CC ISSUE: MAR 2010 Last updated: Mar 4, 2010
Jewels from the past: Umm Ayman
Few people in Islamic history were as close to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon, from the time of his birth until his death, as Umm Ayman. Acknowledging this, the Prophet once described her as my “mother after my own mother. She is the rest of my family.”
Umm Ayman managed the household of Abdullah and Amina, the parents of the Prophet. It was Umm Ayman who slept at the foot of Amina’s bed and comforted her when, just weeks after her wedding, her husband was instructed to leave for Syria from where he never returned. Umm Ayman cared for Amina during her pregnancy and consoled her after her husband‘s death.
Then, when the Prophet was six, as she lay dying of illness, Amina instructed Umm Ayman to “be a mother to him, Barakah. And don’t ever leave him,” she said. Umm Ayman remained faithful to this instruction until the Prophet‘s death.
As the Prophet faced tragedy upon tragedy, from losing his mother to facing the death of his beloved grandfather Abdul Muttalib, Umm Ayman was there for him. It was only after he married Khadija that Umm Ayman chose to marry, upon their insistence. She married Ubayd ibn Zayd, and had a son named Ayman, thus the name Umm Ayman.
Umm Ayman was among the first Muslims, and like the others, she bravely faced persecution for choosing Islam. She risked her life by ferreting out the plots and conspiracies against the Prophet. In the Battle of Uhud, she distributed water to soldiers and nursed the wounded. She also accompanied the Prophet on some expeditions. She was committed to the success of the faith. The Prophet once asked her: “Ya Ummi! Are you well?” and she would reply: “I am well, O Messenger of Allah so long as Islam is.”
Umm Ayman trekked across the burning desert on foot through sandstorms during the migration from Makkah to Madinah. She was given good news when she arrived, swollen feet, dust-covered face and all. The Prophet said, “Ya Umm Ayman! Ya Ummi! (O Umm Ayman! O my mother!) Indeed for you is a place in Paradise!”
After Umm Ayman’s husband died and she was in her 50’s, the Prophet, while speaking to some of his Companions, recommended, “Should one of you desire to marry a woman from the people of Paradise, let him marry Umm Ayman.”
Young Zayd bin Harithah agreed to marry this woman of Jannah. They had a son named Usamah who was described as “the beloved son of the beloved.” In other words, the Prophet loved both he and his father. Umm Ayman was alive when the Prophet died. But as much as she loved him, it was not for him that she wept. She said, “By Allah, I knew that the Messenger of Allah would die but I cry now because the revelation from on high has come to an end for us.”
Umm Ayman died when Uthman ibn Affan was leader of the Muslim community.
Information in this article is based on the account of Umm Ayman’s life in the book Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid