Hind bint Utbah, being a woman, does not inspire the same sympathy. Viciousness in a woman, that is a harpy. Viciousness in a man moves hearts to quiver.
In the Battle of Badr, an earlier battle in which the Muslims had defeated the Meccans, Hind’s father, brother, and uncle were all killed. Consequently, her anger at the Muslims was immense. She wailed and shrieked for days and wandered the desert pouring sand on her face and clothes, until her husband assured her that the death of her family would be avenged. She promised a reward for the one who could bring back to her the heart of Hamza, who was believed to have been the man who slaughtered her father and brother. In the Battle of Uhud, Hamza was struck with a spear, and after he died was ripped open–the liver was brought to Hind, who is reported to have eaten it.
When the Muslims conquered Mecca in 630 with comparatively little bloodshed, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb surrendered to them, much to Hind bint Utbah’s outrage. But something miraculous might have caused her heart to change, for when the time came for the official conversion she led a group of women to the Prophet cheerfully. And with the Prophet she had the following exchange:
“You shall have but one God.”
“We grant you that.”
“You shall not steal.”
“Abu Sufyan is a stingy man, I only stole provisions from him.”
“That is not theft. You shall not commit adultery.”
“Does a free woman commit adultery?”
“You will not kill your children by infanticide.”
“Have you left us any children that you did not kill at the Battle of Badr?”
Romanticization of the past is not only prevalent but normal, and not only among Muslims. And sometimes history is romanticized solely for redemption: the past couple of entries I’ve written about wars have been in remembrance of the women who fought in them, who are neglected and discredited often in this global patriarchy. But it is also important to remember that war is anything but glorious. People die, people are executed, in the most horrific ways imaginable. You would think, what monster could think up such a vile method of execution? Lives are destroyed. Most of the world isn’t good versus evil, but good versus good. And it is easy to judge and forget.
I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with romanticizing the past, especially if it becomes like respiration: we need it, for identity that was stolen from us, for hope, for believing that it could be better because once–once!–it was better. As long as we know that these are exaggerations, glorifications, that the nature of truth has a reputation of being both simple and stranger than fiction, which amusingly enough makes it both complex and obvious, there is nothing wrong with romanticizing the past if it helps us live here in the present. As long as we don’t forget we’re lying, just a little, and that the world isn’t black and white.
God knows best.