The Second Rightly Guided Caliph

During the decade of Hazrat Umar's Caliphate, the two most powerful and extensive empires of the time, namely, Roman and Persian Empires, fell to the Arabs. The most striking feature of these conquests was that there was negligible bloodshed. The gentry and the common folk of those regions acclaimed the Arabs as their saviours from the tyranny and injustice of their erstwhile rulers.

The Arabs were guided by lofty principles of Islam, and their motive was the glorification of Truth and emancipation of mankind from oppression. To contain and suppress the forces of evil was the real task, they felt, God Almighty had entrusted to them, so that mankind - His great family, might recognise His Benevolent Hand working for their emancipation. This is borne out by some of the instructions Hazrat Umar sent to Hazrat Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqas, the Commander-in-Chief of the Arab fighting forces in Persia.

They were as under -

"Our secret of victory is our obedience to Allaah. If we start disobeying Allaah, as the Unbelievers do, we are at par with them and destiny will not move in our favour for the plain reason that in material equipment and numerical strength we stand no comparison with the enemy. We win against odds because Allaah is on our side or rather because we fight in His Glorious cause. But for His Help we would never win."

Likewise, in his first address to his people after assumption of office, Hazrat Umar (R.A.), said:

"I compare the Arab people to a camel who has the good sense to obey his driver. The duty of the driver it is to see that he is leading on the right path. I assure you on oath that I shall lead you on the right path."

Hazrat Umar (R.A.) was blessed with many qualities, but his outstanding quality was that he was an expert at selecting the fittest available man for every job. Despite this, he seldom neglected to consult the intelligent among the Muslims and he always respected sincere opinion. More difficult than the selection was the allocation of powers to the selected personnel for the different departments of administration; and still more difficult was the effective supervision of the great dignitaries of administration. To overcome all these difficulties, Hazrat Umar had devised a method -

To each officer, whatever his rank, was given at the time of his appointment, a document incorporating his rights and obligations. It was binding on all officers to recite word by word, in a public gathering in the town of their posting, all the terms laid down in their order of appointment. By that easy contrivance the common people were at once acquainted with the limitations beyond which their officers could not go without risking dismissal and dishonour.

Moreover, at the time of his appointment, each officer was called upon to give a solemn pledge that;

            (a) he would not put on dress of fine cloth;

            (b) he would not eat of fine flour;

            (c) he would not keep a chamberlain at his door; and

            (d) he would never deny audience to a needy one.

To provide effective deterrent against any chances of corruption, a list was prepared at the time of appointment of all the properties of an officer. A copy of this list was carefully preserved in the State Records Office. After recall from duty, every officer whose properties exceeded the catalogued items, was called upon to render an account thereof.

Further, Hazrat Umar (R.A.) had made it obligatory on every public servant, whatever his status, to be present in Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj Pilgrimage. On the Hajj Day it was proclaimed publicly that any one having any grievance against any officer would be heard. If any officer was found guilty of misconduct, he was publicly punished.

During he regime of Hazrat Umar (R.A.) the Judiciary was separated from the Executive. District courts were established in the administrative units of each province for the dispensation of justice in civil and criminal cases. Here are the contents of a Circular issued to the Judges:-

"Administration of justice is an important duty of the government. You Qazees (Judges) should treat all people alike in according free accessibility, patient hearing and the dispensing of justice, so that the weak among them may not despair of equity and the influential may not build vain hopes in you. The burden of proof shall always lie on the complainant and the burden of oath on the defendant. Compromise between parties is permissible provided the terms of the compromise do not make lawful what Islamic law holds unlawful."

In the selection of Qazees (Judges), Hazrat Umar exercised extraordinary care. He selected Qazees for their piety, erudition, intelligence, and power of decision. The elite among the intelligentsia, men like Zaid bin Saabit, Abdullah bin Massud, Qazi Shoraih, Jameel bin Al-'Amr, Abu Maryam Hanafii Salmaan bin Rabia 'Imraan bin Haseen, and Abu Qurrah Kindi (R.A.) were appointed as Judges in different parts of the realm.

The reign of Hazrat Umar is renowned for wide diffusion of knowledge and expansion of education, which of course, was mostly religious in character.

For the effective preaching of Islam Hazrat Umar had adopted "fair example rather than fair knowledge" as the motto. His immaculate personal life, his disciplinary spirit in the general administration and his constant vitalization of the general body of Muslims had a tremendous part to play in the diffusion of Islamic thought and its cordial and spontaneous acceptance everywhere.

Since Qur'aan Majeed is the foundation of the Islamic Faith, Hazrat Umar had realised the need for wide dissemination of Qur'aanic teachings. It was at his instance that Qur'aan Majeed was carefully compiled in its final, lasting shape under the aegis of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (R.A.). When Hazrat Umar himself assumed the reins of administration, he got hundreds of schools opened in all his dominions for explicit purpose of extensive and free teachings of Qur'aan Majeed.

A mobile school comprising several visiting teachers used to move from one tribe to another, teaching, examining and admonishing the Bedouins. Qur'aanic chapters entitled "Baqara" (No. 2, The Cow), "Nisaa," (No. 4, The Women), "Maaida" (No. 5, The Table Spread), "Hajj" (No. 22, The Pilgrimage), and "Noor" (No. 23, Light) were compulsorily got committed to memory because of the fact that these chapters were rich in the Islamic code of law required for every day application. To enable correct teaching and correct pronunciation of Qur'aanic text, Arabic grammar, literature and syntax were also taught in the schools. To encourage the memorising of Qur'aan Majeed, Hazrat Umar had arranged that intending students should be given munificent stipends.

Next to Qur'aan Majeed, the sayings, practice and approval of certain actions by the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (S.A.W.), combinedly called 'Ilumlwa Hadith' or Discipline of the Traditions of the Holy Prophet, form a fundamental source of the Islamic Law. Being alive to its great importance, Hazrat Umar arranged for accumulation and codification of 'Ilmul-Hadith from numerous scattered sources and took great pains for its authentic preservation and wide diffusion. Like the teachers of Qur'aan Majeed, he also sent abroad a number of the most trusted associates of the Holy Prophet, for teaching of 'Ilmul-Hadith. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud was sent to Kufa. Hazrat Maq'al bin Yasar, Hazrat Abdullah bin Maq'al and Hazrat Imraan bin Haseen were sent to Basra. Hazrat 'Ibaadah bin Saamit and Hazrat Abu Darda were sent to Syria for teaching of Qur'aan Majeed. They were also instructed to teach 'Ilm-ul-Hadith.

In his own orders Hazrat Umar frequently quoted relevant Traditions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). Whenever a problem without precedent came up for solution, Hazrat Umar consulted associates of the Holy Prophet around him. Some of them did remember sayings of the Holy Prophet, which shed light on different aspects of the problem awaiting solution. Nevertheless, without sufficient corroboration and evidence no piece of Hadith was acceptable to Hazrat Umar. He strictly prohibited the companions of the Holy Prophet from narrating parts of 'Ilm-ul-Hadith too indiscriminately.

Hazrat Umar had a penetrating insight into every day matters of life. To deduce timely and appropriate guidance from Qur'aan Majeed and Hadith was the task which called the entire intellectual faculties of Hazrat Umar into play. The Islamic dominion had extended to distant lands with divergent cultures, languages, climates, habits and traditions. Islamic culture and civilization with their peculiar traits were in the process of adoption and development. Hundreds of new unforeseen problems cropped up over and over again. Who was to solve them in the light of God's message and His Prophet's practice? Only a master mind like Hazrat Umar was capable of that stupendous task. He himself deliberated profoundly and made others from among his learned associates join his deliberations. Problems were considered and debated upon and the solutions thus arrived at were dispatched to the Heads of administration in the districts.

The lesson for us is to search for solution of our problems in the life and teachings of our heroes and make known their practices and principles to the world at large for the benefit of mankind.

(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)






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