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Find your Role Model in the Sahabah

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By Ramy Noaman

In the Name of Allāh, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
May Allāh send His peace and blessings upon His final Messenger, and upon his family and companions.

Because of the comprehensive culmination of their unique yet coexistent personalities, the Ṣaḥābah were the greatest generation in human history. While the Prophets and Messengers of Allāh were more beloved by Him, higher ranking in Jannah, and more pure in their īmān (faith), they did not all live during the same period to form a single generation. The companions of Muhammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who are the highest caliber believers after the Prophets, lived together in the same lifetime as the Messenger of Allah (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), enabling them to be the greatest generation.

“The best people are those living in my generation, and then those who will follow them, and then those who will follow the latter…” Sahih Bukhāri

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But they were not all identical to one another. They did not all have the same exact personalities, backgrounds, mindsets, outlooks, and tastes. They were all unique in their own way, but were united upon Islam and its implementation. The fact that they were different was a mercy of Allāh to this Ummah, and the reason is simple. Had all of the Ṣaḥābah been identical, or even remarkably similar, then there would be no point in taking them all as role models. Rather, taking any of them would suffice, and no need would even exist to study them individually.

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Their individuality is critical to our Ummah because we, as Muslims, are not all the same. When we see how they differed, we are able to take distinct lessons from each of them. We learn from the experiences of some, and acquire various understandings of the different areas of Islam in which creative thinking is permitted. Allāh and His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) have declared their pleasure and satisfaction with the Ṣaḥābah, and in order to attain our highest objective, there is no generation more deserving of our admiration and humility than them.

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was ideally balanced in every way, but the Ṣaḥābah typically had elements of their personalities which stood out and identified them. These were the areas in which they were most known for and specialized in.

For example, Abu Bakr was known for being the most well-rounded of the Ṣaḥābah. He had the most īmān and was the first grown man to believe in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that if weighed, the īmān of Abu Bakr would outweigh the rest of the Ummah. He was the most knowledgeable, and was the closest companion of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He excelled in every form of worship, and was therefore known as “As-Sabbaaq” – meaning the one who wins in every competition. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab one time famously donated half of his wealth to fund the Battle of Tabuk, hoping to outdo Abu Bakr, only to find that Abu Bakr donated his entire fortune. When asked by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) what he had left for his family, Abu Bakr replied, “I left for them Allāh and His Messenger!”

‘Umar b. Al-Khaṭṭāb was known for his power, and praiseworthy might. He used his vigorous strength, bold intellect, and far-sighted wisdom for the sake of Islam and for the empowerment of Muslims. The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) titled him as “Al- Faruq”—the Criterion between good and evil. If there was anyone known for bringing strength to the Ummah, it was ‘Umar. When the Muslims were making Hijrah (migration) from Makkah to Madīnah, all but ‘Umar would perform it in secret, for fear of oppression. When his time came, he strapped his sword around his neck, marched to the Ka’abah in broad daylight, and performed ṭawāf. He then stood up and announced, “I am about to make Hijrah to Madīnah. Whoever wants their mothers to be bereft of their son, their wives to be widowed, and their children to be orphaned, then meet me behind this mountain at such time.” The Ṣaḥābah said that no one dared to meet ‘Umar except the fools of Makkah, and he taught them all very valuable lessons before he sent them back home.

‘Ā’ishah was known for her scholarly mind and her well-developed wisdom driven by her youthful curiosity. She was the young wife of Rasul Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the daughter of his best companion, Abu Bakr. Out of her curiosity, she would ask a plethora of questions, which made her a priceless resource for knowledge and rulings. More than 2,000 hadith narrations trace back to her, ranking her amongst the highest hadith narrators. Due to her vast knowledge, she was a primary source for Ijtihad, or determining what is Halal or Haram based on evidences from Qur’an and Sunnah. Since she lived long after the death of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), she was able to teach the Muslims their religion for many years before she returned to Allāh.

When it came to business and making money, the first of the Ṣaḥābah to come to mind is ‘Abdur-Raḥmān ibn Auf. He was known as the man of golden fingers. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold, as money poured in from any business of the businesses he invested in. He would spend vast fortunes in the way of Allāh. At the time of his death, he owned an astonishing 1 billion dīnār of purely Ḥalāl wealth. It was so much that part of it was divided amongst every living member of the Ṣaḥābah who participated in the Battle of Badr.

These are just a few examples of the greatness we can learn from the Companions of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). One may say that our best example is the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), so why should we look beyond him as role models? The answer is that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was the greatest of all examples for us to follow, and no Muslim can deny this. However, that does not mean that we cannot follow those who he has taught directly as well.

In fact, by following the Ṣaḥābah, we are following the Prophet Muhammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), because they did not learn the religion from anyone other than him. Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah arrived at our hands through their transmission, so they were the ones who most deeply understood the revelations after Allāh and His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The Ṣaḥābah were present at the exact time of revelation, and were often the triggers for why parts of Islam were revealed when they were. Not only that, but if there were any questions, they would turn directly to the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to clarify. The Ṣaḥābah therefore had a greater, and more complete depth of understanding of the Deen than anyone who came after them. For these reasons, among many others, we take them as our role models.

May Allāh send his peace and blessings upon his final Prophet, and be pleased with all of his companions. All praise is due to Allāh.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Altaf

    January 2, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Allah is the greatest.

  2. Avatar

    Abu Ahmad

    January 2, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Assalaamu Alaikum! Masha’Allah, the Sahabah were true icons for us and they were indeed unique role models for us. My personal favorite is Abu Bakr because he was truly the best. He was As-Siddeeq! How about everyone else? Who’s your favorite Sahabi

  3. Avatar

    Nahyan

    January 2, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Excellent article.

    Studying the lives of the companions opens one’s mind to the range of strengths (and weaknesses) a person can have, without being a limiting factor to practice Islam at their best level.

    An example is with their levels of knowledge; even being a companion, they asked the more knowledgeable for advice/answer. Like when Abu Musa al Ashari looking for ibn Mas’ood to correct the group doing group-dhikr with stones, etc.

  4. Avatar

    Umm Sulaim

    January 3, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    The female Sahaba stand out in sharp contrast to what women today think of themselves, as if women did not exist in the time of the Prophet.

    My name gives away the Sahaba.

    Umm Sulaim

  5. Avatar

    Nuraini

    January 3, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    Mine is probably Saidina Ali, as he is surely the quintessential philosopher-warrior, who has command over his emotions and decides things based on what is best holistically. Second would be Khalid al-Walid, as an example of what it looks like for a strategic mind to be a Muslim mind.

  6. Avatar

    Teaching Kids the Holy Quran using toys

    January 3, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    While being inspired by all Sahabis, my personal inspiration is Ali (peace be upon him) who was not only brave and daring, as well as tough and heroic, but also knowledgeable, humble and intelligent (Brawn and brain).

    I think the encouragement to follow Sahabas is because while being part of the greatest generation, they also had faults (just like any human) so it makes us relate to them more easily.

  7. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    January 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Great read!

  8. Avatar

    Junaid

    January 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Is there a good resource that talks about the life about Abdur Rahman ibn Auf in English?

  9. Avatar

    Olivia

    January 3, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Out of curiousity, is anyone aware of any fatawa regarding writing Islamic historical fiction?

  10. Avatar

    Seyed Ibrahim

    January 4, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    One of the best quotes i have read about role models: Considering the billions of people who have inhabited the earth, the list of role models is relatively short: The top three are the Messenger, Abu Bakr and Umar (May Allah be pleased with them all). That was from Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallaabee

    When i read ‘Umar Ibn Khattaab’s biography, i realized how the ummah is missing out its role models. Here is a brief (in bullet points) post on Judiciary in ‘Umar’s time

  11. Pingback: Judiciary in an ancient empire. Can you identify its leader? « Social. Political. Economic. Religious | Seyed Ibrahim

  12. Avatar

    charles

    November 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    i will lick all day

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#Current Affairs

COVID19: Calling The Conscientious

Violating borders, scaling every wall and traveling faster than a rumor, COVID19 is now around nearly everywhere. It has reduced nations and societies, low and mighty, to their knees, demoted all preoccupations to insignificance and is threatening to torch everyone in its path.

The imperial hubris of nations, with and without nuclear weapons has crumbled. Mighty militaries have been reduced to mere spectators. Borders are closed. Markets have tumbled. Even the gods amongst humans – rulers, monarchs, dictators, religious heads, generals, billionaires, movie stars, icons of sports and music –have been forced to recede from the limelight. Neither they are in control nor can they perform. All of them are forced to surrender by an unseen microscopic speck with an insatiable appetite to devour humankind, bit-by-bit, part by part.

A pre-COVID19 world is now a blurred memory. It was not long ago that we were a different planet and a different people. Neither hand-sanitizers nor masks were precious enough to purchase let alone hoard, or even think about. YouTube was popular but not so much for videos on how to wash hands or what to do when self-quarantined. And, shaking hands were a norm and we used to respond with a “bless you” to our neighbor’s cough or sneeze.

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That was pre-COVID19.

Places of worship are already shut down and airports, train stations and shipping ports are shutting down. Boulevards and avenues are eerily silent. Shopping malls and theaters stand abandoned.

This is post-COVID19.

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Yet, there are flashes of hope and inspiration. Medical professionals and health care workers are fighting to save mankind, a patient a time. Our ill equipped and fatigued hospitals are abodes of our new heroes and true patriots. And no less are trash collectors, grocery workers, truck drivers, postal workers, fruit pickers among others whom we took for granted all along.

Covid-19 is not just the biggest story of our time, it is the only story.

Amidst a piercing cacophony of politicians’ press conferences and public interest advisories, we cannot afford to miss out the soft whispers of COVID19.

It is telling us to pay more attention to the under-estimated meaningful over the hyper-marketed mundane. Its whispers remind us to remember that we are but a mere mortal. We are reminded in the Quran that God made us from a mere speck (40:67).

Not, too long ago, we seldom had to remind ourselves that we are human. Not too long ago we could afford to be enemies of ourselves. Humans were enemies of humans, fighting and taking life of those considered ‘others’. We fostered division … “them” and “us,” “citizens” and “illegals.” COVID19 has spoken: no more. We stoked exclusion … “black, brown and white,” “conservative and liberal,” and “urban and rural.” COVID19 has spoken: no more.

In its sweeping trail of destruction, COVID19, is imploring us — harness my power to cause dread in each one of you, across borders, across genders, across races — and unite. COVID19 is challenging us: find a common cause against me. When any of you find an antidote against me, may that be a reason for your coming together, even if right now I have forced you to stay away from each other – six feet part.

COVID19 is an equal opportunity and a non-discriminating enemy, which will kill no matter how we worship, what we eat, where we live. One touch strikes all with equal precision.

Today, as we face an existential threat from a mortal molecular foe, we must remind ourselves about what matters most, our humanity and not our race and nationality.

The truth is that long before COVID19 struck us, we were sick. We spread viruses; hate and bigotry, we held thoughts of xenophobia for those who did not deserve it. We wallowed in bias and built echo chambers. COVID19 exposed all of our pre-COVID19 shortcomings.

Coronavirus will kill us for a while, but then in the end, we will overpower it. But before that happens, all the human deaths would be in vain if we don’t realize that in a world of such threats, we never needed to have been at each other’s throats.

In fear and panic, people resort to extreme behavior, it amazes us with their capacity for wisdom and kindness, or stupidity and cruelty. COVID19 is beseeching us to reclaim and regain our humanity of compassion and kindness. It is telling us to come together to fight our common battles. It is forcing us to wash our hands of all sins of our past and then lock our hearts and hands and build a world where meaning must matter more than the mundane.

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#Islam

Benefiting From The Majesty Of Divine Will | Thirteen Points In Making The Best Of The Situation

In the Name of God most Merciful Most Compassionate

Peace Be Upon Prophet Mohammad, His Family, Companions and Brothers. Ameen

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“God will never punish them while they are seeking forgiveness” (al-Anfāl, 8:33)

As we observe imposed isolation or social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus that has disrupted life as we know it, maintaining and elevating our faith becomes both a necessity and a great opportunity. The awakened believer is the one who never excludes the hand of God in everything that happens in the world–good or bad. We ask Allah Almighty to show us kindness and mercy in everything that He decrees for us.

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“And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us]. (42) Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing. (43) So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every [good] thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were [then] in despair. (44)” (al-An’ām, 6:42-44)

Now is the time of seeking forgiveness and repenting to Allah. Now is the time we seek the counsel of our rich tradition in how to deal with collective and universal calamities and hardship. The awakened believer looks at what Allah brings about in His universe with a Divine Light and resists the calls of ignorance and heedlessness in any form they appear.

From the pure well of Prophetic guidance we draw thirteen beautiful, practical, and spiritual counsels:

The pandemic that is frightening everyone is the creation of Allah released by His Power for reasons He only knows. Losing sight of this basic fact is a sign of the blindness of our inner eyes. And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allah and high above what they associate with Him. (Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:68)

1. When the Masjids are closed and Jumu’ah is suspended and the Honored Ka’bah and the Prophetic Mosque are emptied and there is rampant panic, the guided believer rushes to Istighfār. Let’s repeat and teach our children and households one of these Prophetic expressions of seeking forgiveness:

 Astaghfirullāh wa Atūbu ilayhi, at least 100 times a day. (Muslim)

أَسْتَغفِرُ اللهَ وَ أَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ

or

 Rabbī Ighfir Lī wa Tub ‘alayya Innaka Anta Attawābu ArRahīm, at least 100 times a  day. ( Al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah)

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي، وَتُبْ عَلَيَّ، إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرحيم 

The Best time for Istighfār is before Fajr.

Let’s be among those who seek the forgiveness before dawn that God praised in the Qur’ān:

“Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,” the patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.” (Āl-‘Imrān, 3:17)

2. Pray two Rak’āt of repentance often throughout the day.

3. Make our living spaces spiritual abodes by designating a place in the house as a Muṣallā. This is a forgotten Sunnah that the companions of the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, established. Let’s revive this Sunnah in our homes.

4. Perform prayers at the beginning of the time in congregation with an Adhān and Iqāma (assign our children to do so). If we can’t pray together while we are all quarantined in our houses then we surely have a bigger problem than coronavirus.

5. Stay after the prayers in your place and make Du’ā’ and Istighfār.

6. Don’t miss any Sunnah prayers before or after the obligatory prayers.

  • Make it a habit to pray Ḍuḥā prayer after sunrise or by midmorning as 2, 4, 6, or 8 Raka’āt.
  • The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, used to say that the prayer of Ḍuḥā is the prayer of the Awwābīn (repenters). (Muslim, Ibn Abī Shaybah, al-Ḥākim, Ibn Khuzaymah).
  • 4 Raka’at before Dhụhr and 2 after. 2 Raka’āt before Aṣr. 2 Before Maghrib and 6 after. 2 before Ishā’ and 4 after.
  • Make your Witr a Prophetic Witr: 11 Raka’āt before Fajr. If you can’t wake up, then pray it after Ishā’.

7. Read the Qur’ān every day even if just for 15 minutes.

8. Constant Dhikr and remembrance of Allah Ta’ālā with all kind of expressions while giving precedence to the expression of Tawḥīd لا إله إلا الله   since it is the best expression of Dhikr as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said. (Al-Tirmidhī)

9. Be a good subordinate and adhere to your community’s collective decisions and experts regarding gatherings, Jamā’ah prayers, Jumu’ah, social distancing, and cleanliness. Our recalcitrance and selfishness sometimes appears in a religious form. At times of hardship going against the consensus is spiritually damaging even when we realize that we might be partially right. Not all debates have to be won.

من أطاع الأمير فقد أطاعني 

Whoever obeys the leader has indeed obeyed me.” (Muslim, al-Bukhārī)

10. The best among us are those who are the best to their spouses. Spending more time with each other should add to our compassion and respect for each other. Let us understand that   everyone going through this situation is experiencing a level of anxiety that might affect their normal behavior. Many of us are not used to staying at home for such a long period. Let this be an opportunity to connect with each other and strengthen the bonds of the family. Let’s Fear The Thieves !! (See point 12.)

11. Attend at least one of the online events that your community is offering even if you know everything that is known about the religion. Showing the sentiments of solidarity by attending these events encourages those who spend time preparing and sacrificing their time to continue their Da’wah work that is necessary for the community.

12. Fear the thieves for yourselves and your loved ones: None of the suggestions above will bear any fruit in advancing our cause with Allah and in bringing us towards a genuine reconciliation with ourselves if we spend all day with WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and such. In the digital wasteland and on our phones or glued to the TV all day, sharing and re-sharing nonsense makes us lost, nonsensical and trivial people. The last thing we want to find ourselves doing is spreading forgetfulness and heedlessness under the guise of spreading useful information.

Let’s not readily and voluntarily enlist as the agents of Shaytan at the time we have to be servants of God. Think before you send anything shared with you because you will be asked about it. One post a day is too much for those who are busy with all the obligations we all have. By now, everything that needs to be known about the epidemic has probably reached all corners of the globe. Let’s be wary of succumbing to the appeals of our lower selves or nafs and finding ourselves losing this great opportunity with Allah. The same advice goes for our children as it is a great opportunity for them to be creative in how they constructively spend their leisure time.

13. Give in charity, no matter how small, to your local and national Muslim organizations who might be going through difficulty meeting the needs of those who have lost their wages due to the freezing of the economy. This is both a pandemic and an economic crisis and sadaqa is our spiritual remedy to financial matters.

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Imam Mohamed Magid Fighting Anti-Semitism on CNN

Imam Mohamed Magid joined a group of Muslim leaders from around the world to visit the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Auschwitz consisted of over 40 concentration and extermination camps run by Nazi Germany during World War II and the Holocaust where more than a million people massacred by the Third Reich during World War II.

Imams from all over the world including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, India, Palestine, Turkey, the United States, and other countries came together to pray for the victims of the Holocaust. The visit also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army in 1945.

Mohamed Magid, the President of the Islamic Society of North America said that the stories behind the camp were very touching and the world should condemn antisemitism before adding, “What can I say? I am speechless.”

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The visit to the Auschwitz Memorial is part of a memorandum of understanding signed between the Muslim World League and the American Jewish Committee to educate the Muslim clergy about the Holocaust.

Constructed in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1940, more than 1.1 million people were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp – 1 million of which were Jews. Imam Mohamed Magid also made news last year when he spoke at a Trump event. He explained his logic for speaking at the event by referring to the example of Prophet Muhammad (saw), saying that, “he used to speak to people who disagreed with him, people who spoke ill of him, and he engaged them. And I do believe that in order for people to understand who we are, we have to engage with them.”

In previous years, Imam Magid was joined by other American imams including Yasir Qadhi, a Houston-born Imam who earned his PhD from Yale University and is currently the Dean of Academic Affairs for TISA (The Islamic Seminary of America). The tragic events of 9/11 caused him to return to the United States, in order to, as he puts it, ‘…build bridges of understanding between Americans and Muslims.’

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