Abdullah ibn Umar was born c.610 in Mecca, the son of Umar ibn al-Khattab and Zaynab bint Madhun. His full siblings were Hafsa and Abdulrahman. His paternal brothers, born to his stepmother Umm Kulthum bint Jarwal, were Zayd and Ubaydullah. He had another stepmother, Qurayba bint Abi Umayya, but she had no children of her own.
The young Abdullah had vivid memories of his father's conversion to Islam. He remembered following him around the town as Umar declared his conversion to the neighbours and on the steps of the Kaaba. Ibn Umar asserted, "Although I was very young at the time, I understood everything I saw." His mother Zaynab also became a Muslim, but his two stepmothers did not.
The family emigrated to Medina in 622. A few months later, when Muhammad sentenced a pair of adulterers to lapidation, Ibn Umar was one of the people who threw the stones. Just before the Battle of Uhud in March 625, Muhammad called Ibn Umar, who was then fourteen years old, to present himself. But when Ibn Umar appeared, Muhammad would not allow him to fight in the battle. Two years later, as the Battle of the Trench approached, Muhammad again called Ibn Umar, and this time he decreed that the youth was old enough because he was mature and reached puberty. He was also present at the Battle of Al-Muraysi in 628.
Ibn Umar's sister Hafsa married Muhammad in 625. Muhammad once told her: "Abdullah is a good man. I wish he prayed the night prayers." After that, every night Abdullah would pray much and sleep but a little.
As a young man, Ibn Umar married a woman whom he loved, but his father disliked her and demanded that they divorce. When Ibn Umar refused, his father complained to Muhammad. Ibn Umar also mentioned the matter to Muhammad, who said: "O Abdullah ibn Umar! Divorce your wife!" So Ibn Umar complied..
After his father became Caliph in 634, Ibn Umar married Safiya bint Abi Ubayd, and they had six children: Abu Bakr, Abu Ubayda, Waqid, Umar, Hafsa and Sawda. He had a number of other sons from Ummul Walad, including Abdulrahman and Salim.
Umar once complained about a concubine of Ibn Umar's, whom he had seen "walking around town dressed in silk and causing trouble".
Ibn Umar participated in Battles in Iraq, Persia and Egypt, but he remained neutral throughout the first civil war. In 656, he prevented his sister Hafsa from following Aisha to the Battle of the Camel. Following the peace-treaty that ensued between Hasan ibn Ali and Mu'awiyah, 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, along with the rest of the Muslims agreed to pledge his allegiance to Muawiyah I so that he may accede to the Caliphate in 661/41 AH.
While in Medina during the Second Fitna of the 680s, Ibn Umar, together with Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and Ibn Abbas, advised Husayn ibn Ali to make Mecca his base and fight against Yazid I from Mecca. Husayn did not take this advice but chose Kufa.
Abdullah ibn Umar died in Mecca in 693 (74 AH).
Abdullah ibn Umar was the second most prolific narrator of ahadith, with a total of 2,630 narrations. It was said that he was extremely careful about what he related, and that he narrated with his eyes full of tears.
He has a positive reputation among Sunni Muslims. "In spite of the great esteem and honour in which he was held by all the Muslims and notwithstanding the suggestion repeatedly made to him to stand up for the caliphate (which he obstinately refused), he kept himself entirely aloof from party strife, and throughout these years led an unselfish, pious life. He set an example of an ideal citizen."