Sunday, May 24, 2009

Serving the interests of the community

Serving the interests of the community

Among all the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Umm Salamah was perhaps the one who was most sensitive to the interests of the community. She shared the hopes and the difficulties of her fellow Muslims at both the individual and the community levels. We saw how she expressed their feelings to the Prophet when the Muslims were told that they could not go into Makkah for their worship rituals and had to return home. Her advice to the Prophet on that day took away all the strain and ensured their compliance with his orders.

After the Tabuk expedition a few Muslims who did not join the Muslim army tied themselves up in the mosque, as a sign of repentance. They were untied when it was time for prayer, and then they tied themselves up again when the obligatory prayer had finished. They were uncertain what judgment was to be made in their cases. Their self-imposed restraint was a gesture of their repentance. One of them was Abu Lubabah.

As the Prophet was at Umm Salamah’s home one night, just before the dawn prayer, he received revelations that included the Verse that says: “There are others who have acknowledged their sins, after having mixed righteous deeds with evil ones. It may well be that God will accept their repentance. God is Much-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.” (9: 102)

The Prophet smiled and Umm Salamah asked him why he smiled. He said: “God has accepted Abu Lubabah’s repentance.” She asked him: “May I be the one who gives him the good news?”

She opened her door and looked inside the mosque. She said: “Abu Lubabah! Rejoice, for God has accepted your repentance.” Some people rushed to release him, but he refused, saying that he would beg them not to do so, for he wanted the Prophet to release him. We see how she was so pleased for someone who was totally unrelated to her. She shared his joy at the happy news.

Many years later, when the Muslim community went through the very difficult days that saw the assassination of the third Caliph, Uthman, and a serious split in community, another wife of the Prophet, Ayesha, was about to leave Madinah, marching at the head of an army that sought to gather support for their stand.

Umm Salamah objected to this attitude. She went to Ayesha and counseled her against going. She said it was wrong for a widow of the Prophet to embark on such a course of action.

As for her own position in those days, she was totally supportive of Ali, the fourth Caliph. She went to him and said: “I would have joined your army, but I know that such an action would be in disobedience of God’s orders and I believe you would not accept it from me. However, this is my son, Omar. He is dearer to me than my own life. He will join you and will fight for your cause.”

Her position then was characteristic of her great insight that enabled her to gauge what best served the interests of the Muslim community.

Umm Salamah lived long after the Prophet. In fact, she was the last of the Prophet’s wives to die. Her death took place in year 61, and she was buried at Al-Baqee, the burial place of many of the Prophet’s companions in Madinah.

By: Adil Salahi

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