Shaykh Suhail Motala
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) says that ‘Umar ibn Khattab set out for Syria. When he got as far as ‘Sargh’, the commanders of the army, Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrah and his companions met ‘Umar and told him that a plague had broken out in Syria.
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said, ‘Umar said to me, ‘Call the early Muhajirun for me,’ I called them, sought their consultation and informed them that a plague had broken out in Syria.
They disagreed. Some of them said, ‘You have set out on a matter and we do not think that you should retreat from it.’ Others said, ‘You have the rest of the people as well as the Companions of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and we do not think that you should expose them to this plague.’
‘Umar then said, ‘Go away.’
Then he said, ‘Call the Ansar for me,’ and I called them and he consulted them. They behaved as the Muhajirun had done and disagreed as they had disagreed.
He said, ‘Go away.’
Then he said, ‘Call those who are here of the elders of Quraysh who emigrated the year of the Conquest of Makkah.’ So I called them, and none among them disagreed about it. They said, ‘We think that you should return with the people and not expose them to this plague.’
So ‘Umar made an announcement among the people: ‘I am returning in the morning, so return as well.’
Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrah said, ‘Are you fleeing from the decree of Allah?’ ‘Umar said, ‘If only someone other than you had said that, Abu ‘Ubaydah!’
Yes, ‘we are fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah‘. Do you think that if you had camels and they went down into a valley which had two sides, one of which was fertile and the other barren. Is it not that if you grazed them on the fertile side, then that grazing would be by the decree of Allah, and if you grazed them on the barren side, then that grazing would also be by the decree of Allah?’
‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf -who had been absent on some errand- then came and said, ‘I have some knowledge regarding this issue. I heard Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say,
“When you hear that [a plague] is in a land, do not go to it and if it occurs in a land that you are already in, then do not leave it, fleeing from it.’”
‘Umar praised Allah [due to him making the correct decision] and then left.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 5729 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2219)
Explanation of ‘we are fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah’
Hafiz ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) makes mention of another version of this narration which has the following words. This version clarifies the meaning as well.
“If we proceed, it will only be through the decree of Allah, and if we return, this will also be through the decree of Allah”
Allah Ta’ala has commanded us to be cautious and to abstain from things that will lead to our destruction. Since we are prohibited from putting ourselves in danger, we are fulfilling the decree of Allah by not proceeding.This was already predestined for us.
(Refer: Al Minhaj of Imam Nawawi, Hadith: 5745 and Fathul Bari, Hadith: 5729)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
source : hadithanswers.com/