Abu Hurayra (r.a.)

There was someone among the distinguished Companions who was clearly superior to others in terms of his effort, attention and determination along with his lifestyle. He followed the Messenger of Allah like a shadow and made efforts in order to determine all of his deeds and words. He regarded hunger, thirst, torture and suffering as good things with the gleam that his belief sent to his heart and the truth gave to his mind.  

This unique, altruistic person, who received the prayer of the Prophet, was Abdurrahman, who was called "Abu Hurayra", whom all Companions loved and who had a luminous face and good temper. [1]

Abu Hurayra had the honor to determine and report about half of the religious decrees of the religion of Islam, whose decree will continue until the Day of Judgment.

This superior companion, who was given the nickname "Abu Hurayra", which meant “the father of a kitten”, by the Messenger of Allah himself because he loved cats affectionately, was a member of the tribe of Daws; he had nice characteristics even before he became a Muslim. He was a compassionate and merciful, optimistic and benevolent person who tried to help people; he was loved by people.

These qualities of his gave him the enthusiasm to know the Prophet, who was the conveyor of the sun of Islam, and to be the moth of the truths emitted by him. The waves of love that rose in him dragged him to the shore where the Prophet was born. However, Abu Hurayra was a fatherless person who was poor and lonely. It was very difficult for him to go to Madinah. Abu Hurayra always waited for that day, that holy and distinguished day.

Finally that day came. The leader of his tribe became a Muslim. When he heard that Tufayl bin Amr became a Muslim, Abu Hurayra became very happy. He was waiting impatiently to see the Messenger of Allah and to pay allegiance to him. He was going to understand that the time was bright after knowing him.  One day, Tufayl gathered the people who were Muslims in his tribe and set out for Madinah with them. This happy group consisted of 70-80 people. As Abu Hurayra approached Madinah, he experienced a lofty excitement and shivered.

Finally, they reached Madinah. However, the Prophet had left in order to conquer Khaybar, which was in the north of Madinah on the way to Damascus and which was dominated by Jews. Khaybar was about eight days’ distance away from Madinah. Tufayl bin Amr headed to Khaybar with the people with him.

Abu Hurayra seemed to be starting to experience the true happiness and peace of belief with his departure from his homeland, which was a city of denial he would never return to, and with his approach to the sun of truth. With the excitement of approaching the climate of luminous light, he started to recite poems with his strong voice. [2]

When they reached Khaybar, the war had been over and Khaybar had been conquered. It was time to distribute the booty. The arrival of the tribe of Daws, who paid allegiance to the Messenger of Allah by uttering kalima ash-shahada, doubled the joy of the mujahids. The Messenger of Allah gave some share from the booty to the people of Daws though they did not took part in the war by receiving the approval of the mujahids.

After this happy and holy day, Abu Hurayra was always around the Messenger of Allah like a moth and followed him like a shadow; he always listened to the Messenger of Allah. Abu Hurayra always wished to be in the same place as the Prophet.

Hz. Abu Hurayra’s mother did not enter Islam. He wanted her to be a Muslim very much. He visited her from time to time and conveyed her the message of Islam. However, she did not accept to be a Muslim.

One day, she went to his mother again. He was very upset because his mother, who was his only relative, was in the darkness of unbelief. When he rejoined his mother with this anxiety and sorrow, he heard words that increased his sadness and sorrow from her again. His mother, who gave birth to him and who was tied to him with compassion, uttered bad words about the Prophet and insulted him. Abu Hurayra remained between two people that he loved: the Prophet, who was the sun of the truth that he loved and was loyal to, and his mother who gave birth to him and raised him with great efforts. His sorrow was eternal. When he left, he was full of the joy of choosing the Prophet and the sorrow of leaving his mother.  

It seemed as though everything was sad, sharing his sorrow. He entered into the presence of the Messenger of Allah, with his eyes full of tears. He said,

"O Messenger of Allah! I invite my mother to Islam, but she does not accept it. Moreover, she utters bad words against you. I cannot put up with it anymore. Please pray for the guidance of my mother."

The Messenger of Allah prayed for her. Abu Hurayra felt relieved with the prayer, which was the secret of worshipping. When he went home again, he found the door open. He heard sound of water coming from inside. There was no one but his mother at home. The prayer of the Messenger of Allah had been accepted; she shrugged off the dirt of unbelief and darkness; she became bright and clean with the luminous light of belief, and was uttering kalima ash-shahada: “Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.” Abu Hurayra could not stay there; he rushed and went to the Messenger of Allah and said happily,  

"O Messenger of Allah! Good news! God Almighty accepted your prayer."

Abu Hurayra’s eyes were full of tears of joy. He wanted the Messenger of Allah to pray again with this joy and happiness:

"O Messenger of Allah! Pray again so that Allah will make every believing man and woman love me and my mother."

The Messenger of Allah accepted the wish of this blessed man and raised his hands:

"O Allah! Make every believing man and woman love this slave and his mother."

Abu Hurayra says, "There was nobody who did not love me after that." [3]

Abu Hurayra was very fond of learning hadiths. No Companion could keep up with him related to hadiths. The Prophet sometimes appreciated him for this desire. Once, he asked the Messenger of Allah, "Who is the person who will receive the biggest share from your intercession on the Day of Resurrection?" The Prophet smiled and said,

"O Abu Hurayra! Since I know your desire about hadiths, I guessed that nobody would ask this question you before you. The person to receive the biggest share from my intercession on the Day of Resurrection is the one who says 'La ilahe illallah' from his heart. "[4]

Due to this desire, Abu Hurayra, who narrated 5 thousand 374 hadiths, earned the title of "the Companion who narrated the most hadiths". He explains the reason why he narrated so many hadiths as follows:

"People say, ‘Most of the hadiths are narrated by Abu Hurayra.' I swear by Allah that I would not narrate any hadiths if the following two verses were not in the Quran:’

“Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book―on them shall be Allah's curse and the curse― of those entitled to curse.

Except those who repent and make amends and openly declare (the truth) to them I turn; for I am Oft-Returning Most Merciful.”[5]

Then, Abu Hurayra said:

"When the muhajirs were busy with shopping and Ansar brothers were busy with their possessions, Abu Hurayra was always with the Messenger of Allah having very little food in his stomach and heard from him what they did not hear, and memorized them."

Abu Hurayra never felt proud about this holy duty; he believed that he was employed by Allah regarding this duty.

As a matter of fact, while his ability to memorize was not strong at the beginning, he started to memorize what he heard easily and did not forget after being together with the Messenger of Allah thanks to his prayer.

He narrates how he mentioned the Messenger of Allah his forgetfulness, which was his biggest trouble, as follows:

"O Messenger of Allah! I hear many hadiths from you, but I forget quickly without keeping them in my memory long. Thereupon, he said to me, 'Spread your cardigan out on the ground.' I did so. He picked something with his hand and put it in it. Then he said, 'Wrap it and pick it up.' After that, I did not forget anything I heard from the Prophet."

In fact, Abu Hurayra memorized more hadiths apart from those that he reported from the Prophet. However, he did not report everything he heard from the Messenger of Allah. He explains the reason for this as follows:

"I swear by Allah that if I had reported to you whatever I heard from the Messenger of Allah, you would have stoned me by saying, ‘Abu Hurayra went mad.’" [6]

The reason why Hz. Abu Hurayra narrated so many hadiths in a very short a time like three or four years was that he devoted his whole life to the Messenger of Allah. Although he remained hungry for days and lived in hardships, he did not leave the Messenger of Allah even for a moment. He lived in the excitement of being able to hear a new decree, command and truth of Islam. He describes the hunger he suffered in order to learn the religion as follows:

"I was thinking of going to the Masjid an-Nabawi. I had not eaten anything for days. When I arrived at the door of the mosque, I saw that a group of companions had come before me.

They asked me, 'O Abu Hurayra! Why have you come here?' I said that the reason for my arrival was 'hunger'. They also came there due to the same thing. We went together to the presence of the Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah asked, 'What made you come here at this hour?' We said, ‘We came here due to hunger.'

The Messenger of Allah brought a plate with dates. He gave each person two dates and said, "Eat these two dates and drink some water. It will suffice for you for the day."

Everybody ate two dates and drank some water. I ate one date and kept the other. When the Messenger of Allah noticed it, he asked, "O Abu Hurayra! Why did you not eat that date and kept it?" I said, 'I have kept it for my mother." Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said, "Eat it, I will give you two more dates.“ [7]

Abu Hurayra narrates another memory about hunger as follows: 

I swear by Allah, except whom there is no god, there were some times when I put my stomach on the ground due to the severity of hunger; I sometimes wrapped a stone around my stomach due to hunger.

"One day, when I was so hungry, I sat down in the path of the companions. Abu Bakr passed by and I asked him about a verse from the Book of Allah. I thought he would invite me to his house and give me food but he did not. Then, Hz. Umar passed by me and I asked him about a verse. My aim was to satisfy my hunger. However, he did not notice my hunger and left. Then, Abul-Qasim, the Messenger of Allah, (pbuh) came. He smiled when he saw me and realized that I was hungry. He said,  

“O Abu Hurayra!” I said,

“Yes. O Messenger of Allah!”  He said,

“Follow me.”

I followed him. The Messenger of Allah entered his house. I asked permission to enter the house. He allowed me and I entered the house. The Messenger of Allah found a glass of milk and asked his family, “Where did this milk come from?” They said,

“Somebody brought it as a gift.”

Then, he said,

“O Abu Hurayra!” I said,

“Yes. O Messenger of Allah!”  He said,

 “Go to Ashab as-Suffa and invite them. They are the guests of Muslims. They had no goods, no wealth and no family. When the Prophet was given a gift, he would call them and share it between himself and them. I did not like it when he invited Ashab as-Suffa.

I thought, “This milk is too little for Ashab as-Suffa. I need it more than they do. I wish I would drink some and have some strength. Now they will come. The Messenger of Allah will order me and I will treat the milk to them. There might not be any milk left for me.“ However, I had no other choice but follow the order of the Messenger of Allah. I went out and called them. They asked permission to enter. The Messenger of Allah let them in. They entered the house and sat down.

 “The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘O Abu Hurayra!’ I said,

“Yes. O Messenger of Allah!”  He said,

“Take the milk and offer to them.”

“I took the glass and started to give them the milk. Each of them drank and gave the glass back to me. Then, I reached the Prophet (pbuh). All of them had drunk the milk and quenched their thirst. The Prophet (pbuh) took the glass, held it in his hand and looked at me. He smiled and said, ‘O Abu Hurayra!’ I said,

“Yes. O Messenger of Allah!”  He said,

“‘Only you and me did not drink milk! I said

“Yes.” He said,

“Sit down and drink.” I sat down and drank. He said,

“Drink some more.” I did. He said again,

“Drink some more.” He continued to say ‘Drink!’ until I said: ‘I swear by Allah who sent you with the true religion that I am too full to drink anymore!

Finally, he said, ‘Give me the milk.’ I gave the glass to him. He praised Allah, said “Bismillah” and drank. [8]

Abu Hurayra continued being busy with hadiths after the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) too. He taught people Islam and encouraged them to learn ilm all the time. Once, he shouted as follows in the middle of the market in Madinah:  

“O people of the market! What prevents you from going there?” They said,

“O Abu Hurayra! Where?” he said,

"The inheritance of the Messenger of Allah is being distributed there and you are still here. Will you not go there and take your share of the inheritance?" The Companions wondered about it. They said,

"O Abu Hurayra! Where is the inheritance of the Messenger of Allah is being distributed it?"

Hz. Abu Hurayra answered “In the mosque.”

Thereupon, a large group of people of the marketplace rushed to the mosque. They looked inside. They could not see any signs of inheritance being distributed. Abu Hurayra knew that they would return; so, he was waiting for them in the market. They came back looking a bit angry.

Hz. Abu Hurayra asked them, “What happened? Did you not see it?  They replied, "O Abu Hurayra! We entered the mosque but we did not see anything being distributed."

Hz. Abu Hurayra asked, “Did you not see anybody in the mosque?” They said,

“Yes we did. Some of them were praying, some were reading the Quran and some were mentioning halal and haram.”

Hz. Abu Hurayra finished his words as follows:  

“Woe on you! That is the inheritance of the Messenger of Allah!”

When Abu Hurayra became very ill before his death, many people came to visit this great Companion. When they saw Abu Hurayra crying, they asked him why he was crying. He replied as follows:

"I am not crying because I am leaving the world. I am crying because the journey I will go on is long but my food is little. I do not know whether I will go to Paradise or Hell at the end of this journey. That is why, I am crying."

This fortunate Companion died in 58 H when he was 78 years old. His death distressed all Muslims deeply.

Finally, we will quote some of the hadiths narrated by Abu Hurayra:

"The most perfect believer in respect of faith is he who is best of them in manners." [9]

"The worst amongst the people is the double-faced one; he comes to some people with one face and to others with the other face." [10]

”Avoid jealousy because jealousy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood.”[11]

"Mercy is taken away only from cruel people." [12]

“Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; and do not look for the others' faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert one another, and do not hate one another; and O Allah's worshippers! Be brothers.” [13]

"A strong man is not dominant in the game but in his anger and dominates his soul." [14]

 “A wrestler is the one who controls himself when in a fit of rage.” [14]

[1]Usdul-Ghaba, 3: 15.
[2]Tabaqat, 1: 353.
[3]ibid, 4: 325-329.
[4]Bukhari, Riqaq: 51.
[5]al-Baqara, 159-160.
[6]Usdul-Ghaba, 5: 317; Tabaqat, 3: 329.
[7]Tabaqat, 3: 33.
[8]Musnad, 2: 515; Tirmidhi, Qiyamah: 36.
[9]Abu Dawud, Sunnah: 14; Tirmidhi, Iman: 6.
[10]Muslim, Birr: 98.
[11]Ibn Majah, Zuhd: 23.
[12]Abu Dawud, Adab: 58; Tirmidhi, Birr: 16.
[13]Bukhari, Adab: 51.
[14]Muslim, Birr: 107.

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