Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf

Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.

Prologue: Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) was as one of the first eight persons to accept Islam. He was also one of the ten persons, Al-Asharatul- Mubashshirin who were assured of entering Paradise. He was blessed with wealth but he never remained attached for its own sake but rather generously gave it away for charity. He was one of the six persons chosen by Umar Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) to form the Council of Shura to choose the Khalifah after his death.

His real name in Jahiliyyah days was Abu Amir, but when he accepted Islam the noble Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) gave him a new name Abdul Rahman which means The Servant of the Beneficent God. Abdul Rahman became a Muslim before the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) entered the House of Al-Arqam. It was also said that he accepted Islam only two days after Abu Bakar As-Siddiq (radiallāhu`anhu).

As those early Muslim, Abdul Rahman suffered the persecution at the hands of the Quraish. He bore this punishment with steadfastness and remained firm as they did. And when they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia because of the continuous and unbearable persecution, Abdul Rahman also joined them but returned to Makkah when it was rumored that conditions for the Muslims had improved. But these rumors proved to be false; he left again for second Hijrah to Abyssinia.

He returned to Makkah and joined the Muslim migrated to Madinah. Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) in his unique manner began pairing off the Muhajirin and the Ansar. This is to establish a firm bond of brotherhood and was meant to strengthen social cohesion and ease the destitution of the Muhajirin.

Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) was tied by the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) to Sa’ad Ibn Ar-Rabi'ah (radiallāhu`anhu). Sa’ad in the spirit of generosity and magnanimity which the Ansar greeted the Muhajirin, said to Abdul Rahman:"My brother amongst the people of Madinah, I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See which of the two orchards you like and I shall vacate it for you and which of my two wives is pleasing to you and I will divorce her for you."

Abdul Rahman Ibn Awl (radiallāhu`anhu) must have been embarrassed and said in reply: "May God bless you in your family and your wealth. But just show me where the suoq is”. Abdul Rahman (radiallāhu`anhu) went to the market-place and began trading with whatever little resources he had. He bought and sold and his profits grew rapidly. Soon he was sufficiently well off and was able to get married. He went to the noble Prophet  (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) with the scent of perfume lingering over him. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) exclaimed: "Mahyarn, O Abdul Rahman!” "Mahyarn" being a word of Yemeni origin which indicates pleasant surprise. Abdul Rahman replied: "I have got married,” The Prophet asked:"And what did you give your wife as mahar?" He said: "The weight of a nuwat in gold." The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) with obvious pleasure and encouragement further said: "You must have a walimah (wedding feast) even if it is with a single sheep. And may Allah bless you in your wealth."

Thereafter Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) grew so accustomed to business success that he said if he lifted a stone he expected to find gold or silver under it!

Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf distinguished himself in both the battles of Badar and Uhud. At Uhud he remained firm throughout and suffered more than twenty wounds some of them deep and severe. Even so, his physical jihad was matched by his jihad with his wealth.

Once the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was preparing to dispatch an expeditionary force. He summoned his companions and said: "Contribute sadaqah I want to dispatch an expedition." Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) went home and quickly returned and said to the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam): "O Messenger of God, I have four thousand (dinars). I give two thousand as a qard to my Lord and two thousand I leave for my family. "

When the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)decided to send an expedition to distant Tabuk [which was the last ghazwah of his life that he mounted] His need for finance and material was not greater than his need because the Byzantine forces were a numerous and well-equipped foe. Madinah was one of drought and hardship. The journey to Tabuk was long, more than a thousand kilometers. Provisions were in short supply. Transport was at a premium so much so that a group of Muslims came to the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) pleading to go with him but he had to turn them away because he could find no transport for them.

These men were sad and dejected and came to be known as the Bakka'in or the Weepers and the army itself was called the Army of Hardship ('Usrah). Thereupon the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) called upon his companions to give generously for the war effort in the path of God and assured them they would be rewarded. The Muslims' response to the Prophet's call was immediate and generous.

In the fore front of those who responded was Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu). He donated two hundred awqiyyah of gold whereupon Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) said to the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam): "I have (now) seen Abdul Rahman committing a wrong. He has not left anything for his family." The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) asked: "Have you left anything for your family, Abdul Rahman?” Abdul Rahman replied, "Yes, I have left for them more than what I am giving, and better." The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) enquired: "How much?” Abdul Rahman replied: "What God and His Messenger have promised of sustenance, goodness and reward.”

The Muslim army eventually left for Tabuk. There, Abdul Rahman was blessed with an honor which was not conferred on anyone till then. The time of Solat came and the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was not there at the time. The Muslims chose Abdul Rahman as their imam. The first raka’at of the Solat was almost completed when the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, joined the worshippers and performed the Solat behind Abdul Rahman Ibn Awl. Could there be a greater honor conferred on anyone than to have been the imam of the most honored of God's creation, the imam of the Prophets, the imam of Muhammad, the Messenger of God!

When the Prophet  (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) passed away, Abdul Rahman took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family, the Ummahāt Al-Muminin. He would go with them wherever they wanted to and he even performed Hajj with them to ensure that all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet's family. Abdul Rahman's support for the Muslims and the Prophet's wives in particular was well-known. Once he sold a piece of land for forty thousand dinars and he distributed the entire amount among the Banu Zahrah (the relatives of the Prophet's mother Aminah), the poor among the Muslims and the Prophet's wives.

When Aishah(radiallāhu`anha)received some of this money she asked: "Who has sent this money?" She was told it was Abdul Rahman, whereupon she said: "The Messenger of God SAW said No one will feel compassion towards you after I die except the sabirin (those who are patient and resolute)."

The prayer of the noble Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) that Allah had bestowed barakah on the wealth of Abdul Rahman throughout his life. He became the richest man among the companions of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). His business transactions invariably met with success and his wealth continued to grow. His trading caravans to and from Madinah grew larger and larger bringing to the people of Madinah wheat, flour, butter, cloths, utensils, perfume and whatever else was needed and exporting whatever surplus produce they had.

One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard coming from beyond the boundaries of Madinah normally a calm and peaceful city. The rumbling sound gradually increased in volume. In addition, clouds of dust and sand were stirred up and blown in the wind. The people of Madinah soon realized that a mighty caravan was entering the city. They stood in amazement as seven hundred camels laden with goods moved into the city and crowded the streets. There was much shouting and excitement as people called to one another to come out and witness the sight and see what goods and sustenance the camel caravan had brought.

Aishah, (radiallāhu`anha) heard the commotion and enquired: "What is happening in Madinah?" She was told: "It is the caravan of Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) which has come from Syria bearing his merchandise." "A caravan making all this commotion?" she asked in disbelief." "Yes, O Umm Al-Muminin, There are seven hundred camels." Aishah shook her head and gazed in the distance as if she was trying to recall some scene or utterance of the past and then she said: "I heard the Messenger of God (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘I have seen Abdul Rahman ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) entering Paradise creeping’."Some friends of his related to Abdul Rahman the hadith which Aishah had mentioned. He remembered that he had heard the hadith more than once from the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam).

He hurried to the house of Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) and asked her: "Yā Ammah! ‘Have you heard that from the Messenger of God (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)?’" "Yes," Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) replied. Abdul Rahman was also reported to have said. "You have reminded me of a hadith which I have never forgotten," He was so over-joyed and added: "If I could I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing, I swear to you, Yā Ammah! That this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will give them for sabilillah." And true, he just did as he said so.

In a great festival of charity and righteousness, he distributed all that the massive caravan had brought to the people of Madinah and surrounding areas. This is just one incident which showed what type of man Abdul Rahman. He earned much wealth but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and he did not allow it to corrupt him.

Abdul Rahman's generosity did not stop there. He continued giving with both his hands, secretly and openly. Some of the figures mentioned are truly astounding: forty thousand dirhams of silver, forty thousand dinars of gold, two hundred awqiyyah of gold, five hundred horses to mujahidin setting out in the path of God and one thousand five hundred camels to another group of mujahidin, four hundred dinars of gold to the survivors of Badar and a large legacy to the Ummahat Al Muminin and the catalogue goes on. On account of this fabulous generosity, Aishah said: "May God give him to drink from the water of Salsabil (a spring in Paradise)."All this wealth did not corrupt Abdul Rahman and did not change him. When he was among his workers and assistants, people could not distinguish him from them. One day food was brought to him with which to end a fast. He looked at the food and said:

"Musab Ibn Umayr (radiallāhu`anhu)has been killed. He was better than me. We did not find anything of his to shroud him with except what covered his head but left his legs uncovered. . Then God endowed us with the (bounties of) the world... I really fear that our reward has been bestowed on us early (in this world)." He began to cry and sob and could not eat.

Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (radiallāhu`anhu) would be granted felicity among "those who spend their substance in the cause of God and follow up not their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury? For them their reward is with their Lord, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve". (Surah al-Baqārah, 2: 262).

[Via Ummnurah]

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