Integrity needs to be a middle name

THE name Umar Abd al-Aziz both inspires and is admired universally. The name stands for good governance, integrity and accountability.

Umar was a Caliph during the Umayyad Caliphate and is considered as one of the finest rulers in the history of Islam, second only to the four Khulafa ar-Rashidin – the rightly guided Caliphs namely Abu Bakar, Umar, Uthman and Ali. He is even affectionately referred to as the fifth and last rightly guided Caliphs by some very prominent Muslims.

The Muslim author and scholar, Abu Tariq Hijazi once wrote of Umar as follow:

“(He) was extremely pious and averse to worldly luxuries. He preferred simplicity to extravagance. He deposited all assets and wealth meant for the ruling caliph into the Bait al-Maal (Treasury). He even abandoned the royal palace and preferred to live in a modest house. He wore rough clothes instead of royal robes and often went recognised in public. After his appointment as caliph, he discarded all the pompous appendages of princely life-servants, slaves, maids, horses, palaces, golden robes and real estates and returned them to Bait al-Maal. He also asked his wife, Fatima, to return the jewellery she had received from her father. The faithful wife complied with his bidding and deposited all of it in the Bait al-Maal.”

But the story that is much told and related of Umar is this:

Umar was sitting in his private chamber examining a pile of state documents. The dim light of the room was adding to the serenity and sombreness of the place and the Caliph could scarcely feel the arrival of his wife, Fatima, till she addressed him, “Sire! Will you spare a few moments for me? I want to discuss a private matter with you.” “Of course”, replied the pious Caliph, raising his head from the papers. “But, please put off this state lamp and light your own, as I do not want to burn the state oil for private talk.”

Three months ago, a minister reportedly turned her office into a studio for a fashion shoot. Photos of the minister, circulated on social media platforms of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, showed her “modelling” various types of baju kurung.

In her office! Paid out of the Treasury.

Yesterday, a senior minister posted photos on Twitter and Instagram showing what appeared to be a large gathering at his official residence on the first day of Hari Raya. According to preliminary information, the celebration was among his family members who resided in the residence. It was reportedly verified that there were no guest coming to or leaving the official residence.

So, there was no breach of Hari Raya standard operating procedures that bans house-to-house visits as well as cemetery visits.

But Umar had different lamps when he was attending to public and private matters.

If he had his extended family in his residence, he would not have the expenses on private matters paid out of the Treasury.

He had a middle name – “Integrity”.

By : Hafiz Hassan – The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Stringer.

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