al-Sawād al-A’dham Pt. 2

Numerous other Muslims of African descent from the succeeding generations followed in the footsteps of the Companions, partaking from the prophetic light which they possessed and becoming leaders in their own right due to their scholastic achievements and piety. 

(1) Aṣḥamah [i.e. Al-Najāshī] was the king of Abyssinia when some of the Muslims made the first migration, fleeing from the persecution in Makkah. Our mother, Umm Salmah, may Allāh be pleased with her, described their stay in this just king’s land in the following way: “When we alighted in the land of Abyssinia we lived there near the best neighbor: al-Najāshī. We were made safe with respect to our dīn. We worshipped Allāh without being harmed, and we did not hear anything that we disliked.”

When Jacfar ibn Abi Tālib, May Allāh be pleased with him, recited the beginning of ṣūrah Maryam before Aṣḥamah, the latter began to cry so much that his beard became wet and he proclaimed, “By Allāh, this and that which Mūsa brought come from the same lamp.”

Aṣḥamah accepted Islām but did not get the opportunity to meet the Prophet ﷺ. He tried to send a delegation to the Prophet ﷺ consisting of sixty people, amongst whom was his son, but they drowned en route.

Our mother, Umm Habībah, may Allāh be pleased with her, was married to the Prophet ﷺ with the help of Aṣḥamah who was the wakīl of the Prophet ﷺ, and who also gave her four hundred dinār as dowery on the Prophet’s ﷺ behalf.

Tabrānī’s Mucjam al-Kabīr reports that the Prophet ﷺ mentioned al-Najāshī, Luqmān and Bilāl as being amongst the leaders of the people of Jannah.

Aṣḥamah died in Rajab of the ninth year after the Prophetic migration. The Prophet ﷺ performed the janāẓah prayer for Aṣḥamah though his body was not present, and it is not established that he ﷺ did this for anyone besides him.

Jābir, may Allāh be pleased with him, reports that when Najāshī died the Prophet ﷺ said, “Today, a righteous man has died. Stand and perform ṣālah over your brother, Aṣḥamah.” In anther narration, he stated, “Seek forgiveness for your brother.”

Ibn Ḥajr writes that when the Prophet ﷺ mentioned this a hypocrite objected to praying for, what he called, “a disbeliever from the Abyssinians,” at which point Allāh revealed the following āyah of ṣūrah Āli cImrān: “Indeed amongst the People of The Book are those who believe in Allāh and that which was revealed to you all…”

In the Sunan of Abu Dawud our mother, cĀisha, may Allāh be pleased with her, relates, “When al-Najāshī died we used to say that a light continued to be seen on his grave.”1

(2) The jurist and mufṭī of Makkah,
cAtā Ibn Abī Rabāḥ. He was a student of Ibn cAbbās, may Allāh be pleased with him, and other prominent Companions like Abū Hurairah, Ibn cUmar, cĀisha, etc. After the death of Ibn cAbbās, cAtā inherited his seat in the Masjid al-Ḥaram and, by decree of the Khalīfah, was the only one allowed to give faṭwā if he was in the Masjid. He was well versed in the rituals of Ḥājj. Nucmān ibn Thābiṭ, the Persian better known as Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, was one of his students.

The Companion, Ibn cUmar, may Allāh be pleased with him, once came to Makkah and the people began to ask him questions. Ibn cUmar, may Allāh be pleased with him, remarked, “You are bringing masā’il [i.e. religious issues] to me while cAtā Ibn Abī Rabāḥ is amongst you?!” Bearing this statement in mind, it is little wonder that the Khalīfah, Sulaimān ibn cAbd al-Malik, came to cAtā to ask him about the rituals of Ḥājj.

Abd al-Raẓẓāq said that he had never seen a scholar who performed ṣalāh better than Ibn Juraij. He then went on to explain that the reason for this was that Ibn Juraij had learned his ṣalāh from cAtā who in turn had learned it from Ibn Ẓubair, and Ibn Ẓubair had learned his ṣalāh from Abu Bakr who learned it from the Prophet ﷺ.

Ibn Juraij stayed with cAtā for eighteen years. He mentioned that after cAtā had become old and weak he would recite two hundred āyah from sūrah Baqarah while standing motionless in ṣalāh. Furthermore, cAtā is reported to have performed seventy Ḥājj.

cAtā once admonished Hishām ibn cAbd Al-Malik, saying, “O Leader of the Faithful, fear Allāh, because you were created alone, you will die alone, you will  be resurrected alone, and your reckoning will be done alone. By Allāh, none of those whom we see will be with you.”2

(3) Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Mahdī ibn Manṣūr was extremely eloquent and composed beautiful poetry. At one point, Banū cAbbās pledged allegiance to him and took him as their Khalīfah.3

(4) cAbdullāh ibn Nāfic relates that someone came to Rabīc ibn Khuthaim in a dream and said, “So-and-so black woman is your wife in Jannah.”

Imām Rabī
c ibn Khuthaim, may Allāh have mercy on him, was a Ṭābcī and one of the top students of cAbdullāh ibn Mascūd, may Allāh be pleased with him. When he would visit Ibn Mascūd the latter would welcome him and sit him at his side. One night while he was praying, he came across the āyah, “Do those who perpetrate evils think that we will make them like those who believe and do righteous actions…” and remained stuck on it, crying bitterly until the morning. About him, Ibn Mascūd had said, “If the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ had seen you, he would have definitely loved you.”

When Rabīc awoke he asked about the woman in the dream. Someone showed him where she was. When he got to her, he found that she was grazing goats. He said to himself, “I will stay with her and see what kind of actions she does.”

For three days, he stayed with her but he didn’t see her doing anything more than what was farḍ [i.e. obligatory]. In the evening she would milk one of her goats for herself, and then milk it again, and give Rabīc some to drink. On the third day he asked, “Why don’t you give me milk from some other goat?”

She replied, “O, cAbdullāh! It doesn’t belong to me.”

Rabīc inquired, “Then why are you giving me milk from this one?”

The woman responded, “This one was given to me to drink from and give whomever I wished a drink from.”

Rabīc asked, “Do you perform any deeds besides what I saw you doing?”

“No,” The woman answered. “However, I never get up in the morning wishing that I was in some other condition, no matter what my [current] condition may be. And the evening never comes and I wish that I was in some other condition, no matter what my [current] condition may be. [This is because I am] pleased with what Allāh has allotted for me.”

Rabīc inquired, “Did you know that I saw in my dream that you were my wife in Jannah?”

The woman said, “Then you are Rabīc ibn Khuthaim.”

One of the narrators asked cAbdullāh ibn Nāfic, “How did she know this?”

He said, “Maybe she saw the same thing he saw in his dream.”4

(5) Dhun Nūn al-Miṣrī Abu al-Fadhal Thaubān ibn Ibrāhīm’s father was a Nubian. This wise, eloquent, renowned pious man was one of the people of ṭarīqah, their leader and authoritative reference. He was unique during his age with respect to his piety and knowledge. He was the first in his lands to speak about the sequence of spiritual states and stations experienced by the people of wilāyah. Ibn al-Jallā once said, “I met six hundred shuyūkh (plural of sheikh) amongst whom there were four whose like I did not meet; one of them was Dhun Nūn.”

He was once imprisoned. Some food was brought to him from his nephew but he refused to eat it, saying, “It passed by the hands of an oppressor.”

Al-cAbbās said that he heard Dhun Nūn say, “The obedient have recognized Your grandeur and were humbled, and the sinners have heard of Your generosity and were hopeful.”

One day Dhun Nūn remarked, “Allāh’s remembering you is greater than your remembering Him because you remember Him after He remembers you. His love for you is greater than your love for Him because He loved you before He created you, and part of His love for you is rewarding your love for Him.”

“One of the signs of a lover of Allāh is following the beloved of Allāh ﷺ in his character, actions, commands, and sunan (plural of sunnah).”

On one occasion he mentioned, “It is due to companionship with the pious that life is made pleasant. All good is gathered up in a pious companion; if you forget, he will remind you, and if you remember he will assist you.”

He died in the year 245 when he was nearly in his nineties. Green birds provided shade for his funeral until he reached his grave and was buried, then they disappeared.5

(6) Someone went to visit Ṭaḥiyyah and heard her saying in her supplications, “O, the One who loves me and whom I love!”

They enquired, “How do you know that He loves you?”

Ṭaḥiyyah replied, “I used to [live] in Nubia. My parents were Christians. [Once] my mother took me to the church,  brought me before the cross and commanded, ‘Kiss the cross!’ When I started to kiss it, I saw a palm come out and push my face away so I couldn’t kiss it, thus I knew that [He cared for me].”6

(7) Abū Mucāwiyah was one of the giants amongst the auliyāh of Allāh, and a companion of Sufyan al-Thawrī, Ibrāhīm ibn Adham, etc. He was counted amongst the abdāl.

One time he was seated on a wall of Tarsūs admonishing himself. Then he began crying profusely and lamented, “Alas! from a day when my color will change, my tongue will shake, my spit will dry up, and my provisions will be scanty!”

On one occasion he stated, “My brothers are all better than me.” Someone inquired, “How is that, O Abū Mucāwiyah?” He replied, “They all considered me superior to themselves, and whoever thinks I am superior to  them is better than me.”

Once a man came to visit him [after] he had gone blind [and found] there was a Qur’ān in his house. The man exclaimed, “May Allāh have mercy on you. You have a Qur’ān and you can’t see!”

Abū Mucāwiyah asked, “O my brother, can you conceal something until I die?”

The man replied in the affirmative, whereupon Abū Mucāwiyah informed him, “When I want to read the Qur’ān my sight [returns].”7

(8) Once [the Umayyad Khalīfah] Sulaimān ibn cAbd al-Malik was riding in his procession when a black man with two cloaks on, one covering his upper body and one his lower, got in the way and took hold of the reigns of Sulaimān’s animal.

“O Leader of the Faithful, fear Allāh, Exalted and Glorified is He,” the man said, “and remember the announcement.”

Sulaimān enquired, “What announcement?”

The man replied, “Allāh, Exalted is He, said: Then an announcer will announce amongst them that the curse of Allāh is upon the oppressors.” [May Allāh save us from oppressing others and being oppressed. Āmīn.]

At this, Sulaimān began to cry profusely. After some time, he raised his head and said, “Woe to you! What oppression have I done to you?”

The man responded, “O Leader of the Faithful, your agent in Yemen has oppressed me: he usurped my possessions, and added it to yours.”

Without moving from that spot, Sulaimān called for an ink pot and paper, and wrote to his agent to return the man’s property along with the like of it and not to oppress anyone.8

(9) Shacwānah was a pious woman noted for weeping excessively out of the fear of Allāh. The great ẓāhid, Fudhail ibn cIyādh, once asked her to make ducā for him. She replied, “Isn’t there between you and Allāh [such an affair] that if you were to supplicate He would answer you?” [Hearing this,] Fudhail gasped, and fell unconscious.

She once mentioned that for every sickness there was a cure growing in the mountains, with the exception of the sickness [borne by] lovers. “Its cure,” she said, “does not grow in the mountains.”

Mucādh ibn Fadhl relates that Shacwānah used to cry so much that they feared she would become blind, so they spoke to her about that. She responded, “By Allāh, my becoming blind in this world due to weeping is more beloved than my going blind in the next due to the Fire.”9

Allāh states in the Qur’ān, “Without a doubt, Allāh has favored the believers by sending amongst them a Messenger from themselves who will recite His āyāṭ to them, purify them, and teach them the book [i.e. al-Qur’ān] and the wisdom [i.e. the sunnah], while before they were in clear misguidance.”10 Ibn Kathīr, may Allāh have mercy on him, explains that this āyah means that Allāh has favored them by deputing a human like themselves so that they would be able to speak with him, ask him questions, and benefit from him, when before this Messenger they were in such error and ignorance that it was clear and apparent to everyone.11

Allāh has indeed blessed and favored us by granting us Islām. It is through the lens of Islām that we understand how to navigate this world, not the concocted delusions of philosophers and so-called intellectuals whose worldview has no grounding in Divine guidance, nor is it illuminated by the nūr of prophetic teachings.

The prevalent narrative concerning racism is that it is something done by the “Other” to “us”. Leaving aside the inferiority complex inherent in such thinking, let us focus on what Islām says and remember that our Prophet ﷺ proclaimed: “Certainly, your lord is one and your father is one; there is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor a red over a black, nor a black over a red, except by means of ṭaqwā.”12

National affiliation, family connections, and race do not have any value beyond being aids to assist us in carrying out our duties to Allāh. Love the people Allāh has chosen to place you among if you want, but love the righteous more, and never make the mistake of turning a blind eye to the wrongs committed by an individual solely because you share the same racial, ethnic, national background, nor make the mistake of thinking that your race makes you superior to another human being.

May Allāh cause the author and readers to benefit from this work, and save us from any harm contained in it. May Allāh revive our hearts with the mention of His righteous slaves, and give us the ṭawfīq to follow in their noble footsteps. Āmīn.

Part 3, Part 1


[1] (T) P: 72 & 104-112; (R) P: 72-73 & 219-238. See: al-Iṣābah 1:112; Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 1:428, 429; Mucjam al-Kabīr. Maktabah ibn Taymiyyah. 11:198, #11482; al-Istīcāb Fī Macrifah al-Aṣḥābah. P:1844; Musnad Imām Aḥmad. Bait al-Afkār al-Dawlah. P:178, 179, #1740; Subul al-Hūdā wa al-Rashād Fī Sīyarah Khair al-cIbād. 12:97-98; al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah. Dār Hijr. 6:144, 145 & 7:230 & 11:166; Tārīkh al-Tabrī. Dār Ibn Kathīr. 2:329; Sunan Abū Dāwūd. Maktabah Raḥmāniyah.1:364; Fatḥ al-Bārī. Dār Taybah. 8:610 & 4:86; Tafsīr  al-Qur’ān al-cAdhīm Musnadan cAn Rasullāh Wa al-Ṣaḥābah Wa al-Tābcīn (Tafsīr Ibn Abī Ḥātim). Maktabah Naẓār Musṭafā al-Bāẓ. 3:846; Jāmic al-Bāyan cAn Ta’wāil Āya al-Qur’ān (Tafsīr al-Ṭabrī). Hijr. 6:327; Sūrah Āli cImrān, Āyah: 199
[2] (T) P: 153-158; (R) P: 335-343. See: Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 5:78, 80, 82, #29; Ṭabaqāt Ibn Sacd. Maktabah al-Khānjī. 8:30, #:2368; Ḥilyah al-Awliyā. Dār al-Fikr. 3:311, #244; Tarīkh Dimashq. Dār al-Fikr. 40:371, #4705; Ṣifah al-Ṣafwah. Dār al-Kutub al-cArabī. P: 375, #209; Tarīkh Dimashq. Dār al-Fikr. 40:375, #4705; Tarīkh Dimashq. Dār al-Fikr.  40:375, #4705; Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 5:87; Ṣifah al-Ṣafwah. Dār al-Kutub al-cArabī. P: 376, #209

[3] Sūrah al-Baqarah, Āyah: 281; Tārikh al-Islām. Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī.  2:1042, 1100, 1101, #76; Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 4:321-322, #116; Ṣifah al-Ṣafwah. Dār al-Kutub al-cArabī. P: 550, #411; Wafayāt al-Acyān. Dār Ṣādir. 2:371, 373 #261; Ḥilyah al-Awliyā. Dār al-Fikr. 4:272-273, #375; al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah. Dār Hijr. 12: 466 , 468; Shadharāt al-Dhahab Fī Akhbār Man Dhahab. Dār Ibn Kathīr. 1:385
[4] (T) P: 195-200. See: Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 11:532, #153; Wafayāt al-Acyān. Dār Ṣādir. 1:315, #129; Ḥilyah al-Awliyā. Dār al-Fikr. 9:331, 346, #456; Tarīkh Baghdād. Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī. 9:373, 374, #4450; Tārikh al-Islām. Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī. 18:265, 268, #180; Tarīkh Dimashq. Dār al-Fikr. 17:399, 400, 408, 418, 427; Masālik al-Abṣār Fī Mamālik al-Amṣār. 4:47; Ḥusn al-Muḥāḍarah. 1:512; al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah. Dār Hijr. 14:442
[5] (T) P: 226-227. See: Ṣifah al-Ṣafwah. Dār al-Kutub al-cArabī. P:876, #856
[6] (T) P: 191. See: Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 9:78-79, #21; Ḥilyah al-Awliyā. Dār al-Fikr. 8:271, #405
[7] (T) P: 180-181
[8] (T) P: 229-230; Ṣūrah al-Jāthiyah, Āyah: 21;Tahdhīb al-Kamāl 9:72, #1859; Ṭabaqāt Ibn Sacd. Maktabah al-Khānjī. 8:303, #2944; Sīyar cAlām al-Nubalā. Mu’assas al-Risālah. 4:258, #95; Ḥilyah al-Awliyā. Dār al-Fikr. 2:106, 110, #166; Ṣifah al-Ṣafwah. Dār al-Kutub al-cArabī. P:543, #403
[9] (T) P: 224.See: al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah. Dār al-Hijr. 13:577; al-Muntdham Fī Tārikh al-Mulūk wa al-‘Umam. Dār al-Kutub al-cIlmiyyah. 9:12; Ṣifah al-Ṣafwah. Dār al-Kutub al-cArabī. P: 722, #630
[10] Sūrah Āli Imrān, Āyah: 164Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Adhīm. Dār Tayba. 2:158
[11] Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Adhīm. Dār Tayba. 2:158
[12] Mujam al-Awsat. Dār al-Haramain. 5:86, Hadīth #4749

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