The exemplary young Companions: Confidentiality in religious matters

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Last Updated on 5th March 2021

Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl

The incidents presented in the chapter, Religious Indignation for Faith prove that the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa would never conceal matters that might otherwise create disorder in faith. Instead of throwing them under the carpet, they themselves would reveal such matters, even if they were pronounced by their closest relatives. 

As revealing and conveying such matters to the authorities was necessary, similarly, keeping certain issues confidential, whose revelation may be of some benefit to the enemies, is essential. 

This trait can also be witnessed clearly in the lives of the Companionsra. Below are given a few such examples.

Confidentiality of letters

Hazrat Abdullahra bin Arqam was a young companion, who would compose letters. The most confidential of letters were kept in his custody. He himself would never read them unnecessarily, let alone informing others of their content. (Mustadrak Hakim, Vol. 3, p. 377, Manaqib Abdullah bin Arqam)

A mother’s lesson in secrecy

Hazrat Anasra was a servant of the Holy Prophetsa. Despite the fact that he was only eight or 10 years old, he would run the Holy Prophet’ssa errands with utmost secrecy. 

Once, after performing the household errands of the Holy Prophetsa, he returned home. On his way home, he saw some children playing. As he was the same age, he stood by to see them playing. In the meantime, the Holy Prophetsa arrived there. The children told him about the arrival of the Holy Prophetsa

Upon arrival, the Prophetsa held Hazrat Anasra by the hand and took him aside and said something into his ear. After that, Hazrat Anasra departed from there, but the Holy Prophetsa sat there in his wait. 

Sometime later, Hazrat Anasra returned and apprised him of his reply, after which the Holy Prophetsa departed from there and Hazrat Anasra took to his home. 

He was a little late reaching home and so, his mother asked of him the reason for being late. Hazrat Anasra told her that the Holy Prophetsa had sent him for a task, which was why he got late. As he was a child, the mother suspected him for an excuse and pressed him to tell the task the Holy Prophetsa had sent him for. Hazrat Anasra replied that it was a secret, which, regrettably, he could not reveal to her. Not only did the mother not insist him to reveal the secret, rather she advised him not to reveal it to anyone else either. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Faza‘il-us-Sahabah, Bab min Faza‘ili Anas bin Malik)

A companion’s repentance on breach of confidentiality

At the occasion of the Battle of Banu Quraizah, the Holy Prophetsa ordered a siege of the Jews of Banu Quraizah. The Jews called Hazrat Abu Lababahra into their fort to counsel with him so as to take a decision about their future. As they had old friendly relationships with his ancestors, the Jews trusted him and hoped that he would counsel them of something good for them. 

As Hazrat Abu Lababahra reached the fort, the Jews, in order to appeal his mercy, brought their wailing wives and children before him. He counseled them to comply with the demands of the Holy Prophetsa, which was in their interest, or else, beckoning to his neck, he gave them a clue that they would be executed. This beckoning was due to his personal assumption because the Jews had committed serious crimes and had breached their contract with the Muslims, and he believed that the punishment for such crimes was only execution. 

Though he gave only a gesture to the Jews, but on his return, when he thought over it and realised that this clue of his was against the rule of secrecy and that by giving the clue he had been, to a little extent, dishonest to God and His Prophetsa, he became unnerved. He thought to himself to do something to expiate it. He devised a plan and went straight to the Masjid al-Nabawi and tied himself against a pillar of the mosque with a strong chain. He thought that unless he was not forgiven and his repentance was not accepted by God, he would remain tied there. 

For seven or eight days, he remained tied there. He would untie himself only for prayers and relieving himself of other human needs. Immediately after, his daughter would tie him again at his command. 

Out of grief, he stopped eating altogether and due to continuous starvation and torture, his health was badly affected. He became deaf and his eyesight deteriorated. Numerous times, he fell unconscious, but he cared nothing at all for his life. What he only cared for was acceptance of his repentance. 

Ultimately, God Almighty accepted his repentance and the Holy Prophetsa made its announcement. Companions came to untie him, but he refused and said, “Unless the Holy Prophetsa himself unties me, I shall remain tied here until my death.” 

Finally, the Holy Prophetsa came and untied him with his own hands. He was so exultant at this that he announced to serve the Holy Prophetsa for the rest of his life and also announced to donate all his belongings in charity, but the Holy Prophetsa allowed for only one-third of his property. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 584, Ghazwah Bani Quraizah)

Besides the sense of secrecy, there is also a lesson in this account for those who make excuses to avert the penalty after a crime. They not only try to cover their own fault by excuses, rather through fair and unfair means, they try to cover the crimes committed by others as well. 

Absolute silence when taking cover

After the fall of Mecca, the Holy Prophetsa dispatched a party of 60 men to encounter Banu Maluh; Hazrat Ghalibra bin Abdullah, a young man, being among the party of 60. At one point, the leader of the party sent him ahead to observe the movement of the enemy. 

Once he neared their settlement, he lay down on his belly on top of a high mound to observe the movements of the enemy. In the meantime, somebody, whose house was close to the mound, emerged from his house accompanied by his wife. 

As he looked upwards, he noticed a shadow. He told his wife that he had noticed a shadow on the mound, probably of a man, or maybe a dog perhaps, who had taken something edible or a vessel from their house and sat over there. He asked her to go inside and see if anything was missing. She went inside and looked carefully and assured him that nothing was found missing. 

At this, he was assured that it must be a man and asked his wife to bring his bow and arrow to shoot the man. He shot two arrows at him, one of which hit him pierced his side and the other, the shoulder. 

Bravo for the young companion who received two arrows, piercing tender parts of his body, yet he remained silent! Let alone move his body, he did not even utter a sigh of pain, lest the enemy became vigilant and the secret of the Muslims was revealed. To see no movement, the enemy dismissed it considering it to be a hallucination. 

It was impossible for a man to receive two shots of arrows and make no movement. Thus, after his complete satisfaction, he departed from there. Once he had departed, only then did Hazrat Ghalibra removed the arrows from his body. (Sirat Ibn Hisham, Vol. 2, p. 610, Saryah Banu Maluh)

The confidant of the Prophetsa – Hazrat Huzayfara

The Holy Prophetsa had confided the names of the hypocrites to Hazrat Huzayfara; that is why he was called a confidant of the Holy Prophetsa. The Holy Prophetsa had not allowed him to disclose the secret and he never disclosed the names to anyone. 

Once, Hazrat Umarra asked him to tell if there were any hypocrites among his revenue collectors so as to protect Islam against his mischief. He replied, “Actually, there is one, but regrettably, I cannot disclose his name, lest I commit the crime of disclosing the secret of the Holy Prophetsa.” (Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 1, p.468, Huzayfa bin Yaman)

Meticulous assistance of the Prophetsa and Abu Bakrra to flee Mecca

Hazrat Abu Bakrra directed his son, Hazrat Abdullahra, to keep a watchful eye on the movements of the Quraish after the Holy Prophetsa and Hazrat Abu Bakrra set off from Mecca to immigrate to Medina. Daily, in the evening, he was supposed to report to them in the Cave Thawr. He complied with this command with utmost secrecy. 

As night started to fall, he would reach the Cave Thawr, stay there for the whole night and return before the early morning. Similarly, Hazrat Abu Bakr’sra servant, Amir bin Fuherah, was tasked to graze goats all day and deliver their milk at night in the cave. He, too, complied with it with extreme secrecy, and nobody had even the faintest idea of it. 

This arrangement was followed for three days regularly, with extreme secrecy, so much so that the Quraish, who roamed throughout the region in mad pursuit of the Holy Prophetsa, failed to learn anything about it. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Manaqibil-Ansar, Bab Hijratun-Nabiy wa Ashabihi ilal-Medina)

(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)

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