Naila bint al-Farafsa
Naila bint al-Farafsa was the wife of Uthman, the third Caliph of the Islamic Empire. She was born into a Christian family in Kufa but was converted to Islam by Aisha. In 28 AH (649 CE), she married Uthman, who had succeeded to the Caliphate in 644.
In 656, after growing discontent with his rule, rebels besieged Uthman in his home in Medina. Ali ibn Abu Talib had earlier rescued Uthman from similar situation on his promise to address complaints made by public. Marwan ibn Al Hakam, however manipulated the situation and thwarted Uthman from correcting the wrongdoings. The Caliph, now about 80 years old, this time pleaded for help from his governors but no help arrived in time. After 49 days, the rebels broke in with the intention of killing Uthman. Naila attempted to save her husband, but in raising her left hand to stop a sword falling on him, merely had her fingers cut off. Uthman was martyred as he read the Qur'an, supposedly while reading the verse (2:137) "And Allah will suffice you for defense against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower." He was succeeded as Caliph by Ali ibn Abu Talib.
After Uthman's murder, Naila spoke strongly against the rebels, and also the people of Medina who had failed to resist them. She also wrote a famous letter to Muawiya, the governor of Syria and kinsman of Uthman, criticizing him for not doing more to save the Caliph's life. Muawiya, appointed initially by Umar ibn al-Khattab, later on waged a war against Caliph Ali ibn Abu Talib.
Later, after Uthman's death, she remained a widow and did not marry again. Muawiya asked her to marry him twice (it was common for Arabs to marry widows). For the first time she refused verbally and on the second, in reply to his letter she sent along two front teeth of hers which she had broken deliberately signaling that she was no longer beautiful and Muawiya should not ask of her again.
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