Ramlah, known as Umm Habibah (R.A), was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, one of the most powerful chieftains in Makkah Mukarramah. Her mother, Safiyyah bint Abdul ‘Aas, was the real paternal aunt of Uthmaan bin Affan (R.A). Being the daughter of a prominent merchant and leader of her people, Umm Habibah enjoyed a very easy and comfortable life.
Abu Sufyan is quoted to have said about Umm Habibah (R.A): “In my house is present the most beautiful lady in Arabia.”
Ramlah (R.A) was first married to Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh, the brother of Zaynab bint Jahsh, the wife of Rasoolullah (S.A.W). They were amongst the first people who accepted Islam when the Arabs persecuted those who converted. They and others like them had to suffer because of Quraish’s cruel behaviour and to avoid that many Muslims migrated to Abyssinia to escape the harsh behaviour. In Abyssinia, Ramlah (R.A) gave birth to her first child, Habibah. After some time, her husband renounced Islam and adopted Christianity. Although he tried to persuade Ramlah (R.A) to do the same, she remained a Muslim. Eventually, Ubaydullah started leading a free and licentious life, giving himself up to heavy drinking, as a result of which he soon died.
At the end of her Iddat, Muhammad (SAW) sent a proposal of marriage to Ramlah through Negus, the ruler of Abyssinia. She accepted the proposal excitedly, and the nikaah took place in Abyssinia, without the presence of Nabi (S.A.W). Khalid ibn Said was chosen as her Wali. At this time, Ramlah (R.A) was about 36 years old, and the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W), 60.
Once, her father Abu Sufyan, who had not yet accepted Islam at that time, went to visit his daughter in Madinah Munawwarah. Umm Habibah (R.A) was surprised to see her father but was silent. Abu Sufyan thought that because of her surprise, she did not invite him in. He stepped into the house and was about to sit on the Nabi (S.A.W)’s bedding when Umm Habibah folded the bedclothes quickly.
This puzzled him somewhat, so he asked her to explain. “Did you fold the bedspread away from me? Is it because l am not fit for it or because it is not fit for me?”
She answered him confidently, “It is the bed of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) and you are nothing but an impure idolater.”
Abu Sufyan was startled to hear his daughter speak in such a manner when he, a man of great status, was sure that all the Arab households dreamed to receive him as a guest and place under him the most luxurious cushions.
He shouted at her, “You have been afflicted by evil after me!”
Umm Habibah immediately retorted, “No, I have rather been blessed with all goodness.”
Sixty-five Ahadith are narrated by her. It is noteworthy that amongst all the wives of Nabi (S.A.W), Umm Habibah (S.A.W) suffered a lot for the sake of Islam. She was a great beauty of her day, yet she gladly underwent all the troubles and ordeals for the sake of her faith. She endured the pain of being away from Makkah Mukarramah, her hometown and the difficulty of life in a strange land with poverty. Even when Umm Habibah (R.A)’s husband deserted and left her forlorn in a foreign land, she still remained patient and true to Islam.
Umm Habibah (R.A) passed away at the age of 73, during the reign of her brother, Amir Muawiyya.
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Love and Duas,