[From Fazaa’il e Amaal by Maulana Zakariyya Kandhlawi (rahimahullah)]
Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) would often hold a straw in his hand and say:
“I wish I were a straw like this.”
Sometimes he would say:
“I wish my mother had not given birth to me.”
Once he [radhiyallahu anhu] was busy with some important work when a person came to him and, complaining about some petty grievance, requested for its redress.
Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) laid a lash across his-shoulders, saying:
“When I sit for that purpose, you do not come to me but when I am engaged in other important work you come with your grievances to interrupt me.”
The person walked away. But Hadhrat ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) sent for him and, handing his whip over to him, said: “You now lash me to even the matter.”
He said: “I forgive you for the sake of Allah.” Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) went home, prayed a Salaat of two rakaats in repentance and upbraided himself saying:
“0, Umar! You were low but Allah elevated you. You were wandering astray but Allah guided you. You were base but Allah ennobled you and gave you sovereignty over His people. Now one of them comes and asks you for redress of the wrong done to him, and you beat him?? What answer have you to give before Allah??”
He kept on chiding himself thus for a very long time.
Once Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) was going on his usual round towards Harrah (a suburb of Madinah) with his slave Aslam (rahimahullah), when he saw a distant fire in the desert. He (radhiyallahu anhu) said:
“There seems to be a camp. Perhaps, it is a caravan that could not enter the town due to night fall. Let’s go and look after them and arrange for their protection during the night.”
When he reached there, he found a woman and some children. The children were crying. The woman had a pan of water over the fire. Hadhrat ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) greeted her with salaam and, with her permission, entered into the tent.
Umar (radhiyallahu anhu): “Why are these children crying?”
The Woman: “Because they are hungry.”
Umar (radhiyallahu anhu): “What is in the pan?”
The Woman: “Only water to soothe the children, so that they may go to sleep in the belief that food is’being prepared for them. Ah! Allah will judge between Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) and me, on the Day of Judgement, for neglecting me in my distress.”
‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) (weeping): “May Allah have mercy on you! How can Umar know of your distress?”
The Woman: “When he is our Amir, he must keep himself informed about us.”
Hadhrat ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) returned to the town and straightway went to Baitul-Mal (public treasury) to fill a sack with flour, dates, fat and clothes, and also drew some money. When the sack was ready, he said to Aslam (rahimahullah):
“Now put this sack on my back, Aslam.”
Aslam (rahimahullah): “No please, Amir-ul-Mo’mineen! I shall carry this sack.”
‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) refused to listen to Aslam (rahimahullah), even on his persistent requests to allow him to carry the sack, and remarked:
“What! Will you carry my load on the Day of Judgement?? I must carry this bag, for it is I who would be questioned (in the Hereafter) about this woman.”
Aslam (rahimahullah) most reluctantly placed the bag on Umar’s (Radhiyallahu anhu) back, who carried it with a swift pace right to the woman’s tent. Aslam followed at his heels.
He put a little flour and some dates and fat in the pan and began to stir. He blew (with his mouth) into the fire to kindle it. Aslam (rahimahullah) says:
“I saw the smoke passing through his thick beard.”
After some time, the pottage was ready. He himself served it to the family. When they had eaten to their fill, he made over to them the little that was left for their next meal. The children were very happy after their meal and began to play about merrily. The woman felt very grateful and remarked:
“May Allah reward you for your kindness ! In fact you deserve to take the place of Khalifah instead of ‘Umar.”
‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) consoled her and said:
“When you come to see the Khalifah, you will find me there.”
He sat for a while at a place close by and kept on watching the children. He then returned to Madinah. On his way back, he said to Aslam (rahimahullah):
“Do you know why I sat there, Aslam? I had seen them weeping in distress; I liked to see them laughing and happy for some time.”
It is said that Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) while leading Fajr Salaat used to recite ‘Kahf, Taha’ and other such Surah’s in his Salaat, and would weep so much that his crying could be heard way back to several rows. Once he was reciting Surah ‘Yusuf in Fajr. When he came to the verse:
“I only plead for my distress and anguish unto Allah,” (XII: 86)
He (radhiyallahu anhu) wept so much that he could not recite any further. In Tahajjud, he would sometimes fall to the ground and would get indisposed with excessive weeping.
Such was the fear of Allah in Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) whose name struck terror in the hearts of the mightiest monarchs of his time. Even today, the people are filled with awe when they read about him. Is there any person in power today who is prepared to show such kindness to the people in his charge??