.Judicial Administration

Umar took particular pains to provide effective and speedy justice for the people. He set up an effective  system of judicial administration, “hereunder justice was administered according to the principles of Islam.

Qadis were appointed at all administrative levels for the administration of justice. Umar was the first ruler  in history to separate judiciary from the executive. The Qadis were chosen for their integrity and learning  in Islamic law. High salaries were fixed for the Qadis so that there was no temptation to bribery. Wealthy  men and men of high social status were appointed as Qadis so that they might not have the temptation  to take bribes, or be influenced by the social position of any body. The Qadis were not allowed to engage  in trade. Judges were appointed in sufficient number, and there was no district which did not have a Qadi.

Umar issued ‘Farmans’ from time to time laying down the principles for the administration of justice. In one  of the Farmans issued to Judicial Officers, Umar laid down the following principles:

“Praise to God.

Verily justice is an important obligation to God and man. You have been charged with this responsibility.  Discharge the responsibility so that you may win the approbation of God and the goodwill of the people.

Treat the people equally in your presence, in your company, and in your decisions, so that the weak  despair not of justice, and the high-placed have no hope of your favor.

The onus of proof lies on the plaintiff. He who denies must do so on oath. Compromise is permissible,  provided it does not turn the unlawful into lawful, and the lawful into unlawful. Let nothing prevent you  from changing your previous decision if after consideration you feel that the previous decision was  incorrect.

When you are in doubt on a question and find nothing about it in the Quran or in the Sunnah of the  Prophet, think over the question over and over again. Ponder over the precedents and analogous cases,  and then decide by analogy.

A term should be fixed for the person who wants to produce witnesses. If he proves his case, get him his  right. Otherwise, the suit should be dismissed.

All Muslims are reliable, except those who have been punished with flogging, or who have borne false  witness or are doubtful in integrity.”

History has preserved the names of some of the eminent persons who held judicial office during the  caliphate of Umar.

Zaid bin Thabit was appointed by Umar as the Qadi of Madina. He was well versed is Syriac and Hebrew,  and was an expert in civil law.

Ka’b-b. Sur al-Azdi was the Qadi of Basra. He was a man of keen insight and wide learning. Many of the  dicta laid down by him became classical and were reported by Imam Ibn Sirin.

Ibada b. al-Samat was the Qadi of Palestine. He was one of the five men who had memorized the Holy  Quran in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. Umar held him in great esteem.

Abdullah b Masud was the Qadi of Kufa. He was a man of great scholarship and judicial acumen. He is  considered the Father of the Hanafi law.

Qadi Shuraih succeeded Abdullah b Masud as the Qadi of Kufa. He was well known throughout the  country for his intelligence and keen sense of judgment. He was regarded as a model Judge. Ali used to  call him ‘Aqd-ul-Arab’-i.e. the most judicious of all the Judges of Arabia.

About Qadi Shuraih’s appointment as a Judge there is a story on record. It is related that Umar purchased  a horse on approval, and gave it to somebody to try it. The horse got hurt in the ride, and Umar wanted  to return it, but the owner refused to take it back. In the dispute that arose as a consequence, Shuraih  was chosen as the arbitrator. He gave the verdict that if the horse was ridden with the permission of the  owner it could be returned; otherwise not. Umar said that that was the right decision and at once  appointed Shuraih as the Qadi of Kufa.

Public Treasury and Coins

In the time of the Holy Prophet there was no public treasury. Whatever revenues or other amounts were  received were distributed immediately. There were no salaries to be paid, and there was no state  expenditure. Hence the need for the treasury at public level was not felt.

In the time of Abu Bakr as well there was not treasury. Abu Bakr earmarked a house where all money  was kept on receipt. As all money was distributed immediately the treasury generally remained locked up.  At the time of the death of Abu Bakr there was only one dirham in the public treasury.

In the time of Umar things changed. With the extension in conquests money came in larger quantities,  Umar also allowed salaries to men fighting in the army. In A.D., Abu Huraira who was the Governor of  Bahrain sent a revenue of five lakh dirhams. Umar summoned a meeting of his Consultative Assembly and  sought the opinion of the Companions about the disposal of the money. Most of the Companions advised  immediate distribution of the money. Usman advised that the amount should be kept for future needs.  Walid bin Hisham suggested that like the Byzantines separate departments of Treasury and Accounts  should be set up.

After consulting the Companions Umar decided to establish the Central Treasury at Madina. Abdullah bin  Arqam was appointed as the Treasury Officer. He was assisted by Abdur Rahman and Muiqib. A separate  Accounts Department was also set up and it was required to maintain record of all that was spent.

Later provincial treasuries were set up in the provinces. After meeting the local expenditure the provincial  treasuries were required to remit the surplus amount to the central treasury at Madina. According to  Yaqubi the salaries and stipends charged to the central treasury amounted to over three crore dirhams.

In most of the histories of the Muslim period it is stated that among the Muslim rulers, the Umayyad Caliph  Abdul Malik bin Marwan was the first to strike coins. Further historical research has established that Umar  has the distinction of being the first Muslim ruler to strike Islamic coins.

It is stated in Maqrizi’s Kitab-ul-Nuqad ul-Islamia and Mawardi’s Al-Ahkam us-Sultaniyah that Islamic coins  were first struck by Umar. Umar struck the coins of dirhams. The coins of Umar resembled the coins of  Anusherwan. These, however, bore the legends “Praise to Allah”; “Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah”;  and “There is no god but Allah”.

According to Mawardi when Persia was conquered three types of coins were current in the conquered  territories, namely Baghli of 8 dang; Tabari of 4 dang; and Maghribi of 3 dang. Umar made an innovation  and struck an Islamic dirham of 6 dang.

Public Words

Umar stood for simplicity and austerity. Consequently he did not believe in any large scale program of  public works involving extravagance. Nevertheless as a consequence of the extension of the Muslim rule  to distant lands, the undertaking of works of public utility became imperative.

As Muslim conquests extended east and west, and more people embraced Islam, it became necessary to  construct mosques. The mosques were not mere places for offering prayers; these were community  centers as well where the faithful gathered to discuss problems of social and cultural importance. During  the caliphate of Umar as many as four thousand mosques were constructed extending from Persia in the  east to Egypt in the west Umar enlarged and improved the Prophet’s mosque in Madina. He also paved  the Holy Kaaba.

During the caliphate of Umar many new cities were founded. These included Kufa, Basra, and Fustat.  These cities were laid in according with the principles of town planning. All streets in these cities led to the  Friday mosque which was sited in the central chauk. Markets were established at convenient points. The  cities were divided into quarters, and each quarter was reserved for particular tribes. In the construction  of houses, strict instructions were laid down prohibiting the construction of palatial buildings. The houses  were to be single storeyed, not exceeding specified dimensions. These instructions were vigorously  enforced, and if any body constructed a double storey in violation of these instructions, such double  storeys were invariably demolished. The houses did not reflect the opulence or poverty of the owners.  These were symbolic of the egalitarian society of Islam, where under all were equal.

Many buildings were built for administrative purposes. In the quarters called “Dar-ul-Amarat” Government  offices and houses for the residence of officers were provided. Buildings known as ‘Diwans’ were  constructed for the keeping of official records. Buildings known as Bait-ul-Mal, were constructed to house  public treasuries. For the lodging of persons suffering sentences as punishment, prison houses were  constructed for the first time in Muslim history. In important cities Guest Houses were constructed to serve  as rest houses. Roads and bridges were constructed for public use. On the road from Madina to Mecca,  shelters, wells, and meal houses were constructed at every stage.

Military cantonments were constructed at strategic points. Special stables were provided for cavalry.  These stables could accommodate as many as 4,000 horses. Special pasture grounds were provided and  maintained for Bait-ul-Mal animals.

Canals were dug to irrigate fields as well as provide drinking water for the people. Abu Musa Canal was a  nine mile long, canal which brought water from the Tigris to Basra. Another canal known as Maqal canal  was also dug from the Tigris. A canal known as the Amirul Mumnin canal was dug to join the Nile to the  Red Sea. During the famine of 639 A.D. food grains were brought from Egypt to Madina through this canal  and the sea. Saad canal dug from the Euphrates brought water to Anbar. Amr bin Al Aas the Governor of  Egypt even proposed the digging of a canal to join the Mediterranean to Red Sea. The proposal, however,  did not materialize, and it was 1200 years later that such a canal was dug in the shape of the Suez  Canal

Hadith and Fiqh
Umar and Hadith

During his lifetime the Holy Prophet pronounced on various matters. When any one met with a problem he  went to the Holy Prophet for his verdict. Such decisions remained know to the persons concerned and  were not publicized. As such the decisions of the Holy Prophet remained wide spread. The traditions were  not compiled in any compendium and as such the sources remained scattered. In view of the diffusion of  resources there grew the risk that some traditions reported might be spurious or colored with the views  or prejudices of the narrator.

Umar was the first to realize the necessity of the proper sifting of the traditions. Umar accordingly  founded the science of Hadith. The practice with Umar was that if any new problem cropped up, Umar  announced in the public assembly the point at issue, and inquired if any of them remembered any  tradition of the Holy Prophet on the subject. Those who narrated any tradition were required to produce  some witnesses in support of the tradition. If such statement was duly corroborated and was in  accordance with the spirit of the Holy Quran as well as common sense it was adopted and applied to the  facts of the case in hand. In this way a rich corpus of Hadith was built up. These were recorded and  copies were supplied to all provinces for guidance. Umar deputed experts in Hadith to various provinces  to educate the provincial officers in Hadith.

Umar classified the traditions in two broad categories. One category of traditions pertained to religious,  moral and social affairs pertaining to the community at large. These matters emanated from the prophetic  mission of the Holy Prophet. The other traditions revolved round the person of the Holy Prophet and  pertained to his words and deeds as a human being. Umar distinguished between these two categories  and took care to ensure that these two categories did not get mixed up. All matters falling in the first  category were binding and had the status of law. The matters falling in the second category remained as  ideals to be followed, but these did not have the status of law. Umar took particular care to disseminate  all traditions falling in the second category. The traditions in the second category were sparingly reported  or publicized.

Umar was alive to the danger that whatever was ascribed to the Holy Prophet, right or wrong would  obtain currency and venerable acceptance. Umar evolved principles on the basis of which the traditions  were to be accepted. The basic principles were:

(1) The report should be literally faithful;

(2) Every Hadith narrated should carry with it the name of the narrator and the chain of narrators;

(3) The narrators must be men of proven faith and integrity;

(4) In judging the veracity of a report the occasion and circumstances involved should be taken into  consideration;

(5) The report should not be repugnant to the Holy Quran;

(6) The report should be rational.

There was some dispute about the number of takbirs to be said in funeral prayers. Sufficient evidence  was adduced to the effect that the Holy Prophet offered four takbirs. It was accordingly laid down by  Umar that in funeral prayers four takbirs should be said. The matters regarding bath for sexual impurity,  Jizyah to be levied on Magians and other allied matters were decided in the light of authentic traditions of  the Holy Prophet.

It is related that Abu Musa Ash’ari the Governor of Basra once came to see Umar and by way of  permission said “Assalamulaikam”. Umar was busy and did not pay attention to Abu Musa. Abu Musa  repeated the greetings thrice and then went away. Umar had him recalled and enquired why he had gone  away. Abu Musa said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say, “Ask permission thrice, and if you do not  get permission go away”. Umar asked for corroborative evidence in support of the tradition. Abu Musa  produced the evidence and the tradition was accepted as a guide.

In the time of Umar a question arose whether a , woman who had been divorced but the divorce had not  become I effective could remain in the house of her husband. A lady Fatima bint Qais stated before Umar  that she had it on the authority of the Holy Prophet that such woman could no longer lodge with her  husband. The Holy Quran clearly provided that such woman could lodge with her husband till the divorce  became effective. Umar accordingly ruled: “We cannot abandon the Book of Allah on the word of a  woman, for we do not know whether she remembers the tradition correctly or has forgotten it.”

Lest the people should make mistakes in reporting Hadith direct from the Holy Prophet, Umar forbade the  Companions to report direct from the Holy Prophet. Umar also enjoined that Hadith should not be mixed  with the Quran. Lest there might be mistake in reporting. Umar enjoined, “Report sparingly from the Holy  Prophet”. When Umar was asked to quote traditions he would usually say “Had I not feared that I might  make a mistake in reporting Hadith I would have quoted one.” Umar emphasized that extra care should  be taken to ensure that there was no mistake in reporting. The checks and restraints imposed by Umar  on the reporting of traditions and the high standard of accuracy required by him paid dividends and all the  traditions that were accepted and publicized were free from flaw.

Traditions On Religious Matters

Umar was very close to the Holy Prophet. He was very careful and cautious in reporting traditions. Over  five hundred traditions are on record which are said to have been reported exclusively on the authority of  Umar.

Some of the traditions on religious matters reported by Umar are noticed hereunder. The account is based  on ‘Sahih Bukhari’.

Umar said that he heard the Holy Prophet say:

“God created Adam, then passed His right hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring  saying ‘I have created these for paradise and they will do the deeds of those who go to paradise’. He  then passed his hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring saying ‘I have created these for  hell and they will do the deeds of those who go to hell’.” A man asked what was the good of doing  anything. The Holy Prophet replied:

“When God creates a man for paradise He employs him in doing the deeds of those who will go to  paradise, so that his final action before death is one of the deeds of those who go to paradise, for which  He will bring him into paradise. But when He creates a man for hell He employs him in doing the deeds of  those who will go to hell, so that his final actions before death are the deeds of those who go to hell, for  which He will bring him into hell.”

Umar stated that on the day of Khaibar some of the companions of the Holy Prophet stated that so and  so were martyrs, but when they came to a man about whom they said “So and so is a martyr”, the Holy  Prophet declared “By no means. I have seen him in hell in a cloak which he took dishonestly.”

The Holy Prophet asked Umar: “Go, Ibn al-Khattab and announce among the people three times that only  the believers will enter paradise.”

In compliance with these instructions, Umar went out and announced three times “Only the believers will  enter paradise.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Do not sit with those who believe in freewill and do not address them before they address you.”

The Holy Prophet, according to Umar said:

“If any one performs the ablution completely, then says ‘I testify that there is no god but God, and that  Muhammad is His servant and messenger’, the eight gates of paradise will be opened for him, and he may  enter by whichsoever of them he wishes.”

Umar said, “The Prophet saw me standing and passing water and said Umar do not pass water standing’  and I never did it again.”

The Holy Prophet said, “Do not wash in water which has been exposed to the sun for it produces  leprosy.”

The Holy Prophet said:

“If four persons give a good testimony about any Muslim, God will cause him to enter paradise.”

The Holy Prophet was asked whether this would apply if three testified and he said it would they further  asked if it applied if two testified and he said it would but they did not ask him about one.

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Should any one fall asleep and fail to recite his portion of the Quran or a part of it, if he recites it  between the dawn and the noon prayer, it will be recorded of him as though he had recited it during the  night.”

Umar said:

“I heard Hisham b Hakim b Hizam reciting Sura al Furqan in a different way from my way of reciting it the  way that God’s Messenger had taught me. I nearly spoke sharply to him, but I delayed till he had finished,  and then catching his cloak at the neck I brought him to God’s Messenger and said: ‘Messenger of God, I  heard this man reciting Sura al Furqan in a manner different from that in which you taught me to recite it’.  The Holy Prophet told me to leave him, and then turning to him asked him to recite. When he recited it in  the manner in which I had heard him recite it, God’s Messenger said, ‘Thus was it sent down’. He then  asked me to recite it, and when I had done so, he said ‘Thus was it sent down’. I was surprised and the  Holy Prophet said, ‘The Quran was sent down in seven modes of reading, so recite according to what  comes most easily.”

About the Holy Quran, Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“By this Book, God exalts some people, and lowers others.” Umar said that God’s Messenger used to seek  refuge in God from five things, namely:

(1) Cowardliness;

(2) Niggardliness;

(3) Evils of old age;

(4) Evil thoughts; and

(5) Punishment of the grave.

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Among God’s servants there are people who are neither prophets nor martyrs but whose position in  relation to God will be an object of desire by the prophets and martyrs on the day of resurrection.”

The people wanted to know who were such people and the Holy Prophet said:

“They are people who have loved one another by reason of God’s spirit, and were giving gifts to one  another without being related or having common property. I swear that their faces will be light, and they  will be placed upon light, neither fearing when men fear, nor grieving when men grieve.”

Umar said that the Holy Prophet sent to Najd an expedition which took much booty and came back  quickly.

A man who had not gone out said, “We have never seen an expedition return more quickly or bring finer  booty than this one”.

Thereupon the Holy Prophet said:

“Shall I not indicate to you people who have most excellent booty and a most excellent return? They are  people who have been present at the morning prayer, then sat mentioning of God till the sun rose. They  have the quickest return and the most excellent booty.”

Umar stated that he heard God’s Messenger say:

“Four rakaat before the noon prayer after the sun has passed the meridian are reckoned equivalent to a  similar number at the dawn prayer. There is nothing which does not glorify God at that hour.”

Umar said that then the Holy Prophet recited:

“Their shadows turn round from the right and the left prostrating themselves to God.”

Umar said that he asked the Holy Prophet about the injunction:

“You may shorten your prayer if you fear those who are infidels may afflict you.”

About this the Holy Prophet elaborated:

“It is an act of charity which God has done to you, so accept His charity.”

About the call to prayer, Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“When the Muezzin says ‘God is most great, God is most great’, and you make the response ‘God is most  great, God is most great’, then says ‘I testify that there is no god but God’, then says ‘I testify that  Muhammad is God’s Messenger’, and you make the response ‘I testify that Muhammad is God’s  Messenger’, then says ‘Come to prayer’, and you make the response ‘There is no might and no power  except in God’, then says ‘Come to salvation’, and he makes the response ‘God is most great; God is most  great’, then says There is no god but God’, and if you say this from heart, you will go to paradise.”

Traditions Of Ethical Importance

Some traditions of the Holy Prophet of ethical importance have been reported by Umar.

Umar reported that the Holy Prophet said:

“Deeds are to be judged only by intentions, and a man will have only what he intended. When one’s  emigration is to God and His Messenger his emigration is to God and His Messenger, but when his  emigration is to a worldly end at which he aims or to a woman whom he marries his emigration is to that  to which he has emigrated”.

Umar reported God’s Messenger as saying:

“If any one says, on seeing some one who is suffering affliction ‘Praise be to God Who has kept me free  from the affliction He has brought on him and has shown me favor above many whom He has created,  that affliction, whatever it may be, will not smite him.”

Umar said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say: “An oath or a vow to disobey the Lord or to break ties  of relationship or about something over which one has no control is not binding on you.”

Umar stated that he heard the Holy Prophet say “Give the road its due”. He was asked what was the  road’s due. The Holy Prophet replied:

Lowering the eyes.

Removing anything offensive.

Returning salutations.

Recommending what is reputable.

Forbidding what is disreputable.

Helping the sorrowful.

Guiding people on their way.

Umar reported that the Holy Prophet taught him to say:

“O God make my inner nature better than my outer, and make my outer nature good. O God I ask Thee to  give me some of the abundance Thou givest to men, in family, property and children, which neither strays  nor leads astray. ”

Umar stated that he heard the Holy Prophet say:

“He who is humble for God’s sake will be exalted by God, for though he considers himself lowly he is great  in the eyes of men; but he who is proud will be abased by God for though he considers himself great he is  lowly in the eyes of men to such an extent that he is of less value in their estimation than a dog or a pig.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“In the last days my people will be afflicted with distresses from their rulers from which no one will escape  but a man who knows God’s religion and strives on its behalf with his tongue, his hand and his heart, that  being the one who will have surpassing felicity in Heaven; a man who knows God’s religion and believes  in it; and a man who knows God’s religion but keeps quiet about it, who if he sees some one doing good  loves him for it; that one will escape for all that he kept concealed in his heart.”

Umar stated that once he went to see the Holy Prophet and found him lying on a reed mat without any  cover. The marks of the mat were on the body of the Holy Prophet. The room was bare and there was no  sign of any comfort.

Umar said to the Holy Prophet:

“O Messenger of God supplicate God to enrich your people for He has enriched the Persians and the  Byzantines, and yet they worship him not.”

The Holy Prophet replied, “Is that how you feel, Ibn-ul-Khattab? These people have been given their good  things in advance in the present world. Are you not pleased that they should have the present world, and  we should have the next?”

Umar said that he went one day to the Prophet’s mosque, and in the way found Mu’adh b Jabal sitting on  the Prophet’s grave weeping. Umar asked him what was making him weep and he replied that it was  something which he had heard from God’s Messenger. He had heard him say, “A little hypocrisy is  polytheism, and any one who is hostile to a friend of God has gone forth to fight with God. God loves the  upright, pious and retiring ones who are not missed when they are absent, and are not given invitations  or treated with honor when they are present. Their hearts are the lamps of guidance and they come  forth from every dusty and dark place.”

Umar and Fiqh

Umar was the founder of Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence. Over one thousand juristic pronouncements of  Umar are on record. All the four schools of law in Islamic jurisprudence follow the law laid down by Umar.  The pronouncements of Umar are cited in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaiba. These are also found in Shah  Wali Ullah’s book Faraq’s Fiqh.

Umar not only declared the law; he also established principles of inference and construction and  formulated rules therefore. He distinguished between the acts of the Holy Prophet performed in pursuance  of his prophetic mission and the acts that he performed as an ordinary man. All that the Holy Prophet did  in the first capacity was held by Umar to be binding and a basic source of law. In matters falling in the  second category room remained for devising new laws to suit the changing conditions and circumstances.

Umar also laid down the principle of Qiyas or logical deduction. According to this principle when the Quran  and the Hadith did not mention the details of law on any point, such law could be arrived at by logical  deduction. In his instructions to his judicial officers Umar said:

“When you do not find a judgment on an issue in the Quran or Hadith and you are in doubt about it,  ponder over the question and ponder again. Then look for dicta on like and similar issues, and decide  accordingly.”

In addition to these fundamental principles Umar enunciated numerous rules about inference and  generalization of laws which form the basis of Islamic jurisprudence,

When some one asked Umar’s verdict on a mere academic question which had not actually arisen, Umar  forbade people raising hypothetical propositions.

Umar held that one should not urinate standing.

Umar was asked whether one could perform the ablution with sea water. Umar answered the question in  the affirmative.

Umar was asked whether one could perform ablution with water taken from a non-Muslim. Umar found no  objection to such ablution.

Umar was asked whether one who has had sexual intercourse could perform Tayammum and offer  prayers. Umar said that for him bath was essential.

Umar was very strict about the offering of prayers. He issued instructions to the provincial Governors that  their foremost duty was the offering of prayer.

Umar was asked as to the time for the morning prayer. He said “In the shadow of the twinkling stars”.

Umar held that the prayer of Zuhr should be delayed as far as possible and the prayer of Isha should be  offered as early as possible.

Umar was asked: if the meals are ready and it is also the time for prayers, which should be given priority.  Umar said “first take your meals”.

When Umar saw a person offering prayer by the roadside he was advised to pray in the mosque.

Umar forbade the people to talk loudly in the mosque.

Umar enjoined that one should not come to the mosque having eaten some thing which produces a bitter  smell.

Umar was very particular that when offering prayers in congregation the lines should be straight.

Umar held that journey on a Friday was not forbidden.

Umar enjoined that around a person on death bed one should recite the article of faith.

When one of the wives of Umar died Umar led the funeral prayers himself.

Umar held that in one’s shroud three sheets were enough.

Umar ruled that on the occasion of a funeral prayers four Takbirs should be offered.

Umar held that in a garden those trees the fruit whereof was reserved for distribution among the poor  were exempt from Zakat.

Umar held that if any thing was given as Sadaqa it could not be repurchased whatever the price or  consideration.

Umar held that when a man was under debt, he should offer Zakat on the value of his property after  deducting the amount of the debt.

Umar held that one should not fast unless he had seen the moon of Ramazan and he should not fast  after he had seen the Eid moon.

Umar advised the people to keep a fast on the tenth of the Muharram.

Umar insisted that in the month of Hajj priority should be given to the Hajj and not to Umra.

Umar prohibited the sale of wine.

Umar held that one should not purchase anything already mortgaged with him.

Umar held that if one passed through a garden he could pick up fruit that had fallen on the ground.

Umar forbade Mutah.

Umar held that where three talaqs were announced simultaneously such divorce would be irrevocable.

Umar held that a slave woman who bore children to her master stood emancipated.

Umar held that justice should not be delayed.

Umar enjoined his officers to dispatch the State business expeditiously.

Umar held that in the court the Judge should not be praised.

All acts should be judged according to the test of public interest.

Any act which did not harm any one and was otherwise not forbidden under law was permissible.

In the famous Fidak case Umar held that the property which vested in the Holy Prophet vested after him  in the State and not in his heirs.

Matters About Fiqh

Umar said:

“I provided a man with a horse to ride on God’s path, but as he who had it did not look after it well, I  wanted to buy it, and I thought he would sell it at a cheap price. I therefore asked the Prophet, but he  said ‘Do not buy it, and do not take back what you gave as Sadaqa even if he gives it to you for a Dirham,  for the one who takes back what he gave as Sadaqa is like a dog which returns to its vomit.”

Umar said:

“Once, captives came to the Holy Prophet among whom was a woman whose breast was oozing with  milk. She was running and when she found a child among the captives she took him, put him to her breast  and suckled him. Then the Prophet said to us ‘Do you think this woman will cast her child into the fire?’ We  replied ‘Not so long as she is in a position not to do so’. He said ‘God is more merciful to His servants than  this woman to her child.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Gold for gold is usury unless both hand over on the spot; silver for silver is usury unless both hand over  on the spot; wheat for wheat is usury unless both hand over on the spot; barley for barley is usury  unless both hand over on the spot; dates for dates is usury unless both hand over on the spot.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“He who brings goods for sale is blessed with good fortune, but he who keeps them till the price rises is  accursed.”

Umar also reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“If any one keeps grain from the Muslims waiting for the, price to rise, God will smite him with tubercular  leprosy and insolvency.”

Umar said:

“God sent Muhammad with the truth and sent down the Book to him, and the verse of stoning was  included in what God Most High sent down. God’s Messenger had people stoned to death and we have  done it also since his death. Stoning is a duty laid down in God’s Book for married men and women who  commit fornication when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy, or a confession.”

Umar said that a man called Abdullah whose nome-de-plume was ‘ass’ used to make the Prophet laugh.  The Prophet had beaten him because of wine drinking, but when he was brought to him one day and he  gave orders and had him beaten, and then one of those present said, “O God curse him; how often he is  brought’, the Prophet said, “Do not curse him. I swear by God that for all I know he loves God and His  Messenger.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

When you find that a man has been unfaithful with regard to spoils in God’s way, burn his goods and beat  him.”

Umar stated that the Holy Prophet reserved three things exclusively to himself namely: the Banu an  Nadir; Khaibar; and Fidak. The Banu an-Nadhir property was kept wholly for his own purposes. Fidak was  kept for travelers. Khaibar was divided into three sections, two for the Muslims and one for the  maintenance of his family. If anything remained after meeting the needs of his family, that was divided  among the poor Muhajreen.

Friends Who Could Straighten Him

True to the title ‘Al-Farooq’, Umar was an embodiment of truth. He did not hesitate to speak the truth, in  the best interests of the Muslim State. Such truth was sometimes bitter, and the people held him in awe.

Some people understood him, and appreciated his sterling qualities of courage, conviction, and  truthfulness. Some people misjudged him and felt that he was unduly hard and harsh with the people.

Umar knew that he was more feared than loved. Under a stern exterior, Umar had a heart full of the milk  of human kindness. Whenever Umar came across a person who was in distress or was in any way  oppressed, Umar was all sympathy for him, and he did all he could to alleviate his distress.

Umar did often reflect and ponder over the responsibilities that had come to vest in him and the way he  discharged them. He did not feel very happy with the equation between himself and the people. He  regretted that the people did not understand him properly.

Hudhaifa a prominent companion has left on record that one day he went to see Umar and found that he  was feeling much perturbed. Seeing the disturbed state of the mind of Umar, Hudhaifa enquired as to  what was the matter.

Umar said:

“I was feeling unhappy that the people have awe of me. They generally avoid me, and hesitate to bring  my shortcomings to my notice. I was just thinking as to what, would happen if I were to fall in erroneous  ways, and because of the awe that the people have of me, no one comes forward to restrain me.”

Thereupon Hudhaifa said:

“Your awe is because of the truth at your command. If you deviate from the path of truth, the people will  not be afraid to call you to account. Verily if I see that you are in the wrong, I will fix you up, and  straighten you.”

At this Umar felt very happy. He said:

“Thank God, there are friends who will straighten me when I err. If I have such friends around me, I need  have no fear of falling into error.”

The Man Who Came To Murder Became A Convent

By 638 A.D., the whole of Syria was under the occupation of the Muslims. Heraclius the Byzantine emperor  had left Syria and withdrawn his forces. His parting words were:

“Farewell Syria, never again will I come to this beautiful land. What a fine country I am leaving for the  enemy.”

Some of the Christian Arabs felt grieved at the discomfiture of the Christians at the hands of the Muslims.  In a spirit of fanaticism they vowed vengeance against the Muslims. Having failed to defeat the Muslims  on the battlefield they decided to resort to underhand means and murder some high ranking Muslims. A  Ghassanid Arab Wasiq by name undertook to murder Umar the Caliph of Islam.

Wasiq waited on Heraclius at Constantinople, and volunteered to rid the Byzantine emperor of his  enemies. The scheme appealed to Heraclius. He paid Wasiq a huge sum and promised to pay much more  when he succeeded in his mission. Thus patronized, Wasiq decided to proceed to Madina.

Arab as he was, Wasiq found no difficulty in coming over to Madina in cognito. He posed himself as a  Muslim coming from the interior of the desert to pay a visit to Madina. Wasiq carried a poisoned dagger  carefully hidden in the folds of his cloak. Having reached Madina, he was on the look out for a suitable  opportunity when he could come face to face with the Caliph of Islam, and kill him with his dagger in an  unguarded moment.

He had thought that the ruler of the Muslim state would be surrounded by heavy body-guards at all times  and it would be difficult to reach him. He was surprised to learn in Madina that there were no body-guards  around the Caliph of Islam. Wasiq felt happy that unguarded as the Caliph was, he could easily get an  opportunity to fulfill his mission.

Wasiq waited for a suitable opportunity. One day at noon Wasiq found Umar sleeping under a tree, all  alone and without any guard. There was no body near at hand. Wasiq thought that this was a golden  opportunity for him and he could dispatch the Caliph of Islam without any difficulty.

Cautiously with measured steps and hushed breath Wasiq stepped upto Umar and took his sword. He  was about to plunge his sword in the body of Umar when his eyes fell on the face of Umar. The sight of  the unadorned majesty of the pious Caliph sent a shudder through the body of Wasiq, and the sword  dropped from his trembling hands. With the noise of the dropping of the sword, Umar opened his eyes.  He was quick to take hold of the fallen sword and then rising up faced his would be assassin.

Wasiq fell at the feet of the Caliph, implored his forgiveness and embraced Islam.

Criticism Against Umar

One day in a Friday address Umar said that he had tried to serve Islam and the Muslims to the best of his  capacity. He added that being a human being he was apt to make mistakes. He requested the faithful to  point out his mistakes if any, so that he may correct himself.

After the prayers Umman bin Sawad stepped upto Umar and said that he wanted to apprise him of his  mistakes. Umar invited him to come along to his house where they could talk over the matter at leisure.

Umman bin Sawad said that he had no intention of criticizing the Caliph; as a well wisher he merely  wanted to bring some points to his notice. Umar said that such observations and counsels were most  welcome to him.

Umman bin Sawad said that he had four objections and these were:

(1) That Umar had prohibited Umra in the month of Hajj;

(2) That Umar had declared Mut’ah unlawful.

(3) That Umar had emancipated slave girls who bore their masters children.

(4) That Umar was harsh and stern.

Umar enquired whether these were all the objections against him or whether there were any other  objections as well. Umman said that these were the only points of criticism against him.

About the first charge Umar said:

“I have not prohibited Umra. My only instructions are that in the month of Hajj priority should be given to  Hajj over the Umra. Some of the persons were prone to think that when they had performed the Umra  that was enough and that thereafter Hajj need not be performed. Such a course was derogatory to Hajj  and in order to preserve the integrity and sanctity of Hajj. I have merely instructed that in the month of  Hajj, the pilgrims should concentrate on the Hajj. In the other months it is open to them to perform  Umra.”

About the Mutah, Umar said:

“Mutah was an ancient practice with the Arabs. The Holy Prophet did not like the practice though he  tolerated it on some occasions due to special circumstances. Even then on at least two occasions he  prohibited the practice. God has spoken of the sanctity of the marriage ties, and if the marriage is held  sacred on one side and Mutah is allowed on the other that would be inconsistent. If Mutah is allowed that  would be a sort of sanctioned prostitution. That is repugnant to Islam. If any person marries the idea is to  establish a home. If a person marries for a few specified days that is foreign to the establishment of a  home. Mutah is thus repugnant to Islam. If any person wants to dissolve the marriage after a few days it  is open to him to give the divorce in the usual way. I have prohibited Mutah in the interests of the sanctity  and integrity of Muslim homes. That is a social reform. There is no express injunction allowing Mutah and  by disallowing it I have not contravened any provisions of Islamic law.”

As regards the emancipation of slave girls, Umar explained:

“We have already laid down that no Arab can be a slave. If the slave girls were not emancipated there  would have been the anomaly that while the children were free their mother was not free. Moreover for  every marriage there is a dower. In the case of slave girls the dower is that when they become mothers  they would be emancipated. This is a humanitarian reform strictly in accordance with the Spirit of Islam.”

As regards the fourth charge Umar said:

“I am harsh and stern only for the wrong doer, the tyrant and the oppressor. For the weak and the meek  I am never harsh or stern.”

After hearing these explanations Umman bin Sawad said: “Verily Umar you have spoken the truth. You  have done well in whatever you have done. You have acted in the interests of Islam. May God bless you.  No blame rests on you.”

The Eid Moon

Uqba bin Farqad was the Governor of Azarbaijan. It was the month of the Ramadan. When 29 fasts were  over the faithful gathered to sight the Eid moon, but no moon was seen. Uqba bin Farqad accordingly  ordered that the fast should be kept for the thirtieth day of the Ramdan as well.

The next day Uqba kept the fast, and went on tour in the interior of the country. The Governor said the  noon prayers and then retired to rest. When he woke up, he was told that the new moon was visible in  the sky. Uqba went out and he saw that though there were yet a few hours for the sun to set, the moon  was visible in the sky.

On sighting the moon, the Governor summoned the Ulema and sought for their opinion about the  observance of the fast in the Eid. The consensus of opinion was that after the noon had been sighted  the observance of the fast was not lawful. In deference to this opinion Uqba broke the fast before sunset  and other Muslims did likewise.

A difficulty, however, arose about the celebration of the Eid. It was so late in the day that Eid could not be  celebrated hat day. After consulting the Ulema Uqba decided that trough the fast was to be broken, the  Eid was to be celebrated he following day.

As the issue involved an important question of religious aw, Uqba referred the case to Umar for the final  verdict in matters concerning the sighting of the moon in daylight and the celebration of the Eid.

When the case was referred to Umar, he gave the following decision:

“When you see the moon in the earlier part of the day you should break the fast and celebrate the Eid. A  moon appearing in the earlier part of the day is indicative of the fact that it actually appeared on the  horizon the previous night, but for some reason could not be seen. When you see the moon in the later  part of the day keep the fast an celebrate the Eid on the following day. Sometimes the moon is bigger and  it becomes visible before the evening but it is not a moon of the previous day. It is really for the day to  follow. Moon seen in the earlier part of the day belongs to the previous day and the moon seen in the later  part belongs to the following day.”

Umar’s Attitude To Sinners

Some time in 639 A.D. the year of the famine and the plague some Muslims in Syria drank wine. When  called to question, they argued that in the Holy Quran, no definite punishment was prescribed for drinking  and as such they were not liable to any punishment. Abu Ubaida reported the matter to Umar.

In reply, Umar instructed Abu Ubaida to call the delinquents to the mosque and there before the  congregation ask them whether they considered drinking lawful or unlawful. If they considered it lawful  they should be deemed to have apostatized and in that case they should meet the penalty for apostasy  namely death. If they held that drinking was unlawful then they should be inflicted eighty lashes. Umar  explained that although the Holy Quran did not provide the penalty for drinking, it did not forbid the  prescription of such penalty. The State could therefore in public interest prescribe a penalty. The State  had after due deliberation provided a penalty of 80 lashes and this was in no way repugnant to Islam.

When the instructions of Umar were received at Emessa, Abu Ubaida called the delinquents to the  mosque. These included Zarrar bin Azwar and Abu Jandal. There before the congregation Abu Ubaida put  them the question whether they regarded drinking as lawful or unlawful. They held that they regarded it  unlawful. Abu Ubaida then said that if they had done an unlawful thing they exposed themselves to  punishment. They argued that no punishment was due as none had been prescribed by the Quran. Abu  Ubadia explained in the terms of the instructions of Umar that when a person was guilty of an unlawful  act, the State could prescribe a penalty. Abu Ubaida accordingly inflicted on the delinquents the  punishment of eighty stripes.

The delinquents took the punishment to heart. Abu Jandal was particularly very disconsolate. He locked  himself in his house and refused to come out and face the people. Abu Ubaida felt for him and reported  the matter to Umar. Thereupon Umar wrote a conciliatory letter. He wrote:

“It is a fact that when you violate the principle of the unity of God, and create rivals to Allah the sin is too  serious to be forgiven. Allah does not forgive this sin. As regards other sins God in His Mercy and Kindness  forgives such sins when one is repentant. Allah says ‘O my people, if you transgress and then repent do  not despair of the mercy of Allah for He is Forgiving and Merciful.”

In the letter Umar advised Abu Jandal to seek the forgiveness of Allah and come out of his house and  attend to the affairs of the world as usual. To the general public Umar advised in the letter:

“Do not exult over the sins of others. Do not ridicule them. If they are repentant help them in the process  of repentance so that Allah may forgive them.”

When the letter of Umar was received, Abu Ubaida called Abu Jandal and other delinquents to the  mosque and there read the letter of Umar before the gathering. The letter had the necessary solacing  effect. The delinquents repented and then applied for being sent to some expedition on Jihad. Abu Ubaida  sent them to fight and they fought with a sense of dedication.

Umar’s Wife Acts As A Midwife

It was the usual practice of Umar that he would patrol the streets and suburbs of Madina to watch the  interests of the people, and attend to their needs.

One day Umar noticed a tent pitched in an open space outside Madina. A person was sitting outside the  tent, and some one inside the tent was groaning.

Umar went to the man, greeted him, and wanted to know who he was.

The man said that he was a man of the desert, and had come to Madina to wait on the Commander of the  Faithful and seek his assistance.

Umar next asked who was groaning inside the tent. The man said that inside the tent his wife was  groaning with labor pains. He said that he was a stranger in Madina and did not know what to do. Umar  enquired whether he had any woman to look after the confinement of his wife. He said that there was  none.

Umar said, “Do not worry. I will make the necessary arrangements.”

Umar came home, and asked his wife Umm Kulsum to accompany him on a mission of service. Umm Kulsum  got ready and took with her such things as might be needed for the purposes of confinement. Umar took  with him some provisions for the purposes of cooking a meal.

Umar returned to the camp with his wife. Umm Kulsum went inside the tent to attend to the woman in  pain, while Umar sat outside the tent with the Bedouin and began cooking some meals for him.

After an hour or so when the meals had been cooked, Umm Kulsum from inside the tent addressed Umar:  Amirul Mominin! Congratulate your guest on the birth of a son.”

Hearing this the Bedouin felt much embarrassed. Turning to Umar he said, “Amirul Mominin, why did you  not reveal your identity? You have overwhelmed me with your benevolence.”

Umar put all his fears to rest saying: “That’s all right. There is nothing to worry about. Thank God I have  been of some service to you at the time of your need. You may come to me tomorrow and I will see what  can be done further to help you”.

It was late at night when Umar and Umm Kulsum left. The Bedouin thanked God and said: “God be  praised. I came to seek the Commander of the Faithful, and God sent the Commander of the Faithful to  seek me.”

Umar Marries A Milkmaid To his Son

One night, Umar as usual went in disguise with his comrade Ibn Abbas to see the condition of the people.  They strolled from one quarter to another. At last they came to a colony where very poor people lived.

While passing by a small hutment, the Caliph heard a whispering talk within. The mother was telling her  daughter that the amount fetched by her that day on account of the sale of milk was very little. She told  her that when she was young, and used to sell milk, she always mixed water with milk, and that led to  considerable profit. She advised her daughter to do the same.

The girl said, “You adulterated milk, when you were not a Muslim. Now that we are Muslims, we cannot  adulterate milk.”

The mother said that Islam did not stand in the way of he adulteration of milk.

The daughter said, “Have you forgotten the Caliph’s order? He wants that the milk should not be  adulterated.”

The mother said, “But the Caliph has forgotten us. Were so poor, what else should we do but adulterate  milk in order to win bread?”

The daughter said “Such a bread would not be lawful, and as a Muslim I would not do anything which is  against he orders of the Caliph, and whereby other Muslims are deceived.”

The mother said, “But there is neither the Caliph nor any of his officers here to see what we do. Daughter  you are still a child. Go to bed now and tomorrow I will myself mix the milk with water for you.”

The girl refused to fall in with the plan of her mother. She said, “Caliph may or may not be here, but his  order is order, and it must be obeyed. My conscience is My Caliph. You may escape the notice of the  Caliph and his officers, but how can we escape the notice of Allah and our own conscience?”

Thereupon the mother remained quiet. The lamp was extinguished and the mother and the daughter  went to sleep.

The next day, Umar sent a man to purchase milk from the girl. The milk was unadulterated. The girl had  kept her resolve.

Umar turned to his companion and said, “The girl has kept her resolve in spite of the exhortation of her  mother. She deserves a reward. What reward should I give her?”

“She should be paid some money” said Ibn Abbas.

Umar said, ‘Such a girl would become a great mother Her integrity is not to be weighed with a few coins;  it is to be measured in the scale of national values. I shall offer her the highest award in my gift, and  which shall also be in the highest interest of the nation.”

The Caliph summoned the daughter and the mother to his court. The mother trembled as she stood  before the mighty ruler. But the girl faced the Caliph boldly and with great equanimity. She was beautiful,  and there was an impressive dignity about her.

Then before the gathering, Umar related how he had overheard the mother and the daughter, and how in  spite of the exhortations of the mother the daughter had kept he resolve.

Someone suggested that the mother should be taken the task. The Caliph said that ordinarily he would  have punished the mother, but he had forgiven her for the sake of he daughter. Turning to the girl the  great Caliph said, “Islam needs daughters like you, and as a Caliph of Islam it devolve on me to reward  you by owning you as a daughter”.

The Caliph called his sons, and addressing them said “Here is a gem of a girl who would make a great  mother. I desire that one of you should take this girl as wife. I know of no better bride than this girl of  sterling character. In matters of wedlock, it should be the character, and not the stature in life that should  count.”

Abdullah and Abdur Rahman the elder sons of the Caliph were already married. Asim the third son was  yet unmarried, and he offered to marry the girl. Thereupon with the consent of the milkmaid and her  mother Asim was married to the girl, and the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Caliph.

From this union was born a daughter Umm Asim, who became in due course the mother of Umar bin Abdul  Aziz. Umar bin Abdul Aziz became a Caliph in due course.

While other Caliphs of the Ummayad dynasty reveled in luxury, Umar bin Abdul Aziz as a Caliph set up  standards for austerity and simplicity following in the footsteps of Umar the second Caliph of Islam. It is  said that if ever there was a noble Caliph after the ‘Rightly guided Caliphs’, such a man was Umar bin  Abdul Aziz. And he inherited the noble qualities of the milkmaid who married the Caliph’s son, and those  of Umar Farooq who had the eye to discern the nobler qualities of sterling character in a poor girl.

Umar Flogs His Son To Death

Abu Shahma was a son of Umar. He fought in the battles in Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt he built a  house for himself in Fustat.

One day in the company of a friend he inadvertently drank wine and became unconscious. The following  day he went with his friend to Amr bin Al Aas, confessed their guilt, and wanted to be punished. Amr bin Al  Aas said that as they had drunk the wine inadvertently, and were feeling repentant, that was enough  and no further punishment was called for.

Abu Shahma did not wish to avail of the benefit of inadvertence. He insisted that he should be punished  according to law, failing which he would bring the matter to the notice of the Caliph. Thereupon Arm bin Al  Aas inflicted the usual punishment of lashes in the compound of his house. Abu Shahma’s head was also  shaved off in the house of the Governor.

The Reporter reported the matter to Umar, and Umar addressed a letter to Amr b. Al Aas in strong terms  as follows:

“O Amr bin Al Aas it has come to my notice that you have been derelict in the performance of your duty.  You have shown undue favor to Abu Shahma by awarding him punishment in your house rather than at  a public place. You were apparently moved by the consideration that he is my son. You should know that  in such matters I cannot tolerate any concession to a person on the ground that he is related to me. As  soon as you get this letter send Abu Shahma to Medina on a naked camel.”

Amr bin Al Aas complied with the instructions and dispatched Abu Shahma to Madina. In the way Abu  Shahma fell sick and when he reached Madina he could hardly walk.

Umar was furious, and he ordered that Abu Shahma should be lashed in the public. Abdul Rahman b. Auf  pleaded that the boy had already been lashed in Egypt and no further punishment was called for Abu  Shahma said that he was suffering, and the punishment should be deferred till he was recovered.

Umar brushed aside these pleadings Abu Shahma was flogged publicly. Abu Shahma could not withstand  the ordeal He fell senseless after a few stripes had been inflicted. He remained in a state of agony for a  few days and then died a martyr to the highly developed sense of justice of his father.

The Woman Who Pined For Her Husband

In the wars that were conducted during the rule of Umar, the soldiers on the front remained absent for  considerable periods. Umar introduced the reform that leave should be granted to every soldier after he  had served on the front for four months. A story is recorded as to how this reform was brought about.

It is related that one night Umar went on his round in Madina as usual. It was the dead of night, and  every where was quiet. From one of the houses in the street, Umar heard a lady lamenting. She said:

“The night is wearisome and keeps me sleepless;

For I have none to keep me company.

I fear Allah, Who keeps watch over our souls,

And would not take another companion,

But who could tell Umar,

That he should not be so cruel,

As to keep my husband away from me,

For such a long period.”

Umar knocked at the door, and when the lady came to the door he said:

“I have heard, what you wanted to be conveyed to Umar.

How long has your husband been away.”

The lady said, “About a year.”

Umar said, “Rest assured your husband would come back to you shortly.”

Umar consulted Hafsa as to the maximum period for which a man might remain separate from his wife.  She suggested a period of four months. Umar accordingly issued orders to the effect that unless a man of  the armed forces could take his wife with him, he should be allowed a spell of leave after every four  months of active service on the front.

Umar And His Whip

It is related that once while riding a camel, the whip of Umar dropped. Many persons who saw the whip  fall rushed to pick up the whip to hand it over to the Caliph. Umar asked them to mind their own business,  and not to bother about his whip. Umar dismounted and picked up his whip himself.

Iqbal has dramatized the episode in his classic poem ‘The Secrets of the Self’. Iqbal exhorts:

“Like Umar, come down from the camel,

Beware of incurring obligations, beware”

From this episode, Iqbal deduces a code of conduct, the highlights whereof are:

“Do not incur the obligation of any person,

Do not debase yourself by receiving benefits.

Self is weakened by asking; asking disintegrates the Self,

By asking, poverty is made more abject.

By begging, the beggar is made poorer,

Even if you are poor and overwhelmed by affliction,

Do not seek your bread by the bounty of another.”

Iqbal further elaborates:

“God loves a man that earns his living;

Woe to him that accepts bounty from another’s table.

The more your hands are empty, the more you are master of yourself.

Seek no favors and walk with your head erect like the pine.

Sweet is a little dew gathered by one’s own hand,

Be a man of honor, and like the bubble

Keep the cup inverted even in the midst of the sea.”

Umar’s Care For The Poor

It was the year of the famine. Umar took pains to ensure that adequate relief reached all people, and  that there were no persons in the city who went to sleep hungry.

One night as usual Umar went on his round. He was accompanied by his slave Aslam. As he strolled from  street to street all was quiet and the people seemed to be asleep. Umar thought to himself, “Thank God,  there is no one in this city whom the famine has afflicted.”

Then as he turned a corner he saw a cottage where light was burning, and from where the sound of the  weeping of the children was heard. Umar went to the cottage. He saw that the lady of the house was  cooking something on the hearth, and the children were crying.

Umar knocked at the gate, and addressing the lady of the house Umar enquired why were the children  crying. She said that they were crying because they were hungry. “And what are you cooking”, asked  Umar. The lady said that in the kettle there was only water and stones. That was to while away the  children that food was being cooked for them. She hoped that exhausted the children would go to sleep.

Hearing this tale of woe, Umar felt guilty. He had thought that because of the arrangements made by him,  no one was afflicted in the city and here was a family which was starving. Umar said to the lady that he  would arrange relief for her family immediately.

Umar went to the Baitul Mal. There he put the necessary provisions in a bag and carried the bag to the  cottage. His slave insisted that he would carry the bag, but Umar said that he would carry his burden  himself. Umar handed over the bag of provisions to the lady. Umar sat by the hearth and helped the lady  cook the meals. When the meals were ready the children were awakened and served with the delicious  meals. As the children ate to their fill and were satisfied they smiled the smile of happiness. Seeing the  destitute children smile Umar also felt happy.

Umar enquired of the lady whether there was none to support. She said that the father of the children  had died, and there was no body to support. Whatever little was in the house had been gradually used  up and they were starving since the last three days.

Umar asked the lady why she had not brought her distress to the notice of the Caliph. The lady said that  in spite of her poverty she had some sense of self-respect and she could not go and beg the Caliph for  any favor. She added that it was incumbent on the Caliph to ascertain that there was no one in his  charge who was starving.

Umar said, “You are right. Please excuse me for the remissness in the past. For the future it will be my  responsibility to see that your wants are satisfied.”

And when the lady realized that the man who had come to her relief was the Caliph himself, she felt  satisfied that the Caliph had discharged his onerous responsibilities creditably.

A Persian Stabbed Umar

After the battle of Nihawand, many Persians, men, women, and children were taken as captives by the  Muslims. The captives were sold as slaves. One of these slaves was Firoz alias Abu Lulu. He was  purchased by Mughirah Shu’bah the Governor of Basra. This Firoz was a craftsman, a carpenter, an iron  smith and a painter. Umar did not allow non-Muslim adult captives to reside in Madina. Mughirah sought  special permission for the residence of Firoz in Madina on the ground that as he was a skilled craftsman,  he would be of service to the people. Umar gave the permission as a special case.

One day, Firoz waited on Umar and complained that the tax which his master Mughirah was exacting from  him was too high. He wanted the Caliph to reduce the levy. Umar enquired what work did he do. He said  that he worked as a carpenter, painter, and an ironsmith. He added that he could make windmills as well.  Umar next enquired as to the amount of the tax that he was required to pay to his master. He said that  he had to pay two dirhams a day. Umar said that keeping in view the lucrative nature of the jobs done by  him, the levy of two dirhams a day was prima facie not excessive. Umar said that he would, however,  write to Mughirah, and examine the question further in the light of what Mughirah said. That did not  satisfy Firoz, and he went away sulking.

Umar wrote to Mughirah, and in reply Mughirah quoted facts and figures to establish that what he took  from his slave was by no means excessive. When Firoz called on Umar again, Umar explained to him that  as the levy was not excessive, no reduction therein was called for that made Firoz angry. In order to  humor Firoz, Umar said, “I understand you make windmills; make one for me as well.” In a sullen mood,  Firoz said, “Verily I will make such a mill for you, that the world would talk about it.” As Firoz went away,  the Caliph told the people around him that the Persian slave had threatened him.

There were Persian children slaves in Madina. Seeing them, Firoz would say, “You have been enslaved at  such a tender age. This Umar sees eaten my heart. I will take his heart out”. He made for himself a  dagger with a very sharp edge and smeared it with poison.

On the 1st of November 644 A.D. at the time of the morning prayer, Firoz went with his dagger to the  Prophet’s mosque and hid himself in a corner in one of the recesses of the mosque. When the faithful  stood for prayer after straightening the lines, and Umar took up his position as the Imam to lead the  prayer, Firoz emerged from his place of hiding and rushed at Umar. Firoz struck Umar six consecutive  blows with his dagger, and Umar fell on the floor profusely bleeding.

Other persons rushed at Firoz, but he had the fury and frenzy of a desperate man about him. He struck  right and left, and thirteen Muslims were wounded, some of them fatally, before Firoz could be  overpowered. At last realizing that he could not escape, Firoz stabbed himself to death with his own  dagger.

Umar On Death Bed

From the mosque Umar was carried home. When he regained consciousness he asked who was his  murderer. He was told that his murderer was the Persian slave Firoz. Thereupon Umar said, “Praise be to  God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim”.

The physician administered him date cordial and milk. These could not be digested and gushed out of his  wounds. That indicated that the wounds were fatal and that he could not survive for long.

The people around him praised him for his virtues and sterling qualities. He asked them not to praise him.  He said:

“All praise is to Allah. If all the treasures of this world were to be at my disposal, I would offer them as a  ransom to be saved from the trial at the Day of Judgment.”

He then recited the Arabic verse:

“I have been unjust to my soul,
Except that I am a Muslim,
Say my prayers and fast.”

Umar asked his son Abdullah to wait on Ayesha and beg her permission for his burial by the side of the  Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. Ayesha wept as she came to know that Umar was about to die. She said, “I  had reserved this place for my own burial, but I give Umar precedence over myself. Let him be buried  there”. When Umar was told that Ayesha had given the permission, he felt happy and said, “God bless  Ayesha. She has fulfilled my greatest wish. Now I can die in peace.”

Then he asked his son to estimate the debt that he had to pay. He was told that the debt amounted to  eighty six thousand dirhams. This included the salary that he had drawn from the Baitul Mal during the  period of his caliphate. He instructed that the debt should be paid by the sale of his property. Thereafter  Umar gave detailed instructions to his son regarding his funeral. He said:

“Be moderate in the expenses of my shroud, for verily if there is anything of good with God in my favor,  He will give me in exchange what is better than it, and if I have been otherwise, He will strip me of all that  I have. And be moderate in the grave that you dig for me, for verily if there be anything of good with God  in my favor, He will widen it for me, and if I have been otherwise, He will make it narrow for me to  squeeze my body. And let no woman go with my funeral. Praise me not for that which is not in me, for the  Lord knows best what I am. Therefore when you carry me to the grave, hasten in your going for if there is  anything of good with God in my favor you will speed me to that which is good, and if I have been  otherwise, you will cast from your necks an evil that you bear.”

Thereafter Umar turned his face to the Qibla and breathed his last. There was serene smile on his face as  he lay dead.

Umar And His Successor

When Umar was on his death bed, he was asked that he should nominate his successor. Umar sighed  and said, “Whom should I nominate my successor? If Abu Ubaida had been alive, I would have nominated  him as my successor for about him the Holy Prophet had said that he was the trustee of the Muslim  community. If Salam the liberated slave of Abu Huzaifa had been alive, I would have nominated him as my  successor for about him the Holy Prophet had said that among the Muslims he loved Allah most.”

Some one said, “I propose the name of your son Abdullah for the office.”

Thereupon Umar said:

“May God curse you for tempting me to nepotism by nominating my son when I am going to meet my  Creator. The Caliphate is an affair affecting the entire Muslim community, and I would not like to make it  an hereditary office in my family. I swear it by God that I never coveted the caliphate for myself. Therefore  what I never coveted for myself I would not like to pass on to my family. If the caliphate is something  good then by holding the office for the last ten years, I have had the blessing for my family. If the  caliphate is something bad then why should I pass on this bad thing to my family? God is my witness that  during my caliphate I showed no favor to my family members. On the other hand I was more hard with  them than with the other Muslims. I have tried to fulfill the obligations of the office always under the  shadow of the fear lest I may at any stage falter in the performance of my duties. I do not know whether  I have succeeded in my purpose, but I will be happy if my achievements and failures just balance, so that  I am neither rewarded nor punished for holding the office of the caliphate. Remember ye men, that if I  nominate my successor, a better man than me (namely Abu Bakr) also nominated his successor. And  again if I do not nominate a successor, remember that the best of men, namely Muhammad (peace be on  him) did not nominate a successor. Whatever the case I am confident that Allah will Himself protect the  interests of Islam.”

At this, the persons around Umar went away. Umar had some sleep. Then the men came again and they  said:

“O Amirul Mominin, if you are not going to nominate a successor at least leave some instructions for the  selection of your successor.”

Thereupon Umar said:

“After hearing you and weighing the pros and cons of the case carefully I had decided that I should  nominate my successor who should lead the Muslims on the path of righteousness. But then I lost  consciousness, and in that state of unconsciousness I had a dream. I saw that a man who had laid out  the garden was plucking all ripe and unripe fruit from all the trees, and gathering it on the ground. I  interpret this dream to mean that I will die, and Allah will Himself attend to the affairs of the Muslim  community. I therefore refrain from nominating a successor for I do not wish that even after death I  should continue to carry the burden of the caliphate.”

When pressed to leave some guidance for the people to choose his successor, Umar said that he would  nominate a Committee comprising Ali, Usman, Abdur Rahman b. Auf; Sad bin Abi Waqqas; Zubair b.  Awwam; and Abu Talha. All these were eminent Companions whom the Holy Prophet gave the tidings of  paradise in their lifetime. Umar said:

“I enjoin that this Committee should elect one of themselves as the Caliph.”

The following, day Umar called the members of the Committee (except Abu Talha who was cut of station)  and enjoined them that they should deliberate and choose one from among themselves as the Caliph.  The Committee retired to hold a meeting. It was soon found that there were strong dissensions among  the members, and loud voices were raised highlighting the differences. Thereupon Abdul Rahman b. Auf  addressing the members of the Committee said:

“The Amirul Mominin is not yet dead, and you have started quarrelling over the question of succession.”

When this state of affairs was brought to the notice of Umar he instructed:

“Defer the consideration of this issue for the present. When I die you take up the issue and then settle it  within three days. On the fourth day after my death the person chosen by you should take the oath of  office. He should be some one out of you. Abdullah b. Umar will sit with the Committee as Adviser and  Moderator, but he will have no vote, nor will he be eligible for election as the Caliph. If during this period  Abu Talha joins you he will be a member. If he does not come within three days, the rest of the members  of the Committee will have the authority to take the decision. During these three days, Suhaib will lead  the prayers. Thereafter, whosoever, is elected as the Caliph will lead the prayers.”

Testament Of Umar

On his death bed Umar was requested to make a testament for the guidance of his successor. Umar  addressed the following testament to his successor:

“I enjoin upon you to have trust and faith in God, He Who has no peer.

Be kind and generous to the Muhajreen and the Ansar. Those out of them who are good, be good to  them; those who are bad overlook their lapses.

Be good to the people of the conquered lands. They are the outer line of our defense; they are the target  of the anger and distress of our enemies. They contribute to our revenues. They should be taxed only on  their surplus wealth.

Be gracious to the Bedouins as they are the backbone of the Arab nation.

I instruct you to be good to the Dhimmis for they are your responsibility. Do not tax them beyond their  capacity. Ensure that they pay the Jizya without undue inconvenience.

Fear God, and in all that you do keep His pleasure in view. In the matter of people fear God, and in the  matter of Allah do not be afraid of the people.

With regard to the people, I enjoin upon you to administer justice with an even hand. See that all the  legitimate requirements of the people are met. Be concerned for their welfare. Ensure the safety of their  person and property.

See that the frontiers of our domains are not violated. Take strong steps to guard the frontiers.

In the matter of administration do not prefer the rich to the poor. Be hard against those who violate the  law. Show them no mercy. Do not rest content until you have brought the miscreants to book.

Treat all the people as equal. Be a pillar of strength for those who are weak and oppressed. Those who  are strong but do wrong, make them pay for their wrong-doings.

In the distribution of booty and other matters be above nepotism. Let no consideration of relationship or  selfish interest weigh with you.

The Satan is at large; it may tempt you. Rise above all temptations and perform your duties in accordance  with the injunctions of Islam.

Get guidance from the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Freely consult the wise men around you. Apply your own  mind in difficult cases, and seek light from God.

Be simple in your living and your habits. Let there be no show or ostentation about you. Lead life as a  model Muslim. As you are the leader of the Muslims, justify your leadership by being the best among them  all. May God bless you.”

His son Abdullah also desired some words of parting advice. Umar asked him to hold fast to the  fundamentals of faith. Abdullah asked what these fundamentals were.

Umar said that these were:

Keep fast in the intense heat of the summer when the Ramazan falls in such a season.

Kill the enemies of Islam with sword.

In the event of any calamity or distress exercise patience.

In the cold of the winter perform your ablutions in full.

On a cloudy day hurry up in offering prayers.

Abstain from the mud of destruction.

Abdullah enquired what was the mud of destruction, and Umar said it was wine-bibbling.

Elegies And Tributes On The Death Of Umar

Atika the wife of Umar burst into the following elegy on the death of Umar:

“Eye, let thy tears and weeping be abundant,
Death has afflicted me in the fall of a horseman
Distinguished in the day of battle and of contumely,
The stay of faith, the defense against inclement fortune,
And a champion unto the afflicted and oppressed,
Say unto the hopeless die,
Since Death hath given us to drink the cup of dissolution.”

She also said:

“Firoz has deprived us of such a fair complexioned, fair minded person
Who was fastidious about his prayers
Who was regular in the recitation of the Holy Qur’an,
Who was a source of strength for the weak;
And who was stern and harsh against the oppressors.”

Another wife of Umar mourned his death in the following terms:

“The death of Umar has overwhelmed me with such grief
That the entire world now appears to be a place of sorrow and distress.”

Bint Abi Hashma said:

“We mourn the death of Umar
Who disentangled every knot,
Who solved every difficulty,
Who put an end to all mischief,
Who revived the Sunnat of the Holy Prophet,
He has departed from this world
Free from all blame.”

Hafsa expressed her grief in the following terms:

“I am bearing this bereavement with patience,
The Holy Qur’an condoles me,
You are not alone to die,
Every one is to die in turn.”

A poet mournfully said:

“Because of the leadership of Umar,
The Muslims became a disciplined community,
Apparently it’s impossible that after him,
Any one should carry the burden of the State
As effectively as he did.”

Sa’id bin Zaid, the brother-in-law of Umar, wept grievously. He was asked why he was weeping so profusely. He said:

“I am not weeping for Umar. I am weeping for Islam in which cracks will appear after his death.”

Seeing the face of Umar, Ali said:

“Salutations of God to thee,
Verily, there is no man
Other than this shrouded one,
Whose deeds I envy.”

‘Usman seeing the face of Umar said:

“Out of us, who can equal Umar?”Judicial Administration

Umar took particular pains to provide effective and speedy justice for the people. He set up an effective  system of judicial administration, “hereunder justice was administered according to the principles of Islam.

Qadis were appointed at all administrative levels for the administration of justice. Umar was the first ruler  in history to separate judiciary from the executive. The Qadis were chosen for their integrity and learning  in Islamic law. High salaries were fixed for the Qadis so that there was no temptation to bribery. Wealthy  men and men of high social status were appointed as Qadis so that they might not have the temptation  to take bribes, or be influenced by the social position of any body. The Qadis were not allowed to engage  in trade. Judges were appointed in sufficient number, and there was no district which did not have a Qadi.

Umar issued ‘Farmans’ from time to time laying down the principles for the administration of justice. In one  of the Farmans issued to Judicial Officers, Umar laid down the following principles:

“Praise to God.

Verily justice is an important obligation to God and man. You have been charged with this responsibility.  Discharge the responsibility so that you may win the approbation of God and the goodwill of the people.

Treat the people equally in your presence, in your company, and in your decisions, so that the weak  despair not of justice, and the high-placed have no hope of your favor.

The onus of proof lies on the plaintiff. He who denies must do so on oath. Compromise is permissible,  provided it does not turn the unlawful into lawful, and the lawful into unlawful. Let nothing prevent you  from changing your previous decision if after consideration you feel that the previous decision was  incorrect.

When you are in doubt on a question and find nothing about it in the Quran or in the Sunnah of the  Prophet, think over the question over and over again. Ponder over the precedents and analogous cases,  and then decide by analogy.

A term should be fixed for the person who wants to produce witnesses. If he proves his case, get him his  right. Otherwise, the suit should be dismissed.

All Muslims are reliable, except those who have been punished with flogging, or who have borne false  witness or are doubtful in integrity.”

History has preserved the names of some of the eminent persons who held judicial office during the  caliphate of Umar.

Zaid bin Thabit was appointed by Umar as the Qadi of Madina. He was well versed is Syriac and Hebrew,  and was an expert in civil law.

Ka’b-b. Sur al-Azdi was the Qadi of Basra. He was a man of keen insight and wide learning. Many of the  dicta laid down by him became classical and were reported by Imam Ibn Sirin.

Ibada b. al-Samat was the Qadi of Palestine. He was one of the five men who had memorized the Holy  Quran in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. Umar held him in great esteem.

Abdullah b Masud was the Qadi of Kufa. He was a man of great scholarship and judicial acumen. He is  considered the Father of the Hanafi law.

Qadi Shuraih succeeded Abdullah b Masud as the Qadi of Kufa. He was well known throughout the  country for his intelligence and keen sense of judgment. He was regarded as a model Judge. Ali used to  call him ‘Aqd-ul-Arab’-i.e. the most judicious of all the Judges of Arabia.

About Qadi Shuraih’s appointment as a Judge there is a story on record. It is related that Umar purchased  a horse on approval, and gave it to somebody to try it. The horse got hurt in the ride, and Umar wanted  to return it, but the owner refused to take it back. In the dispute that arose as a consequence, Shuraih  was chosen as the arbitrator. He gave the verdict that if the horse was ridden with the permission of the  owner it could be returned; otherwise not. Umar said that that was the right decision and at once  appointed Shuraih as the Qadi of Kufa.

Public Treasury and Coins

In the time of the Holy Prophet there was no public treasury. Whatever revenues or other amounts were  received were distributed immediately. There were no salaries to be paid, and there was no state  expenditure. Hence the need for the treasury at public level was not felt.

In the time of Abu Bakr as well there was not treasury. Abu Bakr earmarked a house where all money  was kept on receipt. As all money was distributed immediately the treasury generally remained locked up.  At the time of the death of Abu Bakr there was only one dirham in the public treasury.

In the time of Umar things changed. With the extension in conquests money came in larger quantities,  Umar also allowed salaries to men fighting in the army. In A.D., Abu Huraira who was the Governor of  Bahrain sent a revenue of five lakh dirhams. Umar summoned a meeting of his Consultative Assembly and  sought the opinion of the Companions about the disposal of the money. Most of the Companions advised  immediate distribution of the money. Usman advised that the amount should be kept for future needs.  Walid bin Hisham suggested that like the Byzantines separate departments of Treasury and Accounts  should be set up.

After consulting the Companions Umar decided to establish the Central Treasury at Madina. Abdullah bin  Arqam was appointed as the Treasury Officer. He was assisted by Abdur Rahman and Muiqib. A separate  Accounts Department was also set up and it was required to maintain record of all that was spent.

Later provincial treasuries were set up in the provinces. After meeting the local expenditure the provincial  treasuries were required to remit the surplus amount to the central treasury at Madina. According to  Yaqubi the salaries and stipends charged to the central treasury amounted to over three crore dirhams.

In most of the histories of the Muslim period it is stated that among the Muslim rulers, the Umayyad Caliph  Abdul Malik bin Marwan was the first to strike coins. Further historical research has established that Umar  has the distinction of being the first Muslim ruler to strike Islamic coins.

It is stated in Maqrizi’s Kitab-ul-Nuqad ul-Islamia and Mawardi’s Al-Ahkam us-Sultaniyah that Islamic coins  were first struck by Umar. Umar struck the coins of dirhams. The coins of Umar resembled the coins of  Anusherwan. These, however, bore the legends “Praise to Allah”; “Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah”;  and “There is no god but Allah”.

According to Mawardi when Persia was conquered three types of coins were current in the conquered  territories, namely Baghli of 8 dang; Tabari of 4 dang; and Maghribi of 3 dang. Umar made an innovation  and struck an Islamic dirham of 6 dang.

Public Words

Umar stood for simplicity and austerity. Consequently he did not believe in any large scale program of  public works involving extravagance. Nevertheless as a consequence of the extension of the Muslim rule  to distant lands, the undertaking of works of public utility became imperative.

As Muslim conquests extended east and west, and more people embraced Islam, it became necessary to  construct mosques. The mosques were not mere places for offering prayers; these were community  centers as well where the faithful gathered to discuss problems of social and cultural importance. During  the caliphate of Umar as many as four thousand mosques were constructed extending from Persia in the  east to Egypt in the west Umar enlarged and improved the Prophet’s mosque in Madina. He also paved  the Holy Kaaba.

During the caliphate of Umar many new cities were founded. These included Kufa, Basra, and Fustat.  These cities were laid in according with the principles of town planning. All streets in these cities led to the  Friday mosque which was sited in the central chauk. Markets were established at convenient points. The  cities were divided into quarters, and each quarter was reserved for particular tribes. In the construction  of houses, strict instructions were laid down prohibiting the construction of palatial buildings. The houses  were to be single storeyed, not exceeding specified dimensions. These instructions were vigorously  enforced, and if any body constructed a double storey in violation of these instructions, such double  storeys were invariably demolished. The houses did not reflect the opulence or poverty of the owners.  These were symbolic of the egalitarian society of Islam, where under all were equal.

Many buildings were built for administrative purposes. In the quarters called “Dar-ul-Amarat” Government  offices and houses for the residence of officers were provided. Buildings known as ‘Diwans’ were  constructed for the keeping of official records. Buildings known as Bait-ul-Mal, were constructed to house  public treasuries. For the lodging of persons suffering sentences as punishment, prison houses were  constructed for the first time in Muslim history. In important cities Guest Houses were constructed to serve  as rest houses. Roads and bridges were constructed for public use. On the road from Madina to Mecca,  shelters, wells, and meal houses were constructed at every stage.

Military cantonments were constructed at strategic points. Special stables were provided for cavalry.  These stables could accommodate as many as 4,000 horses. Special pasture grounds were provided and  maintained for Bait-ul-Mal animals.

Canals were dug to irrigate fields as well as provide drinking water for the people. Abu Musa Canal was a  nine mile long, canal which brought water from the Tigris to Basra. Another canal known as Maqal canal  was also dug from the Tigris. A canal known as the Amirul Mumnin canal was dug to join the Nile to the  Red Sea. During the famine of 639 A.D. food grains were brought from Egypt to Madina through this canal  and the sea. Saad canal dug from the Euphrates brought water to Anbar. Amr bin Al Aas the Governor of  Egypt even proposed the digging of a canal to join the Mediterranean to Red Sea. The proposal, however,  did not materialize, and it was 1200 years later that such a canal was dug in the shape of the Suez  Canal

Hadith and Fiqh
Umar and Hadith

During his lifetime the Holy Prophet pronounced on various matters. When any one met with a problem he  went to the Holy Prophet for his verdict. Such decisions remained know to the persons concerned and  were not publicized. As such the decisions of the Holy Prophet remained wide spread. The traditions were  not compiled in any compendium and as such the sources remained scattered. In view of the diffusion of  resources there grew the risk that some traditions reported might be spurious or colored with the views  or prejudices of the narrator.

Umar was the first to realize the necessity of the proper sifting of the traditions. Umar accordingly  founded the science of Hadith. The practice with Umar was that if any new problem cropped up, Umar  announced in the public assembly the point at issue, and inquired if any of them remembered any  tradition of the Holy Prophet on the subject. Those who narrated any tradition were required to produce  some witnesses in support of the tradition. If such statement was duly corroborated and was in  accordance with the spirit of the Holy Quran as well as common sense it was adopted and applied to the  facts of the case in hand. In this way a rich corpus of Hadith was built up. These were recorded and  copies were supplied to all provinces for guidance. Umar deputed experts in Hadith to various provinces  to educate the provincial officers in Hadith.

Umar classified the traditions in two broad categories. One category of traditions pertained to religious,  moral and social affairs pertaining to the community at large. These matters emanated from the prophetic  mission of the Holy Prophet. The other traditions revolved round the person of the Holy Prophet and  pertained to his words and deeds as a human being. Umar distinguished between these two categories  and took care to ensure that these two categories did not get mixed up. All matters falling in the first  category were binding and had the status of law. The matters falling in the second category remained as  ideals to be followed, but these did not have the status of law. Umar took particular care to disseminate  all traditions falling in the second category. The traditions in the second category were sparingly reported  or publicized.

Umar was alive to the danger that whatever was ascribed to the Holy Prophet, right or wrong would  obtain currency and venerable acceptance. Umar evolved principles on the basis of which the traditions  were to be accepted. The basic principles were:

(1) The report should be literally faithful;

(2) Every Hadith narrated should carry with it the name of the narrator and the chain of narrators;

(3) The narrators must be men of proven faith and integrity;

(4) In judging the veracity of a report the occasion and circumstances involved should be taken into  consideration;

(5) The report should not be repugnant to the Holy Quran;

(6) The report should be rational.

There was some dispute about the number of takbirs to be said in funeral prayers. Sufficient evidence  was adduced to the effect that the Holy Prophet offered four takbirs. It was accordingly laid down by  Umar that in funeral prayers four takbirs should be said. The matters regarding bath for sexual impurity,  Jizyah to be levied on Magians and other allied matters were decided in the light of authentic traditions of  the Holy Prophet.

It is related that Abu Musa Ash’ari the Governor of Basra once came to see Umar and by way of  permission said “Assalamulaikam”. Umar was busy and did not pay attention to Abu Musa. Abu Musa  repeated the greetings thrice and then went away. Umar had him recalled and enquired why he had gone  away. Abu Musa said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say, “Ask permission thrice, and if you do not  get permission go away”. Umar asked for corroborative evidence in support of the tradition. Abu Musa  produced the evidence and the tradition was accepted as a guide.

In the time of Umar a question arose whether a , woman who had been divorced but the divorce had not  become I effective could remain in the house of her husband. A lady Fatima bint Qais stated before Umar  that she had it on the authority of the Holy Prophet that such woman could no longer lodge with her  husband. The Holy Quran clearly provided that such woman could lodge with her husband till the divorce  became effective. Umar accordingly ruled: “We cannot abandon the Book of Allah on the word of a  woman, for we do not know whether she remembers the tradition correctly or has forgotten it.”

Lest the people should make mistakes in reporting Hadith direct from the Holy Prophet, Umar forbade the  Companions to report direct from the Holy Prophet. Umar also enjoined that Hadith should not be mixed  with the Quran. Lest there might be mistake in reporting. Umar enjoined, “Report sparingly from the Holy  Prophet”. When Umar was asked to quote traditions he would usually say “Had I not feared that I might  make a mistake in reporting Hadith I would have quoted one.” Umar emphasized that extra care should  be taken to ensure that there was no mistake in reporting. The checks and restraints imposed by Umar  on the reporting of traditions and the high standard of accuracy required by him paid dividends and all the  traditions that were accepted and publicized were free from flaw.

Traditions On Religious Matters

Umar was very close to the Holy Prophet. He was very careful and cautious in reporting traditions. Over  five hundred traditions are on record which are said to have been reported exclusively on the authority of  Umar.

Some of the traditions on religious matters reported by Umar are noticed hereunder. The account is based  on ‘Sahih Bukhari’.

Umar said that he heard the Holy Prophet say:

“God created Adam, then passed His right hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring  saying ‘I have created these for paradise and they will do the deeds of those who go to paradise’. He  then passed his hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring saying ‘I have created these for  hell and they will do the deeds of those who go to hell’.” A man asked what was the good of doing  anything. The Holy Prophet replied:

“When God creates a man for paradise He employs him in doing the deeds of those who will go to  paradise, so that his final action before death is one of the deeds of those who go to paradise, for which  He will bring him into paradise. But when He creates a man for hell He employs him in doing the deeds of  those who will go to hell, so that his final actions before death are the deeds of those who go to hell, for  which He will bring him into hell.”

Umar stated that on the day of Khaibar some of the companions of the Holy Prophet stated that so and  so were martyrs, but when they came to a man about whom they said “So and so is a martyr”, the Holy  Prophet declared “By no means. I have seen him in hell in a cloak which he took dishonestly.”

The Holy Prophet asked Umar: “Go, Ibn al-Khattab and announce among the people three times that only  the believers will enter paradise.”

In compliance with these instructions, Umar went out and announced three times “Only the believers will  enter paradise.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Do not sit with those who believe in freewill and do not address them before they address you.”

The Holy Prophet, according to Umar said:

“If any one performs the ablution completely, then says ‘I testify that there is no god but God, and that  Muhammad is His servant and messenger’, the eight gates of paradise will be opened for him, and he may  enter by whichsoever of them he wishes.”

Umar said, “The Prophet saw me standing and passing water and said Umar do not pass water standing’  and I never did it again.”

The Holy Prophet said, “Do not wash in water which has been exposed to the sun for it produces  leprosy.”

The Holy Prophet said:

“If four persons give a good testimony about any Muslim, God will cause him to enter paradise.”

The Holy Prophet was asked whether this would apply if three testified and he said it would they further  asked if it applied if two testified and he said it would but they did not ask him about one.

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Should any one fall asleep and fail to recite his portion of the Quran or a part of it, if he recites it  between the dawn and the noon prayer, it will be recorded of him as though he had recited it during the  night.”

Umar said:

“I heard Hisham b Hakim b Hizam reciting Sura al Furqan in a different way from my way of reciting it the  way that God’s Messenger had taught me. I nearly spoke sharply to him, but I delayed till he had finished,  and then catching his cloak at the neck I brought him to God’s Messenger and said: ‘Messenger of God, I  heard this man reciting Sura al Furqan in a manner different from that in which you taught me to recite it’.  The Holy Prophet told me to leave him, and then turning to him asked him to recite. When he recited it in  the manner in which I had heard him recite it, God’s Messenger said, ‘Thus was it sent down’. He then  asked me to recite it, and when I had done so, he said ‘Thus was it sent down’. I was surprised and the  Holy Prophet said, ‘The Quran was sent down in seven modes of reading, so recite according to what  comes most easily.”

About the Holy Quran, Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“By this Book, God exalts some people, and lowers others.” Umar said that God’s Messenger used to seek  refuge in God from five things, namely:

(1) Cowardliness;

(2) Niggardliness;

(3) Evils of old age;

(4) Evil thoughts; and

(5) Punishment of the grave.

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Among God’s servants there are people who are neither prophets nor martyrs but whose position in  relation to God will be an object of desire by the prophets and martyrs on the day of resurrection.”

The people wanted to know who were such people and the Holy Prophet said:

“They are people who have loved one another by reason of God’s spirit, and were giving gifts to one  another without being related or having common property. I swear that their faces will be light, and they  will be placed upon light, neither fearing when men fear, nor grieving when men grieve.”

Umar said that the Holy Prophet sent to Najd an expedition which took much booty and came back  quickly.

A man who had not gone out said, “We have never seen an expedition return more quickly or bring finer  booty than this one”.

Thereupon the Holy Prophet said:

“Shall I not indicate to you people who have most excellent booty and a most excellent return? They are  people who have been present at the morning prayer, then sat mentioning of God till the sun rose. They  have the quickest return and the most excellent booty.”

Umar stated that he heard God’s Messenger say:

“Four rakaat before the noon prayer after the sun has passed the meridian are reckoned equivalent to a  similar number at the dawn prayer. There is nothing which does not glorify God at that hour.”

Umar said that then the Holy Prophet recited:

“Their shadows turn round from the right and the left prostrating themselves to God.”

Umar said that he asked the Holy Prophet about the injunction:

“You may shorten your prayer if you fear those who are infidels may afflict you.”

About this the Holy Prophet elaborated:

“It is an act of charity which God has done to you, so accept His charity.”

About the call to prayer, Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“When the Muezzin says ‘God is most great, God is most great’, and you make the response ‘God is most  great, God is most great’, then says ‘I testify that there is no god but God’, then says ‘I testify that  Muhammad is God’s Messenger’, and you make the response ‘I testify that Muhammad is God’s  Messenger’, then says ‘Come to prayer’, and you make the response ‘There is no might and no power  except in God’, then says ‘Come to salvation’, and he makes the response ‘God is most great; God is most  great’, then says There is no god but God’, and if you say this from heart, you will go to paradise.”

Traditions Of Ethical Importance

Some traditions of the Holy Prophet of ethical importance have been reported by Umar.

Umar reported that the Holy Prophet said:

“Deeds are to be judged only by intentions, and a man will have only what he intended. When one’s  emigration is to God and His Messenger his emigration is to God and His Messenger, but when his  emigration is to a worldly end at which he aims or to a woman whom he marries his emigration is to that  to which he has emigrated”.

Umar reported God’s Messenger as saying:

“If any one says, on seeing some one who is suffering affliction ‘Praise be to God Who has kept me free  from the affliction He has brought on him and has shown me favor above many whom He has created,  that affliction, whatever it may be, will not smite him.”

Umar said that he had heard the Holy Prophet say: “An oath or a vow to disobey the Lord or to break ties  of relationship or about something over which one has no control is not binding on you.”

Umar stated that he heard the Holy Prophet say “Give the road its due”. He was asked what was the  road’s due. The Holy Prophet replied:

Lowering the eyes.

Removing anything offensive.

Returning salutations.

Recommending what is reputable.

Forbidding what is disreputable.

Helping the sorrowful.

Guiding people on their way.

Umar reported that the Holy Prophet taught him to say:

“O God make my inner nature better than my outer, and make my outer nature good. O God I ask Thee to  give me some of the abundance Thou givest to men, in family, property and children, which neither strays  nor leads astray. ”

Umar stated that he heard the Holy Prophet say:

“He who is humble for God’s sake will be exalted by God, for though he considers himself lowly he is great  in the eyes of men; but he who is proud will be abased by God for though he considers himself great he is  lowly in the eyes of men to such an extent that he is of less value in their estimation than a dog or a pig.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“In the last days my people will be afflicted with distresses from their rulers from which no one will escape  but a man who knows God’s religion and strives on its behalf with his tongue, his hand and his heart, that  being the one who will have surpassing felicity in Heaven; a man who knows God’s religion and believes  in it; and a man who knows God’s religion but keeps quiet about it, who if he sees some one doing good  loves him for it; that one will escape for all that he kept concealed in his heart.”

Umar stated that once he went to see the Holy Prophet and found him lying on a reed mat without any  cover. The marks of the mat were on the body of the Holy Prophet. The room was bare and there was no  sign of any comfort.

Umar said to the Holy Prophet:

“O Messenger of God supplicate God to enrich your people for He has enriched the Persians and the  Byzantines, and yet they worship him not.”

The Holy Prophet replied, “Is that how you feel, Ibn-ul-Khattab? These people have been given their good  things in advance in the present world. Are you not pleased that they should have the present world, and  we should have the next?”

Umar said that he went one day to the Prophet’s mosque, and in the way found Mu’adh b Jabal sitting on  the Prophet’s grave weeping. Umar asked him what was making him weep and he replied that it was  something which he had heard from God’s Messenger. He had heard him say, “A little hypocrisy is  polytheism, and any one who is hostile to a friend of God has gone forth to fight with God. God loves the  upright, pious and retiring ones who are not missed when they are absent, and are not given invitations  or treated with honor when they are present. Their hearts are the lamps of guidance and they come  forth from every dusty and dark place.”

Umar and Fiqh

Umar was the founder of Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence. Over one thousand juristic pronouncements of  Umar are on record. All the four schools of law in Islamic jurisprudence follow the law laid down by Umar.  The pronouncements of Umar are cited in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaiba. These are also found in Shah  Wali Ullah’s book Faraq’s Fiqh.

Umar not only declared the law; he also established principles of inference and construction and  formulated rules therefore. He distinguished between the acts of the Holy Prophet performed in pursuance  of his prophetic mission and the acts that he performed as an ordinary man. All that the Holy Prophet did  in the first capacity was held by Umar to be binding and a basic source of law. In matters falling in the  second category room remained for devising new laws to suit the changing conditions and circumstances.

Umar also laid down the principle of Qiyas or logical deduction. According to this principle when the Quran  and the Hadith did not mention the details of law on any point, such law could be arrived at by logical  deduction. In his instructions to his judicial officers Umar said:

“When you do not find a judgment on an issue in the Quran or Hadith and you are in doubt about it,  ponder over the question and ponder again. Then look for dicta on like and similar issues, and decide  accordingly.”

In addition to these fundamental principles Umar enunciated numerous rules about inference and  generalization of laws which form the basis of Islamic jurisprudence,

When some one asked Umar’s verdict on a mere academic question which had not actually arisen, Umar  forbade people raising hypothetical propositions.

Umar held that one should not urinate standing.

Umar was asked whether one could perform the ablution with sea water. Umar answered the question in  the affirmative.

Umar was asked whether one could perform ablution with water taken from a non-Muslim. Umar found no  objection to such ablution.

Umar was asked whether one who has had sexual intercourse could perform Tayammum and offer  prayers. Umar said that for him bath was essential.

Umar was very strict about the offering of prayers. He issued instructions to the provincial Governors that  their foremost duty was the offering of prayer.

Umar was asked as to the time for the morning prayer. He said “In the shadow of the twinkling stars”.

Umar held that the prayer of Zuhr should be delayed as far as possible and the prayer of Isha should be  offered as early as possible.

Umar was asked: if the meals are ready and it is also the time for prayers, which should be given priority.  Umar said “first take your meals”.

When Umar saw a person offering prayer by the roadside he was advised to pray in the mosque.

Umar forbade the people to talk loudly in the mosque.

Umar enjoined that one should not come to the mosque having eaten some thing which produces a bitter  smell.

Umar was very particular that when offering prayers in congregation the lines should be straight.

Umar held that journey on a Friday was not forbidden.

Umar enjoined that around a person on death bed one should recite the article of faith.

When one of the wives of Umar died Umar led the funeral prayers himself.

Umar held that in one’s shroud three sheets were enough.

Umar ruled that on the occasion of a funeral prayers four Takbirs should be offered.

Umar held that in a garden those trees the fruit whereof was reserved for distribution among the poor  were exempt from Zakat.

Umar held that if any thing was given as Sadaqa it could not be repurchased whatever the price or  consideration.

Umar held that when a man was under debt, he should offer Zakat on the value of his property after  deducting the amount of the debt.

Umar held that one should not fast unless he had seen the moon of Ramazan and he should not fast  after he had seen the Eid moon.

Umar advised the people to keep a fast on the tenth of the Muharram.

Umar insisted that in the month of Hajj priority should be given to the Hajj and not to Umra.

Umar prohibited the sale of wine.

Umar held that one should not purchase anything already mortgaged with him.

Umar held that if one passed through a garden he could pick up fruit that had fallen on the ground.

Umar forbade Mutah.

Umar held that where three talaqs were announced simultaneously such divorce would be irrevocable.

Umar held that a slave woman who bore children to her master stood emancipated.

Umar held that justice should not be delayed.

Umar enjoined his officers to dispatch the State business expeditiously.

Umar held that in the court the Judge should not be praised.

All acts should be judged according to the test of public interest.

Any act which did not harm any one and was otherwise not forbidden under law was permissible.

In the famous Fidak case Umar held that the property which vested in the Holy Prophet vested after him  in the State and not in his heirs.

Matters About Fiqh

Umar said:

“I provided a man with a horse to ride on God’s path, but as he who had it did not look after it well, I  wanted to buy it, and I thought he would sell it at a cheap price. I therefore asked the Prophet, but he  said ‘Do not buy it, and do not take back what you gave as Sadaqa even if he gives it to you for a Dirham,  for the one who takes back what he gave as Sadaqa is like a dog which returns to its vomit.”

Umar said:

“Once, captives came to the Holy Prophet among whom was a woman whose breast was oozing with  milk. She was running and when she found a child among the captives she took him, put him to her breast  and suckled him. Then the Prophet said to us ‘Do you think this woman will cast her child into the fire?’ We  replied ‘Not so long as she is in a position not to do so’. He said ‘God is more merciful to His servants than  this woman to her child.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“Gold for gold is usury unless both hand over on the spot; silver for silver is usury unless both hand over  on the spot; wheat for wheat is usury unless both hand over on the spot; barley for barley is usury  unless both hand over on the spot; dates for dates is usury unless both hand over on the spot.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“He who brings goods for sale is blessed with good fortune, but he who keeps them till the price rises is  accursed.”

Umar also reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

“If any one keeps grain from the Muslims waiting for the, price to rise, God will smite him with tubercular  leprosy and insolvency.”

Umar said:

“God sent Muhammad with the truth and sent down the Book to him, and the verse of stoning was  included in what God Most High sent down. God’s Messenger had people stoned to death and we have  done it also since his death. Stoning is a duty laid down in God’s Book for married men and women who  commit fornication when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy, or a confession.”

Umar said that a man called Abdullah whose nome-de-plume was ‘ass’ used to make the Prophet laugh.  The Prophet had beaten him because of wine drinking, but when he was brought to him one day and he  gave orders and had him beaten, and then one of those present said, “O God curse him; how often he is  brought’, the Prophet said, “Do not curse him. I swear by God that for all I know he loves God and His  Messenger.”

Umar reported the Holy Prophet as saying:

When you find that a man has been unfaithful with regard to spoils in God’s way, burn his goods and beat  him.”

Umar stated that the Holy Prophet reserved three things exclusively to himself namely: the Banu an  Nadir; Khaibar; and Fidak. The Banu an-Nadhir property was kept wholly for his own purposes. Fidak was  kept for travelers. Khaibar was divided into three sections, two for the Muslims and one for the  maintenance of his family. If anything remained after meeting the needs of his family, that was divided  among the poor Muhajreen.

Friends Who Could Straighten Him

True to the title ‘Al-Farooq’, Umar was an embodiment of truth. He did not hesitate to speak the truth, in  the best interests of the Muslim State. Such truth was sometimes bitter, and the people held him in awe.

Some people understood him, and appreciated his sterling qualities of courage, conviction, and  truthfulness. Some people misjudged him and felt that he was unduly hard and harsh with the people.

Umar knew that he was more feared than loved. Under a stern exterior, Umar had a heart full of the milk  of human kindness. Whenever Umar came across a person who was in distress or was in any way  oppressed, Umar was all sympathy for him, and he did all he could to alleviate his distress.

Umar did often reflect and ponder over the responsibilities that had come to vest in him and the way he  discharged them. He did not feel very happy with the equation between himself and the people. He  regretted that the people did not understand him properly.

Hudhaifa a prominent companion has left on record that one day he went to see Umar and found that he  was feeling much perturbed. Seeing the disturbed state of the mind of Umar, Hudhaifa enquired as to  what was the matter.

Umar said:

“I was feeling unhappy that the people have awe of me. They generally avoid me, and hesitate to bring  my shortcomings to my notice. I was just thinking as to what, would happen if I were to fall in erroneous  ways, and because of the awe that the people have of me, no one comes forward to restrain me.”

Thereupon Hudhaifa said:

“Your awe is because of the truth at your command. If you deviate from the path of truth, the people will  not be afraid to call you to account. Verily if I see that you are in the wrong, I will fix you up, and  straighten you.”

At this Umar felt very happy. He said:

“Thank God, there are friends who will straighten me when I err. If I have such friends around me, I need  have no fear of falling into error.”

The Man Who Came To Murder Became A Convent

By 638 A.D., the whole of Syria was under the occupation of the Muslims. Heraclius the Byzantine emperor  had left Syria and withdrawn his forces. His parting words were:

“Farewell Syria, never again will I come to this beautiful land. What a fine country I am leaving for the  enemy.”

Some of the Christian Arabs felt grieved at the discomfiture of the Christians at the hands of the Muslims.  In a spirit of fanaticism they vowed vengeance against the Muslims. Having failed to defeat the Muslims  on the battlefield they decided to resort to underhand means and murder some high ranking Muslims. A  Ghassanid Arab Wasiq by name undertook to murder Umar the Caliph of Islam.

Wasiq waited on Heraclius at Constantinople, and volunteered to rid the Byzantine emperor of his  enemies. The scheme appealed to Heraclius. He paid Wasiq a huge sum and promised to pay much more  when he succeeded in his mission. Thus patronized, Wasiq decided to proceed to Madina.

Arab as he was, Wasiq found no difficulty in coming over to Madina in cognito. He posed himself as a  Muslim coming from the interior of the desert to pay a visit to Madina. Wasiq carried a poisoned dagger  carefully hidden in the folds of his cloak. Having reached Madina, he was on the look out for a suitable  opportunity when he could come face to face with the Caliph of Islam, and kill him with his dagger in an  unguarded moment.

He had thought that the ruler of the Muslim state would be surrounded by heavy body-guards at all times  and it would be difficult to reach him. He was surprised to learn in Madina that there were no body-guards  around the Caliph of Islam. Wasiq felt happy that unguarded as the Caliph was, he could easily get an  opportunity to fulfill his mission.

Wasiq waited for a suitable opportunity. One day at noon Wasiq found Umar sleeping under a tree, all  alone and without any guard. There was no body near at hand. Wasiq thought that this was a golden  opportunity for him and he could dispatch the Caliph of Islam without any difficulty.

Cautiously with measured steps and hushed breath Wasiq stepped upto Umar and took his sword. He  was about to plunge his sword in the body of Umar when his eyes fell on the face of Umar. The sight of  the unadorned majesty of the pious Caliph sent a shudder through the body of Wasiq, and the sword  dropped from his trembling hands. With the noise of the dropping of the sword, Umar opened his eyes.  He was quick to take hold of the fallen sword and then rising up faced his would be assassin.

Wasiq fell at the feet of the Caliph, implored his forgiveness and embraced Islam.

Criticism Against Umar

One day in a Friday address Umar said that he had tried to serve Islam and the Muslims to the best of his  capacity. He added that being a human being he was apt to make mistakes. He requested the faithful to  point out his mistakes if any, so that he may correct himself.

After the prayers Umman bin Sawad stepped upto Umar and said that he wanted to apprise him of his  mistakes. Umar invited him to come along to his house where they could talk over the matter at leisure.

Umman bin Sawad said that he had no intention of criticizing the Caliph; as a well wisher he merely  wanted to bring some points to his notice. Umar said that such observations and counsels were most  welcome to him.

Umman bin Sawad said that he had four objections and these were:

(1) That Umar had prohibited Umra in the month of Hajj;

(2) That Umar had declared Mut’ah unlawful.

(3) That Umar had emancipated slave girls who bore their masters children.

(4) That Umar was harsh and stern.

Umar enquired whether these were all the objections against him or whether there were any other  objections as well. Umman said that these were the only points of criticism against him.

About the first charge Umar said:

“I have not prohibited Umra. My only instructions are that in the month of Hajj priority should be given to  Hajj over the Umra. Some of the persons were prone to think that when they had performed the Umra  that was enough and that thereafter Hajj need not be performed. Such a course was derogatory to Hajj  and in order to preserve the integrity and sanctity of Hajj. I have merely instructed that in the month of  Hajj, the pilgrims should concentrate on the Hajj. In the other months it is open to them to perform  Umra.”

About the Mutah, Umar said:

“Mutah was an ancient practice with the Arabs. The Holy Prophet did not like the practice though he  tolerated it on some occasions due to special circumstances. Even then on at least two occasions he  prohibited the practice. God has spoken of the sanctity of the marriage ties, and if the marriage is held  sacred on one side and Mutah is allowed on the other that would be inconsistent. If Mutah is allowed that  would be a sort of sanctioned prostitution. That is repugnant to Islam. If any person marries the idea is to  establish a home. If a person marries for a few specified days that is foreign to the establishment of a  home. Mutah is thus repugnant to Islam. If any person wants to dissolve the marriage after a few days it  is open to him to give the divorce in the usual way. I have prohibited Mutah in the interests of the sanctity  and integrity of Muslim homes. That is a social reform. There is no express injunction allowing Mutah and  by disallowing it I have not contravened any provisions of Islamic law.”

As regards the emancipation of slave girls, Umar explained:

“We have already laid down that no Arab can be a slave. If the slave girls were not emancipated there  would have been the anomaly that while the children were free their mother was not free. Moreover for  every marriage there is a dower. In the case of slave girls the dower is that when they become mothers  they would be emancipated. This is a humanitarian reform strictly in accordance with the Spirit of Islam.”

As regards the fourth charge Umar said:

“I am harsh and stern only for the wrong doer, the tyrant and the oppressor. For the weak and the meek  I am never harsh or stern.”

After hearing these explanations Umman bin Sawad said: “Verily Umar you have spoken the truth. You  have done well in whatever you have done. You have acted in the interests of Islam. May God bless you.  No blame rests on you.”

The Eid Moon

Uqba bin Farqad was the Governor of Azarbaijan. It was the month of the Ramadan. When 29 fasts were  over the faithful gathered to sight the Eid moon, but no moon was seen. Uqba bin Farqad accordingly  ordered that the fast should be kept for the thirtieth day of the Ramdan as well.

The next day Uqba kept the fast, and went on tour in the interior of the country. The Governor said the  noon prayers and then retired to rest. When he woke up, he was told that the new moon was visible in  the sky. Uqba went out and he saw that though there were yet a few hours for the sun to set, the moon  was visible in the sky.

On sighting the moon, the Governor summoned the Ulema and sought for their opinion about the  observance of the fast in the Eid. The consensus of opinion was that after the noon had been sighted  the observance of the fast was not lawful. In deference to this opinion Uqba broke the fast before sunset  and other Muslims did likewise.

A difficulty, however, arose about the celebration of the Eid. It was so late in the day that Eid could not be  celebrated hat day. After consulting the Ulema Uqba decided that trough the fast was to be broken, the  Eid was to be celebrated he following day.

As the issue involved an important question of religious aw, Uqba referred the case to Umar for the final  verdict in matters concerning the sighting of the moon in daylight and the celebration of the Eid.

When the case was referred to Umar, he gave the following decision:

“When you see the moon in the earlier part of the day you should break the fast and celebrate the Eid. A  moon appearing in the earlier part of the day is indicative of the fact that it actually appeared on the  horizon the previous night, but for some reason could not be seen. When you see the moon in the later  part of the day keep the fast an celebrate the Eid on the following day. Sometimes the moon is bigger and  it becomes visible before the evening but it is not a moon of the previous day. It is really for the day to  follow. Moon seen in the earlier part of the day belongs to the previous day and the moon seen in the later  part belongs to the following day.”

Umar’s Attitude To Sinners

Some time in 639 A.D. the year of the famine and the plague some Muslims in Syria drank wine. When  called to question, they argued that in the Holy Quran, no definite punishment was prescribed for drinking  and as such they were not liable to any punishment. Abu Ubaida reported the matter to Umar.

In reply, Umar instructed Abu Ubaida to call the delinquents to the mosque and there before the  congregation ask them whether they considered drinking lawful or unlawful. If they considered it lawful  they should be deemed to have apostatized and in that case they should meet the penalty for apostasy  namely death. If they held that drinking was unlawful then they should be inflicted eighty lashes. Umar  explained that although the Holy Quran did not provide the penalty for drinking, it did not forbid the  prescription of such penalty. The State could therefore in public interest prescribe a penalty. The State  had after due deliberation provided a penalty of 80 lashes and this was in no way repugnant to Islam.

When the instructions of Umar were received at Emessa, Abu Ubaida called the delinquents to the  mosque. These included Zarrar bin Azwar and Abu Jandal. There before the congregation Abu Ubaida put  them the question whether they regarded drinking as lawful or unlawful. They held that they regarded it  unlawful. Abu Ubaida then said that if they had done an unlawful thing they exposed themselves to  punishment. They argued that no punishment was due as none had been prescribed by the Quran. Abu  Ubadia explained in the terms of the instructions of Umar that when a person was guilty of an unlawful  act, the State could prescribe a penalty. Abu Ubaida accordingly inflicted on the delinquents the  punishment of eighty stripes.

The delinquents took the punishment to heart. Abu Jandal was particularly very disconsolate. He locked  himself in his house and refused to come out and face the people. Abu Ubaida felt for him and reported  the matter to Umar. Thereupon Umar wrote a conciliatory letter. He wrote:

“It is a fact that when you violate the principle of the unity of God, and create rivals to Allah the sin is too  serious to be forgiven. Allah does not forgive this sin. As regards other sins God in His Mercy and Kindness  forgives such sins when one is repentant. Allah says ‘O my people, if you transgress and then repent do  not despair of the mercy of Allah for He is Forgiving and Merciful.”

In the letter Umar advised Abu Jandal to seek the forgiveness of Allah and come out of his house and  attend to the affairs of the world as usual. To the general public Umar advised in the letter:

“Do not exult over the sins of others. Do not ridicule them. If they are repentant help them in the process  of repentance so that Allah may forgive them.”

When the letter of Umar was received, Abu Ubaida called Abu Jandal and other delinquents to the  mosque and there read the letter of Umar before the gathering. The letter had the necessary solacing  effect. The delinquents repented and then applied for being sent to some expedition on Jihad. Abu Ubaida  sent them to fight and they fought with a sense of dedication.

Umar’s Wife Acts As A Midwife

It was the usual practice of Umar that he would patrol the streets and suburbs of Madina to watch the  interests of the people, and attend to their needs.

One day Umar noticed a tent pitched in an open space outside Madina. A person was sitting outside the  tent, and some one inside the tent was groaning.

Umar went to the man, greeted him, and wanted to know who he was.

The man said that he was a man of the desert, and had come to Madina to wait on the Commander of the  Faithful and seek his assistance.

Umar next asked who was groaning inside the tent. The man said that inside the tent his wife was  groaning with labor pains. He said that he was a stranger in Madina and did not know what to do. Umar  enquired whether he had any woman to look after the confinement of his wife. He said that there was  none.

Umar said, “Do not worry. I will make the necessary arrangements.”

Umar came home, and asked his wife Umm Kulsum to accompany him on a mission of service. Umm Kulsum  got ready and took with her such things as might be needed for the purposes of confinement. Umar took  with him some provisions for the purposes of cooking a meal.

Umar returned to the camp with his wife. Umm Kulsum went inside the tent to attend to the woman in  pain, while Umar sat outside the tent with the Bedouin and began cooking some meals for him.

After an hour or so when the meals had been cooked, Umm Kulsum from inside the tent addressed Umar:  Amirul Mominin! Congratulate your guest on the birth of a son.”

Hearing this the Bedouin felt much embarrassed. Turning to Umar he said, “Amirul Mominin, why did you  not reveal your identity? You have overwhelmed me with your benevolence.”

Umar put all his fears to rest saying: “That’s all right. There is nothing to worry about. Thank God I have  been of some service to you at the time of your need. You may come to me tomorrow and I will see what  can be done further to help you”.

It was late at night when Umar and Umm Kulsum left. The Bedouin thanked God and said: “God be  praised. I came to seek the Commander of the Faithful, and God sent the Commander of the Faithful to  seek me.”

Umar Marries A Milkmaid To his Son

One night, Umar as usual went in disguise with his comrade Ibn Abbas to see the condition of the people.  They strolled from one quarter to another. At last they came to a colony where very poor people lived.

While passing by a small hutment, the Caliph heard a whispering talk within. The mother was telling her  daughter that the amount fetched by her that day on account of the sale of milk was very little. She told  her that when she was young, and used to sell milk, she always mixed water with milk, and that led to  considerable profit. She advised her daughter to do the same.

The girl said, “You adulterated milk, when you were not a Muslim. Now that we are Muslims, we cannot  adulterate milk.”

The mother said that Islam did not stand in the way of he adulteration of milk.

The daughter said, “Have you forgotten the Caliph’s order? He wants that the milk should not be  adulterated.”

The mother said, “But the Caliph has forgotten us. Were so poor, what else should we do but adulterate  milk in order to win bread?”

The daughter said “Such a bread would not be lawful, and as a Muslim I would not do anything which is  against he orders of the Caliph, and whereby other Muslims are deceived.”

The mother said, “But there is neither the Caliph nor any of his officers here to see what we do. Daughter  you are still a child. Go to bed now and tomorrow I will myself mix the milk with water for you.”

The girl refused to fall in with the plan of her mother. She said, “Caliph may or may not be here, but his  order is order, and it must be obeyed. My conscience is My Caliph. You may escape the notice of the  Caliph and his officers, but how can we escape the notice of Allah and our own conscience?”

Thereupon the mother remained quiet. The lamp was extinguished and the mother and the daughter  went to sleep.

The next day, Umar sent a man to purchase milk from the girl. The milk was unadulterated. The girl had  kept her resolve.

Umar turned to his companion and said, “The girl has kept her resolve in spite of the exhortation of her  mother. She deserves a reward. What reward should I give her?”

“She should be paid some money” said Ibn Abbas.

Umar said, ‘Such a girl would become a great mother Her integrity is not to be weighed with a few coins;  it is to be measured in the scale of national values. I shall offer her the highest award in my gift, and  which shall also be in the highest interest of the nation.”

The Caliph summoned the daughter and the mother to his court. The mother trembled as she stood  before the mighty ruler. But the girl faced the Caliph boldly and with great equanimity. She was beautiful,  and there was an impressive dignity about her.

Then before the gathering, Umar related how he had overheard the mother and the daughter, and how in  spite of the exhortations of the mother the daughter had kept he resolve.

Someone suggested that the mother should be taken the task. The Caliph said that ordinarily he would  have punished the mother, but he had forgiven her for the sake of he daughter. Turning to the girl the  great Caliph said, “Islam needs daughters like you, and as a Caliph of Islam it devolve on me to reward  you by owning you as a daughter”.

The Caliph called his sons, and addressing them said “Here is a gem of a girl who would make a great  mother. I desire that one of you should take this girl as wife. I know of no better bride than this girl of  sterling character. In matters of wedlock, it should be the character, and not the stature in life that should  count.”

Abdullah and Abdur Rahman the elder sons of the Caliph were already married. Asim the third son was  yet unmarried, and he offered to marry the girl. Thereupon with the consent of the milkmaid and her  mother Asim was married to the girl, and the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Caliph.

From this union was born a daughter Umm Asim, who became in due course the mother of Umar bin Abdul  Aziz. Umar bin Abdul Aziz became a Caliph in due course.

While other Caliphs of the Ummayad dynasty reveled in luxury, Umar bin Abdul Aziz as a Caliph set up  standards for austerity and simplicity following in the footsteps of Umar the second Caliph of Islam. It is  said that if ever there was a noble Caliph after the ‘Rightly guided Caliphs’, such a man was Umar bin  Abdul Aziz. And he inherited the noble qualities of the milkmaid who married the Caliph’s son, and those  of Umar Farooq who had the eye to discern the nobler qualities of sterling character in a poor girl.

Umar Flogs His Son To Death

Abu Shahma was a son of Umar. He fought in the battles in Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt he built a  house for himself in Fustat.

One day in the company of a friend he inadvertently drank wine and became unconscious. The following  day he went with his friend to Amr bin Al Aas, confessed their guilt, and wanted to be punished. Amr bin Al  Aas said that as they had drunk the wine inadvertently, and were feeling repentant, that was enough  and no further punishment was called for.

Abu Shahma did not wish to avail of the benefit of inadvertence. He insisted that he should be punished  according to law, failing which he would bring the matter to the notice of the Caliph. Thereupon Arm bin Al  Aas inflicted the usual punishment of lashes in the compound of his house. Abu Shahma’s head was also  shaved off in the house of the Governor.

The Reporter reported the matter to Umar, and Umar addressed a letter to Amr b. Al Aas in strong terms  as follows:

“O Amr bin Al Aas it has come to my notice that you have been derelict in the performance of your duty.  You have shown undue favor to Abu Shahma by awarding him punishment in your house rather than at  a public place. You were apparently moved by the consideration that he is my son. You should know that  in such matters I cannot tolerate any concession to a person on the ground that he is related to me. As  soon as you get this letter send Abu Shahma to Medina on a naked camel.”

Amr bin Al Aas complied with the instructions and dispatched Abu Shahma to Madina. In the way Abu  Shahma fell sick and when he reached Madina he could hardly walk.

Umar was furious, and he ordered that Abu Shahma should be lashed in the public. Abdul Rahman b. Auf  pleaded that the boy had already been lashed in Egypt and no further punishment was called for Abu  Shahma said that he was suffering, and the punishment should be deferred till he was recovered.

Umar brushed aside these pleadings Abu Shahma was flogged publicly. Abu Shahma could not withstand  the ordeal He fell senseless after a few stripes had been inflicted. He remained in a state of agony for a  few days and then died a martyr to the highly developed sense of justice of his father.

The Woman Who Pined For Her Husband

In the wars that were conducted during the rule of Umar, the soldiers on the front remained absent for  considerable periods. Umar introduced the reform that leave should be granted to every soldier after he  had served on the front for four months. A story is recorded as to how this reform was brought about.

It is related that one night Umar went on his round in Madina as usual. It was the dead of night, and  every where was quiet. From one of the houses in the street, Umar heard a lady lamenting. She said:

“The night is wearisome and keeps me sleepless;

For I have none to keep me company.

I fear Allah, Who keeps watch over our souls,

And would not take another companion,

But who could tell Umar,

That he should not be so cruel,

As to keep my husband away from me,

For such a long period.”

Umar knocked at the door, and when the lady came to the door he said:

“I have heard, what you wanted to be conveyed to Umar.

How long has your husband been away.”

The lady said, “About a year.”

Umar said, “Rest assured your husband would come back to you shortly.”

Umar consulted Hafsa as to the maximum period for which a man might remain separate from his wife.  She suggested a period of four months. Umar accordingly issued orders to the effect that unless a man of  the armed forces could take his wife with him, he should be allowed a spell of leave after every four  months of active service on the front.

Umar And His Whip

It is related that once while riding a camel, the whip of Umar dropped. Many persons who saw the whip  fall rushed to pick up the whip to hand it over to the Caliph. Umar asked them to mind their own business,  and not to bother about his whip. Umar dismounted and picked up his whip himself.

Iqbal has dramatized the episode in his classic poem ‘The Secrets of the Self’. Iqbal exhorts:

“Like Umar, come down from the camel,

Beware of incurring obligations, beware”

From this episode, Iqbal deduces a code of conduct, the highlights whereof are:

“Do not incur the obligation of any person,

Do not debase yourself by receiving benefits.

Self is weakened by asking; asking disintegrates the Self,

By asking, poverty is made more abject.

By begging, the beggar is made poorer,

Even if you are poor and overwhelmed by affliction,

Do not seek your bread by the bounty of another.”

Iqbal further elaborates:

“God loves a man that earns his living;

Woe to him that accepts bounty from another’s table.

The more your hands are empty, the more you are master of yourself.

Seek no favors and walk with your head erect like the pine.

Sweet is a little dew gathered by one’s own hand,

Be a man of honor, and like the bubble

Keep the cup inverted even in the midst of the sea.”

Umar’s Care For The Poor

It was the year of the famine. Umar took pains to ensure that adequate relief reached all people, and  that there were no persons in the city who went to sleep hungry.

One night as usual Umar went on his round. He was accompanied by his slave Aslam. As he strolled from  street to street all was quiet and the people seemed to be asleep. Umar thought to himself, “Thank God,  there is no one in this city whom the famine has afflicted.”

Then as he turned a corner he saw a cottage where light was burning, and from where the sound of the  weeping of the children was heard. Umar went to the cottage. He saw that the lady of the house was  cooking something on the hearth, and the children were crying.

Umar knocked at the gate, and addressing the lady of the house Umar enquired why were the children  crying. She said that they were crying because they were hungry. “And what are you cooking”, asked  Umar. The lady said that in the kettle there was only water and stones. That was to while away the  children that food was being cooked for them. She hoped that exhausted the children would go to sleep.

Hearing this tale of woe, Umar felt guilty. He had thought that because of the arrangements made by him,  no one was afflicted in the city and here was a family which was starving. Umar said to the lady that he  would arrange relief for her family immediately.

Umar went to the Baitul Mal. There he put the necessary provisions in a bag and carried the bag to the  cottage. His slave insisted that he would carry the bag, but Umar said that he would carry his burden  himself. Umar handed over the bag of provisions to the lady. Umar sat by the hearth and helped the lady  cook the meals. When the meals were ready the children were awakened and served with the delicious  meals. As the children ate to their fill and were satisfied they smiled the smile of happiness. Seeing the  destitute children smile Umar also felt happy.

Umar enquired of the lady whether there was none to support. She said that the father of the children  had died, and there was no body to support. Whatever little was in the house had been gradually used  up and they were starving since the last three days.

Umar asked the lady why she had not brought her distress to the notice of the Caliph. The lady said that  in spite of her poverty she had some sense of self-respect and she could not go and beg the Caliph for  any favor. She added that it was incumbent on the Caliph to ascertain that there was no one in his  charge who was starving.

Umar said, “You are right. Please excuse me for the remissness in the past. For the future it will be my  responsibility to see that your wants are satisfied.”

And when the lady realized that the man who had come to her relief was the Caliph himself, she felt  satisfied that the Caliph had discharged his onerous responsibilities creditably.

A Persian Stabbed Umar

After the battle of Nihawand, many Persians, men, women, and children were taken as captives by the  Muslims. The captives were sold as slaves. One of these slaves was Firoz alias Abu Lulu. He was  purchased by Mughirah Shu’bah the Governor of Basra. This Firoz was a craftsman, a carpenter, an iron  smith and a painter. Umar did not allow non-Muslim adult captives to reside in Madina. Mughirah sought  special permission for the residence of Firoz in Madina on the ground that as he was a skilled craftsman,  he would be of service to the people. Umar gave the permission as a special case.

One day, Firoz waited on Umar and complained that the tax which his master Mughirah was exacting from  him was too high. He wanted the Caliph to reduce the levy. Umar enquired what work did he do. He said  that he worked as a carpenter, painter, and an ironsmith. He added that he could make windmills as well.  Umar next enquired as to the amount of the tax that he was required to pay to his master. He said that  he had to pay two dirhams a day. Umar said that keeping in view the lucrative nature of the jobs done by  him, the levy of two dirhams a day was prima facie not excessive. Umar said that he would, however,  write to Mughirah, and examine the question further in the light of what Mughirah said. That did not  satisfy Firoz, and he went away sulking.

Umar wrote to Mughirah, and in reply Mughirah quoted facts and figures to establish that what he took  from his slave was by no means excessive. When Firoz called on Umar again, Umar explained to him that  as the levy was not excessive, no reduction therein was called for that made Firoz angry. In order to  humor Firoz, Umar said, “I understand you make windmills; make one for me as well.” In a sullen mood,  Firoz said, “Verily I will make such a mill for you, that the world would talk about it.” As Firoz went away,  the Caliph told the people around him that the Persian slave had threatened him.

There were Persian children slaves in Madina. Seeing them, Firoz would say, “You have been enslaved at  such a tender age. This Umar sees eaten my heart. I will take his heart out”. He made for himself a  dagger with a very sharp edge and smeared it with poison.

On the 1st of November 644 A.D. at the time of the morning prayer, Firoz went with his dagger to the  Prophet’s mosque and hid himself in a corner in one of the recesses of the mosque. When the faithful  stood for prayer after straightening the lines, and Umar took up his position as the Imam to lead the  prayer, Firoz emerged from his place of hiding and rushed at Umar. Firoz struck Umar six consecutive  blows with his dagger, and Umar fell on the floor profusely bleeding.

Other persons rushed at Firoz, but he had the fury and frenzy of a desperate man about him. He struck  right and left, and thirteen Muslims were wounded, some of them fatally, before Firoz could be  overpowered. At last realizing that he could not escape, Firoz stabbed himself to death with his own  dagger.

Umar On Death Bed

From the mosque Umar was carried home. When he regained consciousness he asked who was his  murderer. He was told that his murderer was the Persian slave Firoz. Thereupon Umar said, “Praise be to  God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim”.

The physician administered him date cordial and milk. These could not be digested and gushed out of his  wounds. That indicated that the wounds were fatal and that he could not survive for long.

The people around him praised him for his virtues and sterling qualities. He asked them not to praise him.  He said:

“All praise is to Allah. If all the treasures of this world were to be at my disposal, I would offer them as a  ransom to be saved from the trial at the Day of Judgment.”

He then recited the Arabic verse:

“I have been unjust to my soul,
Except that I am a Muslim,
Say my prayers and fast.”

Umar asked his son Abdullah to wait on Ayesha and beg her permission for his burial by the side of the  Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. Ayesha wept as she came to know that Umar was about to die. She said, “I  had reserved this place for my own burial, but I give Umar precedence over myself. Let him be buried  there”. When Umar was told that Ayesha had given the permission, he felt happy and said, “God bless  Ayesha. She has fulfilled my greatest wish. Now I can die in peace.”

Then he asked his son to estimate the debt that he had to pay. He was told that the debt amounted to  eighty six thousand dirhams. This included the salary that he had drawn from the Baitul Mal during the  period of his caliphate. He instructed that the debt should be paid by the sale of his property. Thereafter  Umar gave detailed instructions to his son regarding his funeral. He said:

“Be moderate in the expenses of my shroud, for verily if there is anything of good with God in my favor,  He will give me in exchange what is better than it, and if I have been otherwise, He will strip me of all that  I have. And be moderate in the grave that you dig for me, for verily if there be anything of good with God  in my favor, He will widen it for me, and if I have been otherwise, He will make it narrow for me to  squeeze my body. And let no woman go with my funeral. Praise me not for that which is not in me, for the  Lord knows best what I am. Therefore when you carry me to the grave, hasten in your going for if there is  anything of good with God in my favor you will speed me to that which is good, and if I have been  otherwise, you will cast from your necks an evil that you bear.”

Thereafter Umar turned his face to the Qibla and breathed his last. There was serene smile on his face as  he lay dead.

Umar And His Successor

When Umar was on his death bed, he was asked that he should nominate his successor. Umar sighed  and said, “Whom should I nominate my successor? If Abu Ubaida had been alive, I would have nominated  him as my successor for about him the Holy Prophet had said that he was the trustee of the Muslim  community. If Salam the liberated slave of Abu Huzaifa had been alive, I would have nominated him as my  successor for about him the Holy Prophet had said that among the Muslims he loved Allah most.”

Some one said, “I propose the name of your son Abdullah for the office.”

Thereupon Umar said:

“May God curse you for tempting me to nepotism by nominating my son when I am going to meet my  Creator. The Caliphate is an affair affecting the entire Muslim community, and I would not like to make it  an hereditary office in my family. I swear it by God that I never coveted the caliphate for myself. Therefore  what I never coveted for myself I would not like to pass on to my family. If the caliphate is something  good then by holding the office for the last ten years, I have had the blessing for my family. If the  caliphate is something bad then why should I pass on this bad thing to my family? God is my witness that  during my caliphate I showed no favor to my family members. On the other hand I was more hard with  them than with the other Muslims. I have tried to fulfill the obligations of the office always under the  shadow of the fear lest I may at any stage falter in the performance of my duties. I do not know whether  I have succeeded in my purpose, but I will be happy if my achievements and failures just balance, so that  I am neither rewarded nor punished for holding the office of the caliphate. Remember ye men, that if I  nominate my successor, a better man than me (namely Abu Bakr) also nominated his successor. And  again if I do not nominate a successor, remember that the best of men, namely Muhammad (peace be on  him) did not nominate a successor. Whatever the case I am confident that Allah will Himself protect the  interests of Islam.”

At this, the persons around Umar went away. Umar had some sleep. Then the men came again and they  said:

“O Amirul Mominin, if you are not going to nominate a successor at least leave some instructions for the  selection of your successor.”

Thereupon Umar said:

“After hearing you and weighing the pros and cons of the case carefully I had decided that I should  nominate my successor who should lead the Muslims on the path of righteousness. But then I lost  consciousness, and in that state of unconsciousness I had a dream. I saw that a man who had laid out  the garden was plucking all ripe and unripe fruit from all the trees, and gathering it on the ground. I  interpret this dream to mean that I will die, and Allah will Himself attend to the affairs of the Muslim  community. I therefore refrain from nominating a successor for I do not wish that even after death I  should continue to carry the burden of the caliphate.”

When pressed to leave some guidance for the people to choose his successor, Umar said that he would  nominate a Committee comprising Ali, Usman, Abdur Rahman b. Auf; Sad bin Abi Waqqas; Zubair b.  Awwam; and Abu Talha. All these were eminent Companions whom the Holy Prophet gave the tidings of  paradise in their lifetime. Umar said:

“I enjoin that this Committee should elect one of themselves as the Caliph.”

The following, day Umar called the members of the Committee (except Abu Talha who was cut of station)  and enjoined them that they should deliberate and choose one from among themselves as the Caliph.  The Committee retired to hold a meeting. It was soon found that there were strong dissensions among  the members, and loud voices were raised highlighting the differences. Thereupon Abdul Rahman b. Auf  addressing the members of the Committee said:

“The Amirul Mominin is not yet dead, and you have started quarrelling over the question of succession.”

When this state of affairs was brought to the notice of Umar he instructed:

“Defer the consideration of this issue for the present. When I die you take up the issue and then settle it  within three days. On the fourth day after my death the person chosen by you should take the oath of  office. He should be some one out of you. Abdullah b. Umar will sit with the Committee as Adviser and  Moderator, but he will have no vote, nor will he be eligible for election as the Caliph. If during this period  Abu Talha joins you he will be a member. If he does not come within three days, the rest of the members  of the Committee will have the authority to take the decision. During these three days, Suhaib will lead  the prayers. Thereafter, whosoever, is elected as the Caliph will lead the prayers.”

Testament Of Umar

On his death bed Umar was requested to make a testament for the guidance of his successor. Umar  addressed the following testament to his successor:

“I enjoin upon you to have trust and faith in God, He Who has no peer.

Be kind and generous to the Muhajreen and the Ansar. Those out of them who are good, be good to  them; those who are bad overlook their lapses.

Be good to the people of the conquered lands. They are the outer line of our defense; they are the target  of the anger and distress of our enemies. They contribute to our revenues. They should be taxed only on  their surplus wealth.

Be gracious to the Bedouins as they are the backbone of the Arab nation.

I instruct you to be good to the Dhimmis for they are your responsibility. Do not tax them beyond their  capacity. Ensure that they pay the Jizya without undue inconvenience.

Fear God, and in all that you do keep His pleasure in view. In the matter of people fear God, and in the  matter of Allah do not be afraid of the people.

With regard to the people, I enjoin upon you to administer justice with an even hand. See that all the  legitimate requirements of the people are met. Be concerned for their welfare. Ensure the safety of their  person and property.

See that the frontiers of our domains are not violated. Take strong steps to guard the frontiers.

In the matter of administration do not prefer the rich to the poor. Be hard against those who violate the  law. Show them no mercy. Do not rest content until you have brought the miscreants to book.

Treat all the people as equal. Be a pillar of strength for those who are weak and oppressed. Those who  are strong but do wrong, make them pay for their wrong-doings.

In the distribution of booty and other matters be above nepotism. Let no consideration of relationship or  selfish interest weigh with you.

The Satan is at large; it may tempt you. Rise above all temptations and perform your duties in accordance  with the injunctions of Islam.

Get guidance from the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Freely consult the wise men around you. Apply your own  mind in difficult cases, and seek light from God.

Be simple in your living and your habits. Let there be no show or ostentation about you. Lead life as a  model Muslim. As you are the leader of the Muslims, justify your leadership by being the best among them  all. May God bless you.”

His son Abdullah also desired some words of parting advice. Umar asked him to hold fast to the  fundamentals of faith. Abdullah asked what these fundamentals were.

Umar said that these were:

Keep fast in the intense heat of the summer when the Ramazan falls in such a season.

Kill the enemies of Islam with sword.

In the event of any calamity or distress exercise patience.

In the cold of the winter perform your ablutions in full.

On a cloudy day hurry up in offering prayers.

Abstain from the mud of destruction.

Abdullah enquired what was the mud of destruction, and Umar said it was wine-bibbling.

Elegies And Tributes On The Death Of Umar

Atika the wife of Umar burst into the following elegy on the death of Umar:

“Eye, let thy tears and weeping be abundant,
Death has afflicted me in the fall of a horseman
Distinguished in the day of battle and of contumely,
The stay of faith, the defense against inclement fortune,
And a champion unto the afflicted and oppressed,
Say unto the hopeless die,
Since Death hath given us to drink the cup of dissolution.”

She also said:

“Firoz has deprived us of such a fair complexioned, fair minded person
Who was fastidious about his prayers
Who was regular in the recitation of the Holy Qur’an,
Who was a source of strength for the weak;
And who was stern and harsh against the oppressors.”

Another wife of Umar mourned his death in the following terms:

“The death of Umar has overwhelmed me with such grief
That the entire world now appears to be a place of sorrow and distress.”

Bint Abi Hashma said:

“We mourn the death of Umar
Who disentangled every knot,
Who solved every difficulty,
Who put an end to all mischief,
Who revived the Sunnat of the Holy Prophet,
He has departed from this world
Free from all blame.”

Hafsa expressed her grief in the following terms:

“I am bearing this bereavement with patience,
The Holy Qur’an condoles me,
You are not alone to die,
Every one is to die in turn.”

A poet mournfully said:

“Because of the leadership of Umar,
The Muslims became a disciplined community,
Apparently it’s impossible that after him,
Any one should carry the burden of the State
As effectively as he did.”

Sa’id bin Zaid, the brother-in-law of Umar, wept grievously. He was asked why he was weeping so profusely. He said:

“I am not weeping for Umar. I am weeping for Islam in which cracks will appear after his death.”

Seeing the face of Umar, Ali said:

“Salutations of God to thee,
Verily, there is no man
Other than this shrouded one,
Whose deeds I envy.”

‘Usman seeing the face of Umar said:

“Out of us, who can equal Umar?”

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