After the battle of Badr was over, the Prophet of Allah (sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam), asked some of his close companions their opinions about what should be done with the enemy soldiers that the Muslims had taken as prisoners. One very close companion of the Prophet (sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam), Abu-Bakr, said that Muslims should accept a ransom (a sum of money) in exchange for which these men should be set free and allowed to go home.
But a second companion said that it would be best to execute these prisoners, as they had rebelled against Allah, and had fought the Prophet of Allah. He said this even though he had relatives (who had not yet embraced Islam) amongst the prisoners.
As you may have guessed, the man who gave this uncompromising piece of advice to Mohammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) was none other than Umar ibn Khattab (Radhi Allahu Anh). His love for Allah and Allah’s revelation was fierce, and so was his hatred and anger towards those who opposed the Deen of Allah. When it came to the matter of Allah’s deen, Al-Islam, family relationships and ties of blood were worth less than dirt in the eyes of this man.
It is no wonder, then, that he is known by the title “Al-Farooq”, which means: “the one by whom truth and falsehood can be separated and distinguished”. His embracing Islam in Makkah, a few years before the battle of Badr, was itself a great support to the tiny group of Muslims. His prestige amongst the citizens of Makkah was such that the oppressed Muslims found great support when Umar openly declared his belief in Islam. Many of the Muslims in those days were from the lower ranks of society, such as poor people and slaves, and it was only after Umar’s acceptance of Islam that they prayed together for the first time openly and publicly.
Umar and Abu-Bakr (radhi Allahu anhuma) were probably the two closest companions of the Holy Prophet (sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam). He was often seen discussing various issues with them, and seeking their opinions on matters concerning the Muslims (as in the story quoted above from Badr). Umar’s God-given perceptiveness and deep insight is confirmed by the following statement of Prophet Mohammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam): “Amongst the people preceding you there used to be Muhaddithun (i.e. persons who can guess things that come true later on, as if those persons have been inspired by a divine power), and if there are any such persons amongst my followers, it is Umar bin Al-Khattab” (recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari).
After the death of the first Khalifah, Abu-Bakr, Umar was made the leader of the Muslims, and in his reign, the Islamic empire grew even more, and many lands were conquered under his leadership. After serving the Muslims and the faith of Islam for many years, Allah finally honored him with Shahadaah (martyrdom). May Allah be ever pleased with this staunch believer and lover of Islam.