Ideology

Salman Al-Farsi’s quest to find the truth of Islam

desertsandfootprints

Introduction

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says: “If he (My servant) makes mention of Me within himself, I make mention of him within Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.” (Muslim)

If someone sincerely wants to search for the truth Allah will open a way for them and test them. Allah doesn’t test human beings looking to fail them like some teachers do. Allah tests them out of mercy. So if someone is sincere and searches for the correct path, Allah will open a way for them.

Tests and trials (fitna) force human beings to think. Death of a close relative is a common shock that forces people to think about the next life and hence religion. These tests are what trigger people to think about life and death and if they are sincere ultimately accept Islam. A good example of this is the famous companion of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Salman Al-Farsi’s quest for the truth.

2. Quest for the truth

This story was narrated by Ibn Abbas who was a young boy who studied under all the senior sahaba. He studied under Salman al-Farsi who told Ibn Abbas the story of his conversion to Islam.

Salman al-Farsi narrates:

I come from Isfahan, from a place called Jai, and I was the most beloved son of my father, who was a figure of high esteem among his people. We used to worship fire. I devoted myself to fire worship until I became custodian of the fire which we lit and never allowed to be extinguished.

COMMENT: The dominant religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism or fire worshippers. In their fire temples they had a “custodian of the fire” whose job was to keep the fire permanently alight. Why worship something which cannot even keep itself alight???

My father had an estate. One day, he sent me there. I passed by a Christian church and heard them praying. I went in and saw what they were doing. I was impressed by what I saw in their prayers. I said, “This is better than our religion.” I did not leave them until sunset, nor did I go to my father’s estate, nor did I return to my father until he sent people to search for me.

I asked the Christians about their affair and prayers which impressed me, and about the origin of their religion. They answered, “In Syria.” I said to my father when I returned to him, “I passed by people praying in a church of theirs, and I was impressed by their prayer, and I could see that their religion is better than ours.” He questioned me and I questioned him, and then he put fetters on my feet and locked me up.

COMMENT: Original Christianity (pre-Roman alteration) believes in Allah which is rational as opposed to worshipping fire which is irrational as fire cannot even sustain itself without assistance from human beings. The first test a convert faces is family. Am I willing to disobey my Creator to please my family? Will my family protect me from hell?

Then I sent to the Christians saying I had entered their religion, and I requested that whenever a caravan came from Syria, they should tell me before its return in order for me to travel with them, and so they did.

I broke loose from the iron fetters and went away. I set out with them for Syria. While I was there, I asked about their learned man, and I was told that he was the bishop, leader of the church. I went to him and told him my story. I lived with him, serving, praying, and learning.

But this bishop was not faithful in his religion, because he used to gather money from the people to distribute it, but he would keep it for himself. Then he died.

COMMENT: Finding a corrupt Bishop didn’t put him off Christianity. Today, we find many criminals are Muslim and the media always runs stories of Muslims who have done bad things to try and taint the religion. Again this is a test. Some are put off Islam but for many it makes them think. Post 9/11 and 7/7 many people have converted to Islam after reading negative media reports and then deciding to explore Islam themselves.

They appointed a new leader in his place. I have never seen a man more godly than he in his religion, nor more active in his bid for the Hereafter, nor more pious in the world, nor more punctual at worship. I loved him more than I had ever loved any other person before.

When his fate came, I asked him, “To whom would you recommend me? And to whom would you leave me?” He said, “O my son, I do not know anyone who is on the path I am and who leads the kind of life I lead, except a certain man in Mosul.”

When he died, I went to that man in Mosul, and told him the story, and I stayed with him as long as Allah wished me to stay. Then death approached him. So I asked him, “To whom would you advise me to go to?” He directed me to a pious man in Nisiibiin. So I went to him and told him my story. I stayed with him as long as Allah wished me to stay. When death overtook him, I asked him as before. He told me to meet a person at `Amuriah in Byzantium. So, to Byzantium I went and stayed with that man, earning my living there by rearing cattle and sheep.

Then death approached him, and I asked him, “To whom should I go?” He said, “O my son, I know no one anywhere who is on the path we have been on so that I can tell you to go to him. But you have been overtaken by an epoch in which there will appear a prophet in the pure creed of lbraahiim (Abraham). He will migrate to the place of palm trees. If you can be sincere to him, then do so. He has signs which will be manifested: he does not eat of charity, yet he accepts gifts, and between his shoulders is the seal of prophethood (birth mark). When you see him, you will know him.”

COMMENT: The true followers of Jesus (as) the Nasara (Christians) were very few at this time. The majority adopted the corrupted version of Christianity created by the Roman Empire which said Jesus son of Mary (as) was the son of God. The Bible contains details of the coming of Muhammad which is why the Christians knew about it. They said go and find the last Prophet Ahmed (Muhammad) for true guidance.

A caravan passed by me on that day. I asked them where they had come from and learned that they were from the Arabian Peninsula. So I told them, “I give you these cattle and sheep of mine in return for your taking me to your land.” They agreed. So they took me in their company until they brought me to Wadi Al-Quraa and there they wronged to me. They sold me to a Jew. I saw many palm trees and cherished the hope that it was the land that had been described to me and which would be the future place of the advent of the prophet, but it was not.

COMMENT: They enslaved Salman. Slavery was a common trade in the Roman, Persian and Arab lands.

I stayed with this Jew who bought me until another from Bani Quraidhah came to him one day and bought me from him. I stayed with him until we came to Al -Madinah. By Allah, I had hardly seen it when I knew that it was the land described to me.

COMMENT: Medina is a fertile land because it’s volcanic land. The Jews and the Ansar who lived there were farmers primarily of dates.

I stayed with the Jew, working for him on his plantation in Bani Quraidhah until Allah sent His Prophet, who later emigrated to Al-Madinah and dismounted at Qubaa’ among the Bani `Amr lbn `Awf. Indeed, one day, I was at the top of a palm tree with my master sitting below it when a Jewish man came. He was a cousin of his and said to him, “May Allah destroy Bani Qubaa’. [Aws and Khazraj knickname Jews used to us]. They are spreading a rumor about a man at Qubaa’ who came from Makkah claiming that he is a prophet.” [Prophet ﷺ stayed in Quba on outskirts of Medina after hijra]. By Allah, he had hardly said it, when I was seized by a tremor, and the palm tree shook until I almost fell on my master.

I climbed down quickly saying, “What are you saying? What news?” My master gave me a nasty slap and said, “What have you got to do with this? Return to your work!”

So, I returned to work. At nightfall I gathered what I had and went out until I came to the Prophet ﷺ at Qubaa’. I entered and found him sitting with some of his Companions. Then I said, “You are in need and a stranger. I have some food which I intend to give out as charity. When they showed me your lodgings, I thought you most deserve it, so I have come to you with it.” I put the food down. The Prophet ﷺ said to his Companions, “Eat in the name of Allah.” He abstained and never took of it. I said to myself, “This, by Allah, is one sign. He does not eat of charity!”

I returned to meet the Prophet ﷺ again the next day, carrying some food, and said to him ﷺ, “I can see that you do not partake of charity. I have something which I want to give to you as a present.” I placed it before him. He said to his Companions “Eat in the name of Allah” and he ate with them. So I said to myself, “This indeed is the second sign. He eats of presents.” I returned and stayed away for a while. Then I came to him, and I saw him sitting, having returned from a burial, and surrounded by his Companions. He had two garments, carrying one on his shoulder and wearing the other. I greeted him, then bent to see the upper part of his back. He knew what I was looking for, so he threw aside his garment off his shoulder and, behold, the sign between his shoulders, the seal of Prophethood, was clear just as the Christian monk had described.”

At once, I staggered towards him, kissing him and weeping. He called to me to come forward and I sat before him. I told him my story as you have already heard me describe the events.

When I became a Muslim, slavery prevented me from taking part in the battles of Badr and Uhud. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ advised me, “Go into terms with your master for him to free you,” and so I did.

COMMENT: The manumission contract is where a slave works to gain his freedom for a price. Notice that the Prophet did not kill his Jewish master and free Salman but rather fulfilled the manumission contract which is valid under sharia. Muslims fulfil their contracts whether in war or in peace.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ

“O you who believe! Fulfil your contracts.”

(Al-Maaida, 5:1)

3. Salman’s manumission contract

His master put a very high price on his freedom. 40 uqiyah (roughly ounces) of gold (approx. £35K) and to plant 300 date palms. The Prophet ﷺ told him to write his master an agreement to pay the gold and plant the trees.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to his companions: “Help your brother.” So they helped me with the palm trees, one man gave thirty small trees and another gave twenty, and another gave fifteen, and another gave ten, i.e., each man gave according to what he had, until they had collected three hundred small trees for me.

Then the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me: “Go, O Salman, and dig the holes where they are to be planted. When you have finished, come to me and I will plant them with my own hand.” So I dug the holes for them, and my companions helped me, then when I had finished, I came to him and told him. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ came out with me and we started to bring the trees close and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ planted them with his own hand. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Salman, not one single tree among them died.

COMMENT: The Prophet and the sahaba spent their own effort and wealth to free Salman. Even though he was a slave he was still their ‘brother’. He was a man of action not only words.

So I had paid off the trees but there still remained the money. A piece of gold the size of an egg was brought to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ from one of his campaigns. He said: “What happened to the Persian who had a contract of manumission?” I was summoned to him and he said: “Take this and pay off what you owe, O Salman.” I said: “How could this pay off everything I owe, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Take it, and Allah will help you to pay off what you owe.” So I took it and weighed it for them, and by the One in Whose hand is the soul of Salman, it was forty uqiyahs, so I paid them their dues and I was set free. I was present with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ at al-Khandaq, and after that I did not miss any major event with him.

4. Islam came to free slaves

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ came to free men from slavery to other men and their whims and desires, to becoming slaves of Allah, the only true master. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whichever man frees a Muslim man, Allah ta’ala will liberate for each of his organ an organ from the Fire” (narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

“Freeing slaves” has been legislated as the expiation for lots of sins.

1. PUNISHING SEVERELY SUCH AS WHIPPING. He ﷺ said: “Whoever slaps his slave or strikes him, his atonement (kaffara) is to free him”.

2. BREAKING OATHS

3. KILLING A BELIEVER ACCIDENTLY

4. SAYING TO YOUR WIFE ‘YOU ARE LIKE MY MOTHER’ THEN HE RETURNS TO HER

5. WHOEVER INVALIDATES THE FAST OF RAMADAN BY SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, HIS ATONEMENT IS FREEING A SLAVE.

The future Islamic State as a policy will spend money from the State Treasury (Bait ul-Mal) to free slaves. There is a special category of Zakat to free slaves.

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ ۖ فَرِيضَةً مِنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“Zakat is for: the poor, the destitute, those who collect it, reconciling people’s hearts, freeing slaves (fee riqabi), those in debt, spending in the Way of Allah, and travellers. It is a legal obligation from Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”

(Tawba, 9:60)

5. Salman’s contribution to Islam

Salman was a Persian not an Arab but he was welcomed in to Islam and became brothers with the Arab sahabi because there is no racism in Islam.

Salman was a brilliant military tactician which is why the Prophet ﷺ made him head of the Islamic State’s military industry. At the Battle of Khandaq the Muslims were on the brink of being wiped out by the coalition of armies and treachery of the Jewish tribes. It was Salman who proposed digging a trench to protect Medina. This tactic was unheard of by the Arabs and it forced them to lay siege to Medina for a month before they were forced to leave after Allah sent a biting wind against their encampments.

Salman built the catapult saying, “In Persia we used to erect the catapults on top of the castles and hit our enemy.” This catapult was used in the siege of Taif. Al-Bayhaqi mentioned in the Sunan that Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) said: “Then the Messenger of Allah put siege around Tai’f, and erected the catapult against them for seventeen days”.

COMMENT: Those converting to Islam bring their skills and strengths to aid Islam. The Turks from Central Asia were strong warriors and it was the Ottoman Turks who spread Islam to Europe and conquered Constantinople something the Arabs never achieved even though they laid siege to Constantinople in the first century Hijri.

It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet ﷺ said, “You will find people to be like mines*. The best of them in the Jahiliyya are the best of them in Islam when they have understanding.” (Sahih Bukhari)

*Mines contain different minerals, some precious and some base.

6. Don’t reject this life (dunya)

The Prophet ﷺ made a bond of brotherhood between Salman Al-Farisi and Abu Ad-Darda. Salman paid a visit to Abu Ad-Darda’ and found Um Ad-Darda’ (his wife) dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state. She replied, “Your brother Abu Ad-Darda’ is not interested in (the luxuries of) this world.” In the meantime Abu Ad-Darda’ came and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu Ad-Darda’ to eat (with him), but Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “I am fasting.” Salman said, “I am not going to eat unless you eat” So, Abu Ad-Darda’ ate (with Salman). When it was night and (a part of the night passed), Abu Ad-Darda’ got up (to offer the night prayer), but Salman told him to sleep and Abu Ad-Darda’ slept.

After sometime Abu Ad-Darda’ again got up but Salman told him to sleep. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman told him to get up then, and both of them offered the prayer. Salman told Abu Ad-Darda’, “Your Lord has a right on you, your soul has a right on you, and your family has a right on you; so you should give the rights of all those who has a right on you.” Abu Ad-Darda’ came to the Prophet ﷺ and narrated the whole story. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Salman has spoken the truth.” (Bukhari)

COMMENT: Chasing after the dunya at the expense of the hereafter is wrong but Islam came with rules for the dunya which we cannot neglect. These rules cover all aspects of life.

7. Conclusion

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says: “If he (My servant) makes mention of Me within himself, I make mention of him within Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.” (Muslim)

As an Ummah Allah is testing us today out of mercy so we will return back to His سبحانه وتعالى path. Tests and shocks force the Ummah to think but dawah is needed to guide the fallout of these shocks in the correct direction i.e. Islam rather than western solutions.