By Dr Mustafa Siba'i

Once a caravan came to Madinah. It had women and children too with it. Hadhrat Umar bin Khattaab (Radhi Allaho anho) said to Hadhrat Abdul Rahman bin `Auf (Radhi Allaho anho), "Can you stand guard on them tonight?" So Hadhrat Umar, the second caliph, and he, kept awake that night together and kept vigil over the caravan. During that nightly vigil, both of them offered Tahajjud (late night) prayer as well.

Hadhrat Umar on hearing a baby's cry and approaching, said to the mother, "Fear Allah and do look after your child carefully." Saying this he came back to his own position. Once again he heard her crying, and going over to her mother once again gave her the same advice.

When during the last part of the night the child cried once again, Hadhrat Umar came to its mother and said, "Woe to you! You appear not to be a good mother. How is it that your child could not sleep peacefully during the night." The woman little suspecting that she was speaking to the Amir of the believers, said in reply, "May Allah bless you, O man, you have pestered me several times during the night. I want to wean it forcefully (before time), but the child is intractable."

He asked her, "And pray, why wean it forcefully?" She said in reply, "Because Umar grants allowance only for such children that have been weaned." Hadhrat Umar asked her, "How old is your child?" She told him it was only a few months old. Hadhrat Umar asked the woman not to be hasty in weaning her child.

Then he led the Morning Prayer in such a state that his weeping made the recital of the Holy Qur'aan inaudible and unintelligible. At the end of the prayer, he said, "Umar is ruined. He killed the children of the believers!"

At this, he ordered the crier to proclaim in the town of Madinah that the mothers should not wean their children only for the sake of allowance for the suckling. From now on, every child, suckling or weaned, shall receive a stipend. And it was also proclaimed throughout the length and the breadth of the Islamic state. Unparalleled in the entire history of mankind.

By Allah! The entire history of mankind is unable to produce such a brilliant and glorious incident. None among the civilizations of the world can present any personage like him. He kept awake the whole night, keeping guard over the caravan and the caravan slept in peace.

And we should keep in mind that he was the head of the Islamic state, and wielded great authority and power that had conquered the then mighty empires of Rome and Persia. And in spite of all that, he did what a petty guard detailed to patrol the vicinity of a caravan in its sojourn would not do.