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Women in Islam: Nusaybah bint Ka’ab


Allow me to transport you to the early days of Islam and introduce you to a name that is sure to ignite your curiosity and admiration – Nusaybah bint Ka’ab, the first woman warrior of Islam.

Picture this: 74 leaders, warriors, and statesmen of Medina gathered to pledge their allegiance to Islam, and among them were only two women. Nusaybah and Asma bint ʿAmr bin ‘Adi – strong, resolute, and determined, stood before the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, peace of God be upon him, to pledge their bay’ah or allegiance.

Nusaybah’s unwavering commitment and courage were evident in her participation in several battles, including the historic Battle of Uhud, where she defended the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself. She also played a key role in the Treaty of Hudaybia, solidifying her place as a vital figure in Islamic history. But Nusaybah was not just a fierce warrior; she was also a teacher, spreading the teachings of Islam to the women of Medina.

Now, let’s unravel the inspiring story of Nusaybah bint Ka’ab and her contributions to the Ummah in the early days of Islam.


Before we dive into the life of our heroine, it’s crucial to understand the context in which she lived.

In pre-Islamic Arabia, women were treated with disdain and cruelty. The birth of a female child was regarded as a curse and shame to the family, and fathers would bury their newborn daughters alive. It was a time when women were seen as mere objects of sexual pleasure, who could be bought, sold, and inherited without any legal or social protection. Their inferiority was deeply ingrained in the societal norms and practices, leaving them voiceless and powerless.

But then came Islam, the religion of peace and equality, which brought a revolution in the status of women. Women were elevated from their position of inferiority and legal incapacity to a position of influence and prestige in family and society. Islam recognized their inherent dignity and worth and granted them equal rights and opportunities as men.

Islam taught that women are equal partners with men in all spheres of life, and in some cases, they are even given precedence over men. The Prophet, peace be upon him, famously said, “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers,” emphasizing the importance of respecting and honoring mothers above all else. Islam recognized that a woman’s moral and spiritual gains depend solely on her own performance and conduct, making her responsible in her own right.

The Heroine

It was in this new world of Islam that our heroine, Nusaybah bint Ka’ab Al Maziniyyah (or ʾUmm ʿAmmarah; Umm Umara; Umm Marah), lived. She was a woman of remarkable courage, intelligence, and piety, who played a crucial role in the early days of Islam. Being one of the first women to embrace Islam, she dedicated her life to the cause of Allah.

Nusaybah was not just a passive observer of history; she actively participated in it. She accompanied the Prophet, peace be upon him, in several battles, carrying a sword and shield like any other warrior. She was also a skilled archer and provided medical assistance to wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

Her devotion to Islam was unwavering, and she never hesitated to speak up for what she believed in. During the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, when the Prophet, peace be upon him, accepted unfavorable terms, Nusaybah asked him, “Are you not the Messenger of Allah? Then why should we agree to something that goes against the command of Allah?”

Nusaybah’s life is a shining example of the transformation that Islam brought to the status of women. From being buried alive as infants to becoming warriors and defenders of the faith, Muslim women have come a long way. They are no longer passive victims of patriarchal oppression, but active agents of change who contribute to the betterment of society in all fields of life.

Although history does not reveal much about her earlier years, she belonged to the Banu Najjar tribe in Medina and was the sister of Abdullah bin Ka’ab. She had two sons, Abdullah and Habib, who were martyred in battle, and a daughter Khawlah from her first marriage to Zaid bin ‘Asim Mazni. Later, she married bin ‘Amr and had another son, Tameem.

In Battle

Nusaybah believed that women have an equal duty to defend their new faith, and she went to great lengths to uphold this belief. Her valor and bravery during the Battle of Uhud earned her a prominent place in history, with many considering her the most distinguished woman, and possibly, one of the most distinguished warriors, to have taken part in the battle.

During the early stages of the battle, Nusaybah was providing water to the thirsty soldiers and tending to the wounded like the other women. However, when the tide turned against the Muslims due to the archers’ disobedience, Nusaybah showed immense courage and strength. With her sword unsheathed and bow in hand, she joined the small group of soldiers who remained steadfast with the Prophet, peace be upon him, serving as a human shield to protect him from the non-believers’ arrows. Every time danger approached the Prophet, Nusaybah rushed to his defense, earning his admiration and respect. He remarked, “Wherever I turned, to the left or the right, I saw her fighting for me.”

Nusaybah’s son also recounted his mother’s bravery on that fateful day. He was wounded in his left hand when a much taller adversary struck him before leaving without finishing him off. Nusaybah quickly came to his aid, dressed his wound, and encouraged him to continue fighting. The Prophet, peace be upon him, watched with admiration as Nusaybah tended to her son’s wound, and he asked her, “Who could bear what you are putting up with, Umm ‘Umarah?”

When the man who had struck her son’s hand passed by the battlefield again, Muhammad, peace be upon him, pointed him out to Nusaybah, who intercepted him and struck him in the thigh, causing him to collapse. The Prophet, peace be upon him, smiled broadly, remarking, “You have taken your revenge, O Umm ‘Umarah!”

With the Prophet’s encouragement, they struck the man with their weapons until he was defeated, and Muhammad, peace be upon him, praised Allah for granting them victory and allowing them to exact vengeance on their enemy.

On that fateful day, Nusaybah stood fearlessly against the non-believers, her sword slicing through the air as she struck them down one by one. Despite sustaining numerous wounds, she remained resolute, a true warrior of Allah. The Prophet himself, may God be pleased with him, witnessed her bravery and acknowledged her prowess, calling to her son to tend to her wounds and bless her household. Her unwavering dedication to the cause of Islam and her willingness to sacrifice all for it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Her legacy of unyielding determination did not end with the battle of Uhud. Nusaybah was present at many other key moments in Islamic history, including the treaty of ‘Aqabah, Al-Hudaybiyah, Khaybar, and Hunayn. At Hunayn, her heroic conduct was no less than her remarkable display of bravery at Uhud. She fought with all her might and received eleven wounds and lost a hand, but still continued to fight on.

Nusaybah’s heroic spirit was not lost on the great leaders of her time. Both Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq and Umar ibn al-Khattab held her in the highest regard, and her courage was continually praised by both. Once, Umar received a gift of the finest silk cloth from a foreign land, and he refused to send it to his daughter or daughter-in-law, recognizing that there was a woman who deserved it more than anyone else. He sent the gift to Nusaybah, a true testament to her worthiness and valor.

Sadly, the details of Nusaybah’s passing remain shrouded in mystery, but what is certain is that this great woman died in 13 A.H. and was buried in Al-Baqi’e in Makkah. Her unwavering devotion to Islam and her steadfast courage in the face of adversity makes her an eternal symbol of the power and beauty of Islam. May the Almighty bless her and make her one of His eternal companions in Paradise.

Women in Islam

Once, Nusaybah approached the Prophet, peace be upon him, with sincere concern. She could not help but wonder why the Noble Qur’an only seemed to mention men. It seemed to her that women were being deprived of their significance and importance. Her words were heard, and the response was nothing short of miraculous.

With the grace and mercy of Allah, a verse of the Qur’an was revealed, and it was as if the heavens opened up and shone a light on the importance of women in Islam. The verse read:

“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.”

(Surah al-Ahzab 33:35)

These words are nothing short of a beautiful declaration of the equality and importance of women in Islam. It is a powerful reminder that men and women are created differently, but equal in the eyes of Allah, and their deeds and actions are what set them apart.

In addition, as Muslims, we do not require superficial occasions like Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or any such events to show our love and respect for our beloved. In Islam, we are commanded to honor and appreciate them every single day of our lives. On the other hand, people in the West, who tend to overlook their loved ones, have created these meaningless days to celebrate them for just one day in a year. They have been trying to impose such practices, along with other lowly values, on our society out of sheer jealousy for our dignified community that uplifts every member regardless of any distinction.

It is a shame to witness some Muslims participating in such celebrations because our faith already directs us to honor our relatives, neighbors, orphans, fellow Muslims, and all those who are in need.

The Devil’s Intervention

The misconceptions surrounding the status of women in Islam are not only baseless but also misleading. Contrary to popular belief, women in Islam have always been granted more rights and respect than before the advent of the religion. Unfortunately, ex-Muslims and atheists, as well as the usual enemies of Islam (European governments, bored politicians, etc.), persistently propagate misinformation about the religion, picking out a word or two from different contexts to present a false narrative, misrepresenting the actual teachings of Islam.

The colonization of Muslim-majority nations after World War I has had a profound impact on their societies. With the infiltration of foreign values, traditional societal norms began to degrade and deteriorate. As a result, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran are often portrayed as oppressive toward women. However, this portrayal is a result of western countries taking certain aspects of their cultural values out of context and presenting them in a negative manner to showcase false narratives, as is typical of mainstream media.

The foreign imperialists, propelled by their neocolonialist values, endeavor to manipulate and distort the teachings of Islam with the intention of inducing women into a state of despair and bewilderment, among other objectives. One of their ultimate objectives is to obliterate the traditional roles of women in Islamic societies and substitute them with values that are antithetical to the genuine teachings of Islam. In so doing, the imperialists aim to engender a sense of hopelessness in women and propagate false narratives such as “women must wear hijab,” “women cannot work,” “women cannot engage in certain activities,” etc., thereby leading them to believe that these falsehoods are the true teachings of Islam.

Undoubtedly, we have witnessed the outcomes of their efforts in the contemporary era. Women are being accorded rights that go far beyond what Islam allows. The concealed objective behind such measures is to position women outside the limits laid out by the Islamic faith. These actions have been carried out with full awareness that they will ultimately result in the disintegration of Islamic societies by eroding the traditional gender roles prevailing in Muslim communities.

Furthermore, it is a source of great sadness that in recent decades, several Arab governments have abolished women’s inheritance rights in mixed-race marriages, where males are granted a larger share of inheritance compared to females, and in some cases, women are not given anything at all. This is being done to promote marriages between individuals of the same nationality and discourage interracial marriages that were once encouraged by Islam. The motive behind this policy is to prevent different Muslim societies from coming closer to one another and keep them divided. This policy is directly opposed to the principles of equality and justice, which are at the core of Islam.

It is equally disheartening to witness the promotion of nationalist identities, which has resulted in the fragmentation of Islamic societies into separate nations. This is a great tragedy, as it has prevented the unification of the Muslim Ummah, hindering the establishment of a legitimate Caliphate that could restore the true Islamic values that are necessary for the betterment of our corrupt societies.

The promotion of nationalist identities is a tactic used by colonizers to divide and conquer Islamic societies, as it was done by colonizers in the past, even before the advent of Islam. In our case, this is a strategy that has been used time and again to sow discord and fragmentation in Muslim communities. This approach contradicts the teachings of Islam, which emphasize the unity and solidarity of the entire Muslim Ummah, irrespective of race, nationality, disability, or language.

It is crucial to recognize the true intentions behind these ungodly actions and stand firm, as individual Muslims, in upholding the teachings of Islam, even if it is only within our households, which is continually threatened by the misguided followers of Iblees. As Muslims, we must not let the imperialist overlords succeed in their plan to misrepresent Islam and degrade the status of men and women in our societies. Instead, we must continue to embrace the genuine teachings of Islam and advocate for the inherent value and worth of both men and women in our communities as a starting point before attempting to address other corrupted issues within our societies.

Ultimately, those who proclaim to have renounced Islam and identify as ex-Muslims frequently engage in incessant discussions about it, concealing their envy of devout Muslims and their own realization of the truth and legitimacy of Islam. Their futile attempts to distort the words of the Qur’an are pointless because the empowerment and beauty of women in Islam are incontrovertible. As Muslims, we must bear in mind that their arguments lack substance, and they will always voice their opinions loudly within a like-minded group, hoping to garner false support for their misguided beliefs.

Instead, as Muslims, we must embrace the teachings of Islam and cherish the words of Allah as they were intended. We must recognize the inherent value and significance of women in our society and abide by the teachings of our faith. May Allah guide us all on the path of righteousness and enlighten those among us, and beyond, who lack understanding of the true splendor of Islam.