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`Umar ibn al-Khattāb ( 584 - 644) (Arabic: عمر بن الخطاب ) is regarded by Sunni Muslims as the second of the four Khulafā' ar-Rashīdīn ('rightfully-guided caliphs'). He was from the Banu Adi clan of the Quraysh tribe.  Muslim tradition asserts that he converted when he heard the recitation of the Quran in the house of his sister. He became a staunch supporter of Muhammad and the Islamic cause. He participated in military expeditions and was among Muhammad's most trusted advisors. When Muhammad died in 622, Umar supposedly compelled Abu-Bakr to become Caliph.

Abu Bakr appointed Umar to succeed him on his deathbed in 634. Umar defeated the Persians in Iraq and Iran, destroying the Sassanid dynasty and inheriting its empire. Umar also defeated the Byzantines in Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Umar is also credited with initiating financial institutions and many other legislative innovations.  He was assassinated in 644 by a slave.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:  Omar

Further Information: See History of Islam and the Arabs Islam

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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