By KAMRAN SHAHID ANSARI
Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas was a young man of Makkah who accepted Islam in his early youth and was one of the early converts to Islam. He belonged to a very well-off and noble family and came into the fold of Islam on invitation of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). Sa’d was a relative of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) from his mother’s tribe and belonged to Banu Zuhrah, the clan of Amina bint Wahb (the mother of the Messenger).
From the very beginning Sa’d hated the practices and rituals followed by the idolaters and could not understand the reason for the practices. Hence when he was invited to the true faith he accepted it with conviction and never budged from his faith ever since. Even the immense love for his mother failed to bring Sa’d back to the religion of his forefathers.
Sa’d faced extreme pressure from his mother regarding his new found faith as to when her mother heard of his conversion she got outraged and came to him and said, “O Sa’d! What is this religion that you have embraced which has taken you away from the religion of your mother and father...? By God, either you forsake your new religion or I would not eat or drink until I die. Your heart would be broken with grief for me and remorse would consume you on account of the deed you have done and people would censure you forever more.” For days her mother did not eat and grew very weak. Sa’d pursued her mother to eat and give up her demand of forsaking the religion but she remained adamant. When Sa’d realised that his cajoling and coaxing won’t work, he said to his mother, “O Mother! In spite of my strong love for you, my love for Allah and His Messenger is indeed stronger. By Allah, if you had a thousand souls and each one was to depart one after another, I would not abandon this religion for anything.” Seeing the conviction of Sa’d towards his faith, she relented and started eating.
It was Sa’d whose blood got boiled at the sight of seeing the idolaters harassing and interrupting Muslims who were praying peacefully in the glens of Makkah as praying openly would invite more persecution. Sa’d got infuriated by this and hit the disbeliever with the jawbone of a camel and wounded him. This was the first bloodshed that happened between Islam and Kufr and later this valiant attitude of Sa’d became very instrumental in the various battles fought during and after the time of the Messenger of Allah where he displayed his real mettle and valour.
Sa’d fought bravely in the battles and it was in the Battle of Uhud where he showed his brilliance by saving the Messenger of Allah from the arrows and spears of the disbelievers. When retreat was ordered and everyone ran to the mountain in order to save themselves, the Messenger of Allah got exposed and disbelievers started attacking him. Seeing this, Sa’d valiantly went to save the Messenger and started shooting arrows in order to defend the Messenger. It was on this gallantry of Sa’d that the Messenger said, “Irmi Sa’d Fidaka Abi wa Ummi!” (Shoot Sa’d, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you). Ali Ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Never did the Prophet join both, his father and mother, for anyone except Sa’d.” The Messenger was so much pleased with Sa’d that he once prayed for him and said, “O Lord, direct his shooting and respond to his prayers.”
Courage and bravery were not the only qualities which Sa’d had; he was well known for his generosity as well. He was one of the companions of the Messenger of Allah who was blessed by Allah with wealth and he never hesitated in giving his wealth to earn the pleasure of his Lord. It was at the time of the farewell pilgrimage of the Messenger that he fell ill and when the Messenger came to visit him he said, “O Messenger, I have wealth and I only have one daughter to inherit from me. Shall I give two thirds of my wealth as Sa’daqah?” The Messenger replied, “No,” to which Sa’d enquired, “A half,” to which the Messenger again replied, “No”. Then for the third time Sa’d asked, “A third?” “Yes,” said the Messenger of Allah. “The third is much. Indeed to leave your heirs well-off is better than that you should leave them dependent on and to beg from people. If you spend anything seeking to gain thereby the pleasure of Allah, you will be rewarded for it even if it is a morsel that you place in your wife’s mouth.”
Besides the innumerable qualities of head and heart that Sa’d had, he is mostly renowned for his outstanding role of the commander-in-chief that he played in the war against the Persian Empire during the Battle of Al-Qaadisiya. One can imagine the great respect and faith that Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) had for Sa’d as he chose him for one of the most difficult tasks of the time. When he was chosen as a commander-in-chief, Abdur Rahman Ibn Auf (may Allah be pleased with him) said to Umar, “You have chosen well! Who is there like Sa’d?”
Sa’d earlier sent messages to Rustum to accept Islam; however he was a wretched person and was very much involved in his opulence and grandeur and did not listen to the warning of the messenger which Sa’d sent. However when it became evident that the war will take place, then Sa’d put his trust in Allah and despite being seriously ill and having less than one third of the strength of enemy’s army and around one-tenth of the enemy’s weaponry, managed to inflict a defeat on the army of Rustum. The battle was fierce and was fought for over four days and became one of the decisive battles in the world history.
After the Battle at Qaadisiya, within two years Sa’d led another major battle against the Persian Empire and gave them the final blow at Al-Madaain. Hence it was because of the unflinching faith in Allah and the brilliance shown by Sa’d in the battles against the fire-worshippers that the Muslims managed to liberate Persia which finally led to the opening of the doors of east. No surprises, he was given the blessings of Paradise in this world by the Messenger of Allah.