Open main menu

Zayd ibn Amr (died 605) was a monotheist who lived in Mecca shortly before Islam.

Contents

FamilyEdit

He was the son of Amr ibn Nufayl, a member of the Adi clan of the Quraysh tribe.[1]:296 Zayd's mother had previously been married to his grandfather, Nufayl ibn Abduluzza, so her son from this marriage, al-Khattab ibn Nufayl, was at the same time Zayd's maternal half-brother and paternal half-uncle.[2]:101

Zayd married Fatima bint Baaja from the Khuza'a tribe, and their son was Sa'id ibn Zayd.[1]:296 A subsequent wife, Umm Kurz Safiya bint al-Hadrami, bore his daughter Atiqa.[3]:186

Religious beliefsEdit

Abandonment of idolsEdit

Zayd became disillusioned with the traditional religion of Arabia, for the stone that the people worshipped "could neither hear nor see nor hurt nor help"[2]:99 and "the worship of stone or hewn wood is nothing."[1]:296 He pledged with three friends that they would seek the true religion of Abraham, which they called al-Hanafiya. The other three men eventually converted to Christianity.[2]:99 Another of his friends was Abdul-Muttalib.[4]

Zayd travelled to Syria to question both Jews and Christians about their beliefs, but he was not happy with the answers of either group. According to later Muslim historians, he had "the religion of Abraham, following the natural form" and "worshipped Allah alone with no partner."[1]:296[5] Amir ibn Rabia, an ally of Zayd's brother al-Khattab, later said that Zayd had told him that he believed in the future coming of a prophet.[1]:296,302

Monotheistic beliefsEdit

Three points of Zayd's religious beliefs were agreed. First, he did not worship idols and he rebuked the Quraysh for doing so.[2]:99 Asma bint Abi Bakr heard him declaring outside the Kaaba: "O Quraysh, none of you is following Abraham's religion except me."[2]:99,100[1]:297 He composed this poem:

Am I to worship one lord or a thousand?
If there are as many as you claim,
I renounce al-Lat and al-Uzza, both of them,
as any strong-minded person would.
I will not worship al-Uzza and her two daughters …
I will not worship Hubal, though he was our lord
in the days when I had little sense.[2]:100

Second, he modified his diet. He did not eat carrion, blood or anything that had been slaughtered for an idol.[2]:99 He told the Quraysh: "Allah has created the sheep and he has sent the rain and the grass for it; yet you don't mention Allah's name when you slaughter it."[6]

Third, he opposed infanticide. He rescued infant girls who were about to be buried alive and brought them up in his own house. When the girls had grown older, he would offer their fathers a choice between taking their daughters back or leaving them to be supported at Zayd's expense.[1]:297–298

Reaction of the QurayshEdit

Zayd's wife Safiya disliked his travels to Syria. Whenever she saw him preparing for a journey, she reported it to al-Khattab, who would reproach Zayd for abandoning their religion. Zayd did not bother to explain himself to al-Khattab, but he rebuked Safiya for trying to humiliate him.[2]:101,102

Al-Khattab harassed Zayd so severely that Zayd was forced to leave the city. He spent the last few years of his life in the mountain-caves surrounding Mecca. Al-Khattab then instructed the "young irresponsible men of the Quraysh" to ensure that Zayd could never enter the city again. Whenever Zayd tried to enter in secret, al-Khattab's men drove him out again.[2]:102–103[7]

DeathEdit

In 605 Zayd was returning from a trip to Syria. Before he reached Mecca, in the country of Lakhm, he was murdered.[2]:102–103 Waraka ibn Nawfal is said to have composed an elegy for him.

You were altogether on the right path, Ibn Amr;
You have escaped Hell’s burning oven
by serving the one and only God
and abandoning vain idols …
for the mercy of God reaches men
though they be seventy valleys deep below the earth.[2]:103

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  4. ^ Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood. "The Prophet's Family Line No 5 Abdul Muttalib". Abdu’l Muttalib matured into a deeply religious man, but in spite of the honour of his position as Guardian of the Ka’bah, he found his personal sympathies lay with the hanifs and not with the multitudes of pagan worshippers who streamed in pilgrimage to the shrine. He used to go off alone to spend long hours of prayer out on the hillsides around Makkah, as his friend Zayd b. Amr the hanif had done.
  5. ^ Bukhari 5:58:169.
  6. ^ Bukhari 5:58:169.
  7. ^ Guillaume, A. (1960). New Light on the Life of Muhammmad, p. 27. Manchester: Manchester University Press.