Once a caravan came to Madinah. It had women and children too with it. ‘Umar said to Abdul Rahman bin-e-Auf, “Can you stand guard on them to-night?” So ‘Umar, the second caliph, and he, kept awake that night together and kept vigil over the cara-van. During that nightly vigil they both offered Tahajjud (late night and early dawn) prayer also. ‘Umar on hearing a baby’s cry and approaching, said to the mother, “Fear God and do look after your child care-fully.” Saying this he came back to his own position. Once again he heard it crying, and going over to her mother once again gave her the same advice. When during the last part of the night the child cried once again, ‘Umar came to its mother and said, “Woe to thee! Thou appears not to be a good mother. How is it that thy child could not sleep peacefully during the night.” The woman little suspecting that she was speaking to the Amir of the believers, said in reply, “God bless you man, you have pestered me several times during the night. I want to wean it forcefully (before time), but the child is intractable.” ‘Umar asked her, “And pray, why wean it forcefully?” She said in reply, “Because ‘Umar grants allowance only for such children that have been weaned.” Umar asked her, “How old is your child?” And she told him it was only a few months old. And ‘Umar asked the woman not to be hasty in weaning her child. And then he led the morning prayer in such a state that his weeping made the recital of the Quran inaudible and unintelligible. At the end of the prayer he said, “Umar is ruined. He killed the children of the believers!” And at this, he ordered the crier to proclaim in the town of Madinah that the mothers should not wean their children only for the sake of the allowance for the children. From now on, every child, suckling or weaned, shall receive a stipend. And it was also proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the Islamic state.
Unparalleled in the entire History of Mankind, By God! the entire history of mankind is unable to produce such a brilliant and glorious incident. None among the civilizations of the world can present any personage like ‘Umar. He kept awake the whole night, keeping guard over the caravan and the caravan slept in peace. And we should keep in mind that he was the head of the Islamic state, and wielded great authority and power that had overrun the then super powers of Rome and Iran. And in spite of all that he did what a petty guard detailed to patrol the vicinity of a caravan in its sojourn would not do. He drew the attention of the crying child’s mother to her babe and asked her to quieten her. Is there any one who can mete out that treatment to the children in a passing Caravan, like ‘Umar? Who is there among the greatest personages of the history of mankind who can even touch the great human Consciousness of ‘Umar?
And this is not all. Our civilization has still more glorious incidents to present. ‘Umar’s servant Aslam relates that he came out with ‘Umar one night, and went far out into the open area outside Madinah. We were out on a fact finding mission to distant hamlets on the outskirt of Madinah. From a distance we observed fire aglow far off. ‘Umar said, “I believe the darkness of the night and the cold have compelled some horsemen to sojourn here. Let us go and see.” We proceeded at a brisk pace and reached that spot. We saw a woman Sitting there with some children around her, a pot boiling on fire, and the children crying. ‘Umar greeted her and asked the woman about her condition and also what was going on there. The woman told him that the darkness and cold had forced her to stay there for the night. ‘Umar asked her, “Why are these children crying?” And the woman said in reply, “They are hungry”. Then ‘Umar asked her, “What is there in that pot on fire?” The woman said, “Only water to console the children so that they may remain quiet and go to sleep. And God alone shall judge between us and ‘Umar”. What the woman wanted to convey was that ‘Umar was not fair and just to them. ‘Umar said to her, “My good woman I What does ‘Umar know about your state of affairs?” To which she retaliated, “Why then should he hold the high office of the Caliph when he is unaware of our condition?” Aslam relates that ‘Umar said to him, “Let us go now”. And we started from there with all haste, Aslam goes on to say, “and reached the godown of provisions (of the Bait-al-mal) and ‘Umar took a bag of flour and container of fat and asked me to load the bag on his back. I offered my services but he angrily brushed aside my offer saying ‘Can you relieve me of my burden on the Day of reckoning also?’ So I loaded the bag on his back, and then we hastened to-wards our destination at a fast enough pace and soon he placed the bag and taking out some flour from the bag gave it to the woman and asked her to knead it while he himself offered to fan the fire to a flame. So he started blowing the fire below the pot. His beard was thick and I saw smoke percolating through his beard. He went on blowing at it until the food was ready, and he asked the woman to bring some vessel. And when she brought a platter, he poured out the contents of the pot into it and asked the woman to feed the children while he himself fanned to cool it. We sat there until all of them had eaten to their fill. What was left of the flour and fat was handed over to her and then ‘Umar got up and I followed suit. The woman said, ‘God bless you. You are more deserving of that high office than the Amir of the believers.’ ‘Umar said to her, ‘Say only a good word. When tomorrow you come to see Amir of the believers, you will find me there, God-willing.’ After that ‘Umar went to some distance and retraced his steps and hid himself close to their place of stay. I said to him that that was not proper on his part to observe them from the place of his concealment. But he kept quiet. We saw that the children were playing merrily and then they went to sleep. ‘Umar thanked God and got up and turning to me said, ‘Aslam I Hunger was growing at their stomachs and they were miserable and could not go to sleep. I would not haye been at ease until I had seen them happy and comfort-able. So I looked at them from my position of vantage. You have also seen that they have gone to sleep per-fectly at ease.”
One of the unique incidents relating to sympathy and equality in the history of mankind is that ‘Umar came by one night. It was usual with him to go out during the nights to see with his own eyes the conditions under which people were living. One night he found himself in one of the many valleys of Madinah. All of a sudden he heard somebody crying in a nearby tent, at whose door was standing a man. ‘Umar greeted him in the proper manner and asked him who he was. He said in reply that he was a beduin who had come to Madinah to ask the Amir of the believers for help. Then ‘Umar asked him about the crying and wailing inside the tent, which question the beduin tried to evade, saying that since it did not concern him, he should not interest himself in it and go his way. Little he knew that he was talking to the Amir of the believers. However, on the insistence of ‘Umar he told him that his wife was in labour pain and has no one to help her with the delivery. ‘Umar came back home and asked his wife, Umme-Kulsum bint-e-Ali, whether she was interested in the reward from God which He might have brought her way. And on her asking what was that, he told her in some detail, and asked her to take with her the requisites of a new born and the delivered mother and also some provisions for food. He took all those things from her and started, Umme-Kulsum following him. Soon they came to the Bedouin’s tent and ‘Umar sending his wife inside, himself sat with the husband, and lighting a fire started cooking food with the provisions he had brought with him. The Bedouin was even now unaware that he was sitting beside a great man of the world. Meanwhile the woman in the tent was delivered of a babe and Umme-Kulsum called him from inside the tent, addressing him as Amir-al Muminin, and asked him to congratulate his friend on the birth of his child. The Bedouin on hearing her words became conscious of the fact that he had been with the head of the Islamic state all this time and had been rude to him, and was awe-struck and began receding from ‘Umar. But ‘Umar reassured him and asked him to keep sitting where he was, unceremoniously. And when he asked Umme-Kulsum to offer the mother the food that he had cooked. And when she had eaten, he offered food to her husband, saying “Partake of it, you have kept up the whole night and have been inconvenienced. Come to me tomorrow and I shall see to it that your needs are pro-vided.” When he came to him (’Umar) the next morning he granted an allowance for his new born babe and he too was liberally helped.
- Let the World present one Parallel
So far as my information is concerned, I can say with certainty that there is not a single incident as glorious, outstanding and based on the sentiments of fraternity as the one cited above, anywhere in the lives of the greatest men in the history of mankind. There is an incident connected with George Washington the saviour of Ame-rica that he was once going along the road when he saw that some soldiers were trying to lift a stone but were unable to do so. Their supervisor was standing close by but not lending a helping hand. George asked him to come to their help, but he refused saying that it was below his dignity. Washington kept his sheet on one side of the road and helped them lift the boulder, and said to them when departing that whenever they needed help in a difficulty of that type they could enlist his help at such and such address.
Certainly this is a unique incident and is an example of a high standard of morality. But it stands no corn-parison with the incident of ‘Umar cited above. ‘Umar sacrificing his sleep and comfort of the night came out to find out the condition of the people, when he found a woman passing through the pangs of labour, having no one to help her, he came home, took his wife with him and loaded with provisions himself and the wife with the needs of the mother and the new born infant, to go to the tent of a Bedouin far from the town in the darkness Ii of the night. The wife, who, in our present day termi-nology, was the queen, plays the role of a maid-servant, a mid-wife, and he himself takes upon the role of the cook. Is there a single example of this height of man’s psyche? The height which was never attained by any ruler of a state on this globe. This is one of those brilliant incidents that go to make ‘Umar so great, and also one of the dazzling aspects of our civilization that it moulded a simple beduin Arab like ‘Umar into a personage that even today occupies the highest stand among the great men in the history of mankind, just as our civilization stands out among the civilization of the world, topping the list.
- Not One but a Multitude Rank after Rank
Here we must also mention that ‘Umar is not an isolated example presented as a perfect and affectionate person by our civilization. The lives of Abu Bakr, Uthman and ‘Ali (God be pleased with them all) were also moulded in the mould of perfect humanity, brimming over with mercy and affection. Also the lives of ‘Umar bin-e-Abd-al-Aziz, Salahuddin Ayyubi and many other big personages, the ‘ulama’ the legists, philosophers and leaders also present countless immortal examples, which is a brilliant evi’ dence in favoUr of our glorious civilization from every aspect.