The Righteous Caliph – Umar Ibn Khattab

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Umar Ibn Al-Khattab Radhiyallaho anhu, the second khalifah of Islam had more virtues than can be counted. He was admired by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This man was so great that the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said about him:

“If there were to be a prophet after me, indeed he would be Umar, son of Khattab.” [Tirmidhi, Hadith 3686]

There are so many qualities of Umar Radhiyallahu anhu that we can take from. His humbleness, fear of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, his generosity. But what is most inspiring about his character, more than anything else is his sense of justice, the transformation of a man who was entirely unjust, to a man who became a symbol of justice for all of mankind.

Umar Radhiyallaho anhu had such a deep respect for Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala that he was always very humble and filled with humility. It was his fear of the question of “what will you say to your Lord” that motivated all his actions. In fact under his khilafah, he would even fear for the animals and would say to them that “I am afraid I’ll be asked about you”. The same man who used to torture people before Islam, would now shed tears and say “I am afraid that a camel who is overburdened would come and testify against me on the Day of Judgment”. He used to go out every single night with bags of wheat and rice and flour on his back serving the needy.

During the year of ar-rama’adah, 18th year after Hijrah, the muslims were struck by a serious famine. 60,000 refugees came to Madina that year. The famine was so severe that Umar Radhiyallaho anhu made a dua to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala saying

“O Allah! Do not let the Ummah of Muhammad (Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) be destroyed on my watch”.

And he said a very profound statement:

“How can I consider myself to be a shepherd when I am not struck with what my flock are struck with?”

So every time Umar Radhiyallaho anhu saw someone who was deprived of something, he would deprive himself of it. That year, because of lack of nutrition, Umar Radhiyallho anhu changed colors. The Sahabas said “we were afraid that if the famine continued any longer, Umar was surely going to die.” 40,000 of those 60,000 refugees had passed away! Alhamdulillah, Allah lifted the famine from the believers and they still had their Khalifah.

Once in Egypt, one of the sons of Amr bin Aas Radhiyallaho anhu was racing with a Christian Coptic and when he lost the race, he lashed the christian in the name of his father, saying “I am the son of the nobles”. So when the christian man was unjustly hit, he went to Madina to Umar Radhiyallaho unhu to seek justice and found him cleaning the masjid. Umar Radhiyallaho unhu listened to what he had to say, then summoned his governor Amr ibn Aas and his son and confirmed the story. He then gave the coptic a whip and said “Lash the one who lashed you unjustly and then lash his father too, for you were hit in his name.” He, Radhiyallaho anhu actually asked a christian man living under his rule to hit a companion, Amr ibn Aas Radhiyallaho anhu and his son!

He was just with the Muslims, the non-Muslims, the animals, the rich and the poor.

After the conquest of Jerusalem, the patriarch took him to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the time of Salat-ul Duhr came. The patriarch told Umar Radhiyallaho anhu “Why don’t you go ahead and pray here.” But Umar Radhiyallaho anhu declined and said “If I pray here, I am afraid Muslims will come later and say this is a masjid because Umar prayed here.” So he took a few steps outside the church and prayed his Salat-ul Duhr and today, at that very location we have Masjid Ul Umar.

There is even a statement by Umar Radhiyallaho anhu in the United Nations charter-

“How can you enslave a man who was born free.”

This is our Deen! We ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to bless us with such quality of justice and compassion.

Umar Radhiyallaho anhu was violently stabbed six times at the time of the Morning Prayer by a Persian slave named Firoz. Even when he was in his death he had two concerns. One that the believers continued their Salah. And the second one should really bring tears to the eyes and soften our hearts seeing the state of the Ummah today. He asked who his murderer was. When told, he said “Praise be to God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim.”

Even in the final leg of his life, he was still concerned about the Ummah. Here was a man who had beaten a slave girl for her acceptance of Islam only to become a Khalifah and one of the greatest Muslims that ever lived. He is a shining example of how Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the owner of the hearts, for the same man who set out with sword in hand to kill the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, now lays buried beside him in Medina.

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