The Conversion of Hamza and Umar (RA) – Part 1
After the second migration to Abyssinia, not many Muslims remained in Mecca, and many of those who did were of the slave class. However, very soon after, Allah blessed them with two huge conversions that raised the prestige of the Muslims massively, and protected them from the extent of the oppression they had been previously facing.
The first conversion was that of Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib (RA), who was an uncle of the prophet. And he was a very respected and strong member of the Quraish, and well renowned for being a fearsome warrior and an archer, and he would often go on long hunting trips. Once, when he was gone on one of these trips, it just so happened that near Mount Safa Abu Jahal bumped into the prophet. And he was in a foul mood that day, and so he began to curse the prophet like he had never cursed him before. And he cursed his lineage and his tribe and all of the people associated with him, but the prophet never said a word in response during the entire ordeal. However, it was the women of the Banu Hashim who became extremely insulted – as Abu Jahal had insulted their tribe and forefathers as well – so much so that when Hamza (RA) returned they began to taunt him, demanding, ‘What kind of uncle are you? What kind of leader are you? When your own nephew is insulted, and no stands up to defend him?’ And when Hamza demanded to know what had happened, they began listing the curses and insults that Abu Jahal had thrown at the prophet and the Banu Hashim. Now this became a matter of pride and honour for Hamza, so when he asked, ‘Did the other people see? Was this a public insult?’ and the women replied, ‘The whole of Mecca saw it!’ he completely lost his mind. And he marched up to the Kahbah – still in his hunting gear – and went straight up to Abu Jahal sitting in the middle of his congregation, and smacked him across the face with his bow. A huge gush of blood came out, and Hamza shouted, ‘How dare you curse my own nephew?’ and before he even knew what he was saying, ‘And I too am a follower of his religion!’ Now this shocked Hamza as much as it shocked everyone else – he was simply there to defend his nephew and tribe’s honour – but by throwing his allegiance in with Muhammad ﷺ he was challenging Abu Jahal and putting the Muslims under his protection. And so, without even meaning to, one of the most senior and strongest members of the Quraish publicly accepted Islam, only in order to defend his tribal honour.
After this, Hamza went home confused and uncertain as to what he was going to do now. He could not take back what he had said – it had been a challenge and to take it back would be too embarrassing – and so he made a du’a to Allah: ‘O Allah, you know that I am one of the leaders of the Quraish, and I have just said something that I cannot take back. So if this matter is true, then cause my heart to be guided to it, and if it is not true, then cause me to die right now.’ And the next morning he went to the prophet and explained his situation, and asked him what he should do. And so the prophet stood up and began talking to Hamza, telling him about Islam and giving dawah, convincing him of its truth, until finally Hamza said, ‘I testify that you are a truthful person and are speaking the truth, and now I don’t ever want to return to the paganism and religion of my forefathers.’ And this conversion was a huge gift for the Muslims, as Hamza (RA) was hugely feared and respected throughout Mecca as being one of their strongest warriors, so much so that the Quraish had to tone down their persecution of the Muslims because of how huge of a figure he was. And in fact, later he would become the first war minister of the Muslims, and be given the title ‘Asad Allah,’ meaning ‘Lion of Allah.’
It is reported that just 3 days later Allah blessed the Muslims with the conversion of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA). Now before his conversion, Umar had been one of the staunchest enemies of the prophet and the Muslims, alongside Abu Jahal. And he was a very tough man; however inside he had a soft and sincere heart. And as we know, when Laila the wife of Aamir ibn Rabiya (RA) was packing her camel for the first migration to Abyssinia, he showed some of his sympathetic nature and made du’a for her when hearing that the Muslims had to migrate away from their home. However this was not the only incident: Once Umar had a craving for drink, and so he went out late one evening to the house where the people usually came together to drink, but to his surprise found it empty. And so he decided to do tawaf instead, just to get his mind off the craving. Now, as he was approaching the Kahbah he began hearing the prophet, all alone, reciting the Quran, and so he realised that now was the time that he could attack Muhammad ﷺ without anyone seeing. And so he began creeping up behind him. However, as he heard the prophet’s recitation more and more he slowly stopped and listened. And the prophet was reciting Surah Al-Haaqqah, and Umar (RA) became amazed at its power and indisputable beauty. And so he thought, ‘It must be the statement of a beautiful poet just like the Quraish is saying.’
However as soon as he thought this the next ayat the prophet recited was, ‘And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe.’
So Umar thought, ‘Ok, it must be a soothsayer.’
‘Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember.’
‘Where is this from then?’
‘[It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.’
‘What if he (Muhammad ﷺ) is inventing it?’
‘And if he had made up about Us some [false] sayings, we would have seized him by the right hand, then We would have cut from him the jugular.’ And so, in this way, Allah had a conversation with Umar (RA) through the prophet, without him even knowing it. And this was the first time that Islam entered Umar’s heart.
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 018