Misconception 3 – The fortune he left behind after his death

Misconception 2 – His admitting to following his desires and being inclined towards the world at his death
December 8, 2021
Misconceptions related to his relationship with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: Misconception 1 – Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam cursed him when he ridiculed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam
December 8, 2021

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Misconception 3

The fortune he left behind after his death

 

The objective of those levelling this accusation against him is to bring into question the character and integrity of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It is a further attempt to stain his legacy by insinuating he had pilfered the wealth of Egypt after becoming its governor.

‘Ali al Kurani (al Shia) said:

 

وجمع عمرو ثروة طائلة من الفتوحات وكان شديد الحرص على الولاية وقد ظهرت ثروته مبكرة في عهد عمر

‘Amr had amassed a fortune from the conquests. He was exceedingly ambitious for positions of leadership and his opulence became apparent during the early years of ‘Umar.[1]

 

Al Rishahri said:

 

وخلف ثروة طائلة ودراهم ودنانير وافرة وذكر أن أمواله المنقولة بلغت سبعين رقبة جمل مملوءة ذهبا

He left behind a great fortune with much gold and silver. It has been mentioned that his movable assets amounted to seventy camel loads of gold.[2]

 

The evidence they present in this regard is as follows:

 

Mustadrak al Hakim

The narration of al Hakim in al Mustadrak on the authority of Qatadah who said:

 

لما احتضر عمرو بن العاص قال كيلوا مالي فكالوه فوجدوه اثنين وخمسين مدا فقال من يأخذه بما فيه يا ليته كان بعرا

When ‘Amr ibn al ‘As was on his death bed he said, “Weigh my wealth.”

They weighed it and found it to come to fifty-two mudd[3].

He said, “Who will take all what it holds? If only it were dung.”[4]

 

Al Muhtadarin li Ibn Abi al Dunya

The narration of Ibn Abi al Dunya on the authority of al Hassan who said:

 

لما احتضر عمرو ابن العاص نظر إلى صناديق فقال من يأخذها بما فيها يا ليته كان بعرة ثم أمر الحرس فأحاطوا بقصره فقال بنوه ما هذا فقال ما ترون هذا يغني عني شيئا

When ‘Amr ibn al ‘As was on his death bed, he looked at the coffers and said, “Who will take what it holds? If only it were dung.”

He then instructed the guards and they surrounded his palace. His sons asked him, “What is the meaning of this?”

He replied, “Do you see any of this helping me in any way.”[5]

 

Siyar A’lam al Nubala’

The narration of al Dhahabi in al Siyar in which he said:

 

خلف أي عمراً من الذهب سبعين رقبة جمل مملوءة ذهب

The estate of gold left by ‘Amr was seventy camel loads.[6]

 

Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar

The narration of al Maqrizi in Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar, wherein he said:

 

انه خلف سبعين بهارة دنانير والبهار جلد ثور ومبلغه أردبان بالمصري فلما حضرته الوفاة أخرجه وقال من يأخذه بما فيه فأبي ولده أخذه وقالا حتى ترد إلى كل ذي حق حقه فقال والله ما أجمع بين اثنين منهم فبلغ معاوية فقال نحن نأخذه بما فيه

He left behind seventy buhar of gold coins. Buhar refers to the hide of a bull each of which equals to two Egyptian ardebs[7]. When he was on his death bed, he instructed it all to be taken out.

He then said, “Who will take what it holds?”

His sons refused and they said, “Not until you return it to its rightful owners.”

He replied, “That is an impossibility.”

News of this reached Muawiyah who commented, “We will take what it holds.”[8]

 

Answer

This doubt can be answered in the following five ways:

 

1. Studying The Chains of Transmission

All of the narrations that recount and approximate the wealth of ‘Amr are not authentic. Hereunder is a detailed exposition:

 

 

Chain of Mustadrak al Hakim

Al Hakim narrated it from Ibrahim ibn ‘Asamah al ‘Adl — from al Sariy ibn Khuzaimah — from Musa ibn Isma’il — from Abu Hilal al Rasibi — from Qatadah.

 

Ibrahim ibn ‘Asamah al ‘Adl al Nisapuri

He is the sheikh of al Hakim.

  • Al Dhahabi said, “They interpolated his book by adding hadith to it, though he himself is truthful.”[9]
  • Ibn Hajar said, “This man is from the teachers of al Hakim. He writes in his Tarikh, ‘I met him when he was advanced in age. He heard from his father and others before 280 A.H.’ His original manuscript and narrations were authentic. Some copyists made additions to it. Allah exonerated Abu Ishaq from their acts.”[10]

 

Abu Hilal al Rasibi, Muhammad ibn Salim

Abu Bakr al Athram said:

 

سألت أبا عبد الله أحمد بن حنبل عن أبي هلال يعني الراسبي قال قد احتمل حديثه إلا أنه يخالف في حديث قتادة وهو مضطرب الحديث عن قتادة

I asked Abu ‘Abdullah, Ahmed ibn Hambal regarding Abu Hilal al Rasibi. He said, “His hadith are to be considered; however, he contradicts others in the narrations from Qatadah. His narrations from Qatadah are Mudtarib (unresolvably problematic).”[11]

 

This particular narration of his is from Qatadah.

 

Qatadah ibn Di’amah al Sadusi

Though he is reliable and of high status[12] he did not hear from ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and, thus, his narration from him is mursal (broken). The status such has already been explained.

 

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Chain of Al Muhtadarin

This narration is also weak. Ibn Abi al Dunya narrated it from ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Salih — from Hafs ibn Ghayath — from Ash’ath — from al Hassan.

 

Ash’ath

In this chain of transmission Ash’ath could be Ibn Sawar who is weak. Or it could be others whose narrations are accepted such as Ash’ath ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Jabir al Huddani who is truthful. It could also be referring to Ash’ath ibn ‘Abdul Malik al Humrani who is reliable and a jurist. All three of the above narrate from al Hassan al Basri whilst Hafs ibn Ghayath narrates from them all.[13]

 

Al Hassan al Basri

He narrated much with tadlis and he hasn’t specified having heard here. As such his narrations will not be accepted until he specifies having heard. A discussion regarding his mursal narrations has already passed.

 

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Chain of Siyar A’lam al Nubala’

What al Dhahabi has mentioned in al Siyar has no chain of transmission. It is naught but hearsay.

 

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Chain of al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar

Similarly, the statement of al Maqrizi has been mentioned without a chain of transmission. This shows the inauthenticity of it.[14]

 

2. The Children Refusing Any Inheritance

These narrations tell us that his children refused to take of the seventy loads of gold coins when they were presented with it. This contradicts other narrations such as the narration of Tarikh Dimashq which is as follows:

 

لما حضرت عمرو بن العاص الوفاة قال له ابنه عبد الله يا أبتاه أوص في مالي ومالك ما بدا لك قال فدعا کاتبا فقال اكتب فجعل يكتب قال فلما أسرع في المال قال يا أبة لا أحسبك إلا قد أتيت على مالي ومال إخوتي، فلو بعثت إلى إخوتي فتحلل ذلك منهم قال عمرو للكاتب اقرأه فقرأه فقال عبد الله بن عمرو بخ بخ قال فقال له عمرو يا عبد الله أتشكر هذا فوالله لامرأة من المهاجرات أقبلت تتغير في صرحو تقوده إلى رسول الله و يحمله عليه في سبيل الله خير من هذا كله جاء ذاك من حيث جاء وجاء هذا من حيث جاءنا عبد الله والله لقد هلكنا إلا أنا معتصمين بلا إله إلا الله

When ‘Amr ibn al ‘As was close to leaving this world, his son ‘Abdullah said to him, “Father! Make your bequest for my wealth and your wealth as you see fit.”

‘Amr called for a scribe and instructed him to write. He began writing his bequests. When he began making bequests regarding his wealth ‘Abdullah said, “O father, you are spending the wealth, my wealth and the wealth of my brothers. Why do you not send for them and attain their approval.”

‘Amr said to the scribe, “Read it.”

When he read it ‘Abdullah praised and approved of it.

‘Amr commented, “O ‘Abdullah, do you deem this praiseworthy? By Allah! An emigrating woman, changed by travel bringing such to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who spends it in the path of Allah is better than all of this. ‘Abdullah! That came from where it came and this came from where we came. By Allah! We were to be destroyed had it we not been saved by our faith.”[15]

 

3. His Father Was Wealthy

We have already established when discussing his bio-data that his father was a wealthy man and he would wear silk and silk brocade. We also discussed the entrepreneurial abilities of ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his substantial estate at al Ta’if called al Waht which Kings sought out. The estate boasted a million vine branches, each costing a dirham.

 

4. Prosperity of the Islamic State

The Islamic State was, at its inception, without any material wealth. Many of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum would not even find anything to eat and many would have a lower garment whilst being unable to afford an upper garment. As Allah favoured them with conquests, material wealth started flowing in. Consider the following narration:

 

صلى جابر في إزار قد عقده من قبل قفاه وثيابه موضوعة على المشجب قال له قائل تصلي في إزار واحد فقال إنما صنعت ذلك ليراني أحمق مثلك وأينا كان له ثوبان على عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم

Once Jabir prayed with his lower garment tied around his neck whilst his clothes were lying beside him on a wooden peg. Somebody asked him, “Do you offer your prayer in a single garment?”

He replied, “I did so to show it to a fool like you. Had anyone of us two garments in the lifetime of the Prophet?”[16]

 

This portrayed the general state. If we were to look at individual incidents, we would find many cases of adversity as well.

Consider Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu losing consciousness due to hunger during the era of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Yes, when the Islamic Empire grew, Allah opened the doors of prosperity.

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had appointed him as governor of Bahrain and he returned with four hundred thousand.

‘Umar asked him:

 

ما جئت به لنفسك قال عشرين ألفا قال: من أين أصبتها قال كنت أتجر قال انظر رأس مالك ورزقك فخذه واجعل الآخر في بيت المال

How much of this is yours?

He replied, “Twenty thousand.”

‘Umar enquired, “How did you come by it.”

He answered, “I would do business.”

‘Umar said, “Take your capital and stipend and deposit the rest into the Bayt al Mal.”[17]

 

The firmness and reckoning of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu with his governors in wealth they accrued is well known.

Another example of attaining wealth with conquests is that of Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu. His total estate as opined by al Dhahabi amounted to 50.2 million in that time.

‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair said:

 

وقتل الزبير ولم يدع دينارًا ولا درهمًا إلا أرضين بالغابة وإحدى عشرة دارًا بالمدينة ودارين بالبصرة ودارًا بالكوفة ودارًا بمصر وما ولي إمارة قط ولا جباية ولا خراجًا ولا شيئًا إلا أن يكون في غزو مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أو مع أبي بكر وعمر وعثمان رضي الله عنهم

Zubair was martyred and he left no money, but he left certain lands, two of them in al Ghabah, eleven houses in al Madinah, two in Basrah, one in Kufah and one in Egypt… He never accepted a governorship, or revenue office, or any public office. All he got was from fighting along with Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum.[18]

 

Many of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum had no material wealth in the initial stages. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala then graced them with wealth.

As such, if those who had nothing, prospered, then for a business man to have prospered is hardly farfetched.

 

5. Opportunity

The relationship ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had with his governors was maintained by compliance to him and assisting him in the greater aims of the caliphate. We have already established the firmness and reckoning of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He would take a keen interest in their affairs and in the manner they dealt with the populous; the rights of the people and omissions of the governors was foremost in his mind. His gaze was not far off from their wealth and the avenues by which they received wealth. If he had the slightest misgiving, he would instruct them to distribute it.[19]

Taking the above into consideration, I find it nigh-impossible for him to have taken any wealth from the state coffers in an illegitimate manner.

As for opportunities during the caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, well he was relieved of his post during the caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

He was a governor for Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu after that for a period of three years.

Thus, the accusation levelled against him cannot be imagined during the era of ‘Umar or ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and neither does misappropriating the entire Egyptian economy during the three years as governor for Muawiyah make any sense.

Dear reader, it becomes quite evident that these doubts and accusations are naught but fairy tales which have no— not even a distant—relationship to the truth.

 

NEXT⇒ Misconceptions related to his relationship with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: Misconception 1 – Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam cursed him when he ridiculed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam


[1] Qira’ah Jadidah fi al Futuhat, vol. 2 pg. 170.

[2] Mawsu’ah al Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, vol. 5 pg. 313.

[3] Mudd: A unit of measurement equal to approximately 797 grams.

[4] Al Hakim: Al Mustadrak, vol. 3 pg. 513.

[5] Al Muhtadarin: ibn Abi al Dunya: pg. 94.

[6] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 3 pg. 78.

[7] Translators note: The ardeb is equivalent to approximately 76 Kgs.

[8] Al Maqrizi: Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar, vol. 1 pg. 830

[9] Al Dhahabi: Mizan al I’tidal, vol. 1 pg. 48.

[10] Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, vol. 1 pg. 80.

[11] Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 7 pg. 273.

[12] Ibn Hajar: Al Taqrib: 5518.

 [13] See, Sualat al Barqani li al Daraqutni pg. 17; Al Mizzi: Tahdhib al Kamal, vol. 6 pg. 99; and Ibn Hajar: Taqrib al Tahdhib, pg. 113.

[14] I found some Christian sources on the net which mention ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al ‘As to have taken possession of ‘Asqalan—an area of Palestine—and all it held as it was an endowment of ‘Amr for his children. They have referenced this to the book, al Mughrab fi Huli al Maghrib, the Egyptian chapter, authored by Ibn Sa’id al Andalusi. A portion of this book has been published whilst the location of the rest in unknown. A part of the Egyptian chapter has been published under the name al Nujum al Zahirah fi Huli Hadrat al Qahirah. I did not find this claim in the book. If it is found in the future or in another book, it will not be accepted without an authentic chain on of transmission, which is impossible.

The conqueror of ‘Asqalan was Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as recorded in Tarikh al Tabari (vol. 4 pg. 241). Other reports suggest ‘Amr ibn al ‘As conquered it but its people did not take hold of it at which it fell to Romans. Muawiyah re-conquered it. See, al Baladhuri: Futuh al Buldan, pg. 144. Does it make sense to conquer a city and leave it bare without any personnel? That too during the era of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab? Anyone who knows anything about warfare, even a fair non-Muslim, would laugh at this assertion.

We will reproduce, in chapter five, some laws regarding jihad, the impartiality of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, and the praise of the Christians in favour of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As.

[15] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 49 pg. 132.

[16] Sahih al Bukhari, book of salah: chapter of tying a garment around the neck in salah. Hadith: 345.

[17] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 44.

[18] Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 3 pg. 108.

[19] Dirasah Najdiyyah fi al Marwiyyat fi Shaksiyyah ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, vol. 2 pg. 1157. As for the narration which suggests ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent Muhammad ibn Maslamah to ‘Amr ibn al ‘As in order to distribute his wealth, has glaring holes. The author of this book writes the following in, vol. 2 pg. 660:

Ibn ‘Abdul Hakam recorded this in Futuh Misr, pg. 146; al Baladhuri in Futuh al Buldan, pgs. 220-221 and Ansab al Ashraf pgs. 270-271; and al ‘Askari in Al Awa’il.

There is in its chain of transmission ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz for whom I found no bio-data entry. His student Muhammad ibn Sama’ah al Ramli has deemed him reliable and he himself is reliable from the tenth category. See, Taqrib, pg. 482. He said, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz narrated to me and he is a sheikh and reliable. However, it is a mu’dal narration (narration having two narrators missing) from ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

The chain of transmission recorded by al Baladhuri is from ‘Abdullah ibn al Mubarak — from ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He is reliable from the eight category, however his narrating from ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is mu’dal.

In the chain of transmission recorded by al ‘Askari, there is the narrator ‘Abdullah ibn Shabib. Al Dhahabi said, “Akhbari knowledgeable but worthless.” Al Dhahabi: Mizan al I’tidal, vol. 2 pg. 438. It is also mu’dal from the narration Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn Hazm who is reliable from the sixth category. His narration from ‘Umar is mu’dal. Thus, the account is weak.

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