A Legend of Sacrifice and Love
In the Second Pledge of a `Aqabah which has been mentioned many times, 70 men and two women of Al-Madiinah gave their allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH). Among those blessed men and women were Habiib lbn Zaid and his father Zaid lbn `Aasim (May Allah be pleased with both of them). His mother was Nusaibah bint Ka'b, one of the two women who were the first to give allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH). The second woman was his maternal aunt. Thus, he was a veteran believer in whose backbone and ribs faith ran rather than blood. He lived near the Prophet (PBUH) after he emigrated to Al-Madiinah. There, he never missed an expedition in the cause of Allah or lagged behind.
* * *
One day the south of the Arab Peninsula witnessed the emergence of two presumptuous and arrogant liars who claimed prophethood and tried to drag people into the swamp of sin and disbelief. One of these impostors was called Al-Aswad Ibn Ka'b Al `Aansiy, from San'aa'. The other was Musailamah the Liar from Al Yamaamah. Both impostors incited people against the believers in their tribes who responded to what Allah ordained and who believed in His Prophet. They also goaded them against the Prophet's messengers whom he sent to their lands. Moreover, they even went so far as to ignite suspicion against prophethood itself and committed hideous mischief in the land, causing corruption and disbelief.
* * *
One day, the Prophet (PBUH) was surprised when a messenger arrived with a message from Musailamah in which he said, "From Musailamah Allah's Prophet to Muhammad Allah's Prophet. Peace be upon you. We are your partner in prophethood; consequently, we have half of the earth and the Quraish has the other half , but the Quraish want unjustly to have it all!"
The Prophet (PBUH) summoned one of his scribes and dictated this answer to Musailamah: "In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad the Prophet of Allah to Musailamah the Liar. Peace be upon those who followed the right path. Verily, the earth is Allah's. He gives it as a heritage to whom He will of His slaves and the blessed end is for the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah."
The Prophet's words were direct and crystal clear. They exposed the liar of the Bani Haniifah who thought that prophethood was a kingdom, so he demanded his piece of the cake, namely, half the earth and its people. The messenger carried the Prophet's answer to Musailamah, yet it only made him more mischievous and corrupt.
* * *
He went on spreading his falsehood and slander and went on abusing the believers and instigating people against them. The Prophet (PBUH) thought it best to give him one last chance, so he sent a message to convince him not to commit any more of his folly. He picked Habiib Ibn Zaid as his messenger. Habiib hastened enthusiastically with the glorious mission the Prophet (PBUH) had entrusted him with. He hoped that Musailamah's heart would be guided to the right path and that he would rewarded endlessly in the Hereafter.
* * *
The traveler reached his destination. Musailamah the Liar read the Prophet's message, but he was blinded by its light, which only made him more aberrant and arrogant.
Musailamah was really no more than a flagrant liar. He indeed behaved accordingly. He lacked the least manliness, sense of honor or decency of the Arabs which might have prevented him from shedding the blood of a messenger, which was highly respected and even held sacred by all Arabs.
It was as though this noble religion Islam wanted to give humanity a new lesson of greatness and heroism. Only this time, both its subject matter and its tutor were one and the same person, Habiib Ibn Zaid.
* * *
Musailamah the Liar called upon people to witness one of his so-called memorable days. The messenger of the Prophet, Habiib Ibn Zaid, was brought in. It was clear from his wounds and bruises that he had been abused and tortured severely by those criminals. They thought that they could strip him of his valor so that he might appear in a state of complete humiliation and defeat before the crowd. They hoped that he would then give Musailamah the credibility he craved when he called upon him to witness to his fake prophethood before the crowd. Thus, the notorious liar would be able to make a fake miracle that would cement his prestige among those whom he deluded.
* * *
Therefore, Musailamah asked Habiib, "Do you bear witness that Muhammad is, indeed, the Messenger of Allah?" Habiib answered boldly, "Yes, I do bear witness that Muhammad is, indeed, the Messenger of Allah." Musailamah's face went white with humiliation and embarrassment yet he asked, "Do you bear witness that I am the Messenger of Allah?" Habiib scornfully replied, "Nonsense!"
The impostor Musailamah's humiliated face darkened with spiteful madness. His scheme had failed. His torture of Habiib had been futile. He was slapped so fiercely before the crowd which he himself had gathered to witness his so-called miracle. This slap was so strong that it shattered his assumed dignity once and for all. He became as violent as a wounded bull as he summoned his executioner, who rushed and stabbed Habiib's body with his sword. He slew him, cutting his body into small pieces, one by one Habiib made no sound beside chanting stoically, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger."
* * *
It was as though he wanted to celebrate his Islam until the very last moment of his life. Now, if Habiib, on that day, had tried to escape this horrible death by a pretense of his faith in Musailamah's prophethood, his faith would not have been questioned, doubted or blemished in any way. But he was a man who had witnessed the Second Pledge of Al-'Aqabah along with his father, mother, brother, and aunt, and ever since those decisive blessed moments he had carried upon his shoulders the responsibility that ensued his oath and faith to the fullest. He could not for a moment hold his life and principles as separable. Therefore, he found a rare opportunity to win his life once and for all. His life was an embodiment of his faith. It embodied his stead-fastness, greatness, heroism, sacrifice, and martyrdom for the sake of Right and Truth, the splendor of which surpassed all victories.
* * *
The Prophet received the sad news of Habiib's martyrdom with patience, for Allah's inspiration made him see the future fate of Musailamah. He could almost see his death with his own eyes. As for Nusaibah bint Ka'b, Habiib's mother, she gnashed her teeth for a long while on hearing the terrible deed, then she swore a solemn oath to avenge her son's death upon Musailamah and to thrust her sword and spear right into his wicked body.
It seemed that fate watched her anguish, patience, and courage on receiving this news and showed great admiration and sympathy for her calamity and decided all at once to stand by her until she fulfilled her oath.
* * *
After a short while, the Battle of Al-Yamaamah took place. Abu Bakr As-Siddiiq, the Prophet's caliph, organized an army to march to Al-Yamama where Musailamah had already organized a huge army.
Nusaibah marched along with the Muslim army and threw herself into the battlefield armed with a sword in her right hand and a spear in her left one. She kept on shouting, "Where are you Musailamah, you enemy of Allah?"
When Musailamah was killed and his followers were like carded wool, the standards of Islam fluttered victoriously and proudly. Nusaibah's strong and brave body was strained with spear wounds . She stood there recalling the amiable face of her beloved son that seemed to linger about the place. Wherever she looked, she saw the face of her son Habiib. It was somewhere out there smiling contentedly on every victorious fluttering flag.