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2007/04/27

SUHAIL IBN `AMR


From Liberation to Martyrdom

When he was captured into the hands of the Muslims in the Battle of Badr, `Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab approached the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, let me extract the teeth of Suhail Ibn `Amr until no speaker stands against you after today."

The great Messenger responded, "No, `Umar. I do not treat anyone harshly so Allah will not harm me, even though I am a Prophet." Then `Umar came nearer to him and the Prophet said, "Perhaps Suhail will take a stand tomorrow that will make you happy."

So the prophecy of the Messenger came true. The greatest orator of the Quraish, Suhail Ibn `Amr, changed into a brilliant and dazzling speaker of Islam. This polytheist who was always against Islam changed into an obedient believer. His eyes never stopped crying out of fear of Allah. One of the senior chiefs of the Quraish and a leader of its army changed into a very hard fighter in the path of Islam, a fighter who vowed to himself to be persistent and to persevere in courage, self-control, and fighting until he died on that path, so that perhaps Allah would forgive his previous sins.

So who was that obstinate polytheist ? He was Suhail Ibn `Amr, one of the prominent leaders of the Quraish, and one of its wise men and people of intelligence and discernment.

He was the one whom the Quraish appointed to convince the Messenger to change his mind and refrain from entering Makkah in the year of Hudaibiyah. At the end of A.H. 6, the Messenger and his Companions went out to Makkah to visit the Sacred House and to perform `Umrah. They did not want war and they were not prepared to fight.

The Quraish knew they were on their way to Makkah, so they went out to block the way and stop them from achieving their objective. The situation became critical and hearts became tense. The Messenger said to his Companions, "The Quraish do not call me today to a plan but ask me instead about the bonds of kinship. So I gave them to them."

The Quraish began to send their messengers and representatives to the Prophet, so he informed all of them that he did not come to fight but to visit the Sacred House and glorify its sacredness. Each time one of their representatives returned, they sent another after him more vigorous and unyielding and stronger in persuasion, until they chose `Urwah Ibn Mas'uud Ath-Thaqafiy. He was among the strongest and cleverest of them. The Quraish thought that `Urwah would be able to convince the Messenger to go back; however, he quickly came back to them saying, "O people of Quraish, indeed I went to the Persian emperor in his kingdom and Caesar in his kingdom and the Negus in his kingdom, but, by Allah, I swear I never saw a king whose people magnify him as the Companions of Muhammad magnify him. I saw around him a people that shall never surrender to evil. So, what will you do and what is your opinion?"

At that time the Quraish believed that there was no way for their attempts to succeed, so they decided to resort to negotiation and reconciliation. They chose for this task the most suitable of their chiefs. He was Suhail Ibn `Amr.

* * *

The Muslims saw Suhail coming towards them and recognized him and realized that the Quraish preferred the way of peace making and mutual understanding when at last they sent Suhail. Suhail sat in front of the Messenger, and a long dialogue took place ending with a peace treaty. Suhail attempted to gain much for the Quraish. The tolerant leniency, noble-mindedness, and excellent manner in which the Messenger managed the negotiations and peace making helped him in achieving that.

Days passed until A.H. 8 came. The Messenger and the Muslims went out for the conquest of Makkah after the Quraish had violated its treaty with the Messenger of Allah.

The Muhaajiruun returned to their homes which earlier they had been expelled from by force. They returned and with them the Ansaar, who had taken care of them in their city and preferred them over themselves.

With its flags fluttering victoriously in the sky, Makkah opened all of its gates and the polytheists were stopped in bewilderment. What would be their destiny and fate today, since they were the ones who had done wrong to the Muslims previously by killing them, burning them, torturing them, and starving them? The merciful Prophet (PBUH) did not want to leave them for long under the pressure of these debilitating feelings. He received them and turned to them in a good and noble manner and said to them with his merciful voice flowing tenderly and lovingly, "O people of Quraish, what do you think I will do with you?"

At that time the enemy of Islam in the past, Suhail lbn `Amr, stepped forward and answered, ''We think you will treat us well, O noble brother and son of a noble brother."

A smile formed from light appeared on the lips of the Beloved of Allah and he called to them, "Go, you are free, liberated." These words did not come from the victorious, triumphant Messenger except to change human beings with living feelings by melting them to obedience, humility, and repentance. At the same moment, this situation, filled with nobility and glory, stimulated all of Suhail lbn `Amr's feelings, so he surrendered to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. His Islam, at that time, was not the surrender of a defeated man, resigned to fate. It was, as his future shall reveal in what follows, the surrender of a man overwhelmed and fascinated by the majesty of Muhammad and the grandeur of the religion that Muhammad demonstrated in his conduct in conformity with its teachings and instructions. These teachings, as he saw them, conveyed extraordinary benevolence, friendship, and devotion.

Those who announced their Islam on the Day of the Conquest of Makkah were designated with the name "At-Tulaqaa"' or those who were transferred by the forgiveness of the Prophet from polytheism to Islam when he said to them, "Go, you are free." Consequently, some persons from among those Tulaqaa' (or those who were liberated) were raised by their sincerity to a far distant horizon of sacrifice, worship, and purity which placed them in the first rank of the Prophet's righteous and devoted Companions. Among these was Suhail Ibn `Amr.

Islam molded and fashioned him afresh and refined all of his original skills and gifts and, what is more, increased them and placed all of them at the service of truth, goodness, and faith. They described him in these words: "The kind, generous, outstanding one. The one who performs prayer much and fasts and gives in charity and reads the Qur'aan and crys out of fear of Allah."

That was the greatness of Suhail. For in spite of the fact that he accepted Islam on the Day of the Conquest of Makkah, and not before that, we see him truthfully affirming his Islam and its certainty, to the extent that he excelled in it with distinction, exerting himself with all his heart. He was transformed into a worshiper, self-denying and abstenious, and into one who sacrifices and strives in the path of Allah and Islam.

When the Messenger was transported to the company of the Most High, the news soon reached Makkah. Suhail at that time was residing there, and the Muslims were overwhelmed by agitation and perplexity, just as the Muslims were in Al-Madiinah. However, the confusion of Al-Madiinah was dissipated by Abu Bakr at that time by his decisive words: "Whoever worships Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead; and whoever worships Allah, indeed Allah is living and never dies."

So we were amazed when we saw Suhail holding the same position in Makkah as Abu Bakr in Al-Madiinah. He gathered all of the Muslims there, and he stood dazzling them with his salutorious words, informing them that Muhammad was truly the Messenger of Allah and that he did not die until he had executed his trust and conveyed the message and that the duty of the believers towards this message was to assiduously devote all their efforts to it in pursuance of his methodology and approach.

On account of Suhail's position and his rightly directly words and strong faith, he warded off the discord and civil strife which almost extirpated and uprooted the faith of the people of Makkah when the news of the death of the Messenger reached them.

Did not he, the Messenger, say to Umar on the day `Umar asked the Prophet (PBUH) for permission to pull out the two teeth of Suhail when he was taken prisoner at Badr, "Leave them, perhaps they will make you happy one day."

So on the day when the news of the position of Suhail in Makkah and his dazzling speech which made the faith firm in the Muslims' hearts reached the Muslims in Al-Madiinah, `Umar Ibn Al Khattaab remembered the prophecy of his Messenger and laughed a long time, for the day had come in which Islam benefited from the two teeth of Suhail which `Umar had wanted to crush and tear out. When Suhail accepted Islam on the Day of the Conquest of Makkah and after he had tasted the sweetness of faith, he imposed on himself a vow he summed up in these words: By Allah, I do not leave situations and battles with the polytheists except I support the Muslims equally and no wealth I spent with the polytheists but I spend an equal amount with the Muslims. Perhaps my support of the Muslims will be followed by an ever greater support. I stood a long time with the polytheists in front of their idols, so let us now stand for a long time with the believers in the presence of Allah, the One and Only.

Thus, he started praying and praying and fasting and praying. He would not let a chance pass him by which would sharpen his spirit and make him close to his Lord Most High but that he took from it a sufficient portion.

Thus in his past he stood with the polytheists in situations of oppression and war against Islam. So, now let him take his place in the Muslim army, fighting bravely to extinguish, with the battalion of truth, the fire of the Persian king who used to worship idols and false gods other than Allah, and fighting to burn the destinies of the peoples who participated in this fake worship. So, let him fight also to destroy with the battalion of truth the darkness of Rome and its injustice and spread the word of monotheism and the fear of Allah to every place.

Thus, he went out with the Muslim army to Syria participating in its wars. On the Day of Yarmuuk, the Muslims courageously plunged into battle, encountering harm, violence, and danger. Suhail Ibn Amr was almost flying out of joy when he found on this crucial day the rich opportunity to make the effort, from his soul, to annihilate the sins and mistakes of jaahiliyah before accepting Islam. He used to love his house in Makkah greatly, so much so that it made him forget himself. Nevertheless, he refused to return to it after the Muslim victory over Syria, and so he said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, The rank and position of one of you who spends one hour in the cause of Allah is better for him than his work throughout his life.' Therefore, I will strive in the path of Allah until death, and I shall not return to Makkah."

And Suhail died true to his vow and continued to strive for the remainder of his life committed to his religion until the appointed time of his demise. So his soul flew quickly to the Mercy of Allah and His pleasure.

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