Showing posts with label Eminent Companion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eminent Companion. Show all posts

Sunday 1 September 2019

Umar ibn Al Khattab (Al Farooq): Eminent Companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Umar ibn Al Khattab was the most powerful caliph of Islam, under whose caliphate, Islam spread to even the most far flung areas of the world, outside the bounds of the Arabian peninsula.  He was an expert Muslim jurist known for his pious and just nature, which earned him the epithet Al-Farooq ("the one who distinguishes (between right and wrong)").

Umar was born in Makkah to the Banu Adi clan, which was responsible for arbitration among the tribes. His father  Khattab ibn Nufayl, a merchant by trade but was known for his intelligence. Umar was raised by his father as a tough, but literate young man, something uncommon in pre-Islamic Arabia. Umar had a flare for poetry and literature. While still in his teens, Umar learned martial arts, horse riding and wrestling, which made him physically strong, powerful and a renowned wrestler. He was also a gifted orator who succeeded his father as an arbitrator among the tribes.

When Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) proclaimed Islam, like many pagans of Makkah, Umar was one of his worst opponent and he very aggressively opposed  Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and Islam. So much so that he threatened to kill the Prophet of Allah and resolved to defend the traditional polytheistic religion of Arabia. These were the times when Muslims were not very strong and were very few who were continuously threatens by the non believers.  It was under such trying conditions that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) often wished and prayed: 'O, Allah! Strengthen Islam with either Umar or Abu Jahl, whomsoever Thou likest.' 

It was not until six years later that Umar accepted Islam. It so happened that one day Umar set forth to kill the Prophet of Allah, but was intercepted by one of his friends Nua'im bin Abdullah. When Nua'im came to know of Umar's intentions, he asked him to first inquire about his own house where his sister and her husband had converted to Islam. Umar ran to his sister's house and found them reciting the verses of the Quran He started quarreling with his brother-in-law. His sister intervened and kept on saying "you may kill us but we will not give up Islam". Upon hearing these words, Umar asked his sister to tell them what was something unique in what they were reciting that they were even willing to be killed. His sister then recited verses of Surah Ta Ha: "Verily, I am Allah: there is no God but Me; so serve Me (only), and establish regular prayer for My remembrance (Quran 20:14)." Hearing the verses, Umar wept and declared, "Surely this is the word of Allah." He then went to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) with the same sword he intended to kill him with and accepted Islam. 

From then on, Umar challenged anyone who dared to stop the Muslims from praying, and obviously no one dared to interfere with Umar when he was openly praying. Umar's conversion to Islam granted power to the Muslims and to the Islamic faith in Makkah and from then on Muslims started to offer prayers openly in Masjid al-Haram. Umar from then on was a strong pillar of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and fought many a battle against the armies of non believers and Jews. He was part of the Muslim army that went for the campaign of Tabuk and is reported to have given half of his wealth for the preparation of this expedition. He also participated in the farewell Hajj of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in 632.

Umar succeeded Abu Bakr as the second caliph of Muslims. In fact Abu Bakr had willed in his life for Umar to succeed him for Umar was well known for his extraordinary will power, intelligence, political astuteness, impartiality, justice and care for poor and underprivileged people. 

As caliph, Umer's stress was on the well-being of poor. In addition to this Umar, in order to improve his reputation and relation with Banu Hashim, the tribe of Ali, delivered to him his disputed estates in Khyber. In the Ridda wars, thousands of prisoners from rebel and apostate tribes were taken away as slaves during the expeditions. Umar ordered the general amnesty for the prisoners, and their immediate emancipation. This made Umar quite popular among the Bedouin tribes. 

Under Umar, the sovereign political authority rested with the caliph. He divided the Muslim Empire into provinces and some autonomous territories like in some regions Azerbaijan and Armenia, that had accepted the suzerainty of the caliphate. The provinces were administered by the provincial governors or Wali, the selection of which was made personally by Umar, who was very fastidious in it. Provinces were further divided into districts, there were about 100 districts in the empire. Each district or main city was under the charge of a junior governor or Amir, usually appointed by Umar himself.

He also instituted the offices of revenue collection, police, treasury, justice and affairs of the military. In some districts there were separate military officers, though the Governor (Wali) was in most cases the Commander-in-chief of the army quartered in the province. Every appointment was made in writing. At the time of appointment an instrument of instructions was issued with a view to regulating the conduct of Governors. On assuming office, the Governor was required to assemble the people in the main mosque, and read the instrument of instructions before them. Umer's general instructions to his officers were:

Remember, I have not appointed you as commanders and tyrants over the people. I have sent you as leaders instead, so that the people may follow your example. Give the Muslims their rights and do not beat them lest they become abused. Do not praise them unduly, lest they fall into the error of conceit. Do not keep your doors shut in their faces, lest the more powerful of them eat up the weaker ones. And do not behave as if you were superior to them, for that is tyranny over them.

Under Umar the empire was divided into the following provinces:
  • Arabia divided into two provinces, Mecca and Medina;
  • Iraq divided into two provinces, Basra and Kufa;
  • In the upper reaches of the Tigris and the Euphrates, Jazira was a province;
  • Syria was a province;
  • Palestine divided  into two provinces Iliyā' (إلياء), and Ramlah;
  • Egypt divided into two provinces, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt;
  • Persia divided into three provinces, Khorasan; Azerbaijan and Faras.
Umar was known for this intelligence service through which he made his officials accountable. Umar was first to establish a special department for the investigation of complaints against the officers of the State. This department acted as the Administrative court, where the legal proceedings were personally led by Umar. In order to minimize the chances of corruption, Umar made it a point to pay high salaries to the staff.

Another important aspect of Umer's rule was that he forbade any of his governors and agents from engaging in trade or any sort of business dealings whilst being in a position of power. An agent of Umar by the name of Al Harith ibn K'ab ibn Wahb was once found to have extra money beyond his salary and Umar inquired about his wealth. Al Harith replied that he had some money and he engaged in trade with it. Umar said: By Allah, we did not send you to engage in trade! and he took from him the profits he had made.

One of the major contribution of Umar was construction of canals to save the people from famine like conditions. Since Medina was at risk of reoccurring famines when crops were lacking and its population was growing rapidly, Umar sought to facilitate the import of grain, beside building of a canal connecting the Nile to the Red Sea and an improvement of port infrastructure in the Arabian coast. When Basra was established during Umer's rule, he started building a nine-mile canal from Tigris to the new city for conveying drinking water and for irrigation.

He established an advanced administration for the newly conquered lands, including several new ministries and bureaucracies, and ordered a census of all the Muslim territories. During his rule, the garrison cities (amsar) of Basra and Kufa were founded or expanded. In 638, he extended and renovated the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina.

Umar also ordered the expulsion to Syria and Iraq of the Christian and Jewish communities of Najran and Khyber. He also permitted Jewish families to resettle in Jerusalem, which had previously been barred from all Jews. He issued orders that these Christians and Jews should be treated well and allotted them the equivalent amount of land in their new settlements. Umar also forbade non-Muslims to reside in the Hejaz for longer than three days. He was first to establish the army as a state department.

Umar was founder of Fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence.  He is regarded by Sunni Muslims to be one of the greatest Faqih. Umar as a jurist started the process of codifying Islamic Law. In 641, he established Bayt al-mal, a financial institution and started annual allowance for the Muslims. In 638 he decreed that the Islamic calendar should be counted from the year of the Hijra of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.

Now please watch the video below and get to know many facets of his personality both as a man and as Caliph of the Muslim Ummah:
I wonder any Muslim ruler today can be anything even near to what Umar has been. Indeed if there was a Prophet after Muhammad (ﷺ), it would have been Umar ibn al-Khattab. May Allah bless Umar ibn Al Khattab for his services to Islam and the justice system he gave to be followed to establish a regime that Allah has talked about in the Holy Qur'an. Aameen.

Please refer to our reference page: Eminent Companions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)  to know more about other eminent companions.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.

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Friday 2 November 2018

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq: Eminent Companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Whenever the names of eminent and most revered companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are taken, the name of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq takes precedence over everyone else, for Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was the first adult person outside the family of the Prophet of Allah who embraced Islam. He submitted to Islam with such determination that once the Prophet ﷺ himself remarked, “I called people to Islam, everybody thought over it, at least for a while, but this was not the case with Abu Bakr, the moment I put Islam before him, he accepted it without any hesitation,”  for Abu Bakr knew the Prophet of Allah better than any other man.

Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq ‘Abdallāh bin Abī Quḥāfah (27 October 573 CE – 23 August 634 CE), popularly known as Abu Bakr served as a trusted advisor to Muhammad. During Muhammad's lifetime, he was involved in several campaigns and treaties. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  gave the title of "atiqa (the one saved from hell fire by God)" and also called him Al-Siddiq (Testifier to the Truth) for he believed event of Isra and Mi'raj  of the Prophet  when other people hesitated.

Three years younger to the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr has known the him much before the advent of Islam, probably for the reason that both were merchants and otherwise been from the same clan of Qureysh, as lineage of Abu Bakr joined that of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the eighth degree in their common ancestor Murrah ibn Ka'b.

Abu Bakr was more than a great believer, as soon as he became a Muslim, he immediately began to preach Islam to others. Among those who accepted Abu Bakr’s invitation to Islam were ‘Uth man, Az Talhah, ‘Abdur– Zubayr, Rahman ibn Awf, Sa’ad ibn Waqqas and others who later became the pillars of Islam.

Abu Bakar was always by the side of the Prophet of Allah and at many a times saved Him of misconduct by the pagans of Makkah.  Once while the Holy Prophet ﷺ was busy his prayers in the Ka’bah, a disbeliever by the name of ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’it took a long piece of cloth and put it around the Prophet’s neck and twisted it hard in an attempt to strangle the Prophet to death. When Abu Bakr saw the Prophet ﷺ in distress, he ran to the help of the Prophet, he pushed ‘Uqbah aside and took off the cloth from around the Prophet’s neck. Thereupon the enemies of Islam came down upon Abu Bakr and beat him unmercifully. Abu Bakr with faith like a rock did not care for his own suffering, he was glad that he was able to save the Prophet of Allah, even at the risk of his own life. 

Though Abu Bakr was one of the wealthiest man of Makkah, he had a big heart and upon embracing Islam he opened his vaults for the help of the poor who had embraced Islam and were deprived of their daily wages by their disbeliever masters. He also bought away many slave who embraced Islam from the shackles of their non Muslims masters and saved them from the barbaric torture meted out to them. Abu Bakr could not bear the ugly scenes that one came across every day when the Muslim slaves were stripped naked and made to lie on the burning sands with heavy stones put on their chests. Bilal Al-Habashi, the slave of Umayya bin Khalaf, was among those who were set free by Abu Bakr, who later became the Mu’azzin (prayer caller) at the Prophet’s mosque. 

Most of the slaves liberated by Abu Bakr were either women or old and frail men. Once father of Abu Bakr asked him why he didn't liberate strong and young slaves who could be a source of strength for him, Abu Bakr replied that he was freeing the slaves for the sake of Allah, and not for his own sake. According to Sunni tradition the following verses of the Qur'an were revealed due to this: 
As for him who gives and is god fearing and confirms the reward most fair, We shall surely ease him to the Easing. {92:5–7}....he who gives his wealth to purify himself and confers no favour on any man for recompense, only seeking the Face of his Lord the Most High; and he shall surely be satisfied. {92:18–21}.
While preparing for the Battle of Tabuk, when the Prophet of Allah asked his companions to generate funds for an upcoming event, Abu Bakr brought every piece of his household. Seeing the enormous consignment, the Holy Prophet  asked Abu Bakr that what he had left back home for his family. Abu Bakr replied: "Allah and his Messenger are enough for them." Hearing this, the Holy Prophet  ﷺremarked: "Abu-Bakr has favored me much with his property and company. If I were to take a Khalil (an intimate friend) from mankind I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr.” (Bukhari).

When living in Makkah became difficult for the Muslims, the Holy Prophet  decided to migrate to Medina and chose Abu Bakr to accompany him. When pagans of Makkah came to know of Holy Prophet's flight from Makkah, they sent armed men in all directions to apprehend him. Sensing the danger at one time, the duo hid themselves in the Cave of Thaur. Ad when one of the patrol almost reached at the mouth of the cave, Abu Bakr got frightened but the Holy Prophet  calmed him and told him "do not fear, certainly Allah is with us”. Read the complete incident already posted in one of our posts: Prophet's Migration to Medina and Miracle of Allah

Once settled in Medina, Prophet   desired to construct a mosque. A piece of land was chosen and the price of the land was paid for by Abu Bakr. Muslims constructed a mosque named Al-Masjid al-Nabawi at the site and Abu Bakr also took part in construction. Abu Bakr re-started the his cloth business in Medina and soon his business firmly established. Early in 623, Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha, who was already engaged to Muhammad, was handed over to Muhammad in a simple marriage ceremony, and this further strengthened the relation between Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammad .

Abu Bakr was by the side of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in all battles fought against the disbelievers. During the battles of Uhud and Hunain, when some members of the Muslim army showed signs of weakness, Abu Bakr’s faith never wavered and he always stood like a rock by the side of the Holy Prophet. In the  Battle of Badr, Abu Bakr's son, Abdur Rahman, was fighting on the side of the army of Makkah. After accepting Islam, Abdur Rahman said to his father, “O Father, at Badr, you were twice under my sword, but my love for you held my hand back.” To this, Abu Bakr replied, “Son, if I had you only once under my sword, you would have been no more.” 

The standing of Abu Bakr near the Messenger ﷺ of Allah can be judged from the fact that Messenger ﷺ of Allah made him lead the prayers in Masjid e Nabawi in His own nonappearance. The Prophet ﷺ has been quoted as saying: “Tell Abu Bakr from my side to offer Salat to people (Muslims). [In absence of Prophet ﷺ ]” (Bukhari and Muslim). While one day when Abu Bakr was away, Umar was appointed by the companions to lead the prayers in his absence. Realizing the change of voice, the Prophet ﷺ said: “This is not Abu Bakr’s voice, no one but he should lead prayers, he is the fittest person for this position”.

And it was Abu Bakr who on the day of demise of Prophet ﷺ controlled the emotions of the companions and calmed them down. He said: “O People! If anyone among you worshiped Muhammad ﷺ, let him know that Muhammad ﷺ is dead. But those who worshiped Allah, let them know that He lives and will never die. Let all of us recall the words of the Qur’an. It says: “Muhammad ﷺ is only a Messenger of Allah, there have been Messengers before him. What then, will you turn back from Islam if he dies or is killed?” Abu Bakr's acumen and leadership qualities thus made the Muslims of the time realize that they needed a man like Abu Bakr to fill the position of leadership amongst them.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , there arose a dispute as to who should be the first caliph from among the Muhajirun (refugees from Mecca) or the Ansar (the people of Madinah). At this critical juncture, Abu Bakr rose to the occasion and said: “Both Muhajirun and Ansar have done great service to Islam. But the former were the first to accept Islam, they were always very close to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ . So, O Ansar, let the Caliph be from amongst them”. After a short discussion, the Ansar agreed that they should choose the Caliph from amongst the Muhajirun, being from the tribe of Quraish and being the first to accept Islam. Abu Bakr then suggested two names: Umar bin Al-Khattab and Abu Ubaida Ibn A-Jarrah. Bewildered by the decision, both honourable companions said:  “O Siddiq, how can that be? How can anyone else fill this position as long as you are among us? You are the top man amongst he Muhajirun. You were the Companion of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the Thawr cave. You led prayers in his place, during his last illness. Prayer is the foremost thing in Islam. With all these qualifications you are the fittest person to be the successor of the Holy Prophet  . Hold out your hand that we may pledge loyalty to you”. But Abu Bakr was hesitant to assume this great burden did not stretch out his hand. Umar saw that the delay might lead to the reopening of the disagreements so he himself took Abu Bakr’s hand out and pledged loyalty to him. Others followed by example, and Abu Bakr became the first Caliph by general consent of the Muslims.

After his election as the Caliph, Abu Bakr addressed the Muslims with these words: 
“O People! I have been chosen by you as your leader, although I am no better than any of you. If I do any wrong, set me right. Listen, truth is honesty and untruth is dishonesty. The weak among you are the powerful in my eyes, as long as I do not give them their dues. The powerful among you are weak in my eyes, as long as I do not take away from them what is due to others. Listen carefully, if people give up striving for the Cause of Almighty Allah, He will send down disgrace upon them. If people become evil-doers, Almighty Allah will send down calamities upon them. “Obey me as long as I obey Allah and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. If I disobey Allah and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, you are free to disobey me.”
Ali, cousin of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ along with some of his relatives delayed their pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr for six months after a difference of opinion with the Caliph due to the right of inheritance of the Prophet’s land. Although both men respected each other, and Ali soon after the death of his wife Fatimah gave the pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr's Caliphate lasted for 27 months, during which he crushed the rebellion of the Arab tribes throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the successful Ridda Wars. In the last months of his rule, he sent general Khalid ibn al-Walid on conquests against the Sassanid Empire in Mesopotamia and against the Byzantine Empire in Syria. This would set in motion a historical trajectory (continued later on by Umar and Uthman ibn Affan) that in just a few short decades would lead to one of the largest empires in history. 

Abu Bakr was instrumental in preserving the Qur'an in written form. Please read details in our earlier post: Brief History of Compilation of the Holy Quran

On 23 August 634, Abu Bakr fell sick and did not recover. His illness was prolonged, and when his condition worsened and realizing end was near, he felt that he should nominate his successor so that the issue should not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death. He appointed Umar as his successor after discussing with some companions. Some of them favored the nomination and others disliked it, due to the tough nature of Umar. Abu Bakr thus dictated his last testament to Uthman ibn Affan as follows:
In the name of Most Merciful Allah. This is the last will and testament of Abu Bakr bin Abu Quhafa, when he is in the last hour of the world, and the first of the next; an hour in which the infidel must believe, the wicked be convinced of their evil ways, I nominate Umar bin al Khattab as my successor. Therefore, hear to him and obey him. If he acts right, confirm his actions. My intentions are good, but I cannot see the future results. However, those who do ill shall render themselves liable to severe account hereafter. Fare you well. May you be ever attended by the Divine favor of blessing.
On Monday, 23 August 634 (hijri: 7th of Jamadi-ui- Akhir of the 13th AH), Abu Bakr died. The funeral prayer was led by Umar. and was buried the same night by the side of grave of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  in Aisha's house near Al-Masjid al-Nabawi.

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Eminent Companions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)

A large number of early Muslims who embraced Islam during life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and had the privilege of seeing and interacting with him are known as the "Sahaba" (plural of Sahabi - the companion).  The Companions, being eyewitnesses, have been the most authentic sources of Ḥadīth, the record of Prophet Muhammad's ﷺ sayings and activities.

We are starting a series of posts from today on to talk about the life and achievements of some of these blessed Muslims who had the privilege of being very close to the Prophet of Allah and contributed tremendously to the cause and spread of Islam, besides rendering exclusive company to the Prophet of Allah. Attributing his great admiration to his companions, the Prophet of Allah once remarked: “My companions are like the stars. Whichever one you follow, you’ll be guided.”

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spoke very high of his companions and the believers who embraced Islam. "The best of my nation is my generation then those who follow them and then those who follow them."

Scroll down for list of the revered companions

Thus the companions are considered the best generation of the Islamic nation. And by knowing them more, we learn about the Prophet of Allah and the times of difficulties they braved to spread Islam with an extreme devotion to the religion of Islam. So we need to know them more and their services to Islam and love for the Prophet of Allah. The Companions of the Holy Prophet were indeed the best of all people. Ibn Masood, one of the Companions, said: "Indeed Allah, the Exalted, chose Muhammad ﷺ  as His Prophet, for he was the most pious of His slaves, and Allah sent him with the Message. Allah then chose the Companions of the Prophet to be with the Prophet as they were the best of all people after him." [2] 

Since list of these blessed Muslims is very long, we will try to present the life and achievements of some of the most eminent and revered companions. These would also include the first four caliphs, who are the ṣaḥābah held in highest esteem among Sunnite Muslims and are part of a group of 10 Companions, known as the Ashra Mubashra,  to whom prophet Muhammad ﷺ promised paradise.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) named ten of his companions which he said would be blessed with paradise in the hereafter.  The Prophet of Allah named "Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali (the first four caliphs) , Talhah, Al-Zubayr,  Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf,   Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas,  Sa`id ibn Zayd and Abu `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah ." 
We will also include some very close companions in the series under this heading which though not named in the ten blessed ones, but were still very close and dear to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

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