Such an inspiring elixir were the outer manners imparted by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and the internal influence he exerted, that in rapid time they lifted an ignorant society previously in the wilderness, most of whom were ignorant of even the basics of being human, to a level undreamed of, as ‘the Companions’, who still remain an object of the envy of mankind even today. They were united under one religion, the same flag, law and culture, under the banner of a mutual government and civilization.
The Noble Prophet (pbuh) educated the brute and the brutal, rendered the wild civilized and turned the base into pillars of piety and righteousness, spilling over with the love and fear of the Almighty.
A ignorant society, unable for centuries on end to raise a single person worthy of significance, thanks to the enriching spirituality of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), suddenly began rearing numerous figures of preeminence, who, like flames of knowledge and wisdom, carried the inspiration within their hearts over to the four corners of the world. Taking eternity under its shade, the Light that descended on the desert instilled truth, justice and guidance to entire humanity. The law’laka law’laka mystery became manifest, and the reason for the creation of the universe was fulfilled.
The people of the Asr’us-Saadah, the Age of Bliss, raised under the supervision of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), the greatest example mankind could ever dream to have, were a society of marifa, of true wisdom. The period was that of deep contemplation, a time to gain closer acquaintance with The Almighty and His Messenger. Placing tawhid in the center of their thought and ideal, the Companions were triumphant in ridding their hearts of worldly gains, the idols within. Lives and possessions were relegated to the position of means. The zest of iman was tasted. Mercy grew deeper. Service to the cause became a lifestyle. A sacrifice unthinkable was put on display, crystallized in the quintessential Islamic character. Just to hear a celebrated word of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), a Companion would walk a month’s distance, only to return without hearing; all but witnessing the person tricking his horse enough to question his veracity.
So what did the Companions obtain from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh)?
Iniqas, a reflection, mirroring of the Prophet (pbuh), becoming one with him.
Acquirement of aqrabiyyah; nearness to Allah, glory unto Him, and recognizing Him in the heart.
Thus the good and the right became manifest with all their beauty in their hearts, and the evil and wrong became visible with all its ugliness.
The Companions developed a new understanding of the Almighty, the universe and the self. Their aim became to become one with the entire hal of the Prophet of Grace (pbuh), akin to how the sun reflects on to a small mirror.
The borders of the small Muslim city-state founded in Medina, comprised approximately of four-hundred families, reached Iraq and Palestine, only in a matter of ten years. The Companions were at war with Byzantine and Persia at the time of the bereavement of the Noble Messenger (pbuh), though their standards of living had little changed as compared to ten years before. They continued persisting in their lives of abstinence. Excess consumption, greed, luxury and pomp were things unknown to the Companions, imbued with a constant awareness that ‘awaiting the flesh, tomorrow, was but the grave.’ They therefore always fled the tendency of reserving the pleasures of the world to themselves and indulging too much in them. With the excitement and zest of iman, they instead used them as means for guiding humankind to its salvation. They molded their lives in the cast of seeking the pleasure of Allah, glory unto Him.
Without a doubt one of the most prominent reasons for the clear and rapid spread of Islam, like a glaring flash of morning light, among the oppressed and the exploited, was the fact that the Companions showed a perfect Muslim character wherever they stepped foot. The elite students of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the Companions were Believers par excellence, honest and just, carrying treasures of benevolence in their hearts enlightened by the Prophetic light, who looked upon fellow servants of the Almighty only with eyes of compassion.
In the hub of friendship, they had placed Allah, glory unto Him, and His Messenger, which elevated them, an illiterate society, to the peak of civilization. Their hearts were perpetually excited, thinking ‘What would Allah want from us?’ or ‘How would the Messenger of Allah like to see us?’
Centuries were shaped by them, stemming from an age of bliss granted to humankind.
Freed from the evil of the nafs’ul-ammara, ‘the evil commanding self’, they became Believers who constantly questioned themselves, raised above their wildness to an angelic character.
Qarafi (d.684 AH), one of the most important figures in the methodology of Islamic law, states:
“Had there not been another miracle of our Noble Messenger (pbuh), the righteous Companions he raised would have been sufficient to prove his prophethood.”
They were the miracle of the Quran come to life; peaks of human virtue excelling in prudence, competence and all humanitarian values.
In that age, both reason and heart, means which attain Believers perfection, were mutually put to use, in a graceful harmony. By keeping the elements of excitement of love alive, thinking was pushed deeper. People lived with the consciousness of the world being a school of trials. Hearts became familiar with the flows of Divine Power. Journeys to lands as far as Samarkand and China, for the sake of enjoining the good and prohibiting the evil, became commonplace, with those to follow carrying the flame further to Andalusia. That society of ignorance developed into people with real knowledge’. Nights became day, winters spring. Contemplation developed, becoming a profound peer into how the human body came to be from a drop of liquid, birds from simple eggs, trees and fruits from insignificant seeds, and alike wonders. The direction of human life took a turn towards the pleasure of the Creator. Feelings of mercy and compassion, the deepness of spreading the truth acquired a vastness previously unseen.
Moments in which the message of tawhid was communicated became, for the Companions, the sweetest and most meaningful times of life. An illustrious Companion once thanked a wretched man who allowed three minutes before hanging him, saying:
“…that means I have another three minutes to enjoin the good.”
In a nutshell, the Companions lived with and for the Quran, devoting their lives to the Sacred Book, displaying a sacrifice and perseverance never before witnessed throughout history. Inflicted with torture and oppression, subjected to cruelty, still, they never compromised an inch of what they believed. To bring to life the verses sent forth by the Almighty, they migrated, leaving behind all their homes and belongings, proving they knew what sacrifice meant, in the truest sense of the word.
They always aspired to learn and live each ayah appropriately, never straying from the Quran even in times most dangerous. Abbad (r.a), designated by the Prophet (pbuh) as watchman, informed his fellow guard Ammar (r.a) of an attack only after having been on the receiving end of two or three arrows. To Ammar, somewhat taken aback, asking him as to why he did not inform him after the first arrow, Abbad (r.a) replied:
“I was reciting a surah of the Quran and I did not want to break my salat before having completed its recital. But when the arrows hit me one after another I stopped reciting and bowed to ruqu. But by Allah, had there not been a fear of losing this spot whose protection the Messenger of Allah ordered, I would have preferred death over cutting my recital of the chapter short.” (Abu Dawud, Taharat, 78/198; Ahmad, III, 344; Ibn Hisham, III, 219; Waqidi, I, 397)
The Companions led a life that revolved around the Quran. Each religious obligation, for them, was an insatiable taste. Each verse revealed was like a feast from heaven. All efforts were channeled to properly understand the Quran and to bring it to life in the most exemplary fashion. What a magnificent portrait of virtue it must have been that a female Companion saw sufficient dowry in asking the groom to simply teach her parts of the Quran he knew.
They preferred waking during the night to perform salat, to recite at daybreak their prayers and reciting the Quran over their warm beds. Passers by in the dark of the night would hear sounds of the Quran and of dhikr, emanating forth like the humming of bees. Even under the most difficult circumstances, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) would teach them the Quran.
According to the narration of Anas (r.a), Abu Talha (r.a) one day went next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), who was on his feet, teaching the Students of Suffa some Quran. Tied to his belly was a stone, to straighten his back, which had been bent and deplete from severe hunger. (Abu Nuaym, Hilya, I, 342)
All their desires and pursuits were directed to understanding and learning the Book of Allah, always preoccupied with its repeated hearing and reciting.
Consequent upon them taking the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) as example, the town of Medina became teeming with scholars and huffaz, people who had committed the entire Quran to memory.
Such was the Age of Bliss.
One wonders, if all specialists in the fields of psychology, sociology, social anthropology, pedagogy, social engineering and philosophy were to join forces, whether they could conjure a small society endowed with a blend of virtues that could even come close to the society of the Age of Bliss…Impossible! Even Farabi’s work Madinat’ul-Fadila, the Virtuous Town, a project reflecting over an ideal society, is now left in the maws of termite, as their prey…
. “Had you not been, had you not been, (I would not have created the universe).” For the relevant hadith see, Hâkim, II, 672/4228.
. Bkz. Buhârî, Nikâh, 6, 32, 35; Fedâilü’l-Kur’ân, 21, 22; Müslim, Nikâh, 76.