By Uzma Jawed
An exemplary and prominent figure, who has been conspicuous in our rich Islamic history, is one of the Ummahat Al-Mumineen, the ‘Mothers of the Faithful.’ Her name was Umm Salamah (rta). A detailed biographical sketch by Dr. Qadri mentioned that her real name was Hind. She was first married to her cousin Abdullah Bin Abdul Asad Makhzumi, who was better known as Abu Salamah (rta). They were among the first ones to embrace Islam.
They were also among those, who migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), where they had their first son Salamah (rta). After returning to Makkah, they migrated to Madinah. She was the first Muslim woman to do so. After reaching Madinah, Umm Salamah (rta) had another son and two daughters. In 4 A.H., Abu Salamah (rta) was seriously wounded in the battle of Uhud, and she became a widow while pregnant with her second daughter.
After the Iddat, Abu Bakr (rta) proposed to her, but she declined. After that, the Prophet (sa), who was well aware of Umm Salamah’s (rta) sense of honour and self-respect, proposed to her. According to “Great Women in Islam” by Mahmood Ghadanfar, Umm Salamah (rta) did not decline the offer but replied with reservations. She told him that she was very sensitive, of old age and had several children. The Prophet (sa) answered that they would pray to Allah (swt) to relieve her from this extreme sensitivity. As far as age was concerned, he told her that he was an elderly man himself. Moreover, regarding the children, he wished to be their guardian. Therefore, Umm Salamah (rta) accepted the proposal and was wedded to Prophet Muhammad (sa).
A Muslim woman can succeed the most, if she follows the best women in the best generation, which were nurtured in the best house – that of the Prophet (sa). So let us learn from Umm Salamah (rta), who was known for her patience, perseverance, valor, generosity, wisdom, and intelligence.
Patience & Perseverance
When Umm Salamah (rta) was about to migrate from Makkah to Madinah with Abu Salamah (rta) and their son, her family intercepted them, refusing to let their daughter accompany him. The members of her husband’s clan said to Umm Salamah’s (rta) family that if that were the case, then their son Salamah would remain with his father. Thus, all three of them underwent the pain of living separately. Yet, in the face of such harassment, Umm Salamah (rta) persevered and kept to the right path she had chosen.
Upon the separation from her husband and son, Umm Salamah (rta) would every day go on a hillock longing and praying for them. Eventually, her prayers were answered and a kindhearted man from her clan interceded on her behalf and helped reunite her with them with her family’s permission. She traveled to Madinah alone, as nobody from her family was willing to accompany her. Usman Ibn Talhah saw her traveling alone with a baby and decided to help her reach her destination safely. Her complete faith and trust in Allah (swt) did not deter her from the long and hazardous journey. And because of her courage and absolute trust in Allah (swt) she was able to overcome all odds and complete the journey.
Umm Salamah (rta) was well known for her generosity. She never sent a beggar or needy person empty-handed. There was an incident, when a few destitutes came and begged persistently for alms. Umm Hasan, who was with Umm Salamah (rta) at that time, reprimanded them. Umm Salamah (rta) stopped her saying: “We were not ordered to do that. Do not let them go empty-handed. Even if there is nothing, give them at least a date.”
Umm Salamah (rta) was very astute and had a unique understanding of human psychology. After the truce of Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (sa) ordered his Companions to sacrifice their animals and shave their heads. But they all seemed reluctant to obey the command of the Prophet (sa), as the terms of the treaty did not favour Muslims, and this angered the Prophet (sa). When Umm Salamah (rta) heard of this, she suggested to the Prophet (sa) to offer the rituals himself first, and then the others would follow. She proved to be right.
In ‘Biography of the Women Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa),’ Maulana Nadvi says: “Regarding intellectual qualities and scholarship, no one excelled Umm Salamah (rta) and Aisha (rta). Both the great ladies were a store house of the traditions of the Holy Prophet (sa) as vouchsafed by Mahmud son of Labeed in Tabeqat Ibn-Sa’ad.”
Umm Salamah (rta) preserved many prophetic traditions. She enhanced her knowledge by thoroughly inquiring about every facet of religion and then spreading that knowledge. Abu Hurairah (rta) and Abdullah Ibn Abbbas (rta), despite their great knowledge of Islam, would consult with Umm Salamah (rta) in many finer points of the Shariah. In the science of Hadeeth, she narrated approximately 378 traditions of the Prophet (sa).
Moreover, she was well versed in jurisprudence. The great scholar Allam Ibn Qayyim says that from her rulings on various issues, one whole book of jurisprudence can be compiled. In addition, Umm Salamah (rta) topped the list of the Companions, whose judgments on points of law were regarded as valid.
Umm Salamah (rta) was an outstanding Muslim woman. Her exemplary lifestyle is something each one of us can learn from. If we try to emulate her in every aspect of our lives starting from matters of religion and submission to Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) to our innate self (including our conduct and character), we could truly be on the way to success in this world as well as the Hereafter.