Once Umar was busy with some important affairs of the State, when a person came to him and, complaining about some petty grievance, asked for immediate redress.
Thus disturbed, Umar felt very much annoyed. He took the lash and struck the man saying:
"When I sit for redressing the grievances of the common men you do not come, and when I am engaged in other important work you come with your grievances to disturb me."
The person walked away in a sullen mood. When the man went away, Umar felt struck with remorse for having treated the man shabbily.
Umar ran after the man, and overtaking him handed him his lash and said:
"I have been hard on you and lashed you. You take this lash, and strike me so that the account may be squared."
The man was overwhelmed with the sense of justice of Umar. He said:
"O Commander of the Faithful, how can I raise my hand against you. I seek no revenge. I forgive you. May Allah forgive you."
Umar went home and offered a special prayer of repentance. He upbraided himself loudly:
"O Umar, you were low but Allah elevated you. You were wandering astray but Allah guided you. You were base but Allah ennobled you and gave you sovereignty over the people. Now one of them comes and asks you for requital for the harm done to him, and you beat him.
What answer would you give before Allah?"
Umar kept chiding himself long. Holding a straw in his hand he said:
"I wish, I were a straw like this." Turning to himself he said, "I wish my mother had not given birth to me."