Umm Habiba (r.anha)

The real name of Umm Habiba, who was Abu Sufyan's daughter, was “Ramla”. She was Hz. Muawiya's sister. Her mother was Safiyye bint As, who was Hz. Uthman’s aunt.

Hz. Umm Habiba was one of the first Muslims. Her husband was Ubaydullah bin Jahsh, who also became a Muslim. However, her parents had not become Muslims yet. Besides her father, Abu Sufyan, was one of the leaders of the polytheists. Therefore, Hz. Umm Habiba suffered unbearable tortures but she did not give up her belief. When the tortures became too severe, she migrated to Abyssinia with her husband.     

The Abyssinian king, the Negus welcomed the immigrants. He gave them whatever they needed. Meanwhile, Umm Habiba gave birth to a girl there. They called her Habiba. After that, Ramla was given the name “Umm Habiba”.

After a short while, Umm Habiba saw in her dream that her husband's face had become black. After that, she spoke as follows:

“I said to myself, 'I swear by Allah that he will change.' In the morning, my husband said to me, ‘O Umm Habiba! I had studied the religions and found Christianity as the best religion before. However, I became a Muslim somehow. Now, I have become a Christian again.' I said to him, ‘By Allah, there is no good in you.' Then, I told him about the dream I had.

After changing his religion, Umm Habiba’s husband forced his wife to become a Christian too. He told her that they would be rich. However, Umm Habiba did not accept his vows and offers. She had left her father, mother, hometown and relatives for the sake of Islam. She was ready to leave her husband too. She left her husband without any hesitation. She was alone with her daughter in a place so many kilometers away from her hometown now. She had very difficult days.

The Prophet heard that Umm Habiba’s husband exited Islam and that Umm Habiba left her husband. He wanted to reward Hz. Umm Habiba, who underwent so much trouble for the sake of her religion. After she completed her iddah (waiting period), the Prophet sent an envoy to the Abyssinian king, the Negus. The Prophet wrote two letters addressing the Negus. In the first letter, the Prophet called the Negus to accept Islam. In the second letter, he asked the Negus to marry Umm Habiba off to the Prophet. He also asked the Negus to send the immigrants to Madinah. 

Amr bin Umayya, who was sent as an envoy by the Prophet, left Madinah and arrived in Abyssinia after a tiring journey. The Negus accepted him to his presence. He read the letters sent by the Prophet respectfully. The light of guidance began to shine on his face. He had already learned about Islam from the Muslims that had migrated to his country, especially from Jafar bin Abi Talib, who was Hz. Ali's brother. Then, he uttered kalima ash-shahadah and became a Muslim.

After fulfilling the first request of the Prophet, the Negus took action in order to fulfill his other request. He sent a maid to Umm Habiba to give her the good news. Hz. Umm Habiba became very happy when she heard that the Prophet wanted to marry her. She forgot all of her problems and misfortunes. She gave the two silver bracelets around her wrists and the anklets around her ankles to the maid in return for this good news.

In the evening, the Negus invited all of the Muslims in his country to his palace. After chatting for a while, he addressed them as follows: 

 “Praise be to Allah! He is the sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might and the Irresistible. I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), gave the glad tiding that he would come.”

After that, the Negus gave Umm Habiba 400 gold coins as mahr on behalf of the Prophet.

After the Negus, Khalid bin Said, the deputy of Umm Habiba, made a speech and said that he married Umm Habiba off to the Prophet.

After that, the Negus gave dinner to the guests. He also had a dowry prepared for Umm Habiba. He completed the preparations for the journey of the immigrants. He sent them to Madinah by ships. [1]

The immigrants arrived in the port called Jar, which is about a day and a night far away from Madinah. They, they got off the ships and went to Madinah on camels. The people of Madinah became very happy when they saw that the immigrants who had gone to Abyssinia in order to get rid of the tortures of the polytheists returned. The Prophet allocated a room to Umm Habiba.

Umm Habiba fulfilled the requests of the Messenger of Allah immediately. Her love toward the Prophet was too great to describe. The following incident between her and her father is a good example to show it: 

The polytheists violated one item of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah unilaterally. However, they did not dare to fight Muslims. Therefore, they wanted to renew the treaty. The polytheists of Makkah appointed Abu Sufyan, one of the leaders of Makkah, for it. Abu Sufyan was Umm Habiba’s father, that is, the father-in-law of the Prophet.

Abu Sufyan set off for Madinah at once. He planned to stay in her daughter's house when he arrived in Madinah and to ask her to help him for the renewal of the treaty. He arrived in Madinah after a tiring journey. He went to the house of the Prophet and knocked on the door of Hz. Umm Habiba. She allowed him to enter her room unwillingly. She did not show her a place to sit. Abu Sufyan was tired and wanted to sit on the mattress on the ground. However, Umm Habiba did not let him sit on it because it belonged to the Prophet. She would not allow a polytheist to sit on it even if he was her father. Abu Sufyan did not understand it why she did not allow him to sit on the mattress and asked her,

"My daughter! I could not understand it. Are you sparing me from the mattress or the mattress from me?”

Umm Habiba said, “This is the mattress of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). You are a polytheist. I will not let anyone like you sit on the mattress of the Messenger of Allah.”

When Abu Sufyan received this unexpected response, he got very angry and said,

“O my daughter! By Allah, you have changed a lot after you left me; you have evil deeds.”

It was impossible for a non-Muslim to understand the greatness of the love of the Companions toward the Prophet.

Umm Habiba answered him as follows:  

“No! Allah gave me Islam, not evil deeds. However, you are still worshipping idols made of stones; they cannot hear or see.” Then, she added, “O my father! How come a notable of the Quraysh like you stays away from Islam?”

Abu Sufyan got angrier when she called him to Islam. He said,

“Woe on you! I did not expect to hear those words from you. You want me to abandon what my ancestors had been worshipping and enter the religion of Muhammad; is that right?” Then, he left Umm Habiba's room furiously. [2] (Abu Sufyan became a Muslim during the conquest of Makkah. He always regretted being so late.)

Umm Habiba, who loved the Prophet a lot and who always fulfilled his requests during the three years that he lived with the Prophet, reported some hadiths from the Prophet. One of them is as follows:  

“If I did not fear that it would be difficult for my ummah, I would order them to clean their teeth with miswak.” [3]

When Hz. Umm Habiba, who died in the 44th year of the Migration when her brother Muawiya was the caliph, became very ill, she called Hz. Aisha and Umm Salama and asked for their blessings and said, “It is normal to have had some problems among us. If something happened between me and you, I ask Allah to forgive you and not to call you to account because of me.” They said, “We ask Allah not to call you to account because of us.” When she heard this, she became happy. [4]

May Allah be pleased with them!

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[1] Tabaqat, 8: 96-99; Usdu’l-Ghaba, 5: 574.
[2] Insanu’l-Uyun, 3: 6-7; Tabaqat, 8: 99-100; Sirah, 4: 38.
[3] Musnad, 6: 325.
[4] Tabaqat, 8: 100.

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