Hawwa' bint Yazeed: Living With An Unbeliever - A Firm Believer, Despite Opposition By Her Husband

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah, most Muslims there had not seen him. They accepted Islam on the strength of what they learned from their people who met him in Makkah, or from Mus'ab ibn Umair who spent the best part of a year in Madinah teaching its people the Qur'an and the principles of Islam. Therefore, the Muslims in Madinah were keen to give the Prophet their pledges of loyalty, which they did during the first few days of his arrival.

Women were no less eager to do so, but the men left them no time. However, one evening in those early days, three women decided not to be outdone by men. One of them reports: "We wrapped ourselves with our outer garments at the time between the prayers of Maghrib and Isha and went in to see the Prophet. I said my greeting. He asked me who I was, and I told him. He asked my two companions their names and they told him. He welcomed us before asking: ‘What can I do for you?' We said: Messenger of God, we have come to pledge to you that we are Muslims. We believe in you and we bear witness that what you teach is the truth. He said: ‘All praise be to God who has guided you to accept Islam.' He then added: ‘I have accepted your pledges'. I moved closer to him, but he said: ‘I do not shake hands with women. What I say to one woman is the same when I say it to a thousand women'. We thus were the first women in Madinah to give our pledges to the Prophet." The three women were Hawwa' bint Yazeed, Laila bint Al-Khutaim and Umm Amir of the Ashhal clan, the reporter of this case.

Hawwa' belonged to a clan which converted to Islam in one day, after its chief Saad ibn Mu'adh adopted Islam. Saad was her maternal uncle. The clan was always in the forefront of the Ansar in the defense of Islam. Hawwa' was a firm believer, despite opposition by her husband who remained an unbeliever. Her husband, Qays ibn Al-Khateem, was a poet. When Islam began to spread in Madinah before the Prophet's immigration, he chose to stay away from Islam. He was unhappy that his wife had adopted Islam, and he began to persecute her. He would physically abuse her, even during her worship. If he saw her praying, he would wait until she was in prostration and he would turn her over her head.

The Prophet followed the welfare of his new companions in Madinah while he was still in Makkah. During the pilgrimage season, many Arabs arrived in Makkah, as the Arabs always revered the Kaabah and visited it for worship. Qays was among those who went for pilgrimage that year. The Prophet learned of what Hawwa' was suffering. Therefore, he made a point of meeting Qays and speaking to him. He explained to him the principles of Islam and called on him to become a Muslim. As a poet, Qays was quick to realize the superiority of the Qur'an and the fine message of Islam. He said to the Prophet: "What you advocate is really fine, and your message is good. However, I am preoccupied with our internal battles." This occurred on more than one occasion. It should be remembered that the first six men from Madinah to accept Islam told the Prophet on that occasion that they hoped that Islam would unite them and put an end to their internal battles, which it did. Thus, Qays cited those feuds as a pretext for his turning away from Islam.

When the Prophet felt that Qays would not give a positive response to his call, he spoke to him about his wife. He said: "Abu Yazeed, I have been informed that you have been abusing your wife since she abandoned your religion. Fear God and do not ill treat her." He promised that he would stop such ill treatment. When he went back to Madinah he told his wife: "Your man has met me and asked me not to be hard on you. You are free to follow your religion." As he was a man of integrity, he kept his promise.

Hawwa' had two sons, Yazeed and Thabit. Both were companions of the Prophet. Yazeed was one of those who remained steadfast during the Battle of Uhud when the Muslims were defeated. He received no less than 12 wounds. He took part in all subsequent battles and became a martyr in the Battle of the Bridge during Umar's reign.


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