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NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOVERNOR AND A SUBJECT

Abu Ubayda commanded the Muslim armies fighting in Syria during the early years of the Caliphate of 'Umar. It was during one of those fightings that when night fell, the two sides retreated to rest. The Muslims suffered from lack of provisions. However, Abu Ubayda was brought fresh bread and cold, fresh water. He asked:

Is there fresh bread and cold, fresh water like this on the tables of our fighting brothers, or have you offered me such a table just because I am the commander? 
We set aside that bread and water for you, o Commander, they answered.
This answer made Abu Ubayda angry and, pushing the table away, he commented:
I cannot conceive of a behavior worse in the sight of God Almighty than sitting at a table different from what is offered to our brothers shedding their blood in the way of God in the same lines with us. I could not sit at such a special table even if I were the Caliph, not a commander.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, the famous Muslim scholar and thinker, who launched a major Islamic movement in Turkey in the second quarter of this century, offered this challenge to those who deny the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings:

'Consider how, eradicating their evil and savage customs and immoral qualities to which they were so fanatically attached, he equipped and adorned the desperate, wild and unyielding peoples of the seventh-century Arabian peninsula with all the praiseworthy virtues, and made them teachers of all the world and masters to, especially, the civilized nations. His was not an outward domination; rather, he conquered their minds, spirits, hearts, and souls. He became the beloved of hearts, the teacher of minds, the trainer of souls, and the ruler of spirits.

'You know that despite all the advanced techniques and methods, modern communities are unable to remove permanently so small a vice as cigarette smoking. However, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, with apparently little effort over a very short period of time removed numerous ignoble habits from large communities in whom those habits were long ingrained, and in their place implanted and inculcated noble qualities in such a way that they became inherent in their nature. To those who refuse to see the testimony of the blessed age of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, we present as a challenge any part of today's civilized world. Let them go there with hundreds of philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and pedagogues and educators, and strive for a hundred years. I wonder whether they will be able to achieve in that period a hundredth part of what the Prophet Muhammad achieved in a year.'

Abu Bakr, in the early days of his Caliphate, managed on the wage he earned by milking the cattle of one of his neighbors. Some time later, some Companions led by 'Umar made him this offer: 'As the Commander-in-chief of the Muslims, you have much work to do. Therefore, give up milking cattle and let us assign a fixed salary for your needs as Caliph.'

Abu Bakr spent from this salary for his living expenses and stored any surplus in a pot. He told those around his death-bed to hand that pot over to the one nominated to replace him as Caliph.

'Umar was chosen after Abu Bakr. During his rule, Islam spread as far as Afghanistan in the east and Caucasia in the north. One evening during the holy month of Ramadan, 'Umar was a guest of one of the Companions. When he was offered a sherbet of honey, he refused it, saying:

'I can drink this only when all of the people, the responsibility of governing whom I shoulder, have become so rich that they can drink the sherbet of honey with their meals.'

 

Last Updated on April 6, 2002

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