After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that Hazrat Umar(ra) had great regard for those who had knowledge of the Holy Qur’an, no matter if they were young or old.
His Holiness(aba) said that once, someone came to Hazrat Umar(ra) and complained that he did not give people enough wealth, nor did he decide justly in matters of wealth. This upset Hazrat Umar(ra). One of his advisors, Hurr bin Qais, said that the following was instructed to the Holy Prophet(sa) in the Holy Qur’an:
“Take to forgiveness, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” (7:200)
Hurr bin Qais said that this person was surely ignorant. Upon being reminded of these verses, Hazrat Umar(ra) did not take any action against that person.
His Holiness(aba) said that once, a chief came to Hazrat Umar(ra), and disliked that fact that a ten-year-old child was also sitting in such esteemed company. It so happened that later, Hazrat Umar(ra) became displeased at something that this chief did. That same ten-year-old child read the following:
“and those who suppress anger” (3:135)
The child then also read:
“and turn away from the ignorant.” (7:200)
The child said that this person was surely ignorant. Upon hearing the words of the Holy Qur’an, Hazrat Umar(ra) remained silent. Then that chief was told that the same ten-year-old boy he was looking down upon was the one who saved him.
His Holiness(aba) said that when matters would be presented to Hazrat Umar(ra), he would also consult children, in order to sharpen their minds.
His Holiness(aba) said that Hazrat Umar(ra) was extremely careful when it came to the wealth of the treasury. Once, Hazrat Umar(ra) was given some milk to drink which he very much liked. He asked where this milk had come from. The person told him that it had been given to him from the camels which had been given as Zakat. Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) regurgitated the milk, saying he could not consume the wealth of Zakat.
His Holiness(aba) said that once, Hazrat Umar(ra) was ill and he was prescribed to use honey. There was some honey in the treasury. Hazrat Umar(ra) stood at the pulpit and said to the people that he would only use that honey if they allowed, which they did, and only then he used the honey from the treasury.
His Holiness(aba) said that once, it was extremely hot outside, so much so that it would be difficult to get up and even open the door. In this heat, Hazrat Uthman(ra) was informed that there was someone walking outside. When that person drew near, Hazrat Uthman(ra) saw that it was Hazrat Umar(ra). Upon inquiring what he was doing outside in such extreme heat, Hazrat Umar(ra) said that a camel from the treasury had gotten loose and he was searching for it.
His Holiness(aba) said that Hazrat Umar(ra) would always be equitable. Once, a Jewish person and a Muslim person who were quarelling came to Hazrat Umar(ra). Hazrat Umar(ra) heard their case and felt that the Jewish man was in the right, and so he decided in his favour. On another occasion, an Egyptian man went to Hazrat Umar(ra) and said that he had raced the son of Hazrat Amr bin ‘Aas(ra) and beaten him in the race. Upon this, he started beating him, saying that he was the son of an esteemed person. Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) summoned Hazrat Amr bin ‘Aas and his son, and then Hazrat Umar(ra) told the Egyptian that now he could strike the son of Hazrat Amr bin ‘Aas in return.
His Holiness(aba) said that Hazrat Umar(ra) was very forbearing. Once, he said in a sermon that if anyone saw any crookedness in him, then they should rectify it. A person stood up and said that if he found any crookedness in him, he would rectify it with his sword. Hazrat Umar(ra) thanked God that there was someone who would rectify him with his sword.
His Holiness(aba) said that once, a person went to Hazrat Umar(ra) and in front of a crowd, told Hazrat Umar(ra) to fear God. The people present wished to silence him, however Hazrat Umar(ra) said that if he wished to say something, then he should speak openly.
His Holiness(aba) said that Hazrat Umar(ra) was very mindful of religious freedom. Once, an elderly Christian woman went to Hazrat Umar(ra) for some matter. Hazrat Umar(ra) incited her to accept Islam as she would be protected. She replied saying that she was elderly and nearing her demise. Thus, Hazrat Umar(ra) fulfilled her need, and later repented, fearing that she may have perceived him taking advantage of the need and compelling her to accept Islam. He prayed to God saying that he merely showed her the right path, but did not wish to force her. This was the degree to which he was mindful of religious freedom.
His Holiness(aba) said that Hazrat Umar(ra) was also caring towards animals. Once, Hazrat Umar(ra) inspected some camels who had been tied. He examined them, and he asked the owners if they really cared for their animals? If so, they should have let them loose so that they may graze freely.
His Holiness(aba) said that once, a Jewish man went to Hazrat Umar(ra) and said that there was a verse in the Qur’an which, if it had been revealed to the Jewish people, they would have rejoiced and commemorated it as a day of Eid. The verse was:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. But whoso is forced by hunger, without being willfully inclined to sin, then, surely Allah is Most Forgiving and Merciful.” (5:4)
Hazrat Umar(ra) replied to him by saying that this verse was revealed on a day of two Eids; Friday, and the day of Arafah.
His Holiness(aba) said that people would say that during the era of Hazrat Umar(ra), Satan had been shackled, and after Hazrat Umar’s(ra) martyrdom, Satan was let loose and rampant.
His Holiness(aba) said that it is recorded in history that Hazrat Umar(ra) had a special affinity for poetry. It is said that often, when matters were presented to Hazrat Umar(ra), while explaining, Hazrat Umar(ra) would quote relevant couplets of poetry. He would quote such poetry that was in line with Islamic teachings and the Islamic way of life. He would also encourage others to memorise poetic couplets as well. Hazrat Umar(ra) also refined Arabic poetry. For example, it was common to name women in poems and declare love for them. Hazrat Umar(ra) eradicated this practice, and determined a punishment for doing so.
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who highlighted the esteemed rank of Hazrat Umar(ra) along with the other Rightly Guided Caliphs.
His Holiness(aba) said that now, the series of sermons on the life of Hazrat Umar(ra) was complete. His Holiness(aba) said that with God’s grace, he will begin the series of sermons on the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) in the future.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) stated:
People with knowledge, especially those who were well versed in the Holy Quran, were greatly esteemed in the eyes of Hazrat Umar(ra), whether they were youths, children or adults. There is a narration in Bukhari where Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) relates:
“Uyaina bin Hisn bin Huzayfa came to Medina and stayed with his nephew, Hur bin Qais, who was among those individuals who had the opportunity to sit close to Hazrat Umar(ra). The Qaris of the Quran, young and old alike, would sit near to Hazrat Umar(ra) during his gatherings and they would also give various suggestions to him in relation to the Holy Quran. Uyaina said to his nephew, ‘O my nephew! You are honourable in the eyes of this chief. Therefore, seek permission for me to meet him.’ Hur bin Qais said, ‘I will seek permission for you to see him.’”
Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) further narrates:
“Hence, Hur sought permission for Uyaina and Hazrat Umar(ra) granted him permission. When Uyaina approached him, he said, ‘O son of Khattab! What is the matter here? By God! You neither give us an abundance of wealth, nor do you make a fair decision with regard to the wealth between us.’ Hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) became angry, so much so that that he was just about to say something to him, when Hur said to Hazrat Umar(ra), ‘O Leader of the Faithful! Allah the Almighty has said to His Messenger(sa):
خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاہِلِیْنَ
“‘“Take to forgiveness, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” [7:200] This Uyaina is also from among the ignorant.’ By Allah! When Hur recited this verse before him, Hazrat Umar(ra) immediately stopped and did not say anything. Hazrat Umar(ra) would refrain [from doing anything] after hearing the Book of Allah!” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Tafsir, Surah al-A‘raf, Hadith 4642)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I(ra) narrates an incident in relation to the court of Hazrat Umar(ra) in the following manner. He says:
“A chief came to the gathering of Hazrat Umar(ra) and he was appalled seeing a 10-year-old child sitting there and thought what did boys have to do in such an esteemed gathering. Coincidentally, Hazrat Umar(ra) became upset owing to something that chief did. He called for a jallad [a person who was assigned to flog others with a whip] but that very same boy exclaimed:
“[and those who suppress anger (Ch.3: V.135)]
“And then recited [the verse]:
وَ اَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاہِلِیْنَ
“[and turn away from the ignorant. (Ch.7: V.200)]
“The boy then said:
ھٰذَا مِنَ الْجَاہِلِیْن
“[He is also from among the ignorant.] The complexion of Hazrat Umar’s(ra) face changed and he remained silent. At that time, his brother”, i.e. the brother of the boy who said this, “said, ‘You see, that very same boy, whom you considered inferior, has saved you.’” (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. 2, p. 122)
There is a narration with regard to how Hazrat Umar(ra) would ensure for the moral upbringing of children. Yusuf bin Yaqub said, “Ibn Shihab said to me, my brother and my cousin when we were still young children, ‘You should not consider yourself inferior based on the fact that you are children. The reason for this is that whenever Hazrat Umar(ra) encountered a certain issue, he would gather the children and seek their suggestions as well and he did this with the aim of sharpening their minds.’” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 165, Egypt, Al-Azhar)
During the Battle of Uhud, when the situation changed and the Muslims suffered great losses, at that time, Abu Sufyan called out three times – this incident is in relation to Hazrat Umar(ra)’s sense of honour – “Is Muhammad among you?” The Holy Prophet(sa) instructed the companions not to reply. Abu Sufyan then called out three times and asked, “Is the son of Abu Quhafah among you?” He then asked three times, “Is Ibn al-Khattab among you?” Thereafter, he returned to his men and stated, “All of these people have been slain.” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) was unable to restrain himself and stated, “O enemy of Allah! By God, you have spoken a lie! Those whom you have named are all alive and there is a great share of misfortune destined for you.” Abu Sufyan replied, “Consider this day to be a recompense for Badr. And battle is like a pail, at times, it rises and at times it falls.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Jihad, Hadith no. 3039)
Then, in relation to how particular Hazrat Umar(ra) was about safeguarding the wealth of the treasury, there is a narration of Zaid bin Aslam who says, “Hazrat Umar(ra) bin al-Khattab drank milk, which he enjoyed.” Someone gave him a glass of milk, so he drank it and enjoyed it. “He asked the person who handed him the milk, ‘Where is this from?’ He replied by saying that he went to a spring and mentioned the name of the spring, where people were giving water to the Zakat camels. They milked the camels and brought some for him and he put it in a water bowl.’ Hazrat Umar(ra) put his hand in his mouth and vomited the milk out saying that it belonged to Zakat and that he would not drink it.” (Al-Muwatta, Imam Malik, Kitab-ul-Zakat, Hadith 31, Ahya-ul-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, 1985)
Bara bin Ma‘rur’s son narrates, “Hazrat Umar(ra) once came out of his home then stood at the pulpit. At the time, he was unwell and was prescribed some honey for his illness. There was a pot of honey in the treasury. Hazrat Umar(ra) said to the people, ‘If you permit me, I shall take this, otherwise, it is not permissible for me.’ The people permitted him to do so.” (Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra Li Ibn Saad, Vol. 3, p. 147, Dar-ul-Ahaya al-Turath Al-Arabi, Beirut, 1996)
In relation to the extent to his concern for protecting the wealth in the treasury, there is an incident that has been mentioned previously and I shall present it briefly now. One afternoon, during the scorching heat, Hazrat Umar(ra) was leading the camels to the grazing grounds that had been left behind in order to prevent them from getting lost. When Hazrat Uthman(ra) happened to witness this, he said, “Let us see to this task and you should come and sit in the shade.” Hazrat Umar(ra) replied, “You all sit in the shade, this is my responsibility and so I shall do it myself.” (Usdul Ghaba Fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahaba, Vol. 3, p. 667, Umar bin al-Khattab, Dar-ul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, 2003)
Hazrat Musleh Maud(ra) has described this incident in the following manner:
“In accordance with the promise of Allah the Almighty, the Muslims were granted riches, wealth, honour and status, yet they did not become neglectful of Islam.”
Hazrat Musleh Maud(ra) is explaining that even if one has a lot of wealth, they must not become neglectful of their faith, the teachings of Islam and their duties.
He then states:
“Hazrat Uthman(ra) relates, ‘I was once seated in my quarters and the heat was so severe that it was difficult to even muster the strength to open the door. In the meantime, one of my assistants told me that there was a man walking outside in the scorching heat […] a few moments later, that man arrived closer to my quarters and I realised that it was Hazrat Umar(ra). Upon seeing him, I became concerned and went outside and asked, ‘Where are you going at this time in this intense heat?’ Hazrat Umar(ra) said, ‘A camel from the treasury has been lost and I am out searching for it.’”
Hazrat Musleh Maud(ra) then writes:
“Allah the Almighty states:
عَلَی الْاَرَآئِکِ یَنْظُرُوْنَ
That is, they would be sat on thrones, yet their duty would be to constantly remain watchful. The bounties and comforts of this world would not make them idle. They would not be heedless seated on the couches; rather they would, at all times, be alert and attentive. They would tend to the rights of the people and would continue to fulfil their official duties in an excellent manner.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 8, pp. 314-315)
There is a narration with regard to equality; Saeed bin Musayyib relates that a Jew and a Muslim came to Hazrat Umar(ra) with their dispute. Hazrat Umar(ra) thought that the Jew was in the right, and passed the verdict in his favour. The Jew then said, “By God you have made the correct decision.” (Al-Muwatta, Imam Malik, Kitab-ul-Aqziya, narration no. 1425, Dar-ul-Fikr, 2002)
Hazrat Anas(ra) narrates that a person from Egypt came to Hazrat Umar(ra) and said, “O Leader of the Faithful! I seek refuge with you from injustice.” Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “You have chosen an excellent place of refuge.” The man said, “I had a race with the son of Amr bin al-Aas in which I overtook him. Upon this, he lashed me saying, ‘I am the son of an esteemed person, how dare you overtake me?’” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) wrote a letter to Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas and summoned him along with his son. When Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas arrived, Hazrat Umar(ra) asked for the Egyptian man and told him to take the whip and lash the son of Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas. Thus, the Egyptian man began lashing Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas’ son, while Hazrat Umar(ra) was saying “Strike the son of the esteemed person”.
Hazrat Anas(ra) further relates, “We were all pleased to see that he was hitting him, but he continued hitting him so much, that we wished he would stop. Then, Hazrat Umar(ra) told the Egyptian man to strike Amr(ra) bin al-Aas on the head. The Egyptian man said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! His son hit me and I have taken retribution.’ Upon this, Hazrat Umar(ra) said to Hazrat Amr bin al-Aas, ‘Since when have you started to enslave the people, whereas they were born free?’ Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas submitted, “O Leader of the Faithful! I had no knowledge of this incident, nor did this Egyptian man come to me.’” (Kanzul Ummal, Kitab-ul-Fazail, Vol. 6, narration no. 36005, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
Once, Hazrat Umar(ra) came in the possession of some wealth and he began distributing it among the people. People were crowded around, and Hazrat Saad(ra) bin Abi Waqas began cutting in front of the people moving forward and reached Hazrat Umar(ra). Hazrat Umar(ra) struck him with his whip and said, “You did not fear Allah’s authority on earth, and you cleaved through the crowd of people to reach the front. Thus, I thought I should inform you that Allah’s authority does not fear you either.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 97, Dar-ul-Ma’rifah Beirut)
There is a narration regarding the high degree of Hazrat Umar’s(ra) forbearance. Once, Hazrat Umar(ra) was delivering a sermon and said, “O people, if anyone from among you finds any fault in me, he should rectify it.” A man stood up and said, “If we find any crookedness in you, we will rectify it with our swords.” Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “I am thankful to Allah that he has created such a man in this nation who would rectify Umar’s crookedness with his sword.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 106, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
As he was delivering his sermon, Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “Enjoin me to do good and stop me from evil and help me by advising me.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad Al-Sallabi, p. 107, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
On another occasion, Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “The person I like most is he who points out my shortcomings.” (Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 222, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
There is a saying of Hazrat Umar(ra) which is, “I am afraid of committing a mistake, and not being shown the error of my way because people fear me.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 107, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
One day, a person came to Hazrat Umar(ra) and began saying in front of a crowd, “O Umar, fear Allah.” Upon hearing this, some people became very angry and wished to silence him. Hazrat Umar(ra) said to him, “There is no good in you if you do not explain the fault you see, and there is no good in us if we do not listen to it.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 107, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
Hazrat Umar(ra) explained to him that he should not make a general statement; rather, he should be specific.
One day, Hazrat Umar(ra) stood to deliver a sermon to the people. He had only said, “O people, listen and obey” when a man interjected and said, “O Umar, we will not listen, nor will we obey.” Hazrat Umar(ra) politely asked him, “O servant of Allah, why is this so?” He replied, “Because people were only able to make a shirt from the fabric that was distributed to everyone from the treasury, and were unable to make a full suit. You must also have received the same amount of fabric; how then do you have a full suit?” Hazrat Umar(ra) told the man to stay where he was and summoned his son Abdullah. Abdullah said that he had given his share of fabric to his father so that his suit may be complete. People were satisfied upon hearing this and that man said, “O Leader of the Faithful, now I will listen and obey.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 107, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
There used to be ignorant people like this, but one would never hear such words uttered by the eminent companions who had been trained by the Holy Prophet(sa). People like this [aforementioned person] were those who became Muslim later on, or were impolite, uneducated and ignorant. The preeminent companions never acted in this way; rather, they always showed complete obedience.
How did Hazrat Umar(ra) implement the religious freedom afforded by Islam? After the conquest of Alexandria, its ruler sent a message to Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas saying, “Among the other Arab nations, I used to pay tax to more contemptable nations than you”, i.e. the Persians and Byzantines. “If you wish, then I am prepared to pay you a tax as well, on the condition that you free the prisoners of war from my area.”
Hazrat Amr(ra) bin al-Aas wrote a letter addressed to the Caliph, explaining the situation. Hazrat Umar(ra) replied, “Suggest to the ruler of Alexandria that he should pay the tax, but the prisoners of war who are in your”, i.e. the Muslim’s “custody should be given the choice of either accepting Islam or to remain on the faith of their people. Those who become Muslim will join the Muslims and will have the same rights and responsibilities as other Muslims. However, those who remain on their faith, they will be subject to the same tax as others of their faith.” Hence Amr(ra) bin al-Aas gathered all the prisoners and read to them the instructions received from the Caliph. Many of the prisoners became Muslims. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, pp. 512-513, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2012)
There is an incident which illustrates how careful Hazrat Umar(ra) was when it came to religious freedom. Once, an elderly Christian lady went to Hazrat Umar(ra) due to some need. Hazrat Umar(ra) advised her, “Become a Muslim and you will be safe. Allah sent Muhammad(sa) with the truth.” She replied, “I am an old woman and death is drawing near.” He fulfilled her need; however, he feared that what he did would be likened to taking advantage of her need and forcing her to become Muslim. Thus, he sought repentance from Allah the Almighty for this and said, “O Allah, I only showed her the right path, I did not force her.” Thus, he was very careful in this regard. (Sirat Umar binaAl-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 101, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
Then, there is another incident. Hazrat Umar(ra) had a Christian slave whose name was Ashaq. He says, “I was Hazrat Umar’s(ra) slave. He said to me, ‘Become a Muslim, so that I may seek your help in certain matters pertaining to the Muslims, as it is not appropriate for me to seek help from non-Muslims in matters that pertain to Muslims.’” The slave says, “However, I refused. Hazrat Umar(ra) said:
لَآ اِکْرَاہَ فِی الدِّیْنِ
“That is, there is no compulsion in the religion of Islam [Ch.2: V.257]. When Hazrat Umar(ra) was about to pass away, he freed me and said, ‘Go wherever you please.’” (Syyedna Umar bin al-Khattab Shakhsiyyat Aur Kaarname, Dr Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, Urdu translation, p.184, Al-Furqan, Muzaffar Ghar, Pakistan)
There is an incident regarding how Hazrat Umar(ra) showed compassion and kindness to animals. Ahnaf bin Qais narrates:
“We came as a delegation and gave Hazrat Umar(ra) good news of a great victory. Hazrat Umar(ra) asked where we were staying, to which I replied that we were staying at such and such place. Hazrat Umar(ra) started walking with me. We reached the place where the camels for our transportation were tied. After examining every single camel, Hazrat Umar(ra) said, ‘You have no fear of Allah with regards to your mounts. Do you not know that they have a right over you! Why did you not leave them free so they could graze freely on the grass?’” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 171, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
Hazrat Umar(ra) once saw a camel which was greatly fatigued and showed signs of illness. Salim bin Abdillah narrates that Hazrat Umar(ra) bin al-Khattab placed his hand on the camel’s back next to an injury mark and said to himself, “I fear lest Allah the Almighty questions me regarding you.” (Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 217, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
Aslam narrates that on one occasion, Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “I feel like eating fresh fish.” Yarfa, the name of one of Hazrat Umar’s(ra) slaves, took his mount and rode four miles in both directions and bought a good quality fish. He then turned to the mount and washed it. In the meantime, Hazrat Umar(ra) came and said to come with him. He saw the mount and then said, “You forgot to wipe the sweat underneath the ears. You put an animal through pain in order to fulfil Umar’s desire. By Allah! Umar will not even taste this fish.” (Kanzul Ummal, Kitab-ul-Fazail, Vol. 6, p. 287, narration no. 35966, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
One afternoon, a delegation came from Iraq to see Hazrat Umar(ra) in the summer months. Ahnaf bin Qais was also present in this delegation. Hazrat Umar(ra) was wearing a turban and was applying pitch etc. on the camels for Zakat. Hazrat Umar(ra) stated, “O Ahnaf! Take off your [outer] clothes and come and assist the Leader of the Faithful with this camel. It is a camel for Zakat. Orphans, widows and the poor have a right over it.” (Kanzul Ummal, Vol. 3, p. 303, Kitab al-Khilafah wa al-Imarah, Hadith no. 14303, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
With regard to a reply given by Hazrat Umar(ra) to a Jew, there is a narration by Tariq. He narrated from Hazrat Umar bin al-Khattab, “A Jewish man came to Hazrat Umar(ra) and said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! There is a verse in your Book which you recite, if it was revealed to us’”, i.e. revealed to the Jews, “‘we would declare that day as a day of celebration.’ Hazrat Umar(ra) asked which verse was it. The man replied:
اَلْیَوْمَ اَکْمَلْتُ لَکُمْ دِیْنَکُمْ وَ اَتْمَمْتُ عَلَیْکُمْ نِعْمَتِیْ وَرَضِیْتُ لَکُمُ الْاِسْلَامَ دِیْنًا
“‘This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion [Ch.5: V.4]’. Hazrat Umar(ra) replied, ‘I can recall that day and the place where this verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet(sa). It was a Friday, and the Holy Prophet(sa) was standing in Arafat.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Iman, Hadith 45)
Hazrat Musleh Maud(ra) states:
“A Jew once said to Hazrat Umar(ra), ‘There is a verse in the Quran, if it was revealed in our scripture, we would decree that day as a day of celebration.’ Hazrat Umar(ra) asked which verse it was. He replied:
اَلْیَوْمَ اَکْمَلْتُ لَکُمْ دِیْنَکُمْ
“Hazrat Umar(ra) replied, ‘That day was a double celebration for us, i.e. the day the verse was revealed it was a Friday and also the day of Arafah.’” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 4, p.6)
Some esteemed personalities have written about Hazrat Umar(ra). Ash‘ath narrates, “I heard Imam Sha‘bi say, ‘When there is a difference of opinion amongst the people over a matter, check what Hazrat Umar(ra) decided about that matter, because Hazrat Umar(ra) never took a step without seeking counsel.’” (Hulyatul Auliya, Vol. 4, pp. 304-305, Narration no. 5841, Maktabatul Iman, 2007)
Imam Sha‘bi says, “I heard Hazrat Qubaisah bin Jabir say, ‘I remained with Hazrat Umar(ra) bin al-Khattab. I have not seen a person who read the Book of Allah more than him, or who understood faith or one who taught and lectured better than him.’” (Tarikh Dimashaq al-Kabir Li Ibn Asakir, Vol. 11, part. 21, p. 128, Dar-ul-Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, 2001)
Hazrat Hasan Basri(rh) states, “When you wish to illuminate your gatherings, then remember [the life of] Hazrat Umar(ra) abundantly.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 217, Egypt, Al-Azhar)
Mujahid narrates, “We would say to one another that in the time of Hazrat Umar(ra), undoubtedly, Satans were bound in chains [as it were]. When he was martyred, Satans began roaming around the land freely.” (Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 217, Egypt, Al-Azhar)
With regard to Hazrat Umar(ra), it is written that he had a fondness for poetry. Although he did not compose any himself, he enjoyed listening to poetry. Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Abbas narrates:
“Once I set off with Hazrat Umar(ra) on a journey. One evening, we were walking, when I went near to him, he hit the front of his pack-saddle with his whip and recited the following couplet:
کَذَبْتُمْ وَبَیْتِ اللّٰہِ یُقْتَلُ
أَحْمَدُ وَلَمَّا نُطَاعِنْ دُونَہُ وَنُنَاضِلُ
وَنُسْلِمُہُ حَتّٰى نُصَرَّعَ حَوْلَہُ
وَنَذْہَلَ عَنْ أَبْنَائِنَا وَالْحَلائِلِ
“‘You lie, I swear by the House of Allah’”, i.e. the Ka‘bah, “‘Ahmad(sa) cannot be martyred; as long as we stand guard and show the might of our spears and swords. We will not leave his side until we are martyred fighting in his presence, and forget all about our sons, our wives and families.”
وَمَا حَمَلَتْ مِنْ نَاقَۃٍ فَوْقَ رَحْلِہَا
أَبَرَّ وَ أَوْفٰى ذِمَّۃً مِنْ مُحَمَّدِ
“‘No camel ever placed on its back a person greater in piety and one who fulfils their promise more than Muhammad(sa).’” (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 577, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2012)
Dr Ali Muhammad Salabi, who is a historian, has written a book, Umar bin al-Khattab: His Life and Times, in which he writes about Hazrat Umar’s(ra) love for poetry. He writes:
“Amongst the al-Khulafa al-Rashidun, the one who presented examples by means of a couplet the most was Hazrat Umar(ra). About him, some people have even written that there was hardly a decision he made and did not recite a couplet regarding it. It is written that Hazrat Umar(ra) once wore a set of clothing and went outside. People began to look at him closely. Upon this, Hazrat Umar(ra) gave them an example by way of the following couplet:
لَمْ تُغْنِ عَنْ ہُرْمُزٍ یَوْمًا خَزَائِنُہٗ
وَالْخُلْدُ قَدْ حَاوَلَتْ عَادٌ فَمَا خَلَدُوْا
أیْنَ الْمُلُوکُ الَّتِی کَانَتْ نَوَافِلُھَا
مِنْ کُلِّ أَوْبٍ إلَیْہَا رَاکِبٌ یَفِدُ
“‘Even the treasures of Hormizd did not save him from death, and the people of ‘Ad tried to live forever. Where are those kings, whose springs and waterholes would quench the thirst of the caravans coming from far and wide?’” (Syyedna Umar bin al-Khattab Shakhsiyyat Aur Kaarname, Dr Ali Muhammad Al-Sallabi, Urdu translation, p. 33, Al-Furqan, Muzaffar Ghar, Pakistan)
Ali Muhammad Salabi further writes:
“Hazrat Umar(ra) only liked those couplets which highlighted the beauty of the Islamic teachings; those that would capture the essence of Islam and those whose meanings were not against the teachings or values of Islam. Hazrat Umar(ra) would encourage the Muslims to memorise and learn exquisite couplets and would say that they contained gems which people searched for. Furthermore, it granted wisdom to the wise and guided people to adopt a noble character.
“With regard to the excellence of poverty, Hazrat Umar(ra) also stated it was the key to unlock the heart and a way to promote positive emotions in a person. Regarding the excellence and benefits of poetry, he would say that the best pastime of a person was for them to compose a few verses, which they could recite when needed; through it they could charm a noble and generous person and even attract the heart of a wretched one. He also had a passion to memorise poems from the poets of the ancient times, i.e. poets of the jahiliyya era [era of ignorance before the advent of Islam] because it had a deep connection with understanding and comprehending the Book of Allah. He would say, ‘Memorise your diwan [collection of poems], and you will save yourself from going astray.’ The people asked, ‘What is our diwan?’ Hazrat Umar(ra) said, ‘Poems from the jahiliyyah period. They contain the commentary and meanings of your book’”, i.e. the Holy Quran. “This saying of Hazrat Umar(ra) is affirmed from the saying of his student and commentator of the Holy Quran, Abdullah bin Abbas, whereby he stated, ‘If you read the Quran and are unable to understand it, then search for its meaning among Arabic couplets, because poetry is the Diwan of the Arabs.’” (Syyedna Umar bin al-Khattab Shakhsiyyat Aur Kaarname, Dr Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, Urdu translation, p.336, Al-Furqan, Muzaffar Ghar, Pakistan)
Whilst mentioning Hazrat Umar’s(ra) fondness of poetry, the famous biographer of the subcontinent, Allama Shibli Nomani writes in his book Al-Farooq:
“Although Hazrat Umar(ra) is not famous for being associated with poetry, and it is true that he would rarely compose poems, he had such an exquisite taste in poetry that this aspect cannot be left out of his biography. He had memorised countless couplets of a famous Arab poet and held his own opinion about the works of other poets. Scholars of literature accept that in his time, there was nobody who would recite poetry more than him. Jahiz writes in his book, Al-Bayan wa Al-Tabyin, that in his time, Hazrat Umar(ra) had the most knowledge and understanding of poetry. Hazrat Umar’s(ra) love for poetry was such that if he heard a good couplet, he would enjoy it and keep on reciting it again and again. Although owing to his responsibilities as the Khalifa, he did not have the time to delve deeply in this pastime, because of his innate love for poetry, he had memorised hundreds and thousands of couplets. The scholars of literature say that his memory for recalling poetry was such that whenever he gave a verdict on a matter, he would always recite a couplet. He would only like those couplets which exhibited traits of self-control, freedom, nobility, honour or teaching a lesson. For this reason, he issued a mandate to the commanders of the army and governors of provinces to urge people to memorise poetry.
“To Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari(ra), he wrote, ‘Urge the people to memorise couplets because they personify lofty morals; show the correct opinions and guide to the path of justice.’ The wording of the command he sent to all the provinces is as follows, ‘Teach your children swimming, horse riding as well as proverbs and good poetry’, i.e. to instil within them a passion for learning.
“It is worth noting that Hazrat Umar(ra) eradicated many wrongful customs associated with poetry. At the time, it was a custom in all of Arabia that poets would mention noble women by name in their poems and openly express their love for them. Hazrat Umar(ra) eradicated this custom and ordered a severe punishment for those guilty of this offence. Similarly, he declared lampooning in verse to be a crime and imprisoned Hautaya, who was famous for this.” (Al-Farooq, Shibli Nomani, pp. 330-333, Maktabatul Harmain, Lahore, 1431 AH)
Allama Shibli Nomani further writes:
“In those days, the most renowned poet was Mutammam bin Numairah, whose brother was accidently killed by Hazrat Khalid(ra) during the Khilafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra). This incident affected him so deeply that he would often cry and recite elegies about him. When he went to see Hazrat Umar(ra), he requested permission to recite an elegy and recited a few couplets. Hazrat Umar(ra) said, ‘If I was able to recite an elegy, I would recite it for my brother Zaid.’ He said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! If my brother was killed in the manner your brother was killed’”, i.e. if he was martyred, “‘I would never lament over his death.’ Hazrat Umar(ra) would always recall that nobody was able to offer their condolences to him in the manner Mutammam did.” (Al-Farooq, Shibli Nomani, p. 345, Maktabatul Harmain, Lahore, 1431 AH)
With regard to Hazrat Umar’s(ra) virtues and attributes, the Promised Messiah(as) says:
“Some prophecies are such that are manifested only once and they exhibit their majesty gradually, or they are fulfilled in the person of someone else. Such is the case with the prophecy of our Holy Prophet(sa) in which he said that he was bestowed with the keys of the treasures belonging to the Caesar and Chosroes. But it is evident that the Holy Prophet(sa) passed away before this prophecy was fulfilled; he neither saw the treasures of Chosroes or Caeser, nor the keys to them. However, since it was decreed, those keys were granted to Hazrat Umar(ra) because Hazrat Umar(ra) in essence was a spiritual manifestation of the Holy Prophet(sa). That is why in the spiritual realm the hand of Umar(ra) has been declared to be the hand of the Holy Prophet(sa).” (Ayam-us-Suluh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 14, p. 265)
The Promised Messiah(as) further states:
“It is vital to believe that Siddiq-e-Akbar(ra) [Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq(ra)], Hazrat Farooq-e-Umar(ra) [Hazrat Umar Farooq(ra)], Hazrat Dhul-Nurain(ra)”, i.e. Hazrat Uthman(ra), “and Hazrat Ali Murtaza(ra) were all the custodians of the faith. For Islam, Abu Bakr(ra) was the second coming of Adam; similarly, if Hazrat Umar Farooq(ra) and Hazrat Uthman(ra) did not show sincerity in the trust bestowed upon them, then it would be impossible for us to consider even one verse of the Quran to be from Allah the Almighty.” (Maktubaat-e-Ahmad, Vol. 2, p. 151, Letter no. 2 addressed to Hazrat Khansahib Muhammad Ali Khan Sahib, Rabwah)
The Promised Messiah(as) then states:
“I have been granted in-depth knowledge from my Lord regarding Khilafat. And just like any scholar, I have also been able to delve into the depth of the matter and my Lord has revealed to me that Siddiq [Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra)], Farooq [Hazrat Umar(ra)] and Uthman(ra), may Allah be pleased with them all, were pious believers, who were among the chosen ones of Allah the Almighty and were favoured with the special bounties of the Gracious God. Furthermore, many of the wise have borne witness to their virtues. They left their lands for the pleasure of the Honourable and Glorious God, they entered the furnace of every battle, and they cared not for the scorching midday heat of every summer, nor the cold of the night of every winter; rather, they marched forward upon the paths of their faith like youthful men, inclining neither to their own people, nor to others and they bade farewell to everything, all for the sake of the Lord of all the Worlds. Their actions were imbued with a sweet fragrance and their deeds with an aroma.
“All of this points to the gardens of their rank and the orchards of their good deeds. Likewise, the aromatic breezes of their zephyr [soft, sweet-smelling wind] reveals their intricate qualities and their light becomes manifest to us with all its radiance. Thus, you ought to ascertain their illustrious rank from the aroma of their fragrance and do not show haste and follow those who think ill. And do not rely on just certain narrations because they are filled with poison and exaggerations and they cannot be trusted. Many of those narrations are like a powerful and destructive wind and like the lightening which deceives one into thinking there is going to be rain. Thus, fear Allah and do not follow such narrations.” (Sirrul Khilafah, Urdu translation, pp. 25-26)
“By God, Allah the Almighty enabled the Sheikhain i.e. Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hazrat Umar(ra) and also Dhul-Nurain [Hazrat Uthman(ra)] to be like the doors to Islam and they were at the forefront of every army of the Holy Prophet(sa) who was the best of the creation. Thus, one who denies their lofty honour and discredits the clear and irrefutable arguments in their favour and does not show respect to them; rather it dishonours them and vilifies and speaks ill of them, then I fear that he may meet a terrible end and will become completely devoid of faith. And those who caused them grief and cursed them and levelled allegations against them, consequently their hearts became hardened and they incurred the wrath of the Gracious God. I have countlessly observed and have openly expressed this as well that to hold malice and enmity against these noble men is one of the main factors that severs man’s bond with God, Who is the Bestower of blessings. Whoever bears enmity against them becomes completely deprived of mercy and benevolence and the doors of divine cognisance and wisdom are never opened for them and they are left to partake in the desires and pleasures of the world and they are thrown into the abyss of carnal desires and He casts them away from His divine threshold and they remain deprived. They”, i.e. the Rightly Guided Caliphs, “also faced hardships just like the prophets, and curses were hurled at them, just as they were hurled towards the Messengers. This shows that they were the heirs of the prophets and their reward on the Day of Judgement will be the same as the leaders of [past] nations and countries. This is because when a believer is unjustly cursed and labelled a disbeliever, and is unduly mocked and ridiculed, he becomes like the prophets and akin to the chosen people of Allah. Then such an individual is recompensed just as the prophets are recompensed, and they are rewarded just like the Messengers. These people attained a lofty status through their servitude to the Best of All Prophets(sa), and Allah the Mighty and Exalted praised them. He made them an esteemed group of people, and through His own spirit, Allah helped them just as He helps all of His chosen people. In reality, the light of their truth and the effects of their piety were brilliantly apparent, and it became clear that they were truthful and that Allah was pleased with them, and they were pleased with Him, and He granted them that which had never been granted to anyone in the heavens and earth.” (Sirrul Khilafah, Urdu translation, pp. 28-30)
Then, whilst refuting an aspect of Shia beliefs, the Promised Messiah(as) says:
“Those Shias who believe that Abu Bakr Siddiq(ra) and Umar Farooq(ra) usurped the rights of Ali Murtaza(ra) and Fatima al-Zahra(ra) and were cruel to them have abandoned justice, adopted cruelty and followed the path of the transgressors. Surely, these people were such that abandoned their beloved homeland, friends and wealth for the sake of their Prophet, and they endured hardships at the hands of the disbelievers and were expelled from their homes by mischief mongers, but they remained patient like good and virtuous people.
“Then, they were later made Caliphs, but they did not fill their homes with riches, nor were their sons and daughter’s heirs to gold and silver. Instead, they gave whatever they received to the treasury. They did not make their sons their successors, just as worldly and misguided people do. They lived this life in poverty and destitution rather than being inclined towards worldly comforts like other leaders.
“Can it even be considered that such people would be capable of stealing the wealth of others, or were inclined towards usurping rights, looting or destruction? Was this the impact of having remained in the blessed company of the Chief of this world, the Holy Prophet(sa)? On the contrary, Allah the Almighty, the Lord of All the Worlds has praised them.
“The reality is that Allah purified their souls and cleansed their hearts. He enlightened their beings and made them an example for future pious people. We cannot find any weakness or superficial thought which would lead to any indication of deviation in their intentions or point towards any sort of evil in them, unless, someone is intent on attributing injustice and cruelty to them.
“By God, they were just people. Even if they were given a valley full of unlawful wealth, they would not so much as spit on it, nor would they turn towards it like greedy people, no matter if the gold was as high as mountains or enough to fill the earth seven times over. If they came across lawful wealth, they would surely spend it in the way of the All-Powerful God and religious endeavours. Thus, how can we even fathom that they would upset Fatima al-Zahra(ra) over a few trees and cause harm to the dear child of the Holy Prophet(sa) like the mischievous ones; rather, they were noble and righteous in their intentions and were firmly established upon the truth, and Allah showered His mercy upon them, and Allah knows the righteous full-well.” (Sirrul Khilafah, Urdu translation, pp. 37-39)
“The truth is that Abu Bakr Siddiq(ra) and Umar Farooq(ra) were both from among the eminent companions. They both never showed any weakness in fulfilling the rights they owed. Righteousness was their way of life and to establish justice was their objective. They would carefully ponder over the matters and delve deep into its intricacies. Fulfilling worldly desires was never their objective. They devoted themselves in obedience to Allah. I have never seen anyone partake of such immense blessings and support the religion of the Holy Prophet(sa) than the Sheikhain, i.e. Abu Bakr and Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both. In their subservience to the spiritual Sun for the whole of mankind, [i.e. Muhammad] peace be upon him, they were even more swift than the moon. They were wholly devoted in their love for him and in order to establish the truth, they happily endured every hardship. For the sake of the Holy Prophet(sa), like whom there is no other, they willingly and gladly endured every humiliation.
“At the time of battle against the army of disbelievers, they stood courageously like lions to the point that Islam triumphed and the enemy ranks suffered defeat. Shirk was abolished and totally eradicated and the spiritual sun of the nation and faith began to illuminate forth. They both rendered such exemplary service to their faith and afforded the Muslims with such excellence and favours that their final resting place was in the company of the most excellent of Prophets(sa). This was owing to the grace of Allah the Almighty, from Whom no righteous person is hidden and indeed all grace belongs to Allah and He grants it to whomsoever He pleases.
“One who develops a bond with God Almighty with utmost devotion is never made to face ruin, even if the entire world were to oppose him. Those who seek to establish a bond with Allah never experience hardship or loss and Allah does not abandon His truthful servants. Allah is the Greatest! How great was the sincerity and devotion of these two men” i.e. Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hazrat Umar(ra).
“Both were buried in such a blessed grave that if Moses(as) and Jesus(as) were alive today, they would express their earnest desire to be buried there. However, such a rank is never bestowed owing to one’s heartfelt longing or desire; rather, this is an eternal mercy bestowed from the Lord of Honour. And this mercy is only granted to those who are granted His Divine favours from the very beginning. These are the people who at the very end are shrouded in the cloth of divine grace.” (Sirrul Khilafah, Urdu translation, pp. 77-79)
“Whatever became of Islam after the Holy Prophet(sa) was due to the three companions. Whatever Hazrat Umar(ra) accomplished – which was a great deal – it cannot overshadow what Siddiq Akbar [Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra)](ra) accomplished, for it was Siddiq Akbar(ra) who laid the path to success and who dispelled a great dissention. The trials that Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) had to face in his time were never faced by Hazrat Umar(ra). Hence, [Abu Bakr] Siddiq(ra) cleared the path, upon which Hazrat Umar(ra) then opened the doors to further success.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 6, pp. 414-415)
Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib(ra) then writes in one place in relation to the state of the Promised Messiah’s(as) heart and his love and respect for the Holy Prophet(sa) and the two companions, Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hazrat Umar(ra):
“On one occasion, a friend who was truly absorbed in love for the Promised Messiah(as), submitted to him, ‘Why should we not consider you to be greater in status than the Shaikhain’”, i.e. Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hazrat Umar(ra) “‘and closer in rank to the Noble Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him?’ Goodness gracious! On hearing this, His Holiness became pale and an inexplicable anxiety and restlessness overtook him from head to toe. I swear in the name of God, who is most Honourable and Holy, that this particular instance increased my faith in the Promised Messiah(as) even more. The Promised Messiah(as) delivered an all-encompassing address continuously for six hours. When he began speaking, I looked at my watch, and when he finished, I looked at my watch again. He spoke for six hours. Not a minute less. To speak on a subject for so long, without rest, was an extraordinary occurrence. In his entire discourse, the Promised Messiah(as) spoke of the virtues and qualities of the Noble Messenger, may the choicest blessings and salutations be upon him, and about his own servitude and subservience to him. He also spoke of the excellences of the honourable Shakhain, may peace be on both of them. The Promised Messiah(as) said, ‘It is sufficient for me that I am an admirer of these men and the dust beneath their feet. The partial superiority which God Almighty has conferred upon them can never be attained by anyone until the Day of Resurrection. When will Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ever be born again on earth so that one may receive the opportunity to render such service as the honourable Shakhain, peace be on both of them.” (Malfuzat Vol. 1, p. 326)
The accounts from the life of Hazrat Umar(ra) have come to an end with regard to these sermons. Insha-Allah, and if Allah permits me, I shall begin the narrating the accounts from the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) in the future [sermon].
(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 17 December 2021, pp. 5-9.Translated by The Review of Religions.)