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14 Oct. 2011

Umar ibn al-Khattab was born in 583 A.D. about forty years before the Hijrah. He belonged to Adi family of Quraish tribe. Abu Hafs was his patronymic name and “Al-Faruq” was his title given by the Prophet (s.a.w.). In his youth he was a famous wrestler and orator, and a spirited person. He was one among the few people in Mecca who knew reading and writing before Islam. His main profession was business.

 

 

When the Prophet (s.a.w.) got revelation and invited people to Islam, Umar became the sworn enemy of Islam and the Prophet himself. He did not hesitate to harm the Muslims and Islam at every opportunity.

It was the sixth year of the Prophet’s mission when the Quraish leaders called a meeting and asked a volunteer for the assassination of the Prophet (s.a.w.). 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 Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas who enquired of him about his destination. Umar told him that he was going to murder the Prophet (s.a.w.). After some discussion Sa’ad said:” You had better take care of your own family first. Yours sister and brother-in-law both have accepted Islam.” 

Hearing this Umar changed his direction and went straight to his sister’s house. When Umar knocked at the door, they were studying the Holy Qur’an. His sister Fatimah was frightened on hearing Umar’s voice and tried to hide the portion of the Holy Qur’an she was reciting. 

When 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 Umar saw his sister bleeding, he cooled down and felt ashamed. He loved Fatimah very much but could not tolerate her conversion to Islam. 

However, deeply moved, Umar asked her to show the pages on which the Holy Qur’an was written. But, she was, after all, Umar’s sister and told him straight,” You can not touch it unless you take a bath and make yourself clean.”

He washed his body and then read the leaves. That was the beginning of Surah Ta Ha (chapter 20). When he came to the verse:”Verily, I am Allah. None has the right to be worshipped but I. So worship Me, and perform salat for My remembrance” (20:14), Umar exclaimed,” Surely this is the word of Allah. Take me to Muhammad (s.a.w.) 

On hearing this, Khabbab (r.a.), who hidden himself in the house, came out from inside,” O Umar! Glad tidings for you. It seems that the prayer of Muhammad (s.a.w.) which he said last night has been answered in your favour. He had prayed to Allah:” O Allah! Strengthen Islam with either Umar bin Khattab or Umar bin Hisham whomsoever Thou please.” 

Umar then went to the Prophet (s.a.w.). On seeing him, the Prophet (s.a.w.) asked him,” Umar! What brings you here?” He said,” I am here to accept Islam.” Hearing this, the Muslims shouted with joy,” Allah Akbar” and the sound rent the air of Mecca. Umar’s conversion to Islam was a terrible blow to the morale of the disbelievers. Abdullah bin Mas’ud, a great companion, said,” Umar’s conversion to Islam was a great triumph, his emigration to Medina a tremendous reinforcement  and his accession to Caliphate a great blessing for the Muslims.” 

Conversion of Umar (r.a.) strengthened Islam. Muslims had lived in constant fear of disbelievers, and most of them were concealing their faith. The Muslims were able to offer their salat in congregation in the Ka’bah publicly. For this courageous and bold action of Umar, the Prophet (s.a.w.) gave him the title of “Al-Faruq”, i.e., the one who makes a distinction between the “Right” (Haqq) and the “Wrong” (Batil). 

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)