Featured, History

Leaders around the Messenger: Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit

From the first pledge of Al-Aqaba to the first naval expedition, a lifelong leader who Umar said, “is equivalent to 1000 men”

وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ

“And those in front–ahead indeed!”[1]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

أَصْحَابِي كَالنُّجُومِ بِأَيِّهِمْ اقْتَدَيْتُمْ اهْتَدَيْتُمْ

“My companions are like stars, whichever of them you use as a guide, you will be rightly guided.”[2]

The sahaba were the best generation and their diverse lives need to be studied so we can take lessons from them. Whichever characteristic we want to emulate we will find it exemplified in the sahaba. They hold qualities of bravery, chivalry, knowledge, sacrifice and leadership because they were trained by the best human being and master of the Prophets, Muhammad ﷺ.

Biography of Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit

Profile Married to Umm Haram, the Prophet’s ﷺ maternal aunt. A senior sahaba and one of the Naqibs of the Ansar so is included in the words of the Messenger ﷺ, “If the Ansar took their way through a valley or a mountain pass, I would take Ansar’s valley. And but for the migration, I would have been one of the Ansar.”[3]

When Jibrael (as) asked the Prophet ﷺ, “How do you look upon the warriors of Badr among yourselves?” He ﷺ replied, “As the best of the Muslims.”[4] This applies to Ubaadah who fought at Badr.

Umm Haraam (wife of Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit) heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: “(Paradise) is granted to the first batch of my followers who will undertake a naval expedition (ghazwa).” Umm Haraam said, “O Messenger of Allah am I among them?” He said: “Yes you are.”[5] Umm Haraam was indeed on the first naval expedition to Cyprus along with her husband Ubaadah who was a commander on the mission.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab said he was equivalent to 1000 men when he sent Ubaadah at the head of 1000 soldiers to reinforce the army of Egypt.[6]

Born 38 before Hijri / 585 CE. Yathrib Hijaz
Died 34 after Hijri / 655 CE during Uthman’s Caliphate at the age of 72. Buried in Bab al-Rahma cemetery in Jerusalem.
Tribe Khazraj.
Clan Banu ‘Auf. A clan leader (naqib)
Appearance Handsome man with dark skin and very muscular.
During the time of the Prophet ﷺ ·         Gave the 1st bay’a of Al-Aqaba[7]

·         One of the 12 naqibs (representatives) who gave the 2nd bay’a of Al-Aqba[8]

·         Teacher in Medina[9]

·         Battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, Khaybar, Hunayn, Tabuk

·         In charge of expulsion of Banu Qaynuqaa[10]


During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr ·         Ridda Wars


During the Caliphate of Umar ·         Teacher in Syria[11]

·         Judge in Syria[12]

·         Syria campaign

·         Egypt campaign[13]

·         Head of delegation to Al-Muqawqis, Vicegerent of Egypt for the Byzantine Empire[14]


During the Caliphate of Uthman ·         First naval expedition to Cyprus[15]

·         In charge of spoils of war from Cyprus[16]


Famous Hadiths Ibn Hajar notes that there are at least 181 hadith narrated by Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit.[17] Two of the most well-known are below.

He who said: “There is no god but Allah, He is One and there is no associate with Him, that Muhammad is his servant and His messenger, that Christ is a servant and the son of His slave-girl and he (Christ) His word which He communicated to Mary and is His Spirit, that Paradise is a fact and Hell is a fact, Allah would make him (he who affirms these truths enter Paradise through any one of its eight doors which he would like.”[18]

Narrated Junada bin Abi Umaiya: We entered upon ‘Ubaadah bin As-Saamit while he was sick. We said, “May Allah make you healthy. Will you tell us a Hadith you heard from the Prophet ﷺ and by which Allah may make you benefit?” He said, “The Prophet ﷺ called us and we gave him the Pledge of allegiance for Islam, and among the conditions on which he took the Pledge from us, was that we were to listen and obey (the orders) both at the time when we were active and at the time when we were tired, and at our difficult time and at our ease and to be obedient to the ruler and give him his right even if he did not give us our right, and not to fight against him unless we noticed him having open Kufr (disbelief) for which we would have a proof with us from Allah.”[19]

Ubadah ibn as-samit timeline

Nusra (support) for establishing the first Islamic state

Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit (ra) was born 38 years before the hijra in Yathrib, Hijaz. He was a member of the Khazraj tribe and one of its clan leaders. A handsome man with dark skin and very muscular. For all intents and purposes Ubaadah was black which we will come back to later. He gave the first bay’a of Al-Aqaba which led to the daw’ah becoming firmly established in Medina.

After one year the dawah was successful and Yathrib was ready for the Prophet ﷺ to migrate and establish a new state with him ﷺ as its leader.

Ubaadah was not only present at the second bay’a of Al-Aqaba but was one of the 12 nuqubaa (leaders) who represented his people.

Once the first Islamic State was established in the newly renamed Medina he continued to sacrifice in support of the new state.

He married Umm Haram, the Prophet’s ﷺ maternal aunt and so had a familial relationship with him ﷺ. As one of the Ansar he is included in the words of the Messenger ﷺ, “If the Ansar took their way through a valley or a mountain pass, I would take Ansar’s valley. And but for the migration, I would have been one of the Ansar.”[20]

The first battle of Islam

Within the first year of hijra the Prophet ﷺ started sending out expeditions against the interests of Quraiysh to secure the new fledgling state. Some were led by his commanders Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas and some were led directly by him ﷺ.

In Ramadan of the second year hijri these skirmishes culminated in the Battle of Badr which was the most decisive battle of Islam since it firmly established the new state as a power player in the region. From then on Medina got stronger and stronger until within 10 years the entire Arabian Peninsula had come under its authority and mostly accepted Islam. This fulfilled the Qur’anic prophecy, “when you see people embracing Allah’s faith in crowds”.[21]

Ubaadah was at the Battle of Badr along with all the major battles of Medina. When Jibrael (as) asked the Prophet ﷺ, “How do you look upon the warriors of Badr among yourselves?” He ﷺ replied, “As the best of the Muslims.”[22]

Expulsion of Banu Qaynuqa’

When the state was established in Medina there were a total of four Jewish tribes. Banu Qaynuqa’ was within Medina and three were outside Medina namely, Banu Nadir, Khaybar and Banu Quraydah. On his entering Medina the Prophet ﷺ wrote a document called As-Sahifa which established the rights and responsibilities of all citizens including the Jews of  Banu Qaynuqa’. They signed up to this agreement but they reneged on it at every opportunity. After the battle of Badr, the Prophet ﷺ went to their marketplace and warned them to refrain from any further treachery but they were obstinate in their hatred of Islam and Muslims. They said, “O Muhammad, do not become self-deceived simply because you killed a group of people from the Quraish who do not know how to fight. Indeed, if you were to fight us, you would know that we are the people (to contend with). You have never met anyone that is like us (on the battlefield).”[23]

These tensions increased until Banu Qaynuqa’ finally crossed the line. One day a Muslim woman went to the marketplace of Banu Qaynuqa’ to sell some merchandise. She sat down next to a Jewish goldsmith who secretly pinned her garment so when she stood up her private areas were exposed. They laughed at her and a Muslim man nearby went to help her killing the goldsmith. The Jews then ganged up on the Muslim and killed him. When word reached the Prophet ﷺ he dispatched an army which laid siege to Banu Qaynuqa’ for 15 nights after which they surrendered.

Prior to the hijra, Ubaadah’s Banu ‘Auf clan was an ally of Banu Qaynuqa’. But after their treachery Ubaadah went to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I declare my complete loyalty to Allah, His Messenger and the believers. And I absolve myself from any alliance or loyalty to these disbelievers.”[24]

After it was decided to expel Banu Qaynuqa’ from Medina, the Messenger ﷺ ordered Ubaadah to supervise their evacuation. Due to their previous alliance, Banu Qaynuqa’ tried to pressure Ubaadah in to making concessions for them but Ubaadah was steadfast in refusing. Abdullah ibn Ubai, the head of the hypocrites and another ally of Banu Qaynuqa’ also applied pressure. Ubaadah said to him, “O Abul-Hubaab, hearts have changed, and Islam has erased those covenants.”[25]

Egypt Campaign: delegation to Al-Muqawqis

Amr ibn Al-Aas was the Amir of Jihad for the Egyptian Campaign during the Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab. This campaign was facing difficulties and taking time to complete so Umar wrote a letter to Amr:

“I am very surprised at how long it is taking to conquer Egypt, as you have been fighting for the last two years, unless it is because of some sins that you have committed, or you have started to love this world as your enemy does. Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, only grants victory to people who are sincere. I am sending to you four individuals, and I have told you that each one of them is equivalent to one thousand men as far as I know, unless something has changed them…”[26]

These four men were army generals who Umar each sent at the head of 1000 men. These generals were: az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam, al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, Maslamah ibn Mukhallad and Ubaadah ibn as-Saamit. These commanders helped turn the tide of the conquest and Egypt was finally opened to Islam.

Ubaadah had a particularly important mission during this campaign, which was to speak with Al-Muqawqis, who was the Vicegerent of Egypt for the Byzantine Empire and leader of the Coptic Christians. Ubaadah was to present to him the three foreign policy options

  1. accept Islam and become Muslim citizens or
  2. live as non-Muslim citizens (dhimmi) or
  3. fight

Al-Muqawqis didn’t want to lose his position and was unhappy about his people submitting to the Islamic authority, but after speaking with his advisors he agreed to sign a peace treaty (dhimma) with the Islamic State leading to the Copts becoming citizens of the state.

Ubaadah was instrumental in getting Al-Muqawqis to sign the dhimma.

In 641CE the Muslim army surrounded the Babylon Fortress where Al-Muqawqis resided and Ubaadah was sent as head of a delegation of 10 men to speak with him. As mentioned previously Ubaadah was a dark skinned Arab but to Al-Muqawqis he was a black man. When Ubaadah stepped forward al-Muqawqis became alarmed because of his blackness.

He said, “Take this black man away from me and let someone else come and speak to me!”

They said, “This black man is the best of us in knowledge and wisdom. He is our leader and the best of us, and has been appointed over us. We all refer to his opinion, and our leader has appointed him over us and ordered us not to go against him.”

Al-Muqawqis said to the delegation, “How could you accept this black man as the best among you? Rather he should be the least among you.”

They said, “No; even though he is black as you can see, he is the best in status among us, one of the foremost among us and one of the wisest. Blackness is not something bad among us.”

Al-Muqawqis said to Ubaadah, “Come forward, O black man, and speak to me gently, for your blackness alarms me, and if you speak harshly that will alarm me further.”

Ubaadah went forward and used Al-Muqawqis fear of black people to his advantage. He said, “I have heard what you said. Among my companions whom I left behind are a thousand men who are all as black as me, and even blacker than me and more terrifying to behold. If you saw them you would be even more alarmed. My youth has gone, but nevertheless I would not be scared if one hundred men of my enemy wanted to face me all at once, and the same is true of my companions, for our hope and our desire is to strive in jihad for the sake of Allah, seeking the pleasure of Allah.

The reason for our campaign against our enemies who wage war against Allah is not hope of worldly gains or the accumulation of wealth; rather Allah has permitted that to us and made the booty we acquire permissible for us. But none of us cares whether he has a qintar of gold or has nothing but a dirham, because all we want from this world is something to eat to ward off hunger, and a cloth to wrap around ourselves. If one of us owns nothing more than that, that is enough. If he gets a qintar of gold he will spend it for the sake of Allah and be content with the little that is left in his hand, because the pleasure of this world is not true pleasure and its luxury is not true luxury; rather real pleasure and luxury come in the Hereafter.

This is how our Lord has guided us and our Prophet has taught us; he advised us that our ambition in this world should be just to have enough to ward off hunger and cover our awrahs (nakedness); our main concern should be to please our Lord and strive in jihad against His enemies.”

When al-Muqawqis heard that, he said to those who were around him: “Have you ever heard anything like what this man is saying? His appearance alarmed me but his words alarm me more than his appearance. Allah has sent this man and his companions out to destroy the world! I think that they are bound to prevail over the entire world.”[27]

First Naval expedition

Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit not only played a key role in the conquest of Egypt but was also a commander for Abu Ubaidah ibn Al-Jarrah, the Ameer of Jihad for the Ash-Sham campaign. After this campaign Ubaadah made Ash-Sham his home residing in Palestine where he is buried.

One day the Messenger of Allah ﷺ entered the house of Umm Haraam, the wife of Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit, and she provided him with food and started grooming his head. Then the Messenger of Allah slept, and then he woke up smiling.

Umm Haraam asked, “What is making you smile, O Messenger of Allah?” He ﷺ said,

‏‏ نَاسٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَرْكَبُونَ الْبَحْرَ الأَخْضَرَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ، مَثَلُهُمْ مَثَلُ الْمُلُوكِ عَلَى الأَسِرَّةِ ‏‏‏

“Some people of my ummah were shown to me (in my dream) campaigning for the sake of Allah, sailing on the green sea like kings on thrones.”

Umm Haram added, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Pray to Allah to make me one of them.” So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ prayed to Allah for her and then laid his head down (and slept).

Then he woke up smiling (again). (Umm Haram added): I said, “What is making you smile, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Some people of my ummah were shown to me (in my dream) campaigning for the sake of Allah.”

He said the same as he had said before. I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Pray to Allah to make me one of them.” He said, “You will be among the first ones.”[28]

This prophecy was fulfilled during the Caliphate of Uthman bin Affan, who established the first Muslim navy. The first naval campaign was led by Muawiya, the governor of Ash-Sham to Cyprus. Umm Haram accompanied the navy during this campaign along with her husband Ubaadah ibn-As-Saamit, where she subsequently died and is buried.


The Prophet ﷺ cultured the sahaba and trained them to be leaders of the world after his death. He ﷺ noted their strengths and weaknesses and developed their strengths and minimised their weaknesses. He undertook a thorough culturing process developing their personalities.

One day the Prophet ﷺ consulted the people as to how he could call them to prayer. Many ideas were put forward, but that night Abdullah bin Zaid and Umar bin Al-Khattab both had a dream of the Adhan. Even though they had the dream the Prophet ﷺ insisted that Bilaal ibn Rabah call the Adhan since he had the best voice.[29]

Abu Dharr Al-Ghaffari narrated: I said to the Prophet ﷺ: “Oh Messenger of Allah, will you not appoint me to a public office?” He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said: “Abu Dharr, you are weak and authority is a trust, and on the Day of judgment it is a cause of humiliation and repentance except for one who fulfils its obligations and (properly) discharges the duties attendant thereon.”[30]

Every individual has strengths which they can contribute to Islam and the dawah. We must develop these and follow in the footsteps of the sahaba using them as role models on this path.


By A.K.Newell, Editor of IslamCiv.com


[1] Al-Waaqia,56:10

[2] Ibn Qudama, Al-Mughni, http://www.khilafah.com/qaa-the-authenticity-of-the-hadith-qmy-companions-are-like-starsq/

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari 3779, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/63/4

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari 3992, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/64/43

[5] Sahih al-Bukhari 2924, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/56/137

[6] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, his life and times,’ International Islamic Publishing House, volume 2, p.321

[7] Ibn Kathir, ‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya,’ Vol.2, Garnet Publishing, p.140

[8] Ibid

[9] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallaabee, ‘The Noble Life of the Prophet ﷺ’, p.738

[10] Ibid, p.1070

[11] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, his life and times,’ International Islamic Publishing House, volume 1, p.345

[12] Ibid, p.367

[13] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, his life and times,’ International Islamic Publishing House, volume 2, p.321

[14] Ibid, p. 327

[15] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘The Biography of Uthman bin Affan,’ Dar us-Salam Publishers, p.200

[16] Ibid, p.282

[17] Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, ‘Siyar a’lam Nubala/’Ubaadah bin al-Saamit’

[18] Sahih Muslim 28, https://sunnah.com/muslim/1/47

[19] Sahih al-Bukhari 7055, 7056, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/92/8

[20] Sahih al-Bukhari 3779, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/63/4

[21] An-Nasr, 110:2

[22] Sahih al-Bukhari 3992, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/64/43

[23] As-Sallaabee, ‘The Noble Life of the Prophet ﷺ’, p.1064

[24] Ibid, p.1070

[25] Ibid

[26] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, his life and times,’ International Islamic Publishing House, volume 2, p.321

[27] Dr Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab his life and times,’ Vol. 2, p.327

[28] Sahih al-Bukhari 2877, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/56/93

[29] Sunan Ibn Majah 707, https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah/3/2

[30] Sahih Muslim 1825, https://sunnah.com/muslim/33/19