2 July 2021
Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umarra ibn al-Khattab
After reciting the Tashahud, Ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
Currently, the accounts from the life of Hazrat Umarra are being narrated and I will continue to narrate them today as well. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“There is a narration in regard to Hazrat Umarra which states that upon the instruction of the Holy Prophetsa, when he expelled the Jews and Christians from Yemen, he purchased their land from them.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:
“The land owned by the Christians and the Jews was ‘Kharaji’ [land owned by a non-Muslim] and when Hazrat Umarra took their land and expelled them from the Arab lands, he did not just seize their land, but in fact purchased the land from them, even though it was ‘Kharaji’ and in principle belonged to the government. A hadith is mentioned in Fath-ul-Bari, a commentary of Bukhari, and states:
عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيْدٍ أَنَّ عُمَرَ أَجْلٰى أَهْلَ نَجْرَانَ وَالْيَهُوْدَ وَالنَّصَارٰى وَاشْتَرٰى بَيَاضَ أَرْضِهِمْ وَكُرُوْمَهُمْ
“That is, ‘Yahya bin Saeed narrates that Hazrat Umarra expelled the idolaters, Jews and the Christians of Najran and paid for their lands and orchards.’
“It is clear the land which belonged to the Jews was not ‘Ushari’ [land owned by a Muslim] because if it was ‘Ushari’ then it would have had a Muslim owner and there would be no reason to pay the Jews for it. Thus, this land was undoubtedly ‘Kharaji’ just like the land in India is also referred to as ‘Kharaji’. However, Hazrat Umarra did not take possession of the land by considering it to be ‘Kharaji’ and thereby declaring it as the property of the government; in fact, he paid them for the land.
“It is possible that someone may claim that perhaps this land was neither ‘Kharaji’ nor ‘Ushari’ and was classified as something else, but such a notion would be utterly foolish and would reflect one’s lack of knowledge of the Islamic Shariah.
“In Islam, the land is either ‘Kharaji’ or ‘Ushari’ and there is no other form of land, unless it is completely derelict and abandoned with no one to lay claim to its ownership. Thus, the land belonging to the Jews, Christians and idolaters was either ‘Kharaji’ or ‘Ushari’, but in either case, Hazrat Umarra recognised them as its owners and subsequently purchased the land from them.” (Islam Aur Malkiyyat-e-Zameen, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 21, p. 444, 478-479)
Mentioning the prohibition of making slaves other than prisoners of war in Islam, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“Allah the Almighty states:
تُرِيْدُوْنَ عَرَضَ الدُّنْيَا
“[‘You desire the frail goods of this world’] meaning, ‘O Muslims, do you desire to behave like other nations and enslave their people to augment your power?’
وَاللّٰهُ يُرِيْدُ الْآخِرَةَ
“Nay, Allah does not want you to follow other nations. He wants to guide you to the course that is better for you in the end and entitles you to win Allah’s pleasure in the next life. And with respect to gaining the nearness of Allah and attaining a good end, God decrees that it is better for you that you do not take any prisoners except when war is imposed on you.” Thus, in Islam, one is not permitted to enslave anyone except as prisoners of war.
“This rule was strictly enforced in the early days of Islam. During the reign of Hazrat Umarra, a deputation from Yemen came and complained that before the advent of Islam, they had been made into slaves without any cause by a neighbouring Christian tribe. Otherwise prior to this time, they were free, therefore they ought to be relieved of this bondage. Hazrat Umarra replied that though the event took place before the Muslims were in power, he would look into the case and have them set free if their complaint was borne out by facts.
“In contrast to this” – Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra is now comparing this conduct to the practice of Europe in that this was the Islamic stance taken by Hazrat Umarra or which he reassured them with. In contrast to this, what do we see in Europe – “the Europeans continued to use slavery for advancing their trade and agriculture until the nineteenth century. There is no doubt that some instances of the un-Islamic custom of slavery can be found in Islamic history; but slavery was never practised to promote domestic industry or trade.” (Islam Ka Iqtasadi Nizam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 18, pp. 26-27)
There is no concept of this in Islam.
On one occasion, during the era of Hazrat Umarra, there was a very severe drought and famine in Medina and its surrounding areas. When the strong winds would blow, the dust would fly in the air like ashes, thus that year was referred to as “aam al-ramadah” [the year of the ashes]. (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 508, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1987)
Auf bin Harith relates from his father, “That year was known as ‘aam al-ramadah’” i.e. the year of the ashes “because owing to the lack of rainfall, the land had become black like ash and this condition remained for a duration of nine months.”
Hizam bin Hisham narrates from his father:
“In 18 AH when people returned from the pilgrimage of Hajj, they were faced with great hardships. There was a severe drought. The cattle died and people also began to die of hunger to the extent that they would finely grind the animal bones and mix it in water to drink and they would dig up the burrows of mice, etc. and eat whatever they could find.”
Hazrat Ibn Umarra relates that Hazrat Umarra bin Al-Khattab wrote a letter to Hazrat Amrra bin Aas during ‘aam al-ramadah’ which stated:
“In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. From the servant of Allah, Umar, the Leader of the Faithful to Aasi bin Aasi; may peace be upon you. Would you like to witness me and those who are with me die whilst you and those who are with you remain alive? Is there anyone to help?” Hazrat Umarra then wrote the word “help” three times.
In reply to the letter, Hazrat Amrra bin Aas wrote:
“In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. There is none worthy of worship except Allah. To the servant of Allah. Help has arrived but you will have to just wait a little while. I am sending a caravan of camels, the first among them would be with you and the last of them would still be with me.”
In other words, it was a rather large caravan of camels.
The governor of Egypt, Hazrat Amrra bin Aas sent 1,000 camels laden with grain and corn. Clarified butter, clothes etc. were also sent in addition to that. The governor of Iraq, Hazrat Saadra sent 2,000 camels laden with grain and provisions, as well as clothes. The governor of Syria, Hazrat Amir Muawiyahra sent 3,000 camels laden with grain and also sent clothes and other provisions in addition to that. When the first stock of grain arrived, Hazrat Umarra bin Al-Khattab stated to Hazrat Zubairra bin Al-Awam, “Stop the camels and turn them in the direction of the surrounding villages and distribute the provisions among them first. By God, it is possible that aside from the honour of enjoying the company of the Holy Prophetsa, you may not have been granted a better opportunity than this. Also, make garments from the sacks so that they can wear them and slaughter the camels for them, so that they can eat its meat and take the animal fat away with them. Do not wait for them to say that they will wait for the rainfall. They should cook the flour and gather the provisions until Allah the Almighty grants them ease.”
In other words, they should cook some of the provisions and store some of it for themselves as well.
Hazrat Umarra would have the food prepared and then it would be announced that at mealtime, if anyone wished to come and eat, they should come. And if anyone wanted to take the food back to their families, they could come and take it. Hazrat Umarra would prepare Tharid for the people, which was a dish prepared by mixing small pieces of bread in a broth. There was flatbread which had stew made from olives and would be cooked quickly in pots. Camels would also be slaughtered and Hazrat Umarra would sit with the people and eat whatever they were eating.
Abdullah bin Zaid bin Aslam relates from his grandfather, “Hazrat Umarra would continually keep fasts. During the aam al-ramadah, bread would be presented to Hazrat Umarra which had been mixed with olive oil.
“One day, the camels were slaughtered and people were given its meat and they kept the best portion of its meat for Hazrat Umarra. When this meat was presented before Hazrat Umarra which consisted of pieces of the camel’s hump and liver, Hazrat Umarra enquired where this meat had come from and was informed, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! This has come from the camels which we slaughtered today.’ Hazrat Umarra stated, ‘What a pity! What a pity! How awful a leader would I be if I ate the best part of the meat and leave the least favoured parts for others? Take this bowl away from me and bring me other food instead.’ And so, bread was brought mixed in olive oil. Hazrat Umarra broke the bread into pieces and then prepared the Tharid himself. He then stated to his assistant named Yarfa to take that bowl [of meat] and give it to such and such family in Samak.” Samak was a date orchard close to Medina which was owned by Hazrat Umarra and he had donated this orchard. “Hazrat Umarra further stated, ‘I have not given them anything for the last three days and I believe they have not had anything to eat. Thus, go and present this to them.’”
Hazrat Ibn Umarra narrates, “During the days of the famine, Hazrat Umarra started to do something which he never did previously. He would lead the Isha prayers and would then return to his residence and would continue to offer his [voluntary] prayers until the latter part of the night. After that he would leave his residence and would do the rounds of inspection in Medina. One night, at the time of Sehri [predawn], I heard him say:
اَللّٰهُمَّ لَا تَجْعَلْ هَلَاكَ أُمَّةِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَلٰى يَدَيَّ
‘O Allah! Do not allow the ummah of Muhammadsa to perish at my hands.’”
Muhammad bin Yahya bin Habban relates that once, during the days of the famine, bread was presented before Hazrat Umarra which had been mixed in animal fat. Hazrat Umarra called a Bedouin to come close to him and he began to eat alongside Hazrat Umarra. He quickly began to take the fat from the edges of the bowl upon which Hazrat Umarra stated, “You are eating as if you have never eaten animal fat before.” He replied, “Indeed, for many days, I have neither eaten clarified butter, nor olives, nor have I seen anyone else eat it.” Upon hearing these words, Hazrat Umarra vowed to neither eat meat, nor clarified butter until people did not enjoy the same comforts as they did before.
Ibn Taus relates from his father that Hazrat Umarra did not eat meat nor clarified butter until people returned to their normal conditions. Since he would not eat any clarified butter, etc. Hazrat Umar’sra stomach would rumble. However, Hazrat Umarra would address his stomach and say, “You may rumble, but by God, you will not get anything until people return to their normal conditions and eat as they did before.”
Iyad bin Khalifah states:
“During the year of the famine, I saw that the complexion of Hazrat Umar’sra skin had completely darkened, even though before he had a very fair complexion. We would enquire as to how this happened and the narrator [of the tradition] told us, ‘Hazrat Umarra was an Arab and butter and milk was a part of his diet. When the famine occurred, he declared all these foods unlawful for him until people did not return to their normal conditions. Hazrat Umarra would eat his food with oil as a result of which his complexion changed and then when he went without food, his complexion changed even more.’”
Usama bin Zaid bin Aslam narrates on the authority of his grandfather, “We used to say that if Allah did not provide us relief from this famine and drought, Hazrat Umarra would grieve himself to death due to his constant worry for the Muslims.”
Zaid bin Aslam narrates from his father:
“During the era of the drought and famine, people from all over Arabia came to Medina. Hazrat Umarra had ordered people to make arrangements for them and provide them with food. Hazrat Umarra had assigned various companions to oversee arrangements in different areas of Medina. In the evenings, they would gather and bring back information about every single moment. The report of what took place from the morning until the evening would be presented to Hazrat Umarra in the evening when they gathered together. Bedouins of different areas had gathered in Medina.
“One night, when everyone had eaten dinner, Hazrat Umarra said to count the number of people that had eaten dinner with them. When the total was counted, it was almost 7,000 people. Hazrat Umarra then said, ‘Count those people who were not present at the time as well as the sick and children.’ When they were included, the total number of people was 40,000. After a few days, this number increased. When they were counted again, the number of people who would eat with them totalled 10,000 and the others were 50,000. This continued until Allah the Almighty sent down rain. When it had rained, I saw that Hazrat Umarra ordered his governors to make arrangements for their citizens to return to their areas and for them to provide them with mounts and grain.”
The narrator says, “I saw that Hazrat Umarra would come himself to send those people off.” (Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra, Vol. 3, pp. 165-169, Dar-e-Ihya Al-Turath, Beirut ) (Lughat-ul-Hadith, Vol. 1, p. 234, definition of the word “Tharid”, Numani Kutub Khana, Lahore ), (Fath-ul-Bari Sharah Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 5, pp. 460-461, Hadith 2764, Dar-ul-Riyan Li Al-Turath, Cairo )
People from the surrounding areas had gathered in the city [of Medina] out of hunger and would receive food there. When the situation improved and it had rained and farming could resume, Hazrat Umarra said to return home, work hard and manage their crops.
In Tabari, with regard to the end of the famine, it is written that one person saw a dream in which the Holy Prophetsa said to be mindful of prayers. Subsequently, Hazrat Umarra made an announcement among the people that Salat al-Istisqa [prayer for rain] would be offered. Hazrat Umarra said, “This trial has reached its peak but will now come to an end, insha-Allah. Whichever people are granted the opportunity to pray will come to realise that the trial will come to an end.” Hazrat Umarra wrote letters addressing the governors of other cities and said to them, “Offer Salat al-Istisqa for the residents of Medina and its surroundings because they have endured great hardship.” Hazrat Umarra gathered the Muslims in an open plain to offer Salat al-Istisqa; he came with Hazrat Abbasra, delivered a short sermon and then led the prayers. He then sat down and prayed:
اَللّٰهُمَّ إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ، اَللّٰهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا وَارْضَ عَنَّا
“O Allah! You alone do we worship and You alone do we beseech for help. O Allah! Bestow Your forgiveness and mercy upon us, and You be pleased with us.” After this, Hazrat Umarra returned. He had not yet reached home when owing to the intense rain, a pond had formed in the open plain. (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. 2, pp. 508-509, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1987)
According to one narration, whilst supplicating, Hazrat Umarra said the following:
“O Allah! When we would experience drought during the era of Your Prophetsa, we would pray through means of Your prophetsa, and You would thus send down rain upon us. Today, we beseech You by means of Your Prophet’ssa uncle. Relieve us from this drought and send down rain upon us.” Subsequently, the people had not moved from their places that it began to rain. (Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra, Vol. 4, p. 21, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut )
In relation to when the [straw] prayer mats were first laid out in Masjid Nabawi it is said that initially, people would pray without it directly on the floor or on any soft area, and there would be dust on their foreheads. Afterwards, the custom of using prayer mats came into effect. Abdullah bin Ibrahim narrates that the first person to use straw prayer mats in Masjid Nabawi was Hazrat Umarsa bin Al-Khattab. Before this, when people would raise their heads after performing sajdah, they would wipe their hands. Subsequently, Hazrat Umarra ordered for prayer mats to be laid down which were brought from Aqiq and laid out in Masjid Nabawi. Aqiq is the name of a valley which spans almost 150 kilometres from the southwest of Medina up to the northwest of Medina and it is said to be a large valley. (Izalatul Khulafa An Khilafat Al-Khulafa, translated by Shah Walliullah, Vol. 3, p. 236, Qadeemi Kutub Khana Karachi) (Al-Sirat Nabawi, p. 168, Dar-ul-Islam Al-Riadh, 1424 AH)
In the time of Hazrat Umarra, Masjid Nabawi underwent an expansion in 17 AH. Hazrat Abdullah bin Umarra narrates that during the time of the Holy Prophetsa, Masjid Nabawi was made from mudbricks, the roof was made from date palm leaves and branches and date palm trunks were used as pillars. The mosque remained the same throughout the era of Hazrat Abu Bakrra and no expansion or changes were made. Hazrat Umarra instructed for the mosque to be extended and renovated but did not make any changes to the appearance and building structure and left it on the original foundations. The roof was kept in its original condition using date palm leaves but changed the pillars using wood instead. The renovation of the mosque was completed in 17 AH under the supervision of Hazrat Umarra. After this expansion, the area of the mosque increased from 100 x 100 cubits, which is approximately 50 x 50 metres to 140 x 120 cubits, approximately 70 x 60 metres. From this narration, it is evident that during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, the mosque remained in the same condition as it was during the time of the Holy Prophetsa. But it was extended significantly due to the construction in the time of Hazrat Umarra.
Abu Saeed Khudrira narrates that Hazrat Umarra gave instructions to expand Masjid Nabawi and to make provisions for people to be safeguarded from the rain, but to avoid the use of red and white in the renovations, because it is these sorts of adornments that place man in trial. Hazrat Umarra was careful in what he spent and ensured it remained in the same style and design as it was in the blessed era of the Holy Prophetsa. During the expansion, he obtained the houses that were attached to the mosque to the northern, southern and western side. Some people happily donated their land for the mosque and for some Hazrat Umarra had to explain to them and offered them financial incentives. Hence, Hazrat Umarra had to purchase some land and include it as part of the mosque. (Justuju-e-Madinah, Abdul Hameed Qadri, p. 459, Oriental Publications Lahore, 2007)
In the time of Hazrat Umarra, the practice of conducting a census was carried out or he requested for it to be conducted and also assigned food rations. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has written with regard to this and also about how the Islamic government organised systems, what changes were implemented and what administrative matters were introduced.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:
“Upon arrival in Medina, the first thing the Holy Prophetsa did was to form bonds of brotherhood between those who had land and property and those who did not have anything. The Ansar owned land and properties whereas the Muhajireen did not have any. The Holy Prophetsa established bonds of brotherhood between the Ansar and the Muhajireen in a way that each Ansar with a property was attached with a muhajir who did not have anything. Some went to such extent that aside from their wealth, if someone had two wives, they proposed to their muhajir brothers that they would be prepared to divorce one of their wives for them and they would be free to marry them.
“This was the first example of equality that the Holy Prophetsa established upon arrival in Medina because essentially, the Islamic government was only established in Medina. In those days, there was not an abundance of wealth, therefore the only option was to attach an affluent person with another who was poorer so that he could have enough to eat.
“Then, during one battle, the Holy Prophetsa adopted another method which brought about some changes. During the course of one battle, the Holy Prophetsa came to know that some people had nothing left to eat, or if they did, it was hardly anything sufficient, whereas some other people had plenty. Observing this situation, the Holy Prophetsa stated, ‘Whosoever has anything with them, they ought to bring it and collect it at one place.’ Subsequently, everything was brought and the Holy Prophetsa assigned rationing.
“Even here, the same principle was adopted in that everyone ought to have access to food. For as long as possible, they ate separately, but when this became impossible and there was a danger that some people would starve, the Holy Prophetsa forbade eating separately and instructed that food would be distributed evenly from one place. This decision was taken in light of the situation of that time, it was not the case that aspects of socialism or communism were being implemented.
“Nonetheless, the Companions said that they acted on this command so strictly that even if they had one date with them, they would deem it extremely dishonest to eat it and would be restless until they deposited it in the store. This was the second practice established by the Holy Prophetsa. And until they experienced difficult circumstances, it remained as such and this was the practice established by the Holy Prophetsa. Then, later in the time of the Holy Prophetsa, they experienced affluence and Allah the Almighty blessed them with an abundance of wealth. But Allah the Almighty wished for a proper system to be established after the Holy Prophetsa, lest people said that this system was something confined only to the Holy Prophetsa and nobody else could implement it after him.”
When they were blessed with wealth, the old system was established, which Allah the Almighty ensured would come into effect after [the Holy Prophetsa] as well.
As regards how this was achieved, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:
“Hence, on the one hand, Allah the Almighty established an example through the Holy Prophetsa, and on the other hand, upon his arrival to Medina, the Ansar presented all their wealth to the Muhajireen. The Muhajireen said that they were not prepared to take these lands without recompense. And they would work as farmers on these lands and pay them their dues. This was the desire of the Muhajireen which they expressed; however, the Ansar showed no hesitation in offering them their wealth.
This is similar to the example whereby the government is providing rations and someone does not take them. In this case, the government would be blameless. It would be declared that the government had prescribed rations and now it was up to others to accept or decline it. Similarly, the Ansar offered everything. It is a separate matter that the Muhajireendid not accept it.
“Thus, the Holy Prophetsa had established this practice during his lifetime, to the extent that when the king of Bahrain accepted Islam, the Holy Prophetsa guided him to provide four dirhams and clothing as sustenance for all those in his country who did not possess land for their livelihood so that they do not remain hungry and deprived.
“Later, the Muslims began to acquire a lot of wealth. As the Muslims were fewer in number and the wealth was plentiful, there did not seem to be a need for a new regulation to be introduced at that time. This is because the objective [of providing people for their basic needs] was being met. The general principle is that a new law should be instituted when there is danger, and so long as there is no danger, it is the choice of the government whether or not they institute a particular law. Thus, the point which I initially wanted to draw upon but other details were mentioned in between was that how this system continued after the Holy Prophetsa.
“When the Holy Prophetsa passed away and Muslims began to spread to different corners of the world, foreign nations also entered the fold of Islam. The Arabs were like one group of people and a single nation and would uphold equality amongst themselves, but when Islam spread to different regions and various nations began entering the fold of Islam, arrangements for food became very difficult. Ultimately, Hazrat Umarra conducted a census for all individuals and established a system for rationing which lasted until the reign of the Banu Umaiyyah.
“European historians admit that the first census ever taken was by Hazrat Umarra. They also admit that this very first census taken by Hazrat Umarra was not to seize the wealth of its citizens, but to establish a system for their sustenance. Other governments take a census to make sacrificial lambs out of their people and to procure military services; however, Hazrat Umarra did not take a census for this purpose, but did so to provide them with food and to ascertain the number of people and how much food would be required. Therefore, after taking the census, all people would receive sustenance under a designated system and a monthly allowance would be given to fulfil other remaining necessities. This task was completed with such care that during the time of Hazrat Umarra when Syria was conquered and an abundance of olive oil was acquired and everyone began to receive their share, Hazrat Umarra said to the people that his stomach swelled with the use of olive oil. Hazrat Umarra, himself, received a share of that oil and explained that by using olive oil often, his stomach became bloated. He asked for permission to exchange clarified butter from the treasury of equal value with the olive oil he received because it was harmful to his health.
“Thus, this was the first step in Islam that was taken to fulfil the needs of the people, and it is clear that if such a system is established, no other arrangement is required because the government would be responsible for the needs of the whole nation. Their sustenance, clothing, education, treatment for illnesses and building homes for lodging would all be the responsibility of the Islamic government. If all of these needs continued to be fulfilled, then there would be no need for any insurance etc. People get insurance to ensure that they leave something behind for their children or to have the ability to fulfil their needs if they do not have an income when they are elderly. If the government takes on this responsibility, there remains no need for insurance.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra continues:
“Those who came later began saying that the decision of whether to give, or not to give, was exclusive to the ruler’s choice. Since the Islamic teachings had not been firmly implemented, those people became inclined once again to the ways of Caeser and Chosroes. They inclined towards the ways and practices of other kings which then became commonplace.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 7, pp. 334-336)
With regard to the Islamic government establishing an infrastructure for food and clothing for every person, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further states:
“When the Islamic government obtained wealth, it created an infrastructure for the food and clothing of every person. Hence”, as mentioned earlier, “it was in the era of Hazrat Umarra when the system was complete, at which time, according to the teachings of Islam, the food and clothing of every person was the responsibility of the government, and it carried out this duty with great care. This was the reason for which Hazrat Umarra initiated the practice of taking a census and opened registries wherein everyone’s names would be entered”. As mentioned before, “European writers acknowledge that it was Hazrat Umarra who first initiated a census and began the system of registration. The purpose of this census was so that every person could be given food and clothing, and it was necessary for the government to know the number of citizens in the country.
“Today, it is said that Soviet Russia was the first to create a system for providing food and clothing to the poor. However, such an economic system was first established by Islam. From the practical standpoint, during the era of Hazrat Umarra, the names of people from every village, town and city were entered into a registry; the names of everyone’s wives, children and the total number would be recorded, and then the amount of sustenance for each person would be stipulated so that even those who ate less could be content with their share and also those who ate more could eat to their fill.
“It is recorded in history that in his earlier decisions, Hazrat Umarra had not provided for the needs of suckling babies, and an infant’s due ration was granted only after it had been weaned by its mother.”
As I mentioned in the previous sermon, “one night, while out on a round of quiet inspection, Hazrat Umarra heard the wailing sound of an infant from a tent, which made him pause. But the cries continued, even though the mother tried to put the child to sleep by patting him. Eventually, Hazrat Umarra entered the tent and enquired of the mother, ‘Why do you not suckle the child? The child has been crying for quite some time’ The woman did not recognise Hazrat Umarra and thought he was an ordinary person. Hence, she answered, ‘Are you unaware that Hazrat Umarra has decreed that no ration be granted in the case of suckling infants. We are poor with hardly enough to make ends meet. I have weaned the child early so that we should get the child’s share of ration from the treasury. If the child cries, then it is the fault of Umarra who created such a law.’ Hazrat Umarra returned at once and painfully addressed himself saying, ‘O Umar, O Umar, do you have any idea how you have weakened the coming generation of the Arabs by causing infants to be prematurely weaned; the responsibility for this lies with you.’ As he said this, he went to the storage, opened the door and lifted a sack of flour on his own back. When an attendant offered to carry it for him, he replied, ‘No. The fault is mine and I must bear the consequences for it myself.’ He then carried the flour to the woman and ordered the next day that a ration be granted for a child from the day it was born, because the nursing mother would be in need of better nourishment as she feeds the child.” (Islam Ka Iqtasadi Nizam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 18, pp. 61-62)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:
“It is Islam alone that has established the rights of every person. According to Islam, every person’s sustenance, lodging and clothing is the responsibility of the government, and Islam was the very first to establish this principle. Now, other governments are also following suit, but not to the full extent. Insurance is still bought and family pensions are given out, but the principle of the government being responsible for the sustenance and clothing of young and old was not presented by any religion before Islam. Worldly governments take census in order to collect taxes or for the purposes of military conscription; so that if the need arises, they may know how many youths will be available to them. However, the very first census taken by Islam during the era of Hazrat Umarra was for the purpose of providing food and clothing, not in order to impose taxes or to find out how many youths can be available for the army when needed. That census was solely conducted so that every person could be provided food and clothing.
“There is no doubt that a census was also conducted during the time of the Holy Prophetsa, but at the time, the Muslims did not hold governance, thus the purpose of that census was only to determine the number of Muslims. The first census taken by an Islamic government was during the era of Hazrat Umarra, and was conducted so that every person could be provided food and clothing.
“This is a matter of vital importance, which can establish peace in the entire world. It is said that one ought to submit a request [for rations etc.] and it will be evaluated [by the government]; however, not everyone’s sense of honour will permit them to submit such a request that would then be evaluated. Thus, Islam established the principle that the responsibility of providing food and clothing lies upon the government which will be provided to the rich and poor alike; even if they are millionaires and even if they decide to pass it on to someone else. This is so that nobody is made to feel as if they are inferior.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, p. 308)
If the rich are righteous, then they will certainly give forth whatever they are given to those in need, rather than benefitting from it themselves.
During the era of Hazrat Umarra, countries were divided into provinces. In 20AH, Hazrat Umarra split the occupied territories into eight provinces so that administrative affairs could be better dealt with:
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 185, Dar-ul-Ishaaat Karachi )
Shura [consultative body] was also established during Hazrat Umar’sra era. Representatives from both the Muhajireen and Ansar would be present in meetings of the consultative body. The Ansar comprised of two tribes – the Aus and Khazraj – hence it was necessary for representatives from both tribes to be present. Hazrat Uthmanra, Hazrat Alira, Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf, Hazrat Mu‘az bin Jabalra, Hazrat Ubayyra bin Kaab and Hazrat Zaidra bin Thabit would also be present at these meetings. The procedure of these meetings was that a caller would make the announcement of:
meaning that everyone should gather for prayer. When people would gather, Hazrat Umarra would enter Masjid Nabawi and offer two rak‘aat [units] of prayer. After completing his prayer, he would go to the pulpit and deliver a sermon, and the matter which required discussion would be presented. Subsequently, a discussion would then ensue. When it came to smaller matters pertaining to everyday life, the decision of this body would be considered sufficient; however, when a more serious matter was presented, a general meeting comprising of the Muhajireen and Ansar would be held and the matter would be settled upon everyone’s consensus. Various matters such as the army’s salary, structure of offices, appointments of governors, the freedom of foreigners to conduct business and the stipulation of tariffs would be presented and determined in the meetings of this consultative body. The meetings of the Shura would usually be held only when very important matters arose. Aside from this, there was another meeting which would speak about administrative and important matters on a daily basis. This meeting would always take place in Masjid Nabawi and only the Muhajireen Companions would take part. In the daily meetings for reports on the provinces and districts that would reach the Khalifa, Hazrat Umarra would ask whether there was any other matter to be discussed and would take people’s opinion. Aside from the members of the Shura, the general population also had a say in administrative matters. It was often the case that the governor of a province or district would be appointed by the citizens. In fact, in some instances, formal elections would be held. When tax collectors were being appointed in Kufa, Basra and Syria, Hazrat Umarra instructed all three provinces that they should each select and send a person who they like and who they deem to be the most trustworthy and capable among all the people. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 180-182, Dar-ul-Ishaaat Karachi )
With regard to the appointment of governors and the guidance given to them by Hazrat Umarra, it is written that for important services, office-bearers would be appointed through the Shura – those upon whom everyone agreed would be appointed. Sometimes, he would send instructions to the governor of a province or district saying that the most capable person should be selected and sent. Thus, Hazrat Umarra would appoint those selected people as governors. Hazrat Umarra appointed a higher salary for governors; this too had great wisdom behind it and was so they would carry out their duties in an honest manner and without any greed. Hazrat Umarra would advise office-bearers, “Remember, I have not sent you as commanders and tyrants; rather, I have sent you as leaders, so that people may follow you. Fulfil the rights of Muslims. Do not abuse and demean them” i.e. do not punish them unnecessarily; “rather, try to fulfil their rights. Do not unnecessarily compliment anyone lest they fall into trial. Do not keep your doors closed to them, lest the strong devour the weak. Do not give yourself precedence over anyone for this would be an injustice upon the people.”
An oath would be taken from whoever was appointed as a governor that they would not ride on a Turkish horse, they would not wear fine clothes, they would not eat sifted flour, they would not appoint gatekeepers and they would always keep their doors open to those in need. This guidance was for all appointed governors and they would be read out to the people. After these governors had been appointed, an inventory of their wealth and possessions would be made. If there was an unusual increase in the possessions of the office-holder, which he was not able to justify, he was immediately called to account, and the excess wealth would be given to the treasury. Governors were instructed that they must gather on the occasion of Hajj where public hearings would be held and any complaint against a governor would be addressed immediately. Complaints against the governors would be presented, there was an office in order to investigate them which comprised of esteemed companions who would carry out the investigations. If the complaint turned out to be valid, the governors would be held accountable. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 189-193, Dar-ul-Ishaat Karachi )
With regard to the complaints made against governors and the manner in which Hazrat Umarra handled them, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:
“There is an incident in relation to Hazrat Umarra. The people of Kufa were quite rebellious and would always raise complaints against their office bearers; saying that such and such judge is a certain way or that one person has this weakness and another person has that weakness. Upon these complaints, Hazrat Umarra would change the governors and would send a different one in his place. Some people said to Hazrat Umarra that this was not right, and that if he continued changing them, [the people of Kufa] would continue making complaints, therefore he should not constantly change the governors. However, Hazrat Umarra said that he would continue changing the governors until the people of Kufa themselves became tired of making complaints.
“When he received similar complaints from them for some time, Hazrat Umarra said, ‘I will now send the people of Kufa a governor who will see to them.’ This governor, who was sent by Hazrat Umarra, was a 19-year-old youth by the name of Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila. When the people of Kufa came to know of the fact that a 19-year-old youth was appointed as their governor, they said [to each other] that come, let us all make fun of him.
“The people of Kufa were mischievous. They gathered all the [senior] individuals that would adorn themselves in cloaks and robes, who were 70, 80 and even 90 years of age and decided that all the people of the city ought to accompany these elderly individuals in order to welcome Abdur Rahman and mockingly ask him of his age, and when he answered, they would mock him extensively over the fact that a boy had been appointed as their governor. Hence, in accordance with this scheme, they went two or three miles out of the city in order to welcome him.
“Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila was also approaching riding a donkey from the opposing direction. All the people of Kufa were standing in rows and the front row consisted of the elderly chiefs. When Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila approached, these people asked, ‘Is it you who has been appointed as our governor, and is your name Abdur Rahman?’ He replied in the affirmative. Upon this, a senior person from among them came forward and asked, ‘What is your age?’ Abdur Rahman replied, ‘My age? You can guess my age from the fact that when the Holy Prophetsa appointed Usama bin Zaidra as the commander-in-chief over 10,000 companions, among whom were Abu Bakrra and Umarra as well, I am one year older than Usama bin Zaidra was on that occasion.’ Hearing this, all of them stepped back and their plans were shattered. They retreated in embarrassment and said to one another that as long as this boy stayed [among us], they should not dare utter a word [to him] lest he took strict action. Hence, he governed over them for a long time and the people of Kufa did not dare to confront him.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 23, pp. 222-223)
Then, there was the system of revenue collection. Following the conquest of Iraq and Syria, Hazrat Umarra turned his attention towards the management of revenues. Previous kings had forcibly taken land from people and distributed it among their courtiers and chiefs, Hazrat Umarra returned these lands back to the local people. Along with this, Hazrat Umarra ordered that the Arabs, who had spread across these lands, would not carry out any agricultural work. That is, the Arabs would not be involved in farming. The benefit of this was that the Arabs did not have the experience of the farming methods required of that area as compared to the locals. Every region has its own method for agriculture. Hence, it was ordered that those who were not locals and had come from outside would not be involved in agriculture and that this would be carried out by the locals.
Previously, Kharaj [tax on land] was forcibly taken from the people. After establishing rules in relation to taxes, Hazrat Umarra eased the method by which taxes were collected to a great extent and he also made new amendments. He took great care of non-Muslims [dhimmi] living under Muslim rule and at the time of collecting taxes, he regularly asked if any injustice had been committed against them. He would ask the opinion of the non-Muslim subjects, who were either Zoroastrians or Christians and he would also regard their opinions. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 198, 202, pp. 209-210, Dar-ul-Ishaat Karachi )
For the expansion of agriculture, Hazrat Umarra said in relation to barren pieces of land that whoever cultivated them, it would become their property and a period of three years was designated for this. Rivers were made to flow and the department of irrigation was established, which also oversaw the formation of ponds etc. (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 209-210, Dar-ul-Isha’at Karachi )
This was carried in order to better the agricultural system.
These were some of the achievements, which I have just mentioned. There are further accounts of Hazrat Umarra remaining, insha-Allah, they will be mentioned in the future sermons.
I would like to make an announcement and that is an Ahmadiyya Encyclopaedia has been created and will be launched today; it has been made by the Central Ahmadiyya Archive & Research Centre.
They began work on it some time ago and now, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, this website is being made available for members of the Jamaat. It is available on www.ahmadipedia.org, where a homepage containing a search engine will open and can be used to search for information.
It has been designed in a very simple and easy-to-use manner. Key information has been added regarding the books of the Jamaat, personalities, incidents, beliefs and places. Each entry contains the relevant websites, videos, links to those topics found in Jamaat periodicals, so that detailed information can be obtained through these means. One benefit of the links to further research on the topics will be that those searching will be able to reach the other websites of the Jamaat and they will be able to benefit from all the newspapers and magazines [of the Jamaat].
Ahmadis around the world have beneficial information with them which is not recorded anywhere. On the Ahmadipedia website, there is a “contribute” option, where people can send in information, observations or documents on any topic.
They will not be able to directly upload information on it. In fact, they will have to provide it to the central team and after assessing and verifying it, it will then be uploaded under the relevant entry. In this manner, through the cooperation of the Jamaat, this website will be an ongoing project and will, insha-Allah, be beneficial to every Ahmadi.
If anyone is unable to find certain material, they can contact Ahmadipedia and they will arrange to provide the relevant material on the website. They have further stated that although a lot of information has been uploaded through authentic sources; however, if anyone has any information that is different to the information provided on any subject, then they can provide the necessary facts, so that after verifying it, the history of the Jamaat can be authentically preserved.
The central IT team has worked in an excellent manner and with great effort in order to prepare the website and all its various technical phases. Their team consists of their full-time workers and also volunteers.
For the website’s content, the missionaries serving in the central archive department [ARC] and also the volunteers have worked extremely hard. They have worked extremely diligently in locating the information, translating the material from Urdu, uploading the content and various other tasks related to the website.
May Allah the Almighty reward them all. After the Friday prayers, insha-Allah, I will launch the website.
(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 23 July 2021, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions)