The Conversion of Umar bin Al-Khattab:
Umar, obviously, was the one who merited that privilege.
Another significant addition to the strength of Islam was the conversion
of Umar bin Al-Khattab in
Dhul-Hijjah, the sixth year of Prophethood, three days following the
conversion of Hamzah.
a man of dauntless courage and resolution, feared and respected in Makkah,
and hitherto a bitter
opponent of the new religion. The traditional account reveals that the
once raised his hands in prayer and said:
"O Allah! Give strength to Islam especially through either of two men you
Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham."
When we scrutinize the several versions that speak of Umar's conversion, we
can safely conclude
that various contradictory emotions used to conflict with one another
within his soul. On the one
hand, he used to highly regard the traditions of his people, and was
habituated to the practice of
indulgence in wine orgies; on the other hand, he greatly admired the
stamina of the Muslims and their
relentless dedication to their faith.
These two extreme views created a
sort of skepticism in his mind
and made him at times tend to believe that the doctrines of Islam could
bear better and more sacred
seeds of life, that is why he would always experience fits of outrage
directly followed by unexpected
enervation. On the whole, the account of his conversion is very
interesting and requires us to go into
One day, Umar bin Al-Khattab set out from his house, and headed for the
Holy Sanctuary where he
saw the Prophet (s) offering prayer and overheard him reciting the Surah
Al-Haqqah (Chapter 69 -- The Reality) of the Noble Quran. The Words of Allah
appealed to him
and touched the innermost cells of his heart. He felt that they derived
from unusual composition, and
he began to question his people's allegations as regards the man-composed
poetry or words of a
soothsayer that they used to attach to the Noble Quran. The Prophet (s)
"That this is verily the word of an honoured Messenger (i.e.
Gabriel or Muhammad (s)
which he has brought from Allah). It is not the word of a
poet, little is
that you believe! Nor is it the word of a soothsayer (or a
foreteller), little is that you
remember! This is the Revelation sent down from the Lord of the
jinns and all that exists)." [69:40-43]
At that very moment, Islam permeated his heart. However, the dark layer
of pre-Islamic tendencies,
the deep-seated traditional bigotry as well as the blind pride in his
forefathers overshadowed the
essence of the great Truth that began to feel its way reluctantly into his
heart. He, therefore, persisted
in his atrocities against Islam and its adherents unmindful of the pure
and true-to-man's nature feeling
that lay behind that fragile cover of pre-Islamic ignorance and mentality.
His sharp temper and
excessive enmity towards the Prophet (s) led him one day to leave his
sword in hand, with the intention of killing the Prophet (s). He was in a
anger and was fretting and fuming. Nu'aim bin 'Abdullah, a friend of Umars,
met him accidentally
half way. What had caused so much excitement in him and on whom was the
fury to burst, he
Umar said furiously: "To destroy the man Muhammad (s)
apostate, who has shattered the unity of Quraish, picked holes in their
religion, found folly with their
wise men and blasphemed their gods."
"Umar, I am sure, your soul has
deceived you, do you think
that Banu Abd Munaf would let you walk on earth if you slain Muhammad (s) ?
Why dont you take care of your own family first and set them right?"
"Which of the folk of my house?" asked Umar angrily.
and your sister have
apostatized (meaning to say: They have become followers of Muhammad (s))
abandoned your religion."
Umar directed his footsteps to his sisters house. As he drew near, he
heard the voice of Khabbab
bin Aratt, who was reading the Quranic Chapter Ta-Ha (mystic letters, T. H.)
to both of them.
Khabbab, perceiving the noise of his footsteps retired to a closet.
Fatimah, Umar's sister, took hold
of the leaf and hid it. But Umar had already heard the voice. "What sound
was that I have heard just
now?" shouted the son of Khattab, entering angrily. Both his sister and
her husband replied, "You
"Nay," said he swearing fiercely, "I have heard that you
have apostatized." He
plunged forward towards his brother-in-law and beat him severely, but
Fatimah rushed to the rescue
of her husband. Thereupon, Umar fell upon his sister and struck upon her
head. The husband and
wife could not contain themselves and cried aloud: "Yes, we are Muslims,
we believe in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (s) so do what you will." When Umar saw the face
of his dear sister besmeared with blood, he was softened and said: "Let me
see what you were
reading, so that I may see what Muhammad (s) has brought." Fatimah was
satisfied with the assurance, but said: "O brother, you are unclean on
account of your idolatry, none
but the pure may touch it. So go and wash first." He did so, and took the
page and read the opening
verses of the Chapter Ta-Ha until he reached:
"Verily! I am Allah! La ilaha illa Ana (none has the right to be
worshipped but I), so
worship Me and offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), for My
Umar read the verses with great interest and was much entranced with them.
"How excellent it is,
and how graceful! Please guide me to Muhammad (s)." said he. And when he
heard that, Khabbab came out of concealment and said, "O Umar, I hope that
Allah has answered
the prayer of the Prophet, for I heard him say: O Allah! Strengthen
through either Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham." Umar then left
for a house in Safa
where Muhammad had been holding secret meetings along with his
Companions. Umar reached that place with the sword swinging by his arm. He
knocked at the
door. The Companions of the Prophet turned to see who the intruder
One of them peeped through a chink in the door and reeled back exclaiming:
"It is Umar with his
sword." Hamzah, dispelling the fears of his friends, said: "Let him in. As
a friend he is welcome. As a
foe, he will have his head cut off with his own sword." The Prophet
Companions to open the door. In came the son of Khattab. The Prophet
advanced to receive the dreadful visitor, caught him by his garment and
scabbard, and asked him the
reason of his visit. At that Umar replied: "O Messenger of Allah , I
you in order to believe in Allah and his Messenger and that which he has
brought from his Lord."
Filled with delight, Muhammad together with his Companions, cried
Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great).
The conversion of Umar was a real triumph for the cause of Islam. So great
and instant was the
effect of his conversion on the situation that the believers who had
hitherto worshipped Allah within
their four walls in secret now assembled and performed their rites of
worship openly in the Holy
Sanctuary itself. This raised their spirits, and dread and uneasiness
began to seize Quraish.
Ibn Ishaq narrated on the authority of Umar (ra), "When I embraced Islam, I
remembered the archenemy of Muhammad (s), i.e. Abu Jahl. I set out, and
knocked at his door. When he came out to see me, I told him directly that
I had embraced Islam. He
immediately slammed the door repulsively denouncing my move as infamous
and my face as ugly." In
fact, Umar's conversion created a great deal of stir in Makkah that some
people denounced him as
an apostate, yet he would never waver in Faith, on the contrary, he
persisted in his stance even at the
peril of his life. The polytheists of Quraish marched towards his house
with the intention of killing him.
Abdullah bin Umar (ra) narrated: While Umar was at home in a state of fear,
came Al-'As bin Wa'il As-Sahmy Abu 'Amr, wearing an embroidered cloak and a
shirt having silk
hems. He was from the tribe of Bani Sahm who were our allies during the
pre-Islamic period of
ignorance. Al-As said to Umar: Whats wrong with you? He said: Your people
claim that they will
kill me if I become a Muslim. Al-'As said: Nobody will harm you after I
have given protection to
you. So Al-As went out and met the people streaming in the whole valley.
He said: Where are you
going? They replied: We want son of Al-Khattab who has embraced Islam.
Al-As said: There is no
way for anybody to touch him. So the people retreated.
With respect to the Muslims in Makkah, Umars conversion had a different
Mujahid, on the authority of Ibn Al-Abbas (ra) , related that he had asked
Al-Khattab why he had been given the epithet of Al-Farouque (he who
distinguishes truth from
falsehood), he replied: After I had embraced Islam, I asked the Prophet
'Arent we on the right path here and Hereafter?' The Prophet (s) answered:
course you are! I swear by Allah in Whose Hand my soul is, that you are
right in this world and in the
hereafter.' I, therefore, asked the Prophet (s) 'Why we then had to conduct
clandestine activism. I swear by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth,
that we will leave our
concealment and proclaim our noble cause publicly.' We then went out in two
leading one and I the other. We headed for the Mosque in broad daylight
when the polytheists of
Quraish saw us, their faces went pale and got incredibly depressed and
resentful. On that very
occasion, the Prophet (s) attached to me the epithet of Al-Farouque. Ibn
related that they (the Muslims) had never been able to observe their
inside the Holy Sanctuary except when Umar embraced Islam.
Suhaib bin Sinan (ra) , in the same context, said that it was only after
that we started to proclaim our Call, assemble around and circumambulate
the Sacred House freely.
We even dared retaliate against some of the injustices done to harm us. In
the same context, Ibn
Masud said: We have been strengthened a lot since Umar embraced Islam.
--Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar), pp.109-114.