The Prophet's Wives Series

Discovering the Personality of Umm Salama

Part six

We often are introduced to the people around the Prophet (PBUH) through his life and perspective. While there is good reason for this, it can also be of great benefit to learn about the companions of the Messenger as individuals.

They were the people who Allah (SWT) calls in the Quran, “[…] the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind”. (Quran 3:110)

It can be especially important to look to the lives of the honorable and honored wives of the Prophet (PBUH) to understand that they too were human beings who lived, ate, laughed and struggled to please Allah (SWT).

After the Prophet, can there be a better example for us than the mothers of the believers who were all promised paradise?

Continuing in our journey to find out if our mothers were funny, sensitive, outgoing, introspective, self-doubting, or fearless, we take a look at Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife, Umm Salama (May Allah be pleased with her-RA).

Among the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wives, Umm Salama was smart, valiant, and wise.

She was smart

Umm Salama was a scholar among scholars. She narrated over 300 hadith and was so knowledgable about the Qur’an and its interpretation that she was considered among those companions who had the most competent judgment on Islamic law.

Even ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, one of the earliest scholars of Quran, would seek advice from Umm Salama on Islamic law.

But Umm Salama’s (RA) area of expertise didn’t begin and end in Islamic knowledge. She was a master of language as well. According to Islam’s Women, “when she spoke her words and phrases were well chosen and exactly appropriate for the expression of ideas. Her written language was suited for literary expression”.

Umm Salama (RA) was eloquent speaker and master of the written word. She wrote about her experience when leaving Makkah for Madina explaining her anguish when her family was met with a heartbreaking fate:

“When Abu Salama (my husband) decided to leave for Medina, he prepared a camel for me, lifted me up onto it and put my son Salama on my lap. My husband then took the lead and went straight ahead without stopping or waiting for anything.

Before we were out of Mecca, however, some men from my tribe, the Banu Mahkhzum, stopped us and said to my husband: ‘Although you may be free to do what you like with yourself, you have no power over your wife. She is our daughter.

Do you expect us to allow you to take her away from us?’ They then grabbed hold of him and snatched me away from him.

Some men from my husband’s tribe, the Banu Abdul Asad, saw them taking both me and my child and became hot with rage: ‘No, by Allah!’ They shouted. ‘We shall not abandon the boy. He is our son and we have a rightful claim over him.’ So they took him by his arm and pulled him away from me.

Suddenly, in the space of a few minutes, I found myself all alone. My husband headed out towards Medina by himself; his tribe had snatched away my son from me; and my own tribe had overpowered me and forced me to stay with them.

From the day that my husband and my son were parted from me, I went out at noon every day and sat at the spot where this tragedy had occurred. I would remember those terrifying moments and weep until nightfall. […]” (Ibn Kathir)

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About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for AboutIslam.net and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.