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Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra)

A Badri Companion of the Holy Prophet(sa)

(Friday Sermon - November 20, 2020 )

Background

Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari’s name was Hazrat Khalid(ra) and his father was Zaid bin Kulayb. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 6, Hazrat Abu Ayub al-Ansari [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003], 22)

He is known by his name as well as his title. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) belonged to the Banu Najjar branch of the Ansar tribe of Khazraj.

Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) was blessed with the opportunity to do the Bai‘at on the occasion of the second pledge at Aqabah along with 70 other companions. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari’s mother was Hind bint Saeed, whereas, according to one narration, her name was Zahra bint Saad. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari’s wife was Hazrat Umm-e-Hasan(ra) bint Zaid, who bore a son by the name of Abdur-Rahman.

The Holy Prophet(sa) formed a bond of brotherhood between Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) and Hazrat Mus‘ab(ra) bin Umair. (Ibn Abd al-Barr, Al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifat al-Ashab, Vol. 2, Hazrat Khalid bin Zaid [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995], 200.) (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3, Hazrat Abu Ayub al-Ansari [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], 368-369)

Hosting the Holy Prophet(sa)

When the Holy Prophet(sa) migrated to Medina, he stayed with Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) until the construction of Masjid-e-Nabawi and his house. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 6, Hazrat Abu Ayub al-Ansari [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2003], 23)

In Sirat Khatam-un-Nabiyyin [The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets(sa)], Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) has mentioned the following in relation to the Holy Prophet’s stay in the house of Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra):

“When the Holy Prophet(sa) reached the Banu Najjar, the question once again posed itself as to which person the Holy Prophet(sa) would stay with. Every individual of the tribe was desirous that he be the one to receive this honour. As a matter of fact, in the fervour of their love, some would even take hold of the reins of the camel belonging to the Holy Prophet(sa). Upon seeing this, the Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘Leave my camel, for at this time, it has been divinely inspired.’

“In other words, wherever Allah so desired it would sit down itself; and upon saying this, the Holy Prophet(sa) also released its reins. The camel gracefully advanced and sat down when it reached the place where, later, the Masjid-e-Nabawi, and the living quarters of the Holy Prophet(sa), were built. At the time, this was an uncultivated plot of land, which was the property of two children from Medina. Immediately, however, it stood up and began to move forward; but after a few steps, it once again returned to its initial place of resting, and sat down. The Holy Prophet(sa) stated:

ھٰذَا اِنْ شَاءَ اللّٰہُ الْمَنْزِلُ

“‘It seems as if the Will of Allah desires that this be our place of residence.’

“After this, the Holy Prophet(sa) supplicated to Allah and dismounted from his camel. Then the Holy Prophet(sa) enquired as to whose home was closest from that place. Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) rushed forward and said, ‘O Messenger(sa) of Allah! It is mine, and this is the entrance to my home. You are most welcome.’

“The Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘Alright, then go and prepare a place for me to stay.’

“Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) immediately prepared his home and returned. The Holy Prophet(sa) proceeded inside along with him. This was a two-story home. Abu Ayub(ra) desired that the Holy Prophet(sa) stay on the top floor. However, taking into consideration the ease of those people who would come to visit, the Holy Prophet(sa) preferred the ground-floor and resided there.

“At nightfall, Abu Ayub(ra) and his wife could not sleep all night in the thought that the Holy Prophet(sa) was beneath them, and they were above him. In addition to this, it so happened that during the night a pale of water broke on the roof. In his fear, Abu Ayub(ra) quickly placed his quilt over the water to dry it, in order to prevent even a single droplet of water from seeping through to the ground floor.

“In the morning, he presented himself before the Holy Prophet(sa), and implored the Holy Prophet(sa) to stay on the top floor. At first, the Holy Prophet(sa) hesitated, but upon witnessing the insistence of Abu Ayub(ra), he agreed. The Holy Prophet(sa) stayed in this home for seven months, or according to Ibn Ishaq, he remained here until the month of Safar 2 AH. In other words, the Holy Prophet(sa) remained here until the construction of Masjid-e-Nabawi, and the adjacent living-quarters of the Holy Prophet(sa). Abu Ayub(ra) would present food to the Holy Prophet(sa), and then, whatever would remain of it, he would eat himself. Due to his love and sincerity, he would eat from where the Holy Prophet(sa) had taken his food. Other Companions would also present food to the Holy Prophet(sa).” (Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra), pp. 267, 268)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) has also narrated this incident. Sometimes, there are certain additional details mentioned which have not been heard before, therefore I shall quote the incident in his words as well. Although the incident is more or less the same, however Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) has his own unique style of narration. He writes:

“While the Holy Prophet(sa) was in Medina, everybody longed to have the honour of being his host. As his camel passed through the streets, families would line up to receive the Messenger(sa) of Allah. With one voice, they would say, ‘O Messenger(sa) of Allah! Here we are with our homes, our property and our lives to receive you and stand ready to protect to you. Come and live with us.’ Many would show greater zeal, and would go forward and hold the reins of the camel and insist on the Prophet’s dismounting in front of their doors and entering their houses. Politely the Holy Prophet(sa) would refuse saying, ‘Leave my camel alone. She is under the command of God; she will stop where God wants her to stop.’

“Ultimately it stopped on a site which belonged to orphans of the Banu Najjar tribe. The Holy Prophet(sa) dismounted and said, ‘It seems that this is where God wants us to stop.’ Thereafter, the Holy Prophet(sa) enquired as to who the land belonged to. The guardian of the orphans came forward and informed the Holy Prophet(sa) and then offered the site for the use of the Holy Prophet(sa). The Holy Prophet(sa) replied that he would not accept the offer unless he were allowed to pay. A price was settled and the Holy Prophet(sa) decided to build a mosque and some houses on it. After this, the Holy Prophet(sa) asked who lived nearest to the site. Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) came forward and said that his house was the nearest and that his services were at the Holy Prophet’s(sa) disposal. The Holy Prophet(sa) asked him to prepare a room in his house for him. Abu Ayub’s(ra) house was double-storeyed. He offered to let the Holy Prophet(sa) have the upper storey. But the Holy Prophet(sa) preferred to have the lower storey for the convenience of his visitors.”

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) further writes: “The devotion which the people of Medina had for the Holy Prophet(sa) showed itself again. Abu Ayub(ra) agreed to let the Holy Prophet(sa) have the lower storey, but he and his wife were unable to sleep the entire night in the thought that the Holy Prophet(sa) was residing beneath them. He and his wife thought it discourteous to do so. (This was an expression of their deep love.) At night, a pale of water was accidentally broken and water flowed on the floor. Abu Ayub(ra), fearing lest some water should drip through to the room occupied by the Holy Prophet(sa), took his quilt and with it, dried up the water before any could drip through. In the morning, he presented himself before the Holy Prophet(sa) and narrated the events of the night before, upon hearing this, the Holy Prophet(sa) agreed to occupy the upper storey. Abu Ayub(ra) would prepare the meals daily and present it to the Holy Prophet(sa). Abu Ayub(ra) and his family would then eat whatever remained from it. After a few days, the other members of the Ansar insisted in having a share in serving the Holy Prophet(sa). Until the Holy Prophet(sa) settled in his own house and made his own arrangements, the Muslims of Medina would take turns in presenting their services to the Holy Prophet(sa).” (Dibachah Tafsir al-Quran, Anwar al-Ulum, Vol. 20, pp. 228, 229)

The reference from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) is complete and now the following is a hadith narrated by Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra). Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) narrates that the Holy Prophet(sa) came to his home. The Holy Prophet(sa) stayed on the lower storey of the house while Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) was staying on the upper storey of the house. The narrator says that one night, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) woke up and said that they were walking above the Holy Prophet(sa) and thus moved to one side and spent the entire night in a corner. Later, when he expressed this to the Holy Prophet(sa), he replied by saying that it was easier for him to remain on the lower floor. Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) said that he could not reside on the upper level, while the Holy Prophet(sa) resided beneath it. Thus, the Holy Prophet(sa) moved to the upper level and Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) came down to the lower storey of the house.

“Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) would prepare food for the Holy Prophet(sa) and when whatever remained from the food would be brought back to him, he would enquire from the person who brought it back as to where the Holy Prophet’s(ra) fingers had touched the food and Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) would touch the same places; meaning he ate from the exact place where the Holy Prophet(sa) had eaten from.

Love for the Holy Prophet(sa)

“Once he prepared food for the Holy Prophet(sa) which contained some garlic. When the food was brought back, he enquired once again as to where the Holy Prophet(sa) had eaten from. When he was informed that the Holy Prophet(sa) had not eaten that day, he became worried and went upstairs to the Holy Prophet(sa) to ask whether garlic was haram [forbidden]. The Holy Prophet(sa) replied, ‘No, but I personally dislike it.’ Hearing this, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) said, “If you dislike something, then I dislike it as well,” or he said, “If you do not like something, then I will not like it either.”

The narrator says that angels would visit the Holy Prophet(sa). This is a narration from Sahih Muslim. Since the angels would visit the Holy Prophet(sa), therefore he disliked anything with an unpleasant odour; however, he did not say it was forbidden.

Another narration from Sahih Muslim is also recorded as such; Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) narrates, “When food would be presented to the Holy Prophet(sa), he would eat from it and would send whatever was left to me. One day, he sent back the food, from which he had not eaten at all because it contained garlic. I asked the Holy Prophet(sa) whether this was forbidden, to which he replied, ‘No, but I do not like it due to its smell.’ Upon this, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) said, ‘I also dislike that which you dislike.’” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Ashribah, Bab Ibahat al-Akl al-Thum, Hadith 5356-5358)

There is another narration from Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal in which this same incident has been recorded in the following manner; Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) narrates: “The Holy Prophet(sa) stayed on the lower storey of our home while I was residing on the upper level. Once, some water spilled on the upper level and so I, along with Umm Ayub, began drying the water with a sheet of cloth, for fear that lest some water drips onto the Holy Prophet(sa). Then, I nervously went before the Holy Prophet(sa) and submitted, ‘O Messenger(sa) of Allah, it feels inappropriate for us to be residing above you. I request that you move to the upper level.’ Thus, upon the instruction of the Holy Prophet(sa), his belongings, which comprised of very little, were moved to the upper level.

“I then submitted, ‘O Messenger(sa) of Allah, whenever you sent [some of your] food back to me, I would find the imprints of your fingers and would place my hand on the very same place. Today, however, when you sent the food back to me, I did not find the imprints of your fingers.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) replied, ‘You are right. Actually, it contained onions’” – onions have been mentioned here instead of garlic – “‘and I did not wish to eat it due to the fact that there is an angel who comes to visit me. However, you may eat it.’” (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23966 [Beirut, Lebanon: Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 781)

Participation in Battles and Love of the Holy Prophet(sa) for Abu Ayyub

Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) had the honour of accompanying the Holy Prophet(sa) in all the battles, including the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1990], 369)

Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) relates, “On the day of Badr, the Muslims were arranging themselves in rows, when some people moved ahead of the row. The Holy Prophet(sa) looked at them and said, ‘Remain with me, remain with me’”, meaning they should remain behind him and not move ahead of him. (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23963 [Beirut, Lebanon: ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 780)

Then, there is a narration in regards to the night following the marriage of the Holy Prophet(sa) with Hazrat Safiyyah(ra). Although I have briefly mentioned this before in relation to another account, however I shall mention it again. At night, after the Holy Prophet’s(sa) marriage with Hazrat Safiyyah(ra), Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) stood guard outside the tent with his sword unsheathed and remained on guard for the entire night, circling all four sides of the tent. In the morning, when the Holy Prophet(sa) saw Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) outside the tent, he asked him, “O Abu Ayub, what is the matter?” He replied saying, “O Messenger(sa) of Allah, I feared for your wellbeing since her father, husband and the people of her nation have been killed and she has only recently become a believer. Thus I stood guard the entire night for the sake of your security.” Upon this, the Holy Prophet(sa) prayed for Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra):

 اَللّٰہُمَّ احْفَظْ اَبَا اَیُّوْبَ کَمَا بَاتَ یَحْفَظُنِیْ

“O Allah! Protect Abu Ayub just as he spent the entire night for the sake of my protection.”

Imam Suhaili states that as a result of this prayer offered by the Holy Prophet(sa), Allah the Almighty protected Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra), to the extent that the Romans used to safeguard his grave and would pray by his graveside for water, as a result of which it would rain upon them. (Ali bin Burhan al-Din al-Halabi, Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, Vol. 3, Ghazwat Khaibar [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2002], 65)

Declaration of Faith

Hazrat Mahmood states that he heard from Hazrat Itban bin Malik Ansari(ra) – who was among those who were present alongside the Holy Prophet(sa) in the Battle of Badr – say:

“I used to lead my tribe, Banu Salim, in prayer. Along the way to the mosque, however, there was a small stream which would become difficult for me to cross when it rained. Thus, I went to the Holy Prophet(sa) and submitted, ‘My eyesight has weakened significantly. When it rains heavily, the small stream between my place of residence and the rest of the people becomes flooded and becomes difficult for me to cross. Thus, it is my wish, O Messenger(sa) of Allah, that you come to my home and offer your prayers here, after which I will turn my house into a place for worship.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) replied by saying that he would come.

“The next morning, the Holy Prophet(sa) and Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) came to my home after sunrise. Upon reaching the door, the Holy Prophet(sa) requested permission to enter. I permitted them to enter. When the Holy Prophet(sa) entered the home, he did not sit down; rather, he asked, ‘Which part of the house do you wish for me to offer prayers?’” Since he had requested the Holy Prophet(sa) to come and offer prayers, he asked where he wished for him to offer prayers.

“I pointed to a corner of the house where I desired for the Holy Prophet(sa) to offer his prayers. The Holy Prophet(sa) stood up for prayer and said, ‘Allahu Akbar’ [Allah is the Greatest]. We stood behind him forming a row for prayer. The Holy Prophet(sa) led two rak‘aat [units] of prayer and then offered the salaam. When the Holy Prophet(sa) said salaam, we also said salaam. I then requested the Holy Prophet(sa) to stay a little longer to eat khazeerah (a dish prepared from meat and flour or bread) which was still being prepared. Some other residents of the area had heard that the Holy Prophet(sa) was visiting my home, and so they came running and eventually many people had gathered in my home. One of them said, ‘Where is Malik? I do not see him.’ Another person replied, ‘He is a hypocrite.’”

One of the individuals was asking regarding the whereabouts of another companion and to this he responded by saying, “‘He was a hypocrite and has no love for Allah or His Messenger(sa), which is why he did not come.’ Upon hearing this, the Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘Do not say this. Has he not professed the Islamic creed of لا اله الا اللہ [There is none worthy of worship except Allah] in the hope of attaining the pleasure of God?’ The one who said the aforementioned statement then said, ‘God and His Messenger(sa) know best’. He then said, ‘However, we only see him having ties and taking to the hypocrites.’ Upon this, the Holy Prophet(sa) stated, ‘Hell has been forbidden on the one who declares لا اله الا اللہ [there is none worthy of worship except Allah] in a manner whereby they seek the pleasure of Allah.’”

Rationalization of Narrations

Hazrat Mahmud(ra) bin Rabi narrates, “I mentioned this saying of the Holy Prophet(sa) to a few other people, including Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra), a companion of the Holy Prophet(sa). At the time, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) was taking part in the battle against the Byzantine forces under the command of Yazid bin Muawiyah and he died during this battle in the Byzantine territory. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) dismissed what I had stated, saying, ‘By God, I cannot accept that the Holy Prophet(sa) would have ever stated what you just narrated,’” i.e. the narration that Hell would be forbidden on the one who simply declares لا اله الا اللہ [there is none worthy of worship except Allah].

Nonetheless, he further narrates, “I was greatly perturbed by this matter and became anxious. I made a vow to Allah the Almighty that if He enabled me to return safely from this battle, I would go and enquire about this matter from Hazrat Itban(ra) bin Malik, so long as he was alive when I went to visit the mosque of his tribe. Thus, I returned and in order to perform Hajj or Umrah, I entered into a state of ihram [sacred state for the intention of performing the pilgrimage]. I then departed and reached Medina and went to that part of Medina where the Banu Salim resided. I went to Hazrat Itban(ra) who had become very frail and his vision had deteriorated. He was leading his people in prayer. When he concluded his prayer, I offered him the greetings of peace and introduced myself to him. I then asked him concerning the matter. He narrated the exact same incident he had mentioned previously to me.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tahajjud, Bab Salat al-Nawafil Jama’atan, Hadith 1186) (Lughat al-Hadith, Vol. 1, p. 580)

In other words, he had indeed heard the Holy Prophet(sa) say, “Hell would be forbidden for the one who declared لا الہ الا اللہ [there is none worthy of worship except Allah]”; however, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) did not accept this narration.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) has written his opinion on this matter. In the hadith, it states:

مَنْ قَالَ لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا اللّٰہُ یَبْتَغِیْ بِذٰلِکَ وَجْہَ اللّٰہِ

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) has quoted the entire hadith; I shall read the translation, which will shed further light on this matter. He writes:

“Mahmud bin Rabi narrates, ‘I heard from Itban bin Malik that the Prophet(sa) of Allah said, ‘Allah the Exalted has prohibited the fire of hell upon all those who in full sincerity and to seek the pleasure of God Alone, declare that there is none worthy of worship except Allah.’” Mahmud(ra) added, “I told the above narration to some people in a gathering where the companion, Abu Ayub(ra) was also present. Abu Ayub(ra) denounced the narration and said, ‘By God, I cannot at all presume that the Holy Prophet(sa) might have said so.’

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) further writes: “In this hadith, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) refused to accept a narration on the basis of dirayat, though it seemed authentic with reference to riwayat”, i.e. based on the principles of hadith related to the chain of narrators. Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) refused to accept the narration based upon the principles [of verifying ahadith] which he deemed to be correct.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) further writes: “It is quite possible that the argumentation and rationalization of Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) is incorrect, but nonetheless, this hadith is proof of the fact that the companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) did not blindly accept every hadith that reached them. Quite to the contrary, they would accept ahadith only after a thorough investigation, whilst utilising both the principles of riwayat and dirayat.” (Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra), p. 16)

In other words, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib(ra) proves from this that the companions did not just blindly accept every hadith; rather, they would carefully ponder over it and study it.

Under the Commentary of this hadith from Sahih Bukhari, Hazrat Syed Waliullah Shah Sahib(ra) has written: “When Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) heard this narration from Mahmud bin Rabi, he refused to accept it. Some are of the opinion that the reason he questioned this narration was because he believed that simply declaring declares لا اله الا اللہ [there is none worthy of worship except Allah] will not safeguard one from the hellfire, unless one also performs virtuous deeds alongside it. This is an established Islamic principle …”

Indeed, this is correct, but then Shah Sahib(ra) further writes, “… however, the clause  یَبْتَغِیْ بِذٰلِکوَجْہَ اللّٰہِ  clarifies the meaning of this declaration of faith, i.e. the one who declares, لا الہ الا للہ There is none worthy of worship except Allah’ with full sincerity and seeking the pleasure of Allah, Hell has been forbidden upon such a person.”

Shah Sahib(ra) further writes, “Hazrat Mahmud(ra) enquired again thinking that perhaps he was unable to memorize and recall some of the words correctly. However, after investigating, he discovered that everything mentioned in that narration was indeed correct.”

He then writes, “It is inappropriate to pass judgement in relation to a person’s faith or to call someone a hypocrite openly before others”, i.e. it is wrong to call someone a hypocrite or tell them they are of weak faith before others “because in this narration, the Holy Prophet(sa) was displeased by this same criticism of Ibn Dukhshum’s character.” The Holy Prophet(sa) disproved of it being publicly announced. “Instead of leading to reformation, this form of criticism leads to evil and discord.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tahajjud, Bab Salat al-Nawafil Jama‘atan, Hadith 1186, Vol. 2, p. 565, Nazarat Isha‘at Rabwah)

In one narration, it is mentioned that when they were at Abwah, a disagreement arose between Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Abbas and Hazrat Miswar(ra) bin Makhramah regarding the ghusal [washing or bathing]. Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Abbas stated that a muhrim [one who is in a state of ihram] can wash their head, whereas Hazrat Miswar(ra) stated that a muhrim cannot wash their head. The narrator states:

“Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Abbas sent me to Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra). At the time, he was bathing between two wooden poles which had a covering around it. I went to him and offered the greetings of peace. He enquired as to who it was, and I replied, ‘I am Abdullah bin Hunain. Hazrat Abdullah(ra) bin Abbas has sent me to you to enquire as to how the Holy Prophet(sa) used to wash his head when he was in a state of Ihram’”, as Hazrat Miswar(ra) claimed that one should not wash their head in a state of Ihram.

“Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) placed his hand on the cloth covering and lowered it enough so that I was able to see his head (i.e. he lowered the screen that was used as a covering) and showed me his head and instructed the one who was pouring water over him to pour the water. He poured water over Hazrat Abu Ayub’s(ra) head and he passed both his hands over his head from back to front and from front to back and then stated, ‘I have seen the Holy Prophet(sa) do this’”, i.e. to wash the head in a way that he would pass his hands over his head and then back. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Said, Bab al-Ightisal li al-Muhrim, Hadith 1840)

Hazrat Saeed(ra) bin Musayyib narrates, “On one occasion, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) saw a piece of straw or something similar in the beard of the Holy Prophet(sa) and removed it. He then showed the Holy Prophet(sa) [what it was]. The Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘May Allah remove from Abu Ayub that which displeases him.’” In a different narration the Holy Prophet(sa) said, “O Abu Ayub! May all your difficulties be removed.” (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 13, p. 614, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 37568, 37569, Maktabat Mu‘assisat al-Risalah, Beirut, 1985)

Trust and Respect of Companions for Abu Ayyub

Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) was at the front of Hazrat Ali’s army during the Battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrawan. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 6, Hazrat Abu Ayub al-Ansari [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2003], 22)

One can gauge the level of trust Hazrat Ali(ra) had in Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) from the fact that when Hazrat Ali(ra) declared Kufa to be the Capital [of the Muslim empire] and moved there, he appointed Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) as the Governor of Medina. He remained the governor of Medina until 40 AH when the Syrian army of Amir Muawiyah under the command of Busr bin Abi Artat invaded Medina. Owing to this, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) left Medina to be with Hazrat Ali(ra) in Kufa.

After the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa), the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) would be given a monthly stipend from the Khalifa. Initially Hazrat Abu Ayub’s stipend was 4,000, but during the Khilafat of Hazrat Ali(ra) it was increased to 20,000. Initially, eight workers were assigned to cultivate the land belonging to Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra), but Hazrat Ali(ra) increased this to 40. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1987], 153) (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Isha‘ah, 2004], 112)

Hazrat Habeeb bin Abi Thabit narrates, “Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) once came to Amir Muawiyah and complained about an outstanding debt. Amir Muawiyah took no notice of what pleased Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) but instead turned his attention to what displeased him”, i.e. he overlooked Hazrat Abu Ayub’s predicament and instead turned his attention to what had displeased him.

“Upon this, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) said, ‘I heard the Holy Prophet(sa) say, “Later on, you will see that people’s priorities will change.”’ Amir Muawiyah stated, ‘What did the Holy Prophet(sa) command you to do in such circumstances?’ Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) replied, ‘The Holy Prophet(sa) instructed us to demonstrate patience,’” i.e. when the priorities change and their requests are not heard, then they ought to demonstrate patience.

“Amir Muawiyah said, ‘Then you ought to show patience. If the Holy Prophet(sa) has instructed to demonstrate patience, then you should be patient.’ Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) then stated, ‘By Allah! I will never make any request from you in the future.’ Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) then moved to Basra and stayed with Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra). Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) emptied his house for him and said to him, ‘Most certainly I will extend the same hospitality to you just as you extended to the Holy Prophet(sa).’ Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) instructed his family to leave and said to Hazrat Abu Ayub, ‘Whatever is in the house belongs to you.’ He also gave him 40,000 dirhams and 20 servants.”

He made other arrangements for himself and not only gave him 40,000 dirhams, but also 20 servants. (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 13, p. 614-615, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 37570, Maktabat Mu‘assisat al-Risalah, Beirut, 1985)

In the commentary of the verse:

وَاَنْفِقُوْا فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰہِ وَلَا تُلْقُوْا بِاَیْدِیْکُمْ اِلَى التَّہْلُکَۃِ وَاَحْسِنُوْا اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِیْنَ 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) has stated: “People have erred greatly in their understanding of the verse:

وَاَنْفِقُوْا فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰہِ وَلَا تُلْقُوْا بِاَیْدِیْکُمْ اِلَى التَّہْلُکَۃِ وَاَحْسِنُوْا اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِیْنَ

“From this, they infer that whenever they are faced with a difficulty in the way of Allah, they immediately say that this is akin to ruining oneself with one’s own hands. They claim that since Allah the Almighty Himself has stated, ‘And cast not yourselves into ruin with your own hands,’ therefore they are unable to partake in such matters. However, this verse does not mean that whenever a Muslim is faced with a trial [from Allah the Almighty] whereby his life is under threat, he ought to run away from it and show cowardice. In actuality the meaning of this verse is that when there is war against the enemy, one ought to readily spend one’s wealth in this cause. If one does not spend their wealth, it will be akin to ruining oneself with their own hands.

“A narration is found in the ahadith in which Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) said when he had gone to conquer Constantinople, ‘This verse was revealed regarding us, the Ansar.’ He then further stated, ‘Initially we would spend our wealth in the way of God Almighty. But then when God Almighty established His religion and honoured it by granting Muslims victory, we stated:

قُلْنَا ہَلْ نُقِیْمُ فِیْ اَمْوَالِنَا وَ نُصْلِحُہَا

“That is, it would be better if we safeguard our wealth and save it. At that time, this verse was revealed that one should not hold back in spending in the way of Allah Almighty for if one does that then it will be akin to casting oneself to ruin. Therefore, you ought not to accumulate wealth, rather spend it in the way of Allah the Almighty, otherwise your lives will go in vain and the enemy will overcome you and you will be completely destroyed.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 429)

After Hazrat Ali(ra), when the era of Amir Muawiyah’s rule started, Uqbah(ra) bin Amir Juhani was appointed by him as the governor of Egypt. During Hazrat Uqbah’s(ra) rule as governor, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) had the opportunity to travel to Egypt twice. The first time was for the purpose of recording a hadith as he had come to know that Hazrat Uqbah(ra) used to relate a particular hadith. Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) endured the hardship of travels in his advanced years for just one hadith. The second time he travelled to Egypt was with the intention to take part in the battle against the Byzantines. (Sheikh Shah Muinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Isha‘ah, 2004], 113)

When Marwan was serving as the governor of Medina, he once saw that someone had placed his face on the grave of the Holy Prophet(sa). Upon this, Marwan observed, “Do you know what you are doing? This is shirk for you are prostrating before it.” When Marwan came a little closer, he saw that it was Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) and he replied, “I have to come to visit the Holy Prophet(sa) and not these stones.” (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23983 [Beirut, Lebanon: Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 785) (Sheikh Shah Muinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Isha‘ah, 2004], 116)

To clarify the aforementioned incident, what he meant by this was that he had lowered himself out of his deep love for the Holy Prophet(sa) and he was not prostrating to the stones. He was not committing any shirk, rather it was an expression of his love and even whilst doing this he had the belief in the oneness of God and there was no aspect of shirk.

Abu Abdur Rahman Hubli narrates that they were travelling by sea and Abdullah bin Qais Fazari was appointed as their Amir and Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) was also with them. When Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) walked past the individual who was responsible for distributing the spoils of battle and was overseeing the prisoners, he noticed that a woman was crying. Upon enquiring what had happened to her, he was informed by the people that she and her son had been separated. The narrator of the tradition states that Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) took hold of the child’s hand and placed it in the hand of his mother. Subsequently, the individual who was appointed to distribute the spoils of battle went to Abdullah bin Qais and informed him of what had just happened. Abdullah bin Qais called for Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) and asked why he acted in this manner. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) replied, “I heard the Messenger(sa) of Allah say, ‘Allah the Almighty will cause such a person who causes a mother and son to be distanced from one another, to be distanced from his loved ones on the Day of Judgment.’” (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23985 [Beirut, Lebanon: ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 64.)

Hence, there is an important lesson for those people who separate children from their mothers. Islam shows great compassion in such matters; however, those who level allegations against Islam ought to look at their own actions.

Hazrat Mursad(ra) bin Abdillah narrates, “When Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) came to us to take part in Jihad, Hazrat Uqbah(ra) bin Amir was the governor of Egypt at the time. One day, he offered the Maghrib prayers slightly later than its prescribed time. Upon this, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) went to him and said, ‘O Uqbah, what kind of prayer is this?’ Hazrat Uqbah(ra) replied that he was preoccupied in something. Upon this, Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) replied, ‘I swear by Allah, my only intention in saying this is so that people do not think that you saw the Messenger(sa) of Allah doing this. Have you not heard the Messenger(sa) of Allah say, “My Ummah will remain established on virtue – or perhaps he said that it will remain established on fitrah [pure disposition] – for as long as it does not delay offering the Maghrib prayer to the extent that the stars begin to shine.”’” (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23931 [Beirut, Lebanon: Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 773)

Thus, one ought to offer the Maghrib prayer in the earlier part of its prescribed time.

Abu Wasil narrates, “I once met Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) and shook his hand and noticing that my nails were very long he said that the Holy Prophet(sa) once stated, ‘There are some among you who ask about heavenly matters and yet their nails are so long like the claws of a pigeon that impurity and filth begins to gather in it.’” (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23938 [Beirut, Lebanon: Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 775)

In other words, they would ask highly intellectual question and yet their condition was such that their nails were extremely long. Since filth begins to gather in them, therefore one should cut their nails. This is a narration from Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal.

Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) had such a lofty status that the companions would seek solutions to various matters from him. Hazrat Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Baraa bin Aazib, Anas bin Malik, Abu Umamah, Zaid bin Khalid Juhani, Miqdam bin Ma‘di, Karib, Jabir bin Samurah, Abdullah bin Yazid Khatmy, etc., who had all directly received training from the Holy Prophet(sa), would benefit from the knowledge of Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra). Similarly, among the Tabi‘een [those who had met the Companions(ra)] which included prominent individuals like Saeed bin Musayyib, Urwah bin Zubair, Salim bin Abdillah, Atta bin Yassar, Atta bin Yazid Laithi, Abu Salama, and Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila, etc., all held Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) in high esteem. (Sheikh Shah Muinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Isha‘ah, 2004], 115)

It has been related from Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) that he left to take part in Jihad during the rule of Amir Muawiyah. He states, “I became severally ill and told my fellow companions that if I passed away, they should carry me until they were stood in their rows to fight the enemy and bury me in the ground below them. ‘I shall share a hadith with you which I heard from the Messenger(sa) of Allah. If my demise was not imminent, I would never have related it. I heard the Messenger(sa) of Allah say, ‘Whoever dies in a state whereby they never committed any shirk [associating partners with Allah] shall enter paradise.’”

In another narration it states that nearer to the time of his demise, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) stated, “I have kept hidden something from you which I had heard from the Messenger(sa) of Allah. The Messenger(sa) of Allah stated, ‘If you did not commit sin, then Allah the Most Exalted would have brought about a people who would have committed sin and Allah would then grant them His forgiveness.’”

In other words, this is the extent to which Allah the Almighty Manifests His attribute of mercy and forgiveness.

The narrator, Muhammad relates that Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) took part in the Battle of Badr and was never absent from any of the battles in which the Muslims fought, except if he was engaged in another battle that was taking place at the same time. In other words, if two battles were taking place at one time, he would certainly be present in one of them.

It was only one year that he did not take part in battle because the commander who was appointed over the army was very young and so, that year, he remained behind from taking part in any battle. After that year, he would always express his regret by saying, “What concern was it of mine as to who was appointed over me? What concern was it of mine as to who was appointed over me? What concern was it of mine as to who was appointed over me?” He repeated this three times.

It is narrated that the youth who was appointed to take command of the army was Abdul Malik bin Marwan. The narrator further states that Hazrat Abu Ayub(ra) fell ill and at the time, Yazid bin Muawiyah was the commander of the army. He came to visit Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) and asked if there was anything he required. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) replied, “My only desire is that if I pass away, then carry me to the land of the enemy as far as you possible can. When you can no longer carry me, then bury there and return.”

When Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) passed away, he placed him on a mount and as far as it was possible for him, he took him into the enemy’s land and buried him and returned.

The narrator relates that Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) used to say, “God Almighty has stated:

اِنْفِرُوْا خِفَافًا وَّ ثِقَالًا

‘Go forth, light and heavy’ [Ch.9: V.41] and I find myself both light and heavy.”

It is mentioned in a narration of a resident of Mecca that when Yazid bin Muawiyah went to Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra), he told him to convey his salaam and farewell to the people and that they should take him as far as they can go. Yazid therefore informed the people of everything Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) had said to him. The people accepted this and carried his body as far as they possibly could.

Even after the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa), Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) continued to perform Jihad up until his demise in Constantinople.

Demise

It is mentioned in a narration that in 52 AH, Yazid bin Muawiyah fought in the battle in Constantinople during the rule of his father, Amir Muawiyah, and in the same year, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) passed away.

Yazid bin Muwaiyah led his funeral prayer and his grave is by a fortress in Constantinople. The narrator states that he learnt that the Romans protected his grave and maintained it and through him, they sought water during the days of drought. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1990], 369-270) (Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahabah, Vol. 2, Khalid bin Zaid [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1995], 201) (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 7, Musnad Abu Ayub Ansari, Hadith 23912 [Beirut, Lebanon: Alam al-Kutub, 1998], 768)

According to a narration, during the rule of Amir Muawiyah, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) fought in the battle against the Byzantine government under the command of Yazid. He passed away and was buried near the city of Constantinople in 50 AH or 51 AH.

According to another narration, Yazid ordered his cavalry to run back and forth over the grave of Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) until there remained no sign of it.

It is also mentioned that the morning after when Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) was buried, the Romans enquired of the Muslims as to what they were doing at night. The Muslims replied by saying, “Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) was among the revered companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) and had accepted Islam before any of us. We buried him as you can see. By God, if his grave is dug up, then as long as we have authority, your [church] bells shall not ring in the Arab lands.”

Mujahid states that whenever a drought would befall them, they would move some dirt off the grave of [Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra)] and rain would begin to fall. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 6, Hazrat Abu Ayub al-Ansari [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003], 23)

This narration has been recorded, but Allah knows best how accurate it is. Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) passed away during the battle in Constantinople in 50 AH, 51 AH or 52 AH; however, the majority are of the opinion that it was in 52 AH. (Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahabah, Vol. 2, Khalid bin Zaid [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995], 201)

The grave of Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra) is in the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The grave is in a terrace, which is closed off by a brass grid door. Many people in Turkey visit it for the purpose of seeking comfort and peace. (Salman bin Akhtar, Tabarrukat Sahabah ka Taswiri Album [Karachi, Pakistan: Maktabat Arsalan, 2011], 35, 50)