One Man's Devotion

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) is the nickname of ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Sakhr al-Azdi (r.a.).  He is a noted swahaba and the most quoted narrator in the isnad of many ahadits.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) spent only three years in the company of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and went on expeditions and journeys with him.  It is estimated that he narrated around 5,375 ahadits.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) is one of the major trustworthy narrators of hadits.  He was an ascetic and one of the earliest of the Ahl as-Swuffah.  His memory was a miracle because of the du’a of Rasulullah (s.a.w.).

"I was a poor man, and used to stick to Allah's Apostle contented with what will fill my stomach, and the Muhajirin used to be busy trading in the markets, and the Answar used to be busy looking after their properties.  One day I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'Who will spread his rida' (a garment covering the upper body) until I finished my speech and then fold it, in which case he will never forget anything he had heard from me?’  So I spread my garment which I was wearing; and by Him Who sent Muhammad with the Truth, ever since, I have never forgotten whatever I heard from him."

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) was born in Baha’, Yemen into the Banu Daws from the region of Tihamah on the coast of the Red Sea.  His father had passed away, leaving him with only his mother and no other relatives.  His name at birth was ‘Abd ash-Shams before his conversion to Islam.  However, as a child, he had a cat and became known as ‘Abu Hurayrah’ which literally means ‘Father of the Kitten’.  After embracing Islam, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) looked after the mosque and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  He made it a regular habit to give the leftover food to the wandering cats.  Gradually the number of cats around the mosque increased.  He loved to caress and play with them.

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) embraced Islam through Tufayl ibn ‘Amr, the chieftain of his tribe.  Tufayl had returned to his village after meeting the Prophet (s.a.w.) and had become a Muslim in the early years of his mission.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) was one of the first to respond to his call, unlike the majority of Tufayl's tribesmen.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) accompanied Tufayl to Makkah to meet Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) who renamed him ‘Abd ar-Rahman, ‘Slave of the Merciful’ since his birth name, ‘Abd ash-Shams, Slave of the Sun’ was not an appropriate name for a Muslim.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) then returned to his tribe for several years.

In 629 CE, he went to Madina with some others from his tribe.  Since Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was absent at the Battle of Khaybar, he stayed in the  mosque.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), with other Muslims, suffered from hunger when the Muslims were poor in Madina.

“When I was afflicted with severe hunger, I would go to a companion of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and asked him about an ayah of the Qur'an and stay with him learning it so that he would take me with him to his house and give food.  One day, my hunger became so severe that I placed a stone on my stomach.  I then sat down in the path of the companions.  Abu Bakr passed by and I asked him about an ayah of the Book of Allah.  I only asked him so that he would invite me but he did not.  Then ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab passed by me and I asked him about an ayah but he also did not invite me.  Then Rasulullah (s.a.w.) passed by and realised that I was hungry and said: ‘Abu Hurayrah.’

‘At your command’, I replied and followed him until we entered his house.

He found a bowl of milk and asked his family: ‘From where did you get this?’

‘Someone sent it to you’, they replied.

He then said to me, ‘O Abu Hurayrah, go to the Ahl as-Swuffah and invite them.’”

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) did as he was told and they all drank from the milk.  It did not look like much, only a glass of milk but they all drank their fill and Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) finished the rest.

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) then spent one year and ten months with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in Madina, before the Prophet's (s.a.w.) passing on 8th June 632 CE.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) passed away in 681 CE or 59 AH at the age of 78 and was buried at Jannah al-Baqi'.

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) loved the Prophet (s.a.w.) a great deal and found much favour with him.  He never tired at looking at the Prophet (s.a.w.) whose face appeared to him as having all the radiance of the sun and he was never tired of listening to him.  Often he would praise Allah (s.w.t.) for his good fortune and say, “Praise be to Allah Who has Guided Abu Hurayrah to Islam.  Praise be to God Who has Taught Abu Hurayrah the Qur’an.  Praise be to God who has Bestowed on Abu Hurayrah the companionship of Muhammad (s.a.w.)."

The life of Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) also contains many demonstrations of his love and devotion to his mother.  When he first embraced Islam, no amount of pleading could convince his mother to do the same.  His mother, Maymunah bint Subayh (r.a.) who was still a polytheist, was with him. He prayed for her to become a Muslim, but she refused.  One day, he again invited his mother to Islam.  She answered with some bad words about the Prophet (s.a.w.).  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) went to the Prophet (s.a.w.) with tears in his eyes.  “Why are you crying, Abu Hurayrah?” asked the Prophet (s.a.w.).

“I always invite my mother to Islam, and she always refuses,” said Abu Hurayrah (r.a.).  “I asked her again today but she said some things about you that made me sad.  Can you pray to Allah for her to turn to Islam?”

The Prophet prayed for Abu Hurayrah’s (r.a.) mother to accept Islam.  When Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) went home, he found the door closed.  He heard the splashing of water.  He tried to enter the house, but his mother said, “Wait a minute.  Don’t come in yet.”  Then she got dressed and said, “You can come in now.”  When Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) went inside, his mother said, “I declare that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.”

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) again went to the Prophet (s.a.w.) crying.  But this time his tears were tears of joy.  “I have good news, Rasulullah,” he said.  “Allah has Answered your du’a and Guided my mother to Islam.”

Throughout his life, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) remained kind and courteous to his mother.  Whenever he wanted to leave home, he would stand at the door of her room and say, “Assalamu’Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

She would reply, “Wa’Alaykum as-Salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.”

He would also say, “May Allah have Mercy on you as you cared for me when I was small,” to which she would reply, “May Allah have Mercy on you as you delivered me from error when I was old.”

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) always encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents.  One day he saw two men walking together and enquired of the younger one, “Who is this man to you?” to which the young man replied, “He is my father”.  Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) advised him, “Do not call him by his name, do not walk in front of him, and do not seat yourself before he does”.

This gentleness and affection between Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) and his mother teaches us that mutual respect and love is a duty.  A Muslim is obliged to show respect towards parents even if they are non-Muslim, and the greatest love he can show towards them is to du’a to Allah (s.w.t.) in hope that they will be Guided to Islam.  At the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), many of those who embraced Islam found that it conflicted with the beliefs and requests of their parents, but they were taught to be kind and to obey their parents, except if the parents demanded they disobey Allah (s.w.t.).

"But if they strive to make the join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration) and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the End the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did." (Surah Luqman:15)


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