To believe something is one thing but to be loyal to what is believed and to sacrifice everything for it is another. Throughout human history and across all cultures there have been people who paid everything for the defence or the promotion of the principles, ideologies or the faiths they followed. There is no better example for those who sacrificed everything for the cause they believed than the companions of our beloved prophet peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. Among them were some who abandoned all their property, their wealthy, families and friends for the sake of their faith. Some even chopped off the heads of their fathers or other family members in a battle. Some sacrificed the relationship between them and their parents for the sake of their country and the values they hold dear. Among the latter is Umair binu Sa’ad.
Umair Binu Saadi was very young when his father passed away leaving him and his mother poor and destitute. His mother remarried to one of the wealthiest merchants of Medina by the name Julas who belonged to the powerful tribe of Al-Aws. Julas looked after Umair and cherished him very well. He gave that love and compassion a father would have given to his son. Umair knew this and reciprocated it with the same level of love, respect and obedience. When he was about ten years of age, Umair became a Muslim and maintained the presence with the prophet (PBBUH) and his companion in the mosque. However, a moment, when Umair’s steadfastness in his faith and his loyalty to his principles were tested, had come.
In the year 630 (9th year of the Hijra) the prophet PBBUH decided to lead an expedition to Tabuk against the Byzantine forces. He informed his decision to the companions and requested them to prepare themselves and the rich among them to finance the mission. Usually, when the Prophet was about to go to war, he would not announce his precise plans in advance for security purposes and to constrain information leakage. But, he did this time because of the distance of Tabuk to Medina, the enormous difficulty ahead of him and the overwhelming power of his opponents.
All the wealthy men and women came forward one after one to make donations and pledges while Umiar was watching and waiting for his stepfather’s turn. However, Julas had never come forward. Umair liked to see his stepfather among those whom the prophet had blessed and prayed for. He witnessed people like Uthman Binu Affan who donated so much that the prophet was so pleased with him insomuch that he said about him “it will not hurt Uthman whatever he does after today” meaning all his past and future sins are pardoned. The following few days, Umair indirectly reminded his stepfather his wishes by naming those, like Uthman, who paid so much money, gold and transportation for the sake of Allah.
However, Julas ignored his stepson and continued his daily business. On the final days of the preparation, while having lunch together, Umair brought the matter to the conversation and directly told him that he wished to see him among the righteous men who acted upon the prophet’s call and generously contributed to the good cause. To motivate him, Umair told him that there were so many young men who enlisted their names for the mission but were left out due to insufficient means of transport. Julas’s response was sharp and outrageous. He raised his head and said to his stepson “If Muhammad is true in claiming that he is a Prophet then we are all worse than donkeys.”
Hearing this, Umair was shocked and baffled. He paused for a moment to digest and contemplate what he heard. On one hand, in front of him was the man who took him when he was a weak orphan and treated him as his own son with kind and compassion. On the other hand, he was a man who demonstrated signs of hypocrites and traitors. Now he had to choose between his father and his religion and obviously, the latter was the only choice for him. He then raised his head, looked his stepfather in the eyes and said to him “dad! There is no person on earth after the prophet dearer to me than you. but you spoke words, which if I mention them would humiliate you and expose what your heart concealed for long and if I hide it amounts to treason thus destroying my religion and whole my life. Hence, I would go and inform the prophet of what you have uttered, it is up you to explain you meant.
He then stood up and left for the mosque to see the prophet. When Umair narrated the story to the beloved prophet, he sent someone to summon Julas and soon afterward, Julas arrived. The prophet asked him what he said to Umair. Julas denied everything and accused Umar of fabricating baseless allegations against him. Hypocrites around them immediately began to blame Umair for defaming his stepfather who did so much for him. Umair was trembled with embarrassed and tears followed from his eyes. He then asked his Lord to verify what who was wrong which Allah has answered with Qur’anic verses. As the companions turned to Umayr, they saw that the prophet was inspired. Having received the revelation he recited:
يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللّهِ مَا قَالُواْ وَلَقَدْ قَالُواْ كَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ وَكَفَرُواْ بَعْدَ إِسْلاَمِهِمْ وَهَمُّواْ بِمَا لَمْ يَنَالُواْ وَمَا نَقَمُواْ إِلاَّ أَنْ أَغْنَاهُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ فَإِن يَتُوبُواْ يَكُ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ وَإِن يَتَوَلَّوْا يُعَذِّبْهُمُ اللّهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ
“(The hypocrites) swear by God that they have said (nothing wrong); yet most certainly they have uttered a saying which is a denial of the truth, and have thus denied the truth after having professed their self-surrender to God; for they were aiming at something which was beyond their reach. And they could find no fault (with the Faith) save that God had enriched them and (caused) His Apostle to enrich them out of His bounty. Hence, if they repent, it will be for their own good; but if they turn away, God will cause them to suffer a grievous suffering in this world and in the life to come and they will find no helper on earth, and none to give them succour.” (The Qur’an, Surah at-Tawbah, 9:74).
Julas shuddered with fear at what he heard and in his agony, could hardly speak. Finally, he turned to the Prophet and said: “I do repent, O Rasulullah SAW. I do repent. Umayr ibn Sad al-Ansari RA told the truth and I lied. I beseech Allah to accept my repentance. Later in life, whenever Umair was mentioned at his presence Julas used to say “My Allah reward Umayr with goodness on my behalf. Umayr ibn Sad al-Ansari RA surely saved me from kufr and preserved my neck from the fire of hell”.
What distinguishes Umair from the rest of other companions is the nature of the offence and the choices he had. Those who confronted and slashed the heads of their family members in a fight had only one choice: to kill their opponents or be murdered by them. In battlefields, there is no room for rethinking and contemplation about the taken decisions. A hesitation of one second could cost one’s life thus swift action should be taken. Nonetheless, Umair had plenty of options which could allow him to remain a firm believer and also hide his stepfather’s disgrace.
Firstly, Julas’s hypocrisy has been in his heart for a while and there was no clear imminent danger coming from him so leaving him alone would not have caused any harm to the state. Secondly, there were only two of them in the room when the felony had occurred. This could entice Umair to ignore and keep whatever he heard in his chest to maintain the good relationships both with his stepfather and with the Ummah. Thirdly, Umair could give his father a warning by telling him if he did not repent what he said he would report him. Despite all these, Umair did not waver what to do for a second because his love of the prophet, that of his country and his comrades were far greater than that of his all family members. Umair saw that the welfare of the state and the common good of the Ummah were above anything else. Therefore, Umair honoured his trust and carried out his responsibilities and that is what loyalty and patriotism are all about.
Ibrahim Aden Shire