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Hind bint ‘Utbah (هند بنت عتبة) was an Arabic woman who lived in the late 6th and early 7th centuries CE; she was the wife of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, a powerful man of Meccamarker, in western Arabia. Both Abu Sufyan and Hind originally opposed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. She was the mother of Muawiyah I, the founder of the Umayyad dynasty, and of Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan, who was one of Muhammad's wives. Her status as a Sahaba (companion of Muhammad) remains questioned because of actions she took against the Muslim community before her conversion, particularly an incident of alleged battlefield cannibalism.

Life

She was born in Mecca, daughter of one of the most prominent leaders of the Quraysh, Utba ibn Rabi'ah. She had two brothers: Abu-Hudhayfah ibn Utbah and Walid ibn Utba.

It is not known exactly when she married Abu Sufyan, one of the leading authorities in the tribe of Quraysh, but it is most probable that the marriage occurred at her early years of youth.

Controversies

Hind is infamous in Islamic history for her exultation at the defeat of the Muslims at the Battle of Uhud when she ate the liver of Muhammad's slain uncle Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Although she later converted to Islam, the founder of the Umayyad Caliphate was thus later slandered to be an illegitimate son of a cannibal. Even in the modern age, arguments continue to be raised about whether Hind bint ‘Utbah was a Sahaba or not because of her pre-Islamic actions.

In the earlier Sunni reference Istīʻāb fī Maʻrifat al-Aṣḥāb, Islamic scholar Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr (978-1071) lists summaries for the biographies of the Sahaba, and Hind is indeed mentioned as one of Muhammad's Sahaba.

Alleged claims about adultery

Shīʻī scholars quote earlier sources which claim that Hind had relations with men other than her husband Abu Sufyan, and that her son Mu'awiya might have been the result of any of those illegitimate relations.

Other scholars say that she became pregnant from Abu Sufyan out of wedlock and Abu Sufyan was bribed to marry her.

Claims that Hind ate the liver of Hamza

Mūsá ibn ‘Uqbah narrated that Wahshi gouged out the liver of Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and took it to Hind bint ‘Utbah and she ate it. Ibn Kathir mentions this in his Al-Bid‘ayah wa n-Nihaayah (4/43).

Ibn Ishaq narrated with a broken isnād that Hind was the one who gouged the liver of Hamza.

Earlier hostility against Muslims

From 613 to 622, Muhammad preached the message of Islam publicly, in Mecca. As he gathered converts, he and his followers faced increasing persecution. In 622 they emigrated to the distant city of Yathrib, now known as Medinamarker. They were at war with the Meccans and attacked Meccan caravans.

The Meccans sent out a force to defend the caravans. The Meccans and the Muslims clashed at the Battle of Badrmarker. The Muslims defeated the Meccans and Hind's father, brother and uncle were all slaughtered in that battle. Hind's anger at the Muslims was of the greatest and most severe intense; she kept wailing publicly in the open desert and pouring dust over her face and her clothes, while lamenting her deceased relatives; and she did not stop not until her husband Abu Sufyan urged her to weep no more and promised her to avenge the death of her father and brother.

She is claimed to have been the one responsible for inciting Wahshy ibn Harb to murder Muhammad's uncle Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, who was claimed responsible for the death of her father and brother, and she offered Wahshi his freedom and her jewelry in return if he managed to murder Hamza and bring back his liver to her.

Wahshi eventually did so by hiding behind a tree and striking Hamza with a spear which left him dead; Wahshi then split open Hamza's belly and took out his raw liver and brought it back to Hind as promised. Hind was claimed to have tasted the raw liver as a prominent sign of revenge, but was said to have not relished it and immediately spat it out.

One of the earliest chronicles of Islamic history, Ibn Ishaq's Sirah Rasul Allah, a life of Muhammad, says that Hind accompanied the Meccan forces that went to besiege the Muslims in Medina. At the Battle of Uhud, Hind and her women sang and danced, urging on their warriors. The Muslims were forced to flee and, according to Ibn Ishaq, Hind and the others mutilated the Muslim corpses, making garlands of ears and noses.

According to Ibn Ishaq, after the battle, Hind cut open the body of Muhammad's uncle Hamza, whom she believed responsible for the death of her relatives, cut out his liver, and gnawed on it. According to Ibn Ishaq, she couldn't swallow it and spat it out. Ibn ‘Abdu l-Barr states in his book "al-Istī‘āb" that she cooked Hamza's liver before eating it. This report has been widely copied by Muslim historians. However, neither Watt nor Madelung mention it.

Sunni historians and theologians claim that in spite of all those signs of hatred against Muslims, it appeared that those were all nothing more than cravings of revenge for her father and brother, but nothing of real hatred. As later when the Muslims conquered Mecca in 630 CE, Hind gave her submission to Muhammad and accepted the religion of Islam and became a Muslim herself, along with her husband Abu Sufyan and their son Muawiya.

References

  1. Sīrah ibn Hishām: 3/133
also:
  • Guillaume, A. -- The Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press, 1955
  • Madelung, Wilferd -- The Succession to Muhammad, Cambridge University Press, 1997
  • Watt, W. Montgomery -- Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press, 1956


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