The Struggle of the Sahabah


“And foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Madinah) and those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him.” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 100]

The Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) (Companions of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) suffered social boycott and severe tortures for their rejection of Shirk and Kufr, and their belief in Allah alone. In their arrogance, the Mushriks (those who associate partners with Allah) believed that people can be restricted from worshiping their true Lord, by making them fear hunger, loss of livelihood and death.

They would dress the Muslims in armor of iron and leave them in the scorching heat of the Arabian desert to roast. Umayyah Ibn Khalf would place Bilal (radhi allahu anhu) on the burning ground in the midday sun and order a huge rock to be placed on his chest. Then he would say: 'By Allah! You will stay like this until you die, unless you disbelieve in Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and you worship al-Laat and al-Uzza.'

But Bilaal in all his pain and anguish would say: '(He who alone has the right to worship is) One, One.' [Ibn Hisham (1/318)]

Mujahid, the student of Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) said: “The first martyr in Islam was Sumayyah, the mother of Ammar. Abu Jahl thrust a spear in her abdomen.” [(Saheeh) See at-Tabaqaat of Ibn Sad (8/264-265)]

The Sahabah suffered a complete boycott for 3 years at the hands of the Mushriks. The Pagans decided not to have any business dealing with them. Even verbal and social contacts came to end. They were deprived of the food supply, to the extent that leaves and animal skin had to be eaten for survival. Despite all odds, the Sahabah persisted in their strong faith in Allah and endured all hardships.

This boycott ended after three years in Muharram in the 10th year of the Prophet's mission. The Sahabah were finally allowed to return to their homes. The exile had ended, but more hardships and aggression by the Mushriks was yet to follow. Life in Makkah had become miserable and the tortures unbearable!! Allah, the Most Merciful, then ordered Hijrah, the migration from Makkah to Madina. This was both to safeguard their lives and religion. To reside in a land where one is not free to worship Allah or is difficult to be steadfast upon the religion, is extremely undesirable.

Materialistically Hijrah was still not a wise choice, since it meant leaving behind most of one's possessions. It also meant separation from one's tribe and family. The sense of belonging and loyalty to the tribe was greatly valued in those times, when people would say: 'Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed.” (***)

They would even sacrifice their lives for the sake of their tribe. Islam however had lifted the Sahabah above craving after superficial material wealth and tribalism. Hijrah had still more problems.

Firstly, the journey itself was extremely harsh and the migrants could be robbed or killed on the way.

Secondly, Madinah was not strong economically and the migrants would become homeless, jobless and penniless.

Yet the Sahabah in their obedience and Tawakkul (trust in Allah) migrated from Makkah to Madinah And established the Islamic state upon Tawheed, Ittiba, Ikhlas (sincerity) and brotherhood. Allah eventually made them victorious over their enemies in this world and granted them His pleasure in the Hereafter: “Allah is well pleased with them as they are well pleased with Him.” [Soorah at-Tawbaj (9): 100]

Factors inspiring patience and perseverance The main purpose behind remembering the struggles, and sacrifices of the Sahabah is to learn from their examples because their way is a guaranteed path to success.

Let us reflect upon the factors, which lead the Sahabah to stand firm in times of severest hardships.

(a) Strong belief in Allah: Unshakable belief was the first and foremost factor of their strength and constancy.

(b) True love for Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): The Sahabah greatly loved Allah and the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was dearest to them; they were always ready to defend him and secure his well being even at the risk of their lives. They had the spirit of selflessness, and sacrifice characterized their behavior. They were obedient to Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and followed all his instructions because they completely understood the criterion of love, which Allah had placed before them: “Say (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you.” [Soorah Imran (3): 31]

(c) The sense of responsibility: The Sahabah were fully aware of the daunting responsibility they were expected to shoulder. They did not try to escape the responsibilities, even though they were being mistreated, because they had realized the horrible consequences humanity would suffer if they backed from their obligations.

(d) Belief in the truth of Hereafter: This was the cornerstone, which strengthened the sense of responsibility in the Sahabah - The great certainty that one day they would have to rise on the Day of Resurrection and account for all worldly deeds, small and big. They were sure that their future in the other world would depend wholly on their acts of this world; either Paradise or Hell. Their whole life was divided between hope for Allah's Mercy and fear of His Punishment. They had already known that life with all its amenities and pains was worthless when compared with the Hereafter. Such deep conviction brought about in them great strength and they fought back all their troubles and hardships that attended their lives.

(e) The Qur'aan: The Qur'aan was their companion at all stages. It's verses served to excite their feelings, strengthen their selves on their course of patience and endurance. It introduced them to the most purposeful examples and suggestive instructions: “And as for those who emigrated for the cause of Allah, after suffering oppression, We will certainly give them goodly residence in this world, but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater, if they but knew.” [Soorah an-Nahl (16): 41]

When the Muslims were forced to undergo constraints, there would be revealed verses telling identical stories of past Prophets with their people and the sufferings and pains they had experienced, like: “Or think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said: 'When (will come) the help of Allah?' ‘Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!’” [(2): 214]

(f) Glad tidings of success: The Qur'aan also suggested meaningful messages carrying glad tidings of definite Allah's Mercy leading to victory and eternal success. At the same time, they were informed about the tragic end of tyrants and disbelievers who would be brought to Divine Justice and then dragged through the Fire. These factors lead the Sahabah to great heights of success.

They regarded all toleration and humiliations as summer clouds that would soon clear away. Such trials, which the Sahabah faced may also come upon us, and we are required to face them as they did, with complete faith in Allah, pure-heartedness, spirit of Islam, sense of responsibility, Qur'aanic wisdom and fearing the Day of Judgment: “Alim, Laam-Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: 'We believe', and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).” [Soorah al-Ankaboot (29): 1-3]

Mere lip profession of Faith is not enough. It must be tried and tested in the real turmoil of life. The test will be applied to all kinds of circumstances, in individual life and in relation to the environment around us to see whether we can strive constantly and put Allah above self. Much pain, sorrow and self-sacrifice may be necessary, not because they are good in themselves, but because they will purify us.

The discussion about the bravery of the Sahabah teaches us to be tolerant, overpowering over oneself in order to get well established in the religion, disdain lust, and devote ourselves to attaining the Pleasure of Allah, yearn for Paradise, enthusiasm in learning the religion, calling oneself to account, and finally observing sobriety, patience and gravity at all rage-provoking incidents.

(***) This lesson was also taught by Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.” But see how beautiful and beneficial is his explanation to this statement. When the Sahabah asked him: "O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?" He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "By preventing him from oppressing others." [Saheeh al-Bukhareee, 3/624] [UP]

References: Raheeq al-Makhtoom of Shaikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Methodology of the Prophets in Calling to Allah by Shaikh Rabee ibn Hadee al-Madhkhalee and others..

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