Knowing the Less Famous Giants: Sa`id ibn `Amir al-Jumahy (r.a.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following article is taken from Knowing the Less Famous Giants by Naiyerah Kolkailah, 9th December, 2010.

There are big-name companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) such as Salman al-Farisi (r.a.), Bilal (r.a.), Abu Bakr (r.a.) and `Umar (r.a.) whom we’ve heard so much about.  Their journeys to Islam, and how they sacrificed for the sake of the truth brings smiles to our faces, or sometimes brings us to tears – and always make us feel connected to our Islamic heritage.  There are other companions whom we do not hear about as often, but their lives are also filled with struggles and exemplary behavior that deserves our attention.

One of these lesser-known companions is Sa`id ibn `Amir al-Jumahy (r.a.).  His story is translated below, with some modification, from the book Swuwar min Hayat asw-Swahabah, Glimpses from the Lives of the Companions by Dr. `Abd ar-Rahman Ra’fat al-Basha.  I hope you find his story as moving and inspiring as I have, and may it resonate deeply in your heart, mind and soul.

Sa`id’s (r.a.) story begins when he was a young boy living in Makkah.  It was his fate to witness something that would haunt him forever, yet transform his life completely.  He was among thousands of people invited to watch the killing of Khubayb ibn `Adiy (r.a.), a companion of the Prophet (s.a.w.), whom the Quraysh had captured.  Sa`id (r.a.) had a tall stature and strong build, so he managed to push through to the frontlines and get a close-up view of the Quraysh’s captive.  He saw Khubayb (r.a.) weighed down in chains as women and children pushed him into the arena of death.  They all wanted to exact revenge on Muhammad (s.a.w.) through killing Khubayb (r.a.), and also avenge their dead in the Battle of Badr.

Sa`id (r.a.) watched as they brought Khubayb (r.a.) up to the cross to be crucified.  He heard his calm, firm voice, amidst the screaming women and children, make the request: “If you could let me pray two rak`ah before my death, please do so.”  He saw him face the qiblah, and pray with complete composure and contentment.  After his prayer, Khubayb (r.a.) turned to the leaders of Quraysh and said fearlessly, “By Allah, if you had not assumed that I am elongating my prayer out of fear of death, I would have lengthened my prayer.”

Then, with his own two eyes, Sa`id (r.a.) saw his people mutilate Khubayb (r.a.) alive.  They cut up his body, piece by piece, while having the nerve to challenge Khubayb (r.a.): “Would you like Muhammad to be in your place and you be saved?”

He responded without hesitation, “By Allah, I would not like that I be secure with my family and children while Muhammad (s.a.w.) is even pricked with one thorn”

The spectators were infuriated.  They threw their hands up in the air and yelled even louder than before: “Kill him!  Kill him!”  Sa`id (r.a.) could see Khubayb (r.a.) looking towards the sky from atop the cross, saying: “Allahumma ahsihim `adada, waqtulhum badada, wa la tughadir minhum ahada (O Allah, count them all, wipe them out, and do not leave any of them out).”  Then he breathed his final breaths, being left with countless cuts and gashes from all the swords and spears that struck him.

Soon afterward, everyone dispersed.  The people of Quraysh got caught up in other events and forgot about Khubayb (r.a.) and his death.  But this young boy, Sa`id ibn `Amir (r.a.), never forgot Khubayb (r.a.) for a moment.  He would see him in his dreams when he slept, and he would see his image while awake – being mutilated in front of him, and praying those two calm rak`ah before he was crucified.  He would hear the echo of Khubayb’s (r.a.) voice as he supplicated against the Quraysh, fearing that he would be counted in the supplication and be struck with a thunderbolt, or that a boulder would fall on him from the sky.

Sa`id (r.a.) learned from Khubayb (r.a.) what he did not know before.  He learned that the true life is a life of belief and conviction in Allah (s.w.t.), and struggling for the sake of this belief until death.  He also learned that deep-rooted iman can give you unimaginable strength.  And there’s one more thing he learned: that a man whose companions loved him that much, must be a Messenger Receiving Divine help from the heavens.

It was through these realizations that Allah (s.w.t.) Guided Sa`id (r.a.) to Islam.  He wasted no time and stood up in front of a group of people and announced his Islam, and his disassociation from the sins and evil acts of Quraysh, and from their idols and false gods.

Sa`id (r.a.) migrated to Madina and accompanied the Prophet (s.a.w.); he witnessed the Battle of Khaybar with him and other battles after that.  When the beloved Messenger (s.a.w.) passed away, Sa`id (r.a.) was at the disposal of Abu Bakr (r.a.) and `Umar (r.a.) during their caliphates, and he lived a life that was uniquely exemplary to the believers.  Both successors of the Prophet (s.a.w.) knew of Sa`id’s (r.a.) honesty and God-consciousness, and they would take his advice, and listen intently to his words.  On one occasion, during the beginning of `Umar’s (r.a.) caliphate, Sa`id (r.a.) came to `Umar (r.a.) and said, “O `Umar, I advise you to fear Allah in dealing with people, and not to fear the people over Allah.  Do not let your words contradict your actions, for the best of speech is that which the actions attest to.  O `Umar, never lose sight of those whom Allah has Given you responsibility over, from the Muslims near and far.  Love for them what you love for yourself and your family, and hate for them what you would hate for yourself and your family.  Tread through the challenges to reach the truth, and by Allah, do not fear the blame of the blamers.”

“Who can handle all this Sa`id?” `Umar (r.a.) asked passionately.

“Someone like you whom Allah has Given leadership over the Ummah of Muhammad (s.a.w.), and whom no one stands between him and Allah.”

At that point, `Umar (r.a.) sought Sa`id’s (r.a.) assistance.  He said, “Sa`id, I am making you a governor of Hims.”

Sa`id (r.a.) replied, “O `Umar, I beg you by Allah, do not put me through this trial.”

`Umar (r.a.) got angry and said, “Woe to you.  You put this matter (the caliphate) around my neck and then you abandon me!  By Allah, I will not let you go.”  So `Umar (r.a.) appointed Sa`id (r.a.) as the governor of Hims, and asked, “Shall we pay you?”

Sa`id (r.a.) quickly refused: “And what would I do with it O ‘Amir al-Mu’minin?  My right from the Treasury already surpasses my needs.”  Then `Umar (r.a.) left Sa`id (r.a.) to govern Hims.

After a short time, a group of people from Hims, whom `Umar (r.a.) trusted, passed through town.  He asked them to write down the names of their poor people so he can get their needs met.  They gave him a list, and lo and behold, one of the names was Sa`id ibn `Amir (r.a.).

Shocked, `Umar (r.a.) asked, “Who is Sa`id ibn `Amir?”

They replied, “He is our ‘amir.”

“Your ‘amir is poor?” `Umar (r.a.) asked with astonishment.

They affirmed, “Yes, and by Allah, days would pass by and no light (fire for cooking) would be lit in his home.”

On hearing this, `Umar (r.a.) wept until his beard became wet with tears.  He took 1,000 dananir and put them in a sack, instructing the people of Hims: “Send him my salaam and tell him that ‘Amir al-Mu’minin sent you this money to assist you in fulfilling your needs.”

The delegation brought the money to Sa`id (r.a.).  He opened the sack and found money in it, but immediately pushed it away, saying, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`un (to Allah we Belong and to Him is our Return)” as if a catastrophe had befallen him.

Startled, his wife asked, “What is wrong, Sa`id?  Did ‘Amir al-Mu’minin pass away?”

“No, worse than that,” said Sa`id (r.a.).

“Have the Muslims been struck by a calamity?”

“No, worse than that.”

“And what can be worse than that?”

“The dunya has come to destroy my akhirah, and the fitnah has entered my home.”

Not knowing anything about the money, she said easily, “Get rid of it.”

“Will you help me in doing so?”

“Yes,” she replied.

So they both rationed the dananir into sacks, and distributed them to the poor Muslims in Hims.

It was not long before `Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) came to ash-Sham to check up on its affairs.  Hims at the time was known as al-Kuwayfa, the smaller Kufa, because it was similar to Kufa in that its people used to complain from their leaders like the people of Kufa.  When `Umar went to Hims, the people greeted him, and he asked them, “How do you find your ‘amir?”

They immediately complained about him and brought up four issues – each one being worse than the previous one.  `Umar (r.a.) said: “I brought them together, and prayed to Allah that He does not disappoint me in (Sa`id) because I had a great deal of trust in him.”

When they were all before him, he asked again, “What are your complaints about your ‘amir?”

They replied, “He does not come out to us until late morning.”

“What do you have to say about this, Sa`id?” `Umar (r.a.) asked.

He remained quiet for a bit, then said, “By Allah, I would hate to say this, but now I have to; my family has no servant, so I wake up every morning and knead the dough for them.  Then I rest a little until it rises.  Then, I bake it for them.  Then I make ablution, and go out to meet the people.

“And what other complaint do you have about him?” `Umar  (r.a.)asked.

“He does not respond to anyone who calls for him at night,” they said.

“What do you have to say about this, Sa`id?” `Umar (r.a.) asked again.

He replied, “By Allah, I would hate to mention this too.  I have devoted the day to them and the night to Allah (s.w.t.).”

“And what other complaint do you have about him?” `Umar (r.a.) asked.

They said, “There is one day out of every month where he does not come out at all.”

“And what is this, Sa`id?” `Umar (r.a.) asked.

Sa`id (r.a.) replied, “I do not have a servant, O ‘Amir al-Mu’minin, and I do not have any clothing except what is on me now.  So, I wash it once a month and wait for it to dry, and then I go out to the people at the end of the day.”

“And what is your last complaint about him?” `Umar (r.a.) asked.

They said, “From time to time he loses consciousness, and becomes unaware of those he is sitting with.”

“And what is this, Sa`id?” `Umar (r.a.) exclaimed.

Sa`id (r.a.) replied, “I witnessed the killing of Khubayb ibn `Adiy while I was a mushrik.  And I saw the Quraysh mutilate and cut up his body while asking him, ‘Would you like Muhammad to be in your place and you to be saved?’

But, Khubayb responded, ‘By Allah, I would not like that I be secure with my family and children while Muhammad (s.a.w.) is even pricked with one thorn.’

And by Allah, there is not one day that I remember this and how I did not help him except that I think Allah will not forgive me for it; and that is when I lose consciousness.”

At this point, `Umar (r.a.) exclaimed, “Praise be to Allah Who did not disappoint me in him!”

Then he sent Sa`id (r.a.) another 1,000 dananir to help him with his needs.  When Sa`id’s (r.a.) wife saw the money, she said, “al-Hamdulillah that we no longer have to depend on your service.  Go buy us food, and bring us a servant.”

Sa`id (r.a.) told her, “Are you interested in something better?”

“What would that be?” she asked.

“We give it to the One Who Sent it to us, while we are in great need of it.”

“And how is that?”

“We loan it to Allah as a goodly loan.”

This from the Qur’an:

If ye loan to Allah a beautiful loan He will Double it to your (credit), and He will Grant you Forgiveness: for Allah is most Ready to appreciate (service) Most Forbearing ― (Surah at-Taghabun:17)

“Yes,” she agreed, “and may you be rewarded good (for this),” she said.

Sa`id (r.a.) did not get up from his place until he took all 1,000 dananir and divided them up in sacks again.  He told someone from his family, “Take them to the widow of this person, and to all these orphans, and to the needy of that family, and to the poor of such and such families.”

This was the simple, humble, devout life of Sa`id ibn `Amir (r.a.), who always preferred others over himself, even though he was in desperate privation.  May Allah be Pleased with Sa`id (r.a.), and Khubayb (r.a.), and all the companions.  And may He Purify our hearts, and Grant us the strength and courage to follow in the footsteps of the righteous.


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