She was the daughter of Yazid ibn Sakan and Aqrab bint Muath. Saad ibn Muath (ra), a close companion of the Prophet (sa) was her maternal uncle. Her husband was Qais ibn Khateem.
Her Concern for Her Husband’s Activities
Hawa bint Yazid (ra) is among those forerunners who embraced Islam in its early days. While the Prophet (sa) was still in Makkah, she embraced Islam in Madina. Her husband’s being a poet worried Hawa (ra). Each time that she read: “As for the poets, the erring ones follow them. See you not that they speak about every subject (praising people – right or wrong) in their poetry,” (Qur’an 26: 224-225), she asked Allah (swt) for his guidance. She wanted to share her spiritual feelings and thoughts with her spouse. She prayed that Allah (swt) might guide him just as He had guided her.
She admired the Companions of the Prophet (sa), and wondered why her husband could not be like them. There were Hasaan ibn Thabith (ra) and Abdullah ibn Rawahah (ra) who were near to the Prophet (sa) because of their praiseworthy poetry. They promoted Islam with their compositions. Her husband’s vulgar poetry would upset her; he had no share in the defence and promotion of Islam. He spent his life in play and amusement. He preferred misguidance over guidance.
Lessons to draw: There are some poets like Allama Muhammad Iqbal who use their power of pen for noble cause. This poet of the East was blessed by Allah (swt) with immense wisdom and reverence for his Creator. He acknowledged the true reality of this life and our insignificant position before Allah (swt). He knew we were not created purposelessly. We have a highly important role to play. He raised voice for the weak and oppressed. His poetry awakened the dead souls. Then there are those kinds of poets who do not give much thought to what they are composing. They only want poetry to be pleasing to the ears. In doing so, they might even commit Shirk (association of partners with Allah swt) and invite people to do haram (impermissible acts). A writer or a poet must be really careful about where they are putting their energies, and what their pen is promoting. May we be a source of goodness for ourselves, our families and others, and neither choose haram for ourselves nor call others to it, ameen.
Her Love for Her Chosen Religion
Like other early Muslims, Hawa (ra) concealed her conversion. She feared unkind treatment from her husband. Her story is similar to that of Aasiya (as), the wife of Pharaoh. Hawa (ra) gave precedence to her faith over everything else. She became fearless. She desired dying upon the true religion than dying upon idolatry.
While she tried her best to conceal her faith from her husband, she could not do so for long. One cannot hide their acts of worship with the people that they live with. One can drop in at the time for Prayer and see the Muslim member praying a prayer different from theirs. The family can be seated for meal and the Muslim member does not eat anything because they are fasting. Same happened with Hawa (ra). One day her husband saw her praying. Then he saw her reading something on a leather and date skin. She was reciting words that he had never heard before. He found it strange.
When Qais understood that what Hawa (ra) was reciting was the Qur’an, his ego was invoked. This woman embraced Islam without my permission? Recall what Pharaoh said to the magicians when they said: “We believe in the Lord of Harun (Aaron) and Musa (Moses),” (Qur’an 20: 70). He said, “Believe you in him [Musa (Moses)] before I give you permission?” (Qur’an 20: 71). A person who has tasted faith does not wait for someone’s permission. They follow their heart and submit before Allah (swt).
Qais did not wait for his wife to complete her Prayer. While she was prostrating he raised her up and threw her on the floor. He then laughed callously; feeling no remorse. The same act was repeated the next day too. Hawa (ra) remained patient. She could do nothing in her defence than weep and ask Allah (swt) for help. She prayed for her freedom and delightful moments. She prayed for strength to overpower her heartless husband.
Her husband continued his torture and mistreatment. He was distant from the Creator. His heart was void of any fear or moral values. But what happens when one truly relies upon their Creator’s bounty and grace? He paves the way for them. Qais’s torturing of his wife became the talk of the town. Every house and tongue was talking about his cruel behaviour. Escaping the bounds of Madina, the news soon reached Makkah – to the Prophet (sa).
Lessons to draw: Often when we begin practicing Islam, we label everyone else misguided. We call them to Islam in a condescending way. The young girl who does not wear hijab is told she is from the people of hellfire. Hawa (ra) was married to a tyrant. While she desired his guidance she is not even once disrespectful to him. When she is tested, she places her complaint before her Lord not the people. She only relies on Him. And He makes the way for her. Many times when we are tested, we only cry but do not invoke Allah (swt) for help and ease. We should take our complaints to the most Powerful.
(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)