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Unconditional Compassion

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(The Life of Ummu Sulaim [radhiyallahu ‘anha] #7)

After Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) married Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), they had a son named Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was a very handsome child and his father, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), loved him intensely.

One day, after Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had grown into a young, active child, he fell extremely sick. Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was so concerned and worried over his son that his health and condition began to deteriorate. Nevertheless, despite his son being extremely ill, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) would continue to visit and sit in the company of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) every morning and evening.

While Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) one evening, Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) succumbed to his illness and passed away. Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) thus sent her son, Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), to call Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). However, she instructed Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and the other members of her family saying, “Do not inform Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) of the death of his son until I myself inform him.”

Then, before Abu Talhah (rdhiyallahu ‘anhu) could arrive, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) took the body of her just-deceased son, gave it ghusal and enshrouded it in a kafan. She then placed the body in a corner of the home, out of sight. She thereafter prepared supper for her husband, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who happened to be fasting.

When Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) arrived, he immediately asked Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), “How is the boy?” Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) replied, “He is more at peace than he ever was.” Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) understood this reply to mean that the child had recovered from his illness and thus felt relaxed, allowing him to eat his supper in comfort. After he had eaten, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), beautified herself more than she had ever done before and presented herself to her husband. They thereafter shared the bed.

The following morning, when Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had performed ghusal and was about to leave home, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) said to him, “O Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu)! Tell me, if some people loaned an item of theirs to a household and thereafter asked the household to return it, would the household have the right to withhold the item?” Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “No.” Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) then said, “Hope for reward on account of your son (passing away). Allah Ta‘ala had loaned him to us and has now taken him back.” When he heard the news of his son’s demise, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was naturally shocked and upset and said, “You left me to share the bed with you and thereafter informed me of my son?” He thereafter proceeded to perform Salaah with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alahi wasallam), after which he informed Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) of the events of the previous night.

When he heard what had transpired, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) made du‘aa for Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) and Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) saying, “May Allah Ta‘ala grant you barakah in the night you spent together.” Thus, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) had conceived that night.

Sometime thereafter, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallalhu ‘anha) was out of Madeenah Munawwarah, travelling with her husband accompanying Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). As they neared Madeenah Munawwarah, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was struck by labour pains. On account of the labour, she could not make the final leg of the journey to enter Madeenah Munawwarah and thus Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had to remain with her to care for her.

Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), due to his deep love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), always desired to leave Madeenah Munawwarah with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and enter the blessed city with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Now, because he had to stay with Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), he would miss entering with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). He thus raised his hands in du‘aa and supplicated saying, “O Lord! It pleases me to leave with Your Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) when he leaves, and enter with him when he enters. I am now held back, as You can see.”

When he made this du‘aa, the labour ceased and Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) exclaimed, “O Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu)! I no longer feel the pains that I was feeling! Proceed!” Thereafter, as they entered Madeenah Munawwarah, her labour resumed and she was blessed with a son. When the child was born, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) said to Anas (radhiyallau ‘anhu), “O Anas! Nobody will feed this child until you first take him to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).” Hence, as soon as it was morning, Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) took his baby brother to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) who happened to have a branding-iron in his blessed hand at the time (with which he would brand the animals of zakaat for identification purposes).

On seeing Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) has perhaps had a child?” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then placed the branding-iron down and Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) placed the baby in his blessed lap. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then called for some ‘ajwah dates of Madeenah Munawwarah to be brought. When it was presented to him, he placed it in his blessed mouth and chewed it until it softened into a paste. He then placed it into the child’s mouth. When it was placed in his mouth, the baby began to suck at it eagerly. Noticing this, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Look at the love of the Ansaar for dates!” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then wiped the face of the baby and named him ‘Abdullah.

Sufyaan bin ‘Uyainah (rahimahullah) narrates from a man of the Ansaar (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) who mentioned that this son, ‘Abdullah, had nine sons, all of whom had studied the Quraan Majeed.

(Reference: Saheeh Bukhaari #1239, Saheeh Muslim #5612 and Fathul Baari vol. 3 pg. 217)   

Lessons:

1. The behaviour and conduct of Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) on the demise of her son highlights her spirit of kindness and compassion. She was obviously greatly grieved and affected, as her son had passed away. Yet, despite her pain and grief, she put her emotions aside, in a remarkable display of compassion, and did all that she could to see to the comfort of her husband. As he was fasting, she did not break the news to him immediately, as it would have caused him to lose his appetite and go hungry. Furthermore, in case he needed to share the bed, she adorned herself and saw to his matrimonial needs as well. Finally, being the end of the day, he was tired. If she broke the news to him at that moment, his grief would have deprived him of sleep. Hence, she first saw to all the needs of her husband, and only when he had eaten, fulfilled his needs and rested did she break the news to him. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was so pleased with her selfless behaviour and conduct that he made du‘aa for them. As a result, their son, ‘Abdullah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), was born, and the barakah was evident in his progeny, where nine of his sons were ‘Ulama. 

2. Today, most people remain connected to a network through which they can instantaneously communicate with people of their choice. The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) remained connected with Allah Ta‘ala and thus when they raised their hands to communicate with Him via du‘aa, they often received an instantaneous response.