Ammar bin Yasir was one of the early reverts to Islam and belonged to Banu Makhzum tribe. He was born in the year of Elephant in Makkah and was one of the intermediaries in the Messenger of Allah’s (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) marriage to Khadija bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her). His father Yasir (may Allah be pleased with him) was from Yemen and migrated to Makkah and settled down there by marrying Sumayya (may Allah be pleased with her), a slave woman. Earlier they were slaves to Abu Huzaifa, but upon his death Abu Jahl, one of the staunchest enemies of Islam took them over as slaves.
Ammar, aware of the extraordinary qualities and impeccable character of the Messenger of Allah, did not take much time to revert to Islam. One day Ammar came to the house of Arqam and saw a man standing at its door. The man’s name was Suhaib. Ammar asked him what he was doing there. Suhaib answered: ‘I’ve come to hear Muhammad’s words. And what are you doing?’ ‘I’ve come to hear his words, too.’ Then Ammar and Suhaib came into Al-Arqam’s House. They humbly began listening to Allah’s Words and to the Verses of the Holy Qur’ān. Ammar’s heart began to change. When Ammar and Suhaib wanted to leave the house of Arqam, the Messenger of Allah said to them: Stay here till the evening. He wanted to make sure that no one sees them as Quraish would hurt them.
Since then he regularly went to Darul Arqam (House of Arqam), where he began learning about the new religion and the commandments coming through the communications between Allah and the Messenger of Allah. It is also reported that the day Ammar reverted to Islam, his father Yasir saw a dream in which he found himself in a valley. On one side of the mountain there was a split and fire ran across it and on the other side of the fire was a garden where Ammar and Sumayya were standing and calling him to come over to the side of the garden. In his dream he crossed it. The dream turned out to be extremely significant as the same day Ammar brought with him the news of new religion and the revealed words of Allah in the form of Qur’ānic verses.
However as expected they had to bear the most brutal and barbaric tortures and persecution ever meted out to the Muslims just for proclaiming that their God is one and Muhammad is His Messenger. The poor and marginalised of the society were the ones who suffered the most and as Yasir and Sumaaya were the slaves to Abu Jahl, who was hell-bent on containing Islam and tried all possible means and measures to dissuade the Messenger of Allah from his mission. They suffered most at his hands and were eventually killed in cold blood for accepting the message of Islam. Their house was set on fire and they were beaten so badly that their cries were heard even in the far off places. Hence Yasir and Sumayya achieved the status of first martyrs of Islam.
Ammar faced no less persecution and the biggest of it was to see both his parents dying a painful death in front of his very own eyes. Ammar was tortured so inhumanely that he had to eventually, under duress, deny his faith and praise the idols. Though he denied his faith in Islam in front of Abu Jahl to save his life yet he was sinking under the feeling of guilt and to uplift his morale Allah revealed the verse of the Qur’ān which removed the feeling of guilt from Ammar’s heart. Following is the revealed verse: “Anyone who, after accepting faith in God, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from God, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.” (Surah Nahl – 106)
The relentless persecution by the Makkans ultimately led to the migration to Abyssinia and then finally to Medina. Ammar showed great zeal and love for his new-found faith and was very proactive in the construction of Masjid-e-Nabwi in Medina. While bringing the bricks for the construction every Muslim was carrying one brick at a time, however Ammar was carrying two in one go. Seeing this, the Messenger of Allah said, “They (the Muslims) will get one reward whereas you will get two rewards.”
Ammar was a good mix of piety and strength. He participated in all the battles along side of the Messenger of Allah and even valiantly fought the battles after his death. The Messenger of Allah also loved him and praised him on various occasions. Because of his outstanding virtues and character, the Messenger of Allah himself said, “Ammar was filled with faith from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.” The Messenger of Allah also said, “Ammar is with the truth and the truth is with Ammar. He turns wherever the truth turns. Ammar is as near to me as an eye is near to the nose. Alas! A rebellious group will kill him.”
In the wars post the first fitnah, Ammar always sided with Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and stood as one of the strongest supporters of Ali. He fought many wars and finally was killed in the Battle of Siffin. He died at the age of 90 and his funeral prayers were led by Ali.