The Society of the Age of Bliss

During the Age of Ignorance, humankind was grounded in bleak darkness. Ignorance was deep-seated; deviancy and transgression were running rife. Chaos was relentlessly showing its ugly face. The Arabian deserts had turned into seas of blood, flowing from the wounds of never-ending blood feuds.

Justice and right always belonged to the powerful. Those who acquired power would suddenly turn tyrant, oppressing the weak and the defenseless. The brutality depicted by the late Mehmed Akif as:

“If toothless, one was devoured by his own brethren…” was a daily reality. The oppressed, trampled under the merciless feet of tyrants, fought an everyday battle for survival, with their screams of agony going unheard.

The Degrading Beliefs of the Age of Ignorance

The true faith had become corrupted. Some, supposing the Almighty too distant for them, believed that a divine force was embodied and had become manifest in natural objects like stones, rocks, fire, trees or mountains, which they considered sacred. There were some who worshipped the sun and the moon. By deeming them sacred and revering them, these people thought they could thereby reach Allah, glory unto Him.

Others were worshipping nonphysical beings like angels, jinn or the devil. If they worshipped and respected them well enough, they used to think, these beings could perhaps intercede on their behalf in Divine presence.

There were also idolaters who, on the one hand, claimed to believe in Allah, glory unto Him, while, on the other hand, ascribed partners to Him with various objects or things they wrought with their own hands. Despite their claim to be “the children of Ibrahim and Ismail –upon them peace-”, they had long abandoned the belief in tawhid, the oneness of the Almighty, and were standing at a distant remove the Hanif path that the two prophets had bequeathed them. The idolaters would ascribe partners to Allah, glory unto Him, almost with anything one could think of.

And there was a further group in complete denial of the Almighty and the Hereafter, supposing everything to consist of this visible universe.

Harith, the foster father (Halimah’s husband) of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, had come to Mecca during the early stages of prophethood to pay a visit to the Prophet. The moment he arrived, he was met by idolaters, who said:

“Haven’t you heard, Harith, what your son has been saying?”

“What has he been saying?” asked Harith.

“He has been claiming that Allah will resurrect mankind after death. He is also saying that Allah has two abodes called Heaven and Hell, where He will reward the obedient and punish the rebellious. These claims of his have disrupted our order and split out community!”

Harith eventually arrived next to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and asked:

“What is this dispute between you and your tribesmen all about, dear? You have them complaining about you. They claim that you assure people that they are to be resurrected after death, where they will be bound for either Heaven or Hell.”

“Yes, dear father”, replied the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. “That is what I believe and say. If only I could hold you by the hand, right now, and explain how true those words are!”

Harith -Allah be well-pleased with him- later became Muslim and, as time went by, began reaping his share from the spiritual core of Islam. After his acceptance of Islam, he would say:

“How I wish he held me by the hand that day and explained to me the truth of his words and not let go until, with the permission of Allah, he ushered me to Paradise!” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirah, s. 218; Suhayli, Rawd’ul-Unuf, 284-285)

During the Age of Ignorance, people were sunk in many false beliefs. They were undergoing a virtual humanitarian tragedy, demeaning to what essentially defined them as human beings, their reason and conscience.

It was almost impossible to find a sound thought, a right idea. False ideas were running riot. And as a result, women were oppressed in society, mothers were banished and daughters were looked upon as bringing shame to the family.

One day, a Companion came to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and said:

“We were an ignorant people, Messenger of Allah. We used to worship idols and bury our daughters alive. I had a little daughter who adored me. I remember…I used to call her and she would come running, overjoyed. I again called her one day and she came to me running. She began to walk by my side as I took her by the hand next to a nearby well that belonged to our family. Then grabbing her by the arm, I threw her into the well. The last words I heard from her, as she went crashing down the well, were her screams, ‘daddy, daddy!’”

Upon hearing these chilling words, tears began flowing from the sparkling eyes of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, the ocean of compassion. Another Companion present then began reproaching the person who had recounted this bitter experience. “You have no right to upset the Messenger of Allah!” he exclaimed.

“Leave him”, interrupted the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. “He just wants to clear his chest about something that aggrieves him, something he feels is important.” Then turning to that man, he said:

“Repeat what you just explained!” When the Companion retold his story, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- again broke down in tears, until his beard was left soaked. Turning to the man, once again, the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- then stated:

“Allah has forgiven the sins committed in the Age of Ignorance of those who have become Muslims. Now, begin your life anew!” (Darimi, Muqaddimah, 1)

Humanity was clearly standing on the edge of a raging pit of fire. Spiritually, society had become a wreck, as individuals were on the brink of total ruin. Islam then arrived to save them from destruction and turned them into members of an exemplary society. Allah, glory unto Him, states:

“And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way.” (Al-i Imran, 103)

Serving the Lord and His Creation were Ignored for Worldly Interests

Most authentic forms of worshipping were long forgotten and what remained was distorted. They had twisted beyond recognition many deeds of worship, like pilgrimage and sacrifice, to the tune of their false beliefs and vested interests. Claiming to give importance to worshipping, they were in fact promoting nothing but evil; though little did they know. They would, for instance, make pilgrims circumambulate naked, after which they would cover their clothing expenses just to flatter their own pride and self-conceit.

The only norm of social relations was power. Right and supremacy belonged to the powerful; the weak exercised no rights, whatsoever. There was not a trace left of peace and stability in society.

What Remained of Moral Qualities were Distorted from their Original Forms

It had gotten to a stage where the few moral qualities that somehow had managed to survive had become based solely on egoistical interests. They were either practiced in excess or in the bare minimum. Virtue had become a means for a boastful show of strength. They would waste in the name of generosity and commit the worst kind of murder thinkable: they would bury their daughters alive in the name of protecting their pride and honor.

True, a man of the Age of Ignorance was gallant; he always had his weapons close at hand. Courage was his trademark. But his courage was measured by the number of people he killed out of tribal hatred. His courage came from his ego and pride. Underlying his show of courage was an avid desire to prove both his and his tribe’s supremacy. The ceaseless wars between tribes were hence eating them away, both physically and spiritually.

Abolishing the corrupt customs of Ignorance, Islam replaced them with the most beautiful and perfect principles of living. It restrained their unruly tempers with noble dispositions like patience, lenience and justice. Purifying their insensible and sentimental courage from egoism, it spiritualized it, directing it to nobler purposes. Islam taught them to use their courage in the way of superior ideals, like above all restoring justice and the Truth.

The man of the Age of Ignorance was generous and hospitable. But these virtues only served to attract praises for himself and his tribe. His grandest ambition was to be venerated, to hold a reputation among men with his nobility, generosity and courage, and awaken feelings of respect and awe in rivals. It was therefore not uncommon for one to slaughter six or seven sheep in one instant and have only their livers roasted for a feast while throwing out the rest of the meat, simply for the purpose of showing off.

While continuing to promote generosity and hospitality, Islam instilled them with a moral content. While acting generously, Muslims would steer clear from showing off and desire only the pleasure of Allah, glory unto Him. Consciousness of the Almighty being the True Owner of all things had, after all, been embedded in their hearts.

Accordingly, all riches belong to Allah, glory unto Him, and human beings only act as trustees.[1] They have only limited authority over wealth and property and they come with certain responsibilities. Given as a trust by the Almighty, it is therefore necessary to put wealth to use in a manner approved and praised by the Almighty. It is vital to use wealth, which ultimately belongs to Allah, glory unto Him, in the service of His servants. One must thereby serve the Almighty by serving His created beings.

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- would say:

“The hand that gives is superior to the hand that receives.”[2] But whilst giving, one was required to give only for the sake of the Almighty, remaining distant from pride, without any anticipation of worldly ends. The Holy Quran in fact advised and taught all human beings to say:

“We only feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks.”[3]

Islam also prohibited wasting. So in stark contrast to the feast of the times of Ignorance, not even a single meat of a sheep slaughtered in the Age of Bliss would go to waste. Again, from feelings of generosity and selflessness, it was not uncommon for meat to pass around seven different families only to return to the same place from where it had been handed out in the first place.

Desert life had led the man of Ignorance to a primitive notion of freedom. They would recognize no authority and rebel against any kind of authority that came. As a consequence, there was no central power. Social solidarity would scarcely go beyond the tribe. There was neither a system nor an institution of law that exercised a sanctioning power. Disagreements would either be referred to haphazardly chosen arbitrators or, more often than not, to the resolve of brute force.

Islam objected to an unlimited idea of freedom monopolized only by a small minority. The Quran’s declaration that a slave with iman was more valuable than a nonbeliever[4] had thus left the idolaters furious. The fiercest protests against Islam therefore came from the ranks of the dominant class, the self-acclaimed free men. They informed the Blessed Prophet –upon him peace- that they would only be willing to negotiate with him on the condition he banished the slaves and the weak from around him; and that offer was unconditionally rejected by the Almighty.[5]

The morals of Islam aligned freedom to spirituality, basing the idea on moral grounds. It brought preventative measures to enable each person to limit his own freedom within his consciousness.

The Holy Quran states:

“And certainly We created man, and We know what his mind suggests to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” (Qaf, 16)

“Do they not know that Allah knows what they keep secret and what they make known?” (al-Baqara, 77; al-Anam, 3)

A Muslim must therefore control not only his actions, but even his hidden tendencies. This essential thought brought about a profound and proportionately swift revolution in the spirit, perception of life and values of the man of Ignorance. He had now become subject to the heavenly authority and, at the same time, an external authority, as well as his own conscience. Given there was a dispute regarding a certain manner, he no longer resorted to brute force, but rather to the mediation of the verdict of Allah, glory unto Him and His Messenger. All Muslims had wholeheartedly embraced the need “to obey Allah, His Messenger and persons in charge from among them.”[6]

Solidarity and mutual assistance during the Age of Ignorance would likewise never go beyond feelings of tribalism (asabiyya). The man of Ignorance was hardhearted and ruthless towards those he shared no blood ties with. The value of other beings was measured merely by the benefit they brought. There were simply no recognized limits in preventing others from usurping others’ properties. They felt no unease whatsoever in even denying the wages of their workers.

Cleansing feelings of solidarity and mutual assistance from tribal bigotry, Islam reestablished them on the bases of love and compassion that were elevated by moral principles. It taught how to perceive all human beings gathered around the Islamic faith as brothers and to see them like the limbs of one body.[7]

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- one day said:

“Help your brother, even if he be the oppressed or the oppressor!” The Companions who heard it must have felt astonished to hear a motto of bygone tribal racism, seemingly spilling from the mouth of the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- that one of them asked:

“If my brother is being oppressed, Messenger of Allah, I can help him. But how do I help him if he is the oppressor?”

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then gave the magnificent answer below, attesting to the sensitivity of Islam:

“You keep him back from his oppression and prevent it from taking place. This, undoubtedly, is to help him.” (Bukhari, Mazalim, 4; Ikrah, 6. Also see, Tirmidhi, Fitan, 68)

Islam thereby rectified their understanding of mutual assistance and returned it to its core. Assisting each other from then on would only be in goodness and piety; helping others in evil and hostility was now strictly forbidden.[8]

The Prophet’s Great Miracle:
The
Asr-u Saadah Person

Qarafi (d. 684), among the most important figures in the methodology of Islamic jurisprudence, observes:

“Had the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- not provided any miracles, the Companions he raised would have been more than sufficient to prove his prophethood.”

So inspiring a potion were the Divine morals brought by the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, his outer training and the inner influence, that in rapid time they lifted an ignorant society previously in the wilderness, ignorant of even the basics of being human, to a level undreamed of, as ‘the Companions’, still envied by humankind even today. The ignorant and ruthless became cultivated, the wild became civilized and people with lowly and scandalous characters turned into righteous servants of the Almighty, who lived with the love and fear of Allah, glory unto Him, deeply set in their refined hearts.

Think of a man brutal and hardhearted enough to tear away a child from her grief-stricken mother and bury her alive…Merciless enough to inflict the most atrocious kinds of torture on slaves who he looked upon as nothing but a cheap personal item!

Finding guidance through Islam which imparted onto them a depth of consciousness, it was this previously ignorant and vulgar bunch of people, who were able to produce a civilization of virtues. At rock bottom in terms of humanly qualities during the Age of Ignorance, once they began implementing Islamic law and morals in their lives, they very able to climb the peaks of humanity.

The Age of Bliss Raised Exemplary Figures

From the society of Ignorance, which could not raise a single man of importance for centuries on end, there all of a sudden hailed numerous exemplary figures endowed with the highest moral qualities, thanks to the spiritual training and teaching of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. And they carried the inspiration they received from the Quran and Sunnah to the four corners of the world, as flames of wisdom and knowledge. They showed no sign of weariness or fatigue. Hearts had become the receptacles of the love of Allah, glory unto Him, and they began perceiving the created with eye of the Creator, so to speak. Taking eternity under its wings, the Light that had descended onto the desert preached the Truth and justice to humankind entire.

The Muslims of the Asr-u Saadah, reared under the training of the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-, the quintessential example for entire humanity, became members of a society of knowledge, wisdom, compassion and elegance who not only knew the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- externally but also internally, with their hearts. That period was an age of deep contemplation, a time to gain an intimate knowledge of the Almighty and His Messenger.

The Companions placed tawhid in the center of their thoughts and ideals. They were successful in destroying worldly interests, selfish ambitions and the gods of desire that trickle into and wreak havoc in hearts. Life and wealth were demoted to being means rather than ends. Compassion grew deeper. Serving the Truth became a way of life. An enormous effort and sacrifice had the magnificent Islamic character put on display. Such that after traveling a month’s distance just to confirm a hadith he already knew, a Companion would turn back after seeing that the man he had been seeking all along was tricking his horse with an empty fodder bag; an act of deception unbecoming of one to be trusted with the honorable task of confirming a hadith of the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

Abu’l-Aliya, one of the great imams of the Tabiun generation, further explains this Islamic sensitivity in the following:

“Upon going next to someone with the intention of acquiring a hadith, we would observe the way he offered his ritual prayer. If we saw that he offered it nicely, we would think ‘he must complete his other tasks in the same way’ and then proceed to sit by his side and lend ear to him. Seeing him offer his ritual prayer in a sloppy manner, however, we would think ‘this must be the case with all of his acts’ and leave without giving him the time of the day.” (Darimi, Muqaddimah, 38/429)

What did the Companions Receive from the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-?

1. Iniqas or receiving reflections from the Blessed Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- spiritual state, becoming one with him; an intensive flow of inspiration from the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- to the Companions.

2. The learning of aqrabiyya; that is the teaching and practice of the way of gaining spiritual closeness to Allah, glory unto Him, and of recognizing Him in the heart.

A brand new understanding of Allah, glory unto Him, the universe and the self was imparted onto the Companions, akin to the Sun reflecting onto a tiny mirror. Becoming one with the spirituality of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- became their grandest ambition. In this way, the truth and the good became crystal clear in their lives in all their magnificence, as did the false with all its ugliness. Seeking the pleasure of the Almighty in every deed and each breath taken became a standard of life.

They were generous, compassionate, selfless and altruistic. Overcome with the love of worshipping, they lived only to serve the Truth.

The Companions underwent a test of faith in Mecca. In the end, they were able to remove all barriers that would have stood in the way of their iman. There came a time when they needed to sacrifice their riches just to show their power of iman and they did. There came a time when they were called onto sacrifice their lives and they did it just the same, without blinking their eyes. The faithful enthusiasm that swept them away in Mecca provided the spiritual groundwork for the unique civilization that was to be founded in Medina.

A Muslim society that exuded peace to the entire creation of the Almighty was thus founded. Deserts, scorched by the fire of mischief, found the peace they had been thirsting for. Even trees enjoyed a more peaceful environment; cutting green leaves for no good reason was prohibited. Islam’s notion of justice saved not only human beings but also animals and plants from the grip of oppression, shining onto them the peace they had long been anticipating.

Islam Spread As Quickly As the Break of Dawn

The borders of the small Muslim city-state founded in Medina, made up of around four-hundred families, reached Iraq and Palestine, in only a matter of ten years. At the time of the passing away of the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-, the Companions had become strong enough to respond to the warmongering Byzantine and Persia. But their standards of living had little changed as compared to ten years before. They continued leading a life of abstinence. Excess consumption, greed, luxury and showing off were things unknown to them; they were filled with the constant awareness of the fact that ‘awaiting their flesh, tomorrow, was but the grave.’ They therefore always abstained from reserving the blessings of the world to themselves and using them up in excess. 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.

In fact, one of the main reasons behind the irrepressible dawning and spread of Islam, among the oppressed, outcast and exploited was the fact that the Companions displayed an excellent Muslim identity everywhere they went. As the elite students of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, the Companions were an exceptional group of selfless, just and generous Muslims, who perceived the rest of creation with an eye of mercy, filled with the excitement of communicating the call of Islam.

At the core of friendship, they had placed Allah, glory unto Him, and His Messenger. A previously unlettered society thereby reached the peak of civilization; their hearts had become filled with the enthusiasm to become worthy persons in the sight of the Almighty and His Messenger.

Feelings Grew Deeper and More Spiritual

The Companions reached the furthermost point attainable by reason and spirit. Setting themselves free from the nafsu’l-ammara (the evil-commanding ego), they attained a perfected soul. They made a habit of questioning themselves over their conducts. Restraining the desires of their egos and nourishing the abilities innate in their natural predisposition, they covered an enormous distance towards reaching Allah, glory unto Him. Previously in the wilderness, they thereby embodied angelic, delicate characters.

In the bottom end of the pit of ignorance and oppression, so to speak, they were eventually delivered to the shore of compassion and elegance by the spiritual reflections mirrored unto them of the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- inner world. They became exemplary figures in perceiving the world through the eyes of compassion.

The ruthless and callous man who once tore a little girl away from her frantic mother to bury her alive suddenly became a teary-eyed angel of mercy. His heart became a shelter for the weary and despondent members of society, a safe haven offering orphans, widows and the outcast a ray of hope and security.

The previously pitiless Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- became a man of extraordinary sensitivity through Islam, to the extent that he would say, “I fear being called into account by Allah if a wolf was to snatch a lamb by the river Tigris!” (Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, VIII, 153)

Carrying a sack of flour on his back, he would look for the needy at night, with an ear out for their cries of desperation. The responsibility he felt over the welfare and happiness of the ummah became his greatest concern.

Another good example is Abdullah ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him-. Upon sitting atop of Abu Jahl’s chest as he lay sprawled on the battleground of Badr, the ingrained idolater threw him the following insult:

“You have sure climbed a high and steep hill you simple, miserable shepherd!” (Ibn Hisham, II, 277)

Ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him- thus used to be a “simple shepherd” looked down upon by the rest of society. But receiving guidance and passing through training at the personal hands of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, his heart became refined and grew as deep as the ocean, becoming a precinct of the manifestations of the Divine.

The great Kufa School, a major school of Islamic jurisprudence, was the very legacy of this celebrated Companion. Many Muslim jurists including Imam-i Azam Abu Hanifa, reputed to be the first scholar of Islamic law[9], hailed from this school. This circle of education raised men of such genius; such that figures like Solon and Hammurabi, who are universally renowned as great jurists, would not have been considered good enough to become apprentices to Abu Hanifa. Whichever discipline of Islamic science we may glance at, we will be sure to see the name of the great Abdullah ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him- etched in the background.

They were living examples of the miracle that is the Holy Quran, pillars of prudence, wisdom and all values human.

The Functions of Reason and the Heart were in Harmony

The functions of reason and the heart, which ushered the Believers of the time to perfection, were used jointly, in harmony. By keeping their enthusiasm and love ever alive, they were able to grow their contemplation ever deeper.

They lived with the complete understanding that this life is nothing but a land of trial. Their hearts became accustomed to the flows of Divine Power and Majesty vibrant within the universe. They never showed any signs of tiredness in the long, arduous journeys they undertook to Central Asia, even to China, for the sake of enjoining the good and speaking against evil. Guided by the Quranic command forbidding him from throwing himself in danger with his very own hands,[10] Abu Ayyub al-Ansari -Allah be well-pleased with him-, joined military expedition of Istanbul, despite being well over eighty years of age at the time. In the end, he presented his mortal corpse to Istanbul as an endless memory and source of inspiration. His successors took the light of guidance as far as Andalus.

Uqbah ibn Nafi –May Allah have mercy on his soul-, of the Tabiun generation, was sent to Africa during the time of the Umayyads. He proceeded to capture Qayrawan and designated Zuhayr ibn Qays as administrator. “I have sold my soul to Allah and I shall fight those who deny Him until eternity”, he then said to Zuhayr, instructing him his wishes should anything happen to him.

The all conquering Uqbah then continued his expeditions. The only thing stopping him was now the ocean. Steering his horse into the crashing waves, as he said:

“If it was not for this ocean, My Lord, I would have continued to struggle in your way, along the towns lying in front of me!”[11] (Ibn’ul-Asir, al-Kamil fi’t-Tarih, Beirut, 1385, IV, 105-106)

The first three centuries of the Ottomans who appeared in their wake and whose foundations were laid by a mere 400 warriors, was a virtual repeat of the age of the Companions.

Contemplation Became Profound

The society of Ignorance, previously living in pitch darkness, became the “truly knowledgeable” through the guidance of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. The twilight made way for day, winter for spring. The quality of contemplation developed. People began reflecting on how the human being develops from a mere drop of water, trees from tiny seeds and like examples in nature. Their lives were aligned to the pleasure of Allah, glory unto Him. Compassion, kindness and the quality of conveying the truth enjoyed a splendor never before witnessed.

Communicating Islam became Their Most Enjoyable Activity

The Companions displayed the most beautiful Muslim character. Enduring all kinds of hardship, they sought the pleasure of the Almighty at every breath they took, in each moment of their lives. With such a spiritual blend, they avidly enjoined the good and the right and prevented others from evil and immorality. The most enjoyable and meaningful moments of life, for them, was when they would convey to others the message of tawhid.

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- could not meet women as often as he would meet men to communicate Islam. Guzayya -Allah be well-pleased with her-, a female who had entered the fold of Islam in the Meccan period was therefore providing much assistance in the spread of Islam. Secretly mixing in with Qurayshi women, she would extend to them the invitation to the Truth. She continued doing this until the idolaters of Mecca eventually found out. They seized her and sent her away to exile with a group of people from Daws, who were happening to be leaving Mecca at the time. They had her mounted, without a saddle, on a camel and depriving her of water, they then began torturing her until she entirely lost her sight, hearing and mind. Remorseful after having witnessed Guzayya’s -Allah be well-pleased with her– a unbelievable patience, courage and sincerity of iman, the group from Daws then ended up accepting Islam. (Ibn Saad, VIII, 155-157; Ibn Habbib, al-Muhabbar, p. 81-82, 92; Abu Nuaym, Hilya, II, 66-67; Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 447)

Recovering thereafter, Guzayya -Allah be well-pleased with her- – made her Hegira to Medina just after the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-. Some reports suggest she came to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- as an ambassador for the Abdulqays tribe.[12]

Once a woman taking some water to her tribe came across the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and witnessed one of his miracles. Upon her return, she explained her experience to her tribe, hearing which they accepted Islam in their entirety.[13]

Neither were slave-women lagging behind free women in putting their efforts behind conveying Islam. In fact, a slave-girl from Isfahan, Persia, who had become Muslim before Salman the Persian -Allah be well-pleased with him-, guided him to the presence of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.[14]

Another Companion, given three final minutes before his awaiting execution at the hands of idolaters, thanked the miserable men, adding, “That means I have another three minutes to invite you to Islam!”

In underlining the importance of tabligh, Abu Hurayrah -Allah be well-pleased with him- used to say:

“We used to hear the following spoken among the Companions: On the Day of Judgment a person will be grabbed by the scruff of the neck by another person who he never knew. Taken aback, he will ask:

‘What do you want from me? I do not even know you!’ The other person will then say, ‘Despite seeing me on Earth committing evil deeds, you never used to warn me and hold me back!’

The man will then proceed to charge him in the Divine court of justice.”[15]

They Held Fast to the Quran

Even the most difficult circumstances could not hold the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- back from the Quran to the Companions. Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- one day saw the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- teaching Quran to the students of the Suffa, standing. In order to keep his back, bent double from excruciating hunger, straight, he had tied a stone around his belly. (Abu Nuaym, Hilya, I, 342)

Thus the Companions’ greatest concern was to understand the Book of the Almighty, to acquire its manifestations of wisdom and act in accordance. They had discovered the taste of life in repeating the Quran over and over, listening to it and implementing it in their lives.

In short, the Companions lived with the Quran and its content, devoting their entire lives to the Word of the Almighty. They showed a feat of self-sacrifice never before witnessed in history. They were subjected to worst kinds of oppression and torture but never did they compromise what they believed in. To implement the Holy Quran in their lives, they abandoned their entire wealth and properties, even their hometowns, and immigrated to Medina, for which they were more than ready to even let go of their lives.

The Companions were in a continuous endeavor to learn and put into practice each ayah of the Holy Quran. They never neglected the Quran, even during the most dangerous situations.

Abbad -Allah be well-pleased with him-, appointed by the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to keep guard over the Muslim forces had begun offering salat. The enemy, who had been on the lookout all along, began shooting arrows at him. Only after being shot with two or three arrows did Abbad -Allah be well-pleased with him- bow down to ruqu and then to sajdah and eventually complete his salat. He then informed his fellow guard Ammar -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

“Why did you not tell me when you had first been shot?” asked Ammar, somewhat astounded.

“I was reciting a surah of the Quran and I did not want to break my salat before completing it,” replied Abbad. “But when the arrows hit me one after another I stopped reciting and bowed to ruqu. But by Allah, had there not been the fear of losing this spot whose protection the Messenger of Allah has ordered, I would have preferred death over cutting my recital of the chapter short.” (Abu Dawud, Taharat, 78/198; Ahmad, III, 344; Bayhaki, Dalail, III, 459; Ibn Hisham, III, 219; Waqidi, I, 397)

The Companions led a life within the Quran’s content. For them, each pillar of Islam was an insatiable taste. Each revealed ayah was like a feast from the heavens. All efforts were channeled to the aim of properly understanding and living the Quran and of setting the best example in regard. How great a portrait of virtue and testimony of an enthusiastic iman it is that, as mihr or dowry, a female Companion would only require her soon-to-be husband teach her the parts of the Quran he knew.[16]

The Companions took the enthusiastic effort of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- towards the Quran as example and as a result the small town of Medina became filled with huffaz and scholars.

Factors that Directed the Companions to the Holy Quran

a. They were an unlettered society, never having come under the influence of a foreign culture. They were therefore able to focus all their intellectual and spiritual attention on the Quran. As a result, they produced a crowning culture; a culture which prevented injustice and oppression and acknowledged the right to life of every single creature on Earth.

A spiritual life of Islamic sensitivity is necessary for any human being. Only a superb spiritual blend could bring about beautiful cultural and artistic expressions and provide breadth and depth to contemplation. And only then can society raise men of the caliber of Mawlana Rumi, Sinan the Architect, Fuzuli the Poet and the likes.

b. Because the ayat of the Quran were gradually revealed, it made their memorization, practice and spiritual digestion of it easier. It provided the generation of Companions to undertake a gradual learning program.

c. That reciting the Quran during salat was made necessary meant that the Companions were continuously instilled with the Divine Word and that resulted in an increased bond. They were especially under the constant influence of Surah al-Fatiha, repeated at every rakah in a salat.

d. To make sure of that their judgments were correct and their deeds were accepted, they took lessons from the parables of the Holy Quran.

The Entire Humankind has Admired Them

Such was the Asr-u Saadah, the Age of Bliss that the Holy Quran generated in a very short amount of time. The entire world has since watched that unique generation behind admiring eyes.

If the entire psychologists, sociologists, pedagogues, social-anthropologists, philosophers and social engineers of the 21st century were to join forces, could they ever be able to train and raise just a handful of human beings of the blend of an entire society like that of the Companions?

The Quran and the Sunnah, which effectively brought about the Asr-u Saadah, still retain their liveliness, influence and applicability to this day. Societies that have clung onto Islam have always flourished while those who have abandoned it have perished. After examining Islam’s principles of justice and freedom, La Fayette (d. 1834) has in fact felt obliged to pay homage to the Blessed Prophet –upon whom blessings and peace- in admiration:

“O you magnificent Arab! No matter how great your praises were they would not suffice; for you have discovered the very notion of justice!” (Kâmil Miras, Tecrîd-i Sarîh Tercemesi, IX, 289)

Islamic Morals are Practical, not Theoretical

Islam’s aim is not to put forward an ordinary moral theory concerning various moral issues or to engage in a moral philosophy detached from everyday life and enter debates just for the sake of satisfying inquiring minds. Much rather, Islam’s aim is to respond to the moral needs of human beings by offering practicable remedies and to provide them with an opportunity to become conscious of what personal mistakes they may have and, in time, to set themselves right. Islam desires the transferal of its moral principles to life, in the best and most dependable way possible. Not only does it aim for a morality that is “known” but also for one that is “practiced”. Following straight after the first few ayat commanding the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- to “read” were those that ordered him to prohibit others from evil; and that fact alone deserves a thought.[17]

In contrast, the ideas put forth for the sake of establishing social peace and stability by philosophers whose minds never received the training of Divine Revelation, have more often than not never been able to go beyond the books they wrote, consigned the dusty shelves of libraries. As for those that have enjoyed some degree of practice, their lives have been short lived. Besides, these philosophers have been never able to practice what they preached in their own lives, let alone having a lasting influence on others. Hence, their ideas have always remained theories.

For instance, although Aristotle is known to have laid down certain principles of moral philosophy, because he was distant from Divine Revelation, we have never been able to witness a single person who has believed in his philosophy, practiced it and found happiness through it. Again, even Farabi’s most important work al-Madinatu’l-Fadila, which contains his ideas of a perfect town and society, have never enjoyed the privilege of being practiced. These ideas were never able to beyond the lines of the book and have served no practical benefit apart from filling the appetite of hungry bookworms that feed on paper. Simply, they were not ideas preached through practice; nor were they ideas based in Divine Revelation fitting with the Will of the Almighty. “According to my own opinion”, is what philosophers say, whereas prophets say “according to the command of the Almighty.”

Briefly said, the Almighty again showed His eternal might by revealing to an unlettered Prophet the greatest knowledge of morality more than sufficient for the well-being and benefit of entire humankind. By allowing the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to put this great moral depth into practice through his quintessential character, the Almighty has furthermore shown just what His desired model of a human being is, for all eyes to see.

[1]       See, Al-i Imrân, 26; an-Nur, 33.

[2]       Bukhari, Wasaya, 9; Muslim, Zakat, 97.

[3]       al-Insan, 9.

[4]       See, el-Baqara, 221.

[5]       See, al-Kahf, 28.

[6]       See, an-Nisa, 59.

[7]       See, Bukhari, Adab, 27.

[8]       See, al-Mâida, 2.

[9]       Ali Haydar Efendi, Dürerü’l-Hukkâm Şerhu Mecelleti’l-Ahkâm, Istanbul 1330, p. 11.

[10]      al-Baqara, 195.

[11]      Uqbah ibn Nafi was a man whose prayers were often accepted. Completing his conquest of Northern Africa, he then came and stood in the middle of a rough terrain, where the town of Qayrawan is found today. Back then, it was a densely wooded area, seething with animals of prey. After praying to the Almighty, he said aloud the following, three times:

“Beasts of the valley! Allah-willing, we shall settle here. So better you leave!”

Witnessed shortly thereafter was a magnificent spectacle. Moving out of their burrows and nests underneath the trees, snakes and other predatory animals alike, began to move outside of the woods, many with their cubs on their backs. Uqbah then descended into the valley with his men and told them to “…settle here in the name of Allah”.

Having witnessed this extraordinary scene, many of the local Berbers accepted Islam. (See, Dhahabi, Tarihu’l-Islâm, I, 601; Ibn Abdilbar, Istiab, I, 331; Ibn Kathîr, al-Bidaya, VIII, 45)

Proceeding forth in his conquests at the head of his army, Uqbah arrived camped at an arid place without water. So thirsty were his soldiers that they were on the brink of death, Uqbah thereupon offered a light salat and prayed. In the meantime, his horse was digging up the ground with its front hooves. There suddenly burst forth a spring of water from underneath it. Uqbah immediately called his soldiers, who digging the spot further, turned it into a well. They then drank to their hearts’ content. That spring thereafter came to be known as Mau’l-Faras, literally ‘Horse’s Water.’ (Ibn’ul-Asir, al-Kamil fi’t-Tarih, IV, 106)

[12]      Abu Khatib, Asmau’s-Sahâbah, 142a, Istanbul University Library, A. 1101.

[13]      See, Bukharî, Tayammum, 6.

[14]      Abu Nuaym al-Isfahanî, Târîhu Isfahân, I, 43; Ibnu’l-Asîr, Usdu’l-Ghabah,, VII, 25; Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 233

[15]      Munziri, at-Targhib we’t-Tarhib, Beirut 1417, III, 164/3506; Rudani, Jam’u’l-Fawaid, trns. Naim Erdoğan, Istanbul ts., V, 384.

[16]      See, Bukhari, Nikah, 6, 32, 35; Fadailu’l-Quran, 21, 22; Muslim, Nikâh, 76.

[17]      al-Alaq, 1-5; al-Muddaththir, 1-7.