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Omar Farooq was the second Caliph, who succeeded Abu Bakr Siddiq in 13 A.H. His reign is regarded as the golden period of the Caliphate. He was simple, just, honest, brave and conscientious. When Constantinople was captured, the news was brought to him by Mu'awiah Ibn Khudej. The messenger reached Madinah after the sun had crossed the zenith. He thought the Caliph might be taking a rest, and retired to Masjid-e-Nabavi. Not long after his entry into the mosque, a maid-servant of the, Caliph happened to pass by the mosque. She came to know that a messenger had brought news from the battlefield. She instantly informed the Caliph and soon returned to bring the messenger to the court. On learning about the capture of the town, the Caliph bowed before Allah in gratitude. Then placing whatever food he had in front of the messenger, he asked, "Why did you not come to me directly"?


Ibn Khudej replied, "Amirul Moomineen, I presumed you might be enjoying the afternoon siesta."


"Oh", replied the great Caliph, "Its pity that you thought so. If I sleep during the day time then, who will bear the burden of ruling the empire?"


Although Omar was the sovereign ruler of the entire Islamic Empire, he understood very well the extent of his power, rights and status. Once while delivering a sermon, he said: "My rights over public funds (the Baitul Maal) are similar to those of the guardians of an orphan. If well placed in life, I will not claim anything from it. In case of need, I shall draw only as much as it constitutionally allowed for providing food. You have every right to question me anything about, any improper accumulation of the revenue and bounty collections, improper utilization of the treasury money, provision of the daily bread to all, border-security arrangements and harassment caused to any citizen."


At another occasion he declared: "For Omar what is permissible from Baitul Maal is a length of the cloth sufficient to cover him, a ride for Haj pilgrimage and other State tours, and sustenance for his dependence equal to the requirements of a middle class family." Records indicate that he never exceeded his just claims.


When Baitul Maqdis (Jerusalem) was captured, great Caliph Omar was invited to the town. Abu Obaidah and other rank officer of the Muslim Army went out of the town to receive him. They witnessed the great general approaching them in very modest clothing. They wanted the Christian citizens of the town to be impressed by the entry of the victor ruler. They rushed to him with a costly robe and a stallion of high Turkish pedigree. He declined the offering saying, "All veneration comes to us through following the religion of Allah. Islam is the only mark of exaltation."


The one essential feature of justice is equality. There should not be any distinction between a Lord and a Layman or between the ruler and ruled. 'Ubai was a common citizen. He charged Omar, the Caliph, in the court of Qazi Zaid bin Thabit. The Caliph presented himself before the court in simple dress. The Qazi offered his respect to the Caliph. He was reprimanded, 'This is your first act of injustice." And he seated himself by the side of 'Ubai.


‘Ubai had no proof for his claim. Caliph Omar disowned the claims. 'Ubai wanted that the Caliph should take an oath as was the practice. The Qazi suggested that ‘Ubai should exempt the Caliph from this formality. This was disapproved by Omar himself. He said, "Unless 'Ubai and Omar are not equal in your court, you do not deserve to hold the high office of the Qazi."


Caliph Omar was the champion of freedom and democratic norms. He proved through his words and deeds that every person is born free and even the lowest of the low should not be abashed or humiliated.


Amar bin al-Aas was the governor of Egypt. His son once manhandled and caned a native. Caliph Omar reprimanded the father and his son thus, "Since when have you taken men as slaves? All are born free, you should know!"


Caliph Omar was returning from his sojourn at Syria. On the way he saw an old lady by the side of a tent. He approached her and asked, "Do you know anything about Omar?"


She replied, "Yes, he has started from Syria. But let Allah destroy him. He has never cared to know about me."


He said: "How can Omar know about you who live so far?"


She replied: "If he cannot be aware of his subjects, why has he accepted the burden of governance?"


Caliph Omar shuddered at the remark and arranged for meeting her needs.


Hurmuzan was a general of the Iranian army. He was defeated in a war. He accepted to pay the tribute but soon rebelled and fought another war. This time also he was vanquished and got arrested. He was brought before Caliph Omar. He was clad in his silken robes. Golden crown decorated his head. The bejeweled sword hung from his waistband. Caliph Omar was in Masjid-e-Nabawi at that time. He was told, "You have repeatedly gone back on your words. What excuse you have now?"


Hurmuzan said, "I am afraid I will be killed before my apologies."


He was assured, "Do not be afraid. No such thing will happen."


He asked for a cup of water. Water was fetched. Holding the cup in his hand, he pleaded, "I fear I will be killed while drinking water."


He was assured again. "Do drink it. Until you drink water and offer your excuses, be assured, no harm will befall on you." Placing the cup down, Hurmuzan said, "I do not drink water now. You have given me protection. So you cannot kill me either."


This infuriated the Caliph. He was about to flare up when Ansar said, "Ameerul Mumineen, he is speaking the truth. You have given him the word that nothing will happen to him till he drinks water."


Others also concurred with this statement. The Caliph addressed the prisoner, "Hurmuzan, you have deceived me. But I am going to pay you back in the same coins. Islam has not taught us to do so. I stand by my words."


This kind of benevolent gesture moved Hurmuzan. He instantly came to the fold of Islam. The Caliph sanctioned an allowance of two thousand riyals per annum for him.


Equally benevolent and magnanimous was he towards the non-Muslim citizens. When he entered Jerusalem along with Father Cephrovenus, he had a bag full of roasted millet, another full of dates, a water bottle and a wooden vessel, all hung from the back of a red camel. The two men were inside the temple of Jerusalem when Azan (the call for prayer) was heard. The padre insisted that Caliph Omar should offer his prayers inside the temple alone. But the Caliph refused to oblige him saying, "May be, later other Muslims follow my tradition and gradually try to usurp the place for permanent use." The Caliph then moved outside the church and performed his prayers there. The religious sentiments of people of other faith were thus upheld in great esteem, and the Caliph ensured security of their holy place.




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