Stellar Sahabah, Umar ibn Khattab RadhiAllahu anhu.
Umar RadhiAllahu anhu was a true ascetic. He withheld and limited his reliance on the transient comforts. He preferred hardships over convenience, and uncompromisingly sought the everlasting solace of the Hereafter. His words of wisdom are a truthful mirror of a true believer who has submitted and dedicated his body, mind and soul to the privilege of serving his Lord. When Umar RadhiAllahu anhu embraced Islam, the spirit of the believers was uplifted, and he brought about a new clarity and determination to defend the divine revealed message of Allah Ta’ala. From that day on the perfidy of the unbelievers was heavily shaken, the weight of their numbers no longer influenced the balance of power, and their ignoble plots were openly challenged. May this legacy live on in the hearts of the entire Ummah. May we regain such strength as personified in this Wise Caliph, as to shake all oppressors. May his actions that once filled the Madinah air with such noble and honourable qualities, influence our contemporary lives, giving truth and justice the same impact they had through Umar RadhiAllahu anhu and his contribution to the glory of Islam.
The Prophet said SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, "None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people." He also said: "None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves himself."
One day Omar RadhiAllahu anhu went for a walk with the Prophet of Allah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam took Omar’s hand, and Omar RadhiAllahu anhu said, “By Allah, I love you O Prophet of Allah”. The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then asked him, “More than your children, O Omar?” Omar RadhiAllahu anhu replied, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.” The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then asked him, “More than your family, O Omar?” Omar RadhiAllahu anhu replied, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.” The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then asked him, “More than your money, O Omar?” Omar RadhiAllahu anhu replied, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.” The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then asked him, “More than yourself, O Omar?” Omar RadhiAllahu anhu replied, “No, O Prophet of Allah.” The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, “O Omar, your faith will never be complete until you love me more than yourself.”
So Omar RadhiAllahu anhu went away and stayed alone for a while, then he came back and stood in the middle of the mosque saying loudly, “O Prophet of Allah, now I love you more than myself.” The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then replied, “Now, O Omar. Now, O Omar.” (Meaning that now Omar’s faith is complete.) Omar RadhiAllahu anhu was later asked how he could make himself love the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam more than himself in such a short time. He replied, “I went out and asked myself whom I needed more, myself or the Prophet of Allah? I found that I needed the Prophet more. I will not intercede for myself on the Day of Judgment, but the Prophet of Allah will. My deeds will not place me in the highest of levels, but my love for the Prophet will. I did not take myself from the darkness to light, but the Prophet of Allah did. Hence, the love of the Prophet fell in my heart more than my love for myself." SubhanAllah.
Umar RadhiAllahu anhu one night went in disguise with his companion Ibn Abbas RadhiAllahu anhu to check the condition of the people on the outskirts of Madinah. They strolled from one quarter to another. At last they came to a tribe where very poor people lived. While passing by a small hut, the Caliph overheard voices from inside. A mother was telling her daughter that the amount fetched by her that day on account of the sale of milk was very little. She told her that when she was young, and used to sell milk, she always mixed water with milk, and that led to considerable profit. She advised her daughter to do the same.
The girl said, "You diluted milk, when you were not a Muslim. Now that we are Muslims, we cannot dilute milk." The mother said that Islam did not stand in the way of her diluting the milk. The daughter said, "Have you forgotten the Caliph’s order? He wants that the milk should not be diluted" The mother said, "But the Caliph has forgotten us. We’re so poor, what else should we do but dilute milk in order to survive?" The daughter said "Such living would not be lawful, and as a Muslim I would not do anything which is against the orders of the Caliph, and whereby other Muslims are deceived."
The mother said, "But there is neither the Caliph nor any of his officers here to see what we do. Daughter you are still a child. Go to bed now and tomorrow I will myself mix the milk with water for you."
The girl refused to fall in with the plan of her mother. She said, "The Caliph may or may not be here, but his order is order, and it must be obeyed. My conscience is my Caliph. You may escape the notice of the Caliph and his officers, but how can we escape the notice of Allah and our own conscience?" Thereupon the mother remained quiet. The lamp was extinguished and the mother and the daughter went to sleep.
The next day, Umar RadhiAllahu anhu sent a man to purchase milk from the girl. The milk was undiluted. The girl had kept her resolve. Umar RadhiAllahu anhu turned to Ibn Abbas RadhiAllahu anhu and said, "The girl has kept her resolve in spite of the demands of her mother. She deserves a reward. What reward should I give her?"
"She should be paid some money" said Ibn Abbas RadhiAllahu anhu. Umar said, "Such a girl would become a great mother. Her integrity is not to be weighed with a few coins; it is to be measured in the scale of national values. I shall offer her the highest award in my gift, and which shall also be in the highest interest of the nation."
The Caliph summoned the daughter and the mother to his court. The mother trembled as she stood before the mighty ruler. But the girl faced Umar RadhiAllahu anhu with a calm repose. She was beautiful, and there was an impressive dignity about her.
Then before the gathering, Umar RadhiAllahu anhu related how he had overheard the mother and the daughter, and how in spite of the pleads of the mother the daughter had kept he resolve.
Someone suggested that the mother should be taken to task. The Caliph said that ordinarily he would have punished the mother, but he had forgiven her for the sake of her daughter. Turning to the girl Umar RadhiAllahu anhu said, "Islam needs daughters like you, and as a Caliph of Islam I wish to reward you by owning you as a daughter".
The Caliph called his sons, and addressing them said "Here is a gem of a girl who would make a great mother. I desire that one of you should take this girl as wife. I know of no better bride than this girl of sterling character. In matters of wedlock, it should be the character, and not the stature in life that should count."
Abdullah and Abdur Rahman RadhiAllahu anhuma the elder sons of Umar RadhiAllahu anhu were already married. Asim RadhiAllahu anhu the third son was unmarried, so he offered to marry the girl. Thereupon with the consent of the milkmaid and her mother Asim RadhiAllahu anhu was married to the girl, and the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Caliph.
From this union was born a daughter Umm Asim, who became in due course the mother of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, who later became a Caliph.
While other Caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty lived in luxury, Umar bin Abdul Aziz upheld standards of austerity and simplicity following in the footsteps of Umar the second Caliph of Islam. It is said that if ever there was a noble Caliph after the ‘Rightly Guided Caliphs’, such a man was Umar bin Abdul Aziz. He inherited the noble qualities of the milkmaid who married the Caliph’s son, and those of Umar Farooq RadhiAllahu anhu who had the eye to discern the noble and honest qualities in a poor girl.
Another incident when Umar RadhiAllahu anhu was anonymously traveling around the environs of Madinah, dressed in his usual old and tattered clothes he came upon a young shepherd tending his flock. Umar RadhiAllahu anhu requested that he milk one of the sheep so he could satisfy his thirst. He offered the young boy money for the milk.
The shepherd said he would willingly give him a drink, but the sheep were not his, they were entrusted to him by the owner and he did not have the owner’s permission to offer any milk to any body.
Umar RadhiAllahu anhu being the wise guardian of his people took the opportunity to test this young boy suggesting that he sell him one of the sheep so he could milk it and then slaughter it later if necessary, while the shepherd profits from the money Umar RadhiAllahu anhu was prepared to pay him. He offered the shepherd an explanation for the missing sheep suggesting he tell the owner that a wolf had eaten one of the flock, that nobody would know the truth. The young shepherd exclaimed, "What about Allah?" Such love and fear and strength of Yaqeen!
Umar RadhiAllahu anhu once was wearing a new shirt, which he considered had sleeves that were too long. He called upon his son Abdullah RadhiAllahu anhu to trim the sleeves with a blade, instructing him to place his forefingers across the edge of his knuckles, cutting the excess length. Ibn Umar RadhiAllahu anhu cut the sleeves accordingly, but remarked that it looked untidy with the fabric unraveling. He offered to hem the sleeves, but Umar RadhiAllahu anhu insisted they remain like that as he had seen Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam wear sleeves like that. Abdullah ibn Umar RadhiAllahu anhu reported that his father RadhiAllahu anhu kept on wearing that shirt, even though threads dangled from the sleeves and the hem.
Many narrations tell that Umar’s RadhiAllahu anhu dress had as many as twelve patches on it, with some of the patches sewn on the top of others!
Hafsa RadhiAllahu anha, his daughter, and one of the blessed wives of the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam one day said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, There is no harm if you wear a better dress than this, and eat more wholesome food, because Allah Ta’ala has provided you amply." He replied, "Don’t you remember what Allah’s Messenger and Abu Bakr used to suffer?" he started to mention them until she wept. He continued, "By Allah, if I can share with them some of the hardships in the world, perhaps I could share with them some of their comfort in the Hereafter."
Salim ibn Abdullah narrated that Umar RadhiAllahu anhu said, "By Allah, we do not care much for the pleasures of this world. We ask for the most inferior of goats to be prepared for food when we are hungry, and we ask for wheat husk and oats’ pith to be grounded for our bread, and we prefer raisins for our vinegar. We want to save our pleasures and comfort for the Hereafter, for we have heard Allah Almighty say:
You have wallowed in your satisfaction during your life in the world and sought comfort therein. (46:20)
Another time, Umar RadhiAllahu anhu was walking along with some of the Companions RadhiAllahu anhum when they passed a rubbish dump. Umar RadhiAllahu anhu stood there for a moment pondering, which disturbed the Companions RadhiAllahu anhum. When he noticed that they were offended by the stench, he commented, "This is the world you care so much about to hoard, and this is the outcome of what you trust the most and rely upon your needs!"
During the drought year, Hijrah 18, known as the "Year of the Ashes" Umar RadhiAllahu anhu vowed not to eat meat, butter and other delicious meals until the calamity lifted. Once when he was extremely hungry, and his stomach was rumbling he was seen to tap on his stomach with his finger saying, "It does not matter if you rumble or not. You will only receive oil when life returns to normal."
One day he saw a fat camel for sale in the market. Upon inquiry he was told that it belonged to Abdullah, his son. So he went to him and asked how the camel became so fat. Abdullah RadhiAllahu anhu explained that after he originally purchased it was so thin so he put it in the government grazing ground where it became healthy, so he thought he would sell it for a good profit. Umar reprimanded him saying that seeing it became fat while in the governments ground that he could only retain a very small amount of the money from the sale and the bulk of it was to be deposited in the Baitul Maal!
Another story relays that once a supply of ambergris and musk reached Madinah from Bahrain, and he needed to find someone who knew how to weigh and measure the scents into containers. Atika bint Zaid RadhiAllahu anha, his wife offered to do that. Umar RadhiAllahu anhu told her, "I would not ask you to do this job because while performing this work if some scent sticks to your hands, I am afraid that some may rub onto your clothing, meaning I may be receiving more than my share than others in the community."
Some of Umar RadhiAllahu anhu ’s words of piety and wisdom;
"Patience is the healthiest ingredient of our life."
"You must know that greed means poverty, despair means wealth. When a man gives up hope in having something, he means that he no longer needs it, and hence, abundance connotes absence of need."
"My heart was mellowed in Allah to the degree that it became softer than butter, and it was steeled in Allah to the degree that it became harder than rock."
"I would have loved to have already met my Lord had it not been for three blessings in this world. That is: One, to prostrate my forehead on the ground before Him. Two, to sit in gatherings that favour the good word, which is like opting for the better dates on a platter and three, for the opportunity to fight in His cause, to proclaim His Word, and to establish His religion on earth."
"Wintertime is an auspicious time for worshippers."
"Weigh your actions before they are weighed, and reckon yourselves before you are reckoned, this will make it easier for you tomorrow. Adorn yourselves for the grand exhibition:
On the day, you will be displayed for judgement, and all your secrets will be brought to light. (69:18)"
Umar RadhiAllahu anhu knew of his martyrdom, as he was foretold by Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. He was once heard to say in prostration, "Lord, Thy will be done, I pray that Thou will not let my murder be at the hands of a servant who prostrated himself even once before Thee, so that his prostration will not be in his favour on the Day of Judgement." He died from the wound he suffered from a poisonous dagger of a traitorous Magian.
Peace be on you, Amir of the believers, Umar ibn Khattab, whom the Messenger of Allah said about him, "He is the lamp of the People in Paradise," and "Never the sun rises onto anyone better than Umar."
Peace be on you, who administered justice, and said what was right. Peace be on you, who was the father of the weak and destitute, the widows and orphans. We beseech Allah Ta’ala to bestow on to you, the best reward for what you have done for the nation of the Messenger of Allah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. Ameen.
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. Ameen.