The Legacy of Jafar ibn Abi Talib (al-Tayyar)

The Legacy of Jafar ibn Abi Talib (Al-Tayyar)

Table of Contents

Jafar ibn Abi Talib, also known as Jafar al-Tayyar, was a prominent figure in early Islam and is remembered for his intelligence, knowledge, bravery, and leadership skills. He was the son of Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, and grew up in close proximity to the Prophet.

Jafar was known for his strong faith and devotion to Islam and played a key role in the early spread of the religion. He served as a commander in several military campaigns and was also known for his diplomacy and negotiation skills.

In addition to his military and diplomatic achievements, Jafar is also remembered for his knowledge and scholarship. He was a respected teacher and mentor to many early Muslims. His insights and teachings continue to be studied and revered by Muslims today.

Despite the challenges he faced, Jafar remained committed to the cause of Islam and is highly respected by Muslims for his contributions to the religion.

Today, Jafar is remembered as a courageous and influential figure in early Islam, and his legacy continues to inspire Muslims around the world.

Personal Life

Jafar ibn Abi Talib was the son of Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad. He was the older brother of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, and the uncle of Imam Hassan and Hussain. He was born roughly around 35 years before migration to Medina. Jafar also had several sisters, including Zainab, who was known for her charitable works and is highly respected by Muslims for her role in the early spread of Islam.

Jafar was married and had several children. One of his sons, Abdullah, is remembered for his role in the Battle of Hunayn, in which he fought alongside his father. Another son, Musa, was also a respected military commander and played a vital role in the early spread of Islam.

Jafar’s personal life was marked by several tragic events, including the death of several of his children and his wife. Despite these setbacks, Jafar remained committed to the cause of Islam and continued to serve the Muslim community with distinction. He is remembered as a devoted husband, father, and leader, and his legacy continues to inspire Muslims around the world.

Jafar’s teknonym was Abu ‘Abdullah because he had a son called Abdullah. His other teknonym was Abu l-Masakin (the father of the poor) because he supported and helped the poor. After his death by the loss of his two hands, he was called Tayyar (the flying one) and Dhu l-Janahayn (the one with two wings).

His Islam

He was one of the first to convert to Islam. In fact, he was the second person to embrace Islam shortly after his brother, Imam Ali, peace be upon him.

He is the second of the men who prayed with the Messenger of God, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, in the first congregation held in Islam, as it was narrated that Abu Talib saw the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, and Ali praying. He said to Jafar al-Tayyar: complete the other wing of your cousin, then he said:

Ali and Jafar are my trust in the midst of time and distress.

By God, I will not fail the Prophet, nor will he be let down from the sons of good lineage (meaning Imam Ali and Jafar).

Immigration to Abyssinia

Five years after the Prophet (s) started his mission (615 CE), as a consequence of being annoyed by pagans of Mecca, and upon a commandment from the Prophet (s), a group of Muslims migrated from Mecca to Abyssinia to take refuge from persecution.

He migrated, may God be pleased with him, with the second batch that migrated to Abyssinia, and Jafar al-Tayyar was at the head of the immigrants. Jafar al-Tayyar led the group composed of 82 men, some women, and children. The Prophet (s) said to these people, “Take refuge in Abyssinia. Their king is a righteous man who does not wrong anyone. Travel there until God makes an opening for Muslims.”[1]

Negus called them to the court after learning about the Muslim group’s entrance. Jafar b. Abi Talib said to Negus, “I will tell you what I have heard from my leader, the Prophet (s).” Then as a spokesperson of Islam, he said, “A prophet has emerged among us to call us to avoid idolatry, usury, wronging others, unjust bloodshed, adultery, and fornication. He has invited us to prayer, zakat (charity), justice, and kindness to neighbors.” Then, Negus asked him, “Do you have anything from what the Prophet (s) has brought you from God?” Jafar read verses from Surah 19 (Maryam), which is about the story of Mary and Jesus (a). Negus wept after he heard these verses.[2]

Meccan unbelievers had tried to persuade Negus with gifts to reject the Muslim group, but he refused their request and allowed Muslims to live safely in that land.

Muslims stayed in Abyssinia until the year 6 AH/627-8 CE. Just before the Battle of Khaybar, the Prophet (s) asked Negus to return the Muslims. He accepted, embraced Islam, and sent Jafar and others. For that, Jafar was known as “Dhu al-Hijratan,”  The two-migrant.

He came to the Messenger of God, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, in the seventh year of the Hijra, during the battle of Khaybar, and the Messenger, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family embraced him upon seeing him and said his famous saying: “I do not know which of them I am happier with, the arrival of Jafar or the conquest of Khaybar.”[3]

Jafar al-Tayyar’s Merits

Jafar b. Abi Talib was a powerful orator who was also generous, brave, and mystical. He was tolerant and humble. Jafar b. Abi Talib was high-ranking, the master of the martyrs and soldiers.

In the book Al-Isabah (vol. 1, p. 238), the author says, “Jafar used to love the poor and sit with them and serve them, and they served him. He would talk to them, and they would talk to him. The Messenger of God, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, nicknamed him (Abu al-Masakin – the father of the poor). And the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best of people are Hamza, Jafar, and Ali.”

It is reported that the Prophet (s) said, “People are created from different trees. Jafar and I are created from the same tree and have the same substance.”[4] In another hadith, he said, “Jafar, you are like me in appearance and behavior.”[5]

 This similarity was so much that sometimes people greeted Jafar al-Tayyar by saying, “Assalamu Alaykum, O the Messenger of God!” Jafar replied, “I am not the Messenger of God, but Jafar.”[6]

Imam Al-Baqir said: “God Almighty revealed to His Messenger: I thanked Jafar bin Abi Talib for four qualities. So, the Prophet called him and told him: Had it not been for God telling you, I would not have told you, I have never drunk wine because I knew that if I drank it, my mind would go away, and I never lied because lying lacks virility, and I never committed adultery because I was afraid that if I do it will be done to me, and I did not worship an idol because I knew that it does not harm or benefit. He said: So, the Prophet tapped his shoulder and said: God Almighty has the right to make for you two wings to fly with the angels in heaven.[7]

The Martyrdom of Jafar al-Tayyar

According to historical accounts, Jafar was martyred in 629 CE, the tenth of Jumada al-Thani 8 AH, at the Battle of Mu’tah in present-day Jordan. The battle occurred during Islam’s early years and was fought between a Muslim army and the Byzantine Empire. Jafar served as the commander of the Muslim army and was fighting bravely until his hands were cut off, and he was killed in the fighting.

He was then 41 years old and was the first of the sons of Abi Talib to be martyred and the tenth person to die in this battle.

Jafar’s death was a major loss for the Muslim community and was mourned by the Prophet and his followers. He is remembered as a courageous and dedicated leader who made significant contributions to the cause of Islam.

Jafar al-Tayyar and other Muslims who were martyred in that battle were buried in Mazar, near Muta, Jordan. Muslims honor his grave and visit him throughout the year.

Mourning of the Prophet Over Jafar

When the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, came to mourn the death of Jafar al-Tayyar, may God be pleased with him, he came to his wife, Asma bint Umays, and he consoled her about her husband, Jafar. Fatima, peace be upon her, entered while crying and saying: “O my uncle.” So he, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, said: For someone like Jafar, let the mourners weep.[8]

His martyrdom was very heavy on the heart of the Prophet as he loved him so much and also on his brother Imam Ali, peace be upon him. He loved him so much that Abdullah b. Jafar said, “Whenever I wanted something from my uncle, I abjured him by the name of my father, Jafar, and he accepted.”[9]

We pray that his legacy will continue to inspire us and future generations and that we will always remember him with love and respect.

Prayer of Jafar al-Tayyar

When Jafar al-Tayyar returned from Abyssinia, the Prophet (s) welcomed Jafar by taking 12 steps forwards. He hugged him, kissed his forehead, and then said, “would you like me to give you a gift?” Jafar said: “yes, O the Messenger of Allah!” Since Muslims had gained many booties in the Battle of Khaybar, everyone thought that the Prophet (s) was going to give gold and silver to Jafar, but the Prophet (s) told Jafar:

“Pray four Rukah every day, and if you can’t once a week, and if you can’t once every month, and if you can’t once a year, and if you can’t once in your lifetime, for if you pray it, Allah will wipe all your sins away even if your sins were equal to the sands of the deserts and the seabed.”

Then it was said to the Prophet: Oh, Messenger of Allah, he who prays this salah will also be given the same reward as Jafar? He said: Yes.

How to perform it:

Glorify Allah 15 times when standing up after reciting the surah of Hamd and another chapter saying: “Subhanallah wa al-hamdulillah wa la ilaha illallah wallahu akbar.”

And when you bow, you say it ten times, and when you raise your head from bowing, you say it ten times, and when you prostrate, you say it ten times, and when you raise your head from prostration, you say it ten times. When you prostrate a second time, say it ten times, and when you raise your head from the second prostration, say it

ten times. Then you get up and pray two rak’ahs in the same manner.[10]


[1] Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 18, p. 412

[2] Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 18, p. 415

[3] Almuqanaei: 139

[4] Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī, Maqātil al-ṭālibīyyīn, p. 10

[5] Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 22, p. 276

[6] Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 4, p. 125

[7] al’amali lilsaduqi: 133 ha127

[8] Altabaqat alkubraa 8/ 282

[9] Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 4, p. 126

[10] Al-Hidayat: 153, bab 61

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