The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: 'Whenever I looked to the right or left I saw her fighting in front of me'."
Umm 'Umara was blessed with many honours, amongst these her presence at Uhud, al-Hudaybiyya, Khaybar, the Fulfilled Umra, Hunayn, and the Battle of Yamama. But her most noble role came about during the battle of Uhud.
Umm 'Umara set out to the battle with her husband, Ghaziya, and her two sons. Her intention had been to give water to the wounded, but Allah had planned for her a more rewarding role.
So she set out with her family with a waterskin, and arrived at the battle field during the beginning of the day. The Muslims had the upper hand, and she went to see how the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was. But then the Muslims committed a fatal error - seeing the Quraysh on the retreat, they ran towards the booty, ignoring the Prophet's command to remain on the hill. Khalid bin Walid, (who hadn't embraced Islam yet), seeing the open flank, made a charge against the Muslims and suddenly the tide had swung towards the Quraysh. The Muslims panicked and began to flee, leaving behind only the Prophet (s.a.w) and a handful of his Companions. Among these was Umm Umara.
Seeing the Muslims flee, Umm Umara ran to the defense of the Prophet and took up arms, along with her husband and two sons. The Prophet noticed that she had no shield, and so said to one of the retreating men: "Give your shield to the one who is fighting."
So he handed her the shield, and she defended the Prophet of Allah with it, using also the bow and arrow along with a sword. She was attacked by horsemen, but never wavered nor felt fear. She later boldly claimed,
"If they had been on foot as we were, we would have trounced them, Allah willing."
Abdullah ibn Zayed, her son, was wounded during the battle. His wound bled profusely. His mother ran to him and bandaged his wounds, and then commanded him,
"Go and fight the people, my son!"
The Prophet (s.a.w) admired her sense of sacrifice, and commended her, "Who can endure what you can endure, Umm 'Umara!"
Suddenly, the man who had struck her son advanced, and the Prophet called out to her, "This is the one who struck your son."
She bravely confronted the man, who her very son described as being like a great tree trunk, and struck at his leg, sending him to his knees. The Messenger of Allah smiled so much his teeth became visible, and remarked, "You have retaliated, Umm 'Umara!".
Having finished him off, the Prophet then said, "Praise be to Allah who has given you victory and delighted you over your enemy and let you enjoy your revenge directly."
At one stage, the Prophet (s.a.w) was left alone, so taking the opportunity, the enemy Ibn Qumay'a charged at the Prophet, shouting: "Show me Muhammad! I will not be saved if he is saved!" So Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr, along with some other of the Companions, dashed to the protection of the Prophet. Umm 'Umara was among them, and began fiercely striking at the enemy of Allah, even though he (the enemy) was wearing double armour. Ibn Qumay'a managed to strike a blow at her neck, leaving a serious wound. The Prophet quickly called on her son:
"Your mother! Your mother! Bind her wound! May Allah bless you, the people of a house! The stand of your mother is better than the stand of so-and-so. May Allah have mercy on you, people of a house! The stand of your foster father is better than the stand of so-and-so. May Allah have mercy on you, people of a house!"
Umm 'Umara, seeing the Prophet's pleasure on her determination and valour, earnestly requested:
"Ask Allah to make us your companions in the Garden!"
So he said: "O Allah, make them my companions in the Garden."
And this was the desire of Umm 'Umara, to which she replied:
"I do not care what afflicts me in this world!"
That day, she received thirteen wounds, and was treated for her neck wound for a complete year. She also participated in the Battle of Yamama, where she received eleven wounds and lost her hand.
Her courageous character earned her the respect of all the Companions, especially the Khalifa's who would visit her and pay special attention to her.
'Umar bin Khattab (r.a.a) was brought some silk garments which contained excellent quality material. One of the people remarked, "This garment is worth such-and-such (meaning how expensive it was). You should send it to the wife of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, Safiyya bint Abi 'Ubayd." 'Umar (r.a.a) however did not desire such a garment for his daughter in law.
"That is something which I will not give to Ibn 'Umar. I will send it to someone who is more entitled to it than her - Umm 'Umara Nusayba bint Ka'b. On the day of Uhud, I heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) say, 'Whenever I looked to the right or left I saw her fighting in front of me'."
This was the life of Umm 'Umara, the warrior who stood when many fled, who sent her wounded son back into the thick of the battle, and was prepared to lose her life to save the Prophet's. In return, she received the du'a for the Prophet's companionship in Paradise.
May Allah bless our women with such courage, self-sacrifice and perseverance.