ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ummayad dirhams issued by Umar Ibn Abd al-Aziz

ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ( Arabic عمر بن عبد العزيز, DMG ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz , also ʿUmar II. Or Omar Ibn Abdel-Aziz ; * approx. 680; † February 720 in Dair Sam'an) was the eighth Caliph of the Umayyad (717-720). He was the son of ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Marwān and Layla bint Assem ibn Umar ibn al-Chattab, granddaughter of the second caliph ʿUmar ibn al-Chattāb (634-644).

Early years

ʿUmar spent his early years in Egypt, where his father ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz was the governor of his brother Marwan I from 686 to 705 . After the death of his father he was called to Damascus by ʿAbd al-Malik and married to his daughter Fātima. Shortly afterwards, ʿAbd al-Malik appointed him governor of Medina . In February / March 706 he took up his new post. His jurisdiction also included the two cities of Mecca and Taif . Little is known about his activities in the city, but it is reported that he sought contact with the Fuqahā ' of Medina from an early age . In the year 707 ʿUmar supervised the construction work on the expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina on behalf of al-Walid I. Because of his well-known gentleness, many Iraqis who had come into conflict with al-Hajjaj ibn Yūsuf fled to the Hejaz . This ultimately also led to the fact that ʿUmar was recalled from office in May / June 712 under pressure from al-Hajjaj.

The following years ʿUmar spent at the Umayyad court in Damascus, where he acted together with the scholar Raja 'ibn Haiwa († 730) as an advisor to his cousin the caliph Sulaimān (715-717). In 716 he accompanied Sulaimān in this capacity on a pilgrimage ( Hajj ) to Mecca. When Sulayman fell ill that same year while preparing for the campaign against Constantinople in northern Syria, Raja 'suggested that the ruler designate not one of his brothers but his cousin Umar as his successor. In expectation that this unusual succession arrangement would evoke ʿAbd al-Malik's opposition among the Umayyads, they were made to swear the oath of allegiance ( baiʿa ) not to ʿUmar, but to his not yet nominated successor. Resistance to this decision was broken only with the promise that after the death of ʿUmar the succession would return to the sons of ʿAbd al-Malik ( Yazid II , Hisham ).


Emperor Leo III. (left) the Byzantine opponent of the caliph Umar II.
Emperor Leo III. was able to stop the onslaught of the troops of the caliphs
Sulaimān and Umar II on Constantinople AD 717-718 with the help of the Greek fire and thus halt the Islamic expansion in Eastern Europe.

Siege of Constantinople (717-718)

ʿUmar's caliphate began in the middle of the war against Byzantium . His predecessor the caliph Sulaimān (715–717) began the second Arab siege of Constantinople in the summer of 717 . Like the first siege of Constantinople (674–678) , however, the war enterprise failed with heavy losses for the Arabs. The extremely capable Byzantine Emperor Leo III. was able to stop the onslaught of the troops of the caliph Sulaimān and his successor ʿUmar on Constantinople with the help of a weapon technology innovation, the Greek fire . Two months after the siege began, Sulaimān died either on September 22 or October 1, 717, and his successors, the Caliph ʿUmar, continued the siege for ten months without success.

For the history of Europe was the defense of Constantinople (717-718) under the leadership of the Byzantine emperor Leo III. of great historical importance. With the almost complete loss of the Arab fleet, the Arabs' maritime domination in the eastern Mediterranean was broken for decades. On the straits between the Black Sea and Aegean Sea, the advance of the Muslims, who at that time controlled over half of the Mediterranean coast, had been halted.

Without the defense of Constantinople, the gate for Islamic expansion into Europe would have been open. The defense of Constantinople (717–718) was of essential importance for the emergence of medieval Europe. The defense of the troops of the caliphs Sulaimān and Umar II. By Emperor Leo III. represents the eastern counterpart to the Battle of Tours and Poitiers in 732 to defend Europe against Islamic expansion.

ʿUmars social and tax reforms

Under ʿUmar's government, administrative reforms were promoted with the aim of alleviating social tensions. He also banned the public vilification of Ali Ibn Abi Talib . He also issued a famous edict named after him that made it clear how Christians and Jews must behave in order not to offend Muslims and their beliefs. Among other things, he made it compulsory for Jews to wear a yellow stain . Jews and Christians were no longer allowed to hold high administrative offices. He had public crosses destroyed. This edict massively demanded the Islamization of society. Not least because of these measures, he is still considered particularly pious from an Islamic point of view.

However, this increased the problem of non-Muslims converting to Islam . This actually had to lead to the elimination of the poll tax that non-Muslims had to pay to the caliphs. The increasing adoption of Islam by the non-Arab population (since the beginning of the 8th century) seriously threatened the financial basis of the caliphate. Under Umar, therefore, it came to the rule that the levied tax relates to the land and not to the people, so that the land once assessed for the tax remains taxable. The problem of equal rights for the new Muslims could of course not be solved with this regulation.

Inheritance and death

ʿUmar had a son named ʿAbd al-Malik, whom he is said to have loved very much. He is said to have a fear of God and a comprehensive education. ʿAbd al-Malik served ʿUmar as an advisor and urged him to implement the reforms he had planned quickly, but he died in Dair Samʿān in 719 at the age of 17. In a letter to his governor in Kufa , ʿUmar forbade anyone holding the mourning for his son, as was customary at the time when rulers and their sons died. He himself died a few weeks later, in February 720, in the same place as his son.

His successor was his cousin Yazid II (720-724) one of the sons of the fifth Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (685-705).


Medieval Muslim scholars narrated a number of letters that ʿUmar II is said to have exchanged with the Basrian preacher al-Hasan al-Basrī during his caliphate .

In addition, fragments from a pseudo-correspondence between ʿUmar and the Byzantine emperor Leo III. receive. This is a remarkable Christian-Muslim polemic that has been handed down from the end of the 10th century. In it, the two universal monarchs, the caliph (ʿUmar II) and the emperor (Leo III), represent their positions on behalf of their religious communities. The anti-Christian pamphlet by a Syrian Muslim was written as a letter from ʿUmars II to Leo III. issued. The Christian answer to this pseudo-caliphate was then given in the name of Leo III. composed. In the pseudo-caliphate letter, which today would be called a Muslim propaganda pamphlet, the Byzantine emperor was not only included as a theological counterpart, but also very cleverly as proof of legitimation for the prophethood of Muhammad . The Byzantine Emperor Herakleios (610-641), for example, abandoned the Shahada after receiving a letter from the Prophet Mohammed and then tried in vain to convince his generals to convert to Islam. Then the emperor bowed to the will of his generals, however, predicted dire consequences for the future fate of the false belief ( Din persisting) Rhomäer .


  • PM Cobb: ʿUmar (II.) B. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition . Volume 10, pp. 821a-822b.
  • Jean-Marie Gaudeul: The Correspondence between Leo and ʿUmar. ʿUmar's Letter rediscovered? In: Islamochristiana 6 (1980), pp. 109-157.
  • HAR Gibb: “The fiscal rescript of 'Umar II.” In Arabica 2 (1955) 1-16.
  • Gerald R. Hawting: The first dynasty of Islam. The Umayyad caliphate AD 661-750 . Croom Helm, London 1986, pp. 76-81.
  • Robert G. Hoyland: The Correspondence of Leo III (717-741) and ʿUmar II (717-720). In: Aram 6 (1994), pp. 165-177.
  • Tobias Mayer: New aspects of the nomination `Umars II. By Sulaiman b. `Abdalmalik (96 / 715-99 / 717). In: Die Welt des Orients 25 (1994), pp. 109–115. ISSN  0043-2547
  • William Muir : The Caliphate, its rise, decline and fall; from original sources. New and rev. ed., repr. Grant, Edinburgh 1924, pp. 369-374 ( digitized version ).
  • Julius Wellhausen : The Arab Empire and its fall . Reimer, Berlin 1902, pp. 166-194 ( digitized version ).


  1. See Cobb 821b, Hawting 72.
  2. Decree of the caliph Sulaimān from the year 717: In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate. This letter from the servant of God Sulaimān, commander of the believers, is addressed to ʿUmar, son of ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. I installed you as my successor in the caliphate and as your successor Yazīd, son of ʿAbd al-Malik [...] see also: Almut Höfert: Empire and Caliphate: Imperial Monotheism in the Early and High Middle Ages. Campus Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-593-50283-0 , p. 261.
  3. Cf. Ibn Raǧab : Sīrat ʿAbd al-Malik ibn ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz . Ed. ʿIffat Wiṣāl Ḥamza. Dār Ibn Ḥazm, Beirut, 1993, p. 76.
  4. Cf. Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Saʿīd aš-Šammāḫī: Kitāb as-Siyar . Ed. Muḥammad Ḥasan. 3 volumes Dār al-Madār al-Islāmī, Bairūt, 2009. Volume I, p. 192.
  5. See Muir: The Caliphate . 1924, p. 374.
  6. Cf. Ibn Raǧab: Sīrat ʿAbd al-Malik ibn ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz . 1993, p. 70.
  7. See Suleiman Ali Mourad: Early Islam between Myth and History. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d.110H / 728CE) and the Formation of his Legacy in Classical Islamic Scholarship. Leiden: Brill 2006, pp. 121-139.
  8. See Gaudeul and Hoyland.
  9. Almut Höfert: Empire and Caliphate: Imperial Monotheism in the Early and High Middle Ages. Frankfurt / New York 2015, ISBN 978-3-593-50283-0 , pp. 296-297.
  10. Cf. on this Barbara Roggema: The Legend of Sergius Baḥīrā. Eastern Christian Apologetics and Apocalyptic in Response to Islam. Brill, Leiden 2009, p. 153.
predecessor Office successor
Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik Umayyad Caliph
Yazid II.