Sahabiyyah for modern Muslim women (continues)
I previously wrote about Khadija bint Khuwaylid (r.a), who was known for her strength in character. We shall now look at another woman who is known for her physical strength.
Who is Nusaybah (r.a)?
She was a mujahidda - someone who strive in the path of Allah.
Why is she a role-mode?
Nusaybah was one of the many female Sahabiyyah who was known not only for her emotional strength but also for her physical prowess in the battlefield.
She had been married twice and all her sons were shaheeds (martyrs).
She was one of the 2 women from Al-Ansar who made the trip to Madina for umrah and to pledge her allegiance to the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)
What can we learn from her?
1. Courage and bravery is for women too
Umm Umara is known to have shown tremendous courage, and maybe the reason she is most known for is the fact that she has been described by the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as being one of the strongest people on the battlefield, particularly for the battle of Uhud.
She had participated in most of the battles during the prophet’s time and continued to support other battles after the death of the prophet (s.a.w).
The prophet said ‘whenever I looked to the right or left I saw her fighting in front of me’. She became the shield of the prophet Muhammad (saw) in the battle of Uhud .
The story goes that Nusabah was only meant to be handing out water in the battle of Uhud, and the prophet had given orders to the army to remain on the hills, but the army did not listen and as a result, the enemy took advantage of this and attacked. A lot of sahabas fled, many of whom were men. Seeing this, Nusaybah decided instead of picking buckets of water to pick up a sword and fight to save Allah’s messenger. She was fearless, she didn’t have a shield and did not care about her own safety- her priority was to protect the prophet at all cost, including her own life. The prophet never failed to compare her courage as being the better than men at the battle of Uhud.
When one of the male companions was running away to save his own life, the prophet (s.a.w) shouted to him to throw his shield to Nusaybah who so far had been fighting just with a sword and without a shield. This shows how much courage she did have indeed.
Nusaybah had many wounds in many a battle, but during the battle of Uhud she sustained 13 wounds, one of which was a very deep cut on her neck which took 1 whole year to heal.
In another battle, she lost her wrist and became disabled yet that did not stop her to fight with other parts of her body.
This is a true imagery of courage and bravery and shows us how to face adversity in life, be it at work, in the house or outside.
2. Sacrificing in the cause of Allah
Nusaybah stands for sacrifice - the moment she became a Muslim, she dedicated to sacrifice everything in her life to Islam , including her own children.
During the battle of Uhud, many men fled and only around 10 people stayed behind to protect the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and 40% of the people who stayed belonged to Nusaybah’s family. The story does not speak about 40% being part of a man’s family but of a woman’s family. This shows how strong of a woman she was, that the men in her family was recognised by her presence!
Nusaybah had 3 sons who all became shaheeds. Upon hearing about the death of her son Habib, she is reported to have said ‘it was for such a situation I prepared them’- meaning she raised them to be sacrificed in the way of Allah.
Habib was sent by the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as a messenger to Musaylam Al Khazaab- a powerful imposter who claimed prophethood. Along with Habib, another sahaba was sent. When they got Musaylam, he asked them 2 questions repeatedly:
‘Who is Muhammad?’
‘Who am I?’
The first sahaba, fearing for is life replied you are a messenger of Allah to Musaylam.
Habib, well-trained by his mum, on the other hand was not scared. He was merely a messenger but he was not going to deny the truth.
He answered Muhammad (s.a.w) is the messenger of Allah.
And for the second question, his reply was always ‘I can’t hear you.’
Every time he said I can’t hear you, Musaylam ordered for him to be cut in pieces. And yet, he had the same answer everytime, and when they were done cutting him, they burnt him.
Rather than feeling sadness upon hearing that, Nusaybah was proud of her son and knew she had raised him right. She set the example for all mothers.
She was not the mother of just one shaheed but of 3. Her dua (prayer) was for her and her family to be reunited in Jannah with the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). Dua which the prophet confirmed to be accepted.
Her other son Abdullah finally in the end killed Musaylam and avenged the death of his brother. Allah gave her this right in the Dunya ( this world) itself for justice rather than in Akhirah.
Her sons Abdullah and Damra also died in other battles.
What could be more important to a mother than the life of her children? Yet this woman did not flinch to sacrifice her own flesh and blood in the way of Allah.
3. Resilience and steadfastness is a sign of womanhood
She was steadfast- even after many injuries and battles she did not give up. She carried on fighting for Islam, losing her own body part, losing her own children- yet she never gave up.
In one of the battles, her son got hurt and the prophet (s.a.w) ordered her to go and tend to him, which she did dutifully. Once her son was in a better position, she said to him ‘get up and fight’. She loved her children and she cared for them, but she was a Muslim before everything else.
The prophet is reported to have said to her following all her injuries and losses, ‘Who can bear what you can bear Umm Umara?’
The prophet himself was amazed by her bravery and courage. No, he was not praising a man, but a woman for being physically and emotionally strong.
4. Having priorities is a must
At the battle of Uhud, she was meant to be merely handing out water to the fighters. She knew what her ‘job’ was but when she saw the men deserting the prophet (s.a.w) - she also knew what her priority was. Her aim and objective was to protect the life of the prophet (s.a.w) and Islam. So, instead of doing her ‘job’. She took the initiative proactively to defend the prophet (s.a.w) instead.
There is a saying- we need to choose our battles and this is exactly what she did.
5. Show our love for Allah and his prophet (s.a.w)
There is no denying her love for Allah and his prophet (s.a.w). The prophet saw this through out his life and so did his companions. This woman who was picking a sword for the first time stood without armour and shield and sustained injury after injury just to protect the prophet (s.a.w) when most men had deserted him to save their own lives!
How many people will sacrifice themselves for the deen? We cannot even sacrifice anything as our love for our nafs are so strong. We mould ourselves to please people rather than Allah and his messenger.
6. We should earn the respect of both men and women
She was not only respected and admired by the women but also by the men. After the death of the prophet (s.a.w) she and her family carried on to play important roles in Islam. She earned, gave and commanded respect. She showed not only a woman has intelligence but also physical strength when and as required.
She is a role model for all of us women to teach our daughters to take on martial arts and other physical activities to make them stronger. She showed us that not only men are fighters, but women can too- we not only can defend ourselves but others too! After all, she is the one who protected the prophet (s.a.w) with Allah’s permission.
7. Women’s rights
Nusaybah was not only fierce on the battlefield, but she was also sharp with her tongue.
She told the Prophet (s.a.w) that she is only hearing about men in the Quran then the following verse 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 women who are patient, the men and women who are humble, the men and women who give Sadaqat (Zakat), the men and women who observe fast, the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts), and the men and women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (Paradise)’ (33:35)
Don’t be scared to ask Allah and complain about your situation. He is ever-listening and have hope your dues and complaints are being heard by the one who can make everything possible.
Possibly, she is the first woman to ask for women’s right!
7 things we can learn form Umm Umara/Nusaybah bit Ka’ab
- Courage and bravery is for women too
- Sacrificing in the cause of Allah
- Resilience and steadfastness is a sign of womanhood
- Having priorities is a must
- Show our love for Allah and his prophet (s.a.w)
- We should earn the respect of both men and women
- Women’s rights