Dr. Sadaf Sheikh
Zayd (rta), the son of Amr, stood away from the Quraish crowd, as they celebrated one of their festivals. He watched as sacrificial animals, gaily caparisoned, were led out to slaughter before the Quraish idols. He shouted: “O people of Quraish! It is Allah, Who has created the sheep. He it is, Who has sent down rain from the skies, of which they drink, and He has caused fodder to grow from the earth, with which they are fed. Then even so you slaughter them in names other than His. Indeed, I see that you are an ignorant folk.”
Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab, the father of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, seethed with anger: “Damn you! We still hear from you such stupidity. We have borne it until our patience is exhausted.” Al-Khattab then incited a number of violent people to harass and persecute Zayd (rta).
Before Muhammad’s (sa) call to the prophet hood, Zayd (rta) was one of the few men, known as Hanifs, who saw the idolatrous practices for what they were. He proclaimed that he worshipped the God of Ibrahim.
Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab had him hounded and persecuted to the point, where he was forced to leave the valley of Makkah. He managed to enter Makkah only in secret. Finding it impossible to stay in Makkah, Zayd (rta) left the Hijaz and went as far as Mosul in the north of Iraq and from there southwest into Syria. Throughout his journeys, he always questioned monks and rabbis about the religion of Ibrahim. He found no satisfaction, until he came upon a monk in Syria, who is reported to have told him that the religion he was seeking did not exist any longer, but the time was now near, when God would send forth from his own people a Prophet, who would revive the religion of Ibrahim.
Zayd (rta) headed for Makkah, intending to meet the expected Prophet. As he was passing through the territory of Lakhm on the southern border of Syria, he was killed by a group of nomad Arabs, before he could set eyes on the Messenger (sa). However, before he breathed his last, he raised his eyes to the heavens and said: “O Lord, if You have prevented me from attaining this good, do not prevent my son from doing so.”
Allah (swt) heard the prayer of Zayd (rta). When Muhammad (sa) rose up inviting people to Islam, his son Said was in the forefront of those, who believed in the oneness of Allah (swt) and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa).
Said was not yet twenty, when he embraced Islam. His wife Fatimah, daughter of Al-Khattab and sister of Umar, also accepted Islam early. Evidently, both Said and Fatimah managed to conceal their acceptance of Islam from the Quraish, especially from Fatimah’s family. She feared not only her father but also her brother Umar, who was brought up to venerate the Kabah and to cherish the unity of the Quraish and their religion.
Umar saw Islam as a threat to the Quraish and became most violent and unrestrained in his attacks on Muslims. He finally decided that the only way to put an end to the trouble was to eliminate the man who was its cause. Goaded on by blind fury, he took up his sword and headed for the Prophet’s house. On his way, he came face to face with a secret believer in the Prophet, who, seeing Umar’s grim expression, asked him, where he was going. “I am going to kill Muhammad…”
The believer sought to dissuade him from his intent but Umar was deaf to any arguments. He then thought of diverting Umar, in order to warn the Prophet (sa) of his intentions. “O Umar,” he said, “why not first go back to the people of your own house and set them to rights?” “What people of my house?” asked Umar. “Your sister Fatimah and your brother-in-law Said. They have both forsaken your religion and are the followers of Muhammad…”
Umar turned and made straight for his sister’s house. Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt, who often came to recite the Quran to Said (rta) and Fatimah (rta), was with them then. When they heard Umar’s voice, Khabbab hid in a corner of the house, and Fatimah (rta) concealed the manuscript. But Umar had heard the sound of their reading and when he came in, he said to them: “What is this Haynamah (gibbering) I heard?”
They tried to assure him that it was only normal conversation, but he insisted: “Hear it I did,” he said: “and it is possible that you have both become renegades.”
“Have you not considered whether the Truth is not to be found in your religion?” Said (rta) said to Umar, trying to reason with him. Instead, Umar set upon his brother-in-law hitting and kicking him as hard as he could. When Fatimah (rta) went to defend her husband, Umar (rta) struck her a blow on her face, which drew blood.
“O Umar,” said Fatimah (rta), and she was angry. “What if the truth is not in your religion? I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
When Umar (rta) saw Fatimah’s (rta) bleeding wound, he was sorry for what he had done. A change came over him, and he said to his sister: “Give me that script, which you have, that I may read it.” Fatimah (rta) replied: “You are impure and only the pure may touch it. Go and wash yourself or make ablution.”
Thereupon Umar (rta) went and washed himself, and she gave him the page with the opening verses of Surah Ta-Ha. When he reached the verse: “Verily, I – I alone – am God, there is no deity but me. So, worship Me alone, and be constant in prayer so as to remember Me,” he said: “Show me, where Muhammad is.”
Umar (rta) then made his way to the house of Al-Arqam, where he declared his acceptance of Islam. The Prophet (sa) and all his companions rejoiced.
Said (rta) and his wife Fatimah (rta) were, thus, the immediate cause leading to the conversion of the strong and determined Umar (rta), which substantially added to the power and prestige of the emerging faith.
Said ibn Zayd (rta) was totally devoted to the Prophet (sa) and the service of Islam. He witnessed nearly all the major campaigns and encounters, in which the Prophet (sa) engaged.
After the death of the Prophet (sa), Said continued to play a major role in the Muslim community. He was one of those, whom Abu Bakr (rta) consulted on his succession. He was also known for his courage and heroism. Said was ranked by the Prophet (sa) as one of the outstanding members of his generation. He was among those ten companions, to whom the Prophet (sa) promised Paradise.