Hazrat Hafsa bint Umar ibn al-Khattab

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Awais Rabbani, Missionary

The meaning of Hafsa: Young lioness

Father: Umar ibn al-Khattab ra (Hazrat Umar Farooqra)

Mother: Zainab bint Maz‘unra

Tribe: Quraish, Banu Adi

First Husband: Khunaisbin Huzaifara

Married to the Holy Prophetsa: 3 AH

Demise: 45 AH

Introduction

Hazrat Hafsara was the daughter of Hazrat Umar ibn al-Khattabra and Hazrat Zainab bint Maz‘unra. Born several years before the first revelation from God, she was raised in a family renowned for its learning and education. Like her father, she was inquisitive, sharp-witted and a courageous woman who lived up to her name.

Family

As stated, she was the daughter of Hazrat Umarra, the second Khalifa of Islam. Hazrat Umarra earned the title of “Farooq”, meaning the one who distinguishes between right and wrong. Regarding Hazrat Umarra, the Holy Prophetsa said:
“If there were to be a prophet after me, it would be Umar.”(Tirmidhi, Vol. 1, book 46)

His son and Hafsa’sra brother, Hazrat Abdullah bin Umarra was also a close companion of the Holy Prophetsa. Salim narrates on the authority of his father a hadith in which Hazrat Hafsara relates one of her brothers’ dream to the Holy Prophetsa. The Messengersa of Allah commented:

“Abdullah is a good man. [I wish for him] to observe Tahajud more often.”

Upon hearing this, Hazrat Abdullahra became more observant of Tahajud prayer. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

A pious nature

The incident mentioned above is indicative of the atmosphere in which Hazrat Hafsara was raised. A devout Muslim herself, she grew up amidst the senior companions of the Holy Prophetsa and embodied their characteristics. She would often observe fasts and stay awake most of her nights offering Tahajud. Hence, it leaves little to question why she was chosen as one of the wives of the Prophet of Islamsa in this life and the Hereafter. The archangel Gabrielas attested to her traits before her husband:

“She fasts often and frequently prays at night; she will be your wife in Paradise” (Mustadrak al-Hakim)

Marriage to the Holy Prophetsa

Hazrat Hafsara was first married to Hazrat Khunais bin Huzaifara who, owing to the atrocities of the Quraish, had migrated both to Abyssinia and Medina to seek God’s pleasure. At the Battle of Badr, he was severely wounded and later succumbed to his injuries.

The account of her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa is rather amusing, which Hazrat Umarra narrates in the following words:

“When Hafsa bint Umar lost her husband, a companion of the Holy Prophetsa, Khunais bin Huzaifa al-Sahmi, who had fought at Badr and [later] died in Medina, I met Uthman bin Affan and suggested that he should marry Hafsa, to which he replied, ‘I will think it over.’ I waited for a few days and then he said to me, ‘I am of the opinion that I shall not marry at present.’ Then I met Abu Bakr and said, ‘If you wish, I can marry Hafsa bint Umar to you.’ He kept quiet and did not respond. I became agitated and it [displeased me] more than Uthman’s [response]. Some days later, the Prophetsa asked for her hand in marriage and I married her to him. Later, Abu Bakr approached me and said, ‘Perhaps you were angry with me when you offered me Hafsa for marriage and I gave no reply to you?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Abu Bakr replied, ‘Nothing prevented me from accepting your offer except that I learnt that the Prophet of Allah had referred to the issue of Hafsa and I did not want to disclose his secret, but had he (the Prophetsa) not married her, I would surely have accepted her.”(Sahih al-Bukhari)

Another hadith relates that when Hazrat Umarra disclosed his predicament to the Holy Prophetsa and he received a response from both the companions, the Messenger of Allahas smiled and consoled him that Hafsara would get a better husband and Uthmanra would receive a better wife.

Thirst for knowledge

Hazrat Hafsara learnt to read and write at an early age and had memorised the Holy Quran by heart. Her knowledge of religious matters was very sound. At least 60 ahadith have been quoted by her. Like her father, she was inquisitive by nature and would not shy away from asking questions to quench her thirst for knowledge.

Sahih Muslim mentions an incident that once, the Holy Prophetsa told Hazrat Hafsara, “Of those who took the pledge of Aqabah, none would enter hell.” Hazrat Hafsara, who was of a curious disposition, replied, “[What about the verse which states] ‘There is not one of you, but will come to it.’” The Holy Prophetsa pointed her to the next verse which stated, “God shall save the righteous and leave the wrongdoers therein, on their knees.”(Sahih Muslim)

It ought to be understood that by no means had she meant to question the authority of the Holy Prophetsa out of defiance, rather it was her keen sense of observation which would often compel her to inquire and comprehend the intricacies of the Quranic injunctions more deeply.

Custodian of the Quran

During his lifetime, the Holy Prophetsa used to entrust Hazrat Hafsara with the parchments on which the Holy Quran was inscribed for safekeeping. After his demise, a large number of Muslims who had memorised the Holy Quran laid down their lives in the Battle of Yamama. Hazrat Abu Bakrra ordered Hazrat Zaidra bin Thabit to compile the Quran into a single book form. Hazrat Hafsara was also consulted in the matter.

By the end of the second Khilafat, Hazrat Umarra bequeathed the compiled copy to his daughter which remained with her till her demise. Numerous copies were made from her version of the copy in the era of Hazrat Uthmanra and distributed throughout the Muslim world.

Demise

She died in the month of Shaban, 45 AH. Her funeral prayers were led by the governor of Medina, Marwan bin Al Hakam.

Many prominent companions of the Holy Prophetsa partook in her funeral, including Hazrat Abu Hurairara. She was buried in Jannat-ul-Baqi alongside the rest of the mothers of the faithful.

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