By Dr A Q Khan
September 18, 2017
I would like to tell you about two exemplary events that occurred during the rule of Hazrat Umar (RA) as Amin ul Momineen (caliph). Hazrat Umar (RA) summoned Umair, the governor of Homs in Syria.
When the governor reached Madina and went to see Hazrat Umar (RA), the latter could not control his tears. After some time, he apologised to Umair and said that he was unable to control his emotions on seeing his condition. Homs, he said, was a fertile and rich area and he had expected Umair to reflect that.
Hazrat Umar (RA) had an awe-inspiring and strict personality. When Umair had received the letter from Hazrat Umar (RA), he went straight to Masjid an-Nabawi in Madina where he knew Hazrat Umar (RA) would carry out his duties.
At the mosque, Hazrat Umar (RA) saw Umair dressed in ordinary, cheap clothes that were covered in sand and dust. He was not wearing shoes. He was holding a strong stick and had small pots hanging on a rope over his shoulder.
He greeted and hugged him and asked him to sit down next to him. He asked in an inquisitive tone whether Umair had received his letter or whether he had come on his own.
Umair replied that he had received the letter, picked up his belongings and came to meet him immediately. “What belongings,” came the reply. “It looks like you just left immediately”.
Umair then showed his belongings. He said that he brought a stick for his safety and to provide him something to lean on when he got tired. He also brought a bowl to drink water.
Hazrat Umar (RA) once again had tears in his eyes. He turned towards the graves of our Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA), the first caliph, and said: “O Almighty, before I am tempted into luxury, please take my life and allow me to be with these two honourable colleagues. O Almighty, please do not embarrass me in front of these two worthy colleagues”.
He then asked Umair how everything was in Homs and whether he had brought something from there. Umair replied: “O Amir, whatever I earned, I [have] distributed immediately. I don’t have a single dirham. If I had saved anything, I would have brought and showed it to you”.
Hazrat Umar (RA) once again became emotional and told Umair to return to Homs. Umair then asked if he could stay and spend a few days with his family and was granted permission to do so.
Hazrat Umar (RA), who was still in shock that a governor of such a rich province could be penniless, asked his companion Habib to visit him. He gave Habib a bag with a few Dirhams and told him to go and stay with Umair for a few days. While he was there, Habib ate the same food as Umair – barley bread with a bit of olive oil. They ate it with great satisfaction and gratitude to the Almighty. When he was leaving, Habib gave the bag to Umair, saying it was from the caliph.
Umair immediately started distributing money. Within a few minutes, there was nothing left. A few days later Umair, the governor, returned to Homs just as he had come: in cheap clothes, no shoes and some pots hanging over his shoulder. What a contrast to our rulers.
The second story shows what a humble and god-fearing life the ruler of such a vast kingdom led. Hazrat Umar (RA) had made a habit of going out at night to inspect the city and look after the well-being of the people. One day, he was passing a tent and heard groaning, as if someone was in pain. He called out and a man appeared.
Hazrat Umar (RA) asked him who was groaning. He was told that the man was a poor villager who had no means of livelihood. The caliph was informed that the man’s wife was about to deliver a baby and was groaning in pain. When asked if there was someone in the tent to help his wife, the man replied that there was nobody.
Hazrat Umar (RA) told the man that he would fetch help. He went home and told his wife, Umme Kulsoom, whom he called Bint al Akrameen – daughter of the respected one, Hazrat Ali (RA) – to come with him as the Almighty had provided her a chance to gain His blessings.
On being told about the circumstances, she immediately replied that if he so willed, she would immediately go and help the man and his wife. While his wife collected whatever she needed, Hazrat Umar (RA) collected flour and butter.
While the husband and Hazrat Umar (RA) sat outside and prepared food, Umme Kulsoom assisted the man’s wife in the tent. Soon she called out: “O Amirul Momineen, please inform the husband that God has blessed his wife with a son and both mother and child are fine.”
When the man heard her say Amirul Momineen, he became afraid. But Hazrat Umar (RA) smiled, told him to come near him and said: “Yes, I am Umar, son of Khattab, and my wife, who helped your wife, is the daughter of Hazrat Ali (KW)”.
The man prostrated himself to thank Allah that such a noble individual had helped him and his wife and even prepared food for them. The man was then told to take the food to his wife and that for as long as they were there, they would be the guests of Hazrat Umar (RA) and he would provide them with food.
These stories demonstrate the ethics which the companions had learnt from the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Hazrat Umar’s stature can’t just be attributed to his position, prayers, fasting and conquests. It was also because he managed to establish a real Islamic welfare state and set an example of honesty and simplicity. He was always aware that he would be answerable to the Almighty on the Day of Resurrection.
Our rulers should ponder over their actions and deeds in light of these stories. They should remember that Allah’s punishment is indeed severe.