She was the sister of Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) who was the father of the famous hadith narrator Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra). Her husband Amr ibn Jamuh (ra) was the leader of Yathrib (old name of Madina) and was from the nobles of the Ansar (the helpers of Madina).
Conversion to Islam
Hind (ra) converted to Islam along with her sons through the dawah efforts of Musab ibn Umair (ra). Her husband, like other ignorant leaders, had installed an idol in his house that he used to worship and sacrifice animals for. One day he purchased a sturdy piece of wood and instructed a woodworker to craft an idol for him. This idol, named Manat, was dressed in fine clothing and pleasantly perfumed.
Like many early Muslims, Hind (ra) kept her conversion a secret. She was waiting for an appropriate time to break the news to her husband. Her sons regularly attended the gatherings of Musab ibn Umair (ra) and later shared the knowledge of the Qur’anic verses with their mother. Amr (ra) remained unaware of what was happening in his house. He only began to worry when more and more people entered Islam. He now felt endangered for his family. He instructed Hind (ra) to keep a close watch on their sons that they do not meet the man from Makkah and get spoilt by his teachings. Hind (ra) assured him to not worry and to keep his heart free from apprehensions about them.
While at one end, the father was instructing the mother to keep a close watch on the sons, on the other end the sons worried for their father’s faith. Muadh ibn Amr (ra) shared his concerns with a close friend and they plotted a plan to get their father off idol worshipping. It was decided that Muadh ibn Jabl (ra) will help the brothers in throwing the idol in a trash can. Amr (ra) was fast asleep when this plan was carried out. The next day when he woke up, as per his routine, he entered the room where the idol was kept. Not finding it there he vehemently demanded where it was. The mother and the sons replied that they had no idea where it had gone.
Amr (ra) went out of the house and fetched the idol. Seeing it lying on trash, he brought it home, cleaned it and applied fragrance. He vowed to take revenge from the culprit. The mother and the sons looked at Amr (ra) in disbelief: was he really talking to a piece of wood? He was apologising to it while it could neither hear him nor speak.
He then brought a sword and hung it around Manat’s neck. He told the idol that it was for its defence, in case it was attacked again.
When the father had gone to sleep, the sons again, with the help of Muadh ibn Jabl (ra), picked up the idol and threw it on trash. This time they tied a dead dog to the wooden piece and returned home.
The next day when Amr (ra) woke up and did not find Manat in its room, he again screamed and shouted and went out to find the idol. When he saw that it was again lying on trash and a dead dog was wrapped around its neck and that the idol did not defend itself, Amr (ra) conceded that the idol did not deserve his respect. It was content with its own dishonour. He left the idol on the trash and returned home feeling estranged.
Seeing him anguished, the family inquired what the matter was. Amr (ra) did not reply to the question. He sighed deeply and asked the mother if she had been keeping a close watch on the sons. The mother assured him that the sons had acted upon her instructions. However, she quickly added that their son Muadh (ra) had a meeting with the Makkan preacher Musab (ra) and had learnt some things. She suggested that Amr (ra) should call him and inquire what he had learnt.
Amr (ra) at once called Muadh (ra). Muadh (ra) came and the father inquired if he had memorised anything from the Makkan preacher (ra). The son replied in affirmation. The father then asked the son to share something. Muadh (ra) recited the Tawuth (isti’adaah) and Surah al-Fatihah.
Amr (ra) as if speaking to himself said how eloquent, enticing and beautiful the words were. The son was overjoyed by his father’s statement. He affirmed that indeed that man’s entire talk was elegant, beautiful and exceptional and that Amr (ra) should meet the man himself. As if to entice the father, he added that all the other leaders of Madina had been visiting Musab (ra) and embracing Islam. They had preceded Amr (ra). Hind (ra) also encouraged her husband to meet the Makkan preacher (ra). Amr (ra) said that he needed to take advice from his idols. Muadh (ra) immediately reminded his father if he was to take advice from a dumb and deaf piece of wood. Amr (ra) was offended by his son’s comment, but then admitted that it was indeed the truth. The wood was void of intellect and emotions. He then looked at his family and asked for their views. The family was startled, but quickly agreed that Amr (ra) was, in fact right.
In that moment, Amr (ra) testified the Oneness of Allah (swt) and recited the Islamic testimony of faith (shahadah). This was a joyous moment for the family. Later that evening Musab ibn Umair (ra) was invited home who purified the house from the filth of associating partners with Allah (swt).
Lessons to draw: There are several lessons in this story. When Hind (ra) became a Muslim she did not break the news to her husband at once. Despite having the support of adult sons, she waited for an appropriate time to approach Amr (ra). She hoped that he might embrace Islam on his own and the relations between them will not be severed. She was not only doing tarbiyah of her sons that they should be respectful towards their father, but also did not spoil the home environment.
We need to reflect on our attitudes when we learn something new and how we preach it to others. First, we must gain firmness in what we have learnt and then pass it on to others. Show them by practicing not by preaching. Melt their hearts first. Give them space to understand. Secondly, “plan” how you are going to preach. Hind (ra) and her sons first sketched a plan that how they could convince Amr (ra) that what he was following was wrong.
Thirdly, when Amr (ra) returns home feeling estranged the family shows concern and asks although they knew it very well what grieved him. They treated him with expected respect and care even when he was upset about a wrong matter. Our mistake is that when we meet a person who is committing some wrong we start our conversation with taunts and criticism. Unless we show some compassion how can the other person trust our opinion? Gain the support first, so that he can open up his heart to understand what you want to tell him.
Another hikmah of preaching is that Hind’s son did not pick a horrifying verse to abuse or scare the father away. Rather, he chose Surah al-Fatihah — the Opening Surah of the Qur’an — that introduces us to Allah (swt). Generally, we invite people to Islam by scaring them with the punishment of the Hereafter. Even to the babies and toddlers we introduce Allah (swt) by telling them how intense His punishments are whereas Allah (swt) introduces Himself to us by choosing His attributes of mercy: Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem (1: 3).
Finally, Hind (ra) respected the leader of the house. When the father asks if she had been keeping an eye on the sons, the mother replies in affirmative then adds that Muadh (ra) had heard something. She then requests the father to ascertain what he had learnt. In a way, she was putting the father in-charge whether he finds it fit for the family or not. She did not say I have checked it and I find it alright. She gave reverence to the husband’s position in the house.
When the parents fail to give respect to one another, the silent observers — the children — grow up disrespecting their parents. Family matters should be dealt with utmost respect and wisdom thinking about the children as well.
(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)