Being Trustworthy In Performing Our Responsibilities – Lessons From The Story Of The Caliph Umar Abdul
Dear Friday Jemaah,
Let us strengthen our takwa towards Allah by heeding all of His commands and avoiding what Allah has prohibited upon us. Hopefully, our true obedience to Allah s.w.t will make us His servants who are promised success in this world and the hereafter.
Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. was sent by Allah s.w.t as a role model and an example to humanity. One of the values that Rasulullah s.a.w. has placed importance on was trustworthiness in carrying out the responsibilities one has been tasked with. Rasulullah s.a.w himself was known as Al-Amin by the people of Quraysh, even before they believed in him as a messenger of Allah. No one could deny his honesty. Allah s.w.t says in surah An-Nisa verse 58:
Which means: “Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.”
Allow me to share the story of a Muslim Caliph who is known for his trustworthiness, which will indeed be a good example for all of us. He is none other than the Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz.
Under his leadership, the policies of the Islamic government practiced by the first four Caliphs, or Khulafa’ Al-Rasyidin, were revived. Thus, he was often referred to as the Fifth Khalifah Al-Rasyidin. He was also the grandson of the second Caliph, Sayyidina ‘Umar Bin Al-Khattab r.a. He was known as a caliph who was pious, zuhud (ascetic), trustworthy and he led the ummah based on the principles of justice.
When we discuss about the trustworthiness of Khalifah Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, there are two aspects that can be observed from the history of his leadership.
First: The trustworthiness and honesty of a Muslim is seen everywhere and at all time. It does not matter whether he is in the presence of others or whether he is alone. Honesty will motivate a person to always be mindful of his actions and thoughts because Allah is All-Seeing and All-Knowing.
One of the stories narrated about Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, was a story of how he was strongly against using the lamp belonging to the government when he wanted to discuss a matter concerning his family with his son. He said: Remember my son, the lamp that I am using while I am working belongs to the government. The gas for the lamp was bought with the government’s funds, while the matter that you wish to discuss with me is a family matter." [Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah].
The second aspect: Trustworthiness will motivate a person to fulfil his obligations and duties to the best of his abilities. Khalifah Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was never careless and did not neglect to undertake the changes that he felt were needed for his community’s well-being.
This was despite the fact that several of the measures he undertook were seen as not benefiting the country in the short-run. Thus, several governors were initially against the measures that he implemented. However, the economic policy that was introduced by Khalifah Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz paid off for the country. According to historical records, such as Sirah Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, written by Ibn Abd al-Hakam, the economy improved vastly to the extent that there were no poor people who were eligible to receive zakat.
Khalifah Umar Abdul Aziz was known as a leader who was transparent in his administration and was always concerned about the affairs of his people. He often reminded himself that he would be held accountable by Allah s.w.t. for his leadership and the trust placed on him.
He was quoted as saying, “I realise that Allah the Almighty will ask me about all the affairs of my people, and Nabi Muhammad s.a.w will testify for them. I am afraid that I will have no defence in front of Allah, and do not get any defence from Nabi Muhammad s.a.w.” [Kitab Al-Kharaj, Imam Abu Yusuf]
This is in-line with the hadith of Rasulullah s.a.w. The Prophet once said: Each of you is a leader and each of you is questioned over his subjects, the Imam who is responsible over the people and he is questioned over his responsibility…” [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari]
My dear brothers,
Indeed we will all be held accountable to Allah s.w.t with regards to all the responsibilities that have been given to us. As the head of the family, one must ensure that the rights of his wife and children are fulfilled, and the children receive Islamic guidance.
At work, as an employee, we should fulfil our responsibilities and perform our duties, while striving to bring about improvements and positive changes at the workplace environment or within the community.
Thus, let us strive to be trustworthy in carrying out our responsibilities. May Allah s.w.t. protect us and guide us to be among His servants who fulfil our responsibilities with sincerity and honesty.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 7 March 2014 / 5 Jamadilawal 1435