Then

khansaa

Al Khansaa is a very famous poetess during the prophetic period and one of the greatest literary figures of all time. Her poems are still being read and studied today in Arabic literature classes. When I told my mom that I was writing about her, she told me about this song that is a recent anasheed about the women of Islam (recent in comparison to her time, so really it was when I was very young)

Walk in the footsteps of Al Khansaa                                                                                                                                                    في خطا الخنساء سيري

And take your light from Asma (bint Abu Bakr)                                                                                                                                        وبأسماء استنيري

Every time the wind blows your way (you endure a difficult period)                                                                                                       كلما هاجت رياح

Remember the times of our ancestors (how they persevered through hardship)                                                                             ذكري عهد الجدود

In the footsteps of Al Khansaa                                                                                                                                                                        في خطا الخنساء

In the footsteps of Al Khansaa follow (become)                                                                                                                               في خطا الخنساء سيري

Remember her in the gulf                                                                                                                                                                               واذكريها في الخليج

   Remember her everywhere                                                                                                                                                                          في العبير والأريج

Come the women of excellence                                                                                                                                                                          يا فتاة المجد هيا

To the heights of the greatest present                                                                                                                                                             للعلا بين الوجود

……………………………………………

Tamadur bint ‘Amr Ibn al-Hârith Ibn ash-Sharîd, or as she is most commonly known, Al Khansaa, was from the tribe of Banu Sulaym. She was a beautiful princess and was very eloquent from a young age. She had two brothers, Mu’awiyah and Sakhr, whom she was very fond of.

She was widowed twice before marrying her husband Mird’as bin Ali Aamir Assalma with whom she had three sons, Zaid, Mu’awiyah and Umar. She had an older son Abduallah from one of her previous marriages.

Al Khansaa started writing poems from a very early age, but they were only two or three lines of poetry. It wasn’t until her brother Mu’awiyah was killed during an inter tribe battle that her poetry became longer and more emotional as she grieved her brother and urged Sakhr to avenge him. Sakhr eventually did take revenge, killing four men and taking an injury to himself, which eventually led to his death. Al Khansaa grief manifested itself through her poetry as she created beautifully stylized and classical eulogies and poems.

About Sakhr she wrote:

O my eyes, shed tears generously,

Will you not weep for Sakhr, the generous?

Will you not shed tears for the audacious,

Tall and handsome young man who possessed,

Qualities of leadership and led his people?

Al Khansaa embraced Islam when she traveled to Madinah with some people from her tribe. The prophet Mohammed ﷺ, who was an avid lover of poetry, had heard of Al Khansaa’s poems and would often ask her to recite some to him. Her life changed completly in a positive way after converting to Islam, but she still mourned her brothers. However, instead of mourning their deaths with the hope for their vengeance, she now mourned that they passed away without embracing Islam. So her poems continued to have an elegiac feel.

I see time wasting my tribe, my father’s sons,

I became tears that my weeping does not dry,

O Sakhr, what use is lament or grief,

For the dead in the grave that was halt?

Let not Allah remove Sakhr and his love,

Nor Allah remove my lord Muawiya,

Let Allah not displace Sakhr,

For he is brother of bounty building by high acts,

I will weep them, by Allah,

While grief longs and while Allah fixes the mountain peaks,

Allah watered the earth that came to hold them

With the morning cloud’s downpour

Al Khansaa was a very devoted and noble Muslimah. She was present with her four sons on the Battle of Qadisiyah. Before her sons went to the battlefield she said to them,

“My sons! You embraced Islam and migrated willingly. By Allah, besides whom there is no other deity worthy of being worshipped, you are all sons of one man as you are sons of one woman. I have never cheated on your father, nor have I brought disgrace upon your uncle, disparaged your esteem or altered your lineage. You know the great and abundant reward for fighting against disbelievers. {O you who believe, endure and be more patient [than your enemy] and guard your territory and fear Allah, so that you may be successful (Quran 3:200)} When you see that the war has become intense, engage yourselves in the fight gallantly and resiliently, that you may attain treasures and honor in the Abode of Eternity.”

By the time the battle ended, she became the mother of four martyrs of Islam, which she took as the highest honor. The Commander of the Faithful, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, used to give her two hundred dirhams annually for each of her sons as her entitlement for their martyrdom.

Al Khansaa is most remembered for her poetry. Her complete work is still available today and it has been said that there has not been a poetess of her status and eloquence before and after her. During the Abassid period, Bashar bin Burd of the Abbassid claimed that Al Khansaa has beat many experts at poetry. Mubarrid, in Al-Kamil has said about Al Khansaa and Laila Alkhailia that they have “shown maturity in their verse and have ousted men at it.” And as mentioned before, during her lifetime, the Prophet ﷺ himself used to ask her to recite her poetry, which is the highest compliment one can receive.

As she was an extraordinary and timeless poet, I will end her story with one of her poems:

Time has gnawed at me, bit me and has cut me.

Time has harmed, wounded and injured me,

and has destroyed my men who have died together.

This has made me restless.

They were not a harbour for the cruel

Just like the sun which is no shelter for the people.

We saw horses galloping

and flying dust.

And riders, having lustrous, broad swords and grey spears;

Whose swords turn faces deathly white, whose spears cut bodies.

We defeated those who thought

they would never be defeated.

And whoever thinks that they will not be harmed

thinks of the impossible.

We avoid dishonourable deeds and honour our guests.

And we store the praise (of people).

We wear armour in war

And silk, wool and cotton during peace.

 

What do you think of Al Khansaa’s poems? Don’t you feel that they are still beautiful today? I would love to read them in Arabic as that was the original language they were written in.

Abd-Allah, Dr. Umar Faruq. “Famous Women in Islam.” Lecture.

 Qub, Muammad ʻAlī. Women around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2007. Print.

Siddique, Zainab. “Hazrat Khansaa – Chowk: India Pakistan Ideas Identities.com.”Chowk. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.chowk.com/Life/Hazrat-Khansaa>.
“Khansa.” Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/khansa.html>.

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Comments

  1. Moving words and inspiring biography. Subhaan’Allah, how Islam turns hearts! Thank you for this lovely post

  2. What a treat to start my week. I am certain that the English translation does not even begin to depict the sweetness or sorrow of her words but does at least gives us a glimpse into the rich and artistic past of this passionate woman. May Allah cultivate the poetess within us all.

  3. Amal alganem Says: January 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Alkhansaa was one of my favorite poets growing up. She became very famous for the way she grieved her brother sakhr. She mourned him so hard that she lost her eyesight from crying. Her best peotry was the one she wrote about sakhr. Islam changed her heart and the way she dealt with her greif. although she lost her four sons in one battel, she never mourned them the way she did Sakhr because she knew they are mortars and not dead, but alive with God in heavens. That’s how beautiful Islam is.

  4. she was really a great women and till now she is an example for the ideal arabic women .

  5. What made he convert ?

  6. Her**

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