Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta) was among those ten fortunate Companions of the Prophet (sa), who were given the good news of being accepted in Paradise after their death. He was known for his truthfulness, sincerity and good knowledge of religious matters. Abdur-Rahman (rta) embraced Islam at the age of thirty, after being invited to do so by Abu Bakr (rta). Before becoming Muslim, his name was Abd Amr, and it was the Prophet (sa) himself who changed his name to Abdur-Rahman (rta).
Abdur-Rahman (rta) had the wonderful opportunity of migrating twice in the cause of Islam – to Abyssinia and to Madinah. When Abdur-Rahman (rta) arrived in Madinah, he had no money and no property. To make his adjustment in Madinah easier, the Prophet (sa) asked one of the richest men of Madinah, Sad Ibn Rabee Ansari (rta) to help Abdur-Rahman (rta). Sad Ibn Rabee Ansari (rta) was ready to give to Abdur-Rahman (rta) one of his two wives and one of his two big orchards; however, Abdur-Rahman’s (rta) self-respect did not allow him to accept this generous offer. He thanked Sad Ibn Rabee Ansari for his kindness, prayed to Allah (swt) to increase Sad’s wealth and simply asked him to show the way to the market, where he would earn his own living. He did not wish to be a burden on anyone – he knew that Allah (swt) would provide for him.
Ever since Abdur-Rahman (rta) began his own business in the market of Madinah, Allah (swt) blessed him with bounty beyond his most daring expectations. Whatever he touched seemed to bring him instant success.
Soon, Abdur-Rahman (rta) extended his activities also to agriculture. Once, the Prophet’s wife Aisha (rta) heard an unusual vibrating sound traveling through the city. Upon learning that the cause of this vibration was Abdur-Rahman’s (rta) seven hundred camels loaded with grains, Aisha (rta) recalled the Prophet (sa) saying that Abdur-Rahman (rta) would enter Paradise ‘leaping and jumping’ – with much ease. When somebody conveyed these words to Abdur-Rahman (rta), he overflowed with joy and dedicated his camels, his goods and his wealth to the welfare of the Muslim Ummah! Just like Allah (swt) gave to Abdur-Rahman (rta) out of His bounty, he also spent abundantly in charity for the sake of Allah (swt). Yet, despite all the prosperity and wealth that Abdur-Rahman (rta) gained, his heart was not at ease. He often used to weep out of fear that he would be deprived of blessings in the Hereafter because of the bounties Allah (swt) bestowed on him in this world.
Business and agriculture kept Abdur-Rahman (rta) busy; yet, he eagerly participated in the great battles for the cause of Allah (swt). After taking part in the battle of Badr, Abdur-Rahman (rta) went on in a mission sent to Doamatul Jandal area to conquer the tribe of Banu Kalb. Abdur-Rahman (rta) was appointed to lead the Muslim army. The Prophet (sa) himself placed on his head the turban of the general and gave him the flag of the Mujahideen. He ordered Abdur-Rahman (rta) to invite the tribe to follow the teachings of Islam. Only if they would refuse to do so, the Muslim army was to attack and fight them. The Prophet (sa) also strictly forbade harming women, children and the elderly of the tribe.
After arriving to Domatul Jandal, Abdur-Rahman (rta) spent three days explaining to the people of Banu Kalb the teachings of Islam. The chief of the tribe was very much impressed by the message of Allah (swt) and decided to enter the fold of Islam. Upon seeing the conversion of their leader, most of the tribes-people also became Muslims. Those, who did not want to accept Islam, could continue to live peacefully on condition that they would pay Jazyah tax to the Islamic government. Thus, Islam spread in this area in a peaceful manner. The chief of the tribe even gave his daughter to Abdur-Rahman (rta) in marriage.
Abdur-Rahman (rta) not only participated in the battles for the glory of Islam, but also generously supported the Mujahideen. Once, he gave to Mujahideen five hundred horses trained for military combat. On another occasion, his gift was fifteen hundred pure-bred Arab steeds. Just before his death, Abdur-Rahman (rta) bequeathed in his will four hundred Dinars to each survivor of the battle of Badr.
Abdur-Rahman (rta) also supported the Mujahideen for the battle of Tabook. The Muslim army was so poorly equipped for this battle that it became known as the penniless army. This time, Abdur-Rahman’s (rta) help consisted of bags full of silver – the most generous contribution made for this war. When the army set out for Tabook, Abdur-Rahman (rta) also himself was among the Mujahideen. Once, the Prophet (sa) was not present at the beginning of the prayer, so Abdur-Rahman (rta) began leading the prayer. When the Prophet (sa) arrived in the middle of the prayer, he joined the rows and prayed behind Abdur-Rahman (rta). What an honor it was for Abdur-Rahman (rta) to have the Prophet (sa) pray behind him!
When Caliph Umar Farooq (rta) was stabbed while leading the prayer, it was Abdur-Rahman (rta) who finished leading that prayer. Before his death, Caliph Umar (rta) selected a board of six honourable men, who were to continue running the affairs of the Muslim state and to select the next Caliph. Abdur-Rahman (rta) had the honour to be among these six noble Companions. When discussions arose about nominating the next Caliph, Abdur-Rahman (rta) suggested that the board of six should be narrowed down to three members to make the selection easier. Further in the selection process, Abdur-Rahman (rta) withdrew his name from the list of candidates and voted in favor of Uthman Ibn Affan (rta), who then became the next Caliph. He was the first one to swear his loyalty to the new Caliph.
Many people used to pray to Allah (swt) for Abdur-Rahman (rta). The Prophet (sa) himself prayed for the prosperity of Abdur-Rahman (rta) and gave him the wonderful news of being accepted in Paradise. The Prophet’s (sa) wife Aisha (rta) often used to ask Allah (swt) to give him to drink from the sweet waters of the stream of Salsabil in Paradise. He also received supplications from the other wives of the Prophet (sa), as he was the one who used to provide for their needs during Hajj.
Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta) passed away during the caliphate of Uthman Ibn Affan. He was buried in Jannatul-Baqahi.
Adapted from “Commanders of the Muslim Army (Among the Companions of the Prophet (sa)” by Mahmood Ahmad Ghandafar.