Omar ibn Khattab, the Second caliph
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 29th of the Islamic month of Zil-Hijjah in 13 AH, Omar ibn Khattab, the 2nd caliph or political head of the Muslim state, succumbed to the wounds he had suffered two days ago at the hands of Abu Lulu (Firuz) for failing to redress the injustice done to him by his Arab master, Mughirah, who had imposed heavy taxes on this talented Iranian convert to Islam, well versed in many crafts including the construction of mills.
Omar, who before becoming a Muslim was a fierce opponent of Islam, had played the leading role in installing his friend Abu Bakr as the first caliph at the dubious gathering of Saqifa Bani Sa’da after a fist fight amongst the companions of the Prophet, while the Prophet’s divinely-designated heir, Imam Ali (AS), along with the Bani Hashem clan and some prominent Sahaba, was busy performing the last rites of the Last Messenger of God.
Two years later, on Abu Bakr’s death, he became the caliph on the claim of the former’s will in his favour, although at the historic gathering of Ghadeer-Khom he was the first one to felicitate Imam Ali’s (AS) formal appointment as the Prophet’s vicegerent with the words: You have become my Master and the Master of all faithful men and women.
For almost a decade that he was head of state, he forbade collection of the Prophet’s hadith, having earlier rejected Imam Ali’s (AS) compilation in book-form of the holy Qur’an, even though he himself had raised the slogan “hasbuna kitabullah” (the Book of God is enough for us), while denying the Prophet’s request in the last days for pen and paper to put in writing the Will for the salvation of the ummah – adherence to the Thaqalayn, i.e. the Holy Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt.
On his deathbed, in order to determine the next caliph, Omar appointed a 6-man Shura (council), which chose Osman Ibn Affan, when Imam Ali (AS) who was first offered the political post, made it clear that he would rule only in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah (practice), and would not follow the unhealthy innovations that had crept into the administration during the previous two reigns.