Before I begin, I want to share that this discusses torture and murder so please only continue if you are okay to read about these topics.
This is a woman who suffered so much because she became Muslim and was eventually murdered by Abu Jahal. Sumayyah is the Aasiyah of our Ummah and she was murdered by the firawn of our ummah. She was about 60 years old when she died. We don’t know much about her life except after she became Muslim.
She was an Abyssinian woman, from modern day Ethiopia, and was a slave woman to one of the most powerful tribes of Makkah. Her master gave her in marriage to Yasir, who was under the protection of the tribe. She had a son, Amar, who was around the same age as the Prophet (pbuh).
The tribe that her family were in service to were the people who were most resistant to Islam and the Prophet (pbuh). When she became Muslim she was 60 and one of the first seven people to accept Islam publicly. Because she was a slave she had no protection or status to protect her and her master tortured her to try to get her to stop being Muslim.
TW: discussions of torture
She was forced to wear mailcoats under the blazing sun and was beaten publicly to deter others from becoming Muslim. She was tortured in many ways from physical torture of beatings, whips and more but also emptionally tortured by being forced to watch her husband and son (who also became Muslim) being tortured. They all had to watch each other being tortured and because of they were slaves there was no one to stand up for them.
They couldn’t even be bought by anyone to free them from this torture as their tribe refused to sell them. They experimented with different torture techniques on her but she refused to say that she would stop being Muslim or insult the Prophet (pbuh). When they tortured her she would respond with remembrance of Allah.
When she became Muslim she said to the Prophet (pbuh): I bear witness that you are the messenger of Allah and that your promise is true.
This is what she held onto as she was being tortured. Because she refused to do what they wanted when they tortured her, they became more and more angry with her. Eventually Abu Jahal became so mad with her that he speared her, killing her in front of her family. She was the first person to die for Islam. She may have spent her whole life as a slave and spent her last days being tortured but she was the first of this ummah to enter paradise.
This is a woman who had such strength in her faith that no matter what she went through she refused to say what her master wanted her to say about Islam. She died so early on in the call to Islam that she knew very little about it, she only saw the persecutions of the Muslims yet her faith remained true.
Hafsah was a wife of the Prophet (pbuh), before marrying him (pbuh) she was married to Hisn ibn Hudhafah he passed away after the Battle of Badr and then she married the Prophet (pbuh).
She was an incredible woman who had a fiery personality. Her name derives from the Arabic word for lion and it is said that she lived up to her name! She had a strong personality and wasn’t afraid to speak up and give her opinions.
She was one of the few people who could read and write as at that time most people couldn’t as they had an oral tradition. She had memorised the Quran and was given the responsibility of being the guardian of the Quran as all the verses which had been revealed were written down and it was her who was given the responsibility of looking after it. This was so important as this was how later the companions were able to piece all of it together for us to have the Quran that we read today. Without her it may not have been possible. She and all that she had kept safe were the primary sources when Uthmaan (ra) made the Quran into a single book.
She was also known for her wisdom and being able to give great advice. Her father was the second Caliph and when she found out that he hadn’t said who would succeed him as the next Caliph she went and advised him to choose to avoid fighting and division amongst the people.
Her and Aisha (ra) were known to be really close despite when she first married the Prophet (pbuh), Aisha felt jealous but eventually they became really close as they tended to always agree on the same matters and it was as if they were sisters. Hafsah supported Aisha when the hypocrites tried to attack the Prophet (pbuh) by spreading slander and lies about Aisha being unfaithful.
She was someone who loved to learn and spent a lot of time studying and had an inquisitive nature who often spent time discussing the finer points in Islam with the Prophet (pbuh). Sometimes she would even question him or argue her point, not to be rude, but because she was the type of person who just needed to know the answer. Her father once told her off for arguing with the Prophet (pbuh) but another wife came to her defence asking him why he is interfering in matters between a husband and wife.
She was an incredible woman who was entrusted with the most important thing at the time, the papers which had all the verses of the Quran and was integral in ensuring that the verses and chapters were all correctly bound together. She was fiery and passionate and did not shy away from asking difficult questions. She was opinionated and stood her ground.
Khadijah (ra) is the first person to become Muslim and follow Prophet Muhammad (saw). Ever since I first read about her life as a teen, I fell in love with this phenomenal woman who perfected her faith and was promised Paradise. She has been my role model for so many years and she gave me the courage and strength to stand up for and fight for what I wanted to do in life.
Yes, she is the wife of the Prophet (saw), yes she was an amazing mother to their kids but she was also so much more. She was a businesswoman, and not just any businesswoman, the most successful businesswoman in the Quraysh. She was wealthy and lived life on her own terms. She didn’t allow the fact that at that time women were not equals to men stop her from being independent and thriving. Before Marrying the Prophet (saw) she was a widow and she was a single parent. She showed me that I don’t have to give up on my dreams and goals in life just because I got married. She gave me the strength to say to a potential suitor that this is what I want to do in life and I won’t compromise on this. I will not give up my career or further studies for you and I expect you to help equally in the home.
When I met my (now) husband, I realised that actually he is someone I would want as a spouse though he is very introverted and I honestly had no idea if he would ever actually approach me so I decided to take things into my own hands and ask him, after all, Khadijah (ra) had sent her friend to propose on her behalf to the Prophet (saw). I asked him and I was terrified and shaking but I’m glad I did because why should I have to wait around in uncertainty because “it’s not socially acceptable for a girl to ask a boy” we should be able to take initiative and dictate what happens in our own lives rather than waiting around on the chance that a guy might ask us or that we might get recommended by someone.
Growing up I got mixed messages, I need to get an education but most importantly I need to know how to be a good wife and make the sacrifices for the marriage to work. So I can have ambition but not too much because men don’t like women who achieve more than they do and it’s my job to have kids and look after house so I don’t really need to. I should get an education and work but it’s so that I am able to raise my kids properly. Everything was tied to being a wife and a mother. But she (ra) taught me that having goals and ambitions is a good thing, that even if the society has certain expectations, you can still achieve what you want to achieve. To not let society dictate what you can and cannot do in life. As a woman I can thrive and not be held back because I was born a woman. I can be more than a wife and a mother if I want to. I can have a thriving career and more. My life doesn’t have to just revolve around being a caregiver for others. I can do things for myself.
Her marriage also showed me what I should want and expect from my husband and also taught me what I should do as a wife to make our marriage work. She saw kindness and empathy in the Prophet (saw) she saw a smart man but who was also humble and honest in everything he did. He was not short tempered and a man who accepted her for who she was. And I thought to myself that I will not compromise on qualities and values that are important to me even if people make remarks about me being single. As Allah had written, I actually met that man much earlier in life than I ever thought I would. But I was content and happy to be single. I didn’t need a man to be able to do what I wanted in life. She spent years being single and even raising her children on her own, refusing proposals because they weren’t the type of men she wanted to marry, but when she saw the right man she took initiative and asked him (through her friend). She taught me that I should want my husband in my life not marry a man because I feel I need a man in my life.
Learning about Khadijah (ra) helped me to unlearn all the toxic things that women are taught in our cultures and what’s worse is that they contradict Islamic beliefs, yet we are taught them anyways. Because of her I spent more time learning about women in Islam and I learnt about so many other amazing Muslim women. They were warriors and leaders and scholars and so much more. I cannot even begin to explain how much she means to me. In many ways she saved me. She helped me to realise that I deserve better than just that bare minimum and I can aim as high as I want to achieve my goals.
It’s also amazing to me that when the Prophet (saw) started going to cave hira for weeks at a time she was effectively left alone to manage the business, the household, the kids and she did that. We are told about how amazing and patient she is as a wife in these times for understanding what her husband needed but I never hear anyone say how amazing she is herself for taking all this responsibility and not only managing but continuing to thrive. Her business didn’t stop, her kids have never said that they were neglected by her during these times. We don’t talk about how resilient and persistent she was. We don’t talk about her strength and proactiveness. She had to have known the ins and outs of not only her home and kids but her business too which tells me even after marriage she was just as involved in all aspects as her husband. He didn’t take over, they were equals. In fact he continued to work for her.
Her thriving in her business meant that she was able to use that wealth to help the Prophet (saw) when he started teaching Islam and was able to spread and protect those who were most vulnerable. Because of her, the Prophet (saw) was able to free the slaves who were being tortured for becoming Muslim and so much more. And that just made me love her even more that she used her wealth to help those most vulnerable.
I learnt from her to be humble in my success and to give to those who are less fortunate. She was wealthy and successful yet all homeless and vulnerable people all knew they could turn to her for help and she always reminded me to give generously whenever I could and to help those around me. She taught me to be generous in what I had and to use my money and ability to do good. That having wealth was a responsibility and we shouldn’t squander it.
Khadijah (ra) was a woman who I cannot think about without bursting into tears out of love for her. I could literally talk about how much I love her and how much she has influenced my life all day and I hope that you will all go read about her so you can see what a truly phenomenal woman she is.
Make sure to check out all the other amazing bloggers taking part in the blog tour
There are so many amazing women that we never hear about unless we go looking and it is honestly so heart breaking that these women are not known to the majority of people. I hope that these posts inspire you to go look up more about them and find even more women who achieved amazing things.
Today I am going to share a little bit about Lubna of Cordoba who lived in Andalus in the 10th Century. She was born a slave but rose to become the personal secretary to the Sultan Abdur Rahman and also his son Al-Hakim. As she was not nobility it showed how much faith and trust they had in her ability and knowledge. Not only was she the personal secretary to the Sultan but also a mathematician, a poet and library master and she excelled in all these areas. Her role was even more extradordinary because not only was she a woman who excelled in a male dominated court but she also rose to such great heights while being born a slave.
She oversaw the royal library which had over 500,000 books and she was also one of the first female solo travellers. She travelled all over the middle east to acquire books for her library and also went to places like Baghdad and Cairo. Her library was one of the most famous and important libraries of her time. Not only did she acquire books for her library but she also also transcribed and annotated many books that she had acquired and also translated many books including important historic Greek texts.
She was also known as one of the greatest mathematicians and even taught children maths and it was well known that she loved maths. She was a scholar and known for her knowledge and skill not only in math but also sciences and became one of the most influential people in the palace.
She was a strong, independent woman whose intellect and determination allowed her to rise to achieve amazing things and left a lasting legacy. We don’t know much about her but what we do know shows that she was incredible woman who excelled in many fields.
A famous Andalusian scholar, Ibn Bashkuwal said, “She excelled in writing, grammar, and poetry. Her knowledge of mathematics was also immense and she was proficient in other sciences as well. There were none in the Umayyad palace as noble as her.”
I also have blog posts on several other Muslim women in this series which you can find here
Barakah (ra) is one of the first people to become Muslim but we hardly ever discuss her and how amazing she was and I have wanted to share a post about her for a while now. With everything going on in the world at the moment, I thought this would be a great time to share her story.
She was an Abyssinian woman who has been with the Prophet (pbuh) from when he was born to when he died. She was the midwife to his mother so she was there when he was born and she was the first person to hold him as a baby. She outlived the Prophet (pbuh) too so she was there when he passed away.
She is the person who raised him after his mother died when he was a young boy and she was so dedicated to raising him that she refused to get married and only agreed after he was married to Khadijah (ra) and they convinced her that she should live her own life and that they are still nearby.
The Prophet (pbuh) said about her that she is his mother after his mother. When he would see her, he would say that this is the entirety of what is left of my family. He would always introduce her as his mother and would visit her every single day.
She said about him that she never left him and he never left her. They had a beautiful mother son relationship and were very close and they would always laugh and joke with each other.
When he was fighting in any battle she would be there on the sidelines to make sure he was safe she would go around the battle field while keeping her eyes on the Prophet (pbuh) and make sure he wasn’t hurt. She was so fiercely protective over him that in the battle of Uhud when it looked like he would be killed she picked up a sword and ran to defend him, herself. At the end of the battles she would care for the wounded.
As an elderly woman she migrated from Makkah to Medina and during the travel she feared that she would die of thirst as she couldn’t find any water. On her journey she experienced a miracle. She said that when the sun set she saw a bucket coming down from the heavens and she drank from the bucket and then she dumped the rest of the water on herself to cool herself off. After this time she would fast on the hottest of days and do tawaf under the sun and she never became thirsty again for the rest of her life. So acts of worship like fasting became the easiest of acts of worship for her.
The Prophet (pbuh) gave her the glad tidings of Jannah several times during her life.
She was the woman who raised the Prophet (pbuh). In so many ways she was the person closest to him and she was an Abyssinian woman who had been a slave and was freed by the Prophet (pbuh).
Tying this to what is happening in the world; how can you call yourself Muslim and don’t care about Black lives. Because of a Black woman who raised and protected the Prophet (pbuh) we were given Islam.
You can read my previous posts in this series here: