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Sunday Open Thread | Of Badr, ‘Nam, and Baby Names

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Khawla bint Al-Azwar: Sort of like this, but with more ferocity and less beard.

Having grown up in the US and successfully passed through the public education system, I can tell you more about US military conflicts than the Seerah. I wish I was alone in this, but it would seem that I belong to a generation of Western-educated Muslims who know more about ‘Nam than Badr, and while modern US History is valuable knowledge for anyone living there, it makes poor material for Muslim baby names.

Searching for inspiring, easily spelled, and honorably heritaged names for our next child, InshaAllah, is what has lead me down the topic of today’s post.  My total knowledge of Muslim historical figures has been generally limited to The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his immediate family, and the most well-known companions (May Allah be pleased with them all) so imagine how ecstatic I was to read about a certain young lady named Khawla bint Al Azwar.

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Khawla travelled with her brother, a knight and famous warrior-poet named Derar in the army of Khalid bin Waleed, the Muslim hero that my first son is named for.  She tended the wounded and sick, but one day, would move beyond that role when her brother went down in battle and was captured by Byzantine soldiers.  Khawla, seeing him taken from a distance, dropped what she was doing, rode off and…

“Khalid watched a knight, in black attire, with a big green shawl wrapped around his waist and covering his bust. That knight broke through the Roman ranks as an arrow. Khalid and the others followed him and joined battle, while the leader was wondering about the identity of the unknown knight.” – Al Waqidi, The Conquering of Al Shaam

Other soldiers in the battle saw her fighting with such ferocity that they thought her to be Khalid Bin Waleed himself, and when Khalid Bin Waleed appeared with a number of knights to reinforce Khawla, one knight turned to him and said “Who is that knight? By God, he has no regard for his safety!”

Eventually the battle was won, but Khawla’s brother was nowhere to be seen. Khalid Bin Waleed demanded that the unknown knight reveal his identity, and when Khawla was discovered to be the sister of Derar, Khalid ordered his army to chase the fleeing Roman Army with Khawla leading the attack.

I won’t give the rest of her amazing story away, you can read the rest of it here and then you can let me know what other gems in Muslim history I’ve missed in my public school upbringing. So, who’s your favorite Muslim hero?I

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Zeba Khan is the Director of Development for MuslimMatters.org and the producer of the newly launched Muslimmatters Podcast, as well as a writer, speaker, and disability awareness advocate. In addition to having a child with autism, she herself lives with Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome, Dysautonomia, Mast-Cell Activation Disorder, and a random assortment of acronyms that collectively translate to chronic illness and progressive disability.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. AnonyMouse

    March 20, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    Ah, the story of Khawla! One of my favourites :)

    Dr. Hesham al-Awadi also tells her story in his unique style, in his series Women Inspired by the Beloved.

  2. Sister

    March 20, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Mashaallah..Jazakillahu khairaan for sharing .

  3. Cartoon M

    March 20, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    My MSA is doing a little halaqa series on the young companions of Muhammad (s). Would khawla be considered a sahabiyya?

    • Ameera Khan

      March 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      I imagine, he she was in the army of Khaled bin Waleed, she might have been! Not sure though… should research this or perhaps someone else here knows?

  4. ahlam

    March 20, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    They.are.all.my.favourite.heros.

    From the first to last. (including Salahaddin,Tariq ibn Ziyad etc)
    May Allah join us with them in Jannah.

  5. Ibrahim

    March 20, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Bismillah

    Khawla bint al-Azwar is a mythical character. Futuh al-Sham is falsely attributed to al-Waqidi.

    Wallahu ta’ala a’lam

    • Student Of Knowledge

      March 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM

      As the brother said this book is falsely attributed to Al Waqidi. Even if it was his book, Al Waqidi is not a trustworthy narrator and was accused of lying so his narration is not accepted as authentic.

      “Khawla bint al-Azwar” isn’t mentioned in any of the reliable books of history and this story about her fighting to save her brother mentioned in this book (The Conquering of Al Shaam) isn’t authentic as we just mentioned, so most likely such a character does not exist.

      Derar bin al-Azwar (r.a.) was a real companion however.

      • Slave of AllahSWT

        March 25, 2011 at 12:07 PM

        SubhanaAllah! seriously??!!! may Allah azzawjjal protect us from whatever is false! i really really thought khawla’s story was true! jazakAllah khair student of knowledge for sharing this important information!!

  6. Pingback: Sunday Open Thread | Of Badr, `Nam, and Baby Names – MuslimMatters : Baby Name Store

  7. Student Of Knowledge

    March 22, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    I should have probably suggested some good substitutes.

    The best place to read about Islamic history is to start reading Sahih Bukhari & Muslim, the chapters on expeditions and siyar. The good thing is that both books are authentic and readily available online in English for free so you can read them while being confident they are authentic!

    Other resources:

    The Noble Women Scholars of Hadeeth by Shaykh Mashhoor Hasan Aal Salmaan.

  8. Waleed

    March 22, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Assalamalaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatuhu-

    I think the point of the article is to invite us readers to share names that are deeply connected to our rich Muslim history. Good article Abez!

    Alhamdulilah it took years of thinking, and Allah (SWT)’s planning and now my son is called Khalid BinWaleed (firstname and middlename).

    So – what suggestions do other readers here have?

  9. halima

    March 23, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    LOVE THIS ARTICLE! :D

  10. Olivia

    March 24, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    wooo! great story!!

  11. anon

    March 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    salam

    the article on bigotry doesnt seem to be working..

  12. Hassan

    March 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM

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