Umm Jamil

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Umm Jamil bint Harb (Arabic: أم جميل بنت حرب‎‎), also known as Arwā, was a contemporary of the Islamic prophet Muhammad who is briefly mentioned in the Quran.


She was the daughter of Harb ibn Umayya, a chief of Mecca, hence a sister of Abu Sufyan and one of the leading women of the Quraysh.[1][2]

She married Abu Lahab, a paternal uncle of Muhammad. They had at least six children: Utbah,[3][4] Utaybah,[5][6] Muattab,[7] Durrah (Fakhita), 'Uzzā and Khālida.[8] It is not clear whether she was also the mother of Abu Lahab's son Durrah.[citation needed]

Opposition to Muhammad[edit]

Sura 111[edit]

Umm Jamil supported her husband in his opposition to Muhammad's preaching.[9] When Muhammad promised Paradise to the believers, Abu Lahab blew on his hands and said, "May you perish. I can see nothing in you of the things that Muhammad says." Muhammad therefore declared a revelation from Allah about them.[10]

May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he.
His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained.
He will burn in a Fire of flame
And his wife – the carrier of firewood.
Around her neck is a rope of fibre.[11]

However, the occasion for this revelation is disputed. Ibn Sa'd and Ibn Kathir state that it was in 613, when Muhammad summoned the Quraysh to Mount Safa for his first public warning that they must heed Allah's message. Abu Lahab interrupted: "May you perish! Did you assemble us for this?" and Muhammad responded with the prophecy.[12][13]

Ibn Ishaq implies that it occurred in 616, when Abu Lahab left the Hashim clan and refused to protect Muhammad.[14][15]

Ibn Ishaq says that Umm Jamil was called "the carrier of firewood" because she carried thorns and cast them in Muhammad's way where he would be passing;[16] however, he also states that the Quraysh did not resort to this form of harassment until after the death of Abu Talib in 620.[17] Ibn Kathir also offers the alternative theory that "carrier of firewood" does not refer to a past event but to Umm Jamil's future destiny of willingly stoking the fires that would punish her husband in Hell.[18]


When Umm Jamil heard that Muhammad had been prophesying about her and her husband, she went to the Kaaba, where Muhammad was sitting with Abu Bakr, carrying a stone pestle. She did not notice Muhammad, so she asked Abu Bakr after him, "for I have been told that he is satirising me. If I had found him, I would have smashed his mouth with this stone." Then she produced a poem of her own:

We reject the reprobate,
His words we repudiate,
His religion we loathe and hate.

She departed, still not having noticed Muhammad.[19]


  1. ^ Muhammad ibn Ishmail ibn Kathir. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya. Translated by Le Gassick, T. (1998). The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, vol. 1 p. 334. Reading, U.K.: Garnet Publishing Ltd.
  2. ^ Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Kathir. Tafsir on Quran 111.
  3. ^ Muhammad ibn Sa'd. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir. Translated by Haq, S. M. (1967). Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir Volume I Parts I & II, p. 100. Delhi: Kitab Bhavan.
  4. ^ Muhammad ibn Sa'd. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, p. 24. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  5. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 170.
  6. ^ Ibn Sa'd/Bewley p. 26.
  7. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 170.
  8. ^ Ibn Saad/Bewley vol. 8 p. 37 (all three daughters are listed here, with Umm Jamil named as their mother).
  9. ^ Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Kathir. Tafsir on Quran 111.
  10. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 160.
  11. ^ Quran 111:1-3 (Sahih International).
  12. ^ Ibn Sa'd/Haq p. 231.
  13. ^ Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Kathir. Tafsir on Quran 111.
  14. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume pp. 159-160.
  15. ^ Margoliouth, D. S. (1905). Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 168. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  16. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 161.
  17. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 191.
  18. ^ Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Kathir. Tafsir on Quran 111.
  19. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume pp. 161-162.