2. Tijani’s claim that `Umar was Unjust

Refuting Tijani’s Criticisms of the Second Khalifah, ‘Umar ibn al Khattab
May 18, 2017
3. Tijani accuses ‘Umar of ignorance
May 18, 2017

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2. Tijani’s claim that ‘Umar was Unjust

He says:


For example, we hear so much about Umar’s justice which the “story-tellers” attributed to him. It was even said about him “You ruled with justice, therefore you can sleep.” It has also been said that Umar was buried in a standing position so that justice would not die with him… and you could go on and on talking about Umar’s justice. However, the correct history tells us that when Umar ordered that grants should be distributed among the people during the twentieth year of al Hijrah, he did not follow the tradition of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, nor did he confine himself to its rules. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam distributed the grants on an equal basis among all Muslims and did not differentiate between one person and another, and Abu Bakr did the same throughout his caliphate. But Umar introduced a new method. He preferred the early converts to Islam to those who came later. He preferred al Muhajireen (immigrants from Mecca to Medinah) from Quraysh to other Muhajireen. He preferred all the Muhajireen to al Ansar (followers of Prophet Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in Medinah who granted him refuge after the Hijra). He preferred the Arabs to the non-Arabs. He preferred the freeman to the slave. He preferred (the tribe of) Mudar to (the tribe of) Rabia for he gave three hundred to the former and two hundred to the latter. He also preferred al Aws to al Khazraj.

Where is the justice in all this differentiation, O people who have minds? [1]


Refuting Tijani’s claim that ‘Umar was Unjust

The idea of justice is subjective. Some advocate for justice as equality. Others promote the concept of need-based justice. While there are even others who call for merit-based justice. Since the concept of justice is so subjective, it is unfair to liberally dish out demerits based on a subjective perception of what justice actually is.

Secondly, the allegations against ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu have to be seen against a particular backdrop. If there is a precedent which justifies his policy, the charge of injustice is nothing more than the reflection of bias and prejudice in the eyes of the accuser. If ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is found adopting a Prophetic precedent then it is not ‘Umar whom Tijani has issue with; instead it is the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Tijani accuses ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu of injustice based on his grant distribution schedule [Ata]. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had a tiered system by which he calculated people’s monthly grant [Ata] from the state. This is a policy which has a precedent in the Sunnah.

Al Bukhari narrates in his Sahih from Nafi’—from Ibn ‘Umar, who said:


قسم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوم خيبر للفرس سهمين وللراجل سهما‏‏ قال فسره نافع فقال إذا كان مع الرجل فرس فله ثلاثة أسهم فإن لم يكن له فرس فله سهم‏.

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam distributed the spoils of war on the Day of Khaybar, for the horse two shares and for the infantry one share. Nafi’ interpreted it and said, “If the man had a horse with him he received three shares and if he did not have a horse with him he received one share.”[2]


Ibn Taymiyyah says:


Those who allow for disparate distribution say the general rule is parity (between all). The fact that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to favour at times proves permissibility of favouring. This view is the better view. In other words, the general rule is parity between all and that favouring is permissible on account of a favourable benefit. ‘Umar did not show favour on account of preferential treatment or bias. Rather, he distributed the Ata according to religious merits and therefore favoured the Sabiqun Awwalun from the Muhajirin and the Ansar then those who came after them from the Sahabah. Also, he used to reduce his own share and the shares of his close family to less than their peers. He reduced the shares of his son and daughter to shares less than those they were superior to. Only the one who favours on the basis of his personal desires is criticised. As for the one whose goal is the pleasure of Allah, and obedience to the Messenger, and honouring those whom Allah and his Messenger honour, and giving preference to those whom Allah and his Messenger gave preference to; such a person is praised and not rebuked. It is for that reason that he gave ‘Ali and his sons more than he gave to their peers and such was the way he treated the rest of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family. Had he distributed it equally they would only have received a portion of that.[3]


‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu distributed the grant on a merit based system, and he divided them into categories based on a hierarchy of merit. The first category was the participants of Badr from the Muhajirin, then the participants at Badr from the Ansar. The next category was the Muhajirin who did not participate in Badr but participated in the rest of the battles, then those who witnessed Hudaybiyyah, and then the Conquest of Makkah, then those who participated in the campaigns of al Qadisiyyah and Yarmuk. He fixed stipends for some, like Hassan and Hussain, at the highest tier despite them not fitting the brief.

Contrary to what Tijani says, there was no distinction between Arab over non-Arab in terms of the distribution. He stipulated the same amount for those who participated at Badr, whether Arab or freed slave. He wrote to the leaders of the armies, “Those who you set free from the non-Arabs who have accepted Islam join them to their former masters with the same rights and duties. If they prefer to be independent then treat them as your family with regards to the ‘Ata and general goodwill.”[4] As for the method of distribution mentioned by Tijani which he transmitted from Shia sources, they have no reliable chains of narration for them.


NEXT ⇒ 3. Tijani accuses ‘Umar of ignorance 

[1]Then I was guided, p. 94-95

[2]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, Bab Ghazwah al Khaybar, Hadith no. 3988

[3]Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 6, p. 103-104

[4]Mawsu’ah Fiqh ‘Umar ibn al Khattab by Dr. Muhammad Rawwas Qal’ah, p. 541

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