A Mother’s Courage and Sacrifice – A great historical story! – Must Read and Watch

Today, at my work place, there was a lecture given on the life and sacrifice of the companion Abdullah bin Zubair (RA) which left most of us speechless and emotional. Immediately, i thought i should share his history and related videos in this blog..The great historical conversation between a mother and son and the courage and sacrifice of this great mother will surely bring tears in our eyes. May Allah (SWT) grant us the Imaan, Tawfeeq, Taqwa and Sabr like those companions of Prophet (PBUH) – Ameen

Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (Radi Allahu Anhuma) was the mother of Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair (Radi Allahu Anhu) He was nephew of Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha), wife of the Prophet ((Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam). His birth alone was a miracle, he was the first Muslim to be born in the city of Al-Madinah and was a sign of the lies and deceptions of the Jews of the time.

Ibn Az-Zubair (Radi Allahu Anhu) became Commander of the Faithful with Holy Makkah as his capital, extending his rule over Hijaz, Yemen, Basra, Kufa, Khurasan, and Syria except Damascus. The inhabitants of all these provinces swore the oath of allegiance to him. But the Ummayyads were not satisfied. Restless, they waged continuous wars, most of which ended in their defeat. Nothing changed until Abd Al Malik Ibn Marawan ordered one of the most harsh, criminal, cruel, and merciless human beings to attack ‘Abd Allah in Makkah. This was Al-Hajaj Ath-Thaqafiy, who was described by ‘Umar Ibn Abd Al-‘Aziz: “If all nations were to weigh together their sins, and we came with Al-Hajaj only, the balance would sway to our part.”

Al-Hajaj personally led his army to invade Makkah, Ibn Az-Zubair’s capital. He besieged it nearly six months, preventing the provision of water and food to force people to abandon ‘Abd Allah. Under the severe pressure of hunger, a large number of fighters surrendered and ‘Abd Allah found himself almost alone. Although chances to save his life and soul were still available, he decided to carry out his responsibilities to the very end. He went on fighting with legendary courage, although he was 70 years old at that time.

He went to meet his mother Asma now an old blind woman. Let’s reflect on this beautiful conversation between a mother and her son. We will only grasp the full image of that situation if we listen to the conversation which took place between Abdullah and his mother, the great and noble Asma’ Bint Abu Bakr, a short while before his death. He went to her presenting the whole situation and what seemed to be his destiny.

“Peace be on you, Mother, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.”

“Unto you be peace, Abdullah,” she replied. “What is it that brings you here at this hour while boulders from Hajjaj’s catapults are raining down on your soldiers in the Haram and shaking the houses of Makkah?”

“I came to seek your advice,” he said.

“To seek my advice?” she asked in astonishment. “About what?”

“The people have deserted me out of fear of Hajjaj or being tempted by what he has to offer. Even my children and my family have left me. There is only a small group of men with me now and however strong and steadfast they are they can only resist for an hour or two more. Messengers of the Banu Umayyah (the Umayyads) are now negotiating with me, offering to give me whatever worldly possessions I want, should

I lay down my arms and swear allegiance to Abdul Malik ibn Marwan. What do you think?”

Raising her voice, she replied: “it’s your affair, Abdullah, and you know yourself better. If however you think that you are right and that you are standing up for the Truth, then persevere and fight on as your companions who were killed under your flag had shown perseverance. If however you desire the world, what a miserable wretch you are. You would have destroyed yourself and you would have destroyed your men.”

“But I will be killed today, there is no doubt about it.”

“That is better for you than that you should surrender yourself to Hajjaj voluntarily and that some favourite child or slave of Banu Umayyah should play with your head.

“I do not fear death. I am only afraid that they will mutilate me.”

“There is nothing after death that man should be afraid of. Skinning does not cause any pain to the slaughtered sheep.”

Abdullah’s face beamed as he said: “What a blessed mother! Blessed be your noble qualities! I have come to you at this hour to hear what I have heard. Allah knows that I have not weakened or despaired. He is witness over me that I have not stood up for what I have out of love for this world and its attractions but only out of anger for the sake of Allah. His limits have been transgressed. Here am I, going to what is pleasing to you. So if I am killed, do not grieve for me and commend me to Allah.

“I shall grieve for you,” said the aging but resolute Asma’, “only if you are killed in a vain and unjust cause.

“Be assured that your son has not supported an unjust cause, nor committed any detestable deed, nor done any injustice to a Muslim or a Dhimmi and that there is nothing better in his sight than the pleasure of Allah, the Mighty, the Great. I do not say this to exonerate myself. Allah knows that I have only said it to make your heart firm and steadfast. “

“Praise be to Allah who has made you act according to what He likes and according to what I like. Come close to me, my son, that I may smell and feel your body for this might be the last meeting with you.”
Abdullah knelt before her. She hugged him and smothered his head, his face and his neck with kisses. Her hands began to squeeze his body when suddenly she withdrew them and asked: “What is this you are wearing, Abdullah?”

“This is my armour plate.”

“This, my son, is not the dress of one who desires martyrdom. Take it off. That will make your movements lighter and quicker. Wear instead the sirwal (a long under garment) so that if you are killed your awrah will not be exposed.”

Abdullah took off his armor plate and put on the sirwal. As he left for the Haram to join the fighting he said: “My mother, don’t deprive me of your dua (prayer).”

Raising her hands to heaven, she prayed: “O Lord, have mercy on his staying up for long hours and his loud crying in the darkness of the night while people slept… “O Lord, have mercy on his hunger and his thirst on his Journeys from Madinah and Makkah while he fasted… “O Lord, bless his righteousness to his mother and his father… “O Lord, I commend him to Your cause and I am pleased with whatever You decree for him. And grant me for his sake the reward of those who are patient and who persevere.

They embraced each other and exchanged a farewell look. After one hour of fierce, unparalleled battle, the martyr received a deadly stroke. By sunset, Abdullah was dead. Al-Hajaj, cruel, cunning, and deceiving as he was, insisted on crucifying the Lifeless body.

Abd Allah’s mother, went to see her crucified son. Like a high towering mountain, his mother stood in front of him when Al-Hajaj approached with shame and humiliation and said, “O Mother, the Commander of the Faithful ‘Abd Al-Malik Ibn Marwan has recommended me to treat you well. Do you need anything?”
She shouted, ” I’m not your mother. I’m the mother of that one crucified on the cross. I don’t need you. But I’m going to tell you a hadith which I heard from the Prophet (PBUH). He said, ‘He will emerge from Thaqif, a liar and a vicious one.’ We have already seen the liar and the vicious one. I don’t think he’s anyone else but you.”

Just over ten days later, his mother joined him. She was a hundred years old. Age had not made her infirm nor blunted the keenness of her mind.

For more better narration of this great conversation,

Please watch or listen to this video.

Emotional Final Moments of Abdullah bin Zubair (RA)


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The Shining Stars around the Prophet (PBUH) – Companion – Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yaman

By AbdulWahid Hamid

“If you wish you may consider yourself among the Muhaajireen or, if you wish, you may consider yourself one of the Ansaar. Choose whichever is dearer to you.”

With these words, the Prophet, peace be upon him, addressed Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan when he met him for the first time in Makkah. How did Hudhayfah come to have this choice’?

His father, al-Yaman was a Makkan from the tribe of Abs. He had killed someone and had been forced to leave Makkah. He had settled down in Yathrib, becoming an ally (halif) of the Banu al-Ash-hal and marrying into the tribe. A son named Hudhayfah was born to him. The restrictions on his returning to Makkah were eventually lifted and he divided his time between Makkah and Yathrib but stayed more in Yathrib and was more attached to it.

This was how Hudhayfah had a Makkan origin but a Yathribite upbringing. When the rays of Islaam began to radiate over the Arabian peninsula, a delegation from the Abs tribe, which included al-Yaman, went to the Prophet and announced their acceptance of Islaam. That was before the Prophet migrated to Yathrib.

Hudhayfah grew up in a Muslim household and was taught by both his mother and father who were among the first persons from Yathrib to enter the religion of God. He therefore became a Muslim before meeting the Prophet, peace be upon him.

Hudhayfah longed to meet the Prophet. From an early age, he was keen on following whatever news there was about him. The more he heard, the more his affection for the Prophet grew and the more he longed to meet him.

He eventually journeyed to Makkah, met the Prophet and put the question to him,

“Am I a MuhaajirThe one who migrated to another land in order to safeguard and preserve his or her faith. or am I an Ansaari, O RasoolullahThe Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). ?”

“If you wish you may consider yourself among the Muhaajireen, or if you wish you may consider yourself one of the Ansaar. Choose whichever is dearer to you,” replied the Prophet.

“Well, I am an Ansaari. O Rasoolullah,” decided Hudhayfah.

At Madinah, after the HijrahDepending on context, Hijrah can either specifically refer to the migration of the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah, which took place in the twelfth year of his mission (622 CE) and which marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Or it can generally apply to any Muslim who is made to move from a land because they can’t practice their faith to a land where they can. , Hudhayfah became closely attached to the Prophet. He participated in all the military engagements except Badr. Explaining why he missed the Battle of Badr, he said,

“I wouldn’t have missed Badr if my father and I had not been outside Madinah. The disbelieving Quraysh met us and asked where we were going. We told them we were going to Madinah and they asked whether we intended to meet Muhammad. We insisted that we only wanted to go to Madinah. They allowed us to go only after they extracted from us an undertaking not to help Muhammad against them and not to fight along with them.

When we came to the Prophet we told him about our undertaking to the Quraysh and asked him what we should do. He said that we should ignore the undertaking and seek God’s help against them.”

Hudhayfah participated in the Battle of Uhud with his father. The pressure on Hudhayfah during the battle was great but he acquitted himself well and emerged safe and sound. A rather different fate, however, awaited his father.

Before the battle, the Prophet, peace be on him, left al-Yaman, Hudhayfah’s father, and Thabit ibn Waqsh with the other non-combatants including women and children. This was because they were both quite old. As the fighting grew fiercer, al-Yaman said to his friend,

“You have no father (meaning you have no cares). What are we waiting for? We both have only a short time to live. Why don’t we take our swords and join the Messenger of God, peace be on him? Maybe, God will bless us with martyrdom beside His Prophet.”

They quickly prepared for battle and were soon in the thick of the fighting. Thabit ibn Waqsh was blessed with shahaadahThis term can either mean: To witness and testify (in the Oneness of Allah Almighty) or it can mean: Martyrdom. The meaning of this word depends on the context in which it is used. at the hands of the mushrikeenPolytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, those who worship others along with Allah, and also those who set up rivals with (or partners to) Allah. Mushrikoon is the same as Mushrikeen. . The father of Hudhayfah, however was set upon by some Muslims who did not recognize who he was. As they attacked him, Hudhayfah cried out,

“My father! My father! It’s my father!”

No one heard him. The old man fell, killed in error by the swords of his own brothers in faith. They were filled with pain and remorse. Grieved as he was, Hudhayfah said to them,

“May God forgive you for He is the most Merciful of those who show mercy.”

The Prophet, peace be on him, wanted diyah (compensation) to be paid to Hudhayfah for the death of his father but Hudhayfah said,

“He was simply seeking shahaadah and he attained it. O Lord, bear witness that I donate the compensation for him to the Muslim’s.”

Because of this attitude, Hudhayfah’s stature grew in the eyes of the Prophet, peace be on him. Hudhayfah had three qualities which particularly impressed the Prophet: his unique intelligence which he employed in dealing with difficult situations; his quick wittedness and spontaneous response to the call of action, and his ability to keep a secret even under persistent questioning.

A noticeable policy of the Prophet was to bring out and use the special qualities and strengths of each individual companion of his. In deploying his companions, he was careful to choose the right man for the right task. This he did to excellent advantage in the case of Hudhayfah.

One of the gravest problems the Muslims of Madinah had to face was the existence in their midst of hypocrites (munaafiqoon) particularly from among the Jews and their allies. Although many of them had declared their acceptance of Islaam, the change was only superficial and they continued to plot and intrigue against the Prophet and the Muslims.

Because of Hudhayfah’s ability to keep a secret, the Prophet, peace be on him, confided in him the names of the munaafiqoon. It was a weighty secret which the Prophet did not disclose to any other of his companions. He gave Hudhayfah the task of watching the movements of the munaafiqoon, following their activities, and shielding the Muslims from the sinister danger they represented. It was a tremendous responsibility. The munaafiqoon, because they acted in secrecy and because they knew all the developments and plans of the Muslims from within presented a greater threat to the community than the outright hostility of the kuffaarDisbelievers, nonbelievers, unbelievers (disbelievers).

From this time onwards. Hudhayfah was called: “The Keeper of the Secret of the Messenger of AllahIt is an Arabic term and is the most correct name for the one true God (Almighty). The term ‘Allah’ is derived from Al-Ilaah and means literally ‘The One’,’The God’ or ‘The One God’. “. Throughout his life he remained faithful to his pledge not to disclose the names of the hypocrites. After the death of the Prophet, the Khaleefah often came to him to seek his advice concerning their movements and activities but he remained tight-lipped and cautious.

‘Umar was only able to find out indirectly who the hypocrites were. If anyone among the Muslims died, ‘Umar would ask,

“Has Hudhayfah attended his funeral prayer?”

If the reply was ‘yes’, he would perform the prayer. If the reply was ‘no’, he became doubtful about the person and refrained from performing the funeral prayer for him.

Once ‘Umar asked Hudhayfah, “Is any of my governors a munaafiq?”

“One,” replied Hudhayfah.

“Point him out to me,” ordered ‘Umar.

“That I shall not do,” insisted Hudhayfah

He later said that shortly after their conversation ‘Umar dismissed the person just as if he had been guided to him.

Hudhayfah’s special qualities were made use of by the Prophet, peace be on him, at various times. One of the most testing of such occasions, which required the use of Hudhayfah’s intelligence and his presence of mind, was during the Battle of the Ditch. The Muslims on that occasion were surrounded by enemies. The seige they had been placed under had dragged on. The Muslims were undergoing severe hardship and difficulties. They had expended practically all their effort and were utterly exhausted. So intense was the strain that some even began to despair.

The Quraysh and their allies, meanwhile, were not much better off. Their strength and determination had been sapped. A violent wind overturned their tents, extinguished their fires and pelted their faces and eyes with gusts of sand and dust.

In such decisive moments in the history of warfare, the side that loses is the one that despairs first and the one that wins is the one that holds out longer. The role of army intelligence in such situations often proves to be a crucial factor in determining the outcome of the battle.

At this stage of the confrontation the Prophet, peace be on him, felt he could use the special talents and experience of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan. He decided to send Hudhayfah into the midst of the enemy’s positions under cover of darkness to bring him the latest information on their situation and morale before he decided on his next move.

Let us now leave Hudhayfah to relate what happened on this mission fraught with danger… and even death.

“That night, we were all seated in rows. Abu Sufyan and his men – the mushrikoonPolytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, those who worship others along with Allah, and also those who set up rivals with (or partners to) Allah. Mushrikoon is the same as Mushrikeen. (polytheists) of Makkah – were in front of us. The Jewish tribe of Banoo Qurayzah were at our rear and we were afraid of them because of our wives and children. The night was stygian dark. Never before was there a darker night nor a wind so strong. So dark was the night that no one could see his fingers and the blast of the wind was like the peel of thunder.

The hypocrites began to ask the Prophet for permission to leave, saying, ‘Our houses are exposed to the enemy.’ Anyone who asked the Prophet’s permission to leave was allowed to go. Many thus sneaked away until we were left with about three hundred men.

The Prophet then began a round of inspection passing us one by one until he reached me. I had nothing to protect me from the cold except a blanket belonging to my wife, which scarcely reached my knees. He came nearer to me as I lay crouching on the ground and asked, ‘Who is this?’

‘Hudhayfah,’ replied.

‘Hudhayfah?’ he queried as I huddled myself closer to the ground too afraid to stand up because of the intense hunger and cold.

‘Yes, O Messenger of God,’ I replied.

‘Some thing is happening among the people (meaning the forces of Abu Sufyaan). Infiltrate their encampment and bring me news of what’s happening,’ instructed the Prophet.

I set out. At that moment I was the most terrified person of all and felt terribly cold. The Prophet, peace be on him, prayed: ‘O Lord, protect him from in front and from behind, from his right and from his left, from above and from below.’

By God, no sooner had the Prophet, peace be on him, completed his supplication than God removed from my stomach all traces of fear and from my body all the punishing cold. As I turned to go, the Prophet called me back to him and said, ‘Hudhayfah, on no account do anything among the people (of the opposing forces) until you come back to me.’

‘Yes,’ I replied.

I went on, inching my way under cover of darkness until I penetrated deep into the mushrikeen camp and became just like one of them. Shortly afterwards, Abu Sufyan got up and began to address his men:

‘O people of the Quraysh, I am about to make a statement to you which I fear would reach Muhammad. Therefore, let every man among you look and make sure who is sitting next to him…’

On hearing this, I immediately grasped the hand of the man next to me and asked,

‘Who are you?’ (thus putting him on the defensive and clearing myself).

Abu Sufyaan went on:

‘O people of the Quraysh, by God, you are not in a safe and secure place. Our horses and camels have perished. The Banoo Qurayzah have deserted us and we have had unpleasant news about them. We are buffered by this bitterly cold wind. Our fires do not light and our uprooted tents offer no protection. So get moving. For myself, I am leaving.’

He went to his camel, untethered and mounted it. He struck it and it stood upright. If the Messenger of God, peace be on him, had not instructed me to do nothing until I returned to him, I would have killed Abu Sufyan then and there with an arrow.

I returned to the Prophet and found him standing on a blanket performing Salaat. When he recognized me, he drew me close to his legs and threw one end of the blanket over me. I informed him of what had happened. He was extremely happy and joyful and gave thanks and praise to Allah.”

***

Hudhayfah lived in constant dread of evil and corrupting influences. He felt that goodness and the sources of good in this life were easy to recognize for those who desired good. But it was evil that was deceptive and often difficult to perceive and combat.

He became something of a great moral philosopher. He always warned people to struggle against evil with all their faculties, with their heart, hands and tongue. Those who stood against evil only with their hearts and tongues, and not with their hands, he considered as having abandoned a part of truth. Those who hated evil only in their hearts but did not combat it with their tongues and hands forsook two parts of truth and those who neither detested nor confronted evil with their hearts, tongues or hands, he considered as physically alive but morally dead.

Speaking about ‘hearts’ and their relationship to guidance and error, he once said,

“There are four kinds of hearts. The heart that is encased or atrophied. That is the heart of the kaafir or ungrateful disbeliever. The heart that is shaped into thin layers. That is the heart of the munaafiq or hypocrite. The heart that is open and bare and on which shines a radiant light. That is the heart of the mu’min or the believer.

Finally there is the heart in which there is both hypocrisy and faith. Faith is like a tree which thrives with good water and hypocrisy is like an abscess which thrives on pus and blood. Whichever flourishes more, be it the tree of faith or the abscess of hypocrisy, wins control of the heart.”

Hudhayfah’s experience with hypocrisy and his efforts to combat it gave a touch of sharpness and severity to his tongue. He himself realized this and admitted it with a noble courage: “I went to the Prophet, peace be on him and said,

‘O Messenger of God, I have a tongue which is sharp and cutting against my family and I fear that this would lead me to hell-fire.’

The Prophet, peace be upon him, then said to me, “Where do you stand with regard to istighfaar – asking forgiveness from Allah? I ask Allah for fo rgiveness a hundred times during the day.”

A pensive man like Hudhayfah, one devoted to thought, knowledge and reflection may not have been expected to perform feats of heroism in battlefields. Yet Hudhayfah was to prove himself one of the foremost Muslim military commanders in the expansion of Islaam into Iraq. He distinguished himself at Hamadan, ar-Rayy, ad-Daynawar, and at the famous Battle of Nihawand.

For the encounter at Nihawand against the Persian forces, Hudhayfah was placed second in command by ‘Umar over the entire Muslim forces which numbered some thirty thousand. The Persian forces outnumbered them by five to one being some one hundred and fifty thousand strong. The first commander of the Muslim army, an-Numan ibn Maqran, fell early in the battle. The second in command, Hudhayfah, immediately took charge of the situation, giving instructions that the death of the commander should not be broadcast. Under Hudhayfah’s daring and inspiring leadership, the Muslims won a decisive victory despite tremendous odds.

Hudhayfah was made governor of important places like Kufa and Ctesiphon (al-Madain). When the news of his appointment as governor of Ctesiphon reached its inhabitants, crowds went out to meet and greet this famous companion of the Prophet of whose piety and righteousness they had heard so much about. His great role in the conquests of Persia was already a legend.

As the welcoming party waited, a lean, somewhat scrawny man with dangling feet astride a donkey approached. In his hand he held a loaf of bread and some salt and he ate as he went along. When the rider was already in their midst they realized that he was Hudhayfah, the governor for whom they were waiting. They could not contain their surprise. What manner of man was this! They could however be excused for not recognizing him for they were used to the style, the pomp and the grandeur of Persian rulers.

Hudhayfah carried on and people crowded around him. He saw they were expecting him to speak and he cast a searching look at their faces. Eventually, he said,

“Beware of places of fitnahTrial, Tribulation. (trials and temptations) and intrigue.”

“And what,” they asked, “are places of intrigue?” He replied,

“The doors of rulers where some people go and try to make the ruler or governor believe lies and praise him for (qualities) he does not possess.”

With these words, the people were prepared for what to expect from their new governor.

They knew at once that there was nothing in the world that he despised more than hypocrisy.

Courtesy : Idealmuslimah.com

The Shining Stars around the Prophet (PBUH) – Companion – Zayd ibn Thabit (RA)

Zayd ibn Thabit

We are in the second year of the Hijrah. Madinah the city of the Prophet is buzzing with activity as the Muslims prepare for the long march southwards to Badr.

The noble Prophet made a final inspection of the first army to be mobilized under his leadership to wage Jihad against those who had tormented the Muslims for many years and who were still bent on putting an end to his mission.

A youth, not yet thirteen, walked up to the ranks. He was confident and alert. He held a sword which was as long or possibly slightly longer than his own height. He went up to the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, and said: “I dedicate myself to you, Messenger of God. Permit me to be with you and to fight the enemies of God under your banner.”

The noble Prophet looked at him with admiration and patted his shoulder with loving tenderness. He commended him for his courage but refused to enlist him because he was still too young.

The youth, Zayd ibn Thabit, turned and walked away, dejected and sad. As he walked, in slow and measured paces, he stuck his sword in the ground as a sign of his disappointment. He was denied the honor of accompanying the Prophet on his first campaign. Behind him was his mother, an-Nawar bint Malik. She felt equally dejected and sad. She had dearly wished to see her young son go with the army of mujahidin and to be with the Prophet at this most critical time.

One year later, as preparations were underway for the second encounter with the Quraysh which took place at Uhud, a group of Muslim teenagers bearing arms of various kinds – swords, spears, bows and arrows and shields – approached the Prophet. They were seeking to be enlisted in any capacity in the Muslim ranks. Some of them, like Rafi ibn Khadij and Samurah ibn Jundub, who were strong and well-built for their age and who demonstrated their ability to wrestle and handle weapons, were granted permission by the Prophet to join the Muslim forces. Others like Abdullah the son of Umar and Zayd ibn Thabit were still considered by the Prophet to be too young and immature to fight. He promised though to consider them for a later campaign. It was only at the Battle of the Ditch when Zayd was about sixteen years old that he was at last allowed to bear arms in defence of the Muslim community.

Although Zayd was keen to participate in battles, it is not as a warrior that he is remembered. After his rejection for the Badr campaign, he accepted the fact then that he was too young to fight in major battles. His alert mind turned to other fields of service, which had no connection with age and which could bring him closer to the Prophet, peace be on him. He considered the field of knowledge and in particular of memorizing the Quran. He mentioned the idea to his mother. She was delighted and immediately made attempts to have his ambition realized. An-Nuwar spoke to some men of the Ansar about the youth’s desire and they in turn broached the matter with the Prophet, saying: “O Messenger of Allah, our son Zayd ibn Thabit has memorized seventeen surahs of the Book of Allah and recites them as correctly as they were revealed to you. In addition to that he is good at reading and writing. It is in this field of service that he desires to be close to you. Listen to him if you will.”

The Prophet, peace be on him, listened to Zayd reciting some surahs he had memorized. His recitation was clear and beautiful and his stops and pauses indicated clearly that he understood well what he recited. The Prophet was pleased. Indeed he found that Zayd’s ability exceeded the commendation he had been given by his relatives. The Prophet then set him a task which required intelligence, skill and persistence.

“Zayd, learn the writing of the Jews for me,” instructed the Prophet. “At your command, Messenger of Allah,” replied Zayd who set about learning Hebrew with enthusiasm. He became quite proficient in the language and wrote it for the Prophet when he wanted to communicate with the Jews. Zayd also read and translated from Hebrew when the Jews wrote to the Prophet. The Prophet instructed him to learn Syriac also and this he did. Zayd thus came to perform the important function of an interpreter for the Prophet in his dealings with non-Arabic speaking peoples.

Zayd’s enthusiasm and skill were obvious. When the Prophet felt confident of his faithfulness in the discharge of duties and the care, precision and understanding with which he carried out tasks, he entrusted Zayd with the weighty responsibility of recording the Divine revelation.

When any part of the Quran was revealed to the Prophet, he often sent for Zayd and instructed him to bring the writing materials, “the parchment, the ink-pot and the scapula”, and write the revelation.

Zayd was not the only one who acted as a scribe for the Prophet. One source has listed forty-eight persons who used to write for him. Zayd was very prominent among them. He did not only write but during the Prophet’s time he collected portions of the Quran that were written down by others and arranged these under the supervision of the Prophet. He is reported to have said:

“We used to compile the Quran from small manuscripts in the presence of the Prophet.” In this way, Zayd experienced the Quran directly from the Prophet himself. It could be said that he grew up with the verses of the Quran, understanding well the circumstances surrounding each revelation. He thus became well-versed in the secrets of the Shariah and at an early age gained the well-deserved reputation as a leading scholar among the companions of the Prophet.

After the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, the task fell on this fortunate young man who specialized in the Quran to authenticate the first and most important reference for the ummah of Muhammad. This became an urgent task after the wars of apostasy and the Battle of Yamamah in particular in which a large number of those who had committed the Quran to memory perished.

Umar convinced the Khalifah Abu Bakr that unless the Quran was collected in one manuscript, a large part of it was in danger of being lost. Abu Bakr summoned Zayd ibn Thabit and said to him: “You are an intelligent young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness) and you used to write the Divine revelation for Allah’s Messenger. Therefore look for (all parts of) the Quran and collect it in one manuscript.”

Zayd was immediately aware of the weighty responsibility. He later said: “By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains from its place, it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Quran.”

Zayd finally accepted the task and, according to him, “started locating the Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart)”.

It was a painstaking task and Zayd was careful that not a single error, however slight or unintentional, should creep into the work. When Zayd had completed his task, he left the prepared suhuf or sheets with Abu Bakr. Before he died, Abu Bakr left the suhuf with Umar who in turn left it with his daughter Hafsah. Hafsah, Umm Salamah and Aishah were wives of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them, who memorized the Quran.

During the time of Uthman, by which time Islam had spread far and wide, differences in reading the Quran became obvious. A group of companions of the Prophet, headed by Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman, who was then stationed in Iraq, came to Uthman and urged him to “save the Muslim ummah before they differ about the Quran”.

Uthman obtained the manuscript of the Quran from Hafsah and again summoned the leading authority, Zayd ibn Thabit, and some other competent companions to make accurate copies of it. Zayd was put in charge of the operation. He completed the task with the same meticulousness with which he compiled the original suhuf during the time of Abu Bakr.

Zayd and his assistants wrote many copies. One of these Uthman sent to every Muslim province with the order that all other Quranic materials whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies be burnt. This was important in order to eliminate any variations or differences from the standard text of the Quran. Uthman kept a copy for himself and returned the original manuscript to Hafsah.

Zayd ibn Thabit thus became one of the foremost authorities on the Quran. Umar ibn al-Khattab once addressed the Muslims and said: “O people, whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Zayd ibn Thabit.”

And so it was that seekers of knowledge from among the companions of the Prophet and the generation who succeeded them, known as the “Tabiun”, came from far and wide to benefit from his knowledge. When Zayd died, Abu Hurayrah said: “Today, the scholar of this ummah has died.”

When a Muslim holds the Quran and reads it or hears it being recited, surah after surah, ayah after ayah, he should know that he owes a tremendous debt of gratitude and recognition to a truly great companion of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit, for helping to preserve for all time to come the Book of Eternal Wisdom. Truly did Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, say: “Surely We have revealed the Book of Remembrance and We shall certainly preserve it.” (The Quran, Surah al-Hijr, 15:9)