Pious Women

Sayyidatunā Shifāʾ bint ʿAbd Allah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا

Wasim Akram Attari Madani

Laylā bint ʿAbd Allah, better known by her sobriquet “Shifāʾرَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا, hailed from the ʿAdī clan of the Quraysh. An esteemed Companion from the early converts to Islam and the first women to migrate for Allah’s sake, she was a proficient teacher, scribe, and physician who possessed the then rare skill of reading and writing even before Islam.[1] Her parents were ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbd Shams and Fāima bint Abī Wahb al-Makhzūmiyya.[2] The Companion Sayyidunā Abū athma ibn udhayfa al-ʿAdawi رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ married her, and together they had a son, Sayyidunā Sulaymān ibn Abī athma رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ.[3]  The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would take the siesta at her home, for which she prepared a special bed. Her son, Sayyidunā Sulaymān ibn Abī athma رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ took care of this bed—as it was a source of blessings—until the ruler of Madina, Marwān ibn akam seized this sacred relic.[4] Her house was likely near the markets and Eid prayer area of Madina, as it is reported that the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم led the Eid prayer near her home.[5]

The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم granted her a house in Madina, in which she lived along with her son. Sayyidunā ʿUmar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ would give priority to her opinions; be favourable to her; and give her precedence.[6] She was adept in treating skin ulcers (namla) and was instructed by the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم to teach Sayyidatunā afsa رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا “the cure for skin ulcers just as you taught her to write.”[7]

Namla is a condition in which small ulcers appear on the ribs, causing irritation, discomfort, and a feeling of ants (namla) crawling on the body. In Makkah, Sayyidatunā Shifāʾ رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا was acclaimed for effectively treating this illness.[8]  She رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا had the honour of narrating directly from the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and Sayyidunā ʿUmar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ.[9] She reported twelve narrations.[10] Her son Sayyidunā Sulaymān ibn Abī athma, her grandsons Abū Bakr and ʿUthmān, her student Abū Isāq, and Sayyidatunā afsa رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُم [11] transmit hadith from her, which are recorded by al-Bukhārī, Abū Dāwūd, and al-Nasāʾī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْهم in their respective collections.[12]

[1] Usd Al-Ghabah, vol. 7, p. 177, Futooh Al-Buldan, vol. 1, p. 454

[2] Al-Istee’aab, vol. 4, p. 423

[3] Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 8, p. 210

[4] Al-Isabah, vol. 8, p. 201

[5] Wafa Al- Wafa, vol. 3, p. 881

[6] Al-Isabah, vol. 8, p. 202

[7] Abu Dawood, vol. 4, p. 15, Hadith 3887

[8] Mirat ul Manajeeh, vol. 6, p. 242

[9] Tahzeeb Al-Tahzeeb, vol. 10, p. 482

[10] Al-A’lam lil Zirikli, vol. 3, p. 168

[11] Tahzeeb Al-Tahzeeb, vol. 10, p. 482

[12] Tahzeeb Al-Kamal, vol. 11, p. 730




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