Umar ibn Al-Khattab

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“Allah has engraved truth on the tongue and heart of ʿUmar.”
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)(i)

The tombstones of the Prophet, and the Rightly Guided Caliphs and Companions Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq and Umar ibn Al-Khattab in the Prophet's Mosque, Madinah
The tombstone of ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb (furthest right) in the Prophet's Mosque, Madinah

ʿUMAR IBN AL-KHAṬṬĀB IBN NUFAYL IBN ʿABD AL-ʿUZZA IBN RAYYĀḤ AL-ʿADAWĪ AL-QURĀSHĪ (may Allah be pleased with him) was the second ‘Rightly-Guided’ Caliph of Islam, and the first to be titled as ‘leader of the faithful’ (Amīr ul Mu’minīn). He was also known as ‘father of the lion’ (Abū Hafs) because of his severity. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also conferred on him the title of ‘al-Fārūq’ (the discriminator) due to his ability to discriminate between truth and falsehood. He was also one of the those Companions given glad tidings of Paradise by the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)(ii).

ʿUmar was born in Makkah into the ʿAdī clan of the Quraysh tribe in the pre-Islamic era. The story of his conversion to Islam begins when on one day he took up his sword and left his home with the purpose of killing the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and thus ending all the problems that were occurring in Makkah because of this new religion. However on his way, he met a friend who was secretly a Muslim. When ʿUmar related what he was going to do, the friend tried to stop him and said to him to first go and sort his own family out as his brother-in-law and sister had converted to Islam. On hearing this, ʿUmar headed for his sister’s house, where at the time his sister and brother-in-law were reading the Qur’an. When they heard him coming they hid the written pages of the Qur’an that they had, but ʿUmar had heard them. He was so angry that he started beating his brother-in-law and when his sister tried to stop him he hit her as well, causing her to bleed. When he saw that, he was sorry for what he had done and asked to see the written pages of the Qur’an. On reading a passage of the Qur’an he realised the truth of the Qur’an and then went straight to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and entered Islam(iii). He was twenty-six or twenty-seven years old. Before his conversion, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to explicitly supplicate for his conversion to Islam(iv).

After his conversion, ʿUmar was the first to declare his Islam openly, thus causing great rejoicing amongst the Muslims. He was gifted with true inspiration (kashf) and reached the distinctive rank of having his opinions later confirmed by revelation in the Noble Qur’an(v). He was second only to Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (may Allah be pleased with him) in his closeness to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He narrated five hundred and thirty nine traditions from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Those companions who narrated from him included Abū Hurayrah, ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, Ibn ʿAbbās, and his son, ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with them all).

The Hijri Calendar
The Ḥijrī calendar was established by ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb

ʿUmar became Caliph in 13 AH after the passing away of Abū Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), who had nominated him as his successor. He established the public treasury, organized the first census, established coinage as currency throughout the empire, and organized the empire into provinces and districts. He also set up a speedy and just judicial system, established the Ḥijrī calendar, levied a form of customs duty, and used analogical deduction (qiyās) in making legal rulings. He conquered the Persian Empire and most of the Byzantine Empire, including Jerusalem, and founded new cities, including Kūfa and Baṣra. He entered Jerusalem in humility, walking whilst his servant rode the camel as it was his turn to ride the camel. He repealed the Byzantine prohibition on Jews being in Jerusalem(vi) and signed a treaty with the Christians assuring their protection, and of their places of worship, in Jerusalem(vii). He had two dark lines on his face due to excessive tears and illnesses caused by reflecting on the Qur’an(viii). It took him twelve years to memorise Surah Al-Baqarah of the Qur’an, as he practised every verse he memorised before moving onto the next. He died aged sixty-three years old in 23 AH (644 CE) as a martyr after being stabbed during prayer by a non-Muslim servant. He was Caliph for ten years, six months and five nights. He was buried next to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in Madīnah.


His Sayings

“Take account of yourselves before you are brought to account.”(ix)

“We found that the goodness of our lives was patience.”(x)

“Sit with the Oft-Repentant, for they are the softest-hearted of people.”(xi)


Related Biographies:
Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq
Ibn Abbas (Abd Allah)
Umar ibn Abd Al-Aziz
Uthman ibn Affan
Zayd ibn Thabit
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