The Incredible Story of Khawlah bint al-Azwar, One of the Greatest Female Military Leaders in History

Author unknown/ Public Domain

Women are highly esteemed in Islam and as Muslims, we have so many female role models who have distinguished themselves in various facets of life. Today, the focus is going to be on Khawlah bint al-Azwar who remains one of the greatest female military leaders in history. This is going to come as a surprise to some who feel that women should not be in any tangible role, not to talk of being a military leader. But Islam is one faith that does not only allow women to achieve their dreams, it also actively encourages them.

Khawlah bint al-Azwar has a story that will leave all of us spellbound. For starters, she was one of the few lucky ones who were alive during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). She was not just a Muslim and devoted follower of the Noble Prophet (SAW), she was also so passionate about the cause of Islam that she led battles, wars, and all kinds of military expeditions. A fearless warrior, she has been described as one of the most outstanding military leaders in history. She was so good that she has been placed on the same pedestal with another famous and highly-revered Muslim general and commander, Khalid Bin Walid.

A sister of a dedicated Muslim soldier (her brother Dhiraar bin Al-Azwar was the soldier and commander of the Rashidun Caliphate Army known for its impressive levels of their organization, discipline, and unbelievable prowess), Khawlah bint al-Azwar was respected by friends and foes alike. Believed to be born in the seven-century as a daughter of one of the tribal leaders, she is remembered for her gallant efforts as a military leader.

With unwavering courage and mental stamina, she led Muslims into battles into areas that are now known as Jordan, Syria, and Palestine. Many times, she fought alongside her brother, the famed general Dhirrar in several military engagements. One of the most remarkable of such military exploits was the Battle of Yarmouk in August 636.

This was a principal war between the Muslims and the army of the Byzantine Empire in an area close to the Yarmouk River (now along the Jordan-Syria border). During this tense battle, Khawlah herself led a group of female Muslim warriors and engaged the Byzantine Army. She was successful as they defeated the main commander but she sustained an injury in the process.

During the Battle of Ajnadin, she fought so well that many did not even know she was the one but assumed her to be Khalid ibn Walid because she was veiled. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Muslims. She would go on and still take part in several other battles. She lived her life for Islam and the Muslims. Today, she remains a major figure in our faith and is considered to be one of the greatest Muslim generals. She is still remembered and honoured with the naming of several institutions after her. May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant Khawlah bint al-Azwar the best of the Hereafter, aameen.