The Messenger of Allah salalaho ‘alayhi wasalam asked, “From where are you, O brother of Arabs?”
When Abu Dharr replied, a broad smile was shown on the mouth of the Messenger salalaho ‘alayhi wasalam. His face was covered by surprise. Abu Dharr laughed as well because he too knew the reason of such a surprise.
Abu Dharr RA narrated the story saying, ‘The Messenger of Allah salalaho ‘alayhi wasalam started raising his eyes and gazing, out of his surprise and commented, ‘It is Allah, Who guides whomever He Wills.’
Abu Dharr al-Ghifari radi-Allahu ‘anhu was from the people of Ghifar. They were notorious to be highway robbers. They were the allies of the night and darkness; and woe to him who was surrendered by the night to any of them!
Why did he grab my attention?
We are a society of imbalance. We do not know the real definition of certain traits anymore. Courage is one of those traits. People nowadays think that courage is being ‘out there’ , being fearless and being adamantly firm on one’s opinions. Someone is courageous when they are patient in challenging times as well. But the positive meaning of it is fading.
When a human becomes fearless, he becomes independent and does not really care about what the world brings to him. He’s going to do what he thinks he must do and he’s never going to bend to anything/anyone.
It brings on the attitude of ‘I don’t care!’
The problematic part is when a person reaches a certain level of courage, which if not checked, transforms into stubbornness and arrogance. However, you will see people still labeling it as ‘courage’. In our modern-day society, it has also a shade of meaning in which people call committing acts of shamelessness as being a sign of courage.
I found a quote that describes the Sahabi this post is about, i.e. Abu Dharr RA :
‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’
Measuring people’s level of patience during trying times, in the context of their background, tells us about their true worth. It is a greater sign of courage when a person who has the natural disposition to be angry controls his anger compared to a person who has the natural disposition to be sweet-tempered. That’s why it is more shocking when we hear/read that the fearless and strong Umar bin Khattab RA had permanent lines on his face because he used to cry often. We somehow associate fearlessness with hard hearts. Umar RA , a true man, and crying? Yes! He RA used to cry out of the fear of Allah SWT more often than we have instances in which we have Khushoo’ in our Salah.
Abu Dharr RA was a man from dangerous tribe, was a man who had no fear whatsoever.
But when it came to the commands of Allah SWT and then His Messenger salalaho ‘alayhi wasalam, he obeyed.
He submitted. He didn’t roar and shout.
He didn’t throw things and become violent like some Muslim men do, when they are told the Truth.
He was a true man, mashaa’Allah and I immediately got impressed by his personality. He defined for me what courage was and so I thought I’d share. So please keep the definition of ‘courage’ at the back of your head and analyze the story accordingly.
1) ‘ Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak…’ – Abu Dharr RA’s Intriguing Story of Conversion:
Unease with the Tribe’s Practices and Inquiry Regarding Islam
‘Abdullah b. Samit reported that Abu Dharr said: We set out from our tribe Ghafir who look upon the prohibited months as permissible months. I and my brother Unais and our mother stayed with our maternal uncle who treated us well. The men of his tribe fell jealous and they said: When you are away from your house, Unais commits adultery with your wife. Our maternal uncle came and he accused us of the sin which was conveyed to him. I said: You have undone the good you did to us. We cannot stay with you after this. We came to our camels and loaded (our) luggage. Our maternal uncle began to weep covering himself with (a piece of) cloth. We proceeded on until we encamped by the side of Mecca. Unais cast lot on the camels (we had) and an equal number (above that). They both went to a Kahin and he made Unais win and Unais came with our camels and an equal number along with them. He (Abu Dharr) said: My nephew, I used to observe prayer three years before my meeting with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). I said: For whom did you say prayer? He said: For Allah. I said: To which direction did you turn your face (for observing prayer)? He said: I used to turn my face as Allah has directed me to turn my face. I used to observe the night prayer at the time of the end of night and I fell down in prostration like the mantle until the sun rose over me. Unais said: I have a work in Mecca, so you better stay here. Unais went until he came to Mecca and he came to me late. I said: What did you do? He said: I met a person in Mecca who is on your religion and he claims that verily it is Allah Who has sent him. I said: What do the people say about him? He said: They say that he is a poet or a Kahin or a magician. Unais who was himself one of the poets said. I have heard the words of a Kahin but his words in no way resemble his (words). And I also compared his words to the verses of poets but such words cannot be uttered by any poet. By Allah, he is truthful and they are liars. Then I said: you stay here, until I go, so that I should see him.
Thirst to Know the Truth and not Trusting unless going to investigate first-hand
He said: I came to Mecca and I selected an insignificant person from amongst them and said to him: Where is he whom you call as-Sabi? He pointed out towards me saying: He is Sabi. Thereupon the people of the valley attacked me with sods and bows until I fell down unconscious. I stood up after having regained my consciousness and I found as if I was a red idol. I came to Zamzarn and washed blood from me and drank water from it and listen, O son of my brother, I stayed there for thirty nights or days and there was no food for me but the water of Zamzam. And I became so bulky that there appeared wrinkles upon my stomach, and I did not feel any hunger in my stomach.
Hatred for Idol-worship from the Beginning – The Odd One Out
It was during this time that the people of Mecca slept in the moonlit night and none was there to circumambulate the House but only two women who had been invoking the name of Isafa, and Na’ila (the two idols). They came to me while in their circuit and I said: Marry one with the other, but they did not dissuade from their invoking. They came to me and I said to them: Insert wood (in the idols’ private parts). (I said this to them in such plain words) as I could not express in metaphorical terms. These women went away crying and saying: Had there been one amongst our people (he would have taught a lesson to you for the obscene words used for our idols before us). These women met Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr who had also been coming down the hill. He asked them: What has happened to you? They said: There is Sabi, who has hidden himself between the Ka’ba and its curtain. He said: What did he say to you? They said: He uttered such words before us as we cannot express.
Meeting Rasulalah Salalaho ‘alayhi wasalam
Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came and he kissed the Black Stone and circumambulated the House along with his Companion and then observed prayer, and when he had finished his prayer, Abu Dharr said: I was the first to greet him with the salutation of peace and uttered (these words) in this way; Allah’s Messenger, may there be peace upon you, whereupon he said: It may be upon you too and the mercy of Allah. He then said: Who are you? I said: From the tribe of Ghifar. He leaned his hand and placed his finger on his forehead and I said to myself: Perhaps he has not liked it that I belong to the tribe of Ghifar. I attempted to catch hold of his hand but his friend who knew about him more than I dissuaded me from doing so. He then lifted his head and said: Since how long have you been here? I said: I have been here for the last thirty nights or days. He said: Who has been feeding you? I said: There has been no food for me but the water of Zamzam. I have grown so bulky that there appear wrinkles upon my stomach and I do not feel any hunger. He said: It is blessed (water) and it also serves as food. Thereupon Abu Bakr said: Allah’s Messenger, let me serve as a host to him for tonight, and then Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) proceeded forth and so did Abu Bakr and I went along with them. Abu Bakr opened the door and then he brought for us the raisins of Ta’if and that was the first food which I ate there. Then I stayed as long as I had to stay. I then came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and he said: I have been shown the land abounding in trees and I think it cannot be but that of Yathrib (that is the old name of Medina). You are a preacher to your people on my behalf. I hope Allah would benefit them through you and He would reward you.
The Sincerity of the Whole Family
I came to Unais and he said: What have you done? I said: I have done that I have embraced Islam and I have testified (to the prophethood of Allah’s Messenger). He said: I have no aversion for your religion and I also embrace Islam and testify (to the prophethood of Muhammad). Then both of us came to our mother and she said: I have no aversion for your religion and I also embrace Islam and testify to the prophethood of Muhammad.
Caring for Your Own People, Doing Dawah to your own People
We then loaded our camels and came to our tribe Ghifir and half of the tribe embraced Islam and their chief was Aimi’ b. Rahada Ghifirl and he was their leader and hall of the tribe said: We will embrace Islam when Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) would come to Medina, and when Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to Medina the remaining half also embraced Islam. Then a tribe Aslam came to the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah’s Messenger, we also embrace Islam like our brothers who have embraced Islam. And they also embraced Islam. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Allah granted pardon to the tribe of Ghifar and Allah saved (from destruction) the tribe of Aslam. [Sahih Muslim, Book 31, ‘The Merits Of The Companions RA of The Holy Prophet SAW’, Chapter : ‘The merits of Abu Dharr (Allah be pleased with him)’, Hadith #6046.]
This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Humaid b. Hilal with the same chain of transmitters but with this addition: “As I came to Mecca, Unais said: (Well), go but be on your guard against the Meccans for they are his enemies and are annoyed with him.” [Sahih Muslim, Book 31, ‘The Merits Of The Companions RA of The Holy Prophet SAW’, Chapter : The merits of Abu Dharr (Allah be pleased with him), Hadith #6047.]
Special Duaa for the Abu Dharr RA’s Tribe
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: While Allah’s Apostle was on the pulpit, he said, “May Allah give the tribe of Ghifar! And may Allah save the tribe of Aslam! The tribe of ‘Usaiya have disobeyed Allah and His Apostle.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book # 56, ‘Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions’, hadith # 716].
Superiority of Abu Dharr RA’s Tribe
Narrated Abu Bakra: Al-Aqra’ bin Habis said to the Prophet “Nobody gave you the pledge of allegiance but the robbers of the pilgrims (i.e. those who used to rob the pilgrims) from the tribes of Aslam, Ghifar, Muzaina.” (Ibn Abi Ya’qub is in doubt whether Al-Aqra’ added. ‘And Juhaina.’) The Prophet said, “Don’t you think that the tribes of Aslam, Ghifar, Muzaina (and also perhaps) Juhaina are better than the tribes of Bani Tamim, Bani Amir, Asad, and Ghatafan?” Somebody said, “They were unsuccessful and losers!” The Prophet said, “Yes, by Him in Whose Hands my life is, they (i.e. the former) are better than they (i.e. the latter).” Abu Huraira said, “(The Prophet said), ‘(The people of) Bani Aslam, Ghifar and some people of Muzaina (or some people of Juhaina or Muzaina) are better in Allah’s Sight (or on the Day of Resurrection) than the tribes of Asad, Tamim, Hawazin and Ghatafan.’ ” [Sahih Bukhari, Book # 56, ‘Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions’, hadith # 719]
Second Narration: (Narrated by Ibn Abbas RA):
‘You have not satisfied me’
When the news of the advent of the Prophet reached Abu Dharr, he said to his brother, “Ride to this valley and bring me the news of this man (i.e. the Prophet ) who claims to be a Prophet receiving information from the Heaven. Listen to him and then come to me.” His brother set out till he met the Prophet and listened to his speech and returned to Abu Dharr and said to him, “I have seen him exhorting people to virtues and his speech was not like poetry.” Abu Dharr said, “You have not satisfied me as to what I wanted.”
Meeting Ali RA
So, he took his journey-food and a water-skin full of water and set out till he reached Mecca, where he went to the Mosque looking for the Prophet , whom he did not know, and he would not like to ask someone about him. So, a portion of the night had passed when ‘Ali saw him and realized that he was a stranger. Abu Dharr followed him (to his house), but neither of them asked the other about anything till it was morning, when he carried his water-skin and food and went to the Mosque. He spent that day without being observed by the Prophet till it was night, when he returned to his sleeping place. ‘Ali again passed by him and said, “Hasn’t the man (i.e. Abu Dhar) recognized his dwelling place yet?” So, ‘Ali let him get up and took him (to his house), but neither of them asked the other about anything, till it was the third day when ‘Ali had the same experience with him and Abu Dhar again stayed with him.
Interesting Conversation & Embracing of Islam
‘Ali then asked, “Won’t you tell me what has brought you here?” He replied, “If you give me a promise and a convention that you will guide me, then I will tell you.” When ‘Ali did, Abu Dharr informed him (of his purpose). ‘Ali said, “It is the Truth, and he (i.e. Muhammad) is the Apostle of Allah. So when the morning comes, follow me, and if I should perceive any danger threatening you, I will give you a hint by pretending to go to the watercloset. But if I carried on walking, follow me till you enter the place that I will enter.” Abu Dharr agreed and followed ‘Ali till he entered the place of the Prophet and Abu Dhur entered with him. He then listened to the speech of the Prophet and embraced Islam on that very spot.
Order of the Prophet and Courage of Abu Dharr RA
The Prophet said to him, “Go back to your people and inform them (of this religion) till you receive my (further) orders.” Abu Dharr said, “By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I will proclaim my conversion to Islam publicly amongst them (i.e. infidels).” He went out till he reached the Mosque and announced as loudly as possible, “I testify that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.” The people then got up and beat him till they knocked him down. Al-Abbas came and threw himself over him (to protect him) saying, ‘Woe to you! Don’t you know that he is from Ghifar and there is the route (road) to your merchants towards Sham (i.e. through the place where this tribe dwells)?’ Thus he saved him from them. Abu Dharr did the same on the next day and the people beat him again and Al-‘Abbas drew himself over him (to save him as before). [Sahih Bukhari, Book # 56, chapter: ‘Virtues and Merits of the Prophet SAW and his Companions’, hadith # 724; Sahih Muslim, Book # 31, ‘The Merits Of The Companions RA of The Holy Prophet SAW’ , hadith # 6049.]
2) ‘…courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ – Abu Dharr RA’s Level of Obedience, Submission and Instant Implementation of the Commands of Allah SWT and then His Messenger SAW
.:Beautiful Mannerism of Anger Management, Instant Implementation:.
Abu Dharr was taking his camels to drink at a trough that he owned, when some other people came along and said to one another: “Who can compete with Abu Dharr in bringing animals to drink and make his hair stand on end?” A man said: “I can.” So, he brought his animals and competed with Abu Dharr and ended up breaking the trough.
Abu Dharr was standing when he saw this, so, he sat down, then he laid down. Someone asked him: “O Abu Dharr, why did you sit down then lie down?” He said: “The Messenger of Allah said: “If any of you becomes angry and he is standing, let him sit down, so that his anger will go away. If it does not go away, let him lie down.’ “[Reported in the ‘Musnad’ of Ahmad (5/152) and ‘Sahih al-Jami’ (694)]
.:Discarding the Ego Away when it Came to Islam – Truthfulness & Honesty of Abu Dharr RA:.
Narrated Al-Ma’rur bin Suwaid:
I saw Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a cloak. We asked him about that (i.e. how both were wearing similar cloaks). He replied, “Once I abused a man and he complained of me to the Prophet .
The Prophet asked me, ‘Did you abuse him by slighting his mother?’ He added, ‘Your slaves are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority.
So, if one has one’s brethren under one’s control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them (in their hard job).” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 46, hadith # 721]
.:Life of Servitude:.
From Asma’ Bint Yazid: Abu Dharr (al-Ghifari) used to serve the Prophet and when he finished he would go to the masjid and sleep, and the masjid was his house. One time the Prophet came in and found Abu Dharr lying on the ground. He nudged him with his foot and Abu Dharr sat up. The Prophet said: “Sleeping?”
He replied: “O Messenger of Allah, where else can I sleep? I have no house other than this.”
The Prophet said: “What will you do if they expel you from it?” He said: “I will repair to Syria, for verily Syria is the land of migration, the land of the Gathering (on the Day of Judgment), and the land of Prophets. I shall be one of its dwellers.” The Prophet said: “What will you do if they expel you from Syria?” He said: “I will come back here and make it my house and my dwelling.” The Prophet said: “What if they expel you from it a second time?” He replied: “Then I will take up my sword and fight them off until I die.” The Prophet looked displeased and he held him firmly and said: “Shall I tell you of a better way?” He said: “Yes, may my father and mother be ransomed for you, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet said: “Let them lead you whither they lead you, and let yourself be taken whither they take you, until you meet me again in that very state.” [Ahmad narrated it with one weak sub-narrator (Shahr ibn Hawshab), however, some have declared him reliable, e.g. Ibn Hajar in “Fath al-Bari” 3:65 and al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi.]
.:Death of Abu Dharr RA:.
The hadiths of Abu Dharr’s death and the prediction of its circumstances are narrated by Ibn Rahawyh, Ibn Abi Usama, and al-Bayhaqi: Umm Dharr (his wife) wept as he lay on his deathbed and upon his questioning she replied: “Why should I not weep seeing you die in a desert land and I have not even enough in my possession for my own shroud, nor yours?”
He said: “Good tidings to you, and don’t weep! for I heard the Prophet say to a large group as I was among them: One of you will die in a deserted land, with a handful of Muslims for witnesses. None of that large group remains and all of them died in a town surrounded by many. Therefore I am that one…”
From Ibn Mas`ud: When the Prophet went out on the campaign of Tabuk Abu Dharr lagged behind due to his old camel. They complained of it to the Prophet who said: “Leave him be, for perhaps there is good in it, and Allah will make him catch up with you.” When Abu Dharr saw that his camel was too slow, he carried his own gear and continued on foot, following the traces of Allah’s Messenger alone in the heat. When the Prophet saw him his eyes filled with tears and he said: “May Allah have mercy on Abu Dharr! He walks alone, and he shall die alone, and he shall be resurrected alone. [Ibn Hajar mentions in al-Isaba that Ibn Ishaq narrated it with a weak chain.]
May Allah SWT be pleased with him and guide us to the path of those whom He’s pleased with.Ameen.
I pray this story inspires all of us to be courageous at all times. I hope it reminds us of the true definition of courage. And I hope that it strengthens us and makes us realize where we stand in our understanding of what it is like to be a true Muslim.