Abdullah Ibn Jahsh

Abdullah Ibn Jahsh Abdullah Ibn Jahsh

Abdullah ibn Jahsh was a cousin of the Prophet and his sister, Zaynab bint Jahsh, was a wife of the Prophet. He was the first to head a group of Muslims on an expedition and so was the first to be called “Amir al-Mu’mineen” – Commander of the Believers.

Abdullah ibn Jahsh became a Muslim before the Prophet entered the House of al-Arqam which became a meeting place, a school and a place of refuge for the early Muslims. He was thus one of the first to accept Islam.

When the Prophet gave permission for his Companions to emigrate to Madinah to avoid further persecution from the Quraysh, Abdullah ibn Jahsh was the second to leave, preceded only by Abu Salamah. Emigrating was not a new experience for Abdullah. He and some members of his immediate family had migrated before to Abyssinia. This time, however, his migration was on a far bigger scale. His family and relatives – men, women and children, migrated with him. In fact, his whole clan had become Muslims and accompanied him.

There was an air of desolation as they left Makkah. Their homes appeared sad and depressed as if no one had lived there before. No sound of conversation emanated from behind those silent walls.

Abdullah’s clan were not long gone when.the alerted Quraysh leaders came out and made the rounds of the districts in Makkah to find out which Muslims had left and who had remained. Among these leaders were Abu Jahl and Utbah ibn Rabi’ah. Utbah looked at the houses of the Banu Jahsh through which the dusty winds were blowing. He banged on the doors and shouted:

“The houses of the Banu Jahsh have become empty and are weeping for its occupants.”

‘Who were these people anyway,” said Abu Jahl derisively, “that houses should weep for them.” He then laid claim to the house of Abdullah ibn Jahsh. It was the most beautiful and expensive of the houses. He began to dispose freely of its contents as a king would share out his possessions .

Later, when Abdullah ibn Jahsh heard what Abu Jahl had done to his house, he mentioned it to the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said:

“Aren’t you satisfied, O Abdullah, with what God has given you instead – a house in Paradise?”

“Yes, messenger of God,” he replied, and became at peace with himself and completely satisfied.

Abdullah ibn Jahsh had scarcely settled down in Madinah when he had to undergo one of the most testing experiences. He had just begun to taste something of the good and restful life under the sponsorship of the Ansar – after going through persecution at the hands of the Quraysh – when he had to be exposed to the severest test he had ever known in his life and carry out the most difficult assignment since he became a Muslim.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, commissioned eight of his Companions to carry out the first military assignment in Islam. Among them were Abdullah ibn Jahsh and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas.

“I appoint as your Commander the one who can best bear hunger and thirst,” said the Prophet and gave the standard to Abdullah ibn Jahsh. He was thus the first to be made amir over a contingent of believers.

The Prophet gave him precise instructions on the route he should take on the expedition and gave him a letter. He commanded Abdullah to read the letter only after two days’ travel.

After the expedition had been on its way for two days, Abdullah looked at the contents of the letter. It said, “When you have read this letter, press on until you come to a place called Nakhlah between Ta’if and Makkah. From there observe the Quraysh and gather whatever information you can on them for us.”

“At your command, O Prophet of God,” exclaimed Abdullah as he finished reading the letter. Then he spoke to his colleagues:

“The Prophet has commanded me to proceed to Nakhlah to observe the Quraysh and gather information on them for him. He has also commanded me not to go further with anyone of you who is against the purpose of this expedition. So whoever desires martyrdom and is in total agreement with this expedition can accompany me. Whoever is not in agreement, may turn back without blame.”

“At your command, O messenger of Allah,” they all responded. “We shall go with you, Abdullah, wherever the Prophet of God has commanded.”

The group continued until they reached Nakhlah and began to move along the mountain passes seeking information on Quraysh movements. While they were thus engaged, they saw in the distance a Quraysh caravan. There were four men in the caravan – Amr ibn alHadrami, Hukm ibn Kaysan, Uthman ibn Abdullah and his brother Mughirah. They were carrying merchandise for the Quraysh – skins, raisins and other usual Quraysh stock in trade.

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