Feminist Muslim Warrior Series: Nusayba bint Ka'b, The First Female Bodyguard

Feminist Muslim Warrior Series: Nusayba bint Ka'b, The First Female Bodyguard

They called her the Iron Woman Centuries before Tony Stark, while she protected the Messenger of God.


Nusayba bint Ka'b also known as Al Maziniyyah, Umm Omara and the Iron Woman was the Prophet Muhammad's warrior and bodyguard. We all know the story between Houston and Costner in The Bodyguard. Well this is basically the same thing, except the gender roles are reversed, and instead of a budding romance that develops between the two protagonists, Nusayba had faith and insurmountable devotion to the Prophet and Islam. Safe to say her loyalty did not go unnoticed.

Born in the early to mid-7th century to the Banu Najjar Tribe in the Medina, she was one of the first of two women to convert to Islam (the second was Umm Munee Asmaa bint 'Amr bin 'Adi), along with the 74 leaders and warriors that marched on Al Aqaba to swear allegiance directly to the Muslim Prophet Muhammed.

She was married twice, her first husband being Zaid bin 'Asim Mazni who perished in battle (to whom she bore two sons), and her second Wahb Al Aslamy.

This woman not only desired to be a spokesperson for Islam and teach the women about the word of Islam, she fought in battle alongside the Prophet against the Meccans in the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of Hunain, and the Battle of Yamama, and additionally partook as a witness to the establishment of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. In each and everyone of these battles, she remained close to the Prophet, and he trusted her with his life.

She first got recruited during the Battle of Uhud. While initially Nusayba accompanied the troops to provide assistance, her warrior spirit revealed itself when the Muslim flanks failed to carry out orders. The battle was originally going in favor of the Muslims. They had finally breached enemy lines and had infiltrated the enemy camp. However, they had committed a fatal mistake - they were so tempted by the plunder that their mission suddenly had changed to a more avaricious one. The archers that were charged of protecting the rear position of the army, deserted their flanks in greed towards the loot, assuming that the battle was finished leaving only a few archers and their commander Abdullah Ibn Jubair behind to protect the Prophet.

Khalid bin Walid, who hadn't yet converted to Islam and who led the opposing party of Quraysh, saw the open flank and took advantage of the situation by charging towards the Muslims. The flanks, realizing their mistake, panicked and fled. Save for the few archers, their commander and Nusayba ran to the defense of the Prophet and where she took up arms alongside her husband and two sons. Using her body to shield the Prophet from arrows and attacks, Nusayba used her bow to shoot arrows into the flesh of the enemies and swung her unsheathed sword mightily to protect Muhammed.

Muhammed seeing her increasing injuries, noticed that she held no shield. So, he asked his remaining flank to provide her with one. This woman never wavered or cowed in fear to her enemies.

She was wounded 13 times during the Battle of Uhud, taking over a year to recover. Having healed, she was called to become part of the Prophet's personal guard, an honor bestowed upon her for having fought so bravely and selflessly in the name of Islam.

Nusayba lost one of her sons to Musaylimah because Habib bin Zayd had refused to pledge allegiance to none other than Prophet Muhammed. The poser, Musaylimah cut him up into little pieces, shattering the heart of Nusayba with grief.

This didn't stop her resolve. In the Battle of Yamama she charged with all her might against the apostates and inflicted her wounds and protected the Prophet during battles. Her son was avenged by his brother Abdullah who slayed Musaylimah in the battle. The Battle of Yamama was the final battle she would participate in. Earning the respect of commanders and generals like Khalid bin Walid (after his conversion to Islam), they would come to her home to aid her in treating her wounds which included the loss of her hand.

Nusayba's mission didn't end with her strength in battle. She was also the first advocate for Muslim women as she confronted the Prophet about the lack of representation of women and their importance in society in Islam. Soon thereafter, the following verse was revealed, communicating the equality and importance of both men in women in Muslim society.

“Verily, the Muslims men and women, the believers men and women, the men and the women who are obedient, the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the men and the women who are humble, the men and the women who give Sadaqat, the men and the women who observe fast, the men and the women who guard their chastity and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.” (Quran Surah Al Ahzab [33:35])

After the death of the Prophet, she remained loyal to his mission. There is much ambiguity surrounding the end of her life, but we can say one thing for sure; this woman was without a doubt a badass.

"At the Battle of Uhud, wherever I turned to the left or the right, I saw her fighting for me"

- Prophet Muhammed on Nusayba (Umm Omara)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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