31.5 Umar's Daughter, Hafsa
Umar ibn AI-Khattab was a man who had influence both among the Muslims and among Quraysh. He had endured much and struggled much for the sake of Islam. Next to Abu Bakr he was the man who had done most for the new religion. He was a constant companion to the Messenger and discussed with him every issue. In fact he and Abu Bakr, as previously stated, were Mohamed's two closest counselors.
Umar had a daughter called Hafsa whose husband had died and left her a widow when she was still very young. It was an age when no woman could live alone or unmarried, so Umar decided to look for a suitable husband for her. At first he thought of Abu Bakr, the head of Banu Taym, and very close to the Messenger.
Umar went to Abu Bakr who listened sympathetically as he spoke of Hafsa, but when Umar offered marriage he excused himself. Umar was hurt, but he tried to approach Uthman ibn Affan on the subject. Next to Abu Bakr, Uthman, so very wealthy, devout, and generous, would be the most suitable husband, but Uthman also excused himself. This was too much for Umar, for such refusal was an affront to the lady's family and tribe.
Smarting under the two blows, Umar went to Mohamed to complain of the behavior of his two companions. Mohamed gallantly offered to marry her himself. He could not forget all that Umar had done for Islam and that it was only fair to place his two closest advisers on equal footing. When Umar met Abu Bakr later, the latter explained that the Messenger had mentioned his desire to ask for her hand to him, and that that had been the reason he had refused Umar's offer, but he had not been willing to divulge something the Messenger had told him in confidence.
Before Islam, women were not supposed to have opinions of their own or to object to anything their lords and masters chose to say. Islam decrees that a woman is an individual who has the right to think for herself and to express her beliefs as men do. She is a free, responsible being before Allah. Mohamed, always the good example of what a Muslim should be, encouraged his wives to study to think for themselves.
Just as Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, loved poetry as her father loved poetry, Hafsa, the daughter of Umar, loved to discuss issues as her father loved to discuss every issue with the Messenger .
Hafsa loved to practice this newly-acquired privilege and would argue with the Prophet much and often. Refined and kind-hearted, he allowed her to say what she thought and this continued for some time, until one day Umar ibn Al-Khattab, when speaking to Hafsa's mother, said,
"I think I shall do so-and-so." Whereupon the lady answered, "But it would be better if you did so-and-so."
Shocked, Umar said,
"Are you arguing with me, woman?"
"Why not?" she answered.
"Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah until she upsets him for the whole day."
Umar put on his cloak and went directly to his daughter's house.
"Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?" he asked.
"Indeed, I do," said Hafsa.
He was about to chastise such ill-breeding, but Mohamed, entering at that moment, would not allow him to touch her.
Umar left his daughter's house and went to the house of Sawda, who was related to him, to tell her of this shocking state of affairs. Sawda who was also a wife of the Messenger and educated and influenced by him said,
"I wonder at you, Ibn Al-Khattab. You have interfered in everything. Will you interfere now between the Messenger and his wives?"
Umar, in relating the above incident continued,
"And she kept after me until she made me give up much of what I thought proper."