The Chairman's Message
Dubai International Airport City
A Monumental Decision Over Free Trade
Media Pundits
The Red Crescent Society Of UAE
Taming The River Nile
The First UAE Encyclopedia
Woman of Distinction
Al Jaziri
The Royal Gardeners of Mughal India
Dessert Truffles
The 2nd Metropolitan Beach Polo Cup
The 2005 Dubai Tennis Championship
Engineering: Dubai Business Bay
Habtoor News
About Us
Back Issues

Contact Us




  Yathrib (Al Madinah Al Munawwarah), as it was called   before Islam, was the birthplace of a woman who was  destined to play an important role in promoting the new  religion. Rumaysa Bint Milhan was well known for her  excellent character, the power of her intellect, and her  independent thinking. For some reason, she was referred   to   by various names, including Rumaysa and Ghumaysa,  but  these were possibly nicknames. Although one   historian  says that her real name was Sahlah , later on  she  was  popularly known as Umm Sulaym.

  Umm Sulaym was one of the first women of Yathrib to  accept Islam. She embraced the new religion influenced  by  the refined, dedicated and persuasive Muss’ab ibn  Umayr,  who was sent out as the first envoy of Islam by  the Prophet  (peace be upon Him).

  Umm Sulaym's decision to embrace Islam was made  without the knowledge or consent of her husband, Malik  Ibn  an-Nadher. In fact, he was absent from Yathrib at the time  and when he returned he felt immediately that some  change  had occurred. He asked his wife, who answered  him straight  away that “Now, I believe in this man  (meaning the  Prophet Muhammad)."

  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 mission?"

  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 metals?"

  "Gold and 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)."

  Abu Talhah 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 idols.

  The opportunity 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 me."

  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.

  Umm Sulaym 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 heart.

  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.


| Top | Home | Al Habtoor Group | Metropolitan Hotels | Al Habtoor Automobiles |
Diamond Leasing | Emirates International School |