Mar 21, 2012

Umar - The Conquerer of The Sword

By Yasmin Ahmed 



Umar ibn al-Khattab radiAllahu anhu is today what we would call ‘a real legend’, a precious gem in the Prophet’s sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam circle.
All of the Prophet’s sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam companions have led amazing lives, which strikes a chord within the normal person and Umar’s RA life is no exception – from the day he accepted Islam, to the day his blessed soul departed from this world. Umar led a full and exemplary life.

Umar’s ibn al-Khattab background 
Umar radiAllahu anhu came from a very affluent background, he was from the Adi clan of the Quraysh and was one of the select educated few. He was described as being fair-skinned with some redness, tall and well built, a skilled fighter and horseman.

How Umar embraced Islam 
It was at the age of 27 Umar radiAllahu anhu embraced Islam. Umar’s RA embracing of Islam is very special as this was due to a special supplication the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam made.

…the Messenger of Allah asked Allah to make Islam strong by the Islam of one of the two Umars: Umar ibn al-Khattab or Umar ibn Hisham (Abu Jahl). Allah, glorious and exalted is He, responded to the Prophet by making Umar ibn al-Khattab declare his Islam.[i]

Umar radiAllahu anhu set out with the intention to kill the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, on his way he met a companion of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The Companion realised something was wrong and inquired where Umar was going, when the companion realised Umar’s motive, he replied “Before you go to Rasulullah, why don’t you take care of your household first?” [ii]

Umar had learnt that his sister Fatimah and brother in law had become Muslim, so he headed for his sister’s house. Fatimah and her husband Sa‘id ibn Zayd were being taught the latest revelation by Khabab ibn al-Arat when Umar RA knocked on the door. Fatimah quickly concealed the scroll whilst Khabab went into hiding.

Umar enquired whether it was true that his sister and brother in law had accepted Islam, when his brother replied in the affirmative, Umar attacked him, and when Fatimah came to her husband’s aid, Umar struck her in the face making her bleed.

She then said “O’ Enemy of Allah, you hit me just because I believe in Allah? Whether you like it or not I bear witness and testify that there is (no) God but Allah and Muhammad is (the) Messenger of Allah, do whatever you want!” [iii]

When Umar saw the confidence and vehemence with which his sister spoke, he changed and softened. He asked to see the scroll his sister had been reading. Fatimah explained that he had to wash before touching the scrolls, which Umar did. As Umar was of great intellect he realised the words on the scroll were like no other (Surah Ta Ha), and as the light penetrated his heart he headed for the house where the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was and from where he was to emerge a changed man forever.

Umar’s acceptance of Islam was a blow to the enemies of Islam, it strengthened the Muslims and they were now able to pray openly at the Ka’bah.

Umar’s Uprightness 
Umar radiAllahu anhu was well known for his sterling uprightness, unflinching demeanor and a will of steel. Umar was a dignified man, one who was not afraid to state the truth, for this reason people both feared and respected him.

Allah has placed the truth on the tongue of Umar and on his heart. [iv]

Umar was concerned for the welfare of the Muslim women in Madinah, particularly the wives of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and he made the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam aware of his concern for them. Very soon revelation came to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam on this very subject.

O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you fear Allah, then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.

And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance…[v]

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam turned to Umar and said “Umar, rejoice for once again Allah has spoken through your tongue.” [vi]

Even Shaytan avoids Umar ibn al-Khattab 
Once the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was in a meeting with the ladies of Quraysh. When the ladies heard Umar approaching they fled and hid from the presence of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam smiled, at which point Umar entered, and enquired about his smile.

‘Umar said “O Allah’s Apostle! May Allah always keep you smiling.” [vii]
The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam explained how the ladies hid as soon as they heard Umar coming, to which he replied…… "O enemies of yourselves! You fear me more than you do Allah's Apostle?!"

They said, "Yes, for you are harsher and sterner than Allah's Apostle." [viii]

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam replied “O Ibn Al-Khattab! By Him in Whose Hands my life is, whenever Satan sees you taking a way, he follows a way other than yours!” [ix]

Umar RA and Abu Bakr RA were the right hand men of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam

just as Umar never compromised his thoughts and beliefs, he also never compromised his duties. Before Umar became caliph, he would walk around Madinah seeing to the needs of the people. In one area there lived a blind woman who Umar went to help, only to find that her needs were attended to on a daily basis. Umar curious to know who did such a noble deed hid, only to find out that his dear friend Abu Bakr had beaten him to this good deed.

Umar would compete with his friend Abu Bakr to do good for the sake of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala. In preparation for the expedition to Tabuk, Umar donated half his wealth, whilst Abu Bakr had donated all of his wealth. Just as it was Umar’s RA nature to praise where praise was due he said “Verily Abu Bakr is the foremost in good”. [x]

Umar a wise Caliph 
Umar just like other Caliphs did not desire for leadership and fame. When Abu Bakr had informed Umar that he had chosen him as his predecessor, the latter replied “But I have no desire for the office”. [xi]

When Umar became Caliph he gave the following poignant speech, openly admitting his weaknesses.

…O Allah I am hard, make me soft to promote the Truth, to comply with your injunctions and to aspire to a better life in the world hereafter.

O Allah make me hard for the enemies of Islam and for those who create mischief so that their designs against Allah come to naught.

O Allah I am miser; make me generous in the promotion of the good.

O Allah save me from hypocrisy. Strengthen my resolves so that whatever I do, I do for the sake of winning Your approbation.

O Allah soften my heart for the faithful so that I attend to their needs with a sense of dedication.

O Allah, I am careless, make me responsible enough so that I do not lose sight of You.

O Allah I am weak in offering my obedience to You; make me active and fortify my faith.

O Allah bestow on me faith, and the power to do good.

O Allah give me the power of self-criticism and self-assessment.

O Allah bestow on me the insight into the meaning of the Quran and the strength to act in accordance with what the Quran says.

O Allah You are capable of doing anything: bless us with Your favor. Ameen." [xii]

When Umar became Caliph it is no surprise his responsibilities increased and he became just as constant in his duties as before his caliphate, he would roam the streets at night to ensure all was well in his province.

Once Umar went out with Aslam (his servant), when he came across a tent where a fire was burning and children were sitting around crying. Umar enquired why the children were crying and the lady replied that they were crying through hunger, and that she was boiling water in the pretence she was cooking food, hoping that the children would soon fall asleep through exhaustion.

Umar wept and went straight to the state granary and put together all the necessities, he then asked Aslam to help load the items on to his back. Aslam objected to the Amir carrying the provisions to which Umar replied “Will you carry my burden for me on the Day of Resurrection?” [xiii] Umar took the provisions straight to the traveller’s tent and placed some ingredients in the boiling pot. Once the food was cooked he fed the children and put them to sleep. He gave the remaining provisions to the lady and took her leave.

Umar and his family 
Umar had softened towards his people when he became Caliph, but was still tough and stringent with his own family if not more so.

“I prevent Muslims from doing wrong things. People are always looking at you. If you respect the law they will do the same, but if you don’t they will not. I fear Allah, so if I see that any of you has done wrong I will punish him severely with twice the punishment of anybody else. If anyone would like to protect himself from falling into fault then he should fear Allah. Then he should fear me also.” [xiv]

Umar RA strictly adhered to the example his people had to follow, he always thought of others before himself and took extra special care of the Prophet’s sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam family before his own.
The Golden Age of Islam and Umar ibn al-Khattab’s legacy 
Today we live in a modern civilisation which was actually pioneered by Umar 1400 years ago. He was the first person to set up an Islamic democratic system.

Freedom of Speech 
Umar allowed the people to voice their opinion freely and to criticise the ruler (or Government) openly.

"0 people! I am but a trustee of your property and wealth, like a person who is trustee of the property and wealth of an orphan child. Had I been rich I would not have taken any allowance for my services. In case I needed I would have accepted only to the extent of the need. Friends! you have certain rights over me and you are fully allowed to claim your rights anytime. One of such rights is: Don't allow me to misappropriate the Indemnity Tax and the Booty. You have the right to check that the poor, the needy and disabled person amongst you should get allowances for their livelihood. You have the right to make sure that the borders of the State are safe and that you are not in danger." [xv]

Allowances for the Needy 
From Umar speech we can see he was the first to introduce allowances for the poor, the needy and the disabled (which included the elderly and widows), and he also introduced policing of the state.

Compilation of the Holy Qu’ran 
Umar also had the first Islamic calendar made where the start date was the date of the Prophet’s sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam ‘Hijrah’. He was the pioneer of much, much, more, one of the most important being the compilation of the Holy Qu’ran which actually took place during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr .. 


Umar ibn al-Khattab is a shining example to us all, as well as the Muslim and non-Muslim leaders of today.

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam gave Umar the title of ‘Al-Faruq’ (the one who makes clear distinction between the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’), and he sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said of Umar ..

“If there were to be a prophet after me he would have been Umar ibn al-Khattab” [xvi]

Umar a character perfected on the first-hand experience of being with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and corrected on the teachings of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. He was the sunnah personified after the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

May Umar RA abide with his dearly beloved Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in the foremost part of Heaven. Ameen

What do you learn from these few facts that we have mentioned about Umar radi Allahu anhu?

[i] Khatab, Amal (Translator) (2005) Umar ibn al-Khattab London: Ta Ha Publishers Ltd. pp 4-5
[iv] At-Tirmidhi
[v], 33:32-33
[xiii] Abu Aziz Sa’d Yusuf, Fulani Suleman (Translator), (2009) Men and Women around the Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam Riyadh: Darussalam p 59
[xiv] Khatab, Amal (Translator) (2005) Umar ibn al-Khattab London: Ta Ha Publishers Ltd. pp 16-17


Very well written article masha'Allah.. :)I have a doubt in one of the points mentioned:"Umar was true to his word and had his own son flogged twice for a mistake he made, which resulted in his son’s death.".. I would like to know which son this was and the source/reference if possible, with a detailed description of this particular incident.
JazakumAllahu Khayran!  

Was waiting for this one:) jzk for such an enlightening article!

Salaam sister Nasmira I will get you the references for the piece you have mentioned, I think it will be in the references above .

Sister Nasmira here is the link The son of Umar RA is called Abu Shahma 

jazakumallahu khayran sis!! :)

i did not know much about umar ra, however, reading this article has certainly increased my knowledge.  Thank  you

Jazakumullahu Khayr....Umar Conquerer of the world or sword?

thank you for allowing us to increase our knowledge about umar ra by writing this article so nicely and in great details. hopefully u will write more of this kind of articles inshallah.

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