The First Martyrs Of Islam: Sumayya Bint Khubat And Yasir

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Kaleef K. Karim

The early converts to Islam faced a lot of persecution as a result of them abandoning their polytheistic beliefs. The tortures they went through at the hands of the Quraysh polytheists was relentless. The first Muslims to be murdered for merely converting to the new faith of Islam, was Ammar Ibn Yasir’s mother, Summayya bint Khayyat (Khubat). Ammar’s father, Yasir also met the same faith as his wife, Sumayyah, both cold-bloody murdered by the Quraysh polytheists for accepting the new faith of Islam. Below are some of the earliest reports on how Yasir and Sumayyah were murdered.

Note: There were other Muslims murdered too in the Makkan period by the polytheists. This has been alluded too in a number of classical sources.

Ibn Ishaq (704 – 768 AD):

“The B. Makhzum used to take out Ammar b. Yasir with his father and mother, who were Muslims, in the heat of the day and expose them to the heat of Mecca, and the Apostle passed by them and said, so I have heard, ‘Patience, O family of Yasir!’ Your meeting-place will be paradise.’ They killed his mother, for she refused to abandon Islam.” (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, [Oxford University Press – Seventeenth Impression 2004], page 145)

Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir – Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 AD):

the first martyr of Islam was the freedwoman, Sumayyah Bint Khubbat, who patiently endured persecution rather than yield her new religion, and she was eventually murdered by Abu Jahl.” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, by Ibn Sa’d, volume 8, page 227)

Ali Ibn Ahmad Al-Wahidi (d. 1075):

(Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief…) [16:106]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas: “This verse was revealed about ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. The idolaters had taken him away along with his father Yasir, his mother Sumayyah, Suhayb [al-Rumi], Bilal [ibn Rabah], Khabbab [ibn al-Aratt] and Salim [the client of Hudhayfah] and tortured them. As for Sumayyah, she was tied up between two camels and stabbed with a spear in her female organ. She was told: ‘You embraced Islam for the men’, and was then killed. Her husband Yasir was also killed. They were the first two persons who were killed in Islam. As for ‘Ammar, he was coerced to let them hear what they wanted to hear. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was told that ‘Ammar has renounced faith, but he said: ‘Never, ‘Ammar is filled with faith from his head to his toes; faith is admixed with his flesh and blood!’ ‘Ammar then went to see the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, crying. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, wiped his tears with his own hand and said: ‘if they return to you, let them hear again what you told them’. Then, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Mujahid said: “This verse was revealed about some Meccans who accepted faith. The Muslims of Medina wrote to them urging them to migrate and told them that they did not consider them part of them unless they migrated. And so they left Mecca intending to migrate to Medina. The Quraysh caught up with them on the way and coerced them to renounce their faith. It is about them that this verse was revealed”. (Asbab al-Nuzul, Wahidi, page 102)

Majd al-Din Muhammad Ibn Ya‘qub al-Firuzabadi (d. 1414):

(And of mankind is he who would sell himself) with his wealth, (seeking the pleasure of Allah) in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure. This was revealed about Suhayb Ibn Sinan and his companions. He ransomed himself from the Meccans with his money; (and Allah hath compassion on (His) bondmen) those who were killed in Mecca. This was revealed about the parents of ‘Ammar Ibn Yasir (Yasir and Sumayyah) and others who were killed by the Meccan idolaters.” (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, Page 35)

Zaad al-Ma’ad – Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292 – 1350) [1] [2]:

“The companions of the messenger of Allaah suffered for the sake of Allaah. When the prophet passed ‘Ammaar Bin Yaasir and his mother Sumayya as they were being tortured, he said: (be patient family of Yaasir, for paradise awaits you). … The persecution intensified until some of the believers accepted Al Laat and Al ‘Uzza as deities. In fact, when the enemy of Allaah Aboo Jahl found Sumayya the mother of ‘Ammaar Bin Yaasir being tortured, he killed her by shooting her in the vagina with a spear.” (Zaad al-Ma’ad by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, page 268)

Isaba – Ibn Hajar (1372 – 1449):

“Kalbi states that Abdullah Ibn Yasir was being tortured (with his brother Ammaar and his parents). Sumayya (the mother of Ammar) was martyred when Abu Jahl pierced his spear into the most private part of her body. Yasir (Ammar’s father) was martyred during the torture and (his son) Abdullah fell dead when an arrow was fired at him.” (Isaba, Ibn Hajar, volume 3, page 647)

Al-Bidaya Wa Nihaya – Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373):

“Mujahid states, ‘The first martyr was Sumayya, the mother of Ammaar, who was martyred during the early days of Islam when Abu Jahl pierced his spear into the most private part of her body.” (Al-Bidaya Wa Nihaya, Ibn Kathir volume 3, page 59)

Al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah – Ibn Hisham:

“The persecution intensified and affected all the Muslims, to such an extent that Yasir and his wife Sumayyah were killed. The Prophet was deeply grieved, and wondered where could the Muslims go? Then the Messenger of Allah thought of Abyssinia and said to the Muslims: “Why don’t you go to Abyssinia, for in (that land) there is a righteous king in whose land no one is wronged.”(Al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Hisham, volume 1, page 413. See also al-Hijrah fi’l-Qur’an il-Kareem, page 290)


Usd al-Gaba – Ibn al-Athir (1160 – 1233):

“A particular clan of the Banu Mugira b. Abd Allah b. Umar b. Maḫzum tortured Sumayya, Ammar’s mother for her conversion to Islam. She refused to change [her religion], so they murdered her. The Messenger of God used to pass by Ammar, his mother, and his father as they were being tortured in the valley with the sun-baked stones of Mecca, and said: “Be patient, oh family of Yasir, you have been promised heaven.” (Usd al-Gaba by Ibn al-Athir, volume 7, page 152. No 7021)

Ansab al-Asraf – al-Baladhuri (d. 892 AD):

“ʿAmmar b. Yasir, his father, Yasir, his brother ʿAbd Allah b. Yasir, and Summayya, his mother, were being tortured in God’s [cause]. Then, the Prophet walked past them and said: “Be patient, O Yasir’s family, for indeed you have been promised heaven.” (Ansab al-Asraf, by al-Baladhuri, volume 1, page 160)

Ma’rifat al-Sahaba – Ahmad b, Abd Allah Abu Nu’aym al-Isfahani (947 -1038 AD):

“The Prophet passed by ʿAmmar, his father, and his mother while they were being tortured in the desert and said: “I give glad tidings to the family of ʿAmmar, for indeed they have been promised heaven.” (Ma’rifat al-Sahaba [Edition Adil b. Yusuf al-Azzazi, Riyadh, Dar al-Watan li-l-Nasr, 1998], by Ahmad b, Abd Allah Abu Nu’aym al-Isfahani, volume 5, page 283)

Al-Mu’jam al-Aswat – Sulayman b. Ahmad al-Tabarani (873 – 918 AD):

“The Prophet walked past ʿAmmar’s family while they were being tortured and said to them: “I give glad tidings to the family of ʿAmmar, for indeed, you have been promised heaven.” (Al-Mu’jam al-Aswat by Sulayman b. Ahmad al-Tabarani, volume 2, page 141. See also al-Mustadrak ala l-Sahihayn, volume 2, page 438)

Tarikh – Abu Bakr Ahmad b. Ali Hatib al-Baghdadi (1002 – 1071:

“Uṯhman said: I was with the Prophet when he walked by ʿAmmar b. Yasir, his mother, and his father while they were being tortured. [The Prophet] said: ‘Be patient O family of Yasir, for indeed you have been promised heaven!” (Tarikh Madinat al-Salam Wa-Ahbar Wa-Muhadditha Wa-dikr Quttaniha l-Ulama min gayr Ahliha wa-wardiha by Abu Bakr Ahmad b. Ali Hatib al-Baghdadi, volume 13, page 254)

Musnad Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal (780 – 855 AD):

“3832. It was narrated that Abdullah said: The first ones to show Islam openly were seven: the Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr, Ammar and his mother Sumayyah, Suhaib, Bilal, and al-Miqdad. As for the Messenger of Allah, Allah protected him by means of his paternal uncle Abu Talib. As for Abu Bakr, Allah protected him by means of his people. As for the rest of them, the mushrikoon took them and clothed them in shirts of iron, and they exposed them to the heat of the sun, and there was not one of them but he did what they wanted him to do, except Bilal, for he did not care what was done to him for the sake of Allah and his people did not care what happened to him. They handed him over to the children who paraded him around the streets of Makkah as he was saying: One, One.” (English Translation of Musnad Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal, volume 3, Page 385 – 386 (Isnad Hasan))

Sahih Bukhari (810 – 870 AD):

“My mother and I were among the weak and oppressed. I from among the children, and my mother from among the women. Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 439,

Mustadrak al-Haakim – Nihapuri (933 – 1012 AD):

“Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood narrates that seven persons were the first to make their conversion to Islam public. These were the Prophet, Abu Bakr, Ammar, his mother (Sumayya), Suhayb, Bilal and Miqdad. While Allah protected the Prophet through his uncle and Abu Bakr through his tribe, the others were captured by the mushrikeen (polytheists) and made to wear coats of steel armour and left to swelter in the sun. Each one of them beside Bilal were compelled to do as the mushrikeen (polytheist) wanted. For the pleasure of Allah, he thought nothing of himself. Because the people regarded him as an inferior being, they used to capture him and hand him over to youngsters who would pull him through the streets of Makkah. All the while, he kept saying, ‘Ahad! Ahad! (Allah is One!).” (Mustadrak al-Haakim volume 3, page 284; Hilya by Abu Nu’aym, volume 1, page 149; Ibn Shayba quoted in Kanzul Ummaal volume 7, page 14, and Isti’aab by Ibn Abdil Barr, volume 2, page 141))

Hilya – Abu Nu’aym (947 – 1038 AD):

“Mujahid narrates that the (poor) Muslims were made wear coats of steel armour and then left to swelter in the sun. They suffered terribly from the combined heat of the sun and the scorching armour. When night fell, Abu Jahal would come to them with his spear and start taunting and threatening them.” (Hilya, by Abu Nu’aym, volume 1, page 140)

Al-Isabah – Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (1372 – 1449):

Brutality was meted out to his father Yasir and his mother Sumayyah. Mujahid says, ‘Initially, just seven people openly proclaimed their belief in Islam. They were, the Prophet, Abu Bakr, Bilal, Khabbab, Suhaib, Ammar and Sumayyah. Owing to their noble family connections, the polytheists of Makkah were unable to wield absolute domination over the Prophet and Abu Bakr. However, the remaining five, Bilal, Khabbab, Suhaib, Ammar, and Sumayyah were persistently subject to their relentless brutality. In the midst of the midday heat, they would dress them in metallic armour and force them to stand in the blistering heat. One day, Abu Jahal appeared before them. (In a fit of rage), he thrust a spear into Sumayyah’s private. This wound proved fatal. She subsequently died a Martyr.” (Al-Isabah, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, volume 4, page 335)

Tartib al-a’lam ‘ala al-a’wam – Khayr al-Din zirikli:

“Yasir Ibn Amir al-kanani al-Mathhaji al-‘Ansi (Abu Ammar) one of the older Sahabah (companion), he was killed due to the Quraish (polytheists) torturing him” (Tartib al-a’lam ‘ala al-a’wam, by Khayr al-Din zirikli, volume 1 (2?) page 102)

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[1] Tafseer az-Zamakhshari (1070 – 1143) on Quran 16:106 states that Yasir and his wife, Summayah were the first martyrs in Islam. This explicitly states they were murdered:
“وكان فيهم من أكره فأجرى كلمة الكفر على لسانه وهو معتقد للإيمان، منهم عمار، وأبواه- ياسر وسمية- وصهيب، وبلال، وخباب، وسالم: عذبوا، فأمّا سمية فقد ربطت بين بعيرين وو جيء في قبلها بحربة، وقالوا: إنك أسلمت من أجل الرجال فقتلت، وقتل ياسر وهما أول قتيلين في الإسلام،” (Tafseer az-Zamakhshari on Quran 16:106, online source,
[2] al-Badi’ wal-Taareekh – Ibn Taahir al-Maqdisi (1056 – 1113) mentions that Ammar’s father Yasir and mother, Sumayyah were both persecuted and murdered. For more information see the following article:

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