The Bedouin who beautifully described the Prophet (pbuh) – Umm Ma’bad

Her name was Atikah bint Khalid al-Khuzai’yah, who camped in Qudayd, a place between Makkah and Medina. She was a Bedouin woman who used to provide food and drinks to the travelers. Sometimes she charged a little something for her service and mostly she did it for free, out of hospitality. Her rendezvous with the Prophet (pbuh) was during his (pbuh) migration to Medina from Makkah.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was on his way to Medina with Abu Bakr (ra) and the freed slave of the latter who served as their guide, a man called Abdullah ibn Urayqit. They stopped for rest at Umm Ma’bad’s camp. When they asked her for some drink, she simply replied that she had nothing to offer to them, as it was the time of drought and she had no provisions. The Prophet (pbuh) then noticed a weak goat in the corner of her tent and asked her permission to milk it. She told him (pbuh) it was beyond milking implying the goat was too weak and old to be milked, nevertheless she gave him (pbuh) the permission to milk it.

The Prophet (pbuh) milked it himself, and to the amazement of the woman, the three of them drank their fill and she too was offered some milk to drink. Then he (pbuh) milked it one more time and left that milk for the Bedouin woman. The group then moved on with their journey.

When her husband came back and saw the milk, he was amazed and inquired about it. Umm Ma’bad narrated the whole incident and simply said, ”A blessed man passed by us.” Her husband hearing about the man, asked her to describe him. It is then, Umm Ma’bad, an illiterate Bedouin woman described the Prophet (pbuh) in the most beautiful words ever. This precise observant of a woman described the Beloved of Allah (pbuh) in the following words:

”I saw a man who is clearly handsome with a beautiful face. He is well-built, neither blemished by a big belly nor disfigured by an unusually small head. The pupils of his eyes are very dark, his eyelashes are very long and the area around the pupils is extremely white. His eyebrows are perfectly close. He has very dark hair, a rather long neck and a thick beard.

When he remains silent he is ever contemplative and when he speaks, eminence and splendor show in his words. His words are like sliding stringed pearls. He is a gifted orator whose words are neither too few nor too many. He has the clearest wand and the most audible voice as he speaks. When you look at him from afar, he is the most handsome of all people, and when you move closer to him, he is the most pleasant of them.

You will never be tired of looking at him. He is like a branch between two branches.

He is the most handsome of the three and the most important of them. He has companions who honor him; when he speaks they listen to his words and when he commands they hasten to carry out his order. They serve and gather around him. He neither frowns or nags.”

When her husband heard this description he exclaimed,” Wallahi this is the Quraysh man. If I see him I will follow him.”

Umm Ma’bad did not need any further proof to his (pbuh) claim of Prophethood, she having had witnessed the miraculous countenance of the man himself.

She and her husband headed for Medina and met the Prophet (pbuh). They accepted Islam and swore allegiance to him (pbuh).

This story of their acceptance of Islam was narrated by the brother of Umm Ma’bad,
known as Khunays (or Hubaysh) ibn Khalid who Allah swt honored with martyrdom on the day of Conquest of Makkah.

It is also said, according to a report narrated by al-Waqidi, that the goat the Prophet (pbuh) milked with his noble hands continued to live for many years yielding abundant milk. There are many reports in this regard which shouldn’t come as a surprise, for it is naturally due to the blessing of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

Umm Ma’bad is described as a famous, chaste, strong and courageous woman. Her description of the Prophet (pbuh) is so eloquent, that after fourteen centuries, her words and expressions used to describe the Prophet (pbuh) are still being studied at the universities. Native Arab speakers would pick up their dictionaries to understand and explain her eloquent expressions!

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