Hazrat Umar (ra) also established formal prisons. Prior to this, there was no concept of prisons as such. Criminals would also receive severe punishments. Hazrat Umar (ra) also established the treasury. Prior to the era of Hazrat Umar (ra), whatever wealth was received would be immediately distributed. During the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), a house was purchased and dedicated for the treasury. However, this remained closed as whatever wealth was received would immediately be distributed. In the 15th year after Hijra, an amount of 500,000 was received from Bahrain and upon this, Hazrat Umar (ra) consulted the companions as to what should be done with it. One suggestion was that in the royal courts in Syria, they had a treasury. Hazrat Umar (ra) liked this suggestion and laid the foundation for a treasury in Medina. Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Arqam was appointed as the supervisor of the treasury. Later on, treasuries were established outside of Medina as well as in the headquarters of all the other provinces. Hazrat Umar (ra) would construct buildings within a limited budget; however, he would build extremely strong and magnificent buildings for the treasuries. Later on, Hazrat Umar (ra) also appointed security guards for the treasuries.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 203- 205, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
In other words, a formal system of security was established for this. Hazrat Umar (ra) would personally safeguard the money of the treasury. An incident is recorded in history that a freed slave of Hazrat Uthman (ra) bin Affan relates that it was extremely hot one day and he was accompanying Hazrat Uthman (ra) and they were with his cattle at a place called Aliyah. Aliyah is a valley at a distance of four to eight miles from Medina and in the direction of Najd. Hazrat Uthman (ra) saw a man walking and was taking two young camels along with him.
With regard to the projects started by Hazrat Umar (ra) which are known as “Awwaliyat-e-Farooqi”, Allama Shibli Naumani writes in his book, Al-Farooq that all the various projects that were started for the first time by Hazrat Umar (ra) have been all been listed by the historians and are known as “Awwaliyat” i.e. they were initiated by Hazrat Umar (ra). They are as follows:
Hazrat Umar (ra) established the bait-ul-mal [the treasury]
He established courts and appointed judges
He established the system of recording the dates and years which continues even till today
He initiated the use of the title of “amir-ul-mu‘mineen” [leader of the faithful] for the Khalifa of the time
He established an official department for the army
He fixed salaries for the volunteers
He established an official department for the treasury
He established a system of measuring and surveying the lands
He conducted a census
He started the work of digging canals
He inhabited the various cities such as Kufa, Basra, Jazira, Fustat, Mosul, etc.
He divided the conquered lands into various provinces
He established the system of Ushoor, a tax at the rate of 1/10. Ushoor was initiated by Hazrat Umar (ra) and it came about when the Muslims would travel to non-Muslim lands for trade and they would be charged tax at the rate of 1/10 which was the rate that was set there. Hazrat Abu Musa Asharira informed Hazrat Umar (ra) of this and Hazrat Umar (ra) instructed that those traders who would come to the Muslim lands should also be charged tax at the rate of 1/10
A tax was fixed on whatever was procured from the rivers and tax collectors were appointed
He gave permission for those traders who belonged to a country with whom the Muslims did not have any treaty to enter the Muslim lands and engage in trade
He established a system of prisons
He initiated the punishment of “durrah” [a form of cane]
He established the practise of doing rounds at night and assessing the conditions and circumstances of the public
He established the system of policing
He established various army barracks
He distinguished between the Aseel and Mujanis breed of horses, which was not previously done in the Arab land
He started a system of reporting
He built rest-houses for those travelling from Mecca to Medina
He established allowances for the orphans
He built guest houses in various cities
He established a rule that an Arab cannot be made a slave even if he is a disbeliever
He established allowances for those Christians and Jews who were facing improvised circumstances
He established offices
He assigned salaries to the teachers in schools
He insisted that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) should start to compile the various manuscripts of the Holy Quran in its correct order [as taught by the Holy Prophet (sa)] and Hazrat Umar (ra) completed this task under his own supervision
He established the rule of qiyas [the deduction of legal prescriptions from the Quran or sunnah by analogical reasoning.]
He established the system of “Aul” which is to include certain people into the share of inheritance
He established the Tarawih prayer to be performed in congregation
He considered giving three divorces at once as talaq bain [complete separation]; however, he did this as a punishment for those who engaged in this practice [of issuing three divorces at once]
He instituted 80 lashes for indulgence in alcohol
He prescribed the Zakat on horses used for trade
He instated Zakat upon the Christians of Banu Tha‘lab instead of Jizya
He initiated the system of devoted service
He brought everyone to a consensus regarding the number of takbir [Allah is the greatest] recited during the funeral prayer. Generally, the prescribed way is saying three takbir, or four if one counts the first, until the last before saying salaam [ending the prayer]. The same is done today
He outlined guidance in relation to delivering lectures or discourse in mosques. With his permission, Tamim Dari delivered the discourse in accordance with this and this was the first lecture of its kind in Islam
Salaries were prescribed for imams and muazzins [callers to prayer]
He arranged for there to be light in the mosques at night
He ordained a punishment for publicly ridiculing others through writing and literature
He prohibited the mention of women’s names in romantic poems, which was an ancient custom in Arabia
Allama Shibli writes that aside from these, there are many other things that were initiated by Hazrat Umar (ra), but he has not mentioned them as the list would become too long.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 401 – 403, 212, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 1991)
How did Hazrat Umar (ra) look after those who had rendered services for the faith for a long time and offered sacrifices? Regarding this, Tha‘labah bin Abi Malik states:
“Hazrat Umar (ra) bin al-Khattab was distributing shawls to the women of Medina. Out of these good-quality shawls, one remained. From among the people there, one of them said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! Give it to the daughter of the Holy Prophet (sa), who is with you [in marriage].’” He was referring to Hazrat Umm Kulthumra, the daughter of Hazrat Ali (ra).
“Hazrat Umar (ra) said, ‘No, Umm Salit is more deserving.’ Hazrat Umar (ra) further said, ‘Hazrat Umm Salit is from among those women of the Ansar who pledged allegiance to the Holy Prophet (sa). She used to carry water bags for us during the Battle of Uhud.’”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Bab Dhikr Umm Salit, Hadith 4071)
There is also mention in the narrations about how Hazrat Umar (ra) would bestow favours on the relatives of those who offered sacrifices. Zaid bin Aslam narrates on the authority of his father:
“I went to the market with Hazrat Umar (ra) bin al-Khattab. A young woman came from behind and greeted Hazrat Umar (ra) and said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! My husband has passed away, leaving behind young children. By Allah, they do not even have sheep trotters [to eat]. They do not have any land to harvest nor any animal that gives milk. I fear lest they succumb to famine. I am the daughter of Khufaf bin Ima Al-Ghifari; my father was present with the Holy Prophet (sa) during the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah.’
“Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar (ra) stopped where he was and did not proceed further. Hazrat Umar (ra) said, ‘That is wonderful! Such a close relation.’ Then Hazrat Umar (ra) left and returned with a strong and healthy camel which was tied at his home. He loaded two sacks of grain on it; between the two sacks he placed enough money and clothes that would last them for an entire year. He then gave the reins of the camel to the woman and said, ‘Take this. This will not have finished by which time Allah will grant you more.’ A person said, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! You have given a lot to this woman.’ Hazrat Umar (ra) replied, ‘May your mother mourn for you’”, i.e. he expressed his displeasure. “‘By Allah! I can still see her father and her brother before me, and how they managed to besiege a fort for a long time and eventually capture it. After that in the morning we divided their portions between us.’ i.e. the fort was conquered by both of them, for which all the Muslims received the spoils of war from it.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Bab Ghazwat Hudaibiyah, Hadith 4160, 4161)
In other words, they all took a share from their portion [of the spoils]. This was the reason why she deserved all of the wealth given to her.
Similarly, Hazrat Umar (ra) established a system for the army. Hazrat Umar (ra) organised the structure for the military. He ensured for registries to be made according to their ranks and also fixed their salaries. Hazrat Umar (ra) divided the army into two parts: one part that would regularly partake in battle and the second part consisted of volunteers who would be called upon in time of need. Hazrat Umar (ra) was mindful of the training of the army and issued strict orders that in occupied territories, army personnel would not be involved in trade or agriculture. The army serving in the occupied territories were not to involve themselves in any trade or agriculture business, because if they did there was a danger that they would lose their military prowess.
These days, we see that in Muslim countries as well, army personnel are involved in trade and businesses. In fact, regarding one country, it is said that previously, when obtaining commission, officers would focus their attention on their relevant field of expertise, but now as soon as an officer receives their commission, they check where a new development or a defence colony is being made where they can secure an allotment for themselves. And for this reason, their military prowess is diminishing.
Furthermore, it is mentioned that when launching a campaign against those countries which had hotter and colder weathers, the climate would be taken into account, so that the army remained healthy and active and their health was not adversely affected. Hazrat Umar (ra) issued strict orders for every person in the army to know swimming, horse-riding, how to use a bow and arrow and to be able to walk barefoot. After every four months, the soldiers were permitted to return home to their families and were given leave.
In order to make them strong and tough, he ordered that the army personnel not use stirrups when mounting their horse; instead, they had to jump onto the horse. They were ordered to abstain from wearing soft clothes, avoid the sun and not to shower in hammams, as this would incline them towards ease and comforts.
In springtime, Hazrat Umar (ra) would order the army to be sent to lush green areas. The atmosphere and climate would be taken into account when building the army barracks as this was important that the army be sent to lush green areas so that they would remain in good health owing to the clean climate. Hazrat Umar (ra) would be mindful of the environment and climate around them. He constructed military cantonments in every province. A military base was established in all the main areas such as Medina, Kufa, Basra, Mosul, Fustat, Damascus, Homs, Jordan and Palestine and there would always be an army on duty there. Every four months, the soldiers would be granted leave. At all times, these military bases contained 4,000 horses which were looked after. The legs of the horses were branded with the words:
جَيْشٌ فِيْ سَبِيْلِ اللّٰه
“Army in the way of Allah.”
During the Khilafat of Hazrat Umar (ra), the Islamic army developed new implements of war in order to aid their progress. These included implements to break down fortresses such as catapults and dabbabah. Dabbabah was a weapon used to break down and destroy forts. People would be seated inside it and it would be used to make holes in the walls of the fort in order to make them collapse.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 216- 218, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004) (Sirat Al-Sahaba, Vol. 1, pp. 126-127, Muin-ul-Din Nadvi, Dar-ul-Isha‘at Karachi, Pakistan, 2004) (Lisan-ul-Arab, under “D-b-b”)
Under the Islamic government, non-Muslims were granted senior positions. It was not the case that only Muslims were given key posts; in fact, non-Muslims and non-Arabs also held key positions. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“During the time of the caliphs of the Holy Prophet (sa), despite the fact that various nations [under Islamic rule] were not all living peacefully, they were still granted their rights.
“Allama Shibli, states, ‘Hazrat Umar (ra) expanded the structure of the military in a way that there was no distinction between any nationality nor was there religious bias. The part of the army which consisted of volunteers had thousands of majusis’”, i.e. those who did not worship God, but instead worshipped the fire or the sun, “‘and were given the same salaries as the Muslims.’ There were majusis in the administration of the army as well. Similarly, he writes, ‘Greek and Romans were part of the army and 500 were present at the time of the conquest of Egypt.’”
Today, in Pakistan, they say that Ahmadis should be removed from the army as it is a sensitive position, whereas if one studies history, Ahmadi army officers have offered the most sacrifices for Pakistan. Nonetheless, these are their own schemes.
“With regard to Hazrat Umar (ra), it is stated that when Amr (ra) bin al-Aas developed the city of Fustat, he divided it up in quarters. This [fair] treatment was also extended to the Jews and during the conquest of Egypt, 1,000 Jews were present in the Islamic army. Similarly, it is proven from history that people belonging to other nations were appointed as officers in the army. People belonging to other nations were even appointed as officers in times of war. In the time of Hazrat Umar (ra), the Iranians were appointed as officers in the army and their names are mentioned in history.
Allama Shibli has mentioned the names of six officers: Siyah, Khusraw, Shehryar, Sheerviyah, Shahrviyah and Afrodeen. These officers would be paid from the official treasury and their names were on the payroll. After the four Khulafa [Rashideen], it is mentioned in history that in the time of Hazrat Mu‘awiyah (ra), a Christian by the name of Ibn Asaal was the finance minister.”
The reference which I have just read about “Afrodeen” was stated by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) in Tafsir-e-Kabir, wherein he cited a reference of Allama Shibli’s book, Al-Farooq and the same name is written in that as well. However, in Arabic books, the name is written as “Afrodheen”, with [the letter] “Dhal” as opposed to [the letter] “Dal”.
(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, p. 534) (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 504, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah Beirut, 1987)
Nonetheless, there is a minor difference of “Dhal” and “Dal”, but as people begin disputes over such matters, for this reason, I have given this explanation.
Similarly, market control and price control was implemented; Islam prohibited dropping prices through unlawful means and this was enforced by Hazrat Umar (ra).
There is a narration with regard to how Hazrat Umar (ra) would ensure the moral upbringing of children. Yusuf bin Yaqub said, “Ibn Shihab said to me, my brother and my cousin when we were still young children, ‘You should not consider yourself inferior based on the fact that you are children. The reason for this is that whenever Hazrat Umar (ra) encountered a certain issue, he would gather the children and seek their suggestions as well and he did this with the aim of sharpening their minds.’”
(Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 165, Egypt, Al-Azhar)
According to most historians, Abdul Malik bin Marwan introduced the first Islamic coin. Some of the historians of Madinah have stated that the first Islamic coins were introduced in the era of Hazrat Umar (ra). They would have the words, “All praise belongs to Allah” inscribed on them and others had “Muhammad (sa) the Messenger of Allah” and “There is none worthy of worship except Allah, Who is One” inscribed on them, but they did not completely discard the coins used from the era of the Persian rulers.
According to a research, the first Islamic coins were introduced in 17 AH in Damascus during the era of Hazrat Umar (ra), but they would contain the image of the Byzantine kings and Latin inscription on them. According to another narration, it was in 28 AH during the era of Hazrat Uthman (ra) that a purely Islamic coin was used. Initially, in the Persian lands, their original coins were used and they would have the image of the Persian kings on them, but the words, “In the name of Allah”, would be inscribed on them in Kufic script.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 250, Idaara Islamiyaat, Karachi, 2004) (Justujoo-e-Madinah, p. 310, Abdul Hamid Qadri, Oriental Publications Pakistan)
Mujama‘ Taimi narrates that once Hazrat Ali (ra) distributed all the wealth that was in the Treasury [Bait-ul-Mal] amongst the Muslims. He then ordered for it to be whitewashed with limestone. After this, he offered the Salat and hoped that this [room of the treasury] would be a witness for him on the Day of Judgement.
(Ibn Abd al-Barr, Al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifat al-Ashab, Vol. 3, Dhikr Ali bin Abi Talib [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Jil, 1992], 1111-1113) (Lughat al-Hadith, Vol. 3, p. 575, Nashir Nu‘mani Kutub Khana, Lahore, 2005)
“Hazrat Uthman (ra) said to me, ‘Find out as to who this is!’ I replied by saying, ‘It is a man draped in a cloak who is pulling two young camels.’ When the man drew nearer, Hazrat Uthman (ra) again asked, ‘Who is this person?’ I saw and realised that it is was Hazrat Umar (ra) bin Al-Khattab. I submitted, ‘It is Amirul Momineen [the Leader of the Faithful].’ Hazrat Uthman (ra) stood up and peered out from the door when a searing gust of hot air caused him to withdraw his head, but he quickly turned in the direction of Hazrat Umar (ra) and submitted, ‘What has compelled you to leave your home at this hour?’ Hazrat Umar (ra) explained, ‘These two camels were left behind from among the camels for sadaqah [alms], and all other camels had been shepherded away. I wanted to take them to the pastures for fear that they may get lost and thus Allah would hold me accountable for them.’ Hazrat Uthman (ra) stated, ‘O Amirul Momineen, please come under the shade and have a drink of water, we are present here to serve you.” In other words, they would arrange for them to be sent. “Hazrat Umar (ra) replied, ‘Return and rest and be seated in your shade.’”
The freed slave of Hazrat Uthman (ra) continues to narrate, “I submitted, ‘We have that which is adequate for you also.’ Hazrat Umar (ra) replied to this and said, ‘Return to your shade.’ Following this, he departed. Hazrat Uthman (ra) then stated: ‘Whosoever desires to observe Al-Qawiyy and Al-Ameen’”, that is, the strong and trustworthy, “‘then he should look to this man.’”
In another narration, it is recorded that Umar bin Nafi narrates from Abu Bakr Isa, “I accompanied Hazrat Umar (ra) bin Al-Khattab, Hazrat Uthman (ra) bin Affan and Hazrat Ali (ra) bin Abi Talib when charity was being collected. Hazrat Uthman (ra) was sat under a shade while Hazrat Ali (ra) stood near him and repeated all the things Hazrat Umar (ra) was stating. Hazrat Umar (ra), undeterred by the severe heat of day, stood in the sun with two black cloaks, one used as a lower garment and the other as a head covering, while inspecting and noting down the age and colour of the camels that had been donated for charity. Hazrat Ali (ra) then said to Hazrat Uthman (ra), ‘Have you heard of this saying of the daughter of Shu‘aib in Allah’s book:
اِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ اسْتَاْجَرْتَ الْقَوِيُّ الْاَمِيْنُ
“That is, ‘The best man you can hire is the one who is strong and trustworthy’? Then, Hazrat Ali (ra) indicated toward Hazrat Umar (ra) and said, ‘He is very strong and a trustworthy man.’”
(Usdul Ghaba Fi Marifat Al-Sahaba, Vol. 3, p. 667, Dar-ul-Fikr Beirut Lebanon, 2003) (Umdahtul Qari Sharah Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 16, p. 279, Dar-e-Ihya Al-Turath Alarabi, Beirut)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) narrates an incident related to this regarding Hazrat Umar (ra):
“Hazrat Uthman (ra) recounts, ‘I was once seated in my quarters and the heat was so severe that it was difficult to even muster the strength to open the door. In the meantime, one of my assistants told me that there was a man walking outside in the scorching heat. I moved the curtains to find a man whose face was burnt by the intense heat. I replied saying that he must be a traveller, but just a few moments later, that man arrived closer to my quarters and I realised that it was Hazrat Umar (ra). Upon seeing him, I became concerned and went outside and asked, ‘Where are you going at this time in this intense heat?’ Hazrat Umar (ra) said, “A camel from the treasury has been lost and I am out searching for it.”’”
(Tafsir-e-Kabir Vol. 8, pp. 314-315)
This is the incident of a camel that was lost, and it was mentioned once before as well.
Hazrat Umar (ra) was once distributing wealth from the treasury when his daughter came and took a dirham. Hazrat Umar (ra) stood to retrieve it from her which caused his cloak to dangle from one shoulder. Upon seeing this, the girl raced home crying and put the dirham in her mouth. Hazrat Umar (ra) used his finger to remove the dirham from her mouth and returned it to the treasury and said, “O people, Umar and his family, whether closely related or distantly, have the same rights as any Muslim does and nothing more.”
There is also another narration; Hazrat Abu Musa (ra) once donated a broom to the treasury and received a dirham. A young child of Hazrat Umar (ra) passed by and Abu Musa (ra) gave that dirham to the child. Hazrat Umar (ra) saw the dirham in the child’s hand and asked about it, and the child informed him that he received it from Abu Musa (ra). After learning that the dirham had come from the treasury, Hazrat Umar (ra) said, “O Abu Musa (ra), did you not find anyone amongst the dwellers of Medina more in need than the household of Umar? Did you desire that none should be left out from the ummah of Muhammad (sa) but that they should seek recompense from us for this wrong?” He then returned the dirham to the treasury.
(Izaalatul-Khulafa An Khilafat Al-Khualafa, translated by Istiaq Ahmad Sahib, Vol. 3, p. 286, Qadeemi Kutub Khana Araam Baagh Karachi)
It is also narrated: “After Hazrat Umar (ra) expelled the Jews from Khaybar, he took the Ansar and Muhajireen with him. Hazrat Jabbar (ra) bin Sakkhar and Hazrat Yazid (ra) bin Thabit were also with him. Both used to visit Khaybar in order to evaluate the profits from its land and they had fixed everyone’s share in accordance with the distribution.”
During the distribution of the Valley of Qura where Hazrat Umar (ra) granted various Companions their shares, there he also granted one share to Hazrat Jabbar (ra) bin Sakkhar.
May Allah the Almighty exalt their status continuously.
Shura [consultative body] was also established during Hazrat Umar’s (ra) 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 Uthman (ra), Hazrat Ali (ra), Hazrat Abdur Rahman (ra) bin Auf, Hazrat Mu‘az bin Jabal (ra), Hazrat Ubayy (ra) bin Kaab and Hazrat Zaid (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 how Hazrat Umar (ra) would look after the elderly, physically impaired and poor men and women, there is a narration in which Hazrat Talha (ra) states that one night he saw Hazrat Umar (ra) leave his house in the darkness of the night. Hazrat Umar (ra) entered one house and then another.
The next morning, Hazrat Talha (ra) went to one of the two houses where he found a blind elderly woman sitting down. Hazrat Talha (ra) asked her, “The man that visited last night, what does he come here to do?” The elderly woman replied, “He has been helping me for quite some time. He completes my work for me and cleans up.” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Talha (ra) said to himself in regret, “O Talha! May your mother mourn for you! Woe be unto you! You went in search of an error on Umar’s part, but the matter is something completely different.”
(Ibn al-Juzi, Sirat Umar al-Khattab [Al-Azhar, Egypt: al-Matba‘ah al-Misriyyah], p. 58)
These were the extraordinary standards of service to one’s people that were established by Hazrat Umar (ra).
There are many narrations which demonstrate that Hazrat Umar (ra) looked after the poor, women and children, and how owing to his fear of Allah, he would support them and become anxious to help. If he would see that someone’s needs from among his people were not being fulfilled, he would become restless as a result of it.
I have mentioned some examples in the previous Friday Sermons in reference to certain matters. For example, on one occasion, Hazrat Umar (ra) asked a woman why her child was crying, to which she replied that since Umar (ra) did not fix a ration for suckling babies, she was trying to ween him and had stopped giving him milk, and so he was crying out of hunger. Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar (ra) became restless and immediately arranged for her food provisions. He then announced that from then on, every new-born child would be assigned a ration.
(Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 10 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Hijr, 1997] pp. 185-186)
Similarly, a woman who was travelling, did not have any food and had to camp for the night. Her children were crying out of hunger. In the night, when Hazrat Umar (ra) learned of this, he became worried; he immediately went to the store and took food provisions himself to her. He was not content until he cooked the food, fed the children and they began to laugh and play. Only then did he leave from there.
(Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 5, Thumma Dakhalat Sanah Thalath Ishrin/Dhikr Ba‘d Siyarih [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Fikr, 1998], p. 62)
There is an incident regarding how Hazrat Umar (ra) showed compassion and kindness to animals. Ahnaf bin Qais narrates:
“We came as a delegation and gave Hazrat Umar (ra) good news of a great victory. Hazrat Umar (ra) asked where we were staying, to which I replied that we were staying at such and such place. Hazrat Umar (ra) started walking with me. We reached the place where the camels for our transportation were tied. After examining every single camel, Hazrat Umar (ra) said, ‘You have no fear of Allah with regards to your mounts. Do you not know that they have a right over you! Why did you not leave them free so they could graze freely on the grass?’”
(Sirat Umar bin al-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 171, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
Hazrat Umar (ra) once saw a camel which was greatly fatigued and showed signs of illness. Salim bin Abdillah narrates that Hazrat Umar (ra) bin al-Khattab placed his hand on the camel’s back next to an injury mark and said to himself, “I fear lest Allah the Almighty questions me regarding you.”
(Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 217, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
Aslam narrates that on one occasion, Hazrat Umar (ra) said, “I feel like eating fresh fish.” Yarfa, the name of one of Hazrat Umar’s (ra) slaves, took his mount and rode four miles in both directions and bought a good quality fish. He then turned to the mount and washed it. In the meantime, Hazrat Umar (ra) came and said to come with him. He saw the mount and then said, “You forgot to wipe the sweat underneath the ears. You put an animal through pain in order to fulfil Umar’s desire. By Allah! Umar will not even taste this fish.”
(Kanzul Ummal, Kitab-ul-Fazail, Vol. 6, p. 287, narration no. 35966, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
One afternoon, a delegation came from Iraq to see Hazrat Umar (ra) in the summer months. Ahnaf bin Qais was also present in this delegation. Hazrat Umar (ra) was wearing a turban and was applying pitch etc. on the camels for Zakat. Hazrat Umar (ra) stated, “O Ahnaf! Take off your [outer] clothes and come and assist the Leader of the Faithful with this camel. It is a camel for Zakat. Orphans, widows and the poor have a right over it.”
(Kanzul Ummal, Vol. 3, p. 303, Kitab al-Khilafah wa al-Imarah, Hadith 14303, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)
With regard to the prohibition of dropping the prices, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“Islam does not permit that prices be forced down by unlawful means. Forcing down prices is also an unlawful way of earning money because owing to this, powerful traders would force the smaller traders to sell their commodities at a lower price and would succeed in making them bankrupt.
“In the time of Hazrat Umar (ra), while inspecting the market, he came across a trader from outside of Medina who was selling dried grapes at such low prices that local producers and traders could not compete with. Hazrat Umar (ra) ordered the man to remove his produce from the market or to sell it at the price other traders were selling in Medina.” The traders of Medina were not asking for an excessive price; it was a reasonable price in line with their expenditure.
“Hazrat Umar (ra) ordered for him to sell it for the same price. When asked for the reasons for this order, Hazrat Umar (ra) replied that without such an order the local merchants would have suffered a loss even though they were not charging an undue price.
“It is true that some companions questioned the validity of this order in view of the saying of the Holy Prophet (sa) that market prices should not be interfered with. However, their objection was not correct, since the prohibition against state intervention in market prices issued by the Holy Prophet (sa) pertained to interference in the principles of supply and demand. The government should avoid undue interference, as it is harmful.” The market supply and demand adjusts itself. “It would provide no benefit to consumers while inflicting serious losses upon traders”, if this was not permitted, “but assigning prices is permitted.”
(Islam Ka Iqtasadi Nizam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 18, p. 53)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) has explained this in detail in another place as follows:
“Among the rights of the citizens is that the trade and dealings should not be adversely impacted. We find that Islam has not overlooked this right and therefore has prohibited one from increasing the market price and selling at a higher price. Similarly, it has also prohibited one from significantly reducing the prices in order to cause loss to others and making their businesses fail. It is wrong to bring the prices down in order to see off the competition.
“Once, a trader was selling grapes in Medina at such a price which other traders could not afford to sell at. Hazrat Umar (ra) was walking by at the time and admonished the trader because owing to this act of his the other traders were suffering loss. Thus, Islam has prohibited one from selling products at an extremely high price and also from significantly reducing the prices, so that neither the traders are faced with loss and nor the members of the public.”
(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, p. 307)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) has described this incident in the following manner:
“In accordance with the promise of Allah the Almighty, the Muslims were granted riches, wealth, honour and status, yet they did not become neglectful of Islam.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) is explaining that even if one has a lot of wealth, they must not become neglectful of their faith, the teachings of Islam and their duties.
He then states:
“Hazrat Uthman (ra) relates, ‘I was once seated in my quarters and the heat was so severe that it was difficult to even muster the strength to open the door. In the meantime, one of my assistants told me that there was a man walking outside in the scorching heat […] a few moments later, that man arrived closer to my quarters and I realised that it was Hazrat Umar (ra). Upon seeing him, I became concerned and went outside and asked, ‘Where are you going at this time in this intense heat?’ Hazrat Umar (ra) said, ‘A camel from the treasury has been lost and I am out searching for it.’”
Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) then writes:
“Allah the Almighty states:
عَلَی الْاَرَآئِكِ يَنْظُرُوْنَ
That is, they would be sat on thrones, yet their duty would be to constantly remain watchful. The bounties and comforts of this world would not make them idle. They would not be heedless seated on the couches; rather they would, at all times, be alert and attentive. They would tend to the rights of the people and would continue to fulfil their official duties in an excellent manner.”
(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 8, pp. 314-315)
Similarly, Hazrat Umar (ra) also established a police department. In order to uphold the peace in the land, a police department was established by Hazrat Umar (ra). This department was given authority over accountability, maintaining peace and security and overseeing matters related to the marketplace etc. That is, to oversee whether or not people were correctly adhering to the guidelines and also to help people receive their due rights if they were being usurped and to oversee other official matters until they reached the judge. The department was given authority to oversee matters related to the safety and peace [of society] and matters related to the marketplace etc.
With regard to the Islamic government establishing an infrastructure for food and clothing for every person, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra), 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) and thought he was an ordinary person. Hence, she answered, ‘Are you unaware that Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) who created such a law.’ Hazrat Umar (ra) 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-Maud (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Prophet (sa), 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 Umar (ra), 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.
Then, in relation to how particular Hazrat Umar (ra) was about safeguarding the wealth of the treasury, there is a narration of Zaid bin Aslam who says, “Hazrat Umar (ra) bin al-Khattab drank milk, which he enjoyed.” Someone gave him a glass of milk, so he drank it and enjoyed it. “He asked the person who handed him the milk, ‘Where is this from?’ He replied by saying that he went to a spring and mentioned the name of the spring, where people were giving water to the Zakat camels. They milked the camels and brought some for him and he put it in a water bowl.’ Hazrat Umar (ra) put his hand in his mouth and vomited the milk out saying that it belonged to Zakat and that he would not drink it.”
(Al-Muwatta, Imam Malik, Kitab-ul-Zakat, Hadith 31, Ahya-ul-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, 1985)
Bara bin Ma‘rur’s son narrates, “Hazrat Umar (ra) once came out of his home then stood at the pulpit. At the time, he was unwell and was prescribed some honey for his illness. There was a pot of honey in the treasury. Hazrat Umar (ra) said to the people, ‘If you permit me, I shall take this, otherwise, it is not permissible for me.’ The people permitted him to do so.”
(Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra Li Ibn Saad, Vol. 3, p. 147, Dar-ul-Ahaya al-Turath Al-Arabi, Beirut, 1996)
In one narration, Salama relates:
“On one occasion, I was walking through the marketplace and Hazrat Umar (ra) was also passing by in order to attend to some work of his and he was holding a whip in his hand. Hazrat Umar (ra) stated, ‘O Salama! Walk to one side of the path.’ He then lightly hit me with the whip which tapped the corner of my garment. I moved to one side and Hazrat Umar (ra) remained silent. A year had passed since that incident and I met Hazrat Umar (ra) once again in the marketplace. Hazrat Umar (ra) stated, ‘O Salama! Do you intend to go for Hajj this year?’ I replied, ‘Yes, O Leader of the Faithful.’ Hazrat Umar (ra) then took hold of my hand and took me to his home. He then took out a small pouch with 600 dirhams inside it and stated, ‘O Salama, use this to fulfil any needs you may have and this is in retribution for when I hit you with a whip one year ago.’”
Hazrat Salama states, “Upon this, I submitted, ‘O Leader of the Faithful, I had completely forgotten about that incident and only today you have reminded me of this.’”
(Ibn al-Juzi, Sirat Umar al-Khattab [Al-Azhar, Egypt: al-Matba‘ah al-Misriyyah], p. 98)
Hazrat Umar (ra) would also monitor the market prices so that neither party’s rights as citizens of the land were affected.
Mentioning this, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“Among the rights of the citizens is that the trade and dealings should not be adversely impacted. We find that Islam has not overlooked this right and therefore has prohibited one from increasing the market price and selling at a higher price. Similarly, it has also prohibited one from significantly reducing the prices in order to cause loss to others and making their businesses fail”, just as we see in the markets today.
“Once, a trader was selling grapes in Medina at such a price which other traders could not afford to sell at. Hazrat Umar (ra) was walking by at the time and admonished the trader because owing to this act of his, the other traders were suffering loss. Thus, Islam has prohibited one from selling products at an extremely high price and also from significantly reducing the prices, so that neither the traders are faced with loss and nor the members of the public.”
(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, p. 307)
One day, Hazrat Bilal (ra) complained, “O Leader of the Faithful! Our Officers-in-Charge eat the fowl’s meat and white bread, whereas the general Muslim population eats ordinary food.”
Hazrat Umar (ra) enquired from the officers and they submitted, “Everything is very cheap here. For the price we pay for brown bread and dates in Hejaz, we can acquire fowl’s meat and white bread.”
Hazrat Umar (ra) did not compel the officers to refrain from this food, but he did issue an instruction that in addition to their share from the spoils of war and salaries, the meals for every soldier must also be provided.
Another detail of this is mentioned in another source as follows:
Hazrat Yazid (ra) bin Abi Sufyan stated, “The market price here is quite cheap and for the same cost we can buy provisions to last us a month. The food items mentioned by Bilal can be easily acquired here.” Hazrat Umar Al-Farooq (ra) stated, “If that is the case then eat to your fill. However, I will not leave from here until you present me with a list of commodities and their prices. I will prepare a budget for the Muslims facing straitened circumstances who dwell in the cities and villages. Subsequently, according to this budget, whatever needs the Muslims have, can be acquired from it and each household will be provided with wheat, barley, honey, olive, etc.”
Hazrat Umar (ra) then addressed the Muslims, who were faced with straitened circumstances and were not well-off, saying:
“Your leaders will continue to provide for you from this list which I have prepared for you. And this will be in addition to whatever I send you from the bait-ul-mal [treasury]. However, if any of your leaders fail to provide you with these provisions, then you should inform me and I will remove that person from their post.”
In the time of Hazrat Umar (ra), 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-Maud (ra) 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.
Amir relates that a person once came to Hazrat Umar (ra) and stated:
“I have a daughter who had been buried alive during the era of jahiliyyah [era prior to the advent of Islam]; however, I took her out before she passed away. Later, when she accepted Islam, she was prescribed one of the punishments which Allah the Almighty has ordained.” She was guilty of wrongdoing as a result of which she received a punishment.
“Subsequently, she took a knife in order to take her own life but I quickly took hold of her; however, she had managed to cut some of her veins. I then treated her until she fully recovered and she then sincerely repented. O Leader of the Faithful, I am now receiving messages asking for her hand in marriage; however, should I inform them of the previous incidents that took place in her life and what she did?” In response to this individual, Hazrat Umar (ra) stated, “Will you disclose those faults of hers which Allah the Almighty has concealed? By God, if you ever reveal those details to anyone, I shall punish you in front of the entire city in a manner which will serve as a great warning. In fact, you ought to settle her marriage like any other righteous Muslim woman. Forget about what has happened in the past.”
(Tafsir al-Tabari, Vol. 2, Surah al-Maidah, p. 127, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Edition 1, 2001)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) further states, “Hazrat Ali (ra)’s army took over the spoils belonging to the Khwarij and distributed the weapons and the mounts used in the war amongst the people. But upon returning to Kufa, Hazrat Ali (ra) returned the possessions, slaves and concubines to their owners.”
(Masalah-e-Nubuwwat ke Muta‘alliq Islami Nazariyyah, Anwar al-Ulum, Vol. 23, p. 363)
In relation to organising the education system, it is mentioned that Hazrat Umar (ra) greatly improved the education system. He established schools in all the countries [under Muslim rule] wherein the Holy Quran, hadith and fiqh were taught. The companions, who were great scholars were appointed as teachers and overseeing the moral training and a salary was also fixed for those who were appointed as teachers.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 233, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
There is an incident that has been related by Ibn Umar (ra). When Hazrat Umar (ra) returned from Syria to Medina, he separated from the others in order to enquire about the people (i.e. he separated himself from the caravan in order to enquire about the conditions of the people). He passed by an elderly woman who was in her tent. He began enquiring about her situation to which she replied, “What has Umar done?” Hazrat Umar (ra) replied, “He is here, he has returned from Syria.”
The woman said, “May Allah not bestow any goodness upon him from me.” Hazrat Umar (ra) replied, “Woe be unto you, why?” (i.e. why would she say such a thing?) She replied, “Ever since he has become the Khalifa, I have not received a single allowance; neither a dinar, nor a dirham from him.” Hazrat Umar (ra) said, “Alas! How would Umar know of your condition when you are living in a remote place far away near the jungle?”
The elderly lady did not know that she was speaking to Hazrat Umar (ra). To this, she replied, “Holy is Allah! I do not believe that someone can be appointed to rule over the people and he remains heedless of what is happening around him.” Hazrat Umar (ra) began to cry and said, “Woe to you, O Umar! How many similar complainants will there be, each one of them understands faith more than you!”
Hazrat Umar (ra) then said to her, “How much do you seek in recompense for the injustice done against you? I would like to save him from the Hellfire.” (That is, he would like to save Hazrat Umar (ra) from the Hellfire) and enquired how much it would take to make amends for this injustice. She said, “Do not mock me? May Allah have mercy on you.” Hazrat Umar (ra) replied that he was not mocking her and kept on insisting to tell him, until he managed to pay 25 dinars as recompense for the injustice done against her.
They were in the middle of this conversation when Hazrat Ali (ra) bin Abi Talib and Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Mas‘ud arrived and said, “Peace be upon you, O Leader of the Faithful!” Upon this, the woman placed her hands on her head and said, “May Allah have mercy on me! I spoke ill in front of the Leader of the Faithful!” Hazrat Umar (ra) then said, “No blame lies on you; may God have mercy on you.”
Hazrat Umar (ra) then asked for a leather parchment to write on but could not find one. He then ripped a piece of his cloak and wrote on it, “In the name of Allah, the Gracious, Ever Merciful. This manuscript is formed between Umar and such and such woman and affirms that all the injustices committed against her from the time he became leader until today has been compensated for with 25 dinars. Now if she stands before Allah on the Day of Resurrection and makes any claim, Umar is absolved from it. Ali bin Abi Talib and Abdullah bin Mas‘ud are a witness to this.”
He then gave this parchment to Hazrat Ali (ra) and said, “If I pass away before you, then place this inside my grave.”
(Izalat al-Khafa ‘an Khilafat al-Khulafa [Translated], Vol. 3, pp. 276-278, Manaqib Faruq A‘zam, Qadimi Kutub Khana, Karachi)
Hazrat Umar (ra) once appointed Hazrat Ammar bin Yasir (ra) as the governor of Kufa and sent the following instructions to the people of Kufa, “I have now sent Ammar bin Yasir (ra) as the Ameer and ibn Mas‘ud as the teacher and minister. I have also assigned to ibn Mas‘ud to oversee the Baitul Maal [the treasury]. The two of them are among the honoured Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) who participated in the Battle of Badr. Therefore, obey them, follow their orders and comply with everything they say. I have given preference to Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (ra) over myself. I have sent Usman bin Hunaif and appointed him to oversee in Al-Sawad” (An area in Iraq which has been named Sawad due to its fertile land and verdure.)
(At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 193, Ammar bin Yasir, Dar-ul-Ihya At-turath Al-Arabi, 1990, Beirut)
Then, after some complaint from the people of Kufa, Hazrat Umar (ra) removed Hazrat Ammar bin Yasir (ra) from that office. Hazrat Umar (ra) later asked him, “Did it displease you when I removed you from that office?” Hazrat Ammar (ra) replied, “Since you have asked, it was unpleasant for me even at the time when you appointed me in that office, however it was out of obedience I accepted it. It was also unpleasant for me when I was removed.”
(At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 194, Ammar bin Yasir, Dar-ul-Ihya At-turath Al-Arabi, 1990, Beirut)
Indeed, it did not please him but he remained silent and showed complete obedience even when being removed. He only expressed what was in his heart when Hazrat Umar (ra) himself enquired from him.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) writes:
“Upon arrival in Medina, the first thing the Holy Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa) adopted another method which brought about some changes. During the course of one battle, the Holy Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa) stated, ‘Whosoever has anything with them, they ought to bring it and collect it at one place.’ Subsequently, everything was brought and the Holy Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa). And until they experienced difficult circumstances, it remained as such and this was the practice established by the Holy Prophet (sa). Then, later in the time of the Holy Prophet (sa), 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 Prophet (sa), lest people said that this system was something confined only to the Holy Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa)] as well.
As regards how this was achieved, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) writes:
“Hence, on the one hand, Allah the Almighty established an example through the Holy Prophet (sa), 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 Muhajireen did not accept it.
“Thus, the Holy Prophet (sa) had established this practice during his lifetime, to the extent that when the king of Bahrain accepted Islam, the Holy Prophet (sa) 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 Prophet (sa).
“When the Holy Prophet (sa) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra). They also admit that this very first census taken by Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) when Syria was conquered and an abundance of olive oil was acquired and everyone began to receive their share, Hazrat Umar (ra) said to the people that his stomach swelled with the use of olive oil. Hazrat Umar (ra), 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-Maud (ra) 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)
Then, there was the system of revenue collection. Following the conquest of Iraq and Syria, Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) returned these lands back to the local people. Along with this, Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 )
With the conquest of Alexandria, all of Egypt was conquered. Through these battles a large number of prisoners of war were captured. Hazrat Umar (ra) gave the following directives in a letter to Hazrat Amr (ra) regarding these prisoners: “Summon all of them and tell them they may choose to become Muslim should they wish to, or they may choose to remain upon their existing religion. If they accept Islam, they will be granted all those rights the Muslims have been afforded. Otherwise, they will have to give the jizya, which is given by all non-Muslim subjects.”
When this announcement was read before the prisoners, many chose to become Muslim, whilst many others chose to remain on their existing faith. Whenever anyone amongst them decided to embrace Islam, the other Muslims would all raise slogans of “Allah is the Greatest.” Whenever anyone amongst the prisoners professed to continue their belief in Christianity, the other Christians would sing tributes of praise, leaving the Muslims feeling sorrowful.
*(Al-Faruq, Shibli Nomani, pp. 162-165, Dar al-Isha‘ah, Karachi, 1991) (Al-Salabi, Sayyiduna Umar bin Khattab (ra) translated [Khangarh, Pakistan: Al-Furqan Trust], pp. 760-764) *
When Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) was bestowed the mantle of Khilafat, he appointed Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (ra) to oversee the affairs of the Bait-ul-Mal. In 13 AH, when Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) sent an army to Syria, he appointed Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (ra) as its commander. Later, when Hazrat Umar (ra) was bestowed the mantle of Khilafat, he removed Hazrat Khalid (ra) bin Waleed as the commander-in-chief and replaced him with Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (ra).
(Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala li Imam al-Dhahabi, Vol. 1, p. 15, Abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah, Dar al-Risalah al-Alamiyyah, Damascus, 2014)
With regard to the establishment of the department for qaza [arbitration], it is mentioned in a narration that Hazrat Umar (ra) formally established a department for qaza. Courts were established in all the provinces and the qazis [judges] were also appointed. Furthermore, Hazrat Umar (ra) legislated various injunctions related to the system of qaza.
(Al-Faruq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 195 to 198, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
Qazis were appointed from amongst those who held expertise in the field of fiqh [jurisprudence]. However, Hazrat Umar (ra) would not consider this to be enough; in fact, he would also assess their knowledge and would set a substantial amount for their salaries, lest they issued a wrong decision. Hazrat Umar (ra) would appoint the qazis from among the affluent and honourable people so that they would not become overawed by anyone when issuing their verdicts. Hazrat Umar (ra) would always instruct to uphold equality and justice in the courts. On one occasion, Hazrat Umar (ra) had a disagreement with Hazrat Ubay (ra) bin Kaab over something. Subsequently, Hazrat Ubay (ra) took his case to the court of Hazrat Zaid (ra) bin Thabit. Zaid (ra) invited Hazrat Umar (ra) and Ubay (ra) and showed great respect to Hazrat Umar (ra), but upon this, Hazrat Umar (ra) stated, “This is the first injustice you have committed.” And after saying this, he went and sat next to Ubay (ra).
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 199 to 200, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
In other words, he stated that they were both present in the capacity of two equal parties in a case and therefore should be considered as such and be given a seat next to each other and it should not be the case that he be shown respect [in a preferential manner].
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) has related this incident and states:
“Once, the Second Khalifa (ra) had a disagreement with Ubay (ra) bin Kaab over something. The matter was presented before a judge and he called Hazrat Umar (ra). Since he was the Khalifa of the time, he gave his seat as a mark of respect. Hazrat Umar (ra), however, went and sat next to the opposing party in the case and said to the judge, ‘This is the first injustice you have committed because at this moment in time, there should be no distinction drawn between me and the other party.’”
(Ahmadiyyat Yani Haqiqi Islam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 8, p. 300)
Hazrat Umar (ra) also established the department of ifta [issuing edicts]. In order to make people aware of the laws of the Shariah, he established the department of ifta. Hazrat Umar (ra) appointed a few companions for this and stated that no one should seek a fatwa [edict] from anyone other than them. Among those who were permitted to give the fatwa were Hazrat Ali (ra), Hazrat Uthman (ra), Hazrat Muaz (ra) bin Jabal, Hazrat Abdur Rahman (ra) bin Auf, Hazrat Ubay (ra) bin Kaab, Hazrat Zaid (ra) bin Thabit, Hazrat Abu Hurrairahra and Hazrat Abu Darda (ra). Apart from them, if anyone else issued a fatwa, they would be prohibited by Hazrat Umar (ra). Every so often, Hazrat Umar (ra) would also assess the knowledge of these various muftis.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 202, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
In relation to this, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“One of the departments was in relation to issuing religious edicts. After the Holy Prophet (sa), during the era of the Khulafa, there was a rule that not everyone was authorised to issue religious edicts. Hazrat Umar (ra) took great caution in this regard, so much so that a companion, who was perhaps Abdullah (ra) bin Mas‘ud, who was a religious scholar and an esteemed individual, once informed the people of a matter and this was also brought to the attention of Hazrat Umar (ra). When Hazrat Umar (ra) came to know of this, he immediately questioned him that, “Are you the amir [leader], or has the amir appointed you to issue an edict as you please. The fact of the matter is that if everyone is authorised to issue edicts, it can cause many problems and it can become a source of great trial for the public. The reason for this is that at times, there are two different edicts regarding the same matter and both are correct.” In other words, the edicts are given according to the circumstances and if one delves into the details of the matter, then there is some flexibility and thereby depending on the situation, there will be a different edict given. “However, this becomes difficult to understand for the general public as to how both edicts can be deemed correct and as such, they fall into trial.’”
(Khitab Jalsa Salana 17 March 1919, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 4, p. 404)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“Just look at the example of Hazrat Umar (ra). On the one hand, the renowned kings of the world were in awe of his power and might, the Byzantine and Persian Empires quaked in fear of him, but on the other hand, the mighty Umar becomes anxious and worried on seeing the hungry children of a Bedouin woman. He places a bag of flour on his back and with a pot of clarified butter in his hand, he goes to see the woman and does not leave until he cooks food with his own hands and feeds it to those children and they eventually fall asleep.”
(Sair-e-Ruhani, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 22, p. 596)
In terms of general advancements, it is recorded that Hazrat Umar (ra) did many things for the betterment and progression of the general public. For improvements in agriculture and sourcing water, he arranged for canals to be dug, of which some instances are as follows.
Abu Musa Canal was a nine-mile-long canal which brought water from the Tigris River to Basra; Ma‘qal canal was also dug from the Tigris; Amirul Momineen canal was dug under the orders of Hazrat Umar (ra) to join the Nile to the Red Sea. During the famine in 18 AH, Hazrat Umar (ra) wrote to Hazrat Amr (ra) bin Al-Aas to send aid. There was a delay in the aid reaching [Medina] due to the great distance [from Egypt]. Hazrat Umar (ra) sent for Amr (ra) and said to him that if the Nile was dug up to the sea, Arabia would never suffer from a famine again. When Amr (ra) returned – as he was the governor – he dug a canal from Fustat up to the Red Sea, through which ships could reach the port of Jeddah close to Medina. This canal was 29 miles long and was prepared within six months. Hazrat Amr (ra) bin al-Aas intended to connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea. He intended to dig a canal from Farma, where the distance between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was only 70 miles and connect the two rivers. Farma was a coastal city of Egypt. However, Hazrat Umar (ra) was worried that the pilgrims would be looted by the Greeks and did not approve of it. If Amr (ra) bin al-Aas was granted permission, the Suez Canal, which was built later, would have been created by the Arabs.
Various buildings [were built]. Hazrat Umar (ra) built various buildings for the ease of the people; these included mosques, courts, military cantonments, barracks, offices for the infrastructure of the country, roads, bridges, guest houses, watch posts, inns etc. Hazrat Umar (ra) constructed springs and inns at every manzil [a distance of one day’s journey] between Mecca and Medina; he created watch posts as well.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, pp. 206- 211, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
That is, he ensured security arrangements and also ensured that there were places of rest such as hotels and inns etc. Regarding the development of cities, it is stated that during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umar (ra), many new cities were inhabited. Whilst populating these cities, Hazrat Umar (ra) kept the security and economic advantages in mind. The locations of these cities demonstrated Hazrat Umar’s (ra) command and meticulous planning in the art of war, principles of politics and development. These cities were beneficial in both times of war and peace. Hazrat Umar (ra) would ensure that cities were constructed in those Arab lands, which bordered non-Arab lands in order to prevent a sudden attack. The location of these cities was such that was suited to the Arabs. One side of these cities would be from among the Arab lands and served as pasture grounds and the other side would be next to such non-Arab lands that consisted of lush green vegetation, where fruits, grain and other things were grown, i.e. lands that were used for agriculture. When constructing cities, Hazrat Umar (ra) would ensure that a river or sea did not flow in the middle of it.
Hazrat Umar (ra) founded the cities of Basra, Kufa and Fustat. Hazrat Umar (ra) established these cities on strong and correct foundations. He ensured the roads and pathways were spacious and wide and were exceptionally organised. This outlook demonstrated that Hazrat Umar (ra) was an expert in this field and innovative in this regard.
(Sirat Amir-ul-Momineen, Salabi, pp. 214-217, 221, Dar-ul-Marifah, Beirut, 2007)
For the expansion of agriculture, Hazrat Umar (ra) 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.
In relation to the extent of his concern for protecting the wealth in the treasury, there is an incident that has been mentioned previously and I shall present it briefly now. One afternoon, during the scorching heat, Hazrat Umar (ra) was leading the camels to the grazing grounds that had been left behind in order to prevent them from getting lost. When Hazrat Uthman (ra) happened to witness this, he said, “Let us see to this task and you should come and sit in the shade.” Hazrat Umar (ra) replied, “You all sit in the shade, this is my responsibility and so I shall do it myself.”
(Usdul Ghaba Fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahaba, Vol. 3, p. 667, Umar bin al-Khattab, Dar-ul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, 2003)
During the era of Hazrat Umar (ra), countries were divided into provinces. In 20AH, Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 )
The Holy Prophet (sa) had entered into a treaty with the people of Bahrain on the condition that they pay the Jizyah [a form of tax levied on the non-Muslims in order to ensure the protection of their rights and safety] and he also appointed Hazrat A‘la (ra) bin Hadhrami as their Governor. The Holy Prophet (sa) sent Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (ra) to collect the Jizyah. Upon learning of his return, many people attended the Fajr prayer the next morning behind the Holy Prophet (sa). When the Holy Prophet (sa) concluded the prayer and looked back, he smiled and said, “It seems that you have come to learn that Abu Ubaidah has brought something back.” They submitted, “Yes, O Messenger (sa) of Allah.” The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, “Rejoice and keep hope of that which is better for you. I do not fear that you will be overcome by a state of dependency, rather I fear that the riches of the world will be bestowed upon you and you will instil an intense desire for its acquisition.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Jizyah wa al-Mawada‘ah, Bab Ghazwah al-Jizyah wa al-Mawada‘ah ma‘a Ahl al-Dhimmah wa al-Harb, Hadith 3158)
In other words, the Holy Prophet (sa) feared that the more they immersed themselves in worldly endeavours and were granted the comforts of the world, they would increase in their desire for it and this could become a means of their ruin – this is what the Holy Prophet (sa) feared. He did not fear that they would have a scarcity of provisions, instead he feared lest they became embroiled in material pursuits and develop greed for it which could cause their ruin.
This is an admonishment which every one of us ought to be ever mindful of. And we can see this for ourselves that by disregarding this advice, the majority of Muslims, including its leaders who, upon being granted opulence, have developed an intense greed for wealth and worldly desires. Though they verbally proclaim the name of God, but worldly wealth and glory is their primary objective. Thus, we should always assess our conditions in view of the prophecy of the Holy Prophet (sa) that indeed, we would be granted wealth, but we should not let this be a means of us becoming unmindful of our religious obligations.
How did Hazrat Umar (ra) implement the religious freedom afforded by Islam? After the conquest of Alexandria, its ruler sent a message to Hazrat Amr (ra) bin al-Aas saying, “Among the other Arab nations, I used to pay tax to more contemptable nations than you”, i.e. the Persians and Byzantines. “If you wish, then I am prepared to pay you a tax as well, on the condition that you free the prisoners of war from my area.”
Hazrat Amr (ra) bin al-Aas wrote a letter addressed to the Caliph, explaining the situation. Hazrat Umar (ra) replied, “Suggest to the ruler of Alexandria that he should pay the tax, but the prisoners of war who are in your”, i.e. the Muslim’s “custody should be given the choice of either accepting Islam or to remain on the faith of their people. Those who become Muslim will join the Muslims and will have the same rights and responsibilities as other Muslims. However, those who remain on their faith, will be subject to the same tax as others of their faith.” Hence Amr (ra) bin al-Aas gathered all the prisoners and read to them the instructions received from the Caliph. Many of the prisoners became Muslims.
(Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, pp. 512-513, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2012)
There is an incident which illustrates how careful Hazrat Umar (ra) was when it came to religious freedom. Once, an elderly Christian lady went to Hazrat Umar (ra) due to some need. Hazrat Umar (ra) advised her, “Become a Muslim and you will be safe. Allah sent Muhammad (sa) with the truth.” She replied, “I am an old woman and death is drawing near.” He fulfilled her need; however, he feared that what he did would be likened to taking advantage of her need and forcing her to become Muslim. Thus, he sought repentance from Allah the Almighty for this and said, “O Allah, I only showed her the right path, I did not force her.” Thus, he was very careful in this regard.
(Sirat Umar binaAl-Khattab, Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, p. 101, Dar-ul-Ma‘rifah Beirut)
Then, there is another incident. Hazrat Umar (ra) had a Christian slave whose name was Ashaq. He says, “I was Hazrat Umar’s (ra) slave. He said to me, ‘Become a Muslim, so that I may seek your help in certain matters pertaining to the Muslims, as it is not appropriate for me to seek help from non-Muslims in matters that pertain to Muslims.’” The slave says, “However, I refused. Hazrat Umar (ra) said:
لَآ اِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّيْنِ
“That is, there is no compulsion in the religion of Islam [Ch.2: V.257]. When Hazrat Umar (ra) was about to pass away, he freed me and said, ‘Go wherever you please.’”
(Syyedna Umar bin al-Khattab Shakhsiyyat Aur Kaarname, Dr Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, Urdu translation, p.184, Al-Furqan, Muzaffar Ghar, Pakistan)
He formed the census of Iraq and marked out the boundaries of the territory; he arranged for the wellbeing and comfort of the public and by way of his excellent planning and carrying out his duties, he proved that God Almighty had favoured him not only with the art of war, but also with administrative expertise.
People think that after conquering a land, the Muslims did not take care of its people; on the contrary, whenever they conquered a city, they took greater care of them than all who came before them. Then there was the construction of Kufa. Owing to the fact that the climate of Midian was not suitable for the Arabs, with the permission of Hazrat Umar (ra), Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) had the Arabs dwell in a new city, wherein the Arab tribes were allocated their own quarters. A large mosque was built in the city centre, which could accommodate 40,000 worshippers at a time. Kufa was in fact a military garrison, and so it was made the dwelling place for 100,000 soldiers.
Further details of this are that after remaining in Midian for some time, Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) realised that the climate had greatly affected the Arabs. Hazrat Umar (ra) was informed of this and the instruction was given to find a suitable nearby land that they could inhabit and once the Arabs settle there, it should be made the administrative headquarters.
In accordance with this, Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) left Midian, chose a suitable land near the borders and laid the foundations for a vast city named Kufa and then settled the Arab tribes there, each to their own quarters. In the centre, a large mosque was constructed which had space for 40,000 worshippers. He also had the building for the treasury constructed near the mosque and his own palace too, which was known as Qasr-e-Sa‘d.
(Roshan Sitarey, pp. 84-88), (Sair al-Sahaba, Vol. 2, pp. 117-118) (Mujam-ul-Buldan, p. 56) (Mujam-ul-Buldan, Vol. 1, p. 610)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“The commentators [of the Holy Quran] have mentioned an incident relating to Hazrat Ali (ra), which is that He once called out to one of his servants, but he did not respond. Hazrat Ali (ra) called him several times, but he still did not reply. After a short while, this servant coincidentally appeared before Hazrat Ali (ra), upon which Hazrat Ali (ra) asked him:
مَا لَكَ لَمْ تُجِبْنِي “‘What happened to you? I called you numerous times, but you did not respond to me!’ He replied:
قَالَ لِثِقَتِيْ بِحِلْمِكَ وَاَمْنٍ مِنْ عُقُوْبَتِكَ فَاسْتَحْسَنَ جَوَابَهٗ وَاَعْتَقَهٗ
“‘The fact of the matter is that I was certain of your kindness and I considered myself protected from your punishment, therefore, I did not respond to you.’ Hazrat Ali (ra) was so pleased with this reply of his that he set him free.”
(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 58 p. 255)
Now, if this had been a worldly person, he may have punished him for taking advantage of his kindness; however, Hazrat Ali (ra) rewarded him instead.
With regard to the appointment of governors and the guidance given to them by Hazrat Umar (ra), 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 Umar (ra) would appoint those selected people as governors. Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) handled them, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) writes:
“There is an incident in relation to Hazrat Umar (ra). 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 Umar (ra) would change the governors and would send a different one in his place. Some people said to Hazrat Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) 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 Umar (ra) said, ‘I will now send the people of Kufa a governor who will see to them.’ This governor, who was sent by Hazrat Umar (ra), 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 Prophet (sa) appointed Usama bin Zaid (ra) as the commander-in-chief over 10,000 companions, among whom were Abu Bakr (ra) and Umar (ra) as well, I am one year older than Usama bin Zaid (ra) 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)
With regard to how the Hijri calendar was established, there is a narration of Sahih Bukhari, which states that Hazrat Sahlra bin Saad reported that the companions did not start the calendar from the time of the advent of the Holy Prophet (sa) and nor from his demise, in fact, they started it from when the Holy Prophet (sa) arrived in Medina, i.e. after his migration.
(Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 233, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
A commentator of Bukhari, Allama Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani states that according to Imam Suhaili, “The companions decided to start the calendar from the migration [of the Holy Prophet (sa)] based on the following words of Allah the Almighty:
لَمَسْجِدٌ اُسِّسَ عَلَی التَّقْوٰی مِنْ اَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ
“‘A mosque which was founded upon piety from the very first day […]’.
“Thus, the meaning of ‘from the very first day’ would be the day the Holy Prophet (sa) and his companions arrived in Medina; however, Allah has the best of knowledge.”
There are various narrations with regard to why there was a need to start the Hijri calendar. Hazrat Abu Musa (ra) wrote to Hazrat Umar (ra) and stated that they would receive letters from him, but it did not have any date on them. Upon this, Hazrat Umar (ra) gathered the people to seek consultation on this. Allama Ibn Hajar states that in Bukhari, under the Book of Etiquettes, Hakim has related from Maimoon bin Mehran that once, a cheque was presented to Hazrat Umar (ra) which was only valid until Sha‘ban. Upon this, Hazrat Umar (ra) stated, “Which Sha‘ban does this refer to? The one that has passed, or the one that we are currently passing through, or the one to come?” Following this, Hazrat Umar (ra) stated that they should form a calendar which everyone could remember.
Ibn Sirin relates that once, a person came from Yemen and mentioned that he had observed that in Yemen, they had something which they referred to as a calendar and they wrote down the particular year and the month. Upon this, Hazrat Umar (ra) stated that this was an excellent method and they should write it down like that as well.
There are various narrations in regard to who started the Hijri calendar. According to one of the narrations, it was the Holy Prophet (sa) who instructed to note down the dates and this began from the month of Rabi‘ al-Awal. Hakim has written in his book, Al-Aqlil that it has been narrated by Ibn Shihab Zuhri:
اَنَّ النَّبِيَّ لَمَّا قَدِمَ الْمَدِيْنَةَ اَمَرَ بِالتَّارِيْخِ فَكُتِبَ فِي رَبِيْعِ الْاَوَّلِ
That is, “When the Holy Prophet (sa) arrived in Medina, he instructed for the dates to be written down and this began from the month of Rabi‘ al-Awal.” Allama Ibn Hajar states that this narration is “mu‘dal”, which means that it has two or more narrators missing one after the other in its chain of narrators.
According to another narration, a calendar began to be formally written down after the Holy Prophet (sa) migrated to Medina. However, the more commonly known narration is contrary to these aforementioned narrations and states that the Hijri calendar started from the time of Hazrat Umar (ra).
The author of Subul Al-Huda Wa Al-Rishad Fi Sirat Khair Al-Abad, Muhammad bin Yusuf Salehi states that Ibn Salaa states that he read in the book, Al-Shuroot by Abu Tahir Ma‘mish that the Holy Prophet (sa) instructed for the dates to be written down because when the Holy Prophet (sa) intended to send letters to the Christians in Najran, he instructed Hazrat Ali (ra) to write:
لِخَمْسٍ مِّنَ الْهِجْرَةِ
That is, “Five years after the Hijrah.” Thus, in light of this, it was the Holy Prophet (sa), who was the first to write down the dates and Hazrat Umar (ra) followed this practise of the Holy Prophet (sa).
According to another narration, it was Hazrat Ya‘la bin Umaiyyah, who was from Yemen, who started the practice of writing down the dates. Imam Ahmad has narrated this but the chain of narrators is broken between Amr and Ya‘la.
According to the third narration, which is more commonly known, the Hijri calendar began in the era of Hazrat Umar’s (ra) Khilafat.
There are further details mentioned in relation to why the Hijri calendar began from the year of migration.
When Hazrat Umar (ra) sought consultation with regard to forming a yearly calendar, one of the suggestions was that it should start from the year of the Holy Prophet’s (sa) birth. Another suggestion was that it should start from the year he was commissioned as a prophet. And the third suggestion was that it should start from the year in which the Holy Prophet (sa) passed away. The fourth suggestion was that it should start from the year in which the Holy Prophet (sa) migrated [to Medina]. It was ultimately decided to start from the year of migration because there was a difference of opinion in regard to the exact year in which the Holy Prophet (sa) was born and the year he was commissioned as a prophet. The reason why they did not start it from the year in which the Holy Prophet (sa) passed away was because this had an element of grief and sorrow for the Muslims due to the Holy Prophet’s (sa) demise. Hence, the companions all agreed to start from the year of migration. The companions started the year from the month of Muharram instead of Rabi‘ al-Awal because the Holy Prophet (sa) had decided to migrate in the month of Muharram. The Second Bai‘at at Aqabah had taken place in the month of Dhul-Hijjah and this was what eventually led to the migration. Thus, the first lunar month which appeared after the Second Bai‘at at Aqabah and the Holy Prophet (sa) having decided to migrate was Muharram and therefore, it was deemed appropriate to begin the year with Muharram.
Allama Ibn Hajar states that to start the Islamic calendar from the month of Muharram was the strongest argument in his view.
(Fathul Bari, Ibn Hajar, pp. 314-315, Hadith 3934, Dar-ul-Riyan Al-Turath, Cairo, 1986) (Subul Al-Huda Wa Al-Rishad, Vol. 12, pp. 36-37, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah Beirut, 1993)
There are various opinions in relation to when the Holy Prophet (sa) arrived in Madinah. The Holy Prophet (sa) would stop at different locations on the way and arrived close to Medina in 12 Rabi‘ al-Awal in 14 Nabwi/20 September 622 CE. According to some historians, the Holy Prophet (sa) arrived in 8 Rabi‘ al-Awal and there are some who state that the Holy Prophet (sa) left in the month of Safar and arrived in Rabi‘ al-Awal. The Holy Prophet (sa) left Mecca on the first of Rabi‘ al-Awal and arrived in Medina on 12 Rabi‘ al-Awal.
(Sirat Khatam Al-Nabiyeen, p. 23) (Sharah Al-Zarqani, Vol. 2, p. 102, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut 2012) (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 248, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
There are also various narrations in regard to when the Hijri calendar was established. According to some, it was in 16 AH, but we also find mention of 17 AH, 18 AH and 21 AH as well.
(Fathul Bari, Ibn Hajar, Vol. 7, p. 315, Hadith 3934, Dar-ul-Riyan Al-Turath, Cairo, 1986) (Al-Kaafi Fi Al-Tarikh, Ibn Athir, Vol. 1, p. 13, Dar-ul-Kitab al-Arabi, Beirut, 2012) (Al-Farooq, Shibli Naumani, p. 248, Idaara Islamiyyat, Karachi, 2004)
In any case, most of the people agree that the calendar was established during the era of Hazrat Umar (ra).