Umar ibn Khattab ibn Nufayl ibn Abdul Uzza was the second Khalifa of Islam. He was a companion of Rasulullah (Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam) and succeeded Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu anhu) some 1400 years ago. Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) was affectionately known as “Al Farooq” (The one who distinguishes between truth and falsehood).
During Jahilliyah, he was a messenger and an ambassador. Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) was born into the Qureysh nobility and was feared by many people. This great Khalifa of Islam was brave and tough even prior to accepting Islam.
Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) was 27 years old when he accepted Islam. However, one day, whilst he was still a disbeliever, he found out that his sister and her husband had accepted Islam. This infuriated him. Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) drew his sword and went over to his sister’s home. As he approached the house, he heard them reciting the verses of Surah Taha. After a brief skirmish between Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) and his family, he calmed down. He then asked to see the paper which they had been reading from, that which contained the Quranic verses. Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) was told that he was unclean and that he must purify himself before touching the words of Allah Ta’ala. He did so and upon reading the words of Allah , his heart softened.Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) went to Rasulullah (Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam) and accepted Islam. This was a great joy to all Muslims and his reversion to Islam, brought great support to the Muslims. They were now able to perform their salaah in the Haram.
Umar (Radi Allahu anhu)’s list of achievements, skills and qualities are numerous. He was truly an inspired human being who later fought many battles alongside the Muslims. Umar(Radi Allahu anhu’s), name is often associated with the words: wise, hero, just, humble, fair, truthful, inspired, courageous, skilled, responsible and unique.
During the Khilafa of Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu anhu), it was Umar (radi Allahu anhu) who encouraged the Khalifa to compile the Quran into a book form. The battle of Yamamah claimed the lives of many companions who had memorized portions of the Quran. Umar (radi Allahu anhu) was concerned that parts of the Quran may be lost this way. Alhamdulillah! His wisdom was understood and Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu anhu) appointed Zaid bin Thabit as the official compiler of the Quranic Text. The Quranic ayat were collected and compiled within strict regulations. Everyone who knew a portion of the Qur’an came forward and recited it. However it was only accepted if it was checked by Rasulullah (Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam) during his lifetime, if the reciter was a companion of Rasulullah (Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam) and if the reciter had two witnesses who saw him hear these verses directly from Nabi (Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam). The verses were arranged in the order in which Nabi (Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam) read the ayats during his lifetime.
Therefore the Quran’s authenticity is preserved in a book form, which we read until today, Alhamdulillah. The Quran was further preserved and protected by being passed onto Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) and then Hazrat Hafsah (radi Allahu anha). She was the daughter of Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) and was among the few who were literate at the time. She also possessed great knowledge about the Quran. Just to note for interest sake that as Islam spread throughout the lands and pronunciations differed in foreign tongues confusion arose. Therefore, during the third Khalifa’s regime, Khalifa Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) ordered the destroying of the written copies and sent for the standard version (that was compiled under the suggestion of Umar (radi Allahu anhu) from Hafsah (radi Allahu anha). These were copied and sent to the major centers of states and is often referred to as being according to the “Uthmani Script”.
When the Muslims emigrated to Madinah, many did so in secrecy for fear of being pursued or harmed by the disbelievers and hypocrites of Makkah. It is reported thatAli (radi Allahu anhu) said “I do not know of anyone who did not emigrate in secret except for Umar ibn Khattab”. This should not be mistaken for arrogance, but rather his courage and faith in Allah. His love for his Deen left no room for compromise regarding the commands of Allah.
It is noted in many publications that Umar(Radi Allahu anhu) was responsible for the welfare of subjects. He would often patrol the streets of Madinah at night. This is evident in an incident here he brought back rations to a mother and her hungry children, so that the starving family could eat. He advised her to visit the treasury regularly for supplies. On another occasion, he fetched his wife to assist a fellow sister during child birth. She happily volunteered and Umar (radi Allahu anhu) put the husband at ease and prepared food for the man and his family. Upon the baby’s birth he further invited them to collect more provisions from him the following day.
Umar ibn Khattab(Radi Allahu anhu) was once giving instructions to the public regarding the dowry that a man should be allowed to give to his bride. He specified that it be a small amount to which a woman from the crowd replied that Allah says in the Quran “If you give them a Qintaar (large amount)”, to which Umar(Radi Allahu anhu) realized his mistake. He acknowledged his error and stated that the woman was correct. How fair and humble he was!
Umar Ibn Khattab(Radi Allahu anhu) was also affectionately known as Amir – ul – Mumineen. Umar (Radi Allahu anhu)was also known as one of the greatest military strategist; he issued detailed instructions regarding the conduct of operations. He also established and managed many state administrative institutions during his time as the Khalifa.
My Dear Sisters!
Umar ibn Khattab (Radi Allahu anhu) is admired for his beautiful character and firm faith. Many Muslims hold him among their most beloved and some choose him to be their role model. He truly was a man of many qualities. He was fierce, yet gentle; wise, yet guided; determined, yet thoughtful; decisive and skilled, yet willing to learn and humble, yet courageous.
May Allah guide us all in the preservation and propagation of Islam, as this great hero of Islam so bravely did! Ameen.
Heroes of Islam pp 22 – 27
Prof. Mahmoud Esma’il Sieny
The History of the Khalifahs who took the right way
Jalal ad -Din as – Suyuti
(Ta – Ha Publishing )