Hazrat Umar (ra), the second caliph of Rasulullah (Our Messenger) (saas), was one of the closest Companions of our Prophet (saas) and was at his side from the age of 33. With the powerful character he exhibited in the face of persecution by the pagans and the profound sense of justice that spread his name across the world, he was one of the leading proponents of Islamic moral values.
Abdullah Ibn Masud described the importance of Hazrat Umar’s conversion to Islam by saying:
"Umar’s becoming a Muslim was a conquest."(Ali ibn al-Athir, Usud al-Ghabah, IV, p. 151)
Like Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Umar (ra) participated in all our Prophet’s (saas) battles.
Hazrat Umar was a Companion whose intelligence and foresight our Prophet (saas) trusted and made use of.
He played a significant role in the selection of Hazrat Abu Bakr as Caliph and thus putting an end to the confusion that followed the death of Rasulullah (Our Prophet) (saas), and he was the first person to swear allegiance to Hazrat Abu Bakr. In addition, Hazrat Umar was Hazrat Abu Bakr’s greatest helper during his caliphate.
Hazrat Umar spent all his wealth on the spread of Islam, and with his just administration he was an excellent role model for subsequent administrators. Rasulullah (Our Prophet) (saas) gave him the name of ‘Faruq,’ meaning “he who distinguishes between good and evil, truth and superstition”, and he thus became known as Umar Faruq.
Since he obeyed the injunctions of the Qur’an and the Sunna throughout his life, he was also known as “Al wakkafu indel haq (He who immediately stops and pays heed when the truth is mentioned.)”
Following the Battle of the Trench, our Prophet (saas) married Hazrat Umar’s daughter Hazrat Hafsa. Hazrat Umar thus achieved the honor of being a relative of Rasulullah (Our Prophet) (saas).
Hazrat Umar possessed a very good knowledge of genealogy, Arab family lines of descent , in other words. He learned that from his father. He was also a good wrestler. He won first prize many times in wrestling contests in the Ukas market, the largest market of Hejaz Region at that time. He was also famous for his horse-riding skills. He was very majestic, brave and strong. He was one of the few people in the time of ignorance who knew how to read and write. Hazrat Umar had a powerful way of speaking and always used the most pleasant language. His voice was deep and impressive. His superior abilities also applied to writing. The instructions and letters he wrote to his governors employed an exemplary Arabic. In battle, he was a leader who acted in a highly organized manner. Hazrat Umar knew all the routes to be taken by the armies of Islam in war and the stages involved. On arrival at the field of battle, he would ask for a map of the region and deploy his troops accordingly.
With his courage and determination, Hazrat Umar was a role model for all Muslims:
Hazrat Ali (ra) describes his migration and honorable attitude toward the pagans:
"I know none other than Umar who migrated without concealment. When he was ready to travel, he put on his sword, put his bow on his shoulder, took his arrows in his hand and went to the Kaaba. Leading members of the Quraysh were sitting in the courtyard of the Kaaba. Once he had walked around the Kaaba seven times, he performed two prayers at the rock of Abraham. He came one by one to the pagans sitting in circles and said, “Faces have been polluted. Whoever wishes to leave his mother childless, his children orphaned and his wife a widow, let him follow me in this valley.” None of them had the courage to prevent him (Suyutî, History of the Caliphs, Tarikh al-Khulafa, Beirut 1986, 130
THE TIME OF HAZRAT UMAR’S CALIPHATE
When his death approached, Abu Bakr called the leading Companions together and spoke with them, following which he appointed Hazrat Umar the new Caliph.
The 10-year Caliphate of Hazrat Umar was one of the most peaceful and just periods in Islamic history, lasting from 634 to 644 AD.
Hazrat Umar treated everyone equally in his administration of justice, as required by Qur’anic moral values. He never permitted factors such as line of descent, wealth, family or station to prevent the administration of justice.
He always acted out of a deep sense of responsibility toward Muslims. Indeed, he said,
"If a camel is killed on the shores of the Euphrates, I will hold myself responsible."
A letter sent by Hazrat Umar to the religious judges of the time served as a guide for all the administrators who followed him:
"In hearing cases, never permit over-excitement, noise or belittling behavior on the part of the different sides. Because calm and majesty are essential if justice is to be done. Manifestation of the truth will lead to increased respect for Divine justice. The duty of the judge is the just distribution of the treasures of Allah's blessings and approval among His servants.”
(Great History of Islam from Its Birth to the Present Day, Vol. 2 p. 109)
The time of Hazrat Umar witnessed many new developments. Syria, Iraq-Iran, Algeria and Egypt became Islamic countries. Hazrat Umar laid the foundations of the State of Islam by spreading his territories over a wide area. 1,036 large towns were captured in his time. Four thousand mosques were built. New settlements were erected in captured territories .
Other New Developments Hazrat Umar brought about for the State of Islam Include:
The first census was held in his time.
Children were paid wages.
A municipal weights and measures institution was created to prevent traders cheating their customers.
Hazrat Umar first employed night watchmen to ensure public order.
The Hijri calendar was established.
Judges working independently of governors were appointed in order to regulate judicial matters, and courts and prisons were established.
Children abandoned by their mothers were placed under protection.
Money was provided for Jews and Christians with nobody to support them.
The words “Es-salatü hayrun min-en-nevm,” meaning, “prayer is better than sleep”, were added to the morning call to prayer.
Sermons were initiated for instruction in mosques.
THE PEACE AND JUSTICE THAT HAZRAT UMAR BROUGHT TO PALESTINE
The greatest milestone in the history of Palestine was the conquest of the region in 637 by Islamic armies under the command of Hazrat Umar. Hazrat Umar’s entry into Jerusalem and the extraordinary maturity and kindness he showed to members of different faiths thereafter foretold the beginning of a glorious age.
After its capture by Hazrat Umar, Muslims, Christians and Jews in Jerusalem lived together in peace and tranquility for hundreds of years. Muslims never compelled anyone to convert, but many non-Muslims who saw that Islam is the true faith did indeed choose to become Muslims of their own free will.
Places of worship in captured territories were scrupulously protected in the time of Hazrat Umar. Abu Yusuf described this fact:
"All places of worship were left as they were. They were not demolished, and the defeated were not deprived of their property or possessions." (Abu Yusuf, Kitab al- Kharaj; The Administration of the State under Islam, Abul A'la Al-Mawdudi, Hilal Press, 1967, p. 74)
Hazrat Umar was martyred as he prayed in the last month of 645.
WHAT OUR PROPHET (SAAS) SAID ABOUT HAZRAT UMAR
O Muslims! This is Umar Ibni Hattab. He is a great Migrant and Helper of migrants. I have taken him as my assistant and counselor. He is so worthy that he admits and speaks the truth even if it is painful. He never seeks to avoid criticism in matters involving Allah’s command and prohibitions. Satan flees from him. Stone and iron melt in the face of his majesty. He is a person praised by the dwellers in Paradise.
Abu Bakr is the pillar of the religion. Umar is the lock on corruption. There can be no corruption so long as Umar is alive.
“When satan sees Umar Ibn Hattab he will fall on his face from his majesty!”
WISE ADVICE FROM HAZRAT UMAR (RA)
Call your earthly passions to account before you are called to account. Weight your earthly passions before you are weighed. Prepare for that greatest of days when you will come to Allah with nothing hidden.
The person I love most is he who tells me my mistakes and flaws.
Justice is the foundation of property.
The most powerful victory is piety.
One of Hazrat Umar’s most frequently recited prayers was “O Allah! Make all my deeds pure and unsullied for Your approval. Involve nothing other than Your approval.”