Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah & the Martyr of Martyrs (Part 2)

Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah & the Martyr of Martyrs (Part 2)

By: Khalid Muhammad Khalid

Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah & Martyr of Martyrs (Part 1)

Allah supported Islam with Hamzah’s conversion. He was strong in defending the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) and the helpless amongst his Companions. When Abu Jahl saw him among the Muslims, he realized that war was inevitably coming.

Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah & the Martyr of Martyrs (Part 2)

Since his conversion, Hamzah devoted all his life and power to Allah and His religion.

Therefore he began to support the Quraish to ruin the Prophet and his Companions. He wanted to prepare for a civil war to relieve his heart of anger and bitter feelings.

Hamzah was unable, of course, to prevent all the harm alone, but his conversion was a shield that protected the Muslims, and was the first source of attraction to many tribes to embrace Islam. The second source was `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab’s conversion, after which people entered Allah’s religion in crowds.

Since his conversion, Hamzah devoted all his life and power to Allah and His religion till the Prophet peace be upon him) honored him with the noble title, “The Lion of Allah and of His Messenger”.

The first military raid launched by the Muslims against their enemies was under the command of Hamzah. The first banner that the Prophet handed to any Muslim was to Hamzah. In the battle of Badr, when the two conflicting parties met, the Lion of Allah and of His Messenger was there performing great wonders.

The defeated remnants of the Quraish army went back to Makkah stumbling in disappointment. Abu Sufyan was broken hearted with a bowed head as he left on the battlefield the dead bodies of the Quraish martyrs such as Abu Jahl, Utbah ibn Rabii`ah, Shaibah ibn Rabii`ah, Umaiyah ibn khalaf, `Uqbah ibnn Abi Mu`ait, Al-Aswad ibn `Abdul Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi, Al- Wallid ibn `Utbah, Al-Nafr ibn Al-Haarith, Al-`Aas lbn Sa`eed, Ta`mah ibn `Addi and tens of other great Quraish.

But the Quraish would not accept the defeat easily. They started to prepare the army and to pull together all powers to avenge their honor and their dead. They insisted to continue the war.

Uhud

In the Battle of Uhud, all the Quraish went to war together with their allies from the Arabs, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan once again.

The Quraishi leaders had targeted two persons in the new battle, namely, the Prophet and Hamzah (May Allah be pleased with him). If one had heard them talking and plotting before the war, one would realize that Hamzah was their second main target after the Prophet.

Before they went to war, they had already chosen the person in charge of assassinating Hamzah: an Abyssinian slave with extra ordinary skill in spear throwing. They planned for him to kill Hamzah, his only role being to hit him with a deadly spear. They warned him not to be busy with any other preoccupation other than Hamzah, regardless of the situation on the battlefield. They promised him the excellent reward of his freedom.

The slave, whose name was Wahshiy, was owned by Jubair ibn Mut`am. Jubair’s uncle had been killed in the Battle of Badr, so Jubair said to Wahshiy, “Go out with the army, and if you kill Hamzah you will be free.” Afterwards, the Quraish sent Wahshiy to Hind Bint `Utbah, Abu Sufyan’s wife, to give him more encouragement to kill Hamzah, because she had lost her father, uncle, brother, and son and it was said that Hamzah had been behind their deaths.

This was the reason why Hind was the most enthusiastic one of all the Quraish to escalate the war.

All she wanted was Hamzah’s head, whatever the cost might be. She spent days before the battle pouring all her rage into Wahshiy’s heart and making the plans for him. She promised him if he killed Hamzah she would give him her most precious trinkets. With her hateful fingers she held her precious pearl earrings and a number of golden necklaces around her neck and gazed at him saying, “All these are yours if you kill Hamzah.”

Wahshiy’s mouth watered for the offer, and his soul yearned for the battle after which he would win his freedom and cease to be a slave, in addition to all the jewelry decorating the neck of the leading woman of the Quraish, the wife of its leader, and the daughter of its master. It was clear then that the whole war and the whole conspiracy were decisively seeking Hamzah.

Thus the Lion of Allah and of His Messenger died as a great martyr. His death was as unusual as his life, because it was not enough for his enemies to kill him. They sacrificed all the men and money of the Quraish to a battle only seeking the Prophet and his uncle Hamzah.

Worse Loss

The battle ended and the polytheists mounted their camels and led their horses back to Makkah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions examined the battlefield to see the martyrs. There, in the heart of the valley, the Prophet was examining the faces of his Companions who had offered their souls to their Lord and had given their lives as a precious sacrifice to Him.

The Prophet suddenly stood up and gazed in an upset manner at what he saw. He ground his teeth and dosed his eyes. He never imagined that the Arabic moral code could be that savage so as to cut and disfigure a dead body in the dreadful way that had happened to his uncle, the Lion of Allah, Hamzah Ibn `Abdul Muttalib. The Prophet opened his shining eyes and looked at the dead body of his uncle saying, “I will never have a worse loss in my life than yours. I have never been more outraged than I am now”.

Then he turned to his Companions saying, “It is only for the sake of Safiyah (Hamzah’s sister) that she should be grieved and that it should be taken as a practice after me. Otherwise, I would have ordered him to be left without burying so that he may be in the stomachs of beasts and in the craws of birds. If Allah destines me to win over the Quraish, I will cut thirty of them into pieces.”

Best Honor

Therefore, the Companions shouted, “By Allah, if one day we conquer them, we will cut them in a way that no Arab has done before!” Allah honored Hamzah by making his death a great lesson for the Muslims to learn justice and mercy, even in situations when penalties and retaliation were justified.

No sooner had the Prophet finished his threatening words, then a revelation came down to him while he was still standing in his place with the following verse:

Call mankind to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and sound advice, and reason with them in a well-mannered way. Indeed your Lord is well aware of those who have gone astray from His way, and He is well aware of those who are guided. And if you retaliate, let your retaliation be to the extent that you were afflicted, but if you are patient, it will certainly be best for those who are patient; and be patient, yet your patience is only with the help of God, and do not sorrow for them, not distress yourself at what they devise. Indeed GOD is with those who are pious, and those who are doers of good. (An-Nahl 16:125-127)

The revelation of these verses in this situation was the best honor for Hamzah. As stated before, the Prophet loved him dearly because he was not only an uncle, but also his brother by fosterage, his playmate in childhood, and the best friend in all his life.

_________________________

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.

Khalid Muhammad Khalid (1920-1996) is a modern Egyptian Muslim thinker. He is most known for his book Rijal Hawla al-Rasul (Men Around the Messenger). He wrote many books about the life and the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

 

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Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah & Martyr of Martyrs (Part 1)

Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah & Martyr of Martyrs (Part 1)

By: Khalid Muhammad Khalid

Hamzah: Uncle & Brother

After a day full of work, worship, and entertainment, the people of Makkah fell into a deep sleep.

The people of the Quraish were turning in their beds except for one who forsook his bed of sleep. He used to go to bed early, rest for a few hours, then wake up in great anxiety for the expected appointment with Allah. He went to the praying corner in his room to supplicate to his God.

Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib: The Lion of Allah

Hamzah was not only physically strong, but was also wise and strong-willed.

Whenever his wife awakened upon hearing the voice of his long supplications, she shed tears out of warm sympathy and asked him not to take it so hard and to get some sleep. He only answered her in tears, ”The time for sleep is over, khadijah.”

At that time Muhammad was not yet a serious problem for the Quraish, although he had started to draw their attention as he started to spread his call secretly; those who believed in him were still quite few.

There were people among the non-believers who loved and respected him. They yearned to declare their belief in him and become one of his followers, but their fear of the prevailing norms and the pressure of inherited traditions prevented them. Among them was Hamzah lbn `Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s paternal uncle who was at the same time his brother through fosterage (i.e. they had been breast-fed by the same woman).

The Call

Hamzah was fully aware of the greatness of his nephew and of the truth he came with. He used to know him not only as a nephew, but also as a brother and friend because they both belonged to the same generation.

They always played together and walked together on the same road of life step by step. But in their youth they departed, each one in his own way: Hamzah preferred the life of leisure, trying to take his place among the prominent leaders of the Quraish and Makkah, while Muhammad chose the life of seclusion away from the crowd, immersed in the deep spiritual meditation that prepared him to receive the truth.

Despite the fact that each of them had a different way of living out his own youth, Hamzah was always attentive to the virtues of his friend and nephew. Such virtues helped Muhammad to win a special place in the hearts of people and helped to draw a clear outline for his great future.

The next day, Hamzah went out as usual. At the Ka`bah he found a number of Quraishi noblemen. He sat with them, listening to what they had to say: they were talking about Muhammad.

For the first time Hamzah saw them worried about the call his nephew was propagating with a tone of bitterness and rage marking their voices. Before that, they had never paid attention – at least they had pretended not to do so – but on that day their faces looked perplexed, upset, and aggressive.

Hamzah laughed at their talks and accused them of exaggeration. Abu Jahl said to his companions that Hamzah was the best one to know the danger of his nephew’s call and that he pretended to underestimate this danger till the Quraish would relax so much that when they awakened it would be after his nephew had complete control over them.

They kept talking and threatening while Hamzah sat, sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning. When they dispersed his head was full of new ideas about the issues of his nephew that they had discussed in his presence.

Strong Belief

Days passed and the Quraish’s whispering about the Prophet’s call increased. Later, whispering turned into provocation and Hamzah watched from a distance. His nephew’s composed, steadfast attitude towards their provocations puzzled him. Such an attitude was quite unfamiliar to the Bani Quraish, who were themselves known to be strong and challenging.

If doubts of the greatness and truth of Muhammad could steal into anyone’s heart, they would have never stolen into Hamzah’s heart, because he was the best one to know Muhammad from his early childhood to his youth, then to his proud, honest manhood. Hamzah knew Muhammad as he knew himself and maybe more.

Since they had come into life together, grown up together, and attained full strength together, Muhammad’s life had been as pure and clear as the sunlight. It never occurred to Hamzah that Muhammad could make an error or a doubtful act in his life. He never saw Muhammad angry, hopeless , greedy, careless, or unstable.

Hamzah was not only physically strong, but was also wise and strong-willed.

Therefore, it was natural for him to follow a man in whose honesty and truthfulness he wholeheartedly believed. Thus he kept a secret in his heart that was soon going to be disclosed.

Then came the day. Hamzah went out of his house towards the desert carrying his bow to practice his favorite sport of hunting (in which he was very skilled). He spent most of his day there. On his way home he passed by the Ka`bah as usual, to circumambulate it.

Near the Ka`bah, a female servant of `Abdullah lbn Jud`an saw him and said, “O Abu `Umarah!

You haven’t seen what happened to your nephew at the hands of Abu Al-Hakam ibn Hisham. When he saw Muhammad sitting there, he hurt him and called him bad names and treated him in a way that he hated.”

She went on to explain what Abu Jahl had done to the Prophet of Allah. Hamzah listened to her carefully and paused for a while, then with his right hand he picked up his bow and put it on his shoulder. He walked with fast, steady steps towards the Ka`bah, hoping to meet Abu Jahl there. He decided that if he did not find him, he would search for him everywhere till he did.

As soon as he reached the Ka`bah he glanced at Abu Jahl sitting in the yard in the middle of the Quraishi noblemen. Hamzah advanced very calmly towards Abu Jahl and hit him with his bow on the head till it broke the skin and bled. To everybody’s surprise, Hamzah shouted, “You dare to insult Muhammad while I follow his religion and I say what he says? Come and retaliate upon me. Hit me if you can.”

In a moment they all forgot how their leader Abu Jahl had been insulted and they were all thunderstruck by the news that Hamzah had converted to Muhammad’s religion and that he saw what Muhammad saw and said what he said. Could Hamzah really have converted to Islam when he was the strongest and most dignified Quraishi young man?

Such was the overwhelming disaster to which the Quraish were helpless, because Hamzah’s conversion would attract others from the elite to do the same. Thus Muhammad’s call would be supported, and he would find enough solidarity that the Quraish might wake up one day to find their idols being pulled down. Indeed, Hamzah had converted, and he announced what he had kept secret in his heart for so long.

Loss & Uncertainty

Again Hamzah picked up his bow, put it on his shoulder, and with steady steps and full strength left the place with everyone looking disappointed and Abu Jahl licking the blood flowing from his wounded head.

Hamzah possessed a sharp sight and dear consciousness. He went home, and after he had relaxed from the day’s exhaustion he sat down to think over what had happened. He had announced it in a moment of indignation and rage. He hated to see his nephew getting insulted and suffering injustice with no one to help him.

Such racial zeal for the honor of Bani Hashim’s talk had made him hit Abu Jahl on the head and shout declaring his Islam. But was that the ideal way for anyone to change the religion of his parents and ancestors and to embrace a new religion whose teachings he had not yet become familiar with and whose true reality he had not acquired sufficient knowledge of?

It was true that Hamzah had never had any doubts about Muhammad’s integrity, but could anybody embrace a new religion with all its responsibilities just in a moment of rage as Hamzah had done?

Yearning for Guidance

It was true that he had always kept in his heart a great respect for the new call his nephew was carrying and its banner, but what should the right time have been to embrace this religion if he was destined to embrace it? Should it be a moment of indignation and anger or a moment of deep reflection?

Thus he was inspired by a clear consciousness to reconsider the whole situation in light of strict and meticulous thinking.

Hamzah started thinking. He spent many restless days and sleepless nights. When one tries to attain the truth by the power of mind, uncertainty will become a means of knowledge, and this is what happened to Hamzah.

Once he used his mind to search Islam and to weigh between the old religion and the new one, he started to have doubts raised by his innate inherited nostalgia for his father’s religion and by the natural fear of anything new. All his memories of the Ka`bah, the idols, the statues and the high religious status these idols bestowed on the Quraish and Makkah were raised.

It appeared to him that denying all this history and the ancient religion was like a big chasm which had to be crossed. Hamzah was amazed at how a man could depart from the religion of his father that early and that fast. He regretted what he had done but he went on with the journey of reasonable thinking.

Faith and Certainty

But at that moment, he realized that his mind was not enough and that he should resort sincerely to the unseen power. At the Ka`bah he prayed and supplicated to heaven, seeking help from every light that existed in the universe to be guided to the right path.

Let us hear him narrating his own story: “I regretted having departed from the religion of my father and kin, and I was in a terrible state of uncertainty and could not sleep. I came to the Ka`bah and supplicated to Allah to open my heart to what was right and to eliminate all doubts from it. Allah answered my prayer and filled my heart with faith and certainty. In the morning I went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) informing him about myself, and he prayed to Allah that He may keep my heart stable in this religion.

In this way Hamzah converted to Islam, the religion of certainty.

_________________________

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.

Khalid Muhammad Khalid (1920-1996) is a modern Egyptian Muslim thinker. He is most known for his book Rijal Hawla al-Rasul (Men Around the Messenger). He wrote many books about the life and the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

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Mu`adh Ibn Jabal: The Most Learned of Halal and Haram

Mu`adh Ibn Jabal: The Most Learned of Halal and Haram

By: Khalid Muhammad Khalid

Among the seventy-man delegation of the Ansar who took the oath of allegiance to the Prophet in the Second Allegiance of `Aqabah sat a young man with a bright face, graceful eyes, and a radiant smile. When he was silent, he attracted attention with his profound peacefulness and devoutness. On the other hand, when he talked, he held his people spellbound. This young man was Mu`adh lbn Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him).

Mu`adh Ibn Jabal: The Most Learned of Halal and Haram

Mu`adh Ibn Jaba was a man of remarkably enlightened, resolute, and decisive mind.

He belonged to the Ansar, and he was among the foremost believers who gave the second oath of allegiance to the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Naturally, a man of such precedence, faith, and certainty would not miss for the world a battle or an expedition. His uppermost quality was his knowledge of fiqh (jurisprudence) the practical aspect of Muhammad’s message. He reached the apex in knowledge and fiqh, to the extent that made the Prophet (peace be upon him) say, “The most learned man of my nation in halal and haram is Mu`adh Ibn Jabal.”

He resembled `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in his enlightenment, courage and intelligence. When the Prophet sent him to Yemen, he asked him, “How will you give a judgment or settle a dispute?” Mu`adh answered; “I will refer to the Qur’an.” The Prophet then asked, “What will you do if you do not find the decree you are looking for in the Qur’an?” Mu`adh answered, “I will refer to the Prophet’s Sunnah.” The Prophet asked, “But what will you do if you do not find a decree even in the Sunnah?” Mu`adh readily answered, “I will be judge between mankind by resorting to juristic reasoning (ijtihad) to the best of my power.”

Now, Mu`adh’s staunch commitment to Allah’s Book and the Prophet’s Sunnah does not mean that he closed his mind to the countless and endless hidden or equivocal facts that await someone to unravel and adjudicate.

Perhaps both Mu`adh’s ability in juristic reasoning and the courageous usage of his intelligence enabled him to master the fiqh, excelling all other scholars. The Prophet justifiably described Mu`aadh as “the most learned man of my nation in halal and haram.”

Decisive Mind, Well-mannered

 

History portrays him as a man of remarkably enlightened, resolute, and decisive mind. For instance, `Aaez Allah lbn `AbduAllah narrated that one day he entered the mosque with the Companions of the Prophet at the dawn of `Umar’s caliphate. Then he sat among more than thirty men. Let us hear him narrate the story: “I sat with a group of more than thirty men. They were recalling a hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In this ring sat a dark, swarthy young man who had a sweet voice and a radiant face.

Whenever they disputed about a hidden or ambiguous meaning in the Hadith, they at once sought his legal instruction or judgment. He seldom, if ever, spoke unless he was asked. When their meeting was over, I approached him and asked him, “Who are you, O Allah’s Slave?” He answered, “I am Mu`adh Ibn Jabal.” So I instantly felt dose to him.

Also, Shahr Ibn Hawshab said, “Whenever Mu`adh lbn Jabal was present when the Companions of the Prophet were holding a meeting, they looked at him with reverence”.

`Umar Ibn Al-khattab, the Commander of the Faithful, often consulted him. It seemed that Mu`adh had a highly disciplined mind and a captivating and convincing logic that moved peacefully and knowledgeably. When we look at his historical background, we will always see him at the center of attention.

He always sat there surrounded by people. He always maintained a discrete silence that was only broken whenever people were anxious to hear his judgment and whenever they were in dispute.

When he spoke he looked, as one of his contemporaries described, “as if light and pearls were emanating from his mouth rather than speech.”

He reached his high rank in knowledge and reverence when the Prophet was alive and maintained it after his death, notwithstanding his youth, for Mu`adh died during `Umar’s caliphate at the age of thirty-three years.

Knowledgeable

Mu`adh was generous, magnanimous, well-mannered, and good-natured. If anyone asked him for money, he would readily and gladly give it to him. His generosity made him spend all his money on charity and aid.

When the Prophet died, Mu`adh was still in Yemen, where the Prophet had sent him with the task of teaching Muslims their religion and fiqh.

After a while, Mu`adh emigrated to Syria, where he lived among its people and the expatriates as a teacher and a scholar of fiqh. When Abu `Ubaydah, the governor of Syria and a close friend of Mu`adh, died, the Commander of the Faithful `Umar Ibn Al khattab assigned Mu`adh to take his place as a ruler.

Only a few months had elapsed after his taking over when he died, humble and repentant to Allah. `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “If I were to grant Mu`adh Ibn Jabal succession and Allah asked me, `Why did you make him your successor?’ I would readily answer, `I heard Your Prophet say that when those who have knowledge stand before Allah, Mu`adh will be among them.”

The succession that `Umar meant here was not merely over a country or a governorship but over all the Muslim lands. When `Umar was asked before his death, “If you choose your successor now, we will give him our allegiance,” he answered, “If Mu’aadh lbn Jabal were alive and I made him my successor to the caliphate, then I died and met Allah Who asked me, `Whom did you assign to rule Muhammad’s nation?’ I would answer, `I assigned Mu`adh lbn Jabal to rule it after I heard the Prophet say ‘Mu`adh Ibn Jabal is the Imam of those who have knowledge of Judgment Day.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said one day, “O Mu`adh, by Allah I love you dearly, so do not forget to recite after every prayer, `Allah help me in remembering You, in offering thanks to You, and in worshiping You properly.’”

Indeed, the Prophet supplicated Allah to help him to remember Him. The Prophet persevered in stressing this great fact that tells people that authority belongs to Allah, He has the power over all, and there is no power or any might except with His permission, for He is Most High and Most Great.

Definitely, Mu`adh had learned and fully grasped this fact.

He did his utmost to cherish and apply this fundamental basis in his life from that moment onwards.

Knowledge & Practice

Mu`adh advocated knowledge and the remembrance of Allah. Moreover, he invited mankind to seek the useful and true knowledge saying, “I warn you against the deviation of wise men. You will know the truth when you see it, for it has a distinctive light!” He believed that worship was an end and a means to reach justice.

One day a Muslim asked him, “Teach me.” Mu`adh asked him, “Will you obey me if I teach you?” The man answered, “I will not disobey you in anything.” He said then, “Fast, then break your fast. Pray during the night but you must get some sleep. Earn what is halal and what is rightfully yours and do not earn sin. Die as a true Muslim. Finally, I warn you against the supplication of those who have been wronged or oppressed.”

He believed that education meant knowledge and practice; therefore, he said, “Learn whatever you like to learn, yet Allah will not make your learning worthwhile unless you practice what you have learned.”

He believed that belief and remembrance of Allah meant the perpetual calling to mind of His greatness and the perpetual calling of oneself to account for deeds before Allah does so.

His Death

At the end, death summoned Mu`adh. It was time to meet Allah. When the stupor of death creeps upon someone, his subconscious takes the reins and spurs the tongue – if it is able to – to disclose the reality of all mankind in concise words that summarize his life story.

In those blessed moments, Mu`adh faintly uttered great words that revealed a great believer, for he gazed up into the sky and humbly supplicated Allah, the Most Merciful, saying,

“Allah I used to fear You but now I implore You. Allah, You know that I did not devote my life to travel in the lands or to earn money or property but rather consecrated it to knowledge, faith and obedience, notwithstanding intense heat or hardships.”

He stretched his hand as if he were shaking death and went into a coma. His last words were, “O Death, welcome! You are a long-awaited beloved.”

At last Mu`adh ascended to Allah’s Paradise.

_________________________

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.

Khalid Muhammad Khalid (1920-1996) is a modern Egyptian Muslim thinker. He is most known for his book Rijal Hawla al-Rasul (Men Around the Messenger). He wrote many books about the life and the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

 

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Abu Bakr As-Siddiq: The Skinny but Great Man

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq: The Skinny but Great Man

By: Faisal Az-Zamil

Every Muslim owes a debt of gratitude to him!

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq

This great man managed to unify Arabia and his reign was the basis for the Islamic Ummah we see today.

In physical appearance, Abu Bakr was a slender man with a slightly bent waist that the cloth that he wore round it often slipped down before he fastens it many times. He was very gentle and tender-hearted. He used to recite the Qur’an in a sad heart-touching voice awakening the hearts of the people of Makkah when particularly reciting:

And, O my people! What ails me that I call you unto deliverance when ye call me unto the Fire? You call me to disbelieve in Allah and ascribe unto Him as partners that whereof I have no knowledge, while I call you unto the Mighty, the Forgiver. Assuredly that whereunto ye call me hath no claim in the world or in the Hereafter, and our return will be unto Allah, and the prodigals will be owners of the Fire. (Ghafir 40:41:43)

Abu Bakr (may Allah be blessed with him) was an eloquent reciter of the Qur’an. His recitation attracted the people of Makkah who were gathering around his house to listen to him. When the leaders of Quraish knew about that, they sent someone to ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) to “ask his friend not to pray in public as his recitations ruined their boys” … meaning their slaves who were yearning to the call of freedom that recognizes absolute equality between humans irrespective of any distinction of color, race or tribe …

Abu Bakr fought against the forces of slavery and racism, purchasing the freedom of slaves. The first of the slaves set free by him was Bilal.

We see this soft gentle nature of Abu Bakr disappearing when the shocking great news of the Prophet’s death spread, turning the Arabian Peninsula upside down.

The Companions of Prophet Muhammad were in shock and confusion. Some of them took the corner of the Mosque in silent and grief.

Before his death, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) had ordered the mobilization of a large army to march to (now) Jordan under the command of Usama Ibn Zayd.

While the army was ready for war, the Prophet began to suffer from the sickness.

The first issue that Abu Bakr as a Caliph was called upon to decide was whether army- halted outside Al-Madinah- should proceed to its destination, or should it be abandoned due to the danger to which Madinah was exposed following the death of the Prophet.

Abu Bakr saw that it was the wish of the Prophet that the army should be sent to Jordan and it should be fulfilled at all costs.

“Who am I to withhold the army that the Prophet had ordained to proceed? Come what may: let Madinah stand or fall; the Caliphate live or perish, the command of the Holy Prophet shall be carried out.”, said Abu Bakr.

The view of Abu Bakr reflected his faithfulness and loyalty with the unwavering faith that whatever the Prophet had ordered was in the best interests of the community.

Thus, on the third day after the Prophet’s death, the Caliphate Abu Bakr announced the departure of Usama’s army, as were the commands of Allah’s Messenger.

After twenty days march the army reached Palestine and fought the Romans. Usamah returned to Madinah with a great victory and no losses proving the certainty of Abu Bakr’s faith and the strength and integrity of the Muslims as well.

The victory came at the most critical time of unrest and disorder. The victory news spread around entire Peninsula. It was the powerful beginning of Abu Bakr’s caliphate and war against the apostates.

Abu Bakr’s Reign

Abu Bakr’s reign lasted for 2 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Here we will address four key features of his caliphate:

1- His War of Apostasy: A Comprehensive View of the Last Message

As Al-Aswad Al-`Ansi, Tulayha Ibn Khuwaylid, Sajah, Musaylamah claimed prophethood, turning many tribes like Muzhig followed Al-Aswad; Banu Asad, Ghatfan Tai’ and Al-Ghawth who followed Tulayha; Banu Taghlab and Banu Tamim who followed Sajah and Yemen which followed Musaylamah who canceled the ritual of Prayer. Also, Luqayt ibn Malik Al-Azdi claimed Prophethood in Oman. They all sent delegations to Abu Bakr to negotiate with him as regarding the cancellation of some of the obligation and pillars of Islam topped by zakah. Abu Bakr replied with his well-known word, “I swear by Allah that if they were to refuse me a rope of camel which they used to pay the Messenger of Allah, I will fight with them over the refusal of it.”

“`Umar said: ‘O Abu Bakr! How can you fight the people when the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) has said: ‘I have been ordered to fight the people until they say: ‘There is no God but Allah’ and whoever says this, makes himself and his property inviolable except by legal right, and his reckoning is with Allah?’ Abu Bakr replied: ‘By Allah! I will fight whoever made a distinction between salah and zakat, for zakat is a lawful right upon the property!”

This how comprehensive and firmly intact was Abu Bakr’s view of Islam as a whole.

When `Umar also asked him to go a bit slow, he taunted him: “I need your support and you let me down! Were you strong in pre-Islamic days to have become a coward now?”

2- If Apostates Had Succeeded, There Would Have Been No Islam

This firm attitude from a tender-hearted skinny man was a fence to protect the wholeness and unity of the religion and its pillars from breakdown. Following Musylamah, people began to give up the Salah, and withhold the zakah, coming up with a new religion that has nothing to do with true Islam; a religion guided by individual desires, by defaced and disintegrated beliefs and principles, and racist inclinations. The religion, then, would have been a region-based weird set of rules like that of the Mongols. But Islam is the religion of sound fitrah (natural inclinations of man) and healthy mind; a guidance for all time, addressing the whole humanity and integrating all domains of human life.

This is how Abu Bakr fought to protect the true religion of God from distortion and innovations without sacrificing the rulings of its pillars of salah and zakah.

In the hadith narrated by Bakr:

“He heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: just see, can anything of his filthiness remain (on the body of) any one of you if there were a river at his door in which he washed himself five times daily? They, said: Nothing of his filthiness will remain (on his body). He said: That is like the five prayers by which Allah obliterates sins” (Muslim)

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by some of his Companions: “Is Allah near so we invoke him or is he far so we call him? so Allah revealed the verse: “When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Where, other than Islam, can one find such guidance!

If those apostates had succeeded to spread their new invented religion, nothing of these teachings would have been reached us.

3- Majority Is Not A Precondition for Decision-Making

Another lesson we can learn is that Abu Bakr’s opinion was not a majority’s. Thus, shura (consultation) in Islam is not binding for the ruler if he has an opinion opposed to the majority. Shura, in this respect, is advisable and not strictly necessary. Almighty Allah says, “So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him).” (Ash-Shura 3:159)

This is the basis of the principle of separation of powers, a term coined in modern times by these French political thinker Montesquieu and was adopted by the ancient Romans. They divided the state powers into executive power, the legislature and the judiciary. If the judiciary was clearly independent, the executive power fluctuated between the systems. Yet, the Shura principle is a criterion, and the head of state has to exercise his powers after that advice is done by Shura or consultation. This what Abu Bakr has done, to make consultation and thereafter make use of his powers even if being opposed by the majority.

4- Strategic Goal for Apostasy Wars: Unified Arabian Peninsula

At strategic level, Abu Bakr left to his successor, `Umar, a united Arabia. Without this unity, Islam would have never been spread beyond the caliphate’s borders., to West, East and North.

Abu Bakr managed to unify these rebellious factions and his reign was the basis for the Islamic Ummah we see today.

`Umar would often say that he would prefer to be a hair on the chest of Abu Bakr.

Back to the situations and words that show Abu Bakr’s firm character:

  • In the Hudaybiyah peace treaty, the decision of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the conclusion of a reconciliation with Quraysh, in which Muslims return to Madinah and do not enter Makkah to perform Umrah. The acceptance of this condition was difficult for Muslims and the most angry was Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). When Abu Bakr saw Umar reviewing with the Prophet (peace be upon him) repeatedly asking to him in a fully disciplined manner, “O `Umar, he is the Messenger of Allah. So, stop it.” He means that he has to follow the Prophet’s footsteps in full compliance, and do not overstep him.
  • Usama was riding his horse and he is the commander of the army and Abu Bakr, the Caliph, was walking on his feet. When Usama wanted to go down to walk with him, Abu Bakr said to him (Do not come down, what if my feet is covered by dust for an hour in the way of God!)
  • Make sure that death gives you life!

May Allah have mercy on this great man.

May Allah Almighty bless him and reward him for what he had done for the Muslim Ummah.

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Salman Al-Farisi: The Seeker after the Truth (Part 1)

Salman Al-Farisi: The Seeker after the Truth (Part 1)

desert

Salman had much experience, in warfare and its tactics in his native Persia. So he proposed to the Prophet something which the Arabs had never seen before in warfare.

From Persia comes our hero this time, and from Persia many came to embrace Islam in the long run, and it made some of them extraordinary, unsurpassable in faith and knowledge in religion and worldly affairs.

It is one of the wonders of Islam and its greatness that it never enters a country on Allah’s earth but that it exerts invaluable influence on all its potentialities and forces, bringing forth the latent genius of its people and followers. From there came forth Muslim philosophers, physicians, jurists, astronomers, inventors, and mathematicians.

Behold, they reached all heights, broke all frontiers, until the first era of Islam flourished with great geniuses in all fields of intellectual activity such as administration and science. Verily, they came from various nations, but their religion remained one.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had prophesied this blessed spread of his religion. Indeed, he had been so promised by his Almighty Lord. He had pointed to the time, place, and day, and he had seen in his mind’s eye the banner of Islam fluttering in all comers of the earth and over the palaces of its earthly rulers.

Battle of the Trench

Salman Al-Farisi (the Persian) bore witness to this and was firmly connected with what happened. That was on the Day of Al-Khandaq (The Trench) in the year A.H. 5, when the leaders of the Jews approached Makkah to stir up the polytheists and form an alliance against the Prophet and the Muslims, asking the polytheists to enter upon a treaty for decisive battle to eradicate this new religion.

The ungodly war was planned: the Quraysh army and allies would attack Al Madinah from outside, while the Bani Ouraidhah would attack from within, behind the ranks of the Muslims, who would then fall prey and be crushed. One day the Prophet and the Muslims were taken unaware by a huge well-armed army marching on Al-Madinah. The Qur’an depicts the scene thus:

When they came against you from above you and from below you and your eyes turned away and your hearts reached to your throats, and you imagined vain thoughts about GOD; in that place the believers were tried and shaken most severely. (Al-Ahzab 33:10-11)

Twenty-four thousand fighters under the command of Abu Sufyan and `Uyainah ibn Hisn were advancing on Al-Madinah to storm it and to lay siege to it in order to get rid of Muhammad, his religion, and his Companions.

This army did not represent the Quraysh alone, for they were in alliance with all the tribes, and all had vested interests that were threatened by Islam. It was a last and decisive attempt embarked on by all the enemies of the Prophet, based upon individual, collective, and tribal interests.

The Muslims found themselves in a precarious situation. The Prophet assembled his Companions for consultation. Certainly they were gathered to reach a decision on defense and battle, but how could they put up a defense?

Precious Advice

And then a long-legged man with flowing hair for whom the Prophet bore great love, Salman Al-Farisi, held up his head and took a look at Al-Madinah, which was surrounded by hills, mountains, and exposed open country which could be easily broken through by the enemy.

Salman had much experience, in warfare and its tactics in his native Persia. So he proposed to the Prophet something which the Arabs had never seen before in warfare. It was the digging of a trench in the exposed places around Al-Madinah.

And Allah knows what could have been the position of the Muslims in that battle had they not dug the trench, which was no sooner seen by the Quraysh than they were stunned by despair. The forces of the enemy still remained in their tents for a month, unable to take Al-Madinah, until Allah sent them one night a storm which devastated their tents and tore them asunder.

Then Abu Sufyan announced to his forces that they should return to where they had come from. They were despondent and frustrated.

Teamwork in Action

During the excavation of the trench, Salman took his place among the Muslims while they dug and removed the sand. The Prophet was also taking part in digging where Salman was working in a group. Their pickaxes could not smash a stubborn rock, in spite of the fact that Salman was of strong build and hard working.

A single stroke of his would break a rock to pieces, but he stood in front of this stubborn one. He let all those around him try to break it, but in vain. Salman went to the Prophet to ask him to divert the trench around that stubborn and challenging rock. The Prophet (PBUH) returned with Salman to see the rock himself. When he saw it, he called for a pickax and asked the Companions to keep back from the splinters. He said, “In the name of Allah,” and then raised his blessed, firm hands gripping the pickax and let it fall.

The rock broke, making a great light. Salman said that he himself saw that light shining upon Al-Madinah. The Prophet raised the pickax and gave a second blow and the rock broke more. At that moment the Prophet (peace be upon him) said loudly, “Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest), I have been given the keys to Rome; its red palaces have been lit for me and my nation has vanquished it.”

The Prophet struck his third blow. Then the rock shattered and its glittering light was seen!

The Prophet told them that he was now looking at the palaces of Syria, San`aa’ (Sanaa) and others like them, and the cities of the world over which the banner of Islam would flutter one day. The Muslims shouted in deep faith, “This is what Allah and His Prophet have promised us!”

Salman was the originator of the project to dig the trench, and he was associated with the rock out of which poured some secrets of the unseen and of destiny.

When he called the Prophet to break it, he stood by the side of the Prophet, saw the light, and heard the glad omen, and he lived to see the prophecy fulfilled and abided in its living reality.

He saw the great capitals of Persia and Rome (Byzantium), the palaces of San`aa’, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. He saw every place trembling with the blessed ecstasy which was issuing forth from the high minarets in all parts of the world, spreading the light of guidance and goodness.

And here he is sitting there in the shade of a tree before his house in Al-Madinah telling his guests about his great adventures in the quest for truth, explaining to them how he abandoned the religion of his Persian people for Christianity and then for Islam. How he abandoned his father’s wealth and estate and threw himself into the arms of the wilderness in the quest for the release of his tension and soul. How he was sold in a slave market on his way to search for truth. How he met with the Prophet and how he came to believe in him.

In the coming part we will approach that great court and listen to his grand tale which he is recounting….

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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. 

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`Abdullah ibn `Umar: The Persistent Repentant to Allah (Part 1)

`Abdullah ibn `Umar: The Persistent Repentant to Allah (Part 1)

reading qur'an

He spent his long, blessed life and his firm loyalty adhering to the Prophet’s Sunnah.

Unique Nobility

When Abdullah ibn Umar was at the peak of his long life he said, “I swore the oath of allegiance to the Prophet (peace be upon him). I never broke my oath, nor have I turned to something else to this day. I never swore allegiance to those in civil strife, nor did I awake a sleeping Muslim.”

These words are a summary of the life of that virtuous man who lived past the age of 80. His relationship with Islam and the Prophet began when he was only 13 years old, when he accompanied his father to the Battle of Badr, hoping to have a place among the mujahids (those who strive for the cause of God), but he was sent back by the Prophet due to his young age.

Since that day – and even before that when he accompanied his father on his Hijrah to Al-Madinah – that young boy who possessed premature manly merits began his relation with the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

From that day till the day he passed away at the age of 85, we will always find him persistent, repentant, never deviating from his path, not even by a hairbreadth, never breaking the oath of allegiance which he had sworn, nor breaking a pledge he had made.

The merits of `Abdullah ibn `Umar, which dazzle people’s vision, are abundant. Among these are his knowledge, modesty, the straightness of his conscience and path, his generosity, piety, persistence in worship, and his sincere adherence to the Prophet’s model. By means of all these merits and qualities did Ibn `Umar shape his unique personality, his sincere and truthful life.

He learned a lot of good manners from his father, `Umar Ibn Al khattaab, and together with him, they learned from the Prophet (peace be upon him) all the good manners and all that can be described as noble virtues.

In the Prophets’ Steps

Like his father, his belief in Allah and His Prophet was perfect; therefore, the way he pursued the Prophet’s steps was admirable. He was always looking at what the Prophet was doing in every matter and then humbly imitating his deeds to the finest detail.

For example, wherever the Prophet prayed, there also would lbn `Umar pray, and on the same spot. If the Prophet invoked Allah while standing, then lbn `Umar would invoke Allan while standing. If the Prophet invoked Allah while sitting, so also would lbn `Umar invoke Allah while sitting.

On the same particular route where the Prophet once dismounted from his camel and prayed two rak`ahs, so would lbn `Umar do the same while traveling to the same place.

Moreover, he remembered that the Prophet’s camel turned twice at a certain spot in Makkah before the Prophet dismounted and before his two rak`ahs of prayer. The camel may have done that spontaneously to prepare itself a suitable halting place, but lbn `Umar would reach that spot, turn his camel in a circle, then allow it to kneel down. After that he would pray two rak`ahs in exactly the same manner he had seen the Prophet do.

Such exaggerated imitation once provoked the Mother of the Believers `Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) to say, “No one followed the Prophet’s steps in his coming and going as lbn `Umar did.”

He spent his long, blessed life and his firm loyalty adhering to the Prophet’s Sunnah to the extent that a time came when the virtuous Muslims were asking Allan, “O Allah, save lbn `Umar as long as I live so that I can follow him. I don’t know anyone still adhering to the early traditions except him.”

Similar to that strong and firm adherence to each of the Prophet’s steps and practice (Sunnah) was lbn `Umar’s respect for the Prophetic Traditions (Hadith). He never related a hadith unless he remembered it to the letter. His contemporaries said, “None of the Companions of the Prophet was more cautious not to add or subtract something from a hadith than `Abdullah lbn `Umar.”

God-Consciousness

In the same way he was very cautious when giving a fatwa (legal formal opinion in Islamic law). One day somebody came to ask him a fatwa. When he put forward his question, lbn `Umar answered, “I have no knowledge concerning what you are asking about.” The man went his way. He had hardly left the place when Ibn `Umar rubbed his hands happily saying to himself, “Ibn `Umar has been asked about what he doesn’t know, so he said, ‘I don’t know!’” He was very much afraid to perform ijtihad (independent judgment in a legal question) in his fatwa, although he was living according to the instructions of a great religion, a religion which grants a reward to the one who makes a mistake and two rewards to the one who comes out with a correct righteous fatwa. However, lbn `Umar’s piety deprived him of the courage to make any fatwas.

In the same way he refrained from the post of judge. The position of a judge was one of the highest positions of state and society, guaranteeing the one engaged in it wealth, prestige, and glory. But why should the pious Ibn `Umar need money, prestige, and glory? The Caliph `Uthman once sent for him and asked him to hold the position of judge but he apologized. `Uthman asked him, “Do you disobey me?”

Ibn `Umar answered, “No, but it came to my knowledge that judges are of three kinds one who judges ignorantly: he is in hell; one who judges according to his desire: he is in hell; one who involves himself in making ijtihad and is unerring in his judgment. That one will turn empty-handed, no sin committed and no reward to be granted. I ask you by Allah to exempt me.”

`Uthman exempted him after he pledged him never to tell anyone about that, for `Uthman knew Ibn `Umar’s place in people’s hearts and he was afraid that if the pious and virtuous knew his refraining from holding the position of judge, they would follow him and do the same, and then the Caliph would not find a pious person to be judge.

Qualifications-Based

It may seem as if Ibn `Umar’s stance was a passive one. However, it was not so. Ibn `Umar did not abstain from accepting the post when there was no one more suitable to hold it than himself. In fact a lot of the Prophet’s pious and virtuous Companions were actually occupied with fatwa and judgment.

His restraint and abstention would not paralyze the function of jurisdiction, nor would it cause it to be held by unqualified ones, so Ibn `Umar preferred to devote his time to purifying his soul with more worship and more obedience.

Furthermore, in that stage of Islamic history, life became more comfortable and luxurious, money more abundant, positions and authoritative ranks more available.

The temptation of money and authoritative ranks began to enter the hearts of the pious and faithful , which made some of the Prophet’s Companions – Ibn `Umar among them – to lift the banner of resistance to that temptation by means of making themselves models and examples of worship, piety, and abstention, refraining from high ranks in order to defeat their temptation.

_________________________

The article is excerpted from the book “Men Around the Messenger”, which is 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.

 

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