How did Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, the leader of the munafiqs, die and how did the Prophet (pbuh) lead his janazah prayer?

The Details of the Question

- What verse did Allah send regarding this incident?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Salul, was the leader of the munafiqs. He worked very hard throughout his life in order to humiliate the Messenger of Allah, 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 Allah.

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 Allah 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’s leading his janazah prayer

Abdullah b. Ubayy 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 Allah and said,

“O Messenger of Allah! Will you give me your shirt? I want to enshroud my father in it.” Then, he said, “O Messenger of Allah! Will you lead his prayer and ask for his forgiveness?” 2

It is very surprising that the Messenger of Allah 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

Hz. Umar’s warning

The dead body was ready. When the Prophet stood up to perform the janazah prayer, Hz. Umar held the garment of the Prophet and said,

O Messenger of Allah! Did Allah 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. Allah 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, Allah will not forgive them...’ (at-Tawba, 9/80)

Then, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) led the janazah prayer of Abdullah bin Ubayy and went to his grave.6

The verse that was sent down

After a while, the Prophet was given the following definite command by God Almighty about the dead bodies of munafiqs:

"Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave; for they rejected Allah 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 There were many reasons for 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 become believers. As a matter of fact, when the Messenger of Allah was asked why he gave his shirt and why he led the janazah prayer of Abdullah b. Ubayy 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 Allah treated Abdullah b. Ubayy so graciously.10 Hazrat Umar regretted his act and said, “Allah and His Messenger definitely know better." 11

Footnotes:

1. Ibn Kathir, Sirah, 4:64.
2. Musnad, 2:18.
3. ibid, 2:18; Bukhari, 2:76; Tirmidhi, 5:280.
4. Musnad, 2:18; Muslim, 4:1865.
5. Sirah, 4:197; Musnad, 4:1865; Tirmidhi, 5:279.
6. Sirah, 4:197; Musnad, 1:16; Tirmidhi, 5:279.
7. at-Tawba, 84.
8. Sirah, 4:197; Musnad, 1:16.
9. Tabari, Tafsir, 10:206.
10. Umdatul-Qari, 8:54.
11. Sirah, 4:197.

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