Islam was areligion revealed to Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) approximately 1400 years ago andcompared to other religions, it’s a fairly young religion that has had its ownshare of ups and downs, and if you ask me, there have been more downs than ups.
Obviously the highest point in Islam was when Arabia was blessed with thepresence of the Holy Prophet(pbuh) as a mercy from God, preaching andcompleting Islam as a manual of life; from eating and drinking to how to treatkin and kith, women, neighbors and slaves. However, during his lifetime, it wasa struggle, for himself, his family and all Muslims that were coming into thefold of Islam. Muslims have never suffered persecution, starvation anddeprivation ever like they did during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh).
This raises the question, did Islam ever experience a Golden Era for itsreligion and its people and if there was such a time in history, who wasresponsible for it and what made it so golden? Islam is a constant growingreligion from the day of its birth till the time of this writing and stillgoing, as it is the fastest growing religion and has the most converts from itsbirth to present day, but that doesn’t make it the golden times. Whatdistinguishes the golden age of Islam iswhen Muslims are united as a single nation under a caliphate, there isaccountability of faith and humanity, prosperity of its people is at thehighest levels, economicdevelopment and cultural works are flourishing and tyranny , hypocrisy anddivided sects are non-existent. There isonly one point in time in Islamic history when all of that was sustained at thesame time, and that was under the rule of the second caliph, Hazrat Umar ibnAl-Khattaab (r.a). During thepre-Islamic age, Mecca was the capital of Arabia, formed of different tribeswith varying social and capital authority. Hazrat Umar(r.a) was from a high-standing lineage of the Quraish, the dominant power inMecca.
He was a very handsome man with a massive physique. He was extremelytall, when he walked he walked fast, his voice was loud and clear whereeverybody around him could hear when he spoke. He was a strong man with arooted personality and he was to be feared. He was a successful businessman and one of thewealthiest of the Quraishee tribesmen. As Islam started gaining followers, HazratUmar(r.a) was one of the most bitterest enemies of Islam and Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) during the early days. AsMuslims were alienated in their homeland and scared for their lives, ProphetMuhammad(pbuh) supplicated to God , “O Allah, honor and strengthen Islam withthe more beloved of these two men to You: Abu Jahl or Umar ibnAl-Khattaab”(As-Sallaabee). A few days later, Hazrat Umar(r.
a) announced hisentry into the fold of Islam. That daywas a historic day because it strengthened the Muslims and was a huge moralboost for them. His fierce personality made him eager for the Muslims to openlyproclaim their faith and they finally came out of hiding letting their voicesbe heard. That was the status andcharacter of Hazrat Umar(r.a).After the passingof Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), Islam was facing a great dilemma and without anappointed leader, the religion was in a major crisis.
Muslims started to revertto their old religion thinking Islam had also died along with theProphet(pbuh). Different sects were being formed, where some refused to payZakaat, one of the five pillars of Islam which is a form of tax on those withdisposable income for the poor and needy. Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a), childhoodfriend, loyal from day one and afather-in-law of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), was appointed as the first Caliph. Hewas tasked with the hardest job of a leader in Islam after the Prophet(pbuh),as he had to continue to keep Islam firm after the worst calamity the religionhas ever faced which was the death of the Prophet(pbuh).
He was the caliph foronly two years, but the job he did paved the way for the Golden Era. Islam hadonce again repaired its stamp in Arabia and the people who reverted werebrought back in the fold. Islam was ready for expansion and nobody could havecarried that weight on their shoulders better than Hazrat Umar(r.a).
On hisdeathbed, Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a) appointedHazrat Umar(r.a) as the second Caliph of the Muslim Nation. The Prophet(pbuh)once said , ” in a dream, I saw myself removing water from an old well with abakrah bucket(a bucket used to give drink to a young camel). Then Abu Bakr cameand drew out one or two large buckets, and he did so in a weak manner –and mayAllah forgive him.
Then Umar came and the bucket transformed in size, becomingvery large indeed. I never saw a strong leader work with such skill andstrength and he continued to work inthat manner until, not only his people quench their thirst, but their ridinganimals did so as well” This dream is referring to the short duration of HazratAbu Bakr’s(r.a) caliphate where his accomplishment were limited due to fightingthe apostates. ‘ Bucket transformed in size’ is being referred to the religionof Islam multiplying during the time of Hazrat Umar(r.a) and his work as aleader that brought wealth and prosperity to the Muslim nation.
This provesthat Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a) and Umar(r.a)as the right and left hand of theProphet(pbuh) were the rightful candidates to the caliphate as a result of thetime and dedication they spent in the company of the Prophet(pbuh) being taughtIslamic Monotheism from the beginninguntil it became complete and perfect just prior to his(pbuh) passing.In his inauguralspeech, Hazrat Umar(r.a) spoke about sound governance, foreign policy issuesand domestic policy issues and saw no reason to differentiate between issuesthat pertain to worship and issues that pertain to governing the Muslim Nationand made it clear that the teachings of Islam embrace all aspects of people’slives. People were afraid at the time of having Hazrat Umar(r.a) as a leaderbecause of his strictness and harshness and he realized that as a leader he hadto shed those characteristics about him as it could alienate the generalpopulation.
In his speech he mentioned “and know that my harshness has lessenedin intensity; nonetheless, I will continue to be harsh against people who dowrong and who do acts of transgression. If anyone wrongs another person orcommits a hostile act against him, I will place that wrongdoer’s cheek on theground, and I will place my foot on top of his other cheek until he submits tothe truth. But after showing harshness in that situation, I will place my cheekon the ground for people who are chaste and peaceful. O people I promise toadhere to a number of qualities for which you must hold me accountable.” HazratUmar(r.a) looked upon the caliphate as a test and a position he would be heldaccountable on the Day of Judgment. His position of leadership meantresponsibility, duty and hard work and not status, power and fame. One of the first steps he took to bringaccountability was that Hazrat Umar(r.
a) forbade his family members from usingtheir relationship with him to make a profit or get a judgement in theirfavour. He was determined to be fair and just and vowed to treat everybodyequal regardless if they were related to him or not. One of the reasons HazratUmar’s(r.a) reign is known as the golden era was because he followed the ruleof Islam giving freedom to believe inany religion. Hazrat Umar(r.a) did not forcefully convert the non-Muslims toIslam, but instead he respected their beliefs and allowed them to be a part oftheir land. He allowed Christians and Jews to share the land and signed a treatythat they would defend their land with the Muslims incase of an attack. Theywere also known as the Dhimies because they were obliged to pay the jizyah taxand would be included in the Muslim community and were given protection underthe Muslim Lands.
This really earned him everyone’s respect as a leader and itcarried the momentum for him to lead his religion and the people to greatness.One of thegreatest accomplishments of Hazrat Umar(r.a) was the dating of the Muslimcalendar because it was a key advancement for the Muslim civilization. It gavethe Muslims a unique stamp that distinguished it from other nations. Every nation or religion started theircalendar based on some important event that defines its people. He was given a suggestionto start the calendar from the birth of the Prophet(pbuh) like the Christiansstart their calendar from the birth of Jesus(pbuh), but he was quick to dismissthe idea because he figured some would question the exact date of the birth ofthe Prophet(pbuh). After consultationsfrom his companions(r.a), he settled on to start the Muslim Calendar from thedate of migration(Hijra) from Mecca to Medina, hence the Muslims use the HijriCalendar.
This became a source of pride for the Muslims, andreminded them their capabilities of overcoming the struggle. Hazrat umar(r.a) gave the Muslims something tofurther promote unity, a bond of brotherhood that did not take factors such asskin color, race or lineage, but a bond that took only faith into considerationand now were able to unite under the same calendar. It gave a sense of growthamong the Muslims as a Nation and it initiated steps to reach new heights andcross new barriers.
The marketplace isa source of great benefit to every country. Its where sellers come to offertheir goods and buyers purchase theirbasic necessities. If left unsupervised it can become a place of evil wherepeople cheat each other and the rich wrongfully take advantage of the poor.
Hazrat Umar(r.a) understood the importance of a fair marketplace and whateffects it could have on the economy. Toensure fairness and righteousness, Hazrat Umar(r.a) would personally patrol themarketplace, forcing buyers and sellers to conduct their business in accordancewith the teachings of Islam.
When he became too busy to personally patrol, heappointed two individuals to mind the marketplace. The appointees became abranch of government that came to be known as Nidham Al-Hisbah. Hazrat Umar(r.a) took important steps toensure that business was conducted in a manner that benefitted the consumers.
The marketplace remained stable, where prices did not fluctuate. There was noform of cheating in the marketplace and no individual or a group of peopleformed a monopoly where practicing price fixing was non existent. There was noblack market. He also introduced a system of licensing where in order to gain a trading license, onewould have to study the rules, norms and regulations that pertain to ones tradeand profession.
Every advanced country has some form of system that ensures thesmooth running of markets and almost every city has a Chamber of Commerce, andthese very institutions found in advanced countries today, Hazrat Umar(r.a)established them about fourteen centuries ago.Another one ofgreat accomplishments of Hazrat Umar(r.a) was the making of a police force. Inthe early days of Islam, Muslims did not really need a police force, they hadwhat in modern times we call a neighborhood watch program where everyone lookedout for one another. Hazrat Umar(r.
a) would himself patrol the streets at nightalong with his freed slave. This is the leader of his people who wouldsacrifice his own sleep to ensure security of his people. I do not know of anyking who ever did this instead of sleeping comfortably in their palaces andspeaks volume of the modesty and humbleness of Hazrat Umar(r.a) as a leader.However, as the size of the population grew, crime rate also increased whichled to the need for patrolling the areas. Hazrat Umar(r.a) was quick to establisha force that patrolled the streets at night while people slept and to mind themarketplace.
He also built a task force that would employ spies for HazratUmar(r.a) to keep a firm rule over his people. His vision of securing the smalldetails around him enabled him to pursue painting a bigger picture for theMuslim Nation and success soon followed.
Golden times werepresent and Hazrat Umar(r.a) had set himself up to start to expand the religionof Islam. With the death of the Prophet(pbuh) and his companions getting old,Hazrat Umar(r.a) realized that the true teachings of Islam needed to beprotected from misinterpretations and newly invented ideas. As Muslim territory started to expand, manycities and provinces became a part of the Muslim Nation. While Makkah wasobviously regarded as the holiest of all cities, Madeenah was regarded as themost prestigious city.
Madeenah was the home of the Prophet(pbuh), it was thecity where Islam thrived, where the Caliph resided and from where Muslim armiesmarched to conquer foreign lands. It waswithout a doubt the capital and center of Islamic civilization. During hisrule, Hazrat Umar(r.a) further elevated the status of Madeenah, making it acenter of higher learning for the sciences of Hadeeth and Fiqh. Hadeeth and Fiqare the sayings and actions of the Prophet(pbuh). They are second to the Quranin Islamic Laws.
It was the first time in history that Islam had its owninstitution of learning. Hazrat Umar(r.a) went onto to establish ‘The MakkahSchool’ in Makkah, ‘The Basrah School’ in Basrah, ‘ The Kufa School’ in Kufa,’The Ash-Sham School’ in Ash-Sham(Syria) and ‘ The Egypt School’ in Egypt. With the conquering of new lands and additionof foreign people into the fold of Islam, there was a great need to teach thosepeople their religious duties and Islamic legal ruling, and Hazrat Umar(r.a) understoodthe importance of that need and answered it with opening of new schools andinstitution. Furthermore,Hazrat Umar(r.
a) was also responsible for the new infrastructure of roads andpublic transportation for the Muslims. To fulfill the needs of a growingpopulation, Hazrat Umar(r.a) expandedthe Holy mosque in Makkah and the Prophets(pbuh) mosque in Madeenah. He madetravel throughout the Arabian peninsula possible for poorer Muslims who did notown horses or camels. He set aside a portion of the public funds from the Muslimtreasury to purchase a number of camels which were borrowed by those who neededthem to travel. At various points between villages and urban cities, he establish’flour houses’ where food was stored and were used as guest houses for thosetravelling. Nothing of this nature was ever present before for the Muslims, andthis truly was a luxury the Muslims enjoyed.
For a nation to achieve itseconomic and military goals, its cities must be connected by well maintainedroads and Hazrat Umar(r.a) achieved thatat the highest levels.Finally, HazratUmar’s(r.a) caliphate was marked as the golden era of Islam because of theeconomic and military success. His wasan era of great military conquests, where he took down two of the largestempires in the world, the Roman and the Persian Empire. “‘ It was during histime that the conquest of Syria was completed; as was that of Egypt to it’sfarthest reaches, as well as the province of Persia. He destroyed Kisraa(Chosroes) and humiliated him to the utmost, forcing him to retreat back to thefarthest reaches of his kingdom. Similarly, ‘Umar destroyed Qaysar(Caesar), wrestling from his hands the lands of Syria and bottling him up inConstantinople.
He spent the wealth (conquered from them) in thepath of Allaah – as the Messenger of Allaah had informed and promised..”(umaribnalkhattab. tumblr.
com). This will always be the greatest achievement ofHazrat Umar(r.a) and it really solidified him as the greatest Caliph the MuslimNation ever had. He also went on to take back Jerusalem for the Muslim Nationand was actually present to enter Jerusalem when it fell to the Muslims.
It wasa great victory for the Muslims and it cemented Hazrat Umar(r.a) legacy as thegreatest Caliph of the Muslim Nation. Whatstarted off as a religion with a few hundred followers abandoned in the dessert, Hazrat Umar(r.
a) turned it into one of the most powerful Nations on earth andthe world took notice, gaining respect and becoming a formidable opponent toany power that would dare to invade the Muslim lands.There is no doubtin my mind that the caliphate of Hazrat Umar(r.a) gave the Muslim Nation a bright future, wherewithout his accomplishments, Islam could have been wiped out by a foreignempire down the road. Hazrat Umar(r.a) passed away after ten years being acaliph and the effects of his death were strongly felt by Islam and its people.After his passing, the hypocrites got a window of opportunity to finallyexecute their agenda and tyranny followed. The unity started to fade away andMuslims started dividing into different sects. Hazrat Uthman(r.
a) was chosen asthe rightly guided third Caliph and his time was nothing but full of controversiesand tyranny. There were a lot of people at the time of the death of the Prophet(pbuh) who believed that the Prophet’s(pbuh) cousin and son-in-law HazratAli(r.a) should have been the first Caliph. The controversy did not live outloud because of the strong leadership of Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a) and HazratUmar(r.a) and the support they received from Hazrat Ali(r.a) himself.
However,after the passing of Hazrat Umar(r.a) and Hazrat Ali(r.a) being passed over forthe third time, A sect called the Shiite was starting to form. They are thefollowers of Hazrat Ali(r.
a) and have secluded themselves to believe in HazratAbu Bakr(r.a) and Hazrat Umar(r.a). The sect formed of the original Muslims iscalled the Sunni which is derived from the word ‘Sunnat’ , which means ‘the wayof the prophet(pbuh)’. They follow the exact words and actions of theProphet(pbuh) which is the Sunni way. Shiites have formed newly invented ideasand rules, such as praying 3 times instead of 5 and there have been conflictsbetween Shiites and Sunnis that have started from the time the rule of HazratUmar(r.a) ended to present day.
To conclude, there is no doubt in my mind that the periodduring which Hazrat Umar(r.a) was the Caliph was the ultimate Golden era ofIslam. His accomplishments paved the way for the Muslims to flourish in to thefuture and grow exponentially.
It was his leadership skills that earned him thetitle ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen’ which means Leader of the Believers. What made HazratUmar(r.a) so respectful among his people was his modesty and down to earthpersonality. This was a man who could have built himself palaces and kingdomsand eat from cutlery made of gold, but instead he chose to treat himself as ifhe were the poorest of his people.
” Anas ibn Malik(r.a) related that he oncesaw ‘Umar(r.a) walking in the marketplace while wearing a lower garment thatcontained 14 patches and Anas(r.a) recounted Umar(r.a) was not wearing either ashirt or a robe but he was carrying a stick in his hand.
“(As-Salaabee). Herewas a leader of a great Nation patrolling the market in simple ,old and tornclothes in order to make sure the weak and poor consumers were not takenadvantage of. It was actions like these that earned him the loyalty of hispeople that would go through a brick wall for him. His actions brought unityamong Muslims that has never been experienced before. During his administration,it is well known that even a stray dog wasn’t left to survive hunger, because HazratUmar(r.a) believed that he would have to answer for every little situation andhe would be held accountable for them. All in all, Hazrat Umar(r.a) managed tofind economic success, great military conquests, unity among his people and broughtin systems to build a structure of government that would define the Muslims asa single Nation and that is what made his time the Golden times of Islam.
Toend I would like to leave you with one of the sayings of the Prophet(pbuh) togive you an idea of what is the status of Hazrat Umar(r.a) in Islam: “If therewere to be a Prophet after me then he would be Umar ibn Al-Khattab.”Hazrat Umar(r.a)fdksdhkjdshkHazratahhasdi