Hazreti ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (ra) and The Expedition

April 17, 2008 § 1 Comment

Hazreti 'Amr ibn al-'As Mosque in Egypt

During the month of Rabi al-Awwal, the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) received word that Bedouins of the Bali and Quda’a tribes were gathering and stealing the herds that belonged to the people of Medina in the Wadi al-Qura (area between Medina and Syria). The tribesmen were attempting to push back the growing population of Muslims. And in Rabi al-Thani 8 A.H., the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) designated Hazreti ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (ra), known to be a clever strategist; whose mother was of the tribe of Bali, to command an army of 300 men to defend the Muslims and their property, this would be later known as the ‘Expedition of the Well’ (Zhat-i Salasil).

Hazreti ‘Amr (ra) traveled and finally approached enemy lines. Observing them, he realized that they were more numerous than expected and he sent Hazreti Rafi’ (ra) back to Medina to inform the Holy Prophet (ra) of the situation and to request reinforcements. The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) sent Hazreti Abu ‘Ubayda leading a group of 200 men, among the 200 men were the Holy Prophet’s closest companions, Hazreti Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) and Hazreti ‘Umar al-Faruq (ra). When the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) sent the group off he said to them,

“I am sending you out as support troops in order to fend off the enemy attack and to punish these brigands, under the one condition that you do not break the unity of you ranks, and do not fall into dissension.”

The Holy Messenger of God (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) was warning the men of what was to come, “division and disunity among the ranks”. When the reinforcements led by Hazreti Abu ‘Ubayda (ra) arrived, Hazreti Abu ‘Ubayda wanted to be Imam and lead the prayers for the men. However, Hazret ‘Amr (ra) responded strongly saying,

“No! The command of this force is mine, you have command only of an auxiliary troop; therefore, it is for me to be the Imam!”

That is when Hazreti Abu Bakr, Hazreti ‘Umar and Hazreti Abu ‘Ubayda remembered the warning of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). They went to Hazreti ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (ra) and agreed, keeping the ranks as the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) had ordered. The next day they launched their attack on the enemy and returned to Medina victorious.

When Hazreti ‘Amr (ra) arrived to Medina, he did not know that the Great Sahabis, Hazreti Abu ‘Ubayda, Hazreti Abu Bakr and Hazreti ‘Umar accepted his leadership only due to the Holy Prophet’s command and warning. Hazreti ‘Amr began to think of himself as one of the Holy Prophet’s closest Companions, like Zayd bin Harith, for example. And when he approached the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) he asked him,

“Whom do you love the best?”

The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) answered referring to his honorable wives, the Mothers of the Believers. And it has been explained that this event opened the interpretation of a verse in the Qur’an al-kerim that says,

“(Your wives) are a vestment for you, and you are a vestment for them.” (The Cow: 187)

It has been explained that this verse indicates,

“[N]othing comes before the love of one’s family; it is foremost in a man’s life.” (H.A. Adil, 2002)

Yet Hazreti ‘Amr ibn al-‘As pushed on saying,

“I do not ask about women, I am asking about the men.”

The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) replied,

“The father of my wife Aisha, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq,”

The Holy Prophet then said,

“And after him? ‘Umar al-Faruq.”

Hazreti ‘Amr continued and insisted saying,

“And after these, who is it that you love best?”

The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) began to list all of the noble Companions that faced so many dangers for the sake of Allah Almighty. He described those who became enemies of their relatives; those who left their homes behind in Mecca; those who gave away their belongings; those who sacrificed themselves and their wealth for the sake of Allah. And that is when Hazreti ‘Amr ibn al-‘As realized he was not among the names of those most beloved to the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and he was humbled.

Hazreti ‘Amr ibn al-‘As has narrated, in his own words, how he came to Islam saying,

“After the War of the Confederates, we all returned to Mecca and were close to despair. For although we were in every material aspect superior to Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and his band of followers, they had begun to gain over us in many ways. Whereas before the Muslims had only claimed the eternal life as their own, they were now able to say that this world also was at their feet. I then thought, ‘It is best that I go to the Negus of Abyssinia. For in any case, one day Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and his friends will return to their native place, Mecca. If my people gain the upper hand over Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him), I can come back and resume residence there in peace. If Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) is victorious over my people, at least I will not have had to witness that defeat with my own eyes.’ Some of my friends agreed and accompanied me, and taking with us many and precious gifts, we presented ourselves before the Negus.”

“Then one day, Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) sent ‘Amr bin Umayya to the Negus as his envoy. Intending to take advantage of this situation, I went to the Negus, since I assumed that he would be displeased by Muhammad’s (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) agent. I thought he would hand him over to me for me to deal with, in which case he would incur no blame, as the man would have been murdered by one of his own people. When I put these ideas to the Negus, he flew into a rage and drove me from his presence. I then said, ‘Had I known that I would occasion such anger, I would not have been so bold.’

“The Negus grew even angrier at that and said, ‘You wish me to deliver into your hands the envoy of such a luminary who is visited by the messenger angel himself when he comes to deliver Divine Message!’ I then asked the Negus, ‘Is that truly what you believe?’ He replied in a stern manner, ‘Don’t wast your words! Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) is as true Prophet. If you are a real man, confess Islam and know that one day he will vanquish all his opponents. Just as Musa was Kalimullah and beat Fir’aun with the staff in his hand, so Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) is the Proof of Allah and will persuade those who argue against him.’

“I left the presence of the Negus feeling utterly dejected. I now was sure that there was no other way to get ahead in the world than by becoming Muslim. I made up my mind to it and secretly set out for Medina. Then I grew aware that Khalid ibn al-Walid was following me. ‘Where are you going?’ I asked him. Khalid was an open-minded, outspoken person. He did not yet know of my decision. He replied, ‘No need remains for stubborn persistence on the way of disbelief that our fathers and forefathers have shown us. There is not a grain of doubt that Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) whom we used to know as ‘al-Amin’ is a true Prophet. I am on my way to Medina into his presence to surrender all that I am and own that he may teach me the worship of the God that he preaches. I will entreat him to forgive me for all the outrage and insolence I have worked against him before this day. If I can achieve his pardon, there is no man happier than I.’

“In this way we proceeded to Medina together and met with a gracious reception by Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). Thus we entered Islam” (H.A. Adil, 2002)

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