Sa’d bin Rabi (r.a.)

One year before the Migration, a group of twelve people came to Makkah. Six of them had become Muslims last year and promised the Prophet (pbuh) to meet again the next year. They did not tell anybody about this meeting. They met the Prophet in a small and narrow valley called “Aqaba”. They paid allegiance to the Prophet and promised “not to associate any partners with Allah, not to steal, not to commit fornication, not to kill their children, not to slander anyone and to obey all of the orders of the Prophet”. The Prophet gave them the glad tiding that “Allah guaranteed the reward for those who kept their promise and promised them Paradise.” Thereupon, the other six people also accepted Islam. [1]

This treaty was recorded as “the First Pledge of Aqaba” in the history of Islam. One of those 12 people was Sa’d bin Rabi, who was one of the notables and rich people of Madinah. Hz. Sa’d was among the nine people that represented the tribe of Khazraj in the Second Pledge of Aqaba. The Prophet gave the glad tiding of eternal bliss to the people who were present in this secret allegiance at night.

Hz. Sa’d bin Rabi was one of the few literate people in the Era of Jahiliyya. He was an influential people because he was the chief of his tribe.

When the Prophet established brotherhood between Muhajirs and Ansar, he declared Abdurrahman bin Awf, who was one of the richest people in Makkah and who was one of the people who were given the glad tiding of Paradise, and Sa’d bin Rabi brothers. Hz. Sa’d took his brother to his house. They ate a meal. After the meal, Sa’d did something that one’s real brother would not do. He said, “I am the richest person in Madinah. Here is my property; take half of it. I have two wives; I will divorce the one that you like so that you can marry her when her iddah is over.”

Abdurrahman had left his house, wealth and property in Makkah. He was in need. However, he was a contented person. 

He felt great pleasure due to the sincere and loving statement of Sa’d. He expressed his gladness and gratitude. Then he said, "My brother Sa’d! May Allah make your property and family blessed for you! I do not need them. Just show me the way to the market." [2]

Sa’d showed Abdurrahman the way to the market of Qaynuqa. Abdurrahman went to the market, bought and sold some goods and returned home after earning a lot of money. As a matter of fact, he said, "Thanks Allah. Even a sand grain that I hold turns to gold.”

Hz. Sa’d was praised by the Quran due to his self-sacrifice. Hz. Abdurrahman became rich thanks to the blessing of his contentedness. This incident is the clearest example of the trait of “isar (altruism)”, that is, preferring one’s brother to himself related to everything.  

Sa’d took part in the Battle of Badr. His courage was visible in the battle of Uhud. He swung his sword in the first ranks all the time. He always encouraged the people around him. When the Muslims were defeated, Sa’d did not stop fighting. Those who lost hope remembered their promise in the Pledge of Aqaba that they obey all of the orders of the Prophet. However, a group of polytheists attacked him and wounded him severely. His body was in an unrecognizable state. 12 of his teeth had been broken; there were 70 wounds of sword, spear and arrow on his body.

After the battle ended and the polytheists left, the Muslims started to pick their martyrs and wounded people. Sa’d had a different place in the eye of the Prophet. The Prophet was wondering about him. Then, he said to his Companions, “Who will find out what Sa’d bin Rabi did and whether he is alive or he is martyred.” Then, he pointed to a place and said, “Once, I saw him in that place.”

Ubayy bin Ka’b narrates:

“I went to the place where the Prophet pointed to. I walked around the martyrs for a while looking for Sa’d and calling out his name. However, I could not get an answer. Then, I shouted, ‘O Sa’d! The Messenger of Allah sent me to you.’ Then, a weak voice answered. I turned to that direction. Sa’d was lying on the ground. I caught him in his last breath.

I said, ‘O Sa’d! The Messenger of Allah ordered me to find out whether you were among the survivors or martyrs and inform him.’

Hz. Sa’d’s voice was very weak like murmuring. ‘I am among the dead from now on.’ He tried to say that he would not survive. He spoke with a voice that could hardly be understood. ‘Give the Messenger of Allah my salam (greeting). Tell him that that Sa`d bin Rabi tells you, 'May Allah reward you with the best thing that He rewards a prophet for his people!' And give Ansar, my tribe, my salam and say to them, ‘Did you not promise in Aqaba that you would protect the Messenger of Allah? By Allah, you have no excuse before Allah if your Prophet is hurt or harmed while your eyes still blink.”[3]

According to the narration of Zayd bin Thabit, Sa’d also said,

“Peace ne upon the Messenger of Allah and peace be upon you! Tell the Messenger of Allah that I have started to smell the scent of Paradise.”

“After those words, Sa’d became a martyr. I went to the Messenger of Allah and told him about Sa’d’s state. The Messenger of Allah turned toward the qiblah, opened his hands and prayed as follows: ‘O Al­lah! Welcome Sa’d bin Rabi and be pleased with him. O Allah! Show mercy on him! He gave advice for Allah and His Messenger when he was alive and he was about to die.’” [4]

The Prophet had the martyrs of Uhud buried in twos or threes. Sa’d bin Rabi was buried in the same grave as Harija bin Zayd.

When Sa’d was martyred, his daughter Umm Sa’d became an orphan. She was a small child. Hz. Abu Bakr became her guardian and tried to treat her as if he was her father. Once, Hz. Umar visited Hz. Abu Bakr and saw a little girl with him. Hz. Abu Bakr’s garment was on her and she was sitting next to him. Hz. Umar asked, “Who is she?” He said, “She is the daughter of a person who is better than both you and me.” Hz. Umar asked curiously, “Who is better than you?” Hz. Abu Bakr said, “He died based on the allegiance that the Messenger of Allah gave glad tidings of Paradise. However, you and I are still alive.” [5] Hz. Abu Bakr showed modesty with this statement but he also gave us the lesson that a believer had to be between fear and hope. Although he himself had been given the glad tiding of Paradise, he envied Hz. Sa’d.

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[1]Sirah, 2: 75.
[2]Bukhari, Buyu: 1.
[3]Sirah, 3: 100-101; Usdul-Ghaba, 2: 277.
[4]Istiab, 2: 35.
[5]Isaba, 2: 27.

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