HAFSAH BINT UMAR
LIFE AND LESSONS
Hafsah BINT Umar was one of the daughters of the great Companion and Khalifah ‘UradhiAllahuanhamar ibn al-Khattaab. She was also one of the Mother of the believers as she was married to the Prophet, peace be upon him.
In Arabic, Hafs is one of the names given to the lion. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), would often address ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) as Abu Hafs (the father of Hafs, i.e. Hafsah).
Her Marriage to the Prophet
Before being married to the Prophet (peace be upon him) she was married to a man known as Hisn ibn Hudhafah. He witnessed the Battle of Badr and then fell ill at Madeenah and died, leaving Hafsah widowed.
When Hafsah became a widow it worried and distressed ‘Umar. One day he walked to the house of Aboo Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and offered his daughter in marriage to him. Aboo Bakr remained silent and did not say a word. ‘Umar left his house quite and upset and confused.
He then went to ‘Uthmaan and thought that since the Prophet’s daughter Ruqayyah, who was ‘Uthmaan’s wife, had passed away, he would probably respond favorably. But ‘Uthmaan replied, “I do not want to marry today.” This was because ‘Uthmaan was still not over the death of his beloved wife. ‘Umar, clearly upset, left and this was when the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw him and asked him as to why he looked so worried. ‘Umar informed him of what had happened and the Messenger of Allah (salallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said, “Hafsah shall marry someone who is better than ‘Uthmaan and ‘Uthmaan shall marry someone who is better than Hafsah.” ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) left the Prophet’s company relieved, but confused over what the Prophet (peace be upon him) had meant.
When ‘Umar met Aboo Bakr he told him about what the Prophet (peace be upon him) had said. Abu Bakr smiled and said,
“I have heard the Messenger of Allah (salallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) mentioning Hafsah. But I did not want to reveal his secret. If he had not shown his interest in marrying her, I would have married her. So do not bear any grudge against me.”
That is how the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) married Hafsah and ‘Uthmaan married Umm Kulthoom. Hafsah now luckily had the prestigious title of being called the ‘Mother of the Fathful’.
A Pious Woman
Hafsah (may Allah be pleased wih her) was a devote worshipper. She was very pious, fasted during the day and prayed at night. She was closest to ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) from the Prophet’s wives. In fact it was as if both were real sisters! This is because they always agreed and never disagreed.
However, Hafsah’s personality had a tinge of what her name suggested, as she had a strong and tough personality. Perhaps she had taken after her father, ‘Umar al-Faarooq.
It was because of this that the Prophet (peace be upon him) divorced her once and then took her back.
Ibn Sa’d recorded that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) divorced Hafsah once and then took her back because the Angel Gabriel said to him,
“Take Hafsah back, for she frequently fasts and prays in the night and she is your wife in Paradise.”
Abu Saleel, in his version of the narration said, “‘Umar entered Hafsah’s place while she was crying and asked whether the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) had divorced her. He said to her,
He divorced you once and has taken you back only because of me. If he divorces you again, I will never speak to you again.”
After this, Hafsah was keen never to annoy the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) again until he died.
May Allah be pleased with her and with them all. Aameen.
Hafsa was studious
In a time when most men and women were illiterate, Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her) could read and write. Hafsa devoted herself to learning the literary arts when it was not a necessity of life and was very rare indeed especially for women to have this knowledge.
But her studious habits went further than reading and writing. When she migrated from Mecca to Medina, Hafsa made special arrangements to memorize the verses of the Qur’an as they were revealed. After memorizing each verse, she would think deeply about them, paying special attention to its meaning, implications, and interpretations.
Hafsa’s devotion to knowledge went above and beyond what was required of her. She worked tirelessly to acquire knowledge and to preserve that knowledge for future generations.
Hafsa was very inquisitive
Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her) never shied away from questioning. She was often discussing the finer points of Islamic law or asking the Prophet (PBUH) for clarification. Once, Hafsa, another female companion, and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were sitting and chatting together.
During this chat, the Prophet (PBUH) told his wife and this companion that not everyone who had given the pledge of loyalty at Hudaybiyah would enter Paradise. She asked how that was possible. Hafsa could see that The Prophet became piqued, but she did not give up her line of questioning. She quoted a verse from Surah Maryam, “There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell)” (19:71), as her reason why she was curious about his statement.
In response, the Prophet (PBUH) quoted the very next verse from Surah Maryam as clarification to her question,
“Then We shall save those who use to fear Allah and were dutiful to Him. And We shall leave the wrongdoers therein to their knees (in Hell)” (19:72)
She was never at a loss for words, and was not afraid to contend with the Prophet (PBUH). But she never questioned the Prophet out of defiance. Hafsa just needed to know. Whether or not it was aggravating, she just truly felt a strong urge to satisfy her inquisitive nature.
Hafsa was trustworthy
After her arrangement in Medina to memorize each verse as it came down, Hafsa naturally became hafiz of the Qur’an (someone who has memorized the Quran in its entirety). Because she was literate, hafiz, and a part of the Prophet’s household, she was entrusted with the palm branches, slates, and other materials upon which the revealed Qur’an had been written.
Hafsa protected the documentation of the revelation of the Quran during the Prophet’s life “until the time of ‘Uthmaan when he (may Allah be pleased with him) decided to compile the Qur’an into a single book form”.
The Qur’an is the most important and treasured thing the world could ever contain. And Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her) was entrusted with its verbal and written forms. She was considered the custodian of the Quran and the primary source in both verbal and textual forms. If she had not been of the utmost trustworthiness, the Prophet (PBUH) and the Companions would not have given her this momentous task of safekeeping the Qur’an.
Hafsa was tough
Hafsa’s personality reflected her father’s, who was renowned for his toughness, and her namesake. Hafsa, meaning “young lioness” in Arabic, meaning strong and tough.
One day, while speaking to Hafsa’s mother, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I think I shall so and so”. Whereupon his wife replied, “But it would be better if you did such and such”. “Are you arguing with me, woman?” said Umar. “Why not?” she answered. “Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah until she upsets him for the whole day.”
Umar immediately put on his cloak and went directly to his daughter’s house. “Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?” he asked. “Indeed I do,” She replied.
Umar was just about to chastise her for what he considered were bad manners, when the Prophet (PBUH) came into the room and would not allow him to touch her.
So Umar went around to visit Umm Salama (may Allah be pleased with her), […] in order to try and influence Hafsa’s behavior through her. “I wonder at you, Ibn Khattab [Umar],” she [Umm Salama] said, after she had listened to him. “You have interfered in everything. Will you now interfere between the Messenger of Allah and his wives?”.
Umar, when relating this incident, continued, “And she kept after me until she made me give up much of what I thought proper.”
Hafsa stood her ground when it came to her right to discuss issues with her husband and even argue with him. She was brave and tough even in the face of her father’s anger. But she didn’t back down and maintained that not everything her father thought proper should or could happen in her own marriage.
Hafsa was devout
Angel Gabriel described her to the Prophet (PBUH) as frequently performing (voluntary) fasting and night prayers, and that she was to be one of his wives in Paradise.
Hafsa had her flaws, but she was also a strong woman, who knew her own mind, and would not allow anyone to convince her of something without evidence. She was a true slave of Allah and follower of the messenger of Allah (PBUH). She stands out in history as a truly great and dynamic woman.
It was at the beginning of the 44 A.H. that the Mother of the Believers Hafsah departed from this world and joined the company of her most dear ones, her Husband and Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Companions.