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Monday, September 5, 2011

Caliph Umar’s Peaceful Entry to Jerusalem 14 Centuries Ago

                                              
Caliph Umar's peaceful entry to Jerusalem 14 centuries ago
 
 By Latheef Farook

During the period of the Second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab, the Muslim forces, under the command of Abu Ubaydah, lay siege to Jerusalem after capturing Damascus in the Battle of Yarmuk. The Patriarch of the city, Sophronius, stated that he would negotiate only with Caliph Umar and that nobody enters Jerusalem before Caliph Umar. On hearing this Caliph Umar informed that he was on his way.
Accompanied by a servant, Caliph Umar rode on camelback to Jerusalem though he could have been accompanied by an entourage that could have made the ground tremble under the hooves of horses. He did so to show simplicity and ensure that Allah alone deserves all the glories.
On reaching Jerusalem, it was the servant's turn to ride the camel and as a mark of respect and to ensure that the people see Caliph Umar, he wanted the Caliph to ride the camel. However Caliph Umar refused and entered Jerusalem on foot while the servant rode the camel to the shock and surprise of everyone including Patriarch Sophronius. On reaching the place Caliph Umar continued the journey on foot carrying his shoes in hand under the astonished gaze of the people.
The Muslims who saw this spectacle recited the short prayers that refer to Allah's absolute greatness and uniqueness. Caliph Umar walked to the army wearing modest threadbare clothes. The Christians who watched everything from the walls of Jerusalem were amazed at the strange simplicity, unable to believe that this simple man could be the leader of those well equipped armies.
 
Abu Ubaidah who could not contain himself on seeing this unprecedented show of humility rushed to Umar's side saying" today you have performed a magnificent deed before the people, perhaps you might….? Umar slapped him on the chest and criticized him saying "I wish someone other than you, Abu Ubaydah, had said this. We were a humiliated people and Allah honored us with Islam. We were weak and He gave us strength".

The Patriarch who saw the unfolding scenes with great admiration said to his people that nobody in the world would be able to stand up to these people and advised them to surrender to be saved. Negotiation took place and a famous treaty called 'Umariyya Covenant" was concluded .This treaty is still preserved in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Christians requested that Jews, who were not there before the conquest, be forbidden to enter Jerusalem and Umar accepted. Yet on his part Umar offered members of all faiths safety in Jerusalem and protection for their beliefs and their holy places, forbidding them to be desecrated or destroyed.
After the treaty was signed the key to the city was formally handed over in 637 AD. The gates of Jerusalem were opened and Caliph Umar entered along a promenade that led him to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Caliph Umar was inside and the Patriarch said to him "pray". However Caliph Umar declined, fearing it might establish a precedent that would threaten the church's continued use as a Christian house of worship. Instead he prayed in an area to the south of the church, now the site of the Mosque of Umar in Jerusalem.
In doing so Caliph Umar showed the world the meaning of tolerance and generosity in victory and strength. It was the greatness of Islam that shone in his spirit and was reflected in his ethics though he was a person known for his firmness and courage. 
Caliph Umar then asked to be taken to the site of Masjid Al Aqsa.He could not find, but patriarch showed him the way.
Masjid Al AQsa
On arrival, accompanied by hundreds of Muslims, he found the area covered in dust and debris. He rolled up his sleeves and began sweeping and clearing the mosque immediately. On seeing this other Muslims including army generals and soldiers joined him in cleaning the place. Once cleaned up Caliph Umar took off his cloak, prayed and left there. It was the first prayer of Muslims in the Masjid Al Aqsa after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Caliph Umar immediately ordered the restoration of the mosque. A huge timber mosque, Masjid Al Marwani, with a capacity to accommodate 3000 worshippers was erected on this site at the southernmost wall of the Noble Sanctuary. They then started praying in this holy place. This was the most peaceful manner Jerusalem was conquered and great status of this mosque was restored. 
Under Caliph Umar's generosity those who wanted to leave were allowed to do so with all their possessions while others who opted to stay were guaranteed protection for their lives, property and places of worship. Later Caliph Umar reversed the four hundred year Christian ban on Jews, allowed them to return to Jerusalem and granted Christians free use of their holy sites .Thus he turned Jerusalem into a city where Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived in tolerance, peace and harmony.
 
1-Dome of the Rock which the Western media always portrays as Masjid Al Aqsa to mislead the world
2-Close up of the rock from where Prophet    Muhammad( PBUH) ascended to heaven.
This opened the doors to the Jews who were denied access to Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim rule of Jerusalem, from 637 to 1917 except for two relatively short periods, Jerusalem maintained its rightful title of 'The Holy City'.   
Under Muslim rule there were no massacres, no burning and looting and no desecration of holy places unlike being committed now by the Zionist Jews. The only conflict that marred the peace of the city was the conflict between various Christian sects for control of the Christian holy sites, but Muslims were generally successful in keeping them from violent confrontations.  
This opened the doors to the Jews who were denied access to Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim rule of Jerusalem, from 637 to 1917 except for two relatively short periods, Jerusalem maintained its rightful title of 'The Holy City'.    
Instead when Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders in the year 1099 the invaders went into the city with all the barbarity. They slaughtered people without any discrimination- young and the aged, men and women and healthy and the sick. Most of the people took refuge in the masjid of Jerusalem which was filled with around 100,000 people. The crusader governor found no better chance to   behead them and got them slaughtered. Ends