Umm Kulthum bint Ali

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Umm Kulthum bint Ali "the Elder" (Arabic: أم كلثوم بنت علي) (630 - before 680) was the granddaughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the daughter of Imam Ali. She was also the wife of Caliph Umar, although many Shi'ite scholars claim it to not be true.


She was born in Medina on 8 July 630 (Gregorian) (Wednesday 18 Rabi'ul-Awwal 9 AH),[citation needed] the fourth child of Ali and of Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah. Her siblings were Hasan, Husayn and Zaynab.[1]:18

First Marriage[edit]

Ali wanted his daughters to marry his brother Ja'far's sons, but Umm Kulthum's hand in marriage was requested by the Caliph Umar, who promised, "No man on the face of the earth will treat her better than I will."

Ali protested that she had not yet reached puberty, but Umar commanded that she be presented to him. Ali gave his daughter a striped garment and instructed her: "Take this to the Commander of the Faithful and tell him: 'My father says, "If you like this garment, keep it; if you don't like it, return it."'" When Umm Kulthum brought this message to Umar, she reported, "He did not undo the garment nor look at anything except at me." He told her that he was pleased, and so Ali consented to the marriage.[1]:299-300 Umar gave his bride a dower of 40,000 dirhams,[2] and the marriage was consummated in November or December 638 (Dhu'l-Qaada 17 AH).[3]

They had two children, Zayd and Ruqayya.[4][1]:299

One story from their married life tells how Umm Kulthum sent a gift of perfume to the Empress of Byzantium. The Empress sent back a "superb" necklace for Umm Kulthum. Umar believed that his wife should not have conducted a private correspondence at the expense of the state postal service, so he reimbursed her for the cost of the perfume and placed the Empress’s necklace in the state treasury.[5] Nevertheless, it was said that Umar treated Umm Kulthum "with extreme honour and respect" because she was Muhammad's granddaughter.[6]

However, some Shia are of the view this marriage with Umar did not happen at all and is a fabrication.[7]

Subsequent Marriages[edit]

After Umar's death in 644, Umm Kulthum married her young cousin, Ja'far's son Awn[1]:299[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] for a dower of 4,000 dirhams. Her brother Hasan remarked that he had never seen such passionate love as Umm Kulthum's for Awn. However, Awn died after only a short time.[20]

After Awn's death, Ali married Umm Kulthum to his brother Muhammad,[1]:299[8] again for 4,000 dirhams. But Muhammad also died.[20]

After the deaths of her husband Muhammad and her sister Zaynab, Umm Kulthum became one of the wives of Awn and Muhammad's eldest brother Abdullah.[1]:299[8][21][22] She remarked: "I was not shy with [my mother-in-law] Asma bint Umays. Two of her sons died while married to me, but I did not fear this for the third."[1]:299

Umm Kulthum had no children by any of her three latter marriages.[1]:299


Umm Kulthum and her son Zayd died at the same time, in Abdullah's lifetime. Eighty people attended their funeral,[1]:299 where Sa'id ibn al-'As conducted the prayers, and the congregation included Abdullah ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah.[23]

Umm Kulthum is buried in Baab Sagheer cemetery in Damascus, Syria.[citation needed] The Mausoleum of Umm-Kulthum is located in Arrawiya village in Damascus.[citation needed]

Fatimids believe that she is also known as "Zaynab the Younger" and that she is buried at Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, Damascus; whereas Zaynab the Elder lived at the end of her life in Cairo[24] and was buried at Zaynab Mosque, Cairo.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  2. ^ Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l-Muluk. Translated by Smith, G. R. (1994). Volume 14: The Conquest of Iran, p. 101. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  3. ^ Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l-Muluk. Translated by Juynboll, G. H. A. (1989). Volume 13: The Conquest of Iraq, Southwestern Persia, and Egypt, pp. 109-110. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  4. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr, p. 204. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  5. ^ Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l-Muluk. Translated by Humphreys, R. S. (1990). Volume 15: The Crisis of the Early Caliphate, p. 28. Albany: State University of New York Press
  6. ^ Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Kathir. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya. Translated by Le Gassick, T. (2000). The Life of the Prophet Muhammad Volume 4, p. 438. Reading, UK: Garnet Publishing.
  7. ^ Umar's Marriage to Umm Kulthum in Shiite Narrations. (n.d) Retrieved from
  8. ^ a b c Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Kathir. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya. Translated by Le Gassick, T. (2000). The Life of the Prophet Muhammad Volume 4, pp. 418, 438. Reading, U.K.: Garnet Publishing.
  9. ^ Shustari, Qazi Nurullah. Majalis ul-Mo’mineen. pp. 85–89. 
  10. ^ al-Murtaza, Sharif. Al-Shaafi. p. 116. 
  11. ^ Al-Hadid, Hibatullah. Sharh Nahj ul-Balagha. 3. p. 124. 
  12. ^ Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir. Bihar al-Anwar. p. 621. 
  13. ^ Ardabili, Muqaddas. Hadiqat al-Shi’a. p. 277. 
  14. ^ Shustari, Qazi Nurullah. Masa'ib un-Nawasib. p. 170. 
  15. ^ Al-Amili, Zayn al-Din al-Juna'i. "Lawahiq-al-'Aqd". Masalik al-Ifham fi Sharh Shara-il-Islam. 1. 
  16. ^ Qumi, Abbas. Muntahi al-Aamal. 1. p. 186. 
  17. ^ Shahidi, Sayyed Ja'far. Life of Fatemeh Zahra(SA). pp. 263–265. 
  18. ^ Baqir, Muhammad. Mir'at ul-Uqool. 21. p. 199. 
  19. ^ Al-Tusi, Nasir Al-Din. Al-Mabsoot. 4. p. 272. 
  20. ^ a b Guillaume, A. (1960). New Light on the Life of Muhammad, p. 51. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  21. ^ Al-Tusi, Nasir Al-Din. Al-Mabsoot. pp. Volume 4, pg 272. 
  22. ^ Baqir, Muhammad. Mir'at ul-Uqool. pp. Volume 21, pg 199. 
  23. ^ Nasa'i 3:21:1980.
  24. ^ "Balaghatun Nisa", by Abul Fazl Ahmad bin Abi Tahir

See also[edit]