Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib

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Hamza ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib (Arabic: حمزة بن عبد المطلب‎‎) (c.570–625[1]) was a companion and paternal uncle of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

His kunyas were Abu Umara[2] (أَبُو عُمَارَةَ) and Abu Yaala[3] (أَبُو يَعْلَى). He had the by-names Lion of God[2] (أسد الله) and the Lion of Paradise[citation needed] (أسد الجنة), and Muhammad gave him the posthumous title Sayyid-ush-Shuhda ("Chief of the Martyrs").[4]


Hamza’s father was Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy from the Quraysh tribe in Mecca.[2] His mother was Hala bint Uhayb from the Zuhra clan of the Quraysh.[2] His parents met when Abdul Muttalib went with his son Abdullah to the house of Wahb ibn 'Abd Manaf to seek the hand of Wahb’s daughter Amina. While they were there, Abdul Muttalib noticed Wahb’s niece, Hala bint Uhayb, and he asked for her hand as well. Wahb agreed, and Muhammad’s father Abdullah and his grandfather Abdul Muttalib were both married on the same day in a double marriage ceremony.[5] Hence Hamza was the younger brother of Muhammad’s father.

Hamza was born very close to the birth of Muhammad and he was also Muhammad’s foster-brother: they had both been suckled by the slave Thuwaybah, who was a maid of Abu Lahab, another uncle of Muhammad.[6] It was traditionally erroneously alleged that Hamza was four years older than Muhammad.[6] This is disputed by Ibn Sayyid, who argues: “Zubayr narrated that Hamza was four years older than the Prophet. But this does not seem correct, because reliable hadith state that Thuwayba nursed both Hamza and the Prophet.” Ibn Sayyid concludes that Hamza was only two years older than Muhammad, though he adds the traditional expression of doubt, “Only God knows.”[7] Ibn Hajar writes: “Hamza was born two to four years before Muhammad, although it is clearly not the case as Hamza's mother and Muhammad's mother were married off in the same ceremony and also because the same slave girl could not have nursed them both at the same time.”[8]

Hamza was skilled in wrestling, archery and swordsmanship.[4] He was fond of hunting, and he is described as “the strongest man of the Quraysh, and the most unyielding.”[9]

Marriages and Children[edit]

Hamza married three times and had six children.[10]

  1. Salma bint Umays, the half-sister of Maymuna bint al-Harith.
    1. Umama bint Hamza, wife of Salama ibn Abi Salama.
  2. The daughter of Al-Milla ibn Malik of the
  3. Khawla bint Qays of the An-Najjar clan of the Khazraj in Medina.
    1. Yaala ibn Hamza. He had issue, but their descendants had died out by the time of Ibn Saad.
    2. Umara ibn Hamza.
    3. Two daughters who died in childhood.[11]

Conversion to Islam[edit]

Hamza took little notice of Islam for the first few years. He did not respond to Muhammad’s first appeal to the Hashim clan in 613.[12]

He converted in late 615 or early 616.[3] Upon returning to Mecca after a hunting trip in the desert, he heard that Abu Jahl had “attacked the Prophet and abused and insulted him,”[3] “speaking spitefully of his religion and trying to bring him into disrepute.” Muhammad had not replied to him.[9] “Filled with rage,” Hamza “went out at a run … meaning to punish Abu Jahl when he met him.” He entered the Kaaba, where Abu Jahl was sitting with the elders, stood over him and “struck him a violent blow” with his bow. He said, “Will you insult him, when I am of his religion and say what he says? Hit me back if you can!”[13] He “struck Abu Jahl’s head with a blow that cut open his head.”[3] Some of Abu Jahl’s relatives approached to help him, but he told them, “Leave Abu Umara [Hamza] alone, for, by God, I insulted his nephew deeply.”[13]

After that incident, Hamza entered the House of Al-Arqam and declared Islam.[3] “Hamza’s Islam was complete, and he followed the Apostle’s commands. When he became a Muslim, the Quraysh recognised that the Apostle had become strong, and had found a protector in Hamza, and so they abandoned some of their ways of harassing him.”[13] Instead, they tried to strike bargains with him; but he did not accept their offers.[14]

Hamza once asked Muhammad to show him the angel Jibreel “in his true form.” Muhammad told Hamza that he would not be able to see him. Hamza retorted that he would see the angel, so Muhammad told him to sit where he was. They claimed that Jibreel descended before them and that Hamza saw that Jibreel’s feet were like emeralds before falling down unconscious.[15]

Hamza joined the emigration to Medina in 622 and lodged with Kulthum ibn al-Hidm[16] or Saad ibn Khaythama. Muhammad made him the brother in Islam of Zayd ibn Harithah.[3][17]

Military expeditions[edit]

First expedition in Islam[edit]

Muhammad sent Hamza on his first raid against Quraysh. Hamza led an expedition of thirty riders to the coast in Juhayna territory to intercept a merchant-caravan returning from Syria. Hamza met Abu Jahl at the head of the caravan with three hundred riders at the seashore. Majdi ibn Amr al-Juhani intervened between them, “for he was at peace with both parties,” and the two parties separated without any fighting.[6][18]

There is dispute as to whether Hamza or his second cousin Ubaydah ibn al-Harith was the first Muslim to whom Muhammad gave a flag.[18]

Battle of Badr[edit]

Hamza and Ali lead the Muslim armies at Badr.

Hamza fought at the Battle of Badr, where he shared a camel with Zayd ibn Harithah[19] and where his distinctive ostrich feather made him highly visible.[6][20] The Muslims blocked the wells at Badr.[21]

“Al-Aaswad ibn Abdalasad al-Makhzumi, who was a quarrelsome ill-natured man, stepped forth and said, ‘I swear to God that I will drink from their cistern or destroy it or die before reaching it.’ Hamza ibn Abdalmuttalib came forth against him, and when the two met, Hamza smote him and sent his foot and half his shank flying as he was near the cistern. He fell on his back and lay there, blood streaming from his foot towards his comrades. Then he crawled to the cistern and threw himself into it with the purpose of fulfilling his oath, but Hamza followed him and smote him and killed him in the cistern.”[22]

He then killed Utbah ibn Rabi'ah in single combat and helped Ali to kill Utbah’s brother Shayba.[22] It is disputed whether it was Hamza or Ali who killed Tuwayma ibn Adiy.[23]

Later Hamza carried Muhammad’s banner in the expedition against the Banu Qaynuqa.[6]


Hamza killed at Uhud.

Hamza was killed at the Battle of Uhud on 22 March 625 (3 Shawwal 3 hijri) when he was 59 (lunar) years old.[6] He was standing in front of Muhammad, fighting with two swords and shouting, “I am Allah’s lion!”[15] While he was fighting in the Battle of Uhud he had a feather of an ostrich in his turban."[24]

Either Hind bint Utbah wife of Abu Sufyan or Jubayr ibn Mut'im bribed the Abyssinian slave Wahshi ibn Harb with a promise of manumission if he killed Hamza. For Hind, it would have been to revenge the death of her brother and father in the hands of Hamza at the Battle of Badr. For Jubayr ibn Mut'im it would have been to revenge his uncle, Tuwayma ibn Adiy, also killed by Hamza at Badr.”[25] Hamza, running back and forth, stumbled and fell on his back; and Wahshi, “who could throw a javelin as the Abyssinians do and seldom missed the mark,”[25] threw it into Hamza’s abdomen and killed him. Wahshi then slit open his stomach and brought his liver to Hind bint Utbah,[6] whose father Hamza had killed at Badr (see above).

Hind chewed Hamza’s liver then spat it out. “Then she went and mutilated Hamza and made anklets, necklaces and pendants from his body and brought them and his liver to Mecca.”[6]

Hamza was buried in the same grave as his nephew Abdullah ibn Jahsh. Muhammad later said, “I saw the angels washing Hamza because he was in Paradise on that day.”[6] Fatima used to go to Hamza’s grave and tend it.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad, Tabaqat vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr, p. 4. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  2. ^ a b c d Ibn Saad/Bewley, p. 2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ibn Saad/Bewley, p. 3.
  4. ^ a b http://www.prophetmuhammadforall.org/webfiles/downloads/english/HAMZA.pdf
  5. ^ Al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Rasul al-Maluk. Translated by Watt, W. M., & McDonald, M. V. (1988). Volume VI: Muhammad at Mecca, pp. 5-8. New York: State University of New York Press.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ibn Saad/Bewley, p. 4.
  7. ^ Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, Uyun al-Athar.
  8. ^ Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Finding the Truth in Judging the Companions.
  9. ^ a b Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 131.
  10. ^ Ibn Saad/Bewley p. 3.
  11. ^ Ibn Saad, مخمخخ vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, p. 288. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  12. ^ Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, pp. 117-118. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. ^ a b c Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 132.
  14. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, pp. 132-133.
  15. ^ a b Ibn Saad/Bewley, p. 6.
  16. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 218.
  17. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 324.
  18. ^ a b Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 283.
  19. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 293.
  20. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 303.
  21. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 297.
  22. ^ a b Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 299.
  23. ^ Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 337.
  24. ^ Al-Raheeq ul Makhtoom, p. 220.
  25. ^ a b Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, p. 370.
  26. ^ Ibn Saad/Bewley, p. 11.