Thursday, May 05, 2005

philanthropy

“O mankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is [one who is] the most God-fearing of you” (Quran, 49:13)


When it came to the period of the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, he came forward as a ruler whose heart was full of sympathy for mankind. Notwithstanding his position as the head of the Islamic State, he came to the girls of the locality whose fathers had become martyrs in religious wars. He milked their goats for them and assured them that his new responsibilities would not stand between him and his previous routine [of such benevolent acts].

`Umar ibn al-Khattab was an exemplary glorious Caliph – sympathetic to the weak, firm on truth and a Caliph who judged all as equal. He deprived himself to give to others, stayed hungry so others were fed and went door to door asking people about their living conditions.

Once he saw an old man begging in the market place. He asked, “Who are you, old man?’ He replied, “I am an old man asking for jizyah and some money to live with.” He was from among the Jews living in Madinah. `Umar said to him, “O old man! We have not done justice to you. In your youth we took jizyah from you and have left you to look after yourself in your old age.” Holding him by the hand, he led him to his own house and prepared food for him. He then issued orders to the treasure of the Bayt al-Maal so that the old man and all others like him would regularly be given an allowance which should suffice for them and their dependents.

`Umar ibn al-Khattab was walking through a street in Madinah, when he saw a very lean young girl moving along shakily. He said, “What is this child’s sad plight? Does anyone know her?’ His son `Abdullah said to him, “Do you not recognize her, O Amir al-Mu`miniin?” He replied, “No.” `Abdullah said, “She is one of your daughters!” `Umar asked, “And which one of my daughters is she?” `Abdullah said, “She is the daughter of `Abdullah the son of `Umar [granddaughter].” `Umar said, “Why then is she in such a condition?” His son said to him, “Whatever you have, you have not given any to us.” `Umar said in reply to his complaint, “By Allah! I have nothing for you more than I can give out to the believers in general, whether it meets your needs or not. The Book of Allah stands to decide the just amongst us.”

Once a caravan came to Madinah with many women and children. `Umar ibn al-Khattab said to `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf, ‘Can you stand guard on them tonight?’ So `Umar and `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf kept awake that night together and prayed tahajjud. `Umar, on hearing a baby’s cry, approached the mother and said to her, “Fear Allah and look after your child carefully.” Saying this, he returned to his position. Once again, he heard the child crying, and going over to her mother once again gave her the same advice. During the last part of the night the child cried once again. `Umar came to the mother and said, “Woe to you! You appear not to be a good mother. How is it that your child could not sleep peacefully during the night.” The woman, not knowing that she was speaking to the Amir al-Mu`miniin, said in reply, “O servant of Allah, you have pestered me several times during the night. I want to wean him forcefully [before time], but the child doesn’t comply.” `Umar asked her, “Why?” She said in reply, “Because `Umar grants allowances only for such children that have been weaned.” `Umar asked, “How old is he?” She replied that he was only a few months old. Then `Umar asked the woman not to be hasty in weaning her child. He then led the morning prayer in such a state that his weeping made the recital of the Quran inaudible. At the end of the prayer he said, “`Umar is ruined. How many Muslim children has he killed!” He then ordered someone to declare to the mothers not to hasten in weaning their children, as allowances would be given to every newborn child...


Islamic Civilization has more glorious incidents to present. `Umar’s servant, Aslam, relates, “I went out with `Umar one night into the open area outside Madinah. We were out on a fact-finding mission to distant hamlets on the outskirts of Madinah. From a distance we observed a glow far off. `Umar said, ‘I believe the darkness of the night and the cold have compelled some horsemen to sojourn there. Let us go and see.’ We proceed at a brisk pace and reached that spot. We saw a woman sitting there with some children around her crying. `Umar greeted her and asked, ‘What is wrong?’ The woman said in reply, ‘They are hungry.’ Then `Umar asked her, ‘What is in the fire?’ The woman said, ‘Only water to console the children so that they may remain quiet and go to sleep.’ What the woman wanted to convey was that `Umar was not fair and just to them. `Umar said to her, ‘My good woman! What does `Umar know about your state of affairs?’ To which she replied, ‘Why then should he hold the high office of Caliph when he is unaware of our condition?’ `Umar then said to me, ‘Let us go now.’ We left from there in a rush and reached the House of Flour and `Umar took a bag of flour and a container of oil and asked me to load the bag on his back. I offered my services but he angrily brushed aside my offer saying, ‘Can you relieve me of my burden on the Day of Reckoning too?’ So I loaded the bag on his back, and then we hastened towards our destination at a fast enough pace. Soon he placed the bag and, taking out some flour from it, gave it to the woman and asked her to knead it while he himself offered to the fan fire to a flame. So he started blowing the fire below the pot. His beard was thick and I saw smoke percolating through his beard. He went on blowing at it until the food was ready, and he asked the woman to bring some vessel. When she brought a platter he poured out the contents of the pot into it and asked the woman to feed the children while he himself fanned to cool it. We sat there until all of them had eaten to their fill. What was left of the flour and oil was handed over to her and then `Umar got up and I followed suit. The woman said, ‘Allah bless you. You are more deserving of that high office than the Amir al-Mu`miniin. `Umar said to her, ‘When tomorrow you come to see the Amir al-Mu`miniin, you will find me there, Allah willing.’ After that `Umar left and then retraced his steps and hid himself close to where they were staying. I said to him that it was not proper on his part to observe them from the place of his concealment. He kept quiet. We saw that the children were paying merrily and then they went to sleep. `Umar thanked Allah and got up and, turning to me, said, ‘Aslam! Hunger was growing in their stomachs, keeping them awake and making them cry. I would not have been at ease until I had seen what you have seen.’”

One of the unique incidents relating to sympathy and equality in the history of mankind is another story involving `Umar. It was usual for him to go out during the nights to see the conditions with which people lived. One night he found himself in one of the many valleys of Madinah. All of a sudden, he heard somebody crying in a nearby tent, at whose door was standing a man. `Umar greeted him in the proper manner and asked him who he was. He said that he was a Bedouin who had come to Madinah to ask the Amir al-Mu`miniin for help. Then `Umar asked him about the crying and wailing inside the tent, a question the Bedouin tried to evade, saying that since it did not concern him, he should not interest himself in it and be on his way. Little did he know he was talking to the Amir al-Mu`miniin. However, on the insistence of `Umar, he told him that his wife was in labor and had no one to help her with the delivery. `Umar went back home and asked his wife, Umm Kulthum bint `Ali and said, “Shall I facilitate a reward for you from Allah?” She asked, “What is it?” He informed her of the situation and told her to take clothes for the newborn baby and whatever the woman would require including food. `Umar took all those things from her and started to walk with Umm Kulthum following him. They reached the house and `Umar said to his wife, “Go to the woman.” He sat down with the man, lit the fire and began to cook whatever they had brought. All this time, the man did not know with whom he was sitting. Meanwhile, the woman in the tent gave birth and Umm Kulthum called out from the house, “O Amir al-Mu`miniin, give good news of a baby boy to your friend.” When the Bedouin heard her, he was awe-struck and began moving away from `Umar. However, `Umar reassured him and said, “Stay where you are.” He then carried the cooking pot and asked his wife to feed the woman. When she had eaten, he offered food to the man saying, “Eat it, you have stayed up the whole night.” Umm Kulthum then came out and `Umar said to the man, “Come to me tomorrow and I shall see it that your needs are provided for.” When he came to him the next morning, `Umar granted an allowance for his new born baby and was himself given help...

`Umar is not an isolated example presented as a perfect and affectionate person of Islamic Civilization. There are many others. The lives of Abu Bakr, `Uthman and `Ali, may Allah be pleased with them all, were also moulded in the mould of perfect humanity, regarding mercy and affection. Also the lives of `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz, Salahuddin al-Ayyubi and many other great personalities, the scholars, the jurists, the philosophers and the leaders also present countless immortal examples as evidence in favor of the glorious Islamic Civlization from every aspect.


THE ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION
Dr Mustafa Siba`i
(Chapter 3: Philanthropy)

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Narrated Abu Huraira (Radhiallaho anho): The Prophet (sallallaahu'alaihi wasallam) said, "There was a merchant who used to lend the people, and whenever his debtor was in straitened circumstances, he would say to his employees, 'Forgive him so that Allah may forgive us.' So, Allah forgave him."

[Bukhari Vol. 3 : No. 292]
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/034.sbt.html#003.034.292

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