Mamtur Al-Aswad: Student of the Companions in Bilad Ash-Sham

Mamtur Al-Aswad was from the 2nd generation or Tabi’in. He was also referred to as Abu Salam Al-Habashi (the Abyssinian) even though his roots are from the Himyar tribe in Yemen. In earlier generations, sometimes Arabs with light skin would be referred to anyone with darker skin as Habashi as Abu Salam was described. Perhaps Abu Salam contained maternal Habashi roots given that Yemen had been occupied by Abyssinians for years prior to the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).

Abu Salam was a student of learned companions of the Prophet (SAWS) including ‘Ubada bin As-Samit (RA), who was also black. He resided in Bilad Ash-Sham (Greater Syria) and relayed ahadith that he learned.

During the khilafah of Bani Umayyah under Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan, Muslims began to return back to tribal attachments in a strong way in which non-Arabs were seen as needing to be attached to an Arab tribe. In Tadhhib Al-Kamal by Al-Mizzi, it is stated that Mu’awiyah confronted the grandson of Abu Salam in Damascus, who was black in appearance, asking him who was his grandfather. He replied that it was Mamtur meaning Abu Salam. Mu’awiyah then asked him to who he was attached as if he was not an Arab. He then got angry with Mu’awiyah because he was an Arab.

Hamamah: One of the Early Female Companions

One of the early companions who sacrificed for the sake of Allah (SWT) was Hamamah Al-Habashiyyah (RA).

Hamamah was born in Abyssinia as a free person but was later enslaved by a man from Quraysh. While enslaved, she was able to marry Rabah, who was an Arab.

It is narrated that Abu ‘Umar stated in Al-Isbah by ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani that Hamamah was torture because of her belief in Allah (SWT), thus is a testimony that she was recognized as being Muslim. She was freed from slavery by Abu Bakr.

Abu Ali Al-Ghassani stated that this woman of honor was the mother of Bilal the Prayer Caller (RA), who the Prophet (SAWS) gave the title Master of the Prayer Callers (Sayyid Al-Mu’adhdhinin).

Hamidah: Virtuous Woman Attached to Ahl al-Bayt

Hamidah bint Sa’id (RA) was from the early generations of Muslims.  She was a black woman who was born from a mother who was enslaved.  Her ethnic background was Berber though there are conflicting narrations of whether she was born in North Africa or Muslim Spain.

Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq bin Muhammad Al-Baqir bin Ali As-Sajjad bin Al-Husayn As-Sibt bin Ali Al-Murtada bin Abi Talib (SA) proposed to Hamidah due to her intellect, manners and chastity.  It is reported that Imam As-Sadiq said to her, “You are praiseworthy in the world, and should be worthy of praise in the next-life.”

Hamidah gave birth to 4 children, with Imam As-Sadiq; those children were Imam Musa Al-Kathim (SA), Ishaq (SA), Muhammad Ad-Dibaj (SA) and Fatimah (SA).

It is reported that Hamidah was visited in a dream by the Prophet (SAWS) in which he (SAWS) told her to marry her son Musa Al-Kathim to Najmah Khatun, an enslaved lady who was Nubian.  Hamidah later emancipated Najmah from slavery, and her son Musa Al-Kathim then married Najmah.  Najmah later gave birth to Imam Ali Ar-Rida (SA).