The Faithful Lady: Umm al-Banin
The mother of Abul Fadl al-Abbas was a highly dignified woman named Fatima bint Hizam. She became known as Umm al-Banin, meaning the mother of the sons at her own request. She did not want to remind Lady Fatima‘s sons and daughters of their deceased mother by others calling her Fatima. Therefore, she asked them to call her Umm al-Banin. In this article on Islam4u, we will become familiar with this noble lady.
Imam Ali Considers Remarrying
Ten years after the passing of the Prophet Muhammad and his daughter Fatima (PBUT), Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib began considering the possibility of taking another wife. He turned to his brother Aqeel, who was well-versed in the science of genealogy and familiar with the various tribes and their moral and spiritual traits. Ali requested that Aqeel find him a worthy wife from a tribe with a history of bravery and courage in the hope that any children born to such a lady would be equally brave and wise.
Upon considering the various options, Aqeel selected the family of Bani Kilab, specifically the lady Umm al-Banin, as being particularly renowned for their bravery. He informed Ali of his decision, stating that there was no one in all of Arabia braver than the ancestors and family of Umm al-Banin. Aqeel also spoke highly of Umm al-Banin’s maternal grandfather, Abu Bara’ Amer bin Malik, who was renowned for his courage and bravery and known as a skilled swordsman. Impressed by these qualities, Ali sent Aqeel to propose to Umm al-Banin on his behalf. It is believed that Ali, through his foresight, knew that his future son, Abbas, would need a brave mother from a brave family to help him in the struggles of Karbala, so he sought out Umm al-Banin as a suitable match.
Name and Lineage of Fatima al-Kilabiyyah
Fatima, also known as Umm al-Banin, after her marriage to Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a), was a member of the esteemed Bani Kilab family, one of the great ancestors of the Prophet Muhammad. Known for her pure heart and piety, Fatima was a highly respected and admired woman. She was renowned for her family honor, originality, innate purity, physical strength, and beauty. After the death of Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet, Fatima was widely considered to be the most virtuous and accomplished of all Muslim women, known for her moral virtues, human perfection, strength of faith, stability, patience, tolerance, insight, wisdom, and eloquence.
Hizam bin Khalid bin Rabi’ah bin Wahid bin Ka’b bin Amer bin Kilab was a highly respected and honorable man known for his bravery, honesty, forgiveness, hospitality, and strong logic. He was widely considered one of the pillars of honor among the Arab people and played a prominent role in the courtship and marriage of Umm al-Banin to Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a).
Umm al-Banin’s mother, Thamamah (also known as Lilah), was the daughter of Suhayl bin Amer bin Jafar bin Kilab, an ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad and the Commander of the Faithful. Thamamah was known for her diligence in raising her children. She was praised for her deep insight, close relationship with her family, and her role as a compassionate teacher, imparting religious beliefs and social etiquette to her children and others.
Umm Al-Banin’s Birthday
Historical accounts tell of a dream had by Hizam bin Khalid during a journey with a group of Bani Kilab. In the dream, Hizam found himself sitting on a green field as shining pearls rained down on him and those around him. A man approached him, greeting him warmly, and asked the price of one of the pearls. Hizam, taken aback by the beauty of the pearl, asked the man what price he would offer for it. The man replied that he did not know the value of the pearl, but he wanted to gift it to a king and that he could guarantee something of greater worth than dirhams or dinars. When asked what that might be, the man promised eternal honor, sovereignty, greatness, and benefit from the king. Hizam agreed to the deal and asked the man to act as a mediator, to which the man agreed. When Hizam awoke, he related the dream to the Bani Kilab and sought their interpretation.
Upon hearing Hizam’s dream, the Bani Kilab interpreted it as a sign that Hizam’s wife, Samama bint Suhayl, would soon bear him a daughter who would bring him great honor through her marriage to a respected elder. When Hizam returned from his journey, he found that his wife was indeed pregnant. She eventually gave birth to a beautiful daughter who seemed to embody the pearl of the dream. Upon seeing his newborn daughter, Hizam realized that the dream had been true and was overjoyed by this good news.
Historians have written about the noble mother of Umm al-Banin, Thamama, as a literate, wise, and well-rounded woman who imparted important life skills and Arab customs to her daughter. Thamama’s teachings and Umm al-Banin’s own inherent virtues and education allowed her to reach a level of physical and mental growth and dynamism that was highly respected and admired among the Arab people. Umm al-Banin was renowned not only for her beauty and chastity but also for her intelligence, manners, and moral values. The influence of one’s family on their children is so strong that the Prophet Muhammad even advised young people to consider the family of their potential spouse in order to create a virtuous future generation.
Date of Birth of Umm Al-Banin
Historians have not recorded the exact date of birth for Umm al-Banin, and there is no information about the year she was born. However, it is known that her eldest son, Abul Fadl, was born in the year 26 AH. Based on this information, some historians estimate that Umm al-Banin was born around five years after the migration of the Prophet, around the city of Kufa.
Imam Ali’s Proposal From Umm Al-Banin
Upon expressing his interest in marrying Fatima, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib sent his brother Aqeel to formally propose to Fatima on his behalf. Aqeel was welcomed into the home of Fatima’s family with great hospitality and respect, in accordance with Arab tradition. On the fourth day of his visit, the family politely inquired about the purpose of Aqeel’s visit. He informed them that he had come to request Fatima’s hand in marriage for Imam Ali, the leader of the religion and the prince of the believers. This proposal took Fatima’s father, Hizam, by surprise as he had not anticipated such an offer.
He said with complete honesty and truthfulness: “What an honorable lineage and a glorious family! But Aqeel, “A Bedouin woman with the primitive culture of the Bedouins is not worthy of Amir al-Mu’minin.” He should marry a woman with a higher culture, and these two cultures are different.” After hearing her words, Aqeel said: “Amir al-Mu’minin knows what you are saying, and with these qualities, he wants to marry her.”
Umm al-Banin’s father, who didn’t know what to say, asked Aqeel for time to ask the girl’s mother, Samama bint Suhayl, and the girl herself, and told him: “Women are more aware of their daughters’ moods and attitudes and know their best interests.”
During the conversation between Aqeel and Hizam bin Khalid, several lessons can serve as a model for families today:
A) Honoring and respecting guests, even if their identity and purpose are unknown.
B) Mutual respect between guests and hosts, with guests adhering to the customs and traditions of the host.
C) Honesty on the part of the bride’s family, even if it does not benefit them.
D) Frankly stating the criteria of the groom’s family and not paying attention to factors such as wealth or status.
E) Fathers considering the opinions of mothers regarding their daughters’ marriages.
F) Importance placed on the opinions of the girls themselves when choosing a future husband.
G) Taking into account psychological considerations, even if they may seem superficial, in family matters and observing politeness.
Upon returning to his wife and daughter, Hizam shared with them the marriage proposal he had received from Aqeel on behalf of Amir al-Mu’minin, Ali bin Abi Talib. As Hizam’s wife combed Umm al-Banin’s hair, the young woman shared with her mother a dream she had the previous night:
“In my dream, I found myself seated in a verdant garden, surrounded by towering trees and babbling brooks. The moon and stars shone brightly overhead, and I marveled at the grandeur of Allah’s creations. As I gazed up at the sky, unsupported by any pillars, and at the luminous moon and stars, I became lost in thought. Suddenly, the moon descended from the sky and rested in my lap, radiating a dazzling light. I was astounded to see three bright stars also in my lap, their light equally mesmerizing. Just as I was still processing this unexpected occurrence, I heard a voice calling my name. It was a person, although I could not see him. He spoke words of joy, telling me that the bright moon and three stars in my lap were a portent of my own greatness and brightness and that their father, the master and lord of all mankind, was none other than the Prophet.”
“I woke up from my dream, scared. “Mother!” I exclaimed. “What does my dream mean?” My wise and insightful mother replied, “My daughter, your dream is true. You will soon marry a man of great glory and greatness, a man who is obeyed by his nation. You will have four children with him, the first of whom will have a bright face like the moon, and the other three will be like stars.” Hizam bin Khalid then entered the room and inquired about our acceptance of Ali as a husband. He asked, “Do you consider our daughter worthy of being the wife of Amir al-Mu’minin? Know that her house will be a house of revelation and prophecy, a house of knowledge, wisdom, and manners. If you consider her worthy of this house, let her be the maid of this house.” My mother, filled with love for the Imamate, responded, “Oh Hizam, I swear to Allah that I have raised her well, and I pray to Allah Almighty that she will be truly happy and righteous as the wife of the noble Amir al-Mu’minin. Marry her to Ali bin Abi Talib, my lord.”
Date of Marriage of Umm Al-Banin with Ali (a)
Some historians believe that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) married Umm al-Banin after the martyrdom of Lady Fatima (peace be upon her). Others say that this marriage took place after the marriage of the Imam with Lady Fatima, but in any case, this marriage certainly occurred after the death of Abu Bakr.
The exact year of this marriage is unknown, but according to historians, based on the varying opinions on the age of Hazrat Abbas (peace be upon him) at the time of his martyrdom, it is estimated to have been between 24 and 39 Hijri.
Some believe that the marriage of Umm al-Banin occurred before the 23rd year of the Hijra. It is also believed that approximately ten years passed between the marriage of Fatima and the birth of Hadrat Abbas, meaning that the date of this blessed marriage would have been between 13 and 16 Hijri.
However, some accounts state that Hadrat Abbas was present at the Battle of Siffin and was 15 to 17 years old at the time, which would place his birth after 37 Hijri and therefore contradict the aforementioned estimates. It is possible that the marriage of Umm al-Banin took place in the 12th year of the Hijra.
Umm al-Banin’s Entrance into the Household of Ali (a)
Fatima Kilabiyya was known for her modesty, purity, and innocence. When it was time for her to enter the house of Ali, peace be upon him, she requested that Fatima’s eldest daughter, peace be upon her, be informed before she entered the house.
On the day Umm Al-Banin entered the house of Ali (a), Imam Hassan and Hussain were lying in bed sick. As soon as Fatima Kilabiyyah entered the house, she went to the bed of the two and comforted and cared for them like a loving mother. She often said, “I am the servant of Fatima’s children.”
After some time living with Ali, peace be upon him, Fatima Kilabiyya suggested to Amir al-Mu’minin that she be referred to as Umm al-Banin instead of her previous and original name, Fatima, so that the children of Hadrat Zahra (peace be upon them) would not be reminded of their mother, Fatima Zahra (peace be upon them), by their father mentioning her real name and thus be brought back to painful memories of the past. Hadrat Ali, peace be upon him, saw great wisdom, strong faith, noble manners, and good qualities in his wife and cherished and protected her deeply.
The Birth of the Brave Son
The first child of Umm al-Banin was Abbas, the flag bearer of Karbala, peace be upon him. His birth brought joy to the Alawi family and the world, and he was destined to make a lasting impact on history with his virtues and sacrifices. Abbas was a bright moon in the family, and his arrival marked a prosperous and joyful time in Medina.
According to some historians, Hadrat Abul Fadl al-Abbas, peace be upon him, was born on the fourth day of Sha’ban in the year 26 AH. Upon hearing the news of Abbas’s birth, Amir al-Mu’minin, peace be upon him, rushed home and showered kisses on the newborn. He also performed the appropriate religious ceremonies for the child. On the seventh day of Abbas’s birth, in accordance with Islamic customs and traditions, a sheep was slaughtered, and its meat was given as charity to the poor. Amir al-Mu’minin, peace be upon him, had received from the unseen the knowledge of his son’s bravery and warriorship in the fields of battle and knew that Abbas would be one of the heroes of Islam. Therefore, he was given the name Abbas, which means “sour-faced” in the face of badness and falsehood, and “open-faced” in the presence of goodness. Just as his father received his strength and courage in the battlefields and wars fought against the enemies of the Ahlul Bait, peace be upon them, Abbas would also prove to be a brave and valiant warrior.
Umm al-Banin as a Role Model
Umm al-Banin’s life serves as a model for future generations, particularly for women. In her pure and honest life, she cultivated virtues and presented herself wholeheartedly to Imam Hussein. Throughout her life, she demonstrated love and struggle, including her pure and honest pre-marital period, her time spent in the house of wilayah and leaving a positive impact on the children of her husband, and her successful raising of brave and knowledgeable children for 34 years while fulfilling her duties as a mother in the best way possible.
Ultimately, this noble and generous lady, the mother of four martyrs and the wife of a martyr, has left a lasting mark on history and achieved immortality. By following the path of excellence and emulating such great individuals, we also hope to have our names recorded among the followers of the Prophet.
Umm Al-Banin: Mediator of Allah’s Grace
Umm al-Banin is highly respected among Muslims due to the devotion and steadfastness of her children in the way of Allah. Believers turn to her as an intercessor in times of need and visit her grave to seek relief from their troubles. It is believed that making vows to Umm al-Banin and Surah Fatiha as a gift to Umm al-Banin’s soul has also been reported to bring about positive results in finding lost items or meeting other needs. The late Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Hosseini Shahroudi said, “In times of trouble, I send 100 times Salawat to the mother of Hadrat Abul Fadl al-Abbas, peace be upon him, Umm al-Banin.”
It has been said that reciting Surah Yasin ten times on four Friday nights will work, with Allah’s will: three times on the first Friday night, three times on the second Friday night, three times on the third Friday night, and one time on the fourth Friday night. As a result, with Allah’s permission, they get what they have lost or need, which has been experienced many times.
As Umm al-Banin’s life full of love and struggle came to an end, Fiddah turned to her and asked her to impart the most important lesson in her final moments. Umm al-Banin smiled and softly whispered, “Peace be upon you, O Aba Abdullah” Soon after, Fiddah realized that Umm al-Banin was dying and called the children of Ali. This was the first time the children and grandchildren of Fatima Umm al-Banin referred to her as mother, and she did not object. Perhaps she did not have time to say, “I am Fatima’s maid, do not call me mother.” Hadrat Zain al-Abidin al-Sajjad remembered that evening when his uncle Abbas, covered in his own blood, cried out for the first time, “Ya akhi adrik akhi!” Tears fell from his cheeks at the sound of a mother’s call, the mother of her children now silenced.
Umm al-Banin, as the wife of a martyr, successfully fulfilled her role and raised children who were devoted to the cause of governance and Imamate. All four of her children ultimately became martyrs in the pursuit of their ideals of “Wali” and “Imam” in the Battle of Karbala. The final chapter of Umm al-Banin’s legacy of nurturing and education was sealed with the blessing of Imam Ali, peace be upon him.
Umm al-Banin, the wife of a martyr and the mother of four martyrs, lived a life dedicated to Allah with no mistakes or deviations.
While historians have recorded different years for her death, some say it was in 70 AH, and others say it was on the 13th of Jumadi al-Thani, 64 AH. She was a devoted mother and the golden bearer of the messengers of Karbala, following in the footsteps of Zainab Kubra, peace be upon her.
She was buried in the Baqi cemetery among the family of the Prophet Muhammad, including Imam Hassan and Fatima bint Asad. Although her physical body was interred in the ground, her spirit and noble and great qualities remain alive and continue to inspire people today. Her name is remembered alongside the living sun due to her virtuous character, and she has left a lasting impact on history through the people she has influenced.
Umm al-Banin’s grave is a sacred place that believers of all genders visit to seek spiritual nourishment and revitalize their faith. She is known among Muslims by various honorable titles such as Umm al-Ashq, Umm Al-Mahtab, and Umm Al-Wafa.
Ziyarah of Umm al-Banin
“Peace be upon you, O wife of the successor of the Messenger of Allah, Peace be upon you, O beloved of Zahra, Peace be upon you, O mother of bright moons, I bear witness to Allah and His Messenger that you fought for the cause of Hussain, peace be upon him, by giving your children and sacrificing them. I testify that you have been the helper of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, peace be upon him, in hardships, problems, and calamities; I testify that you managed to take care of Zahra’s children well and fulfill their trust; you have a high position and dignity in the sight of Allah. Peace be upon you and upon your martyred children, Peace be upon you, O wife of the Guardian of Allah, Peace be upon you, O wife of the Commander of the Faithful, Peace be upon you, O Umm al-Banin, Peace be upon you, O Umm al-Abbas, Ibn Amir al-Mu’minin, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, peace be upon him, may Allah Almighty be pleased with you, and make your home Paradise, and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.