Over the past 3-4 years, I have been actively seeking and trying to learn from the lives of Muslims of the past. Even more so from the lives of Muslim women.
What were their goals, aspirations, how they conducted themselves through the highs and lows of life? Most importantly how do I derive lessons from their lives and apply in my own challenges which come with living as a Muslimah in these times?
The thing is with the toxic patriarchy rampant at large, the image of a Muslim woman sold to us is of her catering to men. A woman who is to be seen and not heard and unquestionably subdued. This in turn made it very difficult for me in embracing my identity as a Muslim woman.
But when I study these women from the past, I find them so bold and invariably aware of their rights as well as their duties. These women were so versatile in their character and traits. Whereas we mostly have seen mere aggrandizing of modesty and obedience in stories of Muslim women in history.
Not downplaying the importance of these traits in any way. After all, these are valuable traits to have as a believer and we should try to strive to reach the level these women had in these traits. Insha’Allah.
But what’s important to note is that they were also so much more than that. Yes, they were devout homemakers, mothers, and wives, so very comfortable in their feminity. Yet despite all their roles, they were also intellectuals, scholars, warriors, and fighters.
Reading up on these stories, I feel many of their stories haven’t been done enough justice.
And one such story which hasn’t been told and honored enough is the story of Umm ‘Umarah – Nusaybah bint Ka’b.
Umm Umarah was an Ansariyyah (from Madinah). She is known for her courage and bravery on the battlefields.
Amongst the 72 people, she was one of the two women present in Bai’t-ul-‘Aqabah thaniah (you can read more about it in books on Seerah of the Prophet).
She also participated in the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of Hunain, the war of Yamamah, and the Treaty of Hudaibiyah.
The Prophet ﷺ himself praised her for her valour and courage. In the battle of Uhud the Prophet ﷺ said in whichever direction he turned, he saw her defending and protecting him. Her sons and husband were amongst those defending the Prophet ﷺ in the Uhud when chaos prevailed.
She and her son, Abdullah bin Umm Umarah were inflicted with serious injuries in the battle of Uhud. Yet they kept fighting back with full determination and strength.
The Prophet ﷺ was so impressed with their courage on the battlefield that he invoked Allah’s blessings on the family. He prayed for them to be his friends in Jannah.
Later after the life of Prophet ﷺ, Umm Umarah also participated in battle against Musailamah, who falsely claimed Prophethood. In this battle, she sustained various injuries and her arm was severed. Her son Habib bin Zaid Ansari was also martyred, slain by Musailamah himself.
Her other son, ‘Abdullah bin Zaid was martyred in the Battle of Hurrat.
Apart from her valor and courage in the battlefield, she was also very learned in the Quran and Hadith. She was involved in the training of women in Madinah and held a special status amongst the sahabiyat.
Another thing from her life which definitely deserves mentioning is once she asked the Prophet ﷺ that in the Noble Qur’an only men were mentioned and women were often deprived of any importance. Upon which this Ayah was revealed.
“Verily, the Muslims men and women, the believers men andQur’an (33:35)
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 Sadaqdt (i.e. Zakat 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).”
Later after Prophet ﷺ she was also greatly honoured by Abu Bakr As-Siddique and Umar ibn Khattab.
What do I learn from her life story?
Her devotion to deen and our Prophet ﷺ truly knew no bounds. Her courage and valour are really inspiring and it does really serve to strengthen one’s faith. Having said that, here are the following lessons I take away from her life:
- When one fears truly fears Allah, it makes us fearless of anything else.
- Love for Allah and His Prophet should come above the love of anything in this life. Even yourself and your family.
- Her courage in the battlefield shows that we should defend the honor of the Prophet in all spheres of our lives, to the best of our capabilities.
- Forbearance is a valuable virtue and can take you a long way.
- I have learned from her story the importance of seeking knowledge. Especially as a woman living in these times if we don’t go back to learning knowledge from the real and authentic sources, we won’t know our true rights and duties. This will in turn make us very vulnerable to being oppressed as well as being swayed by other ideologies out there.
- As mothers, we should raise our children on the true values and principles of Islam so they can be of service to our deen and our communities.
- The importance of physical fitness and self defence strategies no matter what age and what gender you are.
- As is apparent from the ayat that was revealed in her response to her query to the Prophet, both men and women will not be differentiated based on their genders but judged only on basis of moral and spiritual gains.
What lessons do you learn from her story?
In these times while we are looking for stories to build confidence in ourselves and our children, don’t you think the story of Nusaybah deserves more attention? It’s one story I really like going back to restore my faith in what I can be as a Muslim woman.
May Allah bless us all with such courage, self-sacrifice and perseverance. Ameen
To discover more inspiring life lessons the life stories of other young sahabah and women companions (sahabiyat) written by other dedicated muslimah bloggers, please follow the links below. Happy Reading!
- Reflections From The Life Of Usamah Ibn Zaid Radiallahu Anhum By Umm.Afraaz
- Benefits from the Life of Abdullah Ibn Masood By Level 10 Muslimah Life Coaching
- The Virtues of Asma Bint Abi Bakr by Adeeba Jafri
- Abdullah Ibn Abbas The Young Scholar by Ilma Education
- 6 Inspiring Lessons From The Life Story Of Anas Bin Malik (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) by Knowledge Dunes
Story referenced from Great Women of Islam by Darusalam publications.