Families of the Righteous (Umm Sulaym and Anas Ibn Malik)

(Umm Sulaim, Umm Sulaym, Umm Suleim)

When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions migrated to Medina, the Ansar tribe welcomed them with open arms and incredible hospitality.  Not only did they make the Muhajir migrants feel welcome, but the Ansar shared their homes and wealth with them. This happened to such an extent that Allah the Exalted praised their act of altruism in the Holy Qur’an: {And those who, before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given, and give them (the emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need. And whosoever is saved from the covetousness of his soul, then it is those who will be the successful} (59:9).

One of the leading Ansari families in Medina that showed such warm welcome and utmost altruism was the family of Umm Sulaym, may Allah be pleased with her.  When the Prophet ﷺ arrived at Medina, Umm Sulaym went to him with her son Anas Ibn Malik in tow.  Umm Sulaym was among the first group to accept Islam in Medina, and when Abu Talha proposed to her, she made his acceptance of Islam as her only dowry.  Having this strong faith, she offered the Prophet ﷺ the most precious gift as seen in this authentic hadith:

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him: “The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ immigrated to Medina when I was ten years old.  When he arrived at Medina, my mother Umm Sulaym took me to the Prophet ﷺ and said to him:

‘This is Anas, my young son.  I have brought him to serve you.’

So the Prophet ﷺ accepted her offer.”  (Related by Ibn Hajr Al-‘Asqalani in his book Al-Isaba fi Tamyiz As-Sahaba.)

What a great sacrifice by a mother! But she did it for the sake of Allah and in seeking His pleasure.  But ultimately, it was she who benefited most, for what greater blessing is there than being with the Prophet, listening to his blessed speech, and observing his noble action nearly all the time?

Umm Sulaym was also a great manifestation of patience and wisdom.  When her young son died, she did not wail and despair, but was calm and took matters into her hands to break the news to her husband Abu Talha in such a gentle and appealing way that the Prophet invoked Allah for her, as seen in the following hadith:

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him: “A son of Abu Talha who was born of Umm Sulaym died. Umm Sulaym said to the members of her family: ‘Do not tell Abu Talha about his son until I do so.’  When Abu Talha came home, she presented supper to him, and he ate and drank water.  She then embellished herself as best like she did not do before, and he (Abu Talha) shared bed with her that night.  When she saw that he was full and had slept with her, she said: ‘O Abu Talha, if some people lent something to another family, and then they asked for its return, could the second family stop its return?’  He said: ‘No.’  She said: ‘Then seek the reward of the death of your son.’  He was angry, and said: ‘You did not inform me until I lay down with you and then you told me about my son.’  He went to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and informed him about what happened.  Thereupon the Messenger ﷺ said:

‘May Allah bless both of you in the night you spent together.’ ”

(Related by Bukhari and Muslim.)

Ubaya bin Rufa’a said: “Afterwards, I saw seven sons of that young boy. All of them had memorized the Qur’an.”

Umm Sulaym’s son, Anas Ibn Malik, benefited greatly from his association with the Prophet ﷺ, not only in terms of religious knowledge but also in worldly blessings.  Anas learned much while serving the Prophet ﷺ, and narrated over 2000 hadiths.  He is considered the third most prolific narrators of hadith (after Abu Hurayra and Ibn ‘Umar).  One of the greatest aspects he narrated of the Prophet ﷺ was his high morals and noble manners:

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him: “I served the Messenger of Allah ﷺ for ten years, and he never said a word of displeasure to me (Uff), nor did he ever say to me concerning something I had done: ‘Why did you do that?’.  And he never said to me concerning something I had not done: ‘Why did you not do this?’. He had the best character. And I never touched silk or anything else that was softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.  And I never smelled any musk or perfume that had a better fragrance than the sweat of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.”  (Related by Al-Tirmidhi, also related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Umm Sulaym
then asked the Prophet  to invoke Allah to grant blessings upon her son, and so he did.  And Anas saw the result of that supplication in his life:

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him: “My mother, Umm Anas, took me to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, having dressed me in upper and lower garments made from her headdress, and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, this is my son Unais; I have brought him to you to serve you. Invoke Allah’s blessings upon him.’ Thereupon the Prophet ﷺ supplicated: ‘O Allah, make abundant his wealth and progeny.’  Anas said: ‘By Allah, my fortune is huge and my children and grandchildren are more than one hundred today.”  (Related by Muslim.)

So Umm Sulaym was the one who gained most from her offer.  Indeed, not only did she see her son prosper in wealth and progeny, but she herself gained a high status with Allah.  She continued to obey Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and do all in her power to serve the Prophet.  She was given the glad tidings of Paradise by the Prophet ﷺ himself:

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“I entered Paradise and heard the sound of footsteps.  I said: ‘Who is that?’  It was said: ‘This is Al-Gumaysa’ Bint Milhan, the mother of Anas Ibn Malik.”

(Related by Muslim.)

Such people demonstrated the reality of having a good opinion in Allah (husn al-dhan billah), knowing that what little sacrifice they offer will result in blessings in both worlds, and that Allah will never put any deed to waste. Allah says: Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – indeed, We will not allow to be lost the reward of any who did well in deeds. (Qur’an 18:30).

May Allah be pleased with them all.


Umm Ayman, Baraka

Editor’s note: Muslim societies today are not free from the sickness of racism. The following post introduces a little known character of Islamic history, whose position in the nascent Muslim community serves as a model for race relations in our contemporary society.

Among the early Muslim women of African origin was Umm Ayman.  She was the nanny of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and took care of him from the time of his birth. The Prophet ﷺ in turn loved her and was very kind to her.  Indeed, he used to praise her in front of his Companions.  It is narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Whoever desires to wed a woman from Paradise, then let him marry Umm Ayman.’  So Zayd bin Haritha married Umm Ayman and she bore him a son, Usama bin Zayd. (Related by Ibn Sa’d.)  And what greater honor is there than being a woman of Paradise!

When Usama bin Zayd was born, the Prophet ﷺ used to love him so much that he was known as ‘the Beloved of the Prophet’!  No wonder, for his father was Zayd bin Haritha, who was so loved by the Prophet ﷺ that he adopted him, until the command was revealed in Qur’an to attribute everyone to their father. And Usama’s mother was Umm Ayman, who was greatly respected and treated as a second mother by the Prophet ﷺ.  We can see this love in the following authentic narration:

وعن عبدِ اللَّهِ بنِ عمرَ رضي اللَّهُ عنهما، قال: ( بَعَثَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَعْثًا، وَأَمَّرَ عليهِم أُسامةَ بنَ زيدٍ فَطَعَنَ بعضُ النَّاسِ في إمارَتِهِ، فقالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: « أَنْ تَطْعُنُوا فِي إِمَارَتِهِ فَقَدْ كُنْتُمْ تَطْعُنُونَ فِي إِمَارَةِ أَبِيهِ مِنْ قَبْلُ، وَايْمُ اللَّهِ إِنْ كَانَ لَخَلِيقًا لِلْإِمَارَةِ وَإِنْ كَانَ لَمِنْ أَحَبِّ النَّاسِ إِلَيَّ، وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَمِنْ أَحَبِّ النَّاسِ إِلَيَّ بَعْدَهُ» .  رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Narrated ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father):

“The Prophet ﷺ sent an army and appointed Usama bin Zayd as their commander. When some people criticized Usama’s leadership, the Prophet ﷺ said: ‘If you are criticizing Usama’s leadership, then you used to criticize his father’s leadership before. By Allah, he (Zayd) was worthy of leadership and was one of the most beloved persons to me, and now this (i.e. his son, Usama) is among the most beloved to me”  (Bukhari and Muslim).

From Umm Ayman and her family, we see that Islam gives equal status to everyone, and people excel one another by nothing but piety and righteousness.  Indeed, discrimination based on color, race, or gender has no place in Islam.

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « المُسْلِمُ أخُو المُسْلِمِ: لا يَظْلِمُهُ، ولا يَخْذُلُهُ ولا يَحْقِرُهُ، التَّقْوَى ههُنَا، التَّقْوَى ههُنَا، ويُشِيرُ إلى صَدْرِهِ، بِحْسبِ امْرِيءٍ مِنَ الشَّرِّ أَنْ يَحْقِرَ أَخَاهُ المُسْلِمَ، كُلُّ المُسْلِمِ عَلَى المُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ: دَمُهُ، وعِرْضُهُ، ومَالُهُ، إنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَنْظُرُ إلَى أجْسَادِكُمْ، وَلا إلَى صُوَرِكُمْ، وأَعْمَالِكُمْ، ولكِنْ يَنْظُرُإلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ».  رواه البخاري ومسلم.


Narrated Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him, nor humiliates him, nor looks down upon him.  Piety is here (and while saying so he pointed towards his chest).  It is a serious evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother Muslim.  All things of a Muslim are prohibited for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth, and his honor. Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces and actions but He looks to your hearts.”  (Bukhari and Muslim).

It is well-known that Bilal, the freed African slave, had great status with the Prophet ﷺ.  And now we learn about Umm Ayman, the African nursemaid of the Prophet ﷺ, who had a similar high regard and status with the Prophet ﷺ. Suffice it to say, these examples serve as important lessons for us today in our interaction with others.