One of the Shari'ah sources in Islam:Dear brother, this is the first lecture of the biography of our Master Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him.
((On the authority of Abu Najeeh al-'Irbaad ibn Saariyah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave us a sermon by which our hearts were filled with fear and tears came to our eyes. So we said, "O Messenger of Allah! It is as though this is a farewell sermon, so counsel us." He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "I counsel you to have taqwa (fear) of Allah, and to listen and obey [your leader], even if a slave were to become your ameer. Verily he among you who lives long will see great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the Khulafa ar-Rashideen (the rightly guided caliphs), those who guide to the right way. Cling to it stubbornly [literally: with your molar teeth]. Beware of newly invented matters [in the religion], for verily every bidah (innovation) is misguidance.))
Before going further in Umar's biography, we should stop at this basic fact; the foundations of Islam are stemmed from the Noble Quran which is the Divine Revelation, and in the second place comes the Prophetic verbal Sunnah as a clarification of the first resource (i.e. Quran). Allah says:
﴾That you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them﴿
In the third place comes the actions of the Prophet PBUH as a manifestation of his comprehension of the Noble Quran. In the fourth place comes the biography of Sahaba (companions of the Prophet PBUH) whom are Divinely determined to be pleased by Allah in the Noble Quran. Whenever we mention a scholar such as Muhyi Ad-Deen Ibn Arabi, we usually say, may Allah be pleased with him, but this is just Du'a, not something determined, while the companions of the Prophet PBUH were reported in the Quran to acquire the Pleasure of Allah.
Although they were great in numbers, the companions put forth exalted and accepted examples to be followed. They set exalted and good examples of the rich Muslim, the poor Muslim, the senior Muslim, the young Muslim, the Muslim who was brought up surrounded with unlimited financial resources, the Muslim who immigrated, the Muslim who was afflicted with diseases, the Muslim who lived long, the Muslim who died young and the Muslim who died in the battle field. Those companions who acquired Allah's Pleasure set examples of faith to which the believer should look up.
We will tackle the biography of the giant of Islam with regard to faith. He was amongst the great believers who lived with the Prophet PBUH and accompanied him with sincerity and honesty. This great companion had a unique personality and the more we go deep in his biography the more bright sides of his life will be disclosed to us. The life of this great rightly-guided Khalifah (Caliph) is cherished amongst the historians all over the world, because he represents an everlasting humane value. I was told that there is a museum in one of the western countries on the door of which is written, The Cave of Justice, and glimpses of his biography are showcased in that museum.
The position of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in Jahiliyyah:Dear brother, in Makkah they used to hold the famed Ukadh fair annually in which poets and litterateurs used to gather and compete in poetry that was listened to by all spectators and people. One of the senior organizers of that fair was heading back to his town when he met someone who said to him, "Have you heard of the big news O Arab brother?" This man said, "What news?" The man said, "The left-handed man." So the man wondered, "You mean the wrestler who used to wrestle in 'Ukadh market?" He said, "Yes, him I meant." Then the man asked, "What is it about him?" He said, "He embraced Islam and followed Muhammad PBUH." Actually, the actions of the majority of people might go unnoticed but the actions of great people will spread all over the world, and this is what happened when Umar embraced Islam, so the old man said after he wake up from his shock, "This man will either spread great goodness or grave evil." He said so because he knew that Umar's personality was dynamic, self-assertive, frank and straightforward and indeed Umar spread goodness.
﴾He increases in creation what He wills.﴿
Psychologists said, "90 % of people are mediocrely skilled and only 5% are superiorly skilled, whereas 5% are below average." This great companion was among the second 5 %, and he was highly skilled.
The best amongst you in Jahiliyyah are the best amongst you in Islam:The Prophet PBUH knew how valuable this companion might become if he embraced Islam, for the Prophet PBUH owned the deep comprehension, the delicate perception and the wide experience which made him realize that if Umar embraced Islam, lots of goodness would come out of that. In fact, some Muslims are a burden on Islam, and some of them take the burden of Islam on their shoulders and they strive in this cause. Hence, if you want to please Allah, do not be a freeloader in Islam but be among the ones who hold the responsibility of Islam whether in spreading it, applying it, serving it, being jealous for it and manifestly abiding by it. How big is the difference between the one who is held by Islam and the one who holds Islam.
This companion was amongst the fiercest enemies of Islam and the Prophet PBUH; he even determined to kill him (i.e. the Prophet PBUH) and relieve people of him, but when he embraced Islam he became amongst those who defended Islam and served it.
(("O Allâh! Give strength to Islam especially through either of two men you love more: 'Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham." 'Umar, obviously, was the one who merited that privilege.))
This leads us to realize the importance of being superior instead of being an ordinary man among other people. Do not live on the margin of life and do not be someone whose existence does not make any difference, who does not benefit sh3er or harm them, who is unknown and who knows no one. Be superior because the doors of glory are wide open to all people, so do not mind the wrong theory that "man's intelligence is limited, and so are his skills." This theory is wrong, so replace it with this one, "Man is granted hidden skills by erupting which he will do miracles and build civilizations."
Rejuvenate your faith:Dear brother, the means which were available to the companions are available to you too, and as Allah is their Lord, He is yours as well. Also, His book is in your hands, and the opportunities to offer good deeds are so many, and so are the ways of serving, giving and looking after sh3er. Furthermore, Allah's Laws which the companions abided by are the ones you are supposed to abide by. Thus, if you are sincere, if you seek Allah's Pleasure and reconcile with Him, you will be amazed at the happiness you will gain, and which you never tasted before, at the tranquility which you missed for a long time, at the stability of which you are in dire need and at the prosperity which you will notice clearly. Allah says:
﴾As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him* And believes in Al-Husna* We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness).﴿
I mentioned in a previous lecture that the promises of Allah to the believers come from the Creator of this universe, so the vanishing of the universe is much easier to Allah than keeping His promises unfulfilled. Accordingly, when these promises are not fulfilled, you must doubt your belief, so you should rejuvenate your faith as it is recommended in the following Ayah:
﴾So flee to Allah (from His Torment to His Mercy Islamic Monotheism), verily, I (Muhammad PBUH) am a plain warner to you from Him.﴿
The means of heroism (success) are available to everyone:Our master Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, may Allah be pleased with him, is considered the fifth rightly-guided Khalifah, and Salahudeen Al-Ayoobi, who fought the entire Europe, is considered the sixth rightly-guided Khalifah. Therefore, the doors to success in Da'wah are open all the time, and your mission is to move, to become sincere and to devote all your efforts, energy, skills and everything you own to that cause, and this is the meaning of the following Ayah:
﴾And spend out of what we have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat, spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah's Cause - Jihad, etc.].﴿
I would like to tell you this fact: If you are a Da'iyah (caller to Allah), Allah will put sincere people at your disposal as long as you are sincere and honest, but when you relinquish honesty and sincerity, you will be surrounded with people who are not sincere. Therefore, if you aim at being surrounded with people who are obedient to Allah, you should be more obedient than them, simply because it is irrational to ask Allah to surround you with people who are more honest, sincere and obedient to Allah than, and who are closer to Him than you.
I keep making this Du'a (supplication):
"O Allah, I seek refuge with you from someone who makes benefit more than me from the knowledge you have taught me. O Allah, I seek refuge with you from saying something that pleases You, but I seek with it somebody else's pleasure. O Allah, I seek refuge with you from beautifying myself before people with something makes me shameful before You. O Allah, I seek refuge with you from making me a lesson people learn."
If you are in the quest of the cream of crop of people, you have all the right to do so, because those people will offer a lot effortlessly due to their devoted sincerity.
The crucial difference between the Prophet's Hijrah and Umar's:The Prophet PBUH was one man who came to this life and left it, but he left behind him a guidance that prevailed all over the globe; he turned societies upside down, and he spread virtue, mercy and guidance though he was one person. Allah, Exalted and Sublime be He, is there and He is watching you, so you should be effective as a Muslim.
Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud said about Umar, "We attained glory since Umar embraced Islam, for Umar's embracing Islam was our victory, his migration to Medinah was our success, and his reign was a blessing from Allah. We did not offer prayers in Al-Haram Masjid until Umar had accepted Islam. When he accepted Islam, Quraysh were compelled to let us pray in the Masjid." Beware of misunderstanding these words and say that Umar was braver than the Prophet PBUH. By Allah, this is not true.
((When the battle used to become fierce and the eyes seemed to be coming out of the sockets, we were to look for the Prophet PBUH in order to find a shelter behind him, as he was the closest one among us to the enemy.))
Listen carefully to this fact, Umar represented himself (when he immigrated publically not secretly), and his actions are not laws to other people, while the actions of the Prophet PBUH are laws to Muslims, so he was cautious (this explained why he immigrated secretly). Had he not used the available means in his immigration, going through perils would have become a Sunnah (to be followed by Muslims), and using means would have been considered Haram, so this is the difference (between immigrating publically by Umar and the secret immigration of the Prophet PBUH).
Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, is not a law-giver in Islam (unlike the Prophet PBUH), so if he was right in his decision (in immigrating publically), that was for his own benefit, and if he was wrong, that was on his head alone, but the Prophet PBUH is a law-giver. Herein lies the difference between the Islamic law and the personal standing regarding any matter.
Take for example the reaction of Ubu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, after he knew that the milk he drank had been from Haram means. He vomited it, so one may ask, is vomiting food (in cases like this) an Islamic law or a personal opinion (of Abu Bakr)? It is definitely a personal opinion which indicates his piety.
((Abu Bakr once came with everything he had, so the Prophet PBUH said: "O Abu Bakr! What did you leave for your family?" He said: "I left Allah and His Messenger for them."))
Giving all his money is the highest ranks of sacrifice, but is it an Islamic law? No, it is not. The majority of people are incapable of doing so. Hence, the Islamic law falls within the capabilities of the majority of Muslims not within the standards of the few excellent believers.
Umar's power was praised:According to biography writers, "In Jahiliyyah, his fighting against Islam was fiercer than the fighting of entire Quraysh, but when he embraced Islam, his fighting against paganism equaled the resistance of the entire Islam against it." -Umar was blessed with power (which he put at the disposal of Islam when he embraced it), and he used his power in fighting Islam (before his conversion). "In Jahiliyyah, his fighting against Islam was fiercer than the fighting of entire Quraysh, but when he embraced Islam, his fighting against paganism equaled the resistance of the entire Islam against it". This is why scholars said that "Umar was the Giant of Islam." Actually, he was a giant man even in his physical appearance; he was tall, he had wide shoulders and his body was built strongly. Thus, these scholars used the word "giant" to describe his faith as well.
Difference between prosperity and extremism:Dear brother, it is deemed important to know that there is a very slight difference between superiority and extremism, because when man inclines to extremism, he will be far from moderation. Allah says:
﴾Thus We have made you [true Muslims - real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation﴿
"Wasat" is different from "Wast"; the latter means in the middle, whereas the former means moderation. For instance, the moderate man is neither extremist nor coward, he is neither extravagant nor miserly and he is neither inactive nor impetuous. Hence, being Wasat indicates moderation, and the truth is in the middle of two extremes.
This notable companion was not an extremist, but rather he was superior. Extremism is like the horizontal movement, whereas superiority is like the vertical one. I advise you to stay away from extremism and become more inclined to superiority, and keep in mind that the more sincere, upright, sacrificial, devoted to seek Islamic knowledge the more superior you will be, but if you take a minor matter in Islam and you go to the extreme in applying it at the expense of major matters, you will be trapped in extremism, we seek refuge from such a thing. As a matter of fact, throughout Islamic history especially in the eras of backwardness, there was a chain of extreme measures that resulted in extreme reactions. We are looking for superiority not extremism.
I mentioned before that Allah the Almighty forbade us from extremism in religion in two Ayat. One of the most precise definitions of extremism is that the extremist might take one major matter in religion and make it the entire religion, he might take a minor matter in religion and make it as a major one or he might believe in someone to such an extent that he exalts him to a much higher rank than his real one. All these things are aspects of extremism.
An expository example:I would like to make the difference between superiority and extremism clear by the following example. When a 10 year old child grows up normally this resembles moderation, but the child whose cells randomly grow at the expense of other cells, is actually afflicted with a disease, and this resembles extremism. Accordingly, extremism is a random uncontrolled growth of one side at the expense of the other, whereas moderation is a normal balanced growth.
The superior person develops a balanced mind, heart and deeds, and so he is stabilized. On the other hand, if we think about things rationally ignoring the heart, we will fall in Sophism, if we ponder over them with our heart only, we will fall in atheism and if we reflect on things with both the mind and the heart, but we fall short in deeds, we will waste our worldly life in the idle talk. If there is any hint of an Islamic awakening, the most lurking danger (against it) is extremism not superiority.
The incident when Umar embraced Islam:There are exciting events in the journey of this Khalifah to Islam. One day, according to writers of the Prophetic biography, this giant man stormed out of his house holding his sword and heading towards Dar-ul-Arqam where the Prophet PBUH used to meet his followers and remember Allah there. Umar went there (to Dar-ul-Arqam) resolved to kill Muhammad PBUH, and thus he would relieve Quraysh of its burden, restore its ravaged unity, and re-establish respect for the gods that Muhammad PBUH had castigated. On the road to Makkah he was met by Nu'aym ibn Abdullah. He said, "Where are you going?" Umar said, "I intend to kill Muhammad." He said, "How will you be secure from the tribe of Hashim and the tribe of Zahra if you killed Muhammad?" Umar said, "It should be done to an apostate." He said, "What if I told you something amazing? Your brother-in-law and your sister have become apostates and have abandoned your religion." So Umar came to them while they were both with Khabbab, and he heard the recitation (they were reading Surah Ta-Ha). He entered the house and he said, "What was this sound?" They both said, "It was nothing." Umar said, "Perhaps you two have become apostates?" His brother-in-law said, "O Umar, what if the truth is in other than your religion?" Umar started beating him severely, and when his sister came to defend to him, Umar struck her on face, making her bleed. She was angry, and she said, "The truth is in other than your religion; I testify that there is no Deity worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad PBUH is His servant and His Messenger."
The paradigm shift:At this point, a change hit Umar's heart and his enmity to this religion stopped suddenly. Umar said, "Bring me the book which you were reciting." His sister said, "Indeed, you are impure, and it should only be touched by those who are clean." So Umar washed and cleaned himself. Then, he took the book and he read:
﴾Ta-Ha. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.]* We have not sent down the Qur'an unto you (O Muhammad PBUH) to cause you distress* But only as a Reminder to those who fear (Allah)* A revelation from Him (Allah) Who has created the earth and high heavens* The Most Beneficent (Allah) Istawa (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty)* To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and all that is between them, and all that is under the soil* And if you (O Muhammad PBUH) speak (the invocation) aloud, then verily, He knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden* Allah! La ilahla illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He)! To Him belong the Best Names.﴿
He continued reading:
﴾"Verily! I am Allah! La ilaha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me, and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) for My Remembrance* "Verily, the Hour is coming and My Will is to keep it hidden that every person may be rewarded for that which he strives* "Therefore, let not the one who believes not therein (i.e. in the Day of Resurrection, Reckoning, Paradise and Hell, etc.), but follows his own lusts, divert you therefrom, lest you perish.﴿
Umar became a new person, he held the book and kissed it, then he stood up and said, "He, Whose Words are these, is Exalted to have partners in worship beside Him. Take me to Muhammad." When Khabbab heard what Umar said, he came out of his hiding place and said to him, "Rejoice, O Umar, for I hope the Du'a of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, which he made five nights ago will be answered:
(("O Allâh! Give strength to Islam especially through either of two men you love more: 'Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham." 'Umar, obviously, was the one who merited that privilege.))
This is how repentance should be:When Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, met the Prophet PBUH he said, "O Rasulullah, would we not be right, regardless whether we live or die?" He said "Indeed, I swear by Him in whose hand my soul stands, that you are right whether you live or die." Umar then said, "Why hide then? I swear by Him who sent you with the Message of truth that you should come out."
After he knew the truth, whose light got to his heart, he said, "I should go as a believer to whatever place I used to go to when I was a disbeliever." This indicates that repentance must be accompanied by three crucial factors: Knowledge, attitude and taking an action. Acknowledging the sin makes man react and this reaction is manifested in regretting the sin. After that man takes an action, and scholars said that the action is fixing the past, deserting the sin in the present and having a strong will to avoid committing it in the future.
The reason behind changing direction:
((Narrated Abu Huraira: Some people asked the Prophet: "Who is the most honorable amongst the people?" He replied, "The most honorable among them is the one who is the most Allah-fearing." They said, "O Allah's Prophet! We do not ask about this." He said, "Then the most honorable person is Joseph, Allah's Prophet, the son of Allah's Prophet, the son of Allah's Prophet, the son of Allah's Khalil." They said, "We do not ask about this." He said, "Then you want to ask me about the Arabs' descent?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Those who were best in the pre-lslamic period, are the best in Islam, if they comprehend (the religious knowledge).))
What exactly happened to make Umar change dramatically to the opposite direction? One might wonder, can this ever happen? Can faith be attained overnight? Can faith penetrate someone's heart in the blink of an eye? Yes this can happen, and you can notice that in the reaction of the magicians of Fir'aun; did he not use them against the truth that was put forth by Musa (Moses) PBUH? They turned without any hesitation from people who used to serve falsehood to people with a very exalted level of faith, didn't they? When Fir'aun knew that they believed in Musa, he threatened them of being killed, crucified and tortured, but his threats fell on deaf ears, and their response was as follows:
﴾ They said: "We prefer you not over the clear signs that have come to us, and to Him (Allah) Who created us. So decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree (regarding) this life of the world* "Verily! We have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us. And Allah is better as regards reward in comparison to your [Fir'aun's (Pharaoh)] reward, and more lasting (as regards punishment in comparison to your punishment)."
Does time count in reaching the peak of exaltedness in faith?I would like to comment on the ones who can reach faith so fast (as Umar may Allah be pleased with him) and hope my words will be clear to you. Man might spend lots of years to reach faith through which he ponders over Allah's Sings, and he strives to conquer his desires till he reaches the brightness of faith. In other cases this brightness of faith might be casted into man's heart in a very short period of time, but why? That is because of sincerity while seeking the truth In other words, you should be sincere with yourself in seeking the truth, and so you will keep restless even at night till you reach it.
According to scholars, sincerity religiously speaking indicates how serious one is in seeking the truth, and how much determined and zealous he is in that quest. When man is sincere in seeking the truth, he will jump quantum leaps in reaching it. In the western advanced countries, the educational system allows superior students to reach higher classes in shorter time (unlike our educational system). As for having faith in a short time, Allah the Almighty has the Will and in His Hand is the Action, so some scholars said that "if Allah finds high levels of sincerity in someone, He will give him from His Blessings in shorter time more than He gives the one whose sincerity is less in a longer period of time." Also, other scholars said in this respect, "High ranks are gained by the sincere one, not the ones who come first."
Someone might spend 30 years attending religious sessions, but he does not change that much, whereas another one might attend only few sessions, yet he becomes exalted more than those who spend 10 or 20 years attending religious sessions. Thus, sincerity is what really counts, not precedence. It is said, "There are men of Allah, if they will, He wills." The more sincere you are (with yourself in seeking the truth), the more amazing things Allah will show you, for you will be given Divine Prosperity, Honor, Support, Triumph and Power to which believers will be gravitated. It is narrated in the relic:
((Whoever approaches his Lord, Allah will make the hearts of believers have affection and mercy towards him.))
One of the diseases of our era:Nowadays, we suffer from a serious disease that is called courtesy, and the members of the society where this disease prevails never advise one another. Let alone, in such society interests become more important than principles and every individual is self-centered, so sh3er' matters are out of his concern. Some clever people who are not religiously committed suffer from this disease as they wear different masks which suit the people they meet in their daily life. Hence, they give someone the impression that they are close to him, but they give the same impression to his competitor or those he does not agree with. Also, if they sit with someone who adopts certain principles, they pretend to adopt them, and they praise them to such an extent that you think they really abide by these principles (only they do not). This courtesy (or hypocrisy) stands in the way of spreading the truth.
You should wish guidance to the one who is conquered by his desires:If you meet with someone who does not offer Salah or who does not have faith, yet he is chivalrous, he owns the sense of honor, he is honest and he has a merciful heart, you can predict that a great goodness will come out of him, and that he will become one of the sincere believers, simply because such traits lead its owner to have faith. When the Prophet PBUH once met a man who embraced Islam and in Jahiliyyah he used to have good conducts, the Prophet PBUH said:
((You accepted Islam with all the previous virtues that you practiced.))
Dear brother, whenever you meet someone among your neighbors, relatives, colleagues or friends who is honest, who owns the sense of honor and who never fears sh3er' criticism in saying the truth, but he falls short in abiding by Islam or in believing in Allah, you should guide him to Allah, because when his faith gets stronger, his goodness will be at the service of Muslims.
Hatred should be towards the deed, not the doer:When Umair bin Wahab came to Madinah to kill the Prophet PBUH holding his poisoned sword, he was spotted by Umar and the latter saw the evil written all over Umair, so he grabbed him and took him to the Prophet PBUH and said, "O Messenger of Allah, Umair has come here only for an evil purpose." You know the rest of the story and how Umair embraced Islam before he left the Prophet PBUH. What did Umar say after Umair embraced Islam? He said, "By Allah, I hated him more than I hated a pig, when he appeared. But now, I love him more than I love some of my sons."
Allow me to tell you something: if the deviated man who used to mock Islam and Muslims repents to Allah and reconciles with Him, your hatred towards him should turn into love, lest you will not be considered a believer. Therefore, what marks your faith is refraining from hating anyone in person, because your hatred should be towards his principles, so if he deserts the unacceptable principles he used to adopt, he should become a brother of yours in Islam, and this but indicates your faith.
The purpose of these lectures:This companion (i.e. Umar) has a long story to tell, and I ask Allah to allow us to know him and to follow his steps. I hope that the historical facts (we learn) turn into a behavior that we adopt, so try not to keep them mere historical stories which we read to fill our spare time, for in that case they will be purposeless. You may notice that I eliminate controversial historical events which might be misunderstood or misinterpreted, because we should read the historical events which motivate us positively and stay away from those which burden us. Let us make these historical stories our motive to have deeper faith.