The Intelligence of Umm Habeebah

Umm Habeebah Bint Abee Sufyaan, may Allah be pleased with her, said:

O’ Messenger of Allah, marry my sister, Bint Abee Sufyaan. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Is that something you would like?’ I said: Yes. I am not your only wife, and the person I most prefer to share good with is my sister. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Indeed, that is not permissible for me.’

I said: We hear that you want to marry Bint Abee Salamah. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Bint Umm Salamah?’ I said: Yes. He (ﷺ) said: ‘She is my step-daughter, whom I raised. It is not permissible for me to marry her. She is also my niece by way of breastfeeding. Abu Salamah and I were breastfed by Thuwaybah. So, do not suggest to me your daughters nor your sisters. (1)

Benefits (2):

1. It is permissible for a woman to suggest to her husband a permissible woman to marry.

2. The delight that the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) had about him, and that they viewed marriage to him as good that should be pursued.

3. A display of the intelligence of Umm Habeebah and her excellent answer.

4. It is impermissible for a man to be [simultaneously] married to two sisters.

5. Baseless speech can spread amongst people. So, it is befitting to verify circulated words.

6. It is impermissible for a man to marry his stepdaughter.

7. The excellent teaching method of the Prophet (ﷺ); he clarified the reason for the ruling.   

8. It is prohibited to suggest an impermissible woman for marriage.


(1) Narrated by Umm Habeebah Bint Abee Sufyaan. Collected by al-Bukhaaree, #5101, and Muslim, #1449.

(2) See “Explanation of Key Hadeeth from al-Bukharee and Muslim”, by Shaykh al-Uthaymeen, pp. 799 – 800.

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