Nelrajas Muhammad at Medina and R. Muhammad then asked Umar to enter Mecca to speak to the polytheists, but Umar refused, saying that he had no influential relatives in Mecca who could protect him and Umar suggested that Uthman bin Affan malayxlam sent instead. They had more of it than any other country in the Third World. In other words, he placed the Hadith of the Prophet under a proscription. Abdur Rahman is too much given to comfort and luxury; if he becomes khalifa, his wives will run the government. At the same time, he did al-khahtab allow the Muslims to exercise their freewill in the matter of choosing their ruler.

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Shibli, his biographer, says that in his youth he grazed camels. When Muhammad proclaimed his mission, many people acknowledged him as the Messenger of God. Umar acknowledged him as Messenger of God after six years. Some historians claim that Umar was a most awe-inspiring man, and when he accepted Islam, the idolaters were gripped with fear for their lives.

But this is only a case of a dominant myth being in conflict with ugly facts. When Umar accepted Islam, the idolaters remained where they were, and nothing changed for them; but it was Muhammad who was compelled to leave his home, and had to find sanctuary in a desolate ravine.

He spent three years in that ravine, and during those years of exile, his life was exposed to deadly perils every day and every night.

During this entire period of more than days, Umar, like many other Muslims in Makkah, was the silent spectator of the ordeals of his master. He made no attempt to bring those ordeals to an end. Muhammad Mustafa established brotherhood among Muslims both in Makkah and in Medina.

For his own brother, Muhammad chose Ali ibn Abi Talib in both cities. Umar was one of the fugitives of the battle of Uhud Baladhuri. At the siege of Khyber, Umar made an attempt to capture the fortress but failed. Umar was one of the fugitives of the battle of Hunayn. In 11 A. He ordered Umar to serve as a ranker in the expedition.

Though Umar spent eighteen years in the company of Muhammad Mustafa, the Messenger of God, the latter never appointed him to any position of authority — civil or military. When the Apostle of God was on his deathbed, he asked the companions to bring pen, paper and ink so he might dictate his will but Umar defied him. He did not let the Apostle dictate his will and testament. Umar was not present at the funeral of the Prophet of Islam.

He was brawling with the Ansar in the outhouse of Saqifa when the body of the Prophet was being buried. Umar was the khalifa-maker of Abu Bakr. The Banu Umayya were the traditional champions of idolatry and the arch-enemies of Muhammad and his clan, the Banu Hashim. Muhammad had broken their power but Umar revived them.

The central component of his policy, as head of the government of Saqifa, was the restoration of the Umayyads. A modern student of history might find claims made on behalf of some companions of the Prophet rather extravagant and baffling. He might notice in them the clash of popular imagination with historical reality.

But if he wishes to make a realistic evaluation of the roles they played in the lifetime of the Prophet, there is no better way of doing so than to turn away from rhapsody and rhetoric, and to focus attention on facts and facts alone. Umar had indeed dismissed Khalid because of his excesses but it appears that personal rancor was also at work.

If Khalid had been proven guilty, then Umar ought to have passed sentence on him according to the Islamic law. But there was no indictment and no investigation. Khalid was summarily dismissed and he died in poverty and obscurity in 21 A. All of these were permanent conquests. Among other events of the caliphate of Umar, were the first outbreak of plague in Syria in 18 A. Between them, the plague and the famine killed more than 25, people Suyuti and Abul Fida. Civil and Military Administration and Policy Since the empire had grown enormously in all directions, Umar had to establish an administrative system.

But the Arabs did not have any experience in administration. Umar, therefore, left the Persian and the Roman framework of administration in the conquered provinces undisturbed. The Persian and the Roman staff carried on the day-to-day work as before.

Umar founded numerous military cantonments in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. Since he wanted the Arabs to be a purely fighting and ruling class, he did not allow them to buy land and to settle down or to become farmers in the conquered territories. To assess land revenue, Umar again had to retain the Persian and the Romans systems. But in Iraq it was found necessary to survey the arable lands and to assess tax on them.

Arabs knew less than nothing about assessing land revenue. There was, however, one exception in Uthman bin Hunaif of Medina.

He was a man of outstanding ability as a revenue expert. Qadi Yusuf says that Uthman bin Hunaif was an authority in all Arabia on taxation, assessment of land revenue and land reclamation Kitabul-Kharaj and Siyar-ul-Ansar.

Within less than a year, Uthman bin Hunaif had completed the job of taking measurements of the whole new province, and of making assessments for the collection of land revenue. He was, thus, the first Financial Commissioner of Iraq, and incidentally, one of the few Ansaris to hold any position of authority in the caliphates of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman bin Affan. Abu Obaida bin al-Jarrah was appointed governor of the city of Damascus.

When Amr bin Aas conquered Egypt, Umar made him its governor. Yazid bin Abu Sufyan, the governor of Syria, died in the plague of 18 A.

When Umar heard the news of his death, he went to see Abu Sufyan to offer condolences to him. Umar appointed Muawiya the new governor of Syria. He too was dismissed in 21 A. Umar was a most exacting taskmaster for all his generals and governors.

He was quick to lend his ears to any complaint against them, and he was even quicker to dismiss them —with one exception — Muawiya! He was forever indulgent to the sons of Abu Sufyan and the clan of Banu Umayya. Muawiya, the son of Abu Sufyan and Hinda, the governor of Syria, lived in Damascus in imperial splendor, surrounded by a glittering retinue.

It was a lifestyle that Umar did not tolerate in any other governor. Tabari has recorded the following incident in Volume VI of his History. Umar was in Damascus and Muawiya came to see him every day — mornings and evenings — bedecked in regal outfit, with splendidly caparisoned mounts and escorts. His pageantry, he said, was only the outward emblem of that glory - the glory of Islam.

I am at a loss to know what to do. He could condone Muawiya anything and everything. He, in fact, appeared to be ostentatiously courting Abu Sufyan and his sons. Once he placed them at the helm of affairs, they consolidated their position, and it became impossible to dislodge them.

It was in this manner that the secular, predatory, imperialist and economically exploitative Umayyads were foisted upon the Muslims.

His successors in the Umayyad dynasty pushed those conquests as far as southern France in the west, and the western frontiers of China and the Indus valley in the east. They achieved all those conquests within years — truly one of the most remarkable series of conquests in world history.

Many centuries later, the search goes on for the answer to the question: How did the Arabs conquer so much so soon? Also, the Persians and the Romans were handicapped by heavy baggage, and they lacked mobility. The Arabs, on the other hands, were highly mobile. They could strike at a target of their choice, and then retreat into the desert on their swift camels where the enemy cavalry could not enter as it did not have logistical support.

In their campaigns, the Arabs were invariably outnumbered by their enemies but this was not necessarily a handicap for them. History abounds in examples of small forces of volunteers standing up to and defeating large conscript armies.

But the Muslims themselves, discount most of these reasons for their success. According to many of them, the secret of their success was in the piety and the religious zeal of the Muslim soldiers. The propulsive power behind the Arab conquests of the seventh century, they say, came from Islam, and every Arab who left the peninsula to attack the Fertile Crescent, was a mujahid or a holy warrior, fighting for the glory of God.

This claim, however, is only partly true. Without a doubt there were those Muslims who wished to spread the light of Islam in the world but also there were others, and they were the overwhelming majority, who fought for the material rewards that the conquests promised to bring to them. They had developed a distinctly secular appetite for power and riches.

Joel Carmichael The predominant incentives that drove the Bedouin out of the peninsula were bodily hunger and greed, natural consequences of the straitened circumstances there and of the endless opportunities for enrichment offered by the cultivated societies they overran. Another of these ten pious men personally promised paradise by Mohammed owned real property in the amount of 30 million dirhems; on his death his steward had over two million dirhems in cash.

More particularly, the pietism that was to become the hallmark of later Islam, at least in certain of its manifestations, was utterly alien to the initial Arab conquerors. It has been pointed out, the driving force behind the Muslim Arab conquests was not religious in the least, but a migratory impulse rooted in the millennial condition of the Arabian peninsula.

Men like Khalid and Amr bin Aas , for instance, were obviously no pietists or mystics; their interests were thoroughly practical. The switching over of the Meccan aristocracy to the side of the Muslims is a telling illustration of the swift and irresistible injection of purely secular elements into the earliest enterprises of the Umma, which though formulated on the basis of religion, was articulated on the basis of politics.

The Shaping of the Arabs, New York, It is true that religion was the factor that propelled the Muslims out of Arabia; but once it had done so, it did not play any significant role in the conquests that followed. Its role was catalytic in the eruption of the Arabs. If religion and piety were the cause of the success of the Muslims in their campaigns, then how would one explain the success of the nations which were not Muslim? Some of those nations were the enemies of Islam yet they were, at one time, triumphant on a scale that matched, and sometimes surpassed, the conquests of the Muslims.

The conquests of the Arabs were astounding in their vastness but they were not, by any means, unique. Almost one thousand years before the rise of Islam, Alexander the Great, a young Macedonian, conquered, within ten years, all the lands from the Balkan peninsula to the frontiers of China, and from Libya to the Punjab in India.

He was a polytheist. Wherever he went, he worshipped the local gods. His conquests were not inspired by any religion. In fact, religion did not figure anywhere in his conquests. If he had not died at 32, he would have conquered the rest of the world.





A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims




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