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Sayiduna Umar and the Ego

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Glory to Allāh and Salutations on Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam.

Heraculeus, the Roman emperor, sent some gifts to Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Of the four items he sent, one was an exquisite golden casket filled with diamonds. The second item was a stunningly beautiful slave girl dressed in the most beautiful garments with jewels. The third item was a bottle of such perfume which was priceless. Only kings and emperors could afford it. The fourth item was a bottle of such lethal poison, the odour of which was sufficient to kill a person.

When the emperor’s representative arrived in Madinah Munawwarah in great style and pomp, the inhabitants were intrigued. He asked the people to direct him to the palace of the Muslim Emperor, Ameerul Mu’mineen ‘Umar. The people said that their Ameerul Mu’mineen had neither palace nor fortress. At that time he was in the Musjid in all probability taking a nap because during the night time he would tour the streets taking care of the citizens.

The emperor’s representative was extremely astonished to learn that the king whose name sent shudders down the spines of emperors and kings was sleeping in the Musjid, had neither palace nor fortress, and would walk the streets guarding the citizens. He went to Musjid-e-Nabawi where he found a man sleeping in the sand.

There were no carpets in the Musjid. It was a date-palm structure with a sand floor. The Christian was dumbfounded. He stared in bewilderment at the sleeping Ameerul Mu’mineen. His garments and the covering sheet were full of patches and he was sleeping on the sand. He had no weapons. Only a whip was at his side. But the face of Hadhrat ‘Umar was so awe-inspiring that the Christian began to shiver uncontrollably.

While the emperor’s emissary was riveted in the place where he stood, Hadhrat ‘Umar’s eyes opened. Seeing the stranger in gaudy apparel shivering, he exclaimed: “Don’t fear! Don’t fear!” On Hadhrat ‘Umar’s enquiring, the Christian explained who he was and the purpose of his mission. Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) said: “Let me see the gifts.” The Christian first presented the golden casket filled with diamonds. Hadhrat ‘Umar opened and admired it. Then he handed it to a Sahaabi with the instruction to deposit it into the Baitul Maal (Public Treasury). Then he said: “What else have you brought?” The emperor’s man called the girl who was waiting outside dressed in splendid garments and jewellery. He instructed that she remove her Niqaab (face-covering). When Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) saw her stunning beauty, he exclaimed: “Glory to Allah Who is the Creator of the most beautiful appearances.” This is an aayat in Surah Al-Mu’minoon. Accepting the gift, he looked around the Musjid and saw a slave. He called the slave and asked: “Do you prefer this girl?” The slave in delight exclaimed: “Undoubtedly, I love her.” Hadhrat ‘Umar presented her as a gift to the slave.

He asked: “What else have you brought?” The Christian presented the bottle of perfume and extolled its wondrous virtue. Hadhrat ‘Umar said: “The Musjid is most deserving of it.” He opened the bottle and emptied the contents all over the Musjid. The Christian was stunned by the behaviour of Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Here was a mighty conqueror, emperor and ruler, yet he had no desire for worldly possessions. He simply eliminated whatever was given to him.

Lastly the representative presented the bottle of poison explaining its lethal effect, and that it was a wonderful protection against enemies. Just one whiff and a man would be killed. Hadhrat ‘Umar said: “I have no enemies except one great enemy, that is my evil nafs (inner self) which needs to be killed. So saying, he took the bottle, recited Bismillaahoir Rahmaanir raheem, and with one gulp drank the entire contents of the bottle. The Christians as well as the Sahaabah who were present were shocked. What will now happen? Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) perspired profusely. His garments were drenched with perspiration. But besides this, there was no detrimental effect whatsoever on him. This was Ameerul Mu’mineen Sayyiduna ‘Umar Bin Khattaab (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Even Shaitaan would not walk in the same street when he would see Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) approaching. And about him, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “If a Nabi had to come after me, it would have been ‘Umar.”

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