Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ramlah Binti Abu Sufian

Ramlah binti Abu Sufian

 In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, May Allāh blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.

Ramlah binti Abu Sufian, (radiyallāhu`anha), got married to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) in 1 AH, although she did not actually come to live with him in Medinah until 7 AH, when the Prophet was sixty years old and she was thirty-five.

Ramlah was the daughter of Abu Sufian Ibn Harb, who for some of his life was one of the most resolute enemies of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) spending much of his great wealth in opposing the Muslims, and leading the armies of the kafirun against the Muslims in all the early major battles, including the battles of Badar, Uhud and Al-Khandaq.

Indeed it was not until the conquest of Makkah, when the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) generously pardoned him and his wife Hindun binti Utbah [the lady whom at the Battle of Uhud cut open the chest of Hamzah Ibn Abdul Muttalib, Prophet’s uncle who was martyred. She dissected and swallowed his heart out of hatred] embraced Islam and began to fight with the Muslims instead of against them

Abu Sufian ibn Harb could not conceive of anyone among the Quraish who would dare challenge his authority or go against his orders. He was after all, the Sayyid or chieftain of Makkah who had to be obeyed and followed. His daughter, Ramlah, known as Umm Habibah, (radiallāhu`anha) however dared to challenge his authority when she rejected the deities of the Quraish and their idolatrous ways. Together with her husband, Ubaidullah Ibn Jahsh, she put her faith in Allah alone and accepted the message of His prophet, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah.

Abu Sufian tried with all the power and force at his disposal to bring back his daughter and her husband to his religion and the religion of their forefathers. But he did not succeed. The faith which was embedded in the heart of Ramlah was too strong to be uprooted by the hurricanes of Abu Sufian’s fury. Abu Sufian remained deeply worried and concerned by his daughter's acceptance of Islam. He did not know how to face the Quraish after she had gone against his will and he was clearly powerless to prevent her from following Muhammad. When the Quraish realized though that Abu Sufian himself was enraged by Ramlah and her husband, they were emboldened to treat them harshly. They unleashed the full fury of their persecution against them to such a degree that life in Makkah became unbearable.

In the fifth year of his mission, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) gave permission to the Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia. Ramlah, her little daughter Habibah, and her husband were among those who left. Abu Sufian and the Quraish leaders found it difficult to accept that a group of Muslims had slipped out of their net of persecution and was enjoying the freedom to hold their beliefs and practice their religion in the land of the Negus.

They therefore send messengers to the Negus to seek their extradition. The messengers tried to poison the mind of the Negus against the Muslims but after examining the Muslims beliefs and listening to the Quran being recited, the Negus concluded: "What has been revealed to your Prophet Muhammad and what Jesus the son of Mary preached came from the same source." The Negus himself announced his faith in the one true God and his acceptance of the Prophethood of Muhammad, peace be on him. He also announced his determination to protect the Muslim Muhajirin.

The long journey on the road of hardship and tribulation had finally led to the oasis of serenity. So Umm Habibah felt. But she did not know that the new-found freedom and sense of peace were later to be shattered. She was to be put through a test of the most severe and harrowing kind.

One night, it is related, as Umm Habibah was asleep she had a vision in which she saw her husband in the midst of a fathomless ocean covered by wave upon wave of darkness. He was in a most perilous situation. She woke up, frightened. But she did not wish to tell her husband or anyone else what she had seen.

The day after that ominous night was not yet through when Ubaidullah Ibn Jahsh announced his acceptance of Christianity. What a terrible blow! Ramlah's sense of peace was shattered. She did not expect this of her husband who presented her forthwith with the choice of a divorce or of accepting Christianity. Umm Habibah had three options before her. She could either remain with her husband or accept his call to become a Christian in which case she also would commit apostasy and - God forbid - deserve ignominy in this world and punishment in the hereafter. This was something she resolved she would never do even if she were subjected to the most horrible torture. Or, she could return to her father's house in Makkah - but she knew he remained a citadel of syirik and she would be forced to live under him, subdued and suppressing her faith. Or, she could stay alone in the land of the Negus as a displaced fugitive - without country, without family and without a supporter.

She made the choice that she considered was the most pleasing to God. She made up her mind to stay with her daughter in Abyssinia living a very simple life in isolation, waiting to see what Allah would decree for her.

She divorced her husband who lived only a short while after becoming a Christian. He had given himself over to frequenting wine merchants and consuming alcohol, the "mother of evils". This undoubtedly helped to destroy him.

Umm Habibah (radiyallāhu`anha) stayed in Abyssinia for about ten years. Towards the end of this time, relief and happiness came. It came from an unexpected quarter. One morning bright and early, there was a loud knocking on her door. It was Abrahah, the special maid-servant of the Negus. Abrahah was beaming with joy as she greeted Umm Habibah (radiyallāhu`anha)and said: "The Negus sends his greetings and says to you that Muhammad, the Messenger of God, wants you to marry him and that he has sent a letter in which he has appointed him as his wakil to contract the marriage between you and him. If you agree, you are to appoint a wakil to act on your behalf."Umm Habibah (radiallāhu`anha)was in the clouds with happiness. She shouted to herself: "God has given you glad tidings. God has given you glad tidings." She took off her jewelry- her necklace and bracelets - and gave them to Abrahah. She took off her rings too and gave them to her. And indeed if she had possessed all the treasures of the world, she would have given them to Abrahah at that moment of sheer joy. Finally she said to Abrahah: "I appoint Khalid Ibn Said Ibn Al-Aas (radiallāhu`anhu) to act as wakil on my behalf for he is the closest person to me."

In the palace of the Negus, set in the midst of beautiful gardens and luxuriant vegetation and in one of the lavishly decorated, sumptuously furnished and brightly lit halls, the group of Muslims living in Abyssinia gathered. They included Ja’afar Ibn Abi Talib, Khalid Ibn Said, Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah  As-Sahmi (radiyallāhu`anhum) and others. They had gathered to witness the conclusion of the marriage contract between Umm Habibah, the daughter of Abu Sufian, and Muhammad, the Messenger of God.

When the marriage was finalized, the Negus addressed the gathering: "I praise God, the Holy, and I declare that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger and that He gave the good tidings to Jesus the son of Mary. The Messenger of God, peace be on him, has requested me to conclude the marriage contract between him and Umm Habibah the daughter of Abu Sufian. I agreed to do what he requested and on his behalf I give her a mahr or dowry of four hundred gold dinars." He handed over the amount to Khalid Ibn Said (radiallāhu`anhu)  who stood up and said: "All praise is due to God. I praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness and I turn to Him in repentance. I declare that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger whom He has sent with the religion of guidance and truth so that it might prevail over all other forms of religion even if the disbelievers were to dislike this."

"I have agreed to do what the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) has requested and acted as the wakil on behalf of Umm Habibah, the daughter of Abu Sufian. May God bless His Messenger and his wife. "Congratulations to Umm Habibah on account of the goodness which God has ordained for her."
Khalid took the mahar and handed it over to Umm Habibah.

The Sahabah thereupon got up and prepared to leave but the Negus said to them: "Sit down for it is the practice of the Prophets to serve food at marriages." There was general rejoicing at the court of the Negus as the guests sat down again to eat and celebrate the joyous occasion. Umm Habibah (radiyallāhu`anha) especially could hardly believe her good fortune and she later described how she was eager to share her happiness. She said: "When I received the money as mahar, I sent fifty mithqals of gold to Abrahah who had brought me the good news and I said to her: 'I gave you what I did when you gave me the good news because at that time I did not have any money.'

"Shortly afterwards, Abrahah came to me and returned the gold. She also produced a case which contained the necklace I had given to her. She returned that to me and said: 'The King has instructed me not to take anything from you and he has commanded the women in his household to present you with gifts of perfume.'

"On the following day, she brought me ambergris, saffron and aloes and said: 'I have a favor to ask of you.' 'What is it?' I asked. 'I have accepted Islam,' she said, 'and now follow the religion of Muhammad. Convey to him my salutation of peace and let him know that I believe in Allah and His Prophet(Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). Please don't forget.'

"She then helped me to get ready for my journey to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)."

Six years later, in 7 AH, when the emigrant Muslims in Abyssinia were finally able to return to Arabia, Umm Habibah (radiyallāhu`anha) moved to Medinah and there the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam), who had just returned victorious from Khaibar, warmly welcomed her. Umm Habibah relates: "When I met the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam), I told him all about the arrangements that had been made for the marriage and about my relationship with Abrahahl. I told him that she had become a Muslim and conveyed her greetings of peace to him. He (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was filled with joy at the news and said, 'Wa alaiha as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh - And on her be the peace and the mercy of Allah and His blessing.'"

The strength of Umm Habibah’s character can be measured by what happened shortly before the conquest of Makkah, when her father, Abu Sufian Ibn Harb, went to Medinah after the Quraish had breached the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, to try and re-negotiate a fresh settlement with the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). He first went to Umm Habibah’s room and was about to sit down on the blanket on which the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) slept when Umm Habibah, who had not seen her father for over six years, asked him not to sit on it and quickly folded it up and put it away.

"Am I too good for the bed, or it is the bed too good for me?" he asked.

"How can the enemy of Islam sit on the bed of the Holy Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)?" she replied.

It was only after Abu Sufian had embraced Islam, after the conquest of Makkah, and had become the enemy of the enemies of Islam, that Umm Habibah (radiallāhu`anha)  accepted and loved him again as her father. When she received the news that her father and brother Mu’awiyah, who later became the Khalif of the Muslims, had become Muslims after the conquest, she fell down in prostration to Allah out of thankfulness. Umm Habibah spent four years of her life with the Prophet SAW and lived for another thirty-three years after he had died, died at the age of seventy-two in 44 AH, may Allah be pleased with her.

Like all the wives of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) Umm Habibah (radiyallāhu`anha) spent much of her time remembering Allah and worshipping Him.

She has related that once the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said to her, "A house will be built in the Garden for anyone who, in the space of a day and a night, prays twelve voluntary raka’at;" and she added, "I have never stopped doing this since it from the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam).”


[ Via Ummnurah]

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