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'UMAR AND THE PEOPLE

The Caliph 'Umar walked through the streets of Madina almost every night to know whether there is one needy or ill. One night while walking again with an attendant he heard crying in a house. Knocking at the door, he went in. There was an old woman and some little children. A pan was boiling on the fire. It was the children who were crying. When 'Umar asked about what was going on, the woman explained:

The children are hungry and there is nothing at home to eat. In order to keep them quiet until they sleep, I am boiling water in the pan.

'Umar asked why they did not inform the Caliph 'Umar of their situation. The woman retorted:
May God take 'Umar's soul! He undertook the management of people but does not concern himself with their hardships.
But, how can 'Umar know of your hardships if you do not inform him about them?
Should he not walk round and see what is going on in the city?

'Umar immediately left the house with his attendant. They went straight to the state treasury. 'Umar lifted a sack of flour onto his back and some food-stuff to head for the house. Although the attendant wanted to carry the sack, 'Umar did not agree saying that it was he who was responsible for the welfare of the people. They arrived at home and knocking at the door, went in. The children had not yet gone to sleep. They were still crying.

'Umar made bread with his own hands and cooked some food. He offered bread and food to the children. After the children went to sleep, he left the house.
On another night 'Umar heard this conversation from a house. A mother and her daughter were talking about the milk they were going to sell the next day. The mother said:

Daughter, add some water to the milk.
Bu, mother, did the Caliph not forbid adding water to milk that is offered for sale?
How can the Caliph be informed of what we are doing at this time of the night? He must be sleeping in his bed at his time.

The daughter was deeply conscious that there is One Who watches everyone at all times. She responded to her mother:

Mother, 'Umar may be sleeping now. But does God ever sleep? Is He not informed of what we are doing? Even if our cheating may remain unknown to the people, is it ever at all that it is not known by God, the All-Seeing and the All-Aware?

On another occasion, 'Umar was walking round the city when he heard singing and laughter from a house. Angry with what he heard, he jumped into the house through the chimney. A man and a woman, whom 'Umar knew were not married, were drinking and amusing themselves. 'Umar was furious and shouted at them:

Do you not fear God that you can commit such great sins?

The man answered him:

Calm yourself please, O 'Umar! We have committed a sin, but you have committed three. God prohibited spy into people's sins but you spied. God commanded that we must enter houses through their doors but you jumped in through the chimney. God commanded that we must greet the dwellers of the house when we entered them, but you didn't greet us.

Abashed, 'Umar immediately left the house without saying anything. Months after that incident, he saw the man again and whispered to him:

Believe me! I have not told anyone of what I witnessed months ago.

The man replied:

Believe me! I have never committed that sin again since then.

 

Last Updated on April 6, 2002

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