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IRSYAD AL-HADITH SERIES 421: THE STORY OF ABU UBAIDAH RA KILLING HIS OWN FATHER

irsyad al hadith 421

Question:

Is the claim that Abu Ubaidah RA killed his own father true?

 

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Most commentary scholars commented on the 22nd verse of Surah al-Mujadalah by stating the cause of revelation of it (sabab al-nuzul) is the event of the murder of Abu Ubaidah RA’s father. Among those who state this is Imam Ibn Kathir in his book of commentaries where he cited the opinion of Said bin Abd al-Aziz which is:

وَقَدْ قَالَ سَعِيدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْعَزِيزِ وَغَيْرُهُ: أُنْزِلَتْ هَذِهِ الْآيَةَ {لَا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ} إِلَى آخِرِهَا فِي أَبِي عُبَيْدَةَ عَامِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الْجَرَّاحِ، حِينَ قَتَلَ أَبَاهُ يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ

“Said bin Abd al-Aziz and others who narrated from him stated that this verse (لَّا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ) [Al-Mujadalah: 22] was revealed to Abu Ubaidah ‘Amir bin Abd Allah bin al-Jarrah when he killed his own father on the war of Badr” [Refer: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 8/54]

Referring back to the question asked, this narration or story is recorded by Imam al-Hakim, al-Baihaqi as well as Imam al-Thabarani. For Imam al-Tabarani, he narrated this story in his book under the chapter of the killing of Abu Ubaidah’s father in the war of Badr.

  • It is narrated that Abdullah bin Syauzab said:

جَعَلَ أَبُو أَبِي عُبَيْدَةَ يَتَصَدَّى لِأَبِي عُبَيْدَةَ يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ، فَجَعَلَ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ يَحِيدُ عَنْهُ، فَلَمَّا أَكْثَرَ، قَصَدَهُ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ فَقَتَلَهُ، فَأَنْزَلَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِيهِ هَذِهِ الْآيَةَ حِينَ قَتَلَ أَبَاهُ: {لَا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ} [المجادلة: 22] إِلَى آخِرِ الْآيَةِ

“The father of Abu Ubaidah keeps on chasing his son in the war of Badr, but Abu Ubaidah tried his best to avoid him. When the chase became more persistent, he then faced his father and managed to kill him. Then, Allah SWT revealed this verse from the beginning to the end when the event took place”

  • The saying of Allah SWT in the Quran:

لَّا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ يُوَادُّونَ مَنْ حَادَّ اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَوْ كَانُوا آبَاءَهُمْ أَوْ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ أَوْ إِخْوَانَهُمْ أَوْ عَشِيرَتَهُمْ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ كَتَبَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَأَيَّدَهُم بِرُوحٍ مِّنْهُ ۖ وَيُدْخِلُهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ رَضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ حِزْبُ اللَّـهِ ۚ أَلَا إِنَّ حِزْبَ اللَّـهِ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those - He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him - those are the party of Allah. Unquestionably, the party of Allah - they are the successful

Surah al-Mujadalah (22)

  • Imam al-Baihaqi (458h) stated that the sanad of this hadith is broken in his book after narrating this story. [Refer: al-Sunan al-Kubra, 9/46]
  • Imam al-Zahabi (748h) gave no commentary (not giving any commentary does not mean al-Zahabi agreed with this narration which is viewed as sahih by al-Hakim) upon this narration in al-Mustadrak. [Refer: al-Mustadrak, 3/296]
  • Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (852h) viewed this narration as mu’dhal (there are discontinuations from two narrators or more in a row either at the beginning or the end of the chain) and al-Waqidi refuted this by stating that Abu Ubaidah’s father already died before Islam. [Refer: al-Talkhis al-Habir, 4/273]

Upon reviewing the above narrations, we hereby state that the narration is dhaif (weak) due to the discontinuation in the sanad (chain of narrators). In addition, Imam Ibn Hajar used sighah tamridh (passive voice) when narrating this story that Abu Ubaidah RA killed his father. He mentioned it himself (Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani) in Fath al-Bari where he stated:

وَقُتِلَ أَبُوهُ كَافِرًا يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ وَيُقَالُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الَّذِي قَتَلَهُ وَرَوَاهُ الطَّبَرَانِيُّ وَغَيْرُهُ مِنْ طَرِيقِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ شَوْذَبَ مُرْسَلًا

“His father was killed (father of Abu Ubaidah), who was a disbeliever in the war of Badr and it is said that the one who killed him was his own son (Abu Ubaidah). This is narrated by al-Tabarani and others by the chain of Abdullah bin Syazub in mursal way (where the Companions of the Prophet PBUH are absent from the chain).” [Refer: Fath al-Bari, 7/93]

Closing

In conclusion, indeed there are narrations which state that among the cause of revelation (asbab al-nuzul) for verse 22 in surah al-Mujadalah is based on the event of killing of Abu Ubaidah al-Jarrah’s father in the war of Badr. However, the narration is dhaif (weak) due to the discontinuation of narrators in the chain as evaluated by scholars. Also, it is not a problem to narrate this story when commenting on the 22nd verse of Surah al-Mujadalah because the story has no relation to the issue of aqidah (faith/creed) or Shari’ah (rulings), but more of a historical fact. This is because, a number of mufassirun commenting on the verse included this narration. Lastly, may Allah SWT give us strength in achieving knowledge as well as the true understanding in religion. Ameen.

Wallahu’alam.


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