Men of Excellence : Hazrat Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (ra)
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that he would continue highlighting incidents from the life of Hazrat Umar(ra).
The Fall of Jerusalem
His Holiness(aba) said under the leadership of Amr bin al-Aas, the Muslim army encircled Bait al-Maqdas, i.e. Jerusalem. The Christians eventually agreed to making a treaty, but said that they wanted Hazrat Umar(ra) himself to come and form the treaty. Thus, Hazrat Umar(ra), after consulting with other companions, set out for Bait al-Maqdas. His Holiness(aba) presented the statements of various historians regarding this incident and some of their varying views regarding these occurrences. It is stated that Hazrat Umar(ra) had already set out towards Bait al-Maqdas before any talk of the treaty, as Amr bin al-Aas had sent him a letter requesting assistance. Thus, Hazrat Umar(ra) had already set out and had stopped on the way at a place called Jabiyah, where he wished to consult with his army commanders. It was there that he was told of the Christian’s demand that he be present himself for the brokerage of a treaty.
His Holiness(aba) said that once Hazrat Umar(ra) was in Jabiyah, the Muslim commanders were summoned by Hazrat Umar(ra). When the commanders reached Jabiyah, Hazrat Umar(ra) saw that they had adopted a physical appearance that resembled other Arabs who dressed extravagantly. This displeased Hazrat Umar(ra), however they told him that they were still wearing armour underneath, and that this appearance was merely for fitting in among the other Arabs.
The Muslims Reach an Agreement with the Christians in Jabiyah
His Holiness(aba) said that it was in Jabiyah that the treaty between the Muslims and Christians was formed. When the Christians were arriving, they were riding horses and their swords were glistening. As such, the Muslims also drew their arms, but Hazrat Umar(ra) told them that these Christians had come to broker a peace treaty, and so, the Muslims should put away their weapons. In the treaty, Hazrat Umar(ra) said that the people of Ilya (where Bait al-Maqdas was located) would not be harmed, nor would their homes and their churches be harmed. Those who wished to go to the Romans were free to do so, and those who wished to stay on their lands were free to do so, as long as they paid the Jizyah.
His Holiness(aba) said that this showed that the Muslims did not impose themselves by way of the sword, they fostered religious freedom, and they never forced the Jizyah upon anyone, instead, everyone was always given a choice to either go somewhere else, or pay the Jizyah.
His Holiness(aba) said that after the treaty was finalised, Hazrat Umar went to Bait al-Maqdas. As Hazrat Umar(ra) arrived, he was dressed very modestly. The Muslims were worried about what the Christians would say, and so they offered him some valuable garment to wear. Hazrat Umar(ra) said that the honour of Islam which has been bestowed upon them is more than enough. The Christian priests handed over the keys to the city to Hazrat Umar(ra). He took a tour of the Bait al-Maqdas and when it came time for prayers, the Christians offered for him to offer prayers there. However, Hazrat Umar(ra) said he feared that if he did so, the Muslims would take this to be a sacred place for them, and then try to take it over. Thus, Hazrat Umar(ra) went outside and offered the prayers.
His Holiness(aba) said that people in Ilya began inviting Hazrat Umar(ra) to their homes. One day Hazrat Umar(ra) asked Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) why he had not invited him. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) said that if he invited Hazrat Umar(ra) in, he would not be able to control his emotions. However, they proceeded to Hazrat Abu Ubaidah’s(ra) tent, which was empty except for a make-shift cot, and some bread in the corner. Upon seeing this, tears began flowing from the eyes of Hazrat Umar(ra) and he embraced Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra).
Hazrat Bilal(ra) Gives the Call to Prayer Once Again
His Holiness(aba) said that while in Ilya, people requested Hazrat Umar(ra) for Hazrat Bilal(ra) to call the Azan (call for prayer). Hazrat Bilal(ra) said that he had vowed after the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa) to never call the Azan again. However, since Hazrat Umar(ra) had asked him, he agreed and called the Azan. This reminded everyone there of the time of the Holy Prophet(sa).
Strategic Capabilities of Hazrat Umar(ra) to Overcome a Great Trial
His Holiness(aba) said that as the Muslims gained victory after victory, people and cities were becoming fearful of losing their cities. The people of Jazirah, located between Iraq and Syria wrote to Heraclius seeking his help and asked him to send ships to combat the Muslims. He agreed to send help, as he thought this to be a winning plan. Upon learning that he had agreed, the people of Jazirah took an army of 30,000 to Homs. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) came to learn of these plots and ploys. He consulted with Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed(ra), and they agreed that in order to combat this, they should assemble the entire Muslim army in the South of Syria. When Heraclius’s ships arrived, the Muslims found themselves in a difficult situation. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) wrote to Hazrat Umar(ra) informing him of the delicate situation. Hazrat Umar(ra) commanded Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas(ra) to send help, and thus he sent an army of 4,000 towards Homs. However this would not be enough to combat the army of Jazirah. However, as the army of Jazirah was in Homs, Hazrat Umar(ra) commanded that another army should be sent to Jazirah, so that the army would have to return to Jazirah in order to defend their city, thus relieving the Muslim army in Homs who were facing a difficult situation. This showed the great strategic capabilities of Hazrat Umar(ra), and it proved successful, as when this happened, the army of Jazirah was forced to leave Homs and return to Jazirah. Eventually, the Muslims proved victorious.
His Holiness(aba) said that he would continue highlighting incidents from the life of Hazrat Umar(ra) in future sermons.
His Holiness(aba) said that he would lead the funeral prayers in absentia of the following deceased members:
Chaudhary Saeed Ahmad Lakhan who was residing in Canada. He was the grandson of a companion of the Promised Messiah(as). He is survived by six sons and three daughters, all of whom are serving the Community in one way or another. One of his sons is a Missionary in Kenya and could not attend his father’s funeral. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah grant him patience. He held a great deal of honour for his faith and for the Promised Messiah(as). He always advised his children to never fear anyone when it came to Ahmadiyyat. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah treat him with forgiveness and mercy.
Muhammad Shahabuddin who was serving as the Vice-President of the Community in Bangladesh. He accepted Ahmadiyyat after seeing a dream. He had many virtuous qualities and had a great deal of love for Khilafat. He is survived by four sons and three daughters. He faced opposition even from his family, but did so with great patience. He was a very trustworthy person. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah treat him with forgiveness and mercy.
Raul Abdullah of Argentina. He was one of the first Ahmadis in Argentina. He first learned of the Community at a book fair, and though people tried steering him away from the Community, he would still attend events. He attended the Jalsa Salana UK in order to remove any doubts in his mind, and after meeting His Holiness(aba), he became certain and then accepted Ahmadiyyat. He held great honour for the Community, and would proudly introduce himself as an Ahmadi. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah treat him with forgiveness and mercy and enable his family to also accept Ahmadiyyat.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions