Her full name was Lubaabah bint al-Haarith al-Hilaaliyyah. She was the wife of 'Abbaas ibn 'Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s paternal uncle and the Mother of 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbaas, the great Companion and Commentator of the Qur’aan. She was also the sister of Maymoonah, the mother of the faithful and the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him). According to Ibn Sa’d, she was also one of the first women to embrace Islaam after Khadeejah.
Both Umm al-Fadhl and Maymoonah had two other stepsisters, namely Asmaa' and Salamah who were the daughters of Umays. It was these four sisters that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) described as, “The believing sisters!” What a praise, and what a truly great one!
Umm al-Fadhl performed many duties and chores for the noble household of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which behind the scenes helped and contributed greatly to the call of Islaam. This was because Umm al-Fadhl was a regular visitor of Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with her) and hence often also met the Prophet (peace be upon him). In this way it was more easier for her to acquire knowledge of her new faith from him.
Umm al-Fadhl had a great ability to keep secrets and fulfil promises with deep sincerity and for the sole interest of Islaam. This was an amazing trait as her husband was far far away from Islaam at the time and only accepted Islaam much later on. In fact he was the opposite of Umm al-Fadhl when it came to the initial days of the Da'wah movement and did not help the Muslims at all. Even though Umm al-Fadhl's husband was far away from the deen at that time, she was still dutifully patient towards him, the fruit of which she was to see in the future...for one day something wondrous and amazing was to occur.
Ibn 'Abbaas's worker witnessed mistreatment towards the Noble Messenger (peace be upon him) by Aboo Jahl. As his uncle, he became enraged and rushed to defend him even though he was not a Muslim at that time. Perhaps it was his love for tribalism that spurred him to act as he did. When this incident was taking place he had a quick decision to make: either to preserve his high status among the Quraysh or stand in support of his nephew and defend his blood-tie with him.
Amid all this, Umm al-Fadhl was expecting the decision of Allah concerning ‘Abbaas’s acceptance of Islaam. She eagerly wished that her beloved would see the light soon, before it was too late. She was also hoping that he would stop indulging in people’s wealth unlawfully, for he was of those who dealt in usury. In fact, he was well known for this, just as he was well known for his love of money.
Umm al-Fadhl was amazed and jubilant on the day ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) witnessed the allegiance of 'Aqabah and played an active role in it. Infact, he also acted as a guardian for his nephew Muhammad (peace be upon him). But when she saw her husband go out with the Quraysh in order to fight the Muslims in the battle of Badr, her pain and worry knew no bounds. "Why was he doing this?", "Why didn't he come out openly and proclaim his faith?", she wondered. Her worry only deepened and intensified when she saw her husband being taken as a captive after the Muslims had been helped by Allah and were victorious on that day. Yet, the Prophet's (peace be upon him) generosity was such that he released his uncle.
It was at this point in time that the light of eemaan (faith) began to creep into the heart of of 'Abbaas ibn 'Abdul-Muttalib as the darkness of arrogance began to drift away. All praise is due to Allah alone! The Battle of Badr infact turned out to be an even greater victory because the Prophet's (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dear uncle accepted Islaam. What a blessed household! None remained among them who disbelieved in the message of the Final Messenger, infact they became his ardent supporters. Umm Fadhl had always wanted ‘Abbaas to acceptance Islaam and now Allah Almighty had given her her hearts desire and the greatest gift for a Muslim Wife.
Umm al-Fadhl was so generous that she made her home a place of refuge for the weak and poor who could not afford to migrate and join the Muslims. This was because she knew that these needy Muslims were still at war with the enemies of Allah and that even though they had been denied the opportunity of confronting the enemy physically, they were fighting a war of perseverance in Makkah against the hostile Quraysh.
Among the greatest days of joy for Umm al-Fadhl and ‘Abbaas was when they heard of the victory of Khaybar. This was because on that day Allah gave victory to His Messenger (peace be upon him) over the Jews and the Muslims rightfully won Khaybar's booties and treasures. But it happened to be so that Umm al-Fadhl and 'Abbaas did not find out about Khaybar's conquest until later on. This is how the incident unfolded:
Hajjaaj ibn ‘Allat as-Sullami sought the Prophet’s permission to go to Makkah and recover his money and debts which were owed to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted him to go and also permitted him to say whatever he needed to as a strategic method by which Hajjaaj could retrieve his wealth from the Quraysh. Hajjaaj went to Makkah and began to spread the news that the Jews had killed Muhammad (peace be upon him) and that the Muslims had been defeated. He also told them that Muslims had been killed in great numbers and their women had been taken as captives by the Jews and the Quraysh actually believed him! In this way he retrieved all of his wealth and debts owed to him and he headed back to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in Madeenah.
‘Abbaas ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, who was present in Makkah at that time, approached Hajjaaj and asked him about the reality of the situation, for he was he was very very sad and worried to hear that his beloved nephew had been killed. Hajjaaj informed him of the truth but requested him to conceal the truth for three days. ‘Abbaas conceded and promised to do so. When Hajjaaj told ‘Abbaas the truth he was overjoyed to hear that the Muslims had won and the Jews had actually been defeated! He returned home and informed his wife Umm al-Fadhl about the truth of the matter and requested her to keep this news confidential. Her husband 'Abbaas trusted her because she was a woman of her word and a woman who was known to have the ability to keep secrets. After three days ‘Abbaas came out in public wearing his best attire, emanating of perfume, which his wife had applied on him.
He went out into the courtyard of the Ka’bah where the Quraysh leaders and public usually gathered. When they saw him dressed in this fashion, exuding perfume and shining with happiness, they began to mock him. They said, “Is that how one should show patience over a calamity, O Abul-Fadhl?!” They were referring to the supposed defeat the Muslims had suffered at Khaybar. Their mocking did not upset 'Abbaas; he simply informed them of the truth and how Hajjaaj had fooled them all so as to retrieve his money and the debts which people owed him.
‘Abbaas then added,
‘And Muhammad, my nephew, is now the husband of the daughter of the Jewish king, Huyay ibn Akhtab!’
The news came as a strong chilling wind towards them! They stood in utter shock and disbelief, feeling that they were now soon to be handicapped from the power and authority they once so injustly enjoyed. How true their feelings were.
Umm al-Fadhl remained in Makkah with her husband ‘Abbas until after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to Makkah with his Companions to perform the ‘Umrah of Qadhaa’ (of expiation, because they had been previously prevented from performing 'Umrah) they stayed in Makkah for three days. He then proposed marriage to Maymoonah, Umm al-Fadhl’s sister, a widow whose husband (Abu Rahm ibn ‘Abdul-‘Uzza) had died as a polytheist. Before Maymoonah's marriage to the Prophet (peace be upon upon him) she was living in the house of her sister Umm al-Fadhl and under the protection of ‘Abbas.
After all of the pilgrims left Makkah, ‘Abbaas and Umm al-Fadhl also migrated to Madeenah with their entire family.
In Madeenah Umm al-Fadhl was a frequent visitor to the Prophet’s house. She would either come to visit her sister Maymoonah or in order to visit the other wives of the Prophet. Her character was such that all of them enjoyed her company and acknowledged her excellence.
One night, Umm al-Fadhl had a dream; surprised and confused, she went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon) seeking the interpretation of her dream. Umm al-Fadhl explained to the Prophet (peace be upon him),
“Messenger of Allah, I saw in my dream that a part of your body was in my house!”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then interpreted, “Fatimah (my daughter) will give birth to a boy who you will nurse with the milk of Quthm (meaning her son)."
This famous Prophetic Narration shows us how Allah Almighty had blessed his Prophet (peace be upon him) with special knowledge. Indeed, before Faatimah had even given birth, by the will of Allah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prophesied that it would be a boy. This was in fact just one of the manifestations of revelations and prophesies which Allah had endowed his trustworthy Messenger and the seal of His Prophets, blessing and peace be upon him, with.
Fatimah gave birth to Husain and Umm al-Fadl nursed him along with her son Quthm. When Husain (may Allah be pleased with him) was only a few months old, Umm al-Fadhl brought him to his grandfather. The Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) then sat him down on his lap; the boy urinated on the Prophet (peace be upon him), for which Umm al-Fadl smacked him between his shoulders. The Prophet (peace be upon him) rebuked her for this, “You have hurt my son! May Allah have mercy on you!”
In this way Umm al-Fadhl visited the household of the Prophet (peace be upon him) just as a family member does. She was a woman who looked out for the Prophet’s household and played an important role in running, looking after and maintaining it.
She also possessed deep insight about the Deen. There are authentic narrations which clearly indicate her understanding and comprehension of the religion of Allah. For example, she performed the farewell pilgrimage with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the company of her husband 'Abbaas and her children. SubhaanAllah! How lucky she was and what an honourable company to have in such an honorable place! What made this honour even greater is the fact that this was on the blessed day of ‘Arafah. But on this day people where debating over a matter which they were unsure of. They were asking one another: “Is the Prophet (peace be upon him) fasting or not?”
Umm al-Fadhl performed an outstanding act to dispel this rumour when she took a vessel of milk and brought it to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). The Prophet took it from her and drank all of it in full view of the people. The people then realised that he was not fasting and so those of the Companions who were fasting broke their fasts.
There is no doubt that Umm al-Fadhl had indeed previously heard from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that it isn't permissible for the pilgrim to fast on the day of ‘Arafah. With her intelligence and wisdom she was able to clarify the confusion surroundiing this issue without having to speak unnecessarily before the men.
Not only is Umm al-Fadhl (may Allah be pleased with her) remembered for her great feats but also for the fact that she was the mother of the great Companion, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas, the learned of the Ummah, the interpreter of the Qur’aan and the scholar among the companions.