UMAR Bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) was on his way to take over Jerusalem from the Romans. They insisted that they would hand over the keys of the city only to the leader of Muslims, whose power and might was well-known.

His journey was special. He would take turns with his slave to ride the camel. If for some distance he rode and the slave walked pulling the camel, then for the next equal distance the slave would ride and Umar would walk, pulling the camel. Jerusalem was near, the city’s gates were almost in sight, and it was the slave’s turn to ride the camel. While Umar walked, he passed through a pool of mud, so his clothes got soiled.

Abu Ubaidah Bin Al-Jarrah, commander of the Muslim army, was worried. He came to Umar, the leader of Muslims, and suggested that he rode the camel as they were about to enter Jerusalem. He thought the Romans, who are used to pomp and glory, will not respect his leader if he entered with such simplicity.

At first, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was taken aback. He didn’t expect Abu Ubaidah, one of the 10 whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave good news of Paradise in this world itself, to say something like this!

Then Umar spoke one of the most powerful statements ever to go down in history. He said, “We were a people who lived in humiliation before. Allah gave us honor through Islam. If we sought honor through anything else (at the cost of Islam) then Allah will humiliate us again.”

That statement looks as if Umar was directly addressing us, Muslims of the 21st century. Surely enough, what was the Arabian peninsula before Islam? It was steeped deep into ignorance that rulers would pass by and would not bother conquering it.

People would bury their female babies alive; fights would start at the drop of a hat and continue for hundreds of years; immoral practices were rampant; and most importantly idols made by their own hands were worshiped.

Who could have thought during the time that in less than 100 years the same people would be ruling from Spain to nearly the Indian subcontinent and beyond? But that is what Islam did to them, that is what standing firm upon the truth brought them. They were exemplary as believers – practicing Islam with full conviction, and obeying Allah with full submission. This is what we lack today. We lack knowledge that precedes action, and faith that turns knowledge into deeds. If we set that right, Allah promises us the success we so desperately seek.

“So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers.” (Qur’an, 3:139)