The Hadith of Um Zara – The 11 women
Narrated ‘Aisha (Radi Allahu anha): Eleven women sat (at a place) and promised and contracted that they would not conceal anything of the news of their husbands.
The first one said, “My husband is like the meat of a lean weak camel which is kept on the top of a mountain which is neither easy to climb, nor is the meat fat, so that one might put up with the trouble of fetching it.”
The second one said, “I shall not relate my husband’s news, for I fear that I may not be able to finish his story, for if I describe him, I will mention all his defects and bad traits.”
The third one said, “My husband is a tall man; if I describe him (and he hears of that) he will divorce me, and if I keep quiet, he will neither divorce me nor treat me as a wife.”
The fourth one said, “My husband is a moderate person like the night of Tihama which is neither hot nor cold. I am neither afraid of him, nor am I discontented with him.”
The fifth one said, “My husband, when entering (the house) is a leopard, and when going out, is a lion. He does not ask about whatever is in the house.”
The sixth one said, “If my husband eats. he eats too much (leaving the dishes empty), and if he drinks he leaves nothing, and if he sleeps he sleeps alone (away from me) covered in garments and does not stretch his hands here and there so as to know how I fare (get along).”
The seventh one said, “My husband is a wrong-doer or weak and foolish. All the defects are present in him. He may injure your head or your body or may do both.”
The eighth one said, “My husband is soft to touch like a rabbit and smells like a Zarnab (a kind of good smelling grass).”
The ninth one said, “My husband is a tall generous man wearing a long strap for carrying his sword. His ashes are abundant and his house is near to the people who would easily consult him.”
The tenth one said, “My husband is Malik, and what is Malik? Malik is greater than whatever I say about him. (He is beyond and above all praises which can come to my mind). Most of his camels are kept at home (ready to be slaughtered for the guests) and only a few are taken to the pastures. When the camels hear the sound of the lute (or the tambourine) they realize that they are going to be slaughtered for the guests.”
The eleventh one said, “My husband is Abu Zar and what is Abu Zara (i.e., what should I say about him)? He has given me many ornaments and my ears are heavily loaded with them and my arms have become fat (i.e., I have become fat). And he has pleased me, and I have become so happy that I feel proud of myself. He found me with my family who were mere owners of sheep and living in poverty, and brought me to a respected family having horses and camels and threshing and purifying grain . Whatever I say, he does not rebuke or insult me. When I sleep, I sleep till late in the morning, and when I drink water (or milk), I drink my fill. The mother of Abu Zara and what may one say in praise of the mother of Abu Zara’? Her saddle bags were always full of provision and her house was spacious. As for the son of Abu Zar, what may one say of the son of Abu Zar? His bed is as narrow as an unsheathed sword and an arm of a kid (of four months) satisfies his hunger. As for the daughter of Abu Zar, she is obedient to her father and to her mother. She has a fat well-built body and that arouses the jealousy of her husband’s other wife. As for the (maid) slave girl of Abu Zar, what may one say of the (maid) slavegirl of Abu Zar? She does not uncover our secrets but keeps them, and does not waste our provisions and does not leave the rubbish scattered everywhere in our house.”
The eleventh lady added, “One day it so happened that Abu Zar went out at the time when the milk was being milked from the animals, and he saw a woman who had two sons like two leopards playing with her two breasts. (On seeing her) he divorced me and married her. Thereafter I married a noble man who used to ride a fast tireless horse and keep a spear in his hand. He gave me many things, and also a pair of every kind of livestock and said, ‘Eat (of this), O Um Zar, and give provision to your relatives.” She added, “Yet, all those things which my second husband gave me could not fill the smallest utensil of Abu Zar’s.” ‘Aisha then said: Allah’s Apostle said to me, “I am to you as Abu Zar was to his wife Um Zara.” 
Fundamental Issues and Islamic principles taken from this hadeeth
- The etiquette of a man listening to his wife without interrupting her speech. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) listened to Aisha (radi Allahu anha) without cutting her off while she was talking.
- The superiority of Aisha’s knowledge, comprehension and her preservation of the Shariah.
- Having nightly or evening chats are from the Sunnah.
- Thus hadeeth shows the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had excellent character.
- This hadith details the moral excellence of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)Whenever He was asked for something, He never said: “No”.Aisha (Radi Allahu Anha) asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about this hadith and he narrated to her word for word.
- It’s recommended for a scholar to make things easy to understand when asked about general issues. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would repeat His speech 3x,so that it could be understood.
- It’s recommended to ask questions in order to learn the religion. Aisha (radi Allah anha) asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about the Hadith of Um Zara’.
- Indirect expressions for divorce are invalid unless accompanied with the intention for divorce. Abu Zara’ divorced Um Zara and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) told Aisha (Radi Allah anha), “I am to you as Abu Zar was to his wife Um Zara’.”
- Just because something or someone resembles person or thing it does not necessary carry the same verdict. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) compared Himself to Abu Zara’ who divorced his wife and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) didn’t divorce Aisha based on his comparison of Himself to Abu Zara’.
- It’s permissible for the man to remind his wife about his kind treatment towards her to strengthen the bond of love.
- It’s allowed for a man to address some of his family in the presence of others. In one narration Aisha (radi Allahu Anha) mentioned there were other women with her, and the Prophet () said: I am to you as Abu Zar was to his wife Um Zara’”
- It is recommended for a man to do things to make his wife happy through his speech or actions.
- There is no harm for the man to remind his wife of his kindness towards her in order to avoid ungratefulness.
- If a man loves one of his wives more than others there is no blame on his behalf for that feeling. This hadith clearly shows the love the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had for Aisha.
- It’s permissible to praise yourself if that praise brings about goodness in religious and worldly affairs. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: I am to you as Abu Zar was to his wife Um Zara”
- It’s permissible to praise a man in his face if that praise doesn’t corrupt his sense of self. Aisha (Radi Allahu Anha) told the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “You are better to me than Abu Zara towards his wife.” [ collected in Musnad Abu Ishaq 2/237 with a sound isnad]
- It’s permissible to narrated authentic stories from the previous nations. In some narrations it mentioned these 11 women were in Jahiliyah.
- It’s permissible to joke with your family from time to time.
- It’s permissible to mention some beautiful descriptions of unknown women to other men or women. This is established in this hadith. It’s not allowed to mention a known woman’s description to others; as this might entice the listener to desire her. i.e my friends wife shouldn’t be described to me.
- This hadith shows that a man can have the same Kunya as his wife.
- This hadtih shows that whenever women get together in most times and chat they talk about men or just gossip.
Taken from “ Ra’ee Al-Far’a fi Sharhi Hadithi Um Zara’ by Ibn Nasrideen Ad-Dimishqi ( 777-842H)
Translated by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle
Doha, Qatar 1436©
 Al-Bukhari (5189)Muslim(244
 Shaykh Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr ibn Abdillah born 777 in Damacus . He travelled the earth and learned from 100’s of scholars during his era. Among the most well-known scholars he learned from was Ibn Mullaqqin,Al-Balqeeni, ibn As-Sa-niqh, Ath-Thahabbi’s son (Abdur Rahman). He authored Ithaful Salik bi Riwayatil Muwatta, Iftahul Qara’I li Sahih Al-Bukhari,Musnad Tamim Ad-Darami, and numerous others.