The Submissive Returner to Allah!
The submissive, repentant, ever returning worshiper whom we are going to talk about is `Abd Allah Ibn Amr Ibn Al-'Aas
Just as his father was famous for his rationality and cunning tricks, so was he famous for his highly elevated position among worshipers and hermits. His whole life was devoted to worship. Days and nights were not enough for his acts of worship.
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He embraced Islam before his father. Since the day he swore the oath of allegiance, his heart shone like sunlight by means of Allah's light and the light of obedience.
He devoted himself to reciting and understanding the Glorious Qur'aan, so that when it was completely revealed he would have learned it all by heart. He did not recite it merely by power of a retentive memory, reproducing a book learned by heart, but rather he lived according to its laws, filled his heart with its magnificence, was its obedient servant and responded to its appeals. He then dedicated himself to its reading and recitation as well as understanding it, walking most delightfully in its mellow orchards, pleased with a joyful soul, happy with its holy verses, with eyes crying in anxiety and fear due to the effect of its verses.
`Abd Allah was created to be a worshiping saint. Nothing whatsoever could distract him from what he was created for and guided to. If the army of Islam waged jihaad against the polytheists who had been attacking Islam, he could always be found insistent in the front rows, aspiring to die as a martyr. It was the aspiration of a loving soul and the insistence of a lover. When the war was over, where was he to be found?
There in the great mosque or the small mosque beside his house, fasting in the daytime, praying at night. His tongue did not know any worldly talk no matter how legitimate it was. His tongue did not know anything but invoking of Allah, the reciting the Qur'aan, praising Allah, and asking Him His forgiveness and remission of sins. It is worthwhile to know how deep his worship and asceticism was. The Prophet (PBUH) found himself once forced to interfere in order to limit `Abd Allah's extremism in worship.
Therefore, the moral which can be abstracted from `Abd Allah's life is twofold. It demonstrates how excessively the human soul can be filled with an extraordinary ability to reach utmost degrees of devotion, worship, and virtue. On the other hand, it demonstrates Islam's concern to maintain a middle course and moderation, even when perfection is aspired to, lest the human soul should lose its zeal and aspiration and in order to maintain a healthy and safe body.
It reached the Prophet that `Abd Allah spent his life in a uniform manner. If there was no battle to join, then it was non-stop worshiping, fasting, praying, and reciting the Qur'aan.
The Prophet (PBUH) sent for him, appealing to him to be moderate. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Is it true what I heard, that you fast every day without eating (without breaking your fasting by one or two days) and that you pray all night without sleeping? It's enough to fast just three days every month." `Abd Allah said, "I can bear more than that!" The Prophet (PBUH) said, "It's enough to fast two days each week." `Abd Allah said, "I can bear more than that." The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Then, why don't you fast the best fasting of all, Daawud's (David's) fast; he fasted one day and ate on the other."
The Prophet (PBUH) continued asking him, "I've been informed that you recite the whole Qur'aan in one night. I'm afraid when you get older you will feel bored reciting it. Recite it once each month. Recite it once every ten days. Recite it once every three days." Then he said, "I fast and eat. I pray and sleep. I marry women. Whoever abstains from following my path, indeed, is not of me."
Abd Allah lived long and when he got older and weaker he always remembered the Prophet's advice saying, "If only I had accepted the Prophet's advice."
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It is not easy to find a believer of that sort engaged in a war fought by two Muslim parties against each other. How was it possible that his feet carried him from Al-Madiinah to As-Siffiin where he joined Mu`aawiyah's army in the battle against Imam `Aliy? The more we contemplate `Abd Allah's position, the more we will find it worthy of your respect and honor.
We saw how `Abd Allah was engaged in worship in a way which truly endangered his life. His father was always concerned about this matter. Therefore, he often complained to the Prophet (PBUH). On that particular instance when the Prophet (PBUH) asked `Abd Allah to be moderate in worship, clearly suggesting suitable intervals, `Abd Allah's father `Amr was present. The Prophet (PBUH) put `Abd Allah's hand into his father's saying, "Do as I ordered you and obey your father."
Although `Abd Allah was obedient to his father due to his faith and belief, the Prophet's order to him in such a way and on such an occasion had a very special impact on him. `Abd Allah lived his whole life always remembering this short statement, "Do as I ordered you and obey you father."
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Days and years passed. Mu'aawiyah in Syria refused to swear the oath of allegiance to `Aliy. `Aliy refused to submit to an illegal rebellion. War broke out between the two Muslim parties. The Battle of Al-Jamal passed, and now it was the turn of As-Siffiin.
`Amr lbn Al-'Aas had chosen to fight on Mu'aawiyah's side. Knowing how much people trusted and acknowledged his son's faith, he found it very beneficial for Mu'aawiyah's party to convince him to join and engage in the war. In addition, `Amr was always optimistic whenever he had Abd Allah beside him in times of war. He could not forget his striving and endeavor in the conquest of Syria and on the Day of Yarmuuk.
When he intended to set out towards As-Siffiin he appealed to his son to join saying, "O Abd Allah, get ready, you're going to fight with us." Abd Allah replied, "How? The Prophet (PBUH) has entrusted me never to hold a sword to a Muslim's neck." By means of his cunning tricks, `Amr tried to convince his son that they just intended to kill `Uthmaan's murderers and to take revenge.
Then he surprised his son with the following words, "O Abd Allah, do you remember the last thing the Prophet committed you to, when he put your hand over mine saying, Obey your father? I order you now to join us and fight with us.
`Abd Allah went obediently but with the deep intention to neither carry a sword nor kill a Muslim. But how was that going to be possible? For the time being, he was just joining his father, but when the fight starts let Allah do as He wills.
It was a hard and fierce battle. Historians argue and differ among themselves, whether `Abd Allah joined the battle from the very beginning or not.
We think that he joined it from the very beginning, because the battle had hardly begun when something happened which forced `Abd Allah to stand openly and dearly against the whole war and against Mu'aawiyah.
`Ammaar Ibn Yaasir, who was well respected by the Companions, was fighting on the side of Imam `Aliy. Once in the far remote past the Prophet (PBUH) had forseen `Ammaar's murder.
This was in the days when the Prophet (PBUH) and the Companions were building their mosque at Al-Madiinah after the Hijrah. The rocks were extremely big and even the strongest ones could not carry more than one at a time. However, Ammaar was so cheerful and glad that he went on carrying two rocks at a time. The Prophet (PBUH) looked at him with tearful eyes saying, "Woe upon the son of Sumaiyah. He is going to be killed by the unjust party." All the Companions who took part in the building heard the prophecy and remembered it well. Abd Allah lbn `Amr was one of those who heard it.
At the beginning of the battle between Aliy and Mu'aawiyah's parties, Ammaar ascended a hill shouting, "Today is the day that we are going to meet Muhammad and his Companions."
A group of Mu'aawiyah's party committed themselves to killing `Ammaar, so they pierced him with a lance, whereby he fell as a martyr.
The news of `Ammaar's death spread rapidly. `Abd Allah stood up agitatedly and said, "Is it true that `Ammaar has been killed ? Did you do it? That means you are the unjust party! You are the mislead warriors!" Like a portent he burst into the army, discouraging the fighters, shouting loudly, "You are the unjust party as long as it's you who killed Ammaar. The Prophet (PBUH) foresaw his murder by the unjust party some 27 years ago.
`Abd Allah's words soon reached Mu`aawiyah, who sent for `Amr and his son. He said to Amr, "Can't you stop your mad man?" `Abd Allah said, "I'm not mad, but I heard the Prophet (PBUH) once saying to `Ammaar, "You will be killed by the unjust party." Mu'aawiyah continued asking, "Why then, did you join our party?" `Abd Allah said, "Because the Prophet (PBUH) asked me to obey my father and I obeyed him joining you, but I didn't fight."
While they were arguing, someone entered asking Mu'aawiyah to permit the entrance of `Ammaar's murderer. At that moment `Abd Allah shouted, "Let him in and announce the `good news' he is in hell."
Hereby Mu'aawiyah lost his temper despite his calmness and mildness. He shouted to Amr, "Can't you hear what he is saying?" `Abd Allah continued to ensure Mu'aawiyah that what he was saying was the truth and that the murderers were no more than unjust tyrants. Then he turned to his father and said, "Had it not been for the Prophet's order to obey you, I would not have gone out with you.
While inspecting their army, Mu'aawiyah and `Amr were astonished and terrified to hear all the people talking about the Prophet's prophecy to `Ammaar, You are going to be killed by the unjust party.
`Amr and Mu'aawiyah were afraid that this mere grumble was soon going to turn into a revolt against Mu'aawiyah. They thought together till they found a cunning trick. They spread the following words among the people: "Yes, the Prophet (PBUH) said to `Ammaar on that day, You'll be killed by the unjust party. The Prophet's prophecy is true. `Ammaar has been killed. But who killed him? The true murderers are those who asked him to go out to fight."
In the midst of such confusion and turmoil, any logic could easily be spread. In this way Mu`aawiyah's and `Amr's logic prevailed. The battle continued. Abd Allah went back to his mosque and to his worship.
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He lived a life filled with nothing else than worship and adoration. Nevertheless, the mere act of going out to the battlefield always remained a reason for worry. He never remembered this act without weeping and saying, "What did I have to do with As-Siffiin?" Why did I bother myself with the killing of Muslims?"
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One day, while sitting with some companions in the Prophet's mosque, Al-Hussain lbn `Aliy (May Allah be pleased with him) passed by and they greeted each other. When Al-Hussain went away `Abd Allah said to those sitting with him, "Would you like to know the human being most beloved to the angels? It's the one who just passed by, Al-Hussain lbn `Aliy. He has not talked to me since the Day of As-Siffin. I would like him to talk to me more than I desire all the blessings of this world."
He decided with Abu Sa'iid Al-Khudriy to visit Al-Hussain. There at Al-Hussain's house the meeting of these two great men took place. `Abd Allah began to talk. When he mentioned As-Siffiin, Al Hussain asked him scoldingly, "You, did you join the fight on Mu'aawiyah's side?" `Abd Allah said, "One day `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas complained to the Prophet (PBUH) saying, "Abd Allah fasts the whole day and prays all night.' Then the Prophet said to me, `O Abd Allah, pray and sleep, fast and eat. Obey you father.' When it was the day of As-siffiin, my father swore by Allah that I had to go out with him. I went out, but, by Allah, I didn't pierce with a lance, I didn't fight with a sword and I didn't shoot any arrows.
At the age of 72, while praying in his mosque, asking for Allah's forgiveness, praising Allah gratefully, he was invited to join the eternal voyage. Filled with a longing aspiration he responded. His soul left the world joyfully to join his brethren who had preceded him. The announcer of good news proclaimed from Heaven,"O soul at peace, return to your Lord, well pleased and well pleasing. Enter you among My servants, and enter into My Paradise!" (89:27- 30).