May you have a blessed Friday, everyone! For Muslims, Friday is a day of 'Eid. It is a day in which Allah [s.w.t.] is abundantly giving us opportunities to earn as much rewards as we can, so let us not squander it.
Our topic for today begins with a hadith related by Abdullah bin Umar (r.a.) whom narrated that one day, the Beloved Prophet [s.a.w.], went out and entered the mosque with Abu Bakr and 'Umar, one on his right hand and the other on his left, holding their hands. Then he said: "We will be raised thus on the Day of Resurrection." [at-Tirmidhi]. MasyaAllah - the closeness and intimacy between them as friends is truly beautiful! Let us today speak of Sayyidina 'Umar al-Khattab [r.a.], through the event of his reversion to Islam.
Abu Huraira [r.a.] narrated that the Beloved Prophet [s.a.w.] said: "People are like mines of silver and gold; the best of them in the days of Ignorance (jahilliyah) are the best of them in Islam when they attain knowledge.” [Muslim, Mishkat] And so, one day, he made a prayer: "Oh Allah! Strengthen Islam with whoever is more beloved to you, Umar ibn al Khattab or Abu Jahl ibn Hisham." Allah granted his prayers and Sayyidina Umar embraced Islam the next day. The fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.) made dua for these two staunch enemies of Islam demonstrates to us that he could see the potential within them for change.
At that time Umar was one of the opponents of the Prophet and the Muslims. One day, on his way to Dar-ul-Arqam with the intention of murdering the Prophet, a passer-by informed him that his sister and her husband had embraced Islam. Upon arriving at her house, Umar found them reciting the verses of the Qur'an. He started beating his brother-in-law severely. When his sister came to rescue her husband, he also beat her until she started bleeding. He then asked her to give him what she was reciting. His sister replied in the negative and said "You are unclean, and no unclean person can touch the Scripture." Umar gave in, took ablution and read the following verse:
"Verily, I am Allah: there is no God but Me; so serve only Me, and establish regular prayer for My remembrance." (Ta-Ha 20:14)
He was so struck by the beauty of the verses that he accepted Islam that day. He immediately went to the Prophet [s.a.w.] and declared his faith in front of the Prophet and his companions. Soon after, he prayed openly in the vicinity of the Ka'abah for the very first time, which gave confidence to other Muslims to declare their faith openly. The Quraish, who watched these events in great anger, did not dare to challenge Sayyidina Umar [r.a.]. Sayyidina Umar's conversion to Islam granted power to the Muslims and to the Islamic faith in Mecca. It was after this event that Muslims offered prayers openly in Masjid al-Haram for the first time. Due to this, he was given the title of "Al-Faruq" by the Beloved Prophet [s.a.w.]
There are many lessons we can learn from Sayyidina Umar [r.a.], but based on just this one event, the following shines through:
1- The Qur'an has the ability to melt hearts. Read it, understand it, embrace it. If it could change the heart of an enemy to Islam, it can mould your hearts too;
2- No matter what your plans are, if your intention is pure and your heart is open to the Truth, Allah will guide you to His Path;
3- If a Muslim is firm in his belief, he will not be afraid to practice his faith openly; and
4- Do not give up hope to change for the better. In this case, an enemy of Islam became its protector and leader.
The story of Sayyidina 'Umar [r.a.] is truly an inspirational story about Hope. Sometimes we give up hope returning to Allah because we feel like we have committed too much wrongdoings. We lose hope because all we see are our own sins, but we blind ourselves from His Mercy and His Forgiveness. Yet Allah [s.w.t.] says: "Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful." [az-Zumar 39:53]
After all, Sayyidina 'Umar [r.a.] was on his way to murder the Beloved Prophet [s.a.w.], but he is now buried right next to him! So keep on striving and always aim for a better change.
Hence, my beloved students, never give up on yourself and never give up on others. May you always be under the protection, love and guidance of Allah [s.w.t.] and His Beloved [s.a.w.].