radhiAllahuanha‘O our Lord! Keep Muhammad alive for us, so that I may see him become an adolescent, then a leader.

Suppress his enemies and those who are envious of him, and give him an everlasting glory!”

The above is a poetic supplication that Shayma would sing to Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he was a child and whenever she would hold him for awhile.

Shayma and her family lived in the desert and had taken the responsibility of wet-nursing this special child. Shayma would help her mother Halimah in performing the household chores as well as in the fields. All of this was before the Prophet (peace be upon him) had even began walking. At that time Shayma was about four or five years old and was somewhat old enough to observe the changes in her family’s conditon from poverty to comfort and abundance, and from hardship to ease. She realized that this change was caused by the blessing of this young boy who was brought to their midst. Hence she would express her love for him with this poetic supplication that spontaneously flowed from her tongue.

A report mentions that whenever Abu ‘Urwah al-Azdi would repeat and remember this song he would say,

“How excellent is Allah’s response to her supplication!”

Shayma or Shama was the nickname given to this Sahaabiyyah, which became more dominantly mention than her real name. Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr mentioned that her real name was Hadh-dhaqah.

Ibn Ishaq reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had four foster siblings, namely: ‘Abdullah, Aniyah, Hudhafah of Banu Harith and Hadh-dhaqah, popularly known as Shayma.

For the four years that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) spent at Banu Sa’d’s home, the life of al-Harith’s family took a dramatic transformation. The personality of the Messenger (peace be upon him) was undoubtedly the focal point around which these changes revolved.

But there is an important question concerning the family of Haleemah, the Prophet’s foster mother:

Why didn’t this family hasten to embrace Islaam after the Prophet Muhammad’s messengership and prophethood, either in Makkah before Hijrah or in Madinah after Hijrah, despite the fact that they knew many of the Prophet’s extraordinary characteristics? Why hadn’t they rushed to Muhammad (peace be upon him), in whose childhood they saw things which they had never witnessed in other children and in spite of the great love that was between her family and this noble boy?

Why did this family delay embracing Islaam until after the battle of Hunayn which took place in the 8th year after Hijrah?!


clouds3After the conquest of Makkah, the tribes of Hawazin, Thaqeef, Banoo Bakr and others converged together to fight against Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was the zeal of the time of ignorance which deluded them into thinking that they would be the successors of the Quraysh in leadership and that none besides them deserved that enviable position.

They brought together a contingent of more than thirty thousand men who came out with their weapons, women, children and animals, in response to the demand of their leader Maalik ibn ‘Awf. They then converged at the valley of Hunyan between Taa’if and Makkah. It was there that the fierce battle took place between both them and the Muslims.

Allah describes this event in the following words:

{Truly Allah has given you victory on many battlefields, and on the day of Hunain when you rejoiced at your great number, but it availed you naught and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight. Then Allah did send down his Sakeenah (peace and tranquility) on the Messenger and on the believers, and sent down forces which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Then after that Allah will accept the repentance of whom he wills and Allah is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.}

It was on this day that some of the Muslims were proud of their great number and said, “We can never be outnumbered after this day!” Their mistake was that they failed to attribute victory to the one in whose hand the reins of the heavens and the earth is in. Thus they were defeated at the beginning of the battle and were severely shaken into disarray.

The hero of this day, who reclaimed the victory for eemaan against disbelief was a single person alone. He taught people what is steadfastness upon the truth, in spite of all dangers and regardless of whatever the situation may be like. This person was the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) who, while he was on his mule, proclaimed to the people aloud: “I am the Prophet without lying; I am the son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib.”

At times horses might be frightened by the clang of weapons and as a result retreat. As for mules, they impetuously dart off towards wherever their rider directs them. The one who rides a mule, rather than a horse, on the battlefield is clearly a courageous warrior. The Prophet (peace be upon him) courageously rode on a mule, rather than a horse.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) remained steadfast, and hundreds of his companions rallied around him, calling on one another to fight off the enemy. Allah (‘azza wa jall) then supported the believers over their enemy and made them triumphant.

The polytheists scattered in confusion. Many of them were killed and others were taken as captives. The Muslims were blessed with many spoils of war.

Shayma, who had also set out with her tribe against the Muslims, at Ji'ranah came seeking permission to see the Messenger of Allah and hoping for favour from him. He allowed her in, although he didn't recognise her. She said, “Messenger of Allah, I am your foster sister!” He said, “How can you prove that?” She said, “A bite that you bit me on my back while I was placing you on my hip!”

This incident reminded the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of his childhood days and he began to vividly remember his days with the tribe of Banu Sa’d, in spite of the fact that decades had passed since his stay with them. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) confirmed the truthfulness of what she said.

The following words of Allah Almighty amply describe the Prophets character, and the way he dealt with others,

{Verily, there has come unto you a messenger from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is anxious over you for the believers full of pity, kind and merciful.}

And this was how he was to deal with his sister Shaymaa’.

While Shayma was still standing in front of him asking for his amnesty, the Messenger of Allah spread his garment out of honour for her and said to her, “Come here”. He then made her sit down beside himself. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her, “If you like, you can stay with me and always be loved and honoured, and if you like, I will cater for you and then send you back to your people.”

She (may Allah be pleased with her) said confidently, “I want you to provide for me and send me back to my people!”

Here, the puzzle over the delay in the embracement of Islaam by the family of Haleemah is solved.

Obsessive tribalism was a governing factor within the lives of the Arabs and their Bedouin societal setup. Very few of them grew out of this mentality, which was an impediment in their path towards becoming Muslims.

Shayma, in spite of her acceptance of Islaam, did not want to stay with the Messenger of Allah to be always loved and honoured. Rather, she preferred to be given provision and sent back to her people. From here we can see how the Bedoins stuck by each other and keenly kept to their allegiances.

Shayma’s being around the Messenger of Allah in his early childhood days within an atmosphere of compassion, love and kindness resulted in her freedom, in this life and the next. She reaped the fruits for being his foster sister when she became old, after many years.

May Allah have mercy on Shayma and be pleased with her!

May he honour her abode and place of rest. Aameen!


More articles in Sahaabiyaat: Female Companions of the Prophet:

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