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Sympathy And Self Sacrifice

The Sahabah, as a class, were an embodiment of righteousness. They attained a standard that is rather difficult to emulate in a modern society. We would be fortunate if we really attain even a partial resemblance to their character. Some of their qualities are peculiarly their own, and self sacrifice is one of these. Allah has made a mention of this in the Holy Quran in these words.

1. Feeding the guest in darkness.

A Sahabi came to the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) and complained of hunger and distress. Just then, the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) had nothing in hand, or in his home to feed him. He asked the Sahabah, "Would anybody entertain him as a guest tonight on my behalf?"

One of the Ansaar said, "Oh Prophet of Allah, I will do that."

The Ansari took the person to his house and instructed his wife, "Look here, this man is a guest of the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam). We will entertain him as best as we can, and won't spare anything in doing so."

The wife replied, "By Allah! I have got no food in the house, except a very little, something just enough for the children."

The Ansari said, "You lull the children to sleep without feeding them, while I sit with the guest over the meager meal. When we start eating, put out the lamp pretending to set it right, so that the guest may not become aware of my not sharing the meal with him."

The scheme worked out nicely, and the whole family, including the children, stayed hungry to enable the guest to eat to his fill. It was over this incident that Allah revealed the verse:


"They prefer others above themselves, even though poverty become their lot." (LIX:9)

There are quite a number of similar incidents about the Sahabah.

2. Feeding a fasting Sahabi.

One of the Sahabah was keeping fast after fast, as he could not get anything to eat. Hadhrat Thabit (Radhiyallaho Anho) came to know of this. He told his wife, "I shall bring a guest tonight. When we sit at the meal, put out the lamp, pretending to set it right, and you are not to eat anything until the guest has taken his fill."

The scheme worked out as in the last story. The husband and wife sat with the guest and the simple soul never suspected in the least that neither of them had partaken at all of the food, though their hands and jaws seemed to be moving all right.

When Hadhrat Thabit (Radhiyallaho Anho) repaired to the Prophet's (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) presence next morning, he was greeted with the happy news, "Oh Thabit! Allah has very much appreciated your entertainment of the guest last night."

3. Overpayment of Zakaat.

Hadhrat Ubay bin Kaab (Radhiyallaho Anho) says:

The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) once deputed me to collect Zakaat dues from a locality. I went to a person there, and asked about the details of his possessions. A baby camel one year old was due from him in Zakaat. When he heard this, he exclaimed, "Of what use is a baby camel, one year old? You can neither milk it, nor ride it. Here is a fine grownup she-camel. You had better take this instead."

I replied, "My commission does not permit me to take more than what is actually due from you. I therefore cannot accept what you offer. The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) is visiting this locality, and tonight he will be camping at a place not very far from here. It is better you should go and place your offer before him. If he does not object, I would gladly accept your ooffer, otherwise you shal have to give me exactly what is due from you."

Thereupon he took the she-camel to the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) and besought him, "Oh Prophet of Allah! Your deputy came to receive Zakaat from me. By Allah, before this time I have never had the honor of paying anything to the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) or his deputy. I therefore placed everything that I possessed before him. He decided that a baby camel one year old was due from me. Now, oh Prophet of Allah! This baby camel is of no use. It can neither yield milk nor carry a load. I therefore pressed him to accept a fine grownup she-camel instead, which he refused to accept without your permission. I have now come to you with the she-camel."

The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) observed, No doubt only that much is due from you which he has worked out, but if you are willing to give more than that, of your own accord, it would be accepted."

I then accepted the she-camel from him, and presented it to the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), which he accordingly accepted and sought Allah's blessings for the donor.

Look, with what magnanimity of heart the Sahabah parted with their best things for the sake of Allah. On the other hand, we too claim to be the true followers of Islam, and ardent devotees of the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) but, leaving apart the bestowing of alms in general to the poor and the needy, we are most reluctant to pay the actual obligatory dues. Zakaat, as a pillar of Islam, is not even known to our upper classes.

Of the middle classes, only the religiously conscious strata keep up a form of paying Zakaat, in as much as even the expenditure incurred on their own relatives and acquaintances, and all other charitable donations squeezed out of them by the force of circumstances and face-savings are debited to this account.

4. Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu Anho) trying to emulate Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu Anho).

Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho Anho) narrates:

Once the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) asked for contributions in the path of Allah. In those days, I was in possession of some wealth. I mused thus, "Time and again Abu Bakr (Radhiyallaho Anho) has surpassed me in spending for the sake of Allah. I shall by the Grace of Allah surpass him this time, because I have just now some wealth with me to spend."

I went home buoyant with the idea. I divided my whole property into two exact equal parts. One I left for my family, and with the other I gave to the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), who accosted me.

The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), "Did you leave anything for your family Umar?"

I, Umar (Radhiyallaho Anho), "Yes oh Prophet of Allah."

The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), "How much?"

I, Umar (Radhiyallaho Anho), "Exactly one half."

By and by, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radhiyallaho Anho) came along with his load. It transpired that he had brought everything that he possessed.

The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), "What did you leave for your family, Abu Bakr?"

Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radhiyallaho Anho), "I have left Allah and his Prophet for them."

Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho Anho) says that on that day he admitted to himself that he could never hope to surpass Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radhiyallaho Anho).

Allah says in his Holy Book, "Vie one with another in good works." (V:48). Such healthy emulation in sacrifice is therefore quite desirable and welcome. This incident happened at the time of Tabuk, when the Sahabah in response to the Prophet's (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) appeal for help contributed beyond their means. This has already been mentioned in Chapter 3. May Allah grant them best rewards on behalf of all the Muslims.


May Allah grant them best rewards on behalf of all the Muslims.

5. Sahabah expiring thirsty for others.

Hadhrat Abu Jahm bin Huzaifah (Radhiyallaho Anho) narrates:

During the battle of Yarmuk, I went out in search of my cousin, who was in the forefront of the fight. I also took some water with me for him. I found him in the very thick of battle in the last throes of death. I advanced to help him with the little water I had. But soon another sorely wounded soldier beside him gave a groan, and my cousin averted his face, and beckoned me to take the water to that person first.

I went to this other person with the water. He turned out to be Hishaam bin Abul Aas (Radhiyallaho Anho). But I had hardly reached him, when there was heard the groan of yet another person lying not very far off. Hishaam (Radhiyallaho Anho) too motioned me in his direction.

Alas, before I could approach him, he had breathed his last. I made all haste back to Hishaam and found him passed away as well. Thereupon, I hurried as fast as I could to my cousin, and in the meantime he had also joined the other two.


(To Allah we belong and to Allah we will return.) "

Many an incident of such self denial and heroic sacrifice is recorded in the books of Hadith. This is the last word in self sacrifice, that each expiring person should forego slaking his own thirst in favor of his other needy brother. May Allah bless their souls with His choicest favors for their sacrifice for others even at the time of expiring, when a person has seldom the sense to make a choice.

6. Hadhrat Hamzah's (Radhiyallaho Anho) shroud.

The Prophet's (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) dear uncle, and one of his earliest supporters, Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiallaho Anho) fell in Uhud, and the ruthless enemy brutally cut off his nose, ears and vitals. He was ripped open, and his heart, lungs and liver were torn out. The whole body was thoroughly mutilated. While the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) was making arrangements for the burial of the dead, he caught sight of Hadhrat Hamzah's (Radhiyallaho Anho) body, and was shocked to find it in that condition. He covered the body with a sheet of cloth. Presently, Hadhrat Hamzah's (Radhiyallaho Anho) sister Safiyyah (Radhiyallaho Anha) also came to see her martyred brother for the last time. The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) feared that the sight might be too much for her to bear. He bade her son Hadhrat Zubair (Radhiyallaho Anho) to dissuade her from seeing the body.

She however replied, "Yes, I have heard that the wretches have mutilated my dear brother's body. It is in the way of Allah, and we should be resigned to it. I will bear all this patiently, and may Allah in His Grace have mercy on us all."

Hadhrat Zubair (Radhiyallaho Anho) informed the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) of his mother's resolve, and he gave his assent to her seeing the body. When she beheld what they had done to it, she simply exclaimed, "Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajioon (We belong to Allah, and to Him we return)", and offered a prayer for his soul.

In another Hadith, Hadhrat Zubair (Radhiyallaho Anho) himself narrates the incident. He says:

We made out a woman drawing near the place where the martyrs of Uhud had been gathered, On her close approach, I recognised her to be my own mother, I advanced to stop her, but she proved to be too strong for me.

She thrust me aside, with the words, "Leave me alone."

When I told her that the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) had prohibited her from seeing the dead body, she at once desisted from her purpose and explained, "Hearing the news of my brother's death, I have brought a couple of sheets. Take these sheets and make use of them."

We took the sheets and had begun to enshroud the body, when the dead body of an Ansari named Hadhrat Suhail (Radhiyallaho Anho) caught our eyes. It was also lying close by in the same condition. We considered it a shame to enshroud Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiyallaho Anho) in two sheets, while the body of another Muslim brother lay bare. We therefore decided to use one sheet each for the two bodies.

One sheet was bigger than the other, so we drew lots, and the bigger sheet came to the lot of Hadhrat Suhail (Radhiyallaho Anho) and the smaller one to that of Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiyallaho Anho). We found that the sheet meant for Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiyallaho Anho), being too small, would not cover his body. If we covered the head the feet remained uncovered, and when we pulled it down to cover the feet, the head was exposed.

The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) said, "Cover the head with the sheet, and the feet with tree leaves."

This is how the body of Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiyallaho Anho), the dear uncle of him (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) who wore the crown of perfection, was buried. Look at the spirit of the Sahabah, who could not tolerate Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiyallaho Anho) being enshrouded in two sheets and another Muslim brother remaining without a shroud at all. Again, although Hadhrat Hamzah (Radhiyallaho Anho) deserved preferential treatment due to his exalted position, his body was covered with a smaller sheet that had fallen to his lot. Can there be a better example of sympathy, equality and self sacrifice? Is it not shameful on our part that we, who call ourselves the followers of these illustrious people, do not possess any of these qualities?






"They prefer others above themselves, even though poverty become their lot." (LIX:9)


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