Syria Islamic History

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The Umayyad Mosque (Syria Islamic History)

The Umayyad Mosque (or Masjid), also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. This is the first monumental work of architecture in the history of Islam.

The place where the mosque is now located was originally a temple dedicated to the idol Hadad in the era of Aramaic people about 3000 years ago. When the Romans ruled Damascus, a temple was built to worship Jupiter. It then became a Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist in the Byzantine era at the end of the fourth century.

Exterior of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: gmiah.hubpages.com
Exterior of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: gmiah.hubpages.com

After the battle of Yarmuk in 636, Damascus was conquered by Muslims under the leadership of Khalid-bin-Walid (may Allah be pleased with him). Muslims divided the church building with Christians for worship. Muslims prayed in the eastern part of the building, and Christians - in the western.

This collective use continued until the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I, when the place for prayer became inadequate in terms of both the possibilities and the need to create an architectural monument to represent the new religion. The Caliph negotiated with Christian leaders to take a seat, and in return, al-Walid promised that all other churches around the city would be safe, with the addition of a new church dedicated to the Virgin Mary provided to Christians as compensation. The church was bought from Christians before it was destroyed, and between 706 and 715 AD in its place was built the current mosque.

Prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: A. Shamandour
Prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: A. Shamandour

The construction of the mosque was based on the mosque of the Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) in Medina, which had many functions: it was a place for personal and collective prayer, religious education, political gatherings, justice and helping the sick and left homeless. The Caliph asked and received from the emperor of Byzantium 200 skilled workers to decorate a mosque, as evidenced in part by the Byzantine style of the building. The new mosque was the most impressive in the Islamic world at that time, and the inner walls were covered with beautiful mosaics. The building was one of the wonders of the world, because it was one of the largest in its time. The outer walls were built on the walls of the Temple of Jupiter and measure 100 by 157.5 m.

The mimbar (pulpit) and mihrab (prayer niche) – Photo: afghan.delcity91.com
The mimbar (pulpit) and mihrab (prayer niche) – Photo: afghan.delcity91.com

The Umayyad Mosque is of particular importance to Shiite Muslims, as it is the destination of the descendants of the Prophet (ﷺ) who were forced to come here from Iraq after the Battle of Karbala.

The prayer hall consists of three passages supported by columns in the Corinthian order. It was one of the first mosques (the other is the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem), which had this form, and so visitors could easily see the mihrab, the alcove indicating the direction of Mecca, and each other.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II visited the mosque, primarily to visit the relics of John the Baptist. This was the first time a dad visited a mosque.

References: Wikipedia, Archnet.org SOURCE

Tomb of Salahuddin ayubi (Syria Islamic History)

In the green tomb on the right is the tomb of Salahuddin Ayyubi, the great commander who repulsed the crusaders from the Horn of Hattin in northern Palestine and seized Jerusalem for Muslims on October 2, 1187 CE. On the left is an empty marble sarcophagus, presented to the mausoleum by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

The Tomb of Salahuddin (right) – Photo: M Munzer Aragi (Panaramio)
The Tomb of Salahuddin (right) – Photo: M Munzer Aragi (Panaramio)

Salahuddin Ayyubi’s real name was Yusuf ibn Ayub, the title of Salahuddin, which he received thanks to his exceptional qualities, means “Righteousness of Faith”. He was born in Tikrit, in modern central Iraq, his family was of Kurdish descent and ancestry. From 1187 to 1189 Salahuddin Ayyubi took 50 locks of the Crusaders and most of the kingdom of the Crusaders. However, even his enemies considered him chivalrous and noble. During the siege of Kerak Castle, he refused to bombard the tower, which was a couple of honeymoon.

Bacha ad-Din, one of the officials of Salahuddin, wrote: “... Everyone who appeared before him was treated with honor, even the wrong one ... As soon as a Frankish prisoner appeared before him, in which the sultan caused such fear that The agitations were visible in his face. The translator asked him: “What are you afraid of?” God inspired him to answer: “At first I was afraid to see this face, but, seeing him and standing in his presence, I am sure that I will see only good things in it. “The Sultan was touched, forgiven him and released to freedom ...”

The inscription on the Tomb of Salahuddin – Photo: beautyOfislam (Instagram)
The inscription on the Tomb of Salahuddin – Photo: beautyOfislam (Instagram)

He and Richard (The Lionheart) began to respect each other as military leaders. When Salahuddin Ayubi heard that Richard fell ill in Ascalon, he sent peaches and pears to help restore his health. He also sent packs of snow from Mount Hermann to cool the king's fever. In Arsuf, when Richard lost his horse, Salahuddin sent him two replacements. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides was one of the personal physicians of Salahuddin Ayoubi. When Jerusalem was returned, Salahuddin invited the Jews, who were excluded by the Crusaders, to return, in particular, the Jews of Ashkelon answered his request. Salahuddin died of fever on March 4, 1193 in Damascus, shortly after Richard left. Since Salahuddin gave most of his money to charity, when they opened his treasury, they found that there was not enough money for his funeral.

References: Crusades – (Chris and Melanie Rice), A history of Jerusalem – Karen Armstrong, The Crusades – Christine Hatt, Wikipedia

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The grave of Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him)

This is the tomb of Bilal-bin-Rabah (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the most famous in the Sahabab galaxy as Muezzin (caller to Prayer) Masjid the Prophet. It is located in the Bab al-Saghir cemetery in Damascus.

Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) was the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) slave of an unbeliever in Mecca. His conversion to Islam, naturally, did not please his master, and therefore he was persecuted mercilessly. Ummaya-bin-Khalaf, who was the worst enemy of Islam, would force him to lie down on burning sand at noon and lay a heavy stone on his chest so that he could not even move his limb. Then he would say to him: “Give up Islam or swelter and die.”

Even with such suffering, Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) exclaimed: “Ahad” - the One (Allah), “Ahad” - the One (Allah).

Tomb of Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him)
Tomb of Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him)

At night, he was beaten and, thus having received cuts, was forced to lie on the burning ground during the day, in order to force him either to leave Islam or die from a protracted death from his wounds. The torturers were tired and alternated (Abu Jahl, Ummaya and others) and competed with each other, using increasingly painful punishments, but Bilal (may Allah be pleased with them) would not succumb. Finally, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) bought his freedom, and he became a free Muslim.

Allah (ﷻ) rewarded his resilience. He should have had the honor of becoming a prophet's muezzin. He had to always stay with him at home and abroad, in order to call Azaan for his Salat. After the death of the Prophet, it became very difficult for him to continue his stay in Medina, where he would miss him at every turn and every corner. Therefore, he left Medina and decided to spend the rest of his life, seeking the path of Allah. Once he saw the Prophet (ﷺ) in a dream, saying to him: “O Bilal! Why do you never visit me?

As soon as he got up, he went to Medina. Arriving there, Hassan and Hussein (may Allah be pleased with them), the grandsons of the Prophet, asked him to call Azaan. He could not refuse them because they were very dear to him. But as soon as Azaan was called, the people of Medina openly cried out in pain at the memories of the happy old days of the prophet. Even women left their homes crying. Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) left Medina again a few days later and died in Damascus in 20 AD.

References: Fazail-e-Aamal – Sheik Zakariyya Kandhalvi

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Madressa Nuruddina Zangi (Syria Islamic History)

Appearance of the Madressa - Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Appearance of the Madressa - Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Nuruddin madressa (seminary) is located around the Khayattin Souk, along the city of Damascus. It also includes a masjid (mosque) and the grave of Nuruddin Zangi, the commander-in-chief of the Muslims who fought against the Second Crusade.

The tomb of Nuruddin Zangi – Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The tomb of Nuruddin Zangi – Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Reference: Wikipedia

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Minaret of the Prophet Isa (Peace be upon him)

This minaret, which is located on the left side of the Umayyad Mosque, is also known as the minaret of Jesus. From here the prophet Isa (peace be upon him) will descend back to earth by the end of time.

Muslims believe that Isa (peace be upon him) did not die on the cross, but Allah (ﷻ) raised him to heaven, and he will return one day to defeat Dajjal (Antichrist). According to the hadith, he is in second heaven. The prophet (mentioned) mentioned: “During Merage (Ascension), I met Isa (peace be upon him) in second heaven. I found it of medium height, reddish white. His body was so clean and pure that it seemed as if he had just done a gusal (washing, cleansing the whole body) and came. ”

The minaret viewed from the rear of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: R.Chohan
The minaret viewed from the rear of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: R.Chohan

In another hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned: “Allah will send Maseeh ibn Maryam (Messiah, son of Mary). Thus, he will descend near the white eastern minaret of Damascus, dressed in two yellow leaves, leaning on the shoulders of two angels. ” [Sahih Muslim]

Physical features of Isa (peace be upon him ): he will resemble the famous Sahabi Urwa bin Masoudi (may Allah be pleased with him). It will be of medium height, red and white. His hair will be straightened on the shoulders, straight, neat and shiny, like after a bath. When the head is tilted, the pearl appears to fall. He will have armor on his body. It will be two fabrics of light yellow color.

Aerial view of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: akg-images.de
Aerial view of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: akg-images.de

He will descend on a jamaat (group), which will be righteous at that time and will consist of 800 men and 400 women. People will prepare for war against Dajjal. It will be time for Fajr prayers, and Imam Mahdi will be the Amir (leader) of the Muslims. From the darkness of dawn, a sound will suddenly sound: “The one who listens to your prayers came” —the righteous people will look everywhere, and their eyes will fall on Isa (there will be peace on him). In short, during Fajr Isa (peace with him) will come down. When the hand of Isa (peace be upon him) is laid down on the shoulders of two angels (according to another source (Kab Abrar), the cloud will carry him). At their insistence, Isa (peace be upon him) will present himself. He will ask about their enthusiasm and thoughts about jihad against Dajjal. Isa (peace be upon him) will descend to the east near the minaret in Damascus (or in Baytul Mukaddus according to another narration). At a time when Imam Mahdi will advance to head the Fajr Salaat. The Ikamata Salaat will already be read, and Imam Mahdi will call Isa (Peace be upon him) for the Imamat (to lead the prayer), but he (Isa (Peace be upon him)) will instead tell Imam Mahdi to lead the prayer since Ikamat this Salaat has already been told to him. Thus, Imam Mahdi will lead the prayer, and Isa (peace be upon him) will follow him. After the hand, he will make the following statement: “Allah killed Dajjal, and Muslims appeared.”

Isa (peace be upon him) will subsequently kill Dajjal, and the great era of peace and harmony will come into the world. Isa (peace be upon him) will marry and have children and will live 19 years after his wedding. He will then die and be buried next to the Prophet (ﷺ) in Majid-e-Nabwi, Madinah.

References: Major signs of Qiyamat – Mufti A.H.Elia

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The Bab al-Saghir cemetery (Syria Islamic History)

The Bab al-Saghir cemetery is located close to the Umayyad mosque and contains the graves of several prominent Sahabs (Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) and pious predecessors.

These are some personalities who are said to be buried here. It is based on knowledge transmitted and has not been independently verified, Allah (ﷻ) knows better:

Umm Kulthum, Ali's daughter (may Allah be pleased with him) and Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her)

Bilal-bin-Rabah, muezzin (caller to prayer) of the Prophet (ﷺ)

Mu'awiyah (may Allah be pleased with him)

The tomb of Fidha, the maid of Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of the Prophet (ﷺ)

Asma, wife of Jafar Tayar (may Allah be pleased with him)

Kamaid bin Aswad al-Kindi, companion of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him)

The grave of Obay ibn Kaaba (may Allah be pleased with him), the husband of Halima, the nursing mother of the Prophet (ﷺ)

Bab al-Saghir cemetery
Bab al-Saghir cemetery

Note that the tombs of the two wives of the Prophet (ﷺ), Umm Salama and Ramla bint Abi-Sufyan (aka Umm Habeebah) are here, but it is highly doubtful that they contain real bodies. Structures were probably created to encourage Ziyarata in the area. The vast majority of scholars believe that they are buried in Jannatul-Baki in Medina, along with the majority of the remaining wives (Ummahatul Mumineen) of the Prophet (ﷺ).

References: Local guide, Wikipedia. SOURCE

Temple of Yahya (peace be upon him) Syria Islamic History

Legend has it that in this small structure in the Umayyad mosque is the head of Yahya (the world above him) (John the Baptist). The head was allegedly found during excavations for the construction of a mosque.

Yahya (peace be upon him) is mentioned by name 5 times in the Holy Quran. He is the only Prophet, whose name was chosen for him exclusively by Allah (ﷻ).

The Shrine inside the prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: londoncosmopolitan.blogspot.com
The Shrine inside the prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque – Photo: londoncosmopolitan.blogspot.com

The prophet Zakariya (may peace be with him) used to go to the temple daily (the present sanctuary of al-Aqsa) to deliver his sermons, even though he had weakened over the years. He was not a rich man, but he was always ready to help those in need. His only disappointment in life was that he had no children, because his wife was barren. This worried him because he was afraid that after him there would be no one to do his job. People needed a strong leader, because if left alone, they would move away from the teachings of Allah and change the Sacred Laws to satisfy themselves.

During one of his visits to the temple, he went to check on Maryam (peace be upon him) [Mary], who lived in the secluded room of the temple. He was surprised to find fresh, unseasoned fruit in her room. Besides him, no one had an entrance to her room. When he asked, she told him that the fruit was from Allah, which she found every morning. But why was he so surprised, she asked him. Did he not know that Allah gives without measure whom He wills? This noble girl opened her eyes to a terrific idea. Could he not ask his Lord to bless him with a child in old age? Despite the fact that his wife has passed the child-bearing age, nothing is impossible for Allah (ﷻ).

Allah (ﷻ) revealed in the Holy Quran in Sura Maryam:

“Kaf, Ha, Ya, Ain, Sad, (These letters are one of the wonders of the Quran, and no one but Allah knows their meaning). This is a mention of your Lord’s Grace to His slave Zakaria. When he called his Lord (Allah) - a secret call saying: “My Lord! In fact, my bones became weak, and gray hair spread over my head, and I was never invincible in my address to You, O my Lord! And verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me an heir from Yourself who will inherit me and inherit also the offspring of Jacob [Jacob] (inheritance of religious knowledge and prophecy, not wealth, etc.) And make it, my Lord, one with whom you feel good! "

Allah said: “O Zakaria! Verily, we give you the joyful news of a son. His name is Yahya (John). We have not given this name to anyone before it. ” [19: 1-7]

The name Yahya literally means "he lives." Katada (may Allah have mercy on him) says that this name was given to him, because Allah gave him an inner life through Iman and Nubuwa (that is, faith and prophecy). Some say that it is because Allah () has revived people, directing them through Yahya (with him peace). However, others say that this was due to the fact that the womb of his mother returned to life after infertility to old age.

Yahya (peace be upon him) was born six months before Isa (peace be upon him). His mother was the sister of Hannah, who was the mother of Maryam (peace be upon her). When he prayed for the child, Zakaria specifically asked for a “pure child” (Quran 3:38). According to his wishes, Allah (ﷻ) gave him an extraordinary son.

In infancy, Allah (ﷻ) instructed Yahya (peace be upon him) to adhere to and observe the teachings of the Torah. He was also obliged to propagate and transmit it to people. Allah (ﷻ) gave him tremendous maturity and wisdom when he was a child, and, according to some historians, he was endowed with prophecy up to thirty years.

Yahya (peace be upon him) preferred the solitude of the company. He ate leaves of trees and sometimes locusts or grasshoppers and drank water from sources. He cried a lot from the fear of Allah and was the embodiment of chastity, remaining unmarried throughout his life.

A view of the interior of the tomb
A view of the interior of the tomb

At that time there was a conflict between Yahya (peace be upon him) and the authorities. King-tyrant Herod Antipas, the ruler of Palestine, was in love with Salome, the daughter of his brother. He was going to marry his beautiful niece. The marriage was encouraged by her mother and some of the educated people of Zion, either out of fear or to enlist the support of the ruler. Hearing the ruler’s plan, Yahya (peace be upon him) declared that such a marriage would be incestuous. He would not approve it under any circumstances, since it was contrary to the Law of the Torah.

Yahya’s statement (peace be upon him) spread like wildfire. Salome was angry because she sought to rule the kingdom with her uncle. She planned to achieve her goal. Dressing attractively, she sang and danced in front of her uncle, awakening Herod's lust. Hugging her, he offered to do everything she wanted. She immediately told him: “I would very much like to have Yahya’s head, because he has defiled your and my honor throughout the land. If you give me this desire, I will be very happy and offer myself to you. ” Stunned by her charm, he satisfied her monstrous request. Yahya (peace be upon him) was executed, and his head was taken to Salome. The cruel woman gloated with delight. But the death of the beloved prophet of Allah was avenged. Not only she, but all the children of Israel were severely punished by the invading armies that destroyed their kingdom. According to biblical sources, Yahya (peace be upon him) died in the year 36 CE at the age of 42 years.

References: Atlas of the Quran – Dr. Shauqi Abu Khalili, Stories of the Prophets – Ibn Kathir, HUMA Travel guide to Palestine

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Madressa Ibn Kathira (May Allah forgives him)

This is the madressa (seminary) of Ibn Katir, the famous mufassir (commentator) of the Holy Quran. It is located near the Bahir monastery.

His full name is Abu Al-Fida, “Imad Al-Din Ismail Bin”, Umar Bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi. He was born in 1301 CE in Busra, Syria (hence, Al-Busrawi).

Madressa Ibn Kathira (May Allah forgives him)

Upon graduation, he received his first official assignment in 1341, when he joined the inquisitorial commission created to clarify some of the issues of heresy. After that, he received various semi-official assignments, which ended in 1366 as a professorship in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Ibn Qatir wrote a famous commentary on the Quran called “Tafsir Ibn Qatir,” which linked some hadiths or statements of the Prophet (ﷺ) and sayings of sahabahs in verses of the Qur'an in explanation. Tafsir Ibn Qatir is known throughout the Muslim world as one of the most widely used explanations of the Quran today.

Ibn Qatir was known for his great memory of the statements of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the entire Quran. He is known as a qadi (judge), chief historian and mufassir (commentator on the Quran). Ibn Qatir considered himself a Shafi'i scholar, as indicated by two of his books, one of which was Tabakaat al-Shafay, or "Categories of followers of Imam Shafi."

In later life, he became blind. He explains his blindness by working on Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal late at night, trying to change him locally, and not the narrator. He died in February 1373 in Damascus.
Famous writings of Ibn Kathira:

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

The Beginning and The end (Arabic. Al Bidayah wa-Nihayah).

Al-Sirah Al-Nabawiya

Tabaqaat ah-Shafi'iya

Signs before Judgment Day

Sins and their punishment

Stories of the Prophets

References: Ibnkathir.atspace.com, Wikipedia.

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Tomb of Abu Dard (Syria Islamic History)

This tomb in Damascus belongs to Abu Dharde (may Allah be pleased with him), a prominent companion of the Prophet (ﷺ). His wife Umm al-Darda is also buried next to him.

Photo: Onemilegrads.blogspot.com
Photo: Onemilegrads.blogspot.com

Reference: Wikipedia  SOURCE

The grave of Khalid-bin-Walid (may Allah be pleased with him)

Khalid bin Walid (may Allah be pleased with him), Rasulullah’s (ﷺ) companion and the greatest Muslim general ever to live, was buried with his son in the corner of this mosque in Homs, which is now partially destroyed in the ongoing war in Syria. Khalid’s tombstone depicts a list of more than 50 victorious battles that he fought without defeat (not counting small battles). His sword was also demonstrated as well as the shield that was shown outside.

Photo: theislamicjournal.com
Photo: theislamicjournal.com

Before he converted to Islam, Khalid fought on the side of the Quraysh at the Battle of Uhud, and it was his military maneuvers that led to the death of 70 Sahabah.

READ MORE: Khalid Ibn Walid: Who Is Khalid Bin Waleed (R.A) ?

After accepting Islam, Khalid (may Allah be pleased with him) first assumed responsibility for the Muslim army in the Battle of Mu'ta after three leaders appointed by the Prophet (ﷺ) had been martyred. He successfully commanded a defensive withdrawal. Khalid (may Allah be pleased with him) broke 9 swords during a combat in a battle, and after the battle of Muta he was given the title Saifullah (Sword of Allah).

He was one of the most successful military commanders of all time. He is known for his military prowess, the command of the forces of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the forces of his immediate successors to the Rashidun Caliphate; Abu Bakr and Umar Ibn al-Khattab. It is distinguished by its undefeated in more than a hundred battles against the numerically superior forces of the Byzantine Roman Empire, the Persian Empire of the Sassanids and their allies. His greatest strategic accomplishments were his rapid conquest of Iraq in the Persian Empire and the conquest of Roman Syria during the three years from 633 to 636 AD. ,

The Mosque of Khalid bin Waleed before its bombing – Photo: alisariram.wordpress.com
The Mosque of Khalid bin Waleed before its bombing – Photo: alisariram.wordpress.com

In 631, he participated in the Prophet's Hajj farewell (ﷺ). According to the story, when the Prophet (ﷺ) shaved his head, Khalid (may Allah be pleased with him) took some of his hair. When the Prophet (ﷺ) asked him about the reason for this, he replied: "I will forever leave this hair with me as a relic so that they help me to win the battles." Later he sewed this hair in his cap, which he always wore under his turban.

The tragedy of this great sahabi was to die on his bed. He himself says: “I participated in such-and-such a battle, and such-and-such a battle that continues (towards the enemies); and there is no spot of my body, except that he has either a sword strike, a spear piercing or an arrow throwing. And now I'm dying on my bed, just like a camel dies. Let the eyes of the cowards never sleep.
Scholars note that the natural death was caused by the fact that he was the “Sword of Allah,” and therefore he could not be killed by another person.

Destruction of the Mosque of Khalid bin Waleed from the inside – Photo: frontstreetmagazine.com
Destruction of the Mosque of Khalid bin Waleed from the inside – Photo: frontstreetmagazine.com

The Khalid bin Walid mosque was blown up during the civil war in Syria.

References: Men around the Messenger – Khalid Mohammed Khalid, Wikipedia.

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The grave of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (May Allah forgives him)

This is the grave of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz, the eighth Umayyad caliph, who ruled from 99 to 101 AD. Muslim historians agree that he was a just and pious ruler, compassionate, caring and loved by his people. He was also Tabi (companion of the companions of the Holy Prophet).

Aslam (may Allah be pleased with him) says that he once accompanied Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) in his patrol of the Medina at night, it so happened that he leaned against the wall to rest when he felt tired. It was midnight, and we heard a woman say to her daughter, "Oh, my daughter, stand up and mix this milk with a little water."
The girl said: “O mother, have you heard the edict of Amir Al-Muamin (heads of believers) today?”
Mother said, "What was that?"
The girl said: "He ordered someone to loudly declare that milk should not be mixed with water."
Mother said: “Get up and mix milk with water; You are in a place where Umar cannot see you.
The girl said to her mother: “I cannot obey Him (Allah) in public and disobey Him private.”
Umar heard this and said to me: "O Aslam, go to this place and see who this girl is and with whom she spoke, and whether she has a husband." So I went to this place and saw that she was not married, the other woman was her mother, and none of them had a husband.

I came to Umar and told him what I learned. He called his sons together and told them: “Do any of you need a wife so that I can arrange a marriage for you? If I had the desire to marry, I would be the first to marry this young woman. ”
Abdullah said: "I have a wife." Abdur-Rahman said: "I have a wife." Asim said: "I have no wife, so let me marry her." Therefore, Umar arranged for her to marry Asim. The woman gave birth to a daughter (named Fatima), who grew up to become the mother of Umar bin Abdulaziz.

Umar bin Abdul Aziz was extremely pious and despised worldly luxury. He preferred the simplicity of extravagance, which became a distinctive feature of the Umayyad lifestyle, investing all the money and outfits intended for the Caliph into the state treasury. He left the palace of the Caliphal and instead chose to live in modest dwellings. He wore coarse linen instead of royal robes and often went unnoticed.

The grave of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (May Allah forgives him)
The grave of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (May Allah forgives him)

Although he enjoyed the overwhelming support of the people, he publicly urged them to elect someone else if they were not satisfied with him (a proposal that no one ever accepted). Umar confiscated estates seized by Umayyad officials and redistributed them among people, making his personal goal the satisfaction of the needs of each person in his empire. Fearing the temptation to bribe, he rarely accepted gifts, and when he did, he immediately placed them in the state treasury. He even pressured his own wife — who was a daughter, sister, and wife of three separate caliphs — to donate her jewels to the state treasury.

Although the reign of Umar was very short, it is highly valued in the memory of both Shiite Muslims and Sunnis. Indeed, he is considered one of the best rulers in Muslim history, second only to the four right caliphs, and some affectionately call him the fifth and last righteous caliph.

According to most historians, Caliph Umar died in Aleppo, Syria, the 5th or 6th of Rajab, AD 101. (some mentioned the 20th) when he was 39 or 40 years old. He was buried in Dair Siman on a site purchased from a Christian.

The reason for his death are the reforms he started, which greatly angered the Umayyad nobility. It is reported that they bribed his slave for the introduction of a deadly poison. The Caliph, feeling the effect of the poison sent by the slave, asked him why he had poisoned him. The slave replied that he was given a thousand dinars for this purpose. The Caliph put the sum in the state treasury, and freeing the slave, asked him to leave this place immediately so that no one would kill him.

He reportedly left only 17 dinars with a testament that out of this sum the rent for the house in which he died and the price of the land on which he was buried will be paid.

References: Abqari.com, Sifat Al-Safwah

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Tomb of Habil (Syria Islamic History)

This is the tomb of Habil, the son of Adam (Peace be upon him) and the first man killed in the world. It is located on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and Hawwa (Eve) were blessed with two sons, Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain). When they grew up, Habil, the younger brother, became a shepherd. He fed sheep, goats and other animals. The elder brother Qabil worked as a farmer, working the fields.

Tomb of Habil
Tomb of Habil

Once, both decided to offer a sacrifice to please their Lord. Habil took the best of his flock, and Qabil brought his harvest. Suddenly a spark of light came down and burned Habil's offering to ashes. Thus, Allah (ﷻ) accepted the sacrifice of Habil, but rejected the sacrifice of Qabil. Qabil felt offended because he was dishonored and insulted. His face darkened with anger, and his heart hardened: "No," exclaimed Qabil, "I will kill you!" From this pleasure from his older brother, Habil did not shout in response. He simply calmly said: "Even if you raise your hand to kill me, I will not resist, because I fear Allah, Lord of the Worlds."

But Qabil's anger overcame him, and he killed his innocent brother Habil. But soon Qabil's anger cooled off, and he felt very sorry: “Now I have killed my brother,” Qabil said to himself in deep sadness. Then Allah sent a crow, who landed on the ground near the body. The raven began to scratch the ground to tell Qabila that he must bury his brother's dead body under the ground. “Woe is me!” Cried Qabil helplessly. "I am even worse than this crow, because I cannot hide the body of my brother." Qabil felt his meanness especially since even a raven could teach him a lesson. Telling the story of two brothers, the Quran reminds us in Sura al-Maidah: “If someone killed a person — except as a punishment for murder or other corruption on earth — it would look like he killed all of humanity. And anyone who saved human life will look as if he saved all of humanity. ” [5:32]

References: Stories from the Quran - Sannyasnan Khan

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Krak des Chevaliers, Crusader castle (Syria Islamic History)

Krak des Chevaliers is considered one of the best preserved crusader castles in the world. It is located 65 km west of the city of Homs, near the border with Lebanon.

Krak des Chevalier castle – Photo: E.Lafforgue (Flickr)
Krak des Chevalier castle – Photo: E.Lafforgue (Flickr)

Krak des Chevaliers was the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers during the Crusades, who were contemporaries of the Templars. It was expanded between 1150 CE. and 1250 CE and ultimately housed a garrison of 2,000 men. The inner curtain wall is up to 100 feet thick at the base on the south side, with seven watchtowers with a diameter of 30 feet

Aerial view of Krak des Chevalier castle – Photo: membres.multimania.fr
Aerial view of Krak des Chevalier castle – Photo: membres.multimania.fr

Salahuddin Ayyubi unsuccessfully besieged the castle in 1188 CE.

In 1271 the fortress was captured by the Mamluks by Sultan Baybars on April 8 with the help of heavy catapults, at least one of which was later used to attack Acre in 1291 CE Baybars strengthened the castle and used it as a base against Tripoli. He also transformed the Hospitaller's chapel into a mosque (mosque).

The hall of the Knights – Photo: turcanin.wordpress.com
The hall of the Knights – Photo: turcanin.wordpress.com

References: Wikipedia

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Monastery of Bakhir the monk (Syria Islamic History)

These ruins at Busra used to be the monastery of a Nestorian monk, Bahir, who discovered the signs of prophecy on young Mohammed (ﷺ) when the Prophet was in a merchant caravan on his way to Syria.

When Muhammad (ﷺ) was about 12 years old, he accompanied his uncle Abu Talib on a trade trip to Syria. In a place called Busra, a very interesting incident occurred, as a result of which Abu Talib returned Mohammed to Mecca.

In their trade trip, they met a Christian monk named Bahir, who lived a simple life in a monastery, which contained ancient sacred texts, inaccessible anywhere else. Bahira had very simple conditions and lived a harsh life, surviving on bare necessities. His diet was very simple, and the clothes he wore were also rough and well worn. He looked out into the street and saw an approaching caravan. His residence was on the main path of caravans, and he regularly saw caravans passing by, carrying various goods destined for sale in the large markets of Syria.

Monastery of Bahira the monk. Source: Arjeyempee (Flickr)
Monastery of Bahira the monk. Source: Arjeyempee (Flickr)

He noticed that this caravan was different; this was something special. He decided to invite people to dinner and learn more. Bahira sent a message to the caravan that his hospitality was extended to all members of the caravan. The caravan merchants accepted the invitation and arrived at the monk.

When they arrived, Bahira searched their faces for something. He said that he offered his hospitality to everyone, was there anyone behind? They said they left a little boy named Mohammed to look after the camels. Bahira insisted that they send someone for Mohammed and take him to recreational activities. When Bakhir saw the face of Muhammad, he was delighted to learn from the scriptures about the arrival of the mighty prophet, and saw the signs on the little boy. He asked him a series of questions, such as how he sleeps, what he sees when he sleeps, what he thinks about and what he does all day. Young Mohammed (saw) answered truthfully, which convinced Bahir of who he is.

After eating, Bahir approached Abu Talib and asked him about his relationship with Muhammad. Abu Talib initially replied that he was his son, and Bahir remarked that this was impossible, and Abu Talib confirmed that he was actually his nephew. Bahir revealed to Abu Talibu that Muhammad would one day become a great prophet. He said that when he saw a caravan in the distance, a cloud hung above them that shielded them from the intense heat of the desert. When the caravan stopped under a tree, the cloud also stopped above them.

Bahira said he saw stones and trees stretching in front of Mohammed as he passed by. They do it only for the prophet of Allah. He looked at the back of Mohammed and noticed the seal of the prophets, which was oval in shape, protruding just below the shoulder blades of Mohammed. He said that this was one of the signs of the great prophet whom they were taught in their books.

Bahira said: "This is the lord of all people, Allah will send him a message that will be a mercy for all people." Bahira advised to immediately return Muhammad to Mecca, if the Jews find out about Muhammad, they will try to kill him. Abu Talib took the advice of this wise old monk and sent Mohammed with some of the guides.

Muhammad (ﷺ) was accompanied on this trip by young Abu Bakr and Bilal (may Allah be pleased with them), and they formed a deep connection that lasted throughout their adult life.

References: Musalla.org, Life of the Prophet (ﷺ) – Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda

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