“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future”. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
“The condition of man . . . is a condition of war of everyone against everyone” ~ Thomas Hobbes
Fair game they call it.
In their natural state, and throughout the course of their existence, human beings are in need of guiding principles, as thoughtfully laid out by the 16th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Although the foundations of his works did not lead to ideal conclusions and instead led to the opposite of a model framework, Hobbes came close to accuracy in his depiction of the sole natural state of the human being. In his book “The Leviathan”, he mentions “the condition of man … is a condition of war of everyone against everyone” (Hobbes, Leviathan). In essence, when men are solely functioning in their natural state then power, wealth, fulfillment of desires, and accumulation of material gain is all that matters to them. Hobbes believed that these natural desires can only be policed appropriately through some type of government.
As Muslims, we believe the natural state or fitrah of all human beings to be that of purity and Tawheed. The ability of an individual to remain firm upon this state of purity through practice is what eventually will save them from treading a path that fits the definition of a natural state brought forth by Hobbes.
So, what is this government, or set of rules, that Hobbes was so desperately trying to find peace with but unfortunately did not come across in his research?
إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ بِٱلْحَقِّ لِتَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ بِمَآ أَرَىٰكَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَلَا تَكُن لِّلْخَآئِنِينَ خَصِيمًۭا
Indeed, We have sent down the Book to you O Prophet in truth to judge between people by means of what Allah has shown you. So, do not be an advocate for the deceitful. (Surah Nisa: 105)
أَفَحُكْمَ ٱلْجَـٰهِلِيَّةِ يَبْغُونَ ۚ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ حُكْمًۭا لِّقَوْمٍۢ يُوقِنُونَ
Is it the judgment of ˹pre-Islamic˺ ignorance they seek? Who could be a better judge than Allah for people of sure faith? (Surah Maidah: 50)
In the year 1991, Fatima Mernissi, a world-renowned intellectual thinker and founder of the “modern Islamic Feminism movement” authored a book titled “The Veil and the Male Elite”. In her writing, she heavily critiqued the great companion of the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Hurairah, for narrating Ahadeeth that did not align with her moral compass or philosophical movement. This has been a common tactic by many secular writers and thinkers throughout the past few centuries as the pillars of their ideologies continued to shift in accordance with historical developments while the Sunnah of our beloved remained intact and unshattered. Principled in its formation, authentic in its transmission and honourable in its cause, one may ask themselves, what is the purpose of attacking the noble companion of the Prophet ﷺ who dedicated much of his life to transmit and defend the teachings of our religion and narrate the most ahadeeth?
Welcome to the story of Abu Hurairah r.a
Tufayl Ibn Amr Ad-Dawsi
Every great figure in Islamic History has their own unique beginning as they discovered themselves and their talents throughout their respective journeys. When we examine the life of Abu Hurairah, we realize that when he met the Prophet ﷺ he already established faith and was a Muslim. Where did the original spark come from and who gave Abu Hurairah Dawah?
In the sixth year of the Prophetic dawah prior to the migration to Madinah, there was a man by the name of Tufayl ibn Amr Ad-Dawsi who arrived in Makkah intending to perform the pagan pilgrimage. He was the noble chiefdom of the great tribe of Daws that constituted most of the Arabs at the time. Their geographical location coincides with the current lands of Najraan or South Arabia which is attributed to Yemen in modern history.
Upon his arrival in Makkah, the Quraish visited him and began to lecture him on the so-called dangers that the Prophet ﷺ posed to their communities and families. After honouring the noble chief of Daws, they began to vigorously warn him. They mentioned to him that there was a man from amongst their youth who has caused much havoc and broken society apart. They referred to him as a magician and poet. The delegation from the Quraish continued to narrate so many horror stories that Tufayl reached a level of fear that caused him to put cotton in his ears whenever he saw the Prophet ﷺ.
During his stay in Makkah, he decided to individually perform tawaf one evening and by the decree of Allah swt, he saw the Prophet ﷺ praying in front of the Ka’bah. Tufayl vigilantly pulled the cotton out and plugged it into his ears as he started making Tawaf, but then it hit him. He thought to himself, “Am I really that ignorant that I am not able to tell between truth and falsehood through my own discretion?” So, he pulled out the cotton and decided that if what he heard was good then he would take it and if he heard that which he thought to be evil and deceitful then he would abandon it. We can take a very important lesson from this internal struggle that Tufayl went through when it comes to the aspect of Taqlid (blind following). It is upon every single human being to use their intellect and to seek knowledge within the framework of the Quran and Sunnah regarding that which will benefit them in this life and the next without relying on others for their absolute salvation and decisions. Some of the scholars of Islam such as Ibn Hazam, hold the view that Taqlid is entirely haram in all instances.
Going back to the story, Tufayl decided to follow the Prophet ﷺ to his house to avoid causing controversy in public. When they arrived at the abode, Tufayl was permitted to enter and he began to explain his journey and narrate the story that brought him to the house of the noble Prophet of Allah. He told the Prophet ﷺ that he wanted to hear more about the tensions that were flaring between him and his people. The Prophet ﷺ began to speak and call Tufayl to Islam. He recited verses from the Quran and Tufayl became mesmerized and Allah swt opened his heart to the truth. He became one of the very few people who were initially from Makkah to embrace Islam during the Makkan period before the migration and treaties of Aqabah.
Now that Tufayl was Muslim, he immediately wanted to enjoy the good and forbid the evil amongst his people due to his status as a chief of his tribe. This sheds light on the importance of using your platform and positions in life for the correct reasons while maintaining pure intentions in every capacity that you are capable of giving dawah.
وقد أجمع الفقهاء على قول الله : (وجعلني مباركا أين ما كنت ) ، وقيل : ما بركته ؟ قال : الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر ، أينما كان
Tufayl implored the Prophet ﷺ to beseech Allah swt to grant him a miracle when he goes back to his people so that they will readily accept the message of Islam. The Prophet ﷺ made dua to Allah swt and Tufayl was granted a light coming from his face before entering back into his village. However, Tufayl asked if this light could shine from somewhere other than his face and the books of Seerah mention that it went down into his hand and then into his whip. As Muslims, we believe in the Karaamaat of the righteous people and the possibility for righteous people aside from the Prophet to be given minor miracles. Tufayl’s father and wife accepted Islam after he made it clear to them that he would not be able to treat them the same way. Despite his courageous efforts, very few people accepted Islam at that stage and Tufayl returned to Makkah during the Hajj season once again. He complained to the Prophet ﷺ about his people and their inclination towards Riba (Interest/Usury) and Zina (Fornication). He mentioned that they were rampantly immersed in these sins and asked the Prophet ﷺ to make dua against them. This was the level of frustration that Tufayl reached after 1-2 years of giving dawah. Imagine the difficulty the prophets and messengers had to face sometimes giving dawah for nearly 950 years.
حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيٌّ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الزِّنَادِ، عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَدِمَ الطُّفَيْلُ بْنُ عَمْرٍو الدَّوْسِيُّ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، إِنَّ دَوْسًا قَدْ عَصَتْ وَأَبَتْ، فَادْعُ اللَّهَ عَلَيْهَا، فَاسْتَقْبَلَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْقِبْلَةَ وَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ، فَظَنَّ النَّاسُ أَنَّهُ يَدْعُو عَلَيْهِمْ، فَقَالَ: اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ دَوْسًا، وَائْتِ بِهِمْ.
Abu Huraira said, “At-Tufayl ibn ‘Amr ad-Dawsi came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, ‘Messenger of Allah, Daws have rebelled and rejected, so ask Allah to curse them.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, faced the qibla and raised his hands and the people thought that he was going to curse them. He said, ‘O Allah, guide Daws and lead them.'”
Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani) – Al Adab Al Mufrad 611
After the Prophet ﷺ made this well-known dua for the tribe of Daws, Tufayl returned to his people and they started embracing Islam in large groups. A very imperative point of analysis we can derive from the Prophet ﷺ decision to make dua for the people of Daws is the stark difference between deviance that results from the love of following one’s desires and deviance that results from arrogance. It was around this time frame which Abu Hurairah embraced Islam and Tufayl went to make Hajj again. He informed the Prophet ﷺ that the tribe of Daws embraced Islam in large quantities to the point where they reached 80 households that embraced Islam. He offered the Prophet ﷺ protection and a fortress in the lands of Najran to relieve him and the Muslims in Makkah from the persecution of the Quraish. However, the Prophet of Allah was not able to accept this offer due to the command not coming from Allah swt. The Muslims were instead commanded to migrate to the land of palm trees for many reasons of great wisdom and knowledge.
The majority of the people of the tribe of Daws along with Tufayl and Abu Hurairah migrated to Madinah during the 7th year of the Hijri when the battle of Khaybar was taking place. When they arrived in Madinah, it was hard for them to adapt to the environment due to transitioning from the very lushes and green dairy farms of Najraan. Many of the people in Daws fell extremely ill on their voyage and upon arrival in Madinah.
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported that at-Tufayl ibn ‘Amr asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Do you want a fortress and a citadel? The fortress of Daws.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, refused it because of what Allah had stored up for the Ansar. At-Tufayl made hijra and a man of his people made hijra with him. The man fell ill and was in torment (or words to that effect) and he crawled over to a quiver, took out an arrow, sliced his veins and died. At-Tufayl saw him in a dream and asked him, “What has been done to you?” He replied, “I was forgiven because of my hijra to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.” He asked, “What happened to your hands?” He replied, “It was said, ‘We will not put right in you that part of your hands which you destroyed.'” He said that at-Tufayl related that to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Prophet said, “O Allah, forgive his hands!” and he raised his hands when he said it.
As Muslims, we should do our best to maximize good deeds for there is always hope when a person performs good deeds. The man in the above hadith was forgiven for the migration he performed for the sake of Allah and his messenger. It highlights that all good deeds are not equal, and we never know which deed could be the cause of Allah’s mercy descending upon us. We also understand that a major sin, in this case, suicide, is not disbelief similar to what some of the deviant sects claim. On the other hand, major sins are not trivial and are punishable contrary to what other deviant sects claim. It is also possible for a believer to be rewarded for something while being punished for something else as the hadith clarifies. Additionally, we come to realize that depression and mental pain is real and that they should not be dismissed as a trivial matter in our Muslim communities.
Tufayl stayed with the Prophet ﷺ throughout the remaining years in Madinah and after the conquest of Makkah, he assisted the Muslims in laying siege on Ta’if. He was also commanded to take his men and go back to his tribe and destroy the main Idol of Ad-Daws. This idol was one of the largest and most famous in the southern region of Arabia at the time. Of the wisdom of sending Tufayl is that he knew the intrinsic details of his people and could relate to them the best. Human psychology and identity politics teach us that not every person is qualified to give dawah to every person. When criticism and advice come from your people, it is easier to digest. If your own chief is calling you to a way of life instead of a random individual, the reception level increases dramatically.
Scholars and students of knowledge have authored books and conducted Ph.D. dissertations on the defence of Abu Hurairah r.a. The reason it is so important to understand and learn the life, efforts and works of Abu Hurairah is that he is sometimes a point of attack or punching bag, that the rejectors or manipulators of the Sunnah try to enter from.
Many groups reject the sunnah, but they have different methods and ways in which they do so. There are those who completely and outright reject the Sunnah as a source of Islamic Law, and they call themselves Quraniyoon (Quranists). Some reject the Ahaad narrations and only take from the Mutawaatir narrations. There are also those who only take from the narrations that directly align with the Quranic text.
However, there is a much larger group that poses a greater threat because they do not claim to reject the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ but rather they attack the compilers of the books of the sunnah, the narrators of hadith and most significantly the Sahaaba. They claim to accept the Sunnah but reject certain narrations due to its so-called interference with their ideological movements and secular moral compasses. For example, they say, “I am not rejecting the Prophet ﷺ but rather I am rejecting the narrations from such and such companion,” and who is easier to pinpoint other than Abu Hurairah for his abundance of narrations?
There has been much controversy around the birth name of Abu Hurairah that was given to him during the days of Jahiliya. Of the 15 opinions that are present, Ibn Ishaaq has a narration in which Abu Hurairah mentions that his name in Jahiliya was Abdu As-Shams and when he converted to Islam his name was changed to Abdulrahman. Despite the uncertainty that revolves around Abu Huraira’s name in Jahiliya, that does not take away from the credibility of his works and efforts. There is a common misconception that Abu Hurairah accepted Islam during the 7th year of the Hijra when he met the Prophet ﷺ. However, as we explained earlier, Abu Hurairah accepted Islam at the hands of Tufayl ibn Amr Ad-Dawsi and was already praying and fasting when he met the Prophet ﷺ. Abu Hurairah had an extremely sharp memory and had a habit of absorbing and regurgitating everything he learned or came across. He was granted this gift before the beautiful dua the Prophet ﷺ made for him as we will come to see.
When Abu Hurairah migrated to Madinah, he was extremely poor and was not married. He stayed with the people of Suffa. Suffa means shade, and during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, the companions who could not afford their own shelter or stay with family would reside under this shelter known as Suffa on the eastern left-hand side of the masjid. The Prophet ﷺ commanded for a roof to be built for them and it was solidified later on. It was an open area for anyone who did not have a place to go and there were no restrictions on who could enter. Abu Hurairah is the most well-known companion who stayed with the people of Suffa and was often their leader and spokesperson.
The People of As-Suffa
Abu Hurairah narrates:
وعنه، رضي الله عنه، قال: لقد رأيت سبعين من أهل الصفة، ما منهم رجل عليه رداء، إما إزار وأما كساء، قد ربطوا في أعناقهم، فمنها ما يبلغ نصف الساقين، ومنها ما يبلغ الكعبين، فيجمعه بيده كراهية أن ترى عورته” (رواه البخاري)
I saw seventy of the people of the Suffa and none of them had a cloak. They had either a lower garment or a blanket which they suspended from their necks. Some (cloaks) reached halfway down to the legs and some to the ankles, and the man would manage to keep it in his hand to avoid exposing his private parts. (Sahih Bukhari)
The above narration illustrates how poor the people of Suffa were. The Prophet ﷺ used to instruct his companions to give to the people of Suffa and hang the produce of their first harvest where the people of Suffa resided. There is also a hadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah in which the prophet of Allah is teaching the Sahaba to ration their food and seek the blessing in it so that they can give a portion of their provisions to the people of Suffa.
Jabir ibn Abdullah narrates:
وعن جابر رضى الله عنه قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: “طعام الواحد يكفى الاثنين، وطعام الاثنين يكفى الأربعة، وطعام الأربعة يكفى الثمانية”.(رواه مسلم)
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The food of one person suffices for two, the food of two people suffices for four people, and the food of four people suffices for eight people.” (Sahih Muslim)
The Prophet ﷺ always thought about the people of As-Suffa and he made sure that he did not take away from their rights or fail to include them in the operations of the Muslims. In fact, most of the people of As-Suffa were dedicated, sincere and sturdy students of knowledge.
It was also narrated that Ali r.a said:
حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ السَّائِبِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَا أُعْطِيكُمْ وَأَدَعُ أَهْلَ الصُّفَّةِ تَلَوَّى بُطُونُهُمْ مِنْ الْجُوعِ وَقَالَ مَرَّةً لَا أُخْدِمُكُمَا وَأَدَعُ أَهْلَ الصُّفَّةِ تَطْوَى.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “I will not give to you and leave Ahlu-Suffa suffering from hunger. `On one occasion he said: `I shall not give you a servant and leave Ahlu-Suffa suffering from hunger.” (Musnad Ahmed 596)
How severe was this hunger that the Prophet ﷺ is referring to in the above hadith? Let us examine a narration narrated by Abu Hurairah in the first person that vividly depicts and describes the state of the people of As-Suffa in their element.
Abu Hurairah narrated:
“The people of As-Suffa were the guests of the people of Islam, they had nothing of people nor wealth to rely upon. And By Allah, the One Whom there is none worthy of worship besides Him – I would lay on the ground on my liver (side) due to hunger, And I would fasten a stone to my stomach out of hunger. One day I sat by the way that they (the Companions) use to come out through. Abu Bakr passed and so I asked him about an Ayah from Allah’s Book, not asking him except that he might tell me to follow him (for something to eat). But he passed on without doing so. Then `Umar passed, so I asked him about an Ayah from Allah’s Book, not asking him except that he might tell me to follow him. But he passed on without doing so. Then Abul-Qasim (s.a.w) passed, and he smiled when he saw me and said: ‘Abu Hurairah?’ I said: ‘I am here O Messenger of Allah!’ He said: ‘Come along.’ He continued and I followed him, he entered his house, so I sought permission to enter, and he permitted me. He found a bowl of milk and said: ‘Where did this milk come from?’ It was said: ‘It was a gift to us from so – and – so.’ So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: ‘O Abu Hurairah’ I said: ‘I am here O Messenger of Allah!’ He said: ‘Go to the people of As-Suffa to invite them.’ – Now, they were the guests of the people of Islam, they had nothing of people nor wealth to rely upon. Whenever some charity was brought to him, he would send it to them without using any of it. And when a gift was given to him (s.a.w), he would send for them to participate and share with him in it. I became upset about that, and I said (to myself): ‘What good will this bowl be among the people of As-Suffa and I am the one bringing it to them?’ Then he ordered me to circulate it among them (So I wondered) what of it would reach me from it, and I hoped that I would get from it what would satisfy me. But I would certainly not neglect to obey Allah and obey His Messenger, so I went to them and invited them. When they entered upon him, they sat down. He said: ‘Abu Hurairah, take the bowl and give it to them.’ So, I gave it to a man who drank his fill, then he gave it to another one until it ended up with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), and all of the people had drunk their fill. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) took the bowl, put it on his hand, then raised his head. He smiled and said: ‘Abu Hurairah, drink.’ So, I drank, then he said: ‘Drink.’ I kept drinking and he kept on saying, ‘Drink.’ Then I said: ‘By the One Who sent you with the truth! I have no more space for it.’ So, he took the bowl and praised Allah, mentioned His Name and drank.’”
(قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ – Hadith Hassan Sahih – Tirmidhi)
There is a report from both Ali bin Abi Talib and Abu Hurairah regarding an incident that happened between the Prophet ﷺ and his daughter Fatima. It was mentioned that the housework had become a bit overwhelming for Fatima so he asked her father for a servant that would assist and take some of the load off of her.
The Memory of Abu Hurairah and the Rise of Criticism
As Abu Hurairah progressed in his studies and continued to learn and memorize the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ, he began to receive some criticism, sometimes indirectly from the other companions as well. The main criticism that Abu Hurairah faces until this day is that both the Muhajiroon and Ansar predate him, so why did he end up narrating more ahadeeth? It is important to mention that the concerns some of the Sahaba raised were contextual, genuine and not detrimental to the integrity of Abu Hurairah in the slightest, as we will come to see. Abu Hurairah arrived in Madinah in the month of Safar during the 7th year of the Hijra, which means he spent nearly four years with the Prophet ﷺ. In those four years, Abu Hurairah left Madinah only a few times and stayed firm by the Prophet of Allah. Ibn Kathir collects in his history works that Abu Hurairah was offered some money to start a business but he refused stating that he only wanted to stay with the Prophet ﷺ and learn from him. Many narrations show how meticulous, wise, and thoughtful Abu Hurairah was. The following Ahadeeth illustrates the blessing of memory that Abu Hurairah was granted and also depicts how detail-oriented he was in his questions.
Al Araj narrates:
حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيٌّ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، حَدَّثَنِي الزُّهْرِيُّ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَهُ مِنَ الأَعْرَجِ، يَقُولُ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ تَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ، يُكْثِرُ الْحَدِيثَ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَاللَّهُ الْمَوْعِدُ، إِنِّي كُنْتُ امْرَأً مِسْكِينًا أَلْزَمُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى مِلْءِ بَطْنِي، وَكَانَ الْمُهَاجِرُونَ يَشْغَلُهُمُ الصَّفْقُ بِالأَسْوَاقِ، وَكَانَتِ الأَنْصَارُ يَشْغَلُهُمُ الْقِيَامُ عَلَى أَمْوَالِهِمْ، فَشَهِدْتُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ وَقَالَ “ مَنْ يَبْسُطْ رِدَاءَهُ حَتَّى أَقْضِيَ مَقَالَتِي ثُمَّ يَقْبِضْهُ، فَلَنْ يَنْسَى شَيْئًا سَمِعَهُ مِنِّي ”. فَبَسَطْتُ بُرْدَةً كَانَتْ عَلَىَّ، فَوَالَّذِي بَعَثَهُ بِالْحَقِّ مَا نَسِيتُ شَيْئًا سَمِعْتُهُ مِنْهُ.
Abu Huraira said, “You people claim that Abu Huraira narrates many narrations of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). (Anyhow) with Allah will be our appointment. I was a poor man and used to stick to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) contented with what will fill my stomach, and the Muhajirin (immigrants) used to be busy trading in the markets, and the Ansar used to be busy looking after their properties. One-day I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, ‘Who will spread his Rida’ (a garment covering the upper part of the body) till I finished my speech and then fold it, (i.e. wrap it over your body), in which case he will never forget anything he had heard from me.” So, I spread my garment which I was wearing; and by Him Who sent Muhammad with the Truth, ever since, I have never forgotten whatever I heard from him (the Prophet)” (Sahih Bukhari 735
Abu Hurairah said:
حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ أَبِي شُعَيْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ فُضَيْلٍ، عَنْ عُمَارَةَ، ح وَحَدَّثَنَا أَبُو كَامِلٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَاحِدِ، عَنْ عُمَارَةَ، – الْمَعْنَى – عَنْ أَبِي زُرْعَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا كَبَّرَ فِي الصَّلاَةِ سَكَتَ بَيْنَ التَّكْبِيرِ وَالْقِرَاءَةِ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ بِأَبِي أَنْتَ وَأُمِّي أَرَأَيْتَ سُكُوتَكَ بَيْنَ التَّكْبِيرِ وَالْقِرَاءَةِ أَخْبِرْنِي مَا تَقُولُ . قَالَ “ اللَّهُمَّ بَاعِدْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ خَطَايَاىَ كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ اللَّهُمَّ أَنْقِنِي مِنْ خَطَايَاىَ كَالثَّوْبِ الأَبْيَضِ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ اللَّهُمَّ اغْسِلْنِي بِالثَّلْجِ وَالْمَاءِ وَالْبَرَدِ ” .
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) kept silent between the Takbir and the recitation of the Qur’an. So, I asked him, for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom: What do you say during your period of silence between the Takbir and the recitation? He replied (that he said): O Allah, purify me from sins as a white garment is purified from filth. O Allah, wash away my sins with snow, water and hail (Sunan Abi Dawood 781).
The Prophet ﷺ trusted Abu Hurairah both in learning hadith, and also in the political landscape. He was assigned a public responsibility by the Prophet to serve as an administrator in a delegation to Bahrain. Additionally, during the 9th year of Hijra, the pilgrimage season was a unique one where both Muslims and Pagans performed Hajj together since the conquest of Makkah took place the year before in the 8th year. However, the conditions were that no idol was allowed to be brought into the sacred Ka’bah and Tawaf would have to be performed with appropriate clothing contrary to what the pagans used to practice. Abu Hurairah was asked to make this announcement and also inform the pagans that no disbeliever would be allowed in Makkah the following year. Abu Hurairah went from tent to tent carrying this message from the Prophet ﷺ and telling the people.
Abu Hurairah made sure to accompany the Prophet ﷺ in every expedition and battle that took place during those four years that he accompanied him. From the conquest of Makkah to the march to Tabuk and the expedition of Mu’tah, Abu Hurairah was there serving the deen of Allah with both his blades and his scrolls. Contrary to popular belief, he was among the warriors of the Sahaaba and also has narrations from incidents on the battlefield. Abu Hurairah lived many years after the Prophet ﷺ and was well known for his love of teaching and spreading knowledge. He was relied upon heavily by both Abu Bakr and Umar during their caliphate tenures.
Incidents that took place after the passing of the Prophet ﷺ
During the time of Umar, Abu Hurairah had large gatherings in Masjid An-Nabawi where he would narrate Ahadeeth. Umar ibn Khataab ordered for this gathering to be halted because he wanted the center of attention and efforts to be around the preservation of the Quran. Many secular writers use this incident to discredit Abu Hurairah without relaying the full interaction or story. After many months went by, Umar permitted the gathering of Hadith to resume. In an effort to make his standards known, he posed a question to Abu Hurairah and said, “Were you not with us on this day when we visited the house of this person with the Prophet ﷺ?” Abu Hurairah replied by saying, “Yes I was, and I know exactly why you are asking me this question. It was on that day we heard the Prophet ﷺ day ‘whoever lies about me let him prepare his place in the fire of hell’.’”After this incident, Abu Hurairah was given permission by Umar to narrate hadith in the grand mosque of Madinah. Umar did not doubt Abu Hurairah, he just wanted to make sure the standard was high.
Another incident that occurred that the criticizers of Abu Hurairah highlight is a discussion that happened between Abu Hurairah and Ibn Umar. It was said that Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah disagreed on whether or not there was a specific reward for attending the funeral prayer. Abu Hurairah claimed that he heard the Prophet ﷺ say “Whoever follows a Janazah until the prayer is offered, he will have one Qirat of reward and whoever walks with the funeral until (the body) is buried will have two Qirat of reward, and a Qirat is like Uhud.” Ibn Umar said that Abu Hurairah was narrating too many Ahadeeth because he never heard of that narration before. Abu Hurairah went to Aisha to confirm and she validated the narration in which Ibn Umar responded by saying, “If that is the case then you were the one who stuck with the Prophet ﷺ more than all of us and you are more knowledgeable of his hadith than us.”
To add to this, many of the Sahaba used Abu Hurairah as their “Tazkiya” or authentic reference whenever they wanted to prove a point or make a matter clear because of his very strong memory and love of the truth. For example:
It was narrated that Sa’eed bin Al-Musayyab said:
أَخْبَرَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ، قَالَ مَرَّ عُمَرُ بِحَسَّانَ بْنِ ثَابِتٍ وَهُوَ يُنْشِدُ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ فَلَحَظَ إِلَيْهِ فَقَالَ قَدْ أَنْشَدْتُ وَفِيهِ مَنْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِنْكَ ثُمَّ الْتَفَتَ إِلَى أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ فَقَالَ أَسَمِعْتَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ أَجِبْ عَنِّي اللَّهُمَّ أَيِّدْهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ ” . قَالَ اللَّهُمَّ نَعَمْ .
“Umar passed by Hassan bin Thabit while he was reciting poetry in the Masjid and glared at him. He said: ‘I recited poetry when there was someone better than you in the Masjid.’ Then he turned to Abu Hurairah and said: ‘Did you not hear the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) when he said: “Answer back on my behalf. O Allah, help him with the Holy Spirit!'” He said: ‘Yes, by Allah.'” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 716)
Abu Hurairah lived a long life and after giving up his political post as governor in modern-day Bahrain, he was appointed as the permanent scholar and professor at the grand mosque in Madinah where he went on to teach and narrate hadith for the next 30 years. #HadithDiciple
A Remarkable Story
The first recorded examination to test the reliability of a narrator was conducted by Marwan ibn Al-Hakam, the governor of Madinah during the time of Mu’awiyah. Marwan set up an exam to test Abu Hurairah after hearing that he had large halaqaat with many students taking hadith from him. These types of tests were common during the later generation of hadith compilation after the Sahaba, however for a Sahabi to be tested was very rare. Marwan set up a meeting with Abu Hurairah and brought a scribe with him whose presence was hidden and not made known to Abu Hurairah. Marwan asked Abu Hurairah to mention a series of ahadeeth pertaining to a specific topic. The scribe wrote down everything Abu Hurairah said, and the meeting was adjourned. The next year Marwan called for the same meeting and brought the same scribe who again was hidden from Abu Hurairah. The same question was asked about the same topic and Abu Hurairah did not fold and began to narrate, may Allah swt be pleased with him. The scribe did not have to write a single narration for indeed Abu Hurairah uttered exactly what was written on the scroll of the scribe from the previous year.
Cool Facts about Abu Hurairah:
- Almost every single Muslim knows Abu Hurairah (See Favorite Hadith to see why)
- Abu Hurairah led the Janazah prayer for both Aisha bint Abubakr and Umu Salamah
- The Prophet ﷺ made a special dua for him which enhanced his memory and knowledge
- Abu Hurairah belongs to the tribe of Ad-Daws which was the first tribe to offer the Prophet ﷺ a safe and unconditional refuge, even before the Ansar
- Abu Hurairah is known as the primary collector of Hadith and the defender of the Sunnah
- If we logically calculate how many Ahaadith Abu Hurairah narrated and divide it by the number of days he stayed with the Prophet ﷺ, it comes down to about two hadith per day. This is not a large or undoable number, as some critics try to explain.
- Abu Huraira narrated the most Ahadeeth and is 1st on every single all-time list present – and it’s not even a close competition. There are 5,400 Ahadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah in the Musnad of Baqi ibn Maqlad, who was a contemporary of Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal. That collection was lost as was much of the history of Andalus. Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal has 3,400 Ahadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah in his Musnad.
- Abu Hurairah is of the 7 Mukthiroon (Those who narrated in abundance and whose narrations exceeded 1,000)
- Abu Hurairah said he used to divide his night into three categories. (1/3 for sleep, 1/3 for Salah, 1/3 for revision and training)
- Abu Hurairah said if it was not for 2 verses in the Quran, I would not have narrated a single hadith to you. One of these verses is verse 159 of Surah Baqarah where Allah swt says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَى مِن بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ أُولَئِكَ يَلعَنُهُمُ اللّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ
Those who hide the clear proofs and guidance that We have revealed after We made it clear for humanity in the Book will be condemned by Allah and all those who condemn.
- From the Students of Abu Hurairah were Muhammed ibn Sireen, Sa’eed ibn Al-Musayab and Hammam ibn Munabih
- Abu Hurairah was of the few people who were allowed to give Fatwa in Madinah. Others included Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar
- During the raid of the Khawarij, Abu Hurairah was one of the defenders of Uthmaan and even physically protected him
- Abu Hurairah got married later on and had four children. Of them is Bilal ibn Abu Hurairah and Muharir ibn Abu Hurairah
- Abu Hurairah married his daughter to one of his most studious students, Muhammed ibn Sireen.
Favourite Hadith reported by Abu Hurairah:
Abu Huraira reported:
حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرٌو النَّاقِدُ، حَدَّثَنَا عُمَرُ بْنُ يُونُسَ الْيَمَامِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عِكْرِمَةُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ، عَنْ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، يَزِيدَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ كُنْتُ أَدْعُو أُمِّي إِلَى الإِسْلاَمِ وَهِيَ مُشْرِكَةٌ فَدَعَوْتُهَا يَوْمًا فَأَسْمَعَتْنِي فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مَا أَكْرَهُ فَأَتَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَنَا أَبْكِي قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي كُنْتُ أَدْعُو أُمِّي إِلَى الإِسْلاَمِ فَتَأْبَى عَلَىَّ فَدَعَوْتُهَا الْيَوْمَ فَأَسْمَعَتْنِي فِيكَ مَا أَكْرَهُ فَادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يَهْدِيَ أُمَّ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ أُمَّ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ” . فَخَرَجْتُ مُسْتَبْشِرًا بِدَعْوَةِ نَبِيِّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَمَّا جِئْتُ فَصِرْتُ إِلَى الْبَابِ فَإِذَا هُوَ مُجَافٌ فَسَمِعَتْ أُمِّي خَشْفَ قَدَمَىَّ فَقَالَتْ مَكَانَكَ يَا أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ . وَسَمِعْتُ خَضْخَضَةَ الْمَاءِ قَالَ – فَاغْتَسَلَتْ وَلَبِسَتْ دِرْعَهَا وَعَجِلَتْ عَنْ خِمَارِهَا فَفَتَحَتِ الْبَابَ ثُمَّ قَالَتْ يَا أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ – قَالَ – فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَتَيْتُهُ وَأَنَا أَبْكِي مِنَ الْفَرَحِ – قَالَ – قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَبْشِرْ قَدِ اسْتَجَابَ اللَّهُ دَعْوَتَكَ وَهَدَى أُمَّ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ . فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ وَقَالَ خَيْرًا – قَالَ – قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُحَبِّبَنِي أَنَا وَأُمِّي إِلَى عِبَادِهِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَيُحَبِّبَهُمْ إِلَيْنَا – قَالَ – فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” اللَّهُمَّ حَبِّبْ عُبَيْدَكَ هَذَا – يَعْنِي أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ وَأُمَّهُ – إِلَى عِبَادِكَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَحَبِّبْ إِلَيْهِمُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ” . فَمَا خُلِقَ مُؤْمِنٌ يَسْمَعُ بِي وَلاَ يَرَانِي إِلاَّ أَحَبَّنِي
I invited my mother, who was a polytheist, to Islam. I invited her one day and she said to me something about Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) which I hated. I came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) weeping and said: Allah’s Messenger, I invited my mother to Islam, but she did not accept (my invitation). I invited her today, but she said to me something which I did not like. (Kindly) supplicate Allah that He may set the mother of Abu Huraira right. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: O Allah, set the mother of Abu Huraira on the right path. I came out quite pleased with the supplication of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) and when I came near the door it was closed from within. My mother heard the noise of my footsteps and she said: Abu Huraira, just wait. And I heard the noise of falling of water. She took a bath and put on the shirt and quickly covered her head with a headdress and opened the door and then said: Abu Huraira, I bear witness to the fact that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His bondsman and His Messenger. He (Abu Huraira) said: I went back to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and (this time) I was shedding the tears of joy. I said: Allah’s Messenger, be happy, for Allah has responded to your supplication and He has set on the right path the mother of Abu Huraira. He (the Holy Prophet) praised Allah and extolled Him and uttered good words. I said: Allah’s Messenger, supplicate to Allah so that He may instill love of mine and that of my mother too in the believing servants and let our hearts be filled with their love, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: O Allah, let there be love of these servants of yours, i.e. Abu Huraira and his mother, in the hearts of the believing servants and let their hearts be filled with the love of the believing servants. (Abu Huraira said: This prayer) was so well granted by Allah that no believer was ever born who heard of me and who saw me but did not love me.