Hazrata Sumayyah bint Khayyat (R.A)

 Mecca,Makkah , Saudi Arabia


Hazrata Sumayyah bint Khayyat was one of the first seven "to display Islam," the other six being Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Bilal, Khabbab, Suhayb and her son Ammar. She was the first martyr woman companion in Islam.

Before Sumayyah accepted Islam, she was a slave in Mecca. Her slave owner, Abu Huthaifah, met a decent man named Yasir ibn Amir and introduced Sumayyah to him. The two were married. Abu Huthaifah was a kind man and allowed the newly married couple freedom from slavery and continued to help them in terms of finances as well when they needed it. The couple had a son named Ammar ibn Yasir soon, and lived happily.

Later in her life, when the Prophet (PBUH) started to call the people of Makkah to Islam, Sumayyah (RA) was one of the first 7 people to accept his invitation and formally pledge to support him in his da’wah activities. Sumayyah’s intelligence meant that she saw the truth of Islam – it was so logical to her and she acted on her beliefs and values and accepted Islam straight away. Therefore, she was notable amongst the greatest of all the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and amongst a very special group of people – including the likes of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (RA), Abu Bakr (RA), Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA), Bilal ibn AbiRabiah (RA), Zaid ibn Harith (RA), and her own son Ammar bin Yasir (RA).

It is quite interesting to note that at the time Islam was introduced, the circumstances in Mecca were hostile, especially towards women. Daughters were buried alive simply for not being sons, and women were treated horribly. Here, however, it is fascinating to see when a former slave wished to accept Islam, she was allowed and treated with as much respect as any other man who had accepted the religion.

Over time, many people began accepting Islam, men and women both. Of course, this was angering news for the non-believers in Mecca. Converts of Islam were threatened and told to give up the religion they had accepted. Some of these Muslims were wealthy and powerful, and came from families with a higher status and rank than others.

The Quraysh couldn’t directly harm the Prophet (PBUH) because of the power and position of his uncle Abu Talib, although this didn’t stop them trying to harm him and his mission in other ways. Abu Bakr (RA) was also protected by his powerful tribe and own personal influence. But the common Muslim – man or woman – was not spared any imaginable torture or torment.

The early Muslims numbered not more than thirty, but the Quraysh – who were the ruling power in Makkah felt their authority was being threatened. They inflicted on the first Muslims the most evil and horrible punishments imaginable.

Sumayyah, who had been a slave prior to Islam, was one of the many Muslims who had no class to protect her. Thus, she (along with her husband and son) were amongst the many newly converted Muslims who were tortured and beaten simply for the religion they believed in. Those who tortured Sumayyah gave her the “opportunity” to renounce her faith to save herself and her family from the beatings and torture. Of course, Sumayyah denied over and over again, despite the fact that the religion does allow “giving up Islam” in front of one’s’ oppressors if it came to saving his or her life. Still, however, Islam’s first heroine continued to speak against the face of denying God’s word.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to go where they were tortured, commending their courage by saying “Keep patient, Yasir’s family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise”. Despite being truly disturbed, he was unable to do anything, as Mecca had labeled him the source of this new religion they despised.

They suffered extreme hardship which tested their faith, but they persevered and remained patient, knowing that the path of truth is often filled with difficulties.

Once Ammar managed to escape the torture and reach the Prophet (PBUH). He asked the Prophet (PBUH) when the persecution of the innocent Muslims would end. His feelings reflected the extreme hardships the early Muslims went through in Makkah – Muslims were followed when they left their houses, kidnapped and tortured; they lived in fear for their lives. They were really tested in their faith – however their bravery in dealing with their difficulties is a huge inspiration for us. They persevered and remained patient, steadfast, firm and strong mashaAllah. They knew this life is a test, that there will be great difficulties; but they also knew this life is also short and in return for passing these tests Allah will grant an eternal hereafter in the best place – Jannah – where they would be rewarded by seeing Allah and would be united with the Prophet (PBUH) and all the other great Muslims throughout history, inshaAllah.

Abu Jahl tried different methods – to pressure, coax, bribe and threaten her, but she bluntly refused. She could have verbally agreed with Abu Jahl just to stop the torture– this is allowed in Islamic fiqh. Scholars indicate that if it’s a life and death situation you can say you don’t believe in Islam just with your tongue to save yourself whilst actually still believing in Allah in your heart. However, Sumayyah (RA) chose the harder position – the one with more rewards. Imagine if she had given in – if these early Muslims gave in what would have happened to the community? – others would give in or feel greater pressure – her son for example! Ammar(RA) must have seen how his mother so bravely put up with all the torture and that her iman (faith) remained strong – that must have given him courage to continue. Do we encourage others to live the values of Islam? Not just by telling them about it, but by living by those values ourselves? Actions speak louder than words – if we want people around us to be a certain way, we have to act that way ourselves first.

Eventually, being old, Hz Yasir (RA) could not endure the torture, and died in the way of Allah and His messenger (PBUH). Although her husband, Hz Yasir (RA) was martyred before her eyes, Quraysh pagans failed to convert Hz Sumayyah (RA).

Abu Jahl could not accept the fact that she could resist him so stubbornly and out of rage he thrust his spear into her. This proved to be a fatal blow, and sadly Sumayyah was killed. Sumayyah (RA) gave the ultimate sacrifice for Allah’s sake – her life. And Allah honoured her sacrifice. In the moment she passed away she gained the unique position and honour of becoming the first martyr in Islamic history – the first person to become shaheed (martyr) was a woman.

Additional Info

Sumayyah (RA) became Shaheed 7 years before the hijrah (migration to Madina). Her husband Yasir (RA) was also tortured and killed by Quraysh – he also became shaheed. After the martyrdom of both his parents Ammar took a special place in the affections of the Prophet (PBUH). Unlike the normal custom of calling the child by the father’s name, the Prophet used to address Ammar fondly as ibn Sumayyah (son of Sumayyah) – to keep alive the memory of his mother and honour her. The Prophet (PBUH) often spoke of the family of Sumayyah (RA) in the highest terms of praise.

  How to Reach: From Jeddah, King Abdulaziz Airport, Jeddah the shrine is 92.9 Km, Al Ghaza Bus Station is 1.2 Km from the cemetery and Makkah Haramain High Speed Railway Station is 11.7 Km,

Nearest City : Mecca
Nearest Bus Stop : Al Ghaza Bus Station
Nearest Airport : King Abdulaziz Airport, Jeddah
Nearest Railway Station : Makkah Haramain High Speed Railway Station
Contact Person Name : Not Available
Contact Person Phone: Not Available
Website : Not Available
Connect with us