Monday, June 13, 2011

The Seeker of the Truth

Qadr Allah, I bumped into some hadith that I read to Sya today concerning a story of a man who seeks for the truth. Qadr Allah the timing of the story was most apt.

The story today, my friends, is about ZAYD bin 'AMR bin NUFAYL.

Zayd bin 'Amr bin Nufayl stood at a distance from the crowds watching the Qurays as they celebrated one of their festivals. He saw the men with their heads wrapped in turbans of teh finest silk, struting along in costly Yemeni cloaks. he could also see the women and children in gaily coloured robes and exquisite jewelry. he looked at the livestocks being driven by the wealthy people, who had even decorated their animals before bringing them to be slaughtered before the idols.

Zayd stood with his back against the wall of the Kaa'bah and said:
"People of Quraysh! the sheep are created by Allah. He brings down rain for them so that they can drink, He brings forth the grass in the pasture so that they can eat their fill, and then you slaughter them, but not in His name. What an ignorant people you are!"

His uncle, al Khattab, father of 'Umar b al Khattab, came forth, slapped him, and said, "May you perish! We have heard this foolish talk from you and tolerated it long enough. Our patience has come to an end."

Then al Khattab called upon some of the cruder members of his tribe, and incited them to assault Zayd. They attacked him, and were so determined in their attempts to harm him that he fled Makkah and took refuge in the mountain of Hira'

Zayd met up with Waraqah bin Nawfal, Abdullah in Jahsh, Uthman al harith and Umayyah bin Adul Muttalib. They discussed how teh arabs strayed into polytheism and Zayd said to his companions, "I swear by Allah, you know that your people are in error, and that they have deviated from the religion of Abaraham and gone against it. if you wish for salvation, you must find for yourselves a religion that you can believe in."

The four men went to scholars of the jewish and the hristian faiths, as well as others, seeking the pure religion of Abraham. Waraqah bin Nawfal became a Christian. Abdullah bin Jahsh and Uthman bin al Harith found nothing which satisfies them. Asfor Zayd bin Amr bin Nufayl, he had a story.

"I studied Judaism and Christianity, but turned away from them, because I found they did not satisfy me. I traveled far and wide, seeking the faith of Abraham, until I reached Syria. Then I heard of a monk who had knowledge of the scriptures, so I sought him out and told my story. he said to me,
"I see that you seek the religion of Abraham, O brother from Makkah."
"Yes," I answered.
He told me, "You are searching for a religion which does not exist today. return to your country, for Allah is going to send a prophet from your own people who will revive the religion of Abaraham. If you are still alive, then commit yourself to it."

Zayd hastily headed back towards makkah, in search of the promised prophet. While Zayd was still traveling, Allah began to send revelation of truth and guidance to His Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasalam. Zayd never reached him, for he was attacked by a band of highway on the road to Makkah. As he breathed his last, Zayd realised that he would never have the joy of seeing the Messenger of Allah, he prayed,

"O Allah! If you must deprive me of this blessing, do not deprive my son Sa'id."

It was the will of Allah to answer the supplication of Zayd, for as soon as the prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam began to call people to Islam, Said bin Zayd was one of the first people to believe in Allah and the message of His Prophet. It came as no surprise to others, fo Sa'id had grown up in a family which rejected the deviation of teh Quraysh. Sa'id has been raised by a father who had spent his life searching for truth, and had died running after the truth.

Zayd b Nufayl was not alone among the Arabs. There were a few others like him who worshipped Allah alone, followed the way of the Messengers, and eschewed the ways of polytheism. Likewise, there were still some Jews and Christians who remained steadfast on their religion.

All of those people were strangers in their times, living in a world of confusion, contradiction, and division. Indeed, Zayd's own uncle, Khattab ibn Nufayl, was one of his main tormentors, despising him for not worshipping his tribes idols or eating the meat that they slaughtered.

He also never participated in killing girls during the time when it is most common practice among the quraysh.

This is one of my favourite stories of a seeker of the truth.

While we are at awe of their steadfastness of their natural disposition (fitrah), how do we handle ourselves when we are already handed the truth in a silver platter?

Portraits - from the Lives of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad - Adul rahman al basha

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:

The Prophet met Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl in the bottom of (the valley of) Baldah before any Divine Inspiration came to the Prophet. A meal was presented to the Prophet but he refused to eat from it. (Then it was presented to Zayd) who said, "I do not eat anything which you slaughter in the name of your stone idols. I eat none but those things on which Allah's Name has been mentioned at the time of slaughtering."

Zayd bin `Amr used to criticize the way Quraish used to slaughter their animals, and used to say, "Allah has created the sheep and He has sent the water for it from the sky, and He has grown the grass for it from the earth; yet you slaughter it in other than the Name of Allah." He used to say so, for he rejected that practice and considered it as something abominable.

Narrated Ibn 'Umar:

Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl went to Sham, inquiring about a true religion to follow. He met a Jewish religious scholar and asked him about their religion. He said, "I intend to embrace your religion, so tell me some thing about it." The Jew said, "You will not embrace our religion unless you receive your share of Allah's Anger."

Zayd said, "'I do not run except from Allah's Anger, and I will never bear a bit of it if I have the power to avoid it. Can you tell me of some other religion?" He said, "I do not know any other religion except the Hanif."

Zayd enquired, "What is Hanif?" He said, "Hanif is the religion of (the prophet) Abraham who was neither a Jew nor a Christian, and he used to worship None but Allah (Alone)."

Then Zayd went out and met a Christian religious scholar and told him the same as before. The Christian said, "You will not embrace our religion unless you get a share of Allah's Curse."

Zayd replied, "I do not run except from Allah's Curse, and I will never bear any of Allah's Curse and His Anger if I have the power to avoid them. Will you tell me of some other religion?" He replied, "I do not know any other religion except Hanif."

Zayd enquired, "What is Hanif?" He replied, Hanif is the religion of (the prophet) Abraham who was neither a Jew nor a Christian and he used to worship None but Allah (Alone)."

When Zayd heard their Statement about (the religion of) Abraham, he left that place, and when he came out, he raised both his hands and said, "O Allah! I make You my Witness that I am on the religion of Abraham."

Narrated Asma bint Abi Bakr:

I saw Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl standing with his back against the Ka'ba and saying, "O people of Quraish! By Allah, none amongst you is on the religion of Abraham except me." He used to preserve the lives of little girls: If somebody wanted to kill his daughter he would say to him, "Do not kill her for I will feed her on your behalf." So he would take her, and when she grew up nicely, he would say to her father, "Now if you want her, I will give her to you, and if you wish, I will feed her on your behalf."

~ Sahih Bukhari

From 'Aa'ishah radhiallahu `anha that the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, "I entered Paradise and I saw that Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl had two levels." [Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer, 3/141, no.3362 . Ibn 'Asaakir]


Listen to audio about Zayd bin Amr bin Nufayl. About the first 8 minutes is about him. The rest are other relevant seeker of truth Waraqah bin Nawfal and Salman al Farsi.

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