Ibn Qudåma al-Shåm had experienced at the end of a days battle. A woman approached him and begged him to cut o her beautiful long plaits of hair and use them as reins for his horse when going to ght f sabl Allåh (in Gods way). He refused at rst, suspecting the machinations of the devil. But the woman insisted, presenting the sacrice of her hair as a means of expiation for her sins, so nally he complied. The next morning Ab¨ Qudåma found himself ghting at the side of a very courageous young boy, who insisted on going out to battle in spite of his youth and Ab¨ Qudåmas persuasions that he go home. Mortally wounded, the boy made Ab¨ Qudåma promise that when the war ended he would go to Medina and inform his mother of his death. To Ab¨ Qudåmas horror, he could not bury the dead boy—the earth would not accept the body. Heart broken, he left the uncovered body to be devoured by birds and beasts of prey, and set out to Medina. He found the house. A little girl opened the door. She saw her brothers saddlebag in Ab¨ Qudåmas hand and cried out: Last year we lost my father, the following year my brother, and now my other brother?! Ab¨ Qudåma could hardly stop his tears, but the bereaved mother—none other than the mysterious woman who had sacriced her plaits of hair for the cause of jihåd—asked him, on the threshold of her house, whether he had come to condole or to congratulate. She explained: If you came to tell me that he died—condole, but if he died the death of a martyr (ustushhida)—congratulate. When Ab¨ Qudåma told her that the earth refused to accept the corpse of her son, her mind was completely rested. She explained that the boy had often expressed the desire to be assembled ˜on the Day of Resurrection· from the bellies of birds and beasts of prey,67 an expression taken from Prophetic ªadth in praise of martyrdom.68 The mothers chilling devotion to jihåd conforms, of course, to the topos of parents who encourage their sons to sacrice themselves, rejoice in their martyrdom, and forbid any mourning over them,69
67 Sib† ibn al-Jawz, al-Jals, 106–107. For other versions see ibid., 79. See also Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 10:4596–4599. For another story about a courageous woman, a princess who follows her father when he gives up royalty in quest of religious devotion, see Sib† ibn al-Jawz, Kanz, 81–84. 68 For references see Kohlberg, Martyrdom, 292, n. 52. 69 Kohlberg, Martyrdom, 287; Giladi, Æ The child was small, 378; Jarrar, Martyrdom, 102–105. See another example: an Ismål mother who mourns the survival(!) of her son in Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 4:1970.