Abu Dharr al-Ghifari

In the Waddan valley which connects Makkah with the outside world, lived the tribe of Ghifar. The  Ghifar existed on the meagre offerings of the trade caravans of the Quraysh which plied between  Syria and Makkah. It is likely that they also lived by raiding these caravans when they were not  given enough to satisfy their needs. Jundub ibn Junadah, nicknamed Abu Dharr, was a member of  this tribe. 

He was known for his courage, his calmness and his far sightedness and also for the repugnance  he felt against the idols which his people worshipped. He rejected the silly religious beliefs and the  religious corruption in which the Arabs were engaged. 

While he was in the Waddan desert, news reached Abu Dharr that a new Prophet had appeared  in Makkah. He really hoped that his appearance would help to change the hearts and minds of  people and lead them away from the darkness of superstition. Without wasting much time, he  called his brother, Anis, and said to him: 

“Go to Makkah and get whatever news you can of this man who claims that he is a Prophet and  that revelation comes to him from the heavens. Listen to some of his sayings and come back and  recite them to me.” 

Anis went to Makkah and met the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him. He listened to  what he had to say and returned to the Waddan desert. Abu Dharr met him and anxiously asked  for news of the Prophet. 

“I have seen a man,” reported Anis, ‘who calls people to noble qualities and there is no mere poetry in what he says.” 

“What do people say about him?” asked Abu Dharr. 

“They say he is a magician, a soothsayer and a poet.” 

“My curiosity is not satisfied. I am not finished with this matter. Will you look after my family while I  go out and examine this prophet’s mission myself?” 

“Yes. But beware of the Makkans.” 

On his arrival at Makkah, Abu Dharr immediately felt very apprehensive and he decided to exercise  great caution. The Quraysh were noticeably angry over the denunciation of their gods. Abu Dharr  heard of the terrible violence they were meting out to the followers of the Prophet but this was  what he expected. He therefore refrained from asking anyone about Muhammad not knowing  whether that person might be a follower or an enemy. 

At nightfall, he lay down in the Sacred Mosque. Ali ibn Abi Talib passed by him and, realizing that  he was a stranger, asked him to come to his house. Abu Dharr spent the night with him and in the  morning took his water pouch and his bag containing provisions and returned to the Mosque. He  had asked no questions and no questions were asked of him. 

Abu Dharr spent the following day without getting to know the Prophet. At evening he went to the  Mosque to sleep and Ali again passed by him and said: 

“Isn’t it time that a man knows his house?” 

Abu Dharr accompanied him and stayed at his house a second night. Again no one asked the other  about anything. 

On the third night, however, Ali asked him, “Aren’t you going to tell me why you came to Makkah?” 

“Only if you will give me an undertaking that you will guide me to what I seek.” Ali agreed and Abu  Dharr said: “I came to Makkah from a distant place seeking a meeting with the new Prophet and  to listen to some of what he has to say.” 

Ali’s face lit up with happiness as he said, “By God, he is really the Messenger of God,” and he  went on telling Abu Dharr more about the Prophet and his teaching. Finally, he said: 

“When we get up in the morning, follow me wherever I go. If I see anything which I am afraid of  for your sake, I would stop as if to pass water. If I continue, follow me until you enter where I  enter.” 

Abu Dharr did not sleep a wink the rest of that night because of his intense longing to see the  Prophet and listen to the words of revelation. In the morning, he followed closely in Ali’s footsteps  until they were in the presence of the Prophet. 

As-salaamu Alayka Yaa Rasulullah, (Peace be on you, O Messenger of God),” greeted Abu Dharr. 

Wa Alayka salaamullahi wa rahmatuhu wa barakaatuhu (And on you be the peace of God, His  mercy and His blessings),” replied the Prophet. 

Abu Dharr was thus the first person to greet the Prophet with the greeting of Islam. After that, the  greeting spread and came into general use. 

The Prophet, peace be on him, welcomed Abu Dharr and invited him to Islam. He recited some of  the Quran for him. Before long, Abu Dharr pronounced the Shahadah thus entering the new  religion (without even leaving his place). He was among the first persons to accept Islam. 

Let us leave Abu Dharr to continue his own story… 

After that I stayed with the Prophet in Makkah and he taught me Islam and taught me to read the  Quran. Then he said to me, ‘Don’t tell anyone in Makkah about your acceptance of Islam. I fear  that they will kill you.” 

“By Him in whose hands is my soul, I shall not leave Makkah until I go to the Sacred Mosque and  proclaim the call of Truth in the midst of the Quraysh,” vowed Abu Dharr. 

The Prophet remained silent. I went to the Mosque. The Quraysh were sitting and talking. I went  in their midst and called out at the top of my voice, “O people of Quraysh, I testify that there is no  God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” 

My words had an immediate effect on them. They jumped up and said, ‘Get this one who has left  his religion.” They pounced on me and began to beat me mercilessly. They clearly meant to kill me.  But Abbas ibn Abdulmuttalib, the uncle of the Prophet, recognized me. He bent over and protected  me from them. He told them: 

“Woe to you! Would you kill a man from the Ghifar tribe and your caravans must pass through  their territory?” They then released me. 

I went back to the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and when he saw my condition, he said, “Didn’t  I tell you not to announce your acceptance of Islam?” “O Messenger of God,” I said, “It was a  need I felt in my soul and I fulfilled it.” “Go to your people,” he commanded, “and tell them what  you have seen and heard. Invite them to God. Maybe God will bring them good through you and  reward you through them. And when you hear that I have come out in the open, then come to  me.” 

I left and went back to my people. My brother came up to me and asked, “What have you done?” I  told him that I had become a Muslim and that I believed in the truth of Muhammad’s teachings. 

“I am not averse to your religion. In fact, I am also now a Muslim and a believer,” he said. 

We both went to our mother then and invited her to Islam . 

“I do not have any dislike from your religion. I accept Islam also,” she said. 

From that day this family of believers went out tirelessly inviting the Ghifar to God and did not  flinch from their purpose. Eventually a large number became Muslims and the congregational  Prayer was instituted among them. 

Abu Dharr remained in his desert abode until after the Prophet had gone to Madinah and the  battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq had been fought. At Madinah at last, he asked the Prophet to  be in his personal service. The Prophet agreed and was pleased with his companionship and  service. He sometimes showed preference to Abu Dharr above others and whenever he met him  he would pat him and smile and show his happiness. 

After the death of the Prophet, Abu Dharr could not bear to stay in Madinah because of grief and  the knowledge that there was to be no more of his guiding company. So he left for the Syrian  desert and stayed there during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar. 

During the caliphate of Uthman, he stayed in Damascus and saw the Muslims concern for the world  and their consuming desire for luxury. He was saddened and repelled by this. So Uthman asked  him to come to Madinah. At Madinah he was also critical of the people’s pursuit of worldly goods  and pleasures and they were critical in turn of his reviling them. Uthman therefore ordered that he  should go to Rubdhah, a small village near Madinah. There he stayed far away from people,  renouncing their preoccupation with worldly goods and holding on to the legacy of the Prophet  and his companions in seeking the everlasting abode of the Hereafter in preference to this  transitory world. 

Once a man visited him and began looking at the contents of his house but found it quite bare. He  asked Abu Dharr: “Where are your possessions?” “We have a house yonder (meaning the  Hereafter),” said Abu Dharr, “to which we send the best of our possessions.” The man understood  what he meant and said: “But you must have some possessions so long as you are in this abode.”  “The owner of this abode will not leave us in it,” replied Abu Dharr. 

Abu Dharr persisted in his simple and frugal life to the end. Once the amir of Syria sent three  hundred diners to Abu Dharr to meet his needs. He returned the money saying, “Does not the amir  of Syria find a servant more deserving of it than I?” 

In the year 32 AH. the self-denying Abu Dharr passed away. The Prophet, peace be upon him, had  said of him: “The earth does not carry nor the heavens cover a man more true and faithful than  Abu Dharr.”

Source.

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