Umamah bint Zainab | Granddaughter of Prophet Mohammad

Before Islam, women had no place in Arab society. For the guidance of this misguided society. Allah Almighty sent his beloved, the reason for the creation of the universe and the benefactor of humanity, Prophet Mohammad. Who not only honored the women but also in practice bestowed immense compassion and love on his own daughters. 

With no doubt every pure hearted person from the house of Prophet is like the shining bright star of guidance. One of these bright stars is the blessed Umamah bint Zainab or Umamah bint Abi-al-As.

Introduction

Literal meaning of Umamah is leadership and growth. For describing the gratitude of Umamah bint Zainab, it is enough to say that she is the granddaughter of the best personalities of the universe, Prophet Mohammad and Khadija bint Khuwaylid. Her mother, Zainab bint Mohammad was the eldest daughter of Holy Prophet. And other daughters of Prophet such as Ruqayyah bint Mohammad, Umm Kulthum bint Mohammad and Fatimah bint Mohammad are her Aunts. 

Parents

Umamah’s mother Zainab bint Mohammad was born ten years before the proclamation of Prophethood. And after the birth of Qasim bin Mohammad. After the proclamation of prophethood, she accepted Islam along with her mother. Zainab bint Mohammad was married to the son of her aunt (Halah bint Khuwaylid), Abu al-As ibn al-Rabi. 

Abu al As

Abu al-As was a known trader. His trade was extended from Mecca to Syria and from Iraq to Yemen. He was a very honest and sincere businessman. He was very clever and proverbial in handling the affairs of the merchants. Many great merchants of Mecca made agreements with him and relied on him for their goods. His business was very wide spread. He was known as the one who is trustworthy because of his honesty and integrity. Besides, he was a shy young man. Although full of youth and masculinity, he was full of humbleness. Likewise, there was no match of his bravery which lead to his title, the lion of Hejaz. Holy Prophet always welcomed him at his place and blessed him with immense love.

Generosity shown by Abu al As 

In Shib Abi Talib, when Prophet Mohammad and his family were besieged. Abu al As secretly delivered food to them. Due to which Holy Prophet paid a tribute to him and said

Abu al As has proved himself as our son in law”. 

Abu al As as a husband

Abu al As was a very fortunate, gentle, virtuous and very noble man. He always treated Zainab kindly and never let her get in trouble. Even the Quresh chiefs pressured him several times to divorce Zainab bint Mohammad in order to mock Holy Prophet. But he did not do so. When they insisted him too much. He said,

By God! I can’t live without my wife Zainab.”

When Prophet Mohammad came to know about this, he appreciated his gratitude, prayed for him and said,

Abu al As is a just man and my best son in law. 

Abu al As’s point of view of declaration of Prophethood

At the time of proclamation of Prophethood Abu al As was out of Mecca on his trade journey. As he returned, he heard about the proclamation of prophethood and that the whole family of Prophet Mohammad has accepted Islam.

So he asked his wife, “Zainab! Have you not thought about what will happen if I do not believe in your father?” Zainab replied, “How can I deny my honest and trustworthy father? By God, he is honest. Your aunt, my mother, my sisters, Ali, Abu Bakr, Uthman, Zubair all have believed in him. I can’t believe that you would deny my father and wouldn’t believe in his Prophethood.” 

Abu al As replied,

“I have no doubt about your father and I do not deny him. Instead it’s my honour in following him. But I’m afraid of one thing that people would blame me that I left the religion of my ancestors for the sake of my wife.”

His participation in Battle of Badr

However he did not openly accept Islam, but was convinced of its legitimacy from heart. Severe pressure of the disbelievers led him to participate in the battle of Badr where he was imprisoned. When a ransom was demanded for the release of the prisoners. Abu al As wrote a letter to Zainab asking her to pay the ransom. She sent her necklace as a ransom which her mother Khadija bint Khuwaylid wore her with her own hands at the time of her marriage. When Holy Prophet saw that necklace he got emotional. Asked to his companions,

“This is a mothers memorial of a daughter, if you allow it, it should be returned.”

The companions gladly agreed. Due to this necklace, Zainab was given the title of 

‘the one with the necklace’ 

After that Abu al As was released, but when he was about to leave, Prophet Mohammad said, “When you reach Mecca, send my daughter Zainab to Medina.” 

Zainab bint Mohammad’s migration

Therefore, in order to fulfill the covenant. Abu al As, according to the instructions of the Holy Prophet, sent Zainab and her two children, Ali ibn Abu al As and Umamah bint Abu al As. Along with his younger brother Kanana ibn al Rabi to Medina. The caravan had just reached the Dhi tua valley, a short distance from Mecca. When suddenly a group of enemies of Islam arrived from behind.

Problems She faced

In this group was Habar bin Aswad who was the half-brother of Khadija. He tried to stop Zainab and asked to return but when she refused he threw a stone, as a result of which Zainab and the children fell from the camel and were severely injured.  Kanana was furious when he saw Zainab and the children severely injured. He drew his sword from its sheath and said in an angry voice, If you have enough strength come forward, face me, do it if you can. The infidels, led by Habar ibn Aswad, retreated after the wrath and glory of Kanana ibn al Rabi. The journey was postponed for few days due to the injuries and after few days they continued their journey.

Arrival in Medina

After meeting Holy Prophet, Zainab mentioned the atrocities perpetrated by the Quresh, after hearing them Holy Prophet became emotional because these persecutions took place because of accepting Islam. Holy Prophet said:

“Zainab was my best daughter. She endured persecution because of my love.”

Abu al As is a captive once again 

Abu al As became a Muslim from heart after the battle of Badr. But the declaration of Islam was not done yet. He waited to declare his conversion to Islam at an appropriate time. Abu al As once had a very huge amount of trade of the people with which he made a huge profit in Syria. On return journey from Syria Muslims stopped his caravan, arrested him and brought him to Medina. This was his second visit of Medina as a captive because of his sincerity to Zainab. Holy Prophet wanted to help him but he did not decide himself, instead he discussed with his companions. At the end of the meeting it was decided that Abu al As should be released and his goods should be returned to him.

Abu al As’s declaration of accepting Islam

When he reached Mecca, he returned the people’s trusts and the amount of profits to them, but he took testimony from all the Quraysh about himself that he is not responsible for anything anymore. After taking this testimony from the disbelievers, he declared his conversion to Islam in the same assembly and then migrated from Mecca to Medina. The Prophet asked, at the time when your goods were returned to you why did you not convert to Islam?  Abu al As replied, “Holy Prophet!  I accepted Islam at that time, but I did not express it – so that people would not say that I have accepted Islam to take back my belongings.

After Abu al As came to Medina, Holy Prophet renewed his marriage with Zainab and sent Zainab to Abu al As on the previous dowry. The Prophet praised Abu al As and said:

“He spoke to me and spoke the truth. He made a promise to me and fulfilled it.” 

Zainab bint Mohammad’s death

Injuries on the trip from Mecca healed temporarily. However, Zainab was pregnant at that time. The injuries she suffered led to miscarriage. The internal wounds could not be healed due to which she mostly remained sick.  The holy Prophet (pbuh) tried his best to reassure his daughter, but she could not recover.  Zainab passed away in 8 AH at the age of 31 years.  Her death was a source of immense grief as well as shock to our beloved Prophet. When the Companions saw the tears in Prophet’s eyes on this occasion, they too became sad.

Holy Prophet ordered his two wives, Sawdah bint Zamah and Umm Salama, to give bath to his beloved daughter together along with Umm Ayman, after her daughter’s death. Then he asked to apply perfume on Zainab’s body. For the shroud, Holy Prophet gave his own fold. Holy Prophet along with Abu al As lowered Zainab into the grave.

Death of Abu al As

After the demise of Zainab, Abu al As became very sad, which had a profound effect on his health. At last he died in 12 AH.

Umamah’s brother

Except Umamah, Zainab bint Mohammad had a son, Ali bin Abu al As. There are two traditions about him.

  • One that he died at an early age and
  • Second that he was the martyr in the battle Yarmuk

Ancestors

Umamah’s mother’s side descendants are the following: Umamah bint Zainab bint Mohammad Bin Abdullah bin Abd al Muttalib bin Hashim bin Abd al Manaf bin Qusai. Umamah’s father’s side descendants are the following: Umamah bint Abu al as bin Rabi bin Abd al Aza bin Abd Shams bin Abd al Manaf bin Qusai.

Prophet Mohammad’s love for Umamah

Umamah bint Zainab was very dear to Prophet Mohammad just like Hussain bin Ali. Holy Prophet always showed immense love for her. He often called her at his place and also visited her often.

In a tradition Holy Prophet got a gift of gold ring with a stone in it. He touched it and called Umamah and asked her to wear it. 

Abu Qatada Ansari narrated that we were sitting in the mosque when the holy Prophet (pbuh) came Umamah bint Zainab was riding on the shoulders of Prophet Mohammad. Umamah was a small girl. She used to be on the shoulders of Prophet. Whenever Prophet bowed, he would bring her down. And when he stood up again, he would lift her. Like this Prophet Mohammad completed the prayers. 

Another beautiful incident of the Prophet’s love for Umamah is that once someone presented a very beautiful necklace to Holy Prophet. Where he said,

“I’ll wear this necklace around the neck of the one I love the most in my family. Everybody thought that Prophet will gift this necklace to his wife Ayesha bint Abu Bakr but Prophet called Umamah and wore the necklace on her with his own hands.

Upbringing

After the death of Zainab bint Mohammad Holy Prophet took care of Umamah. Therefore, truthfulness, modesty, obedience, seriousness and understanding were present in her holy being. Furthermore she was similar to her mother in her manners and character. 

What was Fatimah bint Mohammad’s last will?

By the time of demise of Holy Prophet, Umamah has reached the age of maturity. Spiritual training in the shadow of Holy Prophet led her to patience and gratitude. The trust in Allah was evident in her temperament. Due to these qualities, Fatimah bint Mohammad bequeathed to Ali ibn Abi Talib before her demise:

“Marry my niece Umamah bint Zainab after me because there can be no better mother for my children than her.”

Therefore, according to the will of Fatima. Ali ibn Abi Talib married Umamah bint Abu al as. Like a very faithful wife she spared all the effort in the service and obedience of Ali ibn Abi Talib for 28 years.

What was the last wish of Ali ibn Abi Talib?

An unfortunate foreigner Abdul Rahman ibn Muljam attacked Ali ibn Abi Talib on 19th Ramadan 40 AH. As a result, he spent two days in critical condition. Where he called grandson of Abd al Muttalib, Mugheera bin Naufal and asked him to marry Umamah after his death. Ali Ibn Abi Talib got martyred on 21st of Ramadan.

Marriage with Mugheera bin Naufal

According to the will of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Hassan bin Ali, with the consent of Umamah, married him to mugheera bin Naufal. Mugheera bin Naufal bin Haris bin Abd al Muttalib bin hashim was a Qureyshi Hashim companion. His father Naufal bin Haris was a cousin of Prophet Mohammad. Umamah remained in marriage with Mugheera bin Naufal for 26 years. 

Umamah’s children

Umamah had two children: Mohammad al Wast bin Ali and Yahya bin Mugheera.

Umamah’s death

In the house of Mugheera bin Naufal in 66 AH Umamah bint Zainab died. Her grave is in Jannat al Baki.

 

Umamah Bint Zainab

 

Note: 

This is an English translation of Urdu blog نواسیٔ رسولؐ  سیدّہ اُمامہ بنتِ زینبؓ which appeared in October 2021 issue of the Mahnama Sultan ul Faqr Magazine, Lahore. Mrs. Anila Yaseen Sarwari Qadri wrote the original article. Abdul Rafay Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English.