When the Messenger of Allah, may peace and blessing be upon him, met secretly with Al-Madinah's delegation in the outskirts of Makkah, away from the disbelievers of the Quraysh, twelve representatives of the Ansaar took an oath of allegiance in the first Pledge of 'Aqabah.
'Abdullah ibn Rawahah was one of those representatives who ushered Islaam to Al-Madinah and who paved the way for the Hijrah, which was considered an excellent springboard for Allah's religion, Islaam.
'Abdullah was also one of the great 73 of the Ansaar who gave the Prophet the Second Pledge of 'Aqabah in the following year.
After the Prophet and his Companions emigrated and settled in Al-Madinah, 'Abdullah ibn Rawahah was the most active Muslim of the Ansaar who strived to support the thriving religion.
He was also the most alert Muslim to the plots of 'Abdullah ibn Ubay whom the people of Al-Madinah were about to crown king before the Muslims arrived.
He never got over the bitterness he felt for losing the chance of his lifetime to become a king. Therefore, he used his craftiness to weave deceitful plots against Islaam, while 'Abdullah ibn Rawahah kept on tracing and detecting this craftiness with remarkable insight that frustrated most of Ibn Ubay's manoeuvres and plots.
Ibn Rawahah (may Allah be pleased with him) was a scribe at a time in which writing was not prevalent. He was a poet; his poetry flowed with admirable fluency and strength. Ever since his Islam he devoted his poetic genius to its service.
The Messenger of Allah always admired his poetry, asking him to recite more of it. One day, as he was sitting among his Companions, 'Abdullah ibn Rawahah joined them, so the Prophet asked him, "How do you compose a poem?"
'Abdullah answered, "First I think about its subject matter, then I recite."
He immediately recited,
O the good descendants of Al-Hasyim
Allah raised you to a high station
Of which you are worthy above all mankind.
My intuition made me realise at once
Your excelling nature,
Contrary to the disbelievers belief in you.
If you asked some of them for support and help,
They would turn you down.
May Allah establish the good that descends
On you firmly
And bestow victory upon you as He did to Musa.
The Prophet was elated and said, "I hope that Allah will make your feet firm, too."
When the Prophet was circumambulating the Ka'bah in the compensatory Umrah (minor pilgrimage), lbn Rawahah recited to him,
Were it not for Allah, we would not have been Guided to the Right path nor charitable
Nor able to perform our prayers.
So descend, peace of mind and reassurance,
On us and establish our feet firmly
When we meet our enemy
In combat. If our oppressors tried to spread
Affliction and trial, unrest, among us
We will not give them way.
Muslims reiterated his graceful lines.
The active poet was saddened when the glorious verse descended saying: "And for the poets, only the erring people follow them." (translation of the Quran: Surah Ash-Shu'ara: 224). But soon he was contented to hear another verse saying, "Except those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and remember Allah frequently, and defend themselves after being oppressed." (Ash-Shu'ara: 227)
When Islam rose up in arms in self-defence, Ibn Rawahah provided his service in all the battles: Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq, Al Hudaibiyyah, and Khaibar.
His perpetual slogan was these lines of poetry,
"O my soul, death is inevitable,
so it is better for you to be martyred."
He shouted at the disbelievers in every battle,
"O disbelievers, get out of my way.
My Prophet has all the excellent qualities".
The Battle of Mu’tah started, and, as we have mentioned, he was the third of the Commanders after Zaid and Ja’far. Ibn Rawaahah (May Allah be pleased with him) stood there as the army was about to leave Al- Madiinah and recited:
I truly ask the Most Beneficient’s forgiveness
and a mortal stroke of a sword
that will strike me down
foaming or a mortal stab
with a spear by a stubborn disbeliever
that will make my liver and intestine
show out of my body. So that
when people pass by my grave,
they will say: By Allah, you are
the most righteous warrior.
Indeed, a stroke or a stab that would convey him into the world of rewarded martyrs was his utmost wish. The army marched towards Mu’tah. When the Muslims saw their enemies, they estimated them at 200,000, for they saw endless waves of warriors. The Muslims glanced back at their small group and were stunned. Some of them suggested, “Let us send a message to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to tell him of the enormity of the enemy that surpassed all our expectations so he will either order us to wait for reinforcements or to pierce through the enemy lines.”
However, Ibn Rawaahah stood amidst the lines of the army and said,
“O my people, by Allah, we do not fight our enemies with numbers, strength or equipment, but rather with this religion which Allah has honored us with. So go right ahead: it is either one of two equally good options, victory or martyrdom.”
The Muslims, who were lesser in number and greater in faith, cried out, “By Allah, you spoke the truth.” The smaller army broke through the mighty host of 200,000 warriors in terrible and cruel fighting.
As we have mentioned, both armies met in fierce combat. The first commander, Zaid Ibn Haarithah, was struck down, he winning glorious martyrdom. The second in command was Ja’far Ibn Abi Taalib, who was overjoyed to be martyred. 'Abd Allah took over the command and grabbed the standard from Ja’far’s failing upper arms. The fight reached the peak of ferocity. The smaller army was indistinct amidst the waves of the mighty hosts of Heraclius. When Ibn Rawaahah was a soldier, he attacked heedlessly and confidently. But now the command placed great responsibilities for the army’s safety on his shoulders. It seemed that for a moment he was overtaken by hesitation and dread, yet he instantly shook off those apprehensions, summoned his innate fearlessness and cried out,
“O my soul, you look as if you were afraid to cross the way that leads to Paradise. O my soul, I took an oath to fight. O my soul, death is inevitable, so you had better be martyred. Now I will experience the inevitability of death. What you have cared for so long is finally yours. So go ahead, for if you follow these two heroes, you will be guided to the way of Paradise.”
He meant the two heroes who had preceded him in martyrdom, Zaid and Ja’far. He darted into the Roman armies, fiercely and ruthlessly. Were it not for a previous ordainment from Allah that he was to be martyred on that day, he would have annihilated the fighting hosts. But destiny called and he was martyred. His body was struck down, yet his pure, valiant spirit was raised to the heavens. His most precious wish finally came true, so that
“When people pass by my grave, they will say:
By Allah you are the most righteous warrior!’
The fierce attack in Al-Balqaa’ in Syria went on. Back in Al Madiinah the Prophet (peace be upon him) was talking peacefully and contentedly with his Companions when he suddenly stopped talking. He closed his eyes a little, then opened them. A gleam flashed from them, yet it was tinged with sadness and compassion. He looked around sadly and said, “Zaid took the standard and fought until he was martyred.” He was silent for a while, then continued “Ja’far grasped it and fought until he was marytred. Then `Abd Allah lbn Rawaahah grasped it and fought until he was martyred.” He was silent for a while, then his eyes sparkled with elation, tranquility, longing, and joy as he said, “They were all raised to Paradise.”
What a glorious journey it must have been! What a happy succession! They all marched to conquer, they all were raised up to Paradise. The best salute to immortalize their memory rests in the Prophet’s words,
“They were raised up to await me in Paradise.”
What a glorious journey it must have been! What a happy succession!
Source: Men around the Messenger