QAIS IBN SA`D IBN `UBAADAH
The Craftiest of Arabs but for Islam
Although he was young, the Ansaar treated him as a leader. They used to say, "If only we could buy him a beard!" He was not lacking in any of the characteristics that a leader should have except the traditional beard.
But who was this lad for whom his people were willing to spend their money to buy a beard that would make his appearance faultless and becoming of his genuine greatness and astonishing leadership?
This young man was Qais Ibn Sa'd lbn `Ubaadah. He belonged to one of themost distinguished and generous Arab houses, on which the Prophet (PBUH)commented, "Generosity is the prevailing trait of this family."
He was a crafty man, and there was no end to his tricks, skillfulness,and cleverness. He spoke the truth when he said, "If it were not for Islam,I would have used my craftiness to outwit all the Arabs."
He was sharp-witted, tricky, and resourceful. In the As-Siffiin Battle,he sided with `Aliy against Mu'aawiyah. He sat there turning over in hismind the plot that would make Mu'aawiyah and his men the worst losers, butthe more he thought about his plot, the more he realized that it came underthe heading of dangerous evil plotting. He then repeated Allah's verse "But the evil plot encompasses only him who makes it" (35:43). Consequently,he rejected the plot altogether and asked Allah's forgiveness, saying, "ByAllah, if Mu'aawiyah is destined to have the upper hand over us, he willnot have it because he has out-witted us, but because our piety and fearof Allah have run short."
This man was one of the Ansaar from the Khazraj tribe. He belonged to a great family and inherited all the excellent qualities of his ancestors.He was the son of Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah, the Khazraj leader with whom we willbe acquainted.
When Sa'd submitted himself to Islam, he held his son Qais's hand and introduced him to the Prophet (PBUH) saying, "This is your servant from now on." The Prophet (PBUH) saw in Qais all the qualities of excellence and righteousness, so he asked him to sit next to him and said, "This place will always befilled by him for the rest of his life." Anas, the Companion of Allah'sProphet (PBUH) said, "Qais Ibn Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah was to the Prophet likea chief officer to a commander."
Before his Islam, he was full of craftiness to the extent that no one was able to get the better of him.
The people of Al-Madiinah and its surroundings fell short of his cunning. When he embraced Islam, it turned his life and even disposition upside-down as it taught him how to treat people with sincerity rather than with deceit. He was a truly faithful and loyal Muslim. Therefore, he threw aside hiscunning and fatal maneuvers. Yet, whenever he faced a difficult situation,his restrained and thwarted craftiness tried to rebel and gain control overhim and his actions, and the only thing that made him come to grips withit were these words: "If it were not for Islam I would have used my craftinessto outwit all the Arabs."
His cleverness was surpassed only by his generosity. Generosity was not an accidental behavior on Qais's part, for he belonged to a family renowned for its generosity. It was the custom in those times for all the wealthyand generous people to bid a crier to stand on a high place in the daytimeto call guests and passers by to come for food and rest; then, at night,he would light a fire to guide strangers to where food was. People at thattime used to say, "He who likes fat and meat must go to Duliim Ibn Haarithah's house for food." Now, Duliim lbn Haarithah was Qais's great-grandfather.Thus, Qais was suckled amidst generosity and charity in this high-born family.
One day, both Abu Bakr and `Umar commented on his generosity saying, "If we let this lad give free rein to his generosity, he would exhaust his father's wealth." When Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah heard about what they had said, he cried out,"Abu Quhaafah and Ion Al khattaab should not have tried to encourage my sonto become a miser!"
One day, he lent a debtor who was experiencing hard times a large sum of money. At the appointed time for repayment, this man went to repay his debt to Qais yet he refused saying, "I never take back anything that I have given.'
Human nature is unchangeable. Both generosity and courage are inseparable. Indeed, genuine generosity and courage are like twins: neither is foundon its own. If you meet a generous man who is not courageous, then be certain that what you have seen is not real generosity but a mere superficial pretence.
On the other hand, if you find someone who is courageous but not generous, then be certain that what you have seen is not courage but a mere impetuous and reckless whim. Qais Ibn Sa'd held the reins of generosity with his right hand along with courage and valor. It seems as if he was meant by theselines of poetry:
If a flag was hoisted in celebration of glory
Then it must have been held by the right hand of an Arab.
His valor was outstanding in all the battles in which be fought when the Prophet (PBUH) was alive and even after his death.
When courage depends on honesty rather than craftiness, and on straightforwardness and confrontation rather than prevarication and maneuvering,then there must be difficult and endless trouble and intolerable hardshipsfor its possessor. Ever since Qais threw aside his incredible skill of cunningand maneuvering and held onto his straightforward and conspicuous courage,he felt relieved and content, notwithstanding the problems he had to confrontand the obligations he had to fulfill Genuine courage stems solely out ofits possessor's conviction. This conviction is not affected by desire orwhim, but rather by truthfulness and honesty with himself.
Hence, when the conflict between `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah started, Qais sat alone trying to side with the one whom he believed to be in the right. Then as soon as he decided that `Aby was right, he did not hesitate to stand by his side with admirable pride, valor, and fearlessness.
Qais was one of the fearless heroes of As-sifiin, Al-jamal and An-Nahrawaan. He carried the Ansaar's standard and cried out, "The standard that I'm carrying now is the same one that I used to carry when we marched for war with the Prophet (PBUH) and had jibriil as our reinforcement. Any man who has noone but the Ansaar on his side is a lucky man."
Imam `Aliy assigned him to govern Egypt. Now, Mu'aawiyah's eyes were always set on Egypt, as he considered it the most precious stone in his prospective crown. Therefore, no Sooner had Mu'aawiyah heard that Qais was to governEgypt than he lost his self-control and was gripped by apprehensions lestQais should stand forever in his way to rule Egypt, even if he achieved adecisive victory over imam `Aliy. Hence, he used all his cunning methodsand unscrupulous tricks to defame Qais before `Aliy.
Finally, Imam `Aliy ordered him to leave Egypt. Qais had a legitimate chance to use his cleverness, for he realized that Mu'aawiyah must have incited`Aliy against him through his sly and crafty tricks after he had failed towin him over to his side. He aimed at inciting Imam `Aliy against Qais bycasting doubts on his loyalty to him. Therefore, the best answer to Mu'aawiyah'sevil plots was to show more loyalty to `Aliy and what he represented. Thisloyalty was not a mere pretence or a means to an end on Qais's part, butrather his firm conviction and belief. Therefore, he did not feel for a momentthat he was dismissed from his position, for Qais considered the governorshipand all other positions as a means to the ultimate end, namely, to servehis faith and religion. He dedicated himself to the service of the truth.
Whether he maintained his governorship of Egypt or stood by Imam `Aliyin the battlefield, it was one and the same thing for him, as long as theywere a means to attain truth.
When Mu'aawiyah left the Muslims no other way out but to unsheathe their swords against one another, Qais took the command of 5,000 Muslims who shared in mourning for Imam `Aliy's death.
Al-Hasan thought that it would be best to put an end to the prolonged suffering of Muslims and that deadly horrible conflict.
Therefore he agreed to negotiate with Mu'aawiyah and finally gave him his oath of allegiance.
When this happened, Qais pondered the matter in his mind and decided that no matter how right Al Hasan was in his decision, his soldiers had everyright to be consulted. Thus, he called them together and addressed them saying, "If you wish, we will keep on fighting to the last breath, or if you wish, I will ask Mu'aawiyah to guarantee your safety and security."
Naturally, Mu'aawiyah was relieved and overjoyed to be rid of one of his most dreaded and dangerous foes!
This man whose craftiness was tamed and subdued by Islam died in A.H. 59 in Al-Madiinah This was the man who used to say, "If I did not hear the Prophet say, `Craftiness and deceit reside in hell,' I would have been the craftiest man of the nation!" In the end he died, yet the fragrance of this trustworthy and disciplined Muslim still lingers on.