The Incident of Raji

(4th Year of the Migration, the Month of Safar)

After the Battle of Uhud, some Arab tribes thought that Muslims became weak due to their defeat in the battle ; they started to have some movements and acts against Madinah, the center of Islam. One of those who started to prepare was Khalid b. Sufyan. When he completed the preparations to walk against Madinah, the Prophet heard about it. He sent Abdullah b. Unays in order to find out about news. Abdullah b. Unays, who learned that it was true from Khalid b. Sufyan, who was the planner of act, killed him with his sword.[1]

This event caused the other tribes around to be inactive for a while but they were fostering their feelings of vengeance and attack against Muslims.

When the sly enemy found out that they would not cope with Muslims openly, they tried to find other ways to satisfy their feeling of vengeance. A delegate of six people from the tribes of Adal and Qara disguised as innocent people came to Madinah. They said that they were Muslims and went to the presence of the Prophet. 

They said, “O Messenger of God! Islam has spread among our tribe. Please send some of your Companions to explain us the decrees of Islam and to teach the Quran!”[2]

The Messenger of God did what they wanted because their demand seemed innocent and reasonable and it would serve Islam. He sent ten Companions under the command of Marsad b. Abi Marsad with them. Seven of the ten Companions whose names were known were as follows:

Marsad b. Abi Marsad, Khalid b. Abi Bukayr, Abdullah b. Tarıq, Asim b. Thabit, Hubayb b. Adiyy, Zayd b. Dasinna and Muattib b. Ubayd.[3]

When the Companions came to the well belonging to the tribe of Huzay called Raji, they understood that they faced a mean and villainous betrayal. They were exposed to the attack of about a hundred archers all of a sudden. The people who had said, “We embraced Islam; send us a delegate to teach us” left them under the attack of the archers of the tribe of Lihyan. 

The Muslims drew their swords and took shelter on the mountain. They tried to defend themselves with their swords but they could not resist for a long time. The traitors surrounded the mountain they had sheltered.

They said, “If you surrender and come down, we will not kill you!” The Muslim teachers did not rely on what the polytheists said and refused to surrender. One of them, Asim b. Thabit said, “I have sworn that I will never accept the protection of polytheists. I will never surrender to those unbelievers” Then, he prayed, “O God! Inform your Messenger about us.” Meanwhile, he was throwing arrows at the polytheists. While throwing arrows, he said, “Why should I not fight? I am strong enough; my arrows are with me; the string of my arrow is thick; arrows flow thanks to my bow.

“Death is bound to come; the world is ephemeral.

What is predetermined is to be suffered!

People will return to God sooner or later!

If I do not fight you, let my mother lose her son.”[4]

When that heroic Companion ran out of arrows, he started to use his spear. When his spear broke, he drew his sword. After killing many polytheists, his last prayer was,  

“O God!  I tried to protect your religion; protect my dead body from the polytheists.”

The other Companions fought heroically, too. However, what could ten people do against one hundred people. Eventually, seven Companions, including Asim b. Thabit, were martyred by the arrows of the polytheists. When the remaining three Companions were promised by the polytheists that they would not be killed, they surrendered. The polytheists tied them fast with the strings of their bows. Then, they set out for Makkah. Their aim was to sell them to the polytheists of the Quraysh, whose hearts were full of grudge and hatred against them. 

On the way to Makkah, Abdullah b. Tariq ran away. However, he was martyred by the stones thrown by the polytheists. Two Companions were left:  Zayd b. Dasinna and Hubayb b. Adiyy. The polytheists sold them in Makkah.

Asim b. Thabit had killed two sons of Sulafa, a ferocious polytheist woman,  in the Battle of Uhud. That evil woman had sworn that she would drink wine out of Asim’s skull if she captured him. The Sons of Lihya knew about it. Therefore, they wanted to take the head of Asim b. Thabit to that woman in Makkah. However, God did not let them do it. God Almighty accepted Asim b. Thabit’s prayer, “O God! I sacrificed my soul in order to protect your sublime religion beginning from the day I became a Muslim. Today is my last day. Protect my dead body from the polytheists!”[5], which he said just before he was martyred. When the polytheists wanted to approach his dead body, a swarm of bees appeared next to his dead body and did not let them approach it. Therefore, they left that place and decided to take the dead body the next morning. However, when they arrived there in the morning, his dead body was not there. The polytheists were surprised because God Almighty sent rain during the night and the flood drifted the dead body, protecting it from the filthy hands of the polytheists.    

Hazrat Hubayb and Hazrat Zayd are Martyred

Hazrat Hu­bayb b. Adiyy and Zayd b. Dasinna, who were taken to Makkah by the Sons of Lihya, were bought by some people whose relatives had been killed in Badr and were imprisoned. The decision of the Quraysh was to kill those two Companions. After inflicting torture on them for a while, they took them to the place called Tanim one day. Those two heroic Companions hugged each other and advised patience to each other.   

Tanim was full of people: young and old male and female. They had gone there to watch the wild torture that those two Companions would suffer. They went there to cheer the murderers who trampled on freedom and humanity. They knew that they could not take the revenge of Badr in Uhud with their unfinished victory; therefore, they wanted to take their revenge on those two innocent, defenseless and unarmed Companions by hanging them.  

Hazrat Hubayb is Martyred

They had dug a hole and set up the gallows tree.

They took Hubayb toward the gallows. Hubayb, whose heart was full of the love of God and His Messenger, was calm and unhesitant. He regarded being martyred for the religion of God as the greatest honor. He wanted permission to perform a two-rak’ah prayer. When they let him, he turned to his Lord with all his sincerity. After performing the prayer, he turned to the polytheists and said, “I swear by God that I would prolong the prayer if I did not fear that you would say, ‘Hubayb feared death and prolonged the prayer!’”[6]

Thus, Hazrat Hubayb became the first person to start the practice of performing a two-rak’ah prayer before being executed.[7]

The polytheists said to him, “If you give up Muhammad’s religion and return to your ancestors’ religion, we will forgive you!”

The heroic Companion said, “By God, no! I will never give up Islam. Even if you gave me the whole world, I would not give up Islam!”

This time, the polytheists said, “Tell us the truth; you would be pleased if Muhammad was here instead of you and killed instead of you, wouldn’t you?”

The answer of the Companion, who was yearning for the love of the Messenger of God, astonished the polytheists: “I swear by God that I would rather lose my house, life and family than hear that a thorn prick the foot of the Prophet!”

The polytheists just laughed at the answers of Hubayb because they had never seen such sacrifice and they had not experienced the happiness of loyalty to God and His Messenger.

When the Companion looked around, he could not see even one luminous face. All of the faces were sullen; the ugliness of the polytheism was manifest on their faces. There was nobody that could send his greetings to the Prophet among the crowd. He had nothing to do but send his greetings on the gallows tree. He invoked:

“O God!  I can see nothing but the faces of the enemy now!

“O God!  There is nobody that can give my regards to Your Messenger here! Please give my regards to him!

“O God!  You informed us about the prophethood of Your Messenger. Inform him about what happened to use in the morning.”[8]

While he was praying, the Messenger of God received the greetings of Hubayb in Madinah saying, “Peace be on you!” Then, he turned to his Companions and said, “The Qurayshis martyred Hubayb.”

Hazrat Hubayb was tied to the tree. There were forty young people whose fathers had been killed standing against him with their spears. When they received the order, they started to hit him with the spears. They wanted Hubayb to die under torture. For a moment, Hubayb turned his face toward the Kaaba and thanked God for it: ”Praise be to God, who turned my face  to the qiblah that God, His Messenger and believers are pleased with.”

The Qurayshi polytheists could not put up with it anymore and turned his face away from the Kaaba. However, the self-sacrificing Companion wanted to be martyred facing the Kaaba. He prayed his Merciful Lord, “O God! If I am a good person in the eye of You, turn my face toward the qiblah.”

The polytheists could not turn Hubayb’s face, which had been turned to the qiblah, away from the qiblah.[9]

There was very little time left for Hubayb to be martyred. He prayed against those who inflicted that torture on him due to his belief in and love of God and His Messenger by saying, “O God! Destroy the Qurayshi polytheists; eliminate them. Kill them all! Do not leave any one of them alive!”[10]

This loud prayer echoed in Tanim, terrifying the unbelievers’ hearts. Some of them lay face down. Some of them plugged their ears. This fear continued long after Hubayb was martyred.

With spears stuck in his chest, Hubayb shouted at the faces of the polytheists the existence and oneness of God, and the prophethood of His Messenger. Then, he died as a martyr. Thus, he became the first Muslim to die on the gallows tree in the way of God.  

It is Hazrat Zayd’s Turn

The martyrdom of Hazrat Hubayb was to be followed by the martyrdom of Hazrat Zayd.

The polytheists took him to Tanim, too, and tied on the gallows tree. 

They offered him the same things that they had offered to Hazrat Hubayb. However, he gave the same answers as Hubayb recklessly.

Abu Sufyan could not hide his astonishment and appreciation. He said,  “I have never seen anyone loved as much as Muhammad by his friends!”[11]

When the offers of the polytheists were rejected by Zayd, they started to shoot arrows at him and martyred him. The body of the great Companion was tied there but God knows in what high realm his spirit was travelling.

Both of those Companions died without hesitating even for a moment about their belief in and loyalty to God and His Messenger. 

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[1]Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 51.

[2]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 178; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 55.

[3]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 178; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2. p. 55.

[4]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 179; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 2, p. 294.

[5]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 463; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, Vol. 3, p. 189.

[6]Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 28.

[7]Bukhari, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 28.

[8]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 182; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, Vol. 3. p. 190.

[9]Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, Vol. 3, p. 191.

[10]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 182.

[11]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 181; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2. p. 56.

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