Wahshi ibn Harb

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Wahshi ibn Harb (literally The Savage son of War) was the Ethiopian slave of Jubayr ibn Mut'im and a Sahabi (companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad). He is best known for killing a leading Muslim general, Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Muhammad's uncle, prior to accepting Islam, and afterwards killing Musaylimah, the leader of an enemy apostate army who were waging war against the Muslims.

During the Battle of Uhud[edit]

Further information: Battle of Uhud

Wahshi had been appointed by Hind bint Utbah to kill one of the three persons (Muhammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib, or Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib) so that she might avenge her father's death during the Battle of Badr.

Wahshi said in reply, "I cannot approach Muhammad at all, because his companions are nearer to him than anyone else. Ali too is extraordinarily vigilant in the battlefield. However, Hamza is so furious that, while fighting, he does not pay any attention to any other side and it is possible that I may be able to make him fall by some trick or by taking him unawares." Hind was content with this and promised that if he was successful in performing the job she would set him free. Some believe that Jubair made this promise to his slave (Wahshi) as his (Jubayr's) uncle had been killed in the Battle of Badr.

Wahshi went on to say, "On the Day of Uhud (625) I was pursuing Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib. He was attacking the centre of the army like a ferocious lion. He killed every one whom he could approach. I hid myself behind the trees and stones, so that he could not see me. He was too busy in fighting. I came out of ambush. Being an Ethiopian, I used to throw my weapon like Ethiopians and it never missed the target. I, therefore, threw my javelin towards him from a specific distance after moving it in a particular manner. The weapon fell on his flank and came out from between his two legs. He wanted to attack me but severe pain prevented him from doing so. He remained in the same condition till his soul departed from his body. Then I approached him very carefully and having taken out my weapon from his body returned to the army of Quraysh and waited for my freedom."[citation needed]

Conversion to Islam[edit]

He then later converted to Islam and killed the self-proclaimed prophet Musaylimah (also known as Musaylimah al-Kadhdhaab meaning "Musaylimah The Liar") during the battle of Yamama in 634. Wahshi relates his story of conversion:

"After the Battle of Uhud, I continued to live in Makkah for quite a long time until the Muslims conquered Makkah. I then ran away to Ta'if, but soon Islam reached that area as well. I heard that however grave the crime of a person might be, [God] forgave him. I, therefore, reached [Muhammad] with Shahadatayn on my lips.[1] Muhammad saw me and said "Are you the same Wahshi, the Ethiopian?" I replied in the affirmative. Thereupon he said: "How did you kill Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib?" I gave an account of the matter. Muhammad was moved and said: "I should not see your face until you are resurrected, because the heart-rending calamity fell upon my uncle at your hands". It is explained by Islamic scholars that the reason for Wahshi avoiding Muhammad, was not out of continued anger against Wahshi, but in case Wahshi interpreted a look on the face of Muhammad as anger for him, which would therefore make him distraught.

Wahshi says: "So long as Muhammad was alive I kept myself hidden from him. After his death the battle with Musaylimah took place. I joined the army of Islam and used the same weapon against Musaylimah and succeeded in killing him with the help of one of the Ansar. If I killed the best of men (Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib) with this weapon, the worst man, too, did not escape its terror."[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shahadatayn refers to the Kalimah or recitation of the two Islamic declarations of faith, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; the first of the Five Pillars of Islam. Shahada is accepted as the declaration of acceptance of Islam by a convert
  2. ^ The life of the Prophet (Arabic: Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah) - Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham; Cairo, Mustafà al-Bābī al-Halabī