Is what is told about the marriage of Hz. Umar’s marriage with Hz. Ali’s daughter Umm Kulthum true?

The Details of the Question

It is written in Volume III of Hayatus-Sahaba that “Hz. Umar wanted to marry Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Hz Ali, that Hz. Ali sent his daughter to Hz. Umar and that Hz. Umar lifted her skirt and looked under it”. This act does not look like the act of a great Companion like Umar. What is the origin and source of this incident?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Umar’s Desire for Kinship with Ahl al-Bayt and his Marriage with Hz. Ali’s Daughter Umm Kulthum:

This incident in Hz. Umar’s life shows his love for Ahl al-Bayt. When Hz. Umar was the caliph, he asked Umm Kulthum’s father, Hz. Ali, for his daughter’s hand. Hz. Ali said. “She is little.”

Thereupon, Umar (r.a.) said, “No. By Allah, you want to prevent me.” He added, “If it is really as you say (she is a child), send her to me.” 1

In fact, Umm Kulthum, who was born before the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), was really very young. 2 The following is stated in a narration about her: “She was a little girl at that time.” In fact, the people who were with Hz. Umar, who was waiting for the result in Masjid an-Nabawi, said to him, “O Leader of the Believers! What do you want from her? She is a little girl.”

Along with Umm Kulthum’s young age, Hz. Ali wanted to marry her off to the orphaned son of his brother Jafar Tayyar, who was martyred in Mu’ta.

Hz. Ali went to his house. He gave a dress to Umm Kulthum and said, “Take this to the Leader of the Believers and say to him: ‘My father asks you how you find this dress?’ He sent her to Hz. Umar. Umm Kulthum, who was a child, was unaware of anything. She took the dress to Hz. Umar and repeated what his father had said. When Umar grabbed Umm Kulthum’s izar (forearm), she pulled her arm away.”3

Umm Kulthum got angry with Umar. Hz. Umar said, “She is a chaste and honorable person.” Then, he said to Umm Kulthum, “Go and tell your father this: It is very beautiful. By Allah, it is not as you said.”

Thereupon, Hz. Ali married her off to Umar. There are also different narrations similar to one another regarding the issue. According to Dhahabi, Hz. Umar married Umm Kulthum in the 17th year of the Migration. 4

In fact, Hz. Umar (ra) had a different purpose in marrying Hz. Ali’s daughter. When Umar wanted to marry Umm Kulthum, according to a narration, he said, “O Abul-Hasan! Marry her off to me because I definitely expect a value and honor that no one expects from her.” he said.

He said, “It does not matter if she is very young” and explained the value he expected from Umm Kulthum to Hz. Ali as follows:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say, ‘All causes/ties, ancestry (lineages) and kinships end except for my cause, my lineage, and my kinship’” 6

The following addition exists in another narration: “I also wanted a kinship between me and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to occur through a cause and marriage.”7

a) Hz. Umar was not from Ahl al-Bayt by lineage. He wanted to have a relation with Ahl al-Bayt and the Prophet at least through marriage on the Day of Judgment.

b) He was very eager to have a connection and closeness with the descendants of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). His marriage with Umm Kulthum was not for any other reason; her being very young and his marital relationship with her are secondary issues. He wanted to marry her by saying to Hz. Ali, “I really want a limb (organ) from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) next to me.” 8 Ali said, “I only have Umm Kulthum (born of Fatima) but she is very young.” Hz. Umar said, “She will grow up if she lives.” 9

He wanted to have a cause and a piece of flesh from the descendants of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) for the Day of Judgment. Sabab (cause) is a “habl” (rope) to climb trees like date palms. Every occasion through which something is achieved is called a cause. 10 Everything that leads to knowledge is also a cause. Being the daughter of Fatima and a “sayyida”, Umm Kulthum will be a means of reaching the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) on the Day of Judgment and forming a relation with him. “Dhari’a” also means cause. As a matter of fact, Imam Shafii states the following in one of his poems expressing his love for Ahl al-Bayt:

“Aal-i Nabiyy (the family of the Prophet) is my cause/rope. They are also a means connecting me to him/the Messenger of Allah.”11

He mentions the same issue in the poem. This marriage of Hz. Umar is a great piece of evidence for his love and respect for the Prophet (pbuh) and Ahl al-Bayt.

After getting married to Umm Kulthum, Umar said to Muhajirs and Ansar, who were sitting in Masjid an-Nabawi “Will you not congratulate me?” They said, “O Leader of the Believers! Why should we congratulate you?” He answered, “Due to my marriage with Ali’s daughter, Umm Kulthum...”

Then, Hz. Umar mentioned the hadith of the Prophet about the breaking off all causes and relations on the Day of Judgment and said, “I also wanted a kinship between me and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to occur through a cause and marriage. I desired it very much as a requirement of love.” 12 Thereupon, the people who were there congratulated him.

Indeed, his kinship with Ahl al-Bayt made him very happy.

In Islamic culture, marriage with sayyidas and sharifas (female descendants of the Prophet) was highly in demand especially because of this incident. 13

Hz. Umar had a daughter named Ruqiyya and a son named Zayd from Umm Kulthum. Their children did not live long. After Hz. Umar’s death (23 H / 644 AD), Umm Kulthum married her paternal uncle’s son Awn b. Jafar. When her second husband died without having any children, she married Muhammad b. Jafar, another son of her uncle. She had a daughter from him. After his death, she married Abdullah b. Jafar. She died while she was married to him and without any children from her last husband. 14

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Is it not perversion for Hz. Umar to enter the nuptial chamber with a girl who had not reached the age of puberty?

Footnotes:

1. Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 284; Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 168
2. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 169; al-Khulafaur-Rashidun, p. 68. This marriage took place in 17 H.
3. Fa akhadha Umaru biziraiha fajtazabatha minhu; Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 168; Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 284.
4. We do not include other narrations since dealing with all narrations and discussing will lengthen the issue. For detailed information, see Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 284; Dhakhairul-Uqba, pp. 148-170; al-Khulafaur-Rashidun, p. 68
5. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 168; Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 284.
6. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 168; Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 285.
7. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 169
8. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Fatima is a piece of flesh from me. Since, Umm Kulthum was born of her, she is also regarded as a flesh from the Messenger of Allah.
9. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 169; Tarikhul-Khamis, p. 284 ff.
10. al- Mufradat, p. 220; see the word sabab.
11. al- Mufradat, p. 220; see the word sabab.
12. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 168.
13. Tuğrul Bey had a similar marriage.
14. Dhakhairul-Uqba, p. 170; al-Khulafaur-Rashidun, p. 103; Murujudh-Dhahab, II, 353.

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