Saturday, August 7, 2021

Zulhijah 28, 1442: Longing for the 'third Umar'...

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)

1. By the declining day,

2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,

3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 

one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

THE  topic of the 'khutbah Jumaat' (Friday sermon) at a 'masjid' near my house which I attended not long time ago was on the relationship between Muslims and the not yet Muslims (this term is used rather than the often used word 'non-Muslims').

It was enlightened to hear the 'khatib' (person who delivers the sermon) advised Muslims to be good to people of other faiths; they have several rights upon Muslims in their positions in society such as fellow citizens, neighbours, colleagues, business partners, friends and so on.

To strengthened his point, the 'khatib' delivered this story on how Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w. - peace be upon him) treated a not yet Muslim; he was in fact a Jew.

Once there was an old Jewish beggar in the city of Madinah. He was blind and poor. Most of the time, he sat and begged to the passerby on a corner of the city market. Most of the people didn’t really like him, since most of the time he cursed and insulted Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). All the time he would say, “Brothers and sisters! Don’t go near Muhammad. He is nothing but an impostor, a witch,  a mad man. If you approach him, you will be under his influence and become like him. ”

When Rasulullah (s.a.w.) heard about this, he came to him and looked upon him without saying anything. From that day on, Rasulullah (s.a.w.) began to come to him everyday to tend and feed him without telling him who he was. And the old man kept shouting all the nonsense about Rasulullaah (s.a.w.).

After Rasulullaah (s.a.w.) passed away, Abubakar as Sidiq (r.a.) visited his daughter Aisyah (r.a.) and asked her whether he has left out any daily habits that has been done before by the Prophet (s.a.w.). Aisyah (r.a.) answered that her father has not done the daily activities of feeding the old beggar on the corner of the Madinah city market.

Hence, Abubakar (r.a.), came to that old beggar to carry the habit of Rasulullah (s.a.w). He began to feed him for a while but then the beggar was annoyed and shouted angrily to Abubakar (r.a.), “Who are you feeding me?”

“It is I who always come here to feed you,” answer Abubakar.

“No, you’re not! You’re a different person. The man who always comes here, usually grind the food until it is soft enough for me to chew and then feed me gently with his own hand. You didn’t do the same thing and your hands are different.”

Hearing his words, Abubakar (r.a.) could not help himself but cried. He told him, ” The noble man that always came here to feed you was not here anymore. He has left us to his Rabb.”

“Who was this man?”, asked him, with softer voice. “He is Rasulullah, Prophet Muhammad sallallahu allaihissalaam.”

Hearing this, the man cried unintentionally. When he finally got a grip of himself, he said “So he was the man that I always cursed and insulted but nevertheless he still tended me so gently and dearly. And I never had the chance to ask for his forgiveness. May Allah forgive me for  my sins.” And at that moment in front of Abubakar as Sidiq he cited the syahadat and converted to Islam.

I attended a 'kuliah subuh' (early morning lesson) at another 'masjid' - the 'ustaz' (religious teacher) among others mentioned how Muslims longed for the presence of the 'third Umar' that is after Umar Al-Khattab (the second Al-Rasyidin Caliph who ruled from 634 to 643 AD ) and Umar Abdul Aziz (the Ummayad Caliph who rule for two years, 717-719 AD)  because of their fairness in treating their 'subjects' (rakyat) including the not yet Muslims.

He cited several examples of good deeds done by both 'Umars' - in Islamic tradition, leaders such as Caliph Umar al-Khattab and Umar Abdul Aziz proved that pious leaders 'produced' pious 'rakyat'. 

The Muslims have a superb example in Umar al-Khattab r.a. It is written that Hadrat Umar r.a. was making his nightly rounds through the streets of Madinah when he heard voices coming from a nearby house. He drew nearer and heard a mother saying to her daughter; "People will come out to collect the milk in the morning. We don't have a lot - add some water so we can get a good price."

The daughter refused, to which the mother said: "It is not a big thing, Umar isn't watching." The daughter replied: "Mother, if Umar isn't watching, then Umar's Creator is watching." Hadrat Umar r.a. returned home, impressed with the young lady's faith. Upon awaking the next morning, he sent a message to that house that he wanted the girl of that house as his daughter-in-law. 

It was said from the marriage of Umar's son and this pious young woman led to the birth of the grandfather of the Great Ummayad Caliph, Umar Abdul Aziz who was famous with his integrity; in one story he was said to put off the state lamp and lighted his own private one when discussing family matters with his son! 

On another occasion Hadrat Umar r.a. was travelling and came upon a shepherd herading sheep in what appeared to be a barren wasteland, with no settlement in sight. He asked whether the sheep belonged to the shepherd who replied that he had a master. Hadrat Umar r.a. offered him food but the shepherd said that he was fasting. Hadrat Umar r.a. was amazed that he was fasting in such heat and decided to test him. Hadrat Umar r.a.offered to pay for a sheep that they could sacrifice and eat, but the shepherd said that he must first ask permission from his master. 

Hadrat Umar r.a. said; "Your master is not here, neither is he watching. The shepherd then replied; "My master may not be here, but Allah SWT is every where." Hadrat Umar r.a. was amazed at this man sincerity and steadfastness.

As for Umar Abdul Aziz, his short tenure (717-719) was like an oasis in a vast desert -- a benevolent rain which had fallen on an arid soil. It was the brightest period in the 91-year Caliphate of the Umayyads, which, though short lived, had transformed the outlook of the State. 

Both Umars were fine examples of integrity. They were looked upon as shining examples of rulers that put the peoples' matters above their personal needs. Muslims had and have produced other great leaders from time to time like Salahudin Al-Ayubbi (Saladin) and Sultan Muhammad Fatih but when the 'ustaz' in his 'kuliah subuh' mentioned that Muslims are longing for the presence of 'the third Umar' perhaps he was not a born Muslim.

Why I was thinking so? It was simply because I was influenced by the above story of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the old Jewish beggar. If Allah SWT wants to give 'hidayah' (God's guidance) to the now not yet Muslims, who could stop it...well Umar Al-Khattab too before becoming a Muslim was known for his 'jahiliah' (Meccan period of ignorance) ways. 

Thus during the 'ustaz' question and answer session, I 'exposed my mind' to him. To my surprise, the 'ustaz' said the truth of the story of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the old Jewish beggar could be challenged; for example how could Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) did not 'dakwah' the old Jew and secondly how could Abubakar (r.a.) who was known for his integrity lied to the beggar telling him that he was the same person who had fed him in the first place!

The 'ustaz' said he was puzzled on how the not certified (without validation) story of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Jewish beggar could made in the 'khutbah Jumaat' read at almost all 'masjids' in the state?

But please do remember that 'hidayah' is in His (Allah SWT's) 'hand'. And anybody had the chance to be the 'Third Umar'...

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