The Life of Ṣaḥābī ʿUrwa b. Masʿūd el-Thaqafī

Cumhuriyet İlahiyat Dergisi 24 (2):591-609 (2020)
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One of the ṣaḥābīs of Prophet Muḥammad is ʿUrwa b. Masʿūd from the Ṭāʾif tribe of Thaqīf. He belongs to the Ahlâf part of the Thaqīf tribe and he is the ruler of this part. ʿUrwa’s ancestry is known without any controversy until Kasî (Thaqīf). According to a narrative his epithet was Abū Yaʿfur and another of his epithet was Abū Masʿūd. Father of ʿUrwa an important person too. He is one of the leaders of his tribe and he commanded his part (Aḥlāf) in wars of Fijār. Mother of ʿUrwa is Subay’a bt. ʿAbd Shams from Banū Umayya. In this way ʿUrwa has kinship both with Banū Umayya and Prophet Muḥammad. So ʿUrwa has a very important position because of his lineage, his mother and father. Thefore, his connections with Mecca and Quraysh strengthens his position. In our sources there is no information about his dates of birth and death. It is likely to be over middle age when he became a muslim, considering that he was the leader of his tribe and his son become a muslim after he died. There is too little information about weddings of ʿUrwa. According to narratives, he had ten wives before becoming Muslim. After becoming a Muslim Prophet Muḥammad warned from him to prefer four out of ten wives. One of his four wives is the daughter of Abū Sufyān. Howev-er, there is no information about the names of his wives. Names of his sons: ʿĀṣim, Abū Murra, Abū Mulayḥ, Dāwūd, Hammām and Hishām and names of his daughters: Umm Saʿīd (married with Ḥaẓrat ʿAlī) and Ḥalīma. We could see he served as embassy before the treaty of Hudaybiyah. His embassy duty shows us the superiority of his position. Also, this embassy duty was very effective at peace negotiations. He mentioned kinship relations which connects about Mecca. He said that it could be beneficial to talk to Prophet Muḥammad himself. The Meccans mentioned about their trust in ʿUrwa. During the time of his embassy, he expressed that both sides should be away from war. In this context, he told the Meccans: The people around Prophet Muḥammad are very loyal to him and he told to Prophet Muḥammad: People around him could disintegrate easily. This mission shows us he is intelligent, respectable and had high persuasion skills. ʿUrwa, observed loyalty of ṣaḥābīs to Prophet Muḥammad. He confessed this loyalty can not be for any ruler. This observa-tion probably affected ʿUrwa’s conversion to Islam. Because of the conquest of Meccah and the events that followed, the people of Ṭāʾif were very worried. Because of this reason people of Ṭāʾif took part in the side of Hawāzin’s and they bat-tled with Muslims. In this time they sent ʿUrwa b. Masʿūd and Ghaylān b. Salama to the city of D̲j̲aras̲h̲ of Yemen, to learn about some war machines and techniques. Therefore they did not join wars of Hunayn and Ṭāʾif. Prophet Muḥammad ended the siege of Ṭāʾif and went to Medina. Meanwhile, ʿUrwa and his friend returned from Yemen. According to narratives when the Prophet Muḥammad returned Medina or he was way in Medina ʿUrwa visited him and became Muslim. Some people tell about the date of ʿUrwa’s being Muslim at before or after Abū Bakr’s emirate of Hadj. However, when the narrations are examined, it can be said he became Muslim after four or five months from Prophet’s siege of Ṭāʾif and before three or four months from Tabūk expedition of Rabīʿ al-awwal or “Rabīʿ al-ākhir” (July or August) in the year 9/630. As for the conversion of ʿUrwa, basic sources report that “Allah, inspired Islam to the heart of ʿUrwa and he changed his situation. He went to the Messenger of Allah and he became Muslim.” They do not give a specific reason. But after this period the narratives tell the reason for ʿUrwa’s becoming a Muslim as due to an experience he had while travelling to Najrān for trade. In this travel, two mysterious young girls and the priest in Najrān said the last prophet came and ʿUrwa must be subject to him and ʿUrwa became Muslim after he returned. But this narrative is prob-lematic with regard to evidence and text. After being Muslim, ʿUrwa wanted permission from the Prophet to invite his tribe to accept Islam. The prophet did not want to accept this at first. Because the people of Ṭāʾif had an arro-gant stance against Islam, and he said that the people of Thaqīf could kill ʿUrwa. Eventually ʿUrwa went to his hometown with permission of Prophet and invited people to Islam and they did not accept this invitation and cursed ʿUrwa. The next morning ʿUrwa read adhan of fajr and people of Ṭāʾif killed him. ʿUrwa b. Masʿūd was likened to Prophet Jesus by the Prophet Muḥammad. It is generally accept-ed that ʿUrwa b. Masʿūd el-Thaqafī is “one of the biggest from two cities” expressed in sūra Zukhruf. Only two weak narrations were reported of Urwa who could live as a Muslim for a few days and was matyred by his tribe.


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