How did Hz. Umar, the fortieth Muslim, become a Muslim?

Details of the Question
How did Hz. Umar, the fortieth Muslim, become a Muslim?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

(6th Year of the Prophethood, month of Dhulhijjah / 616)

The joining of Hazrat Hamzah, an incomparable hero, to the ranks of Muslims and the immigration of a group of Muslims to Abyssinia caused the polytheists of Quraysh to become lost in deep thought. A great worry and fear started to consume their lives.

They all had the same decision set in their minds: to solve the matter regarding Abu Talib’s orphan, Muhammad, once and for all.

The Quraysh organized their talks on this matter at Daru’n Nadwa. After their fiery and intense discussions, Abu Jahl’s proposal was accepted: “to annihilate Muhammad’s body.”

Who could dare to attempt such a fearsome murder? A possible vendetta administered by the Sons of Hashim was also a point of matter to be considered. Some were even making bold promises. For example, Abu Jahl promised,

“Whoever kills Muhammad will receive 100 red and black camels, this much gold, this much silver, etc from me.”

Nobody could find the courage to commit this appalling deed. However, there was someone from among them who did; he was tall, had an imposing build, and never bowed before anyone, He came forward and said,

“I will do it.”

At one moment, all eyes turned towards this fearless man, who had come forth. They saw that he was Umar, the Son of Hattab. The Qurayshis were confident that Umar was more than capable; thus, they all said,

“Yes, only you can do this. Let us see what you can do!” in unison.

Umar was fixed in his decision: he was going to go straight to Darul Arqam, find our Holy Prophet (PBUH), and execute his decision.

After Umar looked around in a furious manner with his eyes that had become bloodshot red, he went directly towards the Kaaba and circumambulated it. Afterwards, he walked towards Darul Arqam with deep feelings of animosity and aggression.

It was very obvious that he was on a mission to fulfill some goal. On his way, he encountered Hazrat Nuaym bin Abdullah, a relative who had become Muslim but concealed his faith. Hazrati Nuaym could not help asking questions when he noticed the apparent change seen in Hazrat Umar’s attitude:

“Where are you going, O Umar?”

Hazrat Umar replied without showing any need to conceal his purpose, “I’m going to eliminate Muhammad, the one who has instilled disunity among the Quraysh!”

Hazrat Nuaym went cold all over upon hearing this dreadful decision and looked for ways to dissuade him from this idea.

“By Allah, you are embarking on a very difficult affair. Muhammad’s companions never leave his side for the slightest moment. It is very difficult to find a way. Let us say that you were able to find a way and killed him. Do you think that the Sons of Abd al-Manaf would allow you to roam freely on the face of the Earth?”

Umar looked at his addressee sternly and asked “Or are you on his side as well?” However, he received an unexpected answer:

“O Umar, forget about me; return to your family and community. Your brother-in-law and uncle’s son, Said bin Zayd and his wife, your sister, Fatima, have submitted to Muhammad’s religion. Go and deal with them first!”

Hazrat Umar was bewildered and worried. He did not want to believe what he had heard. In fact, it looked as if he did not even find the need to investigate. However, he could not overcome the doubts that filled him; he changed his mind halfway down the road and went straight towards his sister’s home.

In the meantime, the altruistic Companion, Habbab bin Arat, was reciting the chapter Taha, which had just been revealed, to Hazrat Said and Hazrat Fatima. Hazrart Umar heard this sounds when he neared his sister’s home. He furiously knocked on the door once or twice. When no one opened the door, he pushed against the door with his shoulder and rushed into the house with rage.

Hazrat Fatima had understood that the one furiously knocking on her door was her brother Umar; thus, she put away the pages of the Quran while Hazrat Habbab hid in a corner. Hazrat Umar asked in a tone filled with much displeasure,

“What was it that you were reading?” When his brother-in-law replied with nervousness and worry,

“It was nothing, we were just talking among ourselves”, Hazrat Umar’s anger and rage increased thoroughly. He held his brother-in-law, who innocently stood there, by his neck and said,

“So that means what I have heard is true; you also converted to Muhammad’s religion, didn’t you?” as he hurled him to the ground. Hazrat Fatima attempted to save her husband. She also found herself on the ground after receiving a harsh punch.

Hazrat Fatima understood that there was no point in concealing her faith any longer. She rose to her foot and shouted,

“Do whatever you can, Umar! My husband and I are now Muslims. We have testified to Allah and His Messenger (PBUH).”

She followed by reciting the Kalima  ash-Shahada, the affirmation of faith, and the room instantly rang with the magnificence of this oath.

It was an exemplary and heartbreaking sight. How could someone cruelly hit his sister and leave her drenched in blood for saying, “My Lord is Allah”? What hardened heart would not soften and what conscience would not come to reason in the sight of a person who continues shouting her cause despite being in a welter of blood?

Umar was suddenly taken aback. He felt as if his heart was fluctuating. He could not stand on his feet any longer; thus, he sat down. After thinking deeply for some time, he said,

“Bring me what you were reading so that I can see what Muhammad says.”  At first, Hazrat Fatima was hesitant. She was afraid that her brother would attempt to defame the pages of the Holy Quran. However, Umar ceased her worries by saying, “Do not be afraid.”

Yet, she could only give the pages of the Quran to those who were purified and because Umar was still an adherent of polytheism, he was not considered to be spiritually clean. Therefore, Hazrat Fatima said,

“My Brother, you are not considered to be clean because you are an adherent of a faith that associates partners to Allah. Only those who are clean can touch it. Rise and wash yourself.”

Hazrat Umar rose and bathed himself by performing a full ablution (ghsul) over his body. Upon this, Hazrat Fatima took the pages of the Quran with the utmost respect and handed them to him.

Hazrat Umar was a scribe; therefore, he knew how to read and write (not many people during his time had these skills.) He began reading the page he held in his hands from the beginning to its end:

“Ta Ha. We have not sent down the Qur'ân unto you (O Muhammad SAW) to cause you distress, But only as a Reminder to those who fear (Allâh). A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high.” 1

Hazrat Umar both read and reflected upon these verses. He was baffled in the face of the timeless and literary eloquence of the Holy Quran. It was as if he was not the same Umar, who had firmly grasped the handle of his sword, intending to kill our Holy Prophet (PBUH). The insensitivity in his heart and the anger seen on his face had both disappeared. His eyes that had been bloodshot were now gleaming with light. His inner being was smiling along with his face. When he read the verse,

"Verily I am Allah: there is no god but I: so serve thou Me, (only) and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise” 2 of the chapter, he shouted:

“This is such a beautiful, honorable, and sublime remark! No remark can be sweeter and more beautiful than this!”

This expression was proof that his heart had attained both guidance and luminance. Hazrat Habbab, who had heard Hazrat Umar’s words, came out from his hiding spot and said,

“Glad tidings, O Umar. I hope the prayer that Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) made on your behalf will come true. Last night he prayed, “My Lord, strengthen Islam through either Abu’l-Hakam bin Hisham (Abu Jahl) or Umar bin Hattab.”

Umar bin Hattab and Abu’l-Hakem Amr bin Hisham (Abu Jahl): One of them (Abu Jahl) had proposed for the Master of the Universe (PBUH) to be murdered since that would have been the only way through which the Islamic cause could be hindered, whereas the other, Hazrat Umar, had accepted this proposal and rose to carry out this decision. The negative perceptions that Hazrat Umar had previously held about Islam and our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had now completely shifted. He wanted to go to our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) presence and feel the warm embrace of his light as soon as possible. He asked,

“Where is Allah’s Apostle?”

When he learned that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was at Darul-Arqam, the outskirts of Mount Safa, he immediately set off on his way with Hazrat Habbab. A watchman informed our Holy Prophet (PBUH) that Hazrat Umar had come with a sword on his waist. An air of worry and nervousness beset upon everyone with the exception of Hazrat Hamza. This great Islamic hero grasped his sword and said,

“Let him come. What is there to be scared of? If he has come with good intentions, then we will welcome him with benevolence. If he has come with bad intentions, then we will dispose of him with his own sword.”

Smiles appeared on the Master of the Universe’s (PBUH) face as he watched the scene before him. He had received news that Umar’s heart had been embraced by the light of guidance. Without getting worried or nervous at all, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said,

“There is nothing to be worried about, let him come. If Allah desires beneficence for him, then He will deliver him in the right direction.”

The door opened upon this command. Umar, who was waiting in front of that door, entered with his imposing appearance and weapon. There was not a trace of anger that could be seen on his face; instead, his face radiated with a glisten of love. His eyes were searching for the light of both truth and reality. At one moment, he came eye-to-eye with our Holy Prophet (PBUH). It was as if he was going to pass out in the face of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) grandeur. He forgot about everything. Our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) light-filled glances had deeply grasped Hazrat Umar under their influence.

After they looked at one another for some time, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) disrupted Hazrat Umar’s air of nervousness, silence, and worry by asking,

“Why did you come, O Hattab’s Son, Umar?” Afterwards, he extended his hand and held his sword by its handle and prayed,

“O My Lord, this is Hattab’s Son, Umar. My Lord, strengthen the religion of Islam with Umar, Son of Hattab (Umar bin Hattab).

Hazrat Umar’s soul had given rein to the Sun of Guidance. He answered our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) question by saying,

“I have come to testify to Allah and His Apostle and what he has brought.” Afterwards, he recited the Kalima  ash-Shahada, the oath of faith, and became a Muslim. 3

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions were immensely happy. In unison, they all recited the Takbir loudly: "Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great, God is Great!) These sounds of Takbir that were heard on the streets of Mecca rang in the horizon and from there, rose to the skies as waves filled with light.

Hazrat Umar had become a Muslim, in fact, he became the 40th Muslim. From thereon, his bravery, courage, and strength were no longer in the way of disbelief. He was going to exercise these qualities for the sake of Islam. Umar, who had run forth to kill our Holy Prophet (PBUH) upon the decision of the polytheists, was now like a fan circulating around him. Now that Hazrat Umar had a perpetual power, which resulted from having faith, added to his valor, he would challenge and intimidate the polytheists from thereon. By receiving light and illumination through our Holy Prophet (PBUH), he would be known by the title, “Umar, the Just” in the world history.

Entering Masjid-al-Haram in Ranks

Hazrat Umar, whose real source of courage resided in his faith, could no longer stay put in his place. He asked our Holy Prophet (PBUH),

“O Allah’s Apostle, whether we die or live, are we not in the true religion?" When our Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied,

“Yes, I swear by Allah in whose hand is my soul that you are”,

Umar said, “In that case, why do we continue to conceal out faith? I swear by Allah Who has sent you with the religion of truth that I will bravely go to every assembly of polytheism and announce Islam without fear and hesitation.”

Upon this, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) set towards the Kaaba from Daru’l-Arqam, with Hazrat Umar on his right, Hazrat Hamza on his left, and the other companions (sahaba) following them from behind.  They entered the Masjid al-Haram with dignified steps.

The polytheists, who were expecting our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) head, were surprised when they saw this sight. They were looking at Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Hamza with scared and nervous glances. They were able to gather their courage and ask,

“O Umar, what is behind you? What did you come with?”

Hazrat Umar replied, “I came with La ilaha illalah Muhammadur Rasullulah. Nobody should move from his place or else I will cut his neck.”

The polytheists became silent. It was as if their tongues were tied. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) circumambulated the Kaaba and prayed freely. The Muslims were also able to pray openly.

Hazrat Umar said,

“It was then that Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) gave me the name, “Faruq” for separating truth and falsehood. 4

Hazrat Hamza’s conversion to Islam followed by Hazrat Umar’s ensured Islam’s development, enabled Muslims to worship freely, and saved Muslims from the constraints imposed by the polytheists. In this regard, Hazrat Umar’s joining of ranks with the Muslims held an important place in Islamic history.  One of the companions, Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud made note of this importance,

“When Umar became a Muslim, it was a conquest for Islam, an honor as well as a glory for the Muslims, His migration to Makkah was a victory, and his Caliphate was a mercy. Until Umar became a Muslim, we could not openly pray in the Kaaba’s courtyard.”5

Footnotes:

1. Taha, 1-4
2. Taha 14
3. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, 1/366-371; Ibni Sa'd, Tabaqat, 3/267-269; Suhayli, Rawdu'l-Unf, 1/216-219
4. Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat: 3/270
5. Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat: 3/270; Suhayli, Rawdu'l-Unf: 1/219

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