DAMSCUS — Militias fighting alongside the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad opened, burnt, and desecrated the grave of the eighth Umayyad Caliph Umar bin Abdulaziee located in the north-west province of Idlib this week. His body has been taken to an unknown place.
Umar bin Abdulazeez was a Tabiee (companion of the companions of the Holy Prophet) and ruled from 99-101 AH.
Video footage of the destruction emerged on social media showing the graves of the Caliph, his wife, and his servant damaged and the bodies exhumed and disappeared.
The graves located in the village of Deir Al-Sharqi in the area of Maarat Al-Nu’man are seen to be burnt following its capture by the regime and militia forces in February this year.
Another video showed the desecrated grave opened and emptied. No information was available about the location to which the buried remains were moved.
According to the Turkish news organization Daily Sabah, no information on the location of the Caliph’s remains has been revealed yet. Umar Ibn Abdulazeez, who was a descendent of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and second Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, is highly respected in the Muslim world as a ruler who enforced justice throughout his short reign of two years and five months in the 8th century.
In February, regime forces set fire to the area around the shrine when they took control of the town, causing material damage.
Fifth rightly-guided Caliph
Umar bin Abdulazeez was extremely pious and disdainful of worldly luxuries. He preferred simplicity to the extravagance that had become a hallmark of the Umayyad lifestyle, depositing all assets and finery meant for the caliph into the public treasury. He abandoned the Khalifal palace and instead preferred to live in modest dwellings. He wore rough linens instead of royal robes, and often went unrecognised.
His reputation, especially notable amid the Umayyad dynasty which many have seen as largely corrupt and decadent, earned him the title of “the fifth rightly-guided Caliph”.
The Umayyads were the first Muslim dynasty, established in 661 in Damascus. Their dynasty succeeded in the leadership of the first four caliphs — Abū Bakr, ʿUmar I, ʿUthmān, and ʿAlī.
Assad regime loyalists have been exhuming graves after conquering territories.
Soldiers play with skulls
In February, videos surfaced showing regime forces and militias desecrating graves of numerous opposition fighters and commanders buried in Sunni areas, with other videos showing Syrian soldiers playing with the skulls of exhumed bodies. Similar scenes were also reportedly witnessed back in 2015 when regime forces exhumed dozens of graves in Homs and stole the corpses.
(With media inputs)