Ammar ibn Yasir
|Ammar ibn Yasir
Arabic: عمار بن یاسر
|Birthplace||Mecca, Hejaz (570 CE)|
|Known for||Being a loyal companion of Muhammad and Ali|
|Burial Place||al-Raqqah, Syria|
|Cause of Death||Martyred in the Battle of Siffin|
Father: YasirMother: Sumayyah
ʻAmmār ibn Yāsir ibn ʿĀmir ibn Mālik Abū al-Yaqẓān (Arabic: عمار بن یاسر) was one of the Muhajirun in the history of Islam and considered as one of the most loyal and beloved companions of Muhammad and Ali; thus, he occupies a position of the highest prominence in Islam. Historically, Ammar ibn Yasir is the first Muslim to build a mosque. He is also referred to by Shia Muslims as one of the Four Companions. Ammar's ultimate fate was unique than the rest of Mohammad's companions in that it decisively distinguished the righteous group from the sinful one in the First Fitna.
Before conversion to Islam
Ammar bin Yasir belonged to Banu Makhzum tribe in Hijaz (current-day Saudi Arabia). He was born in the Year of the Elephant, which was the same year as Muhammad's birth, in Mecca and was one of the intermediaries in the Muhammad's marriage to Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. His father, Yasir ibn Amir, was from the tribe of Qahtan in Yemen and migrated to Mecca and settled down there by marrying Sumayyah bint Khayyat, a slave woman; Ammar and his parents, Yasir and Sumayyah, were slaves to Abu Huzaifa, but upon his death, Abu Jahl -who became later to one of Islam's most brutal enemies and the infamous torturer of Ammar and his parents- took them over as his slaves. Ammar's trust in and knowledge of Muhammad, even before his prophethood, encouraged him to follow Muhammad's prophetic visions eventually.
After conversion to Islam
Ammar ibn Yasir converted to Islam in 614 or 615 under the direct influence of Abu Bakr. This coincided with the period when the Quraysh were persecuting the lower-class Muslims. As Ammar later told his grandson: "I met Suhayb ibn Sinan at the door of the house of Al-Arqam while the Messenger of Allah was in it. I asked him, 'What do you want?' He said to me, 'What do you want?' I answered, 'I want to go to Muhammad and listen to what he says.' He said, 'That is what I want.' We entered and he presented Islam to us and we became Muslim. Then we spent the day until evening and went out concealing ourselves."
Ammar's father, mother and brother also became Muslims, though not at Abu Bakr's invitation. The family were among the "victims who were tortured at Makka to make them recant." "The Makhzum clan used to take out Ammar ibn Yasir with his father and mother, who were Muslims, in the heat of the day and expose them to the heat of Mecca, and the Apostle passed by them and said, so I have heard, 'Patience, O family of Yasir! Your meeting-place will be Paradise.'" Ammar was also burned with fire. Muhammad would pass and say, "Fire, be cool and peace for Ammar. The unjust party will kill you." Ammar had scars on his back from the hot sands for the rest of his life.
Ammar was tortured "until he did not know what he was saying," as was his friend Suhayb. Eventually he maligned Muhammad and spoke well of the pagan gods. Afterwards he went to Muhammad and confessed his recantation. Muhammad asked, "How do you find your heart?" When Ammar replied that he was still a Muslim in his heart, Muhammad said all was well. A verse of the Qur'an, "someone forced to do it whose heart remains at rest in its faith" (16:106), refers to Ammar. Ammar's mother was murdered by Abu Jahl for her refusal to abandon Islam: she is considered the first Muslim martyr. The opening verses of Surat Al-Ankabut (chapter 29: The Spider) were written in response to this tragic event. It is not mentioned in the early sources that any other Muslim died in this round of the persecution; the fate of Ammar's father is unknown.
Role before and after Muhammad's death
He participated in the Battle of Badr. Muhammad's forces included Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Hamza, Mus`ab ibn `Umair, Az-Zubair bin Al-'Awwam, Ammar ibn Yasir, and Abu Dharr al-Ghifari. The Muslims also brought seventy camels and two horses, meaning that they either had to walk or fit three to four men per camel. However, many early Muslim sources indicate that no serious fighting was expected, and the future Caliph Uthman stayed behind to care for his sick wife Ruqayyah, the daughter of Muhammad. Salman the Persian also could not join the battle, as he was still not a free man. Many of the Quraishi nobles, including Amr ibn Hishām, Walid ibn Utba, Shaiba, and Umayah ibn Khalaf, joined the Meccan army. Their reasons varied: some were out to protect their financial interests in the caravan; others wanted to avenge Ibn al-Hadrami, the guard killed at Nakhlah; finally, a few must have wanted to take part in what was expected to be an easy victory against the Muslims. Amr ibn Hishām is described as shaming at least one noble, Umayah ibn Khalaf, into joining the expedition. 
Besides Ammar's major involvement in Islam's military campaigns, this following incident during the Prophet's life proved to be of most importance historically to Muslims: ʻAmmār participated in building the mosque in Medina, and according to several varying reports, (quoting a hadith:) "ʻAmmār b. Yasir came in when they had overloaded him with bricks saying, 'They are killing me. They load me with burdens they can't carry themselves.' Umm Salama the prophet's wife said: I saw the apostle run his hand through is hair--for he was a curly-haired man--and say 'Alas Ibn Sumayya! It is not they who will kill you but a wicked band of men.'...Now he had a stick in his hand and the apostle was angry and said, 'What is wrong between them and ʻAmmār? He invites them to Paradise while they invite him to hell.'" These reports, viewed as valid by both Sunnis and Shi'is, would later be important during the issue of succession and particularly in interpreting ʻAmmār's death at the Battle of Siffin.
After the death of prophet Muhammad, Ammar refused to give Bay'ah (allegiance) to Abu Bakr, he instead followed Ali ibn Abi Talib whom he believed to be the legitimate successor of the prophet and the only one whom the prophet had appointed as his successor.
Under Umar, he became governor of Kufa, however he was soon removed from power by Umar; on one account, the reasons behind his dismissal were not -officially & completely- known. On another account, however, Umar dismissed Ammar to avoid unrest in Kufa (because of unfair complaints brought against Ammar by some of his political enemies).
Murder of ʿUthmān
After Muhammad's death, ʻAmmār continuously supported ʿAlī as the Prophet's successor. When Uthman ibn Affan was appointed the third caliph (after Abū Bakr and ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb), ʻAmmār openly objected to and disapproved of this decision: he -especially later- criticized ʿUthmān for not following the Islamic order that 'Umar had previously followed. Other Medinese critics of ʿUthmān who were of the same mindset as ʻAmmār could be characterized the following way: "The complaints of these and similar individuals were symptoms of a situation in which the principles of Islamic leadership and Islamic priority fostered by ʻUmar were becoming less and less important; these sahaba were therefore protesting principally against a devaluation of their own importance." Because ʻAmmār openly criticized ʿUthmān, ʿUthmān ordered him to be beaten. Part of his critique of ʿUthmān that led to this punishment included delivering a letter to the caliph from groups of opponents about how he failed to follow Abū Bakr and ʻUmar's examples. ʻAmmār also resisted ʿUthmān's caliphate by encouraging Egyptians to rise up against him, which eventually led to these rebels besieging the caliph's house and murdering him there.
Battle of the Camel
Prior to the Battle of the Camel being fought, there was a shura set up in an attempt to decide a successor since ʿUthmān had been murdered. At this meeting, attendees were not in agreement regarding whether or not retaliation for ʿUthmān's murder was necessary, or even desirable. A report of ʻAlqama b. Waqqas al-Laythi of Kinana indicates that ʻAmmār said that they should not seek revenge. Madelung interprets ʻAmmār's behavior at this meeting indicating his desire to keep Talha from gaining power because Talha was in favor of seeking retaliation. ʻAmmār would not have wanted this since "he had been the most active in inciting the rebels to action." As the battle was developing, ʻAmmār continued to show his support for ʿAlī in multiple ways. ʿAlī first sent him along with al-Hasan to Kufa in order to try to rally the Kufans to help during the upcoming battle. According to one report recorded by al-Tabari, ʻAmmār was questioned upon arrival for participating in ʿUthmān's murder; however, he continued to try to convince the governor, Abu Musa, to take a stance instead of remaining impartial in the conflict. Tabari earlier reports how Abu Musa had encouraged the Kufans to remain neutral because he did not want to participate in inter-Muslim fighting, and he also believed that the Muslim community still owed their allegiance to ʿUthmān because no new successor had been named. An additional transmission of the same event does not mention ʻAmmār's actions against ʿUthmān and instead focuses on his intentions to sway Abu Musa into action. During the actual battle, ʻAmmār fought on ʿAlī's side. Al-Tabari includes in his history an account in which al-Zubayr is told that ʻAmmār is fighting alongside ʿAlī, and this knowledge causes al-Zubayr to be fearful because he had been with Muhammad and ʻAmmār when Muhammad had told ʻAmmār that he would be killed by "a wicked band of men". Tabari again includes multiple reports of the same event, which in this case is a moment during the battle in which ʻAmmār and al-Zubayr confront each other. In both accounts ʻAmmār approaches al-Zubayr to attack him, when al-Zubayr speaks. In the report from 'Umar b. Shabbah, al-Zubayr asks ʻAmmār, "Do you want to kill me?" whereas in that from 'Amir b. Hafs, al-Zubayr asks, "Are you going to kill me, Abu al Yaqzan?" In both reports, ʻAmmār's response is negative. At the end of the battle, which is successful for ʿAlī's side, ʿAlī orders ʻAmmār and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr remove Aisha from her camel and bring her to 'Abdallah ibn Khalaf al-Khuza I's home in Basrah. Tabari again offers multiple reports from different transmitters, and because of this the nature of the relationship between ʻAmmār and ʻA'ishah is unclear; for one account displays ʻA'ishah as hostile towards ʻAmmār, whereas another later report describes the two as being on much more amicable terms.
Battle of Siffeen
While strategizing about how to defeat Muawiyah I's forces, ʿAlī gathered together a group of the Islamic ruling elite that included ʻAmmār ibn Yasir, Hashim ibn Utbah, and Qays ibn Sa'd who, collectively, encouraged ʿAlī to wage jihad against who they considered to be in the wrong early and preemptively. Malik Al-Ashtar also shared this opinion (albeit in a different incident). Later in the battle, ʻAmmār's name was brought up during an attempt to negotiate a truce between ʿAlī, represented by Shabath ibn. Rib'i, and Muʿāwiya. Shabath is reported to have asked Muʿāwiya, "Would it make you happy, O Muʿāwiya, if you were given power over ʻAmmār, to kill him?" Muʿāwiya's response was, "Why should I not? But, by God, if I were given power over Ibn Sumayya, I would not kill him in revenge for ʿUthmān but [only] for Natil the mawla of ʿUthmān." Shabath's response was defensive and protective of ʻAmmār. In the Battle at Siffin, ʿAlī placed ʻAmmār in charge of the Kufan infantry, and on the third day of fighting he tries to inspire his forces to victory by reminding them of the impiety of Muʿāwiya and his troops. Eventually, ʻAmmār was killed in the Battle of Siffin by the forces of Muʿāwiya b. Abī Sufyān in 657. After ʻAmmār's death, Muʿāwiya referred to ʻAmmār as one of ʿAlī's right hands—the other being al-Ashtar. Madelung quotes Al-Tabari by reporting what Muʿāwiya said to his followers after killing Imam Ali's other loyal companion, Malik al-Ashtar: "Ali b. Abi Talib had two right hands. One of them was cut at Siffin', meaning ʻAmmār b. Yasir, 'and the other today', meaning al-Ashtar"; despite Muʿāwiya's provocations, Ali did recognize and highly value the support of the two aforementioned most loyal companions of his nonetheless. While reports vary as to Ammar's exact age, most place him at ninety years or older. Madelung puts him at over 90 years old; whereas Hasson states he was somewhere between 90 and 94. According to one report Tabari provides, ʻAbdallah b. Amr questions his father, ʻAmr b.al-As, about killing ʻAmmār. ʻAbdallah references the hadith in which Muhammad tells ʻAmmār that the "usurping party" will kill him. ʻAmr brings this concern to Muʿāwiya whose response is "Was it we who killed ʻAmmār? It was only those who brought him here."Ali ibn abi Talib is said to have responded that if he killed Ammar then Muhammad is the one who killed Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib.
After Ammar's death, Ali ibin Talib, the Caliph at the time, mourned his loss deeply. In the 20th century, former Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, was nicknamed "Abu Ammar" after Ammar ibn Yasser. Ammar ibn Yasir's shrine, prior to its destruction, was frequently visited and paid tribute to by Muslims.
On March 11, 2013 Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front was blamed for the bombing and damage to the shrine of Ammar ibn Yasir located in al-Raqqah, Syria. The terrorist group al-Nursa, an al-Qaeda linked group, and other Salafi/Wahabi rebels are blamed for the sacrilegious act. On March 13, 2013 the Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the destruction of Ammar's shrine. This attack along with the destruction of Hujr ibn Adi's shrine, Syeda Zaynab bint Ali's shrine, and Syeda Ruqayya bint Husain ibn Ali's shrine have been correlated to the Wahabbi movement.
- Ammar Ibn Yasser' shrine is violated, Islam Times, retrieved on 13 Apr 2014
- Prophet Muhammad (warningly to Khalid ibn al-Walid): "Whoever makes an enemy of Ammar, Allah makes an enemy of him; whoever hates ʻAmmār, Allah hates him; whoever curses ʻAmmār, Allah curses him; whoever belittles Ammar, Allah belittles him; and whoever disparages Ammar, Allah disaparages him," Abdul Aziz As-Shanawi, The Ministers around the Prophet - Page 122, Dar-us-Salam (2004), Retrieved on 2 Mar 2014
- Prophet Muhammad: "Ammar is with the truth and the truth is with Ammar. He turns wherever the truth turns"; "ʻAmmār is as near to me as an eye is near to the nose. Alas! a rebellious group will kill him." Nahj ul Balagha: Sermons from Imam Ali - On the method of his ruling, and grief over the martyrdom of his companions, Google Books, Retrieved on 23 Feb 2014
- Imam Ali (deeply saddened by and openly weeping in commiserating Ammar Bin Yassir's martyrdom in the Battle of Siffin): "Any Muslim, who doesn't consider the event of ʻAmmār's being killed to be great, and doesn't treat it to be a painful tragedy, won't be recognized to be adult and mature. May Allah bless ʻAmmār on the day on which he embraced Islam, the day on which he was killed and the day on which he will rise from earth once again! I saw ʻAmmār at such a position that if the companions of the Holy Prophet (S) were reckoned to be four he was the fourth and if they were five he was the fifth and none of the companions of the Holy Prophet (S) doubted this. Paradise has become essential for ʻAmmār and his entitlement to Paradise did not depend on one or two instances [only]. (The Imam [then] took Ammar’s head and put it in his lap and recited): O death who does not leave me, relieve me, for you have destroyed all friends! I see that you are aware of those whom I love as if that you walk towards them with a guide!", The life of Imam Al-hasan al-Mujtaba by Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi and translated by Jasim al-Rasheed, Chapter XI - At Siffin, Retrieved on 31 May 2014
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- Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi: "Ammar and his parents were amongst the first converts to Islam. His father Yasir was from the tribe of Qahtan in Yemen. He, together with his two brothers, came to Mecca in search of a lost brother. His brothers returned to their homeland; but Yasir stayed in Mecca where he entered into a covenant with Abu Hudhayfah (from the tribe of Bani Makhzum), and married his slave-girl, Sumayyah bint Khayyat. Yasir and Sumayyah begot two sons, 'Abdullah and 'Ammar, who according to the custom of Arabia, were considered the slaves of Abu Hudhayfah." Slavery - Ammar bin Yasir , Al-islam. org, by Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi retrieved on 15 Dec. 2014
- Kamran Shahid Ansari: "Ammar bin Yasir was one of the early reverts to Islam and belonged to Banu Makhzum tribe. He was born in the year of Elephant in Makkah and was one of the intermediaries in the Messenger of Allah’s (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) marriage to Khadija bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her). His father Yasir (may Allah be pleased with him) was from Yemen and migrated to Makkah and settled down there by marrying Sumayya (may Allah be pleased with her), a slave woman. Earlier they were slaves to Abu Huzaifa, but upon his death Abu Jahl, one of the staunchest enemies of Islam took them over as slaves. Ammar, aware of the extraordinary qualities and impeccable character of the Messenger of Allah, did not take much time to revert to Islam" Radiance Viewsweekly, Ammar Bin Yasir (May Allah be pleased with him), by Kamran Shahid Ansari, retrieved on 15 Dec. 2014
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- Dr. Mohammad Nurul Alam: "Before marching towards Muawiya, Imam Ali (A.S.) tried to settle matters peacefully by sending Jarir, chief of Bani Bajila and the governor of Hamdan, to Syria as an envoy. However, Jarir became so engrossed in the entertainment that Muawiya put his way, that he wasted his time in Syria. He finally returned three months later with the useless message that peace could only be negotiated if the murderers of Uthman were brought to justice. Malik al-Ashtar accused him of having wasted time in effeminate pleasures with Muawiya, who purposely kept him long enough to mature his plans of hostilities. Jarir left Kufa and joined Muawiya", Destruction & Peace, End of Saudi Monarchy with the Arrival of Hazrat Imam Mahdi (A) along with reemergence of Jesus Christ (Nabi Isa A.), retrieved on May 30, 2014 (requires subscription for access)
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- Syed A. A. Razwy, A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims C.E. 570 to 661, page 504, World Federation; 1st edition (1997), Retrieved on 10 Mar 2014
- Sayed Ali Asgher Razwy: "Ammar's death was a terrible shock to Ali. They had been friends since the days when Ammar and his parents were tortured by the Quraysh for accepting Islam, and their friend, Muhammad, comforted them. But Muhammad himself had, long since, parted company with them. Now Ammar also left this world, leaving Ali alone. Ali was overwhelmed by sorrow and by an awful feeling of 'lonesomeness'", A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, The battle of Siffin @ Al-islam.org, Retrieved on 21 May 2014
- Helena Cobban (before Yasser Arafat's marriage): "Yasser Arafat is not married, but is called 'Abu 'Ammar' as an inversion of the name of the heroic early Muslim warrior 'Ammar bin ('son of) Yasser. The idea, presumably, that if Yasser Arafat had a son, he would or should be as heroic as the earlier Ammar [ibn Yasir]", The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics (Cambridge Middle East Library), page 272, Retrieved on 21 May 2014
- The Washington Times: "As important figures in Islamic history, the attack on the shrines of these figures will likely be viewed as an affront to the Shiite Muslims who typically perform pilgrimages at the memorial. While Sunni Muslims view the two personalities favorably, they typically avoid attending or visiting shrines of any revered figures, believing the practice to be an “innovation” and thus sinful. Despite this, multiple Sunni groups have expressed anger at the attack", The Washington Times - HUSAIN: Attack on Shiite shrines in Syria may result in dramatic rise in tensions, Retrieved on 21 May 2014
- "Militants Blow up Muslim Shrine in Syria's Raqqa", Press TV. N.p., 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 02 Aug. 2013
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- Majlis Ulama-e-Shia (Europe), Majlis e Ulama Shia Europe condemns the terrorist attacks on the Holy Shrines of Ammar Ibn Yassir (ra) and Uwais Al-Qarani (RA), Retrieved on 21 May 2014
- Shiitenews.com, Majlis-e-Wehdatul Muslimeen (MWM) and Imamia Students Organization (ISO) protest against desecration of holy shrines, Retrieved on 21 May 2014
- The Siasat Daily, Protest in India against desecration of shrines of Hazrat Owais Qarni and Ammar Yasir (RA), Retrieved on 21 May 2014
- Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), Press Release: Shrine of Ammar Ibn Yasser, Retrieved on 21 May 2014