Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl
The family of Yasirra
Hazrat Yasirra bin Amir, the father of Hazrat Ammarra, came from Yemen and settled in Mecca. His ally, Abu Huzayfa, married him with his slave girl Hazrat Samiyyahra. All three noble people embraced Islam in the early days of its rise.
Hazrat Ammarra was passing through the early years of his life then. The Muslims numbered only about 30 to 35 when father, mother and son, all joined the fold of Islam. This was a time when even the influential men among the Muslims of Mecca were not spared oppression at the hands of the Quraish, let alone a poor family far away from their homeland.
The Bani Makhzum made the family the target of their persecution. It is more appropriate to say that they crossed all boundaries of persecution when it came to them. They committed such barbarities and brutalities that to this day, their reminder brings one’s head low with shame. The world will fail to cite a similar example of punishment for even the most horrific of crimes, which the helpless and destitute Muslims underwent for the mere “crime” of accepting Islam.
In short, Abu Jahl martyred the mother of Hazrat Ammarra by piercing her private part with a lance. Despite experiencing all this, the family remained steadfast and even the hurricanes of oppression and cyclones of persecution failed to dim the light of faith which had enlightened their souls.
Hazrat Yasirra, being of advanced age, succumbed to the persecution and passed away. The Quraish would lay Hazrat Ammarra down on burning-hot coals in the blazing heat of noon and dip him into water.
Once, while he was being laid on live coals, the Holy Prophetsa happened to pass by and putting his hand on Hazrat Ammar’sra head, said:
يَانَارُ كُوْنِيْ بَرْدًا وَّ سَلٰمًا عَلٰۤي عَمَّار كَمَا كُنْتَ عَلٰي اِبْرٰهِيْمَ
“O fire, be thou cold and a [means of] safety for Ammar as thou became for Abraham.” Once Hazrat Ammarra had recovered, marks of injuries could be seen on his back. But such griefs and injuries, one after another, failed to shake his faith and with exemplary valour, he remained steadfast. Faith, in their eyes, was the dearest to all other worldly things; even their lives had no value and they gave precedence to the protection of their faith over any other thing. (Mustadrak Hakam, Kitab Ma‘rifat-us-Sahabah, Zikr Manaqib Ammar bin Yair, Vol. 3, p. 432)
Hazrat Bilalra was a young slave when he accepted Islam. The abased state of the Arab slaves in that age is not unfamiliar to any historian. Even the minutest act by a slave contrary to his master’s will was tantamount to courting the slave’s death.
Accepting Islam, for which the disbelievers had invested all their energy to put out, was no easy task. Umayyah bin Khalaf would lay Hazrat Bilalra down on hot sand under the blazing sun and to stop him from moving, he would place a heavy stone on his chest. He would demand his renunciation from Islam, threatening that he would otherwise have to spend the remainder of his life miserably. In that state too he would pronounce, “God is One; there is none worthy of worship except Him.” (Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 1, p. 243)
Hazrat Khabbabra bin Arat
Hazrat Khabbabra bin Arat also underwent varied types of oppressions. He himself states that the idol-worshippers would make the coals red-hot first and then make him lie on them. If the barbarous passion of the brutes remained unsatisfied, one of them would climb on his chest to stop him from moving. They would keep him lying on the live coals in that state until the coals themselves extinguished from his body fluids. But this brave man, despite the repeated hardships, remained steadfast to his faith and would not even think of playing hypocritically to be delivered from such oppressions. (Tabqat Ibn Saad, Vol. 3, p. 123)
Sister’s firm faith leads to Umar’sra conversion
Before embracing Islam Hazrat Umarra beat up his sister and her husband, Hazrat Saadra bin Zaid, so severely that blood spouted from their faces; but their faith did not falter. Ultimately their steadfastness fruitfully led Hazrat Umarra to accept Islam. (Siratul-Faruq by Shibli Nu‘mani, p. 33)
Hazrat Abu Jandalra bin Suhail
Hazrat Abu Jandalra bin Suhail accepted Islam in Mecca after the Holy Prophetsa had migrated to Medina. His father detained and fettered him and held him hostage for years. When not satisfied with his detention, he would severely beat him to the extent that wounds on his body would leave deep scars.
On the occasion of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, this very Suhail came, on behalf of the Quraish, to settle the conditions with the Holy Prophetsa. A condition that “anyone from the Quraish who accepts Islam will be returned to the Quraish” was being discussed, when Abu Jandalra, bound, wounded and exhausted, managed to reach the Holy Prophetsa.
Seeing his son, the father demanded the return of his son Abu Jandalra and refused to settle the conditions without its compliance. Since the Holy Prophetsa respected the treaty greatly, he ordered for Abu Jandalra to be returned.
Abu Jandalra wished for the opposite and in a pitiable and heart-rending manner, pleaded with the Holy Prophetsa and his Companionsra not to return him. The Companionsra too were becoming restless and perturbed to see the condition of their brother in faith and in no case wished to send him back. They were ready to sacrifice their own selves to redeem their brother from hardships.
Their swords were becoming uneasy in their sheaths. But nobody dared to defy the command of the Holy Prophetsa. Therefore, they withstood great suffering, but kept silent. At the appeal of Hazrat Abu Jandalra, the Holy Prophetsa asked him to be patient and return.
Thus, very obediently, he returned and fell victim to the same hardships, but remained steadfast. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Shurut, Bab Shurut fil-Jihad wal-Masalihah ma‘a ahlil-Harb wal-Kitab al-Shurut)
Sacrifice of 70 qaris
After the Battle of Uhud, some people went to Holy Prophetsa and submitted that some men should be sent with them to instruct them in matters of faith. The Holy Prophetsa dispatched 70 renowned qaris along with them, one of whom was Hazrat Haramra bin Malhan.
Once the noble deputation neared its destination, Hazrat Haramra asked his companions to stay where they were and himself went to survey the situation. Hazrat Haramra reached the destination and started delivering a speech on the topic of the truthfulness of the prophethood of the Holy Prophetsa.
The malignant people already had evil intentions. During his speech, a man threw a spear at him, which emerged from the other side. A spout of blood gushed forth. Hazrat Haramra took a handful from the blood and smearing it on his face and head, said:
فُزْتُ وَ رَبِّ الْكَعْبَه
“By the Lord of the Ka‘bah, I have succeeded.” When the news reached his comrades, they too came and gave their lives fighting … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Bab Ghazwatir-Raji‘ wa Ri‘lin wa Zakwan wa Bi’ri Ma‘unah)
Battle of Dhat al-Riqa
The pleasure with which the Companionsra bore hardships can also be evaluated from the following incident.
In a battle, the Companionsra had only one mount to ride. The journey was long and most of them were barefooted. The long walk rendered their feet injured, some even losing their nails. As a result of the wounds, some Companionsra covered their feet with rags. That is why the ghazwah [battle] was named after the rags as the Battle of Dhat al-Riqa. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Bab Ghazwatu Zatir-Riqa)
Limited food supplies in battle
In the Battle of the Trench [Ahzab], food supplies were so limited for the Companionsra that every one of them subsisted on a meagre supply of a handful of barley and a small amount of fat. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Bab Ghazwat-ul-Khandaq wa Hiyal-Ahzab)
In another ghazwah, the food supplies were so short that the Companionsra had to subsist on sucking date stones and drinking water. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Said waz-Zaba‘ih, Bab Ibahati Meitatul-Bahr)
During a battle, the Companionsra would get rations of one date per person, which they would eat sparingly like small children and drink water thereafter. Aside from this, they would shed leaves from trees and after soaking them in water, eat them. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Said waz-Zaba‘ih, Bab Ibahati Meitatul-Bahr)
Forsaking worldly comforts for Islam
Hazrat Mus‘abra bin Umair, being a scion of a rich family of Mecca, had been brought up in worldly comforts. No one else in Mecca had enjoyed similar amenities. He wore the best attire, ate the best foods and wore the best perfumes and scents. In short, he lived a life of great comfort and was very conscious of his food and dressing.
He kept his faith a secret for a considerable time after he embraced Islam. But one day, an idolater found him offering the prayer and told his mother and other family members about it. As a result, he was detained.
For quite some time, he bore with the hardships of detention very patiently. As soon as he got a chance, he abandoned his homeland and migrated to Abyssinia.
There is no need to tell the hardships of detention and being away from home faced by a man who was so used to worldly comforts. True faith had permeated his heart so much that no hardship overpowered him and never was his steadfastness shaken. (Tabqat Ibn Saad, Vol. 3, p.86, Tabqatul-Badrain Mas‘abal-Khair)
Hazrat Abu Fakihra
Hazrat Abu Fakihra was a slave of Safwan bin Umayyah, but with the grace of God, he embraced Islam. Safwan and other disbelievers would inflict various types of tortures upon him. Putting shackles on his feet, they would lay him down on the ground and place a heavy stone on his chest lest he could make any movement. As a result, he would become confounded.
The cruel oppressors, roping his feet, dragged him through hot streets. With great patience, he bore all this and never for a moment did it occur to him to be relieved of it all by some hypocritical statement. (Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 5, p. 248)
Hazrat Zubairra bin Awam
After Hazrat Zubairra bin Awam embraced Islam, his uncle tried to coerce him into renouncing Islam. He would roll him in a mat and make him inhale smoke. (Majma‘ al-Zawa‘id wa Mamba‘ul-Fawa‘id, Vol. 9, p. 151)
Refusal of a female companion to renounce Islam
Despite the fact that the account of female Companions is not the subject under discussion, yet with regard to forbearance against hardships, the writer cannot help but give an account of Hazrat Umm Shareekra.
Her relatives began to torture her after she accepted Islam. They devised a unique method in this regard. They forced her to stand in the sun and in the blazing heat, they gave her honey to eat, a hot food item by efficacy, and refused her water. As a result, she would lose her senses.
In such a state, they would demand her renunciation from Islam. But she could not understand them in that state. When they beckoned to the sky, only then she would understand that they sought her renunciation from Islam. But she would refuse to comply with their demand. (Sunan al-Nabisa, Vol. 2)
Separation from homeland
The account of the migration is an extremely painful chapter when discussing the hardships and miseries the Companionsra bore in the way of Allah. Abandoning one’s household, homeland, kith and kin, wealth and property and even separation from one’s wife and children was no easy task. But the Companionsra let go of all of them. They left it all for good and never again desired to have them again.
With regard to Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Auf, it is related that if he ever came to Mecca, he never lodged in his ancestral house.
If every one of us does a little heart searching, we would realise how hard this is. Nobody, even for a single day, likes to be separated from their spouse, children, parents, kith and kin, friends and homeland. But the Companionsra bore all these separations for the sake of God and guarded their faith.
Before the migration of the Holy Prophetsa, some Companionsra, finding no way out of their persecution at the hands of the Quraish, migrated to Abyssinia. They preferred their life of deprivation and being away from home over that of Mecca.
After the Holy Prophet’ssa migration, many of them too left for Medina. There, in Medina, they faced even greater hardships. Weather conditions did not suit them. Many of them fell ill with fevers. Their health was ruined. Moreover, they had no businesses to run and had no households.
The remembrance of their homeland – the valleys of Mecca, springs and mountains thereof – would make them restless. But all these courageous people who cheerfully bore the hardships in the cause of faith without a word of complaint, deserve our praise. (Tabqat Ibn Saad, Dhikr Abdur-Rahman bin Auf, Vol. 3, p. 97)
In short, the hard-hearted tyrants inflicted severe torture on the courageous ones who embraced Islam. They would devise various types of methods of torture. Furthermore, the persecution perpetrated by them was not temporary or short-lived; rather, they would go a long way. Dying once is relatively easier, but bearing torture perpetually is tantamount to dying every day. But our young Companionsra underwent this death with courage and steadfastness. This is a distinction of the Companionsra alone.
When the Companionsra went to Syria, a scholar of the People of the Book paid tribute to them in the following terms: “The followers of Jesus Christ, who were sawed with saws and were hanged, did not forbear severer persecutions than these people.” (Isti‘ab, Vol. 1, p. 2)
In this age, how can such people who are unnerved by bearing transient and insignificant separation for the sake of God and are reluctant to go out of their homes for the propagation of Islam lest their family members get into any trouble in their absence, or lest their businesses suffer a little, or lest they do not get the homely comfort, even think of claiming to be the like of Companionsra or following in their footsteps.
These accounts make it clear to the reader that the Companionsra would starve in the way of Allah and endure severe hardships due to lack of resources, yet their hearts were infused with the fervour for faith, so much so that the mountains of hardships would melt and flow before them. Nothing could hinder their endeavours in the cause of faith.
But times have changed today. Social life has changed a great deal. Though the standard-bearers of truthfulness are faced with difficulties in this age as well, their nature has changed altogether and their intensity has reduced.
On the other hand, the condition of Islam demands from us to come forward with great zeal to uphold Islam and portray its true picture before the world.
By reading the above lines, if our youth are prepared to make sacrifices in the cause of faith and become resolute to bear all hardships in this way cheerfully, then Islam’s progress is certain. And as a result, their standing will be raised before God and their names will be remembered gloriously.
After reading the accounts of the Companionsra, we pray for them from the core of our hearts, in the same way the coming generations will have similar feelings of love and veneration for us if we tread in their footsteps.
(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)