Rather than discussing the dirty politics of foul language, accusations, blame games and horse trading, let’s have a look at some of the finer aspects of our religion and culture.
Two young men once entered the gathering (Majlis) of Hazrat Umar (RA), walked up to a man, pointed their fingers at him and said: “O Amirul Momineen, he is the man. He killed our father.” “What do you mean, he killed your father” asked Hazrat Umar (RA). He then asked the accused man if it was true that he had killed the young men’s father. “Yes, Amirul Momineen,” came the reply. “Their father was killed by me.”
When asked what had happened, he answered: “O Umar (RA), their father rode into my field of crops on his camel. I asked him not to continue and to turn back, but he paid no attention to what I said. I then threw a stone at him that, unfortunately, hit his head and he fell off his camel and died instantly.” Hazrat Umar (RA) said: “Then you will have to pay the penalty which is death – death for death.” The judgement was instant and clear; no need for further questioning or delay. The accused then asked if he could go to the desert to inform his wife and children that he was to be executed for murder as there was nobody else to inform them or to look after them. “I will come back”, he assured those present. Hazrat Umar (RA) then asked him if he could provide a guarantor. Followed by the demand was dead silence, as nobody knew the man or his family. There was nobody to intercede on his behalf. There was concern all around that the man would be executed and his family would starve to death. Hazrat Umar (RA) himself was sad and worried and requested the young men to pardon him, which they flatly refused to do.
Hazrat Umar (RA) then asked those present if there was anybody who could stand as guarantor for the accused. At this, Abu Zar Ghaffari (RA), a highly respected companion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), rose and said that he would stand as guarantor. The caliph said: “Abu Zar (RA), he has killed a man. Do you know him?” “No, I don’t know him”, was the reply. “Then how can you stand as guarantor”, he was asked. Abu Zar (RA) said: “I see him as a noble person, not a liar. I believe he will come back.” “You will be killed in his place if he does not return within three days”, Hazrat Umar (RA) warned. “Allah is the disposer of all”, said Abu Zar (RA). After that the accused departed.
Three days later a large gathering was held and Hazrat Umar (RA) was extremely worried. The two young men were still eager to get revenge for their father’s death. Just before Maghrib prayers, the accused presented himself for the final act. Hazrat Umar (RA) loudly shouted “Allahu Akbar”, which was repeated by all the people present. He then told the accused that had he not returned, there was nothing that could be done about it since nobody knew where to find him. The man said: “O Amirul Momineen, the matter was not between you and me, it was an undertaking with Allah as the witness, so here I am. I have left my family at the mercy of the Almighty. I could not break my pledge, thus, creating the impression that Muslims had lowered themselves to the point of breaking a pledge.” Hazrat Umar (RA) then turned to Hazrat Abu Zar (RA) and asked: “O Abu Zar (RA), what prompted you to stand as his guarantor?” He answered: “O Umar (RA), I was afraid that people would be inclined to believe that righteousness and nobility were no longer Muslim traits.”
Hazrat Umar (RA) paused for a while and then asked the two young men what their final decision was. They started crying and said: “O Amir ul Momineen! We pardon him because he was true and honest. We don’t want to give the impression that forgiveness is no longer a tradition in Islam.” Hazrat Umar (RA) started crying and said: “O young men! May the Almighty reward you for your noble deed. O Abu Zar (RA)! May the Almighty reward you too. O man! May the Almighty reward you for being honest and for keeping your promise.”
Some religious scholars have commented that many of such virtues and values were, unfortunately, buried with the death of Hazrat Umar (RA). May Allah Almighty reward the translator of this episode for passing it on to us. In connection with the pledges made to Allah, we recite Dua-e-Qunut in the last Rakat while saying the Witr in Isha prayers. From the translation in the succeeding paragraph we can see that by reciting this dua, we make a pledge with Allah every evening. But do we keep this pledge? We probably will have forgotten it by morning! May Allah guide us to live our lives according to His divine edicts and Ahadees-e-Nabvi.