The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“If any person wants to see a beautiful virgin of Paradise, he can see Umm Rooman.”
She was the wife of Abu Bakr Siddiq and the mother of ‘Ayshah Thus she was the Prophet’s mother-in-law. Her son, ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr Siddiq was an excellent horseman, and a master strategist in war. She taught him the meaning of valor and courage. Her real name was Zaynab, but she came to be known by her family name. She was a patient and tolerant woman who did not jump to hasty conclusions, but gave matters deep thought. This was evident in the way she handled the incident when people of loose tongues and small minds accused ‘Ayshah of adultery.
When her husband explained to her the teachings of Islam, she did not linger with doubts about giving up the religion of her ancestors. She immediately saw the greatness of Islam and accepted it. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw her attributes – physical and spiritual – he likened her to a celestial spirit of Paradise.
It is written in Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d that Umm Rooman accepted Islam in the very early days in Makkah. She swore allegiance at the hand of the Prophet himself and then migrated with the blessed group of emigrants.
When she witnessed the terrible atrocities committed by the Quraysh against the Muslims, she would suffer and weep for the innocent victims; but she gained courage when she saw the moral strength and exemplary sacrifice of her husband for the cause of Islam. She drew inspiration from him and found peace in his presence.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also used to exhort his faithful followers not to waver, but to be patient and hold steadfast to their faith, for they would surely in the Hereafter be rewarded with Paradise. The companions were the faithful who did not recant even when their bodies were cut in two with a saw. When he saw the suffering of the family of Yasir, he said to them,
‘O family of Yasir! Be patient, for your final destination and resting place will be Paradise.’
During this long period, Umm Rooman remained an image of patience, forbearance courage and bravery. She spent most of her time in earnest supplications and prayers to Allah. When she saw her husband’s devoted efforts for the propagation of Islam she expressed her admiration and gave him moral support. She devoted her time to the nurturing of her children in the traditions of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) often used to visit the house of his illustrious follower and friend, Abu Bakr Siddiq. He would advise Umm Rooman to keep encouraging and instilling the love of goodness in ‘Ayshah.
Khadijah passed away three years before the migration of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to Al-Madinah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spent a year as unmarried person. He then married ‘Ayshah at the command of Allah as delivered by the Angel Jibril. Thus, Umm Rooman had the honor of becoming his mother-in-law. She expressed great happiness at the thought that her daughter would be one of those who joined the ranks of the blessed Mothers of the Believers. What other greater honor could she want for her family?
When Allah ordered the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to migrate to Al-Madinah he went to the house of his closest friend and Companion, Abu Bakr Siddiq. Without any questions or hesitation, he prepared to accompany the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He packed a few things and took all the cash there was in the house. He left his father, wife and children in the trust and care of Allah and set off for an unknown and unseen destination.
It was a very tough time for Umm Rooman; as she was separated from her husband; and there was a lack of money for household expenses, since he had taken all the available cash with him. However, what predominated all other thoughts in her mind were supplications to Allah for the safe arrival of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and her husband in Al Madinah. On reaching their destination safely, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sent Zayd bin Harithah and Abu Rafi’ to bring his family, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent ‘Abdullah bin Ariqat and wrote to his son ‘Abdullah to bring his family. Umm Rooman and ‘Ayshah got on one camel’s back. On the way, the camel suddenly seemed out of control, started to jump, and almost threw its riders. Umm Rooman was worried about her beloved daughter ‘Ayshah and started calling out, ‘O my daughter, O my dear little bride!’ Just then, someone called out that she should let go of the reins, and this made the camel calmed down and stood still. Therefore, the mother and daughter were saved from the impending danger.
One day both Abu Bakr Siddiq and his wife, Umm Rooman, went to visit the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He asked them the purpose of the visit. They both simultaneously requested him to offer supplications to Allah for ‘Ayshah.
Then he prayed to Allah to forgive ‘Ayshah bint Abu Bakr both inside and outside, such a forgiveness that would leave no sin. Both her parents looked very happy with this perfect supplication.
Then he told them that this was his prayer for all those who accepted Islam after his being named Messenger of Allah, and remained steadfast in their belief.
Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) respected Umm Rooman very much, and she in turn gave first priority to doing things that pleased him. Therefore, life was very pleasant, and everyone was happy fulfilling his or her obligations to man and his Creator. One day the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) praised Khadijah at great length extolling her many virtues. ‘Ayshah felt a very strong twinge of feminine jealousy; involuntarily she said that he was talking of Khadijah ‘ as if there was no other woman on earth but she. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not like this at all, and his face reddened with a terrible anger. When Umm Rooman heard of this she went to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and tried to apologize for ‘Ayshah telling him that she was still very young that he should not take her seriously. Very curtly, addressing ‘Ayshah he asked her if she had not said that there was no other woman on the face of the earth besides Khadijah. He swore by Allah that this great woman had believed him when the tribe of ‘Ayshah had denied that he was the Messenger and Prophet of Allah. She gave him the great gift of children, which was not the case with ‘Ayshah.
Umm Rooman listened in complete silence because she knew that all that he spoke was by the command and revelation of Allah. He did not speak of his own accord; his words were always based on revelations of Allah.
Tradition has it that Umm Rooman passed away in the year 6th after Hijrah. During her burial, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked Allah to forgive her. Doubtless, this was a great honor for her. It was on this occasion that he said that if any person wanted to see a beautiful celestial virgin of Paradise, he could see Umm Rooman . Thus these words are an indication that she will, Allah Willing, be in Paradise in the Hereafter. May Allah fill her grave with radiance. Another tradition regarding the death of Umm Rooman, is however more reliable. It says that she died after the passing away of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Verily the words of Allah are true,
“Verily, those who believe and do righteous deeds, and humble themselves before their Lord, they will be dwellers of Paradise to dwell therein forever.” [Noble Quran 11:23]