Thursday, November 1, 2007

Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud

 Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd 

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.

Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) was of the tribe of Banu Huzail and was also the ally of Banu Zahra. When he was still a youth, before reaching the age of puberty, he used to be shepherd-boy tending sheep around the mountain trails of outskirt of Makkah away from the people. The sheep belongs to Uqbah Ibn Mu’ait a Quraish chieftain. The youth was known as “Ibn Umm Abd" Son of the slave mother. His real name was Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu).

Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) heard the news of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) that had appeared among his people but he did not attach any importance to it both because of his age and because he was usually far away from the Makkan society. It was his custom to leave with the flock of Uqbah early in the morning and not return until nightfall.

One day while tending the flocks, Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) saw two men, middle-aged and of dignified bearing, coming towards him from a distance. They were obviously very tired. They were also so thirsty that their lips and throat were quite dry. They came up to him, greeted him and said, "Young man, Could you offer the milk from one of these sheep for us that we may quench our thirst and recover our strength." But he young Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) replied "I cannot! The sheep are not mine. I am only responsible for looking after them."

The two men did not make any arguments with him. In fact, although they were very thirsty, they were extremely pleased with his honest reply. The pleasure clearly was shown on their faces. The two men in fact were the blessed Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) himself and his companion, Abu Bakar As-Siddiq (radiallāhu`anhu). They had gone out on that day to the mountains of Makkah to escape from the violent persecution of the Quraish.

The young man in turn was indeed impressed with the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his companion and soon became quite attached to them. 

Acceptance of Islām
It was not long before Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) became a Muslim and offered to be in the service of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) agreed and from that day, the fortunate Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) gave up tending sheep in exchange for looking after the needs of the blessed Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). He was the sixth man to accept Islām. Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) remained closely attached to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). He would attend to his needs both inside and outside the house. He would accompany him on journeys and expeditions. He would wake him when he slept. He would shield him when he washed. He would carry his staff and his Siwak (toothbrush) and attend to his other personal needs. It was for these reasons that the Sahabah (radiallāhu`anhu) took to calling him Saheb-e-Siwak (bearer of the siwak), Saheb-e-Nalaen (bearer of the slippers), Saheb-e-Mutahara (bearer of the water) and also Saheb-e-Wisadah (bearer of the bedroll).  

The Prophet's Appreciation
Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) received a unique training in the household of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). He was under the guidance of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam); he adopted his manner and followed his every trait until it was said of him, ‘He was the closest to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) in character.’ Abdullāh was often mistaken as one of the Blessed Household. Abu Musa Asha’ari (radiallāhu`anhu) says, ‘When we came from Yemen, we thought for some time that Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) was a member of the Blessed Household, because Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) and his mother were constantly coming and going in the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) presence. Furthermore, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) once said to Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu), “O Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu), you do not need permission to enter my house. You are always welcome.”  

Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd's Qurān
Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) was the best at reciting the Qur’ān among the companions and he understood it better than them all. He was therefore the most knowledgeable on the Shar’ah. Nothing can illustrate this better than the story of the man who came to Umar Ibn al-Khattāb (radiallāhu`anhu) as he was standing on the plain of Arafat and said: ‘I have come, O Amirul-Mu’minn, from Kufa where I left a man filling copies of the Qur’ān from memory.’ Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) became very angry and paced up and down beside his camel, fuming. ‘Who is he?’ he asked. ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu),’ replied the man. Umar's (radiallāhu`anhu) anger subsided and he regained his composure. ‘Woe to you,’ he said to the man. ‘By Allāh, I don't know of any person left who is more qualified in this matter than he is. Let me tell you about this.’ Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) continued: ‘One night Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was having a conversation with Abu Bakar (radiallāhu`anhu) about the situation of Muslims I was with them. When the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) left, we left with him also and as we passed through the mosque, there was a man standing in Prayer whom we did not recognise. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam)  stood and listened to him, then turned to us and said, “Whoever wants to read the Qur’ān as fresh as when it was revealed, then let him read according to the recitation of Ibn Umm Abd (radiallāhu`anhu).” 

After the Solāt, as Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) sat making supplications, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, “Ask [Allah] and it will be given to you. Ask and it will be given to you.” I said to myself, I should go to Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) straight away and tell him the good news of the Prophet’s (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) ensuring acceptance of his supplications. I went and did so but found that Abu Bakar (radiallāhu`anhu) had gone before me and conveyed the good news to him. By Allāh, I have never yet beaten Abu Bakar (radiallāhu`anhu) in the doing of any good.’ In another Hadith, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam)  said, ‘Learn the Qur’ān from four people, Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd, Salim Mawla Abi Huzaifah, Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab and Muaz Ibn Jabal (radiallāhu`anhum).’ The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) has also said, ‘Read the Qur’ān in the same manner as Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) teaches.’  

Note: The most popular and widely read Qirāt is that of Imām Hafs. He relates from Imām Aasim Kufi and he in turn relates from Abu Abdur Rahman Abdullāh Ibn Habib As-Sulmiyi, who relates from Uthman Ibn Affan, Ali Ibn Talib, Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd, Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab and Zaid Ibn Thābit (radiallāhu`anhum). They all, in turn, relate directly from the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). 

Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) attained such a knowledge of the Qur’ān that he would say, ‘By Him besides whom there is no Allāh, no verse of the book of Allāh has been revealed without my knowing where it was revealed and the circumstances of its revelation. By Allāh, if I know there was anyone who knew more of the Book of Allāh, I will do whatever is in my power to be with him.’  

Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) was not exaggerating in what he said about himself. Once ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattāb (radiallāhu`anhu) met a caravan on one of his journeys as caliph. It was pitch dark and the caravan could not be seen properly. ‘Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) ordered someone to hail the caravan. It happened that Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) was in it.  ‘From where do you come?’ asked Umar (radiallāhu`anhu). ‘From a deep valley,’ it was replied, using the Qur’ānic expression - Fajj Amiq. ‘And where are you going?’ asked Umar (radiallāhu`anhu). ‘To the ancient house,’ it was replied, using the Qur’ānic expression - Al-bayt al-atiq. ‘There is a learned person (alim) among them,’ said Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) and he commanded someone to ask the person, ‘Which part of the Qur’ān is the greatest?’ ‘Allāh, there is no Deity except Him, the Living, the Self-subsisting. Neither slumber overtakes Him nor sleep,’ replied the person answering, quoting the Ayat al-Kursi (the verse of the Throne). ‘Which part of the Qur’ān is the most clear on justice?’ ‘Allāh commands what it just and fair, the feeding of relatives’, ‘What it the most comprehensive statement of the Qur’ān?’ ‘Whoever does an atoms weight of good shall see it, and whoever does an atom's weight of evil shall see it.’ ‘Which part of the Qur’ān gives risk to the greatest hope?’ ‘Say, O my servants, who have wasted their resources, do not despair of the mercy of Allāh. Indeed, Allāh forgives all sins. He is the Forgiving, the Compassionate.’ Thereupon ‘Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) asked, ‘Is Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) among you? ‘Yes, by Allāh,’ the men in the caravan replied.  

The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) had always desired to make Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) a leader of men, as it is clear from the following words of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam), ‘If I was to make anyone a leader over someone without consulting anyone, I would make Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) a leader.’  

Abdullāh's Knowledge
Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) would refrain from narrating Hadith in fear of mistakes. However when he did narrate a Hadith, he was very particular and precocious in what he attributed to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). He would turn pale and quake in fear whenever he accidentally attributed something to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam), even though the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, ‘Whatever Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) narrates to you, believe him.’ Whenever he gave a verdict, he would attribute it to himself, saying that it was his own opinion and that it was from Allāh if it was correct and that it was from himself and Satan, if it was incorrect. For this reason, many Fatwas have been attributed to Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) instead of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam).  

Imām Nasa’ie writes in his Sunan: ‘A man married a woman, then he passed away before he could consummate his wedding or set a dowry for his wife. When the issue was placed before the Sahabah (radiallāhu`anhu), they advised them to go to Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu). When they came to Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu), he tried to avoid them and told them to ask someone else. Finally he relented and said, “The woman will receive Mehr-e-Mithal. If the verdict is correct, it is of Allāh. If it is incorrect, then it is of Satan and me. Neither Allāh and the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) are responsible for it.” A Sahabi by the name of Mākal Ibn Al-Ashjai (radiallāhu`anhu)  was also present and he said, “I swear by Allāh , you have given the same verdict that the Prophet(Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) gave in the favour of Broan Bint Washile Al-Ashjai. Your verdict is in accordance with the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam).” On hearing this, Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) rejoiced as he had never rejoiced before. The majority of Fatwas of Iraq and the Hanafi Fiqh are based upon the Fatwas of Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu). His authority in Fiqh was such that the other Sahabah (radiallāhu`anhu) would refuse to give a Fatwa during while he was still alive. They would always refer any seeker to him. Students who wanted to enter his service and gain knowledge from him were always constantly petitioning him.  

Khatimah Ibn Abu Subrah once went to Madinah and prayed for a pious companion, Hurrairah (radiallāhu`anhu) was Allāh’s reply. Abu Hurrairah (radiallāhu`anhu) asked Khatimah where he had come from. He replied that he had travelled for two days from Kufah. Abu Hurrairah (radiallāhu`anhu) said to him, ‘Is it not Sa’ad Ibn Malik (radiallāhu`anhu), who is Mustajab-ul-Dawat amongst you? Is not Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu), who was the bearer of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) slippers and ablution water amongst you? Is not Hudzaifah (radiallāhu`anhu), who was privy to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) thoughts amongst you? Is not Amar (radiallāhu`anhu) amongst you, who Allāh granted refuge from Shaytān through the Prophets (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) tongue amongst you? Is not he who knows the two Divine Books (the Qur'ān and the New Testament), Salman Farsi (radiallāhu`anhu) amongst you?’ Coincidentally, all the Sahābah (radiallāhu`anhu) who Abu Hurrairah (radiallāhu`anhu) mentioned were in Kufah at that time.  

Sa’ad Ibn Malik (radiallāhu`anhu) narrates, ‘Once there were six of us in the service of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). Besides me were Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd and Bilal ibn Rabab (radiallāhu`anhum). Some pagans of Makkah came before the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) and began to say, “Remove these people first, then we shall talk.” The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam)  was still considering whether sending us out would win over their hearts and make them more receptive to Islām, when the following verse was revealed: ‘Send not away those who call on their Lord, morning and evening, seeking His Face.’ [Al-An’am, 6:52]  

Sa’ad Ibn Malik (radiallāhu`anhu) proudly states, ‘This verse was revealed for us.’ Who can match the status of those who are praised by Allāh? The whole point of the worship of Allāh is the pleasure of Allāh. These six attained the glad tidings of Allāh in their lifetime that Allāh was pleased with them.  

On one hand, we have Allāh, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Sahābah (radiallāhu`anhu) who praises of Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd’s excellence in knowledge and character. On the other hand, we have a sect of narrow-minded and totally unqualified people who, ironically, call themselves Ahl al-Hadith (the people of the Hadith), better known as the Ghair-Muqalids (the leaderless), saying that Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) was uninformed regarding the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) Salāh. Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) is one of the Blessed Household? He the constant companion of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) for thirty years? 

Abdullāh's Bravery
Abdullāh ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) was not only a reciter of the Qur'ān, a learned man or a fervent worshipper. He was in addition a strong and courageous fighter, one who became deadly serious when the occasion demanded it. The companions of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) were together one day in Makkah. Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) was the first man to recite aloud the words of the Qur’ān before a gathering of the Quraish. The companions of the Prophet (radiallāhu`anhu) were together one day in Makkah. They were still few in number, weak and oppressed. They said, ‘The Quraish have not yet heard the Qur’ān being recited openly and loudly. Who is the man who could recite it for them?’ ‘I shall recite it for them,’ volunteered Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu). ‘We are afraid for you,’ they said. ‘We only want someone who has a clan who would protect him from their evil.’  ‘Let me,’ Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) insisted, ‘Allāh shall protect me and keep me away from their evil.’ He then went out to the mosque until he reached Maqam Ibrāhm (a landmark situated a few meters from the Ka’abah). It was dawn and the Quraish were sitting around the Ka’abah. Abdullāh began to recite Surah Rahmān: “Bismillāhir-Rahmānir-Rahm. Ar-Rahmān. ‘Al-lamal-Qur'ān. Khalaqal insān. ‘Allāmahul bayān . . .” (In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. The Merciful God. He has taught the Qur'an. He has created man and taught him the clear truth . . .)" He went on reciting. The Quraish looked at him intently and some of them asked: "What is Ibn Umm Abd saying?" "Damn him! He is reciting some of what Muhammad brought!" they realized.

They began to slap his face but he continued reciting. When he concluded his recital, his face was covered with welts and blood. ‘By Allāh,’ said Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu), ‘the enemies of Allāh are more uncomfortable than I am at this moment. If you wish, I shall return tomorrow and do the same.’  ‘You have done enough,’ they said. ‘You have made them hear what they dislike.’  

Abdullāh's Immigration
Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) did Hijrah three times, twice to Ethiopia and once to Madinah. He participated in every Gazwah. It was he who beheaded Abu Jahl in Badar. It was to him that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) presented Abu Jahl’s sword as a share in the booty. The Caliph Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) sent Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) to Kufa to educate the people and to take charge of the Bait-ul-Maal. When Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) fixed salaries for the Sahābah (radiallāhu`anhu), he offered Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) a salary too. Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) 

Abdullāh's Death
Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd (radiallāhu`anhu) lived to the time of Caliph Uthman (radiallāhu`anhu). It was during this era that he retired from his post and returned to Madinah. When he was sick and on his death-bed, Uthman (radiallāhu`anhu) came to visit him and said, ‘What is your ailment?’ ‘My sins.’ ‘And what do you desire?’ ‘The mercy of my Lord.’ ‘Shall I not give you your stipend which you have refused to take for years now?’ ‘I have no need of it.’ ‘Let it be for your daughters after you.’ ‘Do you fear poverty for my children? I have commanded them to read Surah al-Waqiah every night for I have heard the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) saying, “Whoever reads Al-Waqiah every night shall not be afflicted by poverty ever.”  

That night, in either 33 or 34 A.H, Abdullāh (radiallāhu`anhu) passed away to the company of his Lord, his tongue moist with the remembrance of Allāh and with the recitation of the verses of His Book, Al-Qur’ān.

[Via Ummnurah]

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