Meet Maysoon bint Bahdal: A Simple Country Woman and Grand Poet

The Forgotten Tabi'at (Series)

In the life of a student of knowledge, one always comes across a wide range of personalities whose light continues burning even thousands of years after they have departed this world. This always makes me taken aback. I feel prouder of my Islamic heritage whenever I read about women from the seerah.

These women with unique personalities and abilities in whom we can find role models for present-day Muslim women. Women who were teachers, warriors, thinkers, entrepreneurs, leaders, healthcare providers, jurists amongst many others.

But a woman that stands out from amongst the Tabi’at – not just because of her ascetic devotion to God but also for her literary prowess – is Maysoon bint Bahdal.

Early Life

Maysoon bint Bahdal was born in the year 21 AH. She belonged to the Kalb Bedouin tribe and was the daughter of the Kalb’s leader, Bahdal ibn Unayf. 

Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan, the governor of Damascus at the time of Umar (RA), sought her hand in marriage from her tribe and she agreed to marry him.

Her marriage to Mu’awiyah (RA) was politically motivated with her being the daughter of the chief of the Kalb tribe. After the plague that wiped out many of the Muslim Army in Syria, the Kalb tribe remained politically neutral when the Muslims first went into Syria.

Maysoon had a significant role in the politics of the Umayyad Caliphate. She also enjoyed a reputation as one of the earliest attested poets amongst the Arabs. 

Lifestyle adjustments

When Maysoon arrived in Mu’awiyah’s home, he asked an emasculated servant to serve her, and he told her to take off her scarf. But Maysoon disagreed saying that “A change in Allah’s creation doesn’t change the law of Allah“. She showed that, indeed, Muslim women do have agency in matters that are of personal concern to them

Maysoon somewhat eludes us as a vivid personality. She seems to have been wrapped up in the life of her young son whom she delighted to groom well to gladden the eyes of his affectionate father. She is generally credited with taking an interest in the education of Yazid, whom she took with her to the deserts of the Kalb south of Palmyra. She at one time accompanied Mu’awiyah on an expedition into Asia Minor.” 

According to Amir Muhammad Abu Ubaydah, from Nabia Abbott’s assessment of bint Bahdal.

Maysoon bint Bahdal was a very devoted Muslim. She delighted in simplicity and dedicated her days to worshipping Allah and caring for her son. She also spent most of her time writing and reciting poetry and thereafter became famous as one of Arabia’s greatest poets.

Family Legacy

After her marriage to Mu’awiyah bint Abu Sufyan, she had a dream where she saw the moon coming out of her. Her mother interpreted this to mean that she would have a male child who would become the Khalifah. And this really happened. She had a son called Yazid.

Because Mu’awiyah saw promise in Yazid, he loved him more than his other son, AbduLlah who was born to his other wife, Thaqithah. The latter was angry and confronted Mu’awiyah about this. Mu’awiyah then told her that he would show her the difference between them.

He called AbduLlah first and told him “Ask me anything. And I will grant you.” Abdullah then asked for a fine donkey and a fine dog. Mu’awiyah granted his request and asked him to go. 

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About Wardah Abbas
Wardah Abbas is a Lawyer who chose to pursue a career in writing. She’s passionate about Islam and has a particular interest in green and wholesome living. When she’s not writing, spending time with her family or bonding with a book, she can be found in the kitchen, whipping up edible ingredients into luscious skincare. Find her blogging at greenmuslimblog.com or visit her website at wardahabbas.com