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Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra)

(Friday Sermon - October 16, 2020 )

Background and Appearance

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) belonged to the Banu Muawiyah branch of the Khazraj tribe of the Ansar. His father’s name was Kaab bin Qais and his mother’s name was Suhaila bint Aswad. Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) had two titles; one was Abu Munzir, as given by the Holy Prophet(sa) and the second was Abu Tufail, given by Hazrat Umar(ra) because of his son, Tufail. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 1 [Beirut, Lebanon: Maktabat Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2016] 168-169)

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was of moderate height. The colour of his hair and beard was white and he did not dye them in order to conceal his grey hair. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017) 378)

He did not dye his beard nor his hair. Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) participated in the second pledge at Aqabah along with seventy other individuals. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) knew how to read and write even before he accepted Islam and once he became a Muslim, he received the honour of writing the revelations received by the Holy Prophet(sa). The Holy Prophet(sa) formed a bond of brotherhood between Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and Hazrat Talha bin Ubaidillah(ra). According to another narration, the Holy Prophet(sa) established a bond of brotherhood between Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and Hazrat Saeed bin Zaid(ra). (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017) 378]

Learning and Teaching the Holy Qur’an

With regard to Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), it is mentioned that Allah the Exalted commanded the Holy Prophet(sa) to recite the Quran to Ubayy(ra). Furthermore, the Holy Prophet(sa) said that Ubayy(ra) was the best qari [who recites the Quran according to the rules of recitation] among his people. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2017] 378)

It is mentioned in regard to him that he had great knowledge of the Holy Quran due to this very reason. Other narrations about this will be mentioned later.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) states: “Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) was among those four individuals with regard to whom the Holy Prophet(sa) said that they are the qurra-e-ummat [reciters of the Holy Quran] of this ummah.” That is, if anyone wished to learn to read the Quran, they should learn from them. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, p. 84)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) further states: “The following 15 names of scribes are those to whom the Holy Prophet(sa) dictated the Holy Quran and are proven from history. They are, Zaid bin Thabit(ra), Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), Abdullah bin Saad bin Abi Sarah(ra), Zubair bin al-Awam(ra), Khalid bin Saeed bin al-Aas(ra), Aban bin Saeed al-Aas(ra), Hanzala bin al-Rabi al-Asadi(ra), Mu‘ayqib bin Abi Fatima(ra), Abdullah bin Arqam Zuhri(ra), Shurahbil bin Hasanah(ra), Abdullah bin Rawaha(ra), Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra), Hazrat Umar(ra), Hazrat Uthman(ra) and Hazrat Ali(ra). When [a portion] of the Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet(sa), he would call one of these individuals and dictate the revelation to him.” (Dibachah Tafsir al-Quran, Anwar al-Ulum, Vol. 20, pp. 425-426)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) states in one instance that the Holy Prophet(sa) appointed a group of teachers who taught the Holy Quran; they learned and memorized the entire Holy Quran from the Holy Prophet(sa) and taught it to others. There were four esteemed teachers who were responsible for learning the Holy Quran from the Holy Prophet(sa) and teaching it to others, and there were many companions under them who would also teach the Holy Quran to others. The names of these four esteemed teachers are Abdullah bin Mas‘ud(ra), Salim, the freed salve of Abu Hudaifah(ra), Muaz bin Jabal(ra) and Ubayy bin Kaab(ra). The first two were Muhajireen and the latter two were Ansar. With regard to their work, Abdullah bin Mas‘ud(ra) was a labourer, Salim(ra) was a freed slave, while Muaz bin Jabal(ra) and Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) were chieftains of Medina. Thus, keeping in view every member of society, the Holy Prophet(sa) appointed qaris from each rank.

It is narrated in a hadith that the Holy Prophet(sa) used to say:

خُذُوا الْقُرْاٰنَ مِنْ اَرْبَعَۃٍ (مِنْ) عَبْدِ اللّٰہِ بْنِ مَسْعُوْدٍ وَ سَالِمٍ وَ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ وَ اُبَیِّ بِنْ کَعْبٍ

“Anyone who desires to read the Quran should learn from the following four individuals: Abdullah bin Mas‘ud, Salim, Muaz bin Jabal and Ubayy bin Kaab.”

These were the four people who either learned the entire Quran from the Holy Prophet(sa) or would recite it before him to ensure they did not make any mistakes. Aside from them, there were also many other companions who learned various portions of the Holy Qur’an directly from the Holy Prophet(sa). (Dibachah Tafsir al-Quran, Anwar al-Ulum, Vol. 20, pp. 427-428)

Hazrat Anas bin Malik(ra) narrates that the Holy Prophet(sa) said to Ubayy(ra), “Allah has commanded me to recite to you the chapter لَمْ یَکُنِ الَّذِیْنَ کَفَرُوْا مِنْ اَھْلِ الْکِتَابِ [i.e. Surah al-Bayyinah].”

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) enquired whether God had specifically mentioned his name to which the Holy Prophet(sa) replied “Yes.” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) began to cry.

This narration is from Sahih al-Bukhari. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib al-Ansar, Bab Manaqib Ubayy bin Kaab, Hadith 3809)

There is another narration in which Hazrat Anas bin Malik(ra) relates that the Holy Prophet(sa) said to Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), “Allah the Almighty has commanded me to recite the Quran to you.” Hazrat Ubayy(ra) enquired, “Did Allah mention my name to you?” to which the Holy Prophet(sa) replied, “Yes.” Hazrat Ubayy(ra) asked, “Did the Lord of this world and the Hereafter mention me?” to which the Holy Prophet(sa) replied, “Yes.” Upon this, Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) eyes filled with tears. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tafsir, Bab Surah “Lam yakun…”, Hadith 4961)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) has also explained this incident in his own words. He states: “It is narrated by Abu Hayyah Badri that Surah al-Bayyinah was revealed in its entirety, i.e. all in one go; and then Gabriel informed the Holy Prophet(sa) that Allah the Almighty had commanded him to ensure Ubayy bin Kab(ra) memorised this chapter. The Holy Prophet(sa) said to Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), ‘Gabriel has informed me that God Almighty has commanded that I should ensure you memorise this chapter.’ Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) said, ‘O Messenger(sa) of Allah, did God Almighty mention my name?’ The Holy Prophet(sa) replied, ‘Yes.’ Hearing this, Ubayy bin Kaab began to cry out of happiness. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 8, p. 342)

After the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa), Hazrat Umar Farooq(ra) often recounted this incident. Once, while standing at the pulpit in Masjid al-Nabawi [the Prophet’s Mosque], he said that the greatest qari was Ubayy(ra). Once, during his expedition to Syria, whilst in Jabiyah – which is a settlement near Damascus – he delivered a sermon wherein he said:

مَنْ اَرَادَ الْقُرْآنَ فَلْیَاْتِ اُبَیًّا

Meaning, “Whoever has a desire to learn the Holy Quran should go to Ubayy.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 149) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi] 91)

Hazrat Anas(ra) narrates that there were four people during the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) who committed the entire Quran to memory, all of whom were from the Ansar; Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), Hazrat Muaz bin Jabal(ra), Hazrat Abu Zaid(ra) and Hazrat Zaid bin Thabit(ra). This narration is from Sahih al-Bukhari. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib al-Ansar, Bab Manaqib Zaid bin Thabit, Hadith 3810, translated version, Vol. 7, p. 290, Nazarat-e-Ishaat Rabwah)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra) states that the names of prominent huffaz [those who have memorised the entire Quran] from the Ansar were Ubadah bin Samit(ra), Muaz, Mujama bin Harithah(ra), Fuzalah bin Ubaid(ra), Maslamah bin Mukhallad(ra), Abu Darda(ra), Abu Zaid(ra), Zaid bin Thabit(ra), Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), Saad bin Ubadah(ra) and Umm Waraqah(ra). (Dibachah Tafsir al-Quran, Anwar al-Ulum, Vol. 20, p. 430)

The Holy Prophet(sa) once said that the most benevolent upon his people was Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra). The strictest with regard to God’s religion was Hazrat Umar(ra), meaning he was very strict in adhering to religious principles. The most modest was Hazrat Uthman(ra), as in he had achieved the greatest levels of modesty. The person with the greatest understanding of what is lawful and unlawful was Hazrat Muaz bin Jabal(ra). The person with the greatest awareness of his obligations was Hazrat Zaid(ra) bin Thabit. The person with the highest knowledge in recitations of the Holy Quran was Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra). And every ummah has a Custodian; and the Custodian of this Ummah was Hazrat Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah(ra) – whose accounts have been narrated previously. (Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Abwab al-Manaqib, Bab Manaqib Muaz bin Jabal … Hadith 3790)

Recitation of the Holy Qur’an

The first scribe to write a revelation of the Holy Prophet(sa) after his migration to Medina was Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra). At the time, it was not common for the scribe’s name to be written at the end of a Quranic inscription; however, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) initiated this practice and the other companions also adopted this practice. (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 1 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2016] 170) (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 158)

Meaning, the name of the person who had inscribed the text would not be written, rather the text would simply be written out [without any indication of who transcribed it]. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) began signing his name at the end of an inscription to make it known that it had been written by him, and thus, it became common practice.

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) memorised the Holy Quran after hearing every single word from the Holy Prophet (sa) himself. The Holy Prophet(sa) noticed his passion for learning and as a result paid special attention towards his education. The lofty rank and awe of prophethood would make even the most senior companions to abstain from asking [many] questions; however, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) would ask questions without hesitation. He would not ask questions unnecessarily; he paid due regard to the esteemed rank of prophethood and asked questions in a respectable manner, but he did not hesitate in doing so. Due to Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) passion, sometimes the Holy Prophet(sa) would initiate the conversation himself without being prompted by a question. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 148)

Once, the Holy Prophet(sa) was leading the Fajr [pre-dawn] prayer, during which he forgot to recite a verse in his recitation [of the Holy Quran]. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was not able to join the congregation from the beginning of the prayer, instead he joined in the middle [of the prayer]. Upon completing the prayer, the Holy Prophet(sa) enquired if anyone in the congregation had noticed anything different in his recitation. Everyone remained silent. Then, the Holy Prophet(sa) asked whether Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) was present. By this time, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) had completed offering his Salat. Despite joining the congregation late, he must have joined by the second rak‘ah [unit of prayer] to have been able to hear the mistake that was made or notice the verse which had been forgotten.

In any case, Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) had completed offering his Salat and informed the Holy Prophet(sa) that he had not recited such and such verse. He said, “O Messenger(sa) of Allah, you did not recite such and such verse during your recitation; has it been abrogated or did you simply forget to recite it?” The Holy Prophet(sa) replied that he had merely forgotten to recite it. Then, the Holy Prophet(sa) said to Ubayy(ra), “I knew you would be the only one to notice this.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 148)

Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) narrates, “Once, I was in the mosque when a man entered and began offering Salat. He recited the Quran in such a manner which seemed very unusual to me. Then another man entered the mosque and started reciting [the Holy Quran] with a different qir‘ah [reading]. When we had all offered our Salat, we went to the Holy Prophet(sa).

“I informed the Holy Prophet(sa) that this person has recited the Holy Qur’an in such a qir‘ah [reading] which seems strange to me. Then another person came who recited it in a different reading to the first person. So the Holy Prophet(sa) asked both of them to recite their qir‘aat of the Holy Quran, to which they recited. The Holy Prophet(sa) then declared both their qir‘aat to be correct and told them both they had recited correctly.”

Upon the reversal of his own opinion, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) says, “When I had formed an opinion that such and such person recited incorrectly and the Holy Prophet(sa) corrected my view declaring both readings to be correct, I became extremely embarrassed in a manner I had not even experienced in the era of ignorance when I knew little. The embarrassment I felt at that point was like none other I had felt in my entire life.

“When the Holy Prophet(sa) saw me overcome in this state and the embarrassment was plain to see on my face, he placed his hand on my chest. I was covered in sweat as if I was beholding God Almighty in this state of fear. Then the Holy Prophet(sa) said to me, ‘O Ubayy, I was instructed that I should recite the Holy Quran in one qir‘ah. I replied by requesting ease for my people. I was then instructed that I should recite it, i.e. the Holy Quran in two qir‘aat, to which I again replied asking ease for my people. On the third try, he instructed that I should recite it in seven qir‘aat. Thus, in response to each one of my requests I was told by the angel that I have been given the right seek whatever I wish from God,’ i.e. the angel Gabriel said, ‘For each response [to your request], Allah the Almighty has granted you the right seek from Him whatever you desire of Him.’ ‘I then said (i.e. the Holy Prophet(sa) states), “O Allah, forgive my people, O Allah, forgive my people. And I deferred the third prayer for the day in which all of creation will turn to me [for intercession], including Prophet Abraham(as).”’” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Salat al-Musafirin wa Qasriha, Bab Bayan anna al-Quran…, Translation of Nur Foundation, Vol. 3, pp. 308-309)

One can gauge an understanding of Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab’s(ra) mastery over the qir‘aat [readings of the Holy Quran] that the Holy Prophet(sa) himself would recite the entire Holy Quran to him. Thus, the year in which the Holy Prophet(sa) passed away, he recited the Quran to Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and stated, “Gabriel has told me that I should recite the Quran to Ubayy.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 149)

And so, the Holy Prophet(sa) recited the Holy Quran to Hazrat Ubayy(ra).

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) would teach the Holy Quran to an Iranian in the blessed era of the Holy Prophet(sa). When he taught him the verse,

إِنَّ شَجَرَۃَ الزَّقُّوْمِ طَعَامُ الْأَثِیْمِ

The Iranian was not able to properly pronounce the word “atheem” [sinners] and whenever he would recite the word atheem, he would recite it as yateem. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was very concerned as to how he could teach him. The Holy Prophet(sa) happened to be passing by and seeing the concern on the face of Hazrat Ubayy(ra), he stopped. When he heard the discussion he said in Persian, “Try saying it as طَعَامُ الظَّاثِمْ [ta‘amun zathim] this is with a ظ [zaa]. When he tried reciting it in this manner he very clearly said اثیم [atheem]. Thus, when Hazrat Ubayy(ra) read out ظَاثِمْ [zathim] and the Iranian replied saying اثیم [atheem] and was able to pronounce it correctly.

Thereupon, the Holy Prophet(sa) said to Hazrat Ubayy(ra), “Correct his speech according to his own language so that he may learn to recite the Holy Quran correctly, and ensure he pronounces the letters fully, God Almighty will reward you for this.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 152)

On one occasion, the Holy Prophet(sa) was delivering the Friday Sermon and recited Surah Bara‘at. Hazrat Abu Darda(ra) and Hazrat Abu Dharr(ra) did not yet know of this chapter. So during the sermon, they indicated through a gesture to Hazrat Ubayy(ra) in order to ask when this chapter was revealed as they had not yet heard it. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) indicated that they should remain silent.

Upon the completion of prayer, when Hazrat Ubayy(ra) stood up to go home, both of these noble men asked Hazrat Ubayy(ra) why he had not answered their question. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) replied that their prayer that day had become invalidated owing to a vain act. Hearing this, they both went to the Holy Prophet(sa) and related to him what Hazrat Ubayy(ra) had said. The Holy Prophet(sa) stated that indeed Hazrat Ubayy(ra) had spoken the truth; in other words, they should not have spoken whilst the [Friday] sermon was being delivered. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 157)

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) bin Kaab relates:

“The Holy Prophet(sa) stated, ‘O Abu Munzir, do you know which verse in Allah’s book that has been granted to you is the greatest of all?’ I submitted, ‘Allah and His Messenger(sa) know better.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) again asked, ‘O Abu Munzir, do you know which verse in Allah’s book that has been granted to you is the greatest of all?’ I gave the same response, but when the Holy Prophet(sa) asked again, I stated:

اَللّٰہُ لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ الْحَیُّ الْقَیُّوْمُ

[Allah – there is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. (Ch.2: V.256)]

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) states, “The Holy Prophet(sa) placed his hand upon my chest and stated, ‘By God, O Abu Munzir, may your knowledge be a source of blessing for you.’” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Salat al-Musafirin wa Qasriha, Bab Fadl Surat al-Kahf wa Ayat al-Kursi, Translation of Nur Foundation, Vol. 3, p. 300.)

In other words, the Holy Prophet(sa) expressed his approval to his answer.

During the blessed lifetime of the Holy Prophet(sa), Hazrat Ubayy(ra) taught the Holy Quran to Hazrat Tufail bin Amr Dausi, who in return presented him with a bow as a gift. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) took hold of the bow and presented himself before the Holy Prophet(sa). The Holy Prophet(sa) enquired where he got the bow from and Hazrat Ubayy(ra) submitted that it was a gift from one of his students. The Holy Prophet(sa) instructed him to return it and to refrain from such gifts. Similarly, another student gifted him a piece of cloth and the Holy Prophet(sa) gave the same instruction. Thereafter, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) completely abstained from taking anything in return of teaching the Holy Quran.

The people of Syria would learn the Holy Quran from Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and would also get the scribes of Medina to produce copies of the Holy Quran. In return of their services for transcribing the copies of the Quran, they would invite the scribes to eat with them. However, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) would never accept their invitation. Once, Hazrat Umar(ra) enquired from Hazrat Ubayy(ra) regarding the kind of foods eaten in Syria and he replied that he never ate with them and would always eat his own food. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 151-152)

Participation in Battles

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) participated in all the battles alongside the Holy Prophet(sa) including the battle of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq [the Ditch]. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 378)

During the Battle of Uhud, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was struck by an arrow which pierced into his median vein, which carries blood to the head, chest, back and to the hands and feet. Subsequently, the Holy Prophet(sa) sent a physician to treat him, who then cut the vein and then branded it with his own hand. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 141, 142) (Urdu Lughat, Vol. 22, p. 29, Urdu Lughat Board, Karachi)

After the battle, the Holy Prophet(sa) instructed Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) to go and assess the conditions of those injured. As he went searching, he came across Hazrat Saad bin Rabi(ra) who had been fatally wounded and was breathing his last. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) asked him if he wished for him to convey any message to his relatives and loved ones. Hazrat Saad(ra) smiled and replied that he was hoping a Muslim would walk by so that he could pass onto him his message. He then stated, “Place your hand in mine and promise me that you will certainly convey my message.”

His message was, “Convey my greetings of peace [salam] to my fellow Muslim brethren and tell my people and relatives that the Holy Prophet(sa) is the most excellent trust which Allah the Almighty has granted to us and we protected this trust with our very lives. Now I depart, but I hand over the responsibility of protecting this trust over to you. Let it not be the case that you show negligence in its protection.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 7, p. 338)

Collection of Zakat

In 9 AH, when Zakat had become obligatory, the Holy Prophet(sa) appointed various people to different parts of Arabia for its collection. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was appointed to collect the Zakat from the tribes of Banu Bali, Banu Azar and Banu Saad. One day, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) visited a village and one of the villagers brought out all his animals before Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and stated that he could take any one of them as part of his Zakat. From among the camels, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) selected a two-year old young camel. The individual who was presenting his donation stated that this camel was of no benefit for it could neither produce milk nor be used as a mount. He recommended a different camel to Hazrat Ubayy(ra) which was much healthier and not too aged. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) replied that this was not possible as he could not go against the teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa). Hazrat Ubayy(ra) then advised that it was better for them that they both go to Medina, which was not far from there, and present the matter before the Holy Prophet(sa) and whatever the Holy Prophet(sa) instructed, he should do accordingly. Agreeing with the suggestion of Hazrat Ubayy(ra), they both travelled to Medina with the camel and presented the entire matter before the Holy Prophet(sa). The Holy Prophet(sa) stated that if he wished to donate the bigger camel, he could do so and it would be accepted [as Zakat] and God Almighty would grant him its reward. Thus, he presented the camel to the Holy Prophet(sa) and left.

Role during Era of Khilafat

During the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra), the compilation of the Holy Quran [into book form] was initiated. A committee consisting of [several] companions was formed for this task of which Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was its supervisor. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) would recite the Holy Quran and the companions would write it down. Since this committee comprised of those who were very learned and possessed deep knowledge, occasionally they would have discussion and discourse on certain verses. When the following verse of Surah al-Taubah was being written down:

ثُمَّ انْصَرَفُوْا صَرَفَ اللّٰہُ قُلُوْبَہُمْ بِاَنَّہُمْ قَوْمٌ لَّا یَفْقَہُوْنَ

[Then they turn away. Allah has turned away their hearts because they are a people who would not understand. (Ch.9: V.127)]

It was mentioned that this was the final verse to be revealed. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) stated that in fact there were two more verses that the Holy Prophet(sa) taught him after this. Therefore, this was not the last verse, rather there were two verses revealed after that as well. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 142)

Hazrat Umar(ra) introduced many beneficial initiatives during his Khilafat, one of which was the formation of a consultative body [Majlis-e-Shura]. The system of Majlis-e-Shura was established during the era of Hazrat Umar(ra). This consultative body was formed of prominent companions from among the Muhajireen and Ansar and Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) was also its member in representation of the Khazraj tribe. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Isha‘ah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 142-143)

An individual by the name of Jabir or Juwabir states that during the era of Hazrat Umar’s(ra) Khilafat, he went to see Hazrat Umar(ra) in relation to some matter. He states that there was a person who was stood next to Hazrat Umar(ra) who had white hair and was wearing white clothes.

The aforementioned individual said, “Verily, the means to attain our objective and the provisions for the hereafter are present in this very world and our deeds in this world shall be rewarded in the hereafter.” Jabir states that he asked, “O Leader of the Faithful, who is this person?” Hazrat Umar(ra) replied, “Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), the leader of the Muslims.” (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 378, 379)

Establishment of Taraweeh

Abdur Rahman bin Abd Qari narrates that one night, during the month of Ramadan, he went with Hazrat Umar(ra) to the mosque and saw that people were scattered in various groups whilst offering their prayers. Some were offering the prayer on their own, whilst others were offering prayers with a small congregation behind them. Upon seeing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) stated that he deemed it better if everyone was brought together as one congregation behind a single qari. Upon making this decision, Hazrat Umar(ra) appointed Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) to lead the congregation. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Salat al-Tarawih, Bab Fadl man Qam Ramadan, Hadith 2010, Translated version, Vol. 3, 680-681, Nazarat-e-Ishaat Rabwah)

In other words, the Muslims were offering their nawafil [voluntary] prayers at night.

Rank and Status

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) is among those esteemed companions who had heard a large part of the ahadith [oral traditions] directly from the Holy Prophet(sa). Many companions studied ahadith from him and in fact, the majority of his students would comprise of companions. (Even the companions would listen to the ahadith from him.) Hazrat Umar(ra) bin Khattab, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari(ra), Hazrat Ubadah bin Samit(ra), Hazrat Abu Hurairah(ra), Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘ari(ra), Hazrat Anas bin Malik(ra), Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas(ra), Hazrat Sahl bin Saad(ra) and Hazrat Suleman bin Sard(ra) were among those who benefited from Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) knowledge of ahadith. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 153)

Hazrat Qais bin Ubadah(ra) once came to Medina to meet the companions and states that he found Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) to be of a lofty rank. He states that it was the time for prayer and people had all gathered and Hazrat Umar(ra) was also present. There was a certain matter for which people needed to be given guidance and so after the completion of the prayer, Hazrat Ubayy(ra) stood up and related sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa) to the people. Their passion and zeal to listen to what he was saying was evident from the way they were all attentively listening to him. Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) extraordinary status had a left deep impact on Qais. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 154.)

Providing Guidance on Jurisprudential Matters

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) would also provide guidance from the Holy Quran in relation to jurisprudential matters. Once, a lady came to the Hazrat Umar(ra) and stated that her husband had passed away while she was expecting and had now given birth.

At the time of his demise, she was expecting but now she had given birth but the period of her iddat had not been completed yet. Iddat is a period of four months and 10 days, which a wife must observe after the demise of her husband.

She was still observing this period when she gave birth. Therefore, she asked whether she should still complete the full period of the iddat or was that enough.

Hazrat Umar(ra) instructed that she should continue to observe the full period of the iddat that had been prescribed for a widow.

Shen then went to Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and enquired about the matter from him as well. She told him about the matter she had presented before Hazrat Umar(ra) and also the verdict he had given.

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) told her to go to Hazrat Umar(ra) and tell him that Ubayy states that she no longer needed to observe the remaining period of the iddat. He also told her that if Hazrat Umar(ra) enquired about him, she should tell him where he was and should come and call for him. The lady went to Hazrat Umar(ra) and so he asked her to call Hazrat Ubayy(ra). Hazrat Ubayy(ra) came and Hazrat Umar(ra) asked how he had come to this verdict. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) replied that he based it on the Holy Quran and then quoted the following verse:

وَاُولَاتُ الْاَحْمَالِ اَجَلُہُنَّ اَنْ یَّضَعْنَ حَمْلَہُنَّ

“And [as for those] who are with child, their period shall be until they are delivered of their burden.”

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) then stated that any lady who was expecting and was widowed would also be counted among them. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) stated that he had also heard a hadith of the Holy Prophet(sa) regarding this matter as well. Hazrat Umar(ra) then told the lady that she should act in accordance to what Hazrat Ubayy(ra) had said, in other words what he had said was correct.

The house belonging to the Holy Prophet’s(sa) paternal uncle, Hazrat Abbas(ra) was attached to one side of Masjid-e-Nabwi. Hazrat Umar(ra) wanted to extend the area of the mosque and asked Hazrat Abbas(ra) if he would sell his house so that he could include that area as part of the mosque. Hazrat Abbas(ra) stated that this was not possible.

Hazrat Umar(ra) then asked if he could gift it and again Hazrat Abbas(ra) refused to do so as he was would usually do things in his own way. Hazrat Umar(ra) then asked if he himself would then extend the mosque and this would be a great act for the benefit of the ummah if he was to extend the mosque and include his house as part of it.  Hazrat Abbas(ra) replied that this was also not possible. He did not agree to this either.

Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “You will have to accept one of these three options.” Hazrat Abbas(ra) replied, “I agree to none of these options.”

Thus, as the matter remained unresolved, both of them appointed Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) as an arbitrator. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) said to Hazrat Umar(ra), “What right do you have to take something that he is not content on giving?” and then said, “You cannot take it from him.”

Hazrat Umar(ra) asked Hazrat Ubayy(ra) whether he based his decision on the Holy Quran or a Hadith. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) stated that he based it on a hadith and then stated that when Prophet Soloman(as) constructed [the temple] in Jerusalem, one of the walls that was built on someone else’s land fell down. Prophet Solomon(as) received a revelation stating that he should seek permission from the owner before constructing on the land.

Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) fell silent. However, Hazrat Abbas(ra) was loyal and sincere and had pledged allegiance to Khilafat and he was overcome with this passion. Although he initially refused, he had, however, a pious and virtuous disposition. He had great honour for the faith and respect for Khilafat which he demonstrated. When Hazrat Umar(ra) agreed to the decision and fell silent, Hazrat Abbas(ra) then said to Hazrat Umar(ra), “Very well, I will include my home as part of the mosque.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 155)

On one occasion, Hazrat Umar(ra) decided to prohibit people from performing Hajj Tamattau‘.

There are three types of Hajj, some youths may not be aware of this: Hajj Tamattau‘ is where one enters into a state of ihram for Umrah before arriving in Mecca. They first perform the Umrah and then come out of the state of ihram. Then on 8 Dhul Hijjah, they will enter into a new state of ihram and perform the Hajj. This is known as Hajj Tamattau‘. The more commonly known form of Hajj is Hajj Mufrid and Hajj Qiran is when one performs the Umrah and Hajj in the same state of Ihram.

Nonetheless, Hazrat Umar(ra) decided to prohibit people from performing Hajj Tamattau‘. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) said, “You have no right to stop people from this.” He subsequently stopped Hazrat Umar(ra) from carrying this out saying that it was wrong to stop them. Thus, Hazrat Umar(ra) abandoned his idea.

On one occasion, Hazrat Umar(ra) decided to prohibit people from wearing cloaks from Heera, which was an area three miles from Kufa towards Najaf. The reason was that urine was added in order to dye the cloth or perhaps they would add animal urine in order to fade the cloth. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) said, “You are not authorised to sanction this because the Holy Prophet(sa) himself wore clothes of this colour and wore cloaks from there, thus we also wore it during the life of the Holy Prophet(sa) and there were no issues.” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) remained silent and said that Hazrat Ubayy(ra) was correct. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 156) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi] 328) (Fiqh-e-Ahmadiyyah, Vol. 1, pp. 335-336)

During the Khilafat of Hazrat Umar(ra), on one occasion, a disagreement arose between Hazrat Umar(ra) and Hazrat Ubayy(ra) over an orchard. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) began to weep and said, “Am I to witness all this in your era?” Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “This was not my intention. You are free to obtain a verdict from any Muslim. As there is a disagreement between us, I will not pass the verdict. You are free to obtain a verdict from anyone else, as I believe that I am in the right.”

Hazrat Ubayy(ra) appointed Zaid bin Thabit as the arbitrator to which Hazrat Umar(ra) agreed. The matter was presented before Hazrat Zaid(ra). Although Hazrat Umar(ra) was the Islamic Khalifa, yet he came before Hazrat Zaid(ra) as one of the two parties.

Hazrat Umar(ra) rejected the view held by Hazrat Ubayy(ra) [in regard to the orchard]. Hazrat Umar(ra) said, “You seem to have forgotten. Think about it and try to recall.” Hazrat Ubayy(ra) thought about it for a short while and said that he could not recall anything. Hazrat Umar(ra) then gave details about the entire incident saying that such and such took place. Hazrat Zaid(ra) asked Hazrat Ubayy(ra) what proof he had about his demand. He replied that he did not have any proof.

He said, “I do not have any proof at this point, but do not take an oath from Amir-ul-Momineen.” He said that he did not have any proof but he should not take an oath from Amir-ul-Momineen. Hazrat Umar(ra) stated, “If it is necessary for me to take an oath then I have no hesitation in taking an oath.” Nevertheless, a decision was made regarding the matter. (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 145-146)

Hazrat Uthman(ra) bin Affan selected 12 people from among the Quraish and Ansar for the codification [standardisation into a single codex or consonantal text] of the Quran, including Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) and Hazrat Zaid(ra) bin Thabit. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 381)

During the era of Hazrat Uthman(ra), differences in pronunciation and dialect of the Quran became widespread throughout the Islamic lands. In order to eliminate these differences, Hazrat Uthman(ra) summoned the companions who recited variant readings and heard all these variants individually. Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra), Hazrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas(ra) and Hazrat Muaz bin Jabal(ra) all had different dialects. In observing this, Hazrat Uthman(ra) wished to unite all Muslims upon a single mode of recitation of the Quran. There were twelve people from among the Quraish and Ansar who were extremely proficient in the Quran.

Hazrat Uthman(ra) assigned this important task to them and appointed Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) as the head of this committee. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) would recite the words of the Quran and Hazrat Zaid(ra) would write them down. All the various codices [manuscripts] of the Quran that are present today are in accordance with the reading of Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra). (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 143)

Samurah bin Jundub(ra) was an eminent companion of the Holy Prophet(sa). After reciting the takbir [“Allahu Akbar” at the start of prayer] he would pause for a while before reciting a portion [of the Quran]. After reciting “Allahu Akbar”, he would remain silent for a period of time before reciting Surah al-Fatihah. Some people complained about this.

He wrote to Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) for him to shed light on this matter. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) wrote a concise reply saying, “Your conduct is in line with the Shariah, therefore there is no harm if you pause. Those who raise allegations against this are in the wrong.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 154.)

Hazrat Suwaid bin Ghafalah, Zaid bin Saujan and Sulaiman bin Rabia once travelled for an expedition. When they reached Uzaib, they came across a whip on the ground. Uzaib was the Valley of Banu Tamim where water was found. It was situated between Qadsiyya and Mughithah at a distance of four miles from Qadisiyya.

Nonetheless, Suwaid picked up the whip. The others said to him to leave it as it could belong to another Muslim. Suwaid said he would certainly not leave it as if it remained there it would be eaten by wolves or consumed [by something else], therefore it was better he made use of it.

A few days later, Suwaid left with the intention of performing Hajj. As Medina was en route, he went to see Hazrat Ubayy(ra) and narrated the incident of the whip. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) said, “I was also faced with a similar incident during the life of the Holy Prophet(sa). During the time of the Holy Prophet(sa), I found 100 dinars.”

Whether it is 100 dinars or a whip, everything found in this manner has its own value as it is a trust [belonging to someone else]. Let us see what the Holy Prophet(sa) stated in this regard. Hazrat Ubayy(ra) then continued, “The Holy Prophet(sa) instructed, ‘You ought to continuously make announcements to the people regarding it for one entire year.’ When that year had passed he said, ‘You ought to remember any markings and the amount of money and wait for one more year. If someone comes to collect it and gives the correct identification for it, you ought to hand it over to them, otherwise it will become yours.’” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 156) (Sayyid Fadl al-Rahman, Farhang-i-Sirat [Karachi, Pakistan: Zawwar Academy Publications, 2003] 197)

This means that when one finds something, they ought to wait two years; they ought to continuously make announcements about it for one year and remember its markings or identifications for one more year. If someone comes to collect it giving the correct identification, it should be given to them.

A person was causing a commotion in the mosque stating that he had lost such and such thing. When Hazrat Ubayy(ra) saw this he was displeased. The person said, “I have not uttered anything vile in the mosque.” Hazrat Ubayy(ra) replied, “Indeed that is true; however, it is against the etiquette of a mosque to announce any worldly possession.” (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 157)

From among the companions of the Holy Prophet(sa), there were six arbitrators [qazis]: Hazrat Umar(ra), Hazrat Ali(ra), Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas‘ud(ra), Hazrat Zaid bin Thabit(ra), Hazrat Abu Musa Ashari(ra) and Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra). (Ali Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahabah, Vol. 1 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2016] 170)

Virtues and love for the Holy Prophet(sa)

The narrator then said, “By God! I have not witnessed the manifestation of God’s attribute of Al-Sattar [covering one’s shortcomings] as much as I did for him.” I.e. referring to Ubayy bin Kaab(ra). (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 380)

As he had vowed on oath that he would say something after which he was unsure as to how he would be treated in return for saying that. From what the narrator stated, it seems as though Allah the Almighty saved Hazrat Ubayy(ra) from saying something which, deep down, he did not want to say. Aside from this Allah knows best what is meant by this statement.

Nonetheless, upon hearing of his demise, the narrator stated, “I have not witnessed the manifestation of Gods attribute of Al-Sattar as much as for him (i.e. referring to Ubayy bin Kaab(ra)).”

Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) states in one narration that he completes one reading of the Holy Quran in eight nights. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 379.) Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab’s(ra) love for the Holy Prophet(sa) can be gauged from the following incident.

In Masjid al-Nabawi, the Holy Prophet(sa) used to deliver the sermon whilst leaning against the trunk of a date-palm tree that was used a pillar. Later, a pulpit was constructed and when the Holy Prophet(sa) sat on the pulpit to deliver the Friday sermon, a weeping sound resounded from that trunk which was heard by all those that were in the mosque.

The Holy Prophet(sa) went to that trunk and placing his hand over it, he embraced the trunk. The trunk began to weep profusely, just like an innocent child that needs to be consoled and after a while it became content and the noise coming from it stopped. Subsequently when [part of the] mosque was demolished for reconstruction, Hazrat Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) took the trunk home, only because the Holy Prophet(sa) would lean against it. He took the trunk home but later it became withered and was reduced to [wood] dust as termites consumed it. However, he kept the trunk with him owing to his love for the Holy Prophet(sa). This is a narration of Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal and some parts of it are from Sahih al-Bukhari. (Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad al-Mukathirin min al-Sahabah, Musnad Jabir Abd-Allah Hadith 14075) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Buyu‘, Bab al-Najjar, Hadith 2095) (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab Iqamat al-Salah wa al-Sunnah fiha, Bab ma ja‘a fi Bad’ Sha‘n al-Minbar, Hadith 1414) (Sheikh Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadvi, Siyar al-Sahabah, Vol. 3 [Karachi, Pakistan: Dar al-Ishaah Urdu Bazar, 2004] 158)

Demise

Utai bin Damrah states that he said to Ubayy bin Kaab(ra): “What is the matter with the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa); we come from far off places so we can listen to incidents and accounts from you and so we can learn. However, when we come to you, you brush us aside as if we have no standing in your eyes.” Upon this, Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) said, ‘By God! If I am alive until next Friday, I will reveal something to you and I care not whether after listening to what I have to say, you then wish to kill me or let me live.’”

The narrator states, “On the following Friday, I went to Medina and to my surprise, I saw huge crowds of people walking through the streets. I asked the people what was going on, to which one person said, ‘Are you not from this city?’ I replied in the negative. He then said, ‘Today, one of the leaders of the Muslims, Ubayy bin Kaab(ra) has passed away.’”

There are various narrations with regard to Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) demise.

According to one narration Hazrat Ubayy(ra) passed away in 22 AH during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umar(ra), whereas according to another narration, he passed away in 30 AH during the Khilafat of Hazrat Uthman(ra) – this [latter] narration seems more accurate because Hazrat Uthman(ra) appointed Hazrat Ubayy(ra) for the standardisation of the readings of the Quran. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 381) (Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahabah, Vol. 1 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Fikr, 2001] 35-36)

Family

The names of Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) children were Tufail and Muhammad and their mothers name was Umm Tufail bint Tufail, who belonged to the Daus tribe. It is stated that one of Hazrat Ubayy’s(ra) daughters name was Umm Amr. (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 3 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2017] 378)