The First Envoy of Islam
This man among the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), how good it is for us to start with him. He was the flower of the Quraish, the most handsome and youthful! Historians and narrators describe him as "The most charming of the Makkans".
He was born and brought up in wealth, and he grew up with its luxuries. Perhaps there was no boy in Makkah who was pampered by his parents like Mus`ab lbn `Umair. This mirthful youth, caressed and pampered, the talk of the ladies of Makkah, the jewel of its clubs and assemblies: is it possible for him to be one of the legends of faith?
By Allah, how interesting a tale, the story of Mus`ab Ibn `Umair or Mus`ab the Good, as he was nicknamed among the Muslims! He was one of those made by Islam and fostered by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
But who was he? His story is a pride of all mankind. The youth heard one day what the people of Makkah had begun to hear about Muhammad the Truthful, that Allah had sent him as bearer of glad tidings and a warner to call them to the worship of Allah the One God. When Makkah slept and awoke there was no other talk but the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his religion, and this spoiled boy was one of the most attentive listeners.
That was because, although he was young, the flower of clubs and assemblies, the outward appearance of wisdom and common sense were among the traits of Mus`ab.
He heard that the Prophet (PBUH) and those who believed in him were meeting far away from the dignitaries and great men of the Quraish at As-safaa in the house of Al-Arqam lbn Al-Arqam daar Al-Arqam. He wasted no time. He went one night to the Daar Al Arqam, yearning and anxious. There, the Prophet (PBUH) was meeting his Companions, reciting the Qur'aan to them and praying with them to Allah the Most Exalted. Mus`ab had hardly taken his seat and contemplated the verses of Qur'aan recited by the Prophet (PBUH) when his heart became the promised heart that night.
The pleasure almost flung him from his seat as he was filled with a wild ecstasy. But the Prophet (PBUH) patted his throbbing heart with his blessed right hand, and the silence of the ocean's depth filled his heart. In the twinkling of an eye, the youth who had just become Muslim appeared to have more wisdom than his age and a determination that would change the course of time!
Mus`ab's mother was Khunaas Bint Maalik, and people feared her almost to the point of terror because she possessed a strong personality. When Mus`ab became a Muslim, he was neither careful before nor afraid of anyone on the face of the earth except his mother. Even if Makkah, with all its idols, nobles, and deserts were to challenge him, he would stand up to it. As for a dispute with his mother, this was an impossible horror, so he thought quickly and decided to keep his Islam secret until Allah willed. He continued to frequent Daar Al-Arqam and take lessons from the Prophet (PBUH). He was satisfied with his faith and avoided the anger of his mother, who had no knowledge of his embracing Islam.
However, Makkah at that time kept no secret, for the eyes and ears of the Quraish were everywhere, very alert and checking every footprint in its hot sands. Once, `Uthmaan Ibn Taihah saw him steadily entering alarm's house, then he saw him a second time praying the prayer like Muhammad. No sooner had he seen him than he ran quickly with the news to Mus`ab's mother, who was astonished by it.
Mus`ab stood before his mother, the people, and the nobles of Makkah who assembled around him, telling them the irrefutable truth and reciting the Qur'aan with which the Prophet (PBUH) cleansed their hearts and filled them with honor, wisdom, justice, and piety. His mother aimed a heavy blow at him, but the hand which was meant as an arrow soon succumbed to the powerful light which increased the radiance of his face with innocent glory because it demanded respect with its quiet confidence. However, his mother, under the pressure of her motherliness, spared him the beating and the pain, although it was within her power to avenge her gods whom he had abandoned. Instead she took him to a rough corner of her house and shut him in it. She put shackles on him and imprisoned him there until he heard the news of the emigration (hijab) of some of the believers to Abyssinia. He thought to himself and was able to delude his mother and his guards, and so escaped to Abyssinia.
There he stayed in Abyssinia with his fellow emigrants and then returned with them to Makkah. He also emigrated to Abyssinia for the second time with the Companions whom the Prophet (PBUH) advised to emigrate and they obeyed. But whether Mus`ab was in Abyssinia or Makkah, the experience of his faith proclaimed itself in all places and at all times.
Musa became confident that his life had become good enough to be offered as a sacrifice to the Supreme Originator and great Creator. He went out one day to some Muslims while they were sitting around the Prophet (PBUH) , and no sooner did they see him than they lowered their heads and shed some tears because they saw him wearing worn out garments. They were accustomed to his former appearance before he had become a Muslim, when his clothes had been like garden flowers, elegant and fragrant.
The Prophet (PBUH) saw him with the eyes of wisdom, thankful and loving, and his lips smiled gracefully as he said, "I saw Mus`ab here, and there was no youth in Makkah more petted by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet!"
His mother had withheld from him all the luxury he had been overwhelmed by, when she could not return him to her religion. She refused to let anyone who had abandoned their gods eat of her food, even if he was her son. Her last connection with him was when she tried to imprison him for a second time after his return from Abyssinia, and he swore that if she did that, he would kill all those who came to her aid to lock him up. She knew the truth of his determination when he was intent and decided to do something, and so she bade him good bye weeping.
The parting moment revealed a strange adherence to infidelity on the part of his mother, and the greater adherence to faith on the part of her son. When she said to him, while turning him out of her house, "Go away, I am no longer your mother," he went close to her and said, "O mother, I am advising 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 raging, "By the stars, I will never enter your religion, to degrade my status and weaken my senses!"
So Mus`ab left the great luxury in which he had been living. He became satisfied with a hard life he had never seen before, wearing the roughest clothes, eating one day and going hungry another. This spirit, which was grounded in the strongest faith, adorned with the light of Allah, made him another man, one who appeals to the eyes of other great souls.
While he was in this state, the Prophet (PBUH) commissioned him with the greatest mission of his life, which was to be his envoy to Al-Madiinah. His mission was to instruct the Ansaar who believed in the Prophet (PBUH) and had pledged their allegiance to him at `Aqabah, to call others to Islam, and to prepare Al-Madiinah for the day of the great Hijrah. There were among the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) at that time others who were older than Mus`ab and more prominent and nearer to the Prophet (PBUH) by family relations. But the Prophet (PBUH) chose Mus`ab the Good, knowing that he was entrusting to him the most important task of that time, putting into his hands the destiny of Islam at Al-Madiinah. The radiant city of Al-Madiinah was destined to be the home of Hijrah, the springboard of Islamic preachers and the liberators of the future. Mus`ab was equal to the task and trust which Allah had given him and he was equipped with an excellent mind and noble character. He won the hearts of the Madinites with his piety, uprightness and sincerity. And so they embraced the religion of Allah in flocks. At the time the Prophet (PBUH) sent him there, only twelve Muslims had pledged allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) at the Pledge of `Aqabah. He had hardly completed a few months when they answered to the call of Allah and the Prophet (PBUH). During the next pilgrimage season, the Madinite Muslims sent a delegation of 70 believing men and women to Makkah to meet the Prophet (PBUH).
They came with their teacher and their Prophet's envoy, Mus`ab Ibn `Umair. Mus`ab had proven, by his good sense and excellence, that the Prophet (PBUH) knew well how to choose his envoys and teachers.
Mus'ab had understood his mission well. He knew that he was a caller to Allah and preacher of His religion, which calls people to right guidance and the straight path. Like the Prophet (PBUH) in whom he believed, he was no more than a deliverer of the message. There he stood fast, with As`ad Ibn Zoraarah as host, and both of them used to visit the tribes, dwellings, and assemblies, reciting to the people what he had of the Book of Allah, instilling in them that Allah is no more than One God.
He had confronted certain instances which could have put an end to his life and that of those with him but for his active, intelligent, great mind. One day, he was taken by surprise while preaching to the people to find Usaid lbn hudair, leader of the `Abd Al-Ashhal tribe, at Al-Madiinah confronting him with a drawn arrow.
He was raging with anger and animosity against the one who had come to corrupt the religion of his people by telling them to abandon their gods and talking to them about the idea of only One God Whom they did not know before and had never heard of. Their gods were to them the center of their worship. Whenever any of them needed them, he knew their places. They would invoke them for help. That was how they thought and imagined!
As for the God of Muhammad, to whom this envoy was calling, nobody knew His place, nor could anybody see Him! When the Muslims who were sitting around Mus`ab, saw Usaid lbn hudair advancing in his unbridled anger, they were frightened, but Mus`ab the Good stood firm. Usaid stood before him and As`ad lbn Zoraarah shouting, "What brought you here? Are you coming to corrupt our faith? Go away if you wish to be saved!"
And like the calmness of the sea and its force, Mus`ab started his fine speech saying, "Won't you sit down and listen? If you like our cause, you can accept; and if you dislike it, we will spare you of what you hate."
Allah is the Greatest! How grand an opening whose ending would be pleasant! Usaid was a thoughtful and clever man, and here he saw Mus`ab inviting him to listen and no more. If he was convinced he would accept it, and if he was not convinced, then Mus`ab would leave his neighborhood and his clan, and move to another neighborhood without harm, nor being harmed. There and then Usaid answered him saying, "Well, that is fair," and he dropped his arrow to the ground and sat down listening.
Mus`ab had hardly read the Qur'aan, explaining the mission with which Muhammad lbn `Abd Allah (PBUH) came, when the conscience of Usaid began to dear and brighten and change with the effectiveness of the words. He became overwhelmed by its beauty. When Mus`ab finished speaking, Usaid lbn Hudair exclaimed to him and those with him, "How beautiful is this speech, and how true! How can one enter this religion?" Mus`ab told him to purify his body and clothes and say, "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah." Usaid retired for some time and then returned pouring clean water on his head and standing there proclaiming, "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
The news spread like lightning and then Sa`d Ibn Mu`aadh came and listened to Mus`ab, and he was convinced and embraced Islam. Then came Sa`d lbn `Ubaadah.
There and then blessings came with their entering Islam. The people of Al-Madiinah came together asking one another, "If Usaid lbn Hudair, Sa`d Ibn Mu`aadh and Sa`d Ibn `Ubaadah have embraced Islam, what are we waiting for? Go straight to Mus`ab and believe. By Allah, he is calling us to the truth and the straight path!"
The first envoy of the Prophet (PBUH) succeeded without comparison. It was a success which he deserved and to which he was equal.
The days and years passed by. The Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions emigrated to Al-Madiinah, and the Quraish were raging with envy and their ungodly pursuit after the pious worshippers. So the Battle of Badr took place, in which they were taught a lesson and lost their strong hold. After that they prepared themselves for revenge, and thus came the Battle of Uhud. The Muslims mobilized themselves, and the Prophet (PBUH) stood in their midst to sort out among their faithful faces and to choose one to bear the standard. He then called for Mus`ab the Good, and he advanced and carried the standard.
The terrible battle was raging, the fighting furious. The archers disregarded the orders of the Prophet (PBUH) by leaving their positions on the mountain when they saw the polytheists withdrawing as if defeated. But this act of theirs soon turned the victory of the Muslims to defeat. The Muslims were taken at unawares by the cavalry of the Quraish at the mountain top, and many Muslims were killed by the swords of the polytheists as a consequence.
When they saw the confusion and horror splitting the ranks of the Muslims, the polytheists concentrated on the Prophet of Allah to finish him off. Mus`ab saw the impending threat, so he raised the standard high, shouting, "allahu Akbar! Allah is the Greatest!" like the roar of a lion. He turned and jumped left and right, fighting and killing the foe. All he wanted was to draw the attention of the enemy to himself in order to turn their attention away from the Prophet (PBUH). He thus became as a whole army in himself. Nay, Mus`ab went alone to fight as if he were an army of giants raising the standard in sanctity with one hand, striking with his sword with the other. But the enemies were multiplying on him. They wanted to step on his corpse so that they could find the Prophet (PBUH).
Let us allow a living witness to describe for us the last scene of Mus`ab the Great. Ibn Sa`d said: Ibraahiim lbn Muhammad lbn Sharhabiil Al-'Abdriy related from his father, who said: Mus`ab lbn `Umair carried the standard on the Day of Uhud. When the Muslims were scattered, he stood fast until he met lbn Qumaah who was a knight. He struck him on his right hand and cut it off, but Mus`ab said, "and Muhammad is but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him " (3:144). He carried the standard with his left hand and leaned on it. He struck his left hand and cut it off, and so he leaned on the standard and held it with his upper arms to his chest, all the while saying, "And Muhammad is but a Messenger.
Messengers have passed away before him". Then a third one struck him with his spear, and the spear went through him. Mus`ab fell and then the standard.
Nay, the cream of martyrdom had fallen! He fell after he had struggled for the sake of Allah in the great battle of sacrifice and faith. He had thought that if he fell, he would be a stepping stone to the death of the Prophet (PBUH) because he would be without defense and protection. But he put himself in harm's way for the sake of the Prophet (PBUH). overpowered by his fear for and love of him, he continued to say with every sword stroke that fell on him from the foe, "and Muhammad is but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him "(3:144). This verse was revealed later, after he had spoken it.
After the bitter battle, they found the corpse of the upright martyr lying with his face in the dust, as if he feared to look while harm fell on the Prophet (PBUH). So he hid his face so that he would avoid the scene. Or perhaps, he was shy when he fell as a martyr, before making sure of the safety of the Prophet of Allah, and before serving to the very end, guarding and protecting him.
Allah is with you, O Mus`ab! What a great life story!
The Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions came to inspect the scene of the battle and bid farewell to its martyrs. Pausing at Mus`ab's body, tears dripped from the Prophet's eyes. Khabbaab lbn Al-Arat narrated: We emigrated with the Prophet (PBUH) for Allah's cause, so our reward became due with Allah. Some of us passed away without enjoying anything in this life of his reward, and one of them was Mus`ab Ibn`Umair, who was martyred on the Day of Uhud. He did not leave behind anything except a sheet of shredded woolen cloth. If we covered his head with it, his feet were uncovered, and if we covered his feet with it, his head was uncovered. The Prophet (PBUH) said to us, "Cover his head with it and put lemon grass over his feet."
Despite the deep, sad pain which the Prophet (PBUH) suffered over the loss of his uncle Hamzah and the mutilation of his corpse by the polytheists in a manner that drew tears from the Prophet (PBUH) and broke his heart; despite the fact that the field of battle was littered with the corpses of his Companions, all of whom represented the peak of truth, piety and enlightenment; despite all this, he stood at the corpse of his first envoy, bidding him farewell and weeping bitterly. Nay, the Prophet (PBUH) stood at the remains of Mus`ab lbn `Umair saying, while his eyes were flowing with tears, love and loyalty, "Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah " (33:23).
Then he gave a sad look at the garment in which he was shrouded and said, "I saw you at Makkah, and there was not a more precious jewel, nor more distinguished one than you, and here you are bare-headed in a garment!" Then the Prophet (PBUH) looked at all the martyrs in the battlefield and said, "The Prophet of Allah witnesses that you are martyrs to Allah on the Day of Resurrection." Then he gathered his living Companions around him and said, "O people, visit them, come to them, and salute them. By Allah, no Muslim will salute them but that they will salute him in return."
Peace be on you, O Mus`ab. Peace be on you, O Martyrs. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon you!