LESSONS FROM THE LIFE AND TIME OF HAZRAT UMAR (RTA) BEING A PAPER PRESENTED AT THE NATIONAL WORKSHOP

OF THE MKAN, HELD ON THE 26TH DAY OF JUNE, 2010 IN LAGOS BY A.A. OWOADE ESQ. “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, And those who are with him are hard against the disbelievers, tender among themselves. Thou seest them bowing and prostrating themselves (in prayer), seeking grace from Allah and (His) pleasure. Their mark is upon their faces, being the traces of prostrations. This is their description in Gospel is like unto a seed-produce that sends forth, its sprout, them makes it strong, if then becomes thick, and stands firm on its stem, delighting the sowers – that He may cause the disbelievers to bum with rage (at the sight) of them. Allah has promised, unto those of them who believe and do good works, forgiveness and a great reward”. The Prophet (PBUH) was reported to have said that “my companions are like guiding starts whichever of them you follow, you shall be rightly guided”. The intricacies of the above referred verse has been proffered in this simple but important Hadith (saying) of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in relation to His beloved disciples and their golden and virtuous characters. Morality, like worship, forms an important branch of the religion of Islam. It is the real essence of Society and it cements the corporate life of human beings. The main mission of Islam is to inculcate the sense of good conduct and dignity in the mind of man. Therefore, what Islam (the Shariah) thought of “man” and what rights it conferred to him some 1400 years ago provides an interesting study in the cultural history of mankind. It guarantees fundamental rights of the whole of mankind without any distinction of religion, caste, colour, language etc, and this guarantee is not in theory only but in practice as well. So all, the injunctions according to Professor D.O.S Noibi, “…including those that carry specific sanctions are given moral coloration, they are all invariably couched in moral exhortations in the spirit of accountability to Allah. This device has a greater impact on the morality of the individual than mere legal sanctions”. In essence however, these all should be our focus to those sterling qualities to learn from the amiable personality in focus whose life in all facets is worthy of emulation for the development and growth of our moral, spiritual and even our socio-political lives. Hadrat Umar was a man of stern and unbending temper, yet, he was just and upright, He was of a towering height and strong physique. He continued to maintain himself for sometime after becoming the khalifah by trade. And he was noted for piety, his irreproachable character became an exemplar for all Muslims. He had no concern other than the maintenance of the purity of the faith, the upholding of justice and the ascendancy and security of Islam. His personal name was Umar, Farooq was his title and Ibn-ul – Khattab was his family name. He was born in581 AD in Mecca and belonged to a noble family of the Quraish. As a non-Mulsim and a believer in the traditional faith (idol worship) of the Quraish, he considered Islam to be an affront to the traditions of Makkah. He became a staunch and robust enemy of the faith. He mistreated Muslims in Makkah and was foremost in their persecution. According to Ibn hisham’s As Sirah anNabawiyyah, when one of his maid-servants also accepted Islam, he beat her violently, yet she would not give up the faith. His mother was Hantamah, the sister of Abu Jahl, so he was intimate with the leadership of Makkah and the strength of its feeling against Islam. When the Holy Prophet announced his calim to prophethood, he became a fierce opponent of Islam since then, so much so, that one day he took up his sword and left for the prophet’s house with the motive of killing him. Subsequently, on his way, he was told of his sister who had become Muslim. He turned towards her house with high temper that led to his beating his brother in-law and wounding his sister. “We are not going to give up our faith” was the sister’s response. This was the motivating statement that calmed him down. He asked for the recitation of a portion of the Holy Quran he heard them reciting and he was so moved by the Quranic verses that his eyes were filled with tears. This in itself shows the Godliness in him even before

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the Islamic state expanded and progressed extensively. p. The sacrifice of Hadrat Umar knows no measure as well as dedication of his life for the cause of Islam. when the Prophet called for donation and he brought a half of he had. His spirit of sacrifice was awakened and motivate by the verse of the Holy Quran which says “then vie (with one another) in virtuous deeds. “This was what led to his vow on one occasion to surpass Hadrat Abubakar Siddiq. fearless and influential man of Mecca. the fact that his private actions were better showed the strength of his spiritual nature and character. He was one of the ten blessed ones to whom the prophet had given the glad tidings of having been rewarded with paradise. inform me about ‘Umar. he proved to be a source of strength for Islam and the Muslims. and that there is no-one like him amongst us. but he takes a way other than yours. • • • the state.accepting Islam while listening to Quran for the first time in his life. but rather as a result of the prophet’s prayers a day prior to that. vol. he was able to establish a spending system of administration for the Islamic state and his Khilafat marked a golden period in the history of Islam Some of his main achievements in this field are.’ (Tabari. that Allah should bless Islam with either of the two Umars. This miraculous change in him was however not by accident. my knowledge about him is that what he does in private is better than what he shows openly.’ ‘Uthman said: ‘O God. he met some members of the Muslims migrating to Abyssinia on Prophet’s suggestion. and the following illustrate that strength of feeling: “Never does Satan find you going on a way. 57. Peace and prosperity prevailed everywhere in the state. He possessed the fine qualities of bravery. During the ten years of his Khilafat. t. Similarly. Hadrat Umar Ibn Khattab was the second successor of the Holy Prophet. This was the first such prayer observed by Muslims at the Ka’bah. XI.32). There are many references to the status of ‘Umar(ra) in the Hadith. kind and far-sighted man. By sheer chance on one occasion. One of these was a woman Umm. He participated in almost all the battles along with the Holy Prophet who consulted him on many important matters. he understood at once that it was a party leaving Mecca to take refuge elsewhere. Hadrat Umar was still a disbeliever a bitter enemy and prosecutor of the Muslims. Hadrat Umar was a pious. and building of schools and mosques in different parts of 2 . Having accepted Islam. the first thing that ‘Umar(ra) did was to call together the chiefs of Makkah to declare that he had become a Muslim. 146). a consultative body of advisors to the Khalifah. Abdullah. Vol. he paid full attention to the welfare of his people. He went straight to the prophet’s house but instead of his intention that same day to kill him he rather accepted Islam at his hands. Apart from the conquest of vast areas. The implication was that since the example he had shown in public was so noble. Division of the whole Islamic state into provinces to facilitate administration. As he was a strong. When Umar saw household effects packed up and loaded on animals. The Holy Prophet(saw) had great regard for ‘Umar’s character. Establishment of finance department. al-Tabari records a conversation that Abu Bakr(ra) had with ‘Uthman(ra) about Hadhrat ‘Umar : (ra) ‘Abu Bakr said: ‘O Abu Abdallah. No one had the courage to tell him off. These notable qualities are further examined in various stages of his lives prior to his becoming a Khalifah and subsequently as would be observed.” (Bukhari. He then requested the Prophet(saw) to lead prayers at the Ka’bah and led the party of Muslims there. honesty and simplicity. which is not possible with the Meccans then to allow their victims escape and have the least chance to live elsewhere where they could Establishment of Majlis Shura.

brought tears to his eyes as well as his faithful friend (Abubakar). he unsheathed his sword and flung himself into the enemy forces. Hadrat Umar was impressed and said “GOD BE WITH YOU”. it brought mixed feelings to the Prophet. If this is true. There was no resistance to the ack of the enemy. Hadrat Umar was among those who had been defending the Prophet. “It made me smart. even before formally accepting Islam. and it almost made me cry. He was never known in blench under difficulties. instead. Hadrat Umar was baffled and became confused. What a pitiable end had met them Meccan army fled in miserable haste. he saw Umar crying and he stood amazed and asked. except you.” Replied Umm ‘Abdullah “We go to another land. it would expose the Prophet’s face to the volley of enemy’s arrows. who generally stood by the Prophet during the days at Mecca. Here is this same Umar now sitting on a stone with drooping spirits. 3 . This is the spirit of dedication and commitment of Umar as well as Anas here. a son – in – law of the Prophet among the prisoners and lying dead was Abu Jahl. you do not know what happened. I will weep with you. He could not do much before he fell wounded. If this victory had come to someone else in place of the Prophet. It was said that after the battle and the dead were identified it had been cut into pieces. and she said this is my brother’s body (Bukhari). he would have jumped with joy. it was at last that a sister of his identified it by a mutilated finger. among other eminent Sahabas of Rosulullah. “Did not your hand smart under the arrow shots and the pain make you cry” Talha replied. repeated during the 14 years which had gone by. Commander-in-chief of the Meccan army. They also fell dead. Another blow drove the rings of his helmet into his cheeks. that he was already a Muslim as he possessed the two qualities that make INSAAN (man) i. forgive and guide my people for they know not what they are doing” (Muslim). But the sight of the prisoners before him. you are crying. Anas bin Nadr came who had earlier withdrawn from the battle field had now believing the Muslims had won the battle. “Umar what is the matter with you that instead of rejoicing over magnificent victory won by the Muslims. but he still continued fighting and the enemy horde sprang barbarously on him. He was about to putting it in his mouth but. Also was Abu’l ‘As. but I resisted both because I knew that if my hand shook but slightly. Other Muslims came forward to defend the Prophet from more attacks. or at least I am putting on a weeping face”. We will not return until Allah pleases to make easy for us”. because you treat us most cruelly here. Umar replied. The enemies took him for dead and withdrew in the certainty of victory. A party of the enemy advanced forward and pushed them off and the Prophet then stood alone like a wall. is there anything which stands between Anas and Paradise? While saying this. He had proved it again and again.worship God unmolested. “The few men left with the Prophet could not have stood the army which they faced. Umar became certain that the Prophet was dead. Anas said of what use is sitting here and crying? Where our beloved Master has gone. as he could not understand why the Prophet and Abubakar should weep over victory? Being bewildered. “O God. The battlefield had now been cleared. It was recorded that. and this was clear demonstration of whom this “Man” was. The simple questing of Umar was that “Are you going?” “Yes. But at the same time he grieved over the plight of the Meccans. he made a bold approach to the Prophet and asked Prophet of God. In the meantime however. Anas. Only the Prophet with handful of guards stood against the entire enemy and all of them fell”.e love of God as well as love and feeling for man (God creatures). The Prophet lay unconscious among these bodies. At the end of the Badr encounter with the Meccan armies. If we must seep. He re-joiced over the fulfillment of divine promises. there must we go too. Long after the Battle of Uhud. He was a brave man. and soon a stone struck his forehead and made a deep gash in it. Anas has a little date in his hand. God is our witness. bound and handcuffed. friends of Talha asked him. leaving behind their deads as well as some prisoners. one against about 3000. “tell me why you weep when God has given you such a grant victory. The Prophet felt on the dead who had lost their precious lives in his defence. How deep indeed was his preparedness in upholding the cause he professed with his master. he threw it away saying. Among them was the prophet’s Uncle. “O date. his voice was motivated with emotion. Abbas. It was at this juncture that the Prophet prayed. crying like a child.

surely. The honour of Islam is enough for us all. Moreso. “Subsequently. Hadrat Umar on an occasion suggested to the Prophet that as he had to receive embassies from great monarchs. And Allah will certainly reward the grateful. Umar was present. The verse was revealed at the time of Uhud but it had the same effect that day as they felt it has been revealed for the first time. like the poor. Umar stood by him that if he should dare tell of the Prophet’s death he would lose his head. so he could not die. and he said to the Khalifah: “Commander of the Faithful. and food for me and my household at the middle rate allowed one of my people. Abubakar eventually came after having confirmed the Prophet’s death. Abubakr then added his own words thus: “Whoever worships Muhammad. an onlooker is recorded by Jalaluddin Rumi as telling the ambassador: “He has no palace. Kitabul-Libas). Here we can appreciate the loyalty. He understood that the Prophet had really passed on. “It would not be pleasing to God for me to adopt ways like this. ‘Umar’s only palace is an illuminated spirit. He left Madinah with one attendant and a camel which they took turns riding. he should have rich cloak prepared for himself he could wear on such ceremonial occasions. Though his soul might have departed from his body. But sooner has he realized this. Verily messengers have passed away before him. Muhammad has died. at the death of the Prophet. every present is not meant for personal use. If then he dies or is slain. advanced to the pulpit.” At the taking of Jesusalem. As they approached Jerusalem. will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. the news got to the mosque and the companions had assembled expecting a better news as it came like a bolt from the blue. It will look awkward in the eyes of the people if I ride and you lead the camel. The companions recovered their balance at this timely speech. It angered him if he heard anyone says that Prophet was dead. Hearing this. Once he is quoted as saying: “Nothing of the Lord’s goods is allowed me except a garment for winter and one for summer. By the time Abubakar had finished the address.” (Helminski p. ‘Umar(ra) came to the city himself after a long siege. beyond that I have no more right then any other Muslim. How can wear it when you have yourself disapproved of wearing silk garments? The Prophet then observed that. piercing the lines of faithful. On another occasion. I shall meet everybody in the clothes that I wear normally. Meaning. it was the attendant’s turn. the Prophet must return to do what has been left undone. and enough for the Pilgrimage and the rites. Allah is living and shall not die forever”. and he recited the memorable verse of the Holy Quran: “And Muhammad is but a messenger. The companions felt braced and they halfbelieved what he has been saying.” 4 . than his legs began to tremble and he fell exhausted. The Prophet could not die. for instance. He even drew his sword and threatened to kill anyone who dared say the Prophet was dead. I am not going to be unjust.” But ‘Umar insisted on maintaining the rota and replied. The Prophet refused to approve this and said. 408). Though he is famous as Commander of the Faithful.” (Q3:145). the Prophet sent one of the Silk Garments presented. Then. there were the hypocrites. to him as gifts to Umar. There must have been a mistake. he should have presented it to his wife or daughter or put it to some other use (Bukhari. so strong and new was its appeal. Umar’s spiritual eye was fully opened. There was much the Prophet had yet to do. “Oh no. an ambassador of Greece was visiting and enquired about he palace of the Khalifah where he could take his horse and baggage. The man who wanted to terrorize Abubakr with his sword had been converted by Abubakr’s speech. with whom they were yet to deal. Upon which Umar said. but was utterly stupefied with grief. Umar himself subsequently became a changed man on hearing this verse. faithfulness and consciousness of Hadrat Umar who should have taken a chance that “after all the Prophet had presented it to me”. honesty. his only dwelling is a hut.Moreover. He started to speak and Umar pulled at his shirt but he snatched it back from him. can his love and submissiveness of heart be measured for the Prophet? It is a message for us all to measure our faith. but it had only gone to return. He walked around almost like a mad man with sword in hand. surely. I give up my turn. But whoever worships Allah.

and those who have given false witness. They shall not be put to any trouble…” (Tabari. The claimant must produce evidence. People shall be absolutely free to follow their religion. that the land should not be divided among the warriors as body but should instead be made property of the state so that through its produce and income the essential works of public welfare can be carried out. ‘Umar(ra) was given the keys to the city by the Orthodox Christian Patriarch Sophronius. I do not wish that you should follow my point of view because you all posses the Book of Allah which you may derive guidance to resolve issues’. because justice is primeval. ‘Umar(ra) helped clear the site of rubbish and then a mosque was built on the site. Among other things contained therein are that: “Try to understand the depositions that are made before you because it will be useless to consider a plea that is not valid. This endeared him to the people of the city who came into the fold of the Islam Empire without conflict. He signed a peace treaty as follows: “From the servant of Allah and the Commander of the Faithful. Undoubtedly. I equally thought you will not honour the summon then. he called a public meeting for a general consultation an he addresses the public in the following words. you must not feel prevented from retreating from your first judgment. XII. On matters related to justice. These shall neither be taken over nor pulled down. 191). you. I want those who have opposed my viewpoint and those who favoured it should declare it openly. could not be a just judge. I would have seized you with the strong hold of the law. thus. This treaty applies to all people of the city. Their Churches and Crosses shall be secure. It is in line with these statements in relations to justice that on one occasion that he dismissed a judge who stood for him while he appeared before the said judge in a court with comment that. All Muslims are acceptable witnesses against each other. It is permissible to have compromise among Muslims but not an agreement through which Haram (unlawful) would be turned to Halal (lawful) and vice versa. “I thought you would fail to summon me on the suit filed by the poor complainant (plaintiff). But some companions opposed the view of the Khalifah When solution could not be found through mutual consultation. as the Prophet did Caliph Umar. The memorable letter of Sayidina Umar to Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari on the eve of his appointment as Qadi (judge) outlines the functions and responsibilities of a Muslim judge and is equally relevant even today. Their places of worship shall remain intact.So it was that the people of Jerusalem witnessed a humble man walking towards them leading his servant riding the camel. Consider all equal before you in the court and (consider them equal) in given your attention to them so that the highly placed people may not expect to be partial and the humble may not despair of justice from you. The reason is for you to participate in the trust of the caliphate which has been trusted upon me by you all. ‘Umar: The inhabitants of Jerusalem are granted security of life and property. Avoid weariness. He wanted to build a mosque in Jerusalem and the Bishop suggested the Sakha. I am an ordinary human being like you. I would have implemented the equitable sanction of Allah on you “to which the judge equally responded saying. He was of the opinion after the conquest of Iraq and Syria. To demonstrate his principle of consultation. or the rock on which God had spoken to Jacob(as). If you have given a judgment yesterday and today you may arrive to a correct opinion re-thinking. and it is better to retreat than to continue in error. fatigue and annoyance at the litigants”. except those who have received a punishment provided by the Shariah. The Christians had heaped rubbish there no tease the Jews. An oath must be taken from the defendant. 5 . vol. p. On another occasion. I have not just gathered you here and given you trouble for nothing. He then led prayers on the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque away from the Christian Church to ensure that later Muslims would not lay any claim on the Church. While in the court he addressed the judge. he was summoned by a judge to the court on a suit filed against him. O! Ameer-ul Mu’mineen.

He put down the food and at the first feed into the old man’s mouth. But a monarch grabs and commits injustice. “I swear by God I do not know whether I am Khalifah or king. the Ruler of the faithful. Is it not sufficient for you that you are standing while the Muslims are at your heels? Therefore. and on one occasion. was so pleased that she prayed aloud for him saying ‘May Allah make you the Khalifah in place of Umar. today I can see that Abubakr is no more. Hadrat Umar immediately went to the treasury and himself brought all the necessary food items to the woman. He asked what is the difference? He replied. So. If I am Monarch. I cannot see but I can feel. On his way. when he learned that in Fustat (Cairo). the man started crying to which Hadrat Umar asked for the cause and the man responded by saying.’ Again. Hadrat Umar collected the food and went into the small hurt around there where he met an aged blind old man who is also a cripple. Thanks are due to Allah. Hadrat Umar. He inquired and he was told that the children were hungry for two days and the pot was put on the fire just to console them. all those atrocities committed in the name of Islam in 6 . as this person feeding the old man does not even understand that the old man has no teeth to chew. he inquired from the closest attendant to caliph Abubakr whether there was any special thing. that has been his own stopping point. These all were based on the Prophet directives. He was so anxious about the welfare of his people that he went round in disguise at night to see if any one was in distress and in need of help. Hadrat Umar used to question the delegates concerning the conciliation of non-Muslims and their treatment at the hand of the Muslims. he wrote to him saying: ‘And now. Hadrat Umar equally showed concern for the non Muslims. to which they replied at that occasion that. “We do not know except fair treatment by fulfilling their pledge”. The woman. I have heard that you use a pulpit and thus raise yourself above the necks of the Muslims. Sufyan Ibn Abul Arjai quoted hadrat Umar ibn Al-Khatab saying. Once. to which the attendant answered in affirmative. Umar said. that is what you do. he stood. Khalifah takes only what is due and puts only where it is due. The religion of Islam and the Shariah has emphasized a great deal on the rights of the non-Muslims so much so that any Muslim who violates any of their rights is deemed a recalcitrant to God and the Prophet of Islam. but old man you cannot see how do you know? He said Yes. He was reported to have said in the last moment of his life. and their lives and properties should be defended even if it requires to go to wars (with their oppressors). The attendant was carrying some food with him and on getting to a point at the outskirt of the city.-Tabari in his historical work. Onhearing this. This is the sense of responsibility with the Khalifahs of God despite other tasks of enormous proportions before them. he observed a woman cooking something in a pot while her children were crying. during this patrol at night. this must be the person caliph Abubakr has been feeding. He immediately realized that. As narrated by A. the late Caliph had been doing. I urge you to smash it to bits. That Hadrat Abubakr did chew the food first in his mouth before putting it in his mouth. One man said Ameer-ul-Mu’mineen. assesses himself consciously as Ameer-ul-Mumineen by asking his close associates whether he was ruling like a monarch or Khalifah of the Prophet of God. They should he fullest execution of their covenant. takes from this and gives to that without basis (Jalalud Din As-Suyyuti). Additionally. one of his servants offered to carry the load but he stopped him saying. “On the day of judgment you will not carry my load”. who had not seen him before. his governor ‘Amr ibn al-‘As had built a minbar (raised pulpit with steps on which the Imam stands to deliver sermons in some mosques). his sense of responsibility and consciousness again demonstrated when after the Death of Abubakr and at the eve of his appointment as the Khalifah. there is difference between them. Hadrat Umar started crying and without saying a word left the place. And Hadrat Umar said that as to be started there and then. it is a serous matter. He did not like innovations.Another very important area of calip Umar’s interest is Welfarism and discharge of Responsibilities. “I exhort my successor regarding the treatment to be meted out to the covenanted people by the Messenger of Allah. that.

In conclusion therefore. At one time. that made him to soar so high in spirit that while delivering Friday sermon in the mosque. and asked the levy to be reduced. Libya and Iraq. stabbed him. Even in your homes adopt his standards. Abu Lu’lu’ah had approached ‘Umar(ra) to complain about the amount he had to pay his master. that while ‘Umar(ra) began the prayers. he stabbed himself (Tabari. Abu Lu’lu’ah Firoz of Basra. With this approach to his faith. Islam expanded into the Middle East and Persia. His words was. O! Sariyah take to the mountain side”. they had a mobile idol made of dates. 7 . Just a few days earlier. who held a grudge against him. and so as not to grow too attached to worldy things. Egypt. This position for spiritual eminence is still very much attainable even today if only the path of the like of Hadrat Umar can be troaded. we should subject ourselves to constant assessment and examination as learnt from Hadrat Umar who reflected always on his past while examining himself and said. as it was people of my caliber that followed the Prophet and Abubakr both of whom. The first was their killing of female children and the other being their foolishness and stupidity that they were so committed to idol worship that. “If I do not taste suffering. and his voice was heard by Hadrat Sariyah who led the Muslims forces and it led to their eventual safety and victory. he was shown the predicament facing the Muslim forces in the battle field and he called out right there. Abu Lu’lu’ah stepped forward from one of the rows and stabbed him six times. But. “O! Sariyah take to the mountain side. across North Africa and up towards Asia Minor. there was a great famine in the Hijaz and despite some supplies being sent from Egypt and Syria. he was able to respond to those who asked him during his caliphate of the degrading situation at a particular point in time why things were as such and he simply replied by saying it is bound to be so. two things constantly come to his mind of the memories of their pre-Islamic days. So it was according to historians.many parts of the world today against the non-Muslims or even the Muslims are against the pristine teachings of Islam. When apprehended. He was an exemplary Muslim. He felt a great responsibility as Khalifah and a compassion for the weak and the poor. p. May God be pleased with him. He was marshalling worshippers for the midday prayer when a disgruntled Persian non-Muslim. XIV. Muslims were encouraged to hand over land as trusts for the building of schools. ‘Umar(ra) listened to him and suggested that the level of the levy was reasonable. such as Tabari. thus. Amin. 89-90). hospitals and orphanages. ‘Umar(ra) felt so touched by the plight of his people that he swore not to touch butter or honey while the famine lasted. that lofty height attained by Hadrat Umar Farooq spiritually. Jerusalem. Vol. which they took along while journeying. how can I know the suffering of others?” Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) always remembered throughout his dealings that he was answerable to God for his actions. Mugheerah ibn Sha’bah. in the absence of any food it is this same god that would be consumed from head to toe. a man approached Hadrat Umar and complained of his wife who is not treating him as a king to which he replied treat her as a Queen she will definitely treat you as a king. He encouraged his followers to focus on the spread of the message of Islam rather than on settling and owning land. It was with this zeal that his followers were able to rapidly take the message of Islam to Syria. ‘Umar’s(ra) end was untimely. So. he was compared with and that it is people of the questionnaire’s caliber that followed him. one saddens him while the other amuses him.

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