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 a top 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, 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.