in category Seerah

How did the companion Musab ibn Umayr do dawa in Medina?

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Islamic researcher, graduated from Al-Azhar University, Islamic Studies in the English language. I also studied at Temple University in the US.
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In a Nutshell:
Musab (ra) was invited by the influentials of the Aus tribe who provided him with an opportunity to teach their followers the Qur'an and win over influentials from the Khazraj tribe thereby uniting both tribes.

Given the socio-political and historical context of Medina at the time of the Prophet (saw), conflicts were at their peak. Jews were fighting each other, Arabs were fighting each other, some parties from the former group held alliances with the latter who had alliances against other allies.

Aus and her allies were defeated several times so some junior elites came to Mecca to form a treaty against the Khazraj. Whilst Quraysh initially agreed, however, al-Waleed ibn al-Mughirah (or Abu Jahl in some narrations) opposed any agreement be made telling Quraysh to break the alliance. (Samhudi, Wafaa al-Wafaa, Vol. 1, p. 385).

The Prophet (saw) heard of them and went to them and presented himself and his dawa to them. One of them (Iyas ibn Muaz) accepted him as a prophet and believed his proposal was good (probably with a couple of others), however, their leader (Abu al-Haisar Anas ibn Rafi) rebuked them, refusing to accept the Prophet's (saw) proposal. This was soon followed by the war of Bu'ath. (Samhudi, Wafaa al-Wafaa, Vol. 1, p. 388)

Ibn Ishaq narrated the Prophet (saw) went to them and said:

هَلْ لَكُمْ فِي خَيْرٍ مِمَّا جِئْتُم لَهُ ؟ قَالٌ : قَالُوا : وَمَا ذَاكَ ؟ قَالَ :" أَنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ إِلَى الْعِبَادِ أَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى أَنْ يَعَبِّدُوا اللهَ وَلَا يُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شِيئًا ، وَأَنْزِلَ عَلِيَّ الْكِتَابَ ". ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ لَهُمْ الْإِسْلامَ وَتَلًّا عَلَيْهِمْ الْقُرْآنَ . قَالَ : فَقَالَ إياس بْنُ مَعَاذ - وَكَانَ غُلاَمَا حَدَثًا -: يا قَوْم هَذَا وَاَللَّهُ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا جِئْتُم لَهُ . فَأَخَذَ أَبُو الحيسر أُنْسُ بْنُ رَافِعِ حِفْنَةً مِنْ تُرَابِ الْبَطْحاءِ فَضَرْبً بِهَا وَجْهَ إياس بْنُ مَعَاذً وَقَالٌ : دَعْنَا مِنْكَ ، فَلَعَمْرُِي لَقَدْ جِئْنَا لِغَيْرٍ هَذَا . قَالٌ : فَصَمَتَ إياس وَقَامَ رَسُولُ اللهِ ﷺ عَنْهُمْ ، وَاِنْصَرَفُوا إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ ، وَكَانَتْ وَقْعَةُ بعاثٍ بَيْنَ الْأَوْسُ وَالْخَزْرَجُ قَال: ثُمَّ لَمْ يَلْبَثْ إياس بن مُعَاذٍ أَنْ هَلَك . قَالَ مَحْمُودٌ بْنٌ لِبِيدٍ : فَأَخبرَنِي مِنْ حُضِرَنِي مِنْ قَوْمِهِ أَنَّهُمْ لَمْ يَزَالُوا يَسْمَعُونَهُ يُهَلِّلَ اللهُ وَيُكْبِرُهُ وَيَحْمَدُهُ وَيُسَبِّحُهُ حَتَّى مَاتَ فَمَا كَانُوا يَشْكُونَ أَنَّه قَدْ مَاتَ مُسْلِمَا

"Do you want (to see a matter) better than what you came to?"
They said: "what is this?"
He said I am the Messenger of Allah to the servants (of Allah) calling them to serve him and associate none with him and that he revealed a book to me."
He then mentioned Islam to them and recited the Qur'an to them.
Iyas ibn Muaz who was young: O people, this is by Allah better than what you came for.
Abu al-Haisar Anas ibn Rafi took some dust and threw it in his face saying: "What you said is not important, we have certainly come for other than this."
Iyas stopped talking and the Messenger left them and they went back to Medina. It was followed by the battle of Bu'ath between al-Aws and al-Khazraj.
Iyas passed away shortly after. People of his tribe who attended his last moments told me they were hearing him repeating (probably the Islamic forms) of tahleel, praising and tasbeeh until he passed away. So, they wondered he died a Muslim." (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 3, p. 189)

The next year the Messenger (saw) met a group of six junior elites from al-Khazraj attending hajj and delivered his proposal to them. They discussed between themselves arguing this was the man the Jews and Christians were waiting for - the one who could unify their tribes. They believed in him, accepted Islam and returned to their tribe. It seems the Muslim group from al-Khazraj got in touch with the Muslims from al-Aws and a year later, both came and pledged an oath (the first bay'ah of al-Aqabah or bay'ah al-nisa).

Given the political instability and insecurity in Medina, the Messenger (saw) did not migrate but waited until the situation was stable and secure enough for it to become the birthplace of the Islamic state.

On their return, they asked the Messenger (saw) to send someone to help them with the dawa seeking to unify the tribes and teach Qur'an to the new converts. The Messenger (saw) sent Musab ibn Umayr (ra) (and ibn Umm Maktum (ra) in some narrations) to pave the way before the migration.

In some narrations of al-Tabarani and others, it is narrated they later asked the Messenger (saw) to send someone to help them with the dawa and to teach their followers the Qur'an.

The Prophet (saw) sent Musab ibn Umayr (ra) to unite the Aus and Khazraj tribes, thereby paving the way for the migration. Urwah narrated:

ثمَّ بَعَثُوا إِلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: أَنِ ابْعَثْ إِلَيْنَا رَجُلًا مِنْ قِبَلِكَ فَيَدْعُو النَّاسَ بِكِتَابِ اللهِ، فَإِنَّهُ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُتَّبَعَ. فَبَعَثَ إِلَيْهِمْ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مُصْعَبَ بن عُمَيْرٍ أَخَا بني عَبْدِ الدَّارِ، فَنَزَلَ فِي بني غَنْمٍ عَلَى أَسْعَدَ بن زُرَارَةَ، فَجَعَلَ يَدْعُو النَّاسَ سِرًّا، وَيَفْشُو الإِسْلامُ
"They then sent (messengers) to the Messenger (ra) asking him to send them a man of his tribe to call people through the Book of Allah as it would be easier for him to be followed.
The Messenger (saw) sent them Musab (ra); he stayed in Bani Tameem's houses secretly calling people and spreading (the teachings of) Islam." (Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-Kabeer, al-Asfahani, Vol. 20, p. 364, Bayhaqi, Dala'il al-Nubuwah p. 308)

By carefully reviewing events and activities, it seems Musab's (ra) core task was to prepare Medina for Islam by uniting Muslims. The mere teaching of Qur'an and Islam could not have been the main purpose, as having done this he would have returned to the Messenger (ra). Moreover, we don't see this teaching happening with any other tribes. We do see him leaving the city after they have been united and Medina being ready to welcome the deen. The sources also cite that even after embracing Islam, both tribes used to hate gathering together in one place.

This then could be argued as one of the main goals of Musab (ra), uniting Aus and Khazraj, resolving their conflicts and disputes. It is noteworthy this was also the opinion of the Egyptian House of Ifta after considering the socio-political context. (Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyah's Website)

Musab's Dawa in Medina

Ibn Hisham narrated that on his arrival Musab (ra) stayed with the Aus tribe of Asaad ibn Zurara:

فَأَقَامَ عِنْدَهُ يَدْعُو النَّاسَ إلَى الْإِسْلَامِ
"He stayed with him calling people to Islam." (Ibn Hisham, as-Seera al-Nabawiyah, Vol. 1, pp. 438)

He then began visiting people in their homes and camps, calling them to Islam and reciting the Qur'an and preparing the public polity to accept Islam as their way of life. They kept calling people and presenting Islam and his way of life to them.

Tabari also narrated Musab (ra) used to go through tribe by tribe, which also included their leaders:

ْأَسْعَدُ بنِ زَرَارَة خَرَجَ بِمُصْعَبِ بن عُمَيّرٍ يُرِيدُ بِهِ دَارَ بَنِي عَبْدَ الأشْهَلِ، ودَارَ بَنِي ظُفَر
"Asaad ibn Zurara (ra) accompanied Musab (ra) heading to the territory (Dar-دار) Bani Abd al-Ashhal and Dar Bani Dhufar." (Tabari, Tarikh at-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 88)

In addition to calling the common people, he also called the leaders of the tribe. When Saad ibn Mu'adh and Usayd ibn Huddayr (ra), who were two influential leaders of Yathrib, heard of the coming of Musab (ra) and the support he was gaining, they became outraged. Saad sent Usayd (ra) to discourage them from changing society. After a conversation with Musab (ra), Usayd (ra) converted and guided him to call another leader who would help him reorient the whole society; i.e. Saad ibn Mu'adh (ra). When the two leaders embraced Islam, their tribe collectively accepted Islam. Every household of the Ansar, except the households of Khatmah, Wa'il and Waqif.

Ibn Hisham narrated the consequences of their conversion:

مَا أَمْسَى فِي دَارِ بَنِي عَبْدِ الْأَشْهَلِ رَجُلٌ وَلَا امْرَأَةٌ إلَّا مُسْلِمًا وَمُسْلِمَةً
"When night entered, there was no man or woman in Bani al-Ashal that did not embrace Islam." (Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, pp. 435-438)

In another narration of Tabarani, the leaders of Yathrib embraced Islam, which means they must have received dawa from Musab (ra):

فَلَمْ يَزَلْ عِنْدَهُ يَدْعُو وَيَهْدِي اللهُ عَلَى يَدَيْهِ، حَتَّى قَلَّ دَارٌ مِنْ دُورِ الأَنْصَارِ إِلَّا أَسْلَمَ فِيهَا نَاسٌ لا مَحَالَةَ، وَأَسْلَمَ أَشْرَافُهُمْ، وَأَسْلَمَ عَمْرُو بْنُ الْجَمُوحِ، وَكُسِرَتَ أَصْنَامُهُمْ
"He was still calling (to Islam) and Allah guided people by him, until every house amongst the houses of al-Ansar (people of Medina) submitted.
Their leaders also submitted, such as Amr ibn al-Jamuh, and their idols were destroyed." (Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-Kabeer, al-Asfahani, Vol. 20, p. 364; Bayhaqi, Dala'il al-Nubuwah p. 308)

Then Musab wrote to the Messenger (saw) asking his permission to gather them in Jum'ah prayer and the Messenger (saw) wrote back,

"Wait until the Jews declare their Sabbath, and in the afternoon, approach Allah with two Rak'at and then deliver your Khutbah." Mus'ab ibn Umayr gathered them in the house of Sa'd ibn Khaythamah, twelve men and he slaughtered for them one goat. Mus'ab was the first in the history of Islam to hold Jum'uah prayer.

Winning over Elites

One day As'ad ibn Zurarah went with Mus'ab ibn Umayr to the areas of Banu al-Ashhal and Banu Zafar. They entered one of the gardens of Banu Zafar by a well and sat in it, where some of the men who had accepted Islam had gathered together.

Sa'd ibn Mu'adh and Usayd ibn Hudayr were at the time leaders of their clan, the Banu Abd al-Ashhal, and both followed the polytheism of their tribe.

When they had heard about Musab, Sa'd said to Usayd, "Go to these fellows who have entered our quarters to make fools of our comrades, drive them out and forbid them from entering our quarters. If it were not that As'ad ibn Zurarah is related to me I would save you the trouble. He is my aunt's son and I can do nothing to him."

Ibn Hisham narrated:

فَلَمَّا سَمِعَا بِهِ قَالَ سَعْدُ بْنُ مُعَاذٍ لِأُسَيْدِ بْنِ حُضَيْرٍ: لَا أَبَا لَكَ، انْطَلِقْ إلَى هَذَيْنِ الرَّجُلَيْنِ اللَّذَيْنِ قَدْ أَتَيَا دَارَيْنَا لِيُسَفِّهَا ضُعَفَاءَنَا، فَازْجُرْهُمَا وَانْهَهُمَا عَنْ أَنْ يَأْتِيَا دَارَيْنَا
"When they heard of Musab, Saad ibn Mu'adh told Usayd ibn Huddayr, 'What is wrong with you, go to these two men (Musab and Asaad ibn Zurara) who had come to our society to mislead our powerless people; discourage and prevent them from coming to our homes again.'" (Ibn Hisham, as-Seera al-Nabawiyah, Vol. 1, pp. 438)

So Usayd took his lance and went to them; when As'ad saw him he said to Mus'ab, "This is the chief of his tribe who is coming to you, so be true to Allah with him." Mus'ab said, "If he will sit down, I will talk to him."

He stood over them looking furious and asking what they meant by coming to deceive their weaker comrades. "Leave us if you value your lives." Musab said, "Won't you sit down and listen. If you like what you hear you can accept it, and if you don't like it you can leave it alone." He agreed that was fair, stuck his lance in the ground, and sat down. Musab explained Islam to him and read the Qur'an. He said, "What a wonderful and beautiful discourse this is! What does one do if he wants to enter this Deen?" They told him that he must wash and purify himself and his garments, then bear witness to the Truth and pray two Rak'at.

He immediately did so and said, "There is a man behind me who if he follows you every one of his people will follow suit. I will send him to you at once. It is Sa'd ibn Mu'adh."

Taking his lance, he went off to Sa'd and his people sitting in a meeting place. When Sa'd saw him coming, he said, "By Allah, Usayd is coming with a different expression from that which he had when he left you."

And when he came up he asked what had happened, he said, "I have spoken to the two men and I find no harm in them. I forbade them to go on and they said to me: We will do what you like; I was told that Banu Harithah had gone out against As'ad to kill him because they knew that he was the son of your aunt to make you appear a treacherous protector of your guests."

Sa'd was enraged and got up at once, alarmed at what had been said about the Banu Harithah. He took the lance from his hand saying, "By Allah, I see that you have been utterly ineffective."

He went out to them and when he saw them sitting comfortably he knew that Usayd had intended that he should listen to them. He stood over them, looking furious. He said to As'ad, "O Abu Umamah, were it not for the relationship between us you would not have treated me thus. Would you behave in our homelands in a way we detest?" As'ad already had said to Mus'ab, "O Musab, by Allah the leader who is followed by his people has come to you. If he follows you, no two of them will remain behind." So Musab said to him, "Won't you sit down and listen. If you like what you hear you can accept it, and if you don't like it you can leave it alone." He agreed that was fair, stuck his lance in the ground, and sat down. He explained Islam to him and read for him the Qur'an. He said, "What a wonderful and beautiful discourse this is! What does one do if he wants to enter this Deen?" They told him that he must wash and purify himself and his garments, then bear witness to the truth and pray. He immediately did so.

Then he took his lance and went back to his people's meeting place accompanied by Usayd ibn Hudayr. When they saw him coming they said, "We swear by Allah, Sa'd has returned with a different expression from that which he had when he left you."

And when he stopped by them he said, "O Banu 'Abd al-Ashhal, how do you rate my authority amongst you?" They replied, "You are our chief, the most active in our interests, the best in judgment and the most fortunate in leadership." He said, "I will not speak to a man or woman among you until you believe in Allah and His Messenger." As a result, every man and woman among the Banu 'Abd al-Ashhal embraced Islam. Musab then returned to the house of As'ad ibn Zurarah and he stayed with him as a guest. He continued to call the people to Islam until almost every household of the Ansar had Muslim men and women among them. Musab ibn Umayr remained in Madinah for one year among the Aus and the Khazraj teaching them the deen.


Musab (ra) was invited by the influentials of the Aus tribe who provided him with an opportunity to teach their followers the Qur'an and win over influentials from the Khazraj tribe thereby uniting both tribes.

Musab (ra) visited the people of Medina in their tribal communities and worked on the conversion of both leaders and individuals. The most important in his dawa was his call to two leaders through whom most converted.

Musab's dawa used to including knocking on people's doors, walking to the fields and calling the farmers to Islam. He also used to meet the leaders and call them to the deen of Allah, performing deliberate tactics to gain access to influentials. He managed in one year to turn the thoughts and emotions of Medina to tawheed and iman and away from acts such as shirk, cheating, fraud and other vices.

As a result of his activities and activities of those who embraced Islam, Medina in one single year transformed from a people who committed shirk to people who turned to Islam.


Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh
Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari
Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-Kabeer, al-Asfahani
Bayhaqi, Dala'il al-Nubuwwah
Ibn Hisham, as-Seera al-Nabawiyyah

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