Umm Kulthum bint Ali

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Umm Kulthum bt. Al-Imam Ali
Umm kulthum.jpg
Native name
اُمّ کُلثُوم کُبری بنت عَليّ بن اَبيطالِب بن عَبدالمُطَّلِب
Bab al-Saghir cemetery, Damascus
Resting placeBab al-Saghir cemetery, Damascus
Known forDaughter of Imam Ali
  • Ali ibn Abi Talib (father)
  • Fatima bint Muhammad (mother)
RelativesImam Ali, Fatima, Imam al-Hasan, Imam al-Hussain

Umm Kulthum bint Ali is the fourth child of Imam Ali and Fatima. She was born during the days of her grandfather Prophet Muhammad, who cherished her and nurtured her in his blessed lap. She accompanied Imam Hussain, her brother, in his journey to Kufa. So, she was present at the battle of Karbala and was among the captives who were taken to Yazid’s palace in Damascus. Sermon of Umm Kulthum in Kufa and Damascus have been quoted in several Maqtal books.

Her Marriage[edit | edit source]

According to some historical sources, she married 'Umar b. al-Khattab, the second Caliph; however, some Shia sources reject this narrative (while others accept it). Shaykh Abbas Qummi relates that Umm Kulthum was married to her cousin Muhammad bin Ja’far al-Tayyar, who died leaving her a widow. Since then, she remained attached and dedicated to her brothers Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain. Qummi belives that the episode quoted by Non-Shi’a sources of her alleged marriage with Caliph Umar bin Khattab is nothing but fictitious, and is fabricated with a sole motive to demean the exalted status of Ahl al-Bayt and applause their enemies.

In Karbala[edit | edit source]

Umm Kulthum accompanied her brother, Imam Hussain, from Mecca to Karbala and witnessed the heart-rending episode of his martyrdom.

It is related in Bihar al-Anwar, after quoting the martyrdom of an infant child who had come out of the tent, that Imam Hussain turned towards the right and did not find anyone. He then turned towards the left and saw none, Imam Ali Zainul Abedeen, who did not even have the strength to lift up a sword (due to ailment), came out. Umm Kulthum followed him calling out, “O dear son, return back”. He replied,

“O dear Aunt! Leave me so that I may strive for the son of the Prophet of Allah”.

Imam Hussain saw him and said,

“O Umm Kulthum! Stop him, lest the world may turn vacant of the descendants of Muhammad”.

Imam Hussain’s Last Farewell[edit | edit source]

It is related that when Imam Hussain saw that seventy-two persons among his friends and relatives had fallen down, he turned toward the tents of his family for last farewell and called the women of Ahl al-Bayt:

“O Sakina! O Fatima! O Umm Kulthum! My salutations be upon you all!”

Hearing this Sakina said, “O dear father! Have you resolved to die?” Imam replied,

“How could the one, who is bereaved by his friends and helpers, not resolve to die?”

Sakina said, “O dear father! Then return us back to the sanctuary of our grandfather”. Imam replied,

“Alas! If a sand-grouse (a type of a bird) is released at night, it will sleep in peace”.

Hearing this, the women of his family started lamenting and Imam Hussain consoled them.

It is related in the same book that Imam Hussain then turned towards Umm Kulthum and said,

“I enjoin you towards goodness in matter of yourself. I am proceeding towards the battlefield in the midst of these enemies”.

Hearing this Sakina started lamenting while Imam loved her extremely. He pressed her to his chest and wiped her tears and said,

“Know O my dear Sakina! Very soon you will have to weep after me when death will have surrounded me, then do not aggrieve me now with your tears until the spirit remains in my body. Then when I am killed, you are more worthy of weeping upon me, O the best of women!”

After Martyrdom of Imam Hussain[edit | edit source]

After Martyrdom of Imam Hussain, survivors including Imam's sisters, wives, and daughters, relatives of companions of the Imam, and Imam’s son, Ali Zaynul-Abidin, were taken captives. They were taken to Ibn Ziad’s court in Kufa and then to Yazid’s court in Damascus.

Caravan of Captives Entered Kufa[edit | edit source]

Allamah Majlisi relates in Bihar al-Anwar from the reliable books, without quoting the chain of narrators, from Muslim, the plasterer, that he said, that (Ubaydullah) Ibn Ziyad had summoned me to Kufa for the repair of the Royal Palace. While I was plastering the doors, suddenly voices of wailing arose from the surroundings of Kufa. A servant who was supervising us came and I asked him, “What is the news that I hear hue and cry in Kufa?”

He answered, “The severed head of a rebel has been brought in, who revolted against Yazid”. I asked him as to who he was and he replied that he was Hussain bin Ali. I waited until the servant had left, then I hit upon my face with my wrist (with such force) and feared lest my eyes would have come out. I washed my hands and came out from the back of the palace until I reached the open ground of Kufa. I stood there while men were awaiting the arrival of the captives and the heads. Suddenly nearly forty litters upon forty Camels drew near wherein were women, family and children of Fatima, while Imam Ali (Zainul Abedeen) was seated upon a Camel without a litter. Blood was dripping from his legs and he was weeping in this state and said:

“O evil nation! May you never be satiated! O the nation who did not respect us in consideration of our grandfather! What will you answer on the day of Qiyamah when we shall be joined along with our grandfather? You made us sit upon bare litters as though it is not us who had strengthened the foundations of Religion. O Bani Umayyah! Until when shall you keep oppressing us or refuse to respond to the call of our proclaimer? O those who clap your hands rejoicing upon our misfortunes and slander us upon the earth, is not my grandfather the Prophet of Allah, Woe be to you, who guides abundantly than the path of the misguide? O event of Taff (Karbala)! You have made me the heir of grief and sorrow. By Allah! The veils will be pulled off the faces of those who have treated us badly.”

The people of Kufa started distributing dates, bread and walnuts to the captivated children seated upon the litters. Seeing this Umm Kulthum called out, “O Kufans! Charity is unlawful for us”. She took it away from the hands and mouths of the children and threw it upon the ground.

It is said that when she uttered these words, people wept on account of this unpleasant event.

Umm Kulthum peeped out from the litter and said, “Quite O Kufans! Your men kill us while your women weep upon us? Allah is the Judge on the day of Judgment between you and us”. When she said this, the voice of wailing increased and the heads were brought forth. The head of Imam Hussain was in the forefront, it seemed similar to the Venus and moon and bore resemblance to the Prophet of Allah more than anyone else. His beard bore the mark of dye, while his face was glowing like a disc of the moon, while the wind was whirling it (the beard) to the left and right. Sayyidah Zaynab lifted her head and saw the face of her brother and hit her head upon the wooden pillar of the litter. We saw with our own eyes that blood started flowing from under her veil and she started uttering with a broken heart,

“O crescent who did not even rise when it was eclipsed and it set! O piece of my heart! I had not presumed that the pen of destiny would have written this. O brother! Speak to the young Fatima so that her heart may find solace. O brother! What has happened to the heart that was merciful and kind towards us, that it has hardened? O brother! I wish you would look at Ali (Zainul Abedeen) when he was being captivated while he was also orphaned. He possessed no strength to retaliate; when he was being flogged he was calling out to you helplessly, while his tears were flowing. O brother! Take him into your fold and bring him close to you and offer solace to his frightened heart, what a disgrace for an orphan when he calls out to his father and receives no answer from him”.

Sermons[edit | edit source]

She was a narrator of the Battle of Karbala and delivered a sermon in the meeting held by Ibn Ziyad in Kufa. Umm Kulthum Sermon in Kufa and Damascus, reprimanding and condemning the oppressors for their misdeeds, bear witness to her eloquence and valiant character, the legacy of her father Imam Ali. She remained steadfast and forbore patiently the worst ordeals of life alongside her elder sister Zaynab.

Her Grave[edit | edit source]

There is disagreement about the place of Umm Kulthum Burial. However, there is tomb by her name in the cemetery of Bab al-Saghir in Damascus. Shaykh Abbas Qummi states that Umm Kulthum was buried in the renowned graveyard of Bab al-Saghir, opposite her niece Sakina, the daughter of Imam Hussain. Ziarat Janeb Umm Kulthum is recommended.

Source[edit | edit source]