Abdullah Ibn Jahsh RA – The First Amir in Islam
His pure tears watered the earth and the earth anointed with the Fragrance of Martyrdom.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA was a cousin of Rasulullah SAW and his sister, Zainab bint Jahsh, was a wife of Rasulullah SAW. Abd-Allah ibn Jahsh (عبد الله بن جحش) (c.586–625) was not only a cousin but a loyal companion of Rasulullah SAW.He was the son of Jahsh ibn Riyab, an immigrant to Makkah from the Asad tribe and Umama bint Abdul Muttalib, a member of the Hashim clan of the Quraish tribe. He is described as “neither tall nor short and had a lot of hair.”
He married Fatima bint Abi Hubaysh RA who was a cousin of Saidatuna Khadija Binti Khuwailid RA from the Asad clan of the Quraish and they had one son, Muhammad.
Abd-Allah ibn Jahsh embraced Islam under the influence of Saidina Abu Bakr Al Siddique RA. He joined other Muslims in the second emigration to Abyssinia in 616. Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA returned to Makkah in late 619 and was one of the first to emigrate to Madinah in 622.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA was the first to head a group of Muslims on an expedition and so was the first to be called “Amir al-Muminin Commander of the Believers.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA became a Muslim before Rasulullah SAW entered the House of al-Arqam which became a meeting place, a school and a place of refuge for the early Muslims. Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA was thus one of the first to accept Islam.
When Rasulullah SAW gave permission for his Companions to emigrate to Madinah to avoid further persecution from the Quraish, Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA was the second to leave, preceded only by Abu Salamah. Emigrating was not a new experience for Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA. Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and some members of his immediate family had migrated before to Abyssinia. This time, however, his migration was on a far bigger scale. His family and relatives men, women and children, migrated with him. In fact, his whole clan had become Muslims and accompanied him.
There was an air of desolation as they left Makkah. Their homes appeared sad and depressed as if no one had lived there before. No sound of conversation emanated from behind those silent walls.
Abdullah’s clan was not long gone then. The alerted Quraish leaders came out and made the rounds of the districts in Makkah to find out which Muslims had left and who had remained. Among these leaders were Abu Jahl and Utbah ibn Rabi’ah. Utbah looked at the houses of the Banu Jahsh through which the dusty winds were blowing. He banged on the doors and shouted:
“The houses of the Banu Jahsh have become empty and are weeping for its occupants.” ‘Who were these people anyway,” said Abu Jahl derisively, “that houses should weep for them.” He then laid claim to the house of Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA. It was the most beautiful and expensive of the houses. He began to dispose freely of its contents as a king would share out his possessions.
Later, when Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA heard what Abu Jahl had done to his house, he mentioned it to Rasulullah SAW who said:
“Aren’t you satisfied, O Abdullah, with what God has given you instead a house in Paradise?” “Yes, messenger of God,” he replied, and became at peace with himself and completely satisfied.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA had scarcely settled down in Madinah when he had to undergo one of the most testing experiences. He had just begun to taste something of the good and restful life under the sponsorship of the Ansar after going through persecution at the hands of the Quraish when he had to be exposed to the severest test he had ever known in his life and carry out the most difficult assignment since he became a Muslim.
Rasulullah SAW, commissioned eight of his Companions to carry out the first military assignment in Islam. Among them were Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas.
“I appoint as your Commander the one who can best bear hunger and thirst,” said the Prophet and gave the standard to Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA. He was thus the first to be made Amir over a contingent of believers.
Rasulullah SAW gave him precise instructions on the route he should take on the expedition and gave him a letter. Rasulullah SAW commanded Abdullah to read the letter only after two days’ travel. After the expedition had been on its way for two days, Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA looked at the contents of the letter. It said, “When you have read this letter, press on until you come to a place called Nakhlah between Ta’if and Makkah. From there observe the Quraish and gather whatever information you can on them for us.”
“At your command, O Rasulullah,” exclaimed Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA as he finished reading the letter. Then he spoke to his colleagues:
“Rasulullah SAW has commanded me to proceed to Nakhlah to observe the Quraish and gather information on them for him. He has also commanded me not to go further with anyone of you who is against the purpose of this expedition. So whoever desires martyrdom and is in total agreement with this expedition can accompany me. Whoever is not in agreement may turn back without blame.”
“At your command, O Rasulullah,” they all responded. “We shall go with you, Abdullah, wherever Rasulullah has commanded.”
The group continued until they reached Nakhlah and began to move along the mountain passes seeking information on Quraish movements. While they were thus engaged, they saw in the distance a Quraish caravan. There were four men in the caravan Amr ibn alHadrami, Hukm ibn Kaysan, Uthman ibn Abdullah and his brother Mughirah. They were carrying merchandise for the Quraish skins, raisins and other usual Quraish stock in trade.
The Sahabah conferred together. It was the last day of the sacred months. “If we were to kill them,” they agreed, “we would have killed them in the inviolable months. To do so would be to violate the sacredness of this month and expose ourselves to the wrath of all Arabs. If we leave them alone for a day so that the month will be completed, they would have entered the inviolable precincts of Makkah and thus are secure from us.”
They continued consulting until finally they agreed to pounce on the caravan and take whatever merchandise they could as booty. Before long, two of the men were captured and one was killed; the fourth escaped.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and his men took the two prisoners and the caravan on to Madinah. They went to Rasulullah SAW, and informed him about what they had done. Rasulullah SAW was greatly upset and strongly condemned their action.
“By Allah, I did not command you to fight. I only commanded you to gather information on the Quraish and observe their movements.” He granted a reprieve to the two prisoners and he left the caravan and did not take a single item from it.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and his men then knew that they had fallen into disgrace and felt certain that they were ruined because of their disobeying the command of Rasulullah SAW. They began to feel the pressure as their Muslim brothers censured them and avoided them whenever they passed one another. And they would say, “These went against the command of Rasulullah SAW.”
Their discomfiture grew when they learnt that the Quraish had taken the incident as a means to discredit Rasulullah SAW and denounce him among the tribes. The Quraish were saying:
“Muhammad has defiled the sacred month. He has shed blood in it, plundered wealth and captured men.” Imagine the extent of the sadness felt Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and his men at what had happened, more so because of the acute embarrassment they had caused Rasulullah SAW.
They were sorely tormented and the agony weighed heavily on them. Then the revelation of good news that Allah Glorified be He was pleased with what they had done and had sent down revelation to Rasulullah about this matter. Imagine their happiness! People came and embraced them, congratulating them on the good news and reciting to them what had been revealed in the glorious Qur’an about their action.
“They ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Say: Fighting therein is an enormity as well as preventing (people) from the path of God and disbelief in Him. Expelling people from the Masjid al Haram is a greater sin in the eyes of God. Moreover, persecution is greater than killing.”
(Surah al-Baqarah 2: 212).
When these blessed verses were revealed, Rasulullah’s mind was eased. He took the caravan and ransomed the prisoners. He became pleased with Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and his men. Their expedition was certainly a major event in the early life of the Muslim community . . .
The Battle of Badr followed. Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA fought in it and was put to a great test, but a test to which his faith was equal.
During the Battle of Uhud, there is an unforgettable story involving Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and his friend Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas RA concerning an incident that took place during the Battle of Uhud. Let us leave Sa’ad Ibn Waqqas RA to tell the story:
During the battle, Abdullah came to me and said, “Aren’t you making a dua to Allah?” “Yes,” said I. So we moved aside and I prayed, “O Lord, when I meet the enemy, let me meet a man of enormous strength and fury. Then grant me victory over him that I might kill him and acquire spoils from him.” To this my prayer, Abdullah said Amin and then he prayed:
“Let me meet a man of great standing and enormous fury. I shall fight him for Your sake, O Lord, and he shall fight me. He shall take me and cut off my nose and ears and when I meet You on the morrow You will say, “For what were your nose and ear cut off?” And I would reply, “For Your sake and for the sake of Your Prophet.” And then You would say, “You have spoken the truth . . .” Sa’ad continues the story:
The prayer of Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA was better than mine. I saw him at the end of the day. He was killed and mutilated and in fact his nose and his ear were hung on a tree with a thread.
Allah SWT responded to the prayer of Abdullah ibn Jahsh RA and blessed him with martyrdom as He blessed his uncle, the Leader of Martyrs, Hamzah ibn Abdul Muttalib RA. The noble Rasulullah SAW buried them together in a single grave. His pure tears watered the earth and the earth anointed with the fragrance of martyrdom.
Excerpts from Tafsir Ibnu Kathir about – The Nakhlah Event.
The Nakhlah Military Maneuvers and the Ruling on Fighting during the Sacred Months
Ibn Abu Hatim reported that Jundub bin `Abdullah said: Allah’s Messenger assembled a group of men under the command of Abu `Ubaidah bin Jarrah. When he was about to march, he started crying for the thought of missing Allah’s Messenger. Consequently, the Messenger relieved Abu `Ubaidah from command, appointed `Abdullah bin Jahsh RA instead, gave him some written instructions and commanded him not to read the instructions until he reached such and such area. He also said to `Abdullah:
“(Do not compel any of your men to continue marching with you thereafter.)”
When ` Abdullah bin Jahsh RA read the instructions, he recited Istirja` ﴿saying, `Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return’; and refer to (2:156) and said, “I hear and obey Allah and His Rasul.” Abdullah bin Jahsh RA then told his companions the story and read the instructions to them, and two men went back while the rest remained. Soon after, they found Ibn Hadrami (one of the disbelievers of Quraish) and killed him not knowing that that day was in Rajab or Jumadi (where Rajab is the Sacred Month). The polytheists said to the Muslims, “You have committed murder in the Sacred Month.” Allah then revealed:
They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, “Fighting therein is a great (transgression)…”)
Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, who compiled the Sirah (life story of Rasulullah SAW ), related that Ziyad bin `Abdullah Bakka’i said that Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar Al-Madani wrote in his book on the Sirah, “Allah’s Messenger sent `Abdullah bin Jahsh bin Riyab Al-Asadi in Rajab, after Rasulullah SAW came back from the first battle of Badr. Rasulullah SAW sent eight people with him, all from among the Muhajirun and none from the Ansar. Rasulullah SAW also gave him some written instructions and ordered him not to read them until he marched for two days. `Abdullah should then read the instructions and march to implement them, but should not force any of those who were with him to accompany him.
The companions of Abdullah bin Jahsh RA were all from the Muhajirun, from the tribe of Banu `Abd Shams bin `Abd Manaf, there was Abu Hudhaifa bin `Utbah bin Rabi`ah bin `Abd Shams bin `Abd Manaf. From their allies, there was `Abdullah bin Jahsh RA, who was the commander of the army unit, and `Ukkashah bin Mihsan from the tribe of Banu Asad bin Khuzayma. From the tribe of Banu Naufal bin `Abd Manaf, there was `Utbah bin Ghazwan bin Jabir, one of their allies. From the tribe of Banu Zuhrah bin Kilab, there was Saad bin Abu Waqqas RA. From Banu Ka`b, there were their allies: `Adi bin `Amr bin Ar-Rabi`ah not from the tribe of Ibn Wa’il; Waqid bin `Abdullah bin `Abd Manaf bin `Arin bin Tha`labah bin Yarbu` from Banu Tamim; and Khalid bin Bukair from the tribe of Banu Sa`d bin Layth, Suhayl bin Bayda’ from Banu Al-Harith bin Fihr was also among them. Abdullah bin Jahsh marched for two days; he opened and read Rasulullah SAW instructions.
“When you read these instructions march until you set camp at Nakhlah between Makkah and At-Ta’if. There, watch the movements of the caravan of Quraish and collect news about them for us.” When `Abdullah bin Jahsh RA read the document, he said, “I hear and obey.” He then said to his companions, “Rasulullah has commanded me to march forth to Nakhlah to watch the movements of the caravan of Quraish and to inform him about their news. Rasulullah SAW has prohibited me from forcing any of you (to go with me). So, those who seek martyrdom, they should march with me. Those who dislike the idea of martyrdom let them turn back. Surely, I will implement the command of Rasulullah SAW.” He and his companions continued without any of them turning back.
Abdullah bin Jahsh RA entered the Hijaz area (western Arabia) until he reached an area called Buhran, close to Furu`. There, Saad bin Abu Waqqas RA and `Utbah bin Ghazwan RA lost the camel that they were riding in turns, and they went back to search for it while `Abdullah bin Jahsh RA and the rest of his companions continued until they reached Nakhlah. A caravan belonging to the Quraish passed by carrying raisins, food stuff and some trade items for the Quraish. `Amr bin Hadrami, whose name was `Abdullah bin `Abbad, was in the caravan, as well as `Uthman bin `Abdullah bin Al-Mughirah and his brother Naufal bin `Abdullah from the tribe of Makhzum, and Al-Hakam bin Kaysan, a freed slave of Hisham bin Al-Mughirah. When they saw the Companions they were frightened, but when they saw `Ukkashah bin Mihsan their fears subsided, since his head was shaved. They said, “These people seek the `Umrah, so there is no need to fear them.”
The Companions conferred among themselves. That day was the last day in the (sacred) month of Rajab. They said to each other, “By Allah! If you let them pass, they will soon enter the Sacred Area and take refuge in it from you. If you kill them, you will kill them during the Sacred Month.” They at first hesitated and did not like to attack them. They then began encouraging themselves and decided to kill whomever they could among the disbelievers and to confiscate whatever they had. Hence, Waqid bin `Abdullah At-Tamimi shot an arrow at `Amr bin Al-Hadrami and killed him.
`Uthman bin `Abdullah and Al-Hakam bin Kaysan gave themselves up, while Naufal bin `Abdullah was able to outrun them in flight. Later on, `Abdullah bin Jahsh RA and his companions went back to Rasulullah in Al-Madinah with the caravan and the two prisoners. Ibn Ishaq went on: I was told that some members of the family of `Abdullah bin Jahsh RA said that `Abdullah said to his companions: “Rasulullah will have one-fifth of what we have confiscated.” This occurred before Allah required one-fifth for Rasulullah from the war booty. So, Abdullah bin Jahsh RA designated one-fifth of the caravan for Rasulullah SAW and divided the rest among his companions. Ibn Ishaq also stated that at first, when the Sariyah came back to Rasulullah SAW, he said to them:
(I have not commanded you to conduct warfare during the Sacred Month.)
He left the caravan and the two prisoners alone and did not take any share of the war booty.
When Allah’s Messenger did that, the soldiers from the attack were concerned and felt that they were destroyed, and their Muslim brethren criticized them for what they did. The Quraish said that Muhammad and his Companions violated the sanctity of the Sacred Month and shed blood, confiscated property and took prisoners during it. Those who refuse them among the Muslims who remained in Makkah replied that the Muslims had done that during the month of Sha`ban (which is not a sacred month). Meanwhile, the Jews were pleased what has happened to Allah’s Rasul. They said, ` Amr bin Hadrami was killed by Waqid bin `Abdullah: `Amr, means the war has started, Hadrami means the war has come, as for Waqid (bin `Abdullah): the war has raged (using some of the literal meanings of these names to support their fortune-telling!).” But, Allah made all that turn against them.
The people continued talking about this matter, then Allah revealed to His Rasul:
“They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, “Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allah is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.”
This ayat means, `If you had killed during the Sacred Month, they (disbelievers of Quraish) have hindered you from the path of Allah and disbelieved in it. They also prevented you from entering the Sacred Mosque, and expelled you from it, while you are its people,
“A greater (transgression) with Allah than killing whom you killed among them. Also: “and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. Means, trying to force the Muslims to revert from their religion and re-embrace Kufr after they had believed, is worse with Allah than killing.’ Allah said:
“And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islamic Monotheism) if they can.”
So, they will go on fighting you with unrelenting viciousness.
Ibn Ishaq went on: When the Qur’an touched this subject and Allah brought relief to the Muslims instead of the sadness that had befallen them, Allah’s Messenger took possession of the caravan and the two prisoners. The Quraish offered to ransom the two prisoners, `Uthman bin `Abdullah and Hakam bin Kaysan.
Allah’s Messenger said:
“We will not accept your ransom until our two companions return safely. (Meaning Saad bin Abu Waqqas RA and `Utbah bin Ghazwan RA) for we fear for their safety with you. If you kill them, we will kill your people.” Later on, Saad Ibn Abu Waqqas RA and Utbah Ibn Ghazwan RA returned safely and Rasulullah SAW accepted the Quraish’s ransom for their prisoners. As for Al-Hakam bin Kaysan, he became Muslim and his Islam strengthened. Al Hakam bin Kaysan RA remained with Rasulullah SAW until he was martyred during the incident at Bir Mauna (when Rasulullah SAW sent seventy Companions to Najd to teach them Islam, but Banu Sulaim killed them all except two). As for `Uthman bin `Abdullah, he went back to Makkah and died there as a disbeliever.
Ibn Ishaq went on: When Abdullah bin Jahsh RA and his companions were relieved from their depressing thoughts after the Qur’an was revealed about this subject, they sought the reward of the fighters (in Allah’s way). They said, “O Rasulullah! We wish that this incident be considered a battle for us, so that we gain the rewards of the Mujahidin.”
Then, Allah revealed:
“Verily, those who have believed, and those who have emigrated (for Allah’s religion) and have striven hard in the way of Allah, all these hope for Allah’s mercy. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Hence, Allah SWT has greatly elevated their hopes of gaining what they had wished for.