Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Bravery of the Muslim Women
Peter gathered the Muslim women at the river. He regarded Khawlah bint al-Azwar as the most beautiful and so said to his men, “She is mine and I am her, none of you should object.” They accepted and so each one started choosing a woman and saying, “she is mine.” They gathered the sheep and loot and awaited Paulus. The women were detained in a tent. Most of them were aged women from the tribes of Himyar, ‘Amâliqah and Tubba’, who were used to riding at night and fighting ‘Arab tribesmen. Khawlah addressed them, “O daughters of Himyar! O valuable ones of Tubba’! Does it please you to be overcome by Roman disbelievers and be their slave-girls? What has happened to that bravery which was the talk of the slave-girls of ‘Arabs and the gatherings of the ‘Arabs? How sad that I now see you bereft of all bravery and honour. I consider death better than the humiliation of serving Romans.”
‘Afirah bint ‘Affâr al-Himyarîyah: Whatever you have mentioned, O daughter of Azwar, about our bravery, intelligence and rank is quite true. It is also true that we are accustomed to horse-riding and putting the enemy to difficulty. However, what can we do when we have neither horse, nor spear, nor sword; nor any other weapon? You know very well that they came suddenly and caught us like lost sheep when we had no weapons.
Khawlah: O daughters of Tubba’, your negligence is no excuse. We can uproot the pegs and pillars of the tent and attack the wretches therein. Perhaps Allâh will grant us victory, or else at least we will attain martyrdom. In this way we will wipe the mark of disgrace from our foreheads.
‘Afirah:By Allâh! What a wonderful and appropriate suggestion
So each woman uprooted a peg. Khawlah bound her waist and putting a peg on her shoulder, went ahead followed by ‘Afirah, Umm Abân bint ‘Utbah, Salamah bint Nu’man bin Muqirr and the others all shouting “Is there any challenger?”
Khawlah began instructing this female army on battle formation. “Be like the links of a chain, never separate for then spears will pierce your breasts, swords will cut your necks, your skulls will be cut off and heaped here. She went and hit her peg so hard on a Roman’s head that h e dropped down dead. The romans were thrown into confusion and started asking each other, “What is happening?”, when suddenly they saw peg carrying women advancing upon them. Peter shrieked at the, “What are you doing you wretches?”
‘Afirah replied, “We have decided that today we will rectify your brains with these tent-pegs and shorten your life-spans, thus removing a spot of disgraces from our ancestors’ faces.”
Peter laughed and said to his people, “Shame on you. Go, spread out and catch them alive, but whoever catches Khawlah should not get any ideas.”
The Romans encircled them, but as soon as anyone came near, the women would break his horse’s legs with the pegs and when he thus fell down, would smash up his face. In this way, thirty Romans were killed and none neared them. Peter became infuriated and followed by his companions, dismounted. They walked to the women shaking their fists and swords. The women hurried towards each other and said,
“Death with honour is better than life with disgrace.”
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