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Suhaib ar-Raumi - quite a gem!

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    Suhaib ar-Raumi - quite a gem!

    Salaam

    I found this in my inbox and thought of sharing it.

    ----------------

    About twenty years before the start of the Prophet’s mission, that is
    about
    the middle of the sixth century CE, an Arab named Sinan ibn Malik
    governed
    the city of al-Uballah on behalf of the Persian emperor. The city,
    which is
    now part of Basrah, lay on the banks of the Euprates River. Sinan lived
    in a
    luxurious palace on the banks of the river. He had several children and
    was
    particularly fond of one of them who was then barely five years old.
    His
    name was Suhayb. He was blond and fair complexioned. He was active and
    alert
    and gave much pleasure to his father.

    One day Suhayb’s mother took him and some members of her household to a
    village called ath-Thani for a picnic. What was to be a relaxing and
    enjoyable day turned out to be a terrifying experience that was to
    change
    the course of young Suhayb’s life forever.

    That day, a raiding party of Byzantine soldiers attacked the village of
    ath-Thani. The guards accompanying the picnic party were overwhelmed
    and
    killed. All possessions were seized and a large number of persons were
    taken
    prisoner. Among these was Suhayb ibn Sinan.

    Suhayb was taken to one of the slave markets of the Byzantine Empire,
    the
    capital of which was Constantinople, there to be sold. Thereafter he
    passed
    from the hands of one slave master to another. His fate was no
    different
    from thousands of other slaves who filled the houses, the palaces and
    castles of Byzantine rulers and aristocrats.

    Suhayb spent his boyhood and his youth as a slave. For about twenty
    years he
    stayed in Byzantine lands. This gave him the opportunity to get a rare
    knowledge and understanding of Byzantine/ire society. In the palaces of
    the
    aristocracy, he saw with his own eyes the injustices and the corruption
    of
    Byzantine life. He detested that society and later would say to himself
    “A
    society like this can only be purified by a deluge”. Suhayb of course
    grew
    up speaking Greek, the language of the Byzantine Empire. He practically
    forgot Arabic. But he never forgot that he was a son of the desert. He
    longed for the day when he would be free again to join his people’s
    folk. At
    the first opportunity Suhayb escaped from the bondage and headed
    straight
    for Makkah, which was a place of refuge or asylum. There people called
    him
    Suhayb “ar-Rumi” or “the Byzantine” because of his peculiarly heavy
    speech
    and his blond hair. He became the halif of one of the aristocrats of
    Makkah,
    Abdullah ibn Judan. He engaged in trade and prospered. In fact, he
    became
    quite rich.

    One day he returned to Makkah from one of his trading journeys. He was
    told
    that Muhammad the son of Abdullah had begun calling people to believe
    in God
    alone, commanding them to be just and to do good works and prohibiting
    them
    from shameful and reprehensible deeds. He immediately enquired who
    Muhammad
    was and where he stayed. He was told.

    “(He stays) in the house of al-Arqam ibn Abi al-Arqam. Be careful
    however
    that no Quraysh sees you. If they see you they would do (the most
    terrible
    things to you). You are a stranger here and there is no bond of
    asabiyyahi
    to protect you, neither have you any clan to help you”.

    Suhayb went cautiously to the house of al-Arqam. At the door he found
    Ammar
    ibn Yasir the young son of a Yemeni father who was known to him. He
    hesitated for a moment then went up to Ammar and said “What do you want
    (here), Ammar?”.

    “Rather, what d you want here?” countered Ammar.

    “I want to go to this man and hear directly from him what he is
    saying”.

    “I also want to do that. Then let us enter together, ala barakatallah
    (with
    the blessings of God)”.

    Suhayb and Ammar entered and listened to what Muhammad was saying. They
    were
    both readily convinced of the truth of his message. The light of faith
    entered their hearts. At this meeting, they pledged fealty to the
    Prophet
    declaring that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger
    of
    Allah. They spent the entire day in the company of the noble Prophet.
    At
    night, under cover of darkness, they left the house of al-Arqam, their
    hears
    aglow with the light of faith and their faces beaming with happiness.

    Then the familiar pattern of events followed. The idolatrous Quraysh
    learnt
    about Suhayb’s acceptance of Islam and began harassing and persecuting
    him.
    Suhayb bore his share of the persecution in the same way as Bilal,
    Ammar and
    his mother Sumayyah, Khabbab and many others who professed Islam. The
    punishment was inhuman and severe but Suhayb bore it all with a patient
    and
    courageous heart because he knew that the path to Jannah is paved with
    thorns and difficulties. The teaching of the noble Prophet had
    instilled in
    him and other companions a rare strength and courage.

    When the Prophet gave permission for his followers to migrate to
    Madinah,
    Suhayb resolved to go in the company of the Prophet and Abu Bakr. The
    Quraysh however found out about his intentions and foiled his plans.
    They
    placed guards over him to prevent him from leaving and taking with him
    the
    wealth, the gold and the silver, which he had acquired through trade.

    After the departure of the Prophet and Abu Bakr, Suhayb continued to
    bide
    his time, waiting for an opportunity to join them. He remained
    unsuccessful.
    The eyes of his guards were ever alert and watchful. The only way out
    was to
    resort to a stratagem.

    One cold night, Suhayb pretended he had some stomach problems and went
    out
    repeatedly as if responding to calls of nature. His captors said to one
    another “Don’t worry. Al-Laat and al-Uzza are keeping him busy with his
    stomach”.

    They became relaxed and sleep got the better of them. Suhayb quietly
    slipped
    out as if he was going to the toilet. He armed himself, got ready a
    mount
    and headed in the direction of Madinah.

    When his captors awoke, they realised with a start that Suhayb was
    gone. The
    got horses ready and set out in hot pursuit and eventually caught up
    with
    him. Seeing them approach, Suhayb clambered up a hill. Holding his bow
    and
    arrow at the ready, he shouted “Men of Quraysh! You know by God, that I
    am
    one of the best archers and my aim is unerring. By God, if you come
    near me,
    with each arrow I have, I shall kill one of you. Then I shall strike
    with my
    sword”.

    A Quraysh spokesman responded “By God, we shall not let you escape from
    us
    with your life and money. You came to Makkah weak and poor and you have
    acquired what you have acquired”.

    “What would you say if I leave you my wealth?”, interrupted Suhayb.
    “Would
    you get out of my way?”.

    “Yes”, they agreed.

    Suhayb described the place in his house in Makkah where he had left the
    money, and they allowed him to go.

    He set off as quickly as he could for Madinah cherishing the prospect
    of
    being with the Prophet and of having the freedom to worship God in
    peace. On
    his way to Madinah, whenever he felt tired, the thought of meeting the
    Prophet sustained him and he proceeded with increased determination.
    When
    Suhayb reached Quba, just outside Madinah where the Prophet himself
    alighted
    after his Hijrah, the Prophet saw him approaching. He was overjoyed and
    greeted Suhayb with beaming smiles.

    “Your transaction has been fruitful, O Abu Yahya. Your transaction has
    been
    fruitful”. He repeated this three times. Suhayb’s face beamed with
    happiness
    as he said “By God, no one has come before me to you, Messenger of God,
    and
    only Jibril could have told you about this”. Yes indeed! Suhayb’s
    transaction was fruitful. Revelation from on high affirmed the truth of
    this:

    “And there is a type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of
    God.
    And God is full of kindness to His servants.”
    (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2:207)

    What is money and what is gold and what is the entire world so long as
    faith
    remains! The Prophet loved Suhayb a great deal. He was commended by the
    Prophet and described as preceding the Byzantines to Islam. In addition
    to
    his piety and sobriety, Suhayb was also light-hearted at times and had
    a
    good sense of humour. One day the Prophet saw him eating dates. He
    noticed
    that Suhayb had an infection in one eye. The Prophet said to him
    laughingly
    “Do you eat ripe dates while you have an infection in one eye?”

    “What’s wrong?”, replied Suhayb, “I am eating it with the other eye.”

    Suhayb was also known for his generosity. He used to give all his
    stipend
    from the public treasury fisabilillah, to help the poor and those in
    distress. He was a good example of the Quranic verse “He gives food for
    the
    love of God to the needy, the orphan and the captive.” So generous was
    he
    that Umar once remarked “I have seen you giving out so much food that
    you
    appear to be too extravagant.” Suhayb replied “I have heard the
    Messenger of
    God say ‘The best of you is the one who gives out food.’”

    Suhayb’s piety and his standing among Muslims was so high that he was
    selected by Umar ibn al-Khattab to lead the Muslims in the period
    between
    his death and the choosing of his successor.

    As he lay dying after he was stabbed by a Magian, Abu Lulu, while
    leading
    the Fajr Salat, Umar summoned six of the companions: Uthman, Ali,
    Talhah,
    Zubayr, Abdur Rahman ibn Awl, and Sad ibn Abi Waqqas. He did not
    appoint
    anyone of them as his successor, because if he had done so according to
    one
    report "there would have been for a short time two Khalifahs looking at
    each
    other". He instructed the six to consult among themselves and with the
    Muslims for three days and choose a successor, and then he said:

    "Wa-l yusalli bi-n nas Suhayb - Let Suhayb lead the people in Salat."

    In the period when there was no Khalifah, Suhayb was given the
    responsibility and the honor of leading the Salat and of being, in
    other
    words, the head of the Muslim community.

    Suhayb's appointment by Umar showed how well people from a wide variety
    of
    backgrounds were integrated and honoured in the community of Islam.
    Once
    during the time of the Prophet, a hypocrite named Qays ibn Mutatiyah
    tried
    to pour scorn and disgrace on sections of the community. Qays had come
    upon
    a study circle (halqah) in which were Salman al-Farsi, Suhayb ar-Rumi
    and
    Bilal al-Habashi, may God be pleased with them, and remarked:

    "The Aws and the Khazraj have stood up in defence of this man
    (Muhammad).
    And what are these people doing with him?" Muadh was furious and
    informed
    the Prophet of what Qays had said. The Prophet was very angry. He
    entered
    the mosque and the Call to Prayer was given, for this was the method of
    summoning the Muslims for an important announcement. Then he stood up,
    praised and glorified God and said:

    "Your Lord is One. Your ancestor is one. Your religion is one. Take
    heed.
    Arabism is not conferred on you through your mother or father. It is
    through
    the tongue (i.e. the language of Arabic), so whoever speaks Arabic, he
    is an
    Arab."

    ------------------
    "No leaf falls except that He knows of it, and no rain drop forms except that He has willed it."
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