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Black heroines of Islam: Barakah bint Tha’laba

This Black History Month 2023 we  acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of black women and the vital role they have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.

As Black History month also coincides with Rabi al-Awwal- a time of reflection on the Seerah- (life of the Prophet Muhammad SAW),  we’re shedding light on Barakah bint Tha’laba. 

Also known as Umm Ayman, she was a significant figure in Islamic history- as one of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)’s most trusted care-givers, and later, a close companion. 

‘My mother after my mother’ 

Barakah was originally from Abyssinia and was enslaved before Islam. She was living in the household of Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib and Aminah bint Wahb, Prophet Muhammad’s parents, who treated her with great respect and kindness. 

Barakah offered great support to Amina, taking care of her during pregnancy. She also gave Amina the news of Abdullah’s  death, and comforted her during the most difficult times. 

When the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was just six years old, his mother Amina fell ill on a journey from Madina to Makkah, and passed away in Al-Abwa. 

Before her death, Amina instructed Barakah to take care of the young Muhammad (PBUH), stating “Be a mother to him, and don’t ever leave him”. 

Indeed, Barakah honoured her promise to Amina , taking great care of Muhammad (PBUH). 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) considered Barakah as his second mother and introduced her to everyone as “my mother after my mother.”

One of the first women to embrace Islam 

Barakah  was one of the first women to accept Islam after the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH declared Prophethood, and her family followed soon after.

Barakah was one of the closest and most trusted people to the Prophet (PBUH). As he faced tragedy upon tragedy, Umm Ayman stayed by the Prophet (PBUH)’s side. 

She was a confidante to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who constantly sought her advice. Her high status and closeness to the Prophet (PBUH) was demonstrated by her burial in the Baqi’ graveyard  next to the mosque of the Prophet (PBUH). 

She knew the holy Prophet (PBUH) his whole life, rejoicing at his blessed birth and mourning after he left this world. 

When the Prophet (PBUH) married Khadijah (RA), he arranged for her freedom from enslavement and arranged her marriage to Ubayd ibn Zaid, from whom she bore her son Ayman. Ubayd was martyred in the Battle of Khaybar, fighting in defence of the Prophet, while Ayman was martyred in the Battle of Hunayn. 

The Prophet later arranged for Barakah to marry Zaid ibn Harithah. From this marriage, Barakah bore a son named Usama, who grew up to lead a Muslim expedition into the Byzantine Empire. Barakah too lost Zaid, and continued to live with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  

Barakah’s boundless bravery 

Despite her old age, Barakah insisted on joining the Prophet in the Hijra Sharif- blessed journey of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Makkah to Madinah, despite the difficulties of the journey.  

Upon reaching Madinah the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: 

Ya Umm Ayman! Ya Ummi! (O Umm Ayman! O my mother!) Indeed for you is a place in Paradise!

Her loyalty to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was also demonstrated when the Quraysh plotted against Muhammad (PBUH), she risked her life to gather information about their plans. 

She also accompanied the Prophet (PBUH) on various battles, such as the Battle of Uhud and the Battle of Khaybar. 

At the Battle of Uhud, she fetched water for the Muslim soldiers and helped treat the wounded. 

When the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was rumoured to have died during the Battle of Uhud, many Muslims ran away from the battlefield while Barakah stood firm. 

She threw dust on the runaway soldiers, offered them a spindle, and said, “give me your sword and you spin the spindle.” 

She approached the battlefield with some other Muslim women, intending to fight. She was sadly injured by Hebban bin Araqa, an enemy soldier’s arrow. 

Barakah is a great role model and heroine of Islam. We should reflect on her story, and hope to follow in her footsteps of serving Islam, and having love and loyalty in our hearts for our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

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We ensure our content is reviewed and verified by qualified scholars to provide you with the most accurate information. This webpage was last reviewed by Sheikh Salim Al-Azhari.

Page last reviewed: 5 October 2023

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