Umar Al-Khattab RA would often hold a straw in his hand and say:
"I wish I were a straw like this."
Sometimes he would say:
"I wish my mother had not given birth to me."
Once he was busy with some important work when a person came to him and, complaining about some petty grievance, requested for its redress. Umar RA laid a lash across his shoulders, saying:
"When I sit for that purpose, you do not come to me but when I am engaged in other important work you come with your grievances to interrupt me."
The person walked away. Umar RA then sent for him and, handing his whip over to him, said:
"You now lash me to even the matter."
The person said:
"I forgive you for the sake of Allah."
Umar RA went home, prayed a Solat of two raka'ats in repentance and upbraided himself saying:
"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 His people. Now one of them comes and asks you for redress of the wrong done to him, and you beat him? What answer have you to give before Allah?"
He kept on chiding himself thus for a very long time.
Once Umar RA was going on his usual round towards Harrah (a suburb of Madinah) with his servant Aslam RA, when he saw a distant fire in the desert.
Umar RA said:
"There seems to be a camp. Perhaps, it is a caravan that could not enter the town due to night fall. Let's go and look after them and arrange for their protection during the night."
When he reached there, he found a woman and some children. The children were crying. The woman had a pan of water over the fire. Umar RA greeted her with salam and, with her permission, went near her.
"Why are these children crying?"
"Because they are hungry."
"What is in the pan?"
"Only water to soothe the (minds of the) children, so that they may go to sleep in the belief that food is being prepared for them. Aah! Allah will judge between Umar (RA) and me, on the Day of Judgement, for neglecting me in my distress."
Umar RA (weeping):
"May Allah have mercy on you! How can Umar know of your distress?"
"When he is our Amir, he must keep himself informed about us."
Umar RA returned to the town and straightway went to Baitul-Mal to fill a sack with flour, dates, fat and clothes, and also drew some money.
When the sack was ready, he said to Aslam RA:
"Now put this sack on my back, Aslam."
"No please, Amir-ul-Mu'mineen! I shall carry this sack."
Umar refused to listen to Aslam RA, even on his persistent requests to allow him to carry the sack, and remarked:
"What! Will you carry my load on the Day of Judgement? I must carry this bag, for it is I who would be questioned (in the Hereafter) about this woman."
Aslam RA most reluctantly placed the bag on Uma's RA's back, who carried it with a swift pace right to the woman's tent. Aslam RA followed at his heels. He put a little flour and some dates and fat in the pan and began to stir. He blew into the fire to kindle it.
The famous narration of Aslam RA is well-known:
"I saw the smoke passing through his thick beard."
After some time, the pottage was ready. He himself served it to the family. When they had eaten to their fill, he made over to them the little that was left for their next meal. The children were very happy after their meal and began to play about merrily.
The woman felt very grateful and remarked:
"May Allah reward you for your kindness ! In fact you deserve to take the place of Khalifah instead of Umar."
Umar RA consoled her and said:
"When you come to see the Khalifah, you will find me there."
He sat for a while at a place close by and kept on watching the children. He then returned to Madinah.
On his way back, he said to Aslam RA:
"Do you know why I sat there, Aslam? I had seen them weeping in distress; I liked to see them laughing and happy for some time."
It is said that Umar RA while leading Subuh Solat, he used to recite Surah Kahf, Taha and other such Surahs in his Solat, and would weep so much that his crying could be heard way back to several rows. Once he was reciting Surah Yusuf during Subuh. When he came to the verse:
"I only plead for my distress and anguish unto Allah," (Surah 12: Ayat 86)
- he wept so much that he could not recite any further. In Tahajjud, he would sometimes fall to the ground and would get indisposed with excessive weeping. Such was the fear of Allah in Umar RA whose name struck terror in the hearts of the mightiest monarchs of his time. Even today, the people are filled with awe when they read about him. Is there any person in power today who is prepared to show such kindness to the people in his charge?