History of the Caliphs

By: Rasūl Ja’farīan

Translation by: Ali Ebrahimi

p. 59-67
With the expansion of this period’s conquests, vast lands fell under the rule of the Medina government. Running these lands needed managers with new values who could open the way for more conquests. In fact, the most important point for the caliph and Muslims in those conditions was further enlarging the conquered lands. For running the affairs of border regions, mostly those people were chosen who had enough military capability and experience. Thus, one of the main criteria of the caliph for selecting a functionary was someone with such an ability who could properly run the city and the region under his control. A list of ‘Umar’s functionaries in the cities was as follows, Mecca, Muhriz Ibn Hāritha Ibn ‘Abd Shams; Qunfudh Ibn ‘Umayr Taymī; Nāfi‘ Ibn ‘Abd al-Hārith Khuzā‘ī; Khālid Ibn ‘Ās Makhzumī;

Yemen, ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Abī Rabi‘a Makhzumī

Bahrayn, ‘Alā’ Hadramī, Qudāmat Ibn Ma¨‘ūn, ‘Uthmān Ibn Abi l-‘Ās, Abū Hurayrah, Ayyāsh Ibn Abī Thawr

‘Ammān, Someone from the Ansār and then ‘Uthmān Ibn Abi l-‘Ās

Basra, Shurayh Ibn ‘Āmir, ‘Utba Ibn Ghazwān, Mughīra Ibn Shu‘ba, Abū Mūsā Ash‘arī

Yamāma, Salama Ibn Sallāma Ansārī

Kūfa, Sa‘d Ibn Abī Waqqās, ‘Ammār Ibn Yāsir, Djubayr Ibn Mut‘im, Mughīra Ibn Shu‘ba

Tā’if, ‘Uthmān Ibn Abi l-‘Ās, Sufyān Ibn ‘Abd Allāh Thaqafī

Greater Syria, Abū ‘Ubayda Djarrāh, Mu‘ādh Ibn Djabal, Yazīd Ibn Abī Sufyān, Mu‘āwiya Ibn Abī Sufyān[1]

Palestine, Yazīd Ibn Abī Sufyān, ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās

Egypt, ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās

Hidjāz and Ādharbāydjān, ‘Ayād Ibn Ghanam, Habīb Ibn Maslama Fihrī, ‘Umayr Ibn Sa‘d Ansārī [2]

It is said that for some time, Salmān used to rule Ctesiphon.[3]

As indicated by the above-mentioned names, ‘Umar chose fewer people from among the companions to run the affairs. This issue was evident even in those days. Once he was asked about it, ‘Umar answered he did not intend to corrupt them with executive affairs.[4] This has been quoted by several historians. Most answers are the same as mentioned.[5] But, Sha‘bī who is the reliable source of the Sunnis, says, “‘Umar did not allow the Muhādjir s to leave Medina and told them, “What I fear most is that you will become scattered in towns and cities.” He has added, “If any of them asked permission to go to war, ‘Umar would say, “As you have fought alongside the Prophet, that should suffice you.”[6]

Also, Hasan Basrī says, “If any of the companions wanted to leave Medina, he had to seek ‘Umar’s permission.”[7] Preventing the companions’s exit, as some people have said, was not limited to the Quraysh; rather, he basically prevented the exit of those companions who could turn into a pivotal figure in any city and could somehow stand against the caliph. There was also another reason, ‘Umar wanted to prevent the spread of the Prophet’s hadiths in different towns and cities. Khatīb Baghdādī has narrated that ‘Umar sent messages to Abu l-Dardā‘ Abū Mas‘ūd Ansārī and ‘Abd Allāh Ibn Mas‘ūd, saying, “What are all these hadiths you are quoting from Prophet Muhammad?” Later, these people were not allowed to leave Medina[8] until ‘Umar was killed. According to the same quote, Qardat Ibn Ka‘b says, “When we were leaving Medina, ‘Umar saw us off. Then, he asked, “Do you know why I am seeing you off? I wanted to tell you not to narrate the hadiths of the Prophet for the people in the cities you go. I, too, am your partner.” Qardat says, “Afterwards, I did not narrate any more hadiths.”[9]

Preventing the exit of the companions and not employing them was a policy ‘Umar followed carefully. People such as Sha‘bī sought the problem of ‘Uthmān in his policy which was exactly the opposite of ‘Umar’s. It is said that once, Zubayr asked ‘Umar to let him take part in wars.

‘Umar responded, “I will not allow the companions of the Prophet to go to different cities and mislead the people.”[10] Also, it was once protested to him, “Why do you give the affairs to people such as Yazīd Ibn Abī Sufyān, Sa‘īd Ibn ‘Ās, Mu‘āwiya and the like who are from the ˝ طلقا ˝ و ˝مؤلفة قلوبهم ˝ “Those whose hearts are captured as well as those who are the liberated ones.”

But you avoid using ‘Alī, ‘Abbās, Zubayr and Talha?” ‘Umar said he was afraid they would go stir trouble in cities.[11] Also, ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn ‘Awf asked ‘Umar, “Why don’t you allow them to go to Djihād?” ‘Umar said, “If I remain silent and refrain from answering your question, it would be better.”[12] The unacceptable justification of Ahmad Amīn is that it was due to the importance of Medina that ‘Umar kept the Ansār in the city.[13] This viewpoint is different from those of Sha‘bī and Hasan Basrī!

Ibn Sa‘d says, “‘Umar appointed people such as ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās, Mu‘āwiya and Mughīra, but not people like ‘Uthmān, ‘Umar, Talha, Zubayr and ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn ‘Awf because the formers were strong and well-informed in executive affairs. Moreover, ‘Umar dominated them and was an awful figure for them. When he was asked why he did not use the great companions of the Prophet, he would say,[أكره أن أدنّسَهم بالعمل[14 “I please not to taint them with action.”

We previously referred to the caliph’s behavior. He preferred strict managers, even if they were not so virtuous. One of the problematic cities for ‘Umar was the newly established city of Kūfa. For a period, it was ruled by Sa‘d Ibn Abī Waqqās who was removed following the people’s protests. After him, ‘Ammār Yāsir came to power, but he, too, was accused of impotence and ‘Umar removed him. The next person was Djubayr Ibn Mut‘im who again failed to stay in office. At this time, when ‘Umar was greatly baffled, he asked Mughīra who he saw suitable for ruling Kūfa.

Mughīra said, “Appoint me as the city’s governor.”

‘Umar answered, “You are a lewd man!”

Mughīra said, “My efficiency is for you and my lewdness for myself.” ‘Umar liked his response and appointed him as governor of Kūfa.[15] Before that, Mughīra had ruled Basra for a while. There, he had illicit relations with a married woman named Umm Djamīl. This affair was so explicit that four people saw him during adultery. But, only one of them gave false testimony and that saved Mughīra from being stoned. Different sources are unanimous that ‘Umar had asked the fourth person to testify so.[16] ‘Umar’s policy of choosing such people caused Hudhayfa Ibn Yamān to protest to the caliph about his appointment of corrupt people.

‘Umar answered, “I use his power (in running the affairs).”[17] Also, once, someone ho was a governor of Abū Mūsā Ash‘arī in a region of Bahrayn, came to Medina.

He asked Yarfa’ Hādjib, “What character does ‘Umar like best?”

He answered, “Toughness.”

That man said, “When I attended the caliph’s court, I took on a serious expression. It was then that I realized ‘Umar paid more attention to me,” after a while, he asked me.

“Where are you working now?” I answered.

‘Umar said, “From now on, you are appointed in that region directly by me.”[18]

One important point about ‘Umar’s functionaries was his supervision over their way of treating people and the Bayt al-Māl or the public treasury. ‘Umar maintained a special control over them and recorded their wealth at the start of their term in office. In this concern, ‘Umar considered almost all his functionaries[19] to be guilty and halved their belongings when they returned from the region of service. He gave half of the wealth to them and gave the other half to the Bayt al-Māl. This act is called the dividing in two halves of the wealth. It was natural for ‘Umar to believe that his functionaries had gathered the wealth illegally, but as he did not know a particular way for separating the legal from the illegal, he had decided to divide the wealth as mentioned except in a few cases. One of these governors was Abū Hurayra who ruled Bahrayn. When he returned from his mission, ‘Umar divided his wealth and ordered him to be punished. Then, ‘Umar asked him to go back to work! Abū Hurayra said he would not accept to return because his money had been seized, he had been disgraced and he had been beaten as well![20]

‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās, too, saw his wealth divided.[21] Other people to have the same fate were Abū Mūsā Ash‘arī, Hārith Ibn Ka‘b and ‘Utba Ibn Sufyān who were in charge of collecting alms in Tā’if.[22]

Abū Bakra was another governor whose wealth was divided. He protested to ‘Umar and said, “If all these riches belong to God, who don’t you take them all and if they are mine, why are you doing so, then?”[23] As we said earlier, after dividing the wealth of his functionaries, ‘Umar re-appointed them to their posts. Imām ‘Alī has been quoted as having the same protest of Abū Bakr about why the functionaries were returned to work. One such instance was that one of ‘Umar’s functionaries had returned from Yemen, wearing an exquisite robe. But, ‘Umar ordered his attire to be taken off and ordered him to go back to his post.[24] Also, ‘Umar once heard that his governor in the city of Hims had built a nice house and had set a door- keeper for it. ‘Umar sent someone to burn the door of his house, but after a while, sent him back to work.[25] This act even trapped people such as Sa‘d Ibn Abī Waqqās. Balādhurī has provided a list of those governors whose wealth was divided, Nāfi‘ Ibn Hārith, Nafi‘ Ibn Hārith, Bushr Ibn Muhtafar, Djaz Ibn Mu‘āwiya, Khālid Ibn Hārith, Qays Ibn ‘Āsim, Samura Ibn Djundab, Mudjāshi‘ Ibn Mas‘ūd, Shibl Ibn Ma‘bad and Abū Maryam Ibn Muhrash. These people, as said by Balādhurī, were mostly responsible for collecting alms in the cities.[26] Of course, the names of people such as Salmān and ‘Ammār Ibn Yāsir are included on the list.

Controlling his functionaries was a principle in ‘Umar’s policies. This supervision mostly focused on the financial aspect. When ‘Umar heard that ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās had taken some money from the Bayt al-Māl, he wrote to him, “I knew people from the Muhādjirūn who were much better than you, but I appointed you thinking that you had little need.” After that, ‘Umar sent Muhammad Ibn Maslama to divide the wealth of ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās.[27] Another quotation says once ‘Umar heard that ‘Ayad Ibn Ghanam was living a luxurious life, wearing exquisite clothes and eating delicious meals. He sent Muhammad Ibn Maslama to fetch him. When ‘Ayad came, ‘Umar gave him a walking stick and a robe. Then, he tasked him with taking three hundred sheep to the pasture. He was looking after the sheep for two months. Once, ‘Ayād decided to get rid of his situation with the mediation of ‘Umar’s wife. When ‘Umar found out, he harshly told his wife, “This is not your business! You are a mere means of joy that is discarded after having fun.[28] Now, you are meddling in the affairs of me and Muslims?” Then, with ‘Uthmān’s arbitration, ‘Umar sent ‘Ayad back to his post and committed him not to return to his previous situation.[29]

Sometimes, ‘Umar would go to the house of his agents, accompanied by someone. He would remain silent and his friend would ask permission for entry. Then, he entered the house unexpectedly and this way, he tried to supervise their way of life.[30] In one occasion, he heard that Sa‘d Ibn Abī Waqqās had built a palace and had set a portal for the building. ‘Umar sent someone to Kūfa to set the gate on fire.[31] Of course, some of ‘Umar’s functionaries lived luxurious lives, but ‘Umar was not strict with them. two instances were ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās and Yazīd Ibn Abī Sufyān.[32] This could have been due to his trust in their management skills. In some cases, too, he had special interest in certain persons. For example, he was greatly fond of Zayd Ibn Thābit. Once, Abū Bakr asked ‘Umar to appoint Zayd, then a teenager, to a post in financial affairs. When ‘Umar came to power and Zayd returned to him with some money, ‘Umar bestowed on Zayd all the money he had brought with him.[33] One day, ‘Umar heard that Abū Mūsā Ash‘arī had lashed one of the fighters of the army and had shaved his head. He wrote to Abū Mūsā that if he had done this in public, he must receive Qisās or get retaliatory punishment in public. And, if he had done it secretly, again he would have to be punished in the same manner. When Abū Mūsā was getting ready for Qisās, the lashed man forgave him.[34]

At any rate, ‘Umar’s orders and letters to the governors of different lands, his questioning of the emirs of cities and his urging them to observe justice, have been mentioned in numerous occasions by various sources.[35] This situation, whatever reason it had, did not last after ‘Umar. ‘Uthmān, during his years of caliphate, left his functionaries to themselves. This prevented a personality such as Imām ‘Alī from controlling the situation.

The narrator says, “Once, some money was brought to ‘Umar. His child took one dhm, put it in its mouth and went away. ‘Umar went after him and took the money.” The narrator adds, “I was sitting with ‘Uthmān when some money was brought to him, His child took a coin and then, his servant took one, but he did not protest. I burst into tears. When ‘Uthmān asked the reason, I told him the story.

‘Uthmān said, “‘Umar did not give to his relatives for God’s sake, but I am giving to my folks for God’s sake.”[36]

Among his functionaries, ‘Umar did not question one particular person. He was Mu‘āwiya, son of Abū Sufyān who had converted to Islam even later than his father. Appointing Mu‘āwiya as the governor of Damascus during the last six years of ‘Umar’s caliphate was one of the sensitive issues of that time. The caliph was accused of playing a major role in stabilizing the status of the Umayya in Damascus.

‘Umar did not remove Mu‘āwiya from office when he called him the Arab Caesar.[37] Once, ‘Umar told Mu‘āwiya that he did not abide by enjoining to good and forbidding from evil.[38] During ‘Umar’s rule, the entire Damascus was under Mu‘āwiya’s control.[39] Even at the time of death, ‘Umar told the six-man council, “Do not have differences with each other because Mu‘āwiya is in Damascus![40]

Also, Qādī ‘Abd al-Djabbār, a fanatic Sunnites, says, “Although ‘Umar strictly controlled his agents and sometimes changed them, he never had such a behavior towards Mu‘āwiya.”[41]

Abū Bakr Asam said, “Mu‘āwiya was rightful in his war against ‘Alī because ‘Umar had appointed him.”[42] Later, ‘Umar’s political and religious conduct turned into a tradition. Once, when there was a dispute between Talha and Imām ‘Alī over a pitcher at the presence of ‘Uthmān.

Mu‘āwiya asked, “Did it exist at the time of ‘Umar?”

They said, “Yes.”

He answered, “Can you change something which was fixed during ‘Umar’s period?”[43]

Before Mu‘āwiya, his brother, Yazīd, was the governor of parts of Damascus. This issue began at the time of Abū Bakr. When he appointed Khālid Ibn Sa‘īd as the commander of an army in Damascus, ‘Umar insisted that he be replaced with Yazīd Ibn Abī Sufyān because Khālid Ibn Sa‘īd who was in Yemen on behalf of Prophet Muhammad, returned after the Prophet’s demise and complained to Imām ‘Alī about Abū Bakr’s coming to power. That was why ‘Umar preferred Yazīd Ibn Sufyān to him.[44] After Yazīd’s death, Mu‘āwiya succeeded him and ruled Damascus during the last four years of ‘Umar’s caliphate.[45] Djāhi¨ has interesting interpretations about the gradual reinforcement of Mu‘āwiya’s position in Damascus from the time of Abū Bakr until ‘Uthmān.[46]

Among the caliph’s agents, apart from Mughīra, there were other lewd people, too. One of them was Qudāma Ibn Ma¨‘ūn who was a drunkard and was lashed for this.[47] Another governor of ‘Umar, Nu‘mān Ibn ‘Adī, wrote poems on wine and drunkenness.[48] It was reported to ‘Umar that Nu‘mān ran the affairs in the best possible way, but did not say his prayers on time.[49]

At the end of this part, it would be suitable to mention some other points considered by the caliph in choosing his agents. During his early years in Iraq and Damascus, ‘Umar showed that if he did not choose his commanders from among the noble companions, he could not go beyond the limits of the Quraysh and their allies such as the Thaqīf and sometimes, the Ansār who were trusted by the Quraysh. Therefore, despite the fact that Muthannā Ibn Hāritha had grown his power in Iraq and was apparently trusted, ‘Umar did not appoint him as commander in the war against Iranians. Also, when ‘Utba Ibn Ghazwān, the founder of the city of Basra, complained to ‘Umar about the way Sa‘d Ibn Abī Waqqās was enjoining to good and forbidding from evil, ‘Umar told him why he was not willing to accept the rule of someone from the Quraysh. Moreover, ‘Umar tried to choose his agents from the cities not from nomadic tribes. Once ‘Umar heard from Utba that he had appointed Mudjāshi‘ Ibn Mas‘ūd as his successor in Basra and as Mudjāshi‘ had not been available then, had appointed Mughīra Ibn Shu‘ba.

In response, ‘Umar said, “It is better that Mughīra rules Basra, not Mudjāshi‘ because Mudjāshi‘ is from nomads and Mughīra is a city-dweller.”[50] Mughīra was a Thaqafī residing in Tā’if.

[1] Khalīfa Ibn Khayyāt makes it clear that Mu‘āwiya ruled Greater Syria in ending years of ‘Umar’s caliphate.
[2] Tārīkh khalīfat Ibn khayyāt, pp.153-156
[3] Murūdj al-dhahab, vol.II, p.306
[4] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.499
[5] al-Kāmil fi l-tārīkh, vol.II, p.361; Tārīkh al-khulafā’, p.106
[6] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.III, p.397; Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, vol.II, pp.159-160
[7] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.III, p.396
[8] Sharaf Ashāb al-hadīth, p.87
[9] Sharaf Ashāb al-hadīth, p.88
[10] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XX, p.20
[11] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.IX, pp.29-30; al-Fitnat al-kubrā, pp.80-81
[12] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p.158; there, he said that if Quraysh were permitted to leave, they would be led to the left and right wings.
[13] Fadjr al-islām, p.172
[14] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.183and 283
[15] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p.155; al-‘Iqd al-farīd, vol.I, p.22; Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.80
[16] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p.146; al-Musannaf, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, vol.VII, pp.384-385; al-Aghānī, vol.XVI, P.94. about other cases, al-Musannaf, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, vol.VIII, p.217-219
[17] Gharīb al-hadīth, vol.III, p.239; al-Fā’iq, vol.III, p.215
[18] al-‘Iqd al-farīd, vol.I, pp.14-15
[19] For example, he accused Abū Hurayra of theft. Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.IV, p.335
[20] ‘Uyūn al-akhbār, vol.I, pp.53-54; Futūh al-buldān, p.93; al-‘Iqd al-farīd, vol.I, p.45
[21] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.IV, p.335
[22] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.I, p.175
[23] al-‘Iqd al-farīd, vol.I, p.46
[24] Ibid.vol.I, p.46
[25] Nahdj al-sa‘āda, vol.I, p.112
[26] Hayāt al-sahāba, vol.II, p.210; from, Kanz al-‘Ummāl, vol.III, p.166
[27] Futūh al-buldān, pp.90,299 and 396
[28] انما انت لعبته يلعب بك، ثم تتركين No doubt, you are his plaything and finally thrown away
[29] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol.III, p.817; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.I, P.178(with a little difference)
[30] Ibid.vol.III, p.836
[31] Akhbār al-tiwāl, p.124; Futūh al-buldān, p.277
[32] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol.III, p.8333
[33] Ibid.vol.III, pp.854-855; al-Isāba, vol.I, p.85
[34] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara.vol.III, p.809
[35] See a collection of commands, letters and speeches in,
Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XII, pp.194-196. He wrote to the people of cities, “I have not sent my agents to oppress you or seize your property. I’ve sent them to teach you religion and tradition. Anyone iolated this, complain to me for retaliating him because I saw the Prophet(s) doing so, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XII, p.22 and for treating harshly that is because of lack of understanding the Qur’ānic verses, Ibid.vol.XII, pp.15 and 17
[36] al-Amālī fi Āthār al-sahāba, pp.53-54; the heritage the Sunnites know as biography of “Orthodox Caliphs” excluding what Imām ‘Alī said and reflected more in culture of Shia belongs not to Abū Bakr and ‘Uthmān but to ‘Umar. What history tells of this heritage is legion and the Sunnites typically adopted its acceptability through ‘Umar’s letters and catch phrases. It is to admitted that, apart from caliph’s certain matters concerned with Imamate, the Hāshimites and some juriprudic rulers as well as religious values, what persists has had and still has a high place in contrast to ‘Umar’s, the Umayya’s and the ‘Abbāsids’s biography. The Sunnites refomists portrayed this considerably and undeniably. See, Tārīkh falsafih dar islām, vol.II, article on “Tafakkur siyāsī dar sadr islām” is maily vested upon the same acceptability transferred from ‘Umar and presented an idealistic image of the Islamic government and principles of Islamic policy. The caliph held that the assets of Bayt al-Māl are not privately owned but it is divine property,”Māl Allāh” at his disposal(Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, pp.275-276) while ‘Uthmān regarded it as personal propewrty, ‘Umar Himself moved around the city as a “night guard”(Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.281)
[37] Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.61; al-‘Iqd al-farīd, vol.III, p.365
[38] Dalā’il al-sidq, vol.III, p.312 quoted from Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.VI, p.184
[39] Tārīkh khalīfat Ibn khayyāt, vol.I, p.157. This is against the idea of Ibn Kathīr who believes that ‘Umar had him control some parts of greater Syria. al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol.III, p.124
[40] Nathr al-durr, vol.II, p.37
[41] Tathbīt Dalā’il al-nubuwwa, p.593
[42] Masā’il al-imāma, p.60
[43] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. IV, p.499, No.1286; Ibn ‘Āsākir mentions various evidence concerningly. Mukhtasar Tārīkh Dimashq, vol.XXV, pp.18-25 and 44-73
[44] al-Musannaf, ‘Abd al-Razzāq, vol.V, p.454
[45] Tārīkh al-madīnat al-munawwara, vol.III, p.838
[46] Rasā’il al-djāhi¨, al-Rasāil al-siyāsiyya, p.344
[47] al-Ishtiqāq, p.13; al-Fā’iq, vol.I, P.431; Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.V, p.560-561
[48] Mus‘ab Zubayrī, Nasab Quraysh, p.382
[49] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.V, p.560
[50] Mu‘djam al-buldān, vol.I, p.432
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