Usama bin Zayd
أسامة بن زيد

The Companions of Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him)

Sahabah: Usama bin Zayd

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Biography & Early life

Usama bin Zayd (also spelled Osama) (Arabic: أسامة بن زيد‎) was the son of Zayd ibn Harithah, Muhammad’s freed slave, who he adopted as his son. His mother was Umm Ayman (Barakah).

Usama ibn Zayd was born in the seventh year before Hijra (615 on the Christian calendar). Because of his father’s status as the adopted son of Muhammad, and his mother’s closeness to Muhammad’s own mother, Usama was considered almost a grandson, and Muhammad treated him the same way he did the sons of his daughter Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn.

During Usama’s youth, Muhammad was presented with an expensive thawb (the long gown the Muslim men wear). After wearing it once to the Friday Jumu’ah Prayer, he gave it to Usamah as a gift. When Usama was ten years old, he asked to join his elders in defending the faith in the Battle of Uhud, but was not allowed. His first experience participating in a battle was when he was seventeen, in the Battle of the Trench. During the Battle of Hunayn, in which the Muslim army was ambushed, Usama was among the few men who continued to fight with Muhammad , helping turn the near-defeat into victory

Muhammad’s Era

He was the youngest person ever to be appointed a general by Muhammad. [citation needed]

Muhammad’s last expedition:

Muhammad started to mobilize a great Army to Syria ‘Byzantine Empire’ in the month of Safar 11 A.H, under the command of Usama ibn Zayd. This was the last expedition in the life of Muhammad. Muhammad had ordered his followers to go with Usama and obey his commands.


His father, Zaid bin Haritha, died in the Battle of Mu’tah, 629. He is considered a martyr (shahid).

Usama’s Role as a General

Although Usama was the son of a freed slave, and only seventeen years of age, he was appointed by Muhammad as the commander of the army sent to Sham. This army was the second Muslim army to encounter the Romans. The Muslims had faced a stalemate with the Byzantines at the Battle of Mu’tah and had lost their leader Zayd ibn Harithah. A follow up defensive expedition had been initiated by Muhammad to safeguard the northern approaches to Madina.

Among the orders he received was “go to where your father was killed”.

Although the army was waiting in Jorf, outside of Madina, set to march to Syria, Usama heard word that Muhammad was ailing, upon which Usama promptly returned to Madina. Muhammad died soon after his arrival.

With the death of Muhammad, certain companions tried to persuade Abu Bakr, who succeeded Muhammad as leader of the Islamic community, to replace Usama as commander of the army with Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, due to his youth, but Abu Bakr reaffirmed the decision of Muhammad and dispatched an expedition under Usama’s leadership. He then requested that Usama allow Umar ibn al-Khattab to stay behind in Madina to help in the administration, and Usamah obliged.

The expedition was successful and it demonstrated the strength and cohesiveness of the Muslims even in the absence of Muhammad. The army reached Sham and became the first Muslim forces to defeat the Romans in battle, thus paving the way for the subsequent conquests of the Syrian and Egyptian regions, both of which were captured during Usama’s lifetime.

Despite his accomplishments in helping defeat the Roman army, he is best known as the person Muhammad admonished for killing a man who had got the best of the Muslims in battle and then when Usama approached him to take off his head, he pronounced the words one officially states to become Muslim.

Thinking this was just an attempt to spare his life, Usama killed him anyway.

When the news of this got back to Muhammad, he asked Usama, “Did you kill him in spite of his professing La ilaha illallah (There is no God but One)?” Usama replied, “O Messenger of Allah! He said it out of fear of our arms.” Muhammad said, “Why did you not cut his heart open to find out whether he had done so sincerely or not?” He continued repeating it until Usama wished he had embraced Islam only that day (so that he could be forgiven for whatever sins he committed before that). (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tayalisi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, al-`Adni, Abu `Awana, al-Tahawi, al-Hakim, and Bayhaqi.)


He had a son, named Muhammad bin Usama.

The Expedition of
Usama bin Zayd

The Expedition of Usama bin Zayd also known as the Army of Usama ibn Zaid to al-Balqa, took place in 11AH of the Islamic calendar, in May 632. Usama ibn Zayd was appointed as the commander of an expeditionary force which was to invade Palestine again (and attack Moab and Darum), on the orders of Muhammad. He set out with 3000 men on the same day Muhammad died, when he reached the destination he attacked the inhabitants, killing many, taking as many captives as he could.


Muhammad invited Usama ibn Zayd (son of Zayd ibn Harithah) to a Mosque and ordered him to act as the commander of an Army that was to invade Palestine, and attack Takhum of al-Balqa (which was in Palestine). Usama ibn Zayd was the son of Zayd ibn Harithah, a slave that Muhammad freed, and a man that was very close to Muhammad. Zayd ibn Haritha was killed in the Battle of Mutah.

In addition to attacking Balqa, he was ordered attack Darum. Some weeks later, Muhammad fell ill, and from his seat (the Minbar) in the Mosque, he ordered that Usama ibn Zayd should lead the expeditionary force. Muhammad also rebuked those that claimed he did not merit such an honour, and rebuked those who claimed he was too young, while the best of Muhammad’s commanders were available.

He was specifically ordered by Muhammad to go to the place where his father and the Muslim commanders under him, had died and: “Attack the people of Ubna early in the morning, and destroy them by fire!”. He also ordered him to take women and children captive, instead of killing them.

Usama visited Muhammad before he went into battle. The next day he set out for his expedition and learnt Muhammad had died on 8 June 632. He was told by Abu Bakr to continue the expedition.

Invasion of Palestine
10 Rules of Abu Bakr

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According to Tabari, before Usamah headed out, Abu Bakr advised Usamah with “10 things”, which were like his rules of war. The tradition about the 10 “things” of Abu Bakr are also mentioned in the Sunni Hadith collection Al-Muwatta.

The tradition mentioned many things, including leaving “monks” alone. Imam Shaffi (founder of the Shaffi school of thought) did not consider the tradition, about the 10 rules of Abu Bakr as authentic, but the same book which claimed he did not consider it authentic, also mentioned in another occasion that Shaffi considered it authentic (or partly authentic), and used it to justify killing monks only if they fought Muslims.

But the same book explains that even if it was authentic, it does not mean that monks can not be killed, and claims that Abu Bakr’s intention (according to Shaffi) was to only temporarily leave the monasteries alone. Shaffi concluded that “monks” are not included in his list of “non combatants”. Abu Yusuf mentioned a counter tradition about the instructions of Abu Bakr, which claimed that Abu Bakr ordered his commanders to lay waste to every village where he did not hear the call to prayer.


Usama headed out with 3000 men, of which 1000 were cavalry soldiers. Abu Bakr accompanied Usama part of the way. Usama had also sent a spy, from which he learned that the inhabitants were still unaware of the imminent approach of the army.

Usama therefore hurried to Ubna, where he launched a surprise attack with the Muslims shouting their way cry: Ya Mansur amit (“O ye, Victory, Kill!”). According to Moshe Gil of Cambridge University, they slaughtered the local population mercilessly, destroying, burning and taking as many captives as they could. At the same time, Usama rode his father’s horse, and killed the one who slew his father in the Battle of Mutah.

Islamic Rrimary Sources


The incident is mentioned in the Sahih Bukhari hadith collection:

“The Prophet appointed Usama as the commander of the troops (to be sent to Syria). The Muslims spoke about Usama (unfavorably).

The Prophet said,

“I have been informed that you spoke about Usama. (Let it be known that) he is the most beloved of all people to me.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:744]

It is also mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:745, Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:552, Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:744 and others.

Historical Sources

The event is also mentioned by the Muslim scholars Ibn Hisham, Waqidi and Tabari.

Tabari said about the event:

“ In the year 11/632, during the month of Muharram,the Messenger of God ordered the people to undertake an expedition to Syria. He put Usamah, the son of his freed slave Zayd b. al-Harithah, incommand over them, ordering him to lead the cavalry into theterritory of al-Balqa’ and al-Darum in the land of Pal-estine.

The people got ready and the first emigrants wentforth all together with him. As the people were preparing for the expedition, the Prophet began to suffer from the sickness bywhich God took him to what honor and compassion He intended for him. [It took place] toward the end of Safar or at the beginning of Rabi` I. [Tabari, Vol 9, Last Years of the Prophet, Pg 163-164]. ”

It is also mentioned by Tabari, that Abu Bakr gave Usamah 10 rules, before he was sent forth and raided the inhabitants:

Then (Abu Bakr) said:

“Oh army, stop and I will order you [to do] ten [things]; learn them from me by heart. You shall not engage in treachery; you shall not act unfaithfully; you shall not engage in deception; you shall not indulge in mutilation; you shall kill neither a young child nor an old man nor a woman; you shall not fell palm trees or burnt them, you shall not cut down [any] fruit-bearing tree; you shall not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel except for food.

You will pass people who occupy themselves in monks’ cells; leave them alone, and leave alone what they busy themselves with. You will come to a people who will bring you vessels in which are varieties of food; if you eat anything from [those dishes], mention the name of God over them. You will meet a people who have shaven the middle of their head and have left around it [a ring of hair] like turbans; tap them lightly with the sword. Go ahead, in God’s name; may God make you perish through wounds and plague!”

According to al-Sari — Shu’ayb — Sayf ; and according to ‘Ubayd-allah — his uncle — Sayf — Hisham b. Urwah- his father: Abu Bakr went out to al-Jurf and followed Usamah and sent him off. He asked Usamah for ‘Umar [b. al-Khattab], which he agreed to. He told Usamah “Do what the Prophet of God ordered you to do: Begin with the Quda’ah country, then go to Abil. Do not fall short in anything that the Apostle of God commanded, but do not hurry because of what not [yet] attained of his injunction.

So Usamah advanced quickly to Dhu al-Marwah and the valley and ended up doing what the Prophet had ordered him to do dispersing horsemen among the Quda’ah tribes and raiding Abil. He took captives and booty, and his completion [of the mission] was within forty days, excepting [the time of] his return.

[Tabari, Vol 10, The conquest of Arabia, Pg 16-17]”


Gil, A history of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 31.

Abu Khalil, Shawqi (1 March 2004). Atlas of the Prophet’s biography: places, nations, landmarks. Dar-us-Salam. p. 249. ISBN 978-9960897714.

Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar (Free Version), p. 303

Gil, A history of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 32.

Gil, A history of Palestine, 634-1099, pp. 31-32.

Tabari, Al (1993), The conquest of Arabia, State University of New York Press, p. 16, ISBN 978-0791410714

Al-Muwatta; Book 21, Number 21.3.10.

Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA, ISBN 1-4289-1039-5

  1. J. Kister. Non-combatants in Muslim Legal Thought, translation of Studies in Early Islam: Lectures delivered in honour of Professor M. J. Kister on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. p. 6. “Regarding monks, two contradictory opinions are attributed to ShÁfi‘Ð.

On one occasion, he accepts the tradition attributed to AbÙ Bakr prohibiting the killing of monks. Their lives are forfeit only if they actively fight against Muslims; but if they assist the enemy in other ways, they are to be punished but not executed. Elsewhere in the same book, ShÁfi‘Ð states that all infidel men without exception must convert to Islam or be killed; all men of the protected religions (ahl al-kitÁb) must pay jizya or be killed.

He emphasizes that this rule applies to monks as well and denies the authenticity of the tradition attributed to AbÙ Bakr, which he himself had accepted on another occasion. Alternatively, he explains that even if the tradition from AbÙ Bakr is authentic, this does not mean that monks may not be killed.

AbÙ Bakr’s intention, according to ShÁfi‘Ð, was that monasteries be left aside temporarily in order to concentrate on more important military targets first. ShÁfi‘Ð thus concludes that monks are not included in the lists of “non-combatants,” and they most definitely may be fought and killed.” External link in |title= (help) (archive)

Joseph Schacht (1959). Origins of Muhammadan jurisprudence. Clarendon Press. p. 145. ISBN 9781597404747. “Abu Bakr instructed one of his commanders to lay waste every village where he did not hear the call to prayer.”

Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma’il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, pp. 163–164, ISBN 978-0887066917 online


Gil, Moshe (1997), A history of Palestine, 634-1099, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521599849

Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The Sealed Nectar (Free Version), Darussalam Publications. Note: This is the free version available on Google Books

Usamah Ibn Zaid

{May Allah be pleased with them both}

Who he was ?

He was from the tribe of Kalb. His father was Zaid Ibn Haarithah bin Shurahbil bin Abduluzza the Prophet’s servant, who preferred the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, over own his father, mother and kin. He was with him when the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stood in front of a large group of Companions saying, “I let you bear witness that Zaid is my son, inheriting from me and I inheriting from him.”

His name remained Zaid Ibn Muhammad until the practice of child adoption was abolished by the Qur’aan. Usaamah is his son. His mother was Umm Aiman, the Prophet’s servant and nurse maid. The one that the noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said about: “Whoever wishded to marry a woman from among the people of paradise should marry Umm Aiman.” She was Baraka bint thalaba, the bondwoman of our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and his nurse after the death of his mother when he was six years old.

Usaamah’s physical appearance made him appear a good for- nothing. Historians and narrators described him as being dark- skinned and snub-nosed. By these two words, not more, did history summarize Usaamah’s physical appearance.

His Childhood

It was God’s will that this child was borne after Islam began to forge a path. As one of the true sons of Islam, he was nurtured from his first days by Islam’s pure nature without experiencing the murkiness of the pagan period. He grew up in a clean environment among to Muslim parents who taught him Islam from is early age.

Muslims had to escape from Mekkah to save themselves from the torture that Quraish was subjecting them to. They had to leave all their money and property to save their lives. Muslims were given permission from Allah to migrate and so they migrated to Madinah.

He migrated to Madinah with his parents and from his early age he wanted to participate in the battles for Allah’s cause. Before the battle of Badr when Muslims were being prepared to attack a caravan belonging to the disbelievers, he bravely asked his father to participate. At that time he was ten years old. Of course, his father refused because of his age.

In the battle of Uhud, a child who was eleven years old entered the battle field carrying a sword taller than himself. Everybody was amazed at that rare bravery and persuaded him to go back home with great difficulty. This child was again Usamah.

He learned to fight with the sword, to fire arrows and all the necessary arts of war. He would sit with his father, who contributed throughout his life in all Islamic battles, and listen to all the details of the battle, the heroic deeds of the companions, how honourable it was to die for the cause of Allah and that would fill him with enthusiasm to participate.

The Prophet’s Love To Him

On the day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet’s Companion who was riding behind him on horseback was that dark- skinned, snub-nosed Usaamah Ibn Zaid.

Among the most victorious days of Islam was the day of the Conquest of Makkah. On that day, on the Prophet’s right and left were Bilaal and Usaamah, two dark-skinned men; however Allah’s word which they carried in their pure, virtuous hearts made them deserving of all kinds of merit and elevated position. And when our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, entered the Kabah (The house of God) to pray only Usamah entered with him.

It has been authentically reported from Usamah that our noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had taken him and Hasan and said: “Oh, Allah I love them, so love them” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

Usaamah Ibn Zaid has been called among the Prophet’s Companions “The Beloved Son of the Beloved”

Usamah the Warrior
During The Battle Of Hunain

That battle occurred right after the conquer of Mekkah, Usamah was sixteen years old then. Muslims were then deluded by their number and power and were about to lose the battle and started to retreat at random when, at that time of total chaos, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, started to call for them to return and fight.

Among the Muslims who remained steadfast was Usamah. He never retreated and stood beside the noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, with Abu bakr, Umar ibn Elkhattab and a number of the prophet’s companions. Muslims regrouped and won the battle, but notice here the strength that a sixteen years old boy had in such a battle field.

With the Roman
(Byzantine) Emperor

Usaamah had not yet reached the age of 20 when the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, ordered him to be head of an army which had among its soldiers Abu Bakr and `Umar. A growl spread around among a group of Muslims who were distressed by this matter and who found it too much for a youth such as Usaamah Ibn Zaid to command an army which included a large number of Muhaajiruun and elderly Ansaar.

Their whispers reached the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him,, so he ascended the pulpit, thanked and praised Allah and then said, “Some people criticized Usaamah’s army command; they criticized his father’s command before him. His father deserved to be the commander as well as Usaamah. He is the most beloved to me next to his father, and I hope he is among the virtuous ones. I request you to treat him well.”

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, died before the army set off towards its destination; however the Prophet had left his wise testament to his Companions: “Fulfill Usaamah’s commission. Fulfill Usaamah’s commission.”

Despite the new circumstances created by the Prophet’s death, Abu Bakr As-siddiiq, the first caliph, insisted upon fulfilling the Prophet’s testament. Abu Bakr, commander of the believers, set out walking in complete humility beside Usamah who was mounted on his horse. Usamah. When Usamah felt uncomfortable that he was riding and Abu Bakr, the caliph, was walking he said: “By Allah, you will ride and I will dismount”.

Abu Bakr said:

”By Allah, you will not dismount, and by Allah I will not ride. It does not harm me to get dust on my feet in Allah cause for an hour” then he, the Caliph, turned to Usamah and said: “would you consider supporting me with Umar and leaving him with me in Al-Madinah”. Usamah accepted. See how great this situation is. How humble the Caliph is. Usaamah’s army set off to its destination; the caliph only requested Usaamah to allow `Umar to stay behind to be with him in Al-Madiinah.

At the same time, the Roman (Byzantine) emperor heard the news of the Prophet’s death and that an army headed by Usaamah Ibn Zaid was attacking the borders of Syria. He could not hide his astonishment and wonder about the strength of the Muslims, whose plans and potential were not affected by the Prophet’s death. Consequently, the Romans abstained from utilizing the Syrian borders as a leaping point upon Islam’s center in the Arabian Peninsula, and thereby their power began to shrink.

Usaamah’s army returned safely without any causalities so that the Muslims said, “We’ve never seen a safer army than Usaamah’s.”

Usamah’s Piety

Usamah’s slave said: Usamah would ride to some property of his in wadil-Qura and he would fast on Mondays and Thursdays on the way, so I said to him: “Do you fast on Mondays and Thursdays while traveling when you have become old and weak, or (he said) you have become frail?”

He replied: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays and he said that the deeds of the people are presented to (Allah) on Mondays and Thursdays” (Reported by Ibn sad, Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

Muhammad ibn Sirin said: The date-palm came to be worth a thousand Dirhams in value, Usamah went to a date-palm and cut it down and removed its Jummar (An edible tuber growing at the upper end of the date-palm trunk) and gave it to his mother to eat. People asked him why he did that although he knew it was worthy a thousand Dirham. He said: ”My mother asked me and there is nothing she asks me which is in my power that I don’t give her.”

The Companions’
Respect For Him

Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab, Commander of the Faithful, sat down to distribute money from the treasury among the Muslims.

It was `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar’s turn, and `Umar gave him his share. Then it was the turn of Usaamah Ibn Zaid. `Umar gave him double of what he gave his son `Abd Allah. As `Umar gave people according to their merit and endeavor, `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar was afraid that his position was not as highly acknowledged as he desired, to be one of the closest to Allah through his obedience, endeavor, piety, and asceticism.

Therefore, he asked his father, “You preferred Usaamah, although I experienced with the Messenger of Allah what he did not.” Umar answered, “Usaamah was more beloved by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, than you were, and his father was more beloved by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, than your father was.

An Unforgettable Lesson

Two years before the Prophet’s death, Usaamah was sent by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to lead a detachment which was meeting some polytheists attacking Islam and its followers. It was the first time for Usaamah to be appointed head of a detachment. He accomplished his duty successfully and victoriously. News of his victory preceded his arrival and the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was indeed glad.

Usaamah said: “When I reached the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the proclamation of good news had already reached him. The Prophet’s face beamed jubilantly. He asked me to sit closer to him and said, “Tell me.” I went on telling and narrating. I mentioned to him that at one point the polytheists were defeated and I could reach a man, at whom I pointed my spear.

The man said, “There is no god but Allah. Nevertheless I pierced and killed him with my lance. The Prophet’s attitude changed. He said, “Woe unto you! How dare you do that when he said, there is no god but Allah. Woe unto you! How dare you do that when he said, there is no god but Allah.” He continued saying that to such an extent that I wished to rid myself of all my deeds and embrace Islam afresh on that day (to have all his sins forgiven).

No, by Allah, I will never fight anyone saying, There is no god but Allah, after what I have heard from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him,.” Usaamah was guided by the wisdom of this lesson throughout his life.

What a wise lesson! A lesson revealing the Prophet’s humanity, his justice, the eminence of his principles, the greatness of his faith and manners. Despite the fact that if was a polytheist warrior who had been killed by Usaamah, the killing was much regretted by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

At the same moment this warrior said, “There is no god but Allah,” he was holding a sword in his right hand, a sword upon which pieces of Muslim flesh were still hanging. He said it to save his soul or to give himself another chance to change his direction or resume fighting.

Nevertheless, because he said it, his blood became inviolate and his life secure and safe at the same moment and for the same reason, whatever his intention or his inward desire may have been. Usaamah understood the lesson fully.

If the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, forbids the killing of a man in such a situation for the reason that he said, “There is no god but Allah,” what about the true believers and true Muslims? Therefore, Usaamah held a neutral position during the period of the civil strife between Imam Aly with his followers on one hand and Mu’aawiyah on the other.

He loved Aly very much and could see the truth on his side. But after having been blamed by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, for the murder of a polytheist who said, “There is no god but Allah,” how could he ever kill a Muslim believing in Allah and His Prophets? Therefore, he sent a message to Aly saying, “If you were in a lion’s jaw, I would love to enter it with you. But I’ve never seen a situation like this before.”

He kept within doors during the whole period of the fighting and war. When some of his companions came to argue with him over his decision, he simply said, “I will never fight anyone saying, there is no god but Allah.”

Once, one cited’ him the verse “And continue fighting them until there is no more persecution and GOD’s Religion prevails.” (2:193). He replied, “Those are the polytheists and we fought them until there wasn’t any persecution and Allah’s religion prevailed.”

His Death

In A.H. 54 Usaamah longed to meet with Allah. He died after reaching seventy-five years of age. On that day the gates of Paradise opened to receive one of the most reverent and pious believers. He was buried at ‘Al-baqi’ in Al-Madinah