I have been meaning to post this theory/analysis for a while now but hadn't to-date for fear of creating an unnecessary controversy. Something that all of us need to ask ourselves and someone did ask me is the question, "What happened to the Ummah that within 50 years of the Prophet's demise, his grandson was brutally murdered?"
(From the TV Serial about the life of Caliph Umar)
During the early days of Islam, the Kuffar of Mecca regularly gathered inside the Kaaba to discuss the issue of the Prophet (saw) and Islam and how to rid Arabia of them. The gathering included a Who's Who of the Kuffar including personalities such as Abu Sufiyan, Mughayrah, Umar bin Al-Khattab and others. Umar was one of the shrewdest members of this Shura Council as his advice was regularly heeded by others.
All these personalities actively participated in the persecution of the Muslims as they were staunchly against the new faith. Specifically, Umar's animosity was such that he did not hesitate from beating his slave girl (Labina) until he would tire and then promise her he would continue upon regaining his strength. (Shilbi Nomani - Al-Farooq)
The Shura discussed several options including bribing the Prophet, threatening him, negotiating with him, etc. One option that was hinted was sending a spy amongst the Muslims to keep track of their plans.
Umar was enraged when he first heard the words of the Quran. One day (around the 6th year of Islam), Umar decided he had had enough of Islam and was going to end the 'fitna' once and for all by killing Muhammad (saw). A normally careful and shrewd individual who was not known for his bravery somehow decided to brandish his sword in public and was walking over furiously to kill the Prophet (saw) when he stumbled upon Numain bin Abdullah who inquired about his matter. The ever careful Umar told Numain openly that he intended to kill Muhammad but Numain told him to get his own house in order since Umar's sister and her husband had also accepted Islam.
So Umar went to his sister's house and eavesdropped on them reading some verses of the Quran. He entered their house, accused them of converting to Islam and beat them until they bled. Umar's sister (Fatima) told Umar that no matter what he did to them, they would not leave Islam. BAM!!!
These words had such an effect on Umar that he asked his sister to recite some words from the Quran. She did so and he immediately decided to accept Islam by declaring his belief in the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Muhammad.
He went over to Arqam's house with sword in his hand and was received by the Prophet and his friends with caution. He told them he had accepted Islam and the Prophet and those around him rejoiced.
Conversion to Hijrah:
Fairly uneventful in terms of Umar. He was not informed about the migration plans of the Prophet.
Migration to the Demise of the Prophet:
First of many battles between the kuffar if Mecca and the Muslims of Medina.
There are some accounts that tell us the Meccans were informed of a Muslim army gearing up and so they gathered to go after them.
Someone may have alerted them about the army gearing up.
The Kuffar and Muslims armies met again a year later at Uhud.
After initial skirmishes, Ali, Hamza and Abu Dujana rushed into the middle of the enemies ranks and overwhelmed them. Some Muslims started plundering the spoils of war before total victory was gained and the archers proceeded to join in. This gave Khalid Bin Walid an opportunity to attack the Muslims from behind. This created a mayhem in which even the Prophet was injured. At this time, someone raised cry that the Prophet was dead and everyone should retreat or run. There were 3 groups of people. “I) A group ran away to Medina without looking back. II) Some continued to fight thinking it was useless to survive without the Prophet. III) A third group laid down their weapons and shield since there was no point in fighting any longer. Umar belonged to this group.” – Shibli Nomani – Al Farooq.
Balazuri in book Ansab Al-Ashraf states, “Omar was one of those who fled from the battle-field of Ohod but God pardoned him.”
Towards the conclusion of the battle, a group of Muslims had surrounded the Prophet which included Umar. Khalid bin Walid and Abu Sufyan approached the group and ask, “Is Muhammad in the midst of this group?” The Prophet told everyone to stay quite. Then Abu Sufyan asked if Abu Bakr and Umar were there but received no reply so he concluded aloud, “They must have been killed”. Umar could keep quiet no longer and shouted out by thereby disobeying the Prophet, “We are all alive of enemy of God!” – Shibli Nomani – Al Farooq.
Why did Abu Sufiyan ask about Abu Bakr and Umar?
More importantly, why did Umar blatantly defy the orders of the Prophet (saw)?
A trench was dug around Medina in a defensive battle against the Kuffar of Mecca and Jews from several tribes. The Kuffar army put Medina under siege for about 3 weeks. Then Amr bin Abd Wudd thrusted through the trench somehow. Perhaps someone had not dug a certain portion of the trench wide enough. He threatened the Muslims who praised Amr out of fear rather than fight. Ali leapt to fight Amr and beat him.
The tribe of Banu Qurayza had made a peace treaty with the Muslims but broke it under pressure from the Kuffar Army. News of the Qurayzah's supposed renunciation of the pact with Muhammad leaked out, and Umar promptly informed Muhammad.
How did Umar know the pact was broken?
Fear and anguish gripped Medina. So tense was the situation that, for the first time, the canonical daily prayers were neglected by the Muslim community. Only at night, when the attacks stopped due to darkness, could they resume their regular worship.
The Quran addresses this as follows:
[Shakir 33:10] When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes turned dull, and the hearts rose up to the throats, and you began to think diverse thoughts of Allah.
[Shakir 33:11] There the believers were tried and they were shaken with severe shaking.
[Shakir 33:12] And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts was a disease began to say: Allah and His Messenger did not promise us (victory) but only to deceive.
[Shakir 33:19] Being niggardly with respect to you; but when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes rolling like one swooning because of death; but when the fear is gone they smite you with sharp tongues, being niggardly of the good things. These have not believed, therefore Allah has made their doing naught; and this is easy to Allah.
[Shakir 33:20] They think the allies are not gone, and if the allies should come (again) they would fain be in the deserts with the desert Arabs asking for news about you, and if they were among you they would not fight save a little.
Who are the hypocrites in such a small group of Muslims?
Who used sharp tongues against the Prophet (happened elsewhere as well)?
Who have not believed?
Who was constantly created discord amongst the Muslims?
The Prophet intended to go to Mecca for pilgrimage 6AH. He went without arms but Umar convinced him that they may need arms so the Prophet agreed. The Prophet was informed that the Quraysh were not going to let the Muslims into Mecca so the Prophet wanted to send Umar to negotiate. Umar declined and ‘volunteered’ Uthman instead.
It took Uthman a few days longer than expected so the Prophet took an oath of allegiance from his companions that they would fight rather than flee. Umar was not part of the initial oath of allegiance. He was apparently already gearing up for the battle and was informed by his son of the Bait-al-Rizwan.
Why would someone not known for military prowess be so eager for a fight?
The Quraysh insisted upon their refusal to allow the Muslims to enter this year and the Treaty of Hudaibiya was negotiated.
Out of all the Muslims, it was the primary voice of Umar who was vehemently against the treaty and insisted on fighting in order to perform the pilgrimage. Such was his anger that he had this conversation with the Prophet (saw) – Shilbi Nomani – Al Farooq:
Umar: “O Prophet of God! Are you not the Messenger of God?”
Prophet: “Certainly, I am.”
Umar: “Are not our enemies idolatrous polytheists?”
Prophet: “Undoubtedly they are”
Umar: “Why then should we disgrace our religion?”
Prophet: “I am the Messenger of God and I do not act in contravention of His Commandments”
Could there be a bigger crime committed than accusing the Prophet of disgracing our religion?
Is the tone of Umar very similar to the people Allah address in Surah Azhab 33:11-20? Isn’t Umar smiting the Prophet with his sharp tongue?
Is it possible that when Allah revealed Surah Fath, verse 48.6 was intended for the people who disagreed vehemently with the truce?
Umar was shrew man so why would he insist on going to war with the Quraysh in Mecca with only 1,400 barely armed men? Did he intended to lead Muslims into a slaughter? Was the annoyance to the Treaty a result of the failure of his plans?
Fairly uneventful other than Umar tried unsuccessfully to win the Fort.
Victory of Mecca:
Uneventful for the most part other than the issue surrounding Abu Sufiyan. Apparently Umar wanted to behead Abu Sufiyan before he could get a word in but Abbas saved Abu Sufiyan from such fate…as the story goes. One way or another, Umar was involved in Abu Sufiyan’s forgiveness.
In similar fashion to Uhud, the Muslims gained the advantage initially, then lost it due to plundering, left he Prophet and eventually re-organized to win. It is reported that only a few soldiers stayed behind and fought, including Ali bin Abu Talib, the standard bearer, Abbas bin Abd Al-Muttalib, AbdAllah bin Abbas (Abu Fadl Al-Abbas), Usamah, and Abi Sufyan bin Hirith.
Divorcing of Wives:
Due to some wives, including Umar’s daughter Hafsa, sharing the secrets of the Prophet, he separated from them for 30 days. People even thought they had been divorced.
No battle was fought but an important incident took place. Twelve hypocrites, out of whom eight were from amongst Quraysh and the remaining four were the inhabitants of Madina, decided to scare the camel of the Prophet from the top of a defile situated on the route between Madina and Syria and to make him fall into the valley.
When he turned back his head he saw in the moonlit night that some mounted persons were pursuing him. To ensure that they might not be identified they had covered their faces and were conversing in very low voices. The Prophet became angry and challenged them and ordered Huzayfah to turn away their camels with his stick.
The call of the Prophet frightened them very much and they realized that he had become aware of their plot. They therefore, immediately went back the way they had come and joined other soldiers.
Huzayfah says: "I identified them from the marks of their camels and said to the Prophet: "I can tell you who they are so that you may punish them". But the Prophet instructed me in a kind voice not to divulge their secret, because it was possible that they might repent. He also added: "If I punish them the non-Muslims would say that now that Muhammad has achieved power, he has made a victim of his own companions".( Mughazi-i Waqidi, vol. III, pp. 1042 - 1043; Biharul Anwar, vol. XXI, page 247 and Seerah-i Halabi, vol. III, page 162.)
Were these the same hypocrites who had been with the Prophet from Uhud onwards?
The final pilgrimage of the Prophet ended at Ghadeer where he announced Ali (as) as his successor.
Death of the Prophet:
Upon his return from the final pilgrimage, the Prophet fell ill. He named Usama bin Zayad as the head of an army unit and ordered virtually all his companions save the Bani Hashim to join Usama outside Medina. However, very few reported for duty thereby ignoring the Prophet’s command.
The illness of the Prophet lasted from 10 – 13 days. Three days before his death (Thursday), the Prophet asked some companions for pen and paper and said that he would write directions for his people which would save them from falling into error. Umar told everyone around that the Prophet was speaking in agony of pain and that the Quran was sufficient. This created a discord among those present. The word used “Hajir” occurs in tradition which signifies hysteria (Shilbi Nomani – Al Farooq).
If the insults at Hudaibiya were not enough, now we have someone accusing the Prophet of hysteria.
To his credit, Shilbi Numani does try to present excuses for the behavior exhibited by Umar albeit weak excuses.
Once the Prophet removed these companions from his midst, there is no proof that they were repentant or returned to the Prophet to apologize. In fact, it would be fair to state that the Prophet died angry with Umar and those that supported him.
While I will agree with Shilbi that Umar was not upset at the Prophet’s demise but deem it politic to fake anger/sadness, I disagree with him that this was done for the prevention from hypocrites. More than likely and as evident, this was done to buy time to get his hands on the caliphate as we will soon discover.
It is evident from the incidences at Uhud, Khandaq, Hudaibiya, Hunain and during the last days of the Prophet that Umar was very critical of the Prophet (saw) publicly. When the Quran talks about hypocrites and those who smite the Prophet, is Umar included in that list?
After the Demise of the Prophet:
We determined that Umar was not filled with sorrow at the demise of the Prophet but simply politicked to buy time. Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah came to Umar and informed him of the gathering of the Ansar at Bani Sa'ida's saqifah to elect a leader. Umar grabbed Abu Bakr and went there with Abu Ubaidah to intervene. Several Sunni sources state that they went their simply to stop the Ansar from selecting their own leader rather than to be elected.
Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaidah both deemed Umar suitable for the caliphate but there was great disagreement between the Ansar and them over this issue. Then all of a sudden, Umar just pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr followed by Abu Ubaidah. The Ansar were divided into 2 camps and rather than let the other camp win, they too swore allegiance to Abu Bakr.
Throughout all the narrations about Saqifah, there is not a single mention of the Prophet or his demise or the need for his burial. Is this the action of a lover of Prophet (saw)?
Imam Ali (as) and the rest of Bani Hashim held out paying allegiance to Abu Bakr. Umar with his cohorts put tremendous pressure on them to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr including standing at the door of Fatima’s house and either threatened or actually set fire to the door causing severe injuries to Fatima (as).
As part of the punishment for Bani Hashim, the land of Fadak was confiscated from their possession. Hz Fatima (as) and her family laid claim to it in the court of Abu Bakr but it was denied. At times when Abu wanted to return Fadak, Umar convinced him not to do so.
Caliphate of Abu Bakr:
Almost all decisions during the caliphate of Abu Bakr were taken by Umar. Abu Bakr was nothing more than a token or puppet Caliph with the strings firmly in control of Umar.
During the last days of Abu Bakr’s life, he decided to make Umar the next caliph by putting it in writing.
Why did Umar not raise the issue of Abu Bakr speaking/writing under hysteria?
Caliphate of Umar:
Coming back full circle, we started the conversation discussing the Shura of the Kuffar that used to take place in the Kaaba in which Umar and Abu Sufiyan were active participants. They had a great deal of mutual respect for each other. From Umar’s conversion until the Conquest of Mecca, Abu Sufiyan and Umar were sworn enemies based on Umar’s refusal to go into Mecca during Hudaibiya. Between the Conquest of Mecca and the demise of the Prophet, the primary people left from the Shura days were Abu Sufiyan and Umar.
Something happened between the Victory of Mecca (630AD) and 634AD to where first Yazid bin Abu Sufiyan was chosen, by Abu Bakr, to be one of the generals in the army to invade Roman-Syria and then subsequently chosen to be the governor of Syria by Umar.
Umar had a policy of rotating governors every 2-3 years. However, he did not implement this policy for Syria. He let Yazid bin Abu Sufiyan rule until his death and then immediately turned over the governorship of Syria to Muawiya bin Abu Sufiyan. Yazid and then Muawiya were given full control of Syria, its riches and armies for them to use as they saw fit. There are traditions that state that Abu Sufiyan was upset the news of his son, Yazid’s, death but then rejoiced when he found out Muawiya was given the governorship of Syria. He is even alleged to have said that the reigns of the Caliphate belong to Bani Ummaya now.
Umar’s last course of action was to setup a biased shura in which no one but Uthman could have been chosen as the Caliph and thereby fulfilling Abu Sufiyan’s dream of the Ummayad dynasty.
Umar’s conversion story is somewhat dubious.
Umar’s time with the Prophet is full of doubts and disrespect. There are no accounts of any sahaba being as rude and obnoxious towards the Prophet as Umar.
Umar politicked at the demise of the Prophet showing showing no sorrow whatsoever.
Umar oppressed the family of the Prophet (saw)
Umar rekindled old friendships and showed favoritism towards them.
Umar is the primary reason behind the rise of the Bani Ummayya.
So was Umar a spy sent by the Kuffar of Mecca to tell them of the Prophet’s (saw) plans and to sow doubts and confusion amongst the Muslims?
You be the judge.