Abu Ubaidah Al Jarra - The Custodian of The Community in Early Islam

Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah (R.A)
Abu Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah RA appearance was striking. He was slim and tall. His face was bright and he had a sparse beard. It was pleasing to look at him and refreshing to meet him. Abu Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah RA was extremely courteous and humble and quite shy. Yet in a tough situation he would become strikingly serious and alert, resembling the flashing blade of a sword in his severity and sharpness. Abu Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah RA was described as the"Amin"or Custodian of Rasulullah's community. His full name was Amir ibn Abdullah ibn al-Jarrah. He was known as Abu Ubaydah. Of him Abdullah ibn Umar, one of the companions of Rasulullah SAW said: "Three persons in the tribe of Quraish were most prominent, had the best character and were the most modest. If they spoke to you, they would not deceive you and if you spoke to them, they would not accuse you of lying: Abu Bakr as-Siddiq RA, Uthman ibn Affan RA and Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah RA "

Abu Ubaidah RA was one of the first persons to accept Islam. Abu Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah RA is a Muslim one day after Abu Bakr RA In fact, it was through Abu Bakr RA that he became a Muslim. Abu Bakr RA took him, Abdur Rahman ibn Auf RA, Uthman ibn Maz'un RA and al-Arqam ibn abi al Arqam RA to Rasulullah SAW and together they declared their acceptance of the Truth. They were thus the first pillars on which the great edifice of Islam was built. Abu Ubaidah RA lived through the harsh experience, which the Muslims went through in Makkah, from beginning to end. With the early Muslims, he endured the insults and the violence, the pain and the sorrow of that experience. In every trial and test he remained firm and constant in his belief in Allah SWT and His Rasul SAW.

One of the most harrowing experiences he had to go through, however, was at the battle of Badr. Abu Ubaidah RA was in the vanguard of the Muslim forces, fighting with might and main and as someone who was not at all afraid of death. The Quraish cavalry were extremely wary of him and avoided coming face to face with him. One man in particular, however, kept on pursuing Abu Ubaidah RA wherever he turned and Abu Ubaidah RA tried his best to keep out of his way and avoid an encounter with him. The man plunged into the attack. Abu Ubaidah RA tried desperately to avoid him. Eventually the man succeeded in blocking Abu Ubaydah's RA path and stood as a barrier between him and the Quraish. They were now face to face with each other. Abu Ubaidah RA could not contain himself any longer. He struck one blow to the man's head. The man fell to the ground and died instantly. Do not try to guess who this man was. It was, as stated earlier, one of the most harrowing experiences that Abu Ubaidah had to go through, how harrowing, it is almost impossible to imagine. The man in fact was Abdullah ibn al-Jarrah, the father of Abu Ubaidah!
The Tomb of Abu Ubaidah ibn Al Jarrah.

Abu Ubaidah obviously did not want to kill his father but in the actual battle between faith in God and polytheism, the choice open to him was profoundly disturbing but clear. In a way it could be said that he did not kill his Father only killed the polytheism in the person of his father. It is concerning this event that Allah SWT revealed the following verses of the Qur'an:

"You will not find a people believing in Allah and the Last Day making friends with those who oppose Allah and His Rasul even if these were their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their clan. Allah has placed faith in their hearts and strengthened them with a spirit from Him. He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which streams flow that they may dwell therein. Allah is well pleased with them and they well pleased with Him. They are the party of Allah. Is not the party of God the successful ones?" (Surah al-Mujadilah 58:22)

The response of Abu Ubaidah RA at Badr when confronted by his father was not unexpected. He had attained a strength of faith in Allah devotion to His religion and a level of concern for the ummah of Muhammad SAW to which many aspired. It is related by Muhammad ibn Ja'far RA a Companion of Rasulullah SAW that a Christian delegation came to Rasulullah and said, "O Abu-l Qasim, send one of your companions with us, one in whom you are well pleased, to judge between us on some questions of property about which we disagree among ourselves. We have a high regard for you Muslim people." "Come back to me this evening," replied the Rasulullah SAW , "and I will send with you one who is strong and trustworthy.'Umar ibn al-Khattab heard Rasulullah SAW saying this and later said: "I went to the Zuhr (midday) Prayer early hoping to be the one who would fit the description of Rasulullah SAW. When Rasulullah SAW had finished the Prayer, he began looking to his right and his left and I raised myself so that he could see me. But he continued looking among us until he spotted Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah RA. He called him and said, 'Go with them and judge among them with truth about that which they are in disagreement." And so Abu Ubaidah RA got the appointment."

Abu Ubaidah RA was not only trustworthy. He displayed a great deal of strength in the discharge of his trust. This strength was shown on several occasions. One day Rasulullah SAW despatched a group of his Sahabah to meet a Quraish caravan. He appointed Abu Ubaidah RA as amir (leader) of the group and gave them a bag of dates and nothing else as provisions. Abu Ubaidah RA gave to each man under his command only one date every day. He would suck this date just as a child would suck at the breast of its mother. He would then drink some water and this would suffice him for the whole day. On the day of Uhud when the Muslims were being routed, one of the mushrikeen started to shout, "Show me Muhammad, show me Muhammad." Abu Ubaidah RA was one of a group of ten Muslims who had encircled the Prophet to protect him against the spears of the Mushrikeen.

Shrines located at the North of Jordan valley 

Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah Arabic: أبو عبيدة عامر بن عبدالله بن الجراح), more commonly known as Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, was one of the ten companions of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) who were promised Paradise . He remained commander of a large section of Muslim armies during the time of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab and was on the list of Umar’s appointed successors to the Caliphate. Abu Ubaydah was one of the first persons to accept Islam. He became a Muslim one day after Abu Bakr. Who was the man whose right hand the Prophet (PBUH) held and said, `In every nation there exists a man worthy of all trust and the trustworthy of this nation is Abu `Ubaidah lbn Al- Jarraah." Who was the man whom the Prophet sent with reinforcements to `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas in the Dhaat As-Salaasil Expedition and made commander of the army that included `Umar and Abu Bakr? Who was this Companion who was the first to be called the Commander of the Commanders? Who was that tall, slim man with gaunt face? Who was that strong, trustworthy man about whom `Umar lbn Al Khattaab said on his deathbed, "If Abu `Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah were alive, I would have entrusted him with the caliphate. 

Allah asked me about him, I would say, I assigned the caliphate to the trustworthy of Allah and His Prophet, Abu `Ubaidah Ibn Al Jarraah, When the Prophet died, Abu Ubeida was among the candidates for the Caliphate. He believed Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq was to lead the Muslims and become Caliph because Prophet Mohammad had asked him to lead prayers Upon his death; Abu Ubeida thus managed to avoid insurrection and disunity amongst Muslims. At the age of 58, he fell victim to the Great Plague that spread through Greater Syria. In the central Jordan Valley, his tomb is a major Islamic center with a mosque, library, and a cultural center, The Trustworthy of This Nation died in the land which he had purified from the paganism of the Persians and the oppression of the Romans. Today in Jordan lie his noble in the central Jordan Valley, died in 639 C.E

When the battle was over, it was found that one of Rasulullah molar teeth was broken, his forehead was bashed in and two discs from his shield had penetrated into his cheeks. Abu Bakr went forward with the intention of extracting these discs but Abu Ubaidah RA said, "Please leave that to me." Abu Ubaidah RA was afraid that he would cause Rasulullah pain if he took out the discs with his hand. He bit hard into one of the discs. It was extracted but one of his incisor teeth fell to the ground in the process. With his other incisor, he extracted the other disc but lost that tooth also. Abu Bakr RA remarked, "Abu Ubaidah RA is the best of men at breaking incisor teeth!" Abu Ubaidah RA continued to be fully involved in all the momentous events during the Rasulullah lifetime.

After the beloved Rasulullah had passed away, the companions gathered to choose a successor at the Saqifah or meeting place of Banu Sa'aadah. The day is known in history as the Day of Saqifah. On this day, Umar ibn al-Khattab said to Abu Ubaidah RA "Stretch forth your hand and I will swear allegiance to you for I heard Rasulullah SAW , 'Every ummah has an amin (custodian) and you are the amin of this ummah.' " "I would not," declared Abu Ubaidah RA "put myself forward in the presence of a man whom Rasulullah SAW commanded to lead us in Prayer and who led us right until Rasulullah demised." He then gave bai'ah (the oath of allegiance) to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq RA. He continued to be a close adviser to Abu Bakr RA and his strong supporter in the cause of truth and goodness. Then came the caliphate of Umar RA and Abu Ubaidah RA also gave him his support and obedience.

Abu Ubaidah Al Jarrah RA did not disobey him in any matter, except one. The incident happened when Abu Ubaidah RA was in Syria leading the Muslim forces from one victory to another until the whole of Syria was under Muslim control. The River Euphrates lay to his right and Asia Minor to his left. It was then that a plague hit the land of Syria, the like of which people had never experienced before. It devastated the population. Saidina Umar RA despatched a messenger to Abu Ubaidah RA with a letter saying: "I am in urgent need of you. If my letter reaches you at night I strongly urge you to leave before dawn. If this letter reaches you during the day, I strongly urge you to leave before evening and hasten to me. When Abu Ubaidah RA received Umar's letter, he said, "I know why the Amir al-Mu'mineen needs me. He wants to secure the survival of someone who, however, is not eternal." So he wrote to Umar RA : "I know that you need me. But I am in an army of Muslims and I have no desire to save myself from what is afflicting them. I do not want to separate from them until Allah wills. So, when this letter reaches you, release me from your command and permit me to stay on." When Saidina Umar RA read this letter tears filled his eyes and those who were with him asked, "Has Abu Ubaidah RA died, O Amir al-Mu'mineen?" "No," said he, "But death is near to him." Saidina Umar's RA intuition was not wrong.

Before long, Abu Ubaidah RA became afflicted with the plague. As death hung over him, he spoke to his army: "Let me give you some advice which will cause you to be on the path of goodness always. "Establish Prayer. Fast the month of Ramadan. Give Sadaqah. Perform the Hajj and Umrah. Remain united and support one another. Be sincere to your commanders and do not conceal anything from them. Don't let the world destroy you for even if man were to live a thousand years he would still end up with this fate that you see me in." "Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah SWT" Abu Ubaidah then turned to Muadh ibn Jabal RA and said, "O Muadh, perform the prayer with the people (be their leader)." At this, his pure soul departed. Muadh got up and said: "O people, you are stricken by the death of a man. By Allah, I don't know whether I have seen a man who had a more righteous heart, who was further from all evil and who was more sincere to people than he, ask Allah SWT to shower His mercy on him and Allah will be merciful to you."