Tahreek: Umm Sulaym & Zayd bn Sahl


This is a story of two companions of the prophet, a wife and her husband, both from the Ansar[5]. It is a story of faith, trust, devotion, submission, worship, intelligence, courage, patience, hospitality, generosity, bravery, high level skill and high quality memory.


Fact Box

Names[6] 1.    Ghumaysah bint Malhan

2.    Rumaysah bint Malhan

1.      الغميصاء بنت ملحان

2.      الرميصاء بنت ملحان

Popular name Umm Sulaym Al-Ansariyyah

أم سليم الأنصارية

Husbands 1.    Malik bun Nadr

2.    Zayd bun Sahl

1.      مالك بن النضر

2.      زيد بن سهل

Sons 1.    Anas bn Malik

2.    Al-Bara’a bn Malik

3.    Abdullah bn Zayd

1.      أنس بن مالك

2.      البراء بن مالك


Her Islam

She embraced Islam while her first husband, Malik bn Nadr was a pagan. She met the worst of treatment at his hand to make her revert to paganism but she stood firmly on the truth. She was so convinced about Islam that she persuaded her young son Anas bun Malik until he did. She entrusted him under the care of the prophet to learn and master the religion, Anas remained under the care of the prophet until the prophet died.

Her bravery at Hunayn

The battle of Hunayn was fought to defend the victory of Islam. Battles are a responsibility only for the Muslim men, some women only follow to provide water and medical attention, but Umm Sulaym followed the Muslim army to the battle with a strong stick like one prepared for fighting. Her new Muslim husband, Abu Talha called the attention of the prophet to this strange observation and when asked, she replied: I have prepared this for my self-defense in case a pagan fighter should attack me while the men were busy on the battle field.

Lesson: (1) A Muslim must be intelligent, wise, far-sighted and proactive. Umm Sulaym was intelligent enough to think ahead of situation; the battle of Hunayn was a revenge from the tribes of Arabia to reclaim the central city of Makkah, it was likely to be fierce, men will be too occupied and insufficient, the few men reserved to protect the women may be required to join in on the battle field; even though she was not skilled in swordsmanship, she prepared a strong and sharp stick to resist ambush. (2) The strong are responsible to protect the weak, however, a Muslim should not be reckless and constitute unnecessary burden to his guardian on minor issues that can be managed by self.

Marriage to Abu Talha

After the death of Malik who never accepted Islam. Zayd bn Sahl who was yet to be a Muslim approached Umm Sulaym for marriage, Zayd bun Sahl well known as Abu Talha was a responsible man of noble character seeking for a compatible partner like Ummu Sulaym. She replied the offer can only be granted when he became a Muslim. Abu Talha wondered why Islam was so important to her, he studied the religion, realized the truth, and he became a Muslim. When he returned to her, she was pleased and accepted his Islam as the only dowry for the marriage.

Lesson: Peace, trust and mutual understanding are major ingredients for secured and sustainable marriage. These ingredients are part of Islam best practices.

Her love for the prophet

Her appreciation of Islam was evident in her love for the messenger of Allah. She often prepared gifts and took to the prophet. The prophet recognized her love for Islam and he along with some of his companions will visit her home more than he had done for other women. She offered the warmest welcome and gave the best visitor’s treat to the prophet.

Lesson: Good people will reciprocate any good extended to them. Show your love in practice.

Child training and upbringing

Soon after the prophet arrived Madinah, she took her son Anas bn Malik to him. She had taught him some basics of Islam but still wanted him to live under the care of the prophet for the best practical demonstration.

Lesson: Seek the best Islamic upbringing for your child for better prosperity.

The death of her child

One of the best demonstrations of her trust in Allah and ability to manage difficult emotional situations was the day her child died. Her husband Abu Talha who was the father of the child returned home and she never informed him until in the midnight after they had sexual intimacy. She asked him if it will be proper for a keeper to be reluctant and not want to return the trust to its original owner when the owner wants it back, he replied: that will not be a proper attitude. She informed him of what has happened. Abu Talha was shocked at her forbearance and when he narrated the situation to the prophet in the morning, he asked him: did you have sexual intimacy last night? He replied in the affirmative and the prophet prayed: May Allah put His blessing in it. That intimacy yielded another child and was named Abdullah. Abdullah gave birth to seven children all of whom were memorizers of the Qur’an.

Lesson: If we should trust in the decree of Allah, our mind will find rest and Allah will give what is better in return.

Her love for the Sunnah

She narrated not less than 14 hadiths from the prophet, 3 was in the two sahih[7] and 11 others in other books of hadith. Narrations that met the stringent conditions of the sahihs must have been narrated by a companion with high memory who was very keen to preserve the sunnah.

Lesson: Preserve what you love in whatever way suitable and necessary. Transmitting the sunnah to later generation was one of the ways to preserve it.

Her death

She died 40 years after the hijrah, during the reign of Mu’awiyah.


Fact Box

Name Zayd bn Sahl
Notable name Abu Talha
Hijrah affiliation Ansar
  1. Humility and submission: He accepted Islam when he wanted to marry Umm Sulaym Al-Ansary as earlier stated. He realized the truth of Islam joined his people to meet the prophet at Aqabah to give the pledge.
  2. A skillful Muslim: He had been a skillful archer and a brave man before he accepted Islam. After he became a Muslim, his strengths were used in the support of Islam.
  3. A notable person: He was among the 12 men from Madinah that met with the prophet to give their pledge at Aqabah.
  4. A courageous man: He participated in the battle of Badr. He used his bravery and courage into defend the rights of the Muslims
  5. A generous Muslim: Generosity is a part of requirements to become righteous[8]. He was known for his generosity.
  6. A wise investor: He was wealthy and humble; he loved reward from Allah more than the materials of the world. On a day, he was in his plantation when the time of solat reached, while standing in prayer under the shade of a tree he saw a very colourful and beautiful bird on top of a tree, he got carried away looking at this bird until he was confused about the number of rakats he had observed, he only managed to finish the solat. Sad on how he had focused much on the beauty of life more than the hereafter, he gave the whole plantation in charity. This was done that perhaps when his wealth reduced from affluence to moderate, he could focus more preparing for the lasting hereafter. However, the most authentic narration about this generous donation was due to a verse of the Qur’an which he wished to implement: You cannot attain righteousness until you spend from what you love”[9]. He considered this plantation as the most beloved to him, so he sacrificed it in charity.
  7. Devotion in affluence: Fasting is an act of devotion which is rare for people with abundant wealth. Abu Talha was known to fast a lot except for days which fasting was been prohibited.
  8. An Intelligent Muslim always seeking the best: He was known for his intellectual ability to link worldly situations and events to verses of the Qur’an. He had became old and weak when the Muslim army was about to go out for a battle with the disbelievers, the army advised him to stay behind because he was among the exempted in the Qur’an due to weakness of old age, but he reminded them of another verse to justify his decision.

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لا نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا إِلا وُسْعَهَا أُولَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

But those who believed and did righteous deeds – We charge no soul except [within] its capacity. Those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein forever.[10]


انْفِرُوا خِفَافًا وَثِقَالا وَجَاهِدُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah. That is better for you, if you only knew.[11]


His death: According to a report, he died in the midst of some other companions in a boat while sailing on the ocean. Miraculously, his dead body remained in the boat for seven days unchanged before they could find land to bury him. He died during the reign of Uthman ibn Affaan. May Allah be pleased with a noble companion of courage, generosity and intelligence. Amin.

[1] Surat-ul-Zukhruf 77

[2] Misguidance is the consequence of disbelief.

[3] The people of the book (i.e. Jews and Christians) as the “assumed” believers, the Muslims as the “true” believers.

[4] Guidance is the fruit of belief.

[5] Ansar: The Muslims of Madinah who welcomed and supported the emigrants from Makkah on the hijrah

[6] Both names was used for her in history interchangeably.

[7] The most authentic hadith books of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim

[8] Surat-ul-Imraan 92

[9] Surat-ul-Imraan 92

[10] Surat-ul-A’raf 42

[11] Surat-ul-Tawbah 41

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