Description: This book is a try to introduce the biography of the Companion Omar ibn Al-Khattab in a simple way. It shows his ancestry and attributes, his life before Islam, his acceptance of Islam, revelation of the Quran agreeing with his opinions and his life as a caliph.
Reviewing: Osama Emara
1. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab: Ancestry and Attributes 3
2. Umar ibn Al-Khattab in the Pre-Islamic Society 4
3. Converting to Islam 5
4. His Migration to Madinah 7
5. Selected Instances of Umar’s Biography 7
6. Revelation of the Qur’an Agreeing With His Opinion 7
7. His Asceticism 8
8. Abu Bakr’s Appointment of Umar as His Successor 9
9. The Speech Given by Umar When he Became Caliph 11
10. Sayings of Umar that Became Well Known Wisdom 12
11. His Advice to the Army 13
12. The Martyrdom of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) 13
13. References: 16
14. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in Brief 18
In the name of Allah most Gracious Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah, and prayers and peace be upon the Prophet
Mohammad and his sanctified and dedicated Companions, as
well as all their followers till the Day of Judgment.
This is the third issue within the series of Men and Women
Around Mohammad (prayers and peace of Allah be upon him).
It considers the personality and era of Al Farooq Umar Ibn Al-
Khattab, the second caliph and the best of the noble
Companions after Abu Bakr Al-Seddiq may Allah be pleased
with them all.
The life of Al Farooq Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be
pleased with him) is a shining page of Islamic history, which
outshines and supersedes all other histories. The history of all
nations put together does not contain even a part of what his life
contained of noble conduct, glory, sincerity, jihad, and calling
others for the sake of Allah. To present this issue we began to
review his life and times in the reference books and resources,
and we analyzed it, verified it and put it in order so that it would
become accessible to the readers, so that they may benefit from
it in their lives by following his example, and that Allah may
bestow upon them success in this world and in the Hereafter.
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab: Ancestry and Attributes
His full name was Umar ibn Al-Khattab ibn Nufayl ibn Abdul-
Uzza. He was known as Abu Hafs and earned the nickname of
Al Farooq (the Criterion) because he showed his Islam openly in
Makkah and through him Allah distinguished between disbelief
and faith. was born in 583 AC, thirteen years after the year of
the Elephant. His father was Al-Khattab ibn Nufayl, and his
grandfather Nufayl was one of those whom Quraysh used to
refer for judgment. His mother was Hantamah bint Hashim bin
With regard to his physical characteristics, he was white with a
reddish complexion. He was muscular, tall, solid and bald. He
was very strong, not weak or puny. When he walked, he walked
quickly, when he spoke, he spoke clearly, and when he stuck, he
caused pain (Al-Sayed,1996).
Umar ibn Al-Khattab in the Pre-Islamic Society
Umar spent half of his life in the pre-Islamic society
‘Jahiliyah’, and grew up like his peers of Quraysh, except that he
has an advantage over them in that he was one of those who had
learned to read, of whom there were very few. He bore
responsibility at an early age, and had a very harsh upbringing
in which he knew no type of luxury or manifestation of wealth.
His father Al-Khattab forced him to tend his camels. His father’s
harsh treatment had a negative effect on Umar which he
remembered all his life. Undoubtedly, this job -tending
livestock- which was the constant work of Umar in Makkah,
before he entered Islam, caused him to acquire good
characteristics, such as forbearance, patience and toughness. But
tending sheep was not the only work that the son of Al-Khattab
did during the pre-Islamic era (Ibraheem, 2005: 226).
From his early youth he also excelled in many kinds of sports,
such as wrestling, riding and horsemanship. He enjoyed and
narrated poetry, and he was interested in the history and affaires
of his people. He was keen to attend the great fairs of the Arabs,
such as Ukaz, Mijannah and Dhu al-Majaz, where he would
make the most of the opportunity to engage in trade and learn
the history of the Arabs, and the battles and contests that had
taken place among the tribes. Besides, he engaged in trade and
profited, which made him one of the rich men of Makkah. He
became acquainted with many people in the countries that he
visited for the purpose of trade. He travelled to Syria in the
summer and Yemen in the winter. Thus, he occupied a
prominent position in Makkan society during the pre-Islamic
era, and played an effective role in shaping events. He was
assisted by the outstanding history of his forefathers. His
grandfather Nufayl ibn Abdul-Uzza was one to whom Quraysh
referred their disputes for judgment, and his ancestor Kaab was
held in high esteem by the Arabs. They had recorded their
history from the year of his death until the event of the Elephant.
Umar inherited this status from his forefathers which brought
him a great deal of knowledge about the life and circumstances
of the Arabs, in addition to his own smartness and intelligence.
So they would come to him to resolve their disputes (Al-Ani &
Zaien, 1989: 16).
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was wise, eloquent,
well spoken, strong, tolerant, noble, persuasive and clear of
speech, which made him qualified to be an ambassador for
Quraysh, to speak up for them before the other tribes. Ibn al-
Jawzi said: the role of ambassador fell to Umar ibn Al-Khattab. If
there was a war between Quraysh and another tribe, they would
send him as an ambassador, and if another tribe was boasting
against them, they would send him to respond in kind, and they
were pleased with him (Ibn Al-Jawzi, 2001: 11).
Umar lived during the pre-Islamic era and knew it inside out.
He knew its true nature, its customs and traditions, and he
defended it with all the power he possessed. Therefore, when he
entered Islam he understood its beauty and true nature, and he
recognized the great difference between guidance and
misguidance, disbelief and faith, truth and falsehood, and he
spoke his famous words: “The bonds of Islam will be undone
one by one when there will be a generation brought up in Islam
who do not know what ignorance is” (Aashour, 1998: 144).
Converting to Islam
The first ray of the light of faith that touched his heart came
on when he saw the women of Quraysh leaving their homeland
and travelling to a distant land because of the persecution that
they were facing from Umar and other unbelievers. His
conscious was moved, and he felt remorse and pity for them,
and he spoke kind words to them which they had never
expected to hear from his person beforehand (Tantawi,
Umm Abdullah bint Hantamh said: when we were migrating to
Abyssinia, Umar, who used to persecute us mercilessly, came
and stood over and said to me: are you leaving? I said: Yes, for
you have persecuted us and oppressed us, and by Allah we are
going out in the land of Allah until Allah grants us a way out.
Then Umar said: may Allah be with you. And I saw kindness that
I had never seen before.
Umar was moved by this woman’s attitude and he felt
distressed. How much suffering the followers of this new religion
were putting up with, but despite that they were standing firm.
What was the secret beyond this extraordinary strength? He felt
sad and his heart was filled with pain (Al-Sharqawi, 1988: 9).
Shortly after this incident, Umar became Muslim as a result of
the prayers of the messenger Mohammad (prayers and peace be
upon him), which was the main reason for his acceptance of
Islam. The Prophet Mohammad had prayed for him saying: “Oh
Allah, support Islam with the more beloved of these two men to
You: Abu Jahl ibn Hisham or Umar ibn Al Khattab”. And the
more beloved of them to Allah was Umar (Al-Tirmidhi, 1978:
Umar became Muslim in Dhu al-Hijjah of the sixth year of the
Prophet-hood, when he was twenty-seven years old. He
accepted Islam three days after Hamzah, the Prophet’s uncle. At
that time the Muslims numbered thirty-nine. Umar said: “I
remember that when I became Muslim, there were just thirty-
nine men with the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be
upon him), and I brought the number to forty.” Thus, Allah
caused His religion to prevail and grant glory to Islam (Al-Suyuti,
Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood said: “We felt a sense of pride when
Umar became Muslim, for we could not circumambulate the
Holy Mosque and pray, until Umar became Muslim. When he
became Muslim, he fought them until they sent us free. Then we
prayed and circumambulated the Ka’bah.” He also said: “Umar’s
becoming a Muslim was a victory, his migration was help, and
his caliphate was a mercy. We could not pray or
circumambulate the House until Umar became Muslim. When
he became Muslim, he fought the unbelievers until they left us
alone and let us pray.” (Ibn Sa’ad, V.3:269)
His Migration to Madinah
When Umar decided migrate to Madinah, he insisted on
doing so openly. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him)
said: “Ali bin Abi Talib said to me: ‘I do not know of any of the
migrants who did not migrate in secret, except Umar ibn Al-
Khattab. When he decided to migrate, he put on his sword, put
his bow over his shoulder, picked up his arrows and carried his
stick. He went out to the Ka’bah, where a number of Quraysh
were gathered in its courtyard, and circumambulated the House
seven times, at a leisurely pace. Then he went to the Maqam and
prayed tranquilly. Then he went to the circles of people, one by
one, and said to them, ‘May your faces become ugly! Allah will
only rub theses noses in the dust. Whoever wants his mother to
be bereft of him and his children to become orphans and his
wife to become a widow, let him meet me behind this valley,’
‘Ali said, ‘No one followed him except a few of those who were
weak and oppressed. He taught them and told them about Islam,
then he went on his way.’ ” (Al-Sayed, 1996: 30).
Selected Instances of Umar’s Biography
Revelation of the Qur’an Agreeing With His Opinion
Narrated Anas: that Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)
said, “I had the same idea as Allah in three things: I said, ‘O
Allah’s Messenger! I wish that you take the station of Ibrahim as
a place of prayer.’ So Allah revealed:
“And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim [or
the stone on which Ibrahim stood while he was building the
Ka’bah] as a place of prayer.” (Al-Baqarah: 125)
He also said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! (prayers and Peace be
upon him) Good and bad people enter upon your wives, I wish
that you order them to cover themselves with veils.’ So the
verses of Al-Hijab (i.e. veiling of the women) were revealed. The
wives of the Prophet (prayers and Peace be upon him) gathered
against him and I said to them: ‘It may be If he divorced you (all)
that his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you.’
Thereupon Allah revealed a verse with similar wordings.” (Al-
Bukhari and Muslim).
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was most humble to
Allah and led an austere life. His food was very coarse and he
would patch his cloth with leather. He used to carry a water skin
on his shoulders in spite of his great esteem. He used to laugh
little and never joked with anyone. Engraved on his ring was:
“Death is sufficient as an admonition, O’ Umar.”
When he was appointed as the Caliph, he said: “Nothing is
permissible (for me) from the treasury more than two clothes,
one for the cold season and the other for the dry season. The
sustenance of my family will be the equivalent of an average
man of Quraish and not the rich amongst them, for I am just an
ordinary man among the Muslims (i.e. nothing special about
O’ Creator of these men, glory be to you. See what the Qur’an
did to the soul of these people. Return your gaze, dear readers,
and see the condition of the Caliph and what was sufficient for
him. May Allah bless the right religion that groomed them and
may He bless the Prophet that taught them.
Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (one of the Companions, may
Allah bless him) said: “As for Abu Bakr, he never desired the
world and the world did not desire him. As for Umar, the world
desired him but he never desired the world. As for us, we have
been soiled by the world inside-out.”
At the time of drought, Umar (may Allah be pleased with
him), ate bread and oil until his skin turned pale dark and he
would say: “What a bad leader I am if I eat my fill and the
people go hungry.” (Ibn Katheer, 1988, V.5: 214).
Abu Bakr’s Appointment of Umar as His Successor
When Abu Bakr’s sickness grew intense, the people gathered
around him and he said: “There has befallen me what you see
and I think I am going to die soon. Allah has freed you from your
oath of alliance to me, and your oath is no longer binding. Your
affairs are in your hands, so appoint over you whomever you
like. If you appoint someone whilst I am still alive, I think it is
less likely that you will become divided after I am gone.” (Ibn
Katheer, 1988, V.7:18).
The Companions consulted one another, each of them trying
to refuse the position of Caliph for himself and seeking it for his
brother whom he thought was fit and qualified for it. Hence they
came back to him and said: “We have decided to leave it to you,
O’ Successor of the Messenger of Allah.” He said: “Give me time
so that I may choose someone who will be most pleasing to
Allah, most protective of His religion and His slaves.
Abu Bakr wanted to tell the people himself whilst he was
conscious and aware of what he was saying, so that there would
be no confusion. So he looked out over the people and said to
them: “Do you accept the one whom I appoint as your leader?
For by Allah I have tried to appoint the best; I have not
appointed a relative. I have appointed as your leader Umar ibn
al-Khattab, so listen to him and obey.” They said: “We will listen
and obey.” Then Abu Bakr turned in supplicating to Allah,
expressing his concern to his Lord. He said: “I have appointed
him not by the command of Your Prophet, seeking nothing but
what is in their best interests. I fear sedition for them and I have
thought long and hard about the matter. I have appointed over
them the best of them and the one who is most keen to lead
them in the right way. Now here I am with Your decree about to
be fulfilled. Take care of them after I am gone for they are Your
Umar inb al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with his) started to
act as the caliph of the Muslims as soon as Abu Bakr passed
away (Al-Shuja’a, 1999: 272).
It may be noted that Abu Bakr’s nomination of Umar ibn al-
Khattab could not have made him caliph unless it was based on
the consent of the majority. This was achieved when Abu Bakr
asked the people to look themselves for a successor to take the
reins of leadership after he died. They put the matter back in his
hands and said, we will follow your opinion. But Abu Bakr did
not nominate Umar until he consulted the most prominent
Companions. He asked each one individually, and when he
realized that they all agree, he announced his nomination of
Umar. So Abu Bakr’s choice was based on the general opinion
of the community as expressed through its most prominent
figures. Nonetheless, this nomination could not make Umar the
caliph except with the community’s consent, as the election of
the ruler is the entire right of the public, and the role of the
caliph is to act as an agent on behalf of the community. His
words indicate that the community is responsible to control its
own affairs (Al-Keelani, 1997: 172).
Hence, we see that the appointment of Umar was done in
accordance with the most sound and fair principles of
Hence, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) succeeded
Abu Bakr as a second Caliph on August 23, 634 AD.
Corresponding 22 of Jumad 2 nd , 13 AH. Umar was an expert
jurist and is best known for his justice, in the same way for
Muslims and non-Muslims. This value earned him the title of Al-
Farooq (the one who distinguishes between wright and wrong)
He was the first Caliph to be nominated as “Prince of the
Believers”. He is the one who founded the Lunar Calendar
(Hijri), (i.e. according to the date of Prophet Mohammad’s
migration to Medinah). In his era Islam gained a great position,
as the Islamic Empire expanded at an unprecedented rate ruling
the whole Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tripoli, Persia, Khurassan, Eastern
Anatolia, South Armenian and Sajistan. Umar is the first one
who conquered Jerusalem to be within the Muslim Empire, as it
is the first Qiblah and the third holiest city in Islam. Thus, the
Islamic Empire ruled the whole Sassanid Persian Empire and
more than two thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. His attacks
against the Sassanid Persian Empire resulted in the conquest of
the Persian Empire in less than two years. His political wisdom
and administrative ability were demonstrated in protecting the
unity of the state in spite of its growing scope and the increasing
population of varied ethnicity.
The Speech Given by Umar When he Became Caliph
It was reported that two days after Umar was appointed as
caliph, the people started talking and saying how worried they
were about his harshness punishments, so Umar realized that he
had to clarify the matter himself. He ascended the rostrum
(minbar) and addressed them, describing how the Prophet
(prayers and peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr had been
pleased with Umar when they died. Then he said:
“I have been appointed as your leader, O’ people, so
understand that this harshness has become less, and it will only
be applied to wrongdoers and oppressors. I will not permit
anyone to oppress anyone else or to transgress the rights of
others, but I will put his cheek on the ground and until he
submit to the truth. In contrast to that former harshness of mine,
I will lay my own cheek on the ground before those who are
humble and modest. O’ people, I make some promises to you,
which I will mention so that you will hold me to them. I promise
that I will not take anything of your taxes or of the booty (faya’)
that Allah grants to you, except in the proper manner. I promise
you that whatever I take, I will not spend it except in the proper
manner. I promise you that I will increase your stipends, if Allah
wills, and I will protect your boarders. I promise you that I will
not throw you into dangerous places or keep you away from
your families for a long time in order to guard the boarders.
When you are away in military campaigns, I will be responsible
for your children until you come back.
Fear Allah O’ slaves of Allah, and try to help me by keeping
your evil away from me and by enjoining what is good and what
is evil and by giving me sincere advice with regard to the way I
am running your affairs. I say these words of mine and I ask
Allah to forgive me and you.” (Majdalawi, 1998: 106).
From this speech we can perceive clearly the method that
Umar followed in his rule, from which he never deviated.
Sayings of Umar that Became Well Known Wisdom
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Whoever
concealed his secrets will have the choice (of telling whomever
he wants to tell), but whoever speaks or acts in a specious
manner should not blame anyone who thinks badly of him. Do
not think badly of a word spoken by your brother (fellow) when
you can still find good ways to interpret it. Think positively of
your brother until you are certain that he is not like that. Do not
swear a great deal lest Allah humiliate you. There is no better
reward for one who disobeys Allah concerning you that your
obeying Allah concerning him. You should seek sincere friends
and maintain good relations with them, for they are a pleasure at
times of ease and a support at times of hardship.” (Ibn Asaker,
These are well-expressed wisdom from which we may learn a
His Advice to the Army
Whenever Umar sent forth an army he would advise them to
fear Allah. Then he would say when the standard of war is
hoisted: ‘In the name of Allah and upon the help of Allah,
proceed with the backing of Allah and His support. Adhere to
truth and patience. Fight in the cause of Allah against those who
disbelieve in Allah and do not disobey, for Allah does not like
the disobedient. Do not be coward at the time of meeting (the
enemy) and do not mutilate when you have the upper hand, and
do not be immoderate when you conquer. Do not argue during
‘Do not kill women, the aging, and the children. Avoid killing
them when two enemies meet and in the heat of attack (in front
of your enemy). Do not go to the extreme with regard to spoils
of war, distance (your intention for) the sacred war –Jihad- from
seeking with it worldly honors, and rejoice at the profit that you
have gained from the transaction you have entered. That is
indeed the great success (Al-Baltaji, 2006).
The Martyrdom of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)
After the blessed journey of life that Umar undertook in Islam,
in which the earth was subjected to him. During his era the flag
of monotheism was hoisted at full mast in many territories, such
as Iraq, Tripoli, Jordan, Ahwaz, Nahawind, Khurassan, Palestine,
the East, Egypt and many other places. Now it is time for the
traveler to go home and to attain the goal for which he lived and
for which he died.
Imam ibn Kathir said: “When Umar concluded his rites of
Hajj in the year 23 of Hijrah, he made a stopover in a valley. He
prayed to Allah and cried to Him that he has become very old
and weak, meanwhile, his care and worries (the territories) have
spread wide and he is afraid of deterioration. So he asked Allah
to take him to Himself and to grant him martyrdom in the land
of the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) just as it is
narrated in the Sahih that he used to say: ‘Oh Allah! I ask you for
martyrdom in Your cause and death in the land of Your
Messenger.'” (Al-Bukhari, 3/ 30).
Allah accepted his prayers and combined there two requests
for him, and this was undoubtedly a great achievement. Allah
indeed kind to whom He wishes. It happened that Abu Lu’lu Al-
Fayruz, the Magian (the fire worshiper), who had a roman origin,
stabbed Umar while he was in the dawn prayer (al-fajr) with a
dagger of two blades. He stabbed him three times, one of these
below the naval. Hence, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him),
fell down bleeding copiously.
He asked Abdulrahman bin Awf to replace him to conclude
the prayer. Abu Lu’lu, who was a nonbeliever, withdrew with his
dagger but kept stabbing whoever came his way in the mosque
until he stabbed thirteen people out of which six died as a result
of their injuries. Abdullah bin Awf threw his robe on him and
when he realized that he was going to be overpowered, Abu
Lu’lu stabbed himself to death (may Allah’s curse be upon him).
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), was taken to his
house with blood gushing out from his wound. All of these
occurred before sunrise. He kept passing in and out of
consciousness. Then they reminded him of the prayer and he
came round and said, “Truly! He is not fortunate, in Islam,
whoever abounds it.” Then he prayed at its time (Ibn Katheer,
1988, V.5: 217).
Then Umar asked: “Who killed me?” they replied, “Abu
Lu’lua, the Magian.” Then Umar was delighted, and said: “Praise
be to Allah who Has not afflicted me from the hands of someone
who subscribes to monotheism. I used to forbid you from
sending to us any uncouth infidel but you disobeyed me.” Then
he said: “Call for my brothers.” They asked: “Who?” He said:
“Uthman, Ali, Talhah, Zubayr, Abdulrahman bin Awf, and Sa’d
bin Abi Waqqas.” So they were sent for.
When they arrived, Umar said: I have looked into the affairs
of the Muslims and I found you six the foremost and the smart. I
do not see the authority fitting for anyone except one of you. If
you are upright, then the affair of the people will be upright. If
there is disagreement, it is because you had disagreed (amongst
yourselves).” His blood was mopped for him, and he said:
“Consult for three days, and in the meantime, Suahyb should
lead the people in prayer.” They asked: “Who should we consult
with, O’ Prince of believers?” He replied: “Consult with the
Immigrants and the Supporters as well as the commanders of the
He requested for a drink of milk. When he drank it, the
whiteness of the milk could be seen oozing out from his wounds
and it was clear for them that he would die. He said: “The time
is now (i.e. of death). If I were to have the entire world, I would
have given it out to ransom myself from the horror of the point of
departure.” Then, his soul was taken. This happened on
Wednesday 26-12- 23 of Al Hejra, corresponding to 7 th of
November 644 AC. He was sixty three years old and his era
extended for ten years.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said about him: “Umar was to us an
invulnerable forte in Islam. People would enter into the fold of
Islam and they would not come out of it. Unfortunately, our forte
has been compromised and people are going out of it and they
are not returning to it.” (Al-Tabarani, 14466).
Peace be upon Umar ibn al-Khattab for eternity.
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Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in Brief
He is Umar ibn Al-Khattab ibn Nufayl. He was known as Abu
Hafs and earned the nickname of Al Farooq (the Criterion)
because he showed his Islam openly in Makkah and through
him Allah distinguished between disbelief and faith. Besides, he
was the first Caliph to be nominated as the “Prince of the
Umar was born in 583 AC, thirteen years after the year of the
Elephant. He was very strong, not weak or puny. When he
walked, he walked quickly, when he spoke, he spoke clearly,
and when he stuck, he caused pain.
Umar became Muslim in Dhu al-Hijjah of the sixth year of
the Prophet-hood, when he was twenty-seven years old. And
when he decided migrate to Madinah, he insisted on doing so
openly. Umar was most humble to Allah and led an austere life,
his food was very coarse. Engraved on his ring was: “Death is
sufficient as an admonition, O’ Umar”.
Umar succeeded Abu Bakr as a second Caliph on August 23,
634 AD. Corresponding 22 of Jumad 2 nd , 13 AH. Umar was an
expert jurist and is best known for his justice, in the same way
for Muslims and non-Muslims.
He is the one who founded the Lunar Calendar (Hijri), and in his
era Islam gained a great position.
He was granted martyrdom; it happened that Abu Lu’lu Al-
Fayruz, the Magian, who had a roman origin, stabbed Umar
while he was in the dawn prayer (al-fajr) with a dagger of two
blades. Soon his soul was taken. This happened on Wednesday
26-12- 23 AH, corresponding to 7 th of November 644 AC. He
was sixty-three years old and his era extended for ten years.
God bless Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and be pleased with him.
PROJECT – Just One Message
Project Manager Kamal Ahmad
Contact Person Obaida Alramahi
Imam (Arabisk talande) Ahmad Alsaegh
English interpretation Clark Gilliam
Translation by Manal Qutub