HADITH,INSPIRATION,ISLAM ,HISTORY

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Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Jaafar ibn Abi Talib (RA) and does not cover all the points of his life story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Notice his majestic youth and blooming vigour, patience, compassion, piety, modesty, and devoutness. Notice his fearlessness, generosity, purity, chastity, honesty, and trustworthiness. Notice his magnificent nature, virtue, and greatness. Do not let the fact that all these excelling traits were found in one man astonish you, for you are looking at a man who resembled the Prophet in his looks and conduct. The Prophet gave him the epithet ‘Father of the Poor’ and the agnomen ‘The Two Winged’. You are about to meet the twittering heavenly sparrow, Jaafar Ibn Abi Talib, one of the great Muslims who contributed much to shaping the conscience of life.

He embraced Islam and was raised to a high station among the early believers. On the same day, his wife, Asmaa’ bint Umais, submitted herself to Islam. They had their share of abuse and oppression, which they withstood with courage and joy. When the Prophet SAW advised his Companions to emigrate to Abyssinia, Jaafar and his wife were among those who acted upon his advice. There, they settled for a number of years, during which they had three children: Muhammad, Abd Allah and Awf.

In Abyssinia, Jaafar Ibn Abi Talib was the eloquent Companion who won through in the way of Allah and His prophet, for among Allah’s graces bestowed on him were his noble heart, alert mind, sagacious spirit, and fluent speech. The Battle of Mu’tah, in which he was martyred, was his most magnificent, glorious and immortal feat. Yet the Day of Al-Mujaawarah, which he executed before An-Najaashi in Abyssinia, was not less in magnificence glory and grace. In fact, it was a singular battle of words and an impressive scene.

Now, the Muslim emigration to Abyssinia did not set the fears of the Quraish to rest nor lessen their grudges and spite against the Muslims. On the contrary, the Quraish were afraid lest the Muslims should gain momentum there and increase in number and power. If that did not happen, the Quraish’s haughtiness and arrogance could not accept the fact that those fugitives had fled their tyranny and ruthlessness and had settled in another country which the Prophet SAW saw as a promising land for Islam. Therefore, the Quraish leaders decided to send delegates to An-Najaashi with expensive gifts and the hope that he would expel those fugitives from his country. The two chosen delegates were Abd Allah lbn Abu Rabii’ah and Amr Ibn Al-Aas before they had embraced Islam.

An-Najaashi, or Negus, the emperor of Abyssinia, was an enlightened believer. Deep inside he embraced a rational and pure Christianity, void of deviation, fanaticism, and narrow-mindedness. He was renowned and highly admired for his justice. Hence, the Prophet SAW chose his country for his Companions’ immigration. Now, the Quraish were afraid lest they should not be able to convince him of their viewpoint. Therefore, their two delegates carried many expensive gifts for the bishops and archbishops of the church and were advised not to meet An-Najaashi until they had given those presents to the bishops and convinced them of their viewpoint so that they would support them before An-Najaashi.

As soon as the two delegates arrived in Abyssinia, they met the spiritual leaders and lavished the gifts on them. Then they sent An-Najaashi his presents. Afterwards, they began to incite the priests and bishops against the Muslim immigrants and asked them to support them in their plea to An-Najaashi to expel them. A day was set for the Muslims to meet An-Najaashi and confront, before his eyes, their spiteful and mischievous enemies.

On the appointed day, An-Najaashi sat on the throne in awesome dignity, surrounded by the bishops and his retinue. Right in front of him in the vast hall sat the Muslim immigrants, enveloped by Allah’s calmness, tranquillity, and mercy which He had sent down upon them. The two Quraish delegates stood to reiterate their accusation which they had presented before An-Najaashi in a private meeting right before this huge audience.

They said, “Your Majesty, you well know that a group of fools have turned renegade and have taken asylum in your country. They did not embrace your religion, but rather invented their own religion that neither of us knows. We are people of high rank who are related to their fathers, uncles, and tribes, so that you would surrender those wretched renegades to us.”

An-Najaashi addressed the Muslims saying, “What is that religion that made you abandon your people’s religion and refuse to embrace our religion?” Jaafar stood to perform the task for which he had been chosen by mutual consultation immediately before this meeting. Jaafar stood up slowly and gracefully, looked with appreciation at the hospitable king and said, “O your Majesty, we used to be a people of ignorance. We worshipped idols, ate dead animals, committed great sin, severed family relations, and acted according to the law of the jungle. We used to believe that survival was only for the fittest until Allah sent from among us a Prophet SAW who was known for his noble descent, honesty, trustworthiness, and chastity. He invited us to worship Allah alone and abstain from worshipping stones and idols. He ordered us to speak nothing but the truth and to render back our trusts to those whom they are due. Moreover, he ordered us to keep our ties of kinship intact, be good to our neighbours, and abstain from what is forbidden. He also ordered us not to commit evil, nor to say false statements, nor to eat up the property of orphans, nor to accuse chaste women of wrong-doing without proof or witness. Hence, we believed in him and in Allah’s message to him. We worshipped Allah alone. We rejected that which we used to associate with Him as His partners. We allowed as lawful what is halal and prohibited as unlawful what is haram. Consequently, we were harassed and abused by our people, who tried to turn us away from what Allah had sent down to the Prophet SAW so that we may return to idol worshiping and the evil and unlawful deeds we used to do. We were oppressed, abused and straitened in a way that prevented us from the proper worship of Allah. They even tried to force us to turn apostate. Therefore, we fled to your country and asked for asylum to escape oppression and tyranny.”

When Jaafar finished his glorious words which were as clear as daylight, An-Najaashi was gripped by compassion and grace. He addressed Jaafar saying, “Do you have a scroll on which you have written the words of your Prophet?” Jaafar replied, “Yes.” An-Najaashi ordered, “Read it aloud.” Jaafar recited a number of verses from Surat Maryam in such a slow, sweet, subdued, and captivating voice that it made An-Najaashi and all his bishops cry.

When he wiped his tears he swiftly said to the Quraish delegates, “These words, of what had descended on Isa AS, come from the very same source as that of Isa AS. You are free men in a free land. By Allah, I will never surrender you to them.”

The meeting was over. Allah had helped the Muslims and made their feet firm; whereas the Quraish delegates were bitterly defeated. Yet Amr Ibn Al-Aas was a resourceful, crafty man who could neither accept defeat nor despair easily. Therefore, no sooner had he returned to their residence than he sat turning the matter over in his mind. Then he addressed his comrade saying, “By Allah, I will go to An-Najaashi tomorrow and I will pluck the Muslims out from this land once and for all.” His comrade replied, “You must not do that, for despite their disobedience, they are still related to us.” Amr said, “By Allah, I will tell An-Najaashi that they claim that Isa Ibn Maryam is a slave like the rest of Allah’s slaves.” Thus the web was spun by the shrewd delegate so as to lead the Muslims unawares right into the trap. The Muslims were put in a fight corner, for if they said that Isa AS was Allah’s slave, they would incite the king and bishops against them, and if they denied the fact that he was human, then they would turn from their religion.

On the following day, Amr hastened to meet the king and said, “Your Majesty, those Muslims utter an awful saying against Isa AS.” At once, the bishops were agitated by this short but fatal sentence. They asked the Muslims once again to meet the king so as to clarify their religious standpoint concerning Isa AS.

When the Muslims found out about the new plot, they discussed the possibilities, then agreed to say nothing but the truth as said by the Prophet SAW, regardless of the consequences. Once again, the audience was held and An-Najaashi started it by asking Jaafar, “What does your religion say about Isa?” Jaafar, stood once again like a gleaming lighthouse and said, “We say what has descended on our Prophet SAW: he is Allah’s slave, Messenger, His word which He bestowed, and a spirit created by Him. An-Najaashi cried out in assent and said that the same words had been said by Isa to describe himself, but the lines of bishops roared in disapproval. Nevertheless, the enlightened, believing An-Najaashi declared, “You are free to go now. My land is your sanctuary. Anyone who dares to abuse or mistreat you in any way will be severely punished.” He addressed his retinue and pointed towards the Quraish delegation declaring, “Give them back their presents, for I do not want them. By Allah, Allah did not take a bribe from me when He restored my kingdom; therefore, I will not be bribed against Him!”

After the Quraish delegates had been utterly disgraced, they headed back to Makkah. The Muslims headed by Jaafar went on with their secure life in Abyssinia. They settled in the ‘most hospitable land of the most hospitable people’ until Allah gave them permission to return to their Prophet SAW, who was celebrating with the Muslims the conquest of Khaibar when Jaafar and the rest of the emigrants to Abyssinia arrived. The Prophet’s SAW heart was filled with joy, happiness, and optimism.

The Prophet SAW hugged him and said, “I do not know which makes me feel happier, Khaibar’s conquest or Jaafar’s arrival.” The Prophet SAW and his Companions travelled to Makkah to perform the Umrah to make up for the missed Umrah. Then they returned to Medina. Jaafar was overjoyed with the news he heard concerning the heroism and valour of his believing brothers who had fought side by side with the Prophet SAW in the Battles of Badr, Uhud and others. His eyes filled with tears over the Companions who had been true to their covenant with Allah and had fulfilled their obligations as obedient martyrs. Jaafar craved Paradise more than anything in the world. He waited impatiently the glorious moment in which he would win martyrdom.

The Battle of Mu’tah, as we have already mentioned, was imminent. Jaafar realized that this battle was his lifetime chance to either achieve a glorious victory for Allah’s religion or win martyrdom in the way of Allah. Therefore, he pleaded with the Prophet SAW to let him fight in this battle. Jaafar knew beyond doubt that this battle was neither a picnic nor a limited war, but rather an unprecedented crucial war, for it was against the armies of a vast and powerful empire that excelled the Arabs and Muslims in numbers, equipment, expertise, and finance. He yearned to have a role in it.

Thus, he was the second of the three commanders. The two armies met in combat on a distressful day. Jaafar would have been excused if he had been gripped by terror when he saw the 200,000 warriors. Instead, he was gripped by overflowing exaltation, for he felt urged by the pride of the noble believer and the self-confidence of the hero to fight with his equals.

Again, hardly had the standard touched the sand as it slipped from Zaid lbn Haarithah’s right hand, when Jaafar darted and picked it up and broke through the line of the enemy with incredible fearlessness. It was the fearlessness of a man who was not so much craving victory as martyrdom. When the Roman warriors closed in upon him in an encircling move, his horse restricted his movement, so he dismounted and thrust his sword into his enemies. Then he saw one of them approaching his horse so as to mount it. He did not want this impure disbeliever on his horse’s back, so he thrust his sword into it and killed it.

He immediately broke through the encircled Roman warriors like a hurricane and recited these vehement lines of poetry:

How wonderful Paradise is. I can see it approaching with its sweet and cool drink. The time for the punishment of the Romans is drawing near. Those unbelievers are not related to us in blood. I must fight the Romans whenever I see one of their warriors.

The Roman soldiers were stunned by this warrior who fought like a full-armoured army. Confounded by his fearlessness, they closed in upon him in a way that left him no escape, for they were determined to slay him. Instantly, they struck with their swords and cut off his right hand. Swiftly he caught the standard with his left hand before it reached the ground. When they struck off his left hand, he caught the standard with his upper arms. At the moment, the only thing that really mattered to him was not to let the standard of the Prophet SAW touch the ground as long as he was alive. Although his pure body was struck down, his upper arm still hugged the standard. The sounds of its fluttering seemed to have summoned Abd Allah Ibn Rawaahah, who darted swiftly and gripped it then galloped towards his great destiny!

Thus, Jaafar died an honourable death. He met Allah, the Most Great, the Most High, enveloped in self-sacrifice and heroism.

When Allah the All-Knower, the All-Aware, inspired His Prophet SAW with the outcome of the battle and Jaafar’s martyrdom, his tears flowed as he placed his spirit in Allah’s hands. Then he went to his late cousin’s house and called his children. He hugged and kissed them while his tears flowed. Then he went back to his meeting surrounded by the Companions. Hassan lbn Thaabit, the poet laureate of Islam, lamented the death of Jaafar and his Companions saying.

At daybreak a man of a blessed nature and graceful face Commanded the believers to death. His face was as bright as the moon. He was a proud man who descended from Al Hashim.

He was a valiant man who rushed to help the oppressed.

He fought until he was martyred. And his reward was Paradise where there are lush. green gardens.

Jaafar was loyal and obedient to Muhammad. If Islam lost one of Al-Hashim, There are still honourable and pious men of them. Who are the support and pride of Islam.

After Hassan finished reciting his poem, Ka’b Ibn Malik recited. I am grief-stricken over the group. Who were struck down in succession in the Battle of Mu’tah. They strived and fought fiercely and didn’t turn their back.

Allah sent His blessings on them. For they were pious and loyal men. Allah made the heavy rains water their bone. They stood firm before death in Mu’tah in obedience to Allah. And for fear of His punishment.

They were guided by Jaafar’s flag. He was the best Commander. He broke through the line of the enemy and was struck down. Owing to the fierce and ruthless fight. Instantly, the bright moon darkened.

And the sun eclipsed to lament his death.

At the end, all the poor wept bitterly over the loss of their father, for Jaafar was the ‘father of the poor’. Abu Hurairah said, “The most generous man towards the poor was Jaafar Ibn Abi Talib.” Indeed, when he was about to die, he wanted to be the most generous, self- denying and devoted martyr. Abd Allah Ibn Umar said, “I was with Jaafar in the Battle of Mu’tah and we looked around for him. We found that the enemy had sprayed his body with more than ninety stabs and strikes!”

But those killers did not scratch his invulnerable spirit. No, their swords and spears were the bridge which this glorious martyr crossed to be near Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most High. He was raised to a high station in heaven. His worn-out body was covered all over with the medals of war, namely, the wounds. Now, let us hear what the Prophet SAW said about him: “I have seen him in Paradise. His head and wings – upper arms – were covered with blood!”

Source: Khalid, Khalid Muhammad, Men Around the Messenger, Islamic Book Service, 2004

The Fourth Rightly Guided Caliph – Amir al-Mu’minin, Commander of the Faithful; Asadullah, Lion of Allah

(Life: 599 – 661 AD)
(Caliphate: 656 – 661 AD)

Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Ali ibn Abi Talib RA and does not cover all the points of his life story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

How much do we know of the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the one of whom he said that the Prophet SAW gave him a promise that: “No one will love you except a believer and no one will hate you except a hypocrite?”

It has been reported by various sources that he was born inside the Ka’bah. His full name was Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn Abdul Mutalib. He was the paternal cousin of the Prophet SAW and shared a grandfather with him in Abdul-Mutalib ibn Hakim. His father was Abi Talib, the full brother of Abdullah, the father of the Prophet SAW. After the death of Abdul Mutalib, Ali’s father, Abu Talib, became the chief of the clan. Ali’s lineage to the Prophet SAW is exceptional for not only is he the Prophet’s SAW cousin, he was also adopted into the Prophet’s SAW household when he was young. He was subsequently bestowed the title of “brother” by the Prophet SAW upon migration to Medina as he undertook to care for his welfare. Soon after Ali became the Prophet‘s SAW son-in-law when he married Fatimah after the Battle of Badr. She bore him two sons Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn, and a daughter Umm Kulthoom.

Other than being the close to the companions of the Prophet SAW, Ali also fostered close ties to Umar when Ali gave his daughter Umm Kulthoom to him. It is also evident that he held a high position in Umar’s eyes for he was one of the six companions of the Prophet SAW to be nominated as Caliph upon Umar’s death.

Simplicity was the key to Ali’s existence. He was brought up in a simple and spare surrounding while he was in the Prophet’s SAW household and he continued doing so when he married Fatimah. They lived on basic food like milk, barley bread and some vegetable, although at times had to go without food for days. When Ali became a Caliph, he maintained the same austere lifestyle. Also keeping his meals simple, he said that a Caliph was entitled to two dishes, one for his family and the other for the poor.

Despite being poor and living a meager life, Ali would never let any poor man at the door leave disappointed. Such was his generosity that once, after he worked at a barley field to earn some grain, he ended up not consuming any of it as he had generously spared the portions to a beggar, an orphan and a prisoner, all three having asked him for food.

Bravery was second nature to Ali for he had fought valiantly at battles and emerged victorious, earning the title of the “Lion of Allah”. He was a party to all the battles fought with the Prophet SAW at the helm except for one.

As with all the Rightly Guided Caliphs and noble companions, Ali was educated on the basis of the Noble Qur’an, their teacher being the master of all mankind, Muhammad SAW. The verses that Ali heard directly from the Prophet SAW impacted the formation of his character. It was apparent that the words had illuminated his heart and transformed his mind and soul to become pure in faith and action. Ali memorized the Qur’an by heart and was considered to be among the top interpreters who knew every verse, line and meaning. It was narrated that Ali had said:

“By Allah, no verse of it was revealed but I know why it was revealed, when it was revealed and to whom it was revealed. My Lord has blessed me with a deep understanding and an eloquent, truthful tongue.”

Ali was always keen to teach the Noble Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet SAW to people. He found the necessity to teach the true rulings of Islam and train the believers to follow it. As a constant companion of the Prophet SAW from a very young age, he was also well versed in the Prophet’s SAW sayings (Hadiths).

Thus his religious commitment was shaped and, among other things Ali is known for his religious endeavours and that he not only fulfilled the obligatory daily prayers but also the Nawafil (additional prayers). He has also been known to spend whole nights in prayer.

HIS EARLY YEARS IN ISLAM

As Ali was raised in Muhammad’s SAW home, he was very much aware of the incident at Hira cave when Muhammad SAW received the Angel Jibreel AS and the calling to Islam. Even while Muhammad SAW isolated himself at the cave to worship Allah following the precepts of the religion of Ibrahim AS, Ali helped in bringing food to the Prophet SAW. According to majority, he was said to be between nine and fourteen (although majority of the reports conclude that he was between nine or ten) years old then.

Ibn Ishaq narrated that Ali ibn Abi Talib found the Prophet SAW and Khadijah praying. After enquiring after their actions, the Prophet SAW duly informed him that this is the religion of Allah. Ali was invited by the Prophet SAW to respond to this call too and to disbelieve in the pagan gods. Some accounts mention that Ali responded that as he has not heard of it before, he would not decide until he speaks to his father, Abu Talib, while other reports assert that Ali accepted Islam without hesitation. However, it is unanimously agreed that Ali ibn Abi-Talib became the first child to accept Islam and thus one of the earliest followers. By virtue of his young age, Ali was one of the few Makkans who had never worshipped the pagan idols, hence the expression Karamma-LLahu Wajhahu (May Allah honour his face) is often said upon mentioning his name.

Three years later when the Prophet SAW was ordered to proclaim their Islamic faith in public, Ali had anticipated the acceptance of such goodness and noble beliefs. Instead there was disbelief among the people of Mecca and insults were hurled at the believers, with them having to endure extensive oppression. As he was too young to help the Prophet SAW, Ali could only stop the younger boys who were instructed by the pagans to throw stones and sand at him.

THE HIJRAH (MIGRATION) AND AFTER

Because of the oppression and tyranny endured by the Muslims in Mecca, the Prophet SAW requested his companions and the Muslims to seek refuge by migrating. First, he directed a group to Abyssinia, where the ruler was known to be just in allowing the freedom of religion. The Prophet SAW remained in Mecca and Ali did not leave his side and tried his best to defend him.

Then the Prophet SAW and his Companions decided to migrate to Yathrib (now known as Medina) to seek protection and help and more importantly spread the word of Islam. Nearly all the Muslims in Mecca had migrated in secret with the exception of a handful, namely the Prophet SAW and his close companions Abu Bakr, Ali, Suhayb and Zaid bin Haritha. Meanwhile the Quraish chiefs were beginning to despair of the failed attempts at hindering the Prophet SAW in continuing his call to Islam and spreading the word of Allah.

When the Prophet SAW was decreed by Allah to migrate to Yathrib, he secretly left with Abu Bakr. Ali was ordered to remain in Mecca as he, known for his honesty and trust-worthiness, was entrusted with the precious belongings of some non-believers in Mecca. One night forty young men from various clans of the Quraish were called upon to surround the Prophet’s SAW home to have a share in killing him. However the Angel Jibreel AS brought him news of this and conveyed the order made by Allah to migrate to Yathrib. At midnight the Prophet SAW left his home with Abu Bakr. He requested Ali to sleep in his bed, covering himself with the Prophet’s SAW blanket. By the grace of Allah, the Prophet SAW had escaped without the young men realizing that he had left. When the men decided to enter the house to kill the Prophet SAW, they removed the blanket to discover Ali instead. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the life of the Prophet SAW.

Captured by the would-be assassins, Ali was tortured but released after some time. Soon after he delivered all properties that had been kept with the Prophet SAW on trust to their owners and left Mecca to Yathrib. The Prophet SAW had then taken in Ali and had made it known that whoever loved the Prophet SAW would love Ali and whoever hurt Ali would hurt the Prophet SAW.

Continued proximity to the Prophet SAW increased Ali’s appreciation and practice of the Sunnah. For to him, this is the best indication of living the ideal Muslim life.

  • Narrated from Ahd Khayr: “Ali taught us the wudhu of the Prophet SAW.”
  • It was narrated that Ali ibn Abi Talib: The Messenger of Allah SAW taught me to say when distress befalls me: “There is no God but Allah, the Forbearing, the Most Generous. Glory be to Allah and blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Mighty Throne, praise be to Allah”. This hadith is evident of the necessity of attaching one’s heart to Allah and serves as a guide and instruction for every Muslim to depend upon Allah in all his affairs.

 

SOME OF THE BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS WITH THE PROPHET SAW

In keeping to the brevity of this article, we set below some of the key battles:

  • The Battle of Badr was won by the Muslims despite them being outnumbered and ill equipped as compared to their opponents. At the start of the battle, the pagans requested for individual combat between heroes of the two armies. Ali was among the two emigrants who stepped up and killed his opponent. Once the battle had begun, Ali known to possess courage and exceptional skill in combat, killed several of the pagan heroes with several prisoners of war in tow.
  • The Battle of Uhud in Shawwal 3 A.H. was a major loss for the Muslims. However Ali’s heroism was evident as he killed many of the polytheists and strived to defend the Prophet SAW. He saved him from harm, receiving sixteen blows as he protected him and after the battle, treated the Prophet’s SAW wounds to ensure his recovery.
  • After the battle, Ali and the other Muslims accompanied the Prophet SAW to the fortress of Bani Quraithah. They battled the Jews who had previously cheated the Muslims. In this campaign, Ali carried the banner of the Messenger of Allah, fearless and their every intention of defending the religion, he had said, “By Allah, I shall go through what Hamzah went through (meaning martyrdom), or I shall breach their Fortresses.” It was victory for the Muslims, one that highlights their unwavering faith in the defence of the religion, willingness and courage to fight for their cause.
  • The Prophet SAW had wanted to perform the Umrah and wanted it be known to the Quraish that he came in peace. He assigned Ali to draft the agreement. However when the polytheists of Quraish insisted the erasure of the words “Messenger of Allah”, Ali refused to comply. His love and veneration for the Messenger SAW was evident. The Prophet SAW himself erased those words for he was adamant in creating a peaceful treaty, The Treaty of Hudaybiya.
  • The campaign to Khaybar in 7 A.H. was deemed as a conquest of a strategic Jewish military colony which was their last foothold in the Arabian Peninsula that also served as an observation post for them in eyeing the activities of the Muslims. The Prophet SAW started besieging the fortresses of Khaybar and conquered them one by one. The Prophet SAW gave the banner to Ali and said: “I shall give this flag to a man at whose hands Allah will grant victory; he loves Allah and His Messenger, and Allah and His Messenger love him.” In this difficult battle with the Jews, he challenged the leader named Merhab and killed him, thus conquering the town.
  • Conquered Mecca as pagans had broken their covenants. Ali commandeered one wing of the army, entered the city peacefully and proceeded to destroy the stone idols.
  • In 9 Hijrah the Prophet SAW led an army to Tabruk to the northern border of Arabia to deter the Romans who were trying to destroy the Islamic State. He left Ali to be the ruler of Medina in his absence. Ali was not satisfied because he wanted to join the Prophet SAW in battle and felt the shame at being left behind. The Prophet SAW said: “Do you not like to be to me like Harun was to Musa?” It was only upon hearing this analogy, Ali was then satisfied.
  • When the Prophet SAW sent the Muslims to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Prophet SAW sent Ali to read a proclamation, “No idolater shall after this year perform pilgrimage. No one shall run around the Ka’bah naked. Who has a treaty with the Prophet SAW it shall continue binding till its end. For the rest, four months are allowed to every man to return to his territory, after which there will exist no obligations on the Prophet SAW except to war to those people with whom treaties have been made.”
  • In the 10th year of Hijrah, the Prophet SAW sent Ali to preach Islam to the people of Yemen. It was a very successful campaign for the entire Hamadhan tribe accepted Islam.

THE DEATH OF THE PROPHET SAW

After the Prophet SAW returned from the farewell pilgrimage and particularly having heard the Prophet SAW address the Muslims in Mina of the perfect and complete religion that is Islam, Ali guessed that the Prophet SAW was soon to pass away.

When the Prophet’s SAW condition worsened, Al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib held Ali by the hand and said: “In three days you, by Allah, will be ruled (by somebody else). And by Allah, I feel that Allah’s Messenger SAW will die from this ailment of his, for I know how the faces of the off-spring of Abdul Muttalib look at the time of their death. So let us go to Allah’s Messenger SAW and ask him who will take over the caliphate. If it is given to us, we will know it, and if it is given to somebody else, we will request him to tell the new ruler to take care of us.” Ali said, “By Allah, if we asked Allah’s Messenger for it (the Caliphate) and he refused to give it to us, the people will never give it to us after that. And by Allah, I will not ask Allah’s Messenger for it.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

EXAMPLES OF HIS MORAL CHARACTER OF JUSTICE

Ali was known to possess an acute sense of justice for whatever he received in the treasury, he would distribute equitably without favour to family. Even when in battle and having overpowered his foes, Ali did not ill-treat them. Once when he was about to cut off the head of his victim, the desperate man spat on his face. Ali spared his life and released him, saying that if he had killed the man then, his motive will not remain purely for the cause of Allah but due to personal anger. After that Ali ran away from the man that he had just overpowered, afraid that he would be influenced by his personal anger and act upon it. Upon seeing this, the man who was about to be killed by Ali’s hands, took the shahadah and embraced Islam.

In another incident, Ali’s shield went missing after the battle of Siffin. He found it with a Christian man and it was instantly recognized by many because of its distinctive decorations and markings. Ali, who was already Caliph at the time, took the man to the judge as per the Islamic ruling instead of simply confiscating the shield. The judge asked the Christian man to respond to the allegation of the Amir al Mukminin (the Governor of the Muslims). The Christian claimed that the shield was his, but also that Amir Al Mukminin was not a liar. To this, Ali replied that the judge had no right to refer to him as the “Amir al Mukminin” when he was appearing before the judge as a normal citizen. He went on to say that the Christian man was in the right because Ali had no evidence with him. The judge ruled in favour of the Christian, who took the shield and left. A few steps later, he came back, and he said “I bear witness what I saw now is the justice of Messengers and Prophets. And the Amir Al Mukminin went to the judge to take his rights from me! I bear witness there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad SAW is the Messenger of Allah.” After embracing Islam, the man admitted, “The shield is yours. I followed the army, and in a certain time I took it from you.” Later on, people bore witness this man became one of the noble characters and died as a soldier of Islam at the Al Nahrawan battle.

Imagine how desperate the ummah is for such justice and fairness today! Look at his humbleness and humility in dealing with the average man, or even the one who stole from him. Most leaders would bypass normal judicial procedures to claim their rights, and many of them are motivated by their personal emotions instead of fear of Allah.

HIS ULTIMATE NOBLE CHARACTER

Once Umar complained to the Prophet SAW that Ali never gave him salam (Islamic greetings) when they met. The Prophet SAW summoned Ali and asked him to explain his actions. Ali said that he had heard the Prophet SAW saying that whoever initiates a greeting to his brother in Islam first, will be given a palace in jannah (a high reward), and he wanted that reward to be bestowed upon Umar. This was why every time he met Umar, he delayed his greeting, so that Umar would initiate the greeting and be rewarded for it.

In another incident, Ali entered the house and gave his greetings to his wife, Fatimah, the most beloved daughter of the Prophet SAW. She had a pain in her stomach, and requested Ali to take the few dirhams she had to buy some pomegranates for her. Ali ibn Abi Talib obliged and purchased a pomegranate from the market. On the way home, a poor man in the street waved to him, saying “Ya Ali, I’m a very poor man. Do you know what I want? I want a pomegranate.” Without any hesitation Ali immediately gave the poor man the pomegranate, explaining that he had bought it for his wife but gave it to the poor man instead for the sake of Allah. The poor man offered to take half the pomegranate only, but Ali refused and instead went home empty handed. He explained the incident to Fatimah when he got home. Immediately, she replied, “Best, what you did. It is better that you give it to the poor person.” Some time later, there was a knock on the door. It was Salman Al Farisi bearing a tray of nine pomegranates in his hand. He said that a man had come to the Prophet SAW, asking him to give the pomegranates to Ali. Ali enquired whether this was all that the Prophet SAW gave him. Salman Al Farisi revealed that there was a tenth pomegranate which he had purposely concealed! After a while, Ali enquired with the Prophet SAW what actually transpired. Rasulullah SAW replied that the poor man was Angel Jibreel AS, who, in the form of a man, came to check Ali’s iman. After Ali passed the test, Allah sent down the ten pomegranates for the obedience and sacrifice of Ali and his wife for the path of Allah – for Allah rewards tenfold for every good deed performed.

How much the Companions loved each other to the point that they wanted not only to give to each other in the dunia, but also the preference to give each other the reward and high status in jannah. Look at the ultimate generosity, kindness and love for each other. Where is our iman compared to theirs, our relationship with each other, and our priority in life?

HIS CALIPHATE RULE

Following the death of Uthman, the senior companions insisted that Ali ibn Abi Talib take over as leader of the Islamic State. At the insistence of Az-Zubair and Talhah, he accepted the position as the Fourth Right Guided Caliph.

The following is from his inaugural speech:

“I advise you O slaves of Allah to fear Allah, for god-fearing is the best advice Allah’s slaves might give to one another. It is also the closest deed to His pleasure, and the most yielding of the best results in His sight. No doubt, you are ordered to fear Allah and you have been created to be faithful.

So you should beware of Allah as the Almighty has warned you of Himself. Indeed, He has warned you of a strong violence if you do not comply to his order. Furthermore, you should fear Allah so much. You should do the good deeds without the intention of showing off or gaining good reputation. Whoever does the good deeds for anything other than for the sake of Allah, surely Allah would make him suffer from the evil consequences of what he has done. Whoever does good deeds sincerely for the sake of Allah, certainly Allah would be his supporter and He would give him the goodness of his intention.

You should fear of Allah’s punishment, for He has never created you vainly nor has He left anything of your affairs to no purpose. He made you, learnt your secrets, recorded your deeds, and then decreed your terms. So let not the world deceive you with its vain hopes, for no doubt, it is to beguile its people, and how haughty he is, who is deceived by it. The hereafter is the abode of eternal stay.”

What an unusual first speech for a Caliph. It is more a speech of a devout man rather than a Caliph. He was only concerned about living piously for the sake of Allah and to have those around him also live pious lives.

Upon ascension to the Caliphate, Ali ibn Abi Talib inherited the turmoil which began with the killing of Uthman. Details of this can be found in historical accounts, but suffice to say, Ali refused to seek revenge on Uthman’s killer in order to avoid bloodshed of the ummah. This gave rise to several civil battles. Thus all efforts to spread Islam were unfortunately channeled towards resolving these troubles with the situation within the state being tumultuous to say the least.

ALI’S DEATH

The dissenters had set out to assassinate Ali, Mu’awiyah and Amr bin Al Aas. One night, one of the conspirators, Abdur-Rahman bin Muljim came into the mosque in Kufar and hid in it, aware that Ali would be offering his fajr prayers in the morning. As he began to pray, Abdur-Rahman came forward and stabbed him several times with a dagger, penetrating on the brain through the scar of an old wound.

After he was found lying wounded on the prayer mat, Ali said to his son: “Treat the man kindly and give him food and water. If I die, his life is left to justice, and he shall be slain for the deed he had done; but do not mutilate him, for that was forbidden by the Prophet SAW.”

From the miracle of prophethood was that the Prophet SAW described to him the way Ali’s martyrdom would occur. Ammar bin Yasir reported that the Prophet SAW said to Ali” “The most wretched of men are two: the people of Thamud who killed the camel and the one who would strike you over here (i.e. on the head) until your beard is wet with your blood.”

On Friday, 20 Ramadan, 40 Hijri, Ali passed away. He was sixty-three. Ali had always asked Allah that he die as a martyr for the cause of Islam and Allah accepted his prayers.

May Allah bestow His mercy on Ali for his full dedication to the welfare of Islam and the Muslims. Let us recall one of his sermons:

“Certainly, Allah did not create you in vain. He did not neglect you. Rather, He has ennobled you with abundant provision. He has earmarked rewards for you. So fear Allah, O servants of Allah, and be diligent in your quest. Be earnest in righteous actions before the arrival of the destroyer of pleasures (death). “

THE FOUR RIGHTLY GUIDED CALIPHS – CONCLUSION

Such men were chosen by Allah to be the Companions of the Prophet SAW, the supporter of the Prophet SAW, and we can see from their characters that they lived the Message, they sacrificed completely for the Message, the love of Allah and his Messenger SAW, and the ummah, was above any personal gain. Even when they became the heads of the Muslim ummah, the Caliphate and the Amir al Mukminin, they showed even more sacrifice and high noble character and elevated Islam, justice and harmony. They left a legacy, to honour them in this life and in the hereafter. These people, the ones Rasulullah SAW advised to imitate their footsteps, should be our role models.

For us today, may Allah allow us to read about them in depth from authentic sources and try to imitate them to develop our own legacy, the way they left a legacy. May Allah allow us to have a legacy to be remembered in this life and the Kingdom of Allah, to honour this noble Message, the Name of Allah, and spread the mercy, peace, justice and harmony to mankind, Ameen.

As we conclude our series on the beloved Rightly Guided Caliphs, let us all make the following dua:

“O Allah, bear witness I love them for You. Make me live according to the noble example. Make me imitate them and if I cannot reach please make me resurrected with them.” Ameen.

Acknowledgement: Most of the information for this work has been obtained from:
“Shining Stars Among the Prophet’s Companions Volume One” by Abdul Basit Ahmad
“Heroes of Islam” by Mahmoud Esma’il Sieny
“The Successors of the Messenger” by Khalid Muhammad Khalid
“Ali bin Abi Talib” by Dr Ali M. Sallabi

 www.alifradio.com

The Third Rightly Guided Caliph – Al Ghani, The Generous; Dhun-Noorayn, Possessor of Two Lights

(Life: approx. 574AD – 656 AD)
(Caliphate: 644AD – 656 AD)

Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Uthman ibn Affan RA and does not cover all the points of his life story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Uthman said: “I have found the sweetness of worship in four things. The first is in performing the obligatory acts of worship enjoined by Allah; the second is in avoiding the things forbidden by Allah; the third is enjoining that which is good, seeking the reward of Allah; and the fourth is forbidding that which is evil, fearing the wrath of Allah.”

The first two Rightly Guided Caliphs left large shoes to fill, and historical accounts of them tend to overshadow the achievements of their successors. Yet, the exemplary life of Uthman ibn Affan is one to be emulated, for he is one of the ten Companions who has been promised Paradise. Of him, the Prophet SAW said “Every prophet has a companion in paradise. My companion there is Uthman.”

Uthman bin Affan was born in Taif, near Mecca approximately six years after the Year of the Elephant. Uthman’s birthright was the wealthy Umayyad Clan (Banu Ummaya) of the Quraish tribe in Mecca.

He was said to be a very truthful and bashful person who also possessed a powerful personality. A modest, honest, mild, generous and very kindly man, Uthman was also noted for his piety. As a true and generous believer, he was known of the desire to please Allah and sacrifice all his trade and property for the support of Islam. He has also been known to spend nights in prayer, observed fasts most of the days and performed hajj every year. Uthman knew the Qur’an from memory and has been known to have had an intimate knowledge of the context and circumstances in which each verse had been related to.

Despite his privileged upbringing, Uthman maintained a lifestyle devoid of luxury and the pursuit of worldly possessions. Such was his humility that he has been known to live simply despite his wealth and was known to have often slept on bare sand in the courtyard of the Prophet’s mosque.

It has been said that Uthman’s generosity could not be surpassed by anyone, with the exception of Abu Bakr RA. Other than significant contributions made during the conquest of the Islamic State, Uthman took it upon himself to give alms and look after widows and orphans. It was also customary for him to free a slave every Friday.

Uthman possessed patience that was unparalleled for he had maintained his elegance, poise and tranquillity while faced with challenges in life. This was an invaluable trait that had kept him above board and on an even keel when he led the Islamic state after the passing of the second caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab RA.

BEFORE CONVERSION

Uthman was a renowned and successful trader who reaped his profits by giving to the needy. After his father’s passing at an early age, Uthman continued to run the family business at a marked profit thereby affording an increase in his charitable works.

Uthman was not one who sought entertainment and songs and other material pleasures. He was a man of high principles and morals and possessed pure thoughts and actions. He said: “Concern of this world is darkness in the heart, but concern with the hereafter is light in the heart.”

Uthman’s wealth grew and by virtue of being so, he was regarded as one of the men of the Umayyad clan who were held in high esteem by all of Quraish. At that time men were respected by their wealth and for the number of children and brothers they had. Uthman was regarded as being of high status among his people, and he was loved dearly.

EVENTS LEADING UP TO AND INCLUDING THE CONVERSION

By virtue of his travels, primarily to either Yemen or Syria, Uthman had gained exposure to various people and their beliefs, developing the knowledge of their customs and culture. This experience enhanced his understanding of the people around him whilst influencing his own ideas and thoughts he had of the Arab life and idol worship. One night, on his return journey from Syria, Uthman was about to fall asleep when he heard a voice calling: “O sleepers, get up, for Ahmad has emerged in Mecca.”

An extended trip away from Mecca had resulted in a return to unsettling issues in the city. Among these was the emergence of a man called Muhammad bin Abdullah who had made himself known as the Prophet of Islam. While other Meccans had found it difficult to accept new ideas and concepts in their lives, Uthman recalled the incident in Syria. It was indeed a calling to Islam, a sign that required a positive response, for Uthman himself could not explain how anyone could have heard of the Prophet SAW before reaching the city in which he lived. It seemed inconceivable to have ignored the sign and the truth of the need for a saviour to the life of the Arabs during a gloomy period, where among other things, idol worship and violence had become a way of life.

When he learnt of the new religion and the Prophet SAW, Uthman made his way to Abu Bakr whom he knew to be a close friend of Muhammad’s SAW and who had already converted to Islam. Responding to Abu Bakr’s urging to reject the false worship of idols and to accept the belief in Allah as the One God, Uthman went to Muhammad SAW. The Prophet SAW welcomed Uthman and told him of his experience in Mount Hira, when he received the first revelation. Uthman was thrilled to hear this and recounted the incident in Syria telling him of the advent of a Prophet in Mecca. The Prophet SAW stretched his hand, which Uthman grasped in reverence, and declared “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet.” Uthman was thirty four years old and was one of the earliest Muslims.

Uthman’s conversion to Islam led to a violent reaction and he was not exempted despite his family’s standing in society. He had to suffer the wrath of his own uncle, Al Hakam bin Abi Al-Aas who tied him up and told him that he will not be freed until he returned to the old religion of his forefathers. Uthman said: “By Allah, I will never give it up or leave it.” Uthman was eventually set free when he remained steadfast in his belief and continued to uphold the religion.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ISLAM DURING THE PROPHET’S SAW LIFETIME

Son-in-law of Muhammad SAW

Because of his conversion to Islam, Uthman had to separate from his wives, who refused to accept Islam. He was grieved and distressed by this, but his love for Islam was of more value to him. The Prophet SAW was so impressed by his sacrifice, that he married his second daughter, Ruqayya, to Uthman. It is said that Uthman and Ruqayya made a unique pair, as Uthman was the most beautiful person amongst the men, whereas Ruqayya was the most beautiful amongst the women.

Marriage to the Prophet’s SAW daughter had elevated the bond shared between them. However, the marriage was short lived. Ruqayya was taken ill at a time when the Muslims went to war at Badr and subsequently passed away when the Holy Prophet SAW and the Muslims were fighting the Quraish at the battlefield of Badr.

Deeply grieved by the loss, Uthman was asked by the Prophet SAW to marry his other daughter, Umm Kulthum. When she too passed away six years later, the Prophet SAW noted Uthman’s grief in his manner of walking and expression on his face and said: “Had we a third daughter, surely, we would have given her in marriage to you.” What an endorsement when the Prophet of Allah SAW considers you worthy of marrying his own daughters!

It has been said that marriage to two daughters of the Prophet SAW had earned Uthman the nickname Dhun-Noorayn (the one with the two lights) as there was no one else had the privilege of having the Prophet SAW as a father-in-law twice over.

The First Migration
The series of persecution started in the fourth year of Prophethood and accelerated and worsened by the day. In the fifth year it began to seem intolerable for the Muslims and Allah saw to this when He made it known in Surat Az-Zumar that it is time for the religion to spread further afield with the migration of a few Muslims.

“Good is for those who do good in this world, and Allah’s earth is spacious. Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” [Qur’an 39:10]

In Rajab of the fifth year of the revelation, a group of twelve men and four women, including Uthman and his wife Ruqayya, left for Abyssinia (Ethiopia). The Prophet SAW had directed this small group to migrate for he wanted to preserve the Muslim community from increasing belligerence. He chose Abyssinia as much had been heard of the Christian ruler, Al Najashi, who did not allow any form of persecution in his land. The Prophet SAW, when bidding Uthman and Ruqayya farewell, said “No doubt, they are the first to emigrate to Allah after the Prophet of Allah, Lut AS.”

Uthman’s migration to Abyssinia, while escaping the harassment by the Quraish and the oppression in Mecca, was also a means for him to lead by example, the peaceful life of worship to Allah. It has been said that migration from life to life, from existence to existence is a journey to Allah with new provisions as one concedes what is old with its sanctities and glories. For Uthman the migration had strengthened his good characteristics and made them more effective and elegant. It was primarily a migration of spirit.

Oppression in Mecca
When Uthman returned to Mecca he discovered that the Muslims had remained oppressed and in fact their living conditions had worsened. The Quraish had decided to cut all social, economic and familial relations with Muslims and Bani Hashim (the Prophet’s SAW clan). Banishing them to a valley and depriving them of a reasonable living, the Muslims did not even have sufficient food and water. Uthman ordered his agents to buy food and secretly supply the Muslims.

The Second Migration and Continued Hardship in Yathrib (Medina)
Again, the Prophet had asked his companions and other Muslims to migrate, this time to Medina, to save themselves from enduring further evil plots of the Quraish. Among the emigrants to Medina were Uthman and Ruqayya.

The Muslims in Medina were poor as they had left their worldly possessions in Mecca. Much depended on the Ansar (dwellers of Medina) to adopt a Muhajireen (emigrants from Mecca) to support them in maintaining their livelihood and for survival. A Jewish trader had taken advantage of the need for the city dwellers’ survival when he sold water (a precious commodity indeed) at a very high price. Uthman took the initiative to relieve them of such high expenses. He offered to buy the well at Rawmah from the Jew but was only allowed to purchase half of it. Uthman then told the Muslims to purchase enough water for two days each time it was his turn to sell water, thereby avoiding purchase of water on the second day when it was the Jew’s turn to use the well. The Jew was then unable to get any buyers and eventually had to sell his share to Uthman. The well then overflowed with its sweet water and provided the people of Medina with water at no price or account.

Uthman’s Generosity Continues

When the number of converts to Islam increased in Medina, the space available for them at the mosque in Medina decreased. The Prophet SAW had hoped that perhaps one of his Companions could help with the purchase of the neighbouring area to facilitate the expansion of the mosque. Uthman was only too willing to oblige and proceeded to the owners of this area with an offer to purchase. The Prophet SAW had said, “Who will buy the land of so and so add it to the mosque in return for something good for him in Paradise?”

Again, when the Prophet SAW returned from their victorious campaign in Mecca, he sought to expand the area of the sacred mosque. He suggested that the owners of the home beside the mosque to donate it but they did not, saying that they had nothing else to their name and no other means of finding another home. For the third time Uthman came forward, purchased a house for the owners with an even larger one than they had given up.

During the rule of Abu Bakr, the Muslims had undergone great hardship and one of them was the need for food. As a merchant Uthman was due to receive a substantial delivery of food and other goods from Damascus but he had chosen to give up the entire caravan to the poor to help them survive the harsh conditions.

Bay’a Al Ridwan

On the 1st of Dhul Qa’idah, in the sixth year of Hijrah, the Prophet with 1,400 Muslims from Medina began their journey to Mecca to perform their pilgrimage. As they journeyed, they heard that the Quraish would not allow them to enter the city. Upon reaching Hudaibiyah, the Prophet sent three messengers to the Meccans to convince them to allow the pilgrimage as that was their sole intention. Each returned unsuccessful. The Prophet then sent Uthman to cheer the believing men and women still in Mecca with the tidings that Allah was about to make their religious victorious.

Uthman entered Mecca under the protection of Abban bin Sayeed Umwi and conveyed the message. The Quraish offered him the opportunity to make tawaf but he refused for as long as the Prophet had been prevented to do so. The Quraish then decided to detain Uthman, perhaps wanting to ensure they had a “card to play” in negotiations with the Muslims but this resulted in rumours that he had suffered death in the hands of the Quraish.

The death of a messenger is often deemed as a declaration of war and the Prophet went about to prepare for a confrontation in Mecca. The Prophet SAW called upon his followers to take an oath that they will remain on the battlefield and to fight unto death, that they would not flee and will stand or fall together to avenge Uthman’s death. With one hand on the other, the Prophet said, “this is the pledge on behalf of Uthman”. The pledge had pleased Allah but thankfully it need not be acted upon for Uthman emerged soon after. Allah revealed a verse in Surat Al-Fath referring to the sanctity of the covenant:

“Verily, those who give Bay’ah (pledge) to you (o Muhammad) they are giving Bay’ah to Allah. The Hand of Allah is over their hands. Then whosoever breaks his pledge, breaks it only to his own harm; and whosoever fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah, He will bestow on him a great reward.” [Qur’an 48:10]

The Expedition to Tabuk
The ninth year after Hijrah saw the Prophet SAW preparing an army for battle with the Romans who were plotting to disrupt the State of Islam. With limited resources and the near impossible task of adequately equipping the army in the middle of a very hot summer, the Prophet sought the assistance of his companions to donate as much as they could. Uthman immediately obliged and was credited to have provided nine hundred and forty camels along with sixty horses for the Tabuk expedition. He had also given ten thousand dinars to the Prophet SAW to ensure that the army was well equipped. The Prophet SAW remarked, “Whatever Uthman does from this day onward, he will suffer no harm.”

THE CALIPHATE RULE OF UTHMAN BIN AFFAN

Uthman ibn Affan was elected the third Caliph after the passing of Umar bin Al-Khattab. The reaction to the election of Uthman was favourable. After the stern rule of Umar, the people welcomed the mild rule of Uthman.

After receiving the pledge of allegiance, he stood up and said: “This world implied vanities, so let not the world mislead you and let no deceiver seduce you. Treat this world as Allah deals with it, and seek for the hereafter, for Allah gives an example of this world when He said: “Set forth to the similitude of the life of this world: it is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth’s vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah who prevails over all things. Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world: but the things that endure, good deed, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes.””

During Uthman’s rule, the characteristics of Abu Bakr’s and Umar’s caliphate, comprehensive justice for аll, and humane policies where adhered to. He continued to strive in the Cause of Allah and the expansion of Islam continued.

Collection of the Noble Qur’an:
Uthman was deeply attached to the Holy Qur’an. Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami narrated how he learned it from the Prophet SAW and his words indicate how he greatly loved to live with the Book of Allah. Those who taught the Qur’an – such as Uthman ibn Affan, Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood and others – told us that when they learned ten verses from the Prophet SAW they would not go beyond them until they had learned the knowledge contained in them and how to apply it in deed. They said: So we learned the Qur’an and knowledge and its application together. Hence they would spend a while to memorise a surah.

Reports had surfaced that some Muslims were disputing the Qur’anic text, each claiming theirs to be the authentic version. Furthermore, with the conquests of many nations and the acceptance of Islam by many different people with various languages and varying Arabic dialects, Uthman was keen to maintain the language of the Qur’an as it had been revealed from Allah to the Prophet. In the twenty-fifth year of Hijrah Uthman ordered the collection of all the copies of the Qur’an available and chose to compile the Qur’an in a standard format in the dialect of the Quraish. Uthman entrusted Zaid bin Thabit, himself an authority on Qur’anic text, to work with other trustworthy companions of the Prophet.

Upon completion of the whole Qur’an, he then ordered four true copies to be made. Each one was sent to each major region of the empire and ordered them to destroy any other copies. Thus the standard copy of the Qur’anic text came into being. The Al-Mushaf Al-Uthmani is considered the master copy of the Qur’anic text from which all subsequent authentic copies of the Qur’an have been made.

The Expansion of the Islamic State
Upon his appointment, Uthman sent letters to his governors outlining his proposed policies and reminding them that as rulers, Allah had reminded them that their role is to protect society and not become tax collectors. The interest of all Muslims should be taken to heart and even with the enemies, their conduct should be upright.

As some lands in Iraq and Iran that were conquered by the Muslims had rebelled after the death of Umar, Uthman had directed the governor of Kufah in Iraq, Al Waleed bin Uqbah to strengthen their force. Uprisings in Ray, Iran and Alexandria, Egypt were also quelled. Under the command of Salman Al Farsi ten thousand soldiers were sent to Syria to defeat the Romans who had attacked the Muslim frontiers. This paved the way for further conquests in Asia Minor and further afield to the shores of the Black Sea.

From Egypt and on to the African coast right till the far west, Abdullah bin Abi As-Sarh ensured the conquest of the Muslim army. With the expansion of the Islamic State, it seemed necessary to establish a naval force to facilitate the armies’ passage across the Byzantine Empire and to Europe and Africa. Uthman granted permission to the Governor of Syria, Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan to form a fleet by the 28th year after Hijrah. This formation of the naval force led to the conquest of Cyprus.

While the Islamic State had expanded in every direction, most of the inhabitants of the conquered lands had accepted Islam. Those who had chosen to keep their religion were treated justly and mercifully. Uthman gave his commands that the conquests should go beyond those rebellious areas to borders much farther and more distant, so that there would remain по sides ог farthest regions of the state, which could easily rebel whenever they so like. Не personally chose the leaders of armies which would undertake those tasks. Surprisingly, попе of them lost а single battle, excluding only опе.

THE REBELLION AND THE END

Uthman ruled for twelve years. While the first six years were marked by internal реасе and tranquillity, rebellion rose during the second half of his caliphate. As the Islamic state expanded greatly under his rule, so did the pool of hypocrites who had pretended to accept Islam but sought to disrupt and destroy the state. Rebels had gathered thousands to revolt against Uthman’s rule.

Тhe Jews and the Magians, taking advantage of dissatisfaction among the people, began conspiring against Uthman, and publicly aired their complaints and grievances. They gained sympathy and soon it was difficult to distinguish friend from foe. By that time Uthman was 82.He did not expect a revolt and was ultimately reluctant in having to see bloodshed within his state.

A rebellion in Kufah and Egypt seemed destined to create turmoil within the state. Vicious allegations abounded and were rampantly circulated against Uthman. In keeping this article brief, we will not be examining these in detail but suffice to say all of these accusations were baseless or out of context.

The ripple of discontent and dissension spread, but Uthman refused to acknowledge such reports and his advisors’ request to quell the riots. Because of his honesty and forthright personality, he did not use the funds from the treasury to employ additional guards to him and his home.

A group of armed rebels marched to Medina and was met by Ali ibn Abi Talib at the outskirts, who explained the gravity of the error and the falsehood of the rumours to them. The plea fell on deaf ears, and they went ahead to confront Uthman and put his household under a long siege. Ali bin Abi Talib sent his sons Al-Hasan and Al-Husain along with several others to defend Uthman but they refused to fight the rebels for fear of causing death of Muslims.

Тhe rebels demanded that Uthman abdicate, and indeed some of the Companions advised him to do so. He replied “By Allah, I would not be the first successor of the Messenger of Allah SAW to lead his nation to bloodshed … I would not depart from the homeland of my migration, or the neighbourhood of the Messenger of Allah SAW as long as I am living.”

Muslim ibn Sa’eed, a freed slave of Uthman, reported that one day during the long siege, Uthman freed twenty slaves. Thereafter he said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah SAW in a dream, as well as Abu Bakr and Umar, and they said to me ‘Be patient, for you are going to break your fast with us soon.’ “Then he requested for a copy of the Qur’an and he opened it in front of him.

The rebels then broke into Uthman’s house by burning down the door and entering when none of the Companions were with him. The first assassin’s sword struck Uthman while the Qur’an was still in his hand, and in more than one report, the first drop of his blood fell upon the words “Verily, Allah sufficeth thee; Не is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Qur’an 2:137]

Ibn Asakir reported that when Uthman received the first blow, he said “Bismillah, tawakaltu ala Allah” (In the name of Allah, and upon Allah I do rely). When his blood poured forth, he said “Subhanallah Al-Adhim” (Glory be to Allah, the Majestic).

Uthman breathed his last breath оп Friday afternoon, 17 Dhul-Hijjah, 35 А.Н.

The rebels, wanting to loot his wealth, opened his cabinet and found a box in which there was a note that read:

“This is the testament of Uthman before Allah: In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Uthman bin Affan bears witness that there is no true deity but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger. Paradise is true and Hell is true, and Allah will resurrect everyone on the Day of Judgment, for Allah will never break His promise.”

Тhe power of the rebels was so great that Uthman’s body lay unburied, kept inside his house for three days until the people of Medina could bury it, still in his blood-stained clothes, without a shroud.

Thus ended the life of another great martyr and hero of Islam. He is one of the ten companions of the Prophet foretold by him to be among the dwellers of Paradise.

May Allah be pleased with Uthman for the great services he rendered to Islam and Muslims. It was enough for Uthman to be praised by the Prophet SAW, “Uthman is bashful to the extent that angels get bashful when they see him.”

Acknowledgement : Most of the information for this work has been obtained from
“Shining Stars Among the Prophet’s Companions Volume One” by Abdul Basit Ahmad
“Heroes of Islam” by Mahmoud Esma’il Sieny
“The Sealed Nectar” by Safi-ur-Rahman Al Mubarakpuri
“The Biography of ’Uthman Ibn ‘Affan- Dhun-Noorayn” by Dr. Ali Muhammad Sallabi
“The Successors of the Messenger” by Khalid Muhammad Khalid


UMAR IBN AL-KHATTAB RA
(Life: (approx) 586AD – 644AD)
(Caliphate: 634AD – 644AD)

Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab RA and does not cover all the points of his life story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Umar used to say: “What will you say to your Lord later?” – summing up his religion and his method of life.

Narrated Aslam:
Ibn Umar asked me about some matters concerning Umar. He said, “Since Allah’s Apostle died, I have never seen anybody more serious, hardworking and generous than Umar bin Al−Khattab (till the end of his life).”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 57 Hadith 36

PRE CONVERSION TO ISLAM

Little is documented about his life prior to his submission to Islam. We know that Umar was born into a respected Quraish family, thirteen years after the Messenger SAW was born. He learnt to read and write whilst still a child, which was rare in Mecca at that time. A merchant by trade, he was widely travelled as a result. He was a large man, it was said that he never walked among a group of men except that he was the tallest amongst them. He was a skilled horseman and was notorious for his fearsome temper. By some accounts, he was left handed, while others report him to be ambidextrous. His swiftness of temper, coupled with his extraordinary strength, made a terrifying and intimidating combination. However, he was also renowned for his strong sense of justice, and time proved that he judged himself harsher than he did anyone else.

Prior to becoming Muslim, he was a sworn enemy of Islam. The idea of Muhammad SAW preaching the Oneness of God in Mecca enraged Umar greatly, as he saw this as a great outrage and insult to the pagan practices of his forefathers. Umar was openly hostile, and even physically violent, to those who embraced Islam. Even when his slave-girl accepted Islam, he beat her on a daily basis until he was exhausted and said “I stopped because I am tired, not out of pity for you”.

EVENTS LEADING UPTO AND INCLUDING CONVERSION

Umar’s acceptance of Islam is perhaps one of the most extraordinary.

As Muhammad’s SAW influence grew, Umar became increasingly resentful. In the sixth year of the revelation, Umar was appointed by a group of Quraish men to kill the Prophet SAW. He set out towards the Prophet SAW, sword in hand, ready to kill him. Enroute he met a friend and when Umar explained what he intended to do, imagine Umar’s horror when his friend said “Why don’t you take care of your own family first and set them right?” It turned out that Umar’s own sister, Fatimah, and her husband, had secretly embraced Islam!

He was so mortified and furious at this news, and went straight to Fatimah’s house where he heard the voice of his brother in law, Khabbab bin Aratt, reciting from the Qur’an. Umar swiftly started assaulting Khabbab, whereupon Fatimah threw herself between Umar and her husband in order to defend the latter. Umar struck her violently, until she was bleeding. Injured as she was, Fatimah defiantly told Umar “O Umar, you can do what you like, but you cannot turn our hearts away from Islam”.

These words had a profound effect on Umar. What was this faith that made weak women so strong of heart? He felt pity for his sister, and his instinctive sense of fairness prevailed. So he asked Fatimah to show him what she was reading, so that he could know for himself what it was the Muhammad SAW had brought.

She refused to give it to him by saying “No, for none but the purified persons [i.e. clean from idolatry] are to touch it. Go and take a bath and get yourself purified”. He did so, returned and Fatimah gave him the Qu’ran.

“Ta-Ha. We have not sent down the Qur´an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress, But only as an admonition to those who fear ((Allah)) …” (Qur’an 20:1-3)

He was astounded. It was as if the Qur’an was addressing him directly! He continued reading, and verse after verse, the light of the Qur’an penetrated his heart with its undeniable truth.

“A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high.(Allah) Most Gracious is firmly established on the throne (of authority).To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and all between them, and all beneath the soil…”

He read verses 1-8 and 14-16 of Surat Taha, and when he was done, his sense of justice could no longer deny the truth of the Message.

Unbeknownst to him, the Prophet SAW had also made a dua for this occasion – reported by Ibn Umar RA, the Messenger of Allah SAW said “O Allah, help Islam with one of the two men that is more beloved to You: Abu Jahl or ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab. And the more beloved of the two to him was Umar.”

Umar kissed the document (it is reported that the verses were written on a piece of leaf) and said “It is not proper that the One Who has sent down these Holy Verses should have a partner to be worshipped with Him. Guide me to the place where Muhammad SAW is present now”.

He then went straight to the house of the Prophet SAW. Once he was admitted in the house, the Prophet SAW asked him for the reason of his visit. Umar replied: “O Messenger of Allah, I have come to you in order to believe in Allah and His Messenger and that which he has brought from his Lord.” Upon hearing this, the Prophet SAW and the Companions shouted with elation “Allahu Akbar” so loudly that it could be heard at the Kabah!

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ISLAM DURING PROPHET’S (PBUH) LIFETIME

Public proclamation of Islam
Umar was the first person to publicly proclaim Islam – he literally went door to door to houses of the inhabitants of Mecca such as Abu Jahl to announce his conversion to Islam. Their reaction was of course of astonishment, hostility and dismay. For example Abu Jahl cursed him and slammed the door in his face! However, Umar’s courage was contagious, and his actions strengthened and boosted the morale of the small community of Muslims, who had until then, been forced to worship in the secrecy of their homes.

Worshipping before the Kabah
Umar was renowned for his outspoken behaviour, and on more than one occasion, questioned the Prophet’s SAW decisions. An illustration of this is when the elation of Umar’s acceptance of Islam had subsided, he asked the Prophet SAW “Aren’t we on the right path here and in the hereafter?” The Prophet SAW replied affirmatively, upon which Umar asked “Why then, do we have to conduct our activities secretly? I swear by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, that we will leave our concealment and proclaim our noble cause publicly.”

Hence, prompted by Umar, the Quraishi witnessed to their alarm the first group of Muslims approaching and worshipping before the Kaabah in broad daylight, a practice which is still followed more than 1,400 years later. This was the incident that gave him the title “Al Farooq” (he who distinguishes truth from falsehood).

With Umar as the physical guardian, the hostile Quraishi were hesitant to attack the Muslims, as Umar was a fearsome enemy and was swift to retaliate.

Migration to Medina
Umar migrated to Medina ahead of the Prophet SAW. Whilst many Muslims were migrating to Medina discreetly, Umar went to the Kabah and announced his migration publicly, threatening “Anyone who wants to make his wife a widow and his children orphans, should come and meet me there behind that cliff.” Umar’s strength and ferocity was such that he was capable of killing a man in a single blow, and he was armed with his sword and his arrows. Not surprisingly, none of the Quraishi dared to stand in his way.

Consultation
It was not uncommon that whenever a difficult or complicated situation arose, the Prophet SAW would seek the counsel of Umar and Abu Bakr RA. In many instances, Umar and Abu Bakr took divergent views, Umar’s opinion being inclined to being harder than Abu Bakr’s. On more than one occasion, however, Umar’s view was confirmed as the correct one, as affirmed by Allah Himself through the revelations that subsequently guided the Prophet SAW through an issue. This included his view on the innocence of Aisha RA when her reputation and fidelity to Muhammad SAW was cast under severe doubt by the hypocrites.

On the authority of Abdur Rahman bin Ghanam, it was said that the Prophet SAW said to Abu Bakr and Umar that “if you two are agreed upon a counsel, I would not oppose you.”

The Battles
Umar participated in many of the key Muslim battles and was often the right hand man of the Prophet SAW on the battlefield. He fought keenly in the Battle of Badr, Uhud and the Trench, the Conquest of Mecca, Hunayn and the Siege of Ta’if.

Father-in-law of Muhammad SAW
Umar’s daughter, Hafsa, was widowed at a very young age when her husband was martyred during the Battle of Uhud. Her bereavement upset Umar greatly, but he was also aware that she had inherited his fiery temper. Hence he felt it best for her to be married to a much more mature man of a more sober temperament. He approached Abu Bakr, who evaded the subject, and Uthman RA, who politely declined not least because he was still grieving over the unexpected death of his own wife, Ruqayya, the daughter of the Prophet SAW. Insulted, saddened and enraged, Umar complained to the Prophet SAW, whereupon the Prophet SAW assured him with the following words: “Rest assured, Hafsa will marry a man better than Uthman, and Uthman will marry a lady better than Hafsa.”

It transpired that Muhammad SAW had indicated to Abu Bakr and Uthman that he had intended to take Hafsa as his bride, hence their non-committal replies when approached by Umar. Uthman was then married to the Prophet’s younger daughter, Umm Kulsum.

With this marriage, Umar’s status was brought at par with Abu Bakr’s, and both of them enjoyed the honour of being the Prophet’s SAW father-in-law.

Respect of Allah
Umar had such a deep respect for Allah that he was always very humble and filled with humility. It was his fear of the question of “what will you say to your Lord” that motivated all his actions. Hence he spent the rest of his life trying to atone for his persecution of the Muslims prior to accepting Islam himself.

Umar was only concerned about being saved from the fire of Hell and once said that all his good deeds not be recorded for him provided that he be saved from hell as neither having any extra good nor bearing any evil. Even when he was given glad tidings that he would be admitted into Paradise, he remained in awe and full of respect of Allah. He had always been a hard and severe person, but it was on himself that he was the hardest.

He always saw how the Messenger SAW spent his nights in prayer, some days in fasting and in fighting for Allah even though he knew that Allah had forgiven all his sins. He once asked the Prophet (PBUH) why he was doing all this. The Prophet SAW answered “Then, should I not be a thankful servant of Allah?”

THE CALIPHATE RULE
We shall not go into the political detail surrounding Umar’s appointment as the second of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. However, as Abu Bakr lay on his deathbed, it was general consensus that Umar was the fittest person to be appointed as the next Caliph. There were however, some reservations on account of Umar’s colourful temper, in that he would not be able to display the moderation necessary to lead the Ummah. Abu Bakr observed that Umar’s display of severity was meant to counteract his leniency, and felt confident that Umar would be more restrained in his opinions if the responsibility of government fell on his shoulders.

One of His Earliest Speeches
The following are excerpts from his inaugural speech:

“The mantle of Caliphate has fallen on my shoulders. I swear it before God that I never coveted this office. I wished that it would have devolved on some other person more worthy than me …

In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Holy Book, and will follow the examples set by the Holy Prophet SAW and Abu Bakr. In this task, I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.

Now brothers I offer a few prayers and you say Ameen to them.

O Allah, I am hard, make me soft to promote the Truth, to comply with your injunctions and to aspire for a better life in world hereafter…O Allah, soften my heart for the faithful so that I attend to their needs with a sense of dedication…O Allah give me the power of self-criticism and self-assessment …”

Such was the shining display of humility by Umar before his people. To him, leadership was a huge responsibility to be shunned rather than sought. The speech also displayed his deep inner reflection of his personal shortcomings, which he openly admitted to the people he was leading.

When he assumed office, Umar realised that he was more feared than loved. Children who had before approached Abu Bakr and addressed his as “Father”, ran away from Umar in fear. In the first Friday sermon after he was appointed the Caliph, he appealed to the congregation, explaining that during the lives of the Prophet SAW and Abu Bakr, he assumed upon himself the role of counterbalancing their softness. He went on to say:

“O people, you have some rights on me which you can always claim. One of your rights is that if anyone of you comes to me with a claim, he should leave satisfied. Another of your rights is that you can demand that I take nothing unjustly from the revenues of the State. You can also demand that I fortify your frontiers and do not put you in danger. It is also your right that if you go to battle I should look after your families as a father would do while you are away.

O people, remain conscious of Allah, forgive me my faults and help me in my task. Assist me in enforcing what is good and forbidding what is evil. Advise me regarding the obligations that have been imposed upon me by Allah.”

And he spent the rest of his life trying to fulfil his pledge to his people.

Creation of Government
Umar created a unitary government to rule the entire empire. For each province, a governor was appointed by Umar. The appointee was usually someone who did not crave the position. He organised a group with responsibilities for revenue, military, security, treasury, his office and the chief judge.

He used to give the following general order to his governors in discharging their leadership duties:

“Remember, I have not appointed you as commanders and tyrants over the people. I have sent you as leaders instead, so that the people may follow your example. Give the Muslims their rights and do not beat them lest they become abused. Do not praise them unduly, lest they fall into the error of conceit. Do not keep your doors shut in their faces, lest the more powerful of them eat up the weaker ones. And do not behave as if you were superior to them, for that is tyranny over them.”

The Great Famine
638AD was one of the most difficult times during Umar’s rule. The famine spread far and wide throughout Arabia. He organised for rations to come in from Syria, Palestine and Iraq. Once the rations arrived in Medina, he sent his people to re-route the food caravans to go deeper into Arabia to bring food to the people. For people who were displaced and had come to Medina for help, Umar hosted a dinner every night for everyone. Some accounts said that there were over 100,000 people at the dinners.

The Great Plague
639AD was another difficult time. Just as the famine was ending a great plague was spreading in Syria and Palestine. When the plague was over, Umar went to Syria to re-organise the administration as so many of the governors had died from plague.

Other Events
It is impossible to categorise Umar’s rule in a few short pages, but the following are other examples of Umar’s outstanding leadership have been recorded:

• Once a woman brought a claim against Umar. When Umar appeared on trial before the judge, the judge stood up as a sign of respect. Umar reprimanded him saying “This is the first act of injustice you did to this woman”.
• Umar insisted that his governors live simple and austere lives, keep no guard at their door and be accessible to the people at all times. He himself set the example for them.
• Many times foreigners found him resting under a tree or praying in the mosque among the people. It was difficult for them to distinguish which man was the Caliph. He used to go about at night in the streets of Medina to see if people needed help or assistance.
• Once, he was delayed in attending Friday prayers once because he had washed his shirt and had to wait for it to dry because he had no other shirt. Can you imagine any other leader of a nation who was so frugal on himself and so afraid to misuse public funds, that he only has one garment in his possession?
• When receiving a gift of sweets from his governor in Azerbaijan, he inquired if all the people there ate the sweet. The answer was that it was reserved for the elite of the society. Umar then made the following order to the governor “Do not satisfy yourself from any kind of food until all the Muslims eat their fill from it before you”.
• He once stood guard in the night with a companion to watch over some travellers. A baby was crying but the mother was unable to make it stop. Umar asked what was wrong. She said that the baby refuses to wean. He asked why she would want to wean her baby who was still young. She replied without knowing who he was that “Umar only prescribes a share of the Treasury for the weaned ones”. Umar was devastated at hearing this statement. At dawn prayer, his voice was almost incomprehensible from his weeping. Umar felt himself having wronged those babies who may have died from being weaned too early. He then ordered that a share of the Treasury be prescribed for every Muslim child from birth.
• Umar kept his family’s activities under tight scrutiny in case they are seen to be abusing their status because of their relationship to Umar. Even when what they did was legal, he was still angered, and if they benefited financially, even if indirectly, he forbade from retaining such financial gains.
• Umar had a precept: “If any of you saw any of your brothers committing a slip, you should (screen him and) help him. You should ask Allah to repent on him and you should not assist Satan against him”. This would prevent back-biting and gossiping – two of the most common sins.

Hence, the short examples above hopefully give some colour on the outstanding leadership qualities Umar displayed throughout his rule. He constantly merciful, caring, principled, thoughtful and God fearing. Here was a man who was so worried of displaying the smallest injustice, the smallest suspicion, the smallest oppression all because he was preparing himself to answer the question “What will you say to your Lord later?”.

HIS DEATH
Umar was violently stabbed six times at the time of the morning prayer by a Persian slave named Firoz. Unconscious and bleeding profusely, was then carried home. When he regained consciousness, he asked who his murderer was. When told, he said “Praise be to God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim.”

Knowing that his death was imminent, he asked his son Abdullah RA to beg Aisha’s permission for his burial by the side of Muhammad SAW and Abu Bakr. Aisha RA wept as she came to know that Umar was on his deathbed. She said “I had reserved this place for my own burial, but I give Umar precedence over myself. Let him be buried there.”

When Umar was told of this, he said, “God bless Aisha. She has fulfilled my greatest wish. Now I can die in peace.”

Even in the final leg of his life, he was still concerned about the Ummah. Here was a man who had beaten a slave girl for her acceptance of Islam only to become a Caliph and one of the greatest Muslims that ever lived. He is a shining example of how Allah is the owner of the hearts, for the same man who set out with sword in hand to kill the Prophet SAW, now lays buried beside him in Medina.

Bukhari carries a tradition according to which the Prophet SAW said that there was to be no prophet after him, but if there were to be no bar to such prophethood, Umar would have been the prophet. That was the highest accolade that the Prophet SAW could have paid to Umar.

When reading about the Companions, it is recommended to say “O Allah, bear witness I love them for You. Make me live according to the noble example. Make me imitate them and if I cannot reach please make me resurrected with them.”

May Allah be pleased with Umar ibn Khattab and all the Companions, Ameen.

Acknowledgement
Most of the information for this work has been obtained from:
“The Successors of the Messenger (Allah’s Blessing and Peace be upon Him)” authored by Khalid Muhammad Khalid (and translated into English by Muhammad Mahdi Al-Sharif)
“The Sealed Nectar” by Shaikh Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri/Abdul Malik Mujahid
“Men and Women Around the Messenger” by Sa’d Yusuf Abu ‘Aziz
“Four Rightly Guided Caliphs” – Al Khawarizmi compilation

www.alifradio.com

hadith of the day

ABU BAKR AS-SIDDIQ RA
(Life: 573AD – 634AD)
(Caliphate: 632AD – 634AD)

Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA and in no way can it cover all the points of his story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name is mentioned or the name of each Companion, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Narrated Abu Huraira
I heard Allah’s Apostle SAW saying,
“Anybody who spends a pair of something in Allah’s Cause will be called from all the gates of Paradise, “O Allah’s slave! This is good.’ He who is amongst those who pray will be called from the gate of the prayer (in Paradise) and he who is from the people of Jihad will be called from the gate of Jihad, and he who is from those’ who give in charity (i.e. Zakat) will be called from the gate of charity, and he who is amongst those who observe fast will be called from the gate of fasting, the gate of Raiyan.”
Abu Bakr said, “He who is called from all those gates will need nothing,” He added, “Will anyone be called from all those gates, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “Yes, and I hope you will be among those, O Abu Bakr.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 57 Hadith 18

PRE CONVERSION TO ISLAM

Who is this person who has done so many good deeds in his life that he has the privilege of entering Jannah from any of the gates that he chooses?

His real name was Abdullah ibn Abi Quhafa. He was a wealthy merchant, mild mannered, obliging and upright in nature. Even during the times of Jahiliyyah (ignorance), he maintained a high degree of conduct, and he was loved and respected by his community.

He was of Quraish ancestry, and born around two years after the birth of the Prophet SAW. During this time, like most Meccans, his parents were idol worshippers and he was also raised as such.

However, he felt sad and disturbed when he saw people circling, praying and kneeling before idols. He often wondered how people with faculties of sight, hearing and thought could prostrate before inanimate idols which could neither see, nor hear nor think. He kept wondering about this and one line from a poem was always in his mind:“(Is it better for me) to believe in one god or in one thousand gods in regards to the different affairs (of the universe)?”

He then started being in the company of good men who believed in the Lord of Ibrahim AS and whenever he heard them talk, he was inspired on the truthfulness of their statements – that idols were not and could not be gods. He had a premonition that Allah would be sending down a Prophet in the near future, and this was proven true after Muhammad SAW received his first revelation.

EVENTS LEADING UPTO AND INCLUDING HIS ACCEPTANCE OF ISLAM

Abu Bakr was one of the first people to respond to the Prophet’s SAW call to Islam. Ironically, it was Abu Jahl (Father of Ignorance), who later proved to be an arch enemy of Islam, who told Abu Bakr news of the Prophet SAW’s first revelation. Abu Bakr’s heart quickened at this piece of information, and upon hearing full details of it, verbally affirmed what he had suspected all along. He declared that “If he [Muhammad saw] really said so, then, he has said the truth.”

It was not blind faith, but rather his long term friendship and intimate knowledge of Muhammad’s SAW pure and honest characteristics that made Abu Bakr believe the truth of the divine revelation without question. Abu Bakr knew that what was said was no lie as it was not possible for Muhammad SAW “the repentant, penitent, pious, righteous, honest and pure tell a lie about Allah? Never! Never! Never!”

Without wasting any time, Abu Bakr rushed to the Prophet’s SAW house and upon entry asked whether the news that had reached him from the people was true. ‘They say that Allah has sent you to us (to order us) to worship Him Alone, and not associate anything with Him’. The Prophet SAWsaid: What did you answer them O Atiq?’ He said, ‘I said: If he said so, then he has told the truth’.

At this moment, the eyes of the Messenger of Allah SAW overflowed with tears. He embraced Abu Bakr and kissed his forehead. Then he narrated to him how the revelation came to him which he was in the cave of Hira.

Abu Bakr listened to the famous first words of the revelation – “Read, in the name of the Lord who created man from a clot….” lowered his head submissively and out of piety, in greeting of the banner of Allah, which in his mind’s eye, rose before high him, as manifest in those Holy Verses, sent down to the Prophet SAW. Then he lifted his head, and with both his hands, grasped the right hand of the Messenger of Allah SAW saying:“I bear testimony that you are a truthful honest. I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that you are the Messenger of Allah”.

Abu Bakr was the first person outside of the family of the Prophet SAW who embraced Islam. He entered into the religion quietly and strongly with certainty of belief. From that day until his death, he preferred the love of Allah and His Messenger above all else. Years later, when recalling the conversion of Abu Bakr, the Prophet SAW said, “Whenever I offered Islam to anyone, he always showed some reluctance and hesitation and tried to enter into an argument. Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam without any reluctance or hesitation and without any argument.”

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ISLAM DURING PROPHET’S SAW LIFETIME

How can one possibly recount all the qualities that would enable this man to enter Jannah through any of its gates? Below are a few key events.

Dakwah efforts
He was active in the call of people to Islam, and the people who accepted his call to Islam included Uthman bin Affan RA, who would later be the third of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. His conversion to Islam had an immediate repercussion on his flourishing business, which suffered a great deal. Yet, he still spent a great part of his wealth to alleviate the sufferings of the Muslims in distress, including the liberation of many slaves who had accepted Islam. The most famous of these was of course Bilal RA, whose freedom Abu Bakr purchased while Bilal was being severely tortured by the non-believers for refusing to renounce his monotheism.

Despite his status in society, Abu Bakr was not spared the boycott, abuse, persecution and torture inflicted upon many of the Muslims in the early days of the revelation. More than once, he interposed himself between the Quraishi attackers and the Prophet SAW, enduring severe beatings in the process.

His constant companionship and unflinching loyalty to the Prophet SAW saw them through some difficult key events over the next two decades, and would, in the near future be the Messenger’s SAW first successor as the ruler of the Islamic kingdom.

Isra’& Mihraj
The steadfastness of Abu Bakr’s character and faith in Islam was demonstrated when the Prophet SAW made a night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and then ascended to Heaven and returned. People had come to Abu Bakr to mock about the Prophet’s SAW journey, asserting that these events could not have taken place within one night.

Abu Bakr was steadfast and he understood that with Allah, anything is possible. His faith was strong and unshaken. He reaffirmed the Prophet’s SAW statements and said that “If he (the Prophet SAW) said so, then he has told the truth. I have believed him in what is more distant (to reason) that that, of divine information.”It was this incident that gave him the nickname As-Siddiq (the truthful).

Migration to Medina
Abu Bakr believed that Allah would not send down His Word to the people and leave it to be thrown away, second, that his belief in Islam should hold him responsible and ready to sacrifice himself (for the sake of this religion).

He thus decided that his mission was to make his life a fence to protect Islam and its Messenger SAW. The more dangerous it became and the more horrifying, “the more he would feel he was the luckiest, the most fortunate, the most rewarded and the happiest of all the inhabitants of the earth.”

When the situations of the early Muslims in Mecca became unbearable, it was decided that they would migrate to Medina (then known as Yathrib), in batches, to begin a new life in another city. Abu Bakr sought permission to migrate, but the Prophet SAW bade him to wait so that it was possible for him to have a companion when he himself migrated. Both of them were among the last to leave Mecca, once it was clear that the majority of the Muslims had safely been evacuated from Mecca and were out of imminent danger. With each passing day, the risk of danger on those who remained increased. Abu Bakr knew that that the migration to Medina would be paved with hardship, danger and risk, not least because of the assassination attempt plotted against the Messenger.

They left for Medina in the thick of the night, the cover of darkness making it possible for them to get past the Quraishi conspirators, and thus started a new chapter in the age of Islam.

The Cave of Thawr
Instead of taking the obvious route to Medina, they instead headed towards the opposite direction in order to throw off their pursuers. They then took refuge in the Cave of Thawr, where they spent three nights. Upon entering, the Prophet SAW, deeply exhausted by the arduous journey, immediately laid his head in Abu Bakr’s lap and fell asleep. Suddenly, a scorpion (and some reports say poisonous insect) stung Abu Bakr’s foot. Instead of flinching or crying out in pain, Abu Bakr remained still and silently bore the immense pain, so as not to break the Prophet’s SAW sleep. Can you imagine his devotion to the Messenger SAW? It was Abu Bakr’s tears falling on the Prophet’s SAW face that caused him to wake up.

Meanwhile, the Quraish were still in pursuit, and trekked up to the entrance of the cave. It was only a divine miracle that the two of them were concealed from their pursuers. Reported in Sahih Muslim Book 31 Hadith 5868 : Anas b. Malik reported that Abu Bakr Siddiq reported him thus: I saw the feet of the polytheists very close to us as we were in the cave. I said: Allah’s Messenger, if one amongst them were to see at his feet he would have surely seen us. Thereupon he said: Abu Bakr, what can befall twain who have Allah as the third One with them.

In Surat Al-Tawbah, Ayat 40, Allah SWT says
If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down his tranquillity upon him and supported him with angels you did not see…

What an honour was given to Abu Bakr, for being the companion of the Messenger SAW in the cave, and to have a place in the Holy Qu’ran.

Father-in-law of the Prophet
After the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija, Abu Bakr tried to console the Prophet SAW during his bereavement, and spent most of his time in the Prophet SAW’s company. He tried to fill the vacuum created by these deaths. Much later, it was suggested by Khawla bint Hakim that Abu Bakr should offer his daughter Aisha for marriage to the Prophet SAW. This request, while well received, proved to be diplomatically delicate, for Aisha was already engaged to Jubayr ibn Mut’im. However, this problem solved itself, as engagement was repudiated by the potential groom’s family on account of their disbelief in Islam. Thus, a simple ceremony was conducted to celebrate Aisha’s engagement to the Prophet SAW, although the marriage ceremony was held years later. In this way, Abu Bakr’s kinship with the Prophet SAW was cemented through the ties of marriage, and he was elated at the honour of being the Prophet’s father in law.

The Battle of Badr
The battle was difficult and the Messenger SAW kept supplicating to Allah for victory so that Allah can be worshipped on earth and supplicated so much that his voice became hoarse. Abu Bakr was with the Messenger SAW at this time and beseeched to the Messenger SAW to stop as Allah would no doubt fulfil what He has promised the Messenger SAW. Such was the faith of Abu Bakr, such was the support of Abu Bakr to the Messenger SAW.

The Death of the Messenger SAW
The death of the Messenger SAW stunned and created shockwaves throughout the community. Even Umar RA almost lost consciousness when he heard the news, and then firmly denied the truth of the report, threatening to cut off the hands and legs of those who claimed that the Prophet SAW had died.

Abu Bakr, who had already anticipated the death of the Prophet SAW, was the only one among the Companions who had the wisdom to handle this situation before it escalated into a nationwide hysteria and crisis. He spoke to no one until he went directly to Aisha’s RA room, where the lifeless body of the Messenger SAW lay. He uncovered the face of the Prophet SAW, leaned over, kissed him and said: “Let my mother and father be sacrificed for you, (O Allah’s Apostle), you are good in life and in death. By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, Allah will never make you taste death twice.”

He then went out, asked Umar to be seated and addressed the assembly: “Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is alive and shall never die.” He then recited “(O Muhammad) Verily you will die, and they also will die.” (Qur’an39:30) “Muhammad is no more than an Apostle; and indeed many Apostles have passed away, before him, If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah and Allah will give reward to those Who are grateful.” (Qur’an3:144)

Ibn Abbas said: “By Allah, it was as if the people had never heard the Qur’anic verse until Abu Bakr recited it as a reminder. So the people began reciting it until there was not a person who did not recite it.”

Hence, Abu Bakr’s wise intervention calmed unease and tension, and helped people in the transition to the next phase of Islam, where they were to live the Message without their beloved leader and Messenger SAW at the helm.

THE CALIPHATE RULE

Hence Islam entered a new era. The appointment of Abu Bakr as the first Caliph was already hinted by the Prophet SAW, who, on his illness prior to his death, had appointed Abu Bakr to lead the people in congregational prayer. We will not go into the political details of his appointment, but instead set out his achievements in securing the integrity and unity of the Muslim Ummah during his short rule below.

The First Speech
The continued humility of Abu Bakr, now the leader of a powerful people, is demonstrated in his inaugural speech:

“I’ve been appointed as ruler over you, though I’m not the best of you. If I did well (to you) then you should support me, and if I did evil (to you) then you should guide me to what is right….

Behold! The weak person amongst you would be considered as strong in my sight until I bring back to him his right (usurped by others). Behold! The strong person among you would be considered as weak in my sight until I take from him the right of others, which he usurped. You should obey me as long as I comply with (the orders and instructions of) Allah and His Messenger. But, if I deviated (from that), then you would have the right not to obey me”.

Those Who Refused to Pay Zakat/The Ridda Wars (War Against Apostates)
The beginning of Abu Bakr’s Caliphate rule started with one critical problem. Part of the Muslim community began to refuse to pay zakat (the obligatory charity) after the death of the Prophet SAW. It was a civil rebellion but was fast changing in becoming an armed rebellion. There was also a widespread threat of apostasy, initiated by the hypocrites.

There were 2 opposing views.

Some saw that the people who refused to pay zakat should not be fought so long as they committed nothing more than the refusal to pay the zakat.

The other view, the one which Abu Bakr adopted was that the payment of zakat is a pillar of Islam and the Caliph has no right to allow this rejection. If he did, that would be the beginning of many forms of rebellion on the religion.

In Sahih Muslim Book 1 Hadith 0029:
Umar b. Khattab said to Abu Bakr: Why would you fight against the people, when the Messenger of Allah declared: I have been directed to fight against people so long as they do not say: There is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was granted full protection of his property and life on my behalf except for a right? His (other) affairs rest with Allah. Upon this Abu Bakr said: By Allah, I would definitely fight against him who severed prayer from Zakat, for it is the obligation upon the rich. By Allah, I would fight against them even to secure the cord (used for hobbling the feet of a camel) which they used to give to the Messenger of Allah (as zakat) but now they have withheld it. Umar b. Khattab remarked: By Allah, I found nothing but the fact that Allah had opened the heart of Abu Bakr for (perceiving the justification of) fighting (against those who refused to pay Zakat) and I fully recognized that the (stand of Abu Bakr) was right.

The view held by Abu Bakr showed the certainty of his faith and the depth of his insight as caliph and a caller to Islam to keep away from any innovation. It was a proof of his obedience to Islam.

Compilation of the Qur’an
During the lifetime of the Prophet SAW, the revelation was a constant process and there was no occasion for compiling the various verses on the form of a book. After his death, the process of revelation ended, and there arose the need to preserve the verses in a physical form. Many of the “Huffaz” were martyred in the battle of Yamanah, and it occurred to Umar that there was a danger that no one could be depended upon as a reliable custodian of the Qur’an.

Hence, he suggested to Abu Bakr that all the revelations of the Qur’an should be collected and compiled into a systematic book. Abu Bakr was initially reluctant for the fear of committing innovation, but Umar eventually convinced him otherwise. It was a laborious process, undertook by Zaid bin Thabit with the help and counsel of various Companions. The final version was scrutinised, amended and approved of by Abu Bakr, who himself was a Hafiz. Thus, Umar and Abu Bakr were instrumental in the preservation of the most holy book that we have on earth today.

The Creation of the Treasury
A treasury was created and a stipend of food and money were given from the Treasury to the Caliph. Abu Bakr was insistent that the Treasury only give what would suffice for him and his dependents reasonably and fairly. He used to still live frugally and was very careful not to eat anything where there was suspicion and was not extravagant. He was concerned that extravagance would lead to illegal ways of living.

He once said, “Every human body which grew up from an ill-gotten property, would be more entitled to enter the fire of Hell, so I am afraid that a portion of my body might grow up from this unlawful morsel.”

So much so, that before he died he called Aisha RA, his daughter, to look at his wealth and whatever increased in his wealth after being appointed Caliph was to be returned to the Treasury.

Umar cried when he saw what was left of Abu Bakr’s assets after Aisha RA returned the wealth to the Treasury. Abu Bakr’s assets only consisted of a camel, a milking vessel and a garment. A complete change from when he first entered Islam where he was a wealthy man – at the peak of his wealth. Abu Bakr had spent everything he had for Allah.

How He Lived:
Abu Bakr was so concerned of going astray that he would continuously supplicate to Allah: “O Allah, the turner of hearts! Make my heart constantly firm in your religion” and he would say “By Allah, I would not rest assured and feel safe from Allah’s punishment even if one of my feet was in Paradise”. He lived humbly and in humility to Allah.

HIS DEATH
The circumstances of his death are unclear. There are two accounts. One he was poisoned and it took a year for the poison to be effective and the other, from an illness. He died a man, in submission to Allah, in piety to Allah, humble before Allah, in humility to Allah, in service of the Ummah, the first successor to the Messenger of Allah SAW.

The Messenger of Allah SAW talked so much about (the good merits of) Abu Bakr. From among what he said about him, a mention might be made of the following: “There is no one who did a favour to us, but that we gave him a reward for it, except for Abu Bakr, who has done a favour to us, for which Allah would give him reward on the Day of Judgement.”

Acknowledgement
Most of the information for this work has been obtained from:
“The Successors of the Messenger (Allah’s Blessing and Peace be upon Him)” authored by Khalid Muhammad Khalid (and translated into English by Muhammad Mahdi Al-Sharif)

“The Sealed Nectar”by Shaikh Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri/Abdul Malik Mujahid

“Men and Women Around the Messenger” by Sa’d Yusuf Abu ‘Aziz

Narrated Abu Umamah: A man said, “Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) what rights can parents demand from their children?” He replied, “They are your Paradise and your Hell.”
Ibn Majah transmitted it.
Al-Tirmidhi – Hadith 1277

Narrated Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) when Allah’s Apostle was ordered to give option to his wives, he started with me, saying, “I am going to mention to you something, but you shall not hasten (to give your reply) unless you consult your parents.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) knew that my parents would not order me to leave him. Then he said, “Allah says: ‘O Prophet (Muhammad)! Say to your wives: If you desire the life of this world and its glitter…a great reward.” (33.28-29) I said, “Then why I consult my parents? Verily, I seek Allah, His Apostle and the Home of the Hereafter.” Then all the other wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) did the same as I did.
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 60 Hadith 309

Narrated Asma bint Abu Bakr: My mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle and she was a pagan. I said to Allah’s Apostle (seeking his verdict), “My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Yes, keep good relation with her.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 47 Hadith 789

Narrated Al Walid bin Aizar: I heard AbiAmr ‘Ash-Shaibani saying, “The owner of this house,” (he pointed to ‘Abdullah’s house) said, ‘I asked the Prophet, ‘Which deed is loved most by Allah?’ He replied, ‘To offer prayers at their early (very first) stated times.’ ‘Abdullah asked, ‘What is the next (in goodness)?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘To be good and dutiful to one’s parents.’ ‘Abdullah asked, ‘What is the next (in goodness)?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘To participate in Jihad for Allah’s Cause.’ ‘Abdullah added, ‘The Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated to me these three things, and if I had asked more, he would have told me more.’ ”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 73 Hadith 1

Narrated Mu’awiyah ibn Hayadah: I said: Apostle of Allah! To whom should I show kindness? He replied: Your mother, next your mother, next your mother, and then comes your father, and then your relatives in order of relationship. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: If a man asks his slave whom he freed for giving him property which is surplus with him and he refuses to give it to him, the surplus property which he refused to give will be called on the Day of resurrection as a large bald snake.
Sunan of Abu-Dawood – Book 41 Hadith 5120

Narrated Abu Darda: A man came to him and said: I have a wife and my mother asks me to divorce her. AbudDarda’ said to him that he had heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying: A father is one of the strongest doors of Paradise, If you wish you may pull it down, or if you wish you may protect it.
Al-Tirmidhi- Hadith 127

Narrated Al Mughira: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has forbidden you (1) to be undutiful to your mothers (2) to withhold (what you should give) or (3) demand (what you do not deserve), and (4) to bury your daughters alive. And Allah has disliked that (A) you talk too much about others ( B), ask too many questions (in religion), or (C) waste your property.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 73 Hadith 6

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr: Allah’s Apostle said. “It is one of the greatest sins that a man should curse his parents.” It was asked (by the people), “O Allah’s Apostle! How does a man curse his parents?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The man abuses the father of another man and the latter abuses the father of the former and abuses his mother.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 73 Hadith 4

Narrated Ibn Abbas: (In the Pre-Islamic Period) the children used to inherit all the property but the parents used to inherit only through a will. So Allah cancelled that which He liked to cancel and decreed that the share of a son was to be twice the share of a daughter, and for the parents one-sixth for each one of them, or one third, and for the wife one-eighth or one-fourth, and for the husband one-half, or one-fourth.
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 60 Hadith 102

Narrated Ibn Masud: A man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) “What deeds are the best?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: (1) To perform the (daily compulsory) prayers at their (early) stated fixed times, (2) To be good and dutiful to one’s own parents. (3) and to participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 93 Hadith 625

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr: A man said to the Prophet, “Shall I participate in Jihad?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Are your parents living?” The man said, “Yes.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do Jihad for their benefit.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 73 Hadith 3

Narrated Abdullah: I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) “Which deed is the dearest to Allah?” He replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” I asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s cause.” ‘Abdullah added, “I asked only that much and if I had asked more, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have told me more.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 10 Hadith 505

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: When we were with the Prophet (peace be upon him) on one of his expeditions he came upon some people and asked who they were, to which they replied that they were Muslims. A woman who had a son of hers with her was kindling a fire under her pot, and when the heat increased she moved him away. She then went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked, “You for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom, tell me if Allah is not the Most Merciful of those who are merciful.” He replied that He certainly was. She asked, “Is Allah not More Merciful to His servants than a mother to her child?” and when he assured her that He certainly was, she replied that a mother does not cast her child into the fire. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) then bowed his head and wept, and afterwards raised it, looked at her and said, “Allah punishes only those of His servants who act audaciously towards Him and refuse to say that there is no god but Allah.”
IbnMajah transmitted it.
Al-Tirmidhi – Hadith 756

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amribn al-‘As: A man came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: I came to you to take the oath of allegiance to you on emigration, and I left my parents weeping. He (the Prophet) said: Return to them and make them laugh as you made them weep.
Sunan of Abu-Dawood – Book 14 Hadith 2522

Islam consists of three main layers.

Unfortunately, many Muslims focus on, or adhere to, only one or two of these layers.

Some think that Islam consists in believing in God and his Prophet, five daily prayers, fasting the month of Ramadan, paying poor due, and Pilgrimage if one can afford it.

These are the five Pillars of Islam, without which there is no Islam. Yet this is only the first layer! The Pillars go hand in hand with the six Articles of Faith – or the second layer.

What many may not be conscious of is the third layer which is called Ihsan. It is through this layer that a believer would truly experience the essence of Islam.

This level cannot be achieved without the first two levels. Yet, when we neglect this layer, one may feel lost or disoriented about the true purpose of life and their relationship with Allah. In such state, the true essence of “love” also gets distorted.

More Articles by the Author

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– Reflection with Skeptic on Surah Fussilat

So, What is Ihsan?

Here is a very interesting story from the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Umar ibn al-Khattab said:

“One day when we were with God’s messenger, a man with very white clothing and very black hair came up to us. No mark of travel was visible on him, and none of us recognized him. Sitting down before the Prophet, leaning his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs, he said, “Tell me, Muhammad, about submission.”

He replied, ‘Submission means that you should bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, that you should perform the ritual prayer, pay the alms tax, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to go there.”

The man said, “You have spoken the truth.” We were surprised at his questioning him and then declaring that he had spoken the truth. He said “Now tell me about faith.” He replied, “Faith means that you have faith in God, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you have faith in the measuring out, both its good and its evil.”

Remarking that he had spoken the truth, he then said, “Now tell me about doing what is Ihsan.” He replied, “Ihsan means that you should worship God as if you see Him, for even if you do not see Him, He sees you.” Then the man said, “Tell me about the Hour” The Prophet replied, “About that he who is questioned knows no more than the questioner.”

The man said, “Then tell me about its marks.” He said, “The slave girl will give birth to her mistress, and you will see the barefoot, the naked, the destitute, and the shepherds vying with each other in building.” Then the man went away. After I had waited for a long time, the Prophet said to me:

“Do you know who the questioner was, ‘Umar?”

I replied, “God and His messenger know best.”

He said, “He was Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion.” (Al-Bukhari, 300)

From this narration, many scholars have concluded that Ihsan is the inner most spiritual part of Islam.

We find in Prophetic narrations and the Quran to often refer to those embodying these three stages as Muslim, Mu’min and Muhsin.

Love is Islam’s Inner Dimension
Love in a worldly sense is the product of the mind. Yet love in a spiritual sense is the product of the soul.

Is it possible for anyone to achieve true love for others and the self before loving the Creator first?

You may say yes, and go on to say that even atheists can feel a deep love for others and even themselves.

That is true, but worldly love is at the mercy of a person’s emotions, state of mind and circumstances. But when one loves the Creator above all else, and reaches the level of Ihsan, all other surface love melt into this eternal love which is manifestation of Divine presence in the soul of the believer.

Love in a worldly sense is the product of the mind. Yet love in a spiritual sense is the product of the soul.

Here comes the role of religion which fills a purpose beyond its apparent form, with creeds, rituals and physical acts. But one with a deep inner wisdom will see religion as a house with inner dimension which is its soul.

Love – Western Style

Searching for Western interpretation of “love,” I came across a few interesting quotes:

“Love knows no reason, no boundaries, no distance. It has a sole intention of bringing people together to a time called forever.”

“When you have a good heart: You help too much. You trust too much. You give too much. You love too much. And it always seems you hurt the most.”

“Love is true when nothing needs to be said, and when nothing needs to be done.”

“True love is like a ghost, always talked about but rarely seen.”

“True love knows no boundaries even though it crosses many.”

Love – Islamic Style
The state of Ihsan is a state of immense awareness of the divine presence of Allah

In Islam, true love has to penetrate the soul. The only way to get there is through reaching the inner dimension of Islam. It is in this state that a deep manifestation of love radiates from the entire being by which all others are blessed. This was the state of the Prophets and those near to God.

Can we achieve such state?

The answer is a definite yes, but with some deeper reflections and practices.

Body without a soul is dead. Yet, a soul without deep love and awareness of the Creator serves only as a conduit between this world and the next for its owner but without purpose. So, a believer strives for the state of Ihsan.

The state of Ihsan is a state of immense awareness of the divine presence of Allah Almighty. It is the state of consciousness. It’s an awakened state and this is the actual goal of Islam.

But one cannot attain this without knowledge and adherence to the first two states. The best time to practice reaching this state is during the daily prayers as well as during dhikr (remembrance of Allah).

With time, practice and steadfastness, we move from the state of being a Muslim (accepting and practicing Islam), to a Mu’min (a believer) and lastly to a Muhsin (the ever aware of Allah’s presence).

The Prophet Muhammad said that there’s a piece of flesh within the body. If it’s good, the entire system will be good, and that is the heart.

We can thus see that the heart, which most people consider to be the abode of love and compassion, is the seat of the religion of Islam. Purification of the heart is very closely related to purification of the soul. The heart we are speaking of here is the spiritual heart which is closely connected to the spiritual soul.

The spiritual heart and soul are nourished through the remembrance of Allah.

{Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.} (13:28)
what makes us special is our sincerity in pursuit of truth, love for others and…

We strive to reach this deeper stage first with the body, then mind and ultimately with the heart/soul. This is really the essence of Islam. The mind is transcended from a lower base to a much higher state of being where it is in harmony with the soul. This is the transcended mind.

It is important we realize that labeling ourselves as Muslims and followers of Muhammad, merely gives us an outer identity. Yet what makes us special is our sincerity in pursuit of truth, love for others and eagerness to be bearer of Divine love and light.

A Re-Awakening Story

A Muslim sister once told me that before she embraced Islam, she looked for an identity and a safe community to belong to. She liked what she saw with the Muslim community. “I got what I wanted,” she said.

Soon she realized that she needed deeper experience of Islam over and above her new identity. Allah guided her to all three dimensions of Islam due to her zest to go beyond the surface of Islam. She went for the depth of Islam. “I wished to go beyond form,” she said.

Today, she is a great manifestation of love, light and guidance for those around her. She has gained knowledge of Islam while she reached out to the more spiritual inner core.

“I feel like a winner. I looked for knowledge and practice that pointed toward Allah and I got immersed with love in return!”

Narrated Abu Huraira:

While the Prophet (ﷺ) was saying something in a gathering, a Bedouin came and asked him, “When would the Hour (Doomsday) take place?” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) continued his talk, so some people said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had heard the question, but did not like what that Bedouin had asked. Some of them said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had not heard it. When the Prophet (ﷺ) finished his speech, he said, “Where is the questioner, who inquired about the Hour (Doomsday)?” The Bedouin said, “I am here, O Allah’s Apostle .” Then the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (Doomsday).” The Bedouin said, “How will that be lost?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When the power or authority comes in the hands of unfit persons, then wait for the Hour (Doomsday.)”

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ سِنَانٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا فُلَيْحٌ، ح وَحَدَّثَنِي إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ الْمُنْذِرِ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ فُلَيْحٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي قَالَ، حَدَّثَنِي هِلاَلُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ، عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ بَيْنَمَا النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي مَجْلِسٍ يُحَدِّثُ الْقَوْمَ جَاءَهُ أَعْرَابِيٌّ فَقَالَ مَتَى السَّاعَةُ فَمَضَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُحَدِّثُ، فَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ سَمِعَ مَا قَالَ، فَكَرِهَ مَا قَالَ، وَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ بَلْ لَمْ يَسْمَعْ، حَتَّى إِذَا قَضَى حَدِيثَهُ قَالَ ‏”‏ أَيْنَ ـ أُرَاهُ ـ السَّائِلُ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ هَا أَنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَإِذَا ضُيِّعَتِ الأَمَانَةُ فَانْتَظِرِ السَّاعَةَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ كَيْفَ إِضَاعَتُهَا قَالَ ‏”‏ إِذَا وُسِّدَ الأَمْرُ إِلَى غَيْرِ أَهْلِهِ فَانْتَظِرِ السَّاعَةَ ‏”‏‏.‏

One little leaf of green tea offers huge health benefits, especially when you consider its size. Multiple studies have shown that there are many health benefits that green tea offers.

Most studies base their findings on the typical Asian consumption of green tea of three cups a day. Also, it should be mentioned that in Asia, traditionally the same tea leaves are reused.

Some herbalists and nutritionists believe that this aids in rehydrating the body, as green tea can have a slightly dehydrating effect.

Health Benefits

According to Mateljan, studies have shown that green tea may be beneficial in a number of conditions such as: · Multiple sclerosis · Cancer · Alzheimer’s disease · Parkinson’s diseases · Rheumatoid arthritis · Cardiovascular diseases · Impaired immune function. It has also shown protective qualities against: · Heart diseases · Heart attacks  · Cancer (esophageal, prostrate, breast, lung, colon, ovarian) · Tooth decay · Hypertension · Brain tumors in children · Gallstones · Kidney disease · Osteoporosis Other benefits include that it: · Reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood · Improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol. · Raises metabolism and increases fat oxidation (weight loss) · Thins blood and prevents clotting · Assists in recovery after a heart attack · Helps minimize brain damage after a stroke · Improves the effectiveness of cancer drugs while reducing their side effects · Improves insulin sensitivity in adult onset diabetes (Type II) · Builds bones · Protects liver from harmful substances · Increases exercise endurance

Amazingly, a 2006 Japanese study found that women who consumed 3 to 5 cups of green tea a day enjoyed a 23% lowered risk of dying from any cause, while men enjoyed a 12% lowered risk. (Kuriyama et al)

Why It Works

Both flavonoids and EGCG are anti-oxidants and they promote health by scavenging for free radicals before they can cause damage to the body.

EGCG is believed to be responsible for green tea’s cancer preventing abilities. One cup of green tea provides 20-35 mg of EGCG. (Mateljan)

Is Green Tea for Every One?

Green tea contains caffeine, although less then coffee. The gunpowder varieties of green tea are high in caffeine, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, be sure to select a green tea with the least amount of caffeine. You can also brew the tea for less time.

There are some conditions and situations in which you would not want to drink green tea.

The tannins found in green tea (which make it taste bitter) can decrease the absorption of certain drugs, causing them to be less effective.

The caffeine in green tea can also cause an increase in absorption of certain drugs, causing the dose amount to be increased.

Therefore, green tea can prove to be dangerous if you are taking drugs containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or theophylline.

Women who drink large amounts of green tea right before or during pregnancy increase the risk of their baby being born with spina bifida or other neural tube disorders associated with folic acid deficiency, due to green tea’s ability to decrease folic acid levels.

Also, if you are anemic or prone to iron deficiency, you should limit your intake of green tea to one cup a day due to green tea’s ability to interfere with iron absorption.

How to Select the Best Green Tea

China boasts the largest variety of green teas ranging from the Gunpowder variety to the award winning Pan Long Yin Hao, for its complex brew of multiple flavors.

There are various types of green tea. The most notable differences are the teas from Japan, China and India.

The world’s first organic green tea was produced in India. There is no clear agreement as to which green tea is the best.

The different varieties found in these three countries are like all foods and are enjoyed for many factors.

The teas from India, most notably from Darjeeling, are noted for its robust flavor, while still being light.

The best Chinese tea is thought to be harvested during the early spring.

China boasts the largest variety of green teas ranging from the Gunpowder variety to the award winning Pan Long Yin Hao, for its complex brew of multiple flavors.

In Japan, the best teas are those coming from Shizuoka and Uji. Sencha is the most common green tea in Japan and is high in vitamin C and has is slightly bitter and astringent (drying) in taste.

I prefer my green tea to be less astringent, with a light and sweet taste. I also prefer organic green tea, especially when it is grown in China.

This criteria means I usually go with an Indian Darjeeling tea. The nutritional content of the green tea will vary according to growing conditions.

There are also alcohol-free extracts as well as supplements available for those who are interested in a standardized form of green tea, usually used for medicinal purposes to treat a particular disease.

However, a nicely brewed cup of green tea is the best form of prevention.

How to Brew a Cup of Green Tea

I prefer loose leaf tea to bagged green tea as I can control the amount of tea I use. If you want to brew a small cup of tea, say 5 ounces, you would use 3 grams of loose leaf tea and for a larger cup of 8 oz, use 4 grams of loose leaf tea. However, a cup of green tea begins with water.

Avoid using tap or distilled water. Instead use a spring or filtered water. You never want to use boiling water to pour over your green tea.

Allow it to just come to a boil (when bubbles begin to form at the bottom of the kettle or pan). Let the tea seep for 30 seconds to one minute.

Darjeeling and Nilgiri teas may take up to a few minutes to brew while Chinese Dragonwell can take up to seven minutes to infuse.

The most important thing to remember is to select a tea that you enjoy and remember green tea is not a replacement for water.

 

Just Turn to Him
By Neveen Shedid

The answer to all your questions, the solution to all your problems, the full help and support you need in life can only be found when you turn to God, and God alone.

It’s complicated.

You don’t know where to start, you just don’t want to miss any minute detail in telling your story.

You are trying so hard to remember each and every incident and justify it.

Does this sound familiar?

This happens to all of us when we have a problem and start spilling it out to our close friends looking for solutions, suggestions, or even just the opportunity to speak about it in a desperate attempt to relieve ourselves from the burden.

No matter how careful you are not to miss any details, still you fail to bring the full blown picture to the person to whom you are telling your problem, because simply, that person wasn’t there.

And no matter how resourceful this person is and no matter how many great solutions he can offer you, still he doesn’t own the means to make them work, and even if he does, he can’t guarantee that these solutions will work 100%, as he can’t foresee the future.

The answer to all your questions, the solution to all your problems, the full help and support you need in life can only be found when you turn to God, and God alone.

Let’s run the previous scenario again of narrating your problem to a friend and compare it to telling God your problem asking Him for His guidance. All you have to do is raise your hands and say “O Allah, please help me in this”.

You don’t have to worry that you didn’t explain your problem or request properly, or forgot to add something, or spend hours elaborating and narrating. He was there with you, He knows it all, He sees it all, He knows what your intentions were, He knows the past, present, and future, so no need to worry.

This in itself is the greatest relief anyone can get. All the time, we want things but don’t know how to get them, and don’t know if they will turn out to be good for us or not. This is why it’s always best to ask all what you want from Allah, and then ask Him to guide you to the means of achieving it.

You should never doubt that Allah listens to your prayers and will grant you what you want. You just have to keep in mind that Allah answers your prayers in the way and time He sees fit.

Prophet Muhammad said:

“The invocation of any one of you is granted [by Allah] as long as he does not show impatience by saying “I have invoked Allah but my request has not been answered.” (Al-Bukhari, 6340)

The other point one has to keep in mind is that Allah will grant you what you asked for, but maybe not in the exact form you wanted, as He knows better what’s best for you. You have to have full confidence in Allah’s choice for you, for only He knows what’s best for you.

Prophet Muhammad said:

“Any Muslim who supplicates to Allah in a duaa which contains no sin or breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either his duaa will be immediately answered or, it will be saved for him in the Hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)” The Companions said, “So we will ask for more”. He replied, “Allah is more (generous).” (At-Tirmidhi, 3573)

So make sure to pray hard to Allah asking Him for the goodness of the two worlds, for His forgiveness, and for His ultimate mercy.

Be sure that Allah listens to each and every one of His servants, and that His generosity is abundant and limitless. Just turn to Him and ask all what you want.

God says in the Quran what means:

{And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you…} (40:60)