Translator: Dr. Hassan Najafi
Publisher: Ansariyan Publications – Qum
Category: Imam Ali
ISBN: 978-964-438-976-8


Author: Ali Labbaf
Translator: Dr. Hassan Najafi
Publisher: Ansariyan Publications – Qum

ISBN: 978-964-438-976-8
visits: 5176
Download: 1733


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Publisher: Ansariyan Publications – Qum
ISBN: 978-964-438-976-8

Discourse One: Piety and Simplicity Scrutinized

Motive of Caliphs’ Piety

“People contemporary to the Prophet had become familiar and habituated to plain living. Besides, people were very much happy and gratified that their leader was living a simple life. This had become a particularity, a distinction and a standard of a leader.

If one in his worldly life used to adopt piety and keep himself from extravagance, ate simple food and wore coarse clothes, even though he did not have other qualifications of leadership, he was considered most qualified for leadership.”[63]

Accordingly it was natural that Caliphs should have adopted this way of life, which gives them a hand to deceive people and attain legitimacy to their usurped Caliphate. This weak point in public opinion had been of much benefit to Caliphs to draw from it as much advantage as they could in political and social aspects. Whatever capacity they had, they exerted efforts to abstain from worldly luxuries and comforts. This was a tool to deceive people. By doing so they got the pleasure of governing people - Arabs and non- Arabs.

The type of life they lived gave them required strength and needed ability to cheat and deceive people to an extent, which provided them a stand among them and brought the public opinion to their absolute favor. Such a gain on their part went a long way to silence people when the First Caliph confiscated Fadak and when the Second Caliph brought new things into religion that had not existed in the Prophet’s lifetime. Because:

“Abu Bakr and Umar did not very much take benefits from the Public Treasury. On the basis of this, people thought that if the Caliph confiscated one’s property or wealth it was not that he wanted to increase his own wealth.

People like that their rulers not be strict towards them in collecting taxes. And if the public pays taxes, the money should not be used for personal expenditure.”[64]

Ibn Abil Hadeed Motazalli narrates in his commentary of Nahjul Balagha what his teacher. Abu Ja’far Naqeeb had told about the deep influence of pious-looking politicians:

“The style that Abu Bakr and Umar had adopted in their political life attracted peoples’ general admiration because they distanced themselves from worldly riches and adopted piety, though a feign one.[65] They eschewed worldly decorations and greatness. They showed as if they are at a distance from worldly gains. They sufficed with a little of it. For food, they sufficed on very simple food. In clothes, they chose very coarse cloth. Whenever they got any worldly profit they divided it among the people. They did not corrupt themselves with worldly riches. This issue played a great part in attracting peoples’ hearts towards them. Caliphs remained always in good books of people and in their good will. Those who had a little doubt in their hearts said to themselves:

Had they been opponents of Prophet’s orders it would have been for their personal benefit. Some or other attachment to world could have been seen in them.

How they opposed the Prophet’s command and [at the same time] eschewed worldly pleasures; so they spoiled for themselves both the worlds. Would a man with a little sense do it?

It was this issue that left no doubt in anyone with regard to their actions;[66] they trusted their rulership and approved their character.

But people neglected one point in their calculations that is the pleasure of being in power. Being at the helm of affairs and ruling people and steering the government is itself a great luxury and a great gain.[67] For this, everything is sacrificed. Food and other things are of no importance for those who are after greater aims. Thus the poet says:

Some ignored the pleasure of riches.

But they did not ignore the pleasure of commanding and prohibition.

Abu Ja’far Naqeeb says: The difference of the two Caliphs with the third was the cause that the third was killed that way. People had deposed him. Uthman thought that he and his family has a share in the public belongings. Whatever does not belong to him and his family, he thought that it should belong to him. When it belongs to him, it belongs to his family too. If Uthman also had followed the system of his predecessors and kept his family away from public treasury, people would have been at his side. Even if he had changed the direction of prayers from Kaaba to Jerusalem or if he had reduced the five-time prayers to four, people would not have objected and none would have criticized him…”[68]

According to this analysis, we can understand the reason of peoples’ silence against innovations of the Second Caliph. Whatever wrong the Caliph did, it was regarded within a religious framework even by the Prophet’s Companions, even though it be against the Prophet’s practice.

Political Piety

Although it is claimed:

“He was so pious and God-fearing that he did not appoint Saeed bin Zaid in the consulting (Shura) committee because he was his cousin.”![69]

But it must be said: The fake piety that he had created around himself brought him popularity among the people. Through this means, he gained legitimacy for his Caliphate. He adopted the same policy in appointment of government staff.

Both Abu Bakr and Umar avoided giving jobs in government at low or high levels to their relatives and close ones - no matter how befitting or qualified they be for that job. This trick reflected among the people their piety and fear of God.[70]

Of course some exceptions were there:

A) Abu Moosa Ashari was an official of Umar in Basrah. Abdullah Ibn Umar was his son-in-law.[71]

B) Qadama bin Maz’oon was Abdullah bin Umar’s maternal uncle. He was Umar’s agent in Bahrain.[72]

Historical documents also show that Umar was well aware of the danger of appointing family members in government affairs. Therefore he avoided appointing his relatives and his dear ones.[73] Instead, he appointed outsiders who had their tribal backings.

“It is said that Umar had predicted Uthman’s fate in the following words: If Uthman becomes Caliph, sons of Abi Muit[74] and Umayyah[75] will dominate people. He will place public revenue at their disposal. I swear by God, if he reaches to Caliphate he will certainly do what I have said. Arabs will riot against him such that they will kill him in his own house.”[76]

How come Umar frame a committee of six persons and gave such powers to Ibne Auf[77] so that it was sure that Uthman would become the Caliph? This is a question that can only be answered by Umar himself.

Piety or Public Deception

The following document shows that it was Umar’s trick to deceive people by the cloak of piety he had donned. It was to protect himself from peoples’ objection. Because historical sources say:

“Hurmuzan[78] asked Umar: Do you allow me to cook food for Muslims?

Umar said: I am afraid you won’t be able to.

Hurmuzan: No. I can.

Umar: Then, the choice is yours.

Hurmuzan cooked food in various tastes of different varieties - sweet, pinching, sore, mild and hot. He came to Umar and informed him that the food was prepared. He invited Umar to come and eat the food.

Umar stood in the middle of the mosque and said loudly:

O, Muslims! I am a messenger of Hurmuzan to you. Then Muslims followed Umar. When Umar reached the house of Hurmuzan, he stopped at the door and said:

Wait here. Then he entered the house alone. He asked: Bring the food that is cooked. I like to see it. Then Umar asked to bring a huge plate for him. The plate was given to him. He ordered to put the food from each variety in it. Then Umar mixed it.

Hurmuzan shouted: What are you doing. You spoiled the food because some is sweet and some is salty.

Umar answered: Do you want Muslims to change their opinion about me. After doing this, he asked Muslims to enter the house and eat the food.”[79]

Hypocritical Piety

One of the claims to prove the piety of Caliphs is this:

“To prove Abu Bakr’s piety in not utilizing the public funds and showing his dislike to worldly luxuries these two examples are enough:

One day household members of Abu Bakr asked him get sweets for them.

His wife suggested that she would save some money from daily expenses for a few days until it makes a sum. Abu Bakr accepted his wife’s suggestion. After a few days, a small amount was saved. This amount was given to Abu Bakr to buy sweets. Abu Bakr took the amount and surrendered it to the Public Treasury. He said to the official of funds that experience proved that the sum was more than domestic expenses. So he ordered the treasury to reduce his monthly allowance by the same amount. For the past months, he ordered to collect the sum from his personal property he had before becoming Caliph.”![80]

“Another case: Abu Bakr in his last days sold the land he had bought during his Caliphate from the amount he had taken as his salary by consent of Muslims[81] to be used by Caliph, and returned it to the Public Treasury. He also made a will that all amenities utilized by him as Caliph should be returned to treasury.”[82]

Before analysis, we would like to draw the attention of our readers to a historical document in which you will see for yourself that Abu Bakr himself has admitted that he cannot refrain from the world and its attractions. Yet they claim:

“Abu Bakr was a man most indifferent to the world.”[83]

“It is mentioned in Mustadrak Sahihain Vol. 4, Pg. 309 that Zaid bin Arqam narrated: We were with Abu Bakr when he asked for something to drink.

Water mixed with honey was brought for him.

He took the glass close to his lips and wept for a long time then he wiped his tears.

He was asked: O Caliph of Prophet of God, why are you weeping?

Abu Bakr: I was with the Prophet of God. I saw him driving away something, but there was no one to be seen.

I asked: O the Messenger of Allah! What is it that you are warding off from you?

He said: It was the world that came to me personified. I told it to go away from me. She (the world) cried and returned and said: Even though you may flee from me but he that would come in your place after you would not be able to leave me.

This same story Khateeb Baghdadi has written in the Tarikh Baghdad Vol. 10, Pg. 286 and Abu Naeem has written in Hilyat al-Awliya Vol. 1, Pg. 30. Both of them have mentioned this too that Abu Bakr told that he feared that the world might occupy him in its pleasures. Muttaqi has also written is Kanzul Ummal Vol. 4, Pg. 37 that Abu Bakr wept fearing the world would entrap him…”[84]

Analysis of this quotation brings three points to the fore:

A) This story is narrated by Sunni sources in their reliable books. If relation or mutual attachment between Abu Bakr and the world is accepted, it would contradict the claim of his being pious.

B) If the claim of Abu Bakr of the talk of the world with the Prophet were true then there comes the attachment of the world and Abu Bakr, which contradicts the claim of his piety.

C) If this talk between Abu Bakr and Muslims is true, it seems that the confession of Abu Bakr before Muslims and his companions in that particular way was a salient quality with him and was a covering over his extraordinary inclination towards the world. The Caliph (Abu Bakr) here has invented the tradition to confirm his Caliphate and at the same time his piety. He wants to establish his probity before the events of Saqifah. He wants to prove by this invention of his, close familiarity between him and the Prophet. This will give popularity to his Caliphate and justification to him for that post. In the tradition invented by him these worlds are very much meaningful “…he that will come in your place after you.” How can it be believed when in order to justify the usurpation of Caliphate of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) they claim that the Prophet did not appoint anyone as his Caliph or successors?

The document leads us to a crossroad where one way leads to his confession of being worldly and enchanted by the world and the other is contrast in claim of his piety and fear of God, which compelled him to return public funds he had used during his Caliphate.

Abdullah, grandson of Abu Bakr (from his daughter), requested Asma, wife of Zubair, to recommend Abu Bakr. He was very much dear to Ayesha - his aunt.

His request from his grandfather Abu Bakr is interesting.

“When Abu Bakr became Caliph Abdullah was a youth. One day he came to Abu Bakr (his grandfather) and asked him to give him a huge piece of land. A hill too was in that land. Abu Bakr granted that big piece of land to his grandson to please him.

In Tarikh Ibn Asakir this story of wholehearted generosity of Abu Bakr to his own grandson, Abu Bakr bin Zubair is narrated as follows:

Abdullah requested his grandfather to give him a hill somewhere in Medina. Abu Bakr asked him what he wanted the hill for?

Abdullah answered: We had such a hill in Mecca. So we want to have a similar thing in Medina also. Abu Bakr spotted out a suitable location and granted it to Abdullah. He built two bridges in that place but now there is no sign of them.”[85]

Such irresponsible utilization of public funds is recorded in the annals of history. On the other hand conjectures are invented to dress the Caliph in a guise of piety.

“It is also said that when Abu Bakr was dying he said to his daughter Ayesha: We had Muslim affairs in our hands. But you know that I did not take even one Dinar or Dirham from public funds by way of salary…”![86]

In the same way we see the following claim repeated regarding the deprivation of family members and children of Caliph from minimum material needs through Abu Bakr:

“Abu Bakr adopted a life of piety since he became a Caliph. He took from public treasury the minimum amount in salary. His salary was not enough to purchase sweets for his wife and children. He lived such a stringent life at a time when conditions were improved, Islamic territories were stretched and expanded and the revenues too had increased.”[87]

On the other hand we hear this story from a girl grown and brought up in the house of Abu Bakr:

“Ayesha, in the days[88] of the Prophet, had several dresses and cloaks of different designs and fashions while other wives of Prophet had simple dresses of cheap quality.

Ayesha also wore gold and other jewellery.

Even in the days of Hajj when costly dresses and ornaments are ignored and not used Mother of believers did not abstain.”[89]

Allamah Sayyid Murtuza Askari has shown documents in this respect, which he has utilized in his analysis. We quote a few here:

A) The author of Tabaqaat writes on the basis of the narration from Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr (son of Ayesha’s brother): Ayesha wore costly cloaks - mostly of yellow color. She had costly rings, which she used to wear.

B) A Muslim woman named Shamsia narrates: One day I visited Ayesha and found her wearing a yellow dress and a yellow headscarf.

C) Son of Ayesha’s sister, Urwah bin Zubair narrates: Ayesha had an upper dress of silk. She used to wear it on occasions. Later she gave it to Abdullah bin Zubair.

D) After passing away of Prophet, Muhammad bin Ashath brought a present of a skin coat, which she used to wear in winter.

E) A Muslim lady named Amina says that she saw Ayesha wearing upper dress of red color and headscarf of black color.[90]

F) Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abi Bakr says: Ayesha used to wear a yellow Hajj dress (Ihraam). At the time of Hajj, she performed Hajj wearing her gold ornaments and other costly things.[91]

The interesting thing is Ayesha wore such dresses and appreciated the dress of the ladies of Ansaar as a model for a Muslim lady. She says:

“I have not seen women better than the women of Ansaar. When this verse [verse of Hijab in Surah Noor] descended each one hurried to her woolen cloth, cut it and covered their heads with it as though a black crow was sitting on their heads.”[92]

Personal use of Public Funds

In the same way it is said that Abu Bakr lived a simple life and was very careful with public funds:

“Abu Bakr told his daughter, Ayesha, at the close of his death to surrender the camel, which he was riding and the bowl of his food and the gown he was wearing to the new Caliph who would succeed him. These things are prohibited to others than the Caliph.”![93]

In reply to this we have to rely on historical documents that show how he lavished bribes from Muslims treasury on his opponents to obtain their support. It is the worst type of advantage that puts the piety of Caliph to question.


As you know the Prophet delegated Abu Sufyan to a certain district to collect Zakat. When Abu Sufyan returned to Medina the Caliphate of Ali was hijacked in the Saqifah conspiracy.

Abu Sufyan at first because of communal feelings proposed to Imam Ali (a.s.) of his acknowledgement to him as the Caliph but after “He got disappointed from Ali towards his own personal gains. On the other hand the government at that time was anxious for his campaign, which was in anticipation of government. Umar went to Abu Bakr and told him that Abu Sufyan had returned from his assignment. He warned Abu Bakr that they would not be safe from his mischief. The Prophet of God too, always treated him with care and affection for this very reason. Now he has some amount collected by him in Zakat. Although the amount with him belongs to the Public Treasury we should ignore the amount and give it to him to please him. Abu Bakr agreed and did the same.

Abu Sufyan was pleased and he paid allegiance to Abu Bakr.[94]

According to the narration of Tabari, Abu Sufyan did not pay allegiance to Abu Bakr until he got the post of commander for his son, Yazid bin Abu Sufyan, to the army in Syria.[95][96]

“Our readers are aware of the fact that among them and Bani Umayyah chief (Abu Sufyan) there was no difference of views. I (the author)[97] believe that contradictions in their behavior were a strategy to create divisions in society. There was no motive at all of any good among them.”[98]


Although it must be noted that diversion of public funds in such a way and bribing political adversaries was a common practice of Caliphs. Such misappropriation was in excess. They did it freely without fearing God. To prove this there are many historical documents but we quote here a few:

“When Abu Bakr was established in office he fixed salaries from public funds to Muhajireen and Ansaar women.

Share of a woman from Bani Adi bin al-Najjar was given to Zaid bin Thabit to deliver to her. Zaid went to her and presented the stipend. The woman asked him what it was for. Zaid told her that it was her share fixed by Abu Bakr. The woman replied: Do you want to take away my faith by this bribe? I swear by God, I will not accept anything from him.

The amount was returned to Abu Bakr.”[99]

This of course was not the first case and that woman, not the only woman to be bribed though she rejected. Such cases of expenditures that told on public funds are aplenty. Besides there are many cases of bribes given to persons of their own choice secretly and which were not recorded in books of treasury. For instance the Bani Aslam tribe got free provision in return to their support to Abu Bakr’s rule.[100]

Anyway the policy of terror, fear, greed and bribe -was at the top of the list that ran the administration of Abu Bakr’s rule. Such that he said:

I hope your hearts by terror and your bellies by food have been filled.[101]

At the end we would like to quote another case of misappropriation of public funds by Caliphs for their personal benefit and benefit of their families, particularly by Umar.


“Zakwan a freed slave of Ayesha narrates: When Iraq was conquered, spoils of the war were distributed among Muslims. A basket was sent to Umar with a jewel. Umar showed the jewel to Muslims around him and asked its worth. Nobody knew its worth. He then asked them to allow him to send the jewel to Ayesha for the love the Prophet had towards her.[102]

All agreed.

He sent the jewel to her.

Ayesha said: O, God! What a great victory You have bestowed on Umar today...”[103]

Apparently Umar had forgotten what he himself had told Abu Bakr that public property cannot be granted to anyone that the Caliph likes. Acceptance of a few cohorts around the Caliph cannot be a sanction for this generosity. It belongs to all Muslims. The courtiers of Caliph are not peoples’ representatives. So their sanction does not carry any credit.

More interesting is that Ayesha accepted the jewel as a present. She immediately was pleased and praised Umar. She forgot her father’s will in which he had advised her not to use anything from public property or any sum from public funds because it belonged to Muslims. This shows that in fact there was no such will.

Anyway, public funds were used for personal interests very openly and freely. On the other hand they go on making claim after claim. For instance:

“Umar did not use his Caliphate for any personal benefit. He did not allow himself any sum from public funds for his private ends. He did not allow himself to lavish money on others from public funds.”[104]


“Ibn Saad narrates from Saeed bin Aas Amawi[105] that he (Saeed) asked Umar to give him a piece of land surrounding his house. He wanted the land to expand his house.

He was encouraged to make such a request because Umar had given lands to some of his close associates.

The Caliph told him: Come after the Morning Prayer so that I may do what you want.

Saeed did accordingly. Then they both, Umar and Saeed, went to the spot to see the land.

Umar drew a line by his foot over the land and said this too is yours.

Saeed bin Aas said to Umar to enlarge the land to some extent because he had a large family.

In reply to this request, Umar said: This much is enough for you. However I’ll tell you a secret, which you please don’t disclose to anyone. After me, one will become Caliph that will give you what you request. He will attend to family ties and relations.

Saeed waited the whole duration of Umar’s Caliphate. When Uthman became a Caliph he did what Umar had predicted.”[106]

The interesting point is that Umar did not consult anyone in his charity of lands, which belonged to all Muslims. He did not obtain permission of any Muslim around him. He perhaps forgot the many times he had censured and blamed Abu Bakr in his similar procedure and had even refused the excuse that he (Abu Bakr) had consulted the people around him.

Clandestine Luxury

Claims are made that:

“Umar was an emperor who used to sit over naked ground instead of a throne embossed with jewels. He wore a coarse cloak - very ordinary and cheap, which was quite in line with the dress of a poor ordinary citizen. In his dress, there was no distinction as to differentiate him from others. In those days there were very costly cloths and pieces in the treasury that came from East and West as gifts and presents.”![107]

“Umar used to work from early morning to late at night and take wages for his labor. This he made a source for his livelihood and did not burden public funds.”![108]

“He did not have leisure to eat in ease and comfort or to wash his clothes. He did not go after luxury and pleasure.”![109]

“When Umar left the world he was in debts. His conscience did not let him to take a single Dirham from public funds.”![110]

On the other hand historical document indicates something else:

A - “Umar borrowed a great sum from public funds. It amounted to 86000 Dirhams.[111]

Now if we suppose his fixed annual expenses were five thousand Dirhams then such a loan as this would equal expenses of more than sixteen years.”[112]

Other matters recorded in history say:

B) “Umar gave one thousand Dirhams to one of his relatives.”[113]

C) “He fixed a dowry to one of his wives as forty thousand Dirhams.”[114]

D) “He presented 10000 Dirhams to one of his sons-in-law who had come from Mecca.”[115]

E) “One of the sons of Umar sold his share of inheritance to his brother, Abdullah bin Umar to the amount of a hundred thousand dirhams.[116][117]

Abu Yusuf confirms all these cases and adds:

F) “Umar had four thousand distinguished horses in the way of God.

Umar used to give one of these horses to one whose share from public treasury was little and his needs more. Umar put this condition when he gave the horse: If you tire the horse or do not feed it properly or make it thin and lean, you will be held responsible. If you went to holy war with it and it got wounded you will not be accountable.”[118]

Although the last part of the narration is praise to Umar in some way or other, if the Sunni sect believes this praise they should also believe that Umar owned four thousand horses in the first place. If it is so, it will be in immediate contradiction with claims of his having had lived a poor life because of his piety. On the whole, it can be said:

“His pious life does not mean that he had no wealth during his Caliphate. According to sources Umar was among the rich ones of Quraish.”[119]

While it is said about him:

“Umar owned nothing and he did not desire to own anything.”[120]

Support to Royal life and Hoarding Wealth

Even though in this regard their claim is:

“Hazrat Umar succeeded in his days to stand like an iron wall against this tempest and hurricane and with all his power held it in abeyance.”![121]

But historical documents indicate opposite of this. Please note the following:

1 - Support to Muawiyah

“The Second Caliph used to issue special orders with regard to Muawiyah regardless of the fact that Muawiyah was one of the freed ones, yet Umar was enthusiastic to prepare him for Caliphate. So he tried to prepare ground for his (Muawiyah) coming to power.

It is enough to mention that:

A) Umar kept Muawiyah for years in the post of governor of Syria but did not check his accounts as was routine. While every year he sent auditors to check account books of his district collectors and provincial governors which sometimes ended in insult to the governors.

B) Umar did not keep his collectors and governors in their posts for more than two years. He either changed their locations or transferred them to other places.[122]

C) Muawiyah asked Umar to furnish him with instructions so that he acts thereupon accordingly. Umar said that he would neither issue any orders to him nor would restrict him from doing anything.[123]

D) These were the things in addition to other wrongdoings of Muawiyah, which Umar did know but overlooked. For instance he lent money on interest but Umar did not take any action against him.[124]

E) One day Muawiyah was censured and blamed in the presence of Umar. Umar said to them: Don’t blame the brave man of Quraish before me. He is so brave that he laughs even while he is angry.[125]

F) Umar paid as a salary of one thousand Dinars every month to Muawiyah from public funds. This amount is mentioned as 10000 dinars yearly in other narrations.[126]

G) Umar used to say about Muawiyah:

Beware of a man of Quraish - a man whose color is closer to black. Also beware of his son. He is one who goes to slumber when he is pleased and laughs when he is in rage.[127]

H) Once Umar saw Muawiyah and remarked: He is Choesroe of Arabs.[128]

I) One day Umar asked his companions: Will you speak about Choesroe and Caesar and their policies in the presence of Muawiyah?![129][130]

Such praises for Muawiyah and his royalty while it is that:

“Sometimes Umar too had called himself a king.[131][132]

It is interesting that in spite of these clear confessions of the Caliph it is still claimed that:

“Having had so much greatness and power he did not like to be counted among kings and rulers.”![133]

“This great sacred man instead of becoming proud and arrogant because of his battles - one of which was Jerusalem - became humble.”[134]

2 - Support to Tameem


Historical documents show that:

“In this period the Caliph made Tameem equal to the people of Badr and elevated him to the rows of great men of Islam. He was allotted a monthly salary of five thousand Dirhams.”[136]

Yes, this Caliph is reputed for piety and God-fearing nature.

“Umar had great reverence and respect with regard to Tameem. He used to attribute him as the best among the people of Medina.”[137]


“About Tameem, it is said that he bought a dress for himself for one thousand Dirhams to wear it on the night of Power.[138] This amount was sufficient to buy two hundred sheep. By this amount, he could have fed hundreds of hungry men.”[139]

3 - Support to Zaid bin Thabit


Historical documents show that:

“Umar had a special affection towards Zaid bin Thabit. Abu Bakr during his reign asked Umar to appoint Zaid (who was a youth then) in Finance Department. When Umar became Caliph, Zaid came to him with money he had from the Treasury but Umar told him to keep it for himself.”[141]

4 - Support to Qunfudh

This happened in one of the years when Umar was checking the financial status of his personnel. Qunfudh was having twenty thousand dirhams of the treasury. Umar did not check the account and gave the money for his personal use even though that year he had confiscated half the property of all his officers.[142]

Properties of Staff Members

“Abdur Rahman bin Auf went to see Abu Bakr who was seriously sick. Abu Bakr spoke to him. One of his statements was:

Whoever among you I appointed as officer collected the revenue for himself.”[143]

“Umar bin Khattab [also] time to time used to call his officers to Medina. His officers had openly hoarded wealth from public funds. Umar checked their financial position and interrogated them. He used to take half of their money for public funds and the other half he left for themselves.[144] He neither changed their position nor transferred them.[145]

Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) did not like this policy. He told Umar:

If you think they are wrongdoers, why you take half of their wealth obtained by them illegitimately and return the other half? Why you keep them in their posts?

One day one of the interrogated officers asked the Caliph:

If this money is God’s why don’t you take all of it? If it is mine why you take half of it?[146][127]

More interesting is that:


Persons like Abu Huraira, governor of Bahrain was accused of misappropriation of public funds and the Caliph was notified of this accordingly.[148]


“The Caliph confiscated the property of Abu Moosa Ashari,[149] governor of Basrah, but he was not dismissed from his job.”[150]

In other words, one whose property is confiscated because he misappropriated public funds is allowed to continue in his job!

There are further documents that show:

“A man named Zabbat bin Mohsin Anzai quarreled with Abu Moosa Ashari for spoils of war. Abu Moosa sent him to Umar. Umar, without asking him for the reason of his quarrel with Abu Musa, punished him. Zabbat was enraged and wanted to leave the place. At that time, Umar asked him the reason of the quarrel.

He replied: Abu Moosa has seventy Iranian slaves and a maid by name Aqeela. He said that Abu Moosa lives in such and such way. Then the man counted to Umar the spoils Abu Moosa had taken for himself.[151] In spite of this information about Abu Moosa, the Caliph did not dismiss him. The only thing Umar did was that he purchased Aqeela from Abu Moosa for himself!”[152]

Keeping in mind his partiality with freed slave like Muawiyah, Zaid bin Thabit and Tameen you can yourself judge the following claim about him:

“Umar was so astute and shrewd that he sensed the slightest change in the life of his personnel while they were in the hurricane of victories and spoils of war. He had a watch over all of them. He interrogated them without exemption to check their honesty and trustworthiness towards government and Muslims.”[153]

“Umar throughout the years of his Caliphate paid due care and attention to the work of his personnel and proceedings of his governors.”[154]

Selection of officers

The Second Caliph strongly believed that competency and astuteness in carrying out responsibility of government and military affairs was more important than faith and justice of his men.

A) Selection of Mughaira bin Shoba

Ibn Abde Rabb writes in the beginning of his book Iqdul Fareed under the topic of ‘Discretion of the ruler for those competent for the job’:[155]

“When the Caliph decided to appoint a new governor for Kufa in place of Ammar Yasir[156] he was confused because if he sent a man of probity he would be regarded as weak[157] and if he sent a man of ability, he would be considered a tyrant. At this juncture, Mughaira interfered and put the suggestion:

A man of probity if considered weak the weakness will be his own - not yours. But his inability is counted on you because it will have an immediate bearing on you. On the other hand a strong man will be to your advantage while the sins will be his alone!

The Caliph said: You are right! That man is yourself, because at the same time you are a tyrant also. This was the ground for his appointment and he was sent to Kufa.[158][159]

In this way the Caliph preferred a profane man who had committed great many sins and crimes in Basrah when he was the governor there, but he (Mughaira) was never punished or dismissed. Now he was appointed governor of Kufa.

Historical annals say that Abu Bakr too had the same policy.

B) Selection of Khalid bin Waleed

Abu Bakr acted in the same way with Khalid bin Waleed and in spite of the wicked crimes Khalid perpetrated he made him commander of Syrian army.[160] In the meantime, Abu Bakr left a will[161] in which he had enjoined to send Khalid with governorship to Iraq as soon as he returns from Syria.[162]

C) Selection of Amr bin Aas

Similarly Abu Bakr surrendered Palestine and its affairs to Amr bin Aas. When Umar became Caliph, he transferred him to Egypt as a governor while he (Umar) himself had written a letter to Amr bin Aas addressing him as disobedient, son of disobedient (Al-Aasi ibnal Aasi).[163]

More interesting is the fact that Sunni scholars have themselves written that Umar bin Khattab said:

“One who appoints a transgressor to a job knowing that he is such, is like him only.”[164]

Anyway, in spite of all these historical records still they claim:

“Umar bin Khattab himself was epitome of justice. Therefore he wanted his district collectors and provincial governors to be like him - men of justice in all respects.”[165]

Piety without a Holy war

It is commonly known that the Prophet used to take the responsibility of the command of the army in important and key battles. In battles like Badr, Uhad, Khandaq, Khaiber, Conquest of Mecca, Hunain and Tabuk the Prophet himself was present. On the other hand historical annals show that neither Abu Bakr nor Umar were present in any of the battles or invasions for expanding Islamic territories though these battles took place during their Caliphate. Besides, these battles were called ‘Holy War’ that is war in the way of God. Neither Abu Bakr nor Umar took the command of the army nor directed military movements.

“Historians have unanimously narrated that Abu Bakr only once left Medina to wage a war. After Usamah returned from Mutah, he moved towards Zilqissa. There he prepared a well-equipped army. He gave the command of this army to Khalid bin Waleed while command of Ansaar group was responsibility of Thabit bin Qais. Earlier it was under command of Khalid. He issued orders to them to destroy Tolaiha and those who were from tribes of Asad and Fuzara and had gathered around Tolaiha under his command. So they had to move towards Buzakha. There are some historians who have mentioned the surprise attack launched by Bani Fuzara and that one man from them was killed. This happened in Zilqissa.”[166]

“Balazari and Muqaddasi have also mentioned the story of Zilqissa and the event of the attack of Bani Fuzara.

Muqaddasi after narrating Abu Bakr’s journey to Zilqissa adds:

Then Khalid advanced towards the enemy with his army. Kharija bin Hisn saw Muslims were in a limited number so he gathered courage and attacked them with a few mounted warriors. As a result, Muslims fled and Abu Bakr too fled with them. His age put him out of breath which failed his legs so he took refuge by climbing up the nearest tree concealing himself in the foliage to escape the enemy…”[167]

“It is interesting how they fabricate narrations[168] and create stories to justify the Caliph’s absence in the field and the necessity for his presence in the capital (Medina).

They in the same way have forged narrations attributed to Amirul Momineen (a.s.) in which Ali (a.s.) restrained Abu Bakr and Umar not to personally take part in battles for the safety of their lives.”[169]

While Amirul Momineen (a.s.) although having devoted and loyal warriors around him like Malik Ashtar etc. himself commanded the Islamic forces in three battles of Jamal, Siffeen and Nahrawan and took an active part in them.

Pleasant Food

Let us see what food the Caliph used to eat and in this respect, what claims have been launched.

“He (the Caliph) was so frugal in food that no one liked to eat even one morsel of his food.”![170]

“Sometimes he (the Caliph) remained hungry for long that his belly used to impart sounds as an empty vessel does.”[171]

But what historical documents say is that:

A) “A man told Umar: You have put on weight.

Umar replied: Why should I not when I have women around me who have no pursuit except to fill my stomach?…”[172]

More interesting is that the Caliph himself chastised those who grew fat.

“The Caliph saw a man, who because of obesity walked huffing and puffing.[173]

He asked: What’s wrong with you?

The man replied: This is a blessing from God.

Umar said: No, this is a punishment from God. He is punishing you in this way.”[174]

B) The narrator says: “I was in Umar’s house at dinner time. He (Umar) was eating bread with meat...”[175]

C) “Ibn Abbas says that he visited Umar during his Caliphate. A vessel full of dates was brought that he may taste them. It contained a Saa-a[176] of dates.

He invited me to join and I only took one piece but he ate up all the dates emptying the vessel, then drank water from a flask kept near him. After that he put his head on a pillow, stretched his legs and relaxed…”[177]

D) Abdullah bin Umar narrates: “I saw my father that his mouth was watering. I asked him how he was feeling?

He said: I very much want to eat red shrimp[178] .”[179]

In the end, we leave to you to judge the truth of claims such as:

“Our lord Umar was a model and example to Muslims for his simple living, not getting entrapped in worldly pleasures and his humble and submissive nature.”![180]

Rivalry to piety of Amirul Momineen (a.s.)

Truly inspite of the fact that Amirul Momineen (a.s.) was at the pinnacle of piety and at the highest degree of probity, how can others gain a reputation among people as being models of piety just by pretending to be simple and pious? Thus even in criticism of the aristocratic attitude of the Second Caliph it is said:

“Umar inspite of his piety was the first to lay the foundation of Arab aristocracy[181] .”![182]

Reply to this claim should be searched in the spirituality of people who witnessed the piety of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) during the period of his rule.

“People want a leader who should not prefer his own family to the people. He should live like them with them. He should try for their well-being - not the well-being of his own circle. And Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) was such.

People were well aware of virtues and other tributes of Ali and also knew that he was not like Umar. To Ali there was no difference between an Arab and non-Arab, he did not overlook least disobedience to God, never cancelled the smallest penalty, never feared scolding anyone and except for divine standards and distinctions did not care for anything. It was all this that the people could not bear…”[183]

Caliphs had to maintain the show of simple living and poverty because days of Prophet were still fresh in memories of people. The Prophet had lived such and people had seen it. Therefore it became binding for Abu Bakr and Umar, but both pursued the practice of ignorant days behind this show of piety and poverty. They were partial to Arabs in relation to others. They gave preference to Quraish over the people. They satisfied their inner inclination[184] such as pride and self-lust. Of course their victories in expanding Islamic territories also served a shield to them. It silenced the people to a great extent. In the meantime, they preceded little by little in bringing a gradual change in the style of government. They distanced from the type of government the Prophet had. At the same time they pleased the people so that even to this day of ours they are pleased with them. Ali did not like any trickery and hypocrisy.

For this the piety of Caliphs was propagated to shadow the piety of Imam Ali (a.s.). Today they claim:

“The pious life of Ali was a shadow of the Prophet’s life and a ray of light of Caliphate Abu Bakr and Umar.”[185]

“Ali was like Umar in his piety.”[186]