Monday, 21 November 2011

Omar and the Egyptian: Unparalleled Justice

   A man from the Copts(1) came to Omar ibn al-Khattab(2) in Al-Madinah(3), and said, “O Commander of the Faithful! I seek refuge in you from oppression.” Omar replied, “You have sought refuge where it is to be sought.” The Egyptian said, “I was racing the son of `Amr ibn al-`Aas(4), and defeated him. Then he began to beat me with a whip saying: I am the Son of Nobles!”
So Omar wrote to `Amr commanding him to appear before him with his son. So they appeared before him. Omar inquired, “Where is the Egyptian? He is to take the whip and beat him!” Then the Egyptian began to beat the son of `Amr with the whip as `Umar said to him, “Beat the Son of Nobles!”

Anas said, “So he beat him. I swear by Allah, as he was beating him we pitied his wailing. He did not desist until we stopped him.”

Then Omar said to the Egyptian, “Now beat the whip upon `Amr’s bald head!” He replied, “O Commander of the Faithful! For it was his son who beat me, and I have evened the score with him.”

Upon this Omar said to `Amr, “Since when do you enslave the people when their mothers bore them as free men?” He said, “O Commander of the Faithful! I was unaware of this, and he did not come to me (for justice).”

Reference: Seerah Omar ibn al-Khattab, Ibn Abdi-l Hakam; Kanzu-l `Ummaal, al-Hindi; Rabee`u-l Abraar, al-Zamakhshari
Translated by: Shibli Zaman

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