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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
'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.
Ibn 'AsAkir then presents us with another situation in which a young 'Umar II is afflicted, this time emotionally.
It is difficult to ascertain precisely why Ibn 'Asakir has structured this part of 'Umar II's biography in this way.
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.