Umar (Arabic: عمر بن الخطاب; Transliteration: `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, c. 586-590 CE – 7 November 644), also known as Umar the Great or Farooq the Great was the most powerful of the four Rashidun Caliphs and one of the most powerful and influential Muslim rulers. He was a sahabi (companion) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He succeeded Caliph Abu Bakr (632–634) as the second Caliph of Rashidun Caliphate on 23 August 634. He was an expert jurist and is best known for his justice, that earned him the title Al-Farooq (The one who distinguishes between right and wrong) and his house as Darul Adal (house of justice). Also, Umar was the first Caliph to be called Amir al-Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful or Prince of the Believers).
Under Umar the Islamic empire expanded at an unprecedented rate ruling the whole Sassanid Persian Empire and more than two thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. His legislative abilities, his firm political and administrative control over a rapidly expanding empire and his brilliantly coordinated multi-prong attacks against Sassanid Persian Empire that resulted in conquest of Persian empire in less than two years, marked his reputation as a great political and military leader. It was Umar who for the first time in 500 years since expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land, allowed them to practice their religion freely and live in Jerusalem.
Religiously a controversial figure in the Muslim world, Umar is regarded by Sunni Muslims as one of four Rashidun or rightly guided caliphs who were true successors of Muhammad; in stark contrast, regarded by Shi'a Muslims as unjust in his usurpation of Ali's right to the caliphate, indeed as the principal political architect of opposition to Ali.
Umar was born in Mecca to the Banu Adi clan, which was responsible for arbitrations among the tribes. His father was Khattab ibn Nufayl and his mother was Hatmah bint Hasham, from the tribe of Banu Makhzum. He is said to have belonged to a middle class family. In his youth he used to tend to his father’s camels in the plains near Mecca. His father was famed for his intelligence among his tribe. He was a middle class merchant and is believed to be a ruthless man and emotional polytheist who often treated Umar badly. As obvious from Umar's own statement regarding his father during his later political rule, Umar said, "My father Al-Khittab was a ruthless man. He used to make me work hard; if I didn't work he used to beat me and he used to work me to exhaustion."
Despite literacy being uncommon in pre-Islamic Arabia, Umar learned to read and write in his youth. Though not a poet himself, he developed a love for poetry and literature. According to the tradition of Quraish, while still in his teenage years, Umar learned martial arts, horse riding and wrestling. He was tall and physically powerful and was soon to became a renowned wrestler. Umar was also a gifted orator, and due to his intelligence and overwhelming personality, he succeeded his father as an arbitrator of conflicts among the tribes.
In addition, Umar followed the traditional profession of Quraish. He became a merchant and had several journeys to Rome and Persia, where he is said to have met the various scholars and analyzed the Roman and Persian societies closely. However, as a merchant he is believed to have never been successful. Drinking alcohol was very common among the Quraish, and Umar was also fond of drinking in his pre-Islamic days.
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