Usamah ibn Zaid

Male Sahabah of African Origin – Bilal ibn Rabah
May 20, 2019
Salim Mawla Abi Hudhayfah
May 20, 2019

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Usamah ibn Zaid

 

During the final days of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, on the 26th of Safar 11 A.H, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mobilised an army to head in the direction of Syria at Ubna, the place where the Battle of Mu’tah had taken place against the Christian Arabs and Byzantines.[1] The army was to confront the greatest superpower on earth at the time, the mighty Roman Empire. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave clear orders to have the horses of the Muslims tread on the lands bordering al Balqa’ and al Darum of Palestine. His plan was clearly aimed at shaking the position of Byzantium in the minds of the Arabs, after which the Muslim troops could set out to conquer those lands as well as to implant confidence into the hearts of the Arabs who were settled at the borders of the Byzantines. Who did Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam select as commander-in-chief to head this formidable mission? “Go to the place where your father was slain and let your horses trample them, for I have appointed you in charge of this army,” he told Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma,[2] An African lad around 20 years of age, the beloved, son of the beloved.

Some had reservations about the appointment of Sayyidina Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma as the army general and the talk of this reached the ears of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Notwithstanding his illness, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came out to clarify the matter. He announced, “If you criticise his command, then you also criticised the command of his father before him. Yes by Allah, he (Zaid) was qualified to lead, and he was one of the dearest of people to me, and this lad is one of the dearest of people to me after him.”[3] That is why, he is referred to as, the beloved, son of the beloved.

Loving Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is a cornerstone of our faith. Being loved by him is the aspiration of every lover. Expressing your love for him is intrinsic. He expressing his love for you is exceptional.

What salient qualities and envious characteristics this lad must have possessed for Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to appoint him the leader of the last expedition he mobilised. What prayers and supplications of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam he secured by accepting his mission.

The army began their preparations and stayed at Jurf (located 3 miles from Madinah in the direction of Syria). However, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed on before the army could set out. To Allah do we belong and to Him is our return.

The situation changed with the passing of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Some of the Companions felt that the army should be kept in Madinah for the city’s protection. Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the other hand was determined to despatch this army and fulfil the decisive directive of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. “By the one in whose hand is the soul of Abu Bakr, even if I thought that wild animals would snatch me, I would still send the army of Usamah as instructed by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Even if there were no one left in the city but me, I would still send him.”[4]

The determination of Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was spot on because it was the emphatic command of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the subsequent events proved him to be right. The second issue that arose was that the Ansar wanted a commander-in-chief who was older than Usamah so they sent Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu to talk to Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu about this. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu countered, “The Messenger of Allah appointed him and you are telling me to dismiss him!” So the decision was definite. An African lad will lead the first campaign after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam against the superpower of the time.

Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu walked with the army, advising them, and then instructed Usamah, “Do what Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded you. Start with the land of Quda’ah, then go to Abil. Do not fall short in anything that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instructed you to do and do not be hasty in carrying out his commands.”[5] Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu set out with his army and did just as Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam directed him. He returned safely and victoriously after forty days, bringing booty with him.[6]

News of the death of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Usamah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu raid on some of his territory reached Heraclius at the same time. The Romans and the Christian Arabs were impressed and intimidated by this tactical move of the Muslims, their determination to fight despite the death of their Messenger. Thus, the Romans refrained from much of what they intended to do.[7]

This mission served as a launch pad for further conquests and invasions into the lands of the Romans. It all began with the efforts of a young African man. The first military expedition after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was led by this young African man. The appointment of Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as commander-in-chief, along with plenty other wisdoms, was to establish that this religion is not reserved for a particular nation or colour, but rather, it is for the entire world, all colours and races included. Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam idea was to promote Islam as a religion for all and sundry.

This was not the first time Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam displayed this affection to this young man and pronounced to the world the equality of all colours and races. Two and a half years before this, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had entered Makkah al Mukarramah, triumphantly, with no one sharing his riding animal besides the same young lad, Sayyidina Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.[8] The son of a freed slave, not one of the children of Hashim or one of the nobles of the Quraysh. That action alone symbolised the justice and equality that were going to be integral parts of the new system of law in Makkah.[9]

It does not end there, when Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam entered the most sacred structure on earth, the House of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, the Ka’bah, he took along Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[10] He is one of three to enjoy this privilege. These are few of the privileges this young man enjoyed which each one of us yearn and long for.

Sayyidina Abu Muhammad (it is said: Abu Zaid) Usamah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu life began in Islam. Nurtured by his parents, Sayyidina Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhu—the adopted son of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and an individual promised Jannat by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam—and Sayyidah Umm Ayman radiya Llahu ‘anha, who Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would refer to as his mother;[11] Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu obtained an excellent upbringing in Islam by his parents. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam promises that one of the seven categories to be accommodated under the shade of Allah’s subhanahu wa ta ‘ala Throne on the Day of Qiyamah is the youth that was nurtured in the worship of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.[12]

This extraordinary fortune actually commenced with a distressing event. During the period of Jahiliyyah, horsemen from the Banu Qayn attacked the dwellings of the Banu Ma’n and took his father, Sayyidina Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was just a child at the time. They took him to the market of ‘Ikaz and presented him for sale. Sayyidina Hakim ibn Hizam radiya Llahu ‘anhu purchased him for 400 dirhams for his aunt, Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, who gifted him to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam after marriage. Before Islam, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam adopted him and got him married to his freed slave girl, Sayyidah Umm Ayman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. And this union bore this loveable fruit.

He spent his time in the company of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from a young age and became beloved to the Beloved of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. He was commonly referred to as Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam beloved.[13] Beloved of the beloved of Allah, and beloved son of the beloved. Fortunate was he indeed.

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam further encouraged his favourite wife, Sayyidina ‘Aʾishah radiya Llahu ‘anha, “O ‘Aʾishah, love him for certainly I love him.”[14] Sayyidah ‘Aʾishah radiya Llahu ‘anha would say, “It does behove anyone to hate Usamah after what I heard Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam declaring, ‘Whoever loves Allah and His Messenger should love Usamah.’”[15] Sayyidina Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu would recall the joyful days when he played in the lap of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who would hold him and Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and pray, “O Allah, I indeed love them so You love them too.”[16]

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam only loved that which was pure. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself advised the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in particular and the ummah in general to treat Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu well, enlightening, “For indeed he is among the best of you.”[17] What a weighty testimony indeed.

And the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum did just that. Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu favoured a stipend of 3500 to Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma while he granted his own son, ‘Abdullah, with only 3000. Upon which ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma enquired the reason for this preferential treatment, despite his precedence in battles; Sayyidina ‘Umar explained, “Because Zaid was more beloved to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than your father, and Usamah was more beloved to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than you. So I gave preference to the beloved of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam over my beloved.”[18]

He had drunk deep from the well of Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam knowledge. Eminent Companions like Sayyidina Abu Hurairah and Sayyidina Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhum learnt ahadith from him. Senior Tabi’in; Abu ‘Uthman al Nahdi, Abu Wa’il, and others transmitted narrations from him.[19]

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also appreciated his views and had reliance on his intelligence. When his dearly loved wife, Sayyidina ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was slandered, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam consulted with few people regarding the way forward prior to the verses of Surah al Nur being revealed. One of these persons was Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu who spoke about the good reputation of Sayyidina ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and recommended, “O Allah’s Messenger! Keep your wife, for by Allah, we know nothing about her but good.”[20] His counsel was a hundred percent in harmony with the subsequent revelation by the Knower of the Unseen subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.

His valour and heroism can be realised from the details of the Battle of Hunayn. When confusion abounded and warriors sought to escape the rage of the battle, Sayyidina Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma―a teenager at the time―was one of the few to remain steadfast around Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and continued fighting till the Muslims were triumphant.[21]

This African lad was extremely dark in complexion,[22] but his heart was pure, brimming with faith, and his body was an embodiment of salient qualities. The purity and beautification of the internal is vital. Through it, does one become the beloved of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and the beloved of His creation.

His father, Sayyidina Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu, on the other hand, had a fair complexion.[23] Due the diversity of colour between father and son, the kuffar would taunt their lineage. Once, Mujazzaz al Mudallaji­―a master of lineage and ancestry and one who could tell lineage by looking at the limbs of a person―saw Usamah and Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma covered in a shawl; they had covered their heads but their feet were exposed. He deduced by just looking at their feet, “Indeed, these feet; some are of the other.”[24] This statement brought happiness to the heart of our Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he walked cheerfully and gleefully into the house of Sayyidah ‘Aʾishah radiya Llahu ‘anha and narrated what had just happened, having conviction that this would stop the polytheists from criticising his beloveds due to the polytheists’ faith in Mujazzaz al Mudallaji.[25]

After the martyrdom of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, when the strife between the Muslims began, he sheathed his sword and laid down his weapons. Despite his fearlessness, Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu chose to remain detached from the civil rivalry. An insightful lesson he had learnt was never going to slip his mind: Never kill a believer!

It was at some stage in the life of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, while on an expedition during his juvenile days, Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his battalion attacked al Huraqah, a tribe of Juhaynah, in the early hours of the morning and defeated them. He and another Ansari caught hold of a person of the tribe, who proclaimed, “There is no deity but Allah.” Hearing these words, the Ansari backed off, but Sayyidina Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu attacked the man with his spear and took his life. When he returned, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him, “Usamah, did you kill him after he had made the profession: There is no deity but Allah?” “He did it only as a shelter,” Usamah clarified. But Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam continued repeating his question until he wished he had not embraced Islam before that day, he lamented.[26]

This weighty lesson kept him away from the strife. He thus passed his days in Mizzah in Damascus. Thereafter, he returned and stayed in Wadi al Qura and finally settled in Madinah. Towards the latter part of Sayyidina Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu caliphate in the year 54 A.H, he passed away after reaching the age of 60 in Jurf. His body was then taken to Madinah for burial.

Amazing is the system of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. The exact place where his army camped during the final days of Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam life was where he spent his last moments. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala be pleased with him and make him happy.

 

NEXT⇒ Salim Mawla Abi Hudhayfah


[1]Sirat al Mustafa, vol. 3 pg. 159.

[2]Abu Bakr al Siddiq, His Life & Times, pg. 283, 284; Fath al Bari, vol. 8 pg. 152.

[3]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 552.

[4]Abu Bakr al Siddiq, His Life & Times, pg. 288 – 290; Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 45.

[5]Abu Bakr al Siddiq, His Life & Times, pg. 291; Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 47.

[6]Abu Bakr al Siddiq, His Life & Times, pg. 291; Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 47; Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, pg. 101.

[7]Abu Bakr al Siddiq, His Life & Times, pg. 291, 292; Tarikh al Islam, pg. 20; al Kamil fi al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 227.

[8]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 4289; Sirat al Mustafa, vol. 3 pg. 36.

[9]The Noble Life of the Prophet, vol. 3 pg. 1704.

[10]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 483; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 3071.

[11] ‘Umdat al Qari, vol. 16 pg. 323.

[12]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 504; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2248.

[13]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 6788; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1688.

[14] Jami’ al Tirmidhi, Hadith: 3818; Sahih Ibn Hibban, Hadith 7058. Grade: Hassan.

[15]Musnad Ahmed, Hadith: 25273; Fadaʾil al Sahabah, Hadith 1527. Grade: Sahih li Ghayrihi.

[16]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 3747.

[17]Musnad Ahmed, Hadith: 5848. Grade: Sahih.

[18]Jami’ al Tirmidhi, Hadith: 4183.

[19]Tanwir al Ghabash, pg. 131.

[20]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 829.

[21]Musnad Ahmed, Hadith: 15069. Grade: Hassan.

[22]Fath al Bari, vol. 3 pg. 990.

[23]Fath al Bari, vol. 3 pg. 990.

[24]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 6770; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1459.

[25]Fath al Bari, vol. 3 pg. 990.

[26]Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 568; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 177.

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