The Companions r.a.
Hazrat Umar r.a.
Jalees Ahmad, London, UK
Born: 584. Mecca, Arabia
Full name: Umar Ibn Al-Khattab
Father: Khattab Ibn Nufayl
Tribe: Quraish (Banu Adi)
Hazrat Umarra was born 13years after ‘Aam-ul-Fil – year of the Elephant. He was 13 years younger than the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and was among one of the respected tribes of Mecca.
Illiteracy was common in the pre-Islamic era; not many knew how to read or write and would rely solely on memory. Hazrat Umarra however, was among the few who had learnt to read and write in his youth.
When the Holy Prophetsa was commissioned by God to spread the teachings of Islam, Hazrat Umarra, like many others in Mecca, opposed Islam. When the people of Mecca continued to persecute the Muslims, the Holy Prophetsa ordered some of the Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia. When Hazrat Umarra heard of this he was concerned and angry due to the division caused within the Quraish and as a result decided to kill the Holy Prophetsa.
Acceptance of Islam
Hazrat Umarra left his house, sword in hand, with the intent to kill the Holy Prophetsa. As he made his way, he saw Naeem Bin Abdullah who asked Hazrat Umarra where he was heading off to and what his intentions were. Hazrat Umarra replied that he was going out to kill the Holy Prophetsa. Naeem Bin Abdullah told Hazrat Umarra to first enquire about his own household members, as his sister, Fatimahra, and her husband had accepted Islam. Enraged at hearing this, he stormed off in the direction of his sister’s house.
He found them reciting the Holy Quran. Witnessing this Hazrat Umarra, unable to contain himself, began quarrelling with his brother-in-law. As things escalated quickly, his sister tried to stop them and by doing so Hazrat Umar’sra hand struck her face causing her to bleed. When Hazrat Umarra saw what he had done, he stopped immediately and told them to leave Islam, upon which they replied in the negative and said to him, “You may kill us but we will never leave.”
Hearing this Hazrat Umarra calmed down and asked his sister to recite a few verses from the Quran. The verses recited before Hazrat Umarra were from Surah Taha or Surah Al-Hadid.
Hearing these verses Hazrat Umarra began to weep and said that surely those were the words of Allah, the One God. After this, Hazrat Umarra rushed directly to the Holy Prophetsa with the same sword he had intended to kill him with. However, instead, he accepted Islam.
In Ahadith, we find that the Holy Prophetsa prayed to Allah saying,
“O Allah, strengthen Islam with one of two men whom you love more: Amr ibn Hisham [Abu Jahl] or Umar ibn Al-Khattab.” (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi)
Thus, it was due to the prayer of the Holy Prophetsa that God’s decree came into effect.
Hazrat Umarra embracing Islam gave confidence and granted power to the Muslims in Mecca.
Though Hazrat Umarra accepted Islam, the disbelievers of Mecca continued to persecute the Muslims. They started gathering around Hazrat Umar’sra home and raised slogans saying, “Umar has no religion.”
Witnessing this Aas Ibn Wail, who was a relative of Hazrat Umar, told Hazrat Umarra to stay with him as he would be safe. Hazrat Umarra remained and said that he did not deem it appropriate to seek refuge whilst his Muslim brothers had to face the persecution.
Facing the persecution head on, Hazrat Umarra requested the Holy Prophetsa to lead the congregational prayer at the Ka‘bah. Upon this, the Holy Prophetsa gathered all the Muslims and prayed openly for the first time at Masjid Al-Haram. The Holy Prophetsa gave Hazrat Umarra the title Al-Faruq – the one who distinguishes from right and wrong.
The many services Hazrat Umarra rendered as the Khalifa are reflections of his life as a successful leader. Under his leadership, Islam spread rapidly by virtue of the beautiful teachings, simplicity and moral conduct found within the core of Islam.
It was commonly known among all people present at the time of Hazrat Umar’sra leadership, that he would strictly follow the principle of equality and justice. People of different faiths were all able to co-exist together and all were given the freedom to practice their religion openly. This then opened the door for people to see the true essence of Islam and the conversion of many high religious personalities, as they saw Islam as a continuation of the Abrahamic faith.
During his Khilafat, Hazrat Umarra introduced the system of Shura (Consultative Body), Bait-ul-Mal (Treasury), discipline among fellow countrymen and many more successful endeavours.
On multiple occasions, the Quran addresses the purpose of man’s creation and says that man was created so that he may worship his Creator. We find a narration regarding Hazrat Umar’sra excellent example of worship.
Once after the Conquest of Mecca, Hazrat Umarra asked the Holy Prophetsa if he could spend one night alone at Masjid Al-Haram. The Holy Prophetsa granted him permission and also told him to remember him in his prayers.
Acceptance of Prayer
Hazrat Umar’sra belief in God and acceptance was so strong and firm that on many occasions, companions narrated that Hazrat Umarra would ask children to pray for him because in God’s eyes all children were free from sin.
Before his conversion to Islam, Hazrat Umar’sra character and status was known all throughout Mecca. Now, the whole world knows him as one of the most powerful and influential persons to walk this earth. He was a true and just leader and showed respect to all, regardless of their faith. He had a personality that inspired many people; to date his name is echoed throughout history.