14 Nov Jafar bin Abi Talib (r.a.)
The Prophet carried out the duty of conveying the message of Islam to people secretly at first; he also worshipped secretly. For this reason, the way of Islam’s worshipping had not been known very well. Once, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was performing a prayer with Hz. Ali. Jafar, Hz. Ali’s brother, saw them and wondered. Then, he found Hz. Ali and asked him what they were doing. Hz. Ali said that this was worshipping Allah Almighty. He gave Jafar some information about Islam. Jafar liked his words very much and immediately became a Muslim by uttering kalima ash-shahada.
At that time, there were very few Muslims and they were not very strong. Therefore, Jafar suffered incredible inflictions and tortures of the polytheists. However, he did not make concessions about his belief.
These inhumane tortures inflicted by the polytheists upon the Muslims distressed the Prophet and made him think. Finally, it was decided for a group of Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia under the leadership of Hz. Jafar. Consequently, 92 muhajirs left their homeland and migrated to Abyssinia.
However, the polytheists did not leave them alone. They prepared valuable gifts for the Negus of Abyssinia and his notable statesmen. They sent Amr bin As and Abdullah bin Abi Rabia to Abyssinia. When they arrived in Abyssinia, they first gave many gifts to the statesmen and made sure that they would support them. Then, they entered into the presence of the Negus and gave him many gifts. They spoke as follows in order to influence the king:
“O King! We warn you about these men, who emerged from us and disturbed our affairs, and who now try to destroy your religion, nation and people. They are some foolish fellows from our people. They abandoned our religion and they did not accept your religion either. They emerged with a new religion that we and you did not know. They do not recognize Jesus, the Son of Mary, as god. They do not prostrate before they enter into your presence. Give them back to us; we will punish them.”
The notables of the people of Abyssinia, who had received gifts from them, confirmed them. “They are telling the truth. They definitely know their fellow people better than others do.”
However, the Negus, the Abyssinian ruler, was a prudent man. He was not fooled by their words. He wanted to search and know the issue. He invited the muhajirs to his presence. The Muslims chose Jafar as their representative. They asked him to give answers to the questions of the Negus; they soon entered into his presence. They greeted the Negus but they did not prostrate before him.
The king asked them why they had come to his country and asked for information about the Prophet. He also asked them why they did not prostrate. Hz. Jafar was a clever person. His rhetoric was very good. He asked the Negus to allow only one of the polytheists to speak as their representative. Then he asked the polytheists the following questions:
“Are we slaves who escaped from their masters? Did we shed someone else’s blood unjustly since they want us? Did we borrow any goods and we did not pay? Are we in debt?”
Amr bin As, who took over the duty of answering Jafar’s questions, said that they were not slaves and that they were free, that they did not shed anyone’s blood and that they did not owe any money to anyone. He said, “We demand them because they left our religion and accepted Muhammad’s religion.”
Upon this answer, Hz. Jafar took the floor and made the following eloquent speech, which convinced and satisfied the Negus and which became a means of his accepting Islam:
“O King! We were ignorant people worshipping idols. We used to eat the flesh of dead animals and commit all sorts of evil deeds. We used to break off our relationships with our relatives and wrong our neighbors. The strong ones among us used to wrong the weak ones. We were in such a situation. Almighty Allah sent us from among us a prophet whose ancestors, honesty, reliability chastity and cleanliness we knew. He invited us to believe in Allah and His unity, to worship Him, and to leave the idols that we and our ancestors had been worshipping. He commanded us to be honest, to return the things entrusted to us, to get along well with neighbors, to avoid committing sins and shedding blood. He prohibited us from all kinds of immorality, telling lies, appropriating the goods of orphans and slandering chaste women.”
After this speech, which contained the ethical principles of a society, Hz. Jafar explained why they did not prostrate when they entered into the presence of the Negus as follows: “We seek refuge in Allah from prostrating before anyone except Allah.”
After this conversation, the Negus asked Jafar, “Do you have anything that came from Allah with you?” Thereupon, Jafar read a few verses from the chapter of Maryam. The sun of guidance of rose in the heart of the Negus after these verses. He could not help speaking as follows:
“I would like to congratulate you and the person you mention. I bear witness that he is the Messenger of Allah. By Allah, if he were in my country, I would carry his shoes and wash his feet.”
The Negus later said that he did not need the gifts the polytheists brought as bribery and ordered them to be returned.
The muhajirs lived peacefully in Abyssinia after the Negus became a Muslim and protected them by saying, “I will not agree if one of you is harmed even if I am offered to have gold as big as a mountain. Go and live in my country in peace and security.” They tried to spread Islam in Abyssinia. After a while, they migrated to Madinah.
When the muhajirs returned, the mujahids had conquered Khaybar. The Prophet became very happy when they, especially Jafar, returned. He embraced him, hugged him, kissed his forehead and expressed his joy as follows:
“I do not know to be happy for which one: the conquest of Khaybar, or Jafar’s arrival.” ( Sirah, 1: 356. )
The Companion who resembled the Prophet in terms of ethics and body structure was, Jafar, Ali’s brother. He had a different place in the eye of the Prophet. Hz. Jafar was called “the father of the poor”. Jafar protected all of the poor but he protected and met the needs of especially Ashab as-Suffa, the Muslims who were busy with learning knowledge and service of belief. The following statement of Abu Hurayra, who was a prominent figure of Ashab as-Suffa, expresses this very well:
“We addressed Jafar bin Abu Talib as ‘the father of the poor’. Whenever we went to him, he would treat us what was ready. Many people say to me, ‘You narrate too many hadiths.’ I always found it enough to have some food and be together with the Messenger of Allah all the time. I never wanted to find delicious food or new clothes. I would not want anyone to serve me. I sometimes tied a stone on my stomach to suppress my hunger. Jafar bin Abu Talib, who was the person who helped the poor the most, would often pick us up, take us to his house and treat us food.” ( Tabaqat, 4: 34; Tirmidhi, Manaqib: 30. )
Hz. Jafar was not only a good orator and a philanthropist who protected the poor but also a heroic mujahid in the way of Allah. His heroism in the Battle of Muta against the Byzantines was recorded as a golden page in history. After Zayd bin Haritha was martyred, he held the standard upon the instruction of the Messenger of Allah. However, his soul was trying to show him the world lovable and the world ugly. Hz. Jafar silenced the voice of his soul by saying, “You want me to love the world but now it is time to strengthen the belief in the hearts of the believers.”
He attacked the ranks of the enemy heroically. He continued swinging his sword around though he knew that he was going to be martyred. On the one hand, he was swinging his sword and on the other hand, he was encouraging the mujahids by saying, “Paradise is good and approaching Paradise is also good. Its sherbets are sweet and cold.” Hz. Zayd’s martyrdom demoralized the mujahids and demotivated them a bit. However, thanks to the courage and heroism of Jafar, they became strong again. They started to attack again like eagles.
However, the hostile eyes were constantly on Jafar and looking for ways of martyring him. Finally, a soldier approaching him slyly cut off his hand with his sword. He started to hold the standard with his left hand at once. When his left hand was also cut off, he held the standard with his amputated arms. He did not drop the standard until he was martyred. Finally, he became a martyr.
Abdullah bin Umar stated that there were more than 90 wounds of sword and spear on Jafar’s body.
While the Battle of Mute was taking place, the Prophet (pbuh) was giving advice to the believers on the pulpit in Madinah. Allah Almighty showed him scene of the battle exactly. He informed his Companions that Jafar had also been martyred along with the other commanders. He said, “Allah gave him two wings in return for his two hands that had been cut off. He flew to Paradise with them.” ( Usdul-Ghaba, 1: 358. ) After this, Hz. Jafar, was mentioned as “Dhuljanahayn (the one having two wings)” and “Tayyar (flier)” among the Companions.
May Allah be pleased with him!