Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (r.a.)

Abu Musa, whose real name is “Abdullah bin Qays” is from Yemen. When he was in Yemen, he heard that the last prophet emerged and that he migrated from Makkah to Madinah; he became a Muslim without hesitation. He did his best to spread Islam in Yemen. In the course of time, the number of Muslims in Yemen increased. The tribes organized caravans of migration to Makkah. 

Abu Musa made preparations in order to migrate to Madinah with a group of Ash’aris from his tribe. He narrates this incident as follows:

“When we, Ash’aris, were in Yemen, we heard that the Messenger of Allah was sent as a prophet and that he migrated to Madinah. We (me and my brothers Abu Burda and Abu Ruhm) set off from Yemen as 53 people to go to the Messenger of Allah as migrants. We got on a ship. However, due to adverse weather conditions, our ship took us to the land of the king of Abyssinia.” [1]

In Abyssinia, Ash’aris met Hz. Jafar and other Muslims who had to migrate to Abyssinia due to the unbearable, severe tortures of the polytheists in Makkah. After remaining in Abyssinia for a while, they migrated to Madinah.

Meanwhile, the Muslims got stronger and gained several victories in the battles they fought against the polytheists and Jews. When the migrants who came from Abyssinia arrived in Madinah, they found out that the Muslims had gone to the Castle of Khaybar, which was owned by Jews, in order to conquer it. They wanted to make jihad very much. Therefore, they did not want to lose time; they set off for Khaybar without remaining in Madinah. However, when they arrived there, they saw that Khaybar had been conquered.

The Prophet became very glad that they had returned. He welcomed the migrants from Abyssinia and gave them shares from the booty as if they had taken part in the war. [2]

The victorious army was returning from Khaybar. The Prophet was on his mount, Abu Musa riding pillion. Once, the Prophet addressed him as follows:

“O Abdullah! Shall I tell you a word from the treasures of Paradise?”

Abu Musa, “My mother and father be sacrificed for you! Tell me, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet said, “Say, ‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah’.” [3]

Ash’aris settled in Madinah. Once, the Messenger of Allah gave them the following glad tiding:

“O passengers of the ship! You definitely have two thawabs of migration.” [4]

No word pleased Ash’aris more than this blessed statement of the Prophet. That was not the only reason for their happiness. When the Prophet said, “Ash’aris are from me and I am from them” [5], their happiness increased.

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari also took part in the Battle of Tabuk, the Conquest of Makkah and the Battle of Hunayn. It was observed that some of the people of Hawazin who were defeated by mujahids gathered in the Valley of Awtas. The Prophet gave a standard to Abu Amir al-Ash’ari and sent him with some mujahids against the enemy that gathered there. The enemy that deployed in Awtas started to defend themselves.   

Hz. Abu Amir, the commander, beat down many people from Hawazin in one-on-one fights. When fight with spears started, Abu Amir was wounded. He gave the standard to Abu Musa and appointed him as the commander.

When Abu Musa became the commander, he fought hard and managed to scatter the enemy forces. He also killed the polytheist that wounded Abu Amir. When the polytheists ran away, he went to see Abu Amir. The arrow that hit him was still on him. Abu Musa removed it upon the request of Abu Amir. Blood started to gush from the place he removed the arrow. Abu Amir realized that he would be martyred. He said,

“Give my regards to the Messenger of Allah and tell him that I want his prayer.”

After a while, he passed away due to the effect of the wound.

Hz. Abu Musa went to the Prophet to inform him about what had happened. The Messenger of Allah was lying on a coach made of ropes. There were marks of the ropes on his back and sides. When Abu Musa told him that his cousin Abu Amir had died, he got up and made wudu. He raised his hands and prayed as follows: “O Lord! Forgive Abu Amir.” When Abu Musa asked the Prophet to pray for him too, the Prophet prayed as follows:

“O Allah! Forgive the sins of Abdullah bin Qays. Enable him to attain an acceptable rank on the Day of Judgment.” [6]

Abu Musa served the Prophet throughout his life. He followed that blessed light like a shadow. Abu Musa had a separate place in the eye of the Prophet. He was famous for his nickname “the friend of the Prophet”. The Prophet sometimes gave him glad tidings due to his sacrifices, determination, will and keenness on ilm and worshipping in order to encourage him. One of those glad tidings is as follows:

One evening, Abu Musa went to the mosque to perform the night prayer with the Prophet. However, the Prophet came later than usual. Abu Musa waited until the Prophet came. After leading the night prayer for the people who waited, the Prophet gave them the following glad tiding:

“Do not hurry to leave. I have glad tidings for you. It is a boon of Allah to you that there is nobody except you who performs a prayer at this time.” [7]

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari saw the Prophet after the Conquest of Khaybar but he never left him after that except for his essential needs. He wanted to learn something from the Prophet any time he listened to him. 

Abu Musa, who was a nightingale of the Quran, used all opportunities to learn the Quran. He tried to read the word of Allah in the best way. He was one of the Companions who decorated the Quran with their voice. Once, the Prophet (pbuh) complemented on him as follows when he read the Quran:

“You were give one of the tunes of Hz. Dawud.” [8]

As it is known, Hz. Dawud recited the Psalms very beautifully.  

Many tribes became honored with Islam in the 9th year of the Migration. Many regions came under the rule of Islam. It was necessary to teach Islam to the people of those regions. To this end, the Prophet sent governors to all of the cities where Islam became dominant in the month of Muharram of the 9th year of the Migration. One of the Companions he appointed like that was Abu Musa. The Prophet sent him as a governor to the regions of Zabid, Aden and Sahil. Abu Musa’s duty was to teach people about their religious duties, to carry out the administrative affairs and to try the settle the issues that occurred between people based on Islamic decrees. When the Prophet saw Muadh bin Jabal and Abu Musa, he gave them the following advice:

“Make things easy, not difficult. Give good news; do not make people hate.”[9]

Hz. Abu Musa went to Makkah in the 10th year of the Migration and talked to the Messenger of Allah during Farewell Hajj.

Hz. Abu Musa, who lived in Madinah during the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr, joined the army of mujahids prepared for the conquest of Iraq under the command of Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas. He became very successful there. Hz. Sa’d gave him the duty of conquering Nusaybin and Harran. Hz. Abu Musa conquered Nusaybin and Har­ran. It was Abu Musa who enabled the land of Iran including the cities Isfahan and Khuzistan to be conquered.  

When the conquest of Iraq was completed, Hz. Umar appointed him as the governor of Basra. He wrote the following letter to the people of Basra:

“I am sending Abu Musa to you as the governor so that he will take the right of the weak from the strong, struggle against your enemies with you and ensure law and order in your land.”

When Hz. Abu Musa went to Basra, he expresses his most important duty by saying, “Umar bin Khattab, the leader of the believers, sent me here to teach you the book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet.” [10]

When Abu Musa remained in Basra, he spent all of his time teaching the Quran. Once, Hz. Umar asked Anas bin Malik, who had come from Basra, what Abu Musa was doing. Anas told him that he was busy with teaching people the Quran. [11]

Hz. Umar wrote the following letter to his governors: “Send me list of those who could read the Quran in your town to me. I will send them to other places to teach the Quran.” Abu Musa turned out to be the governor that taught the most people the Quran. The number of the Muslims he taught the Quran was more than 300.

On the one hand, Abu Musa taught the people of Basra the Quran and the Sunnah; on the other hand, he preached them. His preaching affected the people very much. Those who listened to him could not help shedding tears. 

Hz. Abu Musa also worked to improve the city of Basra. Upon the order of Hz. Umar, he had a canal made to bring drinking water to the people of Basra. This canal was named “Abu Musa Canal”. Before the canal was made, the people used to carry water from a distance of six miles. Everybody benefitted from that canal. Every house started to use this water. [12]

After working as the governor of Basra for a while, he was appointed as the governor Kufa upon the request of the people of Kufa.  

Abu Musa followed the Sunnah closely. The best guide and model for him was the life of the Prophet. He imitated the Messenger of Allah in all of his words and deeds. He regarded the Prophet as his model even in trivial issues. “I follow the trace of the Messenger of Allah and try to do whatever he did.” [13] The statement above expresses his adherence to the Sunnah. The incident below is a very good example:

Once, his son sneezed. He did not say “Yarhamukallah.” Somebody else sneezed. He said “Yarhamukallah” to him. When he was asked about the reason, he said,

“The Prophet said, ‘If somebody sneezes and says ‘Alhamdulillah”, say ‘Yarhamukallah’, If he does not say ‘Alhamdulillah”, do not say ‘Yarhamukallah’.” [14]

Once Hz. Abu Musa went to visit Hz. Umar, the Caliph. He asked permission to enter into his presence. When he did not receive an answer, he returned. When Hz. Umar saw that he returned, he asked the reason. Abu Musa gave the following answer:

“I asked permission from you three times but you did not give permission. Thereupon, I returned. For, I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘When you want to enter somewhere ask for permission three times. If you are not given permission, you should return.’”[15]

Hz. Abu Musa was a very chaste and pure person; he tried to keep away from all kinds of sins. Piety and virtue were observed in all of his deeds. The feeling that settled in his heart was “fear of Allah”. He was very merciful. He thought of the hereafter a lot and remembered death a lot. For, there was no preacher more effective than death. 

Once, Abu Musa said to Anas bin Malik, “O Anas! How behind are the people of today related to the hereafter! They do not think of the hereafter at all.” Hz. Anas said, “Their sensual desires and Satan led them to this heedlessness and sleep.” Abu Musa said,

“No. The world was shown to them in advance and the hereafter was veiled. If they saw the hereafter as they saw the world, they would not turn their faces away from the hereafter and they would not love the world so much.” [16]

Abu Musa was among the scholars of the Companions. The Prophet allowed him to issue fatwas. He was one of the four Companions that issued fatwas during the caliphate of Hz. Umar. Hz. Ali praised Abu Musa as follows: “This person is ilm from head to foot.” However, he was very humble. His purpose in learning ilm was “Allah’s consent”; therefore, he would say, “I do not know” regarding something that he did not know. If he heard a more appropriate fatwa than his, he would accept the truth by saying, “This is right.”

One of the most valuable characteristics of Abu Musa was his reliance on Allah. No danger would intimidate him; no trouble or difficulty made him worried. He would show consent to whatever happened to him and would think about the nice outcomes behind the veil of qadar.  

Hz. Abu Musa was among the Companions that were advanced in the science of hadith. He narrated 360 hadiths from the Prophet. Those hadiths are included in Bukhari, Muslim, Musnad and other hadith books. Two of them are as follows:

“Verily, the parable of a good friend and a bad friend is that of a seller of musk and a blacksmith. The seller of musk will give you some perfume, you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell. As for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes or you will notice a bad smell.”[17]

Another hadith is as follows:

“The Prophet interlaced his fingers and said, ‘Verily, the believers are like a building, each part strengthening the other. They hold one another firmly.’” [18]

When Abu Musa was about to die, he asked some young people to dig a grave for him. After they dug the grave and returned, he uttered the following exemplary words:  

“I swear by Allah that it will soon come to one of two conclusions. Either my grave will expand to form angles stretching up to 40 yards wide, and then a doorway to Paradise will open to reveal my house, family, stations, blessings and honors Allah has reserved for me. And I will then know my way to my dwellings therein better than I know the road to my house in this world; and I will smell the fragrance of Paradise and perceive the happiness of that station up to the Day of Resurrection. 2) Or if I am a bad person – God forbid – , my grave will stiffen down to be smaller than the bushing of a spearhead, and then a doorway to hell-fire will open to reveal my chains, and shackles and like prisons reserved of men who dwell in Hell, and I will immediately know the way to my seat of punishment therein better that I know the road to my house today; moreover I will smell the cursed stench of its poisons and experience the magnitude of its flames up to the Day of Resurrection.” [19]

Hz. Abu Musa died in Makkah when he was 63 years old.

May Allah be pleased with him!

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[1]Bukhari, Maghazi: 40.
[2]Tabaqat, 2: 108.
[3]Bukhari, Daawat: 15.
[4]ibid., Maghazi: 40.
[5]Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba: 167.
[6]ibid., 165.
[7]Bukhari, Salah: 134.
[8]Muslim, Misafirin: 235; Fathur-Rabbani, 22: 400.
[9]Musnad, 4: 417.
[10]Hayatus-Sahaba, 2: 165.
[11]Tabaqat, 2: 345.
[12]Ömer Rıza Doğrul, Asr-ı Saadet, 4: 373.
[13]Musnad, 4: 419.
[14]ibid., 4: 418.
[15]ibid., 4: 418.
[16]Hayatus-Sahaba, 3: 431-432.
[17]Bukhari, Salah: 88; Muslim, Birr: 65.
[18]Bukhari, Dhabaih: 31.
[19]Hayatus-Sahaba, 3: 429.

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