Mus`ab b. `Umayr
Does the past have lessons for those who pay attention? There have been some men and women earlier, who have gone to great lengths to protect their beliefs, and rightly so, because these were not small beliefs. They believed in the One True Creator, His Angels, His Messengers, His Books, His Judgement and in the eternal Life after Death. To bear witness to that, they were prepared to leave home, move to another city and even die, fighting battles. Such was their passion 1400 years back when the only weapon they had to convince people of their faith, was their own voice. Today, in the 21st century, how far are you ready to go for what you believe in? These heroic men and women of the past – do you know who they were? Do you know their names, their stories, and their victories? Join us on this journey as we present to you lessons from the lives of these heroes.
Have you sometimes seen those kids who have everything that they could want in the world: wealth, family, friends, good looks, intelligence, all the modern gadgets, and a lot of attention? Did you feel jealous of them?
Mus`ab bin `Umayr was by definition just like those kids. He had everything that a youth in Makkah, during his time could wish for himself. He was from a wealthy, influential family; he was the fashion icon of his time, for he wore the best and most expensive of clothes and shoes, those were imported, exclusively from Yemen. His charm and wit were the envy of the youth, and he was on the wish-list of every woman in Makkah. Then why are we discussing this trendsetter? It’s because he set yet another trend for generations of Muslims to come: to die fighting for what is right.
Mus`ab had heard a lot of gossip about the new Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he sat with the Makkan elders during their meetings. While they laughed and mocked the message of the Messenger of Allah, this young man secretly paid a lot of attention.
One day, he decided to go and see the Prophet and his followers for himself. He joined the other companions at the home of Al-Arqam Ibn Al-Arqam (may Allah be pleased be with him). He heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) reciting the Qur’an to them and Musab’s heart filled with joy.
On that night, Mus’ab bin Umayr accepted Islam and remained true to its message even in his dying breath. His belief, from that moment on was already so deep, that no difficulty could defeat him. Supporting this new faith, for Mus`ab meant, giving up on his previous lifestyle and breaking ties with most of his friends and family who were against him and his Prophet. But, he remained devoted in the face of all those hardships and went down in Islamic history as one of its most brave and loyal soldiers.
His mother, Khunaas bint Maalik, a powerful Makkan woman opposed his faith and decided to do everything in her power to move him from it. Mus`ab, honoured his mother, never turned violent against her, and never uttered harsh words to her despite her treatment, but what she wished for him was not something that he could fulfil: he could not go back to worshipping idols after he had been guided to the straight path. As a final solution, she took him to a rough corner of her house, shut him in it, put chains on him, and imprisoned him there, hoping that he would give up on his beliefs.
Soon news reached him that a few Muslims would be migrating to Abyssinia to seek shelter against the torture that was happening in Makkah. Mus`ab somehow managed to trick his guards and escaped to Abyssinia. He remained in Abyssinia until matters in Makkah seemed to cool down a little and then returned, so that he could migrate with the Prophet to Madinah. Upon his return to Makkah, his mother tried to capture and imprison him for a second time, when he finally swore before her that he would kill anybody who would come forward to help her.
Being his mother, she knew how passionate he was about his beliefs. So she gave up and bade him goodbye, weeping. When she said to him, “Go away, I am no longer your mother,” Mus`ab went close to her and lovingly said, “Mother, I advise you and my heart is with you, please bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.” She replied to him, angrily, “By the stars, I will never enter your religion, to lower my status and weaken my mind!”
He went out one day to meet some Muslims while they were sitting around the Messenger of Allah, and when they saw him they lowered their heads and began to cry at the state that he was in. He was wearing worn-out garments, unlike his earlier appearance, when his clothes had been stylish and scented.
The Messenger of Allah was so proud of him that every time he saw him, he would gracefully say, “I saw Mus’ab in Makkah, and there was no youth more pampered by his parents than him. Then he left all that for the love of Allah and His Messenger!”
Mus`ab left the great luxury in which he had been living and never gave up under the weight of a hard life; one that he had never experienced before. He did not question Allah (swt) about his rough life when he had to wear harsh clothes and had to go hungry for days, because he knew that what he believed in was the truth and that the reward for it, was worth more than all the comforts of this world.
It was not just he who loved the Messenger of Allah so much; for the Messenger of Allah loved him back. The Messenger of Allah trusted him with the greatest mission of his life, which was to take the message of Islam to Madinah. The people of Madinah had believed in the Messenger of Allah and had promised their loyalty to him at Mount ‘Aqabah. His job was to instruct the Muslims of Madinah, to call the others to Islam, and to prepare Madinah to welcome the immigrants of Makkah along with the Messenger of Allah at the final Hijrah. There were some other Companions at the time who were older than Mus’ab, more well-known and also some who were related to the Messenger of Allah. But, the Messenger of Allah trusted Mus`ab with the task because of his intelligence and polite character.
He won the hearts of the people of Madinah with his piety, honesty, and dedication to the Messenger of Allah, and they gladly accepted Islam at his hand. He raised the number of Muslims in Madinah from just 12 to 82. To the joy of all Muslims who were trying to gather as much support as they could, he came to Makkah leading a caravan of 70 Muslims from Madinah who wished to meet the Messenger of Allah. Among those that accepted Islam at the hand of Mus`ab bin Umayr were great companions like Sa`d ibn Mu`aadh, Sa`d ibn `Ubaadah and Usayd lbn Hudayr (may Allah be pleased with them).
Mus`ab returned to Madinah with the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) after the Hijrah and actively took part in setting up the Muslim community there. He was a part of the famous victory that was bestowed upon the Muslims in the Battle of Badr.
Soon after, the Quraish in Makkah were impatient for revenge. Hence came the Battle of Uhud, where the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) appointed Mus`ab as the flag bearer for the Muslim army. The fighting that followed was frightening and there was utter confusion. When the disbelievers began to move back, the Muslims wrongly assumed that the battle was over and began to leave their given posts against the warning of the Messenger of Allah. Without missing this opportunity, the disbelievers hit back, killing many Muslims who weren’t prepared for this attack.
Mus`ab saw this threat, so he raised the flag high, and roared like a lion, “Allah is the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest!” He turned and jumped left and right, fighting and killing the enemies that were now surrounding him. His plan was to distract the attention of the enemy from the Messenger of Allah to himself. There was sudden panic amongst the Muslim army as the false rumour of the death of the Messenger of Allah spread. While the Muslims were losing so many of their soldiers, Musa’b became an entire army by himself. He fought while he held the flag in one hand and his sword in the other. Ibn Sa`d said:
“Ibraahiim lbn Muhammad lbn Sharhabiil Al-‘Abadriy related from his father, who said: Mus`ab bin `Umayr carried the flag on the Day of Uhud. When the Muslims were scattered, he stood fast until he met lbn Qumaah from amongst the disbelievers who was a knight. He struck Musab on his right hand and cut it off, but Mus`ab said, “And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him.” (3:144)
He held the flag with his left hand and leaned on it. They struck his left hand and cut it off, and so he leaned on the flag and held it with his upper arms to his chest, all the while saying, “And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him.”
Allah (swt) loved him and his courage so much on that day that He revealed his words as a verse in the Qur’an after he had spoken them.
When the battle had ended the Companions and the Messenger of Allah gathered around the bodies of the martyrs of Uhud. He could not hold back his tears when they reached Mus`ab bin `Umayr. He was covered in a cloth that could not even cover his body completely.
The Prophet addressed the lifeless body and said:
“When I saw you for the first time in Makkah there was nobody more handsome and well-dressed than you. But I see that today your hair is uncombed and only a sheet of cloth covers your body. O Mus’ab bin `Umayr! We did not find anything of your wealth, besides this to bury your body in, as you gave it all away to those in need”.
The Messenger of Allah stood near Mus`ab bin `Umayr and cried while reciting: “Among the believers are men who have been true to their promise with Allah.” (33:23)
Mus`ab was a true hero in life and in death: sincere to his promise, faithful to his religion, a protector of his faith and firm in his belief. He answered his Prophet when he called him. He came down to the rescue of his religion when it needed him. He lived a life of dignity and chose to die defending it.
Peace be upon you, O Mus`ab bin `Umayr!