‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) was the khaleefah of the Muslims for just two years before passing away in the year 101 A.H. at the age of thirty-nine. Before his appointment as the khaleefah, he was ‘drowning’ in wealth, leading a life of opulence, luxury and extravagance.
After becoming the khaleefah, his life underwent a complete transformation as he adopted the sunnah of simplicity and completely ‘divorced’ material pleasures (read more on this here). Furthermore, besides the basic allowance from the Baytul Maal (public treasury) which all Muslims were entitled to receive, he did not allow his wife and children to take any additional wealth from the Baytul Maal as this would amount to abuse of public wealth.
When ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) was on his death bed, his brother-in-law, Maslamah bin ‘Abdil Malik, came to see him. Maslamah addressed him and said, “O Ameerul Mu-mineen! You have deprived your children of this wealth. Why don’t you make a bequest, entrusting them to me and others like me, from your relatives, so that we may look after them and see to their needs (after your demise)?”
When ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) heard Maslamah express concern for the financial security and future of his children, he instructed those around him to make him sit up. After sitting up, he said to Maslamah, “As for your claim that I have deprived my children of this wealth, then I take an oath in the name of Allah Ta‘ala that I have not oppressed my children and deprived them of anything which they rightfully deserved. However, never was I prepared to give them something which belonged to others. As far as your suggestion regarding entrusting them to others, then I have entrusted them to Allah Ta‘ala.” Saying this, he recited the following verse of the Quraan Majeed:
إِنَّ وَلِـِّۧىَ ٱللَّـهُ ٱلَّذِى نَزَّلَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ ۖ وَهُوَ يَتَوَلَّى ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
“Indeed, my guardian is Allah Ta‘ala Who has revealed the Book, and He is the guardian of the righteous.” (Surah Aa’raaf v. 196)
‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) then said, “The children of ‘Umar can only be in one of two conditions – they will either be righteous and pious, in which case Allah Ta‘ala will see to their financial independence, or they will be otherwise (i.e. impious and sinful), in which case I do not want to be the first to ‘sponsor’ and support their sinful activities (and lifestyle) through giving them money.”
He then instructed for his children to be called. When they arrived and his gaze fell on them, his eyes began to well with tears and he said, “I have left these children in poverty with no wealth!” Saying this, he began to weep. Thereafter, he addressed his children and said, “O my beloved children! I have left abundant goodness for you! You will not pass by any Muslim or even non-Muslim living in our lands except that they will regard you to have a right over them (and will consider themselves indebted to you, because of the manner in which I treated my subjects). O my beloved children! I had a choice between two options – either I could allow you to become rich (through the wealth of the public), causing me to enter Jahannam, or I could leave you poor, thus securing my entry into Jannah. Between these two options, I preferred for you to remain without this wealth (and me securing my Jannah).”
‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) then bade his children farewell saying, “Go! May Allah Ta‘ala protect you! Go! May Allah Ta‘ala sustain you and provide you with your livelihood!”
(Seerah ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez – Ibnu ‘Abdil Hakam pg. 101)
1. Generally, every parent’s concern is for the financial security and stability of his children. However, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) understood that imaani and deeni security is far more important and crucial, for if his progeny lacked in Deen and imaan, they would be deprived of Jannah. Hence, he was prepared to leave his children without wealth, but he was not prepared to leave them without Deen.
2. ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) could tolerate his children living in poverty, but he could not tolerate his children consuming haraam wealth, as he understood that haraam wealth paves the way to destruction in this world and the next.
3. In the case of his progeny being sinful, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) did not wish to share in their sin by being the one who enabled them to carry out the sins by giving them money. Hence, every parent should ensure that he is not the means through which his children are committing sins and falling into vice.