Asma bint Umais

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Asmā’ binṫ ‘Umays (Arabic: أَسْـمَـاء بِـنْـت عُـمَـيْـس‎) was a companion of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. She is known for having married three companions of the Prophet: Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, Abu Bakr and Ali ibn Abi Talib.[1]


She was apparently born in Mecca as the daughter of immigrants. Her father was Umays ibn Ma'ad from the Khathaam tribe, and her mother was Hind bint Awf from the Himyar tribe.[2][3]:196

Her full siblings were Salma bint Umais, wife of Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib, and Awn ibn Umais. Her maternal half-siblings included two of Muhammad's wives, Zaynab bint Khuzayma and Maymuna bint al-Harith, as well as Lubaba bint al-Harith, the wife of Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, Al-Sa'ib ibn al-Harith, Qatn ibn al-Harith and the community treasurer Mahmiyah ibn Al-Jaz'.[2]

Asma and her sister Salma both converted to Islam "after the Messenger of Allah had entered the house of al-Arqam",[3]:196,199 i.e., between late 614 and early 616. She is notable for having been the wife of three of Muhammad's close companions.

First husband[edit]

Her first husband was Ja'far ibn Abu Talib from the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. In 616 she emigrated with him to Abyssinia, where she gave birth to three sons, Abdullah, Muhammad and Awn.[3]:196 Asma disliked Abyssinia and she later referred to "fear" and "harm" that she had suffered there[4] while "far away and banished,"[3]:196 though she did not enlarge on the nature of these difficulties.

They returned to Medina in 628 at the time of the Muslim conquest of Khaybar.[5]:526[6]:336

Ja'far fought at the Battle of Mu'tah against Byzantium in September 629 and, along with Zayd ibn Harithah and `Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, was killed there.[5]:534[6]:374

Asma narrated how she heard the news of her husband's death. "The Prophet came to me. I had prepared forty mann of 'dip' [tanned forty skins] and kneaded the dough. I took my two sons and I washed their faces and put oil on them. The Messenger of God came to me and said, 'O Asma, where are the sons of Ja'far?' I brought them to him and he embraced them and smelt them, then his eyes welled up and he cried. I said, 'Why, Messenger of God, perhaps [you have news] about Ja'far.' He replied, 'Yes, he was killed today.' I stood up and screamed, and the women came to me. The Prophet began to say, 'O Asma, do not speak obscene words or beat your chest!'" Her son Abdullah remembered: "He said, 'O Asma, will you not rejoice? Indeed, God most high has made two wings for Ja'far, that he may fly with them in Paradise!'" Then Muhammad told his daughter Fatimah, "Prepare food for the family of Ja'far, for they are preoccupied today."[6]:377[3]:197

Second husband[edit]

After Ja'far's death Asma married Abu Bakr. She gave birth to his son Muhammad in 632 at al-Baydaa while on the way to The Farewell Pilgrimage. Abu Bakr planned to send Asma and their child back to Medina, but Muhammad told him to let her make the major ablution and then rededicate herself in offering the pilgrimage.[3]:197

The dying Abu Bakr left instructions that Asma should wash his corpse and that she should not fast on that day. She only remembered this instruction towards sunset, when she called for water to drink so that she would not have technically disobeyed him. As it was a very cold day, it was agreed that she did not have to perform an ablution after washing the body.[3]:198

Third husband[edit]

When Abu Bakr died, Umar allotted Asma a pension of 1,000 dirhams.[3]:198 Soon afterwards, however, she married Ali, the brother of her first husband Ja'far, who brought up Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr as his own son. Asma bore Yahya and Awn to Ali.[7]:12[3]:198

One tradition tells of a squabble that broke out between Muhammad ibn Ja'far and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, each of them boasting that his own father had been better. Ali told Asma to settle the quarrel. She told the boys: "Ja'far was the best young Arab, and Abu Bakr was the best old Arab." Ali said: "That's a good answer. But you haven't said anything about me!" Asma replied, "Of the three, you are the least to choose."[3]:198–199

Death and burial[edit]

From left to right, these are considered to be the qubūr (Arabic: قُـبُـور‎, graves) of Maymunah (Umm Al-Hasan), Asma bint Umais, and Hamidah bint Muslim ibn Aqeel at the Cemetery of Bab as-Saghir, Damascus, Shaam

It is believed that Asma's qabr (Arabic: قَـبْـر‎, grave) is at the Maqbarah al-Bāb aṣ-Ṣaghīr (Arabic: مَـقْـبَـرَة الْـبَـاب الـصَّـغِـيْـر‎,[8] Cemetery of Bab as-Saghir) in Damascus, present-day Syria.[9][10]


Asma narrated ahadith from Muhammad.[2]:202 According to a report deemed authentic, she is considered one of the women of Paradise.[11]

Historical controversy[edit]

The following historians state that Asma was present at Fatima's wedding ceremony in 1 AH:

They depend on the narrations of: Abu Abbas Khawarazmi from Husayn ibn Ali, Sayid Jalal al-Din Abu al-Hamid Ibn Fakhr al-Musawi, and Dulabi from Imam Baqir and his father. This is a historical problem that has not yet been solved despite the various attempts made by Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar vol. 10. It is also narrated that she was present during the marriage of Aisha.[citation needed]

One theory states that Asma Bint Umais had actually immigrated with her husband to Abyssinia, but repeatedly returned to Mecca and Medina. The distance between Jeddah and Abyssinia is limited to that of the width of the Red Sea, which is not very difficult for a journey. One narration makes a mention of Ja'far supporting this stance.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ali ibn al-Athir. Usd al-Ghābah fi Ma‘rifat al-Ṣaḥābah, pp. 262-271.
  2. ^ a b c Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l-Muluk. Translated by Tasseron-Landau, E. (1998). Vol. 39: Biographies of the Prophet's Companions and Their Successors, pp. 201, 202. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  4. ^ Bukhari 5:59:539.
  5. ^ a b Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ a b c Muhammad ibn Umar al-Waqidi. Kitab al-Maghazi. Translated by Faizer, R., Ismail, A., & Tayob, A. (2011). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Routledge.
  7. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  8. ^ Demeter, D. (2014-09-24). "Damascus – Bab al-Saghir Cemetery (دمـشـق – مـقـبـرة الـبـاب الـصـغـيـر)". Syria Photo Guide. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  9. ^ "Places to Visit: Damascus". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project. 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  10. ^ "Bab al-Saghir cemetery". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  11. ^ Shaykh Al-Sadooq. Al-Khisaal, vol. 2 p. 363.
  12. ^ Abu Muhammad Ordoni (1987). Fatima the Gracious. Qum: Ansariyan Publications.

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