Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) was known for his great knowledge and wisdom. He often expressed his thoughts in words conspicuous for their wisdom. A number of his sayings have come down to us, and these show the depths and dimensions of his thoughts and expressions. “Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by God’s decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot flee.”
Throughout history there have been over hundreds of influential people. According to Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 “Most Influential People in the World”, in it was: Barack Obama; Mitt Romney; Hillary Clinton; Warren Buffett; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Pippa Middleton; Tim Tebow; Jeremy Lin and Matt Lauer. There is no doubt that these people have influenced the world, but according to Michael H. Hart who wrote a book entitled “THE 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” in 1978. Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) is amongst one of the most influential people in history.
It was a huge surprise that Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) was on the list, although he wasn’t the first on the list (it was the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) he was 52nd on the list. He ranked him higher than many of the more famous men such as Charlemagne and Julius Caesar. He further says that Umar’s brilliant leadership was responsible for the expansion of the Islamic territory and he also says that Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) ordered the Muslim armies to leave the natives of the conquered land in peace and ordered the military personnel not to force the natives to convert to Islam.
Umar is probably one of the most common Muslim names. Many parents choose this name because it honors an important figure in Islam, the second Caliph. Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) went from one of Islam’s strongest opponent to Islam’s most committed believers.
There is a limited amount of information of Umar (RA)’s early life. As a youth he tended to his father’s camels. As a young man, Umar (RA) learned martial arts, horseback riding, and wrestling. He was also described as being tall and physically strong, because of these attributes he was
feared by many. In Arabia, literacy was uncommon, during that time, but Umar (RA) was amongst the little that was actually literate. He was described as being a gifted public speaker.
When Islam first started, Umar (RA) strongly opposed it. He even threatened to and attempted to kill the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Umar (RA)’s conversion to Islam is a well-known story all Muslims. On his way to killing the Prophet, his friend, who had secretly become a Muslim, diverted Umar from his goal by telling him that his own sister and brother-in-law had become Muslim. Umar went to his sister’s house and found them reading a part of the Qur’an. When his sister tried to protect her husband from Umar, he hit her causing her to bleed. He then felt guilty and asked to see what they were reading. When he read the excerpt from the Qur’an, Umar was mesmerized by its beauty and went that day to the Prophet and declared his shahadah.
When Umar (RA) entered Islam it was considered an important event in the Muslim Community. Before Umar (RA) entered the Muslims used to practice in secret, but after he converted, he asked the Prophet why the Muslims didn’t practice their faith openly, and which led them to star praying in the Ka’bah. Umar was a great asset to the Muslims; He went so far as to threaten anyone who interfered with the Muslims who wanted to pray at the holy sanctuary. For this action, the Prophet Muhammad gave him the title Al-Farooq (the one who knows truth from falsehood).
Umar (RA) was known for being deeply dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was known as great political and military leader when he was Caliph. Umar participated in all the major battles between the Muslims and the Meccans. He was one of the Prophets close advisors. Umar (RA)’s daughter, Hafsa married the Prophet, putting Umar (RA) on a familial level with the Prophet. Umar (RA)’s love for the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was so great that it is recorded that upon the Prophet’s death, he threatened to kill anyone who said he had died. It was only when he heard Abu Bakr’s speech that he accepted the reality of his passing.
After the Prophet passed away, Abu Bakr (RA) became the first Caliph, and
Umar (RA) helped advise him as well. When Abu Bakr (RA) died, he wanted Umar to be succeeding him. Umar (RA) became the second of the Rightly Guided Caliphs serving from 634-644, when he was assassinated. In 644, while he was praying fajr he was stabbed repeatedly in the back. Before dying four days later, Umar appointed a council to decide his successor. He was buried next to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Abu Bakr (RA) in Medina.
Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) was both a loved and feared Caliph. He was very concerned with the well-being of the poor and unprivileged and led a serious lifestyle. As a Caliph, he was known for his intelligence, political leadership, impartiality, and justice. Under his leadership, the Islamic Empire spread rapidly. By the time of his death, the Empire extended from Libya in the west to Persia in the east. He had given this world many contributions like the establishment of the Islamic calendar and the founding of Islamic jurisprudence, Fiqh.