The Trustworthy of This Nation
Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah was born in Makkah in the year 584 CE (Forty years before Hijra). His real name was’ Amr bn ‘Abdillah ibn al-Jarrah. Abū ‘Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrāh, was one of the ten companions of the Prophet Muhammad who was promised Paradise.
He remained Commander of a large section of Muslim armies during the time of Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. He was on the list of ‘Umar’s appointed successors to the Caliphate.
He was one of the earliest to accept Islam in its early days in Mecca. He embraced Islam at the hands of Abu Bakr As-Siddiqi at the dawn of Islam, even before the Prophet–may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him- walked into Daar Al-Arqam. He emigrated from Mecca to Abyssinia during the second emigration, then returned to stand by the Prophet at Badr, Uhud, and the rest of the great battles. He fought in all the major battles of Islam and spent most of his life as a soldier for Allah’s cause. He even killed his own father in action when his father vowed to slay him for accepting Islam.
Praising his character, the Prophet – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said: “Every Ummah has a trustworthy man; Abu ‘Ubaidah is the trustworthy man of this Ummah”. Abu’ Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah was also the man whom the Prophet sent with reinforcements to Amr Ibn Al-’Aag in the Dhaat As-Salaasil Expedition and made Commander of the army that included ‘Umar and Abu Bakr. He was the first to be called the Commander of the Commanders. He was a tall, slim man with a gaunt face and acknowledged for his strength and bravery.
When Abu ‘Ubaidah fulfilled his pledge as other Companions did, the Prophet – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him saw in his conscientiousness and lifestyle that which made him worthy of the epithet he had given him, namely, “The Trustworthy of This Nation”. He renounced the world and endured its hardships. He pursued his Islam with an admirable asceticism, piety, firmness, and trustworthiness. When Abu Ubaidah took the oath of allegiance to the Messenger and dedicated his life in the way of Allah, he knew exactly what those words meant.
Abu ‘Ubaidah’s trustworthiness towards his responsibilities was one of his most outstanding traits. For instance, in the Battle of Uhud, he realized from the way the battle was conducted that the disbelievers’ priority was to kill the great Messenger- may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. Thus, decided to stay very close to where he was. Whenever the fierce fight led him far away from the Prophet, he fought ferociously while his eyes were fixed on where the Prophet stood, watching him with great concern. When the fight reached the height of ferocity, a group of disbelievers closed in upon Abu ‘Ubaidah. Still, his eyes were fixed on the Prophet like hawk eyes. Abu Ubaidah lost his self-control when he saw an arrow hit the Prophet, yet he recollected himself and thrust his sword into those who closed in upon him as if his sword were a magic one. Finally, he managed to disperse them. He darted towards the Messenger, who was wiping the noble blood that ran down his face with his right hand, then exclaimed, “How can they succeed after they tinged with blood the face of their Prophet who invites them to the way of Allah?”. When Abu ‘Ubaidah saw the two rings of the Prophet’s chain mail that had pierced his cheeks, he rushed and held the first one with his front teeth and pulled it out. Yet as it fell, it took out his upper front teeth as well, and the same thing happened to the lower front teeth when he pulled out the second ring.
Accordingly, when the Prophet – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – appointed him as a commander in Al-Khabat Expedition, he had no supplies except for a knapsack full of dates. Notwithstanding the problematic mission and long-distance, Abu Ubaidah withstood this against all the odds
with tremendous self-denial and joy. He and his soldiers marched for miles with nothing to eat but a few dates daily until they ran out of dates and had to pick up withered leaves with their bows and crush and swallow them with water. Hence, the expedition was called Al-Kbabat, (i.e. The Struggle). They proceeded regardless of the danger and the risks. Their sole aim was carrying out the Prophet’s command.
Another notable event in the life of this eminent companion was when the Najraan delegation arrived from Yemen after they had embraced Islam, they asked the Prophet to send someone to them to teach them the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and Islam. The Prophet–may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – told them, “I will send you a trustworthy man, a very trustworthy man.” When the Companions heard this praise, every one of them prayed that the Prophet meant him with this praise and sincere recommendation. When the Prophet – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – finished leading the Dhur prayer the next day, he looked to his right, then to his left yet he kept on looking around until he saw Abu ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah and ordered him, “Go with them and judge in truth between them in the matters in which they dispute.” Afterwards, Abu Ubaidah travelled with them.
Even after the Prophet’s death, he continued to be strong and trustworthy in his striving during the caliphates of Abu Bakr and the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar. He was later made the Commander of the Muslim army, during Umar’s tenure. One day, the Commander of the Faithful visited Syria and asked those who were at his reception, “Where is my brother?” They asked, “Who do you mean?” He answered, “Abu ‘Ubaidah bn Al-Jarraah.” Soon Abu ‘Ubaidah arrived and hugged Umar, then he invited him over to his house, where he had no furniture. In fact, he had nothing but a sword, a shield, and a saddlebag. Umar asked him, smiling, “Why don’t you furnish your house as people do?” Abu ‘Ubaidah readily answered, “O Commander of the Faithful, as you see, I have room to sleep in, and that is enough for me.”
One day as the Commander of the Faithful, Umar “Al-Faruuq” was conducting the affairs of the vast Muslim world, he received the sad news of Abu Ubaidah’s death. He tried to control himself, but his sadness got the better of him, and his tears flowed. He asked Allah to bestow His mercy on his brother. Umar was also reported to have said on his deathbed, “If Abu ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah were alive, I would have entrusted him with the caliphate, and if Allah asked me about him, I would say, I assigned the caliphate to the trustworthy of Allah and His Prophet, Abu ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah.”
May Allah be especially merciful to this eminent brave soldier of Allah, who is also the Trustworthy of this Nation and the generality of the companions.
Men and Women Around the Messanger (Volume 1) by Khalid Muhammad Khalid and Dr Abdel-Hamid Eliwa.
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