Justice is a concept which from times immemorial evaded man and as a result man needed to be constantly reminded of upholding this great divine injunction. Islam came and re-enforced Justice once again and made it a cornerstone of its religion notwithstanding any forms of injustice regardless of the circumstances. Amongst those who rigidly applied justice in their lives was Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu. Not only in his personal life but also on a social level. In fact he paid much more attention to social justice ensuring that there was no one that was robbed of his or her rights whilst he ruled. It could be said that he became a beacon of Justice of which a world bereft of justice needs to look at closely.

The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, “If there were to be a prophet after me, indeed he would be ‘Umar, son of Khattab.” [Tirmidhi:]

History does not produce men like ‘Umar often. He was a person from whom truth flowed naturally; a man of intuition, he was on his way to kill the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam and ended up accepting Islam! His love for Allah Ta’ala and his Deen was so intense that, while all the other Muslims were hiding their Islam, he was ready to proclaim it, totally ignoring the consequences that would fall on it by doing so . The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam called him, Al-Farooq, the one who clearly distinguishes the truth from falsehood.

Even Shaytaan had given up on ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu. The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said, “O son of Khattab, by the one in whose hand is my soul, whenever Shaytaan sees you taking a path, then he will take another path.” [Bukhari]

When the enemies of Allah Ta’ala would hear about ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu, their knees would weaken and their hearts would tremble.

One of the key qualities of ‘Umar Bin Khattab Radiyallaahu Anhu which exemplified his character was social justice which is the intent of this article. For him, social justice meant redistribution of power and income in such a way that, when introduced at the lowest level, it spread upward to all the levels of society. He established the pillars of justice, Al Adl, The first social policy infrastructure found in Islamic history was set up by Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu. The concept of Bait ul maal(Public Treasury) was established by him. He would patrol the streets of medina at night only to look for those who were in need of assistance. The concept of child grants or children allowance, which gave the children of the state a monthly income, followed by the west today was introduced by him.

One night ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu was on his rounds as usual when he heard the voice of a baby crying. He stood outside the house for some time, but when the baby did not stop crying he knocked at the door and was admitted inside the house. He saw that a woman held a small baby in her lap and the baby continued to cry. ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu turned to the lady and said, “What sort of mother are you? The baby is crying, and you do not feed it with your milk!”

The woman said, “Go and ask ‘Umar as to what sort of Khalifah he is! He has ordained that a child would not get a stipend until it was weaned. In order to secure the stipend for our child we are trying to wean it.”

‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu then told the woman “Feed your baby with your milk, and rest assured you will get the stipend for your baby even though it is not weaned.”

The following day in Fajr Salah, ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu cried so much that the Sahaba said we could not understand what he was reciting and after he had finished he passed orders that stipends would be allowed for children from their date of birth.

People came from faraway lands to seek the justice of ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu.  Anas, Radiyallaahu Anhu, said that a man from the people of Egypt came to ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu and said, “O leader of the believers, I seek refuge in you from injustice!” ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu replied, “You have sought someone willing.” The man said, “I competed with the son of Amr ibn Al-‘As and I won, but he started striking me with a whip and saying: I am the son of the dignified!” Upon this, ‘Umar wrote to Amr ordering him to travel to him with his son. He came with his son and ‘Umar said, “Where is the Egyptian?” He gave him the whip and told him to strike the son of Amr. The man started striking him while ‘Umar was saying, “Strike the son of the illiterates!” Anas said, “By Allah, the man struck him and we loved his striking, and he did not stop until we wished he stopped.” Then ‘Umar said to the Egyptian, “Direct it to Amr.” The Egyptian said, “O leader of the believers, it was only his son who struck me and I have settled the score.” ‘Umar said to Amr, “Since when did you enslave the people though they were born from their mothers in freedom?” Amr said, “O leader of the believers, I did not know about this and he did not tell me.”

In 637 CE, Jerusalem offered a truce, provided that the Khalifah come himself from Medina to sign the treaty. ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu set out for Jerusalem with a slave and a camel. No retinue accompanied the Khalifah. The slave and he would take turns riding the camel and they also gave the camel time off from carrying either passenger. When they approached Jerusalem, ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu was walking and had to cross through muddy ground, as a result of which his feet and clothes got mud on them. When he entered Jerusalem, he was holding the rope of his camel leading it and his clothes were patched and muddy.

Abu Ubaidah Radiyallaahu Anhu, the commander in chief of the Muslim army and himself a very pious man, suggested that he change his clothes so that the people of Jerusalem, accustomed to the pomp and grandeur of kings and emperors, were not dissuaded from handing the keys of Jerusalem over to him. ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu hit him hard on the chest and reminded him that they had been a disgraced nation. What had brought them honour and elevated them was Islam; should they seek honour from anything else, they would surely be humiliated again.“The only way for success is the way of the Holy Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam” he said.
When the people of Jerusalem saw ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu’s simplicity they started crying. Such was his sense of justice, He would sleep beneath a tree peacefully unguarded and it was only this quality which enabled him to do so.

In the year of Ar Ramadah the 18th year after hijrah, the year the Muslims were afflicted by a famine. 60,000 refugees came to Medina and ‘Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu himself would carry oil and food to the people and whenever he would see that the people were deprived of something he would deprive himself of that as well, if they didn’t have meat he would deprive himself from meat if they didn’t have oil he would deprive himself from oil to the extent that the Sahaba feared he would die. He would say, “How can I be a shepherd when I am not struck with what my flock is struck with.”

Even before his death at the hands of the fireworshipper Abu Lulu who said some words to him which implied that he was going to kill him, Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu he did not take action because it was against his sense of justice to punish a man just for his words.

This is just a few incidents of the brand of Justice that Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu applied in his life. Many other incidents of his justice are to be found in recordings of his life.

He was a just leader unparalleled by any other from the time he accepted Islam to his death. For this reason he was given the title of Al-Farooq.

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