In the previous article, we spoke about the two major conversions that took place in Makkah which caused a huge safety factor to Muslims. These are Umar Ibn Al-Khattab & Hamza Abdel-Muttalib one of the prophet’s uncles. And we spoke about Hamza’s conversion story. Today we’re going to talk about Umar’s story, so let’s get started.
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was born to a respected Quraish family. He was a merchant by trade so he was used to traveling. He was a large tall man and a skilled horseman. And he was known by his fearsome temper and abnormal strength. This all gave him a terrifying vibe, although, he was known by his strong sense of justice.
Umar was an enormous threat to Muslims in Makkah. He was enraged at the Idea of Muhammad [peace be upon him] calling for Islam and insulting the pagan practices and beliefs of his ancestors. He was physically violent to the Muslims, too.
Thus, he was on the verge of killing the prophet [peace be upon him].
Umar encountered some close incidents with Islam before becoming a Muslim. One of those is when he listened to the Qur’an at Al-Ka’ba.
One day he went out in the evening for a drink (alcohol). He couldn’t find any of his drink mates nor the man who provides them with the Alcohol. That’s when he decided to face towards the Ka’ba to clear up his mind.
There, He found prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] alone, praying to Allah and reciting the Qur’an in a loud voice. And, guess what, he decided to listen to the Qur’an for the first time! He has been fighting the Dawah [the call of Islam] all these years without giving himself a chance to listen and to think thoroughly about it.
Umar drew close to the prophet so he was able to hear him without the prophet knowing he’s there.
Umar says that he became deeply affected by the verses of the Qur’an that he began wondering -to himself- about how much talented the prophet is as a poet! At that moment the prophet recited this ayah: “And it is not the word of a poet; little is it that you believe (69:41).”
He became very surprised as to how the prophet knew what he was thinking of! Then he said to himself: “Well then he must be a sorcerer, or a magician, or a soothsayer.” then the prophet recited: “Nor the word of a soothsayer; little is it that you mind (69:42).”
Umar [Radiya Allahu Anhu] felt completely floored when hearing this verse. The prophet [peace be upon him] continued;
“It is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. And if he [the Prophet (saw)] had fabricated against Us some of the sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, Then We would certainly have cut off his aorta. Not one of you could have withheld Us from him. And most surely We know that some of you are rejecters. And most surely it is the true certaintyTherefore – glorify the name of your Lord, the Great (69:43-52).”
At that point Umar walked away puzzled, confused and amazed by the Qur’an.
And here’s a great lesson. When the change comes, don’t start fighting without understanding. Give yourself a chance to acknowledge the situation, think rationally, in a peace of mind, then decide!
Umar ibn AL-Khattab Conversion:
Now, we shall start the story of Umar’s conversion to Islam.
It was in the 6th year of the revelation. Umar was appointed by a group of Quraish men to kill prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]. Umar, equipped with his sword, headed towards the place of the prophet. On the way he met a man called Nuaym ibn Abdullah, who was secretly a Muslim. Nuaym asked him why he is in such a rush looking all angry. Umar replied that he is going to kill Muhammad.
Nuaym was startled by the news! He couldn’t think of a way to divert Umar away from harming the prophet but to tell him this: “Do you think Banu Abd Manaf would let you walk freely if you killed the prophet [their son]”.
Umar gave no response in return as he was not affected by that.
Nuaym thought of a different idea. He told Umar why not go check on his family first as he heard they converted to Islam. It turned out that Umar’s sister and her husband had secretly converted to islam!
Umar ibn AL-Khattab was stunned by this piece of news. He went directly to his sister’s house [Fatimah]. On reaching there, he heard a voice reciting the Qur’an.
What did he do in Fatima’s house?
Fatimah and her husband were learning the Qur’an with Khabbab. The latter hid when hearing that someone is approaching them.
Umar entered the house and started asking them about what they were reciting. The denied, trying to avoid the topic but Umar insisted on knowing what’s going on. They refused to explain the matter which drove him crazy that he jumped to his brother-in-law to strike him. While his sister was trying to stop the fight, Umar hit her violently that she started bleeding.
On seeing the blood on his sister’s face, Umar stopped. Fatimah said to him: “O Umar, you can do what you like, but you cannot turn our hearts away from Islam”.
Umar was perplexed by the scene & what he just heard. He asked his sister to show him what they were reciting. Fatimah told him that he should perform Ghusl first [take a bath] to purify himself so as to read the Qur’an.
He did so then he started reading:
“Ta, ha. We have not sent down the Quran to you to [cause] your distress, but only as an admonition for those who fear [God]. A Revelation from Him who created the earth and the heavens on high. The Most Gracious is firmly established on the throne. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and all between them, and all beneath the soil. Whether [or not] you speak aloud, verily He knows what is secret and what is yet more hidden. He is God! There is no God but Him! To Him belong the most beautiful names.” Quran; 20:1-14
Umar then continued reciting until he reached this verse: “Verily, I am God: there is no God but I: so serve Me, and establish regular prayer for My remembrance.” [20:14]
He stopped reading and showed his adornment to verses. Khabbab felt this is a good sign so he came out of his hiding place and told Umar that he heard the prophet praying to Allah to grant his community support through the conversion of the most beloved man to Allah between Abu al-Hakam and Umar ibn al-Khattab.
Umar embracing Islam:
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab asked where Muhammad was. They told him he was at Al Arqam’s place so he went there. When he reached, the Sahabah (companions) were afraid of him because he was still carrying the sword in his belt. However, the prophet told them to let him in. Umar immediately declared his good intention of embracing Islam. The prophet said loudly: “Allahu Akbar!” [Allah is the most great]. He was very pleased that Allah has answered his prayers.
Umar went announcing his conversion to Abu-Jahl. He feared no one.
The conversion of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was a real triumph for the cause of Islam. So great and instant was the effect of his conversion on the situation that the believers who had worshiped Allah within their four walls in secret now assembled and performed their rites of worship openly in the Holy Sanctuary itself. This raised their spirits, and dread and uneasiness began to seize Quraish.
Practicing Islam publicly:
He also suggested that the Muslims start praying publicly in front of Al Ka’bah which involves risks. The prophet agreed and they went in a group. He said regarding this incident: “After I had embraced Islam, I asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him): ‘Aren’t we on the right path here and Hereafter?’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) answered: ‘Of course you are! I swear by Allah in Whose Hand my soul is, that you are right in this world and in the hereafter.’
I, therefore, asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him) ‘Why we then had to conduct clandestine activism. I swear by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, that we will leave our concealment and proclaim our noble cause publicly.’ We then went out in two groups, Hamza leading one and I the other. We headed for the Mosque in broad daylight when the polytheists of Quraish saw us, their faces went pale and got incredibly depressed and resentful. On that very occasion, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) attached to me the epithet of Al-Farouque.
This shows us how a strong man he was, in terms of personality. Physically, too. This was a sign of victory to the Muslims.
That’s it for Today’s blog. I hope you enjoyed Umar’s story.