A Man of Paradise
If there were people born in Paradise, reared and brought to maturity there, and then brought to earth to adorn and enlighten it, then ‘Ammaar, his mother Sumaiyah and his father Yaasir would be of them!
But why do we say “if” and why do we make that condition when Yaasir’s family were reAli (RA) of Paradise? Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) was not merely pacifying them when he said, “Patience, O Yaasir’s family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise.” He was declaring a fact which he knew and reiterating an actuality perceived by him.
‘ Ammaar’s father, Yaasir Ibn ‘Aamir, left his native place in Yemen seeking a brother of his. In Makkah he found an appealing place, so he settled there and was in alliance with Abu Hudhaifah Ibn Al-Mughirah, who married him to one of his slave women, Sumaiyah Bint Khaiyaat. Out of this blessed marriage Allah granted the parents a son, “Ammaar. Their embracing of Islam was early, like that of the righteous ones guided by Allah. And like the early righteous Muslims as well, they had their good share of the Quraish’s persecution and terror.
The Quraish used to waylay the believers to attack them. If the believers were among the honorable and noble people in their community, the Quraish would pursue them with threats and menace. Abu Jahl would meet one of the believers and tell him, ” You abandoned your forefathers’ religion and they were better than you. We will spoil your character, degrade your honor, reduce your trade, and exhaust your money.” They would then launch a heated war of nerves upon him.
If the believers were among the weak, poor, or slaves of Makkah, then the Quraish would burn them with the fire of persecution.
Yaasir’s family belonged to that class. The order for their persecution was handed to Bani Makhzuum. They used to take them all – Yaasir, Sumaiyah and ‘Avnmaar – to the burning desert of Makkah, where they would pour upon them different kinds of the hell of torture.
Sumaiyah’s share of that torment was colossal and terrible. We shall not elaborate about her now, since we shall have ~ Allah willing – another encounter with her and her likes during those immortal days to talk about the grace of sacrifice and the glory of her firmness. Suffice it to mention now, without any exaggeration, that Sumaiyah, the martyred one, maintained a firm stance that day which gives the whole of humanity an everlasting honor and an ever glorious dignity. Her stance made of her a great mother to believers in all ages, and to the honorable people of all times.
The Messenger (PBUH) used to go where he knew Yasir’s family were tortured. He did not have at that time any means of resistance or keeping harm from them. This was Allah’s will, because the new faith – the faith of Ibraahiim Al-Haniifan (Abraham the true) – which was revealed to Muhammad was not a casual and passing reform movement. It was a way of life for the whole humanity of believers who had to inherit along with the religion all its history of heroism, sacrifices, and risks. These abundant noble sacrifices are the cement and the foundation that grant an everlasting firmness and immortality to the faith and the creed. It is the fragrance that fills the hearts of believers with loyalty, joy, and happiness. It is the lighthouse that guides the coming generations to the reality of religion, to its truth and greatness.
Therefore, Islam had to make its sacrifices and have its victims, the meaning of which is illustrated and illuminated in more than one verse of the Qur’aan for the Muslims. Allah says:
<Do the people think that they will be left to say: “We believe”, and they shall not be tried? > (29 : 2).
<Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who remained patient? > (3:142).
<And we indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test) > (29 : 3).
<Do you think you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard… > (9 : 16).
<Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good.> (3 : 179).
<And what you suffered (of the disaster) on the day (of the Battle of Uhud when) the two armies met, was by the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers > (3 : 166).
That is true. This was the way the Quraan taught its bearers and descendants that sacrifice is the essence of faith and that resistance of unjust, oppressive challenges is through firmness, patience, and persistence, which form the best and the most superb virtues of faith.
Therefore, this religion of Allah, when it was laying down its foundation, establishing its principles, and giving its models and examples, had to support and purify itself with sacrifice. In carrying out this great mission, a number of its disciples, supporters, and righteous people were chosen to be lofty models and elevated examples for the coming believers.
Sumaiyah, Yasir and ‘Ammaar were of this great and blessed group, chosen by Islam’s destiny to make of their sacrifices, firmness, and persistence a document of Islam’s greatness and immortality.
We said that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to go out every day to Yaasir’s family, commending their fortitude and heroism. His big heart was melting out of mercy and kindness to see them so severely tortured. One day while he was looking for them, Ammaar called to him, “O Messenger of Allah, we are suffering from extreme torment.” The Messenger called to him saying, “Patience, Abu Yaqdhaan, patience 0 Yaasir’s family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise.”
Ammaar’s companions described the torture that was inflicted upon him in many of their reports. Amr Ibn Al-Hakam, for instance, said, “”Ammaar used to be tortured so much that he would not be aware of what he was saying.” “Amr Ibn Maimuun said, “The polytheists scorched ‘Ammaar Ibn Yasir with fire, and Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to pass by him, pass his hand over Yaasir’s head and say, “O fire, be cool and peaceful on ‘Ammaar, as you were cool and peaceful on Ibraahiim.”
Despite that overwhelming terror, it did not vanquish ‘Ammaar’s spirit, though it overburdened his back and strained his strength.
‘Ammaar did not feel utterly ruined except on that day when his executioners employed all their devilry in crime and injustice. They burned his skin with fire, laid him on the heated sands of the desert under the burning stones, ducked him in water until he could hardly breathe and until his wounds and gashes were skinned. On that day, when he fell unconscious under the effect of that horror, they said to him, “Say something good about our gods.” They kept saying things, which he repeated without being conscious of what he was saying.
When he became slightly conscious after he had fainted due to their torture, he remembered what he had said and was mad about it. This slip became so concrete to him that he saw it as an unforgivable sin, which could not be atoned for. In a few moments his feeling of guilt made him suffer so much that the torture of the polytheists seemed to him a blessing and a balm.
If he had been left to such feelings for a few hours, they would have destroyed him. He was enduring the dreadful anguish of the body because his spirit was lofty, but now when he thought defeat had reached his spirit, he was overburdened with worries and fear of death and destruction. But Almighty Allah willed that the final, exciting scene would come to its dignified end. An angel stretched out its blessed right hand, shook the hand of “Ammaar and called to him, “Get up, 0 hero! There is no blame or embarrassment for you.”
When Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) met him, he found him crying. He kept wiping his tears and telling “Ammaar, “The polytheists took you, ducked your head in water, and you said such and such a thing?” “Ammaar answered him, still crying, “Yes, 0 Messenger of Allah.” Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said then while smiling, “If they repeat it, say the same thing.” Then he recited the glorious Qur’aanic verse: <. except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith …> (16: 106)
“Ammaar’s tranquility was restored, he no longer felt pain when they punished him, and he no longer cared about it. His spirit conquered and his faith conquered. The Qur’aan had included this blessed transaction, so whatever happened, happened.
‘Ammaar remained steadfast until his tormenters were exhausted and they retreated, yielding to his determination.
The Muslims settled in Al-Madiinah after the Hijrah of their Messenger (PBUH). The Islamic community there began to take shape very fast and complete itself. Within that group of believers, ‘Ammaar was allocated a dignified position. Allah’s Messenger loved him greatly and used to boast among his Companions about ‘Ammaar’s faith and guidance. He said about him, “Verily, ‘Ammaar is filled to the bones with faith.”
When a slight misunderstanding happened between Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid and ‘Ammaar, the Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever antagonizes ‘Ammaar is antagonized by Allah, and whoever detests ‘Ammaar is detested by Allah.” Thereupon, Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid, Islam’s hero, had to hasten to ‘Ammaar, apologizing to him and hoping for his sincere forgiveness.
When the Messenger (PBUH) and his Companions were building the mosque in Al-Madiinah, after their arrival there, Imam ‘Ali (RA) (May Allah glorify his face) composed a song and kept on repeating it with other Muslims, saying:
He who frequents the mosques,
Remaining there standing and sitting,
Is not equal to the one who keeps away from dust.
‘Ammaar was working at the side of the mosque, so he kept repeating the song, raising his voice. One of his companions thought that ‘Ammaar was disparaging him. He therefore said some angry words, which angered the Messenger of Allah, and he said, “What is their business with ‘Ammaar? He calls them to Heaven and they call him to Hell. To me, ‘Ammaar is but a skin between my eyes and my nose.”
When the Messenger of Allah loves a man that much, this man’s faith, his accomplishment, his loyalty, his grace, his conscience, and manner have reached the top and ended at the pinnacle of allowed perfection.
That was ‘Ammaar. Allah had granted him abundant blessings and guidance. In the level of guidance and certitude, he reached a great height which made the Messenger (PBUH) commend his faith and raise him among the Companions as a model and an example, saying, “Take the examples of the two succeeding me, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and follow the guidance of “Ammaar.” The narrators described him, saying, “He was tall, with bluish-black eyes, broad-shouldered, among the most silent of the people and the least talkative.”
How did the life of that giant proceed, the silent, bluish-black-red, broad-shouldered man whose body bore the scars of the horrible torture and, at the same tim, the document of his amazing steadfastness and his extraordinary greatness? How did the life of that loyal disciple, the true believer, the overawing sacrificer proceed?
He witnessed with his tutor and messenger all the battles: Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq and Tabuuk and others. When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) passed away, the outstanding Companion continued his march. At the meeting of Muslims with Persians, with Romans, and, before that, at their meeting with the army of apostates, ‘Ammaar was always there in the first line, an honest, brave soldier who did not miss an opportunity.
He was a pious believer. No desire would take him away from Allah. When the Commander of the Faithful ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab chose governors for the Muslims meticulously and with reservation, his eyes usuAli (RA) fell on ‘Ammaar Ibn Yaasir in complete trust. That was how he hastened to him and made him the governor of Kufa, and made Ibn Mas’uud in charge with him of its treasury (Bait Al-Maal). He then wrote to the people of Kufa heralding the new governor and said, “I send you ‘Ammaar Ibn Yasir as a governor, and Ibn Mas’uud as a teacher and a minister. They are of the distinguished people of Muhammad’s Companions, and of the people of Badr.”
During his rule, ‘Ammaar followed a way which was hard for worldly people to endure so that they turned against him, or were about to. His rule made him more modest, more pious, and more ascetic.
One of his contemporaries in Kufa, Ibn Abi Hudhail said about him, “I saw “Ammaar Ibn Yaasir when he was the governor of Kufa buying some vegetables. He tied them with a rope and carried them on his shoulders and went home.”
One of the public said to him when he was the governor of Kufa, “O you whose ear is cut off.” He was scorning him because of his ear which had been cut off by the swords of the apostates during the Yamaamah War. The governor, in whose hands was the power of rule, merely said to his insulter, “You insulted the best part of my ear. It was injured in the cause of Allah.”
It is true. It was injured in the cause of Allah on the Day of Yamaamah, which was one of ‘Atnmaar’s glorious days. This giant set out in stormy courage to annihilate the soldiers in the army of Musailamah the Liar, offering death and destruction. When he perceived a lack of enthusiasm among the Muslims, he sent his quaking shouts which pushed them as shot arrows.
‘ Abd Allah Ibn “Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I saw ‘Ammaar Ibn Yaasir on the Day of Yamaamah on a rock shouting, “0 you Muslim people, are you running away from Paradise? I am “Ammaar Ibn Yaasir, come to me.” When I looked at him, I found his ear cut off and swinging while he was fighting fiercely.
If there is anyone who has his doubts concerning Muhammad (PBUH), the truthful Messenger and the perfect teacher, let him halt in front of these examples of his disciples and Companions and ask himself, “Is it possible for anyone to produce that refined style except a noble messenger and a great teacher?” If they were involved in a fight for Allah’s cause, they hastened as if they were looking for death, not only for victory. If they were caliphs and rulers, the caliph went himself to milk the orphans’ sheep and make their bread, as Abu Bakr and *Umar did. If they were governors, they carried their food on their backs, tied with a rope, as ‘Ammaar did, or gave up their pay and set to making baskets and vessels out of plaited palm leaves, as Salmaan did . Should we not bow in salutation and respect to the faith that produced them and to the Messenger who raised them, and before all that to Almighty Allah Who chose them for that, guided them to it, and made them pioneers to the best nation of people on earth?
Hudhaifah Ibn Al-Yammaan, the expert in the inner language, the language of the heart, was preparing to meet Allah and suffering from the agony of death when his companions surrounding him asked, “To whom should we go, if people differ?” Hudhaifah answered in his last words, “You should turn to Ibn Sumaiyah because he will not part from truth until death.”
Yes, “Ammaar would turn with the truth wherever it went. Now while we trace his blessed direction and follow the landmarks of his great life, let us approach a momentous scene. But before watching that grand and graceful scene in its glory and perfection, in its sincerity and persistence, let us watch another scene preceding, foreshadowing, and preparing for it.
That scene was following the Muslims’ settlement in Al-Madiinah. The honest Messenger (PBUH) rose, surrounded by his righteous Companions, with unkempt hair and full of dust. They were establishing Allah’s house and building His mosque. Their faithful hearts were filled with joy, glowed with delight, and murmured their thanks to Allah.
All were working in happiness and hope, carrying stone, mixing mortar, and erecting the building. There was a team here, another team over there. The happy horizon echoed the singing with which they raised with overjoyed voices: “If we stayed while the Prophet worked, it would be misguided work of ours.” They sang in that manner, then their voices were raised in another song: “O Allah, living is but in the next world, then have mercy on the Ansaar and the Muhaajiruun!” Then a third song was raised:
He who frequents the mosques,
Remaining there standing and sitting,
Is not equal to the one who keeps away from dust.
They were cells working, Allah’s soldiers, carrying His banner and erecting His building. The honest and kind Messenger was with them, carrying the heaviest of the stones and performing the hardest work. Their singing voices reflected the delight of their satisfied souls. Heaven above them filled the earth that bore them with delight, and bright life was witnessing its best celebrations.
“Ammaar Ibn Yaasir was there amidst the celebration, carrying the heavy stones from their quarries to their positions. When the guided mercy, Muhammad the Messenger of Allah saw him, he sympathized greatly with him. He approached him and removed the dust from his head with his kind hand. With looks filled with the light of Allah, he contemplated his innocent, faithful face and said in front of all the Companions. “Alas for Ibn Sumaiyah, killed by the tyrant group.”
The foretelling was repeated once again when a wall “Ammaar was working beneath fell, and some brethren believed he was dead. They went to offer condolences to the Messenger (PBUH), and the Companions were shocked by the news, but the Messenger (PBUH) said reassuringly and confidently, “‘Ammaar is not dead. The tyrant party will kill “Ammaar.”
Who was this party? And where? When? ‘Ammaar listened to the prophecy in a way that showed he knew the great Messenger’s truth of perception. Yet, he was not horrified. Since becoming a Muslim he had been expecting death and martyrdom every moment of the day and n’ght.
Days and years passed. The Messenger (PBUH) went to the Supreme Companion, followed by Abu Bakr and then ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with them). ‘Uthmaan Ibn ‘Affaan, “The Man of Two Lights”, became caliph. Conspiracies against Islam were doing their best, trying to gain by treachery and sedition what they lost in war. ‘Umar’s death was the first success achieved by these conspiracies blowing on Al-Madiinah as a breeze of poison from those countries whose sovereignty and thrones Islam had destroyed. They were tempted by “Umar’s martyrdom to continue their efforts, so they followed and awakened seditions in most Islamic countries.
In addition, “Uthmaan might not have given the matter the attention, care, and response it deserved, so the incident happened and ‘Uthmaan was martyred and the doors of seditions were opened on the Muslims. Mu’aawiyah started fighting the new caliph, “Ali (RA) (May Allah glorify his face) for his right in the matter and for the caliphate. The Companions had different stances. Some of them washed their hands of the whole matter and went home, making Ibn ‘Umar’s words their motto :
To the one who says, “Come to prayer,” I will respond. To the one who says, “Come to success,” I will respond. But to the one who says, “Come to kill your Muslim brother and to take his money,” I will say, “No.”
Some Muslims were partial to Mu’aawiyah, others were partial to ‘Aliy, the one who demanded the pledge of allegiance to him as the Muslims’ caliph. Where do you think ‘Ammaar would stand? Where should he stand, the man about whom the Messenger of Allah said, “Follow the guidance of ‘Ammaar,” and, “Whoever antagonizes “Ammaar, will be antagonized by Allah”?
The man who, if he approached the house of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH), the latter would say, “Welcome the good-scented, kind man, allow him to come in”?
He stood by ‘Ali (RA) Ibn Abi Taalib, not as a prejudiced, biased person, but as one complying with the truth and keeping his promise. “Ali (RA) was the Caliph of the Muslims and had the pledge of allegiance to be its leader (Imam). He took the caliphate and he was worthy of it. Above all, “Aliy had the qualities that made his place to the Messenger of Allah as that of Haaruun (Aaron) to Muusaa (Moses).
“Ammaar, who always turned towards the truth wherever it was to enlighten his insight and loyalty to the possessor of truth in that fight, turned to ‘Aliy on that day and stood by him. ‘Aliy (May Allah be pleased with him) was overjoyed with ‘Ammaar’s pledge and trusted that he was right in his demand because the great man of truth, ‘Ammaar Ibn Yaasir, approached and went with him.
The terrible Day of Siffiin arrived. Imam ‘Ali (RA) came out to face the serious rebellion which he felt he had to curb. “Ammaar came out with him, and he was 93 years old then. Imagine, a man of 93 going to fight! It is true, as long as he believed that fighting was his responsibility and duty. In fact, he fought more strongly and better than a man of 30. He was the man who was constantly silent, who spoke little. When he moved his lips, he moved them to supplicate, “I seek Allah’s protection from sedition. I seek Allah’s protection from sedition.”
And after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah, these words remained his constant supplication. As days passed, he used to seek Allah’s protection more, as if his pure heart felt the coming danger as the days went on. When it did happen and the sedition occurred, Ibn Sumaiyah knew his place, so he stood in Siffiin carrying his sword, a man of 93 to support a right which he believed should be supported.
He declared his opinion about that fighting: O people, let us be directed to the people who claim they are avenging’Uthmaan. By Allah, their intention is not revenge, but they have tasted worldly things and are pleased with them. They know that truth keeps them away from what they enjoy of lust and their world. Those people had no precedent in the past to keep Muslims in obedience to them or in their support. Their hearts have not felt awe towards Allah to force them to follow the truth. They deceive the people by claiming they are avenging “Uthmaan’s death. They seek nothing but to be tyrants and kings.”
He then took the standard in his hand, raised and fluttering above their heads and shouted, “By Allah in Whose hands my soul lies, I fought with this standard with the Messenger of Allah, and here I am fighting with it today. By Allah, if they defeat us until they reach the palm trees of Hajar, I would still believe we are in the right and they are following the wrong.” People followed ‘Ammaar and trusted his words.
‘Abu ‘Abd Ar-Rahman As-Sulamiy reported: ” We witnessed with ‘Ali (RA) (May Allah be pleased with him) the Battle of Siffiin, and I saw ‘Ammaar (May Allah be pleased with him) not taking one turn nor one of its valleys but the Companions of Muhammad (PBUH) would follow him as if he were their standard!”
When ‘Ammaar was engaged in the battle he knew he was one of its martyrs. The Messenger’s prophecy was illuminated in big letters in front of his eyes, “The tyrant party will kill ‘Ammaar.” For that reason his voice was ringing over the horizon of the battle with the following tune, “Today, I meet the dear ones, Muhammad and his Companions.” He would then rush like a high arrow towards Mu’aawiyah’s position and surround him, singing loudly:
We hit you at its first revelation,
Now we hit you again for its interpretation;
A hitting that removes respect from one’s eyes,
And distracts the lover from his lass,
Or restores the right to its own place.
He meant by this that the former Companions of the Messenger (PBUH) -“Ammaar was one of them – had fought Umayyids in the past who were headed by Abu Sufyaan bearing the standard of polytheism and leading its army. They had fought them in the past as the glorious Qur’aan was operiy commanding Muslims to fight disbelievers. As for today, even though they were Muslims and were not openly commanded by the Qur’aan to fight them, yet ‘Ammaar’s search for truth and his comprehension of the aims and goals of the Qur’aan persuaded them to fight so that the usurped right would be restored to its people and the fire of rebellion and sedition would be extinguished once and for all. It also signified that in the past they fought Umayyids for their disbelief in faith and in the Qur’aan. Today they were fighting them for deviating from faith and their turning away from the Qur’aan, their wrong interpretation and explanation, and their attempts to alter its verses and meaning to their aims and greedy wishes.
This man of 93 was involved in the last battle of his noble and brave life. He was giving the last lesson about perseverence in truth, and bequeathing to life the last of his great, honest, and edifying attitudes.
Mu’aawiyah’s men attempted to avoid ‘Ammaar as much as they could so as not to kill him with their swords and people would say they were the “tyrant party”. Yet, ‘Ammaar was fighting as if he were a whole army and his bravery made them mad, so some of Mu’aawiyah’s soldiers waited for a chance to hit him.
Mu’aawiyah’s army had many regular soldiers from among the new Muslims who had embraced Islam at the beating of the drums in the Islamic conquest in many of the countries liberated by Islam from the power of the Romans and Persians. Most of these soldiers were the fuel of the civil war caused by the rebellion of Mu’aawiyah and his refusal to pledge allegiance to ‘Ali (RA) as Caliph and Imam. They were the fuel and the oil of the battle that enflamed it.
The disagreement, in spite of its seriousness, could have terminated peacefully if the affairs had remained with the early Muslims. However, it was no sooner formed than it was taken by many hands that did not care about the fate of Islam, and they kept adding fuel to the disagreement. At noon the news of ‘Ammaar’s death spread, and the Muslims went on repeating to one another the prophecy of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) which had been heard by all the Companions on the day of the festival while building the mosque:
“Alas for Ibn Sumaiyah, killed by the tyrant party.”
Now people knew who was the “tyrant party”. It was the one that had killed ‘Ammaar, no other but Mu’aawiyah’s party. ‘Ali (RA)’s Companions became more and more convinced of this fact. As for Mu’aawiyah’s party, their hearts became suspicious, and some prepared to mutiny and turn to ‘Ali (RA).
No sooner did Mu’aawiyah hear of what had happened than he came out announcing to the people that the prophecy was right, and the Messenger (PBUH) reAli (RA) prophesied that ‘Ammaar was going to be killed by the tyrant party. But who killed “Ammaar? Then he shouted to the people of his party, “He was surely killed by those who came with him out of his house and brought him to the battle.” Some people who were inclined towards that interpretation were deceived, and the battle continued till the end.
As for ‘Ammaar, Imam ‘Aliy carried him on his chest to where he and the other Muslims prayed, and then he was buried in his own clothes. Yes, in his blood-smeared clothes which had a pure and good smell. No silk material in the whole world could have been more suitable for the shroud of a graceful martyr and a great saint like ‘Ammaar.
Muslims stood at his grave wondering. A few hours before, ‘Ammaar had been singing over the battlefield, filled with the delight of the tired stranger who was returning happily home. He had been shouting, “Today I meet the dear ones, Muhammad and his Companions.” Did he have a meeting time with them, an exact time to wait for him?
Some Companions approached each other, inquiring. One of them asked, “Do you remember the twilight of that day in Al-Madiinah when we were sitting with Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and suddenly his face brightened and he said, “Paradise is longing for ‘Ammaar’?” His friend answered, “Yes, on that day he mentioned others, among which were’Aliy, Salmaan and Bilaal.”
Paradise then was longing for “Ammaar. The longing remained for a long time while he was urging it to wait in order to accomplish all his tasks and complete the last of his achievements. He did them all following his conscience and feeling delight for his achievement. Was it not then time to comply with the call of longing coming from Paradise? Sure, it was: good is rewarded by good. That was how he threw aside his lance and went.
When the dust of his grave was being leveled on his body by his companions, his soul was embracing its happy destiny there in the ‘eternity of Paradise that was longing for ‘Ammaar!