Father: Umar Ibn al Khattab
Mother: Zainab Bint Maizun
Tribe: Banu Adi
Hafsa (rta) was her father’s daughter. Aisha (rta) said: “Constancy was Umar’s over whelming characteristic, and the same was true about Hafsa.” She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and she did so with knowledge and conviction, not merely for the sake of being heard.
Once, the Prophet (sa) said about the Companions of Badar and Hudaybiya: “I can hope, God willing, they will not enter Hell.” Hafsa (rta) retorted: “But they might, Ya Rasool Allah,” and she quoted from the Quran, “There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is with your Lord; a Decree which must be accomplished.” (Maryam 19:71) The Prophet (sa) could not help smiling and was pleased at her sharp intellect. He replied with the verse: “Then We shall save those who used to fear Allah and were dutiful to Him. And We shall leave the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) therein (humbled) to their knees (in Hell).” (Maryam 19:72) (Ahmad)
Hafsa (rta) was first married to Khunais Ibn Hudhaifah, but was widowed at only eighteen. Umar (rta) asked both Abu Bakr (rta) and Uthman (rta) to marry her, but they both declined. When Umar (rta) went to the Prophet (sa) to complain about their behaviour, the Prophet (sa) smiled and said: “Hafsa will marry one better than Uthman and Uthman will marry one better than Hafsa.” Umar (rta) was delighted, when he realized that the Prophet (sa) was asking for her hand in marriage! (Bukhari)
Hafsa (rta) became the Prophet’s (sa) fourth wife. Sawda (rta) welcomed her with open arms, but Aisha (rta) was jealous at first. Like herself, Hafsa (rta) was an intelligent, educated and beautiful woman, who eagerly learned from the Prophet (sa). In the course of time, however, Hafsa (rta) and Aisha (rta) became close friends.
Hafsa (rta) liked to discuss religious issues with her husband, who allowed her to say what she thought. One day, while speaking to Hafsa’s mother, Umar (rta) said: “I think I shall do so and so.” She replied: “But it would be better, if you did such and such.” “Are you arguing with me, woman?” said Umar (rta), who did not expect his wives to talk back to him. “Why not?” she answered. “Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah.” Umar (rta) immediately put on his cloak and went to his daughter’s house. “Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?” he asked. “Indeed, I do,” she replied. Umar (rta) was just about to chastise her for what he considered were bad manners, when the Prophet (sa) came into the room and would not allow it.
Hafsa’s (rta) sharp tongue never stooped down to being insolent with her husband. On one occasion, when she did not quite control herself and told the Prophet’s (sa) private matter to Aisha (rta), a direct reprimand came from Allah (swt) in the Quran – known as the incidence of Tehreem. Such was the responsibility on her shoulders, and she fulfilled it in spite of her quick temperament.
We tend to think that the Ummahat Al-Mumineen were other than human or docile little women, who had no will or mind of their own. Hafsa’s (rta) personality comes across as very wilful and strong. Yet, we see, how she took a grip of herself and controlled her innate nature, in order to please Allah (swt) and her husband. A valuable lesson for all women and, indeed, men as well – if Hafsa (rta), Umar’s (rta) daughter, could tame her ego and temper just like her father did, why can’t we?
Hafsa (rta) memorized the entire Quran by heart. She prayed at night and fasted during day. This piety must have helped her in her Tazkiya (purification of the heart) and brought out the best in her.
Hafsa (rta) lived with the Prophet (sa) in Madinah for eight years and lived on for another thirty four years after his death. She witnessed with joy the victories and expansion of Islam under her father’s guidance, and with sorrow the troubles that beset the Muslim community after the murder of Uthman (rta). She died at the age of sixty-three.