Did Umar bin Al-Khattāb really gather the Muslims together and protest in the streets of Makkah?

There is a narration the Ikhwānis and political agitators rely on and utilise to support the permissibility of street demonstrations: That which is ascribed to ʿUmar bin Al-Khattāb (may Allah be pleased with him) that when he embraced Islām, he said to the Messenger (ﷺ),

“By the One who sent you with the truth, we will indeed go out [and make our Islam apparent]. So we went out in two rows, Hamza in one, and myself in the other, with dust rising from the ground until we entered the Masjid. Quraish gazed at me and at Hamzah― and they were struck with depression the like of which they had never experienced before.”

This narration is often quoted because it is mentioned by the author of “Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum”, who in turn referenced it from Ibn Al-Jawzi who cited it in his “Tārīkh ‘Umar bin Al-Khattāb” (p. 6-7). For many years, Ahlul-Bid’ah have quoted this narration and claimed that it is a proof for protesting against the rulers. So, let us discuss the narration from the viewpoint of report and authenticity:

The report: It is reported by Abu Nu’aym in “Al-Hilyah” (1/40) with his chain of narration, saying: Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Hasan narrated to us saying: Muhammad bin Uthmān bin Abi Shaybah narrated to us saying: Abdul-Hameed bin Sālih narrated to us saying: Muhammad bin Abān narrated from Ishāq bin Abdillāh from Abān bin Sālih from Mujāhid from Ibn ‘Abbās from ‘Umar bin Al-Khattāb. And Abu Nu’aym narrated it “Ad-Dalā’il” (194)― so this is the chain of narration (isnād). The authenticity of the report is based on this isnād.

Authenticity: Before accepting a narration, it must be established that every narrator (in the isnād) took from the narrator before him until the source of the report is reached (i.e. all the way to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattāb). Also that each and every narrator has reached a level of trustworthiness and precision such that his reporting of the narration is acceptable.

The problem in this narration lies in the narrator Ishāq bin Abdillāh. His full name is mentioned by Al-Mizzi in “Tahdhīb Al-Kamāl” (2/57/362) as “Ishāq bin Abdillāh bin Abi Farwah who narrated from Abān bin Sālih.” Here’s what some of the scholars of Hadīth (the Muhaddithūn) and Imāms of the science of Al-Jarh wat-Ta’dīl have said about him:

  • An-Nasā’i in “Ad-Du’afā wal-Matrūkīn” (no. 50): “His hadīth are abandoned.”
  • Ibn Hajr said in “Sharhun-Nukhbah” (p. 69): “The method of An-Nasā’i is that he would not abandon the hadīth of a man until everyone had gathered to abandon his hadīth.”
  • Al-Bukhāri said in “Ad-Du’afā Al-Kabīr” (no. 20): “Ishāq bin Abdillāh bin Abi Farwah: They abandoned him.”
  • Ad-Dāruqutni said about him in “Ad-Du’afā wal-Matrūkīn” (no. 94): “Abandoned.”
  • Ibn Hibbān said in “Al-Majrūhīn” (1/141): “He would alter chains of narration and ascribe Mursal reports (disconnected at the point of a Tābi’ī) to the Messenger (ﷺ). Ahmad bin Hanbal would forbid people from accepting his narrations.” (Dār As-Sumay’ī print, 2000C/1420H)
  • Ibn Abi Hātim said in “Al-Jarh wat-Ta’dīl” (2/228, no. 792) said: “I heard my father say: Ishāq bin Abdillāh bin Abi Farwah: his hadīth are abandoned.” He also narrated from Yahya bin Ma’īn that he said: “Ishāq bin Abi Farwah is nothing― he’s a liar.”
  • Ibn ‘Udiyy (d. 365H) mentioned many statements of the scholars criticising the reports of Ishāq bin Abdillāh bin Abi Farwah in “Al-Kāmil” (vol. 1/pp. 530-535) and then said: “His chains of narration (asānīd) and the texts he narrates (mutūn) cannot be supported (or followed up) by other narrations.” (Dār Al-Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyyah edition, Beirut, Lebanon) He reports that Imām Ahmad bin Hanbal said: “I hold that it is not permissible to narrate from Ishāq bin Abī Farwah.” Ali bin Abdillāh said: “Mālik would not write in his books [the narrations of] Ibn Abī Farwah.” Ali said: “His reports are reprehensible (munkar)…”― and so on.

Conclusion: This narration cannot be used as proof due to it being very weak and inauthentic because in the chain of narration is an abandoned narrator who we have identified as Ishāq bin Abdillāh bin Abi Farwah. So it cannot be relied upon.

Al-Imām Al-Albāni said: “It’s chain of narration is very weak (da’īf jiddan).” Then he mentions several Imāms of Hadīth who criticised the narrations of Ibn Abī Farwah. (See Silsilatul-Ahādīth Ad-Da’īfah wal-Mawdū’ah, vol. 14, p. 73, no. 6531)

So demonstrations, marches and rallies are not from the Prophetic Sunnah as we’ve mentioned many times― even worse are those demonstrations that gather within them further innovations and chaos such as carrying of provocative placards, waving of banners, the burning of effigies and flags, chanting of slogans and singing of songs, throwing of stones, the burning of vehicles and rioting― where women and men freely mix with one another, even linking arms!

As for the ignoramuses among Ahlul-Bid’ah who claim: “Every means is permitted in rectifying the affairs of Ummah unless there is a text forbidding it.” Then we respond by saying: Whatever you do that has no proof from the Quran and Sunnah, nor in the conduct of the Sahābah, then it is rejected by Allah and it is misguidance and loss.

Then they argue that demonstrations and protests ‘seem’ to bear fruit, so it is therefore justified Islamically― but this assertion is in contradiction to the Islamic principles and the ijmā’. The Prophet (ﷺ) stated: “Whoever innovates into this affair of ours that which is not from it, then it is rejected.” (Bukhāri, 2697). And there occurs in a variant wording: “Whoever does an action which is not in conformity with our affair, it is rejected.” (Muslim, 1718). So we refute these demonstrations and those who ignorantly try to justify them.

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