Friday, December 22, 2006

Justice to all, even enemies

"If someone disobeys God in matters that concern you, the best thing to do in return is to obey God in matters that concern him." So said Umar ibn Khattab

Source: Pg 104, An Islamic treasury of virtues by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Ibn Kathir Tafseer

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Giving up this world for the next

When it was time to give a meal to some visitors from Iraq, Umar, the second caliph brought them a bowl of food- some coarse bread and olive oil- and requested them to eat. Slowly, reluctantly- they complied. Seeing what tiny morsels the were taking, Umar said to them, "You know, if I wished, I could also prepare for myself fine, rich food of the kind to which you are accustomed. But it is our practice here to be sparing of things in this world so that we may receive them in the next. Have you not seen how Almighty God has chastised a people for having received good things in their worldly life?" By another account, Umar asked them what they wanted: "Things which are sweet and spicy, hot and cold? Whatever you eat will go to waste in your stomachs".
Source: Pg 118, An Islamic treasury of virtues by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Hilyat Al-Auliya by Abu Nu’aym

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Muslim must suppress his desires

Hasan ibn Ali recounts how, once, when Umar entered his son's house, he found some meat there and asked how it came to be there. His son, Abdullah said that he had felt an urge to eat some meat that day. "So, everything tht you have an urge for, you eat, do you?" asked Umar. then admonishing his son, he said, "A man has to do no more than partake of everything he desires to be counted among the extravagant."

Source: Kanz Al Ummal, Pg 246, An Islamic treasury of virtues by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Jabir ibn Abdullah had just bought one dirham's worth of meat and was taking it home, when he met Umar bin Khattab. The latter asked him what he was carrying and Jabir told him, "Something that my family want very badly; I have bought them a dirham's worth of meat". Umar went on repeating the words, "something that my family wanted very badly", so often that Jabir wished he had lost the dirham before buying the meat, or else that he had not met Umar. According to another tradition, Umar said: "What, whever they want something, do you buy it for them? Have you forgotten this worse: 'You squandered away your precious things in your earthly life and took your fill of pleasure.'" (46:20)

Source: Al Bayhaqi, Pg 246, An Islamic treasury of virtues by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Umar's gift to Zainab

Umar (ra) used to take special care of Ummahatul Mu'mineen. He used to love Hassan and Hussein, and Ali (ra). When he used to send money to the house of Rasoolullah (saw), he would send loads of it. And if there was any shortage, it would be in the share of his daugther Hafsa (ra). Once he gave Zainab bin Jahsh so much money, that when she saw that she said, 'May Allah forgive Amir Al Mu'mineen. There are other wives of the Prophet (pbuh) who would do a better job @ distributing the money'. She thought it was for distribution, but Umar (ra) said this is all for you. She was terrified, and told her servant to cover it. It was too much money for her. Then she told her to take some money from under the cloth, and give it out to orphans, needy etc. She saw the pile decrease, until her servant said: 'Why don't you leave some for us?' Zainab said, 'take what's left'. The servant raised the cover and there was more than 80 dirham left. Zainab raised her hands and said: 'O Allah, don't allow me to live until the next time Umar gives me a gift'. And soon after she died.

Source: Umar ibn AlKhattab His Life & Times, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Umar's address after Jerusalem

After receiving the surrender of Jerusalem and completing the tour of Syria when Caliph Umar was returning to Madina he led the prayer at Jabiah. On this occasion he delivered an address which is preserved in history. The major part of his address was:

"O ye people I counsel you to read the Qur’an. Try to understand it and ponder over it. Imbibe the teachings of the Qur’an. Then practise what the Quran teaches. The Qur’an is not theoretical; it is a practical code of life. The Qur’an does not bring you the message of the Hereafter only; it is primarily intended to guide you in this life. Mold your life in accordance with the teachings of Islam for that is the way of your well being. By following any other way you will be inviting destruction.
"Fear Allah (The One True God), and whatever you want seek from Him. All men are equal. Do not flatter those in authority. Do not seek favors from others. By such acts you demean yourself. And remember that you will get only that is ordained for you, and no one can give you anything against the will of God. Then why seek things from others over which they have no control? Only supplicate God for He alone is the sovereign.

"And speak the truth. Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth. Say what you feel. Let your conscience be your guide. Let your intentions be good, for verily God is aware of your intentions. In your deeds your intentions count. Fear God, and fear no one else. Why fear others when you know that whatever sustenance ordained for you by God you will get under all circumstances? And again why fear when you know that death is ordained by God alone and will come only when He wills?

"Allah has for the time being made me your ruler. But I am one of you. No special privileges belong to ruler. I have some responsibilities to discharge, and in this I seek your cooperation. Government is a sacred trust, and it is my endeavor not to betray the trust in any way. For the fulfillment of the trust I have to be a watch-man. I have to be strict. I have to enforce discipline. I have to run the administration not on the basis of personal idiosyncracies; I have to run it in public interest and for promoting the public good. For this we have the guidance in the Book of God. Whatever orders I issue in the course of day to day administration have to conform to the Qur’an. God has favored us with Islam. He sent to us His Messenger (Muhammad, pbuh). He has chosen us for a mission. Let us fulfil that mission. That mission is the promotion of Islam. In Islam lies our safety; if we err we are doomed."

Source: E-book on Islamic Civilisation

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Umar's Inaugural Address

After the assumption of office as the Caliph, Umar addressed the Muslims who had assembled in the Prophet's mosque. In the course of the address, Umar said:

"O ye faithful! Abu Bakr is no more amongst us. After having led us for about two years, he has returned to His Maker. He has the satisfaction that he has successfully piloted the ship of the Muslim state to safety after negotiating the stormy sea. He successfully waged the apostasy wars, and thanks to him, Islam is now supreme in Arabia. Islam is now on the move and we are carrying Jihad in the name of Allah against the mighty empires of Byzantine and Persia.

After Abu Bakr, the mantle of Khilafat has fallen on my shoulders. I swear it before God that I never coveted this office. I wished that it would have devolved on some other person more worthy than me. But now that in national interest, the responsibility for leading the Muslims has come to vest in me, I assure you that I will not run away from my post, and will make an earnest effort to discharge the onerous duties of the office to the best of my capacity in accordance with the injunctions of Islam.

In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Holy Book, and will follow the examples set by the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. In this task I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.

Now brothers I offer a few prayers and you say Amen to them.

O Allah I am hard, make me soft to promote the Truth, to comply with your injunctions and to aspire to a better life in the world hereafter.

O Allah make me hard for the enemies of Islam and for those who create mischief so that their desigus against Allah come to naught.

O Allah I am miser; make me generous in the promotion of the good.

O Allah save me from hypocrisy. Strengthen my resolves so that whatever I do, I do for the sake of winning Your approbation.

O Allah soften my heart for the faithful so that I attend to their needs with a sense of dedication.

O Allah, I am careless, make me responsible enough so that I do not lose sight of You.

O Allah I am weak in offering my obedience to You; make me active and fortify my faith.

O Allah bestow on me faith, and the power to do good.

O Allah give me the power of self-criticism and self assessment.

O Allah bestow on me the insight into the meaning of the Quran and the strength to act in accordance with what the Quran says.

O Allah You are capable of doing anything: bless us with Your favor. Amen."

Source: Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On over-eating

Umar (ra) would encourage exercise, and was against obesity. He said:

'O people, beware of over-eating. Because it makes you lazy in your salah. And it makes your body weak. And it makes you unhealthy. And Allah dislikes the obese man. And you should be modest in your food. Because it is closer to righteousness, and further from excess; and makes you stronger in worshipping Allah. And you will perish when your desires become more likeable to you than Allah (or religion).'

Note: Obesity here refers to obesity caused by over-eating.

Source: Umar ibn AlKhattab His Life & Times, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki

Traveller from Yemen

A group of mujahideen from Yemen, on the way back from Shaam to Yemen, they passed through Madinah. Umar (ra) after the early prayer would bring out plates of food for the public to eat- travellers, needy, etc. He would serve it to the people and stand over them, to make sure that they are being served well. He sees a man from this group who comes and eats. Umar bin Al Khattab was following the principle of amr bil ma'roof wa nahi 'anil munkar, and serving- so many good deeds @ once. He told the man, 'Eat with your right hand'. The man ignored him. Umar repeated again, 'Eat with your right hand'. The man replied, 'O Ameer Ul Mumineen, my right hand is busy'. So Umar (ra) left him alone. When he finished his meal, Umar went to him and asked, 'What do you mean your right hand is busy?'
So the man pulled his right arm, and there was no right hand.
Umar bin Khattab said, 'what is this?'
The man responded that he lost his right hand fighting in the battle of Yarmuk. Subhanallah, the man didn't want to show off in front of people that he lost his arm in Jihad, and he only did it when the Khalifah insisted. Look @ the ikhlaas of this man. But then, look @ the questions of Umar.
What would you expect Umar to ask?
He said, 'So how do you make wudhu?' 'How do you prepare for Salah?'
These were his first thoughts.
The man said, 'I make wudhu with my left hand, and Allah is the one who gives help'.
Umar (ra) asked, 'Where are you going?'
'I'm going back to Yemen, to visit my mother, whom I haven't seen in a few years'.
Umar (ra) said, 'and you're also kind to your mother. Come with me'.

And he gives him a servant, and he gives him 5 camels, and tells him that you're now welcome to leave.

Source: Umar ibn AlKhattab His Life & Times, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Umar's acceptance was an opening

Ibn Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said: We did not cease to become mighty since the acceptance of Islam by 'Umar.

Ibn Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said: The Islam of 'Umar was an opening, his emigration was a help and his imamate was a mercy. I saw us unable to pray towards the House until 'Umar accepted Islam. When 'Umar accepted Islam, he fought them until they left us alone and we prayed.

Hudhayfah said: When 'Umar accepted Islam, Islam was like the man advancing towards you, only increasing in nearness. When 'Umar was killed, Islam was like the man backing away from you, only increasing in distance.

Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, said: The first man to be open about Islam was 'Umar ibn al-Khattab.

Suhaib said: When 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, accepted Islam, he was open about it, invited people to it openly; we sat around the House in circles, we made circuits around the House, we took our rights from whoever was tough with us, and we retaliated against him for some of what he brought us.

Aslam the freed slave of 'Umar said: 'Umar accepted Islam in Dhu'l-Hijjah of the sixth year of prophethood while he was twenty-six years old.

Source: The History of the Khalifahs

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Umar's allowance from the treasury

'Umar (ra) lived by trade before becoming Khalifah. When he was made Khalifah after Abu Bakr (ra), he assembled the people and said to them:
"I earned my living through trade. As you people have engaged me as Khalifah, I cannot attend to my business. Now, what about my living?"

Different amounts of daily allowance from the Bait-ul-Mal were suggested by different people, but Ali (ra) did not speak..

'Umar inquired of him: "Oh Ali what is your suggestion?"

He replied: I suggest that you should take such amount as may be on average be sufficient for your family."

'Umar accepted his suggestion and a moderate amount was fixed as his daily allowance.

Source: Follow Their Way and Join Them

Monday, October 23, 2006

A few days before his death...

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun:
I saw 'Umar bin Al-Khattab a few days before he was stabbed in Medina. He was standing with Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman and 'Uthman bin Hunaif to whom he said, "What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of As-Swad i.e. 'Iraq) than it can bear?" They replied, "We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield." 'Umar again said, "Check whether you have imposed on the land what it can not bear." They said, "No, (we haven't)." 'Umar added, "If Allah should keep me alive I will let the widows of Iraq need no men to support them after me." But only four days had elapsed when he was stabbed (to death) ..

Source: Farewell of a nobleman

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Umar- Description & Appearance

Umar was blessed with a strong physique. He could undergo great rigours. He could travel on foot for miles. He was an athlete and a wrestler. He participated in the wrestling matches on the occasion of the annual fair at Ukaz, and he won in most of such matches. From the accounts that have come down to us it appears that Umar had attained perfection in the art of wrestling.

Some first hand descriptions of the physical appearance of Umar have come down to us. Ibn Saad and al-Hakim have recorded a description of Umar as Abu Miriam Zir, a native of Kufa described him. Zir said:

"I went forth with the people of Madina on a festival day, and I saw Umar walking barefoot. He was advanced in years, bald, of a tawny colour-a left handed man, tall, and towering above the people."

Ibn Umar described the physical appearance of Umar as follows:

"He was a man of fair complexion, a ruddy tint prevailing, tall, bald and grey."

Ubayd bin Umayr described Umar as follows:

" Umar used to overtop the people in height."

Salima bin al-Akwa'a said about him:

" Umar was ambidexter; he could use both his hands equally well."

Ibn Asakir records on tile authority of Abu Raja al-U'taridi that:

"Umar was a man tall, stout, very bald, very ruddy with scanty hair on the cheeks, his moustaches large, and the ends thereof reddish."

Umar was a skillful rider. He could successfully manage even the wildest of horses he would literally jump on the back of the horse, and sit with such ease and steadiness that he appeared to be a part and parcel of the horse he rode.

He was very intelligent and shrewd. He was a good public speaker. He was gifted with an uncommon degree ot tact and judgment, and on several occasions he successfully undertook ambassadorial missions on behalf of the Quraish.

By all accounts he was self-respecting, broad-minded and sincere. He was a man of strong convictions, a good friend, and a bad enemy. Like the rugged hills around him, he was harsh and stern, violent in temper, but very good of heart. He was always prepared to stand up against the oppressor and espouse the cause of the weak.
Source: Khalifah Umar bin Al Khattab