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The Declaration of Faith: Between Text and Meaning

Islam is a spiritual reality that when embraced should be expressed quite naturally with no confusion.

Islam is a spiritual reality that when embraced should be expressed quite naturally with no confusion.

 

We have all witnessed the declaration of faith administered to a new Muslim and it is generally accepted as a compelling occasion. Naturally, some will be surprised by my usage of the phrase ’generally accepted as compelling‘ to describe the administering of the declaration of faith.

Don’t get me wrong, someone being guided aright is indeed a blessed and joyous occasion, but that phrase is indeed the subject of this article. That’s why we attempt to challenge accepted norms of practice here in the West regarding the Arabization of our identity. When judging anything, we should undoubtedly look to the pristine legacy of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and the distinguished tutelage of his noble companions.

In the time of the Prophet, there were multitudes of men, women, and children who were graced by divine light in embracing the absolute truth of our very existence, ‘I declare that there is no deity other than God and that Muhammad is His messenger’.

But the question is how did that take place? Did it ever happen that someone who indicated their interest in Islam would come to the Prophet or his Companions and then be brought in front of the people and be administered word for word the declaration of faith? The answer of any student of the Prophet’s biography and the early history of our lofty predecessors is no.

This article is not by any means attempting to call the declaring of faith in front of a crowd an innovation. Rather the hope is to reform the practice to make it in line with the example of the Companions of the Prophet, about whom Almighty God has stated:

God is pleased with the early Muslim immigrants, their helpers in Madinah and those who follow them to the best of their ability and God is pleased with them… (At-Tawbah 9:100)

Islam is a spiritual reality that when embraced should be expressed quite naturally with no confusion. It should appear as a sincere conviction coming from the heart of the person. The current process of the declaration of faith has an element which takes away from its glory. It brings down the person taking that great leap of faith, especially in today’s world.

By giving him/her the idea that although you have ratified your innate knowledge of Islam through the Qur’an and prophethood of Muhammad, you can’t truly express that unless it is in Arabic. Of course since he or she does not know Arabic this is often the beginning of an inferiority complex that is thrust upon the fresh revert from the get go.

One time in Kuwait, I administered a declaration of faith in front of an audience at a large mosque. The audience was about 200, maybe a quarter of them spoke English fluently and the majority understood basic conversational English. So first, in Arabic I summarized for the crowd his story and that the brother was going to declare his newfound faith. Then I asked him to repeat after me in English, ‘I declare that there is no deity other than God and Muhammad is His Messenger’.

Many people were elated and came to embrace their new brother while you can hear some objections rustling through the crowd. The Imam of the Mosque took me aside and began telling me that it is a condition or obligation for the declaration to be in Arabic. I asked the sheikh for some evidence and he said that it is well known. Of course well known is not a proof of Islamic Law so I researched the matter and, until now, to my surprise, I have found no such claim in the books of Islamic jurisprudence. That said, it is confirmed by various sheikhs as being ‘well known’.

Of course it doesn’t make sense to have someone declare their faith in a language that they don’t have the slightest clue about, but we should be fair to our legal tradition and not use our logic as an indisputable gauge. That being said, with the absence of any text or juristic precedence, I will now suggest how and why it should be done differently than the ‘well known’ way we are accustomed to.

In the history of our pious predecessors we find that the people who declared their faith to the Prophet and his Companions did so without any coaching necessary. It came naturally as a result of the certainty of their heart. Since they were Arabs that declaration was in their own language.

As mentioned before, the scholars of usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) say: ’That which is significant is not in names or titles rather the meaning and implication behind them’. The meaning is completely rendered in the English translation and thus the intended action has been performed.

In reflection, the form which I followed in Kuwait is still faulty! The Prophet said something quite crux to this article:

“Anyone who declares that there is no deity other than God and that and that Muhammad is the messenger of God genuinely and sincerely from his or her heart will be saved from the Hellfire.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is my hope that when someone enters Islam they do so with conviction and sufficient knowledge and understanding. So if they feel comfortable with it, I would encourage them to stand in front of the Muslims and tell their story and make their declaration in confidence and clarity without the help of any Imam.

This would be keeping in line with the generation that carried and conveyed this message which is, after divine blessing, why we are all able to be Muslim in the first place.

All praise and gratitude go to our beloved Guide and may He bestow His peace and blessings upon the Prophet and the early generations!

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Source: suhaibwebb.com

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Does Islam Command Attacking Churches?

Can attacking the places of worship, i.e. churches, be justified in any religious teachings including Islamic? What does Islam say and teach about that? How can a religion be judged correctly?

It is safe to say that a given religion can be judged correctly only by two things: its own teachings and the practice of the mainstream doctrine of this religion. A religion cannot be judged by the centrifugal practices or beliefs of some followers, be they liberal or extremist, hither or thither.

churches

Islam pleads the cause of religion and defends all religions as well as their places of worship.

Attacking the places of worship is a criminal act which is done by individual followers of all religions all over the world. It is unfair to claim that it is Muslims only who attack the places of worship.

In fact, Islam prohibits any assault against the places of worship. The alleged attacks on the places of worship if really carried out by Muslims go against the well-established Islamic teachings. Such acts serve as odd precedents in the Islamic history. Suffice it to say they break with tradition.

Churches in Islamic History

The Messenger of Allah once wrote to the bishop of Banu Al-Harith Ibn Ka’b and the bishops and priests of Najran, their followers and their monks that everything, small or great, pertaining to their churches, chapels and monasteries would remain in their possession, that Allah and His Messenger would guarantee that no bishop would be removed from his see, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his office and none of their rights or powers would be changed as long as they were sincere and good, and no cruelty would be shown to them. This was scribed by Al-Mughirah.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Second Muslim Caliph, concluded a treaty with the people of Jerusalem which read:

This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has granted to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and the healthy of the city, and for all the rituals that belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited [by Muslims] and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their crosses, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted.

The people of Jerusalem must pay the poll tax like the people of (other) cities, and they must expel the Byzantines and the robbers. All this from the book they shall have as a pact of Allah, and as protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers if they pay the jizyah. Witnesses of this are: Khalid bin Al-Waleed, `Amr ibn Al-`As, `Abd Al-Rahman ibn `Awf and Mu`awiya ibn Abi Sufyan. It was written with all present in the 15th year after Hegira.

Khalid bin Al-Waleed, the renowned Muslim commander, concluded a similar treaty with the people of Damascus which read:

This is what Khalid bin Al-Waleed shall grant to the people of Damascus: He shall grant them protection [and safety] for their lives, property [and possessions], their churches, and the walls of their cities. Nothing of their quarters will be destroyed nor shall anyone live in them. This they shall have as a pact of Allah, protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers and nothing but good will remain for them if they pay the jizyah.

Habib bin Maslamah, a Companion of Prophet Muhammad and accomplished Muslim military commander, entered into a similar pact with the people of Dabil which read:

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful! This is a document from Habib bin Maslamah to the Christians, Magians and Jews of Dabil, present and absent. I assure you safety of your lives, properties, churches, places of worship and walls of your city. You are guaranteed protection and we are bound to fulfill our pact as long as you adhere to the jizyah and pay the kharaj. Allah is witness and He alone suffices as a witness.

In the Qur’an, we read verses telling us that Allah allowed the believers to fight against the unbelievers to prevent the demolition of the places of worship in general. Allah says:

Indeed, Allah defends those who have believed. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful.

Permission (to fight) has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.

(They are) those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.

(And they are) those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of (all) matters. (Al-Hajj 22:38-41)

However, somebody may wonder how the empowerment of Muslims will prevent the demolition of the places of worship.

The answer is that Islam binds Muslims to not only refrain from attacking the places of worship but also to protect them against attacks by any other people. It is safe to say that Islam is keen on the other faiths, even if they are contradictory to its principles.

Islam is nothing but a faith and a body of beliefs. The cause of faith serves as a common ground for their coexistence with the other, whose faith or beliefs might be right or wrong from Muslims’ point of view.

So long as some faith or belief is cherished, there is a way for communication. Islam looks for those who are willing to believe in religions simply because they are supposed to seek the truth. We, Muslims, think that we have that truth. Consequently, dialogue with those people will bring Muslims either new converts or allies and friends from the other religions. Therefore, it may be hard liaise with those who are unwilling to believe in any religion for they are unlikely to accept religion and religious people.

Furthermore, Muslims are deeply concerned about security, peace, justice and freedom on earth. Such security, peace, justice and freedom are more likely to be maintained by religion for religion usually preaches such values. Without religion, such values are at peril.

Therefore, Islam pleads the cause of religion and defends all religions as well as their places of worship. Muslims wish that even if Islam is not professed, one religion is still followed. This is better for Muslims themselves.

Islam & Non-Muslims

Just as Muslims guarantee security, peace, justice and freedom for non-Muslims, they expect that they are given equal treatment by non-Muslims.

Though Muslims see the followers of the other divine religions as unbelievers, Muslims still side with them against the atheists and the followers of the non-divine religions. Even though Muslims hope that the whole world converts to Islam, they prefer that if Islam is not embraced, the other divine religions are followed instead given the commonalities shared by those religions.

Muslims have shown sympathy for the followers of the other divine religions throughout history though such a feeling is not reciprocated by those followers, either Jews or Christians. Such sympathy is recorded in the Qur’an more than once.

For example, during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, the Magian Persian Empire defeated the Christian Roman Empire in one of the wars which would break out between them every now and then. At the time, Muslims sympathized with the Roman Empire. Qur’anic verses were revealed, prophesying a prospective victory by the Roman Empire over the Persian Empire.

We read the following verses in the Qur’an:

The Byzantines have been defeated in the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome. Within a few years. To Allah belongs the command before and after. And that day the believers will rejoice in the victory of Allah. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. (It is) the promise of Allah. Allah does not fail in His promise, but most of the people do not know. (Ar-Rum 30:1-7)

In a word, Islam commands Muslims to give kind treatment and act justly towards non-Muslims so long as they do not wrong Muslims.

Allah says:

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah by Ibn Ishaq

 

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Source: islamforchristians.com

 

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New Muslims Worldview

Coexistence in Islam: Between Concept & Practice

We know that Islam secures freedom of belief. This is clear from many Qur’anic verses, but did Prophet Muhammad really force people to become Muslims? If not, then why did he fight non-Muslims? Is the principle of coexistence practically manifested in Islam?

coexistence in Islam

Allah commands Muslims to treat other people kindly provided they do not manifestly declare malice towards them.

The principle of coexistence underlying the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is coexistence.

Allah commands Muslims to treat other people kindly provided they do not manifestly declare malice towards them and to think well of all of people alike. A person who thoroughly explores the verses of the Noble Qur`an will find that, in its entirety, it presents an integrated Qur’anic methodology concerning the treatment of non-Muslims.

It is noteworthy to mention that the variation in the manner of treating non-Muslims does not stem from a methodological inconsistency; rather, it depends on the different attitudes of the people we deal with.

People are different (with respect to behavior) and thus they must not be judged alike. It is considered a methodical injustice to generalize what has been made specific or to specify what has been left general in legal texts.

Just as there are individuals who accept Muslims’ beliefs, there are others who differ with them. Among this latter group, there are some who merely present their opinions or beliefs and those who go as far as to attack those who differ with them. Therefore, both groups are treated differently.

Coexistence in the Qur’an

There are many verses in the Qur’an, whether those revealed in Makkah or Madinah, that urge Muslims to be tolerant towards others and to treat them kindly. These include:

So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. (Al-Baqarah 2:109)

There shall be no compulsion in (acceptance of) the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false deities) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

The above verses from Surat Al-Baqarah and Al-Mumtahanah were revealed in Madinah and all of them exhort Muslims to be kind and merciful to their fellow men.

As for the legal texts, Qur’an and Sunnah, that command Muslims to be harsh towards some people, they can be compared to the previous verses as two integrated methodologies that deal with two different types of people:

The first methodology, which is the general case, enjoins Muslims to treat all people with kindness through dialogue and respect of freedom (of faith). This is the correct basis for inviting others to Islam; this does not abrogate a Qur’anic verse nor has it been abrogated though some jurists claim the contrary. Allah says:

And speak to people good (words) and establish prayer and give zakah. (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

In another verse, Allah instructs those who call others to His way on how they should invite others according to the different types of people:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is (rightly) guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)

Allah says about the People of the Book:

And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him. (Al-`Ankabut 29:46)

The second methodology is concerned with those who attack Muslims, in which case it is necessary to defend oneself even in a harsh manner. Allah Almighty says:

(Fighting in) the sacred month is for (aggression committed in) the sacred month, and for (all) violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (Al-Baqarah 2:194)

No Compulsion

Unlike the policy followed by some countries, Muslims do not treat others based on whether they are with or against them. Rather, Islam teaches its followers that people are different and must therefore be treated accordingly with respect to time and type of person.

Based on the above, one can understand the hadith which exhorts fighting non-Muslims until they testify that there is no god but Allah as fighting the aggressors who attack Muslims and not people in general. It also means that Muslims must merely deliver the message of Islam to them and not compel them to embrace the faith as per the words of Allah Almighty Who says:

Fight them until there is no (more) temptation (fitnah) and (until) worship is (acknowledged to be) for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. (Al-Baqarah 2:193)

In the hadith mentioned above, the Prophet (peace be upon him) refers to the apostates led by Musailamah who attempted to destroy the Islamic state and deviate from its general order. This was clearly a case of high treason, a charge that carries the death penalty according to penal codes and international laws.

The same applies to the above noble verse which speaks about a group of oppressors who share the same abominable characteristics. At that time, the Romans started to mobilize armies to fight the Prophet. The Muslims did not fight them except after they learned that the Romans wanted to abolish the Islamic state.

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Source: ali-gomaa.com.

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Mus`ab ibn `Umayr: The First Envoy of Islam (1/2)

By: Khalid Muhammad Khalid

wild flowers

The flower of the Quraysh, the most handsome and youthful, historians and narrators describe him as “The most charming of the Makkans”.

The flower of the Quraysh, the most handsome and youthful, historians and narrators describe him, among the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as “The most charming of the Makkans”.

He was born and brought up in wealth, and he grew up with its luxuries. Perhaps there was no boy in Makkah who was pampered by his parents like Mus`ab ibn `Umayr. This mirthful youth, caressed and pampered, the talk of the ladies of Makkah, the jewel of its clubs and assemblies: is it possible for him to be one of the legends of faith?

By Allah, how interesting a tale, the story of Mus`ab ibn `Umayr or Mus`ab, the Good, as he was nicknamed among the Muslims! He was one of those made by Islam and fostered by the Prophet Muhammad.

But who was he? His story is a pride of all mankind.

The youth heard one day what the people of Makkah had begun to hear about Muhammad, the Truthful, that Allah had sent him as bearer of glad tidings and a warner to call them to the worship of Allah, the One God. When Makkah slept and awoke there was no other talk but the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his religion, and this spoiled boy was one of the most attentive listeners.

That was because, although he was young, the flower of clubs and assemblies, the outward appearance of wisdom and common sense were among the traits of Mus`ab.

He heard that the Prophet and those who believed in him were meeting far away from the dignitaries and great men of the Quraysh at As-Safaa in the house of Al-Arqam lbn Al-Arqam, Dar Al-Arqam.

He wasted no time. He went one night to the Dar Al Arqam, yearning and anxious. There, the Prophet was meeting his Companions, reciting the Qur’an to them and praying with them to Allah, the Most Exalted. Mus`ab had hardly taken his seat and contemplated the verses of Qur’an recited by the Prophet when his heart became the promised heart that night.

The pleasure almost flung him from his seat as he was filled with a wild ecstasy. But the Prophet patted his throbbing heart with his blessed right hand, and the silence of the ocean’s depth filled his heart.

In the twinkling of an eye, the youth who had just become Muslim appeared to have more wisdom than his age and a determination that would change the course of time!

Bravery & Wisdom

Mus`ab’s mother was Khunas bint Malik, and people feared her almost to the point of terror because she possessed a strong personality. When Mus`ab became a Muslim, he was neither careful before nor afraid of anyone on the face of the earth except his mother. Even if Makkah, with all its idols, nobles, and deserts were to challenge him, he would stand up to it.

As for a dispute with his mother, this was an impossible horror, so he thought quickly and decided to keep his Islam secret until Allah willed. He continued to frequent Dar Al-Arqam and take lessons from the Prophet. He was satisfied with his faith and avoided the anger of his mother, who had no knowledge of his embracing Islam.

However, Makkah at that time kept no secret, for the eyes and ears of the Quraysh were everywhere, very alert and checking every footprint in its hot sands. Once, `Uthman ibn Taihah saw him steadily entering alarm’s house, then he saw him a second time praying the prayer like Muhammad. No sooner had he seen him than he ran quickly with the news to Mus`ab’s mother, who was astonished by it.

Mus`ab stood before his mother, the people, and the nobles of Makkah who assembled around him, telling them the irrefutable truth and reciting the Qur’an with which the Prophet cleansed their hearts and filled them with honor, wisdom, justice, and piety.

His mother aimed a heavy blow at him, but the hand which was meant as an arrow soon succumbed to the powerful light which increased the radiance of his face with innocent glory because it demanded respect with its quiet confidence.

However, his mother, under the pressure of her motherliness, spared him the beating and the pain, although it was within her power to avenge her gods whom he had abandoned. Instead she took him to a rough corner of her house and shut him in it. She put shackles on him and imprisoned him there until he heard the news of the emigration (hijrah) of some of the believers to Abyssinia.

He thought to himself and was able to delude his mother and his guards, and so escaped to Abyssinia. There he stayed in Abyssinia with his fellow emigrants and then returned with them to Makkah.

He also emigrated to Abyssinia for the second time with the Companions whom the Prophet advised to emigrate and they obeyed. But

whether Mus`ab was in Abyssinia or Makkah, the experience of his faith proclaimed itself in all places and at all times.

sunlight-nature

Mus`ab became confident that his life had become good enough to be offered as a sacrifice to the Supreme Originator and Great Creator.

The Power of Belief

Mus`ab became confident that his life had become good enough to be offered as a sacrifice to the Supreme Originator and Great Creator. He went out one day to some Muslims while they were sitting around the Prophet (peace be upon him), and no sooner did they see him than they lowered their heads and shed some tears because they saw him wearing worn out garments. They were accustomed to his former appearance before he had become a Muslim, when his clothes had been like garden flowers, elegant and fragrant.

The Prophet saw him with the eyes of wisdom, thankful and loving, and his lips smiled gracefully as he said, “I saw Mus`ab here, and there was no youth in Makkah more petted by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet!”

His mother had withheld from him all the luxury he had been overwhelmed by, when she could not return him to her religion. She refused to let anyone who had abandoned their gods eat of her food, even if he was her son.

Her last connection with him was when she tried to imprison him for a second time after his return from Abyssinia, and he swore that if she did that, he would kill all those who came to her aid to lock him up. She knew the truth of his determination when he was intent and decided to do something, and so she bade him good bye weeping.

The parting moment revealed a strange adherence to infidelity on the part of his mother, and the greater adherence to faith on the part of her son. When she said to him, while turning him out of her house, “Go away, I am no longer your mother,” he went close to her and said, “O mother, I am advising you and my heart is with you, please bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.”

She replied to him, angrily raging, “By the stars, I will never enter your religion, to degrade my status and weaken my senses!”

To be continued…

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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.

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Mus`ab ibn `Umayr: The First Envoy of Islam (2/2)

By: Khalid Muhammad Khalid

So Mus`ab, as mentioned in part 1, left the great luxury in which he had been living. He became satisfied with a hard life he had never seen before, wearing the roughest clothes, eating one day and going hungry another. This spirit, which was grounded in the strongest faith, adorned with the light of Allah, made him another man, one who appeals to the eyes of other great souls.

Great Mission

While he was in this state, the Prophet (peace be upon him) commissioned him with the greatest mission of his life, which was to be his envoy to Al-Madinah. His mission was to instruct the Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) who believed in the Prophet and had pledged their allegiance to him at (the Pledge of) `Aqabah, to call others to Islam, and to prepare Al-Madinah for the day of the great Hijrah.

There were among the Companions of the Prophet at that time others who were older than Mus`ab and more prominent and nearer to the Prophet by family relations. But the Prophet chose Mus`ab, the Good, knowing that he was entrusting to him the most important task of that time, putting into his hands the destiny of Islam at Al-Madinah.

The radiant city of Al-Madinah was destined to be the home of Hijrah, the springboard of Islamic preachers and the liberators of the future. Mus`ab was equal to the task and trust which Allah had given him and he was equipped with an excellent mind and noble character. He won the hearts of the Madinites with his piety, uprightness and sincerity. And so they embraced the religion of Allah in flocks.

At the time the Prophet sent him there, only twelve Muslims had pledged allegiance to the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the Pledge of `Aqabah. He had hardly completed a few months when they answered to the call of Allah and the Prophet. During the next pilgrimage season, the Madinite Muslims sent a delegation of 70 believing men and women to Makkah to meet the Prophet.

They came with their teacher and their Prophet’s envoy, Mus`ab ibn `Umair. Mus`ab had proven, by his good sense and excellence, that the Prophet knew well how to choose his envoys and teachers. Mus`ab had understood his mission well. He knew that he was a caller to Allah and preacher of His religion, which calls people to right guidance and the straight path.

The Right Man

Like the Prophet in whom he believed, he was no more than a deliverer of the message. There he stood fast, with As`ad ibn Zorarah as host, and both of them used to visit the tribes, dwellings, and assemblies, reciting to the people what he had of the Book of Allah, instilling in them that Allah is no more than One God.

He had confronted certain instances which could have put an end to his life and that of those with him but for his active, intelligent, great mind. One day, he was taken by surprise while preaching to the people to find Usaid ibn Hudair, leader of the `Abd Al-Ashhal tribe, at Al-Madinah confronting him with a drawn arrow.

He was raging with anger and animosity against the one who had come to corrupt the religion of his people by telling them to abandon their gods and talking to them about the idea of only One God Whom they did not know before and had never heard of. Their gods were to them the center of their worship.

Whenever any of them needed them, he knew their places. They would invoke them for help. That was how they thought and imagined!

As for the God of Muhammad, to whom this envoy was calling, nobody knew His place, nor could anybody see Him! When the Muslims who were sitting around Mus`ab, saw Usaid ibn Hudair advancing in his unbridled anger, they were frightened, but Mus`ab, the Good, stood firm. Usaid stood before him and As`ad ibn Zorarah shouting, “What brought you here? Are you coming to corrupt our faith? Go away if you wish to be saved!”

And like the calmness of the sea and its force, Mus`ab started his fine speech saying, “Won’t you sit down and listen? If you like our cause, you can accept; and if you dislike it, we will spare you of what you hate.”

Allah is the Greatest! How grand an opening whose ending would be pleasant! Usaid was a thoughtful and clever man, and here he saw Mus`ab inviting him to listen and no more. If he was convinced he would accept it, and if he was not convinced, then Mus`ab would leave his neighborhood and his clan, and move to another neighborhood without harm, nor being harmed.

There and then Usaid answered him saying, “Well, that is fair,” and he dropped his arrow to the ground and sat down listening. Mus`ab had hardly read the Qur’an, explaining the mission with which Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah came, when the conscience of Usaid began to dear and brighten and change with the effectiveness of the words. He became overwhelmed by its beauty.

When Mus`ab finished speaking, Usaid ibn Hudair exclaimed to him and those with him, “How beautiful is this speech, and how true! How can one enter this religion?” Mus`ab told him to purify his body and clothes and say, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah.” Usaid retired for some time and then returned pouring clean water on his head and standing there proclaiming, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

The news spread like lightning and then Sa`d ibn Mu`adh came and listened to Mus`ab, and he was convinced and embraced Islam. Then came Sa`d ibn `Ubadah.

There and then blessings came with their entering Islam. The people of Al-Madinah came together asking one another, “If Usaid lbn Hudair, Sa`d ibn Mu`adh and Sa`d ibn `Ubadah have embraced Islam, what are we waiting for? Go straight to Mus`ab and believe. By Allah, he is calling us to the truth and the straight path!”

The first envoy of the Prophet succeeded without comparison. It was a success which he deserved and to which he was equal.

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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. 

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Salman Al-Farisi: A Journey of Truth and Existence (2/3)

Part 1

moon-nature

He moved from land to land, town to town, seeking acquaintances, persevering, worshiping and searching for his destiny.

I come from Isfahan, from a place called Jai, and I was the most beloved son of my father, who was a figure of high esteem among his people. We used to worship fire. I devoted myself to fire worship until I became custodian of the fire which we lit and never allowed to be extinguished.

My father had an estate. One day, he sent me there. I passed by a Christian church and heard them praying. I went in and saw what they were doing. I was impressed by what I saw in their prayers. I said, ”This is better than our religion.” I did not leave them until sunset, nor did I go to my father’s estate, nor did I return to my father until he sent people to search for me.

I asked the Christians about their affair and prayers which impressed me, and about the origin of their religion. They answered, ”In Syria.” I said to my father when I returned to him, ”I passed by people praying in a church of theirs, and I was impressed by their prayer, and I could see that their religion is better than ours.” He questioned me and I questioned him, and then he put fetters on my feet and locked me up.

Then I sent to the Christians saying I had entered their religion, and I requested that whenever a caravan came from Syria, they should tell me before its return in order for me to travel with them, and so they did.

I broke loose from the iron fetters and went away. I set out with them for Syria. While I was there, I asked about their learned man, and I was told that he was the bishop, leader of the church. I went to him and told him my story. I lived with him, serving, praying, and learning.

But this bishop was not faithful in his religion, because he used to gather money from the people to distribute it, but he would keep it for himself. Then he died.

They appointed a new leader in his place. I have never seen a man more godly than he in his religion, nor more active in his bid for the Hereafter, nor more pious in the world, nor more punctual at worship. I loved him more than I had ever loved any other person before.

When his fate came, I asked him, ”To whom would you recommend me? And to whom would you leave me?” He said, ”O my son, I do not know anyone who is on the path I am and who leads the kind of life I lead, except a certain man in Mosul.”

When he died, I went to that man in Mosul, and told him the story, and I stayed with him as long as Allah wished me to stay. Then death approached him. So I asked him, ”To whom would you advise me to go to?” He directed me to a pious man in Nisibin.

So I went to him and told him my story. I stayed with him as long as Allah wished me to stay. When death overtook him, I asked him as before. He told me to meet a person at `Amuriah in Byzantium. So, to Byzantium I went and stayed with that man, earning my living there by rearing cattle and sheep.

Then death approached him, and I asked him, ”To whom should I go?” He said, “O my son, I know no one anywhere who is on the path we have been on so that I can tell you to go to him. But you have been overtaken by an epoch in which there will appear a prophet in the pure creed of lbrahim (Abraham). He will migrate to the place of palm trees. If you can be sincere to him, then do so. He has signs which will be manifested: he does not eat of charity, yet he accepts gifts, and between his shoulders is the seal of prophethood. When you see him, you will know him.”

A caravan passed by me on that day. I asked them where they had come from and learned that they were from the Arabian Peninsula. So I told them, ”I give you these cattle and sheep of mine in return for your taking me to your land.” They agreed.

So they took me in their company until they brought me to Wadi Al-Quraa and there they wronged to me. They sold me to a Jew. I saw many palm trees and cherished the hope that it was the land that had been described to me and which would be the future place of the advent of the prophet, but it was not.

I stayed with this Jew who bought me until another from Bani Quraidhah came to him one day and bought me from him. I stayed with him until we came to Madinah. By Allah, I had hardly seen it when I knew that it was the land described to me.

I stayed with the Jew, working for him on his plantation in Bani Quraidhah until Allah sent His Prophet (peace be upon him), who later emigrated to Madinah and dismounted at Quba’ among the Bani `Amr ibn `Awf.

The Sign

Indeed, one day, I was at the top of a palm tree with my master sitting below it when a Jewish man came.

He was a cousin of his and said to him, ”May Allah destroy Bani Qubaa”. They are spreading a rumor about a man at Quba’ who came from Makkah claiming that he is a prophet.” By Allah, he had hardly said it, when I was seized by a tremor, and the palm tree shook until I almost fell on my master.

I climbed down quickly saying, ”What are you saying? What news?” My master gave me a nasty slap and said, ”What have you got to do with this? Return to your work!”

So, I returned to work. At nightfall I gathered what I had and went out until I came to the Prophet at Quba’. I entered and found him sitting with some of his Companions. Then I said, ”You are in need and a stranger. I have some food which I intend to give out as charity. When they showed me your lodgings, I thought you most deserve it, so I have come to you with it.” I put the food down. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his Companions, ”Eat in the name of Allah.” He abstained and never took of it. I said to myself, ”This, by Allah, is one sign. He does not eat of charity!”

I returned to meet the Prophet again the next day, carrying some food, and said to him, “I can see that you do not partake of charity. I have something which I want to give to you as a present.” I placed it before him. He said to his Companions ”Eat in the name of Allah“ and he ate with them. So I said to myself, ”This indeed is the second sign. He eats of presents.”

I returned and stayed away for a while. Then I came to him, and I saw him sitting, having returned from a burial, and surrounded by his Companions. He had two garments, carrying one on his shoulder and wearing the other. I greeted him, then bent to see the upper part of his back. He knew what I was looking for, so he threw aside his garment off his shoulder and, behold, the sign between his shoulders, the seal of Prophethood, was clear just as the Christian monk had described.”

At once, I staggered towards him, kissing him and weeping. He called to me to come forward and I sat before him. I told him my story as you have already heard me describe the events.

Within Islam

When I became a Muslim, slavery prevented me from taking part in the battles of Badr and Uhud. Therefore the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised me, ”Go into terms with your master for him to free you,” and so I did. The Prophet told the Companions to assist me, and Allah freed me from bondage. I became a free Muslim, taking part with the Prophet in the Battle of Al-khandaq and others.

With these simple clear words, Salman spoke of his great, noble, and sacrificial adventure for the sake of Allah, seeking after the reality of religion that led him to Allah and helped him to find his role in this life. What kind of a noble person was this man? What great superiority was achieved by his aspiring spirit, that restless spirit that withstood difficulties and defeated them, confronted the impossible and it gave way!

What devotion to the truth, and what sincerity that led its owner voluntarily away from the estate of his father, with all its wealth and luxury, to the wilderness, with all its difficulties and suffering. He moved from land to land, town to town, seeking acquaintances, persevering, worshiping and searching for his destiny among people, sects, and different ways of life.

And adhering all the way to the truth with all its noble sacrifices, for the sake of guidance until he was sold into slavery. He was then rewarded by Allah the best of rewards, making him reach the truth and come into the presence of His Prophet.

And then He granted him longevity, enough for him to see the banner of Islam fluttering in all parts of the world and His Muslim worshippers filling its space and corners with guidance, progress and justice!

What do you expect of the Islam of a man with such a noble character but to be a man of such truth!
It was an Islam of the God- fearing and innocent. In his devotion he was intelligent, pious, and the person nearest to `Umar ibn Al-khattab.

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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 Bondage to the Prophet’s Home

In the Battle of Mu’tah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stood to pay his farewell to the departing Muslim army on its way to fight the Romans and to announce the name of the three successive commanders of the army:

“Zayd ibn Harithah is your first commander, but in case he is wounded, Ja`far ibn Abi Talib will take over the command, and if the latter is wounded then `AbduAllah ibn Rawahah will replace him.”

But who was Zayd ibn Harithah? Who was the beloved one of the Prophet?

Narrators and historians described his appearance as short, dark swarthy, and snub-nosed. As for his reality, he was truly a great Muslim.

In Bondage

If we go back in time, we will see Harithah, Zayd’s father, just putting the luggage on the camel that was t

Zayd’s father and uncle returned back home leaving their son safe and sound after he had become master of himself.

Zayd’s father and uncle returned back home leaving their son safe and sound after he had become master of himself.

o carry his wife, Su`dah, to her family. Harithah paid his farewell to his wife who carried Zayd – at that time a young child – in her arms.

But every time he was about to leave his wife and child who were going with a caravan, to return to his house and work, he was driven by a mysterious and inexplicable urge to keep his wife and son in sight; yet it was time for them to set out on their way and Harithah had to pay his last farewell to his wife and head back home. His tears flowed as he said goodbye and stood as if pinned to the ground until he lost sight of them. At that moment he felt broken-hearted.

Su`dah stayed with her family for a while. One day, suddenly her neighborhood was attacked by one of its opposing tribes. Taken by surprise, Bani Ma`n were defeated and Zayd ibn Harithah was captured along with other war prisoners. His mother returned home alone.

When Harithah heard the sad news, he was thunderstruck. He traveled everywhere and asked everyone about his beloved Zayd. He recited these lines of poetry on the spur of the moment to lament the loss of his son:

My heart was broken when I lost Zayd. I don’t know if he is alive or dead or if I will ever see him again. By Allah, I still do not know if he was killed on the plain or slain on the mountain. His picture comes to the mind’s eye whenever the sun rises or sets. Even when the wind blows, it brings along his memory.

Alas, I am shrouded by my sadness, grief, and fear for him.

At that time, slavery was a recognized and established social fact that turned into a necessity. This was the case in Athens, which had long enjoyed a flourishing civilization, in Rome, and in the entire ancient world, including the Arab Peninsula.

At the Prophet’s Home

When the opposing tribe attacked the Bani Ma`n, it headed to the market of `Ukazh, held at that time, to sell its prisoners of war. The child Zayd, was sold to Hakeem ibn Huzam, who gave him to his aunt Khadijah as a gift. At that time, Khadijah was married to Muhammad ibn `Abdullah but the revelation had not yet descended on him. However, he enjoyed all the promising great qualities of prophets.

Khadijah, on her part, gave her servant Zayd as a gift to her husband, Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him). He was very pleased with Zayd and manumitted him at once. His great and compassionate heart overflowed with care and love towards the boy.

Later on, during one of the Hajj seasons, a group of Harithah’s tribe ran into Zayd in Makkah and told him about his parents anguish and grief ever since they had lost him. Zayd asked them to convey his love and longing to his parents. He told them, “Tell my father that I live here with the most generous and loving father.”

No sooner did his father know his son’s whereabouts than he hastened on his way to him, accompanied by his brother.

As soon as they reached Makkah, he asked about the trustworthy Muhammad. When he met him, he said, “O son of ibn `Abdul-Muttalib! O son of the master of his tribe! Your land is one of security and sanctuary and you are famous for helping the distressed and sheltering the captive. We have come here to ask you to give us back our son. So please confer a favor on us and set a reasonable ransom for him.”

Thicker Than Blood…

The Prophet knew the great love and attachment Zayd carried in his heart for him, yet at the same time, he respected Harithah’s parental right. Therefore, he told Harithah, “Ask Zayd to come here and make him choose between you and me. If he chooses you, he is free to go with you, but if he chooses me then, by Allah, I will not leave him for anything in the world.”

Harithah’s face brightened, for he did not expect such magnanimity; therefore, he said, “You are far more generous than us.” Then the Prophet summoned Zayd. When he came he asked him, “Do you recognize these people?” Zayd said, “Yes, this is my father and this is my uncle.”

The Prophet told him what he had told Harithah. Zayd replied, “I will not choose anyone but you, for you are a father and an uncle to me.” The Prophet’s eyes were full of thankful and compassionate tears. He held Zayd’s hand and walked to the Ka`bah, where the Quraish were holding a meeting, and cried out, “I bear witness that Zayd is my son, and in case I die first, he will inherit from me, and in case he dies first, I will inherit from him.”

Hiarithah was overjoyed, for not only had his son been manumitted but he had also become the son of the man who was known by the Quraish as “The Honest and Trustworthy”.

Moreover, he was a descendant of Bani Hashim and was raised to a high station among his people. Zayd’s father and uncle returned back home leaving their son safe and sound after he had become master of himself and after the Prophet had set to rest their fears concerning his fate.

Zayd ibn Muhammad

The Prophet (peace be upon him) adopted Zayd and from that moment on he was known as Zayd ibn Muhammad.

Suddenly, on a bright morning whose brightness has never been seen before or since, the revelation descended on Muhammad:

Read! In the name of your Lord who created – created mankind from something which clings; read! And your Lord is the Most Noble; Who taught by the pen; taught mankind what he did not know. (Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

Then the revelation continued:

O you cloaked! Arise and warn! And magnify your Lord. (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-3)

O Messenger! Proclaim the message which has been sent down to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from mankind. Verily, Allah guides not the people who disbelieve. (Al-Ma’idah 5:61)

As soon as the Prophet had shouldered the responsibility of his message, Zayd submitted himself to Islam. Narrators said that he was the second man and more probably the first man to embrace Islam.

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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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)

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.

 

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

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Luqman the Wise

nature_peace

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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