Remarkable Figures of Islam: Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib, the Lion of Allah and a Champion of Justice
Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib (568-625) was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a professional military man, a skilled warrior. He was distinguished character with a keen sense of justice and known as the protector of the weak and the persecuted. He provided invaluable assistance to the Muslim ummah in the protection and spread of Islam and the fight against idolaters.
Lion Of Allah
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib ‘Asadullah’ (The Lion of Allah) for his personal valour and martial art. At the Battle of Badr, Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib was one of the three warriors chosen by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to fight the three best warriors of the Meccans. Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib had never been defeated and could only be killed by a treacherous stab in the back with a spear during the battle at Mount Uhud in 625. It was inflicted by a slave of idolaters who was afraid to fight Hamza in an open, honest battle. For this feat the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib the name Sayid al-Shuhadah (Lord of All Martyrs). The valour and courage of Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib are an example of selfless service to Islam for all Muslims.
Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib was the younger brother of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) father, however, since he was only two years his senior, they were nourished by the same wet-nurse. Hamza grew up a dexterous and strong man, mastered the art of hand-to-hand combat. He knew saber fighting, could perfectly fire a bow, and was a lion hunter. He was known as “the strongest and most fearless Quraysh.”
Protector of the weak
Having started his ministry in 610 after receiving a revelation from Allah in the cave of Hira, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked Hamza if he would adopt Islam, but Hamza did not take this proposal with due seriousness. Prayer, solitude, silence were not his elements. Allah brought him into the ranks of Muslims in a different way, using his innate sense of justice and dignity and intolerance towards people who persecute weak and defenseless.
Sometime at the very beginning of 613, after returning home from hunting in the desert, Hamza learned that the idolater Abu Jahl attacked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He learnt Abu Jahl persecuted and insulted , Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he silently endured insults. Enraged, Hamza rushed to the Kaaba, where Abu Jahl was sitting with his comrades, and hit him in the face with a mighty blow.
When Abu Jahl jumped to his feet in fright, Hamza told him: “You are only brave against the weak. Try to hit me! I believe in the One God as well as he does, now, try taunting me! ” Abu Jahl staggered back in fear. While Hamza, leaving the Kaaba, asked where he could find the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was told: “In the house of Al-Arqam.” Hamza immediately went there and there, having pronounced the shahadah, converted to Islam.
Defender of True Faith
The next day, reflecting on his new faith, he asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to show him the angel Jibril in his true form. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) replied that Hamza would hardly endure the sight, but Hamza insisted. Then the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered him to sit still and soon the angel Jibril came down to them. Hamza only had time to see the angel’s feet, which seemed to him made of emerald, as he immediately lost consciousness.
When the idolaters learned that Hamza adopted Islam, they stopped openly attacking Muslims, fearing retribution from the new member of the ummah. Hamza, whom everyone in Mecca feared, carried out his service honourably and unfalteringly to the very end, as a brave defender of the true faith.