Ramlah Bint Abi Sufyan رضي الله عنها
Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها gave preference to Allah Ta’ala and His Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم over all others, and she disliked returning to disbelief as much as a person dislikes being thrown into the fire.
Prior to his daughter’s acceptance of Islam, it never occurred to Abu Sufyan رضي الله عنه (who was at that time still a polytheist) that any of the Quraish would have the nerve to disobey him or oppose him in any important matter; he was the obeyed leader of Makkah and its chief, to whom everyone submitted.
However, his daughter Ramlah, nicknamed Umm Habībah, defied this expectation when she rejected her father’s deities. She and her husband believed in Allah Ta’ala alone as being worthy of worship, and they ascribed no partners to him. They attested to the message of His Prophet, Muḥammad bin Abdullāh صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم.
Consequently, Abu Sufyan utilised all his power and strength trying to return his daughter and her husband to his and his forefathers’ religion. However, he was unsuccessful; the Imaan that had been established in Ramlah’s رضي الله عنها heart was too deep for even a hurricane to uproot, and too firm even for his anger to move.
Ramlah’s رضي الله عنها acceptance of Islam caused distress, which plagued Abu Sufyan رضي الله عنه . He did not know how to face the Quraish being unable to subdue his daughter to his wishes and separate her from the followers of Muḥammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم.
When the Quraish realised that Abu Sufyan رضي الله عنه was furious at Ramlah رضي الله عنها and her husband, they became bold with the couple. They started tightening their grip around their throats, making them suffer severely until they could not bear living in Makkah anymore.
When Rasulullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم permitted the Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia, Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan, her daughter, Habībah رضي الله عنهما and her husband, Ubaidullāh bin Jahsh were at the forefront of those migrating for the sake of Allah Ta’ala with their religion, fleeing with their Imaan to the sanctuary offered by Najashi رحمة الله عليه .
However, Abu Sufyan رضي الله عنه and those leaders of the Quraish who were with him could not bear the thought of a group of Muslims slipping through their hands, to taste the flavour of comfort in the land of Abyssinia. They therefore sent their messenger to Najashi رحمة الله عليه to encourage him against them and requesting him to deliver the Muslims to them. They said to him that the Muslims had slandered Isa عليه السلام and his mother, Maryam عليه السلام
Hearing this, Najashi رحمة الله عليه summoned a group of the immigrants and questioned them regarding the reality of their religion and their belief regarding Isa and his mother عليه السلام He requested they recite some of the Qur’an that had been revealed to the heart of their Prophet.
When they informed him of the reality of Islam, and its respect for Isa عليه ال سلام and recited the verses of Surah Maryam, he cried until his beard was soaked.
Then he said to them: “This which has been revealed to your Prophet and that which Isa, the son of Maryam عليه السلام brought, stem from one and the same light.”
The Muslims recited ayāh 19 to 32
Thereafter he declared his belief in Allah Ta’ala alone, ascribing no partners with Him and he attested to the prophet hood of Muhammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم. He also declared his protection of those Muslims who had migrated to his land. He did this despite his generals refusing to accept Islam and choosing to remain as Christians.
After all this, Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها thought that her days had cleared after a lengthy gloom. She felt that her difficult journey through the pathways of agony had led her to an oasis of security. But she could never have imagined what destiny had in store for her.
Allah Ta’ala, may His Wisdom be exalted, decided to test Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها with a harsh trial, so harsh that intelligent men would have lost their minds and the understanding of intellectual people would have been demolished. However, He wished that she would emerge from that test victorious, seated on the peak of success.
One night, Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها retired to her bed and she saw in a dream that her husband, Ubaidullah bin Jahsh, was wandering about in a fathomless ocean, darkness after darkness surrounding him, and he was in a terrible state. She awoke from her sleep fearful and upset. She did not want to mention what she had seen to him or anyone else. However, very soon her dream became reality.
The next day, Ubaidullāh bin Jahsh turned apostate and became a Christian. He then started frequenting the taverns, becoming addicted to wine, while neither being quenched nor satisfied by it. He gave her a choice between two options, the sweetest of which was bitter: either she could be divorced from him, or she should become a Christian.
Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها unexpectedly found herself caught between three alternatives. She could respond to her husband, who had started pestering her by inviting her to Christianity and thereby belie her religion – we seek Allah Ta’ala’s protection for all the
Muslims from such an option, always – and yield to disgrace in this world and punishment in the Hereafter. However, this was a decision that she would not choose even if her flesh were raked from her bones with iron combs. On the other hand, she could return to her father’s home in Makkah which remained the fortress of polytheism, where she would live with her dīn, defeated and overpowered. The third choice was to remain in the city of Abyssinia alone with neither family, nor home, nor supporter.
She chose the last option, which contained the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala over all others and resolved to remain in Abyssinia until Allah Ta’ala granted her relief.
Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها did not have to wait long. Ubaidullāh bin Jahsh died an apostate soon after becoming Christian, and her īddah7 had barely been completed when relief came to her.The period of confinement for a woman after death or divorce, usually three menstrual cycles.
Fortune approached her, spreading its emerald wings over her grieving home. One bright, silvery morning there was a knock on the door. She opened it to reveal Abraha, the maidservant of Najashi رحمة الله عليه . Abraha greeted her joyously and respectfully, sought permission to enter, and said:
“The king conveys his regards to you, and says: “Muḥammad, the Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم of Allah has proposed to you. He has sent the king a letter in which he appoints him as guardian to contract your marriage to him, so you should choose whichever guardian you wish.”
Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها almost burst with happiness and she shouted blissfully: “May Allah Ta’ala reward you well! May Allah Ta’ala reward you well!”
She then started removing all the jewellery she wore. She took off her bangles and gave them to Abraha. She then added her ankle-bracelets and followed that with her earrings and her rings. If she’d possessed all the treasures in the world, she would have given it all to the young maid servant at that moment.
Then she said to her: “I appoint Khālid bin Saīd bin Al-Ās رضي الله عنه as my guardian; he is the closest of people to me.”
Najashi’ s رحمة الله عليه palace was situated on a tree-filled hill surrounded by beautiful Abyssinian gardens. In one of its spacious parlours, which was filled with splendid paintings and lit with shining copper lanterns, glorious furniture was laid out. It was here that the leading Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم who had stayed in Abyssinia gathered; at their head, among others, sat Ja’far bin Abi Ţālib, Khālid bin Saīd bin Al-Ās, Abdullāh bin Hudhāfah As-Sahmī رضي الله عنهم . They had gathered to witness the marriage of Umm Habībah bint Abi Sufyan رضي الله عنها to Rasulullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم
When all the people had gathered, Najashi presided over the gathering and addressed them:
“I praise Allah Ta’ala, Al- Qudūs, Al-Mu’min, Al-Aziz, Al-Jabār (the Holy One, the Peace-giver, the Mighty, the Overpowering Lord), and I testify that there is no deity except Allah Ta’ala and that Muhammad
is His servant and Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم, and that he is the one of whom Isa عليه السلام, the son of Maryam عليه السلام gave glad tidings.”
“Rasulullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم has requested me to perform his marriage to Umm Habībah bint Abi Sufyan رضي الله عنها. I accede to his request and I appoint her mahr in representation of him four hundred golden dinars according to the sunnah of Allah Ta’ala and His Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم
He then poured the gold coins into the hands of Khālid bin Saīd bin Al-Ās رضي الله عنه . At this point, Khālid رضي الله عنه stood up and said: “All praise is to Allah Ta’ala. I glorify Him, seek His Help and Forgiveness, and repent to him. I testify that Muhammad
is His Servant and Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم whom He has sent with the religion of guidance and truth, so that He could make the religion victorious over all others even though the disbelievers may dislike it. I accede to the request of Rasulullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم and I confirm the marriage of my charge,
Umm Habībah bint Abi Sufyan رضي الله عنها to him.
May Allah bless Rasulullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم through his wife and congratulations to Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها for the good fortune Allah has prescribed for her.”
He then picked up the money, intending to take it to her. His companions also stood up since they intended leaving with him. But Najashi رحمة الله عليه said to them: “Sit; it is the Sunnah of the Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمs to eat some food when they contract a marriage.”
He ordered that food be brought to them, so they ate then departed.
It is recorded that Umm Habībah رضي الله عنها said:
“When the money reached me, I sent fifty mithqāl of gold to Abraha and I said: “I gave you some things when you brought me the glad tidings, but I had no wealth with me in that day.”
“A little while later Abraha arrived, returned the gold to me, and took out a container in which was the jewellery I had given her. She returned that to me too, and she said: “The king has made me promise not to take anything
of gold from you, and he has commanded his wives to send you all the perfume they have.”
“The following day she brought me Wars, Ud and Ambar and said: ’I need something from you.’ I asked: ’What is it?’ She replied: ’I have accepted Islam, and I follow the religion of Muḥammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم
so convey my regards to the Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم and inform him that I believe in Allah Ta’ala and His Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم. Please do not forget to do that.’
She then prepared me for my departure.”
“I was taken to Rasulullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم . When I met him, I informed him of the incident with the proposal and my encounter with Abraha and I conveyed her salām to him. He was delighted at this news and said: “And upon her be peace, the mercy of Allah and His blessings.”
Source: A glimpse into the lives of the Ṣaḥābiyyāt رضي الله عنها