It was a lazy Sunday. I was still in bed. My bedroom looked like a battle ground: clothes on the floor, games and books strewn all over and half eaten leftovers marking the territory. I was preparing for the worse –mom’s long lecture. The door creaked open, and I quickly tucked under my duvet pretending to sleep.
“Ali… Ali!” Mom shouted stepping into the room.
“Mmm…” I mumbled silently praying that she would remember her roti on the stove and rush back to the kitchen.
“Ali, I am not leaving, until you come out from under your covers.”
How could mothers read your mind without looking? I peeped out with ruffled hair.
“What do you intend to do about this place that was once a bedroom, young man?” Mom stood with crossed arms and a hard stare.
“Oh mom! It’s Sunday. Can’t I have a break for a day? I don’t want to work.” I protested.
Mom’s expression softened. She came over and sat down next to me: “Who is your favourite person in the whole world?”
“The Prophet (sa),” I whispered.
“And my favourite person is Umm Aiman, the Prophet’s (sa) foster mother,” mom said dreamily.
Ali wrinkled his brows thoughtfully: “I’ve never heard of her.”
“Her real name was Barakah bint Thalabah,” mom continued, “She was originally a slave of the Prophet’s (sa) father Abdullah.”
“What was so special about her?” I inquired curiously.
“Well, when the Prophet (sa) was just six years of age, his mother Amina took him to visit her family of Banu Najjar in Madinah. On their way back to Makkah, she fell ill at Abwa and passed away. Barakah looked after the Prophet (sa) at that critical time like a mother. The Prophet (sa) use to call her mother. He also gave her the glad tidings of Paradise.” Mom explained.
“Really?”I was surprised.
“Yes. She was like a family member. When the Prophet’s (sa) wife Khadijah (rtaf) died, Barakah (rtaf) was deeply saddened and prepared her for burial. Similarly, when the Prophet’s (sa) eldest daughter Zainab (rtaf) passed away, again Barakah was grief stricken and prepared for her burial.”
“She was a very brave woman. Barakah participated in the battles of Uhud, Khyber and Hunain, nursing the wounded. She was married to Zaid bin Haritha (rtam), who was a general of the Muslim army and the Prophet’s (sa) beloved adopted son. He was martyred in the battle of Mutah. Barakah (rtaf) also had a son Aiman (rtam), who grew up to be a prominent companion and was martyred in the battle of Hunain. Her other son Usama bin Zaid (rtam) also led the Muslim army as a general.”
“Wow! They were all soldiers,” I commented admiringly.
“The Prophet (sa) not only loved her but also served her. Once, when all of them were seated together, the Prophet (sa) was drinking water. Barakah (rtaf) asked him to fetch some water for her, too. Aishah (rtaf) was shocked and asked her, how could she ask the messenger of Allah to get her water? Barakah (rtaf) replied: ‘Why not? I have served him often.’”
“When the Prophet (sa) visited her, Barakah (rtaf) was delighted. She would serve him delicious food and drink. If the Prophet (sa) refused to eat due to his fast, she would get upset. And the Prophet (sa) just smiled.”
“During her migration from Makkah to Madinah, she experienced such severe thirst that she thought she would die. From nowhere Barakah saw a bowl of water tied to an extremely beautiful and white rope descending from the sky toward her. She drank from it to her heart’s content. This was a miracle of Allah (swt) for her. After that Barakah says that she never felt thirst even on the hottest days while fasting.”
“Was it because she cared for the Prophet (sa) so well?” I asked.
“Yes, and also his family. When the hypocrites of Madinah accused Aishah (rtaf),Barakah (rtaf) said: ‘My eyes and ears have the best impressions about her.’ This brought her very close to Aishah’s (rtaf) heart.”
“Did the Prophet (sa) teach her Islam?”
“Barakah (rtaf) was from Abyssinia. She pronounced some words with the Ethiopian accent. Whenever she mispronounced something the Prophet (sa) patiently and lovingly corrected her. She could not say ‘Assalam Alaikum’. Instead, she would say ‘Assalam La Alaikum’. The Prophet (sa) tried teaching her the correct way, but when she couldn’t grasp it, he advised her to stay silent, as the meaning changed due to her wrong utterance.”
“When the Prophet (sa) passed away, Barakah (rtaf) burst into tears and could not withstand the pain of his separation. It surprised the people around her, as she had been through so many trials and losses, but they had never seen her grieve like that. Abu Bakr (rtam) and Umar (rtam) visited her after a few days to help her feel better. But she cried that with the Prophet’s (sa) death, the revelation of the Quran had also come to an end. Both companions started to weep along.”
“She must have loved the Prophet (sa) dearly,” I said sadly.
“Every mother loves her child like that. And those kids, who listen to their mothers, become the apple of their eyes.” Mom replied with a smile.
I looked around and felt guilty. Mom just got up and started to walk out of the door. I knew what to do. “Mom!” I yelled after her. “Come back after fifteen minutes, and I will surprise you!”
Mom came back and hugged me tightly. “I can’t wait to see, what it is going to be.”
As soon as mom left, I got down to business, doing the job I hated the most – cleaning up. Only for my mom.