Adiy’s father was the illustrious Hatim Tai, a man from the Tayy tribe whose generosity had become legendary. Adiy, much like his father, was a generous man of virtue honored among his tribe.
He had escaped to Damascus in the ninth year of Hegira, when the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent Ali (r.a) to Tayy to demolish their idol Fuls. Her sister Saffanah on the other hand was brought to Medina among the other captives.
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) set Saffanah free and awarding her clothes, a mount and some provisions for the journey, sent her to Damascus in the company of some trustworthy people.
Adiy ibn Hatim recounts:
“Saffanah was an intelligent woman. ‘What do you think of this man?’ I asked her.
‘I swear’, she replied, ‘it is best you join him immediately. If he is really a prophet, you beating others in the race to join him will only bring you greater honor and virtue. If he is a king, you will not lose your status in Yemen and be lowered into a despicable position. Now the choice is yours!’
‘That is definitely right’, I commented. ‘
I will go to this man. If he is a liar, his lying will not do me any harm. If what he says is true then I shall listen to them and abide by him!’ Soon, I arrived in Medina. The moment I saw the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) amid his relatives, women and children, I knew he was neither a Ceasar nor a Khosrau! The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) took me by the hand to his house. On the way, an old woman stopped him and spoke to him about a certain need. He listened to her lengthily whilst standing and solved her problem. When we arrived at his house, he handed me a cushion filled with date leaves and said, ‘Here, sit on this!’
‘Please’, I said, ‘you sit on the cushion!’
‘No…You should!’ replied the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
I ended up sitting on the cushion while the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sat on the ground. ‘This cannot be a deed of a king’, I thought to myself.
‘Become Muslim, Adiy, and find peace’, then said he.
‘I already have a religion’, was my response.
‘I know your religion better than you do’, remarked the Prophet (pbuh).
‘You know my religion better than I?’
‘Sure…Are you not a Raqusi?
Do you not take a quarter of the spoils seized by your tribe?’ he asked.
‘Indeed’, I responded.
‘But this, according to your religion, is not permissible’ said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He said nothing more. I felt very embarassed when he said that.
‘That is quite true’, was all I could say. But since he was sensitive not to dwell on the issue which would have caused me even greater embarrassment, I thought, he must be a prophet sent by the Almighty.
‘I know what prevents you from entering Islam’, he continued.
‘You think to yourself that ‘only the weak and those of little worth in the sight of Arabs join him’. Do you know Hirah?’
‘I have never been but I have heard.’
‘By Allah, in whose Hand of Might my spirit resides, Allah will bring this cause to completion, such that a woman will set out from Hirah and come to circumambulate the House of Allah. Then the treasures of Khosrau Hurmuz shall be conquered!’
‘Khosrau Hurmuz?’ I asked astonished.
‘Yes, Khosrau Hurmuz.’
‘Before too long’, he continued, ‘wealth will abound so much that nobody shall deign to lay hand on it and there will not be found a single person eligible to take one’s alms!’
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was extremely happy to see me accept Islam there and then; his face was glowing from satisfaction.
He lodged me at the house of an Ansari as guest. Thereafter, I began visiting him day and night. Not a single time of salat would arrive without me longing for him!”
Adiy (r.a), when recounting this memory years later, added:
“By Allah, I saw a women leave Hirah on camelback without any fear and come to Kaabah and perform her pilgrimage! I, too, was among those to seize the treasures of the Khosrau. By Allah, in whose Hand my spirit lies, the third, too, shall undoubtedly take place, for the Messenger of Allah said so!” (Bukhari, Manaqib, 25; Ahmad, IV, 257, 377-379; Ibn Hisham, IV, 246; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, V, 62)
To be sure, the third piece of news foretold by the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) was soon realized. Caliph Omar ibn Abdulaziz had sent his official alms distributor to regions in Africa, after seeing there was nobody in need in other parts of the Muslim realm. But the distributor returned without finding anybody eligible to receive zakat. The money was later used to purchase and free a great number of slaves.