An Eternal Love Story

29By Shaikh Omar Suleiman – Member, ICNA Shariah Council and Instructor, Al Maghrib Institute, Canada 

In this day and age, the success of a marriage rests upon the material comforts that one provides to his spouse. However, these soon fade away. The bond of love created for the sake of Allah (swt), with the success in the hereafter at heart, is what really strengthens a nuptial bond.

This is a very touching story about one of the great companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa) called Abu Darda (rtam). Let me introduce you to Abu Darda (rtam). He was a man with abundant knowledge of Islam. His love to disseminate this treasure and to seek more of it took him far and wide. Being highly enthusiastic, he wanted to share this valuable treasure with all and sundry. He used to relate Ahadeeth about the virtues of knowledge.

When the Prophet (sa) and his companions migrated to Madinah, every Ansari hosted one of the immigrants, the people who were expelled from Makkah. The Prophet (sa) paired every migrant with an Ansari brother, thus strengthening the ties of love and brotherhood between them. Who was the brother of Abu Darda (rtam)? Salman Farsi (rtam). Was Salman Farsi (rtam) an immigrant? Yes. He did migrate but not from Makkah. He was from Persia and had been going to places looking for Prophet Muhammad (sa), whom he finally found in Madinah. The Prophet (sa) paired him with Abu Darda (rtam).

Whenever Salman (rtam) would enter the house of Abu Darda (rtam) (and this was before the verse on Hijab was revealed), he would see Umm Darda (rtaf) wearing a cloth with patches and stains all over it. He asked her why she was dressed that way, and she replied that Abu Darda (rtam) is not interested in the luxuries of this world. She had blisters over her hands but she never complained. She was always smiling with contentment, as all their efforts and prayers were directed to attain success in the hereafter.

One day, Salman (rtam) came to Abu Darda’s house. Abu Darda served him a meal and said to him: “(Please) eat for I am fasting.” Salman (rtam) said: “I am not going to eat, unless you eat.” So Abu Darda ate. When it was night, Abu Darda (rtam) got up (for the night prayer). Salman (rtam) said (to him): “Sleep” and he slept. Again Abu Darda (rtam) got up (for the prayer), and Salman (rtam) said (to him): “Sleep.” When it was the last part of the night, Salman (rtam) said to him: “Get up now (for the prayer).” Both of them offered their prayers and Salman (rtam) said to Abu Darda (rtam): “Your Lord has a right on you; your soul has a right on you; your family has a right on you; you should give the rights of all those who have a right on you.” Later on, Abu Darda (rtam) visited the Prophet (sa) and mentioned that to him. The Prophet (sa) said: “Salman (rtam) has spoken the truth.” (Bukhari)

Since Abu Darda (rtam) was always keen to please Allah (swt) and his Messenger (sa), he changed his ways. However, his financial situation was not that sound. Umm Darda (rtaf) was someone who used to be around the Prophet (sa) from a very young age. When she was a little girl, she used to play in the Masjid. She grew up loving and following the tenets of Islam. She was always in search of more knowledge about this beautiful religion. Both Abu Darda (rtam) and his wife were pious and God-fearing – they spent their lives in service to this great religion. They never tasted the sweetness or strove for the treasures of this world. Hence, he was not a rich man. They both lived to achieve the true success in the hereafter.

When the time of death came near for Abu Darda (rtam), his wife was with him. She said to her husband: “When you proposed to me in this world, you asked my father for my hand and I accepted it.  Ask Allah (swt) for me to be your wife in the hereafter as well. I want to be your wife in paradise.”

One might think that she said this out of emotion and love, when her husband was leaving this world, but that is not so. She was truly in love with her husband for the sake of Allah (swt) and wanted to be with him in paradise after death.

Later on, when she got a marriage proposal from Muawiyah (rtam), who was the caliph of the Muslims, she refused saying that she is engaged to Abu Darda (rtam) in paradise. Muawiyah (rtam) was a man with wealth and status. Despite all these facts, Umm Darda (rtam) refused him. Unbelievable, Subhan’Allah!

This illumines her thoughts and her mission in life. Even though her marriage and life with Abu Darda (rtam) did not have all the material things of this world, those that in today’s time and age we consider important to make a union successful, it had the ingredient that cannot be taken away by any economic crisis or aging process – love of Allah (swt).

Transcribed for “Hiba” by Nazia Wahab Khan.

Abu Darda (rta)

Abu Ad-DardaEarly one morning, Abu Darda (rta) awoke and went straight to his idol, which he kept in the best part of his house. He greeted it, anointed it with the best perfume from his large shop, and decked it with beautiful silk.

When the sun was high in the sky, he left his house for his shop. On that day the streets and alleys of Madinah were crowded with the followers of Muhammad (sa) returning from Badr. With them were several prisoners of war. Abu Darda (rta) asked about the fate of his close friend, Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta). Everyone in Madinah knew the bond of brotherhood, which existed between the two men from the days of Jahiliyah. When Islam came to the city, lbn Rawahah (rta) embraced it, but Abu Darda (rta) rejected it. This, however, did not rupture the relationship between them.

One day Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta) went to Abu Darda (rta)’s house, while he was at his shop, and took out an axe, which he had brought with him, and began destroying the idol while saying: “Isn’t everything Batil (falsehood), which is worshipped besides Allah?” When the idol was completely smashed, he left the house.

Abu Darda (rta) returned home and saw his wife sitting at the door of the room, where he kept his idol. She was clearly distressed and narrated the incident to her husband. Abu Darda (rta) looked at the broken idol and was horrified. He was consumed with anger and determined to take revenge.

However, it was not too long before his anger subsided and thoughts of avenging his idol disappeared. Instead, he reflected on what had happened and said to himself: “If there was any good in this idol, he would have defended himself.” He then went straight to Abdullah, and together they went to the Prophet (sa). There he announced his acceptance of Islam.

From that time onwards, Abu Darda (rta) devoted himself completely to Islam. He deeply regretted every moment he had spent as a Mushrik and the opportunities he had lost to do good. He realized how much his friends had learnt about Islam in the preceding two or three years. He made up his mind to expend every effort, day and night, to make up for what he had missed.

Ibadah occupied his days and his nights. His search for knowledge was restless. He spent a lot of time memorizing the Quran and trying to understand the profundity of its message. When trade kept him away from the circles of knowledge, he reduced his involvement without regret. Someone asked him why, and he replied: “I was a merchant before my pledge to the Messenger of Allah (swt) (sa). When I became a Muslim, I wanted to combine trade (Tijarah) and worship (Ibadah), but I did not achieve what I desired. So I abandoned trade and inclined towards Ibadah. By Him in whose hand is the soul of Abu Darda (rta), I want to have a shop near the door of the Masjid, so that I would not miss any Salah with the congregation. Then I shall sell and buy, and make a modest profit every day. Allah, Great and Majestic, has not prohibited trade, but I want to be among those, whom neither trade nor does selling distract from the remembrance of Allah.”

During his caliphate, Umar (rta) appointed Abu Darda (rta) as a governor in Syria. In Damascus, Abu Darda (rta) found people immersed in luxury and soft living. This appalled him. He called the people to the Masjid and spoke to them: “O people of Damascus! You are my brethren in religion, neighbors, who live together, and helpers of one another against enemies. Is it right that I see your learned ones departing (from this world), while the ignorant among you are not learning? I see that you incline towards such things, which Allah has made you answerable for, and you abandon that, which He has commanded you to do.”

“Is it reasonable that I see you gathering and hoarding, what you do not eat, and erecting buildings, in which you do not live? Peoples before you have amassed wealth, made great plans and had high hopes. But it was not long before what they had amassed was destroyed. Their hopes dashed and their houses turned into graves. Such were the people of Ad. O people of Damascus. They filled the earth with possessions and children. Who is there, who will purchase from me today the entire legacy of Ad for two Dirhams?”

The people wept and their sobs could be heard from outside the Masjid. From that day, Abu Darda (rta) began to frequent the meeting places of the people of Damascus.

Once, he passed a group of people crowding around a man, whom they began to insult and beat. He came up to them and asked: “What’s the matter?” “This is a man, who has committed a grave sin,” they replied. “What do you think you would do, if he had fallen into a well?” asked Abu Darda (rta). “Wouldn’t you try to get him out?” “Certainly,” they said. “Don’t insult and beat him. Instead, make him aware of the consequences of what he has done. Then give praise to Allah, Who has preserved you from falling into such a sin.” “Don’t you hate him?” they asked Abu Darda. “I only detest, what he has done, and if he abandons such practice, he is my brother.” The man began to cry and publicly announced his repentance.

While Abu Darda (rta) was still in Syria, the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab came on an inspection tour of the region. One night, he went to visit Abu Darda (rta) at home. There was no light in the house. Abu Darda (rta) welcomed the Caliph and sat him down. The two men conversed in the darkness. As they did so, Umar (rta) felt Abu Darda’s (rta) ‘pillow’ and realized it was an animal’s saddle. He touched the place, where Abu Darda (rta) lay, and knew it was just small pebbles. He also felt the sheet, with which he covered himself, and was astonished to find it so flimsy that it couldn’t possibly protect him from the cold of Damascus.

Umar (rta) asked him: “Shouldn’t I make things more comfortable for you?”

“Do you remember, Umar,” said Abu Darda (rta), “a Hadeeth, which the Prophet (sa) told us?” “What is it?” asked Umar (rta). “Did he not say: ‘Let what is sufficient for anyone of you in this world be like the provisions of a rider?'” “Yes,” said Umar (rta). “And what have we done after this, o Umar?” asked Abu Darda (rta). Both men were moved to tears, no doubt thinking about the vast riches that had come the way of Muslims with the expansion of Islam and their preoccupation with amassing wealth and worldly possessions. With deep sorrow and sadness, both men continued to reflect on this situation until the break of dawn.

This was Abu Darda (rta) – the wise man. When people praised his piety and asked him to implore Allah (swt) for them, he replied in humility: “I can’t swim well and I fear drowning.”