Hazrat Umar ibn al-Khattab, known as Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA), was the Second Caliph of Islam. The First Caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (RA), had himself nominated him for succession. He was a born leader, stronger amongst Arabs. He was a tall man, a famous wrestler and warrior. With his embrace of Islam, the Prophet’s followers who were weak and isolated, got so much strength that they openly started praying in the Kaaba. He was a man of wisdom, a jurist, a strategist, and philanthropist. During his 11 years of rule as caliph, he not only demonstrated highly remarkable and exceedingly unprecedented leadership, but also displayed the height and bright of character that it makes him a timeless role model for all generations to come.
Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) has the honour that the Prophet (PBUH) himself had wished and prayed to God for Umar’s embrace of Islam. He has the credit of being so honest and straightforward, and for having pious and just nature that it earned him the illustrious title of “Al-Farooq”, which means the one who has the ability, clarity and wisdom to distinguish between right and wrong. He has the credit of defeating the two superpowers of his time, Persian Empire and Roman Empire. He conquered Mesopotamia and Syria, Palestine (Jerusalem), Iran and Egypt. His rule expanded to vastness of an area over 22 lac square miles.
Early Life, Tribe and Trait
Umar bin Khattab was born in Makkah in 586 AD. His father Khattab was a strongman of Quraish tribe’s clan of Adi. He grew up as a tall, handsome and strong young man who emerged as a wrestling champion, and knocked down most of the combatants in the annual Ukkaz fairs. Despite being a left-hander, he was able to use the pair of swords with both hands. He was a new gent in Makkah who earned the fame of having wisdom, and better sense of understanding. His strong personal character, intelligence, integrity and resoluteness made him a leader par excellence.
The Prophet’s Choice
Such a good fame of Khattab’s son had spread all over the peninsula. The Prophet (PBUH) was also aware of his prowess, standing and pragmatic approach towards various matters. He had a wish that if Umar like influential embraced Islam, it would help the new faith to flourish. Umar on his part, grew up as a strong opponent of the new faith. It is said that he wanted to kill the Prophet (PBUH) who introduced a new faith that, in his view, caused ripples in the Arab society.
One day, he got highly angry when he heard that his sister Fatima and her husband Saeed had secretly embraced Islam. He rushed to sister’s home, and heard her reciting verses of the Quran from outside the closed door. She was frightened on hearing Umar’s voice, and tried to hide the portion of Quran she was reciting. On inquiring and insisting about what she was reciting, she recited some Verses from Surah Al Hadeed, which left Umar into a deep thought. Hearing the Verses changed his world. When she read Verse 7 that says, “Bring faith in Allah and His Prophet and spend out of that in which He has made you successors. For those who have believed among you and spent, there shall be a great reward”, tears rolled down his eyes. He went into deep thought and pondered over the message given through the Quran. He concluded that those Verses were not some human’s creation. It actually opened floodgate of his conscience to continuously think about the Divine message, and consequently ended up in the Prophet’s wish coming true.
Umar’s Embrace of Islam
It was 615 AD when Umar Farooq (RA) became Muslim. Soon after he embraced Islam, he announced in loud voice, standing in front of Kaaba: “I bear witness that God is One and Muhammad is His Prophet”. He declared: “From now on Muslims will offer Salat (namaz) in open.” This gave much strength to the followers, and encouraged others to embrace Islam. In fact, Hazrat Umar’s (RA) journey to Islam is a testament to transformative change. His conversion from a staunch opponent to one of Islam’s most prominent leaders illustrates the power of guidance and wisdom. That’s why the Prophet (PBUH) gave him the title of Al-Farooq, which means the one who differentiated; his inclusion created a big difference between kufr (infidelity) and Islam. You as young ones can learn the importance of open-mindedness, reason, and the ability to reassess things with wisdom and pragmatism.
Umar Farooq (RA) as Companion
Very soon, Umar gained the status of Prophet’s advisor. He was also closely associated with Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA). He also shifted to Madina when the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions migrated, in 622 AD. He actively took part in battles of Badr (624), Uhd (625), Trenches (627), Hunain (630), and various other expeditions. He also played role of a conciliatory who negotiated with infidels and Jews. When Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) became the first Caliph, in 632, Hazrat Umar (RA) was the one whom he relied upon the most. Before his demise in 634, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) nominated Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) as his successor.
Umar Farooq (RA) as Caliph
Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) took over the reign in August 634, and was the first to be called as Amir-ul-Momineen (Commander of the Faithful). His more than 10 years’ period saw the transformation of the Islamic state from an Arabian principality to a world power. His era is synonymous with justice and fairness. His famous saying, “Even if a dog were to stumble on the banks of the Euphrates, Umar would be responsible for it,” underscores his commitment to justice, empathy and kindness. Kids can draw inspiration from his sense of responsibility, and learn to treat the mankind with kindness, and without discrimination.
Expansion of Territorial Boundaries
During Hazrat Umar bin Khattab’s reign, Islam as a Faith flourished greatly, and Islam as a State expanded vastly. His military Generals like Khalid bin Waleed (RA), Abu Ubaida bin Jarrah (RA), Amr bin Aas (RA), Saad bin Waqas, and others laid the foundation of conquering the two superpowers of that time – Roman Empire, and Persian Empire. His warriors like Zarrar bin Azwar (RA) and Khaula bint Azwar (RA) had established fear and fright in the hearts of enemies.
His caliphate is notable for its vast conquests. Aided by brilliant field commanders, he was able to annex the present day Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and south western Pakistan. In total, Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) conquered more than 2,200,000 square miles’ area without a trained army during his over 10-year-rule, which included the two superpowers of that time – Roman Empire and Persian Empire. This is far more than the territories conquered by Alexander the Great who conquered 1,800,000 square miles’ area with a strong, trained and organized army during his 10-year-rule.
Hazrat Umar’s Reforms
Hazrat Umar (RA) was a great visionary, a thorough statesman and an extraordinary administrator. He, through the remarkable expansion, put in place foolproof control over the conquered territories and laid down the laws, regulations and principles for administering the annexed lands. The structure of the later Islamic empire, including legal practice, is largely because of him. He established “Diwan” institution for soldiers’ pay, pension, P-leave, education, health and wellbeing of the families of shuhada and soldiers fighting in far-flung areas. He set up garrison cities (cantonments) of Al-Fustat in Egypt, and Basra and Kufa in Iraq. He was the first to establish the office of Qazi (judge) for easy and quick justice. His era was synonymous with justice. He was the first who issued the Islamic Hijri calendar.
In 644, Caliph Umar (RA) was attacked by a prisoner named Feroz Abu Lulu, who was a Christian by faith, and had been working as finance minister for Harmzan, a Persian governor and top commander of the king’s army. It was actually Harmzan who masterminded the assassination, and used Feroz who usually assisted Hazrat Umar in the calculations of State’s financial ledgers. Feroz inflicted multiple wounds of dagger on Umar from behind when the Caliph was leading prayers. Three days later, the leader of the Muslim world succumbed to the wounds. His demise inflicted the biggest loss to the state as well as Islam. However, while he lay dying, Umar (RA) appointed a six-man council that eventually selected Hazrat Usman bin Affan as his successor.
Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) left a shining legacy to follow. Here are some to read:
Leadership and Justice
His title “Al-Farooq” given himself by the Prophet (PBUH) refers to his intrinsic nature of dispensing equal justice to all. He believed in fairness and equality. He made sure that the share from Baitul Maal reached every citizen without discrimination.
Simplicity and Humility
Despite holding one of the highest positions as the Commander of the Faithful, Hazrat Umar (RA) remarkably lived simple life. His modesty and humility teach us the value of contentment and the importance of staying humble.
Education and Knowledge
Hazrat Umar (RA) was a strong proponent of education and knowledge. We get encouragement to emulate his enthusiasm for learning, fostering a culture of curiosity, and continuous self-improvement.
Hazrat Umar's concern for women’s rights was ahead of time. His reforms and decisions aimed at protecting and empowering women serve as a source of inspiration for young minds. We can learn about gender equality and the importance of respecting and uplifting every individual in society.
Compassion and Empathy
Hazrat Umar’s compassion towards the less fortunate is well-documented. His establishment of welfare programs and constant concern for the welfare of the community showcase the importance of empathy. Likewise, we should develop a caring attitude towards others.
Courage and Fearlessness
Hazrat Umar’s courage on the battlefield and in decision-making sets a powerful example. You can draw strength from his fearlessness, and his resolve to face challenges with determination and resilience.
In the rich tapestry of Islamic history, Hazrat Umar (RA) stands out as a paragon of virtue and leadership. One can find in him a timeless role model whose life provides a roadmap for building a just, compassionate, and resilient society. By embodying the values of Hazrat Umar, our young generation can contribute to a brighter future for Pakistan, and the global community.
Famous Quotes by Hazrat Umar (RA)
Hazrat Umar bin Khattab (RA), the Second Caliph of Islam, is known for his wisdom and leadership. Here are a few famous quotes attributed to him:
- “Acquire knowledge and teach it to the people. Learn dignity and tranquility, for they are your adornment in this world and the next.”
- “Let not your love be infatuation, and let not your hatred be destruction.”
- “Take account of yourselves before you are taken to account; weigh your deeds before they are weighed.”
- “The best way to defeat someone is to beat him at politeness.”
- “He who does not have forbearance, has nothing.”
- “We were the most humiliated people on earth and God gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, God will humiliate us again.”
- “Since when you have taken people for slaves and they were born free.”
- “The most beloved of people to me is he that points out my flaws to me.”
- “Learn the Arabic language; it will sharpen your wisdom.”
- “Sometimes the people with the worst past, create the best future.”