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Forgotten Heroines: When True Love Comes Twice

Zainab Bint Younus looks to the inspirations of the past and marvels at the many ways the heart can fall in love.

Many people are raised to believe that you live once, you die once and you only have one true love. A culture of fairy tales and happily ever afters, romcoms and romance novels has raised generations of people to believe that out there in the world is just one person who was meant to be with you – just one person with whom you will fall in love so deeply that you will never truly love anyone else besides them.

 

 

Umm Salamah (RA) proved this theory false. She had not just one love of her life, but two true loves! Umm Salamah was married to Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Asad – also known as Abu Salamah, the father of her child. Together, they were amongst the first of those who accepted Islam and made the first emigration to Abyssinia. Although they were separated on their second hijrah to Madinah, their love was strong and endured to see them reunited until Abu Salamah died of a battle wound.

 

 

Whilst on his deathbed, Umm Salamah tearfully told her husband, “if the husband of a woman dies and he is of the people of Paradise and his wife dies after him without having remarried, Allah will bring them back together in Jannah. Let us pledge that neither of us will remarry!”

 

Abu Salamah asked her, “Will you obey me in whatever I request of you?”
Fervently, Umm Salamah replied, “Of course!”

 

Abu Salamah gazed at her, his heart overflowing with love for her and told her, “If I die, swear to me that you will remarry!”
While Umm Salamah looked on in shock, he supplicated to Allah: “O Allah! Provide for Umm Salamah a man who is better than me!”

 

 

Umm Salamah spent her ‘iddah grieving for her deceased husband, her heart breaking every time she thought of his gentleness, his kindness, his courage and his patience. As she cradled her newborn daughter, she wept at the thought that Abu Salamah would never see his daughter and that there might be no man who would be willing to raise another man’s children as his own. She thought back often on his words and wondered, in anguish, “Who could be better than Abu Salamah?”

 

 

Her question was answered almost immediately: when her ‘iddah ended at the birth of her daughter, Zaynab, Rasool Allah (SAW) asked for her hand in marriage. In disbelief, Umm Salamah sent him a response: “I am an older woman, I am a jealous woman and I have children from my previous husband.”

 

 

With his characteristic tenderness, Rasool Allah (SAW) answered her fears: “I am older than you, Allah will remove jealousy from your heart and I will raise your children amongst my own.”

 

 

The hesitation in Umm Salamah’s heart and the remnants of her grief for Abu Salamah faded away, replaced with a sense of calmness and peace. Abu Salamah’s du’a had been answered and, once again, Umm Salamah experienced the wonder and beauty of true love… for the second time.

 

 

 

There are many men and women who fall in love and are devastated at its loss, whether that loss occurs through death, divorce or simply tests and trials in life that one never anticipated. The grief that one experiences can feel overwhelming and unbearable and often one wonders if they will ever be able to experience such love again. Yet, though our own concept and understanding of love is limited, Allah, al-Wadud, is not.

 

 

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Verily, the hearts of the children of Adam, all of them, are between the two fingers of the Most Merciful as one heart; He directs them wherever he wills.” (Sahih Muslim 2654)

 

 

The One who placed love in our hearts for one person is easily able to heal our broken hearts and grant us the deep joy and comfort of another love in our lives – someone whom we will love not as a replacement for the person we have lost before, but as someone who will have captured our hearts in their own unique way.

 

 

On the other hand, there is the unique situation of polygamy. It is a difficult thing for many women to understand and accept and it’s true that polygamy amongst Muslims has garnered a bad reputation with a lot of negative baggage. Even so, it is something that should be recognised – although there are many Muslim men who have done polygamy badly, there are those who have done it well and with justice. Allah (SWT) has also blessed these men with true love, not once, but twice or even several more times.

 

 

Abu Bakr (RA) is well known for being married to two great women: Umm Rumaan, the mother of A’ishah (RA), and Asma bint ‘Umays. Although he divorced his first wife, Qutaylah, who did not accept Islam, Abu Bakr cared for Umm Rumaan and Asma dearly.

 

 

When Umm Rumaan died, Rasool Allah (SAW) prayed Salat ul-Janazah over her body and lowered her into her grave saying, “Whoever wishes to see a woman from amongst the hoor of Paradise, let him look upon Umm Rumaan!” As for Asma bint ‘Umays, Abu Bakr specifically asked that she be the one to wash his body when he died.

 

 

For men and women alike, Allah’s mercy for His creation is such that He enables our hearts to be capable of so many different types of love; He has given us the ability to love, to lose and to love again. Indeed, it is through this very blessing of His, the gift of being able to love repeatedly and in so many ways, that our hearts grow closer to Him in taqwa – a love born of hope and awe. Truly, who is more deserving of our love than Al-Wadud?

 

 

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them and He placed between you love and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (Ar-Room:21)

 

 

 

READ MORE:

The Heart Goes On

Umm Haani had always assumed that Allah’s attribute as ‘Controller of the Hearts’ was related to matters of faith only. She had no idea it encompassed affairs of the heart as well.

 

 

 

 

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at http://www.thesalafifeminist.blogspot.com.