Lessons of Wisdom from Hind bint Amr (ra)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe was the sister of Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) who was the father of the famous Hadeeth narrator Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra). Her husband Amr ibn Jamuh (ra) was the leader of Yathrib (old name of Madinah) and was from the nobles of the Ansar (the helpers of Madinah).

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 Quranic 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 then felt insecurity 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 the 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 in trash. Second 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.

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.

Seeing Amr (ra) 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 Ta’awuth and Surah Al-Fatihah.

Amr (ra), as if speaking to himself commented that how eloquent, enticing and beautiful the words were. The son was overjoyed by his father’s statement. He affirmed that indeed that Makkan man’s entire talk was elegant, beautiful and exceptional and that Amr (ra) should meet the man himself. To entice the father furthermore, he added that all the other leaders of Madinah 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 right.

Our mistake is that when we meet a person who is committing some wrong, we start our conversation with taunts and criticism

At that moment, Amr (ra) testified the Oneness of Allah (swt) and recited the Islamic testimony of faith (Shahadah). That was a joyous moment for the family. Later that evening Musab ibn Umair (ra) was invited to their home, who then 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.

  • Hikmah of preaching

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) returned home feeling estranged, the family showed concern and inquired- although they knew it very well what grieved him. They treated him with 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.

Hind’s son did not pick a horrifying verse to abuse or scare the father away. Rather, he chose Surah Al-Fatihah

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 Quran — 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 (Al-Fatihah 1:3).

Finally, Hind (ra) respected the leader of the house. When the father asked if she had been keeping an eye on the sons, the mother replied in affirmative and then added that Muadh (ra) had heard something. She then requested the father to ascertain what he had learnt. In a way, she was putting the father in-charge- whether he found 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 Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

Hikmah (Wisdom)

Vol 5 - Issue 3 WisdomMichael de Montaigne once commented: “We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men’s wisdom.”

I find myself pondering upon this quotation often, especially when I am seeking to be wise about life and the challenges it throws my way. I also observe that in this day and age of extra-ordinary scholastic achievements and exposure to information and technology, wisdom is seldom found. It is not simply knowledge that produces wisdom. Knowledge is a collection of facts. Wisdom is how to apply knowledge. Further, it is a combination of other factors such as deep observation, far-sightedness, experiences, patience, endurance and a continuous quest for solutions that leads to insight and acumen.

The Arabic term for wisdom is Hikmah. In the Quran, it means the knowledge and the understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah and one’s ability to speak and act in the right way.

Allah (swt) states: “He grants Hikmah (wisdom) to whom He pleases, and he, to whom Hikmah (wisdom) is granted, is indeed granted abundant good.” (Al-Baqarah 2:269)

Apparently, wisdom is something bestowed upon a person by Allah (swt). A person may be learned, but it does not mean he is wise. The Prophet (sa), though unlettered, was an epitome of wisdom.

“Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and indeed Allah answered their invocation by sending Muhammad (sa)), who shall recite unto them Your Verses and instruct them in the Book (this Quran) and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom or Prophethood), and purify them. Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

This is further confirmed about the Prophet (sa) in Al-Baqarah 2:151 and in Al-Imran 3:164.

In the Prophet’s (sa) life, we find innumerable instances, when wisdom turned the tables. His silence, his speech, his anger and his restraint were all driven by wisdom that earned him unbelievable success in unfavorable circumstances.

Even prior to receiving his prophetic mission, he was requested to settle a dispute amongst the chiefs of Makkah. They were quarreling, as to who would be granted the honour of placing the black stone (Hajra Aswad) in the Kabah. The Messenger (sa) suggested a simple yet wise solution, which was acceptable to all and, thus, defused a volatile situation.

The Prophet (sa) also demonstrated wisdom in the most pressured times, such as at the time of Hudaibiyah, when the enemies drafted a pact that the companions were displeased with. However, amidst the mounting tension, they obeyed the Prophet’s (sa) decision to agree to the pact. Time proved, how that same pact worked in favour of Muslims, thus attesting to the Prophet’s (sa) wisdom and endurance.

What does it take to become wise? Is there a formula for it? And of all qualities in life, why should one seek wisdom? Does it pay to be wise? These are all pertinent questions.

Ibn Masud (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no envy except in two instances: a person, whom Allah has endowed with wealth and he spends it righteously, and a person, whom Allah has given Hikmah, and he judges by it and teaches it to others.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The intention of this article is to highlight the importance of Hikmah in our lives. How can wisdom bring back the long departed peace? Our superficial and self-centered lives are fleeting by. If today we were to capture the true essence of our achievements, most of us would be saddened to learn that we are living no better than animals – mainly for our base desires. We have no time to reflect or even listen.

Whether it is a domestic dispute or a judiciary one on a macro level, how many people can you find, who would give a sound counsel and settle disputes by giving meaningful guidance? Very few.

“They belied (the Verses of Allah – this Quran) and followed their own lusts. And every matter will be settled (according to the kind of deeds: good deeds will take their doers to Paradise, and similarly evil deeds will take their doers to Hell). And indeed there has come to them news (in this Quran) wherein there is (enough warning) to check (them from evil), Perfect wisdom (this Quran) – but (the preaching of) warners benefit them not. So, (O Muhammad (sa)) withdraw from them.” (Al-Qamar 54:3-6)

Seeking Hikmah is imperative, if we want to pursue true success now and in the Hereafter.

 “Hiba” conducted a poll to understand the dynamics of wisdom. Following are the answers we received from some participants:

1. What is wisdom?

Wisdom is the ability to see things as they are; to give everything just the right due. A wise person is able to recognize reality. It also means to make the right decision most of the times.

2. Is this quality God given or can be acquired?

It is acquired. However, only Allah (swt) can give Hikmah to someone… so the answer is ‘yes’ to both options. He Alone is Al-Hakim. And He Alone chooses to bestow wisdom to His servants; to some He gives more than others. For e.g. Sulaiman (as), Ibrahim (as), Luqman, Abu Bakr (rta), Ali (rta)etc.

3. If it is God given, then who does God give Hikmah to?

The person, who is humble, who meditates, yearns for guidance, shuns the world’s temptations and the self’s base desires and learns from mistakes by rectifying his behaviour. Also someone who is composed and not emotional or quick to temper as in such a state it is impossible to think and act rationally. God gives Hikmah to those, who contemplate; basically, those who want it.

4. If it can be acquired, what should one do to become wise?

Gain knowledge, do not indulge in any kind of excess, help others, lead a life with a higher purpose and do not give in to desires of the self. Also, wisdom is a product of time – very few young people are wise, although there are exceptions. Mostly, wisdom comes with life’s experiences.

To become wise, one must also ‘live perceptively.’ Contemplate on Allah’s Ayat (signs) both in the Quran and in the universe. Einstein was wise, because he studied science in depth and detail. He may not have reached the TRUTH (Haq) or chose to ignore it, but he definitely acquired wisdom.

To gain Hikmah, one needs to practice Sabr (patience), talk less and observe more, learn to listen to others, bear a positive attitude, give rights to Allah (swt) and people and, lastly, make much Dua for oneself to make the right decisions in life.

The company of wise teachers and role models is also imperative. Most importantly, following the Sunnah and reflecting upon the Quran’s Tafseer helps gain deeper understanding of life.

5. Lastly, does Hikmah help people in their day to day lives?

YES, it works wonders! Wise people make very few mistakes, have healthy relationships with everyone and enjoy tremendous peace of mind.

Hikmah was one of the things the Prophet (sa) taught. And the Prophet (sa) cultivated a pragmatic sense in his companions at all levels of their lives.