‘Umar and Hamza’s acceptance of Islam

It was a time when a group of Muslims had to emigrate to Abyssinia under the command of our beloved Prophet (saw). In addition to the constant pursuits, deliberations, and diplomatic attempts to recapture and punish the fleeing Meccan Muslims, the polytheists continued to persecute our beloved Prophet and the believers in Mecca.

On just such a challenging day in the year 616, the Messenger of Allah was en route to Safa Hill when he encountered Abu Jahl. It was then that Abu Jahl insulted him and belittled the religion and his prophethood, just as he had continuously done in the past at every opportunity. Saddened by the insults our Prophet returned home with much sorrowfulness. An eyewitness later recounted this same incident to the Prophet’s uncle, Hamza, who was at that time returning from a hunting expedition. Hamza, the Prophet’s paternal uncle and foster brother, was renowned for his bravery and held great affection for his nephew. Due to their closeness of age, they were more like friends. Therefore, although Hamza had not yet accepted the new religion, he looked out for his nephew. So, hearing of this incident of the unjust attack upon the Prophet made him very upset.

Enraged by Abu Jahl’s harassment and insult of his nephew Muhammad, Hamza immediately went to the Ka‘bah. Just as he had expected, he found Abu Jahl conversing with the elders of the Quraysh tribe. He moved toward Abu Jahl, and he shouted, “You curse and insult my nephew Muhammad? I am of his religion, so insult me too if you dare!” Those accompanying Abu Jahl sided with him, but Abu Jahl, acknowledging Hamza’s stance, pointed at them and affirmed Hamza’s right to defend his nephew. After Hamza left, Abu Jahl said to his men, reassuring them, “Do not interfere with him, or he will get angry and become a Muslim for real.”

This is because Abu Jahl was seriously concerned about the possible conversion of Hamza to Islam. This concern on the part of Abu Jahl was well-founded as Hamza, a respected and feared Qurayshi in Mecca, went later to his nephew and announced that he had embraced Islam. Hamza’s acceptance of Islam proved to be a substantial morale booster for the Muslims who, at that time, were grappling with the severe oppression and torture inflicted by the polytheists. As the Muslims gained strength, the polytheists found themselves compelled to reconsider their harsh attitude towards the Muslim community.