Umayyah ibn Khalaf ibn Safwan, whose kunya was Abu Ali, was a Meccan Arab, a leading member of the Quraish and head of Bani Jumah. He was an opponent of the Muslims led by Muhammad and is best known as the master of Bilal ibn Rabah, a slave he tortured for converting to Islam.
Other transliterations of his name include Umayya, Umaya, Umaiiya and Umaiya.
He was the son of Khalaf ibn Safwan ibn Habib ibn Wahb ibn Hudhafah ibn Jumah and brother of Ubay ibn Khalaf. By his wife, Karima bint Ma'mur ibn Habib, he had a son, Safwan. Other sons were Walid and Ali (who were both slain at Badr), Rabah, Masud, Ahyah and Salamah.
Opposition to Islam
Umayyah was involved in the pagan religious ceremonies of Mecca, where he distributed perfume in the square of the Kaaba.
After Muhammad began to preach against idolatry, Umayyah became a staunch opponent of the new teaching. He subjected his slave Bilal ibn Ribah to torture for having adopted Islam. He forced Bilal to lie on hot desert sand and pinned him down with a heavy stone on his chest. When Bilal still refused to denounce Islam, a heavy person was to jump on the stone. Bilal kept repeating, "Ahad! Ahad!" (One God! One God!)
Friendship with Abd al-Rahman
Because of their friendship, the two formed a written agreement, according to which Abdul Rahman was to protect Umayah's property and/or family in Medina, while Umayyah would protect Abd-al-Rahman's in Mecca. When Abd al-Rahman's name was mentioned in the document, Umayyah protested, saying "I do not know Ar-Rahman" and requested that the pre-Islamic name "Abdu Amr" should be used, to which Abd al-Rahman yielded.
Pilgrimage of Sa'd
Umayyah was also an good friend of Sa'd ibn Mua'dh, the leader of the Banu Aus. When Umayyah was in Medina on his way to Syria, he used to stay with Sa'd and when Sa'd was in Mecca, he used to stay with Umayah.
Prior to the Battle of Badr, Sa'd visited Mecca once to perform his Umrah with Umayyah, when they came across Abu Jahl. They had an argument, and as it became heated, Sa'd threatened Abu Jahl with stopping the Meccan trade route to Syria and informed Umayyah that his life was threatened by Muhammad.
Battle of Badr
In March 624 the Meccans decided to confront the Muslim forces that threatened a caravan from Syria led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. Abu Jahl rallied the people for war, saying, "Go and protect your caravan."
Umayyah, who was anxious about Sa'd's warning, did not want to leave Mecca; but Abu Jahl said to him: "O Abu Safwan! If the people see you staying behind, though you are the chief of the people of the Valley, then they will remain behind with you." Abu Jahl urged until Umayyah said, "As you have forced me to change my mind, I will buy the best camel in Mecca." Umayyah told his wife: "O Umm Safwan, prepare what I need [for the journey]." She said to him, "O Abu Safwan! Have you forgotten what your Yathribi brother told you?" He said, "No, but I do not want to go with them but for a short distance." When Umayyah went out, he tied his camel wherever he camped.
Battle was joined on 13 March 624. During the battle, Umayyah was captured by his old friend Abdul Rahman ibn Awf. He was killed by a group of Muslims led by his former slave Bilal (who was a victim of his earlier torture), in spite of Abdul Rahman's protests and his attempt to shield Umayyah with his own body. His son Ali was also killed at Badr while defending his father. A hadith attributed to Abdur Rahman bin Awf reports:
- Sahih Bukhari "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2007-01-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Slavery From Islamic and Christian Perspectives by Sa'id Akhtar Rizvi on Al-islam.org , referencing Ibn Sa'd, op. cit., vol. III:1, p. 166; Abu Na'im, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 148; Ibn Hajar, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 336.
- John Glubb, The Life and times Muhammad, Lanham 1998, p. 186f.
- Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:38:498
- Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:286
- Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:56:826
- Haykal, Muhammad Husayn (1976). The Life of Muhammad. American Trust Publications. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-892-59137-4.