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Yahya related to me that Malik said, "I heard that Umar ibn al- Khattab said, 'A night in Rukba (a valley near Taif,) is more preferable to me than ten nights in ash-Sham.' "
Malik said, "He meant to lengthen and preserve their lives because of the severity of the plague in ash-Sham ."
وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ بَلَغَنِي أَنَّ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، قَالَ لَبَيْتٌ بِرُكْبَةَ أَحَبُّ إِلَىَّ مِنْ عَشَرَةِ أَبْيَاتٍ بِالشَّامِ ‏.‏ قَالَ مَالِكٌ يُرِيدُ لِطُولِ الأَعْمَارِ وَالْبَقَاءِ وَلِشِدَّةِ الْوَبَإِ بِالشَّامِ ‏.‏

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References

• Muwatta Imam Malik, Book of Madina, Hadith 26