Shaykh Ahsan Hanif spoke about ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez last night. (Yes, I know I have other posts I said I would have up, but me thinks this one should totally go up first inshaAllah ;)). I loved his narrative style – he, may Allah preserve him, tells the story in such a way you feel like you are there and you can literally grab the practical lesson to take back with you into your life. Here it is:
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez, rahimahu Allah
In the Khilaafa of ‘Umar ibn AlKhattab, radhiaAllahu ‘anhu, ‘Umar would walk the alleyways of Madinah, every single night, checking on his ‘flock.’ One night, he came across a house in which he heard a woman telling her daughter to mix the milk with water, so they could sell more in the morning. The daughter replied saying that the Ameer ul Mu’mineen had forbidden doing so. The mother responded with ‘Where is he so that he can see us?’ The girl said if ‘Umar doesn’t know, then the Lord of ‘Umar does. Our religion is based upon what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says.
SubhanAllah, the only thing ‘Umar knew about this girl was that she had piety, a righteous upbringing. She had true taqwa. He went home and the next morning, sent one of his servants to find out more about her. The servant came back with one thing – that she had no father (he had passed away) so she lived alone with her mother and they were poor and needy.
‘Umar then gathered his sons, and upon the basis of ONE encounter, he asked which one of them wanted to get marred for he had found the most righteous woman of Madinah. SubhanAllah, ‘Umar could have married his sons to ANY woman – he was the Khalifaa! But no, he chose to have his sons marry this woman that he knew almost nothing about except the most important thing – that she had piety. One of his sons by the name of ‘Aasim married her. From their grandchildren, the great-grandson of ‘Umar ibn AlKhattab, came ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez.
- The over-riding factor in this marriage was deen, piety. As the Khalifaa, ‘Umar could’ve gotten a girl who was beautiful, wealthy, and of great status for his sons but he chose to go for the best – deen.
- True fear of Allah is behind closed doors – when no one is watching. This girl didn’t know ‘Umar was listening to her conversation. She said it as her first instinct – what she was taught to do.
- The true power of piety – ‘Umar ibn AlKhattab was a pious man who sought a pious woman for his son. Neither him, nor his son or his daughter-in-law lived to see the reign of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez – but it is still massive sadaqah jariyah for them – righteous progeny.
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez was one of the greatest leaders and scholars of this time. He came at a time when the Ummah started to fall for the dunya – becoming attached to it rather than the deen. He grew up in Royalty as he was part of the Umayyid Dynasty, the Royal Family. His grandfather, Uncle, and brother-in-law were Khulafaa’ (which was based in Damscus at that time).
His father was the govenor of Egypt and in turn, extremely wealthy but he chose to send ‘Umar to Madinah to learn from the scholars there. A sign of a great scholar is that he teaches manners before ‘ilm – and ‘Umar quickly picked that up. Because he was a descendant of Mu’awiya (radhiaAllahu ‘anhu), his people would curse ‘Ali (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) so one day, ‘Umar did the same in front of his teacher. His teacher became angry and said ‘Wouldn’t it be better you remain silent about the man who the Prophet, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said is like to him how Haroon (‘alayhis salaam) was to Musa (‘alayhis salaam).’ SubhanAllah, this lesson stayed wit him into his khilaafa, and it was during that time that people stopped this practice.
The fruit of knowledge is action. One day, at salah, one of ‘Umar’s teachers didn’t see him as the iqaamah was called out. After the first Takbeer was said, ‘Umar joined the Salah – just a few seconds late. After salah, his teacher asked him why he was late and ‘Umar replied that his servant took longer combing his hair so he was late. (He was of the Royal family!) The teacher, in turn, wrote a letter to his father, the governor of Eypt about this incident. His father sent his servant telling him say salaam to ‘Umar, tell him your father sent me, and then shave off his hair. After, say this is your punishment for coming late to salah. The servant went and did exactly this.
- Before ‘ilm is manners
- It didn’t matter ‘Umar was of Royalty – his father sent him to learn deen because he knew the massive benefit associated with it. That is true investment.
- ‘Umar was humble – when his teacher taught him something, he didn’t say ‘Oh, well my family does this.’ He used his intellect and thought about what his teacher said and applied it to his life
- Way his father taught him a lesson – he didn’t yell and scream at him. He taught him a practical lesson with hikmah – something he would remember for the rest of his life.
- Fruit of knowledge is action
- What is late for us in salah – how importantly do we take our salah? For us, making it before the salaam is early but is that really valuing and truly implementing our salah?
- The immense hikmah in the father of ‘Umar and how he raised his son and how he taught him. His greatness came from his great upbringing.
In his time, the scholars would send people to ‘Umar, saying he knew more then them, subhanAllah. He eventually became the governor of Madinah and the people loved him. He loved justice and hated oppression – so Madinah flourished under his reign. Other governors became jealous from the fact the people loved him so much and hatched a plan to dispose of him.
Waleed ibn AbdulMaalik was his brother-in-law, the brother of his wife, Fatimah, and his cousin, as well as the current Khalifa. He was dying and asked his advisors for who he should appoint as his successor. His advisors said to appoint ‘Umar because of his justice, his family, and how the people loved him. Waleed knew his family wouldn’t like it because they were expecting a successor from them so the advisors said to also appoint the successor after ‘Umar to be from Waleed’s family, to make them happy. He put this in a letter and sealed it, and had his family give allegiance to this unknown person. When he died and the Khulafaa of ‘Umar was announced, his family was disappointed and ‘Umar would not accept it. He went to the people and said he was willing to step down – for them to appoint someone else. The people would not have it and ‘Umar was made Khalifaa.
He was Khalifaa for 30 months – from 99 Hijri to 101 Hijri but what he accomplished in 30 months, in his life of 40 years, is probably more than what we can accomplish in a life of 80 years. On his inaugaration, he rejected the riches of the palace and stuck with his donkey and his mud house. When foreign dignataries would come to visit him, they would find him with his hands in mud, fixing his house.
His wife, Fatima bint AbdulMaalik, was the daughter of a Khalifa, the sister of a Khalifa, and now became the wife of a Khalifa. When ‘Umar became Khalifa, he gave her two choices – to return all her jewels and riches (which came from the treasury) and stay with ‘Umar or to keep her wealth, and her way of living, and to divorce ‘Umar. She chose to stay. Some narrations say she returned everything except for two pairs of clothes. He then had his family also give back their wealth to the public treasury. Now, the royal family resembled normal, everyday people. His family went to his Aunt to have her talk some sense into him. She went to him with their complaint, asking for him to at least give back what they had. ‘Umar took a gold coin and threw it into the fire, waiting until it was red-hot. He took it out and asked her if he should put it on his cheek? She said of course not. He said, By Allah, if I let them keep it, on Yawm al Qiyaamah, Allah will burn me with it. His aunt understood after that.
- Just because he was a leader didn’t mean he ignored ‘ilm. Most scholars at that time would stay away from the rulers but ‘Umar was different.
- The people loved ‘Umar – and that doesn’t come pleasing them. He pleased Allah by upholding justice and the laws of Allah, so the love of the people came.
- A life of 40 years – a term of 30 months – and he accomplished so much. He was focused, he did it fee sabilillah, and he had his priorities set straight. We could do the same if we follow in his example.
- Fatima, rahimahuAllah, was basically a Princess – she could have stayed with her life of luxury. For sure, other men would’ve wanted to marry her. But she chose ‘Umar, she chose the path that she felt would please Allah the most. (PS She was also a great scholar of her time!)
- ‘Umar began with his family to eradicate oppression and injustice – it doesn’t work to tell others to do something you yourself do not do. He also explained it in such a way to his Aunt that was visual and totally understandable.
‘Umar would surround himself with scholars – and not poets like other Khulafaa (poets would just praise the Khalifa). He told the scholars to only speak aboout Islam and the hereafter – nothing about the dunya. One time he had a guest and the candle went out. The guest asked to call the servant but ‘Umar said he didn’t want to bother him, as he had fallen asleep. The guest said he would light the candle but ‘Umar said no, I am the host, you are the guest. ‘Umar got up and lit the candle and the guest said but you are Ameer ul Mu’mineen! ‘Umar replied with ‘When I stood, I was ‘Umar and when I sit, I’m still ‘Umar.’
He was a man of immsense worship. Fatima said he never spent a night peacefully because he was always checking on the people or in a state of prayer. She said the ground would be moist from his tears when he would get up. A scholar once said to him ‘Oh ‘Umar, you are one of the most powerful on Earth but remember, on the Day of Judgement, it only takes 1 or 2 men for Allah to throw you into Hell.’
One time, during Hajj, the people were racing back to their tents at Minnah. ‘Umar said, ‘Slow down, slow down, By Allah the one who wins today is not the one who would get to Minnah first but the one who is forgiven.’
He was so just during his khilaafa that the people wouldn’t accept Zakah – there were so much wealth for everyone that they didn’t need it. There was immense barakah in his reign.
This is one of my favourite stories. An army had been sent to conquer Mesapoor – which is a very mountainous region. The people were Christian, so the army should’ve have invited them to Islam and then given option of Jizyah. They didn’t because they feared the people running up into the mountains. They made a military decision and attacked and because of their sheer size, there was no actual battle, and Mesapoor was conquered. The Christian priests at that time knew this was not in accordance with Islamic teachings so they sent a messenger to ‘Umar. When he got the letter months later, he turned the letter over and wrote that the people have a valid complaint and for the governor to appoint a judge in this matter. When the reponse came a few more months later, the priests didn’t think anything would happen with a one-lined response. Immediately, action took place. A judge was appointed and he met with both sides, hearing their stories. He ruled in favour of the people of Mesapoor, saying ‘By Allah, we have not been sent to conquer land – we have been sent to spread Islam.’ The Muslims were commanded to leave by nightfall and to come again, with the invitation of Islam first. They did. The people of Mesapoor, overwehlmed at this, became Muslim because of their ettiquettes.
- Like ‘Umar ibn AlKhattab, he cared immensely about his people. He didn’t take a vacation or days off – he got right into his work and did it with ihsaan
- How much are you to cry to make the ground *wet* from your tears?
- He knew he was the leader and responsible for his people – the statement of the scholar sums it up nicely. ‘Umar lived his life in accordance to that because all it could take is for one act of oppression, one oppressed person, and ‘Umar is gone…
- His immense hikmah in his speech and his dealings
- From Valley of the Seekers, we saw the story of Mesapoor as living with ‘Al ‘Azeez and AlHaqq. ‘Umar based his Khulafaa’ on ‘izzah, on the haqq, and so it fluorished.
- Actions speak louder than words!
‘Umar’s khulafaa was only 30 months because of the jealousy of the ruling family. They devised a plot to have his servant put poison in his food. When ‘Umar took a bite of that food, he knew immediately he was poisoned. He asked his servant why he had done so and his servant said because the family had payed him. ‘Umar forgave him and told him to go because the people would look to kill him. When he spoke to his advisors, they said he had left no inheritance for his children. He called his children to him and said he could have have given them the wealth from the treasury or he could have entrusted their affairs to Allah. He chose to entrust their affairs to Allah.
Some scholars call him the 5th rightly guided Khalifaa – after the likes of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar ibn AlKhattab, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali. There is a hadith mentioning that every 100 years or so, one man will come to revive the Ummah. Scholars say ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez was the first reviver of this Ummah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala be pleased with him, accept his deeds, and grant him the highest level of Jannah. Ameen. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us the tawfique to take lessons from his life and to implement them into our lives as actions! Ameen.