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Books Section > The Golden Deeds of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Yakub Khan > A Ruler is the Servant of the People


A Ruler is the Servant of the People:
by Muhammad Yakub Khan
Taken from: The Golden Deeds of Islam


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It was a summer night. A refreshing breeze was gently playing about and pretty little stars were twinkling above. And when, after a restless day of excessive heat, man and bird and beast were all taking sweet rest, one lonely figure could be seen moving about the streets of the town of Madinah. This was the man the Muslims had elected to be their king.

In Islam, a leader of people is supposed to be the servant of the people, and as was usual, this king of Islam was out that night to ascertain for himself the welfare of his people. When at the outskirts of the town with the star-bedecked firmament above him, his thoughts went up to the great God Who had made these. Thus musing upon God’s greatness and beauty, he went on till he was quite a long way from the town. All of a sudden, in the dark of night, his eyes fell on a flame of fire at a distance. Spurred on by curiosity, he approached the light and after a while there loomed out what appeared to be a small tent. Drawing closer, he found a Bedouin seated in front of the tent, his face buried in his hands and a camel standing nearby. The Bedouin was lost in thought and took no notice of this nocturnal visitor.

"Assalamu ‘Alaikum!" said the visitor at last, to wake the Bedouin from his reverie, but to no effect. The visitor repeated the salutation, yet received no reply. After a third time, the Bedouin, taking him for a wayfarer or a beggar, sternly told him to be off and not to worry him.

"Why, brother? What is the trouble with you?" asked the visitor, not minding the rebuff in the least.

"Don’t you bore me," shouted the Bedouin. "Haven’t I once told you to clear off?" The visitor insisted on knowing what the matter was with him. At this, the Bedouin jumped to his feet to fetch his sword from inside his tent. "If you don’t want to lose your head," he said, "be off with you. It seems you must be a highwayman out on your game."

"No brother," replied the visitor gently. "I am no highwayman. Nor am I a wayfarer or a beggar. I belong to Madinah. I earn my living by working for others. I live in the town and have come out just for a stroll and seeing this fire in the wilderness, I was attracted here. I was afraid you are in trouble. What can I do for you?"

"Whose slave are you, then?" asked the Bedouin.

"I am a slave of the Muslims. My profession is to work for them," the visitor replied.

"What has brought you here?" enquired the Bedouin.

"All I want to know is the trouble that keeps you here in the desert in such perplexity," replied the visitor, taking his seat by the Bedouin. As he did so, he heard a painful cry from inside the tent – the cry of a woman.

"Why, brother? Who is crying with pain?" asked the visitor.

"It is my wife," replied the Bedouin. "We were coming from a long distance when her time came. I am a poor man and could not afford to take her to a town to engage a midwife so I stopped here in the desert. She is in great distress now. Please pray that God may help her in this desert place."

"Don’t worry about it in the least," replied the visitor. "I know a midwife and will shortly be back to you along with her."

"Wait!" said the Bedouin. "Don’t fetch a midwife. I have no money to pay her."

"Don’t worry on that account either," replied the visitor. "She will want no remuneration. Besides, she will be a great help to your wife."

It was past midnight when the visitor returned to his house. His wife was still up, waiting for him. Finding that her husband looked distressed, she asked him what was the matter. The husband told her the Bedouin’s story and asked her if she would help a fellow-woman in time of need. The wife was as good a Muslim as the husband; she said she was prepared to start that very moment.

"But they look very poor," said the husband. "Is there anything to eat that we might take for them?"

Wife: "Your own dinner is all that is left."

Husband: "Anything more?"

Wife: "Some goat’s milk."

Husband: "Anything else?"

Wife: "Some flour and some olive oil."

Husband: "Anything more?"

Wife: "By God, nothing else."

Husband: "Well, then, have all these things ready. I am going to saddle the camel. We must be quick."

Wife: "But won’t you have your dinner?"

Husband: "God knows if they have had any food at all since morning."

Wife: "Then do take a little milk."

Husband: "That poor woman would want it. Hurry up! They must be very anxious. Take a lamp with you."

In a moment, the camel was ready and they started with all the provisions they had in their house. In a short while they were at the Bedouin’s tent.

Addressing the Bedouin, the visitor said: "Please permit my wife to go in to render whatever help she can."

"It is extremely kind of you but I don’t know how to repay you. I don’t even have so much as a meal," replied the Bedouin.

"No question of payment; just permit my wife in," said the visitor.

While the wife went in, the visitor opened the bag of provisions he had brought with him. Taking his own dinner out, he served it to the Bedouin and asked him to help himself. The Bedouin said he must join too, but as the food was barely enough for one man, the visitor excused himself and the Bedouin had a hearty meal. When he had finished, they entered into a friendly conversation.

Bedouin: "Are you a native of Madinah?"

Visitor: "No, my birthplace is Makkah."

Bedouin: "Why did you leave Makkah?"

Visitor: "I came here along with my master."

Bedouin: "Has your master set you free?"

Visitor: "He has put me to the service of Muslims."

Bedouin: "Have you seen the Prophet’s time?"

Visitor: "Yes, I had that privilege too."

Bedouin: "Have you been in the Prophet’s company?"

Visitor: "O yes! Hundreds of times.’

Bedouin: "What a fortunate fellow! Then surely you must tell me how the Prophet lived and what he taught."

Visitor: "The Prophet lived a simple life. He wore plain clothes and ate simple food. He was very keen on cleanliness. He rose very early and first thing in the morning, he would thoroughly clean his teeth and mouth. He worked very hard and did everything with his own hands. He patched his own clothes, mended his own shoes, milked his own goats, and even swept his own floor. God, he would say, loves the man who earns his living by honest labour. He helped the poor and took care of the orphans and the widows. He stood by the weak, and never did a man in distress come to him who went back disappointed. He respected women. He never despaired. In the face of the greatest obstacles, he always looked his best. He taught that all men are equal. Though the Prophet of God and the King of Arabia, he never looked upon himself as superior to other men. When on his deathbed, he had it announced that if he had offended anyone, he was there ready to suffer the penalty; if he owed anything, he was there to repay it. Such was the Prophet’s life of love and labour; such was his teaching."

Bedouin: "But you have told me nothing about prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, and so many other things which he enjoined."

Visitor: "Yes, he was very particular about prayers. He said when we say our prayers we are taking a spiritual bath and come out cleaner and refreshed. He also said prayers were like a ladder that took us up to a higher and nobler life. But all worship, he said, was meant to enable us to play our part in life worthily. A man, he said, who says his prayers but does not feel for the orphan and the needy, is saying no prayers. Prayers must make us truthful, honest, hardworking, fearless, humble, regular, and above all, loving and of service to our fellow-men. Religion, he taught, meant love of God and service to fellow-men."

Renewed restlessness within the tent disturbed their conversation. For a while there was silence. The Bedouin walked up and down and then resuming his seat by the visitor went on with his questions.

Bedouin: "So you must know Umar, too. They say he is a very harsh man."

Visitor: "Rather! This is indeed a great defect in him."

Bedouin: "I wonder why people elected such a harsh man as their caliph?"

Visitor: "Perhaps they could find no better servant."

Bedouin: "Servant! What do you mean? The caliph must be having the time of his life. He must have plenty of money."

At this moment, a voice from within the tent announced a newcomer.

"Amir ul-Muminin!" said the visitor’s wife. "Congratulate your friend. God has blessed him with a son."

The Bedouin was taken aback at the words, Amir ul-Muminin. His visitor was the caliph, himself. He was overtaken by fear.

"I beg your pardon, Amir ul-Muminin," he said, with fear on his face. "I have been rude to you."

"Don’t worry about that, friend," Umar the Great reassured him. "You are just as much a human being as I am. In the sight of God, there is neither high nor low. We are all equal. God loves those who love His creatures. I have only done my duty, for, in Islam, the leader of a people means the servant of the people."

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Books Section > The Golden Deeds of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Yakub Khan > A Ruler is the Servant of the People

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