Among the earliest converts to Islam, there were four who belonged to the ‘lowest of the low’: Sumayyah (rtaf), Yasir (rtam), Bilal (rtam), and Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt (rtam). As all of them were slaves, they had limited interaction with the Prophet (sa) and only basic knowledge of Islam. Their faith stemmed from their sincere dedication to Tawheed and an unwavering belief in the truth of the Hereafter.
Let us take a closer look at the slave companions, who were blessed with the good tidings of Jannah by the Prophet (sa) himself.
Khabbab bin Al-Aratt (rtam)
Khabab (rtam) is not amongst the most famous of the earliest converts; yet, he was the first person to proclaim Islam publicly, for which he was so brutally tortured that he remained scarred for life.
Startling facts about Khabbab bin Al-Aratt (rtam)
- An intelligent black slave of a woman named Umm Ammar Khuzaiya, skilled in sword making from Najd.
- His mistress had him beaten mercilessly by her brother Siba’a using iron rods, and then she tortured him by combing his head with a burning piece of iron causing him to faint.
- Eventually, as a last resort to make him renounce his faith, he was made to lie on burning coal so that the fat and flesh on his back were burnt and he was permanently scarred.
- Abu Bakr (rtam) freed him.
- He was the one who was teaching Saeed bin Zaid (rtam) and Fatimah bin Khattab (rtaf), when Umar (rtam) burst in – he gave the final impetus to Umar (rtam) towards accepting Islam by narrating the Prophet’s (sa) Dua for him.
Points to ponder
- He was only a teenager (reportedly between 16 and 18 years old) when he accepted Islam.
- Even though he suffered so acutely, when he asked the Prophet (sa) to pray for relief, the Prophet (sa) was upset and recalled the trials of the people of the past. The Prophet (sa) wanted to instill patience in him, make him realize his potential, and have faith in the ultimate victory of Islam.
- Allah (swt) allowed him to witness His justice: Umm Ammar developed a disease on her head that drove her insane – she tried to cauterize her head and finally died of the pain. He also witnessed Hamzah (rtam) killing Siba’a during the Battle of Uhud.
- Allah (swt) revealed an Ayah in support of Khabbab (rtam), when As bin Wail refused to pay him out of arrogance and hatred for Islam.
- He became very wealthy; yet, in his humility, he feared losing his Jannah, because Allah (swt) had blessed him in this life.
- Towards the end of his life, in the Caliphate of Ali (rtam), he became so sick he had to be cauterized seven times on his stomach, and he is reported to have refrained from wishing for his death because the Prophet (sa) forbade it.
- On returning from the Battle of Siffin, Ali (rtam) passed by Khabbab’s (rtam) grave and prayed for Allah’s (swt) mercy on him, for he had accepted Islam wholeheartedly, migrated for Allah (swt), lived his whole life as a Mujahid and suffered physically in ways that no one else had suffered.