The Covenants of Aqabah – Part 1

وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ

After the prophet spoke with the six of the Banu Khazraj at Aqabah (in Mina), they returned to Yathrib and began spreading the message of Islam. And for Hajj the next year – the 11th year of the dawah – 12 people came back as converts. And although this was still small, this was actually the largest group of Muslims outside of Mecca. And ten of those converts were from the Khazraj and two were from the Aws, and they met with the prophet again at Aqabah and here the first formal conversion and oath took place. Note: for the first time the Aws and the Khazraj seemed to be collaborating and forgetting their decade long tribal rivalry, all under the banner of Islam. However there is still a significant divide, as most of the converts are from the Khazraj and this would take many more years to fully overcome.

And Ubadah ibn As-Saamit (RA) narrates: ‘I was of those who took the first Oath of Aqabah. And it was called the Oath of the Women.’ Why was it called this? This oath had no political clauses and was simply an oath of theology and faith. This was unlike the next oath, which would have political connotations and would be an oath of support. And so this was like one of the oaths that the prophet would take from women when he converted them, as he would only ever ask them to live moral and righteous lives and worship Allah, and so it was dubbed the Oath of the Women.

Now these converts requested some help in learning Islam, as they had no one to teach them in Yathrib. And so the prophet sent Musab ibn Umair (RA), and in fact he was so strong of imaan and such an excellent ambassador of Islam that within a few weeks of him arriving at Yathrib 40 people had converted. And therefore on learning this, the prophet told them that they may establish juma’ salah, which the Meccan Muslims themselves could not do as they were banned from praying publicly. And so the very first Friday prayer took place in Yathrib, in the house of As’ad ibn Zurarah (RA) (who was actually the one housing Musab ibn Umair) without even the prophet Muhammad (SAW) in attendance. And we gain some fiqq benefits from this incident, as some branches of Islam use this to claim that there must be at least 40 people for juma’ salah to take place, however many others claim that there is a minimum of only 3 and some say there just needs to be a large unspecified group.

Eventually it came to the point where every sub-tribe of the Aws and the Khazraj had at least one Muslim family. And it was the conversion of two people in particular – Usayd ibn Hudayr and Sa’ad ibn Muadh (RA) – that led to mass conversion, as these two were the up and coming leaders of the Banu Abdul-Ashhal, which were one of the sub-tribes of the Aws. And these two went on to be Islamic monoliths of their own right. Usayd ibn Hudayr would see lights come down to him when he used to recite the Quran, and he asked the prophet what they were and he told him that they were the angels. And when Sa’ad ibn Muadh died the very throne of Allah shook out of anger that someone had killed him, showing how good of a Muslim he was.

So Sa’ad ibn Muadh was speaking to Usayd ibn Hudayr: ‘This new religion has come to our city and my cousin As’ad is housing the man who is spreading the faith. Because he is my cousin I feel awkward going. Why don’t you go and expel this man from our city?’

And so Usayd picked up his spear and went to the house of As’ad ibn Zurarah, and when he arrived he interrogated Musab: ‘Why have you come to our land? Have you come to brainwash those of us who do not have strong intellect? To take our women and children away from our ways and to convert them to the ways of this new prophet of yours? Go back to where you came from if you value your life!’

However Musab responded calmly: ‘Why don’t you sit and listen to what I have to say? If you find it agreeable then it is good, but if you don’t then I’ll stop.’ Because of Musab’s calmness Usayd cooled and found this to be a very reasonable request, and he sat and listened to his dawah. And very quickly his heart opened to Islam, and he converted there and then in the house of As’ad. And then he turned so Musab and said, ‘I have a person who has sent me. If you can convince him of this, then you will have no opposition.’

‘Go send him to me.’

So Usayd returned to Sa’ad, who immediately noted, ‘This is not the same man who has left us.’ And then he asked Usayd directly, ‘Did you succeed?’

Usayd responded, ‘I tried talking to them but… why don’t you try? And it has reached me that there is a tribe who is planning to kill As’ad because he is housing Musab, and also because he is your cousin and you are not doing anything.’ Obviously here Usayd was trying to spur Sa’ad to going to the house of As’ad himself, and it worked as Sa’ad picked up his weapons and marched off to expel Musab.

When he arrived he declared, ‘O As’ad, had you not been my cousin, these weapons would not be hanging at my side (i.e. he would be using them to attack him). But get rid of this guest of yours and tell him to leave our land and stop spreading his pollution amongst us.’

However Musab intervened and said the same thing as before, ‘At least listen to what I have to say. And if you find it agreeable then good, but if you don’t then I will stop.’ And this was a reasonable request so Sa’ad agreed, and therefore Musab began to recite Surah Al-Ghafir. And the miracle of the Quran completely changed Sa’ad, and – just like Usayd – within minutes he asked, ‘How do I convert?’ And so Sa’ad ibn Muadh as well converted to the faith, and because of these two conversions that the entire sub-tribe of the Abdul-Ashhal instantaneously converted to Islam.

That is, except for one man. And this was a man named Usayreen, who was the only person to remain a pagan, all the way until the battle of Uhud. And on that morning he decided to convert and came ready to fight in the battle, however his people said, ‘O Usayreen, we have no need of you.’

Usayreen replied, ‘I am here to fight.’

‘Are you fighting out of tribal loyalty or out of love for Allah and his messenger?’

‘I am now a Muslim and have converted, and I want to fight for the sake of Islam.’

So they took him to the prophet who converted him, and so he became a Muslim after Fajr Salah however he did not make it to Zuhr Salah, as he died in the battle. And the prophet said about him, ‘He did very little, but he was rewarded greatly and he is of the people of Jannah.’ And thus he was the only sahabi to enter Jannah without praying a single rakah of salah.

Now in a year Musab ibn Umair managed to convert a great number of people. And next year – in the 12th year of the dawah – 75 Muslims came for Hajj, with an unknown but much greater number back in Yathrib. And in total this number began rivalling that of the number of converts in Mecca. And the speed at which the people of Yathrib came into the fold of Islam, while those of the Quraish were so stubborn for so long was astounding, and we know that this was mainly because the elders of the Yathrib Arabs had died in the Battle of Bu’ath, leaving a younger, more open generation. And as well these Arabs were Qahtaani, who were essentially from Yemen and a completely different branch from the Quraish. And so the prophet once said, ‘The people of Yemen are the softest in their hearts and the gentlest in their chests.’ And also: ‘Imaan is Yemeni and wisdom is Yemenite.’

And so the prophet said to these people who came for Hajj, ‘We will meet on the last night of the Hajj before everybody returns home, before the Fajr salah by a few hours in the valley next to Aqabah.’ And this was for another, second covenant, but this time with many more political ramifications. 


Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 025