Islamic History and the Women You Never Hear About: Sakina Bint al-Hussein

Fatima Mernissi, Islamic feminist, describes in her book Women’s Rebellion & Islamic Memory Sakina Bint al-Hussein, the great granddaughter of our beloved Prophet:

…[she forced] monogamy upon her third husband, the grandson of the Caliph ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affar. She even forbade him to approach another woman, including his own jawari, and did not allow him to go against the least of her desires. She divorced him among a great scandal when she caught him red-handed with none other than one of his ‘legitimate’ jawari […] She stipulated that he would have no right to another wife, that he could never prevent her from acting in accordance to her own will, that he would let her elect to live near her woman friend, Ummu Manshuz, and that he would never try to go against her desires. When the husband [Zayd] decided once to go against Sakina’s [may God be pleased with her!] will and went one weekend to his concubines, she took him to court, and in front of the Medina judge she shouted at him, ‘Look as much as you can at me today, because you will never see me again!’

Sakina was described by al-Zubairi, a historian who, like many others, was full of admiration for her, in these words: ‘She radiates like an ardent fire. Sakina was a delicate beauty, never veiled, who attended the Quraish Nobility Council. Poets gathered in her house. She was refined and playful. (page 83, 114–115)

Sakina Bint al-Hussein had a total of 5 or 6 men she married and divorced. In addition to bringing one of them to court for infertility, she fought with some and made passionate declarations of love to others.

She would have today been called a nashiz. The word existed then as well, but not in the same sense it exists today. Nashiz is now seen in “Islamic” law–outlined by insecure theologians forcing history to bend at their desperation–as a social problem, as a rebellious woman, a woman who knows and practices her true Islamic rights given to her by God than that which was stolen from her by men–a danger to the family structure.

A feminist.

15 thoughts on “Islamic History and the Women You Never Hear About: Sakina Bint al-Hussein

  1. I read that book too (in fact I devoured all of Mernissi's books that I could get my hands on) and I adore Sukaina so much I want to name my (possibly, future, inshallah) daughter after her!


  2. Zahra Noor Ali

    sorry to burst your bubble but Sukaina bint al – Hussein is not whom you are referring to here… Sakina Bint al Hussein died in Syria at the age of no more then 5yeas old she was captured and taken hostage by the army of yazid(la) therefore her marrying 5-6 men is not plausible she didn’t live that long to have the relations you type of nor did she ever leave her fathers house until her and her family journeyed to the plains of Karbala…..

    so let us talk of uthman’s lineage first
    Ruqayyah bint Muhammad, Muhammad’s daughter. Ruqayyah and Uthman had a son, Abd-Allah ibn Uthman, but he died early, because of him after Islam he was called by the surname Abu’Abdullah.
    When she died, Uthman was married to her sister,
    Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad, second daughter of Muhammad. Umm Kulthum bore no child.
    From Fahida bint Ghazwan
    Abdullah bin Uthman al-asghar, he died in early age.
    From Umm Al-Baneen bint Einiyah
    Abdulmalik bin Uthman, he too died in early age.
    From Ramla bany Sheibah
    Ayesha bint Uthman
    Umm Aban bint Uthman
    Umm Amr bint Uthman
    From Nailah bint Fraizah

    It is thought that uthman married two of Prophet Mohammed’s daughters but there is no authentic tradition that states that Prophet Mohammed had more than one biological daughter other than Hazrat Fatima (as) if there were these were his step daughters from women he had married after Hazrat Khadija….

    Now Uthman lineage of his children is as follows…..
    Wife: Nayla bint Farasa
    Son: Amr ibn Uthman
    Daughter: Aisha bint Uthman
    Son in law: Marwan I ibn al-Hakam
    Wife Ruqayyah bint Muhammad
    son: Abd-Allah ibn Uthman
    Wife Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad

    He had also a son named Aban

    From all this lineage the children that followed were not married into the family of the beloved household of the Prophet’s Family

    As mentioned Amr ibn Uthman died in an early age left no children….. Aisha bint Uthman married Marwan, Marwan’s children are as follows Al-Walid I, Hisham, Abdallah, Sulayman, Maslamah, Yazid II, neither did any of these men marry Sakina bint al Hussain…..

    I trust this has clarified the mistake in the history that you have mentioned.


    1. I am speaking of the Sakina bint Al Hussein who was born in 49 A.H. and died in 117 A.H. and who lived during the reign of Hisham Ibn Abd Al Malik (10th Umayyad caliph). She is written about in a number of sources, including by Aisha Abd al-Rahman and Ahmed abd al Halim, and is mentioned in the passages of several famous collections.


        1. Seeing as I’ve listed the sources for anyone to assess, I don’t entertain a “probably incorrect” or other nonsensical semblances of mansplaining. Stop taking up space.


  3. SH

    You reference is incorrect. Or you are taking the name of some other lady. Sakina bite Hussain just lived for 4 and half years and died in Yazid’s dungeon in yr 61 hijri


    1. The story about the daughter of Imam Husayn (a) dying in Yazeed’s dungeon is almost surely a fabrication, there are two sources that mention it, both are late sources, and neither is even in Arabic.

      Sukayna/Sakeena was the seconf daughter of Imam Husayn, she was the daughter of Rabab, and did indeed live a long time after Karbala, However the story as mentioned in the article is pure Umayyad fabrication to discredit the progeny of Muhammad (s).


  4. leia

    “nashiz” meaning a person who does nushuz is definitely not a good thing to be.
    In the Quran the person who does nushuz is someone who disrupts marital harmony (Sayyid Qutb) whether male or female. If a husband is a nashiz it is considered grounds for divorce while a woman nashiz would have to be talked to then if the situation doesn’t improve forsaken/separated from in bed and then if persistent in “nushuz” firmly nudged/ have anger expressed to them/ separated from or whatever you think “daraba” in the context of 4:34 means.


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  6. Sajjad

    I am a History student so will talk only on the basis of historical evaluation way.TECHNICALLY SPEAKING the story mentioned above is surely fabrication or related to some other lady as it comes from secondary sources. The most reliable history on the period from where all western or eastern/muslim historian take the reference is TAREEKH E TABRI which is considered Primary source amongst the genuine historians of islamic era. Since this story is not present in any one of the 40 volume of Tareekh e Tabri, simply this fact made this story highly doubtful being not available in Primary source. All histotical stuff whether muslims/western if not referred from tabri made it debatable, techinally. Tareekh e Tabri did mention about Sakina Binte Hussain in one of the volumes but only when the family of Prophet (mainly ladies) were produced infront of Yazid in his palace in damascus as a prisoner of war. Few odd incidents were also mentioned but all in Damascus as prisoner and nothing else


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  8. Neha bai

    Your wrong she didn’t marry to anyone 😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑she died in the age of 4 or 5 year of u don’t know anything then don’t write anything rubbish 😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑


  9. Zeb

    Hazrat Husayn had 2 daughters who were referred to as Sakina. This article is referring to the elder, who also went by the nomer ‘Fatima al Kubra’, not the Sakina who died as a child.



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