Her real name was Atiqah and she was married to a man called Abu Maabad.
Umm Maabad (ra) lived with her husband on the outskirts of Makkah in an inhabited place. Her husband was a shepherd; their livestock was their only source of livelihood. Living in a deserted area, Umm Maabad (ra) and her husband served the many caravans travelling on this route. Little did they know that one day Allah (swt) will reward this unknown couple in a way that many would wish that it was them.
The Prophet (sa) had secretly escaped Makkah with his trustworthy companion Abu Bakr (ra). In order to keep their migration covert, they were to travel a path that was unknown to the Makkans. Leaving the Cave of Thawr, they entered a barren valley. The desert sun was at its peak and the arduous journey had exhausted them. There were no houses or places to rest. Far in the distance, they saw a tent. The Prophet (sa) walked a little further until he reached it.
An elderly but strong woman was sitting outside. The Prophet (sa) asked her if she had any meat or milk that they could buy from her. The woman replied if she had any she would have served them. The Prophet (sa) saw a goat tied next to the tent and inquired about it. The woman replied that the goat was frail. It could not go for grazing and was therefore, left behind. He asked if it gave any milk. The woman expressed her sadness for the goat’s condition. She said it was too weak to give any milk. The Prophet (sa) asked if he could milk the goat. The woman permitted him to try his luck.
He then caressed the goat, recited Allah’s Name and touched its udder. A big vessel was brought that instantly got filled with milk. The Prophet (sa), his companions and Umm Maabad (ra) drank the milk to their fill. The Prophet (sa) once again milked the goat and left the filled vessel with Umm Maabad (ra).
Let us pause here and talk about the beautiful etiquette of our beloved (sa).
First, he seeks the woman’s permission to touch her goat. He did not consider it his privilege to go around someone else’s property and touch their belongings. Many people visit others’ homes and start touching their belongings without seeking their permission. Second, he was the last one to drink the milk. He said, “The server drinks the last.” He teaches us the etiquette of serving – the one serving eats last. Third, when he was done fulfilling his need he was courteous enough to think about the family and leave some milk for them, as well. He also teaches us that if we begin any task by reciting the name of Allah (swt), then He will bless it.
May He allow us to remember these etiquette and teachings in our day-to-day matters, ameen.
Lessons to draw: Why did Allah (swt) honour Umm Maabad (ra) this rare and one-time opportunity of serving the Prophet (sa)? It was because her husband and she were engaged in serving Allah’s creation. We read in the Qur’an that he who wishes to do good, the path to goodness is made easy for him. She did not look at what little means she had – the famine or the goat that they gave no milk. Upon being asked for food, she could have shouted, “Go away! We don’t have anything.” She was rather polite. What is our attitude both in poverty and prosperity?
When you are not in a position to help someone, don’t say, “I can’t do anything,” rather, make an intention to serve. Many people are blessed with wealth and position to help someone, yet they are unable to serve; the intention is missing. Ask Allah (swt) to allow you to be a source of goodness for others.
Umm Maabad (ra) was poor, lived on a barren desert and her livestock was weak and unproductive. She had all the reasons to nitpick. She could have started the conversation with tales of her sufferings, but she makes no mention of it.
Recall the story of Prophet Ibrahim (as) when he travels to Makkah many years later and meets Ismail’s (as) wife for the first time. When asked how she has been doing, the woman unloads her bag of complaints. This was her first meeting with this stranger, and she begins the conversation with complaints. After this (unpleasant) meeting, what advice did Ibrahim (as) give to his son? He instructed Ismail (as) to divorce her.
Let us reflect on our conversations. What impressions do we leave in our first meetings? When someone asks us how we have been doing, do we bombard them with tales of our sorrows or do we respond gracefully?
Umm Maabad (ra) had little, yet she was content. Be patient with your trials. Things never remain the same. While at one point the goat did not give any milk, later the same goat continued to give milk for as long as it was with the family. While once nobody knew who Umm Maabad (ra) was or in what circumstances she lived, later the Companions (ra) continued to deliver her fixed ration even after the Prophet (sa) passed away. Don’t look at your deprivations, rather ask Allah (swt) for gratitude and contentment.
(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)