31.4 Umm Habiba (Abu Sufyan's Daughter)
Umm Habiba was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, one of the most tenacious enemies of Mohamed and Islam, and a man who led armies against him on many fields. She had entered into Islam with her husband and emigrated to Abyssinia with him. There her husband, finding the whole land Christian, defected from Islam and entered into Christianity. She found herself in a most painful position as she could not remain with her husband nor could she return to her father. Islam decrees that a Muslim woman shall not marry a man unless he is a Muslim, and her father was not only a polytheist but one of the chiefs of denial and wrong. This lady, used to every comfort before Islam as she came from the proud and wealthy house of Banu Umayya (the Umayyads of history), shut herself and her little daughter away from the eyes of all men. Forgotten and forsaken, she lived in very frugal circumstances but adhered steadfastly to Islam.
She may have been forgotten by men, but Allah in His mercy forgets no one. One day as she sat in her solitary room in this alien land, a slave called Abraha knocked on her door and said that she had been sent for by the King of Abyssinia to receive a message. The message was that Mohamed had requested her hand, and the king said that if she accepted the match she was to name one of the Muslims in Abyssinia as her deputy. Umm Habiba was overjoyed; she was not forgotten. This was the highest honor and, moreover, Mohamed had sent her four hundred dinars as a dowry. (A very large sum of money at that time, of which she was badly in need.) Mohamed knew that he could not meet this wife in distant Abyssinia, but the fact that he had thought of her, the financial support he sent to her, and the honor and protection that his name gave her, cheered the poor lady's heart.
Six years later, when the emigrant Muslims could finally return from Abyssinia, she came to Medina and Mohamed, who had just returned victorious from Khaybar, gave her a most cordial welcome.