Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah (Part 1)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Allah has commanded me to marry only with the women of Paradise. “Umm Salamah participated in the Ridwan pledge; therefore, she deserved the Paradise.
Her real name was Hind bint Abu Umayyah who became famous by the name Umm Salamah. She was noble by birth, intelligent, learned, wise and skillful. She was first married to ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Asad Makhzumi known as Abu Salamah. He was the son of the Prophet’s paternal aunt Barrah bint Abdul Muttalib. He too belonged to the select band of people who were the first to accept Islam. He was known for his integrity, valour, generosity, tolerance and patience. He was the eleventh person to come into the fold of Islam. He was also the foster brother of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) through the ties of breast-feeding.
Umm Salamah was also one of the earliest converts to Islam. Her mother was ‘Atikah bint ‘Amer bin Rabi’ah bin Malik bin Khazimah. Her father Abu Umayyah bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Makhzum was a very wealthy man and famous throughout the Arab world for his public service and charity. Umm Salamah seemed to have inherited this trait from her father. She was always amiable and kind to her neighbors. When she married the handsome and brave son of the equally wealthy family of Makhzum, she carried a friendly demeanor of pleasant serenity into her new household. There was an atmosphere of gaiety and love in the home of the newly married couple.
But things changed radically when the couple embraced Islam. The whole family turned against them; mischievous and wicked elements like Walid bin Mughirah Makhzumi started creating problems for them. Finally, when matters had nearly reached their worst, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised his staunch followers to migrate to Abyssinia where the Christian King was more tolerant of the new religion. Sixteen people set out on that historic first migration of the followers of Islam – twelve men and four women, Abu and Umm Salamah were part of these sixteen.
Umm Salamah narrated that life was very peaceful in Abyssinia, free of all religious persecution. She first gave birth to a daughter, whom they named Zaynab. Then she had a son Salamah, hence her name and her husband’s name.
The next child was also a son, ‘Umar. Finally they had another daughter who they named Durrah. So life was very smooth and time passed uneventfully, in peace and happiness. The ruler of Abyssinia, Najashi, was very kind to the migrants. When the leaders of the disbelievers heard this news they were enraged and thought that the Muslims were becoming a real source of danger for them. They decided to take strong measures to stem the rising tide of Islam.
After a great deal of thought they evolved a plan of action. The disbelievers sent the leading politician of the Arab world, Amr bin ‘Aas and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Rabi’ah with expensive gifts for Najashi, in order to persuade him to hand over the Muslim migrants to their custody. Najashi was a fair minded, far-sighted and frank man. So he called for the leader of the refugees to present their case. Najashi, after hearing the plea of the Muslims he then told the emissaries of the Quraysh that these migrants were people of good character and could continue to live in Abyssinia as long as they wished. Further, he would continue to give every kind of protection necessary, and the delegation from Makkah could leave carrying back their gifts. If someone gave him even a mountain of gold in exchange for these righteous people he would not surrender them. Umm Salamah has written about this memorable first migration of the Muslims, and described the greatness of Najashi in such a moving manner that it has become an integral and important part of Islamic history.
Umm Salamah narrates that their life in Abyssinian was very peaceful and Najashi was very kind, but all the same they were homesick for Makkah. They continued longing for the time when peace would finally prevail so they could return to their beloved country. One day news reached that ‘Umar bin Khattab accepted Islam and that the conditions in Makkah had changed completely. It was said that because of the authority and influence of ‘Umar the persecution of Muslims came to an end. They were all so excited at this good news, writes Umm Salamah that they decided to set out for their homes. ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan also set out with them with his family. On reaching Makkah they realized it had been just a rumor and things were much worse than before. Muslims were the targets of worse crimes and persecution. But it was too late.
An accepted tradition states what had actually happened. The disbelievers heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) reciting Ayat from the Noble Quran, and prostrated involuntarily at one Ayah with him. Like all rumors this too ballooned into news that the Quraysh had converted to Islam. In reality this was not so.
Weary of the constant problems they faced, they decided to leave for Abyssinia again. It was at this time that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered staunch Muslims to migrate to Al-Madinah. The delegation from there had brought the news that those who swore allegiance to Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) at ‘Aqabah had invited Muslims to settle there, and he accepted. The Ansar of Al-Madinah, (as they came to be called), had said they would look after their migrant brethren.
Abu Salamah with his family left on camels for Al-Madinah. When members of her family saw this they caught the bridle of the camel and told him that he could go where he wanted but he would have to leave behind their daughter. They said it seemed like a joke – he was always off somewhere or the other, Abyssinia, then Al-Madinah! He never seemed to give her a peaceful settled life.
When Abu Salamah’s family heard this they were enraged. They came and took her sons away, saying she could not take them with her; they were their flesh and blood and they would bring them up. So, in a moment the whole family was split up in three different places. Abu Salamah left for Al-Madinah, his wife was left with her parents and the sons were with the paternal grandparents. It was such a shock being torn apart from husband and sons, that she just could not stop weeping. Every day she used to visit the spot from where the husband and children had been torn away from her and weep for her loved ones. One day one of the members of her tribe passed that way and saw her grieving and asked her what happened. She told him about her plight. He then went and gave a piece of his mind to the elders of both families, rebuking them for their cruel behavior towards a noble and helpless lady. His emotional and blunt outburst made them realize how unjust they were and they relented. They gave back her sons to her, and her family too gave her permission to proceed to Al-Madinah.
But how could she travel alone? No one was willing to accompany her. Finally, gaining courage and solace from the fact that she now had her sons with her, she set out for Al-Madinah. When she reached Tan’im she met ‘Uthman bin Talhah ‘Abdari, who had not up to that time converted to Islam. He asked her where she was traveling all alone. She replied that she was going to join her husband. He was surprised that not a single member of the family accompanied her. She said no one agreed to go with her and she was totally dependent on Allah Almighty who was her Defender and Protector; only He would protect her. ‘Uthman bin Talhah ‘Abdari took the bridle of the camel and said he would help her in reaching destination.
Umm Salamah said that such a decent, pure-hearted man, with not a trace of evil in him would be difficult to find. Whenever they reached a camping site he would tie the camel to a tree and move far away to lie down and rest. So she also had some privacy and could rest at ease, relaxed with her children. When it was time to resume the journey he would bring the camel and make it sit down. Once she got on the camel’s back with her children, he would take the bridle in his hand and start walking. After several days they reached Quba which is in the environs of Al-Madinah. Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Auf were settled there; he said that since Abu Salamah was also there he could leave her and return. Umm Salamah says in her book that his gentlemanly behavior and his goodness affected her deeply. When she finally saw her family after so long her joy knew no bounds. So this divided family once again was at peace and the children had the benefit of a good upbringing that only united and happy parents can provide.
Source: “Great Women of Islam” – by Dar-us-Salam Publications