Umm Kulthum bint Uqba

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Umm Kulthum bint Uqba (Arabic: أم كلثوم بنت عقبة‎‎) was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. A verse of the Qur'an, 60:10, was written in response to her situation.[1]


Born in Mecca, she was the daughter of Uqba ibn Abu Mu'ayt and Arwa bint Kurayz;[1] hence Caliph Uthman was her maternal brother. Their mother Arwa was a first cousin of Muhammad.[2]:38

Umm Kulthum's father Uqba was an outspoken opponent of Muhammad, but she became a Muslim before 622. She remained in Mecca after the Hijra.[1] Uqba was killed at the Battle of Badr in 624.[3]

After the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in 628, Umm Kulthum left Mecca for Medina in the company of a man from the Khuza'a tribe. Her brothers, Walid and Ammara, pursued her, and she arrived in Medina only one day ahead of them. Her brothers asked Muhammad to return her to them, in accordance with the treaty, which stated that Muslims who escaped from Mecca to Medina should be returned to their families. Umm Kulthum pleaded that "women are weak" and that she might not have the strength to remain firm in her faith if she had to live among polytheists. Muhammad then announced the new prophecy:[1]

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, send them not back to the disbelievers. They are not lawful for the disbelievers nor are the disbelievers lawful for them. But give them (disbelievers) that which they have spent (on their dower).

— Qur'an 60:10.

After this prophecy, Muhammad pointed out that the word for "escaped people" was masculine, so it did not apply to women. However, escaped women must be tested for the genuineness of their faith.[4] Umm Kulthum was asked whether she had come to Medina "for love of Allah and his Apostle and Islam" or whether she was seeking or escaping a husband or hoping to make money. After she had passed the test, Muhammad told her brothers: "Allah has broken the treaty regarding women by what you know, so leave."[1]

Other women then followed Umm Kulthum's example and also left Mecca for Medina.[1]

Subsequent career[edit]

Four men competed to marry Umm Kulthum, and in fact she was to marry all four of them in rotation. She asked her brother Uthman which suitor she should accept, and he advised her to consult Muhammad. Muhammad instructed her to marry Zayd ibn Harithah. She bore him Zayd and Ruqayya, but the marriage ended in divorce. The child Zayd died in infancy, but Ruqayya lived to come under the protection of Uthman.[2]:33

She then married Zubayr ibn al-Awam, whom she "disliked" because he was violent. She asked him for a divorce, but he refused. So "she pestered him while he was doing wudu for the prayer, and he divorced her with a single divorce. Then she left." Zubayr afterwards complained, "She tricked me, may Allah trick her!" Muhammad advised him to "propose to her again," but Zubayr knew that Umm Kulthum would never return to him. Soon after their separation, she gave birth to their daughter Zaynab.[1]

Umm Kulthum's third husband was Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf. She bore him six children: Muhammad, Ibrahim, Hamid (or Humayd), Ismail, Hamida and Amat ar-Rahman.[2]:97 This marriage lasted over twenty years, until Abd al-Rahman's death in 652.[1]

On being widowed, Umm Kulthum married Amr ibn al-'As, but she died only one month later.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, pp. 162-163. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  2. ^ a b c Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  3. ^ Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 337. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Ibn Kathir, Tafsir on Q60:10.
  5. ^ al-Tabakat al-Kobra for Ibn Sa'd