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Dr. Ali Selman Benoist, Ex-Catholic, France

As a Doctor of Medicine, and a descendant of a French Catholic family, the very choice of my profession has given me a solid scientific culture which had prepared me very little for a mystic life. Not that I did not believe in God, but that the dogmas and rites of Christianity in general and of Catholicism in particular never permitted me to feel His presence. Thus my unitary sentiment for God forbade my accepting the dogma of the Trinity, and consequently of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Without yet knowing Islam, I was already believing in the first part of the Kalima, La ilah illa ‘Allah (There is no deity but Allah), and in these verses of the Quran:

“Say: He, the God, is One; God the Self-Sufficient Master; He neither begets, nor was He begotten; and there is none equal to Him.” (Quran 112:1-4)

So, it was first of all for metaphysical reasons that I adhered to Islam. Other reasons, too, prompted me to do that. For instance, my refusal to accept Catholic priests, who, more or less, claim to possess on behalf of God the power of forgiving the sins of men. Further, I could never admit the Catholic rite of Communion, by means of the host (or holy bread), representing the body of Jesus Christ, a rite which seems to me to belong to [totemic] practices of primitive peoples, where the body of the ancestral totem, the taboo of the living ones, had to be consumed after his death, in order better to assimilate his personality. Another point which moved me away from Christianity was the absolute silence which it maintains regarding bodily cleanliness, particularly before prayers, which has always seemed to me to be an outrage against God. For if He has given us a soul, He has also given us a body, which we have no right to neglect. The same silence could be observed, and this time mixed with hostility with regard to the physiological life of the human being, whereas on this point Islam seemed to me to be the only religion in accord with human nature.

The essential and definite element of my conversion to Islam was the Quran. I began to study it, before my conversion, with the critical spirit of a Western intellectual, and I owe much to the magnificent work of Mr. Malek Bennabi, entitled Le Phenomene Coranique, which convinced me of its being divinely revealed. There are certain verses of this book, the Quran, revealed more than thirteen centuries ago, which teach exactly the same notions as the most modern scientific researchers do. This definitely convinced me, and converted me to the second part of the Kalima, ‘Muhammad Rasul ‘Allah’ (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).

This was my reason for presenting myself on 20th February 1953 at the mosque in Paris, where I declared my faith in Islam and was registered there as a Muslim by the Mufti of the Paris Mosque, and was given the Islamic name of ‘Ali Selman’.

I am very happy in my new faith, and proclaim once again:

“I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and Messenger.”

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Hazrat Ali (Son Of Abu Talib) : The Early Years

Ali “Ibn” (son of) Abu Talib was the young cousin of Prophet Muhammad. This child, who greatly admired his older cousin, grew into a noble warrior for Islam, a knowledgeable judge, a remarkable exegete of Quran and a righteous leader of the Muslim nation.

Ali was born in Mecca around the year 600 CE. His father was Abu Talib, Prophet Muhammad’s uncle and staunch supporter. When Ali was a young child, a great famine ravaged the area around Mecca, food was scarce, and many families were unable to feed and clothe their children. Muhammad, who was not yet a prophet, offered to nurture and care for his young cousin. Consequently, Ali was raised by Muhammad and his first wife Khadijah. Ali adored his older cousin and followed him around copying Muhammad’s actions. As he grew older, Ali also began to emulate Muhammad’s noble ways.

When Ali was around 10 years of age, Muhammad received the first revelations of the Holy Quran from God Almighty. Ali was there with his cousin when Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, revealed to his family that he had been called to be the Messenger of God. It is said that Ali witnessed Mohammad and Khadijah praying to God and that he asked about what he had seen. As soon as Prophet Muhammad explained the message of Islam to his young cousin, Ali accepted it as the truth. However, before he embraced Islam he thought deeply about what his father’s reaction would be. The next morning Ali testified that there was no god worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad was His messenger. Ali has the honour of being the first child to accept Islam.

Some scholars of Islam believe that Ali may have been older then 10 years when he accepted Islam, therefore you may read in various texts that Ali was the first youth to embrace Islam. Nevertheless, Ali’s age is not of primary importance, what counts the most is that he was a bright and clever young man, eager to learn and eager to worship God in the correct manner. Many scholars point out that Ali was one of many young men and women around the Prophet Muhammad who had never been initiated into the idolatrous rituals of the pre Islamic Arabs. Ali never prostrated before anything or anyone but God.

Ali spent his childhood with Fatima, the youngest daughter of Mohammad and Khadijah. Some years later when the Muslim community had migrated from Mecca to the city of Medina Ali went to Prophet Muhammad and proposed marriage to Fatima.

Ali however was upset by the fact that he was very poor and had nothing of value to present to Fatima as a bridal gift. Prophet Muhammad reminded him that he had a shield, to sell. Ali sold the shield to Uthman ibn Affan and was about to run excitedly back to the Prophet when Uthman stopped him and returned his shield, offering it as a marriage gift to Ali and Fatima. It is believed that Fatima and Ali were in their middle to late teens when Prophet Muhammad himself performed their marriage ceremony.

The young boy who had followed his older cousin around like a shadow had grown into a noble young warrior. When God revealed the verse, “and warn your tribe. O Muhammad.” (Quran 26:214) Prophet Muhammad invited all his relatives for a meal; after they had eaten he addressed them and asked who from his family would join him in God’s cause? None had the courage to answer but a boy in his early teens. Ali was that boy and he stood tall in the face of laughter and derision and expressed his desire to help Prophet Muhammad in whatever way he could be of service. In the difficult times that lay ahead, Ali stood firm, and repeatedly demonstrated his courage and love for God and His Messenger.

When the disbelievers of Mecca planned to kill Prophet Muhammad, it became necessary for him and Abu Bakr to leave Mecca under the cover of darkness. As they walked into the desert night it was the teenager Ali who slept in Muhammad’s bed, knowing that at any minute there could be assassins attempting to murder him. Ali survived the night, and in the coming days, he returned the valuables that had been left in trust with Prophet Muhammad, to their rightful owners. Prophet Muhammad considered his young cousin to be amongst the bravest, trustworthy and pious of his companions. Soon afterwards, Ali joined his beloved cousin in Medina.

Prophet Muhammad so cherished his young cousin he called him by many fond and endearing names. The name that Ali treasured most was Abu Turab (Father of Dust). Once when Ali was sleeping in the mosque courtyard, his back became covered with dust. Prophet Muhammad approached him, pulled him to his feet, and wiped the dust of his back, laughingly calling him Abu Turab. Prophet Muhammad also called Ali Haidarah (the lion). Prophet Muhammad’s young shadow grew into a respected warrior for Islam.

Ali was the fourth rightly guided Caliph. He followed in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Omar, and Uthman, and ruled the Muslim Empire, according to the divinely revealed law of God, from approximately 656 to 661 CE. Ali was the young cousin and son in law of Prophet Muhammad. He spent his childhood emulating the noble character of his beloved cousin, and his youth learning the details of Islam. Ali grew into a noble warrior; physically strong and assertive but with a humble heart, filled with love for God and His messenger Muhammad. Muslims remember Ali for his courage, his honesty, his generous and kind behaviour towards others, and his unswerving devotion to Islam.

After the migration to Medina, Ali married his childhood companion Fatima, daughter of Prophet Muhammad. The young couple led a simple and austere life, for Ali did not care for material wealth, rather he was focused on pleasing God and attaining everlasting life in the hereafter. They had no servants or slaves. Ali drew and carried water and Fatima would grind the corn until her hands were rough and sore. Once when the young couple approached Prophet Muhammad asking for a servant he rebuked them by saying that he could not give them such luxuries when hungry poor people filled the mosque. Ali and Fatima returned home feeling quite dejected.

That evening Prophet Muhammad visited Ali and Fatima in their home. He sat on the edge of their bed and taught them words of remembrance with which to praise God. He assured them that remembering God would be more beneficial for them than a servant or slave to ease their workload. Ali never forgot the words of advice given to him that night, later in his life he said that not a night passed that he did not recite those words before sleeping. Ali and his family went to great lengths to please God, often they would go hungry themselves giving away all their food to people poorer than themselves. Ali’s generosity new no bounds, he treated everyone, friend or foe, with respect and kindness.

Imam (Scholar) Ahmad described Ali as one of the most virtuous of Prophet Muhammad’s companions and Ali was known to be amongst the Prophet’s most staunch supporters. Ali deservedly became known as a strong warrior and he distinguished himself in the crucial first battle against the unbelieving men of Mecca, known as the Battle of Badr. The young lion of God participated in all the battles fought in the early days of Islam except on one occasion. It is reported in the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad that during the battle of Khaybar Prophet Muhammad bestowed a great honour on his young cousin.

Prophet Muhammad informed his companions “tomorrow I shall give the standard (flag) to a man who loves God and His Messenger and is also loved by God and His Messenger, he does not flee the battlefield, and God will bring about victory through him”. The companions of Prophet Muhammad spent the night wondering who the flag would be handed too. Omar Ibn Al Khattab is believed to have said that it was the only time he longed for leadership, but this particular honour belonged to Ali.

After Uthman Ibn Affan was murdered in the service of the Muslim nation, Ali was chosen as the fourth of those known as the rightly guided Caliphs. Many Muslims were eager for Ali to take on leadership but Ali was concerned that already the seeds of rebelliousness were being sewn among the believers. He hesitated until some of the companions who had been closest to Prophet Muhammad urged him on and gave him their support. The events surrounding Uthman’s murder had flung the young Muslim nation into a period that became known as the “time of tribulation”. Ali began and ended his Caliphate in times of trial and tribulation however; he remained true to his convictions and ruled in a manner that befitted the child who learned his morals and values at the feet of the Prophet Muhammad.

Ali was a profoundly religious man; he was devoted to Islam and strove in his daily life and his position as leader to uphold the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad. War broke out amongst the Muslims and Ali found himself attempting to lead a nation beset with rebellion and in fighting. Throughout this time of civil strife and war, Ali was ever mindful of the great task that lay before him. He was responsible for the people of the Muslim nation.

At this point is must be clearly noted that Ali and Uthman were brothers in Islam, both devoted too God, His messenger Muhammad and the religion of Islam. Both ruled the Muslim nation with humble hearts, austerity, and piety. However, their world was changing in dramatic ways and some of their actions were difficult to understand then and now. However, in retrospect it is clear that their love for Islam and desire for the hereafter for all the believers was never in question Ali remained noble, courageous, and generous. Even in perilous times, he forgave his enemies and wanted only unity for the Muslim nation.

Ali was murdered with a poisoned arrow. The assassin, who struck while Ali was praying in the mosque, brought to an end the life of the lion of God and the era of the four rightly Guided Caliphs. Abu Bakr, Omar Ibn al Khattab, Uthman Ibn Affan, and Ali Ibn Abu Talib were men of noble statue and high moral fibre, they ruled with the Quran and the lessons taught to them by Prophet Muhammad. Sadly, the world is unlikely to see men such as these again before the end of days.


Uthman ibn Affan (RA)

Election of Uthman
Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, was stabbed by a Persian slave Abu Lu’lu’ah, a Persian Magian, while leading the Fajr Prayer. As Umar was lying on his death bed, the people around him asked him to appoint a successor. Umar appointed a committee of six people to choose the next caliph from among themselves.

This committee comprised Ali ibn Abi Talib, Uthman ibn Affan, Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf, Sad ibn Abi Waqqas, Az-Zubayr ibn Al-Awam, and Talhah ibn Ubayd Allah, who were among the most eminent Companions of the Prophet, may God send His praises upon him, and who had received in their lifetime the tidings of Paradise.

The instructions of Umar were that the Election Committee should choose the successor within three days, and he should assume office on the fourth day. As two days passed by without a decision, the members felt anxious that the time was running out fast, and still no solution to the problem appeared to be in sight. Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf offered to forgo his own claim if others agreed to abide by his decision. All agreed to let Abdur-Rahman choose the new caliph. He interviewed each nominee and went about Medinah asking the people for their choice. He finally selected Uthman as the new caliph, as the majority of the people chose him.

His Life as a Caliph
Uthman led a simple life even after becoming the leader of the Islamic state. It would have been easy for a successful businessman such as him to lead a luxurious life, but he never aimed at leading such in this world. His only aim was to taste the pleasure of the hereafter, as he knew that this world is a test and temporary. Uthman’s generosity continued after he became caliph.

The caliphs were paid for their services from the treasury, but Uthman never took any salary for his service to Islam. Not only this, he also developed a custom to free slaves every Friday, look after widows and orphans, and give unlimited charity. His patience and endurance were among the characteristics that made him a successful leader.

Uthman achieved much during his reign. He pushed forward with the pacification of Persia, continued to defend the Muslim state against the Byzantines, added what is now Libya to the empire, and subjugated most of Armenia. Uthman also, through his cousin Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, the governor of Syria, established an Arab navy which fought a series of important engagements with the Byzantines.

Of much greater importance to Islam, however, was Uthman’s compilation of the text of the Quran as revealed to the Prophet. Realizing that the original message from God might be inadvertently distorted by textual variants, he appointed a committee to collect the canonical verses and destroy the variant recensions. The result was the text that is accepted to this day throughout the Muslim world.

Opposition and the End
During his caliphate, Uthman faced much of hostility from new, nominal Muslims in newly Islamic lands, who started to accuse him of not following the example Prophet and the preceding caliphs in matters concerning governance. However, the Companions of the Prophet always defended him. These accusations never changed him. He remained persistent to be a merciful governor. Even during the time when his foes attacked him, he did not use the treasury funds to shield his house or himself. As envisaged by Prophet Muhammad, Uthman’s enemies relentlessly made his governing difficult by constantly opposing and accusing him. His opponents finally plotted against him, surrounded his house, and encouraged people to kill him.

Many of his advisors asked him to stop the assault but he did not, until he was killed while reciting the Quran exactly as the Prophet had predicted. Uthman died as a martyr.

Anas ibn Malik narrated the following:

“The Prophet once climbed the mountain of Uhud with Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. The mountain shook with them. The Prophet said (to the mountain), ‘Be firm, O Uhud! For on you there is a Prophet, an early truthful supporter of mine, and two martyrs.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhari)


‘If I had taken anyone as my closest friend I would have taken Abu Bakr, but he is my brother and companion.’[1] These are the words of Prophet Muhammad, may God shower him with praises, and Abu Bakr was his closest earthly companion. Abu Bakr was known as As Siddeeq (the truthful). The Arabic word Siddeeq implies more than lack of deceit; it indicates a person in a constant state of truthfulness. One who recognises the truth and adheres to it. The word Siddeeq implies truthfulness to one’s self, those around us and most importantly to God. Abu Bakr was such a man.

Prophet Muhammad showed his great love and respect for Abu Bakr by associating him with the concept of the “closest friend”. In Arabic, the word used is khaleel and it denotes more than friendship, rather a heartfelt closeness with an unbreakable connection. Prophet Abraham was known as the khaleel of God, and Prophet Muhammad himself reserved this word for his relationship with God, but his connection with Abu Bakr involved a special rapport.

The sayings of Prophet Muhammad and the history of Islam tell us that Abu Bakr was born a little over two years after Prophet Muhammad, and that both were born into the tribe of Quraish, although into different clans. Abu Bakr was born into a reasonably well off family and established himself as a successful trader and merchant. He was a likeable, approachable man who had a large social network.

Abu Bakr loved to talk and communicate with all those around him and was an expert in Arab genealogy. He knew the names and locations of all the Arab tribes and understood their good and bad qualities. It was this knowledge that allowed him to mix easily with many diverse people and command a great deal of influence in Meccan society.

When Prophet Muhammad married his first wife Khadijah, he and Abu Bakr became neighbours and found that they shared many of the same characteristics. Both men were traders, and both conducted their affairs with honesty and integrity.

Both Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr avoided the vice and corruption that abounded in pre-Islamic Arabia and both avoided idolatry. They recognised each other as kindred spirits and struck up a lifelong friendship.

The First
Abu Bakr As Siddeeq was the first person to heed Prophet Muhammad’s message and enter into Islam. When he heard Prophet Mohammad say that there was nothing worthy of worship but God and that he (Muhammad) was the messenger of God, Abu Bakr accepted Islam without any reservations. For everybody else who comes to Islam or rekindles lost faith, there is an obstacle, a moment of hesitation, but not for Abu Bakr. The sweetness of faith entered his heart and the one known as the truthful, recognised the truth.

In the early days when the message was first revealed, Prophet Muhammad called the people around him to Islam in secret. Prophet Muhammad knew that his message would shock and dismay the Meccans who were deeply entrenched in ignorance. He wanted to build a band of followers who would slowly deliver the message, spreading out in ever-increasing circles. When there were 38 Muslims, Abu Bakr went to his beloved friend Prophet Muhammad and said he wanted to proclaim the message in public.

Prophet Muhammad refused, thinking the numbers to small to risk exposure. Abu Bakr insisted and kept mentioning this to his companion. When Prophet Muhammad was ordered by God to make his message public, he and Abu Bakr made their way to the Kaaba (the house of God in the centre of Mecca). Abu Bakr stood up and proclaimed in a loud voice, “There is none worthy of worship but God, and Muhammad is his slave and messenger”. Abu Bakr was the first public speaker for Islam.

When Prophet Muhammad died the Muslims were devastated, some even refused to accept the truth. Their hearts were broken. Although overwhelmed by grief, Abu Bakr addressed the people, he praised and glorified God and said, “Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped God, then God is Ever-living and shall never die.”[2] He then recited verses from Quran.

“(O Muhammad) Verily you will die, and they also will die.” (Quran 39:30)

“Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to God, and God will give reward to those who are grateful. (Quran 3:144)

During this great crisis, the devastated Muslims chose Abu Bakr as their leader. He was the first Caliph (leader of the Muslims).

Prophet Muhammad’s nephew, Ali ibn Abu Talib, praised Abu Bakr as the first person to enter Islam and the first to perform any good deeds.[3] In Islam, competing with one another to do good deeds is not only acceptable but also encouraged. Prophet Muhammad exhorted his followers to behave easily in the affairs of this world, but to race with one another towards everlasting life in Paradise. Muslim historian, At Tabarani, quotes righteous companion Ibn Abbas as saying, “Abu Bakr…..excelled all the companions of Prophet Muhammad in piety and righteousness, renunciation of worldly goods and reliance upon God.” From the sayings of Prophet Muhammad we learn that Abu Bakr will be the first person to enter Paradise after the Prophets of God.[4] Abu Bakr – the first!

Prophet Muhammad, may God shower him with praises, and his close companion Abu Bakr were less then three years apart in age. Both were born into the same Arab tribe, Quraish, but were from different clans. Most of Prophet Muhammad’s early life was spent in relative poverty while Abu Bakr came from a reasonably well off family. Both men lived and behaved in a quiet and dignified manner and both men had shunned idolatry all of their lives. When Prophet Muhammad received his mission to spread the message of Islam the first man he turned to was his friend Abu Bakr. Without a moments hesitation Abu Bakr accepted Islam and began a journey of dedication and love that was to last the rest of his life.

Abu Bakr loved his friend dearly and was ready and able to accept the truth of Islam easily. When he heard the message that God was One, he was ready to accept what he already new to be true. His daughter Aisha narrated that in all of his life, Abu Bakr never prostrated to an idol. Abu Bakr himself relates that when he was a child, his father took him to the place of idols and left him there amongst the statues. The young boy looked at the inanimate objects surrounding him and asked them of what benefit they could be to him. When the idols were unable to respond Abu Bakr decided that he would not worship something that could not hear or see. He innately understood that statues and idols were not worthy of worship.

Abu Bakr’s love for the One True God and his support for his friend Muhammad meant that in the early days of Islam, he was often persecuted and mercilessly beaten. The majority of Meccans hated to hear Muhammad’s message of reform and reckoning. They were the guardians of idolatry and a great deal of revenue was made from the pilgrims visiting one or more of the idols worshipped in and around Mecca. If Muhammad succeeded in uniting the people in the worship of One God and if their ways of corruption were eradicated, their lives would be irreversibly changed.

The Migration
The shocking treatment, torture and brutality directed against the Muslims meant that Prophet Muhammad sent many of them away for their own protection. The second of two migrations was to the nearby city of Yathrib, later to be named Madina. Although often called a flight, it was in reality a carefully planned migration. Two tribes from Yathrib had negotiated a treaty with Prophet Muhammad and offered him their allegiance and protection but at this stage, Prophet Muhammad had not been given permission by God to leave Mecca. He did however send his followers to Yathrib in groups small enough not to attract the attention of the Meccans.

One day in the heat of the noonday sun, Prophet Muhammad visited the home of his friend Abu Bakr. The streets of Mecca were deserted and Abu Bakr knew this visit of great importance, this time of day was reserved for rest. Prophet Muhammad asked Abu Bakr to “empty your house”, meaning that he had something important and private to discuss. Abu Bakr replied, “This is your family.” Prophet Muhammad went inside and revealed to his friend that God had given him permission to leave Mecca. Aisha narrates that her father wept when he heard that he was to be Prophet Muhammad’s companion on the journey.

Abu Bakr wept not from fear, although the journey would be fraught with danger, but from sheer joy. This was an opportunity for him to spend more than ten days travelling alone with his dearest companion. It was an opportunity to spend many days and nights drinking from the fountain of Prophethood. Abu Bakr announced that he had camels prepared and ready to go, for he too had been waiting for his companion Muhammad to be given the permission to leave. That night the two friends left through the back door and walked into the black desert landscape.

The Search
When the Meccans realised that Prophet Muhammad had escaped Mecca, thereby eluding their plans to kill him, they were furious. Search parties immediately began to scour the surrounding areas. Although they suspected that prophet Muhammad was heading for Yathrib, they sent scouts in every direction. Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammad spent three days hiding in a cave south of Mecca.

At one stage, a search party came so close to the entrance of their cave Abu Bakr could see their shoes above him. He was filled with fear and trepidation, not for himself, for he was a courageous man, but for his beloved friend. Abu Bakr whispered, “Messenger of God, if they look down towards their feet they will see us!” Prophet Muhammad replied, “Abu Bakr, what do you think of two people with whom God is the third?” God revealed the following verse of Quran in response to this poignant moment.

“If you help him (Muhammad) not (it does not matter), for God did indeed help him when the disbelievers drove him out, the second of two, when they were in the cave, and he (Prophet Muhammad ) said to his companion (Abu Bakr),”Be not sad (or afraid), surely God is with us.” Then God sent down His Sakînah (calmness, tranquillity, peace, etc.) upon him, and strengthened him with forces that you saw not, and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowermost, while it was the Word of God that became the uppermost, and God is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Quran 9:40)

The angry and frantic Meccans stood outside the cave but did not enter. A spider had spun a delicate web across the entrance to the cave making it appear that no one had entered the cave in a very long time. Abu Bakr understood from his beloved friend’s words that the power of God is often found manifest in the least expected places. A tiny, fragile spider spinning a web of concealment was mightier than an army. Abu Bakr, the first man to enter Islam became one of two. Two friends united on a mission, bound by their love for each other and for the fledgling Muslim nation, strengthened by their love of the One True God.

Abu Bakr was a man of shrewd judgment. He was able to discern the truth when others were muddled by the complexities of a situation. Thus, he found it very easy to see the truth in Islam but realised that the words of Muhammad would cause a rift in Meccan society. The leaders of Mecca would not tolerate anything that put their economic situation or lifestyles in jeopardy. Abu Bakr knew that difficult times lay ahead and felt it was his duty to protect his companion, Prophet Muhammad. The two friends saw each other everyday and their friendship grew stronger as their understanding of Islam grew and took root in their hearts. For three years Islam blossomed in secret. The new Muslims spread the message of Islam through a network of trusted friends and families, but the time came when God commanded Prophet Muhammad to spread the message in public.

Abu Bakr understood that life would become difficult as the leaders of Mecca realised how many people were accepting Islam. He knew that Prophet Muhammad would require his protection, but over the months, Abu Bakr also took on the role of protector for many new Muslims. As more and more people converted to Islam the non-Muslim leaders of Mecca began a campaign of persecution and abuse designed to destroy the new faith. Most of the men, women and children from the tribes of Mecca had the protection of their families, but the slaves and the poor were particularly vulnerable.

It was the slaves and the destitute that were particularly attracted to the teachings of Islam. They heard the words of equality, freedom, and the mercy of the One True God and saw it as a way to escape the brutality of their existence and find comfort in the forgiveness and love of God. They learned that all men were slaves of God and that He offered guidance and protection to all, not just the elite classes. Abu Bakr was a rich merchant and was able to ease the suffering of many slaves by buying them from their masters and setting them free.

Among the slaves set free by Abu Bakr was Bilal[1], the man destined to become the first man to call the faithful to prayer. Bilal’s master would make him lie on burning sand and have large slabs of rock placed on his chest, but he refused to give up his new faith. When Abu Bakr heard of Bilal’s condition, he raced to free him. In all, Abu Bakr freed eight slaves, four men and four women. Although the buying and freeing slaves was not unknown in Meccan society, it was usually done for far less altruistic reasons. Once a slave was freed, he was honour bound to offer his protection to the one who freed him, and for this reasons the rich Meccans would free slaves that were physically fit and strong. Abu Bakr feed slaves for the sake of God, not for himself.

“Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification; And have in their minds no favour from any one For which a reward is expected in return, But only the desire to seek the Countenance, Of their Lord, Most High; And soon they shall attain complete satisfaction.” (Quran 92:18-21)

Protecting his Companion
One day, when Prophet Muhammad was in the Kaaba (House of God) the Meccans surrounded him and started taunting and verbally abusing him, and very quickly it escalated to physical abuse. Someone informed Abu Bakr that his companion was in need of his assistance, so he rushed to the Kaaba and pushed into the middle of the fight, placing himself between Prophet Muhammad and his attackers. He cried out, “Would you kill a man for saying that Allah is his Lord”.[2] The Meccans were momentarily stunned, but within seconds they fell upon Abu Bakr and beat him mercilessly. The beating was so severe that the blood flowed from his head and clotted his hair.

On another occasion, when the Prophet was praying, one of the Meccan elites threw a piece of cloth around his neck and began to strangle him. Although people could see what was happening nobody was courageous enough to come to Prophet Muhammad’s rescue. When Abu Bakr entered the Kaaba and saw his friend’s predicament, he rushed over and fought off the attacker.

A story that comes from Ali ibn Abu Talib epitomises Abu Bakr’s reputation as a quiet achiever who never put his own needs first and was devoted to Islam and its messenger, Prophet Muhammad. When Ali was the leader of the Muslims, many years after the deaths of both Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr, he made a speech in which he enquired of his audience, “Who is the most courageous man in Islam?” The audience responded, “You! Ameer Al Mumineen (leader of the faithful)” Ali had a fierce reputation as a warrior and brave fighter. He looked at the men seated before him and said, “It is true I have never faced an opponent and lost, but I am not the most courageous. That honour belongs to Abu Bakr”.

Ali went on to relate that in the Battle of Badr, the first battle the fledging Muslim nation faced, the Muslims refused to let Prophet Muhammad be in the front lines and instead built a shelter for him at the back. The men were asked who would volunteer to guard the Prophet, but none would step forward except Abu Bakr. Prophet Muhammad stayed in the shelter for sometime, praying for the success of his small nation, and Abu Bakr could be seen walking back and forth, his sword unsheathed, ready to repel any threat to his beloved companion.

Later in the battle, Prophet Muhammad led the centre battalion and Abu Bakr the right flank. They were friends united in all circumstances, in times of ease or hardship. Abu Bakr is an example of a courageous man prepared to use his wealth, abilities and strength in the service of Islam and ready to give up his life for the sake of God or to protect God’s messenger.

Words of Praise
Ali ibn Abu Talib also gave Abu Bakr’s funeral oration. The following passages are just a small sample of his words of praise for Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion.

“You supported him when others had deserted him, and you remained firm in helping him in misfortunes when others had withdrawn their support.

“You had the lowest voice but the highest distinction. Your conversation was most exemplary and your reasoning most just; your silence was longest in duration, and your speech was most eloquent. Bravest among men, and well-informed about matters, your action was dignified.” Thus was Abu Bakr, the protector.

Sources: Bakr

Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud (R.A)

Hazrat Imam Abu Daud Tyalasi (R.A) narrated the event of the faith of Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud (R.A), in his own words;

In my youth, I used to graze herds of Abu Mu’ayt in the outskirts of Makkah. One day, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) along with Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A) called upon me and said, “O young man! Would you please favour us with some milk to drink?” “I have the milk.” I said, “but I am not to give it to you, for I am trustee over it and I dare not commit a mistrust.” The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) asked as if there was an untouched she-goat with me.

I replied yes and then I brought the one He (S.A.W) asked for. Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A) got hold of its rope and whilst praying to Allah (S.W.T), Holy Prophet (S.A.W) held its udder in his blessed Hands. The udder immediately filled with milk.

Beloved Prophet (S.A.W) milked the she-goat and gave us the milk to drink. We drank milk first and then the Prophet (S.A.W). When we all filled our stomachs, Holy Prophet (S.A.W) enjoined the udder to shrink and it shrank back as before.

Witnessing the miracle, I embraced Islam and requested the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) to teach me. Rasoolullah (S.A.W) turned his hand over my head saying, “Allah bless you, you shall be an educated and learned youth.”

By the blessings of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W), Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud (R.A) excelled in learning amongst all the Companions of the Beloved Prophet (S.A.W).

He (R.A) was allowed to appear before the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) whenever he wanted. He (R.A) was also blessed to have served the beloved Prophet (S.A.W). Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud (R.A) used to hold the curtain when the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) bathed, he helped him to put on and take off his blessed Shoes (Na’lain Paak). Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud (R.A) also used to keep the Holy Prophet (S.A.W)’s shoes under his (R.A) armpit when the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) took them off.

Holy Prophet (S.A.W) also gave Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud (R.A) the glad tiding of being delivered, (i.e. being Janathi). (Al-Syrat-ul-Halbia, Vol.I,p.266 and Al-Syrat-ul-Nabuwat, Ibn-e-Kathir, Vol. I, p.444)

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A)

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) was born in Baha, Yemen. His (R.A)’s real name was Abd al-Shams. Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) accepted Islam on the call of Hazrat at-Tufayl (R.A), when he (R.A) returned to his village after meeting the Holy Prophet (S.A.W).

When Hazrat at-Tufayl (R.A) visited Makkah Shareef again, Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) accompanied him. There he had the honour and privilege of meeting the Noble Prophet (S.A.W). The Beloved Prophet (S.A.W) asked him (R.A): “What is your name?” “Abd al-Shams (Servant of a Sun),” he replied. Rasoolullah (S.A.W) then said “Instead, let it be Abdur-Rahman (the Servant of the Beneficent Lord)”. “Yes, Abdur-Rahman (it shall be) O Messenger of Allah” he replied.

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) looked after the mosque when Holy Prophet (S.A.W) went on to campaign in Khyber. He (R.A) made it a regular habit to give the leftover food to stray cats. Gradually the number of cats around the Masjid increased. He (R.A) loved to take care and play with them. Once our Beloved Prophet (S.A.W) saw Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) playing with some cats, to which Rasoolullah (S.A.W) called him as Abu Huraira (Father of cats). Since then he (R.A) preferred to be known as Abu Huraira (this was due to the immense love the Sahabah Iqraam (R.A) had for Rasoolullah (S.A.W)).

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) is famously known for the compilation of many AHadith. He (R.A) has reported around 5,000 AHadiths, which are mentioned in Muslim Shareef and Bukhari Shareef.

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) narrates: I said “O Prophet of Allah (S.A.W), I hear the Holy Hadith from you but I forget them”. Hearing this Holy Prophet (S.A.W) directed me to stretch my sheet. I obeyed. The Lord of the Universe (S.A.W) raised His blessed Hands and scooped something from the air and emptied it into the sheet, He (S.A.W) then directed me to take it and clasp it to my chest, I did so. Since then I have never forgotten anything. (Bukhari Shareef)

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A)’s mother was still a Mushrik (non believer). He (R.A) longed, and prayed, for her to become a Muslim but she adamantly refused.

One day, he (R.A) again invited his mother to believe in the One God and His Prophet. She answered with some bad words about the Holy Prophet (S.A.W). Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) went to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) with tears in his (R.A) eyes. “Why are you crying, Abu Huraira?” asked the Holy Prophet (S.A.W). “I always invite my mother to Islam, and she always refuses,” he replied. “I asked her again today, but she said some things about you that made me sad. Can you pray to Allah (S.W.T) for her to turn to Islam?” The Prophet prayed for Abu Huraira’s mother to accept Islam.

When he (R.A) went home, he (R.A) found the door closed. Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) heard the splashing of water. He tried to enter the house, but his mother said, “Wait a minute. Don’t come in yet.” Then she got dressed and said, “You can come in now.” When He (R.A) went inside, his mother said, “I declare that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.” Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) again went to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) crying. But this time his tears were tears of joy. “I have good news, Ya Rasoolullah (S.A.W),” he said. “Allah (S.W.T) has answered your prayer and guided my mother to Islam.”

Hazrat Abu Huraira (R.A) passed away in 59 AH at the age of 78 and is buried in Jannatul Baqi (Madina Shareef).

Hazrat Sa’d Bin Muaaz (R.A)

During the battle of Khandaq (Battle of Trench), Hazrat Sa’d bin Muaaz (R.A)sustained an aggressive injury. An arrow had severed a main artery which needed immediate attention. Hazrat Sa’d bin Muaaz (R.A) was kept in a tent which was erected in Madina Shareef, so he could be treated by Hazrate Rafida bint Sa’d al-Aslamia (R.A) and also because Holy Prophet (S.A.W) could visit him regularly.

Hazrate Rafida bint Sa’d al-Aslamia (R.A) was an excellent surgeon and she gave her medical services free of charge to the wounded of war. She lived very near the Mosque. Every effort was made to successfully treat Hazrat Sa’d bin Muaaz (R.A) but time had come for him to leave this temporary life. He (R.A) passed away 25 days after the retreat of the pagan’s army.

The body of Hazrat Sa’d bin Muaaz (R.A) was brought to his own home. Ghusl was given by Hazrat Harith bin Aus (R.A), Hazrat Usaid bin Huzair (R.A) and Hazrat Salmah bin Salamah (R.A), in presence of Holy Prophet (S.A.W).

The funeral procession was led by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W). Hazrat Sa’d bin Muaaz (R.A) blessed body was lowered in the grave of Janathul Baqi.

To see the burial of the lion hearted son, his mother came to the grave and said: “O light of my eyes! I keep patience on your departure hoping the reward from God.”

The Beloved Prophet (S.A.W) consoled her; the grave was filled, levelled, and then water was sprinkled on it. The Prophet (S.A.W) prayed for him standing by his grave. (Amta Al-Asma, Vol. 1 p.197)

The night Hazrat Sa’d (R.A) passed away, Hazrat Jibrail (A.S) wearing a flowery turban appeared before the Prophet (S.A.W). He asked as to who had passed away because the gates of the heavens were opened for him and the heavens swung with pleasure. The Prophet (S.A.W) told him he was Sa’d.

Hazrat Ibn-e-Umar (R.A) narrates that the Prophet (S.A.W) said that “On the eve of Sa’d’s death seventy thousand such Angels descended on the earth that have never descended on the earth as before”. (Ibid p. 246-249)

Hazrat Umaru bin Utbah Al Salimi (R.A)

Hazrat Umaru (R.A) narrates his (R.A) own event on how he converted to Islam. He (R.A) states, “Even in the age of ignorance I was annoyed of the idols of my nation. To worship such idols which are unable to cause you harm or benefit was a thing most nonsense to me.

I asked from a learnered person of another religion, as to which religion was the best. He told me that very soon a man would appear in Makkah who would announce his revulsion of the idols of his nation and call people to the only One God. The religion he would bring, would be the best religion amongst all. He further enjoined me to follow the man when he appeared.

I did not have any assignment in Makkah but I visited there very frequently, to get information about the promised Prophet, but when I was informed in negative, I always came back. On the road to Makkah which passed through our territory, I used to sit and ask the passers-by about the same.

One day, a caravan passed thereby and answering to my question, a man told me that there appeared a person in Makkah who was sick of the idols his nation worshiped and he called the people to worship the only One God. Listening to him, my pleasure crossed the limits. I was happy for I had got my aim; I made preparations for my journey and immediately left for Makkah. I put my luggage over my abode and went into quest of the person who was secretly preaching people the Oneness of Allah (S.W.T).

The Quraish were in His (S.A.W) opposition, so I reached the place with great difficulty, He (S.A.W) was teaching His disciples. I asked Him as to who He was? He told me, He was the Prophet of Allah (S.W.T). I enquired as to what was a Prophet? He said, the Prophet was commissioned by God to guide people. I asked who commissioned you as the Prophet, He said, “Allah (S.W.T)!” I asked what the Message Allah appointed you to disseminate?”

He (S.A.W) replied, “Allah (S.W.T) sent me to guide you: to treat the relatives nicely, to avoid bloodshed, to maintain the routes tranquil, to perish the idols and to worship Allah (S.W.T) and not to partake with Him any partners.” Upon hearing this, I supplicated: It is the best invitation and I bear witness to it that I brought faith in you and testify upon you.

Then I asked whether I should return back home or remain in His (S.A.W) presence, what is your will your honour?” The Prophet exclaimed, you have observed how the people treat us here, you must go back to your land for the time being. When you hear I have left Makkah, you must join me then.”

After some period I heard the Prophet (S.A.W) had migrated to Madina Shareef, I reached there and said, “Ya Rasoolullah! Do you recognise me?” “Yes”, He (S.A.W) replied, “You are Salimi, you visited me at Makkah and I had advised you so and so.” I then I asked, ‘Ya Rasoolullah! Which are the moments of acceptance of the Dua? The Prophet (S.A.W) replied:

“The later part of the half of the night, and the time of offering the prayer for the Angels come there and that is also the time for acceptance of Dua”

Hazrat Abu Zar Ghafari (R.A)

Hazrat Abu Zar Ghafari (R.A) belonged to the Banu Ghafari, the Kinanah tribe. Some three years before the Prophetic call, Hazrat Abu Zar Ghafari (R.A) was in the habit of offering prayers to God, prostrating before him in the direction God desired him to. According to his own wisdom and reason, to satisfy his heart, he praised God in the best manners he could.

He heard the news that a person in Makkah had claimed himself as the Prophet of Allah (S.W.T). He sent his brother Unayy to Makkah to meet this man. After a few days Unayy came back to Hazrat Abu Zar (R.A), who enquired about his findings. Unayy replied, “I saw a person who enjoins virtues and forbids bad practices. He claims to guide people, stating God sent him as His Messenger, and he directs to observe and adopt the high ethics and morality.

Hazrat Abu Zar Ghafari (R.A) asked his brother to look after his family and the household for he desired to meet this person himself.

Hazrat Abu Zar (R.A) says, “I kept my food in a box and left for Makkah. I reached the city on foot and I knew nobody there. I went directly to Haram and I was not in recognition of the man who had announced his Prophethood and in whose fondness I had travelled. I waited till the night prevailed. Hazrat Ali (R.A) saw me and he recognised I was a stranger. He signalled me to follow him. He didn’t speak to me nor I spoke to him. I passed the night in his house and the following morning came to the Haram. Few days and nights passed in this way, each day Hazrat Ali (R.A) would take me home.

After few days Hazrat Ali (R.A) asked “What brought you here?” I asked him to first firmly promise with me that he would not open my secret to anybody. He promised and then I disclosed the purpose of my visit. After listening to me, he (R.A) said, “Above doubt, he is the truthful Prophet of Allah (S.W.T), I will lead you to him in the morning.” The following morning, he (R.A) requested me to follow him and we reached the house of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W).

I appeared before His illustrious Majesty and requested, “Ya Rasoolullah! (S.A.W) please illustrate Islam unto me.” Holy Prophet (S.A.W) informed me of the reality and truthfulness of Islam. His sweet sayings infused in my heart directly.”

The beloved Prophet (S.A.W) gave two special advices to his newly converted disciple: Firstly, in the way of Allah (S.W.T), he would be indifferent to the reproaches of the people. Secondly, he would always speak the truth, no matter how much bitter it would be.

Hazrat Amr bin Jamooh Ansaari (R.A)

Hazrat Amr bin Jamooh Ansaari (R.A) was a disabled Sahaabi who supplicated the following Dua, while exiting his house prior to battle of Badr, “O Allah (S.W.T), do not grant me return to my family from the war”. His (R.A) four sons were also present with him in Holy battle.

People had stopped him from joining the battle as he was disabled. Nevertheless, Hazrat Amr (R.A) submitted to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) by saying, “Ya Rasoolullah (S.A.W), allow me to participate in the war as this disabled one desires to enter Jannah as a Shaheed.”

Hearing this passionate plea, Rasoolullah (S.A.W) granted him permission. Hazrat Amr (R.A) could not contain the bliss of this and entered the battlefield. He (R.A) fought the Mushrikeen (non believers) relentlessly with his son by his side.

Hazrat Abu Talha (R.A) states, “I saw Hazrat Amr bin Jamooh (R.A) as he entered the battlefield and I heard him saying ‘Oath on Allah (S.W.T) I crave Jannah!'”.

Both father and son fought the Mushrikeen with much zeal (passion) until both had passed away as Shaheed.

After the battle, Hazrate Hind (R.A), the wife of Hazrat Amr bin Jamooh (R.A), later brought a camel on which she placed the blessed bodies of her husband, brother and son to be taken to Madina Shareef for burial.

The camel could not be moved but preferred to remain on the battlefield. She approached the Beloved Prophet (S.A.W) about this, who asked whether she had heard her husband say anything while leaving his house.

Hazrate Hind (R.A) replied, “Yes! He made the following Dua whilst leaving the house, ‘O Allah (S.W.T), do not make me return to my family after the war.”

Holy Prophet (S.A.W) then said, “That’s why the camel doesn’t move towards Madina.” (Madaarij, Vol. 2, Pg. 124)

Subhanallah, what bravery and love the Sahabah Iqraam (R.A) possessed, they gave everything for the cause of Islam. Due to their undivided love for Deen. Allah (S.W.T) granted their Duas instantly.