Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
جاء العاقب والسيد صاحبا نجران إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يريدان أن يلاعناه قال فقال أحدهما لصاحبه لا تفعل فوالله لئن كان نبيا فلاعنا لا نفلح نحن ولا عقبنا من بعدنا قالا إنا نعطيك ما سألتنا وابعث معنا رجلا أمينا ولا تبعث معنا إلا أمينا فقال لأبعثن معكم رجلا أمينا حق أمين فاستشرف له أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال قم يا أبا عبيدة بن الجراح فلما قام قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم هذا أمين هذه الأمة
Al ‘Aqib and Sayed, the rulers of Najran, came to Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with the intention of doing Li’an (Mubahalah: invoking a prayer curse) one of them said to the other, “Do not do (this mubahalah) for, by Allah, if he is a Prophet and we do this Li’an, neither we, nor our offspring after us will be successful.”
Then both said to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “We will give what you should ask but you should send a trustworthy man with us, and do not send any person with us but an honest one.”
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “I will send an honest, trustworthy man who is trustworthy in every sense.”
The Companions of Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam all wished to be that one.
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the said, “Rise, O Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah.”
When he got up, Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “This is the trustworthy man of this ummah.”
Commentary and Lessons Learnt from this Narration:
1. There lay great virtue for Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu in this narration; specifying him as the trustworthy one of this ummah. Imam Abu Hafs ibn Shahin says, “This virtue is specific to Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
2. The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum understood the great virtue of this title which resulted in them all wishing for it even though the traditions are many and successive in discouraging wishing for positions.
Imam Ahmed and Ibn Abi-Shaybah have recorded the statement of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu after the passing of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
هلم أبايعك ، فإني سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، يقول لك : أنت أمين هذه الأمة . فقال أبو عبيدة : ما كنت أفعل أن أصلي بين يدي رجل أمره علينا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فأمنا حتى قبض
Come, I will pledge allegiance to you as I have heard Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say, “You are the trustworthy one of this ummah.”
Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “I refuse to lead the one Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam placed in front of us and lead us till he passed away.”
Another narration depicts Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu turning to the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and saying:
بايعوا عمر أو أبا عبيدة
Take the pledge at hands of either ‘Umar or Abu ‘Ubaidah.
Al Hakim has recorded the following statement of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
لو أدركت أبا عبيدة بن الجراح لاستخلفته وما شاورت ، فإن سئلت عنه قلت : استخلفت أمين الله وأمين رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم
If Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah was alive I would have made him my successor to the khilafah without consultation. If I were asked regarding my decision I would say, “I have left as my successor the trustworthy one of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and his Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”
Imam Muslim has recorded the following question posed to ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and her answer:
من كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مستخلفا لو استخلف ؟ قالت : “ أبو بكر “ . ثم قيل لها : من بعد أبي بكر ، قالت : “ عمر “ . ، ثم قيل لها : من بعد عمر ؟ ، قالت : “ أبو عبيدة بن الجراح “ . ثم انتهت
She was asked, “Who would have Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed as his successor if he had done so?”
She replied, “Abu Bakr.”
“Who after him?” she was asked.
“‘Umar,” she replied.
She was then asked, “Who after ‘Umar?”
She said, “Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah.”
3. This narration teaches us to send the most honest, trustworthy, and just men to deal with other nations. All these characteristics are found within this giant; Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It is no wonder that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to those around him after they all presented their wishes and desires:
لكني أتمنى بيتاً ممتلئاً رجالا مثل أبي عبيدة ين الجراح
But oh! I wish for rooms filled with men like Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah.
4. Question: Why did Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam single out Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu with this outstanding quality whereas the other Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum too were trustworthy?
Answer: Imam al Nawawi and others have said that he excelled in this quality above all others to the extent that it became his salient feature.
5. The permissibility of wishing for virtue if the intent is sincere. The intent of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum was undoubtedly pure, not tainted by desire of being entrusted with leadership. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is reported to have said, “I have not ever desired a position, except on one occasion.” He then mentioned the above incident and said, “I had hoped this title be given to me, then Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, ‘Stand O Abu ‘Ubaidah.’”
6. This narration praises the trait of trust and a trustworthy man. Trustworthiness is of the most sublime characteristics. When it is instilled in people it promotes a peaceful society, on the other hand when trust erodes, it promotes evil and signals the close advent of Qiyamah as mentioned in the hadith.
7. If an occasion of mubahalah occurs, it should be undertaken by the pious people of the Ahlul Bayt or the great scholars.
8. Hafiz ibn al Hajar rahimahu Llah writes in Fath al Bari, “Experience has shown that whoever undertakes the act of mubahalah whilst on falsehood, will not remain for more than a year before perishing. I myself have done so with a radical atheist, he did not live for two months thereafter.”
9. Enacting treaties and placing taxes is by the view of the Imam. He will do so as he deems appropriate for the present and future on the different trades and wealth.
10. Dispatching trustworthy ambassadors forms part of the responsibilities of the Imam.
11. Whenever the ummah will strengthen its call of da’wah it will be at the fore with all others bowing before it. However, when the ummah becomes lax in their duties of da’wah it will fall and become weak.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 4119.
 See also, Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, Hadith: 5135.
 Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, Hadith: 5122.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2385.
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 25 pg. 474.Back to top