Shia view of Umar

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Umar ibn al-Khattab was one of the earliest figures in the history of Islam. While Sunnis regard Umar ibn al-Khattab in high esteem and respect his place as one of the "Four Righteously Guided Caliphs", Shia do not view him as a legitimate leader of the Ummah and believe that Umar and Abu Bakr conspired to usurp power from Ali. Shia believe that the Sunni view of Umar was created by the later Umayyad dynasty to honour the man that gave power to the first Umayyad ruler and third Sunni Caliph, Uthman. In this way, it gives legitimacy to Umar's consultation that started their own dynasty. Shia believe that the Umayyad view was propagated with lethal force and heavy duress and as time went on, that view became predominant and eventually taken as truth, cemented by the works of Bukhari. However, Shi'a believe that despite the perceived white washing of Umar, bits of his true qualities can be found in all sources, including Sunni ones. They also believe that invented positive traits attributed to him do not hold up to closer scrutiny.

Shi'a Biography[edit]

Embracing Islam[edit]

A Sh'ia scholar states:


Hafsa, the daughter of Umar, was originally married to Khunais ibn Hudhaifa. When he died, Umar sought to find a husband for her. He approached his friend Uthman who said "I am of the opinion that I shall not marry at present", after thinking about the proposal for a few days. Umar became angry with Uthman and asked Abu Bakr the same thing. Abu Bakr did not give him a reply, causing Umar to become even more angry with him than he was with Uthman. Umar then preceded to Muhammad to discuss the previous two incidents. Muhammad reassured Umar by saying that "Hafsa will marry one better than Uthman will marry one better than Abu Bakr." Umar was obviously alluding to the fact that Hafsa was to marry Muhammad and that Uthman was to marry a daughter of Muhammad.[2]

Hafsa was married to Muhammad in 625. Muhammad's household was not always peaceful as his wives were in two groups.[3] Umar said on one occasion:

"Hafsa, the news has reached me that you cause Allah's Messenger trouble. You know that Allah's Messenger does not love you, and had I not been (your father) he would have divorced you." (On hearing this) she wept bitterly.[4]

Pen and paper[edit]

Ali Asgher Razwy, a 20th century Shi'a Islamic scholar writes:

After Muhammad[edit]

Shia claim that the despair felt by Umar at the time of Muhammad's death was not genuine, they insist that there was no despair, only threats aimed to delay matters so that his friend and confederate Abu Bakr could return before Ali was confirmed as the successor. As for Ali's allegiance to Abu Bakr's rule, this too was made up to support Abu Bakr's claim to power.[5][6]

Coup d'état[edit]

Ali Asgher Razwy, a 20th century Shi'a Islamic scholar writes:

Abu Bakr's era[edit]

Shi'a view Umar as the "khalifa-maker" of Abu Bakr and that during Abu Bakr's khilafat, Umar was his principal adviser.[1] Ali is quoted saying:

"I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one [Abu Bakr] went his way but handed over the Caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself."

(Then he quoted al-A'sha's verse):[7]

"My days are now passed on the camel's back (in difficulty) while there were days [of ease] when I enjoyed the company of Jabir's brother Hayyan."

(Implying the contrast between the present and the time of Muhammad)

"It is strange that during his [Abu Bakr] lifetime he wished to be released from the caliphate but he confirmed it for the other one [Umar] after his death. No doubt these two shared its udders strictly among themselves".[8]

Umar's Caliphate[edit]

Ali Asgher Razwy, a 20th century Shi'a Twelver Islamic scholar states:

Marriage to Umm Kulthum bint Ali[edit]

The majority of Shi'a's are in agreement that Umm Kulthum, the daughter of the Ali, was not married to Umar.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] One narration concerning the marriage is,

A narration attributed to Ja'far al-Sadiq reports:

When `Omer sought the hand of Umm Kultham for marriage, Ali (A.S.) said, `But she is only a child,’ `Omer said to al-`Abbas, ‘I sought the hand of the daughter of your nephew, and he turned me down. By Allah, I shall damage the well of Zamzam, and I shall leave nothing precious belonging to you except that I ruin it, and I shall get two witnesses to testify that he stole, and I shall cut off his right hand.’ Al-`Abbas came and informed Ali (A.S.) (of what `Omer had said), asking him to let him take care of that matter, which he did

Shi'as tend to view this as Sahih and have included it in Furu al-Kafi.[20]

Ali is further quoted in the same sermon:

"This one [Umar] put the Caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation".[8]


It is recorded in some Shi'a texts that Ali said:

Ali Asgher Razwy, a 20th century Shi'a Islamic scholar writes:


According to one Shi'a text, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir said,

"Abu Bakr and Omar did not repent before they parted the world. In fact, they did not even mention what they had done to Ali. So may Allah, His angels and all of mankind curse them".[21]

Views on the Shi'a view[edit]

Non-Muslim view[edit]

Edward Gibbon, an 18th century non-Muslim Islamic scholar wrote:

And he also writes that Ali...

David Samuel Margoliouth offers this assessment of Umar:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims on
  2. ^ Bukhari 005.059.342 Archived December 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Bukhari 003.047.755 Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Sahih Muslim 009.3507 Archived October 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Did Imam Ali Give Allegiance to Abu Bakr? | Islamic Insights
  6. ^ In the words of Imam Ali himself: Nahjul Balagha Letter 28
  7. ^ al-A`sha's verse
  8. ^ a b c Nahj al-Balagha Sermon 3
  9. ^ Shustari, Qazi Nurullah. Majalis ul-Mo’mineen. pp. 85–89. 
  10. ^ al-Murtaza, Sharif. Al-Shaafi. p. 116. 
  11. ^ Al-Hadid, Hibatullah. Sharh Nahj ul-Balagha. 3. p. 124. 
  12. ^ Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir. Bihar al-Anwar. p. 621. 
  13. ^ Ardabili, Muqaddas. Hadiqat al-Shi’a. p. 277. 
  14. ^ Shustari, Qazi Nurullah. Masa'ib un-Nawasib. p. 170. 
  15. ^ Al-Amili, Zayn al-Din al-Juna'i. "Lawahiq-al-'Aqd". Masalik al-Ifham fi Sharh Shara-il-Islam. 1. 
  16. ^ Qumi, Abbas. Muntahi al-Aamal. 1. p. 186. 
  17. ^ Shahidi, Sayyed Ja'far. Life of Fatemeh Zahra(SA). pp. 263–265. 
  18. ^ Baqir, Muhammad. Mir'at ul-Uqool. 21. p. 199. 
  19. ^ Al-Tusi, Nasir Al-Din. Al-Mabsoot. 4. p. 272. 
  20. ^ Furu al-Kafi, Vol. 5, p. 346, as quoted in Tragedy of al-Zahra
  21. ^ Furu al-Kafi, vol 8, h115
  22. ^ a b The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, section Discord of the Turks and Persians.
  23. ^ Mohammed and the Rise of Islam by David Samuel Margoliouth, pg 164