Blessed Be the Carrier of the Qur'aan
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) advised his Companions one day, "Take the Qur'aan from four people: Abd Allah Ibn Mas'uud, Saalim Mawlaa Abi Hudhaifah Ubai lbn Ka'b and Mu'aadh lbn Jabal."
We have met before with Ibn Mas'uud and Ubai and Mu'aadh. So, who was this fourth Companion whom the Messenger made as an authority for the teaching of the Our'aan and a source of reference? Verily, he was Saalim Mawlaa Abi Hudhaifah. He was a kind servant. Islam was exalted on account of him until it made him a son of one of the great Muslims who, before his Islam, was honored to be one of the most noble of the Quraish and one of their leaders. When Islam cancelled the practice of adoption, he became a brother, a friend, a protector of those whom he had adopted. Such was the glorious Companion, Abu Hudhaifah Ibn `Utbah. By the grace of Allah and His favor upon Saalim, he reached an elevated lofty position which his spiritual virtues, along with his behavior and his piety, had prepared him for.
Saalim Mawlaa Abi Hudhaifah was known by that name because he had been a slave and emancipated. He believed in Allah and His Messenger early, and took his place among the first generation.
Abu Hudhaifah Ibn `Utbah became Muslim at an early age and hastened to Islam, leaving his father, `Utbah Ibn Rabii'ah, swallowing his anger and his concerns which disturbed the purity of his life, due to the Islam of his son, who was noble among his people. His father had been preparing him for leadership among the Quraish.
Abu Hudhaifah adopted Saalim and emancipated him, and he became known as Saalim Ibn Abi Hudhaifah. Both of them continuously worshiped their Lord in awe and fear and were extremely patient under the hardship of the Quraish and their schemes.
One day, verses of the Qur'aan were revealed which outlawed the practice of adoption and every adopted person returned to carrying the name of his real father who had begotten him. So, Zaid Ibn Haarithah, for example, whom the Prophet had adopted and who had been known among the Muslims as Zaid lbn Muhammad, returned to carrying the name of his father, Haarithah and became Zaid Ibn Uaarithah. But Saalim's father was not known to him, so Abu Hudhaifah became his guardian and be was called Saalim Mawlaa Abi Hudhaifah.
Perhaps when it cancelled the practice of adoption Islam wanted to say to the Muslims, Do not take kinship nor relationship, nor the bond by which you affirm your brotherhood as greater and stronger than Islam itself and the religious faith by which you are really made brothers. The early Muslims understood this very well. So, nothing was more loved to any one of them after Allah and His Messenger than their brethren in faith and in Islam.
We have seen how the Ansaar welcomed their brethren, the Muhaajiruun. They shared with them their wealth, their homes, and all they owned. This is what we saw happening between Abu Hudhaifah, the noble of the Quraish, and Saalim, who was an emancipated slave and did not know his father.
They remained more than brothers up to the last moment of their lives, even until death: they died together spirit with spirit and body close to body. This is the unique, incomparable greatnesses of Islam, but this is only one of its greatnesses and its superiorities.
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Saalim believed with a sincere faith and took his path to Allah by adopting the behavior of the devout and pious. Neither his genealogy nor his position in society had any consideration for him. He was elevated by his piety and sincerity to the highest degree of the new society which Islam came to establish and caused to rise on a new, great and just foundation, a foundation summarized in the following glorious verse "Surely, the most honourable of you in the sight of GOD is the most pious of you" (49:13) and in the noble hadiiths: "Arabs have no superiority over non-Arabs except in piety" and "The son of a white woman has no superiority over the son of a black woman except in piety."
In this new, rightly-guided society, Abu Hudhaifah, who was only a slave yesterday, found for himself honor to be in charge, to have power and to govern. Moreover, he found honor for his family, to marry Saalim to his niece Faatimah Bint Al-Waliid Ibn `Utbah. And in this new, rightly-guided society, which destroyed the unjust class structure and outlawed false distinctions and privileges, Saalim found himself always in the first rank on account of his truthfulness, faith, and bravery.
Yes, he became an Imam for the Muhaajiruun of Makkah to Al Madiinah during their prayer in the Qubaa' Mosque. There is proof in the Book of Allah, when the Prophet ordered the Muslims to learn from him. There were with him men of goodness and excellence, which made the Messenger say to him, "Praise be to Allah, Who made in my nation the like of you." His Muslim brothers called him "Saalim from among the Righteous."
Indeed, the story of Saalim is like the story of Bilaal and the story of many tens of slaves and the poor from whom Islam shook off the factors of servitude and weakness and made them imams and commanders in a society of guidance, reason, integrity of conduct, and frankness.
Saalim was a receiver of all the rightly guided virtues of Islam. These virtues accumulated in him and around him, and his truthful, deep faith arranged them in proper order in the most beautiful disposition. Among his most prominent virtues was his overt, public frankness about what he perceived as the truth. Indeed, he did not keep silent when he perceived something which he felt it was his duty to speak about. He did not betray life by maintaining silence when mistakes were made.
After Makkah was liberated by the Muslims, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sent some detachments to villages and tribes around Makkah to inform them that whenever he sent someone to them, they were coming only as callers to the Faith, so not to harm them or kill them.
At the head of one of these companies was Khaalid Ibn Al Waliid. When Khaalid reached his distination, some incident led him to use the sword and shed blood. When the Prophet (PBUH) heard the news of these events, he apologized to his Lord a long time saying, "O Allah, indeed I absolve myself from all that Khaalid has done." The Commander of the Faithful `Umar ever remained to recollect and assess him saying, "In the sword of khaalid, indeed, is a heavy burden."
Saalim Mawlaa Abi Hudhaifah accompanied Khaalid on this expedition, along with other Companions. As soon as Saalim saw the actions of Khaalid, he confronted him with a sharp objection and went on enumerating to him the mistakes he had committed. Khaalid, the leader, the great hero in both jaahiliyah and Islam, listened the first time, defended himself the second time, and became more forceful in speech the third time while Saalim, holding on to his point of view, spoke without fear or evasion or circumvention in speech. Saalim at that time did not look at Khaalid as a nobleman from among the nobles of Makkah, while he was one who only yesterday was a slave. No, Islam had created equality between them. He did not look at him as a leader, venerating his errors, but as a partner in duty and responsibility. Moreover, his opposition to Khaalid did not originate from a selfish purpose or interest; it was advice, consecrated by Islam, which was his right. What he heard all the time from his Prophet was a foundation and essence of the entire religion when he said, "Religion is sincere advice. Religion is sincere advice. Religion is sincere advice."
When the action of Khaalid reached the Messenger (PBUH), he asked, "Did anyone stand up to him?" He did not delay to question, and he was not alarmed. His anger was pacified when they said to him, "Yes, Saalim critically examined him and opposed him."
Saalim lived with his Messenger (PBUH) and the believers. He did not stay behind from any battle, nor refrain from performing any worship, and his brotherliness with Abu Hudhaifah increased daily with mutual self-sacrifice and solidarity.
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The Messsenger (PBUH) passed away to the Most Exalted Guardian and the caliphate Abu Bakr was confronted with the conspiracies of the apostates. Then the Day of Al-Yamaamah came and it was a terrible war. Islam had not gone through anything like it. The Muslims went out to fight and Saalim and his brother Abu Hudhaifah went out to fight in the cause of Allah. At the start of the battle, the Muslims did not withstand the attack. However, each believer there felt that the battle was his own and the responsibility was his own. Khaalid lbn Al-Waliid gathered them together again and reorganized the army with astonishing skill and genius.
The brothers Abu Hudhaifah and Saalim embraced and pledged martyrdom in the cause of the religion of truth which gave them the happiness of this world and the next. They threw themselves into the vast, terrible sea of battle. Abu Hudhaifah was calling, "`O people of the Qur'aan, decorate the Qur'aan with your actions," and his sword was like a violent hurricane in the army of Musailamah the Liar. And Saalim was shouting, `What a bad carrier of the Qur'aan I would be if the Muslims were attacked through me.
Drive into a trap, O Saalim, but yes, you are our best carrier of the Qur`aan.
And Saalim's sword was forceful on the necks of the apostates who embarked upon celebrating the jaahiliyah of the Quraish and extinguishing the light of Islam. The swords of apostasy fell upon his right hand and cut it off, while he was carrying with it the standard of the Muhaajiruun after its bearer, Zaid Ibn Al-Khattaab, had fallen. When his right hand was cut off, he picked up the standard with his left and kept on waving it high while shouting the following noble Qur'aanic verses: "And how many of the Prophets have fought, and with them large troops of godly people? But they never lost heart when adversity befell them in GOD's cause, nor did they weaken, nor did they fail. And GOD loves those who show fortitude" (3:146).
Is not that the most magnificent slogan? That is the one he chose on the day of death.
A group of apostates circled around him, so the hero fell, but his spirit kept on repeating in his purified body, until the battle ended with the killing of Musailamah the Liar, the defeat of his army, and the triumph of the Muslim army.
When the Muslims were examining their sacrificed and martyrs, they found Saalim in the last agony of death. He asked them, "What has Abu Hudhaifah done?" They said, "`He died a martyr." He said, "Lay me next to him." They said, "He is next to you, O Saalim." He had died a martyr in the same place.
He smiled his last smile and did not speak again. He and his companion had realized what they desired. Together they had become Muslims. Together they had lived and together they had died as martyrs.