During the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (saw), Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra), a woman who was once widowed and had since remarried, was faced with a serious trial. Her husband, Hazrat Abu Talha (ra), was travelling and, during this time, their son Hazrat Abu Umair (ra) had passed away. Despite the loss, she told her family to not speak to her husband about the sad news. When her husband arrived, Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra) showed no sign of distress. Upon Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) asking how his son was doing, Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra) said the child was “better than before.” Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra) prepared dinner for him and afterwards spent the night with her husband. Later that night she asked her husband, “If some people borrow something from another family and then ask for its return, would they resist its return?” He said, “No.” Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra) then informed Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) that their son had passed away. And Allah did not ignore her sacrifice for, when Prophet Muhammad (saw) was informed of what had transpired, he said, “May Allah bless both of you in the night spent by you.” Months later, a child was born. The next morning the infant was placed in the lap of Prophet Muhammad (saw). Prophet Muhammad (saw) then softened a piece of a date in his mouth before placing it in the infant’s mouth. He then ran his hand over the child’s face and named him Abdullah (Bukhari, Muslim).
In fact, both husband and wife placed others well being before their own. They offered Hazrat Anas bin Malik (ra), Hazrat Umme Sulaim’s (ra) son from her previous marriage, as a personal servant to Prophet Muhammad (saw) when he arrived in Medina. Hazrat Anas bin Malik (ra) fulfilled this duty for 10 years (Bukhari, Bukhari). On another occasion, a guest had asked Prophet Muhammad (saw) for some food and Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) happily offered to host the guest. When he arrived home, Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra) told her husband that there only enough food to feed their children. Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) said, “Keep them busy with something, and when they ask for food put them to sleep. When the guest enters, extinguish the light and give him the impression that we are also eating.” Accordingly, after putting the children to sleep, during meal time, Hazrat Umme Sulaim (ra) pretended to fix the lamp but instead extinguished it and the couple sat down. While acting as if they were eating, the couple let their guest eat all the food while the entire family remained hungry. When Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) visited Prophet Muhammad (saw) the next morning, Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Allah admired what you did with your guest last night” (Bukhari, Muslim). One narration (Tirmidhi) states that the following verse of the Qur’an alludes to this great couple
وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ
“And they give preference over themselves even though they were in need of that” (59:9)
Therefore, a spiritually fit Muslim recognizes the lesson this blessed couple offers us all – that spiritually fit couples help each other grow in their love for Allah.
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