Hafsa Bint Umar (rta)

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Name: Hafsa

Father: Umar Ibn al Khattab

Mother: Zainab Bint Maizun

Tribe: Banu Adi

Clan: Qurtafish

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.

Ummul-Mumineen Sauda (rta)

Ummul-MumineenName: Sauda

Father: Zama bin Qays

Mother: Shamoos binte Qays

Clan: Quraish

Tribe: Aamer bin Lawee

Birth: Not known

Death: 22 Hijri

Sauda binte Zama binte Qays (rta) was the second wife of the Prophet (sa). The death of Khadija (rta) had left the Prophet (sa) grief stricken and lonely. Khawlah, (rta) wife of Uthman bin Mazoon (rta), suggested to the Prophet (sa) that he needed a companion to help him run his house and look after his children. She proposed the name of Sauda (rta).

Sauda (rta) and her first husband Sakrtan bin Umro were among the first converts to Islam. They were forced to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to escape persecution of the Makkans.

Sauda returned home after many years. Her husband had died, and she was now living with her aged father. She was middle-aged, rather plump, with a jolly, kindly disposition, and just the right person to take care of the Prophet’s (sa) household and family. So the Prophet (sa) agreed to send her a proposal. Khawla arranged the marriage, and Sauda (rta) came to the Prophet’s (sa) household on the 10th of Ramadan Nabawi.

Critics of Islam, who particularly target the Prophet’s (sa) personal life and character, have tried to suggest that Sauda (rta) was not treated well by him. As the Prophet’s (sa) Nikkah to Aisha (rta) followed immediately after his marriage to Sauda (rta), these hawks like to draw parallels in their relationships. The youthful Aisha (rta) is pitted against the elderly Sauda (rta), as if there was enmity and hostility between them. They try to sell a warped version of the truth that the Prophet (sa) cast Sauda (rta) aside in the favor of Aisha (rta) and threatened her with divorce. Hence, the poor old Sauda (rta) was cornered into giving her day with the Prophet (sa) to Aisha (rta)! Authentic sources present a completely different picture.

Ibn Kathir says: “There was great surprise in Makkah that the Prophet would choose to marry a widow, who was neither young nor beautiful. As Sauda aged, the Prophet became worried that she might be upset about having to compete with so many younger wives; therefore, he offered to divorce her. She said that she would give her night to Aisha (rta), of whom she was very fond, because she only wished to be the Prophet’s (sa) wife on the Day of Rising. She lived on until the end of Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s time. She and Aisha (rta) always remained very close.”

Aisha (rta) said: “Never did I find any woman more loving to me than Sauda bint Zama. I wished I could be exactly like her, who was passionate.” As she became old, she had made over her day (which she had to spend) with Allah’s Messenger (sa) to Aisha. She said: “I have made over my day with you to Aisha.” So Allah’s Messenger (sa) allotted two days to Aisha – her own day (when it was her turn) and that of Sauda. (Muslim)

The remarkable quality of women in wanting to please their husbands is unfathomable to most of us today, especially to those, who judge every selfless act in the cold light of their own business style relationships – I do this for you, so what is in it for me? And let’s not forget that Sauda’s (rta) husband was no ordinary person – he was the Prophet (sa). She willingly made sacrifices for the privilege of being Ummul-Mumineen and expected nothing in return in this life.

Such was her devotion to the Prophet’s (sa) word that according to Abu Huraira (rta), after his death, she never left her house for Hajj, as the Prophet (sa) had asked his wives not to leave their homes in the sermon of Hujjatul-Wida. Sauda (rta) and Zainab Binte Jahash (rta) practiced this verbatim.

Sauda (rta) made her husband laugh. Sometimes she would walk in such a peculiar way that the Prophet (sa) would be amused. Once, she told him: “Last night, I prayed behind you. You did such a long Ruku that I thought my nose would bleed, so I held my nose all the while.” The Prophet (sa) smiled on hearing this.

We see in her character a lovely combination of selflessness, obedience, and piety as well as endearing humor and simplicity. These are the traits every woman, especially a wife, should aspire for.