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Um  Al Darda was one of the greatest scholars, muhaddithat and jurists of her time. She as a tabi’iyah (the tabiiyeen were those that did not meet the Prophet  so they were not Companions) and her husband was the well known Companion, Abu Darda. When she was younger, she would follow Abu Darda (the man who she ended up marrying but who at the time was sort of a guardian for her) to the masjid and sit with the men as they learned Quran. She would also pray with them until she got to a certain age and Abu Al Darda asked her to go pray with the women.

Um Al Darda’s teachers range from her husband, Abu Al Darda to Abu Huraira, and her students include Abd Al Malik ibn Marwan, caliph of the empire from Spain to India, and many other prominent men and women.

Ibn Kathir said of Um Al Darda that “She was a tabi’iyyah, devout, scholar and jurist. Men studied with her and learned fiqh from her in her teaching places on the north side of the Ummayad Mosque and Abd Al Malik Ibn Marwan, when he was caliph, used to sit in her circle with other students.”

Um Al Darda taught hadith and fiqh in her house and also in the mosques of Damascus and Jerusalem. Her house was also used to host other scholars who came to teach, such as when Abu Huraira came to Damuscus. Ismail ibn Ubaydillah narrated from Karimah bint al Hashas Al Muzaniyyah that she said, “Abu Huraira narrated to us when we were in the house of Um Al Darda that he heard the Messenger of God  narrating from his Lord that He said, ‘I am with My slave as long as he remembers Me and his lips move with the remembrance of Me.’”

Um Al Darda was not just a teacher but she also applied her Islamic knowledge in her integrity and personal conduct. Ibrahim ibn Abalah narrates that a man came to Um Al Darda and reported to her that someone had criticized her in front of the caliph, Abd Al Malik ibn Marwan. Her reply was, “If we are rebuked for something that is not found in us, then very often we are also praised for something that in not in us.” Abd Al Malik was actually one of her students and someone she relied on. In her old age, she used to lean on him to get up and walk to prayer. Ismail ibn Ubaydillah also said, “Abd Al Malik ibn Marwan was sitting in the Rock (of Jerusalem) and Um Al Darda was sitting with him teaching. Then the adhan for maghrib was called and he stood up and she stood up leaning on Abd Al Malik until he entered the mosque with her. Then she sat with the women and Abd Al Malik went forward to lead the prayer.”

Um Al Darda used to care for her students like a mother would to her child. Uthman ibn Hayyan said, “We ate food with Um Al Darda and we omitted to praise God. She said: Oh my children, do not omit to season your food with remembrance of God. Eating and praising God is better than eating and being silent.” Abd Rabbih ibn Sulayman ibn Umayr ibn Zaytun said that Um Al Darda used to write all his notes down for him as he was too young to write. She used to tell him, “Learn the wisdom when you are little, then you will implement it when you grow up.” Another example of how she used to go beyond the duty of a teacher when taking care of her students was that of Sulaym ibn Amir. “I set out intending a journey to Jerusalem. I passed by the home of Um Al Darda. She gave me something to drink and she gave me a dinar,” said Sulaym ibn Amir.

Um Al Darda was not just generous with her wealth but generous with her time. During one of the classes, Awn ibn Abdullah asked her, “Have we wearied you?” Um Darda she replied, “You? Weary me? I have sought worship in everything. I did not find anything more relieving to me than sitting with scholars and exchanging knowledge with them.” She found that constantly revising with her students was also beneficial to them to help secure the knowledge in their minds and hearts.

In addition to Um Al Darda’s generosity and kindness, she had such taqwa in her heart of which earned her so much respect. Awn ibn Abdullah said of her, “We used to come to the assembly of Um Al Darda and remember God there.” Yunus ibn Maysarah reports, “The women used to worship with Um Al Darda and when they became weak from standing, they would lean on ropes.

Um Al Darda did not ask for payment for her teaching but taught for free, however she did accept donations. Uthman bin Hayyan reports that Um Al Darda said, “One of them will say ‘Oh God provide for me.’ But he knows that God does not rain gold or silver over him. Rather, He provides people through each other. So whoever is given something, he should accept it. If one is rich he should give to the needy and if one is poor he should use that for his need.” Another situation in which Um Al Darda talks about this same issue was narrated by Ibrahim ibn Abi Ablah. He said, “I saw Um Al Darda in Jerusalem sitting among poor women. A man came and distributed some money among them. He gave Um Al Darda a copper. She said to her servant: Buy camel meat with it. Her servant asked, ‘Is not that money sadaqah (donation)?’ Um Al Darda said, ‘It came to us unasked.’

May Allah be pleased with her and please her.

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*Most of what we know about Um Al Darda is what other people have said about her. It makes you wonder, what are people going to say about you? What are you doing in your life that will make people remember you for centuries to come?

*I love Um Al Darda’s replies to situation. Her words have such wisdom in them Mashallah.

*At this time, the people started their Islamic education very young and many were hufaz by the age of 7.  And subhannallah, these were the people that succeeded the most. Makes you a feel a bit behind huh? I know I do!

 

Nadwī, Muḥammad Akram Al-. Al-Muḥaddithāt: The Women Scholars in Islam. Oxford [etc.: Interface Publications, 2007. Print.

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