Adil Salahi
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2011-05-06 01:49

The first thing Umm Ayman is known for is her custody of Muhammad when he lost his mother, at the age of six. His father died in Madinah where he was visiting his maternal uncles after a business trip to Syria. There he was taken ill and died. His widow, Aminah, decided to take her six year old son to visit his father’s grave. She took Umm Ayman with her to look after the child. On the way back, Aminah was taken ill and died at Al-Abwa’, a village midway between Makkah and Madinah. So, Umm Ayman took care of the bereaved child and brought him back to Makkah.
When she arrived in Makkah, Abd Al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s elderly grandfather, reflected much on the lot of this young child and the personal calamities that have attended his early childhood. He recognized some special qualities of his young grandson and mentioned to his sons that he expected him to have a prominent role in future. Therefore, he continued to tell Umm Ayman to be especially kind to him and to look after him as best as she could. She needed no urging as she loved the child in her care like a mother loves her only child.
As a young man, Muhammad (peace be upon him) returned Umm Ayman’s kindness, and described her as “my mother after my own mother had gone.” He loved her and wanted to return her kindness. Therefore, at the time of his marriage to Khadeejah, when he was around 25, he set her free. He also married her to Ubayd ibn Zayd and she gave him Ayman. The marriage did not last long, so the Prophet married her to the man he loved most, Zayd ibn Harithah, whom he had earlier set free and adopted as a son. She gave him a son, Usamah, whom the Prophet loved as his own son.
Umm Ayman was one of the first people to accept Islam. How could she fail to do so when she knew Muhammad’s character, from the first day of his life. She knew that he never said a lie. How could he fabricate a lie against God? With that simple logic, she realized that he was truly God’s messenger.
Therefore, many years later, after she immigrated to join him in Madinah, she was ready to join his army when he faced attacks by the unbelievers. At Uhud, when the Makkans attacked him in Madinah, she was with a small group of women who tended the wounded. As some Muslims began to flee the battlefield when the going was hard, she rebuked them, urging them to go back and fight.
At the battle of Hunayn, she again joined the army, with her two sons fighting alongside the Prophet. Her elder son, Ayman, was killed in that battle. Usamah was appointed commander of an army to march to the border areas of the Byzantine Empire. He was in his mid-twenties at the time.
This woman, with humble origins and a homely life, recognized what prophethood meant to the Arabs and their society.
After the Prophet had passed away, Abu Bakr and Umar visited her, just like the Prophet used to visit her. They wanted to inquire after her as they knew how the Prophet cared for her. When they were with her, she cried. They tried to console her, saying that the Prophet’s position with God was better than life on earth. She told them that she was fully aware of that, and it was not for the loss of the Prophet that she wept. She wept “because revelation from on high had ceased.” They admired her answer and wept with her. This is a far-sighted view, recognizing that revelation meant much for that first Muslim community, ensuring that God’s care was ready for them. With the Prophet gone and revelations ceased, they were left to look after themselves.
Umm Ayman died a few months after the Prophet. She was in her mid-seventies.

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