Umm Waraqah (ra), the Martyr
The story of Umm Waraqah, the martyr, is certainly one of the prominent landmarks and clear signs on the path of prophethood.
Umm Waraqah was one of the Ansari female Companions. She was of high .and noble lineage and she was wealthy. She embraced Islam and believed in the words of her Lord. She devoted her attention to the Noble Qur’an reading it, memorizing it and following its teachings and rules. The Qur’an became her main concern and all aspects of her private and public life revolved around it. She attained a high and commendable status in this aspect.
When the Messenger of Allah (saws) called upon the Muslims to go to Badr to intercept a caravan of Quraysh led by Abu Sufiyan, Sakhr ibn Harb, on its way back from Syria and that was carrying commercial commodities, that Allah might transfer it to them, especially the emigrants from whom the Quraysh seized their houses, properties and monies, Umm Waraqah wanted to go out with the Prophet (saws). She explained her wish and her intention.
She came to him and said: “O’ Messenger of Allah (saws) allow me to go out with you so that I could nurse the sick ones among your Companions, and perhaps, Allah will bless me with martyrdom.”
The Messenger of Allah (saws) replied her, “Stay in your house, Allah will bless you with martyrdom.”
From that day onward, she was called ‘the martyr’.
Umm Waraqah was in fact influenced by the concept of martyrdom, and that it is a contract of allegiance between the Creator and His believing servants. Allah says:
“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for [the price] that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah’s Cause, so they kill [others] and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Tawrat and the Injeel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success.” [9:111]
Umm Waraqah attained success in this world and got a lot of wealth, fame, noble lineage, high status and all that the seeker of this world would want to have. But she never strove for the beauty of this world though she saw it rising and falling in people’s hands. She saw that the materials of this world would end and what is with Allah would remain.
She was deeply influenced by the picture of the bliss of Paradise that never changes or comes to an end. She was equally moved by the news of what Allah has prepared there for its dwellers of an enjoyment that no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart has ever imagined, especially prepared for the martyrs.
In her expression, “bless me”, we will realize her accurate understanding and clear intention. It is in this context that sound balancing between the ‘purchase’ and ‘sale’ (in the above verse) can be realized.
Umm Waraqah stayed in her house and devoted her time to her scripts in which Surahs of the Qur’an were written, reciting their verses with humbleness and piety. With the passing of each day, she increases in her closeness to Allah and in her piety.
As we have said earlier, she was known since that day, the day of the battle of Badr as ‘the martyr’. None of the Companions or other people mentioned her except with this noble title.
But how, since days and months passed while she was still alive?!!!
One day, she came to the Prophet seeking permission to have a caller to prayer (mu’adhdhin) in her house. He granted her that request and she made a section of her house praying area where she led some Muslim women of her family and her female relatives and friends who met in her house in prayers.
She was overwhelmed with happiness to see herself worshipping her Lord amidst a group of women around her whose ranks kept swelling every day and who constantly supplicated to Allah and remembered Him.
She was not married, either did she had any children. But she was not living alone in her big house. She had a housemaid and a male servant who served her. She treated them, like a mother would treat her children, affectionately and lovingly.
Umm Waraqah responded positively to the law of Allah. This should definitely be so since she was a truthful believer, given to frequent observance of fast and night prayers. She sought her reward from Allah in the abode of the Hereafter.
She made a will that if she died, the housemaid and the male servant should be set free. This action has brought joy to the servant and the maid and they expected the decree of Allah upon their mistress, Umm Waraqah!
The Messenger of Allah (saws) died. And the mantle of leadership of the Ummah fell on Abu Bakr. Then came Umar’s turn, as the second caliph.
Throughout this period, Umm Waraqah was still alive, aging, continuing in her acts of worship and keen to meet Allah as a pure Muslimah.
She used to sleep very little in the night. In the hours of darkness she would seek Allah’s forgiveness and worship Him in humbleness. She would pray and recite the Qur’an unceasingly.
One night, a caller called, “Come to martyrdom, O’ Umm Waraqah! The time has come and your appointment with death is here! The earth is confined for you in spite of its vastness! What is with Allah is best and lasting! You certainly have nearness to Allah and a good place of return!”
The announcer of blessing and success has made his proclamation regarding Umm Waraqah.
Shaytaan then screamed into the ears of the servant and the maid telling them, “It has been too long; what are you then waiting for? Come to freedom! It is only Umm Waraqah’s last breaths that lie between you and your freedom. Come on!”
So both of them stood up and strangled her to death. They then wrapped her in piece of cloth, put her at a side of the house and fled.
The commander of the faithful ‘Umar woke up for Fajr prayer. He observed something that attracted his attention. When he finished from the prayer he told people, “By Allah I did not hear the recitation of my aunty Umm Waraqah last night!!”
He then came to her house in the company of some people to see what had happened to her. When they entered, they found no one and they did not hear any movement. It was then that ‘Umar sensed that something unpleasant might have happened to her!
And suddenly they found her wrapped in a piece of cloth – dead!!!
‘Umar then said, “Allah and His Messenger said the truth!”
And those who were with him echoed, “Allah and His Messenger said the truth!”
We, who came centuries and generations after them are also saying, “Allah and His Messenger said the truth!”
Umm Waraqah was eventually blessed with martyrdom!
‘Umar went back to the mosque, ascended the pulpit and broke the news to the people. He then commanded that the two run-away servants should be pursued and brought to justice.
They were brought because they had not gone far from Madinah. They confessed to their crime and they were ordered to be crucified. Allah says:
“The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.” [5:33]
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