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A Muslim Hero

Nusaybah bint Ka’ab


Par Fatimata Keita 

In the misconception of religion, Muslim women have suffered and still do suffer. In fact, Muslim women have always been depicted as submissive little tools doing little with their life. I chose to tell the story of one the first Muslim women I’ve heard and that belongs, actually, to the beginning of the religion. 

Why do I love Nusaybah’s story? Because it depicts brilliant bravery, because it has nothing to do with one of those submissive narratives. We see, through her story, what every Muslim woman has always shown: that their obedience and loyalty is for the sake of their Lord and only Him.

Nusaybah Bint Ka'ab (or Umm Amara) is known as the first woman Warrior of Islam. 

She was from the Khazraj tribe of Medina, more precisely the Banu an-Najjar. She embraced Islam when Mus'ab Ibn 'Umayr, the Companion, commissioned by the Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him, began to spread the message of Islam. From then on, she devoted all her time and energy to supporting religion and bringing it to life around her. Nusaybah occupied a privileged place among the Companions. She is one of those who loved the Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him. In fact, she took part in many wars. First Uhud, where she treated the wounded but when the Messenger of Allah was attacked, she took up arms to defend him.

She narrates herself : “I looked towards the Messenger of Allah and saw that there were only ten people around him. We joined them. We gathered around the Prophet to defend him against the Quraysh as people dispersed in distress. He looked at me and saw that I didn't have a sword. He called out to a fleeing man holding a sword in his hand and said to him: 'Throw your sword at those who fight!' Which he did, immediately. I grabbed it and defended the Messenger of Allah. It was the horsemen who gave us the most difficulty. If they had had infantry like us, we would have defeated them with the help of Allah!"

Nusaybah was a woman of character: strong, intelligent and loyal, who commanded admiration. The Messenger of Allah is reported to say "O Um Amâra! Who can take what you put up with!" Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb reported: "I heard the Envoy of God say: 'Every time I turned, to the right and to the left, on the day of Uhud, I saw Um Amâra who was fighting at my side!'" She was very involved in her religion and her community. She took part in many wars and treaties, including Ridwan’s Pact of Allegiance to Hudaybiyyah, the Battle of Khaybar, etc.

The Messenger of Allah also had great respect for her, he also invoked for her and her family. Her son Abd'Allah reports that the Messenger of Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him said, upon seeing the wound of his mother on her shoulder during the battle of Uhud: "Your mother! Your mother! Band her wound. May God grant you His mercy, oh members of this family! The place of your stepfather is preferable to that of such and such. May God grant you His mercy to members of this family!" She replied: "O Messenger of God! Call on God to be with you in Heaven!" The Prophet then called upon them: "My God, make them my Companions in Paradise. "

But Nusaybah was not only a warrior, she was also a scholar. She related many hadiths*  and is in a way owed the recognition of women by an explicit mention in the Quran. Indeed, she pointed out to the Prophet, Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him, "O Messenger of God! I note that only men are mentioned in the Koran while women are not mentioned so much!"It was on this occasion that this verse was then revealed: "Muslims and Muslims, believers and believers, pious men and pious women, sincere men and sincere women, patient men and patient women, those who fear God, those who practice charity, those who observe the fast, those who are chaste, those who often call on the Name of the Lord, to all, God has reserved His forgiveness and a magnificent reward."- Quran 33.35

Nusaybah lived through the rule of Abu Bakr Al Siddique, and Omar Bin Al Khattab (both were caliphs of Islam after the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him died. She was revered by those who continuously praised her struggle and courage. It is said that once Omar received a gift from some foreign place. It consisted mainly of a piece of cloth made from the finest silk. Some people who were present suggested that he send it either to his daughter or to his daughter-in-law. Omar rejected both suggestions. He said - there is a woman who deserves that cloth more than all, and sent it to Nusaybah.

I always thought of Nusaybah as one great contributor of Islam, and a pioneer and a major example for Muslim woman’s actions in the community. She used her fierceness and intelligence for her community. 

*Hadiths: Collection of acts and words of Muhammad which are used by Muslims to be enlightened on how to practice Islam

Sources :

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