Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu reported:
بعث النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خيلا قبل نجد فجاءت برجل من بني حنيفة يقال له ثمامة بن أثال فربطوه بسارية من سواري المسجد فخرج إليه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال ما عندك يا ثمامة فقال عندي خير يا محمد إن تقتلني تقتل ذا دم وإن تنعم تنعم على شاكر وإن كنت تريد المال فسل منه ما شئت فترك حتى كان الغد ثم قال له ما عندك يا ثمامة قال ما قلت لك إن تنعم تنعم على شاكر فتركه حتى كان بعد الغد فقال ما عندك يا ثمامة فقال عندي ما قلت لك فقال أطلقوا ثمامة فانطلق إلى نخل قريب من المسجد فاغتسل ثم دخل المسجد فقال أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا رسول الله يا محمد والله ما كان على الأرض وجه أبغض إلي من وجهك فقد أصبح وجهك أحب الوجوه إلي والله ما كان من دين أبغض إلي من دينك فأصبح دينك أحب الدين إلي والله ما كان من بلد أبغض إلي من بلدك فأصبح بلدك أحب البلاد إلي وإن خيلك أخذتني وأنا أريد العمرة فماذا ترى فبشره رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وأمره أن يعتمر فلما قدم مكة قال له قائل صبوت قال لا ولكن أسلمت مع محمد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولا والله لا يأتيكم من اليمامة حبة حنطة حتى يأذن فيها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent some cavalry towards Najd and they brought a man from the tribe of Banu Hanifah who was called Thumamah ibn Uthal. They fastened him to one of the pillars of the Masjid.
The Prophet went to him and said, “What have you got, O Thumamah?”
He replied, “I have got a good thought, O Muhammad! If you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody, and if you should set me free, you would do a favour to one who is grateful, and if you want wealth, then ask me whatever you want.”
He was left till the next day when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him, “What have you got, Thumamah?”
He said, “What I told you, i.e. if you set me free, you would do a favour to one who is grateful.”
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left him till the day after, when he said, “What have you got, O Thumamah?”
He said, “I have got what I told you.”
On that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Release Thumamah.”
So, he (i.e. Thumamah) went to a garden of date-palm trees near to the Masjid, took a bath and then entered the Masjid and said, “I testify that None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is His Apostle! By Allah, O Muhammad! There was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me. By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now it is the most beloved religion to me. By Allah, there was no city most disliked by me than your city, but now it is the most beloved city to me. Your cavalry arrested me as I was intending to perform the ‘Umrah. What should I do?”
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave him glad tidings and ordered him to perform ‘Umrah.
When he came to Makkah, someone said to him, “You have become a Sabi?”
Thumamah replied, “No! By Allah, I have embraced Islam with Muhammad, Apostle of Allah. By Allah! Not a single grain of wheat will come to you from Yamamah unless the Prophet gives his permission.”
Imam al Bukhari and Muslim have recorded this narration with the addition, “Thumamah ibn Uthal was the leader of the people of Yamamah.”
Commentary and Lessons Learnt from this Narration:
1. This narration has many great virtues of Thumamah ibn Uthal radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Amongst them are:
a. His acceptance of Islam at the hands of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in the Masjid of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
b. His sublime conduct, due to which Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam hoped he would accept Islam, and therefore set him free.
c. His Islam led to his people accepting Islam and his embargo a blow to the polytheists. The strength of his faith in Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in facing the disbelievers was second to none. It was him and his people who fought Musaylamah – The Liar – when he falsely proclaimed prophethood.
2. This narration holds high the status of the Banu Hanifah. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent a delegation to them primarily for their guidance. If the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not have high hopes of their acceptance, he would perhaps not have sent the cavalry. The outcome of this was that the leader and his people accepted Islam.
3. Similarly, the narration shows the virtue of the people of Najd.
4. The mercy in the heart of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for all of creation can be understood from this narration. He overlooked the faults of one who had fought against him. He treated him well and honoured him. This had such a profound effect on Thumamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he said the above-mentioned three statements regarding the face, religion, and city of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is a perfect example for those in positions of leadership.
5. The authority of releasing prisoners without a ransom lies with the Imam. He has the authority to free, ransom, kill, or enslave prisoners as he sees fit.
6. Those that call towards Islam should be gentle and soft hearted. This character is beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and produces desirable outcomes.
7. Permissibility of a polytheist entering a masjid, especially if there is a need for it.
Ibn al Mundhir says in al Awsat:
و اباحة دخول المسجد للمسلم الجنب الذي اخبر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم انه ليس بنجس اولى بذالك
The permissibility of a person in the state of impurity entering the masjid which Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam approved of attests to the permissibility of one entering who is not in that state.
The following narration of Sahih Muslim gives strength to this view:
عن عائشة قالت قال لي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ناوليني الخمرة من المسجد قالت فقلت إني حائض فقال إن حيضتك ليست في يدك
‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhu says, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to me, “Hand me the mat from the masjid.”
I said, “I am menstruating.”
Upon this he remarked, “Your menstruation is not in your hand.”
Both the above-mentioned quotations indicate to the following verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا لَا تَقْرَبُوْا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوْا مَا تَقُوْلُوْنَ وَلَا جُنُبًا إِلَّا عَابِرِيْ سَبِيْلٍ
O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying or in a state of janabah, except those passing through [a place of prayer].
This verse would then be a law of encouragement not one of compulsion as some scholars have opined.
8. This narration establishes the desirability of bathing after one accepts Islam.
9. The greatest act that can affect change and bring about a change of heart is salah. The recitation therein, its postures, laws, and wisdom leave a deep impression on one’s heart. This narration depicts the power of salah, a pillar of Islam, as a means of da’wah.
10. The permissibility of holding a sinful individual in the Masjid. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam restricted a polytheist to the Masjid which had a profound effect on him, leading to his embracing Islam. A sinful believer would no doubt benefit and take effect from such a stay. Imam al Bukhari rahimahu Llah has instituted a chapter regarding this.
11. The permissibility of punishing through acts of worship. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kept him in the masjid and not elsewhere.
12. Ibn Hibban says, “This shows the permissibility of trading, by pious people, with lands that are at war with us.”
13. ‘Earning of men is better than the earning of wealth.’ The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were eager to free prisoners in lieu of a ransom thereby attaining wealth which would be put to good use. The narration of Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzaq records them saying, “What would we gain by killing them.” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam however, had a much further reaching objective in mind. Thumamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted Islam, brought his people into the fold of Islam, was steadfast through the days of apostasy, and fought against the enemies of Islam.
14. Doing good to others removes hatred and brings about love. The greater the evil one has done to another the greater the good that will be recorded for him.
15. The desirability of being kind to a prisoner especially if it is hoped that he will accept Islam. This and other narrations depict the balanced outlook of Islam even when it comes to prisoners. This is a far cry from the inhumane practices carried out against Muslims imprisoned by enemies of Islam in today’s time.
 This word was used to refer to those that became Muslim.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 411
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 298.
 Surah al Nisa’: 43.Back to top