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Ja'far b. Abi Talib

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Ja'far b. Abi Talib
Ja'far b. Abi Talib-1.JPG
Personal Information
Full Name Ja'far b. Abi Talib b. 'Abd al-Muttalib
Teknonym Abu 'Abd Allah, Abu l-Masakin
Epithet Ja'far al-Tayyar, Dhu l-janahayn
Lineage Quraysh
Well-Known Relatives Holy Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a) (brother), Abu Talib (father)
Birth circa 590 C.E.
Place of Birth Mecca
Muhajir/Ansar Muhajir
Place(s) of Residence Mecca, Abyssinia, Medina
Martyrdom Jumada I, 8/September, 629
Cause of Martyrdom Martyred in the Battle of Muta
Burial Place Jordan
Religious Information
Presence at Ghazwas Battle of Muta
Migration to Abyssinia and Medina
Notable Roles The leader of Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia, Commander of the Army of Islam in the Battle of Muta

Jaʿfar b. Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: جَعفَر بن اَبي طالِب , b. circa 590 C.E. - d. 8/629) also known as Jaʿfar al-Ṭayyār (جَعفَر الطَيّار) (the flying Ja'far) and Dhu l-Janāḥayn (ذو الجَناحَین) (the one with two wings) was a cousin and a companion to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the older brother to Imam 'Ali (a).

He led a group of Muslims to take refuge in Abyssinia. After his return, the Prophet (s) taught him a prayer, which is known as the Prayer of Ja'far al-Tayyar.

He was appointed as the commander of the Muslim Army in the Battle of Muta, in which he was later martyred. His tomb is in Jordan.

Birth and Genealogy

It is said that Ja'far was born twenty years before the Prophet (s) started his mission. He belonged to the Banu Hashim clan in the Quraysh tribe. His father, Abu Talib, was a notable Qurayshi figure and his mother was Fatima bt. Asad. His older brothers were Talib and 'Aqil and his younger brother was 'Ali (a). It is said that these four brothers were 10 years apart.

Family tree of the Prophet (s)
400 CE
'Abd al-'Uzza
'Abd Manaf
430 CE
'Abd al-Dar
464 CE
'Abd Shams
'Abd al-Muttalib
497 CE
Khadija (a)
'Abd Allah
b. 545 CE
Abu Talib
Muhammad (s)
b. 571 CE
'Ali (a)
b. 599 CE
Fatima (a)
'Abd Allah
Al-Hasan (a)
b. 625 CE
Al-Husayn (a)
b. 626 CE

Kunyas and Titles

Ja'far's kunya was Abu 'Abd Allah, because he had a son called 'Abd Allah. His other Kunya was Abu l-Masakin (the father of the poor), because he supported and helped the poor. After his death by the loss of his two hands, he was called Tayyar (the flying one) and Dhu l-Janahayn (the one with two wings).

It is reported that the Prophet (s) said, "One night I entered the heavens and saw that Ja'far was flying with the angels."[1] There is a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a) to the effect that God honors Ja'far for four things he avoided during Jahiliyya (the age of ignorance before Islam). It was aked, "What are they?" He answered, "Ja'far avoided drinking wine, lying, fornication, and idolatory." The Prophet (s) prayed for him and said, "May God give you two wings, with which to fly in the company of the angels."[2]

He is also called "Dhu l-Hijratayan" (the one who migrated twice), as he migrated once to Abyssinia and then to Medina.


Ja'far was married to Asma' bt. 'Umays b. Nu'man. Ibn 'Inaba enumerates eight children for them, including 'Abd Allah, 'Awn, Muhammad, and Ahmad.

His Guardianship by His Uncle

When his father became very destitute, Ja'far was given to the care of his uncle 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib. Ja'far lived with his uncle until he accepted Islam and became independent.

His Conversion to Islam

He was the second man who accepted Islam, his brother 'Ali (a) being the first. Seeing that his son, 'Ali (a), was praying with the Prophet Muhammad (s), Abu Talib told Ja'far to pray on the left side of the Prophet.[3] Some have also said that he was the 26th or the 32nd man to believe in Islam. Ibn Sa'd reports that he accepted Islam before the Prophet (s) entered Bayt Arqam.[4]

His Rank

According to the Islamic sources, Ja'far had a high rank.

It is reported that the Prophet (s) said, "People are created from different trees. Ja'far and I are created from the same tree, and we have the same substance."[5] In another hadith, he said, "Ja'far, you are like me in appearance and behavior."[6] This similarity was so much that sometimes people greeted Ja'far by saying, "Assalamu Alaykum, O the messenger of God!" Ja'far replied,"I am not the messenger of God, but Ja'far."[7]

The Prophet (s) liked him very much. He donated a portion of booty from the Battle of Badr to Ja'far, although Ja'far had not attended it. Returning from the Battle of Khaybar, the Prophet (s) met Ja'far, who had just come from Abyssinia, hugged him, and kissed the point between his eyes, saying,"I don't know what to celebrate: meeting Ja'far or our triumph in Khaybar?" Then, he taught him a prayer, which is known as the Prayer of Ja'far al-Tayyar.

Imam 'Ali (a) liked him so much that 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far said, "Whenever I wanted something from my uncle, I abjured him by the name of my father, Ja'far, and he accepted."[8]


Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani says, "Ja'far b. Abi Talib was a powerful orator, who was also generous, brave, and mystical." Ibn Qudama says that he was tolerant and humble.[9] Al-Dhahabi says that Ja'far b. Abi Talib was high-ranking, the master of the martyrs and soldiers.[10]

Qur'anic Verses on Ja'far

One of Ja'far's honors is that some of the Qur'anic verses refer to him. In his interpretation of Qur'an 33:23 ("Of the believers are men who are true to that which they covenanted with Allah. Some of them have paid their vow by death (in battle), and some of them are still are waiting"), 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi reports a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a) to the effect that the former group includes Hamza and Ja'far.[11] Al-Qummi also believes that the Qur'an 22:39 ("Permission is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged") refers to Imam 'Ali (a), Hamza, and Ja'far.[12]

Immigration to Abyssinia

Five years after the Prophet (s) started his mission (614 C.E.), as a consequence of being annoyed by pagans of Mecca, and upon a commandment from the Prophet (s), a group of Muslims migrated from Mecca to Abyssinia to take refuge from persecution. Ja'far led the group, which was composed of 82 men and some women and children. The Prophet (s) said to these people, "Take refuge in Abyssinia. Their king is a righteous man, who does not wrong anyone. Travel there until God makes an opening for Muslims."[13]

Upon learning about the entrance of the Muslim group, Negus called them to the court. Ja'far b. Abi Talib said to Negus, "I will tell you what I have heard from my leader, the Prophet (s)." Then as a spokesperson of Islam, he said, "A prophet has emerged among us to call us to avoid idolatory, usury, wronging others, unjust bloodshed, adultery, and fornication. He has invited us to prayer, zakat (charity), justice and kindness to neighbors." Then, Negus asked him, "Do you have anything from what the Prophet (s) has brought you from God?" Ja'far read verses from the Sura 19 (Maryam) which was about the story of Mary and Jesus (a). Negus wept after he heard these verses.[14] Meccan unbelievers had tried to persuade Negus with gifts to reject the Muslim group; but he refused their request. Muslims could live safely in that land.

Muslims stayed in Abyssinia until the year 6/628. Just before the Battle of Khaybar, the Prophet (s) asked Negus to return the Muslims. He accepted, embraced Islam, and sent Ja'far and others, including 'Amr b. Umayya al-Damri, in two ships to Medina.

Ja'far as the Commander of the Islamic Army

After the Battle of Khaybar and Ja'far's return from Abyssinia, the Prophet (s) appointed him as the commander of the Islamic Army in Jumada I of the year 8/629. He went to war against the Byzantine Army in Muta. He said, "If Ja'far is killed, Zayd b. Haritha will take over the commandment; and if he is killed, 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha will replace him." Some believe that Zayd b. Haritha was the first commander and Ja'far was the second.


The grave of Ja'far b. Abi Talib, Jordan

Ja'far was killed in the Battle of Muta in Jumada I of the year 8/629. Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani, believes that Ja'far was the first child of Abu Talib to be martyred for Islam.[15] Al-Tabari says, "After Zayd martyred, Ja'far took over the commandment of war. When he saw that he was surrounded by the enemy, he got off from his horse and cut off its legs [so that it would not fall into the hands of the enemy]. Then he fought until his hands were cut off and he died."[16] It is mostly believed that he was then 41 years old and was the tenth person to die in this battle.

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports that after Ja'far's martyrdom, the Prophet (s) visited his family and wept and hugged Ja'far's children and condoled them. It is reported that Asma' bt. 'Umays and Ka'b b. Malik composed dirges for Ja'far.


Ja'far and other Muslims who were martyred in that battle were buried in Mazar, near Muta, Jordan. Muslims honor his grave. Ja'far, 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha and Zayd b. Haritha were buried in one tomb, which was then hidden.


  1. Al-Majlisi, Vol.22, P. 277
  2. Al-Saduq, Vol.2, P.588
  3. Ibn Athir, Vol.1, P.287
  4. Ibn Sa'd, Vol.4, P.34
  5. Isfahani, P.10
  6. Al-Majlisi, Vol.22, P.276
  7. Al-Amin al-'Amili, Vol.4, P.125
  8. Al-Amin al-'Amili, Vol.4, P.126
  9. Ibn Qudama, P.115
  10. Al-Dhahabi, Vol.1, P.206
  11. Al-Qummi, Vol.2, P.188
  12. Al-Qummi, Vol.2, P.84
  13. Al-Majlisi, Vol.18, P.412
  14. Al-Majlisi, Vol.18, P.415
  15. al-Isfahani, P.3
  16. Al-Tabari, Vol.2, P.321