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Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib (Arabic: حمزه بن عبدالمطلب) was the uncle of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. He and Muhammad were raised together as they were almost the same age.

Hamza was known as Lion of God (Arabic أسد الله) and Lion of Paradise (Arabic: أسد الجنة) for his bravery. Among the champions of early Islam, few have rivaled his reputation in battle. He was martyred at the Battle of Uhud on 19 March 625 by the Abyssinianmarker slave Wahshy ibn Harb.

Hamza’s conversion to Islam

Hamza converted to Islam due to the actions of Amr ibn Hishām, (who is infamous by the name of Abu Jahl and known for his hostility against the Muslims). Hamza, uncle of Muhammad had returned to the city of Meccamarker after a hunting trip in the desert. Upon returning, he soon learned that Abu Jahl, avowed enemy of Islam had heaped abuse and insults upon Muhammad, who had not responded and walked away from where he had sat in the Haram. Outraged, Hamza dashed to the Kaabamarker, where Abu Jahl sat with other leaders of Mecca and began to beat him with his bow, crying, "Are you going to insult him now, now that I am of his religion and vouch for what he vouches for? Hit me if you can!" As the companions of Abu Jahl warily stood, approaching Hamza, Abu Jahl feebily cried out from the ground, "Let Abu Umarah be, for indeed, I insulted his nephew deeply." And he cowered at the feet of Hamza, while his friends could not meet Hamza’s eyes. As he departed, he kicked sand back at the men, leaving all shocked at what Hamza had just said, none more so than Hamza himself.

Early life

Hamza, the son of Shaiba ibn Hashim, was the brother of Abd Allah ibn Abd al Muttalib, Muhammad's father, but he had also been weaned by the same woman, Halimah bint Abi Dhuayb, making him his foster brother as well. The two had grown up together, being just two years apart in age. But as the boys had become young men, they developed different attitudes toward life. Muhammad became thoughtful and concerned with the problems of society, Hamza was not such a contemplative thinker and was comfortable in his status of being part of Meccan elite, though their relationship remained as strong as ever. So it was a conflicted Hamza that witnessed the escalating situation in the city as Muhammad declared the message of Islam. On the one hand, he had absolute faith in the character of his foster brother and nephew, being one of those who had been closest to him for all of his life. Yet some of his most honored values were the respect he held for his family and the traditions they had always followed, his pagan religion among these. So he was indifferent to the controversy, discouraging his peers from worrying about what they saw as a revolution in their midst and not bothering to join them in torturing the defenseless Muslims, while declining Muhammad's invitation to Islam.

Mecca and Hijrah

The conversion to Islam of Hamza, gave the Muslims much greater strength and moral among its followers. They were now able to speak and pray in public. Hamza had been a one of the most renowned warriors of the Quraysh, known for his solitary hunting expeditions in the desert and his prowess on the battlefield, and was known as the "Lion of the Desert". He became a staunch supporter of Muhammad, enduring the ostracization of the Muslims, and helped him get through the Year of Sorrow, when many of his close relatives died. And he became a trusted advisor after the Hijra, when Muhammad led the fledgling Muslim state in Medinamarker. Hamza advised Muhammad to go on the offensive against those who had driven the Muslims from their homes and seized their property, which Muhammad decided to do by seizing a Quraysh caravan from Mecca at the wells of Badr.

Film

His story is related in the film Mohammad, Messenger of God. Hamza was portrayed by the Hollywood actor Anthony Quinn.

Books

Stories of his life are collected in the Hamzanama. Hamza is the protagonist of a dastan-goi "narrative tales" from Islamic Indiamarker, where he is portrayed as a larger-than-life hero who fights demons, trades witty remarks with Emperors and fights great wars. It resembles both the Shahnameh and the Ramayana in form. A recent translation of Navab Mirza Aman Ali Khan Bahadur Ghalib Lakhnavi's Dastan-e Amir Hamza is available in English. The most famous book of poetry on Hamza is Daastan Amir Hamza (Story of Hamza) by Maulvi Ghulam Rasool, a Sufi of Alampur.

See also



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