When during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, the Muslims conquered Khyber, the Holy Prophet deputed Mahisa bin Masud Ansari to Fidak a neighboring township to invite the inhabitants to Islam. The township was a Jewish settlement, the chief being a Jew Yusha bin Nun. After the fall of Khyber, the Jews of Fidak were in no mood to offer resistance. The Jews submitted, and offered to surrender one half of their land.
About the disposal of the land in Fidak, God revealed:
"What Allah has made this people (the Jews) to deliver,
To conquer which you did not lead any force,
Vests in the Apostle,
And Allah empowers His Apostles over whom He pleases."
The Holy Prophet accordingly reserved the land for himself. The proceeds from the property were utilized by the Holy Prophet for the maintenance of His family. These were also utilized for charity, and for the relief of those in distress.
After the death of the Holy Prophet Fatima as the successor of the Holy Prophet claimed the land at Fidak. Abu Bakr did not concede the claim. Abu Bakr declared that He had heard from the Holy Prophet that prophets leave no inheritable property and that all that they have is public trust.
Fatima died during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. After the death of Abu Bakr, Ali and Abbas lodged before Umar a claim to the land of Fidak. Umar upheld the decision of Abu Bakr. He held that the land was a reserve of the Holy Prophet, but it was a reserve for public purposes, and after his death the reserved vested in the State, and could not be claimed by his successors as if it was his personal property.
On this occasion, explaining his decision, Umar said:
"The Holy Prophet used to take from the land of Fidak the maintenance of his family for the year. The rest he spent in the way of Allah. This was the Holy Prophet's practice as long as he lived. When the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace and blessings, died, Abu Bakr said 'I am the successor of the Apostle of Allah'. So he took possession of land and used it as the Holy Prophet had used it. Then Abu Bakr died. Now I am the successor of Abu Bakr, and I have had the land in my possession for two years, and have done with it as the Holy Prophet, and Abu Bakr had done before."
The upshot of Umar's decision was that the land at Fidak was a public trust to which the ordinary law of inheritance did not apply.
When after the battle with Banu Nadir the lands of the Jews were occupied the question arose as to how such lands were to be distributed. To solve this issue, the following verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet:
"Whatever lands fall to you from the people of the town, they belong to Allah and the Apostle and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the poor among the Muhajreen who were driven from their homes, and for all those who come after."
During the caliphate of Umar when extensive conquests were made in Iraq and Syria, the combatants demanded that all agricultural funds left by the enemy should be distributed among them.
Umar convened an assembly at which this question was discussed. Abdul Rahman bin Auf, Zubair bin Al-Awam, and Bilal bin Rabah among others were strongly of the view that such lands should be distributed among the soldiers.
Umar observed that there were various aspects of the question and each aspect had to be taken into consideration carefully.
The economic aspect of the question was that if such lands were distributed no assets would be left with the state to provide the source of revenue for the future. Under the circumstances the best course was that such lands should be state property so that income accruing therefrom could be utilized for meeting the future needs.
The social aspect was that if such lands were distributed some people would get rich, while the others would remain poor. Those who have fought on various fronts would on that basis get lands in various countries and that would create great disparity among the ranks of the Muslims. That was repugnant to Islam.
Umar emphasized that in the verse of the Holy Quran on the subject (quoted above), the words 'and those that will come after,' were of particular significance. The implication was that such lands should remain state property so that the coming generations might also profit therefrom.
"These lands belong to the coming generations and are therefore the property of the nation. How can I then distribute them among those who are present and deprive those who will come after."
The debate lasted for several days, and ultimately the consensus of opinion emerged in favor of the view advanced by Umar. According to the four schools of law that emerged subsequently three schools upheld the view taken by Umar. The school of Imam Shaf'i, however, insisted that the conquered lands should have been divided among the combatants.
Umar was the first Muslim ruler to levy Ushr. Ushr as the name implies was an import duty levied at ten per cent on the value of goods imported.
When the Muslim traders went to foreign lands for the purposes of trade they had to pay a ten per cent tax to the foreign states. Ushr was levied on reciprocal basis on the goods of the traders of other countries who chose to trade in the Muslim dominions.
Umar issued instructions that Ushr should be levied in such a way so as to avoid hardship. The tax was levied on merchandise meant for sale. Goods imported for consumption or personal use but not for sale were not taxed. The merchandise valued at two hundred dirhams or less was not taxed.
The instructions provided that the tax should be charged only on goods which were brought in openly, and the personal luggage was not to be searched.
When the citizens of the State imported goods for the purposes of trade, they had to pay the customs duty or import tax at lower rates. In the case of the Dhimmis the rate was five per cent and in the case of the Muslims 2 1/2 per cent. In the case of the Muslims the rate was the same as that of Zakat. The levy was thus regarded as a part of Zakat and was not considered a separate tax.
A story is told that a certain Christian of the Banu Taghlib tribe and a citizen of the Muslim state imported a horse. The horse was valued at 20,000 dirhams, and being a Dhimmi the import tax on the horse was assessed at 5 per cent, i.e. 1,000 dirhams. He paid the tax but then went out of the country on business riding that horse. He returned after some time, and the taxing authorities demanded the Ushr on the horse again. He represented that as he had already paid the tax, it was a case of hardship to pay the tax for the second time.
The Christian waited on Umar at Madina, and represented his case. Umar after hearing the case merely said, "Alright, you can go." The man thought that Umar had probably not agreed with his view point. He accordingly went to the tax authorities and expressed his willingness to pay the tax. The taxing authorities told him that they had already received instructions from Umar that when any goods had been subjected to Ushr, these should not be subjected to the tax on re-import within a year.
Hearing of this order, the Christian trader said, 'How just is Umar; verily the religion that he follows is the Truth." Thereupon he declared the article of faith and became a Muslim.
Before Islam, the usage in Arabia was that whatever spoils were won in a battle these were distributed among the combatants, subject to the condition that one-fourth of the share was given to the chief of the tribe. This implied that whatever spoils fell into the hands of a combatant belonged to him.
The first battle fought by the Muslims was the battle of Badr. After the victory some Muslims went in pursuit of the enemy and gathered some booty. They took the plea that whatever they had obtained belonged to them. Those who had stayed behind to guard the Holy Prophet argued that as they had taken part in the war, they had the right to an equal share in the booty.
To solve the matter, the following verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet:
"People ask thee about the spoils,
Say, they belong to the Allah and the Apostle."
This verse abrogated the principle that the spoils were the exclusive right of the combatants. The verse, however, did not indicate how the spoils were to be distributed. To settle that issue, another verse was revealed as follows:
"Whatever spoils of war you capture;
One-fifth of them belongs to
Allah and the Apostle and to the near of kin,
And the poor and the wayfarers."
In accordance with this injunction the practice with the Holy Prophet was that four-fifths of the spoils were distributed among the Muslims at large, and one-fifth was retained by the Holy Prophet for his personal use and for the use of persons closely related to them. A part was used for providing relief to the poor, the widows, and the orphans.
This one-fifth was known as 'Khums'. This became a subject of controversy in the time of the caliphate of Umar. Ali, Abbas, and other Uashmites pleaded that even after the death of the Holy Prophet, 'Khums' should be distributed among those who were related to the Holy Prophet.
Umar did not accept this view. He distributed four-fifths among the warriors participating in the war, and the 'Khums' was credited to the Baitul Mal for the use of the Muslims at large.
Umar argued that the Holy Prophet himself declared that the prophets leave no inheritance, and as such the relatives of the Holy Prophet could claim no preference in the matter of distribution of the spoils of war. The entire Muslim community was the heir of the Holy Prophet, and as such the 'Khums' was to be used for the benefit of the entire Muslim community, and could not be earmarked as a privilege for any particular section.
Umar's view was that as with his death, the Holy Prophet lost his share of the 'Khums', his relatives lost that special privilege as well. After the death of the Holy Prophet, the relatives of the Holy Prophet and the other Muslims were to be treated at par. Thus they could have their share as Muslims and not on the basis of relationship with the Holy Prophet.
Umar also argued that if it was held that the relatives of the Prophet were to enjoy a special privilege even after his death, this would imply that this practice should continue for ever. Such a course would be irrational. That would imply the creation of a privileged group within the Muslims, a sort of Brahmins with born privileges and that would be repugnant to Islam.
During the caliphate of Umar, the Hashmites felt unhappy at the decision of Umar though they did not challenge it. Among the four schools of the law that developed among the Muslims, the school of Imam Shafi argued vehemently in favor of special privilege for the relatives of the Holy Prophet. The other schools upheld the decision of Umar.
Imra-ul-Qais was a great poet of Arabia of the pre Islamic period. His grandfather was King Harith of Kinda, the antagonist of Mundhir III, king of Hira. King Harith was killed in a battle against Hira. On the death of Harith, his kingdom was split up into a number of principalities. One of such principalities, the Banu Asad was ruled by Hujr who was the father of Imra-ul-Qais.
There is a story that Imra-ul-Qais was banished by his father who despised him for being a poet, and was enraged by the scandals of the adventures of his love. Imra-ul-Qais led a wild life, and came to be known as the 'Vagabond prince.'
Hujr was killed by an enemy. When the news of the death of his father reached Imra-ul-Qais, he cried "My father wasted my youth, and now that I am old, he has laid upon me the burden of avenging his death. Wine to-day, business tomorrow." Seven nights he indulged in carouse. Thereafter he swore not to eat flesh, or drink wine, nor use ointment, nor wash his head until he had avenged the death of his father. He visited the oracle in the valley of Tabala north of Najran, and drew the omen by drawing an arrow. The arrow that he drew was to the effect that such vengeance was forbidden. He broke the arrow and dashed it against the face of the idol saying "If your father had been killed, you would not have hindered me."
Thereafter he set out for Constantinople, where he was favorably received by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who desired to see the power of Kinda re-established as a counter poise to Hira which was subject to Persia. At Constantinople' Imra-ul-Qais was involved in a love affair with a Byzantine princess. In order to get rid of him, the emperor appointed him the Governor of Palestine. He was awarded an official robe which he was required to wear throughout his journey. The robe was poisoned, and Imra-ul-Qais died of the effects of the poisoned robe in the course of the journey around 540.
In Stray Thoughts, Iqbal has assessed the poetry of Imra-ul-Qais in the following terms:
"Of the poet Imra-ul-Qais who flourished about 40 years before Islam, our Prophet is reported to have said, 'He is the most poetic of all poets and their leader to hell'. Now, what do we find in the poetry of Imra-ul-Qais. Sparkling wine, enervating sentiments and situations of love, heart rending moans over the ruins of habitations long swept away by stormy winds, superb pictures of the inspiring scenery of silent deserts-and all this in the choicest expression of old Arabia. Imra-ul-Qais appeals more to imagination than to will, and on the whole acts as a narcotic on the mind of the reader. The Prophet's criticism reveals this most important art principle-that the good in art is not necessarily identical with the good in life. It is possible for a poet to write fine poetry and yet lead his society to hell. The poet is essentially a seducer; woe to the people if instead of making the trials of life look beautiful and attractive he embellishes decadence with all the glories of health and power, and seduces the people to extinction. Out of the richness of his nature he ought to lavish on others something of the super-abundance of life and power in him, and not steal away, thief-like, the little they already happen to possess."
Umar admired the excellency of the poetry of Imra-ul-Qais and the originality of his themes. It is related that Abdullah bin Abbas once asked Umar of his opinion about Imra-ul-Qais when he said:
"He was the foremost. He brought fresh water from the well of poetry and gave sight to blind themes?"
Nabigha was an Arabic poet of the pre-Islamic period. He flourished at the court of the princes of Hira.
Numan III the ruler of Hira was a tyrant. He loved his step mother Mutajarrida who was a famous beauty of the age. She did not return his love but he forced her to marry him.
Nabigha wrote some beautiful poetry in the praise of Mutajarrida. He was accused of being in love with the Queen, whose beauty and charm he described in minute detail in his poems. To escape the vengeance of Numan III, Nabigha fled from Hira and sought refuge in the court of the Ghassanid kings in Syria.
Umar admitted the poetry of Nabigha. He was fond of quoting verses from Nabigha.
The following verses of Nabigha were quoted by Umar on different occasions:
"Remember Sulaiman when God said to him;
Stand up on the earth and mark out a portion for yourself."
"I come to you in rugged clothes,
Lest you should entertain evil notions about me."
"I have sworn and have left no room for doubt in your heart;
And for a man there is no way beyond Allah."
"Whatever has been told to you about me is false;
If I am dishonest the man who has been backbiting
Against me is fraudulent and false."
"If you do not reform your brother
You will have to forego him."
"Crooked thorns tied in strings,
When such strings are in your hand
These attract me to you."
"Like night, you will get hold of me,
If I ever think that leaving you I can go anywhere."
"Towards Ibn Muhariq I led my dromedary
When the world was asleep."
"I saw that the trust had not been betrayed,
Likewise Nuh did not betray his trust."
Zuhair bin Abi Salma was a poet of the pre-Islamic period. His most well known work is Mu'allaqa. In his poems he preached the principles of noble conduct for individuals and society. He belonged to a family which produced great poets. These included; his father-in-law Aus bin Hajr; his sister Salma; his daughter al-Khansa; and his son Ka'b.
In his Mu'allaqa he praised the magnanimity of the chiefs of Dhubyan who brought about peace among the tribes after so many years of bloodshed.
He warned the tribesmen against vengeance and hatred. He said:
"Then cannot hide their guilt from God,
It will be recorded and punished on the day of retribution
Or avenged in this life,
They know war and its bitterness,
They should not revive that monster
Which brings only woe and destruction."
Talking about his patrons and his poetry he said:
"Your gifts have vanished, but my poems are still alive;
They are robes of honor which do not become worn out by time."
Umar had great admiration for the poetry of Zuhair. He used to call him the most poetical of all poets. Once Abdullah bin Abbas asked Umar the reason for his admiration of the poetry of Zuhair. Umar said that he admired Zuhair because he did not use rare words. His poems were free from complexity. He dealt with only such subjects in which he was at home. When he praised any one, he spoke only of those virtues which the person praised really possessed.
Umar quoted the following verses of Zuheir to establish his point:
"Qais bin Ghailan has attained the height of nobility;
Now if anybody tries to exceed him, he will only come to shame.
If praise could have given immortality to a man,
Thou wouldst never have died,
But people's adulations never make one immortal."
Umar admired Zuhair because his poetry was chaste, and though he belonged to the pagan period, his language was so refined that he gave the impression of being a poet of the Islamic period. He used simple language and did not indulge in exaggeration.
Zuhair's patron was an Arab chief Harm b. Sinan. Once a son of Zuhair and a son of Harm met Umar. Umar asked the son of Harm to recite some poems of Zuhair composed in the praise of Harm. Thereupon Harm's son recited some poems. Umar said that Zuheir wrote well in the praise of Harm and his family. Harm's son said 'He was paid well for that'.
Thereupon Umar said, "What your father gave has perished, but what Zuhair gave lives."
Then turning to Zuhair's son, Umar asked where were the robes of honor that Harm had bestowed on his father. He said that those had perished. Thereupon Umar said, "Time will never destroy the robes that Zuhair bestowed on Harm".
Aghlab and Labid were two well known poets of the time of Umar. They resided at Kufa. They were allowed by Umar a stipend of 2,000 dirhams each.
When Mugheera bin Shaaba was the Governor of Kufa, Umar asked him to call these poets and hear from them the poetry they had written after conversion to Islam.
Mugheera called Aghlab and asked him to recite some verses which he had written since his conversion to Islam. He recited:
"Do you want a battle song or a panegyric,
Verily you have made a simple demand."
Then Mugheera called Labid, and asked him to recite some verses.
"If you like I could recite for you the verses that I wrote during the period of ignorance."
"No, let us hear something which you have written during the Islamic period."
Thereupon Labid recited some verses from the Holy Quran and said:
"Since I have become a Muslim, the Holy Quran is my poetry."
Mugheera reported to Umar what Aghlab and Labid had said.
Thereupon Umar wrote to Mugheera reducing the stipend of Aghlab from 2,000 dirhams to 1,500 dirhams, and raising the stipend of Labid from 2,0OO dirhams to 2,500 dirhams.
Aghlab felt grieved and he wrote the following verses to Umar:
" Umar asked me to recite my verses
I complied with his order
There was nothing wrong with my verses
But Umar reduced my stipend
That was a strange reward
For compliance with the orders of the Caliph."
Umar regretted the reduction in the stipend of Aghlab and passed orders for the restoration of the stipend of 2,000 dirhams to Aghlab. The stipend of Labid was not touched and he continued to enjoy the stipend of 2,500 dirhams.
It was noon of a Friday. The faithful at Madina had gathered in the Prophet's mosque to offer the Friday prayers.
Umar, the Caliph arrived to lead the prayers. He said his preliminary prayer and then proceeded to deliver his address to the congregation. He began by reciting some verses from the Holy Quran. Then addressing the congregation he said "Now listen".
A young man from the congregation stood up to say, "We will not listen to you, until you give us the explanation that you owe to us."
The people were startled at this audacious interference. Umar paused for a moment, and then turning to the young man said, "Explanation for what?"
The young man said "The other day each one of us obtained a piece of cloth from the Baitul Mal. Today I find two pieces of cloth on the person of the Caliph. I want to know what right had the Caliph to get a share twice the share of an ordinary Muslim?"
Before Umar could explain Abdullah the son of Umar rose up and said, "Friends, the truth of the matter is that like every other person my father and myself obtained a piece of cloth each from the Baitul Mal. My father is so tall that the piece of cloth that he got from the Baitul Mal did not suffice him. So I gave him my piece of the cloth".
This explanation satisfied every one. The young man who had interrupted the Caliph said, "We are satisfied. You can now proceed with your address. We will listen to you and, obey your commands."
Turning to the audience Umar said, "What will you do, my friends, in case I deviate from the truth one day?"
Thereupon a man rose up and said, "When you willfully deviate from the truth, we will withdraw our allegiance to you and I for one would feel it my duty to kill you with my sword."
The Caliph said with an apparent show of anger "Man, do you know to whom you are speaking?"
The man said, "Yes, I am talking to Umar, the Commander of the Faithful".
"Then how dare you threat him with your sword" said the Caliph.
The man said, "You are our Caliph and Commander as long as you follow the truth. When you deliberately deviate from the path of the truth you no longer command our allegiance. Then we have the right to kill you, because you lead us in the wrong way."
At this the face of Umar lit up, and a smile of satisfaction played on his lips. Raising his hands towards the heaven he said in a voice choked with emotion "Great Allah, I offer you my thanks that there is no dearth of men among the faithful who have the courage to lift the sword even against the head of Umar when he deviates from the Truth."
Turning to the faithful, Umar said: "I enjoin you to follow me as long as I follow Allah and his Prophet. When there is any deviation on my part correct me. If I deliberately deviate from the Truth do not follow me. Play that you and I may steadfastly keep to the path of the Truth enjoined by Islam."
Once Umar was busy with some important affairs of the State, when a person came to him and, complaining about some petty grievance, asked for immediate redress.
Thus disturbed, Umar felt very much annoyed. He took the lash and struck the man saying:
"When I sit for redressing the grievances of the common men you do not come, and when I am engaged in other important work you come with your grievances to disturb me."
The person walked away in a sullen mood. When the man went away, Umar felt struck with remorse for having treated the man shabbily.
Umar ran after the man, and overtaking him handed him his lash and said:
"I have been hard on you and lashed you. You take this lash, and strike me so that the account may be squared."
The man was overwhelmed with the sense of justice of Umar. He said:
"O Commander of the Faithful, how can I raise my hand against you. I seek no revenge. I forgive you. May Allah forgive you."
Umar went home and offered a special prayer of repentance. He upbraided himself loudly:
"O Umar, you were low but Allah elevated you. You were wandering astray but Allah guided you. You were base but Allah ennobled you and gave you sovereignty over the people. Now one of them comes and asks you for requital for the harm done to him, and you beat him.
What answer would you give before Allah?"
Umar kept chiding himself long. Holding a straw in his hand he said:
"I wish, I were a straw like this." Turning to himself he said, "I wish my mother had not given birth to me."
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.
"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."
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.
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:
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."
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."
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.
Before the conquest of Mecca, Abu Sufiyan was the leader of the Quraish in Mecca. He was very hostile to Islam. He led the Quraish at the battle of Uhud. He was the leader of the Quraish at the battle of the Ditch. The Muslims suffered considerably at the hands of Abu Sufiyan. Umm Habiba a daughter of Abu Sufiyan, however, accepted Islam and was married to the Holy Prophet.
As Abu Sufiyan was the bitter enemy of Islam, Umar was very bitter against him. At the time of the conquest of Mecca when Abu Sufiyan came to the Muslim camp for negotiation, Umar sought the permission of the Holy Prophet to kill Abu Sufiyan. The Holy Prophet asked Umar to wait and watch further developments.
Thereafter Abu Sufiyan and all the Quraish of Mecca became Muslims. As Abu Sufiyan was an aristocrat, even after becoming a Muslim he could not get rid of his past arrogance.
In Madina a complaint was lodged before Umar against Abu Sufiyan. It was complained that Abu Sufiyan had constructed a house, and blocked the drainage so that the drainage water was diverted to the houses of neighbors thereby creating a nuisance and damaging such houses.
Umar decided that when he visited Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj he would see the site, and pass the necessary orders on the spot. When Umar came to Mecca he visited the site. It transpired that Abu Sufiyan had placed some stones in the drain in such a way that the flow of the sullage in the proper direction was obstructed and was instead diverted to the houses of the neighbors. Umar felt convinced that the conduct of Abu Sufiyan was not fair.
Umar summoned Abu Sufiyan and asked him to remove the stones so that the sullage should flow unobstructed. Abu Sufiyan contended that he had acted within right and as such was not going to comply with the orders of the Caliph. Umar flourished his whip and said, "Abu Sufiyan I command you to remove these stones forthwith, otherwise I will whip you, your status notwithstanding."
Without further contention, Abu Sufiyan removed the stones in the manner desired by Umar.
Thereupon turning his face to the Kaaba Urrar said:
"Praise be to God, Who, because of the power of Islam, made an ordinary man like Umar dominate over a chief like Abu Sufiyan."
Abu Sufiyan said:
"All praise is due to God Who blessed me with the light of Islam which has shown me the true path, and made me bow before the truth".
"Abu Sufiyan! Congratulations, for Islam has shown you the true path."
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."
Atika was the daughter of Zaid bin Amr bin Naufal. Zaid was the uncle of the Umar. Atika was thus a cousin of Umar.
At Madina, Atika was married to Abdullah the son of Abu Bakr. Atika was very beautiful and Abdullah was much enamored of her. He was so much lost in her love that he failed to participate in the various expeditions undertaken by the Muslims. He even neglected to offer his prayers in the mosque.
The love of Abdullah and Atika became proverbial. Abdullah felt that Atika was the most valuable thing in the world. When Abu Bakr came to know that Abdullah had not taken part in the various expeditions and had even neglected his prayers, he put him to explanation. He had no explanation to offer. The matter of fact position was that he was so much overwhelmed by the love of Atika that he could not attend to other duties.
Abu Bakr gave vent to anger and told his son in plain words that his failings and shortcomings were too grave to be passed over. Abdullah placed himself at the mercy of his father, and Abu Bakr decreed that Abdullah should divorce Atika within three days.
Abdullah was torn between two minds. At times he thought that he should be faithful to his love. On second thought he felt that the command of his father should be obeyed whatever the cost. After three days Abdullah divorced Atika. This decision made Abdullah deranged. He would neither eat nor drink. He sobbed and sighed and sang heart rending verses giving expression to his great grief over the loss of his beloved.
The divorce of Atika became the matter of talk in Medina. When the Holy Prophet came to know of the matter, he felt sympathy for Abdullah. The Holy Prophet revoked the divorce, and the two lovers were reunited.
Abdullah was very particular thereafter to ensure that the love for Atika did not stand in the way of his duty to God. In all the campaigns that were undertaken by the Holy Prophet thereafter, Abdullah took part therein, and fought valiantly. In the battle of Taif, Abdullah was wounded, and later he died of such wounds at Madina.
Atika bitterly mourned the death of Abdullah, and in a touching elegy she said:
"Abdullah I have sworn that my eyes
Shall not cease grieving over thee;
And my body shall ever remain,
Covered with dust."
Atika resolved that after Abduliah she would not marry any one. She kept her resolve for four or five years. Umar felt for her. He felt distressed that one so young and beautiful should remain a widow. Umar advised her that she should marry. When Umar became the Caliph, he himself offered to marry. After some hesitation, Atika accepted the proposal.
After the consummation of the marriage, when Umar held the marriage feast, Ali congratulated Umar, and sought his permission to talk to the bride. Umar permitted and Ali reminded Atika of her resolve not to marry any one after Abdullah. Thereupon Atika burst into weeping. Umar consolingly said:
"Atika do not be grieved. All women do like that. May God bless you. By re-marriage you have conformed to the injunctions of Islam."
Of Umar, Atika had a son "Ayaz".
Umm Hakim was the daughter of Harith bin Hisham who belonged to the Makhzun tribe of the Quraish. Her mother was the sister of the famous General Khalid bin Walid.
Umm Hakim was married to Ikrama the son of Abu Jahl. The family was known for its opposition to Islam, and Umm Hakim opposed Islam tooth and nail. In the battle of Uhud she was with the Quraish of Mecca who fought against the Muslims.
When the Muslims conquered Mecca, the Quraish were converted to Islam. At that time Umm Hakim also became a Muslim. Her husband Ikrama being afraid of the wrath of the Muslims fled to Yemen.
Umm Hakim waited on the Holy Prophet, and prayed for amnesty for her husband. Seeing her fidelity, the Holy Prophet acceded to her request. She went to Yemen in person, and brought Ikrama to Madina, where he was converted to Islam.
Thereafter Ikrama became a staunch Muslim, and he participated in all the campaigns undertaken by the Muslims. In the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Ikrama fought in the apostasy wars. Later he went to Syria and fought against the Byzantines. Umm Hakim went with Ikrama to Syria and remained in the military camp. Ikrama was martyred at the battle of Ajnadin.
After the death of Ikrama, Umm Hakim stayed in Syria. Khalid bin Saeed sent her the proposal of marriage. She accepted the proposal, but said that the marriage should be held after the war against the Byzantines was over. Khalid bin Saeed said that be had a feeling that he was not going to survive the battle, and as such be wanted the marriage to be held immediately. Thereupon Umm Hakim gave her consent and the marriage was celebrated.
The marriage was consummated in the military camp at Marj-al-Saffar outside Damascus. The next day Khalid bin Saeed went to fight and he was martyred. The tent of Umm Hakim was surrounded by the enemy. Though dressed in bridal clothes, Umm Hakim showed great presence of mind. She plucked the poles from the camp, and struck to death all the Byzantine soldiers who attempted to seek admittance to the camp. In the resultant confusion she escaped and sought safety in the midst of the Muslim forces.
Then she returned to Madina. She was a cousin of Umar and Umar condoled with her over the deaths of Ikrama and Khalid b. Saeed. Umar was much impressed with her heroism in killing nine Byzantine soldiers with the poles of the tent at the time when she was dressed as a bride.
Umar saw that she was feeling disconsolate. Umar proposed marriage and after some consideration Umm Hakim accepted the proposal. Umar and Umm Hakim were married in the third year of the caliphate of Umar.
Of Umm Hakim, Umar had a daughter who was named Fatima.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
When Umar opened the register for public allowances, and allowed stipends for children as well, he laid down the condition that the children were not to get any allowance until they were weaned.
In their desire to get allowances for the children, the parents cut down the period of weaning.
One night Umar went on his rounds as usual. As he was patrolling a street, he heard the voice of a baby crying. Umar stood outside the house for some time, but the baby did not stop crying.
Umar knocked at the door and was admitted inside the house. He saw that a woman held a small baby in her lap and the baby continued to cry.
Umar turned to the lady and said, "What sort of mother you are. The baby is crying, and you do not feed it with you milk."
The woman said, "Go and ask Umar as to what sort of Caliph he is He has ordained that a child would not get a stipend until it was weaned. In order to secure the stipend for our child we are trying to wean it."
Umar argued that it was cruel to wean a baby at such an early age.
The woman retorted, "The blame for such cruelty rests on Umar who has created artificial distinction between child and child. Justice demands that every child should get a stipend, weaning or no weaning."
Umar said, "All right. Feed your baby with your milk, and rest assured you will get the stipend for your baby even though it is not weaned."
The following day Umar passed orders that stipends would be allowed for children from their date of birth. These orders were given a retrospective effect and the previous orders were rescinded.
Once the dead body of a beardless youth was found in an isolated place in Madina. Umar wanted the relatives of the dead boy to take care of the body and give it a burial. No one came forward to claim the body. Umar had the body buried. Thereafter he initiated an inquiry to trace the murder, but the murder could not be traced. Umar prayed to God that he may facilitate his task by providing some clue to trace the murder.
After about nine months, a new born baby was found at the same site where the dead body of the young man had been found. Umar entrusted the foundling to a wet nurse at state expense. He instructed the nurse that if any lady came to enquire about the baby, or caressed it, he should be informed. Umar felt sure that before long the mystery of the dead young man would be solved.
After a few months the nurse reported that a lady so and so had come to see the baby, and caressed it as if she was its mother. Umar noted the name and address of the lady, and after having girded his sword went to see the lady.
It transpired that the lady was unmarried and was the daughter of a respectable Ansar chief. Umar took the chief into confidence, and said that he wanted to talk to her daughter as he suspected her to be guilty of murder.
Umar went inside the house and then branding his sword said, "You are according to my investigation guilty of murder. If you have any defense to offer, let me hear what you have to say."
The girl said, "It is true that I murdered the young man. You may listen to my story, and then you may pass whatever verdict you may pass."
Umar said, "Yes. You may narrate your story. But mind you, speak nothing but the truth".
The girl said, "A few years ago I engaged an old woman as a maid servant. She was very kind and affectionate. She treated me as a daughter, and I looked to her as a mother. Some time later she said that she would be going to her village but would like to leave her young daughter with me." She brought her daughter and left her with me. The girl was of my age, and we soon became intimate friends. She would sleep in the same room as myself and we would talk of pleasant things till late hours in the night.
One night we talked of love and allied matters till midnight. Then feeling heavy with sleep I dozed while she kept sitting on my bed. After some time I found to my horror that whom I had taken to be a girl was a boy, and was doing foul action with me. In the heaviness of sleep I did not know what had happened, but when I regained my senses and found that I had been betrayed I took the dagger and killed the boy. Thereafter I had thrown the dead body at a solitary spot.
Nine months later a baby was born. I did not kill it but had it thrown at the spot where the dead body of its father had been thrown previously."
After hearing the story, Umar said, "You have spoken the truth. You were betrayed and in killing the boy you vindicated your honor. You acted within the bounds of law, and I pronounce the verdict of 'Non-guilty'. You can even keep the baby with you, if you like."
Jabala bin Aiham was a Ghassanid prince. He became a convert to Islam and came to Madina. At Madina, Jabala stayed as the personal guest of Umar. A few days later Umar and Jabala traveled to Mecca for the purposes of pilgrimage. In Mecca too, Jabala was the State guest.
As Jabala was circumambulating the Holy Kaaba, his pilgrim scarf was accidentally trodden by a poor Arab of the Banu Fazara. That aroused the wrath of Jabala. Without waiting to listen to any explanation, Jabala buffeted the Arab in the face bruising him severely in the nose.
The Arab lodged a complaint with Umar. Umar sent for Jabala and asked him whether the charge levied against him by the Arab was true. Jabala answered haughtily "This rascal trod on my reverence for the Kaaba and, but for the prohibition to shed blood within the sacred premises, I would have slain the man on the spot, instead of merely thrashing him."
Umar put the Arab to explanation and he said on oath that due to extraordinary rush, he trod on the scarf of Jabala accidentally.
Turning to Jabala, Umar said, "Do you agree that what happened was accidental, or did this man deliberately offend you."
Jabala said, "I am not concerned with that. It might have been accidental but the fact remained that he trod on my scarf thereby uncovering me. It must be borne in mind that I am a prince while he is a commoner."
Umar said, "In Islam there is no distinction between a prince and a commoner. You could not take the law in your own hands merely on the ground that you are a prince, and he is a commoner".
Jabala felt annoyed and said, "I had thought that Islam would add to my dignity and prestige, and here Islam is becoming an instrument for my humiliation".
Umar said, "Law must have its own course, and I am obliged to do justice. There are two alternatives. Either patch up with the man and satisfy him, or be prepared to face my verdict."
When Jabala saw that Umar was serious in invoking the penal provisions of law he said, "Give me one day to ponder over the matter".
Hazrat Umar deferred his judgment for one day. That very night Jabala left for Syria secretly along with his retinue. From there he proceeded to Constantinople. In Constantinople he become a Christian. He said, "I denounce Islam because it does not discriminate between a peasant and a commoner."
When Umar came to know on the following day that Jabala had slipped away, he allowed the poor Arab adequate compensation from the Bait-ul-Mal.
It is related that when one night, Umar was on his usual round in the streets of Madina, he heard a girl in a house singing:
"Can I get some wine to drink;
Can I ever find access to Nasr bin Hajjaj
A young man known for his beauty, youth and manners,
He who is of noble birth,
He whose company was a matter of joy".
Another girl friend sitting by her enquired who was Nasr
The girl said, "Nasr is the most beautiful young man in Madina. I long that he should spend a night with me, when he and I should be alone."
The following day, Umar summoned Nasr. When he saw him he wondered at his beauty. Undoubtedly he was the most beautiful young man in Madina. He had beautiful curly hair. Umar called a barber and had the hair of Nasr cut.
Thereupon Nasr composed the following verses:
"Umar could not see my curls,
My hair which when combed waved like a chain;
He made that head bald where once there were profuse hair;
He who was bald headed felt jealous of him who had hair,
As he could not be proud of his hair, he deprived me of his hair."
Umar called Nasr again. Even though deprived of his hair he looked still more attractive. Umar ordered that he should wear a turban.
Umar called him again, and with turban he looked more manly and attractive. Thereupon Umar said:
"You cannot live with me in this city where women long for you."
He ordered that Nasr should go to Basra.
When Nasr went away to Basra the girl Zulfa who had sung about him felt worried about her fate. She wrote verses to the effect that she had sung of wine and Nasr only in an imaginary mood; otherwise she was a girl of excellent character, and did not actually crave for wine or Nasr.
Umar made enquiry about the girl, and it transpired that she commanded good character. Umar assured her that he proposed no action against her, but warned her that as a good girl she should not think of things forbidden by law."
At Basra, Nasr became the guest of Mujasha bin Masud. When Mujasha's wife Shameela saw Nasr she felt attracted. Nasr reciprocated her love. When Mujasha came to know of this clandestine love affair he turned out Nasr from his house and divorced his wife.
From Basra, Nasr wrote a letter to Umar supplicating that the orders of his exile should be rescinded, and he should be allowed to come to Madina. Nasr's mother waited on Umar and said, "Your sons are with you, but you have exiled my son. That is not fair." Umar said, "Your son is a source of danger to the morals of the maidens of Madina. As long as I live, I would not allow him to come, and tempt innocent maidens with his looks."
When Umar died, Nasr returned to Madina.
Abul Siara was a native of Madina. He fell in love with a beautiful lady who was the wife of one Abi Jandab. Abul Siara saw the lady and pressed his suit vehemently. The lady warned him to desist from such a course. She told him that if her husband came to know of his approach he would murder him. In spite of the warning, Abul Siara continued his suit. The lady reported the matter to the younger brother of Abi Jandab. He warned Abul Siara in strong terms, but he took no need and persisted in his erroneous course.
Exasperated, the lady reported the matter to her husband Abi Jandab. Abi Jandab laid down a trap for catching Abul Siara. He gave out that he was going out for the grazing of his camels, and he would return after a few days. At night, thinking that Abi Jandab was not at home, Abul Siara knocked at the door of his beloved. The lady asked him to go away as she was married and could not reciprocate his love. He sighed and sobbed and made declarations of love in pathetic terms. He said that he was so much lost in her love that he would even welcome death. Apparently moved by the frenzied state of her lover, the lady admitted Abul Siara to her house. She advised him to hide himself in the room. In the meantime she would decorate herself and then come to him.
As soon as Abul Siara entered the room, Abi Jandab who was already there started beating Abul Siara with sticks and whips. Abul Siara cried and shrieked. The lady asked the younger brother of Abi Jandab to intervene lest the man might be killed. At his intervention, Abi Jandab withdrew his hand. Badly bruised with his bones broken, Abul Siara was carried out and thrown in the way of camels. When Abul Siara came to consciousness and the people asked as to what had happened he said that he had fallen from a camel and broken his bones.
The matter came to the notice of Umar. He summoned the parties and recorded their statements. The lady stated how Abul Siara tried to seduce her and how she resisted his love. Abi Jandab stated how a trap had been laid to catch Abul Siara red handed. Abul Siara confessed his guilt. Umar highly praised the conduct and character of the lady. He absolved Abi Jandab of the charge of violence against Abul Siara. Abul Siara was pronounced guilty and awarded punishment.
Al-Numan was the son of Adiy. Adiy was an early convert to Islam. He migrated to Abyssinia under the instructions of the Holy Prophet and died there. Al. Numan was born in Abyssinia. Later he returned to Madina. He was a good poet.
During the caliphate of Umar, he was appointed the Administrator of the district of Maisan in Iraq. He had a beautiful wife al-Hasna who stayed at Madina.
In a poetic vein, Al-Numan composed some verses and sent them to his wife at Madina.
The verses read:
"Hasn't al-Hasna heard that her husband in Maisan
Is drinking from glasses and jars?
If I wished the chief men of the city would sing to me
And the dancing girls whirl in ecstasy.
If you are my friend, give me a drink in the largest cup,
Don't give me the half-filled cup,
Perhaps the Commander of the Faithful will take it amiss
That I am indulging in the drinking of wine."
Al-Hasna showed the letter of her husband to some of her girl friends. They appreciated the verses of al-Numan. The verses got popular and Umar also came to hear them. Hearing the verses, Umar said:
"He is right. By God I do take it amiss, and I will call him to account."
Umar forthwith dismissed Al-Numan from his office.
Al-Numan came to Madina. He saw Umar and pleaded that he had never acted in the way that his verses implied. He urged that he was a poet who wrote in an exaggerated way.
Umar said, "The penalty for writing in an exaggerated way is dismissal; if you had acted in the way the verses implied I would have lashed you in the public. Know that I want the rulers to have a balanced view of things, and If they write in an exaggerated way, poetry or otherwise, they are not fit to hold administrative offices."
Umar appointed Saeed bin Aamir as the Governor of Emessa in Syria. Saeed was highly advanced in piety and led a very austere life. Umar had a very high opinion about his integrity.
When Umar went to Syria, he asked the people of Emessa whether they had any complaint against their Governor. The people said that they had four complaints against the Governor.
Umar summoned Saeed bin Aamir, and then in his presence asked the complainants to state their complaints.
The first complaint was that he came out of his house very late in the morning. Umar put Saeed to explanation and he said, "We have no servant. I and my wife are alone. On rising up in the morning we offer our prayers, then read the Quran. Thereafter my wife cooks the meals and I help her. That takes time."
The second complaint was that at night he did not attend to any body. When asked to explain, Saeed said, "I have reserved the day for the people, and the night for God. As I attend God during the night I cannot attend to any person when I am attending God."
The third complaint was that once a month, he came out of his house very late in the afternoon. Saeed said, "I have only one change of clothes with me. I wash them once a month myself. Washing and drying the clothes takes time, and that is why once a month I am held up in my house till the afternoon."
The fourth complaint was that sometimes he fell into fits of unconsciousness. Saeed said that in Mecca he had witnessed how Khabib a convert to Islam was tortured to death by the Quraish of Mecca. The Quraish offered him safety and wealth if he disowned the Holy Prophet. He spurned their offer. He was asked whether he would not like Muhammad (peace be on him) to be tortured in his place. Khabib replied that he could not suffer even a thorn pricking the Holy Prophet. Thereupon the Quraish hung him dead downward along a date tree and did him to death. Saeed added, "At that time I was an infidel and did not do anything to come to the relief of Khabib. I recall how Khabib died calling 'Muhammad'. Now whenever I recall that tragic event, I am overwhelmed with remorse, and I swoon."
Umar dismissed the complaints. He said:
"Thank God, my opinion about Saeed has been confirmed by this trial. Verily he is a great Muslim, and those who complain against him their ignorance owe him an apology."
Umair bin Saad held the office of the Governor of Emessa for some time during the caliphate of Umar. Umair was more of a saint than a statesman. Instead of amassing wealth he distributed all that he had in the way of Allah.
For a year Umair remitted no revenue to Madina. Umar felt suspicious that Umair had misappropriated the revenues. He issued instructions calling upon Umair to come over to Madina.
As soon as the instructions of the Caliph were received Umair started for Madina. He took a tiffin carrier for carrying the meals, and a small waterskin for carrying water. He took a staff in his hand and started for Madina on foot. When he reached Madina he waited on Umar.
Umar enquired how did he do.
Umair said, "You can see for yourself."
Looking at his strange appearance, Umar enquired whether he had come all the way from Emessa to Madina on foot.
Umair answered the question in the affirmative.
Umar then asked why did he not hire an animal for the purposes of the journey.
Umair said that he had no money to pay for the hire. Some persons offered him a free ride in consideration of the office held by him, and such offers were rejected by him.
Umar then enquired about the revenues. Umair said that all the revenues were spent for the use of the people.
Umar wanted him to go back to Emessa, and ensure that in future the State share of the revenues was sent to Madina.
Umair said that he was not fit to be a Governor and that some one else should be appointed in his place.
Umar prevailed upon him to take back his resignation but Umair said that his decision was irrevocable.
Umair took leave of the Caliph, and retired to his village which was a few miles from Madina.
Umar was surprised at the behavior of Umair. He thought that Umair had affected such austerity to cover up the misappropriation of revenues. Umar deputed a man to go to the house of Umair and submit a report. Umar instructed, "Go to the house of Umair and there be his guest for three days. Watch him carefully. If you see any signs of opulence about him, furnish me a report. Take this bag of money. If you find that he is in straitened circumstances make him a gift of this money."
The man deputed by Umar went to the house of Umair and there lodged with him as his guest. There he found that Umair subsisted on bare barley bread and there was no sign of opulence about him. When the agent of Umar was about to depart he presented him the bag, of money Umair refused to accept the money.
When the report was submitted to Umar, he said that Umair was a great man.
Mugheera bin Shu'ba belonged to the tribe of Thaqeef of Taif. He was converted to Islam in 528 A.D. He took part in the battle of Yamama. He was a brave fighter. In one of the battles he lost an eye.
When Utba b. Ghazwan was the Governor of Basra, Mugheera was his deputy. In 639 A.D., Utba left for Mecca and Madina for performing Hajj and left Mugheera as the acting Governor of Basra.
At Madina, Utba waited on Umar and wanted to be relieved of the office of the Governor. Umar did not agree and Utba was required to return to Basra in national interest. On the way to Basra Utba fell off his camel and died from the fall. On the death of Utba, Umar confirmed Mugheera in his appointment as the Governor of Basra.
Mugheera b. Shu'ba was known for his weakness for women. He would marry women and would divorce them after some time to make room for more beautiful faces. In this way, he married no less than 80 wives, taking steps to ensure that at a time his wives were not more than four, the limit prescribed by the Shariah.
In those days at Basra, there was a beautiful woman Umm Jamil. She belonged to the same tribe as that of Mugheera. Her husband had died and she became notorious for loose morals. Mugheera was attracted by her and she visited him often.
Some Muslims in Basra became critical of the conduct of Mugheera. Among them was Abu Bakra Thaqeefi whose house across the street faced the house of Mugheera. One day a strong wind blew and the windows of the houses of Abu Bakra and Mugheera got opened through the force of the wind.
Abu Bakra saw through his window that in this house Mugheera was locked up in an uncompromising state with a woman. He thought that the woman was Umm Jamil. He had some friends with him, and they also saw Mugheera involved with a woman.
Abu Bakra Saqeefi wrote to Umar accusing Mugheera of adultery. The report was endorsed by four witnesses who had seen Mugheera in an uncompromising state with a woman.
Umar took prompt action. Umar appointed Abu Musa as the Governor of Basra and removed Mugheera from the office. Mugheera was summoned to Madina to face the trial. Abu Bakra and the other witnesses who had made the complaint were also summoned to Madina.
At the trial, Mugheera pleaded not guilty. His defense was that the woman in question was his wife and not Umm Jamil. With great indignation he averred that Abu Bakra and the men with him had no right to interfere in his privacy.
Abu Bakra on the other hand maintained that the woman was Umm Jamil. Three other witnesses corroborated the statement of Abu Bakra. The fourth witness Ziyad stated that he had seen the event, but he had not seen the face of the woman and did not know who she was. The other witnesses were cross examined, and it was found that there were some weak points in their evidence. They were asked whether the woman had her back or her face toward them. They said that she had their back to them. They tried to make out that even from her back she could be identified as Umm Jamil. They argued that the scandal of Mugheera and Umm Jamil was very common in Basra, and that lady was none else but Umm Jamil.
Under the Quranic law in order to press the charge of adultery definite evidence of four witnesses was necessary. As in this case the fourth witness was not sure of the identification of the woman, Mugheera was given the benefit of doubt and acquitted. Abu Bakra and his companions who had leveled the charge were punished with lashes for making a charge which could not be established.
In spite of his acquittal, Mugheera was not restored to the office of the Governor, and was detained in Madina. Mugheera made some show of indignation at having been treated shabbily in a case which was false. Umar called him to his presence and issued the warning:
"O Mugheera offer thanks to God that full evidence was not forthcoming against you, and you have been saved from disgrace by a technical flaw. Grounds of suspicion against you were very much there, and I have given you the benefit of doubt. Remember that if the evidence was complete, you would have been stoned to death."
Abdullah bin Qart was appointed by Umar as the Governor of Emessa. When Umar went on a tour of Syria, he enquired of the people of Emessa as to how was their Governor. The consensus of opinion was:
"He is a good man, but he has some pride and haughtiness about him, and he has constructed a double storeyed house for himself, while the houses of all other Muslims are single storeyed."
Umar deputed an agent to verify whether Abdullah had in fact built a double storeyed house. The agent was further instructed that if the house was in fact double storeyed the door on the upperstorey should be burnt as indicative of the displeasure of the Caliph. The agent found that a double storeyed house had actually been constructed. He, therefore, in compliance with the order of Umar had the door burnt. Abdullah watched the burning of the door with a sense of hurt pride. This was reported to Umar.
When Umar returned to Madina, he summoned Abdullah bin Qart to Madina. Having arrived at Madina, Abdullah bin Qart waited on Umar. Umar did not see him for three days and kept him waiting.
When after three days, Abdullah was admitted to the presence of Umar, Umar asked him whether he had built the second storey with his own money, or with money produced through unlawful means. Abdullah produced accounts to show that the house had been constructed with his own money. Umar showed his satisfaction on that count. Thereupon Abdullah behaved haughtily and asked "When the house was constructed with my own money, where lay the offence."
Umar cast a searching look at Abdullah and then said with some show of anger, "As a Governor of a Muslim state, you had to set a standard of equality among the Muslims. You have violated this principle by constructing a double storeyed house for yourself, thus placing yourself above the people."
Umar ordered Abdullah to see him at Harrah the following day. Harrah was the state pasture a few miles from Madina. When Abdullah appeared at Harrah, Umar ordered him, "Take off your costly clothes, and don this dress of a shepherd. Till further orders you have to look after the camels in this pasture". Abdullah reluctantly complied with the orders. Umar visited Harrah a fortnight later and asked Abdullah as to how he felt. Abdullah said, "I feel I repentant". Thereupon Umar said, "A Muslim Governor cannot be haughty or proud. If you are repentant I send you back as Governor. I hope you have learnt the lesson that a Governor is not superior to the people; he is only one of them, with great responsibilities."
Abdullah returned to Emessa a changed man.
Abu Musa Ashari was the Governor of Basra. He held the chief command of the operations in Persia. After the victory of Isfahan Abu Musa sent a delegation of sixty persons to Madina. A young man Zaba bin Mahsin waited on Abu Musa and desired that he should also be included in the delegation. Abu Musa regretted his inability as persons more deserving than Zaba had been included in the delegation. Zaba felt dissatisfied and he held out a threat of complaining to the Caliph. Abu Musa informed Umar of the threat of Zaba.
Zaba went to Madina and there lodged a complaint against Abu Musa. Umar recorded the complaint and summoned Abu Musa to Madina. When Abu Musa came to Madina, Umar showed him the list of charges against him and asked for his explanation.
The first charge was that out of the captives he had kept sixty captives for himself. Abu Musa explained that these captives had applied for being ransomed and he had kept them with him till they were ransomed. Umar held that the charge was not established.
The second charge was that he had paid one thousand dirhams to a poet. Abu Musa said that he had paid the amount out of his money. Abu Musa presented the accounts. Umar felt satisfied and this charge was dismissed.
The third charge was that Abu Musa had a maid Aquila who was given two shares. Abu Musa explained that there was something curious with the maid as her consumption of food was twice that of an average adult. As such she had to be given two shares.
The fourth charge was that Abu Musa had entrusted most of his work to a young man Ziyad. Abu Musa explained that he had done so in public interest as Ziyad was most intelligent.
Umar summoned Aquila and Ziyad to Madina. He verified that Aquila actually consumed food twice the normal food of an adult. By questioning Ziyad Umar felt convinced that Ziyad was highly intelligent and that it was in public interest to avail of his intelligence.
Abu Musa acquitted of the charges, and was asked to resume his office at Basra.
On another occasion a person came to Umar, and complained against Abu Musa. He said that at the time of the distribution of spoils Abu Musa gave him a smaller share. He protested and urged that he should be given the full share due to him. Thereupon Abu Musa felt annoyed, struck him with twenty lashes and had his hair shaded. Ajmar asked the complainant to return to Basr. and there level the charge against Abu Musa before a congregation. If the charge was established he could have his revenge from Musa. Iladrat Umar gave the complainant the necessary authority in this behalf. The complainant returned to Basra and there in the mosque leveled the charge against Abu Musa. There were many in the congregation who came forward to support the charge. Abu Musa turning to the congregation said, "You can have your revenge. You may beat me, or accept some money from me at your option.' Thereupon the complainant said, "Thou I feel satisfied and I forgive you in the name of Allah."
Saad bin Abi Waqas was the victor of Qadisiyya. He was a prominent companion and a maternal uncle of the Holy Prophet Umar appointed him as the Governor of Kufa. In spite of his very high position, Saad could not escape from the scrutiny of Umar and had to face a trial.
It was reported to Umar that Saad had constructed a palace, and had provided a door which could be shut at his option. The orders of Umar were that where the Governors sat to meet the people or attend to their complaints there should be no door so that all people could have access to the Governor at all times.
Umar deputed Muhammad bin Masalma to hold an enquiry on the spot and if he found that a door had in fact been constructed it should be burnt. Muhammad went to Kufa and found the door. Saad argued that as a market adjoined his house the door was necessary to shut down the noise. This explanation was not accepted and Muhammad burnt the door.
On the eve of the battle of Nihawand when Saad was commanding the operations Jarah bin Sanan Asadi lodged some complaints against Saad. It was a critical time when all attention had to be concentrated at mobilizing forces for confrontation with the Persians. In spite of critical situation, Umar decided to hold the enquiry. The complainant along with his witnesses was summoned to Madina. Saad was also summoned to Madina to face the trial.
The charges against Saad were:
Saad explained that he could not fight personally as there were boils on his body. Nevertheless he directed all field operations personally and God made the Muslims victorious. Umar accepted the explanation and absolved Saad of the charge.
As regards the charge of unfair distribution, Saad presented the entire record. Umar scrutinized the record and agreed that the distribution in all cases had been made according to merit. He was accordingly absolved of this charge.
Umar asked Saad as to how he offered prayers. Saad explained in detail how he offered his prayers. Umar was satisfied that there was nothing wrong with the way in which he offered his prayers.
Umar accordingly absolved Saad bin Waqas of all the charges against him. He said that he knew that the charges were baseless but he had held the enquiry to establish the integrity of Saad.
In the enquiry Jarah bin Sanan Asadi had lodged the complaint and Asama bin Qatada had given evidence against Saad. After the enquiry Saad cursed Jarah as well as Asama. His curse fell on these two persons. Jarah became blind and was afflicted with poverty. Asama was killed by his own people.
Amr bin Al Aas was the conqueror of Egypt. He enjoyed a high position but in spite of that he did not escape from the scrutiny of Umar.
It was reported to Umar that Amr had amassed much wealth. Umar wrote to Amr:
"It has come to my notice that you have amassed considerable wealth. Originally you were a man of ordinary means. Whence comes such wealth?"
Amr explained that he owned some land which brought good income. Moreover the salary that he got was ample which he could invest in business.
Umar was not satisfied with the explanation. He had half of the wealth of Amr confiscated to the State. Umar reprimanded Amr in the following terms:
"O ye Governors you have sat on the springs of wealth. Nothing stands in your way in amassing wealth. You people are playing with fire."
Amr bin Al Aas had a pulpit for himself in the Juma Mosque at Fustat. Umar rebuked Amr for that in the following terms:
"I cannot approve that the Muslims should sit low while you should sit above them. Do away with the pulpit."
Amr bin Al Aas complied with the orders.
Once on the occasion of the Hajj in the presence of all the Governors, Umar addressed the people:
"O ye people, I have not sent the Governors so that they may maltreat you or deprive you of your lawful possessions. I have sent them so that they may be a source of inspiration to you in leading life according to the Islamic way. If any Governor violates these terms, please inform me and would take action."
A man rose up from the congregation to enquire whether a Governor could on his own account beat a Muslim. Umar said that if any punishment was inflicted as a result of a judicial trial the man could be punished; otherwise not. The man complained that Amr bin Al Aas the Governor of Egypt had inflicted eighty stripes on him without any judicial trial. Amr said that he had beaten the man to enforce discipline Umar said that unless the man was judicially tried and found guilty no punishment could be inflicted on him. Umar asked the complainant that as Amr beat him without authority, he could strike him with a similar number of lashes to vindicate himself. Amr begged for Umar's permission to conciliate the man. Umar agreed, and Amr bin Al Aas conciliated the man after paying him a substantial amount.
On one occasion Amr called a man 'Munafiq'. The man came to Umar and complained. Umar gave the complainant the authority to return to Egypt, confront the Governor with the charge before the public and if it was established claim indemnity. The man returned to Egypt and confronted the Governor with the charge in the main mosque. Amr denied the charge but the man asked the men in the congregation to say on oath whether they had heard the Governor on such and such a day calling him 'Munafiq'. Many persons stood up to corroborate the statement. Thus cornered Amr said to the complainant, "You may take your revenge". Thereupon the complainant said, "Now I forgive you."
On another occasion an Egyptian complained before Umar that in a horse race his horse was leading but Muhammad the son of Amr beat him and had his own horse to be the winner. When the matter was brought to the notice of Amr he put the complainant in prison. The complainant escaped from the prison and came to Madina to lodge his complaint with Umar. Umar summoned Amr and his son to Madina. They were apprised of the complaint against them. They could not offer a satisfactory explanation. Umar ordered that the complainant should beat Muhammad the son of Amr in the same way as Muhammad had beat him. The complainant beat Muhammad the son of Amr accordingly and felt satisfied.
Harith bin Wahb Yashi was a prominent companion. Umar appointed him as a Governor of a province.
Umar had an intelligence service in each province and this department was under the direct control of Umar himself. This Department was required to report from time to time about the activities of the officers in the province.
The Intelligence Department reported to Umar that Harith bin Wahb Yashi the Governor had sold some camels for one hundred diners.
Umar summoned Harith bin Wahb Yashi to Madina and put him to trial.
He was asked whether it was a fact that lie had sold some camels for one hundred diners.
He admitted that he had sold some camels for this amount.
He was next asked, "From where did you get the camels".
He replied that these camels were the share of his spoils.
"What profit did you earn from the sale of the animals", was the next question put by Umar.
Harith bin Wahb said that he could not be sure as to the exact amount of the profit, but it might be fifty diners.
Thereupon Umar gave the verdict:
"I sent you as a Governor and not as a trader. Deposit the amount of the profit in the public treasury, and do not indulge in trading activities as long as you hold the office of the Governor."
Harith bin Wahb deposited the amount in the public treasury and submitted his resignation. He said:
"By God, I will not serve under you."
"By God, I will not appoint you as Governor again."
Qadama was the son of Mazaun who was one of the earliest converts to Islam. The Holy Prophet had great regard for Mazaun. A sister of Qadama, Zainab was the wife of Umar. Qadama was the maternal uncle of Abdullah and Hafsa.
Umar appointed Qadama as the Governor of Bahrain. Qadama was a good administrator and he ruled his province well Umar had his intelligence service in Bahrain and the Department reported that though Qadama was honest and a good administrator he was apt to indulge in drinking.
Once a companion Jarud came from Bahrain and he reported to Umar that Qadama had drunk and he had seen him in an unconscious state.
Umar asked whether he could produce a witness.
Jarud said that Abu Hurairah be summoned as a witness.
Umar called Abu Hurairah, and asked him whether he could give any evidence on the point whether Qadama had drunk.
Abu Hurairah said: "I did not see Qadama drinking, but I saw him in an unconscious state."
Umar summoned the wife of Qadama Hind bint Al-Walid who was a sister of Khalid and was related to Umar. Hind was asked to give evidence on the point whether her husband drank. She gave evidence against her husband.
Umar summoned Qadama from Bahrain and put him on trial.
When faced with the evidence of his own wife, Qadama did not choose to rebut the charge. He took the stand that drinking was not specifically prohibited.
Umar said, "Qadama I put you the question whether you regard drinking as lawful."
Qadama said, "I would not say that it is lawful, but I do maintain that drinking is not punishable."
Umar said, "You are not correct that drinking is not punishable. I will inflict on you the usual punishment. I cannot make any exception in your case on the ground that you are my brother."
Umar inflicted the punishment on Qadama. Qadama resigned the office and refused to be on speaking terms with Umar. He also divorced his wife who had given evidence against him.
When Umar went on Hajj he had a dream in which he was asked to reconcile with Qadama. Qadama happened to be in Mecca. Umar went to Qadama, and sought his conciliation. After some discussion both the sides decided to forgive and forget. Qadama said that he would not serve again under Umar but he promised that he would not I drink again.
Some time in 637 A.D., Khalid had a special bath in which he rubbed his body with a certain substance which had an ingredient of alcohol in it. This was reported to Umar, who reprimanded Khalid as follows:
"It has come to my notice that you have rubbed your body with alcohol. Lo Allah has made unlawful the substance of alcohol as well as its form, just as he has made unlawful both the form and substance of sin. He has made unlawful the touch of alcohol in a bath no less than the drinking of it. Let it not touch your body for it is unclean."
Khalid explained that the drug had been boiled before use and all alcohol therein had evaporated. Umar did not accept the explanation, but he chose to take no action.
After the battle of Marash in 638 A.D., Athath bin Qais a Kinda chief and poet wrote a panegyric in the praise of Khalid. Khalid gave the poet a reward of 10,000 dirhams. When this was reported to Umar, he commanded Abu Ubaida:
"Bring Khalid in front of the congregation, tie his hands with his turban and take off his cap. Ask him from which funds he gave such a high award to Athath, from his own pocket or from the spoils acquired in the expedition of Marash. If he confesses to having given the award from the spoils, he is guilty of misappropriation. If he claims that he gave the money from his own pocket, he is guilty of extravagance. In either case dismiss him and take over the charge from him."
The command of Umar was carried to Abu Ubaida by Bilal, the Muezzin. Bilal arrived at Emessa and handed over the Caliph's letter to Abu Ubaida for compliance. Khalid who was then at Qinissrin was summoned to Emessa.
At Emessa when Khalid called on Abu Ubaida, he was informed of the Caliph's charge against him. Abu Ubaid asked Khalid whether he was inclined to confess his guilt. Khalid wanted some time to consider the matter and this was allowed. Khalid consulted his sister who was at Emessa. She advised him against confession. Khalid accordingly told Abu Ubaida that as he was not guilty, there was nothing to be confessed.
A congregation of the Muslims was held in the principal mosque at Emessa. Here Bilal faced Khalid and enquired, "O Khalid, did you give Athath ten thousand dirhams from your own pocket or from the spoils?" Khalid was astounded, and for some time he was quiet. Bilal walked unto him; took off his turban and tied his hands therewith. Bilal said that he had done so in accordance with the orders of the Caliph. He repeated his question as to from where ten thousand dirhams had been paid to Athath. After some time Khalid found his voice and said that he had paid the money from his own pocket.
Abu Ubaida took over the charge from Khalid and instructed him to proceed to Madina to see the Caliph.
Khalid arrived at Madina as an embittered man. When Khalid met Umar, Umar paid him a tribute: "Khalid you have done what no other man has done; but it's not the people who do; it is Allah Who does".
Khalid protested against the treatment meted out to him. Umar said, "Whence comes all this wealth?"
Khalid said, that it was the share of his spoils Khalid estimated that his wealth did not exceed 60,000 dirhams. He offered, "Whatever exceeds 60,000 dirhams is yours."
Umar had the possessions of Khalid checked and evaluated. The assessment worked out to 80,000 dirhams. Umar accordingly confiscated Khalid's possessions valued at Rs. 20,OOO. After this transaction, Umar said to Khalid:
"That settles the case. I have no more charge against you. I assure you that you are honorable in my eyes' and you are dear to me. After this day you will have no further cause of complaint against me."
Khalid felt bitter. After staying in Madina for a few days, Khalid left for Syria. Many people gathered to bid farewell to the General. The people felt that Khalid the hero of their dreams had been treated with injustice.
After Khalid had left, the people of Madina waited on Umar and wanted him to return to Khalid his property which had been confiscated. Umar did not accept the appeal He said, "I do not trade with what belongs to Allah and the Muslims". The issues which agitated the public mind were: Whether Umar had taken such drastic action because of his personal ill will against Khalid or whether Khalid was really dishonest. Umar clarified:
"I have not dismissed Khalid because of my anger or personal ill will against him. I have not dismissed Khalid because he was dishonest. I have dismissed him because the people glorified him and were misled. I feared that the people would rely on him. I want the people to know that it is Allah Who does all things; and that there should be no wavering in the faith of the people in Allah by attributing success in any field to any human being."
Ayad bin Ghanam was the conqueror of the Jazira, the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates in the upper part of Iraq. He served as the Governor of Jazira for some time. Later he was transferred to Egypt.
One day a Bedouin came to Umar and said, "Umar, beware of the fire of hell."
Umar enquired what was the matter.
The Bedouin said, "You have enjoined upon your Governors to lead a simple life and be accessible to the people at all times. But do you know that Ayad your Governor of Egypt is living a luxurious life and he is not accessible to the people."
Umar noted the complaint and assured the complainant that suitable action would be taken thereon. He deputed an agent to Egypt to verify the complaint. He instructed further that if the complaint was correct, Ayad should be summoned to Madina.
On reaching Egypt the agent deputed by Umar felt satisfied that the Governor dressed himself in fine clothes, and that he was not easily accessible to the public. The emissary of Umar accordingly summoned Ayad to Madina.
When Ayad was presented to Umar, the latter could not recognize him. When he was told that he was in fact Ayad, he said:
"When I sent you as Governor you were neither so white nor so fat as you are now. Prima facie you have abused your position."
Umar asked him to take off his fine clothes, wear the dress of a shepherd and look after the goats of the Baitul Mal in the State pasture. Iyad complied with the order. A few days later Umar went to the State pasture and enquired of Ayad as to how he felt. Iyad said, "My father was a shepherd, and I feel no humiliation in following in the footsteps of my father."
Thereupon Umar said, "If that is so, it means that your conscience is not guilty. I have checked your accounts and these have been found in order. You are not corrupt but you have indulged in luxury. You became arrogant because of the office held by you. I hope you are now rid of your pride and arrogance. What sort of man will you be if I send you back to your office."
Ayad said, "I have no desire for the office, but if that is your command, I will do as you ordain."
Umar said, "That is well said. I order you to resume charge as the Governor of Egypt. Dress yourself as a simple man and avoid wearing Egyptian finery. Let there be no guard at your door, and see that you are accessible to the people at all times."
Ayad said, "The orders of the Caliph still be complied with strictly."
Ayad returned to Egypt, a changed man. He strictly complied with the orders of Umar both in letter and spirit.
With the departure of Khalid to Syria there was a lull in fighting on the Iraq front. Roughly the position was that the Persians held the territory to the east of the Tigris while the Muslims held the territory to the west of the Euphrates. The position about the territory between the two rivers known as the "Suwad" was somewhat obscure. It was no man's land. Sometimes parts thereof were occupied by the Persians and sometime by the Muslims. The people of the region thus kept shifting their loyalties, sometimes to the Persians and sometimes to the Muslims.
In July 634 a battle was fought between the Persians and the Muslims in the 'Suwad', somewhere near ancient Babylon. The Persians were under the impression that with the departure of Khalid and a diminution in the strength of the Muslim forces, it would be easy for them to defeat the Muslims. The battle of Babylon belied these hopes. Muthanna rose to the occasion, and after a violent battle the Persians were defeated.
Soon after there was a revolution in Persia. The Persian king was killed, and a lady Puran Dukht ascended the throne of Persia. The veteran General Rustam became the Commander-in-Chief of the Persian forces and he undertook to drive away the uncouth Arabs from the fertile land of Iraq.
Anticipating a Persian offensive on a larger scale under the new set up Muthanna felt that the Muslims should get ready for such a war, and for that more reinforcements were needed. In the third week of August 634 Muthanna went personally to Madina to get reinforcements for the Iraq front.
When Muthanna reached Madina, the Caliph Abu Bakr lay on the death bed. Muthanna waited on the dying Caliph, and apprised him of the situation in Iraq. He stated that the Persians were going to launch a big offensive, and that the Muslim forces in Iraq were too inadequate to meet the challenge. He made a strong plea for further reinforcements.
Abu Bakr though dying listened to Muthanna very carefully. He then sent for Umar the Caliph designate and when he came addressed him thus:
"Listen O Umar to what I say to you and act upon my words. I hope to die this very day and when I am dead let not the evening come upon you before you have exhorted the people to go with Muthanna. And if I survive till nightfall, let not the morning come before you have exhorted the people to go with Muthanna."
Ahu Bakr died that night, the 21st of August 634. He was buried the same night. After the funeral prayers, Umar exhorted the assembled Muslims to join Muthanna in the Iraq campaign.
On the morning of 22nd August the Muslims assembled to take the oath of allegiance to the new Caliph. After the ceremony was over Umar once again exhorted the Muslims to volunteer themselves for war on the Iraq front. Again there was no response. The Muslims were ready to join war in Syria but they hesitated in participating in a campaign against the Persians in Iraq. Although the Persians had been defeated in some campaigns, they were still held in awe, and the Muslims felt that the Persians were a hard nut to crack.
In his heart of hearts, Umar felt much upset at this want of response from the Muslims. He decided that whosoever was the first to offer his services for fighting on the Iraq front would be made the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces in Iraq.
On the 23rd August, the Muslims were once again exhorted to Jihad in Iraq. Seeing the hesitation of the people, Muthanna took up the stage, and spoke eloquently of the need of pushing the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion. He said:
"Ye Muslims, listen to me! You should have no fear of the Persians. I have tested the courage of the fire worshippers and discovered that they are not at home on the battle-field. Years of luxury have made them easy going, and it would not be difficult for us to overpower them. We have already conquered most of the important districts of Iraq, and humiliated the Persians. With a little more effort and with the help of God we can become the masters of the whole of Iraq. It is incumbent on us to take the message of Allah and His Messenger to these fire worshippers and offer them the true faith of Islam."
Then Umar delivered a thrilling speech highlighting the mission of Islam. That appeared to move the audience. Then the Caliph asked for volunteers. Abu Ubaid the chief of the clan of Thaqafi rose up to offer his name. Umar welcomed the offer and said, "Abu Ubaid, I appoint you as the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces in Iraq.
Then other people offered their names. By 25th August over 1,000 Muslims were ready to proceed to the Iraq front. Thereupon Muthanna left for Iraq. Abu Ubaid and his contingent were to follow.
Abu Ubaid was a man of great courage and dash, but he had no experience of actual fighting in any war. Umar was advised that for such an important campaign some veteran companion of the Holy Prophet seasoned in war should be appointed to lead the campaign.
"The Companions are entitled to such precedence because of their courage and love for Jihad. Here I have been giving the call to Jihad ever since we buried Abu Bakr, and I have had no response from the companions. Now that a young man who is not a companion has given the dead, I am determined to appoint him as the Commander-in-Chief. The Companions have lost this precedence by their own fault, and they should serve under a man who has given a greater show of courage."
Umar however appointed a few Companions as the advisers of Abu Ubaid. Abu Ubaid was instructed by the Caliph that he should act on the advice of these advisers.
After a few days when the necessary preparations had been made Abu Ubaid left Madina with a force of one thousand fighting men. He was further instructed that as he proceeded to Iraq he should recruit more fighting men from the tribes on the way.