Umar Ibn Khattab

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Umar Ibn Khattab, the second caliph and founder of the Arab empire; b. 592, ruled. 634-644. At first he was a declared enemy of the Prophet’s message. Tradition places his conversation to Islam in 618 when he was 26 years old. He belonged to the Banu Adi Ibn Ka’b who enjoyed no political influence at Mecca. Due to his strength of will, his influence began in Median, in perfect agreement with Abu Bakr. He became the Prophet’s father-in-law when thye Prophet married his daughter Hafsa. He took part in the battle of Badr, Uhud and later ####ones, although his part was that of a counsellor rather than of a soldier. After the death of Abu Bakr, he was recognised as the latter successor by the majority of the Companions, there being dissatisfaction only on the side of the party of Imam Ali and of the “Helpers”, who had already suffered defeat when Abu Bakr became caliph two years earlier. During the great expansion of Muslim conquests, which had already begun, Umar never lost control of his generals. He dismissed Khled Ibn Walid and treated Amr Ibn As with tact. Hew also made use of the powerful family of the Umayyads. All the political institutions by which the Muslim state was later to be ruled had their origin in his caliphate. The regulations for the non-Muslim subjects, the founding of military centres out of which were to grow the future great cities of Islam, the creation of the office of judge , they were all his work. Religious ordinances, such as the prayer of Ramadan and the obligatory pilgrimage, as well as civil and penal ordinances, such as the era of the Hijra, the punishment of drunkenness, and stoning as a punishment for adultery, go back to him. Umar is said to have substituted in 640 the title of “Commander of the Believers” (Amir al-Mu’menin) for that of deputy. He fell in 644 by the dagger of Abu Lu’lu’a. Aa a motive for the murder, tradition gives the very heavy tax against which the slave had appealed in vain to the caliph. Umar really was the second founder of Islam, but the Shia has never concealed its antipathy to him because he was the first to thwart the claims of Imam Ali.


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