”. I will take refuge in God when prophets turn to be “kings” and I will seek God's shelter when I feel a great man in myself but be despicable in view of people. You will soon see emirs coming after us, and you will know them soon and will deny them.”47
It was a general attitude that time and many people were sure that the caliphate would turn into kingdom. 'Umar, himself, used to say he wondered whether he was a caliph or a king. Ka'b al-Ahbar assured him he was a caliph and that he had found his name in the divine books!48 Apparently, Abu Bakr imagined himself a king.49
Despite 'Umar's harsh behavior, many dared criticize him. When Bilal was getting ready to say the Adhan, 'Umar objected to him, saying it was not time for prayers, but Bilal responded, “I knew the time when you were more astray than the ass of your tribe.”50
'Umar used to say, “Guide me if you see a fault in me.”
A Bedouin Arab replied, “We will guide you with a sword if we see a fault in you.” Hearing this, 'Umar thanked God that there was somebody in the tribe to guide him by force.51 On the contrary, 'Ayisha, daughter of 'Uthman, believed that 'Umar's roughness prevented ordinary people from criticizing him.52
'Umar himself, believed that the best policy for leading Muhammad's nation was to act with power and not by force, to be soft but not lax, to bestow but not go to extremes, and to have abstinence but without stinginess.53
His strictness showed its signs in the economic segment as well. He preferred a simple life for himself and for his functionaries and family. It appears that the Prophet's lifestyle was still common among people and some of the emirs. 'Umar had an extremist pious understanding of religion.
A sign of this was his understanding of the verses, “أَذْهَبْتُمْ طَيِّبَاتِكُمْ فِي حَيَاتِكُمْ الدُّنْيَا.” “You selfishly used your pure gifts in your worldly life,” that allows Muslims to be so. Of course, he was objected to for this and when he learned that the verse concerned infidels,54
he accepted it. His pious life did not mean that he had no wealth during his caliphate;, but rather, it has been mentioned in sources that 'Umar was among the wealthiest of the Quraysh.55
Someone asked Nafi', “Was 'Umar in debt?”
Nafi' said, “How could he be in debt when one of his inheritors, alone, sold his inheritance at 100000 dhms?56 'Umar had set his wife's marriage portion at 4000 dhms.57 Also once, he bestowed tens of thousands of dhms from his original wealth to his son-in-law.58 More pious than 'Umar was Salman who warned him against luxury life.59
With the expansion of this period's conquests, vast lands fell under the rule of the Medina government. Running these lands needed managers with new values who could open the way for more conquests. In fact, the most important point for the caliph and Muslims in those conditions was further enlarging the conquered lands.
For running the affairs of border regions, mostly those people were chosen who had enough military capability and experience. Thus, one of the main criteria of the caliph for selecting a functionary was someone with such an ability who could properly run the city and the region under his control.
A list of 'Umar's functionaries in the cities was as follows.
• Mecca, Muhriz Ibn Haritha Ibn 'Abd Shams; Qunfudh Ibn 'Umayr Taymi; Nafi' Ibn 'Abd al-Harith Khuza'i; Khalid Ibn 'As Makhzumi;
• Yemen, 'Abd Allah Ibn Abi Rabi'a Makhzumi
• Bahrayn, 'Ala' Haďrami, Qudamat Ibn Maz'un, 'Uthman Ibn Abi l-'As, Abu Hurayrah, Ayyash Ibn Abi Thawr
• 'Amman, Someone from the Ansar and then 'Uthman Ibn Abi l-'As
• Basra, Shurayh Ibn 'Amir, 'Utba Ibn Ghazwan, Mughira Ibn Shu'ba, Abu Musa Ash'ari
• Yamama, Salama Ibn Sallama Ansari
• Kufa, Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas, 'Ammar Ibn Yasir, Jubayr Ibn Mut'im, Mughira Ibn Shu'ba
• Ta'if, 'Uthman Ibn Abi l-'As, Sufyan Ibn 'Abd Allah Thaqafi
• Greater Syria, Abu 'Ubayda Jarrah, Mu'adh Ibn Jabal, Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, Mu'awiya Ibn Abi Sufyan60
• Palestine, Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, 'Amr Ibn 'As
• Egypt, 'Amr Ibn 'As
• Hijaz and Adharbayjan, 'Ayaď Ibn Ghanam, Habib Ibn Maslama Fihri, 'Umayr Ibn Sa'd Ansari 61
It has been stated that, for sometime, Salman used to rule Ctesiphon.62
As indicated by the above-mentioned names, 'Umar selected few people from among the companions to run the affairs. Once he was asked about it, 'Umar answered he did not intend to corrupt them with executive affairs.63 This has been quoted by several historians. Most answers are the same as mentioned.64
Sha'bi,who is the reliable source of the Sunnis, however says, ”'Umar did not allow the Muhajir s to leave Medina and told them, “What I fear most is that you will become scattered in towns and cities.” He has added, “If any of them asked permission to go to war, 'Umar would say, “As you have fought alongside the Prophet, that should suffice you.”65
Also, Hasan Basri says, “If any of the companions wanted to leave Medina, he had to seek 'Umar's permission.”66 Preventing the companions' exit, as some people have said, was not limited to the Quraysh; rather, he basically prevented the exit of those companions who could turn into a pivotal figure in any city and could somehow stand against the caliph.
Another reason for his choices was found in that 'Umar wanted to prevent the spread of the Prophet's hadiths in different towns and cities. Khatib Baghdadi has narrated that 'Umar sent messages to Abul-Darda' Abu Mas'ud Ansari and 'Abd Allah Ibn Mas'ud, saying, “What are all these hadiths you are quoting from Prophet Muhammad?” Later, these people were not allowed to leave Medina67 until 'Umar was killed.
According to the same quote, Qarďat Ibn Ka'b says, “When we were leaving Medina, 'Umar saw us off. Then, he asked, “Do you know why I am seeing you off? I wanted to tell you not to narrate the hadiths of the Prophet for the people in the cities you go. I, too, am your partner.” Qarďat says, “Afterwards, I did not narrate any more hadiths.”68
Preventing the exit of the companions and not employing them was a policy 'Umar followed carefully. People such as Sha'bi sought the problem of 'Uthman in his policy which was exactly the opposite of 'Umar's. It is said that once, Zubayr asked 'Umar to let him take part in wars.'Umar responded, “I will not allow the companions of the Prophet to go to different cities and mislead the people.”69
Also, it was once protested to him, “Why do you give the affairs to people such as Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, Sa'id Ibn 'As, Mu'awiya and the like who are from the ˝مؤلفة قلوبهم˝ و˝طلقا˝ 'Those whose hearts are captured as well as those who are the liberated ones but you avoid using 'Ali, 'Abbas, Zubayr and Talha?” 'Umar said he was afraid they would go stir trouble in cities.70
Also, 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf asked 'Umar, “Why don't you allow them to go to jihad?” 'Umar said, “If I remain silent and refrain from answering your question, it would be better.”71 The unacceptable justification of Ahmad Amin is that it was due to the importance of Medina that 'Umar kept the Ansar in the city.72 This viewpoint is different from that of Sha'bi and Hasan Basri!
Ibn Sa'd says, ”'Umar appointed people such as 'Amr Ibn 'As, Mu'awiya and Mughira, but not people like 'Uthman, 'Umar, Talha, Zubayr and 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Awf because the formers were strong and well-informed in executive affairs. Moreover, 'Umar dominated them and was an awful figure for them. When he was asked why he did not use the great companions of the Prophet, he would say,أكره أن أدنّسَهم بالعمل “ I please not to taint them with action.” 73
We previously referred to the caliph's behavior. He preferred strict managers, even if they were not so virtuous. One of the problematic cities for 'Umar was the newly established city of Kufa. For a period, it was ruled by Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas who was removed following the people's protests.
After him, 'Ammar Yasir came to power, but he, too, was accused of impotence and 'Umar removed him. The next person was Jubayr Ibn Mut'im who again failed to stay in office. At this time, when 'Umar was greatly baffled, he asked Mughira who he saw suitable for ruling Kufa.
Mughira said, “Appoint me as the city's governor.”
'Umar answered, “You are a lewd man!”
Mughira said, “My efficiency is for you and my lewdness for myself.” 'Umar liked his response and appointed him as governor of Kufa.74 Before that, Mughira had ruled Basra for a while. There, he had illicit relations with a married woman named Umm Jamil. This affair was so explicit that four people saw him during adultery. But, only one of them gave false testimony and that saved Mughira from being stoned.
Different sources are unanimous that 'Umar had asked the fourth person to testify in such a manner.75 'Umar's policy of choosing such people caused Hudhayfa Ibn Yaman to protest to the caliph about his appointment of corrupt people.'Umar answered, “I use his power (in running the affairs).”76
Also, once, someone ho was a governor of Abu Musa Ash'ari in a region of Bahrayn, came to Medina. He asked Yarfa' Hajib, “What character does 'Umar like best?”
He answered, “Toughness.”
That man said, “When I attended the caliph's court, I took on a serious expression. It was then that I realized 'Umar paid more attention to me,” after a while, he asked me.
“Where are you working now?” I answered.
'Umar said, “From now on, you are appointed in that region directly by me.”77
One important point about 'Umar's functionaries was his supervision over their manner of treating people and the Bayt al-Mal or the public treasury. 'Umar maintained a special control over them and recorded their wealth at the start of their term in office.
In this concern, 'Umar considered almost all his functionaries78 to be guilty and halved their belongings when they returned from the region of service. He gave half of the wealth to them and gave the other half to the Bayt al-Mal. This act is called the “dividing in two halves of the wealth.”
It was natural for 'Umar to believe that his functionaries had gathered the wealth illegally, but as he did not know a particular way for separating the legal from the illegal. He had decided to divide the wealth as mentioned except in a few cases. One of these governors was Abu Hurayra who ruled Bahrayn. When he returned from his mission, 'Umar divided his wealth and ordered him to be punished. Then, 'Umar asked him to go back to work! Abu Hurayra said he would not accept to return because his money had been seized, he had been disgraced and he had been beaten as well!79
'Amr Ibn 'As, too, saw his wealth divided.80 Other people to have the same fate were Abu Musa Ash'ari, Harith Ibn Ka'b and 'Utba Ibn Sufyan who were in charge of collecting alms in Ta'if.81
Abu Bakra was another governor whose wealth was divided. He protested to 'Umar and said, “If all these riches belong to God, who don't you take them all and if they are mine, why are you doing so, then?”82
As we said earlier, after dividing the wealth of his functionaries, 'Umar re-appointed them to their posts. Imam 'Ali has been quoted as having the same protest of Abu Bakr about why the functionaries were returned to work. One such instance was that one of 'Umar's functionaries had returned from Yemen and was wearing an exquisite robe. 'Umar ordered his attire to be taken off and ordered him to return to his post.83
Also, 'Umar once heard that his governor in the city of Hims had built a nice house and had set a door- keeper for it. 'Umar sent someone to burn the door of his house, but after a while, sent him back to work.84
This act even trapped people such as Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas. Baladhuri has provided a list of those governors whose wealth was divided, Nafi' Ibn Harith, Nafi' Ibn Harith, Bushr Ibn Muhtafar, Jaz Ibn Mu'awiya, Khalid Ibn Harith, Qays Ibn 'Asim, Samura Ibn Jundab, Mujashi' Ibn Mas'ud, Shibl Ibn Ma'bad and Abu Maryam Ibn Muhrash. These people, as said by Baladhuri, were mostly responsible for collecting alms in the cities.85 Of course, the names of people such as Salman and 'Ammar Ibn Yasir are included on the list.
Controlling his functionaries was a principle in 'Umar's policies. This supervision mostly focused on the financial aspect. When 'Umar heard that 'Amr Ibn 'As had taken some money from the Bayt al-Mal, he wrote to him, “I knew people from the Muhajirun who were much better than you, but I appointed you thinking that you had little need.” After that, 'Umar sent Muhammad Ibn Maslama to divide the wealth of 'Amr Ibn 'As.86
Another quotation says once 'Umar heard that 'Ayaď Ibn Ghanam was living a luxurious life, wearing exquisite clothes and eating delicious meals. He sent Muhammad Ibn Maslama to fetch him. When 'Ayaď came, 'Umar gave him a walking stick and a robe. Then, he tasked him with taking three hundred sheep to the pasture. He was looking after the sheep for two months.
Once, 'Ayaď decided to get rid of his situation with the mediation of 'Umar's wife. When 'Umar found out, he harshly told his wife, “This is not your business! You are a mere means of joy that is discarded after having fun.87 Now, you are meddling in the affairs of me and Muslims?” Then, with 'Uthman's arbitration, 'Umar sent 'Ayaď back to his post and committed him not to return to his previous situation.88
Sometimes, 'Umar would go to the house of his agents, accompanied by someone. He would remain silent and his friend would ask permission for entry. Then, he entered the house unexpectedly and this way, he tried to supervise their way of life.89 In one occasion, he heard that Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas had built a palace and had set a portal for the building. 'Umar sent someone to Kufa to set the gate on fire.90
Of course, some of 'Umar's functionaries lived luxurious lives, but 'Umar was not strict with them. two instances were 'Amr Ibn 'As and Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan.91 This could have been due to his trust in their management skills.
In some cases, too, he had special interest in certain persons. For example, he was greatly fond of Zayd Ibn Thabit. Once, Abu Bakr asked 'Umar to appoint Zayd, then a teenager, to a post in financial affairs. When 'Umar came to power and Zayd returned to him with some money, 'Umar bestowed on Zayd all the money he had brought with him.92
One day, 'Umar heard that Abu Musa Ash'ari had lashed one of the fighters of the army and had shaved his head. He wrote to Abu Musa that if he had done this in public, he must receive Qisas or get retaliatory punishment in public. And, if he had done it secretly, again he would have to be punished in the same manner. When Abu Musa was getting ready for Qisas, the lashed man forgave him.93
At any rate, 'Umar's orders and letters to the governors of different lands, his questioning of the emirs of cities and his urging them to observe justice, have been mentioned in numerous occasions by various sources.94 This situation, whatever reason it had, did not last after 'Umar. 'Uthman, during his years of caliphate, left his functionaries to themselves. This prevented a personality such as Imam 'Ali from controlling the situation.
The narrator says, “Once, some money was brought to 'Umar. His child took one dhm, put it in its mouth and went away. 'Umar went after him and took the money.” The narrator adds, “I was sitting with 'Uthman when some money was brought to him, His child took a coin and then, his servant took one, but he did not protest. I burst into tears. When 'Uthman asked the reason, I told him the story.
'Uthman said, ”'Umar did not give to his relatives for God's sake, but I am giving to my folks for God's sake.”95
Among his functionaries, 'Umar did not question one particular person. He was Mu'awiya, son of Abu Sufyan who had converted to Islam even later than his father. Appointing Mu'awiya as the governor of Damascus during the last six years of 'Umar's caliphate was one of the sensitive issues of that time. The caliph was accused of playing a major role in stabilizing the status of the Umayya in Damascus.
'Umar did not remove Mu'awiya from office when he called him the Arab Caesar.96 Once, 'Umar told Mu'awiya that he did not abide by enjoining to good and forbidding from evil.97 During 'Umar's rule, the entire Damascus was under Mu'awiya's control.98 Even at the time of death, 'Umar told the six-man council, “Do not have differences with each other because Mu'awiya is in Damascus!99
Also, Qaďi 'Abd al-Jabbar, a fanatic Sunnites, says, “Although 'Umar strictly controlled his agents and sometimes changed them, he never had such a behavior towards Mu'awiya.”100
Abu Bakr Asam said, “Mu'awiya was rightful in his war against 'Ali because 'Umar had appointed him.”101 Later, 'Umar's political and religious conduct turned into a tradition. Once, when there was a dispute between Talha and Imam 'Ali over a pitcher at the presence of 'Uthman.
Mu'awiya asked, “Did it exist at the time of 'Umar?”
They said, “Yes.”
He answered, “Can you change something which was fixed during 'Umar's period?”102
Before Mu'awiya, his brother, Yazid, was the governor of parts of Damascus. This issue began at the time of Abu Bakr. When he appointed Khalid Ibn Sa'id as the commander of an army in Damascus, 'Umar insisted that he be replaced with Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan because Khalid Ibn Sa'id who was in Yemen on behalf of Prophet Muhammad, returned after the Prophet's demise and complained to Imam 'Ali about Abu Bakr's coming to power.
That was why 'Umar preferred Yazid Ibn Sufyan to him.103 After Yazid's death, Mu'awiya succeeded him and ruled Damascus during the last four years of 'Umar's caliphate.104 Jahiz has interesting interpretations about the gradual reinforcement of Mu'awiya's position in Damascus from the time of Abu Bakr until 'Uthman.105
Among the caliph's agents, in addition to Mughira, there were other lewd people, too. One of them was Qudama Ibn Maz'un who was a drunkard and was lashed for this.106 Another governor of 'Umar, Nu'man Ibn 'Adi, wrote poems on wine and drunkenness.107 It was reported to 'Umar that Nu'man ran the affairs in the best possible way, but did not say his prayers on time.108
At the end of this part, it would be suitable to mention some other points considered by the caliph in choosing his agents. During his early years in Iraq and Damascus, 'Umar showed that if he did not choose his commanders from among the noble companions, he could not go beyond the limits of the Quraysh and their allies such as the Thaqif and sometimes, the Ansar who were trusted by the Quraysh. Therefore, despite the fact that Muthanna Ibn Haritha had grown his power in Iraq and was apparently trusted, 'Umar did not appoint him as commander in the war against Iranians.
Also, when 'Utba Ibn Ghazwan, the founder of the city of Basra, complained to 'Umar about the way Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas was enjoining to good and forbidding from evil, 'Umar told him why he was not willing to accept the rule of someone from the Quraysh.
Moreover, 'Umar tried to choose his agents from the cities not from nomadic tribes. Once 'Umar heard from Utba that he had appointed Mujashi' Ibn Mas'ud as his successor in Basra and as Mujashi' had not been available then, had appointed Mughira Ibn Shu'ba.
In response, 'Umar said, “It is better that Mughira rules Basra, not Mujashi' because Mujashi' is from nomads and Mughira is a city-dweller.”109 Mughira was a Thaqafi residing in Ta'if.
The second caliph, more than any other personality, influenced the thoughts and ideas of the Sunnites. As his period of caliphate was a highly crucial juncture in the history of Islam, his thoughts and deeds, too, were of great significance for Sunnites Muslims. This is the extent to which he is considered as a role model who made no mistakes and every word or act of him can be trusted as a religious tradition. Therefore, it is necessary to talk about him here.
The high status of 'Umar in Sunnites thinking, can not be compared to anyone else. In the narrations told about 'Umar's good traits, the ranking attributed to him is a little lower than prophethood! This status has been interpreted as “Muhaddath”. Muhaddath is said to be someone who receives “revelations”.
In a narration found in Bukhari, Muslim and in addition toothers, Abu Hurayra has been quoted as saying that the Prophet Muhammad said, “There were people among the Israelian tribe who received revelations without being a prophet. If there is anyone in my Umma who is such, that person is certainly 'Umar.” According to Qastalani, the commentator of the book of Bukhari, the “if” in the above-mentioned sentence, does not mean “hesitation” but means “emphasis”.
Besides such quotations, there is, on the whole, a certain idea about the caliph's measures at the Prophet's time, indicating that before God revealed something, 'Umar had ordered that and then, God had sent down some verses in that regard. These instances are known as ”'Umar's Muwafiqat”,or 'Umar's agreement.
It is interesting that in some cases, the viewpoint of the Prophet was in conflict with 'Umar's, but God has sent down verses agreeing with 'Umar's idea! 'Abd Allah Ibn 'Umar has been quoted as saying that all the verses God sent down about something discussed by 'Umar and others, were in accordance with 'Umar's idea. Some of such examples are saying prayers for Ibrahim, the verse of Hijab, the Badr captives, banning drinking, not saying prayers for hypocrites and so on. It is evident, then, why 'Umar's status was close to prophethood and later, his way of behavior was regarded superior even to that of the Prophet.
Here, we must note the point that 'Umar was as strong in practice as he was weak in thought. He, himself, had admitted this several times and had sought help from others in solving his problems. 'Allama Amini has allocated almost half of the sixth volume of the book of al-Ghadir entitled, نوادر الاثر في علم عمر “ Rare reports about the knowledge of 'Umar,” on these issues.
It was due to this weakness in knowledge that 'Umar did not like religious discussions and debates and once, when someone asked him the meaning of وَالذَّارِيَاتِ ذَرْوًا. “I Swear to pollinating winds,” 'Umar beat him up.110
One of the main features of the second caliph's thinking was that he saw himself entitled to vast authorities as a ruler. He considered a special right for himself, not only in political and executive affairs, but also in divine legislation and making laws. Relying on the same authorities during his caliphate, 'Umar made innovations and changes and did not deem himself obliged to anything except having a general knowledge of the Qur'an and the Shari'a.
In cases where he found himself incompetent, he would hold consultations and deliberations with the Companions to get things done. Narrating an interesting story told by Tabari is appropriate here to realize the caliph's idea about his authorities, ”'Imran Ibn Sawad says, “I said the morning prayers with 'Umar and then, followed him.”
He asked, “You have a request?”
I said, “Yes, advice!”
He said, “Bravo! Go on!”
I said, “People find faults with you in several things.”
Holding his lash under his chin, 'Umar said, “Well?”
I said, “You have forbidden the lesser pilgrimage (the 'Umra Hajj) during the months of Hajj while Prophet Muhammad said it was permitted; neither did Abu Bakr act like you.”
'Umar said, “This was to show people that they were not exempt from the main Hajj by doing the 'Umra.”
I asked, “You have banned the temporary marriage of women while the Prophet had allowed it?”
'Umar said, “I am equal to Muhammad; I make them full and do so and so for them. If I do not do so (harsh behavior), I'll abandon the truth (this is ironical of his having right to do so).”111
There are two basic points in this quotation containing plenty of proof for approving its inclusion, One is that 'Umar, in response to 'Imran, confirmed his disagreement with the Prophet (S) and also justified it. Second, his response to 'Imran's last objection started with this sentence, أنا زميل محمّد “ I am equal to the Prophet.” “Zamil” commonly means “classmate” and its old usage is referred to two people who ride on camels each of whom takes seat on one side or two people ride on two camels separately.
In the above statement, there is an opposite sentence that says, وكان زامله في غزوة قرقرة الكدر ”' Umar has 'Umar been equal to the Prophet in Qarqarat al-Kudr war.”
This sentence had no relation with 'Umar's response to the questions raised112 but on the contrary, it was really misleading and was intentionally aimed at misleading the minds. 'Umar says he is equal to the Prophet, meaning he could enjoin to or forbid from something or label things as lawful or unlawful just as the Prophet could.
Thus, the caliph considered his authorities as vast as the Prophet and pretended to believe in nothing but the Qur'an.
What has been said about the caliph's ban on narrating hadith and writing is that it113 exactly conforms to this idea of the caliph. It seems the caliph believed that only the Qur'an could remain unchanged, but not hadith. Therefore, the ruler can act at any time based on his expedience regarding this matter. In other words, what has been quoted from Prophet Muhammad, only refer to his authorities as a ruler and these are authorities 'Umar, too, had as a ruler.
It is unlikely to find any caliph other than 'Umar and 'Uthman who considered their authorities to include divine legislation and interference in religious affairs. Nasr Allah Munshi, in the preface to “Kelilih wa Dimnih”, quotes 'Umar as saying, “What the “state” bans people from is prior to what the “Qur'an” prohibits.”114
'Umar cut the share of المؤلفة قلوبهم “ Those whose hearts are captured,” that God paid from the tax alms, saying, Islam has no fear of them any more.115 He believed an unclean person who needs water should not say prayers if he cannot find water. When 'Ammar Yasir taught him the Prophet's tradition in Tayammum (making ablution with earth or sand), اتق الله يا عمار “ O 'Ammar! Fear God!”
'Ammar answered, “If you please so, I will not tell you the hadith of the Prophet!”116
It is interesting that 'Umar hated Tayammum even during the Prophet's life. Once during a trip, someone from 'Umar's companions got impure at dawn and had to make Tayammum. 'Umar voiced objected to him.
When they got to Medina, 'Umar complained about him to the Prophet, but the Prophet said, “I would have done the same if I were in his conditions.”117 Of course, if nothing occurred to his mind, 'Umar would follow the Prophet's Sunna.118
Ibn 'Abbas says, “During the time of the Prophet and Abu Bakr and in two years of 'Umar's caliphate, if someone divorced his wife three times, it would be considered once. But, 'Umar considered it three divorces.119 Malik Ibn Anas, Imam of Malikiyya, narrates, ”'Umar was afraid that a non-Arab would receive inheritance from an Arab unless he was born among Arabs!”120
These rulings were among the caliph's personal Ijtihads which were mostly based on his favored “interests”. Temporary marriage during Hajj and temporary marriage of women are among the main religious affairs allowed by Prophet Muhammad, but banned by the caliph.121 As we mentioned, 'Umar believed these affairs were permissible at the time of the Prophet due to certain necessity.
Another example is dropping the line “Hayya 'Ala Khayr al-’Amal” (Rush to the best deed) from the Adhan122 whereas people such as 'Abd Allah Ibn 'Umar and Iman as-Sajjad (a) always said this line in the call to prayers.123
Word has it that 'Umar was the first person to initiate the rising of Ramaďan. He did it in the 14th year of Hijra and ordered all towns and cities to do so.124 This is the same nightly prayers of Ramaďan still common among Sunnis. Because 'Umar saw himself entitled to such authorities, he issued contradictory rulings in some cases. Such instances can be found in the issue of inheritance.125
Freedom of action in religious affairs could entail more claim of authority in non-religious domains. The caliph did not avoid innovation. The sudden expansion of Islamic countries at the time of 'Umar brought him face to face with numerous problems, so he often tried to find a solution to his problems even if through consultation with the companions. The collection of such solutions which were first based on the Prophet's heritage, second on consultations with the companions and third, on the caliph's innovations, led to the enlargement of the state authority.
Comparing the successful policy of 'Umar and Mu'awiya with that of Imam 'Ali, Ahmad Amin says the former two considered themselves free in interpreting religious texts while 'Ali believed in them.126 Also, Suhayl Zakkar has referred to the point that 'Umar saw himself entitled to interpret new issues.127 His instructions to Shurayh are also considerable for following the rules.128
As mentioned earlier, one principle of the caliph's thoughts was that he tried to only rely on the Qur'an as proof, so he ignored hadiths. His remark which said, حسبنا كتاب الله 129 “We relied on the Book of Allah.”
This has been cited in many historical and hadith sources and implies nothing other than there is no need for hadith. Of course, this has no contradiction with 'Umar's use of the Prophet's quotations if he could not think of a certain solution. However, in return, he would do something if it were to his interest even if Prophet Muhammad had a special belief in that regard.
One such clear example was a wording about the Imamate of Imam 'Ali that was said by the Prophet. Not only 'Umar, but other companions also set aside the words due to some expediency they claimed.
Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “I asked my master about texts on the Imamate of 'Ali and said, “Is it really possible that they have set aside the Prophet's words?”
He answered, “Those people do not consider caliphate among religious decrees such as daily prayers and fasting, but consider it a worldly affair and an issue like running the land, planning the war and ruling the subjects.
In these cases, too, if they saw it to their benefit, they would oppose the word of the Prophet. For example, the Prophet ordered Abu Bakr and 'Umar to join the army of Usama, but they refused to do so as they did not see it agreeable to the state interests. These happened during Prophet Muhammad's lifetime, he saw them and did not deny them!…
The companions, collectively and individually, neglected many words of Prophet Muhammad and this was due to the interests they saw in doing so such as the shares of ذوي القربى والمؤلفة قلوبهم “Relatives and those whose hearts are captured.”
They acted according to their own will in many issues not mentioned by the Qur'an and the Sunna such as the limit of drinking wine,…. They preferred their interests to the Prophet's words, saying, “If you find it right, do it…”
As for the Prophet's words about 'Ali, they (in fact, Abu Bakr and 'Umar) said that Arabs would not accept his rule due to several reasons. Therefore, they agreed not to give him the power because they saw that Arabs would not obey him.
So, they interpreted the Prophet's words; however, they did not deny the word. They just said someone present can see something which the absent person cannot. The Ansar's act, too, helped them. So, they made allegiance with Abu Bakr to eliminate the Ansar's conspiracy. And later, in the face of 'Ali's protests, they said that he was too young, Arabs would not accept him, …and that Abu Bakr was an old man, he was experienced, Arabs love him, etc.
They said if they had chosen 'Ali, Arabs would have turned apostate and …Which way was to their interests? Following the Prophet's words and getting ready for Arabs' apostasy and the return of the Dark Age or deviating from the Prophet's words and safeguarding Islam…People, too, remained silent…
Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “My master, Abu Ja’far Naqib, did not believe in Imam and did not obey them. Neither did he accept the words of Shi'ites fanatics. Yet, he had such an analysis.130
At any rate, this point must be taken into consideration that when 'Umar took the reins of caliphate, it was necessary to expand the administrative organization of the new government. Further conquests and enlargement of the lands under his rule as well as wars and peace deals forced him to forge some laws in order to run his affairs.
These measures are listed by Kattani in the book of “al-Taratib al-Idariyya ” (Administrative Arrangements). Many of his measures took on a jurisprudent aura and in later texts of Sunnis, were used as the basis of Sunnites jurisprudence. Most of his edicts have been collected in the book of “al-Musannaf” by 'Abd al-Razzaq Sanani. Ibn Kathir, too, has gathered these edicts in a book entitled “Musnad 'Umar” ('Umar's Throne).
It was during his period that for the first time, the title of “Amir al-Mu'minin” or “Commander of the Faithful” became a common term to refer to the caliph. Before that, he was called “Khalifa Rasul Allah” or the “Caliph of the Prophet”. But, according to quotations, he got the title of Amir al-Mu'minin in the year 17 A.H. from either Mughira Ibn Shu'ba, Abu Musa Ash'ari or 'Adi Ibn Hatim.131
One the caliph's measures which had an important role in organizing the ruling system and establishing the government was the formation of “Diwans” in the year 20 A.H.132 Prophet Muhammad was a pioneer in registering the names of Muslims, especially fighters.133
'Umar ordered the registration of the Companions and classified them based on tribal origins and religious records.134 Then, he divided the huge booties gained during conquests. 'Umar began with the Hashimites and among them, with 'Abd al-Muttalib.50 The policy of the Prophet and Abu Bakr differed with 'Umar's policy135 in that they divided the riches equally while 'Umar's division was based on different tribes and the people's record in Islam. It is said that 'Umar objected to Abu Bakr for observing equality.136
This act of the caliph led to the reinforcement of tribal strata among Arabs based on which, some tribes claimed superiority over others. This remark of Maqdisi who has quoted 'Umar as saying that he had learnt justice from Chosroe137 gives strength to the probability that he had been somehow influenced by the Iranian system of social classification, though there is no other evidence to prove this claim. Word has said that towards the end of his life, 'Umar doubted the rightfulness of this method and said if he lived more, he would act equally towards all people.138
Also, an accurate date that was necessary for administrative affair was set in 'Umar's time. We mentioned elsewhere that during consultations with the companions, he acted according to the opinion of Imam 'Ali based on choosing the date of the Prophet's Hijra as the beginning date of Muslims' history. This was a significant step towards creating administrative discipline.
Regarding the sources of the second caliph's religious and political thoughts, we must note another point. Besides what he had gained from Islamic teachings, 'Umar tried to enrich his thoughts from other sources also. One of these sources was the knowledge of the people of the book and Jews had plenty of such knowledge in Hijaz.
First of all, we must admit that among different Islamic sects, there is a common accusation about 'Umar's use of Jewish knowledge, mostly due to the reason that Jews were greatly despised by the Qur'an and naturally, by Muslims. It should be known however that the people of the book in general and Jews, in particular, have left some traces in the historical texts and hadiths of Muslims.
This influence is more or less seen among practically all sects. Any way, there are some texts available that indicate the people of the book tried to grab a position for themselves in the new society by relying on the knowledge they already possessed and the cultural influence they had inherited from the era of ignorance.
Their religious texts had many things in common with Islam and it was on this basis that they claimed to have some knowledge about the interpretation of the Qur'an. Moreover, they said that in the earlier texts, the Prophet's ordainment had been announced.
They went on as far as claiming that in divine books, there had a lot of information about the trend of developments in the Islamic society, the story of caliphs, events and wars. Muslims' belief in this issue made it much easier for the people of the book. We had better set aside our general discussion in this regard, which has also been reiterated by Ibn Khadlun139 and return to our main topic.
When the Muslim Muhajirs came to Medina and Islam spread in the city, the ground was prepared for a cultural relation between Islam and Judaism due to their common origins.
A quotation says, كانت اليهود يحدثون اصحاب رسول الله “ The Jews spoke with the companions of the Prophet (S).” When Prophet Muhammad heard of that, he said, “Do not confirm or deny them.”140 Though it seems that gradually, things got more serious until the Prophet banned the companions from listening to Jews or copying their works.
When he came to Medina, the second caliph decided to use the people of the book to increase his religious and historical knowledge.
He says, “I copied one of the works of the people of the book so as to add to my knowledge.” The Prophet was really angered to the extent that the Ansar shouted, “as-Silah! as-Silah!”, meaning “Weapon! Weapon!”
Then, the Prophet said, “I have brought everything for you.”141 Elsewhere, 'Umar has been quoted as telling Prophet Muhammad, “I came across a “brother from Qurayza” who copied the Torah for me. Shall I offer it to you?” This question angered the Prophet.142
Zuhri says that “Hafsa who was 'Umar's daughter and also the Prophet's wife, brought to the Prophet a book of stories about Joseph and read out the book. At the same moment, the Prophet's face turned red with anger and he said, “I swear by God that if Joseph and I were among you and you followed him and abandoned me, you would be mistaken.”143 The fact that 'Umar and his daughter tried at the time of the Prophet to read the texts of other religions could not have been a mere incidence. This issue is clarified with the point told by Ibn Shahab Zuhri about 'Umar's naming as Faruq, the distinguisher.
He says, “The first people to call 'Umar as Faruq were the people of the book while no news has reached us to indicate that the Prophet called him so.”144
When 'Umar came to power, he pondered in this regard with a more peace of mind and right at the time when he encountered a Muslim-turned Jew from Yemen, he could benefit from him more. This person was Ka'b Ibn Mati' Himyari known as Ka'b al-Ahbar.145
He converted to Islam after the Prophet's demise at the time of Abu Bakr or 'Umar and then came to Medina. Later, he took permission from the caliph and headed to Damascus. It seems that his departure to Damascus and at the time of the second caliph, to Bayt al-Muqaddas, was to sign a peace deal with Christians and Ka'b accompanied him. Ka'b al-Ahbar died during 'Uthman's caliphate in the year 32 or 33 A.H in the town of Hims.146
This is while a tomb with a high dome was built for him in Egypt. Ka'b al-Ahbar was a trusted and reliable source for centuries and his quotations have filled books of history and interpretation.147 But currently, given the new researches carried out, the image of Ka'b al-Ahbar has been shrouded in mystery and has made decision-making difficult for Sunnites scholars and religious men.
Ka'b al-Ahbar, on the one hand, received the second caliph's attention and on the other, is an important source for texts known as Israelite in the Islamic culture. These are quotations about the Torah and other Jewish scriptures that have a determining presence in Muslims' books of history, interpretation, Gnosticism and literature.
Ka'b al-Ahbar and Wahb Ibn Munabba are two main sources of the spread of Israelite in the Islamic culture. Since the anti-Israelite current gained force among Sunnis, the task of deciding about Ka'b has been made difficult.148 We should not forget here that twice as much what Ka'b has quoted from earlier books, has been falsely attributed to him by others and he has been exaggerated.
Dhahabi says about him, “He had knowledge of Jewish books and had a special talent in recognizing false and true texts.”149
Here, the second caliph's trust in him, despite sufficient evidence, has not been trusted by those who did not believe the Israelites in general and Ka'b, in particular. Ibn Kathir says Ka'b al-Ahbar was the best of them (Muslim-turned Jews) who are quoted. He embraced Islam at the time of 'Umar and quoted the people of the book. 'Umar approved some of his quotations because they were truthful.150
Moreover, 'Umar tried to absorb him. Afterwards, the people quoted many things from him in so far as there were exaggerations and he, too, quoted much falsehood while some of his words were true. Ibn Kathir has implicitly admitted that 'Umar helped Ka'b find a place among the people who turned to him. Due to the cultural power of the people of the book, as soon as Ka'b arrived in Medina, people gathered around him and asked him to read them some news about the future events from the books of the predecessors.151
What made people trust him was that he claimed his words were all based on “the Revealed Book of God”. Here, book means the Torah about which Ka'b had told Qays Ibn Kharasha, “The Torah says there is no inch of land other than what happens on it until the Day of Judgment.”152
Ka'b spread his words among the people by underlining that he was quoting from the “Book of God”. Above all, the second caliph benefited from him and his knowledge. There are several instances to prove this. Hisham Kalbi says, “There was famine at the time of 'Umar. Ka'b al-Ahbar told him, “When the same situation occurred for the Israelian tribe, they resorted to their prophet's Household and said the prayer for rain.
This advice led 'Umar to ask 'Abbas to say this prayer.”153 Another quotation says 'Umar asked Ka'b to talk about “death” for him. While Ka'b was elaborating on death, tears rolled down the caliph's cheeks.154 In another case, 'Umar asked him, which of Adam's sons had offspring and he talked in this regard in detail.155
When 'Umar wanted to travel to Iraq, Ka'b told him, “Do not go to Iraq because the genies are there, as are their men and nine-tenth of sorcery, too.”156
The quotation of Sayf Ibn 'Umar says that during the outbreak of plague, 'Umar called on his courtiers to guide him about different cities. Ka'b said the following about Iraq in response to 'Umar's seeking consultation.157
According to 'Abd Allah Ibn Mas'ud who met 'Umar with Ka'b, Ka'b said, “Allow me to tell you the sweetest thing which I have read in “The Books of Prophets”. With 'Umar's approval, Ka'b al-Ahbar quoted parts of the book which is more than a page.158 'Umar asked Ka'b to tell him about Ka'ba and he said, “God sent down to earth a hollow sapphire159 and …” In another occasion, Ka'b was sitting in the mosque when 'Umar entered and asked him to intimidate him and others.
He said, “O Ka'b! Frighten us!”160
'Umar said, “Prophet Muhammad told me, “My greatest fear for my Umma is from the side of misleading Imam.”
Ka'b said, “I swear by God that fear for the Umma is from no one other than them.”161 Another quotation says once at the time of 'Umar, Ka'b stood up and asked, “What was the last word of your Prophet?”
'Umar said, “Ask 'Ali.”
And Imam 'Ali answered, “While his blessed head was resting on my shoulder, he said, “Prayers, prayers.”
Ka'b said, “This is the last oath of all prophets to which they have been obliged and ordained.”162
Ka'b wanted to show himself well-versed in all books of prophets and in other cases, to make people accept what he said. Apparently later, some people noticed the problem that they could not rely on the distorted Torah.
Therefore, how could they accept the words of Ka'b? To solve this issue, it was made up that Ka'b used a Torah which had not been distorted. In the final hours of his life, Ka'b ordered someone to throw that book of Torah into the sea.
His justification was that he was afraid some people would use that book as a base for their reasoning. After narrating this story, Dhahabi says, “Now, this Torah is not in our hands and after that, we cannot rely on the existing book of Torah.”163
However at the same time, Ibn 'Abbas rejected the Torah as distorted and cautioned people against asking questions from the people of the book.164
Another narration says 'Umar had ordered someone to be lashed as punishment. When he was being lashed, he said, “Subhan Allah” or “Praise be to God”. 'Umar told the executioner to stop the lashing. Ka'b al-Ahbar burst into laughter.
'Umar said, “Why do you laugh?”
Ka'b answered, “I swear by God that Subhan Allah is a mitigation of divine punishment.”165 In another case, 'Umar and Ka'b were standing.
Hutay'a, the poet recited a poem which said, “Someone who does a good deed, his reward will never be wasted because “the good deed” is ever lasting between God and his people.”
Ka'b said, “By God, that it says the same thing in the Torah.”166
Once, 'Umar asked Ka'b al-Ahbar about different cities.
He said, “When God created the word and what is in it, Wisdom said, “I shall go to Iraq.” Knowledge said, “I shall be with you.” Wealth said, “I go to Damascus.” Trouble said, “I am with you.”167
In another occasion, Ka'b al-Ahbar entered the court of 'Umar and sat down at some distance from him. 'Umar asked him why he had done so. Ka'b pointed to the wisdom of Luqman and said, “One should not sit close to a person of power because someone else may enter the assembly who is more endeared; then, you will have to sit back a little. This way, you will be belittled.”168
'Umar asked Ka'b, “How does knowledge leave the mind of someone who has learnt it?”
Ka'b responded, “Through greed and stretching one's hand out to the people.”169
Once again, Ka'b told 'Umar, “Woe unto the “Sultan of the Earth” from the “Sultan of the Heaven”?”
'Umar said, “Unless for someone who checks himself.”
Ka'b said, “I swear by God that this has been mentioned in the Torah exactly.”170 In another occasion, 'Umar asked Ka'b al-Ahbar to tell him about virtue.171 Once 'Umar told Ka'b who was seeking permission to go to Damascus, “Do not leave Medina which is the place of the Prophet's Hijra and his city of burial.” Ka'b said he had read in the Revealed Book of Allah that Damascus was God's treasure upon the earth.172
In another case, a verse was discussed,
“Whatsoever their skin is fried, it is replaced with a new one to taste the pain.” 173
Ka'b said, “I have an interpretation about this verse which dates back to the period before the advent of Islam.”
'Umar said, “Say it, but we will confirm your words only when they conform to those of the Prophet (S).”
Ka'b said, “It means I will change their skin a hundred times each hour.”
'Umar said, “I heard the same thing from the Prophet (S) !”174
In Bayt al-Muqaddas, 'Umar asked Ka'b about the location of the “Sakhra” and he talked in this regard in detail.175
Despite these examples, only Abu Zur'a Dimashqi has quoted 'Umar as telling Ka'b, “Quit the narration of “Hadith al-Uwal” the first hadith or I shall banish you to the land of apes!”176
In another case, in continuation of a report from a follower of another religion talking about the traits of the caliphs in the Torah, 'Umar has been quoted as having cautioned people against quoting the people of the book.177 Also, once 'Umar heard that someone in Kufa had the book of Daniel. 'Umar called him to Medina and afterwards, that person agreed to burn whatever he had.178
Such a position, even if existed, was not so firm towards Ka'b and the instances mentioned earlier, are proofs to our opinion. Once Ka'b came to 'Umar and asked permission to read the Torah. 'Umar answered, “If you know that this is the same Torah sent down by God upon Moses in Mount Sinai, then read it day and night.”179
During these consultations, once 'Umar noticed that Ka'b had not given up his Jewish thoughts yet. In the year that 'Umar went to Bayt al-Muqaddas, Ka'b accompanied him. On this journey when there were talks with others including a monk,180 'Umar asked Ka'b to determine the place of the mosque of Bayt al-Muqaddas. So, he asked Ka'b, “In your opinion, in which direction should we place the altar?”
Ka'b said, “Towards the Sakhra (Jewish Qibla).”
'Umar said, “You speak in favor of Jews! I also saw that upon entering the mosque, you took off your shoes.”181 However, even after that, Ka'b's position remained the same to the caliph.
One interesting point here is the claim of Ka'b al-Ahbar and the people of the book about finding the name and characteristics of the second caliph in previous divine books. 'Abd Allah Ibn Mas'ud has been quoted as saying, ”'Umar was riding a horse when it suddenly threw him off. At that moment, 'Umar's thigh was revealed. The people of Najran who saw a black mole on his thigh said, “This is the same person who, our books say, drives us out of our homeland.”182
Later, Wahb Ibn Munabba claimed that 'Umar's description had been mentioned in the Torah.183 Aqra' who was 'Umar's Mu'adhdhin, says, “The caliph sent me to fetch the bishop. I brought him so that he sat under the same shade with 'Umar.
'Umar asked the bishop, “Have you seen my name in your books?”
The bishop replied, “Yes.”
'Umar inquired, “How?”
The bishop answered, “Like a horn!”
'Umar lifted his lash and said, “What is on my horn?”
The bishop said, “An iron horn, reliable and strong.”
'Umar asked, “Who succeeds to caliphate after me?”
The bishop answered, “A righteous caliph who sacrifices his life for his relatives.”
'Umar asked, “Who is next after him?”
The bishop said, “A righteous caliph who has drawn out his sword has shed blood!”184 Although this narration is unknown, first of all, it is likely that its beginning part is correct and the bishop said these things only about 'Umar. Second, even despite being an entire fabrication, those people have been mentioned by other bishops and those familiar with the pre-Islamic books.
Ibn Shubba says, “During 'Umar's journey to Damascus, an old man approached the army on the way and complained about heavy taxes. He asked to talk to the caliph.
Talha asked him, “Have you found the news of the caliph's descent in your books?”
He said, “Yes, we know the descriptions of your chief and the one before him as well as your prophet.” Then, he mentioned those traits one by one!185 Amali Muhammad Ibn Habib has been quoted as saying that Ibn 'Abbas said, “Towards the end of his caliphate, 'Umar wished death for himself.
One day when I was with him, he asked Ka'b al-Ahbar, “I see my death close. First, what is your opinion about 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib and second, what do you find in this regard in your books, because you believe that our affairs have been written in your books?”
Ka'b said, “In my opinion, 'Ali is not suitable for his job because he is a strictly religious man. He does not overlook any mistake, does not act to his Ijtihad and this way, he cannot control his subjects. But, what we find in our books is that the government does not fall to him or his sons.”
'Umar said, “Then, who gets the rule?”
Ka'b al-Ahbar said, “We find it so that after the believer in Shari'a and two of his companions, the government will reach those people with whom the Prophet (S) has fought over the principle of religion,186 that is the Umayya.” Also in another occasion, someone from the people of the book came to 'Umar and said, ” Oh, King of Arab, greetings upon you.”
'Umar asked, “Has such a thing been mentioned in your books? Has it not been said that the “Prophet” comes, then the “caliph” and then “Amir al-Mu'minin”?”
He said, “Yes.”187 This quotation is evidently a mere lie. At the time of 'Uthman, Ka'b al-Ahbar responded to someone who had said in a poem that after 'Uthman, 'Ali would come to power.
He said, “You are lying. The caliphate will go to Mu'awiya.”188
According to historians, Ka'b deviated from Imam 'Ali (a) and Imam, too, introduced him as a “Liar.”189 Ka'b said he had read the news of the cities' conquests in the Torah and that these conquests would take place at the hands of a righteous man.190
'Umar's familiarity with the people of the book, especially his friendship with Ka'b, caused him to sometimes say something or take an action by relying on what the people of the book had stated.
One of the companions says, “Prophet Muhammad (S) had said the afternoon prayers. After that, a man stood up to say prayers. 'Umar grasped him by his clothes and said, “ 'Sit down.' The people of the book were lost because there was no rest between their prayers.”191 Also, the caliph's important decision in preventing the Prophet's hadiths from being written down was made under the influence of the people of the book.192
Zuhri quotes 'Urwa Ibn Zubayr as saying, ”'Umar decided to write down the hadiths and Sunna of the Prophet (S). He consulted the companions in this regard. They all agreed. 'Umar thought about the decision for a month and then said, “I have thought about it. I saw that before you, the people of the book had written books on the book of God and relied on them. As a result, they abandoned the book of God. But, I will not cover the book of God with anything else.”193
Despite the Prophet's clear ban on reading the works of the people of the book – including obvious examples that were addressed to 'Umar, himself194 some people freely spread these ideas. It is interesting that besides spreading these thoughts, the writing and narration of the hadiths was prevented.195
In order to complete this plan one side of which was the permission for spreading Jewish thoughts and the other one was blocking the narration of the hadith, a hadith was narrated, or in better words, was fabricated which quoted Prophet Muhammad as saying, “Do not write any of my words and instead, narrate anything you want from the people of Israel.”196
This is while people such as Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn Mas'ud openly voiced concern over the accessibility of the works of the people of the book for Muslims and rejected them.197
One of the phenomena which was created in this period and whose origin should be considered as a consequence of the spread of the Israelite, was story telling. Certain people known as “Qas”, the story- tellers quoted the historical-Religious stories of Jews and used them as the interpretation of the historical verses of the Qur'an. Their main source for these stories was the Torah and the verbal quotations common among Jewish and Christian scribes.
These people made speeches for the people before and after the public prayers. This phenomenon did not exist at the time of the Prophet (S) and Abu Bakr, but became common at the time of the second caliph, with his permission and continued later on. The phenomenon of story-telling raised positive and negative reactions among the companions (Sahaba) and the followers (Tabi'in) which we have elaborated on in a special book.198
What is concerned here is that for the first time, Tamim al-Dari began story-telling with the permission of the second caliph.199 'Umar allowed him to preach through story-telling before the Friday prayers sermons. Later, 'Uthman allowed him to do so twice a week.200 Tamim al-Dari was a Christian-turned-Muslim and many stories have been narrated about his virtue. This became the basis of a kind of Christian-style piety later greatly spread in the Islamic society.
Examples of these pious people who constantly quoted news from Jews and Christian monks, are abundant in the book of “Hiliyat al-Awliya” by Abu Na'im Isfahani. It has been said that Tamim al-Dari had learnt his stories in the synagogues of Damascus and from the preachers of that land.201 Also, another person named 'Ubayd Ibn 'Umayr was permitted to tell stories at the time of 'Umar.202 We will see later that Imam 'Ali (a) was seriously opposed to story-telling.
According to certain narrations and more specifically what has been narrated by Tabari, some people have claimed that 'Umar was murdered with the plot of Ka'b al-Ahbar..Historians and narrators of Sunnites hadiths brought this news in their books for centuries. However, they believed so much in the predictions and reports of Ka'b and people like him that they did not have the least suspicion about Ka'b's role in the caliph's murder.
Jahiz who is a rationalist critic, has this opinion about what Ka'b has narrated from the Torah (although there is no such thing in the Torah), I believe that many of these reports which have been quoted with phrases such as “We find them in the books” or “written in the Torah”, have in fact been taken from the “Book of prophets” and works from the books of Solomon and Isaiah, the prophet. If the stories quoted from him about the characteristics of 'Umar, are from him (because he, himself, did not fabricate news), the problem cannot be solved unless with our justification.203
Therefore, Jahiz Mu'tazili, too, has not been able to have any doubts about Ka'b al-Ahbar. At any rate, forecasting 'Umar's murder before the actual incident and the opinion that Ka'b had seen the news in previous books did not attract the attention of the Prophet's companions and other Muslims. Infact, it is only in recent years that something has been said in this regard.
In our opinion, there is doubt about the truthfulness of what has been said by Ka'b. What has led to the linking of this fabricated news to Ka'b was nothing but the interest of some simple-minded people in the point that the caliph's martyrdom has been mentioned in the Torah or other books and especially that the title of “martyr” has been particularly emphasized.
Moreover, many stories have been quoted in different sources saying that others had reported on 'Umar's murder. Some of them have been collected by Ibn Sa'd and most of them have been related to “the invisible voice” or “genie”. They said, for example, a voice could be heard reading a poem and saying the news but no one could be seen.204 What has come in certain texts is that Ka'b had told the caliph before his murder that he had found him a just and martyred Imam in the Torah.
If the news ended here, there would be no problem, but Ibn Sa'd has another quotation from Sa'd al-Jari who was 'Umar's freed slave, Umm Kulthum told 'Umar, “Ka'b, the Jew, says, ”'Umar is standing at one of the doors of hell.” 'Umar sent for Ka'b. Ka'b came to him and said, “I swear by God that Dhil-Hajja will not pass unless you are in heaven.”
'Umar said, “How is it that once I am standing at the gate of hell and the other time, I'm in heaven?”
Ka'b said, “We have found in the Book of God that you are standing at the door of hell and do not let anyone in, but after you die, people will again go to hell!” 207
We think what reveals the importance of the matter is a narration by Ibn Sa'd. He has quoted Ka'b as telling 'Umar, “In the tribe of Israel, there was a king who reminds us of you when we think of him. There was a prophet at the time of the king. Once he told the king, “Write down your will. You will die three days later.” The king said, “God! If you see that I am doing justice in my rule and obey you in the affairs, increase my life until my son grows up and my Umma increases in number.”
God conveyed these words to his prophet and said, “I added fifteen years to his life.”
After 'Umar was wounded, Ka'b told him, “If you ask, God will keep you alive.”
The news reached 'Umar but 'Umar said, “God, take my life at a time when I am not blamed and disabled.” 208
In our opinion, this news has been distorted and it seems as if three days before 'Umar's murder (which in fact was three days before 'Umar's death and after his being wounded), Ka'b had told him, “You will die within three days, so ask God not to die.” Interestingly, it has been said that Ka'b came on the second day and said, “One day is left.” This news seems to be right.
Now, let's go to Tabari's report which is the distorted form of the original news and has been quoted from Miswar Ibn Makhrama. He says, “After Abu Lu'lu''s negotiations with 'Umar over his taxes and 'Umar's request from him for building a mill, Abu Lu'lu' threatened him sarcastically.
The day after that, Ka'b al-Ahbar went to the caliph and said, “Make your will; you will die three days from now.”
'Umar asked, “Have you seen my name in the Torah?”
Ka'b said, “No, but I've seen your description and that your life has come to its end.”
'Umar did not feel any pain.
The next day, Ka'b came and said, “One day of the three days has passed and two days remain.” Again, Ka'b came the other day and said, “Two days are gone and one day and one day are left.” The next morning, Abu Lu'lu' attacked 'Umar at the mosque and dealt six blows on him.209
The above news is evident in that Ka'b knew of 'Umar's murder beforehand, but when this news is compared with that of Ibn Sa'd, we realize that the story was such, Having adopted the news of the Israelian king and the prophet of his time, Ka'b came to 'Umar after he had been wounded and told him that story from the Torah and the three days.
Incidentally, 'Umar passed away on the third day after being injured. However later, the news underwent some changes to sound unnatural. This could have been intentional to gain some credit for the caliph by relying on Muslims' fascination with the divine news of the people of scriptures.
The quotation that after 'Umar's injury, Ka'b had told him if he called on God to delay his death, He would do so210, is a proof to the comparison made by Ka'b between 'Umar and the Israelian king. Out of his interests in the caliph, Ka'b advised him to ask God to delay his death so that he could live for fifteen more years.
As said earlier, despite the existence of quotations from Tabari and others, historians did not have any suspicions about Ka'b al-Ahbar. We believe that the true story was something else but the reason for the historian's belief in Ka'b was their real trust in him and the caliph's virtues.
Meanwhile, some of the new Sunnites researchers who are influenced by anti-Israelism have ignored 'Umar's trust in Ka'b and have interpreted the above-mentioned news as a Jewish plot to murder 'Umar.211 One of these writers has named Ka'b al-Ahbar as the mastermind of 'Umar's murder, saying he had instigated Abu Lu'lu' to kill 'Umar. His sources are the news of Tabari and the quotation mentioned by Ibn Athir from Tabari.212
About the caliph's murder, what has been clearly reported in history indicates that this issue was solely related to 'Umar and Abu Lu'lu' and the motive behind the act was, at least it appears so, that the murderer felt some injustice had been done to him and he had been overcharged.
He complained to 'Umar in this regard. But, the caliph said that the money taken from him was not so much compared to his abilities and skills and naturally, his income. Some time later, the assassination occurred and it could be natural that the incident was totally or partially related to the argument which had taken place earlier between the murderer and the caliph.
Mas'udi reports the incident as such, 'Umar did not allow non-Arabs to arrive in Medina.213
Mughira wrote to him, “I have a servant who has been a painter, blacksmith and carpenter and can be useful for the people of Medina. If you agree, I shall send him to you.” 'Umar agreed and Abu Lu'lu' came to Medina. Mughira got two dhms from him per day. Once, Abu Lu'lu' went to 'Umar and complained about the heavy tax.
'Umar said, “What works do you do?”
Abu Lu'lu' explained his works as a painter, iron-smith and carpenter.
'Umar said, “Considering the jobs you do, your tax is not so much.”
After a few days, 'Umar asked Abu Lu'lu' to build a windmill for him. Abu Lu'lu' said he would build such a windmill for 'Umar that all people would talk about it! 'Umar smelled threat from these words but said nothing.
It was after this encounter that Abu Lu'lu' murdered 'Umar at dawn in a mosque. He injured twelve others six,of whom died later. Then, he killed himself with a sword.214 Mas'udi said Abu Lu'lu' was a Jew but some sources have termed him as a Christian.215 This story shows that the murder was personally motivated.216
Abu Lu'lu' has been quoted as saying that apparently, after 'Umar did not respond to his protest, he said, “How is it that the caliph's justice covers everyone except me?”217 Among his motives, one can also notice the point that Abu Lu'lu' wanted to take revenge in this way because Iranians felt defeated at the hands of Muslims. However, the evidence for this claim is lacking.
There are several possibilities about who had incited Abu Lu'lu'. One is 'Ubayd Allah, the son of 'Umar. Claiming that Hurmuzan was Abu Lu'lu' accomplice in the incident and he had seen them together the previous day, 'Ubayd Allah killed Hurmuzan as well as Abu Lu'lu''s wife and daughter.
He had no reason for this act and naturally, had to be killed as Qisas, retaliation for the murder of three people for whose blood there was no supporter but the government. Even Ya'qubi says 'Umar had recommended that 'Ubayd Allah receive the Qisas!218 But 'Uthman did not agree and said, “People will say, yesterday they killed the father and today, the son.219
The second guess coming from the caliph, himself, was that maybe some of the Muhajirun were involved in the murder. So, he sent Ibn 'Abbas to them and asked, أعن ملأ منكم؟ “ Did you order my murder?” And they said, معاذ الله! ما علمنا وما اطلعنا 220 “God forbid! We did not know and were not aware of it.”
The date of the caliph's passing has been reported as the 26th or 27th of Dhil-Hajja in the year 23 A.H whereas, he was only 55 years old.221 Although elsewhere, Mu'awiya has been quoted as saying that he was 63 years old.222 This forging may have been done to show that he died at the same age of Prophet Muhammad (S).
In his last days when he had been wounded, 'Umar seemed not be so satisfied with his worldly life. He repeatedly said,
“I wish I were nothing. I wish my mother had not given birth to me. I wish I had been forsaken. I wish I were a weaver and would earn my own living.” 223
After conquering Damascus, the consecutive victories of Muslim Arabs forced many cities to ask for peace beforehand as they could gain more concessions. The city of Ba'labakk was peacefully conquered in the year 15th A.H. In the month of Rabi' al-Thani of the same year, the city of Hims which was considered one of the biggest cities of Damascus, was invaded by Muslims.
According to Baladhuri, the people of Hims who witnessed the escape of Heraclitos from their city and were aware of the repeated victories of Muslims and their patience and perseverance, took refuge inside the city after a brief encounter outside the town and called for mercy from Muslims.
In the peace deal concluded, in addition to guarantees for their life and properties, it was agreed that the city wall and churches would remain intact. Only a quarter of the Johannes church was excluded for the construction of a mosque. Muslims, too, settled down in deserted areas and in houses abandoned by their owners.224
At that time, Abu 'Ubayda divided the governorship of different regions among army commanders. Yazid Abi Sufyan was chosen for ruling Damascus, Shurahbil Ibn Hasana for Jordan, 'Amr Ibn 'As for Palestine and 'Ubayda Ibn Samit for Hims. Abu 'Ubayda, himself, set off towards Humat and Shayzar for expanding the conquests.
Heraclitos who had now lost key centers in Damascus, once again tried to organize a huge army of Romans, Damascus people, the people of Hijaz and Armenians besides the Arab tribes of Judham, Lakhm and others to fight Muslims. In historical sources, these tribes have been named as “al-Musta'raba”.225
This big war took place at the Yarmuk region which was the name of a river. Muslims are said to have numbered at 24000 and the Roman army and its allies at 200000. But, one should not forget that Heraclitos did a last-ditch effort to keep Damascus. This war was so tough for Muslims that even Muslim women had to fight.226
The Yarmuk battle ended in Muslims' victory and following his defeat, Heraclitos left for Constantinople. In this war, Jabala Ibn 'Ayham commanded the front line army of Rome. There are different stories in various sources about whether he had converted to Islam or not, why he had taken offense from 'Umar and why 'Umar had repented from his treatment of him.227
One year after the Yarmuk battle, Muslims succeeded in surrounding Bayt al-Muqaddas. Abu 'Ubayda first invited them to either accept Islam or pay Jaziyya (poll tax paid in lieu of conversion to Islam).
However, when they refused, they had to lay a siege on the city. The Nazarene community of the city, who found the situation critical, gave in to a compromise, provided that the caliph would come to al-Quds and sign the contract personally.228
'Umar was doubtful about going to Quds. So, he consulted some of the Companions. 'Uthman was opposed to the idea, but in the presence of Imam 'Ali (a), he encouraged 'Umar to go, saying it was to the benefit of Islam and Muslims. 'Umar accepted his idea. After appointing 'Uthman as his vicegerent in Medina, he headed for Quds.229 He moved towards Damascus arguably in the year 16th or 17th A.H.230
A variety of agreements were mentioned in the peace accord 'Umar signed with Damascus's Nazarene community. They received assurances that their lives would be spared. They were also assured that no church would be damaged nor any swastika broken. One of the key conditions of the accord was that Muslims should not allow Jews to live in Quds, nor should there any obligation in faith.
The residents of al-Quds also pledged to pay toll like the people of Ctesiphon. Additionally, the Romans had to leave the city. The people were also free to move their belongings to Rome or anywhere else.231 It was on this trip that 'Umar entered the mosque and inquired Ka'b al-Ahbar about the site of the altar.
“The altar should be built towards the cliff which used to be the Qibla of Jews,” Ka'b said..
'Umar was infuriated at the response, saying, “Your response resembles the words of Jews.”232
Some time after the return of 'Umar from Damascus, a dreadful epidemic of plague dubbed ”'Amwas” swept Damascus in 18 A.H. The plague claimed the lives of several Muslims including the top governor of Damascus.
Chief among the victims were Abu 'Ubayda Ibn Jarrah, Mu'adh Ibn Jabal, Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, Shurahbil Ibn Hasana, Faďl Ibn 'Abbas and Suhayl Ibn 'Amr. Yazid died a few while after Abu 'Ubayda as he had replaced him. After his death, 'Umar appointed Mu'awiya. Abu Sufyan, who had lost his eyesight at that time, appreciated 'Umar for visiting him.233 In the last few years of 'Umar's caliphate, Mu'awiya was the governor of the Greater Syria.234
One of the key towns conquered in the reign of Mu'awiya was Caesarea. It was arguably conquered in 18 or 19 A.H.235 The Arab troops were conquering further territories in the Greater Syria. In the meantime, the small towns accepted the peace treaty on their own. Many Arabs and Nazarenes adopted Islam.236
When 'Umar was in Damascus, 'Amr Ibn 'As asked for his permission to expedite towards Egypt to conquer it. It is said that in the Dark Age, he had gone to Egypt for business. So, he was somewhat familiar with it.237
'Umar was afraid of launching such a bid. As a result of 'Amr's insistence and his efforts in playing down the risk of the attack, he eventually gave in. Amro, headed by a troop of between 3500 to 4000 men, headed for Egypt. It has been narrated that after the expedition of 'Amr, 'Umar withdrew his support and told 'Amr that if he had not yet entered Egypt, eh should return. However, 'Amr had entered Egypt. It seems 'Uthman had accused 'Amr of expansionism, and had magnified the danger of the elimination of Arab troops before 'Umar.238
Egypt's governor whom Arabs called “Muqawqis” had been appointed by Romans to rule the country. He was Coptic. Hence, Prophet Muhammad (S), in a letter to him, had called him the “Chief Coptic”. The war between Muslims and the Muqawqis army lasted two years. In the meantime, Muslims conquered many areas and towns.
The main reason behind the conquest of Egypt was the difference between Egyptian Coptics and Romans. The Coptics were not very willing to defend the Romans. Muqawqis, himself, was doubtful over this matter and waited to see what would happen. His brother, Benjamin, was the bishop of Alexandria.
In the meantime, Cyrus, the envoy of the Roman emperor, had arrived in Egypt to reform the affairs. The stringent behavior further distanced the Coptics from the Romans.239 The news of the consecutive conquests of the Arab troops in the Greater Syria encouraged further people to surrender.240
The prolonged conquest of Alexandria, which dragged on for four months, necessitated the dispatch of auxiliary forces to Egypt.241 The town eventually fell to Muslims in 20 A.H. There is debate as to whether Egypt gave in through force or peace. The same doubt exists for many other towns. After the deployment of Muslims, they turned the town of Fustat, which was their military base, to their administration center and left Alexandria. This was interesting from political and militarily viewpoints.
Among the troops of 'Amr Ibn 'As, there were some non-Arab fighters, some of whom were ethnic Romans and were called “Hamra'”. The other group was the Yemeni-based Persians who had moved, along with the Arab tribes, to these regions. Following the conquest of Egypt, the Iranians were accommodated in a certain place. According to Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, the mosque raised by Muslims at the site was famous until his age in the 3rd century A.H.242
A variety of matters have been mentioned over the reasons for the escalation of Arab conquests. The conquest of every region had certain reasons. The conquest of Iran, for instance, had a totally different reason from that of Damascus. These conquests were entirely achieved by Arab Muslims.
So, it is evident that their will was the first reason for these conquests. This will stemmed, on the one hand, from their faith, and on the other from their leadership and the Muslims' administrative and legal systems over war booties.
Islam allocated a large portion for the warriors and it was natural for the needy and the hungry Arabs to go the battlefield to earn something for their families, provided that they would emerge alive from the battlefield. As a matter of fact, Muslims had no concern whatsoever of being killed, because they saw martyrdom in the path of Allah as a great achievement.
The staggering point about their will and determination was that Muslims had a high sense of self-confidence. Prophet Muhammad (S) promised Muslims victory over the Roman Empire and Iran saying, “The treasures of Caesar and Chosroe will fall to you”. Therefore, Muslims moved towards the battlefield with an iron will and full confidence in the forecast of the Prophet. Initial gains made them stronger, livelier and more confident for later conquests.
Another point is that the power of Muslims did no depend on a particular caliph, because a survey of these conquests from their start to the end of the first century A.H indicates that every caliph who had the chance of conquest, managed to capture several lands. The people's belief in the administration was a driving force of these conquests.
No opposition was raised from the side of Medina rulers. The rulers under the caliph were totally obedient. It should be noted that the caliphs picked their appointees from among the people of the second generation of the Companions who were totally submissive to them. Yet, the significance of the conquests crated an atmosphere in which even potential opponents abandoned their dream of a political rebellion. Under these circumstances, the masses of troops pressed ahead with their conquests more comfortably.
The success of Arabs in Damascus had several reasons, one of which was that the majority of the Damascus residents were Arabs, and in spite of being Christians, they were racially linked to Hijaz. Meantime, they maintained their distance from the Romans. In the early years of the conquests, some tribes including Lakhm and Judham joined Muslims, but when they found out that the war was serious, they fled to the nearby villages and left the Muslims alone.243
According to Jabala Ibn 'Ayham, the relationship of the Ansar, who originally came from the southern tribes, to him was, أنتم اخوتنا وبنو أبينا “ You are our brethren and children of our fathers.”
During the conquest of Qinnasrin, the residents of the town hinted that they were also Arabs and did not want to fight against the conquerors. So, Khalid accepted their peace overture.244 The Taghlab tribe, who had teamed up with the Romans and fought along with them, said in the 13th century A.H that they would fight along with their tribe.245 There were, however, a number of other tribes who remained allied with the Romans till the end, and immigrated to the Roman territories after the conquest of the Greater Syria by Muslims.
Apart from the Arab residents of Damascus disassociated themselves from the Romans, others including Jews, the Nibti community and the Egyptian Coptics, had the same situation. Faced with the mild dealing of Muslims, they felt they could live up with Muslims and see their rights met. As soon as Muslims captured Hims, they found themselves involved elsewhere in the Yarmuk war.
They believed that they might not emerge victorious out of the Yarmuk battle, they decided to return the money received from the people of Hims to provide for their security. Faced with such a conduct, the people of Hims said, “Your friendship and justice is more likeable to us than the oppression which we are living under. We will defend our town along with you.”246
It has been said that the Nibtis aggressively cooperated with Muslims, and as the Romans did not suspect them, they spied for Muslims.247
The other point is that the there were religious differences between Damascus and Rome. Considering the fact that the Romans did not treat these people properly from both economic and political viewpoints, the remarks of Will Durant hold true, “As the conqueror Arabs invaded Egypt and the Far East, half the people of those regions welcomed their arrival, because they viewed them as their liberator from the clutches of religious, political and economic oppression of the Byzantine capital.”248 At any rate, after the expansion of conquests, several towns followed the line of surrender.249
'Umar's caliphate was accompanied with several conquests of Muslim troops in Syria, which started with the conquest of Damascus. In these circumstances, some measures had to be adopted in Iraq. Firstly they were needed to stabilize its situation in favor of Muslims and, secondly, to expand the conquests. In the meantime, the town of Hira was freed from the Iranian control. Hence, Iranians were waiting for an opportunity to repel the new threat.
Arab troops were led by Muthanna Ibn Haritha. Yet, Medina's caliph, like the era of Abu Bakr, was determined to dispatch a commander from the known Saudi clans to Iraq. The nominee was Abu 'Ubayd Ibn Mas'ud Thaqafi, the father of Mukhtar, from the Thaqafi clan, which used to be an ally of the Quraysh. Heading a 5000-strong troop250, Abu 'Ubayd encouraged many tribes on his way to conduct Jihad and win booties.
A large number of people joined him.251 It was decided that Muthanna work under the command of Abu 'Ubayd. Iranians amassed a troop headed by Bahman Jadiwayh (Men of Shah Hajib) east of the Euphrates, whereas Abu 'Ubayd's forces lined up on the western side of the Euphrates. The Arabs crossed the bridge and launched the battle.
Despite the bravery of Muslims, the mammoth elephants existing in the Iranian army frightened the horses of Arab forces. As the Arabs had damaged the bridge, they had no way back. So, they sustained heavy losses and casualties. At any rate, a temporary bridge was built over the river and the Arabs lost out the war to Iran which was dubbed “Yawm al-Jisr” or the Day of the Bridge with a death toll of 4000 people.252
Ibn A'tham, however, has narrated this event in a manner that it seems Muslims could defeat the Iranians and return to their army base.253 Yet, the fact that the Iranians did not chase the Muslims indicates that they lacked the necessary readiness to do so. This even probably occurred in Sha'ban or Ramaďan 13 A.H.254
Abu Mikhnaf and others say 'Umar was upset even until one year after the Jisr event. In the meantime, Muthanna Ibn Haritha called the Arabs to Jihad. 'Umar gradually thought of continuing the operation. Afterwards, around 700 people headed by Mikhnaf Ibn Salim, thousands headed by 'Adi Ibn Hatim, and a number of people from the Banu Tamim tribe joined the Arab troops in Iraq.255 The Bujayla tribe also joined the Arab force, under the condition that one-fourth of the booties would be given to them.256
The Arabs clashed with the 12000-strong Iranian troops, headed by Mihran Ibn Mihrbandad (Mihrwayh Hamadani)257 at the Buwayb, a river branching out from the Euphrates River. Mihran was killed in the battle and the Iranian army suffered a crushing defeat. Several Iranians were captured and Muslims earned large amounts of booties.
Muthanna displayed noticeable bravery in the battle. The poems of 'Urwa Ibn Zayd al-Khayl about the command of Muthanna are notably exaggerating, “Among the commanders of Iraq, we have not seen anybody like Muthanna who belongs to ash-Shayban.”258 Some time after the event, Muthanna Ibn Haritha died from the wounds he had sustained in the Jisr battle.
The battle occurred arguably in the 13th or 14th A.H. As 'Umar did not take any action for battle until a year later, this event should have not taken place sooner than 14 A.H. The victory boosted the morale and courage of Muslims and they constantly invaded the Iraqi lands which were still under the control of the Iranians. They also invaded a large market place set up near Baghdad. This issue indicated that Iran was not capable of providing the security of Iraq and had to think of a solution as soon as possible.
According to Dinwari, when Suwayd Ibn Qutba (who had some power around Basra) heard the news of these wars from Muthanna Ibn Haritha, he demanded 'Umar to strengthen the weak situation of southern Iraq and dispatch some forces to the region. 'Umar who seemingly did not have much trust in Suwayd to transfer the military command to him, sent a contingent of 1000 people, headed by 'Utba Ibn Ghazwan, to the region. 'Umar accompanied 'Utba out of Medina.
Referring to the passage of Muslims forces from the Euphrates through Hira to Ctesiphon, he told him to move towards Ahwaz and dissuade its residents from helping the Iranian army. 'Utba reached the place nowadays called Basra where there were only a number of ruined houses. It was the residence of Iranian border guards, who were commissioned with preventing the aggression of Bedouin Arabs.
The first region attacked was Ubulla, on the outskirts of Baghdad. 'Utba wrote the news of this victory to the caliph, describing the town as a harbor of ships coming from 'Umman, Bahrayn, Fars, India and China.259 When the news of the victory reached Medina, the people asked 'Utba's envoy about the situation of the region. He told them about the amounts of gold and silver which Muslims had obtained. The news triggered an influx of Arabs towards the region.260
Ubulla was located four leagues from Basra. It apparently existed until the 7th century A.H.261 With the development of Basra, Ubulla lost its grandeur. Ubulla and other towns like Khurayba which was conquered shortly later, were said to be the concentration center of Iranian border guards.
Yaqut says, “Basra was built beside an ancient Iranian city named Vahishtabad Ardishir. This city was ruined in the attacks of Muthanna Ibn Haritha, so when Muslims went to that region to build Basra, they called the city “Khurayba” (ruin).262 Afterwards, Khurayba became a district of Basra.
According to Dinwari, the conquest and establishment of Basra took place before the Qadisiyya war. The fact that Basra was constructed before Kufa indicates that 'Utba had reached southern Iraq before reaching Qadisiyya. Noting this issue, Yaqut has mentioned that after reaching Qadisiyya, 'Utba moved to southern Iraq and to Basra.263
What is important is that around 15 and 16 A.H, two war fronts were opened against Iran, one in Kufa where some troops were advancing towards Ctesiphon, and the other in Basra from where the Arabs were moving to capture the southern Iranian lands in Khuzistan.
The two fronts led to the establishment of the two important towns of Basra and Kufa in Iraq, which later laid the cornerstone of the Islamic Iraq, in addition to Baghdad which was built in the 2nd century A.H. It is said Basra refers to a land which has black pebbles.264 Quoting Hamza Isfahani, Yaqut says that according to Mubadh Ibn Asawhasht, Basra is the Arabic form of “Bas Rah”, meaning so many roads, because several routed led to this town.265
After the conquest of Ubulla, 'Utba Ibn Ghazwan asked the caliph to set up a town for Arab immigrants. After studying the regional situation, 'Umar authorized the construction of the town. Thus, Basra was founded. After a while, 'Utba felt that Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas was exceeding his limits in giving him unrelated orders. 'Utba, who considered himself an appointee of 'Umar, protested to Sa'd and left for Medina.
As soon as 'Umar heard the news, he asked, “Why is he not ready to accept the rule of a man from the Quraysh who has been a Sahabi, too?” 'Utba protested that he, too, was a ruler from the Quraysh and that Prophet Muhammad (S) had said, مولى القوم منهم “ Lord of people is from Ahl al-Bayt.”
It seems that 'Umar had asked 'Utba him to return to Basra, but 'Utba died shortly.266
In an address to the people of Basra, 'Utba said in 17 A.H that,
There is no prophethood not to have been rejected by a king. I seek refuge in that the Allah from the day Sultan becomes the king.”267
We said that the Buwayb event frightened the Iranians. This time, the Iranians mobilized a larger army led by Rustam Farrukhzad—the commander of Iranian forces in Adharbayjan—to prevent Arabs' invasion. Ibn A'tham has described the way Bahram, the governor of Hamadan; Shirzad, the governor of Qum and Kashan; Banduwan, the provincial governor of Isfahan and Khurshid, the governor of Riy, dispatched their forces to the battlefield.268
In return, the caliph had to find a powerful commander for his troops. 'Umar initially thought he would travel to Iraq, but the Medina notables advised him against it. A number of people were nominated for the command, one of them Imam 'Ali (a). Advised by 'Umar, 'Uthman talked with Imam 'Ali (a). Yet, Imam shunned accepting the responsibility. The next choice was Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas who was suffering from a thigh injury.269
He could not even mount on the horseback.270 So, he did not attend the battle. The battle ever marked the worst defeat of the Iranians was called the “Qadisiyya war”. Qadisiyya was the name of a small border town located amid the Taff Desert, 50 miles from Kufa. The town had a fortress and some palm groves and plantations. Around 4-6 miles from Qadisiyya, there was a resort named 'Udhayb which had a spring, and was virtually the end of the desert. Sa'd set up his camp at 'Udhayb, whereas Rustam camped outside Qadisiyya.271468
Wild conjectures have been given over the number of Iranian and Arab forces. Yet, it can be guessed that the Arab forces numbered between 20 to 30 thousand272 and the Iranians were between 3 to 4 thousand more. Meanwhile, Ibn A'tham has put the number of Arab forces at 60 thousand.71 Rustam remained at Diyr A'war273 for four months to settle the matter peacefully. Rustam tried to satisfy the Arabs, whom he thought, were fighting for food.274
Additionally, the four months of stay at the camp could weaken the power of Arab forces. On the other hand, Muslims did not abandon their condition that the Iranians should accept Islam and pay toll or engage in war. Acceptance of the first two proposals of the Arabs was impossible, because Iran was a superpower. So, Rustam had to give in to war.
Ibn A'tham writes, “At the request of Yazdgard, Sa'd sent some envoys including Mughira h to Ctesiphon to Yazdgard's court. As they entered the court, they sat on the ground except Mughira h who sat by the king on his seat.
The king asked him, “What are these clothes? What are you wearing?”
Mughirah replied, “It is Yemeni silk.”
Yazdgard took this as bad omen and said in Persian, “Burdand Jahan ra,” meaning “They plundered the world”.275 So, he ordered the start of the war. The Qadisiyya battle lasted only four days, with each day having a specific name. They were called Armath, Aghwath, 'Ammas and Qadisiyya.276 The battle ended in favor of Arabs and Rustam was killed during the war. The Iranian forces withdrew as far as Diyr Ka'b where new forces under the command of Nukharijan helped them.
Therefore, the Iranians refurbished their army and made a new onslaught. Dinwari says as Nukharijan entered the battlefield, he began crying out “any man, any man” to invite a contender.277 Nukharijan was, however, killed by Zuhayr Ibn Sulaym (Mikhnaf Ibn Sulaym's brother). This time, too, the Iranians were defeated and withdrew as far as Ctesiphon.
The Arabs achieved the win very hard, because they suffered huge losses. It is said that a group of Iranians gathered around Iran's black flag, saying, “We will not abandon our place unless we are killed.” and they did so.278 The bravery of the Iranians made it difficult for the Arabs to defeat them. Abu Raja' Farsi quoted his grandfather, who had been in the Iranian army at the Qadisiyya war, as saying that the Arabs had to spray many arrows on the Iranians and the battle had become so tough for them.279
There are differences of opinion on the year of this war. Waqidi has conceded that it took place in 16 A.H.280 Armenian historian, Ilyas Nusaybini, has cited Jumadi al-Awwal 16 A.H as the date of the war. Meanwhile, Ibn Ishaq has mentioned 15 A.H as the year of the war. A researcher has said that the war occurred in the month of Sha'ban, 15 A.H.281 During the war, the emblem of the Sassanids troops fell to Muslims;282 an issue which indicates the crushing blow that the Iranian government suffered in the war.
In the aftermath of the war, Sa'd found out the necessity for establishing a town named “Dar al-Hijra” for the tribes who had immigrated to the region from Hijaz for war. Had Basra been established by then, it could have been a model for Kufa. Yaqut has cited ten reasons for the naming of Kufa.283
It is said that a number of places were surveyed. As the site was suitable for the raising of sheep, horses and camels, 'Umar preferred Kufa284, which was previously called Surastan.285 After the site of the mosque and the palace of administration were determined, the nearby regions were divided between the northern and southern tribes.
The town initially seemed transient because the tribes set up their houses from reed. So, at times of Jihad, they removed the reed framework and ceded them to others. As they took their wives with themselves to the war, they had to build new quarters after their return. It was only at the time of Mughira that people began to build clay structures. Yet, they did not build any rooms inside. Under the reign of Ziyad Ibn Abih, brick houses became popular.
Yaqut writes that the caliph wrote to Sa'd, saying the mosque should have enough space to accommodate the participants in the war. So, it was built with a capacity of 40 thousand people.286
Hence, Kufa became one of the most important Islamic towns. At the same time, 'Umar sent a letter to the people of Kufa, writing, “To the people of Kufa, to the center of Islam.” He also said of Kufa that it was,
To Kufiyans, to center of Islam.” And saying about that,
They are divine spear, treasure of faith and renowned among Arabs.”
Salman has also called Kufa as the place “where there is Islam”.287
After the Qadisiyya war, Muslims chased the Iranians and set up a military camp on the western rim of the Euphrates n front of Ctesiphon. According to Dinwari, they stayed there for 28 months, so long that they could eat dates of the palm trees twice!288 By that time, Muslims had dominated parts of Ctesiphon or Ctesiphon—meaning towns in Arabic.
Ctesiphon consisted of seven nearby towns, protected by barracks. Entry into the greater town was possible through symmetrical gates designed around the city. On the Western side of the Tigris, were the cities of Bih Ardishir (Arabic, Bihrasir), Seleucids (Sulukiyya), Darzijan, Sabat and Mahuza while on the river's eastern side were the cities of Ctesiphon, Asbanbar and Rumiyya which was called Wiya Andyu Khusraw. The king resided at Ctesiphon's white palace and the palace of Mada'in where the banquets and parties were held, was located in Asbanbar.289
Muslims captured the Western area after a brief clash and were stationed in Bihrasir. The destruction of bridges by Iranians290 kept Arabs behind the Tigris for a long time but they finally managed to cross the river and enter the town. When Iranians saw the Arabs, they cried out, “The devils came! The devils came!”291
Kharihzad was initially supposed to stay in Mada'in as long as possible. However, when Arab crossed the Tigris and reached behind the city gates, fled from the town's eastern side and retreated towards western Iran.292 The Arab's entry into the city was as a big victory for them. Now, the capital of the Sassanids kingdom had been conquered and numerous booties were available to Arabs. Among them, were things Arab had never seen until then. For instance, they poured camphor into their food, thinking it was salt!293
Before that, Yazdgard had taken the royal family along with the treasures and other portable belongings and had fled to Qasr Shirin294 in Iran's western mountains. From there, he went to the town of Hulwan near the present-day town of Sar Pul Dhahab. Kharihzad, too, who had failed to keep Ctesiphon, set off in the same direction and settled in Jalula.
In order to keep Ctesiphon, Arabs had no way but to chase this army. Therefore, Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas sent an army led by Hashim Ibn 'Utba to follow them. Iranians dug a ditch around them in Jalula, waiting for the arrival of backup forces from Yazdgard, Jibal and Isfahan. But, Muslims did not wait for these forces and launched the offensive.
In this battle, Hujr Ibn 'Adi commanded the left wing of the army of Islam. Iranian forces were defeated in the war and had to retreat to Hulwan. After that, Yazdgard did not see it right to stay any longer in Hulwan, so he fled towards the region of Jibal in Qum and Kashan. A 4000-strong force of Muslim Arabs was tasked with protecting Iraq against the infiltration of Iranians in Jalula.295 Now, Muslims were on the eastern side of the Tigris as well and were conquering those regions. Mihrud and Khaniqayn were in that part. Finally, Muslims dominated all regions around the Tigris.296
Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas was no longer interested in extending the war towards Hulwan and this annoyed some of his troops. So, he ordered an advance as far as Hulwan.297 Then, he returned to Kufa and ruled the city for more than three years until he was replaced with 'Ammar Ibn Yasir. According to Ya'qubi, after conquering Ctesiphon, Sa'd came to Kufa and the Jalula attack took place three years later in 19 A.H.298 Baladhuri, too, has mentioned the same date299, so it seems to be correct.
Now, Muslims had entered Iran from three fronts, on one side, Ctesiphon was in their hands. On the other side, Abu Musa Ash'ari has come towards Ahwaz from Basra. And the third front which had opened by 'Ala' Ibn al-Haďrami in the beginning of 'Umar's rule in Bahrayn and had achieved some success300, now had initiated a new move and had made some penetrations in some parts of Fars.301
Given the two latter fronts, Fars which was one Iran's important regions, was now threatened by invasion. Hurmuzan asked Yazdgard to dispatch him to Khuzistan and Fars for protecting those regions so that he could serve as a barrier on the way of Arabs' advance and even gather forces to help Yazdgard. Hurmuzan, along with an army, set off for Tustar (Shushtar). The news of this army reached Muslims and they started a lot of activities to prepare troops.
'Ammar was tasked with joining Abu Musa along with half of the people of Kufa. Before that, Nu'man Ibn Muqarran and thousands of his men had joined Abu Musa. Even 3000 of the 4000-strong Arab border guards who had stayed in Jalula rushed to help. The army of Islam set off towards Tustar. At first, some clashes erupted outside the city and after 1600 Iranians were killed, Hurmuzan was forced to go inside the city and close the gates.
There were also some martyrs on the side of Muslims. One of the well-known martyrs was Bara' Ibn Malik. The city was besieged for some time until one of the city's nobles showed them a secret way to enter the city. 200 Muslims forces broke into the city from that way and after killing the guards, opened the gates on Muslims.
The city was conquered and Hurmuzan took refuge in a palace. He only gave himself up after getting life assurance and under the condition that he would be sent to Medina to the caliph. 'Umar forgave him in Medina until after 'Umar's murder, hi son, 'Ubayd Allah, killed Hurmuzan under the baseless pretext that he had been seen with 'Umar's murderer, Abu Lu'lu', the day before.
After the end of the war, 'Ammar returned to Kufa and Abu Musa continued conquering other cities of Khuzistan such as Susa (Shush).302
At that time, Yazdgard was in Qum, according to Dinwari. He called on all people of Iran to assist him against Arabs who were getting closer every moment. People from Qumis (Damghan), Tabaristan, Gurgan, Damawand, Riy and Isfahan rushed to his help. They gathered a huge army and set off for war against Arab conquerors. 'Ammar wrote the news of this army to 'Umar who called on the people from the pulpit to head for Iraq.
There, 'Uthman asked 'Umar to send the Muslim army from Yemen and Damascus to Iraq. Moreover, he said the caliph, too, should go to Iraq. However, Imam 'Ali opposed this suggestion and said, “This will prompt the Romans to attack Damascus. Also, if Muslims soldiers from Yemen, there will be the threat of an assault from Abyssinia.” Imam opposed the caliph's trip to Iraq because he said Iranians would fight with more fervor if they heard the Arab king's presence.303
At any rate, an army was prepared and its command was given to Nu'man Ibn Muqarran, one of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (S). It was decided that if he were martyred, Hudhayfa Ibn Yaman, Jarir Ibn 'Abd Allah, Mughira Ibn Shu'ba and Ash'ath Ibn Qays would replace him respectively. Two armies were stationed near Nahawand. Nahawand was located between two fronts of Arabs' war against Iranians, one from Ctesiphon and the other from Ahwaz.
The two armies clashed with each other and fought intensely for four days, from Tuesday to Friday. On the last day, the confrontation was really heavy and despite the martyrdom of Nu'man Ibn Muqarran, the Iranian army was defeated.304 This victory was of great significance for Arabs, so it was named “Fath al-Futuh” (the victory of victories).305 This battle probably occurred in the year 20 A.H. In this war, a number of Muslim Arabs including their commander was martyred. They were all buried in a graveyard remained in Nahawand's history in memory of the battle's martyrs.
During the years 16 to 20 A.H, conquests continued in northern Iraq as well Muslims advanced as far as Musil, bringing Iraq under their entire control. Among the conquered regions were the cities of Harran, Nusaybin, Qirqisiya' and Samisat and many regions around the Euphrates and the Tigris.
The quick conquest of Iran and the fall of the Sassanids dynasty with all its grandeur was a surprising event that cannot be easily explained. Although similar events have occurred in Iran and other world countries and a comparative study of them can help further understanding of realities. In Iraq and Iran, many governments and dynasties, even the long-lived 'Abbasids dynasty, collapsed at the hands of Mongol nomads.
For instance, the Safawids stable and firm for more than 200 years was overthrown by several thousand Ghalzayi Afghans who had come at least 12000 kilometers to reach Isfahan. However, each of these developments must have its particular reasons. Here, it is suitable to quote a source about the political situation of Iran's government after the defeat of Iranian forces against the Roman government in the year 428 A.D.
After Iran's defeat in the war against Rome, Khusraw Parviz looking for scapegoats to blame them for his failure and among them, he decided to execute Shahrbaraz. But before he could carry out his intention, there was a rebellion and Khusraw was imprisoned and then murdered in late February, 628 A.D. Khusraw's son, Shirwayh, ascended to the throne with the title of Kuwad II.
He had joined the insurgents and had agreed with his father's murder. The new king immediately called for peace with Heraclius and accepted to recall the Sassanids armies from Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor and western Mesopotamia and recognize the pre-war borders.
It was also agreed that all prisoners of war be extradited and the Swastika and other emblems be returned. Both sides were happy with the end of the war operations which had worn out the two empires for several years. But, Shahrbaraz was dissatisfied over the establishment of peace and he was dangerous as he commanded a large army.
Kuwad II passed away after less than a year in power possibly due to plague and his son, Ardishir III, who was a little child, ascended to the throne. Shahrbaraz decided to claim the throne himself.
So, in June of 629 A.D, backed by Heraclius, he went to Ctesiphon, defeated Ardishir's forces and murdered him along with several of his prominent figures. Shahrbaraz sat on the throne, but his rule didn't last long and he, too, was murdered in less than two months. Also, another claimant in the eastern part of the empire who was Khusraw's nephew, was killed before he could come to the capital with the title of Khusraw III.
As none of Khusraw's sons was left alive, the nobles named his daughter, Puran, as the ruler. Puran was the first woman to ascend to the throne, but she, too, passed away after less than a year in power. A group of kings took power one after the other and each stayed for only a few months. The only thing we know about them is their names as follows, Puran's sister, Adharmidukht; Piruz II, Hurmuz V and Khusraw IV.
Finally, in the year 632 A.D, the nobles named Yazdgard III, the son of Shahriyar and the grandson of Khusraw II, who was almost the last survival of the Sassanids dynasty, to take the throne. Yazdgard lived in virtual hiding in the Istakhr of Fars and it was there that the last Sassanids king was crowned in a fire temple which was named after the first Sassanids king.306
These developments occurred before the start of Iraq's conquest and naturally, they destroyed Iran's political and military structures. It is clear that Yazdgard needed years to put the situation of Iran, which was under domestic and foreign pressure, back on track. But, Arabs' assaults stripped him from such an opportunity and further dealt fatal blows on Iran. The conquest of Iraq located near Ctesiphon, the Sassanids capital, was the first deadly incident which rang the alarm bell for the Sassanids rulers. Those consecutive blows disintegrated that hollow government and shattered it into pieces.
Despite the weakness of the Sassanids government, Iran's defeat cannot be entirely blamed on this incompetence. The Sassanids government did its best, as far as it could. From the Qadisiyya battle to Nahawand's Fath al-Futuh, it tried hard to stop the advancing Arabs. Each time, massive troops were prepared, multiplying the Arabs, but the Iranians' bravery and courage could not resist the will of Arabs who were sure of their victory. The most important point was Arab's faith and their full confidence in the victory of their religion because spreading Islam was their main goal.
Spuler writes, “Today, there is no doubt that the religion of monotheism was the strongest driving force behind Arabs' conquest of lands.”307 We should also remember that while fighting for monotheism, Arabs expected booties, too, after victory. They headed for battlefronts after hearing Prophet Muhammad's words who had promised them, the treasures of Caesar and Chosroe. When 'Umar wanted to provoke them, he said,
أيها الناس! إن الله عز وجل وعد نبيه محمداً صلي الله عليه واله وسلم، أن يفتح عليه فارس والروم، والله لا يخلف وعده ولا يخذل جنده، فسارعوا رحمكم الله إلي جهاد أعدائكم من الفرس، فإنكم بالحجاز في غير دار مقام وقد وعدكم الله عز وجل كنوز كسرى وقيصر، والمواعيد من الله عز وجل مضمونة وأمر الله تعالي مفعول، والقول من رسول الله صلي الله عليه مقبول، وما لم يورثكموه الله عز وجل اليوم، يورثكموه غداً وانكم لن تغنموا حتي تغيروا ولن تسشهدوا حتي تقاتلوا
“O people! The Almighty God certainly promised His Messenger, brought Iran and Rome under his conquest. He keeps His promise and never abandons His troops. God bless thee! Perform a Jihad with Iran's enemies knowing that Hijaz is not a place to stay as He, the Exalted, promised thee riches of Chosroes and Caesaer and be aware that His promises are assured and His decrees are achieved. His Messenger's words are approved as well and what He leaves thee inherited today shall be inherited tomorrow too; thou never attain booties unless thou art changed and never do thou welcome martyrdom unless thou challenge the foes.”308
The tyranny and oppression of the Sassanids government was more or less effective in arousing the people's resentment or in other words, destroying their motivation for defending the Sassanids dynasty.
It led to a reduction of military activities of the Iranian army in the battlefield. Apart from temporary collaboration which may be deemed as treason such as the cooperation of some nobles of Tustar309 and Nahawand310 in showing the way into the city, the joining of 4000 men from the Qadisiyya army to Arabs cannot be justified as treason.
Baladhuri writes, “4000 men (who were considered among the king's army) from Diylaman who were at the service of the Sassanids government, were in Qadisiyya with Rustam. When the Iranian army was defeated, they were standing at a corner. Feeling they had no shelter, they decided to embrace Islam.
After that, they called on Muslims to let them live wherever they wished and to ally with any tribe they wanted. Sa'd accepted their demand. A chief was chosen for them who were called Hamra' Diylam. Basically, Arabs called non-Arabs “Hamra'”, meaning having a white complexion. These people took part in the conquest of Ctesiphon and the Jalula battle.311 There are other examples as well which show that right after Muslims' attacks, some peasants and farmers converted to Islam.312
Qazwini has written, “Treacherous and Arabized Iranians! From the provinces' officials and nearby border guards, threw themselves into the arms of Arabs as soon as they felt the Sassanids dynasty was shaky and the Iranian army had been defeated several times at the hands of the Arab troops.
These Iranians not only helped Arabs in their conquests, but also called on Arab commanders to occupy other Iranian lands which were in their territory and had not been attacked by Arabs yet. They submitted the keys of castles and treasuries to Arabs provided that Arabs would let them stay in power in some regions.”313
The late Jalal Al Ahmad writes, “Before Islam came to confront us, we invited it. Let's forget about Rustam Farrukhzadi who desperately defended the Sassanids ferocity and the Zoroastrians' backward traditions. But, the people, Ctesiphon went into their alleys with bread and dates to welcome the Arabs who went to plunder the king's palace and the carpet of Baharistan.314
The proper treatment of victorious Arabs with the people of the cities they conquered, could encourage the people towards the sincerity of Muslims. Peace accords did not force the people into abandoning their religion and traditions. Even there was no emphasis on destroying the fire temples. The tax paid was, in most cases, less than what was received by the Sassanids government and the provincial governors from the people.
So, what reason could they have to sacrifice their lives for the Sassanids rulers. It has been said in this regard, “The peace accords of Arab armies with different town and cities, which in many cases, entailed much lighter obligations for the people compared to the taxes paid previously to the central Sassanids government, urged many Iranian to give up. They were not interested in fighting for a court that did not pay any attention to them. We should welcome the new gods who take lower taxes instead of fighting against them. This was the psychology of many Iranians.”315