Episode 33: A Community in the Making – Some of the early Companions (ra)
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
A hadith by Imam Ahmad reports that the first seven people to make their Islam known were the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), Abu Bakr, Ammar ibn Yasir, his mother Sumayyah, Suhayb, Bilal and Miqdad. As far as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was concerned, he was defended by means of his uncle, Abu Talib. Abu Bakr was protected by his people, Banu Taym. As for the rest, they were at the mercy of the disbelievers and their harsh treatment e.g. they would grab them, dress them in armour of iron and leave them to scorch in the hot desert sun. All were eventually able to have some reprieve from the torture, except Bilal. He would be handed over to the children of Makkah, who would tie him up and drag him around the streets of Makkah, as he proclaimed the oneness of Allah.
Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) took the message to some prominent, remarkable people: he was the direct means of delivering Islam to the following people in the first few days of himself becoming Muslim:
- ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan
- al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam
- Talhah ibn Ubaidullah
- Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas
- Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf
He gathered them together, took them to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), who presented Islam to them and they all believed.
Abu Bakr had many qualities, including being:
- a leader of his people
- a businessman
- of good character: he was never known to engage in social evils e.g. he was never intoxicated
- an expert in genealogy i.e. of family trees. Later on, when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) engaged in more dawah, Abu Bakr would accompany him; he would start off a conversation by identifying family ties and then would introduce the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), who could deliver his message.
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that someone who guides towards something that is good, it is as if he has done it himself i.e. he gets the reward for it as well. Also, whoever starts a good practice in Islam gets the reward of it and the reward of whoever will follow that good practice i.e. it is a form of Sadaqah Jariyah.
Talhah ibn Ubaidullah
Talhah ibn Ubaidullah reports he went to the souk of Busra. There, a worshipper in his temple was enquiring from the people if anyone from the Haram was present. Thus, Talhah presented himself. The worshipper asked if Ahmed had appeared. Talhah enquired who this was: he said he was son of Abdullah, the son of Abdul Muttalib, and that this was the month he was supposed to become apparent to the people as the finality of the Prophets. The worshipper also commented how he would appear at the Haram and later migrate to a place described as the landscape of Madina at that time. The worshipper tells Talhah that he must find this Prophet and attach to him. Talhah quickly departed home and the residents of Makkah confirmed that in his absence, Muhammad al-Amin ‘pretends’ to be a Prophet and that Abu Bakr has followed him. Talhah went to Abu Bakr, who confirmed he followed the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Abu Bakr advised Talhah to go and meet him and to follow him as he called to the truth. Abu Bakr took him to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and he accepted Islam.
Other Early Converts
The next day, Uthman bin Maz’un, Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah (dubbed by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as the most trustworthy man of this Ummah), Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf and Abu Salamah bin Abdul Asad (whose wife was Umm Salamah, who would later marry the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) after the passing of her husband), Arqam ibn Abi Arqam (the founder of Darul Arqam, the first safe place of worshipping in Makkah for the Muslims) all came to Islam.
Going Public with the Message
Narrations mention that at this point in time, there were almost 40 believers. Abu Bakr told the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) that they should go public. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not issue a command, but expressed concern that the group was few in number. Abu Bakr acknowledged this, but felt they should still go public. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) agreed: the believers went to the masjid and spread out. Each person went and sat next to some people from his tribe/family as a natural way of having a stronger showing.
Abu Bakr stood up and addressed the people. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was sitting near the Banu Hashim. This was the first time someone spoke calling to the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Abu Bakr and the other Muslims were mobbed: Utbah ibn Rabi’ah, a spiteful enemy to Islam, took his hard-soled shoe, sat on the chest of Abu Bakr, and started to beat his face: Abu Bakr was hardly recognisable after this assault. Banu Taym eventually came to his rescue and rushed him to his mother’s home. The tribe took an oath at the Ka’ba that if Abu Bakr died, they would publicly murder Utbah ibn Rabi’ah as retribution.
Abu Bakr did not wake up for a day. On regaining consciousness, he immediately asked about the well-being of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). All the leaders of his family became angry that he was still concerned about the Prophet after what had happened and they left. His mother approached him with food and water and again he enquired about the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). His mother swore to God that she did not know what had happened to him. Abu Bakr then advised his mother to go to Umm Jameel, the sister of Umar ibn al-Khattab, as she would have further information. His mother went to Umm Jameel and asked her to come to see Abu Bakr as she was not forthcoming with information for fear of her own safety. Umm Jameel screamed when she saw Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr enquired about the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam): Umm Jameel commented on how his mother was listening, but Abu Bakr reassured her. Umm Jameel reported the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was fine and present at the house of Arqam ibn Abi Arqam.
Abu Bakr swore he would not eat or drink until he saw the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself. They waited until evening and Umm Jameel and his mother carried Abu Bakr leaning on them for support to the house of Arqam. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) went and hugged Abu Bakr and kissed him on the forehead, with tears in his eyes. Abu Bakr said ‘ Oh Messenger, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you. I do not care what happens to my face as long as I know you are ok.’ He then mentioned that his mother was a good person and he asked the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to call her to Allah and make dua to Allah that he put Islam in her heart. He hoped that Allah would save her from the fire by means of the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Abu Bakr’s mother accepted Islam.
Abdullah ibn Masud
Abdullah bin Masud was great companion. The sahabah said they used to think he was from the family of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). When the ayah about seeking permission before entering the home of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) came down, Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) gave the instruction to Abdullah ibn Masud to just enter the house as an exception. He was given the good news of Paradise and was told by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) that one leg of Abdullah ibn Masud’s will be weighed on the Day of Judgement and it will be heavier than the seven heavens and seven earths. All the knowledge of the sahabah used to end at Abdullah ibn Masud or Ali ibn Abu Talib i.e. they knew the most of the religion. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) gave him a ‘blank cheque’, in that he said that anything you hear from Abdullah ibn Masud, know it has come from me.
As a young boy, he accepted Islam after direct contact with the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). He was hired to watch over some camels who used to graze outside Makkah. One day, Abu Bakr and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) came and asked if he had any milk to share. Abdullah replied that the camels did not belong to him. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) asked if there were any camels that were still young and not part of the herd: Abdullah confirmed there were. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) found a young she-camel who had not been bred yet, touched the camel and the udders filled with milk. Abu Bakr found a rock like a bowl, cleaned it out and he sat down and milked the camel. Once milked, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) placed his hand on the camel and said, ‘Recede’. The udders then disappeared. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) called Abdullah ibn Masud and all three drank the milk. Thus Abdullah ibn Masud accepted Islam.