Omar was twenty seven when the Holy Prophet began his mission. Young Omar was one of those who did not care to listen to the message of Islam. He was for the old way of life. As years went by, Islam made a slow headway.
This made Omar angry. Do what the Makkan(1) chiefs might, people who once went over to Islam never went back to their old faith. One of Omar's own maid-servants became a Muslim. He beat her as much as he could, but she would not give up the new faith.
At last in the sixth year of the Mission, a number of Muslims left for Abyssinia. This made Omar boil with rage. "Here is a man," he thought to himself "who has split the people. People lived smoothly enough. He appeared on the scene He has torn son from father and brother from brother. Now his followers are running away to another land. Surely Muhammad is the cause of all trouble. I must slay him and put an end to the trouble."
With this resolve Omar drew his sword and set out to kill the Holy Prophet. On the way he met a friend who asked him why he looked so upset. Omar told him what he was going to do. "You better take care of your own kin first," said the friend, "Your sister and her husband have gone over to Islam."
These words changed the direction of Omar's anger. He went straight to the house of his sister, Fatima. He knocked at the door. Someone was reciting the Quran inside. Fatima was terrified when she heard Omar's voice. She hid the portion of the Quran she was reading and opened the door.
"What was it that you were reciting just now?" Omar demanded.
"Oh nothing," said the sister.
"Why nothing?" he shouted in rage.
"I have heard it alright. I know you both have accepted Muhammad's faith."
Saying this, he began to beat his brother-in-law, Saeed. Fatima ran to his help and got a blow to the head. The head began to bleed. This made the couple bold. "Yes, we have become Muslims," they shouted at Omar. "Do what you will."
The sight of the bleeding sister deeply moved Omar. Fatima was such a loving sister! Surely there must be some great truth in the Quran which had won her innocent heart. "Would you let me have a look at the Quran?" said Omar.
Fatima handed him the few pages of the book she had.
Omar sat down to study the pages. Soon his face changed. His anger cooled down. The fear of Allah gripped his heart. He wept and declared, "Surely this is the word of Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah."(2)
Omar was again on his way to the place of the Holy Prophet. But he was a changed man. He was not going to slay him but to embrace his faith.
The Holy Prophet was sitting in the company of some men. He saw Omar coming and asked, "Omar, what brings you here?"
"O Prophet of Allah!" replied Omar, "I have come to embrace Islam."
Great was the joy of the Holy Prophet and his followers. Loud shouts of "Allah is Great" rented the air of Mecca. Soon everyone knew that Omar was no longer an enemy of Islam. It was a great day for Islam because one of its bitterest enemies had become its staunch follower.