Usama b. Zayd's Army

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From wikishia

Usāma b. Zayd's Army (Arabic: جيش أسامة بن زيد) was the last army prepared by the order of Prophet Muhammad (s) to battle against the Romans. Because the army was led by Usama b. Zayd it became known as Jaysh Usama (Arabic: جيش أسامة) (the army of Usama b. Zayd). As a number of senior companions of Prophet Muhammad (s) defied his command to send soldiers to battle, this army did not set out to face the enemy before the demise of Prophet (s). Shi'ite Muslims believe, Prophet Muhammad (s) had some purposes other than merely sending an army to war which were related to the incidents after the demise of the Prophet (s) and caliphate.

Circumstances before Preparation of the Army

When Prophet Muhammad (s) ordered Usama to prepare an army, Muslims' community was experiencing special situation:

  • According to historical reports, Prophet Muhammad (s) told his close companions about his imminent demise. As reported from 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, Prophet Muhammad (s) was aware of his demise a month earlier.[1]
  • Emergence of those who claimed to be prophet, was another incident in the last days of Prophet's (s) life.[2] However, the Prophet (s) did not send troops to fight with these phony prophets; rather, he ordered the army to set out for Levant (Syria).

Purposes

It is said the first purpose of Prophet Muhammad (s) in sending Usama's army was to compensate the defeat of Muslims in the Battle of Muta in which three companions of Prophet Muhammad (s), Ja'far b. Abi Talib, 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha and Zayd b. Haritha (Usama's father) were martyred. It can be said that Usama was chosen as the commander of Muslims' army because of martyrdom of his father in that battle.

On the other hand, sending such army by Prophet Muhammad (s) in the last days of his life had other reasons as well, including keeping the companions who were seeking caliphate away from Medina.[3]

Forming the Army

Appointment of Usama as the Commander of Army

Main article: Usama b. Zayd

Prophet Muhammad (s) appointed Usama b. Zayd as the commander of Muslims' army. His father, Zayd b. Haritha was a slave freed by Prophet (s) and he was among the first ones who converted to Islam, as a result Zayd and his son, Usama were called Mawali (freed servants) of Prophet (s). As at the time of the demise of the Prophet (s) Usama was 19 years old which indicates that he probably was born around the fourth year after Bi'that (613 CE).[4] The teknonym of Usama were Abu Yazid and Abu Kharija; probably Abu Yazid was Tashif (mispronunciation) of Abu Zayd.[5]

Oppositions

When Usama was appointed as the commander of army, some companions showed their disapproval.[6] Al-Tabari[7] has reported from Ibn 'Abbas that hypocrites complained about the decision. In historical reports it is mentioned that 'Ayyash b. Abi Rabi'a al-Makhzumi was among the oppositions.[8] Al-Shaykh al-Mufid even mentioned that some Muslims disobeyed the order and Prophet Muhammad (s) denounced them; it is said Abu Bakr and 'Umar b. al-Khattab were among them.[9]

The reason of their disagreement was the young age of Usama, according to different historical reports he was about, 17,[10] 18,[11] 19 or at most 21.[12] They told Prophet Muhammad (s): Do you appoint a young boy as our commander?[13]

The Time of Preparation of the Army

Prophet Muhammad (s) ordered Muslims to prepare an army in the last days of Muharram[14] or Safar in 11/632 to face Romans army. Then he chose Usama b. Zayd as the commander of the army; like his father, Zayd, who was the commander of Muslims' army in the Battle of Muta in 8/629 where he was martyred and Muslims were defeated. Usama set up a camp in a place close to Medina called al-Jurf and Muslim troops joined him.[15]

The Number of Soldiers and the Destination

There are different reports on the number of Usama's army, it is said his troops were 700[16] to 4000[17] and even 12000.[18] It is said the number of troops in the time of Abu Bakr was three thousands.[19]

As stated in historical reports, the destination of the army was Balqa' and Darum in Palestine.[20]

Declaration

Muhajirun (the Emigrants) were the majority of troops of Usama's army. Ibn Ishaq said: "All the early Emigrants joined Usama's army.[21] This statement is approved by Al-Waqidi and he added that no one from Muhajirun stayed in Medina as they all joined Usama's army."[22] Some reports stated that the notable figures of Muhajirun and Ansar were asked to join the army as well.[23]

However, the names of some of those who were asked to join the army were cited in historical sources including Abu Bakr,[24] 'Umar b. al-Khattab[25] and Abu 'Ubayda al-Jarrah.[26] Ibn Kathir, a recent historian excluded the name of Abu Bakr from those who were called to join the army. But this exclusion was not because of historical report, but as he supposed Abu Bakr was in charge of saying prayers instead of Prophet Muhammad (s) in Medina, he could not have been asked to join the army.[27]

The Duty

Prophet Muhammad (s) gave two duties to Usama's army: one was to prepare the army rapidity and the other one was to plan a surprise attack against the Romans. According to historical sources, Prophet Muhammad (s) ordered the army to be prepare quickly for the battle and he told Usama: "Attack the enemies at dawn ... and move quickly to reach the enemies faster than the news."[28]

It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (s) disagreed with some requests like Umm Ayman's to delay the launch of the army until Prophet (s) gets better.[29] Prophet (s) constantly said: "Execute the order and set out Usama's army quickly."[30]

Disobedience in Joining the Army

Despite Prophet Muhammad's (s) order in hasty preparation of army, some not only did not prepare the army in Prophet's life, but they also delayed it for a month after his demise. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid described the situation and mentioned disobedience of Abu Bakr and 'Umar b. al-Khattab: "Prophet Muhammad (s) ordered Abu Bakr and 'Umar b. al-Khattab to join Usama's army but they refused and disobeyed; besides Prophet (s) was not aware of that. When he realized that Aisha and Hafsa, Prophet's wives, were trying that their fathers be chosen as the Imam (someone who leads the prayer) of congregational prayer in Medina, Prophet (s) noticed their absence in the army."[31]

Return of Usama b. Zayd

According to al-Waqidi,[32] Usama returned Medina in 10th of Rabi' I/ June 8, 632 along with a number of companions including 'Umar b. al-Khattab and they visited Prophet Muhammad (s) who was ill. Then he returned the camp of his army and invited people to jihad. Meanwhile Umm Ayman who was sent by Usama's mother, informed Usama about the imminent demise of Prophet Muhammad (s) then Usama returned to Medina again.[33] Meanwhile, Abu Bakr left Medina and headed to Sunh to visit his wife.[34]

According to another narration, Usama's wife sent someone to inform him about the severe illness of Prophet Muhammad (s) but he hesitated until the Prophet (s) passed away.[35] Eventually, Usama returned to Medina and attended the funeral ceremony of Prophet Muhammad (s).[36]

Significance of Usama's Army

It must be taken into consideration that the significance of this incident was the presence of Abu Bakr and 'Umar b. al-Khattab along with other notable companions in the army that Prophet Muhammad (s) chose Usama b. Zayd as its commander and also Prophet (s) emphasis on rapid launch of the army. Then some groups discussed the situation and the personality of Usama including al-Jahiz, a follower of Mu'tazila, who emphasized on the significance of appointment of Usama as the commander which was done based on his superiority and his virtues;[37] it is emphasized that Usama concurred with the caliphs after Prophet Muhammad (s).[38] Also regarding the rightness of Imamate of al-mafdul (the inferior) in the presence of al-fadil (the superior), commandership of Usama over his army was discussed.[39]

However, Twelver Shi'ites believe that Abu Bakr disobeyed Prophet Muhammad (s) and did not attend Usama's army.[40] This subject was so significant that one of Twelver scholars called Muhammad b. Hasan al-Shirwani wrote a risala in the 11th/17th century titled as Jaysh Usama (the army of Usama).[41]

Launch of the Army to Syria in the Time of Abu Bakr

When Abu Bakr became caliph of Muslims, he sent Usama b. Zayd to carry out the duty Prophet Muhammad (s) gave him before; Abu Bakr did not pay attention to the complaints of notable companions. He only asked Usama to let 'Umar b. al-Khattab stay to help Abu Bakr in caliphate affairs. According to the same narration, Abu Bakr also walked along the army and bid them a farewell.[42]

Based on a number of sources, Usama did not agree with caliphate of Abu Bakr at the beginning, which is clear regarding the letter Abu Bakr wrote to Usama after achieving the caliphate which was replied by Usama in a strongly-worded letter.[43] However regarding the content of that letter which has Kalam-related discussions about the Event of Saqifa as well as other behaviors of Usama which approved Abu Bakr's caliphate, the possibility that the mentioned letter was fake is highlighted. In addition, according to a narration, Usama waited for Abu Bakr's order after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (s) about the launch of army.[44]

Usama b. Ziyad finally set out for al-Bilqa' in Syria and attacked a village called Ubni where he managed to defeat the oppositions; some reports have mentioned that he killed the one who murdered his father as well. Then he returned Medina after forty or sixty days. The news about victory of Usama brought sheer joy to people of Medina as they were worried about apostasy of Arab tribes.[45]

Notes

  1. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 191; Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 14, p. 485.
  2. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 146.
  3. Mufīd, al-Irshād, 1380 Sh, p. 67.
  4. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1125.
  5. Bukhārī, al-Tārīkh al-kabīr, vol. 1, p. 20; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, Baghdad, vol. 5, p. 77; Ibn Ḥabbān, Mashāhīr ʿulamā al-amṣār, p. 11; Abū Nuʿaym, Maʿrifat al-ṣaḥāba, vol. 2, p. 181.
  6. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 2, p. 115; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1118.
  7. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 186.
  8. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 4, p. 21-32.
  9. Mufīd, al-Irshād, 1380 Sh, p. 169.
  10. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 1, p. 509.
  11. Masʿūdī, Murūj al-dhahab, p. 241.
  12. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 2, p. 116.
  13. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 650.
  14. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 184.
  15. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 4, p. 299-300; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol.3, p. 1117.
  16. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 6, p. 305.
  17. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 28, p. 107.
  18. Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Dimashq, vol. 10, p. 139.
  19. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 2, p. 127.
  20. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 184.
  21. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 642; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 184.
  22. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1118.
  23. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 2, p. 145; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 2, p. 350.
  24. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 2, p. 146; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 2, p. 350.
  25. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 2, p. 146; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 2, p. 350; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1118.
  26. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 2, p. 146; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1118.
  27. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 5, p. 195-196.
  28. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 14, p. 519; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 2, p. 146; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1117.
  29. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1119.
  30. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 2, p. 125; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 2, p. 191; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1119-1121.
  31. Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 1, p. 183.
  32. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1118.
  33. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 384, 1959.
  34. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1120; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 554, 1959.
  35. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 4, p. 67-68.
  36. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 569, 571; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 212.
  37. Jāḥiz, al-ʿUthmāniyya, p. 146-147.
  38. Jāḥiz, al-ʿUthmāniyya, p. 167-168.
  39. Nāshī Akbar, Masāʾil al-imāma, p. 51.
  40. Kūfī, al-Istighātha, vol. 1, p. 25-26; Sayyid Murtaḍā, al-Shāfī fī al-imāma, vol. 4, p. 144 to the next.
  41. Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa, vol. 5, p. 304.
  42. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, 1996, vol.3, p. 1121-1122; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 127; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 223.
  43. Sudābādī, al-Muqniʿ fī al-Imāmā, p. 142-143; Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Yaqīn, p. 95.
  44. Zuhrī, al-Maghāzī al-nabawīyya, p. 174.
  45. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Dār Ṣādir, vol. 1, p. 191; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 127; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 227.

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