Abdullah bin Salam (r.a.)

Islam had just started to win hearts. The verses sent down to the Prophet, who was the sun of bliss, called the whole humanity to the truth and true religion on the one hand and especially the people of the Book to this lofty religion on the other hand. Those who accepted this call were given the glad tiding of eternal bliss: “Not all of them are alike: of the People of the book are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works; they are in the ranks of the righteous.”[1]

One of the righteous people indicated in the verse was Abdullah bin Salam. He was famous for his ilm and taqwa during the Era of Bliss and is one of the seven Abdullahs known as “Abadila as-Sab’a”.

Abdullah bin Salam’s becoming a Muslim, which is a cornerstone in his life, is exemplary. He narrates this incident as follows:

When I heard the prophethood of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), I became very happy. For, I knew his name, attributes and the time of emergence. However, I kept silent. Somebody informed me that he had come to Quba. I was at the top of a date tree then. My aunt, Khalida bint Harith was under that tree. As soon as I heard the news, I uttered takbir: “Allahu akbar!” When my aunt heard the takbir, she said, “Damn! I swear that you would not be happier if you heard that Musa bin Imran had come.” I said, “O my aunt! By Allah, he is Musa bin Imran’s brother. He has been sent with the same truth.” This time, my aunt spoke more mildly: “O my nephew! Is he the prophet we have been saying that will come near the end of time?” I said, “Yes, definitely.”

Abdullah bin Salam rushed to the Messenger of Allah as soon as he got this news. He entered among the people who had gathered to meet the Messenger of Allah, who would enter Madinah. When he saw the Messenger of Allah, he could not help shouting, "By Allah, there is no lie in this face!”[2]

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asked him, "Are you Abdullah bin Salam?" When Abdullah said, "Yes", the Messenger of Allah said, "Come closer." He asked,

"O Abdullah, say for Allah. Have you seen my attributes in the Torah?"

Abdullah asked a question instead of answering this question:

"Would you tell me the attributes of Allah?"

After the Messenger of Allah waited for a few moments, Allah Almighty sent down the chapter of al-Ikhlas: 

“Say: He is Allah the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth, not nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”

When Abdullah bin Salam heard these verses, he could not help becoming a Muslim. He said,

“O Messenger of Allah! Yes, you are telling the truth. I witness that there is no god but Allah and that you are His Messenger.”[3]

After Abdullah bin Salam was honored by the light of Islam, he invited his family to Islam and became a means of their accepting Islam. In the meantime, his aunt Khalida also became a Muslim.  

That Abdullah bin Salam became a Muslim infuriated the Jews. Although they regarded him as a great guide, they did not hesitate to say just the opposite when they heard that he accepted Islam. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah asked the Jews in his house in the absence of Abdullah bin Salam how they knew him. The Jews, who had not yet heard of his being a Muslim, praised him using nice words. Thereupon, Abdullah bin Salam came out of the place he was hiding and said,

"O Jewish community! Fear Allah! Accept this truth which came to you. I swear that you know that this person is the Messenger of Allah. In the Torah you have, you will find both his name and his attributes. I witness that is the Messenger of Allah. I have believed in him, affirmed him and recognized him."

When the Jews heard these unexpected words from Abdullah bin Salam, they accused him denying their previous words a little while before. Thereupon, Abdullah bin Salam said to the Messenger of Allah, “O Messenger of Allah! Did I not tell you that the Jewish nation is a dishonest, calumnious, cruel and brutal nation?” [4]

It is expressed by tafsir scholars that the Quran witnesses the virtue of Abdullah bin Salam with two verses. In both verses, Allah shows him as a witness against the polytheists. The following is stated in one of them:

"If (this teaching) be from Allah, and ye reject it, and a witness from among the Children of Israel testifies to its similarity (with earlier scriptures), and has believed while ye are arrogant, (how unjust ye are!)?" [5]

It is stated in tafsir books that what is meant by “a witness from among the Children of Israel” is Abdullah bin Salam. [6]

The witnessing of Muadh bin Jabal, which shows his virtue, is also exemplary. This witnessing is important in that it expresses a secret of his being able to be included in the "seven Abdullahs". Zayd bin Umayra narrates:

"When Muadh was in his deathbed, he is asked, 'O Abu Abdurrahman! Will you give us advice?' They make Muadh sit up upon his request. He says, 'Ilm and belief are in their places. Learn ilm from four people: Abud-Darda, Salman al-Farisi, Abdullah bin Mas’ud and Abdullah bin Salam. For, I heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'Abdullah bin Salam is the 10th person of the 10 people in Paradise.'"[7]

Once, Abdullah bin Salam revealed the lies of the Jews who concealed the verses of stoning in the Torah from the Messenger of Allah by informing the Messenger of Allah about it in person [8]; he opposed those who wanted to kill Hz. Uthman. He stated that if Hz. Uthman were martyred, killing and fighting would continue among Muslims until the Day of Judgment.

Hz. Abdullah died in 43 H.

May Allah be pleased with him!
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[1]Aal-i Imran, 71.
[2]Sirah, 2: 164.
[3]Tafsiru Ibn Kathir, 2: 521.
[4]Sirah, 2: 164.
[5]ar-Ra’d, 43; al-Ahqaf, 10.
[6] Tafsiru Ibn Kathir, 4: 156.
[7]Usdul-Ghaba 3: 177; Tabaqat, 2: 353.
[8]Sirah, 2: 215.

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