The life of Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is not obscure nor is she part of the marginal notes in the books of history. She is the fourth daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the daughter of the master of mankind and the wife of one who had been given glad tidings of Jannat whilst he walked this earth. Her husband is ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu who is known as Dhu al Nurayn (possessor of two lights) as he had the great honour of marrying two of the daughters of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Our journey through the years of her life in these pages would perhaps be a means of envy to the other chapters of the book, a life pure and noble, a story phenomenal in its simplicity.
She is the daughter of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha and accepted Islam with her sisters and mother and pledged allegiance to her father when the women pledged their allegiance at the emergence of the light of the da’wah.
When she and her sister Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma 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 has already been mentioned. 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.
Abu Lahab said:
رأسي من رأسكما حرام إن لم تطلقا ابنتي محمد
I will have nothing to do with you if you two do not divorce the daughters of Muhammad.
Some historians have narrated an incident, the authenticity of which has been questioned, though what is known is that ‘Utaybah did not accept Islam and died as a disbeliever as opposed to his brothers who accepted the creed and were exemplary Muslims. The incident reads as follows:
‘Utaybah would harm Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam at any opportunity he got. One day he grabbed hold of the upper garment of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and heaved on it which caused it to tear. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in turn cursed him with the following:
اللهم سلط عليه كلبا من كلابك
O Allah! Set upon him a beast from your beasts.
When he was amongst a trading caravan in Zarqa’, Sham, a lion attacked him ripping him to shreds.
Sayyidah Ruqayyah and her husband ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma emigrated to Abyssinia. As for Umm Kulthum radiya Llahu ‘anha and her sister Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, they stayed with their father and mother living a constrained life due to the harassment of the Quraysh day after day. She patiently endured the bitter pains of the early stages of Islam wherein the polytheists were at the epitome of meting out their persecution. The three long years of exile in the Abu Talib valley of the Banu Hashim and Banu al Muttalib was endured patiently by this great woman of Islam, Sayyidah Umm Kulthum. Hungry and malnourished she bore the struggles of Islam with her family, seeing to her aged and ailing mother hoping for immense reward from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. Not long thereafter Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, a stalwart of the Islamic cause perhaps unmatched in her sacrifices, left this temporary abode. The two sisters Umm Kulthum and Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma here too were patient at the pains of separation, their father Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself grieving consoled his daughters on the loss of their mother. The running theme in the life of Sayyidah Umm Kulthum as we see is patiently suffering many losses and trials.
When the Quraysh did not show any sign of easing in their ridicule, and rather upped their game in dreaming up novel ways of torturing the Muslims, the instruction of emigrating to Madinah came from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam leaving his daughters in the care of his wife Sayyidah Saudah bint Zam’ah, undertakes the arduous journey. Soon thereafter Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhu accompanied Umm Kulthum, Fatimah, and the family of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhum on the same trip. They travelled yearning for Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and arrived to an expectant father settling them in his home which he had prepared for his family after the construction of Masjid al Nabawi was complete.
The demise of Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha during the Battle of Badr had left ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu a widower as has been previously mentioned. Once the wounds of her separation began to heal, the marriage of Umm Kulthum radiya Llahu ‘anha to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was arranged in Rabi’ al Awwal, the third year of the hijrah. It was on this occasion that ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu became known as Dhu al Nurayn, having had the great honour of marrying two of the daughters of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. An honour unmatched. They lived a blissful life seeing the flag of Islam being raised higher each day, with her witnessing the sacrifices of her husband in serving the cause of Islam. For six beautiful years they lived together however no child was born to them.
She too was then afflicted by an illness which left her bed ridden for many days till her appointed time with death came in the month of Sha’ban, the ninth year of hijrah. Her death left a deep gash in the hearts of her husband and father having bid farewell to yet another wife and daughter respectively. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instructed Umm ‘Attiyah radiya Llahu ‘anha to wash her thrice and gave his lower garment to be part of her shroud. After her burial Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam paused at her grave his eyes flowing with tears, heart aching at the separation of his beloved daughter Umm Kulthum radiya Llahu ‘anha. Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu draws the picture of her burial in the following words:
شهدنا بنتاً لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم جالس على القبر، فرأيت عينيه تدمعان، قال: فقال: هل منكم رجل لم يقارف الليلة؟ فقال أبو طلحة: أنا. قال: فانزل. قال: فنزل في قبرها
We were present at the burial of the daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sat at the graveside and I saw his tears streaming down his cheeks. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then announced, “A person should enter the grave who did not commit any minor or major sin that (previous) night.” Abu Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “I did not.” At the request of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam he entered her grave.
The cry of compassion and separation together with exercising patience on the decree of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala was the hallmark of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. There was no shrieking or wailing. These tears were the translation of the mercy that rested in the heart of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
After the burial rites were completed Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam turned his attention to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu who was grief stricken and distressed at the demise of his wife and the termination of the relation he enjoyed with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam thus consoled him:
لو كن عشرا لزوجتهن عثمان
If I had ten daughters, I would have married them one after the other to ‘Uthman.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala shower his choicest mercies on Umm Kulthum, a spouse and stalwart par excellence. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala gather us with her in Jannat and grant one and all the love of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, his family, and Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
 Tabaqat ibn Sa’ad, vol.8 pg.36.
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 250; al Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 14 pg. 95.
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 250; al Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 14 pg. 95.
 Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, vol. 2 pg. 539; Tahdhib al Kamal, vol. 1 pg. 242.
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 252.
 Tabaqat ibn Sa’ad, vol. 8 pg. 37.
 Some have taken the meaning of here to be, “‘that person should enter the grave who did not have sexual relations that (previous) night.”
 Sahih al Bukhari, 1205.
 Tabaqat ibn Sa’ad, vol. 8 pg. 38; Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 52; Tabarani fi al Mu’jam al Kabir, 18493.Back to top