Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Chapter 9 : Model In Leadership

True Islamic rule adhering strictly to the Quran and Hadith happen only to a few leader in history. The reign usually last only for a short period of a few years. Such is the way of Allah (sunnatullah). The truth does not last long. Like a natural flower, it blooms for a short while then it withers. Unlike artificial or plastic flowers, they last considerably longer.

Allah creates the model government occasionally, so that humans can appreciate the difference between true and false leadership. So that mankind can understand what is falsehood and what is the truth. So that mankind admit and acknowledge their weaknesses and realize the greatness of his God. The model Islamic government is in fact the rule of Allah. Allah directly intervenes in all affairs of the government. Firstly Allah brings forth a man as His representative, and then gives him knowledge. Allah provides his sustenance, schedules his every move, deceives his enemies, and makes success of everything that he does. Until a system of life that is peaceful, prosperous and blessed with the forgiveness of Allah is finally born.

This was what happened in the times of the Prophet (pbuh), and later continued by the four caliph (Khulafaur Rashidin) – Sayidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq, Sayidina Umar Al Khattab, Sayidina Usman Ibnu Affan and Sayidina Ali bin Abi Talib. Their total reigns only span for a period of around 30 years i.e. in the early part of the years of hijriah. After 100 years later or at the early part of the second century hijriah, Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz came to power, followed by Imam Syafie as the reformer (mujaddid) of the third century and the leader of the group (toifah) in his era.

And 600 years later, came Muhammad Al-Fateh who freed Constantinople from the Christians, as fore mentioned by the Hadith of the Prophet. Prior to that, came Salehuddin Al Ayubi, who took back Baitul Maqdis from the Christians. All of them brought a model government at the level of ummah (universally) and toifah (group), especially the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet truly represented Allah to lead mankind to the truth. The Prophet’s efforts gave birth to a small Islamic society and a small Islamic government, exactly as Allah wanted it. In reality, that is the government that Allah Himself created as the best example of a nation and society to be followed and emulated by every Islamic leader in the world. The passing away of the Prophet meant that he had completed his duties to lead and rule his followers. Sayidina Abu Bakar then took over and continued with the duties. Sayidina Umar Al Khattab in his reign copied and emulated the Prophet’s methods in his administration. This went on and after the era of the Caliphs (Khulafaur Rashidin), Islamic rulers were no longer able to imitate the model of a just and good government. Generations following the demise of Sayidina Ali did not qualify and did not have the prerequisites to uphold a just rule. Not until Allah brings forth a leader and reformer (mujaddid) at the early part of every 100 hijriah years or every hijriah century.

The Prophet said:

Meaning: “Allah will send to mankind at the early part of every century (every 100 years) a reformer who renews the affairs of His religion.” (Narrated by Abu Daud)

In ways befitting a reformer, Allah Himself educates and looks after him; providing him sustenance, knowledge, intelligence and others until a truly righteous and just government is established at the hands of the reformer. They are able to execute Islam to the exact demands of the Quran and Sunnah in their era. In fact what they bring are actual reforms that shocks and surprises the people of their time, because what the reformers struggle to uphold is way beyond the people’s thoughts and expectations. This is because reformers truly are individuals who are promised by Allah. The above Hadith is the proof of this statement that: Reformers are God’s promised leaders.

Other than reformers, there are no indications or stories about there being any individual who was successful in establishing a righteous and just government or who became a good leader. Most leaders wanted to be good and just but because of numerous and colossal obstacles, trials and problems, none were able to endure except only those who were promised by God.

I did not say this to discourage the fighters of Islam and who truly struggle to uphold Islam. Not at all because to struggle for Islam is demanded of every Muslim. Allah gives big rewards to those who struggle to uphold His religion. To die in the cause is to die a martyr. I say this because the fighters of Islam today have big dreams and ambitions but they have limited capability and potential. They talk about global issues and the Islamic Nation, but they themselves as individuals, their families, their jamaah or party or their movement still have a lot to be desired and are thoroughly lacking. They encourage their followers to daydream and to build castles in the sky. Whereas their effort, sacrifice, energy, unity and spirit are weak and minimal. Observers ridicule their struggle, and they are not respected, because they do not have the charisma.

A reformer as a leader appointed by Allah does not ask to be a ruler nor does he clamour for it. He understands that the position of a leader should not be contested or fought for. For them, suffice if they can be in the position to advise the ruler. While he is very fearful and reluctant to hold power, the people however want his leadership. And so, with God’s will and choice, power is given to him. It all starts when people are attracted to his leadership. So, he accumulates followers and a jamaah is formed. The jamaah becames charismatic and their leadership are admired. In such a situation, although they do not ask for power but Allah still gives it to them. If not at the level of a nation, at least at the level of a group or jamaah.

This is the outcome of a righteous and just administration of a good leader. Other than this, people who become leaders by way of democracy and elections generally are incapable of being righteous and just or to become a good leader even if he has a burning desire to do so. That is why I reminded the fighters of Islam not to daydream and to entertain idle thoughts. If we feel we are not Allah’s promised leader, then suffice that we struggle in a scale suitable and commensurate to us. Take steps to seriously improve ourselves, our families, our community and our jamaah. If this is successful, then it is significant enough for us. What is the use of getting power if Islam cannot be upheld? People will lose faith in us. It is better just to be an adviser to the ruler. That would be the wiser choice.

This was what Imam Syafie did. When he was offered to be the ruler, he declined. The same thing happened when Imam Ahmad was asked to assume power. He also declined. Both did not want to be rulers but they advised the rulers to be just and righteous. People with taqwa truly fear God in the affairs of leadership. What is clear is that they do not fight or contest for it.

To be just and righteous in governing is not easy. While a leader who is not just cannot escape from the fires of Hell. Historically, there were only a few righteous and just rulers who are eligible to go to Heaven. The rest of them are destined for Hell God forbid. Would you be happy if being a ruler may open the doors of Hell to you? Surely not. For that reason, you should be fearful to Allah if you are nominated to be a leader. Because generally, leaders fail to carry out their duties. Only a few succeed.

To lead or to rule is actually very difficult and demanding. It is not logical for it to be contested. If there is someone else who could lead and rule better, we should be grateful. As an analogy, when we need to use coconuts, do we want to be the one to climb the coconut tree to get the coconuts? Of course not. If someone else could do it, we would be relieved. And so it is, to be a just and righteous leader in reality is far more difficult than climbing a coconut tree. We should be happy if someone else can do it for us. What do you think? Below I will list some examples of just and righteous rulers, the personalities of whom are very difficult to attain. Hopefully we can emulate them if we really want to lead the muslim ummah.

Sayidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq, after being appointed as Caliph

1. Once Sayidina Abu Bakar approached Usamah, who was then the war commander. Usamah, then riding a horse, was bashful and intended to dismount and offer the Caliph to ride his horse. With a hand gesture, Sayidina Abu Bakar declined and said, “By Allah, you cannot dismount and I will not mount up. And what is wrong with my feet gathering a little dust for the sake of jihad in the way of Allah.”

2. On the first occasion that Sayidina Abu Bakar ascended the pulpit after becoming the Caliph, he climbed up only 2 steps, and he did not allow himself to sit where the Prophet usually sat. He said, ”My fellow Muslims, I am elected as your leader, but that does not mean that I am the best amongst you. So, if I am right, help me and if I am wrong, correct me. Remember, the weak among you become strong at my side till I take what is not rightly his from me. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet. And if I am disobedient, then there is no reason for you to obey me.”

3. Sayidina Abu Bakar never aspired for the post of Caliph. When alone, he once said: “By Allah, I have never dreamed of being a leader to the believers, even for a day or a night! And I have never asked of it from Allah, whether openly or in secrecy. And if not by leaving the post would entail me leaving my responsibilities to the religion and faith, surely I would run away wherever my feet takes me.”

4. Once, Sayidina Umar entered the house of Sayidina Abu Bakar and found him crying. When he saw Sayidina Umar, Sayidina Abu Bakar immediately hugged him and said: “Oh Umar, I do not need the Caliph’s post.” Sayidina Umar immediately cut short Sayidina Abu Bakar and responded: “Where else are you going to run? Because by Allah, we will not topple you nor will we ask you to descend.”

5. Sayidina Abu Bakar only received an allowance of half a lamb a day and 250 dinars a year. This was later increased to one lamb a day and 300 dinars a year.

6. Sayidina Abu Bakar bequeathed Aishah to return his excess wealth accumulated since he became the Caliph to the muslim community. After he passed away, Aishah brought the wealth left by her father to Sayidina Umar. Seeing this, Sayidina Umar cried profusely while saying: “May Allah bless Abu Bakar. Verily he set a precedence that is difficult for those after him to follow.” What was left of Sayidina Abu Bakar‘s wealth was a donkey used to carry water, a large container, a milking utensil, and a pair of clothes worn when receiving envoys.

7. He never felt that he was better than anyone else. He always uttered the Prophet’s prayers while putting his right hand to his heart: “O God, who toss and turn the hearts of man, hold steadfast my heart to Your religion.”

8. He was always worried of his fate and destiny. He said crying: “Whatever be my destiny, why didn’t become a tree that is only cut and felled.”

9. Before he was appointed as the Caliph, Sayidina Abu Bakar used to help old women, poor widows and orphans who lived in the alleys. He frequently visited them, milked their goats and cooked for them.

One day, after becoming the Caliph, he knocked on the door of one of the houses. A little girl opened the door and said to her mother, “Mother, it’s the person who milks our goat.” When she saw Sayidina Abu Bakar, the mother shyly said to her daughter, “Idiot, why didn’t you say it is the Prophet’s Caliph.” Sayidina Abu Bakar smiled and said, “Let it be, it is alright. She has called me by my work for Allah that I love most.”

10. Sayidina Abu Bakar was very bashful when praised or adulated, and he would repeat the following prayer: “O Allah, make me a better person than what they perceive. And bestow upon me forgiveness for what they do not know. And please do not act upon me as a result of what they say.”

Sayidina Umar Al Khattab, after being appointed as Caliph

1. After being appointed as the Caliph, Sayidina Umar was very concerned on matters of the people so much so he could not sleep at night. In fact, he could not concentrate on his night prayers because his thoughts were on the people, and then he would cry.

2. Everyday, after dawn (subuh) prayers, he would sit and think about the affairs of his people and distributed the gains of war to those eligible, i.e. the gains of war brought to him by the military commanders who conquered enemy nations.

3. He mixed with people all the time. Wherever he goes he brings along a small cane. He will hit anyone who did wrong with the cane.

4. Every morning when wealth comes to him, he will think to whom he will give it to.

5. Sayidina Umar did not give tithes to new converts as was done before him because in his view, Islam was then strong, and did not need to placate anyone.

6. Once Sayidina Umar sat in front of a huge amount of wealth and the spoils of war. Then he requested some of the companions to count them. He then declared his policy on how he was going to distribute the wealth. His speech to those present;

“By Allah, that there is no God but Him, there is no one among you who do not have the right to this wealth. No one has more right than anyone else and I too have no right above that of anyone else amongst you.”

7. During the day he would walk around the Medina Market to observe his people. At night he would walk around in places where people reside to find out the people’s needs with a cane in his right hand.

8. He once saw a beautiful, plump camel and he asked, “Whose camel is this?” The people answered, “It belongs to Abdullah bin Umar (the son of Umar).” Immediately Sayidina Umar sent someone to beckon Abdullah. When Abdullah came, Sayidina Umar said to him, “Bless you oh son of Amirul Mukminin. What camel is this?” Abdullah replied, “I bought it with my own money. I’ll sell the camel and do what was asked of me by the muslim community.” Sayidina Umar said, “People who see the camel will say, look after the camel because it belongs to the son of Amirul Mukminin. Give it water because the camel belongs to the son of Amirul Mukminin. That is what made your camel plump and healthy. You gain profit from the camel in the name of Amirul Mukminin. Oh Abdullah bin Umar, sell the camel, take your capital and surrender the profit to the Treasury.”

9. Sayidina Umar once called together his family members and said, “People look at you all like the bird watching meat. When you do something, they will also do the same.

If you are cautious, they will also be cautious. Verily by God, let no one among you do something that I forbid other people to do, lest I will punish you even more severely because of your position as my family.”

10. A bedouin once said to Sayidina Umar, “O Umar! Be a man of taqwa!” Immediately someone at the gathering said to the bedouin, “Someone like you wants to tell the Amirul Mukminin, to be a man of taqwa?” Sayidina Umar said, “Let him say so. Verily there is no good in you who do not say so, and there is no good in me if I do not want to hear it. Let him say so to me, verily this is the best thing to be said.”

11. Sayidina Umar once saw a milk trader cheat customers at a market. He swiftly hit the trader and threatened to imprison him. After that, he distributed the milk to the poor and warned that anyone who cheats will be painfully punished. He then reminded everyone of what the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever cheats, verily he is not of my company.

12. Sayidina Umar once gathered people to the mosque. He then ascended the pulpit and spoke: “O Muslims, what will you say if I become fascinated and inclined towards worldly things, whilst I am afraid to do wrong. And no one among you is willing to stop me because you revere me. If I do right, help me. If I do wrong, correct me.” Then a man said, “By Allah, if we see you going astray from the truth, we will return you to the truth”. Then another man said, “By Allah, O Amirul Mukminin, if we see you deviate, we will correct you with our swords.” Then Umar said, “May Allah bless you. All praise be for Allah, who has made amongst you, those who will correct Umar with their swords.”

13. Sayidina Umar strongly enforced a strict discipline upon himself and his family. He and his family did not eat to their full and did not dress excessively.

14. Sayidina Umar once spoke from the pulpit: “O God, I am harsh. Please make me gentle for those who are obedient to You and who befit the truth and who seek your acceptance and the Hereafter. And give me sustenance, resolve and firmness towards Your enemies, the improper (fasiq) and the hypocrites (munafiq) without me being cruel to them nor be their adversary. O my God, I am miserly. Make me generous, but not wasteful, vain or proud. Make me be so, because of You and the Hereafter. Make me be humble and lowly towards the mukmins.” “Oh Allah, I am careless and neglectful. Inspire me to remember You in all situations. Remind me of death at all times. Oh God, I am lacking in worship and in obedience to You. Give me the energy and the strength to overcome them with the right intention, and all this will not happen without Your reverence. Oh God, put me firmly in this belief, goodness and strength. And drown me with Your pressence in everything I dot that will make You accept me. Give me the ability to correct myself, to better all my motives and intentions and to be cautious towards all that is doubtful (shubahah). Oh God, give me the power to think and to take notice upon all that is said by my tongue out of Your Book. Give me the comprehension and understanding and the ability to take heed of its meanings and to study all its secrets and to internalise all that is hidden within it.

15. After supplicating a prayer, Sayidina Umar spoke, “O man, verily the Arab is like a frail camel which will follow whoever pulls its rein to wherever it is pulled. Verily by God, I will pull you to the truth.” Then he stepped down and wrote a letter to direct his officials to be concerned in improving the administration of the financial affairs of the people and be responsible for the needs of the people. Soon after that he said, “To all governors, verily if I see that this wealth is permissible for me, then it is also permissible for you. When its not permissible for me, I will abstain from acquiring it, and you must do the same.”

16. Sayidina Umar was very active in sending his army to other countries like Iran and Syam (Syria). Not to conquer or to acquire worldly fortunes, but to do what the Prophet and Sayidina Abu Bakar did, which is namely for the purpose of protecting Islam from its enemies, spreading the teachings of Islam and freeing mankind from the shackles of humiliation and slavery by the Persians and Romans. Also to develop the human society by strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and fraternity under one religion that is full of tolerance, just ice and goodness. He did this by preaching people in the best possible way and offering them good advice. If they oppose and attack him, he will declare war upon them.

17. When Sayidina Umar saw some people in the mosque, worshipping and not out working, he hit them. 18. Sayidina Umar would always ask the people he met at the mosque after prayers about their work and vocation. If he found them without any, he would encourage them to trade or promote them to acquire skills so that they can work.

19. Sayidina Umar once advised judges not to punish people based only on what they see outwardly. Verily Prophet Yusof’s brothers dumped him in a well, and then went home to their father crying in deceit.

20. Sayidina Umar was very cordial with Sayidina Ali. He befriended him even though there was a large age gap between them. They were very close and they loved each other very much. Each acknowledged the other’s stature.

21. Whenever Sayidina Ali’s name was mentioned in the presence of Sayidina Umar, he would say, “Ali is the most knowledgeable person in the law of the shariah among us.” When a problem is unclear to Umar, and Ali is not with him, he will not be confident to issue any verdict. He would further say, “There is no decision because Abal

Hasan (title for Sayidina Ali) is not here.” Many times he would say, “Allah will not allow me to live in a clan where there is no Abal Hasan.”

22. Sayidina Ali in turn acknowledged the virtues of Sayidina Umar. He would always speak of Sayidina Umar’s merits because he once heard the Prophet (pbuh) say that the most virtuous of people after him were Sayidina Abu Bakar and Sayidina Umar.

Sayidina Usman bin Affan, after being appointed as Caliph

1. Sayidina Usman would perform worship all night and would sleep only a little in the early part of the night.

2. His love is the Quran which he reads all the time. In fact, when rebels stormed into his house and killed him, he was reading the Quran.

3. When he was slandered not long after becoming the Caliph, a group of people dialogued and debated with him. He said, “If you could find in the holy book a reason to shackle my feet, go ahead, shackle them…. ”

4. Syurabil bin Muslim narrated how Usman prepared food for the Muslims like food for kings but he himself only ate with oil and vinegar.

5. Abdullah bin Syaddad said, “I saw Usman giving a sermon on a Friday wearing cloth worth only 4 or 5 dirham, whereas he is the Amirul Mukminin.”

6. Sayidina Usman once scolded a servant and twisted his ears till it hurt. Then he called the servant and asked him to do the same to him. The servant refused and turned away but was forced by Usman. When the servant twisted Usman’s ear, Sayidina Usman said, “Twist it harder man, because qisas (equality in punishment) on earth is far lighter than qisas in the Hereafter. ”

7. Even though he was old and weak, Sayidina Usman would not wake his servant up in the middle of the night to prepare water for his ablution.

8. Sayidina Usman once said in his sermon: “O all you followers of Muhammad, be people of taqwa (fear Allah) as verily taqwa is a gift of God. And the cleverest of man is one who can manage himself well and prepares for life after death, and who takes the light from Allah to brighten up his grave.”

9. His heart was always fearful and tears would fill his eyes whenever he thought of the Hereafter. In one of his speeches he said: “If I were to flounder between Heaven and Hell, and I do not know where I would end up, I hope I will just turn to ash, before I know my actual fate…”

10. When he found that the treasury was overflowing with wealth, Sayidina Usman increased the governors’ salary. He also provided tasty and scrumptious food at the mosques for worshippers, people who stop by the mosque (iktiqaf) and travellers.

11. When he found out that one of his governors consumed liquor, he immediately summoned him to Medina, punished and fired him. He replaced him with another person, even though the governor was his family member.

12. Sayidina Usman sent letters to each of the provinces with a message to the people:

“I heard that among you are those who are despised and some who have been beaten. If there are any among you who feel that you have been abused, let him come this hajj season and demand only from me or from my representative responsible for your affairs.”

13. When the rebels succeeded to enter his house, Sayidina Usman was capable of defending himself, but he did not do so because he said, “I do not want to meet Allah, with the splatter of Muslim blood on my shoulders?”

14. During the rebellion in Medina, Muawiyah offered Sayidina Usman to temporarily stay in Syam (Syria). He declined, as he did not want to be far away from the Prophet. Muawiyah then offered soldiers to be his guard in Medina but he again refused and said, “I am afraid Medina will be overcrowded with the soldiers and that will cause inconvenience to the companion (sahabah) of the Prophet from Rasulullah, the Muhajirin and Ansar.” “In that case they (the rebels) will be disloyal and will kill you,” Muawiyah said. Sayidina Usman replied, “Allah is sufficient for me, and He is the best Protector.”

Sayidina Ali, after being appointed as Caliph

1. He provided the needs for the entire Muslim community from the Treasury without differentiating between those who converted to Islam earlier or later. Each of them, were given only sufficient to meet their needs. According to Ali, an unequal apportionment in principle would present an opportunity for people to accumulate wealth, which clearly will lead to damage and will ruin the harmonious life.

2. He was gentle in upholding the truth no matter what happened.

3. In every action, he would emulate those elder to him. This was his character since childhood.

4. When entering his palace which was filled with opulence, he would turn his face away and say, “Wretched palace, I will never stay here forever.”

5. While walking in the market of Kufah, those who did wrong were given guidance and those in difficulty were given help and assistance. When he met old people, he would help to carry their things. When they saw this, the Companions (sahabah) approached him and said, “O Amirul Mukminin…” Ali, did not allow them to finish what they wanted to say but recited the Quran:

Meaning: “We create the nation of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise). for those who desist from being arrogant on the face of the earth. And the good end is for the muttaqun (the pious and righteous people)” (Al-Qasas: 83)

6. All his personal and family needs he bought himself. The Companions would offer to carry them for him but he would instead smile and say, “The head of the family has more right to carry the family’s burden!”

7. His life was very moderate, he worshipped diligently and he did not abide by the urge of his nafs. His ate dried bread with fried left overs and he lived in a hut made of clay.

8. His favourite clothing was of rough material and he liked moderate food. Caliph Ali wore a long shirt that he bought at the market for 3 dirham.

9. He frequently woke up the Muslims to perform the dawn (subuh) prayers and calling upon them with his honourable voice, “Wake up oh my fellow Muslims, let us do the solah… may Allah bless you...”

10. Sayidina Ali bequeathed to his followers to:

i. Be of taqwa to Allah (fear Allah) and never ever die except in Islam.

ii. Hold fast to Allah’s religion and do not be disunited as he had heard the Prophet (pbuh) say, “Verily fraternity and brotherhood is of higher priority than solah and fasting.”

iii. Remember Allah and adhere to the Quran. Do not lag behind anyone in doing good deeds.

iv. Remember Allah regarding the poor and destitute.

v. Do not be afraid of people’s contempt in executing

Allah’s commands because Allah will be your Protector from those with ill intentions or those who are oppressive.

vi. Do not desist from encouraging people to do good and detering people from commiting transgressions (amar makruf nahi munkar), say only good words, do not sever the bond of fraternity and never ever be hostile to each other.

vii. Help and assist each other in righteousness and taqwa, and never ever help and assist each other in sin and hostility.

11. Sayidina Ali grounded the flour himself, sold his sword, and patch his own body armour till there was no longer any place on the armour to patch although he could have taken his daily sustenance from the Treasury.

12. Sayidina Ali once said, “I do not want a big belly while the people around me are hungry and in fear. I do not wish to wear fine and elegant clothes although I could get them easily.”

13. In the early days as the Caliph, he endeavoured to stop the accumulation of wealth by a certain group of people and applied the rules fairly without distinguishing the difference between one and the other. He said, “If the wealth is mine, I would surely fulfil all their desires. But the wealth belongs to Allah and they are but His servants.”

His principles were:

i. Prevent the accumulation of immense wealth, being the act of wasteful and extravagance.

ii. The poor are hungry due to the accumulation of wealth by the rich.

14. He hated the world and its arrogance and he loved the night and its serenity and silence.

15. He respected religious people and is close to the poor.

16. When supplicating to Allah in a restless manner like a person who was ill and crying. He would say:

O world, o illusion

Why do you come to me

Do you yearn to meet me

Find another to replace me

Deceive him as you may

Did I not annul our relationship

O… I have too little provisions… and a long journey ahead

A journey that is difficult and meandering

Sayidina Umar Abdul Aziz, after being appointed as Caliph

1. He reminded, “If I direct something that is in contradiction to the truth, let it be and do not abide. Hold steadfast only to the truth.”

2. Before becoming the Caliph, Umar Abdul Aziz used perfume that was of the best kind, sat on a magnificent throne, wore expensive and opulent clothes, feasted on delicious food, rode the best horse and earned an annual income of 40,000 dinars. But when he became the Caliph, he surrendered all his wealth to the State.

3. An old woman came to see Caliph Umar to ask for additional sustenance. But when she saw the pitiful state of the Caliph’s house, her desire for the additional sustenance disappeared. Hence Fatimah, his wife, said that the house was made as such so that money could be saved to help people like the old woman.

4. Someone came bearing a gift, a rough clothing that was not suitable to be worn even by the poor. The Caliph however said: “What fine clothing! Give me something rougher than this…!”

5. His early action after becoming the Caliph, was to appoint 10 pious and well-known scholars as members of an advisory council. In their first gathering, Umar Abdul Aziz reminded:

“I invite you all to participate in this council to execute

a task which promises reward by Allah. All of you will be my assistants in upholding the truth. In Allah’s name, I hope if you see that my actions contradict Allah’s commandments, remind me and show me the true path.”

6. A well-known and prominent scholar, Said bin Musaiyab, never wanted to enter the palace to see the Amir or Caliph. However, immediately after Umar Abdul Aziz became the Caliph, he came and frequently attended functions with the Caliph and discussed various issues and problems.

7. In the second year of his reign, drought ensued during the hajj season. Caliph Umar requested all the scholars, theologians the devout and everyone else to do the solah to ask for rain.

8. Although busy as the Caliph, he never neglected to upgrade his taqwa to Allah and to gather knowledge. Scholars in his era admitted that he was very knowledgeable.

9. Once some beautiful girls were brought to be court maidens. Caliph Umar stood with a red face and asked the girls to return to their homes.

10. On the second day as Caliph, a ceremony was held where a horse was lavishly decorated for the Caliph to mount. But he ordered all the opulence to be given to the Treasury, and he asked for a small mat, placed it on the ground, and sat on it.

11. Caliph Umar said, “Let it be known that I am not the one who makes decisions, I only execute them. I am not the one who makes new rules but I only follow those rules and I am not the most righteous among you. I am no different from you. Only that I am the one who carry the heaviest burden amongst you.”

12. His wife narrated: “He (Umar Abdul Aziz) always remembers Allah at his bed. His body will tremble in fear like a freezing sparrow. Sometimes I (his wife) say to myself: Perhaps tomorrow morning, when the people begin to rise and wake up, they would have lost their Caliph.”

13. His wife also said: “By Allah, he is not the most diligent in performing the solah and fasting, but by Allah, I have never seen anyone who fears Allah more than him.”

14. Once his companion told Umar Abdul Aziz that ever since becoming the Caliph, he lost weight, his hair had turned grey and his facial appearance had changed considerably. Whereas when he was the governor of Medina, he was handsome and in good physical shape. His companion gazed at his face for a long time in bewilderment until accosted by Caliph Umar, saying: “You will be even more surprised when you see me later after being buried in my grave. My eyes and face will decompose, and bugs will be slithering at my mouth and skull.” After saying that, he cried.

15. After becoming the Caliph he called his wife and said that he could no longer be a good husband and he asked his wife to choose whether to live a difficult life with him or be separated. His wife chose to live the difficult life together with Sayidina Umar Abdul Aziz, and she gave all her jewellery and ornaments given by her father, to the Treasury.

16. One day a woman saw the Caliph eat a few slices of stale bread with a bowl of gravy. All the wealth that he had was not his.

17. When the Caliph took action to dispose the privileges of the Umaiyah clan, a companion asked him whether he was not afraid of their retribution. His face turned red as he harshly said, “Are you asking me to be afraid of other than Doomsday? All fear other than the fear of Doomsday does not mean anything to me!”

18. Someone suggested to him to spend a huge amount of money for the kiswah (blanket covering the Ka’abah) but the Caliph said that the money could be better used to feed the hungry.

19. One day, he received a letter from his governor in Khurasan requesting permission to use force upon the people there. But the Caliph replied that the thing that will make them good and obedient was justice and the truth.

20. When Caliph Umar returned home, he noticed his children covering their mouths with the palms of their hands. When asked, his wife replied that there was nothing to be eaten except onions. They cover their mouths so that others could not sniff the smell of onions from their breaths. Caliph Umar then said: “My children, if you want to eat delicious food, it means that you want your father to be thrown into Hell.”

21. A daughter saw her friend wearing earrings and asked Caliph Umar to buy her something similar. The Caliph asked his servants to take two glowing embers and showed it to her daughter. He said to her, “Are you, prepared to wear earrings made of ember? If you are then, I will buy you the earrings that you want.”

22. A family member visited Caliph Umar and found him all covered up in a blanket and thought that the Caliph was ill. Actually he was not ill but was waiting for his clothes to dry in the sun.

23. Caliph Umar asked his servant to bring water for his ablution. Not long after that the servant brought hot water taken from the public kitchen. When he found out that the water was from the public kitchen, he did not want to take his ablution using the water.

24. While he was working at night using a lamp belonging to the Treasury, suddenly a family member entered to discuss something. Caliph Umar immediately extinguished the Treasury’s lamp and lit up a lamp belonging to the house.

25. For every child born among his people, the Caliph provided subsistence to the mother till she stopped breastfeeding.

26. Caliph Umar annulled the tax on zimmies (non muslims under Islamic rule) unless specified by the Islamic law.

27. Caliph Umar received a letter from a woman requesting some money to repair the wall of her house. The Caliph sent someone to mend the wall.

28. During the reign of the previous Caliph, a church was demolished and a mosque was built in its place. During Caliph Umar’s reign, the Christians complained about the matter. And so the Caliph ordered the mosque to be demolished and a church to be built. This became a controversy among the Muslim scholars then. They met the Caliph and requested him to reconsider his decision but the Caliph remained firm. Because of that, the Muslim scholars invited the Christian clergy to discuss the issue, and they agreed that the mosque will remain and a new area be made available to build the church. Caliph Umar was grateful and gave his blessings on the decision.

29. When Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz passed away, a Christian monk cried profusely till it astonished his parishioners. When asked why, the monk said that a just and righteous king had died.

When the Caliph was ill, a Christian monk also came to treat him.

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