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Early Islamic History Reimagined: the Biography of Umar ibn Abd a1-Aziz in Ibn Asdkir's Tarikh madinat Dimashq.

The publication of an anthology dedicated to exploring the relevance of Abu 1-Qasim Ali b. al-tlasan Ibn Asakir (d. 571/1176) to the study of early Islamic Syria opened up new avenues for the analysis of medieval texts, especially biographical dictionaries. (1) The compiler and his work, including his Tarikh madinat Dimashq (hereafter TMD), have accordingly been the subject of a number of important recent studies. (2) The TMD's daunting length alone has ensured that while many scholars of medieval Syria recognize the value of the biographical work itself, there is much that remains to be learned about individual portions of that text, as well as the many historiographical or political questions it raises. Below I offer a focused reading of one biography, Ibn Asakir's portrait of the Umayyad caliph Umar b. Abd al-AzIz (Umar II, r. 99-101/717-720). This study is divided into three parts. Part one addresses Ibn 'Asakir's historiographical and political milieu. Part two is a brief analysis of the accession of Umar II, in which that caliph emerges as a pivotal piece of Ibn Asakir's argument for uninterrupted Sunni caliphal legitimacy. That theme is elaborated more fully in part three, which is a close reading of (Umar II's entire TMD biography.


Umar II in Biographical Tradition

Ibn Asakir was not the first person to devote considerable attention to the life of Umar II. From the third through the sixth century A.H., a number of accounts of varying lengths were compiled about that caliph's ascetic life and political career, by inter alia Ibn Abd al-tlakam (d. 214/871), Ibn Sad (d. 230/845), al-Baladhuri (d. 279/892), al-Tabari (d. 310/923), al-Malla (d. 570/1174), and Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201). (3) The historiographical context within which Ibn Asalir worked is complicated by the fact that although he was meticulous about citing his own teachers, he often reproduced material common to well-known older works without direct attribution to them. (4) Fortunately, Umar II is one of few early figures to have received his own self-contained biography (sira) rather early on, so other comprehensive biographies are available for comparison with Ibn Asakir's text. (5) Two of the more substantive texts available for comparison are the biographies by Ibn Sad and by Ibn Abd al-ljakam; in addition, Ibn al-Jawzi's Sirat wa-rnantigib Umar b. Abd al-zrz is also useful in terms of content, though less so in terms of structure, as it is more a hagio-graphical portrayal of the caliph than a technical biography. (6) Ibn Asakir's patron, the Zangid Mir al-Din, was particularly invested in the biography of Umar II; he commissioned a work by his trusted advisor in Mawil, Abu Hafs Umar b. Muhammad al-Khidr al-Malla, that was meant to bring together previous sources including those of Ibn Abd al-Hakam and Ibn al-Jawzi. Nur al-Din died two years before al-Malre, however, and while a draft of the work is extant, it was never completed. (7) In large part, al-Malla' seems to have reproduced Ibn al-Jawzi's text.

Although he had a considerable historiographical tradition from which to draw, Ibn Asakir's biography of Umar II is distinct from those of his predecessors in two major ways. (8) First, while preserving traditions about Umar IT with which he had to contend, Ibn Asakir strategically arranged his biography to emphasize or de-emphasize certain aspects of Umar II's life in light of his own political and theological agenda, including the caliph's youth, accession, and reputation as a mahdi. (9) Second, while it is a commonplace in medieval Islamic historiography for competing claimants to different types of authority to hearken back to foundational figures as sources of legitimation, Ibn Asakir's legitimizing historiography appears to be bi-directional. (10) Namely, where earlier biographers depicted Umar II as the fifth of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (rashidun), bolstering his reputation through an association with earlier authorities, in Ibn Asakir's account problematic aspects of the early civil wars and fitna-ridden rashidun period are also elided through their association with the famously pious Umar II. (11) The context for these unique aspects in Ibn Asakir's representation of Umar II was the demanding environment in which TMD was completed, where dual pressure from Crusader and Shiite opponents shaped his articulation of a Sunni political genealogy whose legitimacy hinged on Umar II's unique persona.

Ibn AsaKir's choice of Umar II as a figure central to his vision of Sunni legitimacy was a highly strategic one. Unlike the first Umar, who was uniformly seen by Shiites as having orchestrated the usurpation of Ali's right to rule after the Prophet's death and repeating the offense when he himself became caliph, the relatively reverent attitude of Umar II toward the family of the Prophet made him a more potent vehicle for late medieval Sunni propaganda. There are numerous attestations of the favorable reputation Umar II had among Shiites, not least of all because of his reported prohibition against cursing Ali at congregational prayers. (12) After Umar II's death, Ali's daughter Fatima was said to have lamented, "if he had remained among us, we would have no need for anyone else after him." (13) Thus, Umar II is portrayed by Ibn Asakir as a uniting figure; after one narrative in which the caliph declares his respect for the Prophet's family we find, for instance, a telling parable: a man living during Umar II's reign expresses wonder at seeing a herd of sheep milling about unmolested by a number of foxes in their midst and is told that under the guidance of a good enough shepherd, even enemies can live peacefully. (14) In Ibn Asakir's rendering, Umar II emerges as a pivotal model of good leadership, occasionally superior to even the first four caliphs, mitigating the unseemliness of the early caliphate's association with fitna by portraying the rashidan and the Umayyads as a morally coherent unit through links (political, biological, and moral) to the second Umar, who was relatively unimpeachable.

Urnar II: The Most "Rescuable" Umayya (15)

Umar II was regularly portrayed in medieval sources as the best of the Umayyads, though this was not saying much. (16) Indeed, one of the most intriguing dynamics in early Islamic historiography concerns the problematic nature of the Umayyad dynasty. (17) The resulting anti-Umayyad sentiment in a variety of literary genres is palpable, though not absolute, and Umar II is a well-known exception to negative portrayals of Umayyads in Abbasid-era sources (though not the only one). (18) As a scholar committed to the Sunni vision of an unbroken, legitimate caliphal succession from Abu Bala down to his own time, Ebn Asakir needed to demonstrate that the Umayyads as a whole were lawful (if flawed) heads of the community. For this reason, a brief look at a range of his Umayyad caliphal biographies in TMD is instructive. The biography of Umar II is one of the most substantive entries, comprising 150 pages; (19) Ibn Asakir's treatment of other Umayyad caliphs is generally neither as full nor as overtly flattering. The only other Umayyad biography of comparable length is that of Muawiya, at over 160 pages. (20) The rest vary in length from six to about sixty pages each. (21)

Muawiya's simultaneously notorious and critical role as the founder of the Umayyad dynasty accounts for the sizeable nature of his biography in TMD. While it is apparent that his investment in the Umayyad caliphs as a group was somewhat uneven, previous research into Ibn Asakir's other biographies has persuasively shown that he was concerned with rehabilitating the problematic reputations of key Umayyads. Thus, for example, a higher than average amount of energy was devoted to his treatment of Yazid ibn Muawiya, while much less was spent on al-Walid b. Abd al-Malik. Lindsay has argued that Yazid I's reputation, marred by his weakness for women and alcohol, not to mention his scandalous role in the death of Muharnmad's grandson Husayn, was neutralized by Ibn 'As-aides nuanced portrayal of him as a decent transmitter of twelfth, a relatively pious person deserving of the caliphate, and as being somewhat distanced from the events at Karbala. (22) Al-Walid b. Abd al-Malik, on the other hand, is depicted in a less obviously manipulated manner by Ibn AsAkir. His biography comprises twenty-three pages, many of which are dedicated to genealogical data; it contains a handful of favorable reports on his devotion to reading the Quran and completing its recitation during Ramaclan, (23) and numerous unflattering ones on his spoiled youth, inability to learn grammar, and general unpopularity among opposing political factions. (24) In general, Ibn Asakir's treatment of al-Walid is relatively lackluster and seems half-hearted in comparison to his more proactive rehabilitation of Yazid I. Yazid I was the more polarizing figure, and it stands to reason that the degree to which Ibn Asakir exercised his authorial hand was proportional to the amount of historical finessing he felt compelled to do. (25) It is also reasonable to conclude that if he felt compelled to rehabilitate more problematic figures such as Muawiya and Yazid I, he was also likely to want to capitalize as much as possible on the positive reputation of the least problematic one, namely, Umar II.

Recent scholarship has elucidated various aspects of the brief reign of Umar II, with a focus on his image in Christian and Muslim sources in the early Middle Ages. To those after him, he was "an exemplar of the Muslim virtues of piety, equity and humility." (26) The biological descendant of Umar b. al-Khattab, he was occasionally construed as a mahdi. (27) According to tradition, his asceticism, clemency, and piety elevated him in the minds of medieval authors, Christian and Muslim alike. A series of fiscal policies and edicts were attributed to him, spanning a range of issues from the treatment of Christian subjects to the equality of Muslim converts to a relatively restrained hand in military expenditures. (28) Finally, to some Abbasid historiographers, he was the caliph under whom the Abbasid "revolution" truly began. (29)

Umar II's biography was, for Ibn Asakir, a repository of all of these elements and more. It was also a heroic story used for the "renewal of devotion and religious education." (30) Ibn Asakir presents us with a figure who is a source of moral and ethical cohesion: one who bridged the controversial early Muslim past with the claims to political and religious authority made by the Sunni establishment of the compiler's present.

Ibn Asakir's Political Agenda: Anti-Shicism in the Era of the Crusades

Ibn Asakir was a member of one of the most learned and respected Sunni families in medieval Damascus, and his institutional role was bolstered by his political allies. (31) As noted, he compiled TMD over several decades, during which varied internal and external threats affected his home city, and completed it under Nur al-Din, whom he describes as the "avenger of the vile, infidel enemies of Muslims." (32) Ibn Asakir's well-known anti-Shiite proclivities, as well as his relationship to other powerful scholars and administrators in a variety of agonistic arenas (i.e., anti-Crusader, anti-Shiite), influenced the form and purpose of his work. (33) Thus, Ibn Asakir was "quite hostile to the Ismaili Shiite Fdtimid caliphate in Egypt as well as the Imami Shiites active in Syria," and "very much concerned with preserving what he considered the proper Sunni character of Islam." (34) While it is difficult to imagine that in the sixth/twelfth century, Shiites could be persuaded that the rtishidirn (and subsequently the Umayyads) were ever legitimate wielders of caliphal power, what was at stake for Ibn Asakir was the legitimacy and piety of the later, developed sectarian community, that is, the righteousness of Sunnism writ large. (35) And while he argued on behalf of a Sunni vision that had achieved a degree of legal, theological, and social coherence, this was still a view that required defending in light of the growth and strength of Shfiism, the ambivalence or hostility of Abbasid historiography, and the divisive character of the early community in genera1. (36)

In TMD Ibn Asakir constructed a Sunni historical framework that was also highly critical of sectarian division in the later Islamic community, a division that itself was seen as a causative factor in the battle against Crusader enemies. As Paul Cobb's study of Ibn Asatir's treatment of an incidence of rebellion from an earlier period has demonstrated, Ibn Asakir was acutely aware that "Zangid Syria was a region wracked by inter-Muslim conflict at a time when unity against a common Frankish enemy might have been desired." (37) Cobb goes on to note the moralizing discourse underlying Ibn Asaikir's views in this fraught context, arguing that the compiler's "disapprobation for fitna is not a simple political attitude. Rather, it is a universal, moral attitude, in which anyone who partakes in activity that divides a community, who pits Muslim against Muslim, is held to account." (38)

The "Sunni revival," aimed at recapturing territories that had been under Shiite dynastic rule, had been "well underway since the mid-tenth and mid-eleventh centuries." (39) After the siege of Jerusalem in 492/1099, members of the Sunni religious establishment urged military and religious leaders to unite against common enemies for the sake of purifying Islam. (40) The link between internal division and external threat from Crusaders would endure: from the first decade of the twelfth century on, proponents of jihad against external enemies cited internal division among Muslims as a social evil. (41) Ibn Asakir himself compiled a collection of forty hadith extolling the merits of jihad as well as a text on the religious merits (fadail) of Asqalan. He also received correspondence from al-Qacli al-Ridil, an advisor and secretary to Salah al-Din. The former was extraordinarily influential in propagandizing for jihad against the Crusaders. (42) Some better known sentiments include his assertion, "We will fight both enemies, the covert and the overt. We will also endure the suffering from both evils, the hypocrites and the disbelievers. We will do so until Allah brings about His decree and bestows on its His victory." (43) We also know that there was an active revival of conquest-era narratives in Ibn Asakir's time--two late sixth- or early seventh-century A.H. copies were made in Syria of al-Azdi al-Basri's Futah al-Sham, as was a presentation copy from the same period of Ibn Abd Futah Mir. (44) The impact of these concerns on Ibn Asakir's work becomes evident when we compare how he selected and arranged the materials at his disposal.


Aspects of Ibn Astikir's Portrayal of Umar II

Although Ibn Asakir's biography of Umar II is considerable enough to analyze as a discrete text, a brief overview of how it compares with other comprehensive biographies of the caliph establishes Ibn Asakir's treatment as innovative and original. The reports that formed the basis of his portrayal of Umar II are mainly attributed to contemporaneous authorities, often without explicit citation of earlier texts that contain identical information. Even when Ibn (Asakir does cite an earlier source, such as Ibn Sad or al-Mada'ini, these instances are far fewer than those cited on the authority of, for example, his teacher Aba 1-Qasim al-Samarqandi (d. 536/1141-2). (45) As noted, Umar II's tarjama is substantial in a large number of early works, notable among which is Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz by Ibn Abd al-ljakam, a fairly pragmatic text. Without dwelling on the caliph's formative years, it documents Umar II's tenure as governor in Medina, his assumption of the caliphate, and his diplomatic activity. Much of Ibn Abd al-tiakam's biography of Umar II is comprised of correspondence, and the caliph himself dies roughly three-quarters of the way through the text, with the remainder of the reports containing information similar to that which came before or remembrances from others about Umar II. It does contain a number of reports on Umar's clemency, piety, and asceticism (which are reproduced by all later biographers, including Ibn Asakir), but these are not the focus of the text. (46) Rather, reproducing much of the material in Ibn Sad's Tabaqat biography of Umar II, Ibn Abd al-Hakam paints a fairly down-to-earth picture of the caliph, including domestic squabbles, day-to-day administration, official correspondence, and legal rulings. When he highlights Umar II's piety, it is often in the context of his administrative reach: in one case, the caliph sends a letter to the governors of various provinces telling them to clamp down on the practice of saying prayers for caliphs or governors, citing Quranic verses indicating that such invocations should only be made for the Prophet. (47) This injunction precedes a series of similar edicts regarding alms (sadaqa), referral of grievances (radd al-mazalim), trade, the sale of land, inheritance, and the like. (48)

The hagiographical tradition surrounding Umar II culminated in a work dedicated to his life by Ibn al-Jawzi. This work is one of several that this scholar devoted to pious figures, including al-tlasan Fuclayl b. yad, Ibrahim b. Adham, Sufyan al-Thawri, Bishr Macrilf al-Karkhi, and Rabica al-Adawiyya. Unlike Ibn Asalcir, lbn al-Jawzi relied heavily on several early sources for his biography of Umar 11. (49) The organization of his Sira wa-managib Umar b. Abd al-Aziz illustrates the purpose of the book. Ibn al-Jawzi crafted discrete chapters devoted exclusively to Umar II's love of learning and thadith transmission, miraculous visions or dreams regarding Umar II's special stature in non-Quranic scriptures, his status as one of the rashidun, his pious sayings, his abstemiousness with regard to food and clothing, and his generosity and fear of God. (50)

One important aspect of Umar II's biography that is recorded in multiple sources is the relationship he is said to have cultivated with the leading scholars of his day, perhaps to demonstrate his devotion to ilm. (51) His having steeped himself in religious learning was asserted in the testimony of his contemporaries, who described him as "the most learned," and a person for whom "the ulema were students." (52) Beyond these broad tendencies and some pietistic tropes common to Ibn Asakir and his predecessors in their treatment of Umar II, a brief look at his well-known accession scene demonstrates how Ibn Asakir communicated his own view the legitimacy of Umar II's rise to the caliphate.

The Accession of Umar II

Al-Tabari's account of the accession of Umar II encapsulates the main elements of the episode as they appear in several earlier sources, beginning in the year 99 A.H. with the illness and death of Sulayman b. Abd al-Malik. (53) The key player in the accession is Raja b. klaywa, an advisor who discusses possible successors while the caliph lies dying. (54) Nominating Umar II above all others and securing Sulayman's agreement, Raja oversees the writing of a will naming Umar II as the next caliph. The contents of the will are kept secret and Sulayman has his family members pledge to abide by the document without disclosing its contents. Once the caliph dies, Raja's influence is more pronounced, as he withholds the fact of Sulayman's death from the latter's household and family members while he secures a second oath of allegiance to the document. Considering this second bay'a sufficient to finalize the matter beyond dispute. Raja announces Sulaymain's death and reads the will. In some earlier accounts, Hisham b. Abd al-Malik protests and is verbally rebuked by Raja, then reluctantly gives the oath of allegiance to Dinar b. Abd al-Aziz. (55) In a fairly cut and dried tone, al-Tabari goes on to describe Umar II's rejection of a caliphal retinue and his first administrative correspondence as caliph. (56)

Unlike al-Tabari, Ibn Sad, Ibn Abd al-ljakam, and Ibn Asdkir all recounted multiple versions of the accession scene, but it is Ibn Asdkir's framing and placement of reports that set his account apart from the others. In TMD the order of events is as follows: (1) A series of miraculous visions, foretelling Umar II's rise to power; (2) Sulayman's illness and the writing of a secret will; (3) The death of Sulayman, the blind oath of allegiance to the document, and the accompanying objection of Hishdm b. Abd al-Malik; (4) Ibn Asakir's own interjection regarding the legal soundness of the bay'a to Umar II; (5) Several more versions of the scene describing the writing of the will, the death of Sulayman, and the two oaths of allegiance. (57)

In terms of technical content, all of these elements were relayed in more or less similar detail by Ibn AsaIdr and his historiographical predecessors. (58) Where Ibn Asdkir differed, however, was in his emphasis on and placement of several foreshadowing scenes and the interjection of his legal opinion. In addition to being more elaborate in the number of accounts than any other source, Ibn Asakir's version of the accession of Umar H immediately follows multiple miraculous visions or dreams. While Ibn Sad and Ibn Abd al-Hakam also compiled reports of prescient visions or dreams accompanying Umar's rise to the caliphate, Ibn Asakir's ordering of the akhbar is significant. In particular, before the death of Sulaymdn, Ibn Asakir described one Wuhayb b. al-Ward, who dreamed of a man announcing a (divine) writing (kita 13, or, in some versions, kitab Allah). When questioned as to its content, the man pointed to his back (59) where the letters 'ayn, mim, and re are inscribed. In Ibn As-Ries compilation the baya to Umar H occurs after this vision, a fact emphasized by the prefix fa- in the closing sentence of the account, fa-jeat bayat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz (60) Furthermore, in Ibn Asakir's text the heavenly writing is only one of a series of foreshadowing scenes; another has Umar b. al-Khattab predicting that one of his descendants will restore justice to the world. (61) This and other similar sentiments are compiled in succession by Ibn Asdkir, with some indication that he was lifting them from an eschatological framework--we find reports that "the world will not come to an end until a man is sent who will be from the family of Umar [I] and who will behave in the same manner as Umar." (62) For Ibn Asalir, these sentiments serve to preface Umar H's rise to the caliphate; they foretell his right to rule. After these portents and prescient dreams comes Ibn Asakir's version of the political events leading up to the accession. (63)

By contrast, though Ibn Abd al-Hakam included a report that is very similar to the ayn-mirn-ra vision, we only find it after the first report that the oath of allegiance to cUmar II has already been sworn, in the context of a dream in which a heavenly voice announces that justice and good have come to the world, after which a being descends from heaven and inscribes the name Umar onto the ground.64 Similarly, toward the end of the biography, Ibn Abd al-Hakam gave a lengthy account of a vision predicting Umar's accession beheld by none other than Raja b. Haywa. Unlike Ibn Asakir, however, Ibn Abd al-Hakam placed it not at the start of the biography but after the accession to the caliphate and even after a few reports of the caliph's impending death. (65) Since Ibn Abd al-Hakam's biography of Umar was as concerned with documenting Umar II's political and practical life as it was his piety, the arrangement of such reports was clearly not as significant a presaging mechanism for that author. Before Umar II's accession to the caliphate, Ibn Abd al-Hakam merely included a straightforward account of the caliph's departure from Medina and included one brief reference to the similarity between Umar II's and Muhammad's stances in prayer.66 Thus, for Ibn Abd al-Hakam visions predicting Umar II as the next caliph did not foreshadow so much as confirm something that had already taken place. (67)

Ibn Asakir was also uniquely concerned with mitigating potential objections to Raja's heavy hand in these matters, especially the fact of his having secured an oath of allegiance to a document whose contents were unknown. In Ibn Asalcir's interjected legal excursus concerning the legitimacy of swearing an oath to a document without knowing its contents, which follows one version of this scene, he cited the approval of legal authorities in the Hijaz, Syria, Egypt, parts of North Africa, and Basra, as well as among ashab al-hadith. (68) The obvious manipulation of Sulayman (in the midst of a power struggle between branches of the Umayyad family, he was dissuaded from naming his own son or the descendants of Abd al-Malik as his immediate successors) was as troubling for Ibn Asakir as it had been for scholars before him. (69) He responded by arranging and repeating different sources cited by his predecessors in such a way as to make Umar s rise to power seem both inevitable and just. Bolstering this interpretation is another report that details Raja's activities after the caliph's will has been written and sealed but before his death: Raja sought to secure the oath of allegiance and was challenged by the crowd (among which were members of the Umayyad elite), which objected to giving the baya. Raja then returned to the caliph's sickbed and, anticipating trouble, had the caliph summon the police (shuria) and caliph's guards (tiaras) before Friday prayers. The caliph's henchmen then beat into submission anyone who objected to giving the oath of allegiance. (70)

Ibn Asakir buried this less than savory report among several others and immediately appended the legal discussion noted above. (71) In this way he was able to include both sides of the accession story--positive (dreams and visions naming Umar II) and negative (securing the oath to Umar II only by using physical force and secrecy)--while preserving a narrative arc that had Umar II seem like a man fulfilling destiny rather than merely benefiting from Raja's cynical manipulation of politics. (72) By placing the problematic political wrangling after the series of miraculous visions and by coupling the less favorable version of events (the one in which the baya is given due to physical force) with the citation of a legal argument defending the odd circumstances of Umar's accession, Ibn Asakir primed his readers to accept his interpretation of subsequent, repetitive reports recapitulating the accession story. By the time one gets to his inclusion of, for example, al-Tabari's account of events, any potential tension regarding Sulayman's will is dissipated: we already know how the story is supposed to turn out. (73)

The way in which Ibn Asakir reimagined the meaning of his data by applying strategies of repetition and placement illustrates how worn tropes could be endowed with new significance in the hands of later medieval compilers. It also showcases Ibn Asakir's commitment to preserving, even while manipulating, well-known textual sources. In the hands of the deft compiler, Umar II's image held sway because of its central place within Ibn Asakir's broader vision of Sunni legitimacy. That centrality was consistently reinforced through Ibn Asail's entire biography of Umar II, facilitating a bi-directional strategy of legitimation that hinged on that caliph's role in rehabilitating both the Umayyad legacy and the period of early flow among the rashidun.


Background and Youth

Umar II's TMD biography begins (as do all of Ibn Asakir's other caliphal biographies) with a simple statement of his accession to the caliphate and some brief genealogical data. It proceeds to list the names of people from whom Umar II transmitted as well as of those who transmitted from him, establishing him as a man of hadith--an assertion confirmed by the narration of a few hadith in the next section. All of this is consistent with Ibn Aslikir's usual structure for his biographies, (74) but the insertion of certain well-known familial facts suggests that this introductory material is setting the stage for the biography as a whole. Again, Ibn Asakir did not innovate much in terms of information; he faithfully reproduced the material he had at his disposal. More than content I wish to emphasize Ibn Asakir's arrangement of reports within a reading of the biography as a narrative unit. For instance, at the outset Umar II's biological connection to Umar I is highlighted in the context of situating the former among the ranks of the third tabaqa of ahl Madina. There is also a clear sense here that Ibn Asalcir wishes to link Umar II to other early caliphs, as well as to Muhammad, which is accomplished by foregrounding reports that point to as much in the midst of other, rather dry data:

  'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan b. al-Hakam al-Qurashi
  al-Umawi; his mother was Umm 'Asim bt. 'Asim b. 'Umar
  b. al-Khattab. He ruled for twenty-nine months, similar
  to the [length of the] caliphate of Abu Bala al-Siddiq,
  may God be pleased with them both. His kunya was Abii
  Hal'. he was Medinan, and he died in al-Sham. He
  narrated from 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr, Aba Bakr b. 'Abd
  al-Rahman b. al-Harith b. Hisham, al-Rabi' b. Sabra,
  and Ibn Qa' al-Zuhri. He had been given by Sahl b.
  Sa'd al-Sa'adi a cup (qadah) that the Prophet used
  to drink out of. (75)

After gently positing these well-known connections to AbEl Bala and Muhammad and elaborating further on 'Umar H's credentials as a transmitter of ljadith, Ibn 'Asakir includes reports with a physical description of the caliph that contain the "emblem" motif characteristic of heroic narratives, though he does so in a somewhat roundabout way. For example:

  Sa'id b. 'Ufayr recalled that ['Umar II] was dark (asmar), his
  face had delicate features, he was handsome, slender, had a
  well-groomed beard, was sunken-eyed (gha'ir al-'aynayn), had
  a scar on his forehead, and had gray hair. According to
  others: He was a fair-skinned man, with a small face,
  handsome, of slight build, with a well-groomed beard, and
  sunken-eyed. He had the mark of a hoof on his forehead, for
  which he was nicknamed "the broken-headed Umayyad" (ashajju
  bani umayya), and his hair was gray. (76)

No explanation for the variation of physical descriptions or the nickname is immediately forthcoming, but we are given a clue to the potential symbolic significance of this portion of the biography when Ibn 'Asakir inserts a popular report of a vision beheld by an unnamed man on the night that 'Umar II was born in which a heavenly being pronounces that "religion and kindness have come to you, and the manifestation of righteous behavior among the faithful." (77) We then find out that the scar on the caliph's forehead is the result of a boyhood injury, when he entered his father's stables and was kicked by a horse. While wiping the blood from his son's face, 'Abd a1-'Aziz reassures him, saying, "Even if you are the most broken-headed of the Bana Umayya, you are still fortunate." (78) Other early sources recount the existence of this scar and the injury that led to it. In Ibn Abd al-ljakam cUmar II fell off a donkey, and the incident is linked to a tradition concerning signs of the immanence of the 'Abbasid da'wa. (79)

Ibn 'AsAkir then presents us with another situation in which a young 'Umar II is afflicted, this time emotionally. Here he is weeping copiously, much to his mother's concern. When she inquires as to the source of his distress he replies that he is overcome by the remembrance of death. The report clarifies that 'Umar II had on that day completed memorizing the Quran. (80) This presentation of extreme piety borders on the saccharine until we read on and find that Ibn 'Asdkir seems to have used it to mitigate what immediately follows, namely, a number of reports in which 'Umar II's youthful indiscretion leads his father to ship him off to Medina in order to gain some discipline. His misbehavior in one instance is his delaying the performance of prayer, whereupon he is rebuked; in another he is chastised for insulting 'Ali b. Abi Talib. (81) Another similarly sanitized anti-Umayyad report describes 'Umar II's arrival in Medina:

  Dawad b. Abi Hind said, 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz came to us
  in the [Prophet's] rnasjid in Medina, and a man said, "
  The profligate (fasig) ['Abd al-'Aziz] has sent his son
  to us, so that he can learn the laws and the customs,
  claiming that he will not die until he becomes caliph and
  follows in the footsteps of 'Umar b. al-Khattdb."And by
  God, he did not die until we saw this occur. (82)

To argue that the young 'Umar's presence in Medina was not a disciplinary measure, Ibn 'Asakir follows with an anecdote that has the child 'Umar choose to go to Medina rather than accompany his father to Egypt: "Would it not be better for both of us if you would send me to Medina, so that I might sit among its fuqaha' and become schooled in its adab?" (83) In contrast to the explicit harshness in the observation above, subsequent reports about 'Umar II's popularity or lack thereof in Medina are accordingly more subdued, claiming that if any of the other youth of Medina disliked him, it was due to their envy over how naturally gifted he was. 84 Finally, this introductory section of the biography ends with a report describing how 'Umar wore a hair shirt for seventy days when mourning the death of his father, a reference to the caliph's ascetic qualities.

It is difficult to ascertain precisely why Ibn 'Asakir has structured this part of 'Umar II's biography in this way. Earlier versions do not dwell nearly as much on 'Umar II's early years. The succession of reports on the would-be caliph's youth in Medina feel somewhat stilted in Ibn (Asiikir's account. What can be discerned, however, is a dual strategy of mitigation and de-escalation. Framing negative reports with more positive ones was a strategy Ibn 'Asair also applied to other Umayyads, embedding potentially embarrassing reports into a series of more flattering ones as a way of remaining thorough and faithful to the material at his disposal while continuing to communicate his own agenda. (85) Here, he likewise de-emphasizes what he dislikes by scaling down the tone of reports in a more positive direction, moving from extremely negative to less damning to neutral or positive anecdotes as the narrative moves forward in time. A similar de-escalation of highly charged and, to Ibn 'Asakir, problematic reports is found when he tackles the theme of 'Umar II as mahdi.

'Umar II as Just Ruler vs. 'Umar II as mahdi

The next section of the text describes 'Umar II as a just governor in Medina, one concerned with the proper and firm administration of law. (86) According to a number of sources, when 'Umar II became governor of Medina one of his first official acts was to summon ten of the leading jurists and assure them that he would consult with them on all matters. He admonished them at the same time, instructing them that any transgressions or oppressive practices should be brought to his attention. (87) To illustrate the type of justice 'Umar II enforced, Ibn 'Asakir provides an example of the caliph protecting the welfare of two young female orphans whose father's inheritance was under the control of their ne'er-do-well uncle. (88) In contrast to his father's reputation, 'Umar II's was that of a well-liked person, whose prayer was "the most like that of the Prophet," according to the esteemed Companion Anas b. Malik. (89) Although a great many of the components of this portion of the biography deal with 'Umar II's piety, austerity, and character, Ibn 'Asakir was careful not to represent the caliph as anything other than a pious leader. Shying away from early sources that had an investment in casting 'Umar II as a redeemer, or mahdi, (90) here it is the caliph's good character that is the basis for his political legitimacy, though Ibn 'Asakir offers many reports alleging that 'Umar II was the mahdi to contend with. (91)

Early Islamic messianic themes surrounding 'Umar 11 posed a dilemma tor later medieval biographers. As the work of Antoine Borrut and others has shown, to varying degrees and with varied degrees of success iterations of 'Umar II as a messiah, a redeemer, or the mahdi abound in a number of early Muslim and non-Muslim sources. (92) Perhaps because Ibn 'Asakir was faced with the obvious failure of messianic predictions to come to fruition (not to mention whether he found them distasteful), he sought to tamp down any such impulses. Hence, as discussed in part two above, Ibn 'Asakir reported a series of mystical visions in which various actors, including the protagonist himself, are informed that 'Umar II will become caliph. (93) Immediately following these miraculous stories and the accession itself, the sense of 'Umar II as a redeemer or restorer is placed in the context of responsible and ethical caliphal authority, not of messianic or eschatological predictions. At one point, even Raja' b. Haywa takes a down-to-earth approach to the caliphate. When 'Umar II asks his opinion about power, the advisor is said to reply, "O Commander of the Faithful, want for the people that which you would want for yourself, and whatever you would hate to have brought upon you, do not inflict upon them; and keep in mind that you won't be the first caliph to die." (94) The disavowal of any special status is more explicit in the reports that follow, in which Ibn 'Asiikir intersperses assertions that 'Umar II was the mahdi with a series of episodes on the austerity of the caliph with respect to financial matters, (95) his reluctance to assume a position of power, (96) his ascetic nature, (97) and, finally, his recognition of his own limitations. In this carefully arranged series Tmar H stresses the fact that Mubammad represented the seal of the prophets and that no Muslim was obligated to obey him ['Umar II] should he act in error. (98) Messianic expectations are even more strongly refuted by a famous khulba in which the caliph reminds the people that

  God will not send any prophet after your Prophet, and
  after the book He sent down, He will not send any other
  book, and whatever was made licit by the pronouncement
  of His Prophet is licit until the Day of Judgment, and
  whatever He so prohibited is prohibited until the Day
  of Judgment. Truly I am not one to tear down ( lastu
  In-qudin), but one to act (munaffidh). I am not here
  to innovate, rather I am an obedient follower. (99)

This declaration is followed by a rendition of 'Umar II's final khulba, where he weeps (again in remembrance of death) and reminds the assembled congregants that he is, above all, a sinner. (100) Up to here Ibn 'Asakir has employed stock tropes of humility and piety, and earlier sources include identical accounts of the sermons and pietistic motifs. In Ibn 'Asakir's arrangement, however, they are not merely legitimizing devices, but also function as a de-escalation from the theme of 'Umar II as the mahdi, since, the next report tells us, the only mahdi is Jesus. (101) Eventually, other epithets, such as Abil l-Yatama (Father of Orphans), slip in as alternatives to mahdi. (102) The placement of one reference to 'Umar H as Aba l-Yatama is particularly telling in this respect: Ibn al-Jawzi and al-Malla' included a report in which the Prophet described 'Umar II using three appellations--'Umar, al-mahdi, and Abu l-Yatama (103) --and Ibn 'Asakir likewise included the report in which Umar's three appellations are ('Umar, jabir, and mahdi. Yet he was also careful to provide alternative sets of names that omitted any messianic overtones, and in one version has 'Umar, amir al-mu'minin, and Abu l-Yatama. (104)

With these reports appearing in this section of the biography, the enduring notion of a messianic ('Umar II is at first simply diluted, then belied by the words and deeds of the caliph himself, and finally complicated by ambiguous statements, (105) such as, on the one hand, "there is no mahdi except Jesus, son of Mary," but on the other, "the mahdi will be a man about forty years old and he will resemble the Banu Isra'il, and if it is not 'Umar, I do not know who it is." (106) Perhaps in recognition of the strength of the idea Ibn Asakir was rejecting, these forceful statements are then tempered by qualified, general reports that once again stress (Umar's piety, such as "If there were a mahdi in our age it would be 'Umar b. 'Abd al-cAziz." (107) In one report Ibrahim b. Maysara inquires as to whether 'Umar II is the mahdi and is told that he is not necessarily the mahdi since he did not represent "perfect justice." (108) In this way longstanding messianic themes that Ibn 'Asakir could not blatantly ignore were extenuated by being placed into the realm of the conditional and outside the realm of the eschatological or descriptive. (109) We could contrast this kind of conditional statement with Ibn Sa'd's narrative, for example, where a simple declarative statement describing 'Umar II as the rnahdi is reported at the start of the biography without further explanation or mitigation. (110)

'Umar II and the rashidan: Bi-Directional Legitimation

Interestingly, it is only after bringing 'Umar II "down to size" that Ibn 'Asakir asserts the connection between him and the rashidan; he notes that the terms khulafa' and umarea' are synonymous, and can thus be applied to either "Abu Bakr and the two 'Umars," or to "Abu Bala, 'Umar I, 'Uthman, 'Ali, and anyone else who resembles them." (111) Other attestations to the "three caliphs" being Abii Bak and both 'Umars similarly accomplish the connection between later Umayyad legitimacy and the riishidan. Rather than exploiting the image of 'Umar II as a simple beneficiary of the association with earlier figures, Ibn 'Asakir arranges his portrayal such that two things are accomplished: 'Umar II is put on a par with the rashidiin and simultaneously the unseemliness of the early fitna characteristic of the rashidan era is mitigated by the association with the pious Umayyad. That 'Umar H's piety accomplishes this restoration is clear in another portion of the text; there a short section is dedicated to an incident concerning a piece of land the Prophet had acquired as booty (fay') for the support of the community. It was bequeathed to Abu Bakr, who in turn passed it on to 'Umar I, who passed it on to 'Uthman. Uthman, however, deviated from the practice of Mutiammad and his first two successors and granted it as a private grant (iqta') to Marwan b. al-Hakam, through whom, a few caliphates later, 'Umar II obtained it. Upon learning its history 'Umar H immediately restored the land to the status it had during Muhammad's lifetime, simultaneously "making up for" 'Uthman's mistakes and angering some of his family members. (112) This occurs in the context of a popular and similar report likening the legacy of Muhammad to a great river that had kept its course through the reigns of Abii Bakr and 'Umar I, but had begun to divide and cleave throughout successive caliphates. By the time it reached him, 'Umar H explained, the river had run dry and its only hope for restoration was to return it to its original course. (113)

'Uthman was not the only rashidan-era caliph overshadowed by the pious umayyaa. in comparisons with 'Umar I, Umar II is deemed the superior of the two. This is especially the case when 'Umar II writes to Salim b. (Abd Allah for precedent regarding the distribution of voluntary alms and is told, "If you conduct affairs the way 'Umar did in his day and with his people, in your day and with your people, in the eyes of God you would be better than 'Umar." (114) In Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam's version of the same incident, by contrast, we get the sense that the request was rebuffed simply because it was technically impossible: the two men lived in different times and faced different challenges. (115) Taking into account the reports that immediately follow, it seems that Ibn 'Asakir wishes to emphasize that the latter 'Umar, presumably facing even more difficult challenges and times, could equal if not surpass his predecessor. I stress the bi-directional legitimation at work here (the rashidan to 'Umar II and 'Umar II to the rashidan--and so to the Sunni political project as a whole) because the structure of the biography calls attention to it. Immediately after including 'Umar II among the "true caliphs" Ibn (Asakir's text narrates several reports of mystical visions in which 'Umar II meets Muhammad, who is flanked by AbQ Bakr and 'Umar I, but it is 'Umar II who takes pride of place. In one version Muhammad is seated with the first two caliphs on either side of him. Unsure of where he belongs 'Umar II is made to sit (aq'adahu) on the the Prophet's lap, in the center of the tableau. (116) In this report it is Muhammad himself who establishes the hierarchy of the dream:

  I dreamed of a man, sitting down, with another man seated
  to his right and another to his left. 'Umar b. Abd al-'Aziz
  came upon the group and wanted to sit between him and the
  one on his right, but the man clung to his companion. So he
  tried to sit between the man and the one on his left, but
  the man clung to his companion on the left. Then he
  [the man in the middle] pulled him to the middle and
  seated him on his lap. And I asked, "Who is that?" And
  they answered, "This is the Messenger of God, peace be
  upon him, and this is Abu Bakr, and this is 'Umar, and
  this is 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'AZiz." (117)

Ibn Sa'd included this report in his account of 'Umar II as well, but he placed it near the beginning of his biography of the caliph where it appears as a relatively isolated incident without further elaboration. In Ibn 'Asakis's hands, it is one of several accounts in which 'Umar II is grouped alongside the rashidan, either explicitly or as one of "five just imams." (118) Thus, the more controversial aspects of the earliest period (and by extension, of the Umayyads) were strategically enfolded into a long genealogy of pious and morally coherent Sunni authority, undercutting potential objections by Shi'ite opponents. As noted above. Ibn 'Asakir's chief motivation for construing 'Umar II in this way was the relative Shi'ite acceptance of and admiration for 'Umar II, especially as compared to thir nearly uniform animosity toward 'Umar I and his successors. In the context of more partisan Shiite objections characteristic of the later medieval period, the legitimacy of all Sunni political leaders--including the rashiclfin and the Umayyads--turned on the figure of 'Umar II, who, unlike any of his Sunni predecessors, was able to gather under his tent those who recognized his legitimacy from various camps. Capitalizing therefore on the relatively accepting Shicite view of 'Umar II, Ibn 'Asskir places the caliph squarely within a retroactively Sunni fold, asserting that unity is possible only under a wise and just Sunni leader, a "good shepherd" of the community under whom "even enemies can live together," as in the sheep/wolves anecdote above.

Picking up on this last theme Ibn 'Asalir includes a lengthy, partisan anecdote just before the first report of 'Umar II's death, which sums up the caliph's role as a symbol of anti-Shi'ite legitimation and arbiter of the conflict between defenders of 'Uthrnan and loyalists to 'Ali, relaying a vision beheld in a dream:

  Fatima bt. 'Abd al-Malik, the wife of 'Umar b. 'Abd
  al-'Aziz, said: Tell me about the vision (ru'ya) you
  saw. He ['Umar II] replied: I saw, as one does in a
  dream, that I had been plunged into an open (we-134'a)
  verdant area (and), as if in a green expanse, and in
  it was a white palace that seemed to be made of silver
  [...] and a man emerged from the palace, calling, "Where
  isMuhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. Abd al-Muttalib? Where is
  the messenger of God, peace be upon him?- Then he met
  the messenger of God, peace be upon him, and he entered
  the palace. Then another person emerged calling, "Where
  is Abu Bala" al-Siddiq?"

The same process is repeated and Aba Bakr, 'Uthman, and 'Ali are all located and enter the palace. Then,

  Another man emerged and called, "Where is Umar b.
  'Abd al"'Aziz?" 'Umar continued, so I stood up
  and went into the palace, and I made my way over
  to the messenger of God, peace be upon him, and
  to those who were around him. And I said to myself,
   where should I sit? So I sat near my ancestor
  (ha janib abi) 'Umar b. al-Khattab, and I noticed
  that AM Bala was to the right of the messenger of
  God, peace be upon him, and 'Umar to the left.

After this 'Umar II hears a voice from behind a veil of light instructing him to remain steadfast and firm, and then telling him to depart. 'Umar II then concludes,

  So I stood up and went out of the palace, and I turned
  around and saw 'Uthmari b. 'Afran as he was leaving
  the palace, and he said, Praise be to God, my Lord, Who
  has made me victorious. And then 'Ali b. Abi Talib came
  out of the palace in his wake, saying, Praise be to God,
  my Lord, Who has forgiven me (alladhi ghafarli). (119)

Two things about this vision are worth noting. First, it resembles other reports in TMD that have 'Uthmian experiencing a similar sense of inclusion into Muhammad's inner circle. The Companion Nafi' b. 'Abd al-tlarith reports entering an enclosed area with Muhammad and seeing Muhammad sit on a bench and dangle his legs into a well. In time, Abil Bakr, 'Umar I, and 'Uthman are all admitted, given glad tidings of Paradise, and permitted to sit with Muhammad; however, 'Uthman is warned that he will encounter some misfortune. (120) In the TMD biography of 'Uthman, this report is narrated in the context of shoring up that caliph's ranks among the rashicliin and placing him above the absent 'Ali in what is a strong anti-.Shiite statement. The second thing worth noting about the palace anecdote is that since it describes Tmar II, the scenario is placed into the realm of the miraculous vision, incorporating 'Umar II into a framework where he is positioned to testify on the nature of the early fitna. It becomes clear that 'Umar II is reconciling early historical ambivalences when we contrast a similar scene from Ibn al-Jawes text: In a dream 'Umar II sees the Prophet with AbU Bakr on his right and 'Omar I on his left. 'Uthrnan and 'Ali are also present, the former saying, "By God, I have defeated (Ali," and the latter saying, "By God, I have been forgiven."At first this seems to echo Ibn Asakir's version. Yet immediately following this Ibn al-Jawzi includes a nearly identical report describing Mucawiya and 'Ali in similar straits, this time with 'Ali saying, "God has judged me," and Mucawiya saying, "God has forgiven me." (121) In Ibn al-Jawzrs biography of 'Umar II, the ambiguity between reports is left unresolved. For Ibn 'Asakir, on the other hand, the statement that God has made Taman "victorious" and has "forgiven" 'All is the concluding message of the dream, and this definitive conclusion is what 'Umar IT has been summoned to observe, by no one less than Muhammad himself. This final vision of the rashidan receiving their respective sanctions from God in the heavenly palace has cUmar 11 acting as a kind of "arbiter as witness" to the somewhat awkward Sunni reconciliation of the early conflicts. (122)

Having established 'Umar as a central and decisive figure. Ibn 'Asakir devotes the bulk of the remainder of his biography to 'Umar's piety, character, and excellent leadership. It is here that he depicts 'Umar II as ruling according to the Surma. This is 'Umar the patient, the clement, the ascetic. He seeks out the poor and manumits female slaves. (123) In a radical departure from the ways of his namesake, the pious Umayyad replies that 'Umar I received two dirhams a day from the treasury because he had no wealth of his own, whereas he himself has no need for a public maintenance. (124) So abstemious is 'Umar II that he pays out of pocket for the lamp oil he uses when reading for his own pleasure as opposed to when he is conducting state affairs. (125) He weeps for the various financial straits of his subjects, including oppression, poverty, and physical illness. (126) The tropes here are more than niceties--they, too, establish a symbolic link between Muhammad and 'Umar II. Much as the Prophet's daughter Fatima's hagiography centers around her domestic toil and severe impoverishment, so, too, does 'Umar H's wife, also named Fatima, suffer under the strict poverty imposed by her husband. (127) In one exemplary anecdote, the general Maslama b. 'Abd al-Malik visits the caliph and is appalled to find him wearing a filthy shirt. (128) Maslama tells 'Umar's wife, essentially, to do the laundry. (129) She replies, "God willing." (130) Upon returning and finding the caliph in much the same state as before. Maslama is outraged and once again chastises Fatima, who this time speaks her mind. She tells Maslama what he should have recognized--the caliph only owns one shirt. (131) Ibn 'Asakir deploys numerous tropes of piety (weeping, humility, poverty) in account after account in which 'Umar H refuses even the appearance of financial misappropriation, referring once to the gifts received by the Prophet as potentially constituting "a bribe in our day." (132)

The biographical entry then takes a dramatic turn, leading to the death of the protagonist. His fear before God and his weeping become ominous; at one point he weeps tears of blood. 133 In the final portion of the biography we find more poetry than in earlier sections (both by and about 'Umar II), much of which centers on ascetic themes. (134) In the final few pages, Ibn 'Asakir takes us through the poisoning, final conversations, and death of 'Umar b. 'Abd al='Aziz


While he included the biographies of illustrious Umayyads in his TMD as a matter of course, Ibn 'Asakir could not avoid framing caliphal biographies as part of a broader discourse of legitimate leadership within a reenergized Sunni vision of early Islamic history. And while the main contours of the Sunni vision of the formative period (including the dishidan period, the early civil wars, and the first Islamic dynasties) were relatively stable by his time, Ibn 'Asakir could emend sacred history insofar as he could reimagine these and other events' significance (more so than their content) and endow them with new symbolism (as opposed to fabricating new material) more suitable to his own milieu.

In Ibn 'Asaides hands, 'Umar II both redeemed his co-dynasts and resurrected the potency and power of the reishidan, all of whom were granted a sense of unity and cohesion under his, the second 'Umar's, auspices. In this way Ibn 'Asalcir modified and mobilized 'Umar II's reputation to transfer the pious Umayyad's legitimacy to the broader, twelfth-century Sunni view of the first four caliphs, building on a long tradition of scholars who had done the reverse. (135) Ibn 'Asakir's nuanced treatment of 'Umar II demonstrates just how carefully and deliberately he negotiated common tropes and the expectations they raised in light of his own dogmatic and political concerns.

(1.) Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, ed. James E. Lindsay (Princeton: Darwin Press, 2001). Some essays in this volume treat Ibn Asakir's work as both historical and literary, with attention to issues of historical accuracy, preservation of earlier sources, and narrative construction. The authors asked explicit questions about the compiler's method, intentions, and writing practice. Most importantly, while understanding that the sheer volume of Ibn Asalcir's production makes it impossible for any single study to address all of these issues comprehensively, the authors make convincing arguments for interpreting representative portions of the text, a method I also adopt here. Ibn Asales most substantive work was Tarikh madinat Dimashq ("History of the City of Damascus": Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1996), a massive biographical dictionary modeled on Tarikh Baghdad by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463/1071). On the study of biographical dictionaries in general and for a convenient source of references on the subject, see Waciad al-Qadi, "Biographical Dictionaries: Inner Structure and Cultural Significance," in The Book in the Islamic World: The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East, ed. George Atiyah (New York: State Univ. of New York Press, 1992), 93-122.

(2.) See the list in appendix B of Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, 131-40. See also Zayde Antrim, "Ibn Asakir's Representations of Syria and Damascus in the Introduction to the Tarikh Madinat Dimashq," International Journal of Middle East Studies 38 (2006): 109-29; Paul Cobb. "Virtual Sacrality: Making Muslim Syria Sacred before the Crusades," Medieval Encounters 8 (2002): 35-55. A new study, focusing especially on Ibn Asa-Ides Kitab al-Arbdan ft fi iqamat al-jihad, is Suleiman A. Mourad and James E. Lindsay, The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period, with an edition and translation of Ibn As-aides The Forty Hadiths for Inciting Jihad (Leiden: Brill, 2012). On Ibn Asakir's TMD in particular, James Lindsay ("Caliphal and Moral Exemplar?: 'Ali Ibn Asakir's Portrait of Yazid b. Muliwiya," Der Islam 74 [1997]: 250-78) has demonstrated that Ibn Millar effected the rehabilitation of the problematic image of Yazid II through the use of certain narrative constructions. Similarly. Fred Donner's contribution to Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History (pp. 44-61) elucidates Ibn Asakir's strategies of selection, repetition, and placement in the biographies of the first four caliphs, with a focus on Uthmat. On Ibn Asakir's faithfulness to the content of the sources on which he relied, see Lindsay's introduction in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, and the contribution to that volume by Steven Judd.

(3.) While a great deal of the material Ibn Asakir used in his compilation was gathered by earlier scholars, the comparison with other biographical material for Umar II (elaborated below) indicates that Ihn Asakir exercised a discernible influence using strategies of emphasis, repetition, and placement of narrative reports (akhbar). On these strategies, see Donner, in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History.

(4.) See Steven Judd's discussion of this in relation to al-Tabari's universal chronicle and kfilyat al-awliye of AbU Nuaym al-Isfahani. in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, 91, 93-94, 95.

(5.) Umar (II) b. Abd al-Aziz (P. Cobb), in Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1960-2004) (hereafter EI2).

(6.) Ibn Sad, Tabaqat al-kubra (Beirut: Dar Sadir), 5: 330ff.; Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz (Cairo: Maktabat Wahba, 1983); Ibn al-Jawzi, Sirat wa-manZigib Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, 1984). Ibn al-Jawzi's text is thematically arranged so as to foreground the ascetic and pietistic qualities of Umar II. Other biographies are as or more concerned with documenting his political and diplomatic activities.

(7.) The draft survives in a unique manuscript, which has been edited and published as al-Kitab al-jami li-sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz (Beirut: Muassasat al-Risula, 1996) but also, in some sections, rearranged. While al-Malla's work is a useful repository of material common to other biographies of Umar II, without access to the MS it is difficult to ascertain where reports were originally placed and where they have been relocated by the editor. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating and, so far as I can discern, understudied collection of material pertaining to Umar II's biographical tradition.

(8.) In part two, below. I compare the treatments of Umar II by Ibn Asakir, Ibn Sad, and Ibn Abd al-Hakam on account of their relative similarity in length and overall narrative structure. On the latter, see Ibn Abd al-Hakarn (F. Rosenthal), EI2. See also Judd. in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, 89-90. Finally, the footnotes in the 1995 edition of TMD provide a wealth of useful information for individual comparison with both earlier and later sources, e.g., Abu Nuaym al-lsfahiini, al-Baladhuri, and al-Dhahabi.

(9.) On the use of emphasis. repetition, and other literary strategies by Ibn AsAlcir in another context, see Donner, in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History.

(10.) On "founding fathers" or early precedent to bolster authority of later political or sectarian groups, see Suleiman Mourad, Early Islam between Myth and History: Al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110AH1728CE) and the Formation of His Legacy in Classical Islamic Scholarship (Leiden: Brill, 2006).

(11.) On the understanding of Umar II as Umar I redivivus, see Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003), 114; Antoine Bor-rut, Entre memoire et pouvoir: L'espace Syrien sous les derniers Orneyyades et les premiers Abbassides (Leiden: Brill, 2010). 288ff

(12.) TMD, 45: 136. Cf. Borrut, Entre memoire epouvoir, 285, 287 n. 23.

(13.) TMD, 45: 196.

(14.) Ibid., 222-23. This parable may echo the prophecy in Isa 11:6 describing an age of peace at end times when "the wolf also shall dwell with the Iamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." Likewise, in Isa 65:25, "the wolf and the lamb will feed together." On Ibn Asakir's familiarity with Biblical narratives in a different context, see James Lindsay, "Ibn Asakir as a Preserver of Qisas al-Anbiyii": The Case of David b. Jesse," Studia Islamica 82 (1995): 45-82.

(15.) On the characterization of Ibn Abd al-Hakam's work as an attempt to rescue Umar 11 and rehabilitate him, see Mourad, Early Islam between Myth and History, 121-22. Here Mourad characterizes Umar II as the "only" Umayyad whose reputation could be salvaged, in a discussion of the classical tradition broadly speaking, and not with reference to Ibn Asalcir's historiographical agenda in particular.

(16.) See Crone and Hinds, God's Caliph, 74; Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 308-9.

(17.) Tayeb El-Hibri, "The Redemption of Umayyad Memory by the Abbasids," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 61(2002): 241-65. See also Lindsay, "Caliphal and Moral Exemplar'?"

(18.) El-Hibri, "Redemption of Umayyad Memory," 242-45. See also Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 309, 317, citing El-Hibri. A discussion of the controversy around the succession to the caliphate with particular attention to the literary aspects of Abbasid historiography can be found in Tayeb El-Hibri, Parable and Politics in Early Islamic History: The Rashidan Caliphs (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2010).

(19.) TMD, 45: 124-274. For the lengths of biographies of early caliphs and Umayyads, see appendix E in Ibn Aseikir and Early Islamic History, 147-48.

(20.) A full treatment of Muawiya is available in R. Stephen Humphreys, Mutzwiya ihn Abl Sufycin: From Arabia to Empire (Oxford: Oneworld Press, 2006), esp. 40-41, where Humphreys discusses the controversy over Muawiya's conversion and Ibn Astilcir's handling of this issue.

(21.) Three Umayyad caliphs do not receive entries: Sulayman b. Abd al-Malik, Hisham b. Abd al-Malik, and Yazid b. al-Walid. Sulayman and Hisham's biographies are in Ibn Manzar's Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq Li-Ibn Asilkir, at about twelve and eight pages long, respectively. See Ihn Asakir and Early Islamic History', appendix E.

(22.) Lindsay, "Caliphal and Moral Exemplar?"

(23.) TMD, 63: 176.

(24.) Ibid., 167, 168, 179. The tension between al-Wand and Umar II, for example, is palpable in al-Wand's biography.

(25.) See, for example, Fred Donner's conclusions to much the same effect in his analysis of Ibn Asakir's treatment of Uthman, in Ibn Asair and Early Islamic History.

(26.) El2, Umar (II) b. Abd al-Aziz (P. Cobb), 10: 822a.

(27.) Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 285, where the three most distinguishing aspects of Umar II's reputation are said to have been his piety/virtue (which made him the fifth of the rashidun), his connection to Umar I, and his reputation as a mahdi or redeemer.

(28.) Regarding this restraint, "it was more likely his concern over the dwindling caliphal treasury that dictated his stance on military affairs," according to Cobb (El2, 10: 821b).

(29.) Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 318.

(30.) John Renard, Islam and the Heroic Image: Themes in Literature and the Visual Arts (Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1993), 11. Other aspects of heroic narratives found in the traditional biography of Umar II include formulaic elements such as being sent away as a child and physical "emblems of identity" signifying an important future. Ibid., 137, 140. Borrut (Entre memoire et pouvoir, 283ff.) likewise assesses the making of heroes in medieval historiography, with a focus on both Umar II and Maslama b. Abd al-Malik.

(31.) One of Nur al-Din's key institutional moves was the establishment of a school in Damascus "specifically for the purpose of hadith study," which Ibn Asakir directed. See James Lindsay, "Tbn AsaIcir (1105-1176): Muslim Historian and Advocate of Jihad," Middlebury College Working Paper (2003), 9-10.

(32.) TMD (1951 ed.). 1: 4, as cited by Zayde Antrim, "A Thirteenth-Century Fada'il Treatise on Syria and Damascus," Al-Usur al-Wusta 21 (October 2012): 5-7. See also Mourad and Lindsay. Intensification and Reorientation; Devin Stewart, "The Maqamiit of Ahmad b. Abi Bala b. Almnad al-Hanafi and the Ideology of the Counter-Crusade in Twelfth-Century Syria," Middle Eastern Literatures 11(2008): 211-32.

(33.) On TMD's political implications, see Lindsay's introduction to Ibn Astikir and Early Islamic History; idem, "Ibn Asakir (1105-1176)."

(34.) Lindsay, "Ibn Asakir (1105-1 176)," 9.

(35.) Discourses aimed at legitimizing the Utnayyads in the context of 'Abbasid agendas may, of course, have been a feature of an earlier era. See Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 306,316-17. Nonetheless, it should be noted that a text such as the 'Abbasid Akhbiir al-dawla did argue that 'Umar s caliphate conferred some legitimacy on the Umayyads, before "Sunnism" as such had been articulated.

(36.) Over the course of the fifth and sixth centuries C.E., "a series of Sunni warrior states, including most prominently the Seljuks, the Zangids, and the Ayyubids, reconquered most of the Islamic world under the control of Shiite dynasties between the mid-tenth and mid-eleventh centuries: The Seljuks ousted the Buyids, who had ruled over most of Iran and Iraq, capturing Baghdad in 447 A.H./1055 C.E.: they and the Zangids conquered Fatimid territories in Syria; Salat) al-Din eventually ousted the last Fatimid Caliph, after having served as vizier under him, in 567/1171." Stewart, "Maqamat," 211.

(37.) Cobb, in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, 125. Cobb noted how Ibn Asakir used a specific biography and the early example of the rebellion and "agent of fitna" Abu 1-Haydham al-Murri (d. 182 A.H.) as a vehicle for making clear his negative views of rebellion and fitna in general.

(38.) Ibid. Devin Stewart ("Macjamiit," 212) also noted Shiism's link to the first Crusades.

(39.) Stewart, "Macpmat," 211. On the term "Sunni revival," see Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003), 189ff. Berkey's discussion cites seminal contributions such as Richard Bulliet's Islam: The View from the Edge (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1994), George Makdisi's Ibn Aqil et la resurgence de l'Islam traditionaliste au Xie siecle (Ve siecle de l'hegire) (Damascus: Institut Francais de Damas, 1963), and idem. The Rise of the Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1981). See also George Makdisi, "The Sunni Revival," in Islamic Civilization 950-1150, ed. D. S. Richards (Oxford: Cassirer, 1973), 155-78.

(40.) See the references in n. 2, above.

(41.) Niall Christie, "Motivating Listeners in the Kitab al-Jihad of Ali ibn Tahir al-Sulami (d. 1106)," Crusades 6 (2007); Niall Christie and Deborah Gerish, "Parallel Preachings: Urban II and al-Sulami," Al-Masaq 15 (2003): 139-48. See also Paul Chevedden, "The Islamic View and the Christian View of the Crusades: A New Synthesis," History 93 (2008): 184.

(42.) Rasail al-qadi al-fadil. ed. Ali Najm Isa (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya. 2005), 75-77. Cf. Lindsay and Mourad, Intensification and Reorientation. On the ideological campaign waged by the Zangids and Ayyabids, see Daniella Talmon-Heller, Islamic Piety in Medieval Syria: Mosques, Cemeteries and Sermons under the Zangids and Ayylibids (1146-1260) (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 8-9. When it came to anti-Crusader propaganda, the co-option of Jesus into Muslim frameworks, for example, is one rather straightforward strategy Ibn Asakir devised; cf. Suleiman Mourad, in 1bn Asakir and Early Islamic History, 24-43.

43. E12, al-Faclil (C. Brockelmann, C. Cahen). The charged social and political context in which Ibn Asiikir assumed his role as an official advocate for jihad under the authority of a Sunni military and scholarly establishment shaped his work, much as it did other genres of writing that were explicitly dedicated to extolling the value and virtue of struggling against enemies within and without the Islamic fold. See Stewart, "Maqiimat," 212. Lindsay and Mourad have analyzed these issues in Ibn Asiikir's explicitly jihad-oriented works in Intensification and Reorientation. They note the influence of a number of scholars who had been "displaced" (by the Crusades) and whose perspectives likely affected Ibn Asakir.

44. The pseudo-Wayidi Futali al-Sham may also reflect a slightly later effect of this impulse. I am grateful to Stephen Humphreys for bringing all of these to my attention, and for his insightful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper.

(45.) For a list of the mainly contemporaneous authorities cited by Ibn cAsakir in his biography of Umar 11 and the number of reports attributed to each, see Fatima Abboushi, "Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz inda 1-muarrikhin al-muslimin hatta I-qarn al-sadis al-hijri," M.A. thesis 2009, Jamiat al-Najah al-Wataniyya, Nablus, 53-62.

46. See, for example, Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, 35, 43, 51.

(47.) Ibid., 76.

(48.) Ibid., 80-85. This is not to say that Ibn Sad was wholly unconcerned with Umar II's reputation as an ascetic; he also includes the alleged correspondence between the caliph and al-Hasan a1-Bari, on which see Mou-rad, Early Islam between Myth and History, esp. ch. 3. Cf. Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, 123. See also Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 309ff., on Umar II and the law.

(49.) Abboushi, Sirat Umar, 67-74. These include al-Awzai (d. 157/774), Sufyan b. Sad b. Masraq (d. 161/777), al-Hakam b. Umar al-Dimashyi (d. 173/789), al-Walid b. Muslim (d. 195/810), Parma b. Rabi (d. 202/817), Said b. Amir al-Basri (d. 208/823), Ibn Sad (d. 230/845), Ibrahim b. Hisham al-Ghassani (d. 238/853), al-Zubayr b. Bakkar (d. 252/866), and Yaqub b. Sufyan al-Fasawi (d. 277/890), the author of al-Mdrila wa-l-tarikh. Other similarly hagiographic portrayals of the caliph, such as Abil Nuaym al-Ixfahani's Ijilyat al-awliya, are likewise characterized by their lack of emphasis on Umar II's youth or his affairs as governor in Medina, concentrating more on his asceticism, piety, and the miraculous events that accompanied his caliphate.

(50.) Because so much of his work is taken from Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Malla also included a chapter on miraculous visions associated with Umar Il's rise to the caliphate. Cf. AbEi Nucaym al-Isfahani's biography of Umar II in Hilyat al-atvliya (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, 1997), 289-386.

(51.) For one report alleging correspondence with al-Awzai and possibly Makhul al-Shami, see TMD 45: 204. On Umar II as a unifier of political power and the ulema. see Crone and Hinds, God's Caliph, 2.

(52.) Crone and Hinds, God's Caliph, 147-48. Cf. Ibn Sad Tabaciat, 5: 368 (where Umar II is called muallim al-ulame), 374.

(53.) Al-Tabari, Tartkh al-rusul wa-l-muluk (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, 2008), 6: 408ff. The isnad for this portion of al-Tabari's text is Muhammad b. Umar--Dawud b. Khalid b. Dinar--Suhayl b. Abi Suhayl--Raja b. Haywa.

(54.) On Raja' h. Haywa's relationship to several Umayyads and his involvement in the accession of Umar II in particular, see C. E. Bosworth, "Raja b. Haywa al-Kindi and the Umayyad Caliphs," Islamic Quarterly 16 (1972): 36-80, reprinted in idem, Medieval Arabic Culture and Administration (London: Variorum Reprints), 1982. In this section I rely mainly on Bosworth's comparative analysis of sources that predate Ibn Asakir. Bosworth thoroughly outlines which earlier sources (such al-Waqidi and al-Madaini) are preserved by Ibn Sad and al-Tabari. He also summarizes a large amount of data from earlier studies on the accession of Umar II. See also W. Barthold, "The Caliph Umar IT and the Contradictory Information about His Personality," Islamic Quarterly 15 (1971): 69-95. For some implications of these and other earlier studies as summarized in recent scholarship. see Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 43,71-72,285ff.

(55.) Ibn Sad, Tabaqat, 410. As also noted by Bosworth, in Ibn Abd al-Hakam's rendition Hisham falls dramatically to his knees and yells "Ha!" He is only subdued when threatened with physical violence and assured that the will also named Yazid II as a successor to Umar 11.

(56.) The controversy over the timing of that correspondence is discussed by Bosworth, "Raja b. ljaywa," 69.

(57.) It is within this second wave of reports on the will and the actual naming of Umar II as caliph that Ibn Asakir inserted al-Tabari's version of events (with the same isnad).

(58.) Bosworth, "Raja b. Haywa," 52ff., 71-75, for references in the secondary literature on various aspects of this accession story.

(59.) A difference in copy has in some versions that he points to his fingernail (zufr) instead of his back (zahr), which is arguably less dramatic.

(60.) TMD, 45: 156.

(61.) Ibid.. 155. This time the possible resonance is with Ps 72:7: "In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more."

62. TMD, 45: 155.

(63.) The only other source to include miraculous visions before the accession scene is that of al-Malla, who was a contemporary of Ibn Asakir. From what we know about Mr al-Din's patronage of al-Malla's work, we will have to settle for concluding that this type of framing was common to both men and speculate that, as they died six years apart and shared a patron, al-Malla's format could have been borrowed from Ibn Asiikir or vice versa. TMD, 45: 134; cf. 155-56.

(64.) 1bn Abd al-Hakam. Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz. 31. Again, there are possible resonances here with Ps 72:7.

(65.) Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, 118.

(66.) Ibid., 28. For his part, Ibn Sad (Tabaqat, 5: 332) gave even that association with Muhammad a practical, rather than an allusive tinge: he clarified that Umar followed Muhammad's example in terms of the length of different prayers throughout the day, a theme attested in Malik's Muwatta. Cf. TMD, 45: 143-44. See also Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 312-13, for a chart listing traditions in the Muwalla' that link to Umar II.

(67.) Ibn Abd al-Hakam (Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, 27-28) does have Umar II behold a vision of al-Khidr that leads him to worry about his own future, but the content there is meant to emphasize Umar's reluctance to assume the caliphate.

(68.) TMD, 45: 161-62.

(69.) For Bosworth's discussion of this, see "Raja b. Haywa," 74-75.

(70.) Ibid.

(71.) On "burying" unfavorable reports, see Donner, in Ibn Asiikir and Early Islamic History, 58.

(72.) It is also Raji's suggestion that Sulayman appease his relatives by naming Yazid as the successor of Umar II in the same will.

(73.) Another major difference between Ibn Asakir's and Ibn Abd al-Hakam's versions of the accession to the caliphate has to do with whose decision it was to exclude Sulayman's sons from the office. In Ibn Abd al-Hakam's version, the decision is entirely Sulayman's. Other minor differences between the two compilers include elements such as whether Hisham was chastised before the reading of the will or after it. TMD, 45: 158ff.; Sirat Umar h. Abd al-Aziz, 31.

(74.) See the chapters by Donner and Judd. in Ibn Asakir and Early Islamic History, 93ff.

(75.) TMD, 45: 130. Earlier biographical sources make similar assertions. For example, Ibn Sa'd (Tabaqat, 5: 330) notes in the opening genealogical sequence of his biographical sketch that the caliph was born in the same year as the death of the Prophet's wife Maymitina. On Ibn 'Asakir's selective application of similar "familial facts" and the relationship of caliphs to the Prophet, see Donner, in Ibn 'Asakir and Early Islamic History.

(76.) TMD, 45: 133. On the tell-tale mark on the face of 'Umar II, cf. Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, 5: 331. See also Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 292 nn. 52, 53, for relevant references besides Ibn 'Asakir's TMD.

(77.) There is a variation within the report itself that suggests this vision may be linked not to the night on which cUmar II was born, but when he became caliph.

(78.) TMD, 45: 134. Cf. Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 291-92.

(79.) See Suleyman Bashear. "Riding on Divine Beasts," Journal of Semitic Studies 36 (1991): 50.

(80.) TMD, 45: 135,

(81.) Ibid. 136. At the end of the report about 'AIL Umar II vows never to repeat that error.

(82.) Ibid. 137. Cf. Ibn Sad, Tabatiat, 5: 330, where there is speculation as to which of 'Umar I's descendants might rule, though it occurs in a slightly different context.

(83.) TMD, 45: 137.

(84.) Ibid., 138. 85. This is a theme, as noted by both Lindsay and Donner, in Ibn 'Asakir and Early Islamic History.

(86.) On the exact meaning of this in terms of applying the sunna, see Crone and Hinds, God's caliph, 72-80.

(87.) TMD, 45: 141.

(88.) Ibid., 143.

(89.) Ibid., 143-44. Cf. Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, Sirat 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz, 28. On Ibn Sa'd's more pragmatic commentary on this description, see n. 66, above.

(90.) Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, ch. 5. See, for example, TMD, 45: 147.

(91.) TMD, 45: 187ff.

(92.) Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 291ff. For a succinct recital of various views of this issue, as well as one possibly held by 'Umar II himself, see Crone and Hinds, God's Caliph, 114. Other terms, such as fair, are also used interchangeably with mahdi in this portion of Ibn 'Asakir's TMD, for example, 45: 184.

(93.) TMD, 45: 155-65.

(94.) Ibid., 170.

(95.) Ibid., 166.

(96.) Ibid., 170.

(97.) Ibid., 171.

(98.) Ibid., 172.

(99.) Ibid. Cf. Ibn (Abd al-tlakam, Shot (Umar h. 'Abd al-'Aziz. 36.

(100.) TMD, 45: 173-74.

(101.) Ibid., 185-86. This is a minority view; see Mourad, in Ibn (Asiikir and Early Islamic History.

(102.) TMD, 45: 185.

(103.) 1bn al-Jawzi, Sira wa-numagib 'Umar b. 'Abd ai-'Aziz, 291. Cf. a1-Mall, al-Kitiib al-jam'i, 26.

(104.) TMD, 45: 184-85.

(105.) For other elements contributing to messianic expectations and 'Umar II, see Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, ch. 6, especially 290ff. Fre-Ibn 9tsakir permutations of 'Umar H's image did exist, particularly once messianic expectations failed to be fulfilled, which tended to shift focus from 'Umar II as redeemer to 'Umar 11 as a renewer of religion (mujaddid). ibid., 296,316.

(106.) TMD, 45: 187.

(107.) Ibid.

(108.) Ibid., 189.

(109.) The same may be said about other eschatological themes, including a well-known one regarding the reigns of twelve righteous caliphs (Ibn 'Asiikir concludes that 'Umar II was not one of them). Ibid.

(110.) Ibn Sad. Tabaqiit, 5: 333.

(111.) TMD. 45: 191. In Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam's Sirat Tmar b. 5Abd al-'Aziz, we have one report of 'Umar II rejecting even the title khalifat Allah ft l-ard, on the grounds that in a Quranic verse that nomenclature referred only to the Prophet David. In Ibn 'Asakir's text a similar point is made: TMD, 45: 183-84. See Crone and Hinds' discussion of this issue, God's Caliph, 13 n. 19.

(112.) TMD, 45: 179-81. Cf. Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Sirat 'Umar b. 'Abel al-'Aziz, 52, where this incident is placed, by contrast, in a sequence on radd

(113.) TMD, 45: 180. On the variations of this report, some of which seem to have originally attributed the change of course to 'Umar b. al-Khattab, see Borrut, Entre memoire et pouvoir, 289-90. In Ibn (Abd al-Hakam's biography of 'Umar II, and in numerous other sources including al-Tabari, al-Baradhuri. and Ibn al-Jawii, the theme of the caliph upsetting his family members by depriving them of what they considered their material due is prevalent as well.

(114.) TMD, 45: 175. The editor of the 1995 edition of the TMD notes that this incident is remarked upon by al-Dhahabi, who considered it strange, "for who could be greater than 'Umar b. al-Khattia?" Ibid.. 175 n. 2.

(115.) Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, Sirat 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz. 103-4.

(116.) TMD. 45: 193. Cf. Ibn Sad, Tabaqiit, 5: 330; Ibn al-Jawn, Sira wa-manaqib 'Umar b. 'Abd a1-'Aziz, with a different isnad.

(117.) TMD. 45: 193. Other hagiographical themes follow this section of the biography: the ulema all learned from 'Umar 11 instead of vice versa, he was beloved by God and people alike, etc.

(118.) Ibid., 191. For the series of reports linking 'Umar II to the earlier caliphs, see ibid., 192-93.

(119.) Ibid., 246-47. This account does not appear in Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, but it is in Ibn al-Jawzi (pp. 284-85). Interestingly, this account also includes a brief mention of Jesus's presence at this gathering, perhaps in another anti-Crusader move or simply as a statement of prophetic continuity.

(120.) Donner, in lbn 'Asakir and Early Islamic History, 54 n. 33, citing TMD, 39: 133-34,149-51. Note that 'Ali is omitted altogether.

(121.) Ibn al-Jawzi, Sira wa-maniacilb 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz. 283.

(122.) This example of 'Umar II as arbiter is in direct contrast, for example, with Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam's account (Sirat 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz. 110) of a conversation with two of the Itharijites who meet with the caliph and recognize his legitimacy but ask him to curse his family, including, presumably, ithmdn. 'Umar II refuses, on the grounds that if "cursing people who commit sins is obligatory, there would be no end to it."Other incidents on 'Umar ll's minority opinion (and conflict with al-Hajjaj) regarding the Kharijites, namely, that they should be imprisoned rather than killed, are likewise noted by Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam (115-16).

(123.) TMD, 45: 194-95.

(124.) Ibid., 212.

(125.) Ibid., 217. Similar reports in 1bn Sad place these descriptions of abstemious leadership in the context of pragmatic financial reform.

(126.) Ibid., 197.

(127.) On the tropes of Fatima's domesticity and poverty, see Mary E Thurlkill, Chosen among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shicite Islam (Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2007).

(128.) Cf. Ibn Sad, Tabagat, 5: 401. A comparison of how various authors portray aspects of 'Umar H's piety is a subject I am exploring in a separate study.

(129.) For Maslama's biography according to Ibn 'Asakir, see TMD, 58: 27-46. For a recent comparison of 'Umar II and Maslarna in earlier historiography, see Borrut, Entre tndmoire Cr pouvoir, chs. 5,6.

(130.) Ibn 'Abd Sirat 'Umar b. 'Abd al-4:i:, 43 (the rendition of this incident occurs relatively early on in the biography).

(131.) TMD, 45: 211.

(132.) Ibid., 220. Cf. Ibn 'Abd al-klakarn, Sirat 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz., 133.

(133.) TMD,45: 237.

(134.) Ibid., 2421T.

(135.) The transference applied to 'Ali in some accounts, but in others 'Ali was overshadowed, excluded, or (as in the palace anecdote above) simply demoted. In the relaying of another vision of a chain dangling from the sky, which Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and 'Umar I use to ascend to heaven, 'Ali is omitted though it is implied that 'Umar II is the fifth caliph. TMD, 45: 249.


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