Hazrat Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA)
These notes are based on the talk delivered by brother Al-Amin at the Wed circle on 19 Nov 08. The notes and any errors made are purely mine and I have also added some additional notes of my own.
The need to learn and know about the Companions:
Because Allah chose them to be the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the carriers of the Message.
Because they were trained by the Prophet (peace be upon him).
They were the right people for the job of aiding the Prophet (peace be upon him).
To recognise their virtues and learn from their struggles.
To follow their example.
The ranks of the companions:
The companions were ranked according to their closeness to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and their sacrifices for the religion of Islam.
The highest in ranking are Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA).
The next are the Khulafa Ar-Rashidin including these two great companions and Uthman (RA) and Ali (RA).
Then you have other rankings such as the ten that were given the glad tidings of Jannah and those who fought in the battle of Badr and then the other battles of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
As we stated above Umar (RA) was among the highest ranking of the companions and had many of the qualities above including:
He was second only to Abu Bakr (RA).
He was of the Khulafa Rashidin.
He was given the glad tidings of Jannah while in the Dunya.
He was of those who fought in Badr
Details of his birth and lineage;
He was born 40 years before the migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
His father was Khattab ibn Nufayl and hence his name ibn Al Khattab.
His mother was Hintima bint Hisham.
His clan was Banu Adi from the tribe of Quraish.
He was of noble descent and had a high standing in the Makkan society.
Umar (RA) was a towering figure.
He was tall and fair skinned.
He was strong and a skilled wrestler.
He had a strong disposition and inspired awe in those around him.
He was one of the few in Makkah who knew how to read and write.
He was a shepherd and merchant by trade.
The Days of Jahiliyyah
Buries his baby daughter alive as she cleans the sand off his beard.
An adamant enemy of Islam and the early Muslims.
He used to drink alcohol.
Preparation for guidance
At one time he met a woman leaving Makkah and asked why she was leaving, and she replied that it was because the Quraish were persecuting the Muslims. He felt little sympathy for the Muslims and said to her ‘May God be with you’.
Another time he was drunk and went out late night looking to get more alcohol but none of the stalls were open so he decided to come to the Ka’bah to do Tawaf. As he approached he could hear the recitation of the Qur’an. He looked to see who it was and saw that it was the Prophet (peace be upon him). He thought that he will scare the Prophet (peace be upon him) so he went inside the cloth of the Ka’bah so that the Prophet (peace be upon him) could not see him and walked up near the Prophet (peace be upon him). As he approached he could hear and understand what the Prophet (peace be upon him) was reciting, and he felt an awe and amazement at what was being recited. So while being behind the cover of the Ka’bah he said to himself that ‘this must be the words of a poet’ and as he said this, the Prophet (peace be upon him), without knowing Umar (RA) was there, happened to recite the verse ‘And surely these are not the words of a poet’. Umar (RA) was amazed at the response as the Prophet (peace be upon him) could not see him so how could he have known what he was thinking. So he thought that ‘these must be the words of a magician/soothsayer’. At that moment the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited the verse ‘Nor are these the words of magician/soothsayer’. Umar (RA) got scared at this and left the scene.
The story of his conversion
Umar (RA) was fed up at the rising number of Muslims and Quraish’s failure to put a stop to the growth of Islam in the Makkan society.
As a result of this Umar (RA) decided that he will kill Muhammad (peace be upon him).
As he set out on his way he bumped into one of the companions, who on seeing him with his sword, asked where he was going. Umar (RA) replied he was going to put an end to Islam and is going to kill the Prophet (peace be upon him). The companion having heard this tried to distract and stop him from going ahead and said that look, if you kill Muhammad (peace be upon him) then do you think his clan of Banu Hashim will let you go free. Surely this will start a war between your clan and the clan of Banu Hashim. Umar (RA) was listening to the advice and was still adamant to go ahead and kill the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The companion not knowing what to do said to Umar (RA) ‘Why don’t you go and sort your own household first before going to kill Muhammad (peace be upon him).’ This made Umar (RA) stop and he asked ‘what do you mean?’. The companion replied that ‘do you not know that your sister and brother in-law have accepted Islam?’. Upon hearing this Umar (RA) was furious and he stormed off to his sisters house.
In his sisters house, his sister and her husband were studying parts of the Qur’an with another companion. On hearing Umar (RA) approach the companion hid and his sister put away the Qur’an and let Umar (RA) in. He started shouting at them and asked if they had accepted Islam and began to beat his brother in-law. His sister got in the way to stop him, and he hit her and her face began to bleed. As she bled she told him that they had accepted Islam and that nothing Umar (RA) said or did would make them change their mind.
On seeing the blood on his sisters face, Umar (RA) felt sorry at what he had done, so he stopped and he asked her if he can have a look at what they were reading. She told him that he would have to take a bath and purify himself before he can touch it, so he went and washed himself and came back.
They showed him the part of the Qur’an that they were reading which was the opening verses of Surah At-Taha. As he completed reading, he admitted that these are none other than the words of Allah and decided to accept Islam.
He asked to be taken to the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was at the time in the house of Arqam with some of the other companions. When he went and knocked they asked who it was, and when he said it was him Umar (RA), they got a bit worried, but the Prophet instructed them to let him in and they did.
Umar (RA) came in and accepted Islam and this was the most joyous day for the Makkan Muslims.
The conversion of Umar (RA) was in answer to a Du’a made by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he asked Allah to strengthen Islam with one of the two Umar (RA)’s, Umar (RA) ibn Al Khattab or Abu Jahl who also had the name Umar (RA).
Umar’s (RA) strengthening of Islam
After accepting Islam, Umar (RA) made his Islam public and would complete his acts of worship in public also. He would complete the Tawaf in front of Quraish and no one would say a thing.
When he was migrating to Madina he left in broad daylight and even announced that he was leaving and that if anyone wanted his mother to lose her son, then they should give him chase.
His conversion gave confidence to other Muslims in Makkah and the Da’wah spread even more.
He accompanied the Prophet (peace be upon him) throughout his life and fought in all the battles with the Prophet (peace be upon him). As stated above in terms of the companions he was only second to Abu Bakr (RA).
The Qur’an revealed on account of Umar (RA) and his views
Umar (RA) was such a great companion that even the Qur’an was revealed on his account.
The verse of Hijab was revealed as result of Umar’s (RA) desire to see Muslim women (particularly the wives of the Prophet) veiled in order for their own benefit and protection.
The prayer behind the Maqam of Ibrahim next to the Ka’bah after Tawaf was initiated and revealed based on Umar’s (RA) actions.
The verse advising the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) about being good to him was revealed based on Umar’s (RA) council to the wives.
Umar’s (RA) reign as the Khalifa of the Muslims
After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Khilafa of Abu Bakr (RA), Umar (RA) was selected as the leader of the Muslims.
During his reign the Muslims spread all over the Middle East and Africa and took control of a lot of new areas.
Umar (RA) was a just ruler and had the highest level of concern for the Muslims and the stories of his time as Khalifa will inspire anyone who reads it.
One of the more famous of these stories is when, during one of his regular night patrols, he came across a lady who was stirring a pot full of stones in water while her children where crying and on being asked why she was doing so, she replied that her children are starving and she has nothing to give them so she is pretending that there is food being cooked by stirring stones in boiling water hoping that the children will think that food is being prepared and so will fall asleep.
Upon seeing this Umar (RA) felt guilty that as a Khalifa he was not aware of the plight of this woman and tears began to drop down his face. He went to the public treasury and he carried some rice and wheat on his shoulders and gave it to the woman and even stayed to help cook and serve the kids.
There are many other such stories which we do not have time to mention today, however, please listen to Imam Anwar Awlaki series on Hazrat Umar (RA) for more information.
The martyrdom of Umar (RA)
Umar (RA) used to always make Du’a to Allah that ‘Oh Allah please grant me martyrdom in the blessed city of Madina.’ His daughter would always enquire that my father, how can you be granted martyrdom in the city of the Muslims when there are no disbelievers around and there is no war taking place. Yet Umar (RA) had faith in Allah and continued his Du’a.
During his last days a Jewish slave came to Umar (RA) to ask him to intercede on his behalf to his master in relation to his payments. Umar (RA) told him to fear Allah and be happy with what he has, but in his head he had the intention of going and speaking to the master and interceding on his behalf. However, the slave was upset at Umar’s (RA) response.
One day during Fajr time this Jewish slave came into the Masjid with a double edged dagger that had been dipped in poison and as Hazrat Umar (RA) started to lead the Salah, the slave came and stabbed him in the back and in the stomach at which Hazrat Umar (RA) collapsed. The prayer was completed by another Sahaba and then a little while after Umar (RA) passed away.
This is how his Du’a was accepted by Allah. Who would have thought that the leader of the Muslims can be martyred by a Jew in the Masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
It is said that the clothes Umar (RA) was wearing at the time of his death had over 10 patches on it. Imagine how the Kings of the world would dress and look at the way in which Hazrat Umar (RA) who was the leader of a vast emerging Muslim empire used to dress!
Hadith about Umar (RA)
The Prophet (peace be upon him is reported to have said:
“If there were to be a prophet after me it would be ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.”
“Ibn al-Khattab, by Him in Whose hand is my self, the shaytan never met you travelling on a road but that he would travel on a road other than your road.”
“Allah has put the truth upon ‘Umar’s tongue and (in) his heart.”
These were just some small snippets from the life of this towering figure. We would urge everyone to go and read about Umar’s (RA) life and to take lessons from it. May Allah accept us all – Ameen!