Lady Umm Al-Banin (a)

for the death anniversary of Lady Umm Al-Banin (S.A)

Lady Umm al-Banin (a)

Fāṭima bt. Ḥizām (Arabic: فاطمة بنت حزام) (d. 64/684) well-known as Umm al-Banīn (Arabic: أمّ البَنین) is one of the wives of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and is one of the most honorable Shi’a personalities. She is the mother of ‘Abbas and three other sons, ‘Abd Allah, Ja’far and ‘Uthman all of whom were martyred in the Battle of ‘Ashura. Because she had four sons, she was called Umm al-Banin (mother of the sons). After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), Umm al-Banin mourned the Imam (a) and her children so sorrowfully that even the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (a) accompanied her. According to Shi’a point of view, her mourning for Imam al-Husayn (a) before mourning for her children and her respect toward the children of the Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a) indicate that she had a high level of religious true knowledge. Her tomb in al-Baqi’ is a ziyara site for Shi’a.


Lineage and Demise

Umm al-Banin’s father was Abu l-Majl Hizam b. Khalid from the tribe of Banu Kilab and her mother was Layla or Thamama bt. Suhayl b. ‘Amir b. Malik.

The exact date of her demise is unknown. However, her demise is marked on Jumada II 13, 64/February 6, 684. She is buried in al-Baqi’ Cemetery[3] near other eminent personalities such as Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Baqir (a), and Imam al-Sadiq (a).


Marriage with Imam ‘Ali (a)

It has been narrated that after the demise of Fatima al-Zahra (a) in 11/632, Imam ‘Ali (a) consulted with his brother -‘Aqil, who was an expert in Arab genealogy, about choosing a wife with a good lineage who will give birth to courageous and brave children. ‘Aqil suggested Fatima bt. Hizam b. Khalid and added that among Arabs, no one is more courageous than the men of Banu Kilab. Thus, Imam ‘Ali (a) married her.

She gave birth to four sons – ‘Abbas (a), ‘Abd Allah, Ja’far, and ‘Uthman. Her four sons were renowned for their courage and bravery. So, she was called Umm al-Banin (mother of the sons). All of her sons were martyred fighting along with Imam al-Husayn (a), in Karbala.

It is quoted that a while after the marriage, she suggested Imam ‘Ali (a) call her Umm al-Banin instead of Fatima, which was her original name because the children of Fatima al-Zahra (a) would remember their mother and the sad memories by hearing “Fatima”.


After the Battle of Karbala

Umm al-Banin was not present in Karbala. When the caravan of the Captives of Karbala arrived in Medina, someone informed her about the martyrdom of her sons; but she asked: “Tell me about al-Husayn (a).” When she heard that Imam al-Husayn (a) was martyred, she said: “I wish my children and everything in the world were ransom for al-Husayn (a) and he would have survived. “These words show her great loyalty toward Ahl al-Bayt (a) and especially Imam al-Husayn (a).[7]


Zaynab (a) and Umm al-Banin

It’s quoted that when Zaynab (a) arrived in Medina, she visited Umm al-Banin and expressed her condolence for the martyrdom of her children.


Mourning for Children

After that she received the news of her sons’ martyrdom, she went to al-Baqi’ Cemetery every day with her grandson, ‘Ubayd Allah (son of ‘Abbas). She recited the lament that she had composed for her sons and cried sorrowfully. People of Medina gathered around her and cried along with her. It is even said that Marwan b. Hakam also cried with them.[8] She recited this lament which she had composed for ‘Abbas:

“O, he who saw ‘Abbas attacking a multitude of the enemy and the sons of ‘Ali (a) were backing him up like brave lions. I was told that my son was hit on the head while his hands were cut. Woe unto me! my son had lowered his head [that] he was hit on the head. If his sword was in his hand, no one would have dared to approach him.”


Words of Scholars

Zayn al-Din al-‘Amili, known as al-Shahid al-Thani says, “Umm al-Banin is a virtuous lady. She had great affection and loyalty toward the family of the Prophet (s) and devoted her life to serving them. In return, the household of the Prophet (s) considered a special status for her and honored her. They visited her on the days of Eid (Islamic holidays) as a sign of respect.”

Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi (d. Sha’ban 17, 1394/September 5, 1974) said, “When I face troubles, I recite Salawat a hundred times for Abu l-Fadl al-‘Abbas’s mother -Umm al-Banin- and after that, my problem is solved.”

Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin writes in his book A’yan al-Shi’a, “Umm al-Banin was an eloquent poet, from a noble and brave family.”

Al-Muqarram says, “Umm al-Banin is counted among the virtuous ladies. She knew the right of Ahl al-Bayt (a) very well and loved them sincerely. In return, she had a special position among them.”

‘Ali Muhammad ‘Ali al-Dukhayl, a contemporary Arab writer, writes describing this great lady, “The greatness of this woman becomes obvious by this event: when she heard the news of the martyrdom of her sons, she did not pay attention to it, but asked about Imam al-Husayn (a). It is as if, Imam al-Husayn (a) is her son not her own sons.”

Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, the author of the book ‘Abbas b. Ali, ra’id al-karama writes about the virtues of Umm al-Banin, “No one has seen a woman like this pure lady (Umm al-Banin) in history who would like her fellow wife’s children honestly and care about them more [than her children].”

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