Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz–e–kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
And, as I indicated earlier, the Ashaab (Companions of the Prophet) were no ordinary men and women.
Before Islam, they were all proud, self–respecting, fierce and free children of the desert, for most of whom their sword was their final arbiter and point of reference. And yet when they embraced Islam, they became such faithful followers of Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, that his merest wish became their most sacred and urgent command.
So complete was their personal devotion to him that not even a drop of water did they allow to fall to the ground when he washed his feet or face as he performed Wudu or ablution. They scooped it up and rubbed it on their faces and bodies.
When he read the Qur'an to them, they sat frozen as if birds were perched on their heads.
Just like I said before, some of the best of them seemed heartbroken that he would not permit them to throw themselves at his feet in prostration and prayer. Others readily fell to their knees in front of him – not a popular custom among the wild warriors of the endless deserts of Arabia – saying if a camel can do it, so can we.
Can’t we, they pleaded. No, he said firmly and sweetly as only he could.
Their devotion to him was so complete, so profound and so deep that when the enemy invaded them and they were forced to defend themselves, they defended him with their own bodies and warded off incoming enemy arrows with their bare hands.
And, in addition to all that, every single thing that they did in their lives, they did exactly the way he had either told them or shown them. He called the way he did things his Sunnat – his way – and they followed his way – his Sunnah – to the letter as well as in spirit.
So, who in history had more devoted followers or had more of them purely in terms of numbers during his own lifetime? No human being ever followed another human being so devoutly, so completely and so faithfully, either in form or in spirit or both, as the Companions of Muhammad, Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, followed him.
Is that miracle enough for you? Is that proof enough? Yes or no?
And yet what does he call them? Does he call them his “followers”? No, he simply refers to them as his “Companions.” Even though Almighty Allah in the Qur'an calls them his followers – Alladheenat–Taba–‘oohu – and tells him to tell them to follow him – Qul in Kuntum Tuhibboonallaha Fat–tabi–‘oonee – he himself tends to refer to them as “My Companions” – Ashaabee.
Here, take this proof, if it is really proof you want. If it is something else you want, then, may Allah help you. Those who came after his Companions, history and practice refer to as Taabi’een and Tab’taabi’een: meaning “followers” and “followers of followers.”
But for his own contemporaries, for those who were his most ardent and devoted followers in his own lifetime, history and practice use the most unique expression of its kind in the world, “Companions.” For, that is what he called them when he was among them.
Again, don’t forget that they were not just a few or a fistful of individuals – but a veritable mass of humanity that was the cream of the neighbouring Arab populations of the day: tens of thousands of men and women of all ages and social status of a living, tumultuous and virulent Arabia.
MIRACLE OF HUMAN EQUALITY
These were the men, women and children whose lives he had profoundly reshaped and remade throughout the length and breadth of Arabia. He accomplished all this at a time when there were no newspapers, no radio, no television, no film and no Internet!
Nor did he spend millions or billions of money to entice and bribe them. Nor did he hire armies of professionals to do propaganda, public relations or advertising for him.
The way he lived was so simple that his house did not even have a guard. The noble concept of human equality never saw a more glorious day under the sun than when Muhammad moved among his Companions – Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
When he sat down in a group among his so–called “followers” – his Ashaab or companions as he called them – he became such a complete part of them, and he was so indistinguishable from the least prominent among them, that an onlooker could not tell the difference.
Visitors and strangers, who did not know him from before, almost invariably ended up asking: “Which one of you is Muhammad,” Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam?
What a living miracle and what a practical proof of human equality this was – and continues to be to this day. For, even after the passage of 1400 years, that is how the Muslims of the world – this blessed and beautiful Ummah of Allah’s beloved Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – refers to them: The Sahaabah!
Sahaabah Kiraam: the noble Companions.
Radiyallahu ‘Anhum! That is how Allah put it in the Qur'an talking about them and that is exactly what the Muslim Ummat says about them to this day. If that is not a validation of the Qur'an in real life, what is?
This is yet another miracle. And this is yet another proof that this Qur'an is from God; that Islam is from God; and that this man Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is indeed the true and final messenger of God.
Not only that, Muslims themselves, to the extent they keep referring to the followers of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, as “Sahaabah” or “Companions,” become part of that ongoing miracle.
Muslims themselves become part of the living proof, in their own respective ages and places, of the truth of the mission and message of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam and the Qur'an and the Deen of Islam.
[Write to the author at Drsyedpasha@aol.com. Also visit www.IslamicSolutions.Com and Listen to Pasha Hour International.]