Umm Salamah Hind bint Abi Umayyah ibn al-Mughira

Ahmad Thompson

eBook: The Wives of the Prophet

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She was Umm Salamah Hind bint Abi Umayyah ibn al-Mughira. On her marriage with the Prophet, she was to stay in the house of Zainab bint Khuzaimah. There she found a jar full of barley, a hand-mill, some macaroni, and a pot containing a little butter. She milled some barley and prepared a meal for the Prophet and herself. That was all they took as a wedding-feast.

She was popularly known by the name of Umm Salamah because of her son Salamah from her first husband Abdullah ibn Asad. She embraced Islam with her husband and is considered to have been one of the earliest Muslims. She first migrated to Abyssinia with her husband and from there she came to Makkah.

Some time later, when people started to migrate to Medinah, her husband, Abu Salamah, also decided to proceed to Medinah. He saddled his camel, and mounted his wife on it, together with their son Salamah who was then only a child. Then he set out, leading the camel. The relatives of Umm Salamah intercepted him and snatched the camel's rope from him and drove it back to Makkah. In the meantime, the relatives of Abu Salamah fell upon the little boy Salamah and dragged him between them, till they dislocated his shoulder. Abu Salamah was let go his way to Medinah. Umm Salamah was left alone with her relatives. She wept day and night for about a year, till one of her cousins saw her plight. He took pity on her. He interceded. Her son was restored to her. She was later allowed to go away to Medinah. Umm Salamah was wise and brave. She saddled her camel and set forth to join her husband in Medinah. The mother and the child were soon on the path leading to the City of the Prophet. At Tan'im she met 'Uthman ibn Talha. He was astonished to find her going all alone, risking herself to any freebooters on the way.

'Uthman could not face this situation. He got down from his camel and led the camel of Umm Salamah by the halter. 'Uthman was a chivalrous Arab. At every stop or watering-place he would make her camel kneel for her, and then withdraw and allow her to alight with convenience. He would then tie the camel to a tree, and himself would go a little away from her and lie down under another tree. After a few days they were in Quba' (Madinah). He said to Umm Salamah: "Your husband lives in this village. So enter it with the blessing of Allah! "'Uthman then left her and went back to Makkah.

Whenever Umm Salamah thought of her sufferings, she used to proclaim: "By Allah, never have I seen a family in Islam which suffered what the family of Abu Salamah did. Nor have I ever seen a nobler man than 'Uthman ibn Talha!" [Ibn Hisham, pp.213-14]

She lived with her husband Abu Salamah in Quba', till, in the Battle of Uhud, he was mortally wounded. This was a great blow! Now she was left alone, with two children, Salamah and Zainab.

After the completion of the waiting period, when the Prophet proposed to her, she offered three excuses, "I am a very jealous (gayur) woman (for she deeply loved her husband Abu Salamah); I have children; and I am old." The Prophet said that his age was more than hers; Allah and His Messenger would look after her children and, as for her jealousy, he would pray to Allah to remove that from her. She was married in the year 4 A.H. and her dowry was some goods worth ten dirhams.

Earlier, at Hudaibiyah, when the Prophet had commanded the people to slaughter their sacrificial animals and get their heads shaved, and the people were sulking in distress for nothing, he came into his tent. He was feeling indignant. In utter disgust, he said to Umm Salamah: "Thrice have I commanded the people to slaughter their animals and shave their heads. But look how listless and indolent they are!" Here came the feminine intuition to the rescue. She softly said: "O Prophet of Allah, you can't make these fifteen hundred men do what they don't want. Just do your own duty, which Allah has imposed on you. Go ahead and perform your own rites yourself—in an open place so that every one of them can see you."

The Prophet realised the sense of this advice. He stepped out of the tent. He saw that the sun had risen and it was bright everywhere in the vast desert. He went up to the herd. Everybody was now watching him. Even the polytheists of Makkah who had stayed there overnight saw him picking up for himself the Abu Jahl's camel, which had a white, shining, silver nose-ring. He brought it out into the open. He hobbled it and slaughtered it, pronouncing: "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!…"

Then in a short time he called Khirash ibn Umayya al-Khuza'i, who came up and shaved his head. When the Muslims saw what the Messenger had done, they leapt up and followed him in slaughtering the animals and shaving their heads.

She had heard from the Prophet that if any Muslim was in trouble, he should say this prayer: "O Allah keep my reward for this trouble and make a better alternative for me than this." She said that when Abu Salamah died, she remembered that hadith which he used to tell her and began to say it. When she wanted to say, "O Allah, give me a better replacement," her heart used to say, "Who could be better than Abu Salamah?" But when she began that prayer the Prophet was the replacement of Abu Salamah. [Nasai]

Umm Salamah reports that she was with Allah's Messenger along with Maymunah when Ibn Umm Maktum came into their house. The Prophet told them to veil themselves. She said, "Allah's Messenger, is he not blind and unable to see us?" He replied, "Are you blind and unable to see him?" [Ahmad, Tirmidi and Abu Dawud]

Though all the wives of the Prophet were learned women and possessed great knowledge, A'isha and Umm Salamah had no rivals. Mahmud ibn Labid said, "The wives of the Prophet were treasuries of hadith but A'isha and Umm Salamah had no equal." Marwan ibn Hakim enquired about problems from them and openly said, "Why should we ask others while the wives of the Prophet are among us?" [Musnad] Abu Hurairah and Ibn Abbas, in spite of their own wide knowledge, came to them for certain things and a huge group of tabi'in (followers of the companions) benefited from their advice. [Musnad]

She could read the Qur'an in the style of the Prophet. Once someone asked, "How did the Prophet read the Qur'an?" She said, "He read each verse separately from the other," and then showed how by reading the Qur'an herself. [Musnad] She narrated 378 hadith and is included in the third degree of companion narrators of hadith (Sahabah Muhaddethiin). She was very much interested in listening to hadith.

Once she was doing her hair, when the Prophet stood to deliver the Khutbah (address) and said, "O people!" She at once tied up her hair and stood up and listened to the Khutbah.(Musnad). Once the companions asked her about the Prophet's inward (basin) condition. She said, "His outward and inward (condition) is the same." When the Prophet came and was told of this, he said, "You have done well." [Musnad] She was very simple and lived a very pious life. Once she wore a necklace containing some portion of gold, but the Prophet avoided her so she broke the necklace. [Musnad] The Prophet was in her house when he called Fatimah, Hasan and Husain and put a blanket over them and said, "O Allah! These are my household; remove impurity from them and purify them." Umm Salamah heard this prayer and said, "O Allah's Messenger, am I included among them?" He said, "You are in your own position and (you are) good." [Tirmidi]

She was the last of the wives of the Prophet to die. She died at the age of eighty four in the year 63 A.H., after the martyrdom of Husain. Abu Hurairah offered her funeral prayer and she was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi.