Hazrat Thumamah Ibn Uthal (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)

 

Thumamah Ibn Uthal RA – The First Muslim To Perform Umrah

It has been proven that the best and most effective way of preaching is through the preacher’s own conduct and action rather than his speech or words. This method best exemplified in spreading the message of Islam, especially in sub-Saharan, North Africa and South East Asia. The character of the Muslim men of religion and their trading practices towards the natives. Their etiquettes and good character attracted these natives to enter the fold of Islam on their own free will. In the story of the conversion of our today’s hero we have an interesting testimony to the effectiveness of action and exemplary behavior in preaching.

The companion that we are relating today is about a figure no one on earth more hateful to Rasulullah SAW – a staunch non-believer Thumamah Ibn Uthal. But after his encounter with Rasulullah SAW he declared “Now you are the most beloved one to me.”

In the sixth year after the Hijrah, Rasulullah SAW, may the blessings of God be on him, decided to expand the scope of his mission. He sent eight letters to rulers in the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding areas inviting them to Islam. One of these rulers was Thumamah ibn Uthal. Thumamah ibn Uthal was one of the most powerful Arab rulers in pre-Quranic times. This is not surprising since he was a chieftain of the Banu Hanifah and one of the rulers of al- Yamamah whose word no one dared to challenge or disobey. When Thumamah ibn Uthal received the Rasulullah SAW’s letter, he was consumed by anger and rejected it. Thumamah ibn Uthal refused to listen to the invitation of Truth and goodness. More than that, he felt a strong desire to go and kill Rasulullah SAW and bury his mission with him. Thumamah ibn Uthal waited and waited for a convenient time to carry out his design against Rasulullah SAW until eventually forgetfulness caused him to lose interest. One of his uncles, however, reminded him of his plan, praising what he intended to do.

In the pursuit of his evil design against Rasulullah SAW, Thumamah Ibn Uthal met and killed a group of Rasulullah SAW’s companions. Rasulullah SAW thereupon declared Thumamah Ibn Uthal a wanted man who could lawfully be killed on sight. Not long afterwards, Thumamah Ibn Uthal decided to perform umrah. Thumamah Ibn Uthal wanted to perform tawaf around the Kaabah and sacrifice to the idols there. So Thumamah Ibn Uthal left al-Yamamah for Makkah. As Thumamah Ibn Uthal was passing near Madinah, an incident took place which he had not anticipated. Groups of Muslims were patrolling the districts of Madinah and outlying areas on the lookout for any strangers or anyone intent on causing trouble. One of these groups came upon Thumamah Ibn Uthal and apprehended him but they did not know who he was. They took him to Madinah and tied him to one of the columns in the mosque. They waited for the Prophet himself to question the man and decide what should be done with him. When Rasulullah SAW was about to enter the mosque, he saw Thumamah Ibn Uthal and asked his companions, “Do you know whom you have taken?”

“No, messenger of God,” they replied. “This is Thumamah ibn Uthal al-Hanafi,” he said. “You have done well in capturing him.” Rasulullah SAW then returned home to his family and said, “Get what food you can and send it to Thumamah ibn Uthal.” He then ordered his camel to be milked for him. All this was done before he met Thumamah Ibn Uthal or had spoken to him. Rasulullah SAW then approached Thumamah Ibn Uthal hoping to encourage him to become a Muslim. “What do you have to say for yourself” he asked. “If you want to kill in reprisal,” Thumamah Ibn Uthal replied, “you can have someone of noble blood to kill. If, out of your bounty, you want to forgive, I shall be grateful. If you want money in compensation, I shall give you whatever amount you ask.” Rasulullah SAW then left him for two days, but still personally sent him food and drink and milk from his camel. Rasulullah SAW went back to Thumamah Ibn Uthal and asked, “What do you have to say for yourself” Thumamah Ibn Uthal repeated what he had said the day before. Rasulullah SAW then left and came back to him the following day. “What do you have to say for yourself?” he asked again and Thumamah Ibn Uthal repeated what he had said once more. Then Rasulullah SAW turned to his companions and said, “Set him free.”


Thumamah Ibn Uthal left the mosque of Rasulullah SAW and rode until he came to a palm grove on the outskirts of Madinah near al-Baqi’ (a place of luxuriant vegetation which later became a cemetery for many of Rasulullah SAW’s companions). Thumamah Ibn Uthal watered his camel and washed himself well. Then Thumamah Ibn Uthal turned back and made his way to Rasulullah SAW ‘s mosque. There, he stood before a congregation of Muslims and said: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger.” Thumamah Ibn Uthal then went to Rasulullah SAW, upon whom be peace, and said: “O Muhammad, by Allah, there was never on this earth a face more detestable than yours. Now, yours is the dearest face of all to me.” “I have killed some of your men,” he continued, “I am at your mercy. What will you have done to me?” “There is now no blame on you, Thumamah,” replied Rasulullah SAW. “Becoming a Muslim obliterates past actions and marks a new beginning.” Thumamah Ibn Uthal RA was greatly relieved. His face showed his surprise and joy and he vowed, “By Allah, I shall place my whole self, my sword, and whoever is with me at your service and at the service of your religion.”

“O Rasulullah,” he went on, “when your horsemen captured me I was on my way to perform umrah. What do you think I should do now?” “Go ahead and perform your umrah,” replied Rasulullah SAW, “but perform it according to the laws of Allah and His messenger.” Rasulullah SAW then taught him how to perform umrah according to Islamic rules. Thumamah Ibn Uthal RA left to fulfill his intention. When he reached the valley of Makkah, he began shouting in a loud, resonant voice:

“Labbayk Allakumma labbayk. Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innal hamda wa-n ni’mata laka wa-l mulk Laa shareeka lak. (Here I am at Your command O Lord, Here I am. Here I am. No partner have You. Here I am. Praise, bounty and Dominion belong to You. No partner have You.”) He was thus the first Muslim on the face of the earth to enter Makkah reciting the talbEyah.

The Quraish heard the sound of the talbiyyah and felt both anger and alarm. With drawn swords, they set out towards the voice to punish the one who had thus assaulted their preserve. As they came closer to him, Thumamah ibn Uthal RA raised his voice even higher while reciting the talbiyyah and looked upon them with pride and defiance. One of the Quraish young men was particularly incensed and was about to shoot Thumamah ibn Uthal RA with an arrow when the others grabbed his hand and shouted: “Woe to you! Do you know who this is? He is Thumamah ibn Uthal RA, ruler of al-Yamamah. By Allah, if you should harm him, his people would cut our supplies, with dire consequences for us.” Swords were replaced in their scabbards as the Quraish went up to Thumamah ibn Uthal RA and said: “What’s wrong with you, Thumamah? Have you given in and abandoned your religion and the religion of your forefathers?”


“I have not given in,” he replied, “but I have decided to follow the best religion. I follow the religion of Muhammad. ” Thumamah ibn Uthal RA then went on: “I swear to you by the Lord of this House that after my return to al-Yamamah, no grain of wheat or any of its produce shall reach you until you follow Muhammad.” Under the watchful eyes of the Quraish, Thumamah ibn Uthal RA performed umrah as Rasulullah SAW had instructed him. He dedicated his sacrifice to God alone.

Thumamah ibn Uthal RA returned to his land and ordered his people to withhold supplies from the Quraish. The boycott gradually began to have effect and became more and more stringent. Prices began to rise. Hunger began to bite and there was even fear of death among the Quraish. Thereupon, they wrote to Rasulullah SAW, saying: “Our agreement with you (the treaty of Hudaibiyah) is that you should maintain the bonds of kinship but you have gone against that. You have cut the bonds of kinship. You have killed and caused death through hunger. Thumamah ibn Uthal RA has cut our supplies and inflicted harm on us. Perhaps you would see fit to instruct him to resume sending us what we need.”


Rasulullah SAW immediately sent a messenger instructing Thumamah ibn Uthal RA to lift the boycott and resume supplies to the Quraish. This Thumamah ibn Uthal RA did. Thumamah ibn Uthal RA spent the rest of his life in the service of his religion, abiding by the undertaking he had given to Rasulullah SAW. When Rasulullah SAW died, many Arabs began leaving the religion of Allah in great numbers. Musaylamah, the imposter, began calling the Banu Haniifah to believe in him as a Prophet. Thumamah confronted him and said to his people: “O Banu Haniifah, beware of this grievous matter. There is no light or guidance in it. By God, it will only bring distress and suffering to whoever joins this movement and misfortune even to those who do not join. “O Banu Haniifah, two prophets do not come at the same time and there shall be no Prophet after Muhammad and no Prophet to share in his mission.”

He then read out to them the following verses of the Qur’an: “Ha Mim. The revelation of this Book is from God the Almighty, the Knowing. He forgives sins and accepts repentance. He is severe in punishment and has a long reach. There is no god except Him. To Him is the journey’s end.” (Surah Ghafir; verses 1-3). “Can you compare these words of God with the utterings of Musaylamah?” he asked. He then gathered together all those who had remained in Islam and began to wage a jihad against the apostates and to make the words of God supreme. The loyal Muslims of Banu Haniifah needed additional help to stand against the armies of Musaylamah. Their arduous task was completed by the forces dispatched by Caliph Saidina Abu Bakr Al Sidiq RA but at the cost of many a Muslim life.


The worth of a sincere influential leader of his community cannot be underestimated.  Rasulullah SAW was well aware of this and thus treated Thumamah ibn Uthal RA well when he was in captivity.  He was obviously guided by the Quranic verse:

 “Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!” [41:34].

Thumamah ibn Uthal RA used his position of strength and advantage to show his Islam openly.  He knew that the Quraish could not harm him.  Just like the companion Umar ibn al-Khattab openly announcing his Islam, Thumamah ibn Uthal RA  also openly showed the correct way of doing ‘Umrah and was the first Muslim to recite the Talbiyyah openly and clearly in Makkah despite the presence of the idols and being watched by the Quraish leaders.  Thumamah ibn Uthal RA showed us that the Muslim should use his strength and position of advantage to promote and benefit Islam.

Thumamah ibn Uthal RA showed the true meaning of Shahadah when he vowed, “By Allah, I shall place my whole self, my sword, and whoever is with me at your service and at the service of your religion.”  Thumamah ibn Uthal RA was true to this promise when faced with the trying times after the death of the Prophet SAW.

Although he was not among the early Companions and did not participate in the major battles of Badr, Uhud and Ahzab, Thumamah ibn Uthal RA embraced Islam before the conquest of Makkah.  This qualifies him for the special position among the believers.

 “Not equal among you are those who spent (freely) and fought, before the Victory, (with those who did so later). Those are higher in rank than those who spent (freely) and fought afterwards. But to all has Allah promised a goodly (reward). And Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.” [57:10].  

Thumamah ibn Uthal RA life as a Muslim had a great impact upon the establishment and spread of Islam in his region.

Excerpt about Thumamah ibn Uthal RA taken from Companions of The Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid.

Selected Hadiths Narrated and Attributed by Thumamah Ibn Uthal RA

Found In: Sunan An-Nasai Chapter No: 8, The Book of the Masjids

Hadith no: 713 

Narrated: Said bin Abi Said

that he heard Abu Hurairah say: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) sent some horsemen toward Najd, and they brought back a man from Banu Hanifah who was called Thumamah bin Uthal, the chief of the people of Al-Yamamah. Then he was tied to one of the pillars of the Masjid.” (Sahih)

Relevance: 13.7403

Found In: Sunan An-Nasai Chapter No: 8, The Book of the Masjids

Hadith no: 713 

Narrated: Said bin Abi Said

that he heard Abu Hurairah say: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) sent some horsemen toward Najd, and they brought back a man from Banu Haniifah who was called Thumamah bin Uthal, the chief of the people of Al-Yamamah. Then he was tied to one of the pillars of the Masjid.” (Sahih)

Relevance: 25.7102

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 8, Prayers (Salat)

Hadith no: 458 

Narrated: Abu Hurairah

Allah’s Apostle sent some horse men to Najd and they brought a man called Thumamah bin Uthal from Bani Haniifah. They fastened him to one of the pillars of the mosque.

Relevance: 12.9279

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 43, Quarrels

Hadith no: 612

Narrated: Abu Hurairah

The Prophet (SAW) sent some horsemen to Najd and they arrested and brought a man called Thumamah bin Uthal from the tribe of Bani Haniifah, and they fastened him to one of the pillars of the Mosque.

Relevance: 12.7998

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 8, Prayers (Salat)

Hadith no: 451 

Narrated: Abu Hurairah

The Prophet sent some horsemen to Najd and they brought a man called Thumamah bin Uthal from Bani Haniifah. They fastened him to one of the pillars of the mosque. The Prophet came and ordered them to release him. He went to a (garden of) date-palms near the mosque, took a bath and entered the, mosque again and said, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah an Muhammad is His Apostle (i.e. he embraced Islam).”

Relevance: 10.7703

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 43, Quarrels

Hadith no: 611 

Narrated: Abu Hurairah

Allah’s Apostle (SAW) sent horsemen to Najd and they arrested and brought a man called Thumamah bin Uthal, the chief of Yamamah, and they fastened him to one of the pillars of the Mosque. When Allah’s Apostle (SAW) came up to him; he asked, “What have you to say, O Thumamah?” He replied, “I have good news, O Muhammad!” Abu Hurairah narrated the whole narration which ended with the order of the Prophet (SAW) “Release him!”

Relevance: 10.5928

Found In: Sunan An-Nasai Chapter No: 1, The Book of Purification

Hadith no: 189 

Narrated: Abu Hurairah

“Thumamah bin Uthal Al-Hanafi went to fetch some water that was near the Masjid and performed Ghusl, then he entered the Masjid and said: ‘Ashhadu an la ila ha ill-Allah wa Ashhadu Anna Muhammad (SAW) an ‘abduhu wa Rasuluh (I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His slave and Messenger), O Muhammad (SAW), by Allah! There was no face on the face of the Earth that was more hateful to me than your face, but now your face has become the most beloved of all faces to me. Your cavalry captured me and I want to perform ‘Umrah. What do you think? The Prophet (saw) gave him glad tidings and told him to perform ‘Umrah.” (Sahih)

Relevance: 8.6494

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