The Legacy of Umer Saani (RA)
Bashir Ahmad Dar
Islam has produced many great administrators and rulers whose reigns are known for the effective and just governance. Administrative models of Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar Bin Khatab (RA) are still admired and preferred by different nations to run their states. Today, I am going to unfold a golden era of a famous Islamic ruler who acquainted the world with one of the finest models of administration. The reforms brought about by this administrative genius were most annoying to the princely class of his times. And you know who consisted the princely class?
His own nears and dears. They wanted to get rid of him at any cost. They hatched a conspiracy against him. They hired his slave for the job. They bribed the slave to his satisfaction to poison him. The slave mixed the poison with the food and fed him. The next moment the victim was on the death bed.
Having learned about the conspiracy, he sent for the slave and asked him why had he poisoned him. The slave replied that he was given 1000 dinars for the job. The victim took the amount from him and deposited it in the Baitul Maal. This was his last deposit in this public treasury. And so generous was the victim that he pardoned the culprit and asked him to scurry off very fast, lest he might get caught and be killed.
By now, my readers, I presume, might have understood who I am talking about in the above lines. Yes, you have got it right. I am talking about Umer Bin Abdul Aziz, popularly known as first Mujadid of Islam. He was one of the finest rulers in Muslim history, next only to four rightly guided Khalifas–Abu Bakr (RA), Umer (RA), Uthman (RA) and Ali (RA). Umer bin Abdul Aziz is also called Umer Sani or Umer II.
He was born in 61AH. His father’s name was Abdul Aziz bin Marwan. He was the governor of Egypt at the time of Umer’s birth. His mother’s name was Umm-i- Aasim. She was the granddaughter of Umer-i-Farooq, the second Khalifa of caliphate -i- Rashidoon. The later was known for his Adul-O-Insaf (justice delivery) and the same was inherited by Umer bin Abdul Aziz from his great grandfather.
He received his basic education, (Umer II ) in Medina from Abdullah ibn Umer, a celebrated scholar of his times. Umer bin Abdul Aziz spent a considerable part of his youth in Medina in company of some great scholars. However, upon the death of his father in 705 AD, he was called by his uncle Abdul Malik to Damascus where he married him off to his daughter, Fatima.
In 706 AD, he was appointed as the governor of Medina and continued to be so, during the reigns of Khalifa Walid and Khalifa Suliman. However, when Suliaman fell hopelessly ill, he wanted to appoint someone from his family to the throne. But, since all his sons were minors, so he asked his advisor Reja bin Haiwah to suggest the name of someone from his relation to be the next Khalifa.
He proposes the name of Umer bin Abdul Aziz. Suliaman accepted the suggestion and thus Umer bin Abdul Aziz became eighth Khalifa from umayyad Dynasty. When Umer II was appointed as the Khalifa he got the people gathered and addressed them from the pulpit saying, “Oh my people, I have been appointed as your Khalifa, to the much of my dislike and unwillingness and without seeking your consent. So, here I free you all off the Bait that you have taken for my allegiance. You are free to choose whomsoever you like to be your Khalifa.” But, the people rejoiced in one voice, “We have full faith in you and want you as our Khalifa”.
So, with this address, he broke the back of kingship and revived the caliphate which was abolished decades back. With his appointment as the Amir ul Moomineen began the bright chapter of Muslim history. He ruled the caliphate for only 30 months but his period was the brightest period of 92 year long Umayyad caliphate. His period though brief was important like that of Abu Bakr Sideeq’s (RA) period.
After he assumed the charge, he freed his slaves, abandoned the royal palace and began to live in an ordinary house. He got most of his private property auctioned and the amount, thus got, he deposited it in Baitul Maal.
He even asked his faithful wife to deposit all her jewelry in Baitul Maal. She obeyed with all her heart. May Allah be pleased with her. Umer II was considerate to his people. He dedicated the Baitul maal to the people as it was during caliphate-i-Rashidoon. He granted pension to old and destitute. He ordered the taverns to close and ban on wine was strictly implemented.
Lactating mothers and infants were taken care of. He abolished certain taxes like marriage tax, thus, Nikkah became easy. He reduced the rates of certain taxes and abolished the Jaziya on newly converted Muslims. The wealth was distributed among the deserved without discrimination. People were happy under him and had so much of faith in him that they would willingly deposit their Zakat and Sadqa in Baitul Maal. So just was the wealth distribution that within one and a half year it was difficult to find someone who would receive Sadqa….SubhanAllah.
He built canals and roads throughout the land under his control. He build public inns at different places where healthy travellers were served for one day and ill travellers for two days. No payment was charged for it. But his outstanding contribution is the official collection of Hadith (sayings of Prophet PBUH).
He brought an overhaul of the administration by discharging all the corrupt and incompetent officials and appointed only right people who were competent with hands clean. He officially cancelled all previously granted biased privileges and advantage by his immediate predecessors. No special preference was given to his family members in the appointment process. He strictly prohibited officials to take advantage of public wealth and poor were given due attention.
(The author is a teacher by profession and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)