The life and martyrdom of Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam

If one were to scan through the annals of history, one would find the life stories of many great personalities. Men who influenced the lives of those around them, creating a new way of thinking and in all formed new ideologies. However, most of their lives have been tainted with stories of their greed, lust and hunger for power. As one continues to search through the books of our past, one would come to realise that the most influential people to have lived, were none other than the beloved companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam. Motivated by none other than Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam himself, their lives tell a tale of honesty, trustworthiness and the ultimate in self-sacrifice. Thus, their noble qualities and outstanding character effectively earned them the title of being the greatest group of people to have ever walked upon the face of the earth, after the ambiya’ `alayhimus salam. This is the biography of one such companion, Sayyiduna Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam radiya Llahu `anhu.

 

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The life and martyrdom of Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam

His full name was Abu `Abd Allah Zubayr ibn `Awwam ibn Khuwaylid ibn Asad ibn `Abd al-`Uzza ibn Qusayy ibn Kilab al-Qurashi al-Asadi.[1]

He shared a common ancestor with Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam Qusayy, and he was the disciple of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and the son of his paternal aunt. His mother was Safiyyah bint `Abd al-Muttalib. He was one of the ten whom Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam testified would be in paradise and one of the members of the consultative committee.[2]

He became Muslim when he was a young man, at the age of sixteen,[3] and he was tortured because of that. It was narrated that Zubayr’s paternal uncle used to roll him up in a mat and hang it up, and then he would light a fire underneath so that the smoke would reach him. His uncle would tell him to go back to disbelief, but Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu would say:

I will never go back to disbelief.[4]

He never missed any campaign that was led by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.[5]

 

The first one to unsheathe his sword for the sake of Allah

It was narrated that Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab said:

 

The first one to unsheathe his sword for the sake of Allah was Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam. While Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam was taking a nap, he heard someone shouting that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam had been killed, so he came out of his house unsheathing and brandishing his sword. He was met head-on by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam who said: “What is the matter, O Zubayr?” He said: “I heard that you had been killed.” Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: “What were you going to do?” He said: “By Allah, I was going to take revenge on all the people of Makkah.” Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam prayed for good for him.

 

Sa`id said:

I am certain that the Rasul’s prayer for him will not be overlooked by Allah.[6]

 

His migration to Abyssinia

When the persecution of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and Sahabah by Quraysh grew intense, he suggested to them that they should migrate to Abyssinia, where they could live under care of the Negus, the just king. They stayed with him in the best land and under the best care, and they remained there safe and secure until an Abyssinian man came to fight Negus for his kingdom. The Muslims grieved deeply; they were afraid that this new man would prevail and would not recognise the virtue and status of the pure Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum.

The Sahabah wanted to find out about the conflict that was taking place between the Negus and that man on the other side of the Nile.[7] Umm Salamah radiya Llahu `anha said:

 

The Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: “Who will go out to see the battle and bring back news?” Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam said: “I will.” They said: “You?”, because he was the youngest of the people. They inflated a water skin for him, and he put it under his chest; then he swam across until he reached that point of the Nile where the people had met (in battle). He continued until he reached them. Meanwhile we prayed to Allah to give Negus victory over his enemy and to establish him in his own country. By Allah, we were doing that, waiting for what might happen, when Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu came running, waving his garment and saying: “Be of good cheer. Negus has prevailed, and Allah has destroyed his enemies and established him in his land.”[8]

 

After Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu returned from Abyssinia to Makkah, he stayed under the care of the beloved Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam learning from him the principles, commands and prohibitions of Islam. When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam migrated to Madinah, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was among those who migrated there.

 

At the Battle of Badr

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was a courageous horseman and fearless hero. He did not stay behind from any military campaign; he was present on every campaign and at every battle. He possessed extraordinary courage, rare heroism, utter sincerity and devotion to making the word of truth reign supreme.[9]

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu sacrificed a great deal for the sake of Allah and dedicated his life and his wealth to Allah, so Allah honoured him and raised his status in this world and in the hereafter. It was narrated that `Urwah said:

On the day of Badr, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was wearing a yellow turban, and Jibra’il came down in the same dress as Zubayr.[10]

What a great virtue, which cannot be rivalled by all the adornments of this world.

It was narrated that Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said:

 

On the day of Badr, I met `Ubaydah ibn Sa`id ibn al-`As, who was so heavily armed that nothing could be seen except his eyes. He was known by the kunyah Abu Dhat al-Kursh. He said: “I am Abu Dhat d-Kursh.” I charged at him and stabbed him in the eye. I put my foot on him, then I pulled my spear out, and I had to use great force in order to pull it out, because both ends were bent. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam asked for the spear, and I gave it to him.

 

When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam passed away, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu took the spear back; then Abu Bakr radiya Llahu `anhu asked for it, and he gave it to him. When Abu Bakr radiya Llahu `anhu passed away, `Umar radiya Llahu `anhu asked for it, and he gave it to him. When `Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu was killed, it remained with the family of `Ali, radiya Llahu `anhu then `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu asked for it, and it was with him when he was killed.[11]

This report shows us the precision of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu in hitting the target. He was able to aim his spear at the eye of Abu Dhat al-Kursh, even though that space was very narrow and his attention divided between attacking and defending himself.

Killing that man was near impossible because he had protected his body with so much armour, but Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu managed to hit him in the eye, and that was the end of him. The wound was very deep, which is indicative of Zubayr’s radiya Llahu `anhu physical strength, in addition to his precision and skill in hitting the target.[12]

On the day of Badr, there were two knights of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam: Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam on the cavalry of the right flank and al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad on the cavalry of the left.[13]

 

At the battle of Uhud

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said:

On the day of Uhud, Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam mentioned both of his parents to me. (In other words, he said: “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you”).[14]

This indicates that he was skillful in fighting and strong during that battle. He radiya Llahu `anhu displayed great steadfastness, resolve and love of martyrdom for the sake of Allah. He described for us what Abu Dujanah al-Ansari did during that battle. When the two armies met and the fighting grew intense, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam began to encourage his Sahabah and boost their morale. He picked up a sword and said: “Who will take this from me?” They stretched out their hands, each man among them, including Zubayr, saying, “Me!” He said: ‘Who will take it and give it its due?’ The people withdrew their hands, but Simak ibn Kharashah Abu Dujanah said: “What is its due, O Rasul of Allah?” He said: “That you should strike the enemy with it until is bent.” He said: “I will take it and give it its due.” He gave it to him, and he was a courageous man who walked with pride in battle. When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam saw him walking with pride among the ranks, he said: “This is a way of walking that Allah hates except in this situation.”[15]

Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam described what Abu Dujanah did on the day of Uhud, saying:

 

I felt upset when I asked the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam for the sword and he withheld it from me, giving it to Abu Dujanah and not me. I decided that, by Allah, I would watch what Abu Dujanah did. I followed him, and he took out a red headband of his and wrapped it around his head. The Ansar said: “Abu Dujanah has taken out the headband of death (meaning that he wants to fight to the death).” He killed every person that he engaged in combat. Among the polytheists, there was a man who would not leave any wounded person without finishing him off. The two of them began to draw close to one another, and I prayed to Allah to bring them together. They met, and each dealt a blow to the other. The polytheist struck Abu Dujanah, who protected himself with his shield; the polytheist’s sword got stuck in the shield, and Abu Dujanah struck him and killed him. Then I saw him holding his sword over the head of Hind bint `Utbah, but he moved his sword away from her, and I said: “Allah and His Rasul know best.”[16]

 

Ibn Ishaq said:

Abu Dujanah said: “I saw someone urging the people on, so I charged at him and wielded my sword at him, and he screamed. Then I realised that it was a woman, and I respected the sword of the Rasul of Allah too much to strike a woman with it.”[17]

 

It was narrated from Hisham, from his father, that `A’ishah radiya Llahu `anha said:

O son of my sister, your forefathers – meaning Zubayr and Abu Bakr – were among:

اَلَّذِیْنَ اسْتَجَابُوْا لِلّٰهِ وَالرَّسُوْلِ مِنْۢ بَعْدِ مَآ اَصَابَهُمُ الْقَرْحُ

Those who answered (the Call of) Allah and the Rasul (Muhammad) after being wounded.[18]

 

When the polytheists left Uhud, and there befell Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and his Sahabah what befell them, Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam was worried lest the polytheists come back. He said:

Who will go out and follow the tracks of these people, so that they may know that we still have power?

 

Abu Bakr, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhuma and seventy others volunteered. They went out and followed the tracks of the polytheists, who left when they heard about them. Allah said:

فَانْقَلَبُوْا بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللهِ وَفَضْلٍ لَّمْ یَمْسَسْهُمْ سُوْءٌ

So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah. No harm touched them[19] (and they did not meet any enemy).[20]

 

When Hamzah ibn `Abd al-Muttalib radiya Llahu `anhu was martyred at Uhud, Umm Zubayr Safiyyah bint `Abd al-Muttalib came to look at her brother. He had been mutilated by the polytheists; they had cut off his nose, opened his belly and cut off his ears and genitals. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said to her son Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam:

Go and find her, and send her back, lest she see what has happened to her brother.

 

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said to her:

O my mother, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam is telling you to go back.

 

She said:

Why? We heard that my brother has been mutilated, but that was for the sake of Allah, so we are content with what has happened, and we will seek reward and be patient, Allah willing.

When Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu came to the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and told him that, he said: “Let her go.” So she went and looked at Hamzah radiya Llahu `anhu. She prayed for him and said: “Verily to Allah do we belong, and unto Him is our return.” She also prayed for forgiveness for him.[21]

 

According to another report from `Urwah, he said:

 

My father, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, told me that when the battle of Uhud took place, a woman came walking. When she was about to reach the place where they were, Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam did not want her to see them, so he said: “The woman! The woman!’’ Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said: “I thought she was my mother, Safiyyah, so I went out and rushed towards her. I caught up with her before she reached the slain, but she shoved me in the chest, and she was a strong woman. She said: “Get out of my way, and may you perish!” I said: “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam is insisting that you (should not see the dead).” She stopped and took out two pieces of cloth saying: “These are two pieces of cloth that I have brought for my brother Hamzah.” Beside him there was a man of the Ansar who had been killed, and the same had been done to him as had been to Hamzah. We did not think it was right to shroud Hamzah in two pieces of cloth when the Ansari did not have any shroud, so we said: “One cloth for Hamzah and one for the Ansari.” We measured them, and we found that one piece was larger than the other, so we cast lots between them, and we shrouded each one in the cloth that was picked for him.”[22]

 

During the Battle of the Trench: “Each Rasul has a disciple, and my disciple is Zubayr.”

The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said on the day of the Trench: “Who will bring me news of Banu Quraydhah?” Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said: “I will.” So he went on a horse and brought news of them. Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said that a second time and Zubayr said again: “I will.” The same thing happened a third time and Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: “Each Rasul has a disciple, and my disciple is Zubayr.”[23]

What is meant by his words “my disciple is Zubayr” is “the closest to me of my Sahabah and supporters”. The same Arabic word (hawari) is used to refer to the disciples or Sahabah of `Isa `alayh al-Salam those who were his inner circle and supporters. The helper or disciple is one who offers support and is a close companion. This hadith refers to this great virtue by which Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was distinguished. Hence when `Abd Allah ibn `Umar radiya Llahu `anhu heard a man saying:

I am the son of the disciple.

He said:

If you are one of sons of Zubayr, that is correct; otherwise it is not.[24]

 

In Umdat al-Qari fi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari by al-`Ayni, it says:

If you say: all of the Sahabah are supporters of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and close to him, so why is Zubayr singled out for this title? We would say: “He said this on the day of the Trench, when Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam asked: ‘Who will bring me news of the people?’ and Zubayr said: ‘I will.’ That happened three times, and undoubtedly on that occasion he offered more support than anyone else.”[25]

 

On the day of the Trench, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said to him:

May my father and mother be sacrificed for you.

 

It was narrated that `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said:

 

On the day of the Trench, `Umar ibn Abi Salamah and I were put in charge of the women. I looked and saw Zubayr on his horse, going through the area of Banu Quraydhah two or three times. When I went back, I said: O my father, I saw you going a few times.” He said: “Did you see me, O my son?” I said: “Yes.” He said: “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Who will go to Banu Quraydhah and bring me news of them?’ so I went out, and when I came back, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam mentioned me and his parents in the same sentence, saying: ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed for you.’”[26]

 

This hadith clearly indicates the virtue of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, because the words spoken by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam in, which he expressed his appreciation for his actions and the high esteem in which he held him, are only said to a person whom one respects and for whom one would sacrifice oneself or the dearest of one’s family.[27]

At the Battle of the Trench, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu earned an immortal badge of honour which will last until the end of time:

Each Rasul had a disciple, and my disciple is Zubayr.[28]

 

The Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam described Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu as a disciple, which has a profound and far reaching meaning. The one who studies this meaning will understand all the ramifications of this word disciple (hawari), and its secrets and depths. Those who are in greatest need of paying such attention to these meanings are the scholars, the callers to Islam and the educators. Islamic da`wah requires the preparation of helper’s and disciples who will present a living example, because a practical example is more powerful and effective in spreading principles and ideas.

It is an embodiment and practical implementation of those ideas that can easily be seen and followed, because true disciples follow the Sunnah of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and obey his commands.[29]

As it says in the hadith:

There is no Rasul whom Allah sent to any nation before me who did not have from among his nation helper’s and Sahabah who followed his way and obeyed his commands.[30]

 

It is the nature of things that the da`wah will go through trials and tribulations and be tested by means of both friends and enemies. Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam was keen to guide the Muslims with regard to these variables and developments, so he said:

Then there will come after them generations who say what they do not do and do what they do not believe.[31]

 

What is the mission of the disciple? Setting a good example of applied faith, sincerity and sacrifice are among the most prominent attributes of the disciples; thus they are a true example of the heirs of the messengers. They strive to spread the truth and goodness, to guide the ummah and to lead it out of its backwardness. They sacrifice everything precious for the sake of Allah, in order to bring back the vitality and radiance of Islam at time when those with little ambition do not care about anything but their personal interests.[32]

Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam radiya Llahu `anhu is a brilliant example of embodiment of these principles. He grew up in the lap of da`wah, under the care of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and received a proper education that enabled him to carry its burdens from an early age. Zubayr’s radiya Llahu `anhu attitude at the Battle of the Trench shows us his character and his upbringing in the qualities of courage, support and love of Rasul s salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.

History shows us that he was a man of difficult missions, imbued with qualities of courage and bravery, so he was given the mission of finding out enemy secrets. What happened to Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu indicates that it is prescribed to divide tasks among the people of da`wah according to their sincerity, spirit of sacrifice, talents and abilities.[33]

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu took part in all the campaigns of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and carried out honourable exploits. At the time of the Rightly Guided Khulafa’ radiya Llahu `anhum, he was one of the pillars of the state during the major conquests.

 

At the Battle of Yarmuk

It was narrated from `Urwah that the Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said to Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu on the day of Yarmuk: “Why do you not charge, and we will charge with you?” He said: “If I charge, you will let me down.” They said: “We will not do that.” So he charged at the enemy, penetrating their ranks passing through them, but there was no one with him. He came back, and they took hold of his reins and struck him twice on his shoulder, and one of them struck a wound that he had received on the day Badr. `Urwah said: “I used to put my fingers in those scars when I was small, playing with them.”

`Urwah also said: “`Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was with him that day, and he was ten years old. He put him on a horse and entrusted him to a man to look after him.”[34]

 

Al-Dhahabi said in al-Siyar, commenting:

This battle was al-Yamamah, Allah willing, because at that time `Abd Allah was ten years old.[35]

 

Ibn Kathir said that the battle was Yarmuk, but there is no reason why it could not have happened on both occasions.

Ibn Kathir said:

 

Among those who were present at Yarmuk was Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam radiya Llahu `anhu, who was the best of the Sahabah there; he was a brave and courageous knight. A number of heroes rallied around him on that day and said: “Why do you not attack, and we will attack with you?’ He said: “You will not be steadfast.” They said: “Yes, we will.” So he attacked, and they attacked, but they stopped when they were met by the Byzantine ranks. He went ahead and penetrated the Byzantine ranks until he came out the other side and returned to his Sahabah. Then they came to him again, and the same happened as had happened the first time. On that day, he received two wounds between his shoulders, and according to another report, he was injured.[36]

 

Ibn Kathir said on another occasion:

 

He went out with the people to Syria as a fighter of jihad; he was present at Yarmuk, and they were honoured by his presence. He performed brilliant acts of courage on that day, penetrating the Byzantine ranks twice from front to back.[37]

 

The conquest of Egypt

When `Amr ibn al-`As radiya Llahu `anhu went to conquer Egypt, he did not have sufficient forces, so he wrote to `Umar ibn al-Khattab radiya Llahu `anhu asking for support and reinforcements. `Umar radiya Llahu `anhu was worried about the small number of `Amr’s forces, so he sent Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam with twelve thousand men. It was also said that `Umar sent four thousand led by the great Sahabah Zubayr, al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, `Ubadah ibn al-Samit and Maslamah ibn Makhlad. (Other narrators said that Kharijah ibn Hudhafah was the fourth.) He wrote to `Amr:

I have sent to you four thousand men, each thousand of whom is led by a man who is equal to a thousand.

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was the leader of those men.[38]

When Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu reached `Amr, he found him besieging the fortress of Babylon. Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu quickly mounted his horse and went around the trench surrounding the fortress, then he spread his men out around the trench. The siege lasted for seven months, then Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was told that there was a plague inside it. He said:

We have come to stab and plague them.[39]

 

Conquest was slow for `Amr ibn al-`As radiya Llahu `anhu, so Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said:

I will offer myself for the sake of Allah hoping that Allah may grant victory thereby to the

Muslims.

 

He set up a ladder against the wall of the fortress, on the side of the market place of al-Hamam, and then he climbed up. He told them that when they heard his takbir, they should all respond. It was not long before Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was at the top of the fortress, shouting takbir wielding his sword. The people began to climb up the ladder until `Amr told them not to; for fear that the ladder might break. When the Byzantines saw that the Arabs had captured the fortress, they withdrew. The fortress of Babylon opened its gates to the Muslims thus ending a decisive battle in the conquest of Egypt. The rare courage of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was the direct cause of the Muslims’ victory over Muqawqis.[40]

 

The protective jealousy of Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam

It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr al-Siddiq radiya Llahu `anha said:

 

When I got married to Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, he owned nothing in this world apart from a camel for carrying water and a horse. I used to feed his horse, bring water, prepare his saddle and make dough, but I was not good at baking. Some women of the Ansar who were my neighbours used to bake my bread for me, and they were good women. I used to bring the dates from some land which the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam had given to Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, carrying them on my head. The land was two-thirds of a farsakh (approximately three miles) away. One day, I was corning with the dates on my head, and I met the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam with a group of the Ansar. He called me and made his camel kneel down so that I could ride behind him. But I felt too shy to go with the men, and I remembered Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu and how jealous he was, for he was the most jealous of men. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam realised that I felt too shy, so he went on his way. I came to Zubayr and told him: “I met the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam while I was carrying the dates on my head, and there was a group of his Sahabah with him. He made his camel kneel down so that I could ride on it, but I felt too shy, because I remembered your jealousy.” He said: “By Allah, your having to carry the dates is harder for me than you riding with him.” Later on, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu `anhu sent a servant who took care of the horse, and it was as if I had been set free from slavery.[41]

 

Zubayr named his sons after martyred Sahabah

Due to of Zubayr’s deep love of martyrdom, he named his sons after martyred Sahabah. Hisham ibn `Urwah narrated that his father said:

 

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said: “Talhah named his sons after ambiya’ when he learnt that there would be no Rasul after Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam. But, I named my children after martyrs, in the hope that they will attain martyrdom: `Abd Allah after Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, al-Mundhir after al-Mundhir ibn `Amr, `Urwah after `Urwah ibn Mas`ud, Hamzah after Hamzah, Ja`far after Ja`far ibn Abi Talib, Mus`ab after Mus`ab ibn `Umayr, `Ubaydah after `Ubaydah ibn al-Harith, Khalid after Khalid ibn Sa`id and `Amr after `Amr ibn Sa`id ibn al-`As, who was killed at Yarmuk.[42]

 

Zubayr concealing acts of worship

Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam radiya Llahu `anhu said:

If anyone can conceal any of these righteous deeds, let him do so.[43]

 

Poetry of Hassan ibn Thabit in praise of Zubayr

Zubayr passed by a gathering of the Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam where Hassan was reciting his poetry to them, but they were not listening attentively to him. Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu sat down with them, and then he said:

Why do I see you not listening attentively to the poetry of ibn al-Furay`ah? The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam used to listen attentively to him, reward him generously and not get distracted from him.

Then Hassan spoke in verse, praising Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu in many lines in which he described his great commitment to Islam, his adherence to the way of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and his sacrifice and service for Islam.[44]

Generosity of Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam

It was narrated that `Urwah ibn Zubayr said:

Seven of the Sahabah appointed Zubayr to be the guardian of their children after they died, including `Uthman, Ibn Mas`ud and `Abd al-Rahman. He would spend on the heirs from his own wealth and protect their wealth.[45]

This is an excellent example of generosity and sincerity that embodies noble ideals that will have a strong impression on the heart of every man of dignity. A person may show generosity time after time and then tire of it, but for this generous man to be in charge of spending on the heirs of many of the Sahabah and protecting their wealth is a unique example in real life and an indication of the sublime attitude that the Sahabah attained, may Allah be pleased with them.[46]

 

The time has come to depart … and the Rasul’s testimony of entering paradise

Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam radiya Llahu `anhu left the Battle of the Camel during the first round, for reasons that we have explained above. When he left the battlefield, he was repeating these lines of poetry:

Giving up on things that I fear may have bad consequences, for the sake of Allah, is better in both worldly and religious terms.

It was also said that he spoke the following lines of verse:

I know, and I hope that I will benefit from what I know, that life is very close to death.[47]

 

After he left, he was followed by `Amr ibn Jurmuz, Faddalah ibn Habis and Nafi`, along with a group of the evildoers of Banu Tamim. It was said that when they caught up with him, they ganged up on him and killed him; it was also said that the one who caught up with him was `Amr ibn Jurmuz. `Amr said to him: “I need something from you.” He said: “Come closer.” The freed slave of Zubayr, whose name was `Aytah said: “He has a weapon!” He said: “Even so.” So he came to him and started talking to him, and it was time for prayer, so Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said to him: “Let us pray.” He said: “Let us pray then.” Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu went forward to lead them both in prayer, and `Amr ibn Jurmuz stabbed him and killed him. It was also said that `Amr caught up with him while he was taking a nap in a valley that was known as Wadi al-Siba’, and he attacked and killed him there. This is the most well-known version, and the poetry of his wife `Atikah bint Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl testifies to that. She was the last of his wives; before him, she was married to `Umar ibn al-Khattab radiya Llahu `anhu, who left her a widow when he was killed. Before `Umar radiya Llahu `anhu, she was married to `Abd Allah ibn Abi Bakr al-Siddiq, who was also killed and left her a widow. When Zubayr was killed, she eulogised him in beautiful verse.[48]

When `Amr ibn Jurmuz killed Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, he cut off his head and brought it to `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu, thinking that this would bring him closer to him. He asked for permission to enter, and `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu said:

Give the killer of Safiyyah’s son (meaning Zubayr) the tidings of hell.

 

Then `Ali said:

I heard the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam say: “Each Rasul had a disciple, and my disciple is Zubayr.”[49]

 

When `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu saw the sword of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, he said:

How often this sword defended the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and brought cheer to him.[50]

 

According to another report, Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu refused to let ibn Jurmuz enter upon him, and he said:

Give the killer of Safiyyah’s son the tidings of hell.[51]

 

It was said that `Amr ibn Jurmuz killed himself during `Ali’s reign; it was also said that he lived until Mus`ab ibn Zubayr became governor of Iraq. He hid from him, and it was said to Mus`ab:

`Amr ibn Jurmuz is here and is in hiding. Do you want to capture him?

 

He said:

Let him show himself, for he is safe. By Allah, I am not going to kill him in retaliation for Zubayr, because he is too insignificant for me to make him equal to Zubayr.[52]

 

Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam foretold that Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu would die as a martyr. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam was once atop Mount Uhud when the mountain shook. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

Be still, for there is no one on you but a Rasul, a Siddiq and a martyr.

 

On top of the mountain were Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Talhah and Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhum.[53]

Al-Nawawi said:

 

This hadith represents one of the miracles of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, for he foretold that these people would be martyrs, and all of them, except Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu `anhu, died as martyrs. `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Talhah and Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhum were all killed unlawfully and died as martyrs. The deaths of the first three are well known. Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was killed in Wadi al-Siba’, near Basrah, as he was leaving the battlefield, not wanting to fight. Talhah also withdrew from the battle because he did not want to fight, but an arrow struck him and killed him. It is proven that whoever is killed unlawfully is a martyr.[54]

 

Al-Sha`bi said:

I met five hundred or more of the Sahabah who said: `Ali, `Uthman, Talhah and Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhum are in paradise.

Al-Dhahabi said:

 

I say: Because they are among the ten about whom it was testified that they would be in paradise; they were present at Badr, they were among the people who swore allegiance in the Pledge of Ridwan; and they were among the foremost to embrace Islam,[55] of whom Allah said that He is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. All four were killed and were granted martyrdom, so we love them and we hate the four who killed these four.[56]

 

Zubayr’s eagerness that his debts should be paid off when he died

It was narrated that `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said:

 

On the day of the Camel, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu left instructions that I was to pay off his debts. He said: “If you have any difficulty in doing so, then seek help from my Master.” By Allah, I did not understand what he meant until I said: “O my father, who is your Master?” He said: “Allah is my Master; I never had any difficulty paying a debt but I would say: ‘Master of Zubayr, pay it off on his behalf’ and He paid it off.” The debt that he owed was that a man would come to him and give him some wealth as a trust, but Zubayr would say: “No; rather it is a loan, for I fear that it may be lost.” When he was killed, he did not leave behind any dinars or dirhams, but he had a piece of land. I sold it and paid off his debts. The sons of Zubayr said: “Share out our inheritance.” I said: “By Allah, I will not share it out among you until I announce for four years during the hajj season: If anyone has a debt owed by Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, let him come to us so that we may pay it off.”

 

He made this announcement every year during the hajj season, and then when four years had passed, he shared it out among them. Zubayr had four wives, and each wife got 1,200,000. The total sum of his wealth was 50,200,000.[57]

The report of Bukhari is to be understood as referring to the total of his wealth at the time of his death, which is different from the surplus that was left four years later.[58]

There a great deal of blessing in his estate,[59] and Allah blessed his land after he died; his debt was paid off, and his wealth increased a great deal. From this story we learn a number of lessons:

a. Zubayr said to his son:

O my son, if you have any difficulty in doing so (paying off the debts), then seek help from my Master.

 

This is an example of his deeply-rooted certainty and strong faith that resulted from sincere trust in Allah and turning to Him to meet his needs and relieve his distress. The true believer firmly believes that everything is in the hands of Allah. If he finds himself in hardship and distress, the first thing that crosses his mind is Allah and how He dominates and controls everything.

Those created beings that may have some connection to his situation are also in the hands of Allah, their hearts are in His hand, and He directs them as He wills. So the believer turns to Allah before anyone else asks Him to meet his needs and relieve his distress. Then he follows the principle of cause and effect that Allah has made a means of reaching the desired results, while believing that they are no more than means and that the One Who does and decrees things is Allah. He radiya Llahu `anhu is able to cause the means to have no impact, so that they do not lead to the usual results.[60]

 

b. Was Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu a wealthy man? From the text above, we see that Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was not one of the wealthy who were known for their wealth. Instead, he felt a sense of hardship and was concerned about the trusts and debts that he owed; he was afraid that his land and property would not be sufficient to pay off all that he owed. This text also shows us that `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, like his father, was expecting that the debts would be more than the wealth and land. When his father asked him:

Do you think that what we owe will leave anything of our wealth?

 

`Abd Allah could not answer him. If he was expecting anything other than what his father was expecting, he would have given him an answer to put his mind at rest at this critical moment, to tell him that the matter was different from what he thought and was expecting; however, he went along with his father in his expectations. When Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu suggested seeking help from his Master, `Abd Allah asked: “Who is your Master?” expecting him to mention some individual whom he could ask for help. No one can claim that `Abd Allah was not aware of his father’s wealth or did not know about his property; because at that time `Abd Allah was thirty-five years old, and a man that old is a great help to his father and knows all about his situation and wealth, especially if he is the oldest son. Zubayr’s radiya Llahu `anhu question to his son: “Do you think that what we owe will leave anything of our wealth?” indicates that `Abd Allah was aware of his father’s situation and finances. Indeed, Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu stated that the matter of paying off the debts was not easy, as he said:

Allah is my Master; I never had any difficulty paying a debt but I would say: “O Master of Zubayr, pay it off on his behalf,’ and He paid it off.[61]

 

Another sign that Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was not regarded as one of the rich and wealthy, and that what he expected with regard to the amount of his debts in comparison to his wealth was correct, is the fact that Hakim ibn Hizam radiya Llahu `anhu, the paternal cousin of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, met `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu and said to him:

I do not think that you will be able to pay off all these debts. If you are unable to pay any of them, come to me for help.[62]

 

A fourth point is that `Abd Allah ibn Ja`far radiya Llahu `anhu, who was owed four hundred thousand by Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu, came to `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu and said: “If you wish, I will leave it for you.” `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu said: “No.” `Abd Allah ibn Ja`far radiya Llahu `anhu said: “Then if you wish, you may leave it and pay later than others.”[63]

This is testimony that two of the senior Sahabah expected that the property of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu would not be enough to pay off all the debts that he owed, and that they regarded him as one who needed help. Moreover, those two were close to Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu and aware of his situation. One of them was Hakim ibn Hizam radiya Llahu `anhu, Zubayr’s paternal cousin, the other was his maternal cousin, because the mother of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was Safiyyah bint `Abd al-Muttalib radiya Llahu `anha, the paternal aunt of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and he used to deal with him, giving and taking, borrowing and entrusting. These four points constitute evidence about which there is no doubt that Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu was not a wealthy man.[64]

There were many rumours about the wealth of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu and how rich he was, and there was a great deal of talk about his slaves and horses. In some sources, it says that he had a thousand slaves and that the thousand slaves used to pay him land tax every day, but that none of this wealth entered his house because he used to give it all in charity.[65]

The famous Orientalist Will Durant put the figure at ten thousand, saying:

Zubayr owned ten thousand slaves, and he added one thousand horses.[66]

Of course, this smart Orientalist omitted the part that says that he gave the land tax of his slaves in charity.[67]

This report cannot stand up to the report of Bukhari, in which it says:

When Zubayr was killed, he did not leave behind any dinar or dirham, but there was some land which included al-Ghabah eleven houses in Madinah, two houses in Basrah, a house in Kufah and a house in Egypt.[68]

 

The report is clear and states that he did not have anything except those properties, in the context of talking about the distress caused by debt and difficulties in seeking to pay it off.

If there were a thousand slaves, they would have been mentioned and their value estimated; was not one slave worth at least two thousand dirhams?[69]

In that case, the value of the slaves alone would have covered almost the entire debt, and that is if we assume that there were only one thousand. If we go along with the wild exaggeration of Will Durant, which suggests that there were ten thousand slaves, this would mean rejecting Bukhari’s report completely, because ten thousand slaves and thousand horses, even if their price was low, would have been enough to pay off his debts and drown his heirs in a sea of wealth.

Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu would not have needed to say to his son: “One of my greatest worries is my debt”; or to ask him: “Do you think that what we owe will leave anything of our wealth?” to instruct him: “If you have any difficulty in doing so (paying off the debts), then seek help from my Master.”[70]

Discussing the biographies of Zubayr, Talhah, `Amr ibn al-`As, Abu Musa al-Ash`ari and the Mother of the Believers `A’ishah radiya Llahu `anhum is in harmony with the aim of this book, which is to present the life and times of Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu `anhu. These individuals are focal points in his life and times, and their biographies have been distorted in history books and literary works that speak of internal conflict and turmoil.

It is essential to highlight their biographies, character and attitudes so that the reader will come away with correct knowledge and will not be influenced by weak reports or false that were fabricated by the Rafidi Shi`ah historians to distort the image of these noble characters. Talking about the biography of Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhu and other senior Sahabah who contributed to the events that took place during the lifetime of `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu is in harmony with the author’s aims and what he wants to convey in his study of the era of the Rightly Guided Khulafa’.

 

NEXT⇒Biography and martyrdom of Talhah ibn `Ubayd Allah

 

[1]al-Isabah, 1/526-528

[2]al-Ṭabaqat al-Kubra, 3/100; al-Isabah, 1/526-528

[3]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1/41

[4]  Al-Ṭabrani: al-Kabir, 11122

[5]Siyar al-Salaf, 1/226. The report is mursal.

[6]Fada’il al-Ṣahabah, 2/914, no. 1260. Its chain of narration is weak reliable because of corroborating evidence.

[7]  Ibn Hisham: as-Sirah, 1/279; Ashab ar-Rasul, 1/274

[8]  Ibn Hisham: as-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, 1/279

[9]  Riyad `Abd Allah: Ahl al-Shura’ al-Sittah, p. 67

[10]  Al-Ṭabrani: al-Kabir, no. 230 – its chain of narration is mursal sound; Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1/46

[11]Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, no. 3998

[12]Al-Tarikh al-Islami, 4/163

[13]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1/46; the report is mursal.

[14]Fada’il al-Ṣahabah, 2/918, no. 1267. Its chain of narration is sound.

[15]Muslim, Kitab Fada’il al-Ṣahabah, no. 2470

[16]al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, 4/18

[17]  ibid.

[18]  Surah, Āl Imran: 172

[19]  Surah, Āl Imran: 174

[20] Bukhari, no. 4077

[21]  Ibn Hisham: al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, 31108

[22]Musnad Ahmad, 3/34; al-Mawsu`ah al-Hadithiyyah. Its chain of narration is reliable.

[23]Muslim, no. 2414

[24]Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, no. 12219. Sound.

[25]‘Umdat al-Qari, 19/2239

[26]Bukhari, no. 3720

[27]Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 10/246

[28]Muslim, no. 2414

[29]Sahih Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi, 2/26, 27

[30]  Al-A`dhami, Dirasat Tarbawiyyah, p. 206

[31]Ṣahih. Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi, 2/26, 27

[32]Dirasat Tarbawiyyah fil-Ahadith an-Nabawiyyah, p. 207

[33]Dirasat Tarbawiyyah, p.208

[34]Bukhari, 3975

[35]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1/63

[36]Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, 1/63

[37]  op. cit., 7/260

[38] Futun Misr wa al-Maghrib, p. 61; Qa`dat Fath al-Sham wa Misr, p. 208-226

[39]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1/55

[40]Qa`dat Fath al-Sham wa Misr, p. 209-227. Muqawqis was the ruler of Egypt at that time. [Editor].

[41]Hayat al-Ṣahabah, 2/691; Ashab al-Rasul, 1128

[42]Tarikh al-Islam, `Ahd al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidin, p. 505; al-Ṭabaqat, 3/101

[43]  Ibn al-Mubarak: al-Zuhd, p. 392

[44]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1156, 57

[45]  op. cit., 11131

[46]al-Tarikh al-lslami, 17/131

[47]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1160

[48]al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, 7/261

[49]Fada’il al-Ṣahabah, 2/920

[50] al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, 7/261

[51]al-Ṭabaqat, 31105 – its chain of narration is reliable; `Abd al-Hamid: Khilafat `Ali, p. 164

[52]Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, 7/261

[53]Muslim, no. 2417

[54]Sharh. an-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 15/271

[55]  See at-Tawbah 9: 100

[56]Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, 1162

[57]Bukhari, no. 3129

[58]Shadharat al-Dhahab, 11209

[59]  Ibn Hajar: al-lsabah, 2/461

[60]At-Tarikh al-lslami, 20/309

[61] Bukhari, 3129

[62]  ibid.

[63]  ibid.

[64]  ‘Abdul-’Adhim ad-Dib: az-Zubayr ibn al-’Awwam, ath-Tharwah wath-Thawrah, p. 9

[65]Siyar as-Salaf as-Ṣalihin, 11227. There is some weakness in its chain of narration.

[66] az-Zubayr ibn al-’Awwam, ath-Tharwah ath-Thawrah, p. 11

[67]  op. cit., p. 13

[68] Bukhari, 3129

[69]az-Zubayr ibn al- ‘Awwam, ath- Tharwah wath- Thawrah, p. 14

[70]Bukhari, no. 312