Umm Sulaym bint Milhan (r.a.) & Her Dowry

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Among the great Muslim women who are known for their strength of character, lofty aspirations and far-sightedness in their choice of a husband is Umm Sulaym bint Milhan (r.a.), who was one of the first Answar women to embrace Islam.  She was married to Malik ibn Nadar, and bore him a son, Anas (r.a.).  When she embraced Islam, her husband, Malik was angry with her, and left her, but she persisted in her Islam.  Shortly afterwards, she heard the news of his death, and she was still in the flower of her youth.  She bore it all with the hope of Reward, for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.) and devoted herself to taking care of her ten-year-old son Anas (r.a.).  She took him to the Prophet (s.a.w.), so that he could serve him and learn from him.

One of the best young men of Madina, one of the best-looking, richest and strongest, came to seek her hand in marriage.  This was Abu Thalhah (r.a.) - before he became Muslim.  Many of the young women of Yathrib liked him because of his wealth, strength and youthful good looks, and he thought that Umm Sulaym (r.a.) would joyfully rush to accept his offer.  But to his astonishment, she told him, “O Abu Thalhah, do you not know that your god whom you worship is just a tree that grew in the ground and was carved into shape by the slave of Banu so-and-so.”

He replied, “Of course.”

She said, “Do you not feel ashamed to prostrate yourself to a piece of wood that grew in the ground and was carved by the slave of Banu so-and-so?”  Abu Thalhah (r.a.) was stubborn, and hinted to her of an expensive dowry and luxurious lifestyle, but she persisted in her point of view, and told him frankly, “O Abu Thalhah, a man like you could not be turned away, but you are a disbelieving man, and I am a Muslim woman.  It is not permitted for me to marry you, but if you were to embrace Islam, that would be my dowry, and I would ask you for nothing more.”

He returned the following day to try to tempt her with a larger dowry and more generous gift, but she stood firm, and her persistence and maturity only enhanced her beauty in his eyes.  She said to him, “O Abu Thalhah, do you not know that your god whom you worship was carved by the carpenter slave of so-and-so?  If you were to set it alight, it would burn.”

Her words came as a shock to Abu Thalhah (r.a.), and he asked himself, “Does the Rabb burn?”  Then he uttered the words: “I bear witness that there is no god except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” 

Then Umm Sulaym (r.a.) said to her son Anas (r.a.), with joy flooding her entire being, “O Anas, marry me to Abu Tahlhah.”  So, Anas (r.a.) brought witnesses and the marriage was solemnised.

Abu Thalhah (r.a.) was so happy that he was determined to put all his wealth at Umm Sulaym’s (r.a.) disposal, but hers was the attitude of the selfless, proud, sincere believing woman.  She told him, “O Abu Thalhah, I married you for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.) and I will not take any other dowry.”

She knew that when Abu Thalhah (r.a.) embraced Islam, she did not only win herself a worthy husband, but she also earned a Reward from Allah (s.w.t.) that was better than owning red camels, the most prized kind amongst the Arabs, as she had heard the Prophet (s.a.w.) say, “If Allah (s.w.t.) were to guide one person to Islam through you, it is better for you than owning red camels.”


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