The caliphate of Umar Ibn Khattab (rta) is considered to be the golden era of Islamic rule. Umar (rta) was settled in Madinah, from where he commanded and guided the companions. He had instructed to inform him immediately, if any new state or land was captured by the Muslim army, so he could give directions for implementing further strategies.
Ahnaf Ibn Qais (rta) was one of the best men in Basra. He had earned the credit of bringing many areas under the Islamic rule. He reports:
“Once, we had news of a great victory that we wished to share with the Amir-ul-Mumineen. He inquired: ‘Where have you stationed your army at the moment?’ Upon reaching the designated location, he observed the camels we had used for our journey. After extensive travelling and hunger, they appeared to be weak and languished. Umar Ibn Khattab (rta) immediately admonished: ‘Are you not afraid of Allah (swt) concerning your mounts? Why did you not let these camels rest a while during your journey, allowing them to graze and replenish their energy?’
We clarified: ‘O Amir-ul-Mumineen! We couldn’t contain our joy over our triumph. We wanted to reach you as fast as we could to share with you the news of our great victory.’
The Caliph returned after hearing us out and we accompanied him. Instantly, a man appeared with a complaint: ‘So-and-so has been cruel to me. Please, help me against him!’
Amir-ul-Mumineen raised his whip and hit the man on his head. He retorted: ‘Why don’t you approach me with your complaints in my spare time? When I am occupied resolving important affairs of the community, you approach and insist to help you right away!’
The man, who had brought the complaint, left. Amir-ul-Mumineen almost immediately ordered for the man to be called back. When the complainant returned, Umar (rta) threw his whip before the man and said: ‘Avenge me!’
The man replied: ‘No, I do not wish to avenge you; instead, I will forgo the matter for Allah (swt) and for you.’
The caliph said: ‘No! Either you pardon me and seek a reward for the same from Allah (swt) or you can avenge me.’
The man chose to pardon the Caliph for the pleasure of Allah (swt).
After that, Umar (rta) left and headed to his house. He offered two Rakahs of prayer and addressed himself: ‘You were an ordinary man, and Allah (swt) granted you a respectable status. You were stumbling in the darkness, and Allah (swt) guided you to light. You were a man of low stature, and Allah (swt) elevated you with a sound reputation and reward. Then, He appointed you as a ruler over people. But when a man, who had been wronged, came to you to seek justice against the wicked, you whipped him. Now, explain: how will you face your Lord on the Day of Recompense, when you are questioned regarding this matter?’
Ahnaf Ibn Qais (rta) states: “While the Amir-ul-Mumineen was reprimanding himself, we were certain that he was the best of men at that time among all of us.”
Adapted (with permission) from Sunehray Faislay published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.