Friday Sermon – Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umar r.a. ibn al-Khattab (19 November 2021)

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Friday Sermon

19 November 2021

Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umarra ibn al-Khattab

After reciting the tashahudta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:

Whilst mentioning the previous condition of the Companions and the revolutionary transformation that took place in them after accepting Islam, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has mentioned Hazrat Umarra as one example thereof. I have mentioned this previously, but I shall mention it once more in relation to this. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:

“Observe how they became the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa and attained such lofty ranks. They achieved this by striving to their utmost; otherwise, they were the same people who previously were sworn enemies of the Holy Prophetsa and would hurl abuse at him. Hazrat Umarra, who became the second caliph after the Holy Prophetsa, was such a staunch opponent of the Holy Prophetsa in the early days that he even left his home in order to kill him. He met someone on the way who asked where he was heading, to which he responded, ‘I am going to kill Muhammad[sa].’ The man then said, ‘First go and kill your sister and brother-in-law who have become Muslims, then kill Muhammad[sa].’ 

“After hearing this, he became enraged and made his way towards his sister’s home. As he approached he saw the door closed. Someone was reciting the Holy Quran and his sister and brother-in-law were listening to it. At the time, the commandment regarding the veil had not yet been revealed”, which is why the companion was sat inside. “Hazrat Umarra knocked on the door and demanded for it be opened. Having heard his voice, those inside the house became frightened that he may kill them. They, therefore, did not open the door. Hazrat Umarra then said, ‘If you do not open the door I will break it down.’ They then hid the Muslim who was reciting the Holy Quran and the brother-in-law also hid, leaving only his sister to go and open the door. 

“Hazrat Umarra asked, ‘What were you doing? Who is the person who was reciting something?’ In fear of him, she tried to change the subject. Hazrat Umarra said, ‘Whoever was reciting should recite to me also.’ His sister answered, ‘You will dishonour it, so we shall not recite it to you even if you kill us.’ Hazrat Umarra replied, ‘I swear that I shall not dishonour it’”, i.e. he would not disrespect the Holy Quran. 

“Thereupon, the Holy Quran was recited to him and upon hearing it, Hazrat Umarra began to weep and ran to the Holy Prophetsa with the sword in hand. Seeing him, the Holy Prophetsa said, ‘Umar, what is the matter? How long will this go on?’ Hearing this Hazrat Umarra wept and said, ‘I set out in order to kill you, but I myself have been stricken.’”

This was the summary of the lengthy incident which has previously been mentioned. 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:

“This was the previous state of the Companions after which they completely transformed. There were companions who would drink wine and fight amongst themselves”, i.e. referring to some of the other companions, “and they possessed all kinds of weaknesses. Yet when they accepted the Holy Prophetsa, and strove their utmost for their faith, they not only reached a lofty status, they also became the means through which others were able to attain a high rank. They were not born as companions, for they were like everybody else, yet it was their actions and the determination which transformed them into becoming the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa. If we do the same today, we can also become like the companions.” (Auraton ka Deen se Waqif hona Zururi hai, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 4, pp. 38-39)

With regard to how much Hazrat Umarra feared Allah the Almighty, there is a narration in which Hazrat Umarra stated, “Even if a goat perishes on the edge of the Euphrates River, I am fearful that Allah the Almighty will hold me accountable for it on the Day of Judgement.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ibn al-Juzi, p. 140, al-Matba‘ah al-Misriyyah, al-Azhar)

In another narration, it is mentioned that Hazrat Umarra said, “If a camel perishes on the edge of the Euphrates River, I am fearful that Allah the Almighty will question me about it on the Day of Judgement.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], 232.)

Hazrat Anasra bin Malik narrates:

“One day, I was outside with Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab when he entered a garden. There was a wall between myself and Hazrat Umarra. He was inside the garden. At the time I heard Hazrat Umarra say [to himself], ‘O son of Khattab, bravo! You have become the Leader of the Faithful! By Allah you ought to fear God; otherwise, He will most certainly punish you!’” (Muwatta Imam Malik, Kitab al-Kalam wa al-Ainah wa al-Tuqa, p. 601, Riwayah number 1867, Maktabah Dar al-Fikr, Beirut)

The following was engraved on Hazrat Umar’sra ring: 

كَفَى‭ ‬بِالْمَوْتِ‭ ‬وَاعِظًا‭ ‬يَا‭ ‬عُمَرُ

meaning, “O Umar! Death is enough to admonish a person.” (Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifat al-Ashab, Vol. 3, Bab Harf al-Ain, Umar bin al-Khattab [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2002], p. 236)

That is, if a person always keeps death in mind, then that is enough as an admonishment and enough to reform oneself.

Abdullah bin Shaddad states, “I heard Hazrat Umarra crying profusely while I was standing in the last row [for prayers] He was reciting the following verse: 

إِنَّمَآ‭ ‬أَشۡكُوْا‭ ‬بَثِّيْ‭ ‬وَحُزۡنِيْ‭ ‬إِلَى‭ ‬اللّٰهِ

“‘I only complain of my sorrow and my grief to Allah.’ [Ch.12: V.87]” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Adhan, Bab idha Baka al-Imam fi al-Salah) 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh once mentioned this narration in a sermon. He mentioned some more details of this incident in his own words as follows:

“Hazrat Abdullah bin Shaddad states, ‘Once Hazrat Umarra was leading prayers and I was standing in the last row. However, I could hear Hazrat Umar’sra fervent prayers and intense emotions and he was reciting the following verse: 

إِنَّمَآ‭ ‬أَشۡكُوْا‭ ‬بَثِّيْ‭ ‬وَحُزۡنِيْ‭ ‬إِلَى‭ ‬اللّٰهِ

Meaning “I complain of all my sorrows and anguishes before Allah. I do not need to complain to anyone else.”’ Thus, those people who remain occupied in the remembrance of Allah, do not find anywhere to express their pain and anguish and to alleviate their worries other than God’s threshold. The narrator states that he was in the last row, but he heard Hazrat Umar’sra fervent prayers and lamentations.” (Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 13, pp. 248-249)

How did Hazrat Umarra look after those who had rendered services for the faith for a long time and offered sacrifices? Regarding this, Tha‘labah bin Abi Malik states:

“Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab was distributing shawls to the women of Medina. Out of these good-quality shawls, one remained.  From among the people there, one of them said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! Give it to the daughter of the Holy Prophetsa, who is with you [in marriage].’” He was referring to Hazrat Umm Kulthumra, the daughter of Hazrat Alira

“Hazrat Umarra said, ‘No, Umm Salit is more deserving.’ Hazrat Umarra further said, ‘Hazrat Umm Salit is from among those women of the Ansar who pledged allegiance to the Holy Prophetsa. She used to carry water bags for us during the Battle of Uhud.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Bab Dhikr Umm Salit, Hadith 4071) 

There is also mention in the narrations about how Hazrat Umarra would bestow favours on the relatives of those who offered sacrifices. Zaid bin Aslam narrates on the authority of his father:

“I went to the market with Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab. A young woman came from behind and greeted Hazrat Umarra and said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! My husband has passed away, leaving behind young children. By Allah, they do not even have sheep trotters [to eat]. They do not have any land to harvest nor any animal that gives milk. I fear lest they succumb to famine. I am the daughter of Khufaf bin Ima Al-Ghifari; my father was present with the Holy Prophetsa during the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah.’ 

“Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umarra stopped where he was and did not proceed further. Hazrat Umarra said, ‘That is wonderful! Such a close relation.’ Then Hazrat Umarra left and returned with a strong and healthy camel which was tied at his home. He loaded two sacks of grain on it; between the two sacks he placed enough money and clothes that would last them for an entire year. He then gave the reins of the camel to the woman and said, ‘Take this. This will not have finished by which time Allah will grant you more.’ A person said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! You have given a lot to this woman.’ Hazrat Umarra replied, ‘May your mother mourn for you’”, i.e. he expressed his displeasure. “‘By Allah! I can still see her father and her brother before me, and how they managed to besiege a fort for a long time and eventually capture it. After that in the morning we divided their portions between us.’ i.e. the fort was conquered by both of them, for which all the Muslims received the spoils of war from it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Bab Ghazwat Hudaibiyah, Hadith 4160, 4161) 

In other words, they all took a share from their portion [of the spoils]. This was the reason why she deserved all of the wealth given to her.

With regard to how Hazrat Umarra would look after the elderly, physically impaired and poor men and women, there is a narration in which Hazrat Talhara states that one night he saw Hazrat Umarra leave his house in the darkness of the night. Hazrat Umarra entered one house and then another. 

The next morning, Hazrat Talhara went to one of the two houses where he found a blind elderly woman sitting down. Hazrat Talhara asked her, “The man that visited last night, what does he come here to do?” The elderly woman replied, “He has been helping me for quite some time. He completes my work for me and cleans up.” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Talhara said to himself in regret, “O Talha! May your mother mourn for you! Woe be unto you! You went in search of an error on Umar’s part, but the matter is something completely different.” (Ibn al-Juzi, Sirat Umar al-Khattab [Al-Azhar, Egypt: al-Matba‘ah al-Misriyyah], p. 58)

These were the extraordinary standards of service to one’s people that were established by Hazrat Umarra.

There are many narrations which demonstrate that Hazrat Umarra looked after the poor, women and children, and how owing to his fear of Allah, he would support them and become anxious to help. If he would see that someone’s needs from among his people were not being fulfilled, he would become restless as a result of it. 

I have mentioned some examples in the previous Friday Sermons in reference to certain matters. For example, on one occasion, Hazrat Umarra asked a woman why her child was crying, to which she replied that since Umarra did not fix a ration for suckling babies, she was trying to ween him and had stopped giving him milk, and so he was crying out of hunger. Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umarra became restless and immediately arranged for her food provisions. He then announced that from then on, every new-born child would be assigned a ration. (Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 10 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Hijr, 1997] pp. 185-186)

Similarly, a woman who was travelling, did not have any food and had to camp for the night. Her children were crying out of hunger. In the night, when Hazrat Umarra learned of this, he became worried; he immediately went to the store and took food provisions himself to her. He was not content until he cooked the food, fed the children and they began to laugh and play. Only then did he leave from there. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 5, Thumma Dakhalat Sanah Thalath Ishrin/Dhikr Ba‘d Siyarih [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Fikr, 1998], p. 62)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“Just look at the example of Hazrat Umarra. On the one hand, the renowned kings of the world were in awe of his power and might, the Byzantine and Persian Empires quaked in fear of him, but on the other hand, the mighty Umar becomes anxious and worried on seeing the hungry children of a Bedouin woman. He places a bag of flour on his back and with a pot of clarified butter in his hand, he goes to see the woman and does not leave until he cooks food with his own hands and feeds it to those children and they eventually fall asleep.” (Sair-e-Ruhani, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 22, p. 596)

There is an incident that has been related by Ibn Umarra. When Hazrat Umarra returned from Syria to Medina, he separated from the others in order to enquire about the people (i.e. he separated himself from the caravan in order to enquire about the conditions of the people). He passed by an elderly woman who was in her tent. He began enquiring about her situation to which she replied, “What has Umar done?” Hazrat Umarra replied, “He is here, he has returned from Syria.” 

The woman said, “May Allah not bestow any goodness upon him from me.” Hazrat Umarra replied, “Woe be unto you, why?” (i.e. why would she say such a thing?) She replied, “Ever since he has become the Khalifa, I have not received a single allowance; neither a dinar, nor a dirham from him.” Hazrat Umarra said, “Alas! How would Umar know of your condition when you are living in a remote place far away near the jungle?” 

The elderly lady did not know that she was speaking to Hazrat Umarra. To this, she replied, “Holy is Allah! I do not believe that someone can be appointed to rule over the people and he remains heedless of what is happening around him.” Hazrat Umarra began to cry and said, “Woe to you, O Umar! How many similar complainants will there be, each one of them understands faith more than you!” 

Hazrat Umarra then said to her, “How much do you seek in recompense for the injustice done against you? I would like to save him from the Hellfire.” (That is, he would like to save Hazrat Umarra from the Hellfire) and enquired how much it would take to make amends for this injustice. She said, “Do not mock me? May Allah have mercy on you.” Hazrat Umarra replied that he was not mocking her and kept on insisting to tell him, until he managed to pay 25 dinars as recompense for the injustice done against her. 

They were in the middle of this conversation when Hazrat Alira bin Abi Talib and Hazrat Abdullahra bin Mas‘ud arrived and said, “Peace be upon you, O Leader of the Faithful!” Upon this, the woman placed her hands on her head and said, “May Allah have mercy on me! I spoke ill in front of the Leader of the Faithful!” Hazrat Umarra then said, “No blame lies on you; may God have mercy on you.” 

Hazrat Umarra then asked for a leather parchment to write on but could not find one. He then ripped a piece of his cloak and wrote on it, “In the name of Allah, the Gracious, Ever Merciful. This manuscript is formed between Umar and such and such woman and affirms that all the injustices committed against her from the time he became leader until today has been compensated for with 25 dinars. Now if she stands before Allah on the Day of Resurrection and makes any claim, Umar is absolved from it. Ali bin Abi Talib and Abdullah bin Mas‘ud are a witness to this.” 

He then gave this parchment to Hazrat Alira and said, “If I pass away before you, then place this inside my grave.” (Izalat al-Khafa ‘an Khilafat al-Khulafa [Translated], Vol. 3, pp. 276-278, Manaqib Faruq A‘zam, Qadimi Kutub Khana, Karachi)

We often find that people have very high standards when it comes to settling the marriages of their children. However, what were the standards that Hazrat Umarra took into consideration. In relation to this, there is a narration reported by Hazrat Aslamra who was a freed slave of Hazrat Umarra. He states, “One night I was walking in the company of Hazrat Umarra near the outskirts of Medina. In order to rest for a short while, Hazrat Umarra sat beside a wall of a house. The elderly lady inside the house could be heard saying to her daughter, ‘Wake up and add water to the milk.’ 

“Upon this, she replied, ‘Have you not heard the announcement that was issued by the Leader of the Faithful that one should not mix water into milk?’ The mother replied, ‘Neither is the Leader of the Faithful present here, nor the person who made the announcement for him.’ The girl replied, ‘By God, it does not behove us that we show obedience when we are present before him and show disobedience in his absence.’ 

“Hazrat Umarra was extremely happy upon hearing this and stated” to his companion, “‘O Aslam! Leave a mark on their door.’ The next day, Hazrat Umarra sent someone and sought the girl’s hand in marriage to be settled with his son, Asim.” Upon witnessing the truthfulness and piety of this girl, Hazrat Umarra settled the marriage of his son, Asim with that girl. Later, Asim had a daughter with her and Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz was from the progeny of that girl. (Izalat al-Khafa ‘an Khilafat al-Khulafa [Translated], Vol. 3, pp. 281-282, Manaqib Faruq A‘zam, Qadimi Kutub Khana, Karachi)

In one narration, Salama relates:

“On one occasion, I was walking through the marketplace and Hazrat Umarra was also passing by in order to attend to some work of his and he was holding a whip in his hand. Hazrat Umarra stated, ‘O Salama! Walk to one side of the path.’ He then lightly hit me with the whip which tapped the corner of my garment. I moved to one side and Hazrat Umarra remained silent. A year had passed since that incident and I met Hazrat Umarra once again in the marketplace. Hazrat Umarra stated, ‘O Salama! Do you intend to go for Hajj this year?’ I replied, ‘Yes, O Leader of the Faithful.’ Hazrat Umarra then took hold of my hand and took me to his home. He then took out a small pouch with 600 dirhams inside it and stated, ‘O Salama, use this to fulfil any needs you may have and this is in retribution for when I hit you with a whip one year ago.’” 

Hazrat Salama states, “Upon this, I submitted, ‘O Leader of the Faithful, I had completely forgotten about that incident and only today you have reminded me of this.’” (Ibn al-Juzi, Sirat Umar al-Khattab [Al-Azhar, Egypt: al-Matba‘ah al-Misriyyah], p. 98)

Hazrat Umarra would also monitor the market prices so that neither party’s rights as citizens of the land were affected. 

Mentioning this, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“Among the rights of the citizens is that the trade and dealings should not be adversely impacted. We find that Islam has not overlooked this right and therefore has prohibited one from increasing the market price and selling at a higher price. Similarly, it has also prohibited one from significantly reducing the prices in order to cause loss to others and making their businesses fail”, just as we see in the markets today.

“Once, a trader was selling grapes in Medina at such a price which other traders could not afford to sell at. Hazrat Umarra was walking by at the time and admonished the trader because owing to this act of his, the other traders were suffering loss. Thus, Islam has prohibited one from selling products at an extremely high price and also from significantly reducing the prices, so that neither the traders are faced with loss and nor the members of the public.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, p. 307)

Amir relates that a person once came to Hazrat Umarra and stated:

“I have a daughter who had been buried alive during the era of jahiliyyah [era prior to the advent of Islam]; however, I took her out before she passed away. Later, when she accepted Islam, she was prescribed one of the punishments which Allah the Almighty has ordained.” She was guilty of wrongdoing as a result of which she received a punishment. 

“Subsequently, she took a knife in order to take her own life but I quickly took hold of her; however, she had managed to cut some of her veins. I then treated her until she fully recovered and she then sincerely repented. O Leader of the Faithful, I am now receiving messages asking for her hand in marriage; however, should I inform them of the previous incidents that took place in her life and what she did?” In response to this individual, Hazrat Umarra stated, “Will you disclose those faults of hers which Allah the Almighty has concealed? By God, if you ever reveal those details to anyone, I shall punish you in front of the entire city in a manner which will serve as a great warning. In fact, you ought to settle her marriage like any other righteous Muslim woman. Forget about what has happened in the past.” (Tafsir al-Tabari, Vol. 2, Surah al-Maidah, p. 127, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Edition 1, 2001)

With regard to the plague of Amwas and how concerned Hazrat Umarra was to protect the lives of others, it is mentioned that there is a valley called Amwas which is situated at a distance of six miles from Ramla towards the direction of Baitul Maqdas. 

According to the books of history, it was named the Plague of Amwas because the outbreak of the plague started from here and spread throughout Syria. Countless deaths occurred in Syria as a result of this plague; according to some, there were around 25,000 deaths. 

On 17 AH, Hazrat Umarra departed from Medina for Syria and reached Sargh where he met the commander of the armies. Sargh is the name of a village near the valley of Tabuk, which is situated near the borders of Syria and Hijaz. Here, Hazrat Umarra was informed that there was an outbreak of the plague in Amwas and upon seeking consultation, Hazrat Umarra returned. The details of this incident have been recorded in Bukhari as follows: 

(With reference to another account, this incident has been mentioned previously as well.)  

Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbasra relates that when Hazrat Umarra reached Sargh, he met the commander of the armies, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra and his fellow companions. They informed Hazrat Umarra that there was an outbreak of a plague in Syria. In order to seek counsel on the matter, Hazrat Umarra first and foremost invited the Muhajirin to present their suggestions. However, there was a difference of opinion amongst the Muhajirin. Some of them were of the opinion that they should continue on with their journey and not turn back, whilst the others suggested that the noble Companions of the Holy Prophetsa were present in the army and therefore it was not appropriate for them to be taken into an area where there was a plague and it was better to return. Hazrat Umarra then told the Muhajirin to leave and invited the Ansar to present their suggestions. Just like the Muhajirin, the Ansar also had a difference of opinion. Hazrat Umarra then invited the elders of the Quraish, who had accepted Islam at the occasion of the conquest of Mecca and then came and settled in Medina. All of them unanimously expressed their opinion of taking everyone back and that there was no need to enter an area where there was an outbreak of the plague. Accepting their suggestion, Hazrat Umarra announced to return. 

Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra then asked whether it was possible for one to escape from what Allah had decreed. Replying to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra, Hazrat Umarra stated, “O Abu Ubaidahra! I wish it was someone else who had uttered what you have just said. Indeed, we are moving away from one decree of God to another decree. If you had some camels and you reached a valley which had two sides – one was a lush green area, while the other was a dry and barren land – would it not be in accordance with the decree of God if you were to take your camels to graze in the area with lots of vegetation and on the other hand, would it not also be according to the decree of God if you decided to take them to the dry and barren land?”

The narrator of the tradition states that in the meanwhile, Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf came, who was not present earlier owing to some other work he was engaged in. Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf submitted, “I have the answer to this issue. I once heard the Holy Prophetsa say that if one learns about the outbreak of a disease in a certain area, they should not travel there. And if the disease has emerged in an area which one resides in, then they should not leave the area in order to escape from it.”  

Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umarra expressed his gratitude to Allah the Almighty and returned from there. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tibb, Bab ma Yudhkaru fi al-Ta‘un, Hadith 5729) (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], pp. 213-215) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah], p. 239)

Hazrat Umarra had arrived there from Medina and had not yet entered the land where there was an outbreak of the plague. Hence, he returned along with his companions. However, since Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra was the commander of the Muslim army and was already in the land where the outbreak of the plague had taken place, therefore he and the rest of the Muslim army remained in the area where there was an outbreak of the plague. 

Upon returning to Medina, Hazrat Umarra was concerned for the Muslims in Syria and thought of ways how they could be safeguarded from the devastating impact of the plague. Hazrat Umarra was particularly concerned about Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra

One day, Hazrat Umarra wrote a letter to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra stating that he required some important work from him; therefore upon receiving the letter, he should return to Medina immediately. Furthermore, Hazrat Umarra stated that if he received this letter at night, he should not wait for the morning, and if he received the letter in the morning, he should not wait for the night to fall. This was the level of love he had for Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra

When Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra read the letter, he said, “I know the reason why the Leader of the Faithful needs me. May Allah bestow His mercy upon Hazrat Umarra for he wishes to extend the life of that which is no longer going to remain.” 

In other words, Allah knew best as to what was going to happen with him. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra then replied to the letter stating, “O Leader of the Faithful! I have understood what you desire, but please do not call me back and allow me to remain here. I am one of the soldiers from among the Muslim army. Whatever has been decreed will come to pass, but how can I abandon them?”

When Hazrat Umarra read the letter, he began to cry. Those who were present in his company at the time enquired, “O Leader of the Faithful! Has Abu Ubaidahra passed away?” Hazrat Umarra replied, “No, but there is a possibility that he may.” (Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala li Imam al-Dhahabi, Vol. 1, pp. 18-19, Abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah, al-Risalah al-Alamiyyah, Damascus, 2014)

After seeking consultation from some of his learned and wise companions, Hazrat Umarra wrote a letter to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra and stated that he had taken the Muslims to a lower terrain; however, he ought to take them to a more elevated region whereby the air is pure. In other words, he ought to take them to a mountainous area where the air was purer. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra was still reflecting over how to implement this instruction when he was overcome by the plague and passed away. 

Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra had appointed Hazrat Muazra bin Jabal as his deputy; however, he too passed away owing to the plague. Hazrat Muazra bin Jabal had appointed Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas as his deputy; he delivered a speech saying, “When there is an outbreak of a disease it spreads like fire, thus you should safeguard yourselves by hiding in the mountains.” 

Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas took the people from there and went into the mountains until the outbreak of the disease subsided and eventually finished completely. When Hazrat Umarra learnt of this address delivered by Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas he not only was pleased by it, but he also considered it to be an implementation of the instruction he had given to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra. (Muhammad Husain Haikal, Hazrat Umar Farooq A‘zam (translated) [Lahore, Pakistan: Islami Kutub Khana], p. 413)

Apart from Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra bin al-Jarrah, Hazrat Muazra bin Jabalra, Hazrat Yazid bin Abi Sufyanra, Hazrat Harithra bin Hisham, Hazrat Suhailra bin Amr, Hazrat Utbah bin Suhail and various other prominent individuals passed away as a result of the plague. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, Sanah 517 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Alamiyyah, 2012], p. 487)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has also written with regard to returning from the area where there was the outbreak of the plague of Amwas:

“When the battle took place in Syria and there was an outbreak of the plague, Hazrat Umarra also travelled there, so that he could take advice from the people and make appropriate arrangements to protect the Muslim army. However, when the impact of the disease became even more intense, the companions submitted that it was not appropriate for Hazrat Umarra to remain there and that he should return to Medina. When Hazrat Umarra decided to return, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra stated:

أَفِرَارًا‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬قَدَرِ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ؟

“‘Are you running away from the decree of God?’

“Hazrat Umarra immediately replied: 

مِنْ‭ ‬قَدَرِ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬إلَى‭ ‬قَدَرِ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬نَعْم‭ ‬نَفِرُّ

“‘I am going from one divine decree to another.’

“In other words, it is wrong to abandon worldly measures and means. Indeed, the worldly measures and means should be adopted whilst keeping them subservient to one’s faith.” (Allah Ta‘ala se sacha aur haqiqi ta‘alluq qa‘im karne mein hi hamari kamiyabi he, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 21, p. 104)

There are a few incidents of Hazrat Umar’sra acceptance of prayer.

Hazrat Khawatra bin Jubair narrates that once, during the caliphate of Hazrat Umarra, the people suffered from a severe drought. Hazrat Umarra went out with the people and led them in the prayer of Istisqa [seeking rain], consisting of two rak‘aat [units of prayer]. Then, he placed his cloak on his shoulders, taking the left end and placing it on his right shoulder and taking the right end and placing it on his left shoulder. That is to say, he wrapped the cloak around him. He then raised his hands in prayer and supplicated: 

اللَّهُمَّ‭ ‬إنَّا‭ ‬نَسْتَغْفِرُكَ‭ ‬وَنَسْتَسْقِيْكَ

“O Allah, the Powerful and Mighty, we ask of Your forgiveness and supplicate to You for rain”. 

Hazrat Umarra had not yet moved from his place following the prayer when it began to rain. The narrator says that some villagers came to Hazrat Umarra and submitted, “O Leader of the Faithful, on such and such day, we were in our desert dwellings when the clouds loomed above us and we heard a voice from the cloud saying ‘O Abu Hafs! Help has been sent to you through this rain. O Abu Hafs! Help has been sent to you through this rain.’” (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 14, p. 8, Hadith 23533, Kitab al-Salah, Bab al-Sabi, Bab Salat al-Istisqa, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2004)

There is also an incident reported about the acceptance of the prayer of Hazrat Umarra in relation to the flow of the River Nile. Before the spread of Islam, the people of the River Nile adopted a ritual to cause the river to flow when it would dry out. Whether the ritual had an effect or not, only Allah knows. However, the spread of Islam brought an end to this ritual. The incident about this ritual coming to an end is as follows:

Qais bin Hajjaj relates that when Egypt was conquered, the local residents came to Hazrat Amrra bin al-Aas on a particular day during a month on their native calendar, and said, “O chief, we have a ritual for the River Nile without which it does not flow.” Hazrat Amrra enquired about what exactly the ritual was. They replied, “When 11 nights of this month have passed, we go to an unmarried girl in the presence of her parents. With the parents’ consent, we clothe the girl in elegant clothing, adorn her with jewellery and throw her in the Nile River.”

Hazrat Amrra replied that this would never be tolerated in Islam and all such traditions that existed before would be discontinued. Thus, they desisted from their practice, but the river had dried up and the people were considering leaving their homeland. Previously, they would throw [girls] into the river in the beginning [of that month]. 

Finally, when the River Nile had completely dried out, the people decided to migrate and leave their homes. Hazrat Amrra saw this unfolding and wrote to Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab about it. Hazrat Umarra replied to Hazrat Amrra, saying, “What you have told them is correct. Islam brings an end to all such rituals that came before it.” He also enclosed a small note inside with the letter and instructed Hazrat Amrra, “I have enclosed a small note with my letter for you to throw into the River Nile.” 

When the letter of Hazrat Umarra was received by Hazrat Amrra, he opened the small note which read, “From the servant of God and Leader of the Faithful, Umar bin Khattab, to the River Nile of Egypt. Hereafter, [O Nile], if you flow of your own accord, then, by all means, stop flowing. However, if your flow is decreed by Allah the Almighty, then I pray to Him, the One and Most Supreme, to cause you to flow.” 

Thus, Hazrat Amrra put the note into the River Nile one day before the Christian holiday. By the morning, Allah the Almighty had increased the water level in the River Nile by a span of 16 hands in a single night. With this, Allah the Almighty brought an end to the ritual of the Egyptians. (Jalaluddin Abd al-Rahman bin Abi Bakr al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, Umarra bin al-Khattab, p. 673, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore, 1999)

Most historical accounts confirm the validity of this incident, but one biographer of Hazrat Umarra, Muhammad Hussein Haykal, has denied the fact that such a ritual ever existed. (Muhammad Husain Haikal, Hazrat Umar Farooq A‘zam [translated] [Lahore, Pakistan: Islami Kutub Khana], p. 413)

Nonetheless, this is one incident. 

Then, there is the incident during a battle in which Hazrat Sariyahra fought and how he heard the voice of Hazrat Umarra. This incident has been mentioned before, but I will mention it here once again in the context of the acceptance of prayer and the special favours bestowed upon him by Allah the Almighty. 

Tarikh al-Tabari states that Hazrat Umarra commissioned Hazrat Sariyahra bin Zunaim to go towards Fasa and Darabgerd. Upon arriving there, he besieged the enemy, who then called their allies for reinforcements. The reinforcements began to gather in the desert to fight the Muslims. When their numbers increased, they surrounded the Muslims from all sides. At the same time, Hazrat Umarra was delivering his Friday sermon when he suddenly said: 

يَا‭ ‬سَاريَةُ‭ ‬ابْنُ‭ ‬زُنَيْم‭ ‬الْجَبَلَ‭ ‬الْجَبَلَ

That is, “O Sariyah bin Zunaim, the mountain! The mountain!” In the near vicinity of the Muslim encampment was a mountain, and if the Muslims took refuge there, the enemy would only be able to launch an attack from one front. Thus, they took to the mountain for refuge. They fought against the enemy and were victorious, ultimately obtaining plenty of spoils of the war. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Alamiyyah, 2012], pp. 553-554)

While speaking about this incident, the Promised Messiahas has stated that the Companionsra demonstrated many such miracles. (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya – Part V, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 1, p. 654, Footnote within footnote number 4)

I have read out the complete excerpt of the Promised Messiahas in a previous sermon. Thus, if we take the incident related to the River Nile into consideration, it is very possible that it is in fact true, contrary to the belief of some historians. 

There is also an incident about a cap blessed by Hazrat Umarra for the Byzantine Emperor. Regarding this, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:

“During the caliphate of Hazrat Umarra, the Byzantine Emperor suffered from severe headaches, and despite all efforts to cure the ailment, he was unable to find relief. Someone suggested to him, ‘You should write to Hazrat Umarra about your condition and request something blessed by him. He will not only send you something blessed but will pray for you as well. Perhaps through the prayer of Hazrat Umarra, you will be cured.’ 

“He sent an emissary to Hazrat Umarra. Hazrat Umarra thought to himself that these people were arrogant, and it was very unlikely for them to be inclined towards him, and only due to the Emperor’s anguish had he sent a representative. Hazrat Umarra thought that if he sent a blessed object, the Emperor might think of it as insignificant and not utilise it. For this reason, he thought that he should send something that fulfilled the function of a blessed object and also broke the Emperor’s arrogance. Therefore, as a blessed object, Hazrat Umarra sent an old and ragged hat that had stains all over it and had changed colour due to the accumulation of dirt. 

“When the Emperor saw the hat, he was very displeased and did not wear it. However, God Almighty desired to convey to him the message that now he could only attain blessings by means of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. He suffered from such a severe headache that he was forced to summon his servants and asked them to bring the hat sent by Hazrat Umarra so he could wear it. He wore the hat and his pain began to ease. Because his headache would return every eight to 10 days, it became routine for him to wear the ragged and dirty hat sent by Hazrat Umarra whilst seated in his royal court.” 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:

“This sign shown to the [Byzantine] Emperor by Allah the Almighty has another hidden aspect. A companion of the Holy Prophetsa had been imprisoned by the Emperor and he ordered for him to be fed the meat of swine.  

“He would endure starvation, rather than going near swine meat. Although Islam has permitted that if one is driven by absolute necessity, one can consume swine, but he would say that he was a companion, and thus would not do so. When many days of starvation would pass, and he would be close to death, the Byzantine Emperor would give him something to eat. Then, as he regained some strength, he would again instruct that he should be given swine to eat. Thus, he would not let him die, nor would he let him live in peace. Someone said to him that he was experiencing severe headaches because he had imprisoned a Muslim, and now the only solution was to ask Umar to pray for him, and request him for a blessed object. When Hazrat Umarra sent his hat, and this eased his [Emperor’s] pain, this had such an impact on him that he freed the Companion. Observe how the Emperor had imprisoned a Companion, and as a punishment, Allah the Almighty caused an ailment in his head. Someone then suggested to him that he should seek a blessed object from Umar, and request him to pray for him. Hazrat Umarra sent that blessed object, and the Emperor’s ailment was cured. Thus, Allah the Almighty ensured the means for the freedom of that Companion, while also proving the truthfulness of the Holy Prophetsa to the Emperor.” (Sair-e-Ruhani [4], Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 19, pp. 536-537)

It is recorded in Tafsir al-Razi that the Byzantine Emperor wrote to Hazrat Umarra, saying, “I am experiencing pain in my head and I have been unable to find a cure, so please send me a remedy.” 

Thus, Hazrat Umarra sent him a hat. Whenever the Emperor wore the hat, the pain would be cured, and as soon as he removed the hat, the pain would return. This bewildered him, and so he examined the hat, and found in it a piece of paper with the following words written on it:

بِسۡمِ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬الرَّحۡمَنِ‭ ‬الرَّحِيمِ

“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.” This has been recorded in Tafsir al-Razi. (Tafsir Kabir li Imam Razi, Vol. 1, p. 143, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)

There are also certain prayers of Hazrat Umarra. Amr bin Maimoon relates that Hazrat Umarra would pray:

اللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬تَوَفَّنِيْ‭ ‬مَعَ‭ ‬الْأَبْرَارِ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬تُخَلِّفْنِيْ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الْأَشْرَارِ‭ ‬وَقِنِيْ‭ ‬عَذَابَ‭ ‬الْنَّارِ‭ ‬وَأَلْحِقْنِيْ‭ ‬بِالْأَخْيَارِ

 “O Allah, cause my demise to be with righteous people, and do not leave me behind amongst evil people. Save me from the torment of the fire, and include me among the righteous people.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3, Dhikr Hijrat Umarra bin al-Khattab [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1996], p. 177)

Yahya bin Saeed bin Musayyab narrates that when Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab was returning from Mina, he stopped his camel in Abtah, and he created a mound of rocks from the valley of Batha. He then placed a corner of his cloak over the mound and lay down on the cloak. Then he raised his hands towards the sky and prayed:

اللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬كَبُرَتْ‭ ‬سِنِّيْ‭ ‬وَضَعُفَتْ‭ ‬قُوَّتِيْ‭ ‬وَانْتَشَرَتْ‭ ‬رَعِيَّتِيْ‭ ‬فَاقْبِضْنِيْ‭ ‬إِلَيْكَ‭ ‬غَيْرَ‭ ‬مُضَيِّعٍ‭ ‬‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬مُفَرِّطٍ

“O Allah, I have lived for a long time and my strength has weakened, while the people under my rule have increased. Cause me to die in a way whereby I am not ruined.” Thus, the month of Dhul Hijjah had not finished when he was attacked and martyred. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 4, Umarra bin al-Khattab [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2003], p. 162)

Hazrat Ibn Umarra narrates, that during a famine, Hazrat Umarra adopted a new habit which he had not adopted before. After leading Isha [late evening] prayer, he would enter his home and continuously offer prayers until the latter part of the night. Then, he would emerge and would walk to every corner of Medina. One night, at the time of sehri [pre-dawn], he heard him saying:

اللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬تَجْعَلْ‭ ‬هَلَاكَ‭ ‬أُمَّةَ‭ ‬مُحَمَّدٍ‭ ‬عَلَى‭ ‬يَدَيَّ

 “O Allah, let not the nation of Muhammadsa be ruined at my hands.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, 1990], p. 237) 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira says: 

“One should pray solely for the sake of God Almighty. Then, whether others think of him to be bad or good should not matter. One should not intentionally portray themselves to be bad, as has been forbidden through a prayer of the Holy Prophetsa which he taught to Hazrat Umarra, and that is:

اللَّهُمَّ‭ ‬اجْعَلْ‭ ‬سَرِيْرَتِي‭ ‬خَيْرًا‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬عَلَانِيَّتِي‭ ‬وَاجْعَلْ‭ ‬عَلَانِيَّتِي‭ ‬صَالِحَةً

“‘O Allah, make that which is within me better than that which is apparent, and make my apparent good.’” (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. 4, p. 482)

There are also narrations regarding the manner in which Hazrat Umarra upheld the etiquette of the Prophet’ssa Mosque and the prayers. Hazrat Sa‘ibra bin Yazid narrates that he was standing in the mosque when someone threw a stone towards him. He turned and saw that it was Hazrat Umarra bin al-Khattab. Hazrat Umarra said, “Bring those two people to me.” 

There were two people who had been talking loudly. So, they were taken to Hazrat Umarra, who said, “Who are you two”, or, “Where are you from?” They replied that they were residents of Ta‘if. Upon this, Hazrat Umarra said, “Had you been residents of this city, I would have punished you for speaking so loudly in the mosque of the Holy Prophetsa.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Salah, Bab Raf‘ al-Saut fi al-Masjid, Hadith 470) 

Hazrat Ibn Umarra states that it was the practice of Hazrat Umarra to not say ‘Allahu Akbar’ [i.e. begin the prayer] until the rows were straight. In fact, he had appointed a person for the task of ensuring that the rows were straight. Abu Uthman Nahdi said that as the Iqamah [announcement of the start of prayer] was announced, he would see Hazrat Umarra standing with his back turned towards the ‘qiblah’ [direction of prayer] and would say, “O so and so, move forward” or, “O so and so, move back.” In other words, he would organise the rows. When the rows would be straight, he would turn towards the ‘qiblah’ and say ‘Allahu Akbar’ [i.e. begin the prayer]. (Ibn al-Juzi, Sirat Umar al-Khattab [Al-Azhar, Egypt: al-Matba‘ah al-Misriyyah], p. 165)

There are many narrations with regard to Hazrat Umar’sra financial sacrifices and spending in the way of Allah the Almighty. One of these narrations is from Hazrat Ibn Umarra who relates that Hazrat Umarra obtained some land in Khaibar and he went to consult with the Holy Prophetsa about this land. He said, “O Messengersa of Allah. I have obtained some land in Khaibar. In my opinion, I never obtained any property as good as this. What do you advise me in this regard?” The Holy Prophetsa said, “If you wish, you can devote the land in the way of Allah and whatever income it yields you can spend it on the poor.” Nafi’ said that Hazrat Umarra gave that land as a charity, on the condition that it would not be sold, it would not be gifted to anyone, nor would it be distributed as part of any inheritance. He devoted that land for the sake of the needy, his relatives, to free slaves, for any service in the way of Allah, for travellers and guests. He said that it would be permissible for the caretaker of the land to derive benefit from the land according to what was customary, but he should not accumulate wealth from it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Shurut, Bab al-Shurut fi al-Waqf, Hadith 2737) 

Whenever an opportunity arose, Hazrat Umarra strove to excel in making sacrifices. There was also the time when the Holy Prophetsa made an appeal for financial sacrifices, and Hazrat Umarra brought half of his wealth; this incident has been mentioned before. Yet, he feared God Almighty so much, that as he was about to pass away, tears flowed from his eyes and he would say, “I am not deserving of any reward. All I wish is to avoid punishment.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 10, p. 24)

This was the degree to which he feared God Almighty.

There are a few incidents still remaining, which will be mentioned in the future, insha-Allah.

(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 10 December 2021, pp. 5-9. Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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