The Enemy of Hypocrisy, The Friend of Frankness
The people of Madaa`in came out in great numbers to welcome their new governor chosen by their Caliph `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him). They came out preceded by their interest in that graceful Companion. They had heard much about his good conduct, his piety, and more so about his great achievement in the conquest of Iraq.
While they were waiting for the coming procession, they saw before them a bright fellow riding on a donkey with an old saddle. The man was riding with his legs hanging and holding a loaf of bread and some salt in his hands, and eating and chewing his food. When he came in the midst of the people and they discovered he was Hudhaifah lbn Al-Yammaan, the expected governor, they were about to lose their wits! But why the surprise? Who did they expect the choice of `Umar would be ? In fact, they were not to blame. Their countries had not been accustomed since Persian days or even before to having rulers of with such graceful style.
Hudhaifah was surrounded and welcomed by numerous people. When he saw that they were gazing at him as if expecting a speech, he looked at them closely and said, "Beware of sedition!" They asked, "What is sedition, Abu Abd Allah?" "The gates of rulers," he said. `When one of you is admitted to the presence of the ruler or governor and falsely agrees with what he says and commends him for what he has not done."
It was a wonderful start, as much as it was surprising. People at once remembered what they had heard about their new governor and that he did not detest anything in the whole world as much as he detested and scorned hypocrisy. Such a beginning was the truest expression concerning the character of the new governor and his way of ruling and governing.
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As a matter of fact, Hudhaifah lbn Al-Yammaan was a man who came to life equipped with a unique characteristic in detesting hypocrisy and in having the remarkable capability to detect it in its distant, concealed places. He and his brother safwaan came to the Prophet (PBUH) accompanied by their father and all embraced Islam. He added more sharpness and polish to his inborn qualities from the time he embraced a powerful, clean, brave, and straightforward religion which scorns cowardice, hypocrisy, and lies. Moreover, he learned his manners at the hands of the Messenger (PBUH) who was as clear as the glorious morning light. Nothing was hidden in his life nor in his inner self. He was truthful and trustworthy. He liked the strong in righteousness and detested those who were not straightforward, i.e. the hypocrites and deceivers. Therefore, there was no realm where his talent could bloom and blossom more than it did under the guidance of faith at the hands of the Messenger and among that generation of his great Companions. Verily, his talent grew and developed, and he specialized in reading faces and probing into the inner selves. At a glance he could easily read faces and know the secret of the hidden depths and concealed inner mysteries. He attained what he wanted in that realm to the extent that the inspired, intelligent, and resourceful Caliph `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) used to ask Hudhaifah's opinion and insight in selecting and knowing men.
Hudhaifah possessed the discretion that made him realize that what is good in this world is obvious to whoever seeks it, and that evil is the thing that is disguised and hidden. Therefore, the intelligent person should be discreet in studying evil in its hidden and apparent forms.
Hudhaifah (May Allah be pleased with him) therefore devoted his time to the study of evil and evil doers, as well as hypocrisy and hypocrites. He reported: People used to ask Allah's Prophet (PBUH) about good, but I used to ask him about evil, for fear that it should overtake me. I said, "O Messenger of Allah, we were in ignorant and evil times, then Allah presented us with this good. Will there be evil after this good?" He said, "Yes." I said, "And after this evil, will there be good?" He said, "Yes but it would be tainted with evil (literally, smoke)." I asked, "What will this evil be?" He said, "There will be some people who will lead (people) according to principles other than my tradition. You will see their actions and disapprove of them." I said, "Will there be any evil after that good?" He said, "Yes, there will be some people who will invite others to the doors of Hell, and whoever accepts their invitation to it will be thrown in it (by them)." I said, "O Messenger of Allah! Describe those people to us." He said, "They will belong to us and speak our language." I asked, "What do you order me to do if such a thing should take place in my life?" He said, "Adhere to the group of Muslims and their chief." I asked, "If there is neither a group (of Muslims) nor a chief, what shall I do?" He said, "Keep away from all those different sects, even if you have to eat the roots of a tree, till you meet Allah while you are still in that state."
Note his statement, "People used to ask Allah's Prophet (PBUH) about good, but I used to ask him about evil, for fear that it should overtake me." Hudhaifah lbn Al-Yammaan lived open- eyed and insightful with regards to temptations and the paths of evil so that he might avoid them and warn people of them. This gave him insight of the world, experience with people, and knowledge of the times. He would contemplate matters in his mind as a philosopher would and with the sound judgment of a wise man.
He said (May Allah be pleased with him): "Almighty Allah sent Muhammad (PBUH) to call people from misguidance to the right path, and from disbelief to belief in Allah. Some responded to his call, following the right way. Those who were dead were raised to life and those who were alive died because of their evil doing. When the period of prophethood was over, caliphates followed the same methods. Then there appeared a detested monarchy. There were people who disavowed with their hearts, hands, and tongues, and who responded to the path of justice. There were those who disavowed with their hearts and tongues but abstained from using their hands. Thus they left out an area of justice. There were also those who disavowed with their hearts, abstaining to use their hands or tongues. Thus they left out two areas of justice. There were those who did not disavow, neither with their hearts, nor with their hands or tongues, and those were the dead in life!
He talked about hearts and a life of guidance or misguidance according to the heart. He said: There are four kinds of hearts: a locked heart, which is the heart of the disbeliever; a duplicitous heart, which is the heart of the hypocrite; a pure heart full of light, which is the heart of the believer; and a heart filled with hypocrisy and faith. Its faith is like a tree supplied with good water, but like hypocrisy because it is like an ulcer filled with pus and blood. Whichever is made will win.
Hudhaifah's experience of evil and his persistence in resisting and challenging it sharpened his tongue and words. He himself informed us about this in a noble hadith: I approached the Prophet (PBUH) and said,"O Messenger of Allah, I have an abusing tongue towards my people, and I am afraid it might lead me to the fire of Hell." The Prophet (PBUH) said to me, "Do you ask Allah's forgiveness? I repent to Allah a hundred times a day."
That was Hudhaifah, the enemy of hyprocrisy and the friend of frankness. For a man of this character, his faith had to be strong and his loyalty intense. That was Hudhaifah's way, in respect to faith and loyalty. He witnessed his father die as a Muslim in the battle of Uhud, killed in error by Muslim hands, mistaking him for one of the unbelievers.
Hudhaifah was looking around when by chance he saw the swords hitting him, so he called to his attackers, "My father! My father! He's my father!" But it was too late. When the Muslims heard about this incident they were grieved, but Hudhaifah looked at them with mercy and forgiveness and said, "May Allah forgive you. He is the Most Merciful." He then went forward with his sword towards the battle, doing his best and performing his duty.
Hudhaifah's faith and loyalty refused to acknowledge inability and weakness, or even the impossible. In the Battle of Al-Khandaq and after the failure of the unbelievers of the Quraish and their Jewish allies, the Prophet (PBUH) wanted to know the latest developments in the enemy camp.
The night was black and terrifying, and a storm was raging as if it wanted to uproot the solid mountains of the desert. The whole situation which included a siege, stubbornness and perserverance brought about fear and anxiety. In addition, hunger had reached a high level among the Companions of the Prophet. Therefore, who would have the strength to go amidst the dark dangers of the enemy camp and penetrate it to gather intelligence and news?
The Messenger (PBUH) was the one who selected him from among his Companions as the one to perform such a difficult task. Who was that hero? It was Hudhaifah lbn Al-Yammaan. The Prophet (PBUH) asked him and he obeyed.
He admitted with great candor in relating the incident that he had no choice but to obey, thus implying that he feared the mission being assigned to him. He was afraid of its consequences. His fear was due to performing this mission under the pinch of hunger, cold weather, and extreme exhaustion that resulted from the siege by the disbelievers that had lasted a month or more.
What happened to Hudhaifah that night was amazing. He covered the distance between the two armies and penetrated the surrounding enemy camp of the Quraish. A violent wind had put out the camp's fires, so the place was enveloped in darkness. Hudhaifah took his place amidst the lines of the fighters. The leader of the Quraish, Abu Sufyaan, was afraid that darkness might surprise them with scouts from the Muslim camp. He stood to warn his army, and Hudhaifah heard his loud voice saying, "O people of the Quraish, each one of you should know who is sitting next to him and should know his name." Hudhaifah reports, "I hastened to the hand of the man next to me, and said to him, Who are you? He said, `Such and such a person!'"
He therefore secured his being with the army in peace! Abu Sufyaan resumed his talk to the army, saying,"O people of the Quraish, by Allah, you are not in a place to settle. The horses and the camels are exhausted. The tribe of Bani Quraidah has reneged on us and we learned about them what we hate, and we suffer from the violent wind as you see. No food can be cooked, no fire can blaze for us, and no structure can hold. You have to leave, for I am leaving." He then mounted his camel and started moving, followed by the fighters.
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Whoever saw Hudhaifah and considered his way of thinking, his philosophy, and his devotion to knowledge could hardly expect any heroism from him in the battlefield. Nevertheless, Hudhaifah contradicted all expectations.
The man who used to worship Allah in solitude, the contemplative one, no sooner did he carry his sword and meet the ignorant pagan army than he disclosed a genius that caught the eyes. Suffice it to know that he was one of only three or five who had the great privilege of invading all the cities of Iraq. In Hamdaan, Ar-Raiy Ad-Dainawar, the conquest was accomplished through him.
In the great Battle of Nahaawand, in which the Persians gathered about 150,000 fighters, Caliph `Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, chose for the leadership of the Muslim armies An Nu'maan lbn Muqrin, then wrote to Hudhaifah to march to him leading an army from Kufa.
`Umar sent his letter to the fighters, saying, "When the Muslims gather, let every commander lead his army, and let An- Nu'maan lbn Muqrin be the commander-in -chief of all the armies. If An-Nu'maan is martyred, let Hudhaifah be the leader. If he is martyred, let Jarir Ibn `Abd Allah lead them."
In this way, the Commander of the Faithful went on choosing the leaders of the battle till he named seven of them. Then the two armies met.
The Persians were 150,000, while the Muslims were only 30,000. A battle which exceeded all others commenced. It was the fiercest in history, in terms of violence and heroism. The leader of the Muslim army, An-Nu'maan Ibn Muqrin fell in the battle and was martyred, but before the standard of the Muslims fell to the ground, the new leader caught it with his right hand, and with it he led the wind of victory with vigor and great herosim. This leader was none but Hudhaifah Ibn Al-Yammaan.
At once he held the standard and chose not to announce the news of the death of An-Nu'maan until the battle was over. He called Na`iim lbn Muqrin to be in the place of his brother to honor him.
How he achieved all this in no time, in the heart of the great battle, was through his bright intuition. Then he turned like a violent tempest wind towards the Persian lines shouting, "Allahu akbar! Allah is the greatest! His Promise is fulfilled! Allahu akbar! He led His soldiers to victory!" Then he turned the head of his horse towards the fighters of his army and called, "O you followers of Muhammad (PBUH), here are Allah's Gardens ready to receive you, do not let them wait long. Come on, men of the Battle of Badr Proceed, O you heroes of the Battle of Al-Khandaq, Uhud, and Tabuuk!"
Hudhaifah kept all the enthusiasm and interest of the battle, if not more. The fighting ended in overwhelming defeat for the Persians, an unmatched defeat!
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That was his genius in wisdom when he remained in his rooms and genius in fighting when he stood on the battlefield. He was also a genius in each mission assigned to him and each advice asked of him.
When Sa'd lbn Abi Waqqaas and the Muslims with him moved from Madaa'in to Kufa and settled there after the great harm that had afflicted the Muslim Arabs due to Madaa'in's climate, `Umar wrote to Sa'd to leave at once after the most suitable sites for Muslims to resettle were found. Who was deputed, to choose the site and the place? It was Hudhaifah Ibn Al Yammaan, accompanied by Salmaan Ibn Ziyaad who sought a suitable place for Muslims.
When they reached the land of Kufa, it was a barren, sandy land, full of pebbles, but Hudhaifah smelled the breezes of healing and health. He said to his companion, "This place, Allah willing." That was how Kufa was planned, and the hands of construction turned it into an inhabited city. As soon as the Muslims emigrated there, their sick were cured, their weak became strong, and their veins were filled with the pulse of health.
Hudhaifah was very intelligent and had various experiences.
He always used to say to the Muslims, "Your best are not those who neglect this world for the last, nor those who neglect the last for this world. The best are those who take from this and that."
One day in the year A.H. 36, he was called to meet his Lord. While he was getting ready for the last journey, some of his companions came to see him. He asked them, "Have you brought a shroud with you?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Show it to me." When he saw it, he found it was new and too long. One last sarcastic grin was drawn on his lips, and he said, "This is not a shroud for me. Two white wraps without a shirt are sufficient for me. I will not be left in the grave for a long time, but will be offered a better place or a worse one!"
He then murmured a few words which, when they listened to them, they discerned the following: "Welcome O death! A dear thing coming after longing. The one who repents now prospers not."
One of the best human souls was raised to Allah, one the most pious, illuminating, and humble spirits.