Pact of Umar

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Not to be confused with Umar's Assurance of safety to the people of Aelia, known as al-ʿUhda al-ʿUmariyya.

Pact of Umar (also known as: Covenant of Umar, Treaty of Umar or The laws of Umar; In Arabic: Arabic: شروط عمر‎ or عهد عمر or عقد عمر), is an apocryphal treaty between the Muslims and Christians of Syria that later gained a canonical status in Islamic jurisprudence. There are several versions of the pact, differing both in structure and stipulations.[1] While the pact is traditionally attributed to the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab,[2] some early jurists and orientalists have doubted this attribution.[1]

The Pact of Umar sets a different laws set for the different non-Muslim residents (Christians, Zoroastrian, Jews, Samaritans and pagans), who were under the rule of the Muslim empire. The document was intended to regulate the relationships status between Muslims and non-Muslims (dhimmis -أهل الذمة). Some of the pact of Umar were applied from time to time, even in the 1900s and today partly by Islamic leaderships, like in Iran, Iraq, Saudi-Arabia, Yemen, Syria.[3]

In general, the pact contains a list of rights of non-Muslims (dhimmis). By abiding to them, non-Muslims are granted security of their persons, their families, and their possessions. Other rights and stipulations may also apply. According to Ibn Taymiyya, one of the jurists who accepted the authenticity of the pact, the dhimmis have the right "to free themselves from the Covenant of 'Umar and claim equal status with the Muslims if they enlisted in the army of the state and fought alongside the Muslims in battle."[4]


Several versions of the pact exist, with differences and similarities in literary structure and words used, in addition to which stipulations are included.[1] Part of the versions of pact Mention only Christians, but it applies to all non-Muslims.

The Points: [5] [6] [7][8][9] [10]

  • The ruler would provide security for the Christian believers who would follow the rules of the pact.
  • Prohibition to build new churches, places of worship, monasteries, monks or a new cell. Hence also forbidden to build new synagogues, although it is known that new synagogues were built after the occupation of the Islam, for example in Jerusalem and Ramle. The law that prohibits to build new synagogues was not new for the Jews, it was applied also during the Byzantines. It was new for the Christians.
  • Prohibition to rebuild destroyed churches, by day or night, in their own neighborhoods or those situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
  • Prohibition to hang a cross on the Churches.
  • Muslims should be allowed to enter Churches (for shelter) in any time, both in day and night.
  • Prohibition to call the prayer by a bell or a some kind of a Gong (Nakos).
  • Prohibition of Christians and Jews, to raise their voices at prayers time.
  • Prohibition to teach non-Muslim children the Qur'an.
  • Christians were forbidden to show their religion in public, prohibition to be shown with Christian books or symbols in public, on the roads or in the markets of the Muslims.
  • Palm Sunday and Easter parades were banned.
  • Funerals should be conducted in quiet.
  • Prohibition to bury non-Muslim dead near Muslims.
  • Prohibition to raise a pig next to a Muslims neighbor.
  • Christian were forbid to sale Muslims alcoholic beverage.
  • Christians were forbid to provide cover or shelter for spies.
  • Prohibition to tell a lie about Muslims.
  • Obligation to show deference toward Muslims. If they wish to sit, Non-Muslim sould be rise from his seats and let the Muslim sit.
  • Prohibition to preach Muslim to conversion out of Islam.
  • Prohibition to prevent the conversion to Islam of some one who wants to convert.
  • The appearance of the non-Muslims have to be different from those of the Muslims: Prohibition to wear Qalansuwa (kind of dome that was used to wear by Bedouin), Bedouin turban (Amamh), Muslims shoes, and Sash to their waists. As to their heads, it was forbidden to Comb the hair sidewise as the Muslim custom, and they were forced to cut the hair in the front of the head. Also non-Muslim shall not imitate the Arab-Muslim way of speech nor shall adopt the kunyas (Arabic byname, such as "abu Khattib").
  • Obligation to identify non-Muslims as such by clipping the heads forelocks and by always dress in the same manner, wherever they go, with binding the zunar (a kind of belt) around the waists. Christians to wear blue belts or turbans, Jews to wear yellow belts or turbans, Zoroastrians to wear black belts or turbans, and Samaritans to wear red belts or turbans.
  • Prohibition to ride animals as the Muslim custom, and prohibition to ride with a saddle.
  • Prohibition to adoption a Muslim title of honor.
  • Prohibition to engrave Arabic inscriptions on signet seals.
  • Prohibiting of any possession of weapons.
  • Prohibition of teaching children the Koran.
  • Non-Muslims must host a Muslim passerby for at leat 3 days and feed him.
  • Non-Muslims Prohibited from buying a Muslim prisoner.
  • Prohibition to take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.
  • Prohibition for non-Muslims to Lead, govern or employ Muslims.
  • If Non-Muslims beats Muslim - his Dhimmi is been removed.
  • The worship places of non-Muslims must be lower than the lowest mosque in toun.
  • The houses of non-Muslims must not be taller elevation than the houses of Muslims.
  • Prohibition to bild houses of the non-Muslims must be low in a way that each time that they would enter or exit their houses they would have to bend, in a way that it would remined them their low status in the world.

Origin and authenticity[edit]

The historical origin of the document may lie an agreement made between the Muslim conquerors and the Christians of Jazira or Damascus which was later extended to Ahl al-Dhimma elsewhere.[5]

Some Western historians suggest that the document was based on Umar's Assurance, a treaty concluded between Umar ibn Khattab and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius following the capture of Jerusalem by the Rashidun Caliphate.[6]

Western scholars' opinions varied about the Pact's Authenticity, Prof. Thomas Walker Arnold in his book states that "It is in harmony with the same spirit of kindly consideration for his subjects of another faith, that ‘Umar is recorded to have ordered an allowance of money and food to be made to some Christian lepers, apparently out of the public funds. Even in his last testament, in which he enjoins on his successor the duties of his high office, he remembers the dhimmis (or protected persons of other faiths): "I comment to his care the dhimmis, who enjoy the protection of God and of the Prophet; let him see to it that the covenant with them is kept, and that no greater burdens than they can bear are laid upon them".[11]

He continues:

"A later generation attributed to ‘Umar a number of restrictive regulations which hampered the Christians in the free exercise of their religion, but De Goeje and Caetani have proved without doubt that they are the invention of a later age; as, however, Muslim theologians of less tolerant periods accepted these ordinaces as genuine, they are of the importance for forming a judgement as to the condition of the Christian Churches under Muslim rule. This so-called ordinace of ‘Umar runs as follows: “In the name of God………. you are at liberty to treat us as enemies and rebels”.[12]

Other scholars support 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 milieu and was stylized by later historians.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Abu-Munshar 2007, p. 63.
  2. ^ Thomas & Roggema 2009, p. 360.
  3. ^ The Jews of Iran in the nineteenth century [electronic resource] : aspects of history, community, and culture / by David Yeroushalmi. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2009.
  4. ^ Ipgrave, Michael (2009). Justice and Rights: Christian and Muslim Perspectives. Georgetown University Press. p. 58. ISBN 1589017226. 
  5. ^ a b c Roggema 2009, p. 361.
  6. ^ a b Meri 2005, p. 205.
  7. ^ al Turtushi, Siraj al Muluk, Cairo 1872, pp 229-230.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ The Jews of Iran in the nineteenth century [electronic resource] : aspects of history, community, and culture / by David Yeroushalmi. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2009.
  11. ^ T.W. Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World
  12. ^ T.W. Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World


External links[edit]

  • [1] Text of one version of the Pact, original text, commentary and translation by Ahmed Oulddali (2012).