Note: the English version of this account is based on Dr. Muḥammad Muḥsin Khan’s translation of Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī, with slight modifications. The notes have been compiled from classic ḥadīth commentaries including Fatḥ Al-Bārī of Ibn Ḥajr, as well as points from the lectures and classes of contemporary scholars.
Narrated ‘Amr b. Maimūn:
I saw ʿUmar b. Al-Khattāb a few days before he was stabbed in Al-Madīnah. He was standing with Ḥudhayfah b. Al-Yamān and ‘Uthmān b. Ḥunaif to whom he said, “What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of As-Swad i.e. ‘Iraq) than it can bear?” They replied, “We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield.” ‘Umar again said, “Check whether you have imposed on the land what it cannot bear.” They said, “No, (we haven’t).” ‘Umar added, “If Allāh should keep me alive I will let the widows of ‘Irāq need no men to support them after me.” But only four days had elapsed when he was stabbed. The day he was stabbed, I was standing and there was nobody between me and him except Abdullah b. ‘Abbas. Whenever Umar passed between rows, he would say, “Stand in straight lines.” When he saw no defect (in the rows), he would go forward and start the prayer with Takbīr. He would recite Sūrah Yusuf or An-Nahl or the like in the first rak’ah so that people would have time to join the prayer.
The assassination of ʿUmar took place in 23H, following ʿUmar’s return from Ḥajj. He was assassinated by a Persian Majūsī (Fire Worshipper) called Abū Lu`-lu` Fayrauz, who was in the employment of Ḥudhayfah – Allāh be pleased with him. ʿUmar didn’t used to allow war captives to enter Al-Madīnah, but Ḥudhayfah wrote to him requesting him to allow this worker to be hired for his skills in carpentry and metalwork. Ḥudhayfah believed people in Al-Medīnah could benefit from his skills. Ḥudhayfah taxed this worker in the conventional manner, but he complained to ʿUmar about the amount. ʿUmar told him that he was not being taxed unfairly for what he was doing. This angered the Majūsī. One day, ʿUmar passed by the worker and enquired, “I have been told that you claim you can build a mill powered by wind (a windmill).” The Fire worshipper replied with a frown, “I will build you a mill that all the people will talk about.” ʿUmar turned to those who were with him and said, “The slave has given me an appointment [warning].”
Points to note
- ʿUmar’s great concern for justice and fairness.
- His concern that Muslim society should not be adversely influenced by unbelievers.
- His concern and care for the wellbeing of the Muslims, especially the poor and the weak.
- The attention given by him to the correct performance of al-ṣalāh (prayer), and his implementation of the Sunnah of the imām making sure the rows are straight and no gaps are left between the worshippers.
- His assisting worshippers in getting the most out of their prayer.
- His intelligence and insight, whereby he understood the disguised threat made to him.
Continued inshā Allāh