Sad Ibn Abi Waqqas (rta) was the cousin brother of the Prophet’s (sa) mother Aminah. On one occasion, the Prophet (sa) himself very proudly mentioned their kinship to everybody and called Sad (rta) the best uncle one can have. Sad (rta) was also among the ten notable companions, to whom the Prophet (sa) promised Paradise.
By birth, Sad (rta) belonged to a noble family of the Quraish. Despite his noble birth, he felt unfit in this society that uplifted the customs of idol worship and enjoyed filthy pleasures. While thinking about the forces behind the creation of this universe, Sad (rta) had realized that the gods worshipped by his people were false. Could these stone gods protect people, if they were unable to save even themselves? Sad (rta) was convinced that this universe must have a much greater Creator and Sustainer.
Once, Sad (rta) happened to listen to some people sitting by the Kabah – they were talking about Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, who had began spreading a new religion, dedicated to the worship of one Allah (swt). Upon learning that his close friend Abu Bakr (rta) had accepted this new religion, Sad (rta) asked Abu Bakr (rta) to take him to the house of Muhammad (sa). He wished to learn more about this new religion, which seemed to be so close to his own way of thinking.
When they entered Muhammad’s (saw) house, the Prophet (sa) was reciting the Quranic verses about the creation of this world. As Sad (rta) listened to the Prophet (sa), he became sure that this religion had come to save his people from their ignorant and evil ways. Without waiting any longer, he embraced Islam. At the time, Sad (rta) was seventeen years old.
At the time, Muslims faced much oppression in Makkah, and so Sad (rta) kept his conversion secret from his family. However, when the news reached his mother, she was determined to do anything it would take to bring her son back to the religion of their forefathers. She begged him, threatened him, but when nothing seemed to work, she announced a hunger strike. However, Sad (rta) refused to give in to her stubbornness and said that even if his mother would have hundred souls, which one by one would leave her body in front of his eyes, he would not leave Islam. Seeing her son’s firm determination, Sad’s mother stopped her hunger strike.
Sad (rta) was also among the fortunate companions, whom the Prophet (sa) mentioned in his supplications. The Prophet (sa) prayed to Allah (swt) that the entreaties of Sad (rta) would always be granted. Ever since then, Sad (rta) was blessed with the wonderful gift to pray to Allah (swt) and have his prayers answered.
Once, Sad (rta) happened to hear a man, who was abusing three of the Prophet’s companions. Sad (rta) immediately asked the man to stop, but he did not listen. Sad (rta) became very angry and said that if the man would not stop, he would put a curse on him. This did not make the man listen. Without saying anything more, Sad (rta) performed two supererogatory units of prayer and asked Allah (swt) to let this ill-mannered man become a lesson to the rest of the world. Just as he completed his supplication, a mad she-camel broke loose from her leash and ran into the crowd, as if she was looking for somebody. Suddenly, the she-camel caught in her jaws the head of the ill-mannered man and began shaking him so violently that his neck broke. The crowd was stunned by the bloody scene. Truly, through the prayer of Sad (rta), the ill-mannered man’s fate became a valuable lesson for the rest of the world.
After the death of the Prophet (sa), Sad (rta) joined hands with the first Caliph Abu Bakr (rta) in spreading the light of Islam throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The next Caliph, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta), continued Abu Bakr’s (rta) policies for protecting the safety of the Islamic State. He turned in the direction of the Persian Empire, which had once already refused to accept the message of Islam. Not wishing to wait for attack from the Persians, Umar (rta) took the initiative by sending Muslim forces to conquer the Persian Empire. He entrusted this mission to the lion-hearted youth Sad Ibn Abi Waqqas (rta).
Meanwhile, Iran gathered a strong and well-equipped force, which arrived to Qadisiyah under the command of a very famous general – Rustam. The distinction of Rustam’s army was a large number of gigantic elephants.
Since Islam guides Muslims not to fight any nation before introducing them to the message of Allah (swt), Sad (rta) sent a delegation to the Persian King asking him either to accept Islam, to pay protection tax (Jizyah) to the Islamic State, or to get ready for a fierce fight.
The Muslim delegation of the most intelligent and experienced Mujahideen arrived to the Persian court and presented to the King the message of Islam in the most beautiful words. The King felt that each word was directly touching his heart. Yet, instead of embracing Islam, he asked his servant to bring a basket of soil, which he then angrily and disrespectfully began throwing at Muslims. The Mujahideen picked up the basket, brought it to Sad (rta) and reported that the Persian King himself had given to them his land. Now, after the King’s refusal, the only solution was war.
When both armies met, intense fighting broke out. Seeing the gigantic elephants, the horses of Mujahideen panicked. Realizing the situation, Sad (rta) sent young men from the tribe of Asad to attack the elephants. First, a rain of arrows threw the riders of the elephants down. Then, the courageous youth of Asad tribe cut off the trunks of some elephants. Seeing this, other elephants panicked and began crushing under their feet the soldiers of their own army.
The fighting continued the second and the third day. Finally, one of the Mujahideen successfully reached the Iranian general Rustam and cut off his head. When the Iranian warriors got the news about the death of Rustam, their courage vanished and they fled from the battlefield. Thus, the final victory in the war of Qadisiyah was in the hands of the brave Mujahideen.
However, it was the battle of Madyan that brought the Persian Empire under the complete control of Muslim forces. The problem for Muslims this time was the river Dajlah, which lay between both armies. The Iranians had established themselves on the bank of the river and destroyed all the bridges. Realizing that the Mujahideen would be under direct attack of the enemy even before they would reach the other bank, Sad (rta) came up with one of the most excellent plans in military history. He divided his army into two parts. One part began crossing the river right away and kept the enemy busy. The other part set out a bit later, and upon reaching the shore brought a deadly attack on the enemy army. This Sad’s (rta) strategy proved to be so successful that the battle was won on the very first day, and Madyan came under the control of Mujahideen. Later, Caliph Umar (rta) appointed Sad (rta) to be the governor of Iraq.
In the 54th year AH, at the age of eighty, Sad (rta) breathed his last. His son cried seeing his father’s last hours. Sad (rta) comforted his son by saying that Allah (swt) will not give him any punishments in the Hereafter – the Prophet (sa) himself had promised Sad (rta) a place in Paradise.
Adapted from “Commanders of the Muslim Army (Among the companions of the Prophet (sa))” by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar.