Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra)
was the second Caliph of the Muslim Ummah and the first Muslim leader to be called the Commander of the Faithful.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his closest friend Abu Bakr (ra)
became his successor and led the Muslims for around two years. When Abu Bakr felt his own death approaching, he gathered his closest friends and advisers around him and informed them that their allegiance to him was over. Abu Bakr hoped that these men would choose his successor from among themselves.
However, after much discussion Abu Bakr's companions returned to him and asked him to choose for them for they trusted his choice beyond question. Abu Bakr chose Umar.
Some of the men around Abu Bakr voiced their concern that Umar was known to be a harsh and tough man, and he would be too hard on the people.
Abu Bakr responded by saying that he considered Umar to be the best among them.
Despite these initial reservations among some men of Madinah, Umar was appointed as the second Caliph of the Muslims. He began his reign by addressing the people and immediately explaining his expectations for himself. Umar knew the people were wary of his reputation for toughness and he addressed this issue. He said,
"Oh people, know that I have been appointed to govern your affairs, so recognise that my roughness is now weakened, but I will continue to be rough and harsh on the people of oppression and transgression and will put their cheeks into the dirt. Know also that I will put my own cheek into the dirt to defend the people of piety."