He was Zaid ibn Al-Khattab, the elder brother of Umar (ra). He had accepted Islam before Umar had. His faith in Allah and His messenger (pbuh) were his greatest strengths. He was tall, well built man, an ideal hero whose motive was, ”Actions speak louder than words.” He never stayed back from any call of Islam and was present in every battle, seeking martyrdom more than he would seek victory.
In the battle of Uhud, he was fighting the enemies of Islam ferociously. At one point his shield came off, and Umar (ra) seeing him without shield within the reach of the enemies, cried out to him,” O Zaid take may shield and fight with it. Zaid replied, ”I want martyrdom as much as you want it.” He continued fighting without his shield with astonishing bravery and heroism.
This hero of Islam was longing to meet Ar-Rajjal, wishing to put an end to his life by his own hands. Perhaps a little back story here on this man he sought would help us better understand his motive. This man Ar-Rajjal was a Muslim, who apostatized from Islam and Joined Musailamah, the Liar. He exploited his previous association with Islam, and the time that he had spent with the Prophet (pbuh) in Medina. Ar-Rajjal used his knowledge of all those things that he had learned, for evil things and cunningly supported and confirmed the sovereignty of Musailamah and his false prophethood.
He spread false news saying that he had heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say that he had taken Musailamah into partnership and when the Messenger (pbuh) died, he was worthy of carrying the banner of prophethood and revelation after him. Because of his association with the Prophet (pbuh) and his shenanigans, the supporters of Musailamah increased.
The prophet (pbuh) had prophesied indirectly about Ar-Rajjal as being the one whose molar in hell is greater than mount Uhud. When news of Ar-Rajjal reached Medina, the Muslims were enraged by this betrayal and the dangers this apostate posed to misleading people. His words and deeds intensified the conflict the Muslims had with their adversaries and they were eager to put an end to it. Most anxiously waiting for him, was our hero here, Zaid ibn al-Khattab.
When the day of Yamaamah approached, Zaid tightened his belt and set out to finish off this enemy of Islam. Khalid ibn Walid gathered the army of Islam and directed it to its positions leaving the leadership with Zaid ibn al-Khattab. Zaid fought Bani Hanifah, the followers of Musailamah, boldly and fiercely. At the beginning the battle was leaning towards the side of the enemies, and many Muslims fell as martyrs. Seeing the disheartened faces of the Muslims, Zaid climbed a hill and cried, ” O people! Grit your teeth, fight your enemy and go straight. By Allah, I’ll never speak till Allah beats them or I meet Him and then give my evidence.”
Saying this he climbed down and rushed straight into the human waves of the army seeking every moment the man he sought to kill. After many instances of finding and losing Ar-Rajjal on the battleground, he finally had his moment of success. He caught hold of him by his neck and then with his sword, cut off his head that was full of vanity, lies and villainy.
Musailamah was filled with horror at the killing of Ar-Rajjal. His killing spread in the army of Musailamah as a fire on the stormy day. Together they had promised their supporters, a glorious victory and establishment of a new state after it. Now that Ar-Rijjal lay dead, the whole prophecy of Musailamah was seen as a lie. The ranks of its whole army began to fall.
When the Muslims heard the news about Ar-Rajjal having been killed, they were filled with pride and dignity. Zaid at this moment raised his hands and supplicated to Allah swt thanking Him for his blessings and then returned back to his sword in silence keeping the oath he had taken. The oath to stay silent till victory was theirs, or till he achieved martyrdom.
Allah swt granted him his wish on the same glorious day. He died a magnanimous, graceful and a happy martyr. The victorious army of Islam returned to Medina.
When the army reached Medina, Umar (ra) was waiting to see his brother. When the Muslims consoled him about his brother’s martyrdom, he said, ”May Allah have mercy upon Zaid, he preceded me in two instances. He embraced Islam before me and gained martyrdom before me, too.”