Umar ibn Al-Khattab, also spelled Omar (Arabic: عمر بن الخطاب, translit.: `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Umar Son of al-Khattab, was born 13 years after the Year of the Elephant in 577 CE – died 3 November 644 CE), was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs (successors) in history. He was a senior Sahaba of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He succeeded Abu Bakr (632–634) as the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate on 23 August 634. He was an expert Islamic jurist known for his pious and just nature. He is sometimes referred to as Umar I by historians of Islam, since a later Umayyad caliph, Umar II, also bore that name. According to Sunnis, Umar is the second greatest of the Sahaba after Abu Bakr.
Under Umar, the caliphate expanded at an unprecedented rate, ruling the Sasanian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. His attacks against the Sasanian Empire resulted in the conquest of Persia in fewer than two years (642–644). According to Jewish tradition, Umar set aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed them into Jerusalem and to worship.
Names and Lineage
His fullname was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb ibn Nufayl ibn ‘Abdul-‘Uzza ibn Riyāh ibn ‘Abdullāh ibn Qurut ibn Razah ibn ‘Adiyy ibn Ka’b ibn Lu’ayy At-Tabaqat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa’d. Chapter 3, p. 265.Mahd as-Sawāb by lbn ‘Abdul-Hādi. Chapter 1, p. 131. ibn Ghālib al-Qurashi al-‘Adawi. Mahd as-Sawāb fee Fadā’il Ameer al-Mu’mineen ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Chapter 1. p. 131.
He was known by the kunya Abu Hafs Saheeh at-Tawtheeq fee Seerah wa Hayāf al-Fārooq ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, p. 15. and earned the epithet Al-Farooq. Saheeh at-Tawtheeq fee Seerah wa Hayāf al-Fārooq ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, p. 15.
A number of his forefathers were held in high esteem by the Quraysh like his grandfather Nufayl ibn ‘Abdul-‘UzzaAl-Khaleefah al-Fārooq ‘Umar ibn al-Khatt Fārooq b, by Dr. al-‘Ani, p. 1 and Ka’b ibn Lu’ayy Tāreekh Khaleefah ibn Khayyāt, Pp. 1/7, quoting from Dr.al-‘Ani, p.16 who was also an ancestor of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Tāreekh Khaleefah ibn Khayyāt, Pp. 1/7, quoting from Dr.al-‘Ani, p.16, Chapter 1. p. 131.
‘Umar was a strong muscular individual who was taller than average with large hands and feet. He was bald, fair skinned with a reddish complexion, and had handsome features (cheeks, nose and eyes). Al-Khaleefah al-Fārooq ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb by al-Ani, p. 15. He had a large moustache dyed reddish from henna the ends of which he would twist when angry or agitated. He was known to walk quickly, speak clearly, and would cause pain to those who had the misfortune to be struck by him. Tahdheeb al-Asmā’ by an-Nawawi. Chapter 2, p.14. Awwaliyāit al-Fārooq by al-Qurashi p. 24.
Umar was not a man to marry women for the sake of companionship and pleasure, he married in order to have children. He said, “I do not come to women because of desire. Were it not for children, I would not care if I never saw a woman with my own eyes.” Ash-Shaykhān Abu Bala wa ‘Umar, ed. Dr. Ihsān Sadaqi, p. 227. He also said, “I force myself to have intercourse, hoping that Allah will bring forth from me a soul who will glorify and remember Him.” Fawā’id al-Kalām li’l-Khulafā’ al-Karām by Qāsim ‘Ashoor, p. 112.
During the Days of Ignorance Umar married Zaynab bint Madh’oon, the sister of ‘Uthmān ibn Madh’oon, and she bore him Hafsah, Abdur-Rahman and ‘Abdullāh.
Umar also married Maleekah bint Jarwal and Quraybah bint Abi Umayyah al-Makhzoomi. Both of which he divorced at Al-Hudaybiyah. During their marriage Maleekah bore a son ‘Ubaydullāh ibn Umar. Umar ibn Al-khattab, His Life and times by Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad as-Sallābi, Volume 1, p. 43.
Umar then married the widow Umm Hakeem bint al-Hārith ibn Hishām, after her husband ‘lkrimah ibn Abi Jahl was killed in Syria. It is unclear as to whether they remained married after the birth of their daughter Fatimāh due to some saying they divorced while others say they remained married. AI-Bidāyah wa an-Nihāynh, Chapter. 7, p. 144.
Umar also married Jameelah bint Asim ibn Thābit ibn Abi al-Aqlah of al-Aws as well as Atikah bint Zayd ibn ‘Amr ibn Nufayl. Tarfeebwa Tahdheeb al-Bidāyah wa an-Nihāyah Khilāfat ‘Umar by as-Sulami, p. 7.
During the Caliphate of Umar he proposed marriage to Umm Kulthoom bint Abu Bakr, but this proposal was rejected. A rejection that resulted in the proposal and acceptance of marriage to the granddaughter of the Messenger of Allah, Umm Kulthoom bint ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, the daughter of Fātimah. She bore him Zayd and Ruqayyah.
‘Umar also married a woman from Yemen by the name of Luhyah that bore him his second son with the name ‘Abdur-Rahman, but Al-Wāqidi said, “She was an umm Walad (a concubine who bore her master a child) and not a wife. Tāreekh al-Umam wa al-Mulook by at-Tabari, Chapter 5, p. 191.
It was also believed that ‘Umar had a concubine by the name of Fakeehah, who bore him Zaynab who was believed to be his youngest child according to Al-Wāqidi. Tāreekh al-Umam wa al-Mulook by at-Tabari, Chapter 5, p. 191, 192.
‘Umar’s thirteen children were: Zayd the elder, Zayd the younger, ‘Asim, ‘Abdullāh, ‘Abdur-Rahmān the elder, ‘Abdur-Rahmān the middle one, ‘Abdur-Rahmān the younger, ‘Ubaydullāh, ‘Iyād, Hafsah, Ruqayyah, Zaynab and Fātimah, Umar ibn Al-khattab, His Life and times by Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad as-Sallābi, Volume 1, p. 43. may Allah be pleased with them all.
Umar’s early life was a time in which heavy responsibility was placed upon him, but did not include luxury or any manifestation of personal wealth. The harsh treatment he received from his father Al-Khattab had a negative impact that Umar remembered his entire life. This time of hardship, as challenging as it was did allow Umar to acquire beneficial characteristics, like forbearance, patience and toughness. AI-Farooq ma’a an-Nabi, p. 6.
When Umar was not burdened by his responsibilities he did engage in numerous activities that he excelled at, such as wrestling, riding, and horsemanship. At-Tareekh al-Isami al-Am, by ‘Ali Hasan Ibraheem, p. 226; Umar also had the very rare ability to read which contributed to his enjoyment and narration of poetry. Al-Idarah al-Islamiyah fee ‘Ahd ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, p. 90. Being able to read also helped to support his interest in history and the affairs of his people; knowledge of which he readily acquired at every possible opportunity, particularly by travelling for trade with the Quraysh Caravans ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, by Dr. Muhammad Ahmd Abu an-Nasr, p. 17 to attend the great Arab fairs.
Even though Umar was young his noble heritage, natural intelligence, passion for learning Arab life and history, combined with the great wealth he acquired in trade, put him in a prominent position in Makkah. A position that he used to effectively shape events during the Jahiliyah. AI-Khaleefah al-Farooq by Dr. al-‘Ani, p. 16
Growing up in Jahiliyah gave Umar a deep insight as to its true nature which helped him to see the beauty of Islam along with recognizing the clear difference between guidance and misguidance, disbelief (kufr) and faith, truth and falsehood. Commenting on this understanding Umar said, “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 Jlihiliyah is.” Al-Fatawa, Chapter 15, p. 36. Fara’id al-Kalam li’l-Khulafa’ al-Karam, p. 144.
Role During Jahiliyyah
Umar ibn Al-Khattab lived during the Jahiliyah which gave him insight into its true nature, its customs and traditions, and he defended it with all the strength he possessed. Umar was very knowledgeable about all the traditions, acts of worship and systems to which Quraysh]were accustomed. His nature was one of sincerity which led him to defend all that he believed into the bitter end. So ‘Umar resisted Islam in the beginning because he feared that this new religion would shake the system that was well established in Makkah and which gave Makkah a special status among the Arabs. For it was the location of the House to which people came on pilgrimage, which gave Quraysh a unique status among the Arabs, and brought spiritual and material wealth to Makkah. This was the reason for the city’s prosperity and its people’s wealth. So the rich men of Makkah resisted this religion and persecuted the weak among its converts, and ‘Umar was at the forefront of those who persecuted these weak ones. Al-Faooq ‘Umar, by ‘ Abdur-Rahman ash-Sharqawi, p. 8.
Before accepting Islam Umar was known for his indulgence in wine parties and his emotionally driven fits of rage that would leave him unexpectedly fatigued. Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri (2002), Al-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet, Revised Edition, Darussalam Publications, p. 128, ISBN 9960-899-55-1