Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3, 644 (65 AH) – Caliph Omar Stabbed Five Times

The Muslim Caliphate had grown by leaps since its creation twelve years before at the Prophet’s death. Omar, a Muhajir (Emigrant), had helped create the political structure after the funeral of Muhammad. The Ansar (native helpers) planned to control the Muslim world themselves rather than letting foreigners rule, but Omar’s politicking brought about disputes between the tribes, sparking scapegoatism and civil war that led to strong unification under the Caliph Abu Bakr. His reign would be two short years, during which Omar would serve as an adviser, recommending the writing of the Quran to ensure battled did not kill all memorizers of the word.

In 634, Omar, soon to become known as Farooq the Great, was selected as the caliph to succeed Abu Bakr. He was a capable but very strict ruler, using harsh punishment for those refusing to support him. While many of political importance did not agree with him, they at least acknowledged with his skills as a legislator and reformer. Omar directed the growing nation through the famines and plagues of 638-9, expelled the Christians and Jews, and systematically conquered the Sassanid Empire. His brutality during the conquest and treatment of slaves afterward resulted in a new resurgence of distaste for the caliph.

Using propaganda for legitimacy, the Persians planned assassination as retaliation. In 644, Omar went for his Hajj to Mecca upon prophecies of never again seeing Mount Arafat and being hit with a rock during the ritual of Stoning the Devil. On November 3, Abu Lulu, who had faced the caliph due to tax issues, attacked with a knife, stabbing five times. He made for a sixth stab, but Omar’s hand caught the blade and wrung it out of Abu Lulu’s grip with much damage to his fingers. The assassin made to escape, but he was reportedly ripped apart by the hands of the crowd.

Over the next week, Omar would regain his strength. Seeing the damage done by his political enemies, he went on a new program of propaganda, investigation, exile, and execution to secure his place. Many of his allies disapproved of his position in what many considered a coup d’état against the Prophet’s daughter Fatima. Through spies and torture, Omar determined who was truly loyal, and those that disagreed with his position were eliminated. Civil war broke out as a coup was attempted against him, but Omar was able to secure overwhelming support from the Bedouin tribes.

Omar the One-handed would spend the last of his reign planning further expansion. While he did not live to see his plans come to fruition, he did lay the groundwork for the conquest of the Byzantine Romans in 678 under the fourth caliph. Islam came to rule the center of the world, controlling vast trade routes and influencing cultures in every direction. While Viking pirates gave the Caliphate great trouble through the next centuries, the eventual religious conquest of Scandinavia would give great seafaring and exploration to the Muslim world. Additional military skills would be brought in upon the proselytization of much of the Mongol Horde.

Upon the discovery of the New World across the western Ocean, the Caliphate would come into a new golden age funded by gold secured in conquest from the natives. Muslim firearms and armor proved overwhelming to sun-worshiping, human sacrificing Inca and Mayans who wielded obsidian blades. The infidels faced plagues that served as a proving force that God was on the side of conquest. Using the wealth to invest in art and science, the Caliphate would spend the second millennium conquering eastward, unifying the world under Allah at Mecca. While pockets of dissidence are known to spring forth against the Caliph, they have always been dealt with in the manner that Omar would find most expedient.

In reality, Omar was stabbed six times, the last being in the navel and would prove the lethal blow. He would die of his wounds on November 7, leaving behind a six-man committee to determine the third caliph. Separation between the Muslims would grow over the course of time between Shi’ite and Sunni upon the question of the proper succession to Muhammad, a distinction that continues to this day.

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