Usamah Bin Zaid (rta)

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Laila Brence

Senior Editor at Hiba Magazine

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Vol 4 - Issue 4 Usamah Bin ZaidThe birth of Usamah Bin Zaid (rta) was a great joy for the Prophet (sa), who had a very close connection with the child’s parents. Usamah’s mother Umm Aiman (rta) used to serve the Prophet’s (sa) mother. Usamah’s father Zaid Bin Harith (rta) had a very special place in the Prophet’s (sa) heart – he had declared Zaid Bin Harithah (rta) to be his adopted son.

Dark skinned and with typical African features, Usamah Bin Zaid (rta) was known for his virtuousness, intelligence, humility, fear of Allah (swt) and passion for Jihad. He loved the Prophet (sa) very dearly and was ready to sacrifice his life for the cause of Islam. It is due to these noble qualities that the Prophet (sa) proclaimed Usamah (rta) to be dearer to him than all other Companions.

When the call for the battle of Uhud was announced, Usamah (rta) set out to join the Muslim army. Unfortunately, he was not accepted into the rows of Mujahideen due to his very young age.

For the battle of Ahzab, Usamah (rta) once again set out for joining the Mujahideen. Remembering his bad luck at the time of the battle of Uhud, Usamah (rta) began walking on his toes in order to appear taller and older. The Prophet (sa) noticed this trick and, with a smile on his face, accepted Usamah (rta). Thus, the battle of Ahzab became the first Jihad for Usamah (rta), who was only fifteen years old at the time.

Usamah (rta) was not yet twenty years old, when the Prophet (sa) appointed him to be the commander of the Muslim army setting out for Syria to fight the Roman army. Many questioned this choice of the Prophet (sa) – the young and inexperienced Usamah (rta) was to lead such distinguished Companions as Abu Bakr (rta) and Umar Farooq (rta). It so happened that just before the army set out, the Prophet (sa) passed away. Although it was suggested to delay the army and even to change the commander, Abu Bakr (rta), the first Caliph, firmly insisted that the army would set out for Syria, as he did not want to go against the dying wish of the Prophet (sa).

Harqal, the emperor of Rome, was surprised to hear that even after the death of their Prophet (sa), the Muslims had not delayed the war. This determination and confidence scared Harqal’s soldiers. The Romans suffered great losses, while the Muslim army under Usamah’s (rta) leadership, returned home safe and sound.

Two years before the death of the Prophet (sa), Usamah (rta) was appointed the commander of a regiment for an expedition. After returning to Madinah with bright colours of victory, the Prophet (sa) asked Usamah (rta) to tell him about the battle. Usamah (rta) said that when the enemy began to flee, he followed one of them. As soon as Usamah (rta) had lifted his spear over the enemy, the soldier recited the Kalimah, declaring his faith in Allah (swt). Disregarding this, Usamah (rta) still killed the soldier. The Prophet (sa) was very grieved to hear this, as Usamah (rta) had no right to kill a man, who had professed faith in Allah (swt). After seeing the anger of the Prophet (sa), Usamah (rta) felt as if all the good deeds he had ever done in his life were wasted – he learned a lesson that he remembered for the rest of his life.

When disagreements arose among Muslims, and Ali (rta) opposed Amir Muawiya (rta), Usamah (rta) categorically refused to take part in fighting. He went into seclusion, saying that no Muslim would be the target of his sword. He remembered the lesson the Prophet (sa) had taught him – not to fight against anyone, who testified that none had the right to be worshipped but Allah (swt).

Caliph Umar (rta) used to distribute stipends from the treasury, considering the services and sacrifices each person had made for the cause of Islam. Once, the Caliph’s son Abdullah (rta) approached him to inquire, why Usamah (rta) was receiving five thousand Dinars, while he was getting only two thousand. Abdullah (rta) said that Usamah’s father (rta) was in a lower position than his, and also Usamah (rta) himself had taken part in fewer battles than Abdullah (rta). Hearing these words, Caliph Umar (rta) replied that Usamah’s father (rta) was dearer to the Prophet (sa) than his, and that Usamah (rta) himself was dearer to the Prophet (sa) than Abdullah. The Caliph (rta) said that it was his duty to keep in mind the preferences of the Prophet (sa).

Caliph Umar (rta) told Abdullah (rta) the story of Usamah’s father Zaid Bin Harithah (rta), who used to be a very special servant of the Prophet (sa). When after a long search Zaid’s father Harithah finally found his kidnapped and sold in slavery son with the Prophet (sa), he asked Zaid (rta) to return home. Even though the Prophet (sa) gave Zaid (rta) the freedom to decide what he wanted to do, Zaid (rta) refused to leave the Prophet (sa). Zaid (rta) said that he would rather be with the Prophet (sa) than to have a thousand freedoms. Deeply moved to hear these words, the Prophet (sa) took Zaid (rta) to the Kabah and, in front of the Quraish chiefs, declared Zaid (rta) to be his son. From that time on, Muslims began calling him Zaid Bin Muhammad. This tradition was stopped by a revelation from Allah (swt), according to which an adopted son should be called by the name of his real father.

In addition, Usamah’s mother Umm Aiman (rta) had a special place in the Prophet’s (sa) heart. She used to attend to the Prophet’s (sa) mother. As the Prophet (sa) was very young at the time when his mother passed away, Umm Aiman (rta) took up the responsibility of raising him. The Prophet (sa) used to say that Umm Aiman (rta) was like a mother to him. He considered her a member of his own family.

Usamah (rta) himself enjoyed a very exceptional love of the Prophet (sa). Often, the Prophet (sa) used to pass on to Usamah (rta) the gifts given to him. Once, the Chief of the Quraish gave to the Prophet (sa) a very expensive dress, which he had brought from Yemen – a royal robe specially made for the King of Yemen. The Prophet (sa) wore the robe only once and then passed it on to Usamah (rta).

Although the time he spent with the Prophet (sa) was not long, people still used to ask him about the Prophet’s (sa) opinions on certain matters. Due to Usamah’s (rta) special place in the Prophet’s (sa) heart and his own exceptional personal characteristics, he was very much respected within the Muslim Ummah.

Source: “Commanders of the Muslim Army (Among the Companions of the Prophet (sa)” by Mahmood Ahmad Ghandafar.

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