The basic administrative system of the Dar al-Islamiyyah (The House of Islam) was laid down in the days of the Prophet. Caliph Abu Bakr stated in his sermon when he was elected: "If I order any thing that would go against the order of Allah and his Messenger; then do not obey me". This is considered to be the foundation stone of the Caliphate. Caliph Umar has been reported to have said: "O Muslims, straighten me with your hands when I go wrong", and at that instance a Muslim man stood up and said "O Amir al-Mu'minin (Leader of the Believers) if you are not straightened by our hands we will use our sword to straighten you!". Hearing this Caliph Umar said "Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) I have such followers."
In the administrative field Caliph Umar was the most brilliant among the Rashidun Caliphs, it was his dazzling administrative qualities because of which the most of the administrative structure of the empire was established. Under Caliph Abu Bakr, the empire was not clearly divided into provinces, though it had many administrative districts, like:
Under Umar the Empire was divided into a number of provinces which were as follows:
- Arabia was divided into two provinces, Mecca and Medina;
- Iraq was divided into two provinces, Basra and Kufa;
- the province of Jazira was created in the upper reaches of the Tigris and the Euphrates;
- Syria was a province;
- Palestine was divided in two provinces: Aylya and Ramlah;
- Egypt was divided into two provinces: Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt;
- Persia was divided into three provinces: Khorasan, Azarbaijan, and Fars.
In his testament, Caliph Umar had instructed his successor not to make any change in the administrative set up for one year after his death. Thus for one year Uthman maintained the pattern of political administration as it stood under Umar, however later he made some amendments. Uthman made Egypt one province and created a new province comprising North Africa. Syria, previously divided into two provinces, also become a single division. During Uthman’s reign the empire was divided into twelve provinces. These were:
- North Africa
Caliph Ali, during his reign, with the exception of Syria (which was under Muawiyah I's control) and Egypt (that he lost during late years of his caliphate to the rebel troops of Amr ibn Al-A'as), ruled the remaining ten provinces, which kept their administrative organization as under Caliph Uthman.
The provinces were further divided into districts. Each of the 100 or more districts of the empire, along with the main cities, were administered by a Governor or Wāli. Other officers at the provincial level were:
- Katib, the Chief Secretary.
- Katib-ud-Diwan, the Military Secretary.
- Sahib-ul-Kharaj, the Revenue Collector.
- Sahib-ul-Ahdath, the Police chief.
- Sahib-ul-Bait-ul-Mal, the Treasury Officer.
- Qadi, the Chief Judge.
In some districts there were separate military officers, though the Governor (Wali) was in most cases the Commander-in-chief of the army quartered in the province.
The officers were appointed by the Caliph. Every appointment was made in writing. At the time of appointment an instrument of instructions was issued with a view to regulating the conduct of Governors. On assuming office, the Governor was required to assemble the people in the main mosque, and read the instrument of instructions before them.
Umar's general instructions to his officers were:
|“||"Remember, I have not appointed you as commanders and tyrants over the people. I have sent you as leaders instead, so that the people may follow your example. Give the Muslims their rights and do not beat them lest they become abused. Do not praise them unduly, lest they fall into the error of conceit. Do not keep your doors shut in their faces, lest the more powerful of them eat up the weaker ones. And do not behave as if you were superior to them, for that is tyranny over them."||”|
During the reign of Caliph Abu Bakr, the state was economically weak, while during Umar’s reign because of increase in revenues and other sources of income, the state was on its way to economic prosperity. Hence Umar felt it necessary that the officers be treated in a strict way as to prevent the possible greed for money that may lead them to corruption. During his reign, at the time of appointment, every officer was required to make the oath:
- That he would not ride a Turkic horse (which was a symbol of pride).
- That he would not wear fine clothes.
- That he would not eat sifted flour.
- That he would not keep a porter at his door.
- That he would always keep his door open to the public.
Caliph Umar himself followed the above postulates strictly. During the reign of Uthman the state become more economically prosperous than ever before; the allowance of the citizens was increased by 25% and the economical condition of the ordinary person was more stable, which lead Caliph Uthman to revoke the 2nd and 3rd postulates of the oath. At the time of appointment a complete inventory of all the possessions of the person concerned was prepared and kept in record. If there was an unusual increase in the possessions of the office holder, he was immediately called to account, and the unlawful property was confiscated by the State. The principal officers were required to come to Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj, during which people were free to present any complaint against them. In order to minimize the chances of corruption, Umar made it a point to pay high salaries to the staff. Provincial governors received as much as five to seven thousand dirham´s annually besides their share of the spoils of war (if they were also the commander in chief of the army of their sector).
Read more about this topic: Rashidun Caliphate
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