Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 12 - Umm Umarah, defending Prophet (pbuh) in Uhud

Umm 'Umarah - Nusaybah bint Ka'b

An exemplary woman, a lot can be learned from the life of Umm Umarah - whose actual name was Nusaybah bint Ka'b. Umm 'Umarah, an exceptionally brave Ansariyyah, lived during the times of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and participated in several wars with the Holy Prophet and later in the days of the Caliphate.

She was also exceptionally patient - Her two sons were martyrs of Islam and her brother Abdullah bin K'ab was a Companion of the Holy Prophet. Her story shows us that bravery of women was treated as equal to that of men's battle-field skills in the early Islamic days. 
Like Shifa bint Abdallah, Umm Umarah was also another example of an intellectual woman, who was very learned in the Qur'an and Hadith. She swore allegiance to the Holy Prophet. (amongst seventy two people and one other woman from Medina) who said there would be no difference in the terms of allegiance between men and women.

Stories from the battle-field:
Umm 'Umarah took part in the Second Bait-ul-'Aqabah, the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of Hunayn, the war of Yamamah, and the Treaty of Hudaybiyah.
During the battle of Uhud, she was astonishingly skilfull with the sword and The Prophet said that in whichever direction he turned in the battlefield he could see her defending and protecting him.
When the Muslim army was on the verge of defeat, Umm Umarah joined her two sons and husband in surrounding the Holy Prophet (pbuh) on foot while the enemy was on horsebacks. 

When one of the enemies attacked her she defended herself with her shield and then pulled on the bridle of the horse to turn it around and attacking the horse back with her sword. Seeing this, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) called out to 'Abdullah bin Umm 'Umarah to help his mother so that together with her son, she finished off the enemy soldier.
At one point, Abdullah was injured in the left arm and began losing a lot of blood. The Prophet (pbuh) told him to immediately bandage his wound. Umm 'Umarah bandaged her son but told him not to give-up against the enemy. On seeing her and her son's courage, it is known that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) remarked:
'From where can anyone get courage like you, O Umm 'Umarah?'

When the man who had injured Abdullah approached Umm 'Umarah who was standing in front of the Prophet (pbuh), The Holy Prophet pointed out to her that this was the man who had injured her son. Umm Umarah struck a powerful blow with her naked sword cutting off his leg, making the man fell face down.
During this battle she sustained at least twelve major wounds; the deepest one being on her shoulder was so severe that it had fainted her and it took a year for it to heal. On regaining consciousness her first concern was for the well being of the Prophet (pbuh).

Women also get a share in the victory:

Along with Umm Umarah, twenty women took part in the Battle of Khyber and on triumph women received a share of the booty of war. Umm 'Umarah got expensive dresses and jewellery and two Dinars. In the Battle of Hunayn as well she had fought valiantly and received some part of the booty.

Patience in sacrifice
The Prophet (pbuh) sent Umm 'Umarah's son, Habib bin Zaid to Musaylamah Al-Kadthab, with the message of Allah. Against diplomatic norms, Musaylamah tied Habib bin Zaid to a pillar and demanded to testify in the Prophethood of Muhammad to which Habib did. When asked if he also testified that he, Musaylamah, was also the messenger of Allah. Habib replied that he was deaf and could not hear him. When Musaylamah repeatedly asked this and Habib repeatedly gave the same response, Musaylamah gradually first cut off Habib bin Zaid's body parts and then martyred him. Umm 'Umarah showed exemplary patience at the receipt of this news.

During the days of Caliph Abu Bakar and Umar:
At sixty years of age, Umm Umarah joined the army that was sent by Caliph Abu Bakr Siddiq to challenge Musaylamah. Umm 'Umarah was also in the army. Abdullah bin Zaid was also with her in this army and he was responsible for finally killing the arched enemy of Islam, Musaylamah. During this battle, Umm Umarah lost her arm her arm and sustained eleven injuries but the happiness that thr defeat of Musaylamah brought her subdued any grief she might have over her own loss.

A questioning mind:
One of my favorite incidents from Umm Umarah's story shows how women participated in critical religious thinking and intellectual pursuit from the times of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Once Umm 'Umarah told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that in the Noble Quran only men were mentioned and women were often deprived of any importance.

Then this Ayah was revealed.

"Verily, the Muslims men and women, the believers men and women, the men and the women who are obedient (to Allah), the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the men and the women who are humble, the men and the women who give Sadaqat (i.e. Zakah and alms), the men and the women who observe fast, the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise)." [Noble Quran 33:35]

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