Da’eef (Weak) No:32 The Story of ‘Umar Being Corrected by a Woman

There is a story from the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khatab that he had intended to try to limit the excessses concerning the dower that is paid to women upon marriage. The story states that after ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab had made such a plea from the minbar and stated that if anyone pays more as dower than what the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pay, he would put that excess amount in the Public Treasury. A woman from the Quraish came to him and said, “O commander of the Faithful, does the Book of Allah have more right to be followed or your statement? He said, “The Book of Allah.” So she then told him, “You have just prohibited the people from giving an excessive amount for dower but Allah has stated in His Book, “And if you have given them a great amount of gold as dower, take not the least bit of it back.'” [4:20] And then ‘Umar said two or three times, “Everybody has a better understanding than ‘Umar.” [Other narrations state, “The Woman is correct and ‘Umar is mistaken.” – Footnote] Then he got back on the minbar and said, “O people, I used to forbid you from being excessive with respect to the dower of women. Verily a man may do whatever he sees fit with his wealth.”

This story was narrated by both al-Baihaqi in Sunan al-Kubra and Abdul Razzaq in al-Mussanaf. The chains of both al-Baihaqi and of Abdul Razzaq are weak. Al-Baihaqi, in fact, points out that the chain he records is broken. [Abu Bakr al-Baihaqi, Sunan al Kubra, Beirut, Dar al-Fikr, nd., vol 7, p 233] Indeed, al-Baihaqi seems to prefer another narraation fro m Umar that he recorded just prior to the above narration. In that narration, it states that Umar said that he had intended to put a limit on women’s dowers until he read the verse, “A great amount of gold as dower.” Commenting on this narration, al-Baihaqi said, “It is a good mursal chain.” [Footnote: Mursal means the link between Umar and the one who narrated from him is broken.]

Al-Albani points out that not only are the chains of al-Baihaqi and Abdul Razzaq weak because they are broken, they also contain weak narrators that further weakens their chains. Hence, he concludes that this narration from Umar ibn al-Khattab is Definitely weak. [Footnote: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Irwa al-Ghalil fi Takhrij Ahadit Manar al-Sabeel Beirut, al-Maktab al-Islami, 1979, vol 6, p 347.]

Indeed, it is confirmed in authentic hadeeth recorded by Abu Dawud, al-Nasai, al-Tirmidhi and others that Umar ibn al-Khattab did in fact advise the people not to be excessive when it comes to a woman’s dower.

Actually, the above incident from the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab is quoted by many people nowadays to demonstrate that women used to take part in the political and other activities during the time of the Companions. They had an active role in society and, as one speaker today called it, took part in the “congressional meetings” (!) held in the mosque during those times. They go from that to exhorting women to take much more attractive roles in society and not be content with being at home, being good wives and mothers. They say that this was not the practice during the time of the Companions as this incident from the time of’ Umar ibn al-Khattab clearly demonstrates. Obviously, in order to use such an incident as proof, one must first prove the authenticity of the narration. This is not possible in this case and, therefore, this incident cannot be used as a proof. And Allaah Knows best.

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