William James said:
“Our handicaps help us to an extent that we never expected. If Dostoyevski and Tolstoy had not lived painful lives, they would not have been capable of writing their ageless journals. So being an orphan, blind, poor, or away from home and comfort are all conditions that may lead you to accomplishment and distinction, to advancement and contribution.”
A poet said:
“Allah can bestow His blessings through trials that are small or large,
And He puts some to trial by giving them of His blessings.” Even children and wealth can be the cause of misery:
So let not their wealth or their children amaze you [O’ Muhammad]; in reality Allah’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of this world… (Qur’an 9: 55)
Upon becoming crippled, Ibn Atheer was afforded the opportunity to complete his two famous books. Jam ‘ey al-Usool and An-Nihayah. As-Sarakhsi wrote his acclaimed book, Al-Mabsoot, all fifteen volumes of it, while being imprisoned at the bottom of a well.
Ibn al-Qayyim wrote Zaad al-Ma’ad while journeying on a riding animal; Al-Qurtubi wrote a commentary on Saheeh Muslim while traveling on a boat; Most of Ibn Taymiyah’s Fataawa was written while he was in jail.
The scholars of hadith gathered hundreds and thousands of ahaadeeth (hadiths): these were people that were poor, people that were strangers to the word `home.’ A righteous person informed me that he was imprisoned for a while, and during the period of his incarceration, he memorized the entire Qur’an and studied forty large volumes on Islamic jurisprudence.
Abu al-‘Ulaa dictated his books to others because he was blind. Taba Hussain lost his sight, and forthwith he began writing his renowned journals and books. Many bright people, upon being removed from their positions or jobs, contributed to the world in knowledge and thought much more than they ever previously did in their lives.
Francis Bacon said that,
“A little philosophy makes one lean towards disbelief, and to delve into philosophy brings the mind closer to religion.”
And these similitudes we put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge [ofAllah and His Signs, etc]. (Qur ‘an 29: 43)
1t is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. (Qur’an 35: 28)
And those who have been bestowed with knowledge and faith will say: `Indeed you have stayed according to the Decree of Allah, until the Day of Resurrection… ‘(Qur’an 30: 56)
Say [to them O’ Muhammad]: `I exhort you on one [thing] only: that you stand up for Allah’s sake in pairs and singly, and reflect [within yourselves the life history of the Prophet], he is only a warner to you in .face of a severe torment. (Qur’an 34: 46)
Dr. A. A. Brill said:
“The true believer will never be afflicted by mental sickness.”
Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger (Muhammad)] and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Beneficent [Allah] will bestow love for them [in the hearts of the believers]. (Qur ‘an 19: 96)
Whoever works righteousness, whether male of female, while he [or she] is a true believer [of Islamic Monotheism] verily, to him we will give a good life [in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision], and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do [i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter]. (Qur’an 16: 97)
And verily, Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the straight path. (Qur’an 22: 54)
Do not be sad – Do good to others
Being of service to others leads to happiness. In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
Verily, Allah will say to His slave as He is taking account of him on the Day of Judgment, `O’ son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me. He will answer, how can I feed you and you are the Lord of the worlds! He will say, did you not know that my slave so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did not feed him. Alas! Had you fed him you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me. O’ son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. He will say, How can I give you drink, and you are the Lord of the worlds! He will say, did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas! If you had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me. O’ son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me. He will say, How can I visit you and you are the Lord of the worlds! He will say, did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas! Had you visited him, you would have found me with him.”
Here is an interesting point; in the last third of the hadith are the words: …you would have found me with him.
This is unlike the first two parts of the hadith: “You would have found that (i.e. the reward for feeding and giving drink) with Me.”
The reason for the difference is that Allah, the All-Merciful, is with those whose hearts are troubled, as is the case with the person who is sick. And in another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
“There is reward in each moist liver (i.e. to do service to any living creature will be rewarded).”
Also, know that Allah admitted the prostitute from the children of Israel into Paradise because she gave a drink to a dog that was thirsty. So what will be the case for the one who feeds other humans, giving them drink and removing from them hardships!
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said,
“Whoever has extra provision should give from it to the one who has no provision. And whoever has an extra mount should give with this extra to the one who has no mount.”
Commanding his servant to search out for guests, Hatim said in some of his more beautiful verses:
“Burn the coals, for truly, the night is chilly,
If you bring me a guest, then I have set you free.” And he said to his wife:
“Whenever you make food, then search
For he who is hungry, as I do not eat alone.”
Ibn Mubarak’s neighbor was a Jew. He would always feed him before feeding his own children and would provide clothing for him first and then for his children. Some people said to the Jew, “Sell us your house.” He answered, “My house is for two thousand dinars. One thousand is for the price of the house and one thousand is for having Ibn Mubarak as a neighbor!” Ibn Mubarak heard of this and he exclaimed, “O’ Allah, guide him to Islam.” Then, by the permission of Allah, he accepted Islam.
On another occasion, Ibn Mubarak passed by a caravan of people who were traveling to make the pilgrimage to Makkah, and he too was on his way to do the same. He saw one of the women from the caravan take a dead crow from a cesspit. He sent his servant to inquire about this and when he asked her, she replied, “We have had nothing for three days except that which finds its way into it.” When Ibn Mubarak heard of this, his eyes swelled with tears. He ordered for all of his provision to be distributed among those of the caravan, and having nothing with which to continue the journey, he returned to his home and gave up making the pilgrimage for that year. Later, he saw someone in a dream saying, “Your pilgrimage has been accepted, as have your rites; and your sins have been forgiven.” Allah says:
And give them preference over themselves, even though they were in need of those themselves. (Qur ‘an 59: 9)
One poet said:
“Even if I am a person who is far,
From his friend in terms of distance,
I offer him my help and wish to alleviate his difficulties, I answer his invitation and his call to me for help, and if he dons a wonderful new outfit I will not say, alas, were I to be blessed with the clothes that he wears.”
By Allah, how wonderful are good manners and a generous soul!
No one regrets having done well even if he was extravagant in doing so. Regret is only for the mistake or for the wrong done, even when that wrong is a minor one.
Always remember Allah
Concerning His remembrance, Allah, the All-Glorious, says:
Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. (Qur’an 13: 28)
Therefore remember me [by praying, glorifying etc.] and I will remember you…
(Qur’an 2: 152)
And the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them. Forgiveness and a Great reward [i.e. Paradise]. (Qur’an 33: 35)
You who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify His Praises morning and afternoon [the early morning (fajr) and ASR prayers. (Qur ‘an 33: 41-42)
You who believe! Let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. (Qur ‘an 63: 9)
Aild remember your Lord when you fbrget… (Qur’an 18: 24)
And glory’s’ the Praises of your Lord when you get up from sleep. And in the night-time also, glorify His Praises, -and at the setting of the stars. (Qur ‘an 52: 48-49)
You who believe! When you meet [an enemy] force, take a firm stand against them and remember the Name of Allah much [both with tongue and mind], so that you may be successful. (Qur’an 8: 45)
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
“The example of one who remembers his Lord in relation to one who does not remember his Lord is that of the living and the dead.”
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) also said:
“The mufarridoon outstrip others.” His Companions asked. “Who are the mufarridoon, O’ Messenger of Allah.” He said, “The men who remember Allah often and the women who remember Allah often.”
And in another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
“Shall I not inform you of the best of deeds, and the purest of them with your Lord? The deed which is better for you than spending gold and silver (for a good cause). And which is better for you than to meet your enemy. And you cut their throats and they cut yours?” They said, “Yes_ O’ Messenger of Allah.” He said, “The remembrance of Allah.”
The following is an authentic hadith:
“A man came to the Prophet and said, Messenger of Allah, the commandments of Islam have become too much for me, and I am old in age; so inform of something that I can adhere to.’ He said, `That your tongue (continually) remains moist with the remembrance of Allah.”‘
UMAR IBN AL-KHATTAB RA
(Life: (approx) 586AD – 644AD)
(Caliphate: 634AD – 644AD)
Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab RA and does not cover all the points of his life story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.
Umar used to say: “What will you say to your Lord later?” – summing up his religion and his method of life.
Ibn Umar asked me about some matters concerning Umar. He said, “Since Allah’s Apostle died, I have never seen anybody more serious, hardworking and generous than Umar bin Al−Khattab (till the end of his life).”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 57 Hadith 36
PRE CONVERSION TO ISLAM
Little is documented about his life prior to his submission to Islam. We know that Umar was born into a respected Quraish family, thirteen years after the Messenger SAW was born. He learnt to read and write whilst still a child, which was rare in Mecca at that time. A merchant by trade, he was widely travelled as a result. He was a large man, it was said that he never walked among a group of men except that he was the tallest amongst them. He was a skilled horseman and was notorious for his fearsome temper. By some accounts, he was left handed, while others report him to be ambidextrous. His swiftness of temper, coupled with his extraordinary strength, made a terrifying and intimidating combination. However, he was also renowned for his strong sense of justice, and time proved that he judged himself harsher than he did anyone else.
Prior to becoming Muslim, he was a sworn enemy of Islam. The idea of Muhammad SAW preaching the Oneness of God in Mecca enraged Umar greatly, as he saw this as a great outrage and insult to the pagan practices of his forefathers. Umar was openly hostile, and even physically violent, to those who embraced Islam. Even when his slave-girl accepted Islam, he beat her on a daily basis until he was exhausted and said “I stopped because I am tired, not out of pity for you”.
EVENTS LEADING UPTO AND INCLUDING CONVERSION
Umar’s acceptance of Islam is perhaps one of the most extraordinary.
As Muhammad’s SAW influence grew, Umar became increasingly resentful. In the sixth year of the revelation, Umar was appointed by a group of Quraish men to kill the Prophet SAW. He set out towards the Prophet SAW, sword in hand, ready to kill him. Enroute he met a friend and when Umar explained what he intended to do, imagine Umar’s horror when his friend said “Why don’t you take care of your own family first and set them right?” It turned out that Umar’s own sister, Fatimah, and her husband, had secretly embraced Islam!
He was so mortified and furious at this news, and went straight to Fatimah’s house where he heard the voice of his brother in law, Khabbab bin Aratt, reciting from the Qur’an. Umar swiftly started assaulting Khabbab, whereupon Fatimah threw herself between Umar and her husband in order to defend the latter. Umar struck her violently, until she was bleeding. Injured as she was, Fatimah defiantly told Umar “O Umar, you can do what you like, but you cannot turn our hearts away from Islam”.
These words had a profound effect on Umar. What was this faith that made weak women so strong of heart? He felt pity for his sister, and his instinctive sense of fairness prevailed. So he asked Fatimah to show him what she was reading, so that he could know for himself what it was the Muhammad SAW had brought.
She refused to give it to him by saying “No, for none but the purified persons [i.e. clean from idolatry] are to touch it. Go and take a bath and get yourself purified”. He did so, returned and Fatimah gave him the Qu’ran.
“Ta-Ha. We have not sent down the Qur´an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress, But only as an admonition to those who fear ((Allah)) …” (Qur’an 20:1-3)
He was astounded. It was as if the Qur’an was addressing him directly! He continued reading, and verse after verse, the light of the Qur’an penetrated his heart with its undeniable truth.
“A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high.(Allah) 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…”
He read verses 1-8 and 14-16 of Surat Taha, and when he was done, his sense of justice could no longer deny the truth of the Message.
Unbeknownst to him, the Prophet SAW had also made a dua for this occasion – reported by Ibn Umar RA, the Messenger of Allah SAW said “O Allah, help Islam with one of the two men that is more beloved to You: Abu Jahl or ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab. And the more beloved of the two to him was Umar.”
Umar kissed the document (it is reported that the verses were written on a piece of leaf) and said “It is not proper that the One Who has sent down these Holy Verses should have a partner to be worshipped with Him. Guide me to the place where Muhammad SAW is present now”.
He then went straight to the house of the Prophet SAW. Once he was admitted in the house, the Prophet SAW asked him for the reason of his visit. Umar replied: “O Messenger of Allah, I have come to you in order to believe in Allah and His Messenger and that which he has brought from his Lord.” Upon hearing this, the Prophet SAW and the Companions shouted with elation “Allahu Akbar” so loudly that it could be heard at the Kabah!
CONTRIBUTIONS TO ISLAM DURING PROPHET’S (PBUH) LIFETIME
Public proclamation of Islam
Umar was the first person to publicly proclaim Islam – he literally went door to door to houses of the inhabitants of Mecca such as Abu Jahl to announce his conversion to Islam. Their reaction was of course of astonishment, hostility and dismay. For example Abu Jahl cursed him and slammed the door in his face! However, Umar’s courage was contagious, and his actions strengthened and boosted the morale of the small community of Muslims, who had until then, been forced to worship in the secrecy of their homes.
Worshipping before the Kabah
Umar was renowned for his outspoken behaviour, and on more than one occasion, questioned the Prophet’s SAW decisions. An illustration of this is when the elation of Umar’s acceptance of Islam had subsided, he asked the Prophet SAW “Aren’t we on the right path here and in the hereafter?” The Prophet SAW replied affirmatively, upon which Umar asked “Why then, do we have to conduct our activities secretly? I swear by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, that we will leave our concealment and proclaim our noble cause publicly.”
Hence, prompted by Umar, the Quraishi witnessed to their alarm the first group of Muslims approaching and worshipping before the Kaabah in broad daylight, a practice which is still followed more than 1,400 years later. This was the incident that gave him the title “Al Farooq” (he who distinguishes truth from falsehood).
With Umar as the physical guardian, the hostile Quraishi were hesitant to attack the Muslims, as Umar was a fearsome enemy and was swift to retaliate.
Migration to Medina
Umar migrated to Medina ahead of the Prophet SAW. Whilst many Muslims were migrating to Medina discreetly, Umar went to the Kabah and announced his migration publicly, threatening “Anyone who wants to make his wife a widow and his children orphans, should come and meet me there behind that cliff.” Umar’s strength and ferocity was such that he was capable of killing a man in a single blow, and he was armed with his sword and his arrows. Not surprisingly, none of the Quraishi dared to stand in his way.
It was not uncommon that whenever a difficult or complicated situation arose, the Prophet SAW would seek the counsel of Umar and Abu Bakr RA. In many instances, Umar and Abu Bakr took divergent views, Umar’s opinion being inclined to being harder than Abu Bakr’s. On more than one occasion, however, Umar’s view was confirmed as the correct one, as affirmed by Allah Himself through the revelations that subsequently guided the Prophet SAW through an issue. This included his view on the innocence of Aisha RA when her reputation and fidelity to Muhammad SAW was cast under severe doubt by the hypocrites.
On the authority of Abdur Rahman bin Ghanam, it was said that the Prophet SAW said to Abu Bakr and Umar that “if you two are agreed upon a counsel, I would not oppose you.”
Umar participated in many of the key Muslim battles and was often the right hand man of the Prophet SAW on the battlefield. He fought keenly in the Battle of Badr, Uhud and the Trench, the Conquest of Mecca, Hunayn and the Siege of Ta’if.
Father-in-law of Muhammad SAW
Umar’s daughter, Hafsa, was widowed at a very young age when her husband was martyred during the Battle of Uhud. Her bereavement upset Umar greatly, but he was also aware that she had inherited his fiery temper. Hence he felt it best for her to be married to a much more mature man of a more sober temperament. He approached Abu Bakr, who evaded the subject, and Uthman RA, who politely declined not least because he was still grieving over the unexpected death of his own wife, Ruqayya, the daughter of the Prophet SAW. Insulted, saddened and enraged, Umar complained to the Prophet SAW, whereupon the Prophet SAW assured him with the following words: “Rest assured, Hafsa will marry a man better than Uthman, and Uthman will marry a lady better than Hafsa.”
It transpired that Muhammad SAW had indicated to Abu Bakr and Uthman that he had intended to take Hafsa as his bride, hence their non-committal replies when approached by Umar. Uthman was then married to the Prophet’s younger daughter, Umm Kulsum.
With this marriage, Umar’s status was brought at par with Abu Bakr’s, and both of them enjoyed the honour of being the Prophet’s SAW father-in-law.
Respect of Allah
Umar had such a deep respect for Allah that he was always very humble and filled with humility. It was his fear of the question of “what will you say to your Lord” that motivated all his actions. Hence he spent the rest of his life trying to atone for his persecution of the Muslims prior to accepting Islam himself.
Umar was only concerned about being saved from the fire of Hell and once said that all his good deeds not be recorded for him provided that he be saved from hell as neither having any extra good nor bearing any evil. Even when he was given glad tidings that he would be admitted into Paradise, he remained in awe and full of respect of Allah. He had always been a hard and severe person, but it was on himself that he was the hardest.
He always saw how the Messenger SAW spent his nights in prayer, some days in fasting and in fighting for Allah even though he knew that Allah had forgiven all his sins. He once asked the Prophet (PBUH) why he was doing all this. The Prophet SAW answered “Then, should I not be a thankful servant of Allah?”
THE CALIPHATE RULE
We shall not go into the political detail surrounding Umar’s appointment as the second of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. However, as Abu Bakr lay on his deathbed, it was general consensus that Umar was the fittest person to be appointed as the next Caliph. There were however, some reservations on account of Umar’s colourful temper, in that he would not be able to display the moderation necessary to lead the Ummah. Abu Bakr observed that Umar’s display of severity was meant to counteract his leniency, and felt confident that Umar would be more restrained in his opinions if the responsibility of government fell on his shoulders.
One of His Earliest Speeches
The following are excerpts from his inaugural speech:
“The mantle of Caliphate has fallen on my shoulders. I swear it before God that I never coveted this office. I wished that it would have devolved on some other person more worthy than me …
In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Holy Book, and will follow the examples set by the Holy Prophet SAW and Abu Bakr. In this task, I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.
Now brothers I offer a few prayers and you say Ameen to them.
O Allah, I am hard, make me soft to promote the Truth, to comply with your injunctions and to aspire for a better life in world hereafter…O Allah, soften my heart for the faithful so that I attend to their needs with a sense of dedication…O Allah give me the power of self-criticism and self-assessment …”
Such was the shining display of humility by Umar before his people. To him, leadership was a huge responsibility to be shunned rather than sought. The speech also displayed his deep inner reflection of his personal shortcomings, which he openly admitted to the people he was leading.
When he assumed office, Umar realised that he was more feared than loved. Children who had before approached Abu Bakr and addressed his as “Father”, ran away from Umar in fear. In the first Friday sermon after he was appointed the Caliph, he appealed to the congregation, explaining that during the lives of the Prophet SAW and Abu Bakr, he assumed upon himself the role of counterbalancing their softness. He went on to say:
“O people, you have some rights on me which you can always claim. One of your rights is that if anyone of you comes to me with a claim, he should leave satisfied. Another of your rights is that you can demand that I take nothing unjustly from the revenues of the State. You can also demand that I fortify your frontiers and do not put you in danger. It is also your right that if you go to battle I should look after your families as a father would do while you are away.
O people, remain conscious of Allah, forgive me my faults and help me in my task. Assist me in enforcing what is good and forbidding what is evil. Advise me regarding the obligations that have been imposed upon me by Allah.”
And he spent the rest of his life trying to fulfil his pledge to his people.
Creation of Government
Umar created a unitary government to rule the entire empire. For each province, a governor was appointed by Umar. The appointee was usually someone who did not crave the position. He organised a group with responsibilities for revenue, military, security, treasury, his office and the chief judge.
He used to give the following general order to his governors in discharging their leadership duties:
“Remember, I have not appointed you as commanders and tyrants over the people. I have sent you as leaders instead, so that the people may follow your example. Give the Muslims their rights and do not beat them lest they become abused. Do not praise them unduly, lest they fall into the error of conceit. Do not keep your doors shut in their faces, lest the more powerful of them eat up the weaker ones. And do not behave as if you were superior to them, for that is tyranny over them.”
The Great Famine
638AD was one of the most difficult times during Umar’s rule. The famine spread far and wide throughout Arabia. He organised for rations to come in from Syria, Palestine and Iraq. Once the rations arrived in Medina, he sent his people to re-route the food caravans to go deeper into Arabia to bring food to the people. For people who were displaced and had come to Medina for help, Umar hosted a dinner every night for everyone. Some accounts said that there were over 100,000 people at the dinners.
The Great Plague
639AD was another difficult time. Just as the famine was ending a great plague was spreading in Syria and Palestine. When the plague was over, Umar went to Syria to re-organise the administration as so many of the governors had died from plague.
It is impossible to categorise Umar’s rule in a few short pages, but the following are other examples of Umar’s outstanding leadership have been recorded:
• Once a woman brought a claim against Umar. When Umar appeared on trial before the judge, the judge stood up as a sign of respect. Umar reprimanded him saying “This is the first act of injustice you did to this woman”.
• Umar insisted that his governors live simple and austere lives, keep no guard at their door and be accessible to the people at all times. He himself set the example for them.
• Many times foreigners found him resting under a tree or praying in the mosque among the people. It was difficult for them to distinguish which man was the Caliph. He used to go about at night in the streets of Medina to see if people needed help or assistance.
• Once, he was delayed in attending Friday prayers once because he had washed his shirt and had to wait for it to dry because he had no other shirt. Can you imagine any other leader of a nation who was so frugal on himself and so afraid to misuse public funds, that he only has one garment in his possession?
• When receiving a gift of sweets from his governor in Azerbaijan, he inquired if all the people there ate the sweet. The answer was that it was reserved for the elite of the society. Umar then made the following order to the governor “Do not satisfy yourself from any kind of food until all the Muslims eat their fill from it before you”.
• He once stood guard in the night with a companion to watch over some travellers. A baby was crying but the mother was unable to make it stop. Umar asked what was wrong. She said that the baby refuses to wean. He asked why she would want to wean her baby who was still young. She replied without knowing who he was that “Umar only prescribes a share of the Treasury for the weaned ones”. Umar was devastated at hearing this statement. At dawn prayer, his voice was almost incomprehensible from his weeping. Umar felt himself having wronged those babies who may have died from being weaned too early. He then ordered that a share of the Treasury be prescribed for every Muslim child from birth.
• Umar kept his family’s activities under tight scrutiny in case they are seen to be abusing their status because of their relationship to Umar. Even when what they did was legal, he was still angered, and if they benefited financially, even if indirectly, he forbade from retaining such financial gains.
• Umar had a precept: “If any of you saw any of your brothers committing a slip, you should (screen him and) help him. You should ask Allah to repent on him and you should not assist Satan against him”. This would prevent back-biting and gossiping – two of the most common sins.
Hence, the short examples above hopefully give some colour on the outstanding leadership qualities Umar displayed throughout his rule. He constantly merciful, caring, principled, thoughtful and God fearing. Here was a man who was so worried of displaying the smallest injustice, the smallest suspicion, the smallest oppression all because he was preparing himself to answer the question “What will you say to your Lord later?”.
Umar was violently stabbed six times at the time of the morning prayer by a Persian slave named Firoz. Unconscious and bleeding profusely, was then carried home. When he regained consciousness, he asked who his murderer was. When told, he said “Praise be to God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim.”
Knowing that his death was imminent, he asked his son Abdullah RA to beg Aisha’s permission for his burial by the side of Muhammad SAW and Abu Bakr. Aisha RA wept as she came to know that Umar was on his deathbed. She said “I had reserved this place for my own burial, but I give Umar precedence over myself. Let him be buried there.”
When Umar was told of this, he said, “God bless Aisha. She has fulfilled my greatest wish. Now I can die in peace.”
Even in the final leg of his life, he was still concerned about the Ummah. Here was a man who had beaten a slave girl for her acceptance of Islam only to become a Caliph and one of the greatest Muslims that ever lived. He is a shining example of how Allah is the owner of the hearts, for the same man who set out with sword in hand to kill the Prophet SAW, now lays buried beside him in Medina.
Bukhari carries a tradition according to which the Prophet SAW said that there was to be no prophet after him, but if there were to be no bar to such prophethood, Umar would have been the prophet. That was the highest accolade that the Prophet SAW could have paid to Umar.
When reading about the Companions, it is recommended to say “O Allah, bear witness I love them for You. Make me live according to the noble example. Make me imitate them and if I cannot reach please make me resurrected with them.”
May Allah be pleased with Umar ibn Khattab and all the Companions, Ameen.
Most of the information for this work has been obtained from:
“The Successors of the Messenger (Allah’s Blessing and Peace be upon Him)” authored by Khalid Muhammad Khalid (and translated into English by Muhammad Mahdi Al-Sharif)
“The Sealed Nectar” by Shaikh Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri/Abdul Malik Mujahid
“Men and Women Around the Messenger” by Sa’d Yusuf Abu ‘Aziz
“Four Rightly Guided Caliphs” – Al Khawarizmi compilation
And [mention] Ishmael and Idris and Dhul-Kifl; all were of the patient. And We admitted them into Our mercy. Indeed, they were of the righteous. (Qur’an 31:85-86)
And mention in the Book, Idris. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet. And We raised him to a high station. Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favour from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping. (Qur’an 19:56-58)
Who was the Prophet Idris AS? No one knows with certainty since these 2 passages are the only references to him in the entire Qur’an, he had not been positively identified.
Allah has praised Idris AS in the verses above and described him as a prophet and truthful. Our Prophets’ ancestral line meets him as many of the genealogists mentioned it. Muslim commentators say that Idris AS was deeply devoted to his Lord’s worship and law; in fact his name means “one who studies or teaches”.
After Adam and Shiith, Idris was the first man to be sent as Prophet, peace be upon them all.
Although nothing is mentioned in the Qur’an concerning the life of Idris AS, Prophet Muhammad SAW spoke of him to his Companion, Abu Dharr RA saying,
“Four – that is, messengers – were Syrians; Adam, Shiith, Nuh, and Idris, who was the first to write with a pen. Allah revealed 3 scrolls to him.” (Tabari)
Ibn Khathir adds that Idris AS was constantly occupied with the remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and that the number of his good deeds was equal to the number of good deeds of all the people on earth during his time. Ibn Khathir mentions that Idris AS worked as a tailor, and that with each stitch he would say, “SubhanAllah”.
According to some traditions, the words “We raised him to a high station” (Qur’an 19:57), cited in the verses above, imply that Allah raised Idris AS to Himself without his experiencing death, but only Allah knows the truth. However, it is mentioned in hadith that when Prophet Muhammad SAW ascended during the blessed Miraj, he met all the earlier prophets face to face, and Idris AS was one of them. (Bukhari) May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon all of them.
After Idris AS, his son and successor Mehthusaleh continued in Allah’s path, calling His servants to him; his lifespan is said to have been 919 years. Methusaleh’s son Lamaq succeeded him and lived 780 years.
It is said that although all these righteous descendants of Adam AS forbade their people to go among the corrupted descendants of Qabil, their advice was not heeded. As time passed, almost all the people on the mountain went down and began to live among Qabil’s descendants, adopting their evil ways and forgetting the honourable way, upright way of their grandfather Adam AS and his righteous successors.
Then a son was born to Lamaq who was named Nuh. As the first major prophet after Adam AS, he was to have a grave impact on the future of mankind.
Acknowledgement: Most of the information for this work has been obtained from: “A History of the Prophets of Islam”, Volume I, by Suzanne Haneef “Stories of the Prophets”, by Ibn Kathir (Translation by Rashad Ahmad Azami)
Part I of this beautiful story took us from the creation of Adam AS to creation of Hawwa as his companion. Let’s now follow them into the Garden of Paradise, through the dramatic turn that their lives are about to take, unknown to them, through their journey on Earth. Read more…
In approaching Adam’s AS story, it is important to keep in mind that his story begins in the spiritual world, in the timeless, spaceless realm of Allah and His angels. And While Adam AS is obviously the most important character in his own story, there is another character who is also of great importance, Iblees or Shaytan, the arch-villain. Adam’s AS story is a history of our species. He is both the first man and ancestor of the human race. At a deeper level, his story is also a subtle allegory concerning mankind and the human condition, both before and after the Fall. We hope this summary of his story serves to give us a deeper insight of our true origin, nature and identity, so that we can know who we truly are and where we belong in the divine scheme of things.
THE CREATION OF PROPHET ADAM
Before the creation of mortals, Almighty Allah directed all the angels to assemble. Thousands upon thousands of angels (created from light) and Jinns (created from fire) gathered in groups. They bowed respectfully in the presence of Almighty Allah. The Creator of the universe declared that he intended to create Man. And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” (Qur’an 2:30) [So mention] when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I am going to create a human being from clay. (Qur’an 38:71) The angels and Azazil or Iblees (Shaytan) reacted with surprise and concern. They quickly pointed out that human beings would cause disorder on the earth. They would make mischief and shed blood indiscriminately.
The Qur’an gives a description of this event in the following verses:
They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” (Qur’an 2:30)
Allah, the Subtle, the All-Aware, knew with perfect knowledge that the angels neither intended to contradict Him nor express enmity towards His new creation. Rather, out of their boundless love for Him and protectiveness of His sanctity and majesty, they were simply asking to be informed about what they did not understand. Hence, Allah Most High, was not angry, but merely said to them,
“Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” (Qur’an 2:30) In a hadith, Prophet Muhammad SAW said, Allah created Adam from a handful of clay which He took from the whole of the earth; so the children of Adam are in accordance with the earth, some red, some white some black, some a mixture, also smooth and rough, bad and good. (Mishkat) And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “I will create a human being out of clay from an altered black mud. (Qur’an 15:28)
The clay was brought to Allah at His command by the Angel of Death and from this clay Allah created the first human being, Adam. Adam AS, the first prophet, the father of all mankind. Several hadith mention the day on which Adam AS was created.
The best day on which the sun has risen is Friday. On it, Adam was created and on it he was made to enter Paradise on it he was cast out of it. And the Last Hour will not take place on any day other than Friday. (Muslim)
And what more blessed day for the most perfect and developed of Allah’s creations! Describing the creation of Adam AS, Prophet Muhammad SAW said,
Allah created Adam AS in his finished form and his height was sixty cubits (about 41 meters or 126 feet)…. Therefore, all who enter Paradise will be of the form of Adam, and the people have not stopped decreasing in stature up to the present. (Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad SAW also said,
When Allah had fashioned Adam in Paradise, He left him as he willed to leave him. Then Iblees went around him to see what he was. And when he found him hollow, he recognised he has been created with an uncontrolled disposition. (Muslim)
Allah then breathed life into His creation. The breath came from the front of Adam’s head, narrated Ibn Abbas RA, and everything that flowed from it within his body became flesh and blood. [So mention] when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I am going to create a human being from clay. So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My [created] soul, then fall down to him in prostration.” (Qur’an 38:71-72)
Prophet Muhammad SAW informs us, as recorded in Mishkat, when the breath in Adam’s AS body was complete, he sneezed and by divine inspiration he said, “Alhamdu lil Lahi Rabbil Alamin (All praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds), words which became the opening verses of the Holy Qur’an. Thus Adam AS praised Allah by His own permission. And Allah replied to him, “Yarhamak-Allah, Adam (may Allah have mercy on you).” The Prophet SAW further said that when Allah created Adam, He to him, “Go and greet that group of seated angels and then listen to what they will greet you with, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your descendants.” So Adam said to the angels, “As-salamu ‘alaikum (peace be upon you all),” to which they replied, “As-salamu ‘alaika wa rahmat-Allah (peace be upon you, and Allah’s mercy).” (Bukhari)
ADAM IS TAUGHT THE NAMES
And He taught Adam the names – all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, “Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful.” (Qur’an 2:31)
Allah taught Adam the names of all things and inculcated into his mind the knowledge of their properties. What were these names that Allah taught Adam AS? There are various interpretations of this by Qur’an commentators. Some affirm that Adam was taught the names of angels, others say that the names were names of his own descendants, and others say that the names were holy names of Allah Himself, by which Adam AS was granted knowledge of his Lord. Majority agree that the names taught to Adam were the names of all things living and non-living. Allah’s words, “Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful” according to most interpretations, refer to the truthfulness of the angels’ claim of possessing knowledge that their Lord’s new creation would cause corruption and shed blood on earth, and that they themselves, as the most obedient and worshipful among his creations, were the most deserving of filling the role of His khalifah. Allah was making clear to the angels that Adam AS possessed certain characteristics and knowledge which they themselves did not possess, and that because of this, he would have a very different role and destiny from theirs. Allah most High, informed the angels that He was aware of their reservations, at the same time reminding them of the limitations of their knowledge, while assuring them that, according to His infinite knowledge and wisdom, the creation of Adam was entirely good, right and proper.
The angels then understood Allah’s wisdom and voiced their submission to His Glory:
“Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.” (Qur’an 2:32) Allah then addressed His new creation. He said, “O Adam, inform them of their names.” And when he had informed them of their names, (Qur’an 2:33)
And then Adam AS did so. From the special knowledge Allah had granted him, he told the angels the names of the things that Allah had presented to them, names which the angels themselves did not know. And when Adam AS had finished, Allah Almighty again addressed the angels,
“Did I not tell you that I know the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.” (Qur’an 2:33)
In a broader sense, this may refer to Allah’s perfect knowledge, which the angels were not privy to, of the final destiny of His creation, in which Adam and his descendants would play a major role.
THE COMMAND TO HONOUR ADAM
Allah asked all the angels to bow as a mark of respect to Adam who was created so miraculously. The order to prostrate was obviously not so that the angels would worship Adam AS, for no one may be worshipped except Allah, the Creator of all things. Rather, the prostration was a mark of respect to the one whom their Lord in His infinite wisdom had created in a special manner who as a result would have a special destiny, as the father of mankind who carried within himself the seeds of all his descendants to come.
And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated. (Qur’an 7:11)
And when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My [created] soul, then fall down to him in prostration.” So the angels prostrated – all of them entirely, Except Iblees, he refused to be with those who prostrated. (Qur’an 15:29-31)
When Allah Most High, the All-Powerful, the Glorious, the Majestic, had given this order, all those who heard it, obeyed without question except one among them – Iblees. When this occurred, the previously unsuspecting angels became aware of had been concealed in Iblees’ heart. The arrogant, stubborn, proud Iblees who thought his being as Jinn made of fire was far superior to Allah’s creation from clay. Allah in his divine Mercy, gave Iblees a hearing for his blatant rebellion. Instead of showing remorse, the wretched Iblees attempted to justify his disobedience and shamelessly said,
“Never would I prostrate to a human whom You created out of clay from an altered black mud.” (15:33) “Should I prostrate to one You created from clay?” (Qur’an 17:62)
“Do You see this one whom You have honoured above me? If You delay me until the Day of Resurrection, I will surely destroy his descendants, except for a few.” (Qur’an 17:63)
Allah then condemned Iblees and banished him from Paradise.
Allah said, “Then get out of it, for indeed, you are expelled. And indeed, upon you is the curse until the Day of Recompense.” (Qur’an 15:34-35)
“Get out of Paradise, reproached and expelled. Whoever follows you among them – I will surely fill Hell with you, all together.” (Qur’an 7:18)
The arrogant Iblees, not to be outdone, goes on unabashedly, challenging Allah that as he had been let to fall into error, he would make evil and disobedience attractive for those on earth and mislead all mankind.
“Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. (Qur’an 7:16)
“By your might, I will surely mislead them all, Except, among them, Your chosen servants.” (Qur’an 38:82-83) A
llah in all His powerful grace, declares, This is a path [of return] to Me [that is] straight. Indeed, My servants – no authority will you have over them, except those who follow you of the deviators. And indeed, Hell is the promised place for them all. (Qur’an 15:41-43)
But Iblees being Iblees, is not moved at all by the prospects of Hell, inflamed and determined to destroy the race of the one on whose account he had gone astray. The transition from a devoted worshipper and teacher of the angels, excelling in divine knowledge and the praise of his Lord, to the abased, accursed Tempter of mankind was now complete. Stripped of all the high honours, Iblees stands accursed, outlawed, and now known as Shaytan, leader of the forces of evil whose sole purpose is to entice and incite Allah’s slaves to wrong-doing and disobedience to Him.
With that, Iblees was cast out of Paradise, an abode filled with blessings and favours beyond imagination. Our forefather Adam AS was settled in Paradise, with everything he could desire, every kind of pure pleasure and wholesome satisfaction was his. No hunger or thirst, fatigue or boredom, cold or heat, just comfort and pleasure. No burdens or responsibilities, no sufferings, pain or sadness. In Ibn Abbas’ narrations, Adam AS fell asleep in Paradise. And when he woke, he found a woman, whom Allah had created from his rib, sitting beside his head.
It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. (Qur’an 7:189)
To test the extent of Adam’s AS knowledge, the angels asked him, “What is her name, O Adam?” “Hawwa,” he replied “Why is she called Hawwa?” the angels asked “Because she was created from something living (hayy),” Adam AS replied, meaning that she been created from his own living self. And thus Adam and Hawwa began their life together in the blessed Garden, like innocent new‑borns, they knew nothing of evil or sin. They hadn’t the slightest idea of what lay ahead, that their Lord would soon be testing them and that their lives would change dramatically.
In Part II of Adam’s AS story, we will follow them into Paradise, where they will fall prey to Shaytan’s evil connivery in tasting from the Forbidden Tree, their subsequent banishment from Paradise to Earth, their lives together on Earth, their first descendants, their sons Qabil (Cane) and Habil (Abel) and the first bloodshed, concluding this amazing journey with Adam’s AS death.
Acknowledgement: Most of the information for this work has been obtained from:
“A History of the Prophets of Islam”, Volume I, by Suzanne Haneef
“Stories of the Prophets”, by Ibn Kathir (Translation by Rashad Ahmad Azami)
Prophet Ibrahim AS is one of the greatest Prophets and the father of us all. He is described by Allah as being an Ummah (Qur’an 16:120-123). Muslims, Jews and Christians all trace roots back to him. Ibrahim AS is mentioned in our prayers, at least 5 times a day, such an honoured position has he, and he was described as Khalil-ullah – the Friend of Allah SWT (Qur’an 4:125). In Islam, Ibrahim AS is seen as a strict monotheist who calls his people to the worship Allah. For this belief, he bears great hardships, even disassociating himself with his family and people through migration to various lands. He is one who fulfills various commandments of Allah though which he is tested, proving true to each one.
Due to this strength of faith, the Qur’an attributes the one and only true religion to be the “Path of Ibrahim”, even though prophets before him, such as Nuh, called to the same faith.
From Ibrahim’s AS two sons lie the lineage of the Muslims and the Jews. Due to the excellence of Ibrahim AS, Allah made prophets from his progeny, from them Ismail, Ishaq, Yaakub and Musa, guiding people to the truth.
Many Qur’anic verses revealed concerning him suggest that his outstanding importance and high rank among prophets was because of the purity and sincerity of his relationship with his Lord, to whom he totally surrendered his will. It is essential that Muslims know of the story of Prophet Ibrahim AS as much of Islam refers to him.
The greatness of Ibrahim’s AS standing with Allah is confirmed in a number of hadiths. The Holy Prophet SAW referred to him as “the best of creation” (Muslim) and mentioned him as one of the prophets whose intercession the believers would seek on the Day of Judgement (Bukhari). Prophet Muhammad SAW also reported meeting Ibrahim AS in one of the heavens during the Night Journey Me’raj, saying that he found Ibrahim AS seated in al-Bait Al-Ma’mur, the Populated House, in which 70,000 angels pray in successive groups never to return to it again (Bukhari, Mishkat).
HONOURS AND FAVOURS GRANTED TO IBRAHIM AS
- He was singled out as the exemplar of al-dina hanifa, the path of belief and worship of Allah and His absolute attributes (Qur’an 3:67).
- Allah chose him to be His close friend, one of the most impressive indications of Ibrahim’s AS high rank (Qur’an 4:125).
- He ranks among the five greatest prophets, ulu-l-azm, with Nuh, Musa, Isa and Muhammad, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all (Qur’an 42:13; 33:7).
- Due to the depth of his faith, Allah made Ibrahim AS one of the greatest religious figures of all times, according to His promise (Qur’an 2:124).
- Allah answered Ibrahim’s AS prayer, “My Lord, grant me authority and join me with the righteous. And grant me a reputation of honour among later generations.” (Qur’an 26:83-84), by granting him the highest honour and repute among all the generations of believers who came after him. The followers of all three monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, deeply revere Ibrahim AS.
- Allah answered his prayer for a son from among the righteous (Qur’an 37:100) by granting him Ishaq as well as Ismail AS. Ismail AS was also a prophet from whose line of descent came the last and greatest of prophets, Muhammad SAW.
- Ibrahim’s AS prayer for the people of Mecca, (Qur’an 2:129) was also fulfilled through Muhammad SAW. His prayers for Mecca and its inhabitants (Qur’an 14:35-41) was similarly answered.
- Allah revealed to him a sacred scripture, mentioned in (Qur’an 87:18-19). No trace of the scripture remains. However it is mentioned in hadith.
- Ibrahim AS was granted the honour of establishing many of the basic practices of Islam prior to Muhammad’s SAW time, which were later followed by Prophet Muhammad SAW and which continue to be followed by Muslims up to today.
- Allah further honoured Ibrahim AS by ordaining that Muslims recall him and important events in his life in the rites of the pilgrimage Hajj and Umrah. Connected with this is also the commemoration of Ibrahim’s AS sacrifice of his son during Eid-ul-Adha.
- All the prophets mentioned in the Qur’an who lived after Ibrahim’s AS time were his descendants.
Let’s now begin an exciting, eventful journey through the life of the Friend of Allah, Prophet Ibrahim, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
THE PEOPLE OF IBRAHIM AS
Ur, which is now part of southern Iraq, according to tradition is the place where Ibrahim AS began his mission as a prophet. In his time, the city of Ur was a flourishing industrial and business centre. The people who lived there were a community of idol-worshippers, ruled by a proud, tyrannical king Nimrud. It is said he was one of the four greatest kings of ancient times amongst prophet-king Sulaiman AS, Dhul-Qarnain and Nebuchadnezzar. In addition to being the supreme ruler, Nimrud had established himself as a god who was worshipped by his people, together with their other gods.
THE BEGINNING OF IBRAHIM’S AS LIFE
It said by Qur’anic narrators that before Ibrahim’s AS birth, a star appeared, of such shimmering brightness that it outshone the sun and moon. This frightened the king and he called his magicians and astrologers to ask them the meaning of this occurrence.
They replied that a man would arise in his territory who was destined to destroy him and his rule. Hearing this, Nimrud left and moved to another town, compelling everyone to move with him and ordering the killing of any boy to be born to them.
Ibrahim’s AS father Azar placed his pregnant wife in cave, fearing for his unborn.
After a while, when the soothsayers’ prophecies were not fulfilled, Nimrud decided that they had been merely lies of the magicians. He ordered his people to return home and soon forgot about the matter.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim AS was born in the cave, where he spent his early years. He grew up quickly, without seeing any human beings besides his parents.
When Azar was assured that there was nothing to fear from the king, he went to the cave and took his boy out. It is said that Ibrahim AS was about 10 years old at that time.
ENLIGHTMENT AND PROPHETHOOD
Azar was an idol-worshipper and thus would have taught Ibrahim AS about the religion of deities and temples. At a time of life when other children are occupied with childish pursuits, Ibrahim AS had already concluded about the idols his people worshipped. It is also suggested that he may already have begun to discuss and debate the matter with his father Azar, as suggested in the Qur’an 6:74.
When night fell, he saw a star and exclaimed it to be his Lord (Qur’an 6:76) and likewise when he saw the moon rising (Qur’an 6:67). But the star and the moon set and Ibrahim AS reconsidered the matter. A disappearing object could not be his Lord or the Lord of anything else. And with the innate understanding of his pure fitrah, he turned to the true Lord for enlightenment asking for guidance and not to stray (Qur’an 6:77).
When day dawned and he saw the sun rising, he claimed the sun to be his Lord but then the sun too set (Qur’an 6:78).
Thus Ibrahim AS concluded that his people, with their worship of heavenly bodies and images made by their own hands, were in the gravest error and confusion. There could be no God except the Creator all things including those heavenly bodies which were the greatest of all material objects and which his people unthinkingly worshipped in place of the One who had created them.
Ibrahim’s AS heart was now firmly fixed upon his Lord with deep certainty. The heart of the young prophet-to-be was guided and illuminated by his Lord, expanded and deepened, as Allah revealed to him the secrets of His divine Essence, the mysteries of creation, and the great, all-wise workings of His Will (Qur’an 6:75).
Consequently, Ibrahim AS came to his Lord with a sound heart, free of any trace of doubt or questioning. He surrendered with deep and absolute faith to Allah at the command of the Lord of the worlds.
Ibrahim AS made a request of his Lord. The deep loving familiarity between him and his Lord is shown in his manner of making the request.
“My Lord,” Ibrahim AS said humbly, “show me how You give life to the dead” (Qur’an 2:260).
“Do you not have faith?”, came the response (Qur’an 2:260)
“Yes,” Ibrahim AS replied firmly, “but my heart may be satisfied” (Qur’an 2:260)
Then Allah most Gracious gave Ibrahim the answer.
“Then take four birds and make them attached to you,” Allah instructed the young prophet. “Then put part of them on each hill and call them. They will come to you quickly. And know that Allah is Almighty and Wise” (Qur’an 2:260) Read more…
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