It was narrated from ‘Abdullah that some people came to ‘Abdullah ibn Masood (radi Allah anhu) and said: “A man among us married a woman, but he did not name a dowry for her, and he did not have intercourse with her before he died (So what is due from her and what is owed to her)” ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (radi Allah anhu) said: ‘Since I left the Messenger of Allah I have never been asked a more difficult question than this. Go to someone else.’ They kept coming to him for a month, then at the end of that they said: ‘Who shall we ask if we do not ask you? You are one of the most prominent Companions of Muhammad in this land and we cannot find anyone else.’ He said: ‘I will say what I think, and if it is correct then it is from Allah alone, with no partner, and if it is wrong then it is from me and from the Shaitan, and Allah and His Messenger have nothing to do with it. I think she should be given a dowry like that of her peers and no less, with no injustice, and she may inherit from him, and she has to observe the ‘Iddah, four months and ten days.'” He said: “And that was heard by some people from Ashja’, who stood up and said: ‘We bear witness that you have passed the same judgment as the Messenger of Allah did concerning a woman from among us who was called Birwa’ bint Washiq.'” He said: “Abdullah was never seen looking so happy as he did on that day, except with having accepted Islam.”
(Sunan al-Nasai’ – Sahih)
Sheikh ‘Abdullah al-jarfali (hafidhahullah), commented on this hadith during his class on umdat al-fiqh and said the following which was very beneficial. Here is the translation of the sheikh’s words:
“Abdullah ibn Masood (radi Allah anhu), resorted to his own ijtihad (legal reasoning) for the question he was asked as he did not know the hukm (ruling), i.e., he was unaware that the Prophet ﷺ had already given the ruling on this matter. So he said I will tell you what I think is right and then said with regards to the lady, what is due from her is that she should observe iddah. As for what is owed to her, they are two things, she has the right to her dowry which should be equal to those of her status and she also has the right to her inheritance (i.e., she inherits from her husband). This is when the man from the tribe of ashja’ stood up and said that I bear witness that you have judged exactly the way the Prophet ﷺ judged in the matter of barwa’ bint washiq. Upon hearing this, it caused ‘Abdullah ibn mas’ood (radi Allah anhu) much happiness.
And in this is a great benefit, which is that the righteous slave is always guided and he attains correctness in the deen. And there is no doubt that ‘Abdullah ibn mas’ood is from the best of creations of Allah after the Prophets and the Messengers. And this is why the Prophet ﷺ commanded his companions to learn the Qur’an from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood. And he was a great faqeeh (jurist), a great aalim (scholar) of both the Qur’an and the Sunnah, may Allah be pleased with him.
Thus he resorted to his ijtihad (juristic reasoning) and when he did so, he was rightly guided. In this is a clear indication that anyone who wishes for such goodness, must establish a good, righteous relationship between himself and Allah azza wa jal. And Allah ﷻ says, “And fear Allah. And Allah teaches you” (Surah al-Baqarah: 282).
And thus from the biggest causes for victory and honor lies in Allah’s saying “…and say: “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge”(Surah Taha: 114). Thus it is upon the taalib al-‘ilm to establish a beautiful relationship with Allah, the strength of which is better than any relationship he has with anybody else. It is upon him to show his utter poverty and vulnerability in front of Allah, placing it between his Hands ﷻ, making du’a and glorfying Him in his heart, exclaiming His Magnificence and His Highness. This will cause Allah to open doors for him. And ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (radi Allah anhu)….there is no doubt as to his status in Islam, his goodness, his piety and his knowledge of the Qur’an.
The second point of benefit is that it’s not proper to hasten and make it one’s concern with giving fatwa to people (Just like ‘abdullah ibn mas’ood radi Allah anhu refused to answer the query for nearly a month until they searched everywhere and finally came back to him). (The responsibility of fatwa is a test) and thus if he is tested with this burden and there is none other than him to give fatwa, then he will find the ability to cope with it from Allah ﷻ. And the sahabah used to push people away from them when they came seeking a fatwa. Whenever a questioner used to come with a query to any one of the sahabah they used to direct him to another sahabi, then to another, then to another and so on and so forth until the man would return back to the first sahabi he questioned. There is no doubt that this isn’t found in anyone except in the one who fears Allah ﷻ much in his heart and is fully aware that issuing a fatwa isn’t as easy as it appears.”