Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Mother of the Believers, may God be pleased with her. His father was Qays ibn Said and his mother was Aatikah bint Abdullah. She was called Umm Maktum (Mother of the Concealed One) because she gave birth to a blind child.
Abdullah witnessed the rise of Islam in Makkah. He was amongst the first to accept Islam. He lived through the persecution of the Muslims and suffered what the other companions of the Prophet experienced. His attitude, like theirs, was one of firmness, staunch resistance and sacrifice. Neither his dedication nor his faith weakened against the violence of the Quraysh onslaught. In fact, all this only increased his determination to hold on to the religion of God and his devotion to His messenger.
Abdullah was devoted to the noble Prophet and he was so eager to memorize the Quran that he would not miss any opportunity to achieve his hearts desire. Indeed, his sense of urgency and his insistence could sometimes have been irritating as he, unintentionally, sought to monopolize the attention of the Prophet.
In this period, the Prophet, peace be upon him, was concentrating on the Quraysh notables and was eager that they should become Muslims. On one particular day, he met Utbah ibn Rabiah and his brother Shaybah, Amr ibn Hisham better known as Abu Jahl, Umayyah ibn Khalaf and Walid ibn Mughirah, the father of Khalid ibn Walid who was later to be known as Sayf Allah or 'the sword of God'. He had begun talking and negotiating with them and telling them about Islam. He so much wished that they would respond positively to him and accept Islam or at least call off their persecution of his companions.
While he was thus engaged, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum came up and asked him to read a verse from the Quran. "O messenger of God," he said, "teach me from what God has taught you."
The Prophet frowned and turned away from him. He turned his attention instead to the prestigious group of Quraysh, hoping that they would become Muslims and that by their acceptance of Islam they would bring greatness to the religion of God and strengthen his mission. As soon as he had finished speaking to them and had left their company. he suddenly felt partially blinded and his head began to throb violently. At this point the following revelation came to him:
"He frowned and turned away when the blind man approached him ! Yet for all you knew, (O Muhammad), he might perhaps have grown in purity or have been reminded of the Truth, and helped by this reminder. Now as for him who believes himself to be self-sufficient, to him you gave your whole attention, although you are not accountable for his failure to attain to purity. But as for him who came unto you full of eagerness and in awe of God, him did you disregard.
Nay, verily, this is but a reminder and so, whoever is willing may remember Him in the light of His revelations blest with dignity, lofty and pure, borne by the hands of messengers, noble and most virtuous.'
(Surah Abasa 8O: 116)
These are the sixteen verses which were revealed to the noble Prophet about Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum, sixteen verses that have continued to be recited from that time till today and shall continue to be recited.
From that day the Prophet did not cease to be generous to Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. to ask him about his affairs, to fulfill his needs and take him into his council whenever he approached. This is not strange. Was he not censured by God in a most severe manner on Abdullah's account? In fact, in later years, he often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum with these words of humility:
"Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me." When the Quraysh intensified their persecution of the Prophet and those who believed with him, God gave them permission to emigrate. Abdullahs response was prompt. He and Musab ibn Umayr were the first of the Companions to reach Madinah.
As soon as they reached Yathrib, he and Musab began discussing with the people, reading the Quran to them and teaching them the religion of God. When the Prophet, upon whom be peace, arrived in Madinah, he appointed Abdullah and Bilal ibn Rabah to be muadh-dhins for the Muslims, proclaiming the Oneness of God five times a day, calling man to the best of actions and summoning them to success .
Bilal would call the adhan and Abdullah would pronounce the iqamah for the Prayer. Sometimes they would reverse the process. During Ramadan, they adopted a special routine. One of them would call the adhan to wake people up to eat before the fast began. The other would call the adhan to announce the beginning of dawn and the fast. It was Bilal who would awaken the people and Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum who would announce the beginning of dawn.
One of the responsibilities that the Prophet placed on Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was to put him in charge of Madinah in his absence. This was done more than ten times, one of them being when he left for the liberation of Makkah.
Soon after the battle of Badr, the Prophet received a revelation from God raising the status of the mujahideen and preferring them over the qaideen (those who remain inactive at home). This was in order to encourage the mujahid even further and to spur the qaid to give up his inactivity. This revelation affected ibn Umm Maktum deeply. It pained him to be thus barred from the higher status and he said:
O messenger of God. If I could go on jihad, I would certainly do." He then earnestly asked God to send down a revelation about his particular case and those like him who were prevented because of their disabilities from going on military campaigns.
His prayer was answered. An additional phrase was revealed to the Prophet exempting those with disabilities from the import of the original verse. The full ayah became:
"Not equal are those who remain seated among the believers, except those who possess disabilities, and those who strive and fight in the way of God with their wealth and their persons."
(Surah an-Nisaa, 4: 95).
In spite of thus being excused from jihad, the soul of Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum refused to be content with staying among those who remained at home when an expedition was in progress. Great souls are not content with remaining detached from affairs of great moment. He determined that no campaign should by-pass him. He fixed a role for himself on the battle field. He would say: "Place me between two rows and give me the standard. I will carry it for you and protect it, for I am blind and cannot run away. "
In the fourteenth year after the hijrah, Umar resolved to mount a major assault against the Persians to bring down their State and open the way for the Muslim forces. So he wrote to his governors:
"Send anyone with a weapon or a horse or who can offer any form of help to me. And make haste."
Crowds of Muslims from every direction responded to Umar's call and converged on Madinah. Among all these was the blind mujahid Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. Umar appointed Saud ibn Abi Waqqas commander over the army, gave him instructions and bade him farewell. When the army reached Qadisiyyah, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was prominent, wearing a coat of armor and fully prepared. He had vowed to carry and protect the standard of the Muslims or be killed in the process.
The forces met and engaged in battle for three days. The fighting was among the most fierce and bitter in the history of the Muslim conquests. On the third day, the Muslims achieved a mighty victory as one of the greatest empires in the world collapsed and one of the most secure thrones fell. The standard of Tawhid was raised in an idolatrous land. The price of this clear victory was hundreds of martyrs. Among them was Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. He was found dead on the battlefield clutching the flag of the Muslims.
He was one of the first eight persons to accept Islam. He was one of the ten persons (al-asharatu-l mubashshirin) who were assured of entering Paradise. He was one of the six persons chosen by Umar to form the council of shura to choose the Khalifah after his death.
His name in Jahiliyyah days was Abu Amr. But when he accepted Islam the noble Prophet called him Abdur-Rahman - the servant of the Beneficent God.
Abdur-Rahman became a Muslim before the Prophet entered the house of al-Arqam. In fact it is said that he accepted Islam only two days after Abu Bakr as-Siddiq did so.
Abdur-Rahman did not escape the punishment which the early Muslims suffered at the hands of the Quraysh. He bore this punishment with steadfastness as they did. He remained firm as they did. And when they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia because of the continuous and unbearable persecution, Abdur-Rahman also went. He returned to Makkah when it was rumored that conditions for the Muslims had improved but, when these rumors proved to be false, he left again for Abyssinia on a second hijrah. From Makkah once again he made the hijrah to Madinah.
Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet in his unique manner began pairing off the Muhajirin and the Ansar. This established a firm bond of brotherhood and was meant to strengthen social cohesion and ease the destitution of the Muhajirin. Abdur-Rahman was linked by the Prophet with Sad ibn ar-Rabi'ah. Sad in the spirit of generosity and magnanimity with which the Ansar greeted the Muhajirin, said to Abdur-Rahman:
"My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See which of the two orchards you like and I shall vacate it for you and which of my two wives is pleasing to you and I will divorce her for you."
Abdur-Rahman must have been embarrassed and said in reply: "May God bless you in your family and your wealth. But just show me where the suq is.."
Abdur-Rahman went to the market-place and began trading with whatever little resources he had. He bought and sold and his profits grew rapidly. Soon he was sufficiently well off and was able to get married. He went to the noble Prophet with the scent of perfume lingering over him.
"Mahyarn, O Abdur-Rahman!" exclaimed the Prophet - "mahyam" being a word of Yemeni origin which indicates pleasant surprise.
"I have got married," replied Abdur-Rahman. "And what did you give your wife as mahr?" "The weight of a nuwat in gold."
"You must have a walimah (wedding feast) even if it is with a single sheep. And may Allah bless you in your wealth," said the Prophet with obvious pleasure and encouragement.
Thereafter Abdur-Rahman grew so accustomed to business success that he said if he lifted a stone he expected to find gold or silver under it!
Abdur-Rahman distinguished himself in both the battles of Badr and Uhud. At Uhud he remained firm throughout and suffered more than twenty wounds some of them deep and severe. Even so, his physical jihad was matched by his jihad with his wealth.
Once the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, was preparing to despatch an expeditionary force. He summoned his companions and said:
"Contribute sadaqah for I want to despatch an expedition." Abdur-Rahman went to his house and quickly returned. "O Messenger of God," he said, "I have four thousand (dinars). I give two thousand as a qard to my Lord and two thousand I leave for my family."
When the Prophet decided to send an expedition to distant Tabuk - this was the last ghazwah of his life that he mounted - his need for finance and material was not greater than his need for men for the Byzantine forces were a numerous and well-equipped foe. That year in Madinah was one of drought and hardship. The journey to Tabuk was long, more that a thousand kilometers. Provisions were in short supply. Transport was at a premium so much so that a group of Muslims came to the Prophet pleading to go with him but he had to turn them away because he could find no transport for them.
These men were sad and dejected and came to be known as the Bakka'in or the Weepers and the army itself was called the Army of Hardship ('Usrah). Thereupon the Prophet called upon his companions to give generously for the war effort in the path of God and assured them they would be rewarded. The Muslims' response to the Prophet's call was immediate and generous. In the fore front of those who responded was Abdur-Rahman ibn Awl. He donated two hundred awqiyyah of gold whereupon Umar ibn al-Khattab said to the Prophet:
"I have (now) seen Abdur-Rahman committing a wrong. He has not left anything for his family."
"Have you left anything for your family, Abdur-Rahman?" asked the Prophet.
"Yes," replied Abdur-Rahman. "I have left for them more than what I give and better." "How much?" enquired the Prophet.
"What God and His Messenger have promised of sustenance, goodness and reward," replied Abdur-Rahman.
The Muslim army eventually left for Tabuk. There Abdur-Rahman was blessed with an honor which was not conferred on anyone till then. The time of Salat came and the Prophet, peace be on him, was not there at the time. The Muslims chose Abdur-Rahman as their imam. The first rakat of the Salat was almost completed when the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, joined the worshippers and performed the Salat behind Abdur-Rahman ibn Awl. Could there be a greater honor conferred on anyone than to have been the imam of the most honored of God's creation, the imam of the Prophets, the imam of Muhammad, the Messenger of God!
When the Prophet, peace be on him, passed away, Abdur-Rahman took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family, the Ummahaat al-Muminin. He would go with them wherever they wanted to and he even performed Hajj with them to ensure that all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet's family.
Abdur-Rahman's support for the Muslims and the Prophet's wives in particular was well-known. Once he sold a piece of land for forty thousand dinars and he distributed the entire amount among the Banu Zahrah (the relatives of the Prophet's mother Aminah), the poor among the Muslims and the Prophet's wives. When Aishah, may God be pleased with her, received some of this money she asked:
"Who has sent this money?" and was told it was Abdur-Rahman, whereupon she said:
"The Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said: No one will feel compassion towards you after I die except the sabirin (those who are patient and resolute)."
The prayer of the noble Prophet that Allah should bestow barakah on the wealth of Abdur-Rahman appeared to be with Abdur-Rahman throughout his life. He became the richest man among the companions of the Prophet. His business transactions invariably met with success and his wealth continued to grow. His trading caravans to and from Madinah grew larger and larger bringing to the people of Madinah wheat, flour, butter, cloths, utensils, perfume and whatever else was needed and exporting whatever surplus produce they had.
One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard coming from beyond the boundaries of Madinah normally a calm and peaceful city. The rumbling sound gradually increased in volume. In addition, clouds of dust and sand were stirred up and blown in the wind. The people of Madinah soon realized that a mighty caravan was entering the city. They stood in amazement as seven hundred camels laden with goods moved into the city and crowded the streets. There was much shouting and excitement as people called to one another to come out and witness the sight and see what goods and sustenance the camel caravan had brought.
Aishah, may God be pleased with her, heard the commotion and asked: "What is this that's happening in Madinah?" and she was told: "It is the caravan of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awl which has come from Syria bearing his merchandise." "A caravan making all this commotion?" she asked in disbelief." "Yes, O Umm al-Muminin. There are seven hundred camels."
Aishah shook her head and gazed in the distance as if she was trying to recall some scene or utterance of the past and then she said:
"I have heard the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, say: I have seen Abdur-Rahman ibn Awl entering Paradise creeping."
Why creeping? Why should he not enter Paradise leaping and at a quick pace with the early companions of the Prophet?
Some friends of his related to Abdur-Rahman the hadith which Aishah had mentioned. He remembered that he had heard the hadith more than once from the Prophet and he hurried to the house of Aishah and said to her: "Yaa Ammah! Have you heard that from the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace?" "Yes," she replied.
"You have reminded me of a hadith which I have never forgotten," he is also reported to have said. He was so over-joyed and added:
"If I could I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing. I swear to you, yaa Ammah, that this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will giver sabilillah."
And so he did. In a great festival of charity and righteousness, he distributed all that the massive caravan had brought to the people of Madinah and surrounding areas.
This is just one incident which showed what type of man Abdur-Rahman was. He earned much wealth but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and he did not allow it to corrupt him.
Abdur-Rahman's generosity did not stop there. He continued giving with both his hands, secretly and openly. Some of the figures mentioned are truly astounding: forty thousand dirhams of silver, forty thousand dinars of gold, two hundred awqiyyah of gold, five hundred horses to mujahidin setting out in the path of God and one thousand five hundred camels to another group of mujahidin, four hundred dinars of gold to the survivors of Badr and a large legacy to the Ummahaat al Muminin and the catalogue goes on. On account of this fabulous generosity, Aishah said:
"May God give him to drink from the water of Salsabil (a spring in Paradise)." All this wealth did not corrupt Abdur-Rahman and did not change him. When he was among his workers and assistants, people could not distinguish him from them. One day food was brought to him with which to end a fast. He looked at the food and said:
"Musab ibn Umayr has been killed. He was better than me. We did not find anything of his to shroud him with except what covered his head but left his legs uncovered. . Then God endowed us with the (bounties of) the world... I really fear that our reward has been bestowed on us early (in this world)." He began to cry and sob and could not eat.
May Abdur-Rahman ibn Awl be granted felicity among "those who spend their substance in the cause of God and follow up not their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury. For them their reward is with their Lord, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve". (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 262).
Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb from the Banu Najjar was a great and close companion of the Prophet. He was known as Abu Ayyub (the father of Ayyub) and enjoyed a privilege which many of the Ansar in Madinah hoped they would have.
When the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, reached Madinah after his hijrah from Makkah, he was greeted with great enthusiasm by the Ansar of Madinah. Their hearts went out to him and their eyes followed him with devotion and love. They wanted to give him the most generous reception anyone could be given.
The Prophet first stopped at Quba on the outskirts of Madinah and stayed there for some days. The first thing he did was to build a mosque which is described in the Quran as the "mosque built on the foundation of piety (taqwa)". (Surah At-Tawhah 9: 1O8).
The Prophet entered Madinah on his camel. The chieftains of the city stood along his path, each one wishing to have the honor of the Prophet alighting and staying at his house. One after the other stood in the camel's way entreating, "Stay with us, O Rasulullah." "Leave the camel," the Prophet would say. "It is under command. "
The camel continued walking, closely followed by the eyes and hearts of the people of Yathrib. When it went past a house, its owner would feel sad and dejected and hope would rise in the hearts of others still on the route.
The camel continued in this fashion with the people following it until it hesitated at an open space in front of the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. But the Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not get down. After only a short while, the camel set off again, the Prophet leaving its reins loose. Before long, however, it turned round, retraced its steps and stopped on the same spot as before. Abu Ayyub's heart was filled with happiness. He went out to the Prophet and greeted him with great enthusiasm. He took the Prophet's baggage in his arms and felt as if he was carrying the most precious treasure in the world.
Abu Ayyub's house had two stories. He emptied the upper floor of his and his family's possessions so that the Prophet could stay there. But the Prophet, peace be on him, preferred to stay on the lower floor.
Night came and the Prophet retired. Abu Ayyub went up to the upper floor. But when they had closed the door, Abu Ayyub turned to his wife and said:
"Woe to us! What have we done? The messenger of God is below and we are higher than he! Can we walk on top of the messenger of God? Do we come between him and the Revelation (Wahy)? If so, we are doomed."
The couple became very worried not knowing what to do. They only got some peace of mind when they moved to the side of the building which did not fall directly above the Prophet. They were careful also only to walk on the outer parts of the floor and avoid the middle.
In the morning, Abu Ayyub said to the Prophet: "By God, we did not sleep a wink last night, neither myself nor Umm Ayyub." "Why not, Abu Ayyub?" asked the Prophet. Abu Ayyub explained how terrible they felt being above while the Prophet was below them and how they might have interrupted the Revelation. "Don't worry, Abu Ayyub," said the Prophet. "We prefer the lower floor because of the many people coming to visit us." "We submitted to the Prophet's wishes," Abu Ayyub related, "until one cold night a jar of ours broke and the water spilled on the upper floor. Umm Ayyub and I stared at the water We only had one piece of velvet which we used as a blanket. We used it to mop up the water out of fear that it would seep through to the Prophet. In the morning I went to him and said, 'I do not like to be above you,' and told him what had happened. He accepted my wish and we changed floors."
The Prophet stayed in Abu Ayyub's house for almost seven months until his mosque was completed on the open space where his camel had stopped. He moved to the roots which were built around the mosque for himself and his family. He thus became a neighbor of Abu Ayyub. What noble neighbor to have had!
Abu Ayyub continued to love the Prophet with all his heart end the Prophet also loved him dearly. There was no formality between them. The Prophet continued to regard Abu Ayyub's house as his own. The following anecdote tells a great deal about the relationship between them.
Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, once left his house in the burning heat of the midday sun and went to the mosque. Umar saw him and asked, "Abu Bakr, what has brought you out at this hour? Abu Bakr said he had left his house because he was terribly hungry and Umar said that he had left his house for the same reason. The Prophet came up to them and asked, "What has brought the two of you out at this hour?" They told him and he said, "By Him in Whose hands is my soul, only hunger has caused me to come out also. But come with me."
They went to the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. His wife opened the door and said, "Welcome to the Prophet and whoever is with him."
"Where is Abu Ayyub?" asked the Prophet. Abu Ayyub, who was working in a nearby palm grove, heard the Prophet's voice and came hurriedly.
"Welcome to the Prophet and whoever is with him," he said and went on "O Prophet of God, this is not the time that you usually come." (Abu Ayyub used to keep some food for the Prophet every day. When the Prophet did not come for it by a certain time, Abu Ayyub would give it to his family.) "You are right," the Prophet agreed.
Abu Ayyub went out and cut a cluster of dates in which there were ripe and halfripe dates. "I did not want you to eat this," said the Prophet. "Could you not have brought only the ripe dates?" "O Rasulullah, please eat from both the ripe dates (rutb) and the half ripe (busr). I shall slaughter an animal for you also. " "If you are going to, then do not kill one that gives milk," cautioned the Prophet. Abu Ayyub killed a young goat, cooked half and grilled the other half. He also asked his wife to bake, because she baked better he said.
When the food was ready, it was placed before the Prophet and his two companions. The Prophet took a piece of meat and placed it in a loaf and said, "Abu Ayyub, take this to Fatima. She has not tasted the like of this for days.
When they had eaten and were satisfied, the Prophet said reflectively: "Bread and meat and busr and rutb!" Tears began to flow from his eyes as he continued:
"This is a bountiful blessing about which you will be asked on the Day of judgment. If such comes your way, put your hands to it and say, Bismillah (In the name of God) and when you have finished say, Al hamdu lillah alladhee huwa ashbana wa anama alayna (Praise be to God Who has given us enough and Who has bestowed his bounty on us). This is best."
These are glimpses of Abu Ayyub's live during peace time. He also had a distinguished military career. Much of his time was spent as a warrior until it was said of him, "He did not stay away from any battle the Muslims fought from the time of the Prophet to the time of Muawiyah unless he was engaged at the same time in another."
The last campaign he took part in was the one prepared by Muawiyah and led by his son Yazid against Constantinople. Abu Ayyub at that time was a very old man, almost eighty years old. But that did not prevent him from joining the army and crossing the seas as a ghazi in the path of God. After only a short time engaged in the battle, Abu Ayyub fell ill and had to withdraw from fighting. Yazid came to him and asked:
"Do you need anything, Abu Ayyub?" "Convey my salaams to the Muslim armies and say to them: "Abu Ayyub urges you to penetrate deeply into the territory of the enemy as far as you can go, that you should carry him with you and that you should bury him under your feet at the walls of Constantinople." Then he breathed his last.
The Muslim army fulfilled the desire of the companion of the Messenger of God. They pushed back the enemy's forces in attack after attack until they reached the walls of Constantinople. There they buried him.
(The Muslims beseiged the city for four years but eventually had to withdraw after suffering heavy losses.)
Early in the morning, Abu-d Dardaa awoke and went straight to his idol which he kept in the best part of his house. He greeted it and made obeisance to it. Then he anointed it with the best perfume from his large shop and put on it a new raiment of beautiful silk which a merchant had brought to him the day before from Yemen.
When the sun was high in the sky he left his house for his shop. On that day the streets and alleys of Yathrib were crowded with the followers of Muhammad returning from Badr. With them were several prisoners of war. Abu-d Dardaa surveyed the crowds and then went up to a Khazraji youth and asked about the fate of Abdullah ibn Rawahah.
"He was put through the most severe tests in the battle," "but he emerged safely..."
Abu-d Dardaa was clearly anxious about his close friend, Abdullah ibn Rawahah. Everyone in Yathrib knew the bond of brotherhood which existed between the two men from the days of Jahiliyyah, before the coming of Islam to Yathrib. When Islam came to the city, Ibn Rawahah embraced it but Abu-d Dardaa rejected it. This however did not rupture the relationship between the two. Abdullah kept on visiting Abu-d Dardaa and tried to make him! see the virtues, the benefits and the excellence of Islam. But with every passing day, while Abu-d Dardaa remained a mushrik, Abdullah felt more sad and concerned.
Abu-d Dardaa arrived at his shop and sat cross-legged on a high chair. He began trading-buying and selling and giving instructions to his assistants unaware of what was going on at his house. For at that very time, Abdullah ibn Rawahah had gone to the house determined on a course of action. There, he saw that the main gate was open. Umm ad-Dardaa was in the courtyard and he said to her:
"As-salaamu alayki - Peace be unto you, servant of God."
"Wa alayka-s salaam - And unto you be peace, O brother of Abu-d Dardaa."
"Where is Abu-d Dardaa?" he asked. "He has gone to his shop. It won't be tong before he returns." "Would you allow me to come in?" "Make yourself at home," she said and went about busying herself with her household chores and looking after her children.
Abdullah ibn Rawahah went to the room where Abu-d Dardaa kept his idol. He took out an adz which he had brought with him and began destroying the idol while saying:
"Isn't everything batil which is worshipped besides Allah?"
When the idol was completely smashed, he left the house. Abu-d Dardaa's wife entered the room shortly afterwards and was aghast at what she saw. She smote her cheeks in anguish and said: "You have brought ruin to me, Ibn Rawahah." When Abu-d Dardaa returned home, he saw his wife sitting at the door of the room where he kept his idol. She was weeping loudly and she looked absolutely terrified. "What's wrong with you?" he asked.
"Your brother Abdullah ibn Rawahab visited us in your absence and did with your idols what you see." Abu-d Dardaa looked at the broken idol and was horrified. He was consumed with anger and determined to take revenge. Before long however his anger subsided and thoughts of avenging the idol disappeared. Instead he reflected on what had happened and said to himself:
"If there was any good in this idol, he would have defended himself against any injury."
He then went straight to Abdullah and together they went to the Prophet, peace be on him. There he announced his acceptance of Islam. He was the last person in his district to become a Muslim.
From this time onwards, Abu-d Dardaa devoted himself completely to Islam. Belief in God and His Prophet animated every fibre of his being. He deeply regretted every moment he had spent as a mushrik and the opportunities he had lost to do good. He realized how much his friends had learnt about siam in the preceding two or three years, how much of the Quran they had memorized and the opportunities they had to devote themselves to God and His Prophet. He made up his mind to expend every effort, day and night to try to make up for what he had missed. Ibadah occupied his days and his nights. His search for knowledge was restless. Much time he spent memorizing the words of the Quran and trying to understand the profundity of its message. When he saw that business and trade disturbed the sweetness of his ibadah and kept him away from the circles of knowledge, he reduced his involvement without hesitation or regret. Someone asked him why he did this and he replied:
"I was a merchant before my pledge to the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. When I became a Muslim, I wanted to combine trade (tijarah) and worship (ibadah) but I did not achieve what I desired. So I abandoned trade and inclined towards ibadah.
"By Him in whose hand is the soul of Abu-d Dardaa, what I want to have is a shop near the door of the masjid so that I would not miss any Salat with the congregation. Then I shall sell and buy and make a modest profit every day."
"I am not saying," said Abu-d Dardaa to his questioner, "that Allah Great and Majestic is He has prohibited trade, but I want to be among those whom neither trade nor selling distracts form the remembrance of God ."
Abu-d Dardaa did not only become less involved in trade but he abandoned his hitherto soft and luxurious life-style. He ate only what was sufficient to keep him upright and he wore clothes that was simple and sufficient to cover his body.
Once a group of Muslims came to spend the night with him. The night was bitterly cold. He gave them hot food which they welcomed. He himself then went to sleep but he did not give them any blankets. They became anxious wondering how they were going to sleep on such a cold night. Then one of them said: "I will go and talk to him." "Don't bother him," said another.
However, the man went to Abu-d Dardaa and stood at the door of his room. He saw Abu-d Dardaa lying down. His wife was sitting near to him. They were both wearing light clothing which could not protect them from the cold and they had no blankets. Abu-d Dardaa said to his guest: "If there was anything we would have sent it to you."
During the caliphate of Umar, Umar wanted to appoint Abu-d Dardaa as a governor in Syria. Abu-d Dardaa refused. Umar persisted and then Abu-d Dardaa said:
"If you are content that I should go to them to teach them the Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet and pray with them, I shall go."
Umar agreed and Abu-d Dardaa left for Damascus. There he found the people immersed in luxury and soft living. This appalled him. He called the people to the masjid and spoke to them:
"O people of Damascus! You are my brethren in religion, neighbors who live together and helpers one to another against enemies. "O people of Damascus! What is it that prevents you from being affectionate towards me and responding to my advice while I do not seek anything from you. Is it right that I see your learned ones departing (from this world) while the ignorant among you are not learning. I see that you incline towards such things which Allah has made you answerable for and you abandon what He has commanded you to do.
"Is it reasonable that I see you gathering and hoarding what you do not eat, and erecting buildings in which you do not live, and holding out hopes for things you cannot attain.
"Peoples before you have amassed wealth, made great plans and had high hopes. But it was not long before what they had amassed was destroyed, their hopes dashed and their houses turned into graves. Such were the people of Aad, O people of Damascus. They filled the earth with possessions and children.
"Who is there who will purchase from me today the entire legacy of Aad for two dirhams?"
The people wept and their sobs could be heard from outside the masjid. From that day, Abu-d Dardaa began to frequent the meeting places of the people of Damascus. He moved around in their market-places, teaching, answering questions and trying to arouse anyone who had become careless and insensitive. He used every opportunity and every occasion to awaken people, to set them on the right path.
Once he passed a group of people crowding around a man. They began insulting and beating the man. He came up to them and said: "What's the matter?" "This is a man who has committed a grave sin," they replied.
"What do you think you would do if he had fallen into a well?" asked Abu-d Dardaa. "Wouldn't you try to get him out?" "Certainly," they said. "Don't insult him and don't beat him. Instead admonish him and make him aware of the consequences of what he had done. Then give praise to God Who has preserved you from falling into such a sin." "Don't you hate him?" they asked Abu-d Dardaa.
"I only detest what he had done and if he abandons such practice, he is my brother." The man began to cry and publicly announced his repentance.
A youth once came up to Abu-d Dardaa and said: "Give me advice, O companion of the Messenger of God," and Abu-d Dardaa said to him:
"My son, remember Allah in good times and He will remember you in times of misfortune.
"My son, be knowledgeable, seek knowledge, be a good listener and do not be ignorant for you will be ruined.
"My son, let the masjid be your house for indeed I heard the Messenger of God say: The masjid is the house of every God-conscious person and God Almighty has guaranteed serenity, comfort, mercy and staying on the path leading to His pleasure, to those for whom masjids are their houses."
On another occasion, there was a group of people sitting in the street, chatting and looking at passers-by. Abu-d Dardaa came up to them and said:
"My sons, the monastery of a Muslim man is his house in which he controls himself and lowers his gaze. Beware of sitting in market-places because this fritters away time in vain pursuits."
While Abu-d Dardaa was in Damascus, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, its governor, asked him to give his daughter in marriage to his (Muawiyah's) son, Yazid. Abu-d Dardaa did not agree. Instead he gave his daughter in marriage to a young man from among the poor whose character and attachment to Islam pleased him. People heard about this and began talking and asking: Why did Abu-d Dardaa refuse to let his daughter marry Yazid? The question was put to Abu-d Dardaa himself and he said: "I have only sought to do what is good for ad-Dardaa." That was his daughter's name. "How?" enquired the person.
"What would you think of ad-Dardaa if servants were to stand in her presence serving her and if she were to find herself in palaces the glamour of which dazzled the eyes? What would become of her religion then?"
While Abu-d Dardaa was still in Syria, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab came on an inspection tour of the region. One night he went to visit Abu-d Dardaa at his home. There was no light in the house. Abu-d Dardaa welcomed the Caliph and sat him down. The two men conversed in the darkness. As they did so, Umar felt Abu-d Dardaa's "pillow" and realized it was an animal's saddle. He touched the place where Abu-d Dardaa lay and knew it was just small pebbles. He also felt the sheet with which he covered himself and was astonished to find it so flimsy that it couldn't possibly protect him from the cold of Damascus. Umar asked him:
"Shouldn't I make things more comfortable for you? Shouldn't I send something for you?"
"Do you remember, Umar," said Abu-d Dardaa, "a hadith which the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, told us?" "What is it?" asked Umar. "Did he not say: Let what is sufficient for anyone of you in this world be like the provisions of a rider?" "Yes," said Umar. "And what have we done after this, O Umar?" asked Abu-d Dardaa.
Both men wept no doubt thinking about the vast riches that had come the way of Muslims with the expansion of Islam and their preoccupation with amassing wealth and worldly possessions. With deep sorrow and sadness, both men continued to reflect on this situation until the break of dawn.
In the Waddan valley which connects Makkah with the outside world, lived the tribe of Ghifar. The Ghifar existed on the meagre offerings of the trade caravans of the Quraysh which plied between Syria and Makkah. It is likely that they also lived by raiding these caravans when they were not given enough to satisfy their needs. Jundub ibn Junadah, nicknamed Abu Dharr, was a member of this tribe.
He was known for his courage, his calmness and his far sightedness and also for the repugnance he felt against the idols which his people worshipped. He rejected the silly religious beliefs and the religious corruption in which the Arabs were engaged.
While he was in the Waddan desert, news reached Abu Dharr that a new Prophet had appeared in Makkah. He really hoped that his appearance would help to change the hearts and minds of people and lead them away from the darkness of superstition. Without wasting much time, he called his brother, Anis, and said to him:
"Go to Makkah and get whatever news you can of this man who claims that he is a Prophet and that revelation comes to him from the heavens. Listen to some of his sayings and come back and recite them to me."
Anis went to Makkah and met the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him. He listened to what he had to say and returned to the Waddan desert. Abu Dharr met him and anxiously asked for news of the Prophet.
"I have seen a man," reported Anis, 'who calls people to noble qualities and there is no mere poetry in what he says."
"What do people say about him?" asked Abu Dharr.
"They say he is a magician, a soothsayer and a poet."
"My curiosity is not satisfied. I am not finished with this matter. Will you look after my family while I go out and examine this prophet's mission myself?"
"Yes. But beware of the Makkans."
On his arrival at Makkah, Abu Dharr immediately felt very apprehensive and he decided to exercise great caution. The Quraysh were noticeably angry over the denunciation of their gods. Abu Dharr heard of the terrible violence they were meting out to the followers of the Prophet but this was what he expected. He therefore refrained from asking anyone about Muhammad not knowing whether that person might be a follower or an enemy.
At nightfall, he lay down in the Sacred Mosque. Ali ibn Abi Talib passed by him and, realizing that he was a stranger, asked him to come to his house. Abu Dharr spent the night with him and in the morning took his water pouch and his bag containing provisions and returned to the Mosque. He had asked no questions and no questions were asked of him.
Abu Dharr spent the following day without getting to know the Prophet. At evening he went to the Mosque to sleep and Ali again passed by him and said:
"Isn't it time that a man knows his house?"
Abu Dharr accompanied him and stayed at his house a second night. Again no one asked the other about anything.
On the third night, however, Ali asked him, "Aren't you going to tell me why you came to Makkah?"
"Only if you will give me an undertaking that you will guide me to what I seek." Ali agreed and Abu Dharr said: "I came to Makkah from a distant place seeking a meeting with the new Prophet and to listen to some of what he has to say."
Ali's face lit up with happiness as he said, "By God, he is really the Messenger of God," and he went on telling Abu Dharr more about the Prophet and his teaching. Finally, he said:
"When we get up in the morning, follow me wherever I go. If I see anything which I am afraid of for your sake, I would stop as if to pass water. If I continue, follow me until you enter where I enter."
Abu Dharr did not sleep a wink the rest of that night because of his intense longing to see the Prophet and listen to the words of revelation. In the morning, he followed closely in Ali's footsteps until they were in the presence of the Prophet.
As-salaamu Alayka Yaa Rasulullah, (Peace be on you, O Messenger of God)," greeted Abu Dharr.
Wa Alayka salaamullahi wa rahmatuhu wa barakaatuhu (And on you be the peace of God, His mercy and His blessings)," replied the Prophet.
Abu Dharr was thus the first person to greet the Prophet with the greeting of Islam. After that, the greeting spread and came into general use.
The Prophet, peace be on him, welcomed Abu Dharr and invited him to Islam. He recited some of the Quran for him. Before long, Abu Dharr pronounced the Shahadah thus entering the new religion (without even leaving his place). He was among the first persons to accept Islam.
Let us leave Abu Dharr to continue his own story...
After that I stayed with the Prophet in Makkah and he taught me Islam and taught me to read the Quran. Then he said to me, 'Don't tell anyone in Makkah about your acceptance of Islam. I fear that they will kill you."
"By Him in whose hands is my soul, I shall not leave Makkah until I go to the Sacred Mosque and proclaim the call of Truth in the midst of the Quraysh," vowed Abu Dharr.
The Prophet remained silent. I went to the Mosque. The Quraysh were sitting and talking. I went in their midst and called out at the top of my voice, "O people of Quraysh, I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
My words had an immediate effect on them. They jumped up and said, 'Get this one who has left his religion." They pounced on me and began to beat me mercilessly. They clearly meant to kill me. But Abbas ibn Abdulmuttalib, the uncle of the Prophet, recognized me. He bent over and protected me from them. He told them:
"Woe to you! Would you kill a man from the Ghifar tribe and your caravans must pass through their territory?" They then released me.
I went back to the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and when he saw my condition, he said, "Didn't I tell you not to announce your acceptance of Islam?" "O Messenger of God," I said, "It was a need I felt in my soul and I fulfilled it." "Go to your people," he commanded, "and tell them what you have seen and heard. Invite them to God. Maybe God will bring them good through you and reward you through them. And when you hear that I have come out in the open, then come to me."
I left and went back to my people. My brother came up to me and asked, "What have you done?" I told him that I had become a Muslim and that I believed in the truth of Muhammad's teachings.
"I am not averse to your religion. In fact, I am also now a Muslim and a believer," he said.
We both went to our mother then and invited her to Islam .
"I do not have any dislike from your religion. I accept Islam also," she said.
From that day this family of believers went out tirelessly inviting the Ghifar to God and did not flinch from their purpose. Eventually a large number became Muslims and the congregational Prayer was instituted among them.
Abu Dharr remained in his desert abode until after the Prophet had gone to Madinah and the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq had been fought. At Madinah at last, he asked the Prophet to be in his personal service. The Prophet agreed and was pleased with his companionship and service. He sometimes showed preference to Abu Dharr above others and whenever he met him he would pat him and smile and show his happiness.
After the death of the Prophet, Abu Dharr could not bear to stay in Madinah because of grief and the knowledge that there was to be no more of his guiding company. So he left for the Syrian desert and stayed there during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar.
During the caliphate of Uthman, he stayed in Damascus and saw the Muslims concern for the world and their consuming desire for luxury. He was saddened and repelled by this. So Uthman asked him to come to Madinah. At Madinah he was also critical of the people's pursuit of worldly goods and pleasures and they were critical in turn of his reviling them. Uthman therefore ordered that he should go to Rubdhah, a small village near Madinah. There he stayed far away from people, renouncing their preoccupation with worldly goods and holding on to the legacy of the Prophet and his companions in seeking the everlasting abode of the Hereafter in preference to this transitory world.
Once a man visited him and began looking at the contents of his house but found it quite bare. He asked Abu Dharr: "Where are your possessions?" "We have a house yonder (meaning the Hereafter)," said Abu Dharr, "to which we send the best of our possessions." The man understood what he meant and said: "But you must have some possessions so long as you are in this abode." "The owner of this abode will not leave us in it," replied Abu Dharr.
Abu Dharr persisted in his simple and frugal life to the end. Once the amir of Syria sent three hundred diners to Abu Dharr to meet his needs. He returned the money saying, "Does not the amir of Syria find a servant more deserving of it than I?"
In the year 32 AH. the self-denying Abu Dharr passed away. The Prophet, peace be upon him, had said of him: "The earth does not carry nor the heavens cover a man more true and faithful than Abu Dharr."
Abu-l Aas belonged to the Abd ash-Shams clan of the Quraysh. He was in the prime of his youth, handsome and very impressive looking. He was the epitome of Arab chivalry and was endowed with all the characteristics of pride, manliness and generosity. He took great pride in the traditions of his ancestors.
Abu-l Aas inherited the Quraysh love for trade. The Quraysh of course were known to be masters of the two annual trading expeditions. the winter expedition to the south, to Yemen. and the summer expedition to the north. to Syria. These two expeditions are mentioned in the Quran in the chapter named after the Quraysh.
The caravans of Abu-l Ads always plied between Makkah and Syria. Each caravan was made up of two hundred men and a hundred camels. People would entrust their wealth and their goods to him to trade on their behalf because of his skill as a merchant. his honesty and his trustworthiness.
The maternal aunt of Abu-l Aas was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the wife of Muhammad ibn Abdullah. She treated him like a mother would her own son, with love and affection. Muhammad too was extremely fond of him.
The years went by quickly in the household of Muhammad and Khadijah. Zanaib, their eldest daughter, soon grew up and blossomed forth like a lovely flower. She was much sought after in marriage by the sons of respectable Makkan nobles. And why not? She was one of the most distinguished Makkan girls in lineage and social standing. She was blessed with the most honorable father and mother. And she had the finest morals and behavior.
Which one of these scions of Makkan nobility would win her hand? Abu-l Aas ibn Rabi'ah was the one who did.
Abu-l Aas and Zaynab were only married a few years when the Divine light of Islam radiated over Makkah. Muhammad, the father of Zaynab, was now the Prophet of God, sent to convey the religion of guidance and truth. He was commanded to convey the message of Islam first to his family and nearest relatives. The first women to believe in him and accept Islam were his wife Khadijah and his daughters Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah. Fatimah was very young at the time.
Zaynab's husband however did not like leaving the religion of his forefathers and he refused to adopt the religion which his wife now followed although he was completely devoted to her and loved her dearly with a pure and sincere love.
Before long, the confrontation between the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Quraysh developed and grew bitter. The Quraysh felt that it was intolerable for their sons to remain married to Muhammad's daughters. They also considered that it would be an embarrassing and difficult situation for Muhammad if his daughters were to be returned to his household. So they went to Abu-l Aas and said:
"Divorce your wife, Abu-l Aas, and send her back to her father's house. We shall then marry you to any of the most charming and noble women of the Quraysh you desire."
"No, by God," said Abu-l Aas firmly. "I shall not divorce my wife and I do not wish to have in her place any woman in all the world."
Muhammad's other two daughters, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum were divorced by their husbands and returned to his home. The Prophet in fact was delighted when they came back to him and he had hoped that Abu-l Aas would also return Zaynab to him except that at that time he had no power to compel him to do so. The law forbidding the marriage of a Muslim woman to a nonbelieving man was not yet in force.
The Prophet, peace be on him, migrated to Madinah and his mission became stronger. The Quraysh felt even more threatened by him ,red went out to confront him at Badr. Abu-l Aas was compelled to go along with the Quraysh army. He did not really have d desire to fight the Muslims nor did he feel any inclination to join them. But his position among the Quraysh- one of honor and trust - impelled him to go along with their campaign against Muhammad. The battle of Badr ended in d terrible defeat for the Quraysh and the forces of shirk. Some were killed, some were taken prisoner and some managed to escape. Among those, who were taken prisoner was Abu-l Aas, the husband of Zaynab.
The Prophet fixed amounts for the ransom of the prisoners of war varying from one thousand to four thousand dirhams, according to the wealth and social standing of the prisoner. Quraysh messengers went to and fro between Makkah and Madinah bearing the ransom money to free their relatives held in Madinah. Zaynab sent her messenger to Madinah bearing the ransom demand to free her husband. The ransom amount included a necklace which her mother, Khadijah, had given to her before she died. When the Prophet saw the necklace, his face at once became covered with a veil of sadness and he felt a surge of tenderness for his daughter. He turned to his companions and said:
"Zaynab has sent this amount to ransom Abu-l Aas. If you see fit to set free her prisoner and return her possession to her, then do so."
"Yes," his companions agreed. "We shall do whatever we can to soothe your eyes and make you happy."
The Prophet set one condition on Abu-l Aas before he freed him, that he should send his daughter Zaynab to him without delay.
As soon as he reached Makkah, Abu-l Aas began making arrangements to carry out his promise. He ordered his wife to prepare herself for the journey and told her that her father's messengers were waiting for her just outside Makkah. He prepared provisions and a mount for her and instructed his brother, Amr ibn ar-Rabi'ah, to accompany her and hand her over personally to the Prophet's emissaries.
Amr slung his bow over his shoulders, took up his quiver of arrows, placed Zaynab in her hawdaj and left Makkah with her in the broad light of day, in full view of the Quraysh.
The Quraysh were furious. They pursued Zaynab and Amr until they caught up with them. Zaynab was scared. Amr stood poised with his bow and arrow and shouted:
"By God, if any man come near to her, I would plunge this arrow in his neck". Amr was known to be an excellent marksman.
Abu Sufyan ibn Hath, who had by this time joined the Quraysh group, went up to Amr and said: "Son of my brother, put away your arrow and let me talk to you."
This Amr did and Abu Sufyan went on: "What you have done is not prudent. You left with Zaynab in full view of the people. All the Arabs know the disasters we suffered at Badr at the hands of her father, Muhammad. If you leave with his daughter in the open as you have done, the tribes would accuse us of cowardice and they would say that we have been humiliated. Return with her and ask her to stay in her husband's house for a few days so that people could say that we brought her back. Thereafter you can take her away quietly and secretly from us and take her to her father. We have no need to detain her."
Amr agreed to this and Zaynab returned to Makkah. A few days later, in the middle of the night Amr took Zaynab and handed her over to the Prophet's emissaries just as his brother had instructed.
After the departure of his wife, Abu-l Aas stayed on in Makkah for several years. Then, shortly before the conquest of Makkah, he left for Syria on a trading mission. On the return journey from Syria his caravan consisted of some one hundred camels and one hundred and seventy men.
As the caravan approached Madinah, a detachment of Muslims took them by surprise. They impounded the camels and took the men as captives to the Prophet. Abu-l Aas however managed to escape. During the night which was pitch black, Abu-l Aas entered Madinah fearful and alert. He searched around until he came to Zaynab's house. He asked her for protection and she gave it to him.
At dawn, the Prophet, peace be on him, came out to the masjid to perform the Dawn Prayer. He stood erect in the mihrab and said "Allahu Akbar" to begin the Prayer. The Muslims behind him did the same. At that point Zaynab shouted from the women's section of the masjid:
"O people! I am Zaynab the daughter of Muhammad. I have given protection to Abu-l Aas. Do give him your protection also."
When the Prayer was finished, the Prophet turned to the congregation and said: "Have you heard what I heard?" "Yes, Messenger of Allah," they replied.
"By Him in Whose hand is my soul, I knew nothing of this until I heard what you heard. He is asking protection from the Muslims."
Back at home the Prophet said to his daughter: "Prepare a place of rest for Abu-l Aas and let him know that you are not lawful for him." He then summoned the men of the expeditionary force which had taken the camels and the men of the caravan and said to them:
"You have taken the possessions of this man. If you are kind to him and return his property, we would be pleased. If however you do not agree then the goods is booty sanctioned by God which you have a right to."
"We would certainly return his possessions to him, Messenger of God," they replied and when Abu-l Aas came to collect his goods, they said to him:
"You belong to the Quraysh nobility. You are the nephew of the Messenger of God and his son-in-law. Would you accept Islam? We would hand over all this wealth to you. You would then have for your own enjoyment whatever wealth and possessions the Makkans entrusted to you, and stay with us here in Madinah."
"What an evil thing you are asking me do, to enter a new religion while committing an act of treachery!" Abu-I Aas retorted.
Abu-l Aas returned to Makkah with the caravan and handed over all the wealth and goods to their rightful owners. Then he asked:
"O people of Quraysh! Is there any money left with me belonging to any one of you which he has not taken?"
"No," came the reply. "And may God bless you with goodness. We have indeed found you noble and trustworthy."
Then Abu-I Aas announced: "Since I have now handed over to you what is rightfully yours, I now declare that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. By God, the only thing that prevented me from declaring my acceptance of Islam while I was with Muhammad in Madinah was my fear that you would think that I did so only to appropriate your wealth. Now that I have discharged my trust in this matter, I now declare that I am a Muslim..."
Abu-l Aas then left for Madinah where the Prophet received him hospitably and returned his wife to him. The Prophet used to say about him: "He spoke to me and was truthful to me. He made promises to me and remained faithful to his word."
In the ninth year of the Hijrah, an Arab king made the first positive moves to Islam after years of feeling hatred for it. He drew closer to faith (iman) after opposing and combating it. And he finally pledged allegiance to the Prophet, peace be on him, after his adamant refusal to do so.
He was Adiyy, son of the famous Hatim at-Taai who was known far and wide for his chivalry and fabulous generosity. Adiyy inherited the domain of his father and was confirmed in the position by the Tayy people. Part of his strength lay in the fact that a quarter of any amount they obtained as booty from raiding expeditions had to be given to him.
When the Prophet announced openly his call to guidance and truth and Arabs from one region after another accepted his teachings, Adiyy saw in his mission a threat to his position and leadership. Although he did not know the Prophet personally, and had never seen him, he developed strong feelings of enmity towards him. He remained antagonistic to Islam for close upon twenty years until at last God opened his heart to the religion of truth and guidance.
The way in which Adiyy became a Muslim is a remarkable story and he is perhaps the best person to relate it. He said:
"There was no man among the Arabs who detested God's Messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace, more than I, when I heard about him. I was then a man of status and nobility. I was a Christian. From my people I took a fourth of their booty as was the practice of other Arab kings.
When I heard of the Messenger of God, peace be on him, I hated him. When his mission grew in strength and when his power increased and his armies and expeditionary forces dominated east and west of the land of Arabs, I said to a servant of mine who looked after my camels:
'Get ready a fat camel for me which is easy to ride and tether it close to me. If you hear of an army or an expeditionary force of Muhammad coming towards this land, let me know.' One evening, my servant came to me and said: "Yaa Mawlaya! What you intended to do on the approach of Muhammad's cavalry to your land, do it now." 'Why? May your mother lose you!'
'I have seen scouts searching close to the habitations. I asked about them and was told that they belonged to the army of Muhammad,' he said.
'Bring the camel which I ordered you to get ready.' I said to him. I got up then and there, summoned my household (including) my children and ordered them to evacuate the land we loved. We headed in the direction of Syria to join people of our own faith among the Christians and settle among them.
We left in too much haste for me to gather together our entire household. When I took stock of our situation, I discovered that part of my family was missing. I had left my own sister in our Najd homelands together with the rest of the Tayy people. I did not have any means to return to her. So I went on with those who were with me until I reached Syria and took up residence there among people of my own religion. As for my sister, what I feared for her happened.
News reached me while I was in Syria that the forces of Muhammad entered our habitations and took my sister together with a number of other captives to Yathrib. There she was placed with other captives in a compound near the door of the Masjid.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, passed by her. She stood up before him and said: 'Yaa Rasulullah! My father is dead and my guardian is not here. Be gracious to me and God will be gracious to you.! 'And who is your guardian?' asked the Prophet. 'Adiyy ibn Hatim.' she said. 'The one who fled from God and His Prophet?' he asked. He then left her and walked on.
On the following day, the same thing happened. She spoke to him just as she did the day before and he replied in the same manner. The next day, the same thing happened and she despaired of getting any concession from him for he did not say anything. Then a man from behind him indicated that she should stand up and talk to him. She therefore stood up and said:
'O Messenger of God! My father is dead and my guardian is absent. Be gracious to me and God will be gracious to you.' I have agreed he said. Turning to those about him, he instructed: likewise `Let her go for her father loved noble ways, and God loves them.' 'I want to join my family in Syria,' she said.
"But don't leave in a hurry," said the Prophet, "until you find someone you can trust from your people who could accompany you to Syria. If you find a trustworthy person, let me know."
When the Prophet left, she asked about the man who had suggested that she speak to the Prophet and was told that he was Ali ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him. She stayed in Yathrib until a group arrived among whom was someone she could trust. So she went the Prophet and said:
'O Messenger of God! A group of my people have come to me and among them is one I can trust who could take me to my family.'
The Prophet, peace be on him, gave her fine clothes and an adequate sum of money. He also gave her a camel and she left with the group.
Thereafter we followed her progress gradually and waited for her return. We could hardly believe what we heard about Muhammad's generosity towards her in spite of my attitude to him. By God, I am a leader of my people. When I beheld a woman in herhawdaj coming towards us, I said: 'The daughter of Hatim! It's she! It's she!'
When she stood before us, she snapped sharply at me and said: 'The one who severs the tie of kinship is a wrongdoer. You took your family and your children and left the rest of your relations and those whom you ought to have protected.'
'Yes, my sister,' I said, 'don't say anything but good.' I tried to pacify her until she was satisfied. She told me what had happened to her and it was as I had heard. Then I asked her, for she was an intelligent and judicious person:
"What do you think of the mission of this man (meaning Muhammad peace be on him)?" "I think, by God, that you should join him quickly." she said. "If he is a Prophet, file one who hastens towards him would enjoy his grace. And if he is a king, you would not be disgraced in his sight while you are as you are."
I immediately prepared myself for travel and set off to meet the Prophet in Madinah without any security and without any letter. I had heard that he had said: 'I certainly wish that God will place the hand of Adiyy in nay hand.'
I went up to him. He was in the Masjid. I greeted him and he said: 'Who is the man? 'Adiyy ibn Hatim,' I said. He stood up for me, took me by the hand and set off towards his home.
By God, as he was walking with me towards his house, a weak old woman met him. With her was a young child. She stopped him and began talking to him about a problem. I was standing (all the while). I said to myself: 'By God, this is no king.'
He then took me by the hand and went with me until we reached his home. There he got a leather cushion filled with palm fibre, gave it to me said: 'Sit on this!'
I felt embarrassed before him and said: 'Rather, you sit on it.' 'No, you,' he said.
I deferred and sat on it. The Prophet, peace be on him, sat on the floor because there was no other cushion. said to myself:
'By God, this is not the manner of a king!' He then turned to me and said: 'Yes, Adiyy ibn Hatim! Haven't you been a "Rukusi" professing a religion between Christianity and Sabeanism?' 'Yes,' I replied.
'Did you not operate among your people on the principle of exacting from them a fourth, taking from them what your religion does not allow you?'
'Yes,' I said, and I knew from that he was a Prophet sent (by God). Then he said to me: 'Perhaps, O Adiyy, the only thing that prevents you from entering this religion is what you see of the destitution of the Muslims and their poverty. By God, the time is near when wealth would flow among them until no one could be found to take it.
'Perhaps, O Adiyy, the only thing that prevents you from entering this religion is what you see of the small number of Muslims and their numerous foe. By God, the time is near when you would hear of the woman setting out from Qadisiyyah on her camel until she reaches this house, not fearing anyone except Allah.
'Perhaps what prevents you from entering this religion is that you only see that sovereignty and power rest in the hands of those who are not Muslims. By God, you will soon hear of the white palaces of the land of Babylon opening up for them and the treasures of Chosroes the son of Hormuz fall to their lot.'
'The treasures of Chosroes the son of Hormuz?' I asked (incredulously). 'Yes, the treasures of Chosroes the son of Hormuz,' he said. Thereupon, I professed the testimony of truth, and declared my acceptance of Islam."
One report says that when Adiyy saw the simplicity of the Prophet's life-style, he said to him: "I testify that you do not seek high office in this world nor corruption," and he announced his acceptance of Islam. Some people observed the Prophet's treatment of Adiyy and said to him:
"O Prophet of God! We have seen you do something which you have not done to any other." "Yes," replied the Prophet. "This is a man of stature among his people. If such a person come to you, treat him honorably."
Adiyy ibn Hatim, may God be pleased with him, lived for a long time. He later said: "Two of the things (which the Prophet spoke of) came to pass and there remained a third. By God, it would certainly come to pass. "I have seen the woman leaving Qadisiyyah on her camel fearing nothing until she arrived at this house (of the Prophet in Madinah).
"I myself was in the vanguard of the cavalry which descended on the treasures of Chosroes and took them. And I swear by God that the third event will be realized." Through the will of God, the third statement of the Prophet, on him be choicest blessings and peace, came to pass during the time of the devout and ascetic Khalifah, Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. Wealth flowed among the Muslims so much so that when the town-criers called on people throughout the Muslim domain to come and collect Zakat, no one was found in need to respond.
His hair looked dishevelled and his whole appearance was unkempt. He was thin and wiry with so little flesh on his bones that it was painful to look at him. Yet in single handed combat he defeated and killed many opponents and in the thick of battle he was an outstanding fighter against the mushrikeen. He was so courageous and daring that Umar once wrote to his governors throughout the Islamic state that they should not appoint him to lead any army out of fear that he would have them all killed by his daring exploits. This man was al-Baraa ibn Malik al-Ansari, the brother of Anas ibn Malik, the personal aide of the Prophet.
If the tales of Baraa's heroism were to be told in detail pages and pages could be written. But let one example suffice .
This particular story begins only hours after the death of the noble Prophet when many Arabian tribes took to leaving the religion of God in large numbers, just as they had entered it in large numbers. Within a short space of time only the people of Makkah, Madinah and Taif and scattered communities here and there, whose commitment to Islam was unwavering, remained within the religion.
Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, the successor to the Prophet, stood firm against this blind and destructive movement. From the Muhajireen and Ansar, he mobilized eleven armies each under a separate commander and dispatched them to various parts of the Arabian peninsula. Their purpose was to make the apostates return to the path of guidance and truth and to confront the leaders of the rebellion.
The strongest group of apostates and the greatest in number were the Banu Hanifah among whom Musaylamah the Imposter arose, claiming that he was a prophet. Musaylamah managed to mobilize forty thousand of the best fighters among his people. Most of these however followed him for the sake of Allah or tribal loyalty and not because they believed in him. One of them in fact said, "I testify that Musaylamah is an impostor and that Muhammad is true but the impostor of Rabiah (Musaylamah) is dearer to us than the true man of Mudar (Muhammad ). "
Musaylamah routed the first army sent against him under the leadership of Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl. Abu Bakr dispatched another army against Musaylamah led by Khalid ibn al-Walid. This army included the cream of the Sahabah from both the Ansar and the Muhajireen. In the front ranks of this army was Baraa ibn Malik and a group of the most valiant Muslims.
The two armies met in the territory of the Banu Hanifah at Yamamah in Najd. Before long, the scale of battle tilted in favor of Musaylamah and his men. The Muslim armies began to retreat from their positions. Musaylamah's forces even stormed the tent of Khalid ibn Walid and drove him from his position. They would have killed his wife if one of them had not granted her protection.
At that point, the Muslims realized in what a perilous situation they were. They were also conscious of the fact that if they were annihilated by Musaylamah, Islam would not be able to stand as a religion and Allah--the One God with whom there is no partner--would not be worshipped in the Arabian peninsula after that.
Khalid mustered his forces once more and began reorganizing them. He separate(i the Muhajireen and the Ansar and kept men from different tribes apart. Each was put under the leadership of one of its own members so that the losses of each group in the battle might be known.
The battle raged. There was much destruction and death. The Muslims had not experienced anything like this in all the wars they had fought before. Musaylamah's men remained firm amidst the tumult, as firm as immovable mountains although many of them had fallen.
The Muslims displayed tremendous feats of heroism. Thabit ibn Qays, the standard bearer of the Ansar, dug a pit and planted himself in it and fought until he was killed. The pit he dug turned out to be his grave. Zayd ibn al-Khattab, brother of Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with them both, called out to the Muslims: "Men, bite with your jaw teeth, strike the enemy and press on. By God, I shall not speak to you after this until either Musaylamah is defeated or I meet God." He then charged against the enemy and continued fighting until he was killed. Salim, the mawla of Abu Hudhaifah, and standard bearer of the Muhajireen displayed unexpected valor. His people feared that he would show weakness or be too terrified to fight. To them he said, "If you manage to overtake me, what a miserable bearer of the Quran I shall be." He then valiantly plunged into the enemy ranks and eventually fell as a martyr.
The bravery of all these, however, wanes in front of the heroism of al-Baraa ibn Malik, may God be pleased with him and with them all.
As the battle grew fiercer and fiercer, Khalid turned to al-Baraa and said, "Charge, young man of the Ansar." Al-Baraa turned to his men and said, "O Ansar, let not anyone of you think of returning to Madinah. There is no Madinah for you after this day. There is only Allah, then Paradise."
He and the Ansar then launched their attack against the mushrikeen, breaking their ranks and dealing telling blows against them until eventually they began to withdraw. They sought refuge in a garden which later became known in history as The Garden of Death because of the many killed there on that day. The garden was surrounded by high walls. Musaylamah and thousands of his men entered and closed the gates behind them and fortified themselves.
From their new positions they began to rain down arrows on the Muslims.
The valiant Baraa went forward and addressed his company, "Put me on a shield. Raise the shield on spears and hurl me into the garden near the gate. Either I shall die a martyr or I shall open the gate for you."
The thin and wiry al-Baraa was soon sitting on a shield. A number of spears raised the shield and he was thrown into the Garden of Death amongst the multitude of Musaylamah's men. He descended on them like a thunderbolt and continued to fight them in front of the gate. Many fell to his sword and he himself sustained numerous wounds before he could open the gate.
The Muslims charged into the Garden of Death through the gates and over the walls. Fighting was bitter and at close quarters and hundreds were killed. Finally the Muslims came upon Musaylamah and he was killed.
Al Baraa was taken in a litter to Madinah. Khalid ibn al-Walid spent a month looking after him and tending his wounds. Eventually his condition improved. Through him the Muslims had gained victory over Musaylamah.
In spite of recovering from his wounds, al-Baraa continued to long for the martyrdom which had eluded him at the Garden of Death. He went on fighting in battle after battle hoping to attain his aim. This came at the battle for Tustar in Persia.
At Tustar the Persians were besieged in one of their defiant fortresses. The siege was long and when its effects became quite unbearable, they adopted a new tactic. From the walls of the fortress, they began to throw down iron chains at the ends of which were fastened iron hooks which were red hot. Muslims were caught by these hooks and were pulled up either dead or in the agony of death.
One of these hooks got hold of Anas ibn Malik, the brother of al-Baraa. As soon as al-Baraa saw this, he leapt up the wall of the fortress and grabbed the chain which bore his brother and began undoing the hook from his body. His hand began to burn but he did not let go before his brother was released.
Baraa himself died during this battle. He had prayed to God to grant him martyrdom.
Amr ibn al-Jamuh was one of the leading men in Yathrib in the days of Jahiliyyah. He was the chief of the Banu Salamah and was known to be one of the most generous and valiant persons in the city.
One of the privileges of the city's leaders was having an idol to himself in his house. It was hoped that this idol would bless the leader in whatever he did. He was expected to offer sacrifices to it on special occasions and seek its help at times of distress. The idol of Amr was called Manat. He had made it from the most priceless wood. He spent a great deal of time, money and attention looking after it and he anointed it with the most exquisite perfumes.
Amr was almost sixty years old when the first rays of the light of Islam began to penetrate the houses of Yathrib. House after house was introduced to the new faith at the hands of Musab ibn Umayr, the first missionary sent out to Yathrib before the hijrah. It was through him that Amr's three sons--Muawwadh, Muadh and Khallad--became Muslims. One of their contemporaries was the famous Muadh ibn Jabal. Amr's wife, Hind, also accepted Islam with her three sons but Amr himself knew nothing of all this .
Hind saw that the people of Yathrib were being won over to Islam and that not one of the leaders of the city remained in shirk except her husband and a few individuals. She loved her husband dearly and was proud of him but she was concerned that he should die in a state of kufr and end up in hell-fire.
During this time, Amr himself began to tell uneasy. He was afraid that his sons would give up the religion of their forefathers and follow the teaching of Musab ibn Umayr who, within a short space of time, had caused many to turn away from idolatry and enter the religion of Muhammad. To his wife, Amr therefore said:
"Be careful that your children do not come into contact with this man (meaning Musab ibn Umayr) before we pronounce an opinion on him."
"To hear is to obey," she replied. "But would you like to hear from your son Muadh what he relates from this man?" "Woe to you! Has Muadh turned away from his religion without my knowing?" The good woman felt pity from the old man and said: "Not at all. But he has attended some of the meetings of this missionary and memorized some of the things he teaches." "Tell him to come here," he said. When Muadh come, he ordered: "Let me hear an example of what this man preaches." Muadh recited the lalihah (the Opening Chapter of the Quran):
"In the name of God, the most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace. All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds, The most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace. Lord of the Day of Judgment!
You alone do we worship and to You alone do we turn for help. Guide us on the straight way, the way of those upon whom you have bestowed Your blessings, not of those who have been condemned by You, nor of those who go astray."
"How perfect are these words, and how beautiful!" exclaimed the father. "Is everything he says like this?"
"Yes indeed, father. Do you wish to swear allegiance to him? All your people have already done so" urged Muadh.
The old man remained silent from a while and then said, "I shall not do so until I consult Manat and see what he says." "What indeed would Manat say, Father? It is only a piece of wood. It can neither think nor speak." The old man retorted sharply, "I told you, I shall not do anything without him."
Later that day, Amr went before Manat. It was the custom of the idolators then to place an old woman behind the idol when they wished to speak to it. She would reply on behalf of the idol, articulating, so they thought, what the idol had inspired her to say. Amr stood before the idol in great awe and addressed profuse praises to it. Then he said:
"O Manat no doubt you know that this propagandist who was delegated to come to us from Makkah does not wish evil on anyone but you. He has come only to stop us worshipping you. I do not want to swear allegiance to him in spite of the beautiful words I have heard from him. I have thus come to get your advice. So please advise me."
There was no reply from Manat. Amr continued:
"Perhaps your are angry. But up till now, I have done nothing to harm you... Never mind, I shall leave you for a few days to let your anger go away."
Amr's sons knew the extent of their father's dependence on Manat and how with time he had become almost a part of it. They realized however that the idol's place in his heart was being shaken and that they had to help him get rid of Manat. That must be his path to faith in God.
One night Amr's sons went with their friend Muadh ibn Jabal to Manat, took the idol From its place and threw it in a cess pit belonging to the Banu Salamah. They returned to their homes with no one knowing anything about what they had done. When Amr woke up the following morning, he went in quiet reverence to pay his respects to his idol but did not find it.
"Woe to you all," he shouted. "Who has attacked our god last night" There was no reply from anyone. He began to search for the idol, fuming with rage and threatening the perpetrators of the crime. Eventually he found the idol turned upside down on its head in the pit. He washed and perfumed it and returned it to its usual place saying.
"If I find out who did this to you, I will humiliate him." The following night the boys did the same to the idol. The old man recovered it, washed and perfumed it as he had done before and returned it to its place. This happened several times until one night Amr put a sword around the idol's neck and said to it: "O Manat, I don't know who is doing this to you. If you have any power of good in you, defend yourself against this evil. Here is a sword for you."
The youths waited until Amr was fast asleep. They took the sword from the idol's neck and threw it into the pit. Amr found the idol Lying face down in the pit with the sword nowhere in sight. At last he was convinced that the idol had no power at all and did not deserve to be worshipped. It was not long before he entered the religion of Islam.
Amr soon tasted the sweetness of Iman or faith in the One True God. At the same time he felt great pain and anguish within himself at the thought of every moment he had spent in shirk. His acceptance of the new religion was total and he placed himself, his wealth and his children in the service of God and His Prophet.
The extent of his devotion was shown during the time of the battle of Uhud. Amr saw his three sons preparing for the battle. He looked at the three determined young men fired by the desire to gain martyrdom, success and the pleasure of God. The scene had a great effect on him and he resolved to go out with them to wage jihad under the banner of the messenger of God. The youths, however, were all against their father carrying out his resolve. He was already quite old and was extremely weak.
"Father," they said, "surely God has excused you. So why do you take this burden on yourself?"
The old man became quite angry and went straight away to the Prophet to complain about his sons: "O Rasulullah! My sons here want to keep me away from this source of goodness arguing that I am old and decrepit. By God, I long to attain Paradise this way even though I am old and infirm."
"Let him," said the Prophet to his sons. "Perhaps God, the Mighty and the Great, will grant him martyrdom."
Soon it was time to go out to battle. Amr bade farewell to his wife, turned to the qiblah and prayed: "O Lord, grant me martyrdom and don't send me back to my family with my hopes dashed." He set out in the company of his three sons and a large contingent from his tribe, the Banu Salamah.
As the battle raged, Amr could be seen moving in the front ranks, jumping on his good leg (his other leg was partially lame), and shouting, "I desire Paradise, I desire Paradise."
His son Khallad remained closely behind him and they both fought courageously in defense of the Prophet while many other Muslims deserted in pursuit of booty. Father and son fell on the battlefield and died within moments of each other.
The tribe of Muzaynah had their habitations some distance from Yathrib on the caravan route which linked the city to Makkah. News of the Prophet's arrival in Yathrib spread rapidly and soon reached the Muzaynah through members of the tribe who had left and returned.
One evening the chieftain of the tribe, an-Numan ibn Maqarrin, sat among the elders and other members of the tribe and addressed them:
"O my people, by God, we have learnt only good about Muhammad, and of His mission we have heard nothing but mercy, kindness and justice. What's wrong with us? Why do we tarry while people are hastening to him?" "As for myself," he continued, "I have made up my mind to leave early in the morning to join him. Whoever of you wishes to go with me, let him get ready."
An-Numan must have been a persuasive chieftain. His words had a wondrous effect on the ears of his people. The following morning an-Numan's ten brothers and four hundred horsemen of the Muzaynah were all ready and prepared to go with him to Yathrib to meet the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, and enter the religion of Islam.
An-Numan however felt embarrassed to go to the Prophet with such a numerous following without carrying any presents for him and the Muslims. There wasn't much he could carry anyway. That year was a year of drought and famine for the Muzaynah and much of their livestock and crops had perished. Still, an-Numan went around the dwellings of his fellow tribesmen and gathered up whatever sheep and goats were left. These he drove before him and made his way to Madinah. There in the presence of the Prophet, he and his fellow tribesmen announced their acceptance of Islam.
The whole of Madinah was agog with excitement with the coming of an-Numan and his companions. Never before had there been a single family with all eleven brothers accepting Islam at the same time together with four hundred horsemen. The noble Prophet was exceedingly glad and rejoiced greatly. Indeed the sincerity of their effort was accepted and commended by God Almighty when He revealed the following words of the Quran to the Prophet:
"And among the nomad Arabs are such as believe in God and the Last Day, and regard all that they spend in God's cause as a means of drawing them nearer to God and of (their being remembered in) the Apostle's prayers. Oh, verily, it shall (indeed) be a means of (God's) nearness to them, (for) God will admit them into His grace. Verily God is much-Forgiving, most Merciful." (The Quran, Surah at-Tawbah, 9:99).
An-Numan lived under the guidance of the Prophet and participated in all the campaigns he waged with valor and dedication. In the time of Abu Bakr, he and the people of Muzaynah played a major and commendable role in putting an end to the fitnah of apostasy. During the caliphate of Umar al-Faruq, an-Numan distinguished himself, in particular, in the encounters with the Sasananian Empire.
Shortly before the Battle of Qadisiyyah, the commander of the Muslim forces Sad ibn Abi Waqqas sent a delegation to the Sasanian Emperor, Yazdagird. The delegation was headed by an-Numan ibn Muqarrin and its main purpose was to invite the emperor of Islam. When an-Numan and his delegation reached Ctesiphon, the Sasanian capital, the people of the city looked upon them with curiosity and some disdain. They remarked on their simple appearance, their rough clothes and shoes and their weak-looking horses. The Muslims were in no way overwhelmed and sought an audience with Yazdagird. He granted them permission, summoned an interpreter and said to him:
"Say to them (the Muslims): why have you come to our dominions and why do you want to invade us? Perhaps, you have designs on us... and seek to venture against us because we are preoccupied with you. But we do not wish to inflict punishment on you." An-Numan turned to his men and said:
"If you wish, I shall reply to him on your behalf. But if any one of you wants to speak let him do so first." The Muslims told an-Numan to speak and turning to the Emperor, said: "This man speaks with our tongue so do listen to what he says." An-Numan began by praising and glorifying God and invoking peace and blessings on His Prophet. Then he said:
"Indeed God has been Kind and Merciful to us and has sent to us a Messenger to show us the good and command us to follow it; to make us realize what is evil and forbade us from it.
"The Messenger promised us if we were to respond to what he summoned us, God would bestow on us the good of this world and the good of the hereafter.
"Not much time has elapsed but God has given us abundance in place of hardship, honor in place of humiliation and mercy and brotherhood in place of our former enmity.
"The Messenger has commanded us to summon mankind to what is best for them and to begin with those who are our neighbors.
"We therefore invite you to enter into our religion. It is a religion which beautifies and promotes all good and which detests and discourages all that is ugly and reprehensible. It is a religion which leads its adherents from the darkness of tyranny and unbelief to the light and justice of faith."
"Should you respond positively to us and come to Islam, it would be our duty to introduce the Book of God in your midst and help you to live according to it and rule according to its laws. We would then return and leave you to conduct your own affairs.
"Should you refuse, however, to enter the religion of God, we would take the jizyah from you and give you protection in return. If you refuse to give the jizyah, we shall declare war on you."
Yazdagird was angry and furious at what he had heard and said in ridicule: "Certainly I do not know of a nation on earth who is more wretched than you and whose numbers are so few, who are more divided and whose condition is more evil."
"We have been used to delegate your affairs to our provincial governors and they exacted obedience form you on our behalf." Then softening his tone somewhat, he continued, but with greater sarcasm:
"If there is any need which has pushed you to come to us, we would enlist forces to help you make your lands fertile. We would clothe your leaders and the notables of your people and place a king from among ourselves over you who would be gentle to you."
One of an-Numan's delegation responded sharply to this and Yazdagird flew into a rage once more and shouted: "Were it for the fact that ambassadors are not killed, I would kill you all. "Get up. You shall have nothing from me. And tell your commander that I am sending Rustum against him to bury him and you together in the ditch of al Qadisiyyah."
Yazdagird then called for a basketful of earth and ordered that it should be borne outside the city gates by the one whom the Muslims considered to be the most noble among them as a sign of humiliation. Asim the son of Umar accepted the load as a happy augury and took it to the commander-in-chief, Sad ibn Abi Waqqas, and said to him:
"Accept our congratulations for the victory. The enemy has voluntarily surrendered his territory to us." The Battle of Qadisiyyah ensued and after four days of bitter fighting, the Muslim forces emerged victorious. The victory paved the way for the Muslim advance into the plains of the Euphrates and the Tigris. The Persian capital, Ctesiphon, fell and this was followed by a number of engagements as the Persians withdrew northwards.
Despite other defeats and setbacks, Yazdagird refused to yield and constantly organized new levies to attack the Muslims and foment insurrection in the provinces which had come under Muslim control.
Umar had counselled moderation on his generals and ordered them not to press too far eastwards. However he received news of a massive Persian mobilization of about 15O,OOO warriors against the Muslims. He thought of leaving Madinah and facing the massive threat himself. He was advised against this by prominent Muslims in Madinah who suggested instead that he should appoint a military commander to confront the grave situation.
"Show me a man whom I can appoint for this task." said. "You know your army best, O Amir al-Muminin," they replied and after some thought Umar exclaimed:
"By God, I shall appoint as commander-in-chief of the Muslim army a man who, when the two armies meet, will be the most active. He is an-Numan ibn Muqarrin al-Muzani." To him, Umar despatched a letter: "From the servant of God, Umar ibn al-Khattab, to an-Numan ibn Muqarrin:
"I have received news that large numbers of Persians have gathered to fight you in the city of Nihawand. When this my letter reaches you go forward (to confront them) with the help of God, with whoever of the Muslims are with you. Don't take the Muslims over too difficult terrain lest they may be hurt, for one Muslim person is dearer to me than a hundred thousand dinars. And Peace be unto you."
An-Numan responded to the orders of the Amir al-Muminin and mobilized the Muslim forces. He despatched an advanced detachment of cavalry to reconnoiter the approaches of the city. Just outside Nihawand, the horses stopped and despite prodding would go no further. The riders dismounted and discovered iron nails in the horses' hooves. They looked around and found that all approaches to the city were strewn with these iron spikes to halt the advance of the Muslim army. On being informed of this, an-Numan ordered the horsemen to remain where they were and at nightfall to light fires for the enemy to see them. They were also to feign fear and defeat in order to entice the enemy to come out to them and in the process clear the approaches of the iron spikes. The ruse worked. When the Persians saw the van guard of the Muslim army appearing dejected and defeated before them, they sent workers to clear the area of the spikes. These workers were captured by the Muslim cavalry who gained control of the approaches to the city.
An-Numan pitched camp on the outskirts of the city and decided to make a determined assault on the city. He addressed his soldiers: "I shall say Allahu Akbar three times. At the first time, get Yourselves ready (by performing your toilet and making wudu). At the second time, let every man of you get ready his weapons and gird them on. And the third time, I shall move against the enemies of God and you must join in the attack with me." He went on:
"And if an-Numan is killed, let no one tarry over him. For I shall (now) make a supplication to God Almighty and I want everyone of you to say 'Ameen'. "He then prayed: "May God grant martyrdom to an-Numan this day and may He grant victory to the Muslims."
Three times an-Numan shouted Allahu Akbar. On the third time, he plunged into the ranks of the enemies and the Muslims rushed on behind him. They were outnumbered six to one but inflicted terrible losses on the Persians.
An-Numan received a mortal blow during the battle. His brother took the standard from his hand, and covered him with a burdah and concealed his death from the others.
The Muslim forces emerged victorious. The Persians never recovered themselves after this battle which Muslim historians have called "the Victory of Victories".
The battle over, the victorious soldiers asked for their valiant commander. His brother lifted the burdab and said: "This is your Amir. God has shown him victory and blessed him with martyrdom."
When the news was brought to Umar in Madinah, a companion who was with him said: "I saw Umar, may God be pleased with him. When he heard of the death of an-Numan ibn Muqarrin, he placed his head in his hands and began to cry."
At-Tufayl ibn Amr was the chief of the Daws tribe in pre-Quranic times and a distinguished Arab notable known for his manly virtues and good works.
He fed the hungry, comforted those in distress and granted asylum to refugees. He was also keenly interested in literature and was himself a sharp and sensitive poet capable of expressing the most delicate emotions.
Tufayl left the hearths of his village in Tihama in the south of the Arabian peninsula and set out for Makkah. The struggle between the noble Prophet and the disbelieving Quraysh was already at its height. Each wanted to gain support for his cause and recruit helpers. The Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, sought help from his Lord. His weapons were faith and truth. The disbelieving Quraysh resisted his message with every weapon, and attempted to keep people away from it by all the means at their disposal.
Tufayl found himself entering this battle without any preparation or warning. He did not come to Makkah to get involved in it. Indeed he was not aware of the struggle that was taking place.
Let Tufayl himself take up the story from this point:
I approached Makkah. As soon as the Quraysh leaders saw me, they came up to me and gave me a most hearty welcome and accommodated me in a grand house. Their leaders and notables then gathered and said:
"O Tufayl, you have come to our town. This man who claims that he is a Prophet has ruined our authority and shattered our community. We are afraid that he would succeed in undermining you and your authority among your people just as he has done with us. Don't speak to the man. On no account listen to anything he has to say. He has the speech of a wizard, causing division between father and son, between brother and brother and between husband and wife."
They went on telling me the most fantastic stories and scared me by recounting tales of his incredible deeds. I made up my mind then not to approach this man, or speak to him or listen to anything he had to say.
The following morning I went to the Sacred Mosque to make tawaf around the Kabah as an act of worship to the idols that we made pilgrimage to and glorified. I inserted a piece of cotton in my ears out of fear that something of the speech of Muhammad would reach my hearing. As soon as I entered the Mosque, I saw him standing near the Kabah. He was praying in a fashion which was different from our prayer. His whole manner of worship was different. The scene captivated me. His worship made me tremble and I felt drawn to him, despite myself, until I was quite close to him.
Not withstanding the precaution I had taken, God willed that some of what he was saying should reach my hearing and I heard a speech that was so beautiful that I said to myself, "What are you doing, Tufayl? You are a perceptive poet. You can distinguish between the good and the bad in poetry. What prevents you from listening to what this man is saying? If what comes from him is good, accept it, and if it is bad, reject it."
I remained there until the Prophet left for his home. I followed him as he entered his house, and I entered also and said, "O Muhammad, your people have said certain things to me about you. By God, they kept on frightening me away from your message so that I even blocked my ears to keep out your words. Despite this, God caused me to hear something of it and I found it good. So tell me more about your mission."
The Prophet, peace be upon him, did and recited to me Surah Al-Iklaas and Surah Al-Falaq. I swear by God, I had never heard such beautiful words before. Neither was a more noble or just mission ever described to me. Thereupon, I stretched out my hand to him in allegiance and testified that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. This is how I entered Islam.
I stayed on for some time in Makkah learning the teachings of Islam memorizing parts of the Quran. When I decided to return to my people, I said, "O Rasulullah. I am a man who is obeyed in his tribe. I am going back to them and I shall invite them to Islam . . ."
When I returned to my people, my father, who was quite old then, came up to me and I said, 'O Father, let me relate my news to you. I am no longer from you and you are not of me.''
"Why so, my son?" he asked.
"I have accepted Islam and now follow the religion of Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him," I replied.
"My son," he said, "your religion is my religion."
''Go and wash your sell and cleanse your clothes," I said. "Then come that I may teach you what I have learnt."
This the old man did and I explained Islam to him and he became a Muslim.
"Then came my wife and I said, "Let me relate my news to you. I am no longer of you and you are not of me."
"Good heavens! Why so?" she exclaimed.
"Islam has separated us," I explained. "I have become a Muslim and follow the religion of Muhammad."
"Your religion is my religion," she replied.
'Then go and purify yourself, not with the water of Dhu Shara, the idol of the Daws, but with pure water from the mountain. "
"Good gracious! Do you fear anything from Dhu Shara?"
"Damn Dhu Shari. I told you, go and wash there, far away from people. I guarantee you that this dumb stone won't do a thing to you."
She went and washed and I explained Islam to her and she became a Muslim. I then invited the Daws as a whole to become Muslims. They were all slow in responding, except Abu Hurayrah. He was the quickest to respond to the invitation of Islam.
The next time I went to Makkah, Abu Hurayrah was with me.
"What have you left behind?' the Prophet asked me.
"Hearts with veils over them obscuring the Truth, and firm disbelief. Sin and disobedience have won over the Daws."
The Prophet thereupon stood up, made wudu and prayed with his hands raised to the heavens. Abu Hurayrah remarked, "When I saw the Prophet like this, I was afraid that he was praying against my people and that they would be destroyed."
But the Prophet, upon whom be peace, prayed, "O Lord, guide the Daws, guide the Daws, guide the Daws." Then he turned to me and said:
"Go back to your people, befriend them, treat them gently and invite them to Islam."
I stayed in the land of the Daws inviting them to Islam until after the hijrah of the Prophet to Madinah and after the battle of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq had taken place. Then I went to the Prophet. With me were eighty families who had become Muslims and who were strong in their faith. The Prophet was pleased with us and he gave us a portion of the booty after the battle of Khaybar. We said to him, "O Rasulullah, make us the right wing of your army in every battle and make our efforts acceptable."
Tufayl stayed with the Prophet until the liberation of Makkah. After the destruction of the idols there, Tufayl asked the Prophet to send him to put an end to the worship of Dhu-l Kafayn, the chief idol of his people. The Prophet gave him permission.
Back in Tihama among the Daws, men, women and children of the tribe had gathered and were agitated that the idol was going to be burnt. They were waiting to see if any evil would befall Tufayl should he harm Dhu-l Kafayn. Tufayl approached the idols with the worshipers around it. As he set fire to it, he proclaimed:
"O Dhu-l Kafayn, of your worshipers I certainly am not.
Fire have I inserted into your heart."
Whatever shirk remained in the Daws tribe went up in the flames that burnt the idol. The whole tribe became Muslims.
Tufayl remained a lieutenant of the Prophet until the noble messenger passed away. Tufayl then placed himself in the service of the Khalifah Abu Bakr, the successor of the Prophet. During the Riddah wars, he led a contingent of his people against the impostor Musaylamah.
In the battle of al-Yamamah that followed, the dear companion of the Prophet, Tufayl ibn Amr fought hard but eventually fell as a martyr on the battlefield.
When the Prophet, peace be on him, returned to Madinah from the Farewell Pilgrimage in the tenth year after the Hijrah, he fell ill, News of his illness spread rapidly throughout the Arabian peninsula. Sincere Muslims everywhere were greatly saddened by the news but for others it was a time to disclose hidden hopes and ambitions and reveal their real attitudes to Islam and the noble Prophet.
In al-Yamamah, Musaylamah the Imposter renounced Islam. So too did Tulayhah al-Asadi in the land of the Asad. And in the Yemen, al-Aswad al-Ansi also became an apostate. More than that, these three imposters claimed that they were prophets sent to their respective peoples just as Muhammad the son of Abdullah was sent to the Quraysh.
Al-Aswad al-Ansi was a soothsayer who practised magic arts. But he was no minor magician or fortuneteller who dabbled in his evil arts in obscurity. He was powerful and influential and possessed a strange power of speech that mesmerized the hearts of his listeners and captivated the minds of the masses with his false claims. With his wealth and power he managed to attract not just the masses but people of status as well. When he appeared before people he normally wore a mask in order to surround himself with an air of mystery, awe and reverence.
In the Yemen at that time, a section of the people who had much prestige and influence were the "Abna". They were the scions of Persian fathers who ruled Yemen as part of the Sasanian Empire. Their mothers were local Arabs. Fayruz al-Daylami was one of these Yemeni Abna.
At the time of the appearance of Islam, the most powerful of the Abna was Badhan who ruled Yemen on behalf of the Chosroes of Persia. When Badban became convinced of the truth of the Prophet Muhammad and the Divine nature of his mission he renounced his allegiance to the Chosroes and accepted Islam. His people followed him in tiffs. The Prophet confirmed him in his dominion and he ruled the Yemen until his death shortly before the appearance of al-Aswad al-Ansi.
Al-Aswad's tribe, the Banu Mudh-hij, were the first to respond positively to his claims to prophethood. With this tribal force he mounted a raid on San'a. He killed the governor, Shahr the son of Badhan and took his wife to himself. From San'a he raided other regions. Through his swift and startling strikes, a vast region from Hadramawt to at-Taif and from al-Ahsa to Aden came under his influence.
What helped al-Aswad in deceiving the people and drawing them to him was his guile and cunning which knew no bounds. To his followers he alleged that an angel visited him, disclosed revelations to him and gave him intelligence of people and their affairs. What allowed him to appear to bear out these claims were the spies he employed and despatched everywhere, to bring him news of people and their circumstances, their secrets and their problems, their hopes and their fears.
Reports were brought back in secrecy to him and when he met anyone, especially those in need, he could give the impression that he had prior knowledge of their needs and problems. In this way he astonished people and confounded their thoughts. He acquired a large following and his mission spread like wildfire.
When news of al-Aswad's apostasy and his activities throughout the Yemen reached the Prophet, peace be on him, he despatched about ten of Iris companions with letters to those of his companions in the Yemen whom he felt he could trust. He urged them to confront the blind fitnah with faith and resolve, and he ordered them to get rid of al-Aswad by any means possible.
All who received the Prophet's missives set about to carry out his orders implicitly. In the forefront of these was Fayruz ad-Daylami and those of the Abna who were with him. Let us leave Fayruz to relate his extraordinary story:
"I and those of the Abna who were with me never for one moment had any doubt about the religion of God. No belief in the enemy of God entered the heart of any one of us. (In fact) we waited for opportunities to get hold of al-Aswad and eliminate him by any means.
When we received the letters of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, we felt strengthened in our mutual resolve and each one determined to do what he could
Because of his considerable success, pride and vanity took hold of al-Aswad al-Ansi. He bragged to the commander of his army, Qays ibn Abd Yaghuth, saying how powerful he was. His attitude and relationship towards his commander changed so much so that Qays felt that he was not safe from Iris violence and oppression.
My cousin, Dadhawayh, and I went to Qays and informed him of what the Prophet, peace and blessings be on him, had told us and we invited him to "make lunch" out of the man (al-Aswad) before he could "make supper" out of him. He was receptive to our proposal and regarded us as a Godsend. He disclosed to us some of the secrets of al-Aswad.
The three of us vowed to confront the apostate from within (his castle) while our other brothers would confront him from without. We were all of the view that our cousin Dadha, whom al-Aswad had taken to himself after the killing of her husband, should join us. We went to al-Aswad's castle and met her. I said to her:
'O cousin, you know what harm and evil this man has visited upon you and us. He has killed your husband and dishonored the women of your people. He has massacred their husbands and wrested political authority from their hands.
'This is a letter from the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, to us in particular and to the people of Yemen in general in which he asks us to put an end to this fitnah. Would you help us in this matter?' 'On what can I help you? she asked. 'On his expulsion...' I said. 'Rather on his assassination,' she suggested. 'By God, I had nothing else in mind,' I said, 'but I was afraid to suggest this to you.' 'By Him Who has sent Muhammad with the Truth as a bringer or' good tidings and as a warner, I have not doubted in my religion for a moment. God has not created a man more detestable to me than the devil (al-Aswad). By God, from the time I saw him, I have only known him to be a corrupt and sinful person who does not promote any truth and does not stop from committing any abominable deed.' "How can we go about eliminating him?' I asked.
'He is well-guarded and protected. There is not a place in his castle which is not surrounded by guards. There is one broken down and abandoned room though which opens out into open land. In the evening during the first third of the night, go there. You will find inside weapons and a light. You will find me waiting for you...' she said.
'But getting through to a room in a castle such as this is no easy task. Someone might pass and alert the guards and that will be the end of us' I said. 'You are not far from the truth. But I have a suggestion.' 'What is it?' I asked.
'Send a man tomorrow whom you trust as one of the workers. I shall tell him to make an opening in the room from the inside so that it should be easy to enter.' 'That's a brilliant suggestion you have,' I said.
I then left her and told the two others what we had decided and they gave their blessings to the plan. We left straightaway to get ourselves prepared. We informed a select group of believers who were assisting us to prepare themselves and gave them the password (to signal the time they could storm the castle). The time was to be dawn of the following day.
When night fell and the appointed time came, I went with my two companions to the opening in the room and uncovered it. We entered the room and put on the lamp. We found the weapons and proceeded to the apartment of God's enemy. There was our cousin standing at his door. She pointed out where he was and we entered. He was asleep and snoring. I plunged the blade in his neck and he bellowed like a bull being slaughtered. When the guards heard this, they ran quickly to his apartment and asked: 'What is this?'
'Don't worry. You can go. The prophet of God is receiving revelation,' she said, and they left. We stayed in the castle until the break of dawn. Then I stood on a wall of the castle and shouted:
'Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!' and went on with the adhan until I reached': 'Ashhadu anna Muhammadur Rasulullah ! (Then I added) 'Wa ashhadu anna al Aswad al-Ansi kadh-dhab ! I testify that al-Aswad is an imposter.'
That was the password, Muslims then converged on the castle from every direction. The guards took fright when they heard the adhan and were confronted by the Muslims shouting Allahu Akbar.
By sunrise, the mission was accomplished. When it was full light, we sent a letter to the Messenger of God giving him the good news of the death of God's enemy.
When the messengers reached Madinah they found that the Prophet, may the blessings of God be on him, had passed away that very night. They learned however that Revelation had been communicated to the Prophet informing him of the death of al-Aswad al-Ansi the night it took place."
Years later, the Khalifah Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote to Fayruz ad-Daylami, may God be pleased with them both, saying:
"I have heard that you are busy eating white bread and honey (meaning no doubt that he was leading an easy life). When this my letter reaches you, come to me with the blessings of God so that you may campaign in the path of God."
Fayruz did as he was commanded. He went to Madinah and sought an audience with Umar. Umar granted him permission. Evidently there was a crowd waiting to see Umar and a Quraysh youth pushed Fayruz. Fayruz raised his hand and hit the Quraysh youth on the nose.
The youth went to Umar who asked: "Who did that to you?"
"Fayruz. He is at the door," said the youth. Fayruz entered and Umar asked: "What is this, O Fayruz?"
"O Amir al-Muminin," said Fayruz. "You wrote to me. You didn't write to him. You gave me permission to enter and you didn't give him permission. He wanted to enter in my turn before me. Then I did what you have been told."
"Al-Qisas," pronounced Umar in judgment, meaning that Fayruz had to receive the same blow from the youth in retaliation. "Must it be so?" asked Fayruz. "It must be so," insisted Umar.
Fayruz then got down on his knees and the youth stood up to exact his retaliation. Umar said to him then: "Wait a moment, young man, so that I can tell you something which I heard from the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. I heard the Messenger of God say one evening: 'This night, al-Aswad al-Ansi the Imposter has been killed. The righteous servant Fayruz ad-Daylami has killed him' Umar then asked the youth:
"Do you see yourself taking retribution on him after you have heard this from the Messenger of God?" "I forgive him," said the youth, "after you have told me this from the Prophet." "Do you think," said Fayruz to Umar, "that my escape from what I have done is a confession to him and that his forgiveness is not given under duress?" "Yes," replied Umar and Fayruz then declared: "I testily to you that my sword, my horse and thirty thousand of my money is a gift to him."
"Your forgiveness has paid off, O brother Quraysh and you have become rich," said Umar no doubt impressed by the sense of remorse and the spontaneous generosity of Fayruz, the righteous.
A woman named Umm Anmaar who belonged to the Khuza-a tribe in Makkah went to the slave market in the city. She wanted to buy herself a youth for her domestic chores and to exploit his labor for economic gains. As she scrutinized the faces of those who were displayed for sale, her eyes fell ON a boy who was obviously not yet in his teens. She saw that he was strong and healthy and that there were clear signs of intelligence on his face. She needed no further incentive to purchase him. She paid and walked away with her new acquisition.
On the way home, Umm Anmaar turned to the boy and said:
"What's your name, boy?''
"And what's your father's name'?''
"Where do you come from?"
"Then you are an Arab!"
"Yes, from the Banu Tamim."
"How then did you come into the hands of the slave dealers in Makkah?"
"One of the Arab tribes raided our territory. They took our cattle and captured women and children. I was among the youths captured. I passed from one hand to another until I ended up in Makkah . . ."
Umm Anmaar placed the youth as an apprentice to one of the blacksmiths in Makkah to learn the art of making swords. The youth learnt quickly and was soon an expert at the profession. When he was strong enough, Umm Anmaar set up a workshop for him with all the necessary tools and equipment from making swords. Before long he was quite famous in Makkah for his excellent craftsmanship. People also liked dealing with him because of his honesty and integrity. Umm Anmaar gained much profit through him and exploited his talents to the full.
In spite of his youthfulness, Khabbab displayed unique intelligence and wisdom. Often, when he had finished work and was left to himself, he would reflect deeply on the state of Arabian society which was so steeped in corruption. He was appalled at the aimless wandering, the ignorance and the tyranny which he saw. He was one of the victims of this tyranny and he would say to himself:
"After this night of darkness, there must be a dawn." And he hoped that he would live long enough to see the darkness dissipate with the steady glow and brightness of new light.
Khabbab did not have to wait long. He was privileged to be in Makkah when the first rays of the light of Islam penetrated the city. It emanated from the lips of Muhammad ibn Abdullah as he announced that none deserves to be worshipped or adored except the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He called for an end to injustice and oppression and sharply criticized the practices of the rich in accumulating wealth at the expense of the poor and the outcast. He denounced aristocratic privileges and attitudes and called for a new order based on respect for human dignity and compassion for the underprivileged including orphans, wayfarers and the needy.
To Khabbab, the teachings of Muhammad were like a powerful light dispelling the darkness of ignorance. He went and listened to these teachings directly from him. Without any hesitation he stretched out his hand to the Prophet in allegiance and testified that "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and His messenger." He was among the first ten persons to accept Islam .
Khabbab did not hide his acceptance of Islam from anyone. When the news of his becoming a Muslim reached Umm Anmaar, she became incensed with anger. She went to her brother Sibaa ibn Abd al-Uzza who gathered a gang of youths from the Khuzaa tribe and together they made their way to Khabbab. They found him completely engrossed in his work. Sibaa went up to him and said:
"We have heard some news from you which we don't believe."
"What is it?" asked Khabbab.
"We have been told that you have given up your religion and that you now follow that man from the Banu Ha shim ."
"I have not given up my religion" replied Khabbab calmly. "I only believe in One God Who has no partner. I reject your idols and I believe that Muhammad is the servant of God and His messenger."
No sooner had Khabbab spoken these words than Sibaa and his gang set upon him. They beat him with their fists and with iron bars and they kicked him until he fell unconscious to the ground, with blood streaming from the wounds he received.
The news of what happened between Khabbab and his slave mistress spread throughout Makkah like wild-fire. People were astonished at Khabbab's daring. They had not yet heard of anyone who followed Muhammad and who had the audacity to announce the fact with such frankness and deviant confidence.
The Khabbab affair shook the leaders of the Quraysh. They did not expect that a blacksmith, such as belonged to Umm Anmaar and who had no clan in Makkah to protect him and no asabiyyah to prevent him from injury, would be bold enough to go outside her authority, denounce her gods and reject the religion of her forefathers. They realized that this was only the beginning . . .
The Quraysh were not wrong in their expectations. Khabbab's courage impressed many of his friends and encouraged them to announce their acceptance of Islam. One after another, they began to proclaim publicly the message of truth.
In the precincts of the Haram, near the Kabah, the Quraysh leaders gathered to discuss the problem of Muhammad. Among them were Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, al Walid ibn al-Mughira and Abu Jahl ibn Hisham. They noted that Muhammad was getting stronger and that his following was increasing day by day, indeed hour by hour. To them this was like a terrible disease and they made up their minds to stop it before it got out of control. They decided that each tribe should get hold of any follower of Muhammad among them and punish him until he either recants his faith or dies.
On Sibaa ibn Abd al-Uzza and his people fell the task of punishing Khabbab even further. Regularly they began taking him to all open area in the city when the sun was at its zenith and the ground was scorching hot. They would take off his clothes and dress him in iron armor and lay him on the ground. In the intense heat his skin would be seared and hit body would become inert. When it appeared that all strength had let him, they would come up and challenge him:
"What do you say about Muhammad'?"
"He is the servant of God and His messenger. He has come with the religion of guidance and truth, to lead us from darkness into light."
They would become more furious and intensify their beating. They would ask about al-Laat and al-Uzza and he would reply firmly:
"Two idols, deaf and dumb, that cannot cause harm or bring any benefit..."
This enraged them even more and they would take a big hot stone and place it on his back. Khabbab's pain and anguish would be excruciating but he did not recant.
The inhumanity of Umm Anmaar towards Khabbab was not less than that of her brother. Once she saw the Prophet speaking to Khabbab at his workshop and she flew into a blind rage. Every day after that, for several days, she went to Khabbab's workshop and punished him by placing a red hot iron from the furnace on his head. The agony was unbearable and he often fainted.
Khabbab suffered long and his only recourse was to prayer. He prayed for the punishment of Umm Anmaar and her brother. His release from pain and suffering only came when the Prophet, peace be upon him, gave permission to his companions to emigrate to Madinah. Umm Anmaar by then could not prevent him from going. She herself became afflicted with a terrible illness which no one had heard of before. She behaved as if she had suffered a rabid attack. The headaches she had were especially nerve-racking. Her children sought everywhere for medical help until finally they were told that the only cure was to cauterize her head. This was done. The treatment, with a ret hot iron, was more terrible than all the headaches she suffered.
At Madinah, among the generous and hospitable Ansar, Khabbab experienced a state of ease and restfulness which he had not known for a long time. He was delighted to be near the Prophet, peace be upon him, with no one to molest him or disturb his happiness.
He fought alongside the noble Prophet at the battle of Badr. He participated in the battle of Uhud where he had the satisfaction of seeing Sibaa ibn Abd al-Uzza meet his end at the hands of Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet.
Khabbab lived long enough to witness the great expansion of Islam under the four Khulafaa arRashidun--Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. He once visited Umar during his caliphate. Umar stood up--he was in a meeting--and greeted Khabbab with the words:
"No one is more deserving than you to be in this assembly other than Bilal." He asked Khabbab about the torture and the persecution he had received at the hands of the mushrikeen. Khabbab described this in some detail since it was still very vivid in his mind. He then exposed his back and even Umar was aghast at what he saw.
In the last phase of his life, Khabbab was blessed with wealth such as he had never before dreamed of. He was, however, well-known for his generosity. It is even said that he placed his dirhams and his diners in a part of his house that was known to the poor and the needy. He did not secure this money in any way and those in need would come and take what they needed without seeking any permission or asking any questions.
In spite of this, he was always afraid of his accountability to God for the way he disposed of this wealth. A group of companions related that they visited Khabbab when he was sick and he said:
"In this place there are eighty thousand dirhams. By God, I have never secured it any way and I have not barred anyone in need from it."
He wept and they asked why he was weeping.
"I weep," he said, "because my companions have passed away and they did not obtain any such reward in this world. I have lived on and have acquired this wealth and I fear that this will be the only reward for my deeds."
Soon after he passed away. The Khalifah Ali ibn Abu Talib, may God be pleased with him, stood at his grave and said:
"May God have mercy on Khabbab. He accepted Islam wholeheartedly. He performed hijrah willingly. He lived as a mujahid and God shall not withhold the reward of one who has done good."
Muadh ibn Jabal was a young man growing up in Yathrib as the light of guidance and truth began to spread over the Arabian peninsula. He was a handsome and imposing character with black eyes and curly hair and immediately impressed whoever he met. He was already distinguished for the sharpness of his intelligence among young men of his own age.
The young Muadh became a Muslim at the hands of Musab ibn Umayr, the daiy (missionary) whom the Prophet had sent to Yathrib before the hijrah. Muadh was among the seventy-two Yathribites who journeyed to Makkah, one year before the hijrah, and met the Prophet at his house and later again in the valley of Mina, outside Makkah, at Aqabah. Here the famous second Aqabah Pledge was made at which the new Muslims of Yathrib, including some women, vowed to support and defend the Prophet at any cost. Muadh was among those who enthusiastically clasped the hands of the blessed Prophet then and pledged allegiance to him.
As soon as Muadh returned to Madinah from Makkah, he and a few others of his age formed a group to remove and destroy idols from the houses of the mushrikeen in Yathrib. One of the effects of this campaign was that a prominent man of the city, Amr ibn al-Jumuh, became a Muslim.
When the noble Prophet reached Madinah, Muadh ibn Jabal stayed in his company as much as possible. He studied the Quran and the laws of Islam until he became one of the most well-versed of all the companions in the religion of Islam.
Wherever Muadh went, people would refer to him for legal judgments on matters over which they differed. This is not strange since he was brought up in the school of the Prophet himself and learnt as much as he could from him. He was the best pupil of the best teacher. His knowledge bore the stamp of authenticity. The best certificate that he could have received came from the Prophet himself when he said: "The most knowledgeable of my ummah in matters of Halal and haram is Muadh ibn Jabal."
One of the greatest of Muadhs contributions to the ummah of Muhammad was that he was one of the group of six who collected the Quran during the lifetime of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Whenever a group of companions met and Muadh was among them, they would look at him with awe and respect on account of his knowledge. The Prophet and his two Khalitahs after him placed this unique gift and power in the service of Islam .
After the liberation of Makkah, the Quraysh became Muslims en masse. The Prophet immediately saw the need of the new Muslims for teachers to instruct them in the fundamentals of Islam and to make them truly understand the spirit and letter of its laws. He appointed Attab ibn Usay as his deputy in Makkah and he asked Muadh ibn Jabal to stay with him and teach people the Quran and instruct them in the religion.
Sometime after the Prophet had returned to Madinah, messengers of the kings of Yemen came to him announcing that they and the people of Yemen had become Muslims. They requested that some teachers should be with them to teach Islam to the people. For this task the Prophet commissioned a group of competent duat (missionaries) and made Muadh ibn Jabal their amir. He then put the following question to Muadh:
"According to what will you judge?"
"According to the Book of God," replied Muadh.
"And if you find nothing therein?"
"According to the Sunnah of the Prophet of God."
"And if you find nothing therein?"
"Then I will exert myself (exercise ijtihad) to form my own judgment."
The Prophet was pleased with this reply and said: "Praise be to God Who has guided the messenger of the Prophet to that which pleases the Prophet."
The Prophet personally bade farewell to this mission of guidance and light and walked for some distance alongside Muadh as he rode out of the city. Finally he said to him:
"O Muadh, perhaps you shall not meet me again after this year. Perhaps when you return you shall see only my mosque and my grave." Muadh wept. Those with him wept too. A feeling of sadness and desolation overtook him as he parted from his beloved Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him.
The Prophet's premonition was correct. The eyes of Muadh never beheld the Prophet after that moment. The Prophet died before Muadh returned from the Yemen. There is no doubt that Muadh wept when he returned to Madinah and found there was no longer the blessed company of the Prophet.
During the caliphate of Umar, Muadh was sent to the Banu Kilab to apportion their stipends and to distribute the sadaqah of their richer folk among the poor. When he had done his duty, he returned to his wife with his saddle blanket around his neck, empty handed, and she asked him:
"Where are the gifts which commissioners return with for their families?" "I had an alert Supervisor who was checking over me," he replied. "You were a trusted person with the messenger of God and with Abu Bakr. Then Umar came and he sent a supervisor with you to check on you!' she exclaimed. She went on to talk about this to the women of Umar's household and complained to them about it. The complaint eventually reached Umar, so he summoned Muadh and said:
"Did I send a supervisor with you to check on you?"
"No, Amir al-Mumineen," he said, "But that was the only reason I could find to give her." Umar laughed and then gave him a gift, saying, "I hope this pleases you."
Also during the caliphate of Umar, the governor of Syria, Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan sent a message saying:
"O Amir al-Mumineen! The people of Syria are many. They fill the towns. They need people to teach them the Quran and instruct them in the religion."
Umar thereupon summoned five persons who had collected the Quran in the lifetime of the Prophet, peace be upon him. They were Muadh ibn Jabal, Ubadah ibn asSamit, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Ubayy ibn Kab and Abu adDardaa. He said to them:
"Your brothers in Syria have asked me to help them by sending those who can teach them the Quran and instruct them in the religion. Please appoint three among you for this task and may God bless you. I can select three of you myself if you do not want to put the matter to the vote."
"Why should we vote?" they asked. "Abu Ayyub is quite old and Ubayy is a sick man. That leaves three of us." "All three of you go to Homs first of all. If you are satisfied with the condition of the people there, one of you should stay there, another should go to Damascus and the other to Palestine."
So it was that Ubadah ibn as-Samit was left at Homs, Abu ad-Dardaa went to Damascus and Muadh went to Palestine. There Muadh fell ill with an infectious disease. As he was near to death, he turned in the direction of the Kabah and repeated this refrain: "Welcome Death, Welcome. A visitor has come after a long absence . . ." And looking up to heaven, he said: "O Lord, You know that I did not desire the world and to prolong my stay in it . . . O Lord, accept my soul with goodness as you would accept a believing soul..."
He then passed away, far from his family and his clan, a daiy in the service of God and a muhajir in His path.
Musab ibn Umayr was born and grew up in the lap of affluence and luxury. His rich parents lavished a great deal of care and attention on him. He wore the most expensive clothes and the most stylish shoes of his time. Yemeni shoes were then considered to be very elegant and it was his privilege to have the very best of these.
As a youth he was admired by the Quraysh not only for his good looks and style but for his intelligence. His elegant bearing and keen mind endeared him to the Makkan nobility among whom he moved with ease. Although still young, he had the privilege of attending Quraysh meetings and gatherings. He was thus in a position to know the issues which concerned the Makkans and what their attitudes and strategies were.
Among Makkans there was a sudden outburst of excitement and concern as Muhammad, known as al-Amin (the Trustworthy), emerged saying that God had sent him as a bearer of good tidings and as a warner. He warned the Quraysh of terrible chastisement if they did not turn to the worship and obedience of God and he spoke of Divine rewards for the righteous. The whole of Makkah buzzed with talk of these claims. The vulnerable Quraysh leaders thought of ways of silencing Muhammad. When ridicule and persuasion did not work, they embarked on a campaign of harassment and persecution.
Musab learnt that Muhammad and those who believed in his message were gathering in a house near the hill of as-Safa to evade Quraysh harassment. This was the house of al-Arqam. To satisfy his curiosity, Musab proceeded to the house undererred by the knowledge of Quraysh hostility. There he met the Prophet teaching his small band of companions, reciting the verses of the Quran to them and performing Salat with them in submission to God, the Great, the Most High.
The Prophet welcomed him, and with his noble hand tenderly touched Musab's heart as it throbbed with excitement. A deep feeling of tranquility came over him.
Musab was totally overwhelmed by what he had seen and heard. The words of the Quran had made a deep and immediate impression on him.
In this first meeting with the Prophet, the young and decisive Musab declared his acceptance of Islam. It was a historic moment. The keen mind of Musab, his tenacious will and determination, his eloquence and his beautiful character were now in the service of Islam and would help change the course of men's destinies and of history.
On accepting Islam Musab had one major concern his mother. Her name was Khunnas bint Malik. She was a woman of extraordinary power. She had a dominant personality and could easily arouse fear and terror. When Musab became a Muslim, the only power on earth he might have feared was his mother. All the powerful nobles of Makkah and their attachment to pagan customs and traditions were of little consequence to him. Having his mother as an opponent, however, could not be taken lightly.
Musab thought quickly. He decided that he should conceal his acceptance of Islam until such time as a solution should come from God. He continued to frequent the House of al-Arqam and sit in the company of the Prophet. He felt serene in his new faith and by keeping all indications of his acceptance of Islam away from her, he managed to stave off his mother's wrath, but not for long.
It was difficult during those days to keep anything secret in Makkah for long. The eyes and ears of the Quraysh were on every road. Behind every footstep imprinted in the soft and burning sand was a Quraysh informer. Before long, Musab was seen as he quietly entered the House of al-Arqam, by someone called Uthman ibn Talhah.
At another time, Uthman saw Musab praying in the same manner as Muhammad prayed. The conclusion was obvious.
As winds in a storm, the devastating news of Musab's acceptance of Islam spread among the Quraysh and eventually reached his mother.
Musab stood before his mother, his clan and the Quraysh nobility who had all gathered to find out what he had done and what he had to say for himself.
With a certain humility and calm confidence, Musab acknowledged that he had become a Muslim and no doubt he explained his reasons for so doing. He then recited some verses of the Quran - verses which had cleansed the hearts of the believers and brought them back to the natural religion of God. Though only few in number, their hearts were now filled with wisdom, honor, justice and courage.
As Musab's mother listened to her son on whom she had lavished so much care and affection, she became increasingly incensed. She felt like silencing him with one terrible blow. But the hand which shot out like an arrow staggered and faltered before the light which radiated from Musab's serene face. Perhaps, it was her mother's love which restrained her from actually beating him, but still she felt she had to do something to avenge the gods which her son had forsaken. The solution she decided upon was far worse for Musab than a few blows could ever have been. She had Musab taken to a far corner of the house. There he was firmly bound and tethered. He had become a prisoner in his own home.
For a long time, Musab remained tied and confined under the watchful eyes of guards whom his mother had placed over him to prevent him from any further contact with Muhammad and his faith. Despite his ordeal, Musab did not waver. He must have had news of how other Muslims were being harassed and tortured by the idolators. For him, as for many other Muslims, life in Makkah was becoming more and more intolerable. Eventually he heard that a group of Muslims were preparing secretly to migrate to Abyssinia to seek refuge and relief. His immediate thoughts were how to escape from his prison and join them. At the first opportunity, when his mother and his warders were off-guard, he managed to slip away quietly. Then with utmost haste he joined the other refugees and before long they sailed together across the Red Sea to Africa.
Although the Muslims enjoyed peace and security in the land of the Negus, they longed to be in Makkah in the company of the noble Prophet. So when a report reached Abyssinia that the conditions of the Muslims in Makkah had improved, Musab was among the first to return to Makkah. The report was in fact false and Musab once again left for Abyssinia.
Whether he was in Makkah or Abyssinia, Musab remained strong in his new faith and his main concern was to make his life worthy of his Creator.
When Musab returned to Makkah again, his mother made a last attempt to gain control of him and threatened to have him tied up again and confined. Musab swore that if she were to do that, he would kill everyone who helped her. She knew very well that he would carry out this threat for she saw the iron determination he now had.
Separation was inevitable. When the moment came, it was sad for both mother and son but it revealed a strong Persistence in kufr on the part of the mother and an even greater persistence in iman on the part of the son. As she threw him out of her house and cut him off from all the material comforts she used to lavish on him, she said:
"Go to your own business. I am not prepared to be a mother to you." Musab went up close to her and said:
"Mother, I advise you sincerely. I am concerned about you. Do testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger."
"I swear by the shooting stars, I shall not enter your religion even if my opinion is ridiculed and my mind becomes impotent," she insisted.
Musab thus left her home and the luxury and comforts he used to enjoy. The elegant, well-dressed youth would henceforth be seen only in the coursest of attire. He now had more important concerns. He was determined to use his talents and energies in acquiring knowledge and in serving God and His Prophet.
One day, several years later, Musab came upon a gathering of Muslims sitting around the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace. They bowed their heads and lowered their gaze when they saw Musab, and some were even moved to tears. This was because his jalbab was old and in tatters and they were immediately taken back to the days before his acceptance of Islam when he was a model of sartorial elegance. The Prophet looked at Musab, smiled gracefully and said:
"I have seen this Musab with his parents in Makkah. They lavished care and attention on him and gave him all comforts. There was no Quraysh youth like him. Then he left all that seeking the pleasure of God and devoting himself to the service of His Prophet." The Prophet then went on to say:
"There will come a time when God will grant you victory over Persia and Byzantium. You would have one dress in the morning and another in the evening and you would eat out of one dish in the morning and another in the evening."
In other words, the Prophet predicted that the Muslims would become rich and powerful and that they would have material goods in plenty. The companions sitting around asked the Prophet:
"O Messenger of Allah, are we in a better situation in these times or would we be better off then?" He replied:
"You are rather better off now than you would be then. If you knew of the world what I know you would certainly not be so much concerned with it."
On another occasion, the Prophet talked in a similar vein to his companions and asked them how they would be if they could have one suit of clothes in the morning and another in the evening and even have enough material to put curtains in their houses just as the Kabah was fully covered. The companions replied that they would then be in a better situation because they would then have sufficient sustenance and would be free for ibadah (worship). The Prophet however told them that they were indeed better off as they were.
After about ten years of inviting people to Islam, most of Makkah still remained hostile. The noble Prophet then went to Taif seeking new adherents to the faith. He was repulsed and chased out of the city. The future of Islam looked bleak.
It was just after this that the Prophet chose Musab to be his "ambassador" to Yathrib to teach a small group of believers who had come to pledge allegiance to Islam and prepare Madinah for the day of the great Hijrah.
Musab was chosen above companions who were older than he or were more closely related to the Prophet or who appeared to possess greater prestige. No doubt Musab was chosen for this task because of his noble character, his fine manners and his sharp intellect. His knowledge of the Quran and his ability to recite it beautifully and movingly was also an important consideration.
Musab understood his mission well. He knew that he was on a sacred mission. to invite people to God and the straight path of Islam and to prepare what was to be the territorial base for the young and struggling Muslim community.
He entered Madinah as a guest of Sad ibn Zurarah of the Khazraj tribe. Together they went to people, to their homes and their gatherings, telling them about the Prophet, explaining Islam to them and reciting the Quran. Through the grace of God, many accepted Islam. This was especially pleasing to Musab but profoundly alarming to many leaders of Yathribite society.
Once Musab and Sad were sitting near a well in an orchard of the Zafar clan. With them were a number of new Muslims and others who were interested in Islam. A powerful notable of the city, Usayd ibn Khudayr, came up brandishing a spear. He was livid with rage. Sad ibn Zararah saw him and told Musab:
"This is a chieftain of his people. May God place truth in his heart." "If he sits down, I will speak to him," replied Musab, displaying all the calm and tact of a great daiy.
The angry Usayd shouted abuse and threatened Musab and his host. "Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive." Musab smiled a warm and friendly smile and said to Usayd: "Won't you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission. accept it and if you dislike it we would stop telling you what you dislike and leave."
"That's reasonable," said Usayd and, sticking his spear in the ground, sat down. Musab was not compelling him to do anything. He was not denouncing him. He was merely inviting him to listen. If he was satisfied, well and good. If not, then Musab would leave his district and his clan without any fuss and go to another district.
Musab began telling him about Islam and recited the Quran to him. Even before Usayd spoke, it was clear from his face, now radiant and expectant, that faith had entered his heart. He said:
"How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion?"
"Have a bath, purify yourself and your clothes. Then utter the testimony of Truth (Shahadah), and perform Salat. Usayd left the gathering and was absent for only a short while. He returned and testified that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. He then prayed two rakats and said:
"After me, there is a man who if he follows you, everyone of his people will follow him. I shall send him to you now. He is 'Sad ibn Muadh."
Sad ibn Muadh came and listened to Musab. He was convinced and satisfied and declared his submission to God. He was followed by another important Yathribite, Sad ibn Ubadah. Before long, the people of Yathrib were all in a flurry, asking one another.
"If Usayd ibn Khudayr, Sad ibn Muadh and Sad ibn Ubadah have accepted the new religion, how can we not follow? Let's go to Musab and believe with him. They say that truth emanates from his lips."
The first ambassador of the Prophet, peace be on him, was thus supremely successful. The Prophet had chosen well. Men and women, the young and the old, the powerful and the weak accepted Islam at his hands. The course of Yathribite history had been changed forever. The way was being prepared for the great Hijrah. Yathrib was soon to become the center and the base for the Islamic state.
Less than a year after his arrival in Yathrib, Musab returned to Makkah. It was again in the season of pilgrimage. With him was a group of seventy-five Muslims from Madinah. Again at Aqabah, near Mina, they met the Prophet. There they solemnly undertook to defend the Prophet at all cost. Should they remain firm in their faith, their reward, said the Prophet, would be nothing less than Paradise. This second bayah or pledge which the Muslims of Yathrib made came to be called the Pledge of War.
From then on events moved swiftly. Shortly after the Pledge, the Prophet directed his persecuted followers to migrate to Yathrib where the new Muslims or Ansar (Helpers) had shown their willingness to give asylum and extend their protection to the afflicted Muslims. The first of the Prophet's companions to arrive in Madinah were Musab ibn Umayr and the blind Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. Abdullah also recited the Quran beautifully and according to one of the Ansar, both Musab and Abdullah recited the Quran for the people of Yathrib.
Musab continued to play a major role in the building of the new community. The next momentous situation in which we meet him was during the great Battle of Badr. After the battle was over, the Quraysh prisoners of war were brought to the Prophet who assigned them to the custody of individual Muslims. "Treat them well," he instructed.
Among the prisoners was Abu Aziz ibn Umayr, the brother of Musab. Abu Aziz related what happened: "I was among a group of Ansar...Whenever they had lunch or dinner they would give me bread and dates to eat in obedience to the Prophet's instructions to them to treat us well.
"My brother, Musab ibn Umayr, passed by me and said to the man from the Ansar who was holding me prisoner:
'Tie him firmly... His mother is a woman of great wealth and maybe she would ransom him for you.'" Abu Aziz could not believe his ears. Astonished, he turned to Musab and asked: "My brother, is this your instruction concerning me?" "He is my brother, not you," replied Musab thus affirming that in the battle between iman and kufr, the bonds of faith were stronger than the ties of kinship.
At the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet called upon Musab, now well-known as Musab al-Khayr (the Good), to carry the Muslim standard. At the beginning of the battle, the Muslims seemed to be gaining the upper hand. A group of Muslims then went against the orders of the Prophet and deserted their positions. The mushrikin forces rallied again and launched a counterattack. Their main objective, as they cut through the Muslim forces, was to get to the noble Prophet.
Musab realized the great danger facing the Prophet. He raised the standard high and shouted the takbir. With the standard in one hand and his sword in the other, he plunged into the Quraysh forces. The odds were against him. A Quraysh horseman moved in close and severed his right hand. Musab was heard to repeat the words:
"Muhammad is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him," showing that however great his attachment was to the Prophet himself, his struggle above all was for the sake of God and for making His word supreme. His left hand was then severed also and as he held the standard between the stumps of his arms, to console himself he repeated: "Muhammad is only a Messenger of God. Messengers have passed away before him." Musab was then hit by a spear. He fell and the standard fell. The words he repeated, every time he was struck were later revealed to the Prophet and completed, and became part of the Quran.
After the battle, the Prophet and his companions went through the battlefield, bidding farewell to the martyrs. When they came to Musab's body, tears flowed. Khabbah related that they could not find any cloth with which to shroud Musab's body, except his own garment. When they covered his head with it, his legs showed and when his legs were covered, his head was exposed and the Prophet instructed:
"Place the garment over his head and cover his feet and legs with the leaves of the idhkhir (rue) plant."
The Prophet felt deep pain and sorrow at the number of his companions who were killed at the Battle of Uhud. These included his uncle Hamzah whose body was horribly mutilated. But it was over the body of Musab that the Prophet stood, with great emotion. He remembered Musab as he first saw him in Makkah, stylish and elegant, and then looked at the short burdah which was now the only garment he possessed and he recited the verse of the Quran:
"Among the believers are men who have been true to what they have pledged to God."
The Prophet then cast his tender eyes over the battle field on which lay the dead companions of Musab and said: "The Messenger of God testifies that you are martyrs in the sight of God on the day of Qiyamah."
Then turning to the living companions around him he said: "O People! Visit them, send peace on them for, by Him in whose hand is my soul, any Muslim who sends peace on them until the day of Qiyamah, they would return the salutation of peace."
As-salaamu alayka yaa Musab...
As-salaamu alaykum, ma'shar ash-shudhadaa.
As-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu.
Peace be on you, O Musab...
Peace be on you all, O martyrs. .
Peace be on you and the mercy and blessings of God.
Nuaym ibn Masud was from Najd in the northern highlands of Arabia. He belonged to the powerful Ghatafan tribe. As a young man, he was clever and alert. He was full of enterprise and travelled widely. He was resourceful, every ready to take up a challenge and not prepared to allow any problem to get the better of him.
This son of the desert was endowed with extraordinary presence of mind and unusual subtlety. He was however someone who liked to enjoy himself and gave himself over to the pursuit of youthful passions. He loved music and took delight in the company of songstresses. Often when he felt the urge to listen to the strings of a musical instrument or to enjoy the company of a singer, he would leave the hearths of his people in the Najd and make his way to Yathrib and in particular to the Jewish community which was widely known for its song and music.
While in Yathrib, Nuaym was known to spend generously and he in turn would be lavishly entertained. In this way Nuaym came to develop strong links among the Jews of the city and in particular with the Banu Qurayzah.
At the time when God favored mankind by sending His Prophet with the religion of guidance and truth and the valleys of Makkah glowed with the light of Islam, Nuaym ibn Masud was still given over to the pursuit of sensual satisfaction. He stopped firmly opposed to the religion partly out of fear that he would be obliged to change and give up his pursuit of pleasure. And it was not long before he found himself being drawn into joining the fierce opposition to Islam and waging war against the Prophet and his companions.
The moment of truth for Nuaym came during the great siege of Madinah which took place in the fifth year of the Prophet's stay in the city. We need to go back a little to pick up the threads of the story.
Two years before the siege, the Prophet was compelled to banish a group of Jews belonging to the tribe of Banu an-Nadir from Madinah because of their collaboration with the Quraysh enemy. The Banu Nadir migrated to the north and settled in Khaybar and other oases along the trade route to Syria. They at once began to incite the tribes both near and far against the Muslims. Caravans going to Madinah were harassed partly to put economic pressure on the city.
But this was not enough. Leaders of the Banu an-Nadir got together and decided to form a mighty alliance or confederacy of as many tribes as possible to wage war on the Prophet, and to put an end once and for all to his mission. The Nadirites went to the Quraysh in Makkah and urged them to continue the fight against the Muslims. They made a pact with the Quraysh to attack Madinah at a specified time.
After Makkah, the Nadirite leaders set out northwards on a journey of some one thousand kilometers to meet the Ghatafan. They promised the Ghatafan the entire annual date harvest of Khaybar for waging war against Islam and its Prophet. They informed the Ghatafan of the pact they had concluded with the Quraysh and persuaded them to make a similar agreement.
Other tribes were also persuaded to join the mighty alliance. From the north came the Banu Asad and the Fazar. From the south the Ahabish, allies of the Quraysh, the Banu Sulaym and others. At the appointed time, the Quraysh set out from Makkah in large numbers on cavalry and on foot under the Leadership of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. The Ghatafan too set out from Najd in large numbers under the leadership of Ubaynah ibn Hisn. In the vanguard of the Ghatafan army was Nuaym ibn Masud.
News of the impending attack on Madinah reached the Prophet while he was half-way on a long expedition to Dumat al-Jandal on the Syrian border some fifteen days journey from Madinah. The tribe at Dumat al-Jandal was molesting caravans bound for Madinah and their action was probably prompted by the Banu an-Nadir to entice the Prophet away from Madinah. With the Prophet away, they reasoned, it would be easier for the combined tribal forces from the north and the south to attack Madinah and deal a mortal blow to the Muslim community with the help of disaffected persons from within the city itself.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, hurried back to Madinah and conferred with the Muslims. The forces of the Ahzab or the confederate enemy tribes amounted to over ten thousand men while the Muslims fighting were just three thousand men. It was unanimously decided to defend the city from within and to prepare for a siege rather than fight in the open. The Muslims were in dire straits.
"When they came upon you from above and from below you, and when eyes grew wild and hearts reached to the throats. and you were imagining vain thoughts concerning God. Then were the believers sorely tried and shaken with a mighty shock." (The Quran, Surah al-Ahzab, 33:1O)
To protect the city, the Muslims decided to dig a ditch or khandaq. It is said that the ditch was about three and a half miles long and some ten yards wide and five yards deep. The three thousand Muslims were divided into groups of ten and each group was given a fixed number of cubits to dig. The digging of the ditch took several weeks to complete.
The ditch was just completed when the mighty enemy forces from the north and the south converged on Madinah. While they were within a short distance from the city the Nadirire conspirators approached their fellow Jews of the Banu Qur~yzah who lived in Madinah and tried to persuade them to join the war against the Prophet by helping the two armies approaching from Makkah and the north. The response of the Qurayzah Jews to the Nadirite leaders was: "You have indeed called us to participate in something which we like and desire to have accomplished. But you know there is a treaty between us and Muhammad binding us to keep the peace with him so long as we live secure and content in Madinah. You do realize that our pact with him is still valid. We are afraid that if Muhammad is victorious in this war he would then punish us severely and that he would expel us from Madinah as a result of our treachery towards him."
The Nadirire leaders however continued to pressurize the Banu Qurayzah to renege on their treaty. Treachery to Muhammad, they affirmed, was a good and necessary act. They assured the Banu Qurayzah that there was no doubt this time that the Muslims would be completely routed and Muhammad would be finished once and for all.
The approach of the two mighty armies strengthened the resolve of the Banu Qurayzah to disavow their treaty with Muhammad. They tore up the pact and declared their support for the confederates. The news fell on the Muslims ears with the force of a thunderbolt.
The confederate armies were now pressing against Madinah. They effectively cut off the city and prevented food and provisions and any form of outside help or reinforcement from reaching the inhabitants of the city. After the terrible exhaustions of the past months the Prophet now felt as if they had fallen between the jaws of the enemy. The Quraysh and [he Ghatafan were besieging the city from without. The Banu Qurayzah were laying in wait behind the Muslims, ready to pounce from within the city. Added to this. the hypocrites of Madinah, those who had openly professed Islam but remained secretly opposed to the Prophet and his mission, began to come out openly and cast doubt and ridicule on the Prophet.
"Muhammad promised us." they said, "that we would gain possession of the treasures of Chosroes and Caesar and here we are today with not d single one of us being able to guarantee that he could go to the toilet safely to relieve himself!"
Thereafter, group after group of the inhabitants of Madinah began to disassociate themselves from the Prophet expressing fear for their women and children and for their homes should the Banu Qurayzah attack once the fighting began. The enemy forces though vastly superior in numbers were confounded by the enormous ditch. They had never seen or heard of such a military stratagem among the Arabs. Nonetheless they tightened their siege of the city. At the same time they attempted to breach the ditch at some narrow points but were repulsed by the vigilant Muslims. So hard-pressed were the Muslims that the Prophet Muhammad and his companions once did not even have time for Salat and the Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha prayers had to be performed during the night.
As the siege wore on and the situation became more critical for the Muslims. Muhammad turned fervently to his Lord for succour and support.
"O Allah," he prayed, "I beseech you to grant Your promise of victory. O Allah I beseech You to grant your promise of victory."
On that night, as the Prophet prayed, Nuaym lay tossing in his bivouac. He could not sleep. He kept gazing at the stars in the vast firmament above. He thought hard and long and suddenly he found himself exclaiming and asking: "Woe to you, Nuaym! What is it really that has brought you from those far off places in Najd to fight this man and those with him? Certainly you are not fighting him for the triumph of right or for the protection of some honor violated. Really you have only come here to fight for some unknown reason. Is it reasonable that someone with a mind such as yours should fight and kill or be killed for no cause whatsoever? Woe to you, Nuaym. What is it that has caused you to draw your sword against this righteous man who exhorts his followers to justice, good deeds and helping relatives? And what is it that has driven you to sink your spear into the bodies of his followers who follow the message of guidance and truth that he brought?"
Nuaym thus struggled with his conscience and debated with himself. Then he came to a decision. Suddenly he stood upright, determined. The doubts were gone. Under the cover of darkness, he slipped away from the camp of his tribe and made his way to the Prophet of God, peace and blessings of Allah be on him.
When the Prophet beheld him, standing erect in his presence, he exclaimed, "Nuaym ibn Masud?"
"Yes, O Messenger of God," declared Nuaym. "What has brought you here at this hour?"
"I came", said Nuaym, "to declare that there is no god but Allah and that you are the servant of God and His Messenger and that the message you have brought is
He went on: "I have declared my submission to God, O Messenger of God, but my people do not know of my submission. Command me therefore to do whatever you desire."
"You are only one person among us," observed the Prophet. "So go to your people and act as if you have nothing to do with us for indeed war is treachery."
"Yes, O Messenger of God," replied Nuaym. And if God wills, you shall witness what pleases you." Without losing any time, Nuaym went to the Banu Qurayzah. He was, as was mentioned earlier, a close friend of the tribe. "O Bani Qurayzah," he said. "You have known my love for you and my sincerity in advising you."
"Yes ," they agreed, "but what are you suspicious of so far as we are concerned?" Nuaym continued: "The Quraysh and the Ghatafan have their own interests in this war which are different from your interests." "How so?" they queried.
"This is your city," Nuaym asserted. "You have your wealth, your children and your womenfolk here and it is not in your power to flee and take refuge in another city. On the other hand, the Quraysh and the Ghatafan have their land, their wealth, their children and their womenfolk away from this city. They came to fight Muhammad. They urged you to break the treaty you had with him and to help them against him. So you responded positively to them. If they were to be victorious in their encounter with him, they would reap the booty. But if they fail to subdue him, they would return to their country safe and sound and they would leave you to him and he would be in a position to exact the most bitter revenge on you. You know very well that you would have no power to confront him."
"You are right," they said. "But what suggestion do you have?" "My opinion," Nuaym suggested, "is that you should not join forces with them until you take a group of their prominent men as hostages. In that way you could carry on the fight against Muhammad either till victory or till the last of your men or theirs perish. (They would not be able to leave you in the lurch)." "You have advised well," they responded and agreed to take up his suggestion.
Nuaym then left and went to Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, the Quraysh leader and spoke to him and other Quraysh leaders. "O Quraysh," said Nuaym, "You know my affection for you and my enmity towards Muhammad. I have heard some news and I thought it my duty to disclose it to you but you should keep it confidential and do not attribute it to me"
"You must inform us of this matter," insisted the Quraysh.
Nuaym continued: "The Banu Qurayzah now regret that they have agreed to participate in the hostilities against Muhammad. They fear that you would turn back and abandon them to him. So they have sent a message to Muhammad saying: 'We are sorry for what we have done and we are determined to return to the treaty and a state of peace with you. Would it please you then if we take several Quraysh and Ghatafan nobles and surrender them to you? We will then join you in fighting them - the Quraysh and the Ghatafan - until you finish them off.' The Prophet has sent back a reply to them saying he agrees. If therefore the Jews send a delegation to you demanding hostages from among your men do not hand over a single person to them. And do not mention a word of what I said to you."
"What a good ally you are. May you be rewarded well ," said Abu Sufyan gratefully.
Nuaym then went to his own people the Ghatafan, and spoke to them in a similar vein. He gave them the same warning against expected treachery from the Banu Qurayzah.
Abu Sufyan wanted to test the Banu Qurayzah so he sent his son to them. "My father sends greetings of peace to you," began Abu Sufyan's son. "He says that our siege of Muhammad and his companions has been a protracted affair and we have become weary...We are now determined to fight Muhammad and finish him off. My father has sent me to you to ask you to join battle with Muhammad tomorrow."
"But tomorrow is Saturday," said the Jews of Banu Qurayzah, "and we do not work at all on Saturdays. Moreover, we would not fight with you until you hand over to us seventy of your nobles and nobles from the Ghatafan as hostages. We fear that if the fighting becomes too intense for you would hasten back home and leave us alone to Muhammad. You know that we have no power to resist him..."
When Abu Sufyan's son returned to his people and told them what he had heard from the Banu Qurayzah, they shouted in unison!
"Damned be the sons of monkeys and swine! By God, if they were to demand from us a single sheep as a hostage, we would not give them".
And so it was that Nuaym was successful in causing disharmony among the confederates and splitting their ranks.
While the mighty alliance was in this state of disarray, God sent down on the Quraysh and their allies a fierce and bitterly cold wind which swept their tents and their vessels away, extinguished their fires, buffeted their faces and cast sand in their eves. In this terrible state of confusion the allies fled under cover of darkness.
That very night the Prophet had sent one his companions, Hudayfah ibn al-Yaman, to get information on the enemy's morale and intentions. He brought back the news that on the advice and initiative of Abu Sufyan, the enemy had turned on their heels and fled... The news quickly spread through the Muslims ranks and they shouted in joy and relief!
La ilaha ilia Allahu wahdah
Wa nasara abdah
Wa a azza jundah
Wa hazama-l ahzaba wahdah.
There is no god but Allah alone
To His promise He has been true
His servant He has helped
His forces He has strengthened
And Alone the confederates He has destroyed.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, praised and gave thanks to his Lord for His deliverance from the threat posed by the mighty alliance. Nuaym, as a result of his subtle but major role in the blasting of the alliance, gained the confidence of the Prophet who entrusted him thereafter with many a difficult task. He became the standard-bearer of the Prophet on several occasions.
Three years after the Battle of the Ditch, on the day the Muslims marched victoriously into Makkah, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb stood surveying the Muslim armies. He beheld a man carrying the Ghatafan flag and asked: "Who is this?" "Nuaym ibn Masud," came the reply.
"He did a terrible thing to us at al-Khandaq," Abu Sufyan confessed. "By God, he was certainly one of the fiercest enemies of Muhammad and here he is now carrying his people's flag in the ranks of Muhammad and coming to wage war on us under his leadership."
Through the grace of God and the magnanimity of the noble Prophet, Abu Sufyan himself was soon to join the same ranks.
Even before Islam was introduced to Yathrib, Rumaysa was known for her excellent character, the power of her intellect and her independent attitude of mind. She was known by various names including Rumaysa and Ghumaysa, but these were possibly nicknames. One historian says that her real name was Sahlah but later she was popularly known as Umm Sulaym.
Umm Sulaym was first married to Malik ibn an-Nadr and her son by this marriage was the famous Anas ibn Malik, one of the great companions of the Prophet.
Umm Sulaym was one of the first women of Yathrib to accept Islam. She was influenced by the refined, dedicated and persuasive Musab ibn Umayr who was sent out as the first missionary or ambassador of Islam by the noble Prophet. This was after the first pledge of Aqabah. Twelve men of Yathrib had gone to Aqabah on the outskirts of Makkah to pledge loyalty to the Prophet. This was the first major break through for the mission of the Prophet for many years.
Umm Sulaym's decision to accept Islam was made without the knowledge or consent of her husband, Malik ibn an-Nadr. He was absent from Yathrib at the time and when he returned he felt some change had come over his household and asked his wife: "Have you been rejuvenated?" "No," she said, "but I (now) believe in this man (meaning the Prophet Muhammad)."
Malik was not pleased especially when his wife went on to announce her acceptance of Islam in public and instruct her son Anas in the teachings and practice of the new faith. She taught him to say la ilaha ilia Allah and Ash hadu anna Muhammada-r Rasulullah. The young Anas repeated this simple but profound declaration of faith clearly and emphatically.
Umm Sulaym's husband was now furious. He shouted at her: "Don't corrupt my son." "I am not corrupting him ," she replied firmly.
Her husband then left the house and it is reported that he was set upon by an enemy of his and was killed. The news shocked but apparently did not upset Umm Sulaym greatly. She remained devoted to her son Anas and was concerned about his. proper upbringing. She is even reported to have said that she would not marry again unless Anas approved.
When it was known that Umm Sulaym had become a widow, one man, Zayd ibn Sahl, known as Abu Talhah, resolved to become engaged to her before anyone else did.
He was rather confident that Umm Sulaym would not pass him over for another. He was after all a strong and virile person who was quite rich and who possessed an imposing house that was much admired. He was an accomplished horseman and a skilful archer and, moreover, he belonged to the same clan as Umm Sulaym, the Banu Najjar.
Abu Talhah proceeded to Umm Sulaym's house. On the way he recalled that she had been influenced by the preaching of Musab ibn Umayr and had become a Muslim.
"So what?" he said to himself. "Was not her husband who died a firm adherent of the old religion and was he not opposed to Muhammad and his mission?"
Abu Talhah reached Umm Sulaym's house. He asked and was given permission to enter. Her son Anas was present. Abu Talhah explained why he had come and asked for her hand in marriage.
"A man like you, Abu Talhah ," she said, "is not (easily) turned away. But I shall never marry you while you are a kafir, an unbeliever."
Abu Talhah thought she was trying to put him off and that perhaps she had already preferred someone wealthier and more influential. He said to her:
"What is it that really prevents you from accepting me, Umm Sulaym? Is it the yellow and the white metals (gold and silver)?"
"Gold and silver?" she asked somewhat taken aback and in a slightly censuring tone. "Yes," he said. "I swear to you, Abu Talhah, and I swear to God and His Messenger that if you accept Islam, I shall be pleased to accept you as a husband, without any gold or silver. I shall consider your acceptance of Islam as my mahr."
Abu Talhah understood well the implications of her words. His mind turned to the idol he had made from wood and on which he lavished great attention in the same way that important men of his tribe venerated and cared for their personal idols.
The opportunity was right for Umm Sulaym to stress the futility of such idol worship and she went on: "Don't you know Abu Talhah, that the god you worship besides Allah grew from the earth?" "That's true," he said.
"Don't you feel stupid while worshipping part of a tree while you use the rest of it for fuel to bake bread or warm yourself? (If you should give up these foolish beliefs and practices) and become a Muslim, Abu Talhah, I shall be pleased to accept you as a husband and I would not want from you any sadaqah apart from your acceptance of Islam."
"Who shall instruct me in Islam?" asked Abu Talhah. "I shall," Umm Sulaym replied. "How?"
"Utter the declaration of truth and testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Then go to your house, destroy your idol and throw it away."
Abu Talhah left and reflected deeply on what Umm Sulaym had said. He came back to her beaming with happiness.
"I have taken your advice to heart. I declare that there is no god but Allah and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
Umm Sulaym and Abu Talhah were married. Anas, her son, was pleased and the Muslims would say: "We have never yet heard of a mahr that was more valuable and precious than that of Umm Sulaym for she made Islam her mahr."
Umm Sulaym was pleased and delighted with her new husband who placed his unique energies and talents in the service of Islam. He was one of the seventy three men who swore allegiance to the Prophet at the second Pledge of Aqabah. With him, according to one report, was his wife Umm Sulaym. Two other women, the celebrated Nusaybah bint Kab and Asma bint Amr witnessed Aqabah and took the oath of allegiance to the Prophet.
Abu Talhah was devoted to the Prophet and took enormous delight in simply looking at him and listening to the sweetness of his speech. He participated in all the major military campaigns. He lived a very ascetic life and was known to fast for long periods at a time. It is said that he had a fantastic orchard in Madinah with date palms and grapes and running water. One day while he was performing Salat in the shade of the trees, a beautiful bird with brightly colored plumage flew in front of him. He became engrossed in the scene and forgot how many rakats he had prayed. Two? Three? When he completed the Prayer he went to the Prophet and described how he had been distracted. In the end, he said: "Bear witness, Messenger of Allah, that I hand over this orchard as a charity for the sake of Allah, the Exalted."
Abu Talhah and Umm Sulaym had an exemplary Muslim family life, devoted to the Prophet and the service of Muslims and Islam. The Prophet used to visit their home. Sometimes when the time of Prayer came, he would pray on a mat provided by Umm Sulaym. Sometimes also he would have a siesta in their house and, as he slept, she would wipe the perspiration from his forehead. Once when the Prophet awoke from his siesta, he asked: "Umm Sulaym, what are you doing?" "I am taking these (drops of perspiration) as a barakah (blessing) which comes from you ," she replied.
At another time, the Prophet went to their house and Umm Sulaym offered him dates and butterfat but he did not have any of it because he was fasting. Occasionally, she would send her son Anas with bags of dates to his house.
It was noticed that the Prophet, peace be on him, had a special compassion for Umm Sulaym and her family and when asked about it, he replied: "Her brother was killed beside me."
Umm Sulaym also had a well-known sister, Umm Haram, the wife of the imposing Ubadah ibn as-Samit. She died at sea during a naval expedition and was buried in Cyprus. Umm Sulaym's husband, Abu Talhah, also died while he was on a naval expedition during the time of the third Caliph, Uthman, and was buried at sea.
Umm Sulaym herself was noted for her great courage and bravery. During the Battle of Uhud, she carried a dagger in the folds of her dress. She gave water to and tended the wounded and she made attempts to defend the Prophet when the tide of battle was turning against him. At the Battle of Khandaq, the Prophet saw her carrying a dagger and he asked her what she was doing with it. She said: "It is to fight those who desert."
"May God grant you satisfaction in that," replied the Prophet. In the face of adversity, Umm Sulaym displayed a unique calmness and strength. One of her young sons (Umayr) fell sick and died while her husband was away looking after his orchards. She bathed the child and wrapped him in shrouds. She told others at her home that they should not inform Abu Talhah because she herself wanted to tell him.
Umm Sulaym had another son whose name was Abdullah. A few days after she gave birth, she sent Anas with the baby and a bag of dates to the Prophet. The Prophet placed the baby on his lap. He crushed the dates in his mouth and put some in the baby's mouth. The baby sucked the dates with relish and the Prophet said: "The Ansar are only fond of dates."
Abdullah eventually grew up and had seven children all of whom memorized the Quran.
Umm Sulaym was a model Muslim, a model wife and mother. Her belief in God was strong and uncompromising. She was not prepared to endanger her faith and the upbringing of her children for wealth and luxury, however abundant and tempting.
She was devoted to the Prophet and dedicated her son Anas to his service. She took the responsibility of educating her children and she played an active part in public life, sharing with the other Muslims the hardships and the joys of building a community and living for the pleasure of God.
Said ibn Aamir al-Jumahi was one of thousands who left for the region of Tanim on the outskirts of Makkah at the invitation of the Quraysh leaders to witness the killing of Khubayb ibn Adiy, one of the companions of Muhammad whom they had captured treacherously.
With his exuberant youthfulness and strength, Said jostled through the crowd until he caught up with the Quraysh leaders, men like Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. and Safwan ibn Umayyah, who were leading the procession.
Now he could see the prisoner of the Quraysh shackled in his chains, the women and children pushing him to the place set for his death. Khubayb's death was to be in revenge for Quraysh losses in the battle of Badr.
When the assembled throng arrived with its prisoner at the appointed place, Said ibn Aamir took up his position at a point directly overlooking Khubayb as he approached the wooden cross. From there he heard Khubayb's firm but quiet voice amid the shouting of women and children.
"If you would, leave me to pray two rakaats before my death." This the Quraysh allowed.
Said looked at Khubayb as he faced the Kabah and prayed. How beautiful and how composed those two rakaats seemed! Then he saw Khubayb facing the Quraysh leaders.
"By God, if you thought that I asked to pray out of fear of death, I would think the prayer not worth the trouble," he said.
Said then saw his people set about dismembering Khubayb's body while he was yet alive and taunting him in the process.
"Would you like Muhammad to be in your place while you go free?"
With his blood flowing, he replied. "By God, I would not want to be safe and secure among my family while even a thorn hurts Muhammad." People shook their fists in the air and the shouting increased. "Kill him. Kill him!"
Said watched Khubayb lifting his eyes to the heavens above the wooden cross. "Count them all, O Lord," he said. "Destroy them and let not a single one escape."
Thereafter Said could not count the number of swords and spears which cut through Khubayb's body.
The Quraysh returned to Makkah and in the eventful days that followed forgot Khubayb and his death. But Khubayb was never absent from the thoughts of Said, now approaching manhood. Said would see him in his dreams while asleep and he would picture Khubayb in front of him praying his two rakaats calm and contented, before the wooden cross. And he would hear the reverberation of Khubayb's voice as he prayed for the punishment of the Quraysh. He would become afraid that a thunderbolt from the sky or some calamity would strike him.
Khubayb, by his death, had taught Said what he did not realize before--that real life was faith and conviction and struggle in the path of faith, even until death. He taught him also that faith which is deeply ingrained in a person works wonders and performs miracles. He taught him something else too, that the man who is loved by his companions with such a love as Khubayb's could only be a prophet with Divine support.
Thus was Said's heart opened to Islam. He stood up in the assembly of the Quraysh and announced that he was Rex from their sins and burdens. He renounced their idols and their superstitions and proclaimed his entry into the religion of God.
Said ibn Aamir migrated to Madinah and attached himself to the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. He took part with the Prophet in the battle of Khaybar and other engagements thereafter. After the Prophet passed away to the protection of his Lord, Said continued active service under his two successors, Abu Bakr and Umar. He lived the unique and exemplary life of the believer who has purchased the Hereafter with this world. He sought the pleasure and blessings of God above selfish desires and bodily pleasures.
Both Abu Bakr an(l Umar knew Said well for his honesty and piety. They would listen to whatever he had to say and follow his advice. Said once came to Umar at the beginning of his caliphate and said.
"I advise you to fear God in dealing with people and do not fear people in your relationship with God. Let not your actions deviate from your words for the best of speech is that which it confirmed by action. Consider those who have been appointed over the affairs of Muslims, far and near. Like for them what you like for yourself and your family and dislike for them what you would dislike for yourself and your family. Surmount any obstacles to attain the truth and do not tear the criticisms of those who criticize in matters prescribed by God.
"Who can measure up to this, Said?" asked Umar. "A man like yourself from among those whom God has appointed over the affairs of the Ummah of Muhammad and who feels responsible to God alone," replied Said.
"Said," he said, "I appoint you to be governor of Homs (in Syria)." "Umar," pleaded Said, "I entreat you by God, do not cause me to go astray by making me concerned with worldly affairs."
Umar became angry and said, "You have placed the responsibility of the caliphate on me and now you forsake me." "By God. I shall not forsake you," Said quickly responded.
Umar appointed him as governor of Homs and offered him a gratuity. "What shall I do with it, O Amir al Mumineen?" asked Said. "The stipend from the have al-mal will be more than enough for my needs." With this, he proceeded to Homs.
Not long afterwards, a delegation from Homs made up of people in whom Umar had confidence came to visit him in Madinah. He requested them to write the names of the poor among them so he could relieve their needs. They prepared a list from him in which the name Said ibn Aamir appeared.
"Who is this Said ibn Aamir?" asked Umar
"Our amir" they replied.
"Your amir is poor?" said Umar, puzzled.
"Yes," they affirmed, "By God, several days go by without a fire being lit in his house."
Umar was greatly moved and wept. He got a thousand diners, put it in a purse and said, "Convey my greetings to him and tell him that the Amir al Mumineen has sent this money to help him look after his needs."
The delegation came to Said with the purse. When he found that it contained money, he began to push it away from him, saying, "From God we are and to Him we shall certainly return."
He said it in such a way as if some misfortune had descended on him. His alarmed wife hurried to him and asked, "What's the matter, Said? Has the Khalifah died~"
"Something greater than that."
"Have the Muslims been defeated in a battle?"
"Something greater than that. The world has come upon me to corrupt my hereafter and create disorder in my house. "
"Then get rid of it," said she, not knowing anything about the diners.
"Will you help me in this?" he asked.
She agreed. He took the diners, put them in bags and distributed them to the Muslim poor.
Not long afterwards, Umar ibn al-Khattab went to Syria to examine conditions there. When he arrived at Homs which was called little Kufah because, like Kufah, its inhabitants complained a lot about their leaders, he asked what they thought of their Amir. They complained about him mentioning four of his actions each one more serious than the other.
"I shall bring you and him together," Umar promised. "And I pray to God that my opinion about him would not be damaged. I used to have great confidence in him."
When the meeting was convened, Umar asked what complaints they had against him.
"He only comes out to us when the sun is already high," they said.
"What do you have to say to that, Said?" asked Umar.
Said was silent for a moment, then said, "By God, I really didn't want to say this but there seems to be no way out. My family does not have a home help so I get up every morning and prepare dough for bread. I wait a little until it rises and then bake for them. I then make wudu and go out to the people."
"What's your other complaint?" asked Umar.
"He does not answer anyone at night," they said.
To this Said reluctantly said, "By God, I really wouldn't have liked to disclose this also. but I have left the day for them and the night for God, Great and Sublime is He."
"And what's your other complaint about him?" asked Umar.
"He does not come out to us from one day in every month," they said.
To this Said replied, "I do not have a home help, O Amir al-Mumineen and I do not have any clothes except what's on me. This I wash once a month and I wait for it to dry. Then I go out in the later part of the day."
"Any other complaint about him?" asked Umar.
"From time to time, he blacks out in meetings," they said.
To this Said replied, "I witnessed the killing of Khubayb ibn Adiy when I was a mushrik. I saw the Quraysh cutting him and saying, "Would you like Muhammad to be in your place?" to which Khubayb replied, "I would not wish to be safe and secure among my family while a thorn hurts Muhammad." By God, whenever I remember that day and how I failed to come to his aid, I only think that God would not forgive me and I black out."
Thereupon Umar said, "Praise be to God. My impression of him has not been tainted." He later sent a thousand diners to Said to help him out. When his wife saw the amount she said. "Praise be to God Who has enriched us out of your service. Buy some provisions for us and get us a home help."
"Is there any way of spending it better?" asked Said. "Let us spend it on whoever comes to us and we would get something better for it by thus dedicating it to God." "That will be better," she agreed.
He put the diners into small bags and said to a member of his family, "Take this to the widow of so and so, and the orphans of that person, to the needy in that family and to the indigent of the family of that person."
Said ibn Aamir al-Jumahi was indeed one of those who deny themselves even when they are afflicted with severe poverty.
About twenty years before the start of the Prophet's mission, that is about the middle of the sixth century CE, an Arab named Sinan ibn Malik governed the city of al-Uballah on behalf of the Persian emperor. The city, which is now part of Basrah, lay on the banks of the Euphrates River. Sinan lived in a luxurious palace on the banks of the river. He had several children and was particularly fond of one of them who was then barely five years old. His name was Suhayb. He was blond and fair-complexioned. He was active and alert and gave much pleasure to his father.
One day Suhayb's mother took him and some members of her household to a village called ath-Thani for a picnic. What was to be a relaxing and enjoyable day turned out to be a terrifying experience that was to change the course of young Suhayb's life forever.
That day, the village of ath-Thani was attacked, by a raiding party of Byzantine soldiers. The guards accompanying the picnic party were overwhelmed and killed. Ali possessions were seized and a large number of persons were taken prisoner. Among these was Suhayb ibn Sinan.
Suhayb was taken to one of the slave markets of the Byzantine Empire, the capital of which was Constantinople, there to be sold. Thereafter he passed from the hands of one slave master to another. His fate was no different from thousands of other slaves who filled the houses, the palaces and castles of Byzantine rulers and aristocrats.
Suhayb spent his boyhood and his youth as a slave. For about twenty years he stayed in Byzantine lands. This gave him the opportunity to get a rare knowledge and understanding of Byzantine/ire and society. In the palaces of the aristocracy, he saw with his own eyes the injustices and the corruption of Byzantine life. He detested that society and later would say to himself:
"A society like this can only be purified by a deluge." Suhayb of course grew up speaking Greek, the language of the Byzantine Empire. He practically forgot Arabic. But he never forgot that he was a son of the desert. He longed for the day when he would be free again to join his people's folk. At the first opportunity Suhayb escaped from bondage and headed straight for Makkah which was a place of refuge or asylum. There people called him Suhayb "ar-Rumi" or "the Byzantine" because of his peculiarly heavy speech and his blond hair. He became the halif of one of the aristocrats of Makkah, Abdullah ibn Judan. He engaged in trade and prospered. In fact, he became quite rich.
One day he returned to Makkah from one of his trading journeys. He was told that Muhammad the son of Abdullah had begun calling people to believe in God alone, commanding them to be just and to do good works and prohibiting them from shameful and reprehensible deeds. He immediately enquired who Muhammad was and where he stayed. He was told.
"(He stays) in the house or' al-Arqam ibn Abi al-Arqam. Be careful however that no Quraysh sees you. If they see you they would do (the most terrible things to you). You are a stranger here and there is no bond of asabiyyahi to protect you, neither have you any clan to help you."
Suhayb went cautiously to the house of al-Arqam. At the door he found Ammar ibn Yasir the young son of a Yemeni father who was known to him. He hesitated for a moment then went up to Ammar and said: "What do you want (here), Ammar?" "Rather, what do you want here'?" countered Ammar. "I want to go to this man and hear directly from him what he is saying." "I also want to do that." "Then let us enter together, ala barakatillah (with the blessings of God)."
Suhayb and Ammar entered and listened to what Muhammad was saying. They were both readily convinced of the truth of his message. The light of faith entered their hearts. At this meeting, they pledged fealty to the Prophet. declaring that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. They spent the entire day in the company of the noble Prophet. At night, under cover of darkness, they left the house of al-Arqam, their hearts aglow with the light of faith and their faces beaming with happiness.
Then the familiar pattern of events followed. The idolatrous Quraysh learnt about Suhayb's acceptance of Islam and began harassing and persecuting him. Suhayb bore his share of the persecution in the same way as Bilal, Ammar and his mother Sumayyah, Khabbab and many others who professed Islam. The punishment was inhuman and severe but Suhayb bore it all with a patient and courageous heart because he knew that the path to Jannah is paved with thorns and difficulties. The teachings of the noble Prophet had instilled in him and other companions a rare strength and courage.
When the Prophet gave permission for his followers to migrate to Madinah, Suhayb resolved to go in the company of the Prophet and Abu Bakr. The Quraysh however found out about his intentions and foiled his plans. They placed guards over him to prevent him from leaving and taking with him the wealth, the gold and the silver, which he had acquired through trade.
After the departure of the Prophet and Abu Bakr, Suhayb continued to bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to join them. He remained unsuccessful. The eyes of his guards were ever alert and watchful. The only way out was to resort to a stratagem.
One cold night, Suhayb pretended he had some stomach problems and went out repeatedly as if responding to calls of nature. His captors said one to another:
"Don't worry. Al-Laat and al-Uzza are keeping him busy with his stomach."
They became relaxed and sleep got the better of them. Suhayb quietly slipped out as if he was going to the toilet. He armed himself, got ready a mount and headed in the direction of Madinah.
When his captors awoke, they realized with a start that Suhayb was gone. They got horses ready and set out in hot pursuit and eventually caught up with him. Seeing them approach, Suhayb clambered up a hill. Holding his bow and arrow at the ready, he shouted: "Men of Quraysh! You know, by God, that I am one of the best archers and my aim is unerring. By God, if you come near me, with each arrow I have, I shall kill one of you. Then I shall strike with my sword." A Quraysh spokesman responded: By God, we shall not let you escape from us with your life and money. You came to Makkah weak and poor and you have acquired what you have acquired.."
"What would you say if I leave you my wealth?" interrupted Suhayb. "Would you get out of my way?" "Yes," they agreed.
Suhayb described the place in his house in Makkah where he had left the money, and they allowed him to go.
He set off as quickly as he could for Madinah cherishing the prospect of being with the Prophet and of having the freedom to worship God in peace. On his way to Madinah, whenever he felt tired, the thought of meeting the Prophet sustained him and he proceeded with increased determination. When Suhayb reached Quba, just outside Madinah where the Prophet himself alighted after his Hijrah, the Prophet saw him approaching. He was over-joyed and greeted Suhayb with beaming smiles.
"Your transaction has been fruitful, O Abu Yahya. Your transaction has been fruitful." He repeated this three times. Suhayb's face beamed with happiness as he said: "By God, no one has come before me to you, Messenger of God, and only JibriI could have told you about this." Yes indeed! Suhayb's transaction was fruitful. Revelation from on high affirmed the truth of this:
"And there is a type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of God. And God is full of kindness to His servants." (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2:2O7).
What is money and what is gold and what is the entire world so long as faith remains! The Prophet loved Suhayb a great deal. He was commended by the Prophet and described as preceding the Byzantines to Islam. In addition to his piety and sobriety, Suhayb was also light-hearted at times and had a good sense of humor. One day the Prophet saw him eating dates. He noticed that Suhayb had an infection in one eye. The Prophet said to him laughingly: "Do you eat ripe dates while you have an infection in one eye?" "What's wrong?" replied Suhayb, "I am eating it with the other eye."
Suhayb was also known for his generosity. He used to give all his stipend from the public treasury fi sabilillah, to help the poor and those in distress. He was a good example of the Quranic verse: "He gives food for the love of God to the needy, the orphan and the captive." So generous was he that Umar once remarked:
"I have seen you giving out so much food that you appear to be too extravagant." Suhayb replied: "I have heard the Messenger of God say: 'The best of you is the one who gives out food.'"
Suhayb's piety and his standing among MusIims was so high that he was selected by Umar ibn al-Khattab to lead the Muslims in the period between his death and the choosing of his successor.
As he lay dying after he was stabbed by a Magian, Abu Lulu, while leading the Fajr Salat, Umar summoned six of the companions: Uthman, Ali, Talhah, Zubayr, Abdur Rahman ibn Awl, and Sad ibn Abi Waqqas. He did not appoint anyone of them as his successor, because if he had done so according to one report "there would have been for a short time two Khalifahs looking at each other". He instructed the six to consult among themselves and with the Muslims for three days and choose a successor, and then he said:
"Wa-l yusalli bi-n nas Suhayb - Let Suhayb lead the people in Salat."
In the period when there was no Khalifah, Suhayb was given the responsibility and the honor of leading the Salat and of being, in other words, the head of the Muslim community.
Suhayb's appointment by Umar showed how well people from a wide variety of backgrounds were integrated and honoured in the community of Islam. Once during the time of the Prophet, a hypocrite named Qays ibn Mutatiyah tried to pour scorn and disgrace on sections of the community. Qays had come upon a study circle (halqah) in which were Salman al-Farsi, Suhayb ar-Rumi and Bilal al-Habashi, may God be pleased with them, and remarked:
"The Aws and the Khazraj have stood up m defence of this man (Muhammad). And what are these people doing with him'?" Muadh was furious and informed the Prophet of what Qays had said. The Prophet was very angry. He entered the mosque and the Call to Prayer was given, for this was the method of summoning the Muslims for an important announcement. Then he stood up, praised and glorified God and said:
"Your Lord is One. Your ancestor is one. Your religion is one. Take heed. Arabism is not conferred on you through your mother or father. It is through the tongue (i.e. the language of Arabic), so whoever speaks Arabic, he is an Arab."
Thabit ibn Qays was a chieftain of the Khazraj and therefore a man of considerable influence in Yathrib. He was known for the sharpness of his mind and the power of his oratory. It was because of this that he became the khatib or the spokesman and orator of the Prophet and Islam.
He became a Muslim at the hands of Musab ibn Umayr whose cool and persuasive logic and the sweetness and beauty of his Quran recital proved irresistible.
When the Prophet arrived in Madinah after the historic Hijrah, Thabit and a great gathering of horsemen gave him a warm and enthusiastic welcome. Thabit acted as their spokesman and delivered a speech in the presence of the Prophet and his companion, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. He began by giving praise to God Almighty and invoking peace and blessings on His Prophet and ended up by saying:
"We give our pledge to you, O Messenger of God, that we would protect you from all that we protect ourselves, our children and our wives. What would then be our reward for this?"
The speech was reminiscent of words spoken at the second Pledge of Aqabah and the Prophet's reply as then was the same: "Al-Jannah - Paradise!"
When the Yathribites heard the word "al-Jannah" their faces beamed with happiness and excitement and their response was: "We are pleased, O Messenger of God! We are pleased, O Messenger of God ."
From that day on the Prophet, peace be on him, made Thabit ibn Qays his Khatib, just as Hassan ibn Thabit was his poet. When delegations of Arabs came to him to show off their brilliance in verse and the strength of their oratory skills which the Arabs took great pride in, the Prophet would call upon Thabit ibn Qays to challenge their orators and Hassan ibn Thabit to vaunt his verses before their poets.
In the Year of the Delegations, the ninth after the Hijrah, tribes from all over the Arabian peninsula came to Madinah to pay homage to the Prophet, either to announce their acceptance of Islam or to pay jizyah in return for the protection of the Muslim state. One of these was a delegation from the tribe of Tamim who said to the Prophet:
"We have come to show our prowess to you. Do give permission to our Shaif and our Khatib to speak." The Prophet, peace be on him, smiled and said: "I permit your Khatib. Let him speak."
Their orator, Utarid ibn Hajib, got up and held forth on the greatness and achievements of their tribe and when he was finished the Prophet summoned Thabit ibn Qays and said: "Stand and reply to him." Thabit arose and said:
"Praise be to God Whose creation is the entire heavens and the earth wherein His will has been made manifest. His Throne is the extent of His knowledge and there is nothing which does not exist through His grace.
"Through His power He has made us leaders and from the best of His creation He has chosen a Messenger who is the most honorable of men in lineage, the most reliable and true in speech and the most excellent in deeds. He has revealed to him a book and chosen him as a leader of His creation. Among all creation, he is a blessing of God.
"He summoned people to have faith in Him. The Emigrants from among his people and his relations who are the most honorable people in esteem and the best in deeds believed in him. Then, we the Ansar (Helpers) were the first people to respond (to his call for support). So we are the Helpers of God and the ministers of His Messenger."
Thabit was a believer with a profound faith in God. His consciousness and fear of God was true and strong. He was especially sensitive and cautious of saying or doing anything that would incur the wrath of God Almighty. One day the Prophet saw him looking not just sad but dejected and afraid. His shoulders were haunched and he was actually cringing from fear.
"What's wrong with you, O Abu Muhammad?" asked the Prophet. "I fear that I might be destroyed, O Messenger of God," he said. "And why?" asked the Prophet. "God Almighty," he said, "has prohibited us from desiring to be praised for what we did not do but I find myself liking praise. He has prohibited us from being proud and I find myself tending towards vanity." This was the time when the verse of the Quran was revealed: "Indeed, God does not love any arrogant boaster."
The Prophet, peace be on him, then tried to calm his anxieties and allay his fears and eventually said to him: "O Thabit, aren't you pleased to live as someone who is praised, and to die as a martyr and to enter Paradise?"
Thabit's face beamed with happiness and joy as he said: "Certainly, O Messenger of God." "Indeed, that shall be yours," replied the noble Prophet.
There was another occasion when Thabit became sad and crest-fallen, when the words of the Quran were revealed:
"O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet and neither speak loudly to him as you would speak loudly to one another, lest all your deeds come to naught without your perceiving it."
On hearing these words, Qays kept away from the meetings and gatherings of the Prophet in spite of his great love for him and his hitherto constant presence in his company. He stayed in his house a/most without ever leaving it except for the performance of the obligatory Salat. The Prophet missed his presence and evidently asked for information about him. A man from the Ansar volunteered and went to Thabit's house. He found Thabit sitting in his house, sad and dejected, with his head bowed low.
"What's the matter with you?" asked the man. "It's bad," replied Thabit. "You know that I am a man with a loud voice and that my voice is far louder than that of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. And you know what has been revealed in the Quran. The only result for me is that my deeds will come to naught and I will be among the people who go to the fire of hell."
The man returned to the Prophet and told him what he had seen and heard and the Prophet instructed him to return to Thabit and say: "You are not among the people who will go to the fire of hell but you will be among the people of Paradise."
Such was the tremendously good news with which Thabit ibn Qays was blessed. The incidents showed how alive and sensitive he was to the Prophet and the commands of Islam and his readiness to observe the letter and the spirit of its laws. He subjected himself to the most stringent self-criticism. His was a God-fearing and penitent heart which trembled and shook through the fear of God.
Umayr ibn Wahb al-Jumahi returned safely from the Battle of Badr. His son, Wahb, was left behind, a prisoner in the hands of the Muslims. Umar feared that the Muslims would punish the youth severely because of the persecution he himself had meted out to the Prophet and the torture he had inflicted on his companions.
One morning Umayr went to the Sacred Mosque to make tawaf around the Kabah and worship his idols. He found Safwan ibn Umayyah sitting near the Kabah, went up to him and said:
Im Sabahan (Good Morning), Quraysh chieftain."
"Im Sabahan, Ibn Wahb," replied Safwan. "Let us talk for some time. Time only goes by with conversation."
Umayr sat next to him. The two men began to recall Badr, the great defeat they had suffered and they counted the prisoners who had fallen into the hands of Muhammad and his companions. They became deeply distressed at the number of great Quraysh men who had been killed by the swords of the Muslims and who lay buried in the mass grave at al-Qalib in Badr.
Safwan ibn Umayyah shook his head and sighed, "By God, there can be no better after them."
"You are right," declared Umar. He remained silent for a while and then said, "By the God of the Kabah, if I had no debts and no family whose loss I fear after me, I would go to Muhammad and kill him, finish off his mission and check his evil." He went on in a faint, subdued voice, "And as my son Wahb is among them, my going to Yathrib would be beyond doubt."
Safwan ibn Umayyah listened intently to the words of Umayr and did not wish this opportunity to pass. He turned to him and said:
"Umar, place all your debt in my hands and I will discharge it for you whatever the amount. As for your family, I shall take them as my own family and give them whatever they need. I have enough wealth to guarantee them a comfortable living."
"Agreed," said Umar. "But keep this conversation of ours secret and do not divulge any of it to anyone."
"That shall be so," said Safwan.
Umar left the Masjid al-Haram with the fire of hatred against Muhammad blazing in his heart. He began to count what he needed for the task he had set himself. He knew that he had the full support and confidence of the Quraysh who had members of their families held prisoner in Madinah .
Umar had his sword sharpened and coated with poison. His camel was prepared and brought to him. He mounted the beast and rode in the direction of Madinah with evil in his heart.
Umar reached Madinah and went directly towards the mosque looking for the Prophet. Near the door of the mosque, he alighted and tethered his camel.
At that time, Umar was sitting with some of the Sahabah near the door of the Mosque, reminiscing about Badr, the number of prisoners that had been taken and the number of Quraysh killed. They also recalled the acts of heroism shown by the Muslims, both the Muhajirun and the Ansar and gave thanks to God for the great victory He had given them.
At that very moment Umar turned around and saw Umayr ibn Wahb alighting from his camel and going towards the Mosque brandishing his sword. Alarmed, he jumped up and shouted. "This is the dog, the enemy of God, Umayr ibn Wahb. By God, he has only come to do evil. He led the Mushrikeen against us in Makkah and he was a spy for them against us shortly before Badr. Go to the Messenger of God, stand around him and warn him that this dirty traitor is after him."
Umar himself hastened to the Prophet and said, "O Rasulullah, this enemy of God, Umayr ibn Wahb, has come brandishing his sword and I think that he could only be up to something evil." "Let him come in," said the Prophet.
Umar approached Umayr, took hold of him by the tails of his robes, pressed the back of his sword against his neck and took him to the Prophet.
When the Prophet saw Umayr in this condition he said to Umar: "Release him.' He then turned to Umayr and said: "Come closer." Umayr came closer and said, "Im Sabaha" (the Arab greeting in the days of Jahiliyyah)."
"God has granted us a greeting better than this, Umayr," said the Prophet. "God has granted us the greeting of Peace--it is the greeting of the people of Paradise." "What have you come for?" continued the Prophet.
"I came here hoping to have the prisoner in your hands released, so please oblige me." "And what is this sword around your neck for?" quizzed the Prophet. "Tell me the truth. What have you come for, Umayr?" prodded the Prophet. "I have only come to have the prisoner released," insisted Umar.
"No. You and Safwan ibn Umayyah sat near the Kabah recalling your companions who lie buried at al-Qalib and then you said, 'If I had no debt or no family to look after, I would certainly go out to kill Muhammad.' Safwan took over your debt and promised to look after your family in return for your agreeing to kill me. But God is a barrier between you and your achieving your aim."
Umar stood stupefied nor a moment, then said: "I bear witness that you are the messenger of God." "We used, O messenger of' God." he continued, "to reject whatever good you had brought and whatever revelation came to you. But my conversation with Safwan ibn Umayyah was not known to anyone else. By God, I am certain that only God could have made this known to you. Praise be to God Who has led me to you that He may guide me to Islam.' He then testified that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah and became a Muslim. Thereupon, the Prophet instructed his companions: "instruct your brother in his religion. Teach him the Quran and set free his prisoner."
The Muslims were extremely happy with Umayr's acceptance of Islam. Even Umar who once said of him, "A pig is certainly dearer to me than Umayr ibn Wahb" came up to the Prophet and exclaimed "Today, he is dearer to me than some of my own children."
Thereafter Umayr spent much time increasing his knowledge of Islam and filling his heart with the light of the Quran. There, in Madinah, he spent the sweetest and richest days of his life away from what he had known in Makkah .
Back in Makkah, Safwan was filled with hope and would say to the Quraysh, "I will soon give you some great news that would make you forget the events of Badr." Safwan waited for a long time and then gradually became more and more anxious. Greatly agitated, he would go out and ask travelers what news they had of Umayr ibn Wahb but no one was able to give him a satisfactory reply. Eventually a rider came and said "Umar has become a Muslim."
The news hit Safwan like a thunderbolt. He was certain that Umayr would never become a Muslim and if he ever did then everyone on the face of the earth would become Muslim also. "Never shall I speak to him and never shall I do anything for him," he said.
Umar meanwhile kept on striving to gain a good understanding of his religion and memorize whatever he could of the words of God. When he felt he had achieved a certain degree of confidence, he went to the Prophet and said:
"O Rasulullah, much time has passed since I used to try to put out the light of God and severely tortured whoever was on the path of Islam. Now, I desire that you should give me permission to go to Makkah and invite the Quraysh to God and His Messenger. If they accept it from me, that will be good. And if they oppose me, I shall harass them as I used to harass the companions of the Prophet."
The Prophet gave his consent and Umayr left for Makkah. He went straight to the house of Safwan ibn Umayyah and said: "Safwan, you are one of the chieftains of Makkah and one of the most intelligent of the Quraysh. Do you really think that these stones you are worship ping and making sacrifice to, deserve to be the basis of a religion? As for myself, I declare that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." At Umayr's hands, many Makkans became Muslims, but Safwan did not.
Later, during the liberation of Makkah, Safwan ibn Umayyah attempted to flee from the Muslim forces. Umar, however, obtained an amnesty from the Prophet for him and he too became a Muslim and distinguished himself in the service of Islam.
After a long and exhausting journey, the Prophet, peace be on him, is at last on the outskirts of Yathrib. The good people of the city go out to meet him. Many crowd the narrow streets. Some stand on roof-tops chanting La ilaha ilia Allah and Allahu Akbar in sheer joy at meeting the Prophet of Mercy and his loyal companion, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. The small girls of the city come out gaily beating their daffs and singing the words of welcome:
Tala 'a-l badru alaynaa
Min Thaniyaati-l Wadaa' Wajaba-sh shukru alaynaa
Maa da'aa lillaahi daa' Ayyuha-l mab 'uthu finaa
Ji'ta bi-l amri-l mutaa' Ji'ta sharrafta-l Madinah
Marhaban yaa khayra-d daa'.
"The full moon has come upon us. From beyond the hills of Thaniyaati-l Wadaa Grateful we must be. For what to God he calls? O you who has been sent among us? You came with a mission to be obeyed. You came, you honoured the city; Welcome, O best of those who call (to God).
As the procession of the blessed Prophet wended its way, all around there were joyful hearts, tears of ecstasy, smiles of sheer happiness.
Far away from these scenes of jubilation and delight was a young man named Uqbah ibn Aamir al-Juhani. He had gone out to the bawadi, the open expanses of desert, to graze his flocks of sheep and goats on the sparse vegetation. He had wandered far in search of fodder for his hungry flock. It was difficult to find suitable grazing grounds and he was constantly afraid that his flock would perish. They were all he possessed and he did not want to lose them.
The happiness which engulfed Yathrib, henceforth to be known as the radiant city of the Prophet, soon spread to the near and distant bawadi and reached every nook and corner of the land. The good news of the Prophet's arrival finally reached Uqbah as he tended his flocks far away in the inhospitable desert. His response to the news was immediate as he himself relates: "The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, came to Madinah while I was tending my sheep. When I heard the news of his coming, I set out to meet him without delay. When I met him I asked:
'Will you accept my pledge of allegiance, O Messenger of God?' 'And who are you?' asked the Prophet. 'Uqbah ibn Aamir al-Juhani ,' I replied. 'Which do you prefer,' he asked, 'the pledge of a nomad or the pledge of someone who has migrated?' 'The pledge of someone who has migrated,' I said. So the Messenger of God took the same pledge from me as he did from the Muhajirin. I spent the night with him and then went back to my flock.
There were twelve of us who had accepted Islam but we lived far from the city tending our sheep and goats in the open country. We came to the conclusion that it would be good for us if we went to the Prophet daily, so that he could instruct us in our religion and recite for us whatever revelation he had received from on high. I told the others:
'Take turns to go to the Messenger of God, peace be on him. Anyone going may leave his sheep with me because I am too worried and concerned about my own flock to leave them in the care of someone else.'
Each day, one after another of my friends went to the Prophet, leaving his sheep for me to look after. When each returned, I learnt from him what he had heard and benefitted from what he had understood. Before long, however, I returned to my senses and said to myself:
'Woe to you! Is it because of a flock of sheep that you remain thin and wretched and lose the opportunity to be in the company of the Prophet and to speak directly to him without an intermediary':' With this, I left my flock, went to Madinah and stayed in the masjid close to the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace."
Uqbah had no reason to regret having taken this fateful decision. Within a decade, he had become one of the outstanding scholars among the companions of the Prophet, a competent and beautiful reciter of the Quran, a military commander and later on one of the eminent Muslim governors as Islam spread east and west with astonishing rapidity. He could never have imagined as he left his flock to follow the teachings of the noble Prophet, that he would have been among the vanguard of the Muslim forces that liberated fertile Damascus - then known as the "mother of the universe" and that he would have a house for himself among its verdant gardens. He could never have imagined that he would be one of the commanders who liberated Egypt, then known as the "emerald of the world", and that he would be one of its governors.
The fateful decision however was taken. Alone, without possessions. or relatives, Uqbah came to Madinah from the hawadi. He stayed with others like him on the Suffah or elevated part of the Prophet's mosque, near his house. The Suffah was like a reception point where people like Uqbah would go because they wanted to be close to the Prophet. They were known as the "Ashab as-Suffah" and the Prophet once described them as the "guests of Islam".
Because they had no income, the Prophet always shared his food with them and encouraged others to be generous to these "guests". They spent much of their time studying the Quran and learning about Islam. What a marvellous opportunity they had! They were in close and regular contact with the Prophet. He had a special love and concern for them and took care to educate them and look after them in all respects. Uqbah gave an example of how the Prophet trained and taught them. He said:
"One day, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to us while we were on the Suffah and asked:
'Which of you would like to go out to the open country or a valley every day and fetch for himself two beautiful, black camels?' (Such camels were considered prize possessions. )
'Everyone of us would like that, O Messenger of God,' we all replied.
'Now,' he said, 'each one of you should go to the mosque and learn two ayats (verses) of the Book of God. This is better for him than two camels; three verses are better than three camels; four verses are better than four camels (and son)."
In this way, the Prophet tried to bring about a change in attitudes among those who had accepted Islam, a change from obsession with acquiring worldly possessions to an attitude of devotion to knowledge. His simple example provided them with motivation and a powerful incentive to acquire knowledge.
On other occasions, the Ashab as-Suffah would ask questions of the Prophet in order to understand their religion better. Once, Uqbah said, he asked the Prophet, "What is salvation?" and he replied: "Control your tongue, make your house spacious for guests and spurn your mistakes."
Even outside the mosque, Uqbah tried to stay close to the Prophet. On journeys, he often took the reins of the Prophet's mule and went wherever the Prophet desired. Sometimes he followed directly behind the Prophet, peace be on him, and so came to be called the redif of the Prophet. On some occasions, the Prophet would descend from his mount and allow Uqbah to ride while he himself walked. Uqbah described one such occasion:
"I took hold of the reins of the Prophet's mule while passing through some palm groves of Madinah.
'Uqbah ,' the Prophet said to me, 'don't you want to ride.'?'
I thought of saying 'no' but I felt there might be an element of disobedience to the Prophet in such a reply so I said: 'Yes, O Prophet of God.'
The Prophet then got down from his mule and I mounted in obedience to his command. He began to walk. Shortly afterwards I dismounted. The Prophet mounted again and said to me:
'Uqbah, shall I not teach you two surahs the like of which has not been heard before.'?'
'Certainly, O Messenger of God,' I replied. And so he recited to me "Qul a'udhu bi rabbi-l Falaq" and "Qul a'udhu bi rabbi-n nas" (the last two surahs of the Quran). I then said the Iqamah for Salat. The Prophet led the Salat and recited these two surahs. (Afterwards), he said: 'Read both these surahs when you go to sleep and whenever you wake up.'"
The above instances show "continuous education" at its best, at home, in the mosque, riding, walking in the open school of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Two objectives occupied Uqbah's attention throughout his life; the search for knowledge and jihad in the path of God. He applied his energies totally to these objectives.
In the field of learning, he drank deeply from the fountain of knowledge that was the Messenger of God, peace be on him. Uqbah became a distinguished muqri (reciter of the Quran), a muhaddith (recorder and narrator of the sayings of the Prophet); a faqih (jurist); a faradi (expert on the Islamic laws of inheritance); an adib (literateur); a fasih (orator) and a sha'ir (poet).
In reciting the Quran, he had a most pleasant and beautiful voice. In the stillness of the night, when the entire universe seems peaceful and tranquil, he would turn to the Book of God, and recite its overpowering verses. The hearts of the noble companions would be drawn to his recitation. Their whole being would be shaken and they would be moved to tears from the fear of God which his recitation induced.
One day Umar ibn al-Khattab invited him and said:
"Recite for me something from the Book of God, O Uqbah." "At your command, O Amir al-Muminin," said Uqbah and began reciting. Umar wept till his beard was wet.
Uqbah left a copy of the Quran written in his own hand. It is said that this copy of the Quran existed until quite recently in Egypt in the well-known mosque named after Uqbah ibn Aamir himself. At the end of this text was written: "Uqbah ibn Aamir al-Juhani wrote it." This Mushaf of Uqbah was one of the earliest copies of the Quran in existence but it was lost in its entirety with other priceless documents due to the carelessness of Muslims.
In the field of Jihad, it is sufficient to know that Uqbah fought beside the Prophet, peace be on him, at the Battle of Uhud and in all the military engagements thereafter. He was also one of the valiant and daring group of shock troopers who were tested to their maximum during the battle for Damascus. In recognition for his outstanding services, the commander of the Muslim forces then, Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, despatched Uqbah to Madinah to convey the good news of the liberation of Damascus to Umar ibn al-Khattab. Uqbah spent eight days and seven nights, from Friday to Friday, in a continuous forced march to bring the news to Umar.
Uqbah was one of the commanders of the Muslim forces that liberated Egypt. For three years he was the Muslim governor of Egypt after which he received orders from the Caliph Muawiyah to mount a naval expedition to the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea.
An indication of Uqbah's enthusiasm for jihad is the fact that he committed to memory the sayings of the Prophet on this subject and became a specialist in narrating them to the Muslims. One of his favorite pastimes was to practice the skill of spear throwing.
Uqbah was in Egypt when he became fatally ill. He gathered his children together and gave them his final advise. He said: "My children, guard against three things: Don't accept; my saying attributed to the Prophet, peace be on him, except from a reliable authority. Do not incur debts or take up a loan even if you are in the position of an imam. Don't compose poetry for your hearts might be distracted thereby from the Quran."
Uqbah ibn Aamir al-Juhani, the qari, the alim, the ghazi, died in Cairo and was buried at the foot of the Muqattam hills.
We are in the second year of the Hijrah. Madinah the city of the Prophet is buzzing with activity as the Muslims prepare for the long march southwards to Badr.
The noble Prophet made a final inspection of the first army to be mobilized under his leadership to wage Jihad against those who had tormented the Muslims for many years and who were still bent on putting an end to his mission.
A youth, not yet thirteen, walked up to the ranks. He was confident and alert. He held a sword which was as long or possibly slightly longer than his own height. He went up to the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, and said: "I dedicate myself to you, Messenger of God. Permit me to be with you and to fight the enemies of God under your banner."
The noble Prophet looked at him with admiration and patted his shoulder with loving tenderness. He commended him for his courage but refused to enlist him because he was still too young.
The youth, Zayd ibn Thabit, turned and walked away, dejected and sad. As he walked, in slow and measured paces, he stuck his sword in the ground as a sign of his disappointment. He was denied the honor of accompanying the Prophet on his first campaign. Behind him was his mother, an-Nawar bint Malik. She felt equally dejected and sad. She had dearly wished to see her young son go with the army of mujahidin and to be with the Prophet at this most critical time.
One year later, as preparations were underway for the second encounter with the Quraysh which took place at Uhud, a group of Muslim teenagers bearing arms of various kinds - swords, spears, bows and arrows and shields - approached the Prophet. They were seeking to be enlisted in any capacity in the Muslim ranks. Some of them, like Rafi ibn Khadij and Samurah ibn Jundub, who were strong and well-built for their age and who demonstrated their ability to wrestle and handle weapons, were granted permission by the Prophet to join the Muslim forces. Others like Abdullah the son of Umar and Zayd ibn Thabit were still considered by the Prophet to be too young and immature to fight. He promised though to consider them for a later campaign. It was only at the Battle of the Ditch when Zayd was about sixteen years old that he was at last allowed to bear arms in defence of the Muslim community.
Although Zayd was keen to participate in battles, it is not as a warrior that he is remembered. After his rejection for the Badr campaign, he accepted the fact then that he was too young to fight in major battles. His alert mind turned to other fields of service, which had no connection with age and which could bring him closer to the Prophet, peace be on him. He considered the field of knowledge and in particular of memorizing the Quran. He mentioned the idea to his mother. She was delighted and immediately made attempts to have his ambition realized. An-Nuwar spoke to some men of the Ansar about the youth's desire and they in turn broached the matter with the Prophet, saying: "O Messenger of Allah, our son Zayd ibn Thabit has memorized seventeen surahs of the Book of Allah and recites them as correctly as they were revealed to you. In addition to that he is good at reading and writing. It is in this field of service that he desires to be close to you. Listen to him if you will."
The Prophet, peace be on him, listened to Zayd reciting some surahs he had memorized. His recitation was clear and beautiful and his stops and pauses indicated clearly that he understood well what he recited. The Prophet was pleased. Indeed he found that Zayd's ability exceeded the commendation he had been given by his relatives. The Prophet then set him a task which required intelligence, skill and persistence.
"Zayd, learn the writing of the Jews for me," instructed the Prophet. "At your command, Messenger of Allah," replied Zayd who set about learning Hebrew with enthusiasm. He became quite proficient in the language and wrote it for the Prophet when he wanted to communicate with the Jews. Zayd also read and translated from Hebrew when the Jews wrote to the Prophet. The Prophet instructed him to learn Syriac also and this he did. Zayd thus came to perform the important function of an interpreter for the Prophet in his dealings with non-Arabic speaking peoples.
Zayd's enthusiasm and skill were obvious. When the Prophet felt confident of his faithfulness in the discharge of duties and the care, precision and understanding with which he carried out tasks, he entrusted Zayd with the weighty responsibility of recording the Divine revelation.
When any part of the Quran was revealed to the Prophet, he often sent for Zayd and instructed him to bring the writing materials, "the parchment, the ink-pot and the scapula", and write the revelation.
Zayd was not the only one who acted as a scribe for the Prophet. One source has listed forty-eight persons who used to write for him. Zayd was very prominent among them. He did not only write but during the Prophet's time he collected portions of the Quran that were written down by others and arranged these under the supervision of the Prophet. He is reported to have said:
"We used to compile the Quran from small manuscripts in the presence of the Prophet." In this way, Zayd experienced the Quran directly from the Prophet himself. It could be said that he grew up with the verses of the Quran, understanding well the circumstances surrounding each revelation. He thus became well-versed in the secrets of the Shariah and at an early age gained the well-deserved reputation as a leading scholar among the companions of the Prophet.
After the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, the task fell on this fortunate young man who specialized in the Quran to authenticate the first and most important reference for the ummah of Muhammad. This became an urgent task after the wars of apostasy and the Battle of Yamamah in particular in which a large number of those who had committed the Quran to memory perished.
Umar convinced the Khalifah Abu Bakr that unless the Quran was collected in one manuscript, a large part of it was in danger of being lost. Abu Bakr summoned Zayd ibn Thabit and said to him: "You are an intelligent young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness) and you used to write the Divine revelation for Allah's Messenger. Therefore look for (all parts of) the Quran and collect it in one manuscript."
Zayd was immediately aware of the weighty responsibility. He later said: "By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains from its place, it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Quran."
Zayd finally accepted the task and, according to him, "started locating the Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart)".
It was a painstaking task and Zayd was careful that not a single error, however slight or unintentional, should creep into the work. When Zayd had completed his task, he left the prepared suhuf or sheets with Abu Bakr. Before he died, Abu Bakr left the suhuf with Umar who in turn left it with his daughter Hafsah. Hafsah, Umm Salamah and Aishah were wives of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them, who memorized the Quran.
During the time of Uthman, by which time Islam had spread far and wide, differences in reading the Quran became obvious. A group of companions of the Prophet, headed by Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman, who was then stationed in Iraq, came to Uthman and urged him to "save the Muslim ummah before they differ about the Quran".
Uthman obtained the manuscript of the Quran from Hafsah and again summoned the leading authority, Zayd ibn Thabit, and some other competent companions to make accurate copies of it. Zayd was put in charge of the operation. He completed the task with the same meticulousness with which he compiled the original suhuf during the time of Abu Bakr.
Zayd and his assistants wrote many copies. One of these Uthman sent to every Muslim province with the order that all other Quranic materials whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies be burnt. This was important in order to eliminate any variations or differences from the standard text of the Quran. Uthman kept a copy for himself and returned the original manuscript to Hafsah.
Zayd ibn Thabit thus became one of the foremost authorities on the Quran. Umar ibn al-Khattab once addressed the Muslims and said: "O people, whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Zayd ibn Thabit."
And so it was that seekers of knowledge from among the companions of the Prophet and the generation who succeeded them, known as the "Tabiun", came from far and wide to benefit from his knowledge. When Zayd died, Abu Hurayrah said: "Today, the scholar of this ummah has died."
When a Muslim holds the Quran and reads it or hears it being recited, surah after surah, ayah after ayah, he should know that he owes a tremendous debt of gratitude and recognition to a truly great companion of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit, for helping to preserve for all time to come the Book of Eternal Wisdom. Truly did Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, say: "Surely We have revealed the Book of Remembrance and We shall certainly preserve it." (The Quran, Surah al-Hijr, 15:9)
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