Will you give information about Hz. Umar? Did Hz. Umar make any mistakes in his ijtihads?

The Details of the Question

Will you give information about Hz. Umar? Did Hz. Umar make any mistakes in his ijtihads?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Umar is among the Companions that were given the glad tiding of Paradise while they were alive. Besides, when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive, some verses that confirmed the views supported by Hz. Umar were sent down. (Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, II; Suyuti, 137-140)

Therefore, it is not permissible to speak against him. It does not fit a Muslim to gossip about a person whom Allah called a person of Paradise and sent down verses to approve his views.  

His knowledge

Hz. Umar had a distinguished place in fiqh. On the one hand, he tried to establish the organizations of the state; on the other hand, he made efforts to ensure the scientific development that was the foundation of this organization. The formation of fiqh methodology started with Hz. Umar. He started to determine the rules that formed the foundations of the science of fiqh while settling the issue about jurisprudence and administration with the methods that he used. The number of the fiqh decrees reported from him through sound chains is a few thousand. Hz. Umar’s ijtihads have a great importance in terms of Islamic law. Nothing except the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is superior to his ijtihads. [Muhammad Rawwas Qal'aji, Mawsuatu Fiqhi Umar b. al-Khattab, 1981, 8; In this book, Hz. Umar’s ijtihads of fiqh were compiled and classified alphabetically.]

Hz. Umar acted very meticulously related to the narrations of hadith. He questioned some people who narrated hadiths from the Prophet (pbuh) and asked witnesses from them for the hadiths that they narrated. Five hundred and thirty-nine hadiths were reported from Hz. Umar himself. (Suyuti, 123)

In addition, he had ilm in the interpretation of the Quran. According to what is reported from Ibn Umar, he was asked who issued fatwas when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was alive; he said, "I do not know anyone except Abu Bakr and Umar to issue fatwas." (H. I. Hasan, İslâm Tarihi, İstanbul 1985, I, 319)

His personality

Hz. Umar is known to act harshly related to doing something that he believed. Before becoming a Muslim, he treated the first believers harshly. After becoming a Muslim, he treated the polytheists in the same way.  

After becoming the caliph, Hz. Umar continued to act meticulously so that what is right would be applied and the rights would be obtained; he acted very carefully and followed the smallest details himself. When he ordered or prohibited something, he would start from his own family. He would gather his family members and address them as follows: "I prohibited this and that. People observe you like birds of prey observing flesh. I swear by Allah that if any of you violates these prohibitions, I will punish him more severely."

Although he had a stern character, he would act humbly toward people. That he was the president of a state that had vast land and strong armies did not prevent him from leading a humble and plain life like other people. He avoided wearing expensive and luxurious clothes and never avoided doing ordinary chores like other people. He who did not know him could not understand that he was the caliph of the Muslims because the clothes he wore usually had patches.

Hz. Umar had a strong rhetoric and he spoke eloquently. His superior ability was also seen in his writings. The instructions and letters he wrote to his governors were regarded as examples for the Arabic language. He memorized the poems of Arab poets and wrote a few poems.

When Hz. Umar worshipped, he would turn to his Lord with all of his being. After becoming the caliph, he started to perform nafilah prayers at night due to being very busy during daytime. He would awaken his household for the morning prayer by reading the following verse: "Enjoin prayer on thy people…" (Taha, 20/132). He performed hajj every year and he himself led the hajjis who came to Makkah for hajj. He felt the responsibility toward his Lord so much that he said he would be happy if he managed to pass through the Reckoning on the Day of Judgment without being punished. He expressed this concern with the following couplet at his deathbed:

"I have wronged my soul except for being a Muslim, performing prayers and fasting." (Shibli Numani, Bütün yönleriyle Hz. Ömer (ra) ve Devlet İdaresi, Translated by Talip Yaşar Alp, İstanbul, II / 373).

Hz. Umar’s personal life was rather plain. Hz. Umar was the president of a strong state that sent big armies against Byzantine and Iran and that defeated them continuously, which they experienced very rarely in their history. Despite this, he led his life wearing clothes that had patches and torn shoes. He sometimes carried water to a widow and sometimes slept on the ground in the mosque to relax a bit after a tiring day. He travelled from Madinah to Makkah many times but he never had a tent with him; he relaxed in a simple manner by stretching a bed linen on some branches.

Once, Ahnaf b. Qays visited Hz. Umar with some notables of Arabs; they say him running with his garment tucked under his belt. When Hz. Umar saw Ahnaf, "Come and join us to catch the camel. A camel belonging to the state ran away. You know how many people have rights on it." Meanwhile, somebody asked him why he was worried so much and why he did not order a slave to catch it. Hz. Umar said, "Who can be a better slave than me?" (Shibli, ibid, I / 384-385).

These examples showing Hz. Umar’s daily life displayed how those who undertook the responsibility of the ummah should fulfill their duties and that they had to judge without being deceived by the attraction of their positions and without living in a way that is different form ordinary people, setting a model valid for all ages. A president can establish a just administration only like that, without living away from people and their ordinary life. What gained Hz. Umar the attribute fair (just) was his doing his best like that in order to make Islam dominant on earth.

Hz. Umar earned his living through trade. In addition, it is known that the Prophet (pbuh) gave him some fields in Madinah. The land obtained after the conquest of Khaybar was divided among those who took part in the war. However, Hz. Umar established a foundation for the land that was given to him as his share and arranged a foundation contract. That was the first foundation in Islam:   

"This land cannot be sold or given to anybody as a present and be inherited, but its yield will be given in charity to the poor people and relatives, for freeing slaves, for Allah's Cause, to the travelers and guests; and that there will be no harm if the guardian of the endowment ate from it according to his need with good intention, and fed others without storing it for the future." (Bukhari, Shurut, 19)

After being the caliph, he was always busy with state affairs; therefore, he applied to the Companions for his livelihood; He and his family were given a certain amount of money from the Treasury enough for their livelihood. When the Muslims were put on salary in 15 H, five thousand dirhams were allocated to him like the other notables of the Companions. However, his expenses were not very much. Umar generally ate and drank the following: Bread (sometimes whole-whet bread), sometimes meat, milk, vegetables and vinegar. 

There are many sound hadiths about the virtue and superiority of Hz. Umar. He was so uncompromising related to the religion that even devils avoided encountering him. Once, he went to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to ask something from him. When the women heard the voice of Umar, they stood up and went hurriedly behind the curtain. When Umar entered, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was smiling. Hz. Umar said to him, "May Allah keep you happy all your life!" Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said, "I wonder at these women who were with me; no sooner did they hear your voice, they immediately went behind the curtain." Hz. Umar said, "O Messenger of Allah! You have more right that they should fear you." Then he addressed the women as follows: "O enemies of yourselves! Do you fear me and fear not the Messenger of Allah?" The women said, "Yes, you are harsh and strict compared to the Messenger of Allah." The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if Satan would encounter you in the way, he would certainly take a different way from that of yours." (Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, 22).

In another narration, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following about him:

"There is no angel in the sky that does not respect Umar. There is no Satan on earth that does not escape from Umar." (Suyuti, ibid, 133)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following related to the superiority of Hz. Umar about seeing the truth and applying it:

"In the ummahs before you, there were sometimes people of inspiration. If there are any of them in my ummah, Umar b. Khattab is one of them." (Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, II)

This statement explains the sagacious deeds and decisions of Hz. Umar in a sense. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following:  

"Allah rendered the truth in accordance with Umar's tongue and heart." (Usdul-Ghaba, IV / 151; Suyuti, 132)

Once, he pointed to Hz. Umar and said,  

"There will be a firmly closed door between mischief and you as long as he lives." (Suyuti, ibid)

This state of Umar is confirmed by some verses that were sent down in accordance with his views. Hz. Umar states the following:

"My view turned out to be in accordance with my Lord in three issues: Maqam Ibrahim, and slaves of Badr." (Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, II).

Hz. Umar did not mention the others. For instance, the verse ordering the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) not to perform janazah prayers of munafiqs is one of them. (see Muslim, the same chapters; for the verses that were sent down in accordance with Hz. Umar’s views, see Suyuti, ibid, 137-140)

His life in summary

Hz. Umar is the second rightly-guided caliph. He is one of the closest Companions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in his struggle of oneness to spread Islam and to make it dominant on earth. Hz. Umar was born thirteen years after the Incident of Elephant. According to a narration reported from him, he was born for years after the Big war of Fijar. (Ibnul-Athir, Usdul-Ghaba, Cairo 1970, IV,146). His father is Khattab b. Nufayl; his ancestor Ka'b is also the ancestor of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He belongs to Adiyy clan of Quraysh; his mother is Hantama, who is Abu Jahl’s sister or cousin. (see ibid, 145)

The resources do not mention much about the life of Hz. Umar before Islam. However, it is known that he herded the sheep belonging to his father when he was a child and that he started trade afterwards. He joined the caravans that went to the direction of Syria. (H. Ibrahim Hasan, Tarikhul-Islam, Egypt 1979, I, 210). He was among the notables of Makkah during the Era of Jahiliyya; he was the envoy of the Makkan city-state. When a war broke out, they would send Umar as the envoy to the other party and act in accordance with the information he gave and his view. He also took an active part in the settlement of the disagreements among the tribes and the decisions he made would be binding. (Suyuti, Tarikhul-Khulafa, Beirut 1986, 123; Usdul-Ghaba, IV, 146)

Hz. Umar had a harsh character and was among those who showed an extreme reaction against Islam. Finally, he decided to kill Muhammad (pbuh), who denied the religion of their ancestors, insulted the idols they worshipped and called people to turn their faces away from the idols. He girded on his sword and set off to kill the Messenger of Allah. However, this attempt caused him to become a Muslim. According to the narration reported by historians unanimously, Umar became a Muslim as follows:  

"While Umar was walking to the place where the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was in order to kill him, he met Nuaym b. Abdullah on the way. When Nuaym asked him where he was going so furiously, he said he was going to kill Muhammad. When Nuaym found out what he wanted to do, he told Umar that his sister and brother-in-law accepted the new religion and that he had to take care of his family first. When Umar heard this, he hurried on to the house of his brother-in-law. When Umar arrived at the door, they were reading the Quran. When he knocked on the door, the people inside the house stopped reading and hid the pages of the Quran they were reading. Umar entered the house and started to beat his brother-in-law. His sister, who intervened also received a blow and her nose started to bleed. When his sister told him that they would not return from their religion no matter what he did and expressed their determination, Umar started to show mercy and said he wanted to see what they were reading. Umar, who started to read the verses of the Quran from the pages given to him, became a believer there and asked where the Messenger of Allah was. At that time, the Muslims used to come together in Arqam’s house, which was near Safa Hill. When Umar found out that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was in Dar al-Arqam, he went straight to Arqam’s house. He knocked on the door. When the Companions saw that it was Umar, they started to feel worried because Umar was standing at the door wearing his weapons. Hz. Hamza said,

"This is Umar. It is all right if he has come with a good intention. If he has a bad intention, it is easy for us to kill him." Then, he had the door opened. The Messenger of Allah held Umar’s collars and said

"O Ibn Khattab! Be a Muslim. O Allah! Give him guidance!" Umar uttered kalima ash-shahadah at once and declared that he believed. (Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqatul-Kubra, II/268-269; Usdul-Ghaba, IV/148-149; Suyuti, Tarikhul-Khulafa, Beirut 1986, 124 ff)

According to narrations, Umar became a Muslim as a result of the following prayer by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): "O Allah! Elevate Islam with Umar (ra) b. al-Khattab or Amr b. Hisham (Abu Jahl)." (Ibnul-Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Isaba fi Tamyizis-Sahaba, Baghdad n.d., II, 518; Ibn Sa'd, ibid; Suyuti, ibid, 125)

Umar became a Muslim in the sixth year of the prophethood. When he became a believer, the number of the Muslims was about seventy or eighty. (Ibn Sa'd, ibid)

The Muslims could not perform prayers in Baytullah due to the brutal reactions of the polytheists and they could gather secretly. When Umar became a Muslim, he went to Baytullah and declared loudly that he had become a Muslim. Those who were there reacted severely. However, he continued his struggle against the polytheists and broke their opposition to the Muslims. He performed a prayer with a few Muslims in Baytullah. His joining the Muslims like that boosted the morale of the Muslims. The following statement of Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud expresses it clearly: "Umar’s being a Muslim was a conquest." (Usdul-Ghaba, IV,151; Ibn Sa'd, ibid, III, 270) According to a hadith Tabari reported from Ibn Abbas, the first person to declare that he was a Muslim was Hz. Umar. (Suyuti, ibid, 129) Hz. Umar struggled against unbelief openly and without heeding any threats with the excitement of belief that surrounded him. The polytheists could not dare to disturb him because they knew his courage and determination.  

After becoming a Muslim, Hz. Umar was together with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) all the time and did his best to protect him.

After becoming a believer, he treated the polytheists harshly and defended his religion on any occasion without fearing anyone and by challenging everybody. When migration to Madinah was ordered so that the message of Islam would have a new aspect, the Muslims started to migrate to Madinah from Makkah secretly but Umar did not need to migrate secretly. He set off for Madinah with twenty people. Hz. Ali narrates his migration as follows:

"I do not know anybody who migrated openly except Umar. When he prepared for migration, he girded on his sword, placed his bow on his shoulder, held his arrows and went to the Kaaba. The notables of Quraysh were sitting in the yard of the Kaaba. He circumambulated the Kaaba seven times and performed a prayer of two rak’ahs in front of Maqam Ibrahim. He approached the polytheists who were sitting there in circles and addressed each of them as follows: "The faces have become dirty. Let anyone who wants to leave his mother sonless, his children orphans and his wife a widow follow me in that valley." None of them dared to prevent him." (Suyuti, ibid, 130)

Umar took part actively in all of the events that affected the elevation of Islam during the period of Madinah. Umar was one of the first people that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) consulted when he was to make important decision. The views he expressed were so unerring that some verses were sent down in accordance with his views. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated this fact as follows:  

"Allah rendered the truth in accordance with Umar's tongue and heart." (Usdul-Ghaba, IV, 151).

Umar took part in all of the battles and wars like Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and Khaybar, and many expeditions; he was a commander in some of them. One of them was the sariyya sent against the people of Hawazin.

Umar is known by his clear and uncompromising attitude in the face of all issues. His enmity toward unbelief and his sensitiveness about not being able to put up with the attacks of the polytheists on Islam caused him to oppose some decisions severely. His opposition to the items of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya that seemed to be in favor of the polytheists was one of them. However, when the Messenger of Allah warned him that what he did was the order of Allah, he retreated and realized the wisdom behind it.    

Hz. Umar played an important role in eliminating the disorder that occurred immediately after the death of the Messenger of Allah through the election of Hz. Abu Bakr as the caliph. The greatest assistant of Hz. Abu Bakr in his short period of caliphate was Umar.

When Hz. Abu Bakr realized that he would die, he thought of appointing Hz. Umar as his caliph and he consulted some Companions by telling them about his thought. Everybody accepted the virtues and superiority of Hz. Umar but some people thought he was too stern for the caliphate. Besides, Talha and some other Companions asked him, "If your Lord questions you due to appointing Umar as the caliph, what will you say? You know that Umar is a very harsh person. Hz. Abu Bakr said, "I will say, ‘O Allah! I chose the best of your slave as the caliph." Then, he called Hz. Uthman and dictated that he appointed Hz. Umar as the caliph. The paper was folded and sealed. Then, Hz. Uthman went out and asked the people there to pay allegiance to the person whose name was written in the paper. When the people there paid allegiance, Hz. Umar became the second rightly-guided caliph. (Usdul-Ghaba, IV,168-199; Ibn Sad, ibid, III, 274 vd.; Suyuti ibid, 92-94)

The Islamic State and Conquests during the Caliphate of Hz. Umar

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was alive, Islam became dominant in the Arabian Peninsula and people became integrated with the Muslims by entering Islam in groups.   

After that, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) started military expeditions against the Byzantine Empire, which formed a barrier, preventing the message of Islam from being conveyed to people and which was one of the polytheistic oppressors. Hz. Abu Bakr suppressed the movements of Ridda (Abjuration), which occurred immediately after the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh); then, he started military attacks on the land under the domination of the Byzantine. On the other hand, he started military activities against the Persian Empire, which was one of the despotic states of that age. What was necessary for Hz. Umar was to continue this policy. On the one hand, he made efforts to complete the conquest of Syria; on the other hand, he sent armies to the front of Iran. The army of Iran was defeated in the War of Qadisiya; Kisra (Chosroes) had to escape to the east by leaving his palaces to the army of Islam. Thanks to the armies that were sent to Iran one after another, some parts of Iran were captured through war while other parts were captured through peace. Mughira b. Shu'ba, who went to the north, captured Azerbaijan through peace. The region of Armenia was also conquered.   

After the conquest of Syria was completed, the military operations in this region were transferred to the west. Quds (Jerusalem) was besieged after the cities and towns around it had been conquered. The Christians in the city resisted for a while but they had to ask for peace in the end. However, they were afraid of the commanders; therefore, they said they wanted to surrender the city to the caliph himself. Hz. Umar was informed about the situation by Abu Ubayda. After consulting the notables of the Companions, Hz. Umar set off for Jabiya, where he had decided to meet his commanders. After the treaty made in Jabiya, Hz. Umar went to Quds and the city was delivered to him. (16 H- 637 AD) After staying in Quds for a while, Hz. Umar returned to Madinah.  

Meanwhile, things at the front of Iran started to go wrong. Hz. Umar decided to settle the issue of Iran by strengthening and supporting the armies in the region.  As a result of the attacks that started in 21 H and that were strengthened continuously, the land of Iran up to Khorasan, including Azerbaijan and Armenia, was captured; thus, the military operations at the front of Iran were completed.

On the other hand, Amr b. al-As managed to conquer Egypt with the plan that he prepared and put into practice; he attacked the Byzantine army, which was making preparations in Alexandria in order to repel the Muslims from Egypt, and captured Alexandria. (21 H) Thus, the Byzantine domination in Egypt ended after Syria. (Shibli Numani, Bütün yönleriyle Hz. Ömer (ra) ve Devlet İdaresi, Translated by Talip Yaşar Alp, Istanbul n.d., I, 285-286)

The people in the regions conquered by the Muslims entered Islam in groups because they were affected by the tolerance and fair treatment shown by the Muslims. The people who were crushed by the oppression of the Byzantine and Persian states and who were despised did not hesitate to become Muslims when they encountered the encompassing mercy of Islam. Those who did not want to abandon their religions were not pressurized; in addition, they attained a vast freedom of faith.

On the one hand, Hz. Umar sent armies to various places in order to eliminate the barriers that prevented the message of Islam from being conveyed to people; on the other hand, he tried to organize the state, which lacked its institutions.  

Before Hz. Umar, the soldiers that joined the army and the money given to them was not used to be written and recorded in certain books. This naturally caused some confusion; the income and expense could not be recorded. It was not necessary very much in the first years of Islam. However, when the land of the state got bigger and bigger, it became necessary to make some administrative arrangements in order to make the state effective on this vast land. He established the organization of "diwan", in which the soldiers were recorded and the distribution of the revenues of fay’ and booty was recorded.

In addition, the diwans in Syria and Iraq continued to exist. They did works about the collection of taxes. Although the diwans in Syria and Iraq remained from Iranian and Byzantine financial organizations, the diwan he established in Madinah without any foreign influence was used in order to meet the needs that occurred.

Hz. Umar also classified the atiyyas (grants) he distributed from the revenues of fay’.  

Hz. Umar is the first person to appoint qadis (judges) that worked independently from the governors in order to arrange the jurisdiction. He appointed Shurayh b. al-Harith to Kufa, and Qays b. Abil-As as-Sahmi to Egypt as qadis. His qadi in Madinah was Abu Darda. One of the famous qadis of that period was Abu Musa al-Ashari. Hz. Umar gave the qadis he appointed instructions about how to fulfill their duties and warned them not to go beyond those limits. (Mustafa Fayda, Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslâm Tarihi, Istanbul 1986, II, 176-177).

The most important issue that Hz. Umar dwelled on meticulously and never showed any tolerance was the issue of justice. He acted very harshly so that rights would be given to their owners without any discrimination. There is no difference between a slave and his master in his eye related to justice.  

He tried to do everything to practice justice fully, to look after the needy and the poor and to be informed about the things in all parts of the country in time. He did not discriminate among needy people; he helped the Christians and Jews that were poor too. 

One of the main duties of the state is to make ilm (knowledge) available to all people. Hz. Umar opened schools in the regions that were conquered, appointed teachers there; he made efforts to educate people so that they could read the Quran and act accordingly. He benefited from the Companions and other scholars in order to teach Islam to new Muslims and to convey the message of Islam; he appointed them and sent them to various regions. He allocated high salaries to those scholars who taught the Quran hadith and fiqh. Hz. Umar had mosques built all around the country. It is narrated that four thousand mosques were built during his caliphate. (Ahmad an-Nadwi, Asr as-Saadah, Translated by Ali Genceli, Istanbul 1985, I, 317)

The need for the use of a calendar arose during the caliphate of Hz. Umar; thus, the problems caused by the difficulty determining dates were eliminated thanks to the calendar formed based on the Migration. (16 H)

The Islamic state was an independent state and it had economic activities on a vast geographic area but the money used there was of foreign origin. Persian dirhams were in circulation in the regions of Iraq and Iran, and Byzantine dinars in Syria and Egypt. This situation posed the threat of an economic pressure thought it had not started to be felt then. It was impossible for Hz. Umar not to intervene it while trying to establish the necessary organizations for the state. He coined money in 17 H and started its circulation. It is also known that Khalid b. Walid had money coined in Tabariya in 15 H. (Hassan Hallaq, Dirasat fi Tarikhil-Khadaratil-Islamiya, Beirut 1979, 13-15).

Hz. Umar established cities of encampment in order to ensure the security of the Islamic state against the possible attacks from outside and to have armies ready in places near the enemy regions. He established Basra encampment for the possible sea attacks from the direction of Iran and India. The location of this city was determined by Hz. Umar himself. He appointed Utba b. Ghazwan for this task. Utba went to the region of Hariba, which was empty and uninhabited at that time with eight hundred men and started to build the city of Basra in 14 H.

Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas started to attack inside Iran after the great victory in Qadisiya. His army was in Madayin then. However, when it was understood that the climate of Madayin affected the Arab soldiers negatively, Hz. Umar ordered Sa'd to find a place that was appropriate in terms of climate and that was not separated from the center of the state by a sea. Salman and Hudhayfa, who were appointed to find a place like that, regarded Kufa appropriate. This city of encampment, which was established in 17 H, was big enough to house forty thousand people.

After Amr b. al-As conquered Egypt, he asked permission from Hz. Umar to use Alexandria as his headquarters. Hz. Umar did not want a river to exist between him and the armies in Egypt because he was worried about communication; therefore, he rejected Amr’s offer. Amr moved to the east bank of the Nile and established the city of Fustat there (H. 21). In addition to those cities of encampment, headquarters with military purposes were also established. 

Hz. Umar’s Understanding of Administration

When Hz. Umar was to decide about an issue that would interest the community, he would consult the Muslims and ask their views. He said, "Things practiced without consultation are bound to fail." The method he used in consultation was as follows: First, he would consult most of the Muslims that he could see; after that, he would ask the opinion of Qurayshis; finally, he would ask the Companions. Thus, the most appropriate view would appear and it would be practiced. Hz. Umar asked the Muslims to warn him when they saw a mistake in the things he did. He would ask the views of dhimmis who were followers of other religions related to the issues that interested them. This shows how comprehensive Hz. Umar’s understanding of justice was.

Hz. Umar would treat the officials he appointed harshly and never allowed them to commit injustice. He treated ordinary people compassionately and did his best to find their problems that they concealed and to solve them. His following statement shows his sensitivity regarding the issue:

"If a camel is destroyed by the side of the Euphrates, I fear that Allah will ask Umar about it."

Hz. Umar would travel in order to see closely the situation of the people who lived away from the center. He was worried that those people could not inform him about their problems since they were far away from the center. He travelled to some regions and planned to visit others but his lifespan was not long enough to do it. The following incident reported about Hz. Umar, who is known as the model of justice in the history of Islam, shows that he really deserved it:

Once, he was walking with Aslam near Harra (outside Madinah); he saw a light and said to Aslam,

"There is someone affected by the night and cold over there. Let us go there." When they arrived, they saw a woman with her two children around a fire on which there was a saucepan. Hz. Umar said to them,

"Greetings to the family with light." The woman answered his greeting; after receiving permission from the woman to approach, Hz. Umar asked her why the children were crying. The woman said they were hungry. Hz. Umar asked her what she was cooking in the saucepan. She said there was only water in the saucepan and that she consoled them that she was cooking something. Then, she said,

"Allah will definitely ask Umar about it." Hz. Umar said to her,

"How should Umar know about your situation?" The woman said,

"Why did he become the caliph if he could not know?"

Hz. Umar shuddered when he heard the answer and went to the storehouse of food with Aslam directly. Aslam wanted to carry the sack that they filled with food. However, Hz. Umar said to him,

"You will not carry my burden on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, let me carry my own burden." He put the sack on his shoulder and took it to the place where the woman was. Hz. Umar cooked the meal himself and fed them. Aslam said,

"When he blew into the fire, I watched the smoke coming between his temples." When Hz. Umar was about to leave, the woman said,

"You deserve the post of Umar more than him."  Hz. Umar said,

"Pray for Umar. If you go to visit him one day, you will see me there." (Usdul-Ghaba, IV, 67)

That is only one example of his sensitivity related to helping people and meeting their needs.

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