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Hadith 24: (The Patience of Umm Sulaym and Abu Talha)

Under category : Ponder on a Hadith
5064 2021/09/13 2024/04/14
Article translated to : العربية Español

Narrated Bukhari and Muslim from Anas bin Malek, may Allah be pleased with him: 

Abu Talha had a child who was sick. [Abu Talhah was very upset and distressed by the child’s sickness.] Once, while Abu Talha was out, the child died. [Umm Sulaym (the mother) washed the child, enshrouded him and laid him down. She said to the people in the house, “Do not tell his father that he died before I tell him.”] When Abu Talha returned home [along with some of his friends from the mosque], he asked, "How is my child" Umm Sulaym replied, "He is quieter than he has ever been." [Her husband took it to mean that the child’s condition had improved.] She brought the meal and they all ate dinner, [then the guests left.] [She got up and put on perfume and adorned herself,] [making herself more beautiful than she ever had before.] He slept with her, when he finished [they slept and when it was morning, he did ghusl (full ablution) and was heading to leave, so she said to him] [“O Abu Talhah, do you think that if some people lent something to some others, then they asked for it back, do they have the right not to give it back?” He said, “No.”] [They should return it to them] [She said, “Allah Almighty, lent your son to you, and now He has taken him back, so seek reward with Him and have patience.”] She said: "Bury the child (as he's dead)." [He became angry and said, “You left me until I did what I did (i.e., had intercourse), then you tell me that my son has died!”] [Then he said, “Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon (Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return) and praised Allah.] In the morning Abu Talha came to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and told him about that. The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), "Did you sleep with your wife last night?" Abu Talha said, "Yes". The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "O Allah! Bestow your blessing on them as regards that night of theirs." Umm Sulaym gave birth to a boy. Abu Talha told me to take care of the child till it was taken to the Prophet. Then Abu Talha took the child to the Prophet (ﷺ) [he found him smearing some camels with tar to protect them from diseases, or marking them] and Umm Sulaym sent some dates along with the child. The Prophet (ﷺ) took the child (on his lap) and asked if there was something with him. The people replied, "Yes, a few dates." The Prophet took a date, chewed it, took some of it out of his mouth, put it into the child's mouth and did Tahnik for him with that, and named him 'Abdullah. [There was no young man better than him among al-Ansar]

(Combined narration from several sources, Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tayalisi, Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Ibn Haban)


Values on Patience:

1. The human soul has to feel sad upon losing loved ones, it is a human instinct and no one has the ability to prevent this feeling from happening, but it can be controlled by adhering to Allah’s laws, patience and submission to Allah’s decree.

2. Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, preferring to follow what Allah recommends such as patience, will be rewarded with something better than what he lost.

3. We should be kind and gentle by setting an example to prepare the person to receive bad or saddening news.

4. The person gets rewarded for the patience he shows as soon as the calamity strikes, Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“Patience is to be shown at first blow.”

5. When calamities and tribulations befall us, we should praise Allah and say Inna Lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return). 

6. Patience and acceptance of a painful decree, the reward is as much as the tribulation. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,

"A Muslim, male or female, continues to remain under trial in respect of his life, property and offspring until he faces Allah, the Exalted, with no sin record".

7. Comforting the afflicted person, if he loses his child, with a story can be a consolation and support to him.

8. It is permissible to express pain and ask about the patient’s condition, this does not contradict patience and acceptance of Allah’s decree. Allah’s Messenger expressed his pain when he once had a headache and said: “O my head.”

Values on Tahnik:

1. It is to take some dates, or any sweet substance such as honey or fruits, and chewing them till they become soft and then rubbing the palate of the newborn with it after he/she is born and prior to breastfeeding.

2. Tahnik is a custom which was known prior to Islam, and according to the consensus of scholars, tahnik is a sunnah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did. Some scholars said it is an exclusive Prophetic tradition but that is a weak opinion.

3. It has medical values such as urging the child with a sugary substance to accustom the mouth muscles to suck.

4. When the Prophet does tahnik to a newborn, two things are combined in the process, the tahnik and being blessed with his saliva which is something exclusive to the Prophet, peace be upon him.

5. Anyone can do tahnik to a newborn when he is just born, if the time passes, then it is not prescribed and there is no medical benefit from it.

Fiqh Values:

1. Hastening to wash, shroud and bury the deceased as soon as possible.

2. Bukhari listed the hadith under Chapter: “Whoever shows no signs of grief and sorrow on the falling of a calamity.” 

3. It is permissible to hint or make an allusion in order to avoid lying, such as when Umm Sulaym said to her husband when he asked about his son: “He is quieter than he has ever been.” She meant that the boy died, but she used words from which it could be understood that he is asleep, while she meant his death. 

4. It is prohibited to use this method of allusion in case it is used to invalidate a certain right or vice versa.

5. It is permissible to hide any news about death if it is necessary, and reveal the news in the appropriate time.

6. The woman may put perfume and beautify herself for her husband, even if someone very close to her died. On the contrary, if her husband dies she should mourn him and not to put perfume for four months and ten days.

7. “They slept and when it was morning, he did ghusl (full ablution)”: This indicates that it is permissible to postpone ghusl till the time of performing prayers. 

8. It is recommended to name the newborn with a beautiful name, the most beautiful names are Abdullah and Abdul Rahman. Muslim narrated that Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: "The most beloved of names to Allah are 'Abdullah and 'Abdur-Rahman."

9. It is permissible to name the newborn the first day he was born, it is not necessary to name him on the seventh day, i.e. the time of Aqiqa. It is also permissible to choose the name before the birth.

About Umm Sulaym:

1. Her strength is quite obvious, she was able to wash her child and shroud him on her own. She also kept her household calm at such a hard time.

2. She was pleased with Allah’s decree even though she is afflicted. She accepted Allah’s decree with contentment and patience and she did not scream or cry.

3. She was very patient and enduring, even though her child died she made supper for her husband and guests, she also beautified herself for her husband, putting on perfume and making herself beautiful than she ever had before. She did not tell him about the passing of the child till it was morning.

4. She was very steadfast, wise and determined, Umm Sulaym used to witness battles, serve the fighters and doing other things that were unique in comparison to the rest of women.

5. She was very cautious to be honest in what she is saying, and used the method of allusion to avoid lying.

6. Umm Sulaym is very generous, she did not object when her husband brought some guests even though her child is ill, and she prepared food for them.

7. The metaphor Umm Sulaym mentioned to her husband about the loan and right to get it back reveals her strong faith and belief that the soul is a trust and we will all return to Allah Almighty.

Generic Values:

1. Children are the apple of their parents’ eyes and adornment of the worldly life.

2. The hadith explains some of the Prophet’s saying: “children can make a man sorrowful, coward, ignorant and miser.”

3. A man can be broken for the sake of his children because of their illness, especially the youngest, which shows great mercy and compassion. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The merciful are shown mercy by Ar-Rahman….”

4. The innate mercy of the father towards his children: The first thing that Abu Talha did when he came home was to ask about his child.

5. The husband has the right to find food ready after a long day of hard work.

6. The illness of a family member should not prevent a man from performing the congregational prayer, as long as there is someone taking care of the sick person.

7. The generosity of Abu Talha, may Allah be pleased with him, as he brought guests home and he did not apologize to them even though his son was very ill, in compliance with the hadith: “O people, extend greetings (saying Salam to each other), keep relations with your kin, provide food (to people) and pray at night when people are asleep and you will enter Paradise in peace.”

8. There is nothing wrong with a woman who hints to her husband to sleep with her by beautifying herself, even if he did not show the need at the beginning, and that does not diminish the status of the woman.

9. Using metaphors instead of direct words to express explicit things that we may feel shy about such as the Arabic phrase “Asab menha” which indicates that he slept with her, and also the Qur’anic verse:

“…you have contacted women [i.e., had sexual intercourse]”

(An-Nisa’: 43)

10. It was the tradition of the people of Medina to do “tahnik” to the newborn.

11. The Prophet said “O Allah! Bestow your blessing on them…” The Prophet’s supplication was answered, and Abu Talha, Umm Sulaym, her son and their grandsons were all blessed.

12. The blessing of tahnik by the Prophet, peace be upon him, using dates mixed with the Prophet’s saliva.

13. Abdullah bin Abi Talha, the newborn whom the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prayed for his parents to be blessed, and did tahnik to him when he was born, is the father of Ishaq bin Abdullah bin Abi Talha, the scholar of Fiqh. He had ten brothers all of them received knowledge from him. Ishaq, the son of Abdullah, is the teacher of Imam Malik, the author of al-Muwata’.

14. The Shariah pays attention to children starting from birth, whether physically or psychologically.

15. Choosing a righteous wife is essential, Umm Sulaym supported her husband and asked him to praise Allah and say “Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon (Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.

16. The humility of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as he smeared the camels by himself, even though he was the ruler of Muslims and the Seal of Prophets. He did not assign anyone to do this task and did it himself.

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