Um Kulthoom bin Uqbah was one of the first Muslims in Mecca. At the time she was not married and very proud of the fact that she was able to become Muslim on her own freedom of choice. The fact of the matter is that she was the daughter of Uqbah ibn Abi Al Mueet, one of the leaders of the disbelievers who were waging a war against Mohammed ﷺ and Islam. However, one benefit of having this strong man as her father was that no one dared inconvenience her or speak a wrong word to her after she became Muslim. So as a result, she was not persecuted, harassed and weakened like the other earlier Muslims were.

Um Kulthoom remained in Mecca for a long time with the other Muslims who chose to remain after hijra. However, when the Treaty of Hudaybiyah occurred, she realized that it provided her with an opportunity to emigrate to Madinah. She was among the first to travel to Madinah after the treaty. She was also the first and only Quraishi woman to leave the house of her parents and travel alone to Madinah for the sake of Allah.

A day after her arrival in Madinah, her two brothers arrived and demanded the Prophet ﷺ fulfill the obligations of the treaty and return her. One of the clauses in the treaty states, “No one of our men, though he may belong to your faith, shall come to you, but that you shall be bound to return him to us.” Under the terms of the treaty, anyone from Quraish, even though they are Muslim, must be returned to Quraish if they emigrate to Madinah.

Um Kulthoom did not want this to happen to her. “Oh Messenger of Allah, I am a woman and women are naturally weak. I fear that if I am sent back, they might create trials for me due to my religion, and I might not be able to bear that, “ she said.  The Prophet ﷺ interceded for Um Kulthoom and said that the treaty specifically said ‘men’ and did not mention women so it did not apply to her. Many scholars have said that the treaty stated ‘men’ because no one believed that anyone other than a man would be strong or brave enough to escape Mecca for migration.

It was at this time that Allah revealed these verses to the Prophet ﷺ:

{O you who believe! When believing women come to you as emigrants, examine them; Allah knows best as to their Faith. Then if you ascertain that they are true believers, do not send them back to the disbelievers. They are not lawful [wives] for the disbelievers, nor are the disbelievers lawful [husbands] for them. But give the disbelievers that [amount of money] which they have spent on them [in terms of mahr (dowry)]. And there will be no sin on you if you marry them, provided that you have paid their mahr to them. Likewise, do not keep disbelieving women as [your] wives, and ask for [the return of] that which you have spent, and let them [the disbelievers] ask for that which they have spent. This is the Judgment of Allah: He judges between you. And Allah is the All Knowing, All Wise.

And any of your wives have gone from you to the disbelievers [a apostates and you ask them to return your mahr but they refuse]- then you went out for military expedition and gained booty, then give from that booty, to those whose wives have left them, the equivalent of what they had spent [on their mahr]. And fear Allah, in Whom you believe.

O Prophet! When believing women come to you to give you the pledge of their allegiance, that they will not associate anything in worship with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit illegal sexual intercourse, that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey you in all that Islam ordains, then accept their pledge, and ask Allah to forgive them. Verily Allah is the Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.

O you who believe! Do not take as friends the people who incurred the Wrath of Allah. Surely, they have despaired of [receiving any good in] the Hereafter, just as the disbelievers have despaired of those in graves [that they will not be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection].} (Quran 60: 10-13)

Um Kulthoom’s case was the one that prompted the revelation of these verses. So what was the examination that was to take place, as stated by the beginning of the verses? It consisted of some heavy questions. The Prophet ﷺ would ask them, “Tell me, by Allah, did you migrate because you don’t like your husband? Tell me, by Allah, did you migrate just because you want to leave one land and settle in another? Tell me, by Allah, did you migrate because of a material gain that you hope for? Tell me, by Allah, that you did not migrate except out of your love for Allah and His Messenger ﷺ!” It was Umar ibn Al Khattab that mad the women swear on the order of the Messenger ﷺ.

Um Kulthoom passed the examination and remained in Madinah but she was to face some other trials. One such trial was when her father was taken captive during the Battle of Badr. Because of his treatment of the Prophet ﷺ and the Muslims, no ransom was accepted on his behalf and he was killed in captivity. Um Kulthoom was deeply affected by her father’s death but it did not affect her faith in Islam.

Being from the trible of Banu Umayyah, Um Kulthoom was a woman of noble birth. However, she was humble in character and was perfectly happy to marry Zayd ibn Harithah, a freed slave. During that time, the Arab custom was to marry the wife of a deceased friend to fulfill a social obligation and make sure that the women were all cared for. This custom, along with the fact that Um Kulthoom was much sought after for her high morals, faith and status, was how she came to marry Zubayr ibn Awwam after Zayd was martyred in the Battle of Mutah. She had a daughter named Zaynab with Zubayr before he was also martyred.

Before he passed away, the Prophet ﷺ asked her to marry Abdurahman ibn Awf and their marriage ended up taking place after the passing of the Prophet ﷺ. She had two sons with him, Humayd and Ibraheem.  At the end of her life, after the Abdurahman passed away, she married Amr ibn Alas, although she passed away a month into that marriage.

May Allah be pleased with her and many He please her.


*I find it so fascinating how the women of that time were married many times and how it was so important to take care of women after they had been divorced or widowed. When you think about it, there were so many battles taking place at the time that many women were being widowed. But Mashallah Um Kulthoom married some of the greatest men!

*This story makes me think of some of the reverts in our community and how hard it must be to choose a path different from your family. How brave was Um Kulthoom to travel by herself for the sake of Allah and to take all these steps on her own? I am sure she must have felt lonely at times to have no family support. But Subhannallah, look how Allah rewarded her. He not only sent down some verses in the Quran to clarify her specific situation (awesome!) but after she married a free slave Allah gave her the opportunity to marry a leader. While everybody’s situation is different, if you are a revert or you are someone who is lonely in their religion or in their decisions, just know that Allah will not forget the sacrifices you make for His sake.

*And think of how Um Kulthoom must have felt to know that her own father personally tried many times to kill the Prophet ﷺ that she loved so much. That her own father was so hated by the Muslims. How hard is that? She must have been so strong.

*“Many scholars have said that the treaty stated ‘men’ because no one believed that anyone other than a man would be strong or brave enough to escape Mecca for migration”

Seriously, how many of you all were like ‘you go girl!’ when you read that? I sure was. Just another amazing example of Muslim women that the world needs to know about. Oppressed shapressed! Seriously, these women were fearless and knew exactly what they wanted. And they were able to take it because ISLAM gave them that strength and freedom. Yaya!

Qub, Muammad ʻAlī. Women around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2007. Print.

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