Hazrat Salman Farsi{ra}

 

This is the story of the pious, mystic, Faqhi, intellectual and ascetic, Salman the Persianmay Allah be pleased with her. He grew up in the town of Isfahan in Persia, in the village of Jayyan. His father was the Dihqan (chief) of the village. He was the richest person there and had the biggest house.His father loved him, more than he loved any other. As time went by, his love for Salman may Allah be pleased with her became so strong and overpowering that he feared to lose him or have anything happen to him. So he kept him at home, a virtual prisoner, in the same way that young girls were kept. Salman may Allah be pleased with her became devoted to the Magian religion, so much so that he attained the position of custodian of the fire, which they worshipped. His duty was to see that the flames of the fire remained burning and that it did not go out for a single hour, day or night. Salman’smay Allah be pleased with her father had a vast estate, which yielded an abundant supply of crops. He himself looked after the estate and gathered harvest. One day as he went about his duties as Dihqan of the village, he said to Salman, ‘My son, as you see, I am too busy to go out to the estate now. Go and look after matters there for me today.

On the way to the estate, Salman may Allah be pleased with her passed a Christian church and heard voices raised in prayer, which attracted his attention. He did not know anything about Christianity or, for that matter, about the followers of any other religion. His father had kept him in the house away from people. When he heard the voices of the Christians, he entered the church to see what they were doing. He was impressed by their manner of praying and felt drawn to their religion. He said, ‘This religion is better than ours. I shall not leave them until the sunsets.’ Salman’smay Allah be pleased with her inclination to ChristianitySalman may Allah be pleased with her asked and was told that the Christian religion originated in Syria. He did not go to his father’s estate that day and at night, he returned home. His father met him and asked where he had been. Salman may Allah be pleased with her told him about his meeting with the Christians and how he was impressed by their religion. His father was dismayed and said: ‘My son, their is nothing good in that religion. Your religion and the religion of your forefathers is better.” ‘No, their religion is better than ours,’ he insisted. His father became upset and afraid that Salmanmay Allah be pleased with her would leave their religion. So he kept Salman may Allah be pleased with her locked up in the house and shackled his feet. Salman may Allah be pleased with her managed to send a message to the Christians, asking them to inform him of any caravans going to Syria. Before long they contacted him with the information he wanted. He broke the fetters and escaped his father’s estate to join the caravan to Syria. When he reached Syria, he asked regarding the leading person in the Christian religion and was directed to the bishop of the church. He went up to him and said: ‘I want to become a Christian and would like to attach myself to your service, learn from you and pray with you.’ The bishop agreed and Salman may Allah be pleased with her entered the church in his service. Salman may Allah be pleased with her soon found out, however, that the bishop was corrupt. He would order his followers to give money in charity while holding out the promise of blessings to them. When they gave the bishop anything to spend in the way of Allah, he would hoard it for himself and not give anything to the poor or needy. In this way, he amassed a vast quantity of gold. When the bishop died and the Christians gathered to bury him, Salman may Allah be pleased with her told them of his corrupt practices and, at their request, showed them where the bishop had kept their donations. When they saw the large jars filled with gold and silver they said, ‘By Allah, we shall not bury him.’ They nailed him on a cross and threw stones at him.  Not long after, the local people appointed another man in place of the first. Salman may Allah be pleased with her stayed on, in the service of this person who replaced him. The new bishop was an ascetic who longed for the Hereafter and engaged in worship day and night. Salman may Allah be pleased with her was devoted to him and spent much of the time in his company. Before he passed away, Salman may Allah be pleased with her said to him, “O so and so Priest! The time has come for you to witness Allah Ta’ala’s decision (meaning death). I swear by Allah, I have never adored anyone as much as I have adored you! So what would you instruct me to do? And who can you recommend for me to see?”He replied, “O son! I do not know of anyone except for a certain man living in the city of Mosul. Go to him, for you will find that he is similar to me.”A short while after he passed away, Salman may Allah be pleased with her arrived at Mosul and found the priest he had been sent to, and indeed, he was very much like the one before him in terms of simplicity and striving. After he passed away, Salman may Allah be pleased with herwas referred to another priest who in turn sent him to a priest in Ammuriyah (Ameria, near Rome) , before his demise. Salman may Allah be pleased with her stayed by this Roman priest, and decided to make a living. Eventually hemanaged to acquire some sheep and cows.When his death was near, Salman may Allah be pleased with her told him of my story and asked him for his advice just as he had asked those before him. He said: “There is nobody following our ways of life I can send you to. Nevertheless, your life seems to coincide with the era of the predestined Prophet who will arise from the Haram. His migration will be to a city full of date trees. Moreover, he will certainly have some distinct features: Between his shoulder blades, there will be the Seal of the Prophethood. He will eat food, provided it is a gift and not a donation. If you can reach that city, then do so, because you are very close to his era.”Salman’s may Allah be pleased with herinclination to the Arabs and IslamA group of Arab leaders from the Kalb tribe passed through Ammuriyah. Salman may Allah be pleased with her asked them to take him with them to the land of the Arabs, in return for whatever money he had. They agreed to take him along. When they reached Wadi al-Qura (a place between Syria and Madinah), the Arabs broke their agreement and made him a slave, then sold Salman may Allah be pleased with her to a Jew. Salman may Allah be pleased with herworked as a servant for him but he eventually sold him to a nephew of his, belonging to the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. This nephew took Salman may Allah be pleased with her with him to Yathrib, the city of palm groves, which is how the Christian at Ammuriyah had described it.

At that time the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him was inviting his people in Makkah to Islam but Salman may Allah be pleased with her did not know of this because of the harsh duties slavery imposed upon him. When the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him reached Yathrib after his hijrah from Makkah, Salman may Allah be pleased with her was on top of a palm tree doing some work. Salman’s may Allah be pleased with her master was sitting under the tree. A nephew of Salman’s may Allah be pleased with her master came up and said, ‘May Allah declare war on the Aws and the Khazraj (the two main Arab tribes of Yathrib). By Allah, they are now gathering at Quba to meet a man, who has just today, arrived from Makkah and who claims to be Prophet.’ Salman may Allah be pleased with her felt light-headed upon hearing these words and began to shiver so violently that he had to climb down, in fear that he may fall. He quickly swung down from the tree and spoke to his master’s nephew.

‘What did you say? Repeat the news for me.’

Salman’s may Allah be pleased with her master grew angry at this breach of protocol and struck him a terrible blow. ‘What does this matter to you’? Go back to what you were doing,’ he shouted.Hazrat Salman may Allah be pleased with her himself narrates:I left the house for a while, making inquiries. I asked a woman I met from the city whose entire family had become Muslim. She showed me the way to the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him.When it was evening, I took some food with me and went to the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him. The Prophet was in Quba at the time. I said, “Word has reached me that you are a very pious man, and that you have some travellers in your company. I had some charity and thought that you would be most deserving of it. This is it; you may have some to eat.” The Prophet peace and blessing be upon him withdrew his own hand, not eating from it, but told his Companions to eat. At the time, I thought, “This is one of the characteristics my Mentor told me of.”On my way back, I saw that the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him was heading to Madinah . Thus, I took the food to him, saying, “I saw that you were not eating from this charity. As a matter of fact, I presented it as a gift and not charity.” This time, the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him also ate with his Companions. “That makes two signs,” I thought.Later on, I approached the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him as he was walking behind the corpse in a funeral. I remember that at the time, he was covered in two sheets, and that his Companions were with him.I was trying to steal a look at the Seal on his back, when the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him saw me glancing. Realising that I wanted to verify what someone had told me, he let his cloak drop a little, and I managed to see that the Seal between his shoulder blades was exactly the way my Mentor had described it. I threw myself down before the Prophet (sallallahu-alayhi wasallam) kissing (his blessed hands/feet) and started to cry. The Holy Prophet peace and blessing be upon himsaid, “O Salman! Reveal your story.”So I sat in front of him, relating my story to him and hoping that his Companions could also hear it. When I had finished, the Prophet said, “O Salman! Make a deal with your owner to free you.”Consequently, my master did agree to free me, but in exchange for the following: ‘Three hundred date trees, as well as one thousand, six hundred silver coins.’ Hence, the Sahaba (Radhiallahu anahum) helped by providing around twenty to thirty date plants each, and a tenth of every man’s land in accordance to how much he owned. The Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to me, “Dig a hole for each date-plant. When you are finished, let me know so that I can personally fix all the date-plants into place with my own hands.” Thus, with the help of my friends, I dug holes wherever the date-plants were to be put.Later on, the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him came. We stood by his side holding the plants as he fixed them into the ground. I swear by The Being Who sent the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him with the Truth, not a single plant died out.Nevertheless, I still had the silver to pay. A man came to the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him bringing from the mines some gold which was roughly the size of a pigeon’s egg. The Prophet said, “O Salman! Take this and pay off whatever you have to.”I replied, “O Messenger of Allah! How will this be enough for my debt?”He said, “Allah will surely make it sufficient for your debt.”As a result to this statement, I swear By Allah, it outweighed the one thousand, six hundred coins. I not only paid off my dues, but what I had left with me was equivalent to what I had given them.The strict honesty of the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him was one of the characteristics that led Salman may Allah be pleased with her to believe in him and accept Islam. Salman may Allah be pleased with her was released from slavery by the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him, who paid his Jewish master a stipulated price, and who himself planted an agreed number of date palms to secure Salman’s may Allah be pleased with her manumission. After accepting Islam, Salman may Allah be pleased with herwould say when asked whose son he was, ‘I am Salman, the son of Islam from the children of Adam.’

Salman may Allah be pleased with her was to play an important role in the struggles of the growing Muslim State. At the battle of Khandaq, he proved to be an innovator in military strategy. It was he who suggested digging a ditch or khandaq around Madinah to keep the Quraysh army at bay. When Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Makkans, saw the ditch, he said, ‘This stratagem has not been employed by the Arabs before.’ Salman may Allah be pleased with her participated in all of the other campaigns of the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him thereafter. He was also with Saad in the conquest of Iraq. After the grand victory, the Caliph Umar may Allah be pleased with her chose him because of his knowledge of the terrain, to select the land upon which Kufa was to be built. Salman may Allah be pleased with her became known as ‘Salman the Good’. Salman may Allah be pleased with her was a scholar who lived a rough and ascetic life. He had one cloak, which he wore and  slept on. He would not seek the shelter of a roof but stayed under a tree or against a wall. A man once said to him: ‘Shall I not build you a house in which you may live?’  ‘I have no need of a house,’ he replied.  The man persisted and said; ‘I know the type of house that would suit you.’  ‘Describe it to me,’ said Salman.  ‘I shall build you a house which if you stood up in, the roof would hurt your head and if you were to stretch your legs, the wall would hurt them.’ Later, as a governor of Al-Madain (Ctesiphon) near Baghdad, Salman may Allah be pleased with her received a stipend of five thousand dhirhams. This he would distribute as sadaqah. He lived from the work of his own hands. When some people came to Madina and saw him working the palm groves, they said, ‘You are the leader here and your sustenance is guaranteed and yet you do this work?’

‘I like to eat from the work of my own hands,’ he replied. Salman may Allah be pleased with her however was not extreme in his ascetism.

It is related that he visited Abu Dardaa may Allah be pleased with her with which the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him had joined him in brotherhood. He found Abu Dardaa’s wife in a miserable state and he asked, ‘What is the matter with you.’‘Your brother has no need of anything in this world,’ she replied.

When Abu Dardaa may Allah be pleased with her came, he welcomed Salman may Allah be pleased with herand gave him food. Salman may Allah be pleased with her told him to eat but Abu Dardaa may Allah be pleased with her said, ‘I am fasting.’‘I swear to you that I shall not eat until you eat also.’ Salman may Allah be pleased with her spent the night there as well. During the night, Abu ad-Dardaa may Allah be pleased with her got up but Salman may Allah be pleased with her got hold of him and said, ‘O Abu ad-Dardaa, your Lord has a right over you. Your family has a right over you and your body has a right over you. Give to each there due.’ Then in the morning, they prayed together and then went out to meet the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him. The Prophet peace and blessing be upon him supported Salman may Allah be pleased with her in what he had said.  (Bukhari)

As a scholar, Salman may Allah be pleased with herwas noted for his vast knowledge and wisdom. Ali may Allah be pleased with her said of him that he was like Luqman the Wise. And Kab al-Ahbar said: ‘Salman is bursting with knowledge and wisdom. He is an ocean that does not dry up.’ Salman may Allah be pleased with her had knowledge of both the Christian scripture and the Quraan in addition to his earlier knowledge of the Zoroastrian religion. Salman may Allah be pleased with her in fact translated parts of the Quraan into Persian during the lifetime of the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him. He was thus the first person to translate the Quraan into a foreign language. According to the most reliable account, he died in either 31 or 34 A.H, at the age of 250 years, during the caliphate of Uthman, at Ctesiphon. Abu Hurraira may Allah be pleased with her narrates, that the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him prayed the following verse: ‘If ye turn back, He will substitute in your stead another people, then they would not be like you.’ (Q47:38) The Sahabah asked the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him, ‘O Prophet peace and blessing be upon him, who are these people that Allah has mentioned, that he would chose them instead of us? That they will not do as we did?’ The Prophet peace and blessing be upon him placed his hand on Salman’s thigh and said, ‘It will be his people. And even if faith is near the Surya (the Pleiads), someone from the Persians would attain it.’ Who were the people of Kufa and Iraq? Who was Imaam Abu Hanifah? They were all Persians. The divinely chosen denizens of Kufa were Persians. Their spiritual teachers were Persians and so were the three about whom the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him said, ‘Paradise longs for three people. Ali, Amar and Salman.’ (Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurraira may Allah be pleased with her narrates in another Hadith, that the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him once prayed the following verse: ‘As well as others of them, who have not already joined them.’ (Q62:3) The Sahabah asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah peace and blessing be upon him, who are these people,’ The Prophet peace and blessing be upon him placed his hand on Salman may Allah be pleased with her  and said, ‘If faith was near the Pleiads, then someone from them would attain it.’  (Bukhari and Muslim) Time bore witness to the realisation of the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him words. The progeny of the Persians spread their knowledge and populated the world. ConclusionOnce Abu Sufyan came to Madinah and passed by Salman may Allah be pleased with her, Bilal may Allah be pleased with her and Sohayb may Allah be pleased with her. The three companions said, ‘Have not the swords of Allah beheaded this accursed man yet?’ Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with her upon hearing this said, ‘Do not say such things of the leader of Quraish.’ After that, Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with her went to the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him and told him of this conversation. The Prophet peace and blessing be upon him said, ‘Have you annoyed these three? If you have, then you have annoyed Allah.’ Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with her made haste to the three companions and asked them whether they took offence on his words. They told him that they had not and further said, ‘O brother, may Allah forgive you.’ The annoyance of Salman may Allah be pleased with heris the annoyance of Allah. Even the likes of Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with herfear to offend him. It has come in another Hadith that the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him said, ‘Allah has commanded me to love four men, for He too loves them. They are Ali, Abu Dhar, Miqdad and Salman.’It has also come in a Hadith that, ‘Each Prophet had seven helpers and protectors, I was given fourteen. Ali, Hasan and Hussain, Hamzah, Abu Bakr, Umar, Masaab Ibn Ameer, Bilal, Salman, Amar, Abdullah Ibn Masood, Abu Dhar and Miqdad.’ This was Salman Farsi peace and blessing be upon him , the Persian who’s quest for the true faith lasted almost all of his 250 years of life. As Muslims and as students, it should be our point of aspiration to achieve at least some of the dedication of Salman Farsi peace and blessing be upon him to faith and the gaining of knowledge.

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