March Forth, Whether You Are Light or Heavy
The Prophet (PBUH) entered Al-Madiinah and put an end to his successful Hijrah. He began his first blessed days in the place of his immigration which destiny had selected for unprecedented and unmatched feats.
Riding on his camel, the Messenger (PBUH) advanced among the massive crowd which overflowed with enthusiasm, love, and longing. People crowded around the camel's halter in competition with one another to offer Allah's Messenger their hospitality and accommodation. As soon as the procession reached the neighborhood of Bani Saalim Ibn `Awf, the crowd stood in the way of the procession and addressed the Prophet saying, "O Messenger of Allah, please do accept our hospitable accommodation, for we are influential people who are great in number and wealth. We can also guarantee your support and protection." The Prophet (PBUH) mildly urged them to loosen its halter and get out of its way, for it had been ordered by Allah to stop at a certain place.
The procession advanced to the neighborhoods of Bani Bayaadah, then Bani Saa'idah, then Bani Al-Haarith Ibn Al-Khazraj, then to the Bani `Adiy, Ibn An-Najaar. The people of every tribe tried to stop the camel and pleaded with the Prophet (PBUH) to honor them with his approval of their hospitable accommodation. Yet the Prophet (PBUH) gave them the same answer, smiling thankfully, "Get out of its way, for it has been ordered by Allah to go to a certain place." Thus, the Prophet (PBUH) left the choice of his abode to destiny.
Later, this abode would be of critical and glorious importance, for on this land the mosque out of which the words and light of Allah would emanate, illuminating the entire universe, would be built.
Next to this mosque, a dwelling or rather dwellings made of clay and bricks would be built with nothing inside them but that which is barely sufficient for sustenance and living. These dwellings would be inhabited by an inspired instructor and Prophet (PBUH) who dawned upon this world to revive its waning spirit and to bestow honor and peacefulness upon all those who have said that their Lord is only Allah and thereafter stood firm and straight in the Islamic faith by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden and by performing all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained. They were those who believed in the Oneness of Allah, worshiped none but Him alone and did not confuse their belief with wrong. They were those who purified their religion to Allah and reformed the land and did not make mischief on the earth. Indeed, the Prophet (PBUH) was very careful to leave the choice of the place of his abode to Allah's determined decree.
Hence, he loosened the reins of his camel and did not pull it. Then he set his heart to Allah and supplicated, "Allah, pick and choose for me a place for my abode."
The camel knelt down in front of the house of Bani Maalik Ibn An-Najaar. Then it got up on its feet, circled around the place, then went back to the same spot again and knelt down, lowered its neck, and was motionless. The Prophet (PBUH) was optimistic and glad as he dismounted. One of the Muslims advanced towards the camel, took the saddle bags and carried them into his house. His face shone with joy and satisfaction as the Prophet (PBUH) who was enveloped with good fortune and blessings followed him right into his house. Would you like to know who was the happy, lucky man in front of whose house the camel knelt down, and the man in whose house the Prophet was guest, and the man whom all the people of the city envied for his great fortune? He was our hero, Abu Aiyuub Al Ansaariy, also known as Khaalid Ibn Zaid, the grandson of Maalik Ibn An-Najaar.
It was not the first meeting between the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Aiyuub Al-Ansaariy. They had met before when the Madiinah delegation journeyed to Makkah to take the oath of allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) in the famous Second Pledge of Al-'Aqabah. Abu Aiyuub Al-Ansaary was among the 70 believers who shook hands with the Prophet (PBUH) and gave him his support and loyalty. It seems that Abu Aiyuub's great fortune was that his house was chosen for the great Muhaajir and the generous Prophet (PBUH) to live in when the Messenger of Allah entered Al-Madiinah and established it as the capital of Allah's new religion.
The Prophet (PBUH) preferred to live on the first floor. However, no sooner had Abu Aiyuub Al-Ansaary ascended to his room on the upper floor then he shook with regret for yielding to the Prophet's wish and accepting to live and sleep above the Prophet (PBUH). Instantly, he pleaded with the Prophet to move to the upper floor. He prevailed upon him, and the Prophet moved to the upper floor. The Prophet (PBUH) stayed there until the mosque was built and his dwelling was built next to it.
Ever since the Quraish began to fight against Islam, to raid Al Madiinah, the land of Hijrah, and to instigate tribes and organize armies to put out Allah's light, Abu Aiyuub became a professional in warfare and jihaad. This hero was there in Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq and the rest of the battles and wars. He sold himself, his money, and property to Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds.
Even after the Prophet had died, Abu Aiyuub never lagged behind or turned his back on a battle that the Muslims were destined to fight in, notwithstanding the hardships and the atrocities. The slogan that he sang day and night, secretly and openly was Allah's verse "March forth, whether you are light or heavy" (9 :41).
He never missed an expedition, but once. He refused to fight in an army whose commander was a young Muslim assigned by the caliph. Abu Aiyuub was against this choice. This one and only mistake shook his inner-most self, and he was always full of regrets as he repeated, "It is none of my concern who was appointed by `Aliy." Ever since that slip, he never missed a battle, no matter what.
It sufficed him to live as a soldier in the Muslim army, fight under its standard, and defend its sanctity.
When conflict erupted between `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah, he sided with `Aliy without the slightest hesitation. He believed that `Aliy was the rightful Imam who had been chosen by the Muslims. When `Aliy died and Mu'aawiyah took over the caliphate, the ascetic, steadfast, and pious Abu Aiyuub held himself aloof. He craved nothing of this world but for a place in the battlefield among the mujaahiduun who strive in the way of Allah. Therefore, no sooner had he seen the Muslim army march forth towards Constantinople than he mounted his horse, raised his sword, and galloped towards a great and long awaited marytrdom.
In this particular battle, he was wounded. The commander of the army paid him a visit to check up on him. He breathed heavily as if his longing to meet Allah made him impatient with the few minutes left of his life. The commander, Yaziid Ibn Mu'aawiyah, asked him, "What is your last wish, Abu Aiyuub?"
I wonder if any of us can guess or imagine what Abu Aiyuub's last wish was? No, his last wish before he died was inconceivable and beyond the imagination of most human beings.
He asked Yaziid to carry his body to the furthest point inside the enemy lands and bury him there, then to break through the enemy line until he reached his grave so that Abu Aiyuub might hear the sound of the galloping Muslim horses clattering over it and realize that they had achieved victory. Do you think this is poetic verse? No, this is neither poetic verse nor a whim of imagination. No, it really happened!. It is a fact that the whole world witnessed one day, and stood there watching, unbelievingly, with its eyes wide open, and listening unbelievingly, with its own ears. Yaziid carried out Abu Aiyuub's will to the fullest extent.
Finally, the body of this very great man was buried in the heart of Constantinople - Istanbul nowadays. Even before Islam enveloped this part of the world with its light, the Romans of Constantinople looked up to Abu Aiyuub as a saint. Strangely enough, all the historians who registered the events that sustain the previous claim say, "The Romans looked after his grave, visited it, and asked Allah to send down rain for his sake during times of drought."
Notwithstanding the quick and regular tempo of the battles that Abu Aiyuub's life was full of, leaving him no time to sheathe his sword and take his breath, his life was tranquil and pure as the early morning breeze.
He heard the Prophet (PBUH) relate a hadith and he always cherished it. The Prophet said, "First, if you perform a prayer, perform it neatly as if it was your last prayer. Second, do not utter a word for which you will have to apologize later on. Third, rid yourself of the hope of having whatever is enjoyed by other people." Thus, he never spread slander or mischief, he never desired anything, and he spent his life absorbed in spiritual longing as a sincere worshiper and with the aloofness of someone on his death bed. When it was time for him to die, he desired nothing of this world but for this single wish that represented his heroism and greatness: "Carry my body far inside the Roman lands, then bury me there." He believed in victory. He had enough insight to for see that those distant parts of the world would soon be one of the oases of Islam and would be illumined by its light.
Hence, he wanted to be interred there at the capital of the country where the final decisive battle would take place and where he could, from his blessed grave, follow up the proceedings of the war: the sweeping Muslim armies, the fluttering flags, the neighing of the horses, their galloping, and the clash of swords. Today, he is lying over there, although he cannot hear the clash of swords and the neighing of horses any more, for the decree of Allah has been fulfilled upon him. Instead, he hears the magnificent sound of the Aadhaan five times a day emanating from the high minarets across the horizon:
Allahu akbar. Allah is the Greatest.
Allahu akbar. Allah is the Greatest.