By Umm Mohammed
“Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow [to the death]”. Surah Al Ahzab 23
Amongst all the noble and poignant accounts of the Sahaba, for all their nobility, justice and sacrifice; there is one that stands alone. It is a biography that inspires the deepest love and awe for the youngest of the companions who was the first ambassador of Islam. Mus’ab ibn Umayr.
Mus’ab bin Umayr bin Abdul Manaf, was the son of Son of, Umayr and Khunas Bint Maalik. They were nobles amongst the Quraish, from the Banu Abdu Daar tribe. A wealthy and influential family who staunchly upheld the pagan practices of their forefathers.
Mus’ab was known as the ‘flower of the Quraish’ for his incredibly handsome looks and charming demeanor. He was perfectly groomed and wore the best and most exquisite clothing from foreign lands. His luxurious fragrance would fill the air as he passed and it is said that the women of Makkah would vie for his attention.
When speaking of Mus’ab our beloved prophet Rasool Allah (saws) would say “I have never seen anyone in Makkah with better hair, finer clothes and enjoying as many bounties as Mus’ab bin Umayr”. (1)
Despite his wealth, status, beauty, youth and riches Mus’ab’s pure heart was inclined to a higher purpose. So when Mus’ab heard that the prophet of Allah pbuh was inviting people to Islam in the house of Arqam ibn abi Arqam, he attended the gathering. Yearning and anxious, he contemplated the verses of Quran being recited by the prophet pbuh and as faith entered his pounding heart he was ecstatic. The prophet pbuh patted his chest with his blessed right hand and suddenly the youth who had just become Muslim had a wisdom and determination that would change the course of time,
Mus’ab, still in his late teens continued to visit the house of Al Arqam where he refined his understanding of the new Deen, Islam. He understood it’s purpose in guiding the hearts of men and how it would impact the tribes of Arabia and beyond. Each day in the blessed company of the Prophet (saws) he became stronger in faith, understanding and practice.
Mus’ab had kept his conversion to Islam a secret from his over protective and domineering mother Khunas Bint Malik, fearing her anger. However when the news finally reached her, she predictably was enraged and despite her love for him, she slapped him, then shackled him in a distant part of the house with a guard to prevent from leaving, in the hope that he would abandon his new ideas.
The fifth year of prophethood was a difficult time and the Muslims were facing increasing persecution by the Quraish. So when Muhammed pbuh instructed those without support in Makkah to migrate to Abyssinia, Mus’ab ra who longed to join his brothers in faith used his ingenuity and escaped his guard.
On his return from Abyssinia Mus’ab presented himself to the prophet pbuh. He wore a simply garment patched and torn, a far cry from the fine silks and brocades of his past.
When his Mus’ab met his mother her heart softened at the sight of him and she accepted his decision. He advised her with tears in his eyes to accept Islam and the messenger pbuh, but she swore she would never enter Islam to weaken her senses and reject her Gods.
All those who saw Mus’ab would lower their heads and shed tears at the sight of the pampered youth, now in pieces of cloth held together by thorns. The prophet pbuh said
“There was no youth in Makkah so petted by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and his prophet”. (2)
Recognizing Mus’ab’s spirit of sacrifice, noble character, charming manners and patience, the Prophet pbuh commissioned him to assist the people of Madinah, then known as Yathrib. They had pledged their allegiance to the Prophet at ‘Aqabah, to call others to Islam and to prepare the city for the eventual migration of the Prophet pbuh and the Muslims as Muhajiroon (emigrants).
At that time, there were among the companions may Allah be pleased with them, men of sterling character and nerves of steel, men who were older and more experienced in the ways of the world; yet prophet Muhammed pbuh chose Mus’ab as his representative to open the hearts of the Aws and Khazraj tribes of Yathrib. Mus’ab proved worthy of the Prophet’s choice many times over, dealing with the tribal mentality of the leaders and citizens of Yathrib with patience and sagacity.
Mus’ab entered Yathrib as a guest of Sa’ad ibn Zurarah of the Khazraj tribe. Together they approached the citizens of Yathrib, reciting the Quran and explaining the holistic message of Tauhid (monotheism). Once Mus’ab and Sa’ad ibn Zurarah were sitting near a well in an orchard of Banee Zafar when they were approached by Usayd ibn Hudhayr brandishing a spear in obvious rage. Knowing he was the influential leader of the Banu Zafar tribe Mus’ab said calmly ‘If he sits down, I will speak to him”. Usayd was angry at the success of Mus’ab’s mission and shouted angrily: Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive”. At this, Mus’ab smiled and said softly “Won’t you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission, accept it; and if you dislike it we will stop telling you what you dislike and leave”. Sticking his spear into the ground, Usayd sat down to hear them out. As Mus’ab began telling him about Islam and reciting portions of the Quran to Usayd’s expression changed. The first words he uttered were “How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion”?
Mus’ab explained “Have a bath; purify yourself and your clothes. Then utter the testimony of faith the Shahada, and perform prayers”. Usayd ibn Hudhayr testified that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, prayed two units of salaah and was almost immediately followed by another influential companion Sa’ad ibn Muaadh. From the Islam of these two men, came scores of others, as both tribes of Banu Zafar and Banu Abdil Ash’hal accepted Islam. (4).
By the time the blessed Prophet (saws) emigrated, there was not a single household in Yathrib in which Mus’ab had not taken the message of Islam to and which did not have a Muslim in it. Many of the prominent families from the tribes of Aws and Khazraj had become brothers in Islam and their long-standing infamous disputes were coming to an end. Even the leaders of the Ansar acceoted Islam, including Amr bin Jamuh. The idols of the Ansar were broken and Mus’ab was give the title ‘Al Muqri’ the mentor. (3)
Illustration of the Hijrah
His intelligence and tact in propagating the call of Islam was indisputable. When the number of Muslims increased in Madinah, he organized them in a body and requested permission of prophet Muhammed pbuh to lay the foundation for the Friday prayers.
When the permission was granted he delivered a very impressive khutba (sermon) and led the congregational Jumma (Friday) prayers with great reverence, having the honour of founding the Jumma prayers. Mus‘ab’s achievements in Madinah were constantly reported to prophet Muhammed pbuh who always had great and profound love for him.
In the subsequent pilgrimage to Makkah, Mus’ab led a company of seventy people from Yathrib to give the Bay’ah the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet (saws). This momentous event was known as the second treaty of Aqaba. It paved the way for the final stage of the prophetic mission and the Dawah to Islam; the stage of implementation of the revelation.
As well as Mus’ab’s high intelligence and eloquence, his perseverance and sacrifice, Mus’ab proved also to be a gallant soldier, fearless warrior and able general in the Battle of Badr. Hence he was awarded the high honour of holding the Raya (Islamic banner) during the battle of Uhud.
During the battle of Uhud, it so happened that the battle was lost for a while by a mistake of the Muslims. The Makkan Quraish led by Khalid bin Waleed attacked the Muslims with their cavalry from the rear, disorganizing and scattering them.
At that critical time, Mus‘ab kept the Raya (Islamic banner) flying high. Although the forces were divided, he withstood the attacks of the enemy until he met Ibn Quma’ah a knight of the Quraish. He struck Mus’ab on his right hand and cut it off, but Mus’ab said, “And Muhammad (saws) is but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him”. He carried the standard with his left hand and leaned on it, but soon Ibn Quma’ah struck his left hand and it was severed too. Mus’ab the valiant then leaned on the standard and held it with his upper arms to his chest, all the while saying, “And Muhammad (saws) is but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him”. In savage fury Ibn Quma’ah threw the sword on the ground and flung a spear at the breast of Mus‘ab. It pierced his chest and remained embedded there.
The beloved of the beloved thus fell to the ground reciting the ayah of Surah Al Imran v 144
“وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلاَّرَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىَ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللّهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللّهُالشَّاكِرِينَ”And Muhammad pbuh is only a prophet of Allah. Many other Prophets have passed away before him.
When the noble keeper of Islamic banner fell, the Quraish falsely claimed the prophet (saws) was dead, because of the similar features of Mus’ab to that of the pPophet’s.
As the Raya (Islamic banner) fluttered in the air, Abdul Room bin Umayr, the brother of our treasured martyr moved forward and protected its honour.
When the battle came to an end the prophet pbuh stood by the body of Mus‘ab and recited the verse from Surah Al Ahzaab v 23.
مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم“There are some persons among the devoted Muslims (mu’mimeen) who kept their covenant with Allah (to the death).
With tears in his eyes Muhammed (saws) addressed the lifeless body of the one who he pbuh had entrusted with the most heavy and serious responsibility, the one who had carried the Dawah to the establishment of the Islamic society in Madinah and who had sacrificed every comfort that was dear to him in obedience to Allah most high and His messenger pbuh.
The Prophet (saws) said “When I saw you for the first time in Mecca there was nobody more handsome and well-dressed than you. But I see that today your hair is uncombed and only a sheet of cloth covers your body”. “Oh Mus’ab Ibn Umayr, we did not find anything of your wealth, besides this to bury your body in, as you gave it all away to those in need”.
Mus‘ab bin ‘Umayr had only a sheet of cloth over his body; if the head was covered, the feet were bare and when the feet were covered the head was left bare. In the end, his head was covered and his feet were covered with grass. Such was the shroud of Mus‘ab bin ‘Umayr may Allah be pleased with him, the great Dawah carrier and martyr of Islam.
(1) Hayaat us Sahaba Vioume,1 page 312. Ibn Sa’d volume 3 page 82.
(3) Hayaat us Sahaba Volume 1page 136. Abu Nu’aym volume 1 page 107.
(4) Hayaat us Sahaba Volume 1 page 207. Daar Qutni and Ibn Asaakir volume 5 page 142.