After the death of Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam, Umar ibn al-Khattab r.a. conquered Jerusalem, or rather… he opened Jerusalem for there was no bloodshed, no battle involved. Jerusalem agreed to surrender, but only if the city keys were personally handed to Umar r.a., to which he agreed. So Jerusalem prepared a huge welcoming ceremony for Umar for they knew who he was – a man of justice.
Umar r.a. was a gigantic man, so much so that if he sat on a horse, his feet would touch the ground. Under his ruling in Madinah, there were distributions of clothes to all Muslims, and Umar r.a. had to take 2 garments instead of 1 and stitch them together, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to cover himself adequately. Even so, there were many stitches and patches on his garment. And for his travel to Jerusalem, Umar r.a. took with him a servant and his camel. Out of fairness, he – this powerful Muslim leader – made a deal with his servant that they would take turns riding the camel.
Abu Ubaida, a leading Muslim general in charge of the Greater Syria, met them on their way and they came upon a creek. Umar r.a. dismounted from his camel, took off his sandals and placed them over his shoulder, and then led the camel over the creek. Upon seeing this, Abu Ubaida said:
“O commander of the faithful, are you doing this?
You have taken off your sandals and placed them on your back and you led the camel through the creek yourself.
I do not think it will be easy for me to get the people of this country to honor you.”
[You will embarrass us, o leader of the Muslim Empire, with your stitched garments, your sandals on your back, and you leading your camel yourself!]
And here is the sheer confidence of Umar r.a. that ALL OF US should have. He replied:
“Verily, we were a disgraceful people and Allah honored us with Islam,
so if we seek honor from other than Islam, then Allah will humiliate us.”
Umar r.a. said that they were the most humiliated, most disgraced beings in the face of this earth. But all of these high rankings of a khalifah or general that they were now enjoying, and all of these great status and power which allowed them to conquer Jerusalem – all of these and MORE – it is Allah s.w.t. that gives all of them by virtue of Islam, by this Deen. And whoever seeks honor and dignity in anything else other than Islam, then Allah will reduce this person with humiliation.
This is important: That you believe that all success and all the solutions to your problems are there IN THIS DEEN. We Muslims today are confused, we seek honor and success from everything else than Islam. We seek it on the fashion runways, we seek it in our bank account and investment brimmed with riba’, we think Western = Success and Islam = Outdated. We start doubting this very Deen that Umar r.a. talked about.
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, we don’t get glory from pompous display. We don’t get success by seeking admiration and acceptance from others. If we want to firmly believe like Umar believed, then we need to have the correct Aqidah just like Umar r.a. did. And when we fully understand our Deen, we will find our conviction and commitment easy. Having the correct aqidah IS our core foundation, yet sadly, the most neglected.
May Allah s.w.t. strengthen our Iman in these trying times.
The Right Belief Series by Imam Karim AbuZaid
The Story of Jerusalem by Sh. Omar Suleiman
Jerusalem under Umar ibn al-Khattab’s Rule by IqraSense.com
Umar on Humility by Daily Hadith Online