Ja’far Ibn Abi-Talib
جعفر ابن أبي طالب
Ja’far Ibn Abi Taalib
The Companions of Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him)
Jafar was raised by his uncle,
Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib
Ja‘far ibn Abī Tālib (Arabic: جعفر ابن أبي طالب / جعفر الطيار) (died 629), also known as Ja‘far at-Tayyār, was the son of Abu Talib ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib (the uncle of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad), and the elder brother of the fourth Islam caliph or according to Shiite belief the first Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Jafar was raised by his uncle, Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib, for his father was a poor man and had to support a big family. He embraced Islam in around 613[when?].
Jafar left his uncle Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib’s house when he became a young man and got married to Asma bint Umays. They were among the very first persons to embrace Islam, and as a result suffered greatly at the hands of the Quraish. The Quraish restricted their movements and freedom until they could not bear it anymore. That is why Jafar went to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and took his permission to immigrate to Ethiopia along with a small group of Sahabas.
They settled down in this new land under the protection of Negus Ashama ibn Abjar, and for the first time since they had become Muslims they knew what freedom was, and could worship God without any hindrances. However, Quraish would not let them enjoy freedom and peace for long; soon they sent Abdullah ibn Abu Rabiah and another man from Quraish in order to negotiate with Negus and get all the Muslims back to Mecca.
They took a lot of presents to the Negus, which pleased him a lot, and then told him that there is a group of wicked men moving about freely in his country and asked him to capture them before they cause any harm to his kingship as they did in Quraish. But the Negus refused to do that until he calls them and questions them regarding Quraish’s allegations. So he asked the group Muslims, among which was Jafar ibn Abu Talib, to come and meet him and the Muslims chose Jafar to be their spokesman.
The Negus asked them “what is this religion that has cut you off from your people, and made you in no need of our religion..?”
Jafar answered him saying “we were living in darkness and this religion came and commanded us to speak the truth, to honor our promises, to be kind to our relations, to cease all forbidden acts, to abstain from bloodshed. To avoid obstinacies and false witness, nor to appropriate an orphan’s property or slander chaste women, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ordered us to worship Allah only and not to associate any god with Him, to uphold Salat, to give Zakat and fast in the month of Ramadan, so we believed in him and what he brought to us from Allah and we follow him in what he has asked us to do and we keep away from what he forbade us from doing.”
The Negus was eager to know more about what Jafar said, and so he asked Jafar to read him a part from what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought concerning God. Jafar recited for him the first portion of Surah Maryam, which narrates the story of Jesus and his mother Mary. On hearing the words of the Qur’an, the Negus was moved and the bishops around him began to weep. The Negus said that he will never harm them.
However the two Quraish emissaries did not stop at that, they went to the Negus again and told him that the Muslims say that Jesus is a slave, and asked him to call them and ask them what they think of Jesus.
The Negus called the Muslims and asked them, so Jafar answered him saying, “Our Prophet says that Jesus is Allah’s prophet.” The Negus gave back the gifts to Amr so he and his companion left broken and frustrated.
In Abyssinia, 616
Jafar ibn Abu Talib headed the second batch of immigrants to Abyssinia in 616[when?]. Jafar was the name of Abi Talib’s eldest son. Abi Talib was Muhammad’s protective uncle who helped his nephew. Jafar headed the first emigration of Muslims to Abyssinia, where they sought refuge amongst Christians of the time, following the orders of Muhammad. Upon attempts to sabotage their peaceful inhabitation in Abyssinia by the Quraysh, Jafar took a brave step in relaying the story of Maryam to the King of Abyssinia from the Qur’an, sealing trust between the Muslims and Christians during a dangerous time.
Because of Jafar’s bold move, the King welcomed the Muslims into his homeland and granted them protection as long as they chose Abyssinia as their abode. Jafar and his wife Asma spent about ten years in Ethiopia, which became a second home for them. There Asma gave birth to three children whom they named Abdullah, Muhammad and Awn. In the seventh year of the Hijra, Jafar and his family left Abyssinia with a group of Muslims and headed for Medina.
Overseas Preaching, 617
Jafar ibn Abu Talib was one of the Sahabas who left Abyssinia in 614-5[when?] for overseas preaching and later returned to Abyssinia by the same route. Jafar ibn Abu Talib accompanied Sad ibn abi Waqqas and other Sahabas in their mission to Chittagong-Manipur-Tibet-Khotan-China region. Jafar ibn Abu Talib headed the second batch of immigrants to Abyssinia in 616. Jafar was the name of Abi Talib’s eldest son. Abi Talib was Muhammad’s protective uncle who always showed his loyalty towards his nephew. Jafar headed the first emigration of Muslims to Abyssinia, where they sought refuge amongst Christians of the time, following the orders of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Upon attempts to sabotage their peaceful inhabitation in Abyssinia by the Quraysh, Jafar took a brave step in relaying the story of Maryam to the King of Abyssinia from the Qur’an, sealing trust between the Muslims and Christians during a dangerous time. Because of Jafar’s bold move, the King welcomed the Muslims into his homeland and granted them protection as long as they chose Abyssinia as their abode. Jafar and his wife Asma spent about ten years in Ethiopia, which became a second home for them. There Asma gave birth to three children whom they named Abdullah, Muhammad and Awn. In the seventh year of the Hijra, Jafar and his family left Abyssinia with a group of Muslims and headed for Madina.
Preaching in Khotan
The Muslims of Khotan (west of Tibet, China) trace their origin to Jafar, a cousin of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He is Jafar ibn Abu Talib.The oasis city of Khotan is located in the Xinjiang Province just six miles south of the Taklamakan Desert. The Muslims of Chams (Cambodiya) also trace their origin to a father-in-law of Muhammad  who is Jahsh (Geys), the father of Zainab (wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Muhammad). Chinese Muslims dedicated a mausoleum in Hami, 400 miles east of Ürümqi in Xinxiang, to Jahsh’s (Geys’) memory that was misconstrued as Geys’ tomb by later generations.
Arrival in Medina, 626
On their arrival at Medina, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was returning from the Battle of Khaybar and on seeing Jafar he was very happy and said, “I don’t know which event is more cheerful – Jafar’s coming or the Conquest of Khaybar!” Muslims in general and the poor among them specifically were as happy with the return of Jafar as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was. And quickly Jafar became a well known as a person who was much concerned with the welfare of the poor.
In the Battle of Mu’tah
Ja’far did not stay in Medina for long. In the eighth year of the Hijra, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mobilized an army to confront Byzantine forces in the Levant(Jordan), because a Byzantine governor had treacherously killed one of his emissaries. He appointed Zayd ibn Harithah as commander of the army and gave the following instructions: “If Zayd is wounded or killed, Ja’far ibn Abu Talib would take over the command. If Jafar ibn Abu Talib is killed or wounded, then your commander would be Abdullah ibn Rawahah. If Abdullah ibn Rawahah is killed, then let the Muslims choose for themselves a commander.”
Despite all the hardship they faced, the Muslim army battled the Byzantines. Zayd ibn Harithah, the beloved companion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was among the first Muslims who was killed in the battle. Jafar ibn Abu Talib then assumed command. Mounted on his horse, he penetrated deep into the Byzantine ranks. As he spurred his horse on, he called out: “How wonderful is Paradise as it draws near! How pleasant and cool is its drink! Punishment for the Byzantines is not far away!” Ja’far continued to fight vigorously but was eventually slain.
In the battle of Mu’tah, Ja’far at-Tayyar carried the Banner of Islam and was out-numbered by the enemies and killed. The two arms of one of Muhammad’s bravest followers and his army’s standard-bearer, Jafar at-Tayyar, brother of Ali, were cut off in the battle and he was martyred. When the news reached Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) he cried and prayed for Jafar’s soul and the angel Gabriel came down and consoled Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying “Jafar was a brave and loyal soldier. God has given him everlasting life, and in place of his arms which were cut off in the battle, the Lord has given him a pair of wings”.
The news of the death of the three commanders reached Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Medina. The pain and grief he felt was intense. He went to Jafar’s house and met his wife Asma. She was somehow prepared to receive her absent husband. Asma said: “When the Messenger of Allah approached us, I saw a veil of sadness shrouding his noble face and I became very apprehensive. But I did not dare ask him about Jafar for fear that I would hear some unpleasant news. He greeted and asked, ‘Where are Jafar’s children?’ I called them for him and they came and crowded around him happily, each one wanting to claim him for himself. He leaned over and hugged them while tears flowed from his eyes.
“O Messenger of Allah,” I asked, “why do you cry? Have you heard anything about Jafar and his two companions?” “Yes,” he replied. “They have attained martyrdom.” The smiles and the laughter vanished from the faces of the little children when they heard their mother crying and wailing. His tomb is located near Kerak, Jordan in the town of Al-Mazar and enclosed in an ornate shrine made of gold and silver, made by the Dawoodi Bohra’s 52nd Da’i, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Burhanuddin.
Sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren:
- Abdullah ibn Ja’far married Zaynab bint Ali. Their sons were martyred in the battle of Karbala.
- Muhammad ibn Ja’far.
- Awn ibn Ja’far and he married Umm Kulthum bint Ali.
- Yahya ibn Umar- Descendant who led a rebellion.
- Abdallah ibn Muawiya- Descendant who set up by Shia’s in Kufa as Imam and lead a rebellion.
Migration to Abyssinia: You Resemble Your Prophet in Your Looks and Conduct.
Notice his majestic youth and blooming vigor, patience, compassion, piety, modesty, and devoutness. Notice his fearlessness, generosity, purity, chastity, honesty, and trustworthiness. Notice his magnificent nature, virtue, and greatness. Do not let the fact that all these excelling traits were found in one man astonish you, for you are looking at a man who resembled the Prophet in his looks and conduct.
The Prophet gave him the epithet “Father of the Poor” and the agnomen “The Two Winged”. You are about to meet the twittering heavenly sparrow, Ja’far Ibn Abii Taalib, one of the great Muslims who contributed much to shaping the conscience of life.
He embraced Islam and was raised to a high station among the early believers. On the same day, his wife, Asmaa’ Bint `Umais, submitted herself to Islam. They had their share of abuse and oppression, which they withstood with courage and joy. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised his Companions to emigrate to Abyssinia, Ja’far and his wife were among those who acted upon his advice. There, they settled for a number of years, during which they had three children: Muhammad, `Abd Allah and `Awf.
In Abyssinia, Ja’far Ibn Abi Taalib was the eloquent Companion who won through in the way of Allah and His prophet, for among Allah’s graces bestowed on him were his noble heart, alert mind, sagacious spirit, and fluent speech. The Battle of Mu’tah, in which he was martyred, was his most magnificent, glorious and immortal feat. Yet the Day of Al-Mujaawarah, which he executed before An-Najaashii in Abyssinia, was not less in magnificence glory and grace. In fact, it was a singular battle of words and an impressive scene.
Now, the Muslim emigration to Abyssinia did not set the fears of the Quraish to rest nor lessen their grudges and spite against the Muslims. On the contrary, the Quraish were afraid lest the Muslims should gain momentum there and increase in number and power. If that did not happen, the Quraish’s haughtiness and arrogance could not accept the fact that those fugitives had fled their tyranny and ruthlessness and had settled in another country which the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw as a promising land for Islam.
Therefore, the Quraish leaders decided to send delegates to An-Najaashii with expensive gifts and the hope that he would expel those fugitives from his country. The two chosen delegates were `Abd Allah lbn Abi Rabii’ah and `Amr Ibn Al-Aas before they had embraced Islam.
The Emperor of Abyssinia
An-Najaashii, or Negus, the emperor of Abyssinia, was an enlightened believer. Deep inside he embraced a rational and pure Christianity, void of deviation, fanaticism, and narrow-mindedness. He was renowned and highly admired for his justice. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose his country for his Companions’ immigration.
Now, the Quraish were afraid lest they should not be able to convince him of their viewpoint. Therefore, their two delegates carried many expensive gifts for the bishops and archbishops of the church and were advised not to meet An-Najaashii until they had given those presents to the bishops and convinced them of their viewpoint so that they would support them before An-Najaashii.
As soon as the two delegates arrived in Abyssinia, they met the spiritual leaders and lavished the gifts on them. Then they sent An-Najaashii his presents. Afterwards, they began to incite the priests and bishops against the Muslim immigrants and asked them to support them in their plea to An-Najaashij to expel them. A day was set for the Muslims to meet An-Najaashii and confront, before his eyes, their spiteful and mischievous enemies.
On the appointed day, An-Najaashii sat on the throne in awesome dignity, surrounded by the bishops and his retinue. Right in front of him in the vast hall sat the Muslim immigrants, enveloped by Allah’s calmness, tranquility, and mercy which He had sent down upon them. The two Quraish delegates stood to reiterate their accusation which they had presented before An-Najaashii in a private meeting right before this huge audience.
They said, “Your Majesty, you well know that a group of fools have turned renegade and have taken asylum in your country. They did not embrace your religion, but rather invented their own religion that neither of us know. We are people of high rank who are related to their fathers, uncles, and tribes, so that you would surrender those wretched renegades to us.
An-Najaashii addressed the Muslims saying, “What is that religion that made you abandon your people’s religion and refuse to embrace our religion?” Ja’afar stood to perform the task for which he had been chosen by mutual consultation immediately before this meeting.
Ja’far stood up slowly and gracefully, looked with appreciation at the hospitable king and said, “O your Majesty, we used to be a people of ignorance. We worshipped idols, ate dead animals, committed great sin, severed family relations, and acted according to the law of the jungle. We used to believe that survival was only for the fittest until Allah sent from among us a Prophet (peace be upon him) who was known for his noble descent, honesty, trustworthiness, and chastity.
He invited us to worship Allah alone and abstain from worshipping stones and idols. He ordered us to speak nothing but the truth and to render back our trusts to those whom they are due.
Moreover, he ordered us to keep our ties of kinship intact, be good to our neighbors, and abstain from what is forbidden. He also ordered us not to commit evil, nor to say false statements, nor to eat up the property of orphans, nor to accuse chaste women of wrong-doing without proof or witness.
Hence, we believed in him and in Allah’s message to him. We worshipped Allah alone. We rejected that which we used to associate with Him as His partners. We allowed as lawful what is halaal and prohibited as unlawful what is haraam.
Consequently, we were harassed and abused by our people, who tried to turn us away from what Allah had sent down to the Prophet (peace be upon him) so that we may return to idol worshiping and the evil and unlawful deeds we used to do.
We were oppressed, abused and straitened in a way that prevented us from the proper worship of Allah. They even tried to force us to turn apostate. Therefore, we fled to your country and asked for asylum to escape oppression and tyranny.
When Ja’far finished his glorious words which were as clear as daylight, An-Najaashii was gripped by compassion and grace. He addressed Ja`far saying, “Do you have a scroll on which you have written the words of your Prophet?” Ja’far replied, “Yes.” An Najaashii ordered, “Read it aloud.” Ja’far recited a number of verses from Surat Maryam in such a slow, sweet, subdued, and captivating voice that it made An-Najaashii and all his bishops cry.
When he wiped his tears he swiftly said to the Quraish delegates, “These words, of what had descended on `lisaa (Jesus), come from the very same source as that of `Iisaa. You are free men in a free land. By Allah, I will never surrender you to them.”
The meeting was over. Allah had helped the Muslims and made their feet firm; whereas the Quraish delegates were bitterly defeated. Yet `Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas was a resourceful, crafty man who could neither accept defeat nor despair easily.
Therefore, no sooner had he returned to their residence than he sat turning the matter over in his mind. Then he addressed his comrade saying, “By Allah, I will go to An-Najaashli tomorrow and I will pluck the Muslims out from this land once and for all.” His comrade replied, “You must not do that, for despite their disobedience, they are still related to us.”
`Amr said, “By Allah, I will tell An-Najaashii that they claim that `Iisaa Ibn Maryam is a slave like the rest of Allah’s slaves.” Thus the web was spun by the shrewd delegate so as to lead the Muslims unawares right into the trap.
The Muslims were put in a fight corner, for if they said that `Iisaa was Allah’s slave, they would incite the king and bishops against them, and if they denied the fact that he was human, then they would turn from their religion.
On the following day, `Amr hastened to meet the king and said, “Your Majesty, those Muslims utter an awful saying against `lisaa.” At once, the bishops were agitated by this short but fatal sentence. They asked the Muslims once again to meet the king so as to clarify their religious standpoint concerning `lisaa.
When the Muslims found out about the new plot, they discussed the possibilities, then agreed to say nothing but the truth as said by the Prophet (peace be upon him), regardless of the consequences. Once again, the audience was held and An-Najaashii started it by asking Ja’far,
“What does your religion say about Iisaa..?”
Ja’far, stood once again like a gleaming lighthouse and said:
“We say what has descended on our Prophet (peace be upon him): he is Allah’s slave, Messenger, His word which He bestowed, and a spirit created by Him. An-Najaashii cried out in assent and said that the same words had been said by `Iisaa to describe himself, but the lines of bishops roared in disapproval.
Nevertheless, the enlightened, believing An-Najaashil declared, “You are free to go now. My land is your sanctuary. Anyone who dares to abuse or mistreat you in any way will be severely punished. He addressed his retinue and pointed towards the Quraish delegation declaring, “Give them back their presents, for I do not want them.
By Allah, Allah did not take a bribe from me when He restored my kingdom; therefore, I will not be bribed against Him!”
After the Quraish delegates had been utterly disgraced, they headed back to Makkah.
The Muslims headed by Ja’far went on with their secure life in Abyssinia. They settled in the “most hospitable land of the most hospitable people’ until Allah gave them permission to return to their Prophet (peace be upon him), who was celebrating with the Muslims the conquest of Khaibar when Ja’afar and the rest of the emigrants to Abyssinia arrived. The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) heart was filled with joy, happiness, and optimism.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) hugged him and said, “I do not know which makes me feel happier, Khaibar’s conquest or Ja’far’s arrival.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions traveled to Makkah to perform the Umrah to make up for the missed Umrah. Then they returned to Al-Madiinah.
Ja’far was overjoyed with the news he heard concerning the heroism and valor of his believing brothers who had fought side by side with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Battles of Badr, Uhud and others.
His eyes filled with tears over the Companions who had been true to their covenant with Allah and had fulfilled their obligations as obedient martyrs. Ja`far craved Paradise more than anything in the world. He awaited impatiently the glorious moment in which he would win martyrdom.
The Battle of Mu’tah, as we have already mentioned, was imminent. Ja’far realized that this battle was his lifetime chance to either achieve a glorious victory for Allah’s religion or win martyrdom in the way of Allah. Therefore, he pleaded with the Prophet (peace be upon him) to let him fight in this battle. Ja’far knew beyond doubt that this battle was neither a picnic nor a limited war, but rather an unprecedented crucial war, for it was against the armies of a vast and powerful empire that excelled the Arabs and Muslims in numbers, equipment, expertise, and finance. He yearned to have a role in it.
Thus, he was the second of the three commanders. The two armies met in combat on a distressful day. Ja’far would have been excused if he had been gripped by terror when he saw the 200,000 warriors. Instead, he was gripped by overflowing exaltation, for he felt urged by the pride of the noble believer and the self-confidence of the hero to fight with his equals.
Again, hardly had the standard touched the sand as it slipped from Zaid lbn Haarithah’s right hand, when Ja’far darted and picked it up and broke through the line of the enemy with incredible fearlessness. It was the fearlessness of a man who was not so much craving victory as martyrdom. When the Roman warriors closed in upon him in an encircling move, his horse restricted his movement, so he dismounted and thrust his sword into his enemies. Then he saw one of them approaching his horse so as to mount it. He did not want this impure disbeliever on his horse’s back, so he thrust his sword into it and killed it.
He immediately broke through the encircled Roman warriors like a hurricane and recited these vehement lines of poetry:
- How wonderful Paradise is.
- I can see it approaching with its sweet and cool drink.
- The time for the punishment of the Romans is drawing near.
- Those unbelievers are not related to us in blood.
- I must fight the Romans whenever I see one of their warriors.
The Roman soldiers were stunned by this warrior who fought like a full-armored army. Confounded by his fearlessness, they closed in upon him in a way that left him no escape, for they were determined to slay him. Instantly, they struck with their swords and cut off his right hand. Swiftly he caught the standard with his left hand before it reached the ground.
When they struck off his left hand, he caught the standard with his upperarms. At the moment, the only thing that really mattered to him was not to let the standard of the Prophet (peace be upon him) touch the ground as long as he was alive. Although his pure body was struck down, his upperarm still hugged the standard. The sounds of its fluttering seemed to have summoned `Abd Allah Ibn Rawaahah, who darted swiftly and gripped it then galloped towards his great destiny!
Thus, Ja`far died an honorable death. He met Allah, the Most Great, the Most High, enveloped in self-sacrifice and heroism.
When Allah the All-Knower, the All-Aware, inspired His Prophet (peace be upon him) with the outcome of the battle and Ja’far’s martyrdom, his tears flowed as he placed his spirit in Allah’s hands. Then he went to his late cousin’s house and called his children. He hugged and kissed them while his tears flowed.
Then he went back to his meeting surrounded by the Companions. Hassaan lbn Thaabit, the poet laureate of Islam, lamented the death of Ja`afar and his Companions saying. At daybreak a man of a blessed nature and graceful face Commanded the believers to death.
- His face was as bright as the moon.
- He was a proud man who descended from Al Haashim.
- He was a valiant man who rushed to help the oppressed.
- He fought until he was martyred.
- And his reward was Paradise where there are lush.
- green gardens.
- Ja’far was loyal and obedient to Muhammad.
- If Islam lost one of Al-Haashim,
- There are still honorable and pious men of them.
- Who are the support and pride of Islam.
- After Hassaan finished reciting his poem, Ka`b Ibn Maalik recited.
- I am griefstricken over the group.
- Who were struck down in succession in the Battle of Mu’tah.
- They strived and fought fiercely and didn’t turn their back.
- Allah sent His blessings on them.
- For they were pious and loyal men.
- Allah made the heavy rains water their bone.
- They stood firm before death in Mu’tah
- in obedience to Allah.
- And for fear of His punishment.
- They were guided by Ja’far’s flag. He was the best Commander.
- He broke through the line of the enemy and was struck down.
- Owing to the fierce and ruthless fight.
- Instantly, the bright moon darkened.
- And the sun eclipsed to lament his death.
At the end, all the poor wept bitterly over the loss of their father, for Ja’afar (May Allah be pleased with him) was the “father of the poor”. Abu Hurairah said, “The most generous man towards the poor was Ja’afar Ibn Abi Taalib.” Indeed, when he was about to die, he wanted to be the most generous, self-denying and devoted martyr. `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar said, “I was with Ja’far in the Battle of Mu’tah and we looked around for him. We found that the enemy had sprayed his body with more than ninety stabs and strikes!”
But those killers did not scratch his invulnerable spirit. No, their swords and spears were the bridge which this glorious martyr crossed to be near Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most High. He was raised to a high station in heaven. His worn-out body was covered all over with the medals of war, namely, the wounds. Now, let us hear what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about him: “I have seen him in Paradise. His head and wings – upper arms – were covered with blood!”