Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Khawlah bint Tha`labah

Excerpt from the Book 2 The Ideal Muslimah" Page 27

Islamic history is filled with the stories of great women who kept the rule of Allah (SWT) in mind at
all times and did not deviate from it or look for alternatives. Among these stories is that of Khawlah
bint Tha`labah and her husband Aws ibn al-Samit, narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud, and
quoted by Ibn Kathir in his tafsir of the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. Khawlah said:
"By Allah (SWT), concerning me and Aws ibn al-Samit, Allah (SWT) revealed the beginning of
Surat al-Mujadilah. I was married to him, and he was an old man who was bad-tempered.
One day, he came in and I raised a particular issue with him again; he became angry and
said, `You are to me as the back of my mother.' Then he went out and sat for a while in the
meeting-place of his people. Then he came back, and wanted to resume marital relations
with me. I said, `No way! By the hand of the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khuwaylah
(i.e., Khawlah), you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said, until
Allah (SWT) and His Messenger decide between us.' He tried to force himself on me, but I
was able to resist because I was a young woman and he was a weak old man. I pushed him
away, then I went to one of my (female) neighbours and borrowed a cloak from her and went
to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). I sat before him, told him what (my husband) had done to
me, and began to complain to him about my sufferings because of my husband's bad temper.
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, `O Khuwaylah, your cousin is an old man, so fear Allah
(SWT) with regard to him.' I did not leave him until Qur'an was revealed concerning me: he
was overcome as he usually was when Qur'an was revealed to him, and when it was over, he
said: `O Khuwaylah, Allah (SWT) has revealed Qur'an concerning you and your husband.'
Then he recited to me:
( Allah has indeed heard [and accepted] the statement of the woman who pleads
with you concerning her husband and carries her complaint [in prayer] to Allah:
and Allah [always] hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah
hears and sees [all things]'. If any men among you divorce their wives by zihar
[calling them mothers], they cannot be their mothers: none can be their mothers
except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words [both] iniquitous and
false: but truly Allah is One that blots out [sins], and forgives [again and again].
But those who divorce their wives by zihar, then wish to go back on the words they
uttered - [it is ordained that such a one] should free a slave before they touch each
other: this are you admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with [all]
that you do. And if any has not [the wherewithal], he should fast for two months
consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should
feed sixty indigent ones. This, that you may show your faith in Allah and His
Messenger, those are limits [set by] Allah. For those who reject [Him], there is a
grievous Penalty.) (Qur'an 58:1-4)
He told me, `Let him release a slave.' I said, `O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), he does not
have the means to do that.' He said, `Then let him fast for two consecutive months.' I said,
`By Allah (SWT), he is an old man, he is not able to do that.' He said, `Then let him feed
sixty poor people with a wasq of dates.' I said, `O Messenger of Allah (SWT), he does not
have that much.' He said, `Then we will help him with a faraq of dates.' I said, `And I will
help him with another faraq, O Messenger of Allah (SWT).' He said, `You have done right and
done well. Go and give it in charity on his behalf, then take care of your cousin properly.' And
I did so."
Khawlah bint Tha`labah could not bear to stay for one moment with her husband after he had
spoken the words of zihar to her, which was a form of divorce at the time of jahiliyyah, until she
had referred the matter to the Prophet (PBUH), so that she might know how Allah (SWT) would
judge between her and her husband. She did not even have a suitable garment with which to go
out and appear before the Prophet (PBUH), so she borrowed a robe from one of her neighbours,
and rushed to where the Prophet (PBUH) was sitting, so that she could hear Allah's (SWT) ruling
concerning her, and follow it.
It comes as no surprise that this great woman enjoyed such high standing among the Sahabah
who were her contemporaries and knew her virtues, above all `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA). She
met him one day outside the mosque, when al-Jarud al-`Abdi was with him. `Umar, who was the
khalifah at that time, greeted her, and she said to him, "O `Umar, I remember you when you were
called `Umayr in the marketplace of `Ukaz, taking care of the sheep with your stick. So fear Allah
(SWT) in your role as khalifah taking care of the people, and know that the one who fears the
threat of punishment in the Hereafter realises that it is not far away, and the one who fears death
fears missing some opportunity in this life." Al-Jarud said, "You have spoken too harshly to Amir al-
Mu'minin, woman!" `Umar said, "Let her be. Do you not know that this is Khawlah, to whose words
Allah (SWT) listened from above the seven heavens? By Allah (SWT), `Umar should by rights listen
to her."


heart/and/soul said...

MashaAllah sis I love the new layout! :)

Xenia said...

Jazakallah, I'm pleased you like it!