Habbab bin Arat (r.a.)

The number of the Muslims was very few. Islam was being spread secretly. The five fortunate Companions who were with the Prophet (pbuh) at that time were like the representatives of all of the classes of the community. They were Hz. Khadijah (from women), Hz. Ali (from children), Hz. Abu Bakr (from free men), Hz. Zayd bin Haritha (from freed slaves) and Bilal Habashi (from slaves). Those five heroic Companions often gathered and benefited from the lofty teaching of the Prophet (pbuh). They sought ways of conveying the message of Islam to people.  

Habbab bin Arat was a slave of a woman called “Umm Ammar”. He heard about Islam and became interested in it. It was something unbelievable. A free man and a slave, a child (Hz. Ali) and Hz. Abu Bakr came together and sat in the same place. How could that happen in a community where the slaves could only be servants in the meetings of the rich?

Finally, Habbab decided to be a Muslim. He had known the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) for a long time and showed respect to him. He went to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and uttered kalima ash-shahada as “the sixth Muslim”.

During those days, becoming a Muslim meant risking all kinds of troubles and agonies. Besides, it was worse for a person like Habbab, who bravely declared what he believed. He was an ironsmith that was loved and respected by everyone but the polytheists could not accept it when he became a Muslim. They inflicted all kinds of oppression and torture on him.

Umm Ammar, his master, became so furious. He had Habbab’s arms and feet tied and branded his head with hot iron. Habbab, who was a skilled sword maker, was tortured by hot iron. However, the fire of belief that covered him was superior to the material fire and he put up with the tortures inflicted upon him with that belief.  

Once, he complained to the Messenger of Allah of Umm Anmar due to her tortures and the pain on his head. The Prophet opened his hands and prayed: “Oh Lord! Help Habbab!”

Immediately after his prayer, Umm Ammar became afflicted with a severe headache. She could not put up with the intense pain. Some people advised her to have her head branded with fire. She had to resort to it. Habbab, her slave, branded her head. Thus, Habbab branded the head of the woman who had branded his head due to his belief. Divine decree enabled Habba to take his revenge in the world. [1]

Hz. Habbab’s agonies and troubles had not ended yet. The merciless polytheists lit a big fire and put Habbab on the fire face down. Therefore, there were burns on the skin of Habbab. [2]

Hz. Habbab had nothing to do but to take refuge in the Messenger of Allah. One day, he entered into the presence of the Messenger of Allah and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Will you not pray for me so that I can be saved from this torture?”

The Holy Prophet gave the following answer, which is full of lessons and glad tidings:

“There were certain individuals among the communities that came before you whose entire skin and flesh was peeled and shaved off with an iron comb and even this kind of torture did not turn them away from their religion. Allah will definitely complete this cause and will make it superior to all other religions in such a way that an individual who rides his animal alone from San’a to Hadramut will fear no one but Allah and his only worry will be of wolves attacking his sheep. However, you are all in a hurry.” [3]

As bin Wail, one of the most savage individuals among the polytheists, had an important debt that he owed Habbab. Once, Habbab went to him to ask for his payment. This polytheist replied, “I am not going to pay my debt until you deny Muhammad.” Habbab answered, “I will abandon everything yet I will never deny him; neither in this world nor after I die”, answered Hazrat Habbab. Upon this As bin Wail got angry and said, “Will I be resurrected after I die? In that case, be patient. I will pay the debt I owe you on the day I am resurrected and once I am reunited with my property and children.” Thus, he mocked Habbab arrogantly. Thereupon verses 77-80 of the chapter of Maryam were sent down:

“Hast thou then seen the (sort of) man who rejects Our Signs, yet says: "I shall certainly be given wealth and children?" Has he penetrated to the Unseen, or has he taken a contract with (Allah) Most Gracious? Nay! We shall record what he says, and We shall add and add to his punishment. To Us shall return all that he talks of and he shall appear before Us bare and alone.”[4]

After the migration of Habbab bin Arat to Madinah, the Messenger of Allah established brotherhood between him and Harrash bin Samma. Habbab took part in all battles until he died.

Hz. Umar showed a special interest in and respect to Hz. Habbab and praised him in the presence of the people. One of the reasons for his respect to Habbab is probably as follows: When Hz. Umar entered the house of his sister and brother-in-law before he became a Muslim, Habbab was reading and teaching the verses of the Quran that had just been dents down there. Hz. Umar decided to become a Muslim after he read the Quran read by Habbab there.

Habbab became ill in Kufa in 37 H. Despite efforts, he could not get over his illness. He remembered Hz. Hamza at his deathbed and felt sorry that he was not martyred like him. [5]

Habbab bin Arat, who narrated 33 hadiths from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), died at the age of 72. Hz. Ali led his janazah prayer and made the following speech next to his grave:

“May Allah show mercy on Habbab! He was a sincere Muslim. He migrated by obeying the Messenger of Allah. He lived as a mujahid. He was tested through his body. Allah will repay those who do righteous deeds.” [6]

May Allah be pleased with all of them!


[1]Usdul-Ghaba, 2: 98.
[2]Tabaqat, 3: 165.
[3]Usdul-Ghaba, 2: 98.
[4]Bukhari, Tafsir: 7.
[5]Tabaqat, 3: 166.
[6]Usdul-Ghaba, 2: 100.

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