Abu-Dujana (RA)- The Red-Banded Warrior
Amongst the Lions of Allah was a companion by the name of Abu Dujana Sammak bin Kharsha (r.a.a). He was from the Ansar and accepted Islam early in the Prophet's (s.a.w) mission. He was known for his piety and strength and bravery in Jihad. Wherever we find his name in the books of Sunnah, he can be found fighting for the Deen of Allah.
During the battle of Uhud, the second most significant battle (after the victory of Badr), the Prophet (peace be upon him) urged his Companions to fight and spurred them to show stamina and steadfastness in the Jihad. He started to implant the spirit of boldness and bravery in them. To wage and inflame them and maintain their zeal in the fight, he (peace be upon him) drew his sword, held it in his hand and called out to his Sahaba and said, "Who is ready to take this sword and fulfill it's right?" Many notable Sahaba set out to take it. Amongst them were 'Ali bin Abi Talib, Az-Zubair bin Al-'Awwam and 'Umar bin Al-Khattab. But it was granted to none of them. Abu Dujana stood and inquired, "O Messenger of Allah, what is its price?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "It is to strike the enemy's faces with it until it breaks!" So Abu Dujana said, "O Messenger of Allah, I will take it for that price." and he was given the sword.
Abu Dujana was a man of courage who used to stand proud and brave in war. He had a red headband that he wore round his head. Whenever he was head-banded everybody knew that he was determined to fight to death. Therefore as soon as Abu Dujana took the Prophet's (peace be upon him) sword, he banded his head and started strutting proudly amongst the Mujahideen. Upon seeing this, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "This is a sort of walking that Allah detests except in such a situation (Jihad)."
In the battle of Uhud, countless acts of courage can be noted from several of the Sahaba. Abu Dujana, recognized by the red band worn round his head, came forth, fighting with the sword of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was determined to pay its price at all costs. He slaughtered all the idolaters that stood on his way splitting and dispersing their ranks. Az-Zubair bin Al-'Awwam said, "I felt angry and discouraged when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) refused to give me the sword but instead gave it to Abu Dujana. I said to myself, 'I am his paternal cousin. I am the cousin of his aunt Safiya. Also, I am from his tribe (Quraish). Besides, I was the first who demanded it and yet he favoured him to me. By Allah, I will watch how he will use it.' So I followed him and saw him take out his red band and wear it round his head.
Seeing him like that, the Ansar said, 'Abu Dujana has worn the red band of death'.
Then he (Abu Dujana) set out saying loudly (in the form of poetry), 'I am the one whom my intimate friend [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] made covenant with, when we were under the palm-trees on the mountain side. The covenant was that I would not fight at the rear, but fight at the front heroically with the sword of Allah and His Messenger.' During this battle no one stood the way of Abu Dujana and remained alive. There was a man among the idolaters whose only objective was to finish off the wounded Muslims. During the fight, Abu Dujana approached that man; so I (Az-Zubair bin Al-'Awwam) implored Allah that they might engage in combat. They did start fighting and exchanged two sword-strokes. The idolater swung at Abu Dujana, but he escaped it and the sword pierced into his (Abu Dujana's) leather shield. The idolater's sword now stuck to his shield, Abu Dujana lunged at that Kafir with his sword and killed him. Then into the thick of the battle, he rushed to kill a person who was inciting the enemy to fight the Muslims. Upon this the person shrieked and lo! it was a woman. Abu Dujana spared her saying, 'I respect the Prophet's (peace be upon him) sword too much to use it on a woman.' The woman was Hind bint 'Utbah (the wife of Abu Sufyan who was leading the Quraish army against the Muslims, who later became Muslim)."
[Ibn Hisham Vol. 2 pg.68-69]
Describing the same incident, Az-Zubair bin Al-'Awwam said, "I saw Abu Dujana raising a sword over the parting of Hind bint 'Utba's hair but then he moved it away. I said to myself, 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' (i.e. why he didn't kill her)."
Before the battle of Uhud began the Prophet (s.a.w) had ordered a group of archers to remain on one side of a mountain to offer protection to the rear of the Muslim army. However, when the Muslims started to defeat their enemies, forty of the archers raced down the mountain in order to receive their share of the war booty. The Quraish used this opportunity to circle back and attack the rear of the Muslim army. They even got close enough to attack to Holy Prophet (s.a.w) himself, injuring him severely.
During those awkward moments of the Messenger of Allah's (s.a.w) life, a group of Muslim heroes gathered around the Prophet (s.a.w) forming a shield to protect him from the Kuffar. Among them was Abu Dujana. He stood before the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), shielding him from the arrows with his back.
While these assaults on the Prophet's (s.a.w) life continued, Uthman ibn Abdullah ibn Al-Mugheerah (one of the enemy) approached him and tried to kill him. But Al-Harith bin As-Simma came to his defense and sliced into Uthman's leg making him fall to the ground. Then Al-Harith killed him. But another Makkan horseman, called 'Abdullah bin Jabir, attacked Al-Harith bin As-Simma, and cut deeply into his shoulder with his sword and he (al-Harith) was carried to the camp of the Muslims suffering from serious wounds. Soon afterwards, Abu Dujana, with his red headband and the Prophet's (s.a.w) sword, came upon 'Abdullah bin Jabir and cut his head off with a single stroke.
During the confusion caused by the archers' mistake of abandoning their post, many Sahaba were martyred. So Quraish started to mutilate their bodies to appease their pride over their defeat at Badr. Ka'b bin Masaid, "I was one of those Muslims who fought in Uhud and witnessed the Kuffar's act of barbarity in mutilating the dead bodies, but I left this sight because I couldn't stand it. Then I saw an armed stout mushrik pass through the Muslims and say, 'Gather them up like sheep are gathered and slaughtered!' Similarly I saw an armed Muslim waiting for him. I walked towards them till I stood behind him (the Muslim). Comparing both of them, I considered that the Kafir was superior to the other in arms and size. I kept on watching them while they engaged in man-to-man combat. The Muslim raised his sword up and swung it down hard on the Kafir, so forcefully that the blade went down his hip and split him in half. When the Muslim unveiled his face, he looked at me and said, "What do you think of that, Ka'b? I am Abu Dujana."
After the battle concluded, in the evening of that day (i.e. Saturday, the seventh of Shawwal, 3rd year A.H.), the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arrived in Madinah. As soon as he reached his house, he handed his sword to his daughter Fatimah and said, "O daughter, wash the blood off this sword. By Allah, it has been helpful to me today." 'Ali bin Abi Talib also handed her his sword and said, "And wash the blood of this sword too. By Allah, it has been helpful to me today." So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, "Sahl bin Haneef and Abu Dujana have been as courageous as you are in the Jihad."
After the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), during the Khalifah of Abu Bakr (r.a.a), Abu Dujana fought until he was Shaheed (martyred) against the army of Musailima al-Kathab [the Liar who claimed Prophethood in the lifetime of the Prophet (s.a.w) and made war against his Sahaba when Abu Bakr was Khalifah.] To us, his life is a legacy of sacrifice and lessons of bravery and fierceness against Kufr. And to the soldiers of Allah who wear the "red band of death" in our time, he is the epitome of a true Mujahid. May the mercy of Allah be upon Abu Dujana and may He guide our Muslim youth towards the example he left behind. Ameen.