Musaylimah

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Musaylimah (Arabic: مسيلمة‎) or Muslim bin Ḥabīb (Arabic: مسلمة بن حبيب‎) was one of a series of men who claimed to be a prophet around the same time as Muhammad . He is considered by Muslims to be a false prophet, and is always referred to as "the Liar" (Arabic: الكذّابal-Kaḏḏāb).[1]

Biography[edit]

Musaylimah's name was Ibn Habib al-Hanifi, which indicates that he was the son of Habib, of the tribe Banu Hanifa, one of the largest tribes of Arabia that inhabited the region of Najd. The Banu Hanifa were a Christian branch of Banu Bakr and led an independent existence prior to Islam. The Saudi tribe and family today are descended from the same Banu Hanifa.[citation needed]

Musaylimah was the theocratic lord of a sacred haram or enclave which, according to one report[who?], he had set up in Yamamah before the prophet's hijrah. He thus controlled an extensive area of eastern Arabia. He controlled more extensive territories and properties than Prophet Muhammad.[citation needed]

Among the first records of him is in late 9th Hijri, the Year of Delegations, when he accompanied a delegation of his tribe to Medina. The delegation included two other prominent Muslims. They would later help Musaylimah rise to power and save their tribe from destruction. These men were Nahar Ar-Rajjal bin Unfuwa (or Rahhal)[2] and Muja'a bin Marara. In Medina, the deputation stayed with the daughter of al-Harith, a woman of the Ansar from the Banu Najjar.

When the delegation arrived at Medinah the camels were tied in a traveler's camp, and Musaylimah remained there to look after them while the other delegates went in.

They had talks with Muhammad. The delegation before their departure embraced Islam and denounced Christianity without compunction. As was his custom, Muhammad presented gifts to the delegates, and when they had received their gifts one said, "We left one of our comrades in the camp to look after our mounts."

Muhammad gave them gifts for him also, and added, "He is not the least among you that he should stay behind to guard the property of his comrades." On their return they converted the tribe of Banu Hanifa to Islam. They built a mosque at Yamamah and started regular prayers.

Proclaiming prophethood[edit]

Musaylimah, who is reported as having been a skilled magician,[3] dazzled the crowd with miracles. He could put an egg in a bottle; he could cut off the feathers of a bird and then stick them on so the bird would fly again; and he used this skill to persuade the people that he was divinely gifted.

Musaylimah shared verses purporting them to have been revelations from God and told the crowd that Muhammad had shared power with him.[2] Musaylimah even referred to himself as Rahman,[1] which suggests that he may have attributed some divinity to himself. Thereafter, some of the people accepted him as a prophet alongside Muhammad. Gradually the influence and authority of Musaylimah increased with the people of his tribe. Musaylimah sought to abolish prayer and freely allow sex and Alcohol consumption.[2] He also took to addressing gatherings as an apostle of Allah just like Muhammad, and would compose verses and offer them, as Quranic revelations. Most of his verses extolled the superiority of his tribe, the Bani Hanifa, over the Quraysh.

Musaylimah also proposed to share power over Arabia with Muhammad. Then one day, in late 10 Hijri, he wrote to Muhammad :

"From Musaylimah, Messenger of God, to Muhammad, Messenger of God. Salutations to you. I have been given a share with you in this matter. Half the earth belongs to us and half to the Quraish. But the Quraish are people who transgress."

Muhammad, however, replied back:

"From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. Peace be upon him who follows (God's) guidance. Now then, surely the earth belongs to God, who bequeaths it to whom He will amongst his servants. The ultimate issue is to the God-fearing."[4]

Death[edit]

After Muhammad's death, Musaylimah rose up against the new Caliph Abu Bakr but his forces were defeated by Khalid ibn al-Walid[5] as Musaylimah was killed in the Battle of Yamama by Wahshi ibn Harb, the same man who killed Muhammad's uncle, Hamza.

Not all the followers of Musaylimah became "good" Muslims. Ten or twenty years later the man who carried his message to Muhammad along with others were denounced as Kufar (unbelievers) and executed.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar (2000), Mubārakfūrī, Ṣafī al-Raḥmān, ed., al-Miṣbāḥ al-munīr fī tahdhīb tafsīr Ibn Kathīr 1, Riyadh, Saʻudi Arabia: Darussalam, p. 68 
  2. ^ a b c The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 69
  3. ^ The Life of the Prophet Muhammad [May Peace and the Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him] : Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 67
  4. ^ The History of Al Tabari By Ṭabarī, Ismail K. Poonawala, pg. 107
  5. ^ The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 36
  6. ^ al-Baladhuri "Futuh al-Buldan" chapter on al-Yamamah

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.