The Pact of Umar: Who wrote it?
The pact of Umar is an “agreement” between the Christians of Syria who fell under the occupation of the Muslim invaders, led by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab the second successor (khalifa) of Muhammad.
In this pact, Umar agreed to allow the Christians to keep practicing their faith with several conditions. Muslims claim that this pact shows how tolerant Islam was in dealing with non-Muslims in newly invaded territories.
Contrary to that claim, this pact was very humiliating to Christians, clearly showing how arrogant and oppressive the Muslims were in dealing with non-Muslims who fell under their rule. Although the pact was written to seem like the Christians themselves had drafted it, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the terms were actually dictated on them!
Sadly, there are some naïve Christians who reiterate the Muslims’ propaganda without ever bothering to read the details of the pact. In fact, some Christians are so stupid that they brag about it more than the Muslims do! A recently elected Christian Orthodox patriarch praised the pact in his speech during a reception held in his honor in Jordan!
The “Pact of Umar” reflects the general teaching of Islam concerning non-Muslims, and accordingly, millions of Christians continue to live as second class citizens in Islamic countries.
The following is a translation of the pact:
The Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule
We heard from ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ghanam [died in year 78 H. 697 AD.] as follows: When Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of Allah Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:
We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks’ cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.
We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.
We shall not teach the Qur’an to our children.
We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.
We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.
We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear.
We shall not adopt their kunyas.(the use of their epithets)
We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our- persons.
We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.
We shall not sell fermented drinks.
We shall clip the fronts of our heads.
We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the belts round our waists.
We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices in our churches in any manner offending the honor of the Muslims.
We shall not parade carrying our palm branches [on Palm Sunday] or hold in public our Ba’ooth [Easter Monday’s prayer]
We shall not raise our voices at the burial of our dead.
We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets. We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.
We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.
We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.
(When I brought the letter to Umar, he added, “And we shall not strike a Muslim. We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct.
If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition.
Umar Ibn Al-Khittab replied: Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are: “They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims,” and “Whoever strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this pact.”
From Al-Turtushi’s book, Siraj al-Muluk.