Arva- A Brave Woman
By Jawad Muhaddithi
Who was Arva?
The noble household of Hashim, with good moral and social reputation even in the dark age of paganism, created honor by bringing up brilliant figures.
Abdul Mutalib was the head of the household and had many children, all the apple of his eye. He had six daughters Arva, Umma-Hakim, Atika, Safiya, Barrah and Amima. Each of them had praise-worthy character, something not unexpected from the household of Abdul Mutalib.
Arva, paternal aunt of the Holy Prophet (SAW) was a woman of letters both in prose and poetry. She was alive during the early years of Islam, when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was appointed as the Prophet of Islam. She believed in Muhammad’s (SAW) prophetic mission and always supported the ideology of the Prophet (SAW) and encouraged her children to be faithful to him.
Her mother was Fatima, daughter of Amr Fakhrumi. Some say that Arva’s mother was Safiya, daughter of Jandab ibn Hajir. She lived in the days of paganism and her husband was Umeir ibn Vahab.
Although the pure Muhammadan (SAW) Islam had not yet dawned in the sky of Mecca, the pure posterity of Bani Abdul Manaf and the Sunnah of Ibrahim and the religion of truth rooted in this household, served as the background for accepting Islam and in spite of all difficulties created by the tribe of Quraysh and their hostilities, the members of this orthodox household welcomed Islam enthusiastically.
The Early Believers in Islam:
To be among the first in doing good deeds has always been worthy of praise. Therefore, those who heralded Islam in its early days with the Prophet (SAW) trying to , propagate his revealed religion to all, are to be respected. Arva was one of these believers.
It is mentioned that Arva’s husband was Umeir ibn Vahab. From this family, a boy by the name of Talib was born and as a youth in the early days of Islam, he accepted the call of the Prophet (SAW). He would attend meetings held secretly in the house of Arqam ibn Abi Arqam. After one of these meetings, he told his mother that he had accepted Islam. His mother told him to support his maternal cousin and added that “by God if we women could do what men were able to do, we didn’t hesitate to follow and support Muhammad (SAW)”.
Talib said: What prevents you from being a Muslim? Your brother, Hamza has become a Muslim too. Arva answered: Let me first see what my sisters do and I will follow suit.
Talib told his mother to visit the Prophet (SAW), accept his call to Islam, believe in the Oneness of God and in Muhammad (SAW) as His Messenger. Thus did Arva embrace Islam. She always propagated Islam and encouraged Talib to do so as well.
Devotion to Muhammad (SAW):
Arva and Talib’s faith was from the bottom of their hearts. They supported the religion revealed by God and did whatever they could do to help Muhammad (SAW) spread Islam as far and wide.
Once when unbelievers like Abu Jahl and others offensively hurt the Prophet (SAW), Talib fought with Abu Jahl and injured him. Unbelievers arrested Talib. Abu Jahl, out of kinship prejudice mediated and Talib was freed.
Some malicious people said sarcastically to Arva: “Don’t you see your son endangers himself for the cause of Muhammad (SAW) and Islam?” She answered: “Not only should serving in the cause of Islam not be blameworthy, but also it would also be a credit.The best days for my son have been the days he has spent in supporting his maternal cousin. Is it not true that Muhammad (SAW) has brought the religion of truth?”
Not expecting such a frank answer from that believing woman, they said: “May be you also have accepted Islam!” She answered in the affirmative. To carry favor with Abu Lahab and to hurt the feelings of this new convert to Islam, they told Abu Lahab that Arva had become a Muslim. Abu Lahab saw Arva and told her: “It is a great surprise you have abandoned the religion of Abdul Mutalib and are converted to the religion of Muhammad (SAW)!”
Not only did Arva’s faith in Islam not waver, she also tried to make a believer in Islam of Abu Lahab, a firm idolater. She said to Abu Lahab: “Support Muhammad (SAW), your nephew and don’t allow his opponents to harm him. If Muhammad (SAW) succeeds in calling people to Islam, you’ll be free in accepting his religion or not. If, however, he fails in his mission, you’ll be excused because you would have at least supported him.”
Abu Lahab answered: with poetical verse,
Talib supported wholeheartedly with his wealth and effort.
Her sister, Safiya and she accepted Muhammad (SAW)’s Call to Islam.
Lamenting for the death of her father.
Both herself and her sisters had poetical verse.
Of course, Arabs, male or female possessed this verse and wrote poems.
Praising someone or as elegy on his death or epic verses.
What was worthy of note, was that Arva and her sisters wrote elegies for their father in his life. Abdul Mutalib was confined to bed and told his daughters to write elegies individually and let him know how they felt after he passed away.
Arva wrote the following elegy with 10 couplets:
My eyes shed tears for a person whose
modesty was a fine moral endowment;
for a magnanimous Sayyid who was good-natured
a person unequaled in generosity; for a great learned man;
for a brilliant mind, he was great in largesse and brave warrior;
where the brave waver for fear of death, he welcomed it courageously;
he was a dignified man.
May Arva’s devotion and forbearance be an example
to follow by the women who know honour in their faith
in religion and lead a good moral life.