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 Rashidun Caliph Umar ibn Khattab,[2] other jurists and orientalists have doubted this attribution[1] with the treaty being attributed to 9th century Mujtahids or the Umayyad Caliph Umar II.

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 Caliphate.

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."[3]


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.

Origin and authenticity[edit]

The historical origin of the document may lie in an agreement made between the Muslim conquerors and the Christians of Jazira or Damascus which was later extended to Ahl al-Dhimma elsewhere.[4]

The Pact of Umar was considered a forgery due to reasons pertaining to historical criticism. There were very different accounts of the treaty and very different wording that most early scholars considered them to be false all together.

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.[5]

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".[6]

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”.[7]

Other scholars support the opinion that the document was either the work of 9th century Mujtahids or was forged during the reign of the Umayyad Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, with other clauses added later. Other scholars concluded that the document may have originated in immediate post-conquest milieu and was stylized by later historians.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Abu-Munshar 2007, p. 63.
  2. ^ Thomas & Roggema 2009, p. 360.
  3. ^ Ipgrave, Michael (2009). Justice and Rights: Christian and Muslim Perspectives. Georgetown University Press. p. 58. ISBN 1589017226. 
  4. ^ a b Roggema 2009, p. 361.
  5. ^ Meri 2005, p. 205.
  6. ^ T.W. Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World
  7. ^ 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).