"O Allah...I ask you for
knowledge that is never forgotten." Abu Hurairah
Abu Hurairah is one of the
best known of all the Sahabah. He was from the tribe of Daws which lived deep
in the desert. He was known in those days as 'Abd ash-Shams, the "Servant
of the Sun." While living among his
people, he heard about Islam and became a Muslim at the hands of his friend at-Tufail
ibn 'Amr ad-Dawsi tik-. The two remained with their people, trying to bring
them to the way of Allah. Because of this mission, 'Abd ash- Shams didn't come
to Madinah until six years after the Hijrah. And when he finally did, 'Abd ash-Shams
came with a large group of his tribe. They had left all their belongings
behind. 'Abd ash-Shams kept nothing of his material goods and relied solely on
his faith. In Madinah, 'Abd ash-Shams lived with the Ahl-as-Suffah, "the
People of the Bench." These were very poor men who had been given a place
to stay within the masjid of Rasulullah (pbuh) itself.
'Abd ash-Shams loved
Madinah and was very eager to meet the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). When he first
met Rasulullah (pbuh), the Prophet asked him, "What's your name?"
"It is better to be
'Abd ar-Rahman, the Servant of the Merciful," said Rasulullah. It was
known that people were asked to change their names if their names had any
connotation of idolatry or paganism.
"As you command! I
would sacrifice my mother and my father for you, 0 Messenger of Allah!"
said the new 'Abd ar-Rahman. This is a phrase that Arabs said when they really
loved someone, because it would be unheard of to love anyone more than one's
father and mother. People said this to the Prophet very often, and they meant
it. So the venerable Sahabi's name was changed to 'Abd ar-Rahman, but this
still was not the name by which people commonly called him.
There were many cats
living in the Masjid an-Nabawi in those days, and of course there were many
kittens as well. They used to hide in the long sleeves of Abd ar-Rahman's jubba
(a long robe). In fact he was often seen with kittens all over him! Pretty soon
everyone was calling him Abu Hurairah, the "father of a kitten." This
name spread so far that it overtook both his other names.
In time, Abu Huraira
became very close to the Messenger, and the Prophet gave him his own personal
nickname. Instead of calling him Abu Hurairah, the Prophet would call him Abu
Hirr (Hirr means a fully grown cat). Having been given this nickname, Abu Hurairah
felt very close to Rasulullah and he came to prefer "Abu Hirr" over
"Abu Hurairah" because, he would say, "My beloved Rasulullah
used to call me by that name."
Abu Hurairah had no wife
or child in the lifetime of the Prophet. Living in the Masjid an-Nabawi, he
listened to everything that was said, took part in every act of worship, had
the Prophet as teacher and Imam, and devoted himself to worship, study, and the
service of Rasulullah (pbuh).
The only relative that Abu
Hurairah had was his mother, who was very old. She insisted on following the old
Arab faith, but Abu Hurairah never stopped talking to her about Islam. He was a
dutiful son and he continued to love and serve her. But she kept rejecting his
call to Islam and Abu Hurairah's heart was filled with grief.
One day, as he was asking
her to believe in Allah and His Messenger, she called the Prophet some bad
names that hurt Abu Hurairah deeply.
He went weeping to the
Prophet, who asked, "What makes you cry, my Abu Hirr?"
"I am always calling
my mother to Islam and she keeps refusing," he replied. "Today, I
spoke to her again and she said things to me about you that deeply offended me.
O Beloved Messenger, please ask Allah to soften her heart!"
The Prophet was so moved
that he made a Du'a for her right there.
What happened next was truly
a miracle. As Abu Hurairah told it, "I went home and found the door
half-opened and heard water being poured. When I was about to go in, my mother
said, "Stay where you are, Abu Hurairah."
She got dressed and told
me to come in. I entered and she said, "I testify that there is no deity
but Allah and that Muhammad is His worshipper and messenger..."
Abu Hurairah returned to
the Prophet with tears flowing from happiness, just as he had come an hour
before crying from sadness. He said, "I bring you good news, O Rasulullah.
Allah has responded to your Du'a and guided my mother to Islam..."
Sincere love for the Prophet
Abu Hurairah's love for
the Prophet was part of his very being. He could never get tired of looking
upon the nur (light) of the Prophet's face. He used to say, "I never saw
anyone more handsome or more radiant than the Prophet. It was as if the sun was
in his face..."
He used to thank Allah for
allowing him to be a Sahabi of the Messenger. He used to say, "Praise be
to Allah Who guided me to Islam...Praise be to Allah Who taught me the
Qur'an... Praise be to Allah Who granted me the companionship of Muhanunad..."
The Gift of a Special
The Sahabi Zaid ibn Thabit
once said, "While Abu Hurairah and I were in the Masjid praying and remembering
Allah, the Prophet came to us and sat down. Out of respect we kept silent. But
he said, 'Go back to what you were doing.'
"Before Abu Hurairah
began, I started making a Du'a to which the Prophet kept saying 'Amin.'
"Then Abu Hurairah
made a Du'a, saying: 'O Allah, I ask of You what my friend has asked of You,
and I ask you for knowledge that is never to be forgotten.'
"The Prophet again
"So I too prayed, 'I
also ask you, O Allah, for knowledge never to be forgotten.'
"The Dawsi man has
come before you Zaid!' said the Prophet in a jesting manner."
Because of the Prophet's
"Amin," Abu Hurairah was able to remember everything he saw and heard
for the rest of his life! If someone asked him what was recited in Salah the
day before, he remembered. If someone asked exactly what Rasulullah said about
anything, he remembered. During the lifetime of the Prophet, he became the
reminder of the Muslims. Afterwards, when every word that could be recalled
accurately was worth more than gold and diamonds, Abu Hurairah held a treasure
which he passed on in the form of thousands of Ahadith.
The Prophet's Inheritance
Abu Hurairah loved
knowledge for himself and he loved it for others. Once he was passing through
the markets of Madinah. He was saddened to see people so caught up in worldly
affairs, completely absorbed with selling and buying. He stood before them and
said, "How foolish you are, you people of Madinah!"
"What makes you say
that, Abu Hurairah?" they asked.
"They are handing out
the inheritance of the Prophet and you are here?!" said Abu Hurairah.
"Why don't you go and take your share?"
"Who and where, O Abu
Hurairah?" the people asked.
"In the Masjid
an-Nabawi," replied the venerable Sahabi.
All the people in the
market rushed to the Masjid and Abu Hurairah stood in the market waiting for
them to come back.
When the people came back,
they complained to him that they went to the Masjid and found nothing being
"Didn't you see
anybody in the Masjid?" asked Abu Hurairah.
said, "we saw people praying and reciting Qur'an. We saw people reminding each
other to do good and avoid sins."
Abu Hurairah glanced at
them all and said, "Don't you understand?! Don't you see?! That is the
inheritance of our Blessed Messenger!"
Sacrifice and Humility
Abu Hurairah lived in
poverty. He endured hunger and suffering because of his devotion to knowledge
and his desire to always be in the presence of Rasulullah. He chose not to take
work and to accept whatever food or clothing Allah provided for him through the
kindness of other Muslims. He thought that a normal life would stop him from
spending all his time listening to and remembering the sayings and doings of
People tried to take care
of him as well as the other homeless men of Ahl-as-Suffah. In the early days,
many people were poor in Madinah and often there was very little to eat. The
town had nearly doubled in size and those from Makkah had left everything they
owned at home. So food, jobs and everything else had to stretch a long way.
Many Arabs in those days had fewer luxuries than their neighbors and far fewer
than people today.
Because of the scarcity of
food, Abu Hurairah was often very hungry. He later said,
"Once I was so hungry
that I tied a stone on my stomach to ease its pain. I sat at the entrance of
the Masjid. Abu Bakr passed by and I asked him about some verse of the Qur'an,
thinking he would take me home to eat, but he didn't.
"Then 'Umar passed by
and I asked about some verses, but he didn't invite me either. Then the Prophet
passed by. He knew how hungry I was. He said to me, 'Abu Hirr? Come.'
"'Yes, Rasulullah,' I
replied, and I followed him. I entered the house with him. He found a cup of
milk and asked his wife where it came from.
"So-and-so sent it to
"He turned to me and
said, 'Go and call the men of as-Suffah!' I was very curious and wondered what
this milk had do with Ahl al-Suffah. I was hoping to get some of it before I
went, to give me some strength. But I went and invited Ahl al-Suffah and they
came to the Prophet
"He said, 'Take this,
Abu Hurairah, and pass it around to them.' I kept giving each one the cup to
drink, until every person was full. When they had all taken a drink, I gave the
cup back to the Prophet. He raised his head and looked at me, smiling, and
said, 'You and I are left.'
'''Yes, Rasulullah,' I
replied, but I thought, 'How can this be? There surely can be no milk left.'
'''Drink,' he said, and I
drank. Then he said, 'Drink,' and I drank. He kept saying so and I kept
following until I said, 'I swear by the One Who sent you with the Truth that I
am so full I cannot swallow any more.' So he took the cup and drank the
Such was the miraculous
nature of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Soon after that miracle,
the treasures from the military expeditions began to pour into Madinah. Abu
Hurairah received a stipend and a house. With these he was able to get married
and raise a family.
Yet it didn't change a
thing in his noble soul. He never forgot his past and would always recall it,
saying, "I grew up without a father. I came to Madinah helpless. I worked
for Busrah bint Ghazwan just to eat. I used to serve people when they came and
bring their horses when they left..."
Many years later, the Muslim
ruler Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan assigned Abu Hurairah to look after Madinah.
Once, while he was governor, Abu Hurairah was passing through a narrow alley, carrying a
load of firewood on his back. On his way he passed by Tha'labah ibn Malik, and
said to him, "O Tha'labah, make way for the governor!"
"May Allah bless you, isn't all that space enough for you?"
"Make way for the
governor," said Abu Hurairah with a smile, "and for the heavy bundle
of sticks he has on his back!" Though Abu Hurairah was governor of the
whole city of Madinah, he was still full of humility, and did not consider it
beneath him to carry such a load upon his back.
Devotion to his Lord
In addition to his
knowledge and concern for his community, Abu Hurairah was a pious and humble person
who remembered Allah in all his daily actions and thoughts. He used to fast
every other day and make Nafil Salah (supererogatory prayers) at every chance.
He would pray the first third of the night and then wake up his wife to pray
the second third. She would then wake up their daughter to pray the last third
of the night.
In those later years, Abu
Hurairah had a maid-servant who insulted him by something she did. He raised
his hand to hit her, but he stopped himself and said, "Had it not been for
fear of the Day of Judgment, I would have retaliated in a way you did to me.
But I'll sell you to the One who pays me your price of which I am badly in
need. Go, you are free, for the sake of Allah, the Almighty, so that He may
free me from the Fire!"
Abu Hurairah's daughter
used to say to him, "O Father, girls tease me. They say, 'Why doesn't your
father let you wear gold?"
"0 Daughter," he
said, "Tell them: 'My father fears for me the heat of the fire.'"
Abu Hurairah didn't refuse
his daughter gold out of stinginess. He did this because he wanted to prevent
her from becoming attached to worldly things. He himself was very generous in
the way of Allah. Once, one of the Umayyad Khulafa sent a servant to him with
one hundred golden dinars. The next day, the Khalifah sent his servant again
with the message: "My servant gave you the dinars by mistake; you were not
the one meant to have them."
Abu Hurairah answered him,
"I spent it all in the way of Allah; I haven't a single one of your dinars
left in my house. When my share of the Muslim treasury is due, take your money
from it." The Khalifah only did this to test the honesty of Abu Hurairah.
He investigated the matter and it was true. All the gold had been given away in
The Dutiful Son
All his life, Abu Hurairah
remained devoted to his mother. Each time he wanted to go out, he stood at her
door and said, "As-salamu 'alaiki, O Mother, wa rahmatullahi wa
And she would answer,
"Wa 'alaika assalam, O Son, wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu." He would
say, "May Allah bless you, for you protected me when I was young."
And she would say, "May Allah bless you, for you took care of me when you
grew up." Then, when he came back home, he would say the same.
Abu Hurairah always
insisted on calling people to love their parents and keep warm, close
connections with all their relatives. Once, he saw two men walking, one older
than the other. The younger did not appear to be showing proper respect for the
elder. Abu Hurairah said to the younger one, "What is the relation of this
man to you?"
"He is my
father," replied the younger man.
Abu Hurairah then advised
him: "Show respect. Don't call him by his first name... Don't walk in
front of him... Don't sit in front of him..."
Looking to the Next World
When Abu Hurairah was
dying, he wept. The people present asked him what caused him to cry. He
answered them, "I am not crying for your world...I am crying because the
trip is too long and the provision is too little...I am now standing at the end
of a way which looks onto Heaven or Hell...I don't know in which I will
The Umayyad ruler Marwan
visited him at that time and said, "May Allah cure you, Abu
"O Allah," said
Abu Hurairah, "I love to meet You so may You love meeting me as well and
do it soon..."
Marwan had hardly left
when Abu Hurairah passed into the next life.
May Allah bless Abu
Hurairah. He preserved for the Muslims over five thousand three hundred Ahadith
of the Prophet (pbuh). May Allah reward him with the best for what he did for
Islam and the Muslims. (Ameen)
Source: Hearts Have
Changed (Stories of the Sahabah)
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