[1/-] al-Tahdhib: From al-Mufid from Abi al-Qasim Ja`far b. Muhammad from his father from Sa`d b. Abdallah from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa from Muhammad b. Ismail b. Bazi` from Ali b. al-Nu`man from Abi Maryam al-Ansari who said: I heard Aba Ja`far عليه السلام saying: … al-Hasan b. Ali عليهما السلام enshrouded Usama b. Zayd in a Hibara cloak …
قال ابن بطال: هي من برود اليمن، تصنع من قطن، وكانت أشرف الثياب عندهم
Hibara refers to a type of fine cloth made of cotton in the Yaman.
Usama was a freed slave of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله, thus, Usama became a Mawla [client] of Banu Hashim. Manumission creates a not very well understood bond between the master and the former slave [this is the bond of Wala – which is also the name given to the relation between the `Aimma and their followers]. It was a way to subsume large numbers of foreign people into the traditional hierarchy of a society which gave the utmost importance to tribal links.
This bond of Wala is reciprocal. It gives certain rights to the former slave, such as patronage from his former Master’s clan [he is considered one of them and takes their name], but it also gives certain duties to be fulfilled by the no-longer slave. It is on this basis that Usama entered into the washing [Ghusl] of the prophet which was being carried out by Ali, Fadhl and Abbas [close blood relations].
This report indicates a rapprochement between the Ahl al-Bayt and Usama at the end of the latter’s life i.e. his burial was conducted by al-Hasan [then the head of the family]. This begs the question, what created the distance between Usama – the son of the beloved of the prophet i.e. Zayd, whom he appointed as the youngest commander to lead the Muslim army before his death – in the first place?
It was his refusal to give a pledge of allegiance to Ali.
محمد بن مسعود، قال حدثني أحمد بن منصور، عن أحمد بن الفضل، عن محمد بن زياد، عن سلمه بن محرز، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: ألا أخبركم بأهل الوقوف قلنا بلى قال أسامة بن زيد و قد رجع فلا تقولوا إلا خيرا، و محمد بن مسلمة، و ابن عمر مات منكوبا
Rijal al-Kashshi: Muhammad b. Masud who said: narrated to me Ahmad b. Mansur from Ahmad b. al-Fadhl from Muhammad b. Ziyad from Salama b. Muhriz from Abi Ja`farعليه السلام who said: should I not inform you about the people of abstention [who did not pledge allegiance]? we said: yes, he said: Usama b. Zayd, but he returned from that so do not say anything [against him] except good, however, Muhammad b. Maslama and Ibn Umar died ruined [they did not repent].
Why did Usama refuse the pledge of allegiance to Ali?
It is said that this was because of his disinclination to participate in the wars which would necessarily follow Ali’s accession to the leadership. Bay`a to a leader means a binding commitment to aid him against his enemies. Usama claimed that the prophet had prohibited him to raise his sword against a fellow Muslim who says “there is no god but Allah” under any circumstance.
The background incident to this is as narrated in al-Bukhari below:
حَدَّثَنِي عَمْرُو بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا هُشَيْمٌ، أَخْبَرَنَا حُصَيْنٌ، أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو ظَبْيَانَ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أُسَامَةَ بْنَ زَيْدٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ يَقُولُ بَعَثَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِلَى الْحُرَقَةِ، فَصَبَّحْنَا الْقَوْمَ فَهَزَمْنَاهُمْ وَلَحِقْتُ أَنَا وَرَجُلٌ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ رَجُلاً مِنْهُمْ، فَلَمَّا غَشِينَاهُ قَالَ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ. فَكَفَّ الأَنْصَارِيُّ، فَطَعَنْتُهُ بِرُمْحِي حَتَّى قَتَلْتُهُ، فَلَمَّا قَدِمْنَا بَلَغَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ “ يَا أُسَامَةُ أَقَتَلْتَهُ بَعْدَ مَا قَالَ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ ” قُلْتُ كَانَ مُتَعَوِّذًا. فَمَا زَالَ يُكَرِّرُهَا حَتَّى تَمَنَّيْتُ أَنِّي لَمْ أَكُنْ أَسْلَمْتُ قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ
Amr b. Muhammad – Hushaym – Husayn – Abu Dhabyan – Usama b. Zayd: The messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآلهsent us towards al-Huraqa (a sub-tribe of Juhayna), we attacked them in the morning and defeated them, a man from the Ansar and I confronted a man from among them, so when we had overcome him he said: ‘there is no god but Allah’, the Ansari stopped his attack while I plunged my spear into him until I killed him, so when we returned – this matter was conveyed to the prophet – he said: O Usama – did you kill him after he had said ‘there is no god but Allah’ I said: he just wanted to save his life, so he صلى الله عليه وآله kept on repeating it until I wished that I had not converted into Islam before that day (i.e. I wished I could convert anew and wash away my sins).
It is after this incident, that Usama made an oath never to fight against someone who says “there is no god but Allah” as we find in Tafsir Ali b. Ibrahim:
فحلف أسامة بعد ذلك أن لا يقتل أحدا شهد ان لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله فتخلف عن أمير المؤمنين ع في حروبه
Ali was apparently aware of this oath of his and excused him from not pledging the allegiance.
قال أبو عمرو الكشي وجدت في كتاب أبي عبد الله الشاذاني، قال حدثني جعفر بن محمد المدايني، عن موسى بن القاسم البجلي عن صفوان عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج، عن أبي عبد الله، عن آبائه عليهم السلام قال: كتب علي عليه السلام إلى والي المدينة لا تعطين سعدا و لا ابن عمر من الفيء شيئا، فأما أسامة بن زيد فإني قد عذرته في اليمين التي كانت عليه
Abu Amr al-Kashshi said: I found in the book of Abi Abdillah al-Shadhani – narrated to me Ja`far b. Muhammad al-Madaini from Musa b. al-Qasim al-Bajali from Safwan from Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj from Abi Abdillah from his forefathers عليهم السلام who said: Ali عليه السلام wrote to his governor of Madina: do not give Sa`d [b. Abi Waqqas] nor Ibn Umar anything of the Fayy, as for Usama b. Zayd then I have excused him [you can give him of the Fayy even if he chose not to fight] because of the oath which was upon him.
This is one way to harmonize these narrations.
However, Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin in A`yan al-Shia remains skeptical.
واما اعتذاره عن عدم الجهاد مع أمير المؤمنين ع بالعهد الذي عاهده فعذر غير مقبول لأن العهد لا ينعقد على ترك واجب واما ما كتبه أمير المؤمنين ع إلى والي المدينة مما تقدم بأنه عذر فهو ع اعرف بوجه المصلحة في اظهار انه عذره ان صح الحديث والا فظاهر الحال يوجب عدم عذره ولو عذرنا في ترك الجهاد مع علي ع وهو غير معذور فبما نلتمس له العذر في تأخره عن انفاذ امر رسول الله ص يوم امره على الجيش كما ستعرف وبما ذا نعذره بعدم بيعته لعلي ع هو وسعد وابن عمر الا ان يكون قد تاب كما مر
As for his [Usama’s] excuse for not participating in Jihad with the commander of the faithful عليه السلام because of the oath which he had taken – then – it is an unacceptable excuse, an oath cannot be made to abandon a Wajib [like Jihad], as for that which the commander of the faithful عليه السلام had written to his governor of Madina – excusing him – then he [Ali] is more knowledgeable of the Masliha [public interest] there was in appearing to excuse him outwardly, this is if that report [of the Imam excusing him] is authentic, and if it is not authentic then it is incumbent on us not to excuse him, and if we were to excuse him for abandoning Jihad with Ali عليه السلام – and he is not to be excused for it, then what excuse can we find for him for delaying to obey the order of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله when he ordered him to march with the army? And what excuse can we find for him for refusing to pledge allegiance to Aliعليه السلام together with Sa`d and Ibn Umar, unless he later repented, assuming that particular report [of him having repented] to also be authentic.
I say: this is a very skeptical way of looking at Usama. Admittedly the two reports included here in the commentary are weak, but they can be used for historical reconstruction. Most likely he felt that pledging the oath would lead him to infringe his oath and thus abstained. This was a mistake which he realized and repented for. As for not marching under the order of the prophet then he clearly wanted to do so but the machinations of the “elders” of Quraysh must have stymied him because of his youth.