Ruqayyah bint al Rasul
Just as the rays of the prophethood of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lit up the horizon, the rays of guidance and divine light shone through from Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha. A woman of Islam, an embodiment of taqwa. She was born and raised before the mission of prophethood was conferred onto Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Her attributes and qualities like that of her mother, Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, unique in the pure house of nubuwwah which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had cleansed from all impurities.
Dear reader, have you any knowledge of this exceptional woman? Have you heard the stories of her patience, sacrifice and unwavering faith? Let us journey through her life perhaps we may find solace and strength.
She is the second daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the daughter of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha who herself was an extraordinary woman of incredibly high status. Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha accepted Islam with her sisters and mother and pledged allegiance to her father when the women pledged their allegiance. She holds the great fortune of being amongst those who undertook both emigrations, to Abyssinia and then to Madinah.
When she and her sister Umm Kulthum reached a marriable age ‘Utbah and ‘Utaybah the sons of ‘Abdul ‘Uzza (Abu Lahab) sent proposals for them. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam agreed to the union as they were his uncle’s sons, however, unfortunately both these marriages did not last. As soon as Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam announced his prophethood and began calling to the creed of Islam the Quraysh began their persecutions and openly waged war against the Muslims. They began to impede on the personal, family life of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as well with Abu Lahab taking an oath of excommunication if his sons did not divorce the daughters of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. And so, they did before having consummated the marriage.
How cruel an injustice was this divorce, which was metered out unrightfully. Sayyidah Ruqayyah however, bore it with patience and iman, having firm faith in Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala she returned to the home of her father. The concern and worry of calling towards Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala engulfed her just as it did her father and so too did the persecutions of the disbelievers. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala recompensed her handsomely with a husband pious, noble and handsome. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, a companion blessed with the glad tidings of Jannat.
When the persecutions of the polytheists grew severe, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded those who could to emigrate to the land of Abyssinia wherein ruled a just King who would not tolerate oppression. A group of Muslims taking the courage left for this far off land with ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his wife Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha being the first to emigrate in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. They established themselves there and lived in harmony and happiness welcoming their first child with joy, ‘Abdullah.
After some time, false propaganda was circulated citing the end of the persecutions of the Quraysh and the Islam of many. The emigrants none the wiser, yearning to return to their home land without delay undertook the journey to Makkah only to arrive to the Quraysh having doubled in their efforts of persecuting the Muslims. Amongst those that returned were ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha. A second blow to Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha was coming back to Makkah to realize her mother, the blessed Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha had left this world and returned to her Lord. Her response was a display of great patience. Not long after, they together with the other Muslims undertook the second emigration to Madinah Munawwarah.
In the blessed city of Madinah, Sayyidah Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha was honoured by being close to the Ansar, whom Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has described as noble and praised for preferring others over themselves. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala celebrated them in the Qur’an in the following words:
وَالَّذِيْنَ تَبَوَّءُوْا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيْمَانَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّوْنَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُوْنَ فِيْ صُدُوْرِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِّمَّا أُوْتُوْا وَيُؤْثِرُوْنَ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ وَمَنْ يُوْقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ
And [also for] those who were settled in al Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.
Unknown to her another trial awaited her in Madinah, the loss of her child. ‘Abdullah, six years old, was involved in an accident where a rooster had pierced his face which led to swelling and infection resulting in his death. Sayyidah Ruqayyah and her husband ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma pained at the loss shed tears, however, they endured patiently. The loss of the little ‘Abdullah was felt by his parents and his grandfather, Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The loss of her child and her life of hardship and heartache though faced with absolute patience took its toll on Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha and she fell ill. She was then afflicted with measles and was bed ridden for some time, during which her husband took good care of her seeing to her every need.
In the second year of the hijrah, the Muslims left for Badr to face the Quraysh in battle. The call to battle had ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu ready to fight and respond to the call of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but he was instructed by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to remain behind to see to his ailing wife who had reached the last stages of her life. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu without hesitation accepted this directive of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. After her long battle with the disease she left this worldly life to meet her Rabb. She was the first of the daughters to meet her mother Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha in the next life.
It is strange to note the circumstances of her life, her mother passed, and she was absent in Abyssinia, she passes, and her father is absent fighting at Badr raising the flag of Islam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not attend her burial as he was preoccupied in Badr. She was buried in the Baqi’ graveyard amidst the shedding of tears on her separation. The entire Madinah came out for her funeral. The earth on her grave was barely levelled when Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhu comes into Madinah spreading the news of victory in Badr. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then enters Madinah a bitter sweet return, bids farewell to his recently deceased daughter and prays for her.
May the choicest mercies of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala be showered upon her. An excellent daughter and an enviable spouse. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala be pleased with her.
 Tabaqat ibn Sa’ad, vol. 8 pg. 36
 ‘Utaybah is the only son of Abu Lahab that did not accept Islam and died as a polytheist. ‘Utbah and his brother Mu’attab both accepted Islam at the Conquest of Makkah. They did not emigrate to Madinah, however, they both participated in the Hunayn expedition and stood firm by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on that day fighting with the Ahlul Bayt and Companions. Mu’attab lost his eye in the same battle.
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 250; al Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 14 pg. 95.
 ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his wife Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha were amongst those who emigrated twice, to Abyssinia and then to Madinah.
 The kunya of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Abu ‘Abdullah is based on this child of theirs.
 Surah al Hashr: 9.
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 250; Tabaqat ibn Sa’ad, vol. 8 pg. 36.
 Al Isabah, vol. 4 pg. 298.
 ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was given a share of the spoils of war from Badr. He was counted as one of those who had participated.Back to top