Umm Salamah, a widow, was a woman who combined beauty with character, noble birth and a wealth of experience. Her deceased husband was one of the early converts to the new faith when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) began preaching his message in secret. Being a woman of sagacious mind, she joined him in declaring her belief in Islam, realizing that idolatry is an absurdity, which defies human logic. Her father was a man who earned great honor in his own right. He was given the nickname Zad Al-Rakb, which means the “provider for all travelers.” When he went on a trip, he would not allow anyone who joined his caravan to take any food with him. He provided all the food necessary for them all. His generosity and hospitality was of the highest order.

Such a woman would not stay unmarried for long. The fact that she had four children, one of them was still newly born, was no hindrance in the Arabian society, which accepted polygamy as normal. Hence, when her waiting period of four months and ten days was over, a succession of suitors sent their proposals. These included Abu Bakr and Umar, but Umm Salamah, or Hind, to use her original name, politely and gently rejected them all. She had lost a husband of great character, whom she dearly loved.

She reports that her husband had told her of a Hadith he heard the Prophet stating: “Whoever meets a misfortune should resort to what God has ordered in such cases, saying, ‘We all belong to God and to Him we all return. My Lord! Grant me support in my misfortune and compensate me with something better.’ If he does so, God will certainly give him support and is sure to give him better compensation.” Continuing her report, she said: “When my husband died, I frequently said this prayer. Then I thought who could be better for me than Abu Salamah? Yet I hoped that God would give me support to bear my loss.” (Related by Muslim).

A different report mentions that before his death, her husband said this prayer: “My Lord! When I have died, give Umm Salamah a man who is better than me, who would take care of her and give her nothing to upset her or cause her grief.” When her husband died she wondered who could be better than him.

Yet this is exactly what happened to Hind bint Abu Umayyah ibn Al-Mugheerah, who is better known as Umm Salamah. After rejecting a succession of suitors, she received an offer of marriage no Muslim woman could refuse. It was the Prophet who wanted her to join his household as a new wife. Recognizing the great honor such a marriage would give her, she was delighted. Yet at the same time she felt reluctant. She sent him word saying: “I am too jealous, and old, and I am mother of several children.” It was an answer that meant no refusal, but provided grounds for the Prophet not to proceed with his proposal. The Prophet sent her a kind reply saying: “God may take away your jealousy. As for your age, I am older than you. And you may entrust your children to God and His messenger.”

Who could take better care of any widow’s children than God? Who could be a better stepfather than God’s messenger? Hence, the marriage was soon celebrated and Umm Salamah realized that God had compensated her with a husband who was much better than her first husband, great indeed as Abu Salamah was.

– By Adil Salahi