Ummul Baneen the first Noheh(lamentation poetry) Reciter for the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.)
Hazrat Abbas (A.S.) was the son of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.).His mother’s name was Fatima Binte Hazam bin Khalid Ibn-e-Rabi’e Ibn-e-Amer Kalbi. She was also known as ‘Ummul Baneen’. She belonged to the clan of Banu Kilah, which was one the noblest families amongst the Hashimites and famous for the bravery and valour of its warriors.
According to historical accounts Hadrat Ummul Baneen was born in the year 5 A.H.
Some years after the martyrdom of Fatima Zahra (A.S.), Imam Ali (A.S.) asked his brother Aqil ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) to offer the marriage proposal to a woman from a brave progeny. Being so knowledgeable in this regard, Aqil wooed Fatima Binte Hazam (Ummul Baneen) for Imam (A.S.) and they got married.
One of the bravest of the Holy Prophet’s followers Ja’far Tayyar, the brother of Hazrat Ali (A.S.). In the battle of Muta, Ja’far Tayyar carried the Banner of Islam and in that battle he was out-numbered by the enemies and killed.
When the news reached the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) he cried and prayed for Ja’far’s soul and the angel Gabriel came down and consoled (the Prophet), saying “Ja’far was a brave and loyal soldier. God has given him everlasting life, and in place of two arms which were cut off in the battle, the Lord has given him a pair of wings”.
Hazrat Ali (A.S.), who was sitting near the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) at that time, said, “Please pray to God that I should die fighting for the cause of Islam and become a martyr.”
But the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “O Ali (A.S.), your death has already been decreed. You shall die in the mosque during your prayers, but the Almighty will give you a son who will die in the battle on Ashura day”.
From that time Imam Ali (A.S.) eagerly awaited the birth of that son. (This prophecy was made in the year 8 A.H. when Imam Hasan (A.S.) was 5 years old and Imam Husain (A.S.) was 4.)
Imam Ali (A.S.) weds Hadrat Ummul Baneen
The world around the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) witnessed and history has vouched the fact that the gap in the domestic life and the happiness of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), created by the demise of Hadrat Khadija (A.S.) doubtlessly proved as irreparable for no other woman fittingly filled it up to give the Apostle of God the happiness at home or the harmony in his domestic life, and it is only about the good Hadrat Umme Salamah that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said: Ante ala! Khair,’ i.e., Thou art on goodness, which the good Lady proved true by not leaving the house of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) even after his departure from this world, and remaining as attached to his Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) as she was during his lifetime.
The same was the case with Hadrat Ali (A.S.) the First Imam, the Vicegerent of God on earth, succeeding the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). After the martyrdom of the Holy Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.), there was none in the world to take her holy place in the house of Imam Ali (A.S.) and the good Lady Ummul-Baneen served Hadrat Ali (A.S.) after Holy Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) as did Umme Salamah to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) after the demise of Hadrat Khadija (A.S.).
The Alliance for a Holy Cause
The prophecy from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) about the impending Zibhe Azeem’ or the Great Martyrdom of Husain (A.S.), had gained so much currency and had become a matter of such a conviction and concern to the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) that after the martyrdom of Holy Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.), Imam A1i (A.S.) called his brother Aqeel who was known for his knowledge about the tribal genealogies and told him to find out a respectable lady of a noble family, known for its bravery, for him to wed for he wanted to have a brave son from her to be his own representative there at Karbala to serve Husain (A.S.) the son of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and help him in the calamitous situation against his enemies and lay his life defending Husain (A.S.) on his own behalf, for Hasan (A.S.) and Husain (A.S.) were hailed as the sons of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and each one was addressed as Ibne Rasoolullah’ (son of the Holy Prophet).
All expressly and particularly stressed when he told Aqeel for the selection of a lady, that he wanted the determined issue from the lady to be the bravest one in the world, to serve Husain (A.S.) at Karbala on his own behalf. Aqeel said: “Marry thou, Ummul-Baneen-e-Kalbi, the daughter of Hazm bin Khalid-e-Kalbi, for braver than her father, there was none in the tribes.
Fatima Binte Hazam was an accomplished and cultured lady, and bore Hazrat Ali’s four sons, Abbas, Abdulla, Ja’far and Usman. The meaning of ‘Ummul Baneen’ is ‘Mother of Sons’. All of her sons were martyred along with Imam Husain. After their martyrdom, she requested people not to call her ‘Ummul Baneen’ ever again.
The day she entered the household of Hazrat Ali, she made it very plain to Imam Hasan (A.S.) and Imam Husain (A.S.) that she considered herself their slave, and she hoped and prayed that they would accept her as one. Her respect and affection for there was soon reciprocated by the two brothers, and even after her children were born, Imam Hasan (A.S.) and Imam Husain (A.S.) occupied a foremost place in her heart.
When Imam Husain (A.S.) was leaving Madinah for Iraq Hadrat Ummul Baneen asked her four sons, Hadrat Abbas (A.S.), Abdulla, Ja’far and Usman to sacrifice their lives in the sacred cause of Imam Husain (A.S.).
On 10th Muharram 61A.H.,the day of martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.) and his 72 faithful companions at the battlefield of Karbala when Hadrat Umme Salamah witnessed that the earth in the bottle given to him by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has turned into blood she raised the cry of “Ya Husain” Ya Husain” and declared that according Imam Husain (A.S.) has been martyred according to the prophecy foretold to her by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) about the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.).
Then Ummul Baneen gathered women of Madinah in her house and all cried for the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.). This was the first ever Majlis conducted after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.).
Ummul Baneen had such sincerity toward the Holy Prophet’s progeny that she loved Imam Hussain (A.S.) more than her own children. A feeling which was from the bottom of her heart. It was to the extent that when she received the news stating the martyrdom of her four children, she said: “Tell me about Hussain (A.S.)” and when she received the news of Imam Hussain (A.S.)’s martyrdom she said: “All of the arteries of my heart are torn. May all of my children and what ever that exists under this azure heaven be sacrificed for the sake of Imam Hussain (A.S.).
The first Noheh (lamentation poetry) Reciter for the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.)
After the arrival of Imam Sajjad (A.S.) and Hadrat Zainab (A.S.) in Madinah Hadrat Ummul Baneen used to gather women in her house and used to narrate them how Imam Husain (A.S.) and his companions were martyred by Yazidi forces.
Hadrat Ummul Baneen was a great poet and she is considered as the first Noheh (lamentation poetry) Reciter for the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.). She used to visit regularly the famous Jannat al-Baqi cemetery in Madinah and recite her Noheh in a very sad and pathetic voice that everybody present there used to weep bitterly.
She transformed the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery in Madinah as “the Centre of Azadari of Imam Husain (A.S.)”. The Noheh recited by Hadrat Ummul Baneen for the martyrdom of Imam Husian (A.S.) is recorded in history and is considered as masterpiece in Arabic literature.
It is recorded in historical accounts that Hadrat Ummul Baneen died on 13th Jamadi al-Thani 64 A.H. and was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery in the holy city of Madinah.
* Compiled by Dr Hyder Reza Zabeth