Lessons of Faith from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

blueflowersMother’s Sacrifice for Her Orphan Son

Umm Sulaym (ra) grieved for her unbelieving husband, for they had spent many years together under the same roof despite their differences. She turned her attention to little Anas (ra) and said, “I will re-marry when my son Anas allows.” She nourished him with the Quranic verses and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) until Anas (ra) grew up into a trustworthy young man.

Blessed with intellect and wisdom, it struck Umm Sulaym (ra) to request the Prophet (sa) to accept Anas (ra) in his service. The mother desired the best for her son. What could be better than learning directly from the Prophet (sa) while also serving him? The Prophet (sa) accepted this young man who grew up with the Quran and Sunnah.

Lessons to Draw: When being tested, people leave whatever good they are doing and devote their time to mourning over their loss and in depression. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us to rise up in the face of calamity. She focused her attention on the other blessings of Allah (swt) that she enjoyed – her son. She had him to be thankful for, look after and nurture.

What is our attitude in affliction? What has Allah (swt) given us that we are ignoring?

While at one point Umm Sulaym (ra) says she would not re-marry (that is separate herself from her son) until her son permitted; she later gave her beloved boy to the Prophet (sa). She knew she could give him love, but she could not raise or educate him better than the best of mankind. She picked the best teacher for her son and endured the temporary separation for his betterment. We must pay attention to our children’s education. If they are not being homeschooled, what kind of school have we chosen for them? Who are their teachers? Do they instil the love of Allah (swt) in their little hearts along with education? What kind of education are they being delivered?

While at one point Umm Sulaym (ra) says she would not re-marry (that is separate herself from her son) until her son permitted; she later gave her beloved boy to the Prophet (sa)

The Best Dowry of All

One of the richest men from the Ansar (the helpers of Madinah) had heard of Umm Sulaym’s admirable virtues. Her integrity and her courage, appealed him. When he learnt that she was a widow, he decided to marry her. Being affluent, he had no qualms about the dowry. He had decided he would present her with as much gold and silver as she desired. He was confident that his proposal would certainly be accepted. Umm Sulaym (ra), however, surprised him.

When this man approached her, the woman of Taqwa said, “A man like you cannot be refused, the problem is that you are an idol worshipper. It does not befit me to marry a polytheist.” The man requested her to re-consider and offered to present her with as many jewels as she desired. Umm Sulaym (ra) replied, “My dowry is Islam. Accept Islam. I will marry you. Upon your becoming a Muslim, I will not demand any other dowry.”

We must pay attention to our children’s education. If they are not being homeschooled, what kind of school have we chosen for them? Who are their teachers?

She then talked about his idols. The gods that he worshipped were crafted by people with their own hands. When they required firewood, they would throw their idols into fire and cook meal. The man agreed that it was indeed true. Umm Sulaym (ra) continued and asked him if he did not feel embarrass to prostrate to a wooden piece that grew from the Earth. A wooden piece that could not help its own self, could not solve his problems either.

The man held his head low and did not utter another word. Umm Sulaym (ra) again presented her proposal to him that if he agrees to embrace Islam, she will accept his marriage proposal. The man asked for some time to think and then accepted Islam. Anas (ra) was called and instructed to arrange the Nikah of his mother with Abu Talha Ansari (ra).

Abu Talha (ra) then approached the Prophet (sa) and inquired about the unique dowry that he had been demanded. The Prophet (sa) accepted ‘Islam’ as Umm Sulaym’s dowry and conducted their Nikah.

Lessons to draw: Allah (swt) replaced an unbelieving, unkind husband with him who was much better in many ways. One person abandoned her, Allah (swt) sent another to take care of her. We keep complaining to people that they are not giving us our right or not helping us, but we don’t ask Ar-Razzaq – He, who provides all kinds of provisions. Umm Sulaym (ra) did not remain undeterred because of a grudge. Her sacrifice was for her religion. She loved Allah (swt) more. He who loves or hates someone or something for the sake of Allah (swt), his sacrifices are never ignored by Him. The only condition is the standard of our Iman (faith). How sincere are we?

Have Tawakkal on Allah (swt) if future appears bleak today, it would not remain so forever. Allah (swt) will bring relief to us when He thinks it is right for us with what He chooses for us.

Umm Sulaym (ra) proved that to her faith mattered. Through her Dawah abilities, she convinced the man to come to the truth ‘before marriage’, not later.

We also see that Umm Sulaym (ra) gives no attention to the financial standing of Abu Talha (ra). She rejects him on the basis of his faith. Many a times, we put the faith behind thinking we can work on it later and go ahead with the marriage. When later arrives, girls have either fallen to a lower level of faith or marital conflicts have emerged. Umm Sulaym (ra) proved that to her faith mattered. Through her Dawah abilities, she convinced the man to come to the truth ‘before marriage’, not later.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

Lessons of Fortitude from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

shell_in_the_sand_1600x1200When someone is loved by their dear ones, they are called by many nick names. Same was the case with Umm Sulaym (ra). Though widely known as Umm Sulaym, some of her other names were: Sahlah, Ghameesa, Rameesa, Rumaylah and Mulaykah.

She was the daughter of Malhan ibn Khalid. Her first husband was Malik ibn Nadhr, from whom she had Anas ibn Malik (ra) and Barah (ra). She later married Abu Talha (ra). She was a woman blessed with beauty, intellect, good character, fortitude and independent thinking. Her distinguishing trait, however, was her love for Islam and its defence.

Conversion to Islam

Umm Sulaym (ra) is one of the forerunners who embraced Islam as soon as the message reached her. Her husband was not in town. When he learnt that his wife had converted to Islam, he asked her if she was a Sabi (without any religion). Umm Sulaym (ra) replied that she had not left religion. Rather, she had embraced faith and followed the truth. Her husband threatened her. But Umm Sulaym (ra) remained calm. Her heart was filled with the love of her Creator (swt) and His Messenger (sa).

(Note: Umm Sulaym (ra) remained married to an unbeliever because at that time the verses that prohibit such a marriage were not revealed.)

We blame our families for our mediocre adherence to religion. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us courage to find our own way to build a strong connection with Allah (swt)

Lessons to draw: Umm Sulaym (ra) knew her salvation in the hereafter did not depend on her husband. She was a woman of independent thinking. She submitted to the commands of Allah (swt) and did not allow her husband to dissuade her. When our family does not support us in the way of Allah (swt), we take that as an excuse for not excelling in religion. We blame our families for our mediocre adherence to religion. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us courage to find our own way to build a strong connection with Allah (swt), and not depend on people to connect with Him. She also did not fear that if her husband left, what will become of her.

How strong are we in the path of Allah (swt)?

Paying attention to the necessary

Umm Sulaym (ra) did not engage herself in conflicts and arguments. She directed her energies to that which actually mattered – the upbringing of her son Anas (ra). She started with the basics and taught him the words of Adhan (call to prayer). One day, little Anas (ra) was memorising La ilaha illa Allahu Muhammad ur Rasulullah, when his father saw him. Furious as he was, Malik ibn Nadhr confronted his wife for spoiling their son and warned her to stop. Umm Sulaym (ra) again calmly replied that she was not spoiling their son, but educating him.

Arguments became a norm in Malik’s house. Malik threatened his wife that if she did not leave her religion, then he will have to leave her. Umm Sulaym (ra) remained undeterred. Understanding that his wife would not give up the religion that she so dearly loved, Malik left the house and was killed by an enemy.

Lesson to draw: Dawah begins from home. Many people are seen practicing religion, but when one meets their children – they are quite the opposite. While it is a test from Allah (swt), one cause of their detachment from Deen is that the message did not reach them. The parent had been attending or delivering religious lectures and classes, while not transferring the knowledge to those at home. This is also one reason why families are different.

Do not ignore your family, your parents, your spouse and children. Your first responsibility is towards them. Also do not get disheartened when your Dawah is not welcomed

Do not ignore your family, your parents, your spouse and children. Your first responsibility is towards them. Also do not get disheartened when your Dawah is not welcomed. Again, it is a test from Allah (swt). When the father (Nadhr) rejects the religion, the son (Anas) embraces it. Continue your efforts and seek reward from only Him.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)