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The Companions’ Series: `Abbad Ibn Bishr

The Companions’ Series: `Abbad Ibn Bishr

The Companions' Series: `Abbad Ibn Bishr

`Abbad’s devotion to the Qur’an was a sign of his intense devotion to and love for God, His Prophet and His religion.

It was the fourth year after the Hijrah. The city of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was still under threat from within and without. From within, the influential Jewish tribe Banu An-Nadir, broke their agreement with the Prophet and made plans to kill him. For this, they were banished from the city. This was in the month of Safar.

Two months of uneasy quiet passed. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) received news that tribes from distant Najd were planning an attack. To pre-empt them, the Prophet gathered a force of over four hundred men, and leaving one of his companions, `Uthman ibn `Affan, in charge of the city, set out eastwards. Among this force was the young Madinan, `Abbad ibn Bishr.

Arriving at Najd, the Prophet (peace be upon him) found the habitations of the hostile tribes strangely deserted of men. Only women were about. The men had taken to the hills. Some of them regrouped and prepared to fight. The time of the `Al-Asr (Afternoon) prayer came. The Prophet feared that the hostile tribesmen would attack them during prayer. He arranged the Muslims in ranks and divided them into two groups and performed the prayer as the Salat Al-Khawf (the Prayer of Fear). With one group he performed one rak`ah (unit of the prayer) while the other group stood on guard. For the second rak`ah, the groups changed places. Each group completed its prayer with one rak`ah after the Prophet had finished…

On beholding the disciplined ranks of the Muslims, the hostile tribesmen became uneasy and afraid. The Prophet had made his presence felt and something of his mission was now known at first hand in the central highlands of Arabia whence he departed peacefully.

On the way back, the Prophet pitched camp in a valley for a night. As soon as the Muslims had settled their camel mounts, the Prophet (peace be upon him), asked: “Who will be our guard tonight?” “We, O Messenger of God,” said `Abbad ibn Bishr and `Ammar ibn Yasir both of whom had been paired off as ‘brothers’ by the Prophet when he arrived in Madinah after the Hijrah.

`Abbad and `Ammar (may Allah be pleased with them both) left for the mouth of the valley to take up duty. `Abbad saw that his “brother” was tired and asked him: “What part of the night do you wish to sleep, the first or the second?” “I shall sleep during the first part,” said `Ammar who was soon fast asleep quite close to `Abbad.

The night was clear, calm and peaceful. The stars, the trees, and the rocks all appeared to celebrate in silence the praises of their Lord. `Abbad felt serene. There was no movement, no threatening sign. Why not spend the time in worship and reciting the Qur’an? How delightful it would be to combine the performance of Salat with the measured recitation of the Qur’an which he so much enjoyed.

In fact, `Abbad was enthralled by the Qur’an from the moment he first heard it being recited by the mellow and beautiful voice of Mu`sab ibn `Umayr. That was before the Hijrah when `Abbad was just about fifteen years old. The Qur’an had found a special place in his heart and day and night thereafter he would be heard repeating the glorious words of God so much so that he became known among the Prophet’s companions as the “friend of the Qur’an”.

Late at night, the Prophet (peace be upon him) once stood up to perform the Tahajjud Prayer in `A’ishah’s house which adjoined the masjid. He heard a voice reciting the Qur’an, pure and sweet and as fresh as when the angel Jibril revealed the words to him. He asked: “`Aishah, is that the voice of `Abbad ibn Bishr?” “Yes, O Messenger of God,” replied `Aishah. “O Lord, forgive him,” prayed the Prophet out of love for him.

And so in the stillness of the night, at the mouth of the valley in Najd, `Abbad stood up and faced the Qiblah. Raising his hand in surrender to God, he entered into the state of Prayer. Finishing the compulsory opening chapter of the Qur’an, he began reciting Surah Al-Kahf in his sweet, captivating voice. Surah Al-Kahf is a long Surah of one hundred and ten verses which deals in part with the virtues of faith, truth and patience and with the relativity of time.

While he was thus absorbed in reciting and reflecting upon the divine words, eternal words of illumination and wisdom, a stranger stalked the outskirts of the valley in search of Muhammad and his followers. He was one of those who had planned to attack the Prophet but who had fled into the mountains on the approach of the Muslims. His wife whom he had left in the village had been taken as a hostage by one of the Muslims. When he eventually found that his wife was gone, he swore by Al-Lat and Al-`Uzzah that he would pursue Muhammad and his companions and that he would not return unless he had drawn blood.

From a distance, the man saw the figure of `Abbad silhouetted at the mouth of the valley and he knew that the Prophet and his followers must be inside the valley. Silently he drew his bow and let fly an arrow. Unerringly, it embedded itself in `Abbad’s flesh.

Calmly, `Abbad pulled out the arrow from his body and went on with his recitation, still absorbed in his Salat. The attacker shot a second and a third arrow both of which also found their mark. `Abbad pulled out one and then the other. He finished his recitation, made ruku` (bowing) and then sujud (prostration). Weak and in pain, he stretched out his right hand while still in prostration and shook his sleeping companion. `Ammar awoke.

Silently, `Abbad continued the Salat to its end and then said: “Get up and stand guard in my place. I have been wounded.”

`Ammar jumped up and began to yell. Seeing them both the attacker fled into the darkness. `Ammar turned to `Abbad as he lay on the ground, blood flowing from his wounds.

“Ya Subhanallah (Glory be to God)! Why didn’t you wake me when you were hit by the first arrow?” “I was in the midst of reciting verses of the Qur’an which filled my soul with awe and I did not want to cut short the recitation. The Prophet had commanded me to commit this surah to memory. Death would have been dearer to me than that the recitation of this surah should be interrupted.”

`Abbad’s devotion to the Qur’an was a sign of his intense devotion to and love for God, His Prophet and His religion. The qualities he was known for were his constant immersion in worship, his heroic courage and his generosity in the path of God.

At times of sacrifice and death, he would always be in the front line. When it was time for receiving his share of rewards, he would only be found after much effort and difficulty. He was always trustworthy in his dealings with the wealth of Muslims. All this was recognized. `A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet, once said: “There are three persons among the Ansar whom no one could excel in virtue: Sa`d ibn Mu`adh, Usayd ibn Khudayr and `Abbad ibn Bishr.”

`Abbad died the death of a martyr at the battle of Yamamah. Just before the battle he had a strong presentiment of death and martyrdom. He noticed that there was a lack of mutual confidence among the Muhajirin and Ansar. He was grieved and upset. He realized that there would be no success for the Muslims in these terrible battles unless the Muhajirin and Ansar were grouped in separate regiments so that it could be clearly seen who really bore their responsibility and who were truly steadfast in combat.

At the break of day when the battle commenced, `Abbad ibn Bishr stood on a mound and shouted: “O Ansar, distinguish yourselves among men. Destroy your scabbards. And do not forsake Islam.”

`Abbad harangued the Ansar until about four hundred men gathered around him at the head of whom were Thabit ibn Qays, Al-Baraa ibn Malik and Abu Dujanah, the keeper of the Prophet’s sword. With this force, `Abbad unleashed an offensive into the enemy’s ranks which blunted their thrust and drove them back to the “garden of death”.

At the walls of this garden, `Abbad ibn Bishr fell. So, numerous were his wounds, he was hardly recognizable. He had lived, fought and died as a believer.

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Source: Taken from the book entitled “Biographies of the Companions (Sahaabah)”

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How the Qur’an Influenced the Morale of the Companions

How the Qur’an Influenced the Morale of the Companions

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The Companions were greatly comforted by the Qur’anic verses that were being revealed during the Makkah era.

By Dr. `Ali Muhammad As-sallabi

The Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were greatly comforted by the Qur’anic verses that were being revealed during the Makkah era. This was especially the case in regard to those verses in which Allah the Almighty defended them, which He did in three main ways:

1) Allah exhorted the Prophet (peace be upon him) to take care of them and to treat them well; He even reproached the Prophet on certain occasions when he would not give attention to some Companions because he was busy inviting Quraish’s nobility to Islam.

The Prophet would sit in the mosque alongside his poor or weak Companions – among whom were the likes of Khabbab, `Ammar, Ibn Fakihah Yasar (whose owner was Safwan ibn Umayyah), and Suhaib ; meanwhile, the Quraish would mock them, saying to one another, “You know the situation of his Companions (i.e., that they are poor and weak). Is it then these that Allah has bestowed His favor upon from among us with guidance and the truth? Had what Muhammad came with been good, these people would not have beaten us to it, and Allah would not have chosen them instead of us.

Allah refuted the mockery of those disbelievers, making it clear to them that His being pleased with His slaves does not hinge upon their degree of wealth or status in this world. And for his part, the Prophet made the same point clear, both in his sayings and in his deeds. Allah said:

And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon seeking His Face. You are accountable for them in nothing, and they are accountable for you in nothing, that you may turn them away, and thus become of the unjust. Thus We have tried some of them with others, that they might say: “Is it these (poor believers) that Allah has favored from amongst us?” Does not Allah know best those who are grateful? When those who believe in Our verses come to you, say: “Salamun ‘Alaikum” (peace be on you); your Lord has written Mercy for Himself, so that, if any of you does evil in ignorance, and therefore repents and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then surely, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-An`am 6:52-54)

Also, Allah reproached His Messenger concerning a blind Companion named Ibn Umm Maktum. On only one occasion did the Prophet turn away from Ibn Umm Maktum without answering his question, and even that was because of a sound reason: as He (peace be upon him) was busy inviting some of Quraish’s nobles to Islam. Even though this occurred only one time, it was sufficient cause for Allah’s reproach and the revelation of the following verses:

(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man (`Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum). But what could tell you that per chance he might become pure (from sins)? Or that he might receive admonition, and that the admonition might profit him? As for him who thinks himself self-sufficient, to him you attend; what does it matter to you if he will not become pure (from disbelief, you are only a Messenger, your duty is to convey the Message of Allah). But as to him who came to you running. And is afraid (of Allah and His Punishment), Of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another. (`Abas 80:1-10)

There is no room in Islam for the preferred treatment of the rich and of the noble classes. Islam came to instill into mankind one view of life and to make clear to them that human beings all come from the same origin, which by extension means that they should be treated equally. With this in mind, we can understand why Allah sternly reproached His Messenger. The Messenger of Allah gave greater attention to Ubay ibn Khalaf than to Ibn Umm Maktum , even though, in all actuality, Ibn Umm Maktum is better than even billions of the likes of Ubay ibn Khalaf, may Allah curse him!

2) Allah consoled the Companions by informing them about stories of previous Prophets and nations. When the Companions read verses about the ill treatment that the Prophets received at the hands of their people and about how the Prophets were then patient, they felt that they too should be patient. Being made to feel a sense of brotherhood with Muslims from previous nations, and learning about the hardships they endured, the Companions, felt comforted. And they thought less of the hardships they were experiencing, knowing fully well that others before them had experienced even more hardships.

Stories in the Qur’an about previous Prophets – such as Noah, Ibrahim, Moses, and Jesus- all had the effect of making the Companions firm and strong upon their faith.

3) Allah praised some of their actions and promised them eternal bliss in Paradise. For example, when Abu Bakr freed seven Muslim slaves, Allah revealed the following verses, in which He praised Abu Bakr and condemned Umayyah ibn Khalaf, the Makkan chieftain who would torture Bilal ibn Rabah:

Therefore I have warned you of a Fire blazing fiercely (Hell); none shall enter it save the most wretched, who denies and turns away. And the pious will be far removed from it (Hell). He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification, and have in his mind no favor from anyone for which a reward is expected in return, except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High. He surely will be pleased.” (Al-Layl 92:14-21)

In another example, historians mention that, when the polytheists made fun of Christian delegates from Najran because they embraced Islam, Allah revealed the following verses:

Those to whom We gave the Scripture [i.e. the Torah and the Gospel] before it, – they believe in it (the Qur’an). And when it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we have been from those who submit themselves to Allah in Islam as Muslims. These will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient, and repel evil with good, and spend (in charity) out of what We have provided them. And when they hear Al-Laghw (dirty and vain talk), they withdraw from it and say: “To us our deeds, and to you your deeds. Peace be to you. We seek not the ignorant.” (Al-Qasas 28:52-55)

In general, many verses revealed during the Makkah era promised the Companions that, as a reward for their patience and many sacrifices for the cause of Islam, Allah will bestow upon them eternal bliss in Paradise. At the same time, Allah informed them of the evil destination of their enemies. For example, Allah said:
Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe in this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth, (i.e., Day of Resurrection), The Day when their excuses will be of no profit to the wrongdoers. Theirs will be the curse, and theirs will be the evil abode (i.e., painful torment in Hellfire).” (Ghafir 40:51-52)
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Source: Taken with modifications from the author’s Noble Life of the Prophet, translated by Faisal Shafeeq

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