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OMAR I. (IBN AL-KHAṬṬAB):

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Second calif; succeeded Abu Bakr in 634 C.E.; assassinatedin 644. Omar I. was the great champion and organizer of Islam, and through his force of character and his influence over Mohammed and Abu Bakr he ruled long before he actually became calif. During his califate Syria, Persia, and Egypt were brought under Arabic dominion, and the government of Islam reached a higher degree of organization. Omar instituted the divan, a department of the exchequer in which exact lists were kept of all Arabs who shared in the division of spoils, and strict record was made of all revenue—from conquests, taxes, tithes, etc. It was Omar also who instituted the system of dating from the Hegira.

Ordinance of Omar.

Omar's name is associated with an ordinance which has had an important part in the history of the Jews in Mohammedan countries. This ordinance provided that Jews and Christians were to be distinguished from Mohammedans by certain peculiarities of dress; they might not ride on horseback nor hold state positions. They were required to pay a head-tax and a land-tax and were obliged to entertain any traveling Moslem for three days. They might not build any new churches or synagogues. A Moslem might enter a church or synagogue whenever he pleased, but a Jew or Christian might not similarly enter a mosque. On festival days neither Jews nor Christians might have processions. Their graves were to be level with the ground, and they were to pray silently for their dead; never might they sing aloud.

It is probable that not all these provisions were made by Omar himself, and it is certain that they were not strictly enforced during his reign. They were, however, enforced at different times and are in the main in effect to-day in Mohammedan countries. Omar expelled the Christians from Nejran and the Jews from Khaibar because, he said, Mohammed wished to have only one religion in Arabia. It is also stated that after the conquest of Jerusalem—which surrendered only to Omar in person—Omar, in agreement with the wishes of the patriarch Sophronius, drove the Jews out of Jerusalem, and that he afterward expelled them from Tiberias; there seems, however, to be little ground for this story (Grätz, "Gesch." 3d ed., v. 111).

Bibliography:
  • D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, vol. iv., Paris, 1789;
  • Hughes, Dictionary of Islam;
  • W. Muir, Annals of the Early Caliphate, London, 1883;
  • A. Sprenger, Leben und Lehre des Mohammad, Berlin, 1869;
  • Tabari, Chronique (transl. by Zotenberg, Paris, 1867-74);
  • G. Weil, Gesch. der Chaliphen, Mannheim and Stuttgart, 1846 and 1862.
J. M. W. M.
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