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

Jabala Bin Aiham

Jabala bin Aiham was a Ghassanid prince. He became a convert to Islam and came to Madina. At Madina, Jabala stayed as the personal guest of Umar. A few days later Umar and Jabala travelled to Mecca for the purposes of pilgrimage. In Mecca too, Jabala was the State guest.

As Jabala was circumambulating the Holy Kaaba, his pilgrim scarf was accidentally trodden by a poor Arab of the Banu Fazara. That aroused the wrath of Jabala. Without waiting to listen to any explanation, Jabala buffeted the Arab in the face bruising him severely in the nose.

The Arab lodged a complaint with Umar. Umar sent for Jabala and asked him whether the charge levied against him by the Arab was true. Jabala answered haughtily "This rascal trod on my reverence for the Kaaba and, but for the prohibition to shed blood within the sacred premises, I would have slain the man on the spot, instead of merely thrashing him."

Umar put the Arab to explanation and he said on oath that due to extraordinary rush, he trod on the scarf of Jabala accidentally.

Turning to Jabala, Umar said, "Do you agree that what happened was accidental, or did this man deliberately offend you."

Jabala said, "I am not concerned with that. It might have been accidental but the fact remained that he trod on my scarf thereby uncovering me. It must be borne in mind that I am a prince while he is a commoner."

Umar said, "In Islam there is no distinction between a prince and a commoner. You could not take the law in your own hands merely on the ground that you are a prince, and he is a commoner".

Jabala felt annoyed and said, "I had thought that Islam would add to my dignity and prestige, and here Islam is becoming an instrument for my humiliation".

Umar said, "Law must have its own course, and I am obliged to do justice. There are two alternatives. Either patch up with the man and satisfy him, or be prepared to face my verdict."

When Jabala saw that Umar was serious in invoking the penal provisions of law he said, "Give me one day to ponder over the matter".

Hazrat Umar deferred his judgement for one day. That very night Jabala left for Syria secretly along with his retinue. From there he proceeded to Constantinople. In Constantinople he become a Christian. He said, "I denounce Islam because it does not discriminate between a peasant and a commoner."

When Umar came to know on the following day that Jabala had slipped away, he allowed the poor Arab adequate compensation from the Bait-ul-Mal.

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