Reading Text: How did the companions see Gabriel?

Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

One day when we were with Allah’s messenger, a man with very white clothing and very black hair came to us. No mark of travel was visible on him, and none of us recognized him. Sitting down before the Prophet, leaning his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs, the stranger said, “Tell me, Muhammad, about submission (Islam).” 

The Prophet replied, “Submission means that you should bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger, that you should perform the ritual prayer, pay the alms tax, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the Ka’aba if you are able to go there.” 

The man said, “You have spoken the truth.” (We were amazed at this man’s questioning the Prophet and then declaring that he had spoken the truth). 

The stranger spoke a second time, saying, “Now tell me about faith (iman).” 

The Prophet replied, “Faith means that you have faith in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers and the Last Day, and that you have faith in the measuring out, both its good and its evil.” 

Remarking that the Prophet again had spoken the truth, the stranger then said, “Now tell me about virtue [ihsan > (that is, about doing what is beautiful).” 

The Prophet replied, “Virtue—doing what is beautiful—means that you should worship Allah as if you see Him, for even if you do not see Him, He sees you.” 

Yet again the man said, “Tell me about the Hour (that is, the coming of the Day of Judgment).” 

The Prophet replied, “About that he who is questioned knows no more than the questioner.” However, it has some signs. 

The stranger said, “Then, tell me about its signs.” 

The Prophet told him about some signs of the Day of Judgment. 

Then, the stranger went away. The Prophet called to his Companions, “Bring him back.” The companions ran to find the man but it was impossible to find him. Thereupon the Prophet said:

“He was Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion.” 


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