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Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz

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'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz
Eighth Umayyad caliph
مقبره عمر بن عبدالعزیز.jpg
'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz's tomb in Maarat al-Numaan
Personal Information
Name 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan b. al-Hakam
Teknonym Abu Fahs
Birth 63-683
Death 101-720
Father Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan b. al-Hakam
Mother Umm 'Asim, the daughter of 'Asim b. 'Umar b. Khattab
Religion Islam
Burial Place Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, Homs, Syria
Rule
Dynasty Umayyad
Reign 99-101/718-720
Contemporary with Imam al-Baqir (a)
Capital Syria
Activities Prevention of cursing Imam 'Ali (a), Returning Fadak, Lifting the ban on the transcription of hadiths
Predecessor Yazid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Successor Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik

ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Marwān (Arabic: عُمَر بن عَبدالعَزیز بن مَروان) (b. 63/683 - d. 101/720) was the eighth Umayyad caliph who reigned from 99/718 to 101/720. His adopted a different administrative approach from that of other Umayyad caliphs. Thus, in certain hadiths from Imams of the Shia, he is held in high regard, although he is said in a hadith to be cursed in the skies because of occupying a position that was the right of Imams of the Shia.

He was a caliph for two and a half years. His actions during his caliphate included the prohibition of cursing Imam 'Ali (a), returning Fadak to children of Fatima (a), lifting the ban on the transcription of hadiths, and compensating injustices done by his dynasty to people. Prior to his caliphate, when he was the ruler of Medina on behalf of the then-caliph Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik, he developed and expanded al-Masjid al-Nabi such that the chambers of the wives of the Prophet came to be located inside the mosque.

'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz died in 101/720 in Khanaser and was buried in the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites. His grave is located in Syria.

Family

'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan b. al-Hakam was born in 61/681,[1] 62/682,[2] or 63/683.[3] His teknonym was Abu Fahs.[4] His father was Abd al-Aziz b. Marwan b. al-Hakam, and his mother, Umm 'Asim, was the daughter of 'Asim b. 'Umar b. Khattab.[5] Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, the caliph of the time (reign: 65/685-86/705), the paternal uncle of 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz, summoned 'Umar late in his caliphate in 85/704 after the death of his father, and married his daughter, Fatima, to him.[6]

Prior to Caliphate

Abd al-Malik b. Marwan assigned Umar with the rule of Khanaser (an area in Aleppo)[7] in 85/704.[8] Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik assigned him with the rule of Medina in 87/706,[9] and appointed him as the Amir of Hajj pilgrims.[10] However, in 93/712, he was removed from the rule of Medina at the request of Hajjaj b. Yusuf.[11] In a letter to Walid, Hajjaj reminded him that "Iraqi infidels and oppositions and riots refuge from Iraq to Medina and Mecca, and this will undermine [the government]."[12]

During his rule of Medina, 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz reconstructed and expanded al-Masjid al-Nabi.[13] In 88/707, he was commissioned by Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik to expand al-Masjid al-Nabi such that the chambers of the wives of the Prophet (s) are located inside the mosque.[14]

After the death of Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik in 97/716, 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz said funeral prayers on his corpse.[15] He served as an advisor of Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik (96-99/715-718) during his reign,[16] and after his death, 'Umar said funeral prayers on his corpse as well.[17]

Caliphate

'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz became a caliph in 99/718, and remained a caliph until 101/720 for two and a half years.[18] In his own words, Sulayman b. Abd al-Aziz appointed Umar b. Abd al-Aziz as his successor in order to prevent seditions.[19] Umar was succeeded by Yazid b. Abd al-Malik.[20] According to al-Tabari, when he became a caliph he recited al-Istirja' Verse ("Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return").[21] In his inauguration speech, he said: "there is no prophet after Muhammad and there is no book after the Qur'an. I am not a judge; I am an enforcer. I am not a heretic; I am a follower."[22]

Actions

  • Prevention of cursing Imam 'Ali (a): 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz commanded that no one is permitted to curse 'Ali (a).[23] Until that time, Imam Ali (a), a companion of the Prophet (s) and the first Imam of the Shia, was officially cursed on pulpits for about sixty years at the command of Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan.[24] It is said that Umar b. Abd al-Aziz reproached Ali (a) when he was a teenager, but after a prohibition by his teacher, Ubayd Allah b. Abd Allah, he highly regarded Imam Ali (a).[25]
  • Lifting the ban on the transcription of hadiths: in a letter to Abu Bakr b. Hazm, 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz commanded that hadiths from the Prophet (s) be transcribed.[33] Before that, since the caliphate of Abu Bakr, the policy of banning the transcription of hadiths was enforced, and thus, people were prohibited from transcribing hadiths from the Prophet (s).[34]
  • Abolishment of taxes and jizyas: in a letter to 'Abd al-Hamid b. 'Abd al-Rahman, his agent in Kufa, 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz recommended justice and beneficence and commanded that Muslims not be charged with taxes.[35] Moreover, he ordered his agents not to receive jizyas from people who had recently converted to Islam.[36]
  • Dialogues with Khawarij: 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz held dialogues with Khawarij and convinced them of abstaining from bloodsheds.[37] He also invited Shawdhab al-Khariji who had rioted against the government to a debate, and Shawdhab sent two people from Khawarij to a debate with him.[38]
  • Compensating injustices: it is said that he set out to return property usurped by the Umayyad dynasty to their real owners.[39]

Imam al-Baqir's Position

Since the reign of 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz (99-101/683-720) coincided the period of the Imamate of Imam al-Baqir (a) (95-114/718-732), there are reports of connections between the two.[40] Some scholars believe that Imam al-Baqir (a) adopted a compassionate approach to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz.[41] Imam al-Baqir (a) charitably admonished him and warned him against consequences of injustice. He believed that such advice fitted the spirit of 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz who wanted to be just.[42]

According to hadiths, Imam al-Baqir (a) referred to him as the nobleman among Umayyads.[43] Notwithstanding this, he believed that in spite of his justice, he will be cursed in the skies after his death, because he occupied a position that was only the right of Imams.[44]

Death

Umar b. Abd al-Aziz died in Rajab, 101, Feburary, 720, in Khanaser at the age of thirty nine, and was buried in the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites,[45] which is located in Homs in today's Syria.[46] His mausoleum is located six kilometers from Maarat al-Numaan (a city in eastern Syria). A darih was built over it during the reign of the Ayyubid dynasty in the sixth/twelfth century. Some people believe that 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz was poisoned by Umayyads because they feared the loss of the position of caliphate if 'Umar stayed in power.[47]

Notes

  1. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 9, p. 192.
  2. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 427.
  3. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 254.
  4. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 253.
  5. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 253.
  6. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 9, p. 193.
  7. Ḥamawī, Muʿjam al-buldān, vol. 2, p. 314.
  8. Ṭaqūsh, Dawlat-i umawiyān, p. 142.
  9. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 427; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 255.
  10. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 343.
  11. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 481.
  12. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 481-482.
  13. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 284.
  14. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 436; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 284.
  15. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 495.
  16. Turkamanī Āzar, Tārīkh-i siyāsī-yi shīʿayān, p. 56.
  17. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 260.
  18. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 566.
  19. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 550.
  20. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 578.
  21. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 552.
  22. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 262.
  23. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305.
  24. Ibn Khaldūn, Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn, vol. 3, p. 94.
  25. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 9, p. 193.
  26. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305; Balādhurī, Futūḥ al-buldān, p. 50; Amīnī, al-Ghadīr, vol. 7, p. 264.
  27. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305-306; Ibn Abī l-Ḥadīd, Sharḥ nahj al-balāgha, vol. 16, p. 216.
  28. Ḥamawī, Muʿjam al-buldān, vol. 4, p. 238.
  29. Ḥamawī, Muʿjam al-buldān, vol. 4, p. 238.
  30. Subḥānī, Furūgh-i wilāyat, p. 219; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 8, p. 478.
  31. Mufīḍ, al-Muqniʿa, p. 289-290.
  32. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305.
  33. Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 1, p. 33.
  34. Dhahabī, Tadhkirat al-huffāẓ, vol. 1, p. 11-12.
  35. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 569.
  36. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 599; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 275, 301.
  37. Masʿūdī, Murūj al-dhahab, vol. 3, p. 190-193.
  38. Ibn Khaldūn, Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn, vol. 3, p. 203.
  39. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 263; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305.
  40. See: Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305.
  41. Diylamī, Shakhṣiyyat wa ʿamalkard-i ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, p. 55.
  42. See: Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 305.
  43. Dhahabī, Tadhkirat al-huffāẓ, vol. 1, p. 119.
  44. Rāwandī, al-Kharāʾij wa l-jarāʾiḥ, vol. 1, p. 276.
  45. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 6, p. 566.
  46. Masʿūdī, al-Tanbīh wa l-ishrāf, p. 276.
  47. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 308.

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