Hasb-e-Haal: Muslim Character

By Saad Jameel

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“Jerusalem holds a sacred importance for Christians, Muslims and Jews. It has seen its spates of rule from all three different communities. But an important feat came when Muslims conquered Jerusalem for the first time. When Muslim army leader, Abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah had encircled Jersualem, Jewish Rabbi Sofranius came out. The Rabbi mentioned, “I will hand over the keys to the city to your Khalifa, not you.”

Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah had no choice but to accept.

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But then the letter outlining this demand got to the Khalifa of that time, Umar ibn-Al-Khattab. Then he was summoned to give the keys to Jerusalem while Al-Khattab made his way to that city. The people of Jerusalem then stepped out of their houses to see the Khalifa entering their city on a camel. There was another person with him walking side by side on the camel by foot. They thought that he was a tourist.

Abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah recognized his Khalifa and saw him coming. The pubic was a bit astonished to see that their Khalifa arrived on a camel. They found it odd that he wasn’t accompanied by a huge army with pomp and circumstance but merely a camel. Then he said, “The guy on the camel isn’t the Khalifa but the person walking alongside the camel is my Khalifa.”

This only increased the people’s bewilderment. No one could fathom the fact that the head of a big caliphate was walking alongside his subordinate Abbas who was on a camel. They would switch positions as sometimes Umar would be on the camel and Abbas on foot and vice-versa. When Sofranius saw this, he asked his General Hormozan “Is it possible to defeat people endow with such character?” Abu Ubaidah went crying to Umar ibn Al-Khattab while letting him know that he left quite the precedent with this act.

Then Hazrat Umar tapped Abu Ubaidah on the chest and then said “This is by the grace of God and not of any special ability of mine.” This affected Abu Ubaidah even more. Friends, the role models that we have in front of us, are any of them Muslims?  Today if the Muslim opens his/her eyes looking for people to emulate, s/he sees Steve Jobs, Bill Gates Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Everyone tries to achieve the same success they did.

Do we no longer have any Muslim role-models? The stories of Hazrat Umar, Hazrat Ali, Prophet Mohammed are heard in Jumma prayers only to be forgotten later. Today we have a dearth of role-models. We have a lot of people who pray, go to Hajj, and is well-employed but do we possess the same character that Hazrat Umar and Prophet Mohammed? Today the need of the hour is to rediscover this. Allama Iqbal says in his verses “Ragon mein woh khoon baaqi nahin hai, namaaz, roza, qurbaani, aur Hajj sab kuch baaqi hai liken tu baaqi nahin hai (That blood of pristine vigour is no more; That yearning heart’s power is no more; prayer, fasting, hajj, sacrifice survive, But in thee, nature’s old dower is no more.”


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Daneesh Majid

Daneesh Majid is a writer with a Masters degree in South Asian Studies from SOAS, University of London. A former Sub-editor at Siasat.com, he also enjoys reading and writing about Urdu poetry/literature.
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