Stories of steadfastness from the lives of the Sahabiyyat
Jannah, the most precious commodity of Allah, the most blissful place and the ultimate aspiration to which the believers race and for which competitors should compete. Minds are unable to fathom its blessed essence. The eloquent orator is unable to describe it with words. Yet it is encircled by thorns, not roses, as the blood and severed limbs of those who purchased it bear witness. “By Allah, it is not something cheap over which the morally bankrupt could haggle. Nor is it something unsought, such that the destitute could purchase it on credit. It has been presented in the market for whoever wishes to acquire it. But its Lord was not content to put a price on it other than the expenditure of souls. The losers procrastinate, while those who possess true love stand, waiting to see which of their souls is suitable to be the payment.” [Ibnul-Qayyim in Zad al-Maʿad].
In his Book, Allah subhanahu wa taʿala says something great – and blessed are those who read it or hear it and reflect over it and consider its meaning – that, “If some wound afflicts you, the [know that] a similar wound has already afflicted the enemy. Such are days [of war], which we alternate between the people, so that Allah shall make known those who believe and shall take from amongst them shuhada (martyrs); and Allah does not like the tyrants. And so that Allah shall test those who believe and shall crush the disbelievers. Or did you think that you would enter Jannah, while Allah has yet to have made known those of you who waged jihad and those who were patient?” [Aali ʿImran 140 : 142]. It is the perfect, divine management of affairs. And the believers, some of them are shuhada, and all of them are tested in order to be distinguished, and thus the pure rise above the foul. As for Jannah, it is the reward for those who pass the test and have patience during the trials, remaining steadfast upon hardship, neither panicking nor becoming resentful, never implying by their actions that, “Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion” [al-Ahzab 12]. How far the sick-hearted are from ever reaching and enjoying the gardens of their Lord!
The Muslimah must not assume that she is exempt from such tests and trials. Rather the woman and the man – regarding this – are similar. She could play a major role in keeping her husband and children steadfast. Such was the case of Khadijah and Asma, and of Sumayyah and al-Khansa, as well as many others whose virtues are too numerous to mention here. As for Khadijah, she is the Mother of the Believers and the one whose heart was the first to throb with iman(faith) in the prophetic message. She was one of those by whom Allah firmly established this religion through her support of her husband, the Final Messenger Mohammed (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam).
ʿAishah radi’Allahuʿanha narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam), after first receiving revelation at Hira Cave, became alarmed and went to his wife, Khadijah, telling her what happened. Saying: “I have become worried for myself.” So Khadijah said to him, “Do nothing but rejoice! For by Allah, He will never disgrace you. By Allah, you keep ties of kinship, you speak the truth, you bear burdens for orphans and widows, you gain virtue by helping the destitute, you are hospitable to guests, and you help people through their afflictions” [Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim]. So when the Mother of the Believers Khadijah radi’Allahuʿanha heard the astounding news from her husband, she did not despair or become terrified. She did not grab onto her husband for fear of the days to come. And she did not dishearten him, but rather emboldened him. On this an-Nawawi said: “Scholars have said that these words of Khadijah radi’Allahuʿanha are the greatest evidence and the most profound proof of the merit of Khadijah, the excellence of her counsel, the strength of her soul, the firmness of her heart, and the magnitude of her comprehension. And Allah knows best” [Sharh Sahih Muslim].
Days passed and the daʿwah spread, as did the oppression of Quraysh against the Muslims. They besieged them in the mountain pass belonging to Abu Talib and banned them from food and water. But the Mother of the Believers was steadfast alongside her husband (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam). She was patient and perseverant, while the afflictions of hunger and thirst hit her as it hit the rest of the people with them. She was who she was, a person of great heritage and lineage, and of wealth and esteem. She stayed there in the pass of Abu Talib for two years, hurt by starvation and fatigue, until she died in her state of patience, firmly upon her religion, while her husband was pleased with her. May Allah be pleased with her.
As for Sumayyah Bint Khayyat, the mother of ʿAmmar Ibn Yasir, she was the seventh person to accept Islam and the first person to attain shahadah (martyrdom), thus quenching the tree of tawhid with her blood. Yes, the first blood to be shed for the cause of “la ilaha illa Allah” was the blood of a woman. Sumayyah, her husband, and her son were mawali (freed slaves) of the Makhzum clan of Quraysh. And when they embraced Islam, they were met with all kinds of torture. Jabir radi’Allahuʿanhu narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam) passed by ʿAmmar and his family while they were being tortured, so he said: “Glad tidings, O family of ʿAmmar, O family of Yasir, for verily your destination is Jannah” [Reported by ad-Diya and al-Hakim].
Sumayyah radi’Allahuʿanha was not tortured except for the sake of Allah, in order to push her to leave her religion and the path of the Prophet (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam), who did not bring wealth, gold or silver, but only a “new” religion, not followed by the forefathers of the Arab pagans. He gave them a word, to bear witness to and abide by, so that Jannah would be theirs. And despite the severe torture, and despite Sumayyah being a weak, oppressed woman, she remained firm and did not abandon faith or go back on what she believed and that by which she worshipped her Lord. Ibn Ishaq said: “Some men from the family of ʿAmmar Ibn Yasir told me that Sumayyah, the mother of ʿAmmar, was tortured by the family of al-Mughira [Ibn ʿAbdillah al-Makhzumi] due to her Islam, and she refused to reject Islam until they killed her” [as-Sirah]. So her end was that of shahadah, after she was patient and steadfast, when the enemy of Allah – Abu Jahl (Ibn Hisham Ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi) –pierced her with a spear and killed her.
As for Asma, she was the daughter of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. She was a great role model of steadfastness and jihad. This was Asma, whose father made hijra (emigration) with the Prophet (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam) and took with him all of his wealth, leaving nothing for his family. But she did not complain or become restless. Instead she defended her father against her grandfather’s suspicions. Asma radi’Allahuʿanha narrated: “When Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa sallam) left with Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr took with him all of his wealth, which was five-thousand or six-thousand dirhams. My grandfather, Abu Quhafah, entered upon us – and he had become blind – and said: ‘By Allah, I feel that he has ruined you by taking his wealth with him.’ So I said: ‘No, dear father, he has indeed left us with much.’ So I took some stones and put them on a small windowsill of the house, which is where my father would put his wealth, and then placed a garment over them. I then took my grandfather’s hand and said: ‘Here, dear father, put your hand over this wealth,’ which he did and then he said: ‘Never mind. If he has left this for you, then he did so generously, as this is sufficient for you.’ But no, he did not leave us anything, and I only wanted to calm down the old man by what I did” [Reported by Ahmad and al-Hakim].
Likewise, Asma did not escape the violence of Abu Jahl, as she narrated: “When Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ʿalaihi wa salla) and Abu Bakr made hijra, a group of Quraysh – including Abu Jahl – came to us and stood at the door of Abu Bakr’s house. So I went out to them. They said: ‘Where is your father, O daughter of Abu Bakr.’ I said: ‘By Allah, I do not know where my father is.’ So Abu Jahl, who was a vulgar and vile man, raised his hand and slapped my cheek, causing my earrings to fall to the ground. And they left” [Hilyat al-Awliya]. Such is the state of the Muslimah who believes in her Lord and thinks only the best of Him, expecting to be attacked and tormented for the sake of her religion.
As for al-Khansa Bint ʿAmr radi’Allahuʿanha, then her situation was not very different from that of Asma. She witnessed the battle of Qadisiyyah, in which her four sons partook. So she said to them on the first night of the battle: “Oh my sons, verily you willingly embraced Islam. You made hijra by your own choice. I swear by Allah, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, you are the sons of one man and one woman. I never betrayed your father. I did not disgrace your uncle (her brother). I did not spoil your heritage. I did not soil your lineage. And you know what Allah promised the Muslims of great reward by waging war against the disbelievers. Know that the everlasting abode is better than the temporal abode. Allah subhanahu wa taʿala says: ‘O you who believe! Be patient, persevere, and perform ribat, and fear Allah so that you might succeed’ [Aali ʿImran 200]. So if you wake up tomorrow morning in good health, then set out to fight your enemy with all discernment, seeking Allah’s support against His enemies. When you have seen that the war has erupted in all its ferocity and fright, and its flames are burning violently, scorching whatever is in its path, go forth into its sweltering oven and engage it at its fieriest peak. You will attain victory, honor, and status in the eternal abode” [al-Istiʿab].
Al-Khansa achieved what she sought, and her four sons went out seeking death in its most expected places. All of them were killed in a single day, and when that news reached her, she only said: “All praise belongs to Allah, who honored me through their being martyred, and I hope from my Lord that He will unite me with them in the abode of His mercy.”
How great Allah made these women! They did not sit and cry, lamenting during the hours of hardship and tribulation. Instead, they carried the weight of the religion and the Ummah on their shoulders, helping a husband, inciting a son…
The Muslimah should take women like these as her role models. When times are tough and tight, she should remember their steadfastness and adorn herself with fragrance of their conduct.
And our final call is that all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. O Allah, send prayers and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad, and upon all his family and companions.