From Gems and Jewels:
One day, ‘Umar (rh) left his home with the famous Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (rh) during the old hours of the night, and after many leagues of seeing and searching, they spied a glow of a fire burning at a distance. The two followed the light like moths flying towards a candle flame and eventually led to a home with a burning lamp. Upon seeing the lamp, ‘Umar entered the house. Lo and behold, his eyes where greeted to a most shameful sight. There inside the house, an old man sat, with alcohol in front of him and a female singer singing him songs. The poor ruffian was caught off-guard by the sudden intrusion of ‘Umar when he said to him,
“I have not seen a sight more shameful that what I have witnessed tonight from an old man who should be awaiting death.”
The old man was not dissuaded however and quipped back,
“Indeed, O Leader of the Believers, what you have done is more shameful. You have entered my house without my permission and spied on me – and is not spying forbidden in Islam?”
So great was the humility and consideration of ‘Umar that he did immediately smack this geezer across the face. Rather, ‘Umar admitted to the truth of his statement and left the old man’s house, biting his garment and crying as he said,
“May the mother of ‘Umar lose him if Allah does not forgive me.”
Thereafter that old man stopped attending the gatherings of ‘Umar. After some time passed, ‘Umar finally saw the old man in one of the last rows of his gatherings and wished to speak with him. The man had a fear in his heart and expected the harshness he deserved from ‘Umar and so approached cautiously, being asked to come closer and closer until he was finally seated near the Leader of the Believers. ‘Umar urged the man to lend him his ear and whispered to him,
“By the One Who has sent Prophet Muhammad with the truth, I have not informed anyone of what I saw of you that night, nor have I informed Abdullah bin Mas’ud, for indeed he was with me.”
The man replied,
“O Leader of the Believers! By the One Who has sent Prophet Muhammad with the truth, I too have not returned to those evil actions since te night you entered upon me.”
Umar uttered out loud, “Allah Huakbar!” yet no one from the gathering knew what had occurred between the two men.
This was the intimate connection the Leader of the Believers had with his subjects, matters of such delicacy and emotional ambiguity and yet one could trust ‘Umar, Leader of the Believers in such matters. Those were the heydays of Islam, perhaps never to return. But there is still a small measure we can add in our scale of good deeds by protecting the honour of an individual.