Ikrimah was the son of the infamous opponent of Islam — Abu Jahl. He fought against Muslims and remained an enemy of Islam for a long time. He attended the Battle of Badr where his father was killed. After his father’s death Ikrimah returned to Makkah and became more aggressive against Islam. He took part in the Battle of Uhud and the Battle of the Trench against Muslims.
Almighty Allah gave strength to Muslims and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) led a campaign against Makkah. He adopted a strategy of surrounding the city from all sides so that the city could be protected against any onslaught by the Quraish. The Prophet (pbuh) advised his commanders not to fight in the sacred sanctuary. But Ikrimah was in a different mood. He raised an army and attacked the contingent of Muslim commander Khalid bin Waleed. As a result Ikrimah lost four fighters and fled.
Soon afterward Makkah witnessed a different scene. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was standing at the door of the Holy Kaaba. Hundreds of idols in and around the Kaaba were smashed and Bilal bin Rabah was calling Adhan from the rooftop of the Kaaba. Thousands of Quraish who were staunch enemies of Islam were expecting revenge from the Muslims — mass execution for their decade-long crimes. Suddenly the Prophet (pbuh) declared, “Go back you all are free.” The pagans of Makkah were astonished to hear those words. They had never experienced such magnanimity and generosity in their history. Only six people were to be executed for their crimes and Ikrimah was one of them.
The people realized the greatness of Islam and came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to embrace the new religion. But Ikrimah was not among them. He fled from Makkah to save his life and headed toward the seashore. He remembered his crimes and thought that nobody could save his life. Even the staunch enemies of Islam like Amr Ibnal Aas and Abu Sufyan had embraced Islam and received great favor from the Prophet (pbuh).
When thousands of Makkans embraced Islam within a few days, a group of women came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “We have come to embrace Islam.” When a lady lifted her veil — she was Hind bint Utba, the one who had hired a slave to kill Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib (the uncle of the Prophet) and chewed his liver after his murder. She spoke bluntly, “You were the most hated person for me in the past but today you are the most loved one.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) welcomed her into the fold of Islam and prayed for her forgiveness.
The next woman was Umm Hakim, wife of Ikrimah. She wanted to embrace Islam and she was welcomed by the Prophet. Then she said, “My husband Ikrimah fled the city fearing for his life. Would you be kind enough to pardon him and grant him amnesty?” To her surprise the Prophet (pbuh) said, “He is granted security.” She burst with joy and ran toward the coast looking for her husband.
Umm Hakeem traveled in pursuit of her husband, taking with her a slave who belonged to her husband, but the slave tried to seduce her. Feeling her vulnerability, she resorted to delaying tactics, promising him a positive response in good time. When they passed a tribe, she sought their help and they managed to chain him and kept him prisoner. She continued her travel until she reached an area by the seaside before reaching Yemen. Her husband was there.
Prior to her arrival there, Ikrimah had boarded a boat aiming for Yemen, but the boat was caught in a storm. The headman told the passengers that they should pray sincerely. Ikrimah asked him how to pray, and the man told him to say, “there is no deity other than God.” He said: “I fled so that I would not say this.” The people in the boat told him: “Your deities will avail you nothing.” The boat managed to get back to shore and Ikrimah was saved. His wife caught up with him at this stage.
She said to him: “I have come to you, having met the best, kindest and most compassionate man. Do not risk your life again. I have obtained a pledge of security for you.” And she told him what she did. He decided to go back with her. As they were on their way back she told him what the slave tried to do. He killed the slave. On the way, his wife refused him as he approached her for sex, saying that now that she was a Muslim and he was not, she could not respond to him. He said: “If your faith will stop you responding to me when I am your husband, then it must be very serious.”
Before Ikrimah came, the Prophet (pbuh) told those present there, “Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl is coming to you. Don’t curse his father because the cursing of a dead hurts a living person and does not reach the dead.” When Ikrimah reached, the Prophet (pbuh) welcomed him. Ikrimah said, “O Prophet of Allah, Umm Hakim told me that you have granted me amnesty.” He replied, “She is right and you have full security now.” Ikrimah then recited the Kalima and became a Muslim. He requested the Prophet (pbuh) to pray for the forgiveness of his past deeds. Then he said, “O Prophet of God, whatever money I have spent in preventing people from coming to the way of Allah, I will spend double the amount in inviting people to the right path. And whatever battles I have fought against Islam I will fight twice that number for the sake of Islam.”
Ikrimah participated in all the battles after his conversion to Islam. During the Battle of Yarmouk in Syria he entered deep into the enemy ranks. Khalid bin Waleed, who was the commander, advised him not to go deep into the enemy ranks as his death would be a great loss for Muslims. He replied, “O Khalid! you preceded me in Islam. Let me atone for the past sins. I fought much against the Prophet in the past, should I now be afraid of the Romans. No, it will never happen.”
He called on the Muslims to launch a fierce attack and finally Allah Almighty gave victory to Muslims. The battlefield was littered with corpses. Historian Baladhuri reported that 70,000 enemy combatants were killed and 3,000 Muslims were martyred in the Battle of Yarmouk.
There great Muslim fighters — Harith bin Hisham, Ayyash bin Abi Rabiah, (cousin of Khalid bin Waleed) and Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl were wounded. Harith cried for water, when it was brought to him, he saw Ikrimah looking at it. He asked the person to give water first to Ikrimah, but when it was brought to Ikrimah, he saw Ayyash looking at it. He said, “Give it first to Ayyash.” But when the water was brought to Ayyash, he died before drinking it. Then the person turned toward Ikrimah and Harith to give them water, but both had passed away.
Source: Arab News