A few days ago, while waiting for a bus to take me downtown, I met with a Canadian old lady. She wore a red poppy as a sign to remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty during the past world wars.
Spontaneously, I told her, “There is a great thing about you, Canadians!”
Enthusiastically she asked, “What is it? What do you mean?”
I said, “You, unlike many other peoples, never forget your heroes; those who have sacrificed themselves for the sake of their country! That is why, when your soldiers go to battle, they do their best as they know they would always be remembered!”
Then, while on the bus, I told myself, we have many heroes who set exceptional examples in terms of bravery and self-sacrifice throughout our Islamic history. But, almost no one remembers them or cares about commemorating them in any way.
Then, I thought about writing a brief account about some of them who were young but influential. Let me introduce 9 of the youngest leaders in Islamic history, many of whom are unknown to many.
Al-Arqam ibn Abi Al-Arqam (16 years old)
Though very young, he turned his home into the Prophet’s headquarters for 13 consecutive years. In so doing, he helped raise the first Muslim generation who protected the Prophet, defended the faith, and spread the Word of Allah across the globe.
Talha ibn Ubaid Allah (16 years old)
He embraced Islam in his teenage years and was one of the very first to believe in the new faith. Talha was also one of the most generous person among early Muslims.
In the battle of Uhud, he made a pledge to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he would die in the cause of Allah and, thus, protected the Prophet from the disbelievers. He shielded the Prophet against flying daggers and arrows with his own body until one of his fingers was paralyzed. However, he managed to save the Prophet’s life. He was also among the six persons Umar Ibn Al-Khattab nominated to choose one of them to be the next Caliph.
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas (17 years old)
At an age of 17, Sa`d was one of the very first people to believe in the Prophet and accept Islam. Also, he was the first to shoot an arrow for the defense of Islam; one of the ten persons who received the glad tidings from the Prophet as to enter Paradise; one of the six people nominated by Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab to choose one of them as his successor after his death. One day, the Prophet (peace be upon him) referred to him as saying, “This is my maternal uncle Sa`d. Is there anyone who has an uncle like him?!”
Az-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam (15 years old)
The first Muslim to unsheathe his sword in the cause of Allah. He was one of the close disciples of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Besides, he was among the six persons Umar Ibn Al-Khattab nominated to succeed him as Caliph.
Osama ibn Zayd (18 years old)
He was 18 but was qualified enough to be appointed by the Prophet as the leader of the last army he dispatched before he passed away. The army was to confront the Roman army, one of the mightiest armies on earth at that time. The army comprised prominent Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) such as Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq and Umar ibn Al-Khattab and many others,
Zayd ibn Thabit (13 years old)
One of the scribes of the Divine Revelation. Reportedly, he learned Syriac and Hebrew in 17 days and became the Prophet’s interpreter. He committed the Noble Qur’an to his heart and perfectly practiced it. He contributed to the compilation of the sacred word of Allah during Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq’s Caliphate.
Mu`adh ibn Amr ibn Al-Jamuh (13 years old), and Mu`awwadh ibn Afraa’ (14 years old)
In modern day’s terms, these two were only kids!
However, more than 1400 years ago, they managed to put an end to the life of one of the most enemies of Islam who spared no effort to harass the Prophet Companions. They killed Abu Jahl (Amr ibn Hisham) in the battle of Badr while he was commander of the polytheists.
Muhammad ibn Qasim Al-Thaqafi (17 years old)
A prominent leader who brought Islam to the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) during the Umayyad era. He was one of the greatest military leaders of his time. The Bin Qasim Town in Karachi is named after Muhammad ibn Qasim.
A final word
How are our youth today? What sort of role models do they have and cherish? What do they aspire to do or achieve?
Truly, some of our youth today speak of these or at least some of these prominent figures with admiration, while many others do not even know them or have never heard about them.
Our heroes can be a wonderful source of inspiration; let’s read about them and learn from their courage and sacrifice!