Malik was not pleased with that,
especially when his wife announced her acceptance of
Islam in public. He was further upset when she convinced
her son, Anas, who later on won great fame as one of the
closest companions of the Prophet, to join her and
embrace the new religion, teaching him the principles of
the faith. Umm Sulaym's husband was now furious. He
quarreled with her, and accused her of corrupting their
son. But she faced him firmly.
Blinded by rage,
Malik left the house, and it is reported that he was
killed by an enemy. The news shocked Umm Sulaym but
apparently did not upset her greatly. She remained
devoted to her son Anas.
When it was known
that Umm Sulaym had become a widow, one man, Zayd ibn
Sahl, known as Abu Talhah, decided to propose to her. He
was confident that Umm Sulaym would choose him rather
than anyone else - he was after all a strong and virile
person, quite rich, an accomplished horseman and a
skilful archer and more important, he belonged to the
same clan as Umm Sulaym, the Banu Najjar.
As the man
proceeded to Umm Sulaym's house, he recalled that she
had become a Muslim."So what?" he said to himself. "Was
not her husband who died a firm adherent of the old
religion, and was he not opposed to Muhammad and his
In the presence
of her son Anas, Abu Talhah explained why he had come
and asked for her hand in marriage. Her answer became
later a model in standing firm for one’s beliefs. She
said "A man like you, Abu Talhah, could not be easily
turned away. But I shall never marry you while you are a
kafir, an unbeliever."
The man thought
she was trying to bluff him off possibly because she had
already chosen someone wealthier and more influential.
He said to her "What is it that really prevents you from
accepting me, Umm Sulaym? Is it the yellow and the white
silver?" she asked indignantly and then she continued
when he repeated his question, "I swear, Abu Talhah,
that if you accept Islam, I shall be pleased to accept
you as a husband, without any gold or silver. Your
acceptance of Islam will be my mahr (dowry)."
understood well the implications of her words. His mind
turned to the idol he had made from wood and on which he
lavished great attention in the same way that important
men of his tribe revered and cared for their personal
was right for Umm Sulaym to stress her point, and she
went on "Don't you know Abu Talhah, that the god you
worship, rather than Allah, grew from the earth?"
"That's true," he said.
"Don't you feel
stupid for worshipping part of a tree stem, while you
use the rest of it for fuel to bake bread or warm
yourself? If you should give up these foolish beliefs
and practices and become a Muslim, Abu Talhah, I shall
be pleased to accept you as a husband and the only thing
I want in return your acceptance of Islam."
She assured him
that she would instruct him and convey to him the
teachings of Islam. Abu Talhah left, reflecting deeply
on what Umm Sulaym had said. When he reached a decision,
he came back to her beaming with happiness. "I have
taken your advice to heart. I declare that there is no
God but Allah and I declare that Muhammad is the
Messenger of Allah."
Umm Sulaym and
Abu Talhah were married. Anas, her son, was pleased and
the Muslims commented favourably, stressing the fact
that her mahr was the most valuable and precious in the
history of Islam.
Umm Sulaym was
pleased and delighted with her new husband who placed
his unique energies and talents in the service of Islam.
He was one of the seventy-three men who swore allegiance
to the Prophet at the second Pledge of Aqabah. Among
them were three women; one of them was his wife Umm
Sulaym. The other two were the celebrated Nusaybah bint
Ka’ab and Asma bint Amr.
Abu Talhah was
devoted to the Prophet. He participated in all the major
military campaigns and lived a very ascetic life and was
known to fast for long periods at a time. It is said
that he had a fantastic orchard in Madinah with date
palms and grapes and running water. One day while he was
performing Salat in the shade of the trees, a beautiful
colourful bird flew in front of him. Engrossed in the
scene, he forgot where he reached in his prayer. Because
he was such a perfectionist, he went to the Prophet and
described how he had been distracted. In the end, he
said: "Be a witness, Messenger of Allah, that I give
away this orchard as a charity for the sake of Allah."
Abu Talhah and
Umm Sulaym had an exemplary Muslim family life, devoted
to the Prophet and the service of Muslims and Islam. The
Prophet used to visit their home. Whenever the time of
prayer came, he would pray on a mat provided by Umm
Sulaym. Sometimes also he would have a siesta in their
house and, as he slept, she would wipe the perspiration
from his forehead. Once, while doing that, the Prophet
awoke and asked her what she was doing. Umm Sulaym
answered that she was wiping the droplets of
perspiration and keeping them as a barakeh (blessing).
At another time,
the Prophet went to their house and Umm Sulaym offered
him dates and butterfat but he did not have any of it
because he was fasting. Occasionally, she would send
her son Anas with bags of dates to his house.
It was noticed
that the Prophet, peace be on him, had a special
compassion for Umm Sulaym and her family and when asked
about it, he replied: "Her brother was killed beside
Umm Sulaym also
had a well-known sister, Umm Haram, the wife of the
famous Ubadah ibn as-Samit. She died during a naval
expedition and was buried in Cyprus. Umm Sulaym's
husband, Abu Talhah, also died while he on a naval
expedition during the time of the third Caliph, Othman
Ibn Affan, and was buried at sea.
herself was noted for her great courage and bravery.
During the Battle of Uhud, she carried a dagger in the
folds of her dress. She gave water to the fighters and
tended the wounded and she took part in defending the
Prophet when the tide of battle turned against him. At
the Battle of Khandaq, the Prophet saw her carrying a
dagger and he asked her what she was doing with it. She
said: "It is to fight those who desert."
Umm Sulaym had
another son whose name was Abdullah. A few days after
she gave birth, she sent Anas with the baby and a bag of
dates to the Prophet. The Prophet placed the baby on his
lap. He crushed the dates in his mouth and put some in
the baby's mouth.
The baby sucked
the dates with relish. Abdullah eventually grew up and
had seven children all of whom learnt the Holy Book by
Umm Sulaym was a
model Muslim, a model wife and mother. Her belief in God
was strong and uncompromising. She was not prepared to
endanger her faith and the upbringing of her children
for wealth and luxury, however abundant and tempting.
She was devoted to the Prophet and dedicated her son
Anas to his service. She took the responsibility of
educating her children and she played an active part in
public life, sharing with other Muslims the hardships
and the joys of building a new community.