Sayyidatuna Umm ‘Atiyyah bint Harith
Maulana Bilal Sa’eed Attari Madani
As one of the illustrious Companions, Sayyidatuna Umm ‘Atiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا was an illustrious figure from the Ansar. Although better known by her teknonym, her actual name is Nusaybah bint Harith.
Sayyidatuna Umm ‘Atiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا was a seasoned scholar and jurist, (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala, vol. 3, p. 545, Raqm 155) who narrated forty hadith, of which six were included by both Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْهِمَا in their respective compendiums, (Tahzeeb-al-Asma wal-Lughaat, vol. 2, p. 364). Many Companions and Successors (tabi'un) learned hadith from her, (Taabqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 8, p. 333; Al-Istee’aab, vol. 4, p. 502).
Love for the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
‘O Messenger of Allah! May my father be sacrificed for you,’ (Nasai, p. 70, Hadith 388) was just one of her many expressions showing the deep love for the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم which brimmed in her heart.
A Gift from the Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم gave her a goat which was donated to charity (sadaqah) by someone. Sayyidatuna Umm Atiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا accepted it and gave a portion of its meat to Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا. When the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم arrived home, he asked, ‘Do you have anything [to eat]?’ Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا replied: ‘There is nothing except the mutton sent to us by Nusaybah [Umm Atiyyah] which you had given to her.’ The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم replied, ‘The charity had reached the one entitled to it [and for us, this is now a gift],’ (Muslim, p. 419, Hadith 2490).
A Tremendous Honour
Umm ‘Atiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا had the privilege of giving the funerary bath (ghusl) to the Prophet’s eldest daughter Sayyidatuna Zaynab رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا when she passed away. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم taught her the method himself. Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes:
Sayyidatuna Umm ‘Atiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا described the method of this funerary bath so precisely that her reports are considered the primary source for [information about] the funerary bath of women. Sayyiduna Ibn Mundhir رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said that there is no better report on this topic than that of Sayyidatuna Umm ‘Atiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا; the scholars have adopted it, (‘Umda-tul-Qaari, vol. 6, p. 53, under the Hadith 1253).
She رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا states: ‘I participated in seven military expeditions with the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. I would stay behind the warriors to cook their food, treat the wounded, and nurse the sick,’ (Muslim, p. 778, Hadith 4690).