Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) is well known in the books of seerah as “The Disciple” of the Prophet (Pbuh). This title was given to him by Prophet (pbuh) himself. Let us learn about this great companion who served Islam with this life.
The Quraish tribe was comprised of several clans and the most prominent clan among them was the family of Bani Hashim. This clan had more than one religious and worldly function during the pre Islamic period. It was notable and noble both in family lineage and position amongst the clans and tribes that inhabited Mecca. The Prophet (pbuh) belonged to this clan.
Safiyah bint Abdul Muttalib, who belonged to this high-class family, finally married the notable man whom she loved and admired. She dreamt for a long time to have a son that would add to her happiness. Days were passing very slowly, while she was waning for the baby to come to this life. The bride felt she was coming closer to the day when she would be a mother.
Within the society of the Quraish, as well as other societies in the Arabian Peninsula, the household that had more male offspring was given more esteem.
They felt that such boys, later on as youth, would be the ones who would protect the tribe and give the family dignity and honor.
Nine months later and for the good fortune of Safiyah, she gave birth to her son. She named him Az-Zubair. From the first minute, she gave him all the care and affection that would make him a man of notable rank among his peers. The baby grew day by day and the eyes of his mother followed his steps wherever he went. Like any other mother, she considered him a piece of herself and looked at him with hope and dreams as the young man who would give her a lofty position among the women of her society.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) became Orphan at young age
As tribes during those ancient days used to invade and be invaded by other tribes and as wars were normally waged for trivial reasons, it was ordinary for a man like Al-Awwam (Az-Zubair’s father) to spend the first half of the day with his family and to become a dead body under the earth in the second half of the day. All of a sudden, Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) was left an orphan under the custody of his mother. His father had been killed in a battle among the tribes of Arabia that left nothing for many households other than mourning wives and miserable orphans.
After losing her husband, Az-Zubair’s mother felt how much life was hard on her. Hence she was very keen to have recompense in her son. She ordered the boy to be trained how to use his sword and spear and how to become a man of dignity. She was very hard on him. She even beat him now and then. When she was asked why she beat him, she replied that she was doing so to make him a real man. Safiyah observed her son grow day by day. She felt very happy to learn that her son had quarreled with an adult man and had broken that man’s arm. She was very proud to have a strong son.
The coming of Monotheism
Az-Zubair grew into a strong and handsome young man. He enjoyed all the dignity and reputation that his horsemanship gave him amongst his tribesmen. He enjoyed his time with his peers. His main concern was to spend as much as he could of his time hunting and training with his sword and spear.
In addition to idolatry and setting up partners with Allah, all the people of Mecca indulged in vices that made their life corrupt and empty of any sign of guidance from heaven. Injustices overwhelmed their acts and made the relations between the powerful and the weak tend to be tense most of the time.
In these bad conditions that prevailed in Mecca and the world in general, Muhammad bin Abdullah was sent by Allah to preach the message of Islam and the chiefs of the Quraish were against the message of Islam. In spite of all their cruelty, the Prophet (pbuh) invited them to accept Islam to reform their society and to save them from the punishment of Allah on the Day of Judgment. He was very merciful toward them. Although they insulted him and made his mission very difficult, he exercised patience with them. He and his few followers stood fast in the face of torture and oppression that the Quraish inflicted on them. Neither the Prophet (pbuh) nor any of his followers were violent against their oppressors.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) receives the message of Islam
Az-Zubair (Muhammad’s cousin) saw all the agonies that the Muslims were undergoing. Although he was too young, he was sensible enough to understand what the principles of Islam meant. He, among others, listened carefully to the Prophet (pbuh) and decided to adopt the new religion as a way of life.
Even before the advent of Islam, Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) was well aware of the bad condition of the people in Mecca. He felt inside himself that some sort of guidance should come to change the corrupt society of the Arabs.
On a dark night, Az-Zubair isolated himself and began thinking of those a few people who followed the new religion. He saw how much they suffered for no reason but because they held fast to their faith. The guidance that came from up high had touched his heart. He knew how much Muhammad was honest. His mother had told him before that her nephew was famous for his truthfulness. However, after Muhammad proclaimed Islam, she extremely opposed him. Conflicting thoughts tore his mind. He could not figure a way out of this inner conflict.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) kept the whole night awake. The dawn was about to break and the gentle breeze of early morning gave him new hopes. He thought that it was better to know more about the new religion from the closest man to the Prophet (pbuh). He left his home and went to Abu Bakr’s house.
Abu Bakr (ra) had already accepted Islam without any hesitation from the first moment the Prophet (pbuh) called him to be a Muslim. Abu Bakr told Az-Zubair that Muhammad was a true Messenger from Allah. He explained to him the principles of Islam and urged him to follow the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh). Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) became convinced that Islam was the solution to all the problems that his society was undergoing. He immediately expressed his interest to meet the Prophet (pbuh) and embrace Islam.
His role in defending Islam
Abu Bakr (ra) immediately took the young man to the Prophet’s house. There, Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) declared that he accepted Islam. He was fifteen years old at that time. He was the fifth person to accept Islam. He pledged to defend his faith to the last moment of his life.
Day after day, the Quraish added to their oppression of the Muslims. Az-Zubair kept his acceptance of Islam secret. However, he could not stand aggression against the followers of the new religion.
While the chiefs of the Quraish were sitting near the Kabah mocking the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers, a young man approached them crying. He began shouting that Az-Zubair had beaten up his father and had broken his arm. The young man added: “He was about to kill my father.” He urged the chiefs of the Quraish to stop the orphan.
The chiefs of the Quraish asked the young man about the reason that made Az-Zubair beat his father. He explained: “It was because of the difference of religion. My father had said something bad about Muhammad and Islam. Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) was angry to hear such insults because he had already accepted Islam.
He beat my father and was about to kill him.”
Oppression and torture
Az-Zubair’s uncle and mother tried their best to make him apologize for what they considered as misconduct. However, Az-Zubair did not even pay any attention to their threats. They urged him to abandon the new faith but he never hesitated to declare his steadfast clinging to his religion. He also called them to embrace Islam as he had done.
His mother was very hard on him to make him recant. His uncle used to wrap him with a mat and put him in smoke to suffocate him so as to make him go back to idolatry.
In spite of all hardships, Az-Zubair (ra) kept -steadfast to his belief. The more they added to his punishment, the more he held fast to his faith.
He saw no difference between himself and any other Muslim subjected to pressure and agonies that would allow him to abandon his religion. Rather, he considered .himself fortunate to be treated by pagans in this harsh way. He knew that such hardships would bring him closer to Allah and make his reward on the Day of Judgment greater.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) migrates for Islam
The Prophet (pbuh) and the few early Muslims met unbearable hardships in Mecca. They were oppressed by the Quraish to the extent that they had no chance even to worship Allah or live in peace. Muslims were mostly weak people and slaves. They had nobody to support them against the wave of oppression they were facing in Mecca.
The Muslims complained to the Prophet (pbuh), they felt that there was no choice but to leave the city or to face death. The Prophet (pbuh) felt very sad for their condition but he had no power to protect them or himself against the oppression of the Quraish. Therefore, the Prophet (pbuh) asked his Companions to leave to Abyssinia. He told them that land was ruled by a just and merciful Emperor.
They would receive good treatment under his rule.
Leaving the Homeland
Az-Zubair and many other Muslims left Mecca secretly to Abyssinia. When they arrived there they found the people very nice to them. They received good treatment and lived in peace. They could worship Allah and practice their religion in the way ordained by Allah.
When the Muslims felt secure and protected under the care of the Emperor, they found out that an opponent of the Emperor had revolted against him. The Muslims were afraid that the rebel might seize power and overcome the Emperor. They prayed to Allah to give victory to the Emperor.
The Emperor had to fight a big battle against his foe. The Muslims were very anxious to know the result of the battle which was about to take place behind the Nile river. They asked Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) to go to the scene of the battle and bring them news. Az-Zubair (ra) made a float and swam to where the battle was taking place. He saw that the Emperor had defeated his opponent and came back to his fellow Muslims with this good news. The migrants were very happy for the Emperor to defeat his enemy.
Plots against the Migrants
The chiefs of the Quraish felt that they had lost control over the Muslims. They were very angry to see the Muslims living in peace in Abyssinia. They did not like the Muslims to escape their oppression and torture.
Therefore, they decided to send an envoy to the Emperor asking him to surrender the migrants back to them. They sent two envoys with gifts to the Emperor pleading him to dismiss the migrants out of his country and send them back to Mecca. The envoys tried to deceive the Emperor. They told him that the migrants said bad things about Jesus Christ. The Emperor was very wise and just. He wanted the migrants to give their testimony. He knew that the religion of these migrants was close to his religion.
The leader of the migrants, Ja’far bin Abi Talib (ra) and his fellow Muslims appeared before the Emperor. He advanced toward the Emperor and said:
“O Emperor! We were worshipers of hand carved idols. We treated each other unjustly. A man from amongst us told us that he had been sent by Allah to take us out of the gloom of ignorance to the light of Islam. We accepted his call and believed in what he said. Our people treated us very badly. Therefore, we sought refuge in your land for we know you are just and treat your guests nicely.”
The Emperor was convinced that the principles brought by Islam were a continuation of the message of previous Prophets to humanly. However, the two envoys told the Emperor that the Muslims had abandoned the religion of their forefathers. They did not follow Christianity or any other known religion and they even said bad things about Jesus Christ.
The Emperor ordered Ja’far (ra) to tell him what they believed about Jesus. Ja’far (ra) told the Emperor that they believed that Jesus was a messenger from and a servant of Allah, that he was the son of Maryam the Virgin and that his birth was a miracle.
The Emperor listened to Ja’far (ra) very carefully.
As Ja’far was reciting Ayat (Verses) of the Qur’an from Surah Maryam; the eyes of the Emperor were filled with tears. He told the men around him that the things Ja’far said about Jesus were the same as what Jesus said about himself.
He ordered the gifts brought by the delegation of the Quraish to be given back to them and dismissed them. He told them that he would never surrender the Muslims to them. He turned his face toward the Muslims and told them that they were free to live in his land and to worship Allah as they liked.
The chiefs of the Quraish were disappointed to know that the Emperor of Abyssinia took the side of the Muslims. However, they changed their plots. They spread rumors here and there that they had concluded an agreement with the Prophet (pbuh) and that they would not challenge the Muslims. Some migrants believed the rumors and returned to Mecca. However, they found out that this news was false. Some of them were captured by the Quraish but others escaped again and returned to Abyssinia.
The Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims who stayed in Mecca received all kinds of oppression by the Quraish. However, the Prophetjs kept proclaiming the message of Islam to members of tribes who came to Mecca as pilgrims. In the beginning, all attempts to have a tribe to support the Muslims and protect them against oppression failed. Most of the tribes living in the suburbs of Mecca were afraid to follow the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) or provide any help to the Muslims lest the Quraish wage war with them.
Islam prevails in Medina
In his efforts of calling people to Islam, the Prophet (pbuh) met some pilgrims from a town four hundred kilometers away from Mecca called Yathrib. These people had already heard of the close appearance of a new Prophet (pbuh) in Arabia. The Jews who were living in the suburbs of Yathrib used to threaten them that a new Prophet (pbuh) would appear, that they would follow and support him and that they would conquer the Arabs. The pilgrims from Yathrib kept this threat in mind. When they heard of the Prophet (pbuh), they met him and listened to his preaching. They were finally convinced that the man was a real Messenger from Allah and that it was better for them to accept Islam.
The few men accepted Islam and promised the Prophet (pbuh) to announce it in Yathrib. They also agreed with the Prophet (pbuh) to come next year to make a pledge of protection of Islam and Muslims. Some seventy men and women came to Mecca the following year and pledged to support the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions.
With the increase of hardships on the Muslims, the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions had no other option but to leave Mecca to Yathrib. The Prophet (pbuh) instructed his companions to migrate to Yathrib secretly. When he was sure that no weak Muslims remained in Mecca, the Prophet (pbuh) and his closest Companion, Abu Bakr (ra), also left Mecca secretly.
Az-Zubair joins his fellow Muslims
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) and his companions in Abyssinia received news that the Muslims had finally found refuge in Medina. Therefore, they left to Al Madinah to join in building the new state of Islam. Upon arriving in Medina, Az-Zubair (ra) discovered that his mother had already accepted Islam and migrated with the other Muslims. He was so happy to meet the Prophet (pbuh) and his mother under the banner of Islam.
Az-Zubair (ra) settled with his wife in Medina. They both shared with other Muslims, both Migrants and Supporters, in establishing foundations for the strong Islamic State.
Wars against Medina
No sooner did the Muslims settle in Medina than pagans started attempts to tumble the new state. At the same time, they were permitted by Allah to fight the pagans and spread the light of Islam around Medina. The Muslims began patrolling outside Medina for security purposes. They received the news that a caravan belonging to the Quraish was bound to Mecca back from Damascus nearby Medina. They went it to check it. The leader of the caravan, Abu Sufyan, knew of the Muslims’ plans and changed his direction to escape their catch.
As a caution, he sent a messenger to Mecca to warn the Quraish and get their help to save the caravan. The chief’s of Quraish got very angry to hear this news. They prepared an army of one thousand fully armed men. They wanted to destroy the new state and put an end to the threats of the Muslims. Although they were assured by Abu Sufyan that the caravan was safe and intact and that there was no need to engage in combat and bloodshed, they were driven by their arrogance and insisted on proceeding in their evil effort.
The Muslims, on the other side, barely could gather three hundred and thirteen poorly armed men. However, their trust in Allah was very strong. They knew that they were right and the pagans were wrong.
Both armies met at a place near to Medina called Badr. The Muslims reached the place before the pagans. They ruined all sources of water that the Quraish army might use and kept some basins under their protection for their own use.
Soon fighting started very fiercely. Although the Muslims were outnumbered by the pagans, they defeated them in no time. Seventy men from the Quraish were killed and a similar number caught as prisoners of war.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) shared in the first battle waged against Islam. He did his best to protect his faith and his state. He was young, strong and eager to put an end to the tyranny of the pagans.
A year later, the Quraish wanted to take revenge for the big blow they received at Badr. They gathered three thousand fighters and headed toward Medina with false hopes of putting an end to Islam and the Muslims.
Both the Muslim and pagan armies met at a place near to Medina called Uhud Mount. Hypocrites, led by Abdullah bin Ubay, played a major role in weakening the Muslim army. A third of the Muslim army had withdrawn from the battle scene before the battle started. However, the Muslims fought with zeal and steadfast faith.
At the beginning of the battle they were defeating the pagan army. The archers, whom the Prophet (pbuh) positioned over a small hill near the battle scene to protect the backs of the Muslim army, thought that it was a final defeat. As a result, they disobeyed the orders of their leader, went down the hill and began collecting war booty. The horsemen of the Quraish took the chance and attacked the Muslim army from behind. Hence, they turned the defeat to a virtual victory. They left the Muslim army in a mess.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) was a Brave Fighter
Az-Zubair (ra) and some other Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) kept steadfast and protected the Prophet (pbuh) against attempts to kill him. He stood in the middle of the battlefield shooting arrows at the pagan fighters until the battle was over. His uncle Hamza (ra) was killed in the battle and his body was mutilated. His mother came to see the body of her brother, but the Prophet (pbuh) told him to stop her. She was a true Muslim and told her son that she knew that her brother’s body was deformed by the pagans and that she would keep patient for she knew that her brother’s soul would go to paradise.
As the Quraish could not achieve their intentions, they started preparing for another final battle. They held a pact against Islam and the Muslims and gathered ten thousand soldiers from all over Arabia. They again headed toward Medina.
Courage in Times of Hardships
Muslims, on the other hand, felt the danger and discussed the best way to defend their town and people. Finally, a Muslim from Persia named Salman Al-Farsi (ra) devised a plan that would provide protection for the town. He advised the Muslims to dig a trench around the town so as to prevent the pagans from entering the town. The Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions welcomed the idea and began working on the trench.
Az-Zubair (ra) joined hands with his fellow Muslims in digging the trench. He was working all the daylong to complete the job before the pagan army arrived in Medina. Finally, he and his brothers completed the work and prepared themselves to fight the advancing army. The Jews, being jealous to see Islam spread so swiftly and gain power every day, promised the pagans to help them against the Muslims. Hence, the Muslims were stuck in the middle between the two forces.
The pagans arrived at the outskirts of Medina. To their utmost surprise, they were stopped by the trench and the Muslim archers were ready to shoot down any trespasser. The Prophet (pbuh) sent an envoy to the Jews asking them help as they had already held a treaty with Muslims to help each other at the times of crisis. However, the Jews treated the envoy very rudely and told him that they had broken their covenants.
The pagan army kept surrounding Medina for about one month. The Muslim children, women and elderly were kept inside a fenced placed lest the Jews or pagans cause harm to them. Safiya (ra), Az-Zubair’s mother, was at that place. She saw a Jew roaming around the place. She was afraid that he might come in and attack any of them. She took a long stick, surprised the Jew and killed him.
The pagan army lost all hope of penetrating the trench. Their leader, Abu Sufyan, ordered them to leave. Az-Zubair (ra) and his fellow Muslims were very happy to see the high wind blow through the pagan army’s tents. He knew it was a help from Allah to the Muslims.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) – The Disciple of Prophet (pbuh)
The Prophet (pbuh) wanted to get news about the enemy. He inquired who would be the man to go to their tents in the night and come back with news. Az-Zubair (ra) expressed his wish to be the man. The Prophet (pbuh) repeated his request and Az-Zubair (ra), was the man who volunteered himself for the mission. The third time the Prophet (pbuh) permitted him to perform the task and said:
“Every Prophet (pbuh) has a disciple. My disciple is Az-Zubair.”
Now the Muslims had to settle their case with the deceiving Jews (Bani Quraizah). They besieged their homes and forced them to surrender. Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) and Ali bin Abi Talib climbed the walls of their fortress and opened the gates for the Muslims to capture it. The Bani Quraizah men were sentenced to death and their women and children were taken as slaves.
That was the just reward for their deception and breaking of promises. Az-Zubair’s wife added to Az-Zubair’s happiness when she gave birth to a child whom they named Abdullah. Abdullah was to become one of the great Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and sacrifice his life for the cause of Islam. He was the first boy born to the Muslims in Medina.
The Brave Soldier
Day after day, Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) and his brothers in Islam established a fairly strong state in Medina with the help of Allah and under the leadership of the Prophet ss. They started inviting other tribes to Islam and deterring any tribe that tried to assault them.
Visit to the Holy Land
Az-Zubair (ra) and his fellow Muslims were informed by the Prophet (pbuh) that they should perform pilgrimage. The Prophet (pbuh) and many of his companions marched to Mecca barely armed. The Quraish received news of the Muslims march.
They asked some of their horsemen to prevent the Muslims from entering Mecca. The Muslims camped at a place called Hudaybiya. The chiefs of the Quraish sent their envoys to the Prophet to inquire about the reason they came to Mecca. They knew that the Muslims wanted to perform pilgrimage peacefully. The pagans denied the Muslims this chance. They negotiated an agreement with the Prophet (pbuh) to stop war for ten years and to permit the Muslims to perform pilgrimage the coming year.
However, the Quraish failed to respect their word. They attacked some of the Muslims allies and killed as many as forty of them. The Prophet (pbuh) knew of the Quraish’s breach of the agreement and decided to conquer Mecca. It was a big stride forward. The Muslims prepared themselves to conquer the city and put an end to idolatry.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) led the left wing of the army and marched to Mecca under the leadership of the Prophet (pbuh). Ten thousand Muslims were ready to fight their last battle against the idolaters in Arabia. Before conquering the city, the Prophet (pbuh) announced that the Muslims did not wish to shed any blood. Hence, he declared that if no resistance was made, all Meccans would be safe and secure. Upon entering Mecca, Az-Zubair (ra) advanced toward the Prophet (pbuh) and cleaned dust from the Prophet’s blessed face.
Mercy of Islam
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra)longed much to revenge himself on those who oppressed him and his brothers in Islam. However, he had no choice but to obey the orders of the Prophet (pbuh). He was witness to the merciful position of the Prophet (pbuh) toward the pagans. As Muslims cleaned the vicinity of the Ka ‘bah from idols, the Prophet (pbuh) stood on a high place and inquired how the Quraish expected he would treat them. They all replied that they knew he would be merciful to them. He assured them and told them that they were free and no harm would befall them.
Expansion over Arabia
As the Muslims finished with their job in Mecca, they received news that Hawazen tribe in Taif were preparing to fight against them. The Prophet (pbuh) commanded his Companions to march to Ta’if and conquer Hawazen. The Muslims felt that they had become very strong. Some of them said:
“No one Oil earth can defeat us from now on.”
As they met the army of Hawazen, many of them fled from the battle scene. Only the Prophet (pbuh), Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) and a few other Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) kept their positions and bravely fought a big battle. The leader of Hawazen saw a tall man penetrating their rows. He inquired who that man was. They told him that the man was Az-Zubair (ra). He praised him and asked his men to show bravery. Finally, the Muslims, thanks to the steadfast position taken by the Prophet (pbuh) and his sincere Companions, returned to the battlefield and defeated their enemy.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) continued his struggle for the cause of Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) received news that the Romans in Syria were angry to know that Muslims conquered all of Arabia. They were intent to invade the Islamic State. The Prophet (pbuh) ordered his Companions to march to Jordan before the Romans entered Arabia. Three thousand soldiers marched to Muta, a place on the northern borders of Arabia. Az-Zubair (ra) fought a big battle and with his fellow Muslims showed the Romans how strong the Muslims had become.
He was also in the front lines when the Prophet (pbuh) commanded his Companions to march to the north borders of Arabia to deter the Romans again. He shared in Tabuk excursion in the hot season of summer and performed his duties to the best of his ability.
When the Prophet ~ passed away, Az-Zubair (ra) felt very sad to lose his leader and teacher. However, he continued his efforts to spread the message of Islam and implement the teachings of the leader.
Steadfast to the End
Abu Bakr (ra) was elected as Caliph (ruler) immediately after the Prophet (pbuh) had passed away. Arabs around Mecca and remote areas revolted against the Muslims and apostated. Az-Zubair (ra) was one of the leaders who subdued the apostates and brought order again to the Islamic state. He fought all those who attempted to stop the light of Allah.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) considered himself a soldier of Islam.
He always joined the Mus1im army to fight against disbelievers. He shared in the Yarmuk battle against the Romans. The Muslim army defeated the Romans and liberated Syria.
One man Equal to one thousand Men
Az-Zubair (ra) was well known for his courage and skill in wars. He used his sword for the support of Islam in case there had been any aggression against Islam or the Muslims. After the death of Abu Bakr (ra), Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) was selected as Caliph. He gave his orders to Amr bin Al-Aas (ra) to conquer Egypt. The Romans in Egypt were oppressing the people. He was told by the Caliph that his mission was to liberate it from their unjust rule. After conquering most part of Egypt, Amr bin Al-Aas (ra) asked the Caliph to send him supplies and support. Umar (ra) sent four men to him, one of whom was Az-Zubair (ra). He told him that these four men were equal to four thousand soldiers.
Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) chose Az-Zubair (ra) as one of the six persons who would possibly be the next Caliph after him. This selection shows the rank that Az-Zubair (ra) had among the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). All the senior Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) consulted among themselves and finally selected Usman bin Affan (ra) to be the Caliph. Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra), continued his endeavors under the rule of Usman (ra) in spreading the light of Islam. He joined the Muslim army wherever it was dispatched to liberate human beings from the worship of false deities and turn them to the worship of the One Allah.
Az-Zubair bin Al-Awwarn (ra), was distinct among the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) for his good character and true loyalty to the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam. He was one of the early Muslims in Mecca. He was also one of the Companions whom the Prophet (pbuh) foretold would be in Paradise on the Day of Judgment. Foremost, he was the disciple of the Prophet (pbuh).
Defending his leader and teacher
Az-Zubair (ra) was very loyal to the Prophet (pbuh).
Once he heard rumors that the pagans had killed the Prophet (pbuh). He took his sword and wanted to fight them. However, when he saw the Prophet (pbuh), alive, he hugged him and was extremely happy. The Prophet (pbuh), in return, took off his cloak and gave it to Az-Zubair (ra) The angel Gabriel, told the Prophet (pbuh) that Allah was pleased to see Az-Zubair (ra) act with zeal in defending the Prophet (pbuh).
Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) described Az Zubair (ra), as one of the pillars of Islam. He was sincerely devoted to the cause of Islam. A friend of Az-Zubair told that once he saw the body of Az-Zubair (ra), with many scars; all due to cuts made by swords as a result of fighting in the· way of Allah.
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) always kept close to the Prophet (pbuh). Even when the Prophet (pbuh) was sleeping, he kept beside him to protect him against enemies. The Prophet (pbuh) once slept and Az-Zubair sat beside him to keep flies away from his blessed face. The Prophet (pbuh) woke up and saw Az-Zubair using a fan to expel flies from his face. He told Az-Zubair that he would be with Az-Zubair, on the Day of Judgment to protect him against the sparks of Hell fire.
Fear from Hellfire
It is known that many of the Prophet’s sayings were reported to us by his Companions. They have memorized nearly every word he preached to them in various fields of life and Shari ‘ah (Islamic law). Az-Zubair always kept close to the Prophet (pbuh) and memorized many of Ahadith (Prophet’s sayings).
However, he only reported a very few number of the Prophet’s sayings. As he was very close to the Prophet (pbuh) his son
Abdullah exclaimed why his father should not report the Prophet’s sayings. Az-Zubair told his son that he was afraid he might tell something wrong. He always recalled the Prophet (pbuh) warning:
“Anyone who tells lies when he reports my sayings, his position will be in hellfire.”
Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) never feared to become indebted for he knew that Allah would be on his side. He told his son that whenever he felt the burden of debts, he should pray to the Lord to pay his debt.
Immediately after Usman bin Affan (ra) was killed by the rebels, Az-Zubair and Talha (ra) felt that the Islamic state would be disrupted if no Caliph is selected to control the conditions of the state. They, with many other senior Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) came to Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) and insisted on him to take over.
After several attempts, Ali (pbuh) accepted their proposal. Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) came back to Mecca. He met Aishah, the Prophet’s wife. She told him that the murderers of Usman (ra) should be killed. Az-Zubair (ra) was convinced that a murderer should, according to Islamic Law, be killed. He agreed with her and both wanted Ali (pbuh) to accept their proposal.
However, Ali did not like to establish feuding among the Muslims in such a critical situation. He did not accept their proposal. Az-Zubair (ra) and many others insisted on having Usman’s killers killed.
Accepting Truth when it is Clear
A war was about to break between Ali and Az-Zubair because Ali did not agree to his point of view that the rebels should be brought to justice. Ali wanted Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) and others to wait until the turmoil was over in order that he could distinguish the murderers.
A war was about to break and both men met face to face again. Ali (ra) asked Az-Zubair to meet together to discuss the situation and find out a solution instead of fighting. Ali (ra) met Az-Zubair (ra) and reminded him of past days when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. He said:
“Don’t you remember when the Prophet (pbuh) was walking with you and met you? Didn’t he tell you that you will unjustly fight against me?”
Az-Zubair (ra) immediately left the battle scene and went back to Mecca. He did not like to fight against Ali (ra) because he remembered those words told him by the Prophet (pbuh); However, the traitors did not like such an act. They followed him on the way to Mecca and killed him while he was praying.
The killers thought that they had done something good. They came to Ali (ra) with the something good. They came to Ali with the news of Az-Zubair, death. Ali (ra) felt very sad for the death of Az Zubair bin Al Awwam (ra) and prayed to Allah to punish those who killed him. Az-Zubair (ra) was buried on the way from lraq to Mecca. He said:
“May Allah gather us together on Doomsday in Paradise.”
This was the end of the noble man who spent all his life fighting for the cause of Allah. May Allah bestow his mercy on Az-Zubair, for his services to Islam and the Muslims.
The life and martyrdom of Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam
His full name was Abu ‘Abdullah Zubair ibn ‘Awwam ibn Khuwaylid ibn Asad ibn ‘Abdul ‘Uzza ibn Qusayy ibn Kilab al Qurashi al Asadi.
He shared a common ancestor with Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Qusayy, and he was the disciple of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the son of his paternal aunt. His mother was Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib. He was one of the ten whom Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam testified would be in paradise and one of the members of the consultative committee.
He became Muslim when he was a young man, at the age of sixteen, and he was tortured because of that. It was narrated that Zubair’s paternal uncle used to roll him up in a mat and hang it up, and then he would light a fire underneath so that the smoke would reach him. His uncle would tell him to go back to disbelief, but Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu would say:
I will never go back to disbelief.
He never missed any campaign that was led by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
The first one to unsheathe his sword for the sake of Allah
It was narrated that Sa’id ibn al Musayyab said:
The first one to unsheathe his sword for the sake of Allah was Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam. While Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam was taking a nap, he heard someone shouting that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had been killed, so he came out of his house unsheathing and brandishing his sword. He was met head-on by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who said: “What is the matter, O Zubair?” He said: “I heard that you had been killed.” Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “What were you going to do?” He said: “By Allah, I was going to take revenge on all the people of Makkah.” Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam prayed for good for him.
I am certain that the Rasul’s prayer for him will not be overlooked by Allah.
His migration to Abyssinia
When the persecution of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Sahabah by Quraysh grew intense, he suggested to them that they should migrate to Abyssinia, where they could live under care of the Negus, the just king. They stayed with him in the best land and under the best care, and they remained there safe and secure until an Abyssinian man came to fight Negus for his kingdom. The Muslims grieved deeply; they were afraid that this new man would prevail and would not recognise the virtue and status of the pure Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
The Sahabah wanted to find out about the conflict that was taking place between the Negus and that man on the other side of the Nile. Umm Salamah radiya Llahu ‘anha said:
The Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Who will go out to see the battle and bring back news?” Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam said: “I will.” They said: “You?”, because he was the youngest of the people. They inflated a water skin for him, and he put it under his chest; then he swam across until he reached that point of the Nile where the people had met (in battle). He continued until he reached them. Meanwhile we prayed to Allah to give Negus victory over his enemy and to establish him in his own country. By Allah, we were doing that, waiting for what might happen, when Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu came running, waving his garment and saying: “Be of good cheer. Negus has prevailed, and Allah has destroyed his enemies and established him in his land.”
After Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu returned from Abyssinia to Makkah, he stayed under the care of the beloved Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam learning from him the principles, commands and prohibitions of Islam. When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam migrated to Madinah, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was among those who migrated there.
At the Battle of Badr
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a courageous horseman and fearless hero. He did not stay behind from any military campaign; he was present on every campaign and at every battle. He possessed extraordinary courage, rare heroism, utter sincerity and devotion to making the word of truth reign supreme.
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu sacrificed a great deal for the sake of Allah and dedicated his life and his wealth to Allah, so Allah honoured him and raised his status in this world and in the hereafter. It was narrated that ‘Urwah said:
On the day of Badr, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was wearing a yellow turban, and Jibril came down in the same dress as Zubair.
What a great virtue, which cannot be rivalled by all the adornments of this world.
It was narrated that Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
On the day of Badr, I met ‘Ubaidah ibn Sa’id ibn al ‘As, who was so heavily armed that nothing could be seen except his eyes. He was known by the kunyah Abu Dhat al Kursh. He said: “I am Abu Dhat d-Kursh.” I charged at him and stabbed him in the eye. I put my foot on him, then I pulled my spear out, and I had to use great force in order to pull it out, because both ends were bent. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked for the spear, and I gave it to him.
When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu took the spear back; then Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked for it, and he gave it to him. When Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu passed away, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked for it, and he gave it to him. When ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed, it remained with the family of ‘Ali, radiya Llahu ‘anhu then ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked for it, and it was with him when he was killed.
This report shows us the precision of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu in hitting the target. He was able to aim his spear at the eye of Abu Dhat al Kursh, even though that space was very narrow and his attention divided between attacking and defending himself.
Killing that man was near impossible because he had protected his body with so much armour, but Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu managed to hit him in the eye, and that was the end of him. The wound was very deep, which is indicative of Zubair’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu physical strength, in addition to his precision and skill in hitting the target.
On the day of Badr, there were two knights of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam on the cavalry of the right flank and al Miqdad ibn al Aswad on the cavalry of the left.
At the battle of Uhud
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
On the day of Uhud, Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mentioned both of his parents to me. (In other words, he said: “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you”).
This indicates that he was skillful in fighting and strong during that battle. He radiya Llahu ‘anhu displayed great steadfastness, resolve and love of martyrdom for the sake of Allah. He described for us what Abu Dujanah al Ansari did during that battle. When the two armies met and the fighting grew intense, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began to encourage his Sahabah and boost their morale. He picked up a sword and said: “Who will take this from me?” They stretched out their hands, each man among them, including Zubair, saying, “Me!” He said: ‘Who will take it and give it its due?’ The people withdrew their hands, but Simak ibn Kharashah Abu Dujanah said: “What is its due, O Rasul of Allah?” He said: “That you should strike the enemy with it until is bent.” He said: “I will take it and give it its due.” He gave it to him, and he was a courageous man who walked with pride in battle. When the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw him walking with pride among the ranks, he said: “This is a way of walking that Allah hates except in this situation.”
Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam described what Abu Dujanah did on the day of Uhud, saying:
I felt upset when I asked the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for the sword and he withheld it from me, giving it to Abu Dujanah and not me. I decided that, by Allah, I would watch what Abu Dujanah did. I followed him, and he took out a red headband of his and wrapped it around his head. The Ansar said: “Abu Dujanah has taken out the headband of death (meaning that he wants to fight to the death).” He killed every person that he engaged in combat. Among the polytheists, there was a man who would not leave any wounded person without finishing him off. The two of them began to draw close to one another, and I prayed to Allah to bring them together. They met, and each dealt a blow to the other. The polytheist struck Abu Dujanah, who protected himself with his shield; the polytheist’s sword got stuck in the shield, and Abu Dujanah struck him and killed him. Then I saw him holding his sword over the head of Hind bint ‘Utbah, but he moved his sword away from her, and I said: “Allah and His Rasul know best.”
Ibn Ishaq said:
Abu Dujanah said: “I saw someone urging the people on, so I charged at him and wielded my sword at him, and he screamed. Then I realised that it was a woman, and I respected the sword of the Rasul of Allah too much to strike a woman with it.”
It was narrated from Hisham, from his father, that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha said:
O son of my sister, your forefathers – meaning Zubair and Abu Bakr – were among:
اَلَّذِیْنَ اسْتَجَابُوْا لِلّٰهِ وَالرَّسُوْلِ مِنْۢ بَعْدِ مَآ اَصَابَهُمُ الْقَرْحُ
Those who answered (the Call of) Allah and the Rasul (Muhammad) after being wounded.
When the polytheists left Uhud, and there befell Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Sahabah what befell them, Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was worried lest the polytheists come back. He said:
Who will go out and follow the tracks of these people, so that they may know that we still have power?
Abu Bakr, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and seventy others volunteered. They went out and followed the tracks of the polytheists, who left when they heard about them. Allah said:
فَانْقَلَبُوْا بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللهِ وَفَضْلٍ لَّمْ یَمْسَسْهُمْ سُوْءٌ
So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah. No harm touched them (and they did not meet any enemy).
When Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred at Uhud, Umm Zubair Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib came to look at her brother. He had been mutilated by the polytheists; they had cut off his nose, opened his belly and cut off his ears and genitals. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to her son Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam:
Go and find her, and send her back, lest she see what has happened to her brother.
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to her:
O my mother, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is telling you to go back.
Why? We heard that my brother has been mutilated, but that was for the sake of Allah, so we are content with what has happened, and we will seek reward and be patient, Allah willing.
When Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and told him that, he said: “Let her go.” So she went and looked at Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. She prayed for him and said: “Verily to Allah do we belong, and unto Him is our return.” She also prayed for forgiveness for him.
According to another report from ‘Urwah, he said:
My father, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, told me that when the battle of Uhud took place, a woman came walking. When she was about to reach the place where they were, Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not want her to see them, so he said: “The woman! The woman!’’ Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “I thought she was my mother, Safiyyah, so I went out and rushed towards her. I caught up with her before she reached the slain, but she shoved me in the chest, and she was a strong woman. She said: “Get out of my way, and may you perish!” I said: “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is insisting that you (should not see the dead).” She stopped and took out two pieces of cloth saying: “These are two pieces of cloth that I have brought for my brother Hamzah.” Beside him there was a man of the Ansar who had been killed, and the same had been done to him as had been to Hamzah. We did not think it was right to shroud Hamzah in two pieces of cloth when the Ansari did not have any shroud, so we said: “One cloth for Hamzah and one for the Ansari.” We measured them, and we found that one piece was larger than the other, so we cast lots between them, and we shrouded each one in the cloth that was picked for him.”
During the Battle of the Trench: “Each Rasul has a disciple, and my disciple is Zubair.”
The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said on the day of the Trench: “Who will bring me news of Banu Quraydhah?” Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “I will.” So he went on a horse and brought news of them. Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that a second time and Zubair said again: “I will.” The same thing happened a third time and Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Each Rasul has a disciple, and my disciple is Zubair.”
What is meant by his words “my disciple is Zubair” is “the closest to me of my Sahabah and supporters”. The same Arabic word (hawari) is used to refer to the disciples or Sahabah of ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam those who were his inner circle and supporters. The helper or disciple is one who offers support and is a close companion. This hadith refers to this great virtue by which Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was distinguished. Hence when ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu heard a man saying:
I am the son of the disciple.
If you are one of sons of Zubair, that is correct; otherwise it is not.
In Umdat al Qari fi Sharh Sahih al Bukhari by al ‘Ayni, it says:
If you say: all of the Sahabah are supporters of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and close to him, so why is Zubair singled out for this title? We would say: “He said this on the day of the Trench, when Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked: ‘Who will bring me news of the people?’ and Zubair said: ‘I will.’ That happened three times, and undoubtedly on that occasion he offered more support than anyone else.”
On the day of the Trench, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him:
May my father and mother be sacrificed for you.
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
On the day of the Trench, ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah and I were put in charge of the women. I looked and saw Zubair on his horse, going through the area of Banu Quraydhah two or three times. When I went back, I said: O my father, I saw you going a few times.” He said: “Did you see me, O my son?” I said: “Yes.” He said: “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Who will go to Banu Quraydhah and bring me news of them?’ so I went out, and when I came back, the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mentioned me and his parents in the same sentence, saying: ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed for you.’”
This hadith clearly indicates the virtue of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, because the words spoken by the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in, which he expressed his appreciation for his actions and the high esteem in which he held him, are only said to a person whom one respects and for whom one would sacrifice oneself or the dearest of one’s family.
At the Battle of the Trench, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu earned an immortal badge of honour which will last until the end of time:
Each Rasul had a disciple, and my disciple is Zubair.
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam described Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a disciple, which has a profound and far reaching meaning. The one who studies this meaning will understand all the ramifications of this word disciple (hawari), and its secrets and depths. Those who are in greatest need of paying such attention to these meanings are the scholars, the callers to Islam and the educators. Islamic da’wah requires the preparation of helper’s and disciples who will present a living example, because a practical example is more powerful and effective in spreading principles and ideas.
It is an embodiment and practical implementation of those ideas that can easily be seen and followed, because true disciples follow the Sunnah of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and obey his commands.
As it says in the hadith:
There is no Rasul whom Allah sent to any nation before me who did not have from among his nation helper’s and Sahabah who followed his way and obeyed his commands.
It is the nature of things that the da’wah will go through trials and tribulations and be tested by means of both friends and enemies. Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was keen to guide the Muslims with regard to these variables and developments, so he said:
Then there will come after them generations who say what they do not do and do what they do not believe.
What is the mission of the disciple? Setting a good example of applied faith, sincerity and sacrifice are among the most prominent attributes of the disciples; thus they are a true example of the heirs of the messengers. They strive to spread the truth and goodness, to guide the ummah and to lead it out of its backwardness. They sacrifice everything precious for the sake of Allah, in order to bring back the vitality and radiance of Islam at time when those with little ambition do not care about anything but their personal interests.
Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu is a brilliant example of embodiment of these principles. He grew up in the lap of da’wah, under the care of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and received a proper education that enabled him to carry its burdens from an early age. Zubair’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu attitude at the Battle of the Trench shows us his character and his upbringing in the qualities of courage, support and love of Rasul s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
History shows us that he was a man of difficult missions, imbued with qualities of courage and bravery, so he was given the mission of finding out enemy secrets. What happened to Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu indicates that it is prescribed to divide tasks among the people of da’wah according to their sincerity, spirit of sacrifice, talents and abilities.
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu took part in all the campaigns of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and carried out honourable exploits. At the time of the Rightly Guided Khulafa’ radiya Llahu ‘anhum, he was one of the pillars of the state during the major conquests.
At the Battle of Yarmuk
It was narrated from ‘Urwah that the Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the day of Yarmuk: “Why do you not charge, and we will charge with you?” He said: “If I charge, you will let me down.” They said: “We will not do that.” So he charged at the enemy, penetrating their ranks passing through them, but there was no one with him. He came back, and they took hold of his reins and struck him twice on his shoulder, and one of them struck a wound that he had received on the day Badr. ‘Urwah said: “I used to put my fingers in those scars when I was small, playing with them.”
‘Urwah also said: “‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was with him that day, and he was ten years old. He put him on a horse and entrusted him to a man to look after him.”
Al Dhahabi said in al Siyar, commenting:
This battle was al Yamamah, Allah willing, because at that time ‘Abdullah was ten years old.
Ibn Kathir said that the battle was Yarmuk, but there is no reason why it could not have happened on both occasions.
Ibn Kathir said:
Among those who were present at Yarmuk was Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was the best of the Sahabah there; he was a brave and courageous knight. A number of heroes rallied around him on that day and said: “Why do you not attack, and we will attack with you?’ He said: “You will not be steadfast.” They said: “Yes, we will.” So he attacked, and they attacked, but they stopped when they were met by the Byzantine ranks. He went ahead and penetrated the Byzantine ranks until he came out the other side and returned to his Sahabah. Then they came to him again, and the same happened as had happened the first time. On that day, he received two wounds between his shoulders, and according to another report, he was injured.
Ibn Kathir said on another occasion:
He went out with the people to Syria as a fighter of jihad; he was present at Yarmuk, and they were honoured by his presence. He performed brilliant acts of courage on that day, penetrating the Byzantine ranks twice from front to back.
The conquest of Egypt
When ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu went to conquer Egypt, he did not have sufficient forces, so he wrote to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu asking for support and reinforcements. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was worried about the small number of ‘Amr’s forces, so he sent Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam with twelve thousand men. It was also said that ‘Umar sent four thousand led by the great Sahabah Zubair, al Miqdad ibn al Aswad, ‘Ubadah ibn al Samit and Maslamah ibn Makhlad. (Other narrators said that Kharijah ibn Hudhafah was the fourth.) He wrote to ‘Amr:
I have sent to you four thousand men, each thousand of whom is led by a man who is equal to a thousand.
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the leader of those men.
When Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached ‘Amr, he found him besieging the fortress of Babylon. Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu quickly mounted his horse and went around the trench surrounding the fortress, then he spread his men out around the trench. The siege lasted for seven months, then Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was told that there was a plague inside it. He said:
We have come to stab and plague them.
Conquest was slow for ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu, so Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
I will offer myself for the sake of Allah hoping that Allah may grant victory thereby to the
He set up a ladder against the wall of the fortress, on the side of the market place of al Hamam, and then he climbed up. He told them that when they heard his takbir, they should all respond. It was not long before Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was at the top of the fortress, shouting takbir wielding his sword. The people began to climb up the ladder until ‘Amr told them not to; for fear that the ladder might break. When the Byzantines saw that the Arabs had captured the fortress, they withdrew. The fortress of Babylon opened its gates to the Muslims thus ending a decisive battle in the conquest of Egypt. The rare courage of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the direct cause of the Muslims’ victory over Muqawqis.
The protective jealousy of Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam
It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anha said:
When I got married to Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he owned nothing in this world apart from a camel for carrying water and a horse. I used to feed his horse, bring water, prepare his saddle and make dough, but I was not good at baking. Some women of the Ansar who were my neighbours used to bake my bread for me, and they were good women. I used to bring the dates from some land which the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had given to Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, carrying them on my head. The land was two-thirds of a farsakh (approximately three miles) away. One day, I was corning with the dates on my head, and I met the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with a group of the Ansar. He called me and made his camel kneel down so that I could ride behind him. But I felt too shy to go with the men, and I remembered Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu and how jealous he was, for he was the most jealous of men. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam realised that I felt too shy, so he went on his way. I came to Zubair and told him: “I met the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam while I was carrying the dates on my head, and there was a group of his Sahabah with him. He made his camel kneel down so that I could ride on it, but I felt too shy, because I remembered your jealousy.” He said: “By Allah, your having to carry the dates is harder for me than you riding with him.” Later on, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent a servant who took care of the horse, and it was as if I had been set free from slavery.
Zubair named his sons after martyred Sahabah
Due to of Zubair’s deep love of martyrdom, he named his sons after martyred Sahabah. Hisham ibn ‘Urwah narrated that his father said:
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Talhah named his sons after ambiya’ when he learnt that there would be no Rasul after Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. But, I named my children after martyrs, in the hope that they will attain martyrdom: ‘Abdullah after Abdullah ibn Jahsh, al Mundhir after al Mundhir ibn ‘Amr, ‘Urwah after ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud, Hamzah after Hamzah, Jafar after Jafar ibn Abi Talib, Mus’ab after Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair, ‘Ubaidah after ‘Ubaidah ibn al Harith, Khalid after Khalid ibn Sa’id and ‘Amr after ‘Amr ibn Sa’id ibn al ‘As, who was killed at Yarmuk.
Zubair concealing acts of worship
Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
If anyone can conceal any of these righteous deeds, let him do so.
Poetry of Hassan ibn Thabit in praise of Zubair
Zubair passed by a gathering of the Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where Hassan was reciting his poetry to them, but they were not listening attentively to him. Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu sat down with them, and then he said:
Why do I see you not listening attentively to the poetry of ibn al Furay’ah? The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to listen attentively to him, reward him generously and not get distracted from him.
Then Hassan spoke in verse, praising Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu in many lines in which he described his great commitment to Islam, his adherence to the way of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his sacrifice and service for Islam.
Generosity of Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam
It was narrated that ‘Urwah ibn Zubair said:
Seven of the Sahabah appointed Zubair to be the guardian of their children after they died, including ‘Uthman, Ibn Mas’ud and ‘Abdul Rahman. He would spend on the heirs from his own wealth and protect their wealth.
This is an excellent example of generosity and sincerity that embodies noble ideals that will have a strong impression on the heart of every man of dignity. A person may show generosity time after time and then tire of it, but for this generous man to be in charge of spending on the heirs of many of the Sahabah and protecting their wealth is a unique example in real life and an indication of the sublime attitude that the Sahabah attained, may Allah be pleased with them.
The time has come to depart … and the Rasul’s testimony of entering paradise
Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu left the Battle of the Camel during the first round, for reasons that we have explained above. When he left the battlefield, he was repeating these lines of poetry:
Giving up on things that I fear may have bad consequences, for the sake of Allah, is better in both worldly and religious terms.
It was also said that he spoke the following lines of verse:
I know, and I hope that I will benefit from what I know, that life is very close to death.
After he left, he was followed by ‘Amr ibn Jurmuz, Faddalah ibn Habis and Nafi’, along with a group of the evildoers of Banu Tamim. It was said that when they caught up with him, they ganged up on him and killed him; it was also said that the one who caught up with him was ‘Amr ibn Jurmuz. ‘Amr said to him: “I need something from you.” He said: “Come closer.” The freed slave of Zubair, whose name was ‘Aytah said: “He has a weapon!” He said: “Even so.” So he came to him and started talking to him, and it was time for prayer, so Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to him: “Let us pray.” He said: “Let us pray then.” Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu went forward to lead them both in prayer, and ‘Amr ibn Jurmuz stabbed him and killed him. It was also said that ‘Amr caught up with him while he was taking a nap in a valley that was known as Wadi al Siba’, and he attacked and killed him there. This is the most well-known version, and the poetry of his wife ‘Atikah bint Zaid ibn ‘Amr ibn Nufayl testifies to that. She was the last of his wives; before him, she was married to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who left her a widow when he was killed. Before ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, she was married to ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr al Siddiq, who was also killed and left her a widow. When Zubair was killed, she eulogised him in beautiful verse.
When ‘Amr ibn Jurmuz killed Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he cut off his head and brought it to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, thinking that this would bring him closer to him. He asked for permission to enter, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
Give the killer of Safiyyah’s son (meaning Zubair) the tidings of hell.
Then ‘Ali said:
I heard the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say: “Each Rasul had a disciple, and my disciple is Zubair.”
When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw the sword of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he said:
How often this sword defended the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and brought cheer to him.
According to another report, Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu refused to let ibn Jurmuz enter upon him, and he said:
Give the killer of Safiyyah’s son the tidings of hell.
It was said that ‘Amr ibn Jurmuz killed himself during ‘Ali’s reign; it was also said that he lived until Mus’ab ibn Zubair became governor of Iraq. He hid from him, and it was said to Mus’ab:
‘Amr ibn Jurmuz is here and is in hiding. Do you want to capture him?
Let him show himself, for he is safe. By Allah, I am not going to kill him in retaliation for Zubair, because he is too insignificant for me to make him equal to Zubair.
Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam foretold that Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu would die as a martyr. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was once atop Mount Uhud when the mountain shook. The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Be still, for there is no one on you but a Rasul, a Siddiq and a martyr.
On top of the mountain were Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
Al Nawawi said:
This hadith represents one of the miracles of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for he foretold that these people would be martyrs, and all of them, except Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, died as martyrs. ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum were all killed unlawfully and died as martyrs. The deaths of the first three are well known. Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed in Wadi al Siba’, near Basrah, as he was leaving the battlefield, not wanting to fight. Talhah also withdrew from the battle because he did not want to fight, but an arrow struck him and killed him. It is proven that whoever is killed unlawfully is a martyr.
Al Sha’bi said:
I met five hundred or more of the Sahabah who said: ‘Ali, ‘Uthman, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhum are in paradise.
Al Dhahabi said:
I say: Because they are among the ten about whom it was testified that they would be in paradise; they were present at Badr, they were among the people who swore allegiance in the Pledge of Ridwan; and they were among the foremost to embrace Islam, of whom Allah said that He is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. All four were killed and were granted martyrdom, so we love them and we hate the four who killed these four.
Zubair’s eagerness that his debts should be paid off when he died
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
On the day of the Camel, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu left instructions that I was to pay off his debts. He said: “If you have any difficulty in doing so, then seek help from my Master.” By Allah, I did not understand what he meant until I said: “O my father, who is your Master?” He said: “Allah is my Master; I never had any difficulty paying a debt but I would say: ‘Master of Zubair, pay it off on his behalf’ and He paid it off.” The debt that he owed was that a man would come to him and give him some wealth as a trust, but Zubair would say: “No; rather it is a loan, for I fear that it may be lost.” When he was killed, he did not leave behind any dinars or dirhams, but he had a piece of land. I sold it and paid off his debts. The sons of Zubair said: “Share out our inheritance.” I said: “By Allah, I will not share it out among you until I announce for four years during the hajj season: If anyone has a debt owed by Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, let him come to us so that we may pay it off.”
He made this announcement every year during the hajj season, and then when four years had passed, he shared it out among them. Zubair had four wives, and each wife got 1,200,000. The total sum of his wealth was 50,200,000.
The report of Bukhari is to be understood as referring to the total of his wealth at the time of his death, which is different from the surplus that was left four years later.
There a great deal of blessing in his estate, and Allah blessed his land after he died; his debt was paid off, and his wealth increased a great deal. From this story we learn a number of lessons:
a. Zubair said to his son:
O my son, if you have any difficulty in doing so (paying off the debts), then seek help from my Master.
This is an example of his deeply-rooted certainty and strong faith that resulted from sincere trust in Allah and turning to Him to meet his needs and relieve his distress. The true believer firmly believes that everything is in the hands of Allah. If he finds himself in hardship and distress, the first thing that crosses his mind is Allah and how He dominates and controls everything.
Those created beings that may have some connection to his situation are also in the hands of Allah, their hearts are in His hand, and He directs them as He wills. So the believer turns to Allah before anyone else asks Him to meet his needs and relieve his distress. Then he follows the principle of cause and effect that Allah has made a means of reaching the desired results, while believing that they are no more than means and that the One Who does and decrees things is Allah. He radiya Llahu ‘anhu is able to cause the means to have no impact, so that they do not lead to the usual results.
b. Was Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu a wealthy man? From the text above, we see that Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not one of the wealthy who were known for their wealth. Instead, he felt a sense of hardship and was concerned about the trusts and debts that he owed; he was afraid that his land and property would not be sufficient to pay off all that he owed. This text also shows us that ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, like his father, was expecting that the debts would be more than the wealth and land. When his father asked him:
Do you think that what we owe will leave anything of our wealth?
‘Abdullah could not answer him. If he was expecting anything other than what his father was expecting, he would have given him an answer to put his mind at rest at this critical moment, to tell him that the matter was different from what he thought and was expecting; however, he went along with his father in his expectations. When Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu suggested seeking help from his Master, ‘Abdullah asked: “Who is your Master?” expecting him to mention some individual whom he could ask for help. No one can claim that ‘Abdullah was not aware of his father’s wealth or did not know about his property; because at that time ‘Abdullah was thirty-five years old, and a man that old is a great help to his father and knows all about his situation and wealth, especially if he is the oldest son. Zubair’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu question to his son: “Do you think that what we owe will leave anything of our wealth?” indicates that ‘Abdullah was aware of his father’s situation and finances. Indeed, Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu stated that the matter of paying off the debts was not easy, as he said:
Allah is my Master; I never had any difficulty paying a debt but I would say: “O Master of Zubair, pay it off on his behalf,’ and He paid it off.
Another sign that Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not regarded as one of the rich and wealthy, and that what he expected with regard to the amount of his debts in comparison to his wealth was correct, is the fact that Hakim ibn Hizam radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the paternal cousin of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, met ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said to him:
I do not think that you will be able to pay off all these debts. If you are unable to pay any of them, come to me for help.
A fourth point is that ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was owed four hundred thousand by Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, came to ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said: “If you wish, I will leave it for you.” ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “No.” ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Then if you wish, you may leave it and pay later than others.”
This is testimony that two of the senior Sahabah expected that the property of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu would not be enough to pay off all the debts that he owed, and that they regarded him as one who needed help. Moreover, those two were close to Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu and aware of his situation. One of them was Hakim ibn Hizam radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Zubair’s paternal cousin, the other was his maternal cousin, because the mother of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib radiya Llahu ‘anha, the paternal aunt of Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he used to deal with him, giving and taking, borrowing and entrusting. These four points constitute evidence about which there is no doubt that Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not a wealthy man.
There were many rumours about the wealth of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu and how rich he was, and there was a great deal of talk about his slaves and horses. In some sources, it says that he had a thousand slaves and that the thousand slaves used to pay him land tax every day, but that none of this wealth entered his house because he used to give it all in charity.
The famous Orientalist Will Durant put the figure at ten thousand, saying:
Zubair owned ten thousand slaves, and he added one thousand horses.
Of course, this smart Orientalist omitted the part that says that he gave the land tax of his slaves in charity.
This report cannot stand up to the report of Bukhari, in which it says:
When Zubair was killed, he did not leave behind any dinar or dirham, but there was some land which included al Ghabah eleven houses in Madinah, two houses in Basrah, a house in Kufah and a house in Egypt.
The report is clear and states that he did not have anything except those properties, in the context of talking about the distress caused by debt and difficulties in seeking to pay it off.
If there were a thousand slaves, they would have been mentioned and their value estimated; was not one slave worth at least two thousand dirhams?
In that case, the value of the slaves alone would have covered almost the entire debt, and that is if we assume that there were only one thousand. If we go along with the wild exaggeration of Will Durant, which suggests that there were ten thousand slaves, this would mean rejecting Bukhari’s report completely, because ten thousand slaves and thousand horses, even if their price was low, would have been enough to pay off his debts and drown his heirs in a sea of wealth.
Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu would not have needed to say to his son: “One of my greatest worries is my debt”; or to ask him: “Do you think that what we owe will leave anything of our wealth?” to instruct him: “If you have any difficulty in doing so (paying off the debts), then seek help from my Master.”
Discussing the biographies of Zubair, Talhah, ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, Abu Musa al Ash’ari and the Mother of the Believers Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum is in harmony with the aim of this book, which is to present the life and times of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. These individuals are focal points in his life and times, and their biographies have been distorted in history books and literary works that speak of internal conflict and turmoil.
It is essential to highlight their biographies, character and attitudes so that the reader will come away with correct knowledge and will not be influenced by weak reports or false that were fabricated by the Rafidi Shia historians to distort the image of these noble characters. Talking about the biography of Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu and other senior Sahabah who contributed to the events that took place during the lifetime of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is in harmony with the author’s aims and what he wants to convey in his study of the era of the Rightly Guided Khulafa’.