The First Female Martyr of Islam
All praise is due to Allah, Lord, Creator, Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds. Eternal peace, blessings and salutations upon His Beloved, the choicest of creation and the best of all Divine Emissaries, Beloved Nabi Muhammad (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam), upon his illustrious family and companions.
[Patience, O family of Yaasar; for indeed, your promise is Paradise!]
These were the words of Beloved Nabi Muhammad (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam) to the parents of Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar Ibn Yaasar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu), before they were martyred by the disbelievers of Quraysh. Tied to poles in the scorching heat of the desert sun, amongst them Sayyidunaa ‘Ammaar Ibn Yaasar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu), they were tortured for one reason only; their strong belief in Allah as the only One Worthy of worship, and Beloved Nabi Muhammad (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam) as His Final Messenger.
The mother of Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu) was none other than Sayyidah Sumayyah, may Allah be pleased with her, who was the first woman to be blessed with martyrdom in Islam. Made to lie down on her back, with her arms stretched and tied next to her, she was heartlessly tortured and martyred in front of her son. She did not waver in her belief, as the Quraysh relentlessly tortured her, and until she was killed by Abu Jahl (the curse of Allah upon him). She sacrificed her life for the sake of Allah and His Beloved Nabi Muhammad (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam), and to raise the flag of Islam. She was one of those who took allegiance from the Holy Prophet (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam), and patiently bore the persecution that the Quraysh afflicted upon the Muslims.
Sayyidah Sumayya (Radhiy Allahu Anha) was one of the first Muslims to accept Islam in Makkah, and she followed Sayyidah Khadija al-Kubra’ (Radhiy Allahu Anha), Sayyiduna Abu Bakr asSiddeeq(ra), Sayyiduna Suhayb (ra), Sayyiduna Khabbaab (ra) and Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar (ra), her son. Sayyiduna Mujaahid (ra), a prolific scholar of Islam, says that Sayyidah Sumayyah (Radhiy Allahu Anha) was the first woman to be martyred, and one of the first to openly declare their Islam.
Sayyidah Sumayyah (Radhiy Allahu Anha) was the slave girl of Abu Huthayfah Ibn Al-Mugheerah Ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar Ibn Mahkzoom. She married his confederate, Sayyiduna Yaasar Ibn ‘Aamir Ibn Maalik Ibn Kanaanah Ibn Qays Al-Anasi (Radhiy Allahu Anhu), a Qahtani Arab from the Banu ‘Ans tribe. He came to Makkah along with two of his brothers, Al-Haarith and Al-Maalik, seeking their fourth brother ‘Abdullah; and when the other two returned to Yemen, he remained in Makkah. He took an alliance with Huthayfah Ibn Al-Mugheerah, and married his slave girl; Sayyidah Sumayyah (Radhiy Allahu Anha) and she bore him Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu). Huthayfah then set him free, and they remained with him until his demise. When Rasoolullah (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam) brought and revived Islam, Sayyiduna Yaasar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu), his son Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu), and his brother Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah (Radhiy Allahu Anhu) all became Muslims.
The family of Sayyiduna Yaasar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu) were tortured in the most severe and relentless manner, for the sake of Islam, and because they would not accept any other lifestyle as their faith. They patiently bore the torments and the persecution that was afflicted upon them, as the Light of Allah had illuminated their hearts. It is narrated on the authority of Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu) that the idolaters persecuted them in such a ruthless manner, that he was forced to conceal his faith and openly declare disbelief. It was for this reason that the holy verse of the Noble Qur’aan came down:
[Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his faith, except the one who is forced to, and his heart is content and filled with sincere faith.]
When the Holy Prophet (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam) went to him after his mother had been martyred, he asked him: “What is bothering you?” He replied: “Evil, O Rasoolullah (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam)! They did not leave me alone until I insulted you and spoke well about their gods.” Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam) then asked him: “In what condition is your heart?” He replied: “Filled and content with faith.” He replied: “If they return to you, then repeat your action.”
The family of Sayyiduna Yaasar (Radhiy Allahu Anhu) were persecuted in the sweltering heat of Makkah, and the Holy Prophet (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to pass by them, and ask Allah to bless them with Paradise and with the best of rewards. Sayyidah Sumayyah (Radhiy Allahu Anha) was martyred after Abu Jahl stabbed her with a spear, and she passed away immediately. She was an old woman at the time, and poverty stricken. She steadfastly held on to Islam, and no one could make her abandon her belief, because of the faith that was strongly planted in her heart. It was for this reason that she was able to remain firm in her belief, and patiently bear the torture and persecution that she suffered.
We learn that she is one of the greatest martyrs to die for the cause of Islam. Her belief in Allah was sincere and strong, and this is why it was firmly planted in her heart; which made her reach strong conviction that eternal success in the life of this world and the Hereafter, lies in Islam. May Allah reward her, her family, and all those who suffered for the sake of Islam, with the best of rewards and the highest abode in Paradise.