Brave Heroes, Greater Sacrifices and Endless Life Lessons.
Some demand a happy ending, all smiles and warm hearts. Some of us like something a little more mysterious, a cliff-hanger, an open ending. And then the rest just like a good story, with engaging characters, a strong plot and an ending that fits the bill.
National Storytelling Week runs from January 30, 2022 – February 6, 2022. It is celebrated by all ages and encourages people to share great stories to inspire, entertain and educate. Storytelling use to be how people pasted time, and captured memories of generation passed. Now it is a great way to connect, and teach each other new ideas.
“We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.” – Jimmy Neil Smith, Director of the International Storytelling Centre
This year, we would like to focus on a true story with the greatest protagonist, that inspires us, and teaches us lessons. Stories which do not only educate us, but that feed the soul, remind us of the bravest heroes, the greatest sacrifices and the greatest lessons learnt. We have chosen a story to share with you on National Storytelling Week to help feed your soul.
From enmity to endless love – Umar ibn Al Khattab
Umar ibn Al Khattab (ra) was the second caliph and one of the greatest Muslim leaders of all time. He was known and feared because of his determination and fearless nature. Prior to his conversion to Islam, the religion was being taught in private. The Muslims feared persecution from the Quraish, which including persecution from Umar as he vocal in his hatred towards Islam. Umar (ra) was feared and respected among the Quraish which is why the Prophet (saw) made dua to either call him to the truth or Abu Jahl; both at the time great enemies of Islam.
The Prophet (saw)’s dua was soon accepted. Umar (ra)’s hatred for Islam led him to volunteer to kill the Prophet (saw). He walked towards the Prophet (saw)’s house determined to end his life, brimming with hatred for the Prophet (saw) and the true message. As he approached, one of the Makkan men who was secretly Muslim saw the look of anger of Umar’s face and approached him to ask him where he was going. Umar informed him of his intention to kill the Prophet (saw).
The young Makkan man feared for the Prophet (saw)’s life and in a bid to save him, led a secret slip which infuriated Umar (ra); the truth that Umar’s own sister and brother in law had secretly become Muslim. The young man said, “why don’t you take care of your own house first?” leading Umar (ra) to inquire what he meant, and resulting in him finding out the truth of his own family.
Umar (ra) now boiling with anger changed his direction, and walk towards his sister’s house, determined to question her and find out the truth. As he got closer to her house, he could here Qur’an being recited. Umar knocked on the door. Those who were inside the house scrambled to hide the Qur’an, in fear of Umar’s reaction. However, when Umar (ra) entered he asked them what the noise was. They said they were simply talking, but Umar did not believe his sister. He asked them, ‘Have you become Muslim?’. Umar’s brother in law confirmed that they have, and Umar immediately wrestled him to the ground, blinded by anger. Umar’s sister tried to stop her brother from hurting her husband and in the scuffle Umar (ra) hit her face.
She stood up bravely and faced her brother and said: “Do whatever you like, we are determined to die as Muslims.” Seeing the blood drip from his sister’s face and her defiance to stick to her beliefs, Umar (ra) began to calm down and requested to see what they were reading. However, she told him that he would need to make himself clean before he could read the Holy Quran. When he was clean, he read the beginning verses of Surah Taha.
When he came to the verse: “Verily, I am Allah. None has the right to be worshipped but I. So worship Me, and perform salat for My remembrance” (20:14), Umar responded: “Surely this is the word of Allah. Take me to the Prophet Muhammad (saw).”
When hearing this, Khabbab (ra) who was hiding in the house, in fear of torment from Umar (ra), emerged and informed him that the Prophet (saw)’s dua had been accepted of calling either him, or Abu Jahl to Islam. Umar (ra) then rushed to the Prophet (saw), those who surrounded him were fearful of what Umar’s intention was but when asked why he was there by the Prophet (saw) he responded: “O Messenger of God, I have come for no reason except to say I believe in God and his Messenger.”
The Prophet (saw) was overjoyed, and cried out Allahu Akbar! Within days of Umar’s conversation to Islam the Muslims could pray openly.
Lessons from Umar’s story
Umar (ra)’s story shows us an inspiring account of change. Umar (ra) was known to be one of the greatest enemy of Islam. He was feared by Muslims, and known for his short temper and strong determination. However, this did not stop the Prophet (saw) making dua for him to convert to Islam, so that Islam could be strengthened, and it did.
Umar (ra) after his conversation led his life in service of the Prophet (saw) and after his death, in the truth of Islam. He was a just, and fair ruler, who was a pinnacle influence in leading Islam to great victories and strengths.
The way Umar (ra)’s story started was one of hatred, and enmity, and ended in a love for Islam and the Prophet (saw) that knew no bounds. It gives us hope of change within ourselves, within our closest circles, and within our world.
No matter how your story starts, there are no guarantees of how it will end. We are not guaranteed an endless number of pages which we can write in; we may have a few pages to go, or hundreds of chapters. But was has been written in the past, can be rewritten with greater intentions, actions and rewards.
You don’t have to write your whole book immediately, just take it one sentence at a time and rewrite your narrative. The Creator of the Worlds is always there; it’s time to write a new story.