When Islamic empire progressed, excelled
By: Abid Hussain Rather
Hazrat Umer Farooq (RA) was one of the close companions of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and second Khalifa after Hazrat Abu Bakar (RA). He reigned for ten long years and during his tenure the Islamic empire expanded up to twenty three lakh square miles. He had a great political vision and conquered the world’s largest powers of Rome and Iran without any bloodshed. His polity is an unbeatable and unique example for the world politicians and some very prominent writers have admired him for his political strategies. Important countries like Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, and Armenia were conquered during the reign of Hazrat Umer (RA). Jerusalem was also conquered for the first time during this period.
Besides conquering different countries and extending the then Islamic empire, Hazrat Umer (RA) set an exemplary administration with different departments to take care of different aspects of human affairs and to serve his people in best possible way. He appointed various supervisors to take care of various departments in his government and also used to ensure accountability of these supervisors personally. A brief introduction of the various cadres and departments during his governance indicates how wise and just he had been.
There was a totally unique system of Justice during the tenure of Hazrat Umer (RA) as the Khalifa of Muslim Ummah. Not even a single case of injustice was reported in such a large empire. Justice was not restricted to only Muslims but non Muslims were also treated equally and fairly. They were given their rights with justice and there was no difference in justice on the basis of religion. Rich and poor, known and unknown people were treated equally in his government. During his reign, many non Muslims converted to Islam because of the system of justice that was prevailing during his reign. Special courts of justice were established in various districts to deal with corrupt people. Hazrat Abu Huraira (RA) was appointed to check the accountability of shopkeepers and deal with people involved in various wrong acts or who would misuse government property. The punishment of expatriation was also introduced by Hazrat Umer (RA).
There was a strict system of accountability during this period under Hazrat Umer (RA) who used to ensure accountability personally and would not spare even his family members. There are reports in history narrating that he warned his son and daughter against misusing the government property. Every single person had the right to enquire about the government policies and complaint for wrong doers and dishonest officials. It was during this period census for the whole Arab was conducted in a phased manner and special incentives were allotted to disabled and widows. Tax system for foreign trade was created during this period also.
When the Islamic empire was sprawling its dimensions and became bigger and greater than Roman Empire by conquering the countries like Rome, Iran and Syria, establishment of military force was necessary to protect it from enemies. It was during this period, a military force established to protect the empire from enemies and special training was given to them. Military barks and cantonments were constructed at various important places like Kofa, Basra and Palestine etc. The people engaged in the service of empire were paid fairly and pension was given to their family members. Pension was allotted to the widows of martyrs in earlier wars. Hazrat Umer (RA) established an invariable and reputed police department in his reign who used to serve the common masses and maintain discipline. This department also took care of public properties and maintenance of peace. High officials were assigned the task of looking into different matters of common masses and stopping them from un-Islamic and immoral activities. Various jails were constructed and many large buildings were converted into jails for the punishment of the culprits. First of all the house of Safwan Ibn Ummaya in Mecca was purchased for four thousand Dirhams and was used as prison for culprits. Many prisons were also constructed in other cities of Mecca.
Many canals were constructed for irrigational purposes and a broad system of irrigation network was established during the reign of Hazrat Umer (RA). One lakh and twenty thousand workers were engaged in Egypt for canal construction during the reign of Hazrat Umer (RA) [Tareekh e Islam page 175]
Besides, there was no permanent system of government depositories before this period and Hazrat Umer (RA) extended the system of govt. depositories during his reign and govt. depositories were established in every city and every division for helping the poor and needy people. Huge buildings were constructed for depositories and honest people were given charge of these depositories. Hazrat Abdullah Bin Arkam (RA) was appointed as the first finance minister.
It was Hazrat Umer (RA) who established the system of teaching Quran in every conquered region and the people well versed in the knowledge of Quran were engaged in the duty of teaching Quran. Learning Quran was essential and mandatory during the period of Hazrat Umer (RA). Hazrat Abu Sufiyan (RA) along with other Sahabas were sent to tribal areas to test the Quranic knowledge of people and those who couldn’t read or memorize Quran were punished. Even a syllabus for teaching was framed for the madrassas.
Though there wasn’t any permanent department for this purpose during this period but roads, buildings, bridges, mosques, guest houses, cantonments were constructed in different regions under the guidance of government officials during the reign of Hazrat Umer (RA). Some canals like canal of AbiMosa were constructed to provide the drinking water for common masses. New colonies and new cities like Basra, Kofa, Mosal came into existence during the reign of Hazrat Umer (RA).
In short, the period of Hazrat Umer (RA) was that of progress and enlightenment during which Muslim Ummah was established in a practical form. Despite being the emperor of such a vast Islamic state, Hazrat Umer (RA) was a simple and God fearing person with high morale who always tried to make his lord happy and serve his people. He had the passion to serve mankind and always preferred equally. He always kept his doors open for the service of common masses. Further, Hazrat Umer (RA) always advised his governors and other ministers to be ready for the service of people.
(The author is a member of JKIFTS columnist’s council and can be reached at [email protected])