He is Umar ibn Al Khattab, or Al Farooq (the distinguisher), and he was so called for his shrewdness and boldness in differentiating between the good and the evil, the truth and falsehood, defending the weak and fighting the oppressor regardless of his power, political and social status, or wealth.   “If there be a prophet after me, that would be Umar ibn Al Khattab”- said the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is the essence of the personality of Umar ibn Al Khattab, the second in order in the chain of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and a great leader in the history of Islam, succeeding Caliph Abu Bakr (632–634). Umar was not only a successful leader and statesman who looked after the affairs of Muslims, he was also an expert jurist who was most prominent for his justice. He as also a skilled warrior of exemplary armed experience. Under his leadership, the Islamic empire expanded widely reaching far and wide. RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY AND FREEDOM Umar ibn Al-Khattab has been known for his explicit respect and reverence of human  dignity and freedom, and such conception has been demonstrated through his acts, words and stances from several historic situations that took place during his era. Such prominent characteristic of Umar was best exemplified in his famous statement” “Since when have you turned people into slaves, while they are born free of their mothers?” This famous quote refers to a situation wherein the son of Amr ibn Al A’s joined some Copt Christian in a horse race, son of Amr abused the Christian guy- on hearing this, Umar ibn Al Khattab made the Copt punish the son of Amr publicly, addressing Amr and his son, saying that famous statement above. WISDOM AND STRENGTH Umar’s leadership and political approach was a clear embodiment of the teachings and guidance of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, being a notable companion of his, who kept close to him throughout his life and fully grasped the spirit and the essence of his message and guidance, that is the religion of Islam which the Prophet, pbuh, was sent by Almighty Allah to spread and deliver to humanity.   In a letter sent to Abu Musa Ash’ari, a well-known companion of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and a notable figure in the history of early Muslims who was once appointed as a governor of Basra and Kufa and took part in a number of conquests of Persia, Umar wrote saying: “People generally hate their ruler, and I seek protection of Allah, if my people should have similar feelings about me. Avoid vain suspicions and keep away from malice, and don not encourage people to attach to vain hopes, and be careful of Allah’s property. Guard yourself against evil men. If you find any people who are maliciously inclined towards the Muslim state, it is devilish inclination and must be put down by the sword, until they bow to Allah’s decision and turn to better ways”. REVERED BY ALL Umar, besides his respect for human rights, dignity and freedoms, was strong, firm and just. He was respected by all, and this respect earned him the renowned position he claimed among his subjects. Sudaysa reports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Wherever Satan encountered Umar since the latter embraced Islam, he fells on his face.” And in another Hadith, narrated by Al-Tirmidhi, the Prophet, pbuh, said: “I see Satanic jinns and people flee from Umar.” Evil souls, of humankind and Jinns, hate strong and just figures, let alont those who are God fearing and pious. Abu Sa’id Al Khudary narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “People of higher ranks can be seen by those beneath them the way you can detect a bright star shining in the sky. Abu Bakr and Umar are among them. How excellent they are”- Narrated by Al-Tirmidhi. Lady Aicha, wife of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “I brought the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, some Khaizarah (boiled pieces of meat to which flour is added). I told Sawdah, while the Prophet was seared between the two of us, ‘Have some.’ She refused my offer. I said: ‘Either you eat or I will smear your face with it.’ Yet she refused it. So, I dipped my hand in the Khazirah and stained her face. The Prophet laughed and said to Sawdah, ‘Stain her face as well.’ The Prophet, peace be upon him, laughed. Umar passed by and called out, ‘O Allah’s slave, O Allah’s slave! The Prophet thought he was going to come in, so he said, ‘Get up and wash your faces.’ Aicha said, ‘I have always feared Umar as Allah’s Messenger revered him.’”- Reported by Abu Ya’la. This charisma and stature continued after becoming a Caliph, yet it never caused him to be arrogant, overconfident or imprudent. “O Allah, let me not fall into an error, nor let me be called to account on unawares, nor let me fall into neglect, ” this is how Al Farooq used to end his speeches, which reflects his honest keenness on being just and God-fearing. This is how a leader should be. Stay tuned for Part II Wassalaam, Maha Youssuf maha@muslimtribune.org Posted on: December 2, 2012