Musab ibn Umayr’s rich parents lavished a great deal of care and attention on him. As a youth he was admired by the Quraysh not only for his good looks and style but for his intelligence. He attending Quraysh meetings and gatherings, and was in a position to know the issues that concerned the Makkans. Among Makkans there was a sudden concern as Muhammad (S), known as al-Amin (the Trustworthy), emerged saying that Allah had sent him as a bearer of good tidings and a warner. He warned the Quraysh of a chastisement if they did not turn to the worship and obedience of Allah and he spoke of rewards for the righteous. The Quraysh leaders thought of ways of silencing him. When ridicule and persuasion did not work, they embarked on a campaign of harassment and persecution. Musab learned Muhammad (S) and those who believed in his message were gathering in the house of al-Arqam near the hill of as-Safa to evade Quraysh harassment. Musab proceeded to the house undeterred by the knowledge of Quraysh hostility. There he met the Prophet (S) teaching his companions, reciting the verses of the Quran to them and performing Salat with them in submission to Allah, the Great, the Most High. The Prophet (S) welcomed him, and with his noble hand tenderly touched Musab's heart as it throbbed with excitement. Musab was totally overwhelmed by what he had seen and heard. The words of the Quran had made a deep and immediate impact on him. In this first meeting with the Prophet (S), Musab declared his acceptance of Islam. The keen mind of Musab, his tenacious determination, his eloquence and his beautiful character were now in the service of Islam.
On accepting Islam Musab had one major concern - his mother, Khunnas bint Malik. She was a woman of power who had a dominant personality and could easily arouse fear and terror. All the powerful nobles of Makkah against him were of little consequence to him. Having his mother as an opponent, however, could not be taken lightly. Musab thought quickly. He decided that he should conceal his acceptance of Islam until such time as a solution should come from Allah. He continued to frequent the House of al-Arqam and sit in the company of the Prophet (S). He felt serene in his new faith and by keeping all indications of his acceptance of Islam away from her, he managed to stave off his mother's wrath, but not for long. Behind every footstep imprinted in the soft and burning sand was a Quraysh informer. Before long, Musab was seen as he quietly entered the House of al-Arqam, by someone called Uthman ibn Talhah. At another time, Uthman saw Musab praying in the same manner as Muhammad (S) prayed. As winds in a storm, the news of Musab's acceptance of Islam spread among the Quraysh and eventually reached his mother. Musab stood before his mother, his clan and the Quraysh nobility who had all gathered to find out what he had done and what he had to say for himself. With a certain humility and calm confidence, Musab acknowledged that he had become a Muslim. He then recited some verses of the Quran which had cleansed the hearts of the believers and brought them back to the natural religion of Allah. Though only few in number, their hearts were now filled with wisdom, honor, justice and courage. As Musab's mother listened to her son on whom she had lavished so much care and affection, she became increasingly incensed. She felt like silencing him with one terrible blow. But the hand which shot out like an arrow staggered and faltered before the light which radiated from Musab's serene face. Still she felt she had to do something to avenge the gods which her son had forsaken. The solution she decided upon was far worse for Musab than a few blows could ever have been. She had Musab taken to a far corner of the house. There he was firmly bound. Musab remained confined under the watchful eyes of guards whom his mother had placed over him to prevent him from any contact with Muhammad (S) and his faith.
Despite his ordeal, Musab did not waver. For him, as for many other Muslims, life in Makkah was becoming more and more intolerable. Eventually he heard that a group of Muslims were preparing secretly to migrate to Abyssinia. His immediate thoughts were how to escape from his prison and join them. At the first chance, when his mother and his warders were off-guard, he managed to slip away quietly. Then with utmost haste he joined the other refugees and before long they sailed together across the Red Sea to Africa. Although the Muslims enjoyed peace and security, they longed to be in Makkah in the company of the Prophet (S). When a report reached Abyssinia that the conditions in Makkah had improved, Musab was among the first to return to Makkah. The report was in fact false and Musab once again left for Abyssinia. Whether he was in Makkah or Abyssinia, Musab remained strong in his new faith and his main concern was to make his life worthy of his Creator. When Musab returned to Makkah again, his mother made a last attempt to gain control of him and threatened to have him tied up again. Separation was inevitable. When the moment came, it was sad for both mother and son but it revealed a strong persistence in disbelief on the part of the mother and an even greater persistence in faith on the part of the son. As she threw him out of her house and cut him off from all the material comforts she used to lavish on him, she said: "Go to your own business. I am not prepared to be a mother to you." Musab went up close to her and said: "Mother, I advise you sincerely. I am concerned about you. Do testify that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger." "I swear by the shooting stars, I shall not enter your religion even if my opinion is ridiculed and my mind becomes impotent," she insisted. Musab thus left her home. He was determined to use his talents and energies in acquiring knowledge and in serving Allah and His Prophet (S). One day, several years later, Musab came upon other Muslims sitting around the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. They bowed their heads and lowered their gaze when they saw Musab, and some were even moved to tears. This was because his garment was old and in tatters and they were immediately taken back to the days before his acceptance of Islam when he was a model of sartorial elegance. The Prophet (S) looked at Musab, smiled gracefully and said: "I have seen this Musab with his parents in Makkah. They lavished care and attention on him and gave him all comforts. There was no Quraysh youth like him. Then he left all that seeking the pleasure of Allah and devoting himself to the service of His Prophet (S)."
After about ten years of inviting people to Islam, most of Makkah still remained hostile. The noble Prophet (S) then went to Taif seeking new adherents to the faith. He was repulsed and chased out of the city. The future of Islam looked bleak. It was just after this that the Prophet (S) chose Musab to be his "ambassador" to Yathrib to teach a small group of believers who had come to pledge allegiance to Islam and prepare Madinah for the day of the great Hijrah. No doubt Musab was chosen for this task because of his noble character, his fine manners and his sharp intellect. His knowledge of the Quran and his ability to recite it beautifully was also an important consideration. Musab understood his mission well. He knew that he was on a mission to invite people to Allah and the straight path of Islam and to prepare what was to be the territorial base for the young and struggling Muslim community. He entered Madinah as a guest of Saad ibn Zurarah of the Khazraj tribe. Together they went to people, to their homes and their gatherings, telling them about the Prophet (S), explaining Islam to them and reciting the Quran. Through the grace of Allah, many accepted Islam. This was especially pleasing to Musab but profoundly alarming to many leaders of the society. Once Musab and Saad were sitting near a well in an orchard of the Zafar clan. With them were a number of new Muslims and others who were interested in Islam. A powerful notable of the city, Usayd ibn Khudayr, came up brandishing a spear. He was livid with rage. Saad ibn Zararah saw him and told Musab: "This is a chieftain of his people. May Allah place truth in his heart." "If he sits down, I will speak to him," replied Musab, displaying calm and tact. The angry Usayd shouted abuse and threatened Musab and his host. "Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive." Musab smiled a warm and friendly smile and said to Usayd: "Won't you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission. accept it and if you dislike it we would stop telling you what you dislike and leave." "That's reasonable," said Usayd and, sticking his spear in the ground, sat down. Musab began telling him about Islam and recited the Quran to him. Even before Usayd spoke, it was clear from his face, now radiant and expectant, that faith had entered his heart. He said: "How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion?" "Have a bath, purify yourself and your clothes. Then utter the testimony of Truth (Shahadah), and perform Salat. Usayd left the gathering and was absent for only a short while. He returned and testified that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. He then prayed two rakats and said: "After me, there is a man who if he follows you, everyone of his people will follow him. I shall send him to you now. He is 'Saad ibn Muadh." Saad ibn Muadh came and listened to Musab. He was convinced and satisfied and declared his submission to Allah. He was followed by another important Yathribite, Saad ibn Ubadah. Before long, the people of Yathrib were all in a flurry, asking one another. "If Usayd ibn Khudayr, Saad ibn Muadh and Saad ibn Ubadah have accepted the new religion, how can we not follow? Let's go to Musab and believe with him. They say that truth emanates from his lips." The first ambassador of the Prophet (S), was thus successful. The Prophet (S) had chosen well. Men and women, the young and the old, the powerful and the weak accepted Islam at his hands The way was being prepared for the great Hijrah. Yathrib was soon to become Madinah, the center and the base for the Islamic State.
When Musab returned to Makkah he was a group of 75 Muslims from Madinah. Again at Aqabah, near Mina, they met the Prophet (S). There they solemnly undertook to defend the Prophet (S) at all cost. Should they remain firm in their faith, their reward, said the Prophet (S), would be nothing less than Paradise. Shortly after the Pledge, the Prophet (S) directed his persecuted followers to migrate to Yathrib where the new Muslims or Ansar (Helpers) had shown their willingness to give asylum and extend their protection to them. The first of the Prophet (S)'s companions to arrive in Madinah were Musab ibn Umayr and the blind Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. Abdullah also recited the Quran beautifully and according to one of the Ansar, both Musab and Abdullah recited the Quran for the people of Yathrib.
Among the prisoners after the Battle of Badr was Abu Aziz ibn Umayr, the brother of Musab. Abu Aziz related what happened: "I was among a group of Ansar...Whenever they had lunch or dinner they would give me bread and dates to eat in obedience to the Prophet (S)'s instructions to them to treat us well. "My brother, Musab ibn Umayr, passed by me and said to the man from the Ansar who was holding me prisoner: 'Tie him firmly... His mother is a woman of great wealth and maybe she would ransom him for you.'" Abu Aziz could not believe his ears. He turned to Musab and asked: "My brother, is this your instruction concerning me?" "He is my brother, not you," replied Musab affirming the bonds of faith were stronger than the ties of kinship.
At the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet (S) called upon Musab al-Khayr (the Good), to carry the Muslim standard. At the beginning of the battle, the Muslims gained the upper hand. A group of Muslims then went against the orders of the Prophet (S) and deserted their positions. The disbelieves’ forces rallied again and launched a counterattack. Their main objective, as they cut through the Muslim forces, was to get to the noble Prophet (S). Musab realized the great danger facing the Prophet (S). With the standard in one hand and his sword in the other, he plunged into the Quraysh forces. A Quraysh horseman moved in close and severed his right hand. His left hand was then severed also and as he held the standard between the stumps of his arms, to console himself he repeated: "Muhammad is only a Messenger of Allah. Messengers have passed away before him." Musab was then hit by a spear. He fell and the standard fell. The words he repeated, every time he was struck were later revealed to the Prophet (S) and completed, and became part of the Quran.
After the battle, the Prophet (S) and his companions went through the battlefield, bidding farewell to the martyrs. When they came to Musab's body, tears flowed. Khabbah related that they could not find any cloth with which to shroud Musab's body, except his own garment. When they covered his head with it, his legs showed and when his legs were covered, his head was exposed and the Prophet (S) instructed: "Place the garment over his head and cover his feet and legs with the leaves of the idhkhir (rue) plant." The Prophet (S) felt deep pain and sorrow at the number of his companions who were killed at the Battle of Uhud. These included his uncle Hamzah whose body was horribly mutilated. But it was over the body of Musab that the Prophet (S) stood, with great emotion. He remembered Musab as he first saw him in Makkah, stylish and elegant, and then looked at the short burdah which was now the only garment he possessed and he recited the verse of the Quran: "Among the believers are men who have been true to what they have pledged to Allah." The Prophet (S) then said: "The Messenger of Allah testifies that you are martyrs in the sight of Allah on the day of Qiyamah."
Back to Stories of the Companions