Umar Ibn Al-Khattab Attacked For Publicly Declaring That He Became A Muslim

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Kaleef K. Karim

In the early Makkan period, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab got attacked for publicly declaring that he believed in Islam. This incident is recorded by the early biographer, Ibn Ishaq (704 – 768 AD):

“Nafi freedman of Abdullah b. Umar on the authority of Ibn Umar said: ‘When my father Umar became a Muslim he said, ‘Which of the Quraysh is best at spreading reports?’ and was told that it was Jamil b. Ma’mar al-Jumahi. So he went to him, and I followed after to see what he was doing, for although I was very young at the time I understood everything I saw. He went to Jamil and asked him if he knew that he had become a Muslim and entered into Muhammad’s religion; and, by God, hardly had he spoken to him when he got up dragging his cloak on the ground as ‘Umar followed him and I followed my father, until he stood by the door of the mosque and cried at the top of his voice while the Quraysh were in their meeting-places round the Ka’ba, ‘Umar has apostatized,’ while Umar behind him shouted, ‘ He is a liar; but I have become a Muslim and testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and apostle.’ They got up to him and fighting went on between them until the sun stood over their heads, and he became weary and sat down while they stood over him, as he said, ‘Do as you will, for I swear by God that if we were three hundred men we would have fought it out on equal terms.’
At this point a shaykh of the Quraysh, in a Yamanu robe and an embroidered shirt, came up and stopped and inquired what was the matter. When he was told that Umar had apostatized he said, ‘Why should not a man choose a religion for himself, and what are you trying to do? Do you think that B. Adiy will surrender their companion to you this way? Leave the man alone,’ by God, it was as though they were a garment stripped of him. After my father had migrated to Medina I asked him who the man was who drove away the people on the day he became a Muslim while they were fighting him, and he said, ‘That, my son, was al-As b. Wa’il al-Sahmi.’
Abdu’l-Rahman b. al-Harith from one of Umar’s clan or one of his family said that Umar said, ‘When I became Muslim that night I thought of the man who was the most violent in enmity against the apostle so that I might come and tell him that I had became a Muslim, and Abu Jahl came to my mind.’ Now Umar’s mother was Hantama d. Hisham b. al-Mughira. So in the morning I knocked on his door, and he came out and said, ‘The best of welcomes, nephew, what has brought you?’ I answered that I had come to tell him that I believed in God and His apostle Muhammed and regarded as true what he had brought. He slammed the door in my face and said, ‘God damn you, and damn what you have brought.’ (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, [Oxford University Press – Seventeenth Impression 2004], page 158 – 159)

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