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๐“๐‡๐„ ๐–๐Ž๐Œ๐€๐ ๐–๐‡๐Ž ๐‘๐€๐ˆ๐’๐„๐ƒ ๐๐‘๐Ž๐๐‡๐„๐“ ๐Œ๐”๐‡๐€๐Œ๐Œ๐€๐ƒ ๏ทบ

Apart from the fact that women were the first and foremost supporters of Islaam from the day it was revealed through to the very end, there are so many historic firsts attributed to women that have gone uncelebrated and although we cannot list them all here, it is still incumbent to acknowledge that the very first person to accept the message of Al-Islaam and the very first to sacrifice their Life for the faith were both Women (Khadijatul Kubra Bint al-Khuwaylid and Sumayyah Bint Khayyat).

There were hundreds of others who played significant roles in the history of Islaam from the very beginning. For example.

Did you know that Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ was raised by an African woman who was present in his life from the day he was born through to his dying day? In fact, she was there even when the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ was still in his mother's womb (Aminah bint Wahb). She was the comforting ear and the gentle shoulder upon which the Prophet Muhammad's ๏ทบ own mother Aminah would find emotional support at times of difficulty and distress.

Such as when her husband (Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Mutallib) died unexpectedly on a business trip to Syria, leaving her with an unborn child still in her womb and heart shattered into a thousand pieces. Barakah was there when Aminah bint Wahb had dreams of her unborn child becoming a light of hope in a world saturated in darkness and injustice, she would confide in Barakah and share her dreams as well as her fears for the future.

And when the infant was born on that most auspicious of days, Barakah was right there to welcome him into the temporal realms of earthly existence. She would remain present in his life, her wings of mercy enveloped the young orphan as she stood guard over his blessed soul like a guardian angel sent to accompany him through the long and eventful years to come.

Meet ๐๐š๐ซ๐š๐ค๐š๐ก๐›๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐“๐ก๐š'๐š๐ฅ๐š๐›๐š.

The woman described by the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ as a "Woman of Paradise".

Barakah (Blessing) lived up to her name and was a continual source of motherly love and repose for the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ, who had been deprived of parental love and care from a very young age, following the untimely deaths of both his father and mother. In fact, on the day in which the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ lost his mother as a 6 year old child, it was Barakah who stood besides him, comforting and consoling his grieving soul.

It has been reported by Ibn Saสฟd al-Baแนฃrฤซ al-Hฤshimฤซ in his famous ๐˜ผ๐™ก-๐™๐™–๐™—๐™–๐™ฆ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ก-๐™†๐™ช๐™—๐™ง๐™– [ Vol. 8, page 223 ] that the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ even referred to Barakah as his "๐™๐™ข๐™ข๐™–" ("Mother").

๐’๐Ž ๐–๐‡๐Ž ๐–๐€๐’ ๐“๐‡๐ˆ๐’ ๐–๐Ž๐Œ๐€๐ ๐„๐—๐€๐‚๐“๐‹๐˜ ??

Umm Ayman (or Umm Barakah) was an Ethiopian woman who had been brought into Makkah as a mere child, most liekly as a captive of war, the Ethiopians had already colonised Himyarite Yemen and were establishing their authority on the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, they saw the Kaaba as a distraction to their own Christian Church and had even tried to destroy the Kaaba altogether (in the same year in which Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ was born, "Year of the Elephant"). She served in the wealthy Makkan home of the Quraish tribal leaders before eventually serving as a maid in the household of Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Muttalib and Aminah bint Wahb, the parents of Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ.

However, when both patrons died, Barakah remained besides the young Muhammad ๏ทบ, caring for him and raising him in his grandfather's home - Abdul Muttalib. Through the years to come, she continued to fill a very important space and role within the Prophet's life as a beloved mother to him and one of the few people alive who would recount to him stories about his own mother and father, their early days of marriage and details of his auspicious birth.

The Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ loved her very much and when he came of age, he liberated her from bondage, making her a free woman once more. Nevertheless, Barakah continued to be there besides him through to the very end of his blessed life. And when the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ was commanded to leave Makkah and travel to Madinah, Umm Barakah remained behind to look after his family until the time was right for her to join him in Madinah.

This was to be her second journey to Madinah, the first one having resulted in the tragic death of Prophet Muhammad's ๏ทบ mother en-route to Madinah several decades earlier (Aminah died at Al-Abwaโ€™, a village midway between Makkah and Madinah). She traced the path on her own, walking in solitude beneath the scorching desert sun, cutting through mountains and defying the unforgiving desert terrain on foot. She bore all of this and more, just to see the face of her beloved once more, in Madinah.

And when she finally reached the blessed city, exhausted and dehydrated - The Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ called and exclaimed "Yaa Umm Ayman! Ya Ummi! (O Umm Ayman! O my mother!). Indeed for you is a place in Paradise!" At last, they were reunited.

In fact, Barakah was literally the only person remaining who had personally been an eye witness to everything in the Prophet Muhammad's ๏ทบ blessed life - from his birth through to his death. Through happiness and sadness, from his tender childhood through to his call to Prophethood. Umm Barakah was by his side - she witnessed everything and was always there to comfort him and fuss over him, like a mother would. She accompanied the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ even to the battlefield (Uhud, Khaybar and Hunayn to be specific), she was a constant fountain of love and emotional support. While the army was marching towards the enemy, she raised her voice and cheered the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ on, a mother's prayers never falls short of being fulfilled.

Even as a powerful and respected leader, Prophet Muhammad would continue to visit Umm Barakah almost daily and she would prepare home cooked cuisine for him and his friends to enjoy. When prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ passed away - his successor, Caliph Abu-Bakr (and Umar Ibn al-Khattab) would habitually visit the home Umm Ayman and she would feed them and look after them like her own children.

๐ˆ๐๐‰๐„๐‘๐€ ๐€๐๐˜๐Ž๐๐„??

It has been documented that Umm Ayman would even cook Ethiopian food for Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ On one specific occasion it was reported that she sifted some flour and made a loaf of bread for the Prophet ๏ทบ.

He ๏ทบ said: โ€œWhat is this?โ€

She said: โ€œIt is food that we make in our land (Ethiopia and Eritrea), and I wanted to make a loaf of it for you.

He ๏ทบ said: โ€œFold it onto itself and knead it.โ€

[ Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 3336, Book 29, Hadith 86 ]

It is therefore no wonder that the Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ openly described Umm Barakah to his companions as one of the "Woman of Paradise".

Ps. Umm Ayman is one of the very few Companions of Prophet Muhammad ๏ทบ who is respected and honored by literally every single sect in Islam.

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