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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Soucre Link
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. 

Soucre Link
`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.

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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.

 

Soucre Link
Salman Al-Farisi: True Faith & Real Richness (Part 3)

Salman Al-Farisi: True Faith & Real Richness (Part 3)

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Luqman the Wise

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He filled his spirit with riches just as it filled him with renunciation of the pleasures of this world, its riches, and pride.

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?

True Humbleness

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!

…and Simplicity

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.

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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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Bilal ibn Rabah: A Miracle of Faith & Truthfulness

Bilal ibn Rabah: A Miracle of Faith & Truthfulness

Whenever `Umar ibn Al khattab mentioned Abu Bakr he would say, “Abu Bakr is our master and the emancipator of our master”. That is to say, Bilal.

bilal

The magnificence of the religion which he believed in gave him, during his lifetime and in history, an elevated place among the great men of Islam.

Indeed, the man to whom `Umar would give the agnomen “Our Master” must be a great and fortunate man.

However, this man – who was very dark in complexion, slender, very tall, thick- haired and with a sparse beard, as described by the narrators – would hardly hear words of praise and commendation directed at him and bestowed bountifully upon him without bending his head, lowering his eyelids and saying with tears flowing down his two cheeks, “Indeed, I am an Abyssinian. Yesterday, I was only a slave!”

Bilal …A Miracle of Islam?

So who is this Abyssinian who was yesterday only a slave? He is Bilal ibn Rabah, the announcer of the time of Muslim prayer and the troublemaker to the idols. He was one of the miracles of faith and truthfulness, one of Islam’s great miracles. For out of every ten Muslims, from the beginning of Islam until today and until Allah wills, we will meet seven, at least, who know Bilal.

That is, there are hundreds of millions of people throughout the centuries and generations who know Bilal, remember his name, and know his role just as they know the two greatest Caliphs in Islam, Abu Bakr and `Umar!

Even if you ask a child who is still in his first years of primary school in Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia, or China, in the two Americas, Europe, or Russia, in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, or Sudan, in Tunis, Algeria, or Morocco, in the depth of Africa and in the mountains of Asia, in every place on the earth where Muslims reside, you can ask any Muslim child, “Who is Bilal, child?” He will answer you, “He was the muezzin of the Messenger (peace be upon him) and he was the slave whose master used to torture him with hot burning stones to make him apostatize. But instead he said, “One, One.”

Whenever you consider this enduring fame that Islam bestowed upon Bilal, you should know that before Islam this Bilal was no more than a slave who tended herds of camels for his master for a handful of dates. Had it not been for Islam, it would have been his fate to remain a slave, wandering among the crowd until death brought an end to his life and caused him to perish in the profoundest depths of forgetfulness.

However, his faith proved to be true, and the magnificence of the religion which he believed in gave him, during his lifetime and in history, an elevated place among the great and holy men of Islam. Indeed, many human beings of distinction, prestige, or wealth have not obtained even one-tenth of the immortality which Bilal the Abyssinian slave gained. Indeed, many historical figures were not conferred even a portion of the fame which has been bestowed upon Bilal.

Indeed, the black color of his complexion, his modest lineage, and his contemptible position among people as a slave did not deprive him, when he chose to embrace Islam, of occupying the high place which his truthfulness, certainty, purity, and self-sacrifice qualified him for.

For him, all this would not have been on the scale of estimation and honor except as an astonishing occurrence when greatness is found where it could not possibly be.

People thought that a slave like Bilal – who descended from strange roots, who had neither kinfolk nor power, who did not possess any control over his life but was himself a possession of his master who had bought him with his money, who came and went amid the sheep, camels, and other livestock of his master – they thought that such a human creature would neither have power over anything, nor become anything.

But he went beyond all expectations and possessed great faith that no one like him could possess! He was the first muezzin of the Messenger and of Islam, a position which was aspired to by all the masters and nobles of the Quraish who embraced Islam and followed the Messenger. Yes, Bilal ibn Rabaah.

Oh what valor and greatness are expressed by these three words Bilal ibn Rabaah!

He was an Abyssinian from the black race. His destiny made him a slave of some people of the tribe of Jumah in Makkah, where his mother was one of their slave girls. He led the life of a slave whose bleak days were alike and who had no right over his day and no hope for his tomorrow.

First Hearing of Muhammad

The news of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) call began and reached his ears when people in Makkah began to talk about it and when he began listening to the discussions of his master and his guests, especially Umayah ibn Khalaf, one of the elders of the Bani Jumah, of which Bilal was one of the slaves.

How often did he hear Urnayah talking to his friends for some time and to some persons of his tribe. Many times they talked about the Messenger with words that were overflowing with anxiety, rage, and malice!

Bilal, on the other hand, was receiving between those words of insane fury and rage the attributes of this new religion. He began to feel that they were new qualities for the environment which he lived in.

He was also able to receive during their threatening, thunderous talks their acknowledgement of Muhammad’s nobility, truthfulness, and loyalty. Yes indeed, he heard them wondering and amazed at what Muhammad came with. They said to one another, “Muhammad was never a liar, magician, or mad, but we have to describe him this way until we turn away from him those who rush to his religion.”

He heard them talking about his honesty and loyalty, about his manliness and nobility, and about his purity and composure of his intelligence. He heard them whispering about the reasons which caused them to challenge and antagonize him: First, their allegiance to the religion of their fathers; Second, their fear over the glory of the Quraish which was bestowed upon them because of their religious status as a center of idol worship and resort in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula; Third, the envy of the tribe of Bani Hashim that anyone from them should claim to be a prophet or messenger.

One day Bilal ibn Rabah recognized the light of Allah and heard His resonance in the depths of his good soul. So he went to the Messenger of Allah and converted to Islam. It did not take long before the news of his embracing Islam was spread. It was a shock to the chiefs of the Bani Jumah, who were very proud and conceited. The devils of the earth sat couched over the breast of Umayah ibn khalaf, who considered the acceptance of Islam by one of their slaves a blow that overwhelmed them with shame and disgrace.

Their Abyssinian slave converted to Islam and followed Muhammad. Umayah said to himself, “It does not matter. Indeed the sun this day shall not set but with the Islam of this stray slave.” However, the sun never did set with the Islam of Bilal, but it set one day with all the idols of the Quraish and the patrons of paganism among them.

                                                                                                                                                                    To be continued…

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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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Zayd ibn Harithah: From Slavery to Commandership

Zayd ibn Harithah: From Slavery to Commandership

The Prophet (peace be upon him) loved Zayd so dearly due to his singular loyalty, greatness of spirit, conscientiousness, honesty, and trust worthiness. All this and more, made Zayd ibn Harithah or Zayd ‘the Beloved One’, as the Companions used to call him, hold a distinguished place in the Prophet’s heart.

rainbow-nature

Neither Islam nor the Prophet took notice of descent or prestige.

`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Prophet never sent Zayd on an expedition but as a commander and if his life had not been so short, he would have made him his successor.”

What Distinguishes Zayd?

Was it possible for anyone to be held in such great esteem by the Prophet? What was Zayd really like?

He was that boy who had been kidnapped, sold, and manumitted by the Prophet. He was this short, swarthy, snub-nosed man. Above all, he had a compassionate heart and a free soul. Therefore, he was raised to the highest position by his Islam and the Prophet’s love for him, for neither Islam nor the Prophet took notice of descent or prestige.

Muslims like Bilal , Suhayb, Khabbab, `Ammar, Usamah and Zayd were all alike according to this great religion. Each one of them played an important and distinctive role in giving impetus to the rapidly spreading religion. These saintly ones and commanders were the sparkling stars of Islam. Islam rectified life values when the Glorious Qur’an said:

Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah are the most pious of you. ( Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Moreover, it encouraged all promising talents and all pure, trustworthy, and productive potentialities.

Zayd’s Marriage

The Prophet married his cousin Zaynab to Zayd. It seems that Zaynab (May Allah be pleased with her) accepted that marriage because her shyness prevented her from turning down the Prophet’s intercession. Unfortunately, the gap between them widened every day, and finally their marriage collapsed.

The Prophet felt that he was , in a way, responsible for this marriage which ended up in divorce; therefore, he married his cousin and chose a new wife, Umm Kulthum bint `Uqbah for Zayd.

The slanderers and the enemies of the Prophet spread doubt concerning the legality of Muhammad’s marriage to his son’s ex-wife. The Qur’an refuted their claims by striking a distinction between sons and adopted sons. It abrogated adoption altogether saying:

Muhammad is not a father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets. (Al-Ahzab 33:90)

Hence, Zayd was called after his father’s name once again, namely, Zayd ibn Harithah.

A Commander

Now, do you see the Muslim troops that marched towards the Battle of Al-Jumuuh? Their commander was Zayd ibn Harithah. Do you see those Muslims troops that marched to At- Tarf, Al-‘Iis and Hismii and other battles? The commander of all those battles was Zayd ibn Harithah. Truly, as `A’ishah said, “The Prophet never sent Zayd on as expedition but as a commander.”

At last, the Battle of Mu’tah took place. It seems that the Romans and their senescent empire were filled with apprehensions and forebodings about the rapid spread of Islam.

They saw it as a genuine and fatal threat to their very existence, especially in Syria, which bordered the center of the new, sweeping religion. Therefore, they used Syria as a springboard to the Arab Peninsula and the Muslim nation.

The Prophet realized that the aim of the Roman skirmishes was to test the Muslim combat readiness. Therefore, he decided to take the initiative and exhibit in action Islam’s determination to resist and to gain ultimate victory.

No Discrimination

On 1 Jumada al-Awwal,  A.H. 8, the Muslim army marched towards Al-Balqa’ in Syria until they reached its borders where Heraclius’s armies of the Romans and Arabicized tribes residing at the borders were. The Roman army pitched camp at a place called Masharif, whereas the Muslim army pitched camp near a town called Mu’tah. Hence, the battle was named Mu’tah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) knew how important and crucial this battle was; therefore he chose for its command three of those who were worshippers by night and fighters by day.

Those three fighters sold their lives and property to Allah and renounced their needs and desires for the sake of great martyrdom which would pave their way to win Allah’s pleasure and to see Allah, the Generous. These three commanders were in succession: Zayd ibn Harithah, Ja`far ibn Abi Talib and `Abdullah ibn Rawahah.

Thus, the Prophet stood to bid farewell to his army and gave them his order saying, “Zayd ibn Harithah) is your first commander, but in case he is wounded, Ja`far lbn Abi Talib will take over the command, and if he is also wounded, `Abdullah ibn Rawahah will take it over.

Although Ja`far ibn Abi Talib was one of the Prophet’s closest friends who had valor, fearlessness, and good lineage, yet the Prophet chose him as the second commander after Zayd.

Thus, the Prophet stressed the fact that the new religion of Islam came to abolish corrupt human relationships based on false and superficial discrimination. It established new, rational human relationships instead.

It was as if the Prophet foresaw the proceedings of the imminent battle, for he assigned the command of the army to Zayd, Ja`far, and then `Abdullah and strangely enough, all of them were raised to Allah in the same order set by him.

Last Heroic Minutes

When the Muslims saw the vanguard of the Roman army, which they had estimated at 200,000 warriors, they were stunned by its enormity that surpassed all expectation. But since when did the battles of faith depend on number?

At that moment, the Muslims flung themselves into the battlefield regardless of the consequences or jeopardy. Their commander, Zayd, carried the Prophet’s standard and fought his way through the enemy’s spears, arrows, and swords. He was not so much searching for victory as for concluding his deal with Allah, Who has purchased the lives and properties of Muslims in exchange for Paradise.

Zayd saw neither the sand of Al-Balqa’ nor the Roman forces. The only things that he saw were the hills of Paradise and its green cushions. These images flickered through his mind like the fluttering flags that had announced his wedding day.

When he thrust and struck, he not only smote at the necks of his enemies, but also flung the doors open that stood in his way to the vast door through which he would reach the home of peace, the eternal Paradise and Allah’s company.

Zayd clung to his destiny. His spirit, on its way up to heaven, was overjoyed as it took its last glance at the body of its master that was not covered with soft silk but rather with pure bloodshed in the way of Allah. His serene smile widened when he saw the second commander, Ja`far, dart towards the standard and hold it high before it touched the ground.

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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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