Luqman the Wise
Once stayed with Abu Ad-Darda’, under the same roof, and as Abu Ad-Darda’ used to pray all night and fast all day, Salman Al-Farisi blamed him for this excessive worship. One day, Salman wanted to stop him from fasting and to say it was supererogatory.
Abu Ad-Darda’ asked him, “Would you prevent me from fasting for my Lord and from praying to Him?” Salman Salman Al-Farisi replied, “No, your eyes have a claim upon you, your family has a claim upon you, so fast intermittently, then pray and sleep.”
This reached the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said, “Salman is, indeed, full of knowledge.” The Prophet was often impressed by his wisdom and knowledge, just as he was impressed by his character and religion.
On the Day of Al-khandaq the Ansar stood up and said, “Salman is of us,” the Muhajirun (the emmigrants) stood up also and said, “Salman is of us.” The Prophet called to them saying, “Salman is of us, O People of the House (Prophet’s house).”
Indeed, he deserved this honor! `Ali ibn Abi Talib , (May Allah honor his face) nicknamed him “Luqman the Wise”. He was asked about after his death: “There was a man who was of the People of the House. Who among you is like Luqman the Wise? He was a man of knowledge who absorbed all the scriptures of the People of the Book. He was like a sea that was never exhausted!”
He was held in the minds of Prophet’s Companions with all highest regards and in the greatest position and respect. During the Caliphate of `Umar, he came to Al-Madinah on a visit and `Umar accorded him what he had never accorded to anyone before when he assembled his Companions and said,
“Come, let us go out and welcome Salman!” They received him at the border of Al-Madinah. Salman had lived with the Prophet ever since he met him, and believed in him as a free Muslim, and worshiped with him. He lived during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them), in whose era he met his Lord.
In most of these years, the banner of Islam spread everywhere, and the treasures of Islam were carried to Al Madinah in floods and distributed to the people in the form of regular allowance and fixed salaries. The responsibilities of ruling increased on all fronts, as well as duties and the overwhelming burden of holding official posts.
So where did Salman Al-Farisistand in this respect? Where do we see him in the time of splendor, plenty, and enjoyment?
Open wide your eyes. Do you see that humble man sitting there in the shade making baskets and utensils out of palm fronds? That is Salman Al-Farisi.
Take a good look at him. Look at his short garment, which is so short that it is only down to his knees. That was him in grand old age. His grant was 4,000 to 6,000 dirhams a year, but he distributed all of it, refusing to take a dirham of it, and he used to say,
“I would buy palm fronds with one dirham to work on and then sell it for three dirhams. I retained one dirham of it as capital, spent one dirham on my family, and gave away one dirham, and if `Umar ibn Al-Khattab prevented me from that, I would not stop.”
What next, O followers of Muhammad? What next, O noblest of mankind in all ages?
Some of us used to think, whenever we heard the conduct of the Companions and their piety – for example, Abu Bakr, `Umar, Abu Dharr and their brethren – that it was based on the life of the Arabian Peninsula, where the Arabs find pleasure in simplicity.
And here we are before a man from Persia, the land of pleasure, luxury, and civilization, and he was not of the poor but of its upper class. What about him now refusing property, wealth, and enjoyment, and insisting that he live on one dirham a day from the work of his hands?
How about his refusing leadership and position except for something relating to jihad and only if none but he were suitable for it, and it was forced upon him, and he accepted it weeping and shy?
How about when he accepted leadership which was forced upon him but he refused to take his lawful dues? Hisham ibn Hasan relates from Al-Hassan: The allowance of Salman Al-Farisi was 5,000. He lived among 30,000 people and used to dress in a garment cut into halves. He wore one and sat on the other half. Whenever his allowance was due him, he distributed it to the needy and lived on the earnings of his hands!
Why do you think he was doing all this work and worshiping with all this devotion, and yet he was a Persian child of luxury, the upbringing of civilization? You can hear the reply from him. While he was on his deathbed, the great spirit mounting forth to meet his Lord, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas went to greet him, and Salman wept! Sa`d said, “What makes you weep, O Abu `Abdullah? The Prophet of Allah died pleased with you!” Salman replied,
“By Allah, I am not weeping in fear of death, nor for love of the world. But the Prophet of Allah put me on an oath. He said, “Let any of you have in this world like the provision of the traveler,” and here I have owned many things around me.”
Sa`d said: “I looked around, and I saw nothing but a water-pot and vessel to eat in! Then I said to him, “O Abu `Abdullah, give us a parting word of advice for us to follow.” He said, “O Sa`d, remember Allah for your cares, if you have any”.
“Remember Allah in your judgment, if you judge. Remember Allah when you distribute the share.”
This was the man who filled his spirit with riches just as it filled him with renunciation of the pleasures of this world, its riches, and pride. The oath which he and the rest of the Companions had taken before the Prophet of Allah was that they must not let the world possess them and that they should take nothing from it but the provision of the traveler in his bag.
Salman Al-Farisi had kept the oath, yet still his tears ran when he saw his soul preparing for departure, fearing that he had gone beyond the limits. There was nothing around him except a vessel to eat in and a water-pot and yet still he considered himself lavish! Did I not tell you that he was the nearest in resemblance to `Umar?
During the days of his rule over the Madinah area, he never changed his way. He had refused, as we have seen, to receive his salary as a ruler, but went on making baskets to earn his living. His dress was no more than a gown, resembling his old clothes in simplicity.
One day while on the road, he met a man arriving from Syria, carrying a load of figs and dates. The load was too heavy for him and made him weary. No sooner did the Syrian see the man in front of him, who appeared to be one of the common people and poor than he thought of putting the load on his shoulders and when he reached his destination he would give him something for his labor. So he beckoned to the man (Salman, the governor), and he came up to him.
The Syrian said to him, “Relieve me of this load.” He carried it, and they walked together.
While on their way, they met a group of people. He greeted them and they stood up in obeisance, replying, “And unto the governor be peace!” “Who is the governor?” The Syrian asked himself. His surprise increased when he saw some of them rushing towards Salman to take the load off his shoulders. “Let us carry it, O governor.” When the Syrian knew that he was the governor of Al Madinah, he was astonished.
Words of apology and regret fell from his lips, and he went forward to grab the load. But Salman shook his head in refusal, saying, “No, not until I take you to your destination.”
He was asked one day, “What troubles you in the leadership?” He replied, “The pleasure of nurturing it and the bitterness of meaning!”
A friend of his came to him one day at his house and found him kneading dough. He asked him, “Where is your servant?” He replied, “We have sent her on an errand and we hate to charge her with two duties.”
When we say “his house” let us remember what kind of house it was. When Salman Al-Farisi thought of building it, he asked the mason, “How are you going to build it?” The mason was courteous and yet witty.
He knew the piety and devotion of Salman, so he replied to him saying “Fear not. It is a house for you to protect yourself against the heat of the sun and dwell in the cold weather. When you stand erect in it, it touches your head.” Salman said to him, “Yes, that is it, so go on and build it.”
There was nothing of the goods of this world which could attract Salman for a moment, nor did they leave any traces in his heart except one thing, which he was particularly mindful of and had entrusted to his wife, requesting her to keep it far away in a safe place.
In his last sickness, and in the morning on which he gave up his soul, he called her, “Bring me the trust which I left in safe keeping!” She brought it and behold, it was a bottle of musk. He had gained it on the day of liberating the city of Jalwala’ and kept it to be his perfume on the day of his death. Then he called for a pot of water, sprinkled the musk into it, stirred it with his hand and then said to his wife, “Sprinkle it on me, for there will now come to me creatures from the creatures of Allah. They do not eat food and what they like is perfume.”
Having done so he said to her, “Shut the door and go down.” She did what he bade her to do. After a while she went up to him and saw his blessed soul had departed his body, his frame.
It was gone to the Supreme Master, and it ascended with the desire to meet Him as he had an appointment there with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his two Companions Abu Bakr and `Umar and the noble circle of martyrs!
Long had the burning desire stirred Salman. The time had come for him to rest in peace.
The article is excerpted from the book “Men Around the Messenger”, which is a translation based on Khalid Muhammad Khalid’s celebrated work in Arabic “Rijal Hawla Ar-Rasul” which represents the real inspirational stories of sixty-four Companions of the Prophet.