Ruqayyah was born after her sister Zaynab. She was also a source of happiness for her noble parents. Soon afterwards, Umm Kulthoom was born, and both of them grew together as if they were twins. Their closeness to one another greatly increased especially since their eldest sister, Zaynab had married and moved to her matrimonial home. They then became ever more closed and more attached to each other. It is as if both of them had been destined for the same fate from the beginning to the end. The books of Seerah testified to this unique closeness that was between them, for, all historical narrations agreed on the fact that the two noble sisters – Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthoom – shared almost everything in common.
Both her and her sister Ummu Kulthoom (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) were married to the sons of Abu Lahab, ‘Utaybah and ‘Utbah respectively. It was true that Abu Lahab was a bitter enemy of his nephew, but divorcing the two women was considered a shameful act at that time. Thus when the Quraish asked this of him, Abu Lahab hesitated and remained silent. They suspected what was going on in his mind, so they left him to the devices of his wife, Umm Jameel bint Harb, who was carrying the banner of animosity against Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) and his religion. As soon as Umm Jameel rebuked her husband for his delay in carrying out the plan, he immediately submitted and forgot all the noble motives of preserving blood ties. Umm Jameel called her sons and said to them, “Listen to what the elders of your tribe want to tell you.” They said, “We hear and obey.”
Though the marriage had not yet been consummated, the two young ladies returned to their father’s house with great distress and sorrow. Abu Lahab and his wife, the wood-carrier, did not stop at bothering of the Muslims and harming them; they also extremely hurt Prophet of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam).
“The era of sleep is over, O Khadeejah!” Prophet of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) announced to his loving and sincere wife. The vicious attack against him and his Companions had been intensified, especially against the weak ones. In fact, the two young ladies felt a fundamental change in the house. Their house was now surrounded with cruelty from all angles. It had become the main target of persectition, torment and mocking. These two ladies endured the situation with their parents, doing so as an act of worship for Allah. They bore it with perseverance, in the cause of Allah, pains, hardship and sacrifice. And they were refined
by this tribulation.
Allah later replaced both girls with two righteous husbands. He married Ruqayyah to ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) one of the ten promised Jannah (al-‘Asharah Mubashsharah).
‘Uthman was one of the most gracious Quraysh youths in terms of lineage, prestige and wealth.
The Quraysh mothers had a well-known lullaby they sung for their children. The lullaby revolved around ‘Uthmaan. It means: “By Allah, I love you as the Quraysh love ‘Uthmaan”. But when the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) gave his daughter, Ruqayyah to ‘Uthmaan in marriage the lullaby changed to what means: “The best two persons who met each other were Ruqayyah and her husband, ‘Uthmaan”. It was a traditional song that was on every tongue that was free of malice and hatred and uttered nothing but the truth.
Az-Zubayr reported in a hadith that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) sent a man with a gift to ‘Uthmaan and Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhum). The man then came back late. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) told the man, “Do you want me to inform you about what delayed you?” The man answered is the affirmative. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) then said, “You stood there looking at ‘Uthmaan and Ruqayyah admiring their beauty”.
When the Quraysh’s persecution of the Muslims intensified, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) permitted his Companions to migrate to Abyssinia in order to escape with their religion. He said “If only you could go to Abyssinia, for there is a king there who does not allow that anyone should be wronged in his presence. And it is the land of truth. If only you could go there until Allah provide a way out for you”.
‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) migrated in the company of his weeping, afraid and agonised wife, Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). She hugged her father, mother and sisters almost choking with sorrow and distress.
The distant between Makkah and Abyssinia was not short! There are, between the two lands, dry sand, scorching sun, deep sea and deserts and jungles. In addition to its farness, the road was also intractable and full of hardships. The emigrants spent days, months and years of their life yearning to go back to their homeland, despite the security, peace and freedom that they enjoyed. When they heard that Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib and ‘Umar (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhum) had accepted Islam, they were very happy. Some of them hastily returned to Makkah hoping to part take in shaping the future of the war that was raging in Makkah between the truth and falsehood or to see their missed families they had left for a long time.
Others opted to stay until the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) would permit them to come back home. This latter group was led by Ja’far ibn Abi Talib (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu). ‘Uthmaan and Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhum) were among those who decided to return. Hardly had they set their feet on the soil of the homeland and saw dwellings where they spent their youth that their eyes were filled with tears. However, the returning refugees were stunned by the increase in the Quraysh’s heartless persecution of the Muslims. So they were greatly disappointed. The saddest of these returnees was Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa). For, when she entered her father’s house and kissed her sisters, Umm Kulthoom and Faatimah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa), she anxiously asked of their great mother. Her sisters remained silent and did not respond to her question. Their tears served as the most vivid answer. Their mother, Khadeejah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) had passed away!
Ruqayyah wept profusely, and then she resigned her fate to Allah and accepted His decision and decree submissively. ‘Uthmaan and Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) did not stay long in Makkah. The Muslims migrated to Yathrib/Madeenah after the Ansaar – the Aws and Khazraj had given the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) their allegiance that they would support him and help his cause. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) himself followed them soon afterwards.
Two years before migration to Madeenah, Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) gave birth to her only child with ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu), ‘Abdullaah. The boy used to fill the life of his parents with happiness and joy. He was, in fact, a consolation for them for all the hardship they had suffered in days past. But the believer is always put to trial. One day, while ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Uthmaan was sleeping in his cradle, a rooster pecked him in the eyes. This led to an infection that claimed his life few days later.
Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) was struck with calamity and soon fell a victim of fever. Her loving and affectionate husband stayed by the side of his wife nursing her and invoking Allah to alleviate her suffering and make recover from her illness. While he was nursing his sick wife, the voice of the announcer who was calling on the emigrants and the helpers to come out and take part in accosting the caravan of the Quraysh that was on it’s way back from Syria reached him. He decided to go and respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam). But the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) commanded him to remain near his sick wife to care for her.
The struggle between life and death was fierce. Eventually, Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) breathed her last. At the same that the bereaved ‘Uthmaan (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) was kissing his wife’s forehead and fingertips and covering her face, the voice of the good news carrier could be heard outside announcing the Muslims’ victory. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) entered ‘Uthmaan’s house having been shocked by the news of his daughter’s death. He moved closer to her and sorrowfully bade her farewell. He sympathetically praised Faatimah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) who stood at her sister’s death-bed crying. He helped her on her feet gently and compassionately and he wiped her tears off with his noble garment. It was then that the sobbing of the women who were present became louder. ‘Umar (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) wanted to stop them but the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) held his hand and told him: “Whatever tears shed by the eyes and however much the heart grieves, that is from Allah. It is actions of the hands and words uttered by the tongue that come from Satan”.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) the bereaved father, performed funeral prayers on his daughter and followed her corpse to the Baqee until she was buried. Thereafter, he returned home and to his mosque carrying on with his struggle and delivering the message.
May Allah be pleased with Ruqayyah (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa), the Prophet’s daughter, the Lady of two emigrations and the wife of the Owner of Two Lights!
May He reward her for her faith, struggle, tribulations, and her perseverance with the best and the fullest reward.
Source- “Women around the Messenger” by Muhammad ‘Ali Qutb