Justice, Compassion, and Mercy in Islam – Part 2

By S Kaisar Alam   In part 1, we saw the incredible manifestation of justice and mercy in Rasulullah’s  life. His companions soaked up his teachings and examples. Here are some examples in the lives of his best

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By S Kaisar Alam

 

In part 1, we saw the incredible manifestation of justice and mercy in Rasulullah’s  life. His companions soaked up his teachings and examples. Here are some examples in the lives of his best companions.

Abu Bakr and His Allowance

Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) was a rich merchant. After he was selected as the first Khalifah (Caliph) of Islam, Umar (RA) and some other Companions put pressure on him to leave his business and accept some allowance from the Baitul Mal. Abu Bakr chose an amount that was hardly sufficient for him and his family. Once his wife wanted to prepare some sweet dish, and somehow saved something after one month. When she brought to him the money to make purchases for the sweet dish, Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) said, “It seems that we have been overpaid, beyond our needs”. He then deposited the saving in the Baitul Mal and she was not able to prepare the sweet dish. Not only this, he got his allowance cut down for future by the amount saved by his wife.

Umar’s Clothing

The faithful at Madinah had gathered in the Prophet’s  mosque to offer the Friday (Jumu’ah) prayer. Umar, the leader of the believers, arrived to lead the prayers. When he stood up to deliver his address to the congregation, he began by reciting some verses from the Holy Quran. Then he addressed the congregation by saying, “Now listen.”
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A young man from the congregation stood up to say, “We will not listen to you, until you give us the explanation that you owe to us.”
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Umar turned to the young man and said, “Explanation for what?”
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The young man said “The other day each one of us obtained a piece of cloth from the Baitul Mal. Today I find two pieces of cloth on the Khalifah. I want to know what right had the Khalifah to get a share twice the share of an ordinary Muslim?”
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Before Umar could explain, Abdullah the son of Umar rose up and said, “Friends, the truth of the matter is that like every other person my father and myself obtained a piece of cloth each from the Baitul Mal. My father is so tall that the piece of cloth that he got from the Baitul Mal did not suffice him. So I gave him my piece of the cloth.”
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The young man who had interrupted the Khalifah said, “We are satisfied. You can now proceed with your address. We will listen to you and, obey your commands.”
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The event ended as Umar turned to the audience and said: “I enjoin you to follow me as long as I follow Allah and his Prophet . When there is any deviation on my part, correct me. If I deliberately deviate from the truth, do not follow me. Pray that you and I may steadfastly keep to the path of the Truth enjoined by Islam.”

Ali and His Shield

During the reign of Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (4th Khalifah of Islam), he lost his shield in a battle. On returning to the city of Al-Kufa, Ali (RA) happened to see his shield in the possession of a Jewish man. Upon seeing his shield, Ali (RA) told him, “That shield is my shield. I didn’t give it to you nor did I sell it to you.” The Jewish Man replied, “It’s my shield and it’s in my hand.” Both men went to the court of the famous Shurayh al-Qadi (RA) who served as a judge through the era of Umar (RA), Uthman (RA), and Ali (RA), renowned for his impeccable sense of justice and for holding all people equal before the law.
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The following dialog took place:

Shurayh Al-Qadi: Tell me O Leader of the Believers, what is your claim?

Ali: This shield is my shield and I have not given it to him nor sold it to this man.

Shurayh Al-Qadi: What do you say oh Jewish Man?

The Jewish Man: It’s my shield and it’s in my hand.

Shurayh Al-Qadi: Do you (Ali) have any evidence?

Ali: My servant Qandar and my son Hassan are witness.
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According to Qadhi Shuraih, the testimony of a son in favour of his father or an emancipated slave was not admissible, hence he ordered Ali to present another witness. When Ali was unable to do so, Qadhi Shuraih dismissed his original claim to the shield.
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Ali (RA) became angry, to which Shurayh Al-Qadi (RA) said “Why are you angry Oh Leader of the Believers? You know this is the correct judgement.” Ali (RA) replied “I am not angered by the judgement against me, but I am angered by the unfair treatment of this man when you call me Leader of the Believers and you call him “The Jewish Man.”
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The Jew could not believe that Justice would be applied in the Islamic state even against Ali, the Khalifah who is at the same time the Prophet’s beloved and trusted cousin. Then the Jew said: “I declare that there is but one God and that Muhammad is His Prophet. O Leader of the believers the shield was yours, I followed your army while you were leaving and it fell from your camel.”
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In response, Ali (RA) gave the shield back to the man as a gift. This same man who saw the implementation of true justice went on to remain in the close company of Ali (RA) and was eventually a martyr in a battle.

Umar, the Governor’s Son, and the Copt

The story of a Copt and Amr Ibn Al-‘As, the ruler of Egypt, is another famous story about justice. Amr’s son, proud of his parentage, hit the Copt’s son with a whip. The Copt complained to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, who then summoned Amr and his son to Madinah. Umar gave the whip to the Copt’s son and said, “Now whip this son of noble parents” After he had done so, Umar said, “Now whip the bald head of Amr, because his son beat you on account of his father’s authority.” The Copt replied, “I have already whipped the person who whipped me.” Then ‘Umar turned his face to Amr and uttered his everlasting words, “O Amr, since when do you treat as slaves those who were born as free men?”
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What is most remarkable about this incident is the fact that people ruled by Islamic officials were so aware of their humanity and honor that even a slap was totally inadmissible. On the other hand, in Roman and other times, many similar and even worse injustices went unpunished, for the injured party could not make any protest or complaint. In the Islamic state, however, a citizen could take advantage of his rights and self-respect, even if he had to travel from Egypt to Madinah to do so. Such a journey would not be in vain, for he could be sure that his case would be given due consideration and that his complaint would be dealt with justly.

Why Did Umar Refuse to Pray in a Church?

Following the battle of Yermuk, the Muslim army lay siege on the city of Jerusalem, sacred to the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. In the beginning, the Byzantines offered very stiff resistance. However, the Muslim soldiers were able to considerably strengthen the besieging Muslim force once northern Syria had fallen to the Muslims. This made the citizens of Jerusalem lose heart. The Patriarch of Jerusalem implored that it was written in their holy books that the city would surrender to the man who was the best among the Muslims. He accordingly desired that the Khalifah Umar should come to Jerusalem personally to receive the surrender of the city.
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When the matter reached Umar (RA), he asked his Consultative Council for their advice. There were some debate, but Ali (RA) said that Jerusalem was as sacred to the Muslims as the Jews or the Christians, and that in view of the sanctity of the place it was desirable that its surrender should be received by the Khalifah personally. Umar decided to accept this advice.
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During his journey to Jerusalem, Umar was accompanied by one slave only. Between them they had only one camel and they took turn riding it. As they neared Jabia where the Muslim Commanders were to meet Umar, it was the turn of the slave to ride. The slave wanted Umar to ride the animal, but Umar refused. As they came to Jabia the people saw the strange spectacle of the slave riding the camel and the Khalifah walking on foot.
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A deputation from Jerusalem waited on Umar at Jabia and a treaty was drawn up. According to the treaty, security of life and property were guaranteed to all citizens of Jerusalem. The safety of churches and other religious buildings and places was provided for. The non-Muslim citizens were required to pay Jizya. Anyone not agreeable to owe allegiance to the Muslims was given the option to leave the city.
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At the gate of Jerusalem, Umar was greeted by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the elite of the city and the Muslim Commanders. While those who had come to receive him wore costly dress, Umar was dressed in a garment of coarse cloth ordinarily worn by an average Arab. When someone advised him to wear a better dress befitting the state occasion, Umar turned down the suggestion saying that he derived his strength and status from his faith in Islam, and not from any dress.
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The Patriarch of Jerusalem handed over the keys of the city of Jerusalem to Umar. Umar said that he wanted to be led to some place where he could offer a thanksgiving prayer to God. He was led to a Church but he refused to pray there, on the grounds that that would set a precedent for the Muslims of the following generations to forcibly convert churches into mosques. He was thereafter led to a place where the Prophet David used to pray. Here Umar offered special prayers of thanksgiving and all the Muslims joined him.
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Umar stayed in Jerusalem for a few days. He reorganized the administration, and made the necessary arrangements to look after the needs of the citizens. He founded a mosque at an elevated place in the city. This mosque came to be known as Umar’s Mosque.

Umar and the poor widow

It was the year of the famine. Umar, the Khalifah, was going around in Medina one night when everyone was sleeping, to see that everything was okay in the city. He was accompanied by his slave Aslam. All was quiet and the people seemed to be asleep.
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Then he heard the sound of children crying coming from one house. Khalifah went nearer and heard a lady saying to her children, ‘Don’t cry. Wait a little bit more. The food is going to be cooked and I’m going to feed you.’
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Umar went to the house. He saw that the lady of the house was cooking something on the hearth. Umar enquired why the children were crying. She replied that they were crying because they were hungry. ‘And what are you cooking?’ asked Umar. The lady said that in the kettle there was only water and stones. That was to while away the children that food was being cooked for them. She hoped that the exhausted children would go to sleep.
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Hearing this tale of woe, Umar felt guilty. He had thought that because of the arrangements made by him, no one was afflicted in the city and here was a family which was starving. Umar said to the lady that he would arrange relief for her family immediately.
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Umar went to the Baitul Mal. There he put the necessary provisions in a bag and carried the bag to the cottage. His slave insisted that he would carry the bag, but Umar said that he would carry his burden himself saying that he was responsible for the welfare of his people and that his servant would not be there on the Day of Judgment to carry his sins. Umar handed over the bag of provisions to the lady. Umar sat by the hearth and helped the lady cook the meals. When the meals were ready, the children were awakened and served with the delicious meals. As the children ate to their fill and were satisfied, they smiled the smile of happiness. Seeing the destitute children smile, Umar also felt happy.
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Umar enquired of the lady whether there was none to support. She said that the father of the children had died, and there was nobody to support the family. Whatever little was in the house had been gradually used up and they were starving since the last three days.
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Umar asked the lady why she had not brought her distress to the notice of the Khalifah. The lady said that in spite of her poverty she had some sense of self-respect and she could not go and beg the Khalifah for any favor. She added that it was incumbent on the Khalifah to ascertain that there was no one in his charge who was starving.
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Umar said, ‘You are right. Please excuse me for the remissness in the past. For the future it will be my responsibility to see that your wants are satisfied.’
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And it was then that the lady realized that the man who had come to her relief was the Khalifah himself.

Umar on his Deathbed

Khalifah Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was stabbed by Abu Lu’lu’, a fire worshipper. The Khalifah, on his deathbed due to his severe wound, he admonished people around him in respect of the rights of non-Muslims in the following words, ‘Admonish whoever becomes Khalifah after me concerning the fair treatment of non-Muslims. He must fulfill his pledge of protection towards them, and should fight for their rights and should not take more work from them beyond their capacity.’

Summary

Rasulullah  particularly emphasized to be kind and compassionate to relatives. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: Rasulullah said, ‘It is not lawful for a Muslim to forsake his brother beyond three days; and whosoever does so for more than three days, and then dies, will certainly enter the Hell.’ [Abu Dawud]
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Rasulullah  said: ‘The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they break off the relationship.’ [Bukhari, 5645]

‘Does not enter Paradise he who breaks up his family ties.’ [Bukhari]

Kindness and compassion are really important in Islam. As the followers of the religion and the lovers of Rasulullah , it is our first and foremost duty to follow his teachings and to adopt his way of life so that we may be successful in this life and the hereafter.
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Rasulullah  was especially kind and compassionate to the children and considered them to be a gift from God. He would offer the first date of the season to the youngest child and would say that this would bring barakah to the dates. Rasulullah  used to carry Hasan and Hussain on his shoulders. While he was offering prayer and taking a bow Husain would come and climb up on his back and sit there. Rasulullah  would stay in that position till Husain would get off.
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Narrated Jarir bin ‘Abdullah: Allah’s Apostle  said, “Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind.” [Bukhari, vol 3, no 2275]
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Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As: The Prophet  said: “The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you”. [Abu Dawood, Vol 3, No 1533]
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We all need His mercy here and in the hereafter. O Allah, make us among those who follow Rasulullah  and his companions in being merciful, just, and compassionate, even to people who may not like or support us. Ameen.

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Disclaimer: I’m not a scholar, only a beginning student of knowledge. My articles are definitely not “scholarly writing.”  If you need a serious answer on Islamic ruling or fiqh, please ask it to a scholar, imam, or people with proper Islamic knowledge you can trust.
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Bio: S Kaisar Alam is the Chairman and the Chief Research Officer at Improlabs Pte Ltd, an upcoming tech startup in Singapore. He has been a visiting professor in the EEE Department at IUT, Gazipur, Bangladesh (since 2010) and a visiting research professor at CBIM, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey (since 2013).

Dr. Alam has been involved in biomedical research for over 26 years, with interests in diagnostic and therapeutic applications of ultrasound and optics and signal/image processing with applications to medical imaging. He has been most active in elasticity imaging and quantitative ultrasound, especially for breast cancer identification and prostate cancer detection. Dr. Alam has written over 40 papers in international journals and holds several patents. He is a Fellow of AIUM and a Senior Member of IEEE. Dr. Alam was a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award in 2011–2012.

ibanamedia@gmail.com

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