In Madina, Umar lived in an elevated part of the city. His neighbour was Banu Umayya bin Zaid Ansari. The practice was that one day Umar attended the Holy Prophet, and informed his Ansari friend about all that had happened in the Prophet’s Mosque. The other day Banu Umayya attended the Prophet’s Mosque and on return informed Umar of all that had happened that day.
Umar felt that while in Mecca the Quraishites dominated over their women, in Madina things had changed, and the women asserted themselves. One day Umar was cross with his wife on some matter, but instead of being quiet she retorted, “How is it that you feel annoyed at my remonstrance. Go and see that the wives of the Holy Prophet remonstrate with the Holy Prophet. Tonight one of his wives quarrelled with him all the night.”
Hearing this, Umar went to his daughter Hafsa and enquired of her whether she had quarrelled with the Holy Prophet. She said that she had quarrelled with the Holy Prophet as she had a grievance. Thereupon Umar said, “Hafsa you are incurring loss. Don’t you know by annoying the Holy Prophet you invite the wrath of God.” After reprimanding her in severe terms, Umar returned home.
At night, the Ansari neighbour of Umar knocked at his door, and as Umar went to see what was the matter, his friend told him that something very grave had happened. Umar thought that perhaps Banu Ghassan whose attack was expected had invaded Madina. Umar enquired whether Banu Ghassan had launched the attack. Banu Umaya said, “No. Something more serious than that has happened”. When Umar pressed him to tell what had happened he said that the Holy Prophet had divorced his wives.
Umar was very much upset at the news. He spent the whole night in prayer. Early in the morning next day, Umar went to Hafsa. He found her weeping. He enquired of her whether the Holy Prophet had divorced her. She said that she did not know. Umar rebuked her saying. “Did I not warn you before hand that by annoying the Holy Prophet you would be inviting trouble?” Thereupon Hafsa burst into violent sobs. Umar left her weeping and went to the Prophet’s Mosque. There the people were sitting in groups here and there and were lamenting that the Holy Prophet had divorced his wives.
The Holy Prophet was in the cell attached to the Mosque. Umar went to thc cell, and asked the slave at the door to seek the Holy Prophei’s permission to his admittance. The slave returned to say that he had sought the requisite permission from the Holy Prophet but he had kept quiet.
Umar returned to the main hall of the Mosque, and sat in a corner in a dejected mood. After some time he rose and went again to the ceil of the Holy Prophet. Once again he requested the slave to get permission for his admittance. The slave returned to say that the Holy Prophet had made no reply
Urnar returned once again to the main hall of the Mosque. He was highly upset and he prayed to God for mercy. Then once again he went to the cell of the Holy Prophet. This time he was allowed permission. Entering the cell, Umar said:
“O Messenger of God, I have not come to plead for Hafsa.
If that is your pleasure I would wring her neck with my own hands.”
That softened the Holy Prophet and he smiled at the words of Umar.
Umar further said, “I find that in Mecca our ladies were docile; the climate of Madina has made them assertive. O Prophet of God if because of the impudence of your wives, you have divorced them, God, His angels, and all your followers are with you.”
The Holy Prophet smiled and said, “Be assured, I have not divorced my wives. I have only decided to remain separate from them for a period of one month.”
“Then may I tell so to Hafsa”, said Umar.
The Holy Prophet said. “You may, if you like”.
Umar cast a glance across the room. The Holy Prophet lay on a bare mat. There was no furniture in the room. There was hardly anything for the Holy Prophet to eat, but a barley bread. Seeing this extreme state of austerity, tears began to trickle from the eyes of Umar.
The Holy Prophet said, “Ibn-i-Khattab, what makes you weep ?”
Umar said, “You are the Prophet of God and you are living in such straitened circumstances. The people of Persia and Byzantine live in luxury. O Prophet of God why don’t you pray to God that he should bestow wealth on you?”
The Holy Prophet said. “Do you think He Who made me His Prophet could not make me wealthy. Indeed He offered me the keys of all treasures in the world, but I refused them in return for the treasures in the next world. Surely treasures in the next world are to be preferred to petty wealth in this world. And as for the riches of Persia and Byzantinc rest assured all such wealth will lie at the feet of the Muslims. I will not be alive then, but in your lifetime, both Persia and Byzantine will be overpowered by the Muslims.”