Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl

Ikrimah is one of the Companions of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and he was at the end of the third decade of his life when Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) made public his call to guidance and truth.

He was highly respected by the Quraysh tribe, because he was wealthy and of noble descendant. Some others like him, Saud ibn Abi Waqqas, Musab ibn Umayr and other sons of noble families in Makkah had embraced Islam. Ikrimah’s father was among the leaders of atheism and one of the greatest tyrants of Makkah.

Before Ikrimah embraces Islam, his father, Abu Jahl was proud of him because of his attempts to block the progress of Islam and the Muslims.

Abu Jahl was among the first to fall at Badr’s battle. His son Ikrimah watched him as spears penetrated his body and heard him let out his last cry of agony. The crushing defeat they suffered made it impossible for Ikrimah to bury his father in Makkah as he wanted.

Since that day, the fire of hatred burned even more fiercely in the heart of Ikrimah. Others, whose fathers were killed at Badr, also became more hostile to Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his followers. This eventually led to the Battle of Uhud.

Leading the right flank of the Quraysh was Khalid ibn Al Walid. On the left was Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl. The Quraysh made the Muslims suffer a lot and felt that they had avenged themselves for their defeat in Badr. However the conflict did not stop here.

At the battle of the Ditch, the Quraysh atheists besieged Madinah. It was a long battle. The resources and the patience of the atheists were wearing out. Ikrimah, feeling the strain of the siege, saw a place where the ditch, dug by the Muslims, was relatively narrow. With a huge effort, he managed to cross. A small group of Quraysh followed him. One of them was immediately killed and it was only by turning on his heels that Ikrimah was able to save himself.

Nine years after his hijrah, Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) returned to Makkah with thousands of his companions. The Quraysh saw them approaching and decided to leave the way open for them because they knew that the Prophet (PBUH) had given orders to his commanders not to open hostilities. Ikrimah and some others however went against the consensus of the Quraysh and attempted to block the progress of the Muslim forces. Khalid ibn al-Walid, now a Muslim, met and defeated them in a small engagement during which some of Ikrimah men were killed. Among those who were able to escape was Ikrimah himself.

Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) entered Makkah and gave a general pardon and amnesty to all Quraysh people who entered the sacred mosque, or who stayed in their houses or who went to the house of Abu Sufyan, the paramount Quraysh leader. However he refused to grant amnesty to a few individuals whom he named. He gave orders that they should be killed. At the top of this list was Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl. When Ikrimah learnt of this, he escaped from Makkah in disguise and headed for Yemen.

Umm Hakim, Ikrimah’s wife, then went to the Prophet’s camp. With her were Hind bint Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan and the mother of Muawiyah, and about ten other women who wanted to pledge allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) . Hind was the one who spoke, saying:

"O Messenger of God", "Praise be to God Who has made manifest the religion He has chosen for Himself. I beseech you out of the bonds of kinship to treat me well. I am now a believing woman who affirms the Truth of your mission." She then unveiled herself and said:

"I am Hind, the daughter of Utbah."

"Welcome to you," replied Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).

"By God, O Prophet" continued Hind, "there was not a house on earth that I wanted to destroy more than your house. Now, there is no house on earth that I so dearly wish to honor and raise in glory than yours."

Umm Hakim then got up and announced embracing Islam, and said: "O Messenger of Allah, Ikrimah has fled from you to the Yemen out of fear that you would kill him. Grant him security and God will grant you security."

"He is secure," promised the Prophet. Umm Hakim set out at once in search of Ikrimah. Accompanying her was a Greek slave. When they had gone quite far on the way, he tried to seduce her but she managed to stop him until she came to a settlement of Arabs. She sought their help against him. They tied him up and kept him. Umm Hakim continued on her way until she finally found Ikrimah on the coast of the Red Sea in the region of Tihamah. He was negotiating transport with a Muslim seaman who was saying to him:

"Be pure and sincere and I will transport you."

"How can I be pure?" asked Ikrimah.

"Say, I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

"I have fled from this very thing," said Ikrimah.

At this moment, Umm Hakim came up to Ikrimah and said:

"O cousin, I have come to you from the most generous of men, the most righteous of men, the best of men... from Mohamed ibn Abdullah. I have asked him for an amnesty for you. This he has granted. So do not destroy yourself. "

"Have you spoken to him?"

"Yes, I have spoken to him and he has granted you amnesty," she assured him and he returned with her.

As Ikrimah approached Makkah, Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) told his companions: "Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl shall come to you as a believer and a refugee. Do not insult his father. Insulting the dead causes grief to the living and does not reach the dead."

Ikrimah and his wife came up to where the Prophet (PBUH) was sitting. The Prophet (PBUH) got up and greeted him enthusiastically.

"Mohamed," said Ikrimah, "Umm Hakim has told me that you have granted me an amnesty."

"That's right," said the Prophet, "You are safe."

"To what do you invite?" asked Ikrimah.

"I invite you to testify that there is no god but Allah and that I am the servant of Allah and His messenger, to establish Prayer and pay the Zakat and carry out all the other obligations of Islam."

"By God," responded Ikrimah, "You have only called to what is true and you have only commanded that which is good. You lived among us before the start of your mission and then you were the most trustworthy of us in speech and the most righteous of us."

Stretching forth his hands he said, "I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Mohamed is His servant and His messenger." The Prophet then instructed him to say, "I call on God and those present here to witness that I am a Muslim who is a Mujahid and a Muhajir". This Ikrimah repeated and said:

"By God, O messenger of Allah, I promise that whatever I have spent obstructing the way of God, I shall spend twice as much in His path and whatever battles I have fought against God's way I shall fight twice as much in His way."

And ever since, Ikrimah became committed to the mission of Islam as a brave horseman in the battlefield and as a steadfast worship who spends a lot of time in the mosques reciting the Holy Qur’an. Often he would place the Qur’an on his face and say, "The Book of my Lord, the words of my Lord" and he would cry from the fear of God.

He participated in all the battles the Muslims engaged in thereafter, and he was always in the front of the army. At the battle of Yarmuk he plunged into the attack as a thirsty person after cold water on a blistering hot day. In one encounter in which the Muslims were under heavy attack, Ikrimah penetrated deep into the ranks of the Byzantine. Khalid ibn al-Walid rushed up to him and said, "Don't, Ikrimah. Your death will be a severe blow to the Muslims."

"Let us carry on, Khalid," said Ikrimah, now at the peak of motivation. Leave me now to atone for what I have done in the past. I fought the Prophet (PBUH) on many occasions. Shall I now flee from the Byzantines? This shall never be." Then calling out to the Muslims, he shouted, "Who shall pledge to fight until death?"

Four hundred Muslims including Al-Harith Ibn Hisham and Ayyash Ibn Abi Rabiah responded to his call. They plunged into the battle and fought bravely without the leadership of Khalid Ibn Al Walid. Their daring attack paved the way for a decisive Muslim victory.

When the battle was over, the bodies of three wounded Muslims lay sprawled on the battlefield, among them Al Harith Ibn Hisham, Ayyash Ibn Abi Rabiah and Ikrimah Ibn Abu Jahl.

The companions prayed that God might be pleased with them all and grant them refreshment from the spring of Kawthar in Paradise, refreshment after which there is no more thirst.


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