Martyrdom anniversary of ‘Hamza’ uncle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUT)

Hamza b. Abd al-Muttalib

Hamza b. ʿAbd al-Muttalib (Arabic: حمزة بن عبدالمطّلب) (d. 3/625) titled as “Asad Allah”, “Asad Rasul Allah” and “Sayyid al-Shuhada” was the Prophet’s (s) uncle and martyred in the Battle of Uhud. Even when Hamza had not still become a Muslim, he defended the Prophet (s) against the harassments of idolaters. He was one of the noble people of Quraysh and therefore when he became Muslim, Quraysh would harass the Prophet (s) less than before.

After becoming a Muslim, Hamza was remained among the most important defenders of the Prophet (s). He accompanied Muslims in the Shi’b Abi Talib. Hamza participated in a number of battles including the Battle of Badr and the Battle of Uhud in which he was martyred.

His Name, Teknonym and Title

His name meant “lion” or “sharp-sighted”. His teknonym was Abu ‘Umara and Abu Ya’la.[1]5 His mother was Hala bt. Uhayb (Wuhayb) b. ‘Abd Manaf b. Zuhra.[2]

Hamza was titled as “Asad Allah” and “Asad Rasul Allah”.[3] According to a hadith, he was blessed after he was martyred and was titled as “Sayyid al-Shuhada'”.[4]

His Time of Birth

There are narrations saying that Thu’wayba, Abu Lahab’s female servant breastfed the Prophet (s) and Hamza[5] and that Hamza was the Rida’i brother of the Prophet (s)[6] since he was given milk by the same woman as of the Prophet (s). Hamza was at least two years older than the Prophet (s). Some have even considered this difference about four years[7] which can be even more since some researchers have doubted that Thu’wayba fed the Prophet (s).[8] In any case, he must have been born two to four years before the Year of the Elephant (the year the Prophet (s) was born).

His Children

Hamza’s children were three sons with the names of ‘Amara, Ya’la and ‘Amir.[9] ‘Amara (eldest son of Hamza) was present in conquering Iraq.[10] Ya’la had five sons.[11] Although, it is mentioned in sources that Hamza’s progeny did not continue[12] but in 10th/16th century, some people were considered his descendants.[13]

Hamza before Islam

Hamza participated in the battles of Fijar and the covenant of Hilf al-Fudul. He attended the ceremony for the Prophet’s (s) proposal to Khadija (a) together with other uncles of the Prophet (s). Even some sources have mentioned his name alone in that ceremony when Abu Talib recited the marriage formula even though he was a little older than the Prophet (s).[14]

In the year when Quraysh suffered a severe famine, the Prophet (s) suggested that someone accepts the guardianship of Abu Talib’s family members since he had a large family; Hamza accepted the guardianship of Ja’far.[15] Al-Tabari mentions Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib as the person who did so.

Hamza was a hunter.[16] Before Islam, he was among the sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib who became a chief of Quraysh and had such a position that other tribes signed contracts with him.[17]

Hamza after Islam

The day when the Prophet (s) invited his relatives to call them to Islam (Yawm al-Indhar), Hamza also was there.[18] Even before becoming a Muslim, Hamza the same as Abu Talib defended the Prophet (s) against harassments of idolaters. According to some historical narrations report that Hamza retaliated Abu Lahab’s insults to the Prophet (s).[19]

Becoming a Muslim

One day, Abu Jahl met the Prophet (s) near the mount Safa and insulted him. The Prophet (s) did not say anything to him. A woman slave was near there and saw what happened. When Hamza came back to Mecca from hunting, he used to circumambulate the Ka’ba then he would go to Quraysh gatherings. Quraysh loved Hamza because of his magnanimity. This time, when he came to Quraysh gathering, that woman slave went to Hamza and told him, “you were not here to see what Abu Jahl said to your nephew!” Hamza went to Abu Jahl and found him sitting among people in Masjid al-Haram. He stroke his bow on Abu Jahl so hard that his head was badly broke. Then told him, “you dare insult Muhammad?!! You do not know I have accepted his religion?! I say whatever he says!” Banu Makhzum wanted to go help Abu Jahl, but he told them, “Leave Hamza, because I have badly insulted his nephew.” This happening was when Hamza declared his acceptance of Islam. Afterwards, Quraysh saw that the Prophet (s) has a great support like Hamza who will protect him against their harms and thus they annoyed the Prophet (s) less.[20]

Based on a narration by Imam al-Sajjad (a), what made Hamza accept Islam was his defense of the Prophet (s) in a happening when idolaters threw a camel’s uterus on the head of the Prophet (s).[21] However, some researchers believe that Hamza’s acceptance of Islam has been based on awareness and knowledge.[22]

He accepted Islam two or six years after the beginning of the Prophet’s (s) mission before Abu Dhar became Muslim.[23] Hamza’s acceptance of Islam was influential in the tendency of his relatives towards Islam.[24]

There is little information about Hamza after accepting Islam before Hijra. When the Prophet (s) revealed his invitation to Islam, Hamza also began inviting people to Islam.[25] He stayed with the Prophet (s) and did not immigrate to Ethiopia.[26] In the two or three years which idolaters besieged Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib in the Shi’b Abi Talib, Hamza stayed with them.[27] In the second treaty of ‘Aqaba, twelve years after the Prophet (s) began his mission when some of the people of Medina made a treaty with the Prophet (s), Hamza accompanied ‘Ali (a) in guarding that place against idolaters if they wanted to approach there.[28]

Immigration to Medina

In the brotherhood covenant of Muslims in Mecca, Hamza became brother with Zayd b. Haritha and on the day of the Battle of Uhud, had mentioned him as his successor.[29] Also in the brotherhood covenant of Medina, before the Battle of Badr, he became the brother of Kulthum b. Hadm.[30]

The Prophet (s) tied the first flag of war for Hamza in the month of Ramadan, 1/622 to lead the Sariyya against Quraysh’s caravan which was returning to Mecca from Levant. Hamza accompanied with 30 people from among the Immigrants went to ‘Ays area near the sea and there encountered 300 pagan horsemen from Mecca led by Abu Jahl. Due to mediation of Majdi b. ‘Amr Juhani who was at peace with both groups, no war took place and both armies came back to their people.[31] Hamza also was the standard-bearer in the battles of Abwa’ or Waddan, Dhu al-‘Ushayra and Bani Qaynuqa’.[32]

In the Battle of Badr, Hamza was in the closest part of the Islam’s army to idolaters.[33] The Prophet (s) sent him, ‘Ali (a) and ‘Ubayda b. Harith b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib to fight with some of the chiefs of idolaters. According to different reports, ‘Utba b. Rabi’a or Shayba were killed in direct combat with Hamza.[34]

In the occasion of Sadd al-Abwab, Hamza has been mentioned. Apparently, Hamza was one of the people whose house had a door which opened in the mosque of the Prophet (s). The prophet (s) ordered that all the doors except the door of Ali’s house be closed and answered Hamza’s question about it saying that it has been an order by God.[35]

On the verge of battle of Uhud in 3/624, Hamza was one of the people who requested that they fight out of Medina so earnestly that he said he would not eat anything until he fought with the enemy out of the city. He was in charge of the heart of the army. He fought with two swords and showed great courage and valor in that battle.[36]

His Martyrdom

The Battle of Uhud happened on Saturday, Shawwal 7, 3/March 23, 625 (or on Shawwal 15/March 31).[37].[38] In that battle, Hamza was martyred by Wahshi b. Harb, the Ethiopian slave of the daughter of Harith b. ‘Amir b. Nawfal or the slave of Jubayr b. Mut’im.[39]

According to a report, Harith’s daughter promised Wahshi to free him if he killed Muhammad (s), Hamza or ‘Ali (a) as a revenge for her father who was killed in the Battle of Badr.[40] According to another report, Jubayr b. Mut’im promised Wahshi freedom if he could take revenge of his uncle Tughayma b. ‘Adi who was killed in the battle of Badr.[41] However, undoubtedly, the motives of Hind, daughter of ‘Utba, wife of Abu Sufyan was greater than that of Jubayr or the daughter of Harith to take revenge for her father, brother and uncle who were killed in the battle of Badr. According to some reports, Hind encouraged Wahshi to that with the promise of giving him money.[42]

Mutilation of His Body

According to a report, Hind had a vow to eat the liver of Hamza.[43] First, Wahshi promised to kill ‘Ali (a), but in the battlefield, he martyred Hamza and took his liver to Hind. Hind gave Wahshi her clothes and jewels and promised to give him ten Dinars in Mecca. Then, she came to the body of Hamza and mutilated his body[44] and by those parts of his body she cut, later made earrings, bracelet and anklets for herself.[45] It is said that Mu’awiya b. Mughira and Abu Sufyan also mutilated or injured the body of Hamza.[46]

Due to the savagery of the things happened to the body of Hamza, some companions of the Prophet (s) swore that they would mutilate 30 or more of the people of Quraysh, but the verse 126 of Qur’an 16[47] was revealed and although it gave them the permission for doing the same but regarded patience a better act instead.

His Burial

Hamza was the first martyr of the Battle of Uhud that the Prophet (s) performed Funeral Prayer upon and then other martyrs were brought in different times and were laid beside him and then the Prophet (s) performed prayer upon them. Therefore, he (s) did prayer upon the martyrs individually or collectively about 70 times.[48] Hamza was shrouded in a piece of cloth, his sister Safiyya had brought, since idolaters had stolen all his clothes.[49]

Crying over Hamza

When the Prophet (s) saw Hamza that way, he cried[50] and when he (s) heard the Helpers crying for their martyrs, he (s) said, “But Hamza does not have anyone to mourn for him!” Sa’d b. Mu’adh heard this and took women to the house of the Prophet (s) and they mourned for Hamza. Since then, any woman from the Helpers who wanted to mourn for a deceased person, would first mourn for Hamza.[51] It is said that Zaynab, daughter of Abu Salama wore black clothes of mourning for Hamza.[52]

Grave of Hamza

It is said that Lady Fatima (a) used to visit Hamza’s grave and had marked it with stones.[53]

Due to their enmity for the family of the Prophet (s), Umayyads badly treated the graves of Hamza and other martyrs of Uhud. It is said that in the rule of ‘Uthman, Abu Sufyan trampled on the grave of Hamza and addressed him saying, “what you draw sword on us for to defend is now the toy of our youths!”[54] Mu’awiya too, around 40 years after the event of Uhud, used the excuse of flowing the water of a spring on that area, or due to his enmity with the family of the Prophet (s) ordered that the martyrs of Uhud (including Hmaza) to be exhumed and their bodies be replaced. Thus apparently, the graves of some martyrs of Uhud and also Hamza might have been changed.[55]

The grave of Hamza used to have a tomb and a mosque beside it, but after Wahhabis and Saudis came to power in Saudi Arabia, they destroyed his tomb and the mosque beside it in 1344/1925[56] and built another mosque which is now known as the mosque of Uhud, ‘Ali (a) and Hamza in the west side of it.[57] Grave of Hamza has been a common place of visit by Shi’a pilgrims especially Iranians from long ago.

The Position of Hamza

An example of the great influence of Hamza’s personality and his popularity was that after he was martyred, some of the companions of the Prophet (s) named their sons after him.[58] The martyrdom of Hamza and Ja’far b. Abi Talib has been considered the cause of diminishing the power of Banu Hashim against Quraysh and ‘Ali b. Abi Talib’s (a) loss of the caliphate after the Prophet (s).[59]

His Virtues in Hadiths

In their debates against their opponents, Imam ‘Ali (a) and other Imams (a) mentioned their relation with Hamza and Ja’far as an honor.[60]

There are many hadiths about the virtues of Hamza.[61] The Prophet (s) called Hamza, Ja’far b. Abi Talib and ‘Ali (a) best of people[62] and among his seven best relatives among Banu Hashim.[63] He (s) also called them best of martyrs.[64] He (s) used to say that Hamza did justice to kinship and had many good deeds.[65]

Mentioning the names of Hamza’s related properties such as his horse Ward, and his sword Liyah[66] in narrations shows his important position which lasted many centuries after him.


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