Scene #1 A little plot
Umair Ibn Wahb, one of the of people of Mecca, sitting next to al-Ka3ba very sad and angry after Mecca has been badly defeated in the Battle of Badr. In one thousand soldiers, prepared to their best, Mecca got defeated by the Prophet (PBUH) and his 313 companions in the first serious battle between the two parties. It was a huge shame and a big loss of people and money from Mecca’s side. “If it weren’t for my kids and a debt I have, I would have traveled to Yathreb and killed Muhammad!” Said Umair to his life-long friend Safwan Ibn Ummayah. Safwan, with the very bitter experience of his father being killed in the very same battle, found an opportunity to finish this man (Muhammad) and avenge for his father, “Your kids are like mine and consider your debt paid! Just go and kill Muhammad.” “But how are you going to get there?” Safwan added. Umair answered, “You forgot that my son is a captive there. They have captured him during the battle of Badr. I will pretend that I am there to free him and then kill Muhammad! But please, do not tell anyone about this.”
Umair sent his sword to be sharped and then he gave it to people to cover it with poison and headed to Medina to finish his plot.
Scene #2 Umair arrives to Medina
In Medina, a few of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) were sitting in front of the masjid chatting about the great victory they had in Badr while a camel arrived and parked in front of the masjid. Omar, quickly and seriously said, “That is Umair, the enemy of Allah, came with his sword. I am sure he came for evil.” Running quickly to the masjid and giving heads up to the Prophet (pbuh), “O Messenger of Allah, here he came, the enemy of Allah, Umair Ibn Wahb, with his sword. He looks like he wants evil!” “Let him in Omar.” Said the Prophet (pbuh).
Omar went out, grabbed Umair from his sword belt [controlling him], and told a few people from the people of Medina, “Go sit next to the prophet and keep an eye on this evil man!” When the Prophet (pbuh) saw Omar grabbing him like this, he said, “Release him o Omar. Come close Umair.” And the conversation started.
Umair: Good morning everyone [and this was the usual greeting before Islam]
The Prophet: Allah taught us a greeting better than yours, Umair. Our greeting now is “peace,” the greeting of the people of Paradise!
The Prophet: What brought you here, Umair
Umair: I came to release my son
The Prophet: So, what is this sword you have on you?
Umair: How ugly these swords are! They did not help us in Badr. 😦
The Prophet: Tell me the truth Umair, Is this really what you came for?
Umair (confidently): Yes, I came for nothing but this.
The Prophet: No Umair. Didn’t you sit with Safwan, in Hijr Ismael (a place inside the ka3ba, but partially built and people can actually get into it easily) and you told him … (and the prophet told him exactly what happened)
Umair (shouting): I bear witness that you are the messenger of Allah and only Allah told you this. No one except me and Safwan knew about this and it just happened before I left. Praise be to Allah who guided me to Islam. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah and you are His Messenger
The prophet looked at the people around and told them, “Teach your brother his religion, let him learn the Qur’an, and release his son.” Omar said, “A pig was more beloved to me than Umair and he is now more beloved to me than some of my own children!”
Scene #3: Umair is back to Mecca
While Umair was in Medina learning Islam, Safwan can’t wait to find out what happened. He continued to tell people of Mecca, “Soon you will see good news coming from Medina!” But no news are coming. He became more curious and he kept asking caravans that used to come from the direction of Medina in case something happened until one of the travelers told him, “Yes, Safwan, something serious happened. I heard that Umair became a Muslims and he is now in Medina learning Islam!” That was the saddest news ever. His close friend is now a Muslim? The one who was a pioneer in hurting Muhammad and the Muslims in Mecca and the one who went to finish Muhammad is now a Muslim. What a bad news!
Meanwhile Umair felt that he needs to go back to Mecca. He was a source of oppression to Islam and Muslims in Mecca and he opposed the message of Allah so much. He decided to go back to Mecca on the same camel he came to Medina with holding the same sword he wanted to use to kill the prophet. However, his intention now was different. He went back to Mecca to share the message he believed in with his friends, relatives, and everyone in Mecca. Coming into Mecca, Safwan could not wait to see him. When he entered, Safwan rushed to him and wanted to attack him. Coming to Mecca very confident, holding his sword in his right hand made Safwan think twice before attacking him. Safwan decided to say a few bad words and curses and left the scene very angry.
Umair started sharing the beautiful message of Islam that he learned in the little time he spent in Medina. He was opposed by so many people of Mecca including his close friend Safwan. He hoped so much that Allah guides Safwan the same way He guided him to Islam. But Safwan was very tough. His hatred to the Prophet and to Islam stopped him from even listening to the strong message Umair came back with.
Scene #4 I care about my friend
Umair, after spending a few weeks in Mecca, headed back to Medina with a lot of people whom Allah had guided to Islam through Umair. Umair was so happy that many people was guided to Islam through him but also so sad that his life-long friend is not among them. The journey to Medina was a blessed journey and probably Umair compared it to his original journey that he made to kill the prophet. What a difference!
Umair was next to the prophet, pbuh, all the time, defending him, defending Islam, and helping more and more people to see the beauty that he saw and embrace the guidance he embraced. What a blessed life and what an enjoyable endeavor! It was only one thing that made Umair upset. It is one thing that always brought sadness to his heart. That is his dear friend Safwan. Not only did Safwan reject the message, which is his choice anyway, but also he was one of the toughest enemies to the prophet and to Islam. Safwan was always on the other side of the struggle: Umair is next to the prophet and Safwan is the prophet’s enemy. It was very hard on Umair to see his dear friend in this position knowing that those who oppose Allah and his messenger are waiting for a miserable ending unless they repent.
Scene #5 I saved my friend!
Years passed; Islam got into the hearts of many people; many tribes and families joined Islam; the prophet and his companions were the strongest power in the whole Arab peninsula. After all these years of oppression and struggle against massive wars lead by the super power in the area, Mecca, the Prophet is marching to Mecca in 10,000 soliders. Mecca was then weak, did not know what to do, and was waiting for the Prophet to decide their fate. Forgiving all of them, the Prophet named a few that he did not forgive. Those few were criminals of war. Those who deserve nothing but to be killed.
It was the saddest news ever for Umair. Safwan was among those few. Umair did not know what to do. Should he talk to the prophet? Should he just ignore his friend and leave him for what he deserves? Umair did not wait. He kept looking for Safwan to bring him to the prophet and ask him to forgive him. He could not find him. He learned that he ran away towards the sea to escape. Umair ran to the prophet pbuh and told him, “Safwan Ibn Umaiyah, a leader of his people, ran away from you, please forgive him and give him safety, amy Allah have peace on you!” The prophet answered the same way he would answer when any of his companions come to intercede for those whom he did not forgive, “He is safe!” “O Messenger of Allah. He won’t believe me. Give me something to convince him! Give me your turban that you put while entering Mecca.”
Racing with time, Umair rode his horse towards the west with one goal in mind: to catch Safwan before he reaches the sea. He saw the harbor getting closer; the ship was about to sail; people were getting ready to ride. And to his pleasant surprise he saw his dear friend Safwan getting ready to ride.
Safwan: Hey! Stay away from me! Do not talk to me!
Umair: Safwan, please; I came to you with the protection of the prophet. He is, by Allah, the most honorable, the most gracious, and the most generous person. His honor is your and his victory is yours. (and he showed him the turban). Please do not destroy yourself
Safwan [getting a little calmer]: I am afraid he is going to kill me
Umiar: He is more generous and forbearing than what you think …
After some convincing, Safwan decided to come back with Umair. When they entered Mecca and met the prophet (pbuh). Safwan started quickly saying: “This guy claims that you have given me safety and protection.” The prophet answered, “Yes! He is right!” Safwan said, “Give me two months to think about your religion.” “You have four months and it is your choice.” Answered the prophet. A couple of weeks later and in a nice story, Safwan embraced Islam and this was the happiest day ever not only for Safwan but for his dear friend and our hero, Umair. May Allah be pleased with them and may he have peace and blessings upon our Messenger!
Scene #6 Wael reflecting on the story 1500 years later
- The hearts of people can change, very easily. People are good by nature. They just need someone to touch their hearts and show them the truth. No matter how much bad they appear and how much enmity they display, one should not lose hope in the good in them. Umair came to kill the prophet, he left home as one of the people who call people to Allah. Safwan who was a life-long enemy to Islam, became a Muslim. Every time I see someone who is hostile about Islam and Muslims, anyone who displays nothing but hatred and enmity to us, I have this mixed feeling in my heart. One one hand I say, what an evil person. However, I rectify this feeling with the following statement, “One of the best Muslims ever, Omar ibn al-Khattab, became a Muslim in a process where he was trying to kill the messenger of Islam.” Same applies to Umair and many other people. Of course one should have the balanced position and not a naive position of “loving everyone including the most evil people.” Evil is to be disliked. Evil people is to be opposed and overcome. Evil actions are to be forbidden and spoken against. People who display clear enmity are enemies. However, this should not take the hope that there is good in everyone and our role is to touch this good and bring it up to the surface.
- I have not seen someone who loved his friend this much. He tried with all possible means to help him and bring his heart to this great guidance. Riding a horse and traveling for miles to catch him before he leaves is just something beyond what I personally imagine. He was so afraid that he departs and then dies being on this state of “the enemy of Allah and His Messenger.”
- See how emotions throughout this whole story were rectified and controlled by a solid understanding of Islam and a real commitment to it. Omar, seeing Umair with a sword coming to meet the prophet made him embrace one role: defending the prophet from this enemy. The prophet giving the honorable label “teach your brother …” to Umair the moment he embraced Islam while his original intent was to kill the prophet. Omar, hating Umair so much, changing this hatred to love more than some of his children. Umair sees his friendship and love to Safwan a motive to share the guidance of Islam with him and save him from the hellfire.
- There is a lot of subtle messages here and there in the story. I will let the reader find them out himself/herself.
We have many friends who are non-Muslims. They are not enemies to us nor did they try to oppose Islam or kill the prophet. As a matter of fact, they are generous to us and hospitable to us. They are colleagues, friends, and co-workers. They are our teachers and our students. They are our neighbors and even our relatives. Shouldn’t they deserve from us much more that what Umair gave to Safwan? I think so and a 100 times more! Let us become REAL friends with people!
Title changed from “Do you have a non-Muslim friend whom you love? Well, here …” to “Do you have a friend whom you love? Well, here …” just to make it more general