Tumāḍir bint ʿAmr
ibn al-Ḥarth ibn al-Sharīd al-Sulamīyah (Arabic:
تماضر بنت عمرو بن الحرث بن الشريد السُلمية ) ,
usually simply referred to as al-Khansā’ (Arabic:
الخنساء) (translated from Arabic as either
'gazelle' or 'short-nosed') was a 7th century Arabic
poet. She was born and raised in the Najd region
(the central region of modern-day Saudi Arabia). She
was a contemporary of Muhammad, and eventually
converted to Islam.
In her time, the
role of a female poet was to write elegies for the
dead and perform them for the tribe in public oral
competitions. Al-Khansa’ won respect and fame in
these competitions with her elegies for her
brothers, Ṣakhr and Muʿāwiyah, who had died in
battle. She is the best known female poet in Arabic
Al-Khansa’ was born into a rich family of Najd.
In 612 AD, her
brother Muʿawiyah was killed by members of another
tribe. Al-Khansa’ insisted that her brother, Sakhr,
avenge Muʿawiyah's death, which he did. Sakhr was
wounded in the process and died of his wounds a year
later. Al-Khansa’ mourned his death in poetry and
gained fame for her elegiac compositions.
She met the Prophet
Muhammad in 629 and converted to Islam. He is said
to have been very impressed by her poetry.
She had four sons:
Yazīd, Muʿāwiyah, ʿAmr, and ʿAmrah, all of whom
converted to Islam. She earned respect when she went
with her sons who fought in the Battle of Qadisiyah,
where all four were killed.
When she received
the news, she allegedly did not grieve, but said,
"Praise be to Allah who honored me with their
martyrdom. And I have hope from my Lord that he will
reunite me with them in the abode of his mercy."
(Arabic: الحمد لله الذي شرفني بقتلهم، وأرجو من ربي
أن يجمعني بهم في مستقر رحمته)