“If there were to be a Prophet after me, he would have been Umar.”
Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) belonged to the Adi family of Quraish tribe. In the 8th generation, his lineage joins with Rasulullah (ﷺ).
He was born in 583 A.C., about forty years before the great Hijrah. The early life of Hazrat Umar is not known in detail. In his youth he was a famous wrestler and orator, and a spirited person. He was one among the few people in Makkah who knew how to read and write. His main occupation was business.
When the Rasulullah (ﷺ) recieved the revelation and invited people to Islam, Hazrat Umar initially became the sworn enemy of Islam and Rasulullah (ﷺ), and did not hesitate to harm the Muslims at every opportunity.
Hazrat Umar’s acceptance of Islam
It was the sixth year of Rasulullah (ﷺ)’s mission when the leaders of Quraish called a meeting and asked for volunteers for the assassination of Rasulullah (ﷺ). Hazrat Umar offered himself for this job and everybody in the meeting exclaimed that he was the right person for it.
While he was on his way, with a sword in his hand, he met Hazrat Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas (رضي الله عنه) who enquired of him about where he was going. Hazrat Umar told him that he was going to murder Rasulullah (ﷺ). After some discussion Hazrat Sa’d said,
“You had better take care of your own family first. Your sister and brother-in-law both have accepted Islam”.
Hearing this, Hazrat Umar changed his direction and went straight to his sister’s house. When Hazrat Umar knocked at the door, they were being taught the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Khabbab (رضي الله عنه). His sister Fatima (رضي الله عنها) was frightened on hearing Hazrat Umar’s voice and tried to hide the portion of the Holy Qur’an she was reciting. When Hazrat Umar entered the house he enquired about their Islam and on finding that they had accepted Islam, he first fell upon his brother-in-law and beat him severely. When his sister intervened he smote her so violently on her face that it bled profusely. On this his sister burst out:
“Do whatever you like, we are determined to die as Muslims”.
When Hazrat Umar saw his sister bleeding, he cooled down and felt ashamed. He loved Fatima very much but could not tolerate her conversion to Islam. However, deeply moved, Hazrat Umar asked her to show the pages on which the Holy Qur’an was written. But she was, after all, Hazrat Umar’s sister and told him straight,
“You can not touch it unless you take a bath and make yourself clean”.
He then took a bath and read the scripts. It was the beginning of Surah Ta Ha (Chapter 20 of the Holy Qur’an). Finally he came to the verse:
إنني أنا الله لا إله إلا أنا فاعبدني وأقم الصلاة لذكري
Surely I am Allah, there is no god but I, therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance. 20:14
At this, Hazrat Umar exclaimed,
“Surely this is the Word of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Take me to Muhammad (ﷺ)”.
On hearing this Hazrat Khabbab (رضي الله عنه), who had hidden himself in the house, came out from inside and said, “O Umar! Glad tidings for you. It seems that the prayer of the Rasulullah (ﷺ) which he said last night has been answered in your favour. He prayed to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى):
‘O Allah, strengthen Islam with either Umar bin Khattab or Umar bin Hisham, whomsoever Thou pleaseth’.”
Hazrat Umar then went to Rasulullah (ﷺ). On seeing him, Rasulullah (ﷺ) asked him, “Umar! what brings you here”? He said, “I am here to accept Islam”.
Hearing this the Muslims shouted with joy, “Allahu Akbar! (Allah is the Greatest)” and the sound echoed though the air of Makkah.
As a matter of fact, Umar’s conversion to Islam was a terrible blow to the morale of the disbelieves. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas’ud (رضي الله عنه), a great Companion, says,
“Hazrat Umar’s conversion to Islam was a great triumph, his emigration to Madinah a tremendous reinforcement and his accession to Caliphate a great blessing for the Muslims”.
Hazrat Umar gets the title of Al-Farooq
The conversion of Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) strengthened Islam. Before this, Muslims had lived in constant fear of the disbelievers, and most of them were concealing their faith. The Muslims were now able to offer their Salat publicly. When Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) became a Muslim, he declared his faith openly before the Quraish chiefs. Though they stared at him, they could not do any harm to him. Then once he had been granted permission from Rasulullah (ﷺ), he led a party of the Muslims to the Kabah to offer Salat. Hazrat Hamza (رضي الله عنه), who had accepted Islam a few days before Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه), carried another party of the Muslims to Kabah.
When all the Muslims gathered in the Kabah, they offered their Salat in congregation. Rasulullah (ﷺ) led this, and it was the first public Salat in the history of Islam. For this courageous and bold action of Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه), Rasulullah (ﷺ) gave him the title of Al-Farooq i.e., the one who makes a distinction between the right (Haqq) and the wrong (Batil).
Migration to Madinah
When the Muslims were ordered to migrate to Madinah, most of them left Makkah quietly and in secret, but Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) declared it openly.
He put on his armour and first went to the Kabah. After performing the Salat, he announced loudly:
“I am migrating to Madinah. If anyone wants to check me, let him come out. I am sure that his mother would cry for his life”.
There was no man in Makkah to accept the challenge of Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه). Then he migrated to Madinah boldly.
Hazrat Umar’s services to Islam
Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) had great love for Allah and Rasulullah (ﷺ). He participated in almost all the big battles: Badr, Uhud, Ahzab, Khaibar, Hunain etc. In the expedition of Tabuk, he gave half of his wealth in the path of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
He was next to Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) in the sacrifice of his belongings for the cause of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
Rasulullah (ﷺ) also had a deep love for him. Once he remarked,
“Were a prophet to come after me, he would have been Umar”. (Tirmidhi)
In another Hadith mentioned in Bukhari, Hazrat Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that Rasulullah (ﷺ) said,
“In Bani Isra’il (Israelites), there were people who were not prophets but talked to Allah. Were anyone in my Ummah like those persons, he would be Umar”.
The death of Rasulullah (ﷺ) was a great shock to him, and he could not believe it until Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) reminded him of a clear verse of the Holy Qur’an on the subject. He then went to the Council Hall along with Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) where the people of Madinah had assembled to select the First Caliph.
Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) was the first person to pledge loyalty (Bai’at) at the hand of Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه), and then helped him throughout the duration of his rule.
Hazrat Umar Farooq – the second Khalifa of Islam
During Hazrat Abu Bakr’s illness he consulted the people about the next Khalifah, and then gave his decision in favour of Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) who took the charge of Khilafat after the death of Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) on 22nd of Jamadius Thani 13 A.H. (23rd August 634 AC).
Umar (رضي الله عنه) followed fully the ways of Rasulullah (ﷺ) and the policy of his predecessor, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (رضي الله عنه), with his characteristic zeal and vigour. It was his strict adherence to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (ﷺ) which helped him to subdue the mighty empires of Persia and Byzantine.
The period of Hazrat Umar’s Khilafat undoubtedly is the Golden Age of Islam in every respect.
He was a man of extraordinary genius who not only moulded the destiny of the nation but made history of his own.
He followed the footsteps of Rasulullah (ﷺ) to the fullest extent. It was Hazrat Umar under whose rule Islam became an international power and the mighty empires of Persia and Byzantine crumbled before the army of Islam.
Within ten years of his glorious rule, the whole of the Persian Empire, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and a part of Turkey came under the banner of Islam and the nations entered the fold of Islam.
He was not only a conqueror but also an exemplary administrator who originated an efficient system of administration, and thus he was the real founder of political system of Islam. He enforced Divine Law (Shari’ah) as the code of a newly formed International Islamic State; he safeguarded the internal safety by introducing the police force: he gave stipends to the poor; he constructed cantonments and forts for the safety of Islamic armies; he founded new cities for the growth of Islamic culture and civilization; he improved agriculture and economics of the Islamic State; he founded the educational system in an Islamic State; in brief he was the founder of a great Islamic State.
Fall of the Persian empire
During the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه), Hazrat Khalid bin Walid conquered part of the Persian Empire known as the Kingdom of Hira. Then he was ordered by Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) to join the expedition to Syria.
At the time of his departure, he appointed Muthanna bin Harith (رضي الله عنه) as the commander of the Islamic army. The Persians became furious at the loss of the kingdom of Hira and the Emperor sent a large army under the command of a very famous General, Rustam the Commander-in-Chief of Persian armies.
In view of the growing pressure of Persians, Muthanna requested Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) for reinforcement. At that time there was a large gathering of Muslims in Madinah waiting to take pledge of loyalty (Bai’at) at the hand of the new Khalifa (Hazrat Umar). He put the matter before the Muslims but did not get any response in the beginning. Then Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) in his sermons stressed the importance of Jihad and a large number of Muslims volunteered to help Muthanna against the Persians. Abu‘Ubaid ath-Thaqafi (رضي الله عنه) was appointed as the commander of the Islamic army comprising five thousand men. In the meantime Persians attacked the places conquered by Muslims and they lost some of them. In the early stage of the battles Rustam sent his subordinates to face Muslims.
It is reported from Hazrat Ibn Umar (رضي الله عنه) that Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) dispatched an army to Persia, making a man called Sariyya (رضي الله عنه) the leader of it. It is said that one day Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) was delivering the Friday sermon in Madinah. In it he said loudly
“Ya Sariyya al-jabal!”
which means “O Sariyya, [towards] the mountain!”, and then resumed the sermon.
After a month a courier came from the army bearing of good news. He said,
“The people of the army heard Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه)’s voice on that day. We all went towards the mountain and Allah made us victorious.”
The severe famine and plague
In the year 17-18 A.H, Hijaz and Syria were faced by severe famine and drought. Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) took steps to get food supplies from Egypt, part of which had been conquered by Hazrat Amr bin al-‘As (رضي الله عنه). He sent three big ships of grains to Madinah which were unloaded in the presence of Hadzrat Umar (رضي الله عنه). He himself distributed the grains among the needy.
Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) did not take any delicacy (butter etc.) during the famine period. When he was requested to take care of his health, he said,
“If I don’t taste suffering, how can I know the sufferings of others?”
When the famine became intolerable, he prayed to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in a big gathering of Muslims. It has been narrated that the prayers had not even finished when rains started to pour down.
About the same time, plague spread in most parts of Iraq, Syria and Egypt and it caused great havoc not only to civilians but also to the Muslim armies. After the plague, Hazrat Umar went to Syria to inspect the losses caused by the plague. Three important figures, Hazrat Abu Ubaidah, Mu’adh bin Jabal and Yazid bin Abu Sufyan (رضی الله عنهم) had passed away. He appointed Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) as the Governor of Damascus in place of his brother Yazid bin Abi Sufyan.
Martyrdom of Hazrat Farooq-e-Azam (رضي الله عنه)
In 23 A.H., when Hazrat Umar returned to Madinah from Hajj, he raised his hands and prayed:
“O God! I am advanced in years, my bones are weary, my powers are declining, and the people for whom I am responsible have spread far and wide. Summon me back to Thyself, my Lord!”
Some time later, when Hazrat Umar went to the mosque to lead a prayer, a Magian named Abu Lulu Feroze, who had a grudge against Hazrat Umar on a personal matter, attacked him with a dagger and stabbed him several times. Hazrat Umar reeled and fell to the ground.
When he learned that the assassin was a Magian, he said, “Thank God he is not a Muslim.”
The injuries were so serious that the great Khalifa died the next morning.
Before his death, the Muslims asked him about his successor and he appointed a panel of six persons; Hadrat Uthma Zubair, Talha, Sa’d bin Waqqas and Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf (رضی الله عنهم) to select a Khalifah from amongst them within three days after him.
He requested Hazrat Aisha (رضي الله عنها) for permission for his burial beside Rasulullah (ﷺ), just as Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique expressed the same wish. Though she had reserved that place for herself, on Umar’s request she gave it to him and that is where he was buried.
Character and Piety
He was extremely pious and God-fearing. His success lay in two things: fear of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and his love for Rasulullah (ﷺ).
He never used even oil from the Baitul Mal (Public Treasury) to burn a lamp at night for his personal needs. Whenever he finished the official work he put off the lamp. He used to patrol in the city at night to find out the needs and requirements, and conditions of the people.
He did not hesitate to take his wife to work as a midwife for a poor woman. The salary he got from the Baitul Mal was so low that it was hardly enough for him and his family’s needs. When some of the eminent Muslims requested him to increase the amount he said,
“Rasulullah (ﷺ) has left a standard by his personal example. I must follow him”.
Hadrat Umar was one of the most just rulers in Islamic History. All the citizens, including the Khalifa himself, were equal before law.
Once he appeared before a court in Madinah to clarify his position against a complaint. The Qadi (judge) wanted to stand in his honour, but he did not allow him to do so, so that there would be no distinction between him and an ordinary person before Law.
He was really the founder of the modern democratic system.
In short, he was a perfect example of an ideal character, and was the greatest Khalifah of Islam after Hazrat Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه).
He selflessly devoted his whole energy for the cause of Islam and the Muslim world will always be indebted to him for his great achievements.
Hazrat Umar as a Great Scholar
Before the advent of Islam there was no tradition in Arabia of reading or writing. There were only seventeen people amongst the Quraish who could read or write at the time when Rasulullah (ﷺ) started to receive Divine revelations.
Hazrat Umar was one of those seventeen persons. His writing and lectures are still found in some old books.
The first address he gave as a Caliph was:
“O Allah, I am strict, make me soft. I am weak, give me power. The Arabs are like refractory camels, I will endeavour to bring them to the straight path.”
He was also interested in poetry and sometimes he composed verses. Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) was one of the most fluent of the Quraish in language.
Arabic-knowing persons can appreciate the fluency of his writings and addresses. Many of his sayings became aphorisms of literature.
He was a great Jurist and Theologian of Islam. Because of the fear of making any mistake, he did not quote many Ahadith even though he was fully conversant with them. He never allowed a person to quote any Hadith which was not well known without producing any attestator in support of it.
If somebody quoted a Hadith before him which he had never heard, he at once asked him to bring a witness; failing which he would be punished.
He was expert in deriving laws from the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith. A full volume could be complied out of the verdicts and judgements given by Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه). As a matter of fact he opened a new door of Ijtihad (disciplined judgement of a jurist) in the history of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, and settled a number of disputable cases during his Khilafat.
Preaching of Islam
As the viceroy of Rasulullah (ﷺ), his foremost duty was to spread and preach Islam. As mentioned above, the aim of various battles and wars was to clear the way for the Muslims for preaching Islam.
Whenever any army had to attack a place, they had to call the inhabitants of the place to Islam. Hazrat Umar was very strict in this respect and he had given standing orders to the commanders not to start war unless they had first invited the people to Islam. If they accepted it, there was no question of war and if they did not, then the war was fought only with those who were not giving a free hand to Muslims to preach the Right Path.
No person was ever forced to forsake his own faith and accept Islam.
The method adopted to preach Islam was demonstration by actual practice. For this purpose he ordered Muslims to establish their own quarters and present the practical shape of Islam before the population. Seeing the truthful way, the inhabitants of the place were attracted towards Islam. No soldier was allowed to take any property or anything by force from the conquered people.
Because of fair treatment by the Muslims, sometimes the whole army of the enemy accepted Islam.
After the battle of Qadisiya, a battalion of four thousand Persians accepted Islam. After the victory of Jalula, the chiefs of the place entered the folds of Islam along with the inhabitants. A commander of the army of Yadzgird, named Siyah accepted Islam with his battalion during a battle in Persia. All the inhabitants of the town of Bulhat in Egypt accepted Islam at one time without the use of any force only by seeing the piety of the Muslims. A rich merchant and the chief of a place in Egypt, named Shata, accepted Islam with all the inhabitants of the place only after hearing about the character and piety of Muslims at the time when Muslims had not even reached that place.
These are a few examples to show how Islam spread because of the character of Muslims at that time.
Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) was very strict in ensuring that no Muslims forced any non-Muslim to accept Islam. Through his advice, letters and addresses, he made it clear to all the Muslims that they had to adhere to the ways of Rasulullah (ﷺ), which was the only method to preach Islam.
Wives and children
1. Hazrat Zainab (رضي الله عنها) accepted Islam but died in Makkah. She was sister of Uthman bin Maz’un. She gave birth to Hazrat Abdullah Abdur Rahman and Hazrat Hafsah [wife of Rasulullah (ﷺ)] were the children she bore to Hazrat Umar.
2. Malkiah bint Jarwal, she did not accept Islam and was divorced in 6 A.H. according to Islamic law. She gave birth to Ubaidullah.
3. Quraibah bint Abi Ummiyah, she also did not accept Islam and was divorced in 6 A.H.
The above three marriages had taken place before Hazrat Umar accepted Islam. After accepting Islam he contracted marriages with the following:
4. Ummi Hakim bint-ul-Harith, she gave birth to a girl named Fatimah.
5. Jamilah bint Asim, she gave birth to a son who was named Asim. She was a Muslim but was divorced for some other reason.
6. Umm Kulthum bint Hazrat Ali (رضي الله عنها). She was married in the year 17 A.H. She gave birth to Ruqayyah and Zaid.
7. Atikah (رضي الله عنها)
1. Ummul Mumineen Hazrat Hafsah (رضي الله عنها) – the chaste wife of Rasulullah (ﷺ).
2. Ruqayyah – the youngest daughter of Hazrat Umar.
6. Abu Shahmah
Hazrat Umar – the Pioneer of Islamic democracy
Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) was the pioneer of modern civilization who formed a state based upon the Islamic democratic system, the system which was incorporated in the West as late as 19th and 20th centuries.
He was the greatest democratic administrator whose example is unparalleled not only in the history of Islam but also in the history of modern civilization. A vast part of the Middle East, Persian Empire and Byzantium, was conquered during the ten years of his Khilafat which he consolidated into a state governed by Islam i.e. laws.
The constitution of Islamic Khilafat during the time of Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) was based entirely on the Islamic democratic system. All matters were decided after consultation with the Shura (the council of advisors).
“It is essential for a Khalifah to consult his Shura.”
Once he said,
“I do not desire that you may follow anything that arises from my caprice”.
Hazrat Umar had clearly stated on various occasions that he should be obeyed as long as he was obeying Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and Rasulullah (ﷺ).
Muslims and non-Muslims were treated alike. Although the Arab peninsula was declared to be purely an Islamic State, his attitude towards the non-Muslims was very tolerant. He allowed the Jews and the Christians, living in the Peninsula, to stay there if they so wished and nobody would interfere in their religious affairs. To those who desired to migrate he ensured a safe journey up to the borders. Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه) also gave compensation for their properties and other facilities.
Introduction of the Islamic calendar
For the first time in the history of Islam, Islamic calendar was introduced in the present form by Hazrat Umar (رضي الله عنه).
The date of start of this calendar was fixed as the date of the Hijrah (migration) of Rasulullah (ﷺ). Thus the calendar is also known as the Hijrah Calendar.
Rasulullah (ﷺ)’s praise about Hazrat Farooq-e-Azam
“Amongst the nations before your time, there have been inspired people (who were not Prophets), and if there is one amongst my Ummah, he is Umar”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
- Benefits and Virtues of Surah 20 TaHa
- Quotes by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (رضى الله عنه)
- Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) His Life and Times (By Dr. Salabi) Vol. I ┇Vol. II
- Umar Al Farooq (رضي الله عنه) The 2nd Caliph of Islam (By Syed Ziauddin)
- Al-Farouk Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (By M. Redha)
- (حضرت عمر ؓ کی فضیلت (کنز العمال