About Āmina bint Wahb al-Adnan (Bani Qureish)
Āmina bint Wahb (d. 46 before hijra/577), was the mother of the Prophet and one of the most eminent women of Quraysh. Her parents were distant cousins from an illustrious Qurayshī family: her father was Wahb b. ʿAbd Manāf b. Zuhra b. Kilāb, and her mother Barra bint ʿAbd al-ʿUzzā b. ʿUthmān b. ʿAbd al-Dār b. Quṣayy b. Kilāb. After the death of her father, who had been chief of the Banū Zuhra, she is said to have been under the guardianship of his successor, her uncle Wuhayb b. ʿAbd Manāf.
Āmina married ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib (q.v.) in the year 53 or 54 before hijra/569 or 570. There are various accounts of her marriage: one day ʿAbd Allāh, who some years previously had famously been reprieved by the sacrifice of 100 camels, was out hunting on his own, when he was attacked by a group of his enemies: he managed to fight them off and killed a number of them with his bow and arrows. This clash was witnessed by Wahb b. ʿAbd Manāf, who also saw the bravery and skill in archery that ʿAbd Allāh displayed. Wahb then went to tell the Banū Hāshim, and ʿAbd Allāh’s brothers hurried to the scene, and took the rest of his attackers prisoner. Deeply impressed by this episode, Wahb b. ʿAbd ¶ Manāf suggested to ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib that his daughter Āmina, who was renowned as one of the most beautiful, virtuous and modest of women, should marry ʿAbd Allāh, to which ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib agreed. ʿAbd Allāh also consented and the wedding was arranged; Wahb had hoped that his daughter could marry without a dowry, but at ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib’s insistence the dowry was set at 4,000 dirhams. Eventually, a double marriage took place, with ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib simultaneously marrying Āmina’s cousin, Hāla (al-Majlisī, 15/94–102, 282; Ibn Saʿd, 1/94–95; Ibn Isḥāq, 100; see also Watt, 1/438; Lings, 17–18).
According to Ibn Isḥāq (p. 102), Āmina gave birth to Muḥammad ‘on Monday 12 Rabīʿ I in the Year of the Elephant’, which is generally taken to be the year 52 or 53 before hijra/570 or 571. However, this apparently confident dating is highly doubtful and has often been questioned by later historians and scholars. For example, the exact dating of the ‘Year of the Elephant’ is unclear (see q.v. Abraha). Even were that date to be known, Muḥammad’s birth is said to have taken place ‘fifty days or two months after the departure of the elephant, or again ten, fifteen or even twenty years later’ (Lammens, 212, quoting an anonymous Sīra manuscript in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris). Furthermore, the reported age of the Prophet was based not on memory of the actual event of his birth but on retrospective calculations from the date of the hijra to Medina (see for example Ibn ʿAsākir, 1/21, which implies that the Year of the Elephant should be dated at 552 CE; see also Ibn Hishām, 1/167–168).
While she was pregnant, Āmina is reported to have had a dream in which she saw a light shining forth from her, by which she could see the castles of Buṣrā (Bostra) in Syria (al-Yaʿqūbī, 1/361). It is also reported that she was told in a dream: ‘you are carrying the prophet of this nation’ (Ibn Saʿd, 1/98; Ibn al-Athīr, ¶ 1/458–459; al-Majlisī, 15/325). According to most reports, ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib went on a trading journey to Syria, and on the return journey he stayed with his grandmother’s family in Yathrib (Medina). There he fell ill and died before his son was born. However there are also some reports that state that he died either two, seven or even twenty-eight months after Muḥammad’s birth. When he was born, Āmina sent word to his grandfather, ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, who took him to the Kaʿba and prayed over him. According to Ibn Hishām (1/168–169), when the baby was brought back, Āmina told ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib that she had been instructed to call him by the name Muḥammad.
Muḥammad was then brought up by his mother and a devoted servant, Baraka, apart from a period of just over two years when, as was customary, he was sent to be wet-nursed by a woman called Ḥalīma bint Abī Dhuʿayb from a Bedouin tribe, the Banū Saʿd b. Bakr. When Muḥammad was six, or possibly four, years old, Āmina took him to visit her family in Yathrib, but just after they had set out on the return to Mecca, she fell ill at a place called al-Abwāʾ, where she died and was buried. She is said to have been just thirty years old (Ibn Saʿd, 1/99; al-Yaʿqūbī, 2/10; al-Majlisī, 15/115; Āyatī, 52; Lings, 23–27).
Many scholars, especially the Shiʿis, hold that Āmina was a monotheist, believing that both of the Prophet’s parents and all his forefathers were of the monotheistic faith of Abraham (millat Ibrāhīm) (al-Majlisī, 15/11–118; cf. Ibn Saʿd, 1/116–117). When the Prophet passed by al-Abwāʾ at the time of al-Ḥudaybiyya, he made a special visit to his mother’s grave to tend it.
Muhammad Ali Mowlavi Tr. Farzin Negahban Bibliography
Āyatī, Muḥammad Ibrāhīm, Tārīkh-i payāmbar-i Islām, ed. Abū al-Qāsim Gurjī (Tehran, 1362 Sh./1983)
Ibn ʿAsākir, ʿAlī, Taʾrīkh ¶ Dimashq (Beirut, 1329–1332/1911–1914)
Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil
Ibn Hishām, ʿAbd al-Malik, al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya (Cairo, 1955)
Ibn Isḥāq, Muḥammad, Sīrat Rasūl Allāh, ed. Ferdinand Wüstenfeld (Göttingen, 1858–1860)
Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās (Beirut, n.d.)
Lammens, Henri, ‘L’Âge de Mahomet et la chronologie de la sīra’, JA, 10, no. 17 (1911), pp. 209–250
Lings, Martin, Muhammad (London, 1986)
al-Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir, Biḥār al-anwār (Beirut, 1403/1983)
Watt, W. Montgomery, ‘Āmina’, EI2, vol. 1, p. 438
al-Yaʿqūbī, Aḥmad, Taʾrīkh (Beirut, 1379/1960).
Citation Mowlavi, Muhammad Ali; Negahban, Farzin. " Āmina bint Wahb." Encyclopaedia Islamica. Editors-in-Chief: Wilferd Madelung and, Farhad Daftary. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 15 January 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-islamica/amina-bint-wahb-COM_0267> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Āmina bint Wahb's Timeline
April 20, 570
Mecca, Saudi Arabia