Abdullah ibn Salam — the rabbi who became Prophet’s companion

Updated 20 November 2014

Abdullah ibn Salam — the rabbi who became Prophet’s companion

He was born in Madinah (then Yathrib) in a Jewish family. He was a rich person and a good scholar of Torah. People considered him a rabbi. His name was Al-Hosayn ibn Salam. He was from one of the Jewish tribes known as Banu Qaynuqa, but later he became a companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from among the Ansars of Madinah.
He was a widely respected scholar of Torah. He read in Torah that a Prophet will be raised shortly who will complete the Divine Message of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). He noted the signs of the coming Prophet and was eager to know more about him.
By the grace of Allah, news emerged from Makkah that Muhammad ibn Abdullah claims to be the Prophet of Allah. He took keen interest in the reports of his appearance and began to make inquiries about his name, his genealogy, his characteristics, his time of appearance and compared this information with what was contained in the Torah. He became fully convinced about the authenticity of Muhammad’s prophethood and was very eager to meet him.
When during migration the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached Madinah and stopped at Quba, the news spread across the town. At that moment, he was on a palm tree in his orchard. His aunt named, Khalidah bint Al-Harith, was sitting under the tree. On hearing the news, he exclaimed loudly: “Allahu Akbar!”
His aunt was surprised and said, “By God, if you had heard that Moses was coming, you would not have been so excited.” He replied, “By God he is really the ‘brother’ of Moses and follows his religion. He was sent with the same mission as Moses.” He rushed to meet him and after reaching his assembly found him the man of the same color and traits as defined in the text. He was overwhelmed with joy. He attended the assembly and heard the Prophet as saying:
“O, People! Spread Peace...
Share food (to the poor)... Pray during
the night, while people sleep...
and you enter Paradise in Peace...”
He looked at the Prophet closely and was convinced with his prophethood. He went closer to him and repeated the Shahada. The Prophet turned to him and asked: “What is your name?” He replied, “Al-Hosayn ibn Salam.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “From now on, you are Abdullah ibn Salam.”
Abdullah returned home and introduced Islam to his family, including his aunt, Khalidah, who was an old lady. They all willingly accepted their new faith and kept it secret.
Abdullah ibn Salam was a very intelligent person who knew the nature of his community. He devised a plan to declare his new faith. He went to the Holy Prophet and told him about it.
The Prophet agreed and invited prominent Jews to visit him. He kept Abdullah hidden in one of his rooms. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) introduced Islam to them and asked them to accept it but they did not respond positively.
Then he asked them, “What is the status of Al-Hosayn ibn Salam among you?” They replied, “He is our leader and our rabbi.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked, “If you come to know that he has accepted Islam, would you accept Islam also?” They said unanimously, “God forbid! He would not accept Islam. May God protect him from accepting Islam.”
At this point, Abdullah ibn Salam came out from the room and announced: “O, The assembly of Jews! Be conscious of God and accept what Muhammad has brought. By God, you certainly know that he is the Messenger of God and you can find prophecies about him and mention of his name and characteristics in your Torah. I for my part declare that he is the true Messenger of God...”
They shouted, “You are a liar. By God, you are evil and ignorant, the son of an evil and ignorant person.” Abdullah, however, succeeded in declaring his Islam to the elite of his community.
Abdullah ibn Salam had a very high position among the Muslims. It is reported in a Hadith, that one day while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting with his companions, he said, “Do you want to see a man walking on Earth and in Paradise?” Each one of the companions looked in silence toward the Prophet. The Prophet pointed toward Abdullah ibn Salam.
It is also reported that the Qur’an mentions about him:
Say, “Have you considered: If the Qur’an was from Allah, and you disbelieved in it while a witness from the Children of Israel has testified to something similar and believed while you were arrogant... ?” Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. (Qur’an 46:10)
Tafsir Al-Jalalayn mentions that the “witness” the verse refers to is Abdullah ibn Salam.
Abdullah ibn Salam participated in the conquest of Syria and Palestine and visited Jabia with Caliph Omar. He died in 43 AH in Madinah.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.