The Memory of Caliph 'Umar bin Abdul-Aziz by his Wife
By Imam Abu Yusuf (d. 182 AH / 798 AD)
When 'Umar ibn Abd al Aziz died, the learned men came to his wife to express sympathy and say how great a calamity had struck the people of Islam by his death. And they said to her, 'Tell us about him - for the one who knows best about a man is his wife'.
And she said: "Indeed he never used to pray or fast more than the rest of you, but I never saw a servant of God who feared Him more than 'Umar. He devoted his body and his soul to the people. All day he would sit tending to their affairs, and when night came he would sit up while business remained. One evening when he had finished everything, he called for his lamp - from which he used to buy the oil from his own money - and prayed two prostrations. Then he sat back on his folded legs, with his chin in his hands, and the tears ran down from his cheeks, and this didn't stop until dawn, when he rose for a day of fasting.
I said to him, 'Commander of the Believers, was there some matter that troubled you this night?' And he said, 'Yes, I saw how I was occupied while governing the affairs of the community, all its black sheep and its white sheep, and I remembered the stranger, beggared and straying, and the poor and the needy, and the prisoners in captivity, and all like them in the far places of the earth, and I realised that God most high would ask me about all of them, and Muhammad would testify about them, and I feared that I should find no excuse when I was with God, and no defence with Muhammad.'
And even when 'Umar was with me in bed, where a man usually find some pleasure with his wife, if he remembered some affair of God's (people), he would be upset as a bird that had fallen into the water. Then his weeping would rise until I would throw off the blankets in kindness to him. 'By God' he would say, 'How I wish that there was between me and this office the distance of the East from the West!'