The exact date of the birth of Umar is not known. The concensus of opinion, however, is that Umar was born at Mecca around 580 A.D He was younger than the Holy Prophet of Islam by about ten years.
Umar belonged to the Adi clan of the Quraish. It was one of the ten clans of the Quraish who inhabited Mecca.
The pedigree of Umar was: Umar the son of Khattab; the son of Nufail; the son of Abul Uzza; the son of Riza; the son of Ribah; the son of Qurat; the son of Adi; the son of Katb.
The pedigree of the Holy Prophet was: Muhammad (peace be on him) the son of Abdullah; the son of Abdul Muttalib; the son of Hashim; the son of Abd Munaf; the son of Qussay; the son of Kulab; the son of Ka’b.
In the case of Abu Bakr and the Holy Prophet, Murrah in the eighth degree was their common ancestor. In the case of the Holy Prophet and Umar, Ka’b in the ninth degree was their common ancestor.
Among Umar’s ancestors, Adi rose to prominence as a diplomat, and the clan came to be known after him. Whenever the Quraish of the day had to negotiate any settlement with any other tribe, Adi represented the interests of the Quraish as an ambassador. Even in the case of disputes among the Quraish themselves, Adi acted as the arbitrator. After the death of Adi the two offices of diplomatic representation and arbitration became hereditary in his descendants.
Umar’s grandfather Nufail arbitrated in a dispute between Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of the Holy Prophet and Harab bin Umayyah over the custodianship of the Ka’bah. Nufail gave his verdict in favour of Abdul Muttalib. Addressing Harab bin Umayyah he said:
“Why do you pick a quarrel with a person who is taller than you in stature; more imposing than you in appearance; more refined than you in intellect; whose progeny outnumbers yours and whose generosity outshines yours in lustre? Do not, however, construe this into any disparagement of your good qualities which I highly appreciate. You are as gentle as a lamb, you are renowned throughout Arabia for the stentorian tones of your voice, and you are an asset to your tribe.”
This address is indicative of Nufail’s skill in diplomacy and his highly developed sense of judgment.
Khattab the father of Umar was among the prominent members of the Banu Adis. The Banu Adis had some feuds with Banu Abdul Shams. The Banu Abdul Shams were stronger in power and position, and the Banu Adis as a safety measure had to seek alliance with some other clan. They allied themselves with Ranu Shams. On this alliance, Khattab composed the following verses:
“How can Abdul Shams still threaten us,
When other men of mettle espouse our cause?
In the halls of Banu Shams there are mighty warriors,
Whose hospitality and protection we enjoy.”
The house in which Umar was born in Mecca was situated midway between Safa and Marwah. During the period of his caliphate, Umar had the house dismantled, and the site was turned into a camping ground.
Umar’s mother was Khantamah who was the daughter of Hisham bin al-Mughirah. Al-Mughirah was a personage of high rank among the Quraish. In the event of war he marshalled the Quraish troops and led them to war. Hisham the maternal grandfather of Umar and al-Walid the father of the renowned General Khalid were brothers. Khalid was thus a cousin of Umar s mother and his maternal uncle.
Abu Jahl whose personal name was Amr bin Hisham bir al-Mughirah was a brother of Umar’s mother, and his maternal uncle. One of the sisters of Umar’s mother, Umm Salma was married to the Holy Prophet of Islam.
Umar had several brothers and sisters. The most well known out of these were: Zaid and Fatima. Zaid and Umar were step brothers, their mothers being different. Nevertheless the two brothers were devoted to each other. When Zaid was later martyred at the battle of Yamama during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umar was highly grieved. He used to say, “Whenever the wind blows from Yamama, it brings me the fragrance of Zaid.”
Fatima was the real sister of Umar. She was married to her cousin Saeed bin Zaid bin Amr. She played an important role in the conversion of Umar to Islam.
Amr, a brother of Khattab was a paternal uncle of Umar. Zaid the son of Amr, and a cousin of Umar was among the distinguished persons of the Quraish, who before the advent of Islam gave up idolatry, and came to believe in the unity of God. Zaid was a poet. One of his poems reads:
“I believe in one God,
I cannot believe in a thousand gods.
I ignore the idols of Lat and Uzza,
A wise and cautious man can do no more.”
Khattab the father of Umar persecuted Zaid for his religious beliefs. Zaid died before the Holy Prophet of Islam announced his prophetic mission. When the Holy Prophet proclaimed his prophethood, Saeed the son of Zaid who had married Umar’s sister Fatima, was among the early converts to Islam.
No account is preserved about the early life of Umar during the days of ignorance. Umar belonged to an ordinary family of average means and there was nothing conspicuous about Umar or his family during the days of ignorance to be recorded or chronicled. We can merely pick up stray accounts here and there, and try to weave them into a readable narrative.
It appears that Umar grew up as a typical Arab-a tall young man with a fine physique and impressive personality. When he was a child his father put him to the task of grazing camels. Khattab was a hard taskmaster, and Umar often recalled how his father belaboured him mercilessly whenever there was a lapse on his part. Umar also recalled that when he was a child he used to graze the flocks of goats and sheep of his maternal aunts who doled out pittance to him in the shape of dates.
As a child, Umar used to graze the animals under his charge in the grazing ground Dajnan, about ten miles from Mecca. When Umar became the Khalifa, he happened to pass through Dajnan. Turning to his companions he said:
“Gracious heavens! There was a time when I used to roam about this desert as a camel-herd, wearing a felt jacket, and whenever I sat down tired my father beat me. Now the times have changed. There is now none save God as my superior.”
Among the Quraish of those days, reading and writing was not in vogue. In spite of that Umar received education in reading and writing. It is related that among the Quraish of Mecca only seventeen persons could read and write, and Umar was one of them. That has to be acknowledged as a great attainment.
Umar’s father was an authority in tracing genealogies. Under the guidance of his father, Umar also acquired matchless skill in the matter of the study of pedigrees.
Umar knew intimately as to who was who among the Quraish. He was also well versed in the knowledge of the history of Arabia.
Umar was blessed with a strong physique. He could undergo great rigours. He could travel on foot for miles. He was an athlete and a wrestler. He participated in the wrestling matches on the occasion of the annual fair at Ukaz, and he won in most of such matches. From the accounts that have come down to us it appears that Umar had attained perfection in the art of wrestling.
Some first hand descriptions of the physical appearance of Umar have come down to us. Ibn Saad and al-Hakim have recorded a description of Umar as Abu Miriam Zir, a native of Kufa described him. Zir said:
“I went forth with the people of Madina on a festival day, and I saw Umar walking barefoot. He was advanced in years, bald, of a tawny colour-a left handed man, tall, and towering above the people.”
Ibn Umar described the physical appearance of Umar as follows:
“He was a man of fair complexion, a ruddy tint prevailing, tall, bald and grey.”
Ubayd bin Umayr described Umar as follows:
” Umar used to overtop the people in height.”
Salima bin al-Akwa’a said about him:
” Umar was ambidexter; he could use both his hands equally well.”
Ibn Asakir records on tile authority of Abu Raja al-U’taridi that:
“Umar was a man tall, stout, very bald, very ruddy with scanty hair on the cheeks, his moustaches large, and the ends thereof reddish.”
Umar was a skillful rider. He could successfully manage even the wildest of horses he would literally jump on the back of the horse, and sit with such ease and steadiness that he appeared to be a part and parcel of the horse he rode.
He was very intelligent and shrewd. He was a good public speaker. He was gifted with an uncommon degree ot tact and judgment, and on several occasions he successfully undertook ambassadorial missions on behalf of the Quraish.
By all accounts he was self-respecting, broad-minded and sincere. He was a man of strong convictions, a good friend, and a bad enemy. Like the rugged hills around him, he was harsh and stern, violent in temper, but very good of heart. He was always prepared to stand up against the oppressor and espouse the cause of the weak.
He followed the profession of a trader. He undertook journeys to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere for the purposes of trade. He was a successful trader, and he made good money as a result of these commercial journeys. When Umar migrated from Mecca, according to his own account, he was one of the richest Quraish merchants.
In his books, Akhbar-ul-Zaman, and Kitab-ul-Ausat the celebrated historian Masudi is understood to have related the incidents of the travels of Umar Masudi states that Umar paid visits to several Arabian and Persian princes. These books of Masudi have, however, been lost, and the details of these journeys are no longer available to us.
Before his conversion to Islam, Umar had three wives His first wife was Qariba bint Abi Umayya al-Makhzumi. She belonged to the same clan as the mother of Umar. She was one of the most beautiful women of Mecca of the day. His second wife was Zainab bint Maziun. She was the sister of Usman bint Maz’un an early companion for whom the Holy Prophet had great regard. She was the mother of Abdullah and Hafsa. His third wife was Malaika bint Jarul al-Khuzai. She was also called Umm Kulsum.
When the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) proclaimed his apostlehood, the reaction among the Quraish was violent. Umar, a young man of strong convictions, held the new faith to be a sacrilege of the idols of Katbah. Young, well-built, and fiery-tempered as he was, Umar was in tile forefront in opposition to Islam.
Some accounts have come down to us showing Umar’s attitude to Islam in the days before his conversion. Umar has related that in the days of ignorance he was one day standing by an idol with a number of Quraish when an Arab sacrificed a calf. From the belly of the calf the following cry was heard:
“O blood red one,
The deed is done.
A man will cry
Besides God, none.”
This corroborated what the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) said. Umar, however, dismissed the cry as sheer hallucination.
It is on record that along with some Arabs Umar went to a soothsayer, and asked him to look into the matter of Muhammad (peace be on him) who had proclaimed a new faith. The soothsayer looked to the beaven for a long time. Then he leapt and said:
“O men, God has honoured and chosen Muhammad,
Purified his heart and bowels.
His stay, among you,
O men will be short.”
Umar cursed the soothsayer and returned home very cross and upset.
Lubna, a maid servant of Umar, accepted Islam. When Umar came to know of her conversion, he beat her violently and asked her to retract. She said that he might kill her, but she would not leave Islam. Thereafter it became the wont of Umar that he would beat her every day and would stop beating till he himself felt exhausted. In spite of that, the slave girl remained steadfast.
Umm Abdullah bint Khatamah, a lady related to Umar, also accepted Islam. Umar was very furious at her conversion. As she along with her husband Amar bin Rabiah and other early converts decided to migrate to Abyssinia, Umar felt moved. He visited her and said, “Umm Abdullah are you going?” She said, By God, you have made our living in Mecca very difficult. There is no option with us but to migrate elsewhere.” Inadvertently Umar said, ‘Umm Abdullah, may God protect you; go in peace.” At that time Umm Abdullah felt that in spite of Umar’s opposition to Islam, he would one day accept the new faith.
We have it on the authority of Umar himself that one day he came across the Holy Prophet in the Ka’bah. The Holy Prophet was reciting verses from the Holy Quran and as Umar listened to these verses he felt that it was the work of some poet. Then the Holy Prophet recited, “This is the revealed word of God; it’s not the work of any poet. Yet you people do not believe”. Thereupon Umar felt that if this was not the work of any poet it would be the work of a soothsayer. Thereupon the Holy Prophet recited the verses, “And this is not the word of any soothsayer; it is divine word communicated through Gabriel.” Hearing these verses Umar stood transfixed for some time. In his heart of hearts he thought that perhaps truth lay with Muhammad (peace be on him).
Umar, however, dismissed these feelings and soon he was his former self very hostile to Islam. He went to the Quraish and participated in their counsels. They felt concerned that the venom of the new faith was spreading and the only remedy was that Muhammad (peace be on him) should be killed. All present at the meeting agreed that Muhammad (peace be on him) should be killed. Then the meeting invited volunteers who would kill the Prophet. Umar volunteered to kill the Prophet, and vindicate the faith of their forefathers.
One hot sultry day in the year A.D. 616, Umar buckled his sword and set out to kill the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). In the way, Umar met Nuaim bin Abduilah. He was a friend of Umar. He had been converted to Islam, but Umar did not know of that.
Noticing the dark frowns on his face, Nuaim asked Umar what he was up to. Umar said that he was going to slay Muhammad (peace be on him), and thus vindicate the gods of Ka’bah. Nuaim said! “Beware if you harm Muhammad (peace be on him) you will not be safe from the fury of Banu Hashim. Desist from such a course in your own interest”. Umar ejaculated angrily: “It appears you have also become a Muslim.” Nuaim said, “Umar, do not bother about me, but take care of your sister and brother-in-law who have been converted to Islam, and who may be reading the Quran at this very moment.”
That made Umar pause. Instead of going to the Holy Prophet, he went to the house of his sister. His sister was Fatima and her husband was Saeed bin Zaid. Umar loved his sister. He had never thought that his brother-in-law or his sister would have the audacity to accept Islam. This was news to him. He could not believe it, but he thought it advisable to verify the facts.
As Umar stepped into the house of his sister, he found that both Fatima and her husband were reading the Quran from a leaf. Seeing Umar, his sister hid the leaf. Fatima rose to welcome her brother with a smile. But there was a dark frown on the face of Umar. “What were you reading”, he thundered. “Nothing”, replied Fatima.
Umar caught his brother-in-law by the throat and said, “So you have apostasised from the faith of your forefathers”. Saeed retorted, “Rather we have abandoned falsehood for truth.” Thereupon Umar was about to strike Saeed when Fatima intervened saying, “Hands off from my husband. If ypu have anything to say, say it to me, but do not touch my husband.” Umar asked, “Is it a fact that you have become Muslims.” She replied, “Yes. we have become Muslims. You may kill us if you like, but we will not waver in our faith”.
Umar stayed his hands and desired that the leaf from which they had been reading should be shown to him. Fatima said that he could not touch the sacred leaf until he had washed his hands. Umar washed his hands, and the sacred leaf was handed over to him. It was the Sura Ta Ha. It read:
We have not sent the Qur’an to thee,
To be an occasion for thy distress,
But only as an admonition to those who fear God.
A revelation from Him,
Who created the earth and the heavens on high.
God most gracious,
Is firmly established on the throne of authority.
To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth,
And all between them and all beneath the soil.
If thou pronounce the word aloud, it’s no matter
For verily He knoweth what is secret
And what is yet hidden.
Verily there is no god but He
To Him belongs the most beautiful names.” (20: 1-8)
As Umar read the verses over and over again, he felt as if these verses were addressed to him in person, and the mysterious Ta Ha referred to Umar-the Man. Umar shuddered with the fear of God, and he felt as if his conscience was upbraiding him, “Umar, how long would you stay away from the path of truth. Has not the time come for you to follow the truth?”
And then Umar resolved that he would lose no time in following the truth. Turning to his sister and brother-in-law he said, “I came to you as an enemy of Islam; I go from you as a friend of Islam. I had buckled this sword to slay the Prophet of Islam; I now go to him to offer him allegiance.”
Fatima and Saeed cried “Allah o-Akbar”.
The episode has been dramatised by Allama Iqbal in his poem “Secrets of the Self”. He has exhorted the Muslim women to be like the sister of Umar. He says:
“O Muslim women;
Out of the evening create a new dazzling morn.
To the true lovers of God,
Recite the Holy Qur’an
And enthusiastically translate
Its spirit into action
Don’t vou know that such recitation
Changed altogether Umar’s fate.”
Conversion to Islam
From the house of his sister, Umar proceeded to the house of Arqam at the foot of the Safa hill, where the Holy Prophet was lodged.
Umar knocked at the door of the house of Arqam.
“Who comes”, enquired the guard.
“Umar bin al-Khattab”. said Umar.
As the guard peeped through the door he saw that Umar had buckled his sword. The guard therefore hesitated to open the door.
Hamza said to the guard, “Open the door; if he comes in peace he will be welcome. If he is bent on mischief, we are enough to overpower him”.
Umar was admitted. Hamza caught him by the hem of his cloak and said, “Umar, what brings you here?” The Muslims with drawn swords surrounded Umar, so that he could be overpowered if he showed any signs of violence.
Hearing the noise, the Holy Prophet came out of his cell. Addressing Hamza the Holy Prophet said, “Leave him Let him come forward”.
As Umar stepped forward the Holy Prophet said Umar, how long will you stray from the path of Islam. Has the time not come for you to see the truth?”
Umar said, “Verily the time has come for me to see the truth. I have come to profess my faith in Islam”.
The Holy Prophet stretched his hand. Umar held the hand with reverence and said, “I declare that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God”.
In joy the Muslims shouted “Allah-o-Akbar”. The Holy Prophet embraced Umar. The other Muslims embraced Umar one by one. Umar was the fortieth person to become a Muslim.
That day even Gabriel congratulated the Holy Prophet on the conversion of Umar. Gabriel said: “O Prophet of God, the dwellers in Heaven rejoice at the conversion of Umar and offer you their congratulations”. Intoxicated with the joy of having become a Muslim, Umar proceeded to various parts of Mecca to announce that he had become a Muslim. He first went to the house of his maternal uncle Abu Jahl. He knocked at the door of the house of Abu Jahl.
“Who comes”, asked Abu Jahl.
“It’s Umar”, said Umar. Abu Jahl opened the door and said,
“Welcome nephew”. Umar said,
“Uncle do you know, I have become a Muslim.” Abu Jahl said,
“Do not talk like that. I know that a man of your views can never become a Muslim”. Umar said,
“No, uncle it is a fact that I have become a Muslim.” Abu Jahl thereupon said,
“If what you say is true then be damned”. Saying this Abu Jahl shut the door in the face of Umar.
Thereafter Umar went to see some other Quraish chiefs. He told them of his conversion to Islam. Like Abu Jahl they damned him and shut the doors of their houses against him.
Then Umar proceeded to the Ka’bah. There he saw Jamil bin Ma’mar al-Jamahi who enjoyed reputation for spreading reports in Mecca. Umar told him that he had accepted Islam. Jamil rose from his feet, and cried at the top of his voice:
“O ye Quraish, know that Umar bin al Khattab has been converted to Islam, and apostatised from the faith of his forefathers. ”
On hearing this some Quraish youth gathered at the Ka’bah. Umar said,
“What Jamil said is not correct. I have not apostatised: I have seen the truth and accepted Islam”. Thereupon the Quraish youth rushed at Umar with a view to beating him. A Shaikh dressed in Yemeni robes Al-Aas bin Wail passed that way, and enquired what was the matter. The Quraish said that Umar had apostatised, and they wanted to punish him for straying from the faith of his forefathers. The Shaikh said,
“A man should be free to choose whatever religion he iikes. Why beat him for that?” Abu Jahl also happened to come that way. Seeing the Quraish, he said,
“I offer protection to my nephew”. Umar said,
“Uncle, I do not need your protection. For me the protection of God and the Holy Prophet is enough”.
Then Umar went to the Holy Prophet and told him that he had publicly announced his conversion. Heretofore those who were converted to Islam kept their conversion to Islam secret for fear of the oppression of the Quraish. They also prayed in secret. Umar submitted to the Holy Prophet:
“O Messenger of God are we not in the truth?”. The Holy Prophet said,
“Why not, we are verily in the truth”.
“Then why should we not pray in the public? Has not the time come for us to declare our faith publicly?” said Umar. Umar tried to prevail on the Holy Prophet that the truth of Islam should become manifest. The Holy Prophet agreed with Umar.
The following day all the Muslims emerged from the house of Arqam and proceeded to the Holy Ka’bah, in two lines, one led by Umar, and the other by Hamza. At the Ka’bah the Muslims prayed openly. The Quraish watched the Muslims pray and said, “Verily by the conversion of Umar to Islam, the Muslims have taken the revenge from the Quraish”.
After the Muslims had prayed in the Ka’bah, the Holy Prophet conferred on Umar the title of “Al-Faruq,” for on that day through the efforts of Umar, the truth of Islam had become manifest.
Early Life in Madina
In A.D. 622, the Holy Prophet decided that the Muslims should migrate from Mecca to Madina. The Muslims were required to proceed to Madina in batches.
Abu Salmah Abdullah bin Ashhal was the first Muslim to migrate from Mecca to Madina. He was followed by Bilal and Ammar Yasir. Thereafter Umar migrated from Mecca. While most of the other Muslims left Mecca in secret, Umar publicly declared that he was proceeding to Madina. He even challenged the Quraish that if any one of them had the courage to stop him from going to Madina, he was welcome to try his strength with hin. No Quraish of Mecca could have the courage to prevent the migration of Umar, and no one accepted the challenge to measure strength with him.
According to Ibn Asakir, Ali commented on the migration of Umar in the following terms:
I never knew any one migrate unless secretly except Umar, for he, when he resolved on migration, girt on his sword and slung over his bow and grasped in his hand its arrows, and went to the Ka’bah where in its quadrangle were the chiefs of the Quraish, and he went round about it seven times, then prayed two raka’ts at the station of Abraham, and went to each, one by one, in their circle and said, “May the face be foul of such as desire that his mother be bereaved of him and his child be left an orphan and his wife a widow, and if there be such a one, let him meet me behind this valley, but no one followed him.
In Sahih Bukhari it is stated that some twenty Muslims accompanied Umar on the occasion of his migration from Mecca. His companions included Zaid bin Khattab the brother of Umar; Said bin Zaid, the nephew of Umar and Khunais bin Hudhaifah the son-in-law of Umar (the husband of Hafsa). Other persons who accompanied Umar included: Amr b Suraqah; Abdullah b Suraqah; Waqid b Abdullah Tamimi; Khaula b Abi Khaula; Malik b Abi Khallla; Ayas b Bukair; Aqil b Bukair; Amir b Bukair and Khalid b Bukair.
Ayyash b Abu Rabiah al- Makhzumi and Hisham b Al-Aas b Wail al-Sahmi also decided to migrate with Umar. They made an appointment to meet at the thorn tree of Adat of Banu Ghifar about ten miles from Mecca. It was decided that if any one of them failed to turn up at the appointed place by sunrise on the day of departure fixed before hand it would be construed that he was not coming and had been held back by force.
Umar with his companions and Ayyash arrived at the appointed meeting place according to schedule. Hisham did not turn up and was held back by the Quraish.
The party arrived at Quba on the outskirts of Madina and there they stayed with Banu Amr bin Auf.
One day Abu Jahl and al-Harith rode to Quba and contacted Ayyash who was their cousin. They told Ayyash that his mother had vowed that she would not comb her hair, nor take shelter from the sun until she saw Ayyash.
Umar told Ayyash that this was nothing but an attempt to seduce him from his religion. Umar added that if the lice disturbed his mother she would of her own accord comb her hair, and if the heat of Mecca oppressed her, she would herself take shelter.
But Ayyash felt inclined to go. He said:
“I may go for a short while. I will clear my mother of her vow. I have also some money to recover from the people in Mecca which I would like to get.”
“I am one of the richest of the Quraish and if you do not go with them, you may have one half of my money.”
Ayyash, however, persisted in his wish to go to Mecca once .
Thereupon Umar said:
“If you must go, then take this camel of mine. She is well bred and easy to ride. Don’t dismount, and if at any stage you suspect them of treachery, you may well escape on this camel. Then Ayyash left for Mecca on the camel of Umar. After they had proceeded some distance, Jahl said to Ayyash:
“I find my beast hard to ride. Will you not mount me behind you ?”
Ayyash agreed, and when they made their camels kneel to make the change over, Abu Jahl and al-Harith fell on Ayyash and bound him securely. They brought him to Mecca bound and said:
“O men of Mecca deal with your fools as we have dealt with this fool of ours”.
When the Holy Prophet came to know how Hisham had been held back and how Ayyash had been abducted, he said:
“Who will bring me Ayyash and Hisham?”
Al-Walid b al-Mughira volunteered to undertake the mission. Al-Walid rode to Mecca and there he came to know that Hisham and Ayyash were kept in custody in a house which had no roof. One night al-Walid climbed the wall and contacted the prisoners who were in fetters. Al-Walid cut the fetters with the strokes of his sword. Then al-Walid led Ayyash and Hisham to Medina.
Having arrived in the neighbourhood of Madina, Umar and his party chose to stay at Quba, a suburb of Madina. Umar had about twenty persons with him including his brother Zaid, Khunais bin Hudaifah his son-in-law; Waqid bin Abdullah al Tamimi, and Ayyash. At Quba Umar and his party were the guests of Rifa’a bin Abdul Mundhir of Banu Amr. Umar and his party were accommodated in a few independent houses where they were lodged comfortably. There was already a mosque at Quba and here Umar prayed at the appointed hours.
At Quba all the Muslims waited eagerly for the Holy Prophet to come. Parties of men would go out for some distance on the route to Mecca and there wait for the Prophet to come. Several days passed away and the Holy Prophet did not come. Umar felt uneasy and he thought of going to Mecca to ascertain why the Holy Prophet was late in coming.
Then one noon the Holy Prophet accompanied by Abu Bakr arrived at Quba. As they arrived the people crowded round them. As the people had not seen the Holy Prophet before, it was difficult for them to know as to who out of the two was the Holy Prophet. Seeing this predicament of the people, Abu Bakr stood up and shielded the Holy Prophet with his mantle. Umar arrived at the spot and rushed to meet the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet embraced Umar and the chiefs of Quba who had come to we come him.
The Holy Prophet stayed at Quba for a few days and led the prayers in the mosque. Then the Holy Prophet proceeded to Madina. Umar followed in the train of the Holy Prophet. At Madina the Holy Prophet and the emigrants from Mecca were given a royal reception. The maidens of Madina mounted the roof tops of their houses and sang:
The full-moon has arisen on us
From the Thaniyat il-Wada’.
Thanksgiving is incumbent on us
So long as an invoker may invoke God.
O thou Divinely sent among us,
Thou hast brought a commandment that shall be obeyed!
The world of Madina was quite different from the world of Mecca. At Mecca the Muslims weere a persecuted people; at Madina they were the masters of their destiny. The life at Madina was a complete break with the past. The days of trials, tribulations and torture were over; they were now set on the path of fulfilment. They were now to build a new commonwealth and a new ideal society.
At Madina, the Holy Prophet had a mosque built. The Holy Prophet himself participated in the construction of the mosque Umar used to go every day from Quba to Madina to participate in the construction of the mosque. As the Muslims laboured they chanted:
“There is no life but the life of the next world,
O God have mercy on the Mohajreen and the Ansar.”
To rehabilitate the emigrants from Mecca in the society of Madina the Holy Prophet established a fraternity among the Muslims of Mecca and those of Madina whereunder each migrant was paired with an Ansar of the corresponding status. The brotherhood thus established was unique in the annals of mankind. So strong and cordial were these bonds that these even surpassed the relationship of blood. In this roll of brotherhood, Umar was paired with Itban bin Malik of Banu Al-Khazraj.
The climate of Mecca was dry, but the climate of Madina was damp. The change adversely affected the health of the emigrants. On arrival at Madina most of the emigrants fell sick, Umar was blessed with robust constitution, and he was one of the few emigrants who did not suffer due to the change in climate.
In Mecca Umar was a trader. He had brought ample amount with him from Mecca. In Madina he started business afresh. He had his store at Quba and from there goods were supplied to the market at Madina. No details about the business of Umar are available. Umar was a shrewd businessman, and we have reasons to hold that his business flourished at Madina as it did at Mecca. After attending to business, Umar spent his spare time in the company of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet consulted Abu Bakr and Umar on all important matters. When Abu Bakr and Umar held different views on a matter, the Holy Prophet took both the views into consideration before taking his decision. When Abu Bakr and Umar agreed on a point that view was invariably accepted by the Holy Prophet.
We have it on the authority of Abdur Rahman-bin-Ghanam that the Holy Prophet said to Abu Bakr and Umar that “if you two are agreed upon a counsel, I would not oppose you”. (Suyuti ‘History of the Caliphs’).
Battle of Badr
The first battle between thc Muslims and the Quraish of Mecca took place at Badr sixty miles from Madina on the trade route to Syria. A divine revelation had prepared the Muslims for Jihad. The revelation was:
“Fight in the way of God, with those who fight against you; but transgress not, for God loveth not the transgressors.”
It was a cold day in January 624 A.D. when the Holy Prophet and his army reached the valley of Badr. Intelligence was brought that the Quraish army was encamped beyond a sandhill at the other end of the narrow plain.
The Muslims hastened to take possession of the only stream of water in the valley. The Muslims prayed to God for help. The Holy Prophet prayed, “O Lord, forget not Thy promise of assistance, for if this little band were to perish; there will be none to offer thee worship.”
The Muslim army consisted of 313 men. They had only two horses and 70 camels. The Quraish army consisted of a thousand persons, and they had a cavalry of 200 horsemen and 100 camels. The Muslims were poorly equipped, but the Quraish were well armed.
The battle began early in the morning. The heralds of the Quraish stepped forward and poured insults and abuses on the Muslims. The Muslims replied with the shouts of “Allah-oAkbar.”
Then three of the Quraish leaders Utba, Shaiba, and Walid stepped forward and challenged the Muslims to single combat. The challenge was accepted by Ali, Ubaida, and Hamza on behalf of the Muslims. In the duels that followed Ali killed Walid; Ubaida killed Shaiba; and Hamza killed Ttba. The Quraish army was stunned at the death of its three chosen leaders.
Then the general battle began. The ground on which the Muslims stood was hard and firm, being the sloping ground of a hill, while the Quraish were encamped on a sandy soil. Rain had fallen during the previous night. It had softened the ground where the Quraish stood and hardened the ground under the Muslims. The Quraish found the soil difficult to tread upon, and this was a great handicap for them. The Quraish were cut off from all water, as the only stream and the source of water was in the occupation of the Muslims. When the battle began the sun stared in the face of ihe Quraish warriors, which greatly confused them. The Muslims fought with the sun at their back, and this was a great advantage for them.
When the battle was at its height, the Holy Prophet picked up a handful of pebbles and threw them in the direction of the enemy saying, “Confusion seize them!”
And then a dust storm arose. It blew into the faces of the Quraish warriors. At this stage the Holy Prophet ordered a general charge. The Muslims rushed forward borne on the crest of the dust storm. Soon the hard-pressed Quraish fled in disorderly rout. The battle ended in the victory for the Muslims. Seventy men of the Quraish lay dead on the battle field. Only fourteen Muslims were martyred. Seventy persons from among the Quraish were captured alive. The rest of the Quraish escaped and fled to Mecca. The booty that the Muslims were able to capture comprised 11 camels, 14 horses, and considerable equipment and armour.
Throughout this battle Umar was the right hand of the Holy Prophet. Among the Quraish who took part in the battle all tribes of the Quraish were represented except the Banu Adi the tribe to which Umar belonged. No person from the Banu Adi fought against the Muslims at the battle of Badr, and this was attributed to the great regard in which Umar was held by his clan. On the other hand many persons belonging to Banu Adi who had been converted to Islam fought on the side of the Muslims under the leadership of Umar.
Among the Quraish who fought against the Muslims was Asi bin Hisham bin Mughirah a respectable Quraish noble. He was a brother of the mother of Umar and his maternal uncle. Umar maintained that all ties of relationship had ceased to exist between the Muslims and the polytheists. He singled out his maternal uncle and killed him in the battle.
The first person to be martyred in the battle was Mahja, a slave of Umar Umar thus came to claim the honour that the first Muslim to be martyred in the cause of Islam was a slave who belonged to him.
The Muslims returned to Madina along with the Quraish captives. Out of the prisoners many were eminent Quraish nobles. These included Abbas an uncle of the Holy Prophet; Aqil a brother of Ali; Abul Aas and Walid bin al-Walid. The sight of these chieftains coming as humble prisoners was very touching. On seeing them Saudah a wife of the Holy Prophet observed, “You come as prisoners; why did you not die on the battle-field?”
The Holy Prophet consulted his companions as to how these captives should be treated. Umar took the strong line and urged that unless these persons accepted Islam they should be killed. He suggested that each Muslim should kill his own kinsman among the prisoners; that Hamzah should kill Abbas and Ali should sever the head of Aqil.
Abu Bakr took the softer line. He suggested that they should be set free on ransom.
The Holy Prophet said that as God had given them victory, it was necessary for them to show mercy to the fallen enemy. He, therefore, agreed to set the captives free on ransom.
About the fate of the captives of Badr, Abu Bakr and Umar held contrary views. Abu Bakr took the lenient view, while Umar took the sterner view.
After taking into consideration both the views, the Holy Prophet said:
“Almighty God softens the hearts of some people-softer than milk. And He hardens the hearts of some people-harder than stone.”
Turning to Abu Bakr who had counselled a lenient view, the Holy Prophet said:
“Abu Bakr you are like Abraham who said, ‘He who follows me is one of us, and he who disobeys me, then O God, You are gracious enough to forgive’. And Abu Bakr you are also like Jesus who said, ‘If you punish them they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, You are All Powerful, Mighty and Wise.”
Turning to Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
Umar, you are like Noah who said, ‘O God, do not leave on the earth a single unbeliever.’ And Umar you are also like Moses who said, ‘O God destroy their properties and harden their hearts so that they are not converted till they have suffered punishment.”
The Holy Prophet accepted the advice of Abu Bakr and acted accordingly.
The following day, Umar visited the Holy Prophet, and saw that both the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr were weeping.
Umar addressing the Holy Prophet said:
“What is it that makes you weep. Tell me, so that if there is any matter to be grieved over, I may also weep with you.”
The Holy Prophet said:
“Umar, there is nothing for you to be grieved over. On the other hand you should rejoice that God has upheld the view that you had taken about the captives of Badr, and admonished those who had taken a contrary view.”
Umar’s curiosity was awakened and he wanted know what exactly was the revelation. The Holy Prophet recited the verses that had been revealed:
“It is not fitting for an Apostle
That he should have prisoners of war,
Until he has thoroughly subdued the land.
Ye look on the temporal goods of this world,
But God looks to the Hereafter,
And God is Exalted, Mighty, and Wise.” (8:67)
Umayr bin Wahb was one of the leaders of the Quraish of Mecca who used to molest the Holy Prophet and his companions while at Mecca, and caused them considerable distress.
In the battle of Badr many of the relatives of Umayr were killed, and one of his sons Wahb was taken prisoner.
After the battle of Badr while one day Abu Sufiyan and Umayr sat in the Ka’bah at Mecca and exchanged views about the battle of Badr, Abu Sufiyan referring to the Quraish discomfiture said, “By God, there is no good in life now that they are dead.”
Umayr said. “You are right. Were it not for a debt outstanding against me which I cannot discharge, and a family I cannot afford to leave unprovided for, I would ride to Madina and kill the Prophet.”
Abu Sufiyan said, “If you have such noble thoughts I undertake to discharge your debt. I also undertake to take care of your family, and all that I have shall be theirs.”
The pact was struck, and Umayr undertook to ride to Madina and kill the Prophet. Umayr took his sword, sharpened it, smeared it with poison and rode to Madina.
One day while in the Prophet’s mosque at Madina, Umar was talking with some of his friends about the battle of Badr and mentioning how God had honoured them in giving them victory over the Quraish, he suddenly saw Umayr alight at the door of the mosque, girt with his sword.
Seeing him, Hadarat Umar said, “This dog the enemy of God is Umayr bin Wahb. By God he has come with some evil purpose.”
Then Umar went to the Holy Prophet and said “O Prophet of God! this enemy of God, Umayr bin Wabb, has come girt with his sword.” The Holy Prophet asked Umar to let Umayr come in.
Umar came to Umayr, and seizing his bandoleer he gripped him round the neck with it. He called the Muslims who were in the mosque, and asked them to sit around the Holy Prophet and watch the rascal Umayr carefully for he was not to be trusted.
When the Holy Prophet saw Umar grasping Umayr’s bandoleer round his neck he told Umar to leave Umayr and let him advance.
Umayr came up and according to the pagan way said, “Good morning.”
The Holy Prophet said, “God has honoured us with a better form of greeting O Umayr. It is ‘Salaam’, thc greeting of the inhabitants ot the paradise.”
After a while, the Holy Prophet ashed Umayr what had brought him to Madina.
Umayr said, “I have come about the release of my son.”
“Then why have you a sword round your neck,” asked the Holy Prophet.
Umayr said, “God damn these swords. Have they done us any good?”
“What has brought you?” asked the Holy Prophet again.
Umayr said that he had come to secure the release of his son.
The Holy Prophet said, “Did you not make a pact with Abu Sufiyan? Did he not undertake the responsibility to discharge your debt and look after your family? Did you not sharpen your sword and smear it with poison?”
“That’s enough” said Umayr, “All this was secret known to no one. God alone must have told you of that. You are verily the Prophct of God”.
Thereupon Umayr declared the article of faith and was converted to Islam. His son was released, and he too was converted to Islam.
Thereafter Umayr returned to Mecca, and he called the Quraish to Islam for that was the true faith.
When the Holy Prophet was settled in Madina, some basic reforms were introduced. These included the institution of prayer, the levy of alms tax, the ordaining of fasting, the prescription of punishments; and the specification of the lawful and the unlawful.
In the early days the practice was that the faithful gathered in the mosque for prayer at the appointed time of their own accord without being summoned. The Holy Prophet, however, felt that with the spread of Islam, and the growth in the number of the Muslims, some method for the summoning of the faithful to prayer would have to be adopted.
At first the Holy Prophet thought of using a trumpet to summon the Muslims to prayer as the Jews did. On second thoughts he felt that it would not be advisable to imitate the Jews. Then an idea occurred to him that a clapper should be beaten to summon the faithful to the mosque.
One night a companion Abdullah bin Zaid had a dream which indicated the way for the summoning of the Muslims to prayers Abdullah came to the Holy Prophet and narrated his dream in the following terms:
“In the dream I saw a holy man wearing green garments. He held a clapper in his hand. I asked him to sell the clapper to me. He asked what for I needed the clapper, and I told him that I needed it for summoning the Muslims to prayer. He said that the clapper would not sere the purpose. I then asked him as to what method should be adopted, and he said ‘Let some one with a loud voice stand at a suitable place in the mosque, and give the call ‘God is great. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. Come to prayer.”
The idea appealed to the Holy Prophet. When it was the time for prayer, the Holy Prophet summoned Bilal and asked him to give the call to prayer, in the terms of the formula indicated by Abdullah bin Zaid.
As the stentorian call resounded in the city of Madina, the faithful felt elated and electrified, and they rushed to the mosque in response to the summons. Umar heard the call in his house, and he hastened to the mosque dragging his cloak on the ground. He waited on the Holy Prophet, and enquired as to how the idea of the call to prayer had occurred to him. The Holy Prophet thereupon narrated the dream of Abdullah bin Zaid, and added that, as the vision appeared to be inspired, he had accepted it, and had the call given accordingly. Umar said that he too had a similar vision, but was happy that Abdullah bin Zaid had anticipated him. Umar said that there was however one difference between the formula proposed by Abdullah and the one that he had heard in his dream. The Holy Prophet anxiously enquired as to what was the difference. Umar said:
“According to the formula of Ahdullah bin Zaid we are only to witness that there is no god but Allah. In the call that I heard in my dream there were also the words ‘I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
Thereupon the Holy Prophet instructed Bilal that in the call to prayer, the expression “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God” should be included.
Turning to Abdullah bin Zaid, and Umar the Holy Prophet said, “Praise be to God. There are men among my followers to whom truth is revealed in dreams.”
When the Holy Prophet came to Madina all the people except the Jews were converted to Islam. Most of them were sincere and earnest in their faith in Islam. Some of them in spite of their profession of Islam were hypocrites and indulge in activities hostile to Islam. There were some among them on whom Islam sat lightly and who did not fully realize the spirit of Islam or the status of the Holy Prophet.
It is recorded on the authority of Abul Aswad that two persons of Madina who professed Islam but did not realize its full significance had a dispute among themselves and took the matter to the Holy Prophet for decision. After hearing both the parties, the Holy Prophet gave his decision in favor of one person. The other person felt dissatisfied, and at his instance both of them went to Umar and the aggrieved person lodged an appeal with Umar against the decision of the Holy Prophet.
After hearing both the parties, Umar said to the man who had filed the appeal: “So you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Holy Prophet, and want me to reverse his decision.”
“Yes, that is so,” said the man
“And are you a Muslim,” enquired Umar.
The man said, “Yes, I am.”
Thereupon Umar said, “Wait for a while. I will soon give my decision that would satisfy you.”
Umar went inside the house and brought his sword. With the sword Umar smote the appellant saying, “Woe to you, you regard yourself a Muslim and yet choose to appeal to me against the decision of the Holy Prophet. You are an infidel, and the penalty for your infidelity is death.”
The other man went to the Holy Prophet and complained that Umar had killed his companion.
The Holy Prophet summoned Umar and put him to explanation. Umar said, “The man wanted me to hear an appeal against the decision of the Holy Prophet, and for this impudence he deserved the punishment of death.”
The Holy Prophet deferred the decision on the case till God gave some light on the matter.
Soon God revealed that he who had no confidence in the Holy Prophet was no believer. As such Umar was justified in killing the man who had by his action expressed want of faith in the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophet accordingly absolved Umar of the charge of murdering a believer.
The battle of Uhud was an extension of the battle of Badr.
The Quraish of Mecca came with a force of 3,000 men to avenge the defeat of Badr. The Muslims could muster a force of 1000 persons only, and out of these three hundred persons under Abdullah bin Ubbay a hypocrite withdrew at the last moment thus leaving only 700 persons to face the hostile Quraish.
The Holy Prophet arranged his force in battle array and posted a small contingent of archers to guard a vulnerable passage in the rear. The archers were instructed that they were not to leave their positions at any cost unless otherwise directed by the Holy Prophet.
With the Quraish was a contingent of women. They beat drums and sang songs to excite their men to action. They sang:
“We are the daughters of the morning star;
We tread on carpets;
If you advance we embrace you;
If you turn back we leave you.”
The Quraish charged with full force, but the Muslims held fast. Then in the counter attack the Muslims broke the enemy line, and the Quraish fell back. At this stage the contingent of the Muslim archers, contrary to instructions, left their position in order to plunder the camp of the retreating Quraish. Khalid who was still a non-Muslim, and was fighting on the side of the Quraish rushed with his contingent and occupied the position vacated by the Muslim archers. The Quraish rallied, and launched an attack on the Muslims both from the front as well as the rear. In the confusion that followed, many Muslims were martyred. Even the Holy Prophet was wounded seriously, and he fell in a pit where many of his followers lay dead. Thereupon a cry rose from the ranks of the enemy that they had killed the Prophet of Islam.
When the news of the Holy Prophet’s death got wind, panic seized some of the Muslims, and thinking that all was over, they fled to Madina According to tradition when Umar heard the news that the Holy Prophet had died, he flung his arms declaring that it was no use fighting any longer.
It is related that Anas b Nadar passing by Umar asked him how it had fared with the Prophet. Umar replied that he had heard that the Prophet had been killed. Anas observed that the Prophet’s death should not prevent him from fighting in the way of Allah, for Allah was alive. Saying this Anas rushed at the infidels, and was martyred after having received seventy wounds.
Later, the Holy Prophet was found lying in a pit. At this stage Ali, Abu Bakr, Umar, Talha, Zubair, and Harith gathered round the Prophet, and removed him to a place of safety.
Abu Sufiyan the leader of the Quraish climbed a hillock and shouted, “Is Muhammad there?” The Holy Prophet asked his companions to remain quiet.
Abu Sufiyan then called for Abu Bakr and Umar. No reply was made, and thereupon Abu Sufiyan shouted, “All of them have been killed.’
At this Umar could not restrain himself, and shouted in reply, “O enemy of Allah, all of us are alive.”
Abu Sufiyan in a mood of exultation cried, “Hubbal glory to thee.”
Umar retorted, “Only Allah is Most High and Great. ”
Abu Sufiyan said, “We have Uzza with us, and you have no lord.”
Umar retaliated, “Allah is our Lord, and you have no lord.”
When the two armies withdrew from the battle-field, seventy Muslims lay dead on the battle-field. In the battle the Quraish had the upper hand. They felt satisfied that they had avenged their defeat at Badr. The Quraish were in no mood to press their advantage to march to Madina. They chose to return to Mecca.
Wahab bin Qabus was a shepherd who lived in a village near Madina. One day he came to Madina to see the Holy Prophet. He was accompanied by his nephew, and his herd of goats.
In Madina, Wahab came to know that the Holy Prophet had left for Uhud where he was fighting against the Quraish. He left his nephew and his goats at Madina, and himself proceeded to Uhud.
When he reached Uhud, the battle was at its thickest. A group of the Quraish was at the time advancing to attack the Holy Prophet. It was a critical situation, and turning to his companions the Holy Prophet said:
“He who disperses these people will be my companion in the Paradise.”
Hearing the call, Wahab rushed at the advancing Quraish. Some were killed and the rest were put to flight. The Holy Prophet watched Wahab overpower the Quraish group single handed. When Wahab after the flight of the Quraish came to the Holy Prophet, he was given the tidings of Paradise. Wahab was intoxicated with pleasure at these tidings.
As soon as he heard these tidings, Wahab took his sword, and rushed to the enemy line. He dashed against the enemy as a hill torrent would dash against the rock making its way. Killing right and left he penetrated deep into the enemy line. He was surrounded by the enemy on all sides. He received many wounds but he went on playing havoc in the ranks of the enemy. The blood flowed profusely from his wounds, and then he fell dead on the battle-field.
When the battle was over, and the Muslims collected the dead bodies of all the martyrs, the Holy Prophet stood by his dead body and said:
“O Wahab, you have pleased me. May Allah be pleased with you.”
Although the Holy Prophet was himself wounded, he led the funeral prayer of Wahab, and put him in the grave with his own hands. Umar who was present said that in the battle of Uhud none surpassed Wahab in bravery.
Thereafter Umar used to say often:
“I never envied anybody more than Wahab. I wish I could appear before Allah with a record as good as his.”
Hafsa was the daughter of Umar. Her mother was Zainab, a sister of Usman bin Mazur an eminent Companion. Abdullah was a real brother of Hafsa.
In Mecca, Hafsa was married to Khunays bin Hudhaifa of the Banu Sahm clan of the Quraish. Khunays was one of the early converts to Islam. He participated in two migrations, migration to Abyssinia and the migration to Madina, and was blessed by the Holy Prophet.
In Madina, Khunays participated in the battle of Badr. He also fought in the battle of Uhud. He was wounded in the battle of Uhud. These wounds proved fatal, and he died shortly after the battle of Uhud. Hafsa thus became a widow at a very young age.
Umar felt much distressed at the grief of his daughter. After the period of Iddat was over, Umar thought of remarrying her. Like her father, Hafsa was hot of temper. Umar felt that it would be advisable if she was married to an elderly man of a sober temperament.
Umar’s choice fell on Abu Bakr. Umar went to Abu Bakr, and offered him the hand of Hafsa. Umar had hoped that Abu Bakr would enthusiastically welcome the proposal. Umar was, however, disappointed, for Abu Bakr remained quiet and evaded the issue. Umar felt distressed that his friend Abu Bakr had not grasped the hand of friendship that he had extended to him.
Umar next went to see Usman. Usman had been married to Ruqayya, a daughter of the Holy Prophet. Ruqayya had died. Umar offered him the hand of Hafsa. Usman asked for some time to consider the matter. When Umar saw Usman a few days later, Usman said that his grief over the death of Ruqayya was so overwhelming that he did not contemplate another marriage.
Umar felt very angry at the rejection of his proposal by Abu Bakr and Usman. Brimming with rage, Umar went to see the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet greeted him with a smile and asked tenderly what was worrying him? Umar poured out the grief of his heart, and complained against Abu Bakr and Usman who had turned down the hand of friendship that he had extended to them.
The Holy Prophet addressed Umar with great affection and said, “Umar, I know of your worries and I also know of your services to Islam. Rest assured, Hafsa will marry a man better than Usman, and Usman will marry a lady better than Hafsa.”
This meant that the Holy Prophet himself wanted to wed Hafsa. Umar was overwhelmed with joy at this great honor beyond his aspirations. Umar reverently kissed the hand of the Holy Prophet in token of his gratitude. He hurried home, and told Hafsa of the happy news.
Then he went to Abu Bakr. From the face of Umar radiating happiness, Abu Bakr judged of the developments. Addressing Umar he offered apologies and said, “The Holy Prophet had spoken to me about Hafsa, and as such I could not accept your proposal. But for that it would have been a great honor and pleasure for me to agree to your proposal.”
Umar then went to Usman. Usman offered apologies and said, “The Holy Prophet had talked to me over the matter. He had offered me the hand of his younger daughter Umm Kulsum, and he had expressed the desire to marry Hafsa himself. Under these circumstances I could not accept your proposal.”
In A.D. 625 Hafsa was married to the Holy Prophet that elevated the status of Umar and brought him at par with Abu Bakr, as both of them enjoyed the unique privilege of being the fathers-in-law of the Holy Prophet.
In Madina there was a considerable number of Jews. They were wealthy and commanded influence. The Holy Prophet followed the policy of “live and let live”. He accordingly entered into a treaty with the Jews. According to the terms of the treaty the Jews were to enjoy religious freedom and there was to be no interference in the religious affairs of the Jews by the Muslims. The Muslims and the Jews were to be on friendly terms and were to help each other in the promotion of objects of mutual interest. It was stipulated that the Muslims and the Jews would help each other in case of an attack by an enemy. No party was to give protection to the Quraish, and in case the Quraish invaded Madina both the Muslims and the Jews were to join in the defense of the city.
The Jews knew that in their holy books there were references to the advent of a prophet in Arabia. They were under the impression that the prophet would rise from their midst. When the Holy Prophet appeared from the ranks of the Quraish in Mecca, the Jews recognized in him all the signs of prophethood foretold in their sacred books. When the Holy Prophet came to Madina the Jews thought that he would be subservient to them. When the Holy Prophet followed an independent policy, the Jews embarked on a campaign of ridiculing Islam, and resorted to activities hostile to the Muslims.
Umar knew Hebrew, and he could talk with the Jews in their own language. Umar was a trader, and he had business contacts with the Jews. Out of the Muslims, Umar was popular with the Jews. One day the Jews gave him a copy of the Torah. Umar brought the copy to the Holy Prophet and said, “Messenger of God, this is a copy of the torah.” Other companions including Abu Bakr were sitting with the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet paid no attention to what Umar had said. When Umar received no reply he began to read some passages from the Torah to the obvious displeasure of the Holy Prophet. Turning to Umar, Abu Bakr said, “Confound you, do you not see how God’s Messenger is looking?” Umar looked at the Holy Prophet and said “I seek refuge in God from the anger of God and His Messenger. We are satisfied with God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as prophet”. Then the Holy Prophet said, “By Him in Whose hands Muhammad’s life is, were Moses to appear to you, and you were to follow him and abandon me, you would err from the right path. Were he alive and come in touch with my prophetic mission, he would follow me.” And then referring to the Jews the Holy Prophet said, “The Jews betrayed their own prophet; how can they be your friend?”
Umar asked some of his Jew friends whether there were any references to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) in their scriptures. They answered the question in the affirmative. “Then why don’t you accept him” asked Umar, and they said, ” God sends him messages through Gabriel and Gabriel is our enemy.” Umar told of this talk to the Holy Prophet. A few days later, God revealed to the Holy Prophet:
“O Apostle tell them,
Whosoever is the enemy of Gabriel,
Let him be so at his peril.
Verily God is the enemy of infidels.” 2: 97-98
After this revelation, Umar broke up all contacts with the Jews.
When one of the Jewish tribes in Madina, Bani Qainuqa violated the terms of the treaty with the Muslims, the Holy Prophet consulted his companions as to the action to be taken against the Jews. Some of the companions were in favor of conciliation, but Umar counseled that they should be expelled from Madina. They were accordingly expelled from Madina.
The Jews of the Banu Nadir clan affected to be submissive, and they were allowed to remain in Madina. Some time in A.D., 626 the Holy Prophet along with Abu Bakr and Umar went to the Banu Nadir Jews to claim blood money for a man murdered by a Jew. The Jews affected great humility, spoke words of flattery, and assured the Holy Prophet that they would comply with any order that he issued. As such they assured that the blood money demanded would be paid. Secretly the Jews deputed a man to climb on the roof of the house where they were sitting and from there hurl a stone on the head of the Holy prophet, as if it was an accident. It was revealed to the Holy Prophet that the Jews meant mischief.
The Holy Prophet accordingly rose from the place where he was sitting and returned home. His companions followed suit. The next day the Holy Prophet deputed Umar to tell the Jews that they should evacuate Madina. They hesitated. There followed a skirmish in which the Jews were overpowered. They were accordingly deported from Madina. Some of them went to Khyber and some went to Syria.
In A.D. 627 the Muslims had to face the combined opposition of the Quraish, the Jews, and some other tribes. The Quraish and their allies mustered a force ten thousand strong and marched to Madina.
The Holy Prophet was advised that a face to face fight against such a large force was not possible for the Muslims, and the safest course for them was to remain on the defensive. It was accordingly decided that a deep and wide trench should be dug round Madina for protective purposes.
The entire Muslim community in Madina was turned to dig the trench. When the Muslims dug the trench the following war song was on their lips:
“By God, had not Allah guided us, we would not have seen the right path, nor given Sadaqah, nor offered the prayers;
May Allah bestow on us confidence and calmness of mind, and make our steps firm to face the enemy.
The enemy has risen against us, and he intends insurrection, but we refuse to submit.
O God there is no welfare except that of the next world;
Shower Thy Grace on the Ansars and the Muhajirs”.
The site for the trench was demarcated by the Holy Prophet. He allotted ten yards of trench to be dug by each party of ten persons. One of such parties was led by Umar. Later a mosque known as Umar Masjid was constructed near the site where Umar and his party had dug the trench.
When the Quraish and their allies arrived they found that a wide and deep trench which could not be crossed lay between them and the Muslims. This was a mode of warfare with which the Quraish were not familiar. They camped beyond the trench and decided to besiege the Muslims.
The Holy Prophet divided the trench into a number of sectors and a contingent was posted to guard each sector. One of such contingents was under the command of Umar. One day the Quraish assaulted the sector commanded by Umar, and tried to carry the entrenchment by storm. Umar reinforced by Zubair beat back the enemy with a heavy hand and many Quraish were killed.
On another occasion Umar’s contest with the Quraish was so prolonged that the time for the afternoon prayers passed away. After making the enemy beat a retreat, Umar came to the Holy Prophet, and told him how the enemy had kept him so hotly engaged that he had missed his afternoon prayers. The Holy Prophet said that he himself had not offered his afternoon prayers by that time. Then the Holy Prophet led the prayers and Umar and other companions offered their prayers.
The siege prolonged for a month, and the Muslims were subjected to great hardships. Food ran short, and subsistence I became a problem. The Muslims nevertheless persevered and hoped that God would come to their relief.
And God did come to the relief of the Muslims. There were dissensions in the camp of the enemy. Provisions with lifted ran short. Above all a strong storm lashed the country side. The Muslims were safe in their houses in Madina, but the Quraish who had to bear the brunt of the storm in the open were unnerved. Abu Sufiyan ordered that the sedge should be lifted, and the Quraish should withdraw to Mecca. Their allies also left.
The Muslims had the upper hand on account of their unusual perseverance against heavy odds and the inspired leadership of the Holy Prophet.
Early in A.D. 628 the Holy Prophet decided to proceed to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. He was accompanied by companions about fourteen hundred in number. Umar also accompanied the Holy Prophet. In order to convince the Quraish that the Muslims had no war-like intentions against them, the Holy Prophet decided that they would carry no arms.
When the Muslims halted at Zul Hulaifah six miles from Madina Umar waited on the Holy Prophet and submitted that no reliance could be placed on the Quraish and accordingly it was unsafe to proceed to Mecca without arms. Umar urged that for self-defense the Muslims should be armed. The Holy Prophet accepted the advice of Umar, and some persons were sent to Madina to bring in arms.
When the Quraish of Mecca came to know that the Muslims were coming to Mecca they sent Khalid bin Walid and Ikramah bin Abu Jahl with two hundred horsemen to intercept the Muslims, and prevent their advance to Mecca. Finding the way to Mecca barred the Holy Prophet consulted his companions as to what course of action they should adopt. The consensus of opinion was that they should go ahead. If they were stopped they would fight; otherwise not.
The Holy Prophet enquired of his companions whether any one out of them could lead the Muslims to Mecca by a path other than the main route barred by the enemy. One of the companions volunteered to show an alternative way. He led the Muslims on a way full of rough rocks through the ravines of Mudniya. After a weary march the Muslims reached Hudaibiya on the lower side of Mecca and within the sacred territory.
The Muslims encamped at Hudaibiya, and here Urwa bin Masud came to see the Holy Prophet on behalf of the Quraish. He talked in diplomatic language, and tried to impress that the Quraish were strong and would not allow the Muslims to visit Mecca. He also insinuated that at the time of crisis the followers of the Holy Prophet were likely to leave him. Thereupon the companions of the Holy Prophet said, “May God curse you; how dare you think that we will abandon the Holy Prophet. Rest assured we will fight to the last for him”.
When Urwa returned to the Quraish, he gave his impressions about the Holy Prophet and the Muslims in the following terms:
“O people of the Quraish! I have seen kings but by God I have never seen a king as I have seen Muhammad amongst his companions. If he makes his ablutions they would not let the water fall on the ground; if a hair of his body falls they pick it up. They will not surrender him for anything in any case, do what you may.”
As among the Quraish, the Adis specialized in diplomatic skill the Holy Prophet wanted Umar to go to the Quraish to negotiate. Umar submitted that he was a persona non grata with the Quraish, and his mission was not likely to be successful. He advised that Usman who was soft spoken and was popular with the Quraish should be sent on the mission. The advice was accepted and Usman was accordingly sent to the Quraish to negotiate regarding the Muslim’s entry into Mecca and performing the pilgrimage.
When three days passed away, and Usman did not return from Mecca a rumor got afloat that he had been killed by the Quraish. Umar donned his arms and accoutrements and waited on the Holy Prophet. He submitted that if the Quraish had killed Usman, the Muslims should fight the Meccans to the bitter end. The Holy Prophet asked all his Companions about 1,400 in number to assemble and take a vow binding themselves to Jihad against the infidels. The Holy Prophet sat under a tree, and all the Companions took the oath turn by turn. God approved of this measure, and the following verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet:
“Verily Allah was pleased with the faithful that they swore allegiance to thee under the tree.”
In view of the pleasure of God, this oath later came to be called ‘the Bait-ul-Rizwan’-the oath that pleased God.
A little later Usman returned from Mecca along with some emissaries from the Quraish. After some further negotiations the terms of a pact between the Muslims and the Quraish were hammered out. These terms were:
- There was to be a truce between the Muslims and the Quraish for a period of ten years.
- If any tribe wanted to enter into treaty with the Muslims it could do so, and whoever wished to enter a covenant with the Quraish was likewise free to do so.
- If any one from the Quraish came to the Muslims without the permission of his guardian, he was to be returned to the Quraish. On the other hand if a Muslim sought refuge with the Quraish, he was not to be delivered to the Muslims.
- The Muslims were to withdraw that year without performing the pilgrimage. They were free to perform the Hajj the following year when they could stay in Mecca for three days.
Prima facie these terms favored the Quraish and Umar felt very bitter about them. He waited on the Holy Prophet and submitted:
“O Prophet of God! Are you not the Messenger of God?”
“Certainly I am”, said the Holy Prophet.
“Are not our enemies idolatrous polytheists?” asked Umar.
“Undoubtedly they are”, rejoined the Holy Prophet.
“Why should then we disgrace our religion?” added Umar.
The Holy Prophet said, “I am the Messenger of God, and I do not act in contravention of His commandments.”
This silenced Umar, but he felt these terms to be humiliating to the Muslims. He saw Abu Bakr, and wanted him to persuade the Holy Prophet to revise the terms. Abu Bakr said:
“The Holy Prophet knows things better than we do. What the Holy Prophet has done is in the interests of the Muslims. Have faith in God. Do not be critical and hold fast to the stirrup of the Holy Prophet.”
Thereafter the pact which came to be known as the Hudaibiya pact was duly signed between the Muslims and the Meccans. On behalf of the Muslims, the pact was among others signed by Umar.
After the pact had been signed Suhail’s son Abu Jandal who had accepted Islam and was a captive with the Meccans escaped from the captivity and came to seek refuge in the Muslim camp. Suhail followed his son and demanded that in accordance with the Hudaibiya pact his son should be returned to him. Umar advocated that as Abu Jandal did not want to return, it was unfair to force him to return. The Holy Prophet said that they had entered into a pact with the Meccans and as Muslims they could not go back upon their word. He allowed Suhail to take away his son. Turning to Abu Jandal the Holy Prophet said, “Abu Jandal be patient. God in His bounty will Himself devise some way to facilitate your return to the Muslims”. Umar went some distance with Abu Jandal and Suhail. He kept goading Abu Jandal with his sword, and the idea was that he should take the sword and kill his father. Abu Jandal was too depressed and confused to follow the clue. When Suhail and his son rode off to Mecca, Umar returned to the Muslim camp crest fallen.
The Muslims struck camp, and started on the return journey to Madina. Umar felt unhappy. He was bitter that in this deal the Quraish had had the upper hand. In the way, Surah Al-Fath was revealed to the Holy Prophet.
“Verily, We have opened wide for thee the gates of victory.” The Holy Prophet called for Umar and told him that God had that day revealed to him that the Hudaibiya pact would lead to the victory of the Muslims. That made Umar rejoice.
Abu Bakr assessed the treaty of Hudaibiya in the following terms:
“No victory of Islam has more importance than the treaty of Hudaibiya. Men are always for hurrying things on, but God lets them ripen. Previously there had subsisted a wall of partition between the Muslims and the rest of the men; they never spoke to each other, and wherever they met they began to fight. Subsequently hostility died down, and security and mutual confidence took its place. Every man of even moderate intelligence who heard of Islam joined it, and the twenty-two months in which the truce subsisted the number of conversions was greater than throughout the whole of the previous period, and the faith of Islam diffused itself in all directions among the people.”
In the wake of the Hudaibiya pact there took place developments which affected Umar personally.
At the time of Hudaibiya pact it was undertaken that if any person from the Quraish accepted Islam such a person was to be returned to the Quraish. Some men from among the Quraish accepted Islam and sought shelter with the Muslims. In accordance with the terms of the pact these persons were returned to the Quraish.
Later a crisis developed when some Quraish women accepted Islam against the wishes of their parents and husbands and sought refuge with the Muslims. The Quraish wanted such women to be returned to them. The Holy Prophet refused to return such women to the Quraish as in the meantime God had revealed:
“Believers, when believing women came to you as refugees, examine them. Allah knows the state of their faith. If you find them to be true believers do not return them to the unbelievers. They are not lawful to the unbelievers, nor are the unbelievers lawful to them You shall, however, give to their former husbands what they have spent on them. And you will be doing nothing unlawful after you have given them dowries.” 60: 10
Another verse on the same subject provided:
“Do not marry idolatresses until they embrace the faith.
And do not marry your women to idolaters.”
Umar had three wives, namely:
- Zainab bint Mazaun Jamiah;
- Malaika bint Jarul Khuzai; and
- Qariba bint Abi Umayya Makhzumi.
Out of these three, only Zainab bint Mazaun had accepted Islam and migrated to Madina. The other two ladies did not accept Islam and did not choose to migrate. After the Hudaibiya pact, Umar divorced Malaika as well as Qariba. After being divorced by Umar, Malaika married Abu Jahm bin Hazifa while Qariba married Abdur Rahman son of Abu Bakr who was still an infidel.
After the Hudaibiya pact the first Muslim woman who fled from the Quraish and sought refuge with the Muslims was Sabiha bint al-Haris. Her husband did not accept Islam. When the Quraish came to demand the restoration of Sabiha, the Holy Prophet refused to return her to the Quraish saying that the condition in the pact applied to men only and not to women. The Holy Prophet had Sabiha married to Umar.
In Madina, Umar married an Ansar lady Asiah bint Sabat Ansari. On marriage Umar changed her name to Jamila. Umar resided with her at Quba. It is reported that for some years she was Umar’s favorite wife. A few years later, Umar divorced her and shifted to Madina. The reason why Umar divorced her is not known.
Some time in A.D. 628, news was brought to the Holy Prophet that the Banu Al-Mustaliq were gathering together against the Muslims. The Holy Prophet decided that before the enemy could gather strength the Muslims should fall upon and break their power.
The Holy Prophet led the campaign personally. The Muslim force that accompanied the Holy Prophet included Umar. It also included Abdullah bin Ubayy, an Ansar chief whose loyalties to Islam and the Holy Prophet were doubtful.
A confrontation with the Banu al-Mustaliq took place at Muraysi on the road to the sea. The Banu-Mustaliq were defeated with heavy losses, and the Muslims captured considerable booty including many captives both men and women.
After the Banu al-Mustaliq were overpowered and put to flight, the Muslim force halted at a watering place. Here Jahja bin Masud a servant of Umar led his horse to the watering place. There a quarrel arose between him and Sinan b. Wabar al-Juhani, an Ansari. In the quarrel Sinan called the men of the Ansar to his aid, while Jabja invoked the assistance of the Muhajreen.
The incident was exploited by Abdullah b. Ubayy, and he spoke unbecoming words against the Muhajreen. He said:
“The Muhajreen dispute our priority. They want to overpower us in our own city. Nothing fits us and the vagabonds of Quraish as the ancient saying ‘Feed a dog and it will devour you’.”
Zaid b. Arqam an Ansar boy who heard Abdullah bin Ubayy indulge in such talk reported to the Holy Prophet what he had said. Umar who was sitting with the Holy Prophet asked for the Holy Prophet’s permission to kill Abdullah bin Ubayy. The Holy Prophet said:
“Umar be calm and patient. If I permit you to kill Abdullah, will not the people say that Muhammad kills his own followers?”
The Holy Prophet immediately ordered a march to Madina. It was noon, an unusual time to travel, but all concerned complied with the order thinking that something unusual had happened and the Prophet of Allah knew what was best.
Abdullah bin Ubayy saw the Holy Prophet, and denied having said what had been reported against him. There were others even among the Ansars who held that Abdullah bin Ubayy had said what he should not have said. The Holy Prophet, however, chose to be silent.
When the party reached Madina, the unfortunate episode became the talk of the town. According to the consensus of opinion, Abdullah b. Ubayy was to blamed. When the son of Abdullah b. Ubayy came to know of what his father had said, he waited on the Holy Prophet and said:
“I have heard that you want to kill my father for what you have heard about him. If you intend to kill him, then order me to do so, and I will bring you his head. I am afraid that if you order some one else to kill him, my soul will not permit me to see his murderer walking among men, and I shall kill him thus killing a believer for an unbeliever and so I would go to hell.”
The Holy Prophet said, “Thank God there are persons among the Muslims who would be prepared to kill their fathers for the sake of Islam.”
Turning to the son of Abdullah b. Ubayy the Holy Prophet said:
“Thank you for your offer. I do not contemplate any such action against your father.”
The son of Abdullah praised the Holy Prophet for his magnanimity. After he had left, the Holy Prophet turned to Umar and said:
“Now Umar what do you think. Had I allowed you to kill him on the day you wanted me to permit you, his people would have risen in his support. Today you see, his own son is prepared to kill him.” Thereupon Umar replied: “Verily I know not what you know. Your vision is certainly penetrating and blessed.”
The raid on al-Mustaliq led to another unfortunate episode which was a cause of great concern to the Holy Prophet and his companions for some time. Each time the Holy Prophet went on a campaign, one of his wives accompanied him, and the decision was always taken by the drawing of lots. On the occasion of the raid of Mustaliq, Ayesha accompanied the Holy Prophet. On return from the campaign she traveled on the back of a camel in a closed litter. On account of the regrettable behavior of Abdullah bin Ubayy, there was considerable tension in the atmosphere. As the caravan traveled at an unusual time, there was considerable upsetting of the program. The party halted for the night at some distance from Madina. At early dawn the call to move was given. Ayesha went to the desert to answer the call of nature, and on return occupied her litter. There she noticed that the necklace of Yemenite agates which she wore was no longer around her neck. Hurriedly she left the litter, and went to the desert where she found the necklace. When she returned to the camp the spot was deserted, and the caravan had left. The men in charge of her camel, seeing the litter closed, and thinking it occupied, had placed it on the camel and departed with it. Ayesha called aloud, but no one responded to her call. She decided to sit down, hoping that some body would come to fetch her. Soon she fell asleep, wrapped in her cloak.
“We belong to God and to Him we return.” These words fell on the ears of Ayesha, and she awoke with a start. A young man stood before her holding a camel by its reins. Safwan bin Al-Muthal following the army in the rear had notice a young woman asleep in the desert, and upon approaching her, recognized her as the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). Ayesha quickly covered herself with her veil. Safwan adjusted the camel’s saddle-girth and made the beast kneel. Ayesha thereupon mounted the camel. Holding the camel by the bridle, Safwan resumed the road. After a tiring journey they reached Madina at noon, a few hours after the arrival of the Holy Prophet. That provided an opportunity to Abdullah bin Ubbay and some other hypocrites to whip up a campaign of slander against Ayesha. The Holy Prophet consulted his friends about divorcing Ayesha. Ali advised that Ayesha should be divorced. When Umar was consulted he said, “O Prophet of God, I know for certain that the hypocrites are speaking malicious lie.” The Holy Prophet asked Umar as to the grounds with him for holding that the hypocrites were speaking lies, Umar said:
“By reason of God not allowing a fly to settle upon thy blessed skirts, because it alights also on impure things and soils its feet. How then would He not preserve thee and thy name from a worse defilement?”
Umar further said that he was sure that God Himself would cause the innocence of the young lady to become manifest.” He further said:
“If God does not allow thy shadow to fall upon the ground, lest it might be polluted, or a person step thereon, will He not restrain thy honored spouse from committing impropriety?”
Later, as anticipated by Umar, the Holy Prophet had a revelation in which God Himself bore witness to the purity and innocence of Ayesha. When the ordeal was over, the Holy Prophet thanked Umar for his support during the crisis. Ayesha paid for this kindness many years later when she allowed Umar to be buried in her chamber by the side of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr.
In Madina the Muslim women did not observe any purdah. They freely moved among men. The majority of men in Madina were men of great faith, and they were very careful in their conduct to women. There were some hypocrites among Muslims from whom any mischief could be expected. There were also some Jews from whom no good could be expected. Umar felt that if God forbidding any hypocrite played any mischief with regard to the women of Muslims that would be very damaging.
Umar expressed these views to the Holy Prophet, and suggested that women should be required to stay at home. Umar said that the wives of the Holy Prophet should particularly stay at home, for their prestige and honor were a matter of great concern for the Muslim community.
On hearing this advice of Umar, Zainab a wife of the Holy Prophet said:
“Umar you have started in interfering in the domestic affairs of the Prophet as well. The revelation comes to our house. and you come up with suggestions of your own.”
The Holy Prophet, however, appreciated what Umar had said. He said that he was awaiting revelation, and action would be taken in accordance with the injunctions of God.
And then came a detailed revelation on the subject. The revelation was:
“Prophet say to your wives: if you desire the present life and its beautiful things, come and I will give you your dowries and send you away in a handsome manner. And if you desire Allah and His Prophet and the next world, remember that Allah has in store a great reward for those of you who are righteous.” 33:28
Another verse provided:
“O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits flagrant indecency will have your punishment twice over. Indeed it is easy for Allah to double your punishment. As for those who are obedient to Allah and His Apostle and act righteously We shall give them their reward twice over. We have rare gifts in store for them.” 33:30
And yet another verse said:
“O wives of the Prophet, you are like no other women. If you fear Allah do not be soft spoken, for it will tempt the man who has a disease in his heart. Speak in a dignified tone, stay in your homes, and do not display your beauty as in the days of ignorance. Observe prayer, give alms, and obey Allah and His Apostle. Members of the house of the Prophet! Allah only intends to rid you of your uncleanliness and to purify you completely. Women keep in mind the revelations of Allah and the words of wisdom which are recited in your houses. Benign is Allah; All-Aware.” 33:32
These verses corroborated what Umar had said. When the Holy Prophet informed Umar of these verses he felt satisfied that God had ordered in the way he had desired. Turning to Umar the Holy Prophet said, “Umar, rejoice for once again Allah has spoken through your tongue.”
Banu Howazin was a tribe which inhabited the Turbah valley at two days march from Mecca. The tribe had indulged in some hostile activities against Islam, and in 629 A.D., the Holy Prophet decided to take punitive action against the tribe.
The Holy Prophet commissioned Umar to lead the expedition against Banu Howazin. The instructions of the Holy Prophet were that the tribe should be called to Islam, and in the event of their refusal, force should be used against them, and they should be driven away from the Turbah valley.
The Muslim expeditionary force consisted of thirty men. They had with them a guide of the Banu Hilal, who showed them the way, and led them to Turbah valley through unfrequented paths.
When the Muslim force reached the Turbah valley, they found that on hearing the approach of the Muslim force, the Banu Howazin had evacuated the valley and fled elsewhere with their animals and other belongings. The Muslim force stayed in the valley for some days. Scouts were sent in various directions to find some clue of the whereabouts of the Banu Howazin. No clue was found, and as the object of driving away the hostile tribe from the neighborhood of Mecca had been achieved without firing a shot, the Muslim force decided to return to Madina.
When on the return march, the Muslim force reached ZiAljaza, about six miles from Madina, the Banu Hilal guide said:
As on the expedition against Banu Howazin you have had no booty, and if you want to return to Madina carrying some booty I can guide you against some other tribe Banu Kbusham have been afflicted with famine. I have seen them going that way. If you think of attacking them and getting some booty, I can take you by a path to such a place from where you could launch a surprise attack on them. In spite of famine conditions they have ample wealth with them which you could appropriate.”
Thereupon Umar said: “The Holy Prophet merely sent us against Banu Howazin, and the object was to promote the cause of Islam and not to get booty for ourselves. As the Holy Prophet did not authorize me to attack any other tribe, I am afraid I can not attack any other tribe just for the sake of booty, without the express instructions of the Holy Prophet. “When on return to Madina, Umar submitted his report to the Holy Prophet, and stated how he had not accepted the advice of the guide to attack Banu Khusham, the Holy Prophet said, “Umar you did well. If you had attacked them, I would have been unhappy.”
After having been driven away from Madina, the Jews settled at Khyber. The Jews were a cunning and crafty people, and they involved themselves in intrigues against the Muslims.
The pact of Hudaibiya brought truce with the Quraish for a period of ten years. This meant that the Quraish could no longer openly aid the Jews against the Muslims. In spite of this situation, there was no diminution in the hostility of the Jews against the Muslims, and they began to work for the formation of an another coalition against the Muslims.
To forestall the evil designs of the Jews, the Holy Prophet marched to Khyber in 629 A.D. with a force of 1,400 Muslims. The Jews shut themselves in their forts. Some of these forts were very formidable with frowning walls built of the living rock.
The Jews had ample provisions, and there was no shortage of arms with them. They were offered to accept Islam, but they spurned the offer. Thereupon the Holy Prophet ordered an offensive against the Jews.
On the first day the Muslims led the attack against the Jews under the command of Abu Bakr. The Jews remained locked up in their forts and there was no confrontation.
The following day, Umar commanded the Muslim forces. The Jews remained shut up in their forts and there was no fight.
On the third day, Ali commanded the Muslim forces. Surprisingly, the Jews came out of their forts that day and fought in the open. In a hand to hand fight the Jews were overpowered and they capitulated.
According to the terms of the settlement, the Jews agreed to submit to the suzerainty of the Muslims, and to pay them a land tax equivalent to one half of the land produce.
The battle of Khyber had far reaching consequences. It established the paramountcy of Islam in the Arabian peninsula. The Jews now became the subjects of the Muslim State. As the Quraish thereby lost the support of the Jews, the battle of Khyber paved the way for the conquest of Mecca.
At Khyber, Zainab bint Harith a Jewish lady invited the Holy Prophet and his companions to a feast. Abu Bakr sat by the side of the Holy Prophet, and next to Abu Bakr sat Umar.
The Holy Prophet took a morsel of meat and after chewing it threw it away saying, “The meat is poisoned.” Abu Bakr and Umar had so far held their hands. Bishr bin Bra who sat next to the Holy Prophet on the other side ate a good deal of meat, and after a few moments he was dead.
The feast ended in confusion, Zainab was put to explanation, and she admitted her guilt. She pleaded that she had poisoned the meat thinking that if Muhammad (peace be on him) was a prophet he would find that it was poisoned, and if he was not a prophet, the world would get rid of him.
Accounts of subsequent proceedings differ. According to one account Zainab became a Muslim and was forgiven.
According to another account she was beheaded.
A tradition has come down to us on the authority of Umar himself that on the day of Khyber some of the companions of the Holy Prophet stated that so and so were martyrs. When they came to a man about whom they said, “So and so is a martyr” the Holy Prophet declared, “By no means, I have seen him in hell in a cloak which he took dishonestly.” The Holy Prophet said to Umar “Go, ibn al-Khattab and announce among the people three times that only the believers will enter Paradise.” In compliance with these instructions Umar went out and announced three times, “Only the believers will enter Paradise.”
According to the terms of the treaty of Hudaibiya the Arab tribes had the option to be allied with the Quraish or the Muslims. As a consequence the Banu Bakr joined the Quraish, and the Khuza’ah joined the Muslims.
In disregard of the treaty, Banu Bakr attacked the Khuza’ah and even when the Khuza’ah sought the sanctuary of the Ka’aba, many persons of the Khuza’ah were chased and put to death.
The Khuza’ah wanted the Muslims to come to their aid in accordance with the terms of the treaty. The Holy Prophet gave an ultimatum to the Quraish making three alternative demands, i.e.
- to pay the blood money for the victims;
- to terminate their alliance with Banu Bakr; or
- to consider the Hudaibiya pact to be abrogated.
In a fit of arrogance the Quraish replied that they would neither pay blood money, nor terminate their alliance with Banu Bakr, and that they were prepared to consider the Hudaibiya pact as having been abrogated.
The Muslims in general and Umar in particular were happy that the Hudaibiya pact of which they were critical had been abrogated by the Quraish themselves.
The Quraish soon realized that they had imprudently abrogated the treaty. Abu Sufiyan the leader of the Quraish visited Madina to arrive at some amicable settlement. He wanted his daughter who was a wife of the Holy Prophet to plead for him with the Prophet but she refused. Abu Sufiyan waited on Abu Bakr and Ali but they did not listen to him. He sought the help of Umar, and Umar made him understand that there could no longer be any reconciliation with the Quraish unless they accepted Islam. The peace efforts having proved futile, Abu Sufiyan returned to Mecca.
After Abu Sufiyan had left Madina, the Holy Prophet ordered preparations to be made for a foray. As Umar came to see his daughter Hafsa, he saw that she was packing some goods. He enquired whether Holy Prophet had ordered her to get things packed up, and she said that he had. Later the Holy Prophet took Umar into confidence and told him that he was leading an expedition to Mecca, and that he was also to accompany him.
The Holy Prophet mustered a force over ten thousand strong and marched to Mecca. Having reached the neighborhood of Mecca the Muslim army encamped at Marr al-Zahran
The Holy Prophet sent Hadrat Abbas to Mecca on a diplomatic mission. Hadrat Abbas met Abu Sufiyan and advised him that the best course for him and the Quraish was to place themselves at the mercy of the Holy Prophet. Abu Sufiyan agreed to wait on ~he Holy Prophet to get terms.
Umar saw Abbas and Abu Sufiyan proceeding to the camp of the Holy Prophet. Hadrat Umar strode forward Hurriedly, and addressing the Holy Prophet said. “Permit me to behead Abu Sufiyan the enemy of Islam.” The Holy Prophet said, “Umar, wait for a while and see.”
At the Muslim camp, Abu Sufiyan was converted to Islam. That was the end of the Quraish opposition.
The following day the Muslim army marched triumphantly into Mecca. One of the contingents was lead by Umar.
The triumphant entry of the Muslims in Mecca marked the vindication of the truth of Islam. The city which ten years ago had treated the Muslims cruelly, and had driven them to seek refuge with strangers, now lay at the feet of the Muslims.
In the hour of triumph the Holy Prophet forgot every evil suffered, and forgave every injury that had been inflicted on him. He granted general amnesty to the people of Mecca.
The Holy Prophet along with his companions visited the Ka’aba. The idols were broken, and one by one the stone gods were destroyed. Thereupon the Holy Prophet recited the verse from the Holy Qumran:
“Say the Truth is come and falsehood gone; Verily falsehood is ever vanishing.”
The people assembled at the Ka’aba, and the Holy Prophet delivered the following address:
“There is no god but Allah. He has no associate. He has made good His promise that He held to his bondman and helped him and defeated all the confederates. Bear in mind that every claim of privilege, whether that of blood or property is abolished except that of the custody of the Ka’aba and of supplying water to the pilgrims. Bear in mind that for any one who is slain the blood money is a hundred camels. People of Quraish, surely God has abolished from you all pride of the time of ignorance and all pride in your ancestry, because all men are descended from Adam, and Adam was made of clay.” Then the Holy Prophet turning to the people said:
“O ye Quraish, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you.?”
And they said, “Mercy, O Prophet of Allah. We expect nothing but good from you.”
Thereupon the Holy Prophet declared:
“I speak to you in the same words as Joseph spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free.”
The announcement was received with greatest joy and applause. Then accompanied by Umar the Holy Prophet ascended the brow of the Safa to initiate the people to the vow of allegiance to Islam. The people came in large numbers to be converted to Islam. After the oath-taking ceremony of men was over, the Holy Prophet directed Umar to take the oath of allegiance from women on his behalf. All the Quraish ladies in Mecca took the oath of allegiance to Allah, the Holy Prophet and Islam at the hands Umar.
After the fall of Mecca, the neighboring tribes of Howazin and Sagef had to choose between Islam and war against Muslims. They chose the war path, and the two tribes along with their allies mustered in considerable strength at Autas to the west of Mecca. The coalition was led by Malik bin Auf a fiery commander of considerable skill.
When the Holy Prophet came to know of the hostile intention of the tribes, he decided to take action against them. On a cold day in January 630 A.D. the Muslim forces set out from Mecca. The army consisted of 12,000 persons fully armed. Out of these 10,000 were from Madina who had attacked Mecca and 2,000 were the newly converted Muslims from Mecca.
As on the way to Autas the Muslim army passed through the valley of Hunain, some eleven miles north east of Mecca, a rain of arrows fell on the Muslims let loose by a group of archers of the hostile tribes who lay hid in the mountain pass. Taken unawares the advance guard of the Muslim army fled in panic. There was considerable confusion, and camels, horses and men ran into one another to seek cover.
The Holy Prophet stood firm. There were only nine companions around him including Umar. All the rest had fled. Under the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Abbas shouted at the top of his voice, “O Muslims, come to the Prophet of Allah”.
The call was heard by the Muslim soldiers, and they gathered round the Holy Prophet. When the Muslims had gathered in sufficient number, the Holy Prophet ordered a charge against the enemy. In the hand to hand fight that followed, the tribes were routed and they fled to Autas.
The Holy Prophet posted a contingent to guard the Hunain pass, and led the main Muslim army to Autas. In the confrontation at Autas, the tribes could not withstand the Muslim onslaught. Finding the resistance useless the tribes broke the camp and retired to Taif.
From Autas the Muslim forces set out for Taif. The tribes shut themselves in the fort and refused to come out in the open. The Muslims employed catapults to throw stones in the town, but this did not lead to any tangible results. The Muslims tried the tostado device “hereunder a group of soldiers shielded by a cover of cowhide advanced to set fire to the gate. The enemy threw red hot scraps of iron on the tostado which made it ineffective.
The siege dragged on for two weeks, and still there was no sign of the fall of the fort. The Holy Prophet held a council of war. The companions including Umar advised that the siege might be raised and that God would Himself make arrangements for the fall of the fort.
The advice was accepted, and in February 630 the siege of Taif was raised, and the Muslim army returned to Mecca. A few days later, Malik bin Auf came to Mecca of his own accord and became a Muslim. Thus God Himself arranged for the surrender of Taif to Islam.
In A.D. 630 the Holy Prophet decided to lead an expedition to Tabuk on the Syrian border. In order to finance the expedition the Holy Prophet invited contributions and donations from his followers.
Umar had then considerable wealth with him, and he thought that was the occasion for him to excel Abu Bakr in the matter of donation in the way of God.
Umar went home and he returned loaded with considerable wealth. When the Holy Prophet asked him how much he had left for himself and his family, he said that he had given one half of his wealth in the way of Allah, and had left one half for himself and his dependents. The Holy Prophet was much pleased at the contribution, and he thanked Umar profusely.
Then Abu Bakr came carrying his contribution, and the Holy Prophet put to him the same question as to how much wealth he had left for himself and his family. Abu Bakr said, “I have brought all that I had. I have left Allah and His Prophet for myself and my family.”
This episode has formed the theme of one of the poems of Allama Iqbal. The last verse of the poem reads:
“For the moth the lamp, and for the nightingale the flower,
For Siddiq, God and His Prophet alone suffice.”
The call to arms was given at a very inconvenient time. The weather was burning hot. Crops were ripe and ready for harvesting. The journey to the Syrian border was long and arduous. Many persons preferred to stay back. In spite of obstacles and difficulties, an army of thirty thousand persons was raised.
The Muslim army reached Tabuk after a weary march.
There was no Byzantine force to meet the Muslims. On coming to know of the advance of the Muslim army, the Byzantines had withdrawn their army well within Syria. The Muslims achieved their object without firing a shot.
The Byzantines who had at one time threatened to invade Arabia were no longer in the mood to measure swords with the Muslims. The tribes in the region which were under the paramountcy of the Byzantines transferred their allegiance to the Muslims.
At Tabuk, the Holy Prophet delivered a classical address which has passed into history. He said:
“Verily the most veracious discourse is the Book of Allah.
The most trusty stronghold is the word of piety.
The best of religions Is the religion of Islam.
The best of the precedents is the precedent of Muhammad.
The noblest speech is the invocation of Allah.
The finest of the narratives is the Quran.
The best of the affairs is that which has been firmly resolved upon.
The worst in religion are those things which are created without sanction.
The best of the ways is the one trodden by the Prophets. The noblest death is the death of a martyr.
The most miserable blindness is the waywardness after guidance.
The best of the actions is that which is beneficent.
The best guidance is that which is put into practice.
The worst blindness is the blindness of the heart.”
In Madina, Umar lived in an elevated part of the city. His neighbor was Banu Umayya bin Zaid Ansari. The practice was that one day Umar attended the Holy Prophet, and informed his Ansari friend about all that had happened in the Prophet’s Mosque. The other day Banu Umayya attended the Prophet’s Mosque and on return informed Umar of all that had happened that day.
Umar felt that while in Mecca the Quraishites dominated over their women, in Madina things had changed, and the women asserted themselves. One day Umar was cross with his wife on some matter, but instead of being quiet she retorted, “How is it that you feel annoyed at my remonstrance. Go and see that the wives of the Holy Prophet remonstrate with the Holy Prophet. Tonight one of his wives quarreled with him all the night.”
Hearing this, Umar went to his daughter Hafsa and enquired of her whether she had quarreled with the Holy Prophet. She said that she had quarreled with the Holy Prophet as she had a grievance. Thereupon Umar said, “Hafsa you are incurring loss. Don’t you know by annoying the Holy Prophet you invite the wrath of God.” After reprimanding her in severe terms, Umar returned home.
At night, the Ansari neighbor of Umar knocked at his door, and as Umar went to see what was the matter, his friend told him that something very grave had happened. Umar thought that perhaps Banu Ghassan whose attack was expected had invaded Madina. Umar enquired whether Banu Ghassan had launched the attack. Banu Umaya said, “No. Something more serious than that has happened”. When Umar pressed him to tell what had happened he said that the Holy Prophet had divorced his wives.
Umar was very much upset at the news. He spent the whole night in prayer. Early in the morning next day, Umar went to Hafsa. He found her weeping. He enquired of her whether the Holy Prophet had divorced her. She said that she did not know. Umar rebuked her saying. “Did I not warn you before hand that by annoying the Holy Prophet you would be inviting trouble?” Thereupon Hafsa burst into violent sobs. Umar left her weeping and went to the Prophet’s Mosque. There the people were sitting in groups here and there and were lamenting that the Holy Prophet had divorced his wives.
The Holy Prophet was in the cell attached to the Mosque. Umar went to the cell, and asked the slave at the door to seek the Holy Prophet’s permission to his admittance. The slave returned to say that he had sought the requisite permission from the Holy Prophet but he had kept quiet.
Umar returned to the main hall of the Mosque, and sat in a corner in a dejected mood. After some time he rose and went again to the ceil of the Holy Prophet. Once again he requested the slave to get permission for his admittance. The slave returned to say that the Holy Prophet had made no reply
Umar returned once again to the main hall of the Mosque. He was highly upset and he prayed to God for mercy. Then once again he went to the cell of the Holy Prophet. This time he was allowed permission. Entering the cell, Umar said:
“O Messenger of God, I have not come to plead for Hafsa.
If that is your pleasure I would wring her neck with my own hands.”
That softened the Holy Prophet and he smiled at the words of Umar.
Umar further said, “I find that in Mecca our ladies were docile; the climate of Madina has made them assertive. O Prophet of God if because of the impudence of your wives, you have divorced them, God, His angels, and all your followers are with you.”
The Holy Prophet smiled and said, “Be assured, I have not divorced my wives. I have only decided to remain separate from them for a period of one month.”
“Then may I tell so to Hafsa”, said Umar.
The Holy Prophet said. “You may, if you like”.
Umar cast a glance across the room. The Holy Prophet lay on a bare mat. There was no furniture in the room. There was hardly anything for the Holy Prophet to eat, but a barley bread. Seeing this extreme state of austerity, tears began to trickle from the eyes of Umar.
The Holy Prophet said, “Ibn-i-Khattab, what makes you weep ?”
Umar said, “You are the Prophet of God and you are living in such straitened circumstances. The people of Persia and Byzantine live in luxury. O Prophet of God why don’t you pray to God that he should bestow wealth on you?”
The Holy Prophet said. “Do you think He Who made me His Prophet could not make me wealthy. Indeed He offered me the keys of all treasures in the world, but I refused them in return for the treasures in the next world. Surely treasures in the next world are to be preferred to petty wealth in this world. And as for the riches of Persia and Byzantine rest assured all such wealth will lie at the feet of the Muslims. I will not be alive then, but in your lifetime, both Persia and Byzantine will be overpowered by the Muslims.”
Abdullah bin Ubayy was an Ansar chief of Madina. Abdullah bin Ubayy had the ambition to wear the crown of Madina. When the people of Madina invited the Holy Prophet and the Muslims to migrate to Madina and accepted the Holy Prophet as their ruler the designs of Abdullah bin Ubayy were frustrated. As all the Arabs of Madina accepted Islam, Abdullah also became a Muslim as a measure of expediency. Islam, however, sat lightly on him, and he often indulged in activities hostile to Islam.
In the battle of Uhud, he betrayed the Muslim trust and withdrew his contingent at the last moment. On the occasion of the raid of Al-Mustaliq he said unbecoming things against the Muhajreen including the Holy Prophet. In the sad episode of False Allegation he was responsible for calumny against Ayesha. Umar sought the permission of the Holy Prophet to kill Abdullah bin Ubayy, but the Holy Prophet, kind-hearted as he was, did not give the permission.
Even Allah had taken notice of the hypocrisy of Abdullah bin Ubayy, and in a revelation to the Holy Prophet it was said that even if he prayed for the hypocrites seventy times his prayer would not be accepted.
When Abdullah bin Ubayy died, the Holy Prophet attended his funeral and decided to lead the funeral prayer. At this stage Umar waited on the Holy Prophet, and tried to dissuade him from leading the funeral prayer of Abdullah bin Ubayy. Umar recounted the various hypocrisies of Abdullah, and also referred to the revelation where under God had said that the hypocrites would not be forgiven even if seventy prayers were offered.
The Holy Prophet said:
“Umar, get behind me and let us offer the prayer. In this matter God has given me the choice, and I have decided to adopt a magnanimous attitude.”
Thereupon Umar joined the ranks and the funeral prayers were offered under the leadership of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet remained in the graveyard till Abdullah was buried. Then the Holy Prophet prayed over the grave of Abdullah before returning home.
A few days later, the following verses were revealed to the Holy Prophet:
“And never pray for any of them at his funeral, And do not stand by his grave, For they disbelieved in God and His Apostle.” 9:13
When the Holy Prophet informed Umar of these verses, Umar felt happy that Almighty Allah had confirmed his point of view.
Umar stated that one day when he and some other companions were with God’s Messenger, a man with very white clothing and very black hair came up. Sitting down beside the Holy Prophet leaning his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs he said, “Tell me Muhammad about Islam.”
The Holy Prophet said, ” Islam means that you should testify that there is no god but Allah; that Muhammad is God’s Messenger; that you should observe the prayer, pay the Zakat, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the House of God, if you have the means”.
The visitor said “You have spoken the truth. Now tell me about faith ”
The Holy Prophet said, “It means that you should believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Apostles, and the last day, and that you should believe in the decreeing both of good and evil.”
The man said that that was true. He then asked, “Now tell me about doing good.”
The Holy Prophet said, “It means that you should worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, and if you aye not seeing him (perceive) that He is in fact seeing you.”
The man accepted the statement as correct. He next asked, “Now tell me about the Hour”.
The Holy Prophet said, “The one who is asked about is no better informed than the one who is asking”.
Thereupon the man said, “Then tell me about its signs”.
The Holy Prophet replied, “The signs are that a maid servant should beget her mistress, and that you should see barefooted naked poor men and shepherds exulting themselves in buildings.”
The visitor felt satisfied then he sought leave to depart and as soon as leave was given he disappeared Umar who was present wondered who was the visitor.
Turning to Umar, the Holy Prophet said, “Do you know who was the visitor?”
Umar replied that he did not know.
Thereupon the Holy Prophet said, “He was Gabriel, who came to you to teach your religion.”
It is related by Abu Huraira that once he along with other companions including Abu Bakr and Umar were sitting with the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet rose from their midst and went to the garden of Ansar Banu Najjar.
The return of the Holy Prophet was delayed, and his companions felt anxious. Abu Huraira was the first to proceed to the garden of Banu Najjar. There he found no gate. He managed to go inside the garden through a drain.
Seeing him, the Holy Prophet said, “Abu Huraira what brings you here?”
Abu Huraira said, “You took long to return and we felt worried. So we have come after you”.
Thereafter the Holy Prophet gave him his shoes and said, “Go carrying these shoes outside the garden, and whomsoever you meet who declares the article of faith with the sincerity of heart, give him the tidings of Paradise.”
As Abu Huraira came out of the garden carrying the shoes of the Holy Prophet, the first person to meet him was Umar.
Umar said to Abu Huraira, “Why are you carrying the shoes of the Holy Prophet ?”
Abu Huraira said, “I am carrying these shoes under the command of the Holy Prophet. I have been commissioned to give the tidings of Paradise to whomsoever I meet, while carrying these shoes, who declares that he believes in the article of faith with sincerity of heart.”
Umar felt angry. He handled Abu Huraira rather violently and said, “No such tidings are necessary. Abu Huraira go back.”
As Abu Huraira went back to the Holy Prophet, he complained against Umar, and said that Umar had obstructed him in the performance of the mission that the Holy Prophet had entrusted to him.
In the meantime Umar also turned up. Seeing him, the Holy Prophet said, “Why did you behave rudely to Abu Huraira?”
Umar said “May my parents be a sacrifice to you Holy Prophet. The truth of the matter is that he intended to give the tidings of Paradise to all Muslims irrespective of their conduct. That would have been repugnant to the injunctions of Islam which makes admission to Paradise contingent by doing good. Holy Prophet, do not issue permits for the Paradise. Let the people do their duties. If they are assured of Paradise before hand there is the danger that they would relax in the performance of their obligations.”
The Holy Prophet said, “Alright, let the Muslims perform their obligations.”
Early in A.D. 632 the Holy Prophet decided to proceed to Mecca to perform the Hajj. The pilgrimage was planed on a large scale. Messengers were sent to all parts of Arabia asking the Muslims to collect at Madina for the purpose of the pilgrimage. In response to this call over one lakh persons assembled in Madina.
Then the caravan of over one lakh persons started for Mecca. The Holy Prophet rode at the head. All his wives accompanied him. Then followed Abu Bakr and Umar accompanied by their families.
At Dhul Hulaifa the Holy Prophet and all his followers put on the Ihram. The Holy Prophet gave the signal call “Labbaik, Allabumma Labbaik–here I am at Thy service O Lord.” This cry was repeated by all the one lakh persons in the congregation.
The party reached Mecca on the 4th of Zul Hajj, after a journey of nineteen days. On the 8th of Zul Hajj the party left Mecca for Mina and passed the night there. Next day the party proceeded to Arafat. After mid-day prayers on the 9th of Zul Hajj the Holy Prophet delivered his historic address.
After giving praise to God, the Holy Prophet said:
“O people, listen carefully to my words for I may not be among you next year, nor ever address you again from this spot. O people just as you regard this month as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that none may hurt you. Usury is forbidden. Satan has despaired of leading you astray in big things, so beware of obeying him in small things. Women have rights over you and you have rights over them. Be good to them. You may soon have to appear before God and answer for your deeds so beware. Do not go astray after I have gone. O people no prophet will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Worship your God, say your prayer, fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in charity. All Muslims free or enslaved have the same rights and the same responsibilities. None is higher than the other unless he is higher in virtue. Feed your slaves as you feed yourselves; clothe them as you clothe yourselves. Do not oppress them, nor usurp their rights.”
Having spoken thus the Holy Prophet turned his face to the Heaven and said:
“Be my witness O God, that I have conveyed Your message to Your people.”
And then all the people said:
“Yes, you have done so.”
After the Holy Prophet had delivered his address, God revealed to him the verses:
“This day have We perfected for you your faith, And completed Our blessing upon you And have accepted for you Islam as religion.”
As Umar heard these verses, he felt happy that God had perfected the faith for them. Umar called on Abu Bakr and found him very sad. Umar asked Abu Bakr the reason for his sadness when God had sent the tidings that their faith had been perfected. Abu Bakr said that the implication of these verses was that the mission of the Holy Prophet had been completed, and that the day when the Holy Prophet would depart to meet his Lord was not far off. Umar could not, however, share the fears of Abu Bakr that the Holy Prophet would not live long in their midst.
The party left Arafat in the evening and passed the night at Muzdalifa. The following day they went to Mina and sacrificed the animals. The Holy Prophet sacrificed 63 animals, one for each year of his life. Umar sacrificed 52 animals. The men next shaved their heads and the Hajj was completed. Thereafter the Holy Prophet and his followers returned to Madina.
A short time after returning from the “Farewell Pilgrimage”, the Holy Prophet fell sick. The poison which a Jewess had given to him at Khyber had slowly penetrated into his system, and began to show its effects. The Holy Prophet felt that having fulfilled his mission his earthly life was to end and he was to meet his Master.
One night the Holy Prophet went to the graveyard and there prayed for the souls of his companions who had fallen at the battle of Uhud. Then he returned to the apartment of his wife Maimuna. The fever became violent. The Holy Prophet assembled all his wives and told them that on account of his sickness it would not be possible for him to visit each wife in turn. He wanted their permission to stay in the apartment of Ayesha till he recovered. All the wives gave their consent, and the Holy Prophet supported by Ali and Abbas moved to the apartment of Ayesha.
A day later there was some relief and the Holy Prophet took a bath. Refreshed by the bath the Holy Prophet went to the Mosque to offer the noonday prayer. After the prayer had concluded, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit and addressed the people:
“There is a servant whose Lord has given him option between this life and the next nigh unto the Lord and the servant has chosen the latter. O People it has reached me that you are afraid of the approaching death of your Prophet. Has any previous Prophet lived for ever among those to whom he was sent so that I would live for ever among you? Behold, I am about to go to my Lord. You too will go sooner or later.”
After the address the Holy Prophet retired to the quarter of Ayesha. His condition did not improve The night following the seventh June 632 A D. lay heavy upon him. He was overheard praying constantly to Allah for his blessings The morning of the eighth June brought some relief. Fever and pain abated to some extent. Moving the curtain of his apartment the Holy Prophet saw the Muslims praying in the Mosque. The Holy Prophet supported by Ali walked to the Mosque. After the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit and addressed his followers thus:
“By the Lord! As for myself, I have not made lawful anything excepting that which God has declared lawful; nor have I prohibited aught but that which God has forbidden.”
Thereafter the Holy Prophet returned to the apartment of Ayesha. The condition of the Holy Prophet grew worse, and within a few hours he passed away.
The faithful had assembled in the Mosque. They sat in groups here and there. There was an air of uneasiness in the atmosphere. There was a whispering that the Holy Prophet was dead, There were suppressed sobs and sighs, Many persons were weeping, What would happen to the Muslims when the Great Prophet was to be no longer in their midst was the thought that disturbed everyone.
All eyes were turned to the quarter of Ayesha. The faithful had the fond hope that the door of the chamber would open any moment and the Holy Prophet would emerge with his face radiating divine light.
In the courtyard of the Mosque. Umar moved among the people saying:
“Who says that the Prophet is dead. I testify that he is alive and has gone to Allah like Moses, and would return to us after some time.”
The door of the chamber of Ayesha opened and a thin frail old man walking stoopingly moved towards the courtyard of the Mosque. He had the look of a patriarch. He was Abu Bakr. As he stood among the people, his furrowed face and tear stained eyes betrayed the grief within him. In measured words he said:
“Listen to me, ye people. Those of you who worshipped Muhammad know that he is dead like any other mortal. But those of you who worship the God of Muhammad know that He is alive and would live for ever.”
A hushed silence fell on the gathering. They were stunned with the shock. Abu Bakr wiped the tears from his eyes and turning to the people recited the following verses from the Holy Quran:
“Muhammad is but a Messenger, Messengers of God have passed away before him. What, if he dies or is killed? Will you turn back upon your heels? And whosoever turns back upon his heels Will by no means do harm to Allah, And Allah will reward the thankful.” Abu Bakr added:
“Muhammad the Great Prophet was a mortal; From Allah he came, and to Allah he has returned.”
The effect of Abu Bakr’s address was electrical in character. It appeared as though the people did not know that this verse of the Holy Quran had come down until Abu Bakr had recited it that day. Umar said:
“By God when I heard Abu Bakr recite these words I was dumb founded so that my legs would not bear me, and I fell to the ground knowing that the Holy Prophet was indeed dead.”
When the dead body of the Holy Prophet of Islam was being prepared for burial, the Ansar assembled at their meeting place ‘Saqifa-i-Bani Sa’dah’ to discuss the question of succession to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was the last of the prophets, and there could be no prophet after him. He was also the Leader of the Muslims, and it was necessary that after him there should be some one who should be the head of the community.
At the meeting at Saqifa-i-Bani Sa’dah, Sa’d bin Ubadah made a passionate plea that the successor to the Holy Prophet for managing the temporal affairs of the community should be chosen from among the Ansars. He argued that they were the people who had protected Islam, and had offered a home for the Holy Prophet and his companions when they were persecuted by their own people. It was through their efforts that Islam had spread and grown. When Sa’d completed his speech he was applauded by the audience and it appeared as if the Ansars were going to choose him as their Leader in succession to the Holy Prophet.
While the meeting was being held at Saqifa-i-Bani Sa’dah some one reported to the Muhajreen assembled at Masjid-Nabvi that the Ansars had assembled to choose a successor to the Holy Prophet. it was a critical situation. The burial of the Holy Prophet was a matter that needed priority, but the question of choosing a successor to the Holy Prophet was a question of life and death for the Muslim community and if any wrong decision was taken at that stage, the future of Islam was likely to be jeopardized. Umar accordingly prevailed upon Abu Bakr to proceed to Saqifa-i-Bani Sadah to negotiate the matter with the Ansars before it was too late.
When Abu Bakr,