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Random thoughts

August 27, 2018
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Charity and governance

Opinion

August 27, 2018

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Hajj and Eidul Azha were celebrated with great fervour and zeal. May Allah Almighty accept everyone’s prayers and sacrifices.

Sadqa has been described by the Almighty as a panacea for all ills. One episode related to its particular blessing is worth pondering upon. Once, there was an Egyptian businessman who was about 50 years old when he developed a heart problem. He went to the best hospitals in Cairo but doctors informed him that they could not do much to help him and that he had little time left. They advised him to go to London to have a bypass surgery. This he did, but even there he was told that the operation was just temporary relief.

One day he went to buy some meat. There he saw an old lady collecting small pieces of fat the butcher was throwing away. When asked why she was collecting them, she told him she was a widow with no source of income but her children’s greatest desire was to eat some meat. These small pieces of fat usually also have very small pieces of meat on them, she said. I will cut the meat off and fry it in the fat. The businessman was shocked and sat down to ponder. Despite all his wealth, he was still dying.

After some time he told the butcher to give the old lady some meat and to give her enough for her family every time she came, all of which he would pay for. He then went back to his usual work routine. After a few days he realised that he had no heart problems like fatigue, shortness of breath etc. So he went to the doctor for a check-up. There, to his great surprise, he was told that there was nothing wrong with his heart anymore.

He was again advised to go to England for a check-up. There too, the doctors were surprised to find that his heart problem had resolved on its own. They asked what medicine he had been taking. He then remembered that his improvement had started from the day he had helped the old lady. He told the doctor that our Holy Prophet (pbuh) had said that Sadqa (alms and charity) can protect from all evil.

With a new government just sworn in, one’s mind turns to good governance and the administration of Hazrat Umar (RA), the second caliph. For more information on this great period in our history, read ‘Umar Farooq’ by Shibli Naumani or ‘Hazrat Umar Farooq-e-Azam’ by Muhammad Hussain Haikal, a famous Egyptian intellectual.

We follow Western historians in dubbing Alexander of Macedonia (Greece) as the great conqueror. He became king at the age of 20, left Macedonia to conquer the whole of Greece at the age of 23, after which Turkey, Iran, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and India followed. He contracted typhoid on his way back from Makran and died in the palace of Bakht Nasr at the age of 33. However, if we look back at our own history we will find that the greatest ruler and administrator that the world produced was Hazrat Umar (RA).

Alexander was the son of a king and enjoyed a good education, background and training, while Hazrat Umar (RA) was the son of an animal herder, as were his ancestors. He had no royal background, education or training. While Alexander conquered 1,700,000 square miles of territory in 10 years, Hazrat Umar (RA) conquered 2,200,000 square miles of territory within the same period.

At that time, Muslims ruled from Armenia to Sindh, Central Asia, the whole of Arabia, India and Eastern China. Nobody dared disobey Hazrat Umar’s (RA) orders. He was a strict disciplinarian and sacked many influential and powerful personalities such as Hazrat Saad bin Abi Waqas, Hazrat Khalid bin Wahid, Hazrat Umro bin Al-Aas, Hazrat Mugira bin Shaba, Hazrat Haris bin Kaab, Hazrat Ghanam etc. Alexander did not leave any good governing systems in place, whereas Hazrat Umar (RA) established one of the best governance systems the world has ever seen.

Some of his achievements were: the Hijri year system, prisons, salaries for preachers, lights in mosques, the police, justice and agricultural systems, cantonments and regular armies, stipends for orphans and the handicapped, establishment of an accountability system for government servants, officers and governors and a system of judges to award punishment. He himself looked after the safety of caravans at night. He used to say that an honest and upright ruler can sleep soundly at night and that the ruler is a true servant of the public.

The words “Umar, death is enough for your guidance” were written on his table. He led a simple life – only one dish at meals, slept on a mat on the floor under a tree, or in a makeshift shed made of cloth while travelling. He had about 14 patches on his shirt – one of red leather – and wore thick, rough clothing. Whenever he appointed someone to an important post, he estimated the person’s personal possessions and rechecked them during and after his service.

He advised governors to not use expensive, thoroughbred horses and soft clothes. He also asked them to not keep a guard at their residence and to never turn away any needy person empty handed. He used to say that not punishing a criminal was injustice to the poor. One of his much-loved proverbs was: “Mothers give birth to children as free human beings, who gave you the right to make them slaves?” He was the first caliph to adopt the title of ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen’ (chief of Muslims). At the time he was martyred by Feroz while praying, he had paid off a debt by selling his simple house.

About his administration, he would say: “If a dog dies of thirst or hunger on the bank of River Farat, Umar (RA) will be taken to task by the Almighty.” Western historians have written: “If there were one more Umar (RA), the world would have only one religion, Islam.” The biggest tribute comes from our Holy Prophet (pbuh), who said: “If there were to be another prophet after me, it would have been Umar (RA).”

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