Muslim Women in History - The Women who took the Pledge of Aqabah

Since 2014-01-11

The Women who took the Pledge of Aqabah

This was a historic occasion when leaders of Yathrib/Madinah came to the Prophet in Makkah, where he and his followers were being persecuted, and pledged allegiance to him. They sent one small party first, then the larger party which is the better known; both pledges took place under cover of darkness, without cognizance of the Makkan chieftans. Both the First and Second Pledges of Aqabah have political as well as spiritual implications. That is, those who pledged were not only declaring their faith in Islam, but promising political support and, if necessary, military protection, to the Prophet. Here is the relevant passage from the compendium on the Companions by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Al-Isaba fi Tamyiz as-Sahabah.

Nasibah (often called Nusaybah) bint Ka'ab ibn 'Amr al-Ansariyyah an-Najjariyyah Umm Amara, who is as well-known by her kunya Umm Amara as she is by her name.

Ibn Ishaq mentions, narrations from multiple sources, that in the Second Pledge of Aqabah there were from the Madinan tribe of Bani Khazraj sixty-two men and two women, and the narrators claim that the women pledged ... [Note here the incredulity of the historian Ibn Ishaq and his reluctance, writing as he was in a period well after the time of the early Muslims, to believe that the women really participated! Despite the verification of this fact by more than one narrator! In the historian's time, women were already pushed out of most forms of public political participation] ... claim that the women pledged the Prophet, peace and prayers be upon him, and he did not used to shake hands with women; rather, he used to put them to the question, and if they agreed, he said, "You may go." The two women were from the family of Bani Mazin ibn an-Najjar, Nasibah and her sister, both the daughters of Ka'ab. Nasibah had her husband, Zayd ibn 'Asim, there with her, and her son by him, Habib, the one who was later killed by Musaylama [a claimant to prophethood after the death of Muhammad]. She also had 'Abdullah, who later narrated a hadith about wudhu'.

[The following is an abridgement]

When she heard the news that Musaylama had killed her son Habib, she swore an oath to God that she would kill Musaylama or die trying, and she participated in combat in the battle of Yamamah (waged against Musaylama). She sustained twelve wounds in that battle and her hand was lopped off (Musaylama was killed in the battle).

She also participated in combat at the Battle of 'Uhud (much earlier), and was party to the Pledge of Ridwan as well.

  1. Busra bint Safwan bin Nawfal al-Qurashiyyah al-Asdiyah. She was the niece of Waraqah ibn Nawfal (the man whom Khadijah consulted about Muhammad's Prophethood after the earliest revelation). Ibn al-Athir says her mother was Salimah bint 'Umayyah as-Silmiyyah. Busra was the wife of Al-Mughirah ibn Abi'l-As, and she had a daughter 'A'ishah with him. Then Marwan ibn al-Hakam married her and according to one (dubious) source, she had a son 'Abdul-Malik with him. Other's say the mother of Marwan's son 'Abdul-Malik was the daughter of Mu'awiyah brother of Mughirah. Busra narrated [hadith] from the Prophet, peace and prayers be upon him, and Marwan ibn al-Hakam narrated on her authority as did Urwa ibn az-Zubayr, Sa'id ibn al-Musayyib, and other prominent persons of the generation following the Companions. Ash-Shafi'i says Busrah was an early Muslim and made the Hijrah. Mus'ab says she was one of the women who took the Pledge. Amr ibn Shu'ayb said, she was my maternal aunt; she narrates a hadith about [what happens to wudu in the case of] touching one's member, and she was a hairdresser who used to coiff the women in Makkah.
  2. Busrah bint Uzwan. Abu Hurayrah worked for her and they later married. She was the sister of Utbah ibn Uzwan al-Mazini, the famous companion, the governor of Basra (in Iraq). The story of Abu Hurayrah is true according to this author; she hired him and he was her employee during the time of the Prophet, and she married him later, after Marwan succeeded him [as administrator] over Madinah.

[Al-Isaba fi Tamyiz as-Sahaba by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, ca. 1500CE]

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