Suhayl bin Amr (r.a.)
At the Battle of Badr, the Muslims fought against the polytheists, who were three times more than their strength and number, and attained victory. Many polytheists including some of their notables died and the polytheists left the battlefield leaving many of them as slaves behind them. Meanwhile, Malik bin Duhshum, one of the Companions, enslaved somebody and brought him into the presence of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The enslaved man stared at the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and the people around him furiously and was wondering what would happen to him.
This slave was Suhayl bin Amr, an orator who was famous for the provocative speeches against the Muslims. Hz. Umar (r.a.), who was there, drew his sword and said,
“O Messenger of Allah! Let me extract his teeth lest he should speak against you. He encouraged the Qurayshi unbelievers to act against you with his influential speeches.”
The Prophet (pbuh) answered as follows:
“O Umar. Let him. It is hoped that he will be in such a place that will rejoice you in the future.”
Hz. Umar, who was loyal to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) with his spirit and soul, and who believed that this word would come true some day, said, “Yes. O Messenger of Allah!” He put his sword into its sheath and submitted.
Suhayl bin Amr left the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and went to his troop happily.
Meanwhile, Suhayl’s son Abdullah joined the Muslims. Abdullah (r.a.) was one of the first Muslims. He was among the first group of Muslims who had to migrate to Abyssinia due to the oppression and torture of the polytheists. However, when he returned from Abyssinia, his father took him home and inflicted unbearable torture on him in order to force him to abandon Islam. Abdullah could not put up with the torture any longer. The Messenger of Allah told him that he could conceal his belief and tell his father that he had exited Islam. Abdullah managed to make his father believe that he had exited Islam. However, he did not give up his faith. He was eager to rejoin the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He took part in the Battle of Badr with his father; he found a suitable opportunity and joined the Muslims. He became very happy.
Many years passed after this incident. The polytheists and Muslims confronted at Hudaybiyya again. The Qurayshi polytheists wanted peace. The delegation of Qurayshis was headed by Suhayl bin Amr.
The Messenger of Allah and Suhayl made long negotiations and they reached a settlement. It was time to write the terms of the treaty. Hz. Ali (r.a.) was the scribe. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told him to write: “Bismillahirrahmanirrahim (In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful). To this, Suhayl bin Amr objected: “We do not accept it.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “How shall we write then?" Suhayl said, “Bismika Allahumma”. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “It is also nice. He ordered Hz. Ali to write so.
After the terms of the agreement were written, it was time for the signatures. The Prophet ordered Hz. Ali to write as follows: “These are the terms of the agreement that Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and Suhayl bin Amr determined together and agreed upon to act in accordance with.” Suhayl, the leader of the Qurayshi delegates objected to it, too. He said, “By Allah, if we had accepted that you were the Messenger of Allah, we would not have prevented you from visiting the Kaaba and we would not have fought you.” Finally, they agreed to write, “Muhammad bin Abdillah”.
Abu Jandal (r.a.), the younger son of Suhayl bin Amr had also become a Muslim after his brother; and his father imprisoned him somewhere by chaining him. However, Abu Jandal managed to escape from the place he was imprisoned and wanted to join the Muslims at Hudaybiyya when the treaty was about to be signed. However, one of the terms of the treaty prevented people like Abu Jandal from joining the Muslims.
When Suhayl bin Amr saw his son standing there with chains, he said to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) furiously,
“This is the first person you need to return to us in accordance with the terms of the treaty.”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) looked at Abu Jandal, who was waiting there sadly and worriedly. He turned to Suhayl and said,
“Forgive him this time and sign the treaty.”
Suhayl said, “I will never accept it.”
The compassion of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not want to return Abu Jandal to the polytheists because he was going to be oppressed and tortured again. However, the Messenger of Allah agreed in the treaty that he would return people like Abu Jandal; if he did not return him, the treaty would be annulled. Knowing that this treaty would completely be in favor of the Muslims in the future, the Messenger of Allah turned to Abu Jandal and said to him,
“Show patience a bit more. Bear the oppression for some more time. Allah will reward you for it. Allah will definitely help you and the people with you. We cannot break our promise.”
Makkah was conquered by Muslims several years later. Suhayl bin Amr was among the Qurayshi notables that would be killed as soon as they were caught. His son, Abdullah, went to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and asked him to forgive his father. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) forgave Suhayl for the sake of his two self-sacrificing sons. Abdullah left happily and found Suhayl in the place where he was hiding and gave him the good news. When Suhayl heard this magnanimity of the Messenger of Allah's, he uttered kalima ash-shahadah and became a Muslim.
Suhayl bin Amr (r.a.) started to work for Islam with might and main. He became a tender-hearted and fine person. He sometimes remembered his previous life and cried. When the Quran was recited, he would often cry. He was very keen on worshipping; he was a person of taqwa.
Waqidi, who is the writer of Siyar, writes the following about him: “There is nobody among those who embraced Islam on the day of the Conquest of Makkah who served and practiced Islam like Suhayl bin Amr.”
Suhayl’s son, Abdullah, was martyred at the Battle of Yamama in the 12th year of the Migration. Hz. Abu Bakr (r.a.) went to console him. Suhayl bin Amr, who oppressed and tortured his sons for years because they were Muslims, said,
“I wish I had been martyred, too.”
Suhayl bin Amr (r.a.) was in Makkah when the Prophet (pbuh) died. Meanwhile, some people of Quraysh started to exit Islam. He gathered the people of Quraysh and addressed them as follows:
“O people of Quraysh! Do we want to be the ones who accepted Islam last and want to leave it first? I swear by Allah that this religion will spread to the west from the east and surround the whole world...”
With this long speech, Suhayl bin Amr prevented some people of Quraysh from exiting Islam. Thus, what the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to Hz. Umar at Badr came true. Suhayl bin Amr was in a position that that would rejoice Hz. Umar.
Suhayl left Makkah after the death of the Prophet (pbuh) and went to Damascus with his family in order to make jihad and serve Islam. According to a narration, he was martyred in Yarmuk in the 13th year of the Migration. According to another narration, he died of plague in the 18th year of the Migration.
May Allah be pleased with him!
Usdu'l-Ghaba, 2: 372; Mektûbât, p. 99.
ibid, 3: 180-181.
Musnad, 4: 325.
Usdu'l-Ghaba, 2: 371-373.
ibid, 3: 180-181.