Said Ibn Zayd

Said Ibn ZaydSaid Ibn ZaydFrom AlimĀ® Online Zayd the son of Amr stood away from the Quraysh crowd as they celebrated one of their festivals. Men were dressed in rich turbans of brocade and expensive Yemeni burdabs. Women and children were also exquisitely turned out in their fine clothes and glitte ring jewelry. Zayd watched as sacrificial animals, gaily caparisoned were led out to slaughter before the Quraysh idols. It was difficult for him to remain silent. Leaning against a wall of the Kabah, he shouted:

“O people of Quraysh! It is God Who has created the sheep. He it is Who has sent down rain from the skies of which they drink and He has caused fodder to grow from the earth with which they are fed. Then even so you slaughter them in names other than His. Indeed, I see that you are an ignorant folk.”

Zayd’s uncle al-Khattab, the father of Umar ibn al-Khattab, seethed with anger. He strode up to Zayd, slapped him on the race and shouted: “Damn you! We still hear from you such stupidity. We have borne it until our patience is exhausted.”

Al-Khattab then incited a number of violent people to harass and persecute Zayd and make life extremely uncomfortable for him. These incidents which took place before Muhammad’s call to Prophethood gave a foretaste of the bitter conflict that was to take place between the upholders of truth and the stubborn adherents of idolatrous practices. Zayd was one of the few men, known as hanifs, who saw these idolatrous practices for what they were. Not only did he refuse to take part in them himself but he refuse d to eat anything that was sacrificed to idols. He proclaimed that he worshipped the God of Ibrahim and, as the above incident showed, was not afraid to challenge his people in public.

On the other hand, his uncle al-Khattab was a staunch follower of the old pagan ways of the Quraysh and he was shocked by Zayd’s public disregard for the gods and goddesses they worshipped. So he had him hounded and persecuted to the point where he was fo rced to leave the valley of Makkah and seek refuge in the surrounding mountains. He even appointed a band of young men whom he instructed not to allow Zayd to approach Makkah and enter the Sanctuary.

Zayd only managed to enter Makkah in secret. There unknown to the Quraysh he met with people like Waraqah ibn Nawfal, Abdullah ibn Jahsh, Uthman ibn al-Harith and Umaymah bint Abdul Muttalib, the paternal aunt of Muhammad ibn Abdullah. They discussed how deeply immersed the Arabs were in their misguided ways. To his friends, Zayd spoke thus: “Certainly, by God, you know that your people have no valid grounds for their beliefs and that they have distorted and transgressed from the religion of Ibrahim. Adop t a religion which you can follow and which can bring you salvation.”

Zayd and his companions then went to Jewish rabbis and Christian scholars and people of other communities in an attempt to learn more and go back to the pure religion of Ibrahim.

Of the four persons mentioned, Waraqah ibn Nawfal became a Christian. Abdullah ibn Jahsh and Uthman ibn al-Harith did not arrive at any definite conclusion. Zayd ibn Amr however had quite a different story. Finding it impossible to stay in Makkah, he left the Hijaz and went as far as Mosul in the north of Iraq and from there southwest into Syria. Throughout his journeys, he always questioned monks and rabbis about the religion of Ibrahim. He found no satisfaction until he came upon a monk in Syria who tol d him that the religion he was seeking did not exist any longer but the time was now near when God would send forth, from his own people whom he had left, a Prophet who would revive the religion of Ibrahim. The monk advised him that should he see this Pro phet he should have no hesitation in recognizing and following him.

Zayd retraced his steps and headed for Makkah intending to meet the expected Prophet. As he was passing through the territory of Lakhm on the southern border of Syria he was attacked by a group of nomad Arabs and killed before he could set eyes on the Mes senger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. However, before he breathed his last, he raised his eyes to the heavens and said:

“O Lord, if You have prevented me from attaining this good, do not prevent my son from doing so.”

When Waraqah heard of Zayd’s death, he is said to have written an elegy in praise of him. The Prophet also commended him and said that on the day of Resurrection “he will be raised as having, in himself alone, the worth of a whole people”.

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