Prophet Muhammad’s Forgiveness of the Man who Killed his Beloved Uncle, Hamza

       عن أبي هُريرة رضيَ اللَّهُ عنه أَنَّ رسولَ اللَّه صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « مَا نَقَصَتْ صَدَقَةٌ مِنْ مَالٍ، وَمَا زَادَ اللَّهُ عَبْداً بِعَفْوٍ إِلاَّ عِزّاً، وَمَا تَوَاضَعَ أَحَدٌ للَّهِ إِلاَّ رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وجلَّ» .  رواه مسلم والترمذي.

     Narrated Abu Hurairah -may Allah be pleased with him- that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Charity does not decrease wealth.  God only increases the honor of the slave who forgives (others).  And no one humbles himself for the sake God, except the Almighty God would raise him.”  Related by Muslim and Al-Tirmidhi.

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Prophet Muhammad’s grandfather, Abdul-Muttalib was one the dignitaries of the tribe of Qureish and one of the most noble in lineage (being a direct descendant of Prophet Ismail son of Prophet Abraham).  Abdul-Muttalib had re-dug the Well of Zamzam in Makkah, and used to feed the pilgrims to Makkah, therefore he received the highest honor and respect.  Abdul-Muttalib was the chief of the clan of Bani Hashim (the tribe of Qureish had many clans, each clan had its chief), and had ten sons (and it was said 12) and six daughters.  Abdul-Muttalib’s tenth child was Abdul-Allah and the most beloved to him.  Abdul-Allah married Aminah and they had a son named Muhammad.  Abdul-Allah died early (25), so Abdul-Muttalib took care of his grandson. Aminah had told her father-in-law that when she gave birth to Muhammad she saw as if a bright light has come out of her and illuminated Al-Sham.  A couple of monks said the same to Abdul-Muttalib, so he said: ‘This son of mine will reach a great status.’  Then Aminah died (at 20) when Prophet Muhammad was six.  When Abdul-Muttalib died (Prophet Muhammad was 8), he asked his eldest live son, Abu Talib, to take care of him.  A couple of knowledgeable people said the same to Abu Talib, so he looked after his nephew with great care.

Thus, Prophet Muhammad had ten uncles (or 12), of whom only four were alive when he was sent with the Divine Message of Islam.  Two of his Uncles embraced Islam: Hamza and Al-Abbas (both were only a couple of years older than him), and two Uncles died as disbelievers: Abu Talib and Abu Lahab.  All three uncles loved him dearly and did everything in their power to protect him, except Abu Lahab who used to abuse him and harm him until God promised Abu Lahab severe punishment in Qur’an.

Prophet Muhammad’s eldest live Uncle Abu Talib used to protect him from Qureish when the Prophet called people to worship one God.  Qureish used to worship idols beside God, and opposed the Prophet’s message.  They tried to persecute him, but Abu Talib stood in their way and defended his nephew.  Abu Talib used to love Prophet Muhammad more than his own sons!  It is related that he used to keep food for him, keep his bed close to his, and even would ask his sons to take Prophet Muhammad’s place for fear Qureish may cause him some harm at night.

When Abu Talib died, Qureish found an opportunity to harm Prophet Muhammad.  They used to harm him both verbally and physically, and yet the Prophet continued to invite them to worship one God, and would endure their persecution patiently.  Once, one of the chiefs of Qureish, Abu Jahl, passed by the Prophet at the Mount of Safa near the Great Mosque in Makkah, and abused him calling him bad names.  The Prophet endured that silently, but a woman who used to live close by heard that.  When the Prophet’s uncle Hamza Ibn Abdil-Muttalib passed by her, she told him of what she saw.  Hamza became angry for his nephew and went to the chief who was sitting among his people.  Hamza hit Abu Jahl hard on the face with a bow that was in his hand, then declared his Islam.

After that Hamza, uncle of the Prophet, always used to protect the Prophet and fight with him.  Then during the Battle of Uhud, Hamza was killed by a slave by the name of Wahshi.  Wahshi’s master, Jubair Ibn Mut’im, had promised Wahshi freedom if he killed Hamza.  Hamza was very brave and no one could get close to him in battle, so Wahshi used a spear to kill Hamza.  Qureish then mutilated the body of Hamza.  When the Prophet saw Hamza’s mutilated body (with his ears and nose cut off, his abdomen slashed, and his liver taken out), he was greatly saddened.  Later, after the Conquest of Makkah Wahshi ran away for fear of retaliation.  But when he heard of the Prophet’s great mercy, he presented himself to him.  Here Wahshi relates his story:

    عن جَعْفَرِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ أُمَيَّةَ الضَّمْرِيِّ، قَالَ: ( خَرَجْتُ مَعَ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَدِيِّ بْنِ الْخِيَارِ، فَلَمَّا قَدِمْنَا حِمْصَ قَالَ لِي عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ: هَلْ لَكَ فِي وَحْشِيٍّ نَسْأَلُهُ عَنْ قَتْلِ حَمْزَةَ؟ قُلْتُ: نَعَمْ‏.‏ وَكَانَ وَحْشِيٌّ يَسْكُنُ حِمْصَ، فَسَأَلْنَا عَنْهُ فَقِيلَ لَنَا: هُوَ ذَاكَ فِي ظِلِّ قَصْرِهِ، كَأَنَّهُ حَمِيتٌ‏.‏ قَالَ فَجِئْنَا حَتَّى وَقَفْنَا عَلَيْهِ بِيَسِيرٍ، فَسَلَّمْنَا، فَرَدَّ السَّلاَمَ، قَالَ وَعُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ مُعْتَجِرٌ بِعِمَامَتِهِ، مَا يَرَى وَحْشِيٌّ إِلاَّ عَيْنَيْهِ وَرِجْلَيْهِ، فَقَالَ عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ: يَا وَحْشِيُّ أَتَعْرِفُنِي؟  قَالَ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ: لاَ وَاللَّهِ، إِلاَّ أَنِّي أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ عَدِيَّ بْنَ الْخِيَارِ تَزَوَّجَ امْرَأَةً يُقَالُ لَهَا أُمُّ قِتَالٍ بِنْتُ أَبِي الْعِيصِ، فَوَلَدَتْ لَهُ غُلاَمًا بِمَكَّةَ، فَكُنْتُ أَسْتَرْضِعُ لَهُ، فَحَمَلْتُ ذَلِكَ الْغُلاَمَ مَعَ أُمِّهِ، فَنَاوَلْتُهَا إِيَّاهُ، فَلَكَأَنِّي نَظَرْتُ إِلَى قَدَمَيْكَ‏.‏ قَالَ فَكَشَفَ عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ عَنْ وَجْهِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ: أَلاَ تُخْبِرُنَا بِقَتْلِ حَمْزَةَ؟ قَالَ نَعَمْ، إِنَّ حَمْزَةَ قَتَلَ طُعَيْمَةَ بْنَ عَدِيِّ بْنِ الْخِيَارِ بِبَدْرٍ، فَقَالَ لِي مَوْلاَىَ جُبَيْرُ بْنُ مُطْعِمٍ إِنْ قَتَلْتَ حَمْزَةَ بِعَمِّي فَأَنْتَ حُرٌّ، قَالَ فَلَمَّا أَنْ خَرَجَ النَّاسُ عَامَ عَيْنَيْنِ ـ وَعَيْنَيْنِ جَبَلٌ بِحِيَالِ أُحُدٍ، بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُ وَادٍ ـ خَرَجْتُ مَعَ النَّاسِ إِلَى الْقِتَالِ، فَلَمَّا اصْطَفُّوا لِلْقِتَالِ خَرَجَ سِبَاعٌ فَقَالَ: هَلْ مِنْ مُبَارِزٍ؟ قَالَ فَخَرَجَ إِلَيْهِ حَمْزَةُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ فَقَالَ: يَا سِبَاعُ يَا ابْنَ أُمِّ أَنْمَارٍ مُقَطِّعَةِ الْبُظُورِ، أَتُحَادُّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ قَالَ ثُمَّ شَدَّ عَلَيْهِ فَكَانَ كَأَمْسِ الذَّاهِبِ ـ قَالَ ـ وَكَمَنْتُ لِحَمْزَةَ تَحْتَ صَخْرَةٍ فَلَمَّا دَنَا مِنِّي رَمَيْتُهُ بِحَرْبَتِي، فَأَضَعُهَا فِي ثُنَّتِهِ حَتَّى خَرَجَتْ مِنْ بَيْنِ وَرِكَيْهِ ـ قَالَ ـ فَكَانَ ذَاكَ الْعَهْدَ بِهِ، فَلَمَّا رَجَعَ النَّاسُ رَجَعْتُ مَعَهُمْ فَأَقَمْتُ بِمَكَّةَ، حَتَّى فَشَا فِيهَا الإِسْلاَمُ، ثُمَّ خَرَجْتُ إِلَى الطَّائِفِ، فَأَرْسَلُوا إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَسُولاً، فَقِيلَ لِي إِنَّهُ لاَ يَهِيجُ الرُّسُلَ، قَالَ فَخَرَجْتُ مَعَهُمْ حَتَّى قَدِمْتُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَمَّا رَآنِي قَالَ: ‏”‏ آنْتَ وَحْشِيٌّ؟‏”‏‏، قُلْتُ: نَعَمْ‏.‏ قَالَ: ‏”‏ أَنْتَ قَتَلْتَ حَمْزَةَ؟‏”،‏ قُلْتُ: قَدْ كَانَ مِنَ الأَمْرِ مَا بَلَغَكَ‏.‏ قَالَ: ‏”‏ فَهَلْ تَسْتَطِيعُ أَنْ تُغَيِّبَ وَجْهَكَ عَنِّي‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ: فَخَرَجْتُ).  رواه البخاري.

                       Narrated Ja’far Ibn Amr Ibn Umayya Al-Damri said (English translation): “I went out on a journey with Ubaidul-Allah Ibn Adi Ibn Al-Khiyar. When we reached Hims (a town in Syria), Ubaidul-Allah Ibn Adi said to me: ‘Would you like to see Wahshi so that we may ask him about the killing of Hamza?’ I replied: ‘Yes.’ Wahshi used to live in Hims. We inquired about him and somebody said to us: ‘He is there in the shade of his palace, as if he were a full water skin [to indicate that he was heavyset].’ So we went up to him, and when we were at a short distance from him, we greeted him and he greeted us in return.

Ubaidul-Allah was masking his face with his turban so that only his eyes and feet could be seen.  Ubaidul-Allah said: ‘O Wahshi! Do you know me?’  Wahshi looked at him and then said: ‘No, by Allah! But I know that Adi Ibn Al-Khiyar married a woman called Umm Qital, the daughter of Abu Al-Ees, and she delivered a boy for him at Makkah, and I looked for a wet nurse for that child. Once I carried that child along with his mother and then I handed him over to her, and your feet resemble the feet of that child.’ [This indicates the astuteness and sharpness of Wahshi for the man in front of him was indeed that child].

Then Ubaidul-Allah uncovered his face and said to Wahshi: ‘Will you tell us (the story of) the killing of Hamza?’  Wahshi replied: ‘Yes. Hamza killed Tu’eima Ibn Adi Ibn Al-Khiyar at Badr [who challenged the Muslims during the Battle of Badr], so my master, Jubair Ibn Mut’im said to me: ‘If you kill Hamza in revenge for my uncle, then you will be set free.’

When the people set out (the next year for the battle of Uhud) in the year of ‘Ainain (Ainain is a mountain near the mountain of Uhud), I went out with the people for the battle. When the army aligned for the fight, Siba’ came out and said: ‘Is there anyone to accept my challenge to a duel?’ Hamza Ibn Abdil-Muttalib came out and said: ‘O Siba’, O son of Umm Anmar, the one who circumcises other ladies! Do you challenge Allah and His Messenger?’  Then Hamza charged and killed him, causing him to be non-extant like the bygone yesterday.  I hid myself under a rock, and when Hamza came near me, I threw my spear at him, driving it into his umbilicus so that it came out through his back, causing him to die.

When all the people returned to Makkah, I too returned with them (and my master set me free). I stayed there till Islam spread to it.  So I left for Al-Ta’if, and when the people of Al-Ta’if sent their messengers to Prophet Muhammad, I was told that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- did not harm the messengers; so I too went out with them till I reached Prophet Muhammad and declared my Islam.

When Prophet Muhammad saw me, he said: ‘Are you Wahshi?’ I said: ‘Yes.’  He said: ‘Was it you who killed Hamza?’ I replied: ‘What you have been told did take place (and I told him the whole story).’  He (forgave me but) said: ‘Can you hide your face from me?’  So I left.”    Related by Al-Bukhari.

 

Thus, we see the great forgiveness of Prophet Muhammad.  Though he felt great pain and sadness for the murder and mutilation of his beloved uncle, Hamza, and though he had the power to punish Wahshi who had killed Hamza, Prophet Muhammad showed his great moral character and forgave Wahshi when he came to him repentant and declaring Islam.  But because of the painful reminder of his uncle’s death every time he saw Wahshi, he asked him not to show his face.  Therefore, Wahshi used to sit behind the Prophet till his death, but he was forgiven.

There is a great lesson for us in this story, and that is instead of harboring hatred and malice, instead of seeking retaliation and revenge, we need to learn to forgive and spread justice and peace.  And just as we would like others to forgive us when we do them some wrong, we should learn to forgive others as well. And God knows best.

 

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