The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once said:
‘From among my Ummah (followers) an army will sail on the sea as a king sits on his throne.’
Umm Hiram asked him if she would be one among them. He answered that she would be one of the foremost among them.
Umm Hiram came from a noble family. Her sister was the mother of Anas bin Malik. Her two brothers, Hiram bin Milhan and Salim bin Milhan, took part in the Battles of Badr and Uhud. She was also related by marriage to Abu Talhah, another distinguished Companion. Her husband was ‘Amr bin Quays bin Zayd, and her son was Quays bin ‘Amr bin Quays – these were two eminent Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who were martyred at the Battle of Badr. After her husband’s death she married ‘Ubadah bin Samit, a distinguished General of the Muslim army. She had a son by this marriage, Muhammad bin ‘Ubadah bin Samit.
Generosity, benevolence and the spirit of sacrifice were an innate part of this noble lady’s nature. Her ambition was to be martyred in the cause of Islam, and in pursuit of this consuming desire she left no stone unturned. She lived on the outskirts of Al-Madinah, in the small town of Quba.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) migrated to Al-Madinah, he stopped at Quba to rest before proceeding. She was the first among the Ansar woman to not only accept Islam, but also announce it; and she did so before the migration of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Umm Hiram was a very wise and balanced person, God fearing just and pious. She held a very high position among the women of the Ansar. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would often visit her house and rest there if he was tired. Whenever the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stopped at her place she felt grateful for his presence and she considered serving him to be the greatest of honours.
Anas bin Malik narrated that once he was at his house when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came there. His mother and her sister were also there. He (the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him) bestowed upon them a beautiful gift when he told them to rise and he would lead them in a special prayer; it was not the time for one of the obligatory prayers. After prayers he made a supplication to Allah to bless the family both in this world and the Hereafter.
Her husband ‘Ubadah bin Samit was a member of all the three delegations which had the honour of going to Makkah before the migration to personally pledge allegiance to Allah and His Messenger. He was an exemplary husband and father. He was a loving father to ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr who had been born to Umm Hiram by her first husband. The same love and care he gave to his own children he gave to his wife’s children of the previous marriage. Muhammad bin ‘Ubadah was a member of the congregation when the Ayah to change the direction (Qiblah) for prayers to the Ka’bah from Masjid- al-Aqsa was revealed. Thus he had the privilege of facing both the ‘Qiblahs’ in this one prayer.
Traditions attributed to Umm Hiram have been quoted by such noteworthy Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as ‘Ubadah bin Samit, Anas bin Malik, ‘Umair bin Aswad, ‘Ata bin Yasir and Ya’la bin Shaddad bin Aws. The feelings of love respect and reverence for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), almost reached a peak of perfection in the heart of Umm Hiram. Whenever he visited either her house or the house of her sister Umm Sulaim, their happiness knew no bounds. She would prepare special delicacies for him and arrange a comfortable bed for him to rest. The atmosphere was such that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), too would feel a real sense of peace and joy when he called on her. When he was asked if there was a special reason why he visited her house so often, he replied that he felt a great sense of pity for the family ever since he saw two of her brothers being martyred in the battle of Bi’r Ma’unah, since then, he said that he visited her to see to her needs and to comfort her.
The Ansar were noted for their spirit of sacrifice, generosity and hospitality, and Umm Hiram was an embodiment of this spirit. This spirit is glorified in the Words of the Noble Quran.
“And those who, before them (emigrants), had homes (in Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given, and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful.” [Noble Quran 59:9]
Allah was so pleased with the sympathy, generosity and sacrifice displayed by the Ansar for the migrants of Makkah that Allah immortalized their selfless character in His Quran. There was no difference between men or women in this display of selflessness. And it seemed Umm Hiram was blessed in more than ample measure with this typical generosity of spirit. The family was fortunate to have the blessings and goodwill of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). What more can one ask for in this world? When he passed away he was very happy with her for the exceptional services she rendered.
During the caliphate of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan, in the year 27th, after Hijrah, Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan was given permission to conquer the Island of Cyprus. To reach there a naval force was readied. This was the first time in Islamic history that such a measure was taken. ‘Ubadah bin Samit was accompanied by his wife Umm Hiram. Accompanying the General Mu’awiyah with his wife Fakhtah bint Qurdhah.
‘Umair bin Aswad ‘Ansi writes that he visited ‘Ubadah who was staying in the coastal area of Hamas. He met Umm Hiram who told him that she had heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say that some of his people would journey on the sea for the purpose of Jihad (war in the cause of Allah). She asked him if she would be one among them, and he replied in the affirmative. She was really elated at this because it had been her earnest desire to take part in Jihad. By the grace of Allah the Muslims were victorious. After her journey by sea Umm Hiram got on to a mule to travel by land, but unfortunately the mule became frightened of something and she fell down. She sustained a serious neck injury that cost her life. Thus she attained the martyrdom which she always desired, and she was buried in Cyprus.
Umm Hiram was indeed a fortunate woman, one of the female companions who took part in this naval venture and attained martyrdom, and proved herself worthy of the blessed tidings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about her place in Paradise.
She lived her life as a praiseworthy lady on land and attained the best end to a well-lived life as martyr of the first naval venture of Islam.
“Allah will be pleased with them and they with Him.” [Noble Quran 98:8]