Khubayb Radhi-Allaahu ‘Anhu was a very sincere, knowledgeable, loving and brave companion of Allaah’s Messenger, Muĥammad Ŝall-Allaahu ‘‘Alayhi Wa Sallam.
He was a good example of the kind of selfless, devoted, principled and peaceful personalities Prophet Muĥammad Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam was developing and preparing through his Islamic mission. Amazingly, these personalities par-excellence were being produced out of the barbaric, savage society of Arabia. The contrast of the two types of people can be best seen through the last days of Khubayb’s life.
About three years after Hijrah, some Makkan families wanted to somehow capture certain Muslims so that they can be murdered. The Makkans wanted to commit these murders in order to avenge the deaths of their family members who were killed in the battles Makkans themselves had waged against Muslims of Madeenah. They had offered big rewards for any one who brought those Muslims dead or alive. If the targeted Muslims were brought alive, Makkans could take revenge by killing the captives personally. If they could not be captured alive, the Makkan could at least take out their anger on the dead bodies by acts like drinking wine using Muslims’ skulls as their drinking cups. Nothing less would fulfill their vengeance for their relatives who died in the battle they themselves had waged against the peaceful Islamic society of Madeenah.
The Makkan offers of huge rewards enticed people of Banoo Lihyaan to capture the Muslims and claim the rewards by delivering them to the Makkans. For this purpose, they hatched a scheme. They wanted to use Muslims’ sincere spirit of sharing the teachings of Islam with others to capture them. They would request the Prophet Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam to send knowledgeable Muslims with them for educating them. Once the Muslims would be there in their territory, they would capture them and sell them to Makkans. Because Banoo Lihyaan were known for their animosity to Islam and the Muslims, it was not likely that the Muslim missionaries would be sent to their area without appropriate protection. Hence, on the promise of sharing the reward, they contrived with another clan who would send their own people with that request to the Prophet Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. With this understanding, ‘Adhal and Qaarah clans sent a delegation of seven persons to the prophet Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam as seekers of truth and requested him to send a few knowledgeable Muslims to their tribe for Islamic education and propagation because their tribe is inclined towards accepting the faith. The Prophet Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam accepted their request and sent seven of his companions to help the requestors and their clans learn Islam. One of those seven was Khubayb.
When the Muslim missionaries approached the tribal area of their hosts, two of the requesters rode ahead speedily and informed Banoo Liĥyaan about the arrival of the Muslims preachers. Two hundred of their armed men and archers sat in ambush to attack the innocent preachers who were not even armed except for their sheathed swords as per the Arab tradition of not going on a journey without a sword. As soon as the Muslims reached the place of ambush, they were suddenly attacked. Seven Muslims, surrounded by 100 archers and another 100 well-armed men, tried to defend themselves against the attack and to avoid capture. Four of the seven were killed, remaining three including Khubayb were still fighting. Banoo Lihyaan saw the bravery of the ill-equipped Muslims and figured that the Muslims would die fighting instead of being captured. To capture them alive for a bigger reward, they played another trick. They stopped the attack and swore by God that there had been some misunderstanding and that they did not mean any ill. They apologized for the misunderstanding and requested them to put their swords away. Muslims being sincere and honest believed in their assurances and gave up the fight. As soon as they stopped, they were captured, tied, put on the camels and taken to Makkah for the reward. One of them protested, so he was also killed. Khubayb and Zayd, the only two survivors out of seven, were sold in Makkah.
Khubayb was bought by the sons of Haarith to be killed in revenge of their father who was killed when he attacked the Muslims in Badr.
Khubayb was kept imprisoned in the Haarith family home. Just about a day or less before he was to be killed, he decided to shave and clean up to meet his Lord, Allaah SWT, in a clean form. For that purpose, he requested his captors to provide him a razor, which they did. When he had an open, sharp razor in his hand, the captor’s young son went to Khubayb and started playing with him. Lovingly, Khubayb picked him and put him in his lap. When the lady of the house saw her son sitting on the lap of the prisoner, Khubayb, with an open sharp razor in his hand. She got worried, terrified and distressed.
An ordinary person would have used this opportunity to use the child as hostage to gain his freedom. He could have easily justified to exchange the child for freedom because of all the deceit and cheating through which he was captured. No fair non-Muslim would have blamed him for doing that. But Khubayb was not an ordinary person. He was a sincere Muslim. He did not want to use an innocent child to gain his freedom from the vicious people of the child’s family and society. He knew that his faith, Islam, and his leader Prophet Muĥammad Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam has taught kindness to women and children and that they would not allow him such an act. So he did not. He assured the woman to be calm and told her that Islam does not allow him to harm a child for any purpose. So he calmly handed over the child to the lady.
Soon after, Khubayb was taken in shackles to the place that was announced for his killing. A huge crowd had gathered to watch the terrorism against an innocent man. Khubayb’s composure and patience was astounding. He requested the captors to allow him to pray two Raka’at to his Lord before dying, which they did allow. He offered his prayer to Allaah SWT calmly and devotedly but did not prolong it. You can imagine the sweetness of the devotion and the contentment which would have ensued from that loving communication that took place in the last prayer from Khubayb’s heart to his Lord, just before meeting his Lord. Who would ever want to get out of that close communion with Allaah SWT! But Khubayb made it short so that the persecutors might not assume that the prayer was being prolonged to delay death. And he made this fact known to them after he finished his prayer.
Khubayb was tied to a tree /wooden cross. 40 lancers were surrounding him with their shining, sharp spears. A person offered him freedom if he would renounce Islam. Khubayb told them that a life without Islam is not worth living. At this, all 40 spears were poked in his body to torture him but not deep enough to kill him. The crowd was clapping. Even in those excruciating moments, he recited an extempore poem which included stanzas to the effect:
“They want me to get freedom by renouncing Islam, while dying is easier for me than disbelieving. Tears are flooding my eyes but I am not going to complain or be impatient. I am not going to cry or to show weakness to the enemies because I am departing to God. When I am dying for Islam, I do not care how I fall dead. I hope God will bless each piece of my flesh and limb of my body being cut out.”
Aboo Sufyaan remarked, “Would you not wish that Muĥammad be here in your place, while you attain freedom’. Khubayb responded, “By God, I do not like even to see a thorn prick Muĥammad Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam while I am safe and secure in my family.” At this response, his limbs were dismembered and he was tortured to death.
Khubayb’s sacrifice for the sake of his faith did not go in vain. In addition to the reward form Allaah SWT, it opened the hearts of some of the people who witnessed the sincerity of his faith in the face of the most horrendous persecution. Sa‘eed Bin ‘Aamir, one of the great companions, was one of those who were brought to the truth of Islam by Khubayb’s patience and steadfastness. Even the woman of the Haarith family who was worried about her child’s safety had this to say about Khubayb:
"By Allaah, I had never seen a better captive than Khubayb. By Allaah, one day I saw him eating from a bunch of grapes in his hand while he was fettered with iron chains and (at that time) there was no fruit in Makkah." She used to say," It was food Allaah had provided Khubayb with."
The story of Khubayb teaches us many lessons such as:
- The enemies of Islam have always used dirty tricks, cheating, terrorism and extreme cruelty to fight against Islam and the Muslims. Despite all the vicious terrorism that they encounter, Muslims always stand by their noble principles and do not compromise on their decency even to save themselves from terrorism.
- The Muslims withstand all the terrorism that is inflicted on them with bravery, steadfastness and without showing any weakness. They fight back bravely when war is imposed on them, but they never let the innocent be victimized.
- Islam was spread by winning the heart of people through the personal excellence of the Muslims, their uncompromising stance and their perseverance for their faith.
- Despite the lapse of 1400 years and immense progress on material side, the anti Islamic forces of today are as vicious and barbaric as they were at the time of the Prophet Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. Serb, American, Israeli, and Russian atrocities on Muslims are as vicious as Makkan atrocities on Khubayb and others. With time, the tools change, but the human psychology always remains the same. That is why Islamic teachings are permanent and valid for all the time to come. It is only Islam that can bring peace to the world, as it did at the time of the Prophet Ŝall-Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam.
December 18, 1999