Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali

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Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali

 

Continuing with our theme of great personalities of the Ahlul Bayt, I present to you a noble woman whose husband, father, and grandfather took part in the battle of Badr! Her father is ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, her husband ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and her grandfather Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She is Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim. The sister of Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, and the daughter of Fatimah al Zahra bint Muhammad radiya Llahu ‘anha. She was born during the era of prophethood around the 6th year of the hijrah. Abu ‘Amr ibn ‘Abdul Barr says, “She was born prior to the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, she saw him however she did not narrate from him due to her young age.”

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu for the hand of Umm Kulthum in marriage, frequently visiting ‘Ali’s house on this matter.

He told ‘Ali, “O Abu al  Hassan, what has made me to come to you time and again is a saying which I heard from the Prophet of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that:

ينقطع يوم القيامة كل سبب ونسب إلا سببي ونسبي

All ties and relations will be severed on the day of Qiyamah besides my ties and relations.

I wish to place myself in the Prophet’s lineage through this marriage.”

‘Ali said, “She is young, and I have kept her for Jafar’s son.”

‘Umar said, “Marry her to me! I shall observe her dignity more than anyone else.” And in one narration ‘Umar said the following, “There is no man who seeks to achieve through her good companionship that which I seek to achieve.”

‘Ali said, “I will send her to you, if you like her, I shall marry her to you.”

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu then sent the girl with a piece of cloth and told her to say [to ‘Umar] ‘This is the scarf that I was talking about’. She conveyed these words to ‘Umar, who said, “Tell your father that I am pleased, I am pleased, I am pleased, may Allah be pleased with you.”

When she returned to her father, he asked her what the Amir al Mu’minin had said? She replied that he expressed his pleasure, upon which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu married her to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Thereupon, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu went over to the Muhajirin near the pulpit of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, where the early Muhajirin used to gather. Addressing them, he said, “Will you not congratulate me.”

They said, “What for, O Amir al Mu’minin?”

He said, “I have married Umm Kulthum, the daughter of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. I heard the Prophet of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say:

ينقطع يوم القيامة كل سبب ونسب إلا سببي ونسبي

All ties and relations will be severed on the day of Qiyamah besides my ties and relations. (In another narration, relationship of in-laws are mentioned too).[1]

I was related to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but I wish to place myself in the Prophet’s lineage through this marriage.”[2]

 

Truly this incident displays the great lineage of this noble woman and reminds us of a narration wherein Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam indicates the honour of his lineage and family over all others.[3] This hadith holds the Ahlul Bayt in a special light and speaks volumes of the greatness of this woman, Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anha.

The blessed union was finalised. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu married Umm Kulthum with a dowry of forty thousand dirhams, paying his respects to her and her parents. A token of appreciation for her great lineage. Hafiz ibn Kathir writes:

 

‘Umar ibn al Khattab married Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib [daughter of Fatimah] during his reign as the khalifah. He honoured her greatly giving a dowry of forty thousand dirhams as s token of appreciation for her great lineage.[4]

شوقا الي النسب الذي لا يغلب

وانظر الي الفاروق يطرق بابها
والطيبات لهن بر طيب

فرحت به الكلثوم زوجا طاهرا

‘Umar knocking on the door of her graciousness; yearning for the lineage that is above all others,

Umm Kulthum joyous on this occasion a pure wife; pure women beget pure men.

 

Ibn Sa’d has mentioned a peculiar yet encouraging incident that took place between these two spouses. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu entered the house one day and found his beloved wife Umm Kulthum crying. When inquiring from her the reason of her sobbing she said, “Ka’b al Ahbar is saying that you are a door of Jahannam!”

Now, we know that Ka’b al Ahbar was a Jewish scholar and held knowledge regarding the previous holy books. He accepted Islam after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he was an excellent Muslim. He came to the city of Madinah from Yemen during the era of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and would sit with the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and inform them of the Israeli scriptures.

He once addressed them mentioning some of the qualities of the Sahabah mentioned in those books. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says in the Qur’an:

 

مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِيْنَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُوْنَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا سِيْمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوْهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُوْدِ ذٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِيْ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِيْ الْإِنجِيْلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوْقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيْظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوْا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُمْ مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيْمًا

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them, so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.[5]

 

In the previous scriptures there was descriptions of the khalifah of the Muslims, ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Back to our story, the news reached the ears of Umm Kulthum radiya Llahu ‘anha that her husband ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is standing at the doorway of Jahannam. She was taken aback and distressed by this revelation of Ka’b al Ahbar due to the intense love she held for her husband. When ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu heard this from his wife he was amused and said. “As Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala wishes, however I have high hope in my Lord that he has created me a fortunate soul.” He then sent for Ka’ab al Ahbar. When he arrived ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him regarding the comments he had heard.

 

Ka’b al Ahbar replied, “O Amir al Mu’minin you will definitely enter Jannat!”

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “What is this folly, you reserve a place for me in Jannat at times and at others in Jahannam”

Ka’b al Ahbar countered, “O Amir al Mu’minin, I swear by the being in whose control lay my life, we find you in the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala standing at the doorway of Jahannam preventing people from falling in, at your demise people will begin to fall therein head first till the day of Qiyamah.”[6]

 

When Umm Kulthum heard the full explanation of his statement she was pleased beyond measure and returned to her normal jovial state. She realised the intent of Ka’b al Ahbar was to indicate that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a screen from people entering in the pit of hell.

This beautiful couple had two children, Zaid and Ruqayyah. Zaid was from amongst the prominent personalities of the Quraysh, as al Dhahabi has mentioned in his Siyar. He, on one occasion went to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a delegation, who honoured him and stipulated for him hundred thousand dirhams per annum. Zaid was proud of his high lineage and would say, “I am the son of two khalifahs.”[7] His father being ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his maternal grandfather ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He had been blessed by two great lineages, one stemming from ‘Umar the other from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. His pride was not misplaced nor was it phony.

Unfortunately, Zaid ibn ‘Umar ibn al Khattab did not enjoy the nuances of old age as he passed away in the prime of his life. A conflict between the Banu ‘Adi clan led them to take up arms at Baqi’ in the dark of the night. Zaid ibn ‘Umar headed towards them to enact peace and prevent them from fighting. Whilst there he became a statistic of collateral damage. He was wounded in his head and fell of his conveyance. Once people realised what had occurred they began shouting, Zaid! Zaid! They dispersed, and he was taken home bloodied from the wound. This ultimately led to his death around the 50th year of the hijrah.

Some have noted that he and his mother both fell ill and passed away on the same day, at the same moment. They were put together in the bier and he was placed closer to the Imam when the funeral prayer was being performed. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu performed the funeral prayer as Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to him, “Go forward and pray upon your brother and mother.”[8] Zaid being his paternal brother and Umm Kulthum his father’s wife who held the status of a mother in relation to him.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir ibn Rabi’ah eulogizes Zaid in the following couplets:[9]

تكشفوا عن رجل صريع

ان عـديـاً ليلة البقيع
ادركه شؤم بني مطيع

مقاتل في الحسب الرفيع

The ‘Adi in the night of Baqi’; from a fallen man

Killed, of high counting; tragic clan conflict his end

 

NEXT⇒Zainab bint Ali


[1] Hafiz al Haythami has commentated in Majma’, al Tabarani has narrated an abridged form of this hadith in Awsat and Kabir and the narrators are of the Sahih besides Hassan ibn Sahl who is trustworthy. Al Albani has commented on its veracity in al Silsilah al Sahihah, 2036 with all its chains of narrations.

[2] Usd al Ghabah vol. 5 pg. 615.

[3] Referencing of this narration will follow.

[4] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 5 pg. 330.

[5] Surah al Fath: 29.

[6] Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 3 pg. 332.

[7] Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 19 pg. 485.

[8] Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 19 pg. 489; Al Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 15 pg. 24. This narration however is muddied by the narration of Sa’id ibn Mansur who narrates from Sha’bi that the Amir of Madinah led their funeral prayers. Al Bayhaqi has it that the Amir at the time was Sa’id ibn al As. The author of al ‘Ilal wa Ma’rifah al Rijal has raised the same concerns. Refer to it for further reading.

[9] Al Isti’ab, vol. 3 pg. 931; Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 19 pg. 485.