Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib

BACK Return to Table of contents

 

Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib

 

A giant standing amongst the giants of Islam. A warrior of the Islamic cause. Famous as Asad Allah (the lion of Allah). When one hears the phrase Asad Allah, the mind races to the courageous Companion Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hisham ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Qusay ibn Kilab radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The dauntless leader, perhaps less famous by his teknonyms Abu ‘Umarah and Abu Ya’la, the paternal uncle and foster brother of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was born into the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh in Makkah, emigrating later in life to Madinah.

No sooner had he accepted Islam that his life took a drastic turn wherein his concern was defending the Islamic cause from enemies foreign and domestic. He had immersed himself in the worry of spreading Islam and became a source of pride for the early weak Muslims. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala honoured him with Islam just as he honoured Islam with him. He was a symbol of strength for the Muslims and was pivotal in laying the path for da’wah in the beginning stages of the new faith.

The story of his acceptance of Islam is testament to the nobility of his fearless character. Hamzah, a man of deep rooted values, was reputed to be the strongest and most active of the Quraysh, their champion in war. He spent most of his time hunting in the hills. One day when he returned from the chase with his bow swinging from his shoulder, the slave-girl of ‘Abdullah ibn Jad’an told him how Abu Jahal had heaped abuse on his nephew and when not electing a response hurled a stone at his head causing the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to bleed.

Hamzah found himself at the end of all patience. He went on the run to the masjid, where he saw Abu Jahal was reviewing the events of the day to his compeers. Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu struck him on his head with his heavy bow, causing it to bleed, saying:

 

اتشتم ابن اخي وانا على دينه

Will you insult him when I am upon his religion?

 

He shouted, flexing his muscle under the noses of the Quraysh. The clans of both men rose ready to defend their honour, however Abu Jahal realising the better path would be to accept his wrong doing instructed his clan men to step down.[1]

Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu became a Muslim and put his teeth into the faith taking a stance worthy to have books of history written in gold dedicated to him. What history has recorded of this warrior is a yardstick for the generations to come. By Allah! The Sahabah were a people like no other. If you were to ask me to swear in the sacred bounds of the haram the superiority of the Sahabah over the entire ummah, in their faith, conviction, sacrifice, honour, and justice I would do so till there no longer remains adequate airflow to vibrate my vocal folds and create audible pulses, may Allah be pleased with them all.

True courage creates a fervour for establishing the truth as we see throughout the life of Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The first raiding party in Islam was led by him. He was, therefore, the first banner bearer in Islam. The battle of Badr too recorded him amongst its great warriors.

و هكذا السيف لا سيف ابن ذي

تلك المكارم لا قعبان من لبن هذا
و هكذا يعصف التوحيد بالوثن

و هكذا يفعل الابطال ان غضبوا

 Noble character is earned not inherited; similarly, valour is not talking of bygone days.

These are the tales of brave men when they’re angered; these are tales of idol worship broken by monotheism

 

Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhu pays testament to his bravery on the Day of Uhud with the following words:

 

كان حمزة يقاتل يوم احد بين يدي رسول الله صلي الله عليه و سلم بسيفين و يقول انا اسد الله

Hamzah fought on the Day of Uhud in front of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wielding two swords, proclaiming, “I am the Lion of Allah.”

 

He attacked left and right, fighting in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala defending the Islamic proclamation. Unbeknown to him there lay in wait Wahshi, a slave, a master of the spear, whose freedom hung in the balance. “Kill him and you are free,” promised his master Jubayr ibn Mut’im. Wahshi recounts his encounter with Hamzah:

 

ورأيت رجلا إذا حمل لا يرجع حتى يهزمنا، فقلت من هذا؟ قالوا حمزة. قلت: هذا حاجتي

I saw a man who would launch an attack and not return till his opponent lay in the dust. I enquired regarding him. The people informed me he is Hamzah. I knew then, he was my target.

 

The martyrdom of Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu at the hands of Wahshi was with a quick launch of the spear which tore through the courageous warrior rendering his body soulless. This attack of Wahshi was before his acceptance of Islam. The polytheists however were not content with simply killing him, they mutilated his corpse, gutting him, and cutting his ears and nose off! When the news reached Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam he was struck with grief and outrage vowing to take revenge if given the opportunity, upon which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala revealed the following verse:

لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الْأَمْرِ شَيْءٌ أَوْ يَتُوْبَ عَلَيْهِمْ أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ ظَالِمُوْنَ

Not for you, [O Muhammad, but for Allah], is the decision whether He should [cut them down] or forgive them or punish them, for indeed, they are wrongdoers.[2]

 

On his way from the battlefield, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam heard the women of the Ansar lamenting their martyrs, and tears falling from his eyes, said:

ولكن حمزة لا بواكي له ولكن حمزة لا بواكي له

But Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu has no one to lament him.[3]

 

The women of the Ansar sharing the emotion of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took it upon themselves to cry and lament for Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. When the Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam heard them doing this he forbade them saying, “I did not mean this. Go back, may Allah have mercy on you. There will be no crying anymore.” This was the end of the worldly chapter of this brave warrior’s life.

و اما ممات يغيظ العدا

فاما حياة تسر الصديق

 Live pleasing friends; or die infuriating enemies

 

Just as Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was overtaken by emotion on his death, so too were the Companions. Their poetry took on a unique path riddled with grief. ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah radiya Llahu ‘anhu composed the following:

وما يغني البكاء ولا العويل

بكت عيني وحق لها بكاها
أحمزة ذاكم الرجل القتيل

على أسد الإله غداة قالوا

هناك وقد أصيب به الرسول

أصيب المسلمون به جميعا

 My eyes tear and rightfully so; however, neither crying nor lamenting will offer me solace,

Upon the loss of the Lion of Allah; Hamzah they said, has been killed,

All the Muslims grieved his loss; more so the Messenger of Allah.

 

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then awarded him with a posthumous title, announcing to the world, Hamzah is Sayed al Shuhada’ (the chief of martyrs).[4] The love of Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was so deeply embedded in the heart of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that when Wahshi the killer of Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu went to Allah’s Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in Madinah to accept the faith of Islam:

He saw him and said, “Is it you, Wahshi?”

He answered, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.”

He said, “If possible try not to come in front me.”

He accepted his declaration of faith and forgave him. The deep sorrow, however, had left a deep imprint on his heart which would not allow him to look at the one who had killed his dear uncle, Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[5]

 

Reflect, O reader of these passages. If someone had killed the one you held so dear and after some time came to accept your propagation, would you forget the tears of sorrow shed? Would you forget the pain of heart felt? Would you dare forgive? Subhan Allah, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forgave Wahshi radiya Llahu ‘anhu and accepted his Islam. It was simply human sentiment that he preferred him to stay out of sight and not re-open a wound barely healed.

From amongst the wonders of this brave warrior of Islam and by inclusion all the Companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is an incident mentioned by Sheikh Muhammad Al Sawwaf when a flood had uncovered some of the bodies of the martyrs of Uhud.

Sheikh Muhammad Al Sawwaf, one of the scholars who were chosen to rebury the martyrs of Uhud after the flood that uncovered the bodies, records that their bodies did not change, decompose, or rot even after 1400 years from their death. Sheikh Muhammad al Sawwaf said:

Among the bodies was that of Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu He was large man and his nose and ears were cut. His abdomen was ripped upon which his land lay. When we lifted his hand, blood gushed forth, with it the scent of musk.[6]

 

We ask of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala a blissful life, a martyr’s death, and the company of the Prophets. Amin.

 

NEXT⇒Safiyyah bint Abdul Muttalib


[1] Sirah Ibn Hisham, vol. 1 pg. 189.

[2] Surah Al ‘Imran: 128.

[3] Al Mustadrak li al Hakim, 4883. Hakim has classified this narration as authentic on the principles of Imam Muslim, though he hasn’t mentioned it in his book.

[4] Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, 4884. The narration has been recorded by Jabir radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Albani has deemed it as authentic. See al Sahihah, 348.

[5] See the full incident as Wahshi himself narrates it, Sahih al Bukhari, 3844.

[6] In one of his lecture series Dr. Tariq Suwaidan mentioned this incident, it however needs to be corroborated.