There is no place on Earth as venerated, as central or as holy to so many people as Makkah. By any objective standard, this valley in the Hijaz region of Arabia is the most celebrated place on Earth. It is so fortunate for those who were given a chance by Allah to see the Kaabah with their eyes, touch it with their hands, and sujood in front of it with their foreheads.
This renown man was a harsh man. The Quran changed him!
This mighty man doubted Islamic prophethood
He was raised harsh and tough by his father and eventually grew up to be one. Carrying his tall, muscular physique everywhere, people around had trembled many a time at his presence.
Possessing exceptional skills in wrestling and martial arts he was feared by many. Nobody in their right mind would dare to provoke him for fear they would suffer adverse consequences.
There were only a few men with such standing among the Arab Quraish. Umar, son of al-Khattab was one of them.
The news of some people embracing a new faith by the name of Islam upset Umar tremendously. He expressed his abhorrence of the new religion and partook in torturing those who deserted their ancestors’ belief to embrace Islam.
Umar’s active opposition to Islam disadvantaged the fledgling Muslim community who was the minority at the time. The Muslims were already in constant fear of persecution from the non-Muslims of the Quraish tribe. Now that the incredible Umar had waged in the Quraish fight, the oppression was only expected to intensify.
To sustain the Islamic da’wah Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) supplicated Allah:
“O, Allah! Give Islam strength through one of the men you love more: ‘Umar, son of al-Khattab or Amr, son of al Hisham (Abu Jahl).”
The Quran answered him
There was an event in Mecca, when Umar first encountered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the Mosque of Haram. This was also the initial moment of Islam entering his heart as he acknowledged it later.
The Prophet of Islam was praying before his very eyes, reciting the Quranic Chapter of al-Haqqah (the Reality). Umar immediately recognised the beauty of the recited verses :
“By Lord, this is poetry as the Quraish people have said” he exclaimed.
Right after that exclamation, the Prophet reached the 40th and 41st verse of the chapter:
“(That) indeed, the Quran is the word of a noble Messenger. And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe.” (al-Quran 69:40-41)
Umar was shocked upon hearing this immediate response. Had that man of the new religion foreseen and foreknown what he would be saying? “He must be a soothsayer” Umar said to himself echoing the sentiment of his fellow Quraish unbelievers.
As Umar said that, the next verses were being recited by the Prophet (PBUH):
“Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you reflect. (It is) a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.” (al-Quran 69: 42-43)
It is hard to miss the point that such a serendipitous moment of revelation was divinely orchestrated.
His sister had become a Muslim!
As the number of Meccans deserting their old faith grew, Umar became more agitated than ever.
Umar decided he must go and exterminate this “man who has disunited our people, cursed our gods and made fools of us,” as he expressed it to another Meccan man, Nu’aim.
He did not know that Nu’aim was already a believer in Islam as his conversion was not disclosed to the Meccan public. To rescue the Prophet from Umar’s deadly intent, Nu’aim tried to divert him.
“Why don’t you take care of your own house first?” Nu’aim questioned Umar.
Umar demanded Nu’aim to explain himself. Nu’aim revealed that Umar’s sister and her husband had secretly converted to Islam. In no time, Umar changed his direction to her sister’s house.
As he approached the house, his ears could capture the murmuring sound of the Quran being recited. He banged on the door loudly enough to shock the occupants and hastening them to hide the copies of the Quran.
He demanded to know if what he heard earlier was some Quranic recitations, but her sister denied it and told that they were only having a conversation.
“Have you become a Muslim?” Umar menaced her husband. He affirmed it and was consequently wrestled to the ground. Umar’s sister tried to stop him, but Umar hit her face, drawing blood. She stood up back to him.
How a tragedy became a blessing
Umar’s sister said:
“You enemy of Allah! You would hit me just because I believe in Allah. Whether you like it or not, I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger. Do whatever you will!”
Umar paused, holding his anguish and distress. He asked for the verses of the Quran he just heard to be recited to him.
“Ta, Ha. We have not sent down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed. But only as a reminder for those who fear (Allah).
“A revelation from He who created the earth and highest heaven. The Most Merciful (who is) above the Throne established. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil.”
“And if you speak aloud — then indeed, He knows the secret and what is (even) more hidden. Allah – there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the most beautiful names.” (al-Quran 20:1-8)
Then, the eyes of Umar — the man of strength and severity — began to well with tears from listening to those beautiful words. “Is this what we were against?,” Umar asked. “The One who has spoken these words needs to be worshipped.”
Allah had indeed answered the Prophet’s supplication. Umar went to him straight away and declared his faith. “O Messenger of Allah, I have come for no reason except to say I believe in Allah and his Messenger.”
The Prophet was overjoyed. The Muslims were relieved. With Umar on their side, the effort of spreading the message of Islam could only advance.
That is just one of the stories of how the conversion of a great man became a great help to Islam and da’wah. The Prophet was delighted on having Umar. He would too if you come on board.
When Allah chose us to shine His light of guidance and to assist in His religion, no man would be able to prevent it.
When Allah chose a heart to be graced with His Words, no heart is too hard to Him, for He is the Creator and Bearer of our hearts.