بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِِ

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Hazrat Abdullah bin Rawaha(ra)

A Badri Companion of the Holy Prophet(sa)

(Friday Sermon - March 16, 2018 )

Background

Then we have the companion of the Holy Prophet(sa), Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha who was a renowned poet of Arabia and was also known by his title of “Poet of the Messenger(sa)”.

(Sirat Al-Sahab, Vol. 3, p. 409, Darul-Isha‘at, Karachi 2004)

After the Battle of Badr had ended, he was the one who delivered the message of victory to the people of Medina.

(Al-Tabqat Al-Kubra Li-ibni Sa‘d, Vol. 3, p. 398, Bab Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha, Darul Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyah, Beirut 1990)

Devotion, love and honour for the Prophet(sa)

There are incidents where Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha expressed his devotion, love and sense of honour for the Holy Prophet(sa), one of which is as follows:

Urwah related that Usama bin Zaid informed him that the Holy Prophet(sa) was mounted on a donkey which had a saddle, beneath which was a cloth from the region of Fadak. He had Usama sitting behind him. He had travelled to the tribe of Banu Harith bin Khazraj to enquire of the health of Hazrat Sa‘d bin Abadah. This incident took place before the Battle of Badr.

The Holy Prophet(sa) passed by a group of people, which comprised of Muslims, idolaters and Jews who all sat together. Among them was Abdullah bin Ubayy and also in this assembly was Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha. When the Holy Prophet(sa) drew closer to the group, his mount caused a little dust to swirl up in the air. Abdullah bin Ubayy covered his nose with his cloth and said, “Don’t spread dust on us.” The Holy Prophet(sa) said to them “Peace be upon you.” Then he stopped and dismounted. He began calling them to Allah the Exalted and reciting the Holy Quran to them.

Abdullah bin Ubayy said to the Holy Prophet(sa) “O you, this is not good. Even if what you say is true, do not come to our gathering and trouble us. So return to where you came from and relate only to those who come to you.”

Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha, who was also seated there said, “O Messenger of Allah! You may come to our gatherings we very much like this.”

(Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Jihad Wa Al-Siyar, Bab Fi Du’a Al-Nabi(sa) Wa Sabarihi, Hadith 4659)

He did not give heed as to what his leader was saying. This was the sense of honour and love which Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha overwhelmingly expressed for the Holy Prophet(sa) and did not care one bit for the chiefs and worldly people.

Obedience

Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) relates that the Holy Prophet(sa) sent forth some companions on an expedition, among whom was Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha. It was a Friday and the other companions in this expedition had already left in the morning. He said “I shall offer my Jumu’ah Prayer with the Holy Prophet(sa) and then join them.”

When the Holy Prophet(sa) saw him present in the mosque, after completing the Friday Prayers, he asked, “What is it that hindered you from leaving with your companions?” He answered “O Messenger of Allah! It was my earnest desire and wish to be present during the Friday Prayers with the Holy Prophet(sa) and listen to your sermon. Thereafter I will take another route and meet up with the group.”

The Holy Prophet(sa) stated, “Even if you spent all that was in the earth, you would still not attain the reward of those who, in accordance with the instructions, departed in the morning for the expedition.”

(Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Abwab Al-Jumu’ah, Bab Ma Ja-a Fi Safar Yaum Al-Jumu’ah, Hadith 527)

So here, the emphasis is on obedience being obligatory.  It has been narrated that after this, whenever he went on an expedition or participated in a battle, Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha was always the first to join the group and the last to return to Medina.

(Usdul Ghabah, Vol. 3, p. 236, Abdullahra bin Rawaha, Darul Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyah, Beirut 1996)

Leadership at the Battle of Mu’tah

There is one account in which Urwah bin Zubair narrates that the Holy Prophet(sa) appointed Zaid(ra) bin Haritha as the army commander in the Battle of Mu’tah and stated that if Hazrat Zaid(ra) was martyred then Hazrat Ja’far(ra) bin Abi Talib would be the commander. If he too was martyred, then Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha would assume leadership. If Abdullah(ra) too was martyred, then Muslims were to appoint whoever they desired as commander. When the time came to see off the army, Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha began weeping. People asked Abdullah “Why are you weeping?” He said:

“By God I have absolutely no love nor any desire for the world. However, I heard the Holy Prophet(sa) say, with regards to the Quranic verse:

وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡکُمۡ اِلَّا وَارِدُہَا ۚ کَانَ عَلٰی رَبِّکَ حَتۡمًا مَّقۡضِیًّا

‘And there is not one of you but will come to it. This is a fixed decree with thy Lord.’ (Surah Maryam, Ch. 19, v. 72)

That everyone must face the fire once. Hence, I do not know what my state will be once I have crossed the bridge of Siraat [on the day of reckoning].” (Usdul Ghabah, vol. 3, p. 237, Bab Abdullah(ra) bin Rawah, Darul Kutub Al-`ilmiyah, Beirut 1996)

However, it is narrated that the Holy Prophet(sa) has given such God-fearing people the glad tidings of the best possible end. During the Battle of Mu’tah the Holy Prophet(sa) said regarding the army commanders, “I have seen them in Paradise seated on thrones of gold.”

Thus, these were the people who fulfilled their noble objectives. Their desire for martyrdom is evident in the following poetic couplet, the translation of which is as follows: “May I be struck with such arrows and spears that pass through my intestines to my liver and my martyrdom be accepted before God, so that those who pass by my grave may say, ‘O God, be good to him, what a great warrior he was!’”

Battle of Mu’tah and a desire for martyrdom

Some details of the Battle of Mu’tah, in which he was martyred are that when they reached Mu’tah, they became aware that the Ghassani tribe had requested help against the Muslims from Heraclius, Caesar of Rome and that he had sent an army of 200,000 to combat the Muslims.

At the time, the leaders of the Muslim army consulted each other, and it was decided to send a message to the Holy Prophet(sa) with a request for reinforcements due to this increase in number of the enemy or to take any other action that the Holy Prophet(sa) advised. At this juncture, Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha boosted the morale of the Muslims and his war poetry also came to good use. The Muslim army consisting of 3,000 men advanced towards the opposing army of 200,000.

(Usdul Ghabah, Vol. 3, p. 237, Bab Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha, Darul Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyah, Beirut 1996)

Zaid(ra) bin Arqam narrates Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha’s desire for martyrdom. He states, “Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha took me with him for the battle of Mu’tah, riding together on his camel.” Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha had raised Hazrat Zaid(ra) bin Arqam as an orphan child and had trained him.

He says, “One night I heard Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha reciting a poetic couplet in reminiscence of his family, saying that he would never return home again. He was humming this couplet joyously in which he would address his wife and say ‘Thursday night, when you packed my saddle for this journey in jihad, you were close to me one last time, how wonderful and blessed was your state. There are no imperfections and flaws in you. However, I am here now in the battlefield and I shall never return to you.’”

This was his way of bidding farewell to his family in their absence. When the young Zaid(ra) heard this, he became sad and began weeping. Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha admonished him and said:

“O naive child, what do you have to lose if Allah the exalted grants me martyrdom? If that happens, you will in fact sit on my ride comfortably, all by yourself, and return home.”

 (Usdul Ghabah, vol. 3, pp. 236-237, bab abdullah(ra) bin rawaha, darul kutub al-‘ilmiyah)

Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha demonstrated great mettle in the battlefield. Hazrat Nu‘man bin Bashir would later on narrate, “When Hazrat Ja‘far(ra) was martyred, Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha’s name was called, who, at the time was to the side of the army. He came forward while addressing himself in the following couplet from his war poetry”. The translation of which is:

“O my soul! Will you not battle in such a manner that you give up your life? You have already entered the pool of death and the time for the fulfilment of your desire to attain martyrdom is nigh. If you were to offer your life as a tribute right now, then perhaps you will obtain a good ending.”

Mus‘ab(ra) bin Shiba narrates:

“After the martyrdom of Hazrat Zaid(ra) and Hazrat Ja‘far(ra), Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha came to the front lines. A spear struck him, and a stream of blood gushed forth. He raised his hands, caught this blood and rubbed it on his face after which he fell down in the middle of the army lines of the enemy and the Muslims. However, he continued to encourage the Muslims as their army general until his last breath. While motivating the Muslims in a most effective and passionate manner, he sought their help and said, ‘Look, Muslims! your brother’s body is lying in front of the enemy. Come forward and push the enemy away from this path and drive them out.’” Hence, at that moment the Muslims fiercely and successively attacked the enemies so much so that Hazrat Abdullah also attained martyrdom.”

(Usdul Ghabah, vol. 3, pp. 237-238, bab abdullah(ra) bin rawaha, darul kutub al-‘ilmiyah, beirut 1996)

Qualities described by his wife

His widow related one of his great attributes. She got married after his martyrdom and her husband enquired, “Tell me something about Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha’s pure character.” The lady gave a most beautiful testament in this regard. She replied:

“Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha would never leave the house without offering two rak’at [units] of supererogatory prayers. Similarly, the very first thing he would do after entering the house was, after performing ablution, he would offer two rak’at of supererogatory prayers.”

(al-asabah fi tamiz al-sahaba, vol. 4, p. 74, abdullah(ra) bin rawaha, darul kutub al-‘ilmiyah)

These were the people who would remember Allah the Almighty in every condition and at every moment.

Standard of obedience

There is a narration about his standard of obedience. Hazrat Abu Laila(ra) narrates:

“Once the Holy Prophet(sa) was delivering a sermon during which he said, ‘O people be seated.’ Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha was outside the mosque on his way to listen to the sermon but [hearing the instruction of the Prophet(sa)] he sat, then and there. The Holy Prophet(sa) addressed him and stated:

زَادَكَ اللہُ حِرْصًا عَلَي طَوَاعِيَةِ اللہِ وَ طَوَاعِيَةِ رَسُوْلِهِ

“(O Abdullah bin Rawaha) may Allah the Exalted increase your passion of obeying Allah and his messenger.’”

Passion for spiritual gatherings

What were the standards of these people concerning organizing religious gatherings, engaging in purposeful conversations, fulfilling the due rights of each other? In this regard Hazrat Abu Darda’(ra) narrates:

“I seek refuge from Allah the Exalted that I may face a day when I do not remember Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha. I think of him every single day and this is due to one of his good qualities. Whenever we met, if he would arrive from behind me he would put his hand on my shoulders; if he would arrive from the front he would place his hand on my chest and say, ‘O Abu Darda’! let’s go and let’s sit down together to reinvigorate our faith. Let’s talk about faith.’ We would sit together for as long as possible and remember Allah the Almighty. Then he would say: ‘O Abu Darda’! these are spiritual gatherings.’”

(Usdul Ghabah, vol. 3, p. 236, bab abdullah(ra) bin rawaha, darul kutub al-‘ilmiyah, beirut 1996) 

Hence, those who organized such spiritual gatherings also established models for us to follow and emulate.

How did the Holy Prophet(sa) certify such gatherings and their discussions? Hazrat Anas(ra) narrates:

“It was Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha’s practice that when he would meet his fellow companions, he would urge them:

تَعَالَ نُؤْمِنْ بِرَبِّنَا سَاعَةً

‘Come, let’s believe in our lord for a while.’

One day, he said the same thing to a man but the man got angry at this. He went to the Holy Prophet(sa) and complained: ‘O Messenger(sa) of Allah! look at Abdullah bin Rawaha. He is turning people away from believing in you and is inviting them to believe for a short while.’ the Holy Prophet(sa) said:

يَرْحَمُ اللّٰهُ ابْنَ رَوَاحَة

‘May Allah have mercy on Abdullah bin Rawaha. He is fond of such gatherings which the angels also take pride in.’”

(Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, vol. 4, p. 676, hadith 13832, musnad anas bin malik(ra), alam al-kutub al-‘ilmiyah, beirut 1998)

An illustrious poet

He was an illustrious poet. Amongst the companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) aside from Hazrat Ka‘b bin Malik and Hazrat Hassan bin Thabit, he was among the three illustrious poets. His poetry was in the Razmiya [epic tales] style.

The author of Mu‘jam Al-Shu‘ara wrote:

“Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Rawaha was also a renowned poet in the jahiliyya [pre-Islam era] period, and even after the dawn of Islam he held a prominent status. Hazrat Abdullah(ra) composed such a couplet in praise of the Holy Prophet(sa) that can be termed as his best couplet. This couplet beautifully captures the state of his heart in which Hazrat Abdullah addresses the Holy Prophet(sa):

لَوْ لَمْ تَكُنْ فِيْهِ آيَاتٌ مُّبَيِّنَةٌ

كَانَتْ بَدِيْهَتُهُ تُنْبِيْكَ بِالْخَبَرِ

‘O Muhammad! Even if you were without the countless luminous signs that radiate your truthfulness and veracity, your countenance alone was enough to declare your truthfulness.’”

(al-asabah fi tamiz al-sahaba, vol. 4 p. 75, abdullah bin rawaha, darul kutub al-‘ilmiyah, beirut 2005)

These people were true ardent devotees of the Holy Prophet(sa) , who recognised the truth by merely seeing the countenance of the Holy Prophet(sa).