Islam Was Her Dowry
Why is it so important for a Muslim to marry only another Muslim?
The Holy Quran says in 2:221, “Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you.”
Umm Sulaym is one of the greatest women in Islam. She is the mother of Anas Ibn Malik, who narrated a large number of Hadiths from the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah. Even the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah honored her.
Anas reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) did not enter the house of any woman except that of his wives and that of Umm Sulaym. He used to visit her. It was said to him why it was so, whereupon he said: I feel great compassion for her. Her brother was killed while he was with me.[Sahih Mualim Bk 31, Number 6010]
Umm Sulaym was one of the first women of Yathrib to accept Islam. She was influenced by the refined, dedicated and persuasive Musab ibn Umayr who was sent out as the first missionary or ambassador of Islam by the noble Prophet.
Umm Sulaym’s decision to accept Islam was made without the knowledge or consent of her husband, Malik ibn an-Nadr. Malik was not pleased especially when his wife went on to announce her acceptance of Islam in public and instruct her son Anas in the teachings and practice of the new faith. She taught him to say la ilaha ilia Allah and Ash hadu anna Muhammada-r Rasulullah. The young Anas repeated this simple but profound declaration of faith clearly and emphatically.
Her husband then left the house and it is reported that he was set upon by an enemy of his and was killed. The news shocked but apparently did not upset Umm Sulaym greatly. She remained devoted to her son Anas and was concerned about his. proper upbringing. She is even reported to have said that she would not marry again unless Anas approved.
When it was known that Umm Sulaym had become a widow, one man, Zayd ibn Sahl, known as Abu Talhah, resolved to become engaged to her before anyone else did.
Abu Talhah proceeded to Umm Sulaym’s house. On the way he recalled that she had been influenced by the preaching of Musab ibn Umayr and had become a Muslim.
“So what?” he said to himself. “Was not her husband who died a firm adherent of the old religion and was he not opposed to Muhammad and his mission?”
Abu Talhah reached Umm Sulaym’s house. He asked and was given permission to enter. Her son Anas was present. Abu Talhah explained why he had come and asked for her hand in marriage.
“A man like you, Abu Talhah,” she said, “is not (easily) turned away. But I shall never marry you while you are a kafir, an unbeliever.”
Abu Talhah thought she was trying to put him off and that perhaps she had already preferred someone wealthier and more influential. He said to her: “What is it that really prevents you from accepting me, Umm Sulaym? Is it the yellow and the white metals (gold and silver)?”
“Gold and silver?” she asked somewhat taken aback and in a slightly censuring tone. “Yes,” he said. “I swear to you, Abu Talhah, and I swear to God and His Messenger that if you accept Islam, I shall be pleased to accept you as a husband, without any gold or silver. I shall consider your acceptance of Islam as my mahr.”
Abu Talhah understood well the implications of her words. His mind turned to the idol he had made from wood and on which he lavished great attention in the same way that important men of his tribe venerated and cared for their personal idols.
The opportunity was right for Umm Sulaym to stress the futility of such idol worship and she went on: “Don’t you know Abu Talhah, that the god you worship besides Allah grew from the earth?”
“That’s true,” he said.
“Don’t you feel stupid while worshipping part of a tree while you use the rest of it for fuel to bake bread or warm yourself? (If you should give up these foolish beliefs and practices) and become a Muslim, Abu Talhah, I shall be pleased to accept you as a husband and I would not want from you any sadaqah apart from your acceptance of Islam.”
“Who shall instruct me in Islam?” asked Abu Talhah.
“I shall,” Umm Sulaym replied.
“Utter the declaration of truth and testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Then go to your house, destroy your idol and throw it away.”
Abu Talhah left and reflected deeply on what Umm Sulaym had said. He came back to her beaming with happiness.
“I have taken your advice to heart. I declare that there is no god but Allah and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
Umm Sulaym and Abu Talhah were married. Anas, her son, was pleased and the Muslims would say: “We have never yet heard of a mahr that was more valuable and precious than that of Umm Sulaym for she made Islam her mahr.”
Such great women in Islam are, from whom Muslim women may learn purity of faith, strength of character, soundness of belief and wisdom in selecting a husband.
[Source : Companions of The Prophet – AbdulWahid Hamid]