The Counter Crusade

Monday, January 02, 2006

Warrior Muslimas 1: Women's Role in the Military

DA wrote a great post recently about Muslimas being more involved in sport and activity and how they should be encouraged and not discouraged by the Muslim brothers out there. The post doesn't need anything added to it, so I decided to write a series of posts on a related topic: female Muslim warriors. I think this should help encourage the activity of Muslim women out there in society and maybe encourage them to take up martial arts or something else that is useful to them.


Whenever the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went to Quba', he used to visit Umm Haram bint Milhan, who would feed him. She was the wife of 'Ubada bin al-Samit. One day, the Prophet went to her house and she gave him a meal... He fell asleep. He woke up laughing.

She asked him: 'What makes you laugh, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said, "Some people of my followers were displayed before me as warriors fighting for the Cause of Allah and sailing over this sea, kings on thrones."

She said, "O Messenger of Allah! Invoke Allah that He may make me one of them." He invoked (Allah) for her and then laid down his head and slept again. Then once again he woke up laughing.

She asked: "What makes you laugh, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said, "some people of my followers were displayed before me as warriors fighting for the Cause of Allah", and repeated what he had said the first time.

She said, "O Messenger of Allah! Invoke Allah that He may make me one of them."
He said, "You will be amongst the first ones."

Umm Haram sailed out to sea during the reign of Mu'awiyah bin Abi Sufyan..."

(reported by Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and al-Nisa'i). *

Commentary by Saudi diplomat and poet, Ghazi Algosaibi

According to Algosaibi, the debate over the role of women in society,

"does not take place in the refined courts of jurisprudence. It is a psychological, political, social and cultural struggle between men who believe that the recognition of women's rights enriches their own lives, and men who believe that such recognition negates their masculinity. This kind of dispute can only continue indefinitely. No amount of debate and discussion could bring it to a conclusion.

Hadith which I have quoted here shows with incomparable clarity how the Prophet, the Imam who leads us to True Guidance, sees women's role in society (and in the military!): he believed it should include going out to sea on military expeditions in the company of men." [1]

Umm Haram's tomb

" Nestled on the edge of a salt lake in southern Cyprus, one of Islam's most important shrines has been restored and now sits as a beacon of hope for the Mediterranean island's ethnic division.

  The United Nations heralded the completion of renovation work at Hala Sultan Tekke mosque at the end of a four-year project that brought together both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to achieve a common goal.

  The mosque is the island's most sacred monument for the mainly Muslim Turkish Cypriots but, ironically, the picture-postcard edifice lies in the Greek Orthodox south of the island.

  "This is not just a symbol of the past, but a symbol of the future where Greek and Turkish Cypriots can come together," said United Nations Development Program (UNDP) manager Andrew Russell.

 Muslims worldwide revere the ancient site because it reputedly contains the burial place of the Prophet Mohammed's paternal aunt Umm Haram (Hala Sultan in Turkish).

  However, other scholars believe she was the prophet's wet nurse.**

  According to legend, Umm Haram died after falling off her mule and breaking her neck during the first Arab raids on Cyprus around AD 647. That same night a divine power supposedly placed three giant stones where she lay.

  In 1760 Sheikh Hasan discovered Hala Sultan's grave and began spreading the word about her healing powers and a tomb was built there.

  The complex -- comprising a mosque, mausoleum, minaret, cemetery and living quarters for men and women -- was built in its present form while the island was still under Ottoman rule and completed in around 1816.

 "During the Ottoman period in Cyprus, Ottoman-flagged ships used to fly their flags at half-mast when off the shores of Larnaca and salute Hala Sultan (Umm Haram) with cannon shots," said Turkish Cypriot archaeologist Tuncer Bağışkan.

 "Let Hala Sultan be a permanent symbol of how the two communities can build a brighter future," said Greek Cypriot engineer Elias Karasselos, who worked on the mosque. "[2]

* On that expedition to Cyprus: Mu'awiya asked the Caliph Umar for permission to send an expedition to Cyprus, and Umar forbade him from doing so. When Uthman became Caliph, Mu'awiya asked him but Uthman refused also because Umar had refused. Many years later, Mu'awiya asked him for permission again, and Uthman said that Mu'awiya may undertake the expedition only if:
1) only volunteers went, and not a single person may go against his will or be commanded to go.
2) Mu'awiya and his wife went with them.
Otherwise Uthman would not allow the expedition. Mu'awiya therefore sailed to Cyprus with his wife, and Umm Haram and her husband went too. There was barely any fighting (they easily overpowered a small Byzantine garrison), and the people of Cyprus agreed to pay a tribute to the Muslims and to refrain from aiding the Greeks against the Muslims.

Three or four years later, the Cypriots broke the agreement and gave ships to the Greeks to support their expeditions, so Mu'awiya was forced to fight them (to stop them from aiding the powerful Byzantine threat), and reached a permanent agreement where the Cypriots would pay a tribute and warn the Muslims of any Greek danger. This was the expedition that the Prophet saw in his second dream.

During the Abbasid Caliphate, al-Mansur said of the Cypriots, "We shall, above everyone else, do justice to them, and not enrich ourselves by oppressing them".

** Umm Haram was neither the Prophet's wet nurse nor his aunt. The Prophet (pbuh) liked to visit her house and the house of her sister Rumaysa and eat with them. He had great respect for Umm Haram, and her husband was one of the greatest of the Prophet's companions.

1. Algosaibi, Ghazi A. Revolution in the Sunnah. London: Saqi Books, 2004.
2. To read full article, click here. Username: gobacktotexas; Password: Bush (courtesy of


  • Don't forget Safiyyah (RA), the aunt of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). She killed a Jew in the Battle of the Trench. A fearsome lady, if you ask me. :-)

    By Blogger Safiyyah, at 12:07 AM, January 03, 2006  

  • thanks.. i was gonna mention safiyyah. but i thought it was the prophet's Jewish wife... but i just looked it up and it seems you're right! thanks.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 1:21 AM, January 03, 2006  

  • Great post! I knew a little on the subject but this is pretty extensive.

    Not to nitpick, but Saffiyyah, it's probably best not to phrase "killed a Jew" as an accomplishment. I understand the context of the statement, but it's the kind of thing, taken out of context, that Muslim-haters use to prove that we're a bunch of rabid anti-semites.

    By Blogger DA, at 4:53 AM, January 03, 2006  

  • lol, yeah it probably doesn't sound good to be known for killing a jew, but in this case the history only records Safiyyah as battling "jews," there were no names offered of the people she killed other than their religion. Such is the sad state of ancient and medieval history. :(

    By Blogger Steve, at 5:57 AM, January 03, 2006  

  • DA- if that's to me and not to "safiyyah", i didnt even know what the religion of the person she killed was, nor did i care. When I get to the story of safiyyah, I will write what I was gonna write, that she killed a spy who was sent to see if there were any muslim soldiers left inside the city to defend it (and the answer was no, there was not a single man left except the prophet's poet hassan bin thabit). so safiyyah killed him so he doesnt let the enemy know there was no one defending the city from the inside.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 10:59 AM, January 03, 2006  

  • Oh, no, I was simply advising Safiyyah on her phrasing, that is all.

    By Blogger DA, at 1:00 AM, January 05, 2006  

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