Umar: The Man Satan Feared

Tradition and stubbornness tied his hands. Five years passed before these ties were broken. The sun rose and set hundreds of times during five years. He slept and awoke hundreds of times. But his hands were always bound.  His being able to easily move his hands and arms fooled him. The acts of pulling his sword, putting a water jug on his head and brandishing his spear did not allow him to see the ties. What was happening in Mecca? Five years had passed since Muhammad (pbuh) announced his apostleship. There were a handful of people around him. They met secretly in private houses. What were they after? A tall, light-complexioned and imposing man, Umar was beside himself when he learned that his sister had become Muslim. Ignoring that she was pregnant, he beat her. Infuriated, he went to the Kaaba. It was nighttime. Muhammad had entered the Kaaba and was performing salat. Hidden under the covers of the Kaaba, Umar was listening to him curiously. After the Prophet finished his worship, he followed him. Realizing that he was being followed, the Prophet asked, "Who's there?" "Umar!" replied a voice from the dark. "Hey, Umar! You are with me day and night!" responded Muhammad. At that moment Umar became aware of the ties that he had not been able to see for five years. Saying that there was no god but Allah and that Muhammad was His prophet, he chose freedom.

No one had taken up being Muslim as enthusiastically as Umar. His cries of Taqbir resounded in the streets, and he imprinted the number 40 on the spirits of the 39 who had become Muslim before him like a hot branding iron. Umar did not try and hide his being a Muslim. He called Muslims to walk saying, "I am going to proclaim my being Muslim just as I proclaimed my being a pagan," and the river flowing nobly to the Kaaba had Hamza at the head of one wing and Umar at the head of the other. On the day that Umar became Umar the verse, "Hey, My Messenger! Allah is enough for you and the believers who follow you," (Anfal, 64) was revealed. The period of openly conveying the call to Islam began with him.

It bothered Umar that other Muslims were being beaten while he was left untouched. According to the Koran, honor belonged to believers. For this reason, it did not take him long to reject and return his uncle's protection. Great! Now he was like the other Muslims. He was frequently being stopped and beaten, but he walked with his head held high. In the Prophet's words, Almighty Allah had put truth in Umar's tongue and heart. His mind and spirit were completely in harmony with the divine will, so much so that when he presented a view, verses supporting that view were revealed. His protests against Badr captives being set free for ransom and the funeral prayer being made for hypocrite Ibn Ubey b, Selul were attributed to his harsh nature, but verses revealed later on supported Hz. Umar. He did have a harsh nature; however, this enabled him to be uncompromising on the subject of sensitivity to religion. Satan was afraid to meet him. The Prophet Muhammad said, "There is no angel in the sky that does not respect Umar, and there is no devil on earth that does not escape from Umar."

He was serious and brave. His words reflected stability, trust and determination. His faith in and dedication to the Messenger of Allah took precedence over everything else. Umar would cry when the Prophet cried and smile when the Prophet smiled. Regarding the Black Stone, he said, "I know you are a stone that doesn't give harm or benefit. I swear that if I had not seen the Messenger of Allah kissing you, I would not kiss you either." He saw his honor in his loyalty to Islam, and he emphasized that he expected those who sought it elsewhere to be humiliated. He would say, "The one who is actually plundered is the one who plunders religion." According to him, it was necessary to look at the truth of what someone said, whether he returned something entrusted, and his not giving harm with his hands or tongue, rather than looking at his fasting and praying.

Since this world will be bid farewell in a short time, one should count himself among the dead in order to remain alive. And he did. He did not give the world more value than it deserves. After standing by a garbage heap for some time, he approached his friends. When they voiced their discomfort in regard to the smell which had permeated his clothing, Umar said, "This is the condition of the world that you constantly talk about and strive to obtain." He saw that when one desires the world, he harms his afterlife and when one desires the afterlife, he harms this world. He chose to harm this passing world. Of course, this is not something to prevent one from performing worldly duties. Fathers should teach their children reading and writing, swimming, archery, horseback riding, and poetry. There should be physical and spiritual balance. Friends should be made from responsible people, and stupid people should be avoided. People should be evaluated by their levels and work should be given according to their capacities. A man who wants to be free should not be in debt. Only individuals can live Allah's religion who are not flatterers, who do not pursue unfounded suspicions, who do not slacken their efforts, and who do not hide the truth in order to support their partisans.

And one day the duty of continuing Allah's religion was given to Umar. On the day Abu Bakr died the rays of the morning sun fell on Umar's pen and sword.


His name was written on the paper. Abu Bakr had wanted that name. Some said, "You know that Umar has a harsh nature. What will you say if your Lord questions you as to why you appointed Umar as caliph?" Abu Bakr replied, "I'll say that I made the best of Allah's servants caliph." And finally this command came true; it was Umar's turn to ascend the pulpit. His first words were: "My God! I am a harsh and violent person; make me gentler. I am weak; make me strong! I am stingy; make me generous!"

Some said, "You know that Umar has a harsh nature. What will you say if your Lord questions you as to why you appointed Umar as caliph?" Abu Bakr replied, "I'll say that I made the best of Allah's servants caliph." 

Almighty Allah did not make Umar gentler. More correctly, He softened his heart towards the weak, but not the powerful. His harshness towards administrators under him never decreased. Saying, "If one of my administrators does injustice and I don't correct him, I will be the one who has acted unjustly," he always tried to be informed on what was being done. According to him, the ignorance that Allah dislikes most is the ignorance of a state ruler. For this reason, he feared that a village on the banks of the Euphrates would turn into a question mark in the other world. For this reason, when the son of Egyptian Governor Amr b. As, who had lost a race, said to a Gypsy, "Here's an aristocratic blow," and then hit him, Umar responded, "Since when did you enslave people who were born free from their mothers!"

The conquest of Egypt by Amr b. As did not prevent Umar's anger, because the purpose of conquest is to allow the shadow of justice to fall on the people conquered, not to overshadow justice. The lack of success of the two great powers of the time, Byzantium and Persia, was due to the oppression they made to their own people. Cities fell one after another. First Syria broke off from Byzantine rule and then Egypt. On the other hand, Iran was shaken by the Qadisiye victory and the fire of the Magians was extinguished in all Persian lands as far as Khorasan. After the conquest of Syria was complete, Muslims moved their activities to the west and turned in the direction of Jerusalem, one of the miraj steps of our Prophet. The besiegement gave results; however, Christians had one demand for surrendering: Umar had to take over the city himself. Umar was informed of the situation by letter. Entering Jerusalem at the head of the army in a patched garment, Umar astonished the people of the city who were accustomed to the magnificence of their own leaders. Just like the day he entered Damascus on his camel. Those who said, "Hey caliph of the Muslims! If you had ridden a horse, prominent members of the city would have come to meet you!" were astonished with the caliph's reply as he pointed towards the sky: "I can't see you there! My orders only come from there. Get out of the way of my camel!"

Umar said, "If I wanted to, I would be the best dressed among you, eat the most delicious food, and live in the greatest comfort." Of course, a person's desires would be different whose hair stood on end when it was said, "A person will go to hell," and who shook with hope when it was said, "One person will go to heaven." For example, first he wanted his family to apply rules. He warned them, "People will watch you like a wild bird follows meat. If you violate commands, your punishment will be greater. For example, he asked for help from Ahnef b. Qays who saw him trying to catch a camel. Raising his voice, he said, "Let's catch this animal together. A camel belonging to the state has escaped. Do you know how many people have a right on this property?" Some asked the caliph, "Why are you bothering with this? Why don't you have a slave do this job?" In response to this question, he replied: "Who is a better slave than me?"

Umar had other desires as well. For example, he asked his governors to resist the ostentatious lifestyle of the Byzantines and Sassanids, and he outlawed building palaces. In order to prevent the army from mixing with the people and becoming degenerated, he commanded the establishment of special military headquarter cities. He wanted administrators to register their property and wealth. He ended the dominance of foreign currency by printing money. Taking into consideration the urgent need of Muslims for a calendar, he began the Hegira calendar. Wanting good works to be given priority, he established the principle, "Everything has an honor; the honor of goodness is to do it immediately."

According to him, whoever won by foul means was actually the defeated party, and anyone who obtained victory by sinful means was not victorious. One morning evil struck Umar at the time of the morning prayer. "A dog struck me," moaned Umar. He learned the identity of his murderer while he was losing blood and he was happy, because his killer was not a Muslim. He learned his killer and was sad, because his murderer was a person who had done good works. Before dying Umar  had one last wish: He wanted to be buried next to the Prophet... He asked others to tell Aisha, "Umar is waiting for permission to be buried next to his friend Muhammad (pbuh)!" Sobbing, Aisha gave permission. Umar did not die until he received the good news. His last words were: "Praise to Allah! Nothing could be more important for me than this!"

And this imposing man whom the Prophet called "My eyes!" left this world like this.

Poet and writer Ali Ural continues to write about the Companions of the Prophet that reflect his light and radiance


Haris Saeed
Haris Saeed19.07.2014

Exceptional article sir ! Well composed and truly informational.