Thursday, November 15, 2007

Abbad Ibn Bishar

It was the fourth year of the Hijrah that the Prophet SAW and the Muslims in Madinah was facing an imminent threat from within and as well from outside. From within the city of Madinah, the influential Jewish tribe of the Banu An-Nadir, had shown yet their color which they breached the agreement with the Prophet SAW and even made plans to kill him. It was due to their intense hostilities against the Prophet that caused them to be were banished from the city. This incident took place in the month of Safar of 4th H.

After two months of uneasy quiet period the Prophet SAW had received substantive and reliable information news that the tribes from distant Najd were planning an attack against the Muslims in Madinah. To pre-empt their attacked the Prophet SAW gathered a force of over four hundred men and leaving one of his companions Uthman ibn Affan to take charge of the city, he set forth eastwards. Among this force was the young Madinahan, Abbad Ibn Bishar.
When he arrived in Najad, the Prophet SAW found the men population had strangely deserted. Only women were left behind. The men had taken to the hills. Some of them had regrouped and prepared to mount the fight. It was thee time for the Solat Al-Asar, the afternoon prayer. The Prophet SAW feared that the hostile tribesmen would attack them during prayer; he made arrangements that the ranks of Muslims were divided into two groups enabling them to perform the prayer of Asar in the form of Solat Al-Khawf (The Prayer in Fear). He performed one raka’at with one group while the other group stood on guard. The second group would do the second raka’at with the first stay on guard. And so forth until each group completed its prayer after the Prophet SAW had completed the prayer.

On beholding the disciplined ranks of the Muslims the hostile tribesmen became uneasy and fearful. The Prophet SAW had made his presence felt and something of his mission was now made known to them at first hand in the central highlands of Arabia whence he departed peacefully.

On the way back, the Prophet SAW pitched camp in a valley for a night. As soon as the Muslims had settled their camel, the Prophet SAW asked: "Who will be our guard tonight?" "We, will do it, O Messenger of God," said Abbad Ibn Bishar and Ammar Ibn Yasir both of whom had been paired off as 'brothers' by the Prophet SAW when he arrived in Madinah after the Hijrah.

Abbad and Ammar left for the mouth of the valley to take up duty. Abbad saw that his "brother" was tired and asked him: "What part of the night do you wish to sleep, the first or the second?" "I shall sleep during the first part," said Ammar who was soon fast asleep quite close to Abbad.

The night was clear, calm and peaceful. The stars, the trees, and the rocks all appeared to celebrate in silence the praises of their Lord. Abbad felt serene. There was no movement, no threatening sign. He spends the time with in ibadah (worship) and reciting the Quran. It would be more delightful if it could combine the performance of Solat with the measured recitation of the Quran which he so much enjoyed.

In fact Abbad Ibn Bishar was enthralled by the Quran from the moment he first heard it being recited by the mellow and beautiful voice of Musab Ibn Umayr. That was before the Hijrah when Abbad Ibn Bishar was just about fifteen years old. The recitation of Quran had found a special place in his heart day and night thereafter that he would be heard repeating the glorious words of God so much so that he became known among the Prophet's companions as the "Friend of the Quran".
Late at night, the Prophet SAW once stood up to perform the Tahajjud Prayer in Aishah's house which adjoined the masjid. He heard a voice reciting the Quran, pure and sweet and as fresh as when the angel Jibril revealed the words to him. He asked: "Aishah, is that the voice of Abbad Ibn Bishar?" "Yes, O Messenger of God," replied Aishah RA. "O Lord, forgive him," prayed the Prophet SAW out of love for him.

And so, in the stillness of the night, at the mouth of the valley in Najad, Abbad Ibn Bishar stood up and faced the Qiblah. Raising his hand in surrender to God, he entered into the state of Prayer. Finishing the compulsory opening chapter of the Quran, he began reciting Surah Al-Kahf in his sweet, captivating voice.

Surah Al-Kahf is a long Surah of one hundred and ten verses which deals in part with the virtues of faith, truth and patience and with the relativity of time.

While he was thus absorbed in reciting and reflecting upon the divine words, eternal words of illumination and wisdom, a stranger stalked the outskirts of the valley in search of Muhammad SAW and his followers. He was one of those who had planned to attack the Prophet SAW but who had fled into the mountains on the approach of the Muslims. His wife whom he had left in the village had been taken as a hostage by one of the Muslims. When he eventually found that his wife was gone, he swore by Al-Lat and Al-Uzza that he would pursue Muhammad and his companions and that he would not return unless he had drawn blood.

From a distance, the man saw the figure of Abbad Ibn Bishar silhouetted at the mouth of the valley and he knew that the Prophet SAW and his followers must be inside the valley. Silently he drew his bow and let fly an arrow. Unerringly it embedded itself in Abbad's body.

Calmly, Abbad pulled out the arrow from his body and went on with his recitation, still absorbed in his Solat. The attacker shot a second and a third arrow both of which also found their mark. Abbad pulled out one and then the other. He finished his recitation, made the ruku’ and then sujud. Weak and in pain, he stretched out his right hand while still in prostration and shook his sleeping companion. Ammar Ibn Yasir awoke. Silently, Abbad Ibn Bishar continued the solat to its end and then said: "Get up and stand guard in my place. I have been wounded."

Ammar Ibn Yasir jumped up and began to yell. Seeing them both the attacker fled into the darkness. Ammar turned to Abbad Ibn Bishar as he lay on the ground, blood flowing from his wounds. “O, Glory be to God! Why didn't you wake me when you were hit by the first arrow?" remarked Ammar.

Abbad Ibn Bishar said, “I was in the midst of reciting verses of the Quran which filled my soul with awe and I did not want to cut short the recitation. The Prophet SAW had commanded me to commit this surah to memory. Death would have been dearer to me than that the recitation of this surah should be interrupted."
Abbad Ibn Bishar devotion to the Quran was a sign of his intense devotion to and loves for God, His Prophet and His religion. The qualities he was known for were his constant immersion in ibadah, his heroic courage and his generosity in the path of God. At times of sacrifice and death, he would always be in the front line. When it was time for receiving his share of rewards, he would only be found after much effort and difficulty. He was always trustworthy in his dealings with the wealth of Muslims. All this was recognized.

Aishah, the wife of the Prophet SAW once said: "There are three persons among the Ansar whom no one could excel in virtue: Sad Ibn Muadz, Usaid Ibn Khudair and Abbad Ibn Bishar."

Abbad Ibn Bishar died as a syahid (martyr) at the Battle of Yamamah
. Just before the battle he had a strong presentiment of death and martyrdom. He noticed that there was a lack of mutual confidence among the Muhajirin and Ansar. He was grieved and upset. He realized that there would be no success for the Muslims in these terrible battles unless the Muhajirin and Ansar were grouped in separate regiments so that it could be clearly seen who really bore their responsibility and who were truly steadfast in combat.

At the break of day when the battle commenced, Abbad Ibn Bishar stood on a mound and shouted: "O Ansar, distinguish you among men. Destroy your scabbards. And do not forsake Islam."

Abbad harangued the Ansar until about four hundred men gathered around him at the head of who were Thabit Ibn Qays, Al-Bara, Ibn Malik and Abu Dujanah, the keeper of the Prophet's sword. With this force, Abbad unleashed an offensive into the enemy's rank s which blunted their thrust and drove them back to the "garden of death".At the walls of this garden, Abbad Ibn Bishar fell. So numerous were his wounds, he was hardly recognizable. He had lived, fought and died as a believer.


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