Usama ibn Zayd
||This article has an unclear citation style. (September 2009)|
Usama ibn Zayd was born in the seventh year before Hijra (615 on the Christian calendar). Because of his father's status as the adopted son of Muhammad, and his mother's closeness to Muhammad's own mother, Usama was considered almost a grandson, and Muhammad's treated him the same way he did the sons of his daughter Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, . During Usama's youth, Muhammad was presented with an expensive thawb (the long gown the Muslim men wear). After wearing it once to the Friday Jumu'ah Prayer, he gave it to Usamah as a gift. When Usama was ten years old, he asked to join his elders in defending the faith in the Battle of Uhud, but was not allowed. His first experience participating in a battle was when he was seventeen, in the Battle of the Trench. During the Battle of Hunayn, in which the Muslim army was ambushed, Usama was among the few men who continued to fight with Muhammad, helping turn the near-defeat into victory
Prophet Muhammad's era
He was the youngest person ever to be appointed a general by Muhammad.
Prophet Muhammad's last expedition
Muhammad started to mobilize a great Army to Syria 'Byzantine Empire' in the month of Safar 11 A.H, under the command of Usama ibn Zayd. This was the last expedition in the life of Muhammad. Muhammad had ordered his followers to go with Usama and obey his commands.
His father, Zaid bin Haritha, died in the Battle of Mu'tah, 629.
Usama's role as a general
Although Usama was the son of a freed slave, and only twenty years of age, he was appointed by Muhammad as the commander of the army sent to Sham. This army was the second Muslim army to encounter the Romans. The Muslims had faced a stalemate with the Byzantines at the Battle of Mu'tah and had lost their leader Zayd ibn Harithah. A follow up defensive expedition had been initiated by Muhammad to safeguard the northern approaches to Madina.
Among the orders he received was "go to where your father was killed".
Although the army was waiting in Jorf, outside of Madina, set to march to Syria, Usama heard word that Muhammad was ailing, upon which Usama promptly returned to Madina. Muhammad died soon after his arrival.
With the death of Muhammad, certain companions tried to persuade Abu Bakr, who succeeded Muhammad as leader of the Islamic community, to replace Usama as commander of the army with Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, due to his youth, but Abu Bakr reaffirmed the decision of Muhammad and dispatched an expedition under Usama's leadership. He then requested that Usama allow Umar ibn al-Khattab to stay behind in Madina to help in the administration, and Usamah obliged.
The expedition was successful and it demonstrated the strength and cohesiveness of the Muslims even in the absence of Muhammad. The army reached Sham and became the first Muslim forces to defeat the Romans in battle, thus paving the way for the subsequent conquests of the Syrian and Egyptian regions, both of which were captured during Usama's lifetime.
Despite his accomplishments in helping defeat the Roman army, he is best known as the person Muhammad admonished for killing a man who had got the best of the Muslims in battle and then when Usama approached him to take off his head, he pronounced the words one officially states to become Muslim. Thinking this was just an attempt to spare his life, Usama killed him anyway. When the news of this got back to Muhammad, he asked Usama, "Did you kill him in spite of his professing La ilaha illallah (There is no God but Allah") Usama replied, "O Messenger of Allah! He said it out of fear of our arms." Muhammad said, "Why did you not cut his heart open to find out whether he had done so sincerely or not?" He continued repeating it until Usama wished he had embraced Islam only that day (so that he could be forgiven for whatever sins he committed before that). (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tayalisi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, al-`Adni, Abu `Awana, al-Tahawi, al-Hakim, and Bayhaqi.)
He had a son, named Muhammad bin Usama.