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Islam had spread far and wide and the Muslim armies marched victoriously over the lands of the Romans and Persians. Only Jerusalem remained, and although the Christians tried their best to defend it they were no match for the powerful Muslim armies. After all, Allah was with the Muslims and no one can defeat those who have the help of Allah.

The Muslim armies besieged Jerusalem. There was nothing that Sophronus, the Christian Patriarch of Jerusalem, could do but surrender. “I shall surrender the City,” he called out to Abu ‘Ubaydah [r], the general of the Muslim army, “If your great king comes in person to accept our surrender.”

Now, Abu ‘Ubaydah [r] knew that he could easily storm the city with his powerful army and slay every man, woman and child, and no one would be able to stop him. That is what powerful armies normally do. But this was no ordinary army. These were the soldiers of Allah, and Allah does not love those who are cruel and oppressive. Allah loves only those who show compassion and who forgive. Allah loves those who choose peace over war.

Immediately a message was sent to the great Khalif, ‘Umar bin Khattab [r], who received the messenger with praises and gratitude to Allah. “All praise be to Allah who, by His infinite grace, has blessed us with victory,” ‘Umar [r] exclaimed and bowed down in humility. “I shall indeed go to Jerusalem and peacefully accept the keys of the blessed city of the Prophets of old.”

Much pomp and fanfare was expected as the Khalif made preparations for his journey, and when the day of his departure came the people of Madinah, the City of the Prophet [s], gathered to witness the spectacle. ‘Umar [r] was the most powerful man in all the world on that day and a grand procession was surely to accompany him on his long journey to Jerusalem. This is how all kings and rulers travelled in those days. But ‘Umar [r] was no ordinary ruler. He was a close Companion of the last Prophet [s] and a true Muslim.

To everyone’s surprise, the streets were silent. All that could be seen was a big man in ragged clothes on a camel with his slave walking by his side. They came down the street and would probably never have been noticed if someone did not call out, “Look, it is Amir ul-Mu’minin, the Commander of the Believers!” Could it be? Yes, it was ‘Umar [r] making his way out of the city.

And so the long Journey to Jerusalem began for the Khalif and his single slave. They would take turns riding the camel, first one then the other riding while his companion walked by his side. They ate the same simple food together, and when they passed the cities, towns and villages very few could tell the difference between the great Khalif and his slave. But after all, this is what the blessed Prophet [s] always taught his Companions, that, “…we are all equal in the sight of Allah… and we are all children of the same parents, Adam and Hawwa [a].”

Jerusalem was in sight and ‘Umar [r] removed his sandals and hung them over his broad, powerful shoulders. It had been raining the day before and there was mud all around. He carefully trudged through the mud as his slave rode atop the camel. After all, it was now his turn.

Abu ‘Ubaydah [r], the general of the Muslim army was informed of the Khalif’s arrival and he rode out to meet him. He was dressed in rich robes and rode on a fine steed. What a gallant sight he made with all the other commanders riding by his side. But as he approached the great Khalif he seemed dismayed. “O Amir ul-Mu’minin, Commander of the Believers, perhaps you would prefer to wear some fine clothes and ride a handsome steed. I think that It would be more honourable and would make a better impression on the leaders of Jerusalem?”

‘Umar [r] was furious. “We are people whom Allah has honoured with Islam, and if we choose any other way, Allah will surely disgrace us,” the Khalif said sternly.

And with this, he walked up to the gates of Jerusalem. Sophronus, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, along with the other leaders walked out to meet the Khalif. They were overwhelmed by awe and fear for the great leader of the powerful armies that had captured their lands.

“Stand aside!” they said to the big man with patched clothes walking by the side of the camel. “We wish to address your king.” Addressing the man on the camel they said, “O great king, please do accept the keys of this holy city, for you are most worthy to receive it.”

The Muslims laughed quietly under their breath. The Patriarch was quite confused. Without realising, Sophronus was addressing ‘Umar’s [r] slave for it happened to be his turn to ride the camel.

The great Khalif smiled kindly and said, “I come in peace and I gladly accept the keys to this blessed city. You will live in peace and you will be treated generously.”

Sophronus looked on in utter disbelief at the ragged and patched clothing of the great ‘Umar [r] and at his muddy feet. “Praise be to God! Could it be?” he said to himself. “It must be!” In a loud voice the Patriarch declared, “You are the very man that has been described in the scriptures of old, the Torah and the Bible, who would bring the message of truth to the people of this land. You are indeed the messenger of the Last Prophet.” Prophet ‘Isa [a] had predicted that a follower of the last Prophet would conquer the city of Jerusalem and bring to it peace and prosperity. He described him as a pious man with patched clothing and muddy feet leading his slave on a camel. ‘Umar [r], the great Khalif of Islam, was honoured by Allah to fulfill this Prophecy.

The people of Jerusalem rushed out to embrace Islam, the true religion of all the Prophets of Allah. This was all due to the excellent example set by the Sahabah, the Companions of the blessed Prophet Muhammad [s] – an example of simplicity and kind treatment to all, slaves and rulers alike.








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