Hazrat Suhaib ar-Roomi r.a

 

Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA – What A Bargain?

Anas bin Malik RA narrated that Rasulullah SAW spoke about four forerunners. He said: “I am the forerunner of Arabs; Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA is the forerunner of Romans; Bilal is the forerunner of Habsha and Salman is the forerunner of Persia.” Thus, he predicted the spread of Islam in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Arab world.

It was a great honor bestowed by Rasulullah SAW on these three foreigners who accepted Islam in the early days during the time of turbulence.

When Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab was attacked and wounded, he declared, if I die, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA will lead prayers and he will be the leader until a new caliph is elected.
About twenty years before the start of Rasulullah SAW’s mission, in the middle of sixth century CE, an Arab named Sinan ibn Malik governed the city of al-Uballah on behalf of the Persian emperor. The city, which is now part of Basrah, lay on the banks of the Euphrates River. Sinan lived in a luxurious palace on the banks of the river. He had several children and was particularly fond of one of them who were then barely five years old. His name was Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA. He was blond and fair-complexioned. He was active and alert and gave much pleasure to his father. One day Suhaib’s mother took him and some members of her household to a village called ath-Thani for a picnic. What was to be a relaxing and enjoyable day turned out to be a terrifying experience that was to change the course of young Suhaib’s life forever. On that day the village of ath-Thani was attacked, by a raiding party of Byzantine soldiers. The guards accompanying the picnic party were overwhelmed and killed. All possessions were seized and a large number of persons were taken prisoner. Among these was Suhaib ibn Sinan. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was taken to one of the slave markets of the Byzantine Empire, the capital of which was Constantinople, there to be sold. Thereafter Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA passed from the hands of one slave master to another. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA fate was no different from thousands of other slaves who filled the houses, the palaces and castles of Byzantine rulers and aristocrats.

 

The opportunity to get knowledge and understanding of Roman Byzantine society. In the palaces of the aristocracy, he saw with his own eyes the injustices and the corruption of Byzantine life. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA detested that society and later would say to himself: “A society like this can only be purified by a deluge.” Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA of course grew up speaking Greek, the language of the Byzantine Empire. He practically forgot Arabic. But he never forgot that he was a son of the desert. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA longed for the day when he would be free again to join his people’s folk. At the first opportunity Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA escaped from bondage and headed straight for Makkah which was a place of refuge or asylum. There people called him Suhaib “ar-Rumi” or “the Byzantine” because of his peculiarly heavy speech and his blond hair. He became the halif of one of the aristocrats of Makkah, Abdullah ibn Judan. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA engaged in trade and prospered. In fact, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA became quite rich.
 

 

One day Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA returned to Makkah from one of his trading journeys. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was told that Rasulullah ﷺ the son of Abdullah had begun calling people to believe in God alone, commanding them to be just and to do good works and prohibiting them from shameful and reprehensible deeds. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA immediately enquired who Rasulullah ﷺ was and where he stayed. He was told. “(He stays) in the house or’ al-Arqam ibn Abi al-Arqam. Be careful however that no Quraish sees you. If they see you they would do (the most terrible things to you). You are a stranger here and there is no bond of asabiyyahi to protect you, neither have you any clan to help you.” Suhaib went cautiously to the house of al-Arqam. At the door he found Ammar ibn Yasir the young son of a Yemeni father who was known to him. He hesitated for a moment then went up to Ammar and said: “What do you want (here), Ammar?” “Rather, what do you want here’?” countered Ammar. “I want to go to this man and hear directly from him what he is saying.”

 

“I also want to do that.” “Then let us enter together, Ala barakatillah (with the blessings of God).” Suhaib and Ammar entered and listened to what Rasulullah ﷺ was saying. They were both readily convinced of the truth of his message. The light of faith entered their hearts. At this meeting, they pledged fealty to Rasulullah SAW. Declaring that there is no god but Allah and Rasulullah ﷺ is the Messenger of Allah. They spent the entire day in the company of the noble Rasulullah SAW. At night, under cover of darkness, they left the house of al-Arqam, their hearts aglow with the light of faith and their faces beaming with happiness. Then the familiar pattern of events followed. The idolatrous Quraish learned about Suhaib’s acceptance of Islam and began harassing and persecuting him. Suhaib bore his share of the persecution in the same way as Bilal, Ammar and his mother Sumayyah, Khabbab and many others who professed Islam. The punishment was inhuman and severe, but Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA bore it all with a patient and courageous heart because Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA knew that the path to Jannah is paved with thorns and difficulties. The teachings of the noble Rasulullah SAW had instilled in him and other companions a rare strength and courage.
 

 

When Rasulullah SAW gave permission for his followers to migrate to Madinah, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA resolved to go in the company of Rasulullah SAW and Abu Bakr. The Quraish however found out about his intentions and foiled his plans. They placed guards over him to prevent him from leaving and taking with him the wealth, the gold and the silver, which he had acquired through trade. After the departure of Rasulullah SAW and Abu Bakr, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA continued to bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to join them. He remained unsuccessful. The eyes of his guards were ever alert and watchful. The only way out was to resort to a stratagem. One cold night, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA pretended he had some stomach problems and went out repeatedly as if responding to calls of nature. His captors said one to another: “Don’t worry. Al-Laat and Al-Uzza are keeping him busy with his stomach.”

 

They became relaxed and sleep got the better of them. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA quietly slipped out as if he was going to the toilet. He armed himself, got ready a mount and headed in the direction of Madinah. When his captors awoke, they realized with a start that Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was gone. They got horses ready and set out in hot pursuit and eventually caught up with him. Seeing them approach, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA clambered up a hill. Holding his bow and arrow at the ready, he shouted: “Men of Quraish! You know, by Allah, that I am one of the best archers and my aim is unerring. By Allah, if you come near me, with each arrow I have, I shall kill one of you. Then I shall strike with my sword.” A Quraish spokesman responded: By Allah, we shall not let you escape from us with your life and money. You came to Makkah weak and poor and you have acquired what you have acquired..”
 

“What would you say if I leave you my wealth?” interrupted Suhaib. “Would you get out of my way?” “Yes,” they agreed. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA described the place in his house in Makkah where he had left the money, and they allowed him to go. He set off as quickly as he could for Madinah cherishing the prospect of being with the Prophet and of having the freedom to worship God in peace. On his way to Madinah, whenever he felt tired, the thought of meeting the Prophet sustained him and he proceeded with increased determination. When Suhaib reached Quba, just outside Madinah where the Prophet himself alighted after his Hijrah, Rasulullah SAW saw him approaching. He was over-joyed and greeted Suhaib with beaming smiles.

 

“Your transaction has been fruitful, O Abu Yahya. Your transaction has been fruitful.” He repeated this three times. Suhaib’s face beamed with happiness as he said: “By Allah, no one has come before me to you, Messenger of Allah, and only Jibril could have told you about this.” Yes indeed! Suhaib’s transaction was fruitful. Revelation from on high affirmed the truth of this:
 “And there is a type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of God. And God is full of kindness to His servants.” (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2:2O7).

 

What is money and what is gold and what is the entire world so long as faith remains! Rasulullah SAW loved Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA a great deal. He was commended by the Prophet and described as preceding the Byzantines to Islam. In addition to his piety and sobriety, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was also light-hearted at times and had a good sense of humor. One day Rasulullah SAW saw him eating dates. He noticed that Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA had an infection in one eye. Rasulullah SAW said to him laughingly: “Do you eat ripe dates while you have an infection in one eye?” “What’s wrong?” replied Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA, “I am eating it with the other eye.” Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was also known for his generosity. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA used to give his entire stipend from the public treasury fi sabilillah, to help the poor and those in distress. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was a good example of the Quranic verse: “He gives food for the love of God to the needy, the orphan and the captive.” So generous was he that Saidina Umar Al Khattab RA once remarked:

 

 “I have seen you giving out so much food that you appear to be too extravagant.” Suhaib replied: “I have heard the Messenger of God say: ‘The best of you is the one who gives out food.'” Suhaib’s piety and his standing among Muslims were so high that he was selected by Umar ibn al-Khattab to lead the Muslims in the period between his death and the choosing of his successor. As he lay dying after he was stabbed by a Magian, Abu Lulu, while leading the Fajr Salat, Umar summoned six of the companions: Uthman, Ali, Talhah, Zubair, Abdur Rahman ibn Awl, and Sad ibn Abi Waqqas. He did not appoint anyone of them as his successor, because if he had done so according to one report “there would have been for a short time two Khalifah looking at each other”. He instructed the six to consult among themselves and with the Muslims for three days and choose a successor, and then he said:

 

“Wa-l yusalli bi-n nas Suhaib – Let Suhaib lead the people in Salat.” In the period when there was no Khalifah, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA was given the responsibility and the honor of leading the Salat and of being, in other words, the head of the Muslim community. Suhaib’s appointment by Umar showed how well people from a wide variety of backgrounds were integrated and honored in the community of Islam. Once during the time of Rasulullah SAW, a hypocrite named Qays ibn Mutatiyah tried to pour scorn and disgrace on sections of the community. Qays had come upon a study circle (halqah) in which were Salman al-Farsi, Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA and Bilal al-Habashi, may God be pleased with them, and remarked:
 

“The Aws and the Khazraj have stood up in defense of this man (Muhammad). And what are these people doing with him’?” Muadh was furious and informed Rasulullah SAW of what Qays had said. Rasulullah SAW was very angry. He entered the mosque and the Call to Prayer was given, for this was the method of summoning the Muslims for an important announcement. Then he stood up, praised and glorified Allah and said: “Your Lord is One. Your ancestor is one. Your religion is one. Take heed. Arabism is not conferred on you through your mother or father. It is through the tongue (i.e. the language of Arabic), so whoever speaks Arabic, he is an Arab.”
Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA stands as a symbol of equality in Islam.
Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA lived in Madinah for more than 30 years. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA narrated a few Hadiths from Holy Rasulullah SAW. Suhaib Ar-Rumi RA passed away at the age of over 70 in 658AD and was buried in Jannatul Baqi. May God elevate his rank. Amin.

 

Selected Hadiths Attributed and Narrated by Suhaib Al Rumi RA (Suhaib Ibn Sinan Ibn Malik)

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 49, Gifts, The superiority of giving and extortion of
Hadith no: 805 
Narrated: Abdullah bin Ubaidullah bin Abi Mulaika
The sons of Suhaib, (Suhaib, who was the freed slave of Bani Judan) claimed that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) had given two houses and one room to Suhaib. Marwan asked, “Who will testify to your claim?” They replied that Ibn Umar would do so. Marwan sent for Ibn Umar who testified that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) had really given Suhaib two houses and a room. So, Marwan gave the verdict (in favor of Suhaib’s sons), because of (Ibn Umar’s) witness.
Relevance: 23.2593

 

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 34, Sales and Trade
Hadith no: 422
Narrated: Sad
That his father said: Abdur-Rahman bin Auf said to Suhaib, ‘Fear Allah and do not ascribe yourself to somebody other than your father.’ Suhaib replied, “I would not like to say it even if I was given large amounts of money, but I say I was kidnapped in my childhood.”
Relevance: 19.7796

 

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 23, Funerals (Al-Janaaiz)
Hadith no: 375 
Narrated: Abdullah bin Ubaidullah bin Abi Mulaika
One of the daughters of Saidina Uthman Ibn Affan RA died at Makkah. We went to attend her funeral procession. Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn Abbas were Also present. I sat in between them (or said, I sat beside one of them. Then a man came and sat beside me.) ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said to ‘Amr bin ‘Uthman, “Will you not prohibit crying as Allah’s Apostle has said, ‘The dead person is tortured by the crying of his relatives.” Ibn Abbas said, “Saidina Umar Al Khattab RA used to say so.” Then he added narrating, “I accompanied Saidina Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA on a journey from Makkah till we reached Al-Baida. There he saw some travelers in the shade of a Samura (A kind of forest tree). He said (to me), “Go and see who those travelers are.” So I went and saw that one of them was Suhaib Al Rumi RA. I told this to Saidina Umar Al Khattab RA who then asked me to call him. So I went back to Suhaib Al Rumi RA and said to him, “Depart and follow the chief of the faithful believers.” Later, when ‘Umar was stabbed, Suhaib came in weeping and saying, “O my brother, O my friend!” (on this ‘Umar said to him, “O Suhaib! Are you weeping for me while the Prophet said, “The dead person is punished by some of the weeping of his relatives?” Ibn Abbas added, “When ‘Umar died I told All this to Aisha and she said, ‘May Allah be merciful to Umar. By Allah, Allah’s Apostle did not say that a believer is punished by the weeping of his relatives. But he said, Allah increases the punishment of a non-believer because of the weeping of his relatives.” Aisha further added, “The Quran is sufficient for you (to clear up this point) as Allah has stated: ‘No burdened soul will bear another’s burden.’ ” (35.18). Ibn Abbas then said, “Only Allah makes one laugh or cry.” Ibn Umar did not say anything after that.
Relevance: 15.6694
Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 34, Sales and Trade
Hadith no: 422
Narrated: Sad
That his father said: Abdur-Rahman bin Auf said to Suhaib, ‘Fear Allah and do not ascribe yourself to somebody other than your father.’ Suhaib replied, “I would not like to say it even if I was given large amounts of money, but I say I was kidnapped in my childhood.”
Relevance: 19.7796

 

Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 23, Funerals (Al-Janaaiz)
Hadith no: 375 
Narrated: Abdullah bin Ubaidullah bin Abi Mulaika
One of the daughters of ‘Uthman died at Mecca. We went to attend her funeral procession. Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn Abbas were Also present. I sat in between them (or said, I sat beside one of them. Then a man came and sat beside me.) ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said to ‘Amr bin ‘Uthman, “Will you not prohibit crying as Allah’s Apostle has said, ‘The dead person is tortured by the crying of his relatives.” Ibn Abbas said, “Umar used to say so.” Then he added narrating, “I accompanied Umar on a journey from Mecca till we reached Al-Baida. There he saw some travelers in the shade of a Samura (A kind of forest tree). He said (to me), “Go and see who those travelers are.” So I went and saw that one of them was Suhaib. I told this to ‘Umar who then asked me to cAll him. So I went back to Suhaib and said to him, “Depart and follow the chief of the faithful believers.” Later, when ‘Umar was stabbed, Suhaib came in weeping and saying, “O my brother, O my friend!” (on this ‘Umar said to him, “O Suhaib! Are you weeping for me while the Prophet said, “The dead person is punished by some of the weeping of his relatives?” Ibn Abbas added, “When ‘Umar died I told All this to Aisha and she said, ‘May Allah be merciful to Umar. By Allah, Allah’s Apostle did not say that a believer is punished by the weeping of his relatives. But he said, Allah increases the punishment of a non-believer because of the weeping of his relatives.” Aisha further added, “The Quran is sufficient for you (to clear up this point) as Allah has stated: ‘No burdened soul will bear another’s burden.’ ” (35.18). Ibn Abbas then said, “Only Allah makes one laugh or cry.” Ibn Umar did not say anything after that.

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