The Caliph and the New Clothes

*I know this ‘Id story for your son/daughter is a few weeks late, but inshaAllah you can relay it to them next ‘Id (al-adha)…enjoy!*

Two little boys came running to their mother with a request. “Jarir and Mughiz have both got new clothes for Eid. Can we have some new clothes as well?” Their mother, Fatima bint Abdul Malik, was no ordinary woman. Her father, grandfather and each of her four brothers were at one time or another Caliph and leader of the believers. In fact, her own husband was the present Caliph, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz – who ruled the world’s largest empire that stretched from the Atlantic to the Indian oceans. She promised them that she would check with their father to see if the two princes could have new clothes for Eid.

When Umar ibn Abdul Aziz returned home, his wife related the children’s request to him. The Caliph had a pained look in his eyes. “Fatima, you know how much I value my children, but all the money I have is in front of you”, he said motioning towards the sparsely furnished hut. Though a Caliph, Umar took care to live honestly and did much to ensure justice. Fatima agreed with her husband, but she said that maybe it would be possible to buy very cheap clothes for the children and they’d just be happy with something new to wear. Finally, the Caliph agreed and wrote a letter to his treasurer requesting that his pay be advanced a month early so that he could buy his children something to wear on Eid.

But the honest and pious Caliph had an equally honest treasurer. The reply he got was this: “Amir Ul-Mumineen, I have great respect for you and I trust and obey you completely. However, if you could guarantee to me that you will live through the next month and do your service to the people (which will entitle you to your pay) then the money can be advanced to you. If you cannot give the assurance of your life, then how can the treasury pay you?”

Caliph Umar ibn Abdul Aziz realised his mistake. Fatima bint Abdul Malik, washed her children’s old tattered clothes for Eid day and sent them out to play. One has to wonder if they were made from the same dust as us.

Once we (Muslims) were kings on this Earth, but it wasn’t because we were large in number that we were respected. It wasn’t because we were powerful that we were victorious. It wasn’t because we were successful that we were admired. It wasn’t because our women were beautiful that they were treated with honour and dignity. It wasn’t because we were intelligent that our example was emulated. It was all due to the faith of Islam. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile reflecting on how far we’ve fallen so we know how high we need to climb.

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