Amr ibn Al ‘As was a walking testimony that proved a person’s past does not define them. From vigorously fighting against the prophet ﷺ in the battle of Uhud to ultimately conquering the beautiful land of Egypt with a mere 4,000 men and bringing it under the banner of Islam, he proved to be instrumental to the expansion of the Muslim Ummah. The trajectory of the immediate family of Amr ibn Al ‘As with regards to his father and son and their lifestyles is a very interesting point of comparison. Amr ibn Al ‘As was the father of the great Zaahid/’Aabid (Worshiper) Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al ‘As, and he was also the son of the treacherous and evil Al ‘As ibn Waa’il. We will have a separate post in this series for Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al ‘As because he has his own remarkable story. However, before exploring the story of the great companion, politician and military commander, Amr ibn Al ‘As let’s take a look into the stories of his father Al ‘As ibn Waa’il and brother Hisham ibn Al ‘As.
Al ‘As ibn Waa’il
Al ‘As ibn Waa’il is considered to be one of the worst enemies of Islam. Having noble prestige and wealth within Makkah, he made sure to make his presence felt when the message began to spread in the early stages of Islam. He was one of the chiefdoms of the Quraish. As was explained in other posts, the Quraish had many sub-branch tribes which caused rivalry and competition between people who were essentially family. The Banu Hashim, Banu Ummaya, and Banu Maghzum were the three main subbranch tribes under the Quraish. Al ‘As ibn Waa’il was not from any of these three tribes but rather he stemmed from the Banu Sahm.
The lineage of the Banu Sahm connects with the lineage of the Banu Hashim at Ka’ab ibn Lu’ay. When the prophet ﷺ began preaching openly in Makkah, Al ‘As was one of the first people to approach the uncle of the prophet ﷺ Abu Talib and request him to abandon the prophet ﷺ through excommunication. This daring plea was obviously rejected by Abu Talib, so Al ‘As began resorting to open mockery and defamation of the prophet ﷺ. Of the people who began to mock the prophet ﷺ openly was Al-Walid ibn Mughira the chiefdom of the Banu Maghzum, who the prophet ﷺ so dearly wanted to accept Islam. We will get to his story in the post about Khalid ibn Walid since he is the father of Khalid ibn Walid.
The unfaithful Al ‘As ibn Waa’il is referenced in many places in the Quran. When Abdullah, the son of the prophet ﷺ passed away, Al ‘As went around Makkah telling everyone that the lineage of the prophet ﷺ has been cut off and hence his message would die with him. He kept on repeating the statement “قد بتر محمد – Muhammed ﷺ is cut off. “He rejoiced in the loss of the son of the prophet ﷺ, so Allah swt revealed one of the most beautiful Surahs in the Quran.
Surah Kawthar (The Abundance)
إِنّا أَعطَيناكَ الكَوثَرَ
Indeed, We have granted you ˹O Prophet˺ abundant goodness. (Kawthar: 1)
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانحَر
So pray and sacrifice to your Lord alone. (Kawthar: 2)
إِنَّ شانِئَكَ هُوَ الأَبتَرُ
Indeed, your enemy is the one cut off. (Kawthar: 3)
Additionally, Al ‘As was one of the main Qurashi’s who was responsible for attempting to come to a theological compromise with the Muslims which logically and morally did not make any sense. They proposed that the Muslims worship the idols for one year and the next year the pagan Quraish would worship Allah swt through a rotational type scheme. This is when Allah swt revealed the entire Surah Kafiroon which ended with the verse:
لَكُم دينُكُم وَلِيَ دينِ
For you is your religion, and for me is my religion. (Kafiroon:6)
To further highlight the subpar and despicable character of Al ‘As, there is one story collected by early historians we can take a look at. It is said that he purchased a set of swords and weapons from the companion Khabbab ibn al Arat. Khabbab was one of the early converts to Islam who was severely tortured. He served as an ironsmith who made weapons and swords. Upon verbally agreeing to purchase the goods, Al ‘As left and went about his day until it was time to return and pick them up. When he approached Khabbab, he wanted to take the goods without paying him the wages because he figured out Khabbab was upon the deen of Muhammed ﷺ. He told Khabbab to denounce the religion of Islam. Khabbab replied by saying, “Wallahi I will not reject Muhammed ﷺ until you die and are resurrected.” This showed his affirmation and dedication to adhering to the religion of Allah and his messenger ﷺ.
Al ‘As then began to mock the concept of resurrection by saying, “You think that when I die, I will be resurrected, and you teach that when we are resurrected, we will be with our families and children. You also preach that we will be in gardens and will be given wealth and gold. Therefore, when I am resurrected, I will pay you back.” Khabbab was very frustrated and upset at this mockery, so he rushed to the prophet ﷺ and complained to him. That is when Allah swt revealed certain verses in Surah Maryam.
Surah Maryam (Mary)
أَفَرَأَيتَ الَّذي كَفَرَ بِآياتِنا وَقالَ لَأوتَيَنَّ مالًا وَوَلَدًا
Then, have you seen he who disbelieved in Our verses and said, “I will surely be given wealth and children [in the next life]?” (Maryam:77)
أَطَّلَعَ الغَيبَ أَمِ اتَّخَذَ عِندَ الرَّحمٰنِ عَهدًا
Has he looked into the unseen, or has he taken from the Most Merciful a promise? (Maryam:78)
كَلّا ۚ سَنَكتُبُ ما يَقولُ وَنَمُدُّ لَهُ مِنَ العَذابِ مَدًّا
Not at all! We certainly record whatever he claims and will increase his punishment extensively.
وَنَرِثُهُ ما يَقولُ وَيَأتينا فَردًا
And We will inherit what he boasts of, and he will come before Us all by himself.
Soon after this incident, the Muslims were still being persecuted and mocked so the prophet ﷺ made sincere dua to Allah swt to deal with those who mocked and ridiculed him publicly. Allah swt then revealed amazing verses in Surah Hijr that are some of my favourite in the Quran. After these verses were revealed, Al ‘As ibn Waa’il and others who mocked the prophet ﷺ were inflicted with severe diseases that eventually led to their miserable deaths before the Muslims even migrated to Madinah.
Surah Hijr (The Rockery Tract)
إِنّا كَفَيناكَ المُستَهزِئينَ
Surely We will be sufficient for you against the mockers. (Hijr: 95)
الَّذينَ يَجعَلونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلٰهًا آخَرَ ۚ فَسَوفَ يَعلَمونَ
Who set up other gods with Allah. They will soon come to know. (Hijr: 96)
وَلَقَد نَعلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضيقُ صَدرُكَ بِما يَقولونَ
We certainly know that your heart is truly distressed by what they say. (Hijr: 97)
فَسَبِّح بِحَمدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُن مِنَ السّاجِدينَ
So glorify the praises of your Lord and be one of those who always pray. (Hijr:98)
وَاعبُد رَبَّكَ حَتّىٰ يَأتِيَكَ اليَقينُ
And worship your Lord until the inevitable comes to you. (Hijri:99)
Al ‘As ibn Waa’il had two sons who embraced Islam. The older one is Amr ibn Al ‘As who is the main focus of this post. The second son was a bit younger and his name was Hisham ibn Al ‘As. Hisham was tortured by his father during the early persecution phase, but he eventually was able to escape to Abyssinia. When he heard that the prophet ﷺ was migrating to Madinah, he came back to Makkah to gather a few of his belongings and settle some affairs before heading out to Madinah as well. Despite his father already passing away by the time he came back to Makkah, Hisham was captured by his tribe, the Banu Sahm, and placed into an improvised Jail. It was an abandoned house where he would be given the necessities to barely be able to live. Hisham was trapped in this improvised Jail for many years. The battle of Badr and Uhud both passed by and he was still in this prison.
One day the prophet ﷺ asked the Sahaba who would be able to go on a mission to Makkah and free Hisham and one other companion who was also trapped with him. It was a daring raid upon Makkah at a very dangerous time. Walid ibn Walid, the older brother of Khalid ibn Walid volunteered. He embarked on his horse and camped out on the outskirts of Makkah while analyzing the villages and neighbourhoods from afar. He noticed a woman entering a house consecutive times to bring basic necessities and food. Walid observed very closely and in the middle of the night when the coast was clear, he made his way out to the house. He found both Hisham and the other Sahaabi in there, unshackled them, and put them on the back of his horse. All three made their way back to Madinah in safety and well-being.
The Story of Amr ibn Al ‘As
It’s important to learn the story of Amr ibn Al ‘As from the correct Sunni understanding and scholars of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaa. As Muslims, we are required to respect, revere, and uphold all of the companions of the prophet ﷺ. To his advantage and advantage of the Muslims at large, Amr ibn Al ‘As was naturally a sharp politician and tactical genius. His instincts and ability to read through situations accurately before making decisive moves was undeniably one of the best amongst all of the companions of the prophet ﷺ. His story first starts early on during the initial migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia. Keep in mind that Amr is not a Muslim at this stage. Alright, So what happened in East Africa?
A group of Muslims migrated to Abyssinia after being persecuted by the Quraish in Makkah. Their main leader was Ja’far ibn Abi Talib and the main narrator whom we get most of the stories about Abyssinia from is Ummi Salama. The Muslims took refuge under the protection of King Najashi and after a short, while the Quraish sent Amr ibn Al ‘As and Abdullah ibn Abi Rabee’a to Abyssinia to negotiate with King Najashi in hopes of convincing him to return the Muslims to Makkah. Amr ibn Al ‘As came with a well-thought-out strategy before his arrival. The night before he met with Najashi, Amr devised a plan to visit all of the ministers and bishops of the King and bribe them with beautiful gifts of camel hides. He spoke to them about his purpose of scheduling a meeting with King Najashi and left a positive impression.
The next morning, Amr was summoned to King Najashi’s Court. As soon as he walked in, he gave the King beautiful gifts and greeted him with the utmost respect. Najashi already knew of Amr from before because of former interactions and encounters. Amr began his appeal and accused the Muslims who escaped of causing havoc and mischief. He told the Najashi that they went against the religions of their forefathers and are not upon our religion (Idolotary) or your religion (Christianity). Amr humbly asked Najashi to send the Muslims back to Makkah by expelling them from Abysina due to their rebellion. The patriarch of the Church, right-hand men of Najashi, and ministers all agreed with Amr’s appeal. However, as we learn from the Seerah, Najashi was a pious and upright man even before his conversion to Islam. Hence, he made clear that it would be unethical for him to grant Amr his request and expel the Muslims who sought refuge in his land without listening to their side of the story.
Amr was taken back after witnessing the reaction of King Najashi in fear that Ja’far and the Muslims would persuade him otherwise. The Muslims were summoned by Najashi to the court and were asked to send forth a representative. Ja’far despite being only 21 years of age at the time was chosen. He was known for his courage, elegant appearance, and eloquence. Ja’far went forth and gave one of the greatest speeches about Islam recorded in all of the Islamic history books. A speech that can be written in gold and used to construct an entire Dawah seminar. Najashi immediately melted and asked Ja’far if he could recite any of that which was revealed to the prophet ﷺ. Out of his wisdom, he chose to recite Surah Maryam up until the verse:
ما كانَ لِلَّهِ أَن يَتَّخِذَ مِن وَلَدٍ ۖ سُبحانَهُ
“It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! …”
The bishops, ministers, and Najashi all wept together. Najashi stood up and while drawing a line in the sand with a twig said, “What you have brought and what Jesus has brought are from the same niche. What is between you and us is no greater than this line.” He then turned to Amr and said, “Wallahi I will never give them up to you and they will never be betrayed.” Abdullah ibn Abi Rabee’a who was with Amr ibn Al-As told him it was best if they just headed back out and left the scene at this point. However, Amr was adamant about not giving up, so he came up with a scheme to try and change the mind of Najashi. After regrouping, he went back to Najashi and told him, “The Muslims said Jesus is nothing more than a creation.” Amr did this in an attempt to incorrectly paint the perception of Muslims about Jesus to be offensive and demeaning.
Upon hearing this, Najashi summoned the Muslims again. Ibn Ishaaq collects in his works based on the narrations of Ummi Salama that the Muslims were terrified when they learned about the reason they were being summoned again. They felt that they may offend Najashi if they spoke the truth about Jesus and this would cause him to expel them from East Africa. Unwaveringly, Ja’far said, “Wallahi we will not say other than what our prophet ﷺ told us to say. We will not change or increase anything. We will speak the truth regardless of the consequence.”
Ja’far began to explain the Muslim’s correct perspective of Jesus. He explained that Jesus was a noble prophet, the son of the virgin Mary, and many other noble details about Prophet Isa. That’s when Najashi picked up his twig again and said in response to Ja’far, “ما خرج عيسى ابن مريم عن هذا العود – Isa a.s did not give to himself more than this line. He did not go anywhere beyond this.” The bishops and ministers were so outraged and began to grunt. Najashi granted the Muslims freedom and protection in Abyssinia and even remarked that anyone who cursed the Muslims would be fined. Amr and Abdullah were given back their bribes and gifts. Everyone was dismissed from the courtroom aside from Ja’far and King Najashi privately embraced Islam.
Embracing of Islam
Moving forward, upon returning to Makkah Amr fought against the Muslims in the Battle of Badr, the Battle of Uhud and the Battle of the Trench. Al-Suhaily, one of the great compilers of the Seerah explained that after the battle of Uhud the prophet ﷺ was visibly frustrated and distressed. Many of the Sahaba passed away including his uncle Hamza. The prophet ﷺ also suffered many wounds in the battle, so he raised his hands in the air and made dua against a few of the main enemies by name including Abu Sufyaan and Amr ibn Al As. Out of sadness, the prophet ﷺ said, “How can Allah swt ever forgive a people who have done this to their prophet”. That is when verse 128 of Surah Alaa Emraan was revealed.
لَيسَ لَكَ مِنَ الأَمرِ شَيءٌ أَو يَتوبَ عَلَيهِم أَو يُعَذِّبَهُم فَإِنَّهُم ظالِمونَ
Not for you, [O Muhammad, but for Allah], is the decision whether He should [cut them down] or forgive them or punish them, for indeed, they are wrongdoers. (Alaa Emraan:128)
Allah swt affirmed to the prophet ﷺ that indeed they were the wrongdoers. However, passing judgment is a duty that only belongs to Allah swt. The prophet ﷺ was the greatest human being to ever walk on this earth but a lesson we can take from this is that forgiveness, punishment, and final verdicts are only in the hands of Allah swt. If this was the case with the prophet ﷺ with regards to the disbelievers, what do you suppose about those within our midst who shun other MUSLIMS away? We ask Allah swt for guidance and wellbeing.
The next battle that ensued after the Battle of Uhud was the Battle of the Trench. After Allah swt gave the Muslims a miraculous victory against the confederates in the Battle of the Trench, Amr’s political instincts and wise decision-making skills ticked off again. He was the first to understand amongst the Quraish that it would only be a matter of time before the Muslims would end up conquering Makkah. Here is a look into his mindset of him narrating in the first person:
“When I came back from Khandaq, I went to my group of friends and I said to them that we should leave Makkah and go to Abyssinia because one of two things will happen. Either Muhammed ﷺ will come and conquer Makkah in which case we would have escaped and would be living in peace in Abyssinia. In the slim chance that the Quraish win over the Muslims and eliminate them, we would not have humiliated ourselves because we are respected among the Quraish and we will be able to come.”
Amr’s friends agreed with him and they withdrew from their fight against the Muslims by embarking on a trip to Abyssinia. This was during the 7th year after the Hijra, one year before the Muslim’s conquest of Makkah. Amr went to go visit Najashi to get his permission to stay and upon entering to meet him, he saw one of the companions of the prophet ﷺ who was also present delivering a message to Najashi. The sahabi was essentially sent to Abyssinia to inform Najashi that the Muslims who took refuge there can return to Madinah now since the Muslims have become established. Amr immediately felt a sense of hostility and anger because he had previous animosity and history during the battles that have passed with that companion. He wanted to fight him and kill him so he humbly asked the Najashi to temporarily lift off the security from the Sahabi so they could have a 1 vs 1 duel.
Upon hearing this, Najashi became very angry and exploded In front of Amr. It is reported that when Amr saw Najashi become very angry he wished that the earth swallowed him up. Standing in front of a king on his land is not an easy position to be in. Amr immediately apologized and Najashi said, “Do you wish me to hand over the envoy of the one whom the Ruuh Al Qudud (Angel Jibreel) comes and visits? The same spirit that visited Musa a.s also visits that man.” Amr realized that Najashi became Muslim and this struck him. Remember how we said Najashi embraced Islam privately with Ja’far earlier? Seeing this level of conviction from an individual who has not even met the Prophet ﷺ yet touched Amr differently. The perspective of an outsider always helps you see things through a different lens. Amr wanted to hear more, so Najashi began to give Amr Dawah! He converted at the hands of Najashi and the rest is history!
The Last Three to Cross the Finish Line
Upon departing, Amr realized he should make his way to Madinah to give his pledge of allegiance to the prophet ﷺ. He returned to Makkah first and then made his way to the city of palm trees! On the way to Madinah, he met up with Khalid ibn Walid, the Sword of Allah and Uthmaan ibn Talha, the keeper of the keys of the Ka’bah. After some short discussions, they realized they were all headed to Madinah for the same reason, to give their pledge of allegiance to the prophet ﷺ and be with the Muslims. These were the LAST three people to attain the virtue of being a Muhajir (One who travelled for the cause of Allah and his messenger before the conquest of Makkah to join the Muslims). Muhajiroon have a special rank and these three Sahaba barely made it through the open window. This is also an indication of the true faith and status of Amr ibn Al ‘As. As the prophet saw said in a famous hadith:
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ لَهِيعَةَ، عَنْ مِشْرَحِ بْنِ هَاعَانَ، عَنْ عُقْبَةَ بْنِ عَامِرٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ أَسْلَمَ النَّاسُ وَآمَنَ عَمْرُو بْنُ الْعَاصِي ” . قَالَ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ غَرِيبٌ لاَ نَعْرِفُهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ حَدِيثِ ابْنِ لَهِيعَةَ عَنْ مِشْرَحِ بْنِ هَاعَانَ وَلَيْسَ إِسْنَادُهُ بِالْقَوِيِّ
Narrated ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The people submitted while ‘Amr bin Al-‘As believed.” (Collected in Tirmidhi)
There is also a long Hadith in Sahih Muslim in which Amr is speaking in the first person on his death bed which we will get to at the end of this post. A part of the hadith explains to us an instance that happened when Amr came into direct contact with the prophet ﷺ to give his pledge of allegiance.
Amr said: “…When Allah instilled the love for Islam in my heart, I went to Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said, ‘Extend your right hand, so that I pledge allegiance to you.’ He (ﷺ) stretched out his right hand, but I withdrew my hand. He said, ‘What is the matter, ‘Amr?’ I said, ‘I wish to lay down some conditions.’ He asked, ‘What conditions do you wish to put forward?’ I replied, ‘To be granted forgiveness.’ He said, ‘Do you not know that (embracing) Islam wipes out all that has gone before it (previous misdeeds). Verily, emigration wipes out all the previous sins, and the Hajj (pilgrimage) wipes out all the previous sins.’ Thereafter, no one was dearer to me than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and none was more respectable than him in my eyes. So bright was his splendour that I could not gather enough courage to look at his face for any length of time. If I were asked to describe his feature, I would not be able to do so because I have never caught a full glimpse of his face …”
This was the beauty and character of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, may Allah swt be pleased with all of them. It also narrated that the prophet ﷺ was so kind and loving to Amr after he embraced Islam that he thought he was the most beloved to the prophet ﷺ. He went to the prophet ﷺ and asked him:
يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَحَبُّ إِلَيْكَ قَالَ ” عَائِشَةُ ” . قُلْتُ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ قَالَ ” أَبُوهَا ”
‘O Messenger of Allah! Who is the most beloved to you among the people?’ He said: ”Aishah.’ I said: ‘From the men?’ He said: ‘Her father.'”
We learn from this that although the prophet ﷺ loved certain people the most, all of the companions around him felt that they were the most beloved to him based on the way the prophet ﷺ treated them. His caring capacity, kindness, and attention to providing solace is a beautiful example we can learn from and emulate in our daily lives.
The Battle of Dhatis-Salaasil
Another beautiful encounter between the prophet ﷺ and Amr ibn Al ‘As is when the prophet ﷺ wanted to deploy him as the leader of the expedition known as Dhatis-Salasil.
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ يَزِيدَ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ عَلِيٍّ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبِي يَقُولُ: سَمِعْتُ عَمْرَو بْنَ الْعَاصِ قَالَ: بَعَثَ إِلَيَّ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَمَرَنِي أَنْ آخُذَ عَلَيَّ ثِيَابِي وَسِلاَحِي، ثُمَّ آتِيهِ، فَفَعَلْتُ فَأَتَيْتُهُ وَهُوَ يَتَوَضَّأُ، فَصَعَّدَ إِلَيَّ الْبَصَرَ ثُمَّ طَأْطَأَ، ثُمَّ قَالَ: يَا عَمْرُو، إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَبْعَثَكَ عَلَى جَيْشٍ فَيُغْنِمُكَ اللَّهُ، وَأَرْغَبُ لَكَ رَغْبَةً مِنَ الْمَالِ صَالِحَةً، قُلْتُ: إِنِّي لَمْ أُسْلِمْ رَغْبَةً فِي الْمَالِ، إِنَّمَا أَسْلَمْتُ رَغْبَةً فِي الإِسْلاَمِ فَأَكُونُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، فَقَالَ: يَا عَمْرُو، نِعْمَ الْمَالُ الصَّالِحِ لِلْمَرْءِ الصَّالِحِ
‘Amr ibn al-‘As said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sent for me. He commanded me to put on my clothes and arms and come to him. I did that and came to him while he was doing wudu’. He looked at me and then lowered his eyes. then he said, ”Amr, I want to put you in charge of an army, and Allah will give you booty. I will give you a correct portion of the spoils.’ I said, ‘I did not become Muslim out of the desire for property. I became Muslim out of the desire for Islam and so that I would be with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.’ He said, ”Amr! Sound property is very excellent for a sound man!'”
We learn from this Hadith that aiming to seek the pleasure of Allah swt and be of those who follow and love the prophet ﷺ does not mean we must deprive ourselves of good and sound wealth. For verily, sound wealth and property are excellent and befitting of a sound and righteous man. This hadith also indicates that Amr ibn Al ‘As was a sound and upright man. When they went on this expedition and reached enemy territory Amr called for reinforcements because they needed help. The prophet ﷺ send another contingent of 200 which was led by Abu Ubayda Amir ibn Al-Jarrah. Among those 200 men were Abu Bakr and Umar. The Muslims were successful in the expedition and Amr did end up getting lots of wealth from it.
During the time of Abu Bakr, Amr was appointed as a military commander. He was also vital in the battle of Yarmuk serving as the right-hand man of Khalid ibn Walid when the Muslims went out to conquest Sham during the time of Umar ibn Khattab. Much of modern Palestine which used to be part of Sham was conquered by Amr ibn Al ‘As. After the Muslims achieved much success, Amr using his political genius, proposed an unbelievable idea to Umar ibn Khattab. Amr informed Umar that if the Muslims wanted to be safe from the Roman threats from up above, they must march into Egypt and strip it away from Roman rule. This was a bold idea and capturing Egypt would weaken the Roman empire drastically.
Umar agreed to the idea of Amr and equipped him with 4,000 men. Entering the intellectual capital of the world which was enriched with civilization, ancient knowledge, and amazing architecture, the Muslims were able to conquer within a few years. One of the miracles that Allah swt gave the first generation led by the Sahaba was the ability to conquer major lands with limited numbers and resources. Amr strategically built the first Egyptian capital under Muslim rule named Fustaat near the Nile river. This capital eventually became what we know today as Old Cairo. Fustaat is in the dead center of modern Cairo. The Fatimids; an empire that came generations after decided they wanted to build a new capital because they disagreed with the general Muslim ummah. They founded Cairo or “Qaahira” which was literally a few miles away from Fustaat and hence Cairo extended into the ancient city of Fustaat. The Muslims also conquered Alexandria which was right next to an essential port for the Romans.
Amr was appointed the governor of Egypt by Umar ibn Khattab. He served for many years until he was replaced by Uthmaan ibn Affan before being reinstated during the time of Mu’awiyah. He passed away in Egypt during the year 43AH at 88 years old. When he was on his death bed his son the great Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al ‘As was with him. The story of their beautiful encounter is in the following Hadith:
Final Moments of a Noble Companion
Ibn Shumasah reported:
We visited ‘Amr bin Al-‘as (May Allah be pleased with him) when he was on his deathbed. He wept for a long time and turned his face towards the wall. His son said: “O father, did not the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) give you the good news of such and such? Did he not give you glad tidings of such and such?” Then he (‘Amr) turned his face towards us and said: “The best thing which you can count upon is the affirmation that: La ilaha illallah (there is no true god except Allah), and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. I have passed through three phases. I remember when I hated none more than I hated the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and there was no other desire stronger in me than that of killing him. Had I died in that state, I would have definitely been one of the dwellers of Fire (Hell).
When Allah instilled the love for Islam in my heart, I went to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said, ‘Extend your right hand, so that I pledge allegiance to you.’ He (ﷺ) stretched out his right hand, but I withdrew my hand. He said, ‘What is the matter, ‘Amr?’ I said, ‘I wish to lay down some conditions.’ He asked, ‘What conditions do you wish to put forward?’ I replied, ‘To be granted forgiveness.’ He said, ‘Do you not know that (embracing) Islam wipes out all that has gone before it (previous misdeeds). Verily, emigration wipes out all the previous sins, and the Hajj (pilgrimage) wipes out all the previous sins.’ Thereafter, no one was dearer to me than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and none was more respectable than him in my eyes. So bright was his splendour that I could not gather enough courage to look at his face for any length of time. If I were asked to describe his feature, I would not be able to do so because I have never caught a full glimpse of his face.
Had I died in that state I could have hoped to be one of the dwellers of Jannah. Thereafter, we were made responsible for many things and in the light of which I am unable to know what is in store for me. When I die, no mourner, nor fire should accompany my bier. When you bury me, throw the earth gently over me and stand over my grave for the space of time within which a camel is slaughtered and its meat is distributed so that I may enjoy your intimacy, and in your presence ascertain what answer can I give to the angle in the grave.”
Cool Facts about Amr ibn Al ‘As
- Based on the final hadith you read we understand that it is encouraged to inform your loved ones of the good they accomplished during their lifetime when they are on their deathbed. This will raise their spirits and hope in Allah swt
- Based on that same hadith we understand that is encouraged to not immediately leave after burying the dead. It is encouraged to stay for some time and keep them company.
- This hadith is also used by the scholars and companions of the prophet ﷺ who argued for the fact that the dead can hear the living. There is a difference of opinion on this and both sides have their proofs and evidence stemming all the way back to the Sahaba
- Amr ibn Al ‘As is not that much younger than the prophet saw. He was of the older Sahaba
- Amr ibn Al ‘As was once asked, “Who is better you or your brother (referring to Hisham)?” Amr replied by saying, “On the night of Yarmuk both my brother and I made dua to Allah swt for Shahadah (Martyrdom) and Allah granted my brother Shahada and he left me on this earth.”
- Amr ibn Al ‘As and Abu Musa Al Ashari were chosen as the two arbitrators to halt the battle of Sifeen. There is an infamous story about their encounter and how the arbitration went which has no authentic basis. In fact, none of the Sunni Historians or Scholars collect or affirm this story which depicted Amr to be a trickster and backstabber. Most of these tales are collected by Abu Mikhnaf Lut ibn Yahya who was an early Shia historian commonly known to Sunni Scholars for his writings of false tales.
- The first mosque to ever be built in Egypt and Africa is the mosque of Amr ibn Al ‘As which was established in the city of Fushaat now located in Old Cairo.
- Sheikh Muhammed Jibreel leads Taraweeh at the mosque of Amr ibn Al ‘As
- I’ve visited there when I was 10 years old!
My favourite Hadith Narrated by Amr ibn Al ‘As
عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا حَكَمَ الْحَاكِمُ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثُمَّ أَصَابَ فَلَهُ أَجْرَانِ وَإِذَا حَكَمَ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثُمَّ أَخْطَأَ فَلَهُ أَجْرٌ
6919 صحيح البخاري كتاب الاعتصام بالكتاب والسنة باب أجر الحاكم إذا اجتهد فأصاب أو أخطأ
Amr ibn al- ‘As reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning and he is correct, he will have two rewards. If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning and he is mistaken, he will have one reward.”
Source: Sahih Al Bukhari 6919, Sahih Muslim 1716