Do you remember Sa'iid Ibn `Aamir ? That ascetic and steady worshiper who was forced by the Commander of the Faithful `Umar to accept the governorship of Syria?
We spoke about him in the first part of this book, and we saw the wonder of wonders while talking about his asceticism, his renouncement of all worldly pleasure, and his piety.
But now we will meet on these pages a brother of his, better to say a twin brother, an identical twin in terms of piety, asceticism, elevation and greatness of soul, which is actually incomparable.
It is `Umair Ibn Sa'd. He was called by the Muslims "The Matchless". What do you think about a man about whom there was a public consensus that he deserved that title, a consensus of the Prophet's Companions, with all the merit, enlightment, and intellect they possessed?
* * *
His father was Sa'd, the reciter (May Allah be pleased with him). He experienced the Battle of Badr with the Messenger of Allah and all the following events and stayed loyal to his oath till he passed away as a martyr in the Battle of Al-Qaadisiyah. 1
He brought his son with him to the Prophet (PBUH) to swear the oath of allegiance and to embrace Islam.
From the day `Umair embraced Islam, he turned into a worshiper dwelling at Allah's mihrab (prayer niche), escaping and running away from the lights of fame, withdrawing to the tranquility and calmness of shadow.
It is absolutely out of the question that you find him in the front rows, except the row of prayer he stations himself in the front row to be granted the reward of the highest in faith - and the rows of jihaad - he hastens to the front row, hoping to be one of the martyrs. Other than that, he is dedicated to attaining righteousness, piety, and virtue. He is a returner to Allah, weeping for his sins! He is a devotee to Allah, hoping to be accepted as a faithful returner to Him ! He is a traveler to Allah in all journeys and all instances.
* * *
Allah blessed him with his companions love for him. He was the delight of their eyes and the darling of their hearts. That was because of his strong, firm belief, his pure soul, his calm nature, the scent of his good qualities, and his beaming appearance. All that made him the joy and pleasure of all those who met or saw him.
No one and nothing whatsoever was superior to his religion. He once heard Julaas Ibn Suwaid Ibn As-saamit, one of his close relatives, saying, "If the man is truthful, then we've more evil than mules!" He meant by "the man" the Prophet (PBUH). Julaas was one of those who embraced Islam out of fear.
When `Umair heard that statement, his calm, quiet spirit burst into anger and confusion. Anger because one of those who pretended to be a Muslim had insulted the Prophet by this wicked language. Confusion because a lot of thoughts came quickly to his mind, all revolving around his responsibility towards what he had just heard and denied.
Should he communicate all that he had heard to the Prophet? How, and what about the trustworthiness of private meetings? Should he keep silent and leave what he had heard within his breast? How? And where was his loyalty to the Prophet (PBUH) who was sent by Allah to guide them after having lived astray and to illuminate them after having lived in darkness?
However, his confusion did not last long. The truthfulness to himself helped him to find a way out. `Umair immediately behaved like a strong man and a pious believer. He turned to Julaas Ibn Suwaid, "O Julaas, by Allah, you're one of the most beloved to myself and the last one I would like to see afflicted by something he dislikes. You've now said something that if I spread it around, it would harm you; if I keep silent, I would ruin my religion, and the fulfillment of duty towards religion has priority. So I'm going to inform the Messenger of Allah what you've said!"
Here `Umair pleased his pious conscience completely. First, he fulfilled the duty of preserving the trustworthiness of private talks and elevated his great noble soul away from the role of a slandering listener. Second, he fulfilled his duty towards his religion and shed light on a suspicious hypocrite. Third, he gave Julaas a chance to reconsider his fault and to ask Allah for forgiveness. if he had done that straightforwardly, then his conscience would have found peace, because it would not have been necessary any more to inform the Prophet (PBUH).
However, Julaas's pride made him hold to his falsehood. His lips did not spell out the word "sorry" nor any other apology. `Umair left him saying, "I will inform the Prophet (PBUH) before a revelation makes me a partner of your sin."
The Prophet (PBUH) sent for Julaas, who denied and moreover swore by Allah that he had not said that! However, a Qur'aanic verse demonstrated clearly the true and the false: "They swear by GOD that they said nothing, but they indeed uttered the word of unbelief, and disbelieved after they had become Muslims, and they intended a plot but could not accomplish what they intended and they only showed hostility towards Islam after GOD and His Messenger had enriched them out of His Bounty, so if they repent it will be better for them, so if they turn away, GOD will chastise them with a painful chastisement in this world and the Hereafter, and on earth there will be none to protect or help them" (9 : 74).
Julaas found himself forced to confess his fault and to apologize, especially when he heard the holy verse which accused him, promising him at the same moment Allah's mercy if he repented and refrained from that: "So if they repent it will be better for them".
`Umair's action was a blessing for Julaas. Thus Julaas repented and his Islamic conduct turned to be more righteous than before. The Prophet (PBUH) held his ear and praised him, "O my boy! Your ear was loyal and your Lord believed you."
* * *
I was delighted when I met `Umair for the first time four years ago while composing my book Between the Hands of `Umar. I was amazed. Nothing could amaze me so much as what happened between him and the Commander of the Faithful. I am going to narrate to you that event for you to enjoy with me "excellence" in its most precious and magnificent form.
* * *
You all know that the Commander of the Faithful, `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) chose his governors very cautiously as if choosing his destiny He always chose them from among the ascetic, pious, honest, and truthful: those who escaped from power and authority and would not accept it unless forced by the Commander of the Faithful to do so.
Despite his unerring insight and his overwhelming experience, he was very deliberate when choosing his governors and counselors, dealing scrupulously with his decision.
He never stopped his famous statement: "I need a man who, if among his clan would seem to be their prince while he isn't so in reality, and who, if among them would seem to be an ordinary one while being their prince in reality. I need a governor who won't favor himself above the other people in terms of clothing, food, or dwelling; who will lead them in their prayers, distribute their dues among them fairly, and rule them justly, never shutting his door leaving their needs and wishes unfulfilled.
According to these strict requisites he chose `Umair Ibn Sa'd to be a governor over Homs. `Umair tried to free himself of that task and to save himself, but the Commander of the Faithful obligated him and imposed it upon him forcefully. `Umair asked Allah for proper guidance. Then he went to carry out his duty and task.
In Homs, a whole year passed and no land tax reached Al Madiinah, nor did a single message reach the Commander of the Faithful. The Commander of the Faithful called his scribe, to whom he said, "Write to `Umair ordering him to come here."
Will you allow me to tell you about the meeting between `Umar and `Umair as it was related in my previous book Between the Hands of `Umar? 2
One day the roads of Al-Madiinah witnessed a dusty, shaggy man, covered by the hardship of travel and hardly pulling his feet out from the hot sandy ground due to his long suffering and the tremendous effort he spent. On his left shoulder there was a sack and a wooden bowl. On his right shoulder there was a small waterskin filled with water. He supported his thin, weak, tired body with a stick.
He turned to `Umar's assembly with very slow, heavy steps. "O Commander of the Faithful, peace be upon you.
`Umar replied. Deeply afflicted by the scene of his weakness and over exertion, he asked him, `What's wrong with you, `Umair?"
"Can't you see I'm healthy, possessing a pure conscience and possessing the whole world?"
`Umar asked, "What do you have with you?"
`Umair replied, "I've a sack in which I carry my food, a bowl in which I eat, my utensils for my ablution and drink, and a stick to lean on and fight an enemy if he crosses my way. By Allah, the whole world is an obedient slave of my belongings."
"Did you come walking on foot?" "Yes."
"Didn't you find anyone who would give you an animal to ride on?"
"They didn't offer and I didn't ask them."
"What did you do with what we charged you with?"
"I went to the country to which you sent me. There I gathered all its virtuous inhabitants and made them in charge of levying the taxes, so when they did that I put the money there where it belongs. If anything had remained I would have sent it to you."
"Didn't you bring us anything?"
Hereby `Umar shouted, amazed and happy, `Reappoint `Umair." But `Umair replied with complete composure, "Those were old days. I won't work for you or for anyone else!"
This scene is not a written drama nor an invented conversation. It is a historical event 3 witnessed by the soil of Al Madiinah, the old capital of Islam during great unforgotten days. What kind of men were those unparalleled, elevated ones!
Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) was always wishing How much do I wish to have men like `Umair to assist me in ruling the Muslims!
That was because `Umair, who had been fairly described by his companions as being "The Matchless", could prove superiority over all human weakness caused by our material existence and our thorny life.
When this great saint was destined to face the test of power and authority, his piety was not afflicted. It rather became more elevated, raised beaming and bright.
When he was Governor of Homs, he drew a dear picture of the tasks of a Muslim ruler. How often did his words from the pulpit shake the multitude of Muslims: "Islam is a well-fortified wall and a firm gate. As for the wall, that's justice; and the gate is truth. If the wall is torn down and the gate destroyed, then Islam loses its protective strength. Islam remains well-fortified as long as its reign is mighty. The might of its reign cannot be realized by killing with swords or by slashing with whips; rather by the fulfillment of truth and justice!"
Now we greet `Umair for the last time, greeting him with humility and respect! Let us bow our heads for the best tutor, Muhmmad, the Imam of all the pious, Muhammad, Allah's mercy sent to the people in the midst of the heat and drought of life.