Abdullah Ibn Zubair RA


What a Man! What a Martyr!

A blessed child in his mother's womb was he, when his mother passed over

the burning desert sand leaving Makkah for Al-Madiinah on her

emigration route. While still unborn, Abd Allah was to emigrate with the

Muhaajiruun. His mother Asmaa' (May Allah be pleased with her) had

hardly reached Qubaa', when she began to suffer labor pains.

`Abd Allah, the first child to be born after the Hijrah, was

carried to the Prophet's house in Al-Madiinah. There the Prophet (PBUH)

kissed him, then chewed a date and rubbed it on the newborn's gums (a

Sunnah called tahniik). Thus the Prophet's saliva was the first thing to

enter `Abd Allah's belly.

Muslims gathered, carried the newborn baby and went round with

him through the streets of Al Madiinah applauding and shouting "Allahu

Akbar"( Allah is the Greatest).

When the Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims settled in Al Madiinah,

the Jews there, bearing deep spite against the Muslims, were subdued.

They spread the rumor that their priests had made the Muslims infertile

by means of their witchcraft and Al- Madiinah was not going to witness

the birth of Muslim babies. When `Abd Allah came out from the unseen, he

was an irrefutable proof from Allah that the Jews' claims were mere

lies and deceptive tricks.

Abd Allah did not reach the age of majority during the Prophet's

lifetime. However, his intimate contact with the Prophet (PBUH) during

childhood granted him the basic materials of manliness and taught him

the principles of life, principles which would be the subject of

people's admiration and talk, as will be mentioned later.

The little child's character developed rapidly. He displayed

extraordinary energy, intellect, and firmness. His youth was full of

chasity, purity, worship, and heroism beyond imagination. As days went

by his manners did not change. He was a man sure of his path, walking

his way with strong will and firm belief.

* * *

He did not exceed the age of 27, during the conquests of Africa,

Spain, and Constantinople, when he proved to be one of the great

heroes. That happened, in particular, during the Battle of ifriiqiyah

(Tunisia) when 20,000 Muslim soldiers confronted an army of 120,000.

The battle was in progress and the Muslims encountered a real

danger. `Abd Allah took a look at the enemy's army and soon realized the

source of their strength. It was the leader, the Berber king, who

effectively encouraged his soldiers, pushing them towards death. `Abd

Allah knew that the battle's outcome depended primarily on the death of

their stubborn leader. But how was he going to reach him? He had first

to pass through a great and fiercely fighting army. However, `Abd

Allah's courage and bravery were not ever subject to question. He called

his companions and said, "Protect my back, attack with me." Like a

flying arrow he forced his way towards the leader, bursting through

fighting warriors. When he reached him, he struck him dead. Immediately

the leader fell down motionless. Then he turned towards those who

surrounded their king and leader, killing them all. "Allahu Akbar" was

then to be heard. The Muslims soon saw their standard lifted on the same

spot where the Berber leader had commanded his soldiers. They realized

that victory had almost been achieved. They strengthened their force and

soon everything was over in favor of the Muslims. The leader of the

Muslim army, Abd Allah Ibn Abi Sarh was told about the great role `Abd

Allah Ibn Az-Zubair had played. He rewarded him with the honor of

personally carrying the news of victory to Al Madiinah and to the Caliph

`Uthmaan Ibn `Affaan.

* * *

Nevertheless, his miraculous and extraordinary heroism in fighting came second to his heroism in the sphere of worship.

His family, his youth, his position and its eminence, his

wealth, his strength, nothing of that sort could hinder `Abd Allah from

being an admirable God-fearing worshiper, fasting all day long while

praying all night.

`Umar Ibn `Abd Al-'Aziiz once asked Ibn Abi Mulaikah to describe

`Abd Allah, so he said, "By Allah, I've never see a soul similar to

his. When he began his prayer, he left everything behind. He bowed down

and prostrated for such a long period that birds stood on his back

considering him a wall or a gown thrown away. Once a projectile passed

between his beard and chest while praying. By Allah, he did not feel it

nor was he shaken by it. He did not stop his recitation nor hurry his


Similar to legends, the truthful information about `Abd Allah's worship was transmitted by history

His fasting, his prayer, his pilgrimage, his noble soul, his

continuous fear of Allah, his close relation to Allah, his being a

devoted worshiper and a fasting fighter throughout his life were all in

him like interwoven threads.

Although there was some kind of disagreement between `Abd Allah

Ibn Az-Zubair and Ibn `Abbaas, the latter described `Abd Allah in the

following words: "He was a reciter of the Qur'aan, a follower of the

Sunnah, submissive to Allah, a God-fearing faster, son of the Prophet's

disciple. His mother was As-siddiiq's daughter, his aunt `Aa'ishah the

Prophet's wife; his rank can only be ignored by the blind."

* * *

The strength of high mountains did not equal `Abd Allah's

firmness and assiduity. Sincere, noble, strong, he was always ready to

sacrifice his life for his clarity and straightforwardness.

During his dispute and wars with Bani Umaiyah (the Ommiads),

Al-Husain Ibn Numair, the leader of the army sent by Yazild to suppress

Ibn Az-Zubair's revolt, went to visit `Abd Allah Ibn Az-Zubair in Makkah

after the news reached there that Yaziid had died. Al-Husain offered

Abd Allah to go with him to Syria where he would use his power to force

people to swear the oath of allegiance to Ibn Az-Zubair. However, Ibn

Az-Zubair refused this golden chance because he was totally convinced of

the necessity to take revenge on the Syrian army for the terrible

crimes committed while marching on the Prophet's Madiinah to satisfy the

Ommiads' greed.

We may differ with `Abd Allah, wishing he would have preferred

peace and forgiveness by responding to a rare chance offered by

Al-Husain, Yaziid's leader. Nevertheless, the man's position in favor of

his conviction and faith, rejecting lies and tricks, deserves respect

and admiration.

Al-Hajaaj attacked with his army, besieging him and his

followers. At that time, among Abd Allah's warriors was a group of very

skillful Abyssinian spearmen and warriors. `Abd Allah heard them talking

about the late Caliph `Uthmaan (May Allah be pleased with him). Their

conversation lacked all forms of justice and fairness. `Abd Allah

reprimanded them severely saying, " By Allah, I don't like to defeat my

enemy with the help of someone hating `Uthmaan." He sent them away at a

very critical time in which he needed help so desperately, like a

drowning man seeking hope.

His sincerity and honesty in faith and principles made him

indifferent to the loss of 200 of his most skillful spearmen, the faith

of whom he could no longer trust.

All that despite the fierce decisive battle which stood in front

of him, the outcome of which could have been different if those

spearmen had remained.

* * *

His resistance against Mu'aawiyah and Yaziid was an

extraordinary legend of bravery. He considered Yaziid Ibn Mu'aawiyah Ibn

Abi Sufyaan the most unqualified person to rule the Muslim community.

That was true. Yaziid was totally corrupt. He did not possess one single

virtue which would forgive his crimes and evils which have been

narrated by history.

How was it possible for Ibn Az-Zubair to swear the oath of

allegiance to him? He strongly refused to do so while Mu'aawiyah was

alive and more so when Yaziid became caliph. Yaziid sent someone to

threaten him. He, however, said, "I'm not going to swear the oath of

allegiance to a drunkard."

* * *

Ibn Az-Zubair became Commander of the Faithful with Holy Makkah

as his capital, extending his rule over Hejaz, Yemen, Basra, Kufa,

Khurasan, and Syria except Damascus. The inhabitants of all these

provinces swore the oath of allegiance to him. But the Ommiads were not

satisfied. Restless, they waged continuous wars, most of which ended in

their defeat. Nothing changed until `Abd Al Maalik Ibn Marwaan ordered

one of the most harsh, criminal, cruel, and merciless human beings to

attack `Abd Allah in Makkah. This was Al-Hajaaj Ath-Thaqafiy, who was

described by `Umar Ibn Abd Al-'Aziiz: "If all nations were to weigh

together their sins, and we came with Al Hajaaj only, the balance would

sway to our part."

* * *

Al-Hajaaj personally led his army to invade Makkah, Ibn Az

Zubair's capital. He besieged it nearly six months, preventing the

provision of water and food to force people to abandon Abd Allah. Under

the severe pressure of hunger, a large number of fighters surrendered

and Abd Allah found himself almost alone. Although chances to save his

life and soul were still available, he decided to carry out his

responsibilities to the very end. He went on fighting with legendary

courage, although he was 70 years old at that time. We will only grasp

the full image of that situation if we listen to the conversation which

took place between `Abd Allah and his mother, the great and noble Asmaa'

Bint Abu Bakr, a short while before his death.

He went to her presenting the whole situation and what seemed to be his destiny.

Asmaa' told him, " My son, you know yourself better than anyone else. If

you know that you are adhering to the truth and calling to it, then be

patient till you die for its sake and don't let the boys of Bani Umaiyah

reach your neck. But if life in this world has been your main concern,

then you're a wretched son, destroying yourself and those killed on your


`Abd Allah said, "By Allah, mother, I've never sought life in

this world, nor did I submit myself to it. I've never ruled with

injustice, treated anyone unfairly, or betrayed anyone."

His mother Asmaa' said, "I hope I will receive good consolation

if you precede me to Paradise or I precede you. May Allah have mercy for

your long prayers at night, your fasting during hot days and your

reverent treatment of me and your father. Allah, I've handed over my son

to Your fate; I will be pleased with Your destiny. Reward me for

sacrificing my son as You reward thankful and patient believers."

They embraced each other and exchanged a farewell look. After

one hour of fierce, unparalleled battle, the martyr received a deadly

stroke. Al-Hajaaj, cruel, cunning, and deceiving as he was, insisted on

crucifying the lifeless body.

* * *

`Abd Allah's mother, who was on that day 97 years old, went to

see her crucified son. Like a high towering mountain, his mother stood

in front of him when Al-Hajaaj approached with shame and humiliation and

said, "O Mother, the Commander of the Faithful `Abd Al-Maalik Ibn

Marwaan has recommended me to treat you well. Do you need anything?"

She shouted, " I'm not your mother. I'm the mother of that one

crucified on the cross. I don't need you. But I'm going to tell you a

hadith which I heard from the Prophet (PBUH). He said, "He will emerge

from Thaqiif, a liar and a vicious one." We have already seen the liar

and the vicious one. I don't think he's anyone else but you." `Abd Allah

Ibn `Umar approached to console her and asked Allah to grant her

patience. She replied, "What hinders me from being patient? Wasn't the

head of Yahyaa (John) Ibn Zakariyaa granted to an Israelite harlot?"

How great she was, daughter of As-siddiiq!. Are there more

eloquent words to be directed at those who cut `Abd Allah's head off his

body before crucifying him?

* * *


suckled the milk of such an extraordinary mother, could `Abd Allah

possibly have lived a different life, a life not reaching such great

levels of success, virtue, and heroism?

May peace be upon `Abd Allah.

May peace be upon Asmaa'.

May peace be upon them among the eternally living martyrs.

May peace be upon them among the most reverent and pious.