The Army of Usama

It was the 11th year of the Migration, the month of Safar 26, Monday.

It was one day before the Messenger of Allah became ill. Despite this, he was busy with taking measures and attempting to do necessary things for the development of Islam.

The Byzantine Empire was still a big danger for the Islamic state. The Byzantine had not been defeated completely and they had not learned a lesson. Therefore, the Prophet gave great importance to the issue.  

On Monday, he told his Companions to get ready for the expedition. The target was clear: Fighting the Byzantines. The Muslims who heard the order of the Prophet went to their houses at once to make preparations.

The next day, on Saturday, the Messenger of Allah summoned Usama b. Zayd. He gave Usama the following order: 

“I have appointed you as the commander of the army that is being prepared. Act fast and attack the people that martyred your father. If Allah gives you victory, do not stay there long; return.”[1]

The Prophet Becomes Ill

One day after giving this order, the Prophet became ill suddenly but he did not give up preparing the army. One day later, on Thursday, the Prophet gave the standard to Usama with his own hands though he was ill.  

He said, “O Usama! Fight in the way of Allah on behalf of Allah and fight those who deny Allah.” Then, he addressed the Muslims, “Do not break your promise! Do not kill small children and women. Do not desire to confront the enemy because you cannot know what will happen. You might suffer a misfortune because of them. Pray as follows: ‘O Allah! Help us; eliminate our enemies; save us from their harm!’” Then, he said, “Do not forget that Paradise is under the flashes of the swords.”[2]

After giving the standard to Burayda b. Husayb, Usama set up the headquarters of the army in Juruf as the Prophet ordered. The Muslims who finished their preparations went there. 

Some Words

Usama was busy preparing his army. The Muslims were trying to finish their preparations. There were many notables of the Companions like Hazrat Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas, Ubayda b. Jarrah in the army. Usama, who was not even twenty years old yet, was appointed as the commander of that army. 

This situation caused many nasty sentences like the following to be uttered:  “A young man who is not twenty yet is appointed as the commander and many notables of the Companions were put under his command. How can this be possible?”

Ayyash b. Abi Rabia said “How can this young man be appointed as the leader of the first muhajirs?”[3]

There were a lot of words and rumors as if Usama had not been appointed by the Messenger of Allah.

Hazrat Umar heard what people were talking about. He gave the necessary answers to those people and went to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to tell him about the situation.

The Prophet was lying in bed due to the illness he was suffering. As soon as he heard about the situation, he became very angry. He stood up with his head wrapped and went to the mosque with the help of his Companions. He ascended to the pulpit. After praising and thanking Allah, he said, “O people! I have heard that you talk and criticize because I appointed Usama as the commander.” He added:

“You seem to be opposing my appointing Usama as the commander. You did the same thing when I appointed his father as a commander. By Allah, Usama’s father showed that he deserved to be a commander; similarly, Usama deserves to be the commander. I loved his father very much; Usama is one of the people that I love. He has the properties that will do all kinds of good deeds. Expect good deeds from him. Since Usama is one of the best ones of you, he deserves to be the commander.”[4]

After this address, the Prophet descended from the pulpit and went to his house. The Muslims that would join the Islamic army visited him and said goodbye. The Prophet said to them, “Do not postpone sending Usama.”[5]

His nanny, Usama’s mother, went to the Prophet’s house and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Will you let Usama stay in the headquarters for a while?” The Prophet said the same thing: “Do not neglect to send Usama. Send him.”

Upon this definite order, the Muslims went to the headquarters.

[1]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 4, p. 291; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 190.

[2]Waqidi, Maghazi, Vol. 3, p. 1117-1118; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 190.

[3]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 190.

[4]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 190; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 2, p. 20; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 4, p. 1884-1885.

[5]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 190.