Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair was a very handsome young man with a pair of natural Blue eyes. He was the son of ‘Umair who was a wealthy person. He brought up his son in quite a luxurious fashion. Mus‘ab enjoyed the best of food, finest dresses and the best perfumes. Whenever Mus‘ab passed through the streets, dressed in precious clothes and profusely perfumed, the sweet smell scented the atmosphere all around and the people gazed at him with amazement and appreciation. His beauty and charm was the talk of the town. Every person knew that Mus‘ab’s parents were bringing up their son with great affection and care.
Whenever Prophet Muhammad talked of him, he said “There is nobody more handsome in Makkah than Mus‘ab. There is no person in the city better clothed and fed than Mus‘ab. There is no child brought up with more affection and love than him.” Due to his charming personality and being a lovely son of wealthy parents, everyone young or old had great regard for him.
Hardships after acceptance of Islam
When he embraced Islam he was given a respectable place in the Muslim society. But it was not due to his beauty, charm, good dress, good manners or wealth, but due to his piety and fear of God. When he embraced Islam, he faced severe hardships and torture. The beauty and charm of his person faded. He was also deprived of the affection and care of his parents. But his virtues and piety won the appreciation of Allah and prophet Muhammed. In his pursuit for winning the favour of Allah and prophet Muhammed, Mus‘ab cared neither for good food, nor good dress. He was no longer inclined towards expensive perfumes, instead he devoted himself whole heartedly to serve the cause of Islam.
Mus‘ab accepted Islam at a time when life had been made unbearable for Muslims. He was turned out of his home and was socially boycotted. He had to suffer countless miseries. This pampered young man embraced Islam at a time when those who believed in Islam were refused food and water and were thrown in dark prison cells. Many bloodthirsty tyrants, not satisfied with the infliction of pain and injury, often murdered their Muslim victims. There were other hard-hearted fellows who had invented various forms of torments, to inflict on the Muslims.
Mus‘ab accepted Islam during that difficult period. One day a non-believer saw him offering prayers. He at once informed Mus‘ab’s parents who turned hostile to their son. His mother’s affection vanished. All the love and care of his father changed into anger and grief. They admonished him, but when they knew that he was firm, they tied him with ropes and threw him in a dark cell. He was kept in prison for a long time, but his belief in Islam was so deep that the torment of prison did not change his mind. He sacrificed everything and remained patient.
Migration to Abyssinia
When the Muslims were ordered to migrate to Abyssinia, this young-man, brought up like a prince, also migrated along with the other devotees. When he returned from Abyssinia, people saw in him a different person- all the luster and geity was gone. He who would have scoffed at the most precious raiment, was wearing a dress made of coarse, worn-out blanket. The spectacle inspired amazement, and awe among the onlookers. His mother, too, pitied her son’s condition and repented of the harsh treatment, she had shown to him.
Return from Abyssinia
Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair presented himself to prophet Muhammad in such a condition that he had only a piece of skin with patches here and there to cover his body. When the companions of prophet Muhammed saw this, they hung their heads in awe. Muhammed observed,
“Al-hamdu lillah (“all praises are due to Allah”). Now the condition of the world and worldly people should change. This is the young man who had no equal in Makkah in the luxurious style in which he was brought up. But the regard for virtue and love for Allah and his Prophet have made him indifferent to all worldly pleasures.”
Mission to Medina – First Envoy of Islam
During this period many people of Medina had accepted Islam. They requested that prophet Muhammed send them a preacher for teaching them the fundamentals of Islam. Prophet Muhammed selected Mus’ab. He went from door to door to convince the people for the message of Islam. Initially he talked to each person in terms which that person could understand, and then presented to him the message of Islam at the right moment. He recited before the people selected verses of the Qur’an, which had a profound effect on their minds. He treated his visitors very politely. He had a natural gift for soft speech and people who approached him instantly became his friends.
An incident is related below, as an example:
One day Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair was explaining some Islamic precepts to a group of Muslims. By chance an elite of Medina, Sa‘ad bin Mu‘adh happened to come there. He had heard about Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair’s preaching for Islam and was very angry with him. He said to an influential person, Usaid bin Khudair, “Turn this preacher of Islam out of your neighborhood. He has turned many persons away from the path of their ancestral faith. If I was not a relation of Sa‘ad ibn Zurarah (with who Mus‘ab was staying), I would not have asked you to do that, but would have done it myself.” Usaid at once took his spear and went to Sa‘ad’s house. He called both of them and said furiously, “Who has called you here to lead the people astray? If your lives are dear to you, go away from this place at once”.
To this Mus‘ab replied very gently, “Please sit down and listen to us calmly. If you like what we say, then you may accept it otherwise we shall leave this place.” Us‘aid stuck his spear in the ground and sat down to listen to what Mus‘ab recited some verses of the Qur‘an. He explained to the audience the identity of Allah as the Creator, the Master and the Merciful, in such an impressive manner that in a short time Usaid was filled with the light of fidelity and he exclaimed, “What an excellent faith, How can I embrace Islam?” After that he recited the Kalima and embraced Islam.
After some time Sa ‘ad bin Mu‘ahd also arrived there mad with rage. But, he too was softened like wax by the sublime eloquence of Mus‘ab, and before he left he had already recited the Kalima about the Oneness of Allah and become a Muslim. Soon afterward all the inhabitants of Medina except a few, accepted Islam.
It was in Medina too that Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair did a remarkable work which shows his intelligence and tact in propagating the call of Islam. When the number of Muslims increased in Medina, he organized them in a body and requested permission of prophet Muhammad to lay the foundation of Friday prayers.
When the permission of Friday prayers was granted his first talks was to deliver a very impressive address. Then he led the congregational Friday prayers with great reverence. In this way Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair had the honour of founding the Friday prayers. Mus‘ab’s achievements at Medina were constantly reported to prophet Muhammed.
Return to Makkah
When Mus‘ab’s mission had been fully accomplished he led a group of Muslims to Mecca to bring prophet Muhammed Medina. On arrival at Mecca the first thing Mus‘ab did was to approach prophet Muhammad to give him a full report of the success of his mission. Muhammed was very pleased with Mus‘ab’s account. A true Muslim (Momin) does not require anything else but the pleasure of Allah through following the commands of their prophet Muhammed.
Mus‘ab’s mother learnt that her son had returned home at last ; and that he was staying with someone else. She felt annoyed and sent him word : “My son! You have returned to a town, in which I reside. But woe to me! You have not come to see me!” The reply which Mus‘ab sent to his mother shows his sincere devotion to prophet Muhammad. He said, “I will not see anybody before I have paid homage to the Holy Prophet”.
The account of Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair given above demonstrates an exemplary proof of the great love he had for Islam and the pains he took in presenting Islam to the non-believers. He sacrificed everything he possessed for the sake of Islam including his charm and beauty, his wealth and worldly belongings, his luxurious style of living and shed his attachment to his parents, his homeland, his people and his own country. In short, everything which was dear to him, was sacrificed by him for Islam. But this chapter of the history of Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair will remain incomplete without an account of his death.
Battle of Uhud
It may be recollected that Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair was not only very handsome, he did not only possess the qualities of submission and sacrifice, and he was not only a master of high intelligence and good eloquence, but he was also a gallant soldier, a fearless warrior and an able General. It was because of his gallantry that prophet Muhammed had entrusted him with the charge of the highest banner of war, in the battle of Badr. He was also given the rare honor of holding the Muslim banner during the battle of Uhud. The way in which the high office of holding the war banner was discharged in the two battles by this great devotee of Islam may be judged from the events of the Battle of Uhud.
In the battle of Uhud, it so happened that the battle was lost for a while by a casual mistake of the Muslims. The people of Mecca attacked the Muslims from the rear via cavalry and thus disorganized the Muslim army.
At that critical time, Mus‘ab kept the Islamic banner flying high. When the Muslims were scattered, he stood fast until he met Ibn Quma’ah 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 died before him” 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 died before him”. Then a third one struck him with his spear, and the spear went through him. Mus’ab fell and the standard followed.
In another account: Mus’ab withstood the attack of his enemies with great valour. He bore the cuts of the enemy on his breast, but held the Islamic banner in his hands firmly. During this attack one of the enemies stepped forward and cut off his right hand with one stroke of the sword. The hand fell on the ground. The banner was about to fall when he transferred it to his left hand. The enemy now took another chance and struck a second blow of sword on his left hand. Still Mus‘ab did not lose courage; he did not allow the banner to fall down; he held it by his breast, within the circle of his arms. The enemy was irritated to see such intrepid devotion. In savage fury, he threw the sword on the ground and flung a spear at the breast of Mus‘ab. The pointed end of the blade pierced the chest, broke and remained embedded there.
The great hero, thus fell to the ground reciting the following Qur’anic verse: “Wa ma Muhammad-dun illa rasulun qad khalat min qablehil rusul). Meaning: “And Muhammad is only a prophet of Allah. Many other Prophets have died before him.
When the keeper of Islamic banner fell, the banner fluttered in the air. Seeing this Abul Room bin ‘Umair (Allah be pleased with him), brother of the martyr, moved forward and took over the banner. He protected its honour till the last.
When the battle came to an end the Prophet stood by the dead body of Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umair and recited the verse: (Minal momeneena rejalun sadqu ma ‘ahadullaha ‘ alaihe) Meaning: “There are some persons among the devoted Muslims (momeneen) who kept the promise made to Allah.”
When he died, the non-believers falsely claimed the prophet was dead, because the face of Mus’ab bin umair was similar to that of the prophet.
While returning from Uhad after burying the martyrs, the Prophet Muhammad met Hammanah bint Jahsh, the wife of Mus’ab. He told her about the killing of her brother, Abdullah ibn Jahsh. She patiently listened and prayed for the martyr. Then the Prophet informed her of the Killing of her maternal uncle Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib. She remained calm and prayed for her uncle. Then the Prophet broke the news of the martyrdom of her husband upon which she could not control herself and broke into tears and started crying loudly.
Then Muhammad addressed the dead body thus:
“When I saw you for the first time in Mecca there was nobody more handsome and well-dressed than you. But, I see that today your hair is uncombed and only a sheet of cloth covers your body!”
The dead of Uhud could not get proper shrouds because in those days Muslims were poor and lacked money. Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair had only a sheet of cloth over his body; if the head was covered, the feet were bare and when the feet were covered the head was left bare. In the end, his head was covered and his feet were covered with grass. Such was the shroud of Mus ‘ab bin ‘Umair – the great martyr of the Muslim nation.