Umar set up very high standards of integrity for himself and his family members. He took particular care to see that such standards were followed strictly. Whenever Umar issued any instructions for the people to follow, he brought home to his family members that he expected them to conform to such instructions strictly.
He issued strict orders that no member of his family should accept any gift from any person. Hence Umar found a new carpet with his wife Atika. He wanted to know from where the carpet had come. She said that it had been presented by Abu Musa Ashari, the Governor of Basra. Umar had the carpet immediately returned to Abu Musa. Abu Musa was reprimanded in strong terms for sending a gift to the wife of the Caliph.
‘Abdullah the son of Umar purchased some camels. They were lean and were purchased cheaply. ‘Abdullah sent these camels to the state pasture where they fattened. These were then sold in the market and fetched a high price. When this was brought to the notice of Umar he ordered that as the camels had been fed at the state pasture whatever profit had accrued in the sale of the camels should be deposited in the state treasury.
Once Umar saw a small girl who was lean, thin, and emaciated. Umar enquired who the girl was. ‘Abdullah the son of Umar said that she was his daughter, and that she had lost weight because with the allowance that Umar allowed to his family nourishing food could not be provided. Umar said that he was giving them what he gave to other families and he could not give his family anything more than what he did to other familes.
Once ‘Abdullah and ‘Ubaidullah two sons of Umar went to Basra. There they obtained a loan from Abu Musa on the condition that the amount would be paid to the state treasury at Madina. With this amount they purchased some merchandise and sold it at Madina. They earned considerable profit which they kept for themselves and credited the principal amount in the state treasury. When Umar came to know of this transaction he wanted his sons to credit the entire profit to the state treasury as the money with which they had traded was state money. ‘Abdullah kept quiet but ‘Ubaidullah protested. He said that if there had been a loss the state would not have shared it. Umar stuck to his decision, but ‘Ubaidullah protested again. Some other companions intervened and it was decided that it should be treated as a case of partnership. Umar allowed his sons to retain one half of the profit and to deposit the other half in the state treasury.
Once Umar received a considerable quantity of musk. It had to be weighed and then distributed. Umar was in search of a person who could weigh musk with meticulous care. Atika the wife of Umar offered to do so as she was expert in the job. Umar did not accept the offer on the ground that when she weighed and distributed it some musk would be attached to her hands and clothes and that would be misappropriation in state property.
Once Umm Kulsum a wife of Umar purchased perfume for one dirham and sent it as a gift to the Byzantine empress. The Byzantine empress returned the empty phials of perfume filled with gems. When Umar came to know of this he sold the gems. Out of the sale proceeds he handed over one dirham to his wife and the rest was deposited in the state treasury.
Once some gifts were received in the Baitul Mal. Hafsa waited on Umar and wanted a share. Umar said:
“Dear, you have a share in my personal property, but I cannot give you a special share out of the property that belongs to the Muslims as a whole. You can get only what other Muslims get.”
His son-in-law once waited on him and wanted some assistance from the Baitul Mal. Umar paid him some money from his own pocket, and did not give him anything from the Baitul Mal.
Once after distribution a ladies scarf was found surplus. The custodian of the Baitul Mal suggested that this might be offered to Umm Kulsum the wife of Umar. Umar said:
“No. Present it to Umm Salit the lady who carried the water skin on her back on the day of the battle of Uhud to distribute water among the Muslim warriors.”
Once after accounting, one dirham was found surplus in the Baitul Mal. The treasurer gave the dirham to a small son of Umar. When Umar came to know of that he had the dirham returned immediately.
‘Abdullah a son of Umar fought in the battle of Jalaula. He got his share of the spoils and sold it on the spot. This fetched a high value. When Umar came to know of that he said that he was allowed the high price because people thought that he was the Caliph’s son. He ordered that the profit earned beyond the market value should be credited to the state treasury.
One of the sons of Umar drank wine inadvertently in Egypt. He submitted himself voluntarily to the punishment of 80 stripes at Egypt Umar was not satisfied. He called the boy to Madina and flogged him to death. When the boy was on death bed Umar said to him, “When you meet the Holy Prophet tell him tbat Umar is following hi’ injunctions strictly.”
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