Umm Sulaym: Closer Than A Family Member
- A Woman With Much Wisdom
Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi
She is universally known as Umm Sulaym, but scholars
differ with regard to her name and her title. She
belonged to the Ansar, the Muslims of Madinah, but she
accepted Islam well before the immigration of the
Prophet (peace be upon him) there.
From the moment she became a Muslim, she was keen to
advocate Islam. She taught her young son to be a
Muslim, and tried with her husband to accept Islam,
but he refused. Soon after that he was killed while he
was on a journey. A man called Zayd ibn Sahl, and
better known as Abu Talhah, proposed to her. She
recognized that he was a man of good qualities. She
told him that he was not one to be rejected, but she
could not accept him as long as he remained
unbeliever. She explained to him that his religion of
idol worship was without foundation. She said: ‘Those
deities you worship are statues carved for you by
other people. If you put them in a fire, they will
burn. How can they be of any benefit to you?'
Apparently, Abu Talhah was attracted to her and was
keen on marrying her. She kept telling him how ill
advised he and his people were to worship such idols.
One day, he told her that what she said was sound and
that he was seriously considering becoming a Muslim.
She said: ‘If you accept Islam, then that will be my
dowry. I will not ask anything else.' After their
marriage, people said: ‘She had the most valuable
dowry ever: Islam.'
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) settled in
Madinah, Umm Sulaym gave him her son, Anas ibn Malik,
to serve him. Anas was a young lad and he stayed with
the Prophet throughout his ten years in Madinah,
reporting more than one thousand Hadiths. The Prophet
treated both Anas and his mother as family. Some
visitors to Madinah commented: ‘We have stayed for
sometime in Madinah, thinking that both Umm Sulaym and
her son Anas belonged to the Prophet's family, as we
saw them very frequently coming in and out of his
homes. Yet the Prophet sometimes visited Umm Sulaym at
home, having a meal with her family. He would pray for
them and they were always delighted to receive him.
Umm Sulaym accompanied the Prophet's army on several
occasions. Her son, Anas, reports: "During the Battle
of Uhud, when people abandoned the battlefield, I saw
Aishah, the Prophet's wife, and Umm Sulaym, having
rolled up their skirts. I could see the lower parts of
their legs. They carried waterskins on their backs and
poured drinks into people's mouths." (Related by Al-Bukhari
She also joined the army in the Battles of Khaybar and
Hunayn. In the latter the Prophet noticed that she had
a dagger, and he asked her why she had it. She said
that she was ready to pierce it in the body of any
enemy soldier who came close to her.
Scholars have spoken highly of Umm Sulaym. Ibn Abd
al-Barr describes her as ‘a woman with much wisdom,'
while Al-Nawawi says: ‘She was one of the best women
companions of the Prophet'.
It is not surprising that she is so praised. In fact,
she was a very thoughtful woman who tried hard to keep
her family happy. Her young stepson was very ill. He
then died when her husband was out. When he returned
after a long day at work, he asked her how the boy
was. She said: ‘He is quiet and calm'. Then she served
him dinner and gave him a very pleasant night. In the
morning, she said to him: ‘Have you heard of those
people who borrowed something from their neighbors and
used it for their purposes. When the owners claimed
it, they found it hard to give it up.' He said: ‘That
is unfair'. She said: ‘Your son was lent to you by
God. Now He has claimed him back.' Abu Talhah reported
this to the Prophet. He commended Umm Sulaym and
prayed for the couple: ‘May God give you all the
blessings of your night'. Umm Sulaym soon gave Abu
Talhah a son, and he grew up to be a model son and a
very good person.