Abu Sabrah ibn Abi Rahm sent Al-Hurmuzan with a detachment of his troops to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab. When they reached Madinah, they dressed Al-Hurmuzan in his silk garments with gold ornaments and his ruby-inlaid crown so that ‘Umar could see him in this form. They did not find ‘Umar in his house but inquired and learned he was in the mosque.
When the group entered the mosque with Al-Hurmuzan, they found ‘Umar in a nook lying asleep on his burnoose with his stick in his hand. On seeing this, Al-Hurmuzan wondered aloud, “Where is ‘Umar?”
The Muslims pointed at him and said, “Here he is.”
Al-Hurmuzan was astonished. “Where are his guards and chamberlains?” Still unable to believe, he added, “He must be a prophet.”
They said, “No, but he lives like the prophets.”
Disturbed by the noise of the speakers, ‘Umar sat up, looked at Al-Hurmuzan and asked, “Is this Al-Hurmuzan?”
“Yes, Commander of the Faithful.”
‘Umar gazed at him and at his attire and said, “I pray to Allah to forbid us from Hell and I seek His aid. Thanks be to Allah, Who by Islam has humiliated this person and the likes of him.”
‘Umar looked round him and said, “O Muslims! Adhere to this religion and follow the guidance of your Prophet ~ and do not be tempted by life with its allurements, for it is deceiving.”
‘Umar then ordered them to take off all the ornaments and the rich attire that Al-Hurmuzan was wearing and to dress him in ordinary clothes.
Afterwards, he asked him “Why did you violate the treaty several times?”
Al-Hurmuzan replied, “I’m afraid you’ll kill me before I tell you.”
‘Umar assured him, “Nothing will be done to you till you tell me.”
Al-Hurmuzan asked for some water and it was brought to him. He seized the cup with shaking hands and said, “I’m afraid to be killed while I’m drinking.”
‘Umar told him, “Nothing will be done to you till you drink it.”
Al-Hurmuzan spilled the water on the ground without drinking.
‘Umar said, “Bring him another and don’t let him suffer from killing and thirst.”
Al-Hurmuzan said, “I didn’t need any water, I just wanted to feel secured by it.”
“I’ll kill you.”
“But you secured me.”
“You’re a liar.”
Arias ibn Malik said, “Excuse me, Commander of the Faithful, he’s right. You secured him.”
‘Umar said angrily, “What are you saying, Anas? I secured the killer of Majza’ah ibn Thaur and Al-Bara’ ibn Malik? I swear by Allah that if you don’t find a way out for yourself, I’ll punish you.”
Anas said, “You told him, ‘Nothing will be done to you till you tell me’ and ‘Nothing will be done to you till you drink it.’”
The Muslims around ‘Umar said, “Yes, you did.”
‘Umar went to Al-Hurmuzan and said, “You deceived me. By Allah, I am not to be deceived by any except a Muslim.”
Al-Hurmuzan declared his faith, saying, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.”
Consequently, when Al-Hurmuzan declared his belief in Islam, ‘Umar ordered some money of about two thousand dirhams for him and made him reside in Madinah.
NOTE: The narration above has been narrated in many history books such as Al-Tabari and Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah (by Ibn Kathir). In other versions the following famous wording is included:
Al-Hurmuzan addressing him (after seeing the Caliph who ruled half of Asia sleeping on the bare floor with patched clothes) saying,
“You (‘Omar) have judged with justice, so you have gained peace, security and contented sleep.”
Surely you are a great prophet.’ Umar replied, ‘I am not a prophet, but I do like what prophets do.’