Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: October 2009

2 - 'Umar: Commander of the Faithful, Islamic meritocracy, consultation and Arab empire


The privileged position of ruling the Islamic state which Abū Bakr had allotted Quraysh had no foundation in the Qur'ān. In the early Mekkan Sūra (CVI) addressed to them, the Quraysh were pointedly admonished to serve the Lord of the Ka'ba in gratitude for the prosperity and safety He had granted them. During most of Muḥammad's mission, the majority of Quraysh in Mekka were his staunchest opponents, the unbelievers (kuffār) and polytheists (mushrikūn) unequivocally condemned by the Holy Book. The Muhājirūn, those who left their homes to join Muḥammad in Medina in support of the cause of Islam, were greatly praised in the Qur'ān, given hope for God's mercy (II 218), and promised reward on earth and in the hereafter (XVI 41). By Muhājirūn the Qur'ān, however, meant not only the Mekkan, Qurayshite emigrants, but equally bedouin tribesmen and others who joined the Prophet from all over Arabia. Although more often mentioned in the Qur'ān than the Anṣār, the Muhājirūn were put strictly on a par with them (VIII 72–4, IX 100, 117) and nowhere were they given a preferred rank above them. The poor of the Muhājirūn were granted a share of the estates of the Banu l-Naḍīr on the grounds that they had been expelled from their homes and property, not because they stood higher in merit than the Anṣār (LIX 8–9).

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Succession to Muhammad
  • Online ISBN: 9780511582042
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *