Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


 JAMADI-AWWAL / JAMADI THANI
JUNE 2004
Volume 17-06 No : 210

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Children's Corner


Abu Sufyan bin Haris

Prophet Muhammad's (Pbuh) Companions

Abu Sufyan bin Haris

A staunch enemy who turned the greatest of allies

Abu Sufyan bin Haris had two diametrically opposite facets of life. He was the number one enemy of Islam and the Prophet (Pbuh), to whom he was related as a cousin, in the earliest period of Islam. This facet spanned over 20 years. But as Muslims conquered Makkah, he sought pardon and became the staunchest of the allies.

His father, Haris and Abdullah, father of Prophet Muhammad were brothers. The Prophet, on whom be peace, and Abu Sufyan were of the same age and were friends all along their youth. They even had some facial similarities. They also shared another relationship as they had been fostered by wet nurse Halimah. But this camaraderie did not stand the test of time when the Prophet attained Prophethood. Abu Sufyan turned against him. Not alone this. He turned out to be the worst of opponents, feeling no qualms in writing some of the most sacrilegious couplets to down-grade the Prophet. When the Prophet migrated to Madinah and Makkans led an assault on him, Abu Sufyan would spare nothing to fuel the fire of hatred and enmity against the Muslims. But the impending conquest of Makkah forced him to seek asylum with the Prophet. The tale that hangs thereby is worth listening in his own words. He says:

When Makkah was about to be conquered and Islam was about to take everybody in its embrace, the earth shrank for me despite all its vastness. I told my family to get ready to leave Makkah as Islamic forces would not spare me. But my family counselled against leaving. They referred to my childhood camaraderie with the Prophet and asked me not to be insistent with paganism. They continued to invite me to Islam and ultimately I decided to embrace Islam.

I and my son Jaffer took out our horses and headed for the campsite of the advancing forces being led by the Prophet between Makkah and Madinah. I had disguised myself and presented myself before the Prophet. I lifted my veil at once. But the Prophet turned away his holy face from me. I went to the other side. But he again turned it away. This went on for some time.

This was unexpected for me. I had thought that the Prophet would be happy to see me entering Islam. Encouraged by the Prophet’s attitude, some of his companions began to criticise me for my past attitude. Abu Bakr, Omar, Ali and our common uncle Abbas, no one bothered to plead my case with the Prophet. One of the companions, Nayeeman bin Haris Najjari, who was more intense in his abhorrence, continued to shower unpleasant remarks against me. This was adding insult to my injury. Finally, Abbas came up with some consoling words. He assured me that he would personally plead with the Prophet at some opportune time. He said, the Prophet was extremely unhappy with my opposition against him and Islam. On Abbas’ counsel, Nayeeman stopped being critical against me.

Following this, I began to pursue the Prophet. Myself and son Jaffer would sit outside the tent wherever the Prophet went. But the Prophet continued to look equally disgusted, turning his face at my sight. I told my wife, we would continue to do the same, no matter if we met our death due to thirst and hunger.

But then the Prophet mellowed down. Once he looked at me with affection. I wished he smiled, but that was not to be. But it was a signal that I had been accepted, enmity forgotten and past forgiven. When the Prophet entered Makkah, I was holding the reins of his horse.

From then on, I decided to cast myself fully on the side of Islam, leaving no sacrifice asked of me. In the battle of Hunayn, I decided to either fall as a martyr or emerge as a warrior. It was a fierce battle. The Pagan army was large and armed to teeth. They trampled the Muslims in the first attack. Islamic forces were about to be defeated. I looked for the Holy Prophet who was encircled by the pagan troops. He was holding the reins of the Prophet’s horse on his right side. I jumped out of my horse and caught hold of the left side of the reins. I began to repulse the attack with the sword held in my right arm. The Prophet unable to recognise me in my battle dress, enquired about my identity from Abbas. When Abbas told about me and pleaded for my forgiveness, the Prophet pardoned me and prayed: “O our Lord! Forgive him for all the enmities which he had with me.” I kissed his feet and as hailed by Abbas, I led gathered the Muslim forces and launched a massive onslaught against the enemy. They were routed, their ranks were scattered and we chased them for nearly three miles.

Though Hunayn was won, Abu Sufyan never dared to have an eye- to- eye contact with the Prophet. He would cast his eyes down while in company of the Prophet. His days of enmity haunted him and he often expressed extreme sense of embarrassment when he remembered his past.

Once the holy Prophet asked his wife Ayesha if she knew Abu Sufyan.

When Ayesha said no, the Prophet said, this is my cousin Abu Sufyan bin Harith, who is always the first to enter the mosque and the last one to leave it. His eyes are always downcast, he never lifts his glance.

It was during the caliphate of Hazrath Umar Farooq that Abu Sufyan died. Three days before his death, he dug his own grave and counselled his kin not to cry at his death. He told them, ‘By Allah’s grace, I have not committed any sin since I have joined the fold of Islam.’Even as his voice dissolved into the air, he breathed his last.

(Translated and abridged by Maqbool Ahmed Siraj from Suwarum min Hyathus Sahaba by Egyptian Author Dr. Abdur Rahman Rafat Pasha).

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