Umm Salamah’s first hijrah was to Ethiopia with her husband Abū Salamah رضي الله عنه where the King, who would later convert to Islam, accepted Muslims seeking asylum from Meccan persecution. While the Muslims lived comfortably in Ethiopia, some still longed to return home. Once Ḥamzah and ʿUmar رضي الله عنهم—both powerful men in Meccan society—converted to Islam, some Muslims assumed Mecca would be more hospitable and returned home. But they were wrong.
After facing continued persecution, a welcoming invitation from a neighboring clan, and God's permission, the Muslims left Mecca once again—this time in larger numbers—and migrated to Medina. The ease of this journey varied greatly. Some left boldly while others were held back by their relatives. Umm Salamah, her husband, and her son were of those stopped as they attempted to leave. She says in her own words:
When Abū Salamah decided to leave [for] Madīnah, he equipped a camel and carried me along with my son Salamah. He then led his camel out. When men of Banū Al Mughīrah (Umm Salamah’s clan) saw him, then went to him and told him, ‘There is nothing we can do to prevent you from going wherever you want; but as for this sister of ours, we cannot leave you roaming about in the land with her.’ They then seized the bridle of the camel from him and took me away from him.
When Banū ‘Abdul-Asad (Abū Salamah’s clan) heard of that, they got angry and aimed for Salamah [her son] saying, ‘By Allah! We are not going to leave our son with her since they have snatched her away from our brother.’
Then they took my son Salamah away from me.1
Umm Salamah would cry daily, longing to be reunited with her husband, the Muslims, and the Messenger of God ﷺ. If you’ve ever intended to pray only to realize your menstruation has come, or set out to fast and then fell ill, or decided to go to the masjid for Jumuʿah but couldn’t because of a national crisis, then maybe you can understand one-tenth of what Umm Salamah faced.
Abū Salamah had no choice but to leave his wife and son behind. She remained in Mecca, while constantly begging and reasoning with them to let her go. Finally, her pleas were accepted and she, along with her young son, set out for Medina. Along the way, a man named ʿUthmān ibn Ṭalḥah رضي الله عنه inquired about her journey. Since she was alone with a child and a long journey ahead, he decided to accompany her as protection. Umm Salamah said about ʿUthmān, “I have, by Allah, never met an Arab more generous and noble than he.”2
He stayed with her until they came close to where the Muslims had settled. Abū Salamah and Umm Salamah were finally reunited and able to continue their blissful union. Abū Salamah and Umm Salamah shared a deep bond and their marriage was one of mutual love and kindness.
Lesson: Umm Salamah longed to be with her husband and with the Muslims in Medina but when the time came, she was prevented from doing so. This incident did not make her lose faith. Though she cried over her loss, she did not lose her conviction. God says in the Qur’an, “Whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out of every difficulty.”3
When one door was closed, another soon opened. Allah changed the hearts of her family members and allowed them to let her go and she, in her conviction, left her affairs in the hands of Allah and trusted in Him to protect her and her baby while alone on her journey. She persisted in her good intention and Allah sent her help in the person of ʿUthmān, may Allah be pleased with them both. The lesson we can learn from this story is to persist in good deeds even in less than ideal circumstances.