Remaining humble while in authority – story of ‘Umar al Farouq and a lady

`Umar ascended the Prophet’s pulpit one day and said to the people,

“Why do you go to excess in women’s dowries though during the lifetime the Prophet, the Companions used to pay 400 dirhams or less in dowry?

If the increase in the dowries were a sign of piety or honour in the Sight of Allah, you would not have surpassed them (the Companions; in this regard).

So, let me not hear that a man paid a woman a dowry of more than 400 dirhams”.

He got down the pulpit, and then a woman from Quraysh (described in another narration as flat-nosed, tall woman) intercepted him and said,

“O Commander of the Believers! Do you forbid the people to pay more than 400 dirhams as women’s dowries?”

He answered, “Yes”.

She replied,  “Did you not hear what Allah said in the Qur’an (about it)?”

He wondered, “Which verse (you mean)?”

She answered, “Did you not hear Allah’s saying,

{… and you have given one of them a Qintar [great amount; in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?}? (An-Nisa’ 4: 20)”

He said,

“O Allah, I ask You for pardon! All people are more knowledgeable than `Umar (referring to himself.

– Ibn Kathir’s Musnad Al-Farouq, 573/2, and Abu Ya`la’s Az-Zawa’id, 335/2

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