Islamic Biography- Biography of the Companions- The 4 Rightly- Guided Khaliphs- Umar bin Al-Khattab- Lesson (3- 7): His Justice and his Ongoing Self-reckoning.


The exploits of the rightly-guided Khalifah Umar Ibn Al-Khattab:

 Dear brother, this is the third lecture of the biography of our Master Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. Today, we will talk about his incomparable justice in the Islamic history. The piety of this eminent companion was beyond imagination, for he used to be strict in reckoning himself, and he could not feel his closeness to Allah unless he was very far from any doubtful matter.

 This notable companion is known by his many exalted stances. During the famine year, he forbid himself from eating well for many months till his stomach gurgled (out of hunger), so he spoke with his stomach saying, "Gurgle or not, I swear to Allah I will not taste meat till all Muslim children become full from eating it." You might have heard previously the stories I am about to tell you, but keep in mind that mentioning these stories is not the purpose of this lecture, but rather analyzing them (in order to know the morals) is what matters.

 In another narration, he started cooking his food with oil instead of butter, because it became very expensive and he wanted to treat himself as equal to the other Muslims, so he said to his stomach, "You will get used to eat food made with oil as long as butter is sold in ounces (butter was rarely found during the famine)."

A Muslim should treat other Muslims the way he treats himself:

 If the Muslim treats other people the same way he treats himself, he will be exalted and people will love him. Man should apply this rule in his house, so that he will never eat better or more than what his wife and his children eat. If the father treats his children as he treats himself, if the mother treats her daughters as she treats herself and if the oldest brother treats his young siblings as he treats himself, sincere affection will spread amongst the members of the family. By doing this, the believer will build his life on selflessness. There are two rules: Either you favor yourself over your brother, or you favor him over yourself, and the formal situation reflects your selfishness, while the latter one reflects your selflessness. Allah the Almighty says:

﴾And give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that.﴿

[Al-Hashr, 09]

 Once the Prophet PBUH held two sticks of Miswak; one of them was straight and the other was crooked, so he gave the straight to one of his companions and kept the crooked for himself. This indicates that the believer's conducts are based on selflessness not selfishness which is one of the characteristics of the people of the worldly life, those who are disconnected from Allah and those who fall short in fulfilling their duties. The believer feels happy upon giving, whereas the non-believer feels happy upon taking.

Showing your fellow Muslim brother something he cannot afford is forbidden:

 The grown up man has the ability to endure unlike the little kid who cannot, so you can notice how the child longs for everything and asks his father to buy him everything, better yet he insists on eating the food he likes and buys whatever he needs. The Prophet PBUH taught us in his Prophetic Sunnah:

((Whenever the Prophet PBUH is given the first crop of any fruit, he used to kiss it as a gesture of gratefulness to Allah the Almighty.))

[Mentioned in the relic]

 Kissing the fruits indicates two meanings: the first one is a gesture of thanking Allah Who allows us to live till we witness the reaping of this fruit and have the blessing of eating it. Nowadays, the green houses allow us to have any fruit any time of the year, so things are different from the past, but basically, every fruit reaps at a certain time of the year. Hence, the first meaning is to be grateful to Allah the Almighty Who subjugated the fruits to mankind and this is but a grace from Allah. The second meaning is honoring the youngest boy in the assembly by favoring him over the other attendants and giving him that fruit, since the little kid yearns to have delicious fruit when they see it.

 We deduce from the Hadith this noble behavior: If your son is at school or the kindergarten and you are rich, you should not give your son a very expensive fruit that cannot be afforded by the fathers of other students, because they will long to eat it and feel sad upon not being able to. Thus, you should only give your son the fruit that is affordable by other students. It is narrated that the Prophet PBUH said:

((When you buy fruit, gift some to him (your neighbor), and if you do not want to do so, carry it [into the house] secretly …))

[Al-Baihaqi in Shua'b Al-Iman]

 Our pious ancestors used to put the fruits in a basket and cover it with a cloth, but at present, it is put in a transparent plastic bag, which is a problem (for the poor can see through the bag and long for the fruit). It is narrated that the Prophet PBUH said:

((When you buy fruit, gift some to him (your neighbor), and if you do not want to do so, carry it [into the house] secretly and do not let your child come outside with it, lest the feelings of his children become hurt, and further, (you take care that) the smell of your cooking pot does not cause sorrow to him (and his children) except that you send some of it (the food) to him.))

[Al-Baihaqi in Shua'b Al-Iman]

 This Hadith teaches us good manners.

A real example from our era about altruism:

  The life of the believer is based on altruism not selfishness and on giving not on taking, and the sincere believer is keen on standing on equal footing with the weak and common people. A man told me about how he behaved once when the entire country was in a crisis with regard to the availability of some sorts of fruits among which was orange in winter. It was very expensive and rare, but this man swore to me that although he could have bought whatever he wanted of that fruit, he shared other people their behavior in cutting down on it. Thus, a long time passed and he did not buy any, better yet, he persuaded his children to act like other people, and he convinced them to eat whatever people can offered and refrain from eating whatever people cannot. When man shares sh3er their feeling this is but rare noble behavior.

An example from our era about selfishness:

 Someone was at the vegetable market and he bought 10 kilograms of truffles, and although the kilo of which cost at that time was 600 Liras, he paid 6000 Liras, while another man was looking at him longing to have even 5 liras. Showing people what you own might make you subject of envy and the envious eye is capable of putting the camel in a pot (for cooking). Allah the Almighty says:

﴾"And from the evil of the envier when he envies." ﴿

[Al-Falaq, 5]

 Also, Allah the Almighty says:

﴾Say: "I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind* "The King of mankind* "The Ilah (God) of mankind* "From the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one's heart after one remembers Allah),﴿

[An-Naas, 1-4]

 Hence, if man shows what he owns, goes forth before people in his pomp, showcases the graces he is given by Allah, brags about them and looks haughtily down on people, he might be disciplined by Allah the same way Allah disciplined Qarun:

﴾So he went forth before his people in his pomp.﴿

[Al-Qasas, 79]

 Allah the Almighty says:

﴾So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place.﴿

[Al-Qasas, 81]

 Do not endear the worldly life to people and do not plant the seeds of loving it in their hearts by showing them the precious things you own, the high income you have, the trips you take and the lavish expenses you pay in these trips, for what is the point of such talks? The believer does not do so, but rather he shares people their conditions. This great Khalifah used to say, "How can you care about Muslims if you do not eat the same food they eat." The one, who eats what people eat, drinks what people drink, endure the difficulties they endure and suffer the same way they suffer, is really concerned about people. Most of the stories show us how this great companion treated himself as equal to the weakest and poorest people.

Umar's stance towards the ruler of Azerbaijan:

 When a messenger from Azerbaijan (this country was at that time under Umar's ruling) came to see Umar (the giant of Islam), he hated to knock at his door at night, so the messenger headed to the Masjid where he found a man praying and crying while he was supplicating, "O Lord, did you accept my repent, so I can congratulate myself, or did you reject it so I should feel sorry for it?"The messenger asked, "Who are you, may Allah have mercy on you?" to which Umar answered, "I am Umar" taken by surprise the man said, "Glory be to Allah, you are the Leader of Believers, praying right here and I hated to knock at your door because it is too late. O Leader of Believers, do you not go to sleep?" To which Umar said, "If I slept all night, I would lose myself in front of my Lord, and if I slept all day, I would neglect my citizens' affairs." This is the meaning of the following Hadith:

((There are actions for Allah in the night which are not accepted to be done in the day, and actions for Allah during the day which are not accepted to be done in the night.))

 This is the balance. It is deemed important to have a balance between being good to people and establishing a connection with Allah. The majority of people fail to have this balance, so they devote themselves to good deeds and forget their acts of worship, their laudations and the connection hey have to establish with Allah, or they devote themselves to the acts of worship, and they forget offering good deeds to sh3er. Hence, finding a balance is important. The companions were very devoted religious men during the night and knights during the day.

 When it was the time for Fajr, our master Umar led Muslims in Salah and invited his visitor (the one from Azerbaijan) to his house, then he said to his wife, "Umm Abdullah, what food do you have?" She answered, "I swear to Allah what we have is only bread and salt (given even the poor Muslims at that time were able to eat meat)." He said, "Bring it over." So he ate and drank and said, "Praise be to Allah who fed us till we are full and gave us water till we are imbibed." The guest regretted choosing Umar's food.

 The guest said "I have a present sent to you from your governor (who happened to be Utbah bin Farqad) there." Umar asked, "What is the present?" "It is a box of sweets", the messenger answered. Umar opened the box and tasted one piece then he asked again, "Can all the people afford to have this at their homes?" To which the messenger answered, "No this is for the special (rich) people", so Umar took the bite out of his mouth, closed the box and said to the man, "Where is your camel? Take the present and head back to Utbah and say to him that Umar asks you to fear Allah and eat the same food Muslims eat."

Being rigid on his family members:

 Umar kept his family's activities under tight scrutiny in case they would be seen to be abusing their status because of their relationship to Umar. Moreover, if they committed whatever he forbade Muslims from, he would double their punishment. Whenever he ordered something, enjoined a law or forbade a matter, he would gather his family and address them saying, "People will now look at you just as bird looks at meat. If you come to grab it, they will grab with you, and if you refrain, they refrain. If I issue an order prohibiting something on people, then you must be the first to refrain from it. By Allah, if any one of you is brought to me, having done what I have ordered people to refrain from, I will double his punishment because of his relation to me, so it is all up to you."

 A store owner might treat his son differently from his worker, so if the latter errs even slightly, he will punish him severely, whereas he goes soft on his son if he errs. This worker sees this discrimination with his own eye, and this unjust behavior leaves bitter feelings. Hence, the true believer should treat the closest person to him in the same manner he treats the farthest person from him.

 Man is so keen on his own son to such an extent that he does not allow him to carry any heavy objects, lest he hurts his back, but why does he ask his worker to carry heavy objects which are beyond his capacity? The most evil trait is to be full of contradictions, and such a person is degraded by believers. Pay heed, before setting any standards and before following any method, make sure that you apply them to yourself, and that you treat people with equal standards. Do you think you will be considered a true believer if the standards you treat yourself according to are different from the ones according to which you treat people?

 The majority of people are prey to such contradictions, for they treat for example their daughter better than the way they treat their daughter in law; while they are very merciful and forbearing to their daughter, they are harsh and tough on their daughter in law and This is contradictory behavior. As for Umar, being a relative to him became a curse not a blessing, because it might cause double punishment to the person if he erred.

Umar's rigidity on his family is an application of the following Ayah:

 Umar's treatment to his household reminds us of the following Ayah:

﴾O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.﴿

[Al-Ahzab, 32]

﴾O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits an open illegal sexual intercourse, the torment for her will be doubled, and that is ever easy for Allah.﴿

[Al-Ahzab, 30]

 The wife who obeys her Lord and keeps her duty to Allah and his Messenger PBUH, will have a double reward, for the role model will receive double of everything. Hence, when man does right, he will be rewarded twice, but if he errs, he will receive double punishment. Remember when you are in charge of sh3er, regardless your position; whether you are a father, a teacher or a corporal on only five troopers, or you occupy a position that is lower than a corporal, you are in a leading position, and so your rewards upon doing good will be doubled, and so is your punishment if you err.

The uprightness of the rightly-guided Khalifah towards his people and his family:

  One day he saw fat camels for sale in the market. Upon inquiry he was told that it belonged to Abdullah, his son. So he went to him and asked how the camels became so fat. Abdullah explained that before he purchased it, it was so thin so he put it in the government grazing ground where it became healthy. Then Umar said to his son, "People might say, 'Let these camels eat more as they belong to the Khalifah's son, let them drink more as they belong to the Khalifah's son, till they got fat.' You son of the Khalifah, do you know why they are fat? That is because you are my son." Then, he ordered him to sell them and take only his capital money and give the rest to the Muslims' treasury (exchequer). He feared Allah that his son might be treated in a better manner than sh3er just because he was the son of the Leader of Believers, so they might have given him more than he deserved or might have honored him more than sh3er. Can you notice how great his honesty is?

 Once a great deal of money from different states arrived to Madinah, so his daughter, who was the Prophet's wife, Hafsa, came to him to claim her share in the war-booty on account of her special double status, "Zuwalqarba" (being his kin). Umar disappointed her by saying, "You will have your share in my portion, not in the war booty. It is sad that you tried to hoodwink your own father." Who taught him to behave like that? He learned that from the Prophet PBUH when one day Ali was aware that the Prophet had some servants, and he advised Fatimah to ask the Prophet for one of his servants. Fatimah went, but she was unable to ask. Finally Ali went with Fatimah to the Prophet's house. The Prophet did not accept their request, saying

((There are many orphans (starved), so I must sell these servants to feed them.))

[Mentioned in relic]

 Umar intended once to write down the names of the companions, so that they can receive their portions of the wars' money and treasures according to their positions and precedence in Islam. He said, "Put Umar and his kin there"; he put his name at the end of the list for he started with Banu Hashim the kin of the Prophet PBUH, then the family of Abu Bakr, and then his family. His kin (Banu Adi) came to him begging to put their names on top of the list in order to get larger portion, so they said to him, "Are we not the tribe of the Leader of Believers?" He answered, "Do you want to earn more money because of my position? Do you want me to give you my good deeds as a gift? By Allah, I will not move your names from its place on the list even if you were the last on it though you are my kin and relatives."

His loyalty to his position as a Khalifah:

  This companion said to someone who suggested to appoint his son as a Khalifah after him, "The Prophet PBUH said, 'Whoever becomes in change and appoints someone to lead Muslims although he knows that there is someone else who is more qualified than him, and who is more knowledgeable than him of Allah's Book and the Prophetic Sunnah, betrays Allah, His Messenger PBUH and all Muslims."In fact this should be applied in our daily life, so even if you are a teacher and you appoint a student as a monitor in the classroom because he is a relative of yours, while there is another student who is more qualified for the position, you betray the trust.

 Our Master Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, tested one of the rulers. He asked him, "What will you do if one of your people steals something? He said, "I will cut off his hand." Then Umar said, "If one of your people comes to me hungry or unemployed, I will cut off yours. Almighty Allah appointed us leaders to cover the Awrat (the intimate parts) of people, to provide them with crafts and to satisfy their needs. If we guarantee them all these things, they will be grateful to us. These hands were created to work, so if they do not find jobs through which they obey Allah, they will look for jobs that make them disobey Him. Let them be busy with obeying Allah, otherwise they will make you busy with their sins."

His mercy towards his people:

 Once, he was told by some of his companions that people fear his severity. He said, "I was told that people fear my severity and dread my strictness, and they might say that Umar was as such while the Prophet PBUH was alive, and he was as such when Abu Bakr ruled Muslims and was more lenient than him, so how things would become since he is now the Leader of Believers?" This became a problem to people. Then he continued, "Those who said so are right, for I used to be means of aid at the disposal of the Prophet PBUH and a servant to him, and no one was more merciful or tender than the Prophet PBUH, as Allah describes him by saying, "for the believers (He is) full of pity, kind, and merciful."

[At-Taubah, 128]

 Umar went on saying, "I was a sword in the Prophet's hand PBUH, and he drew this sword against his enemies and sheathed it as he pleased, and I kept being as such with him till he died pleased with me, and I thank Allah a lot for that, and I am happy about it." He was a means of power in the hand of the Prophet PBUH, so either he used this power or not, given the Prophet was merciful while Umar was strict. He said, "Then Abu Bakr took over the leadership of Muslims, and no one can deny his mercy, leniency and tenderness, and I was also his servant and means of aid at his disposal trying my best to mix my strictness with his mercy, and I was his sword which he drew whenever he needed it and sheathed it whenever he did not. I kept being with him as such till he died pleased with me, and I thank Allah for that and I am happy about it." His words are crystal clear. He said, "Then I was appointed as the Leader of Believers, O people, so be aware that my strictness will be doubled on oppressors and transgressors, but as for those who are the people of peace, moderation and religion, I will become more lenient on them than they are to one another." This makes us understand, dear brother, that he was merciful and lenient with believers, but he was strict and severe on oppressors.

Strictness sometimes is mercy:

 This strictness is indicated in the Quran when Allah says:

﴾Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah﴿

[An-Nur, 02]

 Leniency in the wrong time and place and with the wrong people is very harmful, so if someone killed another person, he must be killed (there is no room for leniency in such a case). Allah says:

﴾And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-Qisas (the Law of Equality in punishment), O men of understanding, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).﴿

[Al-Baqarah, 179]

 If the married person committed adultery, he should be stoned to death, but if he is single he should be whipped. Allah says:

﴾Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah﴿

[An-Nur, 02]

 As for the governor, if he is told of a violation, he should not let it go unpunished. The Prophet PBUH said:

((If Muslims' leader forgives whoever violates Allah's Shari'ah, may Allah never forgive him.))

[Mentioned in relic]

 Forgiving a criminal or the one who spreads mischief on earth is not an exalted manner, but rather it reflects weakness, and it could be means that help mischief spread among people.

The method Umar followed was explained in the Khutbah of Khilafah:

 Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "O people, you have some rights on me which you can always claim. One of your rights is that if anyone of you comes to me with a claim, he should leave satisfied. Another of your rights is that you can demand that I take nothing unjustly from the revenues of the State." This means that I will not take any of your money but that which should be taken according to the law. "..and I shall increase your portions of money and your livelihood expenses."This means that he will help Muslims to make ends meet. "You can also demand that I fortify your frontiers and do not put you in danger." Because man's life is precious, and man is the gist of life, so putting his life in danger is a betrayal to Allah and to His Messenger PBUH. Umar went on saying, "It is also your right that if you go to a battle I should look after your families as a father would do while you are away. O people, remain conscious of Allah, forgive me my faults and help me in my task. Assist me in enforcing what is good and forbidding what is evil. Advise me regarding the obligations that have been imposed upon me by Allah."
  Our Master, Umar bin Abdul Aziz, may Allah be pleased with him, once asked Umar bin Muzahem, who was one of the greatest men "O Umar, never leave me alone, and when you see that I am misguided or going astray, grab me from my clothes, bring me back to my senses and say, 'O Umar, fear Allah, for you will die one day'." That was his only job.

The compensation allocated by Umar upon every newborn Muslim:

 He once stood guard in the night with Abdul Rahman bin Awf to watch over some travelers. Most of night passed, and it was about the last part of it when Umar heard the weeping of a child so he went towards him and told his mother, "Fear Allah and be good to your child", and he went back to his place. He heard the child crying again and told his mother the same thing and went back to his place. By the end of the night he heard him crying again so he told his mother, "You are a bad mother; your child did not sleep all night." So she said, "I am trying to wean him but he refuses." He said, "Why are you doing that?" She said, "Because Umar does not prescribe child support except for children who are already weaned." He said, "How old is he?" She said, "Such and such." He said, "No! Do not hurry him."

 It is reported in his biography that he hit his forehead and said, "Misery is for Umar. He has killed Muslim children." He considered himself as a killer, because he cut short this baby's breastfeeding, so that his mother would be paid the support for him. He sent a caller to announce that a share of the treasury be prescribed for every Muslim child from birth. He entered the Masjid to pray with his companions, he cried to the extent that no one could understand what he was reciting, and he used to say, "O Lord, did you accept my repentance, so I would congratulate myself, or you rejected it so I would feel sorry for it."

You should take Umar as an example to follow:

 This great companion is known for his many exalted stances which can draw guidelines for us to follow. Each time man follows the steps of this companion whether in his house or at work where he is a manager under whom employees work, he should be humble towards them and just, and he should treat them according to the same standards he adopts in treating himself, only then, he will gain their love, and when they love him, they will love the religion he embraces; they will love Islam, and they will love his method in life. By such conducts Islam will spread, for Islam does not spread by words, but rather it spreads by setting good examples and by applying it entirely.

 Dear brother, besides the pleasure of reading these stories, I meant to make them a method that should be applied in your daily life.