Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta)

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Abdur Rahman bin AufAbdur-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.

Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta)

Vol 3- Issue 3   Abdur Rahman ibn 'AwfHis name in the days of Jahiliyah was Abdu Amr, but after accepting Islam, the Prophet (sa) called him Abdur-Rahman (rta) – the servant of the Beneficent. Abdur-Rahman (rta) became a Muslim two days after Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (rta). He did not escape but steadfastly bore the punishment inflicted on the early Muslims by Quraish. As a result, when they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia, Abdur-Rahman (rta) went too. He returned to Makkah, when it was rumoured that conditions had improved for Muslims, but that was contrary to the truth, and so he went to Abyssinia again on a second Hijrah. He later returned to Makkah and made the Hijrah to Madinah.

Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (sa) began pairing the Muhajirin with the Ansar. This established a firm bond of brotherhood, and eased the destitution of the Muhajirin. Abdur-Rahman (rta) was linked by the Prophet (sa) with Saad ibn ar-Rabiah (rta). Saad (rta) in the spirit of generosity offered to Abdur-Rahman (rta): “My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See, which of the two orchards you like, and I shall vacate it for you, and which of my two wives is pleasing to you, and I will divorce her for you.”

Abdur-Rahman (rta) replied: “May Allah (swt) bless you in your family and your wealth. But just show me, where the Suk (market place) is.

Abdur-Rahman (rta) went to the marketplace and began trading whatever resources he had and made a profit. He continued and his profits grew rapidly. Soon, he was well off and was able to get married. He went to the Prophet (sa) smelling of perfume.

“Mahyam, O Abdur-Rahman!” exclaimed the Prophet (sa) – “Mahyam” being a word of Yemeni origin indication pleasant surprise. “I have got married,” replied Abdur-Rahman (rta). “And what did you give your wife as Mahr?” “The weight of a Nuwat in gold.” “You must have a feast, even if it is with a single sheep. And may Allah (swt) bless you in your wealth,” said the Prophet (sa).

Thereafter Abdur-Rahman (rta) was successful in business.  It was said that if he lifted a stone, he expected to find gold or silver underneath!

Abdur-Rahman (rta) distinguished himself in both battles – Badr and Uhud. At Uhud he remained firm despite suffering over twenty wounds, some severe. Even so, his physical Jihad matched that of his wealth.

When the Prophet (sa) decided to send an expedition to distant Tabuk – the last Ghazwah during his lifetime – he was in need of finance, material, and men to go against the huge and well-equipped forces of the Byzantine. That year in Madinah was one of drought and hardship. The journey to Tabuk was long and provisions were low.

The Prophet (sa) urged his companions to give generously for the path of Allah (swt) and assured them that they would be rewarded. The Muslims’ response to the Prophet’s (sa) call was immediate and generous. In the forefront was Abdur-Rahman (rta), who donated two hundred Awqiyah of gold.

The Muslim army eventually left for Tabuk. The time of Salah came, and the Prophet (sa) was not there, so the Muslims chose Abdur-Rahman (rta) as their Imam. Just before the completion of the first Rakat the Prophet (sa) joined the worshippers and performed the Salah behind Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta). Could there be a greater honour conferred on anyone than to have been the Imam of the most honoured of Allah’s (swt) creation!

When the Prophet (sa) passed away, Abdur-Rahman (rta) took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family. He would go with them wherever they pleased, and even performed Hajj with them to ensure all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence, which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet’s (sa) family.

Once he sold a piece of land and distributed the entire amount among the Banu Zahrah (relatives of the Prophet’s (sa) mother Aminah (rta)), poor Muslims, and the Prophet’s (sa) wives.

The prayer of the Prophet (sa) that Allah (swt) should bestow Barakah on the wealth of Abdur-Rahman (rta) accompanied Abdur-Rahman (rta). He became the richest man among the Companions of the Prophet (sa). His trading caravans grew bringing to the people of Madinah wheat, flour, butter, cloth, utensils, perfume, and other commodities and exporting whatever surplus produce they had.

One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard beyond the boundaries of Madinah. In addition, clouds of dust were seen. The people of Madinah realized that a mighty caravan was entering their city. They were amazed as seven hundred camels laden with goods crowded the streets. There was much excitement as people called others to witness the sight and goods that they had brought.

Aisha (rta) heard the commotion and asked: “What is this that’s happening in Madinah?”

She was told: “It is the caravan of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf, which has come from Syria bearing merchandise.” “A caravan making all this commotion?” she asked in disbelief. “Yes, O Ummul-Mumineen. There are seven hundred camels.”

Aisha (rta) shook her head and gazed in the distance, trying to recall an utterance of the past and said: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say: ‘I have seen Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf entering Paradise creeping.'”

Some friends related this Hadeeth to Abdur-Rahman (rta), although he had heard it more than once from the Prophet (sa). He hurried to Aisha (rta) and said: “Ya Ammah! Have you heard that from the Messenger (sa)?” “Yes,” she replied.

“If I could I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing. I swear to you, ya Ammah, that this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will give Fi-Sabilillah.”

And so he did. This is just one incident that shows the type of man Abdur-Rahman (rta) was. He earned much wealth, but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and did not allow it to corrupt him.

All this wealth did not corrupt Abdur-Rahman (rta). When he was among his workers and assistants, people could not distinguish him from them. One day, food was brought to him with which to end a fast. He looked at the food and said: “Musab ibn ‘Umayr (rta) has been killed. He was better than me. We did not find anything of his to shroud him, with except what covered his head but left his legs uncovered… Then Allah (swt) endowed us with the (bounties of) the world… I really fear that our reward has been bestowed on us early (in this world).” He began to cry and sob and could not eat.

May Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta) be granted felicity among “Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah (swt) and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 262)