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Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was an Umayyad caliph. He is a matrilineal great-grandson of the second caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab may Allah be pleased with him. He is a great ruler and considered one of the finest rulers in Muslim history. In fact, he's referred to, by most Scholars, as the fifth of Rashidun Caliphs, second only to the four rightly guided caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali- may Allah be pleased with them all.  He died in February 720, probably forty years old in Aleppo.

 

Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz ruled as a Caliph for only 30 months but during this short period he made a considerable progress in most aspects, one of which was the aspect of knowledge.  This may explain his interest in seeking knowledge. Growing up, he received his education in Madinah from thirty-three of great scholars of that time; eight of them were of the Companions and twenty-five were of the senior followers. The clear evidence of his great knowledge can be seen in the books of Sunnah and Fiqh where his opinions, sayings, or judgements are mentioned in most issues; He himself was a great scholar and through his personal example, he inculcated piety, steadfastness, business ethics and moral rectitude in the general population.

 

After being nominated a caliph, he tried to invest his efforts in raising the level of science and spreading it among people. In fact, Umar did not lead himself seminars to give lessons, nor he convened councils to issue fatwas or sciences of Fiqh; his insight extended far beyond that. His influential efforts in this is reflected in two things:

 

-The first official collection of the Prophet Muhammad's hadith

Umar was keen to write science. He used to advise people saying, "O people, save the blessings by thanking God, and save science by writing it down." Not only did Umar issued this general guidance, but sought to issue orders to some of the scholars - including: Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm and Ibn Shihab Al-Zuhri - to compile all the Sunan and hadiths of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, fearing that some of them might be lost.  Moreover, he personally confirmed the validity of the hadiths; so he shared the scholars' discussion of some of what they had compiled to make sure. After collecting the hadiths in many books, Umar ordered them to be copied in several copies, and then sent to each country to be a reliable reference.

 

- Sending scientists and scholars to teach and educate people

Since enabling people to access knowledge fall within the ruler's duties, Umar did not waste any effort to carry out this burden to the fullest. So, he sent the best scholars to various places, even to Bedouins in deserts, To spread knowledge and religion among its peoples.

 

He sent Imam Mufti "Nafi" who was called the " the scholar of Madinah" to Egypt, and sent ten of Egyptian scholars to Africa to teach and educate their people, and spread among them the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him. As for the Hijaz, Al-Sham and Iraq, they were the centers of science, therefore, he did not send them scholars. Rather, he sent them to places where the level of education was poor.

 

He also sent books to the Islamic imams in his great state, teaching them the Sunan and Fiqh, and enjoining upon them to revive the Sunan of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions, to adhere to Shari'ah, and to leave what was contrary to it. The books were directed to the governors and princes to learn from them and, in turn, spread knowledge among their people.

 

He has worked to overcome difficulties for scientists and students seeking science. Therefore, he offered stipends to teachers, and ensured for them and their families a dignified life guaranteed by the state if they devoted themselves in teaching people.  Thus, he raised the standard of education and encouraged anyone had the possibility of spreading science and serving the religion and the nation.

May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace and award him the best place in Paradise.

 

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