It might be surprising for some to know that Hind Bint Otba was one of Islam’s most fierce enemies, and that destroying Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was Hind’s sole goal in life. It might be even more shocking to know that Prophet Mohammad declared that killing her is lawful after she had killed his beloved uncle, Hamza, deliberately and distorted his corpse. That very woman turned out to be a true Muslim woman and the mother of one of Islam’s greatest leaders.
Hind Bint Otba is a descendant of a notable Quraish family, and her father, Otba, one of Quraish leaders, was known for his wisdom and insightfulness. Being brought up in a rich and prominent family contributed to making Hind a strong and well-spoken woman with great pride and perception. She was also known for her beauty and her love of poetry and literature. Yet the amazing woman was wounded when she got married to a man who didn’t appreciate her for what she was. She saw no other alternative but divorce, which affected her intensely.
After her divorce, she daringly asked her father to consult her whenever a suitor asks for her hand in marriage. She told him: “I am a woman of free choice, so don’t marry me off until you have asked me for my opinion.” The father could do nothing but agree on what his daughter had asked. After a while, her father talked to her about two suitors, the first was from an honorable family and was known for his weak personality, which would make him easily-led by his wife, and the second was also from a notable family but known for his reliable and leading personality. She chose the second saying: “The first seems to be an obedient husband as long as his wife loses her character and pride; don’t ever mention him to me. The second suits a free woman and can stand for the rights of his wife and defend her; I choose the second.” After her marriage to Abu Sufyan Bin Harb, one of Quraish’s prominent heads, she supported her husband significantly in his war against Islam and Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him). In fact, she had a huge role in setting the war plan against the Muslim army in the battle of Ohud. Part of her plan consisted of getting rid of Hamza Bin Abdul Muttaleb, the prophet’s uncle, in order to deeply affect Prophet Mohammad’s spirit and weaken him emotionally as she knew how attached he was to his uncle, who was unbeatable in the battlefield as well.
After Hind and her husband’s victory, something surprising happened. Her husband announced his conversion to Islam after Prophet Mohammad had talked to him. Expectedly, that announcement didn’t appeal to Hind, who went on talking to the men of Quraish and asking them to kill her husband as he turned out to be the worst of leaders. For a whole night, Hind was quivering with rage, and her fury dragged her into going to the Muslim’s mosque to take a closer look at those people who had killed many of her relatives and now have taken her husband to their world. The next morning, she went to her husband and asked him to take her to Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him), for she wanted to convert to Islam. With great astonishment, her husband exclaimed, “Wasn’t that the most contemptible thing for you yesterday?” Confidently, she replied, “I’ve never seen Allah being worshiped as He should until I saw those Muslims praying all night.”
Hind went to Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him) with fear filling her heart because of what she had done to his uncle. Yet the prophet accepted and welcomed her, and when she was in the process of pledging allegiance to the prophet, she said what pleased him and made him forgive her. During his speech with the Muslim women, the prophet asked the women to do specific things and to avoid other things in order to be good Muslims. He asked them to swear that they will not commit adultery, but Hind was so alarmed to hear such a plea. “Does a free woman commit adultery?!” she exclaimed. Her question was a form of refusal for such an act that was known to be for slaves and prostitutes only; not for honorable pure women who have dignity and pride. As most of the Arabs used to think, Hind deeply believed that when a woman is free and has a choice, she never commits adultery, for only forced women do that despicable act. Free Arab women were raised on chastity and on refusing to be objects for men’s pleasure, and despite all the Arab bad-reputed traits, their appreciation of modest free women was immense.
The concept of freedom at that time meant to be honorable, to rise above wanting what you cannot have or are not allowed to have. Women and men used to have the same desires that we have today, but a free Arab woman would never let a man touch her until he becomes her husband even if she was madly in love with him.
Hind’s pure strong soul grew more powerful after she had converted to Islam, and her hostile and bitter nature was transformed into positive energy that served Islam and produced a woman who fights steadily for Islam after she had been one of its most aggressive enemies. Her faith in Allah had made all the difference in her attitude and perspective, but she had always been a woman with a free soul who thinks and works hard in order to achieve her goals.
How does Hind’s story relate to Saudi women today? In what ways?