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A High Standard of Piety and Commitment

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 5/2/04

Some of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are well known. Their names are often mentioned, and their service to Islam is cited as an example for new generations. Others are not well known, but they might have been exemplary in their strength of faith, conduct, piety and commitment to Islam. We get to know these from one or two Hadiths or reports that reveal particular aspects of their characters.

One of the companions was better known by his nickname Abu Qursafah, following the Arab custom of calling a man as the father of his eldest son. He is rarely mentioned by his own name, which is Jandarah ibn Khayshanah. We learn something of Abu Qursafah’s piety from the following report related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad on the authority of Bilal ibn Kaab, who says: “Ibraheem ibn Adham, Abd al-Aziz ibn Qarir, Musa ibn Yasar and myself visited Yahya ibn Hassan in his village. He served us with food, but Musa did not eat because he was fasting. Yahya said: ‘A companion of the Prophet from the Kinanah called Abu Qursafah led us in prayer in this mosque for 40 years, and he always fasted on alternate days. A son was born to my father, and he invited him to a meal on his day of fasting. He came and broke his fast.’ Ibraheem stood up and covered him with his own coat. Musa then ate.”

This report shows that it is not only appropriate, but also desirable that a person who is fasting voluntarily should end his fast if he is invited to a function, or indeed if he is with a group of people and their host offers them food. It is wrong to stay fasting when the others are eating. This means that acknowledging his host’s kindness and returning it by eating takes precedence over continuing one’s voluntary fast.

There is no doubt that the person concerned will gain a reward from God for his intention to fast, and will also be rewarded for his friendly manner to his host. This is the reason why Abu Qursafah, a companion of the Prophet who used to fast on alternate days, shared in the meal when he was invited to a dinner on his fasting day.

His granddaughter, Azzah bint Iyad ibn Abu Qursafah, reports that one of her grandfather’s sons was taken prisoner by the Byzantines. At every prayer time, Abu Qursafah would stand on top of the wall of the city of Asqalan and shout to his son by name saying that it was time for prayer. His son would hear him every time although they were separated by hundreds of miles. This report is related by Al-Tabarani, with a chain of transmission that gives it an authentic grade. We are not surprised that this should be the case because God is able to accomplish His purpose. Since Abu Qursafah was aware that his voice would not be heard at such a distance, he trusted to God to communicate his message to his son. God responded by granting his wish which is expressed with complete trust and faith.

It is not surprising to learn of Abu Qursafah’s unshakable faith. He was a firm believer ever since he embraced Islam as a young lad. His granddaughter reports that she heard her grandfather speaking about how he became a Muslim: “I was an orphan child living with my mother and my maternal aunt, and I had a few sheep which I took to graze. My aunt often told me not to go near the Prophet so that he would not lead me astray. But when I reached the grazing area, I often left my sheep and went to the Prophet listening to him.

In the evening I would go home, but my sheep would have no milk. My aunt questioned me about my dry sheep and I protested that I did not know the reason for their having no milk. One day I heard him saying: ‘My people! Immigrate for God’s cause and hold fast to Islam. Immigration does not stop as long as jihad continues.’ I continued to frequent his place and listen to him until I embraced Islam, pledged my loyalty to him and shook hands with him. I told him about my aunt and my sheep. The Prophet said to me to bring my sheep to him. When I brought them, he wiped their backs and their breasts, praying that God blesses their produce.

They soon were full of fat and milk. When I went home to my aunt and she looked at them, she said: ‘Always graze like this, son.’ I said to her: ‘I simply went to the same place I have been going every day. But I will tell you my news. I went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and embraced Islam. I told her about him and what he taught. Both my mother and my aunt asked me to take them to him. All three of us went to see him together, and my mother and aunt embraced Islam, pledged their loyalty to the Prophet and shook hands.” (Related by Al-Tabarani with an authentic chain of transmission).

This report indicates how people were afraid of going near the Prophet because they heard the unbelievers’ propaganda accusing him of leading people astray. Yet when they realized what he taught, they were impressed and were soon ready to accept Islam. This happened with different people at different times.

It also tells us how the Prophet was kind to everyone. He did not put pressure on anyone to accept the faith until that person was ready. Abu Qursafah, a young lad at the time, went to listen to him time after time, abandoning his sheep, and the Prophet giving him time to think and make up his mind.

When he was ready, he declared his belief and pledged himself to the Prophet as one of his followers.

The Hadith also tells us that Muslims used to put their personal problems to the Prophet hoping for help. Abu Qursafah complains to him about his aunt and the problem he was having as a result of abandoning his sheep so as to listen to him. The Prophet takes the necessary action, and prays God to bless the sheep and their produce.

Every prayer the Prophet said was answered in the most perfect way, which was a sign serving to reassure his companions. As the lad goes home, his sheep were full of milk, and he uses the occasion to tell his mother and his aunt about Islam. Soon they follow his suit and embrace Islam.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.