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Piety in the Palace​

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(Ummul Baneen [rahimahallah] – Part One)

When the lives of ‘royal women’ who led lives of piety are discussed, then in many instances, the first name to be mentioned is that of Faatimah bintu ‘Abdil Malik (rahimahallah), the wife and cousin of ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah). However, there was another ‘royal woman’ from the very same household who was also renowned for her piety. This woman was none other than Ummul Baneen (rahimahallah), the sister of ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) and cousin of Faatimah bintu ‘Abdil Malik (rahimahallah).

Ummul Baneen (rahimahallah) was married to her cousin, Waleed bin ‘Abdil Malik, who was the ruler of the Islamic empire during his time. However, despite enjoying a position that made her the equivalent of a queen, she was not arrogant and filled with pride, nor was she intoxicated by the wealth and power that came with being married to the ruler. Instead, she always attributed the bounties and blessings that she enjoyed to Allah Ta‘ala and acknowledged that it was on account of His favour alone that she enjoyed immense privilege and honour. It is for this reason that when she was once asked, “What is the most beautiful scene that you have ever beheld?” she replied, “The scene of Allah Ta‘ala’s favours being showered upon me.”

Her devotion in salaah was also remarkable. In this regard, it is mentioned that she would often call some of her friends to come and spend time with her. When these friends would come, they would sit together and speak to one another, enjoying each others’ company. However, if her friends were engaged in a conversation while she was performing salaah, she would be oblivious of their presence and would not hear even a single word of their conversation. Hence, she once mentioned to them, “I love speaking to you and thoroughly enjoy our conversations, but when I stand in salaah, I am completely oblivious of your presence and even forget that you are here.”

Similarly, her time with her friends would not distract her from the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala or make her negligent of Him – let alone cause her to fall into the disobedience of Allah Ta‘ala. Thus, she once mentioned, “When people are engaged in conversation, then there is nothing better with which they can adorn and beautify themselves than the fear of Allah Ta‘ala within their hearts.”

Furthermore, despite hailing from the royal family and having servants at her beck and call, she did not consider it below her dignity to personally attend to the chores of the home. Hence, she was once seen preparing a pot of food. When she was asked regarding the food, she replied, “It is a dish that Ameerul Mu-mineen (her brother, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez [rahimahullah]) wished to eat, and so I am preparing it for him.”

Insha-Allah, more aspects regarding the life of this remarkable woman will be discussed in the parts to come.

(Bahjatul Majaalis vol. 1, pg. 119, Sifatus Safwah vol. 2, pg. 431 and Taareekh Dimashq vol. 70, pg. 206)

Lessons:

1. No matter which family we come from or how much of wealth we may have, we must always remain humble and remember that everything is a favour of Allah Ta‘ala. Furthermore, if He wishes, He can snatch away every blessing in the blink of an eye.

2. After imaan, it is the ‘ibaadah of salaah that holds the greatest importance. Hence, we should invest our time and energy into perfecting our salaah, as this investment yields tremendous profits in this world as well as the next. However, this will only materialise if we show salaah its due importance. Instead of performing salaah as if we are ‘merely doing it to get it over with’, we should perform it with care, attention and the focus of the heart and mind.

3. When associating with friends, we should be ultra-cautious to ensure that we do not fall into sin e.g. gossip and backbiting. In fact, we should try to make the meeting with our friends a means of us drawing nearer to Allah Ta‘ala. One way through which this can be achieved is for us to take some time out to speak about Allah Ta‘ala or even read from some Deeni books such as Fazaail-e-Aa’maal. Additionally, we must only keep the company of pious people, as it is hoped that their company will have an effect on our hearts and motivate us towards righteousness.

4. To maintain love and ties with our family members, we do not have to buy expensive gifts for them. Sometimes, preparing a dish that they like and sending it for them is sufficient as a gesture of love to keep the hearts united.

5. We should never consider it below our dignity to ‘roll up our sleeves’ and attend to the chores of the home.