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A GOVERNOR CANNOT DETACH HIMSELF FROM PEOPLE

Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas is one of the ten people to whom God's Messenger, upon him
be peace and blessings, gave the good news that they would go to Paradise. He
was a cousin of the Prophet and was among the first to accept Islam. He was a
teenager when he became a Muslim. He fought very bravely in the Battle of Uhud
and shot almost a thousand arrows at the enemy. The Messenger, who was being
attacked on all sides in the second phase of the Battle during which the Muslim
army experienced a setback, told him:

— Shoot, O Sa'd! May my father and mother be sacrificed for you!

The Messenger addressed no one other than Sa'd this way. Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas
was also famous for the acceptability by God of his prayers and maledictions.
People were afraid of being cursed by him. During the conquest of Makka he fell
gravely ill. When the Messenger visited him, he told him:

— O Messenger of God! While my brothers are returning to Madina, shall I stay


here for ever?

The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, who did not speak on his own,
consoled him, saying:

— It is hoped that you will live many years more and while many people get
benefit by means of you, many others will suffer harm because of you.

Sa'd recovered from his illness and lived a long life. He commanded the Muslim
armies in the Battle of Qadisiya and conquered Iran (Persia). So, he was known as
the Conqueror of Iran and 'Umar appointed him as the governor of Mada'in in Iran.
Sa'd was also famous for building the city of Kufa, which was destroyed centuries
later.

It was the custom of the Caliph 'Umar to question the pilgrims coming to Makka
and Madina from distant cities about their governors, and if any complaint was
made of a governor, he inquired into it. The people coming from Mada'in
complained about their governor that he had made a two-floored government
building with a door. As a memorial of the conquest of Iran and a symbol of the
Muslims' victory, Sa'd had attached the portal of a former imperial Sassanid palace
to the government building.

'Umar, who did not allow the governors to separate themselves from the people
even by a door, wrote a letter to Sa'd, carried to him by Muhammad ibn Maslama.
He wrote in the letter:
O Sa'd! I have heard that you have had a government building constructed, and
attached to it the portal of the palace of the defeated Emperor of Iran. Why did you
do that? Did you do that so that people might not reach you easily because of the
porters you will employ? Or do you intend to follow the way of that despotic
king? Do you not know that the palaces of despotic kings like him were destroyed
because they detached themselves from the people in order not to listen to their
complaints? Now, I am sending a man with no fear of you. He will pull up the
door and then give this letter to you. You should be content with two houses, one
for your residence, the other for keeping the public treasury in.

Muhammad ibn Maslama, the Caliph's envoy, duly carried out the order of the
Caliph, and Sa'd, Conqueror of Iran though he was, and one of those very few
assured of Paradise, looked on without objection while it was done.