This is only a summary of the life of Hind b. Utba (ra) and subsequently doesn’t cover every narration mentioned about her. This isn’t a written biography but rather a brief look into her life and times so that we can get an idea of her character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (ra)” each time her name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of the companions of the prophet (saw), may Allah be pleased with them all.
Since it was international women’s day it reminded me to write about a woman who I always thought was incredibly influential. Throughout the entire seerah of The Prophet (saw) we all learn one thing for sure, that Hind b. Utbah is a prominent, powerful personality. A unique, headstrong, outspoken and interesting personality that I have always enjoyed reading about and mentioning to other people. It’s no secret that her earlier political career against the Prophet (saw) wasn’t an honorable career however she did convert to Islam at the end of her life making her someone who qualified as one of the sahabiyat (female companions of the prophet pbuh).
Name & Childhood
Her full name was Hind bint ‘Utbah Ibn Rabie’ah Ibn ‘Abd Shams Ibn ‘Abd Manâf. Her father was one of the chiefs of her tribe and subsequently played a huge role in the political decisions of the Arabs in Mecca. Her father named her ‘Hind’ (a common name in that time) which meant ‘India’ in an attempt to give her an exotic name. Since she was a descendant of ‘Abd Shams, this meant that she was heavily connected to the famous Umayyad tribe since the Umayyads were the descendants of ‘Abd Shams as well. As a child she would have grew up in the rough deserts of Arabia in a difficult environment which was Pre-Islamic Arabia. Furthermore, as a child she would have been someone who had some form of education, understood the Arabic language, was able to articulate herself well, understood the society she lived in and had knowledge of politics since she hailed from a politically influential tribe.
Family & Early Adult Life
When Hind became a young woman she prepared to marry as did all the other young women at that society. She married a man called Hafs Ibn Mughira who belonged to the Makhzum clan of the Quraysh. With Hafs, she had her first son called Aban. This marriage didn’t last long since Hafs died at a young age. She then married the brother of Hafs (as was common in that society) called Fakah. Al-Fakah owned a banqueting hall that the public were allowed to enter freely. One day he left Hind alone in the hall and returned home to see one of his employees leaving in a hurry. Assuming that his wife had a lover, he kicked her and asked her who the man had been. She replied that she had been asleep and did not know that anyone had entered; but al-Fakah did not believe her and he divorced her immediately.
Hind then found herself the subject of gossip. Her father Utbah asked her to tell the truth about her divorce. “If the accusations are true, I will arrange to have al-Fakah murdered; and if they are false, I will summon him to appear before a soothsayer from Yemen.” Hind swore by the gods that she was innocent, so Utbah called the soothsayer. Hind was sitting among a crowd of women; the soothsayer walked up, struck her on the shoulder and said, “Arise, you chaste woman and no adulteress. You will give birth to a King!” Al-Fakah then took her hand, ready to accept her back as his wife; but Hind withdrew her hand and said, “Go away, for I shall make sure to bear him to some other man.” Already, we can see how Hind as a young woman, responds to bad situations with strength.
Starting A New Family
Hind then went on to marry her life partner and father of her most famous children. This man was the famous Abu Sufyan (ra) who would become the future ruler of the Quraysh tribe. Hind refused other proposals so she could marry Abu Sufyan. Abu Sufyan was her maternal first cousin and paternal second cousin. In that society, marrying your cousins was the norm. She loved Abu Sufyan and remained married to him until she died. With Abu Sufyan as her husband, she mothered Hanzala, Muawiyah, Utbah amongst other children. Muawiyah (ra) would become the first king of the Umayyad dynasty. Hanzala would die fighting the prophet (saw) in badr. Utbah would grow up to become the governor of Egypt and as a younger man he would hold minor government positions for Caliph Umar.
Her Conversion to Islam
When Abu Sufyan decided to convert to Islam he came back to warn his people of the conquest at which point he was physically and verbally attacked by Hind. She rebuked him in public for cowardice as this was her usual fiery nature.
After this long course confrontation of the Islamic call, the prophet (saw) opened Mecca and thus its people came from everywhere paying homage to Islam. Hind bint `Utbah came while completely veiled and not identified wishing to pay homage to Islam as its people did. The homage paid to women was rather different from that of men. The homage of women was to abstain from polytheism, theft, fornication/ adultry, killing their children, not uttering slander, intentionally forging falsehood (i.e. by making illegal children belonging to their husbands), and disobeying the prophet (saw) in what is right.
The one contemplating on the incidents of Hind would clearly be convinced that she is coming only seeking protection from being killed. However; it was not expected! How was the attitude of the prophet? Women started homage which was conducted as follows. The prophet said: O women! Pay homage not to ascribe partners to Allah, Almighty. Hind, completely veiled and the prophet has not identified her, said: “By Allah, you ask women for things different from men”, Hind meant that the homage of men was abridged, but the homage of women is detailed.
The prophet (saw) did not pay attention and continued: “and do not steal”. Hind stood up and said: “O Allah’s messenger! My husband, Abu Sufyan is a stingy man that he does not supply me and his children the sufficient provision. So, am I sinful if I took from his wealth a sufficient provision informing him not of that?” The prophet replied: “take the sufficient provision for you and your children customarily”.
Upon that the prophet paid attention and said: “Are you Hind bint `Utbah?” She replied: “yes, it is me, Hind. forgive me! May Allah forgive you!” Indeed, it is a crucial moment in the life of Hind. The reason she was asking for forgiveness was because she spent most of her adult life fighting the prophet (saw) and in Uhud she would famously recite her poetry and build up the confidence of the Qurayshi soldiers against the Muslims. It is well known she might have acted in an evil manner against the muslims. As usual, the forgiving prophet pardoned her and gave no word reflecting his frustration, rather; he waived all his rights and simply accepted her Islam and went on paying homage to women as if not annoyed at all.
The prophet (saw) continued: “and do not commit fornication/ adultery”. Hind continued speaking out and said: “does the noble woman commit fornication?”. The prophet (saw) paid no attention and continued: “and do not kill your children”. Hind, once again, interrupted the course of homage. She said: “we raised them as children and you killed them as adults. Have you left behind any man of ours except that he was killed by you? You have killed their fathers on the Day of Badr and instructing us concerning their children right now?”. This was of course a sign of her usual powerful character but these words were also unfair to say to the prophet (saw) since the Quraysh were the ones who oppressed the prophet (saw). Yet, the forgiving prophet (saw) overlooked these remarks of her.
The prophet smiled and commented with no word. The prophet acted simply and appreciated the question of Hind and the how difficult is Islam for her. The prophet continued: “do not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood” (i.e. by making illegal children belonging to their husbands). Hind, again, said: “By Allah! How abominable to do that!”. The prophet continued: “do not disobey me in what is right”. Hind said: “by Allah, We came not to you while intending to disobey you in what is right”. In this manner, all women of Mecca, including Hind, paid homage to the prophet (saw).
Hind As A Muslim
Now the courage and bravery of the Hind would benefit the Muslim community. Hind, being the enthusiastic character she was, accompanied her husband (Abu Sufyan) and son (Muawiyah) to the Battle of Yarmouk. This was the first full scale battle between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Romans. In this battle, her step-son Yazeed Ibn Abu Sufyan (ra) was one of the commanders of the battle. She was already shouting and cheering the Muslims on with her poetry and bravery. This behaviour encouraged the Muslims not to lose heart and to stay patient in the middle of the difficulty. Some sources even mention how Hind joined the battle at one stage. This just goes to show us how powerful of a character she was.
At one point, when arrows started raining down on Abu Sufyan and he tried to turn his horse away, Hind struck his horse in the face with a tent-peg and said: “Where do you think you’re going, O Sakhr? Go back to battle and put effort into it until you compensate for having incited people in the past against Muhammad.” As a result of her encouragement, Hind forced Abu Sufyan to return to the battle where he continued to fight against the Romans. In this way, she was a factor of victory for the Muslims in the Battle of Yamourk.
Raising A King
One story mentions how Muawiyah (ra) fell on the floor as a child and began to cry. Hind shouted “Get up or may you be disgraced”. A passerby who was a doctor told Hind that she shouldn’t be too harsh on the child and that he could see the boy was intelligent (from his facial features) and had a feeling that the child (Muawiyah) would rule Mecca as an older man. Hind laughed and said “He won’t only rule Mecca, he’ll rule all of Arabia”. It was at this moment that the Doctor realised that Hind was treating her son harshly in order to prepare him for the harsh world he would face as an older man. Muawiyah (ra) remained grateful to his mother for his whole life and named one of his daughters Hind when he became a father himself.
Hind put a lot of time and energy into raising her children. She believed that her son, Muawiyah, would go on to become a King and so she made sure he had every possible door opened for him so that he could become successful. She made sure to push him to his limit and to hold him to a very high standard. Muawiyah (ra) would eventually become the first King of the Muslim world and one of the greatest administrators the world has ever seen.
Hind enjoys a rich legacy in the Muslim world today. Since she is a companion she is respected in the Muslim world. Hind b. Utbah is also a household name alongside other members of her family. The Muslim world is well aware of her unique personality, famous political career, success as a wife and mother etc. It is important for both women and men to emulate her bravery and courage as these are qualities that are very necessary in order to become successful in the world today.
Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah
Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa’l Muluk
Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8
Ibn Saad’s Tabaqaat
Munir Mohammed AlGhadban, Hind Bint Utbeh (1982) p. 19. Riyadh: Mektabat Al-Haramin.
Jalal al-Deen al-Suyuti. Tarikh al-Khulufa.
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