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Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab - Inter-Personal Relations and Interactions

Umar Finds Clue To Murder

Once the dead body of a beardless youth was found in an isolated place in Madina. Umar wanted the relatives of the dead boy to take care of the body and give it a burial. No one came forward to claim the body. Umar had the body buried. Thereafter he initiated an inquiry to trace the murder, but the murder could not be traced. Umar prayed to God that he may facilitate his task by providing some clue to trace the murder.

After about nine months, a new born baby was found at the same site where the dead body of the young man had been found. Umar entrusted the foundling to a wet nurse at state expense. He instructed the nurse that if any lady came to enquire about the baby, or caressed it, he should be informed. Umar felt sure that before long the mystery of the dead young man would be solved.

After a few months the nurse reported that a lady so and so had come to see the baby, and caressed it as if she was its mother. Umar noted the name and address of the lady, and after having girded his sword went to see the lady.

It transpired that the lady was unmarried and was the daughter of a respectable Ansar chief. Umar took the chief into confidence, and said that he wanted to talk to her daughter as he suspected her to be guilty of murder.

Umar went inside the house and then branding his sword said, "You are according to my investigation guilty of murder. If you have any defence to offer, let me hear what you have to say."

The girl said, "It is true that I murdered the young man. You may listen to my story, and then you may pass whatever verdict you may pass."

Umar said, "Yes. You may narrate your story. But mind you, speak nothing but the truth".

The girl said, "A few years ago I engaged an old woman as a maid servant. She was very kind and affectionate. She treated me as a daughter, and I looked to her as a mother. Some time later she said that she would be going to her village but would like to leave her young daughter with me." She brought her daughter and left her with me. The girl was of my age, and we soon became intimate friends. She would sleep in the same room as myself and we would talk of pleasant things till late hours in the night.

One night we talked of love and allied matters till midnight. Then feeling heavy with sleep I dozed while she kept sitting on my bed. After some time I found to my horror that whom I had taken to be a girl was a boy, and was doing foul action with me. In the heaviness of sleep I did not know what had happened, but when I regained my senses and found that I had been betrayed I took the dagger and killed the boy. Thereafter I had thrown the dead body at a solitary spot.

Nine months later a baby was born. I did not kill it but had it thrown at the spot where the dead body of its father had been thrown previously."

After hearing the story, Umar said, "You have spoken the truth. You were betrayed and in killing the boy you vindicated your honour. You acted within the bounds of law, and I pronounce the verdict of 'Non-guilty'. You can even keep the baby with you, if you like."

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