We are told that women’s participation in battles was limited to nursing the wounded and bringing water to the soldiers. Here is a woman who participated in the Battles of Uhud, Khyber, Hunayn, Yamamah, and others. She entered the battlefield with no other intention than defending the Prophet (sa).
About her, the Prophet (sa) said: “From where can anyone get courage like you, O Umm Ammarah (rtaf)?”
Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) defense of Islam did not end with the Prophet’s (sa) passing away; when the Fitnah (trial) of apostasy emerged, she pledged her support to Abu Bakr (rtam). He acknowledged that she was indeed a strong and daring woman; hence, he allowed her to join the Muslim forces fighting the apostate Musalymah Kathab.
The Battle of Yamamah was the toughest battle that the Muslims faced. Musalymah had gathered a large army and was confident that he will wipe off Islam. They plan and Allah (swt) plans too, and Allah (swt) is the Best of planners.
Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) son Habeeb (rtam) was captured by Musalymah’s forces. Musalymah asked him if he testified Muhammad (sa) to be the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied in affirmation. Musalymah then asked if he testified that he (Musalymah) was a prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied that he could not hear. Again Musalymah asked if he believed Muhammad (sa) was the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) again replied in affirmation. Musalymah then repeated his question about his being a prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied that he could not hear. The show went on for some time, and Habeeb (rtam) remained firm in his replies.
Furious, Musalymah ordered body mutilation. With each limb being cut, Habeeb (rtam) was asked the same questions, and the heroic boy repeated the same answers, until he died.
Musalymah was later assassinated by none other than Habeeb’s (rtam) brother Abdullah Ibn Zayd (rtam).
The Zayd family was not only skilful in the battlefield, but Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) son Abdullah (rtam) and many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren became the narrators of Ahadeeth. They were equally passionate about acquiring and transferring knowledge, as they were about defending the Prophet (sa) in the field.
Lessons: Abu Bakr (rtam) did not oppose Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) request to join the army, because he had witnessed how skilful she was. When someone does not assign us a role, we blame the person and call him biased. But have we ever assessed our skills? Have we focused on developing ourselves and complaining less about people or our circumstances? A person who is able does not have to beg for attention, as his work speaks for him.
Umm Ammarah (rtaf) was sixty years old, but not even for a moment did she think of what use she could be. How many times have we limited ourselves or allowed others to restrict our potential? How many excuses do we have for staying behind in the service of Islam? What is our life’s mission?
Umm Ammarah (rtaf) did not raise her children in comfort and luxuries. She did not reserve the love for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) for herself alone. Rather, she transferred it to her children. It was this upbringing that made her children fearless. The entire family had one common goal: striving in the cause of Allah (swt), no matter what sacrifice it demanded. This was the family that truly lived by the verse: “Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists),” (Al-Anam 6:162)
When her son got injured in the field, she attended to his wounds and told him to get up and fight the enemy. When she was attacked, her sons defended her and dressed her wounds. When the news of her son’s disfigurement reached her, she was calm, because she knew Allah (swt) had purchased the lives of the believers in exchange for Paradise. She was not attached to the world. She knew their real home was in the hereafter.
Her tranquility was displayed in her words when news of Habeeb’s (rtam) mutilation reached her, and she said that for this day she had raised her sons. How would have we reacted? How do we react to daily news of violence? How are we raising our children?
Umm Ammarah (rtaf) loved studying the Quran and the Ahadeeth and taught her children the same. Their love for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) was so pure that Allah (swt) chose from them Hadeeth narrators. Do our children know who Allah (swt) is, who the Prophet (sa) was, what his Sunnah is, and how much he cried for us? Is their love for Allah (swt) and His Beloved (sa) apparent in their conduct? Is our Dawah limited to the people ‘outside’ our homes?
Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat