By KAMRAN SHAHID ANSARI
Saeed bin Zaid belongs to the league of early Muslims (as-Sabiqun al-Awwalun) as he embraced Islam in its initial days and in his early youth. He was married to Fatima, sister of Umar Ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them). Both Zaid and Fatima were steadfast in holding onto the religion even at the time of trials and persecution. They became instrumental in bringing Umar into the fold of Islam as Umar was left bewildered by their extreme love for the newly found religion and hence became curious to know and read the Qur’ān. Saeed’s love for Islam and reverence for the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) can be understood from the fact that he was among the ten who were given glad tidings of Paradise by the Messenger in this life only.
It is interesting to note that the introduction of Saeed is incomplete without the introduction of his father, Zaid Ibn Amr, who even in the times of Jahiliyya (ignorance) was known as a haneef (monotheist). He used to detest the activities of Quraish and openly claimed them baseless for which, most of the time, he had to face persecution and violent harassments. On his journeys in the quest for true religion he was told by a monk that time was near when God would send forth a Prophet. On his way back to Makkah, hoping to witness the emergence of the Prophet, he was killed by the nomads. However before he breathed his last he prayed to God and said, “O Lord, if You have prevented me from attaining this good, do not prevent my son from doing so.” It seems it was this prayer of Zaid that was answered by Allah and his son Saeed bin Zaid accepted Islam at the very outset of it. Saeed did not have any apprehensions in accepting the true religion as he was grown in a household which already abhorred the activities of the pagans and detached themselves from them.
Saeed was a very pious and devoted Muslim and throughout his life held on the teachings of the Messenger of Allah and never swayed away from them. He was also among those who documented the verses of the Qur’ān which were revealed to the Messenger. In the battles Saeed used to be ahead of the Messenger of Allah in order to protect him and during prayers he used to remain behind him. He was a mighty warrior and participated in all the battles along with the Messenger of Allah, except the Battle of Badr, as he and Talha Ibn Obaidullah (may Allah be pleased with him) were sent by the Messenger for some other work outside Medina. However on their return the Messenger gave them their share of the war booty. Saeed was also the commanding officer of the victorious army of the Messenger of Allah which conquered Makkah without bloodshed.
Saeed participated in various battles even after the death of the Messenger of Allah just for the sake of Islam. His love for doing Jihad in the way of Allah can be understood from the extreme displeasure he expressed when once he was appointed as a governor of Damascus without his approval or consent. When he got to know of his appointment, he immediately wrote a letter to Abu Ubayda saying, “I am unable to offer such a sacrifice. You will perform Jihad while I will be deprived of it. Please send someone else to replace me as soon as you receive this letter. I am coming to you soon.” On his return he valiantly partook in the battles in the way of Allah and Islam. He commanded the infantry battalion during the initial battles in Syria and displayed exceptional bravery at the Battle of Ajnadayn. He was also instrumental in the victory of Muslims in the Battle of Yarmuk. The Battle of Yarmuk was a fierce battle as Muslims were outnumbered by their enemies. According to the narrations, at Yarmuk, when Abu Ubayda was motivating the Muslim army and was giving them the glad tidings of paradise, a man came and said, “I have resolved to die this very hour. Have you a message to send to the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace?” Upon hearing such inspiring words from the man, Saeed is reported to have said, “As soon as I heard the man speak and saw him unsheathe his sword and go out to meet the enemy, I threw myself on the ground and crept on all fours and with my spear I felled the first enemy horseman racing towards us. Then I fell upon the enemy and God removed from my heart all traces of fear. The Muslims engaged the advancing Byzantines and continued fighting until they were blessed with victory.”
Saeed after the death of the Messenger served under all the four rightly guided caliphs and was held in high esteem by all of them. And it was only because of the close family ties between Umar and Saeed that Umar did not mention him as a candidate for the leadership of the Muslims, although he was qualified to be in the list, just as he excluded his own son for the candidacy. Saeed never had any feeling of being left out and was among the first Muslims to pledge allegiance to the newly elected caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him). Saeed was in Kufa when he heard the news of the assassination of Uthman and got extremely disgusted. Saeed had great respect for Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and pledged allegiance to him when he became the Khalifa.
Saeed narrated 48 ahadith and died at the age of seventy-nine in 673 C.E. Sad Ibn Abu Waqqas gave him the ghusl and Abdullah Ibn Umar led his funeral prayer.