By: Ahmad Loqmani
Barka, daughter of Tha’alabeh ibn Amar; known as “Umme Aiman” - was a great personality. Among women in the early years of Islam, she was an outstanding figure.
By her wisdom and enlightenment, she was in the vanguard against the enemies of the Prophet (SAW) and Imam Ali (AS) in holy wars (Jihad) and self-sacrifice during the Prophet’s (SAW) migration from Mecca to Medina. The life of such a woman was fraught with the praise of the past, present and future as read in the brilliant words of the Prophet (SAW). Imam Ali (AS) and Fatima az-Zahra (SA) and the Prophet (SAW) called her “A woman from Paradise”.
The great honor of Umme Aiman was that when the Prophet (SAW) lost his mother at the age of seven, he was left in the charge of this woman and only the sympathetic and affectionate service of Umme Aiman could make up for the loss of the Prophet’s (SAW) mother. The Prophet (SAW) never forgot her services and said: “Umme Aiman mothered me after my own mother.”
She was from Ethiopia and loved the divine knowledge and with her sublime character, she cared wholeheartedly for the grandson of Abdul-Mutallib (RA) and followed his sagacious advice.
Whereas the learned-men, while having read the divine scriptures that Prophet (SAW) gave tidings of his advent had understood that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would be the last of the divine Messengers and, added to which Abdul-Mutallib (RA) worried and mentioned to Umme Aiman that she not neglect him because he was believed to be the same promised Prophet of these people.
Umme Aiman’s care of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) took 18 years and thereafter Prophet Muhammad (SAW) called her “Mother” and after he was appointed as the Messenger, he said: “This woman is a survivor of my family.”
After having married Bibi Khadija (SA), the Prophet (SAW) set Umme Aiman free because she was a slave-maid belonging to his father Abdullah son of Abdul-Muttalib (RA). And some said she was the slave-maid of Bibi Amina (the Prophet’s mother) and after Amina passed away, Umme Aiman became the Prophet’s property.
At the same time Ubeid Khazarji married Barka and she bore a boy named Aiman and thus she was called “Umme Aiman”. Fate had thus bestowed this honor on Umme Aiman because she had nursed a boy who afterwards became the Prophet (SAW) of a revealed religion. In the Battle of Hunain Aiman attended to the Prophet (SAW) and never left him alone and after showing valor, was martyred. After Umme Aiman’s husband was killed in the Battle of Khaibar, the Prophet (SAW) said to his devoted companions: “He who wants to be happy should ask for the hand of Umme Aiman, the woman of Paradise.” Umme Aiman had the honor of attending to five infallible Imams (AS).
Umme Aiman was a loving nurse for Fatima az-Zahra (SA). Before the birth of the daughter of the Prophet (SAW), she served in the house of the Prophet (SAW) and had shown her devotion. Fatima az-Zahra (SA) loved her and she also humbly loved and respected the daughter of the Prophet (SAW).
In the migration (Hijrat) of Muhammad (SAW) from Mecca to Medina, Umme Aiman went along with Hazrat Fatima az-Zahra (SA) separately. When Imam Ali (AS) married the daughter of the Prophet (SAW), the first money the Prophet (SAW) paid to his trustworthy companion to prepare the dowry for the newly-wed couple was to Umme Aiman. She wished the couple well and she tried her best to make all happy.
Imam Ali (AS) was quoted as having said that “the wives of the Prophet (SAW) asked me whether I wanted them to speak to the Prophet (SAW) about Fatima az-Zahra’s (SA) becoming my wife.” Umme Aiman said to the Prophet (SAW): “O God’s Messenger, if Bibi Khadija (SA) was alive today, she would be very glad to see Fatima (SA) married. Imam Ali (AS) would like his wife to come to his home. We pray you to allow their union.” The Prophet (SAW) said that why did Ali (AS) not ask me! Imam Ali (AS) said that modesty didn’t allow him to ask. Thus Umme Aiman caused the marriage of Ali (AS) and Fatima (SA) to take place.
Now let us recall a dream of Umme Aiman: One day a neighbor of Umme Aiman called on the Prophet (SAW) and said that Umme Aiman had wept bitterly all night. The Prophet (SAW) called her and asked what the matter was. She said that she had a shocking dream that the parts of his body fell into her home. The Prophet (SAW) said “Fatima (SA) will bear a child which you will bring up.” Days later Imam Hussain (AS) was born. On the 7th day after his birth Umme Aiman took the infant in her arms to the Prophet (SAW). The Prophet (SAW) said this is what your dream meant. Hazrat Fatima (SA) loved and respected Umme Aiman and occasionally shared their food with her. Hazrat Fatima (SA) trusted Umme Aiman so much that she called her forward as the witness in the case of Fadak that was usurped.
Umme Aiman had an abiding love for Hazrat Fatima (SA) and after her departure from this world, Umme Aiman left Medina for Mecca.
On her way she reached Juhfa and the sting of thirst led her to take a drop or two of water there, but she feared that she might die. She looked up and said: “O Allah! Let me, the slave of Your Prophet’s (SAW) daughter die thirsty!” In no time a jug of water was brought from Paradise and she drank.
Finally at the beginning of the caliphate of Uthman she died at the age of 85.
May her soul rest in peace - Ameen