Umm Ayman (r.anha)

The Prophet lost his father before he was born and her mother when he was six years old. He grew up as an orphan. However, several women took care of him showing him the compassion of a mother. They did their best so as not to make him feel as a motherless child.

One of those women was Umm Ayman. The real name of this great Islamic woman, whom the Prophet regarded to be from Ahl al-Bayt and complimented her by saying “my mother after my mother”[1] is “Baraka bint  Thalaba”. She served in the house of the Prophet for long years. She stayed in the same house after the death of Abdullah, the father of the Prophet. After that, she helped both Amina, the Prophet's mother, and the Prophet himself.

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) became six years old, Amina went to Madinah with Umm Ayman. Her intention was to visit her relatives and the grave of her husband Abdullah there. They stayed in Madinah for a month. 

Umm Ayman narrates one of her memories in Madinah as follows:

“Once, two Jewish scholars came to me and said, ‘Bring us Ahmad.’ I went home and brought him. They examined him carefully. They said, ‘This child is a prophet. This is the place where he will migrate. There will be big wars in this land.’”[2]

Umm Ayman felt scared after their talk. She was worried that they would harm her "beloved son". She tried not to leave the Prophet alone in order to protect him from any danger.  

Finally, it was time to return to Makkah. Umm Ayman was glad to hear it. She felt relieved because the Jews would not be able to harm Muhammad (pbuh) after they set off.

This three-person caravan left Madinah. They started to head for Makkah. They were travelling happily. However, something unexpected took place after a while. Hz. Amina got ill suddenly. She realized that she would die of this illness. She looked at the face of the Prophet and remembered a dream she had seen. She said,

"If what I saw in my sleep is true, you will be sent as a prophet by Allah to all human beings to tell them the allowed and prohibited things and acts. You will settle Islam, the religion of your ancestor, Ibrahim. Allah Almighty will protect you from the idols and idolatry that have existed for a long time.

All living things face death every minute of the day, each new thing will have to grow old, and each great thing will fade. I will also die, but my name will remain forever; for I gave birth to a pure child and I leave the best here as I leave."

Hz. Amina entrusted her child to Umm Ayman and asked her to look after him very well. Soon, she passed away. She was 30 years old then. Thus, the Prophet was left motherless when he was six. Allah Almighty made his beloved Messenger to experience all kinds of pains and made him perfect so that he would be a good example for his ummah. Thus, those who believed in him would remember the hardships he underwent and console themselves by showing patience at the misfortunes that would hit them. 

Umm Ayman undertook a heavy burden. She wanted to sob and wail but she did not because she thought the Prophet would feel sad. She pulled herself together. She decided not to make him feel the lack of his mother. She was going to act in a self-sacrificing way. She hugged him as if he was her own son. Then, she consoled him as follows:

“Do not feel sad. O Muhammad! Do not cry. We have to surrender to divine qadar. Allah owns our souls and property. They were entrusted to us. He takes back the things that He entrusted us as He wishes.”

There were tears in the eyes of the Prophet. He was left as both a fatherless and motherless child. He did not see the face of his father even once. He would not be able to see the face of his mother after that. He spoke as follows in tears: “I know. I always surrender to His decree. However, the face of one's mother is a face that cannot be forgotten. I feel sad that I will not see that face again.” However, he pulled himself together soon. He wanted to fulfill his last duty for his mother. He said to his nanny as if he was an adult,

“Come on! She entrusted her soul to her owner. Let us put her body into the ground so that she will find rest.”

After a while, they buried the most honorable and luckiest mother together.

The duty to take the Messenger of Allah to Makkah belonged to Umm Ayman now. She put the Prophet on the camel. They set off together. After a tiring journey that lasted five days, they reached Makkah. Umm Ayman gave him to Abdulmuttalib, his grandfather, in tears. However, she served the Prophet both when he was with his grandfather and after his death when he was under the protection of Abu Talib, his uncle. She regarded it as great honor for her.

Many years passed. The Prophet became 25 years old. Everybody loved him and called him “Mu­hammad al-Amin”. He married Hz. Khadija, who was a widow 15 years older than him but who was the most honorable woman in Makkah. She was very rich. She entrusted all of her wealth to her beloved husband. 

The Prophet did not forget her nanny who loved her with the compassion of a mother and who sacrificed herself for him like a mother. He helped her nanny financially and showed her respect like a son showing respect to his mother. He also helped his nanny to get married. He married her off to Ubayd bin Zayd.

When Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) became 40 years old, Allah Almighty chose and appointed him as a prophet. Umm Ayman, who had taken care of him loyally since he was a baby, guessed that he would be an important person. For, she observed several wonderful incidents beginning from his birth. Therefore, she never left him alone. When he started to call people to Islam, she did not leave him alone. She believed in him without hesitating; thus, he rejoiced the Messenger of Allah.      

In that period, to become a Muslim meant to accept beforehand to undergo unbelievable tortures. Umm Ayman suffered from those painful tortures. However, she did not make any concessions about her belief because she regarded dying in this way as honor. When tortures became unbearable, she migrated to Abyssinia and then to Madinah. Thus, she received the reward of “double migrations”.[3]Umm Ayman did not leave the Messenger of Allah alone in Madinah like in Makkah. She always served him.

The nanny of the Prophet always trusted in Allah Almighty. She did not lose hope of Allah Almighty even in the hardest situations. She believed that He would help her. She sometimes received the reward of this surrendering and trust in advance.  

While she was migrating, she stopped near Rawha for the night. She was very thirsty. She did not have even one drop of water. She did not panic because she definitely believed that her Lord, who was so merciful, saw her and knew about her situation. She knew that she would not be left thirsty and exhausted. As a matter of fact, the help of Allah Almighty did not delay. She saw a bucket hanging from the sky tied with a white rope. She stood up by thanking Allah Almighty and went over to the bucket. It was full of clear, cold water. She quenched her thirst. She felt relieved. While narrating this incident, Umm Ayman said,

“I have never felt thirsty after that.”[4]

Another characteristic of Umm Ayman was that she was a fearless mujahid of Islam. She did not hesitate to risk her life for the cause of Islam. During the Battle of Uhud, the mujahids were scattered and some Companions went back to Madinah while the battle was going on. Umm Ayman became very sorry when she saw this. She felt disturbed when they panicked and left the Prophet at the battlefront facing the enemy. She shouted at one of those who left the battlefront as follows:   

“There is a distaff here. Take this and spin wool. Give me your sword. I will go to Uhud with the women and fight.”

Umm Ayman could not stay in Madinah any longer. There was definitely something that she could do as a woman. She went to Uhud with some women. When she arrived there, she asked about the Messenger of Allah. When she heard that he was all right, she felt relieved. She looked after the wounded mujahids with the other women. She gave water to the mujahids.[5]

Like all of the Companions, Umm Ayman loved the Prophet very much. She had a belief that could make her sacrifice her life for the Prophet. She always wanted to see the Messenger of Allah happy; she could not bear it when he was sad. She rejoiced with the Messenger of Allah and felt sorry with the Messenger of Allah. Once, the Prophet (pbuh) took a sick child on his lap. The child was moaning due to his illness The Prophet cried due to his compassion. When Umm Ayman saw that the Prophet was crying, she started to cry, too.  The Prophet asked, “Why are you crying while I am here?” Umm Ayman expressed her love for him as follows:

“How should I not cry when the Messenger of Allah cries?”[6]

Umm Ayman led a happy life with her husband Ubayd bin Zayd. Hz. Ubayd took part in the Battle of Hunayn. He fought there heroically and became a martyr. Umm Ayman did not lose her steadfastness when she heard that her husband died. She regarded it as great honor to be the wife of a martyr. She showed patience at this misfortune in the way of Allah.   

The Prophet did not leave his self-sacrificing nanny, Umm Ayman, who treated him as if she was his mother, who put up with all kinds of problems, misfortunes and agonies for the sake of her belief and who underwent tortures for it, alone. Once, he addressed his Companions as follows: “He who wants to marry a woman of Paradise should marry Umm Ayman.” Thus, he indicated that she was a woman of Paradise. When Umm Ayman heard this word of the Messenger of Allah about her, she became very happy. Could there have been happiness greater than this for a Muslim?

The first person who answered the call of the Messenger of Allah was his adopted son Zayd bin Haritha. Hz. Zayd was a young Companion. He wanted to marry an old woman like Umm Ayman only in order to please the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He preferred the consent of the Prophet to worldly pleasures. After that, the Messenger of Allah married this great Companion off to his nanny. The great Islamic commander, Usama bin Zayd, who was a great Companion like his father, was born out of this marriage.[7]

Umm Ayman had a different place in the eye of the Prophet. He sometimes made jokes to please her. However, the Prophet told the truth even when he made a joke. He rejoiced his addressees without offending them. Once, Hz. Umm Ayman went into the presence of the Messenger of Allah and said to him, “Will you find me an animal to ride?” The Messenger of Allah said, “I will give you the offspring of a she-camel to ride.” Umm Ayman did not understand the joke of the Messenger of Allah and said, “O Messenger of Allah, the offspring of a she-camel will not be able to carry me. I do not want a  young camel." The Prophet repeated his word: "I will give you the offspring of a she-camel to ride!”[8]Thus, the Prophet told the truth even when he made a joke. Are young camels not born of she-camels?

Umm Ayman was close to the Prophet when he died. She could not help crying. They asked her, “Why are you crying so much?” She said, “I am crying because the revelation ended.”

After the Prophet, Hz. Abu Bakr ve Hz. Umar showed the respect that this woman deserved to her. For, the people that the Messenger of Allah appreciated were valuable in the eye of the Companions, too. Therefore, they visited her from time to time and met her needs. And she prayed for them.[9]

Umm Ayman, who got very old, died during the first years of the caliphate of Hz. Uthman. One hadith reported by her is as follows:

“Do not abandon any fard prayers deliberately. A person who abandons prayers deliberately is deprived of the protection of Allah and His Messenger.”[10]

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[1] al-Isaba, 4: 432; Tabaqat, 8: 223.
[2] Tabaqat, 1: 116.
[3] Usdu'l-Ghaba, 5: 408.
[4] Tabaqat, 8: 224; Hayatu’s-Sahaba, 3: 459; al-Isaba, 4: 432.
[5] Tabaqat, 8: 225.
[6] Tajrid Translation, 4: 381.
[7] al-Isaba, 4: 432; Tabaqat, 8: 224.
[8] Tabaqat, 8: 224.
[9] Muslim, Fadailu’s-Sahaba: 103.
[10] Musnad, 6: 421.

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