The Leader of Opposition and an Enemy of Wealth
Cheerfully and happily did he turn toward Makkah. Indeed, the difficulty of his journey and the hard, burning desert sand made him suffer pain. However/ the goal he was striving to reach made him forget his pain and filled his soul with joy and delight.
He entered Makkah disguised as one of those who came to circumambulate the great idols of the Sacred House of the Ka’bah or as a passer-by who had lost his way or who had travelled far and sought provision and shelter.
If the inhabitants of Makkah knew that he had come to search for Muhammad (PBUH) and to listen to him, they would cut him into pieces. He did not fear being cut up piece by piece, but not before meeting the person he had crossed the hot burning deserts to see and for whose sake afterwards he was willing to risk his life because he believed in him and was convinced of his honesty and the truth of his message.
He went about secretly gathering information and whenever he heard someone speaking about Muhammad (PBUH), he carefully approached him until he was finally able to compile all the scattered pieces of information which he had heard here and there. Finally, he was guided to the place where he was able to see Muhammad (PBUH).
One morning he went there and found the Prophet (PBUH) sitting alone. He approached him and said, “O my Arab brother, good morning.” Thereupon the Prophet replied, “And may peace be upon you, my brother.” Abu Dhar then said, “Sing to me some of what you are saying.” The Prophet (PBUH) answered, “It isn’t a poem to be sung, but a Holy Qur’aan.” Abu Dhar said, “Then recite for me.”
The Prophet (PBUH) recited to him while he listened. It was not long until Abu Dhar shouted, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Prophet (PBUH) and Messenger.” The Prophet (PBUH) asked him, “Where are you from, my Arab brother?” Abu Dhar answered, “From Ghifaar.” A broad smile appeared on the Prophet’s lips (PBUH) and his face was filled with wonder and astonishment.
However, Abu Dhar was also smiling, for he knew well that the reason behind the Prophet’s astonishment was because the man who had just embraced Islam in front of him was from Ghifaar. Ghifaar was a tribe with a notorious reputation for highway robbery. Its people were famous for theft and were known as allies of darkness and night. Woe to him who fell into their hands on a dark night!
Was it possible that one of them would embrace Islam while it was still a new, secret religion?
Narrating the story himself, Abu Dhar said: The Prophet (PBUH) lifted his eyes out of astonishment, due to Ghifaar’s reputation. Then he said, “Allah guides whom He wills.” Indeed, Allah guides whom He wills.
Abu Dhar (May Allah be pleased with him) was one of those whom Allah wanted to be rightly guided and for whom He wanted the best. His insight Was always directed towards truth.
It has been narrated that he worshiped Allah during the period of Jaahiliyah, which means that he revolted against the worship of idols and turned towards the belief in One Great Creator.
Therefore, he had hardly heard about the appearance of a prophet rejecting idols and their worship and calling to the worship of Allah, the One/the Sublime, the Vanquisher, when he immediately set out and quickened his steps to meet this new Messenger of Allah (PBUH).
Immediately/ without hesitation, he embraced Islam. His order among the converts was fifth or sixth, which means that he converted during the first days, if not the first hours, of Islam. His conversion was indeed very early.
When he embraced Islam the Prophet (PBUH) was till secretly whispering the call to Islam to himself and to the five who believed in him. Abu Dhar could not do anything except carry his faith within his heart, secretly leaving Makkah and returning to his people.
However, Abu Dhar – his real name was Jundub Ibn Janaadah – had a restless and agitated temper. He had been created to revolt against falsehood wherever it existed. Now he saw falsehood with his own eyes as lifeless rocks piled upon each other. The birth of their worship was long before his existence: minds and foreheads bowed down in front of them and people calling to them saying, “At your service, at your service!”
It is true that he saw the Prophet’s preference to whisper in those days, but he wished that a loud shout declaring Islam publicly be made by the venerable and honourable followers before his departure.
Immediately after embracing Islam, he turned to the Prophet (PBUH) with the following question: “0 Messenger of Allah, what is it that you order me?” The Prophet (PBUH) replied, “Go back to your kin until my order reaches you.” Abu Dhar said, “In the name of the One Who owns my soul between His hands, I am not going back until I cry out loudly declaring Islam within the mosque!”
Did I not tell you? His temper was restless and agitated. At the same moment when Abu Dhar discovered a totally new world, a wonderful new world represented by the Prophet (PBUH) whom he believed in and by the call which he became acquainted with by the Prophet’s tongue, at that same moment he was asked to return silently to his kin. Wag, that possible? It was beyond his ability.
Hereupon, he entered the Sacred House and cried out as loud as he could/ “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger!”
As far as we know, it was the first public pronouncement declaring Islam and challenging the arrogance of the Quraish which reached their ears. It was cried out by a stranger who did not have any relatives, reputation or protection in Makkah.
He acted out of his own dedication and courage even though he knew what was going to happen. He was surrounded by the polytheists, who hit him till he fell down.
This news reached Al ‘Abbaas, the Prophet’s uncle. He came quickly but could not rescue Abu Dhar except by a clever trick. Thus he told them, “0 you Quraish! You are merchants and your route crosses over Ghifaar and this man here is one of their tribesmen. Beware/ he may incite his kin against you/ provoking them to rob your caravans while passing by.” They came back to their senses and left him alone.
Having tasted the sweetness of being hurt in the cause of Allah, Abu Dhar did not want to leave Makkah without being given more.
So, on the next day, or perhaps on the same day, Abu Dhar encountered two women circling around two idols (Usaaf and Naa’ilah) and calling upon them. He stood in front of them rudely disgracing their idols. The women shouted loudly, and men hastened as fast as lightening/ immediately hitting him until he fell down unconscious.
When he regained consciousness he shouted again that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is His Messenger.
i The Prophet (PBUH) realised the nature of his new disciple and his amazing ability to encounter falsehood. However, the time for public declaration of the message had not yet come, so again he ordered Abu Dhar to go back to his kin and whenever he heard the announcement of the new religion, he would play his role.
Abu Dhar returned to his kin and tribe, telling them about the Prophet (PBUH) who called people to worship only Allah and who guided them to noble manners. His people embraced Islam one by one. Bani Ghifaar alone did not suffice him; he turned to Bani Aslim, to spread his lights there.
Time passed and the Prophet (PBUH) emigrated to Al-Madinah and there, together with Muslims, he settled down.
One day the city welcomed long lines of people on horseback and on foot. Their feet made a great noise. Were it not for their loud shout “Allah is the Greatest”, the viewer would have thought it was an attacking polytheist army. The great parade approached and entered Al-Madinah. Their destination was the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque. The parade consisted of two tribes, Bani Ghifaar and Bani Aslim. Abu Dhar made them come as Muslims, all of them: men, women, elderly, youth, and even the children!
No doubt, the Prophet’s wonder and astonishment increased. In the distant past he had been very astonished when he witnessed one of the tribe of Ghifaar announce his embracement of Islam, and he had expressed on that day his wonder saying, “Allah guides whom He wills.”
But now, the whole tribe had come after already becoming Muslim. It had lived several years under the banner of Islam since Allah guided it by means of Abu Dhar. Now it had come together with Bani Aslim.
The former allies of the devil, the notorious highwaymen, had become the allies of truth and great men of good deeds.
Is it not true that Allah guides whom He pleases? The Prophet (PBUH) looked at their kind faces with eyes full of joy, tenderness, and love. He looked at Bani Ghifaar and said, “May Allah forgive Ghifaar.” Then he turned to Bani Aslim and said, “May Allah make peace with Aslim.”
Abu Dhar, this magnificent propagator of Islam who was obstinate, unyielding, and difficult to be defeated: was the Prophet (PBUH) not going to salute him with a special greeting?
Indeed, his reward was going to be abundant and his greeting blessed. He was going to carry on his chest- but also his history was going to carry – the highest, most honourable, and most respectable medals. Generations and centuries will pass away, but the Prophet’s opinion about Abu Dhar will always stay alive in people’s memory:
“The earth never carried above it, nor did the sky ever shade under it a more truthful tongue than Abu Dhar’s”.
The Prophet (PBUH) determined his Companion’s future and summed up his whole life in those simple words.
Bold and daring truthfulness was the essence of Abu Dhar’s whole life. Truthfulness of his inner soul as well as his appearance. Truthfulness of his faith as well as his tongue. All his life he was truthful. Neither deceiving himself or anyone else, nor allowing anyone to deceive him.
His truthfulness was not mute merit. According to Abu Dhar, truthfulness is never silent. Truthfulness is equivalent to openness and publicity, publicity of truth and challenge to falsehood, support of right and refutation of wrong. Truthfulness is a reasonable ally to truth and a courageous expression of it; both quicken their pace.
The Prophet (PBUH) could see with his unmistaken insight- across remote distances and the far unknown future – all the different difficulties Abu Dhar had to face due to his truthfulness and firmness. He therefore was always ordering him to let patience and deliberateness be his manner.
The Prophet once asked him, “0 Abu Dhar! What would you do if you witnessed a time when commanders monopolize the war booty?” He replied, “I swear by Allah Who sent you with the truth, I would strike them with my sword!” The Prophet (PBUH) said to him, “Shall I guide you to what is better? Be patient till you meet me.”
Why did the Prophet (PBUH) ask him this specific question? Commanders, money? It was the cause Abu Dhar was going to devote his life to and the problem he was to encounter with society in the future.
The Prophet (PBUH) knew it; therefore he asked him this question in order to provide him with this precious advice: “Be patient till you meet me.”
Abu Dhar kept his teacher and Prophet’s instruction unforgotten.
Therefore, he did not carry a sword against those commanders who enriched themselves by taking what was the public money. But also, he did not keep silent, and he did not let them rest.
Indeed, although the Prophet (PBUH) had forbidden him to carry his sword against them, he did not forbid him to carry a sharp truthful tongue. And that is what he did.
The era of the Prophet (PBUH) and of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar passed with its complete transcendence over all worldly temptations. Even the tempted desirous and greedy souls could not find a paved and open way for their devious desires. In those days there were no deviations to be opposed loudly by Abu Dhar’s sharp words. As long as the Commander of the Faithful ‘Umar lived, Muslim governors, rulers, and even the wealthy, were forced to live a humble, modest, aesthetic and just life, almost beyond human capacity. No governor of the Caliph, whether in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, or anywhere else in the region, could ever eat a kind of sweet unaffordable by ordinary people without such a piece of information soon reaching ‘Vmav, who would immediately order that governor to return to Al-Madiinah, where he would face a severe punishment.
Therefore, Abu Dhar lived without trouble and happily, with much inward peace, as long as “Umar was Commander of the Faithful. Nothing ever annoyed Abu Dhar more than the abuse of power and the monopoly of wealth. “Umar’s firm control over power and his fair distribution of wealth allowed him tranquility and satisfaction.
It was because of this that he was able to devote himself to Allah’s worship and Jihaad in the cause of Allah, never keeping silent if any infringement was seen here or there, which rarely happened.
However, the greatest, most just and most magnificent ruler that human beings were ever to experience left our world one day, leaving behind a tremendous gap, causing inevitable reactions beyond human expectations.
The Islamic campaigns continued, thus bringing under control more regions. At the same time, desires and longing for ambition to enjoy the comforts and luxury of life started to float to the surface. In these events, Abu Dhar saw the impending danger. The banners of personal glory were about to tempt those whose role in life was to lift the standard of Allah. Life with its false embellishments and its wild arrogance was about to tempt those whose role was to make out of life a plantation of good deeds.
Money – created by Allah to be obedient to His servants for the benefit of mankind – was about to turn into a tyrant master. A master of whom? The Prophet’s Companions.
The Prophet (PBUH) died with a pawned shield, although piles of war booty were under his service. The excellence of the earth – created by Allah for all human beings and with their rights upon it mutually corresponding – was about to turn into a monopoly and privilege.
Power – a responsibility that pious people tremble at when thinking about its horrible charge in the Hereafter – turned into a means of authority, wealth, and destructive luxury.
Abu Dhar realized all that. He did not search for his duties or responsibilities, but rather took his sword, waved it in the air and set out to face his society with his unbeatable sword. But soon the echo of the Prophet’s (PBUH) advice struck his heart, so he returned it to its scabbard. He remembered the Prophet (PBUH) had said he should not lift it in the face of a Muslim.
“It is not lawful for a believer to kill another believer except by error”
(4 : 92).
His role was not to fight but to oppose. The sword was not a means of change and reformation, but the truthful, sincere, and brave word was. The fair word does not lose its path, and its consequences are not terrifying. The Prophet (PBUH) once said, while surrounded by his Companions, that the earth never carried above it, nor did the sky ever shade a more truthful tongue than Abu Dhar’s.
Why should someone who owns such a truthful tongue and truthful conviction need a sword?
A single word by him hit the target more than uncountable swords. Therefore, Abu Dhar was to encounter all the governors, the wealthy, and all those who worshipped the worldly life and relied upon it, thereby representing an even greater danger to the religion which came to be a guide, not a tax collector; prophethood, not dominion; mercy, not afflication; humbleness, not superiority; equality, not differentiation; satisfaction, not greed; sufficiency, not luxury and a life of ease full of temptation, with this life the only goal.
So Abu Dhar went out to face all those challenges, and Allah will judge truthfully between him and them, and Allah is the Most Just of Judges.
Abu Dhar went out to the strongholds of power and wealth, attacking them one after the other. Within a short time he became the standard around which the labourers of Islam and the masses gathered. Even in the remote districts where people had not yet met him, word about him got around and he became well known until he hardly passed through a land in which his name had not reached the ears of some of the people and without crucial questions being raised which threatened the welfare and worldly interests of the powerful and wealthy.
If this honorable, rebellious Companion was to select an appropriate standard for himself and his movement, he would not find a better one than an iron, a glowing, hot, and flaming iron. Thus he turned the following words into his chant and earnest appeal, repeating them every time and every place he went. People repeated them after him as if they were an anthem:
Announce to those who hoard up gold and silver, the warning of branding irons with which their foreheads and bodies will be branded in the hereafter.
He never ascended a mountain or descended a valley or entered a city or faced a ruler without repeating the same words, so much so that people would always welcome him when he approached them by repeating “Announce to those who hoard up gold and silver, the warning of branding irons.”
This statement turned into “signature time” for his message to which he devoted his life. That was because he saw wealth being accumulated and monopolized for power and being turned into a means of. supremacy and abuse. He saw an overwhelming passion for life which was about to erase all beauty, piety, devotion, and sincerity built up during the previous years of the great mission of the Messenger of Allah.
When he began his attack, he started with the most authoritative and horrible stronghold: there in Syria, where Mu’aawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyaan was ruling one of the most fertile lands in the world of Islam, granting and distributing money carelessly, thereby bestowing undeserved privileges upon people of power and rank in order to guarantee his future, a future he aspired to promote.
There in Syria, the country of overwhelming palaces, country estates and fortunes which tempted the remnants of the carriers of the Islamic message, he began his attack. Abu Dhar wanted to confront the center of danger before it ruined and destroyed all Muslims.
The leader of the opposition to corrupt worldly power wore his humble gown and hastened as fast as lightning towards Syria. Ordinary people hardly heard about his arrival before they hurried to welcome him with great enthusiasm and longing desire, surrounding him wherever he would go or stay. “0 Abu Dhar, please tell us … 0, Companion of the Prophet (PBUH) please tell us …”
Sharp-eyed, he would take a glance at the multitude around him, seeing the majority of them suffering from poverty and need. He then directed his eyes to a place not too far away where he saw many palaces and landed estates. Then he shouted to those around him, “I wonder why those who don’t find something to eat don’t go out holding their swords ready to fight?”
Then he immediately remembered the Prophet’s admonition to replace opposition and rebellion with patience, and to replace the sword with brave and daring words, abandoning the language of war and returning to logic, reason, and conviction; teaching people that they are all equal like the teeth of a comb; that they are all partners as far as the means of living are concerned; that no one is superior to another except in piety; and that their ruler should be the first to starve if the people suffer hunger and the last to satisfy his appetite if they become sated.
He decided to create by means of his words and bravery a public opinion all over the Muslim countries which would represent, through its intelligence, indomitability, and strength, a hindering force to the deviations of the rulers and the rich and wealthy, in order to hinder the appearance and spread of a power- and wealth-monopolizing class.
Within a few days, the whole of Syria turned into what resembled a bee-hive which had found its queen. If Abu Dhar would have given the slightest passing gesture of revolt, the whole of Syria would have been set on fire. But, as mentioned before, he focused his interest on creating a respectable public opinion. His words turned into the subject of conversation everywhere, inside mosques, during meetings, and even on roads.
Danger increased and reached its peak for Abu Dhar, speaking about the newly acquired privileges of the rich and powerful, on the day in which be argued with Mu’aawiyah in front of the masses.
Every witness of that debate told those who missed it, so that its news spread as fast as wildfire.
Abu Dhar, who possessed the most truthful tongue on earth, as the Prophet (PBUH) described him, stood up. He asked Mu’awiyah about his wealth before and after being in power, about the house in which he was living in Makkah, and the castles he owned in Syria. Then he raised the question to the Companions who had accompanied Mu’aawiyah to Syria and were now owners of estates and castles.
After that he cried to them, “Is it you among whom the Prophet lived when the Qur’aan was being revealed?” Then he answered himself, “Yes, it is you! The Qur’aan was revealed among you. It is you who experienced with the Prophet (PBUH) all the different scenes.
Then he asked them again, “Can’t you find this verse in the Book of Allah? <… and those who hoard up gold and silver, and do not expend it in the cause of GOD, announce to them a painful chastisment – On the Day when it shall be heated in the Fire of Hell, and with it their foreheads, and their bodies, and their backs shall be branded,
“This is what you treasured for yourselves, so taste the evil of what you were treasuring.” (9: 34-35).
However, Mu’aawiyah wanted to end the whole dispute by arguing that this verse was mentioned regarding the People of the Book (i.e. the Jews and Christians). Hereupon cried Abu Dhar, “No, it has been revealed for us all.”
Abu Dhar then continued his talk, advising Mu’aawiyah and his followers to give up their landed estates, castles, money, and aU their possessions, and to abstain from saving for themselves more than their daily need.
Through the people’s assemblies, congregations, and meetings, the news of the debate spread and reached everyone’s ears.
Louder and louder was Abu Dhar’s anthem to be heard everywhere: “Announce to those who hoard up gold and silver the warning of branding irons.” Mu’aawiyah felt the danger of the words of the great, honorable, and rebellious Companion who terrified him. Yet Mu’aawiyah appreciated his value and did not harm him, but he immediately wrote to the Caliph “Uthmaan (May Allah be pleased with him), “Abu Dhar spoils the people in Syria.”
‘Uthmaan sent for Abu Dhar, asking him to come to Al -Madiinah. Abu Dhar set off from Syria with kindness, affection, and honor. His farewell day was celebrated in Syria in a manner Damascus had never witnessed the like of.
“I don’t need your world!” That is what Abu Dhar said to the Caliph ‘Uthmaan after he reached Al-Madiinah and a prolonged conversation took place between them.
After this conversation and after having heard the news coming from all different regions of the Muslim world, it was confirmed that Abu Dhar’s opinions had actually agitated the multitudes, who began to crystallize around them. It was at that time that ‘Uthmaan began to truly realize the actual danger of Abu Dhar’s opinion and its strength. He therefore decided to keep him beside him at Al-Madinah.
‘Uthmaan presented to him his decision in a very kind and friendly way. He said to him, “Stay here beside me. You will be endowed with blessings day and night.” Abu Dhar then answered, “I don’t need your world.”
Indeed, he did not need people’s world. He was one of those saints who searched for the enrichment of their soul, dedicating his life to giving, not to receiving!
He asked the Caliph ‘Uthmaan (May Allah be pleased with him) to allow him to go out to Ar-Rabadhah, and he allowed him.
Despite his fierce opposition, he stayed close to Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) in a very honest way, always keeping within his soul the Prophet’s advice never to carry a sword. It was as if the Prophet had seen the whole of Abu Dhar’s destiny and future, so he bestowed upon him this precious advice.
Abu Dhar never hid his annoyance when seeing those who liked to ignite the flames of civil strife by using his words and opinions as a means to satisfy their passionate desire and cunning deceits.
One day, while in Ar-Rabadhah, a delegation from Kufa came to ask him to raise the flag of revolution against the caliph. He drove them back with decisive words: “By Allah, if ‘Uthmaan was to crucify me on the longest board or oh a mountain, I would patiently obey, for Allah’s reward would be waiting for me, and I see it to be the best for me. And if he was to force me to walk from one end of the horizon to the other, I would patiently obey, for Allah’s reward would be waiting for me, and I see it to be the best for me. And if he was to force me back to my home I would patiently obey, for Allah’s reward would be waiting for me, and I see it to be the best for me.”
He was a man who was not interested in any worldly gain;
thus he was blessed with insight by Allah. He realized again the tremendous danger involved in armed civil strife; therefore, he abstained from it. But he also realized the tremendous danger involved in silence; therefore, he abstained from it. That is why he raised his voice, not his sword, and raised the word of truth and sincerity.
He was not tempted by greedy desires nor hindered by worldly obstacles.
Abu Dhar kept himself busy with and devoted himself to sincere, honest opposition.
He spent his whole life focusing on the faults of power and the faults of money. Thus power and money possessed the temptation. Abu Dhar was afraid his brethren would fall into their traps – his same brethren who had carried the standard of Islam with the Prophet (PBUH) and whom he wanted to remain the carriers of the Prophet’s message (PBUH).
Power and money were, furthermore, the backbone of societies and communities. If misused, the destiny of people would encounter serious and imminent danger.
Abu Dhar wished so much that the Prophet’s Companions would not be appointed as governors and would not collect fortunes, but would rather stay as they always had been: as spiritual guides to the right path for Allah’s worshipers.
He knew well the voracity of life and the voracity of money, and he knew that the example of Abu Dhar and “Umar was never going to be repeated! How often did he hear the Prophet (PBUH) asking his Companions to be aware of the temptation of authority saying, “It’s a deposition in trust, and on the Day of Resurrection it will be a shame and regret except to the one who was endowed with it justly and accomplished his duty.”
Abu Dhar went so far that he avoided his brethren if he did not boycott them/ for no other reason than that they had become rules and, of course, had become wealthier.
Abu Muusaa Al-Ash’ariy once met him. He had hardly seen him when he stretched his arms with joy and delight shouting, “Welcome Abu Dhar! Welcome my brother!” But Abu Dhar held himself back saying, “I am not your brother; I was so before you became an administrator and governor.”
In the same way, Abu Hurairah once met and embraced him in welcome, but Abu Dhar pushed him back and said, “Isn’t it you who became goveror, then extended your buildings and possessed plantations and cattle?” Abu Hurairah defended himself, trying to prove his innocence and refute those rumors.
It may seem that Abu Dhar had an exaggerated position towards power and wealth, but he had a logic which was shaped by his sincerity to himself and his faith. Thus, Abu Dhar stood with his dreams, deeds, behavior, and viewpoints according to the same standard the Prophet (PBUH) and his two Companions Abu Bakr and ‘Umar had left behind.
If some people saw that standard to be an out-of-reach ideal, Abu Dhar saw it to be an example charting the path of life and toil especially for those who had actually experienced the Prophet (PBUH), prayed behind him, taken part in jihaad with him, and sworn the oath of allegiance to him.
In addition to that – as mentioned before – his inspired intellect knew the decisive influence of power and property in determining people’s destiny. Therefore, any disturbance which might afflict the trustworthiness of power or the fairness of wealth represents an imminent danger which must be resisted and opposed.
As long as he lived, Abu Dhar upheld the standard of the Prophet (PBUH) and his two Companions’ good example. He was a great figure in the art of predominance over the temptation of power and wealth. The governorship of Iraq was once offered to him, but he said, “By Allah, you will never tempt me with your world.”
Once, one of his companions saw him wearing an old gown and asked him, “Don’t you have another one? I saw you a couple of days ago with two other gowns in your hands.” Abu Dhar replied, “O cousin! I gave them to someone who needed them more than I do.” He said to him,” By Allah, you need them!” Abu Dhar then answered, “May Allah forgive us. You glorify this life! Can’t you see that I am wearing a gown? And I own another one for the congregational Friday prayer. Moreover, I own a goat, which I milk, and a donkey which I ride. Is there a better blessing?”
He once sat down talking to people and said, “My friend advised me to do seven things:
* He asked me to love the poor and to get closer to them.
* He asked me to look to those who are inferior and not to those who are superior.
* He asked me never to ask anyone for anything (i.e. to abstain from begging).
* He asked me to be kind to my relatives.
* He asked me to say the truth, no matter how sour it may be.
* He asked me never to be afraid of a critic’s censure.
· And he asked me to frequently say. There is no power nor might except Allah’s.””
He lived according to this advice until he became a living conscience moving among his people.
Imam ‘Ally once said, “There is no one nowadays who is nonchalant about people’s criticism – as far as Allah and His rules are concerned – except Abu Dhar.”
He lived opposing the abuse of power and the monopoly of property. He lived resisting all that was wrong and building all that was right. He lived devoted to the responsibility of good advice and warning.
When he was hindered from spelling out his fatwah (formal legal opinion in Islamic law), he raised his voice and said to those hindering him, “By the name of the One in Whose hands my soul is, if you put the sword to my neck and I still thought that I could carry out a word I’ve heard from the Prophet (PBUH) before you cut, I would carry it out.”
Had the Muslims listened on that day to his advice, a lot of civil strife and turmoil would have been prevented – turmoil that reached its peak and dangers that became grave, serious, and imminent. The state, society and Muslim nation had to face all that rebellion and aggrevated, alarming danger.
But then Abu Dhar was suffering the agony of death in Ar-Rabadhah, the place he chose to stay in after his disagreement with ‘Uthmaan (May Allah be pleased with him). Let us go to him to give him farewell and let us see how the last scene of his admirable life is.
This slim dark-skinned woman sitting crying beside him is his wife. He is asking her, “Why do you cry and death is true?” She answers crying, “You are dying and I don’t have a gown which suffices to be a winding sheet!!” He smiles like a passing evening glow and says to her “Calm down. Don’t cry. I heard the Prophet (PBUH) once saying while I was sitting among a number of Companions, ‘One of you will die in a desert land, and a group of the faithful will witness him.” All those who were sitting with me at that assembly have died, whether in a village or among a congregation. No one is left except me, and now I am dying in a desert land. Watch out, a group of the faithful will soon show up. By Allah, I didn’t lie in my life.” He passed away. Blessed was he.
There is a caravan which sets off on a journey across the desert. It consists of a group of the faithful with ‘Abd Allah Ibn Mas’uud, the Prophet’s Companion, at their head. Ibn Mas’uud visualized the scene before he reached it: a scene of an out-stretched body like that of a dead person and beside him a crying woman and boy.
He redirects his camel’s bridle and the whole caravan follows him towards the scene. He has hardly taken a look at the dead body, when he realizes that it is his companion and brother in Islam.
His tears roll down abundantly while he stands in front of this virtuous body saying, “The Messenger of Allah was truthful. You will walk alone, die alone, and resurrect alone.”
Ibn Mas’uud (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated the interpretation of the statement “You will walk alone, die alone,, and resurrect alone,” to his companions:
That was in the ninth year after Hijrah, during the Battle of Tabuuk, when the Prophet (PBUH) had ordered full preparation to meet the Romans, who had begun to carry out their conspiracies and cunning tricks against Islam.
The days in which people were asked to go out for Jihaad were very hot, distressful, and hard. The destination was far away and the enemy terrifying.
A group of Muslims refrained from going forth, justifying their position with different apologies. The Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions went forth. The farther they went, the more exhausted and tired they became. Whenever a man stayed behind people said, “0 Prophet! So-and-so stayed behind.” He then said, “Let him! If he’s any good, he will reach you. If he’s something else, then Allah will save you his trouble.”
One day the people turned around. They could not find Abu Dhar. They told the Prophet (PBUH) that Abu Dhar had stayed behind and his camel had slowed down. It is here that the Prophet (PBUH) repeated his first statement. Abu Dhar’s camel became weaker under the severe pressure of hunger, thirst, and hot weather. It stumbled due to weakness and fatigue. Abu Dhar tried by all means to force it to move forward, but the burden of the camel’s exhaustion was too heavy.
Finally, Abu Dhar felt that he would be left behind, losing the caravan’s traces. Therefore, he dismounted from his camel, took his belongings, carried them on his back, and continued his route on foot over the burning desert sand, hurrying in order to rejoin the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions.
In the early morning, while the Muslims were stopped for a while to rest, one of them saw a cloud of dust and sand behind which the shadow of a man could be seen. The one who saw that said to the Prophet (PBUH), “O Messenger of Allah, there is someone walking alone.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “It is Abu Dhar.”
The Muslims continued their talk until the man crossed the remaining distance between them. Only then were they able to know
The respectful traveller approached little by little. Although he could only with great effort pull his feet out of the burning sand and with a lot of pain carry the heavy burden on his back, he was very delighted to have finally reached the blessed caravan without staying behind and abandoning the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions.
When he at last reached the caravan, someone shouted, “O Prophet, it’s Abu Dhar.” Abu Dhar headed towards the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) had hardly seen him, when he tenderly, kindly, and sadly smiled and said, “Allah will have mercy upon Abu Dhar. He walks alone, dies alone, and resurrects alone.”
Twenty years or more had passed since then. Abu Dhar died alone in the desert of Ar-Rabadhah, having walked on a path no one else had passed over so gloriously.
He is also remembered alone by history for his brave resistance and his great asceticism. Allah will also resurrect him alone, because the multitude of his various merits will not enable anyone else to find a place near him.