Omar almukhtar, born in the year 1856, is known in modern Libya as the heroic martyrwho sacrificed his life while trying to free Libya from Italian colonization.As a child, Omar AL Mukhtar had lived in the region ofCyrenaica, which was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. He had also losthis father at a young age, and lived much of his youth in poverty. However, hewould not only change the course of his tribe, country and people, but also theworld of Libyan Muslims in the Post Colonial Era.A shortwhile after his father had passed,Omar al Mukhtar, at the age of 16, was broughtunder the care and tutelage of one of the Sheikhs in his home town. As he grewin age, he had developed a life style of only sleeping three hours per day inorder to stay awake the rest of the day worshiping god. He ended up memorizingthe whole Quran and reciting it every week. This has led people to see him as ahumble, and deeply religious man.
He earned the name of’Lion of the Desert’ by defending the people he was traveling to Sudan with, from a lion that blockedtheir path. Instead of allowing his people give up a camel which was a prizedpossession at the time, to the lion, he took a horse and a shot gun, and chasedthe lion. Eventually he came back with the lions head. This has highlighted hiscourage and maturity at that time.
His fifties was marked by the dawn of the Italiancolonization (1911-1943) of Libya as. At a time when the world was being controlledby European powers, Omar Al Mukhtar stood firm for Islam and faced the Italian colonizersof Libya with great courage in the face of danger. He had fought fiercelyagainst the French with a group called Banu Sanus, who would later be known as theSanusies.
Briefly, they also fought the British. As part of a global “feast”, Italyjoined the European nations in causing havoc in the southern part of thenorthern hemisphere by colonizing Libya. It was during this time, Omar Al Mukhtar,gathered his forces in the face of an attack against Libya, his homeland.
Although,Al mukhtar was offered large sums of money to pacify this resistance, herefused and responded with this quote: “I’m not a sweet bite of a meal anyonecan swallow. No matter how long they try to change my belief and opinion, Allahis going to let them down.” They then suggested he leave his home town to livecloser to the ruling party complete with a monthly salary, but he again refusedby saying, “No, I will not leave my country until I meet my lord. Death iscloser to me than anything, I’m waiting for it by the minute.
“The Sanusi, Muhammad az-Zaway, who once fought with him against theFrench, attempted to persuade him to retreat to Egypt with the rest of thosewho had fought against the French. However, he refused to turn his back on theenemy knowing well that his chances were slim against a force that was enlarging by the minute. He and his companions defendedthemselves until only he and one of his companions were left. At last his horsewas shot dead under him, causing him to fall to the ground. He was shackled andbrought to a city called Suluq, where the Italian military post was.
Al Mukhtarbelieved Jihad, which is defined as a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty,was ordained upon every able Muslim while his homeland was occupied by thecolonizers. With his faith, heroism and courage he earned the respect of evenhis enemies.His hanging took place beforehundreds of people in 1931. Intending to scare the Muslims, the Italians,however did not succeed in doing this. In fact the opposite had taken place.His hanging shook the entire Muslim world, and numerous rebelions took placespecifically in North Africa. His last quote was “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.
” Which means, “From god wehave come, and to god we will return.” Today,Omar Al Mukhtar is known for his braveness and courage during the Italianresistance throughout Libya. He is loved and appreciated by many,. This isproven by the fact that his face is printed on the Libyan 10 Dinar note.