Pact of Umar
Covenant of Umar also known as Pact of Umar (Arabic: شروط عمر or عهد عمر or عقد عمر), is an apocryphal treaty between Muslims and Christians that later gained a canonical Islamic status in Islamic jurisprudence. The pact is traditionally attributed to the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab. Several versions of the pact exist. It contains a list of restrictive measures and prohibitions on non-Muslims in general, by abiding to them, non-Muslims may enjoy some measure of religious tolerance under Muslim rule as Dhimmis. The document effectively established a social hierarchy with Muslims on top and the Dhimmis as subordinates.
Christians were prohibited from building or repairing churches and monasteries, and were expected to host Muslims in their houses and Churches. Other restrictions prohibited public processions and funerals and display of crosses or religious books. In one version, Christians were also required to wear a Zunnar and were prohibited from wearing Muslim clothes or using saddles.
In one version of the pact, several clauses emphasised the superiority of Muslims, Christians were expected to behave respectfully to them and to give them priority in seating and in road. They were also prohibited from building overtopping those of the Muslims. Other clauses stipulated that while Christians may convert to Islam they were prohibited from proselytising Muslims, learning Arabic, and studying the Quran.
Origin and authenticity
Some modern historians suggest that the document was based on a treaty concluded between Umar ibn Khattab and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius following the capture of Jerusalem by the Rashidun Caliphate.
Despite being attributed to Umar by early Muslim jurists, most modern scholars are of the opinion that the document was either the work of 9th century Mujtahids (Tritton, Antoine Fattal), or was forged during the reign of the Umayyad Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, with other clauses added later (De Goeje, Salo Baron, Norman Stillman and habib zayyat). Other scholars (Bernard Lewis, Albrecht Noth, Mark R. Cohen), concluded that the document may have originated in immediate post-conquest mileu and was stylaised by later historians.
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- Text of one version of the Pact, based on an anonymous class handout at University of Edinburgh in 1979.