Hafsah Bint Umar ibn Al-Khattab

Ahmad Thompson

eBook: The Wives of the Prophet

source: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.


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Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with her, was the daughter of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al Khattab. She had been married to someone else, but was widowed when she as still very young, only eighteen. Umar asked both Abu Bakr and Uthman ibn Affan, one after another, if they would like to marry her, but they both declined because they knew that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had expressed an interest in marrying her. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to complain about their behavior, the Prophet smiled, and said, "Hafsah will marry one better than Uthman and Uthman will marry one better than Hafsah."

Umar was startled and then realized that it was the Prophet was asking for her hand in marriage. He was overcome with delight. They were married just after the battle of Badr, when Hafsah was about twenty years old and the Prophet as fifty-six. By this marriage, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) strengthened the ties between two of his closest Companions, the two who would become the first two rightly guided khalifs after his death. He was now married to the daughter of Abu Bakr, A'isha and to the daughter of Umar, Hafsah.

Two of the other closest Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who would become the third and fourth Rightly guided Khalifs were also connected to the Prophet through marriage. Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) married Ruqayya, then daughter of the Prophet, in Mecca, and then, after her death in Medina, soon after the battle of Badr, he had married Umm Khulthum, also the daughter of the Prophet. It was because he married two of the daughters of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that Uthman was given the title of Dhun Nurayn, which means 'the possessor of two lights'. And Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) had married Fatima, the youngest daughter of the Prophet, shortly before the Prophet had married A'isha.

Hafsah, like A'isha with whom she became close friends, was never at a loss for words, and was not afraid to argue with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who was content to allow her to say what she thought. One day, while speaking to Hafsah'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 who was a fierce man who did not expect his wives to talk back at him. "Why not?" she answered. "Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah until she upsets him for the whole day." Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) 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 (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came into the room and would not allow him to even touch her. So Umar went round to visit Umm Salamah, to whom Umar was related in order to try and influence Hafsah's behavior through her.

"I wonder at you, Ibn Khattab," she said, after she had listened to him. "You have interfered in everything. Will you now interfere between the Messenger of Allah and his wives?" Sayiduna Umar when relating this incident, continued, "And she kept after me until she made me give up much of what I thought proper." Some sources say that the Prophet divorced Hafsah with a single divorce and that Umar was heart broken when this happened and began to throw dust on his head.

Then the Prophet took her back after Jibril had descended and said to him. "Take Hafsah back. She fasts and prays and she will be your wife in the Garden." Like A'isha, Hafsah memorized the entire Qur'an by heart. The written copy of the Qur'an which was recorded by Zayd ibn Thabit on Abu Bakr's instructions, and which was then given to Umar for safekeeping, was then given by Umar to Hafsah to look after. When Uthman eventually became the khalif, he instructed several written copies of the Qur'an to be made so that they could be sent to the main centers of the now rapidly expanding Muslim empire, and it was the copy in Hafsah's keeping that was used, after it had been meticulously checked for its accuracy by referring to all the other written records of the Qur'an and to all the Muslims who knew the Qur'an by heart.

Hafsah lived with the Prophet in Medina for eight years, may Allah bless him and grant him peace and lived on for another thirty four years after his death, witnessing with joy the victories and expansion of Islam under her father's guidance, and with sorrow the troubles that beset the Muslim community after the murder of Uthman. She died in 47 AH at the age of sixty-three. May Allah be pleased with her.