In the wars that were conducted during the rule of Umar, the soldiers on the front remained absent for considerable periods. Umar introduced the reform that leave should be granted to every soldier after he had served on the front for four months. A story is recorded as to how this reform was brought about.
It is related that one night Umar went on his round in Madina as usual. It was the dead of night, and every where was quiet. From one of the houses in the street, Umar heard a lady lamenting. She said:
"The night is wearisome and keeps me sleepless;
For I have none to keep me company.
I fear Allah, Who keeps watch over our souls,
And would not take another companion,
But who could tell Umar,
That he should not be so cruel,
As to keep my husband away from me,
For such a long period."
Umar knocked at the door, and when the lady came to the door he said:
"I have heard, what you wanted to be conveyed to Umar.
How long has your husband been away."
The lady said, "About a year."
Umar said, "Rest assured your husband would come back to you shortly."
Umar consulted Hafsa as to the maximum period for which a man might remain separate from his wife. She suggested a period of four months. Umar accordingly issued orders to the effect that unless a man of the armed forces could take his wife with him, he should be allowed a spell of leave after every four months of active service on the front.