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Power Moves: The Story of Umm Sulaym

A lot of people, when they think of power moves, only they think of someone like Umar ibn Al Khattab or someone like Khalid ibn al Walid… but the first person who actually came into my mind when I think of someone who just made strategic moves and was just very clever, and very wise is Umm Sulaym from the Ansar.

I’m going to share three moves that she made.

1- The Gift

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah. Now, you can imagine, you know, I’ve been to enough seminars conferences and Maghrib seminars, events… where I’ve seen the volunteer team, and I’ve been involved in the volunteer team, and how much concern people have for giving the sheikh a gift, and it’s usually the sisters, they’re really serious about making sure that that gift is reflective of the appreciation that the students have.

Now, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, you can imagine when it’s the Prophet who’s coming to Madinah and people are giving gifts from all over, what kind of gifts must they have given? Yet one person’s gift stood out over the rest. And that was the gift of Umm Sulaym. She brought her son Anas to the Prophet and she said:

“O Messenger of Allah, my son Anas is going to serve you.”

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And so in one shot, she benefited the Prophet immensely. And at the same time, even more, is that Anas benefited from ten years serving the Prophet. He became one of the most prolific narrators of Hadith because of how intimate his relationship with the Prophet was.

He was raised by the Prophet and he benefited for the rest of his life because of the gift that his mother gave to the Prophet.

2- The Proposal

Umm Sulaym gets a proposal. When Anas’ father, Malik, passed away, he separated from Umm Sulaym from before, she gets a proposal from Abu Talhah al Ansari. At that time, he wasn’t Muslim. He sends a proposal, and Umm Sulaym says to Abu Talhah:

“Someone like you isn’t rejected but you’re a disbeliever and I’m a Muslim. Accept Islam and I will marry you.” His proposal isn’t rejected, she doesn’t tell him ‘no you’re a disbeliever, get away from me.’

And so Abu Talhah accepted Islam and they used to say that no woman had a mahr greater than Umm Sulaym, because her mahr was Islam. Amazing!

3- Wisdom and Patience

Abu Talhah married Umm Sulaym, they have a child that he loves so much.

The child passes away and Umm Sulaym doesn’t tell Abu Talhah. She covers the child and beautifies herself for her husband. And after their intimate night, she tells Abu Talhah:

“Abu Talhah, so-and-so borrowed something from another family and when so-and-so wanted his item back the other family rejected.”

And Abu Talhah was upset and said:

“That’s not right. If someone lends you something, then when they call that thing back you should give it to them.”

She said:

“Well, Allah Almighty called back the son that He gave us, so be patient.”

So Abu Talhah then went to the Prophet and complained about what his wife did. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

May Allah bless the night that you had together.

And they were replaced with another son after that.

Just the patience and the wisdom of Umm Sulaym is absolutely amazing.