(The Life of Ummu Sulaim [radhiyallahu ‘anha] #2)

Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was initially married to Maalik bin Nadhar, and it was from this union that Anas bin Maalik (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was born. They were from the Ansaar and thus resided in Madeenah Munawwarah.

When Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) heard of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his message of Islam, her husband was away from home. Nevertheless, she immediately accepted Islam. When Maalik, her husband, returned home and realized that she had become a Muslim, he asked her, “Have you become a renegade?” Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) replied, “I am not a renegade. Rather, I have brought imaan in Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).”

Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) thereafter began prompting her son, Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), to recite the kalimah. As she prompted and encouraged him, he recited the kalimah, also entering the fold of Islam. Seeing this, Maalik became upset and scolded Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) saying, “Don’t corrupt my son!” To this, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) calmly replied, “I am not corrupting him.”

After this transpired, Maalik left home in a state of anger and departed for Shaam. While away, he met an enemy who killed him. When the news of his death reached Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), she remarked, “I will not remarry until Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) grows up and tells me to do so.”

Once this period had elapsed, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who was not yet a Muslim, came to Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) and proposed. When she received the proposal, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) refused to marry him saying, “I am not averse to marrying you and a proposal such as yours is not normally rejected. However, I cannot marry a disbeliever. Do you not know, O Abu Talhah, that your gods (idols), which you worship, are carved by a carpenter who is the slave of so-and-so tribe? Do you not realize that if you light a fire under your god, it will burn? Are you not ashamed to prostrate before something that grew from the ground (as the wooden idols were carved from trees)? Why do you not testify that there is none worthy of worship besides Allah, and that Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is the messenger of Allah? If you do so, I will marry you, and I do not want any dowry from you besides that you accept Islam.” Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) responded, “Leave me to ponder over this and give it due consideration.”

After some time had passed, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) returned and proclaimed, “I testify that there is none worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is the messenger of Allah.” As soon as he accepted Islam, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) turned to Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and said, “O Anas! Stand and perform my nikaah to Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu)!”

(Tabaqaat Ibni Sa’d vol. 8, pg. 425-427 and Usdul Ghaabah vol. 5, pg. 456)


1. Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) understood the true value of Islam and imaan. As a result, she was concerned regarding her offspring and thus ensured that she made her son, Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), recite the kalimah. In fact, her imaan was such that even when faced with opposition from her husband, she remained firmin her imaan and her decision to make Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) a Muslim.

Similarly, in our own marriages, we may face instances where we have to choose between pleasing our spouses and pleasing Allah Ta‘ala. At such crucial junctures, if a person is able to prove their loyalty to Allah Ta‘ala, it is indeed a great testament to the level of their imaan, as it clearly shows that they value Allah Ta‘ala over all else.

2. Most widows, on receiving an excellent proposal, will not hesitate to accept it, the reason being that remarrying will bring security and companionship, and the new husband will fill the void that was left by the demise of the first husband.

Although there is nothing wrong with this, the concern that Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) had for the correct, Islamic upbringing of her son, Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), was such that she chose to sacrifice and delay remarrying until she had seen to the primary stages of his upbringing.

It was perhaps because of this, that Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) would make du‘aa for his mother, in appreciation of her sacrifice, saying, “May Allah Ta‘ala reward my mother well on my behalf as she saw to my upbringing and cared for me excellently.” (Tabaqaat Ibni Sa’d vol. 8, pg. 426)

3. Although Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was entitled to mahr (dowry), she was so happy with the Islam of Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) that she chose to waive the mahr. His entering the fold of Islam was sufficient for her.