‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, the Fifth Caliph
The speech today will be about a new page among the pages of the Guided Caliphs. The owner of this page is the just Imam, the scholar, the God-fearing worshipper, the magnificent master and the Prince of the Believers. He is Abû Hafs ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz ibn Marawân the Qurashi (from the tribe of Quraish)...
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks be to Allah, and prayers and peace of Allah be upon the chosen Prophet and the selected Messenger, Muhammad.
The speech today will be about a new page among the pages of the Guided Caliphs. The owner of this page is the just Imam, the scholar, the God-fearing worshipper, the magnificent master and the Prince of the Believers. He is Abû Hafs ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz ibn Marawân the Qurashi (from the tribe of Quraish), the Umayyad, the Medinan (who belongs to Medina), the Egyptian, the Caliph, the ascetic, and the wise. He was titled as “the one with a scar among the Sons of Umayyah”, may Allah be pleased with him, and may He please him.
His mother, Umm ‘Asim bint (the daughter of) ‘Asim ibn ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattâb.
‘Umar was born in Egypt in 61 A.H. and died in a village called Dayr Sam’ân (Church of Saint Simeon) near the Governorate of Homs (in Syria). He was staying there when he fell ill and died on Friday 25th of Rajab 101 A.H. He was thirty-nine years and six months.
His father’s care of him, may Allah be pleased with him
‘Abdul ‘Aziz ibn Marwan sent his son ‘Umar to Medina in order to be educated. In addition, he wrote to Sâlih ibn Kaysân to watch over him. Kaysân used to bind him to prayers. One day, ‘Umar delayed the prayer upon which he asked him, “What held you up?” ‘Umar said, “My maid was combing my hair.” Kaysân said, “Was combing your hair so important that you preferred it to performing the prayer?” Then he wrote that to inform his father. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz sent a messenger to his son and did not speak to him till he shaved his hair.
His merits, may Allah be pleased with him
He was among the best scholars of Ijtihâd (judgment) and among the truly guided Caliphs, may Allah have mercy on them.
Moreover, the consensus proves his magnificence, merit, abundant knowledge, righteousness, asceticism, fear of Allah, his justice, his deep sympathy with Muslims and his good behavior towards them. In his exercise of judgment, he was keen on treading in the steps of the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him), following his Sunnah and the traditions of the four Guided Caliphs. ‘Umar is one of the truly Guided Caliphs and his merits are too many to be counted.
His virtues may Allah be pleased with him
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was appointed the Caliph after the death of his cousin Suleiman ibn ‘Abdul Malik. That was the recommendation of Suleiman.
The period of ‘Umar’s Caliphate was two years and five months; which is the same duration of Abû Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him. During his Caliphate, ‘Umar applied justice everywhere, introduced good practices, and ended the bad ones.
The fifth truly Guided Caliph, may Allah be pleased with him
Sufyân Ath-Thawri, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “The Guided Caliphs are five; Abû Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmân, ‘Ali and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz.” The same is narrated on the authority of Ash-Shâfi’i. Imam Ahmad considered him the renewer/reformer of the first Century.
His Justice, may Allah be pleased with him
Al-Layth said, “‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz began with his household. He took what they own and called his properties ‘grievances’.”
It was narrated that Abû Az-Zannâd said, “‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz wrote for us in Iraq in order to give the rights back to their owners. Therefore, we gave everything back till we ran out of money in the treasury of Iraq and ‘Umar provided us with money from Greater Syria.” Dhamura said, “‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz wrote to some of his workers, ‘If your power over people were to lead you to treat them unjustly then remember the Power of Allah Almighty over you. Remember that what gives you the power to order them would be gone; and that what would bring you torture due to treating them that way would stay.’”
His reforms, may Allah be pleased with him
Wellbeing and welfare occurred at the era of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz. Money overflew that he ordered to establish the caravansaries (small hotels) for travelers at stages along the highway. He wrote to Abû Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn Hazm, “Give donations to all people except the merchants”. Moreover, he wrote to people, “Bring before me every newborn baby to give donations for them as this is (originally) your money and we are giving it back to you.”
He wrote to the jailors about the imprisoned, “Do not cuff anyone with a chain that prevents him from performing a complete prayer.”
He said, “No one is to be a judge except the one who is chaste, patient, and aware of the matters before him, the one who consults the far-sighted people and does not fear the blame of people.”
He used to say, “For me, establishing the ordained penalties has the same importance as establishing the prayer.”
Advising Caliphs, may Allah be pleased with him
Sa’îd ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz said, “When Suleiman was appointed as a Caliph, he said to ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, “O Abû Hafs! I have been appointed as a Caliph and I have not had the knowledge of how to manage it. So, whenever you see something for the benefit of the public, order it immediately.”
Among the orders of ‘Umar were the ousting of the workers of AL-Hajjâj, the performance of prayers on their fixed due times after being delayed and other great matters in which ‘Umar’s orders were listened to.
It is said that Suleiman was performing pilgrimage when he saw the masses of people at the standing point so he said to ‘Umar, “Can you see these masses of the creatures whose number can never be counted except by Allah?”
‘Umar said, “Today they are your subjects but tomorrow they will be your disputers.” Upon which Suleiman wept heavily.
Az-Zahabiyy commented, “‘Umar was his truthful minister.”
Advising his governors and workers, may Allah be pleased with him
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz wrote to Abû Bakr ibn Muhammad, “Avoid staying at home. Go out to see people and deal with them equally in everything. Do not prefer anyone to the other. Do not say that those are among the household of the Prince of the Believers because today I consider the household of the Prince of the Believers as the same as other people.”
His knowledge, may Allah be pleased with him
It was narrated that Maymûn ibn Mahrân said, “We went to ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz thinking that he needs us but we could not be but his students (comparable to his knowledge).” He also said, “‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was the mentor of scholars.”
Adhering to the Sunnah, may Allah be pleased with him
Anas ibn Malik prayed behind ‘Umar before being a Caliph and said, “I have never seen anyone whose prayer resembles that of the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) more than the prayer of this young man is.”
Ayyûb As-Sakhtiâny said, “I do not know anyone- among those who lived till our era- following the steps of the Prophet (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) more than him.”
Reviving the good practices, may Allah be pleased with him
Hâzim ibn Abû Hâzim narrated that ‘Umar said to him, “If every innovation that Allah ends by my hands and every good practice that Allah revives by my hands takes a part of my flesh till I die, it will be an easy matter for the sake of Allah.”
‘Abdullah ibn Wâqid reported that in the last sermon of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, he thanked Allah Almighty and praised Him then said, “O people! By Allah, if I will not revive a good practice nor establish truth, I do not wish to live even for a small period of time.”
His fear, may Allah be pleased with him
Hamâd ibn Abû Suleiman narrated that when ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was appointed a Caliph, he cried. Then, a man asked him, “How is your love to this world and Dirhams (money)?” ‘Umar answered, “I do not love them.” The man said, “Do not be afraid, Allah will support you.”
‘Atâ ibn Abu Rabâh said, “Fatima, the wife of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz told me that she entered his room to find him in his place of prayer and tears are flowing on his cheeks. So, she asked him, “O Prince of the Believer, what is wrong?” He answered, “O Fatima! I have held the responsibility of the nation of Muhammad (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him). So, I thought about the hungry who is in need, the lost who is ill, the laborious who is bare, the subjugated victim of injustice, the captivated stranger, the old and the one with too many children everywhere on earth. I knew that my Lord will ask me about all of them and that their advocator is Muhammad (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him). I feared that there will be no plea for me before him, so, I sympathized with myself and wept.”
Makhûl said, “If I swore that I have never seen anyone who is more ascetic nor God-fearing than ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, my words will be true.”
‘Atâ’, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz used to gather the jurisprudents every night to remind one another of death, the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter and they all used to cry.”
Sa’îd ibn Abû ‘Urûbah said, “Whenever death was mentioned before ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, all the parts of his body trembled.”
His asceticism, may Allah be pleased with him
Hajjâj As-Sawâf narrated, “When ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul’ Aziz was a governor of Medina, he ordered me to buy him some clothes, and I did. It was a garment that cost four hundreds Dirhams; he cut it into a shirt, touched it by his hand, and said, “How hard and harsh it is!” Then he ordered to buy him a garment when he was a Caliph, they bought one that cost fourteen Dirhams, he touched it and said, “Exalted is Allah, how soft and gentle it is!”
When Suleiman ibn ‘Abdel Malik died and ‘Umar left his grave -he had recommended to have ‘Umar as his successor, Suleiman’s riding animals were offered to him. He pointed at a white small female mule and it was brought to him. He rode it and left.
Maymûn ibn Mahrân said, “I stayed six months at the house of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz; but I have never seen him changing his garment. He used to wash his clothes every Friday and to perfume them during the week by some saffron.”
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz said, “I have an aspiring soul. Whenever it is given something in this world, it aspires to that which is better. So, when I was given the best thing in this world - the Caliphate, my soul longed for what is better, meaning Paradise.”
Mâlik ibn Dinâr said, “People say that I am an ascetic. However, the real ascetic is ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz to whom this worldly life has come but he abandoned it.”
‘Abdul ‘Aziz ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz narrated, “I was summoned by Al-Mansûr. He asked me, “How much money did ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz’s had when he became the Caliph?” I said, “It was fifty thousand Dinars.” He asked, “And how much was it upon his death?” I answered, “It was two hundred Dinars.”
‘Amr ibn Muhâjir said, “The expenditure of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was two Dirhams per day.”
‘Awn ibn Almu’tamir narrated that Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz asked his wife, “Do you have a dirham in order to buy some grapes?” She said, “No. You are the Prince of the Believers and you cannot afford a dirham?” He said, “This is better than dealing with shackles in Hellfire”
Moreover, he, may Allah be pleased with, had never become full of food since the first day of his Caliphate until his death.
His fear of Allah, may Allah be pleased with him
‘Umar ibn Muhajir narrated that a candle was lit for ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz while he was dealing with the needs of Muslims. When he finished, he blew it out and lit his own lamp.”
Mâlik, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was brought a piece of ambergris; he closed his nose lest he may smell some of its fragrance.”
Na’îm ibn ‘Abdullah, the writer employer of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, may Allah have mercy on Him, said that ‘Umar said, “What prevents me from speaking about many matters is my fear from boasting.”
Once ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz carved for apples, therefore, a man of his family sent him some apples as a gift. He said, “What a beautiful smell it has and how good it looks like!” He then said “O boy! Give it back to the one who brought it, send him our greetings and tell him that his gift has been appreciated by us as he wished.” The boy said, “O Prince of the Believers! He is your cousin and a member of your family, and you know that the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) accepted the gift.” He said, “Woe unto you! It was a gift for him but for us it is a bribe.”
When ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was asked about his viewpoint of the Battle of the Camel and the Battle of Siffîn, he said, “These are bloods which Allah has prevented my hands from indulging in, so; I hate to indulge my tongue too.”
His sense of honor, may Allah be pleased with him
It was narrated that Rjâ’ ibn Haywah said to ‘Abdul ‘Aziz ibn ‘Umar, “How perfect is the sense of honor of your father! While I was sitting one night with him, the oil lamp suddenly died out and the servant was lying asleep beside it. I asked him, “Shall I wake him up?” ‘Umar answered, “No, let him sleep.” I asked, “Shall I go myself and fix it?” He said, “No, it is not from virility that a man let his guest do something for him.” Indeed, ‘Umar went to take a bottle of oil to fill the lamp and lit it again. ‘Umar went back to his seat, and said, “I stood up and went and I am ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, and I came back and I am still ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz.”
His modesty, may Allah be pleased with him
Ibn ‘Uyaynah reported that a man said to ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, “May Allah reward you well on behalf of Islam.” ‘Umar said, “No, may Allah reward Islam well on behalf of me.”
A man said to him, “May Allah keep you alive.” ‘Umar said, “This has already been done. So, pray for me to be righteous.” He said, “By Allah, I wish if only I act justly for one day then Allah Almighty makes me die on that very day.”
His patience, may Allah be pleased with him
It was narrated that when a man spoke ill of him, he was asked, “What prevents you from punishing him?” ‘Umar said, “Surly, the pious is restrained.”
Al-Awzâ’i said, “When ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz wanted to punish a man, he used to imprison him for three days then punish him for fear that he may unjustly punish him when he is very angry.”
The love of his subjects, may Allah be pleased with him
Suhayl ibn Abû Sâlih said, “I was with my father in the early morning of the Day of ‘Arafat . We stood to look at ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz while he was the prince of the pilgrims. I said, “O my father! I think Allah loves ‘Umar.” My father asked, “Why?” I said, “Because of the love of people for him and you heard Abû Hurayrah narrating that the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) has said, “When Allah loves a slave, He calls Jibrîl (Gabriel) and says, ‘Verily, I love so and so; you should also love him.’ He said, ‘Then Jibrîl begins to love him.’ Then he makes an announcement in the heaven saying, ‘Allah loves so and so and you also should love him.” [Reported by Muslim 2637]
«إنَّ الله إذا أحبَّ عبدًا، دعا جبريل فقال: إنِّي أحبَّ فلانًا فأحبَّه، قال فيحبَّه جبريل ثمَّ ينادي في السَّماء فيقول: إنَّ الله يحبُّ فلانًا فأحبُّوه» رواه مسلم 2637
The family of the Prophet praising him, may Allah be pleased with him
Abû Ja’far al-Bâqir said, “Every nation has a highborn/superior one and that one of the sons of Umayyah is ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz. He will be resurrected as a nation by himself.”
His preaching, may Allah be pleased with him
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz wrote to his companions, “Whoever remembers death frequently will be pleased with little things in this world. In addition, whoever knows that his words are counted from his deeds, he will not speak except if it is something that benefits him. Peace be with you.”
Moreover, he said, “The believers depend mainly on patience.”
His illness and his death, may Allah be pleased with him
Abû Hâtim narrated that when ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz fell ill, they brought him two physicians who said, “His illness cannot be cured by a medicine. Fear has overcome his heart.”
Layth ibn Abû Roqayyah narrated that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz said, “Make me sit down” They did. Then he said, “I am the one whom You ordered but I was negligent. You have forbidden me (from certain things) but I was disobedient.” He repeated these words three times and said, “There is no god but Allah.” Then he looked sharply and said, “I see something green that is neither of mankind nor Jinn.” Immediately, he died.
Hishâm, may Allah have mercy on him, narrated that when the news of his death was told to Al-Hassan, he said, “The best one among all people has died.”
Ibrâhîm ibn Maysara narrated that “Before his death, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz bought a place to be buried in. It was only ten Dinars.”
Prepared by Khalid Abu Salih
Madar Al-Watan for Publication