Once Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) was going on his usual round towards Harrah (a suburb of Madinah) with his slave Aslam, when he saw a distant fire in the desert. He said:
"There seems to be a camp. Perhaps, it is a caravan that could not enter the town due to night fall. Let's go and look after them and arrange for their protection during the night."
When he reached there, he found a woman and some children. The children were crying. The woman had a pan of water over the fire. Hadhrat 'Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) greeted her with salaam and, with her permission, went near her.
Umar: "Why are these children crying?" The Woman: "Because they are hungry." Umar: "What is in the pan?"
The Woman: "Only water to soothe the children, so that they may go to sleep in the belief that food is'being prepared for them. Ah! Allah will judge between Umar (Rad-hiyallaho anho) and me, on the Day of Judgement, for neglecting me in my distress."
'Umar (weeping): "May Allah have mercy on you! How
can Umar know of your distress?"
The Woman: "When he is our Amir, he must keep himself informed about us."
Hadhrat 'Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) returned to the town and straightway went to Baitul-Mal to fill a sack with flour, dates, fat and clothes, and also drew some money. When the sack was ready, he said to Aslam:
"Now put this sack on my back, Aslam."
Aslam: "No please, Amir-ul-Mo'mineen! I shall carry this sack."
'Umar refused to listen to Aslam, even on his persistent requests to allow him to carry the sack, and remarked:
"What! Will you carry my load on the Day of Judgement? I must carry this bag, for it is I who would be questioned (in the Hereafter) about this woman."
Aslam most reluctantly placed the bag on Umar's (Radhiyallaho anho) back, who carried it with a swift pace right to the woman's tent. Aslam followed at his heels. He put a little flour and some dates and fat in the pan and began to stir. He blew (with his mouth) into the fire to kindle it. Aslam says:
"I saw the smoke passing through his thick beard."
After some time, the pottage was ready. He himself served it to the family. When they had eaten to their fill, he made over to them the little that was left for their next meal. The children were very happy after their meal and began to play about merrily. The woman felt very grateful and remarked:
"May Allah reward you for your kindness ! In fact you deserve to take the place of Khalifah instead of 'Umar."
'Umar consoled her and said: "When you come to see the Khalifah, you will find me there."
He sat for a while at a place close by and kept on watching the children. He then returned to Madinah. On his way back, he said to Aslam:
"Do you know why I sat there, Aslam? I had seen them weeping in distress; I liked to see them laughing and happy for some time."
It is said that Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) while leading Fajr Salaat used to recite 'Kaht, *Taha' and other such Soorahs in his Salaat, and would weep so much that his crying could be heard way back to several rows. Once he was reciting Surah 'Yusuf in Fajr. When he came to the verse:
"I only plead for my distress and anguish unto Allah," (XII: 86)
he wept so much that he could not recite any further. In Tahajjud, he would sometimes fall to the ground and would get indisposed with excessive weeping.
Such was the fear of Allah in Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) whose name struck terror in the hearts of the mightiest monarchs of his time. Even today, the people are filled with awe when they read about him. Is there any person in power today who is prepared to show such kindness to the people in his charge?