Abdullah Ibn Umar: Brother of the Night

Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) was born around 614 CE in Makkah. He was the son of Umar Ibn al-Khattab as well as the brother in law and companion of the Prophet of Allah (swt). It is reported that he accepted Islam before reaching the age of 10. He made the hijrah to Madinah with his father and sister Hafsa (ra) who later married the Prophet (saw). Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) is most famous for reporting many ahadith of the Prophet (saw).

Ever since he accepted Islam, he had always shown an interest and was always inclined to be with the Prophet (saw) in all activities. Despite wanting to participate in the Battles of Badr and Uhud, he was not allowed due to his young age. However, as the Battle of the Khandaq (Trench) came, Abdullah Ibn Umar (ra) was called on by the Prophet (saw) to be a part of the Islamic Army as the Prophet (saw) decreed him to be old enough. He was 15 years old at the time of the Battle of the Khandaq.

Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) is one of the most prominent narrators of ahadith. He would closely observe and listen to every single thing the Prophet (saw) said. Based off of his observations he would try and mimic those actions and things as much as possible. If he happened to note the Prophet (saw) praying in a certain place, he would also go and pray in the same place. If he saw the Prophet making duah while sitting, he would also do the same. Such was the love and devotion to Allah’s (swt) Messenger, Subhan’Allah.

Aisha (ra) even noticed Abdullah ibn Umar’s (ra) devotion to the Prophet (saw) and even said,

“There was no one who followed the footsteps of the Prophet (saw) in the places where he alighted as did Ibn Umar.” 

Being so close to the Prophet (saw), he also made sure to be 100% sure and confident regarding certain sayings and actions of the Prophet (saw). It is reported that,

“Among the companions of the Prophet (saw), no one was more cautious about adding to or subtracting from the hadith of the Prophet (saw) than Abdullah ibn Umar (ra).”

This cautious attitude further made Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) somewhat hesitant to be a Qadi (judge) or Khalifah even thouse he was more than qualified. Qadi’s were some of the most important people in the early Islamic society. He was offered the role by the Khalifah Uthman ibn Affan (ra) on grounds of having fear in possibly committing errors in judgment in matters relating to the deen.

On one occasion he was described as the “brother of the night.” He got this name because he would often stay up at night praying and seeking Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. The Prophet (saw) once said to Hafsa (ra),

“Abdullah is a righteous man if he only prays more at night” 

-Sahih al-Bukhari

After hearing this, Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) never abandoned Qiyam ul-Layl (night prayer). He would do it at home or even while out traveling. In the darkness of the night, he would always be up remembering Allah (swt).

He was known for his simplicity, piety, and generosity. These traits combined with his extensive Islamic knowledge made him have a high status in the eyes of the other Sahabah (Companions). He encouraged the feeding of the poor and helping the poor. Many times when he would sit to eat, there would be orphans and poor people in his company eating with him.

He narrated 2,630 ahadith. He was the second most prominent narrator of ahadith. His cautiousness ensured that his ahadith were largely authentic and free from fabrication. He would often be narrating with his eyes full of years. He kept himself away from all political offers of Qadi or Khalifah and instead chose to live in a lowkey profile. He died in Makkah 74 years after the Hijrah at the age of 87. May Allah (swt) have mercy on his soul and allow us to be in the company of him, Ameen.

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