Sumaya bint Khabbat - Torment and Murder
Lady Knights

Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…

Called Mecca where lived a woman named Sumaya bint Khabbat. She had been a slave but was freed when she married a friend of her master's. The man she married was Yasir bin Ammar, a Yemeni man who had come to Mecca in search of a missing brother. Not long after they were married, the happy couple were blessed with a son they named after Yasir's father, Ammar.

As the years rolled by, the small family struggled to get by. A foreigner and a former slave did not have much power or status and they had to work hard to earn a paltry living. They also had to put up with bullying from the more powerful families which was considered normal at that time. Then one day, a new religion appeared which the rich and powerful of Quraish hated with a mindless fury that turned men into monsters and kin into kin-killers.

Whenever anyone declared that they believed in this new religion called Islam, there would be a swift and brutal reaction from those who had sworn to destroy the fledgling religion and its people. After all, how could the rich and powerful not object to a religion that told the poor and enslaved that they were the equals of their masters and deserved to be treated with kindness and consideration?

When Sumaya bint Khabbat and her husband and son, learned of the new religion and its gentle tenets, they all declared themselves to be Muslims and became some of the first people to embrace Islam. Upon learning of the impoverished family's new beliefs, the Qurashis promptly handed them over to be tortured and tormented by Abu Jahal, the biggest monster in Quraish.

Abu Jahal eagerly set about making the life of the small family into a living hell. He beat them and burned them. He said terrible, disgusting things to them. He threatened them and terrorized them. He encased them in iron and left them in the desert to be burned by the merciless sun and raked by the howling winds.

Whenever Muhammad passed by the suffering family, he would say sorrowfully, "Patience, family of Yasir, you have an appointment in heaven."

Although he wanted nothing more than to do something, anything to save the suffering family, he knew he couldn't. At the time, Islam was a pacifist religion that didn't even allow self defense. As a result, the Muslims in those uncertain days of violence and dark impulses learned many difficult and important lessons in patience, self-sacrifice and self-control.

Eventually, though Yasir's spirit was strong, his body succumbed to the injuries inflicted on his already frail body. His one sorrow as his soul slipped away into the safety and peace of the next life was that he left his wife and young son in the cruel hands of Abu Jahal.

Not at all affected by the death of one of the people he was torturing, Abu Jahal took great pleasure in throwing Yasir's death in the faces of his grieving widow and son. It was proof, Abu Jahal told them gloatingly, that their God and religion were both false.

Unfortunately for Abu Jahal, his words did not have the affect he thought they would. Both Sumaya and Ammar told Abu Jahal that they would follow Yasir's example and hold tight to their faith, no matter what.

As time passed, Abu Jahal grew more and more frustrated by Sumaya's refusal to abandon Islam. No matter what he did, he simply could not shake her faith in God. Tiring of her stubbornness, Abu Jahal decided to try a different approach.

"The only reason you are a Muslim," Abu Jahal said in a vicious hiss to the grieving, pain wracked widow who was tied down on the scorching desert sands, "is because you fell in love with Muhammad and you covet his beauty."

With the tragic death of her husband still fresh in her mind, Sumaya couldn't help but lose her temper. Her voice dripped with disdain and contempt as she told Abu Jahal exactly what she thought of him.

Sumaya's words washed over Abu Jahal, filling him with a terrible rage. This abused, broken woman whom he had tortured for so long, this former slave, this nobody, had the nerve to speak to him with such insolence?! Abu Jahal was a leader of his people, a wealthy a man of consequence, the man who had absolute power over her and her son, and she spoke to him so?!

Rage and indignation filled Abu Jahal and cast a white hot haze over his eyes. He completely lost control of his temper and did the unthinkable. He snatched up his spear, which was never far from his hand, and plunged it through the frail body of the woman before him.

Sumaya bint Khabbat went absolutely still as she felt the wickedly sharp spearhead tear through her body and plunge into her heart. With a shocked gasp, her soul fled her body and was safely reunited with her beloved husband, Yasir.

Abu Jahal meanwhile was left standing over the body of the woman he had murdered. There would, of course, be no real consequences for the murder. The woman was a former slave, of no importance to anyone who mattered. She had no clan to demand he pay blood-money, no tribe who would go to war to avenge her murder. Her death was irrelevant, he told himself firmly.

Abu Jahal personally felt no remorse for the murder he had just committed, but he was very unhappy about the ridicule that would come his way for killing the obstinate woman. Everyone would see it as a grave dishonor, a seasoned warrior killing an unarmed woman. With a frown, Abu Jahal cursed the dead woman and walked away.

On that day, Sumaya defeated Abu Jahal and all those who tried to force her to give up that which she held most dear, her faith. She stubbornly refused to give up Islam and steadfastly held onto it through this life and into the next.

Because of her strength, faith and perseverance, Sumaya bint Khabbat went down in history not only as the first Muslim to be murdered for his or her faith but also as one of the first seven people to openly declare themselves as Muslims. As it turned out, Sumaya bint Khabbat's life and her death were both very, very relevant.

*Written by © 2012. Care to read or leave Comments?

  1. Names, Translations and Aliases:
    • Abu Jahal: أبو جهل عمر بن هشام.
    • Ammar bin Yasir: عمَّار بن ياسر.
    • Muhammad : خاتم الأنبياء الرسول محمد صلى الله عليه و سلم
    • Sumaya bint Khabbat: سُمية بنت خبَّاط.
    • Yasir bin Ammar: ياسر بن عمَّار.

  1. Al-Amili, Z. (2000 AD, 1421 H). معجم أعلام النساء [Compendium of Notable Women]. Beirut: Al-Rey'yaan Co. Page 414-415.
  2. Al-Suhaibani, A. (2004 AD, 1425 H). صور من سير الصحابيات [Brief Biographies of Lady Contemporaries]. Riyadh: Dar Aalam Al-Kutub Publishing and Distributing. Page 141-143.
  3. Halbi, M. (2006 AD, 1427 H). المائة الأوائل من صحابيات الرسول [The Hundred First Lady Contemporaries of the Messenger] (2nd Ed). Beirut: Dar El-Marefah Publishing & Distributing. Page 231-234.
  4. Iskandari, Khalid bin Ibrahim. (2006 AD, 1427 H). صحيح الأثر في المواقف و العبر [True Heritage Events and (Their) Lessons]. Al-Madinha Al-Munawara: Dar Al-Uloom wa Al-Hikam. Page 430-433.

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Martin J Potter
November 02, 2012 - 19:55
Subject: Michelle M Ruiz

I've been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

March 16, 2013 - 07:21
Subject: Sacrifice for Your Lord

Salam alaikum sister and thanks for your hard efforts of clear explanations about our beloved shaheeds. Sad and painful but staunch reminders to us Muslims to hold on firmly to our Deen whilst being polite and respectful of others because we have it easy in comparison. Sayida Sumaya (RA) is further proof that no one can stop the Devine will of Allah Swt. Jazak Allah khair

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