Lecture 5 delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 25 September 2017 in the Muharram 1439 series titled “UNVEILING THE LESSER KNOWN COMPANIONS OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)” at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
We continue to learn from the history of the pioneers of Islam. As Quran says Surah Taubah Verse 100:
وَالسَّابِقُونَ الاَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالاَنْصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بإِحْسَانٍ رَضِيَ اللّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الاَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدَاً ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيم
“And the foremost, the first of the Emigrants and the Helpers, and those who followed them in goodness, Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow wherein shall they abide forever. That is the great success.”
If you remember we categorised the companions of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) with emphasis on lesser known ones between those who were martyed during the life time of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and those who remained steadfast after the passing on of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
Last night we spoke about 2 personalities called Uthmaan Ibn Mazun and Mus’ab ibn Umayr who were both spiritually very elevated personalities. Uthmaan had extraordinary zuhd or ascetic lifestyle and so did Mus’ab. Thus for both dunya or this world had no value. Thus Mus’ab loses his hands and stands firmly with love of Allah and Prophet (sawa).
Mus’ab thus developed the quality such that his recitation of Quran used to melt the hearts of people and his words had an effect when delivering sermons.
Tonight we want to speak about the great lesser known companions who survived after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
The Quran describes such people as follows in Surah Fussilat Verse 30:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا
“Indeed, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah,” and then they stand firm”
They continued on path of truth and dunya in form of wealth, power, position or polularity did not deceive them.
UBAY IBN KA’B – LEADER OF QURAN RECITERS
Among this group is Ubay ibn Ka’b known as Sayyidul Qurraa or leader of the reciters (of Quran). He was from Ansaar meaning from the people of Madina and accepted Islam in Madina.
He was in the Battle of Badr and almost all battles.
What is special about him is his dedication to Quran and Prophet (sawa) made dua for him and recommended others to listen to his recitation.
Qira’ah or recitation of Quran the way we understand is different to what it used to be in its original terminology. Today it’s all about melody and musicality in recitation.
But originally, it referred to how you read Quran which affects the understanding and meaning of Quran. Thus as we know there are 7 methods of recital.
Thus different people recited Quran differently and it’s recorded as such.
Qirat originally was a form of tafsir as it depended on how you recite…. thus Ubay being Sayyidyl Qura meant he was a leader of Tafsir. Included in this group are Abdullah ibn Masub and Abdullah ibn Abbas.
THE WORLD READS THE SHIA MODE OF QURAN WITHOUT REALISING IT
Just an interesting side note is that the recital that we do today is through Hafs ibn Sulayman before whom there are 3 generations of narrations which causes the recital to reach through Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s).
In other words the chain goes like this:
Imam Hafs ibn Sulayman ibn Mughaira al-Asadi al-Kufi (who was a student of Imam Saadiq (a.s)
Imam Asim ibn Abi an-Najud Abu Bakr al-Kufi (who was Shia)
Abu Abdurahman al-Sulami (who was Shia)
Learned from Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s)
What does that mean?? Hafs, which is the most popular mode of recitation across the world is actually the Shia version!!
Ubay is also someone who regularly reminded people about Ghadier! He reminded them “Did you forget that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said “Whoever I am his master, Ali is his master”?
KHALID IBN SAID IBN AAS AL-AMAWI – THE BANI UMAYYAH HERO
Khalid was from the Muhajireen (migraters from Makka to Madina) and really from Sabiqun al Awalun (Early vanguards).
There is a debate regarding whether he is 3rd or 4th person to accept Islam. His daughter says he is 5th.
He is from Quraish and Bani Umayya. This is the most amazing fact as the Quran views the Bani Umayya in poor terms. In Surah Israa Verse 60 it says:
وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الرُّؤْيَا الَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُونَةَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ
“And We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Quran as well”.
There are many narrations (including ibn Kathier) which indicate that the cursed tree refers to the lineage of Bani Umayya.
But sometimes when Allah wants to give someone something and he has a good heart even if he comes from a terrible group – Almighty Allah gives him guidance!
From that terrible cursed tree, this genuine jewel existed.
AN AMAZING DREAM
Khalid experienced something amazing in a dream. He saw one night that from a house in Makka a light appears and that light makes the suburb of Makka bright and gradually the light expanded to brighten the whole valley of Makka and beyond to fill whole world with brighteness
He woke up and was very worried and looked for an interpretation until he came to Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and asked him about that dream and Prophet (sawa) said “I am that Nur”. And thus he became Muslim.
Prophet (sawa) commanded him to keep it secret for a while but it somehow leaked and his father who was an influential person realised that something has changed. When his father found him Muslim, he asked him if it’s true? He said “yes its true and Muhammad is truthful”. At that moment his father smashed an instrument he had in his hand broken on Khalid’s head and tortured him.
Finally he was given permssion to also go to Ethiopia for migration to be released from torture.
He stayed there for a while and came back after many battles had already occurred and felt upset that he missed so much Jihad. Prophet (sawa) said you received reward of migration which is equal to Jihad.
Then he was present in the Mission of Tabuk, Hunayn and conquest of Makka and became a writer of the Prophet (sawa) and was the first one to write “Bismillah” (In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful).
He wrote letters to tribes of Saqif in Taif and negotiated with them on behalf of Prophet (sawa)
REFUSAL TO WORK FOR THE FIRST KHALIF
Prophet Muhammad (sawa) relied on him a lot and his 2 other brothers. In the last part of the Prophet’s life they were appointed by Prophet (sawa) himself as governors in various places. Khalid was governor of Sana in Yemen which was very wealthy at the time, his brother was governor of Bahrain and his other brother was governor of Taymar/Khaybar and other areas. All of these were very strategic points in the Muslim world.
They governed these areas at the time when Prophet Muhammad (sawa) passed away. As soon as he passed away they all came back to Madina and saw a different situation.
At that time the first Khalif said to them that he wants to keep them as governors as Prophet (sawa) appointed them. Their answer was, “we are children of Abu Uhayha and do not ever work for anyone other than Prophet (sawa)”.
Most historians stop there and don’t want to undertand what this means! What were they trying to say? We don’t want to be your workers!
Imam Saadiq (a.s) was asked whether anyone defended the right of Imam Ali (a.s) after the incident of Saqifa. He replied 12 people came into the mosque to defend the right of Imam Ali (a.s) and then gives a list and the first person Imam Saadiq (a.s) refers to is Khalid ibn Said.
Other historians wrote that Khalid believed leadership belonged to Ahlul Bait (a.s) and did not give allegiance to rulers and kept quiet when Ahlul Bait (a.s) were quiet.
He was martyred in the fight against Romans while being married on the same day.
BILAL IBN RIBAH AL-HABASHI – THE EXCLUSIVE MUAZZIN OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) & MORE
Another hero of Islam is someone who became the symbol of many sublime Islamic qualities. He is not so lesser known as a person but there are aspects of his noble life which are definitely lesser known.
He is the symbol of Tauheed (Monotheism), Sabr (Patient perseverance), Islams position on the issue of racism, manifestation of Islam’s teaching about poor and oppressed and love of Islam and Prophet (sawa) towards the vulnerable.
He is a great hero of Islam and among the early Muslims.
His background is not very clear – appparently his parents came from North Sudan or South Egypt. A number of mothers of the Imams of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) came from that area.
His parents came as slaves. He was born in Makka, however some say he was born in Africa.
However he was in Makka when Islam started.
He was a slave of Umayya ibn Khalaf who was a terrible character.
Bilal had a soul seeking for truth and came across Prophet (sawa) and asked a few questions and quickly accepted Islam. The relationship between Islam and Africa is very special and started from this point.
People of Africa never resisted Islam and were the easiest people to embrace Islam. There’s a Special Mercy of Allah on this land. The first shelter where Islam and Muslims took refuge was Africa in Abysinia/Habash/Ethiopia
Prophet (sawa) himself said go to Abysinia because eventhough there is a Christian king, his heart will be melted. And how this king was influenced by recitation of Surah Maryam by Jafar ibn Abi Talib is amazing and subsequently it became a place of tranquility for Muslims.
UNPRECEDENTED TRIALS OF BILAL
Bilal accepted Islam while still being a slave of Ummaya. He kept it a secret but after a while an argument broke out about idols and Bilal spoke the truth and revealed what he believed and this was the start of the most difficult days for Bilal.
All companions went through difficult times and were tortured but I do not think anyone was physically tortured and traumatised like Bilal as he had no support and was black and regarded as sub human while others had some sort of protection.
Umayya decided to crush him. The various forms of tortures are recorded. They would place huge rocks on his chest and pin him down to the ground.
They made iron red hot and placed it on the body of Bilal.
They lashed him and dragged him through the desert on its burning sands.
And all this time he would exclaim “Ahad! Ahad” (The One. The One – referring to One God).
Ummaya said to him he must just once say Muhammad is a liar to which he would reply there’s no one more truthful than Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
And there are more recorded difficulties that Bilal endured.
Prophet (sawa) used to cry when observing this situation. No one seems to have stood for Tauheed like Bilal did.
Prophet (sawa) tried to organise that he is released from slavery. Some say he asked Abu Bakr to free him due to him being wealthy. Some say Prophet (sawa) himself bought Bilal’s freedom as Umayya was already tired of the situation and saw no future benefit in keeping him.
BILAL WAS A DISCIPLINED MUAZZIN
When Bilal was freed, Prophet (sawa) sent him to Madina before the official migration. He used to go out of the city and sit on the highway and cry in wishing to see Prophet (sawa) soon. This continued until Prophet (sawa) migrated and Bilal was among those who welcomed Prophet (sawa) to Madina.
When Prophet (sawa) established a Masjid, Bilal was one of main persons to assist in the establishment of the mosque and became first Muazzin and this became his main title.
He was not Arab, and his Arabic was not as accurate as the Arabs, so when he gave Athaan people were upset as could not say “sheen” properly. When People complained about his inaccurate pronunciation, Prophet (sawa) told them that while they were concerned with pronunciation, they did not realise where Bilal’s heart was!
Until Bilal was around, no one was allowed to give Athaan!
One quality was that he was extremely punctual with Azaan and became the criteria for when salaah time started and it was permissable to break your fast!
After the conquer of Makka when Prophet (sawa) came to the Kaba and all surrendered to him, Bilal was told to get the key of the Kaba and go on top of Kaba and give athaan. The original non believers who were now new Muslims felt humiliated to see that.
SUBLIME STATUS OF BILAL
A major injustice we commit today is to reduce Bilal to be any person who gives Athaan at a mosque and whom is regarded as a person with no status and call him the Bilal of the mosque! When asking some muazzins what is their job description they even say “I am Bilalling at the mosque!”
When Bilal had to get married he said to his future bride’s family “I am Bilal, Muazzin of Prophet (sawa) but I am black, I was a slave, Islam liberated me, gave me status etc… if you give me your daughter then I am happy, if not, then its fine, Allah is great.”
The family had reservations but then also considered the fact that he is the Muazzin of Prophet (sawa). They then said can we first consult Prophet (sawa) and he agreed. When they came to consult they asked the Prophet (sawa) whether he thinks Bilal is good for their daughter.
Prophet (sawa) looked at them in amazement and said “you should ask is your daughter good for him”?!! “Will you find a better person than Bilal in this world?”
Bilal was present in all battles and was the right hand man of Prophet (sawa). Today the world portrays black people to be thieves. But Prophet (sawa) trusted Bilal with Baytul Maal (Treasury)!
Everyday he would an give account of income and expenditure. The Prophet (sawa) sometimes repremanded him for not spending all the Baytul Maal for the day as he did not want it to be saved for the next day.
Bilal was in charge of social welfare of poor people.
He used to sometimes borrow from people to ensure the poor are assisted. Once a Jew gave him money on condition that if he does not pay it back on time that Bilal would become his slave. Through this strategy the Jew thought that he would stop Bilal from giving athaan!
Bilal agreed to this condition for the sake of the poor and did not tell Prophet (sawa). When there were a few days left, it became stressful and he felt obliged to now tell Prophet (sawa). However the Prophet (sawa) said don’t worry as tomorrow 4 camels with loads of gifts will arrive as gifts for Prophet (sawa) so he could pay back from that money.
BILAL EXILED AFTER DEMISE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
Then the tragic day arrived when Prophet (sawa) left this world. Bilal found no place for himself in Madina.
When Prophet (sawa) used to travel, Bilal went with to give Athaan.
But after the demise of Prophet (sawa), he only gave 4 Athaans and these were not even complete.
History is not clear why Bilal left Madina and went to Syria and why he left the house and grave of Prophet (sawa) but the truth is that he was EXILED to Syria and paid the price for love of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
When someone argued with him that he forgot the favours that people did for him and that it’s time to pay back he gave the most amazing response when he said “if they did a favour to me for sake of Allah then don’t look for reward from me”.
“But if you want me to pay back then I am happy to become your slave again”!!
“But if you want me to give preference to some others above those whom Prophet (sawa) gave preference to, then I am not willing to do that”.
BILAL’S BRIEF RETURN TO MADINA
One day saw Prophet (sawa) in a dream wherein he said “come visit me”. In response he came back to Madina but was not ready to give athaan. This continued only until when Lady Fatima (a.s) requested that he gives athaan so that they could remember the days of Prophet Muhammad (sawa). So he went to give athaan and the whole Madina was shaking!
When he recited “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”, Fatima cried so much and went unconscious! So he stopped and said I can’t complete the Athaan as you won’t survive Lady Fatima (a.s)!
This was Bilal who lived and died with love of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
In Karbala, there are representatives of Bilal in the form of 15 slaves present who gave their life for Imam Husayn!
Two are well known, the one being John who was a slave of Abu Thar that he gifted to the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and the other a Turkish slave called Aslam from Azherbahijan who was a Quran reciter and in battle field said amazing poetry:
“Ameeri Husayn wa’ nimal husayn” (my Leader is Husayn and what a blessed Leader he is).
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