Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Great Sahabah from Esfahan


We saw the oldest fire worshipping temple in Esfahan. Magians or majusi or Zorostrian is among the oldest religion in Iran. When Islam came, most people became Muslim except in the area of Yazd where people still practise this religion.

We cannot pass by the city of Esfahan without narrating the story of one of the greatest sahabahs - Salman al Farsi. When I first heard this hadith my heart swelled so much to learn the journey of one who seeks the truth.

Here goes..

Ibn Abbass RA once asked Salman al-Farsi RA about his story and Salman narrated his story to him.

I grew up in the town of Isfahan in Persia in the village of Jayyan. My father was the Dihqan or chief of the village. He was the richest person there and had the biggest house.

Since I was a child my father loved me, more than he loved any other. As time went by his love for me became so strong and overpowering that he feared to lose me or have anything happen to me. So he kept me at home, a veritable prisoner, in the same way that young girls were kept.

I became devoted to the Magian religion so much so that I attained the position of custodian of the fire which we worshipped. My duty was to see that the flames of the fire remained burning and that it did not go out for a single hour, day or night.

My father had a vast estate which yielded an abundant supply of crops. He himself looked after the estate and the harvest. One day he was very busy with his duties as dihqan in the village and he said to me:

“My son, as you see, I am too busy to go out to the estate now. Go and look after matters there for me today.”

On my way to the estate, I passed a Christian church and the voices at prayer attracted my attention. I did not know anything about Christianity or about the followers of any other religion throughout the time my father kept me in the house away from people. When I heard the voices of the Christians I entered the church to see what they were doing.

I was impressed by their manner of praying and felt drawn to their religion. “By God,” I said, “this is better than ours. I shall not leave them until the sun sets.”

I asked and was told that the Christian religion originated in Ash-Sham (Greater Syria). I did not go to my father’s estate that day and at night, I returned home.

My father met me and asked what I had done. I told him about my meeting with the Christians and how I was impressed by their religion. He was dismayed and said:

“My son, there is nothing good in that religion. Your religion and the religion of your forefathers is better.”

“No, their religion is better than ours,” I insisted.

My father became upset and afraid that I would leave our religion. So he kept me locked up in the house and put a chain on my feet. I managed however to send a message to the Christians asking them to inform me of any caravan going to Syria. Before long they got in touch with me and told me that a caravan was headed for Syria. I managed to unfetter myself and in disguise accompanied the caravan to Syria.

There, I asked who was the leading person in the Christian religion and was directed to the bishop of the church. I went up to him and said:

“I want to become a Christian and would like to attach myself to your service, learn from you and pray with you.”

The bishop agreed and I entered the church in his service. I soon found out, however, that the man was corrupt. He would order his followers to give money in charity while holding out the promise of blessings to them. When they gave anything to spend in the way of God, however, he would hoard it for himself and not give anything to the poor or needy. In this way he amassed a vast quantity of gold. When the bishop died and the Christians gathered to bury him, I told them of his corrupt practices and, at their request, showed them where he kept their donations. When they saw the large jars filled with gold and silver they said.

“By God, we shall not bury him.” They nailed him on a cross and threw stones at him. I continued in the service of the person who replaced him. The new bishop was an ascetic who longed for the Hereafter and engaged in worship day and night. I was greatly devoted to him and spent a long time in his company.

It was not long before they found a man to replace him. I stayed with him, and found that there was none more ascetic than he, or more desirous of the Hereafter There wan none more persistent then he in worship, day and night. I formed a great affection for him, and lived with him for a long time. When he was on his deathbed, I asked him”

“Who do you recommend me to, and who do you advise me to go after you are gone?”

“‘Son,’ he said,’I know of nobody who lives as I did, except for a man in al Mawsil, his name is so and so, and he has not deviated or changed. Go to him.”
“So when the companion died, I went to the man in al mawsil. When I arrived, I presented myself to him, and told him my story. I said:
“My companion recommended, before he died, that I go to you, because you practice the correct way of life.”He answered: ‘Stay with me.’ So I lived with him, and found him to be a virtuous person. After a while, he also died. Before his death, I said to him: The time ordained for you by Allah has come, and you know my story. tell me, to whom do you recommend me?”
“Son,” he said,”the only man I know who lives as we have lived is in Nassibayn, and his name is so-and-so. Go to him.”

“After he had been buried, I went to his friend in Nassibayn, and told him my story, and how my companion in Mwsil had commended him to me. he told me to stay with him, and I found him to be as virtuous as his two companions. It was not long before he, too, died. When he was on his deathbed, i asked him to whom I should go. he told me that the only worthy person whom he knew lived in Ammuriyah.

“So I went to him, and managed to earn, while living with him, some cattle and wealth. he did not live long, either. As he lay on his deathbed, he said: Son I know of none alive who still holds on to the way of life that we have practiced. But the time is coming for a prophet to appear from among the arabs. he will be sent with the religion of Abraham, and will migrate from his land to a land of date palms betweent two bare mountains. There will be signs by which he can recognised. he will eat from something given as a gift, but not from charity. between his shoulder blades will be a ring indicating the seal of prophecy. If you are able to travel to those lands, go and join him.”

A group of Arab leaders from the Kalb tribe passed through Ammuriyah and I asked them to take me with them to the land of the Arabs in return for whatever money I had. They agreed and I paid them. When we reached Wadi al-Qura (a place between Madinah and Syria), they broke their agreement and sold me to a Jew.

I worked as a servant for him but eventually he sold me to a nephew of his belonging to the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. This nephew took me with him to Yathrib, the city of palm groves, which is how the Christian at Ammuriyah had described it.

At that time the Prophet was inviting his people in Makkah to Islam but I did not hear anything about him then because of the harsh duties which slavery imposed upon me.

When the Prophet reached Yathrib after his hijrah from Makkah, I was in fact at the top of a palm tree belonging to my master doing some work. My master was sitting under the tree. A nephew of his came up and said:

“May God declare war on the Aws and the Khazraj (the two main Arab tribes of Yathrib). By God, they are now gathering at Quba to meet a man who has today come from Makkah and who claims he is a Prophet.”

I felt hot flushes as soon as I heard these words and I began to shiver so violently that I was afraid that I might fall on my master. I quickly got down from the tree and spoke to my master’s nephew.

“What did you say? Repeat the news for me.”

My master was very angry and gave me a terrible blow. “What does this matter to you’? Go back to what you were doing,” he shouted.

That evening, I took some dates that I had gathered and went to the place where the Prophet had alighted. I went up to him and said:

“I have heard that you are a righteous man and that you have companions with you who are strangers and are in need. Here is something from me as sadaqah. I see that you are more deserving of it than others.” The Prophet ordered his companions to eat but he himself did not eat of it.

I gathered some more dates and when the Prophet left Quba for Madinah I went to him and said: “I noticed that you did not eat of the sadaqah I gave. This however is a gift for you.” Of this gift of dates, both he and his companions ate.

That confirmed one of the signs told to Salman al-Farsi RA. He then went back. Then Salman brought food again and told the food that he gave last time was for charity this is now as a gift, this time the prophet ate the food with the companions.

Then Salman al-Farsi RA went to Muhammad SAWS and went around him and the prophet noticed that Salman was looking for something so the Prophet took off the cloth to show him what is between his shoulder blades.

When Salman saw the mark between his shoulders, he knew it was the Seal of Prophet hood, and Salman RA said when he saw it fell down in tears and began to kiss the prophets feet and made sujudd to him. Rasulullah SAWS immediately told him to stand up and asked Salman his story, and then told him to tell his companions the same story.

May Allah grant peace to Salman al farsi.

Perhaps you like to listen to audio lecture by Anwar Awlaki.


Darth Trust said...

I did a double take. My first was "A great Sabahan from Esfahan"

keh keh keh

mamarawks said...

Owh what a great story. That shows how committed Salman Al Farsi to seek the truth.

Thanks for sharing this.

papabear said...

what a story!