Hadrat Ja ‘far Tayyar was the brother of Hadrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him. His father’s name was Abu Talib. By this relation Hadrat Ja ‘far was a first cousin of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). After the death of his parents and his grandfather, the Holy Prophet )peace be upon him) had lived with Abu Talib. Hence Hadrat Ali and Hadrat Ja ‘far Tayyar (Allah be pleased with them) loved him very much. Since they had been so close, they were well acquainted with each other. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) loved Hadrat Ja ‘far not because he was his first cousin, but because of his virtues.
When the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) preached Islam to the members of his own family for the first time, Hadrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) embraced Islam at once. After a few days when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was offering his prayers with Hadrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him), Abu Talib suddenly came in with Hadrat Ja ‘far, Abu Talib saw his son and nephew engaged in prayers with great reverence. He was much impressed by this scene. He said to Hadrat Ja ‘far, “My dear son, you may also join them.” Hadrat Ja ‘far (Allah be pleased with him) at once stood at the left side of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He said the prayers. For the first time in his life he felt such exceeding joy in offering worship to one Allah that never again did he think of worshipping any other god. He testified faith in one Allah and ever remained a faithful follower of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
In those days it was not easy to follow Islam. The infidels of Mecca constantly harassed and persecuted even highly placed persons for the “crime” of embracing Islam. When Abu Talib was alive he restrained the infields to a great extent with his personal influence and kind temper. But after his death the persecution of the infidels became unbearable. Hazrat Ja ‘far was no exception. When the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) saw that the cruelties of the Quraish had become intolerable, he ordered the Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia. By the order of their beloved Prophet (peace be upon him ), a party of Muslims migrated to Abyssinia. Hadrat Ja ‘far accompanied them.
The immigrants had hardly reached Abyssinia when a group of Quraish pagans arrived. Their sole purpose was to bring back the immigrants to Mecca, and take revenge from them. They presented themselves in the court of the Najashi, king of Abyssinia, and said.
“O king, some of our misguided youth have forsaken the religion of their ancestors and have embraced a new faith. They have run away from their motherland to your kingdom. We have been sent by their elders and relations to you with the request that they be asked to go back with us. We hope you will kindly allow us to take them back.”
Najashi was a very intelligent and good-natured king. He did not think it proper to hand over the immigrants to them without making an enquiry. He called the Muslims to his court and said: “What is that religion for which you left the religion of your ancestors ?”
The Muslims deputed Hadrat Ja ‘far to answer Najashi. On that occasion Hazrat Ja ‘far delivered a remarkable speech before the non-Muslims. His speech contained good criticism of the existing society on the one hand, and on the other, it was a comprehensive account of Islam, and its values. This speech, though short, was very eloquent. He said:
“O king, our people were ignorant and wild. We worshipped idols. We ate the flesh of the dead. We committed evil. We teased our neighbours. The strong tormented the weak. We usurped the rights of our relations. Oppression and evil was our daily routine of life, when Allah, with all his kindness sent towards us a man from amongst us as His Prophet. We knew him well and found him most honest and trust worthy, pious and virtuous, who commanded great respect and confidence in Mecca. He forbade us to worship idols and associate other deities with Allah. He convinced us of the Oneness of Allah, and truth and honesty. He taught us how to love the neighbours and relations and avoid telling to lie. He told us not to murder any one without reason. He prohibited deception, wrangling and evil and warned to keep our hands off the orphan’s property. He forbade us to make false accusation against anybody. He called the people to abandon idolatory, believe in one God, offer prayers, observe fasts and pay zakat. We have full faith in him and follow the way of life practiced by him. We abandoned idolatory and submit to One God. We came to know of lawful and unlawful. Consequently our own community and our friends turned into foes because of the change in our life and our views. They were determined to bring us back to idolatory and other evil practices by tormenting us and even take our lives if necessary. When their brutalities became unbearable we migrated to your country under orders of our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
Najashi listened to this speech attentively and then he said: “Recite to me some verses from the Book revealed to your Prophet.” Hadrat Ja ‘far (Allah be pleased with him), recited some verses from Surah Maryam. Najashi was deeply moved. He said: “By Allah! Your Holy Book and our Holy Book, the Old Testament, get light from the same source.” Then he told the Meccans very plainly, “By Allah, I will never hand over the Muslims to you.”
Having failed in their trick, the Quraish thought of another plan. They again presented themselves in Najashi’s court and said: “Sire, Do you know what is the opinion of these Muslims about Christ?” Najashi called the Muslims again for a reply. The Muslims hesitated because Islam refutes the Chiristians’ belief that Christ is the son of God. They feared that Najashi would get angry on hearing the truth. But Hadrat Ja ‘far (Allah be pleased with him) resolved that he would speak the truth at all cost and that he would present before Najashi the correct view of Islam about Jesus Christ. He said, “We believe in Christ as a devotee of Allah, a Prophet and His soul,” Najashi picked up a piece of straw from the ground and said: “By God, The Christ, son of Mary, is nothing more than what you said, not even to the worth of an straw.
The Quraish returned without any success, and Hadrat Ja ‘far stayed in Abyssinia with other Muslims. Meanwhile the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to Medina from Mecca. Khyber was conquered in 7 A. H. Now, the Muslim immigrants in Abyssinia also went to Medina. The love and affection, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had with Hadrat Ja ‘far, may be judged from the way they both met. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) embraced his dear consin as he came to him and kissing his forehead with affection said, “I do not know whether the return of Ja ‘far has pleased me more, or the conquest of Khyber.”
In the eighth year of Hijrah three thousand Muslims met one lakh Romans in the battle of Mauta. Hadrat Zaid bin Haritha led the Muslim army. Hadrat Ja ‘far also took part in this battle. Hadrat Zaid laid down his life for the cause of Islam.
Next to him Hadrat Ja ‘far commanded the Muslim army. He broke through the ranks of the enemy with the Muslim flag in his hand, and pushed the enemy back. But the overwhelming number of the enemy held sway everywhere. Hadrat Ja ‘far’s whole body had innumerable wounds upon it. He lost both of his hands. He was so dauntless that when one hand was cut off and it fell to the ground, he supported the banner with his second hand. And, when the second hand was also cut off, the bold soldier of Islam did not allow the banner to fall down, but pressed it to his breast, and the Romans killed him in that position.
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) had also joined this battle. He says, “When I searched out the dead body of Ja ‘far (Allah be pleased with him), I counted fifty wounds on his body at the front; the number of all the wounds over the whole body was more than ninety. But, by Allah, he had no wound on his back.”
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) at once knew about the couse of events in this battle through the Holy Ghost. Tears began to flow from his eyes. Gabriel, the Holy Ghost had also informed the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) that Allah had given two wings to Hazrat Ja ‘far in place of his lost arms, with which he was flying about in the Eternal Gardens. In the Arabic language the flier is termed “tayyar”. So he became known as “Ja ‘far Tayyar” (Allah be pleased with him).
Hazrat Ja ‘far Tayyar (Allah be pleased with him) possessed many other qualities besides courage and chivalry. He was associated with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) ever since his childhood, and was fully acquainted with the spirit and implications of Islam. He strictly followed the commandments Allah and the Holy Prophet throughout his life and acquired a very high and respectable position among the companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Hadrat Abu Huraira says: “On several occasions I tied pebbles to my stomach to lesson the pangs of hunger. And, while in desperate hunger, I used to ask the meaning of some Qur’anic verses from well to do persons, (although I knew their meaning) in the hope that they would take me home and feed me. In helping the poor and needy I found Ja ‘far (Allah be pleased with him) better than others. He would take us home and put before us anything he had. Sometimes he served us with an empty bag of honey or butter and tore it open, so that we could satisfy our hunger by licking it.
This shows that Hadrat Ja ‘far (Allah be pleased with him) was very hospitable. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) used to call him ‘Abul Masakeen’ (guardian of the needy). The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) once said.
“Ja ‘far! You resemble me in features as well as in habits.”
That was why the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) regarded him as one of his fourteen trusted friends. Hadrat Ja ‘far’s son ‘Abdullah says :
“Whenever I asked my uncle, Hadrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) for something, he refused; but when I demanded anything in the name of my father, Ja ‘far, he would never refuse.