Humbleness Of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA)

Humbleness Of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA)

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) said, “Al-‘Abbaas (ra) (the Prophet’s uncle, and ‘Abdullah’s father) owned a gutter that ran from his home to a path that ‘Umar (ra) often used. One Friday, Umar (ra) attired himself in his clothing [and prepared to make his way towards the Masjid. That same morning, however, two small birds were slaughtered for Al-Abbaas (ra); and so, when ‘Umar (ra) walked by Al-‘Abbas’s drain, some water that was mixed with the two birds’ blood fell from the drain and landed on ‘Umar (ra), thus soiling his clothing. ‘Umar (ra) ordered that the drain be removed, and then het returned to his home, removed his stained clothing, and wore an outfit that he was forced to borrow from someone else. He (ra) then went out again and led the people in Prayer. Afterwards, Al-‘Abbaas (ra) went to him and said, ‘By Allah, the drain was put in that spot by none other than the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.’ ‘Umar (ra) replied, “I take a firm pledge from you that you will climb my back and [while seated or standing on my shoulders you will] put the drain back in the exact spot that the Prophet ﷺ had placed it.’ Al-Abbaas (ra) then complied, doing exactly what ‘Umar (ra) told him to do.”[1]

Al Hasan Al-Basree (may Allah have mercy on him) related that, on a hot and scorching day, Umar (ra) went out, with his robe placed over his head. He (ra) passed by a young boy who was riding a donkey, and he (ra) said to the boy; “O young boy, carry me with you,” The boy jumped off the donkey and said “Ride, O Leader of the Believers.” The boy said this, insisting that Umar (ra) ride in front on the saddle, and that he ride behind him. But ‘Umar (ra) rejected the boy’s offer, saying, “No! Instead you ride, and I will sit behind you. You want me to sit on a smooth surface (on the saddle), while you sit on a rough surface. Umar (ra) climbed the donkey and sat behind the boy; and when they entered Madeenah, the people stared at them, amazed that their leader was commuting in such an uncomfortable manner, while a common, ordinary boy was seated comfortably on a saddle.[2] 

Sinaan ibn Salamah Al-Hudhalee related that he and a group of youths went out into a field and began to pick up unripe dates from the ground. Suddenly, and to the terror of the children, Umar (ra) approached them, and he (ra) was holding a stick in his hand. Upon seeing ‘Umar (ra), the children scattered away, hiding behind nearby date-palm trees. As for Sinaan, he stayed where he was; and as he stood up from the ground, a bulge could clearly be seen in his lower garment, for it was inside of his lower garment that he had stored the unripe dates that he had picked up earlier. Sinaan looked up at ‘Umar (ra) and said, “O Leader of the Believers, these [unripe dates] were blown by the wind. “Or in other words, “I didn’t steal them from the trees, but instead I found them lying here on the field.” Much to Sinaan’s surprise, ‘Umar (ra) did not hit him or otherwise chastise him. ‘Umar’s neutral reaction emboldened the boy, who proceeded to say, “O Leader of the Believers, when you leave] the other boys will come out and take what I have stored [in my lower garment).” ‘Umar (ra) replied, “No [they certainly will not do that)! Walk.” ‘Umar (ra) then accompanied the boy, walking with him until he reached his family’s house.[3]

On another hot, scorching day, a delegation from Iraq arrived in Madeenah, and one of the delegates was Al-Ahnaf ibn Qais (ra). When the delegates reached Umar (ra), they were surprised to see that he (ra) was wrapped in a cloak, and that he (ra) was busy anointing a camel with tar. That particular camel was earmarked for charity, which probably explains why ‘Umar (ra) was anointing it. He at was doing so in order to make it easily identifiable.

‘Umar (ra) turned to Al-Ahnaf (ra) and said, “O Ahnaf, remove your clothing Land instead wear something that is more suited for hard work; and come and help the Leader of the Believers with this camel. For indeed, it is one of the camels that are meant for charity; each of the following categories of people has a right over it. The orphan, the widow, and the poor.” One of the delegates said, “May Allah forgive you, O Leader of the Believers! Should you not have ordered a do this work, so that you would not have to do it yourself?”

‘Umar (ra) replied, “And which slave is more of a slave than I am? And who is Al-Ahnaf? He is among those who are charged with authority over the affairs of Muslims; therefore, he owes to them (i.e., to Muslims) – in terms of services, sincerity, and fulfilling the trust – the same duties that a slave owes to his master.”[4]

‘Urwah ibn Az-Zubair (ra) related that, upon once seeing ‘Umar (ra) carrying a container of water on his shoulder, he approached him and said,’ “O Leader of the Believers, you should not do such work.”

‘Umar (ra) replied, “When many delegations of people came to me, promising to listen and obey my orders), a feeling of arrogance crept inside of me and so I wanted to subdue, overmaster, and expel that feeling [by doing this menial and labor-intensive task].”[5]

Anas ibn Maalik (ra) said, “One day, I heard ‘Umar ibn Al- Khattaab’s voice, and so I went out and followed him. He soon entered a garden, and even though the two of us were separated by a wall, with him on the inside land me on the outside, I could hear him say, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab is the Leader of the Believers. indeed! By Allah, O small son of Al-Khattaab, you will fear Allan, or He will indeed punish you.”[6]

Jubair ibn Nafeer related that a group of men said to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (ra), “We have never met any man who judges more justly than you do; nor any man who speaks the truth more reliably and consistently than you do; nor a man who is more severe against the hypocrites than you are O Leader of the Believers. After the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, you are the best of people.” ‘Auf ibn Maalik (ra) did not even give Umar (ra) a chance to m respond to their praise; instead, he (ra) quickly interjected, “By Allah, you are all lying. After the Messenger of Allah ﷺ [died], we have indeed seen someone who is better [than ‘Umar (ra)].”

“Who is that man?” someone asked.

“Abu Bakr (ra),” replied ‘Auf (ra).

‘Umar (ra) said, “Auf has spoken the truth, and the rest of you have lied. By Allah, Abu Bakr (ra) was better than the fragrance of Al-Misk (the best kind of perfume), and he (ra) was like that at a time when I was more misguided than my family’s camel.” ‘Umar (ra) was referring to when he (ra) was still a polytheist, for Abu Bakr (ra) embraced Islam six years before he (ra) did the same.[7]

It is a sign of humbleness to show respect to one’s superiors. “Umar (ra), as illustrated in the previous example, paid respect not just to the living, but also to the dead. With the passing of years some people forgot about the best of the Prophet’s Companions, Abu Bakr (ra). But ‘Umar (ra) did not let them forget; instead he as reminded them about Abu Bakr’s superiority and about his noble character. ‘Umar’s response “Auf has spoken the truth, and the rest of you have lied. By Allah, Abu Bakr (ra) was better than the fragrance of Al-Misk (the best kind of perfume)” – was a testimony both to his loyalty and to his strong Eemaan (Faith).[8]

‘Umar (ra) knew that it was morally reprehensible to forget people who made so many tremendous sacrifices for the cause of Islam. In fact, as a rule, any Nation that forgets those who served its interests with sincerity and dedication – is a Nation that is headed towards destruction. ‘Umar (ra) learned the basic values of loyalty and faithfulness directly from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. The sad news, in fact the greatest of calamities, is that the Prophet ﷺ died, so that we do not have him in our midst. But the good news is that, if we want to adopt the values and morals that ‘Umar (ra) adopted, we still have among us the Book of Allah and the recorded Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (SAW).[9]

[The Biography of Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (RA) by Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad As-Sallaabee, Vol. 1, p. 346-350]


[1] Sifatus-Safwah (1/285).

[2] Ashaab Ar-Rasool, by Mahmood Al-Misree (1/157)

[3] Salaah Al-Ummah Fee Uwwwil-Himmah, by Sayyid Al-‘Affaanee (5/425),

[4] Akhbaar ‘Umar (pg. 343); and Ashaab Ar-Rasool, by Mahmood Al- Misref (1/156).

[5] Madaarij As-Saalikeen (2/330)

[6] Imam Malik’s Al-Muwattah (2/992); and the chain of this narration is athentic.

[7] Manaaqib Umar, by Ibn Al-Jauzee (pg. 14) and Mand As-Sawwaad (21586).

[8] Shaheed Al-Maihraab (pg. 144).

[9] Ibid., (pgs. 144, 145).

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