On his death bed Umar was requested to make a testament for the guidance of his successor. Umar addressed the following testament to his successor:
"I enjoin upon you to have trust and faith in God, He Who has no peer.
Be kind and generous to the Muhajreen and the Ansar. Those out of them who are good, be good to them; those who are bad overlook their lapses.
Be good to the people of the conquered lands. They are the outer line of our defense; they are the target of the anger and distress of our enemies. They contribute to our revenues. They should be taxed only on their surplus wealth.
Be gracious to the Bedouins as they are the backbone of the Arab nation.
I instruct you to be good to the Dhimmis for they are your responsibility. Do not tax them beyond their capacity. Ensure that they pay the Jizya without undue inconvenience.
Fear God, and in all that you do keep His pleasure in view. In the matter of people fear God, and in the matter of Allah do not be afraid of the people.
With regard to the people, I enjoin upon you to administer justice with an even hand. See that all the legitimate requirements of the people are met. Be concerned for their welfare. Ensure the safety of their person and property.
See that the frontiers of our domains are not violated. Take strong steps to guard the frontiers.
In the matter of administration do not prefer the rich to the poor. Be hard against those who violate the law. Show them no mercy. Do not rest content until you have brought the miscreants to book.
Treat all the people as equal. Be a pillar of strength for those who are weak and oppressed. Those who are strong but do wrong, make them pay for their wrong-doings.
In the distribution of booty and other matters be above nepotism. Let no consideration of relationship or selfish interest weigh with you.
The Satan is at large; it may tempt you. Rise above all temptations and perform your duties in accordance with the injunctions of Islam.
Get guidance from the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Freely consult the wise men around you. Apply your own mind in difficult cases, and seek light from God.
Be simple in your living and your habits. Let there be no show or ostentation about you. Lead life as a model Muslim. As you are the leader of the Muslims, justify your leadership by being the best among them all. May God bless you."
His son Abdullah also desired some words of parting advice. Umar asked him to hold fast to the fundamentals of faith. Abdullah asked what these fundamentals were.
Umar said that these were:
Abdullah enquired what was the mud of destruction, and Umar said it was wine-bibbling.
Atika the wife of Umar burst into the following elegy on the death of Umar:
"Eye, let thy tears and weeping be abundant,
She also said:
"Firoz has deprived us of such a fair complexioned, fair minded person
Another wife of Umar mourned his death in the following terms:
"The death of Umar has overwhelmed me with such grief
Bint Abi Hashma said:
"We mourn the death of Umar
Hafsa expressed her grief in the following terms:
"I am bearing this bereavement with patience,
A poet mournfully said:
"Because of the leadership of Umar,
Sa'id bin Zaid, the brother-in-law of Umar, wept grievously. He was asked why he was weeping so profusely. He said:
"I am not weeping for Umar. I am weeping for Islam in which cracks will appear after his death."
Seeing the face of Umar, Ali said:
"Salutations of God to thee,
'Usman seeing the face of Umar said:
"Out of us, who can equal Umar?"
A number of traditions have come down to us which speak of the Holy Prophet's assessment of Umar.
Before the conversion of Umar to Islam, the prayer of the Holy Prophet is on record wherein he prayed "O God, glorify Thy faith by the conversion of Umar."
There is a tradition that when Umar was converted to Islam the Holy Prophet said that Gabriel had visited him to say "O Muhammad, verily the dwellers in Heaven rejoice with you at the conversion of Umar."
According to Abu Hurrayrah, the Holy Prophet once related a dream in the presence of Umar. The Holy Prophet related, "While I was asleep, I saw myself in paradise, and beheld there a woman performing her ablutions by the side of a house. I enquired whose house it was, and I was told that it was Umar's. The lady said that she belonged to Umar. Then recollecting how jealous Umar was in the matter of women, I turned back, and thereafter I woke up". Hearing this, Umar said, "O Prophet of God, everything of mine is at your service; how can I be jealous of you in any matter?"
On another occasion, the Holy Prophet had another dream. He related:
"While I was asleep, I dreamt that I drank milk. Then that milk began to flow from my fingers. That milk I asked Umar to drink, and he drank to his fill." The Holy Prophet was asked to interpret the dream and he said that the dream signified that among his followers, Umar would excel every one in knowledge.
According to another tradition, the Holy Prophet said, "While I was asleep, I saw the people presented to me. These people wore garments. Some had garments reaching to their breasts, and some had garments which reached their toes. Then Umar was presented, and upon him was a garment which was so long that he dragged it as he moved". The Holy Prophet was requested to interpret the dream. The Holy Prophet said that the significance of the dream was that Umar would be a source of strength and service to Islam.
Al-Bukhari carries a tradition according to which the Holy Prophet said that there was to be no prophet after him, but if there were to be no bar to such prophethood, Umar would have been the prophet. That was the highest tribute that the Holy Prophet could pay to Umar.
According to another tradition the Holy Prophet said, "Verily God has placed truth upon the tongue of Umar, and upon his heart." According to an allied tradition, the Holy Prophet said, "Never did a thing come upon the people, and they said one thing regarding it, and Umar another, but the Qur'an revealed it after the manner that Umar had said. The greatest tribute was paid to Umar, when the Holy Prophet said, "God speaks through the tongue of ;Umar."
There is a tradition that Gabriel once came to the Holy Prophet and said, "Greet Umar with a salutation, and tell him that his anger is glory and his approval, command."
According to a tradition, the Holy Prophet said, "Umar is the lamp of the dwellers in paradise."
A tradition is on record according to which pointing to Umar the Holy Prophet said, "Umar is a strongly bolted gate against discord. As long as he lives in your midst, there will be no discord among the Muslims."
We have it on the authority of 'Ayesha that the Holy Prophet said, "Verily I behold the evil spirits among genii and men, fleeing from Umar". In the same strain the Holy Prophet said, "Verily Satan avoideth Umar."
There is another tradition according to which the Holy Prophet said, "There is not an angel in Heaven, but he revereth Umar, and not a demon on earth but he fleeth from Umar.",
On the occasion of the last pilgrimage the Holy Prophet said, "Verily God approved of the conduct of the pilgrims at Arafat in general and Umar in particular".
There is a tradition that in the days of his illness the Holy Prophet said, "The Truth after me is with Umar, wherever he may be."
About Umar's victory against Satan, the Holy Prophet said, "Verily Satan hath never met Umar since his conversion, but he hath fallen prostrate on his face."
According to a tradition the Holy Prophet said, "Gabriel said to me, 'verily Islam will weep at the death of Umar."
According to a tradition the Holy Prophet expressed his attachment to Umar in the following terms: "He who hateth Umar hates me, and he who loveth Umar loves me".
Some traditions have come down to us "hereunder the Holy Prophet paid joint tributes to Abu Bakr and Umar.
Abu Hurrayrah said:
"I heard the Holy Prophet say, 'while a shepherd was in the midst of his flock, a wolf rushed upon it and carried from it a sheep and the shepherd pursued it, the wolf turned to him and said, who will be a protector to it on the day of resurrection-the day when there will be no other shepherd than myself. As a man was driving an ox which he had laden, it turned to him and said, Verily I was not created for this but for tillage."
The companions cried, "Good God! Should an ox talk." The Holy Prophet said:
"I believe in it, and likewise Abu Bakr and Umar."
This is indicative of the Holy Prophet's trust in the faith of Abu Bakr and Umar.
The Holy Prophet said:
"There was never a prophet but he had two Ministers from the dwellers in heaven and two Ministers from among the dwellers on earth. My two Ministers of the dwellers of heaven are Gabriel and Michael, and of the earth Abu Bakr and Umar'."
It is related in a tradition that one day the Holy Prophet entered the mosque with Abu Bakr and Umar, one of them on his right hand, and the other upon his left. He held their hands and said:
"Thus shall we arise on the Day of Judgment."
According to another tradition, the Holy Prophet looked on Abu Bakr and Umar and said:
"They are my hearing and my sight."
There is another tradition according to which turning to Abu Bakr and Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
"Praise be to God, Who has strengthened me with ye two." On one occasion, addressing Abu Bakr and Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
"If you two are agreed upon any matter, I would not oppose you."
The Holy Prophet also said:
"Every prophet has chosen ones among his people and verily my elect from among my companions are Abu Bakr and Umar."
The Holy Prophet said:
"Love towards Abu Bakr and Umar is faith; hatred towards them is infidelity."
The Holy Prophet said on another occasion:
"Love towards Abu Bakr and Umar and a knowledge of them is an injunction of the law."
The Holy Prophet also said:
"Verily I hope for the same benefit for my people by their profession of love towards Abu Bakr and Umar that I hope for them by their profession of faith there is no god but God'."
Abu Bakr said about Umar, "There is not upon the face of the earth a man dearer to me then Umar." When Abu Bakr was on his death bed, it was said to him, "What will you say to God, now that you have appointed Umar as your successor?" Abu Bakr said, "I will say to Him that I appointed over His people the man who was the best among them all."
After the death of Umar, Ali said in the course of one of his sermons:
"When Umar became the Caliph, there were some people who approved of his caliphate and there were some who disagreed. During his caliphate he administered the affairs of the State strictly on the lines laid down by the Holy Prophet and his successor Abu Bakr. He followed them in the same way as a child follows its mother. Verily he was a pillar of strength for the weak, the poor, and the aggrieved. He was for the Muslims a source of honor, prosperity and victory. Nothing stood in his way in promoting the cause of Truth. He was so discriminating in truth that we come to believe that the angel spoke through his tongue. By being converted to Islam, he became a source of honor and strength for Islam His migration was a cause of strengthening the religion of Islam. God made the infidels fear Umar, and the pious Muslims love him. As he was very harsh with the enemies of Islam, the Holy Prophet compared Umar to Gabriel. As he had a fiery temper the Holy Prophet compared him to Nuh, O ye Muslims bear in mind that after the Holy Prophet, among his followers the two best persons were Abu Bakr, and Umar."
Ali used to say, "When the righteous are mentioned, then be quick and mention Umar." Ali also said "We used to say not without reason that the Divine Presence spoke by the tongue of Umar."
Abu 'Ubaida bin Al-Jarah, the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces in Syria said:
"When Umar will die, Islam will be disgraced. I do not wish that I should survive Umar. I wish to die during the life-time of Umar."
'Abdullah bin 'Abbes said:
"May God bless the soul of Umar. By God he was a pillar of strength for Islam. He was the shelter for the orphans and the widows. By his conduct he fortified the faith of others. He was a model Muslim. The weak relied on him for the redress of their grievances. He was a great helper of the people. As a Caliph he promoted the interests of Islam. Under him the standard of Islam was carried east and west, and the call to prayers could be heard in plains and on hills even in distant lands. In the states when he was hard or humble he maintained the dignity of Islam. He remembered God at all times. He was indeed the gem of a man. May Allah humiliate the person who talks ill of Umar, or bears him any enmity."
Ibn Masiud said:
"If the wisdom of Umar were placed in the scale of a balance, and the wisdom of living things upon the earth in the other scale, the wisdom of Umar would outweigh them, and verily the people used to think that Umar carried nine-tenth of the wisdom of the world."
Ibn Mas'ud on another occasion said:
"Verily Umar was the most learned of us all in the Book of God, and most profoundly versed in the religious ordinances of Allah."
On the death of Umar, Ibn Mas'ud said:
"Umar was the fort of Islam. The people could enter the fort but could not come out of it. With the death of Umar that fort has fallen and now people would come out of it." 'Abbas said about Umar:
"I was a neighbor of Umar. After the Holy Prophet I have not found any person superior to Umar in the love of God. He spent the greater part of night in prayer. Throughout the day he worked hard to win the pleasure of Allah".
On the death of Umar, Saeed b. Zaid said:
"With the death of Umar, Islam has come to grief. His death has caused a breach in the citadel of Islam which would not be filled up."
Abu Hudhaifa said:
"It is as if the wisdom of mankind lay hidden in the bossom of Umar. By Allah I know not a man whom the reproof of the censurer in what relateth to the service of God, does not touch, but Umar." He also said, "In the time of Umar Islam attained the climax of glory. After his death Islam will have to face difficulties."
'Ayesha said of him "By Allah, Umar was active in affairs, singly undertaking their management."
Abu Talha Ansari said, "By God, there is no Muslim household which has not suffered because of the death of Umar."
Ibn Umar said, "I never saw any one after the Holy Prophet, from the time that he died, any person more vehement and yet more beneficent than Umar."
Ibn 'Abbas was asked about Umar, and he said, " Umar was like a wary bird who apprehended a snare at every step to trap it."
Amir Muawiyah said, "Abu Bakr sought not the world, and the world sought him not. In the case of Umar, the world sought him, but he sought it not."
In his book "Lives of Successors of Muhammad", Washington Irving estimates the achievements of Umar in the following terms:
"The whole history of Umar shows him to have been a man of great powers of mind, inflexible integrity and rigid justice. He was more than any one else the founder of the Islamic empire; confirming and carrying out the inspirations of the Prophet; aiding Abu Bakr with his counsels during his brief Caliphate; and establishing wise regulations for the strict administration of the law throughout the rapidly-extending bounds of the Muslim conquests. The rigid hand which he kept upon his most popular generals in the midst of their armies, and in the most distant scenes of their triumphs, gives signal evidence of his extra-ordinary capacity to rule. In the simplicity of his habits, and his contempt for all pomp and luxury, he emulated the example of the Prophet and Abu Bakr. He endeavored incessantly to impress the merit and policy of the same in his letters to his generals. 'Beware' he would say of Persian luxury both in food and raiment. Keep to the simple habits of your country, and Allah will continue you victorious; depart from them and He will reverse your fortunes'. It was his strong conviction of the truth of this policy which made him so severe in punishing all ostentatious style and luxurious indulgence in his officers. Some of his ordinances do credit to his heart as well as his head. He forbade that any female captive who had borne a child should be sold as a slave. In his weekly distributions of the surplus money of his treasury, he proportioned them to the wants, not the merits of the applicants. 'God' said he, 'has bestowed the good things of this world to relieve our necessities, not to reward our virtues: those will be rewarded in another world'."
In his book "The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall" Sir William Muir says as follows about Umar:
"Umar's life requires but few lines to sketch. Simplicity and duty were his guiding principles; impartiality and devotion the leading features of his administration. Responsibility so weighed upon him that he was heard to exclaim 'O that my mother had not borne me; would that I had been this stalk of grass instead!' In early life, of a fiery and impatient temper, he was known, even in the later days of the Prophet, as the stern advocate of vengeance. Ever ready to unsheathe the sword, it was he who at Badr advised that the prisoners should be put to death. But age, as well as office, had now mellowed this asperity. His sense of justice was strong. And except it be the treatment of Khalid, whom according to some accounts, he pursued with an ungenerous resentment, no act of tyranny or injustice is recorded against him; and even in this matter, his enmity took its rise in Khalid's unscrupulous treatment of fallen foe. The choice of his captains and governors was free from favoritism and (Al-Mughira and Ammar excepted) singularly fortunate. The various tribes and bodies in the empire, representing interests the most diverse, reposed in his integrity implicit confidence, and his strong arm maintained the discipline of law and empire. . . Whip in hand he would perambulate the streets and markets of Madina, ready to punish slanders on the spot; and so the proverb Umar's whip is more terrible than another's sword'. But with all this he was tender hearted, and numberless acts of kindness are recorded of him, such as relieving the wants of the widows and the fatherless."
In his classical work "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon refers to Umar in the following terms:
"Yet the abstinence and humility of Umar were not inferior to the virtues of Abu Bakr: his food consisted of barley bread or dates; his drink was water; he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places; and a Persian satrap, who paid his homage as to the conqueror, found him asleep among the beggars on the steps of the mosque of Muslims. Economy is the source of liberality, and the increases of the revenue enabled Umar to establish a just and perpetual reward for the past and present services of the faithful. Careless of his own emolument, he assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, the first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand dirhams of pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of the aged warriors? The relics of the field of Badr and the last and the meanest of the companions of Mohammad was distinguished by the annual reward of three thousand pieces. Under his reign and that of his predecessors, the conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God and the people; the mass of public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens, and then united, by a rare felicity, the dispatch and execution of despotism with the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government."
In his book "History of the Arabs" Professor Philip K. Hitti has assessed the achievements of Umar in the following terms:
"Simple and frugal in manner the energetic and talented Umar (634-644) who was of towering height, strong physique and bald headed, continued at least for some time after becoming the Caliph to support himself by trade and lived throughout his life in a style as unostentatious as that of a Bedouin Sheikh. In fact, Umar, whose name according to Muslim tradition is the greatest in early Islam after that of Mohammad, has been idolized by Muslim writers for his piety, justice and patriarchal simplicity and treated as the personification of all the virtues a Caliph ought to possess. His irreproachable character became an exemplar for all conscientious successors to follow. He owned, we are told, one shirt and one mantle only, both conspicuous for their patchwork, slept on a bed of palm leaves, and had no concern other than the maintenance of the purity of the faith, the upholding of justice and the ascendancy and security of Islam and the Arabians. Arabic literature is replete with anecdotes extolling Umar's stern character. He is said to have scourged his own son to death for drunkenness. Having in a fit of anger inflicted a number of stripes on a Bedouin who came seeking his succor against an oppressor, the Caliph soon repented and asked the Bedouin to inflict the same number on him. But the latter refused. So Umar retired to his home with the following soliloquy: 'O son of Al-Khattab humble thou wert and Allah has elevated thee, thou went astray, and Allah hath guided thee; thou were weak, and Allah hath strengthened thee. Then He caused thee to rule over the necks of thy people, and when one of them came seeking thy aid thou didst strike him! What wilt thou have to say to thy Lord when thou presentest thyself before Him'. The one who fixed the Hijrah as the commencement of the Muslim era, presided over the conquest of large portions of the then known world, instituted the state register and organized the government of the new empire, met a tragic and sudden death at the very zenith of his life when he was struck down by the poisoned dagger of a Christian Persian slave in the midst of his own congregation."
"The Encyclopedia Britannica" remarks about Umar:
"To Umar's ten years' Caliphate belong, for the most part, the great conquests. He himself did not take the field, but remained in Madina; he never, however, suffered the reins to slip from his grasp, so powerful was the influence of his personality and the Muslim community of feeling. His political insight is shown by the fact that he endeavored to limit the indefinite extension of Muslim conquest, to maintain and strengthen the national Arabian character of the commonwealth of Islam; also by making it his foremost task to promote law and order in its internal affairs. The saying with which he began his reign will never grow antiquated: 'By God, he that is weakest among you shall be in my eye the strongest, until I have vindicated for him his rights; he that is strongest I will treat as the weakest, until he complies with the law'. It would be impossible to give a better general definition of the function of the State."
In his book "History of Egypt", Jurji Zaidan, a Christian historian has paid a tribute to Umar in the following words:
"In his time various countries were conquered, spoils were multiplied, the treasures of the Persian and Roman Emperors were poured in streams before his troops, nevertheless he himself manifested a degree of abstemiousness and moderation which was never surpassed. He addressed the people clad in a garment patched with leather. He was himself the first to practice what he preached. He kept a vigilant eye over the Governors and Generals and enquired strictly into their conduct. Even the great Khalid bin Walid was not spared. He was just to all mankind and was kindly even to non-Muslims. Iron discipline was maintained every where during his reign."
In his well known book "History of the Saracens", Justice Syed Amir Ali has rated Umar in the following terms:
"The death of Umar was a real calamity to Islam. Stern, but just, far-sighted, thoroughly versed in the character of his people, he was especially fitted for the leadership of the unruly Arabs. He had held the helm with a strong hand and severely repressed the natural tendency to demoralization among nomadic tribes and semi-civilized people when coming in contact with the luxury and vices of cities. He had established the Diwan or the Department of Finance, to which was entrusted the administration of the revenues; and had introduced fixed rules for the government of the provinces. He was a man of towering height, strong build, and fair complexion. Of simple habits, austere and frugal, always accessible to the meanest of his subjects, wandering about at night to inquire into the condition of the people, without any guard of court, such was the greatest and the most powerful ruler of the time."
Shah Wali Ullah has described the talents and achievements of Umar graphically in the following terms:
"Imagine the heart of Umar as a house with many gates. At each gate is seated a noble genius. At one gate stands Alexander the Great with all his genius for conquering countries, commanding armies and vanquishing foes. At another gates sits Anushirwan with all his gentleness, magnanimity, justice, and love of his subjects. And yet at another gate sits a spiritual leader like Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani or Khawaja Bahauddin. At another gate sits Hadith specialists like Abu Huraira and Ibn Umar, and yet at another gate sit thinkers of the caliber of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and Sheikh Fariduddin Attar. And people are standing around this house and every needy one represents his need to the Imam of his branch of knowledge and goes away satisfied."
Put in simpler words, this tribute means that:
Umar was known for his great knowledge and wisdom. He often expressed his thoughts in words conspicuous for their wisdom. A number of his sayings have come down to us, and these show the depths and dimensions of his thoughts and expressions. We give hereunder the various sayings attributed to Umar, which we have been able to gather from various sources:
In "Kashful Mahjub", Ali Hajveri has assessed Hazrat Umar as a Sufi. The assessment of Ali Hajveri is in the following terms:
"He was specially distinguished by sagacity and resolution, and is the author of many fine sayings on Sufism."
The Holy Prophet said:
"The Truth speaks by the tongue of Umar", and again "There have been inspired Muhaddith in the peoples of antiquity, and if there be any such in my people it will be Umar."
"Retirement is a means of relieving one's self of bad company." Retirement is of two sorts; firstly, turning one's back on mankind, and secondly, entire severance from them. Turning one's back on mankind implies choosing a solitary retreat, and renouncing the society of one's fellow creatures. It also lies in seeking release for one's self from intercourse with men, and in making all people secure from one's evil actions. But severance from mankind is a spiritual state, which is not connected with anything external. When a person is severed from mankind in spirit, he knows nothing of created beings and no thought thereof can take possession of his mind. Such a person, although he is living among the people, is isolated from them, and his spirit dwells apart from them. This is a very exalted station, and Umar held that station.
Umar held this station for externally he lived among the people as their Commander and Caliph, but his spirit dwelt apart from them. His words show clearly that although spiritualists may outwardly mix with mankind, their hearts always cling to God and return to Him in all circumstances. They regard any intercourse they may have with men as an affliction sent by God; and that intercourse does not divert them from God, since the world never becomes pure in the eyes of those whom God loves.
"An abode which is founded upon affliction cannot possibly be without affliction " The Sufis make Umar their model in wearing a patched frock and rigorously performing the duties of religion."
We have it on the strength of Al-Baihaqi that in Sufist strain, Umar often said:
"Would that I were a ram, that my people might fatten me as it appeared good to them, so that when I became as fat as could be, those whom they loved might visit them, and they might kill me for them, and make part of me roast, and part of me dried flesh, and eat me, and that I were not a mortal man."
Umar was blessed with the gift of forecasting events by playing upon the meaning of words.
When on the eve of the battle of Nihawand, the Governor of Kufa sent a messenger to Umar, he forecast the coming events by asking the messenger his name and the name of his father. When the messenger said that his name was 'Qareeb' meaning 'near', and his father's name was 'Zafar' meaning 'victory', Umar forecast that for the Muslims victory was near.
It is recorded that once a man waited on Umar. He asked him what was his name. He said that his name was 'Jamrah', meaning a live coal.
Umar then asked him about his father's name, and he said that his father's name was 'Shihab' meaning 'flame'.
Umar then enquired to which tribe he belonged. He said that he belonged to the tribe of 'Al-Harrah', meaning 'heat'.
He was asked where did he live and he replied 'Al-Harqah' meaning 'warmth'.
Umar asked him what was his clan and he said 'sat Ladha' meaning 'blazing'.
Then Umar said:
"Go home, for all your people have been burnt."
When the man went home, he found that his family had been burnt to death.
It was a custom with the Egyptians that a virgin was thrown in the river Nile to secure a rise in the surface of the water. When the Muslims conquered Egypt this inhuman practice was stopped. Instead of a virgin a card written by Umar was thrown in the river, and immediately the water rose in the river.
It is on record that when a contingent of the Muslim army under Sariyah fighting in Fars were exposed to danger, Umar while delivering Friday sermon in the Prophet's mosque shouted 'Sariyah to the hills'. The command was listened to by the Muslims in the battlefield thousand miles away and was complied with resulting in victory for the Muslims.
Umar had a highly developed sense of discriminating the truth from falsehood. Whenever a person spoke the truth, Umar would listen to him attentively, but whenever a person spoke anything false, Umar would promptly say "withhold that".
It is related that the people of Kufa pelted their Governor with stones. When Umar heard of this he was much annoyed. He was distracted even in his prayer. When he came to the salutation he said:
"O God verily they have put confusion on me. O Allah you put confusion upon them, and place over them a youth of the Banu Thaqif who may rule over them after the manner of the rule of the time of Ignorance."
This forecast came true when al Hajjaj came to rule over Iraq in the time of the Umayyads.
Many instances are on record when Umar gave a particular opinion and that opinion was later on corroborated by Allah and conurmation thereof was communicated to the Holy Prophet through Gabriel. That is why the Holy Prophet repeatedly said:
"God speaks through the tongue of Umar."
Umar suggested that the station of Abraham in Mecca should be used as a place of prayer. Later an injunction to this effect was revealed to the Holy Prophet.
Umar suggested that the wives of the Holy Prophet should be veiled. Later a verse was revealed enjoining the wives of the Holy Prophet to be veiled.
Umar suggested that the use of wine should be prohibited. Thereafter God enjoined the prohibition of wine.
'Abdullah b. Ubbay though a Muslim was insincere in his professions and was the enemy of God and the Holy Prophet. When he died the Holy Prophet led his funeral prayer. Umar suggested that the Holy Prophet should not pray at the funeral of those who were the enemies of God and the Prophet. A verse was later revealed enjoining the Holy Prophet not to pray at the funeral of those who were the enemies of God and His Prophet.
When there was an imputation against the conduct of 'Ayesha, Umar said that this was a grievous calumny. Later a verse was revealed declaring the episode as a calumny and establishing 'Ayesha's innocence.
After the battle of Badr, it was decided that the prisoners of the Quraish should be released on ransom. Umar said that the prisoners being the enemies of God should be killed. Later according to a revelation the Holy Prophet was enjoined that the enemies of God should be killed.
When the Azan was originally proposed the contents of the call were:
"I testify that there is no god but Allah-come ye to prayers."
Umar suggested, "The words 'I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God' should be added". A revelation corroborated this suggestion.
The practice was that people went to see the Holy Prophet unannounced. Umar suggested that all visitors should seek permission before being admitted to the presence of the Holy Prophet. A verse was later revealed enjoining the asking of permission before entering the presence of the Holy Prophet.
Once two persons to a dispute referred the case to the Holy Prophet and the Holy Prophet gave his verdict. One of them appealed against the decision of the Holy Prophet. Umar slew him with his sword. A verse was revealed absolving Umar from the death of the person who did not believe in the judgment of the Holy Prophet.
Once a Jew said to Umar, "Verily Gabriel who speaks to your Master is our enemy." Umar retorted, "Whosoever is an enemy to God, or His angels, or His Apostles, or Gabriel, or Michael, verily God is an enemy to the unbelievers." Later a verse was revealed declaring that God was the enemy of unbelievers.
Before his conversion to Islam, Umar had three wives. They were:
When Umar was converted to Islam, Zainab alone accepted Islam. After the Hudaybiah pact when God sent the words that Muslims should not marry idolatresses, Umar divorced Malaika and Qariba.
After the Hudaybiah-pact the first Muslim woman who fled from the Quraish and sought shelter with the Muslims was Sabiha bint Al-Haris. Her husband did not accept Islam. When the Quraish came to demand the restoration of Sabiha, the Holy Prophet refused to return her saying that the condition in the pact applied to men only and not to women. The Holy Prophet had Sabiha married to Umar.
In Madina, Umar married an Ansar lady Asiah bint Sabat Ansari. On marriage Umar changed her name to Jamila. Umar resided with her at Quba, and it is reported that there was great love between Umar and Jamila. A few years later Umar divorced her and shifted to Madina.
'Atika bint Zaid was a cousin of Umar. She was married to 'Abdullah a son of Abu Bakr. When her husband died, Atika felt very disconsolate. In sympathy, Umar married her in the first year of his caliphate.
Umm Hakim was the wife of 'Ikramah the son of Abu Jakl. 'Ikramah died fighting and thereafter Umm Hakim married Khalid bin Sa'id. Khalid bin Sa'id was also martyred on the Syrian front. Umm Hakim doubly bereaved was much grieved, and Umar consoled her by marrying her.
In 639 A.D., Umar married Umm Kulsum the daughter of 'Ali and Fatima. Till his death in 644 A D., Umm Kulsum remained his favorite wife.
Besides these wives, Umar had two slave girls who bore him children. These were Fakiah and Layiah.
Umar's sons included: 'Abdullah; 'Asim; Abu Shahma; Abdur Rahman; Zaid; 'Iyad and Mujir. 'Abdullah became a convert to Islam at an early age along with his father. He made a great name for himself as an expert in Fiqh and Hadis. 'Ubaidullah was well known for his bravery and fighting qualities. In revenge for the assassination of Umar, 'Ubaidullah killed Hormuzan and some other persons. 'Asim was known for his poetry and piety. Umar bin 'Abul 'Aziz the puritan Uyymaid Caliph was his daughter's son. Abu Shahma was flogged to death by Umar for the offence of drinking.
The daughters of Umar included: Hafsah Fatimah, Ruqiya and Zainab. Of these Hafsah was the most well-known as she was the wife of the Holy Prophet.
'Abdullah, 'Abdur Rahman Akbar, and Hafsah, were born to Zainab bint Mazaun.
'Ubaidullah and Zaid Asghar were the sons of Umm Kulsum who was divorced after the Hudaybiah pact.
Umm Hakim was the mother of Fatimah.
'Asim was the son of Jamila bint Sabat Ansari.
Umm Kulsum bint'Ali was the mother of Zaid and Ruqiya.
'Iyad was the son of 'Atika.
Layiah was the mother of 'Abdur Rahman al-Wast.
Fatimah was the daughter of Umm Hakim.
Zainab was the daughter of Fakiah.
It is related that once 'Utbah bin Abifarqad came to see Umar at his house. 'Utbah was an eminent Companion. When he was announced Umar was taking his meals. 'Utbah was asked to come in. Umar wanted 'Utbah to share his food with him. 'Utbah started eating, but the bread was so coarse that he could not swallow it.
Umar watched 'Utbah and then said:
"'Utbah, what is the matter?"
'Utbah sighed and said:
"O Commander of the Faithful why are you imposing such austerities on your self? Why don't you use finer flour for your bread? You can certainly afford it."
"Fie on you 'Utbah, you are seducing me to the devil's way."
"So many Muslims eat fine bread. Do you think they are the followers of the devil?"
"'Utbah tell me, can every Muslim afford fine bread ?"
"Of course every Muslim cannot afford such bread, but many can."
"When I am the Commander of the Faithful and supposed to watch over the interests of all Muslims, how will I be true to my office when I eat fine bread, while most of the Muslims have to remain content with coarse bread? Verily, I will not eat bread of fine flour unless I am sure that all the Muslims are assured of such bread."
To this 'Utbah had no reply and Umar put him another question:
"Utbah are you aware of the food of the Holy Prophet?"
'Utbah said that the Holy Prophet ate coarse bread.
Why was that asked Umar.
'Utbah said that he might better answer the question himself.
"The Holy Prophet held the keys of the treasures of the world. He could have enjoyed untold wealth and availed of any pleasure but he purposely refrained to do so. He did not wish to exhaust all such pleasures in this world. He wanted them to be kept in reserve for the next world."
Then Umar elaborated "Look 'Utbah, we are the followers of the Holy Prophet. It is incumbent on us to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet. As the Holy Prophet did not wish to exhaust all the pleasures in this world, so as his followers it should be our endeavor to live a life of austerity and cut down our pleasures in this world, so that we may be loaded with pleasant things in the world to come."
Having spoken these words and shuddering as to what might happen to him on the Day of Judgment, Umar began to weep. That made 'Utbah weep as well.
When 'Utbah left, he was fully resolved that hence forward he would eat coarse food, and avoid luxurious living. And thanks to the example set by Umar, 'Utbah kept his resolve.
It is related that one day Hafsa (the daughter of Umar) and 'Abdullah his son expostulated with Umar, and tried to prevail upon him to eat good food. They argued that if he were to eat good food that would give him the strength to maintain the truth.
"I understand your counsel. My difficulty is that I have left my two companions, the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr upon a road, and if I depart from their road, I shall not find them at the journey's end. Under the circumstances I am under an obligation not to eat richer or better food than what my two esteemed companions ate."
It is related that once Umar felt the desire to eat fish. Fish was not available in Madina. Yarfa the slave of Umar went to the ponds outside Madina and there purchased some fish. The fish was cooked and presented to Umar at his meals. Turning to Yarfa, Umar said:
"Why this dish of fish?" Yarfa said that as he had expressed the wish to eat fish, he had procured it. Umar said, "Fie on you Yarfa. Do you think I should succumb to sensual desires? Take away this dish. By Allah I will not eat it."
Umar set up very high standards of integrity for himself and his family members. He took particular care to see that such standards were followed strictly. Whenever Umar issued any instructions for the people to follow, he brought home to his family members that he expected them to conform to such instructions strictly.
He issued strict orders that no member of his family should accept any gift from any person. Hence Umar found a new carpet with his wife Atika. He wanted to know from where the carpet had come. She said that it had been presented by Abu Musa Ashari, the Governor of Basra. Umar had the carpet immediately returned to Abu Musa. Abu Musa was reprimanded in strong terms for sending a gift to the wife of the Caliph.
'Abdullah the son of Umar purchased some camels. They were lean and were purchased cheaply. 'Abdullah sent these camels to the state pasture where they fattened. These were then sold in the market and fetched a high price. When this was brought to the notice of Umar he ordered that as the camels had been fed at the state pasture whatever profit had accrued in the sale of the camels should be deposited in the state treasury.
Once Umar saw a small girl who was lean, thin, and emaciated. Umar enquired who the girl was. 'Abdullah the son of Umar said that she was his daughter, and that she had lost weight because with the allowance that Umar allowed to his family nourishing food could not be provided. Umar said that he was giving them what he gave to other families and he could not give his family anything more than what he did to other families.
Once 'Abdullah and 'Ubaidullah two sons of Umar went to Basra. There they obtained a loan from Abu Musa on the condition that the amount would be paid to the state treasury at Madina. With this amount they purchased some merchandise and sold it at Madina. They earned considerable profit which they kept for themselves and credited the principal amount in the state treasury. When Umar came to know of this transaction he wanted his sons to credit the entire profit to the state treasury as the money with which they had traded was state money. 'Abdullah kept quiet but 'Ubaidullah protested. He said that if there had been a loss the state would not have shared it. Umar stuck to his decision, but 'Ubaidullah protested again. Some other companions intervened and it was decided that it should be treated as a case of partnership. Umar allowed his sons to retain one half of the profit and to deposit the other half in the state treasury.
Once Umar received a considerable quantity of musk. It had to be weighed and then distributed. Umar was in search of a person who could weigh musk with meticulous care. Atika the wife of Umar offered to do so as she was expert in the job. Umar did not accept the offer on the ground that when she weighed and distributed it some musk would be attached to her hands and clothes and that would be misappropriation in state property.
Once Umm Kulsum a wife of Umar purchased perfume for one dirham and sent it as a gift to the Byzantine empress. The Byzantine empress returned the empty phials of perfume filled with gems. When Umar came to know of this he sold the gems. Out of the sale proceeds he handed over one dirham to his wife and the rest was deposited in the state treasury.
Once some gifts were received in the Baitul Mal. Hafsa waited on Umar and wanted a share. Umar said:
"Dear, you have a share in my personal property, but I cannot give you a special share out of the property that belongs to the Muslims as a whole. You can get only what other Muslims get."
His son-in-law once waited on him and wanted some assistance from the Baitul Mal. Umar paid him some money from his own pocket, and did not give him anything from the Baitul Mal.
Once after distribution a ladies scarf was found surplus. The custodian of the Baitul Mal suggested that this might be offered to Umm Kulsum the wife of Umar. Umar said:
"No. Present it to Umm Salit the lady who carried the water skin on her back on the day of the battle of Uhud to distribute water among the Muslim warriors."
Once after accounting, one dirham was found surplus in the Baitul Mal. The treasurer gave the dirham to a small son of Umar. When Umar came to know of that he had the dirham returned immediately.
'Abdullah a son of Umar fought in the battle of Jalaula. He got his share of the spoils and sold it on the spot. This fetched a high value. When Umar came to know of that he said that he was allowed the high price because people thought that he was the Caliph's son. He ordered that the profit earned beyond the market value should be credited to the state treasury.
One of the sons of Umar drank wine inadvertently in Egypt. He submitted himself voluntarily to the punishment of 80 stripes at Egypt Umar was not satisfied. He called the boy to Madina and flogged him to death. When the boy was on death bed Umar said to him, "When you meet the Holy Prophet tell him that Umar is following hi' injunctions strictly."
During the ten years of his rule from 634 to 644 A.D., Umar changed the course of history. Emerging from the deserts of Arabia, the Arabs fortified with the faith of Islam overpowered the Byzantine power in the west and the mighty Persian empire in the east. During the short space of ten years the Muslims conquered countries comprising an area of 2,251,030 square miles. Under Umar the Islamic dominions assumed the dimensions of a continent. These extended from Mecca 1,036 miles to the north, 1.087 miles to the east, and 483 miles to the south. These countries included Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Khuzistan, Fars, Isfahan, Azarbeijan; Armenia, Makran and Khurasan. The dominions extended from the Oxus to the Nile.
There have been many conquerors in the course of history and the record of the conquests of Umar compares very favorably with the record of other conquerors. In one point the conquests of Umar surpass the conquests of all other conquerors. Whereas the conquests of other conquerors did not endure for long, the conquests of Umar in the name of Islam have endured for the last 1,400 years.
In the history of the world, Umar accordingly occupies a prominent position. He is one of the greatest men of all times. The passage of time has in no way dimmed the glory of his greatness. The life-story of Umar which we have tried to narrate in these pages projects in unmistakable terms all the qualities that male greatness. Umar lives in history as a great conqueror, a great ruler and the founder of the Muslim state. Umar lives in legend as an embodiment of all that a great ruler or a great man should be.
The qualities and characteristics of the personality of Umar include: towering personality; robust constitution; great power of mind; inflexible integrity; strong sense of justice; simplicity of habits; contempt of pomp and luxury; strong faith in his mission; strong conviction for the truth; highly developed sense of duty; absolute impartiality; devotion to Islam; extreme sense of dedication; very strong sense of justice; sympathy for the aggrieved; courage against the oppressor; energy; piety; humility; discipline; frugality; morality; political insight; accessibility; vigilance; patience; perseverance; accountability before law; equality for all; and indeed all the virtues that a ruler or a leader of men should possess.
Umar was a man of great knowledge and learning. He was a good orator. Every Friday he would address the faithful in the Prophet's mosque at Madina. Some of the addresses that he delivered on such occasions have come down to us and are masterpieces of religious teaching. While sending his forces on various expeditions he addressed them in very inspiring terms. He was a good writer and some of his letters which have come down to us show the skill of his penmanship. The instructions that he issued to his officers to regulate statebusiness are very much modern in content. Many anecdotes about him have come down to us, and these project his greatness, wisdom, and foresightedness. He was a good judge of poetry. He could freely quote appropriate verses to suit the occasion. He was a good judge of men. He could discern the truth from falsehood. He always called a spade a spade, and would never mince matters. Whatever he regarded as the truth he spoke it even though it might appear to be bitter. He enjoyed the reputation of being hard and harsh, but that was primarily because he always valued the truth, and had no hesitation in expressing it even though it might be displeasing. Howsoever stern or angry he might be, if the verses of the Holy Qur'an were read before him he would at once soften, and even burst into sobs.
Physically as well as intellectually he was a man of towering personality. But he never tried to give the impression that he was in any way superior to the people around him. He was a good critic, but his criticism was not meant for others; alone it was meant for himself as well He listened to his critics with great respect and if such criticism was unfounded he tried to explain things to them. He subjected himself to rigorous self-criticism. Whenever there was any lapse on his part, he would shut himself in a room of his house and then loudly reprimand himself. If he beat any body with his whip inadvertently and such punishment was found to be unjustified he would ask the person concerned to beat him with the whip in the same way as he had beaten him. During the famine he refused to take ghee or meat simply because the people of average means could not afford such food. He was the ruler of vast dominions but he denied himself all privileges of rulership. The allowance that he drew was just enough for a person of average means. When the people around him insisted that his allowance should be raised, he refused to accept any increase. And when he died he willed that after the sale of his property the entire amount of the allowance that he had drawn should be refunded to the treasury.
He set very high standards of integrity, and was the first to practice what he preached. His son 'Abdullah was a very talented man but he refused to give him any office. One of his sons Abu Shama was found guilty of drinking and Umar had him flogged to death. Once a Governor gave some gift to one of his wives. Umar returned the gift and rebuked the Governor. Once a wife of Umar sent some perfume as a gift to the wife of the emperor of Byzantine. The wife of the emperor of Byzantine sent some gift in return. Umar sold the gift and credited the proceeds to the state treasury.
He ate the coarsest of food, and wore clothes of the coarsest of cloth. Once he was late for the Friday prayer and the explanation that he offered was that he had his clothes washed, and they took some time to dry which delayed his departure for the mosque Umar the ruler of the largest empire of the time had only one shirt in his wardrobe and that too was patched. When the envoy of the Byzantine emperor came to Madina, he expected that the Caliph would be living in a heavily guarded palace. The envoy found no palace and no guard. He found the Caliph sitting in the mosque in the company of ordinary people. Umar was the living embodiment of the doctrine of equality before law. Once he appeared in a suit in a law court and when the Judge wanted to show him some respect for the office he held, he desired that no preference should be shown to him in any way and that the law must have its course. When a messenger riding a dromedary came from Iraq carrying the news of the victory of the Muslims at the battle of Qadisiyya, Umar met the messenger a few miles outside Madina and ran all the way by the side of the dromedary of the messenger hearing the news and without disclosing his identity to the man who had brought the news. When Umar went to Palestine to receive the surrender of the city of Jerusalem the world witnessed the strange spectacle of Umar's slave riding the camel, and Umar the mighty Caliph, walking on foot holding the reins of the camel.
Umar would perambulate the streets of Madina at night carrying his whip in his hand. The whip would freely descend on any one found guilty of any lapse or excess regardless of his status. Once a chief was found passing through the streets of Madina at the head of a procession of his followers. Umar whipped him for this display of arrogance. A prince of Syria who had accepted Islam and was staying at Madina and Mecca as a state guest slapped a man who accidentally trod on his feet in the course of the Hajj. Umar laid down that the man who had been slapped could in turn slap the prince.
Umar kept a watch over the people as a shepherd would keep a watch over his animals. A blind woman in Madina had no one to attend to her needs. Umar visited her frequently and attended to her needs. In a cottage a woman was found cooking stone in a kettle merely to give the children the impression that food was being cooked for them whereas there was nothing in the house to be cooked. Umar carried a bag of flour and other eatables on his own back and handed them over to the lady. A Bedouin and his wife came to Madina and were in a predicament as the lady suffered from the pains of childbirth. Umar's wife acted as a midwife and Umar sat all the time outside the tent awaiting the birth of a child.
He took particular care to appoint men of approved integrity to high offices under the state. He watched over them like a hawk, and as soon as any lapse on their part came to the notice of Umar immediate action was taken. People were free to complain against their officers. Impartial enquiries were held and when any officer was found guilty he was removed and punished. All the Governors were required to assemble at Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj, and here any person could complain against any officer. Umar exhorted all concerned to realize that the officers were not meant to rule; they were there to serve the people, and build up a welfare state. Umar's concept of administration was:
"By God he that is weakest among you shall be in my eyes the strongest until I have vindicated for him his right. He that is strongest I will treat as the weakest until he complies with law."
No political thinker or ruler since Umar has been able to come forward with a better concept of the purpose of the state than the concept enunciated by Umar. About the ruler and the ruled relationship, Umar said:
"People generally hate their ruler and I seek protection of Allah lest my people should entertain similar feelings about me."
Some of his standing instructions to his executive were: "Avoid vain suspicions; keep away from malice; do not encourage people to cherish vain hopes; be careful in respect of Allah's property in your charge; be accessible to the people; guard yourself against evil men; seek the company of the righteous; attend to your job with due diligence; do not procrastinate in the dispatch of state business; watch your subordinates; take immediate action against those who are corrupt or inefficient; and award merit." All these instructions given 1,400 years ago would be as true today as these were then.
Umar stood for quick and impartial justice. Umar appointed capable and upright persons as Judges. He instructed his Judges in the following terms:
"Justice is an important obligation. Treat the people equally in your presence, in your company, and in your decisions, so that the weak despair not of justice and the high placed have no hope of your favor . When you are in doubt on a question and find nothing about it in the Quran or in the Sunna of the Prophet think over the question; ponder over the precedents and analogous cases and then decide by analogy."
Umar took special pains to project Islam in the proper perspective as a living faith. There was a school of thought who held that religion was mystical and supra-rational and as such the injunctions of religion including Islam were not to be tested on the basis of intellect or reason. Umar founded what later came to be called Israr Ilmuddin. He held that Islam was a rational religion and all its injunctions and practices could be tested and justified on the basis of reason and intellect. He was the first Muslim to undertake Ijtihad, and lay down new laws in keeping with the spirit of Islam. In the Holy Quran no punishment was laid down for drinking. Umar laid down a penalty of 80 lashes in this behalf. The position about Mutah was not clear. ' Umar forbade Mutah. The position about three divorces was not clear. Umar held that even when three divorces were announced at one sitting the divorce was irrevocable. In the month of Ramadan Umar enjoined upon the Muslims to offer Tarawik in congregation.
Umar took pains to ensure that the faish of Islam should remain pure and should have no characteristic of idolatry about it. The tree under which the Holy Prophet took the oath of allegiance on the occasion of the Hudaybiah pact came to he regarded by the people as something sacred. Umar had the tree uprooted to avoid idolatrous veneration thereof. On the way from Madina to Mecca there was a mosque where the Holy Prophet had once said his prayers. It became the practice that the pilgrims offered extra prayers at the mosque. Umar forbade the practice. The Black Stone at the Kaaba came to be held as sacred. Umar held that it was just a stone. At one stage the Holy Prophet had ordered Rummal in Hajj, under which the first rounds in the case of the Kaaba were to be performed running. Umar was of the view that Rummal had been provided under circumstances which no longer existed. He did not abrogate the practice but nevertheless held that if some body could not run that did not matter.
Umar is known for his humanitarian reforms. He provided privileges for slaves. He emancipated girl slaves who bore their masters children. Full protection was afforded to the Dhimmis. In the matter of citizenship they were treated at par with other citizens.
In the social field Umar took particular steps to build a social order according to the teachings of Islam. Prohibition was enforced with great strictness. It was the practice with Arab poets to mention the names of their beloveds in their poetry. Umar prohibited the practice. The poets also indulged in satires and lampoons. Umar issued strict instructions that no poet should write satires and lampoons. Umar also ordered that in their verses the poets should not extol non-Islamic virtues. Umar laid down that no person, howsoever rich should build a double storeyed house, and no house should comprise more than three rooms.
The political and social order that Umar set up by applying the principles of Islam was more democratic than the democracies of today and more socialist than the socialist countries of today. That order has remained the ideal for all Muslim countries to revive.
Because of his achievements, Umar occupies an outstanding place in the history of the world. We do not come across any other ruler in world history who led so simple a life and yet inspired awe and terror among his people and his foes alike. The awe and fear that Umar commanded was because of his high moral character People feared him because he feared God. Umar was an embodiment of the virtues of Islam. About him the Holy Prophet said:
"If God had wished that there should have been another prophet after me, he would have been Umar."
About Umar we can appropriately say what Girami said of Iqbal, namely:
"In the eyes of those who know the secret of things, He fulfilled a prophet's role, but he cannot be called a prophet."
Umar led a very eventful life. We narrate hereunder in chronological order the main events in the life of Umar.
Umar was born in Mecca around 580 A.D. He started independent business around 600 A.D. He married in the first decade of the seventh century.
He was converted to Islam in 616 A.D. at the age of 26. He migrated to Madina in 622 A.D.
He participated in the battle of Badr in 623 A.D.
He participated in the battle of Uhud in 625 A.D. A few months after the battle of Uhud, Hasah the daughter of Umar was married to the Holy Prophet of Islam.
In 627 Umar participated in the battle of the Ditch and the campaign against Banu Mustaliq.
In 628 Umar was present on the occasion of the Hudaybiah pact. Thereafter he participated in the Khyber campaign. He divorced his wives Qariba and Malaika who did not accept Islam. He married Sabiha and Jamila.
In 630 Umar participated in the conquest of Mecca and in the campaigns of Hunain and Ta'if.
In 632 he participated in the farewell pilgrimage. This year the Holy Prophet died. Umar played an important role in getting Abu Bakr elected as the Caliph.
Abu Bakr died in 634, and Umar became the Caliph. During this year the Muslims captured Damascus on the Syrian front. On the Iraq front there was the battle of Namaraq in September; the battle of Kaskar in October and the battle of the Bridge in November 634 A D.
In 635 Umar married Atika. During the Ramadan Umar organized Tarawih on congregation basis. On the Syrian front the battle of Fahl was fought in January. Beisan and Tabariyya were captured in March. The battle of Marj Rum was fought in March whereby Damascus was reoccupied. In April the Muslim forces reached Emessa and a truce was arrived at. In the Southern Iraq sector Ubala was captured in April. The region of Aburqubaz and Meisan was occupied in November.
In 636 Umar introduced the Hijri calendar. In Central Syria the city of Emessa was captured in March. In Southern Syria the Muslims won the battle of Yermuk in August. the battle of Ajnadin was fought in December. On the Iraq front the battle of Qadisiyya was won by the Muslims in November. Thereafter began the march to Al-Mada'in. The battles of Burs, Babylon and Sura on the way to Mada'in were fought in December.
In 637 Umar married Umm Hakim. This year stipends and allowances were sanctioned for the Muslims. On the Syrian front Qinissrin, Aleppo, and Antioch were captured. The whole of North Syria was cleared of the Byzantines. On the Iraq front Mada'in was captured in April. Takeet and Mosul were occupied in May. The battle of Jalaula was won in November. Khanqueen and Qirqassia were occupied in December.
In 638 Umar adopted the title of 'Amir-ul-Mumnin.' The Jews and Christians were expelled from Arabia proper and settled in Iraq and Syria. On the Syfian front Jerusalem and Caesaria were captured. On the Iraq front Hulwan, Masabzan, Heet and Ahwaz were captured. During the year the city of Kufa was established in Central Iraq, and the city of Basra in Southern Iraq.
In 639 Arabia was afflicted by a severe famine. Umar organized relief measures on a large scale. Plague broke out in Syria and Iraq and caused considerable havoc. Amr bin Al-Aas marched to Egypt. On the Iraq front Ahwaz, Dauraq and Ram Hormuz were occupied by the Muslims.
In 640 there were battles of Farma, Bilbeis and Babylon in Egypt which were won by the Muslims. On the Iraq front there was the battle of Tustar which was won by the Muslims, In 641 the Muslims captured Alexandria on the Egyptian front Sus was occupied on the Iraq front in January. On this front Jande Sabur was occupied in March. The historic battle of Nihawand was won by the Muslims in December.
In 641 an expedition was undertaken to Nubia. The Muslims advanced to Burqa and Fezzan in North Africa. During this year the city of Fustat was founded as the capital of Egypt. On the Persian front war was carried and the Muslims occupied Hamadan, Isfahan, Rayy, Tabaristan, Fars and Sistan.
In 643 the Muslims occupied Sabrata and Tripoli but these advance posts were subsequently abandoned and the Muslims withdrew to Egypt. On the Persian front Khurasan and Azerbaijan were occupied by the Muslims during the year.
During 644 Makran and Armenia were occupied. During this year Umar was assassinated and that was the end of a glorious and eventful career.