Umm Selama - A Lady in Distress
Lady Knights

Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…

Called Mecca where Abu Selama had decided he could take no more of the tormenting and abuse that the Qurashis were cruelly doling out to any and all Muslims. So he and his wife, Umm Selama, packed up their meager possessions and prepared to go to Al-Medina, where many Muslims had gone seeking sanctuary and a safe, peaceful life.

When Umm Selama was astride the family's camel, Abu Selama carefully handed up to her their small son, Selama. With a hopeful heart, Abu Selama caught hold of the camel's bridle and began to lead it and his small family to a new life.

Unfortunately, as they were leaving Mecca, they passed by the area in which Bani Al-Mugheera, Umm Selama's tribe, lived. When the tribesmen saw them, they ran forward and caught hold of the camel. "That is our daughter," the men cried indicating Umm Selama, "We will not allow you to take her and go wandering in the desert with her!"

Whereupon the men unceremoniously snatched the reins away from Abu Selama and took charge of the camel which Umm Selama rode. The camel snorted his disapproval and danced in place at the rough treatment he received. Startled by the camel antics, little Selama clung to his mother and looked around with wide frightened eyes at the rough men with the angry voices.

Abu Selama and Umm Selama tried to reason with the tribesmen but they would not be pacified. They insisted that Abu Selama did not have the right to drag their kinswoman off into the unknown.

Just then, some men from Banu Abd Al-Asad, Abu Selama's tribe, happened by and when they saw him and heard the commotion, they hurried forward.

"If you are taking the woman from our kinsman," they cried when they grasped the situation, "then you have no right to keep the boy! He is our kin!" Whereupon the newcomers roughly tore the frightened child from his mother's protective arms.

The men of Bani Al-Mugheera were incensed when they saw this. They surged forward and caught hold of Selama. Then the two groups, each holding one of the boy's arms, pulled the child back and forth as he wept and his frantic parents tried to rescue him from the angry mob.

Finally, with a mighty tug, the men of Bani Al-Mugheera dislocated the child's arm. Horrified by what they had done, and startled by Selama's agonized shriek, the Bani Al-Mugheera men released their hold on the boy. Triumphant, the men of Banu Abd Al-Asad turned and walked off carrying the hurt and screaming child away.

Angered by their defeat, the men of Bani Al-Mugheera caught hold of Umm Selama again and callously dragged her away as she sobbed and reached out vainly for her husband and son.

Shocked and horrified, Abu Selama stood in the road casting stunned glances between his screaming son being born away by the men of his tribe and his sobbing wife being dragged off by the men of her tribe. How had this happened?! How had their family been torn apart so suddenly and so senselessly?!

After a great deal of talking back and forth, Abu Selama failed to retrieve either his son or his wife. With his family gone and his home echoing with emptiness, Abu Selama decided to go ahead to Al-Medina and try to arrange a place for himself and his family. When he was ready, he would return to Mecca and he would get his family back!

Alone and bewildered, Umm Selama found herself sinking into a deep well of depression. She spent every day, from dawn to dusk, weeping outside in the courtyard of her tribes' homes. She would not let the men think that what they had done was right or honorable. They had torn her family apart and she would publicly shame them with her pain and her tears.

After a full year of endless weeping, one of her cousins passed by and caught sight of her for the first time. Seeing her distress and sorrow he felt a great wave of indignation sweep through him. Why was she sitting out there alone and weeping? Why was everyone ignoring her and averting their eyes from her? When he heard her story, he was filled with pity for his wronged cousin and he promised to do what he could on her behalf.

Umm Selama's cousin went and confronted the men of his tribe and convinced them that they had done Umm Selama a great injustice. So after days of arguing and discord, Umm Selama was provided with a camel and allowed to leave.

Uplifted by her newfound freedom, Umm Selama went to her husband's tribe and informed them that she was going to join Abu Selama in Al-Medina and that she wanted to take Selama with her. To her surprise, they simply turned her son over to her without comment or apology.

The men of Banu Abd Al-Asad had only taken Selama and kept him due to wounded pride and to spite the men of Bani Al-Mugheera. Now that Umm Selama was free to join her husband, the boy was of no use to Banu Abd Al-Asad and they were happy to be rid of him.

When Umm Selama held her son in her arms, after a year of worry and heartsickness, the feeling's that washed through her were hard to describe. Joy, guilt, elation, sorrow, gratitude, resentment, but most of all hope. Yes, hope. Soon, they would all three be reunited in Al-Medina. Soon they would have peace and no one, no one, would ever come between her and those she loved ever again.

Usually, the journey to Al-Medina would not be attempted by only two people. It took months of travel through terribly inhospitable wilds to get there and a woman and her small son had very little chance of reaching Al-Medina alive. But after the events of the last year, Umm Selama would not risk staying in Mecca long so she set with her son hoping for the best.

Not far outside Mecca, the mother and son came across a stranger. His name was Uthman bin Talha and he was stunned to find a young woman carrying a sleeping child travelling alone through the desert.

"Where are you going, daughter of Abi Umayyah?" he asked cordially, recognizing the daughter of a man made famous for his generosity.

With a determined tilt to her chin and a great deal of worry in her heart, Umm Selama replied, "I am going to join my husband in Al-Medina."

Surprised, Uthman politely asked, "You have no one with you?"

"There is no with me except God, and my son." Umm Selama serenely replied.

"By God," the wryly amused man said, "You cannot go on alone!"

Uthman bin Talha then stepped up and caught hold of the camel's bridle and promised to see Umm Selama safely to Al-Medina.

Umm Selama could not help but feel a great deal of wonder and gratitude towards this unexpected travelling companion. Instead of seeing a woman and small child as easy prey, this stranger had seen them as a self-imposed responsibility. What's more, he did not feel responsible for them and show it by attempting to force Umm Selama to return to Mecca, as though she were a stray lamb. Instead, his sense of responsibility made him set aside his own concerns and decide to travel to a distant city for the sake of two complete strangers.

As they traveled, Umm Selama's new travelling companion treated her with the utmost respect and courtesy. Whenever they stopped for rest, Uthman bin Talha would make the camel kneel, then he would respectfully step away and allow Umm Selama to dismount in privacy. Then he would return and care for the camel.

When they were ready to continue their journey, he would prepare the camel then give Umm Selama the privacy she needed to climb onto the back of the ungainly creature. He would then return, take the camel by its bridle and tirelessly walk on.

When they reached the village of Bani Amr bin Ouf, a small village outside of Al-Medina, Uthman bin Talha turned to the woman he had guided and guarded so respectfully through the desert.

"Your husband is staying in this village," the stoic man said simply, then turned and began his long journey back to Mecca. He waited for neither thanks nor any offers of reward, he simply walked away. Now that he had fulfilled his duty as he saw it, it was time for him to return home.

Umm Selama cast a deeply grateful look at Uthman bin Talha's steadily retreating form, then she turned the camel and urged it on to greater speed towards the center of the village. Abu Selama was close, Umm Selama thought as her exhaustion drained away and was replaced with a humming feeling of hope, soon their shattered family would be whole once again.

*Written by © 2012. Care to read or leave Comments?

  1. Names, Translations and Aliases:
    • Abu Selama aka Abdullah bin Abd Al-Asad: عبدالله بن عبدالأسد بن هلال بن عبدالله بن عمر بن مخزوم.
    • Selama bin Abi Selama: سلمة بن عبدالله بن عبدالأسد بن هلال بن عبدالله بن عمر بن مخزوم.
    • Umm Selama aka Hind bint Umayyah: أم المؤمنين السيدة أم سلمة هند بنت أبي أُمية بن المغيرة بن عبدالله بن عمر بن مخزوم رضي الله عنها.
    • Uthman bin Talha: عثمان بن طلحة بن أبي طلحة.

  1. Al-Dimishqi, A. (2009 AD, 1430 H). البداية و النهاية [The Beginning and the End]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya Publishing and Distributing. Volume I. Book 2. Page 444.
  2. Abd Al-Rahman, Aisha. (2007 AD, 1428 H). تراجم سيدات بيت النبوة [Biographies of the Ladies of the Prophet's House]. Cairo: Dar Al-Hadith. Page 248-249.

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