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Umm Kulthoom bint Muhammad (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa)

Umm Kulthoom RA

In the Quraysh assembly, they used to say, “Muhammad has only daughters”. They said that in total oblivion of Allah’s great divine wisdom that has many aspects and goals and full of immense meanings. They forgot that they were people of ignorance and that they are, as Allah describes them: “And when the news of [the birth of] a female [child] is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief. He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonour or bury her in the earth? …) (Surah Nahl/16, v: 58-59)
They forgot that they were idol worshippers and were oblivious of the fact that there is only One Lord Who decrees and creates whatever He wishes. “To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female [offspring] upon whom He
wills, and bestows male [offspring] upon whom He wills. Or He bestows both males and females, and He renders barren whom He wills. Verily, He is the All-Knower and is Able to do all things”. (Surah ash-Shuraa/42, v: 49-50)

Khadeejah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) and the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) had a new bouncing and beautiful baby girl. She was their third daughter and was named Umm Kulthoom. She had a gradual but steady grow and she became an excellent companion for her sister Ruqayyah. As we have mentioned earlier, they were like a set of twins. They were married to Abu Lahab’s sons but were then returned to their father after he had been chosen as a Rasool of Allah. And that was better for them. For both of them escaped from a horrible life with the bearer of thorns. As for Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa), she was soon married to the noble and virtuous ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) with whom she migrated to Abyssinia.

Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) remained with her younger sister, Faatimah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) in their father’s house in Makkah. Both her sisters Ruqayyah and Zaynab (radiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) were already married. She was assisting her mother, Khadeejah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) in shouldering the household responsibilities, easing the impacts of the Quraysh’s persecution on her father with her love and compassion. Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) lived with her father during the severest periods of persecution and the hardest conditions in the cause of calling people to Islam and the cruelest days of the message.

Despite all the persecution; slander; killing and imprisonment, Islam found its way and progress though the disbelievers hated that. The Muslims never boycotted the Quraysh. Rather, they lived the Qurayshi life with their normal relationships were with the Quraysh. The only difference was that the Muslims were unique with their belief and manners without creating any negative or rigid estrangement. This caused the obstinate tribalism and misleading ignorance on the part of the Quraysh that prevented them from accepting Islam. Therefore, the Quraysh wanted to turn the tide of this siege against the Muslims and decided to impose economic and social sanction on the Muslims. They gathered together and decided to sever all ties with the Muslims and members of the Banu Hashim clan – the Prophet’s (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) immediate clan.

This boycott – in that time – was of the most vindictive forms of deprivation and economic and social war. To show how serious they were on this decision, the Quraysh wrote a document in this regard and hung it on the interior wall of the Ka’bah. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) was then forced out, along with his family and followers and the Banu Hashim to the valley of Abu TaIib was situated on the outskirts of Makkah. Most of the city’s outskirts were arid deserts in which there was no plant or water. The Muslims and Banu Hashim, therefore, lived in a place whose surface was harsh, suffering from scorching sun during the day and biting cold of the night. They lived in tents they erected for themselves. There, they lived in the most difficult form of embargo. They suffered the pangs of hunger so much so that some of them used to eat leaves of the trees. They remained in this heartbreaking situation for about three years.

Sometimes, food was smuggled to them, especially by some Makkans who had relatives among them. One day, Abu Jahl noticed that Hakeem ibn Hizam ibn Khuwaylid was walking secretly, carrying wheat to his aunt, Khadeejah while a boy was accompanying him. Abu Jahl caught him and shouted, “Are you carrying food to Banu Hashim?! By Allah! I will not allow you and your food to leave here until I expose you in Makkah!” Hisham ibn ‘Amr ibn Rabee‘ah al-‘Amiri was one of the Makkans, pained by the injustice and torment from which the Muslims were suffering. He would come with a camel loaded with food every night and release him at the entrance of the valley and strike him in the side. The camel would then enter into the valley and the Banu Hashim would receive him as if it was a blessing that Allah sent to them from the heaven.

How did they bring water to that arid place, how did they get their meals and what did they eat? Had the boycott lasted for only few days, the answer to the above questions would have been easy, but they lived there for three years! It is from here that we know how cruel and how inhumane the boycott was. This choking atmosphere had an adverse effect on many Muslims physically, psychologically and socially. A prominent manifestation of this evil effect was Khadeejah’s (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) illness.

Umm Kulthoom’s (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) role became manifest here, for she took care of her mother with all the experience, love and compassion that she possessed. In addition to this onerous and time-consuming task, she was also responsible for taking care of her younger sister, Faatimah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). Umm Kulthoom’s (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) spent three years of her youthful life in struggle, patience and perseverance. Therefore, she suitably deserved the title: ‘The Confined of the Valley’.

A careful review of the life of Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) would show us that she had the bitterest experience and trial. Though Umm Kulthoom did not migrate to Abyssinia and face the pain of being away from homeland and family, she had suffered what was greater than that migration and exile. Her parents were living in sadness and pain. Her sister, Zaynab and her husband were in Makkah and she could do nothing to help them. Her childhood and life companion, Ruqayyah was away in a foreign land. Her mother, Khadeejah – mother of the faithful- was in a struggle with death in a severe illness; and the little Faatimah needed care and support! Throughout these periods, Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) shouldered some of the greatest responsibilities. Yet, she was patient hoping to get her reward from Allah. She alleviated the sufferings, pains and sorrows of her father and she consoled her mother with these soothing words, “You won’t be any harm, mother!”

A long three years passed and one day Abu Talib came to the valley and gave his nephew and the other chiefs of Quraysh a good tiding that the boycott had been ended and the document tom down. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) was very happy to hear this and he conveyed the good news to members of his household and the Muslims. And they all returned to Makkah, with their faith and certainty in Allah greatly reinforced. Their trail had increased them in closeness to Allah, and their bitter tribulation refined them and strengthened their resolve. The blockade had weakened the gallant lady, Khadeejah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). She lay down on her bed in Makkah expecting the day that she would meet Allah. It did not take long before she breathed her last.

Her daughters, Zaynab, Umm Kulthoom and Fatimah stood round her having a final look at their mother’s bright and beautiful face. That was on the tenth day of Ramadaan in the tenth year of Nabuwwah (Prophethood). The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) buried her with own noble hands at a place in Makkah called al-Hujoon. He then returned home sad.
He hugged his daughters, Umm Kulthoom and Faatimah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) consoled them and tried to alleviate their pains and agony. The responsibility of Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) increased. She was now the main mistress of the Prophet’s noble household. And she played the role excellently. She had to. For she is the daughter of the leader of all the women of mankind and the lady, Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa).

Umm Kulthoom and Faatimah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) remained in Makkah for their safety. When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) arrived at Madeenah, he sent his servant, Zayd ibn Haarithah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) to Makkah to bring his daughters. They moved to al-Hujoon, bade farewell to their mother’s grave and headed for Madeenah.

Two years that were full of great events passed after the migration. During these two years, Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) witnessed the return of her father victorious from the battle of Badr. She also witnessed the death of her dear sister and companion Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). At the onset of the third year, her heart was still clouded with sorrow. But she would notice ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) come to her father to receive condolence, advice and support over the death of his precious wife, Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). She would also notice how the tears that rolled down his cheeks expressed his distress and grief.

One day, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) came to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) enraged and complaining. When the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) asked him of the matter, he informed him that he offered his daughter, Hafsah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) who had just been widowed, in marriage to Abu Bakr and ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhumaa) and that both of them rejected. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) soothed him and said: “Hafsah will marry someone who is better than ‘Uthmaan and ‘Uthmaan will marry someone who is better than Hafsah.” And the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) later married Hafsah, and he was definitely better than ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu). The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) then addressed ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu), “I am giving you Umm Kulthoom – Ruqayyah’s sister in marriage. If they had been ten girls, I would have married them to you”. And Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) was also better than Hafsah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) was given the honourable title of ‘Dhu-an-Nurain’ meaning the ‘Possessor of Two Lights’ referring to the two daughters of Rasoolullah Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam)- Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa).

The marriage of Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) to ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) was contracted on the same bridal gift (mahr) as that of her sister, Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) and other women of her status. She lived with ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) for six years and saw how the glory of Islam reached the peak of power. She witnessed her father moving from one battle to another victorious, and her husband as a selfless warrior who fought with his life and wealth.

In the month of Dhul-Qa’dah, 6 A.H, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) set out on his camel, Qaswa and led a group of about one thousand four to five hundred men travelling to Makkah to perform ‘Umrah. They bore no arms except only swords in their scabbards. The Quraysh accosted them and violently prevented them from entering Makkah though the Muslims had reached Hudaybiyyah – the place of a dried well that is between Makkah and Madeenah but closer to Makkah. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) told his in-law, ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu): “Go to the Quraysh and tell them that we have not come to fight anyone. We only came to visit the House, honouring its sacredness and bringing with us the sacrifice. And we shall leave”. The heart of Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) trembled in sympathy with her beloved husband. She did not want the Quraysh to harm or betray him. When ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) did not return after a long waiting, a rumour spread among the people that he had been killed. This frightened Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa), and she cried and moaned.

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) quickly called the Muslims to give the Pledge of Acceptance (Bay’at ar-Ridwaan). He took the pledge on behalf of ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) striking his left hand on the right and saying, “This is on behalf of ‘Uthmaan. For he is out on an assignment in the way of Allah and His Messenger”.

How happy she was when he returned! He had told her as a husband would tell his wife of all that he faced while he was away. While the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) greatly appreciated ‘Uthmaan’s (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) pride in Islam, his pure Eeman and his unyielding stand regarding the Quraysh’s enticement, his wife, Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) also increased in her respect and love for her husband.

When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) had accomplished the Conquest of Makkah in the year 8 A.H, Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) yearned to visit the grave of her compassionate mother, Khadeejah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). She discussed the matter with her husband and father, and both agreed. But she could not fulfil that desire, for she passed away in the prime of her youth, during the month of Sha’baan 9 A.H.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) buried her beside the remains of her beloved sister, Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). Both of them were brought together, by Allah’s decree, in the house of ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) and both of them were sheltered by one grave!

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) stood beside the grave of his two daughters, with his eyes filled with tears and his heart burdened with successive sorrows. “Say Exalted is my Lord! Was I ever but a human messenger?!”
May Allah be pleased with Umm Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) the Prophet’s (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) daughter and the Confined Lady of the Valley! May Allah let her reside in the abode of His righteous and pious servants!

Source- “Women Around the Messenger” by Muhammad ‘Ali Qutb

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