Musab Ibn Umayr (radiallāhu`anhu)
In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
Musab Ibn Umayr was born and grew up blessed with affluence and luxury. His rich parents lavished a great deal of care and attention on him. He wore the most expensive clothes and the most stylish shoes of his time. The Yemeni shoes were then considered to be very elegant and it was his privilege to have the very best of these. As a youth he was admired by the Quraish not only for his good looks and style but for his intelligence. His elegant bearing and keen mind endeared him to the Makkan nobility among whom he moved with ease.
Although still young, he had the privilege of attending Quraish meetings and gatherings. He was thus in a position to know the issues which concerned the Makkans and what their attitudes and strategies were. Among Makkans there was a sudden outburst of excitement and concern as Muhammad Ibn Abdullāh, popularly known as Al-Amīn (The Trustworthy), emerged claiming that God had sent him as a bearer of good tidings and as a warner. He warned the Quraish of terrible chastisement if they did not turn to the worship and be obedience of God and he spoke of Divine rewards for the righteous.
The whole of Makkah was buzzed with talk of these claims. The vulnerable Quraish leaders thought of ways of silencing Muhammad. When ridicule and persuasion did not work, they embarked on a campaign of harassment and persecution.
Musab Ibn Umayr learnt that Muhammad and those who believed in his message were gathering in a house near the hill of As-Safa to evade Quraish harassment. This was the house of Al-Arqam. To satisfy his curiosity, Musab proceeded to the house undeterred by the know ledge of Quraish hostility. There he met the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) was teaching his small band of companions, reciting the verses of the Qurān to them and performing Solāt with them in submission to God, the Great, the Most High.
The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) welcomed him, and with his noble hand tenderly touched Musab's heart as it throbbed with excitement. A deep feeling of tranquility came over him. Musab was totally overwhelmed by what he had seen and heard. The words of the Qurān had made a deep and immediate impression on him.
In this first meeting with the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam), the young and decisive Musab declared his acceptance of Islam.
It was a historic moment in his life. The keen mind of Musab, his tenacious will and determination, his eloquence and his beautiful character were now in the service of Islam and would help change the course of men's destinies and of history.
On accepting Islām, Musab had one major concern his mother. Her name was Khunnas Binti Mālik. She was a woman of extraordinary power. She had a dominant personality and could easily arouse fear and terror. When Musab became a Muslim, the only power on earth he might have feared was his mother. All the powerful nobles of Makkah and their attachment to pagan customs and traditions were of little consequence to him. Having his mother as an opponent, however, could not be taken lightly.
Musab thought quickly. He decided that he should conceal his acceptance of Islām until such time as a solution should come from God. He continued to frequent the House of Al-Arqam and sit in the company of the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam)). He felt serene in his new faith and by keeping all indications of his acceptance of Islām away from her; he managed to stave off his mother's wrath, but not for long. It was difficult during those days to keep anything secret in Makkah for long. The eyes and ears of the Quraish were on every road. Behind of every footstep imprinted in the soft and burning sand was a Quraish informer.
Before long, Musab was seen as he quietly entered the House of al-Arqam, by someone called Uthman Ibn Talhah. At another time, Uthman (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) Musab performing solāt in the same manner as Muhammad did. The conclusion was obvious. The devastating news of Musab's acceptance of Islām spread among the Quraish and eventually reached his mother.
Musab stood before his mother, his clan and the Quraish nobility who had all gathered to find out what he had done and what he had to say for himself. With a certain humility and calm confidence, Musab acknowledged that he had become a Muslim and no doubt he explained his reasons for so doing. He then recited some verses of the Quran - verses which had cleansed the hearts of the believers and brought them back to the natural religion of God. Though only few in number, their hearts were now filled with wisdom, honor, justice and courage.
As Musab's mother listened to her son on whom she had lavished so much care and affection, she became increasingly incensed. She felt like silencing him with one terrible blow. But the hand which shot out like an arrow staggered and faltered before the light which radiated from Musab's serene face.
Perhaps, it was her mother's love which restrained her from actually beating him, but still she felt she had to do something to avenge the gods which her son had forsaken. The solution she decided upon was far worse for Musab than a few blows could ever have been. She had Musab taken to a far corner of the house. There he was firmly bound and tethered. He had become a prisoner in his own home. For a long time, Musab remained tied and confined under the watchful eyes of guards whom his mother had placed over him to prevent him from any further contact with Prophet Muhammad (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) and his faith.
Despite his ordeal, Musab did not waver. He must have had news of how other Muslims were being harassed and tortured by the idolaters. For him, as for many other Muslims, life in Makkah was becoming more and more intolerable.
Eventually he heard that a group of Muslims were preparing secretly to migrate to Abyssinia to seek refuge and relief. His immediate thoughts were how to escape from his prison and join them. At the first opportunity, when his mother and his warders were off-guard, he managed to slip away quietly. Then with utmost haste he joined the other refugees and before long they sailed together across the Red Sea to Africa.
Although the Muslims enjoyed peace and security in the land of the Negus, they longed to be in Makkah in the company of the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam). So when a report reached Abyssinia that the conditions of the Muslims in Makkah had improved, Musab was among the first to return to Makkah. The report was in fact false and Musab once again left for Abyssinia.
Whether he was in Makkah or Abyssinia, Musab remained strong in his new faith and his main concern was to make his life worthy of his Creator. When Musab returned to Makkah again, his mother made a last attempt to gain control of him and threatened to have him tied up again and confined. Musab swore that if she were to do that, he would kill everyone who helped her. She knew very well that he would carry out this threat for she saw the iron determination he now had. Separation was inevitable. When the moment came, it was sad for both mother and son but it revealed a strong Persistence in kufur on the part of the mother and an even greater persistence in iman on the part of the son. As she threw him out of her house and cut him off from all the material comforts she used to lavish on him, she said:
"Go to your own business. I am not prepared to be a mother to you."
Musab went up close to her and said: "Mother, I advise you sincerely. I am concerned about you. Do testify that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger."
"I swear by the shooting stars, I shall not enter your religion even if my opinion is ridiculed and my mind becomes impotent," she insisted.
Musab thus left her home and the luxury and comforts he used to enjoy. The elegant, well-dressed youth would henceforth be seen only in the coarsest of attire. He now had more important concerns. He was determined to use his talents and energies in acquiring knowledge and in serving Allāh and His Prophet.
Several years later, Musab came upon a gathering of Muslims sitting around the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam). They bowed their heads and lowered their gaze when they saw Musab, and some were even moved to tears. This was because his Jalbab was old and in tatters and they were immediately taken back to the days before his acceptance of Islām when he was a model of sartorial elegance.
The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) looked at Musab, smiled gracefully and said: "I have seen this Musab with his parents in Makkah. They lavished the care and attention on him and gave him all comforts. There was no Quraish youth like him. Then he left all that seeking the pleasure of God and devoting himself to the service of His Prophet."
The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) then went on to say: "There will come a time when God will grant you victory over Persia and Byzantium. You would have one dress in the morning and another in the evening and you would eat out of one dish in the morning and another in the evening."
In other words, the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) predicted that the Muslims would become rich and powerful and that they would have material goods in plenty. The companions sitting around asked the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam):
"O Messenger of Allāh, are we in a better situation in these times or would we be better off then?"
He replied: "You are rather better off now than you would be then. If you knew of the world what I know you would certainly not be so much concerned with it."
On another occasion, the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) talked in a similar vein to his companions and asked them how they would be if they could have one suit of clothes in the morning and another in the evening and even has enough material to put curtains in their houses just as the Ka’bah was fully covered. The companions replied that they would then be in a better situation because they would then have sufficient sustenance and would be free for ibadah (worship). The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) however told them that they were indeed better off as they were.
After about ten years of inviting people to Islām, most of Makkah still remained hostile. The noble Prophet then went to Taif seeking new adherents to the faith. He was repulsed and chased out of the city. The future of Islam looked bleak.
It was just after this that the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) chose Musab Ibn Umayr to be his "ambassador" to Yathrib to teach a small group of believers who had come to Makkah, that was known as the First Pledge of Aqabah, to pledge allegiance Islām and prepare Madinah for the day of the great Hijrah. Musab was chosen above companions who were older than he or were more closely related to the Prophet or who appeared to possess greater prestige. No doubt Musab was chosen for this task because of his noble character, his fine manners and his sharp intellect. His knowledge of the Qurān and his ability to recite it beautifully and movingly was also an important consideration. Musab understood his mission well. He knew that he was on a sacred mission, to invite people to God and the straight path of Islām and to prepare what was to be the territorial base for the young and struggling Muslim community.
Musab entered Madinah as a guest of Sa’ad Ibn Zurarah of the Khazraj tribe. Together they went to people, to their homes and their gatherings, telling them about the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam), explaining Islām to them and reciting the Qurān. Through the grace of Allāh, many Yathribites accepted Islam. This was especially pleasing to Musab but profoundly alarming to many leaders of Yathribites society.
Once Musab and Sa’ad were sitting near a well in an orchard of the Zafar clan. With them were a number of new Muslims and others who were interested in Islām. A powerful notable of the city, Usaid Ibn Khudair, came up brandishing a spear. He was livid with rage. Sa’ad Ibn Zurarah saw him and told Musab: "This is a chieftain of his people. May God place truth in his heart." "If he sits down, I will speak to him," replied Musab, displaying all the calm and tact of a great Daie.
The angry Usaid shouted abuse and threatened Musab and his host. "Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive."
Musab smiled a warm and friendly smile and said to Usaid: "Won't you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission accept it and if you dislike it we would stop telling you what you dislike and leave."
"That's reasonable," said Usaid and, sticking his spear in the ground, sat down.
Musab was not compelling him to do anything. He was not denouncing him. He was merely inviting him to listen. If he was satisfied, well and good. If not, then Musab would leave his district and his clan without any fuss and go to another district. Musab began telling him about Islām and recited the Qurān to him.
It was even before Usaid spoke, it was clear from his face, now radiant and expectant, that faith had entered his heart. He said: "How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion?"
"Have a bath; purify yourself and your clothes. Then utter the testimony of Truth (Shahadah), and perform Solāt.
Usaid left the gathering and was absent for only a short while. He returned and testified that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. He then prayed two rak’ats and said: "After me, there is a man who if he follows you, every one of his people will follow him. I shall send him to you now. He is 'Sa’ad Ibn Muadz."
Sa’ad Ibn Muadz came and listened to Musab. He was convinced and satisfied and declared his submission to God. He was followed by another important Yathribites, Sa’ad Ibn Ubadah.
Before long, the people of Yathrib were all in a flurry, asking one another. "If Usaid Ibn Khudair, Sa’ad Ibn Muadz and Sa’ad Ibn Ubadah have accepted the new religion, how can we not follow? Let's go to Musab and believe with him. They say that truth emanates from his lips."
The first ambassador of the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) was thus extremely successful. The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) had chosen well. Men and women, the young and the old, the powerful and the weak accepted Islām at his hands. The course of Yathribites history had been changed forever. The way was being prepared for the great Hijrah. Yathrib was soon to become the center and the base for the Islāmic state. Less than a year after his arrival in Yathrib, Musab returned to Makkah. It was again in the season of pilgrimage. With him was a group of seventy-five Muslims from Madinah. Again at Aqabah, near Mina, they met the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam). There they solemnly undertook to defend the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) at all cost. Should they remain firm in their faith, their reward, said the Prophet, would be nothing less than Paradise.
This second Bai’ah or pledge which the Muslims of Yathrib made came to be called the Pledge of War.
From then on events moved swiftly. Shortly after the Pledge, the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) directed his persecuted followers to migrate to Yathrib where the new Muslims or Ansar (Helpers) had shown their willingness to give asylum and extend their protection to the afflicted Muslims.
The first of the Prophet's companions to arrive in Madinah were Musab ibn Umayr and the blind Abdullāh ibn Umm Maktum. Abdullāh also recited the Quran beautifully and according to one of the Ansar, both Musab and Abdullāh recited the Qurān for the people of Yathrib. Musab continued to play a major role in the building of the new community.
The next momentous situation in which we meet him was during the great Battle of Badar. After the battle was over, the Quraish prisoners of war were brought to the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) who assigned them to the custody of individual Muslims. "Treat them well," he instructed. Among the prisoners was Abu Aziz Ibn Umayr, the brother of Musab.
Abu Aziz Ibn Umayr related what happened: "I was among a group of Ansar...Whenever they had lunch or dinner they would give me bread and dates to eat in obedience to the Prophet's instructions to them to treat us well.”My brother, Musab ibn Umayr, passed by me and said to the man from the Ansar who was holding me prisoner: 'Tie him firmly... His mother is a woman of great wealth and maybe she would ransom him for you.'" Abu Aziz could not believe his ears. Astonished, he turned to Musab and asked: "My brother, is this your instruction concerning me?"
"He is my brother, not you," replied Musab thus affirming that in the battle between iman and kufr, the bonds of faith were stronger than the ties of kinship.
At the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet called upon Musab, now well-known as Musab Al-Khair (The Excellent), became the bearer of the Muslim Forces Standard. At the beginning of the battle, the Muslims seemed to be gaining the upper hand. A group of Muslims then went against the orders of the Prophet and deserted their positions. The mushrikin forces rallied again and launched a counterattack. Their main objective, as they cut through the Muslim forces, was to get to the noble Prophet. Musab realized the great danger facing the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam). He raised the standard high and shouted the takbir. With the standard in one hand and his sword in the other, he plunged into the Quraish forces.
The odds were against him. A Quraish horseman moved in close and severed his right hand. Musab was heard to repeat the words: "Muhammad is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him," showing that however great his attachment was to the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) himself, his struggle above all was for the sake of God and for making His word supreme. His left hand was then severed also and as he held the standard between the stumps of his arms, to console himself he repeated:
"Muhammad is only a Messenger of God. Messengers have passed away before him."
Musab was then hit by a spear. He fell and the standard fell. The words he repeated, every time he was struck were later revealed to the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) and completed, and became part of the Quran.
After the battle, the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) and his companions went through the battlefield, bidding farewell to the martyrs. When they came to Musab's body, tears flowed.
Khabbah related that they could not find any cloth with which to shroud Musab's body, except his own garment. When they covered his head with it, his legs showed and when his legs were covered, his head was exposed and the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) instructed: "Place the garment over his head and cover his feet and legs with the leaves of the idhkhir (rue) plant."
The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) felt deep pain and sorrow at the number of his companions who were killed at the Battle of Uhud. These included his uncle Hamzah Ibn Abdu Muttalib whose body was horribly mutilated, by Hindun binti Utbah, wife of Abu Suffian Ibn Harb. But it was over the body of Musab that the Prophet stood, with great emotion. He remembered Musab as he first saw him in Makkah, stylish and elegant, and then looked at the short burdah which was now the only garment he possessed and he recited the verse of the Qurān:
"Among the believers are men who have been true to what they have pledged to Allāh."
The Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) then cast his tender eyes over the battle field on which lay the dead companions of Musab and said: "The Messenger of Allāh testifies that you are martyrs in the sight of God on the day of Qiyamah." Then turning to the living companions around him he said: "O People! Visit them; send peace on them for, by Him in whose hand is my soul, any Muslim who sends peace on them until the day of Qiyāmah, they would return the salutation of peace. As-salāmu alaika yā Musab... As-salāmu alaikum, ma'shar ash-shudhadā. As-salāmu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh."- Peace be on you, O Musab... Peace be on you all, O martyrs. . Peace be on you and the mercy and blessings of Allāh.