Islam and drinking to how to treat

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Islam was a
religion revealed to Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) approximately 1400 years ago and
compared to other religions, it’s a fairly young religion that has had its own
share of ups and downs, and if you ask me, there have been more downs than ups.
Obviously the highest point in Islam was when Arabia was blessed with the
presence of the Holy Prophet(pbuh) as a mercy from God, preaching and
completing Islam as a manual of life; from eating and drinking to how to treat
kin and kith, women, neighbors and slaves. However, during his lifetime, it was
a struggle, for himself, his family and all Muslims that were coming into the
fold of Islam. Muslims have never suffered persecution, starvation and
deprivation ever like they did during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh).
This raises the question, did Islam ever experience a Golden Era for its
religion and its people and if there was such a time in history, who was
responsible for it and what made it so golden? Islam is a constant growing
religion from the day of its birth till the time of this writing and still
going, as it is the fastest growing religion and has the most converts from its
birth to present day, but that doesn’t make it the golden times. What
distinguishes  the golden age of Islam is
when Muslims are united as a single nation under a caliphate, there is
accountability of faith and humanity, prosperity of its people is at the
highest levels, economic
development and cultural works are flourishing and tyranny , hypocrisy and
divided sects are non-existent.  There is
only one point in time in Islamic history when all of that was sustained at the
same time, and that was under the rule of the second caliph, Hazrat Umar ibn
Al-Khattaab (r.a).

During the
pre-Islamic age, Mecca was the capital of Arabia, formed of different tribes
with varying social and capital authority. Hazrat Umar(r.a) was from  a high-standing  lineage of the Quraish, the dominant power in
Mecca. He was a very handsome man with a massive physique. He was extremely
tall, when he walked he walked fast, his voice was loud and clear where
everybody around him could hear when he spoke. He was a strong man with a
rooted personality and he was to be feared.  He was a successful businessman and one of the
wealthiest of the Quraishee tribesmen. As Islam started gaining followers, Hazrat
Umar(r.a) was one of the most bitterest 
enemies of Islam and Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) during the early days. As
Muslims were alienated in their homeland and scared for their lives, Prophet
Muhammad(pbuh) supplicated to God , “O Allah, honor and strengthen Islam with
the more beloved of these two men to You: Abu Jahl or Umar ibn
Al-Khattaab”(As-Sallaabee). A few days later, Hazrat Umar(r.a) announced his
entry into the fold of Islam.  That day
was a historic day because it strengthened the Muslims and was a huge moral
boost for them. His fierce personality made him eager for the Muslims to openly
proclaim their faith and they finally came out of hiding letting their voices
be heard. That was the status  and
character of Hazrat Umar(r.a).

After the passing
of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), Islam was facing a great dilemma and without an
appointed leader, the religion was in a major crisis. Muslims started to revert
to their old religion thinking Islam had also died along with the
Prophet(pbuh). Different sects were being formed, where some refused to pay
Zakaat, one of the five pillars of Islam which is a form of tax on those with
disposable income for the poor and needy. Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a), childhood
friend, loyal from day one  and a
father-in-law of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), was appointed as the first Caliph. He
was tasked with the hardest job of a leader in Islam after the Prophet(pbuh),
as he had to continue to keep Islam firm after the worst calamity the religion
has ever faced which was the death of the Prophet(pbuh). He was the caliph for
only two years, but the job he did paved the way for the Golden Era. Islam had
once again repaired its stamp in Arabia and the people who reverted were
brought back in the fold. Islam was ready for expansion and nobody could have
carried that weight on their shoulders better than Hazrat Umar(r.a).On his
deathbed, Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a)  appointed
Hazrat Umar(r.a) as the second Caliph of the Muslim Nation. The Prophet(pbuh)
once said , ” in a dream, I saw myself removing water from an old well with a
bakrah bucket(a bucket used to give drink to a young camel). Then Abu Bakr came
and drew out one or two large buckets, and he did so in a weak manner –and may
Allah forgive him. Then Umar came and the bucket transformed in size, becoming
very large indeed. I never saw a strong leader work with such skill and
strength  and he continued to work in
that manner until, not only his people quench their thirst, but their riding
animals did so as well” This dream is referring to the short duration of Hazrat
Abu Bakr’s(r.a) caliphate where his accomplishment were limited due to fighting
the apostates. ‘ Bucket transformed in size’ is being referred to the religion
of Islam multiplying during the time of Hazrat Umar(r.a) and his work as a
leader that brought wealth and prosperity to the Muslim nation. This proves
that Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a) and Umar(r.a)as the right and left hand of the
Prophet(pbuh) were the rightful candidates to the caliphate as a result of the
time and dedication they spent in the company of the Prophet(pbuh) being taught
Islamic Monotheism  from the beginning
until it became complete and perfect just prior to his(pbuh) passing.

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In his inaugural
speech, Hazrat Umar(r.a) spoke about sound governance, foreign policy issues
and domestic policy issues and saw no reason to differentiate between issues
that pertain to worship and issues that pertain to governing the Muslim Nation
and made it clear that the teachings of Islam embrace all aspects of people’s
lives. People were afraid at the time of having Hazrat Umar(r.a) as a leader
because of his strictness and harshness and he realized that as a leader he had
to shed those characteristics about him as it could alienate the general
population. In his speech he mentioned “and know that my harshness has lessened
in intensity; nonetheless, I will continue to be harsh against people who do
wrong and who do acts of transgression. If anyone wrongs another person or
commits a hostile act against him, I will place that wrongdoer’s cheek on the
ground, and I will place my foot on top of his other cheek until he submits to
the truth. But after showing harshness in that situation, I will place my cheek
on the ground for people who are chaste and peaceful. O people I promise to
adhere to a number of qualities for which you must hold me accountable.” Hazrat
Umar(r.a) looked upon the caliphate as a test and a position he would be held
accountable on the Day of Judgment. His position of leadership meant
responsibility, duty and hard work and not status, power and fame.  One of the first steps he took to bring
accountability was that Hazrat Umar(r.a) forbade his family members from using
their relationship with him to make a profit or get a judgement in their
favour. He was determined to be fair and just and vowed to treat everybody
equal regardless if they were related to him or not. One of the reasons Hazrat
Umar’s(r.a) reign is known as the golden era was because he followed the rule
of Islam  giving freedom to believe in
any religion. Hazrat Umar(r.a) did not forcefully convert the non-Muslims to
Islam, but instead he respected their beliefs and allowed them to be a part of
their land. He allowed Christians and Jews to share the land and signed a treaty
that they would defend their land with the Muslims incase of an attack. They
were also known as the Dhimies because they were obliged to pay the jizyah tax
and would be included in the Muslim community and were given protection under
the Muslim Lands. This really earned him everyone’s respect as a leader and it
carried the momentum for him to lead his religion and the people to greatness.

One of the
greatest accomplishments of Hazrat Umar(r.a) was the dating of the Muslim
calendar because it was a key advancement for the Muslim civilization. It gave
the Muslims a unique stamp that distinguished it from other nations.  Every nation or religion started their
calendar based on some important event that defines its people. He was given a suggestion
to start the calendar from the birth of the Prophet(pbuh) like the Christians
start their calendar from the birth of Jesus(pbuh), but he was quick to dismiss
the idea because he figured some would question the exact date of the birth of
the Prophet(pbuh).  After consultations
from his companions(r.a), he settled on to start the Muslim Calendar from the
date of migration(Hijra) from Mecca to Medina, hence the Muslims use the Hijri
Calendar.  This  became a source of pride for the Muslims, and
reminded them their capabilities of overcoming the struggle.  Hazrat umar(r.a) gave the Muslims something to
further promote unity, a bond of brotherhood that did not take factors such as
skin color, race or lineage, but a bond that took only faith into consideration
and now were able to unite under the same calendar. It gave a sense of growth
among the Muslims as a Nation and it initiated steps to reach new heights and
cross new barriers.

The marketplace is
a source of great benefit to every country. Its where sellers come to offer
their goods and  buyers purchase their
basic necessities. If left unsupervised it can become a place of evil where
people cheat each other and the rich wrongfully take advantage of the poor.
Hazrat Umar(r.a) understood the importance of a fair marketplace and what
effects it could have on the economy.  To
ensure fairness and righteousness, Hazrat Umar(r.a) would personally patrol the
marketplace, forcing buyers and sellers to conduct their business in accordance
with the teachings of Islam. When he became too busy to personally patrol, he
appointed two individuals to mind the marketplace. The appointees became a
branch of government that came to be known as Nidham Al-Hisbah.  Hazrat Umar(r.a) took important steps to
ensure that business was conducted in a manner that benefitted the consumers.
The marketplace remained stable, where prices did not fluctuate. There was no
form of cheating in the marketplace and no individual or a group of people
formed a monopoly where practicing price fixing was non existent. There was no
black market. He also introduced a system of licensing  where in order to gain a trading license, one
would have to study the rules, norms and regulations that pertain to ones trade
and profession. Every advanced country has some form of system that ensures the
smooth running of markets and almost every city has a Chamber of Commerce, and
these very institutions found in advanced countries today, Hazrat Umar(r.a)
established them about fourteen centuries ago.

Another one of
great accomplishments of Hazrat Umar(r.a) was the making of a police force. In
the early days of Islam, Muslims did not really need a police force, they had
what in modern times we call a neighborhood watch program where everyone looked
out for one another. Hazrat Umar(r.a) would himself patrol the streets at night
along with his freed slave. This is the leader of his people who would
sacrifice his own sleep to ensure security of his people. I do not know of any
king who ever did this instead of sleeping comfortably in their palaces and
speaks volume of the modesty and humbleness of Hazrat Umar(r.a) as a leader.
However, as the size of the population grew, crime rate also increased which
led to the need for patrolling the areas. Hazrat Umar(r.a) was quick to establish
a force that patrolled the streets at night while people slept and to mind the
marketplace. He also built a task force that would employ spies for Hazrat
Umar(r.a) to keep a firm rule over his people. His vision of securing the small
details around him enabled him to pursue painting a bigger picture for the
Muslim Nation and success soon followed.

Golden times were
present and Hazrat Umar(r.a) had set himself up to start to expand the religion
of Islam. With the death of the Prophet(pbuh) and his companions getting old,
Hazrat Umar(r.a) realized that the true teachings of Islam needed to be
protected from misinterpretations and newly invented ideas.  As Muslim territory started to expand, many
cities and provinces became a part of the Muslim Nation. While Makkah was
obviously regarded as the holiest of all cities, Madeenah was regarded as the
most prestigious city. Madeenah was the home of the Prophet(pbuh), it was the
city where Islam thrived, where the Caliph resided and from where Muslim armies
marched  to conquer foreign lands. It was
without a doubt the capital and center of Islamic civilization. During his
rule, Hazrat Umar(r.a) further elevated the status of Madeenah, making it a
center of higher learning for the sciences of Hadeeth and Fiqh. Hadeeth and Fiq
are the sayings and actions of the Prophet(pbuh). They are second to the Quran
in Islamic Laws. It was the first time in history that Islam had its own
institution of learning. Hazrat Umar(r.a) went onto to establish ‘The Makkah
School’ in Makkah, ‘The Basrah School’ in Basrah, ‘ The Kufa School’ in Kufa,
‘The Ash-Sham School’ in Ash-Sham(Syria) and ‘ The Egypt School’ in Egypt.  With the conquering of new lands and addition
of foreign people into the fold of Islam, there was a great need to teach those
people their religious duties and Islamic legal ruling, and Hazrat Umar(r.a) understood
the importance of that need and answered it with opening of new schools and

Hazrat Umar(r.a) was also responsible for the new infrastructure of roads and
public transportation for the Muslims. To fulfill the needs of a growing
population,  Hazrat Umar(r.a) expanded
the Holy mosque in Makkah and the Prophets(pbuh) mosque in Madeenah. He made
travel throughout the Arabian peninsula possible for poorer Muslims who did not
own horses or camels. He set aside a portion of the public funds from the Muslim
treasury to purchase a number of camels which were borrowed by those who needed
them to travel. At various points between villages and urban cities, he establish
‘flour houses’ where food was stored and were used as guest houses for those
travelling. Nothing of this nature was ever present before for the Muslims, and
this truly was a luxury the Muslims enjoyed. For a nation to achieve its
economic and military goals, its cities must be connected by well maintained
roads and  Hazrat Umar(r.a) achieved that
at the highest levels.

Finally, Hazrat
Umar’s(r.a) caliphate was marked as the golden era of Islam because of the
economic and military success.   His was
an era of great military conquests, where he took down two of the largest
empires in the world, the Roman and the Persian Empire. “‘ It was during his
time that the conquest of Syria was completed; as was that of Egypt to it’s
farthest reaches, as well as the province of Persia. He destroyed Kisraa
(Chosroes) and humiliated him to the utmost, forcing him to retreat back to the
farthest reaches of his kingdom.  Similarly, ‘Umar destroyed Qaysar
(Caesar), wrestling from his hands the lands of Syria and bottling him up in
Constantinople.  He spent the wealth (conquered from them) in the
path of Allaah – as the Messenger of Allaah had informed and promised..”(
umaribnalkhattab. This will always be the greatest achievement of
Hazrat Umar(r.a) and it really solidified him as the greatest Caliph the Muslim
Nation ever had. He also went on to take back Jerusalem for the Muslim Nation
and was actually present to enter Jerusalem when it fell to the Muslims. It was
a great victory for the Muslims and it cemented Hazrat Umar(r.a) legacy as the
greatest Caliph of the Muslim Nation.  What
started off as a religion with a few hundred followers abandoned in the dessert
, Hazrat Umar(r.a) turned it into one of the most powerful Nations on earth and
the world took notice, gaining respect and becoming a formidable opponent to
any power that would dare to invade the Muslim lands.

There is no doubt
in my mind that the caliphate of Hazrat Umar(r.a)  gave the Muslim Nation a bright future, where
without his accomplishments, Islam could have been wiped out by a foreign
empire down the road. Hazrat Umar(r.a) passed away after ten years being a
caliph and the effects of his death were strongly felt by Islam and its people.
After his passing, the hypocrites got a window of opportunity to finally
execute their agenda and tyranny followed. The unity started to fade away and
Muslims started dividing into different sects. Hazrat Uthman(r.a) was chosen as
the rightly guided third Caliph and his time was nothing but full of controversies
and tyranny. There were a lot of people at the time of the death of the Prophet
(pbuh) who believed that the Prophet’s(pbuh) cousin and son-in-law Hazrat
Ali(r.a) should have been the first Caliph. The controversy did not live out
loud because of the strong leadership of Hazrat Abu Bakr(r.a) and Hazrat
Umar(r.a) and the support they received from Hazrat Ali(r.a) himself. However,
after the passing of Hazrat Umar(r.a) and Hazrat Ali(r.a) being passed over for
the third time, A sect called the Shiite was starting to form. They are the
followers of Hazrat Ali(r.a) and have secluded themselves to believe in Hazrat
Abu Bakr(r.a) and Hazrat Umar(r.a). The sect formed of the original Muslims is
called the Sunni which is derived from the word ‘Sunnat’ , which means ‘the way
of the prophet(pbuh)’. They follow the exact words and actions of the
Prophet(pbuh) which is the Sunni way. Shiites have formed newly invented ideas
and rules, such as praying 3 times instead of 5 and there have been conflicts
between Shiites and Sunnis that have started from the time the rule of Hazrat
Umar(r.a) ended to present day. 

To conclude,  there is no doubt in my mind that the period
during which Hazrat Umar(r.a) was the Caliph was the ultimate Golden era of
Islam. His accomplishments paved the way for the Muslims to flourish in to the
future and grow exponentially. It was his leadership skills that earned him the
title ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen’ which means Leader of the Believers. What made Hazrat
Umar(r.a) so respectful among his people was his modesty and down to earth
personality. This was a man who could have built himself palaces and kingdoms
and eat from cutlery made of gold, but instead he chose to treat himself as if
he were the poorest of his people. ” Anas ibn Malik(r.a) related that he once
saw ‘Umar(r.a) walking in the marketplace while wearing a lower garment that
contained 14 patches and Anas(r.a) recounted Umar(r.a) was not wearing either a
shirt or a robe but he was carrying a stick in his hand.”(As-Salaabee). Here
was a leader of a great Nation patrolling the market in simple ,old and torn
clothes in order to make sure the weak and poor consumers were not taken
advantage of. It was actions like these that earned him the loyalty of his
people that would go through a brick wall for him. His actions brought unity
among Muslims that has never been experienced before. During his administration,
it is well known that even a stray dog wasn’t left to survive hunger, because Hazrat
Umar(r.a) believed that he would have to answer for every little situation and
he would be held accountable for them. All in all, Hazrat Umar(r.a) managed to
find economic success, great military conquests, unity among his people and brought
in systems to build a structure of government that would define the Muslims as
a single Nation and that is what made his time the Golden times of Islam. To
end I would like to leave you with one of the sayings of the Prophet(pbuh) to
give you an idea of what is the status of Hazrat Umar(r.a) in Islam: “If there
were to be a Prophet after me then he would be Umar ibn Al-Khattab.”Hazrat Umar(r.a)



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