Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) was assassinated while leading the fajr prayer. His killer, Abu Lu’ Lu’ was a fire-worshipper who was an expert blacksmith and a slave captured during the conquest of Nahawand. His slave-master would take most of his earnings and he complained to Umar (RA) in his capacity as the ruler of the Muslims. Umar(RA) advised him to be patient. Abu Lu’ Lu’ not satisfied with this and left in a fury. In the meantime, Umar(RA) went and spoke to his master asking him to reduce the amount he levied from Abu Lu’ Lu’s work and the master agreed.
Unknown to them both, Abu Lu’ Lu’ stewed in his rage. Being a master blacksmith, he crafted a special knife, made of two curving blades, made out of stone. He bought poison, and soaked his knife in it. He asked the person he bought the poison from, “if I cut someone with this, is there any chance they will survive?” and the person said “no.”
The following day, at Fajr, Abu Lu’ Lu’ snuck into the masjid. After salaah started, while ‘Umar was praying, he jumped out and stabbed him deeply in the stomach, the blade cutting both ways.
Inflicted with this mortal wound, the Khalifa Umar (RA) was surrounded by the Companions and while he lay on the floor in a pool of blood, his main worry was the prayer and he insisted “finish the salaah, finish the salaah” as sunrise was approaching. Anything he was given to eat or drink would seap out from the wound and his family and friends knew that it was fatal.
In this state, his head was laying on the lap of his son and he requested “Remove my head from your lap and place it in the dirt -perhaps Allah(SWT) will see my state and have Mercy on me.” His son reluctantly put his head on the ground and after some time Umar(RA) fell unconscious due to the pain. Seeing the state of his father – bleeding, unconscious, about to die his son – out of pity – put his head back in his lap. When Umar(RA) regained consciousness and realised he was angry, saying “Didn’t I tell you to put me in the dirt. Return me to it so perhaps Allah(SWT) will have pity on me”. Despite his status, being confirmed as a person of Jannah by the Prophet(SAW), he was uncertain about his own state until his last moments. His relationship with Allah(SWT) was the most important thing to him and he (RA) lived true to his words:
Hold yourself to account before you are judged, and weigh your actions before they are weighed against you.”
Other sayings on self-evaluation
The prominent Taabi’ee, Maymoon ibn Mihraan – may Allaah have mercy upon him – would say:
A slave will not be pious until he holds himself to account more severely than a man does with his business partner; that is why it was said that the soul is like the untrustworthy partner whom, if you do not call to account, will flee with your capital.
Imaam Ahmad – may Allaah have mercy upon him – narrated that Wahb (rh) said, “It is written in the wisdom of the family of Daawood (David) that an intelligent person should not be negligent of four times;
- a time to communicate in supplication (dua) with his Lord
- a time to hold himself to account
- a time with his truthful friends who inform him of his shortcomings and
- a time when he is alone with himself and its lawful desires, as this time will help him through the other times and will comfort his heart.”
Al-Hasan Al-Basri – may Allaah have mercy upon him – said
The true believer is a guardian of his own self and continuously calls his soul to account for the sake of Allah.
The reckoning of the Day of Resurrection will only be easy for those who continuously call their souls to account in the life of this world.
The reckoning of the Day of Resurrection will only be difficult for those who live the life of this world without ever examining their conscience and calling themselves to account.