There is a wide gap between the lives of Muslims today and the lives of the first generation of Muslims. Many of those who study Islam know more about the lives of scholars than they do about the Sahaba and the rightly-guided Caliphs, even though the era of the rightly-guided Caliphs offers all Muslims a rich source of knowledge about all the Islamic sciences. The Sahaba laid the foundations of a strong Islamic nation. The Companions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saas) are some of Islam’s greatest heroes and played a great role in the history of Islam. Their struggles for the sake of Allah and their complete devotion to Islam are examples that all Muslims can feel inspired by and inshaAllah, emulate.
May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His final Prophet and his noble Companions. These short descriptions of the lives and merits of these Companions hardly do them any justice. It is highly recommended that each Muslim do some further investigation by reading biographies of the Companions. Here are some facts about only a few of the Prophet’s Companions.
1. Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq: Abu Bakr was the Prophet’s (saas) best friend, and the first rightly-guided Caliph. He was the only person, other than the Prophet’s wife (Khadijah), who accepted Islam immediately and believed in Muhammad from Islam’s earliest beginnings. Abu Bakr always remained at the Prophet’s side, and he had no reservations about spending his wealth for the sake of Islam and the Muslims. He belonged to a wealthy, well-established family in Mecca, but when he died he had only six hundred dirhams. He used his status in Mecca to protect new converts to Islam when the Quraish were oppressing Muslims. The Companions recognized his superiority, yet he always remained humble and sincere towards all. He is an example of dedication and sacrifice.
2. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab: ‘Umar was the second Caliph of Islam and one of the closest Companions to the Prophet (saas). He was so firm in his practice of Islam that he usually could sense what was right or wrong before the Prophet (saas) had informed others of it. He used to say to his friends: “If a mule stumbles near the Euphrates River, I fear being questioned by Allah as to why I had not paved the road for it.” ‘Umar is the greatest examples of a just ruler. Before he converted, ‘Umar was a bitter enemy of Islam, but when he entered the fold, the Muslims felt strong enough to withstand any oppression, and began worshipping Allah openly. The Prophet (saas) said of ‘Umar: “Among the Children of Israel who lived before you, there were men who used to be inspired with guidance though they were not Prophets, and if there were any such person amongst my followers, it would be ‘Umar.”
3. Uthman bin ‘Affan: Uthman accepted Islam in its early beginnings. From the first moment he became a Muslim, Uthman used all his wealth to serve the cause of Islam. He spent most of his resources to satisfy the needs of poor Muslims. Other than Abu Bakr, none of the Prophet’s Companions could surpass him in his financial support of Islam. Uthman was the third rightly-guided Caliph. One of the great accomplishments of his rule was the collection of the Qur’an. Uthman was so distinctively modest that the Prophet (saas) said: “The angels feel shy when they see Uthman.”
4. Ali Ibn Abi Talib: Ali was one of the earliest believers, the first boy to embrace Islam at only twelve years of age, and the fourth Caliph. He lived in the Prophet’s (saas) house and imitated him in all that he did, living a humble life. Ali was especially heroic in the battles he fought for the cause of Islam, earning the nickname “the Lion of Allah”. Ali married the Prophet’s daughter, Fatimah, and they lived a happily together even though they were poor. Allah praised them in the Qur’an for their self-denial. One day, they were having their meal of dry bread, and a beggar knocked on the door. They gave him the dry bread and stayed hungry, because they preferred to satisfy Allah by feeding the beggar
5. Suhaib ar-Roomi: Suhaib was a slave as a child, taken as a prisoner of war by the Roman army when he was very young. He was taken to Mecca and sold to a noble man who later set him free. Suhaib became a trader and amassed wealth over the following years. He was one of the early believers who embraced Islam when he listened to one of the Prophet’s (saas) lectures. He tried to keep his faith secret, but the pagans tortured him because he was not affiliated with a powerful tribe in Mecca. When Suhaib migrated to Medina, the Quraish told him to surrender all of his wealth and property, or they would detain him. Suhaib left all his wealth and property behind for the sake of Islam. When he told the Prophet (saas) of the deal he made with Quraish to escape, the Prophet said to him twice: “O Suhaib! It was a profitable deal.” He defended the Prophet (saas) in battle, even shielding him with his own body against arrows.
6. Jabir bin Abdullah: Jabir embraced Islam when he was a young boy. Jabir was orphaned when he found his father’s body mutilated by the pagans at the battle of Uhud. Jabir’s father was a martyr, but he was left with a large debt and seven sisters to care for. Jabir was supported by the Prophet (saas) and his Companions. He sacrificed his happiness for the welfare of his seven sisters. Instead of marrying a virgin, he married an experienced widow who would be more capable of taking care of his sisters. He loved the Prophet (saas) dearly and kept close to him. He was always repeating that the Prophet (saas) taught him that smiling to a brother was a good deed for which a believer would be rewarded by Allah. Although he was extremely poor, he sacrificed the little food he had to the Prophet (saas) who was tying two stones to his stomach to overcome his hunger. As a result, Jabir’s house was blessed, thanks to prayers made by the Prophet (saas). Jabir fought in many battles against the enemies of Islam, and was a dedicated Muslim for the rest of his life.
7. ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas: ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas was one of the greatest enemies of Islam before his conversion. He used all of his resources and skills to thwart the efforts of Muhammad (saas) and his Companions. However, he was an intelligent man, and embraced Islam. After submitting himself to Allah, ‘Amr became one of Islam’s greatest heroes. Prophet Muhammad (saas) showed his full trust in ‘Amr’s capabilities and sincerity towards Islam by appointing him as governor of Oman. ‘Amr later led the Muslims to conquer Egypt and establish a strong Islamic state.
8. Khalid bin Al-Waleed: Khalid bin Al-Waleed was a great hero of Islam. Known as ‘The Sword of Allah,’ he led several battles and was always victorious when he fought for Islam. Before he converted to Islam, he fought with the Quraish against Islam and even took part in torturing some of the weak Muslims, making it impossible for them to live in Mecca. It was Khalid bin Al-Waleed who found the weak spot in the Muslim army in the battle of Uhud and led the pagans to defeat the Muslims. After this, he was appointed the commander of the Quraish army for his military skill and strength. Khalid was eventually humiliated when he lost the Battle of the Trench. It took twenty years for Khalid bin Al-Waleed to convert to Islam, but when he did, he became a true soldier for Allah. He conquered apostates, notably Musailamah Al-Kadhab (the Liar) and restored peace and order to the Arabian Peninsula. He devised military tactics which, by the help of Allah, resulted in defeating the Roman army, subduing the Persians, and purifying Arabia from apostates. When he died, Umar bin Al-Khattab cried and said: “Women would never give birth to one like you.
9. Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah: The Prophet (saas) publicly named ten men who would be guaranteed Paradise in the Hereafter. One of these fortunate men was Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah. He was one of the earliest to accept Islam in its early days in Mecca. He took part in the migrations to Ethiopia and Medina for the sake of preserving his faith. He fought in all the major battles of Islam and spent most of his life as a soldier for Allah’s cause. He even killed his own father in battle when his father vowed to slay him for accepting Islam. Praising his character, the Prophet (saas) said: “Every Ummah has a trustworthy man; Abu ‘Ubaidah is the trustworthy man of this Ummah.
10. Bilal bin Rabah: Bilal was one of the earliest converts to Islam in Mecca and one of the slaves who accepted Islam at a time when becoming a Muslim resulted in persecution, or even death. Bilal was an Abyssinian brought to Mecca to be a slave in the house of a Quraishi chief. He was humiliated and oppressed because of his low status and dark skin, yet bore his trials with patience. In his heart, Bilal knew that the idols he was forced to worship would not be able to bring him any good or harm, so when he heard of a new Prophet who called people to worship Allah alone and to treat each other with justice and equality, he became interested in Islam. When his owner, Umayya bin Khalaf, discovered that Bilal had not only accepted Islam, but also spit on an idol in front of the Ka’bah, he tortured Bilal to make him turn away from his newfound faith. Bilal was whipped until his skin would tear and blood streamed out, taken to the desert, wrapped in steel chains and placed underneath a huge rock, and the only words he would say were ‘Allah is One.’ Bilal showed humanity that nothing should be exchanged for the true faith, not even one’s life. One day, Umayya was torturing Bilal particularly heavily, and Abu Bakr came and asked to purchase Bilal. Abu Bakr was persistent and paid a large sum for Bilal, then immediately declared Bilal to be a free man, an example of Islam’s attitude toward slavery. Bilal was treated equally by the Companions, and migrated to Medina for the sake of his faith. In Medina, Bilal announced the call to prayer for the first time in history and became the first Mu’edhin of Islam. With his melodious voice, he would give the call to prayer five times a day for the rest of the Prophet’s (saas) life.
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