Abu Bakar Siddique RA was Muslim’s First Khaleefa, first Leader after Hazrat Muhammad SAW.
After taking the office, this is what he said to people in his first speech:
“I am appointed as Leader upon you, though I am NO better than you. If I do good help me. If I go wrong correct me. Truthfulness is Honesty & Lying is Cheating.
The weakest person among you is the strongest person to me until I secure him his rights. And the strongest person among you is the weakest to me until I take back from him any undue advantages.
Remember, Nations that part away from ji had, Allah sends calamities upon them. If I obey Allah & his Messenger, follow me. If I disobey Allah & his Messenger, you need Not to obey me.”
These words were not lip service. This was the charter of governance for Abu Bakar’s (RA), which He (RA) acted upon throughout his tenure. He wanted to continue his business in order to avoid taking money from public funds. But Umar RA stopped him and asked him to concentre on governmental affairs; your needs will be provided by the bait-al-maal (treasury).
So how much should we give you for sustenance? As much as an ordinary labourer of Madina is paid, Abu Bakar (RA) replied. But it is too low, you wont be able to survive. His (RA) answer was amazing; “Then increase the salary of a labourer, mine will increase automatically!”
Abu Bakar RA accepted but only as little money as an ordinary would require for sustenance.
Even then, just before his death, Abu Bakar (RA) called his daughter Hazrat Aisha RA and asked Her to work out the amount of money He has received from treasury during his time and return it back to treasury by selling his own property. Abu Bakar further enquired “how much of my possessions increased during my Khilafat period?”. Your wealth increased by a camel, a slave and a velvet sheet, he was informed. Hand it over to next khaleefa, Abu Bakar commanded. Upon receiving these items, next Khaleef Umar RA cried and said “You have made life difficult for successors Abu Bakar [by setting such a high standards of self-accountability].”
Can you even think of such a leader today, let alone comparing him against today’s ‘Leaders’? Our leaders today are the wealthiest people in the world. Where did this wealth come from? What about ordinary people? Do they have food shelter & clothing? Forget about medical, health & water needs. And this is true for the entire Muslim world. There are stories in newspaper of plans to build underground tunnel to protect members of parliament in Islamabad. Also, trenches may be dug around Islamabad to prevent unwanted people entering the city.
Have you secured the ordinary people? Do layman gets same level of protection? People are dying of attacks, poverty, robberies, and what not? What shall we do with such a leaders who secure them before securing their nation? You tell me.
My hotel Sofitel was on the river Nile’s bank. I made good use of it by taking walks along the river, as well as eating breakfast in beautiful hotel lawn situated on the Nile bank. My room was on the 12th floor, giving me good views of the city and the river.
I took taxi one evening and headed to the part of city called “Islamic Cairo”. Driver dropped me right in front of the Al Azhar University on “Khan Al-Khalili” bazaar, which is one of the biggest & historic bazaars of Middle East. It was once the main world spice trade canter. In front of me was the most famous & the oldest in the world Muslim University “Jamia Al Azhar”.
AL AZHAR UNIVERSITY
Jamia Al Azhar was established in 970 AD by Fatimid Khilafat. University of Bologna Italy (considered 1st by many) was formed in 1088, some 118 years later than Al Azhar. University of Oxford established in 1096, 126 years after Al Azhar.
Most of the original Azhar building has perished except the main gate & corridor. It was greatly emotional moment for me to stand where 1000’s of scholars spent their lives researching & learning. I entered though the huge gate into a corridor, there used to be class rooms on both sides, now these are closed. Passing these, I landed in a huge compound. Students were sitting alongside walls learning Quran. Small study circles still continue here but nearly all studies are shifted to new purpose built campuses. Free education & lodging is still provided to students coming from all over the world. New faculties of agriculture, engineering, commerce & medicine were established in 1961.
This building reminded me of good old days of Muslims when they were the beacon of light. I prayed salat here and came out feeling proud to be able to visit Al Azhar University. I bought a wooden plaque from outside bearing Quranic verse “Rab-e Zidni ilman”, rough meaning “O God increase my Knowledge”. I pray the same for all of you.
MOSQUE AL-HUSSEIN (RA)
Just across the road is the most sacred Mosque in Egypt. It is believed that Hazrat Imam Hussein’s head rests here (though some historians disagree). His body was buried in Karbala but head was brought here. With very sad mind I entered the mosque. It was full of people, mostly Shia, praying and reading. There was a roza (tomb) on one side, where people were crying and making dua. I also prayed in the mosque and made dua at the roza.
FISHAWI Qahva- Cafe of Mirrors – OPEN 24 HRS FOR 200 YEARS:
The streets around this area are narrow and crowded. I started wondering around in the area. I was actually looking for a Kahva (Tea) House called Fishawi. It is said to be open 24 hours a day for the last 200 years. Many famous artists & writers frequented it. There it was in front of me inside a narrow alleyway, full of people, old & young, local & tourist, drinking kahva & smoking sheesha. I wanted to sit but I didn’t feel like sitting alone and also, nature was calling me load & clear by now, it was a bit cold. I headed back.
DOG SECURITY & LIFTS:
There was dog security at entrance of every big building. Before entering, car was sniffed by the dog. Egyptians don’t believe in metal detectors.
Floor numbering was “clever”. There were floors 1, 2, 3 and also 01, 02, 03. As any Computer engineer would easily figure this out, 1 & 01 were actually different floors. Easy isn’t it? It was a system designed by an engineer for the engineers! Not for me – an ordinary person. Till the last day, I struggled with the floor numbers.
Using lifts is no easy task too. Take an example of our hotel. There were 5 lifts which were numbered as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1. There was a common touch screen in the middle to operate these lifts. First you would select the floor number from the 3 range options 01 to 03, 1 to 12 or 25 to 15. After that you would select the actual Floor number from the numbers displayed. The display screen would then display the lift number which will serve you e.g. C2 or A2. The people will then stand in front of their allocated lift in batches. Once inside the lift, no need to press any buttons. The required floor no buttons are already pressed, good isn’t? But lift wouldn’t show which floor it has reached. No number was displayed. You were expected to follow the flashing numbers’ sequence; just like an engineer, whichever number stopped blinking is the one where you are now. For example, lift was supposed to stop at 1, 3, 5 &6. If only 6 is blinking, you are on 5 (or may be 4!). Therefore it was important not to blink your eye till you reach your floor.
I said “Airport Terminal 3” to the taxi driver Mr Sharief. He was lost – No English. Puzzled why a taxi driver wouldn’t understand “airport”, I tried again in a bit Arabic accent. The more I tried to explain more he got confused. I grabbed a passing by to help but no success. Sharief quickly called his friend on mobile who spoke to me in Aranglish (mix of Arabic & English). I explained to him, he explained to Shrief. Ohhh, airport Cairo! He had never heard of an airport called Airport Terminal 3!
It was an old taxi car, which I picked up as I came out of my office to take my return flight back from Cairo. After “understanding” my destination very well, Shrief, a young lad dove off. He was driving with one “part time” hand. Chatting with mobile in his left hand, right hand was used multi-purposely; to smoke a cigarette, change gear, steer, use indicator, and buzz the horn which was “conveniently” located on dashboard near gear lever, also doing other minor jobs as & when needed!
As we neared the airport, a signboard pointed left for Terminal 1 and right for 2 &3. Suddenly Sharief stopped the car and started a conversation on the phone. After which he concluded we must take left. Despite me begging to him we need to go right for terminal 3, Sharief proceeded to the left with his own plans advising me to calm down, as He “knows the best”. And as expected, soon we landed in terminal 1. I showed him my ticket again which he consulted with some security people. Soon we were on our way back to T 3. Actually Terminal 3 got translated into “Hall 3” on Terminal 1 during Aranglish conversation somehow. Thankfully I made comfortably for the flight.