The incident took place almost ten years after Muhammad hijrah to Medina, in 622AD. Muhammad sent his ex-adopted son Zaid bin Harith to raid Umm Qirfa’s Pagan tribe. It was a sudden and unplanned attack. Ibn Ishaq, the first authentic biographer of Muhammad gives us the details in his Sirat Rasul Allah (History of Prophet Muhammad):
Zayd B. Haritha’s raid on Banu Fazara and the Death of Umm Qirfa“And he killed her cruelly”. The cruel method used by the holy warriors of Muhammad to kill Umm Qirfa is described in Al-Tabari: “By putting a rope into her two legs and to two camels and driving them until they rent her in two.”
Zayd also raided Wadi-al-Qurra where he met Banu Fazara and some of his companions were killed; he himself carried wounded from the field. Ward b. Amr b. Madash one of B. Sad b. Hudhayl was killed by one of B. Badr whose name Sa’d b. Hudhaym. When Zayd came he swore that he would use no ablution until he raided B. Fazara; and when he recovered from his wounds the apostle sent him against them with a force. He fought them in Wadi-al-Qurra and killed some of them. Qays b. al-Musahhar al-Yamuri killed Mas’ada b. Hakama b. Malik b. Hudhayfa b. Badr and Umm Qirfa Fatima was taken prisoner. She was a very old woman, wife of Malik. Her daughter and Abdulla b. Mas’ada were also taken. Zaid ordered Qays b al-Musahhar to kill Umm Qirfa and he killed her cruelly.
The brutal murder of an old woman were muted with the hadith, but reveal within the Sirah (history) of Ibn Ishaq.
How can someone have the heart to brutally murder an old woman in such a way? When I read of this brutal account, I laid beyond shock at such an incident practised. Where was Islam’s justice?
Then I started wondering, what wrong did this woman do that created her a horrifying death?
I searched through sites after sites and even sat reading an old school book of mine, Al-Sirah Al-Nabawiyyah. None provide me any specific misdoing of Umm Qirfa. In fact, she did no wrong at all.
But the reason was very clear indeed. This brutal murder that took place upon this woman was only for one reason. Because she was a leader of her tribe and Muhammad does not approve of any woman leading as stated within the Hadith from Al-Bukhari:
Volume 9, Book 88, Number 219:Muhammad is proved to hate having a woman who leads. He finds it as a dishonor for men. For this very reason and to support the above hadith he had stated, he sent his ex-adopted son to kill Umm Qirfa who leads her tribe.
Narrated Abu Bakra:
During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler."
Not only did he just leave it there, after her brutal death, Umm Qirfa was chopped by her murderers and beheaded. Her head was then brought forward to Muhammad as a gift who sent it off parading all over Medina, so as to make sure every woman is aware that such a fate will befall on them if they ever decide to lead.
The parading of the head of Umm Qirfah was a warning.
Ibn Ishaq continues:Such ill-fated were women that they are being used daily and unfortunate enough to not even understand it.
Then they brought Umm Qirfa’s daughter and Mas’ada’s son to the apostle. The daughter of Umm Qirfa belonged to Salama b. Amr b. al-Akwa who had taken her. She held a position of honor among her people, and the Arabs used to say, “Had you been more powerful than Umm Qirfa you could have done no more”. Salama asked the apostle to let him have her and he gave her to him and he presented her to his uncle Hazn b. Abu Wahb and she bare him Abdul-Rahman . Hazn.
Hadith (Sahih Muslim 19:4345):
It has been narrated on the authority of Salama (b. al-Akwa') who said: We fought against the Fazara and Abu Bakr was the commander over us. He had been appointed by the Messenger of Allah. When we were only at an hour's distance from the water of the enemy, Abu Bakr ordered us to attack. We made a halt during the last part of the night to rest and then we attacked from all sides and reached their watering-place where a battle was fought. Some of the enemies were killed and some were taken prisoners. I saw a group of persons that consisted of women and children. I was afraid lest they should reach the mountain before me, so I shot an arrow between them and the mountain. When they saw the arrow, they stopped. So I brought them, driving them along. Among them was a woman from Banu Fazara. She was wearing a leather coat. With her was her daughter who was one of the prettiest girls in Arabia. I drove them along until I brought them to Abu Bakr who bestowed that girl upon me as a prize. So we arrived in Medina. I had not yet disrobed her when the Messenger of Allah met me in the street and said: Give me that girl, O Salama. I said: Messenger of Allah, she has fascinated me. I had not yet disrobed her. When on the next day, the Messenger of Allah again met me in the street, he said: O Salama, give me that girl, may God bless your father. I said: She is for you. Messenger of Allah! By Allah, I have not yet disrobed her. The Messenger of Allah sent her to the people of Mecca, and surrendered her as ransom for a number of Muslims who had been kept as prisoners at Mecca.
What was to be wondered was why the apostle could agree on such a horrifying murder upon a woman when he himself had forbidden killing upon them in the following hadith:
Bukhari Volume 004, Book 052, Hadith Number 258.However, the reason was clear enough. No Muhammad didn’t care for the women at all. He revealed these hadith so as to only have the upper hand. Firstly, supports from the woman tribe, secondly, war women can be used as slaves to appease their Master, thirdly, one can even force them to convert and to accept them as their wife to so as to bear them children. Killing women would only be killing Islam, as then they would have no one to take over their place to grow the barbaric teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
Narrated By Ibn 'Umar: During some of the Ghazawat of Allah's Apostle a woman was found killed, so Allah's Apostle forbade the killing of women and children.
Maliks Muwatta Book 021, Hadith Number 010.
Section : Prohibition against Killing Women and Children in Military Expeditions.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was sending armies to ash-Sham. He went for a walk with Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan who was the commander of one of the battalions. It is claimed that Yazid said to Abu Bakr, "Will you ride or shall I get down?" Abu Bakr said, "I will not ride and you will not get down. I intend these steps of mine to be in the way of Allah."
Then Abu Bakr advised Yazid, "You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to Allah. Leave them to what they claim to have given themselves. You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword.
"I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly."
Sources and Further Reading