Umm-e-Salama Bint-e-Abi Umayya (R.A.)

Umm-e- Salama Hind bint-e-Abi Umayya (R.A.) was married to the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) in 4 AH, after her (R.A.) first husband, Abdullah bin Abdul Asad (R.A.) died from the wounds he (R.A.) had received while fighting at the battle of Uhud. Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) and Abdal Asad (R.A.) are among the first people to embrace Islam in the early days of the Muslim community in Makkah. They (R.A.) suffered at the hands of the Quraish who had tried to force them (R.A.) to leave their (R.A.) new faith (Islam) and are among the first group of Muslims to seek refuge under the protection of the Negus in Abyssinia. When they (R.A.) returned to Makkah, believing that the situation of the Muslims had improved, they (R.A.) found instead, it was worse. Rather than return to Abyssinia, Abdal Asad and Umm-e- Salama (R.A.) had received the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) permission to immigrate to Medina, but this proved not to be easy. In the words of Umm-e-Salama (R.A.): “When Abu Salama (R.A.) (My husband) decided to leave for Medina, he (R.A.) prepared a camel for me, lifted me up onto it and put my son Salama (R.A.) on my lap. My husband then took the lead and went straight ahead without stopping or waiting for anything. Before we were out of Makkah, however, some men from my tribe, the Banu Mahkhzum, stopped us and said to my husband: “Although you may be free to do what you like with yourself, you have no power over your wife. She (R.A.) is our daughter. Do you expect us to allow you to take her (R.A.) away from us?’ They then grabbed hold of him (R.A.) and snatched me away from him (R.A.). Some men from my husband’s tribe, the Banu Abdul Asad, saw them taking both me and my child and became hot with rage: “No, by Allah!” They shouted. ‘We shall not abandon the boy. He (R.A.) is our son and we have a rightful claim over him (R.A.).’ So they took him (R.A.) by his (R.A.) arm and pulled him (R.A.) away from me. Suddenly, in the space of a few minutes, I found myself all alone. My husband headed out towards Medina by himself; his tribe had snatched away my son from me; and my own tribe had overpowered me and forced me to stay with them. From the day that my husband and my son were parted from me, I went out at noon every day and sat at the spot where this tragedy had occurred. I would remember those terrifying moments and weep until nightfall. I continued like this for a year or so until one day a man from the Banu Umayya passed by and saw my condition. He went to my tribe and said, ‘Why don’t you free this woman? You have caused both her husband (R.A.) and her son (R.A.) to be taken away from her (R.A.).’ He went on like this, trying to soften their hearts and appealing to their emotions, until at last they said to me, ‘Go and join your husband if you wish.’ But how could I join my husband in Medina, and leave my son, part of my own flesh and blood, in Makkah among the Banu Abdul Asad? How could I remain free from suffering, and my eyes free from tears, if I were to reach the place of Hijrah not knowing anything of my little son left behind in Makkah?
“Some people realized what I was going through and their hearts went out to me. They approached the Banu Abdul Asad on my behalf and persuaded them to return my son. I had no desire to remain in Makkah until I could find someone to travel with me, for I was afraid that something might happen that would delay me or stop me from reaching my husband. So I immediately prepared my camel, placed my son on my lap, and set out in the direction of Medina. I just had just reached Tanim (3 miles from Makkah) when I met Usman bin Talha (R.A.) (He as in charge of looking after the Kaba, but did not embrace Islam until the Conquest of Makkah). “‘Were are you going, Bint-e-Zad ar Rakib?’ he (R.A.) asked. ‘I am going to my husband in Medina.’ ‘And isn’t there anyone going with you?’ ‘No, by Allah, except Allah and my little boy here.’ ‘By Allah,’ he (R.A.) vowed, ‘I will not leave you until you reach Medina.’
He (R.A.) then took the reins of my camel and led us on our way. By Allah, I have never met an Arab more generous and noble than he (R.A.). Whenever we reached a resting-place, he (R.A.) would make my camel kneel down, wait until I had dismounted and then lead the camel to a tree and tight it reins. Then he (R.A.) would go and rest in the shade of a different tree to me. When we had rested, he (R.A.) would get the camel ready again and then lead us on our way. This he (R.A.) did every day until we reached Medina. When we reached a village near Quba (About two miles from Medina), belonging to the Banu Amr bin Awf, he (R.A.) said, ‘Your husband is in this village. Enter it with the blessings of Allah.’ Then he (R.A.) turned round and headed back to Makkah.” Thus after many difficult months of separation, Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) and her son (R.A.) were reunited with Abu Salama (R.A.) and in the next few years that followed, they (R.A.) were always near the heart of the growing Muslim community of Medina al Munawarra. They (R.A.) were present when the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr (R.A.) arrived safely from Makkah, and at the battle of Badr Abu Salama (R.A.) fought bravely. At the battle of Uhud, he (R.A.) was badly wounded. At first his (R.A.) wound appeared to respond well to treatment, but then his (R.A.) wounds re-opened after an expedition against the Banu Abdul Asad, and after that they refused to heal and he (R.A.) remained bedridden. Once while Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) was nursing him (R.A.), he (R.A.) said to her (R.A.), “I once heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) that whenever a calamity afflicts anyone, he should say what Allah has commanded him to say: ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun! (Surely we come from Allah and surely to Him we return!) and then he should say, ‘O Lord, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in return, which only You, the Exalted the Mighty, can give.’”
Abu Salama (R.A.) remained sick in bed for several days. One morning the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) came to see him (R.A.). The visit was longer than usual and while the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was still at his (R.A.) bedside, Abu Salama (R.A.) died. With his (Peace be upon him) blessed hands, the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) closed the eyes of his dead Companion (R.A.) and then raised them in prayer. “O Allah, grant forgiveness to Abu Salama; elevate him among those who are near to You; take charge of his family at all times; forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds; make his grave spacious for him and fill it with light. Amin!”
Once again Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) was alone, only now she (R.A.) had not one child, but several. There was no one to look after her (R.A.) and them. Recalling what her (R.A.) husband had told her (R.A.) while she (R.A.) was looking after him (R.A.), she (R.A.) repeated the Dua (Prayer) that he (R.A.) had remembered: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun!” “Surely we come from Allah and surely to Him we return!” she (R.A.) repeated. “O Lord, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in return, which only You, the Exalted and Mighty, can give.” Then she (R.A.) thought to herself, “What Muslim is better than Abu Salama (R.A.) whose family was the first to emigrate to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)?” All the Muslims in Medina were aware of Umm-e-Salama’s (R.A.) situation, and when her Iddat (Period of four months and ten days after the death of husband) were over, Abu Bakr (R.A.) proposed marriage to her (R.A.), but she (R.A.) refused. Then Umar (R.A.) asked her (R.A.) to marry him (R.A.), but again she (R.A.) refused. Then the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) himself asked for her (R.A.) hand in marriage. “O Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him),” Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) replied, “I have three main characteristics: I am a woman who is extremely jealous and I am afraid that you will see something in me that will make you angry and cause Allah to punish me; I am a woman who is already advanced in age; and I am a woman who has many children.”
“As for your jealousy,” answered the Prophet (Peace be upon him), “I pray to Allah the Almighty to take it away from you. As for your age, I am older than you. As for your many children, they belong to Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him).”
The Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) answer eased her (R.A.) heart, and so they were married in Shawwal 4 AH, and so it was that Allah answered the prayer of Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) and gave her better than Abu Salama (R.A.). From that day onwards Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) was not only the mother of Salama (R.A.), but also became the ‘Mother of the Believers’ ‘Umm-e-Al Muminin’. Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) was not the only wife to have been widowed as a result of the battle of Uhud, and thanks to this marriage, many of the Companions (R.A.) followed the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) example, marrying widows and thereby bringing them and their children into the circle of their families, instead of leaving them to struggle on their own.
Aisha (R.A.) said, “When the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) married Umm-e-Salama (R.A.), I felt very unhappy when he (Peace be upon him) mentioned her (R.A.) beauty to us. I waited until I saw her (R.A.) and she (R.A.) was even more beautiful than her (R.A.) description.” She (R.A.) was also from a very noble family and known for her (R.A.) keen intelligence. On more than one occasion, the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) asked her (R.A.) advice in tricky situations. Like Aisha (R.A.) and Hafsa (R.A.), Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) learned the complete Quran by heart and an indication of her (R.A.) high station with Allah can be found in the fact that she (R.A.) was permitted to see the angel Jibril (A.S.) in human form: It is related that Jibril (A.S.) came to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) while Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) was with him (Peace be upon him) and had a conversation with him (Peace be upon him). After Jibril (A.S.) had left, the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) said to Umm-e-Salama(R.A.), “Do you know who that was?” and she (R.A.) replied that it was a man called Dihya al Khalbi. “By Allah,” said Umm-e-Salama (R.A.), “I didn’t think it was anyone else until the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) told me who it really was.”
She (R.A.) also had a home for her four children: Salama (R.A.), Umar (R.A.), Zaynab (R.A.) and Durra who were the foster children of the Prophet
(Peace be upon him). Once she (R.A.) was with the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) and her (R.A.) daughter Zaynab (R.A.) when Fatima (R.A.) came with al Hasan (R.A.) and al Husayn (R.A.). He (Peace be upon him) embraced his (Peace be upon him) two grandsons and said, “May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, People of the House. He is Praiseworthy, Glorious.” Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) began to weep and the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) looked at her (R.A.) and asked tenderly, “Why are you weeping?” She (R.A.) replied, “O Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), you singled them out and left me and my daughter!”
He (Peace be upon him) said, “You and your daughter are among the People of the House.” Her (R.A.) daughter Zaynab (R.A.) grew up in the care of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) and become one of the most intelligent women of her (R.A.) time. Once Zaynab (R.A.) came in while the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was bathing and he (Peace be upon him) splashed water on her (R.A.) face. Afterwards face retained its youthfulness even into her (R.A.) old age.
Her (R.A.) son Salama (R.A.) later married Umama (R.A.), the daughter of Hamza (R.A.), the martyred uncle of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Umm-e-Salama (R.A.) was married to the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) for seven years until his (peace be upon him) death in 10 AH and accompanied him (Peace be upon him) on many of his (Peace be upon him) expeditions: Hudaybiyya, Khaybar, the Conquest of Makkah, the siege of Taif, the expedition against Hawazin and Saqif, and the Farewell Hajj. She (R.A.) continued to live for a long time, outliving all the other wives (R.A.) of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) until she (R.A.) died in 61 AH.