Zayd Al-Kayr

“Don’t worry,” replied Zayd al-Khayl calmly. “If these camels were mine, I would give them to you. But they belong to one of my sisters. But stay some days with me. I am about to make a raid.”

Three days later he raided the Banu Numayr and captured about a hundred camels, as booty. He gave them all to the man and sent some men with him as guards until he reached his family in Hira.

The above is a story of Zayd al-Khayl as he was in Jahiliyyah recounted by the historian ash-Shaybani. The books of Siyar give another picture of Zayd al-Khayl as he was in Islam . . .

When Zayd al-Khayl heard the news of the Prophet, peace be upon him, he made some of his own enquiries and then decided to go to Madinah to meet the Prophet. With him was a big delegation of his people among whom were Zurr ibn Sudoos, Malik ibn Jubayr, Aamir ibn Duwayn and others.

When they reached Madinah, they went straight to the Prophet’s Mosque and tethered their mounts at its door. It happened that as they entered, the Prophet was on the minbar addressing the Muslims. His speech aroused Zayd and his delegation and they were also astonished by the rapt attention of the Muslims and the effect of the Prophet’s words on them. The Prophet was saying:

“I am better for you than al-Uzza (one of the main idols of the Arabs in Jahiliyyah) and everything else that you worship. I am better for you than the black camel which you worship besides God.”

The Prophet’s words had two different effects on Zayd al-Khayl and those with him. Some of them responded positively to the Truth and accepted it. Some turned away and rejected it. One of the latter was Zurr ibn Sudoos. When he saw the devotion of the believers to Muhammad, both envy and fear filled his heart and he said to those with him:

“I see a man who shall certainly captivate all Arabs and bring them under his sway. I shall not let him control me ever.” He then headed towards Syria where it is said he shaved his head (as was the practice of some monks) and became a Christian.

The reaction of Zayd and others was different. When the Prophet had finished speaking, Zayd stood up, tall and impressive-looking in the midst of the Muslims and said in a loud and clear voice:

“O Muhammad, I testify that there is no god but Allah and that you are the messenger of Allah.” The Prophet came up to him and asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Zayd al-Khayl the son of Muhalhil.”

“From now on you are Zayd al-Khayr instead, not Zayd al-Khayl,” said the Prophet. “Praise be to God Who has brought you from the hills and dales of your native land and softened your heart towards Islam.” Thereafter he was known as Zayd al-Khayr (Zayd the Good).

The Prophet then took him to his house. With them were Umar ibn al-Khattab and some other Companions. The Prophet gave him a cushion to sit on but he felt very uncomfortable to recline thus in the presence of the Prophet and he returned the cushion. The Prophet handed it back to him and he returned it to him. This happened three times. Eventually, when they were all seated, the Prophet said to Zayd al-Khayr:

“O Zayd, no man has ever been described to me and when I see him he does not fit the description at all except you. You have two characteristics which are pleasing to God and His Prophet.”

“What are they?” asked Zayd.

“Perseverance and sagacity,” replied the Prophet.

“Praise be to God,” said Zayd, “Who has given me what He and His Prophet like.” He then turned directly to the Prophet and said:

“Give me, O rnessenger of God, three hundred horsemen and I promise you that I will secure Byzantine territory with them.”

The Prophet praised his fervour and said, “What manner of man are you!”

During this visit, all those who stayed with Zayd became Muslims. They then desired to return to their homes in Najd and the Prophet bade them farewell. The great desire of Zayd al-Khayr to work and fight for the cause of Islam, however, was not to be realised.

In Madinah al-Munawwarah at that time there was an epidemic of fever and Zayd al-Khayr succumbed to it and said to those with him: “Take me away from the land of Qays. I have the fever of small pox. By God, I shall not fight as a Muslim before I meet Allah, the Mighty the Great.”

Zayd took the road to his people in Najd in spite of the fact that the fever became more and more intense and slowed him down. He hoped at least to get back to his people and that they would become Muslims, through God’s grace, at his hands. He struggled to overcome the fever but it got the better of him and he breathed his last on the way before reaching Najd. Between his acceptance of Islam and his death, however, there was no time for him to have fallen into sin.

Scanned from: “Companions of The Prophet”, Vol.1, By: Abdul Wahid Hamid.

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