Abu Dharr al-Ghifari is honored by Islam

The Everlasting Light of Islam (PBUH) continued to secretly enfold and capture hearts. The first Muslims were trying their best to learn about and live in accordance with the Divine cause with the fullest sincerity in their hearts.

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had not yet announced his cause openly; however, despite this, there were those from many places outside of Mecca who had received news on the awaited appearance of the Last Prophet (PBUH). One of these individuals was Abu Zarr who belonged to the Ghifar Tribe.

During the Age of Ignorance, Abu Zarr despised idol worship. He had been searching for the truth for many years and was a distinguished poet among the Arabs. At first, upon hearing the news, he told Unais, who was his brother and a better poet than him, “All right, go to the person who has appeared in Mecca. Meet him and then inform me of whatever you learn about him” so that he could determine whether or not this person was the Luminous Guide he had been searching for.

Upon his brother’s instructions, Unais went to Mecca, spoke with our Holy Prophet (PBUH), and then returned.

Abu Zarr asked, “What news did you bring? And what does the community say about him?”

Unais replied, “The person I saw recommends the community to do good unto others, to refrain from committing harm, and has excellent manners.” Then, he continued:

“The people say that he is “a poet, a soothsayer, and a magician.” However, I have heard the sayings of soothsayers before and what he says is by no means the words of a soothsayer. I have compared what he has said to all sorts of poems and I did not find any similarities between them. His words go beyond and completely differ from poetry. From now on, it is not fitting for anyone to call him a poet. In brief, I swear that Muhammad (PBUH) is loyal. Those who attempt to make various allegations against him are the liars themselves.” (1)

Abu Zarr said to his brother, “You did not provide me with much news to comfort me. Yet I have to go and see him for myself.”

Unais warned him, “Go, but watch out for the Meccan community since they have formed an enemy front line against Muhammad.”

Afterwards, Abu Zarr set off on his journey with a staff in his hands, a waterskin on his back, and a leather pouch that was filled with his provisions. He crossed the desert and went straight to the Kaaba upon reaching Mecca. He searched for Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) but could not find him since he did not know nor recognize him. He did not dare to ask anyone and did not deem it suitable to do so since his brother had said there was a severe struggle between the polytheists and the Muslims in Mecca and the Muslims were living in a very critical time period.

He did not have any choice but to stay in the Masjid al-Haram; so that was what he did; and he overcame his hunger by drinking Zamzam water.

At one point, Hazrat Ali saw him crouching over in a corner in the Masjid al-Haram. When he passed by him, Hazrat Ali said to himself, “I believe this man has come from a faraway place” to which Abu Zarr replied, “Yes, I have come from afar.”

“Come, let us go to our home” said Hazrat Ali, and took Abu Zarr to his home as a guest. They both behaved cautiously and with discretion; and for that reason they spent the night without opening up to one another.

When the morning came, Abu Zarr went to the Masjid al-Haram again to ask about and look for our Holy Prophet (PBUH). However, he was once again unable to receive any information regarding our Master (PBUH) from anyone.

And once again, Hazrat Ali went by his side while Abu Zarr hopelessly waited in a corner and said out loud to himself, “Has the time not come to learn where this poor man is headed?” When Abu Zarr heard this, he replied, “No…”

In response to his answer and in the same manner as before, Hazrat Ali said, “In that case, let us go home” and took Abu Zarr to his home as a guest.

This time, they opened up to one another. At first, Hazrat Ali asked, “Why and from where did you come?”

“If you promise to keep it a secret, then I will explain,” responded Abu Zarr.

When Hazrat Ali replied, “You can be sure of that”, Abu Zarr disclosed his true purpose: “I am from the Ghifar clan. I heard that an individual who has announced that he is a prophet has risen from here. I want to meet him; that is why I came.”

Hazrat Ali understood his sincerity, “You made the right decision by telling me. I am now going to the Messenger (PBUH). Follow me and go in from where I enter. If I see someone on the road whom I fear will harm you, then I will stop by a wall as if I am about to straighten my shoe. In that situation, do not wait for me and continue walking.”

They left Hazrat Ali’s home. Hazrat Ali was in the front and Abu Zarr was following him from behind. They were able to reach the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) presence without having to face any abnormal circumstances.

Abu Zarr said, “Peace be Upon You, O Allah’s Apostle.” (2)

After our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “May the Compassion of Allah be upon you”, he asked, “Who are you?”

Abu Zarr replied, “I am from the Ghifar Tribe.”

“How long have you been here?” asked the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

“I have been here for three days and three nights”, answered Abu Zarr.

“Who is feeding you?”

“The zamzam water was my only food. I put on some weight and I did not feel any thirst or hunger.”

Upon this, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered, “The zamzam is a holy and filling food.”

Then, Abu Zarr said, “Oh Allah’s Apostle, tell me about Islam.”

When our Holy Prophet (PBUH) defined Islam, Abu Zarr immediately recited the shahada (testimony of faith) and became a Muslim. (3)

He declared that he became a Muslim

The piece of advice that our Holy Prophet (PBUH), who never let down his guard and never threw his caution to the wind, offered Hazrat Abu Zarr, who had now been honored through his conversion, was:

“O Abu Zarr, for now, keep this a secret and return to your homeland. Come back when you hear that we have openly made our announcement.”

Hazrat Abu Zarr, who was now enthusiastic and excited, replied, “O Allah’s Apostle, I swear by Allah Who has sent you as a Prophet of Truth that I am going to openly declare my faith here in front of the polytheists.” Then, he stood up and ran straight to the Kaaba where he fearlessly shouted before the polytheists: O the Community of Quraysh! I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger!”

This brave exclamation infuriated the polytheists. They all descended upon him at once and beat him until he fainted. They would have killed him if Hazrat Abbas, who had not converted to Islam at the time, had not come and explained that Hazrat Abu Zarr belonged to the Ghifar Tribe which controlled the trade route to Damascus!

However, Hazrat Abu Zarr was not intimidated by this intense attack since his faith gave him the courage and passion. On the second day, he fearlessly shouted about Allah’s oneness and His existence and that Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) was His Messenger before the polytheists in the same manner and at the same place. Once again, he was subjected to the polytheists’ heavy blows and Hazrat Abbas intervened: “Shame on you all! Do you want to kill someone from the Ghifar Tribe? Do you not know that they are to be found on your trade route?” By saying these words, he was able to save Hazrat Abu Zarr from the polytheists’ merciless blows. (4)

After this incident, Hazrat Abu Zarr returned to his homeland so that he could invite his clan and tribe to the true religion and he remained there until the sixth year of the Hijra (migration). For this reason, he did not join the Battles of Badr, Uhud, and Khandaq. Nonetheless, he did not separate from our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) side in the battles that were to follow.

[1] Ibn Sa’d, Tabakat, V. 4, p. 224; Muslim, Sahih, V. 7, p. 153-154.

[2] The first person to utter that kind of greeting in Islam is Abu Dharr.

[3] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 4, p. 224-225; Muslim, Sahih, V. 7, p. 153-154.

[4] Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 4. p. 255.

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