Imagine a young man, the heartthrob of Makkah. You can tell by the scent of perfume that he has passed by this road. The most handsome, the best dressed, pampered by his mother, he had every comfort that was available in that city at that time. Historians of the past have described him as ‘the most charming of the Makkans’!
Now imagine a man, lying dead on the ground, bloodied and mutilated. Both his hands have been cut off. He has only one piece of garment which, if they cover the head, his feet are exposed, and if they cover his feet, his head is exposed. He is put in his grave with leaves covering his feet because he doesn’t have any clothes to cover them with.
Can anyone picture these two being the same man? And yet he was – Mus’ab ibn Umayr. He was the first Muslim to be sent by the Prophet Muhammad with a Da’wah mission. He was sent to Madinah when there were a handful of Muslims there, and when he came back to Makkah, he had seventy Muslims with him eager to pledge allegiance to the Prophet.
What was this person, whom the Prophet trusted with such a heavy mission, really like? Let us have a look at some of his characteristics, in order to take lessons from them and apply them in our own lives.
1- Strong Personality
When he, still a disbeliever, heard about what was the hot news of Makkah, that the Prophet was teaching a new religion and denouncing their gods, he wasted no time. He went to the secret place of meeting of the Muslims in order to hear the Prophet.
No sooner had he started listening to this beautiful message, than he got excited and ecstatic. The thoughts which plagued so many other Makkans and deterred them from accepting Islam, social stigma, problems with family and friends, risk of abuse, these didn’t succeed in deterring him.
His mother was known for her strong personality, to the point that people feared her. He at first kept his Islam secret from his mother in order to avoid confrontation. But his mother got to know anyway, from a man amongst the spies keeping track of the activities of Muslims. He was imprisoned and treated harshly, and yet he stood his ground.
After forsaking the life of luxury, he had to wear ragged garments and live like a varmint of the earth. It is difficult to go to sleep at night with an empty stomach, but it is more difficult if you have lived in luxury and grandeur all your life. Yet he was patient until his dying moment.
One day the companions saw him in his ragged state and started crying. The Prophet said:
I saw Mus’ab here, and there was no youth in Makkah more petted by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet.
3- Knowledge and Wisdom
Having learned the deen from the Prophet Muhammad, he was sent to teach it to the people of Madinah, on his own with no other co-teacher. Obviously the Prophet picked someone up to that task. There were other companions older than him, and yet the Prophet chose him as the best person for the task of preparing the grounds for the Prophet’s city, to prepare it for the task of becoming the springboard of Islam.
He went with twelve people and came back with seventy. That itself is the proof of his success by the permission of Allah.
Imagine this angry man coming to tell of Mus’ab and his circle of pupil. He is informed that here is a chieftain of the Madinans coming to tackle him. No sooner has he come near then he shouts, ‘What brought you here? Are you coming to corrupt our faith? Go away if you wish to be saved!’
It is his extreme wisdom and gentleness of his character that is manifested so beautifully in his reply:
‘Won’t you sit down and listen? If you like our cause, you can accept; and if you dislike it, we will spare you of what you hate.’
After listening to him, the chieftain accepted Islam and through him many others.
Muslims are losing the battle. Everything was in confusion. People are fleeing from the enemy. Only a very little band of Muslims remain fighting. That was the battle of Uhud, and Mus’ab was one of the few brave men and women who remained.
The polytheists had targeted the Prophet and were trying to close in on him to kill him. Mus’ab, when he became aware of this, started shouting at the top of his voice, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ He drew attention of the enemy away from the Prophet towards himself.
Finally they killed him. Before dying he said his famous words, that later Allah revealed in the Quran:
Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? (3:144)