(Friday Sermon - March 30, 2018 )
Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah(ra) was a companion of the Holy Prophet(sa). He was the son of Hazrat Abdullah bin Amr bin Haram. Abdullah bin Amr bin Haram was the same companion about whom I narrated in a Friday sermon a few weeks ago that upon his martyrdom the Holy Prophet(sa) stated, “God Almighty asked him what his wish was, so He may fulfil it?” He replied, “O Allah! My wish is to be granted life again and to be returned to the world, so that I may attain martyrdom again for Your cause.” Since this was against the established practice of God Almighty, He said, “I cannot do this, for the dead cannot be returned to the world.” (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Abwab Tafseer-ul-Quran, Hadith No. 3010) “Tell me if there is anything else.” Nevertheless, this narration highlights his standard of sacrifice and his exceptional treatment by God Almighty.
Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah(ra) was the son of a great companion. He had performed Bai‘at [Oath of Initiation] at the occasion of the Second Pledge of al-Aqabah, when he was a young child. (Usdul Ghabah, Vol. 1, p. 492, Dar-ul-Ilmiyya, Beirut 1996).
With regards to the narrations about Hazrat Abdullah bin Amr bin Haram, it is mentioned that he said to his son, “For the debt, which I owe to one of the Jews, you should sell the fruits from the orchard and return it to him upon my martyrdom.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Janaiz, Hadith No. 1351) Thus, in line with this narration, he paid it back accordingly.
Moreover, it was the custom in those days that people would borrow money against the assurance to pay it back through the potential yield of orchards and crops. Thus, Hazrat Jabir also used to borrow money in order to cover his expenses.
We find one detailed narration regarding how he once said to a Jewish man at the time of paying back his debt, that since the profit from the orchard had been poor or that it was expected to be low due to a poor yield that year, thus, he should be lenient regarding paying back the debt. He should take some of it now and the rest in the coming years. However, the Jewish man was not ready to grant any respite.
During these difficult circumstances, Hazrat Abdullah bin Jabir went to see the Holy Prophet(sa) or the Holy Prophet(sa) found out about it himself. The Holy Prophet(sa) appealed to the Jewish man, but he did not agree. The narration then recounts how the Holy Prophet(sa) showed kindness to this companion with regards to paying off his debt and prayed for him and also how God Almighty bestowed His grace upon him.
I would like to point out that some people are of the opinion that this narration is in connection with the aforementioned narration in which it was said that Hazrat Abdullah bin Amr, the father of Hazrat Jabir, advised his son to pay back the debt that he owed. Nonetheless, as I mentioned earlier that the yield was poor and it was difficult to pay back that debt and this was brought to the attention of the Holy Prophet(sa).
However, the narration found in Sahih Al-Bukhari indicates that this particular incident occurred much later. Nevertheless, whatever the case may be, it illustrates the kindness of the Holy Prophet(sa) towards his companions and shows the miraculous nature of his prayers.
Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah narrates, “There was a Jewish man residing in Medina who used to loan me some money until my orchard of dates had produced the next yield. This land of mine was situated on the way to a well, named Roma. Once, a whole year had passed but it bore little fruit and even they were not fully ripe. During the harvest season, the Jewish man, as was his custom, came to acquire repayment of the loan taken from him. However, I had not harvested any fruit that year.” He further says, “I requested respite from him for another year, but he refused. He intended that perhaps in this way the entire orchard would fall into his possession. When the Holy Prophet(sa) was informed about this incident, he said to his companions, ‘Let us go to request respite from the Jewish man on behalf of Jabir.’”
He then says, “The Holy Prophet(sa) along with a few companions, entered my orchard and spoke to the Jewish man. However, he said ‘O Abu Qasim! I will not give him any respite.’ He addressed the Holy Prophet(sa) in this manner. Observing this conduct of the Jewish man, the Holy Prophet(sa) walked around the date palms once and again spoke to him. However, he refused again. During this time, I took some dates from the garden and presented them to the Holy Prophet(sa), which he ate. Following this, he said ‘Jabir, where is the canopy (where one takes rest), which is commonly found in orchards?’ I informed the Holy Prophet(sa) of its location, upon which he said, ‘Lay down a mat for me there so that I may rest for a short while.’”
He then continues the narration, “I acted in accordance with this guidance. The Holy Prophet(sa) fell asleep. When he woke up, I once again brought him a handful of dates, from which he ate a few. He then stood up and spoke to the Jewish man once again. Yet, he still refused. The Holy Prophet(sa) walked around the garden again and said to me, ‘Jabir, harvest the dates and pay off the loan taken from the Jewish man’. I started to harvest the fruit and in the meantime, the Holy Prophet(sa) stood among the date palms. I harvested the fruit and repaid the entire loan taken from the Jewish man, yet even then some dates were left over. I informed the Holy Prophet(sa) of this good news to which he replied, ‘I bear witness that I am the Messenger of Allah.’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul At’amah, Hadith No. 5443).
(This miraculous event transpired because God Almighty hears my prayers and blesses my endeavours.)
Thus, from this incident where we observe the kindness and the acceptance of the prayers of the Holy Prophet(sa) – as a result of which the fruit was blessed – at the same time we also witness the eagerness of the companions in relation to paying off their debts.
This spirit should be the distinctive characteristic of a true believer. At times, we see in our society that despite calling ourselves Ahmadis, we do not pay any heed towards this and prolong the matter of paying off debts. Sometimes years pass by in which the lawsuits are ongoing. Therefore we should always be mindful of this and also remember the words of the Promised Messiah(as) where he stated that having taken the oath of allegiance with him, one should adopt and follow the examples of the companions. Only then can that beautiful society be established, which was destined following the advent of the Mahdi and the Messiah. (Malfuzat, Vol. 7, p. 413)
There is another narration by Hazrat Jabir in relation to the importance of paying off debts. However before I relate this, I will mention another incident. In some narrations it is stated that when Hazrat Umar(ra) learnt that the debt had been paid off, he also arrived at the same place. The Holy Prophet(sa) said to Hazrat Umar(ra) to ask Hazrat Jabir about the incident that had just occurred. Hazrat Umar(ra) replied, “There is no need for me to ask. The reason for this is that when you walked around the garden once, I was certain that his entire debt would now be paid off. Furthermore, when you walked around the second time, this certainty grew even stronger.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Istiqraaz, Hadith No. 2396)
As I mentioned previously, an account in relation to the importance of paying off debts is narrated by Hazrat Jabir. Once, a companion passed away in a state whilst he was in debt of two Dinar and the Holy Prophet(sa) refused to personally offer his funeral prayer. Upon hearing this, another companion took the responsibility of paying off his debt, as a result of which the Holy Prophet(sa) led his funeral prayer. The following day, the Holy Prophet(sa) enquired from the companion who took this responsibility upon himself whether or not he had paid off the debt of two Dinar. (Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 5, pp. 104-105).
Thus, this is the importance of paying off debts and the concern one should show in this regard.
There is another narration by Hazrat Jabir in which the Holy Prophet(sa) stated, “Whatever a believer leaves in terms of wealth and property, it is inherited by his family and relatives. Moreover, if he leaves behind a debt and his property and the wealth he leaves behind are not sufficient in order to pay off the debt, or in the case that he leaves behind children without any means of support, his orphaned children and the payment of the debt will be taken care of.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitabul Jumuah, Hadith No. 2005)
In other words, the government and those in authority will take the responsibility for this. The upbringing of orphans and making arrangements for their expenditures have greatly been emphasised in the Holy Quran. Hence, for this very reason the Holy Prophet(sa) said that this is the responsibility of the government.
It seems as if these are two separate narrations. On the one hand, the Holy Prophet(sa) refused to offer the funeral prayer of a person who was in debt of two Dinars but on the other hand, he said that it is the responsibility of the government. These are referring to two different occasions. The first incident highlights the importance of debts to those that take loans unnecessarily and also urges their relatives and those left behind to take the responsibility of paying off their debts.
In the second account, the Muslim government has been made responsible for the upbringing of orphaned children and if the property left behind by the deceased person does not suffice in order to pay off the loan, the government should take the responsibility for its payment.
This is the guidance by the Holy Prophet(sa) as to how Muslim governments, should care for its citizens. It is a great misfortune that within Muslim countries, the rights of their citizens are mostly usurped.
There is another account in relation to the kindness of the Holy Prophet(sa) towards Hazrat Jabir. The person relating the account says, “I approached Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah and said to him to narrate whatever he had heard from the Holy Prophet(sa).
Hazrat Jabir replied, ‘I was once accompanying the Holy Prophet(sa) on a journey.’” The narrator says that he was unaware whether this journey was in relation to a battle or Umrah [non-mandatory, lesser form of pilgrimage]. “Nevertheless, when we returned to Medina, the Holy Prophet(sa) said that whoever wished to return to his family sooner may do so.” Hazrat Jabir said, “Upon hearing this, we quickly departed. I was riding on one of my camels, which was khaki in colour without any marks. People were following behind me. I was riding ahead when all of a sudden, the camel came to a complete halt and despite my efforts, refused to move any further. The Holy Prophet(sa) saw this and said to me, ‘O Jabir! Sit firmly on the camel’. Following this, the Holy Prophet(sa) tapped the camel with his stick, as a result of which the camel jumped from its place and started to walk briskly. The Holy Prophet(sa) asked, ‘Are you willing to sell this camel?’ I replied ‘Yes, I am willing to sell it.’ When we reached Medina, the Holy Prophet(sa) entered the mosque with several of his companions. I also went with him and tied the camel in a corner on the stoned floor in front of the mosque. I said to the Holy Prophet(sa), ‘Here is your camel.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) came outside and walked around the camel. The Holy Prophet(sa) then said, ‘This camel now belongs to us.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) then sent several gold coins and stated, ‘Give this to Jabir.’ He then said, ‘Have you received the payment in full?’ I responded, ‘Yes, I have received it.’ The Prophet(sa) said, ‘This payment and the camel is yours.’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Jihad, Hadith No. 2861)
Very affectionately, the Holy Prophet(sa) returned the camel and paid for it as well. One possible reason for this could be that according to one narration that camel was used to transport water and Hazrat Jabir’s uncles and relatives would also use it for that purpose. So perhaps they had objected as to why it was sold and how would they now transport the water. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Jihad, Hadith No. 2967). Nevertheless, such was the affection of the Holy Prophet(sa) towards his Companions and the children of those Companions who offered great sacrifices.
May Allah Almighty elevate the status of these Companions. I often share various incidents such as these; may He enable us to continue in their virtues and apply them in our own lives.