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Men Around The Messenger Muhammad(saws) – 5- ABD ALLAH IBN `UMAR (R.A)

(5)

`ABD ALLAH IBN `UMAR( R,A)

The Persistent and
Repentant to Allah

When he was at the
peak of his long life he said, ” I swore the oath of allegiance to the
Prophet

(PBUH). I never broke
my oath, nor have I turned to something else to this day. I never swore
allegiance

to those in civil
strife, nor did I awake a sleeping Muslim.”

These words are a
summary of the life of that virtuous man who lived past the age of 80. His

relationship with
Islam and the Prophet began when he was only 13 years old, when he accompanied
his

father to the battle
of Badr, hoping to have a place among the Mujaahiduun, but he was sent back by
the

Prophet due to his
young age. Since that day – and even before that when he accompanied his father
on

his Hijrah to
Al-Madiinah – that young boy who possessed premature manly merits began his
relation

with the Prophet of
Islam (PBUH).

From that day till
the day he passed away at the age of 85, we will always find him persistent,

repentant, never
deviating from his path, not even by a hairbreadth, never breaking the oath of
allegiance

which he had sworn,
nor breaking a pledge he had made. The merits of `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar, which

dazzle people’s
vision, are abundant. Among these are his knowledge, modesty, the straightness
of his

conscience and path,
his generosity, piety, persistence in worship, and his sincere adherence to the

Prophet’s model. By
means of all these merits and qualities did Ibn `Umar shape his unique
personality,

his sincere and
truthful life.

He learned a lot of
good manners from his father, `Umar Ibn Al khattaab, and together with him,

they learned from the
Prophet (PBUH) all the good manners and all that can be described as noble

virtues.

Like his father, his
belief in Allah and His Prophet was perfect; therefore, the way he pursued the

Prophet’s steps was
admirable. He was always looking at what the Prophet was doing in every matter
and

then humbly imitating
his deeds to the finest detail. For example, wherever the Prophet prayed, there
also

would lbn `Umar pray,
and on the same spot. If the Prophet invoked Allah while standing, then lbn

‘Umar would invoke
Allan while standing. If the Prophet invoked Allah while sitting, so also would
lbn

`Umar invoke Allah
while sitting. On the same particular route where the Prophet once dismounted
from

his camel and prayed
two rak’ahs, so would lbn `Umar do the same while traveling to the same place.

Moreover, he
remembered that the Prophet’s camel turned twice at a certain spot in Makkah
before

the Prophet
dismounted and before his two rak’ahs of prayer. The camel may have done that

spontaneously to
prepare itself a suitable halting place, but lbn `Umar would reach that spot,
turn his

camel in a circle,
then allow it to kneel down. After that he would pray two rak’ahs in exactly
the same

manner he had seen
the Prophet (PBUH) do. Such exaggerated imitation once provoked the Mother of

the Believers
`Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) to say, “No one followed the
Prophet’s steps in

his coming and going
as lbn `Umar did.”

He spent his long,
blessed life and his firm loyalty adhering to the Prophet’s Sunnah to the
extent

that a time came when
the virtuous Muslims were asking Allan, “O Allah, save lbn `Umar as long
as I

live so that I can
follow him. I don’t know anyone still adhering to the early traditions except
him.”

Similar to that
strong and firm adherence to each of the Prophet’s steps and practice (Sunnah)
was

lbn `Umar’s respect
for the Prophetic traditions (Hadith). He never related a hadith unless he
remembered

it to the letter. His
contemporaries said, “None of the Companions of the Prophet was more
cautious not

to add or subtract
something from a hadith than `Abd Allah lbn `Umar.”

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Around The Messenger

In the same way he
was very cautious when giving a fatwah (legal formal opinion in Islamic law).

One day somebody came
to ask him a fatwah . When he put forward his question, lbn `Umar answered,

“I have no
knowledge concerning what you are asking about.” The man went his way. He
had hardly left

the place when Ibn
`Umar rubbed his hands happily saying to himself, “Ibn `Umar has been
asked about

what he doesn’t know,
so he said, ` I don’t know!'” He was very much afraid to perform ijtihaad

(independent judgment
in a legal question) in his fatwah, although he was living according to the

instructions of a
great religion, a religion which grants a reward to the one who makes a mistake
and two

rewards to the one
who comes out with a correct righteous fatwah. However, lbn `Umar’s piety
deprived

him of the courage to
make any fatwahs.

In the same way he
refrained from the post of judge. The position of a judge was one of the
highest

positions of state
and society, guaranteeing the one engaged in it wealth, prestige, and glory.
But why

should the pious Ibn
`Umar need money, prestige, and glory? The Caliph `Uthmaan once sent for him

and asked him to hold
the postion of judge but he apologized. `Uthmaan asked him, “Do you
disobey

me?” Ibn `Umar
answered, “No, but it came to my knowledge that judges are of three kinds
one who

judges ignorantly: he
is in hell; one who judges according to his desire: he is in hell; one who
involves

himself in making
ijtihaad and is unerring in his judgment. That one will turn empty-handed, no
sin

committed and no
reward to be granted. I ask you by Allah to exempt me.” `Uthmaan exempted
him after

he pledged him never
to tell anyone about that, for `Uthmaan knew Ibn `Umar’s place in people’s
hearts

and he was afraid
that if the pious and virtuous knew his refraining from holding the position of
judge,

they would follow him
and do the same, and then the Caliph would not find a pious person to be judge.

It may seem as if Ibn
`Umar’s stance was a passive one. However, it was not so. Ibn `Umar did not

abstain from
accepting the post when there was no one more suitable to hold it than himself.
In fact a lot

of the Prophet’s
pious and virtuous Companions were actually occupied with fatwah and judgment.

His restraint and
abstention would not paralyze the function of jurisdiction, nor would it cause
it to

be held by
unqualified ones, so Ibn `Umar preferred to devote his time to purifying his
soul with more

worship and more
obedience. Furthermore, in that stage of Islamic history, life became more
comfortable

and luxurious, money
more abundant, positions and authoritative ranks more available. The temptation

of money and
authoritative ranks began to enter the hearts of the pious and faithful , which
made some of

the Prophet’s
Companions – Ibn `Umar among them – to lift the banner of resistance to that
temptation by

means of making
themselves models and examples of worship, piety, and abstention, refraining
from

high ranks in order
to defeat their temptation.

Ibn `Umar made
himself a “friend of the night”, praying at night, crying, and asking
forgiveness

during its latter
hours before daybreak. He had once, during his youth, seen a dream. The Prophet

interpreted it in a
way which made the night prayer `Abd Allah’s utmost hope and a means of his
delight

and joy.

Let us listen to him,
while he narrates the story of his dream: During the Prophetic era, I saw a

dream in which I was
riding a piece of brocade which let me fly to any place in Paradise I wished.
Then I

saw two approaching
me, intending to take me to hell, but an angel met them saying, “Don’t be
afraid,”

so they left me. My
sister Hafsah narrated the dream to the Prophet (PBUH), who said, “What an

excellent man `Abd
Allah is. If he is praying at night, then let him pray more.”

From that day until
he met with Allah, he never stopped performing his night prayer, neither while

staying in one place
nor while traveling. He was frequently praying, reciting the Qur’aan, and
praising

Allah. Like his
father, his tears rolled down abundantly whenever he heard a warning verse in
the

Qur’aan.

Ubaid lbn `Umar said:
I was once reading to `Abd Allah lbn `Umar this verse: “How will it be for

them when We bring
from every nation a witness, and bring you to witness over them all? On that
day

those who disbelieved
and disobeyed the Messenger will wish the earth to be split open and swallow

them, but they will
never conceal GOD any of their saying ” (4:41-42) Ibn `Umar began to cry
till his

beard was wet from
his tears. One day he was sitting among his brothers reading “Woe to those
who give

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Around The Messenger

insufficient measure,
who when others measure for them they make full measure, but when they measure

out, or weigh out for
others, they give less than due. Do such not think that they shall be raised up
on a

Mighty Day? The Day
when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of the Worlds” (83:1-6). Then
he

repeated again and
again “The Day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of the
Worlds” while

his tears were
rolling down like heavy rain falls from the sky until he fell down because of
his

tremendous sorrow and
crying.

His generosity,
asceticism and piety all worked together in complete harmony to shape the most

magnificent merits of
that great man. He gave out abundantly because he was generous. He granted the

fine halaal things
because he was pious, never caring if his generosity left him poor because he
was

ascetic.

lbn `Umar (May Allah
be pleased with him) was one of those who had high incomes. He was a

successful, honest
merchant for a greater part of his life, and his income from the treasury (Bait
Al-Maal)

was abundant.
However, he never saved that money for himself, but always spent it copiously
on the

poor, the needy, and
beggars.

Ayub Ibn Waa’il
Ar-Rassiby tells us about one of his generous acts: One day lbn `Umar was granted

4,000 dirhams and a
piece of velvet. The next day Ayub Ibn Waa’il saw him in the market buying his

camel some fodder on
credit. lbn Waa’il went to his house asking his close relatives, “Wasn’t
Abu `Abd

Ar-Rahman (i.e. `Abd
Allah Ibn `Umar granted 4,000 dirhams and a piece of velvet yesterday?”
They

said,
“Yes.” He then told them that he had seen him in the market buying
fodder for his camel and could

not find money for
it. They told him, “He didn’t go to sleep before distributing all of it,
then he carried

the velvet on his
back and went out. When he returned it wasn’t with him. We asked him about it,
and he

said, `I gave it to a
poor person.

lbn Waa’il went out
shaking his head until he entered the market. There he climbed to a higher

ground and shouted to
the people, “O merchants, what do you do with your life? Here is Ibn `Umar
who’s

been granted 4,000
dirhams, so he distributes them, then the next morning he buys fodder for his
camel

on credit?!”

The one to whom
Muhammad (PBUH) was tutor and `Umar his father must be a great man,

deserving all that is
great.

Ibn `Umar’s
generosity, asceticism, and piety, these three qualities demonstrate how
sincere his

imitation of the
Prophetic model was and how sincere his worship.

He imitated the
Prophet (PBUH) to the extent that he stood with his camel, where the Prophet
had

once stood saying,
“A camel foot may stand over a camel foot.” His respect, good
behavior, and

admiration towards
his father reached also to a far extent. `Umar’s personality forced his foes,
his

relatives, and, above
all, his sons to pay him respect. I say, the one who belongs to that Prophet
and that

kind of father should
never be a slave of money. Large amounts of money came to him but soon passed,

just crossing his
house at that moment.

His generosity was
never a means of arrogance. He always dedicated himself to the poor and needy,

rarely eating his
meal alone: orphans and poor people were always present. He often blamed some
of his

sons when they
invited the rich, and not the poor ones, to their banquets, thereupon saying,
“You leave

the hungry behind and
invite the sated ones.” The poor knew his tenderness, felt his kindness
and

sympathy, so they sat
down across his path for him to take them to his house. When he saw them he was

like a sweet scented
flower surrounded by a drove of bees to suck its nectar.

Money in his hands
was a slave, not a master, a means for necessities and not luxury. Money was

not his alone. The
poor had a right to it, a mutually corresponding right, with no privilege kept
to

himself. His
self-denial helped him to reach such great generosity that he never stored,
endeavored, or

had a vivid interest
toward the worldly life. On the contrary, he never wished to possess more than
a

gown to cover his
body and just enough food to keep him alive.

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Around The Messenger

Once a friend coming
from khurasan presented him with a fine, delicate, handsome, embellished

and decorated gown,
saying to him, “I’ve brought you this gown from khurasan. I would be
pleased to

see you take off this
rough gown and wear this nice one.” lbn `Umar said, “Show it to me
then. ” He

touched it asking,
“Is it silk?” His friend said, “No, it’s cotton.” `Abd
Allah looked at it for a while then

pushed it away with
his right hand saying, “No, I’m afraid to tempt myself. I’m afraid it
would turn me

into an arrogant,
proud man. Allah dislikes the arrogant, proud ones.”

On another day, a
friend presented him with a container filled with something. Ibn `Umar asked

him, “What’s
that?” He said, “Excellent medicine, which I brought you from
Iraq!” lbn `Umar said,

`What does it
cure?” He said, “It digests food.” Ibn `Umar smiled and said to
his friend, “Digests food? I

haven’t satisfied my
appetite for 40 years.”

He who has not
satisfied his appetite for 40 years has not curbed his appetite due to need or
poverty,

but rather due to
self- denial and piety, and a trial to imitate the Prophet and his father.

He was afraid to hear
on the Day of Judgment:”You have wasted all your good deeds for the

enjoyment in the life
of this world” (46:20). He realized that he was in this life just as a
visitor or a

passer-by. He
described himself saying, “I haven’t put a stone upon another (i.e. I
haven’t built anything)

nor planted a palm
tree since the Prophet’s death.”

Maimuun Ibn Muhraan
once said, “I entered Ibn `Umar’s house and tried to evaluate all that was

inside such as the
bed, the blanket, the mat and so on. Indeed, everything. I didn’t find it worth
even 100

dirhams.”

That was not due to
selfishness; he was very generous. But it was due to his asceticism, his
disdain

of luxury, and his
adherence to his attitude of sincerity and piety.

Ibn `Umar lived long
enough to witness the Umayyid period, when money became abundant, and

land and estates
spread, and a luxurious life was to be found in most dwellings, let alone most
castles.

Despite all that, he
stayed like a firm-rooted mountain, persistent and great, not slipping away
from

his paths and not
abandoning his piety and asceticism. If life with its pleasure and prosperity –
which he

always escaped from –
was mentioned, he said, “I’ve agreed with my companions upon a matter. I’m

afraid if I change my
stance I won’t meet them again.” Then he let the others know that he did
not turn

his back to the
worldly life owing to inability, so he lifted his hands to the sky saying,
“O Allah, You

know that if it
weren’t for fear of You, we would have emulated our clan in the Quraish in this
life.”

Indeed, if it were
not for his God-fearing self, he would have rivaled people in this life, and he

would have been
triumphant. He did not have to rival people. Life was striving towards him and
chasing

him with its tempting
pleasure.

Is there any position
more tempting than the caliph’s? It was offered to Ibn `Umar several times, but

he refused. He was
threatened with death if he refused, but he continued his refusal and his
shunning.

Al Hassan (May Allah
be pleased with him) reported: When `Uthmaan Ibn `Affaan was killed it

was said to `Abd
Allah Ibn `Umar, “You are the people’s master and the son of the people’s
master. Go

out so that people
swear to you the oath of allegiance.” He said, “By Allah, if I could,
I would never

allow a drop of blood
to be shed because of me.” They said, You will either go out or we will
kill you in

your bed.” He
repeated his first statement. They tried to tempt him by frightening him, but
all in vain!

After that, when time
passed and civil strife became rampant, Ibn `Umar was always the hope of the

people who urged him
to accept the caliph’s position. They were ready to swear to him the oath of

allegiance, but he
always and constantly refused.

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His refusal may be
seen as a reprehensible act. However, he had his logic and argument. After the

murder of `Uthmaan
(May Allah be pleased with him) the situation got worse and aggravated in a

dangerous and
alarming way.

Although he was very
humble towards the position of the caliph, he was ready to accept its

responsibilities and
face its dangers, but only on the condition that he be voluntarily and
willingly chosen

by all Muslims.
However, to force one single Muslim to swear the oath of allegiance by sword
was what

he opposed, and so he
refused the post of caliph.

At that time,
however, this was impossible. Despite his merits and the public consensus of
love and

respect for him, the
expansion into the different regions, the long distances between them, and the

disputes which
furiously set fire between the Muslims and divided them into sects fighting
each other

made it impossible to
reach such a consensus set by Ibn `Umar as a condition for his acceptance of
the

caliphate.

A man once met him
and said, “No one is more evil in the whole Muslim community than
you!” lbn

`Umar said, `Why? By
Allah, I’ve never shed their blood, or divided their community, or sowed

dissension.” The
man replied, “If you had wished it, every single one would have agreed
upon you.” Ibn

`Umar said, “I
don’t like to see it (the caliphate) being offered to me while one man says no
and another

one says yes.

The people still
loved him even after events changed and the caliphate went to Mu’aawiyah, then
to

his son Yaziid, then
to Mu’aawiyah II, son of Yaziid, who stepped down renouncing its pleasure after
a

couple of days in
office.

Even on that day,
when lbn `Umar was an old man, he was still the people’s hope and the hope of

the caliphate. Thus
Marwaan went to him saying, “Give me your hand to swear to you the oath of

allegiance. You’re
the master of the Arabs, and the son of their master. ” Ibn `Umar asked,
`What are we

going to do with the
people of the east?” Marwaan said, “Beat them until they swear the
oath.” lbn `Umar

replied, “I
don’t like to be 70 years old and a man gets killed because of me.”

Marwaan went away
singing: I can see civil strife boiling in its pots and the kingdom after Abi
Laila

(i.e. Mu’aawiyah Ibn
Yaziid) will end in the hands of the victorious.

This refusal to use
force and the sword is what made lbn `Umar hold a position of neutrality and

isolation during the
armed civil strife between the parties of `Ally and Mu’aawiyah, reciting these
solemn

words:

To the one who says,
!Come to prayer,” I will respond.

And to the one who
says, “Come to success,” I will respond.

But to the one who
says, “Come to kill your Muslim brother”

to take his
money,” I will say, “No.”

But while remaining
neutral and isolated he never turned to hypocrisy. How often did he confront

Mu’aawiyah – while
the latter was at the summit of his authority – with challenges which confused
and

hurt him till he
threatened to kill him! and he was the one who said, “if there is only a
tiny hair between

me and the people it
won’t be torn.”

One day Al-Hajaaj
stood preaching and said, “lbn Az-Zubair has distorted the Book of
Allah!”

Hereupon Ibn Umar shouted
in his face, “You are lying! You are lying! You are lying!” Al-Hajaaj
was at

a loss, struck by
surprise.

Everything and
everyone was terrified even by the mention of his name. He promised lbn `Umar
the

worst punishment, but
Ibn `Umar waved his hand in A’-Hajaaj’s face and replied, while people were

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Around The Messenger

dazzled, “If you
do what you just promised, there is no wonder about it, for you are a foolish
imposed

ruler.”

However, despite his
strength and bravery, he remained cautious until his last days, never playing a

role in the armed
civil strife and refusing to lean towards either of the parties.

Abu Al-‘Aaliyah Al
Barraa’ related: I was once walking behind Ibn `Umar without his realizing it.
I

heard him saying to
himself, “They are holding their swords, raising them high, killing each
other, and

saying, `O Ibn `Umar,
give us a hand!’?”

He was filled with
sorrow and pain seeing Muslims blood shed by their own hands. As mentioned at the

very beginning, he
never awoke a sleeping Muslim. If he could have stopped the fight and saved the

blood he would have
done that, but the events were too powerful; therefore he kept to his house.

His heart was with
`Ally (may Allah be pleased with him), and not only his heart but it seems his

firm belief, based on
a narration of what he said in his last days: “I never felt sorry about
something that I

missed except that I
didn’t fight on the side of `Ally against the unjust party.”

However, when he refused
to fight with Imam Ally, on whose side truth was, it was not because he

sought a safe
position, but rather because he refused the whole matter of the dispute and
civil strife and

refrained from a
fight not one in which Muslims fight disbelievers, but one between Muslims who
cut

each other into
pieces.

He clarified this
when Naafi’ asked him, “O Abu `Abd Rahman, you are the son of `Umar and
the

Companion of the
Prophet (PBUH) and you are who you are. What hinders you from that
matter?” He

meant fighting on
Ally’s side. He replied, “What hinders me is that Allah has forbidden us
to shed the

blood of a Muslim.
Allah the Mighty and Powerful said: “and continue fighting them until
there is no

more persecutions and
GOD’s Religion prevails “(2:193) and we did that. We fought the
disbelievers

until Allah’s
religion prevailed, but now, what is it we are fighting for? I fought when the
idols were all

over the Sacred
House, from the corner to the door, until Allah cleared the land of the Arabs
from it

(idolatry). Should I
now fight those who say, There is no god but Allah?” That was his logic,
argument,

and conviction.

Thus he did not
refrain from fighting, nor abstain from taking part in battle to escape
fighting, nor

did he passively
refuse to determine the outcome of the civil war within the Ummah of the
faithful rather

he refused to hold a
sword in the face of a Muslim brother.

`Abd Allah lbn `Umar
lived long and witnessed the days in which life “opened its gates to the

Muslims.” Money
became more abundant, high positions more available, while ambition and desires

spread. But his
magnificent psychological capacities changed the rules of his time. He changed
the era of

ambition, money, and
civil strife into an era of asceticism, humility, piety, and peace. He turned

persistently to Allah
and lived according to his worship, firm belief, and humbleness. Nothing

whatsoever could
affect his virtuous nature shaped and modeled by Islam during his early years.

The nature of life
changed within the beginning of the Umayyid period. This change was inevitable.

It was a period of
expansion in every aspect of life, in the ambition of the state as well as the
ambitions

of individuals.

In the midst of the
excitement of temptation and the agitation of an era lured by the idea of

expansion with its
pleasure and booty, stood Ibn `Umar with his merits, occupying himself with his

excellent spiritual
progress. He gained from his great excellent life all that he desired, so that
his

contemporaries
described him by saying, “Ibn Umar died while being like Umar in his
merit.”

Moreover, dazzled by
the glitter of his merits, his contemporaries liked to compare him with his

father `Umar saying,
“`Umar lived in a time when similar ones could be found, and Ibn `Umar
lived in a

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Around The Messenger

time when there was
no one similar to him.” It is an exaggeration which may be forgiveable
because Ibn

`Umar deserved it.
But as for `Umar, no one can be compared to him. It is absolutely out of the
question

that a similar one is
to be found in any period of time.

In the year A.H. 73,
the sun sank and the ship of eternity hoisted its sail towards the next life

carrying the body of
the last representative of the first days of the Revelation in Makkah and Al

Madiinah: `Abd Allan
Ibn `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab.

 

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