The Assassination of Umar b. Al-Khattâb (radhi ‘Allaahu anhu) – Compiled by Owais Al-Hâshimi
Compiled by Owais Al-Hâshimi (hafidhahullaah)
The Assassination of ‘Umar – Part 1
Note: the English version of this account is based on Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s translation of Sahîh Al-Bukhârî, with slight modifications. The notes have been compiled from classic hadîth commentaries including Fath Al-Bârî of Ibn Hajr, as well as points from the lectures and classes of contemporary scholars.
Narrated ‘Amr b. Maimûn:
I saw ‘Umar b. Al-Khattâb a few days before he was stabbed in Al-Madînah. He was standing with Hudhayfah b. Al-Yamân and ‘Uthmân b. Hunaif to whom he said, “What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of As-Swad i.e. ‘Iraq) than it can bear?” They replied, “We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield.” ‘Umar again said, “Check whether you have imposed on the land what it cannot bear.” They said, “No, (we haven’t).” ‘Umar added, “If Allâh should keep me alive I will let the widows of ‘Irâq need no men to support them after me.” But only four days had elapsed when he was stabbed. The day he was stabbed, I was standing and there was nobody between me and him except Abdullah b. ‘Abbas. Whenever Umar passed between rows, he would say, “Stand in straight lines.” When he saw no defect (in the rows), he would go forward and start the prayer with Takbîr. He would recite Sûrah Yusuf or An-Nahl or the like in the first rak’ah so that people would have time to join the prayer.
The assassination of ‘Umar took place in 23H, following ‘Umar’s return from Hajj. He was assassinated by a Persian Majûsî (Fire Worshipper) called Abû Lu`-lu` Fayrauz, who was in the employment of Hudhayfah – Allâh be pleased with him. ‘Umar didn’t used to allow war captives to enter Al-Madînah, but Hudhayfah wrote to him requesting him to allow this worker to be hired for his skills in carpentry and metalwork. Hudhayfah believed people in Al-Medînah could benefit from his skills. Hudhayfah taxed this worker in the conventional manner, but he complained to ‘Umar about the amount. ‘Umar told him that he was not being taxed unfairly for what he was doing. This angered the Majûsî. One day, ‘Umar passed by the worker and enquired, “I have been told that you claim you can build a mill powered by wind (a windmill).” The Fire worshipper replied with a frown, “I will build you a mill that all the people will talk about.” ‘Umar turned to those who were with him and said, “The slave has given me an appointment [warning].”
Points to note
- ‘Umar’s great concern for justice and fairness.
- His concern that Muslim society should not be adversely influenced by unbelievers.
- His concern and care for the wellbeing of the Muslims, especially the poor and the weak.
- The attention given by him to the correct performance of al-salâh (prayer), and his implementation of the Sunnah of the imâm making sure the rows are straight and no gaps are left between the worshippers.
- His assisting worshippers in getting the most out of their prayer.
- His intelligence and insight, whereby he understood the disguised threat made to him.
The Assassination of ‘Umar – Part 2
As soon as he said Takbîr, I heard him say, “The dog has killed or eaten me,” when the murderer stabbed him. A non-Arab infidel came carrying a double-edged knife and stabbed everyone he passed by on the right and left, stabbing thirteen people out of whom seven died. When one of the Muslims saw that, he threw a cloak on him. Realizing that he had been captured, the non-Arab infidel killed himself. ‘Umar took the hand of ‘Abdur-Rahmân b. ‘Auf and let him lead the prayer.
Those who were standing by the side of ‘Umar saw what I saw, but the people who were in the other parts of the Mosque did not see anything, but they lost the voice of ‘Umar and they were saying, “Subhân Allâh! Subhân Allâh!” ‘Abdur-Rahmân b. ‘Auf led the people a short prayer. When they finished the prayer, ‘Umar said, “O Ibn ‘Abbâs! Find out who attacked me.” Ibn ‘Abbâs kept on looking here and there for a short time and then came back and said, “The slave of Al-Mughîrah.” At that, ‘Umar said, “The craftsman?” Ibn ‘Abbâs replied, “Yes.” ‘Umar said, “May Allah destroy him. I only treated him well. All praises are for Allâh who has not caused me to die at the hand of a man who claims to be a Muslim. No doubt, you and your father (Al-Abbâs) used to love to have more non-Arab infidels in Al-Madînah.” Al-Abbas had the greatest number of slaves. Ibn ‘Abbâs said to ‘Umar. “If you wish, we will do it.” He meant, “If you wish we will kill them.” ‘Umar said, “You are mistaken (for you cannot kill them) after they have spoken your language, prayed towards your Qiblah, and performed Hajj like yours.”
Points to note
- Some narrations mention that the one who threw the cloak over the assassin was a person named Hattân Al-Tamîmî Al-Yarbû’î from the Muhâjirûn.
- A narration from Ibn Shihâb describes how ‘Umar bled heavily and fainted. He was carried to his house, where he remained unconscious for a while. When he awoke and saw the people around him, the first thing he said was, “Have the people prayed?” When he was told that they had, he said, “There is no place in Islâm for those who leave the prayer.” He then performed ablution and prayed, with his wound bleeding heavily. This, coupled with the fact the first thing ‘Umar did was appoint an imâm in his place, all goes to show the importance and status of the salâh, as well as the nobleness of ‘Umar.
- This narration also mentions that ‘Umar feared he had done some wrong to someone in the community, but when Ibn ‘Abbâs informed him it was the unbeliever who had stabbed him, and when Ibn ‘Abbâs saw everyone crying as if they had lost their own children, ‘Umar became relieved that this situation was not because of any injustice on his part. This shows the piety and taqwâ of ‘Umar.
Continued inshâ Allâh.