Usama bin Zayd (r.a.)

Usama bin Zayd was a heroic Companion who spent about 20 years of his life very close to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and who inherited his high ethics.

His father was Zayd bin Haritha, who was the freed slave and loyal servant of the Messenger of Allah. His mother was Ummu Ayman, the nanny of the children of the Messenger of Allah. Therefore, Hz. Usama received special compassion, protection and education from the Messenger of Allah and spent his childhood with him.

Usama received a lot of compliments and praises from the Messenger of Allah. One of his nicknames was "Hubbi". He was given this name because the Prophet loved him a lot.

The clean spirit of Hz. Usama, who was born in the holy cradle of Islam, was not blackened by the dirtiness of unbelief, polytheism, ignorance and malice. This state enabled him to adopt and practice the high ethics of the Messenger of Allah and transfer it to the following generations.[1]

Thanks to his talents and prudence, he started to take part in battles when he was very young. He was only 14 or 15 years old when he was appointed as the commander of the Sariyya of Harqa set up in the 8th year of the Migration. He took part in the Conquest of Makkah and all of the battles and wars after that.

The incident in which his name is mentioned the most is the commandership of a sariyya (military expedition) that the Messenger of Allah gave him when he was very ill. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) called Usama and ordered him to attack the people of Ubna. He said, "Walk in the name of Allah!" He gave the big standard to Burayda bin Husayb and ordered him to plant it in front of Hz. Usama's house. This act indicated that he was appointed as the commander by the Messenger of Allah. Many Companions of Ansar and Muhajirs including Hz. Umar, Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas, Qatada bin Numan took part in the expedition under the command of Hz. Usama, who was only 20 years old then.

With this appointment, the Messenger of Allah appointed a young but prudent person as a commander, attracting attention to the fact that there is no drawback to many older Companions like Hz. Umar to be under the command of a young Companion; he also showed that a young freed slave could be a commander over many noble people. This appointment showed that greatness is not based on age, lineage but on belief, consciousness, prudence and competence. 

However, some people who could not get rid of the customs and ideas of the Era of Jahiliyya yet said, "A child was appointed as a commander over Muhajirs and Ansar." When Hz. Umar heard these rumors, he answered them but he informed the Messenger of Allah immediately about it. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah ascended the pulpit and spoke as follows:   

"O people! You object to Usama bin Zayd's command and before this you objected to the command of his father Zayd. By Allah, he was fit as the commander and he was one of the dearest people to me. I swear by Allah Usama bin Zayd is fit as the commander and he is one of the dearest people to me after his father. I recommend him to you because he is one of the righteous people among you."[2]

After that, the Muslims who would join the expedition with Hz. Usama including Hz. Umar visited the Messenger of Allah before they left. The Messenger of Allah said to them, "Make sure that Usama takes part in the expedition." After that, Hz. Usama's mother Umm Ayman visited the Messenger of Allah and asked him to send Hz. Usama to the expedition after he got strong but the Messenger of Allah told her that Usama had to take part in the expedition.

Those who would take part in the expedition under the command of Hz. Usama returned to their headquarters and made preparations. However, the illness of the Messenger of Allah got worse that evening. Hz. Usama visited the Messenger of Allah again. The Messenger of Allah was ill and a bit unconscious. Hz. Usama bowed in tears and kissed the hands of the Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah raised his hands toward the sky and seemed to be praying for Usama. Hz. Usama, who returned to the headquarters that night, visited the Messenger of Allah again the next morning. The Messenger of Allah was better. He prayed for Usamah, saying, "May Allah help you!" Hz. Usama said, "Farewell" to the Messenger of Allah and left. When his army stopped in a place called Jurf, a messenger arrived and told them that the Messenger of Allah had died. The army returned to Madinah and took part in the funeral of the Prophet.

Hz. Usama took active part in the shrouding of the Prophet and the preparations for the funeral. He was one of the people who placed his blessed body into the grave. This scene was extraordinary for humanity. The son of the Prophet's freed slave placed him into the grave together with the Prophet's close relatives. 

After the death of the Messenger of Allah, Hz. Abu Bakr resisted those who opposed the commandership of Hz. Usama using the issue of "Bedouin Arabs who exited from the religion of Islam" as an excuse and said, "How can I dismiss a person whom the Messenger of Allah appointed as a commander? I swear by Allah that I would not stop an army that the Messenger of Allah established from going on an expedition even if I knew that tigers would savage me."

Hz. Usama walked against the enemy leading his army. He returned to Madinah after defeating the enemy. A large group of people consisting of Ansar and Muhajirs welcomed him with enthusiasm and excitement. Hz. Usama went to the mosque directly and performed a prayer of two rak'ahs. Then, he went home.[3]

Hz. Umar, who knew that the Messenger of Allah loved Hz. Usama very much, always consulted him and appreciated him. Once, some money was distributed among the Companions and Hz. Umar's son Abdullah was given 200 dirhams but Usama bin Zayd was given 500 dirhams. Abdullah bin Umar asked his father the reason for it. Hz. Umar said,

"My son! The Messenger of Allah loved Usama more than you and his father more than your father."[4]

Hz. Usama was loyal to his mother and father a lot. After the death of his father, he sacrificed an animal for him every year. He had a lot of date trees during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman. He gave away all of their dates to the poor. When he was asked why he had given away all of his wealth to the poor, he said, "My mother is more valuable than trees.

Hz. Usama, who died in the 54th year of the Migration when he was 60, reported a few hadiths from the Prophet. Two of them are as follows: 

"If a favor is done to a person and if he says to the person who does the favor, "May Allah reward you with goodness!", he will have said the best prayer for him."[5]

"A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown in hellfire and his intestines will pour forth in Hell and he will go round along with them, as an ass goes round the millstone. The denizens of Hell would gather round him and say: O, so and so, what has happened to you? Were you not enjoining us to do what was reputable and forbid us to do what was disreputable? He will say: Of course, it is so; I used to enjoin upon people to do what was reputable but did not practice that myself. I had been forbidding people to do what was disreputable, but practiced it myself."[6]

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[1]Tabaqat, 4: 61.

[2]Muslim, Fadailu's-Sahaba: 64; Tabaqat, 4: 66-67.

[3]Asr-ı Saadet, 3: 218.

[4]Usdu’l-Ghaba, 1: 65.

[5]Tirmidhi, Birr: 87.

[6]Muslim, Zuhd: 51; Musnad, 5: 205.

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