Lessons of Generosity from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

waterfallWife of the Generous

When Allah (swt) sees goodness in someone’s heart, He guides them to the truth and opens up pathways of much subsequent goodness. Same happened with Abu Talha (ra) and Umm Sulaym (ra).

Abu Talha (ra) was a rich man who owned many properties of palm-trees. His favourite, however, was a garden known as Bairuha that was near the Prophet’s Mosque. The Prophet (sa) would often visit this garden and drink its fresh and pleasant water.

When the verse, “By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness – here it means Allah’s reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well,” (Al-Imran 3:92), was revealed, Abu Talha (ra) came to the Prophet (sa) and said: “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! Allah (swt) has revealed, ‘By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love,’ so I love the garden of Bairuha the most, I want to give it in the way of Allah (swt) as a Sadaqah. And I anticipate its reward with Allah (swt); so spend it, O Messenger of Allah (swt), as Allah (swt) guides you.” The Prophet (sa) advised him to give his best property to his relatives. Abu Talha (ra) agreed and gifted it to his relatives and cousins.

The guest first!

Umm Sulaym (ra) and her husband are also those virtuous companions who served the Prophet’s (sa) guest at night while sacrificing their meal. A hungry man had approached the Prophet (sa) requesting to be fed. The Prophet (sa) asked his wives if they had anything to feed the hungry guest, each replied that they had nothing except water. The Prophet (sa) then asked his companions (ra). Abu Talha (ra) volunteered and took the guest to his home. When he asked his wife if they had anything for the guest, the wife replied that they only had sustenance for the children. Abu Talha (ra) instructed his wife to bring the food, light the lamp and put the children to sleep. When they sat down for dinner, Umm Sulaym (ra) got up and pretending to fix the lamp extinguished it. As the guest ate his meal, the couple pretended that they were eating as well. However, they had not touched the food, it was insufficient.

Abu Talha (ra) learnt a new verse that day, and he immediately acted upon it. How long does it take us to surrender to the many commands of Allah (swt)

When next morning, Abu Talha (ra) visited the Prophet (sa)- he complimented his generosity, and informed him of Allah’s (swt) pleasure. A new verse had been revealed for the Talha family.

Allah (swt) said, “And (it is also for) those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their chests for that which they have been given (from the booty of Banu An-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful,” (Al-Hashr 59:9).

Lessons to draw: We must ask Allah (swt) to save us from the covetousness of our souls. Abu Talha (ra) gave generously in the way of Allah (swt) because his wife like Umm Sulaym (ra), was supportive of her husband’s benevolence. She knew the provision that they enjoy is all gifts from Allah (swt) that must be shared with others as an expression of gratitude.

Abu Talha (ra) learnt a new verse that day, and he immediately acted upon it. How long does it take us to surrender to the many commands of Allah (swt) that we read every day in the Quran? What are the commands that we have not submitted too? What is the reason for our delaying?

She raised her children such that they could sleep on empty stomachs with gentle patting. Today, our children demand variety. Separate dishes are cooked satiating the desires of each family member. When the home cooked food does not appeal to us, we order it from the restaurant. We are spoilt and we are spoiling our children.

She raised her children such that they could sleep on empty stomachs with gentle patting.

Let us be inspired by these incidents from our rich past and make our lives simple. Insha’Allah.

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