Whilst examining the evidences for the issue of whether a Muslim is permitted to seek ruqyah from a non-Muslim, I came across a narration from the Muwaṭṭaʾ of Imām Mālik (d. 179) [5:13777, no. 3472 in al-Aʿẓamī’s edition]:

Mālik, from Yaḥyá b. Saʿīd (d. 143), from ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān; “…that Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (d. 13), may Allāh be pleased with him, entered upon ʿĀʾishah (d. 57) while she was suffering [i.e. unwell] whilst a Jewess was performing ruqyah on her. So, Abū Bakr said, “Perform ruqyah on her with the Book of Allāh the Exalted and Mighty.”” Some jurists use this narration as proof it is permissible for Ahl al-Kitāb to perform ruqyah on a Muslim using the Qurʾān. The problem with the chain is that ʿAmrah was born 13 years after Abū Bakr passed away and so did not meet him. Consequently, the chain is munqaṭiʿ (disconnected) and hence ḍaʿīf (weak). For Sh. al-Albānī’s (d. 1420) insightful comments on this issue, see al-Ṣaḥīḥah 6.2:1167-1168.

Name and Family

Her name is ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Saʿd b. Zurārah b. ʿUdus b. ʿUbayd b. Thaʿlabah b. Ghanm b. Mālik b. al-Najjār [Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kabīr by Ibn Saʿd, 10:445], al-Anṣāriyyah, al-Najjāriyyah, al-Madaniyyah, the jurist, the one nurtured by ʿĀʾishah as well as being her pupil. [Siyar, 4:507] Her mother is Sālimah bt. Ḥakīm b. Hāshim b. Quwālah [Ibn Saʿd, 10:445].

Some err regarding her grandfather’s name. Nūḥ b. Ḥabīb al-Qūmisī (d. 242) said, “Whoever said; ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Asʿad b. Zurārah has erred. He [ʿAbd al-Raḥmān] is the son of Saʿd b. Zurārah who is the brother of Asʿad (d. 1H). Asʿad did not have any offspring, the child is Saʿd’s. People only erred because, [of the two brothers], the famous one is Asʿad. I heard this from ʿAlī b. al-Madīnī and those who know the ancestry of the Anṣār” [Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb of Ibn Ḥajar, 4:682]. It is said her father was a Companion and that her grandfather, Saʿd was from the elder Companions. Saʿd was the brother of the senior chief Asʿad b. Zurārah [Siyar].

ʿAmrah and her sisters were under the care and custody of the Mother of the Believers, ʿĀʾishah [Ibn Saʿd, 10:445]. Thus, she was nurtured by her and was her student [Siyar]. I am still unsure as to the circumstances regarding her parents and how she, and her sisters, ended up being cared for by our mother.

Her husband was ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Ḥārithah b. al-Nuʿmān b. Nafʿ b. Zayd b. ʿUbayd b. Thaʿlabah b. Ghanm. She had a son with him called Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān who is known as Abū al-Rijāl [Ibn Saʿd, 10:445]. Her agnomen (kunyah) was Umm Muḥammad [al-ʿIlal of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, 2:362, no. 2605].

Teachers

According to al-Mizzī (d. 742), the famous student of Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728) and the father-in-law of Ibn Kathīr (d. 774), she reported from:

  1. ʿĀʾishah, our Mother and the Prophet’s wife;
  2. Umm Salamah, our Mother and the Prophet’s wife;
  3. Rāfiʿ Khudayj;
  4. Umm Hishām bt. Ḥārithah b. al-Nuʿmān – her sister from her mother’s side, she was a Companion;
  5. Ḥabībah bt. Sahl;
  6. Umm Ḥabībah Ḥamnah bt. Jaḥsh;
  7. ʿUbayd b. Rifāʿah b. Rāfiʿ al-Zurqī;
  8. Marwān b. al-Ḥakam

See: Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 35:241. Referenced as [TK] henceforth.

Students

Those who reported from her:

  1. Abū al-Rijāl, also known as Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān – her son, his nickname (laqab), Abū al-Rijāl which means “Father of the Men” was given to him because he had 10 sons!
  2. Ḥārithah – Abū al-Rijāl’s son;
  3. Mālik – also Abū al-Rijāl’s son;
  4. Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Anṣārī – her brother or he is her brother’s son [TK];
  5. Yaḥyá ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān – her brother’s son;
  6. al-Qāḍī Abū Bakr b. Ḥazm – her sister’s son [S and TK] but in [TT] it says her brother’s son;
  7. ʿAbd Allāh – Abū Bakr b. Ḥazm’s son [S];
  8. Muḥammad – also Abū Bakr b. Ḥazm’s son [S];
  9. Yaḥyá b. Saʿīd b. Qays al-Anṣārī [TT];
  10. Saʿd b. Saʿīd b. Qays al-Anṣārī [TT];
  11. ʿAbd Rabbih b. Saʿīd b. Qays al-Anṣārī [TT];
  12. ʿUrwah b. al-Zubayr [TT];
  13. Sulaymān b. Yasār [TT];
  14. al-Zuhrī [S];
  15. ʿAmr b. Dīnār [TT];
  16. Ruzayq b. Ḥukaym [TK];
  17. Rāʾiṭah al-Muzaniyyah [TK];
  18. Fāṭimah bt. al-Mundhir b. al-Zubayr [TK];
  19. And others.

See: Siyar [S], 4:507, Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb [TT] 4:682 and Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 35:241.

Status

She was a Successor (Tābiʿiyyah) who, as we have seen above, narrated directly from prominent Companions of the Prophet ﷺ, especially from the Mother of the Believers, ʿĀʾishah, may Allāh be pleased with her. Not only was she a Successor, she was also the leader of all the women who were Successors. She was highly respected, reliable, trustworthy, a jurist who delivered fatāwá, a scholar, the most knowledgeable of ʿĀʾishah’s aḥādīth, a proof (ḥujjah) and an ocean of knowledge.

Her status, reliability and knowledge are attested to by the ḥadīth critics. al-ʿIjlī states, “Madīnan (Madaniyyah), Successor (tābiʿiyyah) and reliable (thiqah)” [TT]. Ibn Abī Maryam reports from Ibn Maʿīn that he said regarding ʿAmrah, “Reliable (thiqah), a proof (ḥujjah)” [TT]. Ibn Ḥibbān mentioned her in his al-Thiqāt. [TT] I say [Ibn Ḥajar]: “And Ibn Ḥibbān said, “She was from the most knowledgeable of people regarding the ḥadīth of ʿĀʾishah” [TT]. Ibn Saʿd said, “…and she was a scholar” [Ibn Saʿd, 10:445]. al-Dhahabī said, “She was a scholar, jurist, proof (ḥujjah) and abundant in knowledge” [S]. al-Zuhrī relates from al-Qāsim b. Muḥammad that he said to him, “O young man, I see you are eager in seeking knowledge, should I not direct you to its vessel?” I replied, “Certainly.” He said, “Take to ʿAmrah, for indeed she was under the care of ʿĀʾishah.” He said, “So I went to her and found her to be an inexhaustible ocean”” [S].

She specialised in the traditions of ʿĀʾishah. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr al-Muqaddamī said, “I heard Ibn al-Madīnī mention ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān and speak with great respect for her, and he said, “ʿAmrah is one of the reliable ones (al-thiqāt) knowledgeable of ʿĀʾishah and trustworthy (al-athbāt) with regards to her”” [TT]. Ibn al-Madīnī reported from Sufyān, “The most trustworthy (athbat) ḥadīth of ʿĀʾishah is the ḥadīth of ʿAmrah, al-Qāsim and ʿUrwah” [TT]. Shuʿbah reported from Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, “ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz said to me, “None remains more knowledgeable of the ḥadīth of ʿĀʾishah than her”: i.e. ʿAmrah. He said: “He ʿUmar used to ask her.”” [ISṬ]. Shuʿbah reported from ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. al-Qāsim who said, “I heard al-Qāsim asking ʿAmrah” [ISṬ]. Ibn Saʿd said, “She was a scholar. ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz wrote to Ibn Ḥazm to write the traditions of ʿAmrah for him.” [TT] Ibn Saʿd reports with his chain that ʿAbd Allāh b. Dīnār said, “ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz wrote to Abū Bakr b. Muḥammad b. ʿAmr b. Ḥazm to investigate whatever there was from the ḥadīth of Allāh’s Messenger, or the past Sunnah, or the ḥadīth of ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān [saying], “Write it down, for indeed I fear the effacement of knowledge and the departure of its people””.

Ibn Kathīr mentions that there were no women more knowledgeable from the female students of ʿĀʾishah than ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, Ḥafṣah bt. Sīrīn and ʿĀʾishah bt. Ṭalḥah [al-Bidāyah, 11:339].

Her Aḥādīth

al-Dhahabī observes, “Her ḥadīth are many in the registers of Islām (dawāwīn al-Islām).” [S]. More specifically, her aḥādīth are mentioned in the Six Books as indicated by Ibn Ḥajar in his Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb [p. 1365, no. 8742]. Her aḥādīth also feature in Imām Mālik’s Muwaṭṭaʾ. Interestingly, Imām Mālik narrates through ʿAmrah’s son, Abū al-Rijāl (i.e. Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān).

Here is one ḥadīth regarding whether a funeral prayer is required over a child which has passed away. She reported on the authority of ʿĀʾishah that she said, “Ibrāhīm, the son of the Prophet ﷺ, died when he was eighteen-months old and the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ did not pray over him” [Abū Dāwūd, no. 3187].

Her Character and Personality

According to ʿAbd al-Sattār al-Shaykh, the biographical dictionaries which include an entry for her, do not mention any stories relating to her, her characteristics and qualities [Aʿlām al-Ḥuffāẓ wa al-Muḥaddithīn, 4:390]. Nevertheless, he correctly infers that she was noble and held in high esteem, she was brought up and nurtured under the care and tutelage of ʿĀʾishah al-Ṣiddīqah, the Mother of the Believers, and so she must have learnt knowledge and actions from her, imitated her and followed her footsteps as was the way of the Righteous Salaf, may Allāh be pleased with them [ibid]. The fact that she followed closely in the footsteps of ʿĀʾishah is evident from her words; every time she is asked a question, she consistently states the words of ʿĀʾishah on the topic. Compare this to the people of today who, when asked a religious question, state their own flimsy opinion instead of quoting the Salaf.

She was one of the many knowledgeable people who advised al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (d. 61), the beloved grandson of the Prophet ﷺ, not to go to al-ʿIrāq. She wrote to him stressing the gravity of what he intended to do and commanded him to obey and adhere to the Jamāʿah. She also informed him that he was being driven to his place of death. She said, “I testify that I heard ʿĀʾishah say that she heard the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ say, “al-Ḥusayn will be killed in the land of Bābil.” When al-Ḥusayn read her letter he said, “My (place of) death therefore, is a must” [al-Bidāyah, 11:503]. I have not been able to locate the original source of this ḥadīth nor any grading of it as of yet. It is, however, widely cited by the Shīʿah from what I have gathered.

She had a strong sense of justice and held such authority that judges would cast their judgements aside if she contradicted them. In the Muwaṭṭaʾ of Imām Mālik (5:1230, no. 3107) Abū Bakr, the son of Muḥammad b. ʿAmr b. Ḥazm reported that he apprehended a Nabataean who had stolen iron rings. He detained him to amputate his hand but ʿAmrah sent a female messenger to him. Abū Bakr said, “So she came to me while I was in front of the people and said, “Your maternal aunt ʿAmrah says, “O my sister’s son, it has been mentioned to me that you apprehended a Nabataean for something insignificant and that you want to amputate his hand?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Indeed ʿAmrah says to you, “There is no amputation except for [what is valued at] a quarter of a dīnār (a certain gold coin) or more.” Abū Bakr said, “So I set the Nabataean free.””

Death

Abū Bakr b. Muḥammad b. ʿAmr b. Ḥazm narrates from ʿAmrah that she said to the children of one of her brothers, “Give me a place for my grave in the wall” – because they had a wall next to al-Baqīʿ – “for indeed I heard ʿĀʾishah, may Allāh be pleased with her, say, “Breaking the bones of the deceased whilst dead is like breaking it whilst alive” [Ibn Saʿd, 10:445].

Her son, Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān narrated, “ʿAmrah said to me, “Look at a piece of your land for my burial, for indeed I heard ʿĀʾishah, may Allāh be pleased with her, say, “Breaking the bones of the deceased is like breaking it whilst alive” [Ibn Saʿd, 10:445].

al-Dhahabī states, “They differed over her death [i.e. date], so it was said she died in the year 98 and it was also said she died in the year 106.” Ibn Ḥajar (d. 856) mentions three different dates of death: Abū Ḥassān al-Ziyādī said, “She died in the year 98.” Abū ʿUbayd Muḥammad b. Yaḥyá b. al-Ḥadhdhāʾ said, “She died in the year 106 and she was 77 years old” [TK]. Finally, Ibn Abī ʿĀṣim said, “She died in the year 103.” [TT]

al-Dhahabī though, seems to have eventually settled on 98H as he includes her amongst those who passed away in the year 98 in his Shadharāt al-Dhahab (1:395). He states, “And in it, the virtuous jurist, ʿAmrah bt. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Anṣāriyyah who grew up under the care of ʿĀʾishah and related prolifically from her, and she is the just criterion for what is accepted from her.” al-Ṣafadī also states she died in the year 98 [al-Wāfī bi al-Wafayāt 23:62].

Of the modern-era scholars, al-Ziriklī includes her in his dictionary of personalities under the name ʿAmrah al-Najjāriyyah. He states her year of birth to 21 and her year of death to be 98. She is described as the leader of the women of the Successors, a jurist and scholar of ḥadīth and reliable. She accompanied ʿĀʾishah, the Mother of the Believers, and learnt ḥadīth from her. [al-Aʿlām by al-Ziriklī, 5:72].

It seems to me Sh. al-Albānī may have been of the view that ʿAmrah died in the year 103. This is because he states in al-Ṣaḥīḥah (6.2:1167), that she was born 13 years after the death of Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq, which means she would have been born in the year 26H as he passed away in 13H. If she lived for 77 years as al-Ḥadhdhāʾ reports, it means she died in 103H. According to al-Ḥadhdhāʾ’s report though, she would have been born in 29H and this is latest death-date I have seen mentioned. The earliest she would have been born, if we accept that she died at the age of 77 in 98H, is the year 21H.

Points of Benefit

  • The virtues of the Mothers of the Believers and their engagement in spreading knowledge
  • The virtue of ʿĀʾishah, her eminent status amongst the Companions due to her knowledge, her love and care for children and her devotion to raising them upon beneficial knowledge and righteous deeds
  • The dedication of the Salaf in teaching both men AND WOMEN
  • There were women scholars of ḥadīth (muaddithāt) amongst the students of the Companions;
  • There were women jurists amongst the students of the Companions who delivered fatāwá. She is cited as one of the examples of women who delivered religious edicts;
  • ʿAmrah knew how to write which indicates writing existed amongst the Successors;
  • She corresponded with other scholars;
  • She advised others through speech and writing;
  • Mentoring and caring for children – the best care you can give them is Islāmic knowledge and manners even if you do not have a lot of the dunyá
  • The importance of teaching the Dīn to family members; brothers, sisters, one’s children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren etc because ʿAmrah taught numerous members of her family who narrated from her;
  • The virtue of knowledge and how it raises one’s status even those of straitened backgrounds and circumstances;
  • When quoting opinions of jurisprudence (fiqh), mention the names of the Salaf who held that opinion. If you adopt a particular opinion because the evidence seems strongest to you, do not say “My opinion on this issue is such and such” but say, I follow the opinion of so-and-so from the Salaf who held this opinion.” You are not an authority; you are a follower (muttabiʿ). If you do not know who from the Salaf held that opinion, mention the name of the contemporary ʿālim who does. Essentially, ascribe juridical opinions to the Salaf and to the contemporary ʿUlamāʾ who follow their footsteps – not to yourself.

Finally,

I ask Allāh the Mighty and Majestic to bless the Muslim women of today with the deep desire and effort to follow in the footsteps of the righteous women of this Ummah in their beliefs, how they worshipped and how they behaved in dress and manner.

Bibliography

Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal. Kitāb al-ʿIlal wa Maʿrifat al-Rijāl, Second Edition. Ed. ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad ʿAbbās. Riyad: Dār al-Khānī, 1422/2001.

al-Albānī, Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn. Silsilah al-Aḥādīth al-Ṣaḥīḥah wa Shayʾ Min Fiqhihā wa Fawāʾidihā, New Edition. Riyad: Maktabat al-Maʿārif, 1415/1995. See: 6.2, pp. 1167-8.

al-Dhahabī, Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. ʿUthmān al-Dhahabī. Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalāʾ. Eds. al-Arnāʾūṭ, Shuʿayb and Ḥusayn al-Asad. Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risālah, 1417/1996. 28 vols. See: 4:507-8, no. 199.

———-Shadharāt al-Dhahab fī Akhbār man Dhahab, 1st edition. Eds. ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Arnāʾūṭ and Maḥmūd al-Arnāʾūṭ. Beirut: Dār Ibn Kathīr, 1406/1986. 10 vols.

Ibn Ḥajar, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-ʿAsqalānī. Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb, First Edition. Eds. Ibrāhīm al-Zaybaq and ʿĀdil Murshid. Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risālah, 1429/2008. 4 vols. See: 4:682.

Ibn Ḥajar, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-ʿAsqalānī. Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb. Ed. Abū al-Ashbāl Ṣaghīr Aḥmad Shāghif al-Bākistānī. Riyad: Dār al-ʿĀṣimah, 1423. See: p. 1365, no. 8742.

Ibn Ḥibbān, Muḥammad al-Bustī. Kitāb al-Thiqāt. India: Maṭbaʿat Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif, 1393/1973. 10 vols. See: 5:288.

Ibn Kathīr, ʿImād al-Dīn Abū al-Fidāʾ Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah. Ed. Dr. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī. Jīzah: Dār al-Hijr, 1419/1998. 21 vols. See: 11: 339 and 503.

Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad. Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kabīr. Ed. Dr. ʿAlī Muḥammad ʿUmar. Cairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī, 1421/2001. 11 vols. See: 2:332 and 10:445.

Mālik b. Anas. Muwaṭṭaʾ. Ed. Muḥammad Muṣṭafá al-Aʿẓamī, First Edition. Abu Dhabi: Muʾassasat Zāyid b. Sulṭān, 1425/2004. 7 vols. See: 5:1377, no. 3472 for the ruqyah story and 5:1230, no. 3107 for the Nabataean story.

al-Mizzī, Jamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Ḥajjāj Yūsuf. Tahdhīb al-Kamāl fī Asmāʾ al-Rijāl. Ed. ʿAwwād Maʿrūf. Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risālah, 1403/1983. See: 35:241, no. 7895.

al-Ṣafadī, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Khalīl b. Aybak. Kitāb al-Wāfī bi al-Wafayāt, 1st edition. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1420/2000.

al-Shaykh, ʿAbd al-Sattār. Aʿlām al-Ḥuffāẓ wa al-Muḥaddithīn ʿabra Arbaʿata ʿAshara Qarnan: al-Qarn al-Awwal al-Hijrī, 1st edition. Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 1417/1997. 4 vols. See: 4:388ff.

al-Sijistānī, Abū Dāwūd, Sulaymān b. al-Ashʿath. Sunan Abī Dāwūd. Ed. Abū ʿUbaydah Mashhūr b. Ḥasan Āl Salmān. Riyadh: Maktabat al-Maʿārif, [n.d.]. See no. 3187.

al-Ziriklī, Khayr al-Dīn. al-Aʿlām: Qāmūs Tarājim li Ashhar al-Rijāl wa al-Nisāʾ min al-ʿArab wa al-Mustaʿribīn wa al-Mustashriqīn, 15th edition. Beirut: Dār al-ʿIlm li al-Malāyīn, 2002. See: 5:72.