The Death of Abdullah bin Ubayy

Abdullah b. Ubay b. Salul, was the leader of the munafiqs. He worked very hard throughout his life in order to humiliate the Messenger of God, to prevent the development of Islam and to set Muslims against one another. He cast aspersions on many people in order to realize his evil aim. He committed some deeds in order to destroy the solidarity among Muslims when they needed solidarity the most. However, all of his attempts failed due to the help of God Almighty and the precautions of the Messenger of God.

Due to what the organization of mischief that he led did, many verses and even a complete chapter called “al-Munafiqun” were sent down. 

Therefore, the Messenger of God acted cautiously against them, controlled their attitudes and took precautions against their plans that aimed to break the alliance and solidarity of the Islamic community.

Abdullah, who used every means that he had in order to break the unity of the Islamic community, died in the month of Dhul-Qada in the 9th year of the Migration.[1]

The Prophet Leads his Janazah Prayer

Abdullah b. Ubay was the leader of munafiqs but his son Abdullah was a very sincere and pious Muslim. It was a manifestation of the power and wisdom of God Almighty, “who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living”. The father was the leader of munafiqs but the son was a mujahid...

When his father died, Abdullah went to the presence of the Messenger of God and said, “O Messenger of God! Will you give me your shirt? I want to enshroud my father in it.” Then, he said, “O Messenger of God! Will you lead his prayer and ask for his forgiveness?”[2]

It is very surprising that the Messenger of God took off his shirt and gave it to Abdullah to enshroud his father, who made plans against Islam and worked to realize those plans throughout his life, with it and said,  “Inform me when the janazah is ready; I will lead his prayer.”[3]

The Warning of Hazrat Umar

The dead body was ready. When the Prophet stood up to perform the janazah prayer, Hazrat Umar held the garment of the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of God! Did God not prohibit you from performing janazah prayers of munafiqs?”[4]

The Prophet smiled. He said, “I was left free to ask for their forgiveness or not. And I made my choice. God states the following in the Quran: ‘Whether thou ask for their forgiveness or not, (their sin is unforgivable): if thou ask seventy times for their forgiveness, God will not forgive them.’ (at-Tawba, 80)”[5]

Then, the Messenger of God (pbuh) performed the janazah prayer of  Abdullah b. Ubay and went to his grave.[6]

The Verse that was Sent down

Before long, the Prophet was given the following order by God Almighty regarding the dead bodies of munafiqs:

“Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave: for they rejected God and His Messenger and died in a state of perverse rebellion.”[7]

After that, the Prophet did not lead the janazah prayer of any munafiqs and did not go to their graves.[8]

Wisdom

There were many reasons behind the Prophet’s leading the janazah prayer of a man who worked hard to divide the Islamic community throughout his life.

The most important reason was to make people who had gathered around him have belief. As a matter of fact, when the Messenger of God was asked why he gave his shirt and why he led the janazah prayer of Abdullah b. Ubay b. Salul, he gave the following answer:  

“My shirt and the janazah prayer I performed will not save him from the torture of my Lord. However, I hope that one thousand people from his tribe will become sincere Muslims thanks to them.”[9]

Indeed, one thousand people became Muslims when they saw that the Messenger of God treated Abdullah b. Ubay so graciously.[10]

Hazrat Umar regretted his act and said,  “God and His Messenger definitely know better.”[11]

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[1]Ibn Kathir, Sirah, Vol. 4, p. 64.

[2]Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 2, p. 18.

[3]Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 18; Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 76; Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 5, p. 280.

[4]Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 18; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 4, p. 1865.

[5]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 4, p. 197; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ibid, Vol. 1, p. 16; Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 5, p. 279.

[6]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 197; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ibid, Vol. 1, p. 16; Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 5, p. 279.

[7]At-Tawba, 84.

[8]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 197; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ibid, Vol. 1, p. 16.

[9]Tabari, Tafsir, Vol. 10, 206.

[10]Ayni, Umdatu’l-Qari, Vol. 8, p. 54.

[11]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 197.

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