Battle of Mu'tah
There is one account in which Urwah bin Zubair narrates that the Holy Prophet (sa) appointed Zaid (ra) bin Haritha as the army commander in the Battle of Mautah and stated that if Hazrat Zaid (ra) was martyred then Hazrat Ja’far (ra) bin Abi Talib would be the commander. If he too was martyred, then Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha would assume leadership. If Abdullah (ra) too was martyred, then Muslims were to appoint whoever they desired as commander. When the time came to see off the army, Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha began weeping. People asked Abdullah “Why are you weeping?” He said:
“By God I have absolutely no love nor any desire for the world. However, I heard the Holy Prophet (sa) say, with regards to the Qur’anic verse:
وَ اِنْ مِّنْكُمْ اِلَّا وَارِدُهَا كَانَ عَليٰ رَبِّكَ حَتْمًا مَّقْضِيًّا
‘And there is not one of you but will come to it. This is a fixed decree with thy Lord,’ (Surah Maryam, CH.19: V.72)
That everyone must face the fire once. Hence, I do not know what my state will be once I have crossed the bridge of Siraat [on the day of reckoning].”
(Usdul Ghabah, Vol. 3, p. 237, Bab Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha, Darul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyah, Beirut 1996)
However, it is narrated that the Holy Prophet (sa) has given such God-fearing people the glad tidings of the best possible end. During the Battle of Mu’tah the Holy Prophet (sa) said regarding the army commanders, “I have seen them in Paradise seated on thrones of gold.”
Thus, these were the people who fulfilled their noble objectives. Their desire for martyrdom is evident in the following poetic couplet, the translation of which is as follows: “May I be struck with such arrows and spears that pass through my intestines to my liver and my martyrdom be accepted before God, so that those who pass by my grave may say, ‘O God, be good to him, what a great warrior he was!’”
Some details of the Battle of Mu’tah, in which he was martyred are that when they reached Mu’tah, they became aware that the Ghassani tribe had requested help against the Muslims from Heraclius, Caesar of Rome and that he had sent an army of 200,000 to combat the Muslims.
At the time, the leaders of the Muslim army consulted each other and it was decided to send a message to the Holy Prophet (sa) with a request for reinforcements due to this increase in number of the enemy or to take any other action that the Holy Prophet (sa) advised. At this juncture, Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha boosted the morale of the Muslims and his war poetry also came to good use. The Muslim army consisting of 3,000 men advanced towards the opposing army of 200,000.
(Usdul Ghabah, Vol. 3, p. 237, Bab Abdullahra bin Rawaha, Darul Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyah, Beirut 1996)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) has explained the account of the Battle of Mu‘tah in the following manner – this has already been mentioned once before in reference to Hazrat Zaid (ra), however I shall mention it briefly again. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) states:
“The Holy Prophet (sa) had appointed Zaid (ra) as the commander of the army. However, the Holy Prophet (sa) also stated, ‘I am appointing Zaid (ra) as the commander of the army, but if Zaid (ra) is martyred during the battle, then Jafar (ra) will take command of the army. If he is also martyred, then Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha will take command. However, if he is also martyred then whoever the Muslims collectively agree upon should take the command of the army’. When the Holy Prophet (sa) stated this, a Jew was also sat in the company of the Holy Prophet (sa) and submitted, ‘Although I do not believe you to be a prophet, but if you are truthful, then none of these three individuals would return alive because anything uttered by a prophet is certainly fulfilled.’ The Jew then went to the Hazrat Zaid (ra) and stated, ‘If your prophet is true, then you shall not come back alive.’ Hazrat Zaid (ra) replied, ‘Regardless of whether I return from this battle alive or not, for Allah knows best, but it is an undeniable truth that our Messenger (sa) is truthful.’”
Despite not professing belief in the Holy Prophet (sa), the Jew knew that the words of the Holy Prophet (sa) were indeed going to be fulfilled, but this is the stubborn attitude of those who will not accept the truth whatever be the case. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) further writes:
“Allah’s wisdom so ordained that this incident was fulfilled exactly as foretold. Hazrat Zaid (ra) was martyred. Then, Hazart Jafar (ra) took up the command and he too was martyred. Then, Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha took up the command of the army and was also martyred. It was possible that in this moment, the Muslim army could have dispersed but Hazrat Khalid (ra) bin Waleed took the flag in his hand at the behest of the Muslims. Allah gave victory to the Muslims through him and he returned the army safely.”
(Fariza-e-Tabligh Aur Ahmadi Khawatin, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 18, pp. 405-406)
Hazrat Urwah (ra) bin Zubair relates that the Holy Prophet (sa) appointed Hazrat Zaid (ra) bin Harithah as the commander of the army on the occasion of the Battle of Mu‘tah and stated that if Hazrat Zaid (ra) was martyred then Hazrat Jafar bin Abi Talib (ra) would be the commander. If he too was martyred, then Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha would take control. If Abdullah (ra) too was martyred, then the Muslims should appoint whoever they desired as their commander. When the army was ready and about to depart, the people were seeing off the appointed commanders of the Holy Prophet (sa) and praying for their safety. When they saw off the commanders of the Holy Prophet (sa), Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha began to weep.
The people enquired as to why he was weeping, to which he replied, “By God, I have absolutely no love nor any desire for the world. However, I heard the Holy Prophet (sa) speaking with regard to the Quranic verse:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡکُمۡ اِلَّا وَارِدُہَا ۚ کَانَ عَلٰی رَبِّکَ حَتۡمًا مَّقۡضِیًّا
‘And there is not one of you but will come to it [referring to Hell]. This is a fixed decree with thy Lord.’ (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V.72)
Hence, after having treaded this delicate path [i.e. the Day of Reckoning,] I do not know what my condition will be.”
In the preceding verses, God Almighty has mentioned Hell-Fire, which caused him concern, whereas in other verses, it is clearly stated that this is not the case of a believer and one who takes up Jihad in the way of Allah. Nevertheless, the people told him that God Almighty was with them and He would bring them back safely. It is written in a footnote of Tafsir-e-Saghir, and also in Tafsir-e-Kabir, that this would not be the fate of a believer but only for the disbelievers.
The Promised Messiah (as) has explained this further in light of some ahadith. The summary of the footnote from Tafsir-e-Saghir is as follows:
“The Holy Quran mentions two types of Hell – one is in this very life and the other is in the Hereafter. Where it is stated, ‘All shall enter Hell,’ it does not mean to say that the believers shall also enter therein, rather it means that believers shall experience some aspect of Hell in this very life, i.e. the disbelievers inflict them with all sorts of suffering. Otherwise, from the Holy Quran, it is evident that the believers shall never enter the Hellfire, because according to the Holy Quran, regarding the believers it states:
لَا يَسْمَعُونَ حَسِيسَهَا
i.e. the believers shall remain so far from Hell that they will not hear the slightest sound thereof. Hence, the meaning behind believers entering the fire is that they shall suffer afflictions in this life. The Holy Prophet (sa) has even declared fever as a type of fire, where he states:
الْحُمّٰى حَظُّ كُلِّ مُؤْمِنٍ مِنَ النَّار
‘Fever is a portion of the Hellfire for every believer.’” (Tafsir-e-Saghir, Ch.19: V.72)
Nevertheless, this was a brief explanation. The believers saw off the army and prayed for them to be safeguarded from every evil of the enemy. Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha recited the following poetic verses:
لَكِنَّنِيْ اَسْأَلُ الرَّحْمَانَ مَغْفِرَةً
وَ ضَرْبَةً ذَاتَ فَرْغٍ يَقْذِفُ الزَّبَدَا
اَوْ طَعْنَةً بِيَدَيْ حَرَّانَ مُجْهِزَةً
بِحَرْبَةٍ تُنْفِذُ الْاَحْشَاءَ وَالْكَبِدَا
حَتّٰى يَقُوْلُوْا اِذَا مَرُّوْا عَلٰى جَدَثِيْ
يَا اَرْشَدَ اللّٰهُ مِنْ غَازٍ وَ قَدْ رَشَدَا
“I seek forgiveness from the Merciful God, and I seek the ability to be able to produce such a strike from my sword, which would inflict a great wound and thereby draw out fresh blood that spumes out. And the ability to launch an attack of the spear which is carried out by one who makes full preparation and is thirsty for blood; whose spear pierces through the liver and intestines. [May I continue to valiantly fight] until my death and when people pass by my grave, they will say, ‘O thou who took part in the battle, may Allah grant you good’ and indeed Allah will have done so.’”
Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha then presented himself before the Holy Prophet (sa) and the Holy Prophet (sa) then bade farewell to the army. The army continued to travel and stopped at a place called Ma‘aan, which is a town situated in Syria towards Hijaz, in the suburbs of Balqaa. It was there that they learnt that Heraclius, along with 100,000 Roman soldiers and 100,000 Arab soldiers, was at Ma‘aab. Ma‘aab is also a town situated in the suburbs of Balqaa, Syria. The Muslims remained in Ma‘aan for two days and discussions amongst themselves ensued that they should send someone to the Holy Prophet (sa) to inform him of the size of the enemy, i.e. that the enemy were in extremely large numbers.
They thought that either the Holy Prophet (sa) would send reinforcements or he would issue another commandment. However, Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha gave courage to the Muslims and reinvigorated their passion. Subsequently, the Muslims, despite being only 3,000 in number, marched ahead and met the roman army in Balqaa near a place called Mushaarif. There are quite a few areas that went by the name of Mushaarif; one was located near Horan, one was near Damascus and the other was near Balqaa. From this location, the Muslim army moved towards Mu‘tah.
(Usdul Ghaba Fi Marifat Al-Sahaba, Vol. 3, p. 237, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2008) (Tafsir-e-Saghir, 19:72, p. 390) (Usdul Ghaba, Vol. 5, p. 247, Al-Mizan, Urdu Bazar, Lahore), (Mujam-ul-Buldan, Vol. 5, pp. 179, 37, 153-154)
Hazrat Anas (ra) relates that the Holy Prophet (sa) announced to the people the news of the martyrdom of Hazrat Zaid (ra), Hazrat Ja‘far (ra) and Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha and this was prior to any news directly reaching them about this incident. In other words, the Holy Prophet (sa) informed the people before any news had reached them. The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, “Zaid (ra) was holding the flag and was martyred, then Jafar (ra) took the flag and he was also martyred and then Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha took hold of the flag and he too was martyred.”
As the Holy Prophet (sa) was stating this, tears were flowing from his eyes. The Holy Prophet (sa) then stated, “The flag was then taken by one of the swords of Allah, and eventually Allah the Almighty granted them victory through him.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Hadith no. 4262)
When the Holy Prophet (sa) learnt of the martyrdom of Hazrat Zaid (ra) bin Haritha, Hazrat Jafar (ra) and Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha, he stood up to pay tribute. The Holy Prophet (sa) started with Hazrat Zaid (ra) and stated:
اَللّٰھُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِزَيْدٍ، اَللّٰھُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِزَيْدٍ، اَللّٰھُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِزَيْدٍ، اَللّٰھُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِجَعْفَرٍ وَ لِعَبْدِ اللّٰہِ ابْنِ رَوَاحَةَ
“O Allah, grant forgiveness to Zaid (ra)! O Allah, grant forgiveness to Zaid (ra)! O Allah, grant forgiveness to Zaid (ra)! O Allah, grant forgiveness to Jafar (ra) and Abdullah bin Rawaha (ra).”
(Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 34, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1990)
Hazrat Aisha (ra) narrates that when Hazrat Zaid (ra) bin Haritha, Hazrat Jafar (ra) and Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha were martyred, the Holy Prophet (sa) went and sat in the mosque. Emotions of grief and sorrow were visible from the Holy Prophet’s (sa) blessed countenance.
(Sunan Abi Daud, Kitab-ul-Janaiz, Hadith no. 3122)
Zaid (ra) bin Arqam narrates Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha’s desire for martyrdom. He states:
“Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha took me with him for the battle of Mautah, riding together on his camel.” Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha had raised Hazrat Zaid (ra) bin Arqam as an orphan child and had trained him. He says, “One night I heard Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha reciting a poetic couplet in reminiscence of his family, saying that he would never return home again. He was humming this couplet joyously in which he would address his wife and say ‘Thursday night, when you packed my saddle for this journey in Jihad, you were close to me one last time, how wonderful and blessed was your state. There are no imperfections and flaws in you. However, I am here now in the battlefield and I shall never return to you.’”
This was his way of bidding farewell to his family in their absence. When the young Zaid (ra) heard this, he became sad and began weeping. Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha admonished him and said:
“O naïve child, what do you have to lose if Allah the exalted grants me martyrdom? If that happens, you will in fact sit on my ride comfortably, all by yourself, and return home.”
(Usdul Ghabah, Vol. 3, pp. 236-237, Bab Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha, Darul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyah)
Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha demonstrated great mettle in the battlefield. Hazrat Nu‘man bin Bashir would later on narrate, “When Hazrat Ja‘far (ra) was martyred, Hazrat Abdullah (ra) bin Rawaha’s name was called, who, at the time was to the side of the army. He came forward while addressing himself in the following couplet from his war poetry” the translation of which is: “O my soul! Will you not battle in such a manner that you give up your life? You have already entered the pool of death and the time for the fulfilment of your desire to attain martyrdom is nigh. If you were to offer your life as a tribute right now, then perhaps you will obtain a good ending.”