Umm Hani’ bint Abi Talib

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Umm Hani’ bint Abi Talib

 

We now delve into the life of a noble woman of Hashimi, Qurashi decent. So famous by her teknonym, Umm Hani’ that there exists a difference of opinion regarding her birth name. Some say Fatimah, others say Hind whilst most opt for Fakhitah. She is the sister of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and Jafar al Tayyar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and was born to Fatimah bint al Asad radiya Llahu ‘anha. She was born in Makkah fifty years before the hijrah and is therefore a few years younger than Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She was a woman of exemplary character and eloquent speech. She grew up in the house of Abu Talib with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who had been taken in by his uncle after the demise of his grandfather. When she reached a marriageable age, Hubayrah ibn Wahb al Makhzumi, a nobleman of the Quraysh proposed for her hand in marriage which her father Abu Talib acceded to.

When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sent with his message of Islam her husband did not accept Islam and remained on his polytheistic faith due to which Umm Hani’ did not accept the creed at the time. She however would honour and revere Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam much and he would visit her at her home often, especially after the death of his uncle Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had plans to grant her an honour unmatched by beginning the journey of Mi’raj at her home. This journey from Makkah to Bayt al Maqdis and from there to the heavens began for Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whilst he was in the home of Umm Hani’. She says:

 

ما أسري برسول الله ﷺ إلا من بيتي نام عندي تلك الليلة بعد ما صلى العشاء الآخرة

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was taken on the journey to Bayt al Maqdis and beyond from my house. He slept at my home that night after praying ‘Isha.[1]

 

Mi’raj will forever be remembered with Umm Hani’ as a part of the incident. When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam woke the following morning with the intent of telling the Quraysh his journey into the heavens she grabbed hold of his garment, pleading with him not to, as she knew that they will most definitely reject and ridicule him. However, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam a pillar of strength and forbearance went out and did exactly as he had intended.[2]

Another night of great incident was spent at her home. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went to Taif calling its people and nobles to the faith in Islam, only to be rejected, belied, driven out and set upon by the urchins of the town who stoned him till his blessed feet bled and clogged his shoes. He returned from there injured and hurt, grieving over their aversion to the religion of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and went to the home of Umm Hani’ where he spent the night.

Her time to accept the creed came on the day Makkah was conquered by the Muslim army. Her husband hearing of the approaching army took to flee from the city and settled in Najran not accepting Islam. She stayed back and came into the fold of Islam with her sons. As the Muslim army marched on Makkah, in the splendour and glory Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had bestowed upon them, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forgave droves of people who had defied and tortured him and his Companions saying to them:

 

اذهبوا فانتم الطلقاء

Go, for you are free.

 

He, however, ordered some of the greatest oppressors to be killed on the same day even if they were found to be under the cloth of the Ka’bah. On that fateful day, Umm Hani’ radiya Llahu ‘anha came to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whilst he was bathing, when he saw her approaching he was overjoyed and welcomed her, thereafter performing eight raka’at of prayer. He then turned his attention to her. She said to him that she had given two of her polytheist family members a pledge of safety. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

قد اجرنا من اجرت يا ام هانئ

We have given safety to whoever you give safety Umm Hani’.[3]

 

In another narration the following words were used:

 

امنا من امنت

We give refuge to whoever you give refuge.[4]

 

Her brother, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu intended to kill these two, however, she blocked off his access and called upon Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who gave them refuge on her call. This is a right of a Muslim women, she can give refuge to whomsoever she wishes. Ibn al Mundhir says, “There is consensus that the refuge of a women is accepted. Only Ibn Majishun has gone against the mainstream and said it will not be permissible.”[5]

As is with Islamic law, when a spouse becomes a Muslim and the other remains on idol worship their marriage is terminated. So, too was the case of Umm Hani’ radiya Llahu ‘anha, she accepted Islam, however her husband refused to accept, instead fleeing to Najran as mentioned. Their marriage was therefore terminated. Seeing the circumstances surrounding her apparent lonesome life now, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intended to propose to her and see to her needs, she however excused herself saying, “I am advanced in age now and have a family to see to.”

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam accepted her excuse and commented:

 

خير نساء ركبن الإبل صالح نساء قريش أحناه على ولد في صغره وأرعاه على زوج في ذات يده

The best women among the camel riders, are the pious women of the Quraysh. They are the kindest women to their children in their childhood and look after the wealth of their spouses.[6]

 

This narration alludes to the superiority of the Qurayshi women over other Arab women[7] due to two reasons:

  1. Their love and compassion towards their children is unmatched. They would even forego a good proposal which would give them honour to stay with their orphaned children and see to their needs.
  2. The consideration they have towards their spouses and looking after his property, not squandering it.

My question to you respected sister and beloved mother, do you not wish to be the best of women? Which woman would not want this honour? Follow the footsteps of the women of the Quraysh and Umm Hani’ radiya Llahu ‘anha in their love for their children and consideration of their spouses. This is the teachings of our religion. It demands compassion emanate from a mother for her children and for her to sacrifice for her children in raising them to be flag bearers of the ummah. The poet has encapsulated this in the following words:

أكبادنا تمشي على الأرض

وإنما أولادنا بيننا
لامتنعت عـيني عن الغمض

لو هبت الريح على بعضهم

 Our children are pieces of our hearts; walking this earth

If the wind blows slightly; my eyes refuse to sleep worrying

 

This shower of love is true for a Muslim woman as opposed to the classic western woman who has been sucked into the material life, spending her days at work leaving the child to be raised by a surrogate bereft of spirituality.

As I read the biography of Umm Hani’ radiya Llahu ‘anha, my hair stands on end, she refused a proposal from the best of creation and passed on an opportunity of earning the title Umm al Mu’minin (Mother of the Believers) to devote herself fully to her children. She busied herself with worshipping her Lord and rearing her children in a pious Islamic environment. Her son, Ja’dah ibn Hubayrah, rose to be the governor of Khurasan in the era of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. She is a narrator of hadith and relates forty-six narrations from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She left this worldly abode in the 40th year after the hijrah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala be pleased with her.

 

NEXT⇒Hassan ibn Ali


[1] Sirah Ibn Hisham, vol. 2 pg. 272. This narration seems to be lacking as salah wasn’t obligatory at the time.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Sahih al Bukhari, 350; Sahih Muslim, 336.

[4] Abu Dawood, 2763. The author has not commented on it. Jami’ al Tirmidhi, 1597. The author has brought this narration in an abridged form and has attested to the authenticity of it. Musnad Imam Ahmed, 26936. Shu’ayb al Arnawut has commented that the chain of narration is authentic according to the conditions of Imam Muslim and in another place, 26951 he has commented that it is authentic according to the conditions of both Imam Muslim and Imam Bukhari rahimahu Llah. Al Albani has deemed it authentic besides the words, “We give refuge.” See al Silsilah al Sahihah, 2049.

[5] Kitab al Ijma, pg. 62.

[6] Sahih al Bukhari, 3251; Sahih Muslim, 2527. The narration of Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

[7] Ibn Hajar has written in Fath al Bari, women that ride camels here refer to the Arabs as they are habitual of this. And they are as a general law better than others therefore their women will enjoy the same privilege.