Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (r.a.)

Years passed after Islam rose in Makkah. The neighboring city of Madinah was full of the news of guidance. The people of Madinah who wanted to enlighten their ways with the light of the sun of Islam traveled to Makkah. The Prophet went out of Makkah to meet them in a secure place. For, Makkah was full of polytheists who oppressed and tortured the Muslims. The Prophet met the delegates at Aqabah, outside Makkah. Therefore, these negotiations were recorded as Pledges of Aqaba in history.  

Among the people who were present in the Second Pledge of Aqaba and who paid allegiance to the Prophet was Khalid bin Zayd, who was known as “Abu Ayyub al-Ansari”. Hz. Khalid belonged to the clan of Sons of Najjar of the tribe of Khazraj, which was one of the two leading tribes of Madinah. He was the leader of his clan.

When Abu Ayyub al-Ansari returned to Madinah, he began to spread Islam. First, he started from his family, relatives and friends, and told them about the loftiness of the new religion. Soon, all of the members of his tribe became Muslims.

At that time, Makkah became a place of unbearable torture for Muslims. The pressures of the polytheists increased day by day, putting the Muslims in a situation where they could not continue their lives. Thereupon, the permission to migrate to Madinah was given. All of the Muslims started to migrate to Madinah in groups. The last people who had not migrated yet were the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his loyal Companion, Hz. Abu Bakr. When the people of Madinah heard that they also set off, the people of Madinah started to wait for them with great joy and excitement. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari went out of Madinah every day and wanted to meet these saintly guests.

Finally, the exciting and joyful waiting became something indescribable when these two saintly guests were seen in the horizon. The news spread all over Madinah. Young and all alike, the people of Madinah were in the streets. Sons of Najjar recited poems and played the tambourine to welcome them.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was traveling on his camel, Qaswa. All people of Madinah wanted to entertain this most honorable guest of Allah in their houses. Who would attain this honor?

The Prophet, who was sent as a mercy to the realms, did not want to break anyone's heart. He made an offer that would please everybody. He said, "Leave that animal alone; we will be guests of the people in front of whose door it will crouch."

Everybody was looking at Qaswa. This blessed animal, which traveled with slow steps, sat down in front of Abu Ayyub's house. The prayer of Abu Ayyub, who had gone out of Madinah for days, prayed and waited for this day with sincere wishes, was accepted. No one objected to this. Abu Ayyub immediately ran and put the loads on the camel down; then, he carried them to his house and placed them. 

The Messenger of Allah first settled on the ground floor of this house so that it would be easy for him to meet with his visitors. However, Abu Ayyub and his wife were not comfortable at all. They could not sleep when they thought that the most honorable guest of the universe lived downstairs. Abu Ayyub could not stand saying, "O Messenger of Allah! It is not appropriate for me to be above you and you to be below me." The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "It is better for us to live downstairs." However, when Abu Ayyub and his wife insisted, he agreed to move upstairs. [1]

From that day on, this blessed house, in which they stayed for seven months, became a house of happiness and a classroom that distributed luminous light.

This house of happiness also earned a distinct honor with a miracle of the Prophet: It was one of the first days of the Prophet's (pbuh) staying in the house of Abu Ayyub.  Abu Ayyub made dinner that would be enough for his two guests. When the meal was put in front of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), he said to Abu Ayyub said, "Invite 30 people from the notables of Ansar." Acting upon the order of the Prophet, Abu Ayyub invited 30 people from the notables of Ansar. They all came and ate from that meal. Then he said, "Invite 60 more people." They also came and ate. Later, he said, "Invite 70 more people." Abu Ayyub called them too. They also came and ate. Moreover, there was still food left in the saucepan. When they saw this miracle, all of them became Muslims and paid allegiance. [2]

As a reward for the hardships they experienced in Makkah and during the Migration, God Almighty fed 160 people with the food that was enough only for two people as a miracle, honoring them with Islam. Thus the fact "There is ease after every difficulty" [3] occurred again.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) established a relationship of brotherhood between the Ansar of Madinah and the Muhajirs of Makkah. Abu Ayyub became the brother of Musab bin Umayr, one of the notables of Muhajirs. [4]

Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was referred to as "the Host of the Prophet" after that. He became one of the distinguished people among the Companions. From then on, he was together with the Messenger of Allah during the times of peace and war. He took part in all battles, whether big or small, including the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.

His jihad for the sake of Islam did not take place when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was alive only. He took part in all of the battles after the death of the Messenger of Allah and encouraged mujahids.

Once, Abu Ayyub, who was adherent to the Messenger of Allah with infinite love, went to visit his holy grave after his death. He entered Rawda al-Mutahhara put his head on the grave of the Prophet and cried. Someone who saw him like that thought what he was doing was disrespect to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and shouted: "Do you know what you are doing?" Abu Ayyub, who understood that the voice belonged to Marwan, turned toward him and said "Yes." And he continued as follows:

"O Marwan! I did not come to the stones of this tomb. I heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'If this religion's affairs are in the hands of the competent and qualified people, do not cry. However, if this religion religion's affairs are handled by unqualified people, then cry.'" [5]

Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, was very advanced in terms of taqwa. Almost all of the companions learned lessons of religious sciences and wisdom from him. They applied to him to understand the Quran and hadiths correctly. He was shown great respect wherever he went as "the Host of the Prophet".

During the caliphate of Hz. Ali, he went to visit the Governor of Basra, Ibn Abbas. When Ibn Abbas saw him, he showed Abu Ayyub great respect and allocated his mansion to his family.

Hz. Abu Ayyub, who also visited Egypt during the caliphate of Muawiya, was welcomed there with great respect and interest. The governor of Egypt was Uqba bin Amir. The following incident took place between him and the governor:

The governor was late for the evening prayer one day. The congregation waited for him for a long time. Finally, he came to the mosque and led the prayer. Abu Ayyub was among the congregation. After the prayer, Abu Ayyub said to the governor,

"O Uqba! Did you not hear what the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said about the people who delayed the evening prayer? "My ummah are on good deeds or their nature unless they delay the evening prayer until the stars cover the sky."

Uqba said, "Yes, I did." Abu Ayyub asked, "Why did you delay the evening prayer so much then?" When Uqba said he delayed because he was busy, Abu Ayyub said, "I swear by Allah I fear that when people see you do like that, they may think the Messenger of Allah did like that." Thus, he warned and guided the governor. [6]

The real reason for his trip to Egypt was to confirm a hadith by asking the governor about it. Only Uqba was alive among those who heard that hadith personally from the Prophet. When Abu Ayyub told him about the situation and said that he wanted to hear the hadith from him, Uqba said,

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘If a person covers the mistake of a believer, God Almighty will cover his mistake on the Day of Judgment.” [7]

Thus, Abu Ayyub returned to Madinah with the comfort of confirming a hadith. For this Companion, it was a holy duty to cover long distances for a hadith as well as to go to the battlefront for jihad.  

Hz. Abu Ayyub lived long enough to reach the Era of the Four Caliphs. He even joined the army that Muawiya formed for the conquest of Istanbul. He had the glad tiding given by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) for the conquest of Istanbul somewhere in the depth of his heart. Despite his old age, he was full of the honor and excitement of attaining this glad tiding.

It was 52 H. Hz. Abu Ayyub joined this army in Egypt but he fell ill during the clashes. He was in bed when the army approached Istanbul. He watched the war from his bed and wanted to get well and fight as soon as possible. Yazid bin Muawiya, the commander of the army, visited him personally and wished him good health. Abu Ayyub, who was pleased with the visit of Yazid, felt that he was going to die. He said to Yazid,

"If I die here, do not bury my body immediately. Take my body to the farthest point where the army can go and bury me there."

It seems that the Host of the Prophet spiritually saw the place where he would be buried and wanted to approach the conquest of Istanbul, which was the dream of the Muslims, one more step. Indeed, after a while, Hz. Abu Ayyub passed away.

As he had willed, the soldiers carried his dead body to the farthest point the army reached on their hands. They buried him there by uttering takbir and saying prayers. [8]

Hz. Abu Ayyub wanted to watch this conquest, which he could not see when he was alive, from his grave after his death. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who is regarded as "the spiritual conqueror of Istanbul" has honored and enlightened this land for centuries.

After his burial, the commander of the army, Yazid, sent an envoy to the Byzantine emperor so that his grave would not be harmed. He told the emperor that the person lying there was the Host of the Prophet and warned him that the slightest harm done to him would cause all of the churches in the Islamic world to be destroyed. Partly due to this threat and partly because he was a great companion of the Prophet, the Christians did not harm his grave. However, in the course of time, the Byzantines could not appreciate the value of this blessed person and did not care when the grave was left on its own and when its place became unknown.

After that, 11 more expeditions were arranged on Istanbul. However, the city protected with strong castles could not be conquered; Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and his soldiers received the honor of conquering Istanbul.

After the conquest, Akşemseddin, who was the teacher of the Conqueror and a saint, discovered the place of the grave by meditation. Since then, Abu Ayyub has always been visited as a "spiritual sultan of Istanbul".

Hz. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari narrated many hadiths We quote some of them here in order to beatify his spirit:

One day Hz. Abdurrahman, the son of Khalid bin Walid, commanded the four slaves he captured during a battle to be killed. He wanted all of them to be killed by arrows. Abu Ayyub warned Abdurrahman when he heard this and reported a hadith. He said, "I heard that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prohibited killing by torture." [9]

Another narration of him is as follows:

"A man came to the Messenger of Allah and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Will you give me advice concisely?' Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said to him, 'When you perform a prayer, perform it as if you are leaving the world; do not say a word about which you will apologize tomorrow; give up hope of the things that others own. ’"[10]

We ask Allah to forgive this valuable and honorable guest of Istanbul, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, the Host of the Prophet, that is Khalid bin Zayd, and pray for Him so that that his spiritual help and blessing will be continuous for this beautiful city.

[1]Musnad, 5: 415.
[2]Mektûbât, p. 105; Shifa ash-Sharif, 1: 563.
[3]al-Inshirah, 5.
[4]Tabaqat, 1: 236-237; 3: 120.
[5]Musnad, 5: 422.
[6]Musnad, 4: 147.
[7]ibid, 4: 153.
[8]Usdul-Ghaba, 2: 82.
[9]Musnad, 5: 422.
[10]ibid, 5: 412.

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