Ibn `Umar made himself a “friend of the night”, praying at night, crying, and asking forgiveness during its latter hours before daybreak. He had once, during his youth, seen a dream. The Prophet interpreted it in a way which made the night prayer `Abdullah’s utmost hope and a means of his delight and joy.
Let us listen to him, while he narrates the story of his dream:
“During the Prophetic era, I saw a dream in which I was riding a piece of brocade which let me fly to any place in Paradise I wished. Then I saw two approaching me, intending to take me to hell, but an angel met them saying, “Don’t be afraid,” so they left me.
My sister Hafsah narrated the dream to the Prophet (peace be upon him), who said, “What an excellent man `Abdullah is. If he is praying at night, then let him pray more.”
From that day until he met with Allah, he never stopped performing his night prayer, neither while staying in one place nor while traveling. He was frequently praying, reciting the Qur’an, and praising Allah. Like his father, his tears rolled down abundantly whenever he heard a warning verse in the Qur’an.
`Ubayd lbn `Umar said: I was once reading to `Abdullah ibn `Umar this verse: “How will it be for them when We bring from every nation a witness, and bring you to witness over them all? On that day
those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger will wish the earth to be split open and swallow them, but they will never conceal GOD any of their saying” (An-Nisaa’ 4:41-42) Ibn `Umar began to cry till his beard was wet from his tears.
One day he was sitting among his brothers reading “Woe to those who give insufficient measure, who when others measure for them they make full measure, but when they measure out, or weigh out for others, they give less than due. Do such not think that they shall be raised up on a Mighty Day? The Day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of the Worlds” (Al-Mutaffifin 83:1-6). Then he repeated again and again “The Day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of the Worlds” while his tears were rolling down like heavy rain falls from the sky until he fell down because of his tremendous sorrow and crying.
His generosity, asceticism and piety all worked together in complete harmony to shape the most magnificent merits of that great man. He gave out abundantly because he was generous. He granted the fine halal things because he was pious, never caring if his generosity left him poor because he was ascetic.
lbn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) was one of those who had high incomes. He was a successful, honest merchant for a greater part of his life, and his income from the treasury (Bayt Al-Mal) was abundant. However, he never saved that money for himself, but always spent it copiously on the poor, the needy, and beggars.
Following the Prophetic Model
Ibn `Umar’s generosity, asceticism, and piety, these three qualities demonstrate how sincere his imitation of the Prophetic model was and how sincere his worship.
He imitated the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the extent that he stood with his camel, where the Prophet had once stood saying, “A camel foot may stand over a camel foot.”
His respect, good behavior, and admiration towards his father reached also to a far extent. `Umar’s personality forced his foes, his relatives, and, above all, his sons to pay him respect. I say, the one who belongs to that Prophet and that kind of father should never be a slave of money. Large amounts of money came to him but soon passed, just crossing his house at that moment.
His generosity was never a means of arrogance. He always dedicated himself to the poor and needy, rarely eating his meal alone: orphans and poor people were always present. He often blamed some of his sons when they invited the rich, and not the poor ones, to their banquets, thereupon saying, “You leave the hungry behind and invite the sated ones.”
The poor knew his tenderness, felt his kindness and sympathy, so they sat down across his path for him to take them to his house. When he saw them he was like a sweet scented flower surrounded by a drove of bees to suck its nectar.
Ibn `Umar & True Richness
Money in his hands was a slave, not a master, a means for necessities and not luxury. Money was not his alone. The poor had a right to it, a mutually corresponding right, with no privilege kept to himself. His self-denial helped him to reach such great generosity that he never stored, endeavored, or had a vivid interest toward the worldly life. On the contrary, he never wished to possess more than a gown to cover his body and just enough food to keep him alive.
He who has not satisfied his appetite for 40 years has not curbed his appetite due to need or poverty, but rather due to self- denial and piety, and a trial to imitate the Prophet and his father.
He was afraid to hear on the Day of Judgment: “You have wasted all your good deeds for the enjoyment in the life of this world” (Al-Ahqaf 46:20). He realized that he was in this life just as a visitor or a passerby.
He described himself saying, “I haven’t put a stone upon another (i.e. I haven’t built anything) nor planted a palm tree since the Prophet’s death.”
Persistently on the Path
Ibn `Umar lived long enough to witness the Umayyad period, when money became abundant, and land and estates spread, and a luxurious life was to be found in most dwellings, let alone most castles.
Despite all that, he stayed like a firm-rooted mountain, persistent and great, not slipping away from his paths and not abandoning his piety and asceticism.
If life with its pleasure and prosperity – which he always escaped from – was mentioned, he said, “I’ve agreed with my companions upon a matter. I’m afraid if I change my stance I won’t meet them again.”
Then he let the others know that he did not turn his back to the worldly life owing to inability, so he lifted his hands to the sky saying, “O Allah, You know that if it weren’t for fear of You, we would have emulated our clan in the Quraysh in this life.
The article is excerpted from the book “Men Around the Messenger”, which is translation based on Khalid Muhammad Khalid’s celebrated work in Arabic “Rijal Hawla Ar-Rasul” which represents the real inspirational stories of sixty-four Companions of the Prophet.