Umm Umara, Nusaybah bint Ka'b Al-Ansariyah
Nusaybah bint Ka'b, known as Umm Umara was blessed with many honours, amongst these her
presence at Uhud, al-Hudaybiyya, Khaybar, the Fulfilled Umra,
Hunayn, and the Battle of Yamama.
She was one of the most distinguished women who took part in
the battle of Uhud, if not the most distinguished of them.
Nusaybah bint Ka'b (Umm Umara)'s mother was ar-Rabab bint
Abdullah ibn Habib.
Nusaybah converted to Islam during the early days. She was
present at the second pledge of Al- Aqabah at which she swore
allegiance to the Prophet, Along with her first husband, Zaid ibn
Asim who died after the Battle of Badr.
Her brother Abdullah bin Ka'b al Mazani fought with the Prophet
in the crucial Battle of Badr, while her second brother Abdul
Rahman was one of those devout early believers who would burst
into tears when listening to the first recitations of the Holy
Umm Umara married Zaid ibn Asim, bearing two children, Abdullah
and Habib, who were both Companions of the Prophet. Then she
was married to Ghaziyah ibn Amr and bore him Tamim and Khawla.
The journals of the early believers do not rave about the beauty of
her hair or the colour of her eyes or the smoothness of her skin.
Instead many words have been written about the true values of
womanhood which shone from her. Her glory was her courage and
honour. The Prophet held this dear Woman of Distinction in such
high esteem that he compared her piety and devotion to that of the
greatest of his companions.
She was one of only two women who traveled with seventy-three
ansar men to Makkah before the Hijrah to Madinah.
They gave him the oath to support him and sacrifice for him with
their wealthes, souls and families once he comes to them in
Umm Umara set out to the battle of Uhud with her second
husband, Ghaziyah ibn Amr, and her two sons, Abdullah and
Nusaybah fetched water and tended the wounded the injured. Her
intention had been to give water to the wounded, but Allah had
planned for her a more rewarding role.
So she set out with her family with a waterskin and bandages, and
arrived at the battle field during the beginning of the day.
Nusaybah had also bought a sword, a bow and a quiver of arrows,
in addition to the bandages and water skin.
Not long after the battle had begun, she reached the place where
the Prophet had taken up his position on relatively high ground,
He was with his closest companions and the battle was going in
favour of the Muslims. The Muslims continued to advance until
the way into the enemy camp was opened.
The Muslims had the upper hand, and she went to see how the
Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was.
But then the Muslims committed a fatal error - they were tempted
by the booty and began to surge into the enemy camp seeking
The fifty archers chosen to guard the rear of the army saw their
companions taking spoils of war and felt that they would lose out.
So neglecting the Prophet's command not to leave their posts and
to remain on the hill no matter what happened, they left running
towards the booty, assuming that the battle was finished. Their
commander Abdullah ibn Jubair, was left with only a few archers.
Khalid bin Walid, (who hadn't embraced Islam yet), seeing the
open flank, made a charge against the Muslims and suddenly the
tide had swung towards the Quraysh.
The Muslims panicked and began to flee, leaving behind only the
Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) and a handful of his
Companions. Among these was Umm Umara.
The Qur'an described it:
"Behold! You were climbing up the high ground, without even
casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger in your rear
was calling you back..."
[Surah 'Al Imran, 3: 153]
Seeing the Muslims flee, Umm Umara ran to the defense of the
Prophet and took up arms, along with her husband and two sons.
Nusaybah went forward, with her sword unsheathed and her bow
in her hand, to join the small group who were standing firm with
the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), acting as a human shield
to protect him from the arrows of the mushrikin.
She tied her belt around her waist so that she would not trip,
brandishing a sword at times and throwing arrows at others, she
cut through the ranks of the enemy and took sides with the
Nusaybah got her sword and her quiver of arrows and started
The battle was fierce, for the Muslims were on foot fighting for
their lives against mounted soldiers.
The Prophet noticed that she had no shield, and so said to one of
the retreating men: "Give your shield to the one who is fighting."
So he handed her the shield, and she defended the Prophet of
Allah with it, using also the bow and arrow along with a sword.
She was attacked by horsemen, but never wavered nor felt fear.
She later boldly claimed, "If they had been on foot as we were,
we would have trounced them, Allah willing."
She fought fiercely that day, striking fatal blows to her opponents
until she suffered many wounds. She was wounded thirteen times
in the battle of Uhud.
She suffered so many deep cuts that her wounds required one
painful year to heal. When the call to arms came again, she tried to
join the ranks of the faithful, but she failed because she was
bleeding so much.
Every time danger approached the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi
wasalam) she hastened to protect him. The Messenger of Allah
(salAllahu alayhi wasalam) noticed this, and later said,
"Wherever I turned, to the left or the right, I saw her fighting
Nusaybah herself related some of what had happened during that
"The people had left the Prophet exposed and only a few, not more
than ten, remained my husband and my sons and I were among
them defending him and the people were moving around in a
defeated state. I did not have my shield with me. The Prophet saw
a man with a shield, so he said, 'Give your shield to someone who
is fighting?' So the man gave it to me and I used it to defend the
Nusaybah continued fighting, treating the wounded and carrying
water for them. Her son was wounded and his blood was flowing.
However, she was totally oblivious to her son's condition until the
Prophet said, "Bandage your wounded."
His mother ran to her son and bandaged his wounds, while the
Prophet stood looking at her. After she had bandaged the wound,
she commanded to her son, "Rise and fight the people my son."
Her own son, Abdullah ibn Zaid, related later more of her heroic
behavior during the battle;
"..The Prophet admired her sense of sacrifice, and commended her,
"Who can endure what you can endure, Umm Umara?"
' I intercepted him and hit him in the thigh, and he collapsed. I saw
the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) smiling so
broadly that I could see his back teeth. He said, 'You have taken
your revenge, O Umm 'Umarah!'
Then we struck him with our weapons until we killed him, and the
Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: 'Praise be to Allah
(Subhanahu wa Ta'ala), who granted you victory over him, gave
you the satisfaction of taking revenge on your enemy, and let you
see the vengeance for yourself." On this day, Nusaybah herself
received many wounds whilst she was fighting the people and
striking their chests.
At one stage, the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was left
alone, so taking the opportunity, the enemy Ibn Qamiah charged at
the Prophet, shouting "Show me Muhammad! May I not survive if
Then Ibn Qamiah recognised the Prophet and struck at him.
The blow was averted by Talhah, who was standing next to the
Prophet. Talhah then threw himself in the direction of the sword
and they closed around the Prophet to protect him.
Mus'ab ibn Umayr, along with some other of the Companions,
dashed to the protection of the Prophet.
Umm Umara was among them, and began fiercely striking at the
enemy of Allah, even though he was wearing double armour.
Ibn Qamiah stuck her and she struck him, but he was wearing two
coats of armour which protected him from her blows.
Ibn Qamiah managed to strike a blow at her neck, leaving a serious
wound. The Prophet quickly called on her son "Your mother! Your
mother! Bind her wound! May Allah bless you, the people of a
house! The stand of your mother is better than the stand of
so-and-so. May Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) bless you and your
household! Your mother has fought better than so-and-so.!"
Umm Umara, seeing the Prophet's pleasure on her determination
and valour, earnestly requested "Pray to Allah (Subhanahu wa
Ta'ala) that we may accompany you in Paradise!"
So he said "O Allah, make them my companions in the Garden."
And this was the desire of Umm 'Umara, to which she replied "I do
not care what befalls me in this world!"
The battle of Uhud was not the only occasion when Um Imarah
showed her bravery. She was among those who gave the pledge of
Ridhwan, when muslims swore to stand by the Prophet until
She was also present on a number of other occasions, namely the
treaty of Aqabah, Al-Hudaybiyah, and fulfilled Umra. She also
witnessed the battle of Hunayn, Khaybar, and Yamamah.
When the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) passed away, some
of the Arab tribes apostatized, at their head was Musaylimah The
Liar - the one who claimed to be prophet of Yemen. Khalifah Abu
Bakr (radiAllahu anhu) rallied the Muslims to fight the renegades.
Nusaybah took part in the fighting against Musaylimah in
Yamamah. She went to Abu Bakr who was Caliph at the time, to
seek permission to join the expedition with Khalid against
Abu Bakr said. "We know your worth in war, so go out, in the
Name of Allah." Abu Bakr committed her to Khalid ibn Al- Walid's
charge and she fought bravely at Yamamah. Umm Umara returned
from the war having suffered eleven wounds inflicted by spear and
sword, and having lost a hand, and her beloved son.
This battle was a great test for Umm Umara. The fight was hard
and the two parties adamantly set to win it. She held her grounds,
Now she heard that her son Habib fell prisoner to Musaylimah the
He asked him, "Do you testify that Muhammad is the Messenger
When he said that he did, he went on, "And do you testify that I
am the messenger of Allah?" he answered, "I do not hear."
So Musaylimah began to cut him to pieces, organ by organ until
he died. He asked him the same questions over and over, but he
could not get a different answer.
After Musaylimah had been defeated and killed and the war was
over, Nusaybah returned to her house. Khalid ibn al-Walid came
there to treat her hand with hot oil, to seal the wound and stop the
The hot oil was more painful than having her hand cut off. There is
a story that Ikrimah narrated, that Nusaybah went to the Prophet,
and said, "I see that everything goes to men, and I do not see
anything mentioned for women." Then the verse was revealed:
"For Muslim men and Muslim women, for believing men and
believing women, for devout men and devout women, for truthful
men and truthful women, for patient men and patient women, for
men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who
give sadaqah, for fasting men and fasting women, for men who
guard their private parts and women who guard, and for men who
remember Allah much and women who remember, Allah has
prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward."
[Surah Ahzab, 33: 35]
When Nusaybah was in Madinah between campaigns, the Caliph
Abu Bakr used to visit her often to encourage her. Even that token
of respect could not make any easier the ultimate sacrifice for a
mother, which was the life of her son.
The mother cherished her son's martyrdom. She offered it proudly
to the holy struggle to establish the Word.
Her courageous character earned her the respect of all the
Companions, especially the Khalifa's who would visit her and pay
special attention to her.
It is no surprise that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) gave
her the good news that she would enter Paradise, and that she was
later held in high esteem by the Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq and his
commander Khalid ibn Al-Walid and then by Umar ibn al-Khattab
This was the life of Umm Umara, the warrior who stood when many
fled, who sent her wounded son back into the thick of the battle,
and was prepared to lose her life to save the Prophet's.
Umm Umarah, Nusaybah bint Ka'b, was a woman who was true to
her words, a woman who occupies a special place in the history of
May Allah bless our women with such courage, self-sacrifice and
The Ideal Muslimah - Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi
The Stories of the Sahaba - Maulana Muhammad Zakaria
Um 'Umara - Hamzah Qassim
Kitab at-Tabaqat al-Kabir Muhammad ibn Sa'ad
The Women of Madina - transalted by Aisha Bewley
Various Miscellaneous Articles on Nusaybah's life.
Please only Reproduce with permission and acknowledgments.
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