Sa’yd Ibn Āmer Al Jumaḥyu – After Islam

After accepting Islam, Sa’yd Ibn Āmer Al Jumaḥyu migrated to Al Madinah and remained a close companion to the Prophet (p.b.u.h). Joined him in the battle of Khaybar and other battles that followed it.

After the passing of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), Sa’yd Ibn Āmer remained a drawn sword in the hands of the Khalifas Abu Bakr and Omar Ibn Al Khattab. He lived as a true example of the believer that traded this world for the hereafter, and appropiated the love of Allah and his pleasure over the yearnings of his soul and desires of his body.

Both Khalifas of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) knew of Sa’yd Ibn Āmer’s honesty, piety, and headed to his advice and listened to what he has to say.

In the beginnings of Omar’s khilafa,  Sa’yd Ibn Āmer entered his court and said: Oh Omar, I recommend that your fear Allah when dealing with the people, and don’t fear the people when applying Allah’s commands. Do not allow your speech to contradict your action, for the best of speech is what has been followed through with action.

Oh Omar, direct your attention to whom Allah has entrusted you with their affairs, the muslims who live among you and the ones far away, and love for them what you love for yourself and your household, and hate for them what you would hate for yourself of your household. Stir the (Ghamarat) to the truth and never fear anyone except Allah.

To this Omar replied: “And who can withstand all this oh Sa’yd?!” Sa’yd retorted: It can be done by a man like you, one whom Allah has entrusted with the affairs of the people (ummah) of Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and there is no one between him and Allah.

Omar then sought Sa’yd Ibn Āmer’s aid and said: “Oh Sa’yd I have assigned you as Governor of the people of Hums.” To which Sa’yd responded: “Oh Omar, I seek Allah please dont test me (i.e. dont try me with this responsibility)” Infuriated, Omar responded: “Woe on to you, you affixed this issue (Khilafa) around my neck then you abandon me?! By Allah I will not dismiss you from it.”

After assigning Sa’yd as a governor, Omar asked: “Should we not assign you an allowance?” Sa’yd replied: ” And what would I do with it (Amir AL Mo’omineen) [Leader of the Muslims]. The subsistence I already receive from the treasury is more than I can use, and soon after Sa’yd departed to Homs to commence his post as governor.


Sa’yd Ibn Āmer Al Jumaḥyu – Before Islam

Sa’yd Ibn Āmer Al Jumaḥyu was one of thousands who turned up to witness the death of Khobayb Ibn Uday –  one of the companions of the Prophet Mohamad p.b.u.h. – based on the invitation of the leaders of the Quraish Tribe.

Sa’yd Ibn Āmer was a youthful, well built, and strong man in his prime. This allowed him to wrestle his way to the front of the gathering crowd and be among some of the tribe leaders like Sofian Ibn Harb and Safwan Ibn Umaya and others who lead the crowd.

Sa’yd witnessed Quraish’s prisoner shackled in chains. The crowd rushing him to the courtyard where they have set as a place for his execution. A retaliation against the Prophet Mohamad p.b.u.h. and to avenge the deaths of their fellow tribesmen killed in the battle of Badr.

As the crowds gathered around the place of execution, Sa’yd Ibn Āmer stood tall and saw Khobayb as he was lead to the wooden post on which he is to be killed. Over the noise of the crowd, Say’d heard Khobayb’s steadfast calm voice asking his captors: “If you contend to allow me to pray 2 Rakaa before my demise then do…”

Sa’yd stood and looked over as Khobayb directed himself towards the Kaaba and pray a serene and most complete prayer. Khobayb then approached the leaders of Quraish and said: “By Allah, had I not believed that you would think I was afraid of death for prolonging my prayer, I would have prayed for longer…”

Sa’yd then witnessed his people mutilate Khobayb alive, tearing flesh off his body as they say to him: “Wouldn’t you want Muhammad (prophet p.b.u.h) in your stead and save yourself? He responds to them covered in blood: “By Allah I would not wish to being safe and sound among my family and children, and have Muhammad (p.b.u.h) pricked by a thorn.” The crowd grew agitated and loudly cried out for his death, “Kill Him, Kill Him”

Sa’yd then saw Khobayb turn his head up to the sky and say: “Of Allah account and kill them all, and do not leave any of them” as he releases his last breath from all the sword strikes and arrow stab wounds that have covered his body.

The crowd dispersed and returned to Makkah and what happened to Khobayb was forgotten, but young Sa’yd Ibn Āmer did not forget and Khobayb’s and his appearance had never left his mind. He saw him in his dreams when he slept. He saw his shadow while awake, as he prayed his last Rakaas in front of the wooden crucifix. He heard the faint sound of his voice as he supplicated for Quraish’s destruction, and he worried that he would be killed as a result of this supplication, either by a thunderbolt strick from the sky or a fallen boulder or rock.

Khobayb taught Sa’yd Ibn Āmer things of which he was not aware…

A true life is one with Aqeedah [ E.W.L’s translation of the word describes it as: A Doctrine, or the like, upon which one’s mind is firmly settled or determined or to which one holds, or adhere, or cleaves, with the heart, or mind; a belief, or firm belief or persuasion; a creed, an article of belief; a religious tenet] and perseverance for the sake of Aqeedah until the death.

He also learned that deep rooted belief can create wonder and allow the person to accomplish the impossible. However, it was the knowledge that if a man’s companions love him with the magnitude that Khobayb loved the prophet p.b.u.h then he is indeed a prophet with heaven’s support.

At that point, Sa’yd Ibn Amer accepted Islam and publicly declared his belief and his absolvement from the evil deeds of Quraish and their idol worship and his acceptance of Allah’s religion.

Sa’yd Ibn Āmer Al Jumaḥyu – Introduction

“Sa’yd Ibn Āmer, a man purchased the Hereafter with this world and appropriated Allāh and his Messenger over everything and everyone”.

This characterization of Sa’yd Ibn Amer displays what kind of man we are about to meet. A man who exchanged his existence for his soul’s salvation in the company of Allāh and his messenger in the Hereafter. Sa’yd Ibn Amer made a trade, free to form a value unrestricted by his physical being, he is not afraid of taking this world on as we will soon learn.

To dedicate one’s life to someone or some idea or principle is attempted by many but rarely seen to the end by most. Life missions and the people who undertake them do not equate risk and reward the same way most people do. The playing field is no longer governed by the restrictions of equitable trades. Meaning – one does not place value on his/her actions commensurate with returns from this world – rather they see their actions as an investment through which they achieve their goal.

Now this maybe too dense to digest at first, but bridging your actions with a life purpose greater than your being is not easy. It requires a person to fully know that his investment will only pay off in another life. He fully recognizes and materializes the goal in his heart and mind so as to carry out whatever duties are necessary to achieve his outcome in spite of the limitations of this world.

Many of the world’s greatest inventors, thinkers, scientists, authors, people from all walks of life dedicate their lives to ideas that are far bigger than they are. Their work and perseverance towards the realisation of this idea sometimes takes longer than their life on this Earth. Their work is sometimes only recognized after their passing. What kind of mental stamina and emotional and spiritual intelligence is required to achieve such feats?

Thinking about this characterization brings us closer to understanding the Saḥaba and how they became luminaries in their own right. Yes, they have benefited from living the Golden Age, however they still faced the same set of choices we face on a daily basis. They tended to families and friends, earning a living and growing enterprises, they wrestled with desire and temptation, both internally and eternally. These humanistic set of variables are affected by the binary decision tree of choice to do or not. They chose to make a trade and they are still waiting until today to realize the gain.

Ṣūwar min Ḥayat Al Saḥaba – صُوَرٌ مِن حياةِ الصَحابة

The title of this book can be translated to “Manners and/or ways of the Companions of the Prophet” . The word Ṣaḥaba is a noun describing the people who were alive and saw the Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h).

The first word of the title of this book [Ṣūwar – صُوَرٌ] is one of the one thousand and one words that could be incorrectly interpreted within the Arabic lexicon.

The first letter of the word [Ṣaḍ – ص] is the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet.  Edward William Lane describes the letter in his Arabic-English Lexicon as a “non-vocal letter, pronounced with the breath only without the voice”.

The word [Ṣūwar – صُوَرٌ] is the plural form of [Ṣūra – صورة] which can mean either: picture; image; illustration; photo OR it can mean: manner; way; form. 

Both meanings are written in the exact same form as shown below.

surah-arabic translation
surah-arabic translation

A simple example of how without a familiar understanding of the context – which requires cultural and linguistic information – a word can be incorrectly deviated from its meaning.

How many times has this happened when translating Arabic classical texts into English I wonder?

The Perfection, Copiousness, and Uniformity of Language

Stories are the best possible way to communicate information of any kind. Whether you are crunching numbers, living historical/contemporary events, or just selling coffee. Telling a good story will help you deliver the message intended for it’s audience.

Every possible medium of content distribution we have today as Gary V. would say is “trading attention” .  So how do you create interest in the Arabic language among non-Arabs? What do you say? Who do you write about? Why would they care about it? The story of the language is what needs to be told in order to attract that attention and keep it.

I continue to read about Edward William Lane and I just can’t stop. An Englishman that travelled to Egypt to learn the Arabic Language and publish what is possibly the greatest Arabic English Lexicon book – IN 8 VOLUMES!

Lane believes that literature is the guardian of language. He writes: “Every language without a written literature tends to decay more than to development by reason of foreign influences; and the history of the Arabic exhibits an instance of decay remarkably rapid, and extraordinary in degree”.

It is as if this prophetic text jumps ahead 154 years and expresses the current state of affairs in the Arab world. I realize the hypocritical nature of this paragraph, expressing the degeneration of Arabic literature / content in English – [I want to also use “Content” because of the contextual significance in a knowledge economy] – but the story is not about what language is used. The story is about the people who use the language to open themselves to a new world.

So, to conclude this abnormally long post, I will be using the Edward William Lane Arabic English Lexicon to translate and explain the meanings of words written in the books I will translate. My intention is to 1) use the “mind” of an non-arab as a vehicle to tell the story of words written between these translated pages. 2) to show that there are no barriers to culture or clashes between civilizations. If a keen Englishman can learn the Arabic language and open up its world to non-arab speakers, maybe an Arab man can help tell his story to Arabs and non-Arabs alike.

Edward William Lane

Today is the first time I came across this name. I would never have thought that I would learn about the Arabic language from a British man by the name of Edward William Lane.

As I sit here thinking about my second post, I was entertaining the idea of listing the books I think I can begin translating for this website. And for the most part that list did not change, but what is interesting is the addition to that list. The Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane  (London: Willams & Norgate 1863).

I was searching the internet for a transliteration/romanization table to keep as a quick reference. I then came across Mr. Lane’s book of 8 volumes and began to read the Preface and the Memoirs. I am in utter awe of this man’s effort. This body of work is – from what I have read so far – an indispensable tool for any scholarly work in the Arabic language.

What is absolutely astonishing is the book’s story. It took E.W.L almost 30 years to finish this book. Reading the first few pages about the first letter of the Arabic alphabet is just mesmerising in its meticulous detail.

I must find out more about this author and his story.

We begin here…

My son is stretched out next to me in our bed, struggling with the Arabic alphabet exercises assigned to him by his teachers. As I sit here, I wonder how his future and many other children like him in the west will look like? There is so much knowledge out there that is out of reach for many just because of language barriers. Many of the books I found translated did not really convey the essence of the original Arabic text. Many of the misconceived notions about Islam and Muslims in the media stem from the simple errors of misinterpretation. As a father, I fear for my children’s access this vast wealth of knowledge, I fear that it may get hindered as a result of further neglect to this critical issue.

I do enjoy historical texts but some of the translated texts I have come across are simply…boring! How can I expect my child to express any sort of interest in the subject matter? When I can’t even stay awake past page 2. The problem is that the principal objective of these texts is to bring their heart and soul closer to God and the Prophet Muhammad (saw). This connection might prove difficult to materialize if we use the same “dry” translations and not evoke more emotional textual elements to bring the reader – regardless of age – closer to the text.

One word at a time, one page at a time, one book at a time. I will ask Allah (swt) for his guidance in this endeavour. May Allah accept it on my behalf for his sole pleasure.