When Suleiman Ibn Marwan was on his death-bed, the thought of Allah and the Day of Judgement made him very restless and afraid, because lots of injustice had been meted out during his Caliphate. So he consulted a pious man as to how this could be remedied. The pious man advised him to hand-over his Caliphate to Umar Ibn Abd-Al Aziz, the most noblest of men, after his death. So the Caliph wrote his will on a piece of paper and kept it in a sealed box. He made an announcement among his relatives and courtiers that, after his death they should open the box and accept as Caliph, whose name he had written in the paper.
But when Umar Ibn Abd-Al Aziz heard this, he requested them to remove his name from the box, because he feared the intensity of the responsibility of a Caliph. But nothing could be done now, as it was the command of the Caliph. After Suleiman’s death, when the box was opened they found the name of Umar Ibn Abd-Al Aziz as was decreed, and he was made the Caliph accordingly. The new Caliph almost fainted with the enormity of the burden he had to bear, fearing that he might not be able to render justice equally, and rule in a fair and just manner.
He came to his wife Fatima(who came from a royal family) and asked her to hand over all her jewelry to the Baitul-Mal ( Public Treasury). He also told her that they would not be living a life of ease and luxury, and she was free to leave, if she so desired. But if she wants to help him in administering a truthful and just rule over the people whom The Almighty had given them responsibility, he would want nothing more than that. She chose to stay with her husband, and gave up all her jewelry, except for a precious stone which her father had given her. But Umar told her to give everything up, so she had to relent.
Umar worked very hard during the period of his rule. He was selfless and thought of how he could improve the condition of his people, eliminate their problems and give them justice. He sent his men to every part of the country to see the real condition of his people, encouraged the common-man to come to him with their problems, helped the poor and the orphans and kept his doors open for everyone, be it night or day. There were times he would cry, thinking that he had not been able to rule justly.
‘Umar bin-‘Abd-al-‘Aziz also asked his people to bring to his attention, the case of those who are unable to express their needs, to help him in administering a just rule, to guide him when he goes wrong, not to give in to gossip, and to refrain from interfering in the affairs of others so as to maintain peace. He always welcomed suggestions concerning the welfare of the people and was ever ready to hear their cause. Such was the character of ‘Umar bin-‘Abd-al-‘Aziz, a man not intoxicated by his succession to the Caliphate, nor dazzled by its pomp but worked hard to fulfill other people’s happiness, that he had no time to consider for his own needs.
The first thing the Caliph did, on his accession to the Caliphate, was to return all the lands and properties the previous Caliph had taken, to its rightful owners. Then he repaid all the previous debts the previous Caliphate incurred. He checked all the accounts to see whether all the dues had been cleared, and made sure that justice was given, to those denied earlier, rights accorded to those who were trodden. History bears witness to the fact that, within two months of his rule, he cleared 50,000 cases of injustice, and gave them justice. One day, a poor woman went to visit the Caliph’s wife Fatima. At the gate, she met a lady crushing wheat so she asked her; “ where is the lady Fatima?” At this the lady at the gate replied, “ I am Fatima the wife of the Caliph.” The old woman in surprise, asked, “Are you really the lady Fatima? Why are you in this condition? The whole kingdom is living in luxury, and you, the Holy Caliph’s wife lives in this condition?” Fatima replied, “If we lead a luxurious life, the entire kingdom would suffer. So we have sacrificed our luxury for the sake of the people.” Then the old woman saw a man working on the walls of the palace. She also noticed that the man kept on looking in their direction. So she said,” Please replace that man, as he is always looking in your direction.” At this Fatima replied, “He is my husband, the Caliph!” Just before the Caliph’s death, a man came up to him and said,” You have done injustice to your children. Inspite of being a king, you have left them nothing. They would be like beggars.” Hazrat Umar replied, “ I cannot give someone else’s rights to my sons, nor would I give them what is not mine. If they obey Allah, and are truthful in their dealings, He will bless them. But if they chose otherwise, then it is upto them.” It is said that he left only a few dirhams for each of his sons.
After his death, Fatima’s brothers came to her and said that the Caliph must have left a fortune for them. But Fatima replied,: O my brothers, he has not left anything for you all. Ever since he became a Caliph, he would spend most of his days and nights in prayers, and would cry saying,” O Allah, please forgive me if I have not been able to fulfill my duties properly. Have mercy on me on the Day of Judgement, when I will be held responsible for the entire Muslim community!”
On many occasions Fatima used to ask her husband,” O commander of the faithful, why are you weeping?” And he used to reply,” O Fatima, I have been vested with authority over the Muslim community, and it is a heavy responsibility. There are thousands of people who are starving, destitute, naked, in distress, and oppressed in every nook and corner of the kingdom. I am responsible for them all. If I am not able to help them all, what will
I answer to The Almighty on the Day of Judgement? This is the reason why I weep, and ask mercy from The Almighty.” History tells us that the sons of Umar became religious like their father, and Allah blessed them with wealth and happiness. They helped people and spent their wealth for the cause of the poor . Whereas the sons of Suleiman became beggars, and used to beg infront of their father’s Mosque saying, “
O people, it is my father who had constructed this Mosque for the cause of Allah. Give us some money!”
‘Umar when alive, was determined to attend to the needs and petitions of his people. He wanted to fulfill his duties as a good and just king. He used to get very worried most of the time. Once, his Deputy asked him, “ Why are you always worried?” He replied, “ Why should I not be worried, when I am responsible for the needs and problems of everyone in the kingdom? What will I answer to The Almighty on that Day, if I am not able to give everyone his due?”
Such was his sense of accountability and his determination to act justly towards all his subjects in every respect. He would also never pass Judgment without the advice of his subjects and his learned associates. It is said that when he succeeded to the Caliphate, he called upon Muhammad, Rajah and Salim who were learned advisors saying: “I am faced with the burden of responsibility, please give me advice.”