We often see the festive reaction of Muslims when witnessing a new conversion to Islam in mosques or conferences. But why do we rejoice?
In addition to a genuine sense of happiness for the convert, there is another important community dimension. As Islam is constantly under attack, new converts who turn to Islam reinforce the faith of their brothers and sisters. They give us indirect moral support and additional reassurance and confidence.
Islam is not only an individual faith; it is a community-based religion. So next time you witness takbir in a masjid following a new Shahadah, keep that in mind.
New converts need the support of their Muslim community. At the same time, the whole Muslim community needs the kind of support that new converts give as they are part and parcel of their societies. In fact, each new convert brings his or her own additional strength to the Muslim community.
Something similar happened in the sixth year of the revelation. After more than 100 Muslims had migrated to Abyssinia, the number of Muslims left in Makkah seriously declined. One estimate puts the number of Muslim men remaining at that time at less than forty.
And those who could not leave were under increasing pressure as the weak among them faced tremendous hardships.
In this dark and difficult time, two leading men found the light of Islam and joined the ranks of Muslims.
The first of these two men was Hamza, Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) uncle. One day, Hamza was on a hunting expedition outside Makkah. Upon his return, he discovered his nephew had just been seriously cursed and insulted by his other uncle, Abu Lahab.
Upon learning the details of what had happened, Hamza charged over to find Abu Lahab at the Ka’bah, hit him on the head with a bow, and said, “You have been abusing Muhammad; I too follow his religion and profess what he preaches.”
It’s clear that Hamza’s initial reaction was to take revenge for his nephew, not really for his belief in Islam. But in time, he learned more about the religion from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Allah guided him to faith.
Hamza’s conversion was a great boost to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was the most senior person from Quraish to have converted at that point, and a strong support for the Muslim community. In fact, after Hamza’s conversion, the enemies of Islam in Makkah were forced to tone down their animosity for a while.
Nine years later, as a strong warrior, Hamza made an important contribution to the victory of Islam at the Battle of Badr. And one year later, he was martyred near Madinah in the Battle of Uhud. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called him the Lion of Allah, the Master of Martyrs.
The Story of Umar’s Conversion
Going back to the small Muslim community in Makkah, who were overjoyed with the news of Hamza accepting Islam, more good news was to follow only three days later.
Faced with many hardships, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made this supplication:
O Allah! Give strength to Islam especially through either of two men you love more: ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham.
Allah (SWT) responded to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) supplication, guiding Umar to Islam while he was on his way to kill Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Umar wanted to kill the man who had divided the people of Makkah while simultaneously cursing their gods.
On his way, Umar met one of his acquaintances who was a secret Muslim. This person suggested he should first deal with his own sister, Fatimah, and her husband Zayd, who had secretly accepted the message of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and converted to Islam. They had kept their new faith a secret and they would go to Dar Al-Arqam, where new converts gathered to learn from the Prophet (peace be upon him).
On that day, Fatimah was at home reciting the Qur’an with her husband and teacher. When Umar blasted his way into her house, the teacher hid. Umar attacked Zayd when he dared to say that he followed the religion of Muhammad (peace be upon him). While trying to protect her husband from Umar, Fatimah was struck on the face and fell to the ground bleeding.
On seeing his sister in that state, Umar felt mercy in his heart and asked her to give him the Qur’an scrolls from which they were reading. But she refused and said he had to first wash before touching the Qur’an, which he did.
After reading the first 14 verses of Surah Taha with great interest, he said, “How excellent it is, and how graceful! Please guide me to Muhammad.”
Umar Finally Submits
On hearing these words, the teacher, Khabbab ibn Al-Arat, came out of his hiding place and informed Umar he could meet the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Dar Al-Arqam.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Umar the reason he had come there, he answered:
O Messenger of Allah, I come to you in order to believe in Allah and His Messenger and that which he has brought from his Lord.” (The Sealed Nectar)
Upon hearing this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions made takbir and welcomed the new convert. Umar’s conversion to Islam had an immediate impact on the small Muslim community who were now able, for the first time, to pray in public at the Ka’bah. They went there in two rows, one led by Umar and the other led by Hamza, and were unharmed by the Quraish.
After every hardship comes ease, and this turning point gave new hope to the persecuted Muslims. It was a real triumph for the cause of Islam that raised their spirits and gave them strength to face the many challenges they were yet to deal with.
In the next part, we will see how the polytheists of Makkah responded with a severe economic embargo on the Muslims, and what happened in the following two years.
Please stay tuned.
Suggested Activities for New Converts Following this Series
1- New Converts & Their Muslim Communities
How to Find Your Place in Your New Community
Islam is Not Isolation: Seek Good Friends
New Converts’ Frustrations: Do Muslims Really Care?
Converts and Their Muslim Communities
How Can I Fit in With Other Muslims as a New Convert?
2- Learn more about the life of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, one of the heroes of Islam and the second ruler after Prophet Muhammad
The U-Turn That Made History – Umar Embraced Islam
Breaking Bottles – The Story of Umar with Alcohol
4 Leadership Qualities of Umar
Caliph Umar and Freedom of Faith in Jerusalem
Story of Umar and the Roman Ambassador
3- Belief in Allah is one of the six articles of faith. Umar’s heart changed from disbelief to belief as mentioned in this article. Learn more about this main article of faith in Islam
What Does Allah Mean? A Few Words About Allah
Allahu Akbar: Is Allah The Greatest in Our Lives?
Allah is Infinite: How Can Human Minds Comprehend Him?
How Can a Science-Lover Believe in Allah?
What is the Description of God in Islam?
4- Send us your questions on this series to: [email protected]
As this is a special series for new converts to learn about Islam in a comprehensive way through learning the Seerah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) in a gradual chronological way, we will add a few more resources of other areas of Islamic knowledge in each part of the Seerah at the end of each article as extra learning resources.
We will add new videos to this series as we progress from Year 1 to Year 23 in sha’ Allah.
The references we use in each article are given for further details. So please feel free to send us any questions you may have to this e-mail: [email protected]
You may also wish to join our Facebook Group, Islam 101, for further learning and also to interact with fellow new converts and those who are new to Islam here.
The Sealed Nectar – Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri
Seerah of Prophet Muhammad – 18: Conversion of Omar & Hamza and Boycott (Dr. Yasir Qadhi)
From Staunchest Enemy of Islam to a Powerful Supporter