Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 5-part series about the amazing Muslim women who paved the way for others after them.
Umm Ma‘baad, whose real name was Atiqah bint Khalid al-Khuzaiya, was a very fascinating woman. She is most famous for being the first woman to narrate a comprehensive description of the Prophet in a hadith.
Umm Ma‘baad was an archetype of the Bedouin people. She was strong, intelligent, and possessed a mastery of the Arabic language, which the Bedouins were known for. She lived in a tent outside of Mecca, and she would make a living by operating a “rest stop.” She would distribute dates, meat, and milk to the travellers passing by.
One day, she was sitting in her tent, when two men appeared. They seemed to be in a rush, but Umm Ma‘baad saw something very special.
Because all her sheep had gone out to pasture, there was no milk to feed to the guests. One of the men asked for an old sheep, which was not giving milk. He passed his hand over her udder and it became filled with milk, which everyone drank from.
The Hadith of Umm Ma‘baad
Of course, these two men were the Prophet and Abu Bakr, on their migration from Mecca to Medina. When her husband returned, she told him what had happened. She described the Prophet as very radiant, and handsome. She described his luminous eyes and beautiful speech, and how the ones in his company deferred to him with so much respect.
Umm Ma‘baad was just trying to tell her husband about her visitors, but her description became one of the most famous hadith about the Prophet. Anyone learning about the characteristics of the Prophet, or learning about the Prophetic biography, is sure to come across her narration.
Although this was the first and last time she met the Prophet, her description was so concise and eloquent that it became immortalized in history.