What kind of tortures were inflicted upon Yasir family and Ammar by the polytheists? Who are the first martyrs of Islam?

The Details of the Question
What kind of tortures were inflicted upon Yasir family and Ammar by the polytheists? Who are the first martyrs of Islam?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Yasir had come to Mecca from Yemen. Here, he was under the protection of Abu Huzayfa bin Mughira who was from the Sons of Mahzum. Afterwards, Abu Huzayfa wed him to his slave, Sumayya and two sons entered the world through this marriage: Ammar and Abdullah…

The polytheists, including the Sons of Mahzum who were at the forefront, did not cease subjecting this family, whose every member had become Muslims to unbearable torture and intolerable persecution.

The Sons of Mahzum would torture the family on a stony area that had become as hot as hellfire, so to speak, during a time in which the sun’s heat was scorching so that they would abandon their faith.

One day, while the polytheists were cruelly persecuting the Yasir family, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) appeared. When he came across this heartbreaking situation, he advised them to be patient by saying,

“Be patient, O Yasir Family! Be patient, O Yasir Family! Be patient, O Yasir Family! Your reward is heaven; be patient, O Yasir Family!”

Yasir, who was suffering on account of this torture, asked,

“Oh Allah’s Apostle, how long will this last?”, to which our Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered with a prayer:

“My Lord! Do not withhold your compassion and mercy from the Yasir Family.”

Some time after this situation, Hazrat Yasir gloriously surrendered his soul to His Creator under the unbearable torture that he faced. In this way, he had attained the honor of being "the first martyr” among the Muslim men.

Sumayya, Yasir’s wife, a rather old, weak, and frail woman, was handed over to Abu Jahl to be tortured.

Abu jahl would audaciously say, “You have testified to Muhammad because you have fallen in love with the beauty of his physical appearance!” to this old, physically weak, and lonely woman whom he continuously tortured. When Hazrat Sumayya, an example of a true believer, retorted with the harshest remarks that could be said to a polytheist, Abu jahl further became furious and stabbed her with his spear; she was the first martyr among the women.

What Befell Ammar

What Ammar suffered was heartbreaking: He would be forced to wear an iron casing and would be taken outside when the sun scorched the entire face of the Earth with its full heat and as a result, his bone marrow would melt in the iron casing.

When Ammar was relieved from being tortured for a brief moment, he rested next to our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and awaited some consolation. He expressed his state by saying,

“We have experienced every kind of torture, O Allah’s Apostle.” (PBUH). Once again, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) provided advice and offered a supplication:

“My Lord, do not have anyone from the Ammar family experience hellfire.”

Being branded with fire was another kind of torture that Hazrat Ammar was subjected to. On another day, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) came upon him while he was suffering such torment. He placed his holy hands on top of Hazrat Ammar’s head and said to the fire

“O Fire, just as you were cool and safe for Ibrahim (PBUH), be so for Ammar!” Afterwards, he informed Ammar of this news:

“O Ammar, you are not going to die from this torture but you are going to live for a long time.  Your death will be at the hands of a wild crowd.”1

By granting Hazrat Ammar a long life, Allah verified the news that His Beloved Messenger (PBUH) provided. Hazrat Ammar was killed in the Battle of Siffin at a much later time. Hazrat Ali argued that Muawwiya’s adherents were rampageous. However, Muawwiya refuted. Amr bin As said, “The ones who are rampageous are his murderers; generally, we are not.” 2

On another day, Ammar was crying because of the torture that he faced. When our Holy Prophet (PBUH), the Example of Compassion, saw Ammar in this state, he wiped his teardrops and said,

"Did the disbelievers capture and push you into water? If they capture you again, say this-and-this to you, and then continue to torture you, say what they want you to say so you can be freed.”

This permission was given to Ammar so that he could save his life from the hands of the cruel polytheists!

Awhile after this permission was given, Ammar was again captured and continuously tormented by the polytheists. While he was being tortured, the following offer was made to him:

“We are not going to cease torturing you until you curse at Muhammad and say that worshipping Lat and Uzza is more favorable than his religion!”

Poor Ammar was desperate; thus, he uttered the polytheists’ words. The oppressors achieved their goal and released him. Ammar went straight to our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) presence. When our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said,

“It can be seen from your face that you have been freed” Ammar responded:

“By Allah, I have not been freed!”

“Why?” asked our Holy Prophet (PBUH.)

Ammar answered: “I was forced to abandon you. They forced me to say that the religion of Lat and Uzza was more favorable than yours.”

Ammar was sad and confused. He was standing straight in front of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) in a state of nervousness and fear as if his entire world had come crumbling over his head. He had been saved from the torture and persecution that the polytheists subjected him to but now he had come face-to-face with another danger!

“How was your heart when you uttered the polytheists’ words?” asked our Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Ammar replied with an answer that came straight from his heart:

“I found that the comfort and contentment that is in and the loyalty that I have towards my faith is stronger than steel.”

Upon this, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “There is no sin upon you, O Ammar! If they capture you again and want you to repeat this, then repeat what they say and be freed.” 3

Ammar’s heart was overwhelmed with relief when he heard these words. Upon this incident, Allah, the Exalted, sent down the 106th verse of Surah an-Nahl:

“Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief― except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith― but such as open their breast to unbelief― on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.” 4

In that case, permission is given to a believer whose heart is determined to accept faith. When he/she comes across a situation in which his/her life or an organ of his is in danger of being eliminated by an enemy, it is permissible for him/her to utter words of unbelief with the tongue alone. However, it must be remembered that this is only permissible when the heart is filled with belief. Besides, it is best to take the chance of becoming a martyr by saying the truth and protecting the dignity/honor of Islam and not to utter a single blasphemous word, even if it is only through speech. In this matter, it is considered more virtuous to perform one’s religious duty to the fullest extent than to exercise this privilege.5


1. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 3, p. 248.
2. See: Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, Mektubat p 110.
3. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 3, p. 249.
4. an-Nahl, 106.
5. Hazin, Tafsir, V. 3, p. 136; M. Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, V. 4, p. 3132.

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