DEAR SISTERS,CHOOSE A GOOD HUSBAND
The Amazing Example of Umm Sulaym bint Milhaan
Among the great Muslim women of Islaaam, one who is known for her strength of character, lofty aspirations and far-sightedness in her choice of a husband is Umm Sulaym bint Milhaan.
She was one of the first Ansaari women to embrace Islaam. She was married to Maalik ibn Nadhar, and bore him a son, Anas. 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 (the Mighty), and devoted herself to taking care of her ten-year-old son Anas. She took him to the Prophet, so that he could serve him and learn from him.
One of the best young men of Madinah, one of the best looking richest and strongest, came to seek her hand in marriage. This was Abu Talhah - 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 would joyfully rush to accept his offer. But to his astonishment, she told him,
“O Aboo Talhah, 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 Banoo (the tribe of) so-and so.”
He said, “Of course.”
“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 Banoo (the tribe of) so-and-so?”
Abu Talhah 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 Aboo Talhah, 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 (mahr), and I would ask you for nothing more.” (Reported by al-Nisa’i with a sahih isnad, 6/114, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-tazwij ‘ala’l-Islam.)
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 Aboo Talhah, 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 Talhah, and he asked himself, “Does the Lord burn?” Then he uttered the testimony of faith, “Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasoolullah.” And hence became a Muslim.
Then Umm Sulaym said to her son Anas, with joy flooding her entire being,
“O Anas, marry me to Aboo Talhah.”
So Anas brought witnesses and the marriage was solemnized.
Aboo Talhah was so happy that he was determined to put all his wealth at Umm Sulaym’s disposal, but hers was the attitude of the selfless, proud, sincere believing woman. She told him,
“O Aboo Talhah, I married you for the sake of Allah (the Glorious), and I will not take any other dowry.”
She knew that when Abu Talhah embraced Islam, she did not only win herself a worthy husband, but she also earned a reward from Allah (subhaanahu wa ‘ta’aalaa) that was better than owning red camels (the most highly-prized kind) in this world, as she had heard the Prophet say, “If Allah (the Glorious) were to guide one person to Islaam through you, it is better for you than owning red camels.”