Islam does not subscribe to the infallibility of any man. Even the Messengers and Reformers are not the sons of Allah, nor are they partners in the Divine kingdom. They do not control life, not death; nor resurrection, nor are they immune from the trials and persecutions at the hands of the rebels and transgressors of their times. Weak as human beings are, it is Allah (twa) who chooses and raises His servants from among them and they serve their mandate according to the Divine Will and they move on to the home in the Hereafter when their assigned time is up in this world. In the true conception of the Islamic tradition, a Divine servant being attacked and/or killed at the hands of the enemies- rather than meeting with a natural death- does not cast aspersions on his lofty spiritual mission.
Yet today, a section of the Ahmadi Muslims- the proclaimed followers of the Promised Massih Hadhrat Ahmad (as); the Lahoris and their fellow-travellers and also the new Mujaddid claimants- Abdul Ghaffar Janbah Sahib of Pakistan/Germany and Dr. Nasir Ahmad Sultani Sahib of Pakistan/Sri Lanka - hold the belief that Divinely-appointed Reformers are absolutely immune from life-threatening attacks and/or being killed within a period of 23 years of their spiritual claims. They have tailored their spiritual doctrines to please their nafs’ desire of calumniating Hadhrat Khalifa Sani (ra) of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya¸ who met with such an attack on the fortieth (40th) year of his Khilafat.
The Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam has always responded to the unfortunate insinuations that malign the just reputation of Hadhrat Khalifa Sani (ra). Several articles in the Blog explain and show how the critics are wrong on several grounds of reasoning- Qur’anic insights, sacred prophetic traditions, viewpoint of the Promised Massih (as). These posts can be seen and read here: [ 1; 2; 3;4; 5; 6).
In this article, after noting the murderous attack on Hadhrat Khalifa Sani (ra) and the view of his critics, we discuss the life and times of the universally acknowledged, first Mujaddid of Islam Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (ra). It provides an insightful episode from the Islamic spiritual tradition for those who wish to reflect more profoundly on these matters and correct themselves of the doctrinal mistakes that they commit.
The Attack on Hadhrat Khalifa Sani (ra)
It was on March 10, 1954- exactly, sixty years to this day- that Hadhrat Khalifa Sani (ra) was physically attacked, in a murderous attempt on his life. In the words of Zafrullah Khan (ra), one can read an account of the events:
“Yet, there were those who, through error, bigotry, misunderstanding or sheer perversity entertained bitter hostility towards him and were capable of subjecting him to the most heinous outrages. One day in March 1954 a young man belonging to this last category managed to take his stand in the first line of worshippers immediately behind him, while he was leading the afternoon service in the principal mosque of Rabwah. In the middle of the service he suddenly advanced upon him from his rear and drove the blade of long sharp knife into his neck with murderous force….the injury inflicted… was deep and grievous and had a serious effect on his nervous system… The blade of the knife had penetrated into his neck a distance of four inches and its point had stopped right at the jugular vein… the unanimous conclusion was that the point of the knife had broken at the jugular vein and was embedded in it.
The expert advice was that no attempt should be made to extricate it as the risk to his life involved in any such operation was too serious to be worth taking. He was advised to adopt a restful pattern of life and to avoid hard work and long periods of sustained labour. For a person of his temperament and high capacities this was a disappointing prospect. But there was no help for it. He was still able to carry on a comparatively active life, but the pressure on his nervous system, instead of being eased with the passage of time, tended to be intensified progressively.” (Ahmadiyyat the Renaissance of Islam by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, pp. 331-333)
View of the Critics
According to the critics, Khalifa Sani (ra) met with this murderous attack ten years after making the claim of being the personal fulfilment of the prophecy on Musleh Maoud in Jan 1944. Noting that he died in November 1965-within 23 years after making the claim, these opponents insinuate by interpretation that the severe physical attack on his neck, with the point of the knife being embedded in the jugular vein, is a clear case of Divine chastisement (God forbid) for making what they allege, false claims in the name of God.
Even before his death/during his lifetime, some of the especially hostile critics in the Haqiqqat Passand Party used to shout this argument in Pakistan. Sixty years after the attack, it is apparent from the internet sites of the Lahori sect that their members have inherited and propagate this satanic theory. Even the claimants of Mujaddidiyat in our times- such as Abdul Ghaffar Janbah Sahib and Nasir Ahmad Sultani Sahib- have elevated this claim to the lofty plane of their own ‘truth’ and veracity. As we have shown elsewhere, Janbah Sahib and the others are profoundly mistaken in holding/understanding the real viewpoint of the Promised Massih (as) on the question of 23 years.
Killing of Prophets in the past
An assassination attempt or the ultimate sacrifice of Shahadat or martyrdom visiting a Divine servant had never been looked down upon by the Muslim Ummah. Instead of blaming the victims of physical attack when it occurs, justice and fairness demands that we uphold their dignity. The fair-name and honour of martyrs and the righteous servants need to be defended when they are blamed for what happens to them at the hands of their myopic enemies.
According to the Holy Qur’an, in the past, the rebels and transgressors of the lost generations had made frequent attempts to kill the prophets of their times. And in many cases, people with a Divine Mission had been unjustly killed by these unscrupulous men. (Surah Al Baqarah, 2:62; 88; 92; Surah Aal-e-Imran, 3:22; 113; 145; 182; 184; Surah Al Nisa, 4:156; Surah Al Mai’dah, 5:71).
Murder attempts on Khulafa-ur-Rashidun
An attempt to kill the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) in Madina was made by a Jewess and the Prophet (sa) died while he was still suffering from the after-effects of this attack which took place almost three years before his death. Among the Khulafa-ur-Rashidun, Hadhrat Umar (ra), Hadhrat Usman (ra) and Hadhrat Ali (ra) left the world as a consequence of and due to the evil plots and machinations of the unjust enemies, rather than natural causes of old age.
While the Khulafa-ur-Rashidun did not claim any Divine appointment to their position as successors to the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa), poisoning by unscrupulous opponents and consequent death at a young age did not deter the Ummah from recognizing the lofty spirituality of the First Mujaddid of Islam, Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (ra). Nor the period of 23 years became a barrier for such recognition in his case, who died within the age of Forty (40 years), due to the betrayal of a servant who poisoned his food at the allurement of the enemy.
Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz- First Mujaddid
According to an authentic Ahadith: "Allah shall raise for this Ummah at the head of every century a man who shall renew (or revive) for it its religion."
—Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 37: Kitab al-Malahim [Battles], Hâdith Number 4278
It is reported by Hadhrat Hafiz Jalal-al-Din Suyuti (ra) that Hadhrat Umar ibn 'Abd al Aziz rh claimed to have been the reformer of his age.
According to Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (of Delhi):
“A Mujadid appears at the end of every century: The Mujadid of the 1st century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah, Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. The Mujadid of the 2nd century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah Muhammad Idrees Shaafi the Mujadid of the 3rd century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah Abu Hasan Ashari the Mujadid of the 4th century was Abu Abdullah Hakim Nishapuri.
-Izalat al-Khafa'an Khilafat al-Khulfa lit. 'Removal of Ambiguity about the Caliphate of the [Early] Caliphs'), p. 77 part 7.
Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (ra) was born in 682 CE (CE: Christian Era) and passed away in February 720 CE. He was the eighth Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty to rule over the Muslim empire, reigning from 99 to 101 AH (717-720 CE). He was titled ‘the fifth Rightly-Guided Khalifa’ due to his piety, asceticism, extreme caution on public spending, and for adhering to the way of ruling of the first four Caliphs of Islam. He is also unanimously regarded as the prophesised reviver (Mujaddid) of Islam of the first century.
ʿUmar was born in 63 AH in Madīnah. He was the great grandson of the second ‘Rightly-guided’ Khalifa ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb (ra) through his mother, Umm ʿĀṣim (ra). He spent time as governor of Madīnah before his cousin and predecessor, Caliph Sulaymān ibn ʿAbd Al-Mālik, nominated him as his successor during his final illness in 99 AH.
After reluctantly accepting the Khilafat, Hadhrat Umar became concerned with implementing a number of neglected laws of Islam to rectify the moral state of his subjects. Thus, he enforced the prohibition of the drinking of alcohol, eliminated mixed gender bath houses, and abolished the tax on non-Arab converts to Islam. He also ended the cursing of the fourth ‘Rightly-Guided’ Khalifa ʿAlī (ra) during Friday sermons, commissioned the first compilation of Prophetic traditions, and dealt justly with his governors and subjects. Furthermore, he standardised all weights and measures in the empire, abolished trade embargos, and outlawed unpaid labour.
Despite being the Khalifa, Hadhrat Umar abandoned the luxurious lifestyle of his recent predecessors and instead preferred to embody the lifestyle of the Messenger of Allah (sa) and the ‘Rightly-Guided’ Khulafa. Therefore, he deposited all extra assets of the Khalifa into the public treasury, abandoned the palace of the Khalifa and moved into a modest dwelling, and wore rough clothes rather than royal robes. He exhorted his governors and generals to offer the ritual prayer in a timely manner, to meticulously follow the Islamic regulations, to invite people to Islam, and to be lenient in handing out punishments in the courts. He also called back the Muslim armies that were failing in their bid to conquer Constantinople, and sent messengers to spread Islam in China and Tibet. It was on his invitation that a number of Indian Kings and Berber tribes accepted Islam.
ʿThe Khalifa was also a scholar in his own right, and narrated from fellow Successors such as Abū Bakr ibn ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān and ʿUrwa ibn Al-Zubayr (ra). Those who narrated from him included Abū Salamah ibn ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān, Al-Zuhrī, Ayyūb Al-Sakhtiyānī, and Nāfiʿ (ra).
“I would be delighted if all the non-Muslims converted to Islam and, due to the lack of tax income from converts, we have to take up agriculture to earn a living.”
- Ibn Al-Jawzī, Manāqib ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd Al-ʿAzīz. Berlin, 1900 (p. 64).
“Some people say that Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) will not punish everyone for the wrong actions of a few. However, when the wrong action is committed openly, then they all deserve to be punished.”
- Mālik, Muwatta (Kalām, 23/#1836).
“If we are unable to gain ascendency over our enemies on account of our righteousness, we would never be in a position to defeat them through our military might.”
-Ibn ʿAbd Al-Ḥakam, Sīrāt ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd Al-ʿAzīz. Egypt, 1346 AH (p. 84-87).
“I’ve never seen anyone whose prayer more closely resembles the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) than him.”
-Anas ibn Mālik (ra)
Fatimah, the wife of Umar ibn Abdil Aziz[ra]:
"I never saw anyone that would pray and fast as much as him. Nor did I see anyone that had as much fear of God as him. After Isha he would just sit and cry until sleep would overcome him. And in the middle of the night he would wake up and start crying again until sleep would overcome him. Sometimes he would be in bed and think about a matter to do with the akhirah and start shaking like a bird that shakes off water".
Death caused by Poisoning:
Hadhrat Umar-II was loved by the masses due to his reforms and justice, and by his second year as the Khalifa, there was not anyone in the empire that was poor enough to be eligible to receive the Welfare tax (Zakāt). Thus, his governors began to use that money to emancipate slaves in the empire or return the tax back to the people.
History records that his administrative reforms in favour of the people greatly angered the nobility of the state, and they would eventually bribe a servant into poisoning his food. According to the narratives, Hadhrat Umar (ra) learned of this on his death bed and pardoned the culprit, collecting the punitive payments he was entitled to under Islamic law but depositing them in the public treasury. He died in February 720 (101 AH), probably the 10th and probably forty years old, in Aleppo, Syria. (Inset: Maqbarah) It is reported that death came after he recited a verse of the Holy Qur’an:
"We grant the Home in the Hereafter to those who do not seek superiority on earth or spread corruption: the happy ending is awarded to those who are mindful of God". ( Surah Al-Qasas, 28: 84)
The period of Khilafat was very short- Only three years 99-101 A.H. (717-720 CE). And yet, Hadhrat Umar-II (ra) lives in the collective memory of all believers across the centuries. High spiritual standing, religious scholarship and seminal contribution to the codification of Ahadith, justice and equity-oriented governance, administrative acumen, etc. were some of the abiding features of his Khilafat. He attempted to preserve the integrity of the spiritual tradition by emphasizing religion and a return to the original principles of the faith.
When Khalifa Umar bin Abdul Aziz died, the Roman Emperor is reported to have said:
“I should not be the least surprised if a monk renounces the world and busies himself in worship behind closed doors, but I am simply amazed at this man who has a vast empire at his feet but he rejected it and lived the life of a monk”.
As noted by a Muslim scholar, “Allah appointed him as a Mujaddid before the age of 40 years and he was able to fulfill the Divine mission that he was made responsible for within his short life. May Allah bless his soul”.
In Lieu of Conclusion
The Holy Qur’an expressly states that some of the Divine servants had been killed by their unscrupulous enemies in the past and there were also other cases, whereby attempts to murder them were made by the religious criminals, precisely with the objective of ridiculing their Divine missions. As is apparent from the Qur’an and the Ahadith, attempts were made on the life of the Holy Prophet (sa), including through poisoned food by a Jewess in the final years.
As the Muslim Ummah unanimously and conclusively agree on the Mujaddidiyat of Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (ra) in accordance with the profound view of the Qur’an, one can only conclude that in the matter of the attack on Hadhrat Khalifa Sani (ra), Janbah Sahib and his ilk are inventing their own ‘spin’ by listening to the inclinations of their nafs, if they are not following satanic revelations which insinuate a bad end for a servant of Islam, whereas the Qur'an declares "WAL AAKIBATHU LIL MUTHAQEEN" (28:84).