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There is a story that goes like this:

Once the Second Caliph Umar, Omar bin Khattab told the people to not be excessive in mahr (bride price) and not to exceed four hundred dirhams. A woman protested and quoted Verse 4:20 of the Qur'an which says:

But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?

Caliph Omar immediately retracted his statement, saying that whoever wants to give an exorbitant mahr can give it.

What is the authenticity of this hadith?

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This is a famous story but it is not authentic as its chains have weak narrators and gaps. The authentic version does not mention any woman or any retraction by Umar:

قال عمر بن الخطاب ألا لا تغالوا صدقة النساء فإنها لو كانت مكرمة في الدنيا أو تقوى عند الله لكان أولاكم بها نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما علمت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نكح شيئا من نسائه ولا أنكح شيئا من بناته على أكثر من ثنتى عشرة أوقية

Umar bin Al-Khattab said: 'Do not exaggerate in the dowries of women. If doing so was honorable in the world or Taqwa before Allah then Allah's Prophet would have been the first of you to do it. I do not know of the Messenger of Allah marrying any of his women, nor giving any of his daughters in marriage, for more than twelve Uqiyah.

Abu Dawud, Jami at-Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Musnad Ahmad

Keep in mind however that there is no maximum limit on mahr, and it is valid to set any amount. However it is discouraged to have too much mahr and recommended to have lower mahr which makes marriage easier. Umar's statement is interpreted as discouraging it not making it haram.

And this is also evident from ahadith such as:

إن من يمن المرأة تيسير خطبتها، وتيسير صداقها، وتيسير رحمها

One of the signs of a woman being blessed is that the process of proposing to her is made easy and the dowry is made affordable and she bears children easily.

Musnad Ahmad translation from islamqa


Among the versions of the hadith which are weak are the following:

أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ وأبو محمد عبيد بن محمد بن محمد بن مهدى القشيرى لفظا قالا: حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب، حدثنا يحيى بن أبى طالب، أخبرنا عبد الوهاب بن عطاء، أخبرنا حميد، عن بكر قال: قال عمر بن الخطاب -رضى الله عنه-: لقد خرجت وأنا أريد أن أنهى عن كثرة مهور النساء حتى قرأت هذه الآية: {وآتيتم إحداهن قنطارا}

Umar ibn al-Khatab said: I intented to forbid you from excess in mahr until I recited the verse: "and you have given one of them a great amount" (Quran 4:20)

Sunan al-Kubra Bayhaqi

This has a severed chain. And it does not mention any woman, rather it implies that Umar himself changed his opinion on contemplation.

عن قيس بن الربيع، عن أبي حصين، عن أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي قال: قال عمر بن الخطاب: «لا تغالوا في مهور النساء»، فقالت امرأة: ليس ذلك لك يا عمر، إن الله يقول: «وإن آتيتم إحداهن قنطارا من ذهب» قال: وكذلك هي في قراءة عبد الله «فلا يحل لكم أن تأخذوا منه شيئا»، فقال عمر: «إن امرأة خاصمت عمر فخصمته»

Umar ibn al-Khatab said: Do not exaggerate in the dowries of women.

So a woman said: It is not for you to say this O Umar, Allah has said: "and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything." (Quran 4:20)

So Umar said 'The woman has overcome Umar'

Musannaf Abdur Razzaq

This is weak as قيس بن الربيع is a weak transmitter and أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي never met Umar ibn al-Khatab.

أخبرنا أبو حازم الحافظ، أخبرنا أبو الحسن محمد بن أحمد ابن حمزة الهروى، حدثنا أحمد بن نجدة، حدثنا سعيد بن منصور، حدثنا هشيم، حدثنا مجالد، عن الشعبى قال: خطب عمر بن الخطاب -رضى الله عنه- الناس، فحمد الله وأثنى عليه، وقال: ألا لا تغالوا فى صداق النساء، فإنه لا يبلغنى عن أحد ساق أكثر من شئ ساقه رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- أو سيق إليه، إلا جعلت فضل ذلك فى بيت المال. ثم نزل، فعرضت له امرأة من قريش فقالت: يا أمير المؤمنين، أكتاب الله أحق أن يتبع أو قولك؟ قال: بل كتاب الله، فما ذاك؟ فقالت: نهيت الناس آنفا أن يغالوا فى صداق النساء، والله يقول فى كتابه: {وآتيتم إحداهن قنطارا فلا تأخذوا منه شيئا}. فقال عمر -رضى الله عنه-: كل أحد أفقه من عمر. مرتين أو ثلاثا، ثم رجع إلى المنبر فقال للناس: إنى كنت نهيتكم أن تغالوا فى صداق النساء، ألا فليفعل رجل فى ماله ما بدا له

Umar gave a sermon to the people, he praised and glorified Allah and then said: Do not be excessive in mahr. If I find out that someone has given a mahr which is more than the mahr given by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ or more than the Mahr given to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ (for his daughters) then I will confiscate the excess amount into the Bait al-Mal (public treasury).

Then when he came down from the pulpit. A woman from the Quraysh came to him and said: O Amir al-Mumineen. do we obey the Book of Allah or what you say?

Umar replied: Rather, the Book of Allah. What is the matter?

The woman said: You have forbidden the people from excess in giving mahr to women. Whereas Allah has said in His book: "and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything"

Umar said: Every person has a better understanding of religion than Umar. He repeated it two or three times.

Then he again climbed the pulpit and said to the people: I had forbidden you from excess in mahr given to women. However a man may give whatever he wishes from his wealth.

Sunan al-Kubra Bayhaqi

This is weak because مجالد بن سعيد is a weak transmitter and because الشعبى did not meet Umar.

Ref: https://shamela.ws/book/16555/1032 , https://shamela.ws/book/47/3958 , https://shamela.ws/book/103/10146

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  • @Litten <comments deleted> Comments are intended for constructive criticism and seeking clarification for the purposes of improving the post they're on, not for argument and debate or extended discussion of tangential points.
    – goldPseudo
    Apr 29, 2023 at 10:03

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