The Prophet Muhammad (saw)

Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr: From Seeing Himself in the Mirror to Being a Mirror


The girls of Mecca wait impatiently for the time when the young man with the gentle steps will pass by their window. They are looking forward to the moment when they will see the graceful and noble features of his face. The prices in bazaars, where the breeze carries his scent, they keep going up. Mus’ab goes to the bazaar often. With the money he possesses he buys what he does not possess. With rich parents, who would sacrifice everything for him, he adds to his possessions. The people of the caravans bring their best fabrics, perfumes and the rarest of delights for him. Hadramut is ready to hunt hundreds of gazelles in the desert to make a pair of shoes for his feet. It is not only his family who has been generous; nature has treated him well too. He has been endowed with a handsome face, a sound healthy body, wavy hair; he is intelligent, he has reason, oratory skills and nobility. Yet Mus’ab finds it difficult to understand why stones have been given the role of gods. But when he thinks of the stones as just stones, which is what they are, he finds himself faced with a void and he does not know how to fill it. He keeps saying, ‘O truth, appear in front of me!’, but the truth does not appear on command. At that time, the ones who were ‘seeking’ met at the house of Arqam. In this mysterious house the truth was kept like a jewel in its case.

It is not unusual for a slave to answer the door, but when the slave and master embrace, crying in each others’ arms? Habbab bin al-Arat, a former slave and Mus’ab ibn 'Umayr, a new servant of Allah fell into each other’s arms. Habbab opened the door and Mus’ab went inside to be taken to the Prophet (pbuh). When he saw the Prophet’s face, he realized in a moment that every word that those lips uttered was a precious truth. That was the day that Mus’ab made the greatest purchase of his life. When he left that day he abandoned everything he had in the house of Arqam. All his clothes and shoes were worn out and his fruits went sour. He returned the love of all those who were in love with him and he returned the scent of all the flowers. That day, when he left the house of Arqam, he took only his heart with him. He left with a heart that was soaked in the colors of the words of the Last Prophet; his heart had been cleansed.

There is an organ in the body that, when changed, can change everything. This was what the Prophet told those who gathered in the house of Arqam that day. And everything in Mus’ab’s life changed. His priorities vanished in the blink of an eye. They were replaced by a desire to be with the Prophet, to join in the prayers, and to accept the invitation to Islam. Uthman bin Talha, who was looking for Mus’ab in the bazaar, found him praying and ran back to Mus’ab’s parents in terror. He stood there with bulging eyes and said to Mus’ab’s mother, Hamnah, ‘Your son is praying!’ His mother replied, ‘He is praying?’ as if this was a curse. He was praying, her son who was so dear to her, on whom she put the finest of clothes and whom she bathed in the sweetest of perfumes. They tried to convince Mus’ab to forgo these actions; when they failed, they imprisoned him in the basement of his father’s house. He was left without food and water under the guard of his parents.

Twice he immigrated to Abyssinia, because things in Mecca did not change. But living in safety in Abyssinia while the Prophet was in Mecca had no meaning for him. He could not stay away long and he soon returned to his homeland. Ali tells us about the rest: “We were sitting with the Prophet. Mus’ab ibn 'Umayr came in. He was wearing a piece of a cloth with patches all over it. The Prophet’s eyes filled with tears at this sight and he said: ‘Look at this great man whose heart was blessed and enlightened by Allah. His parents offered him the best food and drink. But he abandoned all that for the sake of Allah. It is the love of Allah and His Messenger that made him like this.’

What can a person not do for love? For love one can say ‘You will be dearer to me than myself’ even if the whole world is against one. This was the first sentence of the Pledge of Allegiance at Aqaba given by twelve people from Medina. This handful of Muslims sealed their beliefs with these words and thus gained the honor of becoming the Ansar, the Helpers; they asked the Prophet for someone to teach them about Islam. Mus’ab ibn 'Umayr was the teacher Prophet Muhammad sent. Teachers are representatives of those who instruct and dispatch them. Mus’ab went to Medina to represent Prophet Muhammad with a smiling face, kindness, fine oratory skills and exemplary morals.

He turned the house of Asad bin Zurarah into a Quranic school. He explained Islam to the people of Medina gently, smiling all the while. He was their imam when they prayed and he was their arbitrator when they found themselves in dispute. He led people in the first ever Friday prayer in the house of Sa’d ibn Haysamah with the permission of the Prophet. And as a result of his efforts, the houses of Medina started to be illuminated, one by one. Some people became worried; they thought that this change would cost them their positions in society. One such person was the chief of a tribe, Osayd bin Khudair. He stormed into the room where Mus’ab was addressing people, carrying a spear, and shouted at him: ‘Have you come here to deceive the weak-minded? Leave this place at once if you don’t want to lose your life!’ Mus’ab, who kept smiling, replied: ‘Why don’t you catch your breath and listen to me for a while? If you do not like what I say, then we will leave you alone immediately.’ Then Mus’ab calmly told Osayd what Islam meant and recited verses from the Qur’an. Osayd laid down his spear and exclaimed ‘How beautiful!’ Then he turned to Mus’ab and asked him ‘How can I become a follower of this religion?’

Mus’ab not only told people how they could become followers of Islam, he also exemplified how it was to be lived. He was the head of the seventy-five people who came to the second Pledge of Allegiance at Aqaba; they were honored with the precious words of the Prophet: “Your blood is my blood; your forgiveness is my forgiveness. I am one of you and you are one with me.” Mus’ab prepared Medina for the arrival of her beloved master and he was the one who carried the flag at the Battle of Badr. Mus’ab was honored yet another time with carrying the flag at the Battle of Uhud. The enemy, who mistook him for the Prophet, first cut off his right arm. He then took the flag in his left arm, which was severed by another blow. He held the flag to his chest with what was left of his severed arms and recited, “And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him;” and continued to shield the Prophet. In the end, he was martyred by the spear of Ibn Qamiah. Not knowing that he had died, the Prophet called out to him from behind, ‘Advance, O Mus’ab, advance’...And at that moment, an angel carrying the flag in the guise of Mus’ab, answered: ‘I am not Mus’ab’.

Ali saw tears in the Prophet’s eyes and he listened to him recite these verses from Surat al-Ahzab by Mus’ab’s side “Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least”.

And now, it was time to bury the martyr Mus’ab. But they could not find a shroud to cover his body; there was nothing to cover this man, once the richest and the most handsome young man of Mecca. When they were covering his head, his feet would be left uncovered and when they were covering his feet, his head would be left uncovered. The Prophet was pointing that his head should be covered, advising that his feet be covered with grass. The Last Prophet was pointing at Mus’ab!

Poet and writer Ali Ural continues to write about the Companions of the Prophet that reflect his light and radiance


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