In our continuing series about exemplary women in Islamic history, Sheikh Faris Ali Al Mustafa turns the spotlight on Hafsa
Gold, ah lovely gold! Its graceful glitter has always been always conveted by worshippers of the material world. The precious metal’s alluring value lends great power to its temptation. This object of devotion is even able to seduce the believers in the Word of God.
Yes, there are those among the faithful who waver occasionally. The believers can be distracted from their worship. We know because each one of us has occasionally allowed our attention to stray from the face of God..
What is the antidote to this infernal temptation? It’s easy! Concentrate on the true objects of value in this world. We have the Word revealed in order to strengthen our feeble wills. We have the Prophets sent to us to show the path to the One. And we have the examples of the truest believers to guide us.
These exemplaires possess all and more of the allure of gold. These saints possess such power to attract and captivate our attention that we naturally want to emulate them. In this series of articles we have highlighted the Women of Distinction in the history of Islam. The believers can find so much of value in the examples of such women who rose above the mundane and the frivolous to shine in the firmament as inspirations to the rest of us.
Hafsa bint Omar provides such an example of distinction which we can emulate. She was the daughter of the second Muslim Caliph, Omar bin Al Khatab, born a mere five years prior to the emergence of Islam. The Hadith, the collection of early traditions and stories about the Prophet, tells her story.
When she was still a teenager, she had been married to Khuneis bin Khudafa Al Sahmi, one of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) early companions who had migrated with him during the flight to Madina, the hijra. The marriage ended in divorce. At the end of the ‘odda’, the necessary waiting period after the separation, her father Omar proposed her to the man who would become the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. He did not answer. The father then proposed her to Othman bin Affan, who would later become the third Caliph. He also did not show interest.
Broken-hearted, Omar complained to the Prophet, who replied, “Hafsa shall marry to him who is better than Othman, and Othman shall marry another who is better than Hafsa.” So saying, the Prophet then proposed that he himself marry the girl of twenty. It was the third year after the hijra.
The times were chaotic, as the band of believers were few, and their opponents many. The Prophet eventually decided that he must divorce his young wife, but then the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and addressed him: “Hafsa is a true believer, frequently fasting and praying. She will remain your wife even in Paradise.” Gabriel told the Prophet that God had ordered him to take back his faithful wife, which he did. They remained husband and wife for the years remaining of Mohannned’s life. She died according to a reliable Hadith in the year 41 Hijri.
The reputation of Hafsa was sanctified by the devoutness of her belief and humble practice. She earned her role in Islam as a Mother of the Faithful. She was esteemed to such a degree that when she died, in a Hadith narrated by Al Wakidi, the ruler of Madina, Marwan, carried her on her bed to her tomb, and after her burial, another of the prominent companions of the Prophet, Abu Huraira, held that bed and wept.
Gold is indeed a subject of interest to the believers. God has bestowed on the faithful golden women of distinction such as Hafsa to guide us to the straight path. Go ahead, be tempted! Let her glittering example be the profit you gain from worship of the One God.