Abdullah bin Rawaha (r.a.)

Our Prophet had not migrated to Madinah yet. However, Islam was spreading rapidly in Madinah. The Messenger of Allah sent Mus'ab bin Umayr to Madinah to spread the light of Islam in Madinah and to teach Islam to Muslims. Fulfilling this duty in the best way with the help of Allah Almighty, Hz. Mus'ab came to Makkah with 75 Muslims, 2 of whom were women, in hajj season to visit the Prophet. Abdullah bin Rawaha was one of these 75 people.

The Prophet met with Muslims at Aqaba. Various conversations took place among them. At one point, Hz. Abu Haytham said, "O Messenger of Allah! There is an agreement and a contract between us and the Jews. We are acting contrarily to that agreement and contract by this act.  What will happen to us if you return to your people in Makkah after Allah has made you triumphant and if you leave us alone?" The Prophet smiled and said,

"My blood is your blood. If you shed your blood, I will shed my blood. My property is your property and my honor is your honor. I am from you, and you are from me. I will fight against those whom you fight. I will make peace with the one you make peace with. "[1]

The conversations lengthened a lot. Hz. Abdullah did not want the Prophet to be depressed. The Messenger of Allah wanted to get rid of the torture of Makkan polytheists and to come to Madinah. Was there any point in lengthening the conversation? Was it not necessary to say, "O Messenger of Allah! Come to us. We accept all of your terms circumstances” and to please the Messenger of Allah? Soon, Hz. Abdullah expressed this desire of his. He said to Abu Haytham,

"We have accepted what came from Allah and His Messenger. O Abu Haytham! Move aside. We will pay allegiance to the Messenger of Allah."

Thereupon, the Muslims of Madinah started to pay allegiance to the Prophet one by one. When Abdullah bin Rawaha paid allegiance, he said, “O Messenger of Allah! I pay allegiance to you like the 12 apostles paid allegiance to Hz. Isa (Jesus).”

The Quran narrates as follows that the apostles always acted with Hz. Isa:

“When Jesus found unbelief on their part, he said: "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the Disciples: "We are Allah's helpers we believe in Allah and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.

Our Lord! We believe in what thou hast revealed, and we follow the Messenger; then write us down among those who bear witness.”[2]

Thus, Abdullah bin Rawaha wanted to state that they would help the Messenger of Allah against the polytheists with their lives and wealth by paying allegiance to him as the disciples did. 

Abdullah bin Rawaha served greatly in Madinah to spread Islam fast. He hated idols and could not understand why people worshipped lifeless trees and pieces of stones. He did his best to save them from these aberrations.

Hz. Abu Darda had not become a Muslim yet. He had an idol. He loved it very much. Abdullah bin Rawaha wanted Abu Darda to turn away from idols and to be a believer. Although he invited Abu Darda to Islam many times, he could not persuade him. There was sincerity and friendship between them more than biological brothers. He had to do something to save him. One day, he saw Abu Darda leaving his house. He took his axe and went into the room where the idol was. He broke the idol into pieces by reading a poem: "Everything that is worshipped besides Allah is wrong." When Abu Darda’s wife heard the noise and came, she saw that Hz. Abdullah had broken the idol into pieces. She said, "O Rawaha's son! What have you done? You have destroyed me!" Abdullah bin Rawaha continued breaking the idol without heeding her. He left after shattering it fully. When Abu Darda came home, he saw that she was crying. He asked why she was crying. She told him what had happened. Abu Darda became very angry at first. Then, he said, "If the idol had been something useful, it would have defended and protected itself." The light of guidance started to brighten in his heart. He went out to find Abdullah bin Rawaha and became a Muslim. [3]

Abdullah bin Rawaha was one of the distinguished and heroic poets of the Prophet. His poetry, which clearly showed the unbelief and ignorance of the polytheists and blamed them for worshipping idols that had no feelings and consciousness, won the approval of the Messenger of Allah. The Prophet complimented him as follows:

"I swear by Allah, in whose hand of power my existence is that his words are more powerful than throwing arrows at Qurayshi polytheists." [4]

With his poems, he not only condemned the polytheists but also recited very beautiful poems praising the Prophet. One of these poems is as follows:

"At dawn, when the earth starts to get bright, how happy we are because the Messenger of Allah is among us and the Quran is being read. He showed us the right path after our aberration and misguidance; and our hearts believed in him without hesitation. Whatever he conveyed to us from Allah took place. When the polytheists were asleep in their beds, he would spend the night away from his bed. "

Upon this poem of Abdullah bin Rawaha, the Prophet said, "Surely our brother does not say wrong things." [5] Thus, he appreciated Abdullah and mentioned the unerring criterion about poems. A poem should not describe what is wrong.

“And the Poets― it is those straying in Evil, who follow them.”[6] When the verse above was sent down, strong poets among the Companions like Abdul­lah bin Rawaha, Hassan bin Thabit and Ka’b bin Malik entered into the presence of the Messenger of Allah and said, 

“O Messenger of Allah! When Allah Almighty sent down this verse, He knew that we were poets.” The Prophet said,

“You are not among those straying in evil, who follow them.” Then, he read the following verse: “Except those who believe, work righteousness, engage much in the remembrance of Allah, and defend themselves after they are unjustly attacked.” [7] He said, “You are among these poets.” Then, they left happily.

Abdullah bin Rawaha was a Companion who immediately fulfilled all of the orders of our Prophet without hesitation. This was one of his most specific characteristics. Therefore, he reached an exceptional level in surrendering. For, the person he loved was the Messenger of Allah; there was a wisdom in every command of his, and there were great meanings in every act of his.

One day, he was going to the Prophet. Meanwhile, the Messenger of Allah was delivering a sermon in the mosque. Abdullah bin Rawaha approached the mosque but he had not entered it yet. He heard the Prophet say to the congregation, "Sit down." As soon as he heard this order, he sat down where he was immediately. He waited there until the Prophet finished his sermon. The Companions said to the Prophet:

“O Messenger of Allah! Do you see where Abdullah bin Rawaha is sitting? When he heard that you commanded your congregation, 'Sit down,' he sat down where he was.'”

The Prophet was very pleased with this act of Abdullah, which showed his submission and obedience and prayed for him as follows:

"May Allah increase your obedience to Him and His Messenger!" [8]

Hz. Abdullah tried to tell people the right path and the truth at every opportunity he found, conveyed to people what he had learned from the Messenger of Allah and tried to make them benefit from the truths of belief and the Quran.

One day, he was sitting with a few people in Madinah and talking with them. The people around him listened to him very carefully. There was virtually a table of knowledge and love there. The Prophet, who saw these happy moments of his Companions, complimented them as follows:

“You are such people that Allah Almighty ordered me to sit with you.” Then he read the following verse: “And keep thy soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face.”[9] After that, he said,

“Know it that there are as many angels as your number sitting with you here. When you glorify Allah, they join you; when you praise Allah, they praise Him too. When you utter takbir, they utter takbir too.”[10]

Abdullah bin Rawaha was a person of taqwa. He worshipped a lot, followed the Sunnah and feared Allah a lot. Whenever he entered his house and left his house, he would perform a prayer of two rak’ahs. His wife narrated that he never abandoned this prayer. [11] Besides, he performed fasting in the expeditions in very hot weather when a person had to put his hand on his head due to the heat to shade his head. It is narrated that only the Messenger of Allah and he performed fasting during an expedition. [12]

Abdullah bin Rawaha took part in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and Khaybar and joined the expeditions of Hu­day­biyya and Umrah. He was sent as a vanguard to find out the situation of the Jews of Khaybar before the Battle of Khaybar; afterwards, he was appointed as the leader of a thirty-people delegation that was sent to negotiate with Usayr bin Zarim, the leader of the Jews of Khaybar. [13]

After Khaybar was conquered, the Prophet appointed Abdullah bin Rawaha to estimate the crops of the Jewish people. The Jews of Khaybar were allowed to remain in their places on condition that they would give half of their crops to the Muslims. The Jews wanted to gather up the jewelry of their wives and give them to Abdullah bin Rawaha so that he would estimate the amount of their crops less.  Abdullah bin Rawaha became extremely angry when he heard this offer and said,

"O Jewish community! By Allah! You are the most unpleasant and disgusting creatures of Allah in my view! What you offer me is bribery. Bribery is forbidden. We never accept it." [14]

In spite of all this, Abdullah bin Rawaha did not trust his deeds; he never felt sure that he would not be punished by Allah. He cried as recalled the following verse: "Not one of you but will pass over it (Hell)." [15] He said, “I do not know whether I will be saved from Hell after going there.” [16]

The Battle of Muta, which took place in 8 H, was the last war that Abdullah bin Rawaha joined. The Prophet sent Harith bin Umayr with a letter to the Greek Kaiser. Harith bin Umayr was martyred by Shurahbil bin Amr, the governor of Damascus. The martyrdom of Umayr affected the Prophet a lot. He immediately prepared an army of 3000 people. He appointed Zayd bin Haritha as the commander of the army. If Zayd were to be martyred, Jafar bin Abi Talib would be the commander; and if he were to be martyred, the army would be commanded by Abdullah bin Rawaha.

The army that was prepared was seen off by the Messenger of Allah. The mujahids said goodbye to the other Muslims. They reached the place called “Thaniyyatul-Wada'”. Abdullah bin Rawaha started to cry while saying goodbye. When he was asked why he was crying, he gave the following answer:   

“By Allah, I am not crying because of the love of the world or because I will miss you. What makes me cry is the following verse that I heard from the Messenger of Allah: ‘Not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished.’ [17] I do not know how I will return from Hell after going there. I ask Allah, who is Rahman, to be martyred by the blow of a sword that makes the blood gush forth or by a spear that smash the lungs and intestines so that those who visit my grave will say, ‘Allah showed this warrior the true path and he found the true path.’” [18]

When his army was preparing to set off, Abdullah bin Rawaha entered into the presence of the Prophet. After saying goodbye to the Prophet, Abdullah said,

"May Allah continue His grace to you as He did it to Hz. Musa (Moses)! May He grant His help to you as he did to those whom He helped and made victorious!" Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said to him,

"O Rawaha's son! May Allah make you steadfast and continuous in good deeds! "[19]

After the Prophet said goodbye to the mujahids and set off to return to Madinah, Abdullah bin Rawaha greeted him with these couplets:

"Peace be on the person who remained behind, whom I said goodbye at the date grove, the best utterer of goodbye and the best friend!" [20]

When Shurahbil bin Amr was informed that the Muslims were coming toward him, he gathered many soldiers. The number of the soldiers he gathered was over 100 thousands – according to another narration, 200 thousand. Besides, the army had plenty of horses and weapons. However, the Muslims were deprived of them.

When the mujahids were informed that Shurahbil had prepared a big army equipped with arms, they sat for two nights to discuss the situation. Zayd bin Haritha asked the mujahids about their opinions. Some mujahids suggested giving up confronting the Greeks and attacking their country; others suggested informing the Messenger of Allah about the situation and asking help from him.

Abdullah bin Rawaha kept silent and did not speak. When Zayd bin Haritha asked him about his thoughts, spoke as follows:

"O my people! By Allah, what you do not want now is martyrdom, which you desired to acquire when you started this journey. We do not fight because we have more men, weapons, horses or cavalries than enemy but because of the religious power that Allah has granted us. Go and fight! You will have one of the two good things: either victory or martyrdom. By Allah, during the Battle of Badr, we had only two horses, and only one horse during the Battle of Uhud. If it is written in qadar (destiny) that we will beat the enemy, it is Allah’s and the Prophet’s promise to us. Allah will not break His promise. If martyrdom is written in qadar, we will join our brothers in Paradise."

This speech of Abdullah bin Rawaha encouraged the mujahids. They said,

"Rawaha's son is telling the truth." Then, they continued on their way. Abdullah bin Rawaha said,

"I will probably not go back to my family. I hope that I will be a martyr."

Eventually, the two armies confronted at Muta and began to fight and struggle against each other. Zayd became a martyr; and Jafar grabbed the standard. When Jafar was martyred, Abdullah bin Rawaha grabbed the standard. As Abdullah bin Rawaha was holding the standard, he went toward the enemy on his horse. While doing so, he was trying to make his soul surrender to him, and to eliminate some hesitations:

“O my soul! I swore that I was going to make you surrender to me. You will either accept it willingly or I will force you to do it. As I understand it, you do not like Paradise very much. You have not been satisfied for years. O my soul! If you are not killed now, will you not ever be killed? The time of death has come. You will be given what you do not want. If you do what those two people did, if you prefer martyrdom, you will do the best thing. If you become late, you will be sorry.”

Abdullah bin Rawaha was fighting by speaking like that. Meanwhile, one of his fingers was wounded. He dismounted from his horse, stepped on the wounded finger and said,

"Are not you just a bleeding finger? This misfortune was sent by Allah.” Then, he cut the finger off. He had not eliminated the hesitation of his soul yet. Finally, he said:

"O my soul! What are the things that prevent you from being martyred? If you act shyly because of your wife, she has been divorced with three talaqs. If it is because of slaves, they have been freed. If it is because of the groves and orchards that have been neglected and uncared, they have been given to Allah and His Messenger."

Abdullah bin Rawaha, who started fighting with might and main, was wounded by a spear and fell down. Soon, he passed away in the place where he was taken.

Allah Almighty eliminated the notions of time and space, and showed the battlefield to His Messenger. The Prophet informed the Muslims that the commanders had been martyred before news about them came to Madinah. He ascended the pulpit and sat. When the people gathered, he addressed them as follows:  

"They confronted the enemy. Zayd was martyred. He has entered Paradise now. He is running there. Then Jafar took the standard. He was also martyred. Now he is standing with two wings made of ruby. Abdullah bin Rawaha took the standard after Jafar."

The Messenger of Allah kept silent for a while. The color of the faces of Ansar changed. They thought Abdullah bin Rawaha made something wrong. The Prophet said,

"Abdullah bin Rawaha reinforced his two legs. He fought the enemies having the standard in his hand and was killed as a martyr. He entered Paradise with objection."

Ansar found it hard to accept that Abdullah bin Rawaha entered Paradise with objection. They asked the Messenger of Allah the reason for the objection. The Messenger of Allah answered them as follows: 

"When he was wounded, he hesitated to fight the enemy. Then, he blamed his soul, became courageous and was martyred. They were shown to me on thrones in Paradise. I saw that Abdullah bin Rawaha's throne was lower than those of his friends. I asked why. I was given the following answer: 'Abdullah had some hesitations before fighting; then, he started to fight.' "[21]

May Allah be pleased with them!
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[1]Sirah,2: 85.
[2]Aal-i Imran, 52-53.
[3]Hayatus-Sahaba, 1: 288-289.
[4]Nasai, Hajj: 119.
[5]Bukhari, Kusuf: 71.
[6]ash-Shuara, 224.
[7]ash-Shuara, 227.
[8]Hayatus-Sahaba, 2: 524-525.
[9]al-Kahf, 28.
[10]Hayatus-Sahaba, 4: 20.
[11]ibid, 3: 583.
[12]Isaba, 2: 297.
[13]Tabaqat, 3: 526.
[14]Sirah, 3: 369.
[15]Maryam, 71.
[16]Hayatus-Sahaba, 3: 435.
[17]Maryam, 71.
[18]Sirah, 4: 15-16.
[19]Tabaqat, 3: 528; Sirah, 4: 16.
[20]Sirah, 4: 21.
[21]Usdul-Ghaba, 3: 158-159; Sirah, 4: 16-22.

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