Thursday, 24 May 2007

If and when you are wealthy, be like Abdur-Rahman bin Auf RA...

My eyes cannot stop to water when I compiled this. But here you go...

Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA was one of the first eight persons to accept Islam. Abdur-Rahman RA embraced Islam before the Prophet SAW entered the house of Al-Arqam. In fact it is said that he accepted Islam only two days after Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA did so.

He was one of the ten persons (Al-Asharatul-Mubasharah) who Rasulullah SAW assured of entering Paradise even when he was alive. He was one of the six persons chosen by Umar RA to form the council of shura to choose the Khalifah after his death.

During the days of ignorance, Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA's name was Abu Amr. But when he accepted Islam the Noble Prophet called him "Abdur-Rahman" - "The Servant of the Beneficent".

Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA did not escape the punishment which the early Muslims suffered at the hands of the Quraysh. He bore this punishment with steadfastness, patience and perseverance as the other Muslims did. He remained firm in his faith. And when they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia because of the continuous and unbearable persecution, Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA also went. He returned to Makkah when it was rumoured that conditions for the Muslims had improved, bun when these rumours proved to be false, he left again for Abyssinia for the second hijrah to Abyssinia. Then, from Makkah, once again he made the Hijrah to Madinah.

Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet SAW in his unique manner began pairing off the Muhajirin and the Ansar. This established a firm bond of brotherhood and served to strengthen the social cohesion and ease the destitution of the Muhajirin. Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA was linked by the Prophet with Sa'd ibn Ar-Rabi'ah RA. Sa'd RA in the spirit of generosity and magnanimity with which the Ansar greeted the Muhajirin, said to Abdur-Rahman RA:

"My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See which of the two orchards you like and I shall vacate it for you and which of my two wives is pleasing to you and I will divorce her for you."

Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA must have been embarrassed and said in reply:

"May Allah bless you in your family and your wealth. But just show me where the suq (market-place) is."

Abdur-Rahman RA went to the market-place and began trading with whatever little resources he had. He bought and sold and his profits grew rapidly. Soon he was sufficiently well off and was able to get married. He went to the noble Prophet SAW with the scent of perfume lingering over him.

"Mahyam, O Abdur-Rahman!" - exclaimed the Prophet SAW - "mahyam" being a word of Yemeni origin which indicates pleasant surprise.

"I have gotten married" - replied Abdur-Rahman RA.

"And what did you give your wife as mahr?" - asked the Prophet Muhammad SAW.

"The weight of a nuwat in gold." - he responded.

"You must have a walimah (wedding feast) even if it is with a single sheep. And may Allah bless you in your wealth" - said the Prophet SAW with obvious pleasure and encouragement.

Thereafter Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA grew so accustomed to business success that he said if he lifted a stone he expected to find gold or silver under it!

Abdur-Rahman RA distinguished himself in both the battles of Badr and Uhud. At Uhud he remained strong throughout and suffered more than twenty wounds, some of them deep and severe. On top of this, his physical jihad was matched by his jihad with his wealth.

Once the Prophet SAW was preparing to despatch an expeditionary force. He summoned his Companions RA and said:

"Contribute sadaqah for I want to despatch an expedition."

Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA went to his house and quickly returned.

"O Messenger of Allah, I have four thousand (dinars). I give two thousand as a qard to my Lord and two thousand I leave for my family. " - he said.

When the Prophet SAW decided to send an expedition for Tabuk - this was the last ghazwah (battle) of his life (SAW) that he mounted; and his need for finance and material was not greater than his need for men, for the Byzantine forces were a numerous and well-equipped foe. That year in Madinah was one of drought and hardship. The journey to Tabuk was long, more that a thousand kilometers. Provisions were in short supply. Transport was at a premium so much so that a group of Muslims came to the Prophet SAW pleading to go wit h him but he had to turn them away because he could find no transport for them. These men were sad and dejected and came to be known as the Bakka'in or the Weepers and the army itself was called the Army of Hardship ('Usrah).

Thereupon the Prophet SAW called upon his Companions RA to give generously for the effort in the path of Allah and assured them that they would be rewarded. The Muslims' response to the Prophet SAW's call was immediate and generous. In the forefront of those who responded was Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA. He donated two hundred uqiyyah of gold whereupon Umar ibn al-Khattab RA said to the Prophet SAW:

"I have (now) seen Abdur-Rahman committing a wrong. He has not left anything for his family."

"Have you left anything for your family, Abdur-Rahman?" - asked the Prophet SAW.

"Yes" - replied Abdur-Rahman RA.

"I have left for them more than what I give and better." - he said.

"How much?" - enquired the Prophet Muhammad SAW.

"What Allah and His Messenger have promised of sustenance, goodness and reward" - replied Abdur-Rahman RA.

The Muslim army eventually left for Tabuk. There Abdur-Rahman RA was blessed with an honour which was not conferred on anyone till then. The time of Solat came and the Prophet SAW was not there at the time. The Muslims chose Abdur-Rahman RA as their Imam. The first raka'at of the Solat was almost completed when the Prophet SAW joined the worshippers and performed the Solat behind Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA. Could there be a greater honour conferred on anyone than to have been given this privilege?

When the Prophet Muhammad SAW passed away, Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family, the Ummahaat al-Muminin. He would go with them wherever they wanted to and he even performed Hajj with them to ensure that all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet SAW's family.

Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf's support for the Muslims and the Prophet SAW's wives in particular was well-known. Once he sold a piece of land for forty thousand dinars and he distributed the entire amount among the Banu Zahrah (the relatives of the Prophet SAW's mother Aminah), the poor among the Muslims and the Prophet SAW's wives. When Aishah RA received some of this money she asked:

"Who has sent this money?"

When she was told that it was Abdur-Rahman RA, she said:

"Rasulullah SAW said: No one will feel compassion towards you after I die except the Sabirin (those who are patient and resolute)."

The prayer of the Noble Prophet SAW i.e. that Allah should bestow barakah on the wealth of Abdur-Rahman RA appeared to be with Abdur-Rahman RA throughout his life. He became the richest man among the Companions of the Prophet SAW. His business transactions invariably met with success and his wealth continued to grow. His trading caravans to and from Madinah grew larger and larger bringing to the people of Madinah - wheat, flour, butter, cloths, utensils, perfume and whatever else that was needed and exporting whatever surplus produce they had.

One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard coming from beyond the boundaries of Madinah, which was normally a calm and peaceful city. The rumbling sound gradually increased in volume. In addition, clouds of dust and sand were stirred up and blown in the wind. The peo ple of Madinah soon realised that a mighty caravan was entering the city. They stood in amazement as seven hundred camels laden with goods moved into the city and crowded the streets. There was much shouting and excitement as people called to one another to come out and witness the sight and see what goods and sustenance the camel caravan had brought.

Aishah RA, heard the commotion and asked:

"What is this that's happening in Madinah?"

Someone told her

"It is the caravan of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA which has come from Syria bearing his merchandise."

"A caravan making all this commotion?" - Aishah RA asked in disbelief.

"Yes, O Umm-ul-Muminin. There are seven hundred camels." - was the response.

Aishah RA shook her head and gazed in the distance as if she was trying to recall some scene or utterance of the past; and then she said:

"I have heard Rasulullah SAW say: I have seen Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf entering Paradise creeping."

Thus people were astounded by this remark. Why creeping? Why should he not enter Paradise leaping and at a quick pace with the early Companions of the Prophet SAW?

Some friends of his related to Abdur-Rahman bin Awf RA the hadith which Aishah had mentioned. Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA remembered that he had heard the Hadith more than once from the Prophet SAW. He then hurried to the house of Aishah RA and said to her:

"Yaa Ammah! (Mother) Have you heard that from Rasulullah SAW? - Abdur-Rahman RA asked Aishah RA.

"Yes" - replied Aishah RA.

"You have reminded me of a Hadith which I have never forgotten" - remarked Abdur-Rahman RA.

Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA is also reported to have been so overjoyed and added:

"If I could, I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing. I swear to you, yaa Ammah, that this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will giver Sabilillah (in the path of Allah)."

And so he did.

In a great festival of charity and righteousness, he distributed all that the massive caravan had brought to the people of Madinah and surrounding areas.

This is just one incident which showed what type of man Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA was.

He earned so much wealth but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and he did not allow it to corrupt him.

Abdur-Rahmanibn Awf RA's generosity did not stop there.

He continued giving with both his hands, secretly and openly. Some of the figures mentioned are truly astounding:

- forty thousand dirhams of silver,

- forty thousand dinars of gold,

- two hundred uqiyyah of gold,

- five hundred horses to the mujahidin setting out in the path of Allah,

- one thousand five hundred camels to another group of mujahidin,

- four hundred dinars of gold to the survivors of Badr

- a large legacy to the Ummahat-ul-Mu'minin

...and the catalogue goes on.

On account of this fabulous generosity, Aishah RA also said:

"May Allah give him to drink from the water of Salsabil (a spring in Paradise)."

All this wealth did not corrupt Abdur-Rahman in Awf RA and did not change him. When he was among his workers and assistants, people could not distinguish him from them. One day food was brought to him with which to end a fast.

He looked at the food and said:

"Musab ibn Umayr (RA) has been killed. He was better than me. We did not find anything of his to shroud him with except what covered his head but left his legs uncovered. Then Allah endowed us with the (bounties of) the world. I really fear that our rewards has been bestowed on us early (in this world)." - He began to cry and sob and could not eat.

May Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA be granted felicity among those who are mentioned in the Qur'an:

"Those who spend their substance in the cause of Allah and follow up not their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury. For them their reward is with their Lord, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve". (The Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 262)

Ameen - Ameen - Ameen.

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