Sadaf Azhar – Hiba magazine’s Sub-Editor
Abdullah ibn Masood (rta) is the blessed Companion who transmitted the legacy of Quran and narrated Ahadith that form the basis of Imam Abu Hanifa’s school of Islamic jurisprudence. Since he was amongst the earliest Muslims and had undertaken to serve the Prophet (sa).
He is reported to be ‘most like the Prophet (sa) in his character and mannerisms.’
His early life
- Abdullah ibn Masood (rta) belonged to the Hudayl tribe of Bedouins outside of Makkah, who were considered marginalized and weak by the Makkans.
- His father, Masood ibn Ghaafir, was a shepherd who cared for the livestock of the Makkans, particularly the Bani Zohra. His son followed in his footsteps as a shepherd, and lived in the periphery of Makkan society, uninvolved in Makkan politics.
- He was sent to be a shepherd for Uqbah bin Abu Mueet, one of the cruelest of the Quraysh in opposition to the Prophet (sa) when he was thirteen.
- He was nicknamed Abdullah ibn Umm Abd (Umm Abd was his mother’s name which means ‘mother of slave’).
His appearance and mannerisms
- Abdullah bin Masood (rta) was uniquely short and skinny, so much so that if someone was sitting, it would equal his height and if people were standing, he would not be visible. He did not have much facial hair and is reported to be very dark skinned.
- He used to love perfume and used to be pleasantly scented wearing the cleanest white clothes.
His encounter with Islam
- One day, he was caring for the sheep when two dignified, middle aged men came and asked if they could have some milk because they were thirsty travelers. He politely refused because he was simply entrusted with them- he didn’t own them. One of them (the Prophet sa) asked him to just bring one of the goats without milk. When he did so, the man put his hands on its udders and said ‘Bismillah’. To Ibn Masood’s (rta) surprise, milk began to flow. He drank it and gave his companion and Ibn Masood (rta) milk as well.
- As soon as they left, he approached Al Abbas (rta) to ask about them and accepted Islam. He thus became the sixth man to enter Islam and so was nicknamed ‘Sudus al Islam’.
His status due to his Quranic knowledge
- The Prophet (sa) recommended 4 people from whom one should learn the Quran: Abdullah bin Masood (rta), Muadh bin Jabal (rta), Ubaii bin Kaab (rta) and Salem maula Hudhaifah (rta). He called Abdullah (rta) an authority of the Quran.
- The Prophet (sa) said that whoever wants to listen to the Quran as it was revealed, listen to the recitation of Abdullah bin Masood (rta). The Prophet (sa) once asked him to recite the Quran and he recited a portion of Surah Nisa that brought the Prophet (sa) to tears.
- He was defended by the Divine Quranic verses when the Quraysh refused to sit with the likes of Abdullah bin Masood (rta) and Bilal (rta) being ordinary commonors.
- Once, Abu Bakr (rta), Omar (rta) and the Prophet (sa) stopped to listen to the Dua of Ibn Masood (rta): “O Allah! I ask you for faith that would not expire, from blessings that would not be taken away and from the companionship of the Prophet (sa) in the highest level of Jannah.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Ameen.”
- Abdullah ibn Masood (rta) believed that whoever loves the Quran, will naturally love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). He said: ‘I took fresh from the mouth of the Messenger 70 Surahs, i.e. I was there and I heard him recite.’
His services for Islam
- He was the first man to recite the Quran publicly in front of the Kabah. He recited Surah Rahman with depth of feeling. The Quraysh did not recognize Ar Rahman as one of the names of Allah (swt) hence were confused, at first thinking it was poetry, but when they realized it was the message of the Prophet (sa), they beat him up badly with the intent to kill him.
- He sought to serve the Prophet (sa)- he would wake the Prophet (sa) from sleep and cover him when he needed to relieve himself or make Wudu. He also accompanied him on all journeys.
- Hudhaifah bin Yaman (rta) said the closest in guidance and conduct to the Prophet (sa) was Abdullah ibn Masood (rta). He was one of those who were protected from hypocrisy, and considered one of the most upright Companions, one of the closest to Allah (swt).
- He migrated twice.
- He participated in all the battles. He witnessed when the camel guts were thrown on the Prophet (sa) while he was praying and saw him comfort Fatima (rta).
- He had the honour of killing Abu Jahl and so he was given the sword of Abu Jahl.
- In the battle of Uhud, he saw the Prophet (sa) wounded severely, bleeding profusely. He narrated the Hadith wherein the Prophet (sa) asked for forgiveness for his people due to their ignorance.
- He avoided marriage for a long time. One reason was poverty and the other was that he didn’t want to lose the closeness to the Prophet (sa). The Prophet (sa) refused to allow him to remain unmarried but he advised young men like him to fast if they could not find the means to marry.
His position among the Sahabah
- Omar (rta) admired him and sought advice from him, served him and laughed with him, referring to him as ‘full of knowledge’. He would literally throw something at anyone if they disrespected Ibn Masood (rta).
- Omar (rta) appointed him as a governor of Kufa, even though Omar ‘couldn’t bear to live without him’. The result of this ‘gift’ to Kufa was that from Kufa developed schools of Quran and Fiqh.
- He passed away before the Fitnah broke out during the reign of Uthman (rta). He willed Az Zubyr (rta) would pray upon him because he was his Hijrah companion.
- After his funeral, Abu Masood al Badri asked Abu Musa Ashari (sa): ‘Is there anyone comparable in knowledge?’ He replied: ‘No, because he was with the Prophet (sa) and had witnessed what no one else had.’
Lookout for part 2 next week.