Umar and the Eloquent Woman

‘Umar and the Eloquent Woman

The Messenger of Allah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said, in a long hadith: “A believer should speak good or keep silent!” We all know this hadith, right?

But how do we implement this hadith? What if someone does something wrong? What if they deprive us of our rights? Should we still keep silent, or give them 80 lashes with our tongues?

Check this out–this incident ocurred during the life of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه), second Khalifa of Islam.

Ash-Sha’bi (رحمةلله) reported that Ka’b Bin Sur was sitting with ‘Umar when a woman came and said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen! I have never seen a man better then my husband. By Allah, he prays the night and fasts the day.”

Upon hearing this, ‘Umar praised the woman and supplicated for her, and she shyly departed.

Ka’b then said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen! Shouldn’t you have considered her accusation against her husband, for she indeed was quite eloquent in her complaint!”

‘Umar replied, “Why do you not judge between them, for you have understood about her situation that which I did not.” [After he judged], ‘Umar said, “By Allah, your first understanding (of her situation) is not more amazing then the second (the judgement). I hereby appoint you as judge over Al-Basrah, and indeed, you are a remarkable judge.”

by Ibn Abi Shaybah and others. Verified to be authentic by Al-Albani (Irwa’ ul-Ghalil no. 2016). [1]

This becomes even more amazing when you realize that ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) was known for being one of the toughest people around–nobody messed with him, neither before or after Islam!

What lessons can we learn from this athaar?

Good Speech: Notice that the woman came to complain to ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) that her husband deprived her of her marital rights (something we usually focus on for men rather then women). She didn’t call him a ninny, or an idiot, or swear; rather, she praised him, and what happened? Subhanallah, the Khalifa made du’a for the guy! She came to complain against him, and ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) made du’a on his behalf! Subhanallah, that’s Islam for you! And, wallahu ‘alim, this is a true example of “speak good or keep silent”.

Best of Names: The woman called him “Ameer al-Mumineen”. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) uses this approach in the Qur’an, as well, when He addresses Bani Israeel–despite all their transgressions and denial of His miracles. [2]

Admit Failings: ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) did not rebuke his companion, or say “what are you talking about?”, or “no, that’s silly”–rather, he realized immediately that he failed to grasp the situation, and asked his companion to carry through since he knew better! Subhanallah, that takes real humility and humbleness.

[1] Al-Jibaly, Muhammad. The Fragile Vessels: Rights and Obligations Between the Spouses in Islam. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Beirut: Al-Kitaab & as-Sunnah, 2002. 49-50.

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