Did Hz. Aisha take part in the battle of Uhud?

The Details of the Question

- Did female Companions personally participate in the wars during the Era of the Prophet (pbuh)?
- Did Hz. Fatima also participate in the wars?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

During the Era of the Prophet (pbuh), women also participated in the wars with men and worked in support services.

As a matter of fact, when the Muslims lost many people in the Battle of Uhud, The Prophet’s (pbuh) wife, Hz. Aisha and Umm Sulaym took action and carried water on their backs. (See Bukhari, Jihad 64; Muslim, Jihad 136)

Hz. Fatima, the Prophet’s (pbuh) daughter, was also among the participants in the Battle of Uhud.

Seeing that his father was injured, Hz. Fatima hugged the Prophet (pbuh) and washed his wound. However, the blood coming from the wound of the Prophet was increasing. Thereupon, Hz. Fatima took a piece of straw and burned it; then, she placed the ash on the wound and the blood stopped. (Fathul-Bari, 7/286)

In the wars during the Age of Bliss, the combatants were always men.

The male Companions considered reaching the rank of martyrdom or veteranhood   as the greatest goal of their lives. When the hadiths are examined, it is seen that fighting in the war was not among the primary duties of women.

As a matter of fact, once when Hz. Aisha asked permission to join the war, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Your jihad is hajj.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 62) and did not allow her.

In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states that the best service of women will be in their homes, and that the service they will render to their husbands is considered equal to jihad. (Mundhiri, Targhib, 3/336)

Although the Prophet (pbuh) stated that women were not responsible for military service under normal conditions and he did not want them to participate in actual war, he allowed them to perform auxiliary services such as treating the wounded and sick, carrying water to the soldiers, and taking away the dead bodies.

A female Companion called Umm Kabsha narrates:

“A woman from the tribe of Uzra came to the Prophet and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Will you allow me to join the war in the army?’ When the Messenger of Allah said, “No!..”, the woman said, I do not want to fight; I want to treat the wounded and sick, I want to carry water to the sick.” The Messenger of Allah said to the woman, ‘I would allow you if it would not turn out as a custom in the end and if people would not say, “Such and such a woman went to war.” You should stay at home.’(Haythami, 5/323-324)

It is possible to understand the attitude of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as women’s not having such a duty and there was no need for it at that time.

The hadiths above show that the Prophet (pbuh) did not approve of women participating in wars under normal conditions.

However, we see in some wars fought in the Age of Bliss that women both worked in support services and participated actually in the war when it was necessary.

When the rumor that the Prophet was martyred and that the Muslims were defeated reached Madinah during the Battle of Uhud, nine female Companions went to Uhud with food and drink to give water to the wounded and to treat their wounds. [Ibn Hanbal, 1/165; See also M. Asım Köksal, İslam Tarihi (Medine devri), 3/198]

As we have mentioned above, Hz. Aisha and Umm Sulaym bint Mihan were among those who came to Uhud.

Those two female Companions carried water to the wounded when the Muslims took a hammering and dispersed, leaving the Messenger of Allah in the Battle of Uhud. (Bukhari, Jihad 64)

It should be noted that those two distinguished female Companions served behind the front lines in Uhud.

According to what Anas b. Malik narrates, Umm Sulaym once went to the Prophet and told him that she wanted to join the war, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told her that jihad was not obligatory for women. Thereupon, Umm Sulaym said that she could treat the wounded, make medicine for eye pain, and carry water to mujahids, the Prophet said, “Then, it would be good for you to go to the war.” (Haythami, 4/324)

It is reported that Umm Salit carried water in leather bottles in the battle of Uhud and sewed the sheaths of the swords. (Bukhari, Jihad, 66)

Lady Nasiba was one of the women who participated in the Battle of Uhud with the same purpose. (Ibn Sad. 8/412-413)

The female Companion called Rubayyi bint Muawwidh describes how they served in wars as follows:

“We fought together with the Messenger of Allah. We would give water to the soldiers and serve them; we would also carry the wounded and the dead to Madinah.” (Bukhari, Jihad 67, 68)

So, it is understood that in the wars of the Age of Bliss, women performed general services that can be considered as services behind the front line, such as treating the wounded, looking after the sick, taking away the wounded and the dead, cooking, carrying water, sewing the ripped and torn clothes of the mujahids.

During the Era of the Prophet (pbuh), some women participated in the war and fought the enemy in some battles because it was necessary.

As a matter of fact, Safiyya bint Abdulmuttalib, the paternal aunt of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), was one of those women. Safiyya participated in the Battle of Khandaq actually and killed an enemy soldier. (see Ibn Hajar, Isaba, 4/349)

Umm Umara also participated in the Battle of Uhud and fought the enemy with her bow and arrows. After returning to Madinah after the war, the Prophet said, “As I turned left and right in the Battle of Uhud, I always saw Umm Umara fighting next to me.” he said. (Ibn Hajar, Isaba, 4/479)

It is also reported that this female Companion participated in the war against Musaylamatul-Kadhdhab after the death of the Messenger of Allah and received twelve wounds in this war. (Ibn Hajar, Isaba, 4/479)

We see that the famous Companion Anas b. Malik’s mother, Umm Sulaym, participated in the war actually in the battle of Hunayn and the conquest of Mecca. (Ibn Hajar, Isaba, 4/461)

Female Companions participated in some wars not only in the Age of Bliss, but also in later periods.

For example, it is reported that Asma bint Yazid, the cousin of Muadh b. Jabal, took part in the Battle of Yarmuk (13 H) during the caliphate of Hz. Umar and killed nine Byzantine soldiers with a tent pole he seized in this war. (Haythami, 9/260)

In the later periods (during the caliphate of Muawiya), we see that Umm Haram bint Milhan participated in the war in Cyprus. (Bukhari, Jihad 63)

Apart from these names we have given as examples, many female Companions participated in the wars as combatants or auxiliaries during the Age of Bliss and later periods. (see M. Tayyib Okiç, İslamiyet’te Kadın Öğretimi, 22; Doç. Dr. Ali Toksarı, Hz. Peygamber Devrinde Kadın, Diyanet İlmi Dergi, October - November - December 1993, Volume 29, Issue 4)

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