By Zaynab AbdurRazaq
In the earliest time of the mission of Rasulullah, (SAW), it was foolhardy for anyone to listen and accept the message of Islam. As Rasulullah (SAW) laboured hard to lay the foundation of faith in the brutish community of Jahiliyyah, a few men from the poor and low rank, and still more few from the aristocrats heard, understood and accepted Islam. One of them was ‘Ayyaash Bn Abi Rabi’ah.
Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabi’ah (R.A) was one of the earliest converts who accepted Islam directly from Rasulullah (SAW). He accepted Islam while the persecution of Muslims was getting to its peak; no one dared declare Islam in the open. Even free men concealed their faith until it became undeniably exposed. His conversion took place before the first migration to Abyssinia. This means, he was one of those who was touched in the heart by Islam in its purest and earliest form.
He comes from Banu Makhzoom; the most powerful and richest clan in Makkah. He was a half-brother to Abu Jahl and shared a very close connection with his brother, Salamah ibn Abi Rabi’ah. He was an uncle to Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl and a cousin to both Umar bn Khattab and Khalid bn Waleed. In essence, apart from his noble birth, he was also in the circle of the men of the moment in Makkah.
When it became public knowledge that Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabi’ah (R.A) had become a Muslim, Abu Jahl – his half-brother was mad with rage. He tried to dissuade Ayyaash by imprisonment with his brother Salamah. He was however resolute. Following his mother’s plea, he was released with Salamah and he was once again free in the town of Makkah. Within the first period of his imprisonment, his friend and cousin, Umar bb Al-Khattab had embraced Islam.
The plan for immigration to Medina to escape the unbridled persecution of Muslims in Makkah was being concluded when the Quraysh got to know and they were eager to stop their relations from migrating. However, ‘Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabi’ah (R.A) escaped and migrated to Medina alongside his cousin, Umar bn Khattab.
When Abu Jahl came to know that ‘Ayyaash had migrated to Medina, he became terribly bothered. The first step he took was that he imprisoned Salamah in anticipation that he might also be planning to join ‘Ayyash. Then the plot to stop ‘Ayyash from being among the Muslims in Madinah was hatched around his weakness – his love for his mother; he had the sweetest spot for his mother. Abu Jahl plotted with his other brother, Harith ibn Abi Rabi’ah (who was the father of Juwayriyah bint Harith, one of the wives of the Prophet (SAW)), to use his greatest weakness against him.
Abu Jahl went in person accompanied by Harith ibn Abi Rabi’ah to Medina. Upon sighting Abu Jahl, ‘Ayyash challenged him asking him his mission in Medina, reminding Abu Jahl that Medina was different from Makkah. Abu Jahl lied to Ayyaash that his mother was ill and has vowed not to go under any shade until she sees the face of ‘Ayyaash.
Umar bn Khattab, who was with ‘Ayyash immediately saw treachery in Abu Jahl’s mission. Umar bn Khattab warned Ayyaash that it was probably a ploy to get him back to Madinah. Umar also reminded him the limit to which any human can endure in the harsh sun of Makkah. Umar was sure that Abu Jahl had nothing good in his mission. However, such was ‘Ayyaash’s love for his mother that he did not listen to the advice from Umar. Indeed, his greatest weakness was his mother and he held her in such great esteem. Coincidentally, he was also most beloved to the mother therefore he could not bear the thought of his mother under the hot blazing Makkan sun.
Despite Umar’s advice, ‘Ayyaash decided to follow Abu Jahl and Harith. Umar was convinced that Abu Jahl had a different intention, he therefore gave ‘Ayyaash his own camel should he need it for quick escape if he realises that it was all a deceitful plot. However, his brothers overpowered him enroute Makkah and tied him like a goat till they got to Makkah. Back in Makkah, he was pushed into prison where he joined Salamah, his beloved brother and friend.
Salamah reported that he heard Abu Hurayrah report that during this period of captivity he always heard the Prophet (SAW) pray to Allah and specifically mention the names of ‘Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabi’ah, Salaamah ibn Abi Rabi’ah and Waleed ibn Waleed Al-Mughirah to be released from captivity before praying for captives in general. Apparently, ‘Ayyaash was kept in captivity with his dearest brother and his gentle cousin, whom have accepted Islam in the earliest times. Waleed ibn Waleed Al-Mughirah joined the duo in prison after he was captured and released during the battle of Badr which hurt the Quraysh to the marrow.
‘Ayyaash was not able to participate in the first three battles – Badr, Uhud and Trench. Shortly after the trench, there was the Truce of Hudaybiyyah. There was an ominous clause in the treaty that made the Quraysh revel and make the Muslims look meek. It was stated in the clause that, “If anyone from the Quraish goes over to Muhammad (SAW) without his guardian’s permission, meaning a fugitive, he should be sent back to the Quraish. But should any of Muhammad’s followers return to the Quraish, he shall not be sent back.”
The above provision of the treaty caused serious disquiet amongst Muslims but they listened to the counsel of people like Abu Bakr who saw light at the end of the tunnel. He knew the prophet had divine guidance which will avail him in all difficult circumstances. It was this divine guidance that saved the likes of ‘Ayyaash. Believing that such captives could not escape to Medina, they were all freed to roam in Makkah. It was done to show how powerless Rasulullah was.
However, Allah had a different design. Abu Baseer escaped from Makkah to Medina and when his guardians came for him, he was released. On the way back to Makkah, he escaped and rallied all Muslims waiting in Makkah to the desert between Makkah and Medina. In essence, they were not under the control of the authorities in Medina and have escaped from Quraysh. ‘Ayyaash by Abi Rabiah was one of them along with Salamah and Waleed Bn Waleed Bn Mughirah.
Staying on a spread of land towards Makkah, they waylaid goods going into Makkah and became a regular threat to the caravan trade, sole of survival for Makkah. ‘Ayyaash, Salamah and Waleed played prominent roles in the attack on the caravan that took place. When the Makkans could no longer take the loss of their caravan anymore, they had to appeal to Rasulullah to relieve them from the unfortunate clause in the treaty. The gang of Abu Basree was therefore able to join the Muslims in Madinah.
Back in Madinah, ‘Ayyaash played prominent roles in various campaigns of the Muslims, after the conquest of Makkah. In all these, it was his role in the battle of Yarmouk that has been glowingly recorded. On the sixth day of the battle, which was the final day, the Romans wanted to give as much as they took and it was too tough for the Muslims. The desert sun was blazing high, and dust was spewing left, right and centre due to the stomping feet and falling bodies, the Muslim army was at the brink of a fiasco. A flank of the army was being breached by the Byzantine soldiers and something needed to be done.
Khalid ibn Al Waleed who was the commander, commanded Ikrimah to take charge and Ikrimah bravely yelled: “Who wants to taste martyrdom with me?” ‘Ayyaash and Salamah quickly joined the group of 400 hundred men who bravely fought back the Byzantine army till their last breath and this sacrifice of blood and life was what led the Muslims to victory.
Ayyaash was buried in the same grave with his brother upon instruction from Khalid because they lived life together and died together. Khalid prayed over the bodies of the fallen men of his clan and declared that the Makhzoom tribe could never have such dutiful men in their ranks again.
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