al-Sawād al-A’dham: Usāmah Ibn Zaid Ibn Ḥārithah

Usāmah Ibn Zaid Ibn Ḥārithah

“The beloved, son of the beloved.”

Usāmah Ibn Zayd Ibn Ḥārithah Ibn Sharāhīl al-Kalbī is the son of Zayd Ibn Hārithah, the Prophet’s freed slave and adopted son, and Umm Ayman, the Prophet’s freed slave and “mother after (his) mother”. He was born into Islam and was eighteen or twenty years old when the Prophet died. cUmar would honor him and treat him with deference, and gave preference to him, with respect to gifts, over his own son, cAbdullāh Ibn cUmar.

He removed himself from the fitnah after the murder of cUthmān and died in the latter portion of Mucāwiyah’s, may Allāh be pleased with him, khilāfah. He lived in Mizzāh, one of the districts of Damascus, Wādiy al-Qurrāh, and Madīnah where he died in the year fifty-three A.H.

Imām Dhahabī writes, “He was extremely black [in complexion], amiable, shrewd, and courageous. The Prophet raised him and loved him immensely. He was the son of the nurse of the Prophet , Umm Ayman, and his father was white[1]. The Prophet  was extremely happy at the statement of Mujaẓẓiẓ al-Mudlijīyyu: Certainly, these feet are related.”

Usāmah Ibn Ẓayd narrates that the Prophet used to take him and al-Ḥasan and say, “O Allāh, love them for, indeed, I love them.”

Ibn cUmar relates that the Prophet deputed a detachment and put Usāmah ibn Ẓayd over them. Some of the people disapproved of his leadership, so the Prophet said, “If you disapprove of his leadership, you disapproved of the leadership of his father before. By Allāh, [his father] was qualified to lead and was the most beloved of people to me, and this one [Usāmah] is the most beloved of people to me after him.”

cĀisha relates that the Messenger of Allāh came to see her once and was so happy that the features of his face were shining. He enquired, “Did you hear what al-Mudlijīyyu said to Ẓayd and Usāmah [when he saw their feet]? Certainly, these feet are related.”

cAbdullāh ibn Dinār reports that Ibn cUmar was in the masjid once when he saw a man in a corner of the masjid whose clothes were trailing on the ground. He asked, “Who is this? If only he were near me [so I could advise him].” Someone said, “O Abū cAbdur-Raḥmān, don’t you recognize this person? This is Muḥammad, the son of Usāmah.” At this, Ibn cUmar put his head down and struck the earth with his hand. After a while he said, “If the Messenger of Allāh saw him he would have loved him.”


[1] Imām Al-Dhahabī writes in Sīyar Aclām al-Nublā:

‭  ‬ثم‭ ‬إن‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬قالت‭ ‬فلان‭ ‬أبيض‭ ‬فإنهم‭ ‬يريدون‭ ‬الحنطي‭ ‬اللون‭ ‬بحلية‭ ‬سوداء‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬كان‭ ‬في‭ ‬لون‭ ‬أهل‭ ‬الهند‭ ‬قالوا‭ ‬أسمر‭ ‬و‭ ‬آدم‭ ‬و‭ ‬إن‭ ‬كان‭ ‬في‭ ‬سواد‭ ‬التكرور‭ ‬قالوا‭ ‬أسود‭ ‬و‭ ‬كذا‭ ‬كل‭ ‬من‭ ‬غلب‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬السواد‭ ‬قالوا‭ ‬أسود‭ ‬أو‭ ‬شديد‭ ‬الأدمة‭ ‬و‭ ‬من‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬قوله‭ ‬صلى‭ ‬الله‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬و‭ ‬سلم‭ ‬بعثت‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الأحمر‭ ‬و‭ ‬الأسود‭ ‬فمعنى‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬أن‭ ‬بني‭ ‬آدم‭ ‬لا‭ ‬ينفكون‭ ‬عن‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬الأمرين‭ ‬و‭ ‬كل‭ ‬لون‭ ‬بهذا‭ ‬الإعتبار‭ ‬يدور‭ ‬بين‭ ‬السواد‭ ‬و‭ ‬البياض‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الحمرة

 “When the Arab says,’ So-and-so is abyaḍ (white),’ they mean a wheatish color embellished with black. If one were the complexion of the people of Hind (India) they would say, ‘Asmar and ādam (brown).’ and if they were black like the people of Takrūr (West Africa) they would say, ‘Aswad (black).’ Likewise, those who were overwhelmingly black would be called, ‘Aswad (black) or shadīd al-udmah (extremely brown).’ An example of this is his statement, ‘I was sent to the aḥmar and the aswad,’[Muslim #521] meaning that the children of Ādam are not free of one of these two. With this in mind, every complexion fluctuates between aswad, and biyāḍ, which is ḥumrah (red).” (2:168-169 of the Muassas al-Risālah print)

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