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`Ammar Ibn Yasir: A Man of Paradise (Part 1)

If there were people born in Paradise, reared and brought to maturity there, and then brought to earth to adorn and enlighten it, then `Ammar, his mother Sumayyah and his father Yasir would be of them!

But why do we say “if” and why do we make that condition when Yasir’s family were really of Paradise?

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Ammar’s tranquility was restored, he no longer felt pain when they punished him, and he no longer cared about it

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was not merely pacifying them when he said, “Patience, O Yasir’s family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise.”  He was declaring a fact which he knew and reiterating an actuality perceived by him.

Under Quraish’s Torture

`Ammar’s father, Yasir lbn `Aamir, left his native place in Yemen seeking a brother of his. In Makkah he found an appealing place, so he settled there and was in alliance with Abu Hudhaifah ibn Al-Mughirah, who married him to one of his slave women, Sumayiyah Bint Khayyat.

Out of this blessed marriage Allah granted the parents a son, Ammar. Their embracing of Islam was early, like that of the righteous ones guided by Allah. And like the early righteous Muslims as well, they had their good share of the Quraish’s persecution and terror.

The Quraish used to waylay the believers to attack them. If the believers were among the honorable and noble people in their community, the Quraish would pursue them with threats and menace. Abu Jahl would meet one of the believers and tell him, “You abandoned your forefathers’ religion and they were better than you. We will spoil your character, degrade your honor, reduce your trade, and exhaust your money.”

They would then launch a heated war of nerves upon him.

If the believers were among the weak, poor, or slaves of Makkah, then the Quraish would burn them with the fire of persecution.

Yasir’s family belonged to that class. The order for their persecution was handed to Bani Makhzum. They used to take them all – Yasir, SumayyahSumayyah and `Ammar – to the burning desert of Makkah, where they would pour upon them different kinds of the hell of torture.

Sumayyah’s share of that torment was colossal and terrible. We shall not elaborate about her now, since we shall have – Allah willing – another encounter with her and her likes during those immortal days to talk about the grace of sacrifice and the glory of her firmness.

Suffice it to mention now, without any exaggeration, that Sumayyah, the martyred one, maintained a firm stance that day which gives the whole of humanity an everlasting honor and an ever glorious dignity. Her stance made of her a great mother to believers in all ages, and to the honorable people of all times.

Real Test of Belief

It was a way of life for the whole humanity of believers who had to inherit along with the religion all its history of heroism, sacrifices, and risks. These abundant noble sacrifices are the cement and the foundation that grant an everlasting firmness and immortality to the faith and the creed. It is the fragrance that fills the hearts of believers with loyalty, joy, and happiness. It is the lighthouse that guides the coming generations to the reality of religion, to its truth and greatness.

Therefore, Islam had to make its sacrifices and have its victims, the meaning of which is illustrated and illuminated in more than one verse of the Qur’an for the Muslims. Allah says:

Do the people think that they will be left to say: “We believe”, and they shall not be tried? (Al-`Ankabut 29:2)

Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who remained patient? (Aal `Imran 3:142)

And we indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). (Al-`Ankabut 29:3)

Do you think you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard… (At-Tawbah 9:16)

Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good. (Aal `Imran 3: 179)

And what you suffered (of the disaster) on the day (of the Battle of Uhud when) the two armies met, was by the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers. (Aal `Imran 3:166)

Models of Islam

That is true. This was the way the Qur’an taught its bearers and descendants that sacrifice is the essence of faith and that resistance of unjust, oppressive challenges is through firmness, patience, and persistence, which form the best and the most superb virtues of faith.

Therefore, this religion of Allah, when it was laying down its foundation, establishing its principles, and giving its models and examples, had to support and purify itself with sacrifice. In carrying out this great mission, a number of its disciples, supporters, and righteous people were chosen to be lofty models and elevated examples for the coming believers.

Sumayyah, Yasir and `Ammar were of this great and blessed group, chosen by Islam’s destiny to make of their sacrifices, firmness, and persistence a document of Islam’s greatness and immortality.

Unbearable Torture

Allah’s Messenger used to go out every day to Yasir’s family, commending their fortitude and heroism. His big heart was melting out of mercy and kindness to see them so severely tortured. One day while he was looking for them, `Ammar called to him, “O Messenger of Allah, we are suffering from extreme torment.” The Messenger called to him saying, “Patience, Abu Yaqdhan, patience O Yasir’s family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise.”

`Ammar’s companions described the torture that was inflicted upon him in many of their reports. `Amr lbn Al-jiakam, for instance, said, “`Ammar used to be tortured so much that he would not be aware of what he was saying.” `Amr lbn Maimun said, “The polytheists scorched `Ammar lbn Yasir with fire, and Allah’s Messenger used to pass by him, pass his hand over Yaasir’s head and say,. “O fire, be cool and peaceful on `Ammar, as you were cool and peaceful on Ibrahim.”

Despite that overwhelming terror, it did not vanquish `Ammar’s spirit, though it overburdened his back and strained his strength.

`Ammar did not feel utterly ruined except on that day when his executioners employed all their devilry in crime and injustice. They burned his skin with fire, laid him on the heated sands of the desert under the burning stones, ducked him in water until he could hardly breathe and until his wounds and gashes were skinned.

`Ammar .. Pure Steadfastness

On that day, when he fell unconscious under the effect of that horror, they said to him, “Say something good about our gods.” They kept saying things which he repeated without being conscious of what he was saying.

When he became slightly conscious after he had fainted due to their torture, he remembered what he had said and was mad about it. This slip became so concrete to him that he saw it as an unforgivable sin which could not be atoned for. In a few moments his feeling of guilt made him suffer so much that the torture of the polytheists seemed to him a blessing and a balm.

If he had been left to such feelings for a few hours, they would have destroyed him. He was enduring the dreadful anguish of the body because his spirit was lofty, but now when he thought defeat had reached his spirit, he was overburdened with worries and fear of death and destruction. But Allah willed that the final, exciting scene would come to its dignified end. An angel stretched out its blessed right hand, shook the hand of `Ammar and called to him, “Get up, O hero! There is no blame or embarrassment for you.”

When Allah’s Messenger met him, he found him crying. He kept wiping his tears and telling Ammar, “The polytheists took you, ducked your head in water, and you said such and such a thing?”

`Ammar answered him, still crying, “Ye, O Messenger of Allah.” Allah’s Messenger said then while smiling, “If they repeat it, say the same thing.” Then he recited: “. . . except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith.” (An-Nahl 16:106)

Ammar’s tranquility was restored, he no longer felt pain when they punished him, and he no longer cared about it. His spirit conquered and his faith conquered. The Qur’an had included this blessed transaction, so whatever happened, happened.

`Ammar remained steadfast until his tormenters were exhausted and they retreated, yielding to his determination.

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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.

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

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Hijrah: Migration for Peace

Before the Hijrah

When the revelation came to him, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) climbed As-Safa mount and called out people and they gathered around him. He said: “Do you think that if I told you that there was a cavalry emerging from the foot of this mountain, would you believe me?” They said: “We have never known you to be a liar.” He (peace be upon him) said: “I am a warner to you of an imminent and severe punishment (warning them against Paradise).” Abu Lahab (the Prophet’s uncle) said: “May you perish! Did you call us together only for this?” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

He started inviting them to Islam and persuading them that the worship of idols is a kind of absurdness, but only Allah, the Creator of the Universe,  is worshiped. A number of people were convinced with his message and followed him. Yet, the masters and the rich among Makkans refused his new religion because they found that it established equity and justice among all people, something they detested. They fought him and tortured his followers. A lot of companions were subject to extreme and brutal torture at their hands.

I will cite a few stories of torture that show how cruel and savage were those people with the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Umayyah and Bilal

And We have not sent you, (O Muhammad), except as a mercy to the worlds.

Umayyah ibn Khalaf (a Meccan pagan) had a slave called Bilal ibn Rabah who entered Islam. Umayyah inflicted extreme torture upon Bilal. He would take him in the glare of the torrid sun of Mecca, stripe him off, put him on the blazing sand in summer and place a huge rock on his chest. Nevertheless, Bilal did not relinquish his religion one iota.

`Ammar’s Family and the Tribe of Makhzum

`Ammar ibn Yassir was from the tribe of Makhzum. He embraced Islam, and his father, mother and brother followed him. When their tribe knew about that they got crazy. They burnt the house of `Ammar and took them to desert. They chained them and competed in torturing them. They would whip them, burn them and put big rocks on their bodies. However, the believing family remained steadfast to Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would pass by them while tortured consoling them saying, “Yasir’s family, be patient! Your reward will be Paradise!”

Banu Makhzum found that torment is of no use with those believers. They tried to seduce them to leave Islam and they will pardon them but this was fruitless as well. Abu Jahal shouted at Summayyah, the mother of `Ammar, “Praise our gods (i.e. idols); disparage Muhammad!” Summayyah spat in his face and said: “How bad you and your gods are!.” Abu Jahal became furious with her. He raised his spear high and threw it on Summayyah’s belly. She passed away upon that, to be the first martyr in the history of Islam.

Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari

Abu Dharr Al­-Ghifari was from the tribe of Ghifar. He heard from travelers about a new Prophet called Muhammad (peace be upon him) who invited people to new religion. So, he moved to Mecca to know about the matter. He remained in the Ka`bah watching people there. `Ali ibn Abu Talib saw him and noticed that he was a stranger. He invited him to his house and told him about Muhammad. Abu Dharr went to the Prophet and accepted Islam. However, he resolved to infuriate the people of Mecca. He went to Ka`bah and shouted: “There is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is his Messenger.”

They gathered around him and started beating him. He was rescued by Al-`Abbas ibn `Abdul Muttalib who told them that Abu Dharr belonged to the tribe of Ghifar who may revenge to Abu Dharr.

The Prophet Himself

The torture was not limited to companions but it was inflicted as well upon the Prophet Muhammad himself. Ibn Mas`ud reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was praying at the Ka`bah, and Abu Jahl and his companions were sitting there. They said to one another, ‘Who will bring the intestines of the camel of so and so and put it on Muhammad’s back when he prostrates?’ So one of them went and brought it and waited until the Prophet (peace be upon him) prostrated, then he put it on his back, between his shoulders. They started laughing and leaning against one another (because of their laughter), and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was prostrating and did not raise his head until Fatimah came and removed it from his back. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) raised his head. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Finally, Allah (Glory be to Him) commanded the Prophet and his followers to migrate from Mecca to Medinah, a safe place where they would be able to practice the rituals of their religion freely and lead an Islamic way of life without being maltreated or wronged. Anyway, migration was another test to the faithful Companions. They were forced to leave their homelands, friends and families to another place where they will be strangers. Yet, the companions set another example in the sacrifice for their beliefs.

In Medinah, they put the first bricks of the Islamic state, that were built upon justice and brotherhood. The first thing the Prophet (peace be upon him) did when he went to Medinah was the establishment of social peace inside the Muslim community. He made the migrants as brothers of the people of Medinah. He also dealt with all the conflicts between the two big tribes of Medinah, Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj, and settled all the disputes between them.

As for non-Muslims, the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose the way of peace. He made a treaty with the Jews of Medinah that was based on mutual cooperation and common justice. He never breached any covenant with them. Yet, it was the Jews who breached the pact and violated their covenant with him.

Outside Medinah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not mobilize armies to attack the nearby tribes or towns to spread Islam or to occupy them. Instead, he would send letters to kings and rulers inviting them with cultured and kind words to Islam, the last religion.

It was a migration to the open and boundless peace of Islam. The wars that the Prophet (peace be upon him) participated in were generally to defend the Islamic country and religion. Even during wars, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade his soldiers to kill women, children, the aged or farmers, burn plants or damage houses, unless they are used for war purposes. All his life was peace and mercy for all mankind. Almighty Allah says,

 And We have not sent you, (O Muhammad), except as a mercy to the worlds. (Al-Anbiya’ 21:107)

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