The daughter of Amr ibn Harith and the wife of Rawaha ibn Abdul Aziz Sulma, Tumadir (ra) was named so because of her extremely white complexion. She is also known as “Khansa” because of her flat and short nose. It was a title given to her by Rasoolullah (sa).
The Arabic Poetess
Tumadir (ra) was a woman of multiple qualities. She was courageous, determined, strong, intelligent, eloquent and beautiful. But what made her stand out was her poetry.
She had two brothers Sakhr and Muwaiya that she dearly loved. When they were murdered she recited elegiac verses that were later compiled as a Dewan. Whoever heard these verses would begin crying as well. Considered the best female poet in Arabic literature, her compositions have also been translated in the French language.
A Loving Sister
Tumadir (ra) was married to a rich man who did not know how to manage his wealth. His senseless spending led them to tatters. When he had wasted all his wealth, they approached Tumadir’s brother Sakhr for help. Her brother gathered all his belongings and divided them into two. He then asked his sister to choose whichever portion pleased her. They gathered the stuff and returned home. Soon they were back to their poverty. The generous brother again gathered his belongings, divided them into two and told his sister to take whichever portion pleased her. His wife complained, but the brother did not stop giving.
Therefore, when he passed away Tumadir (ra) commented: My brother was so generous with me that each time that we were in need he gathered all his wealth and divided it into two. Can’t I be generous with him in my mourning?
One day Umar (ra) asked her about the dark circles around her eyes. She replied that it was due to her crying. Umar (ra) reminded her that they were dwellers of hell. Tumadir (ra) replied earlier she used to cry on their murder and now she cries because they died as unbelievers.
Lessons to draw: What kind of siblings are we? Are we generous or stingy? Do we care about our siblings? And most importantly, do we care about their and our own hereafter?
Tumadir’s Conversion to Islam
Tumadir (ra) converted to Islam along with her sons when a delegation of her tribe visited the Prophet (sa). When the Prophet (sa) met Khansa (ra) he requested her to recite some poetry. He also testified to her being the greatest poet when a delegation from Banuti claimed to be the best.
Lessons to draw: The Prophet (sa) encouraged people for their distinctive talents and did not keep back from complimenting them.
Brave and Patient Mother
When the Battle of Qadsia was announced, her sons packed up to participate. Knowing that this might be her last meeting with her sons, Tumadir (ra) said,
“O my dear sons! You accepted Islam willingly and migrated on your choice. By Allah other than whom there is no real god, you are a son of man and a mother birthed you.
I neither cheated your father nor humiliated your maternal uncles and I did not let anything mix with your lineage. You know this very well, what great reward there is in fighting with the unbelievers. Know this too very well that the eternal house is better than the perishable house.
Allah (swt) says, ‘O you who believe! Endure and be more patient (than your enemy), and guard your territory by stationing army units permanently at the places from where the enemy can attack you, and fear Allah, so that you may be successful,’ (3: 200).
When you wake up in the morning with health and well-being then enter the battlefield while being conscious of fighting with your enemy. Enter with complete willingness and valour when the battle becomes intense. Then you will either succeed as a victor bringing along war booty or you will return to your Lord as His guest and as a martyr. In both the situations, success will kiss your feet.”
Her speech motivated the sons. They now knew they are to either return as a victor or a martyr. They were obedient to their mother and strong in their faith. These qualities made them fearless and determined. The Muslims won the battle, but Khansa (ra) lost all four of her sons.
While earlier, she violently mourned her brothers’ death, this time she neither tore off her clothes, beat her chest nor wailed. Her ignorance had ended with her conversion to Islam. She was a believer now. She knew that Islam did not accept such way of mourning.
While earlier, she recited elegiac poetry in her brother’s remembrance this time her words were different. She thanked Allah (swt) for choosing all four of her sons for martyrdom, and honouring her by it. She also prayed for His Rahmah and asked Him to allow her to enter Paradise with her sons.
Lessons to draw: This is called entering into enlightenment from ignorance. Her entire perspective about this life changed with her conversion to Islam. She was not angry at Allah’s decision. She did not lose her senses. Rather used this painful time to supplicate to Him.
(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)