There were six sisters that the Prophet ﷺ called the ‘believing sisters.’ They were Um alFadl, Maymoonah (RA), Asma bint Umays, and Salama bint Umays, Zainab bint Khuzaymah, and Izzah. These are their stories.
Lubabah bint Al Harith al Hilaliyah, or Um alFadl, was one of the first women to embrace Islam after Khadijah (RA). She was married to the Prophet’s ﷺ uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib, who did not become a Muslim right away. Even though her husband was not Muslim, she still loved and respected him deeply, even as she was quickly becoming a devout Muslim. (This was before the verses of the Quran that stated that women couldn’t marry a disbeliever).
Um alFadl visited Khadejah (RA) constantly and would also meet with the Prophet ﷺ to inquire about religious issues. He had complete trust in her and admired her commitment and sincerity in Islam.
Although Abbas was not yet a Muslim, he defended his nephew and sympathized with him. He was even his guardian during the allegiance of Aqabah! Um alFadl used to pray to Allah to change her husband’s heart and turn him toward Islam as he was well known for his love for money and consuming people’s wealth unlawfully.
So you can imagine her surprise when her husband fought with the polytheists against the Muslims in the Battle of Badr. Abbas was captured by the Muslims and returned to Mecca and released through his nephew’s intervention. It was at this time that he felt the mercy of Islam and his heart started changing. Allah answered Um alFadl’s prayer and Abbas became a Muslim.
With her husband finally a Muslim, Um alFadl’s heart was now at ease and their household was stabilized. As the Muslims started to migrate to Madinah, Um alFadl stayed behind in Mecca so her home could be a refuge for the weak and poor Muslims who were not able to afford the migration to Madinah.
Um alFadl and Abbas stayed in Mecca until the treaty of Hudaybiyah. The Prophet ﷺ came to Mecca for three days with his Companions for umra. There, he got engaged to Um alFadl’s sister Maymoonah, who was a widow living with her sister at the time. When the Prophet ﷺ left to go back to Madinah, this time Maymoonah, Um alFadl, Abbas and their entire household left with him and migrated to Madinah.
In Madinah, Um alFadl was a frequent visitor of the Prophet’s ﷺ house and was a friend of all his wives. One day, she had a dream that she saw a body part of the Prophet ﷺ in her house. When she told him the dream, he said to her, “Fatimah (RA) my daughter will give birth to a boy whom you will nurse with the milk of Quthm (Um alFadl’s son).” When Fatimah gave birth to Husayn, Um alFadl nursed him along with her son Quthm. One day, when the baby was a few months old, she brought him to see his grandfather, and the Prophet ﷺ held him in his lap. The infant then urinated on him and Um alFadl hit him between the shoulders. The Prophet ﷺ became upset and said, “You have hurt my son! May Allah have mercy on you!”
Um alFadl and her husband and children had the honor of performing the farewell pilgrimage with the Prophet ﷺ. There is saheeh hadith that talks about her importance during this time. On the Day of Arafat, the people were discussing amongst themselves whether or not the Prophet ﷺ was fasting. Um alFadl put the matter to rest when she filled a vessel of milk and offered it to the Prophet ﷺ and he drank it. This hadeeth is how we know that the pilgrims are not suppose to fast on the day of Arafat.
May Allah bless Um alFadl for her piety and excellence. It is also a good point to mention that she is the mother of Abdullah ibn Abbas. So not only was she a great woman, but she raised great men.
*The most important point that sticks in my mind from this story is how Um alFadl prayed and worked so hard for her husband to become Muslim and it was Allah Grace and Mercy that changed Abbas’s heart. So there are two things here. One is, do not underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes, even if your duaa is not answered right away, Allah might just want you to be patient or work for it. In the end, all prayers are answered although some not in this life. Two, is the changing of the heart. In Arabic, the heart is called Qalb because of its ability to turn or flip which is the verb Iqlib. The heart can quickly change by Allah’s will. There is a duaa to make for this which is ‘Oh turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm on your deen’ (ya muqalib al quloob, thabit qalbi ala deenika). This duaa is said even for people who are pious because you never know where you will be tomorrow. Change can happen both ways so we make this duaa to try to keep our heart from flipping towards the wrong thing.
*Um alFadl’s story is just another story that shows you how important women were to the start of this religion. Islam became the great religion it is today because of the efforts of both men and women.
*No matter what a woman’s situation is, she has a God given right as a mother to bring up her children to be the people she wants to see in the world. Woman have the ability to change the world just by raising their children to be good citizens of the world. This is why you will find in most third world countries, there are many movements to educate the women because they realize this is the best way to bring stability.
Read the rest of the series:
Part 2: Maymoonah bint Al Harith
Part 3: Asma bint Omays
Part 4: Zainab bint Khuzaymah
Quṭb, Muḥammad ʻAlī. Women around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2007. Print.
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