On 15th August 1969, India’s Independence Day was being celebrated in the Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India. Mohammad Hidayatullah was, at that time, Acting President of the country. In his book of memoirs My Own Boswell, (pp. 245-246), he recalls the impressiveness of the occasion, with the escort of the Military Secretaries, aid-de-camps and the President’s Body Guard, all in their splendid uniforms. “We made a glittering sight,” he writes, and he admits, “I felt a little pride.”
But then, immediately, he was reminded of the entry of Caliph Omar into Syria. When Islamic forces had conquered Syria and Palestine, the Romans offered the surrender of the city of Damascus if the Caliph came to receive it in person. Omar ibn Khattab, the second successor of the Prophet Mohammad, set off from Madinah with one camel and one servant. Near Damascus, at Jabiya, he was met by his generals Abu Ubaidah ibn Al-Jarrah and Khalid ibn Al-Walid. He stayed there for a few days, and after discussion with the Romans, terms were agreed upon.